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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Huffington Post cannot do basic Google

Someone linked this article on my facebook feed.

Ah! How nice! A positive spin on this doping-fraught scandalous year of running!
Oh wait.
Who's this?

Why, it's Rita Jeptoo breaking the tape at the Boston marathon. Yeah, you might want to do a little Googling before you hit publish, Huffington Post.
(Since then, thanks to myriad comments, they've edited the article to "17 photos...." and deleted Jeptoo's.)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Post-op visit - right hip

I snuck away from work yesterday for my post-op visit, ten days after surgery. It was kind of sad - it was my last time seeing Dr. Van Sice, and that's depressing. He's starting his own practice out of state, which is good for him, but I'll miss him a lot. He's an excellent doctor and a skillful surgeon. And if you are ever in Florida (where he's moving) and need hip surgery, I wholeheartedly recommend him.

We started with x-rays, which showed the difference in bony impingement.
Then Dr. Van Sice showed me the images of the surgery. I wish I'd taken them home like I did last time, because this was pretty interesting: for one thing, you could clearly see the labrum lifted off the bone. You could also see the stitch anchors being inserted in the bone, and the bright blue stitches sewing my tear back up!
This isn't my hip, but it shows the stitch anchors and the sutures! From here. 

We'd already gone over details of the surgery while I was putting my contacts back in right after surgery (I hate talking to people without my contacts: I am afraid I will misunderstand them without visual cues. I'm pretty blind), so I didn't have a lot of questions about the procedure, but Dr. Van Sice laid out the timeline, since a repair heals differently from a debridement.
First two weeks Crutches with touch-down weight bearing only. Expect more pain, since more work was done in the hip than last time (ie, stitch anchors and stitches). Start PT.
Third week: Begin crutch-walking: weight bearing, but with crutches to assist. Allow pain to guide how much work your arms do vs. your legs.
Fourth week: Start using a single crutch on opposite side; wean off crutches.
By 28 days post-op, should be fully weight bearing AND can get rid of the brace.  Last time I was supposed to keep the brace for six weeks, but I gave up around four weeks, anyway...
Range of motion restrictions are mainly lifted at four weeks, though some cautions extend to six weeks.
Pool running can commence immediately following closure of wounds and 48 hours with no drainage. Exercise bike with low/no resistance for up to an hour a day is encouraged. Elliptical can happen around week 8 or 9, pending PT approval.
Running starts week 12, when the labral stitches are all nicely healed!

Meanwhile, my nurse brought in her trainee, whom I know from Tulane! because she's going out for maternity leave soon. New nurse was supposed to take my stitches out, but the disposable tweezers were hard to work with, and as she kept tugging and probing, the nurse started actually getting grossed out and had to sit down! So I took my own stitches out. Yes, IN the doctor's office. It's akin to self-checkout at Lowes.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Eve with kids

We went to David's family's house for Christmas Eve, as usual. We have been doing a family secret Santa thing, and I keep drawing one of David's sister's names - and that's fine, because she's easy to shop for. She wanted a gift card - perfect. Easy enough to shop for when you're on crutches! I hate being a boring gift-giver, but in this case it was all for the best.

I wore a pastel floral top, a cardigan, coated jeans, and navy snakeskin heels. Not that Christmasy, but oh well.

For the last five years, our Christmas Eve celebrations have included kids, since David's brother now has three kids. And I just have to say: all those people out there who are like, "Oh! Christmas is so much more magical once I had kids! You'll get all excited about Christmas again once you have kids!" are crazy. 
Christmas with kids is a loud, hectic example of why materialism is evil. It is a showcase of the worst childish behaviors, like whining, defiance, hyperactivity, selfishness, and disobedience. It's also a great lesson on the ineffectual use of bribery, trickery, cajoling, and debating in controlling kids' behavior.
For example - now, no one reads or even knows about this blog, so I can complain about loved ones anonymously, which is great  - the oldest nephew, who is five, spent the entire dinner shrieking at us. He kept hollering at us to shut up, because if we kept talking we'd NEVER finish eating, then he'd NEVER get his presents! I mean, kids aren't perfect, so I can understand a kid saying that once. But it continued the entire meal, while his parents tried to reason with him. "It's taking longer to answer you than to talk to each other!" "You're the one who's talking!" etc.
Now, I'm not a parent, but I was a kid once. And since I basically parented my six younger brothers, I know that you don't reason with kids. If I had pulled that stunt at a family dinner as a little one, I am not sure I'd be alive today to tell you about it. But no one did anything but argue with him gently, so we all hurried up our meal so he could open presents and promptly start envying his brothers' gifts. Great birth control, those nephews.

All that Grinchery was to say that between my intolerance for horrid small children and my hip problems, I think I'm ready for a nursing home. Now get off my lawn.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

God bless us, every one!

I deserve a lot of pity
I'm about to head off to Walgreens to play Tiny Tim (and play on the sympathies of all my patients. I ought to get some cookies out of this). Silk ruffly shirt, leather-trimmed cardigan, black pants that bunch up under the darn brace, and leather smoking shoes. 

