Week 4 (Jan 8-14)
I entered week four cautiously optimistic. I was feeling pretty good about where I was physical therapy wise and had been moving around the house without crutches like a champ hobbler. Everyone had told me it gets easier after about the 3rd week anyway, so I was hopeful that they were right.
At this point I had done every dumb instagram filter test thing from who am I going to marry to what’s your spirit animal and also had done my fair share of staring at the wall. I’m currently working on getting my personal training certified through NASM and had initially thought I would spend all of my time on the couch studying and finishing the modules. Aside from tinkering around a little bit with it during week three, I hadn’t touched it. A reoccurring theme here is me way underestimating the toll surgery takes on the body.
I think I’m a pretty resilient person, but I am definitely not the Wonder Woman of surgery recovery. It was killing me, but I had gathered up all of my patience and chilled out until I felt like I could learn something besides TikTok dances (lol sos help).During the fourth week post op, I finally threw my glasses on and found my groove with studying.
I decided to go with NASM over ACE because of my experience with my knee. From what I could tell in my research, NASM focused a little bit more on injury prevention and muscular imbalances. Right up my alley. It’s been really interesting to learn about certain aspects of training and then see it in action at physical therapy the next day. It helps me understand the why behind a lot of the exercises I’m doing and gives me a little more knowledge/ideas of things I can start adding in at home (safely). Plus, if I can help someone not have the same knee issues that I have dealt with, that would make me feel pretty dang good.
I think reading about being active kind of helped me find the confidence to start creating my own workouts…well I should say it like this – “workouts” in air quotes. That is more like it. I had kind of started to toy around with some stuff the previous weeks but stayed mostly horizontal. I keep some dumbbells on the floor by the couch to would use during the day. I also made it a ritual to do some abs on the floor after I finished my 15 minutes of daily mandated tummy time (still gets me every time).
My exercises at PT had picked up too. Rather than just the e-stim, leg raises, quad sets, and heel slides with a towel (putting a towel under my heel and sliding my heel back towards my butt), we threw in some standing exercises!!! I can’t even tell you how good it felt to support myself on two feet through a few exercises, no matter how simple they may have been. They added lunges…which should be called pre-lunges. Since I can only bend to about 65 degrees at this point, the lunges are more of a stretch to help make bending it further more possible. They had me step up on a platform with my bad leg and lean into it as far as I could tolerate. This one feels weird. I still have a lot of swelling inside my knee capsule so the feeling is reminiscent of what it used to feel like when I tried to return to activity after dislocating it. Good mems! The next exercise they added is resistance band work. I was pumped about this. I have a set of awesome resistance bands Perfect Peach Athletics sent me, so I was pretty excited to have a new “safe” exercise to add to my at home (and hopefully soon GYM) routine.
By Friday I was feeling like an all star but scrolling around on social media and seeing people taking the classes I used to regularly take in LA was starting to take a bit of a toll on me. While my at home workouts were at least making me feel less like a potato, I really was craving getting back into some sort of gym routine. Originally, I wanted to start off the new year doing gym days on my PT off days, but up until this point there was just no way I could have. It took a lot of self-talk to be okay with adjusting my lofty fitness resolution, but the mission was accomplished.Instead, I worked up to the gym for the first few weeks of and I set a new goal to hit the gym for the first time since surgery over the weekend. Gulp. But first, margaritas. I sat in the front seat (first photo on the left for proof) for the first time since surgery and that calls for celebration.
It took literally zero convincing for my parents to agree to make my margarita dreams happen. They are practically best friends with the guy who owns one of the popular Mexican restaurants here in the big big city of Hampton. Crutches in tow, we were off and I was getting out of the house AGAIN!!! To be fair, It’s only like two blocks away from our house, so it’s not like I got very far but whatever. Crutches in a small restaurant are a tricky thing. I know I talked about this a little bit in my last one, but at least that time I didn’t know anybody. By this point I’ve been in Hampton so dang long, I knew damn near the whole restaurant. Not a bad thing, but definitely wonder what was going through their heads as I finished to large margaritas and proceeded to crutch out of there (in a straight line might I add). This made me feel human (and also a little tipsy).
First day back at the gym
The next day was a big one and I would end up paying for it just a bit, but I think if I had to pinpoint one single turning point in all of this it would be this Saturday. Like I mentioned earlier, I set a goal to try to make it to the gym. I wanted to get in the habit of going on my off PT days (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). And luckily for me, the wellness center here in Hampton has an elevator HELL YEAH. Seemed a bit strange to me to use the elevator to get to a workout but at that point I hadn’t even attempted the stairs so ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
When the elevator doors open I had a flood of nerves rush over me. I realized how different this experience was going to be from the last time I was here. I had to work pretty hard to silence that thought as I looked at thee 50+ year olds on the treadmills and bikes. My options were limited and I knew that. I just had to be ok with where I was in that moment and not get caught up in how an hour at the gym looked pre-surgery.
