Scars & Souvenirs

Note: Some photos of my surgery scars – but I only share ones that are not excessively graphic!

Yesterday I returned to the pool. I’ve been approved to for a few weeks but I had a few obstacles: getting my car going again, becoming more steady (with a cane) to be able to handle driving and going out on my own, the recent disastrous increase of Covid cases in my community (many cases are the variants and it’s putting a strain in hospitals), shame for the surgery weight gain, the scars left on my leg from surgery, and the stares I’d get for using a cane at 36.

Post Op Surgery Scars – February 9, 2021 (10 weeks/2.5 months post op)

The car was fixed (needed new battery), the snow and ice melted, and I was more steady and comfortable in driving and going out without help. But I was still hesitant. A lot of the hesitation was due to not wanting to put myself at risk for Covid and also trying to determine if swimming was a necessary outing or one I could omit to help my community reduce the spread of cases. I talked to my local YMCA and my physiotherapist. The current protocol in the pool and the Y made me feel very safe in going to the pool and that swimming wouldn’t be an unnecessary risk. My physiotherapist also strongly believed it would be immensely helpful in my recovery and my progress. Yet, when I put on a bathing suit, I saw my reflection and at first, I did not recognize the woman in the mirror.

First time back in a bathing suit. 4.5 months post op.

Now, I’m not a vain person. I am the woman who stopped using make up 7 years ago because I liked the woman I was without makeup and always felt more comfortable without. I’m the woman who lived in an excessively overweight body for most of my childhood, all of my teen years and most of my twenties. I’ve learned to live in a body I didn’t feel comfortable in and to still dress and style myself to be comfortable for me, not others.

However, a huge part of me wanted to use multiple excuses – Covid, using a cane, all the other physio I’m already doing and justifying it as enough, wait until I lose some weight – to not return to swimming. But I forced those thoughts back, threw on pants and a hoodie over my suit, I grabbed my swim bag, I drove to the YMCA, I got out of my car, made it to the change room, and I got myself into the pool.

The swim felt amazing!

First post op swim

I did receive some stares and some even asked – and I just shared my story and I found so many were supportive and one person said to me: “If you can come back to the pool from all of that, and be here even with a cane and scars, then I have no excuse to come back tomorrow either.” So when I came across the quote: “I would rather have a body full of scars and a head full memories than a life of regrets and perfect skin.”, I really understand what that meant.

The body full of scars is both physical and mental scars. This journey is not just a physical battle but it is a mental battle almost every hour. Some days I have to really convince myself to complete a physio task as I’m so exhausted physically and mentally. The weight gain has been a major mental challenge with myself. I worked hard to lose the weight I did over 3 years and I worked hard throughout the before surgery, during surgery and after surgery to eat healthy and do what I could to manage it – but unfortunately not being able to do the high intensity of training I used to, the weight has crept back on – very nearly to where I was when I began.

Yes, I could take all of what I’ve been through, the setbacks I’ve had, and the losses this journey has created and fixate on it to a point of a major depression. And trust me, I have been near there – I won’t sugarcoat it. This. Is. Not. Easy. And to accept and face it every day takes an emotional toll. So I tell myself take each task one at a time. Take each hour by hour, each day by day.

So, with swimming I focused on step by step. First I called to ask about Covid protocol. Next, I packed my swimming bag. After, I booked a swim time. Then, I put on my bathing suit followed by throwing on clothes. By putting suit on at home, it reduced the anxiety of getting changed in change room both due to my weight gain and my scars, and I could have less excuses to leave the change room and not get into the pool. I still had to shower and change after the swim, but it was getting into the pool that would be the challenge as after, you have no choice but to shower and change – especially in Saskatchewan when winter returns – there’s no way you can just leave in your wet suit!

Shorts weather… my top 2 scars are covered but the middle scar (the worst one) and one my knee show.

So, I am battling a body full of physical and mental scars. But I will have memories of how hard I fought this whole journey. My goal isn’t to look perfect, act perfect, or have perfect skin during this setback or even after it. But when I look back, I hope I can say I didn’t have regrets with how I dealt with what I was given. I still aim to get back on track with my weight loss journey and to get back to as many activities I used to do before this. My priority is returning to teaching, followed by being able to do long walks, rucking, kettlebells, and hopefully running too. My priority is to always recognize the woman in the mirror regardless of what she looks like and if her physical appearance changes, for better or for worse.

And I’ll put on those shorts and bathing suits without shame but with pride in the warrior I am and for the scars and memories I am fortunate to have – as it all just means I am alive, I am living life the best I can, and that I fought for myself to have a better pain free life.

Running or Winning?

In summer 2020, I read “No One Ever Asked” by Katie Ganshert.

Click image to go to the Goodreads addition for this book.

