Thursday, May 29, 2008

A New Normal

Since I have passed the one year mark, I have been pushing my knee. Next week, I might try karate without a brace. I am trying to come to terms with my knee and my recovery in an attempt to "Let it Go".

Bob, an ACL recovery inspiration, has recently posted that he thinks knee may never be the same. I am going to make a similar statement. I need to take a deep breath before I type it.



My knee will never be the same.

Ok, I said it. Now comes the hard part, accepting that my knee will never be the same.

My knee feels good (some days great) but it is not the same. How can it possibly be the same? There is a bolt-like contraption attaching my new ACL to the bone. I remember seeing the doctor on my first post-op visit. They took an X-ray so he could admire his work. I did not want to look at the X-ray with a bolt through my bone. I kept thinking that he drilled through my bone to make room for the bolt. I took a peek at the X-ray and I could not believe that it was my knee up there on the screen.

I feel stronger than I did before on so many levels. I have joined a gym and have improved the stamina I lost due to the injury. I have started to lift weights regularly and am stronger. I am proud of the way I approached the surgery and rehabilitation. During my ACL recovery, I spent time examining kata and bunkai. I have become more relaxed in my karate. We were practicing individual forms and I asked my husband to analyze my kata. I was concerned about how my knee affected my movement and if it was noticeable. We discussed the parts of the form where my knee caused me trouble. Then he made another comment, he said my kata looked “effortless”. I must have looked at him in surprise because he explained that he was talking about my mental presence and confidence during the kata.

A few nights ago, a group of us was talking after class. We were sitting along the back of the dojo in a row of chairs. The conversation inevitably turned to knee stories and scar comparisons. Between us, there were several surgeries, multiple MRI’s, three knee braces, X-rays, cortisone injections, and nutritional supplements. We could not figure out whose knee made the worst noise. What a sight we must have looked!

My knee may never be the same again but I believe it will serve me well. My knee has reached its new normal. I am now in the process of accepting it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Road Trip Spiderman Spud

My daughter and I went on a road trip this Memorial Day Weekend. We went to Seven Springs Mountain Resort with my sister and her husband. Although this is a ski resort, it offers a lot to summertime guests. There is a fantastic indoor pool, arcades, bowling, crafts, paddleboats, hiking, biking and an Alpine Slide. We had several good runs on the Alpine Slide. The Slide is 325 feet long and includes and S-turn and a small drop. My daughter zooms down the mountain. It takes 12 minutes to ride to the top and less than 2 minutes to slide to the bottom. She told me that when she sees the signs that warn the riders to slow down… she accelerates. I asked her to slow down a little because we saw one rider tumble off the concrete track while going around a curve.

What is a road trip without a theme song? It just so happened that my sister had the Spiderman theme song from the 1967 animated series in her car. When I was little Spiderman was my favorite superhero. My Dad took me to the local department store to see Spiderman when I was five. This was a big deal in 1972. Somehow, during the course of our four-hour drive, my daughter found the song and proceeded to play it at least 30 times. I think we know ALL the lyrics to the Spiderman theme song.

On Monday, we arrived home just in time for a picnic at my parent’s house. She must have been cooking for two days because there was so much food. After we ate, we had time for three rounds of Spud. Our house rules include a dare for the first one to get SPUD. Unfortunately, I lost the third round and had to perform a dare. I had to sing, “I’m a Little Teapot” with accompanying gestures and loud enough for the neighborhood to hear.

Overall, a great (knee brace-free) weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A New Obi

I have an embroidered Shureido black belt. I received this obi when I tested for black belt in 1996. After class on Monday, I took off my belt and looked at it. It is worn …but not worn out. In my humble biased opinion, it is perfect. As I was commiserating to another black belt, he said “You should start wearing your other belt”. I said “What other belt? This is the only one that I have.” You see, I should have bought another belt a few years ago. Our belt requirements for Renshi are to add one gold stripe to the belt or buy a new belt with the stripe. My confession is that I have done neither. Please know that I do not mean to be disrespectful by not following the recommended uniform suggestions of the Federation. My instructor knows that I still wear my original stripe-free obi.

