Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Another year over... soon.

I should probably write something before the year ends.

But it's just the same old boring stuff. Lots of gym workouts, jumping, spinning and some swimming. I've been running regularly at the gym lately, too.

I know. I said running was terrible and that we'd stay away from it to spare the meniscus. What prompted this desire to jog? The knee brace resizing incident.

In early December, we went to get DonJoy the knee brace resized thinking the thigh had gotten bigger. Nope. Not at all.

We are now running out of desperation. Desperation to get that quad built up.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Girls can jump, y'all

After the injury, Mireille was surfing all over the net trying to find out as much as possible about knee injuries and recovery.

She found a DVD called Girls Can Jump, which is a program designed specifically for ACL injury prevention in women. However, it's good for anyone -- we're just more vulnerable, of course.


We started the program last week and it's going well. All that jumping is good for the confidence.

Warning: it wasn't filmed yesterday (if you know what I mean) and can come off a bit cheesy. But whatever. The exercises are timeless.

I recommend it to anyone who wants to prevent a knee injury.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Run, Mireille, run

It seemend the stars just weren't aligning for us tonight.

We drove all the way to spinning only to find out there were no bikes left... the class was full.

Then -- plan B -- we went to the gym. But the front door wasn't working and we would have had to go all the way around the building to get in. Too much frustration was setting in at that point.

We went home but couldn't just go in and sit on the couch. Not after being told yesterday we had a lot of work left to do in the strength department.

So we laced up our sneakers and went for a run. Just under 5 kms of consecutive running.

At first, the limp was bad. But, after a while, we got the hang of it and the confidence kicked in.

No pain, no swelling. Soreness where we want it: in the quads and hammies.

C'mon, bear. Bring it on.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tortured by the torture device

Today was our 8 month post-op follow up with the surgeon. And what a disappointment.

The green light for sports rested on a strength test on the Orthotron. Yes, that dreaded machine I wrote about a while back ("Almost 6 months" post).

The machine obviously hates me as much as I hate it.

Why couldn't we test me with some leg presses and hamstring curls? We rock at those.

So, we gotta keep working at it. Will probably revise my gym workout to be even more aggressive.

On the bright side, I am doing fine. The problem is Mr. Quad and Mrs. Hammie. They're just not strong enough, it seems. They're also still a bit smaller than on the other leg. But not that much. I'm really surprised by our results.

Oh well. Gotta listen to the expert.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

No news, good news.

Ugh... sorry.

There's just really nothing to report.

Doing the same old strength training exercises and activities. Slowly getting better, as usual.
  • I still crack and feel crunchy
  • Get stiff when sitting too long
  • Am smaller than my right-sided twin
  • Not running
  • Still numb and sometimes painful when kneeling
It's annoying but doesn't interfere with life or any of the sports I currently do.

Meeting with the surgeon Tuesday. Looking forward to hearing what he has to say...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Because what if I get chased by a bear?

Mireille has been very disciplined throughout this whole process but lagging in one specific area: running.

Running is pretty much the only thing holding us back from being a normal person again.

Sure, we tried a few times but never fully succeeded. What's the point? We don't plan on going back to any running sports until next summer. But, Mireille is starting to think she needs to put more effort into this...

On our last day of physiotherapy, Mireille told her physio she still couldn't quite run. He said: "Do you really need to run? Do you like running?"

I wasn't sure if he was joking or not. I waited. He wasn't joking.

"Of course I need to run!" Mireille exclaimed.

"What if I get chased by a bear?"

True story.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Exercise Update

So what the heck are we doing these days?

Here's how we're getting strong, back in shape and normal again:
  • Spinning 2 - 3 times per week. This is really getting the circulation going in the leg and building muscle. Highly recommended and addictive.
  • Swimming once per week. This loosens me up quite a bit. I still get stiff from sitting at a desk all work week.
  • Gym workout 2 - 3 times per week. For the legs, we do lunges with weights, one or two-legged hamstring curls on exercise ball, deadlifts on Bosu ball with weights, mountain climbers on Bosu ball and step ups with weights.
  • Yoga. Every day, usually twice. Highly recommended for body and mind.

With the surgeon's ok, we hope to start subbing on volley-ball teams and taking dance classes in the new year.

Busy, busy!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

High heel hiatus

Is being short really that bad?

We went to yet another wedding this past weekend and Mireille faced the oh so important question: What shoes do I wear?

The previous wedding we went to, Mireille sported the heels (I'm talking four inches, here) for the ceremony and then flats for the rest of the evening.

The wedding prior to that one, we wore one-inch heels the whole night.

So what to make of that? At first, it seemed Mireille was anxious to get back in heels and started slow with the one-inch kind. Then, we went all the way with the four inches but they came off pretty quickly. This weekend, we stuck with flats.

This whole injury business has got Mireille embrassing her shortness. Looks like the high heels are going to stay in the closet for a while still.

After all, what's better than a cute ballet flat?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Do I or don't I?

These past couple of weeks we've been hearing a lot of stories about knee injuries and how these people are never going to return to the sport they were doing when they got hurt.

So, Mireille's been a bit down because of that and unsure about what she should do.

I'm feeling great and I often forget now that I was ever hurt. Going to back to sports seems like a no-brainer but people are planting seeds of doubt in us.

Is it worth going back to Ultimate? Do I really need to go back and prove a point? Who says I would get hurt again? We just saw Tom Brady playing football today. He went back. As do pretty much all pro football players.

Ok but Mireille isn't a professional, paid athlete. I guess if money were involved, there would be no question.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Spinning 'round and 'round

It's time to get down to business.

