Notre Dame Cathedral…la histoire, le futur, notre coeur

It is the morning after we lost so much of what made the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris a symbolic presence in our lives. Twelve hours later, I struggle with emotions and why this inanimate building feels like a significant loss to my life and to the world. Initially upon hearing a colleague say to me “Notre Dame is on fire”, my first question was “Montreal or Paris?” We quickly loaded up a live news feed and sure enough – there was Notre Dame in Paris on fire. Immediately upon seeing the large flames, I knew that the destruction would be catastrophic. I couldn’t stop watching the live news throughout my lunch hour.

After lunch, I went forward with my job – to teach French at an elementary school. I couldn’t bring myself to explain this loss to my students as I couldn’t yet grasp what I would say. I also couldn’t explain why I felt so strongly saddened by this loss. Was it because I am a French teacher and it represents a culture I feel strongly connected to? Was it because since I was a student of Grade 8, I fell in love with French language, culture, and history? Or was it because Notre Dame was one of the very first attractions my spouse and I saw on our first Europe excursion in 2016? Was I feeling the emotions of losing a piece of iconic history?

Part of my brain process reminded myself – this is just a building but yet it is so much more. Notre Dame Cathedral was built in 1163 and has survived the French revolution, 2 world wars. It is a strong symbol of Catholicism and French identity. Its foundation stone was laid by Pope Alexander the third. It is a piece of architecture that is indescribable as one must be able to see it to fully understand its magnificence. The cathedral has been a joy of imaginations of those who enjoyed the story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame which was also made into a children’s movie. Millions of visitors visit Notre Dame every year.

As someone who has seen Notre Dame inside and out, I find it a new challenge to express what it is that we lost. As I continue to teach about Notre Dame in my cultural units, it will be with a saddened heart knowing my students will never to get to see Notre Dame in the splendour that I once did. Yet, already within just a few hours of the tragic accident, we see the good of people – and already millions of dollars have been donated for the rebuild of Notre Dame Cathedral. I believe seeing how this building brought a world together yesterday to mourn in its loss of what it represented reminded me that humanity is still good and kind. In a world where we hear so much violence and sadness, in this one situation, we also saw beauty. Beauty of a world that understands what losing a piece of history means and that it is okay to feel emotions in that loss. So yes, Lady Notre Dame will live again one day and it will have new stories and new history. But the point of all of this is… she will survive. We will survive. When the world comes together in agreement instead of disagreement – how powerful we can be. The next step is taking that bit of commonality of a moment when we all felt the same heartbreak as we watched Notre Dame in flames, and remember to hold that value in how we live each day.

Personally, the accidental destruction of Notre Dame reminds me of my last year dealing with a serious injury. Both Lady Notre Dame and myself could not do anything to prevent what happened to us. Both of us have been through some rough patches in our past but always stayed standing. Yet, this one time, something so severe happened that was beyond our control and we both fell. Like myself, Notre Dame Cathedral will be rebuilt, but for us both, we will never be the same. We will have new outside and insides. We will perhaps be stronger. We will not forget what we lost but we will move forward to the future with new strength.

Hopefully, we can take this loss as a reminder to not take for granted the past, but also realize how much strength we have when we come together in a common place. 

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Barely running – journey back to running and to finding patience

Last year running would have been theain focus of my life. I lived for my days of training that included a run of any type – aerobic, intensity, hills. If it was running, I’d be excited for it.

Last week at physiotherapy when I was told I could start doing some outdoor running again, I was so excited initially. But then I was hit with a sense of fear and anxiety. What if my hip hurts? What I tear my labrum again (whether same hip or the other)? What if running isn’t good for me? What if I only ever hurt and exercise never feels good again?

But on Saturday last week, I layered up and said “runnies?” to my best friend and 4 legged running partner – a word she hasn’t heard since March 4, 2018. And we set off. It wasn’t easy but I enjoyed the 3k we did even with the run/walk intervals I have had to go back to.

The problem with my hip labral tear is that we don’t fully know the reason why I had it. The surgeon had thought it may have been a hip joint issue – that there was something on the hip joint that caused the tear. But when he did the surgery, nothing was wrong with the hip joint itself. So did the tear happen during the many hours of shovelling had done during a snowstorm? That’s when hip began to hurt. But I’ve been told shovelling isn’t a typical movement that would cause a hip labrum tear. Possible though. Or was it something that had already been happening due to running? Hip labral tears are a common (even if not well known) running injury.

