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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Getting to know you

My niece got to meet her baby brother for the first time yesterday. She was staying with family while the baby was born, and picked up a cold, so her first meeting was delayed so she wouldn't get the baby sick.

I don't think she knows quite what to make of the situation yet.
Also, I am dying they are so cute.

A couple of other life updates over here...
- I am sick. I got a cold last week, and it's still lingering. Being sick certainly aided the "slow running progression" thing.
- I am exhausted. On Monday both of my techs called in. One had to take her child to the doctor; the other got a flat tire and, while she waited for roadside assistance, a bird pooped on her shoulder. Rough Monday. Add to that 9 conference calls (two at 8 am, and I open at 9, ugh), two flu shot clinics with 200 shots apiece, training two new people, and a few work emergencies, and I am tired out!
- I am fat. Slowly getting back into running = less activity than before, if you can believe it, and it's not helping the weight gain thing.
- I am slow. Running is hard. It still hurts later in the day sometimes. I have ups and downs, great days and terrible days. But it's hard and I'm slow.

And sort of off-topic, I bought some more Coeur shorts because I really liked the ones they sent me. Let me tell you, this is how marketing works! Let someone try something, and get them hooked! I got these:

And another pair of the Fleet Foxes design, because I am enamored of the little foxes. So now I have two of the exact same shorts. I'm pretty boring.
I must confess that one of the reason I like these is the stretch in the fabric, so I can wear them while I (hopefully) get back into shape!
Have you made any new run purchases lately? Anything fun I should know about?

Monday, September 22, 2014

My favorite ten mile loop

I was going to name this post, "First double digits back!" until I realized I already wrote that post. Injury-prone, much?

Go ahead and rip me a new one in the comments. I deserve it. I did a stupid thing on Saturday and ran 10 miles.
No, I didn't mean to go eight, but got caught up in the beautiful weather, blah blah.
I didn't plan on seven but oops, got lost (in my own neighborhood...).
I didn't think the group was going eight but somehow we went ten. 

I actually left the house with the evil intent to run ten miles. I missed running long on Saturday, I missed feeling tired after running, I missed my old ten-mile loop, and I missed running without taking walking breaks. Walking breaks were officially lifted Thursday, but I'm pretty sure my doctor did NOT intend for me to do ten miles. So just in case, I made sure I didn't ask him.

My ten mile loop is broken into sections. From my house, I run up to St. Charles Avenue, then head toward Carrollton Avenue.
1. Carollton:
I run past Palmer park on Carrollton. It has a 1/3 mile walking loop.
Boring neighborhoods along streetcar line. Pretty, but never my favorite part of this loop. I turn around at Claiborne right before Carrollton turns into fast food places and ghetto. I head back up the way I came.
2. The levee:
This tiny ridge of dirt is all that's keeping the Mississippi out of my living room.
I cross St Charles and get on the levee (construction at this point is FINALLY finished: the levee has been under construction for two years). I love this part of my run: it's very flat and fast once the path is shielded from wind off the river by office buildings, and I always remember winning The Wall 30k and this being that very last section! That was a crazy race (I woke up with some serious GI issues and there was a windy storm) and moments of fighting that wind always pop back into my head here. Thinking about winning a race is never a negative, though, bad stomach and weather aside!
3. The Fly:
I always run along the river, rather than up on the road.
I follow the levee up onto The Fly, the local name for Audubon Riverside park, and always stop for water at the fountain. The fountain is 4.5 miles into my run, and on hot summer mornings water is extremely appreciated at this point.
4. The Fly connects back to Audubon park:
The tree on the right fell down this spring in a storm and I actually cried.

I run through Audubon and exit back onto St. Charles. If it's hot out, I stop at the fountain right before I leave the park at mile 6.5.
5. St. Charles:
Running on the tracks 
I sometimes switch to the streetcar tracks here, and run up to Napoleon, turn around, and head home. I follow St. Charles all the way to my street. Right in front of my door makes exactly ten miles.

