So, are you all better?
That’s the question people keep asking me. They wouldn’t ask if they thought I would say no. But, no. Not nearly.
I have started to get a bit of my coordination back. I can balance on the BOSU ball. March on top. Step over and back. “Not too high,” Mery calls when I add a hop on the top.
I am better, but not back. The strength is (for an average person, says Mery) 80%. For you, maybe 65%. She means as I am working toward being back to work. Jumping and hopping and twisting and turning and…playing.
It is tough to gauge because my “good side” is debilitated, too. By not being active for so long. So comparisons are a little misleading. I haven’t asked my body to lift things reach for things. The everyday activities have so declined and along with them, my whole body.
I went to the gym for the first time, Monday of this week. Yes, I tried the leg extension. 30lb. Struggled to complete 2 sets. Friday, I struggled to complete the 2nd set and then realized that the “extra” plate was on. Not 30 but 35lb. And this is my observation: My strength is coming back…on its own.
Course then there is the upper body row. I crunched through one set, then went to reduce the weight to do the second set. There WAS NO lower weight. Ugh!
Dear Friends and Family,
Well, all good things must come to an end. I felt like a 3rdupdate was in order just so you weren’t worried about me, but I am hoping (and probably so are you) that this will be the final episode of the Wendy Hamstring saga. And the number 3 has that ‘whole’ feel to it. This update is coming to you from the LeBolt front porch where I am enjoying this incredible June day. My friend Betty suggested I bring my computer out here during my convalescence, and the dogs and I have made it our regular daytime retreat. I like it so much I think it may become my regular writing spot even though I am most of the way to well again. I wrote the last blog post today for the “On the Way to Well blog.” Titled it humbly: “I have arrived.” Not quite back to pre-injury form but I am striding happily in that direction.
We have put away the crutches and the brace. The crutches rest next to the several other pairs in the depths of the closet. Who knew we would get to know our orthopedist so well? I am a twice a week regular at physical therapy. It is rewarding now to finally get to do some “real” exercise. Balance and strength and stretching. It is my first experience with a T.E.N.S. unit which is really quite fascinating. The PT pushes the button and you watch your quadriceps muscle contract. It feels like pins-and-needles with increasing intensity. I try to be sure I don’t anger the physical therapist before she does this.
The good news is, the hamstring is attached and it works. Even after having lived this for nearly 12 weeks, it is really quite miraculous to feel it in operation.
The not as good news is that, while it works, it does so somewhat weakly and without too much coordination. The brain is willing but the body says, “Are you kidding me?”
That’s the other good and bad news: I have another hamstring that can remind its partner what to do. It is also shows me just how much remembering there is yet to do. (I think it feels a bit superior, honestly.)
I have been walking the neighborhood for exercise. I even giggled a bit as I realized I was actually breathing a bit heavily on an uphill. The kids say you can’t tell that I’ve been injured if you see me walk. My progress report is: I now can almost keep up with the kind grocer who says “Guacamole? It’s way in the front of the store. Let me show you.” I guess this means I have to stop using my handicapped parking permit. When you feel obligated to pretend-limp when you get out, you know you have overstayed your welcome.
Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers, your well-wishes, inquiries and general support. It has been quite a season. And though it continues, I am especially grateful to be able to stop and say thanks. I don’t do this enough. Stop, I mean. That’s what you do at the end of the season; you have the pizza party and hand out the paper plate awards. You stop and celebrate what you’ve accomplished. When the time comes, you start the new season with new energy and a new perspective.
Here’s to the new season. I’m not even gonna pretend I know what it will hold. After all, look how well I anticipated the last turn of events. But I have learned that while I’m definitely not meant for the sidelines, if necessary, I can play that position, too. 2nd string. (ha! Couldn’t resist)
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… a time to tear and a time to mend.”
Giving Thanks in All Things,
PS The titmouse family has departed and I see a nuthatch giving the empty house a bit of consideration.
Wendy R LeBolt, PhD
Founder, Fit2Finish, LLC
Read F2F BLOG
When is it time to declare yourself well? Well, possibly when the guilt of parking in the handicapped spot overwhelms you. When you feel you must intentionally limp to make it look legit. (My kids say, “you can’t tell, Mom.”)