I don’t talk about it much but I want a reason for this. I want to know what caused it so I can avoid it. I want to know the whys and the how’s. And even now, almost 5 months post op – it still haunts me.

Especially as I’m told it’s ok to start running again. But is it?

Each week I feel like I’m getting better, something else is bugging me. A few weeks ago, it was my knee. It hurts like heck – typically not during an activity but after and during just normal day walking around the house and such. Last week it’s the front of my shin. It has a sharp pain. My physiotherapist is amazing. She takes all my concerns seriously and I’ve learned that any small isn’t a small thing but important to share. I usually hate to complain. I don’t like to express how I feel or if I’m hurting. I hate admitting when I’m not doing well. But I’ve learned how to this past year. I still struggle admitting pain or when I can’t do something – but I am able to do even with a deep internal mental battle where I’m trying to convince myself I can.

My physiotherapist has always been compassionate, sympathetic, concerned, and patient in any small or big issue I have had. She works with me on it – gives me tools to help it. I often want an immediate fix but sometimes there is none. It just means time. I spent 4 months bedridden in pain before we were able to get the MRI to confirm the diagnosis that both physiotherapist and surgeon believed was a hip labral tear. After surgery, I was on crutches and mostly in bed for another 4 weeks, before progressing to 1 crutch for 2 weeks but still resting a lot in bed. My whole body, not just my left hip, has been through the wringer this year. My mind too. There is a lot of work to put back in to get me back to just functioning as pain free as possible. It’ll take that much more work to get me back to where I was athletic wise before this injury happened.

On Thursday, I went to my Conviction Fitness workout and was so excited to see kettlebell snatches in the daily WOD. The first 3 rounds felt amazing – I didn’t know if I’d even remember the movement but it came back like riding a bike. In the 4th round, something in my hip stabbed. I’ve been learning how to listen to my body – and to not let all pains freeze me into stopping what I’m doing. So I stopped, shook my hip out to loosen it up. Thought it felt ok. Positioned myself to try again, and one snatch in – same pain returned to my hip. So I stopped and asked my coach if I could do another movement instead. He asked “what’s wrong?” And I explained and he said “I say just stop. You don’t have to jump back into everything all at once. Sometimes it’s ok to just do what you can and stop.”

Again. Patience. I want to hit the ground running, push through the pain and just be who I was athletically before this. But that’s not what’s going to get me back to where I was. In fact, it’ll do the opposite.

After my Saturday run, I was sore so I didn’t jump immediately into a run on Sunday. I also got hit with a flu early hours of Monday morning. So I didn’t force it. On Wednesday, I felt way better and excitedly prepared for another run – thinking I’d do a 5k. I had a terrible run. Every step felt like I was fighting to move. My calves were angry. It’s now winter in Saskatchewan and winter running is not easy. I wore my grip tractions over my running shoes and that was great from my house to the park on the snow covered roads. Once I hit the park, the running paths were actually clear and the metal of the grips on asphalt seemed to jar my hip and my body more than it ever has in the 4 years of winter running I’ve done. It never bothered me before and made more sense to wear them for the sections that needed them than to not wear them and slip when I hit a bad section. Especially this year – I can’t risk a fall!

Throughout the whole run I wanted to cry. Something I used to enjoy seemed to have lost its spark. I slowly also became angry. Angry that this injury happened. Angry that everything seems to be a challenge. Angry that when it seems it’s getting better, something happens that reminds me it isn’t all easy. Angry that I can enthusiastically agree to do every event or activity presented to me. Angry that the cold winter hurts me more than it ever as. Angry that my calves were hurting. Angry that this took so long to get back to running.

I returned home angry.

I think under the surface for most of this week, I was angry. But after hearing my coach on Thursday and his comment “you don’t have to jump into everything fully right away” and hearing physio on Friday say similar things “you’re doing amazing but you have to give yourself time and patience”.

