Keeping In the Game

Life has been busy so I haven’t been keeping up with the blog as I should have, so with a few minutes early this Saturday morning, I want to get some thoughts down on where I am at in my recovery, weight loss, etc.

Recovery:  I am finally feeling mostly back to normal.  I still feel some tightness from time to time in my hip, but it isn’t even on a daily basis at this point.  I do feel like I limp still when I am first getting up in the morning and a bit stiff, but others have reported to me they don’t really see a visible limp.  I am worried that my right foot is turning inward when I walk, but my surgeon at my last visit did not seem concerned.  It is nice to finally feel like things have returned to where they used to be.  I still struggle carrying heavy items and walking up the stairs without leaning on a railing, especially if I have something in both hands, is not easy.  But overall I am feeling very good.  It has been four and a half months.

Weight Loss:  I finished my 28 Fast Metabolism Diet down about six and a half pounds.  I tweaked it here and there:  didn’t stop drinking (though I definitely cut back), didn’t stop drinking coffee (let’s be real) and if I was out with family or friends, I didn’t get all “Oh, I can’t have this and I can’t have that.”  Instead I increased portions of the stuff that was on plan and had very small amounts of what wasn’t on plan.  

Since then I have been just trying to eat healthier and avoiding the bad stuff.  I am down about two more pounds over three weeks, which I am not happy with.  I am probably going to start another cycle of the FMD next week to kick start things again.  That being said, I do feel like I am on track and in the right mindset.  Even if I were losing a pound or even half a pound a week, I can live with that.  That’s how I gained the weight (ten pounds in a year) and if I lose it that slowly while still enjoying life, that’s OK with me.  It’s a marathon not a sprint.  

Exercise:  The doctors say I should still avoid running and any high impact exercise indefinitely.  So lack of cardio is probably not helping me lose weight.  I did join the local YMCA and have been there several times a week to do the stationary bike and the weight bearing machines.  I don’t love it the way I did running but I know I need to continue at least short term to get my muscles strong again.  I have also walked, both on the treadmill and outside, and I am up to two miles.  It’s a long way off of running miles and miles, and I finally just cracked 3mph, but I’m getting there.  I have attended one yoga class, and plan on going again once a week when I can fit it in my schedule.  The one class I went to really helped loosen up my hip and was really the start of feeling much more “normal” again.

Races:  I have one, possibly two 5Ks coming up in a few weeks.  Obviously I will walk them.  The first is the Vicki Soto 5K, which I have done every year since they started the race.  I couldn’t imagine not doing it, so I am signed up.  It will be my first “race” since my injury.  It will be bittersweet in so many ways, but it is a race where tons walk, so I won’t feel strange about it.  I have a second one a few weeks later, but I’m going to wait to commit until I see how the Vicki race feels.  I don’t want to be the last one across the finish line, and with my times still likely putting me at over an hour to finish a 5K (ugh) I don’t want to embarrass myself too much.  

Family:  I don’t talk much about my family here other than the occasional mention of how we’ve had a pretty rough year.  Right now things seem to be smoothing out a bit and I am very grateful.  It has been one horrible thing after another since last fall and so I am hoping that we’ve turned the corner.  We spend every Christmas in Florida, and I am hoping to go this year feeling healthy and happy.  

Working, Eating, Cooking…

So this week was my second week of work at school post broken hip.  Last week was a three day week, and this week was a four day week. Let’s just say I hit the sofa at 5pm yesterday and pretty much stayed there until this very moment right now (fifteen hours later).

I forget easily how far I’ve come.  Just two weeks ago, at Freshman Orientation, I hoofed around with a significant limp and a crutch in my car that I had just stopped using.  I was slow and sore.  With both exercises at home and formal PT, I have gained significant strength.  When I am well rested, I have hardly any limp at all.  I can stand for a whole class period.  I still am slow when I walk, but not as slow.  I feel stronger.  People are commenting that I am looking better.  

But progress always comes at a price.  These longer days with more standing and more aggressive PT have lifted me tired.  On Wednesday, I had sharp, shooting pains that woke me up overnight.  I am accepting that when I do more, I can do more….but I must recover and rest to keep those gains and not go backwards.