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Right hip surgery

If you noticed, one of my last post titles referred to labral repair surgery. But last I knew, I didn't have a torn labrum on the right hip - just impingement.
Well, that was wrong. I did have a little tear. My first MRI, the one I actually got for my left hip prior to surgery, seemed to show some infiltrates in the join that indicated a labral tear, although a tear itself wasn't visible. Then we did the MRI for my right hip just a few weeks ago, and it didn't show a tear. However, when my doctor went in for surgery, there was the tear. You can't always see them on the MRI.
Dr. Van Sice repaired it. This is very good news, because of course I prefer a repair to a debridement. But it's also bad news, because that usually means a longer recovery time to protect the stitches!
The run-down of this surgery:
- Small tear in otherwise healthy labrum; required one stitch anchor and was easily repaired. No old, calcified damage that crumbled away this time.
- Cam impingement shaved down; medium impingement
- Pincer impingement trimmed; mild impingement present.
- I had the same anesthesiologist as last time. He remembered me and was kind enough to skip the freaking benzodiazepines prior to surgery (Last time the tiniest dose knocked me out so badly that they had to reverse it before continuing)! That means that this time I was alert and observant until I got into the OR and helped myself to gas (seriously, he was like, "If you grab that mask you can start breathing while I set my tray up.").
- But he got IR (interventional radiology) to come start my IV, because apparently, big veins or no, I was a problem last time. This doctor got one started in my wrist (ew), but it only took her 4 minutes. Rock star.
- I also got the same post-op nurse! I had two nurses, but the second one had me last time and remembered me. She was a sweetheart - really caring and helpful. Just a delight. I am especially impressed because it was getting late, and she never got impatient or frustrated that the incisions were still bleeding.
- I had searing, burning, wracking pain for about an hour after I got home this time. I think they stretched a nerve and it was freaking out. I iced it and took a naproxen and a tylenol and was able to get to sleep; it was better when I awoke.
- I was bleeding a lot after surgery, but it stopped by Monday. I'm hoping for this one to stay closed!
- A few days out, I feel more stiff this time, but no pain once more. And interestingly, my hip flexor feels really good. Perhaps the shorter surgery is the reason, but I don't think it's damaged at all. Last time I couldn't lift my leg unassisted for weeks; now it already feels strong.

And here I am, first day back at work: festive red (even though it's a frumpy old cowl neck) for the holidays, black cords, red and black peep toe flats. This is after I got rained on SIX TIMES yesterday, because of course, it starts storming as soon as I'm on crutches and can't hold an umbrella.

So overall? I think this surgery was a better experience than last time. I'm looking forward to a positive outcome.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Doing too much post-op, and brace style.

Friday - the day after surgery - was a busy day. I did way, way too much: I went to the gym, had lunch at Commander's Palace, took about 9 work calls, and then got a call from a friend from church. He's a professor, and the semester just ended, so he wanted to celebrate. David and I agreed to meet him for happy hour, although we didn't really need a drink at that point!, and he offered to drive.
This led to me hopping into an enormous SUV in my muddy, torn-up, drenched street, in the pouring rain...reversing the process in the parking lot...climbing wet, metal stairs to a wine bar...perching on a dreadfully uncomfortable stylish sofa while my brace compressed my abdominal aorta...hopping back into the SUV, which I swear grew higher and higher every time, to head to dinner...walking blocks in the rain to the restaurant...dropping my crutches loudly at least five times on the restaurant floor...more walking in the rain....back to professor's house....more walking in the rain...card game with him, his wife, David...delirious hands of cards...popcorn....more walking in the rain...leaping from mile-high SUV onto muddy street and puddles and dragging crutches through rain storm to house.
I immediately went to bed, mud and all. My lips were white, my nails were blue, my teeth were chattering uncontrollably, and I was nearly incoherent.
Lesson learned: Do NOT accept a ride right after surgery. You need your own escape vehicle! Not that we didn't have fun, we did; but I'd have preferred not to ride in the Mt. Everest of vehicles, and probably could have ended the evening after the wine bar. Unfairly, I blamed David for not making excuses for us, but since he's a patient darling, he just smoothed my hair and put ice packs on my leg and turned the heater on.
Since then, I have pretty much felt like crap, with waves of nausea and vomiting coming and going. I feel oddly out of it, a little hazy, which is silly. I'm not taking any drugs accept the indomethacin (an NSAID) I am prescribed to prevent bone regrowth, but I still feel loopy and queasy. I tried not to do too much most of the rest of the weekend., though we did walk to church. I'm off today, but Tuesday it's back to work, so I am trying to rest up as much as I can before then.

And in an effort to inspire myself not to dress like a homeless person while doing the crutch/brace thing, here is the first in a series of brace style (a what-I-wore of the post-op ilk):
Swelling looks better, doesn't it?

Jeans, clogs, my NOLA water meter T-shirt, denim shirt. Excuse the ghastly white face and lips.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Party aftermath

The carnage - an ornament dropped right by the door!
It's a good party when you're sweeping up broken glass afterward...right? David and I hosted our Christmas party last weekend, and we had about 30 people over for food and drinks. I served: 
- White hot Christmas chili
- Pulled pork on buns with coleslaw
- Hummus with pitas and toppings
- Chips and salsa - two kinds, red and green (homemade)
- Cheese and olive plate. I kind of splurged here and it was delicious.
- Grapes and a largely ignored veggie tray
- Lots of beer
- LaCroix, this water all the hipsters drink
- Tempranillo and shiraz
- Three kinds of cookies - peppermint spirals, oatmeal toffee, and these deep, rich, brownie cookies using chocolate I bought in Peru

I bought ornaments and paint markers and people decorated ornaments while they were there. I also had a flash of brilliance and put dry erase markers out with our wine glasses, which let everyone personalize their glasses (except my ditzy sister in law, who drew on hers with one of the paint markers for the ornaments, which are quite permanent - and on a totally different table lest anyone accidentally confuse them. Some people).

We had a wonderful diverse group of friends over: our landlords, who are the two most interesting people I know, and big cheese eaters (hence the overloaded cheese plate); a renaissance man (lawyer, published and awarded writer, and business owner); our pastors (both); another writer; the news editor for; an accountant specifically for the movie industry; a yoga teacher; an entomologist; a competitive Judo practitioner. We know some cool people and are lucky to have them as friends! 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day one post-op: Our Christmas tradition!

When I scheduled surgery for the 18th, it was partly because I was already off on the 19th: a day I took off for our Christmas tradition at Commander's Palace: An incredible lunch and some day-drinking with their 25-cent lunch martinis.
Far be it from me to skip our tradition because of a measly surgery!
I managed to find a pair of pants that fit over my swollen leg, and added a silk blouse, pearls, burgundy heels, and a cardigan (I got this leather trimmed sweater off Ebay and I love it).

