MPFL: Week 3

On a typical New Years Day, I’d wake up (probably a little or a lot hungover), head straight to the gym and likely hit the grocery store on the way back to set myself up for a ~clean ~ start to the new year. Obviously this year looked a little bit different. 

By this point, I’m starting to get extremely bored of my new daily routine. Netflix is unappealing, I am out of good books to read and I can only stare at my computer screen for so long. I’ve found that staying busy and remaining patient are two of the most important parts of this recovery process. It’s when you run out of things to do that your mind starts to take you down a non-productive downward spiral. I think my parents had kind of picked up on the fact that I was still a little down in the dumps so, in an effort to think of something new for us to do, my mom whipped out aprons and said “WE ARE GOING TO MAKE  HOMEMADE PASTA.” It wasn’t the New Year’s Day ritual I was used to, but it was something out of ordinary and that was exactly what I needed. Cooking and baking with all of my new gadgets has been a HUGE relief of stress and passer of time. Did the pasta turn out? No. Does it matter? No.

Moment of silence for the pie that was supposed to be pasta.

Physical therapy on week three started to pick up a little bit. I was consistently using the Nu-step for about 10 minutes to warm up. I may have been still coming in at dead last next to all of the people quadruple my age in PT, but hey, gotta start somewhere. Did Lance Armstrong win his first race?? I do not know, but I would like to think not!!! My knee was getting a little bit of a deeper bend each session and I was pretty happy about that. I felt a little more human and felt like maybe there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

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AND THEN I HAD A REALLY GOOD DAY. Santa was supposed to bring me new tennis shoes for Christmas, but he did not deliver, that stupid little fat man. He had left me a note under the tree saying that there has been delay but I do not know Santa personally, therefore I did not trust his promise. This may be the only time I admit this, but I was wrong. Santa pulled through in a big way. You the man, my dude. 

Last year around the holidays, I bought a pair of ON running shoes and let me tell you, I put some miles on those puppies. So much so, that I had worn holes in the toes and on the sides of my shoe. Since my gait has been so compromised since I started dislocating my right knee, that’s the shoe wore out first. The side started to wear out about halfway through the year and by this time, my toes were basically sticking out all directions possible. It was time to be less hole-y.The shoes arrived (not by sleigh as I expected, but via FedEx), and I couldn’t put them on fast enough. The gals at PT had been giving me shit about my holy shoes (of course I came back with ways “it’s not even Sunday!!!) so I was excited to let them know that Santa did not, in fact, forget about me!!! 

Once I got them on, I swear to you it was like they had super powers. This sounds so dumb, but when you are quarantined inside for weeks on end with the extent of my daily excitement being sitting on a different chair in the living room, you start to find joy in the most random things. These shoes gave me hope in a weird little way. I knew that I was not gong to be able to put them to use right away the way I used to, or even put them on without a little help, but just having them on my feet made me feel so excited for what’s to come. But for the time being, I was enjoying hobbling around the house and attempting PT exercises in them. I was even able to lift my leg off the ground unassisted for the first time! Things were looking up and I was looking much better in my new HOKA x OutdoorVoices Cloud tennies. LOOK OUT WORLD!

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When the weekend rolled around, it was time for my favorite weekly activity: Let Holly out of her cave day!!!!!! I had mastered Trader Joe’s and Target. I was ready to level up. At this point I had started to feel pretty confident in my capability to get around and I was craving pizza like you would not believe. I was seeing it on every TV show, movie, commecial, Instagram story, twitter post, TikTok (I have become a TikToker out of boredom, it’s true), Snapchat and even in my dreams. It was a sign. You bet your ass I am bringing pizza with me in 2020. Lucky for me, there’s a cute little pizza place called Princess in Iowa Falls about 20 minutes away from us. I told my parents that my mental health depended on me getting out of this town and eating pizza. That’s a proposition they could not turn down because I think they understood that I would likely turn into the hulk if project pizza party did not happen.  

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Banksy was very happy to be back in the bag :’)

Getting dressed and putting on makeup for the first time in forever (which by the way, my skin is loving me for this break) did wonders for my human-meter, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bit overwhelming. Since my brace is so bulky, and they need access to skin at PT for the e-stim, I have basically been living in shorts since my surgery…in the winter….in Iowa. Nice. Obviously, that’s not the look I wanted to go for to wear to Princess, but because I couldn’t quite wear jeans yet (mostly due to the swelling of my knee and rigidity of the denim), my options were pretty limited. 

