This was me a couple of weeks ago and the other picture is from around seven years ago.
It helps to keep looking at these old pictures because it is so easy to forget how far I have come, particularly when it has been a hard week. I really overdid it the week before last and traumatized the muscles around my new knee by walking 22,000 steps in two days. I was doing fine with 7-10,000 per day, a little sore but feeling good. But I got overconfident and thought I could return to my pre-surgery exercise level. Not yet, friends, not yet. Because I did too much the week before, this week I can hardly walk. I am doing the physical therapy and some stationary bike, but the pain is too intense for too much walking. This too shall pass, but clearly exercise is important for weight loss as well as for on-going health. Doing roughly half of what I did the week before, my average weight did not change. That is OK. I need to let this knee heal. I am still working on becoming more patient
It was good to be back in the group this week. I am still getting to know most of the people that attend the 5 o’clock meeting and I do miss those I knew better in the other groups. I find it depressing that so many people drop out – and I am impressed that others keep coming back even when they are struggling. None of this is easy. Companions along the way are critical.
My surgery was on 9/10, which is just 2 months ago. I need to remember how well I am actually doing, even when it doesn’t feel that way. Probably a good reminder for lots of things in life. Perfectionism is a curse and can tend to make us emphasize our mistakes and failures way out of proportion to our successes and the good things we do.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 34232 steps last week for 14.6 miles. I ate approximately 9100 calories and burned 12863 for a deficit of 3763. My average weight this week is the same as last week’s average for a total loss of 151.
Progress is walking without a cane. I am now averaging 10,000 + steps per day and walking up and down hills. These steps are part of a shortcut down and back to the marina. I can now go up them, but down is harder. It has been 2 months since my surgery, and they say the pain improves significantly after 3. I am glad to have electric power again so I can ice my knee after a long walk.
I have been walking through the pain. It is a metaphorical journey in a way, a lyrical song of what it means to be alive. Not all of us can walk without pain just as some of us cannot walk at all. None of us lives without pain. Life is full of grief and loss, disappointment, frustration, and despair. We battle fears and addictions, searching for the courage and confidence to soldier on. The war analogies are apt. We are all refugees seeking safe harbor, a place of more joy and, most of all, more hope.
This journey I have been on is no different than many others. The path, although marked, is not always clear. What keeps me moving along is that thing with feathers, a small flutter of hope waiting to take wing. When I pastored a parish, or served as a hospital chaplain, what I found people seemed to need the most, when they were overwhelmed by events in their lives, was simply to have someone with them, a calm presence that listened, that recognized and acknowledged their pain. They did not need advice or platitudes; they just wanted to know that they were not alone. They needed someone to hold the hope for them, to keep it safe, while they grappled with despair.
If you are a believer, God can help serve this need, but judgement is not part of the Holy I know, so don’t worry about that. There is a Spirit holding us, and holding all that we are and all that we love. It keeps that ember of hope warm, even when the power goes out, even when we feel like giving up and even in the midst of hopelessness and helplessness.
And sometimes you have to give yourself a break; you really need to take a break. Last weekend I think I overdid the walking w/12,000 steps on Saturday and 11,000 on Sunday. My knee was swollen and throbbing from that effort. More ice, and a couple of days off from long walks was in order. For myself, I can be as disciplined as I need to be only if I allow myself small breaks when I need them. Some days I can’t really exercise. Some days I really want a small dessert, so I have a cookie. It is the long term attention that works, best held with an open hand. Too much rigidity can be a set up for a serious shattering of my intentions.
On another note, I always learn something at church and not only during worship. Last Sunday at coffee hour, someone told me, humorously, that “I was not half the woman I used to be.” That is not quite true yet, but if I lose another 10 pounds or so, I will be at exactly half my starting weight. Weird to think about that. I am so much less and so much more than I was then. Life really is a mystery.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 71319 steps last week for 30 miles. I ate approximately 9814 calories and burned 15096 for a deficit of 5282. My average weight this week is down 2 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 151.
