Knee Surgery: One Year Later

Some images are slightly graphic, keep that in mind when scrolling.

Last year was a little weird for me, I had to teach myself how to walk again.

IMG_4711

When I dislocated my knee cap 5 years ago, I had no idea the ramifications of my injury. I was told multiple times that I had cartilage floating around in my knee after my accident, but it would be fine. Specialists said I needed to build up the muscles in my knee (yet in all honesty, that’s where most of my strength was). I had so many friends who had arthroscopic procedures and I figured that if I ever had surgery I could handle 3 small incisions. I saw friends bounce back, with lots of work. I knew I could do that, too.

I was absolutely unaware and unprepared for what I had in store. Here’s my story.

In 2008 I was dancing as much as I could. I joined a dance troupe, was wrapping up my time with the Toronto Argos Cheer Team, and choreographing for a University.

n48908540_41782633_1289-1

All of that was taken away one night. I was rushed to the hospital after collapsing on stage, my right kneecap had dislocated and had immediately tripled in size. I was on crutches, had a brace, and of course, was scheduled to go away to Ireland in a few weeks. While I took good care of myself, and got back to normal within a few months, my knee never felt stable. I sought out a personal trainer, a specialist, and did a lot of research on my own. No one said more than “build up the muscle around the knee”. But I knew something was wrong, so I went to the best of the best for answers.

Dr. John Cameron at Sunnybrook Orthopedic is incredible. After 2.5 years of waiting for an answer, he quickly diagnosed me with patella alta. Basically, both my kneecaps sit up too high and are unstable because of it. It would never have been discovered without an injury (I mean who really looks for high kneecaps), but in order for a stable knee, I needed surgery.

I was told I’d be placed on a waiting list, and I would be walking in 4 days post-surgery. No. Big. Deal. So I continued on.

Well, you have no idea how much your knees impact your daily life. And from the time I left the hospital that day, things seemed to get worse. My kneecap would slip while walking down the street. Which was not only painful, on a daily basis, but extremely scary. I remember playing Ultimate Frisbee one summer and running down field only to have my knee slip in and out 3 times during my sprint. I also went back to participate in an Argos alumni game and had my knee slip mid performance.  I counted down the days until I got the phone call.

On April 18th, 2013 I went in for surgery.

IMG_4692

Sunnybrook is a teaching hospital, so I was constantly surrounded by many students, in many areas of the hospital, learning about my procedure. Dr. Cameron is close to retirement, and I liked seeing him teach the next generation about something he specializes in. It was neat to be a part of that, until of course the Doctor (student) freezing my leg inserted a needle incorrectly into my thigh and I almost blacked out from pain. But that’s a story for another day.

I woke up with a gigantic (to me) incision.

IMG_4696

5 inches to be exact. Not what I had expected. My kneecap had been lowered, part of the padding carved out and removed, and screwed in with 2 screws. I was shocked. Thank God for my Mom, and best friends (I love you) for sitting at the hospital with me and being my voice when I didn’t have one.

My pain was inaccurately managed over the next few days. I love nurses, and think they’re fantastic and selfless beings (2 were all stars for me, I hugged them when I left). But not being on top of pain is difficult. It makes managing your pain extremely difficult once you leave the hospital, and for a week I struggled to be even remotely comfortable.

IMG_4694

4 days and I’ll be walking. Well I was, but not how I thought.

The morning after surgery I was up and moving with a physiotherapist. I thought I could run that morning! My leg was still frozen, and I whipped around the 6th floor, and the stairs, like I had nothing wrong. Little did I know that when the freezing wore off, I wouldn’t be able to lift my leg, never mind walk around.

IMG_4718

The first week I noted my progress with laps around the bottom floor of my Mom’s house. 1 in the morning, 1 in the evening. I slept for hours upon end. Week 2 saw more progress. I could walk for about 15 minutes straight if I really pushed myself. Week 3 I walked to Starbucks and back, I was overjoyed. Week 4 I felt like I could conquer the world!

Then my brace came off.

I was back to ground zero with complete muscle atrophy. I couldn’t even move my leg without assistance. The uphill battle started.

A year later, I’ve learned a lot of lessons, and I’m sure they can be applied in many situations.