We sat downstairs at Commander's Palace listening to the carolers, enjoying the holiday bustle, and having delicious food! For not the first time, I chose one of the "Fit NOLA" pre fixe menus. Now, far be it from me to order "healthy" when at a splurge place like Commanders - but these menus always sound delicious, and I wasn't disappointed: my entree was easily the best thing I've ever eaten at Commander's. I started with a roasted tomato soup that you just have to taste to believe: it had this incredible smoky, robust flavor. Even David was wiping my bowl out with french bread, and he dislikes tomatoes!
25-cent martinis and crutches - what could possibly go wrong?
Then my entree - a pickled lobster and avocado salad. It was heavenly - huge claws of lobster meat, diced mango, finely cut and fried plantains, generous avocado. I grudgingly shared a bite with David and I think he almost swooned (he had the sausage-stuffed quail, which I've had in the past - also delicious).
For dessert, I had a cranberry-cointreau sorbet in a spun sugar bowl; David had Commander's' famous bread pudding souffle. I couldn't finish- it was sweet, and I was also tucking away my 25-cent martinis (I had one regular and one Commander's, a bright blue drink that will knock you out).

I was glad we'd found parking close by: it has started to drizzle, and by the time we got home, there was a steady, cold rain, perfect for snuggling by the fire. Haha.

Another year, another successful Christmas tradition, surgery or no!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Post-op hip labral tear: take 2.

I'm home on the sofa, eating Christmas cookies and watching Hercule Poirot, ice packs on my swollen leg.
Ice packs in the winter = very cold
Apparently, the surgery was very successful. And the post-op nausea was not nearly as bad as last time, either. I asked the nurse to skip the promethazine and just used Zofran, and I did better without its drowsiness and dizziness. However, this time I felt pain afterwards, and it took me a long time to be discharged. First, the resident in the OR locked my brace at zero degrees flexion, so I couldn't sit up! To remove it and reset it involved getting up, getting my IV out, getting undressed, etc.
Then, my wound started bleeding. Lots. Tons. Saturating the bandage, sheets, bed - it was bad. I called the nurse, who rolled me on my side and applied pressure. We finally got it under control, but it took a long time, so it was 6pm before we were discharged. I had two nurses during that time, and they were both so sweet and skillful! Definitely getting compliment calls tomorrow. 
At home, I struggled through the muddy construction on our street, trying to remember to use my LEFT foot this time! I was used to using the right! and changed into the only thing that could fit over my very swollen leg (boy shorts and knee socks... hence the limited photos). The swelling is terrible this time! 
What's happening to my knee?!
I also have a bit of pain, bad enough to take a naproxen and an acetaminophen. 
It seems like it's mostly leg pain, maybe some damage from being in traction. 
I plan on icing through the weekend to get the swelling down and hopefully will feel better tomorrow. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I survived my visit

I survived.

But only because I had a methyl group in my (excessive amounts of) coffee (cool shadow, huh?)
I was TOLD what to wear by my boss's boss's boss's boss. She said to wear subdued neutrals, but not black, and to wear my hair down because up "looked so severe". Rude. And sexist. Nobody would tell a man-pharmacist how to do his hair.

Me on the stairs...holding a compact of powder, which I thought it best to bring. Just in case I got all shiny-nosed.
I wore a soft gray button-down (untucked for comfort - hurray for white coats hiding such sins!), pinstriped pants with a traditional cut, and blue suede shoes....because I wanted to break just one tiny rule. And I had on the whitest, starchiest lab coat in the history of lab coats.
The visit was just fine. I had three VPs at my store, and they were interested, taking notes on what I said, complimenting our progress, and generally being pleasant people. None of my crazy customers came in (although my sister in law did, that was funny, she knew about the visit and I think wanted to see the big-shots), and they were only there for an hour. We even closed on time (they arrived an hour and 15 minutes before closing).
The reason they chose my location was to collect ideas and plans on growing organic pharmacies like mine, that opened with no support/buyout/integration plan - essentially from the ground up. I was interested to learn that the manager who opens stores like that usually gets replaced after the first two years, but I've kept this place going and succeeding. We looked at my business plan and my rather messy marketing records, and they took pictures of a some of my plans and processes. I also brought up to them two huge barriers our system throws in my way, and they'll look into those.
Overall, typical corporate visit, and pretty successful! Now all that's left to do is get that pesky surgery out of the way, and this week's a wrap.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Lessons learned from my left hip

It's been six months since my left hip surgery, a labral debridement with femoral head reshaping. It was an ordeal, but I wanted to share lessons I learned in case others are considering - or just had - this surgery.

- It is a big deal. Don't let "outpatient procedure" fool you. You are under general anesthesia, intubated, and you are having major hip surgery with a long, long recovery.
- It doesn't hurt very much right after. It's arthroscopic, so it's nearly painless. The pain comes later, weeks later, as the bone heals.
- There is very little consistent information available about the procedure or the recovery, so don't let what you read on the internets make you panic. Some doctors have you on crutches for days; other for months. Some give a brace for weeks, others no brace at all. PT recs and return to activity timelines are vastly different. Reports of how you will feel at certain points can be diametrically opposed to how you actually feel. Fret not. Every hip is different!
- You must move the joint. This is so important! While you have to protect your hip flexor to avoid long-term hip flexor tendinitis, you also have to use your joint early and often. As early as the day of surgery, get it moving. You can use a continuous passive motion machine, but if I could do it again (hey, I am doing it again!) I'd hit the exercise bike, too (no resistance). You have to move the joint to promote healing and reduce scar tissue formation.
- You must rest a little, too. I went back to work Monday after a Thursday procedure. Bad idea. It was too soon, and it prolonged healing time. You CAN go back to work after a few days, especially if you have a desk job, but if you have to be active at work, I don't recommend it. I'd say take 5 days minimum.
- Do your PT like it's your job. This is major surgery, and you have a lot of rebuilding to do.
- Let pain guide you at first. While you are still on crutches, you should not do anything that hurts.
- For the 4 - 8 weeks post-op period, you will probably be in pain. You should minimize pain (do not push though pain, and tell your therapist if your exercises cause any pain), but you should not panic if you feel pain later in the day after walking or other normal activities.
- After your labrum is fully healed (8 weeks if debrided; I think 12 weeks at least for repair), you are going to have to push through some pain. The area is probably stiff and full of scar tissue, but you are now at a use-it-or-lose-it point. Your PT should have you doing more stretching and some aggressive strengthening. Listen to him. You've got to do it or you'll lose range of motion and muscle tone.
- Returning to sport is gradual, and should be guided by your pain and tolerance. Don't do anything that hurts WHILE you do it. You might feel soreness and stiffness later. Continue to aggressively stretch and strengthen!
- You will get well. You might not get to 100%, but you'll get better, and it might sneak up on you!
- It is worth it. If you are considering surgery and are on the fence, you've probably read things online like, "Almost everyone has a labral tear in their lifetime" or "It's an artifact and not the true cause of pain" or "Femoral impingement is a myth." Sorry, I don't buy that. I was in so much pain when I tore my labrum that I could not touch my foot down. Five months after surgery I ran a painless sub-20 5k, very close to my original level of fitness. The difference is astonishing. I'm not as good as new, but I'm about 98%, and that's a far better outcome than I expected. You don't want to live your life in chronic pain. Do it!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The president is coming!