I loved getting back on my old loop, even if my left quad decided to spasm for two hours after, and I spent Saturday a little stiff. The only thing missing was my post-long-run club soda, a delicious tradition. And now I am back to following rules. I just broke this one, tiny one so don't be too mad.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


My new nephew, John Richard Thacker III!
He looks a lot like his dad for now.

His big sister Alanna won't turn one year old for another week - for now, my brother has two babies under the age of one. Wow.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Me and my appliances are on the injured list

My husband gave me a cold for my birthday.
He also gave me a purse: my new this-better-last-at-least-ten-years purse (I usually buy cheap throw-away bags, but I got sick of straps fraying and zippers breaking and asked for the Fossil Sidney shopper, which seems like a nice, sturdy, classic, casual bag for not too exorbitant a price).
Going to work with everything I own in this bag

And then the very next day he brought me these lovely flowers, for no reason at all, except he said he appreciated me! He's such a sweetheart.

I haven't been running, because I'm sick. So much for that. My appliances took the cue and decided they'd all be sick, too.
My coffee pot timer stopped working, and we replaced it, bravely choosing a new coffee pot (I'm a picky coffee drinker). Consumer Reports' second-best choice is only $32, a Mr. Coffee BVMCSJX33GT, but it makes a pretty nice strong cup. And of course I sold the old one for $10 on Craigslist, with full disclosure of its timer flaw (everything else worked). So if you are looking for a good coffee pot without spending $100, check out the Mr. Coffee laskdjflasdjflskdjf (I couldn't type that model number again, geez).
The same weekend, my washer died. Our washer predates our marriage, since I wouldn't marry David until he bought a washer, but it's only 7 years old, so this surprised me. It stopped spinning or draining and probably the clutch is out. I can't believe it's mechanically failing at only 7 years old, given our light usage, but at least David's cousin is a GE repairman and can come fix it soon.

Today I have a big meeting with some big bosses. I almost had to attend with no coffee, and I AM attending wearing the dregs of my wardrobe. Luckily I still had a semi-professional dress in the closet. Good thing I wasn't reduced to rewearing the dirties, right?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Taking my hip for a run

I've been back "running" for a week now, which means four runs I think. I'm still walking and jogging, although my doctor said I could go for up to 2 miles before taking a walk break (he'll increase that after 2 weeks if I have improved). I'm still taking days off. Once, I didn't. I ran Saturday, and for some reason I ran Sunday, too. Then I spent the whole afternoon sitting on the floor, watching the Saints game at a birthday party. Sunday night and Monday my hip was tight, sore, and painful. I learned that lesson! And I also remembered my doctor's constant reminder: "There will be good days and bad days".

The only good thing about this hip surgery is that your body definitely knows its limitations. I KNEW I had to take Monday off from any activity, and Tuesday I woke up feeling fine. So I'm just going day by day for now, and advancing very, very slowly.

Running feels weird, a little bit. My hip flexors remain very tight, and I think my extension is limited a little. I'm trying to work on this, because the last thing I want to do is run with my gait off and develop an injury. But even though I feel like I can stretch my hip flexor out, it tightens right back up. By the end of the run, it's sore, and it hurts to extend back sharply.
It is also a weird feeling to have your bone move in your socket differently than you are used to. My femoral head was reshaped, and there is a significant change in how my leg moves in the joint, magnified while running. Before the surgery, for years I felt a sort of catch in my hip as I ran. I remember it was more noticeable on the left, but was present on both sides. It felt like the femoral head moved in the socket in two steps, clu-clunk, instead of one smooth rotation. Now, I don't feel that on the left, but it's mildly present on the right (please don't let me need surgery on the right, please please please please please). Also weird? The times when my leg feels loose or out of socket. These moments are becoming rarer and rarer, but if they happen while I'm running I stop immediately.

