In our prairie province of Saskatchewan, in my city of Regina, we’ve been in a deep freeze for 10 days. -40 degree Celsius weather has been our daily average. Thursday we hit -49 Celsius.
With a long period of extreme cold, the challenge of my outdoor running, rucks, walks, and even today’s outdoor workout with my team become a mental battle of should I go or should I not. I really don’t like training in cold weather- even before in injury I didn’t. But I did it often before my injury and surgery. I could layer up, force out the mileage, and after a workout while thawing out – I didn’t hurt.
But now, intense cold weather makes my body stiffen, harden and flexibility and mobility are significantly reduced – so much I can’t really feel what my body is even doing, and when I do warm up, I’m hurting a lot. So for myself, it isn’t worth the pain it causes to force my body to train outside in -40 temps. Not being able to feel or have better control of my body risks injuries. And I don’t want to be on the sidelines again. I also now realize the risk in forcing myself out in the cold with my asthma and no inhaler available due to it freezing. I’d rather have a high quality workout indoors than a miserable workout outdoors where my body isn’t cooperating with me but I’m pushing it to anyway. I always felt there was shame and cowardice if I didn’t do my planned outdoor workout. Yet, more often than not, pushing through extreme weather has resulted in missing multiple workouts due to pushing my asthma and my body in elements that hurt me.
So… I’m learning to put myself first and that everyone is different. Some have no problems pushing through this weather. Others, like me, it ends up being a painful experience – such as asthma flare up or mobility issues due to an injury. So I’m learning it’s okay to choose the treadmill over an outdoor run. That the stationary bike is a great option when I can’t get my daily walks in. Or grabbing a kettlebell and doing some mobility.
It isn’t that I’m giving up by adapting my outdoor workouts to indoors. I am just doing what’s best for me today so that tomorrow’s workout and all the ones after also get the best of me.
And yes, I first did start the day with a protein tea latte, my weighted blanket, and a book. But I still plan to crush an inclined treadmill run after lunch.
I haven’t been running all my life. Heck, I haven’t been running even 1/2 of my life. I didn’t begin running until April 2014 – I was 29 years old. Yet, I rarely still feel comfortable calling myself a runner.
I had a challenging week with a stomach flu this week. Ever since my injury and surgery, I take even the smallest of setbacks and obstacles really to heart. I feel like I’m finally getting into a routine, sticking to my training plan – and bam, life has a different plan beyond my control.
Today I had planned to go for a long run. Yet, we had tons of snow fall and I knew a long run on many snow packed paths would definitely cause a hip flare up. If you haven’t ran on 7-8 inches of fresh snow along with many blown snow drifts, you wouldn’t get it. But it’s like constantly running in mounds of sand. It causes bad running stride – and there’s 0 chance I could do it painlessly.
So I decided I would go for a long ruck with Ginny instead. It’s getting cold so we layered up – I put on my 10lb ruck and I put on Ginny’s 2lb ruck. As we entered the nearby park with paths, only about 1km in, we encounter a dog off leash. It is city rules to have dogs leashes in city parks. Sadly Ginny was attached 5 years ago seriously enough for surgery and to leave her with anxiety. The dog prowled and jumped her – I had my dog spray and screamed loud enough to deter it. The owner, without apology, finally managed to leash his dog. Ginny and continue. Not even a full minute later, we come upon 2 off leash dogs from 1 different owners who have begun to chase other. I yell to them I have a dog who doesn’t like to be approached and they try to call their dogs. It took 3-4 minutes.
By now, Ginny is extremely stressed and anxious and I know her ruck is done. I return home defeated that we didn’t even get in 3k (did 2.67km). This was nowhere near my planned 105 minute aerobic activity.
I sat on the chair for a bit contemplating my afternoon. I have tons of school work unfinished. I feel completely off from the inpromptu flu – in training, in report cards, in lesson planning, in home chores, and just off mentally and physically too.
I don’t feel like the athlete I was before all of this. I have gained weight since the injury and surgery. I have battled numerous setbacks. I can’t seem to lose weight. I can’t perform to the extent that I used to. So I often just feel as if I’m working towards something I can’t even achieve.
I pushed these ever recurring thoughts aside and I decided I would walk on the treadmill. Not tracking it. Just walk as long as I felt like it. I also knew I’d play a movie I’ve wanted to for while off amazon prime – “Brittany Runs a Marathon”.