Allow me to show you my schedule this week.
Monday and Tuesday: Visit from my best friend from childhood with husband and her sister and all that entails. I had requested these days off for months - since February, actually - but somehow our market scheduler did not cover me on Tuesday, and I went in to work after they left. Bible study, which we skipped.
Wednesday: work, dental appointment, tutoring.
Thursday: Work. Frantic cooking.
Friday: Work. Church Christmas party and chili cook-off. I am entering "White Hot Christmas" chili. It won't win. It's too weird.
Saturday: We're hosting a huge Christmas party! And I might have to go into work.
Sunday: Church; dinner with friends. And I might have to go into work...
Why all this extra work, you ask? Is it because of my upcoming surgery? No, not at all. It's because...
The president is coming! Or the presidents are coming. The VP of customer experience and president of business operations for the entire company are visiting my store on Monday. My store. Monday. I am in the throws of a panic attack as we speak!
Then that Wednesday I have pre-op, and surgery Thursday. Followed by our Christmas tradition Commander's Palace lunch on Friday right after surgery, then hosting family caroling on Sunday, then back to work Tuesday, then working Christmas day. Not busy at all.

I'm nervous as heck about this upcoming visit. These are the big guns at Walgreens, and I am sure I will say something stupid or not know how to answer a question. It's definitely the visit of a lifetime - I don't want to botch it. I'm heading in early today to get working on the basics, like cleaning coffee spills off my keyboard. The important stuff, like polishing my business plan, has to be done, too.  guess I will be working early and late all week!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Year of Running, 2014.

It's Miss Zippy's year-of-running post!
Join in on her page.
Best race experience: Racing in 2014 was almost nonexistent: I ran a hot and greasy half-marathon in a near PW time, a 5k in which I tore my labrum acutely, a pre-surgery hot and slow 5k, a post-surgery hot and slow 5k, and one normal, honest, real race 5k.
I'll go with that one, a few weeks ago: the Crescent City Fall Classic. I changed my pacing plan at the very last moment (starting line) and went for sub-20 to get a "B" corral at the Classic 10k next Spring. I squeaked in by a second!
Best run: Hands down, my first post-surgery run, even if it was half walking!
Best new piece of gear: I fell in love with Coeur's run short for comfort, function, fit, and appearance. I thought I'd be raving about their bras with pockets, which I love as well, but these shorts are so perfect for me that they had to win out!
Best piece of running advice you received: It's all about hip strength. Too late, but good advice nonetheless.
Most inspirational runner: This one, who completed the RnR New Orleans half for the second time. The first time her doctors were still questioning if she'd ever walk again. Not all recovery stories have fairy tale endings, like suddenly she can run and she's winning races, etc. This is all about hard work for Monique Koll.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

It could have been me.

I just posted about my terrible experience with a local doctor, back when no one knew why my leg hurt all the time (it was a labral tear!).
A brief recap: He thought it was related to a prior stress fracture and gave me calcitonin; when that didn't help, he basically told me that I should take up another hobby and that I was a hypochondriac. He didn't offer an MRI, and when I asked for one, he suggested I could request one from a spine or pain management doctor. For reals. I left undiagnosed and in a lot of pain.

Fast forward to today, when I read this in the news:

Holy crap.
That is the same doctor.
I guess everything actually worked out for the best that I left this guy! I have three thoughts about this story:
1. I haven't named the doctor because I didn't want to hurt his reputation, but malpractice stuff is public info, so, oh well. And I remember something Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book Blink: to paraphrase, people are less likely to sue for malpractice if they have been treated well by their healthcare provider. Based on my experience, this doctor was a little bit of a jerk.
2. This incident occurred prior to my visit. If he had been treating and actually doing surgery on the very condition I had, how could it not occur to him to do imaging or investigate my symptoms? Femoacetabular impingement and labral tears aren't commonly diagnosed, but if you have diagnosed it in the past, why didn't you even think of it when a patient presents with similar symptoms?
3. Thank God he didn't diagnose me, though! I don't want a surgeon working on my hip who has botched a job before!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

MRI'm a hypochondriac

I'm sure some of you remember when my doctor told me that I was a hypochondriac. About 9 months after that, I was (finally) having surgery for a torn labrum, and I shook my fist in victory and crowed, "I told you so!"
Except he might be a tiny bit right.
I had my MRI this morning, and I was positive it would show a huge tear of the labrum and severe impingement.
But nope, it didn't at all. It showed a mild blunting of the edge of the labrum, more likely irritation than a tear. And it showed mild mixed femoacetabular impingement:

 - Pincher type, where the socket bone is curving too far over the femur, so there's some bone-on-bone contact when you move, and
- Cam type, where the head of the femur is an abnormal shape, so it doesn't fit right in the socket, and rubs and bumps as you move.
Both are just right outside what is considered the normal joint angle. On my left hip, I had cam-type only, but my pain was mostly from the big labral tear. Now, I really don't have a lot going on with the labrum. It's probably being pinched, but it looks like I caught it before it tore.
That's the good news. If I can keep my labrum intact, that's great! (Although it does mean my "high pain tolerance" card has been revoked. I obviously am super sensitive to any kind of hip pain: I was so sure the labrum would be torn on the MRI.)
Bad news is that I still need surgery on my right hip. My doctor reviewed the conservative measures to try first:
1. Discontinue activity causing pain. This means stop running forever. Not interested! Plus, this is not a permanent solution, as any movement (including walking, which hurts right now) will worsen the joint over time.
2. Physical therapy. The idea is to strengthen muscles around the hip to maintain as little contact between bones of the joint as possible. Dr. Van Sice ruled this out since I just got out of three months of vigorous PT and have been continuing 30 - 40 minutes of hip strengthening and stretching every day since then. He doesn't think I can improve on this area.
3. Steroid for pain control: already tried and failed. Not the best solution, since it doesn't help the bone-on-bone, but it can help the irritated labrum. But it didn't help me.

