495. Bumpy

Coach R trains US Soccer's Ali Krieger - 7 exercises to prevent ACL injuries

Coach R trains US Soccer’s Ali Krieger – YouTube:  7 exercises to prevent ACL injuries

Right before I started talking at the Christmas Tea I turned to Smurfette and was like, Hey, J – you ever done this sort of thing before? Cuz things are about to get a little craaazy…..

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She told me it was cool – she knew the drill – so my no-holds-barred approach that day didn’t unnerve her. I spoke at a Brunch a couple Saturdays ago, where we welcomed some new friends into our family.  I gave a brief update on my physical condition bc when I did the Christmas Tea, Trainer D had called me out the day before. Things have gotten so much better since then, and I have definitely reached another level physically.

I was gritting my teeth the whole time at Tea. I really wanted to set the record straight so I didn’t tell Mommy how poorly I was feeling bc I knew she’d make me lie down or something.  I had to expend an inordinate amount of effort then.  But this time at Brunch it was much smoother sailing. I am SO much healthier, thank the Lord.

After I consulted Smurfette initially, I counted calories for a couple of months, saw that I had been under-eating for a long time, and learned how to game the system within a couple of weeks so I wouldn’t get the Nastygram from My Fitness Pal. I also started drinking Ensure and felt so much better (Trainer D: DUH. [rolls eyes]). And then Trainer D proposed that I adopt Macro goals (%Protein, Carbs, and Fat). And so I did this “If it fits your macros” style of eating in addition to ramping my calorie goals up by 300-400 over another few months, during which I rediscovered the joys of the sandwich.


16.  Now is *not* the time for fasting...but maybe it is.

16. Now is *not* the time for fasting…but maybe it is.

The results were good. I became more mindful of what my body was telling me – e.g. on days that I “run” and train I have to eat a Giant Breakfast. I know now that once I “feel” the deficit I’m in the danger zone. I used to fast weekly in my Old Life. When I started this practice (I researched it and talked to the Health Nurse at work, FYI) I hid my scale so it wouldn’t be about that. It was fabulous – it’s how I learned to use the body to engage other parts of you. But now I can’t muscle through – I feel my body shutting down if I am failing to fuel appropriately, and I feel an intense obligation to MommyDaddy et. al to not allow this to happen. So last week at the Running Gym I instated a mandatory snack time for myself at 10.30am (this left an appropriate block of time prior to the start of any activity) since I had not been able to eat enough that morning. Coach R played along while I chewed my Quest bar dutifully, but Trainer M declined to participate.   I was going for the: If I have to suffer, we ALL have to suffer effect. Oh, well. You win some you lose some.

When I started eating more appropriately I was also able to “run” and train harder.   This is where the rubber really hits the road. My core strength, balance, spatial awareness etc. are improving, slowly but surely. I can do more things and know the tricks to make my eyeballs last longer and to prioritize so I can exercise the mental acuity I need for certain activities. And as time passes, I am getting better at managing my deficits and surround myself with people and safeguards to help me recognize when I need to scale back my activities.

When Uncle Bus passed away I was extremely sad. I’m still sad. And I recognized that I have a LOT of older friends and this situation was just going to escalate. I informed my people that I would be a MESS when this happened.

Well, it happened. Aunty Haigouhy went home to be with the Lord last week. She was Uncle Joe’s wife. They were special to me.

50.  A Cup of Water

50. A Cup of Water


Last Sunday we went to the hospital to see her one last time.   I tried to press myself into the wall outside her door and just disappear.  She was “asleep” but became agitated when she heard our voices. I hadn’t seen her in a long time because she had been moved into a home a while ago. Sigh. It’s been kinda rough.

I put myself on an eating vacation. I postponed an appointment with Smurfette, which confirmed Trainer D’s suspicion that my regimen had been derailed. I informed Coach R (technically, I email bombed him as is our custom), and then I tried to do “mindless eating” by watching a video of him training Ali Krieger (US Soccer) while I ate half of my barbacoa salad from lunch.

It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. At one point he’s explaining how to move one’s arms – you know, athletically. I started giggling and haven’t stopped for four days. Poor Coach R. I know he’s very good at what he does and all, but seriously? How am I NOT supposed to laugh at this stuff? Truly, though – you should watch this video, esp if ACL injuries are a concern of yours.

But you know what? Even though things have gotten kind of craaazy bumpy I’m doing well right now.  I was in excruciating pain when Dan Uncle passed away at the end of 2014.  Over the last couple of months I’ve had similar stress, compounded by a medication-induced cough, and a harrowing trip to the ENT, but have not been in that kind of pain.  Thank the Lord the cough cleared after 3 weeks and Coach R no longer has to carry my cough drops in his pocket.  I’m still nauseous.  Last week in the middle of a set with Trainer D I paused with my kettle bell mid-air and shifted my eyes from left to right and said simply, Trash can.  (i.e. in case I throw up, where do I go?)

did have some weirder head pain that made me nervous enough to get a full work up even though I’ve been assured nothing’s growing in there.  The last time I got an MRI was in 2012.  So I got a new one a few weeks ago and it came back clean (Yay!)  so the pain was just stress-related. Surprise, surprise.  It’s gotten better with time.