I am a giving person – except to myself. But I have to learn to be. I may be barely running right now but by learning to allow myself time and that it’s ok that I can’t do it all right now – I will be running again and loving it. I will be able to do more events with my Conviction Fitness team. I will be able to find a race (or 2) that I can do to fall in love (again) with the athletic person I’ve become.

Barely running.

For now.

That’s ok.

One day, I’ll be running again and I’ll be reminding myself that once I was barely running. And I’ll make sure to pause, breathe, and ask myself what am I doing each day to make sure I remember this new patience with myself I’m learning so that barely running isn’t forced due to injury but just a choice I make when my body needs to rest.

I used to love that quote that “a bad run is better than no run at all”. I don’t love this quote anymore. Forcing a bad run means you’re not listening to your body. Perhaps when your body is telling you not to run it’s time for a rest day or perhaps another aerobic activity you enjoy ( I like walking, swimming, the stationary bike and rucking).

This I do know now. Barely running is better than no running. And if I push it, I could find myself back to the point where running wasn’t even an option. I won’t take this gift of running and of learning patience that I’ve been given again.

Tomorrow is Sunday. What I used to diligently refer to and practice as long run Sunday. Perhaps I’ll wake up and my body will have no pain in the calves, knee or hip. Maybe I’ll lace up the running shoes and try a run. Or maybe I’ll wake up and feel just a twinge and decide to go for a ruck or walk instead. I’m learning that it doesn’t matter what the activity is I do. What matters is I’m getting up every day and I’m doing something active to strengthen myself that I feel capable of being able to do. That is patience. And that is what will get me from barely running to running again.

“I hate swimming”

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. The rehab for this hip surgery for a hip labral tear has been time consuming. If you wanted to keep more up to date, you can check me out on @jessirv04 on Instagram. I try to post not just good but the bad – to be an open book.

Overall my progress is going well. It comes with bad days as well as good. I’m progressing better than originally expected. I am still off work but this week my physiotherapist said we can start returning me gradually after Remembrance Day long weekend. I am a Core French teacher who teaches room to room off a travel cart so we want to build me back up to full time. I’m excited to be getting into more of a routine.

This week marked 17 weeks (4 months) since my surgery. Sometimes it feels so long ago but also sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday. Last week, physio started to give me exercises to build me back up into running. I am also trying to make an effort to swim more. I’ve been told this is such a positive thing to do. I still remember even when I was told I could swim and my first thought was “hell no. I hate swimming.” But wanting to make rehab the best possible and to be able to progress to the fullest possible outcome, I knew I had to ignore my mind. So I’ve been going though not as routinely as maybe I should.

It was easier when I was only allowed to walk in the water but once it was upgraded to swimming laps, I hit a wall. I had forgotten how to swim! I can’t afford lessons on disability and I could breast stroke and back crawl. But for some reason something was missing in my front crawl. I couldn’t do it. I would start and end up sputtering about 5-6 strokes in. I had lost the rhythm as I had allowed swimming to become non-existent in my life. I haven’t swam laps since I was 11-12.

So instead of sharing this, I stopped going. I would make a plan to go, pack a bag, and when it came time to go – I wouldn’t. I was embarrassed. Last week, I told myself that would change. I would keep going and figure out the problem. So I went and same issue. Frustrated, I finally vented to my boyfriend and he was able to help. The problem? I was trying to take a breath every stroke! I forgot it was t every stroke. He told me he remembers he picked every 3 strokes. I may have to pick one better for me but that information gave me the tools and motivation to try again.

So I went yesterday. I went to the 8am lane swim at a nearby leisure centre. There is only about 5 elderly people that go and since they prefer to do their walking and swimming with the width of the pool instead of length, the lifeguards don’t set up lanes. They offered to set one up for me but I said – heck, I can do width too. It’s still swimming! I got in and began. Being the only one under the age of 70, none of the other pool users had really talked to me.

I smile at them and nod but never initiate. One, I’ve been embarrassed as they have watched my struggle the past 5-6 weeks, without saying anything. Yesterday, I did the same. Smile. Nod. Goggles on. Start Garmin. And I started swimming front crawl with my boyfriend’s new information. And what do you know? I can swim. I still didn’t feel the most graceful and it wasn’t easy. I even became very grateful the daily lane swim users at this pool have made it possible to do the width of the pool instead of the length. But even though it wasn’t the best graceful swim, I was swimming! If I don’t quit, I can improve on that.