After discussing the situation, we're going through with surgery. I'm in pain when I walk or run, this is the only real option, and I was happy with my first surgery. I am a fan of catching things early, and I don't want to damage my hip cartilage, so I will be having the femoral head reshaped and the socket trimmed. Perhaps the labrum won't need any work at all (it was clear from the MRI that it is completely attached to the acetabulum, so if anything, it will just need to be trimmed to remove shredded, irritated areas). The surgery will be very similar to the one I had for my left hip, and recovery time and prognosis is also very similar.

On a positive note, my left hip is better and better every day, to the point that I don't notice anything wrong with it at all! I'm coming up on the six-month mark, and I really think that's the benchmark - where you are at 6 months tells you a lot about your overall recovery. I feel like my hip is about 95% well: it sometimes clicks and once in a great while I feel a twinge, but generally it feels fantastic. So I am hoping I can say the same thing about my right hip 6 months from now!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas card weekend

We spent all day Saturday decorating the house for Christmas and writing Christmas cards. I don't want to be a Grinch, but I was definitely skimping on the decorations this year. I will be on crutches when the holiday is over, and I am NOT looking forward to hobbling around trying to take all this down! (Of course, I could always make David do it. I'm sure he's looking forward to being my slave again as it is.)

No fancy themed tree for me this year. Just the ornaments we've collected when we travel, including our newest, a retablo from Peru.
I love it.
Our Christmas cards were a bit of a project. First, I designed them.
Sketched my idea:

Painted it:

Then tried to take pictures. I just used my iphone, but with or without flash made a big difference. I let David pick which image to use.
No flash, but well-lit
Flash in a dark room
No flash in moderate lighting
Then, I ordered cards from Walgreens photo. I got a simple message and chose matte photo paper, and with a coupon code they were $19.95 for 40 cards, with free shipping!

And I think they turned out pretty well. They came out darker than the original, but I like the effect. It's kind of a weird process, I think (and it could have been weirder - if I had addd a filter on the iphone, I'm pretty sure my head would have exploded), but it worked out. That's why I like "design" better than "art" - you can break more rules!

What's your Christmas card this year?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Turkey trotting

Before I talked to my doctor, my leg started hurting, etc., I had signed up for our local 5-mile Turkey Trot. I figured I might as well run it, which turned out to be a bad idea. Races when you hurt and haven't been doing any workouts are just always a terrible idea! 
Race T-shirt and my checkmate shorts from Coeur
I woke up to cold, clear, breezy weather and ended up dressing in shorts and a long-sleeved shirt. I debated going sleeveless, but I was so freezing in the wind when I checked the weather that morning that I went for sleeves. David and I parked about a half-mile from the start, and I lightly jogged to the bathroom line. Here's the problem with running hurt: You're going to hurt while you warm up, so you're going to want to skip your warm-up. Since my first conversation with my doctor, this hip as been getting progressively worse, and this was the first time that I really didn't want to run on it. But since I' m obstinate/dumb, I did anyway. I only did that tiny half mile warm-up, and that was not really fun, leading me to decide to skip any strides at the start. I squished in to a massive crowd of 3000 people; I ended up taking a good 15 seconds to get to the start after the gun. There was a lot of weaving right off the bat - it was just too congested. And I was working too hard, right off the bat. At least the crowds blocked the wind. As we followed the turns of the course, we ran in and out of headwinds (and got some tailwinds, too!) and I quickly started cycling between being freezing cold (headwind) and way too hot (tailwind and sun). The long sleeves were a bad choice; I was sweating in the sunny sections and that just made me colder in the wind.

Speaking of wind, I was winded.  I just didn't have any speed, couldn't get my hear rate up, and had an uncomfortably aching hip. I have learned that 1. I race better if I warm up long and do strides (duh), and 2. Even though I can tolerate pain well, that doesn't mean I can run fast while in pain. Your body is compensating, and you WILL slow down. I just ran a pain-free 5k at 6:24 pace; a few weeks later in a 5 miler I was struggling to stay under 6:50. The difference was partly the pain!

Mile 1 I was mostly struggling through the start, and ran a 6:50. I tried to pick it up in mile two, and it seemed like the wind was favorable that mile: 6:44.
Mile 3 was when my leg started to feel pretty bad. Nothing like when my left hip was hurt, but kind of a stabbing pain, and my pace reflected it. I was rolling my shirt sleeves up by now. 6:48. Mile four and five were basically a pass-fest, as in I was being passed by everyone. 
I was passed by my friend Celeste, about twenty guys, and a rocking 50-year-old woman who breezed by me. Not exactly my favorite kind of race! Both those miles were 6:49.
I ended up crossing the line around 34:15 I think? My Garmin was way off the gun clock, because I stupidly started it at the starting line, not when I heard the gun, and I was far back. Altogether it was a sour sort of race, but it left me feeling a little less hesitant about having this hip operated on. It's slowing me down, and it needs to be done!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What a bad idea.

Being on crutches while my street undergoes FIVE MONTHS of closures, requiring me to park blocks and blocks away, sounds like the worst idea I've ever had.

My house is behind those huge bushes on the left. There's a backhoe in my parking spot :(

Catching a labral tear early and getting it repaired by a surgeon I trust for free after I've met my insurance max, however, sounds like a pretty sound idea.

