Friday, November 18, 2011

This time I didn't vomit

So, I didn't make it to the 2nd spin class that week, but I did go Thursday this week.   This week's ride was much better. First, as the subject tells you, I didn't vomit, which I considered victory number one! From the first round, I knew my limits, so I took it easy on myself this time. I also didn't eat anything before going to the class. I figured it was best to show up starving then to ralph everywhere after. I had worked out on the elliptical Monday and Wednesday, so my legs were already sore; not too far into pedaling my legs were ready to give out. I knew though that once you get over "the wall" and your muscles loosen up, it becomes easier, and that's what happened!

I played around with my seat a lot this time too, with the help of Molly (instructor). Here's what the bike looks like:

And it definitely is a monster. Getting the height and position of the seat right is super important. About 20 minutes in, my right hip started hurting. Molly came over to help arrange the seat and that helped a lot. I'll have to remember the markers for the seat. The seat; that dirty, evil, butt-killer. Soreness abounds. I asked about if getting a seat cover or padded shorts would help, but Molly said basically "grin and bear it." Apparently, you just have to keep at it, and then it gets better (remind me to make an "It Gets Better" vid for dead-butt).

These past two weeks, I've been working out a lot. Clothes are falling off of me. I'm really watching what I eat these days (though, I had a tiny sliver of cake at the office party today, but just one. And it was tiny. Moderation). Despite soreness, I feel better than I have in a long while.  I'll be back to spinning for next class on Tuesday (none on Turkey Day) and in the in- betweens, I'll use the elliptical. I have fitness and weight loss goals, but I also want to keep my hips in good shape; keep the fixed on strong and prevent surgery on the other.

So far, so good.

xo MK

Monday, November 14, 2011


I wish I were talking about spinning wool into thread because really, that would be an awesome skill to know, and would likely not cause me to vomit upon completion.

Yup. I did that.

One of the perks of working at UNE is that I get to use the fitness center for free (suck it, USM) and that includes classes! I'd done spinning before, way back in high-school/ early college days and remembered it being a hell of a work out. Since I'm trying to get in shape to look good in a wedding dress (yikesbikes) I thought I'd take the spin class Tuesday night at UNE. I laced up my sneaks, brought a towel and waited in the lobby with the other members. To my surprise and delight, the class was very very small. There was at least one other employee there, and she's my age, and a few really nice students. The instructor Molly, is a very nice adjunct faculty member at the University. They all immediately made me feel welcomed.

I don't know how many of ya'll have taken a spin class, but boy howdy (I'm not sure where this southern drawl is coming from) is it a work-out. I knew going into it that it would be intense, but wow. My heart was beating out of my chest earlier in the work-out than I'd care to admit. Molly had turned the lights down and the music up, and the vibe was all good. It didn't feel like people were judging me. What's nice about spin is that you control the resistance, so no one can really see where you're at. You can go at your own pace. I didn't want to skimp out; I knew I needed to ease in, but I did want to get something out of it, so I pedaled my ass off (more on my ass later) and broke a sweat.

About 10 minutes from the imaginary finish line, I had heart-burn that was out of control and I was a bit light-headed. I wolfed down an apple before class because I was STARVING which proved to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. Molly got off her bike and came over to me (oh the embarrassment) and came to check if I was okay. I slowed down my pedaling and took some deep breaths. I finished out slow and easy, but I finished!

My legs were jelly, but my hips and back didn't hurt (great success) but during the cool down stretch my body was like "Yo what the hell did you just do? You're not in good enough shape for this," and I got that sweaty, mouth-watery, dizzy, stomach turn-y vomit feeling. Molly could tell, asked me if I need the bathroom and I grunted and pointed at the trashcan. Yes. Right there in front of everyone. I ralphed in the trashcan. It kind of made me feel like a champion. Or a lame-ass. Or a combination of both. People were sweet about it, not hanging around, saying "Its fine, no worries" when I bemoaned my embarrassment. Someone even put my bike away for me. A sweet student named Kaitlyn walked me to my car, she wanted to be sure I wasn't going to pass out. Faith in humanity= still alive!