With work has come more planning to try and stay on (or close) to the new eating plan I am working on.  I am happy to say that I just started the third week of the plan and it feels like something I can stick with long term.  I am modifying it to fit in my lifestyle, which means I’m not dropping jaw dropping weight every week.  But you know what?  Two pounds is what I lost last week.  I lost three in the first week.  These are results I can live with, and if a modified plan is working for me and giving me results I like, and I can stick with that plan?  I’m in.  I am so happy to feel like I have finally gained some control over my eating and drinking.  

The basic tenets of the plan are that you eat different foods on different days, with some foods completely off limits.  Some days are more restrictive than others.  You can have most fruits only two days a week, although there are some that are good for five days.  You can only have nuts, avocados and oils on three days of the week.  Dark, green leafy veggies are always OK in unlimited amounts.  Never any corn or dairy (I have had small amounts of cheese and yogurt since I am still healing from surgery).  For the most part I have been able to find foods and recipes that work for every phase of the program.  When we have family dinners, it’s grilled meats and veggies, all of which are good most every day.  

Here are a few recipes that I want to remember for myself.  You’ll notice a lot of these are from Skinnytaste.  She has some great stuff!

Phase One:  Cucumber and Strawberry Salad (I omitted the nuts)

Phase Two:  Raw Cucumber Salad (For Phase Two you can eliminate the olives, tomatoes and oil…still very tasty.  I kept a very small amount of crumbled feta on top for flavor)

Phase Three:  Raw Zucchini Salad With Avocado  This recipe as written has edamame in it, which I skipped.  Herbs could be varied in this.

Spiralized Sweet Potatoes with Roasted Tomatoes:  I used the linked method to roast my spiralized sweet potatoes (Rosemary was my fresh herb of choice, plus red pepper flakes).  Ten minutes into the roasting I popped some cherry tomatoes in the oven tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Both were done at the same time, and I threw them all together.  The juices from the tomatoes coated the sweet potato noodles and it was insanely good.

I am still looking for some bigger recipes that include proteins.  For now we’ve done a lot of grilling and I’ve used foil packets in the oven for fish.  As I find more, I’ll record them here so I know where to find them!

What I loved about these recipes is that they reminded me that eating clean, low calorie, healthy food can be delicious.  I needed that reminder.  :)

It Is Time

So it has been a few weeks since I wrote about my life changing hip fracture and subsequent surgery.  It has indeed been a long road.  I am so grateful that the worst of it does seem to be behind me, and life is starting to get back to normal.

I have a few more weeks left of PT, which I am grateful for, because I still am not walking well.  I definitely have a limp with my right side, and I’m told it is due to muscle weakness.  The muscles had over two months of none or minimal use.  It has been nearly a month since my doctor said that I could start walking again, but it just wasn’t that simple.  At first I used one crutch on the opposite side from my injury, and still used the walker if we were doing any significant distance. But as I grew stronger I started walking without it.  I was sore at first, but as the days have worn on, that has gone down too.  The cliche of “I feel stronger every day” is bearing true.

Work started back last week, and it starting to finally feel like life is returning to normal.  The routine of it is exactly what I have been missing, not to mention the social aspect.  One of the harder parts of my recovery was the isolation of it.  While many people will tell you they are there for you, it turns out very few actually make the effort to do so.   

Unfortunately for me very little of my work clothes fit.  I honestly gained very little weight during my recovery; only about five pounds.  But, I lost so much muscle tone that everything loosened up and now very little fits.  And to be honest, I wasn’t happy at all with my weight at the point I was injured; I had gained ten pounds over the last twelve months, and another ten in the year before that, putting me a good 20 pounds above where I had been just two years ago.  

I spent the last month kind of floundering around trying to find direction in the weight loss department.  I was tracking my food intake on My Fitness Pal to no avail.  Since I still can’t do much in the way of exercise, my calorie budget is extremely small with nothing getting burned off.  I was over calories every single day I tracked.  It wasn’t helping.

Then a friend told me about the Fast Metabolism Diet.  She had been following it for nearly four weeks and raved on and on about it. She had lost 11 pounds in those four weeks and she was willing to share the knowledge she had built up about the program.  

I was a little unsure about it at first.  I had a vacation coming, so I told her to send me the stuff and I would start after the vacation.  I downloaded the app and looked around on the Internet a little.  It seemed mostly doable, but I wasn’t 100 % sold.  