Ask Questions

I didn’t ask enough questions. I was far too optimistic, and just nodded my head when everything was being explained to me. I didn’t question screws going into my body, I didn’t ask about the length of recovery time after I was up and walking. I asked nothing. Make sure you think about every possible outcome and research the heck out of your procedure.

Appreciate the Milestones

I posted a lot of milestones to Facebook over the last year. Some people probably groaned, others wished me well, and some privately told me that my progress felt like their progress. I have never been more thankful for social media, because it kept me appreciative, and kept me going.

Weight Comes and Goes

Gaining a lot of weight devastated me. My injury limited my ability to do a lot of exercise, and I wasn’t dancing 3-4 days a week anymore.  I truthfully have felt like I have been living in someone else’s body for the last 5 years. But I am working diligently on it, while listening to my body, and pushing only as much as I can. It’s an internal struggle, that quite often becomes an external one. I constantly remind myself that a year ago I couldn’t do more than a lap around my home, and am happy to report I am down 8 pounds, 2 dress sizes, and counting. I can smell a 5k, and I’ll most definitely ball my eyes out when I accomplish that goal.

Surgery is an Opportunity

My surgery gave me many limitations, but it also has given me the opportunity to change parts of my life. I have become so concerned with being a healthy gal that since having surgery, even without exercise, I have felt strong.  I fuel my body with clean foods, drink plenty of water, and walk as much as I can. I take care of my mind, and am slowly introducing exercise back in my life. Two screws in my knee means I can’t kneel, but it also means I have a secure knee to live my life.

No One Cares What You Look Like But You

I walked around with a cane for quite some time after surgery, and the only person who cared about it was me.

931286_10101312163720670_508265842_n

I made excuses all the time, feeling embarrassed for whoever I was with. And no one cared. In fact, I went on a lot of dates with it. One in particular was with a physiotherapist who took my cane away from me and corrected my walking. While we didn’t last, my walking did! Now my scar is my cane. I think it’s the only thing anyone is looking at, and I’m dreading the summer because of it. My own inner struggle, and I will get over it.

Have A Support System

My Mom was by my side the whole way. She did it all, from injury to today. I cried a lot, and she was always my shoulder. Then of course, my best friends. Casey even washed my hair in my sink one night when I couldn’t get into the shower.

IMG_4700

I live alone, I’m independent, and asking her to come over to scrub my head was a big ask for me. To which she laughed. Ask for help. I also relied on my physiotherapist, my lovely friend Andria who did acupuncture on my knee, Ashley who talked me down off a ledge when I was feeling the size of a whale, Gian who kept me inspired, Leslie who got me out of the house, and Rebecca who always made sure I was ok, even during her wedding (thanks for letting me rock flats and Pink Tartan). So many people to thank, and I am so glad I had each and every one of them.

Stay Positive

I’ve had a lot of setbacks. But I won’t let them stop me. I also won’t let anyone stand in my way, especially myself. I set small goals, and I stay with them until they’re accomplished. For example, sitting cross-legged. While I know it’s bad for you, I know I know, it was a major accomplishment to have the flexibility to do it. As Dory said, “keep on swimming.”

For the record, this is far from a pity post.

IMG_4811

Believe me I am well aware this is a 2 on the scale of surgeries. But it has made a significant impact in my life, one I deal with daily, so I thought I would share. As I celebrate my one-year anniversary, I’m heading to a yoga class, for the first time in over a year. I have a long way to go, but I am proud of my accomplishments.

IMG_9858

And my pesky scar, well that’s just building character.

What I’m Wearing: Spring Lipstick

IMG_9926

Spring has sprung! The city is alive again as everyone is coming out of hibernation and inhaling the fresh air. I know I personally have been so happy to see tulips again.

10004021_10101819490508720_2474543532854226475_n

While I love a good dark lip during the winter, my lipstick wardrobe is getting lighter, and I wanted to share a few of my favourite shades for the spring.

IMG_9934

MAC – Pink Petal Pop

IMG_9807

I love pink for spring, especially one that can be made bolder with a great lipliner. I personally like a bit more depth with this lipstick, so I have paired with a beautiful pink liner called Dynamo from MAC. It lasts without drying and is perfect with a light make-up look, with a lot of mascara!