Truthfully, I felt much better after barfing, and I vow never to eat ANYTHING before the gym again. In the days that followed, still no hip or back pain, legs felt good, but Lord Almighty, my ASS. I felt like my butt was going to fall off. Sitting down for any period of time hurt. If I could have gotten a good look at my own undercarriage, I am certain it would have been black and blue and purple. I have an admittedly bony ass and I've always known it. If I had forgotten, that class reminded me. Cyclists/spinners- how do you deal with that?!

Call me crazy, I'm going back tomorrow. I would have gone Thursday last week, but I needed to eat dinner and leave for Bates for a concert and I didn't want to be exhausted and sore. I'm nervous, but also I can't wait. In my head, I imagined them in class Thursday night saying "wow I'm totally not surprised that Maria girl isn't here. Poor thing. We'll never see her again." I can't wait to prove them wrong.



Friday, August 26, 2011

I would walk 500 miles

...or just 2, if we are being serious. At my new job here at UNE (been here four months as of yesterday) employee wellness is like Ron Burgundy- "kind of a big deal." Human Resources held its 2nd annual (if its such a big deal, why were there only 2 of these? hmm) Fun Run/Walk, where employees could wear obnoxiously colored t-shirts and run or walk 1 or 2 miles. Offices were encouraged to close for the morning hours and have all people participate. Walking for a good cause, and being out of the office for a few hours? Sign. Me. Up. Given the state of my joints, running the course was out of the question, so I signed up to walk, determined to do the 2 miles.

Don't tell my PT Chris, but since I have graduated his program, I haven't been keeping up as much with my home exercises. I'm not making any excuses, I know its laziness. I'd rather come home and have a drink and dinner and unwind from my day. I get some kind of work out in at least once a week. And Ethan and I have been active all summer- I'll do better this winter when I am cooped up indoors. Because of all this, I was scared about the walk; I didn't want to wuss out after the 1st mile. My other worry was that I'd do the 2 and not be able to walk the next day.

Get this, babies: I DID IT and lived to tell the tale(I also got two free shirts and a water bottle out of the deal. Yay for UNE swag!). I was only mildly sore Thursday (the day after) and a bit stiff, but I didn't get the 2 day ache that comes two days after a work out. I am a champion walker; I can't run and therefore have perfected the art of walking. Do they have walking races? Some kind of speed-walking race or distance walking? The longest walk I think I ever did in one swoop was 3 or 4 miles with a friend, in flip-flops, at night. Oops. I was definitely sore the next day, but I made it. I need to take up Olympic walking.

I thought for sure my right hip would feel the burn, but as it was, the next day, it was no more sore than expected. Maybe I can put off cortisone or surgery longer than I thought. This seems like victory. I have two weeks off for Christmas this year, and I won't be on crutches like last year. I plan to sleep and bake and shop and build snow forts.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Planking, But Not in That Cool Way

I'm sometimes very much out of the loop with things. When I first heard the term "planking" the first thing I thought of were the planks I do in PT. This just goes to show you that I spend way too much time at Ortho Assoc. doing PT. For those of you who have no clue what I am talking about, allow me to give you visual representation of the "trendy" planking:

This is apparently some new wacky game people are doing that involves lying totally flat/straight face down and balancing on things. If I tried this version, I would surely fall down. As Chris, my adorable and devoted PT will tell you, my balance is atrocious. I commend those who are able to "plank" and balance. I will never know the feeling.

The planking I do weekly at PT is I think, harder. It involves a lot of muscle groups (most of which I don't use), an element of balance and strength and a lot of forehead sweat (in my case). This is what it looks like:

Now, obviously, I am not a man, or a runner, or strong or have abs like that. But this is the form of it. This dude is killing it and making it look super easy, but let me tell you, this is the HARDEST exercise I have to do at PT. When I first started doing these, Chris had me hold for 10 seconds. Agony. Now, about 4 weeks later, I can hold for 30 seconds. Sometimes I do a modified version (like the "girl" push-ups) where my knees are down, my lower legs are up and my butt is higher in the air. I have to do this sometimes when the pressure in my hips is too much.

So while the dude in the first photo looks like he's having a super fun time, the guy in the second photo is getting a lot more out of it. Personally, I'd choose the guy with the amazing abs and goofy sneakers, but..I have a thing for abs.