I own two jumpsuits. One of which I wore to my Trader Joe’s field trip and the other that is cheetah print head to toe and now my only option left for my big Saturday outing. Subtle! Aside from being a bit obnoxious, this thing is DANG comfy. AND it was $7.99 on sale at Target. Very easy to put on and my brace fits over it like a charm. Problem solved. I was ready to go and feeling semi-cute brace and all.

Luckily we got front row parking, because it had just snowed and iced over a bit the night before. My dad grabbed one of our doormats from home to put it on the icy ground outside the car- God bless that man. Once I got inside, there was no hiding. As if my cheetah girl style jumpsuit wasn’t enough in small town Iowa, the clank clank clank of my crutches against the hardwood floor did the trick!!!!! I stared at the ground the entire walk in. Half because I didn’t want to fall and half because I was afraid I would have to answer the same questions everyone asks. I only had enough energy to do that one time today…for our server. And it paid off cause I think we got free dessert because of it. Ain’t nothing that a little pizza, wine and homemade ice cream can’t fix. I should add that by this point, I can handle a drink or two here and there. More human points for me! And thank god I had gotten my liver primed because Bachelor Monday was around the corner and I will not be caught watching without a glass of Pinot Noir in my hand.

Week three went down as my best week since my surgery. I started to make strides in PT, was off the pain medicine completely (save Tylenol), and got out of the house. I even finally stopped being a bit of a recluse and reconnected with some people who make me feel whole via FaceTime. It can be so easy to isolate yourself during a period of change and recovery, especially when you can’t get behind the wheel. I still am not cleared to drive, I am not even able to sit in the front seat. Obviously that puts a dent in making the rounds to see friends. For that reason, I’ve been so so appreciative of the support that I have received from friends, family and people I have connected with online who have read this or found me on Instagram because of similar surgeries. It’s been a big relief to have such a support system behind me and that I can be on the other side of the support system for some of the fellow MPFLers I’ve met along the way. 

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP. I set a goal for the next week to start to ease my way back in the gym and harass my parents for more field trip time. At this rate, I’m going to have to invest in some more jumpsuits

MPFL: Week 2

Week 2 (December 24 – 31)

Christmas was quickly approaching and I had BIG dreams of leaving the four walls of house. I felt like I was going literally insane. We made plans to have our family Christmas in the morning and then *fingers crossed* go see family and friends in the afternoon. As I woke up and crutched myself down the hallway to check out what Santa had brought, I had one request. BARF BAG PLZ. I hadn’t been nauseous since my surgery day but damn was I feeling like I slept on a rollercoaster all night.

Since I had run out of my Percocet prescription, they gave me a new one for Tramadol. I took one in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve and I’m pretty sure that was to blame for the wave of nausea. Thankfully it passed and there was no pukestravaganza round two. CHRISTMAS WAS SAVED!!! We set up a stool for me to rest my leg on while I opened my presents. Things felt *almost* normal. Next step: gtfo of Hampton.

Prior to surgery, I hadn’t even thought about how difficult it would be to get in and out of a car or that fact that I wouldn’t be able to drive. That was the big hang up with traveling any where besides 2 minutes down the road to physical therapy. My parents live in the middle of no where so to get anywhere we need to go, it takes at least an hour and a half. We headed towards Pella (where I grew up) to see family and friends with the instruction from the doctor to stop about half way and get out to crush around as a precaution against blood clots.

img_3269-1This wasn’t too big of a concern for me because I had already gotten blood work done to test me for a genetic predisposition to blot clotting and I was in the clear.

I decided to fast on pain meds so that I could enjoy a glass of wine at our family friends’ house. Getting REALLY crazy over here. Once the long awaited moment had come, it took me over an hour to get through one glass and after two I couldn’t words. I felt like my brain was mush and when we tried to play What do you Meme, I struggled to read the cards without stuttering or fumbling over my words in some way. Maybe I was tired or maybe I really was ~tipsy~ after 2 glasses of wine. Whatever it was, wasn’t really worth it. If there’s anything worse than being on crutches, it’s being drunk on crutches and I was NOT about to go there. Cut off: party of one!

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Me *feeling* it

And for my next trick I will attempt to go up the stairs!!!! This was a three person job and unless I wanted to sleep on the couch (again) it was unavoidable. The bedrooms at our friends’ house are all up stairs. Basically I just sat down backwards and walked up the stairs with my arms while my dad held my legs and our friend Laura followed behind us with my overnight bag. Shoutout to everyone who made this journey possible.

The next day I had the pleasure of navigating a grocery store. Trader Joe’s. God, I missed my California friend Joe, the Trader. I got a Vitamix for Christmas (God bless you Santa) so I had all sorts of things that I wanted to pick up there. Now that I was more comfortable standing, I planned to spend some time in the kitchen whipping up whatever I could to pass the time.