So what did I do? I headed over to the Nu-Step machine at the gym. If I was going to beat those old ladies at PT in steps, I was gonna have to put in some extra work. When I use this machine at physical therapy, I take my brace off and ride away for 10 minutes. Since I was unsupervised (I mean my parents were there but they are not physical therapists), I kept my brace on but upped the time to 15 minutes. It’s impossible to get your heart rate up doing this thing but it at least gets my knee warmed up.
My mom helped me off and followed me from machine to machine as we rotated between upper body exercises. The arm stuff was fine, but getting off and back on the machines was…interesting. I was thankful I had my parents there to help when I got stuck. Felt like a turtle stuck on it’s back some of the time but hey, it’s fine we’re fine. Since I’m limited with what I can do with my legs and lower body, I brought my resistance bands so my mom and I could do a little booty circuit. Then the grand finale was some abs and stretching. This cute little workout took AN HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES. Partially because I am slow as fck right now and partially because I probably definitely way overdid it. Bu it felt so good to do something that is normally such a huge part of my day to day even if this gym session didn’t look the same as they did a month ago. Nevertheless, I freakin’ did it.
We kept it rolling by heading to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch some #sports. I decided that by this point I was pretty much invincible and definitely did not need to mess with my crutches inside the restaurant. Instead the whole restaurant got to watch me ever so slowly limp over to the booth on the complete opposite side of the entrance. What’s been interesting to notice during this recovery, is how little consideration others have for people who are impaired in some way. I’m sure I fell into that category before this surgery too, but boy have my eyes been opened WIDE.
Most often, people have their nose in their phones and don’t even realize they are standing in the way or just walked in front of me. I have learned that being outspoken is the only way to get things accomplished when it comes to clearing a safe path. So, naturally, when there were two grown men and 4 children running around in the *only* walk way back to my booth, being who I am (and also being 3 white claws in), it was time to activate Hulk mode. I first gave him a few seconds to stop being so oblivious on his own. Quickly, I realized that that was not going to do the trick. On my next try I politely said “excuse me” with no response, movement or consideration from anyone else in the restaurant. So then for my third and final attempt I said “EXCUSE ME!!!!!!!!!!!” and got not only his attention, but the entire restaurant. Mission accomplished, I guess! Hopefully I scared some spacial awareness into him.The rest of the evening was great and we also got free food at this restaurant. L O L. This time it wasn’t a pity prize though. Our food took over and hour and came out wrong so we more than deserved it.
EMOOOTIONSSS TAKING ME OVERRRRR
As fun as this day was, it fully wiped me out for about two days. Quite honestly, I felt like I had been hit by a train and I knew what was coming for me around the corner. At this point in the road to recovery, I have learned that some of my best days are closely followed by rough ones and this time was no exception. Recovery can be lonely. Especially when you can’t drive and it’s like 1000000 degrees below zero so hobbling somewhere to fulfill my basic human needs is out too.
On Monday, my mom came home from work later than planned and for some reason I just kind of lost it. I was, and still am, so overwhelmed with where I am vs. where I need to be in order to go back home to California. I felt guilty for being so worn out from the things that used to be so mindless to me. I felt sorry for myself being home alone all day. I couldn’t focus on anything but the date on the calendar and how much further along I thought I should be at this point. And in response to all of this, I had isolated myself from pretty much everyone all day. So weird how we do that because I think all I needed was some support from my friends and still I refused to allow myself to get it. And since my mom is a wizard, she picked up on this. She called our fun neighbor friend and invited her over for a pre-bachelor Monday glass of wine and slowly but surely, the sads went away. All I needed was a little socialization and someone to listen to me ramble who didn’t have the same last name as me.
On week four, I had some of my highest highs and lowest lows of this recovery process so far. And for that I will give this piece of advice. Next to doing your exercises, the most important thing to do is establish a support system. To anyone else planning on having surgery or anyone who is currently in their recovery process or literally *anyone* at all: DO NOT ISOLATE YOURSELF IN A TIME OF NEED. It is a self-destructive and sometimes subconscious action that does nothing but make you feel worse. Check on yo friends, you never know what’s going on in that little bean of theirs. I am so fortunate to have my family with me through this all to be that unwavering support system I need, even when I am feeling overly emotional and acting a bit ridiculous.
Any progress is still a step in the right direction no matter how small.