We now have a date for our next surgeon's appointment. November 10th is the official deadline for getting back in top shape. At that time, we'll either get the green or red light for a full return to sports.

Mireille took me to Spinning class tonight for the first time post-injury. She was really nervous about it for some reason and almost changed her mind at the very last minute. Funny.

"Where have you been?!", said the instructor.

Yikes. We haven't been slacking, I swear...

It turned out great, actually. New bikes, small group of unintimidating people. Couldn't ask for a better first class back. However, it took a while for Mireille to get up in 2nd and 3rd position. A mental block because I'm definitely strong enough for it.

It's all about confidence.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Viva Las Vegas

Going to Vegas really did me good. By the end of the trip, Mireille was feeling adventurous and wanted to go mountain biking in the Mojave desert.

It sounded like a good idea and check out the picture. Looks like fun...

But what the picture doesn't tell you is that it must have been at least 40 degrees celsius out. And, as you can see, there were no clouds or anything else to provide shade.

Upon closer inspection, that nice winding trail looked like this.

There was a lot of flat ground but also some of this.
However, it didn't take too long before Mireille built up some confidence and rode over the bumps with ease. It was a fantastic workout for me and definitely my most challenging yet.
I wonder where Mireille will take me next.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

6 months and some

Wow, I was stiff after a 5 hour plane ride.

But it was all well worth it. Las Vegas is good rehab. We've walked great distances along the Strip, and gone up and down countless stairs.

A lady in a store found out Mireille was Canadian and asked how she liked free healthcare. She told her she wouldn't have it any other way. However, it's hard to convince someone it's any good when it took 7 months for surgery and over three weeks for an MRI. I wonder how much ACL reconstruction costs in the States...?

P.S. Won't write much for the next little while because we're having too much fun in Vegas, baby.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

6 months now, I'd say

Mireille took out the ol' six string.

"You know, now that you're injured, you should finally learn to play the guitar."

Really? Well that person forgot that we had so much icing and physio to do... there was no extra time. Plus, I could barely bend in a position to support a guitar. And, when I could, the foot got numb.

Maybe those are all excuses. But... we're an athlete. Not a musician.

I'm not sure what compelled Mireille to start playing again. She actually remembered a bit. Plus, the reverberations felt quite good on me.

Guitar playing could end up being therapeutic.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Almost 6 months

The Orthotron is the latest torture device I've been subjected to at physio.

The best image I could find is at this site (left-hand photo): www.physiotherapy.gr/pantazis/physio1.htm

I'm sure there are newer, sleeker models but the one where I go is old school like this one. The difference is the strap looks less like a seatbelt and the hold-on-for-dear-life handles are more prominent.

"Are you sure that's not going to kill me?"

"If I don't do it right, am I going to get an electric shock?"

"Hey! Help me out!! Where are you going?"

Oh, I know deep down inside my physio is going to miss us when we're gone...

Yeah, it's like the leg extension machine at the gym. Except with this one there's resistence on the way up and down. The reason I hate it: Mireille is expected to whip her leg up and down as hard and fast as possible.

I know... it sounds like an injury in the making. That's exactly my problem with it!

Gotta trust that physio knows best.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

About 5 months, three quarters

The pressure is on.

Mireille told her volley-ball team about the surgeon's timeline and said she still wanted to be on the team. Volley-ball season doesn't start until late September / early October so we wouldn't be that far behind. They are going to take us on despite Mireille's delay in playing and my condition... Yay!

I just need to be strong enough when we see the surgeon in November.

It's a recreational team so, hopefully, the surgeon will take that into consideration. No competitive team for us this year!

Mireille started practicing serves and simple bumps and volleys. It's difficult to think about hitting the ball and not about me. After a while, though, she does forget.

Not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A bit over 5 and a half months

After we kinda ran 2 kms on Saturday, Mireille was feeling pretty good and ready to hit the track again.

I was moving well and Mireille was psyched. However, the legs weren't cooperating. It felt like someone had poured concrete in Mireille's quads. I guess we haven't built enough muscle mass, yet??

Maybe it was the hooligan loitering in the bushes on the southside of the track. He was quite distracting. You know when you get scared and you freeze? Maybe that's what was happening.

If I ever go missing, please inform the police about a middle-aged man walking aimlessly and looking suspicious. Ok, so I didn't a good look at him... Crap.

Yes, I'm paranoid by nature.

Monday, August 17, 2009

About 5 and a half months

The usual.

Still working on bending until we can sit on our heels. Jogged (I mean, walked as fast as possible with a hop) for 2 kms and was quite sore the next day. Stiffness is less and less of an issue.

Most importantly, Mireille can now visualize going back to sports. It doesn't seem that scary anymore.

I, and the whole leg, feel very strong and stable.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

1 year since injury

Today marks exactly one year since my injury.

In fact, it was even around this time (7:30-ish) that Mireille collapsed and remained frozen to the ground. She wouldn't look at me. She was sure I was black and blue and the size of a soccer ball. All she could think was:

"OMG, my kneecap is shattered and probably the bones in my legs. It's ok, they'll fix you... they'll fix you..."

She didn't even look at me as they took her in the ambulance. The whole time she just stared straight up, repeated the mantra "they'll fix you..." and focused on her breathing to get through the pain.

"I'm sorry miss but we can't give you any pain medication."


Mireille finally glanced down at me in the hospital. I wasn't even swollen... She panicked for a second: "Did I make a scene for nothing?"

The extent of my injuries only revealed itself the next day. And, we now all know, I didn't make a scene for nothing - unfortunately!