I highlighted this quote in the book: “I guess the question you need to ask yourself is, What do you really love? Running or winning? If it’s running, then you’re not really going to lose …”

Since March 2018, I’ve really faced missing out – on training, on running, and on races and events. I had to cancel all of my events in February 2020 due to my hip condition – even before that became a reality for everyone else with the pandemic. Everyone has been faced with missing races and fitness events as we once knew them since the pandemic a year ago. Sure, there are virtual races everywhere but any athlete will tell you that it isn’t the same feeling.

But when you’re also faced with being on the sidelines completely, the first thing you miss is not the races – it’s the running. It’s the training. While I am a positive person, I cannot deny how often I feel down when I can’t just get out for a run, ruck, or ruck. Or when I can’t just crush a kettlebell workout. As well, not being able to be a part of doing any training with my team has been very isolating.

Every athlete has had to face this pandemic reevaluating and replanning training and races. But my hip surgery has left me with even less, and some days that crushes you. Everyone is feeling the effects of the losses but some have lost even more. I am worse off than some, but I am better of than many too.

As a teacher, I truly love being in the classrooms. Teaching Core French isn’t just what I do but a part of who I am. I miss every moment I’m missing teaching. But I do have to take care of myself first – and that’s hard to do. I am better at taking care of others!

I can focus on all that I’ve lost this past year and that I’m losing right now in teaching, running and training. But if I focus on what I really love – while I can’t do it now, there’s a lot of hope that I’ll be able to in the future. I may be sidelined but what I truly love – running, rucking, walking, kettlebells – will always be there. I still don’t know what I’ll all be able to return to but I do know that I will be returning to my active lifestyle. It may mean long walks but no running. It may mean no swinging kettlebells but I will be able do other kettlebell work. Right now, I’ve been told nothing I was doing before this fitness wise is off the table yet.

So, if focus on my love of teaching, running, and other training and embody the reasons of why I love those into what I’m doing now in my recovery and whatever I’m able (or even not able) to do in the future, I am not “really going to lose anything.”

Old photo of me running at Wascana Trails with Ginny.

First Day of Spring 2021

Last year, the world was feeling pretty dark and dreadful. I was just recently diagnosed with femoral retroversion – finding out my first surgery was only a fix of a secondary issue and not the main issue fixed. The pandemic was spreading and lockdowns began happening – resulting in making my surgery even that much more delayed. Spring’s usual joy was muted by so many setbacks.

This year, spring is the opposite. I feel so much hope. The pandemic is still surrounding us but vaccines are underway. There’s some light even with some uncertainty. My hip surgery happened and while I am still limping, have some healing issues to work on, and I have a lot of work ahead of me in my recovery, I’m on the other side of the journey. The waiting to be “fixed” side, the limbo side, is so much worse.

None of the last year’s struggles with the pandemic should be minimized – lives lost, jobs lost, homes lost, families broken – nor should the setback I went through either. But spring has a way of letting you feel free to let out the breath you held all winter and the really breathe deep. A real cleansing breathe. Something I think we all need right now. So, wherever you are – if you can, go outside and let out the breath you’re holding and take in a new one.

Hello spring. Welcome. You are very much what we need right now. Please be gentle with us.

Living My Year in a Global Pandemic & Medical Setback

For all who are also running on fumes. You are not alone. Your best is enough.


“She believed she should so she did” is one of my favourite short motivational quotes. However, we forget that “she should” and “she did” doesn’t mean you can’t say no to things too or take the necessary time to rest. I’ve believed I could do so many things – my lifestyle change, weight loss, comeback from 2018 surgery, my thesis, this current journey – and I did and I am doing. But none of it was done without also balancing my physical and mental health.

None of what I’ve achieved in my life was done without also having days of not doing anything. None of what I’ve done in the past or now was or is perfect and none of it was or is possible without setting realistic expectations. And sometimes, even when she could and she did, she has to start over again – and that’s okay too.

I know – because due to my setback with my hip disability and surgery, I’m restarting my weight loss journey as well as working towards a comeback to teaching (again) and back to any of the fitness activities I loved and I am able to do again.

And…the pandemic. I know, I know. We are so tired of talking about it, but it’s been a year since Covid began to really hit North America and initiated lockdowns world wide. I’ve really been on a lockdown since January 2020 when my hip issues intensified forcing me to be put on leave from work as I couldn’t even walk. After 6 weeks of being unable to walk, drive, work – I watched the world become almost as restricted as I was. It was surreal.

The most ironic part of the pandemic is that when the world became locked down, more services became available to me, someone disabled and stuck at home. So many things that I could not get before the pandemic suddenly became easily available with a click on the phone and delivered right to my door.

