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Friday, August 29, 2014

Katrina anniversary: nine years

In some ways, Katrina seems so far away, a disaster that happened to another city, in a long-ago time before people used text messaging (that's true: it's how we started texting, because texts were more reliable than calls with so many cell towers down and airways jammed).
A lot has changed in the city since Katrina, and much of it is for the better. We're still working to protect ourselves from future floods, but the levees are taller and stronger. Most businesses, all hospitals, and many families have disaster plans. Young, intelligent, energetic people moved here to volunteer, open businesses, or join start-ups. We might at some point even get a handle on crime and political corruption (probably not. But the police chief resigned last week, and I think that's a good thing). 
Yet I miss the innocence of pre-Katrina, the days when we would roll our eyes and say, "Storms always turn!" as we chose not to sit in contraflow for 8 hours to move 100 miles from the storm's path. We can't help but take storms seriously now, as we reflect on the death and loss that Katrina spilled down on the city. It's out of respect for lives lost that I maintain a hurricane plan at work, that I hand out prescription records to all my patients during peak storm season, that I never miss an opportunity to visit a historic site in New Orleans, in case it's not there next November. And even though Katrina fades from our day-to-day conversation, she left constant reminders. 
Every day, on the way to work, I drive past Baptist Hospital.
I re-opened Baptist hospital after Katrina, working with two pharmacists and one tech to ready the facility for patients. Baptist was hit particularly hard, due to a combination of poor planning, poor location, and federal neglect. Patients died unnecessarily, deprived of therapeutic interventions they needed, sitting hungry and thirsty in unbearable heat. Rumors of euthanasia still circle, and charges were brought against some doctors who stayed through the storm. The parking garage where I used to park had been used to hold patients waiting for evacuation as the waters rose, mostly because it was better ventilated than the hospital itself. Some patients died waiting for a boat or helicopter.
This week, I read a memoir by a local doctor, who stayed for the storm. He was chief of medicine at Baptist, and his view is a startling read: as one of the very last people out of Baptist, it's like when I went to work we picked up where he left off. That experience feels richer to me now, and more symbolic. He also reminded me of those days before the storm, when we took so much for granted. 
People like ourselves sometimes say, "We didn't lose anything in Katrina." We mean that we lived in an area that didn't flood, so our houses and cars were safe. But the statement isn't true. Out things might have been high and dry, and looters may have stayed far from our doors and yards, but we all lost something in Katrina. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Yes, things are actually looking up. And cross training.

I don't think it's a fluke. My hip is feeling better. I might be imagining it, but the clicking and annoying slipping in and out of the joint (not dislocation, just subluxation) seem to have decreased. The pain is still there, but it's less noticeable. Stupid mistakes, like catching my foot under a creeping vine, result in an "Ouch!" and a wince, not day-long shooting pains. My hip flexor is still killing me, but somehow it seems less distracting, and I get the impression that my femoral head is finally healing, losing that hypersensitivity. So, hurray!

Meanwhile, I'm just cross training. Sort of. I have to admit, I haven't done much. For one thing, I had a lot of restrictions early on. For another, I've been trying hard not to overdo it, and for that reason, I've been hesitant to do very much.
Since I have PT two days a week, I only have five days with time to exercise at all. I've been dividing my time amongst the four options open to me:
1. Pool jogging. I have gone several times, since I was allowed to start as soon as I was off crutches. It's fine, but I never feel like I get a good workout. Plus the last time I went, I was leaning against the edge of the pool stretching before I started, and my eye was an inch from a crack. There were two little twitching hairs sticking out of it...until I realized they were the tips of the antennas of a giant palmetto bug. Haven't been back...coincidence???
2. Elliptical. I was allowed to start the elliptical a few weeks ago. I've been....once. Yikes. I just don't love the elliptical! I get bored, and I don't like watching TV (unless it's a sports game I'm interesting in). I don't mind reading when I exercise, but while I can read on a stationary bike, I can't on the elliptical. The movement is too up and down.
3. Biking. I could ride the stationary bike very early on, I think even the first week. I couldn't add resistance until week 8, though, so it was a little pointless. Once I got cleared to ride a real bike, though, I started doing that most mornings. I enjoy getting outside for a little while, and I really missed Audubon Park. I'm lucky to have a bike lane to the park and safe biking in the park, even exiting the park up onto the levee for two miles (there is construction blocking the rest of the path on the levee, or I could go all the way to Baton Rouge. As it is now, I can do four mile loops a few times!).
4. Weights and strength training. I should be doing this anyway, right? I've been doing weights or strength of some sort about once a week. I usually do one or two core routines, plus some upper body stuff.