I don't, however, feel any pain while running, besides some general pelvic pain and fatigue. This feels like the old osteitis pubis pain. Dr. Van Sice said I probably didn't have osteitis pubis, and it could have been the labral tear that whole time, but a later MRI revealed signs of the condition, and I think it's still there (annoying). I keep hesitating to take that first run step, an old habit from pain on impact. If I am in pain, it comes later in the day: soreness, stiffness, or a tugging tightness. I've learned to stretch well and end every run with a walk to keep the tightness at bay.

And now I feel 100 years old after that description.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Flu clinic time again

Here I am, stuck in a tiny room at Delgado community college, giving vaccines for four hours. It's cold. I'm hungry. The bathroom is in another building. But at least the employees are getting vaccinated!

Did you get your flu shot yet?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The best hip exercise I've learned

One of the things I am working on in PT is strengthening the hip stabilizers. Mine were weak to begin with, thanks to having a hip injury for so long, and after trauma to the area, they're even worse. Here is one exercise I've been doing that has really helped strengthen my muscles:

1. Start as if you are going to do a clam.
2. Then, lift your feet up at a 45 degree angle off the ground (picture 1).
3. You can do clams like this and it will be a bit more intense than a regular clam (picture 2).
4. Or, for an even better exercise, you can add a leg extension. While the clam is "open", extend your leg by straightening your knee (picture 4).
Top: Clam with legs lifted
Bottom: Clam with legs lifted plus extension
I actually taught this one to my PT! We started adding it in, and I really like that you can feel the burn after a few sets of 20. With regular clams, I never felt like I was doing anything.

My resource for these exercises comes from Princeton Athletic Medicine, and you can read the descriptions here.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Running things I missed

Saturday, 8 am: time for a "long" run! I can leave a little later than usual since my long run is ... two miles.
I walk the first block, then break into a run as I pass Philip's Bar. "Hello, darling," a deep voice from behind lattices and shrubbery startles me. It's our neighbor Joseph's dad, hanging out on the courtyard. He's the same one who gave me bread during my run that one time.
I came home from my run with my ipod, Garmin, and two loaves of bread. 
He can see me, but I can't see him, although I know who it is: my hip surgery buddy (he had a replacement right before I had my surgery).

I wait for a streetcar to rumble by before I cross St. Charles, dodging the Dog Walker, the man I always see wearing a khaki vest and walking 6 or 7 dogs. I think he does it for a living. I turn off St. Charles into the park, pausing to allow the Tulane cross country boys to woosh past me, spraying me irreverently with sweat.

I don't expect to see many people I know in the park, not at this late hour: my smarter friends finished their long runs half an hour ago. But I nod to a runner who is on her way out and she waves back. She runs with Varsity sometimes.

I'm alternating running and walking for a total of five miles today. I'd like to do one mile of running spaced with walking for about a mile total on the first loop, then try for two miles straight on the second loop. During my first run segment I see my neighbor. "She's back! The Bullet's back!" He gives me a damp high-five. I swing into a walk and dodge the dog-walking ladies, a pack there every morning, who annoyingly block the whole lane.

Prison Yard Workout is at it again: it's our name for the muscled guy in a head scarf and denim vest over bare chest, who completes a very intimidating workout on the side of the path almost every day. We have nicknames for most of the park regulars.

I finish my first loop and stop at the water fountain as I complete my last walking segment. Another runner is in front of me, and he greets me. "You're the first person I've seen smiling out here in this heat." I explain that I'm just back from surgery, so every run is a good run. We chat as we run the loop, and of course (since it's New Orleans), we know all the same people. He ran Louisiana Marathon in 3:10:xx, finishing maybe a minute behind me, so we had plenty to talk about.