Then I went away on vacation and managed to eat and drink so much that I gained four pounds on vacation, officially putting me at my highest weight ever, outside of pregnancies.  That was it.  Even if I didn’t follow the plan perfectly, I reasoned, it had to be better than what I was doing. 

So I started about a week ago.  I am mostly following it, with a few exceptions.  First, I am still having coffee.  On weekdays I am only having one cup, which is less than I had been drinking.  On the weekends I am allowing myself two, since I can compensate with more water intake.  I replaced the second cup of water with a second water bottle at work, so I am able to consume 48 ounces during a day at work.  This won’t work forever, but with my current teaching schedule it does.

Second, I am not cutting alcohol out entirely.  I had been drinking more than I should, that is definitely true.   I have scaled back to one or two most days, which sadly is a lot less than what I had been drinking.  It is a work in progress.  Ideally I will scale back a bit more each week.  

Other than those two things, I have been pretty good at following the program with no deliberate cheats (accidental ones, like not realizing zucchini isn’t a Phase 2 food have happened).  And even if I am not perfect, trying to get as close as possible is helping me remember the important things I used to know about weight loss:  eating real food, eating small portions often, drinking water, not adding artificial sweeteners.

I’m down about four pounds so far.  I am hoping that I can work with a modified version of the program long term so that I can continue to take off the twenty pounds I’ve gained in the last two years.  I’m hopeful about this for the first time in a long time.  I’m feeling like I might finally get back to a place where I like this body I live in instead of feeling like it has betrayed me.  

I feel like I am finally ready to start moving forward once again.


So….eight weeks.

The first week was a blur.  I was in the hospital for a few days after the surgery.  They were painful and degrading.  I still didn’t really know or understand what I was dealing with or how long the recovery would take.  I was holding onto hope that we were talking a four to six week timeframe on recovery.

Going home wasn’t easy.  I spent the first week on the sofa, timing out my oxycontin and knowing right when it was wearing off.  I couldn’t do anything for myself, and since I couldn’t do the stairs very easily, I couldn’t shower.  I had to have food brought to me on the sofa.  I could barely make it to the bathroom.  Friends visited and brought dinners, and my husband mostly worked from home.  I had visits from home health care service:  a nurse, an OT and PT.  It was a surreal existence.  I could barely lift my right leg without pain, and getting around consisted of hopping on one leg with a walker for balance.  My arms grew sore and my hands grew calluses.

I didn’t leave the house for anything for weeks.  I attended my son’s eighth grade graduation in a wheelchair, same for my daughter’s dance recital.  I went to doctor appointments and got blood drawn and had my bone density levels scanned.  The world, my world, became very small.  I watched as my friends and colleagues rushed around finishing up their school years, while I diligently tried to do my sets of PT exercises on the sofa.  It was very isolating.  Visits from friends dropped off as the weeks wore on and my injury became old news.  I became very lonely, and very depressed.

Summer started and the days grew warm, and I watched it all through the big picture window next to my sofa.  My surgeon explained that my injury was so severe that I needed a very conservative approach towards recovery.  At the eight week mark, I am still using crutches and a walker.  I still can’t put my full weight on my right leg, which means I really can’t drive much of any distance (slamming on the brake would mean putting more than 50 % of my weight on that right leg).  I am now doing outpatient PT, so that seems to be speeding up the level of strength and range of motion on my hip and leg.

But no one still really knows why this all happened.  All of my bloodwork came back mostly normal.  My bone density scans showed the same.  I’ve heard everything from necrosis on my femur to worn out shoes to being overweight as possible causes for my injury, but none of them are definitive.

The only thing that all of the doctors seem to agree on:  that I’ve run my last race.

With no real way of knowing why I broke my hip so significantly, there is no real way to prevent it from happening again.  That’s what they say anyway.  I agree with the logic, and don’t want to do anything stupid, but I still can’t imagine it.  I love running.  I love going out for a run early in the morning and just feeling that exhilaration of being outside, clearing your head, getting your heart pumping, and moving.  I love having that solid time to myself.  I love logging in my training plan runs and comparing the times, the distances.  And I really love pinning on a bib and running a race:  that feeling of pushing yourself, being with others who push you, and the community that brings you.