TJ.jpgHummus, almond butter, smoothies, juices- WHERE DO I START?! I also talk non-stop about TJ’s cauliflower gnocchi, so that was also a must on the list (especially since I also got an air fryer). Very eager to do something that reminded me of LA, I think I was a bit overzealous to start my first public outing because not only did it take way longer than necessary, I was totally exhausted by the end of it. It felt good to get out and about, but I was beyond ready to go home and lay down.

I stayed that way for a few days. Although the pain had subsided, PT started to get more challenging. I was down to taking medication pretty much only before therapy sessions and sometimes at night. My mobility really hadn’t changed too much, but I had beed cleared to roll over on my stomach for “tummy time” like a god damn baby.

I laughed at it at first but it quickly became one of my favorite parts of rehabilitation. I had developed a horribly tight and extremely sore hip flexor and sore as fack left butt cheek from picking up the slack that my right leg had checked in a the OR door. Laying on my stomach gave my hip flexor a second to stretch and chill out. Plus, I’m such a stomach sleeper and was starting to get pretty sick of being on my back 24/7.

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On December 30th, I had my follow up appointment at Iowa Ortho. It’s a weird thing, walking into an orthopedic center. Everyonethere has crutches or a brace or has some sort of apparatus they are using just to get around. It’s like a car repair shop but for humans and I was next on the tune up list.

I saw the PA this time and this is where I bombarded him with questions. Most of those, I’ve already detailed previously. I will spare you the details of bringing up the giant metal rod that was through my entire leg again. He cleared me to begin to ween myself off of my crutches starting with one and going to none. This was GREAT news. He said the more I force myself to hobble around on it with my brace locked, the more it will stimulate my quad muscles to WAKE THE F UP.

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This is where I learned more about my cartilage deterioration. He said that had they known it was as bad as it is prior to surgery (it’s stage 4), they would have discussed other cartilage regeneration options prior to surgery. They could have taken my cells and sent them off to a lab to regenerate and then place them back behind my knee cap, but this process often isn’t covered by insurance and when it is, it takes a long time. I found out that day that the micro-fractures were unplanned and likely the source of a lot of the extra pain that I am having. I am hopeful this method works, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a fear that the cartilage loss will cause the same pain and discomfort I img_4496-1was having prior to surgery. But, during the recovery process, you absolutely cannot let yourself get caught up in the what ifs.

We ended this outing at Target. I was having moments of feeling sorry for myself as friends talked about they NYE plans back home in LA so my mom and I decided some cute pajamas and a nice bottle of champagne would help at least a little bit. I am not one to get caught up in Holidays (unless it’s my birthday that’s a different story) so I was kind of upset with myself that I was feeling low as NYE approached. I think it was just a culmination of all of the post surgery feelings. Like I’ve said a thousand times, it has not been easy. I miss dancing, I miss going on walks, I miss being able to drive anywhere and crank up the music and I miss holding my four-legged child in her dog bag OK?!?! I miss walking to the kitchen to grab a snack and being able to carry it back by myself. I miss showering without my mom having to sit in the bathroom to help me out. I miss my life back in California. I miss a lot ofthings. And I think I just got hit with a wave of it on New Years Eve. It is extremely difficult to go from feely moving and being active 7 days a week to nothing at all. It will get better, and that is what keeps my spirits high. But sometimes, the now is gnarly.

What has been cool to see, is a huge shift in what makes me happy. Before my surgery, I took a lot of what my body was capable of for granted. I would mindlessly walk into a spin class or HIIT workout and not even think about how cool it is that my body is able to do what I could do. Often times, I would even leave disappointed because I didn’t burn a certain amount of calories or beat my score from last time.

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On the morning of New Years Eve, I was asked to warm up on the “bike” at physical therapy. I kind of laughed at Kristin, my PT. I’m like dude, listen. I can’t even get off the couch by myself and you want me to ride this thing? She helped me onto it by lifting up my “dead leg” (as I like to call it) and explained that it’s called a Nustep and isn’t quite what I had been riding on during a spin class. It’s closer to a stair stepper machine, only sitting. Regardless, it was a step in the right direction that would challenge my leg to start bending more. I was served a slice of humble pie as the silver hairs to my left and right were taking laps around me on their machine while I had a whopping ZERO STEPS PER MINUTE. Rather than this being discouraging to me, I could not wipe the smile off of my face. This small amount of movement that I could manage, gave me a glimpse of hope for the weeks to come.

I am thankful for the support of my family and friends and my physical therapy team. I’m thankful that I have this as an outlet to share my experience, if for no one else’s benefit, for my own. It feels good to be candid about the ups and downs of this journey. I’ve been told that it gets a lot easier after about the 3rd week and writing this from a future perspective, I can say that is true.

