Friday, March 11, 2011

A Slight Hitch in my Giddy-Up......and therefore, my PLANS!

Unless you work in the medical field, or have had experience in may look at this picture and have no idea what it is.  It's actually a cross section picture of the knee, looking down from the femur onto the lower half of the leg.  If you look closely, you'll notice that there are two crescent shaped bands called the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus.  These bands sit between the upper and lower bones of your leg, and offer sort of a cushion in the joint space.
In 2005, I started having pain in my right knee periodically.  Mostly it happened when I jumped up/down and landed wrong, or when I crouched down and then stood up again.  A brief, shooting pain would occur, and then nothing.  It wasn't frequent enough to cause real concern, and I felt like a hypochondriac seeing the orthopedic about it.  Sure enough, no real swelling in the joint was detected, the knee seemed stable, and I was sent on my way.
Since then, same story.  Occasionally, I'll notice a slight pain in the knee, but no big deal.  Well, this past Monday night, I guess it became more of a big deal.  I was doing a high intense cardio workout at the gym....a workout that I love and that I've been doing for a couple of months.  I pushed off from right to left and catapulted myself over a platform, and I felt one of those shooting pains in my knee.  And then, nothing.  Finished the workout, actually decided to stay and do the next lifting workout too, then went home.
I woke up at 3 a.m. really thirsty.  The double workout probably left me a tad dehydrated.  When I stepped down out of bed, my right knee was not stable, and I yelped!  I could not bear weight on it.  Whaaaaat?  I hopped all the way to the kitchen sink, then made my way back to bed.  I got up again at 6 a.m. and same thing......could not even walk!  At 7, I called and woke up the GU trainer, Steve.  I described my symptoms and told him that I didn't have time for this.  I've got a run this Sunday, and I'm training for a marathon.  He told me to ice it, wrap it, elevate it and try to stay off of it.  Riiighttt!  I've got stuff to do, how do you stay off of it?
Tuesday and Wednesday, I iced as much as possible and tried to convince myself that there was really nothing wrong.  By Thursday, the knee was super tight, super stiff, and intermittently, the pain high enough that bearing weight was impossible.  Steeeeeve!  I called him back.  He's sort of the Godfather around these parts, and within two hours I was getting X-rays at the orthopedic and an evaluation.  It's definitely not what you  know, its WHO you know!
Well, the bad news folks is that I have a lateral meniscus tear.  I was able to finish my workouts Monday because the good news is that there is no ligament damage.  If there had been, my knee would have screamed at me to STOP!  The bad news is that the knee was visibly unstable with swelling in the joint space that had my kneecap "floating" as the doctor described, and I failed the McMurray test, which is a shifting of the knee to see if an audible click can be heard.  Unfortunately, click, click, click it went.  He told me I might as well skip the MRI, because it's torn, and all that would tell me is how severe.
Surgery to repair the meniscus is scheduled two weeks from now.  Between now and then, I'm supposed to get as much fluid and swelling out of the joint space as possible through Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (R.I.C.E.).  After surgery, up to 3 weeks on crutches, and then rehab.  Really?  I was feeling sorry for myself for about two seconds.  And then I considered some of my fellow teammates and former athletes who experienced far worse knee injuries/repairs and came back to form stronger than ever.
 Here's one of them.  This lady showed up at Santa Clara in the midst of her third ACL tear and repair.  Within one year, she was named the Collegiate Player of the Year, and then went on to work her way back onto the US National Team, sharing the first ever Women's World Cup title within two years.  This is that famous shot that made the cover of Sports Illustrated when the US Women made history in Los Angeles....World Cup 1999.  I watched how hard she worked at that time....there's no room for whiners!
As I said when I started this blog.....I'm not sure of the adventures I'll be taking this year.  I'm not super pleased that this is one of them, but I'm heading off to surgery in a couple of weeks nonetheless!  Not sure of that marathon in July either.  Time to alter my workout plans.....swimming pool, here I come!

We have a Teenager!

Every day now, our oldest gets a little bit taller, a little bit smarter, a little bit funnier, and stops us in our tracks with how old she is!  Yesterday, she turned 13 years old.  If I had a dollar for every parent who dropped their child off for preseason training at Gonzaga and said to me, "hold on to those little girls, they grow up way too fast", I'd be a rich woman by now.  Luckily, we are very aware of how precious time is, and I feel confident that we are doing everything possible to enrich our kids' lives and spend quality family time.  They are all my favorite people!  My oldest shares my sense of humor, which is so much fun.  We both enjoy making funny sounds, pretending we can talk with various accents, and we have a penchant for changing the words to songs and jingles to suit our liking.  Let's just say rides in the car with my 13 year old are so funny.......and even funnier because the rest of our family gets so dang annoyed with us!  Thought I'd share some pictures today of our oldest girl....Happy 13th!
Her First Christmas!