We saw the surgeon again today. Dr. B told us another 3 months until our return to sports...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

22 weeks, 1 day

We're feeling super duper!

(I just felt like saying "super duper"... oops, there I go again! But, really. How often do you get to say "super duper"??)

I don't have much to report so I thought I'd update the blogosphere on our workout schedule.

Day 1 @ gym
Bike warm-up
Leg press machine
Straight-legged dead lifts
Calf raises with dumbbells
Cardio workout (elliptical, treadmill or stairclimber)

Day 2 @ gym
Bike warm-up
Ball squats
Hamstring curl machine
Calf raise machine
Cardio workout (elliptical, treadmill or stairclimber)

Every morning we do at least 15 minutes of yoga and, most evenings, we get another longer yoga session in. 1 - 2 times per week we hit the pool (laps and now plyometrics in waist-high water). Biking outdoors once a week. Started also working the upper body at the gym.

On weeks where we don't go to physio, we fit in a third gym workout and add lunges + stability exercises.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

21 weeks, 2 days

Real pain or fear pain?

A work buddy is seeing a physio for knee issues. She is experiencing pain in various areas of the knee and my situation surely increased her paranoïa. Her physio is reminding her to question whether it's real pain or fear pain. How smart.

The yoga is highlighting some of Mireille's own fear pain. Currently, the most challenging asana by far is Child's pose. I can't quite bend to the point where Mireille is sitting on her heels. I also feel a sharp pain when being bent and pulled in towards the chest. So much for full flexion.

However, during tonight's practice, I noticed that I felt bendier the more Mireille cleared her mind, relaxed and breathed through it.

So, what's new? We're starting to walk with a swagger. Oh yeah...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The big 2 - 0

I'm at 20 weeks and there's more letting go to do.

My physiotherapist is off on vacation for two weeks and, judging from tonight's performance, I don't need to see a replacement while he's gone. That will be very strange because I've been going there regularly for almost a year now. It's my social outing... my opportunity to meet and chat with other busted, reconstructed or don't-know-what's-wrong-with-it-yet knees.

I will replace the physio appointments with additional gym workouts and see how that goes. Hopefully, if all goes well, the appointments will become even more far between.

Mireille is still dealing with mental blocks when it comes to running and jumping properly. We've started practising these in the pool and perfecting the motions.

I bet you thought I was the hard one to train, huh? Mireille's paranoid brain is going to be the biggest challenge.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

19 weeks, 3 days

Holy geez!

I forgot to mention a huge milestone, yesterday. This is going to sound really bad but there's no other way to say it simply.

Mireille showered for the first time since her injury!

Ok, now let me explain...

After we got hurt, Mireille had a really hard time just standing there. Plus, we could barely put any pressure on me. So, we starting taking baths.

Wash hair = bath
Quick wash after the gym = bath
Sore muscles = bath
Cold outside = super hot bath
Regular, everyday cleaning = bath.

We really liked taking baths in the first place so this was the perfect excuse for taking them every single day.

"You're using a ton of water..." How about you bust your knee and stand in the shower?

"It's been months, why are you still exclusively taking baths?" Hey, we really like baths.

"It takes you forever..." I must admit, this is true.

And, with that, I'll finish by saying Mireille really appreciated how efficient the morning routine was when we didn't have to wait for the tub to fill up, pour a bucket of water on Mireille's head ten times to get all the shampoo out and rush through breakfast to make it to work at a decent time.

19 weeks, 2 days

I don't have much to write about but feel obligated because it's been a while.

The walking keeps getting better. I am now getting more positive feedback from people and less "are you ever going to get better?" By the way, YES I am!

I've discovered that we can now jump. It was scary at first but surprisingly easy. I should have tried jumping a long time ago.

I catch a bit when I try to run so this part of the progress is still slow...

I still go to physio once a week. It's my social outing and I'm not ready to let go, yet.

I do an intense leg workout at the gym twice a week. Every non-gym day I either bike, swim, "run", jump, throw the disc. It all depends on my mood. Every day, though, I do yoga morning and evening.

Monday, July 6, 2009

17 weeks, 6 days

The injury happened about 3 weeks before the European honeymoon. Cancelling was not an option.

We endured the cramping of a 10 hour plane ride to another continent. Climbed up to the Acropolis in Athens and walked the mile-long fortified wall that surrounds the old town core of Dubrovnik -- all with the help of handy-dandy crutches.

There was no stopping us. The crutches even followed us onto the black beaches of Santorini. I can still shake sand out of them...

It was sometimes hard not to trip people as we made our way through the hordes of tourists. But that's a story for another day.

Mireille can't really complain because she got prime seating in Rome's famous Sistine Chapel and one of very few chairs in the House of the Virgin Mary on the way to Ephesus, Turkey.

It's in this House, or small chapel, that I got approached by the nun.

"Can I give you this?", she said. Of course! Who doesn't like gifts?

It was a small pendant of none other than the Virgin Mary. Mireille considers herself to be a very spiritual person, and although she doesn't actively participate in organized religion, she thought it was a sweet gesture.

She immediately began wearing it and never took it off for about 11 months. The only time it left her neck was on surgery day. It was with us during a lot of rough moments.

But this past week, it was put away for good. It's time to let go of the crutches -- the handy-dandy but cumbersome ones, and the simple but powerful ones.

It's time to complete this process on our own.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

17 weeks and my birthday

I came into existence exactly 30 years ago today.

I told myself I would enter this new decade running. That I would jog on my birthday. Rain or shine. Limp or no limp. Pain or no pain. And that's exactly what I did.

