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After years of sloth, I am now a mama who runs and practices yoga. I write about exercise; parenting a grownup child as well as two little kids; and whatever is annoying me at the moment.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Surgery story

A couple of weeks ago, I ran the Frozen Gnome 10K trail race, known for its January frostiness, ultrarunners (because there's a 50K option), "butt-slide hill", and, of course, a human runner dressed as a GNOME.

There's a little group of us who have done it each of the last three years, and we're addicts. At Veteran Acres in Crystal Lake, this race is the only reason I even know where Crystal Lake is.

This race is one big postcard for snowy (well, icy this year), hilly and tranquil woods that will remind you that you have a soul -- and it needs feeding.

This was my last race before surgery,which was a week ago today.

As I ran that morning, I didn't feel bummed or worried as I anticipated the surgery. Sure, my hip ached, as it had daily in the last year and more. It had ached during this particular race last year, too, long before I knew I had a labral hip tear and a bone deformity that only surgery would (hopefully) be able to fix.

As I ran, I felt calm and hopeful instead, knowing that maybe I will feel so much better when I run this race in January 2018.

Last Thursday, I woke up with a jumpy stomach after not sleeping much. So much for calm.

The week prior I had been a distracted mess, forgetting my husband's haircut appointment and that I needed to pick up the kids, losing stuff around the house and forgetting to turn in the Girl Scout cookie order.

I totally disqualified myself for mom or wife of the month, for sure. Good thing there's a low bar here for that.

We got the kids ready for school. I was worried the two littles, who are 5 and 7, would be scared, but fortunately they seemed ok and much better than me.

After hugs and final walking-to-school instructions to my oldest son, who is 24, Brett and I were off to Rush Hospital in Oak Park.

We made it on time, because I lied to my husband and told him we had to be there earlier than we really did. I don't like to lie but man, it works every time. It's worth him being annoyed with me. I hate to be late.

We got into a little waiting room right away, and then sat for a few hours. Because I couldn't eat or drink anything after midnight, I was grumpy.

That faded when a hospital worker showed up with a bed and said to hop on, it was time to go to the operating waiting area. Fear flooded me as I got on to the bed and I started to cry as I looked at my husband. I'm a cryer, that's just what happens when I get freaked.

As I sniffled my way to the OR holding area, the worker mispronounced my name, Tamara, and said "Ta-MARR-uh, you're not crying, are you?" I was like, yeah, I am.

He said it would be OK, that my surgeon was awesome (he was about the 50th person who by this point told me how awesome my surgeon is, which was comforting) and that when Chicago Bulls players come in for surgery, they're pretty scared too. Well, that got my attention!

I laid in a holding area for another hour, watching Trump's Treasury Secretary nominee, investment banker Steven Mnuchin, get grilled by the Senate, which gave me some grim glee as nurses paraded in and out of my room, very cheerful and encouraging.

(God, nurses are awesome.)

Finally, it was time to be wheeled into the OR, so my anesthesia "cocktail" was added to my IV and I was brought into the OR.

So this is kind of nerdy, but I really wanted to see that OR before I fell asleep. How often, outside of TV, do non-medical people see these? For the brief few minutes I was still awake, it was an amazing sight, with equipment, lights and plastic sheeting everywhere.

And then, it was over. A few groggy hours in recovery and a few most lost hours laying around after that and my husband was helping me in the car. Or the nurse. Who knows.

I dry heaved part of the way home and don't remember much else other than hugs and cards from my awesome kiddies.


Since then, it's been all about resting and recovering. I have to use, just for a few weeks, lots of medical equipment. I'm really, really, really trying to be good and do what I'm supposed to do:

Fixing a runner takes a lot of equipment, apparently. From top left, clockwise: Crutches (obviously), no  more than 20 pounds on the surgical leg, which is really hard to gauge; Reckless the cat checks out the ice wrap/compression machine, used several times a day; the CPM, a passive motion machine on which I lay my leg and it lifts it up and down, four hours a day; foam "booties" that hold my toes up toward the ceiling while I sleep (FUN!!! I hate back sleeping); and a sassy hip brace that amplifies the frumpy mom look (but I'm wearing a Frozen Gnome race shirt, so that's cool).

To pass time, I'm (finally) reading some books, since I stopped reading them sometime around 2009. I'm currently reading Algren: A Life by a friend of mine. It's really good.

I'm studying Spanish again, though when I watch Narcos much of it is still spoken too quickly for me to understand. But I pick up more individual words now, so that's cool.

I also got to weigh in on my oldest son's Tinder profile description, which needed some work. I think he regrets showing me that now. (Too much self deprecation in his self-description, if you ask me. Which he didn't. Overreaching mom, right here). 

And I finally watched Love, Actually, which came out 14 years ago. It was awesome.

Each day, I crutch over to the gym two blocks from my house every morning for my 20 minutes of stationary bike riding, clutching any chance I can to preserve my sanity and escape from 1. presidential politics and 2. the fact that I CAN'T GO FOR A RUN FOR 3 3/4 MORE MONTHS. 

If I time it right, I get to catch a glimpse of a line of parka-clad three-year-olds grasping a rope on a morning walk from the local day care. 

So stinking cute. Can't wait for you little cutie-pies to grow up and fix the world. 


  1. Good luck with your recovery! I really enjoyed Narcos as well!

  2. Tammy, as you know, I had rotator cuff surgery a few years ago and was off running for quite a while. Some things I learned: don't think that, because you were fit before surgery, that somehow your recovery time will be less than it is for most patients--certain things just take time to heal; second, this is the time to count on others to help you. Don't be getting ahead of yourself! The two most important things right now: rest and physical therapy. Third, if you're in pain, take a painkiller. Don't get all hung up about everyone's concerns about addiction; when you are okay with it, you'll stop taking them. Don't listen to how quickly others got off painkillers or how they never really needed them, etc. Being in pain hinders recovery and makes you depressed. And finally, rest, rest, rest. Oh, did I already say that?