MAC Pure Zen

10003378_10101816827675060_1066484160_n

I fell in love with this shade at a recent photo shoot. Ideal for spring, and a fresh face, it has a golden undertone that warms the skin. It’s also one of their creamsheen finishes, which means the pigment lasts, and doesn’t dry your lips out in the process! This colour can be found in my “your lips but better” portion of my lipstick collection. I love it!

Revlon – Rich Girl Red

What I love about this lipstick is how hydrating it is! No chapstick underneath required. After being gifted this shade at an event, it quickly became a favourite paired with a red liner, but for spring I’d leave as is. The red gives your lips a cherry gloss kind of look with the lasting effects of a lipstick.

Stila – Gabrielle

10256334_10101829271801930_7876764409490876317_n

I picked up this shade when I realized I forgot to put a lipstick in my purse one night, oops. A part of the Color Balm collection, this is worth every single penny I paid for it. The nude pink colour is another “your lips but better”. Plus, it has a peppermint tingle when applying it from an infused peppermint oil. I adore it, and the pigment is gorgeous and lasts for hours.

Lime Crime – Retrofuturist

IMG_9561

I’ve always been a bit of a MAC snob, and I’m so happy to have branched out from the brand. Lime Crime was sent to me to test drive, and I have enjoyed the highly pigmented shade. Retrofuturist is a beautiful red with pink tones that gives a twist on your traditional ruby red pout. With great staying power, and hydration, this will keep your pout pretty all spring night long. Plus, you can purchase online at obsessedcanada.com with quick delivery!

Basically it’s all about hydration for spring! What’s your favourite shade for April Showers and May Flowers?

MUAH!

*I was gifted 2 out of 5 shades, as mentioned. I have shared because I adore them, and I hope you do too.

 

 

 

Writing In Progress: Petroland

This is an excerpt from a larger body of writing I am working on. It is pure fiction, and any resemblance to a real place or person is only a coincidence.

“What the hell are we doing?”

Lee and I had rented a car for the weekend and I, the navigator, had folded maps spread across the dashboard in our attempt to have a ‘true road trip experience.’

“We’re roughing it, that’s what we’re doing.”

We were wearing Prada sunglasses with Starbucks in the drink console, if this was roughing it I was married to Ryan Gosling.

When Lee strong-armed me into leaving the city for a weekend adventure I was only a tiny bit excited. I understood the need to get away and leave our cell phones at home. After another round of disappointing first dates, I needed a break, badly.

Lee had recently walked into my condo with me laying on my kitchen floor eating mint chocolate chip ice cream from the container. And I was lactose intolerant. And I had sticky hands. She needed to make a move quickly. A few clicks on the computer and we had rented our car, cottage, and booked fishing supplies at a local marina. KILL ME NOW.

“Can we put something else on besides your self-help audio book.”

“Jeeze, you’re a grouch.” – uh, duh.

I manually rolled my window down, we were on a budget, and felt the warm breeze on my face. Maybe I needed to give this weekend a shot. A real shot. Lee was trying her best with me, and frankly I don’t even think my own family would tolerate me the way she had lately.

I missed John, or the idea of John. I wasn’t entirely sure yet. In my head I had built up this magical ever-after with him that involved belonging to a golf & country club, as well as vacationing to our summer home. I would change my last name when we were married, it would be perfect, maybe taking place at a yacht club. We would be yachters. I was insane.

“Pull into that gas station. I need to stretch my legs and get a few directions.”

“Ok, make it quick, and I’ll find some S Club 7, maybe that will cheer you up.”

I smiled extra hard through the window as I shut the door.

“It will!”

As I opened the door of the tiny Petroland gas station, the bell chimed and I instantly smelled the odor of old magazines. A few shelves with the necessary travel essentials, as well as an ice machine, this place was unlike anything I’d seen before. I had read about places like this in small town novels, that’s it.

“Hello? Anyone here?”

“Ya, sorry, one sec.”

I heard a really deep voice come from behind the counter.

“Hey, sorry, what can I do for you?”