I'm sure we looked pathetic. The movement of running was there but it was the speed of a normal person walking. The crows were laughing. It started drizzling. But we persisted for a good 1.6 kms.

Then, the thighs started shaking and the rain came down harder. Time to call it a day.

I actually felt pretty good after the "run". No swelling, no pain.

We might try again real soon.

Friday, June 26, 2009

16 weeks, 3 days


We did yoga today for the first time and it felt great. A few moves were avoided due to lack of strength but, overall, was able to do quite a bit. It was a nice change from doing plain ol' stretches.

I guess you could say that we've recently begun our return to sports. Since the last entry, we participated in a volley-ball "game", threw a football around and "played" Ultimate frisbee. Okay so we mostly stood there and hoped the volleyball/football/frisbee would come straight at us. We still don't have the confidence or go-ahead to do any sharp movements.

Regardless, it is better than just sitting on the sidelines the whole time.

4 more sleeps before we try jogging...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

14 weeks, 5 days

Today is Sunday. We decided last week that every Sunday we would go biking along the river because the city shuts down a few streets specifically for that purpose.

Last Sunday, we did about 15 km. This week, we are going for 20km.

The real thinking behind all of this is that once I'm better, we are going to do a triathlon or most likely a duathlon (swim/cycle). I'm not sure I want to jog more than I have to after miraculously healing 3 meniscus tears. Would you mess with a miracle??

My friend started competing in triathlons about 8 months after his ACL surgery. Check out his blog: http://www.pbrun.net/.

I don't plan on doing them after 8 months but let the training begin!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

14 weeks

Full flexion. Yeah, that's right... full flexion! Let me say it one more time because it's just too darn exciting: full flexion!!

It might have taken longer than average but, in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter?

To top it off, as of next physio session, we only have to go in once a week.

I am über happy.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

13 weeks, 4 days

Because I haven't been poked and prodded enough...

Mireille decided it would be a good idea to try acupuncture to get rid of the last bit of tension and pain in the knee. She heard good things about this acupuncturist. He's been known to cure people of cancer. Surely, he could do something for me.

We've had acupuncture in the past but nothing like this. This guy is hardcore.

Mireille's used to having the needles lightly tapped into the skin. This guy shoved.

Mireille's used to having the needles lightly moved around to stimulate the area. This guy used heat.

And, when I say "heat", there were ashes all over me. He must have burnt the remaining nerves so I wouldn't feel anything anymore.

All kidding aside, I am feeling pretty good. I haven't had much of a limp since.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

13 weeks, 1 day

Mystery solved.

The song is called "Bruises" by Chairlift. Oh, and it does say "knees" twice in the chorus. We're liking it. Apparently, it was featured in an ipod commercial. Who knew? Probably everyone but me...

I know this is going to sound strange but Mireille went out and rented the CPM machine again. Yes, that massive piece of equipment that drove us nuts right after surgery. I tend to crunch and tighten still when bending. Mireille hopes the machine will help smoothen things out. We'll give it a shot for a week and see what happens... Can't hurt.

Today, we tried the hamstring curl machine for the first time. We definitely have no hamstring muscle left! 10 pounds was nearly impossible. Someone even had to spot. However, walking after we felt fantastic. We might be onto something here...

Lesson learned: the quads are important but don't forget the hammies.

Monday, June 1, 2009

12 weeks, 6 days

I heard a catchy little tune on the radio and have no idea what it's called or who it's by. Help, please.

It goes something like this:

"I've got bruises on my knees for you... I've got grass stains on my knees for you... I've got holes in my brand new jeans for you..."

Ok, maybe it doesn't say "knees" twice. I think you can understand why I have that word on my mind.

In fact, most of the lyrics may be wrong. I caught the tail end of the song and only heard the chorus once.

What song is this??

Sunday, May 31, 2009

12 weeks, 5 days

My super cool uncle has been in town these past few days and it's been great.

He is an Alexander Technique teacher. The Alexander Technique is an alternative medicine educational discipline with therapeutic effects that studies bodily coordination, including psychological principles of awareness. It is applied for purposes of recovering freedom of movement, in the mastery of performing arts, and for general self-improvement affecting poise, impulse control and attention. (Definition comes from Wikipedia)

He examined our walking and noticed Mireille was walking heavily, as though she had cement blocks for feet. The whole body was being pulled down to the earth.

Can you blame us? If the feet are planted solidly, we are more stable and less likely to fall and reinjure are we not?

If we constantly squeeze and contract every muscle and joint, we're less likely to dislocate something are we not?

With a bit of help from mononcle (my uncle's French slang nickname), Mireille practiced walking and imagining the body being pulled up to the sky. Thus creating space within all of the joints and, most importantly, helping me bend more freely and naturally.

The body knows how to walk. Just like the body knows how to breathe and the heart knows how to beat. You don't need to force it.

Gosh, it's so obvious but not...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

12 weeks, 1 day

Yesterday evening, I spent about 3 hours at the National Arts Centre watching the legendary Leonard Cohen. It was a great show and nice to see a man in his seventies with so much spirit. I especially loved the way he skipped across the stage like a child in wide open field. I want to skip around at that age.

But I have one complaint.

I should have been spellbound by his poetic lyrics and storytelling. Instead, I was visually assaulted by his repeated choreographic moves involving a certain joint.

Practically every song began the same way: a fall to one knee... and/or both knees... getting back up... going back down again... Why are you doing that to yourself, Leonard?

Wait a minute - what are you doing to me? Do you have to draw so much attention to the knees?

Are you doing this on purpose??

