Week 5 (Jan 15-21)
Let me preface this by saying week 5 was a doozy. To quote Kylie Jenner it was the week of “realizations.” I think some of it had to do with the fact that this was the week I had initially planned to pack my car full of my stuff and head down the road back west. Actually, if I’m being honest, my OG goal was to be back in LA, or at least able to travel, by New Years. Let me remind you, that at this point I have officially been in Iowa for two full months. I left California abruptly on November 11th and pulled into my parents’ driveway on the 16th. When my surgery date got pushed back a week because of the flu, I assumed we would push back my return date. But I never in a million years thought that I would still be on my parent’s couch 5 weeks post surgery.
My new goal was to leave the first week of February. That seemed pretty attainable to me at the beginning of this week. February seemed so far off and surely by the time my next follow up appointment with my actual surgeon (Dr. Vinyard) rolled around, he would say everything looks great and I would be on my way to California!!!! Miracles happen right?
I still couldn’t drive and was, and still am, working on bending my leg to a 90 degree angle. I wanted to be able to do this with ease when I saw Dr. Vinyard on the 27th. The PA had told me that was my next order of business when I saw him 2 weeks post op, so that had become my obsession. My long(er) term goal was to be able to audition for NFL teams in the late spring/early summer. That was what I had shifted my focus to and that’s what had been helping me stay motivated during these last few weeks. I will circle back to this in week 6 when I finally have my appointment. But I’m getting ahead of myself- back to week 5.
**NancyChic** back at it again
I started off my week by finding a box of nostalgic things from my childhood in the basement. This was my first time in the basement since surgery (woo hoo!) and while it took me 4 years to get down the stairs, I was happy to find a SHIT ton of old dance videos and all of my Nancy Drew games from my childhood (and maybe a few that I had purchased in my adult life). I used to spend DAYS and sometimes weeks solving mysteries on my computer screen as Nancy Drew. So as I’m entering my fifth week and running out of ways to occupy my time, I was pumped to reunite with these. While I would not be logging onto the chatroom help sites as **NancyChic** at 24, I would however be passing the next few days by being Nancy Drew. Which is only slightly deeply humiliating, but it beats staring at the wall or watching Price is Right (help). While it’s been awesome to spend my days writing about my experiences during this recovery period and working on my NASM CPT, it also makes for a lot of days spent in my head dwelling and reflecting on my current situation. It was nice to take a walk down memory lane and step outside myself for a bit.
Watching my old dance videos on the other hand took me for a ride on the emotional rollercoaster! It was a little odd to watch videos from my younger years and think that that little 6 year old girl had no idea where 24 year old me would be. From both a positive perspective, regarding the opportunities that I have been blessed to have, and also from a slightly negative perspective, thinking about where I am currently. Watching these videos from the floor of my parents house with 5 more scars than I used to have. That little girl in the videos was so blissfully unaware and incautiously passionate about dance. I would do anything to have that feeling again. As I watched of my videos from middle school and high school age, some of which I even wore a brace in, that passion didn’t go away despite the pain and dislocations I was still facing. The videos made me laugh, they made me cry and they definitely made me want to be on stage again. Motivation: re-found.
I carried this with me to physical therapy that week. While having the goal to bend my leg to 90 was a good one, I had taken off my blinders and began to focus on the bigger picture. Yes bending to 90 would be a win, but I wanted a functional skill. Something that would help with daily activity and help me get back to full capacity from daily tasks to being back onstage. I let my PT know my goals and kind of expressed that I felt like I had kind of reached a sticking point. We really ramped it up that session by adding 5 new exercises, all of which challenged my balance and stability. We did lunges on the BOSU ball, one legged medicine ball chops with a few different stability variables, flipped over the BOSU ball and did med ball chops with both feet planted and then also started to work on some assisted squats. Honestly, I breezed through the new exercises which made me feel as equally good and it did frustrated. How can I continue to progress in physical therapy but when it comes to functional use of my leg I still have so much ground left to cover.
It’s easy to get stuck in that headspace. Thinking about all of the things you used to do or all of the things you still can’t do. I am definitely guilty of getting stuck circling the drain a bit, but if I could offer any sort of advice it would be to force yourself to do things that make you feel ~alive~. Or at least do the things that used to make you happy before surgery even if it’s not at the capacity you used to do them at. I had been asked to judge a dance competition that Saturday and, while I was not as far along as I thought I would be, I was excited to put on one of my two jumpsuits, a bit of make up and do something dance related even if I wasn’t going to be the one onstage.
The night before and morning of the competition we had a HUGE snow storm. Travel wasn’t advised but my trusty taxi cab service (I am talking about my parents) pulled through and off we went in the white out. Very safe! Very smart! It took us about an hour extra to get there so I was super relieved when they postponed the start time a bit. This was especially good news since hurrying around isn’t exactly my forte right now, especially since I had decided to leave my crutches in the car. As we pulled up to the high school, I began to question whether or not I was ready to be out and about without my handy dandy sidekicks. There were stairs, inclines in the auditorium and obstacles to navigate around but I took a deep breath and said to myself “chill out and walk slow” which was hard because I freaking HATE slow walkers. Once I got inside, I was so grateful for everyone’s kindness. The competition staff was more than accommodating. They even had a chair more me to prop my leg up on all ready for me by my judging area. Being able to be in a dance environment was exactly wheat I needed. Tough at times, but so rewarding to be able to provide feedback to these dancers and be in the mix of it all even with my bulky brace and obnoxiously slow walk.
As I have said in weeks past, often times good days are followed by challenging days. We spent the night Saturday and by the time we got back to Hampton on Sunday, I was pretty much wiped out for the day. My rough day came like clockwork on that following Monday. On the way home form PT in the backseat of the car, I looked at my phone and saw that it was the 21st. Only six days from what I thought would be my final follow up appointment and 17 from our proposed leave date. I couldn’t believe it. How had time flown and how the hell was February right around the corner already?? February seemed so far off just a short 5 days ago. I had put so much weight in what February meant and here I was stuck at a 70 degree bend and not cleared to be behind the wheel, nor would I dare even try. I would wait until my next follow-up to say for sure, but I was forced to get real with myself. In that moment, it became clear to me that returning in a week and a half was just not possible.
Catch week 6 here!