It took me twelve years of belt wearing to get my obi to the condition it is today. I thought that I would only ever need one belt. I know I am just complaining, but a new belt is so stiff. I remember when I first got my black belt. I was working on kata Chinto and during the jump kick; my belt flew up and the corner almost poked my eye out. Ok, I am exaggerating but it did hit me in the eye. My belt is long and was sized by my instructor with the statement that “You will grow into it”. I hope that I have grown into my belt figuratively not literally.

I do not want my obi to wear out any further. I think it is time to order my Renshi belt so that in another twelve years it will be perfect.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Date For Me To Remember

It is one year since my ACL reconstruction. As I look back at this year of rehabilitation and recovery, I can only be grateful. I am thankful that my knee is strong and stable. I am thankful that I am teaching and training. I am grateful to my friends and family for their support. I appreciate the words of encouragement from fellow ACL bloggers.

It has been a long road but well worth it. When I set out on the ACL journey, I knew that I wanted to be a success story. I tried to approach surgery and recovery with a positive outlook. There have been low moments but I was able to navigate through the rough spots. The year mark has been a major goal for me. I know that exercising to keep my knee healthy and strong will be a part of my everyday life.

We will be sparring in class tonight to celebrate!

For all those on an ACL recovery journey, I wish you good luck and a speedy recovery.

Monday, May 12, 2008

It Was Not Meant To Be

My two-day camping adventure ended up to be six hours. At 10:00 on Friday night, I called my husband to tell him we were on our way home. The reason was simple … my daughter got sick. It rained all day on Friday and it was cold and damp. I could tell she was starting to feel sick around 8:00 on Friday. She was lying around while the other girls were working on crafts or playing. She started coughing and felt warm to me. I made the decision to leave and by the time we got home, her temperature was 101 degrees. She has asthma so I am extra cautious. She did not go to school today and she has an appointment to see her doctor tonight.

The Girl Scouts are a fantastic organization and the individuals who were involved in this outing were great. However, I must admit, I did not like camping in a group at all. I am not giving up on camping but I think this will be my final attempt at camping with a group. I want to go tent camping again with my brother and sister. We went once before and had a great time. To this day, my daughter rates the omelet my brother made during our camping trip the best one she has ever eaten.

I stopped by my parent’s house early Saturday morning to tell them the tale. After hearing about my camping adventures, my dad looked at me and said, “Well, two out of three is not bad”. I knew exactly what he meant. He was referring to his two outdoorsy children as compared to his karate daughter. I said, “Wait a minute, I did not say that I did not like camping or the outdoors. I just did not like camping with a group.” I am not afraid of the woods, campfires, snakes, or bugs. I think it was the arts and crafts and the singing that did me in.

It just was not meant to be.

A special thank you to my brother for lending me camping gear and giving me a waterproof jacket.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Going Camping

I just received notification that I am an official Girl Scout. In order to go camping this weekend with my daughter, I had to become a Girl Scout. I had several registration forms to fill out, a criminal background check and reference checks. When I was in elementary school, my Girl Scout experience lasted one day. They made me wear a doily on my head during a skit and at that moment, I knew it was not for me. I went to one meeting and never went back.

So, thirty years later, I am heading to my first Girl Scout camp. I have no idea what to expect from this experience. Out of my entire family, I am the least outdoorsy. I am the middle child so maybe the camping gene skipped me. My brother (Eagle Scout, Scout Master Etc.) spends his vacation deep in the Montana woods fly-fishing. My sister spends hers hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim. My father used to take us camping when we were little. We would spend weekend afternoons at the local state park, nature conservatory or walking part of the Appalachian Trail.

I hope my second experience at being a Girl Scout is better than my first one!