We part friends and maybe future training partners, but I can't go over 2 miles per doctor's orders. I leave the park and almost run right into my friend Jon, who is coming back from a knee injury. We swap notes on aches, pains, and PT before I run home. At the corner of Broadway I awkwardly wave to Mr. Big Red Truck's catcall....Ugh. I hate when this happens. I'm so blind that if I hear anyone call to me I always wave, to prevent being rude, but sometimes honks and calls aren't from people I know. Boo. Oh well, I suppose he thinks he's really something special.

Who do I see leaving just as I round the corner to my house? DAVID? Lazy bum. Just woke up! I'm sure he appreciates the sweaty kiss...
Then I'm back home. Time for stretches and Saturday pancakes!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Weight gain after surgery

It's been three months since my hip surgery, and about two months since restrictions on activities of daily living were for the most part lifted. Only recently have I been able to start adding in more exercise activity; besides the post-op immobility, my running and exercise prior to surgery were limited due to hip pain.
So, I'm gaining weight. Of course. I expected a little weight gain, but that doesn't mean I like it! I'm a firm believer in my mom's advice: "Never gain the first pound". It's harder to lose weight than to prevent gain!
Now, I actually know exactly how much weight I gained since surgery, because they weighed me before surgery to calculate anesthesia doses, and I was weighed this week at the doctor's office. I have gained five pounds and I'm currently at the highest weight I've ever been, as far as I know (based on looks since I don't weigh myself often, as I don't own a scale). I was definitely aware of this weight creep, so I'd already decided to do my best to mitigate it before I had the weigh-in.
I noticed that almost every evening I was eating something sweet before bed, so I figured that would be the easiest thing to cut out. To make sure I stopped, I just ruled all desserts and candy off-limits for the month of August. It was bit arbitrary, but it cut out a bad dietary habit and can't hurt. I know it would be smarter to also loosely count calories, but for starters, this was an easy preventative measure. I think when I can be a tad more active and am allowed to do more activities (and for a longer time), I should be able to lose any weight I gained, but for now I'm content to maintain where I am.

I love good food, so it's not easy to make huge changes to my diet, and I don't love skipping dessert when we go out to dinner. But I'd rather make a very small sacrifice now than have to face a large weight loss later.

Now, with August over, I realize that I was pretty much just holding steady for the month - no extreme weight gain as far as I can tell, but certainly no loss. I don't think my deprivation made a huge difference (and BTW, no I was not suddenly brimming with energy or cured of acne or anything). It wasn't a bad for me to get some practice saying no, however.

Over the next few months I'll try to drop the extra weight, but I'm not stressing over it too much. Priority number one is to get healed and healthy, then I can worry about weight.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cleared to run: post-op week 12

As my last post indicated, all of a sudden I'm allowed to start running again! Twelve weeks after major hip surgery, and I can awkwardly tie on my running shoes and head out to the park.
A few weeks ago, I turned a decided corner in my recover, and I was pretty sure I would be allowed to run this week. I see my doctor frequently in the halls of the hospital (even though it isn't his primary practice site), and he'd indicated that he was happy with my recovery and would probably let me return to activity.
At Wednesday's appointment, all we really did were x-rays to ensure that there were no signs of hetertopic ossificans (there weren't, and hopefully that's the last x-ray of my hip for awhile; I've had 12, plus two MRIs and imaging during surgery, so I am a walking cancer risk). Dr. Van Sice checked my range of motion, which was good, and had already seen my PT report. My therapist reported 10/10 for each strength category except seated adduction, which is 9/10. I am working on that!