 

MPFL: Week 1

Week 1

My first week post op was filled with lots of surprises, humbling moments and pain medication.  I was on a regimen of 2 percocet every 6 hours as needed, and trust me it was. I had told my mom that my pain score was about a 7 at the most all through the first week, but now that I am on the other side I can confidently say I was floating around a 9 nearly the entire time. I had steri strips with a compression/ice sleeve over it, covered by an ace wrap with a bulky brace around all of that. My leg was HUGE and I wasn’t sure how much of it was swelling and how much of it was bandaging. Quite honestly, I was scared to find out.

 

The worst task of the first few days (besides PT), was getting up to use the restroom. It often times took both my mom and my dad to help me off the couch and down the hallway, not to mention the extreme pain that came with shifting from horizontal to vertical. My mom had to stay in the bathroom with me to hold my leg up just so I could sit down. My right leg was unbendable and I had no control over it no matter how hard I focused to bend or move it . Why??

I learned at physical therapy the day after my surgery (yes, I started PT not even 24 hours after my surgery) that waking up my quadriceps would be one of the toughest hurdles I would have to jump. What I didn’t realize prior to the operation, is that the trauma of surgery would completely shut off my thigh muscles. And not just for the day, but for damn near a month. That became very clear to me during my first PT session.  No control over my quads means a lot of things physically, but on a larger scale it means no autonomy whatsoever. Putting on socks? Forget it. Getting off the couch? Forget it. Showering? You don’t even want to know.

But in case you do…I was allowed to shower on Thursday (2 days post op). That meant I got to take off my bandages and brace and that I was excited about. I had no idea what it looked like up in there. So that was about the only highlight of the experience.

 

My shower involved a chair from the dining room in my shower, a small step stool and my mom literally hosing me down like an animal and it was the most humiliating experience ever. Honestly I’m not sure how much of it was tears and how much of it was shower water. Aside from the pain, there was fear of slipping and a whole heap of realization falling down on me. Damn, this recovery is going to be vastly different than I thought it would be. 

Maybe I was overly optimistic or maybe I just had no freaking clue what to expect, but I for real thought I would be walking in a week or two and definitely behind the wheel and back in the gym. As a dancer and someone who is extremely active, watching my left leg soar through the exercises that my physical therapists guided me through, while my right leg is unable to leave the ground was tough to take. Still is. I have had several moments of sheer hopelessness and discouragement and, on the complete other end of the spectrum, moments of accomplishment that come from the slightest movements that I never thought I would consider a success.

By the end of the first week, I was running out on my pain medication and we had failed to taper off gradually. On Sunday, I had only Tylenol and was feeling great. I was up and about more than I had been, my at-home PT exercises went great and I even showered standing up and without much assistance (thank fcking god).

~iTs ThE lItTlE tHiNgS~

By this point, I had found that doing little things like doing my hair or wearing matching pajamas during the day helped me feel more put together and less miserable. So my mom picked up a cute little set for me to put on. I felt on top of the world…until Monday. I woke up in the middle of the night Monday in excruciating pain and struggled to get back to sleep. I think what happened was that when I was feeling good and “not even on pain meds!” I definitely was still on meds. Although I didn’t take any that day, I had an entire prescription bottle of oxycodone in my system still from throughout the week and once that had pretty much left my system I was in for it. 

 

 

Week one was a hazy blur filled with tears, pain meds and hard realizations. I had weird dreams almost nightly and had to sleep on the couch because I was unable to get myself on the bed, even with help. It took us 3 hours to figure out how to adjust the brace once we took out all of the stuff wrapped around my knee off and over an hour to navigate the first shower experience. I woke my mom up one night to ask her if she had enough zucchinis (???) for the zucchini bread that she wasn’t making and hasn’t made in maybe a decade. Thank you, narcotics. I couldn’t activate my quad and had to come to terms with the fact that this was going to be a long haul. I knew after week one that I would never take movement for granted again.

Check out week 2 here!

New year, new knee

If you would have asked me on New Years Eve 2009 to predict how I would end this decade, I probably wouldn’t have said in my finest pair of pajamas and bulky knee brace on a couch with my parents in Hampton, IA. But hey, here we are. 