Towards the end of my planned 30 minute swim, one of the elderly woman was leaving and needed to cross my path. So I stopped and said go ahead as I could tell stopping and waiting would be harder for her. She crossed and got to standing level, she turned with a smile on her face and said “I’ve been watching you and you’ve never given up. And you’re actually a really good swimmer.” Well, I think she was exaggerated a little but that comment made all the struggle worth it. It made me realize how easily I could have quit and never heard that comment. I even learned that this woman had also been through hip surgery recently – hip replacement which is different and actually easier than hip arthroscopic surgery but still common ground. She said swimming doesn’t come easy to her but that I had been motivating her to keep coming back even if it felt uncomfortable. So I’ll be back. And even after I “graduate” from physiotherapy, I’m going to keep going back. Maybe not as often but swimming is going to become at least a once a week exercise for me.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I am starting to even find swimming fun.

Hip Labral Tear Post Op Days 11, 12, & 13 – July 7, 8, & 9, 2018

Been a bit off my game over weekend. Things are ok – pain is better, nausea is off and on but still improving (just not gone yet), but fatigue hits still. Plus with Brad going back to work this week – just wanted to spend time with him too, plus was dealing with some anxiety about it.

Post Op Day 11: Saturday, July 7, 2018

– had nausea hit the night before so was up late until it settled. Finally thanks to gravol and an audiobook, I finally drifted off around 1am.

– I slept all morning until noon

– woke up okay but ready for ice – just an deep ache

– just relaxed all day. Started a new series on Netflix I like. It’s called “FBI Criminal Pursuit”.

– did physio exercises

– Brad was on call for his work and got called out mid afternoon . He had planned to do dishes, set up my new stationary bike, and cook pork souvlaki for a Greek souvlaki salad for supper.

– I actually did dishes using a stool to rest! Took a long time, almost 2 hours, being on crutches. No dishwasher and so many dishes piled up, it took time to wash a bunch, dry the rack to empty it, and then put them away (using my crutch bag in many trips to various cupboards).

Clean kitchen, supper ready, trusty rusty stool

– even made supper! Again, easy supper took me some more time than usual.

– nausea returned in evening and kept me up until 4am until gravol and audiobook helped me doze off again.

Post Op Day 12: Sunday, July 8, 2018

– slept in until almost noon. Even Ginny didn’t wake us up for her usual 6:30-9am bathroom break. Must have known mom had rough night.

– we had an extremely lazy day. I watched the new FBI series on Netflix.

– pain was remarkably reduced and I went down to just 1 pill of my pain medication for all day until bedtime. Nights still seem to bring in a good stab of pain – probably from just even the few movements I’m doing. (prescribed 1-3 pills every 4 hours. Did 3 every 4 hours surgery day and post day 1. Went down to 2 post op day 2 and that’s been enough minus a handful of times I needed one extra). This was exciting as before surgery, I was regularly on 2 every 4 hours and it was not helping the pain anymore the week before surgery.

– Hot dogs for BBQ

– Brad set up the stationary bike and I tried getting on using crutches and not putting weight on left side. It wasn’t easy but I did it. Tried peddling it and it worked great but didn’t push it as was sore by now. End of day is always tiring and more sore and achy. We have it in living room for now, and once I am able to easily do stairs, we can put it in basement.

– I crashed by 1am.

Post Op Day 13: Monday, July 9, 2018

– I set alarm for 8am. Brad goes back to work today and I wanted to make sure I showered before he left just in case. Getting in and out are still slow. I can do it myself but if I drop a crutch or a towel or slip… just safer to make sure I shower before he goes to work.

– I felt decent. Had nausea but very mild. It passed quickly.

– fatigue hit again. I thought I’d fall asleep for a nap around 10:30 but just as I drifted off, phone rang. Of course. I couldn’t sleep after that.

– After lunch, I decided to get myself outside. Been wanting to but scared as a lot of work as I have to make sure I have everything I need so I don’t have to get up. Means using a backpack as crutches means no hands. Make sure I use bathroom before I go outside so I don’t have to come inside. Even took ice wrap with me as I knew it would help. Still aiming for surgeon’s recommended 8-10 times a day of ice – cold therapy. It felt soooo good to be outside with Ginny again. I threw her the ball (yay for chuck it stick so I don’t have to bend for it) and just enjoyed the hot sunny (windy) day. Spent about an hour out there.

