In the 18 years since my original surgery, I’ve continued to teach group fitness classes, go on long (and short) hikes, and generally stick with my fairly active lifestyle, even with follow-up surgeries over the years.
However, the reconstruction that was supposed to last ten years (it’s been 18) has finally failed and I will have gone in for replacement surgery by the time you read this. I should probably even be back home recuperating at this very moment.
I remember my recuperation from ‘98, which is another way of saying “physical therapy.” I had a lot of PT, and it hurt. Sometimes the therapy exercises hurt so much that tears would spontaneously “spring” from my eyes. I wasn’t sad; it was involuntary. I know many people don’t do all of their at-home PT because it hurts, which makes total sense. Who wants to self-inflict pain? However, it’s my knee, and no-one else’s, and I want it back in working order as quickly as possible.
I know what I’m headed for as I teach my body to accept its bionic new joint. It’s going to hurt a lot. That’s just the way it is. But only in the short run. Then I’ll be done with recurring pain, arthritis, stiffness, and compensatory issues in my left IT band. I’ll be done with limping and having a permanently bent knee. Maybe I’ll even be able to kneel on my right knee again too, instead of shifting all my weight to the left.
After my reconstruction surgery in 1998, I stayed with my sister for a week or two. I diligently did my therapy exercises and tried to participate in day-to-day stuff as well. Heck, she even rented a wheelchair and took me along with her on a 5K walk to raise money to help find a cure for MS. Ask her to tell the story of trying to tip me over into the sidewalk plants along Santa Barbara’s State Street. “Accidentally.”
Years later, she had to have some knee surgery and therapy too. After hers, she told me that she had thought I was overdramatizing the amount of knee pain I was in during the time I recuperated at her house, but after having her own surgery realized I was seriously downplaying how much it hurt. Glad she didn’t share her opinion at the the time or I might have clocked her with my crutch.
With this surgery being even more extensive than the original one, I already know it will hurt to get back to normal. But if I let that deter me, I won’t get to my goal – teaching a full load of classes in the Fall quarter, rejoining my dance team, and walking the dog.
I’m not one to reach for meds (over-the-counter or prescription) as a first resort, but I’ve also learned that they exist for a reason. I know that I’ll have to use the pain meds the surgeon prescribes, at least for a few days. I also know I’ll cut the dosage in half because I don’t like what they do to my mind and stomach. Last time I tried to “go it alone,” and had more pain and inflammation than necessary. I guess the obstacle I needed to overcome was my own stubbornness.Besides determination, what else you can do to overcome pain and obstacles? #ad @AdvilRelief Click To Tweet
Just as I worked hard to complete a half-marathon after one of my lesser knee surgeries, and stay fit after toe surgery (also thanks to soccer, which I still love, but no longer play), I’ll work hard this summer too. It’s MY knee. It’s MY life. And it’s MY responsibility to treat my body (and new knee) with respect. Over the summer, and once I’m back to teaching, I’ll use Advil for the muscle soreness that’s going to be part of adjusting to my new, bionic (I wish) knee. I used it to relieve the arthritic pain from it being bone-on-bone, so I already know it will help. And the active ingredient is ibuprofen, which doesn’t bother my stomach.
So no travel posts for a while (no driving for this girl till August), and no self-pity (I might change my mind on that). Mostly I’m looking forward to being active again, but without the issues my poor ol’ bone-on-bone knee had. And you know what hurt the most? Sitting in place for too long. Yup, moving was more comfortable than sitting. Which is exactly as it should be.
Here’s to me and my knee!
June is National Headache month, and Advil would like to know how you deal with headaches. So would we.
Alexandra Williams, MA
photo credits: Alexandra
Three decades and thirty “added bonus” pounds ago, I had good knees. And a waistline. (But no adorable hubster or beloved daughter, so age and time have their benefits!) Then came a soccer mishap, two knee surgeries, extreme knee osteoarthritis, and a mid-workout, in class torn menisci injury – my first slap me down, make me hollah, painful accident after 35 years’ of teaching group fitness.
What midlife lady twin personage of non-royal lineage wants painful joints and limited activity, I ask you? Not I! But having to accept and deal with physical changes is part of aging actively. Well, of aging in any way. Grrrrrr to that but better than the alternative.
Have you also found yourself dropping or reducing exercises or movements you once loved because your joints are on a different program? One that kinda hurts and limits you? Me too. In fact, you can read about my famous, unruly knees by reading this personal knee post and this one on what I tried before surgery. You may see some solutions if your joints are anything like mine. Just come back here to find out my GOOD news!