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On December 17, I had a very long anticipated surgery done on my right knee. After nearly a decade of dislocations and pain that increased with each passing year, I had my medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) reconstructed using a cadaver ligament and micro-fractures done on the back side my knee cap to generate cartilage growth. If you’re thinking “what the hell does that mean,” here is the Reader’s Digest version. One of the ligaments that keeps my knee tracking properly was stretched out like an overused hair-tie due to chronic dislocations. To fix this, they went in and took out that useless thing and strung a dead person’s Gracilis from the inside of my leg through my knee cap and back to the inside in a hope to keep that knee cap tracking straight and not out to the side. Once they got in there, they were disappointed to find that I have virtually no cartilage left on the backside of my patella. Enter the micro-fractures. Hopefully, these will trigger my body to generate more cartilage on its own.

Ok, so I’m sure at this point you are very impressed with the amount of knowledge I have about this. I am too as I proofread this but I’ll admit, I wasn’t super well-informed about what the recovery looked like for this surgery. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, but I am most often the type that over analyze and over research things. So the fact that I did little to no extra digging around prior to D-day is very uncharacteristic. 

All of my research came while I was stuck on the couch, loaded on pain meds and feeling helpless. Sounds like a great time to circle the drain!!!! I scoured the internet for blogs or articles about other patient’s personal stories with recovery, but failed to find anything that gave me all of the answers that I wanted. In fact, most of what I found were horrible scar photos and people celebrating finally bending their knee after 3 months…..and that was not the kind of progress I was ok with having.

SO. I am not only writing this as another attempt at a new years resolution to write more consistently and as a little bit of therapy for myself, but also for people who may be in the same position that I was before I harassed the PA at my follow up appointment for answers. Which, by the way, some of those answers I think I may have been better off not knowing. He told me they literally had a metal rod in one side of my leg, through my knee cap and out the other side so that they could get to the bottom of my knee cap. Nice!

Alright, here we go. I am extremely happy to have a clear mind and finally feel myself enough to write again. I’m going to kind of chunk it up in different aspects of the recovery process because (no surprise here) I have a lot to say. Welcome to part one of my recovery story. 

Pre-op

My surgery was scheduled for December 10. I had just driven back from California with my dad mid-November and jumped right into a busy schedule back home. I had several choreography and teaching jobs lined up and worked the social media side of the ISDTA dance competition. During any downtime, it felt like I had an appointment of some kind. Dentist, doctor, gyno, orthopedic surgeon and the list goes on and on. My family lives in The Middle of Nowhere, IA, so trust me when I say I put some MILES on my car getting from point A to point B and back again. Before I knew it it was the day before surgery…and I was run down in all caps and also italicized. Also maybe underlined.

At first I wasn’t too mad at that. I knew I was about to have several weeks of downtime and sometimes it’s better for me to stay busy so that I don’t overthink the details. But once I started feeling nauseas and buried myself under about 4 blankets, I knew I was more than just run down. Yes, you guessed it. I was blessed with the flu the night before my original surgery date! I am not kidding when I tell you I haven’t been sick since like my sophomore year of college. WHY NOW. 

The flu came on hard and fast (hehe) with a dead sprint to the bathroom and a very glamorous projectile vomit as I tried my darnedest to hit the porcelain god. So close. So, so close.

I’ll spare you the rest of the gory details. But after spending a night half asleep on the bathroom floor, we got ahold of the surgery center and rescheduled. The new D-day was December 17, a week from the original date.

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Last workout for God knows how long, adios MPFL!

This was good for me. It gave me a week to decompress from my previous schedule, load up on nutrients and really soak up my last few days of being able to move freely. From the other side, that last part is something I am so grateful I was able to do.

Alright. Let’s try this again. Round 2. I had to get this stuff called hibiclens to wash my leg with the night before to disinfect. So I got that done (during what I didn’t know would be my last normal shower for a while…RIP) and headed to bed feeling rested and ready for my knee to get annihilated. Yeehaw!

Day of

HELLO NERVES!!!! I’m going to be honest, my memory of the morning before surgery is pretty hazy. I woke up at about 5:45, got dressed, said goodbye to my dog and got down the road on the way to Iowa Ortho in Des Moines with pretty much no idea what to expect and nothing to calm me down. And also a very empty and dry stomach. You aren’t allowed to eat or drink anything from midnight before your surgery date until after the procedure. My throat was dry as the Sahara and I couldn’t load up on coffee like I normally would with a 5:45 am wake up call. HInd-sight, that’s probably a good thing because my anxiety was through the roof without any caffeine.

After I got there, I filled out some paper work and then they took me back to put on a fancy shmancy hospital gown and pee in a cup to make sure I’m not pregnant. Which I can assure you, I am not. On another comical note and notice to my future surgery-havers, wear full butt underwear if you are going to be putting on a hospital gown…they are pretty open in the back and unless you wanna give the staff a show it is in your best interest. I did not do this. Tickets were free to the booty show on December 17, 2019. 