The pandemic really challenged everyone in similar and different ways. It’s often hard to change the routines we’ve had for years and realize that the realistic expectations we had for ourselves before the pandemic may need to be adjusted or completely changed now. That’s the same with my surgery and recovery. If you’re just doing your best each day, even if you don’t accomplish all the tasks you thought you should, that is enough. There’s no set rule book for how to survive a pandemic, or a medical setback. We have to take it day by day. Sometimes even hour by hour. Just remember – you are not alone.

So, now, sometime today, please go pour let’s go make ourselves a cup of coffee or tea and take a moment for ourselves.

3 months later…

Yes. I am alive! I sort of jumped off the internet there for while.

My surgery on November 30 went well but it sure was not an easy surgery or recovery. The surgery again is called “derotational femoral osteotomy” – say that three times fast. Basically what they did was break my femur, realign it (it was retroverted, basically angled backwards), put a rod in and then screws to hold the rod in. I needed some extra screws due to my femur being shaped more like an oval than a circle. Best I can explain the medical jargon I was giving the day after surgery.

I was in the hospital 2 nights. Holy heck – I was miserable for the first 24 hours and it still wasn’t easy. Pain was mostly well managed but the nausea and vomiting just hours after surgery was horrendous. I ended up having spinal and twilight sleep instead of general anesthesia as they said it would be better pain management after – I think also they are trying to save as many vents possible due to Covid-19 and with a spinal, I wouldn’t need one. So my nausea and vomiting was likely to the spinal but I also had that with general 2 years ago so there isn’t really a downside due to both having similar post op reactions. I was terrified to have spinal and that I’d hear them or be awake enough to see something but I don’t remember anything until they had me come out of twilight sleep.

I was discharged after the second night and we had 2.5 hour drive home. It was the hardest long drive home of my life – every jostle radiated pain through me and even with pain meds, it wasn’t enough for the ride. I managed to get home and into bed where I slept most of the evening.

Post surgery – some of my physio tools, stretches, exercises, elevation. My incisions.

Since my surgery, here are some quick point notes to catch you up:

  • My partner was amazing. He had to take all of this in and do everything. I can’t also imagine being stuck at a hotel and just waiting for me to be discharged. Unable to be with me. He was only allowed to stay with me during pre op and then kicked out. He wasn’t allowed to visit due to Covid protocol. I’m sure that 36 hours in hotel just texting me wasn’t easy. Then he has to drive me home, see me in pain, help me into the house and literally take care of everything. It was definitely a lot for any person but he did it.
  • Crutches are torture – not having your hands to do things like make a meal – it’s frustrating and gets old fast. I was on crutches for 6 weeks – went to using one around 5th week and then the cane around 6-7 weeks. I finally been walking in the house without cane a few weeks and using cane when we go outdoors (basically only for physio) as it’s icy where I am due to the good ol’ early melt and freeze spring. Melts during day, freezes at night. We have so many icy spots on sidewalks and driveways.
  • Dogs are amazing. Having Ginny with me felt less alone. I cannot wait to get back to our walks and runs together – I haven’t been told I won’t be able to run again so I have hope!
  • Physio is amazing. Especially when you have a phenomenal advocate as a physiotherapist. My progress after surgery has been in a large part due to physio.
  • Recovery and being on leave is not just lying around binging Netflix doing nothing. It was for maybe the first few weeks where rest was essential for bone healing and for the body after a major surgery but I always had physio to do even at home. Since the first couple weeks, physio has intensified. Besides going to physio (weekly initially, just started biweekly) but my at home physio program is intense. It takes all day. I’m doing all I can so I am not just doing the bare minimum exercises but with physio encouragement, I also use the stationary bike to strengthen, the treadmill work on walking and gait, and yoga to help with muscle strength. I’m doing short seated upper body workouts to keep my upper body strong. None of what I’m doing is to the intensity of my active lifestyle before this journey began but it feels like it is due to the body recovering. I have to break up items throughout the day. But it’s worth all of the time and effort as I want to do this right and give myself every advantage for a positive healing and recovery. My rehabilitation is a full time job, with even some over time.
  • 6 week post op X-rays showed bone was healing but a bit slower than average. 12 week post op X-rays revealed healing has continued and was much better from 6-12 than 0-6 weeks. We will now wait until July and will check again. Hardware removal will be discussed then as well – it is possible to leave it in if it isn’t bothering me but I’ve already had some knee issues with swelling and mild pain that I feel are the screws in the knee. I feel if removed, the knee would move more free. But we will see how the rehabilitation continues and discuss later.
6 week post op X-rays (Hip joint to femur)
6 week post op X-rays (thigh to knee)
  • Where am I at recovery wise? It’s so hard to say in this journey. There’s no manual or set steps. I can walk in the house but with a limp still – before I can go for even a short walk, the limp needs to go away or it can become something that becomes a problem. In this, you are retraining your body to walk but there’s so much more to that. You can’t let your body learn bad habits either. I also don’t just have issues due to the surgery but due to my body compensating for the pain it had up until surgery. My left side has a lot of work to do to catch up to working normally. So while I can walk in house, it’s only for short time. I have to break up things I want to do – whether it’s physio, household work (that I’m able to do as can’t do all of it yet), personal care, and things I enjoy doing for fun. For example, I can shower but then I need a break before I can get dressed. I can sit now to work on a puzzle but I have to do it in short timed sessions with breaks as I can’t sit too long. Sitting is improving since surgery but there’s a lot of work the left side needs and when I sit, it stiffens up and the knee begins to ache and the groin begins to get a bit inflamed. So I am definitely improving, surgery has been positive, but I have months of work ahead still.
  • Surgery and recovery during a pandemic. Just imagine having all the restrictions of the pandemic and on top of it, you now can’t drive nor can you even take a 5 minute walk outside. It has been hard. When I find myself unable to breath and the walls closing in as I haven’t been able to do either of these things to reduce the feeling of being stuck – I try to do something that lets me breathe. Fall into a good book. Work on a puzzle. Take one step onto my deck (where ice has finally melted off the first half of it) and get some air. I’ve actually been locked down since end of January when my hip issues were so intense, I couldn’t walk and had to be off work. I’ve already been through over a year of a lock down. And there’s no sugarcoating – it sucks. But I found I can focus on what I can’t do, get depressed and moody OR I can find something I do enjoy even if it’s not want I really want to be doing. If I only focus on the negative, that’s all I’ll feel is the negative. I can’t change the pandemic or the restrictions with it but I can still choose happiness for myself instead of grumpiness.