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Exactly 12 weeks

I want to give a shout out to my talented friend (and cubicle neighbor at work) for the best blog header, ever! Check out his website and blog at www.samuraiinstreetclothes.com. There's some really great stuff.

I've been bending pretty good at work but it has slowed down the walk significantly. And it's back to looking zombie-ish. People have noticed (and commented, of course...) but I am going to have to stick it out. Would we prefer to walk quickly with a peg leg or slowly with a natural bend? The latter, for sure...

My goal is to become strong enough by the end of June to allow Mireille to jog on her birthday. We're doing a lot of lunges and squats, and increasing the elliptical workout.

Skip the cake. Just wanna run...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

11 weeks, 5 days

Ok, what's been happening... It's been forever.

I hit a major plateau after the last post and nothing was worth writing about. I didn't want to discourage anyone so I refrained from blogging. But luckily, I woke up Saturday morning and snapped out of it.

The sharp shooting pain had been bothering me a lot lately. I was starting to think I would never walk normally again until the pain disappeared... and if that would ever happen!

For the past two days, I've been walking quite well. It seems much easier to bend and put pressure on me. The pain is rarely and barely there. The real test will be tomorrow when it's back to work after the weekend. The (probably self-inflicted...) pressure to get better is terrible in a building of a thousand or so.

I've incorporated lunges into my workout and that seems to be helping. I am bending at 135 degrees (not sure how much better that is going to get...) and can walk downstairs only holding on to one railing.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

9 weeks, 2 days

It's getting pretty boring.

Not much is new and exciting. Well, I guess the exciting part is that we can bike outside relatively far and on uneven surfaces. The hills are quite difficult to surmount and prove how much work there's left to do to rebuild the quad muscle.

Walking normal seems plain old impossible. We should be running by now...

Bending is at a standstill. Made it one extra degree -- up to 133 degrees.

Maybe we're overthinking this whole thing?

Just walk... just bend... we're fixed... we're fine...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

8 weeks, 4 days

Great. We're just falling apart.

I think we got overexcited about walking better and overdid it. Our right knee has been really bothering us, lately. At first, we were concerned it might be a meniscus tear -- or even ligament damage. Please, no...

Turns out it's tendonitis. Considering our fears, that was good news. It appears the patellar tendon is irritated from poor mechanics due to overcompensating on that leg. Hmmm.

The even better news (because the "good" tendonitis news wasn't hard to beat...) is that we are now biking outside. It was challenging at first but, with some practice, we're getting the hang of it.

Still not at full flexion, yet. Getting to 132 degrees no problem. Some ways to go in this department...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Seven weeks, 5 days

There are a few (but very few) benefits to being temporarily less abled. Here's a list of my top favorites:

1 - Indoor parking all winter at work
2 - Bypass long lines at the airport
3 - Preferential treatment every now and then

However, there are far more disadvantages. In addition to the obvious...

1 - People cut you off
2 - Elevator doors get shut in your face a lot
3 - You get stared at

The indoor parking pass at work will expire in about a week. By then, we should be good to bike to work and that is what we plan on doing. "We" being myself and Mireille, of course. I figure I should start talking in "we"s now because Mireille is finally taking a more prominent role in her life.

We can now swim freestyle and do the elliptical machine. We've also thrown the disc outside a couple of times. Walking is still slow and labour-intensive, but technique and endurance are improving.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

7 weeks, 1 day

Oh, the irony.

For the past couple of days, I've been able to breathe freely. Mireille is making a supreme effort to walk without any kind of assistance and I've been spared the confines of an awkward brace. My good friend DonJoy is tucked away until we can do more aggressive sports (I think, I hope).

But with that, comes extreme paranoïa.

Mireille had an off-site meeting today for work and decided that DonJoy didn't need to join us for that. Talk about confidence. It was a location we had never been to and who would've foreseen the obstacle.

Upward slopes are fine. But going down... We don't like those. Factor in a gusty wind and it's a disaster.

A good portion of Mireille's body weight must come from that thigh that's now atrophied because I don't recall a wind warning. I was sure we were going to get carried away. Mireille stood there paralyzed, feet distanced for extra stability. Would the wind every die down??

Luckily, a nice old lady was walking by and noticed my plight. She sweetly asked if she could lend a hand. I couldn't say no... I would have been anchored in front of the government building all day.

An elderly lady had to help a barely 30 year old walk down a moderate incline. Now, that is the ultimate illustration of how my world is upside down right now.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day 47 (6 weeks, five days. Or something like that)

I've felt great these past few days. I'm even experiencing moments where I feel normal when walking. Doesn't last more than about 300 meters but I'm sure my endurance will continue to build up!

The big change that really has my spirits up is I am now doing laps at the pool. I was cleared to start trying a light flutter kick. Sounds pretty simple but it wasn't at first.

Mireille picked up a blue flutter board to match her bathing suit. (What? What's wrong with that?) Anyway, she delicately starts bending and straightening her legs against the water. Her eyes were fixated to the other end of the pool. Her motivation was greater than ever. She was determined to do 25 meters. She kicked and kicked and kicked...

And noticed that she hadn't even made it past the first flag. A small push with the good leg fixed that. And she kicked and kicked and kicked...

And realized she was going backwards.

Now, it might sound like I'm exaggerating but trust me I'm not. After a lot more effort, Mireille made it to the other end. I am happy to report that she is now up to doing ten laps.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day 44 (6 weeks, 2 days I think!)

I'm starting to get a handle on this walking business. I'm still a little wobbly and crunchy but it's a lot better. Mireille is getting less paranoid and more confident in me. After 9 months of walking funny and compensating, it'll probably take a while still to feel 100%. However, for the first time in a long time, I finally feel like things could get back to normal!