Besides that, I also do some home PT at least once a day. I try for twice, but I can't always fit it in. Overall, while I have definitely lost a lot of fitness and I'm sure all of my endurance, I still feel pretty strong. My muscles didn't atrophy as much as I expected, and now that I have more options open, I should be able to get back in shape with time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I own bras with pockets!!

Well, I'm pretty excited. I received two more Coeur bras last week! I asked for them to surprise me and got these two patterns:
I would be nervous about wearing white bras around, but see that black lining? Absolutely no see-through happening. I really like that. I also, as I have babbled on about before, adore the bra pockets. And I don't think I pointed out fully the extreme usefulness of these pockets: there are actually two. See? The large one (it's made up of white and black fabric and is a good 4 or 5 inches wide) and the small one (sewn into the lining, but on the inside, so chafe-free - perfect size for a gel). I can imagine myself using the larger pocket for gloves or something like arm-warmers, and the small one for a key or a gel. 

Cutest part of the order: I got a sweet personal note. My hip still hurts, but encouraging notes make it immediately better. 
Now I just need to get better so I can WEAR some of my new clothes. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

I'm such a tightwad.

I sold my prison.

Yep, people bid on used medical equipment. Gross.

(This has been a big selling week for me. I also sold my vacuum on Craigslist. It's a fabulous fancy vacuum but I have two area rugs and I just never use it. It's too big and heavy. So I sold it for $50 and bought a new tiny light vacuum for $55, the same kind I have at work and love - I just wish I would have broken even. Stupid taxes.)

What's the weirdest thing you've bought used? I've purchased open paint before. Art supplies are expensive, and these weren't dried out and were someone's failed hobby for super cheap.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Five things Friday

Whatever, I'm tired this week.
1. Sunday night I went grocery shopping and filled up the fridge and freezer with milk, whole chickens, shark (it was on sale, woot!), and various dairy products. On Monday morning the refrigerator died. Love how that happens.
2. I have a new pharmacist at work. This is the NINTH pharmacist I've had in three years and a couple of months. Am I hard to work for?
3. Apparently Robin Williams was closer to some of my friends than their family members. I have really never seen anything like the outpouring online and in person for this man!
4. Ever since my scrape with Steven Johnson's Syndrome, I get red, raw patches on my fingertips whenever I fill prescriptions for Bactrim DS. I guess some powder from the drug puffs upward as I count and settles on my hands, and apparently I have quite the reaction to it now! Work hazards. Too bad I fill prescriptions for Bactrim about 20 times a day.
5. I hired a new bedside delivery tech a few weeks ago (yeah...see #2) and she says, "Ta-ta!" whenever she leaves the pharmacy. Now I find myself saying, "Ta-ta!"

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Things might be looking up

Around about week eight post-op, things started sort of looking up for my hip. It's still too soon to say (I'm only at week nine now!), but I feel like I've made several large improvements all at once.
1. The painful tugging and catching on my hip flexor has lessened enormously.
2. The sudden stabbing pain has gone away.
3. My recovery from bad days is much faster: I can go to sleep in a lot of pain and wake up pain-free.
4. And I actually have a "pain-free" - sometimes there is no pain at all.