I took Jodi out to the TGIF for my late birthday lunch. Hey, a free dessert is a free dessert. We parked in a lovely handicapped space in the shade. I did stumble a bit walking up the wheelchair ramp, but that was more my klutziness than my handicap. When we returned, there was a car parked in the handicapped spot next to us. The license plate said “Cripps.” So you have Cripps and you have Ixrsiz.
Now, who should be taking the shady handicapped space?
Will not be doing that anymore.
People see me without crutches and without the brace. “How’s it going?” they ask hopefully. They figure it’s a safe question since it looks like I’m all better. I guess I look like everything is okay on the outside. They are disappointed when I start, “well…” because I am difficult to please.
I am walking and bending and stretching. This is all very good. But there is not much strength in that old hamstring curl. And oh my, the imbalance in the tug on the patellar tendon. Got that thing pulling West, rather than North South.
But because everyone seems to think I look so healthy, and I feel pretty good out walking, I decide to try one little jogging step. You know, just a one-two. A bdmp bum. I stride right and clonk, my left leg lands with a thump. Suspending it in a stride is just…not there. I feel a little silly, very glad no one is watching me. And I continue my walk.
It will be a while before I can jog.
Today I discovered one reason God designed us symmetrically: it’s so, when you injure one side of your body, the other side can remember what to do by watching (and feeling) how the other side does it! I am so grateful for this.
I try to break up and alternate my sets to take advantage of myself teaching myself. It is interesting to see how Mery teaches me things in a bit of a different way than Farrouk. Kind of nice this “cross-pollination” with ideas and approaches from different therapists. Kind of like having different teachers and coaches. The conglomeration is better and more effective across the board than each one individually.
I do find it funny (surprising) that it remains so difficult for me to do a simple hamstring curl – even against no resistance. I can squat. I can do a 90 degree squat even on one leg. But just lifting one foot backwards is herky-jerky. I can get it started and then it gets hung up somewhere in the middle.
Another testimony to the amazingness of this human body. How many muscles in exact coordination must be called upon with the proper force to smoothly perform an effort? Even a simple one. A delay, a weakness, an imbalance and we become robotic. What a miraculous machine we are? What an amazing centralizing center that cerebrum is?
Can I remember the amazement I have today?
Today, I got myself into the pool (and out) all by myself.
It’s a little dicey trying new (well, old-new) things. I’m not quite sure whether I can do them. No one has told me I can’t. I am imagining my friends coming along… “Now you be careful.” When did my friends become my mother?
There’s pushing off the bottom, pushing off the side. Well, no, first there’s getting down the ladder. I didn’t dare jump in, and that would be so…socially unacceptable for a 50 year old Mom to do. No. I lowered myself into the pool. Cold step by cold step. Then I walked slowly into the deeper water, shivered and dove under.
Funny, my inclination is to pull along with a few breaststroke pulls, but the scissor kick feels too dangerous. I spot a small kickboard board floating in the lap lane and I grab it. Hmm. Flutter-kicking; that sounds challenging. I lean forward on the board, let my legs float to the surface and kick. sort of. One foot kicks. The other drags. My mind spurs my leg on, but no go. I look at the lane line floating next to me. They have those alternating color rings. I always watched those go by as I kicked the lengths of the pool in swim practice. They gave me a sense of making some progress.
Today: no progress. I look and the lane lines look back at me. I know they are laughing. Suddenly, I am laughing with them. I am actually enjoying this moment. My legs are working fairly furiously, but my body is going no where. Fortunately, I haven’t made it to the deep end, so I can stand up and rest. Good thing there are no stroke and turn judges nearby. I turn around to see Scot watching me. He is laughing too.
It gets a bit better. I can use my arms to pull me along. I swim a few laps, alternating freestyle and backstroke. I was never much of a back-stroker. Always counted on my kick to propel me. Not today. Especially not today. Because, while a prone crawl kick is mostly powered by the downward thrust of your leg with your quads, a supine stroke kick is powered by the downward thrust using hamstrings. They missed the role call.
Eventually, I complete 20 or so laps. Cruise in and gracefully slick back my hair because I want a photo of this. Not the swimming but the getting in and out of the pool under my power. I want to remember the day I got myself into and out of the pool myself. Maybe lay this memory over the one I have of the last time I was at the pool – in DelRay beach. When I had to sit by the side of the pool with no one to help me in.
Today, I can even climb the pool stairs.
“Yeah Mom,” Olivia says.
Healing waters, for sure.
