MPFL week 13 (March 11 – 17)
Despite my best efforts, I just could not kick this little bug. My temperature kept jumping between 99 and 100 and I sounded like a chain smoker. My diet consisted of soup, toast and cough drops. I felt like I got hit by a train. Again, I had to cancel plans with friends. I was so bummed that my last week before heading out consisted of me laying on my couch in a groutfit but, there I was. One hand in the cough drop bag and the other holding a Kleenex. I ended up going to the doctor’s office and since I had a sore throat, I had to wear a mask. This was a precaution they had begun to take for COVID-19. Luckily, I tested negative for strep and ended up getting a z pack a few days later. Hopefully that would do the trick.
Since I spent several days in a row inside, I had a lot of time to watch the news and catch up on all this Coronavirus stuff. Media coverage was starting to ramp up, and my whole family was still pretty skeptical at the beginning of the week. No doubt it’s a serious deal, but what makes this any more serious than influenza or strep? I watched stories about people cleaning out the toilet paper shelves and stocking up on canned goods like it was a zombie apocalypse. Which it really did feel like that to me since I had just started the Walking Dead the previous weekend. Bad timing.
Nevertheless, we continued to make plans to travel back to California on Friday. I had friends sending me videos of the shelves in LA and lighthearted memes about the virus. It was going to be fine, it always is. Things like this blow over before they affect most people. This is just a gross overreaction.
By the time it was the day before we were supposed to leave, my mom came home from work with a grim look on her face. She works in healthcare and had seemingly changed her tune a bit, stressing to me that this may be much bigger than we anticipated. As questions into my message inbox about whether or not we were really going to make the trip during this time began to flood in, I started to prepare myself for disappointment again.
I decided to distract myself from all of the chaos and uncertainty. I cranked some music, headed downstairs and got a workout in. Amidst all of the craziness, I was starting to push the limits of what my knee can handle during exercise. I was feeling so much stronger and continuing to feel more and more normal with each passing day. I could squat without assistance, do dead lifts with moderate weight, glute bridges and lunges. I didn’t feel ready to hop back into a Barry’s class back in LA by any means, but I was feeling proud of how far I have come and seeing more improvement the more I push myself.
Even though our plans were a bit iffy, I spent my whole day Friday packing and sorting. Since we had planned to leave that morning, my dad took the day off which was a BIG help. If you’ve ever moved, you know that shit seems to multiply when you try to pack it up again. I wanted to return to LA with a completely fresh start and that meant no clutter. I had sorted through most of my clothes, bathroom stuff and shoes by about midmorning so all that was left was to figure out the best way to shove everything into my KIA Optima. Yikes. Both of my parents would be making the trip with me, so we needed to leave one seat in the back open…which we did…barely.
We made the decision as a family to wait to push off until early Saturday morning. My mom had a lot of disaster plan implementation to go through at work and since there was increasingly more stress surrounding this trip, we decided to have a relaxing wine night complete with a movie and charcuterie board. Tomorrow was the day, and despite the pandemic hysteria. I was excited.
Road to Cali
Our first leg of the trip was to the Denver area, before continuing on to see my former roommate Kristyn perform in a show in Vegas. Before we even pushed off, we received word from Kristyn that Vegas was basically shutting down to flatten the curve of COVID-19. That included her show. Combined with the fact that all sports had been cancelled for the time being, we started to realize just how major this could potentially be.
We made plans to stay in a friends’ cabin up in the mountains and backtrack back to a suburb of Denver to meet some people my parents drunkenly met at an airport bar for a cook out. This is why I love my parents. Although we arrived to the cabin WAY too late in the evening to safely night-drive up the mountain on dirt roads or to see the house number to be 100% certain we were at the right place, the views were incredible and it felt so nice to be secluded for the night with a place to ourselves. Finally- a good night of sleep.
The next morning, I turned on some music and made myself do a little booty band, arms and ab circut. I’m still trying to hold myself accountable and continue to work on strengthening my knee and getting in a routine. I bring my booty bands pretty much everywhere with me and have gotten pretty creative in how I use them. I’ve been using a set by Perfect Peach Athletics and they have been a saving grace for me during this recovery. Plus, I’ve found that taking every opportunity to move my body during a long car ride (especially a 27 hour one) helps my knee feel less stiff.
Before getting back in the car, we sat down to a cute little family breakfast. I had meal prepped a bunch of little snacks and breakfast items for the trip so we stuck some of my egg muffins in the air fryer (I freaking love that thing), made some coffee and sat in the dining area as the sunlight poured in through the windows. Damn, it felt good to just take in this beautiful place. Unfortunately, that serenity didn’t last for long.
My mom had another conference call with her staff shortly after breakfast. As she became more and more glued to her phone for emails, online meetings and messages from her staff, I remember thinking that this is probably the worst time for someone who runs a hospital to be on vacation. I felt bad about the timing of everything. The more she was informed, the more worry I could see in her eyes and the more I began to let myself prepare for the reality of this. I didn’t think our trip back would get cut short, but I was starting to get a little freaked out by the videos of empty Trader Joe’s shelves and lack of people on the freeway in LA. Is this what I was about to come home to? Did that make any sense in the condition I was in? At least I had a job to report to when I returned and my mom had planned to stay a week after to help me adjust. It would be fine. Different, but fine.