That is the short version – if you follow me on Instagram, I did post more frequently throughout my journey there. I recently made myself a goal to blog weekly as I love doing it. I just fell out of the habit. While my journey is not easy, I am still so blessed and I am grateful for how this journey has changed me as a person and for the people in my life – many I cannot see right now but have shown me they’re there for me in their own unique pandemic ways. All I want is to be healthy. To be pain free. To teach again. I’ll be happy with going for long walks even if I can’t run. It’s unclear yet and hasn’t been fully discussed if I’ll have permanent restrictions on any past activities but being pain free is a huge restriction already lifted. Even though there would be some heartbreak to let some go if I had to, I know I can redefine my activities as long as I have my family, my friends, my health, my pain free mobility, and my teaching career.

Day 1: Embrace the journey

My tshirt I wore up to Saskatoon yesterday said embrace the journey. A part of me was like “hell yes” let’s do this. Another part of me today says I’ve embraced this and fought this so long, I’m so tired.

But today is day 1. I can’t give up now.

I haven’t written in awhile. I’ve been waiting for a surgery date and it finally has arrived. That date is today. I don’t really don’t know what to expect. I’m checking into the hospital at 10am and my surgery is scheduled at 1pm. I’m trusting the surgeon. I’m trusting the powers that be.

I know today’s surgery is not going to be easy. To fix the femoral retroversion, the procedure is called a derotational femoral osteotomy. The surgeon will cut into my femur to break it, realign it, put a rod in, and then stitch/staple me up. I’ll be in the hospital for undetermined amount of days – anywhere from 2-4 days. Thanks to the pandemic, my partner cannot be with me. I’m alone while waiting for surgery, after surgery and during the hospital stay. I think that part is what scares me the most as he is my solid ground when the life is crazy.

I don’t have much to write today. I’m writing as the start gun to this important long race. so here we go. Bang. The race began. Day 1.

Things Fall Apart: My Second Coming

The Second Coming (A Poem) by W.B. Yeats

I fell apart today. Tears streaming, snorting snuffling nose, splotchy face. Face buried in pillow. And I couldn’t stop it.

There really wasn’t any one reason why. I haven’t slept well in months. I can only get 1-2 hours of sleep here and there throughout a 24 hour day. My back has decided to join the hip pain party with muscle spasms. Luckily I know this doesn’t mean back issues but just a side effect of the hip condition and it’s likely due to compensating for the hip pain and condition. I have physio this week and I think she’ll be able to help me to calm down the back muscle spasms as she has before. For now, I’m just trying to rest as much as I can. And if sleep comes, I embrace it whether it’s 10pm, 8am, 12:30pm, 2pm, 4pm or 7pm – just whenever I can.

And that is exactly what I was trying to do when I melted down. Attempting to sleep mid afternoon. With the back spasms, I lay flat on my back with my left leg propped up on angle that helps the hip condition – and I began to doze off.