Went to see the surgeon today for a check-up. He's happy with how things are going and I seem to be on track. Just need to get those couple of missing degrees for my extension and continue on improving my bending. I'm now at 130 degrees.

Back to this notion of synchronicity that I've been noticing a lot more of lately...

Mireille got a copy of her post-op report and wanted to make a photocopy for her physio. However, after making it all the way up to her desk, she realized she forgot it in the car. Not sure whether or not to go back down right away, she decided to go now and get it over with. On her way, she noticed the "parking police" heading towards her car. She forgot to put her parking pass on the dash...

Ok, so she would've only gotten a warning but still... The universe is looking out for us!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 39

This whole ordeal has made me quite the celebrity at work. Mireille can't go anywhere in the building without someone stopping her to ask about me. However, it often sounds like this "You hurt your foot?"

Complete strangers are concerned. At first, it was flattering but now it just seems to add a lot of pressure. "Been like that a long time, eh?" Yeah, thanks. I hadn't realized...

Sometimes it's just the stares that freak me out. Take a picture, please!

Oh wait, don't... That's even creepier.

Anyway, I'm inching my way out of this plateau. I'm still quite stiff and the kneecap is stuck but with some massaging, it's getting better. I'm feeling strong and a lot more stable.

Gotta get more agressive with my bending, though, because I'm still only hovering at about 127 degrees.

This is me now. I look swollen but that's just the way I'm bent in the picture. Wounds are healing nicely!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Day 34

I was warned about this.

At my last physio appointment, a fellow reconstructed knee owner was looking glum. When his physio asked how's it going, he simply replied: "The novelty is wearing off". Indeed.

At the time, I was still optimistic and a tad overconfident. I'll be better in no time. This is easy. Nothing can stop me. I'm a superstar.

Maybe it's the fact that it's snowing in April or that I seem to have hit a plateau these past few days. Probably both. Mireille hasn't seen much improvement in me lately, and it's obviously reflected in her mood and motivation. To make things worse, I've been hurting. Shouldn't the pain and potential for pain be gone by now?

I was warned it wouldn't always be smooth sailing.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Day 31

Time to talk about the (exaggerated) vitamin and mineral regime. I know, I know. It's best to get all your nutrients from food. But after the trauma I've been through, Mireille would probably have to eat 20 heads of broccoli a day to fulfill the nutrient requirements to fix me. No thanks.

I admit she's been making a monumental effort to eat well before and after surgery. Lots of fruits and veggies, especially. Big salads full of fancy lettuces, multi-colored crudités and things (c'mon, we all love sprouts don't we?).

So it looks something like this. Calcium / magnesium three times a day plus some extra vitamin D on the side. Gotta rebuild those bones they drilled through. Tons of vitamin C for collagen and tissue repair. Glucosamine / MSM / Chondroitin because they say it's good for us joints. Fish oil for inflammation. Oh, and a multi-vitamin for good measure.

Finally, some B vitamins because all of this is so darn stressful!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 28

Pool time!

Today Mireille got the green light to bring me back to the pool. Not to swim -- we're not there, yet. But to practice walking forward, backward, sideways and to do leg lifts, etc. The whole water exercise thing was very helpful before surgery and is proving to be just as good after.

Swimming had quickly become a pre-op addiction. It was pretty much the only social sport I could do. Social as in there were other people there. Like the old man that just waddled around and squirted people with water. Unfortunately, he wasn't there tonight.

Report on progress: I am bending at 126 degrees and am spending full workdays without any type of knee brace. Swelling was down today and I'm hoping it stays that way. I can't wait to be my thin old self again.

The next goals are to do one-legged calf raises (those scare Mireille for some reason. Hello, you didn't injure your calf!) and to go to the gym.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 26

My twin on the other leg is starting to make a fuss (pinching, cracking, etc.) and it's getting worrisome. One injured knee is more than enough. Walking is much easier but far from normal still.

I just can't seem to get rid of this stiffness. I'm getting great range of motion but it's going from point A to B smoothly that's a problem... it takes a lot of warming up and massaging to get to a 122 degree bend. Plus, trusting myself to bend and straighten in a normal fashion while walking is a huge psychological challenge.

My stability is much improved and I'm better at the stairclimber. You'd never guess I was injured looking at me on the exercise bike. The quad muscle above me is building up nicely.

I'm still swollen and wounded but things are looking up.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 22

Not much to report today except for my progress. I'm now bending at 115 degrees, doing the stairclimber and working on my stability. Hopefully, the latter will help ease my wobble.

I am now getting much more comfortable walking without any type of brace. The surrounding muscles would sometimes spazz or give out but they are obviously strengthening. Today, the whole morning at work was spent without my dear friend Don, DonJoy the knee brace.

Mireille's next goal is to have me bend more as she walks. Not as easy as it sounds...

Day 20

Back to work Monday!

Luckily, it was a bright and sunny day. That made it slightly more enjoyable. Mireille walked to work and I got a good warm-up to kick start things. Mireille brought a cane to help with going up and down stairs, and in case of any other unforeseen obstacle.

Who would've predicted everyone's curiosity with my appearance. I guess in hindsight it should be obvious. I wish I could have prepared myself but it was too late. I was shown along with the hairy leg and cat socks. There's no shame left.

Overall, the day went well. I was upset and swollen at the end of it but that's understandable. I'll get used to it.

Day 17

The reality of having to go back to work soon is starting to hit. I am now clothed in a custom ACL brace instead of a Zimmer splint. Let me tell you, it feels much better and lighter!