**Note, when I Googled "Planking" in images, the first images were of wooden boats. The act of forming wooden planks into boats/boat supports is also called planking.** Less cool, unless you are a boat-enthusiast.

That, boys and girls, is your planking lesson for today.

I'm down from twice a week to once a week. My right hip had been feeling pretty good for the most part. We've been doing a lot of core work and back work, as my back is another problem area. I basically get a mini massage every week at PT, which is less of a massage and more of Chris driving his thumbs or elbows into my problem spots. Its one of those "hurts so good" kind of feelings, though, one time, he did make me cry. I tried to make sure he didn't notice, but he did and then felt wicked bad. He said what I need is deep tissue work. "I could do about 3 hours worth of work on you each time and get you feeling pretty great." YES PLEASE! How much would that set a girl back?

So I am researching inexpensive massage therapists for once PT ends. And in the mean time, I am going to have to keep planking on my own and working out. Its hard in the heat, but thank God for the person who invented air conditioning. The AC is right next to my elliptical, praise Jesus.

Hope you are all having a delightful summer, and feel free to try planking, planking, or planking if you are looking for a summer laugh, exercise, or new hobby!



Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hips, part deux

Greetings, followers. Since that last MRI where I had a bit of trouble, many things have happened.
Dr. Findlay took a look at the MRI results and said that structurally, everything is more or less good (nothing scary is wrong with my spine). The scoliosis I always knew was there is there, plus the early arthritis. He really seemed to think that, in conjunction with my hypersensitivity issue (to be explained in detail later) are the cause of my symptoms. He suggested talking with my PCP and perhaps physical therapy.

Shortly after that, I met with Ali again for a follow-up. The left hip is doing great! Hardly any pain, even on the elliptical and my scars are nearly gone! :) the right hip, however, is another issue. Now that the left is in tip-top shape, the right needs care. Ali explained that we ought to start at the bottom again, and put off surgery for as long as possible. I am totally ok with that. I am happy with the end result of surgery but the process sucked. At least this time, I will know that they need to double or triple the dose of the stuff they give you to prevent nausea.

Starting at the bottom means preventative PT, then the next track would be cortisone (or something like it) then surgery. Oh, and still no running or high-impact exercise. At least this time, I know what to expect. Ali wrote me prescriptions to start PT again, and that day we went over to set me back up. I told Chris I was coming back and he was glad to see me again, but realized it was bummer that I HAD to come back.

Last night I had the first new appointment. Mike, one of the other PTs there saw me and was like..what are you doing here? Its nice going somewhere where I know the people well. They all take such good care of me. Chris did the evaluation, spent a lot of time working on my back, which BTW is all screwed up. He couldn't believe how knotted and tight my back was. There are ligaments he thinks may be out of whack too. Oh boy! Then we moved on to the hip. He was pulling and pressing and poking and I was in so much pain. My right hip-flexor is actually WORSE OFF than my left was pre-surgery. WTF mate!? Its very tender and tight and the impingement may be worse too. I was hurting pretty badly when I left there last night. Chris said that the tension in my back muscles is largely a contributing factor. But damn, I am so sick of feeling like an old person. Doesn't help that I sit on duff all day.

In other news, Ethan and I are moving. Still in Portland, just off the West End. We will be living behind Tony's Donuts. I'll be within walking distance of OA. Chris told me I need to bring in donuts from time to time if I am that close. :) We hired movers to do all the heavy lifting, because we both have terrible spines/joints and it will go much faster. In my opinion , its totally worth it.

I've been taking a break from the elliptical because I have been a) busy with packing and b) pretty sore lately, but everyone still says I look skinny, so that's good!

Until next time!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hard time

So, how did the MRI on Thursday go, you're wondering? It started out ok, but towards the end, I had a bit of a panic. It felt like there was something digging into the back of my head the whole time, which apparently I could do nothing about because I am not supposed to move. Last time I made it through pretty well, but this time my heart was racing and I knew I needed to get out. I think there was only about 15 minutes, but I hit the panic button. The attendant "buzzed" in and I told her I had to get out. Maybe I should go see a hypnotist re: claustrophobia? Or just never have another MRI.