One of my proudest accomplishments has been doggedly learning how to be a runner.  Despite never being athletic, despite being overweight, I set out to do something I never imagined being able to do, and I did it.  Did it over and over and over until it became part of who I am.  The day I completed the NYC Half Marathon was one of my favorite moments ever.  Competing in two triathlons last year was something I never thought I could ever do.  I can’t imagine never doing any of those things again.

The loss of that person, the one who ran and did bootcamp and competed in triathlons, combined with the isolation of my recovery, has left me in a strange new world that I am struggling to navigate.  I don’t like being this sad person who is so negative and feels so melancholy all of the time.  A better person would use this time to reflect on who I am inside and find a silver lining.  Find the resolve to push on and be able to write a new story for myself with a different ending.  And maybe I will get there some day, and maybe that day isn’t all that long off.

But I am not there yet.  For now, I sit in my chair, looking out my picture window.   I watch the world outside; it keeps moving forward while I sit still, waiting.  Waiting for my hip to heal. Waiting for the day when I can walk again.  Waiting for my life to begin again.

The Day the Running Stopped Part Four: They Were Right

Spoiler alert:  the paramedic was right.

I was rushed into the hospital ER, whisked off to X Ray not that long after I explained my totally implausible story (“I hurt myself running a 5K”.  “Did you fall?”  “No.”  “A marathon?”  “No, a 5K.”).  It was probably less than an hour after I arrived that the attending doctor confirmed the paramedic’s speculation about a broken hip.

Even now, eight weeks later, I can’t even believe it.  It made absolutely no sense.  Over and over, the nurse, the doctor, the x ray techs:  “Did you fall?”  “That must have been a nasty fall.”  “What did you hit when you fell?”  But I didn’t.  I just ran.  A very normal distance on a very easy course.  I lay on the table in disbelief.

More blood, more tests before I was admitted and put on the wait list for surgery the following day.  The break, at the very top of my femur where it meets the hip, was clear across the whole top of the bone, and the top piece was “unstable”, meaning it had separated from the rest of the femur.  It would need to be surgically put back together with a rod and multiple screws.


A different kind of selfie than I was used to taking.

I asked if I had injured the bone more by walking on it for three days, ready to beat myself up severely for my irresponsible medical decisions.  The doctor told me that while I had definitely displaced the bone and made the injury more significant by doing so, I would have needed surgery regardless, even if I’d gone to the doctor on Sunday.  The diagnosis would have been the same as would have the surgery.  Just my pain and recovery time were now going to be much greater.  Awesome.

It took nearly 24 hours before they found a surgical opening for me, and a surgeon.  There was some back and forth with my husband about who to choose from the available options (“I don’t really want a hand surgeon operating on my wife’s hip”).  I was given an internal reduction (closing the wide open fracture) and fixation (holding it together with screws until it heals itself back together).  Apparently my surgery was “tricky” and “more complicated” than the surgeon realized just from looking at the scans.  Again, the disbelief.  How did I get such a tricky injury, such a severe fracture, just by running (and then walking on it for three days).

But disbelief had become reality.  It was all true, and each moment that the dream didn’t dissolve meant this was real, and it was happening.

I spent four days in the hospital.  I was given a walker to use.  It was a major challenge just to get out of bed and into the bedside chair.  Everything that you take for granted about living your life:  walking, showering, dressing, using the bathroom:  all of it was taken from me.  I needed help with absolutely every single personal care task.  I could feed myself but needed the food close enough to me to reach it.

Flowers in my hospital room.

Flowers in my hospital room.

The final day I was in the hospital was the day of the 5K I organize.  The previous year, I’d run it triumphantly, savoring every moment out on the course.  Watching people enjoy everything I’d helped pull together.  This time, I sat in my hospital bed, furiously checking my phone for updates.  Everything went off brilliantly.  I was proud and overwhelmingly sad.  My race has always represented how far I’d come:  someone who had never run, never been athletic, never felt like I’d fit in with those types of people had learned how to run, despite its challenges, despite my challenges, and learned to love it.  Learned to love it so much that I decided to take on the task of organizing a race.  And along the way I’d met wonderful, amazing people who loved running too.