Mireille is making me walk around the block a lot now. Thank goodness for the nice weather outside. Walking is getting a lot easier but I'm still quite stiff.

Also, I'm being conditioned to sit in a chair for long periods of time. Gotta love that office job.

Here's what I'm looking like now.

Day 16

I was feeling quite bad yesterday. It hit me that I saw my surgeon for a follow-up appointment and I (ok, well Mireille...) completely forgot to thank him. Sheesh, the guy fixes me and Mireille doesn't even acknowledge it. How ungrateful!

For a good part of the day Mireille wondered what to do. Should she call his secretary and leave a message? "Oh, hi... Could you please let Dr. B know that I thank him for performing surgery on my knee?" That sounds kinda funny now, doesn't it?

Does she wait until her next appointment with him in four weeks? That seems like a long time. He'll have formed a bad impression by then...

Mireille left it at that but I suppose the powers that be were listening. Today, walking into physio, my surgeon was there! What a strange coincidence. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, she offered him a heart-felt THANK YOU.

It seems there is such a thing as synchronicity... intuition... tapping into the collective unconscious.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 15

Now that my wounds are exposed, Mireille has been drowning me in Aloe Vera and vitamin E. I'm subject to a morning, afternoon and evening ritual of cleaning and drops of goo everywhere there's an incision.

If I don't look good after all this, there's a problem.

There are about five little holes that will probably leave a barely visible mark. There is a longer cut that will definitely be obvious.

Oh well, I do kinda want some proof of what I've been through!

Day 14

Exactly two weeks have gone by since they fixed me and now I get to meet with my surgeon. This isn't really the first time post-op because he did check in with Mireille twice in the recovery room after surgery.

He was there as soon as I woke up and asked how I felt. Fantastic, I said. Don't get too excited, he reminded me... Just wait until it all wears off.

He dropped by a little later, just before I left the hospital. Everything had gone well, he assured me. He also gave me some of the best news I could have gotten. My three meniscus tears were clinically insignificant and he didn't have to do anything about them. All of the padding is still in my knee!

So, today I got to go to his office and see before and after pictures of my innards. I saw a shot of an empty knee joint, where an ACL used to be, and then a shot with what looked like a big chunk of steak shoved in.

I also saw cloudy areas over some of my bone structures, which represent damaged cartilage. That was all cleaned up. He also showed me what looked like a line on one of my bones. Arthritis. Just about to turn 30 and already I have arthritis!?

Finally, he looked at my wounds and I asked when I could take off the tape keeping everything shut. The time was now, apparently. He just ripped them all off and Mireille was horrified. Look at how well your skin heals, he told Mireille.

He was right. The scarring won't be so bad after all.

Day 13

Well, it feels great to no longer be that person at physio waiting for surgery while everyone else has it done and over with. No more "when are you scheduled for?" (um, I'm not...), "wow, what's taking so long?" (do you have to remind me...), and "when were you injured" (forever ago!). Now I'm the one showing off my scars and looking at other pre-ops with empathy. Don't worry, your turn will come soon...

I'm bending at 105 degrees now and maintaining full extension. That is right on track with where I should be.

Tomorrow, I meet with the surgeon for the first time post-op. I am very excited and I hope he will be satisfied with my progress.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 12

Fast forward to day 12.

I'm biking twice a day, doing high squats and toe raises (amongst a plethora of other things). I will have to get better at walking because I have about a week left before I go back to work.

Walking has been difficult these past couple of days because I have been providing more "feedback" to Mireille than ever. I was pudgy and stiff, and didn't have much to say at first. Now, I'm sleeker and a lot more mobile. I've been cracking and pinching, which understandly freaks out Mireille. As my physio would say, "don't sweat the small stuff".

Back to the word "feedback". Isn't that a clever way to say I've been causing immense amounts of pain? I'm not "causing sensations of unimaginable hurt", but rather "providing feedback to Mireille". Love it. I did not coin that but will definitely use it every opportunity I have.

Day 8

I'm finally demonstrating real progress.

I can now bend over 90 degrees, which means I can comfortably sit in a chair. The wall slides are coming easily and I haven't experienced any pain doing them just yet. I just feel a tightness that prevents me from going any further. Pre-op, Mireille used to hate doing these. Now, they're not so bad.

I can also bike now. Mireille has to prop up the seat real high but still. It took about 4 months after the injury to bike and only 8 days after surgery... Go figure.

So, my physio said I no longer need the CPM machine and can get rid of it. Yay!

However, yesterday Mireille felt compelled to watch the news -- a very rare occurence and totally unusual. The first story was about a fire in a retail building... a retail building that bears an uncanny resemblance to the place from which Mireille rented the CPM machine! Yes, folks. The CPM machine will have to stick around until the store becomes operational again.

Moral of the story: go with your gut. It's usually trying to tell you something.

Day 7

So here I am exactly one week after surgery. A little bruised and swollen but not so bad, I think. Just remember... I've been chopped up, drilled into and sanded down.

I am no longer being hidden under layers of bandages and I feel this fresh air is doing me good.

The first week after surgery, I was being taken care of by Mireille's better half. This week, mom and dad are spending their days here ensuring my total comfort. In other words, I'm being spoiled rotten. Hey, there has to be a good side to all of this.

Day 6

The dreaded day has arrived! First post-op physio appointment... Every pore on Mireille's body was sweating profusely and I was no exception. Who knew knees could sweat so much.

The physio greeted me with a big smile. I had been absent for almost two months now, working on my own to prepare for surgery. I had been coming to this clinic for nearly five months after the injury and it was starting to feel like a second family. I actually missed this place!