Follow-up again on the 15th. Then we'll get to see what's going on.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Claustrophobia part 2

On Monday, I had the follow up to the MRI. Have any of you looked at the MRI results? Its just a bunch of white splotches on a black background. He shows me the screen and tells me things and I smile and nod because I don't see any of what he is talking about, really. The scoliosis that has been there since I was a kid is still there (duh). Dr. Findlay said he saw some minor swelling in the lumbar spine and could see signs of early arthritis. I was not surprised by this; "Old Arthur" (as my dad calls Arthritis) runs in the family. Findlay made a dejected sort of face when he told me this: "you're too young", he said. I just shrugged; its there, not a lot I can do about it. The next plan of action is, you guessed it, another MRI. WOOHOO. This time it will be on the cervical spine; to rule out some other scary things. He didn't see anything glaringly wrong with the lumbar spine besides the scoli, so now its time to rule out anything in the cervical spine.

I hate it when the doctor tells you he can't see anything wrong. Just the day before the appointment, my whole lower body hurt so much. I'm still getting that "dead-leg" pain and numbness, which I had always attributed to my hip. Its something to do with my back, the doc said. Chris, my PT told me as much too. Its just a matter of finding what the cause is. But of course, Monday at the appointment I felt fine, so it was harder to describe the pain. Like bringing the car to the mechanic because its making a funny noise, and the noise stops when you get there. He definitely believed there was something wrong and he's seen patients like me, with the scoli and the hyper-mobility issues. Its just frustrating to not be able to pin-point things.

Monday I also had my last PT session (for my hip anyway) with Chris. It was a little sad- we always have fun ragging on each other, and despite the hard work, I always leave there in a god mood and feeling physically good. I wish I could hire him to just drive his elbow into my glutes/hips every day. Man that feels good. I got a little spoiled because it was my last visit. He and Dr. Findlay seem to think some "core" PT will help with my spine issues, so I may be back there again at some point. Chris made me promise I'd request him, which of course I will. I may have to reserve a table in there at this point. Haha

Yesterday my hip hurt again- go figure! I "graduate" from PT and then two days later my hip aches again. It felt like if I moved my left hip too far outward, my leg would fall off. I was feeling some scraping of bone again; I must have done something to it in my sleep. I'm still healing, I have to remember that.

So tonight, I climb back into:

and try not to hyperventilate. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nothing says good morning like...

waking up at the ass-crack of dawn to have an MRI. That was the story for me last Friday. Coming off a St. Patty's Day buzz, I stumbled out of bed at 7:00, threw on some sweats and made my way to the OA center. There was no need to shower or beautify because I wasn't doing anything but lay down in a tiny tube for 40 minutes and panic. Oh joy.

I get there, and the whole place is more or less dark. I was there before most of the staff. Its 7:15 and all I want to do is go back to sleep, but I have a knot the size of Mt. Washington in my belly. I'm already feeling the anxiety of my claustrophobia and I'm only in the waiting room. The sweet lady at the front said "ok I can take you out back now." We walk through that maze of a building and land in another waiting room. She was shocked to see on my file that my insurance was going to cover the procedure 100%. "Where do you work and are there openings?" she asks. We talked for a bit about jobs and the economy, my hip surgery and books (I had brought The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) to read while waiting. Then she has me look through a book of possible music choices. I know from my first MRI back in August that it doesn't matter what I listen to, I will barely hear it anyway. I choose John Mayer's Heavier Things because I dig it and its kind of mellow. Then I wait an excruciating 20 minutes. The intake nurse comes out and said they are running behind because the girl in there now is highly claustrophobic and keeps freaking out and having to get out of the machine. Yikes bikes.

I try to breathe deep and get more lost in my book. I was supposed to go in at 7:45 and its 8:15. I just want to get it over with. I also try to remember that I took half a Xanax so I wouldn't have a panic attack. The last thing I want is to be like the girl before me and have to extend the miserable process even longer. Finally, I get to go in and in a moment of panic, I realize I forgot to take my bra off. Obvs, no metal can go into a giant magnet machine, and my bra had an under wire. I thought I was all prepared, wearing sweats with no metal or zippers, but I forgot about my boob-hammock. I run back to the bathroom/locker room and take it off, breathing a sigh of relief that I didn't have some scary House moment where the machine broke or something scary happened.