So, I am scheduled for right hip labral repair December 18th. I have very mixed feelings about this! Part of me is glad to solve the problem, happy about the insurance and cost situation, and relieved that I know there is a fix. The other part of me really doesn't want to undergo the ordeal I just completed with my other hip, and wonders if I'm jumping the gun.

With my left hip, I was in excruciating pain before surgery: at first, I couldn't walk without crutches; even touching my toe to the ground sent pain shooting through my leg. But now? I'm still running. But then, it is better to catch a tear early before it can lead to cartilage damage, so maybe that's a good sign.

When I went to my doctor's appointment to follow up on my (useless) steroid shot, he almost immediately asked about scheduling surgery. That took me aback - I hadn't even had an MRI done! But he told me he'd like to schedule me first, to make sure we got it in on my insurance before January, then do the MRI in the meantime. "You sound pretty confident you know what's going on," he told me, "And actually, I think I already saw a tear in your right hip from your MRI last summer." I'd had my first MRI done at an outside source, and the report listed nothing wrong with my right hip. But Dr. Van Sice pulled up the film, and pointed out a tiny tear on the right. He'd noticed it before, but back then my right hip was asymptomatic, so he didn't bother with it (obviously, you do not treat asymptomatic labral tears). He remembered it after my last visit, though, and when we looked it up, sure enough - a little tear. So we aren't doing unnecessary surgery, but I still feel a little unease thinking about it.

The truth is, recovery from this procedure is miserable! Totally miserable! Crutches at work are hard, wearing a brace for 4 to 6 weeks is hard, pushing through the inevitable pain later in PT is hard. I do NOT want to do it again. But then I compare my weak, wobbly, throbbing right joint to my strong, pain-free left joint and I know it's a smart decision - unless I want to give up running. I don't want to, so I've committed to having surgery done.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Passed by a taco

After I wrote my last post, my doctor squeezed me in for an appointment. The good news is that he thinks I might just have some inflammation from overusing the right side initially, and perhaps even bursitis since the pain seems to be less groin-related than the last time. The bad news is that my insurance has rigid rules, so even to just do an exploratory MRI to see what's up, I have to fail a steroid injection first.
Steroids to the hip are risky! But I got one anyway, and am now stiff and swollen. The plan is to run when the swelling goes down, assess pain, and make an appointment for an MRI. Unless, of course, I miraculously feel amazing and we decide that the right hip was just being cranky in the suddenly cold weather (I doubt this).
City Park is lovely, even if it stymies my Garmin every time. 
Meanwhile, I thought I didn't have any race photos from the CCC 5k, but it turns out that the professional shots hadn't been loaded yet. So now I have my free race photos (almost makes a $30 5k worth it, but not quite), and you can see me being passed by a taco, caught on film. Figures. No pictures of me passing young, fit, fast-looking men. Just a picture of a #3 with fries passing me.
Not fair. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Making progress, making choices

The last three weeks have been really encouraging to me. Since being allowed to return to activity, I felt like my hip was stuck in a pattern - wake up stiff, feel ok with movement, but then start aching in the afternoon or evening. I was worried that this was as good as it was going to get, and I actually considered making an appointment with my doctor. I didn't, though, because ....

I started to feel better. I started having days when I almost didn't notice my hip. I had a few runs that felt good - really good. I'm so used to nagging pain and aching that it wasn't until after a run a few Sundays ago (five miles on the soft dirt loop around Audubon Park) that I realized I hadn't felt any pain. I couldn't even remember the last time that happened - I always have some kind of hip, groin, thigh, or osteitis pubis pain. Later in the week, when I kicked a root and hurt my hip (this is still the most painful thing for me - kicking an obstruction or a stair step and knocking my leg back in my socket. Ouch), it definitely hurt. But then it felt better, and quickly. It's starting to feel better all the time, and when it does hurt, I recover quickly.

I think I turned another corner, and I'm really excited about that.

But. It's time to make a tough choice. I've mentioned before that my RIGHT hip has felt mildly off ever since I returned to running. I saw my doctor at the hospital the other day, and he asked if I ever felt that my right hip was symptomatic, since it has the same impingement pattern as the left. Well, I said sort of. And he recommended that I follow up on that NOW, for two important reasons: for one, I've maxed out on my insurance, so everything here on out is free of charge until the end of the year. For another, he's strongly considering entering into his own practice out of state. He wants to make sure he takes care of everyone before he goes.

So I actually made an appointment for this week - after all! One one hand, I know that everything he says makes sense. At least I should get an MRI before my new deductible takes effect! But on the other hand, I JUST went through all this, and it wasn't fun. And I was enjoying running again!

I'm going to see where this appointment takes me. I've been off running a few days (post-race, plus we were traveling to see friends this weekend), so it's hard to assess how I feel, but a thorough exam and some imaging might guide me. I guess the choice I might have to make is - do I have surgery if my right labrum is torn, even if it is mild or close to asymptomatic? Or do I wait it out until I have severe pain? I'll know more in a few days, so I will keep you posted.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Irish Network gala

Since we're still pretending to be Irish, we're still members of the Irish Network New Orleans. We originally joined because one of David's friends started the organization and we felt that they could use the support. But now it's grown to a huge, successful group, so maybe we should quite lying about our heritage and get out of there.*
For now, we're still hanging out with the Irish, and they certainly can put on a ball. They always have Irish dancing, several bands, open bar, and delicious food, this time catered by several of the Dicky Brennan restaurants.

And of course, this was a chance for me to make a dress. I designed this one months ago, but I really wanted a bright, vibrant yellow fabric. I never could find the right color, but I settled on this yellow shantung silk. It washed out some in the photos; it's slightly brighter than it looks but not as saturated as I would have liked.

The back is all lace.
For those who care, the bodice is constructed with a built-in bra so that I didn't have to deal with a backless bra, because those are the worst.
I ended up finishing the hem right before we left, because I was kind of last-minute with this one, and I measured it an inch too long, meaning I had to wear painfully high heels all night (with no place to sit down), but other than that the evening was fun and my dress a success!