– this outdoor session exhausted me. I came in. Got new ice and crawled back into bed. Netflix rest of afternoon.

– still was able to do 1 pain pill every 4 hours until around 7pm, I needed 2. A storm rolled in and I was packing a bag in case it got bad. A storm west of us had a tornado so I didn’t want to get cut off guard on crutches. But it was short lived and only thunder, lightning, and rain.

– Brad came home just as the storm started. I survived my first day alone. He made supper and I’ve been completely exhausted. Sore and achy. I was going to try my first 5 minute bike session but the way I’m feeling, I don’t think it’s wise. Physiotherapist cautioned me to listen to body so I am trying. Maybe I’ll get on it before Brad goes to work tomorrow morning. It’s only 5 minutes.

– the physical therapy exercises sent home by hospital PT have been going fine. My leg seems sooo stiff even with doing these. But I’m doing them. I had switched to some episodes of The Office on Netflix so it’s on in the background of these videos.

– it’s 10:20pm and I think I’m off to sleep early for change. I’m completely exhausted. But it’s a good exhaustion in some ways too. I got up at a decent time, no nap (though I tried), got outside, did physio.

I really gave up on nutrition this weekend. I didn’t care anymore and Brad brought ice cream home one night and then we decided to do hot dogs. I think my nausea has passed enough that I do want to get back on track. I’ve been decent – eating my healthy freezer meals too but the nausea has left me so ill that I could only seem to eat a muffin and supper every day. But I know getting back on track to my usual nutrition, I will feel better too. This will be a big task as it’s more prep work (cutting veggies, blending smoothies, warming up my eggs and veggies freezer meals instead of just grabbing a muffin) but I’m going to try.

Hip Labral Tear Post Op Day 9&10 – July 5&6, 2018

Post Op Day 9: Thursday, July 5

Not a great sleep – kept waking up. I woke up at 6am with nausea again so I had some apple juice and took my medications and gravol, along with first ice of the day way earlier than I normally start with ice. I put on my audiobook and feel asleep until 9am. I woke up feeling a bit better and got breakfast and came back into bed. The bed seems to be the only really comfortable spot for my hip right now. I still had a foggy fatigue and I fell asleep again until noon.

I spent the afternoon watching Netflix. I also had groin and hip pain pretty bad for first time since surgery. Not sure if I overdid moving the day before or if I accidentally bent too far somehow. It scared me as I hate feeling pain – thinking surgery failed. I just kept telling myself to not stress and take it super easy all day. I even took a day off my physio with the extreme pain I had with any movement.

My new stationary exercise bike was delivered around 5pm – so excited for it. Brad will set it up sometime this weekend. I already asked my physiotherapist about duration and I was thinking maybe 2 short sessions of ten minutes. She told me one session of 5 minutes. I was a bit shocked but I’m going to listen. She emphasized that I still rest – like she knows how much I want to get moving again. I also ordered some resistance bands.

Local football game was on and Brad forgot to take out the freezer meals we needed so we ordered shakes and burgers from a shake shack. Skip the dishes app is amazing – so many restaurants use it now. My team won too!

I didn’t nap yesterday after sleeping most of the morning. I felt close to wanting to but managed to stay awake and I actually felt tired around midnight. I threw on an audiobook as I was still hurting but it helped me drift off to sleep.

Post Op Day 10: Friday, July 6

I actually woke up at 9:30am this morning with no nausea and even some of my old morning energy I used to have. So I made my healthy freezer meal breakfast of eggs and veggies. I watched Netflix and did my first rounds of ice for my hip. I had a nice shower around lunch time – all Brad has to do for me now is put on the suction handle onto the shower wall. I am able to get myself in and out – I use a crutch for balance. I’ve learned to make sure crutch does not go on bath mat outside of tub or it slips. I get right leg in first and then, thanks to a tip from Brad, I lift my left leg at the knee behind me and holding the suction handle on shower wall with right hand and my crutch outside of tub with left hand, I can get my left leg over the tub wall with minimum pain. Once in I can reach the handheld shower head without reaching and the taps without bending. Just barely – if either were even half an inch further, I’d need more help with showering. I’m so thankful for the shower chair. Standing for a long period of time with only putting weight on one side of body is very hard on your good side of the body. Getting out is harder. I grab crutch I leave outside of tub but near shower. I hold onto the suction shower handle – lift left leg back at the knee, but it’s harder because I have to bring left leg out first. It’s hard to not put weight on the leg while getting right leg out. I try to make sure weight is mostly on crutch but still not easy. But it works.