Junior Soccer
With her crazy soccer girls....and Dad as Coach!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

In like a Lion, and out like a Lamb

For many reasons, I will never forget Christmas 2005.  That was the year that our family chose to go see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as our Christmas Day movie.  I sat next to my daughter Emily, and she was absolutely captivated by the scenery, the characters and the story.  She lit up every time Lucy had a speaking part.  That made me smile.  I couldn't help but think that she was identifying with this little girl.  She, and I, also salivated over the Turkish Delight, covered with all of that powdered sugar!  When they got to the part where Aslan, the Lion, dies.....she was moved to tears and in that moment, mad that the story had ended this way.  But then, Aslan comes back to life!  I had never read the story before, and so I did not know what would happen.  But all of a sudden, Emily was smiling again.  And then, at seven years old, she said out loud, "Mom, that is just like Jesus!"  Well, it was pretty much game over for me at that point.  Just when you think you are the one to teach your children things, they go ahead and interpret things like movies for you.  It was an amazing moment.

Jesus can be thought of as a Lion, as the King of Kings.  Or, He can be thought of as the Lamb, who sacrificed it all so that we can be "raised in glory to LIVE ON forever" as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:40-44.  The picture of the Lion, cradling the Lamb, is symbolism used in the Christian faith to represent the peace found in having faith.  I think faith is sometimes like a Lion, raging and strong, easy to summon, providing courage and strength to tackle life.  But other times, it's like a Lamb, feeble and weak, with shaky limbs, and the lamest voice of all, "Baaaa!"  I mean, does anybody truly know that there is a God?  It's not something that you can sort out with your brain.  At least mine is not complex enough to come up with a definitive answer on that.  And so, I've found, it's something you have to follow with your heart.

Around the end of January this year, I began to sense the emotional tension that the month of March would bring for Jennifer and her family.  Their birthdays start on February 25th, and they just keep on coming...March 1, March 9, March 12 and then Olivia's birthday March 19th.  Turning another year older when you are missing a piece of your heart.....that's serious anguish.  My brain, and my heart, are not always working together.  But after talking with Jennifer on Monday night, January 31st, they started thumping together to the same beat.  I found myself completely moved by the strength of this lady, Olivia's Mama, who told me that night that she thought that maybe they were going to take their family to swim with the dolphins for Olivia's 10th Birthday on March 19th.  "In like a Lion, and out like a Lamb!"  

I didn't sleep much that night as I began to dream of how I could make sure that Jennifer's 40th Birthday on March 1st raged in like a Lion!  I contacted everyone in my e-mail and facebook accounts, and I contacted Jennifer and her husband Rick's work colleagues.  I shared with them Jennifer's story about the dolphins, and that they also wanted to take their first trip to Disneyland with their kids.  I opened up an account at the local credit union, and asked everyone if they wanted to rally with me to make sure Jennifer had a vacation fund built out of the love of all her friends and family.  I explained that we would build this fund for a month, and that I needed their names to keep track of the Donor Honor Roll so that Jennifer could see all of the names of the people rallying behind her!

March 1st came this past Tuesday.  Two of Jennifer's best friends, and fellow teachers, organized an entire day of pampering for Jennifer, culminating in a dinner prepared by Jennifer's family.  Before we ate dinner, I shared a letter that I had prepared for her.  I explained to her that our conversation about Olivia's dream of swimming with the dolphins had really touched my heart.  And then I confessed.  I told her that I had been doing a lot of talking behind her back!  And then, in front of her entire family, I presented her with over 100 names on her Donor Honor Roll who had been secretly helping to surprise Jennifer on her 40th birthday with a vacation fund worth $5, 500.00!  I also shared with her several e-mails that came in to me on her behalf.  I wanted to make sure she understood that people were absolutely thrilled to be able to help her take this vacation in honor of Livi's 10th birthday, and most importantly, to help her fulfill Olivia's dream of swimming with the dolphins.

I've had many incredible moments in my life, but this one ranked right up there with the very best!  The names on that donor honor roll included so many of our childhood friends.  Those names were the ones that especially touched Jennifer and her parents.

Emotionally, March raged in like a big old Lion, and brought with it a roaring faith in people, in God, and the image that Jesus really did reach down and cradle Olivia in his loving arms, like a little Lamb.