And now here I was, missing it because I couldn’t even walk.  Couldn’t even get out of bed without help.  I had no idea how long the recovery would take, how painful it would be, how much my life would be altered.  I wanted to be one of those people that would see this moment as a wake up call, to take back my health, to claw my way back, to return stronger and braver and healthier than ever.  But in that moment, all I could feel was overwhelming loss and sadness.

That was eight weeks ago.  Eight weeks that feel like a lifetime and then some.

The Day the Running Stopped, Part Three: And the Hits Just Keep On Coming

I sat there, shaking and sweating, in my car, realizing that something was terribly wrong with me.  I couldn’t talk myself out of it any longer.  I couldn’t will it away or rest it away, I needed help and I needed it now.  My mind raced.  I needed a plan.  I called my husband and told him he’d need to take me to a doctor, or maybe the ER later that day.  I called my friends so they could run my bag stuffing party without me.  OK.  Plan in place.  I waited a few more minutes until my kids came out to the car and readied to drive home.

The kids got in the car, and I went to put the car in reverse.  I felt a strong pull as I moved my leg first over to the brake.  I gasped.  Holy shit.  I eased my leg up off of the break and screamed in pain.  “OK guys, we’re not going to be able to drive.”  I pulled back into the parking spot, shaking and sweating again.  I was officially scared.  I couldn’t even drive.  I asked my daughter to call my husband to come get us while I made a few more phone calls to get my obligations taken care of for the evening.

The principal and guidance counselor saw me in the car as they finished getting students on the buses and came over to me.  Did I need help?  I of course said no, as is my way.  I would be fine.  I couldn’t drive, but no worries, my husband was coming to get me and the kids.  They looked at me like I was crazy and summoned the nurse.  But I still was thinking that somehow I had this.  I would be OK.  I would just get a boot or something on my leg and I’d be fine.

The nurse looked very concerned as I explained that I couldn’t walk, and couldn’t move my foot to operate the car.  She opened the door and examined my leg and foot to be sure I was still able to move them and had circulation.  I was mortified.  These were my coworkers, and I was sitting in my car, with my children, unable to move.  I felt weak and stupid.  Why hadn’t I gone to the doctor sooner?  What was wrong with me?  Why was I in so much pain?

My husband arrived with crutches.  OK.  I would get out, get in the other car, and get on my way.  The nurse put the crutches in front of me and the counselor crouched down to help me move my leg.  I started to shift in the seat to leave the car and realized that now I couldn’t even move the leg.  The counselor offered to help me.

When he moved my leg, I screamed.  I had never felt pain like that, not even while giving birth.  Tears streamed down my face.

OK they told me, the worst is over.  I was standing now on the crutches.  All I had to do was hop over to the other car and then I could sit again.  I put my hands in place and readied myself.  And tried.

Again I screamed.  “I can’t do it,” I sobbed.  The pain was so agonizing I could not move an inch.  “I think I need an ambulance.”

Everyone was very calm.  I don’t know who called the ambulance, I think maybe the nurse.  The principal came out (my boss, also a friend).  Two more coworkers came out.  I wavered between crying and being absolutely embarrassed to have such a scene at my expense.  They helped keep me calm, they eased me down a bit so I wasn’t resting on just one leg, and after several long minutes, I heard the sirens from far away approaching.

When the paramedics arrived, the school nurse took the lead with them and went through my symptoms, my story and the duration.  They did a quick examination while I stood on the crutches before getting me onto the gurney (another scream from me, but at least no expletives).  I said good bye to everyone as calmly as I could with tears streaming down my face, in between gulps of air.  “I don’t think I’ll be at work tomorrow,” I tried to joke to my boss.  My husband said he would take the kids home and meet me at the hospital.

I watched the concerned faces of everyone as the ambulance pulled away, listening carefully as the paramedic called in my vitals and situation to the hospital.  He rattled off my respirations, blood pressure, dosage of the pain medication he’d just given me, and then his assessment of my problem.

“Possible fractured hip.”  WTF?

The Day the Running Stopped, Part Two: AKA In Which I Ignore All Common Sense

Several hours after I got home from my disastrous 5K, where I literally hobbled through the last mile, I felt a bit better.  I still couldn’t put a lot of weight on the leg, but with rest it wasn’t painful.  It was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, which for our family has always meant our little small town’s Memorial Day Parade.  Our daughter is in the band, and she marches in it every year.