I still have a lot of problems, too - namely,
1. Catching and clicking inside the joint.
2. Pain with adduction combined with extreme flexion.
3. Hip flexor pain
4. Sensation of hip "falling out" of socket

But big changes for the better? Awesome. On Sunday I was able to walk the 3.2 mile park loop with David and didn't feel any pain except some hip flexor complaint when I extended too far. And that was after walking around at Dirty Linen all night on Saturday.
I don't know if improvements are because of something I did, or they just came with time, but I have been stretching a TON more lately. I bought a stretching strap, and at PT we've been pretty much yanking the joint everywhere. We aren't really stretching the muscles themselves (except the hip flexor, which continues to be a problem), but we are stretching the joint itself, trying to clear the hip capsule of scar tissue. I do feel a lot better after a good stretch, so I think it is at least a contributing factor.

I'm feeling a little more positive about the situation now. Who knows? Maybe I'll make big improvements and be able to ease back into running in the fall. I still have that as my goal.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dirty Linen and a tourist trap

Last week? White linen. This week? You get to rewear it at Dirty Linen, which is another art show held in the Vieux Carre (Next week is Filthy Linen, held on St. Claude).
But I didn't re-wear my white, since it practically disintegrated in the wash thanks to my coffee attack and subsequent bleaching.

I wore a  blue strapless dress with clogs to dress it down (I do not know why I am all posed in this picture; I suppose this is the kind of embarrassing photo I should quietly delete, but it's my only full-length pic from the night. I was actually trying to get my clogs in the picture!).

And large amber earrings, also to dress it down. Nothing says, "Not fancy!" like big, cheap jewelry. That's actually I have worn these earrings to dress down more than one outfit. I would have worn my hair down but it was too hot.

After the art opening (which was uneventful; I only saw one new show I liked, although it was excellent textile work by an artist who claims her name is Kim Pterodactyl), we went to Tujague's for dinner. It's a tourist trap, so we've never been there, but we gave it a chance since
1. It was in the area
2. It had a $35 pre fixe "Coolinary" menu
3. It's the second oldest restaurant in the city, and it almost went bankrupt this year and turned into a T-shirt shop, so we felt a responsibility to support it.

So. It was a tourist trap, as assumed. We had reservations and were on time, but the maƮtre d' made us wait ten minutes while he consulted a Post-It note full of names he had "concealed" in his palm. When we were seated, the service was rushed, and we were squished between two obnoxious bachelorette parties - plus, the dining room was frigid. It was probably 64 degrees, if that! Maybe lower.
Our food was tolerable. My entree was good, but the scallops were over-salted. And Davids swordfish was flat-out overcooked, no way around that. It was okay, but in New Orleans okay gets you nowhere! And David would definitely have sent the fish back, except for the temperature in the dining room. We were so cold we just wanted to get out! Lesson learned: Stay away from tourist traps. Stick to the locals' favorites!

Monday, August 11, 2014

A look at some Couer clothes...

Remember that time when I said I was going to be a Coeur Sports ambassador? Of course you do! Because all you've seen since then is me winning races in Coeur gear, swiping up age group prizes in Coeur kits, and finishing 20 milers with nary a Gu chafe thanks to ample pockets in Coeur clothes.
Or you would. If I hadn't torn my hip labrum and had surgery. And the part about winning races. I made that up to spice things up a little.

Anyway, I actually received my Coeur kit right before going in for surgery and was thrilled to try it out, except that apparently I can't figure out my sizes at all and had to send everything back. Now, as it turns out, Couer was adjusting some sizes based on feedback, and I missed that memo. So with the adjusted sizes, my advice is - it runs true to size. But since I realized that too late, I sent everything back for the right size (FYI they have a very comprehensive returns policy).

And then I haven't worn anything, because I haven't been doing much more than sitting on the floor flexing my quads (that was actually my first PT assignment). But I took some pictures, so let's do a little look-through:
Shorts and top in "Fleet Foxes" design and bra in "Chinese New Year"

There are two pockets in the back on the shorts. The fabric of the shorts is kind of hard to describe - more stretch than most running shorts; kind of like bike shorts material but lighter. 

The back of the top has a reflective logo for safety.... Oh, and "fleet foxes" isn't just a pattern name - it's made up of little foxes!