After showering, I had lunch and was watching Netflix. All of sudden I was hit with fatigue, nausea and a headache. It got really bad – I took a gravol for nausea but didn’t want to take anything for headache with already on aspirin to avoid post op blood clots and pain meds. I drifted off to sleep until Brad woke me up at 4:30.

The teacher that took over my French teacher position at my school wanted to cook a meal for us as a thank you. She said it was to thank me for helping her but it was really her that was amazing!

Now in pyjamas and watching Netflix. Im really hoping to get some thesis reading in soon, and maybe even begin to do more Core French unit planning but I’m trying to be patient with myself.

The pain today is immensely better than yesterday. I can’t seem to have a day without either pain, nausea or fatigue but I know my body has been through a rough ordeal and the medications I’m on now aren’t helping. Soon I’ll be back to working, thesis and workouts so trying to tell myself to enjoy this little lounge vacation. My body feels better when I listen to it so I’m going to keep following its cues.

We hit a heat wave today – humidity makes it feel like 40 degrees Celsius. I may try to go outside tomorrow for a few moments.

Hip Labral Tear Post Op Day 8 – July 4, 2018

Happy Fourth of July to all my American followers! Just a regular day here in Canada.

I woke up today – with no nausea! First day since surgery. It felt like a 60 lb sandbag was lifted off of my shoulders – sorry Spartan reference for you. I so wish I could carry a sandbag right now.

I had to get up and shower by 10:30 today as our landlord was coming to do some yearly odd jobs and check of house. We rent our home. Her husband patched the roof and we’ll be most likely getting a company out to do a professional job. Living on the west edge of town has its downfalls – Saskatchewan is so windy and wind always seems to come from the west and it has taken its toll on the roof for sure. They also fixed the deck for us – it had becoming warped as it was built properly before. We may also get new windows done this year. Our landlord is beyond amazing and we love renting from her. I didn’t have to do anything but just wanted to be showered in case they were in and out of the house but they barely bothered us at all.

I had my first protein smoothie since June 18. They told me to stop drinking them along with other supplements before surgery. After surgery, the nausea was so bad, I couldn’t stomach the thought of one so didn’t bother to try.

Hemp seeds, chia seeds, banana, spinach,

Landlord and husband were here most of day and I mostly just watched Netflix. Considered doing some thesis work but I’ve been so miserable with the nausea that I decided to just give myself another day or two to just chill.

Did my physio today and was better again. Hip had some sharp pain in evening – think just from movement and maybe bended a wee bit too much by accident grabbing grapes from fridge. Even was hard to get comfy in bed tonight.

Was a dull, non exciting but good day overall. Landlord was here too long so we didn’t get Ginny to vet as they closed before landlord left. Brad will do it tomorrow – she seemed better today but I know ear infections don’t just go away. We don’t like her to hurt so maybe it’s just ear wax but they can’t tell us if something is wrong so we’re just going to be sure instead of sorry.

I sent a message to my physiotherapist and told her about the upright bike we bought and she is okay with me trying it like post op notes said I could on day 7-10. She said only 5 minutes though – I’ll take it. It’s supposed to come tomorrow and hopefully Brad has time to put it together. Excited to do anything active even if short and not my favourite.

This quote below is so true … but even my physiotherapist warned me to be slow today. I think she senses my excitement over the small improvements but doesn’t want me to overdo it. But I am being very smart about this injury – it was too long and too hard to just rush back and hurt myself. I’m probably going to struggle more with being over cautious than being impatient. As much as I’m excited to try the upright bike, I’m scared too. But I just have to find the balance of overcoming fears in a safe slow way in my recovery and rehab.