Anyway, the torn menisci adventure and inevitable surgery was six months ago. (Cute doctor, by the way and also a baby boomer.) After teaching step classes since hair was big and Prince’s song “1999” was sooo futuristic, I was put on the layaway plan. Stop for now or pay later. Half a year of no beloved step workouts. Yes, I would miss the exercise; yes, I would miss my step class participants; yes, I would feel discouraged and “olderish” as the weeks then months went by with no miraculous knee recovery. You know what I mean? — the whole identity questioning thing: “But I’ve always been a group fitness leader and go-getter, not a recovering injured person. Whine whine rail and moan!”
Fortunately two months post surgery I was cleared to teach my other classes that did not involve level changes and repeated ups and downs. Yay to teaching “Forever Fit” workouts and to walking daily and taking up outrigger paddling (Extra Extra Read all about it here) . Still no step. Sad and worried face.
But guess what??!! As of this week, I am officially cleared to get back on that step and rock the cues and cardio choreography!! Not that I plan to be stoopid or anything. Both the arthritis/soccer knee and the torn menisci knee still talk to me. With an accent that sounds like it’s from the isle of Crete in Greece. You know, the Creak accent. My knees no longer speak Rushin’ which is too bad, though happily they don’t speak Finnish. Ahha I did not say my jokes underwent rehab.
Speaking of rehab, I totally believe in it, did it, advocate it. If you have knee issues that are causing you pain or limiting your life consider one of the programs I followed in conjunction with rehab: Fix My Knee Pain. Cut to the commercial. You’ll want to check this program out if you desire more cooperative joints. The expert, Rick Kaselj is a colleague, whose presentations my sister and I have personally attended. Would you rather spend a fortune and waste painful years trying to ignore your knee pain? Um, that was my approach, by the way. It didn’t really work. Read about that misadventure here: Just Say No … Didn’t Work. Or are you going to use some of your hard earned wisdom and invest in yourself and joint comfort? Do yourself a favor and at least click the link to find out what the Fix My Knee Pain videos and exercises can do for you.
Back to our regularly scheduled program — soooo, after weeks of easing my way into half classes, slower paced, platform only, no risers, not on the stage myself, step-a-licious workouts, I will officially be teaching again, on schedule, with my name listed, and the mic at my lips, calling the step cues. With no plyo moves or heavy twists or turns. I did mention “hard earned wisdom” and “not being stoopid.” Time to rock the step with confidence and hope that my knees will at least not get worse. Hold the line, as Toto tells us. Cue fun music. I am going with the DreamGirls song “Step On Over,” NOT the other one in that musical “Steppin’ to the Bad Side.”
Time to find out whether the surgery, months off, Fix MyKnee program, rehab, deep tissue massage, various supplements, ice, and reworking of my gait patterns will be enough. Stay tuned. (I was talking to my knees just then. While patting them nicely).
Step, step, step to my Lou. You too! See you there, pain free!
By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Readers: Can you name the songs I am spoofing in two of the above subtitles? Do tell! Or if you prefer to do something else, then check out the Fix My Knee program. Sure, my sis and I are affiliates for it, but that’s because we know it can help.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
According to two doctors, I need three separate joint surgeries in 2015. My plan is to have zero. And there you have one of my primary New Year’s goals: to try all non-invasive options to rehab both knees and my foot. (Yes, for those of you who have been reading our blog for awhile, that identical twis sis of mine had left toe surgery for the same issue I now have on the right).
Any other baby boomers out there with knee, toe, or other joint-related issues? Is osteoarthritis interfering with your life plan for active aging? This was not supposed to happen to me!! I want my life to expand with age, time, income, and experience, not contract. After depositing in the exercise bank for more than 35 years, I was looking forward to withdrawing more movement, action, and adventure!
After a physically challenging year with chronic pain and the ability to move less and less, it’s time to face reality: ignoring my knee and foot problems and powering through painful workouts just isn’t working any more. Maybe it never was, but I did keep teaching group exercise classes and walking my dog every day! Until a few weeks ago when I tore two menisci in my right knee — the “good” knee. The one that did not have two replacement surgeries already.
Do You Kneed This? I Do, Dang It!