Ring, ring, ring. My phone rings. And when you’re waiting for a surgery date – you don’t like to ignore any phone call. First – a work call. 5-10 minute conversation. Done. Close eyes. Ring. A scam call. Click. Didn’t bother after the “if you do not pay us, you’ll be likely held in federal criminal law” or whatever line they use. Close eyes. Ring. My surgeon. A phone call appt/consult/check in. 20 minutes.

I didn’t feel as if I could sleep now but I was still desperately yearning for this nap so I crawled back into bed. I could not find a painless position at all. My usual go-tos were not helping. Toss toss turn turn toss. I couldn’t get comfortable – either my hip hurt in one position. If I moved, my back hurt. If I moved, my knee hurt.

When I finally managed to find one heck of an odd position that seemed to be okay for all 3 – the bedroom bathroom toilet starting to run constantly. I tried to ignore it – but constant running water is not something you can easily ignore. I did not want to move after all the effort to find a reasonably comfortably position, but I gave up after about 5 minutes and attempted to fix the problem. I couldn’t. So I thought I’d just close the bathroom door and my partner could fix it after he was done work. Bathroom door wouldn’t close. After 3 tries, I slammed the door shut.

And. Then. Everything. Fell. Apart. I just started ugly crying and sobbing. I climbed back into bed feeling weary and empty and exhausted. I was the tired where you know you’re so exhausted yet you’re not going to be able to sleep. I cried for 40 minutes instead.

After, I almost began to feel bad for this moment of vulnerability. For allowing myself to feel what I was truly feeling. But feeling your emotions is not shameful. It’s how you channel those emotions. So, I had a good cry fest in bed – but my actions didn’t hurt anyone. If I had taken those emotions and punched a whole in the wall – that is now going from feeling my emotions to letting my emotions control me.

In Yeats’ poem, he writes “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…” My centre couldn’t hold today and things fell apart. In some ways, I’m in a world where darkness just keeps coming – the unknown, the pain, the insomnia, the exhaustion, the inability to do the things I love. While I am sure there are many more days where I’ll fall apart, my plan is to not be ashamed of those feelings but also be patient, with the waiting for surgery and with myself; to put myself first; to rest; to sleep when I can and however I can. I’m not sure when I’ll get my call for surgery but once it happens, I have my own second coming to look forward to. One that isn’t going to be an easy journey nor a short one. And one most definitely made up of many moments of “falling apart” that will be a part of the journey to put me back together again.

Femoral Derotional Osteotomy. Chapter 1.

Day trip to meet new surgeon

We are on our way to meet the new hip preservation specialist surgeon to discuss the femoral derotional osteotomy that realign my retroverted hip femur. The emotions I feel are many – anxious, hopeful, uncertain, angry, impatient, excited, worried… but really – just ready to do it now with hope this is the finale of this ridiculous hip journey.

I’ve been dedicated and passionate about my comeback from the hip labral tear surgery in June 2018. 2 years of recovery, physio, pain, and missing out on many things almost feels like it was for nothing. It’s hard not to feel let down or discouraged. Yet, there’s no way of going back to change any of it. I only have now. Today. Tomorrow. I can choose to let the past define me or I can define myself throughout this next chapter of this journey.

I’m worried about hearing it’s a lengthy wait for this surgery. I’m hopeful maybe it won’t be. I have doubts – as in is this really the last problem causing my pain? Or are they just pinpointing the first thing they found again? While the surgeon said on my phone call appointment two weeks ago that he is positive I’m a good candidate, today he decides for sure – so I’m also scared – what if he rules me out for it? What if my osteoarthritis worsened and he can’t do it?

These what if’s can control you so much when you’re facing an uncertain future with something that affects your life so intensely every day. And more than ever, I’ve felt closed off from the world – Covid didn’t help that much. The first time I went through my hip labral tear surgery, I still felt more connected with those around me. This time, I feel more far apart. I know there’s many reasons for it:

  • I have to say no to many things and I know that has meant some may have given up inviting me.
  • I’m unable to join my team and friends in things we used to do. The common athletic interests and fitness goals I had (still have but on pause, some may be unable to do ever again), while I’m still interested, I’m unable to do. I feel less important now that I’m not able to participate in events or crush the daily training plans.
  • This is 2.5 years now – some do not understand what chronic pain is like to live with and have cut themselves off as it’s too hard to be around something that scares them and they can’t understand it.
  • Unintentionally, I’ve secluded myself. Driving anywhere hurts. Being outside the comfort of my home where I know the spots and places I can sit or lie down in that will reduce pain – or even that I can just be comfortable in even when the pain is at it’s worse. I’m terrified to go out and then be somewhere when pain flares up badly. I hate admitting this so more often, I come up with excuses instead for why I can’t go to a friend’s or out somewhere with friends.
  • I’m tired all of the time. This isn’t like me at all. I’m the 5am get up and run and do 8009 things in a day person. Now, taking a shower means needing to rest after. And I never knew before, but pain is exhausting. It takes everything out of you and more. It’s hard to even find the energy to hang out with a friend – even if in my own home.
  • Covid. Oh, Covid. While many are struggling with Covid fatigue and many are immersing themselves into the Reopening plans, due to upcoming medical appointments and surgery, I’m having to retreat more into my bubble. I can’t risk getting sick and missing the opportunity if surgery in the immediate future is a possibility.