Then they put me in a reclining hospital chair and covered me up with a weird heated blanket. Once I was all settled, they let my parents come back. In this small area closed off by a curtain, the anesthesiologist came back and talked to me about what was about to happen. I had never been put under so I had a lot of questions. Most of them centered around “what the heck are you about to put in me?” The answer was propofol, lidocaine and fentanyl with another antibiotic for my penicillin allergy, just in case. During my time in the prep area, I met several extremely kind people that would be in the operating room with me. I was too nervous to think of any questions to ask, but felt comfortable and as ready as I could.

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Shortly after that, they wheeled me back to the OR and stuff started happening right away. All of the people that I had met during my short time in the prep area were resurfacing and beginning to get me set up on the table. It felt like a million people saying hello at different times and stating what they were going to be doing to me- “l’m going to help you on the table,” “I’m going to put in this IV,” “lift up your gown so I can attach heart rate monitors to you,”, “do you want to move your pony tail so you aren’t laying on your scrunchie?” You get the gist. 

And then I woke up.

Post-op

No, I did not skip anything. I didn’t even see Dr. Vinyard come into the OR and no one counted me down to “sleep” like I expected. I’m not even sure I knew they had started the drip before I was out cold. I learned later that my body reacted pretty significantly to the fentanyl. My blood pressure dropped more quickly and lower than anticipated, so they had to give me something to reverse the effects a bit. That probably has something to do with the fact that low blood pressure is already a norm for me. 

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Help me

Anyway, all went well and I woke up groaning on a hospital bed super dizzy with a straw in my mouth. WATER. Finally. They gave me a few more pills in some applesauce and my mom said they probably fed me toast too but I don’t remember at all. The only thing I remember is being incredible dizzy and disoriented. Like I had been asleep in a dark cave that had been spinning in circles for like 2320 years and I had just woken up for the first time. What day is it and what century am I in?? To help with the nausea for the car ride home, they put some sort of patch behind my left ear and once I started to feel a little bit better, they moved me to a different room where my parents and our family friend could come see me looking like a wet noodle.

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Next up they fit me for crutches and I insisted that I was fine and could do the adjusting on my own if I needed. This is classic me not wanting to admit that I am in fact not doing fine and have no idea how to set up crutches. My parents thought that was pretty funny cause I’ve been queen of “I’m fine!!!” since I was old enough to talk.

They put me in a wheelchair eventually and I asked for some more water. I also spotted some saltine crackers which I requested and then suffered through trying to eat them as the cracker stuck

to the inside of my mouth because it was so dry. I think I cracked a joke about the food here being gourmet! And that’s about the extent of my memory. That and I requested a green juice as soon as possible because I felt like I “needed some greens in my system” l o l. Green juice in one hand and puke bag in another, we were on our way back to Hampton and I was on my way to sleep. Right on!

It ain’t over, folks. Check out week 1 here.

Dear social media, it’s not you, it’s me!!!

I deleted social media for a week and I had a hard time shaking the overwhelming feeling of needing to share everything with everyone, or specific things with specific people…like I owed it to them or something. I think where that stems from is fear. Fear that if I don’t make myself relevant in peoples’ lives on Instagram, if I don’t stay funny on twitter…I won’t be relevant in their real lives.

On the flip side of things, staying off of it was way more easy that I had expected. I really wasn’t tempted to open it up or redownload the apps. Instead of flipping through instagram on my phone, I’d flip through old photos, check emails, FINALLY get rid of those annoying red bubbles that pop up on all of my apps. But most often, I kept my phone on ring on the table in my apartment and made myself busy with other things. I actually relaxed. The distraction of social media during downtime makes it hard to tune into just one thing. I find myself trying to wind down with a movie while simultaneously checking emails, posting an instagram and scrolling through pages and pages of tweets only to find that the movie is over and I couldn’t even tell you what the main character’s name is. So from a zoomed out perspective, it was easy and I succeeded and am going into the weekend feeling refreshed and present….blah blah blah.