Sooo, I am now starting several new approaches to get my athletic, energetic, comfortable giddy up gait back. These programs and methods include:
Doctor, Doctor, I Declare
Whew! That’s a lot to take on. But I am determined and frankly, scared enough to try whatever it takes to get my walking and exercising juju back. My doctors have been great about listening to me and working with me to develop protocols to push off surgeries. Yet, my goal is to do MORE once I can walk again pain- and swelling-free. They keep trying to talk me into doing LESS, both now and post any surgery.
Other methods I have tried over the last two years have helped to a degree. I think those efforts gained me extra workouts and managed the pain. But not enough to prevent the recent downturns and tears. Read what I already implemented as you might want in on some o’ dat! Pain Free Movement in 2013
So strap in if you are interested to find out what works and what does not in my 2015 knee and foot joint reclamation project.
Affiliate disclosure: If you buy the Skinnylicious recipe book or Knee Rehab program through our links, we earn a few dollars at no added cost to you. Of course our main motive is to find, test, and curate the products and services best for active women over 50.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
The new year is starting out well at the Boom Chicka Boomer
ranch, homestead, cottage, boom shack-a lacka. We have 188.8.131.52. exciting exercises, retreats, ebooks, advice, research, food, and all-around goodness to share with you so that you can be up to date. Let’s get rolling, shall we?
1. Top Ten Fitness Trends for 2015
Wonder what the top 10 fitness trends for 2015 are projected to be? Then click the link to see the list compiled by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM),
2. Four Key Trends That Affect You
For YOU, we highlight 4 of those fitness trends relevant to active women who want to be comfortably awesome.
3. Buy This Cookbook (Subtle, eh?)
Eating will continue to be popular in 2015. Shocker, eh? What if we told you about a great recipe book <<<<<——- (click that link) that will have you eating more while losing weight, AND you can keep eating bacon? We are now affiliates for the ——->>>> (or click here) Skinnylicious Cooking downloadable recipe book. This book aligns with our preference for grass-fed meat, healthy ingredients, real food vs. food-like substances, easy, time-saving, delicious, affordable, and metabolism-boosting recipes. In other words, the recipes are designed to work WITH, not AGAINST your body. No dieting involved. You probably already know our low opinion of diets. But we have a high opinion of Skinnylicious and think you will too. But you need to click to find out. And you have to actually get the book and USE it to gain all its benefits. Action time.
It looks like 2015 might finally be the year when the food industry recognizes how important it is to increase plant intake and decrease animal intake, both for health and the environment. Even more reason to eat – gasp – more veggies and fruits.The food industry recognizes the importance to increase your plant intake and decrease your meat… Click To Tweet
4. Trust Those of Us in the Trenches
Teaching group fitness classes every week is not enough to qualify us to advise you about active aging. We also present and lead sessions around and about. Keeps us on our toes.
Join us in person or vicariously online as we hoof it to: Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite, then to the Lorna Jane store at the Paseo Nuevo Mall in Santa Barbara, then out of state to the first Bloggers at Midlife (BAM) conference in Nashville. Yes, you can work out in cowperson boots! The ultimate booty class!
5.Tenaya Lodge Wellness Spa Retreat Weekend
If you want to jumpstart your wellness plans, but without any jumping involved, join us at the Tenaya Lodge Wellness Retreat. Taste wine, go on a nature hike, get a mass-aaaahhhh-ge, work out with us, learn how to pair tea with dinner. If your budget allows, and you enjoy learning and doing healthy activities in a luxury environment, meet us there! Coming up soon: Jan 16-19
Regardless of your ability to attend, tell us in a comment below which of the planned activities would be your favorite. We are pretty keen on the Saturday, Jan 17 3:30 session! To see the schedule and sessions or to register, go to this spa weekend link.
6. ABC Workout, Free Food, Prizes, and Lorna Jane Activewear DISCOUNTS
For you locals (Santa Barbara), join us for FREE Sat Jan 31 at 10am for the
world, nation, state, county famous ABC: Abs, Balance, Core workout we are teaching. Sponsored by Lorna Jane Activewear, you not only get to improve your abs and show the shoppers who rules the mall, but also snacks and juicy discounts on LJ gear. Did we mention prizes as well? Gotta play to win!
What’s your favorite abs or core move? Bet we’ll show you one you’ll like more!
7. Bloggers at Midlife Conference
Then in mid-March we fly to Tennessee to present at the inaugural BAM conference. If you are a baby boomer or midlife women who blogs on any topic, this event is for you. If you are not a blogger, thank goodness! We need you as readers! So charge up your laptop or mobile phone to read about our adventures and whether we sweat during our sessions. Look for wild photos and behind-the-scenes stories from the conference.