While many of these may be all on my emotions, I think there’s truth to all of it too. When you’re the one with life on hold, you don’t want your family and friends to put theirs on hold – heck, you become more empathetic for when those you love also face setbacks – but at the same time, it isn’t easy to be the one left behind. Especially for 2.5 years and counting! And while you’ll hear all same similar well wishes that most resort to, these only make you cringe. Such as:

  • “This too shall pass”. (Sure, easy words to say. Pass when? This too? I’m on multiple “this” setbacks in just 3 years and “this” hasn’t passed. “This” means unable to walk, stand, sit, lie down without pain and it means 5+ years of my life on hold…. so “this” shall pass feels like belittling the trauma and negative related consequences (like affecting finances) this has brought, and will bring.
  • “At least you’re moving forward.” Umm – moving forward doesn’t mean not even knowing when I’ll have surgery and the wait time. It sure doesn’t feel like forward when it now means another surgery after one already. And one that means breaking my femur and needing a metal rod put in. Moving forward would be best determined AFTER the surgery and actually seeing some positive progress. Not still stuck in pain.
  • “Feel better soon”. See above. This is best used for short term illnesses like the flu….

I could go on – but I never knew the power those simple common well wishes had. I never considered the meaning of the words before I encountered chronic pain and setbacks myself. I’m not attacking anyone who have used those – I’ve used them many times myself. But in situations where someone is encountering years of life spent on chronic pain, sometimes just saying “it sucks” or “I hope this surgery is the answer” or even uttering a few profanities is better than the well wishes that hold false positives for a lengthy painful process that has no guarantees. Well wishes that minimize the significance of the setback can send mixed messages that the setback is just an easy hill to climb – when for the person going through it – it’s a cluster of mountains with sharp cliffs and many ascents and descents.

I share this as all I’ve been through and continue to face, as well as all I’ve opened myself to learn in my setbacks have undeniably changed me. Unless I express how I feel, then I can’t expect anyone around me to understand or learn from my journey.

Today is Chapter 1. While I know I have months ahead of moments of isolation and feeling alone, I’m hoping my writing can break down the walls I feel around me. It is no fault of any person – circumstances have made some walls, such as Covid. I’m going to have to continue to say no to many things. While today isn’t the end of this journey nor really a big start, it is a start. While I’m going to have to put many things on hold in my life and continue to mostly isolate myself, hopefully today, we can turn Chapter 1 to Chapter 2.

My Life Not Running

It’s been awhile since I wrote. I really had no new information, no spectacular recovery, no fast forward button. If you have this button, please share! Covid-19 has pressed the slow motion button, heck – some days it feels like the pause button. No matter who you are – we all feel that.

Yet, when you’re waiting for something that significantly affects your life every day, that wait feels excruciatingly long. But I finally received a phone call from the new surgeon Tuesday – the one that I would have seen before June if Covid hadn’t blown everything out of whack. It was a good initial conversation. We discussed my past lifestyle change, my weight loss, the hip labral tear injury, and my current life quality. He discussed how we could spend more time trying to strengthen my left side but after our discussion, I think we both felt like it’s unlikely to change my pain as we have spent 2 years since the labral tear surgery doing that with physio and other strengthening with my trainer.

I’m now on the list for a femoral derotional osteotomy to correct my femoral retroversion. Yeah say that 3 times fast. Here’s a link about this procedure if you wish: https://www.hss.edu/conditions_femoral-osteotomy-overview.asp The surgeon explained it to me as well. The surgery is not a piece of cake. He has to break my femur, realign, and put in a rod. It will be approximately 9 months to let it heal along with rest, recovery, rehab. I know I’ll be either non weight bearing or partial weight bearing for some time – not sure if it means crutches, walker or cane – or a mix of all 3. After approximately 9 months, he’ll remove the rod. While this isn’t a guarantee to get me back to running and kettlebell training, he said that about 90% of his patients have had significant life improvement in day to day life. I’ll take that. Right now, a shower is enough to bring me to need a good hour off of my feet.

Now that we’ve had an initial discussion and I am on the list, the next step is to meet in person on July 27 and he will examine me and confirm I’m a good candidate. I’m 35 and will be 36 in August. Typically he doesn’t do this surgery after 35 – he has but it’s rare. He has to make sure my osteoarthritis hasn’t worsened too. He doesn’t foresee any issues though and is sure we can do it. There’s a high chance that this surgery will not just reduce or eliminate my pain, but also it will reduce the chance of more hip labral tears and even possibly reduce the progression of arthritis.