There it is, right in the middle, almost unnoticeable (very smoothly inserted). So useful for gels and keys. Love this feature. More reflective logos on the bra, too. I love this pattern, not only because it is NOT NEON (I am so sick of neon), but because it's great for modesty. No see-through in this fully lined, patterned top! 

And I got this soft and comfy sleeveless shirt for post-race changes! 
Now, I would love to review the gear, but I can't. Haven't used it, woe is me. But I'm saving it for my first runs back after this surgery to give me something special to look forward to! But until then, do check the site out: this is actually a company that respects athletes, supports charity partners, asks for feedback, has a good blog, and makes clothes in the USA.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

PT that hurts

I had to take a two-week break from physical therapy thanks to the disaster that is Tulane PT (I love the PTs, but they schedule into a PAPER DAY PLANNER and when the scheduler went on vacation, nobody could schedule me with my new plan of care. I'm not sure why, since I think the day planner system must be pretty easy to learn).
Upon my return, I asked Christian to focus mostly on stretching, because in my absence I felt like my hip area tightened a lot. We did some good stretches, but I will post those later because I'm buying a strap to assist with stretches and I haven't, you know, won that Ebay auction yet.

But in the meantime, here are three moves I'm doing that surprisingly hurt!

1. Bottom leg lifts. I do this on both sides, and it gives me a good yet painful piriformis stretch on the top leg (here I'm stretching the injured side, which is why the angle is off. I have a lot of range of motion to gain back). 

2. Passive hip flexor stretch with motion in hip capsule. You pull the opposite leg to your chest, which stretches the flexor and causes the femur to readjust inside the socket. It hurts. Also note how tight: my left leg should be on the ground, not four inches in the air!

3. Cat/cow with hip capsule stretch. This part is fine, but at the end of the cat/cow cycle I sit all the way back on my heels, and that still hurts.

4. One-legged bridge. Holding the active hip tight in the socket still hurts. Notice that the lifted leg is at an angle, not straight up: that changes the position of the other hip, and is easier. I never get to do the easy stuff. 

Since these are still painful, they'll be a good barometer of progress as I heal (IF I heal), so I'm keeping them on my PT list. 
Do you do any hip PT/strengthening/stretching daily?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sports doc follow up

I saw my doctor for what should have been my last post-op visit this week.
I might as well say it up front - things didn't look very good. I mentioned that I've had some pain off and on, but I assumed that was normal. To a certain extent it is, but my pain has been accompanied by clicking and movement of the hip. Dr. Van Sice is concerned that the small strip of labrum I'm left with isn't enough to firmly hold the femur, and I may continue to have pain.
Right now, I feel pain that reminds me of the labral tear pain, only without the pinching quality. Some things I could not do before surgery (go down stairs, pistol squat) I can now do without pain. But there is groin pain all the same, and it's associated with the clicking - so it could very well be pain from the labrum.
So, bad news.
But I'm not losing all heart yet.
I will see Dr. Van Sice in 4 more weeks. In the meantime, my range of motion and strength look good, and I can now add regular biking, and next week I can add resistance on the exercise bike and elliptical. And I'll watch and wait with the hip. The pain could improve: my bones aren't done healing yet, and the labrum might still be raw, plus the hip capsule could be taking extra time to heal, too. I will need to avoid impact to protect the bone and hip capsule, but movement restrictions are totally lifted.
I got this email today. GO AHEAD AND RUB IT IN, SPORTSPHOTO!
Now, way back at week one post-op, Dr. Van Sice told me I could get back to running at week eight. That's this week. At the time, I didn't post the date, because I doubted it would be true! That seemed way too early to me! And sure enough, that is not happening. I am in too much pain! But all the other protocols I looked at had a return to running at 12 weeks at the earliest, so I really didn't expect to be running at 8 weeks. Dr. Van Sice is pushing it back to 12 weeks, and that's only if I get the pain down. Meanwhile, I just need to be aware that pain is a sign to pull back a little. I am supposed to push "to" pain but not "through" pain while I stretch and strengthen.