So, here's the deal. I am cleared to begin a return to running, guided by pain and recovery. I am obviously starting out running/walking and skipping days, etc. All the usual good stuff. But what's weird is that it may still hurt. Supposedly there are "good days and bad days" (Dr. Van Sice has said that about a hundred times) and recovery can't be considered complete until a year post-op. With that in mind, he said we are now at the "use it or lose it" stage. I need to return to normal activity so that my muscles work normally, mostly so they will squeeze the hip joint. The pressure not only improves blood flow, but also stresses the hip capsule, so that it will begin to respond and gain tonicity. Muscle on joint and bone movement in joint are both recommended at this point to stimulate the healing cascades needed to normalize the structure of the joint. It makes sense, but it makes me nervous. Dr. Van Sice said that now was the time to work through pain, stretching and using the joint. Well, I don't like working through pain. For one thing, I'm too good at it, and might go too far. For another thing, I've been told to work through pain twice (once by a chiropractor, once by a doctor) and both times I actually had a serious injury. So I'm really not comfortable with that.
Post-run: Looks totally fresh and new, right?!

I will have to see how this goes. I had my lovely "run" yesterday morning, and I didn't have any pain, but my hip flexor was tight later in the day. I think I'm ok with some pain or stiffness later, but I don't think I am ready to run through any pain. I have way too many bad experiences with that!

And how was my run? Glorious. I wore my new Coeur Sports bra, which I was saving for the occasion (actually, I was saving the new shorts, too, but I decided to stretch all the newness out). It was fantastic, much better than I expected: I love the full coverage, I am obviously obsessed with the pockets, and the firmness was perfect for control without suffocating me. It's very comfortable: no neck pain from a too-tight racerback, and seams you can't feel at all. I have a discount, and I am definitely stocking up on these: my old favorite cheap cotton bras aren't made in my size anymore, and I have been on a futile hunt ever since. Finally found the one I like! And I rarely rave about pieces of clothing (unless it's shoes...), so I'm serious about this.

Disclaimer: the bra was free for nothing! As my father-in-law would say. The doctor's visit wasn't.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I think I will go for a run.

I saved some new clothes for my first runs back! 
In my new Coeur sports bra. With my doctor's permission. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Double surprise

This weekend we had two surprise parties to attend (and I didn't give either one of them away, in case you're wondering).
The second party was fancier - it was at the World War II museum, live band, seated dinner, open bar. AND it was very important to me for snooping and gossiping purposes: my sister in law works at the WWII museum, and I'm pretty sure her coworker has crossed into dating territory from just friends, and I got to meet him. After an hour of observing them together, I'm pretty confident they're dating, but she hasn't admitted it to herself yet. Young love is so cute!

But anyway. The first party was amazing because we ended up being the ones surprised! We were going to a party for David's childhood friend, hosted by his girlfriend. We got there early, the birthday boy was duly surprised, etc. etc. Then one of his friends stood up and announced he had a birthday gift that we all had to see. So we all stood around, watching him opening this gift.
It was a big tote bag.
There was a ribbon in it, and as he pulled the ribbon out, he read a poem attached to a gift tied to the ribbon:
"This gift will support you (pulls out new bike seat), light up your life (pulls out pen light), make your life a bed of roses (pulls out a small bouquet) and sweet as honey (bottle of honey bourbon) -" etc. Finally he got to the bottom of the bag and pulled out...
An engagement ring! And proposed to his girlfriend!!!

It turns out he had had an entire proposal planned for that day, but started to suspect a surprise party. So he canceled all his other plans (which were elaborate, including a horse-drawn carriage and musician serenade!) and crafted this gift entirely himself and brought it to the party. He pulled one of his friends aside and told him, "Force me to open this gift in front of everyone. I'm going to argue and stuff, but you be firm. And then just play along". And he pulled it off! We were all surprised at his surprise party!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Rainy weekend project

A christening gown for my nephew, who is due next week!
A very old-fashioned gown in fine cotton
Lace detailed bodice and peter-pan collar

Buttoned-up back and lacy bonnet

This project reminded me that infant sleeves are extremely tiny and hell to sew, especially since these are slightly puffed so require gathering. The sleeves took me longer than the whole bonnet.

Now that I've totally lost my eyesight pinning 1000 tucks in the bodice, I'm off to enjoy the rest of a long weekend. Happy Labor Day!