And just… bam. Watching Brittany’s fictional life had me reliving my own. I began running because I was told I was pre-diabetic. I started running to change my life. To change where my life was going. And while my abilities have changed a bit, and some things are more challenging than before, the reasons I run have not changed. I am a runner. I am still a runner.
We often define a runner as an extreme fit skinny long legged fast beast. I’m not extremely fit. I’m not skinny. I’m definitely not long legged (which makes running even more challenging). But I am a runner.
In the movie, someone says to Brittany “You changing your life was never about your weight, it was about taking responsibility for yourself.” This is the truth and love that I find about running. It’s a typical human habit to fall victim to not falling into the typical stereotypes of what we should be. But what is the most important about being a runner isn’t what others perceive of you, nor the medal around your neck – it’s about your own self confidence of who you are, of what you are doing, why you are doing it and where you are going with it. I am a runner. I run because I love it. I run because I want to become better. I run because I know I can. I run because it gives me quality time with Ginny – running with Ginny is an experience I can’t describe. You have to just experience your own run with a 4 legged partner. I run because I’ve taken responsibility for myself and how I live my life. I’m working also at taking responsibility at how I love myself.
I may not get back to where I was. My journey may have changed. But I am still a runner.
I. Am. A. Runner.
Oh, and you just have to watch “Brittany Runs a Marathon”. It’s priceless.
A blur of half of year went by and I haven’t written a single blog.
The remainder of my 2019 was spent transferring schools – I work for a school board with a transfer policy every 8-10 years – I was ready to move on to a new school but it has been a hectic start of the 2019-2020 school year. 2019 was also spent completing my thesis writing – done. Defending it in November – successfully done – Master of Education complete! Running my first big comeback 20k race since surgery in September – done. Continuing to manage post injury and post surgery flare ups. And just managing life, meal prep and nutrition goals, and training goals.
Where am I at? Well, though it often feels like not very far, I am at lot further than where I was this time last year. I survived a year of rehab, an after surgery setback of a stress fracture in my leg, multiple flare ups, and serious mental battle with myself about where to go from where I was in my training and athletic goals.
I found myself comparing myself to what others were doing and the results they were achieving. I compared myself to my old 2017 self that was crushing races and losing weight quickly. All of the comparing and degrading myself for not being where I thought I would be by end of 2019 left me exhausted and demoralized.
Then I remembered my go to – “She believed she could so she did.” One pronoun. Singular. This is my journey. Stop comparing myself to others and even to myself from previous years. There is no defined pathway for a journey. Sometimes you have to lose control to be reminded that you can’t control what has happened to you but only what you do with it. So here we go – ready or not.
In 2020, following a wise friend’s yearly tradition, I picked a theme for my year. I loved how each year she picked a theme and used that to live her life positively. I hate the idea of resolutions as for me, I am continuing the same healthy eating habits and training program as I did in 2019 with some slight changes. But an actual resolution seems pointless when I already have the tools I need for my goals. So I decided I would try this annual theme thing. I choose embrace happy.
I picked these two words and this phrase as throughout 2018 and 2019, I was constantly searching for happy in comparing myself to my past or to whom I see myself. I was searching for it by comparing myself by what I can’t do that my teammates and other athletic friends make look so easy.
But instead – I should be embracing happy. Each day. Every day. In my now. My morning routine. A cup of tea. A walk or ruck with Ginny. Supper with Brad. Each day has so much happy but I need to embrace it – to fully engage myself in it instead of monotonously going through the motions but only thinking how I can be happy in the future by losing the weight I want to be at or getting back to the running speed I was at. That isn’t going to help me be happy now.
I can also embrace happy in my challenges and any setbacks that may arise. A flare up of the hip – I’ll embrace that as it means I can focus on the tools I’ve been given to overcome it – stretching, foam rolling, mobility exercises. My car breaking down yet again (4 times in 6 weeks end of 2019 and also a car accident – oh, and a mouse in the car too)…is it possible to be happy in that? Yes it is – one, I have a car that I own fully and have the ability to pay to get fixed. And cars will break down – I can’t let that define my day or my year. So embrace happy as at least I do have a car that needs the occasional repair. Overloaded with marking, planning, and extracurricular as a teacher – yes, it’s exhausting and I have complained but I love it. I mean, who gets to be told by a student “You make me feel like I can do anything awesome in French.” Or, “I’ve never ran a real race before” for my school run/walk club. And sharing in a student’s first experience in running a real race? Priceless.