Despite the power being out for 3+ days, I managed to eat fairly healthy meals as we cleaned out the fridge and freezer to save as much of the food as we could. This was last night’s dinner – shrimp w/hot sauce and sesame oil, beets, and Brussels sprouts. I had to boil the beets and steam the sprouts rather than roasting them like I prefer. We have a gas stove, but the oven is electric.
The house was freezing so I probably burned some extra calories just keeping warm. Although my knee still hurts and I missed being able to ice it after exercise, I have been able to take long walks again, mainly in the morning when the smoke from the fires just to the north of us has been a little less.
It has been a dramatic and traumatic week, the kind of week where it would be really easy to get off-track, both with eating and with exercising my knee so that it keeps improving. I am happy to say that I think I did very well. At least I did not lose any ground in either area.
Another impact of the fires and power outages was that the facilitator could not make it to the 5 PM meeting tonight, so the meeting was cancelled. Unfortunately, I did not learn that until I had driven there. No worries, in the scheme of all that is happening, it was only a minor irritation. I hope everyone is doing OK. It hasn’t been a good week for California, but people helped each other as best they could to get through it.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 44826 steps last week for 18.8 miles. I ate approximately 9457 calories and burned 14030 for a deficit of 4573. My average weight this week is down .2 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 149.
This week at the knee class, I remembered to snap a pic. It isn’t as fancy as the one I found a picture of on-line last week, but it does the job. I lost 2 degrees on my knee bending, down to 128 instead of 130, but no worries as 120 is the goal and I took it a bit easier on some of the exercises the last few days because I have apparently strained my adductor muscle. The physical therapist couldn’t figure out quite how I did it, but he worked on it for awhile with massage and said to not do anything that makes that muscle hurt. It too will heal.
I am completely off the oxycodone now and drove myself for the first time on Tuesday. Freedom of the road – even if it was only 2 freeway exits from my house and it felt great. Since the surgery was on my left leg and we have an automatic, it was easy. My pain level is back up without the drugs, but it is tolerable. I see the doctor later in week and hope to be able to start using naproxen again rather than Tylenol.
I also did a walk – outside – without even cane!
It has been a very long time since I have taken a walk without using a cane. It is a little scary, but is also quite wonderful.
As hard as it has been, I am amazed at my progress after the surgery. Even more incredible is how I have continued to lose weight during this time, even without putting much effort in. Until this week, my exercise has been very minimal, so my “calories out” have been low. But without the long walks and other exercise, I haven’t been as hungry so haven’t really needed as many “calories in.” Keeping track of both my exercise and food intake helps my brain and body communicate with each other. I understand the signals better. A few nights this week, while weaning myself off the pain meds, I didn’t sleep well at all. During the days after those lousy nights, I felt hungry, but it wasn’t food I needed, it was energy. Naps were in order.
Since I am now able to drive, I was able to attend the group this week. It was good to see people! The quote of the day was, “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” (Laurie Buchanan). I liked it, although not everything is within our power to change, but like in the serenity prayer, that is where wisdom needs to come into the equation.
Speaking of math, I have decided to choose to change how I record my weight statistics in this blog. The Kaiser meetings are on Wednesdays which are the official “weigh-in days). I also weigh myself each morning at home, the results of which go into my Fitbit app which also calculates my average weight for each week. The Fitbit (and Lose-it) weeks are Monday-Sunday, so it is making less sense to use the Wednesday weigh in number. So as of this week, I am going to use the average Fitbit number instead. It will be more accurate in the long run I think, as an average evens out minor fluctuations and it will also match my calorie-in, calorie-out, weeks, which will let me know how accurately I am estimating some of my calorie intake.
Even with the kaiser numbers, I lost 6.6 pounds in the 6 weeks since my surgery. Not too bad. It helped that I couldn’t have any alcohol with the medications. Once I can switch from Tylenol to naproxen I will have at east one martini!