Inching my body, no millimetering my body, across the long foam roll. I wince. A tear is squeezed from the corner of my eye. I’m glad the mirror to my side is higher up on the wall than my prone body. Wouldn’t want anyone to see the excruciating pain I am in. Pain I am inflicting on myself. Who does that? Is this even sane?
It’s one of the exercise mantras that I’ve tried to discredit over the years. “No pain. No gain.” It shouldn’t have to hurt to be good for you. Yet, here I am. My IT band and quads are so tight I subject them to “self” massage to break up the asphalt they have become. This is frustrating, though not altogether unexpected. I spent several months before my injury working this out in another PT setting. My tendency is to favor the IT band in my left-footed stride because of my weakened VMO. We stretched and we strengthened and we had it all back in alignment until…
At least now I know what it is.
I am back to square one. No, back way before square one thanks to the contortions I subjected the leg to in order to sit somewhat upright while I was in my brace. Odd to think that had I just lazed around, done nothing but bed-rested and crutched to the bathroom I would not have this part of the uphill battle. But that would have been unthinkable. I would truly have gone insane. Ah, sanity – it’s all in your mind.
So, we battle back – mind and body. Back to fighting form. No, back to even. Back to square one. It feels good to battle I have to admit. One does not tell an athlete, ah just sit around and wait to get better. I can only imagine what it must be like for these young, able-bodied girls to tear ACLs and be told, sit on the sidelines, watch and cheer for your team. When your approved to play, we’ll talk.
In last week’s sermon, a guest “preacher” (who I later found out served for 24 years as Fairfax County’s Chief of Police) asked this question: What do we take as a given instead of a gift? Well, right now I am receiving the ability to walk again as the gift it is. I can feel the attachment of my hamstring and grab hold of a handful of muscle there. (also several handfuls of non-muscle but we won’t talk about that now) I can’t help but be amazed at the miracle this is.
What do I do with this gift?
Foam roller, please…
Ran errands today and yes, I parked in the handicapped parking spot. I tried not to park in the one closest to the door. But, it’s so tempting to take advantage while I can. My kids say they can’t detect a limp. I wonder if I should feign limping from my car. I remind myself; this is a good thing, not to limp.
Mending. I love this word that refers to my current status. I am picturing my friend Kathie’s son Ryan’s security blanket called ‘kiki.’ It is so loved and so warn that it has had to be mended many times. Holding it up, you can see the ‘mended’ parts. They are a slightly different color. A slightly different fabric. The strings dangle from many places in what is no bigger than a dish towel, the softest dish towel ever. They have been mended with Kiki-string.
Kathie told me she and Ryan went to the Michaels store this summer and Ryan tried out each potential mending string. Held it up to his cheek to hug it and see if it was soft enough to use in his beloved Kiki. So the mending has happened with “approved” kiki string, which, incidentally, Ryan’s older sister has found even in her lunch box at school.
Mended. Sewn back together. Parts intertwined so they form a smooth and functional fabric. Approved by the ‘cheek test.’ I can be happy with a mended hamstring. You’ll be able to see the stitching of the repair. But even this will just be further evidence of the loving care and attention it has received.
Authors Tilda Norberg and Robert Webber suggest that healing is not just getting well from an illness but a dynamic process that leads to the wholeness that God wills for us. STRETCH OUT YOUR HAND offers practical ways for us to consider the varieties of God’s healing love for individuals, institutions, and communities.
People ask, “how much motion do you have now?” Well, I’m not limited. Just give it a try, as long as it doesn’t compromise “the repair.”
Something about applying that word to myself: ‘repaired.’ I sound like a second hand car.
I used to be just off the new car lot. Clean, shiny, new. I tried to keep up with the regular maintenance. Oil changes and wiper blades, air filters and tire rotations. I never really thought about the day when I’d need replacement parts. I’m seeing it in more and more of my friends. Scot and I say, it’s time to trade me in for a newer model.
But there is no newer model of me. I’m an original. The replacement parts just give me a bit more character. They don’t work quite as well as the original parts. I can’t accelerate quite as fast, can’t stop on a dime. I don’t have quite the turning radius I used to. But I’m not an antique yet.
And I guess I would rather be a used car (what do they call them? a previously owned car? that sounds so much better, doesn’t it?) than one that has sat, shiny and new and never used on the lot. Its paint job looks nice but you just can’t tell what’s under the hood.