8. Track our Knee Adventures
Starting next week, we will be busting open the inflammatory, painful, yet ultimately upbeat story of two middle-aged women who want to age actively. When their knees try to defeat them, they fight back — with traditional and new methods. Methods that you can learn about as well. This (unfortunately) universal tale of joy, frustration, pain, and odd detours offers help to any of you also suffering from knee pain. Will Kymberly be able to continue teaching her beloved step classes in 2015? Can Alexandra postpone knee surgery past 2015? And how will their experiences help you? Track with us as we enter 2015 raring to go!
Did you think you’d have to read 2,015 bullet points from us? Nahhhh. 2 + 0 + 1 + 5 = 8, so you only get 8 points from us. Happy 2015. See you at Tenaya! While reading Skinnylicious. In a box. With a fox.
Kymberly: Want to hear more coincidences besides being twins who are active? Both Alexandra and I have had knee surgeries that prevent us from running. My middle name is Beth. AND I always beat my sis in races. Well, that last part is all theoretical since we don’t race. But you see where I am going. Now let’s get you going!
First, I want to give the disclaimers: check with your medical professionals to get clearance for such training. My sister and I are fitness pros, but not doctors, physical therapists or medical peeps. Fine print is now over.
My ideas for the elliptical are for you to train on it 2-3 times a week, especially the first few months as your knee adapts. Then be willing to work out on the treadmill and walk outdoors as well. Ultimately you have to walk outside for the event, so your training needs to mimic the the race as you draw closer to the race. If your knee can handle the cardio training, try to get in a total of 4 -5 cardio sessions per week. When on the elliptical, go retro every so often (that is, stride backwards). Also vary the elliptical resistance factor and stride length so you are not repeating the same stresses on your knee. On the treadmill, add incline and work in some 1 -2 minute intervals that push resistance, speed, and incline. And though you did not ask about other workout options, we definitely hope targeted strength training is part of your rehab and workout protocol.
Alexandra: While Kymberly sat home watching soccer on TV, I walked a half marathon a few months after foot surgery, so I can say that you and I are both AWESOME! At first, I wasn’t allowed to put weight on my surgery foot, so I worked out on the rowing machine. If doing the treadmill or elliptical start to hurt, maybe try building up your cardio this way. I have to say that the rower made my butt ache after 10 minutes!
Once I was allowed to put weight on my foot (and could get it into my fitness shoes, ’cause it was swollen!), I spent a lot of time on the treadmill and elliptical. I started out with a 22-minute mile and had a 14-minute mile as my goal because that’s what Nike said I had to have. So I hope you’re a patient person who doesn’t push her luck, yet does push her limits. When my foot or hip would hurt (from the repetitive motion or overuse), I would put my hands on the machine and take some of the weight off my legs by using my arm strength. I hope you have strong arms!
As soon as I felt mentally ready to be outside, I switched from the machines to the hills near our house, as they mimic the actual marathon better than the machines. Are you ready to go outside? If you get nervous about pushing your new knee, just remind yourself that it feels sweet to beat your sister! Not that I’ve ever thought that way!
Kymberly: While we are apparently quite “awesome” and long time fitness pros, we are no time marathoners, so we went to colleagues of ours who specialize in this event. Personal Trainers Patricia Moeller and Pauline Geraci offer some specific workouts for you FREE! If you groove on what they suggest, go like them on their Facebook pages. Links included.
From Patricia Moeller: 2 summers ago I had knee surgery in April and ran a 1/2 road marathon in September. Once I got my quad strength and range of motion back I started building miles slowly. If my knee swelled up I knew I had run too far. I took many ice baths that summer. The following summer I was back training and racing trail marathons.
Do front squats first at an incline progressing to standing. Leg curls with bands & then on a machine. Lateral abduction with bands. 1 leg BOSU balancing. Calf raises. Treadmill walking sucks, but if you must, then an incline of 2% or greater will keep the pounding of the knee joint down. Strength train inside (before going outside to walk).
From Pauline Geraci: I am working with a client now who had knee surgery 9 months ago. I ditto Patricia Moeller as far as the exercises. I found this YouTube video to be most beneficial for quadricep facilitation: Church Pew Exercise. The other thing is mental! My client was still treating her knee like she just had surgery. She was afraid to let her knee be her new knee.
Readers: Who else has knee issues and what do you do to work around, through, and with them?
Photo credits: CreativeCommons.org – jive turkey (twins)
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