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am still drinking about 96 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 35723 steps last week for 15 miles. I ate approximately 9289 calories and burned 13307 for a deficit of 4018. I am down .2 pounds for a total loss of 148.8.
I forgot to snap a pic of the actual knee class I went to this week, but it was in an actual gym at the medical center which looked kind of like this one. For an hour, under the guidance of a physical therapist, I worked on knee strengthening exercises along with 6 or so other people also recovering from knee surgery. We used a knee press, a leg lift machine, stepped up and down off of wooden blocks, and rode an exercise bike. I focused mainly on the other equipment as I have a bike at home. I was definitely tired afterward, but was quite proud as my surgery was more recent than anyone else and my flexibility (both straightening and bending) was the best of the group there that day. I can bend my knee 130 degrees and can get my leg perfectly straight – zero degrees. (My leg may be the only thing straight about me!) All the work before and after surgery is paying off. I no longer need a cane at home and my pain is improving even as I am decreasing the pain meds.
Other victories: I no longer need help in the shower or with dressing, I am also able to cook meals that don’t require a lot of standing. I know I will be back to walking the neighborhood before very long at all – we did a short almost loop yesterday. My Fitbit shows that my steps, miles, cardio minutes, and calorie burn are all dramatically up from last week. I expect to be off of all of the pain meds except Tylenol in just a few days. My knee still hurts, but I want to be able to drive. After weeks of being so dependent, the freedom and power to do things for myself is very important to me. Self-determination, agency, is what I crave, but I would not call it self-reliance as I know how much I will always need the support of others. My friends and family cheering me on during the recovery process (just like they have on my weight loss journey) has really made it all a lot easier.
My support system has proved the grist, but the grit I suppose is my own. I do know that success in meeting one challenge can help make other challenges feel more attainable. I am seeing the rewards. Hard work can pay off. Luck and grace also never hurt.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 96 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 27165 steps last week for 11.4 miles. I ate approximately 9415 calories and burned 12848 for a deficit of 3433. I am down 4.2 pounds for a total loss of 148.6.
I am back up on the horse. Um, back up on the bike. It was really rough for a few weeks after my knee replacement surgery, but now, a full month later, I definitely feel like I am on the mend.
I was able to bend my knee 129 degrees last week, only 3 weeks post surgery. The end of rehab goal is 120 degrees so I am already there. My home physical therapist was amazed and impressed with my progress, particularly because I had a very hard first week with 3 E/R visits and passing out twice. I am now using a cane rather than a walker and am starting to wean myself off of the heavy-duty pain pills. I even go on the exercise bike 15-20 minutes a day in addition to the 6 specific physical therapy exercises that I do 3 times each day. My life is awfully routine. Wake up, eat, take pain medications, exercise, ice and elevate, a little time on the computer, repeat and repeat again. Read for awhile, maybe watch a little TV, and then bedtime. I also find time to take a shower each day, mainly around when Anne is how to make sure still I don’t fall – or I guess so she can call the paramedics if I do.
It all feels so much better, though. I have turned my Fitbit hourly movement reminders back on, and try get the 250 steps per hour in for 10 hours of each day. I still have some significant pain, especially after doing the exercises, but it is becoming more manageable. I am also now doing out-patient physical therapy, including being scheduled for a “knee class” which involves using gym type machines to strengthen my leg muscles.
I really miss the weekly group meetings and hope to get back in another couple of weeks when I can drive again. On-going support and accountability partners are so important to this lifestyle change.
I am back to what feels like easy losing. My exercise is increasing and I have been keeping my calorie intake to a reasonable level. I am not feeling hungry, but look forward to when I am burning more calories each day and am off the pain pills. Then I can indulge in an occasional martini again. I really miss the olives!
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 96 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 6634 steps last week for less than 3 miles. I ate approximately 8827 calories and burned 10752 for a deficit of 1925. I am down 2.24 pounds for a total loss of 144.4.