Most people will say the key to staying off social media is to keep yourself busy. It’s kind of like a breakup in that way. In order to get over it, everyone will tell you to fill your days with activities and surround yourself with people who keep your mind off of it until, eventually, you forget you miss it. I think this method has some merit to it, but are you really healing from it if you just fill that void with something else? You can’t just put a patch over it and call it good. The hole is still there, there’s just something covering it up so other people don’t notice. So, I had one day in my 5 day hiatus that I didn’t even leave my apartment. A full day at home to force myself to relax and spend some uninterrupted time with myself. I woke up, made breakfast, cleaned my entire apartment, worked out watched a movie and then that’s when I felt it come crashing down on me. I had nothing to distract me from everything I was feeling. Everything that I had sort of let build up, because I was able to brush it under a rug, was starting to make its way out in to the open to hang out with me! How kind! With nothing to take my mind off of things, what did I do? Forced to deal with my feelings, I just sat in it (as uncomfortable as this was). Wrote in my journal…I also FaceTimed my mom. But what I didn’t do is post a photo on instagram to validate myself, tweet my feelings or creep on someone whose life appears to be 1 million times better than mine. What if we didn’t have social media to distract us from feeling this way? Would we be more in touch with our feelings as a generation? Would we be more productive? Would people actually focus on creating meaningful and lasting relationships? How do we even do that without the internet….???

What sucks is that it’s become trendy to go on a “social media cleanse” and then hop on instagram live and answer all sorts of questions about it to your thousands of followers. Was your intention really pure then? It’s all so frustrating to me and I find myself somewhere in the middle of it all. I think social media is a fantastic tool. There is so much to learn about the mechanics of these outlets and the influence it can have over people, businesses and relationships is second to none (I mean have you seen the FYRE documentary???) It allows you to connect with people from all over the world and opens you up to opportunities that would have been impossible in the past…but there’s gotta be a happy medium. I get so tired of always having the thought in the back of my mind of “I should post this!!!” or “If I post this then x y and maybe even z!!!!!” No. You should enjoy it while you can because this moment is gonna pass, probably already did.  I’m even more sick of always having the fear that I’m way cooler on the internet. What if they think my photos look better than me in real life? What if I’m not as funny as my tweets or instagram captions? I start competing with this made up version of myself. Read that sentence again. I AM COMPETING WITH MY-MF-SELF. How stupid. If anyone in the world is gonna be a fan of mine, it should be myself. At the very least. The unrealistic expectations social media (and media in general) enables us to create are out of this world.

While it’s fun to entertain the thought of what 2019 would be like without social media, it unfortunately is pretty out of the question. Sure, you can delete the apps and pretend that alternate universe doesn’t exist, but it very much does. And it’s not going away. Even if they did outlaw it, I am fully confident that there would be some sort of strange selfie prohibition or bootleg app access. Wouldn’t that be a trip. Bottom line is that there can be a lot of good done through these outlets but I think most of us could benefit from taking a step back and asking ourselves if the time we are spending on social media is helping or hurting us. And I’m not gonna lie, it felt pretty good to ghost around for those 5 days.

Who has two thumbs, is 23 and also has arthritis??!

If you would have asked me how 2019 was going to start for me, I wouldn’t have said in an Orthopedic surgery center listening to LANY Pandora while getting an MRI on my knee.

My trip home for the holidays was full of travel, good food and catching up with friends I shouldn’t have let myself drift from. I saw so many people and spent so much quality time with my family, but my two week escape from Los Angeles ended on a pretty heavy note. I found out that I will be needing surgery on my right knee due to severe ligament damage and beginning stages of arthritis. Oof. That’s not exactly the news you want to receive when your three current jobs are at a cycling studio, a HIIT training center and dancing for an NBA team. Just three days into the new year and I had found out that I would be spending nearly half of 2019 in recovery. Trying to swear less this year but….Fuck.

I can’t say I was blindsided by this news. Actually, I don’t even think I could tell you the last time I didn’t feel discomfort or instability when I’m dancing. It’s been something I’ve dealt with for about 10 years so at this point, the pain and distrust in my knee had become normal for me. When I was around 13 I dislocated it for the first time. From that point forward, my medial petellofemoral ligament stretched out, and only continued to do so, as I went on to dislocate it somewhere around 15 more times…not something I would wish on my worst enemy. As you can probably imagine, this has created a plethora of other issues. Hip, back, ankle, and more joint specific, additional knee problems. My patella does not track the way it should because the ligament that keeps it in line looks like a stretched out hair-tie (and we all know how annoying those are). That means I’m 23 years old and have the beginning stages of arthritis from the wear and tear. I always knew I was an old soul but I was hoping that wouldn’t translate to wrinkles and joint damage.

On the bright side of things, the surgery isn’t emergent (as I’ve basically done all the damage I can do aside from injuring it again). But my ortho did say that if I put it off for too long, I will likely have to have a full knee replacement by the time I’m in my mid 30’s. How the hell does someone whose livelihood is based off of activity process that information?