*Actually, David is some minuscule shred Irish. I am not at all; in fact, my father's side has some Scotch blood, but I would never breath a word about it at these events.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Spectating: Jazz half

I actually meant to volunteer at the Jazz half marathon, one of my favorite races, but I waited too long and the only openings were on Friday, when we already had plans. Instead I ended up running on and near the course and spectating!
It was freezing and windy on Saturday morning, and I was kind of reluctant to leave the warm house. I put on leggings, a long sleeved shirt, and gloves. I ran to Audubon Park first. The race started at 7am - the same time I left the house - but wouldn't reach mile 7 in the park for awhile. I thought I'd run in the park before the race reached it. As I headed toward the end of the loop, I ran into a group of Varsity runners! They'd planned their long run for prime spectating, and were about to head down St. Charles ave, so I joined them. It's my first group run back since surgery (well, I walked with another injured runner once. But I hadn't run with them.)
Here's the overall winner. Credit LRC. 
The race starts downtown, heads down (divided) St. Charles Ave to Audubon park, around the park, then back up St. Charles Ave. We were running up St. Charles, so opposite the race. It gave us a chance to clearly see the leaders and cheer on our friends without getting in the way or actually being on the active course.
I was surprised that not too many people I knew were running. My friend Melissa was, though, and in fact she was in second place when she passed! Once we reached Lee's Circle, the race was in full swing. My friends continued their run, but I turned around and headed back. I got on the sidewalk, since in a few minutes the leaders would be coming back up St. Charles. Sure enough, I got another chance to see everybody, and Melissa was now caught up to the first place girl, just breathing down her neck at mile 11. Exciting!
I went back to the park, and even though there were still runners racing, they were far apart and some of the last runners, so I could easily make a loop without getting in their way. I got some cheering and encouragement in before heading home to complete a slow and easy 14 miles. It's a post-surgery distance record!
And Melissa did end up placing second - I thought she might sneak into first, but still an awesome job by her. Wish I'd seen her finish!
My favorite parts of spectating:
- Seeing the leaders speed up the avenue behind the pace car
- Seeking out familiar faces and cheering them by name. I know from experience that that's a pick-me-up!
- Helping runners out: Sometimes the fast ones want to know how far back the competition is or who is behind them.
- Cheering on kids on the course! We have a couple of local kids who run long distances, including half-marathons, and I love getting to cheer them on. They are super determined.
- Goofing around at the aid stations. I usually know half the people at the aid stations, too, and don't mind popping in to help when they have a crowd.

What's the last race you spectated? Do you ever run-spectate near the course? What's your favorite part of spectating?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Crescent City Fall Classic 5k race report

Saturday morning I ran the Crescent City Classic's fall 5k, the only allowable 5k qualifier for the 10k in the Spring. You can also qualify with a 10k time for a seeded corral, but I registered for this race because 10ks are few and far between.
My goal going in was to break 21 minutes. I ran the Oktoberfest 5k in 21:31 a few weeks ago, but I ran with reserve. Plus, it was a hot evening race, so I assumed I would do better at an 8:30 am November race. The course has lots of turns, but like all of NOLA, it's flat, so as long as we had good weather I guessed that I could knock 30+ seconds off my last time.
I woke up Saturday and just had coffee, although the late race start time had me wondering if I'd start feeling hungry during the race. I left the house to overcast, damp weather in the high 50's, but by the time I drove to City Park, the sun was showing occasionally and temps were up in the 60's. The threatening storm never materialized, despite fitful gusts.
I arrived early and parked far away, building a warm-up in, and did a last-minute check of the race website for starting location, T-shirt pick-up, and other details. I clicked through and realized that qualifying times for the 10k seeded corrals were 17:30 for A corral, 20:00 for B corral, and 22:00 for C corral.
I just ran 21:30 and now was shooting for 21:00. I mean, who cares about that improvement? Either way, it's a "C" time. To move up a corral, I'd need a sub-20:00.
I jogged to the start, picked up my shirt, jogged back to put it in my car, then hit the bathroom line. The whole time I was tossing pace ideas around in my head. I got in close to 3 miles warm-up, then did three 100m strides in the grass near the start. I squeezed about ten rows back as the national anthem started, and finally made up my mind - I'd go for 20. The worst that could happen is that I'd blow up, slow down, and run close to 22:00 - still a "C" corral qualifying time!
The gun went off and I surged with the pack. I had my Garmin screen showing lap pace and average pace, but it was having trouble generating data (for some reason, always a problem in crowded race starts) and the numbers were bouncing or just blank for much of the first half-mile. Up ahead I saw my friend Melissa, and tried to just keep her in view. I felt like I was running about the right pace, doing quick math, and resolved to keep the average pace at 6:24. I was too fast at the start: mile 1 was 6:19.
I did not see any pictures of myself on the website, so instead you can look at this fast food. Har, har, fast food, get it? They passed me in mile 2. Nothing like getting passed by a taco mid-race.
For the second mile, I wanted to slow enough to prevent a blow-up in the last mile. I overdid it, and ran 6:29. The course was opening up a bit finally, and I ran tangents as best as I could. I definitely felt the pace by now! And I began to question whether I could hold on to break 20.
Yet at the start of mile three, I wasn't dying. I actually felt kind of good. I was scared to speed up, but in retrospect I don't think it would have killed me. What DID kill me was my usual finish-line nausea, this silly stomach issue I get as I near the end. We turned to finish on the track, and I was so nauseated that I couldn't pick it up for the last quarter mile. In fact, I slowed. I hit mile 3 in 6:27 and realized that I might not make 20! But I could NOT sprint without barfing, and crossed the line in - seriously - 19:59 chip time.
Holy moly, did I cut it close. Luckily, the CCC uses chip time for qualifying, and I'm in! Corral "B", here I come!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

WWII Airpower expo

We had beautiful, clear, fall weather a few weeks ago, perfect for an air show!

(As opposed to all the other air shows I've attended, each of which took place in 100+ degree weather and ended up with one or several children throwing up with or without heat stroke. Ah, childhood memories.)