A lot. You can do a lot. A very tanned man in his mid 20’s appeared. He had sandy blonde hair that looked like it had been through a bit of a windstorm. His eyes were kind, and sparkled with the sun peeking through the window.

“Umm, uh, directions.”

He laughed. Great. I walked over to the counter and placed my map down indicating where I needed to go with the big red circle I had drawn earlier.

“That’s not too far from here, actually. I am headed there tonight for a party. It’s just on the lake off a dirt road. Let me write down a few directions for you.”

A party you say… I wonder how Lee would feel about a party?

“You should stop by. Here’s the address, it’s a few houses down.”

“Ya, absolutely, thanks.”

“Your friend looks like she’s going to fall out of the window…”

Lee was staring, hard. Clearly trying to get a better look at my new friend, she really was about to fall out of the window.

“Yes, yes she does. Well I will see you later…?”

“Luke. Luke Samuels.”

See ya later, Mr. Samuels.

large

Writing in Progress: First Date

This is an excerpt from a larger body of writing I am working on. It is pure fiction, and any resemblance to a real place or person is only a coincidence.

First date…. Ugh.

The torture that is the first date seems almost medieval. In fact, I would rather be beheaded than have to sit across from a stranger answering the infamous, “where do you see yourself in 5 years,” question while swirling my wine.

Right here, hating life. That’s where I see myself.

It was a beautiful fall evening, the sun still out before we ventured into the darkness by 4:00 PM season. The weather had started turning chillier so I had bundled myself up in my vintage leather jacket, skinny jeans, and ankle boots. My hair was long and loose with simple make-up that screamed I wasn’t trying. And I wasn’t.

Walking towards the restaurant we were meeting at I had to trick myself into continuing on my route. How awful would it be if I canceled 5 minutes prior to a date? My girlfriends were all across town drinking wine and I would much rather be gossiping about men then being on a date with one. Precisely the reason why I’m single.

In all honesty, I just wasn’t ready.

It had only been a few weeks since John and I had broken up. Call it too good to be true, or him in someone else’s bed, it simply wasn’t meant to be. We had ended our romance via the most romantic communications method ever – my doorman. Bless my girlfriends who wanted me to get right back on that saddle, but I wasn’t ready, and I could feel the nervous energy pulsating through my veins.

My date was a financial planner who Lee had raved about. He was tall, dark, and handsome, a perfect gentleman who had also just got out of a relationship.  The window of opportunity was right in front of me; apparently all I had to do was climb through it. I was hoping we could commiserate together over our loves lost.

As I approached the door I peered in the window to see a very charming gentleman perched up at the bar. There was also a man who looked oddly like a turtle.

Wish me luck.

large

Writing in Progress: I Love You More

large

This is an excerpt from a larger body of writing I am working on. It is pure fiction, and any resemblance to a real place or person is only a coincidence.

The rays of sunshine peaked in through the shutters and washed both of our skin in its beautiful glow. I was so happy.

After weeks of tossing and turning at night, reaching out to the other side of my bed, wondering if he’d return and we’d still be us, he was here, the same as always.

Staring at his closed eyelids willing them to open, they finally flickered a good morning. He reached over to tuck a stray strand of hair behind my ear before I turned my cheek to bury my smile in my pillow.

“Hello, you.”

“Good morning… I was wondering when you’d wake up. I am dying for breakfast.”

He gently pulled me closer, our faces almost touching. Cupping my exposed cheek in his hand he whispered.

“I love you more than the cold side of the pillow.”

And I melted.

I loved him, too. Frankly I loved him a little too much. In past relationships I had always been the one to hold the cards. I decided when we leapt from stage to stage in a relationship. I had always been in control, almost puppetering my own eventual demise. But he was different. He had been in control from the first day I had met him. Always happy to be in his shadow, I wondered if I would keep up and last in his world. I was happy to be with him, and I just hoped he would be as happy to be with me.

Cold side of the pillow, well isn’t that a bold statement.

“What romantic state have you woken up from?”

“Don’t question my advances! Get over here.”

In one swift movement I was right on top of him, nose to nose.

“I love you, too. Now let’s eat!”

“One more minute…”

Rising up and down with his heartbeat, I knew this was exactly where I wanted to be for always, I just hoped he let me.

1 2 3 55