Well, he seemed in a good mood so I was thinking maybe I'd get off easy. Yeah, right. The first thing the physio said to Mireille was to take off the bandages. "Are you sure?" Mireille hesitated. He raised an eyebrow and started unravelling it for her.

Mireille's eyes were shut tight and she was gripping the table for dear life. "Take a look at your knee," he said. "It looks fantastic."

Heck, it really did. I looked more like an orange today. A not-so-scary Florida orange!

The first day of physio wasn't so bad after all.

Day 5

Day 5 was also relatively uneventful. Mireille has been working hard and diligently on straightening the leg, engaging the quad muscles and weight bearing. Still can't do a leg lift, though. I'm just feeling numb and puffy, and don't really care.

I'm absolutely dreading the first physio appointment tomorrow. Mireille's been so soft and gentle with me... the physio is surely going to knock some sense into her and to stop being so paranoid. I know I'm going to be bent and pushed to the limit. All this extra care I've been getting surely won't last much longer.

Oh, I hope I don't get exposed! The physio will probably want to see what I look like... How embarassing. Mireille still has nightmares about the way I looked just a couple of days ago...

Day 4

Not much to report at day 4. There are officially no more hard core medications running through Mireille's bloodstream. Woohoo!

Only a bit of Advil to prevent blood clots. The Advil needs to be taken for four weeks. This is annoying, especially for someone that rarely takes any type of pharmaceutical.

The bending continues to progress. I am now at 35 degrees on the (stupid) CPM machine.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 3

Well, I'm fat. Big time. I overheard Mireille say I was the size of a large grapefruit (with uncalled for terror in her voice, mind you). Did I need to hear that? Definitely not.

And it appears these wounds are kinda scary. Mireille glanced at me from the corner of her eye and was quick to replace the dressings. I've been gouged in something like seven different locations, which is much more than I was expecting.

Not much has changed today except the pain is still quite minimal. Barely any medications are required. Plus, Mireille is putting a surprising amount of weight on me while walking. Things are looking good.

Here I am with a good ol', reliable bag of ice.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 2

(Note: you will notice that the dates these blogs are posted do not match the actual dates the events occured. These entries were all pre-written the old-fashioned way in a diary. Remember those??)

The pain just disappeared today, as though a switch had gone off. As a result, Mireille's spirits were up and I got moved around a lot more. Poked and prodded at. She still didn't have the courage to undo the bandages and take a peek, though.

I was put on the CPM machine and could only bend a measly 20 degrees. I guess it's better than nothing. And, what a bore. Mireille lost patience with the machine after about an hour and a half. I was put through a set of exercises, instead. This was difficult because I (and the rest of the leg) felt like a ton of bricks.

Mireille also swore off the Cryo-cuff. For some reason, half of me wasn't feeling any of the cold. Back to good old ice packs every two hours and elevation to reduce the swelling. This was much more effective for me.

Here's a picture of me before removing the Cryo-cuff. Mireille has been watching a marathon of renovation shows and "nurse Simba" keeping a protective eye over me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 1

Suddenly, the throbbing and stabbing feelings appeared full-force. I jolted Mireille awake and she violently tore off the splint and loosened the layers of bandages. She also reached for a full dose of heavy narcotics.

The pain meds didn't really work all that well. Although, I'm sure it would have felt a lot worst without them. Background pain lasted until late evening. Nothing shooting and sharp; just an uncomfortable and tiring sensation.

So, I was supposed to be put on the CPM machine to help with range of motion and had a list of exercises to do. Ha! There was no way I was moving today. Mireille just slept and I took it easy.

(P.S.: A big thanks to my coworkers for the "get well soon" gift!)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Surgery Day

I was scheduled nice and early. Always good to get something out of the way first thing so there's less time to dwell on it.

I was stretched and exercised quite a bit in the waiting room. A mix of nerves and knowledge that I probably wouldn't be able to move this well for quite a while.

Lounged in front of the OR (wearing a ridiculous hat and hospital garb) Mireille pushed back the sheets and stared at me for a long time. Skinny and flawless. I wouldn't stay that way for long!

As the final preparations were being made in the OR, the surgeon and anesthetist chatted casually and finished their coffees just a few feet away. I couldn't help but overhear the conversation. The topic turned to skiing and my surgeon started explaining why he no longer enjoyed the sport... He has a knee problem. OMFG! I'm being operated on by someone with a bad knee. What does that mean?

I felt pretty good and surprisingly pain-free after the surgery. The nerve-block worked exceptionally well. This would last until 4:30am the next morning...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A bit of history...

August 6th, 2008 I was out on an Ultimate field and there it happened. My complex workings torn apart as I was forced to go from sprint to stop in a fraction of a second. I was not made to endure such an abrupt motion and, only a few months earlier, Mireille had been warned of this. Who would have thought that running after a piece of plastic could do such harm?

My ACL was completely torn, my meniscus damaged in three locations and my PCL was left only partially held together.

For 7 months, I was stretched, forced bent and prodded relentlessly by various people trying to "help" me get better as I awaited surgery. I went from massively swollen to pretty good looking. Stiff as a board to somewhat flexible. I walked, biked, stair-climbed, swam and mastered the elliptical machine. Heck, I even started doing weight-bearing exercises again.

I am in relatively good shape now but it's been a very long journey. To help me out, Mireille went from crutches, to cane, to major limp (aka Zombie walk) to quasi-normal gait. But no, it doesn't seem to be good enough...

In a couple of days, I will be professionally fixed and I will have the scars to prove it.

Here I am, before surgery.