The Airpower expo featured aircraft used in WWII. We didn't have the $995 we'd need (per person) to ride in one, but we watched them taking off and landing, making comtrails in the sky, and giving rides to rich people. While they were on the ground, we checked them out up close, including getting to go inside a B-17.
My husband is cute.
I'm so glad the Commemorative Airforce is preserving these planes and maintaining them in flying condition.

Friday, November 7, 2014

One more try

I signed up for another 5k - tomorrow! I know I'm slow, and still hurting sometimes, and still recovering, and - heck - still walking. But I wanted to give the 5k another try. Last race I was so unused to racing that I was basically a hot mess. I want another come-back 5k to kind of get me more into the racing mood.
Because honestly, even though I said I would be happy to have surgery and just be able to run - forget racing, really! - I like running races. I don't have to place. I don't even have to do well. I just like the atmosphere and I like to be pushed a little.

My hip has been feeling pretty good lately, and I will be running the Crescent City Fall Classic Saturday morning. This race is a qualifier for the Crescent City Classic 10k - it's the only 5k that you can use to get a seeded time for the CCC. Otherwise, you have to present a 10k time.
The chance of my time being good enough for decent seeding is exceedingly slim, but in case I run the CCC, I'll need some kind of qualifying time or I'll be stuck behind several thousand drunk New Orleanians, most of whom manage to have either a stroller, a rolling cooler, or a tutu.
Contrary to last race, I DO have a time goal for this race! It's 21 minutes. I'd like to get back there. Can I do it? Eh, probably not. Anything under 7 is like torturous at this point. Really hard, really taxing, really anaerobic. But I'm giving it a shot anyway. We shall see!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My morning routine

I'm lazy, so I'm not one of those early morning runners. I don't get up before 6:00am, and then I need my little coffee time. Because - you know. I'm lazy. Now there's a little more time crunch, though, because I have to fit in my hip exercises. So here's what my morning looks like these days:
6:00 am. Wake up.
Get coffee. Read email and look through calendar. Stare in dull horror at the day's schedule.
6:15 am. Get dressed for running. Put hair up. Etc. By "etc" I mean "bathroom".
6:30 am. Read bible and do planks. Basically I plank while I read. It makes sure I do both! 
6:35 am. Hip exercises. I do a combination of PT and strength exercises I picked out myself; more on that in another post. 
7:00 am. Go running. Time varies. Generally, I run for forty-five minutes to an hour because I'm still alternating with walking. Three miles (normally completed in maybe 22 minutes) will take me at least 35, for example.

7:45 or 8:00 am. Stretch. I have a specific stretch routine I do after running; it takes just a few minutes, so if I get back early from running, I also foam roll. I haven't been foam rolling as much lately as I used to, mainly because I haven't been doing as much hard work that leads to tight muscles. Yes, I'm drinking coffee while I stretch. Multi-tasking!
8:00ish. Shower and get dressed.
8:15 am. Pack lunch.
8:20 am. Make breakfast and eat with David. We read the paper while we have breakfast because we're basically 70 year olds at heart.
8:30 am. Out the door to work.
9:00. Open my pharmacy.

So that's my morning. Notice the complete lack of "Make sure Suzie is wearing shoes", "Feed Buster", and "Get kids to school bus". It's nice having no responsibilities besides myself (and my husband, who would starve to death if I didn't feed him). But I still feel like I have so much stuff to do in order to run - over half an hour of stretching and strengthening. I know I have to do it, but it eats up my time. I think I need to stop nursing my coffee for so long in the morning, but then, I do enjoy my coffee time!

What's your morning look like? What time do you wake up?

Friday, October 31, 2014

I miss them so much.

Today I dug out a pair of hoarded Kinvara 1's.
I think I bought these four years ago.

They were just as wonderful as I remembered.
I switched to the Brooks PureCadence after my femoral stress fracture. With no other explanation for the fracture (and not knowing that I was compensating for a torn labrum and had the associated instability), I looked for a shoe with some motion control. I like the PureCadence,'s just not the Kinvara. I LOVE the Kinvara. It feels light, soft, flexible, and foot-shaped. I miss them!
Will they be able to make a full-time comeback? I'll play that by ear. Or play it by hip. You know what I mean.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

First race back: what I wore

Back to racing, and I picked my most Octoberish outfit for Oktoberfest!

Orange singlet (Nike, from Varsity Sports) - a great, soft top but the fabric ended up being too warm
I was in flip-flops pre-race, but I'm holding my shoes for the race - Brooks PureCadence. Yeah, not the best 5k shoes, but given my projected (slow) pace and my hesitance to try anything different right now, it seemed the smartest choice. I didn't want to risk my hip with flats or lighter shoes.
My all-time favorite shorts, the incredibly comfortable and flattering Fleet Foxes Run Short from Coeur
Buy yourself some here. Non-affiliate link. And I paid for those shorts myself. But I got a discount. And I really adore them. They stretch a little with you, let in a little breeze without being terribly revealing, and the style is, indeed, quite flattering to the thighs!

Oooh! My underwear! I wore my bra with pockets, also from Coeur, which was brilliant. I stuck my chapstick and ID in there so I could enjoy Oktoberfest for the rest of the night! 

Also a picture of my new sunglasses, courtesy of Walgreens. I liked the subdued (non-reflective) lenses, but they didn't provide as much protection from the sun as I would have liked. It was super sunny.
What didn't work: I shouldn't have worn that top - honestly, I should have run in just a jog bra - but I liked the Halloween color combo. It was very hot out!
The sunglasses are new, and I haven't had a problem with them in early morning runs, but for full sun like this, I was squinting the whole time. I do like that they are vented to prevent fogging up, though. It works, but imperfectly.
And an action shot! Thanks, NOTC!

What did work: Shorts were a huge win. If I don't think about you once while racing, you're doing your job!
Bra - Ok, didn't really need the pockets for a 5k (for Gu in a marathon, though? That would have been great). But for post-race car key and chapstick, etc? Great choice!
I questioned my shoe choice initially, but I've really only been running in the PureCadence since I started back, and I didn't want to take any chances. Next time I'd go back to the Mizuno Mushas for short races.