Stretching my hips at a fancy restaurant with Boo Boo's family.  April 2015

Stretching my hips at a fancy restaurant with Boo Boo’s family. April 2015

Notably ,my right side hurts as often as my left side now, or more.  I guess it’s the cumulative effect of 4 years of guarding my left side’s weakness.  But I know how to roll stuff out, and I’ve scaled back on my cane usage and typing/piano to save my arms (which is a new wrinkle, but we’re rolling with it).  I routinely get out of my chair and squat to stretch my hips – it doesn’t matter if we’re at a fancy restaurant, or in some other context that’s weird – the point is that I know what I need to do.  This is still a work in progress, but I don’t feel helpless anymore – like I just have to wait for things to happen.

The end result:  My wellness level has shifted upwards.

Feel free to cheer rowdily at this point.

This is another indicator that all my Training + Treatment is working. Thank you, Team Tanimal!!

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468. Storytelling


I pitched my idea for my 3-hour workout plan to Coach R last week. I proposed a TV show format – Coach R’s Neighborhood – we’d use a zip up hoodie or track jacket in place of Mr. Roger’s sweater and would just need to recruit a colleague to follow us around, taking video on his phone. Coach R didn’t say, “No,” which I chose to interpret as tacit consent. Well, who wouldn’t be up for this? It would be immensely compelling programming. We could be viral YouTube celebrities.

Trainer D and I are working on Bossy Smurf Works Out With Animal Muppet.  (Reminder: Bossy = Me; AM = Trainer D). The earlier parts of Recovery were like Survivor: The Brain Injury Edition and I was constantly getting voted off the island. Gen has a unique point of view that would make for some riveting After School Specials. CMD, however, cannot have a TV show. It would be too scary – and I want all of this to be family-friendly fare.

10. I got voted off the island.

10. I got voted off the island.

Just kidding. I describe CMD to other people as “frighteningly competent” and “wonderfully compassionate.” Seriously – I walked into the waiting area today after treatment and was thrilled to find a new patient there (I had heard her enter a few minutes before and was hoping I could have a word with her). I indicated that starting treatment with CMD was one of the best decisions I’ve EVER made and that I try to get all of my friends fabricate a reason to go see her.

I also love referring members of Team Tanimal to each other. Trainer D asked for Gen’s information when I walked in one day and announced, She grows in fantastic-ness EVERY WEEK! But now I just tell people, Gen gonna change your LIFE.

Incidentally, I feel SO much better today. My joints have settled down and I am in the pain-free zone right now. This is a good thing – I’ll take it for as long as it lasts. I was really hurting on Monday, but I “ran” and immediately felt much better. During Stretchy Time I explained why my mind works like this to Coach R.

I told my first neuropsych (the one at RIO 3rd hospital) while I was standing in The Vice (standing frame) and he was talking to me one night, This is like a really bad reality TV show.

He was like, That is so interesting – tell me more about this Reality TV show…

73.  Stronger

73. Stronger

The man is a 20+ year veteran of this profession and my nurses were liberal in their praise of his skill and experience. But he, like others, were apparently not expecting the level of confusion I displayed as I struggled to figure things out.

409.  How to Change Channels Mentally

409. How to Change Channels Mentally

I tried to get Mommy to give me permission to “change the channels in my head. And when I’d say things to staffers in my attempts to make them admit that none of this had actually happened they’d be like, Are you confused about the date? And I’d be like, Okay – feeling all defeated on the inside bc I didn’t get the answer I wanted.

But I think in terms of TV shows bc that idea was one of the ways I made sense of the situation early on. I felt like I was a 3rd party observer for a while, and then I came to understand that even though I felt like this whole scenario was a poorly conceived plot no one would believe it had really happened and I had to live it, like it or not.

Even before I woke up I had terrifying and hilarious dreams in The Valley that make sense retrospectively since I’ve been told of events, people and places that appeared in my dreams in an altered state. Once I started to wake up and eventually regained the use of my voice I started storytelling in earnest.

I told stories to my family (poor Daddy was confused by this), and to the nurses – e.g. I knew there was a lot of restroom-related anxiety (I had a bad UTI) so before I would characterize myself as “awake” I told one of my nurses a long story about how OF COURSE there were issues bc of the kind of food I was being fed, and my body couldn’t process a 12 oz bottle, I needed an 8 oz. I was so adamant and wouldn’t stop the verbal flood of argumentation my nurse kindly changed my Food Tube Bottle to a smaller size.

I guess I was desperately seeking to regain some control when I woke up and found myself in such a weird situation. It’s still very much a control thing. I tell stories on this blog all the time – and when there is no conceivable way for me to make something funny I’m learning to put words around it and be able to verbalize certain memories, regrets, etc. to other people so that I get to regulate how that idea takes shape in my consciousness and yours, and it’s not just a shadowy figure hiding behind all of the rubble in my mind.

The other half of this is simply that a lot of this stuff is legitimately amusing. Seriously, it’s a very powerful thing to be able to laugh when life is not overtly funny. But I would argue that many things that happen to me ARE overtly funny. Ask Mom – watching Tanpo’s eyes get all wild and crazy when he advocates on my behalf makes me laugh so hard I have pulled things in my stomach. I laugh all the time during Training when Coach R demonstrates things bc I remember when I used to get carried around all the time and the “active” minutes in PT were devoted to learning to sit. I apologized to Trainer D bc I’m likely undermining his credibility as a Trainer by laughing so much. Poor Coach R probably isn’t used to so much laughing during Training, but I can’t help it. I’ve tried to ease him in to this situation over the past year, but it’s not my fault that this situation gets increasingly entertaining as time passes. I explained to him, If you had known me before my injury all of this would be 10x funnier to you.

138.  How to Laugh when you Really Feel Like Crying

138. How to Laugh when you Really Feel Like Crying

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