So yes. Challenges suck. Setbacks suck. I’ll likely post and share those too as they are real parts of my life. And who wants to see the perfect side only? But my goal will also be to post how that setback or challenge also brought me happiness – or if not immediately, I’ll share how I think that moment or event can lead to happiness.
So, each day, I’ll decide my own happy by being in the moment and embracing it – whatever those moments may be. I’ll decide the days, weeks, months, and year I’ll have. I will work at not comparing them to the days before or the days ahead.
Love to hear how you’ll embrace happy in 2020 for you. Happy New Year!
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).
– 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.
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.
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.
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.
I didn’t have a great sleep last night. Kept waking up and it was hard to fall asleep. Brad decided to work from home – I felt relieved as I’m still a bit unsteady, and consistently struggling with nausea and fatigue still.
I listened to an audiobook to fall asleep at 4:30am. Woke up at 6am having to pee, couldn’t sleep again so listened to audiobook, dozed off around 6:40. Woke up at 8:30 so got up for ice and breakfast. Fell asleep around 9:30 and woke up again at 11am. Nausea was intense today – some have said you can be affected by the general anesthesia for 2 weeks so maybe that or maybe the medications – or maybe both. I just watched Netflix and tried to sip a tea and get control of nausea.
Our landlord called and said she wanted to swing by – we knew she was coming by tomorrow but today was unexpected. They wanted to check the roof – we knew we had lost shingles. Brad dealt with that and they stuck to outside stuff today and she’ll be back to for inside check tomorrow. Insurance companies want landlords to check their properties once a year.
I tried some hamburger soup but couldn’t stomach much of it. I then watched Netflix while dozing in and out – not really sleeping but not able to keep eyes open. You know that feeling?
I decided to get a shower and besides Brad having to put on the suction handle, I was able to do everything myself today. Just slowly and carefully. My steri strips were mostly off and I pulled the last hanging one off. A couple welt looking marks that hurt. I’m really bruised and the incisions are there but look good.
I did physical therapy exercises and then spent more time with Netflix and dozing. I’m really sore and stiff today. It hurts to move at hip. A deep bone and joint ache today.
We had leftovers from our power outage Boston Pizza supper. Super light – just 2 pizzas of Italian pizza – and I managed it but nausea still had its grip on me. After supper, I offered to help with dishes as I was restless. Just asked Brad to bring my stool to kitchen and I would wash as I wouldn’t have to move. It wasn’t as easy as I thought but it worked. It’s just hard to have weight all on right side – right side gets sore doing all the work. But I did it!
Brad is going to take Ginny to the vet tomorrow. There’s been an odd smell in bedroom that we can’t pin it but last night I realized she was really scratching her ear. We’ve noticed the last week her head is a bit tilted when she gets up from sleeping sometimes. We thought it was from sleeping but I’ve heard this can happen to dogs with ear infections. I looked at her ears last night when she was cuddling me, and positive one smelled bad and it was filled with brown gunk/ear wax/dirt. I cleaned it best I can but positive that’s the smell. We had almost thought it was my leg and my incisions but they’ve been clean, even with a bit of discharge it wasn’t infected. This morning we looked again and ear looks greasy and some brown wax/gunk again so we are going to play it safe and take her in tomorrow. If not ear infection at least we checked. She has seemed a bit off too so this may be why.
Nausea finally passing, I put on pjs, did physical therapy exercises again, and put on the ice wrap again and did a couple popsicles that completely helped the nausea finally. My physical therapy was hard today. I feel the most stiffness I’ve felt so far today. And like I said a real deep ache. But I did it as I know it’ll help.
I didn’t have a solid nap today, just dozing, so I hope I’ll sleep by midnight. I felt guilty not doing anything today. I feel like I should read for thesis or do some unit planning. I just can’t mentally do more than Netflix. I’m trying to be patient with myself and give myself time.
It’s a whole week now since surgery – I can’t believe a whole week is behind us. I’m hoping by next week the stiffness improves. But I’ve been told to expect slow progress and that some days I’ll have a step back and then sometimes a huge surge forward, another step or two back, etc.
Just reminding myself constantly that even with it being a rough day, I’m still here and I haven’t quit or given up. The hospital physical therapist said there are some who become bedridden after surgeries as they are too afraid to put the work in or it hurts to much. The worst thing I can do right now is not do my exercises – so it may not seem like a lot but it’s the necessary step I need right now. Probably one of most important ones. If I can at least do my physio, then I’ve moved my big rock for the day.