We ended up pushing our daytime BBQ back to an evening thing because my mom had so many meetings pop up. That seemed to be the theme of the trip so far- things getting pushed back because of Coronavirus. Thankfully, we were able to put the worry aside and enjoy an evening full of lots of laughs, great food and even a full on magic show. Yes, you heard me correctly. My parents’ airport friends’ youngest son (say that 10 times fast) is a full on magician and he is pretty damn good. I do not understand magic and I never will but if I could use it to help myself get down the stairs faster or just teleport down them, I would. When we went down stairs to watch his final trick, I YET AGAIN held up the whole line of people trying to get down there. I am not sure why I can do squats and move pretty freely but struggle to go down the stairs still at 13 weeks. Maybe it’s just a confidence thing, but it is something I am still working on.
BUT I digress. Anyway. Laughs. Magic. Food. And before we knew it, we were on our way again. I was so pumped for the next leg of the trip because I had dowloaded Sims 4. YKWTFGO. Someone on Instagram told me that there was a sale on the online downloadable version…it was literally 7 dollars. And that’s what you call a God thing, people. It would be wrong if I didn’t listen to the Lord himself basically telling me to purchase it.
A change in plans
The plan was to get to Utah, somewhere that’s about halfway to Vegas. Despite the show being cancelled, I had a few friends I had planned to catch on the way. However, we never got that far. A few hours into the drive, I started seeing gyms and fitness studios post on Instagram that they have been mandated my the governor of California to close. Within seconds, it was everywhere. All non-essential businesses in California were forced to close until at least April 1st and the city was forced to go into a state of lockdown. Basically everywhere except for grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and hospitals were closing. Including my place of work. Shit. I was finally supposed to have my first day back that Friday. My heart sank ask I watched the playback of Governor Newsom’s press conference. This was not good. I knew in that moment that we were about to turn around.
The facts were clear and the right decision was obvious. It was the perfect storm between post-surgery physical limitations, lack of income and overall safety. I knew we should turn back. Hell, it was going to be a hard enough adjustment without any of this. Trying to adjust and fend for food and supplies with no income not to mention a new puppy? That was a death sentence. Still, I held on to a tinge of hope. Even as we pulled off to the nearest exit to get bed down instead of our intended destination.
The conversation with my parents was not easy. I am not going to lie, I wept. The decision was final, we were turning around in the morning. I wasn’t in a place to be in Los Angeles without income, limited supplies, limited mobility and a new puppy on board and those were just the facts. I could not make sense of how or why my travels back to California continued to get pushed back no matter how hard I worked, how prepared I thought I was or how many times I had packed my bag. None of that mattered in this moment. Yes, I had done all that I could do, but this time it was out of my hands. Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you, and believe me, I’ve had my fair share. But this? THIS?? Come on.
I struggled with feelings of guilt, disappointment and complete and utter loss of direction. I felt so targeted by some higher power because of all of the things that have seemed to repeatedly keep me from getting my life back. And I knew that was ridiculous. Almost as if I’m the only one effected, which I knew wasn’t true and that is why I felt so guilty for this overwhelmingly selfish “why me” feeling. I had already struggled with feeling lost during this recovery when I realized I wouldn’t be back dancing probably until 2021. Most of my source of income and fulfillment for the past several years has been based on what my body can do whether it be dance or fitness. Coming to terms with the fact that the case would be different this year was a challenge. But I had my family at the pilates place I worked at prior to surgery behind me, and a job in place that allowed me to at least be in the fitness environment surrounded by people I love. And now even that was taken away for the time being. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from underneath me. I couldn’t help but let my brain circle the drain. I couldn’t stop thinking about the trajectory of where I saw my life being at 24 when I was a little girl, and where I was in this moment. This was not it. This was not even close.
I don’t know that I could ever explain the way I have felt during this recovery adequately to anyone who hasn’t gone through it, but I will try. When I say that this surgery has been a social isolation of its own, I am not being dramatic. It has been. I have struggled with being completely stripped of everything that made me me over the last several years- movement, dance, fitness, friends and a go go go lifestyle. I have had to learn to let go of the control and be okay with saying I am not fine. To lean on other people and accept help when it is necessary. To be okay with being alone and force myself to reach out to friends even when I am feeling my lowest. Because of the nature of this surgery, and my lack of clearance to drive, I was not able to leave the house on my own terms and I didn’t have any friends come visit me. And it was HARD. But, like I said I have learned so many valuable things and I would have to be okay with another delay in getting to put them to use back in California and entering another chapter of social isolation- this time implemented by the government.
Well, shit was f*cked but after venting to my family for a bit, I wiped my tears and was ready to move on. It helped that my dad returned from the gas station with a pint of cookie dough Halo Top. I felt at peace with the decision even though I was absolutely devastated. I knew it was the right thing to do regardless of how disappointed I was. This was completely out of my hands and rather than continue to wallow in it, we decided to make the most of our last night in Colorado. We stopped at Whole Foods a few towns back and picked up some wine, Capello’s grain free pizza and charcuterie board fixins. When I tell you the air fryer was the MVP of this trip I mean it. We watched a movie and ended the night with a heated game of heads up. It wasn’t the night I had envisioned. But it was exactly what we needed.
The rest of the drive was long and I had waves of emotion rush over me at different times. I did what I could to stay busy by sight seeing, reading and writing. We made a few detours on the way back to take in the views and try to enjoy ourselves. We were careful not to stop in counties with an influx of the virus as a precaution. This was unreal. The more I read the more paranoid I began to feel. I felt like I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone when we pulled into my parents’ house in Hampton again. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be there, but I was thankful to be with my family and determined to look at this time at home as a chance to put things into motion rather than a “pause” in my life.
Next up: Week 14