The Athlete in Me

Ten Years Titanium: A Medical Memoir

My titanium toe and I have been in a relationship for ten years. The internets tell me you celebrate ten years with gifts of tin or aluminum. They’re both so quaint compared with titanium.

Ten years ago, on this day, I watched my titanium toe surgery. It was pretty incredible (understatement). It briefly reminded me of watching an open heart surgery while hangin’ with one of my besties, Lacy, at her home in Idaho. Except we watched on TV. Not the same as watching in person. And it wasn’t all dramatized nor did it include scenes of doctors running into closets with interns for sexual side stories like Grey’s Anatomy (not that I would know!). We were teenagers anyway. Grey’s wasn’t due to hit the airwaves for many years still.

December 4, 2008, I walked to the surgical center. It wasn’t far from my work, up in Research Park. My mom was going to give me a ride to her house after it was done so I could stay overnight there and then return to my condo the next day.

At the center, I checked in, they gave me a bag to put my clothes and purse in, left me to change into some wispy little outfit with strings attached, and said they’d be back shortly with the orthopedic surgeon and anesthesiologist. They were both intriguing men with big personalities. The anesthesiologist (it’s a PAIN to type that word) asked me whether I’d been under before and if I had known allergies. I asked him if I couldn’t stay awake for it.

“You’d rather do a local?” he asked.

“If I could,” I said.

“That would be less risky.”

“And do you have to use Versed, too?”

He didn’t answer that question, but wheeled me into another room to use an ultrasound on my leg and find the exact nerve to stab with a needle and inject local anesthesia. That hurt! But before long, my right leg was numb and I was off to surgery.

They did use Versed. And apparently, I asked about it in the operating room. I asked if the anesthesiologist could stop because I really was going to be fine and wouldn’t freak out and wanted to remember this!

“Okay,” he said.

My brain was less foggy and a surgical tech swung a flat-screen TV around where I could see it while lying on the table. I did, again, watch a surgery on TV, but it was all zoomed in on my toe, far better than trying to watch from my pillow behind the surgical drape.

Here are a few of the random details that went down during that surgery:

  1. I asked them if they could pull the TV a little bit closer because “you guys made me take out my contacts.”
  2. The doctor asked me if I’d ever taken tetracycline because my bones had a yellow tint to them. I’d taken minocycline. “It’s a good thing your teeth aren’t yellow,” he said.
  3. There was a guy from the medical device company there. He was giving the doctor directions on how to clip the titanium pieces together in my toe. I told him my brother had worked for Zimmer, another medical device company. He said, cool. Or something.
  4. I watched them drill holes in my bones, suction out the blood, and insert the two pieces.
  5. The doctor had a hard time lining up the “male” piece to the “female” piece and clicking the two together.
  6. Orthopedic surgery is not delicate.
  7. The doc told me he would email me a picture of my toe cut open. He did, about a week later. (It’s at the very bottom of this post if you’re not squeamish.)

When the surgery finished, they wheeled me out to recovery where the nurse walked in and jumped in surprise.

“You’re awake,” she said.

“They didn’t put me under,” I said. “I’m so hungry. Where’s my stuff?”

“I have some water for you to sip. There’s your stuff.”

She pointed to a big, white, plastic “Patient” bag with my clothes, purse and phone inside. I pulled out my purse and several pieces of chocolate which I ate while sipping the tiny cup of water.

“What time is it?” I asked. She pointed to the clock. The surgery had gone much faster than they’d told me to plan on. My mom wasn’t coming for over an hour. I pulled out my phone and called her. She couldn’t make it yet, but could find somebody. Eventually, my sister-in-law, Tracy, came and picked me up, took me to my parents’, and helped me hop up the two flights of stairs to my parents’ bedroom. I took a nap.

My toe woke me up from my nap. My entire foot woke me up. So. Much. Pain. Toes are rude that way. I called for help. Eventually, my 18-year old brother came in with a couple of his high school buddies. I was sweaty and grimacing. I told them my toe was killing me. He looked at my foot, elevated and wrapped up on the bed. I asked him for a Priesthood blessing. He had been 18 for just over a month.

“I’ve never done one before,” he said. I looked at his friends. They all shrugged. Then, they called their dads to ask for instructions. They gave me a blessing and during it, the pain went from searing to tingling and I took a deep breath.

For ten years, titanium and I have been together. My toe still hurts at times and most days, it’s a little swollen.