It finally feels like I am recovering. It has been 3 full weeks since my knee replacement. They keep saying it is major surgery, and I am not disagreeing. I still have a lot of pain, but I am even beginning to think it might be close to the time when I can start tapering off the narcotics. I asked when I can start taking ibuprofen again, rather than Tylenol. Tylenol has never provided sufficient pain relief for me. They said 6 weeks after the surgery. Everything is 6 weeks it seems, including being able to drive. I will be practicing patience in the meantime, which is not my strongest attribute.
I tried walking with a cane rather than a walker, under the supervision of my physical therapist. Scary, but I did OK. The fear of falling is real, but I am (slowly) getting my balance back. The knee bending exercises are going very well. I am almost at the 115 degrees they want after 6 weeks and it has only been three. I may be pushing too hard, which of course increases the pain level,
My weight is now down to my pre-surgery number. It helps that my surgical leg is no longer swollen to twice the size of my other one. I am still recording what I eat, but not stressing about it.
As I get better, I am getting grumpier about all the things I still can’t do. Like I said, patience is tough. I can only hope Anne has more patience with me than I have with myself. We went for a drive this afternoon, and it felt good to get out of the house, even if I did not get out of the car until we got back home.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 96 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 5600 steps last week for less than 3 miles. I ate approximately 9219 calories and burned 11068 for a deficit of 1849. I am down 3.4 pounds for a total loss of 142.2.
The pain is insane and this “iceman” is my friend. It keeps cold water circulating and lasts 4 or more hours. Ice helps, as do the meds, but pain really is a constant part of my life now. It isn’t unbearable, but it is hard, particularly right after I do my physical therapy exercises. “What is the difference between a terrorist and a physical therapist? ” ————————————————————You can negotiate with a terrorist.
Seriously, I like the therapist who has been coming to the house once a week. I can now bend my knee to a 95 degree angle. It was 85 last week, so progress, better than average he said. I still like numbers and retain a competitive spirit. It keeps me going.
The pain was pretty intense a few days ago and I wrote this poem. It made me feel better, as poetry often does.
White cotton candy spun
Ice cold across skin
Purple with pain swollen
With hope for relief
How long will this last?
Dinosaurs could tell us
The beached whales struggle
In the sand washed by tears
An ocean’s gift a sea of grief
Spins the ice numbing into stillness
A fissure opens ragged as
A nightmare vision
Bruised bodies heal
And will move
I wonder if in previous years, before the opiate crises, there would be less pain to endure. I understand the need to restrict the narcotics, but for a couple of weeks right after surgery, it would have been much easier if my pain could have been better managed. I really don’t think I am at a particularly high risk of becoming addicted. There were some points last week when I would have happily accepted anything that would have reduced the pain, so maybe that is part of the problem. If doctors are afraid to prescribe sufficient medications, some people will likely turn to street drugs instead. There has to be a better answer.
I got the staples out of my incision today, which is progress and means I can take actual showers again, but it was super painful too. It is hard to focus on anything else when you hurt.
Yeah, I am whining, and whimpering too.
My weight is creeping up slightly, about 4 pounds since my surgery, but I am not stressing about it. I find that having a few yummy meals cheers me up when I am dealing with so much. I am not going wild or crazy, but did enjoy the burrito for dinner last night and the take out Chinese food we had earlier in the week. Body and soul are one, and an extra peach after lunch isn’t a bad thing if makes me feel a bit better. I also believe it will be fairly easy to lose whatever small amount of weight I gain, once I can start serious exercise again. Some of the gain may also be water weight as my leg is still swollen. Every day now is a little better than the day before. Baths and the pool or hot tub will still be a couple of months away for me, but now that the staples are out, a shower sounds absolutely fabulous. The simple things are sometimes what one misses the most. Living a constricted life can fill you with gratitude for glimpses of a more expansive future. I am on the mend. Maybe in a few more weeks, I won’t be whining quite as much. No promises.