I thought about staying home and resting.  I thought about maybe going to the local urgent care around the corner.  I debated with myself over and over.  And in the end, indecision won out.  I would go to the parade on my daughter’s crutches to keep weight off my leg.  I would rest on the sofa. I would have Monday to rest on the sofa.  And by Monday night, I should be much better.

I told myself everything would be fine.  If I willed it to be, it would be.  I had a big week ahead of me:  our town’s 5K was the following weekend and the last week before the race is always insanely busy.  We take delivery on donated items, we assemble the race bags (1000 of them!) , we have to prepare everything on the site the day before.  It is a huge undertaking.  I had no time to be off my feet and resting with that coming up.  I was sure I would be fine if I just took it easy for a few days.

By Monday night, I actually was feeling some better.  I stopped using the crutches and adopted a modified gait (read:  limp) that allowed me to walk mostly normally (or so I told myself).  I steeled myself for work Tuesday, popped an ibuprofen and my most comfortable shoes, and went on to work.

I work as a substitute teacher at our local high school.  This day I was in several different classrooms, walking all around our one story building.  I knew, perhaps, that this wasn’t ideal for me trying to move forward from this injury.  My iPhone told me I walked nearly two miles just in the course of the day.  By 1pm, I was sore and visited the nurse’s office for some ibuprofen.  They were busy enough to not really notice the strange walk I’d adopted.  I was relieved.

Tuesday afternoon I knew somehow in my head that my leg was probably going to need attention.  I enlisted my kids’ help in getting my race stuff for Sunday organized and out into the garage so that I wouldn’t have to haul it all up the stairs.  But I still resisted going to the doctor; I just couldn’t spare the time.  I was sure after another night off my feet and another stiff dose of ibuprofen that I would gradually feel less pain over time, and I would be fine.

When I woke up for work Wednesday morning, I was disappointed that I didn’t feel better.  I had been so sure that after eight hours off of my feet and some sleep that I would see an improvement.  My leg didn’t feel worse, but it didn’t feel better either.  I popped my ibuprofen and massaged in a soothing cream that a friend had given me.  I wondered how I would get through not only a day of school, but our race bag stuffing party that night.  I packed a bottle of ibuprofen in my school bag and the soothing cream.  Maybe I would have to double up doses today.

I could tell I was worse by 8:15 am.  I had been in a computer lab with students when I rose to stand from a sitting position and felt significant pain just to stand.  I tried to walk but my leg felt like it wasn’t in place.  I had to sort of hitch it a time or two to get it to work properly.  Once I had it in place I felt fine but the getting it there was filled with white hot pain.

Still, I had to get through the day.  I had three different teachers to cover, including one of my “regulars”, and I didn’t want to let anyone down.  I could not have been more relieved when I saw my last four classes were watching a movie.  I wouldn’t have to move around a lot, and it would give me the opportunity to rest.

In retrospect, I should have noticed things going slowly downhill.  When I went to heat up my lunch in the library, people asked what was wrong with me.  My limp, which I thought was just noticeable to me, was being commented upon right and left.  Each time I got up from a sitting position hurt worse and worse.  And the hitching I was having to do to get my right leg walking felt more and more like a “putting it in place”…in the back of my head I knew that couldn’t be good.  At the end of the day, I was relieved to close my classroom door and be done.  I was going to go to the doctor.  Enough was enough.  I would have to delegate some of my responsibilities and get my leg looked at.

I walked to my car and went to move it to the other side of the building.  My younger son was in the other wing of the school that housed middle school kids, and I normally picked him up there at the end of his day, about half an hour after mine ended.  I went to walk to the door of the school when suddenly I realized that I couldn’t really walk.  I was pulling my right leg with all of my might and it was incredibly painful.

The principal noticed and told me to wait in my car.  She would send my son out when the day was done.  I sent my older daughter in to fetch him and needed to walk about six steps back to my car.  I stood there, paralyzed.  I couldn’t move now.  Not without incredible pain.  I willed myself to get back to my car and shouted expletives as I hauled myself into the driver’s seat.

I realized, then, that everything was falling apart.  This was not something I could will away.  This was not something I could just go to my primary care doctor for.  I was going to have to stop everything and get to the ER.  This was serious.

I sat there, with tears streaming down my face, wondering what was happening to me.