And in a little over a month, I go back to discuss options. Will I need some anti-inflammatories? More PT? A joint injection? We'll have to have those conversations later. For now I'm still hoping for a miraculous improvement!

Monday, August 4, 2014

White Linen Night

Another not-too-hot summer evening meant we could head to White Linen Night on Julia Street without fear of heatstroke!
Be glad you can't see the back of this shirt.

We planned on biking down, so I chose a bike-friendly shorts and blouse outfit instead of a cute white dress. Before heading down St. Charles, we took a coffee break at PJ's. I had some work-related articles that I wanted to read, so we settled into a table with our coffees.
Little did I know that I was about to be the victim of a clumsy assault! Without warning, I was showered with scalding coffee all over my back! Somehow the guy at the table behind me knocked his cup over in such a violent manner that it sprayed out, covering the back of my nice WHITE LINEN in coffee. I jumped up and starting mopping coffee out of my open purse, off my burned skin, and off my magazine. David and I rushed home to pretreat my shirt in hopes of saving it, but we had ample time while helping clean up to receive an apology.
We didn't get one. Not an "I'm sorry", not an "Are you ok," not a "Let me pay for your shirt to be laundered." Not even an acknowledgment. I was stunned. That was so rude. I know it was an accident, but have some manners!

I bleached the shirt twice when we got home, and succeeded in removing not only most of the coffee, but some of the integral fibers, as well. I ended up wearing a slightly yellowed shirt with some tiny bleach holes in it. Grrr.

And we ended up driving, because my bike had a flat.

Despite this inauspicious start, we had fun wandering Julia street, trying to look at art, eating street food and running into friends and family. The Advocate ("New Orleans' only daily paper") provided sunglasses at their table - brilliant marketing, since many people weren't prepared for the blinding sun at 7pm.

Everyone had the noticeable red glasses on - and on the side is a noticeable Advocate logo. Very smart of them: the whole crowd was asking where to find the Advocate table, how to get Advocate glasses, or wearing the glasses. I'm sure it was more cost-effective than billboards and benches!

I was a little worried about being out and about for so long - we parked over half a mile from the event, and it's a walking event, but I survived and didn't have too much pain in my hip. I was stiff Sunday morning, though. I was so miserable a few days ago that this is a big improvement. Little by little!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What to do with all this free time?

Sew baby clothes, of course! Because in addition to growing a new labrum, I'm, just kidding, although that would definitely win for tackiest baby announcement (or maybe I could do mom 'n dad crutches with little baby crutches - that would be macabre and amazing).

I'm actually using my sedentary, non-running mornings to wake the neighbors with my sewing machine to make clothes for my niece, like this little sleeveless dress with piping and a big button at the shoulder.
And a pocket, because all toddler dresses need a pocket.

While I was halfway through this dress, my machine broke. I was annoyed, until I called the local sewing machine repair shop to ask about repairs. Then I was furious. It's $150 just for diagnostics! Absurd! The machine only cost about twice that! So instead I texted my best friend from childhood, Gaby, and enlisted her dad's help. He's a sewing machine repairman (who doesn't charge any $150 diagnostic fee, hmph), and he talked me through a repair. It worked. 

With my machine back in business, I decided it was time to sew something for my little nephew, who will be here in just 7 or 8 weeks! If he is born at his due date, his parents will have two kids under the age of one. Yikes. That sounds Amish or something.
In honor of which, I sewed some little Amish coveralls out of a scrap of black denim (If you must know how I had scraps of black denim, there was a delusional period in my life when I tried to sew myself jeans).

I got the very simple, easy pattern here, and I whipped this up in about two hours, including picking out a misplaced buttonhole.
But not including the amount of time it took to sew crotch snaps in, since all I had in my drawer were sew-on snaps. Laborious, I tell you.

I didn't adore the pattern I used for the dress - it doesn't look neat and finished - but I love the little romper. Next time I would make it a little less plain by embroidering the front or using less funereal fabric. Although I do like the idea of baby's first denim!