Like I said, I am not shocked by any means. I had hope that it could be fixed with physical therapy and maybe a little rest. But to hear the ortho say that someone will be calling me in the next few days to schedule my surgery has really thrown me for a loop. Being completely candid, I do not plan to spend the next 10 years pursing dance as my sole career. That doesn’t mean I love it any less, I just learned a lot about myself this last year and I am confident that 2019 will be full of lots of change and big decisions regarding my career path (and life in general) yada yada yada. But as I thumb through my planner trying to find a date to get this thing taken care of, it’s tough to accept that some of these decisions are probably going to have to come sooner than planned. And not because I said so, but because my stupid knee did.

Dance and activity have become part of my identity. It’s the reason why I even moved away from my friends and family, who I feel so fulfilled around. I have sacrificed a lot for it mentally, physically, emotionally…even financially. I’m not writing this for sympathy or to be overly dramatic. I am aware that this could be so so much worse. I will be back and better than ever after 6 months, I don’t have to have a full replacement, it’s not my ACL, it’s fixable. But it’s a lot for me to process. I’ve spent the last few days with my mind racing about what this means for my career, my hobbies, my fitness level, my calendar, where I live, what I do, what if there are complications, what if my body rejects the new tendon, spiral spiral spiral. I am writing this because the first thing I wanted to do, as I sat in the specialist’s office fighting back tears, is pull out my laptop and vent the best way I know how. The way that seems to allow me to get out everything that I’m thinking better than any verbal conversation I could ever have. Maybe this is God’s way of telling me I need to slow down. Pack my schedule less, learn how to relax, focus on nurturing relationships in my life more, write more, learn how to play that guitar that’s collecting dust in the corner of my studio apartment….the list goes on. I plan on doing all of the above things and know I will be better off in the long run. But, boy oh boy, are times a changin’.

As far as scheduling goes, the plan is to wait until late spring, early summer (and hopefully after basketball season has officially ended). Until then, catch me with my sleek new brace soaking up the next 6 months of activity.

Am I doing this right?

It’s been so long I don’t even know how to work WordPress anymore. After taking a long Hiatus from writing I’m sitting here putting my fingers to the keyboard for the first time in a long long time faced with the question of why. Why did I stop doing this for so long? Did I just get too busy? Did I think that I wasn’t good enough? Maybe I just got self conscious that no one was reading them or that the people who were reading them didn’t like them? As I toss these questions around in my mind, I’m having trouble coming to a conclusion. I went back and took a look at the last entry I made (back in July might I add) and I even wrote in the intro that this was a half-assed blog post done only so that I could say that I kept my New Years Resolution of writing every month. How sad. I was already checked out at that point. Sure I posted something and technically stayed true to my goal for the year but the heart and intention behind it was missing. What was I trying to prove and who to? Myself?

Here’s the thing. I tend to be offput by things that everyone else is doing. Why I stopped keeping up with my blog is the same reason why I *still* haven’t listened to that new Ariana song. And at this point, I am actively AVOIDING ‘thank u, next.’ Like it was playing in the background of someone’s Instagram story and I quickly exited out of the app. It’s ridiculous, really. But it’s the truth. So when I scroll through Instagram stories and everyone is like “Swipe up to read my blog post on how I scrubbed weird shit off my tongue this morning!!!” Or “Link is in my bio for a video of my burping the alphabet!!” I started thinking why the HELL are we so preoccupied with other peoples’ lives?! And that’s when I realized my intention for writing wasn’t what it used to be. It didn’t feel good anymore.

I live in LA. Where nearly everyone is seeking notoriety, validation or in some way or another, fame. The same things that drive me absolutely bananas about LA are the same reasons why I moved here. To be selfish. To ~explore myself~. To follow my dreams. Somewhere between writing about whatever I wanted and writing what I thought everyone else wanted to hear is where I lost the part of writing that’s always been so therapeutic to me. I swear to you (and if you know me you know this is true) I am so much better at just letting my hands do the talking (wink wink that sounded a lot more sexual that I intended). All joking aside though. I sometimes struggle to get myself to say what I mean for fear of the person on the other end of the conversation misunderstanding or passing some sort of judgement, but when I just sit down, turn my brain off and let my fingers type or hand write – boom. There it is.

So, I’m not coming back here to make some sort of goal to write weekly, or even monthly. But what I am here to do is start writing more. Not because I’m trying to become some sort of blogger, or because I think you give a shit about my morning routine or which farmers market I frequent, but because I freaking love to write. And I like to write in the style that I do, about the topics that come to my head whether they fit into some sort of niche or not. Because it makes me feel good to communicate in a way that doesn’t involve me overthinking. Quite honestly, writing is pretty much the only thing I do in my life that allows me to overcome my chronic overthinking. Not even dance gives me that sort of freedom- which is crazy for me to even process. Why the f would I ever let what everyone else is doing or thinking take that freedom away from me?