Two years of work that almost feel like I’ve just gotten nowhere and back at step 1. Another surgery. Another recovery. How do I feel? It’s hard to express the emotions I am trying to wrap my head around. It’s been 2 days since the phone call and while I feel there’s more of a plan and forward progress, I’m not going to minimize or just blow off how much this sucks. Regardless of all the well intentioned good wishes you usually get when sick or injured, regardless of the high positive chance of outcome, and regardless that we finally have a plan, even if it works, that means I will have spent 4-5 years on the sidelines. Longer depending on when I can get the surgery. That’s not nothing. That’s a huge chunk of my life. I’m allowed to be angry, hurt, frustrated, anxious, nervous, upset, pissed off, confused, uncertain. I’ve done every thing that has been asked of me by the medical world and more. Yet, the medical system failed me. They missed this condition because they found the other issue first and in our province – you don’t go looking for more if you find something that may fit your symptoms. They fix the first thing they find and hope that’s it. Knowing that’s why I’m still here is discouraging. And I am mostly powerless over the decisions the medical world makes. I can’t deny I feel doubt that they will miss something or fix the wrong thing.

Yet – I have hope. I still have heart. And I sure as heck have enough courage left. I’m not giving up. I’ve spent the last couple days dealing with my emotions but also planning on how I can go into this next chapter as strong as possible. The surgeon gave me plenty of muscle strengthening exercises to do. I do also have to step back from a lot of other things I was trying to do while waiting for the surgeon but I’ll do whatever it is to have the best outcome.

And in the end, can I live a life without running? Easy answer. Yes. The more challenging answer – I don’t want to. So how do I figure out how to without letting it take a dark hold of me? Well, I’m doing it now while hurting constantly and by doing just what I’m able to day by day. So if a life without running after this also means a life without pain, I’ll learn how to do it. It will be something I have to accept day by day. I’ll learn what I can do and put my whole heart into that. Just like I always have.

One of my most favourite running books is “Let Your Mind Run” by Deena Kastor. One of her quotes is “You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get there you find it’s not that simple.”

I’m a planner and like to know where my life is going. But the past 2.5 years, I have learned that I have 0 control over that. What I do have control over is what I do while on this journey and what I do with the uncertainties I face. That’s what makes me a runner – even if it’s just in my heart.

I’ll never have a life without running. Even if I never can run a step again, what I learned, failed, and achieved while I was able to run for an amazing 4 years will always be with me. It can’t be taken away. And I’ll take all of the experiences, moments, memories, failures, achievements, races, training, setbacks, comebacks with me as I navigate the uncertainties and challenges of this next chapter.

Thaw out and live for today

This past week I’ve felt the stress of family, friends, colleagues, parents, teachers, students, businesses government, and society in general. However, in this stress, I’ve also felt one other emotion – gratitude.

We’ve never experienced a moment where so much we take for granted for as a given to be there every day is just suddenly gone. For 8 weeks, I’ve been dependent on grocery delivery and pick up, and physio. It’s extremely challenging to get a grocery order right now and even physio is now closing next week. Likely my 2 month estimated time to see my new surgeon will be delayed. And it sure as heck is terrifying to not have the medical tools that help indefinitely or to have a timeline for seeing someone who can help me move forward.

This whole week I have felt frozen – I think we are all feeling frozen. The days feels surreal. Yet, I can’t live the next days, weeks or months like that. So, what do I do? I managed to get one last physio appt tomorrow. I am going to do my best to get as many tools I can – stretches, exercises, whatever – to help myself during this time. I have a TENS/EMS machine that while is no way comparable to what my physiotherapist can do, if I use it regularly, I think it’ll make a difference. My pool therapy is gone and I cannot swim – the one workout I could do almost pain free. I can’t change that so I’ll do my best. Surgeon is okay with short walks but to stop when it hurts. Some days this 20 minutes, some days 10, and even some days 5 minutes. Most days getting ready is a workout.

But – not all of you reading this will be that stuck. Get outside, sit on the deck or porch, go for a walk. Find an outdoor training program. If you don’t have a gym anymore, ask if anyone has any gym equipment they aren’t using and maybe you can borrow them. You can even get active by offering to do the grocery shopping for an elderly parent, grandparent or neighbour – it gets you out of the house while also helping them stay protected.

I have felt useless for 7 weeks and very alone. This week – I have felt useful and that I was needed. Nothing changed for me physically but suddenly we were forced into a world where it was acceptable to use my skills to teach online. I’ve been able to create lessons while lying in bed. I’ve helped share tools for parents while doing some physio exercises. I’ve thought of ideas to add to my i online French classroom website while icing and taking a rest or nap. This reminded me that we are all useful in some ways but sometimes our society, and even ourselves, doesn’t realize that until we are forced to.