When I get into the room, the technician started the music and told me it would be only 25 minutes- which made me breathe a bit easier. I laid down on the table, she put the headphones on me, gave me the panic button and sent me in. The sultry sounds of John Mayer eased my mind a bit, but all the loud buzzing and banging gave me a headache. I made the mistake of opening my eyes, only to see that my nose is only a tenth of an inch from the plastic and I immediately shut them tight. I feel like there's no way out. The technicians voice comes through the headphones informing me I am "doing great" and that I am "halfway done." I could have sworn I'd been in there half a DAY already. Blerg.

Its all over after 25 minutes of loud noises. I grab Ethan at the office so he can have the car. I go home change and decide to wear my favorite flats because the sun is out and I want to boost my mood. Ethan drops me off, I step out onto what looked like dry grass and hear a disgusting squish noise. This tells me that I have stepped in mud. My foot was fully covered. As I squish my way into the building I detour to the bathroom, cursing my bad morning. I wash my foot and proceed to my office. The day did get gradually better, but an early morning MRI and then stepping in mud in my favorite shoes (the shoes are fine- they stood up well and cleaned up easy!) was not how I wanted my Friday morning to begin.

Now its a waiting game to see what the magic magnet reveals about my spine. April 4th is the follow-up with the doctor, unless they find anything "that needs immediate attention." Oh joy.

I'll be sure to keep you posted.



Wednesday, March 16, 2011


About 2 weeks ago, I got clearance from PT Chris to get on the elliptical Ethan and I have at home. I've been leery about doing so, since I'm having this new back issue. However, Monday night I decided that I was going to try it out. My Lent discipline this year is to cut out sweets, so getting more exercise is an added bonus of fitness. I did 20 minutes on the variable intensity workout. I was able to keep up, and didn't feel any hip pain! I had forgotten how good it felt to do an awesome cardio workout. Physical therapy has really been all strength training, so I've been missing the cardio element. I also got on last night and did 15 minutes at high intensity. My muscles are a bit sore today, but only in the manner I'd expect them to be after not having really worked out in a few months. It feels amazing to get back into working out. Yesterday was really stressful, and the intense workout made me feel better!

The need to report this as part of the hip story is that I had to stop working out pre- surgery for the pain (I also met Ethan and got swept away by love etc etc lol) and I've always had pain after working out. Now that's no more, so it feels worth sharing!

Bikini 2011- here I come! :)


Monday, March 14, 2011

A back story?

I know its been a while since I updated. There hasn't, in truth, been too much to report. PT is going well. I am down to once a week through March, then every couple of weeks as needed. Exercises are to be done on my own. I feel a lot stronger; I can even feel my ab muscles being more defined, which is an awesome bonus.

The left hip being fixed has shifted my focus to my right hip, which like the left prior to surgery, has its good days and bad days. I follow up with Alli in May and we'll see where things stand. An interesting new thing, is happening however. I've been having increased back pain, as well as numbness/tingling in my feet at PT. I am still also having the "dead-leg" pain and numbness in both legs periodically (something I had attributed to the hip problem). My hands and arms also go numb during some PT sessions. Chris mentioned this to Alli one night when she was passing through on her way out of the office We chatted and decided I should see the spine specialist. Chris can't progress me any further at PT right now because of the back/ tingling problem. Alli made the referral the next morning and put me at the top of the list to get me in to see Dr. Findlay, the spine specialist. She went out of her way; I swear OA has the best people on the planet. Including Alli, I see three 4 doctors and a physical therapist at OA. I am definitely a regular there now.

I had the spine appointment today with Dr. F and he is super nice. Ethan sees him too for his neck/back, so I knew he was a good guy. We took some x-rays and went over the history. I told him about how I have scoliosis and had a brace for it when I was in middle school. It never goes away, so I thought that might be the problem. He took a look at me and the x-rays and figured the scoliosis is idiopathic and that I am very loose-jointed. Most of my joints hyperextend, and my ligaments are very loose. Dr. F said that all of these factors are related and may have contributed to the hip issue. He decided he wanted to take an x-ray of my lumbar (lower) spine and work from there. The MRI is on Friday morning. We shall see.

Anyway, that's the latest development. Add it to the list of things! At least all the doctors/records are in one place, and everyone is awesome. I'll keep you all posted with treatment, etc.