On a positive note, maybe we can finally get rid of the tyrant, although the impeachment process is likely to be more difficult than a knee replacement. You have to do it though, if you are going to have the freedom and the ability to go where you want to go and do what you need to do.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 96 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 6925 steps last week for less than 3 miles. I ate approximately 10,010 calories and burned 11228 for a deficit of only 1218. I am up 1.2 pounds for a total loss of 138.8.
Recovery from knee replacement surgery is going to take some time. The surgery was a week ago and I have been to the ER 3 times. Once for a blood clot scare and twice because I fainted. Health care in the US is not the best even if you have good insurance and a better than average provider. The Beatles song “Back in the USSR” has been running through my head. “You don’t know how lucky you are, boy”
I can feel lucky and pissed at the same time. Lucky it isn’t worse but furious it hasn’t been better. Most of the kaiser staff have been great but a couple of the ER docs were arrogant jerks.
With all the emergency room visits physical therapy and meals have both been pretty hit and miss. I can’t let my blood sugar or pressure get too low or I will pass out again. Luckily I was seated with someone with me both times so I did not hit the floor or get hurt. The ER nurse gave me a hospital hamburger yesterday. I had chocolate pudding there the day before.
This recovery is hard and there is a lot of pain. The medications help some but not enough. What is hardest is the emotional stuff though. Isn’t that always true? Not being listened to, not being treated with respect is even worse when you feel lousy and are scared. It is also hard not being able to take care of myself and being dependent on others for my very survival. I am so lucky to have family and friends that love and support me. Anne runs herself ragged helping me and I hate that too.
The lack of control and lack of agency is difficult for an obsessive control freak like me. It is particularly weird around food. For the last year and a half I have been in complete control of what I eat. I cooked what I wanted and ate when I needed to eat. I probably won’t be able to prepare my own food for at least another week. It has been a major mental adjustment and needing help with food is harder for me than needing help in showering and dressing. Makes sense I guess, but it took me by surprise to have a meltdown about the plans for dinner.
I am still trying to eat relatively healthy foods and I am going to up my calorie intake for awhile to give my body more energy to heal.
Defining and redefining each day as I work with a changing sense of what is normal. Rest and push myself. Elevate and ice. Remember to eat. A real joy is being able to sit at my office desk. I am going to limit it to an hour at a time but that one small thing helps me understand that although what is normal for me will keep changing, I can still do a few things that will make me feel better.
L’Chaim! This week’s stats: I am drinking about 96 ounces of water most days. My Fitbit report shows 8783 steps last week for less than 4 miles. I ate approximately 8561 calories and burned 11733 for a deficit of 3172. I am up 3 pounds for a total loss of 140.
They say women forget the pain of childbirth. I think that is a lie. That first child brings such joy that the pain is worth it and you want another child. Maybe knee surgery will be like that too. Like a new born, last night I slept 4 hours until I woke needing my 2 am feeding of painkillers and a replenished ice machine. Then another 4 hours of rest. This is all more than full time jobs for my dear Anne Marie Spatola and myself. I don’t think the other parent ever forgets the exhaustion of those first few days either. Joy and pain can be woven so finely together. Another drug induced metaphor as I drift again into a healing sleep
Not too confident doing a blog post on my phone but I am not up yet to sitting at my desk. The knee replacement surgery itself went well but I had to go to the emergency room the day after because I fainted. I think they sent me home too soon. All is fine now but everyone was right when they said a lot of pain was involved. The above paragraph I wrote this am. I have still weighed myself ever day and am recording my calories but am not trying to lose more weight during this recovery period. My body needs to heal with no extra stress added.
Interesting to learn how many calories Fitbit thinks I am burning with virtual no exercise at all. Roughly 1500 it seems. When I can get my RMR tested again we can see if that is at all accurate.I move from my bed to the bathroom. And to the living room for meals and watching debates. My weight is up 3 pounds. Mostly due to swelling. It is all good. The baby of my new knee has been born now we just want to be able to sleep through the night.