The challenge comes with balance – I have to take care of me too. Sometimes even lying in bed with my laptop hurts and I have to know it can wait. Even if it is just making 1 document or adding 1 link. So as much as we all want to help, we also have to practice self awareness – for both physical and mental health. We are living in a time where we have to really pause and consider the physical ramifications of even just going to a grocery store. We have to consider beyond ourselves and for all of our loved ones too. So I rest and I am still putting myself first. I have naps, I do my physiotherapy exercises, I allow myself to simply do nothing especially when my pain is at its worst. I binge watch Netflix, read a book, lie in bed and look at the sunshine (or snow as event weather is wonky still.)

What I also find intriguing this week is how much we are all thinking of how our actions affect our community – and sometimes we don’t always pause to reflect on that. More often, we have lived a life where we focus on ourselves and our families first as before, typically, our choices for our lives such as going to stores, gyms, parks, school, and work didn’t possibly cause harm or risk to others. Businesses are trying to find a balance of how to keep customers/clients safe yet while trying to be available for them. People are jumping to help others with lessons for kids, online workouts, getting groceries and running errands.

Overall, amidst the stress and chaos, I have seen so much kindness. Patience for the stores struggling to keep stock in; understanding for those who struggle to shop such as seniors and those with disabilities and opening store hours just for these individuals; buying from local businesses who are struggling to survive; gratitude expressed for teachers more so than I ever have felt before. I’ve even had more people checking in and I’ll admit, via texts and social media, I’ve checked in on people more myself this week.

I don’t want to forget yesterday or not get back to that – I know we will get back to the normalcy we grew dependent on. But this is what I hope we will not forget about this week or the upcoming weeks of uncertainty: One, we can survive by working together. Two, we are so fortunate to have so much available to us. Three, communication and socialization – it really does mean so much and it’s necessary for mental health. Sending a text or message to someone even when life is busy can make a world of difference for both the sender and the receiver. Even better, when this is over, don’t forget about those who actually are isolated due to illness or disability before all of this – make an effort to visit. make efforts to pause in a grocery store to have a conversation with someone you haven’t seen. More often – and I know I’ve done this too – we say “Oh hi! Sorry, wish I could chat, but I got to run.” Before, we were so focused on the next thing on our to do list as we took for granted we could chat with our friend next time. In this same mindset, let’s not forget the time we had with our families – time that was spent without multiple activities or events happening in our schedules. Four, physical fitness – while there are ways to do it now, many are facing limitations – don’t take it for granted. When this is over, if you’ve never trained or always done it alone, I recommend joining a local gym or training group – being physical is one thing but doing it with a group or around people is so different. I encourage you to try it. Plus you’re supporting a local community business who had to shut their doors for a period of time. Five, buy local – even if it’s a bit more money. I’m not saying you have to solely buy from them but even if you just buy a package of chicken here, or a load of bread here. Get a coffee from a local shop instead of Tim’s one day a week. These businesses will be the ones that will hurt the most from this Covid19 period but I’ve seen more local businesses reach out in compassion and kindness in so many ways as they try to help their community. If all of us made an effort to buy one local something each week in our community, we will help them build up again when this ends.

For today – unfreeze. Thaw. Melt. What can you do that’s positive right now with so much frozen around you? I started Duolingo and I’m making quite a dent in my Goodreads Want to Read list. I’m trying to be outside and get some fresh air but respecting my physical limitations with it. When able, I’ll continue to add lessons to my Online French classroom website during the duration of school closures – I’m still physically unable to teach but now I’m in a world where my body isn’t needed – just my mind. My partner has to work from home now – he has set up an office but then as soon as work is done, we have had some friendly Duolingo battles but also just enjoyed watching tv or Netflix together. He seems less stressed working as he gets up, works, done. I think having no commute has helped so much with reducing stress.

We have had such amazing yesterdays and so much to be grateful for in our past but we are only really recognizing that in this new reality – in this today. While there are so many stresses with this new unknown reality we are facing, we can find so much to make it positive. Once this ends, I hope we don’t rush back into old habits – forgetting what we’ve learned we took for granted and missed when we didn’t have it. While unexpected, not exactly wanted, and still surreal, I think this time and experience can inspire more patience, kindness and compassion in each of us; show us what is truly important in our lives; bring families closer while some may learn how to support each other in a multiple home family setting; make communities stronger; and maybe this experience of disempowerment and entitlement will help our society to grow to be more accommodating, charitable, and sympathetic. Hopefully we can continue to live with what we’ve learned this time, so that it doesn’t take a virus for us or future generations to have to learn it again.