One last thing: during the surgery, I told them the pillow was really comfortable so the anesthesiologist included it in my “Patient” bag. I still have it. It’s this polyfoam pillow. So cool, right?


mom jeans and muffin tops

muffin-topBefore I had kids, before I was married, back when I made lots of time for working out, I had a health assessment done through our wellness fair at work. The doc requested to sit down with me and discuss an area of concern.

I was lifting weights three times a week, I attended the daily, 15-minute workout classes at work, I played on at least two soccer teams, and I met up with friends to play basketball and volleyball in the church gym twice a week. All of this because: single, late 20s, living in Utah.

BUT, I had unhealthy belly fat.

Robin (the doc/PA) laughed at me and told me that she had this same thing—Robin, the healthy PA, who taught yoga classes on the side. She and I both had unhealthy hip-to-waist ratios. She at least had the excuse of having born and raised children.

Okay, so I’m not very curvy and when I put on weight, it goes to my belly and love handles first. It’s an endearing trait.

Now, post two kids, it’s the most endearing!

I saw this article online: 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat.

Based on that article, I can decidedly tell you that there are 5 reasons why I will not be losing my belly fat.

  1. I am not getting younger. Goodbye, high metabolic rate.
  2. All of the oreos that I’m eating are filling my body with inflammation.
  3. I like meat.
  4. Diastasis recti.
  5. No sleep… because children.

This morning, I considered quitting sugar. And then I went and bought a Dr. Pepper and sugar cookie. My willpower is mighty.

Conversation with Dom

Me (while nursing Gabbi): Are you done with your snack?

Dom: No. I just wanted to talk to you.

Me: What did you want to talk about?

Dom: I wanted to talk about the game of soccer.

Me: Oh I see. The game of soccer?

Dom: Yes. We just get the ball into the goal.

… Conversation went on for several minutes then finished with him leaving the room with an announcement.

Dom: I’m just gonna go poop.

keep your boobs over the ball!

696px-We_Can_Do_It!I heard a coach yell, “Keep your boobs over the ball!” at a girl on my soccer team after she booted the ball sky high instead of keeping it down and aimed at the goal. We all chuckled. And, we loved it. Our coach was a woman. For this team full of late-teen, early-twenties women, it became our battle cry. Or we just liked it and yelled it at each other when we had the chance. The visual was great and did more for improving shots on goal than previous things we’d heard such as “lean over”.

Lean over sounds so boring. And makes me think I’m trying not to spill in my lap at the dinner table.

“Keep your boobs over the ball.”

To me, this phrase represents girl power.

Maybe you think that’s odd.

It works for me. It represents women playing sports, cheering each other on, using their bodies to excel, and being proud of their bodies.

So, turns out, we’re expecting a baby girl.

In my mind, I always imagined myself as a mother of boys. I was surprised when I found out we were NOT having another boy for #2. As my pregnancy nears its end (yay!) and we get closer and closer to meeting baby sister, I have noticed that I’m feeling more and more concerned about girl power.

I grew up in a family with strong women. One grandmother had a master’s from Columbia. Another grandmother was a single, working mother who sent all four kids on to college. My own mother is a renowned violinist who has played in multiple symphonies, studied in London, recorded on hundreds of CDs and now volunteers (for free, people) as the concertmaster as the Orchestra of Temple Square. Oh yeah, and she raised 7 kids. And the Columbia-mastered grandma? She raised 10 (two that weren’t her own by birth).

Those are just the immediate women relatives above me on the family tree. I won’t take time to mention the strengths and accomplishments of cousins, aunts, sisters, etc. And that’s only my family by birth. By marriage, myriad more strong women are added.

Baby sister is joining a girl-power family.

We are athletes. We are musicians. We are artists. We are educated. We are hard-working. We are mothers. We are beautiful. We are kind. We have boobs.

No what to name this, obviously, strong, baby sister?

Testing the ol’ muscles

I MAY have overdone things last weekend and I MAY still be paying the price. Some things have been difficult lately:
Stepping over the baby gate
Swinging my legs into the car
Getting up from a chair

I decided it would be an amazing idea to strap Dom into the jogging stroller and skip to my loo to daycare on Friday morning. There and back was 3.2 miles. I haven’t run more than a mile in months. But that’s how I roll it seems: go big and do your best to get back home. I wanted to walk back home but I was supposed to be back online teleworking.

Hurry Larrie! The group IM conversation is waiting for you! There are unread emails! Exclamation points!!!

I stumbled into our driveway, pushing an empty stroller, Dom happily playing at daycare, 45 minutes after departure. Speedy.

I already knew that my muscles needed some help now so I finished up some teleworking, headed into the office for a meeting, then followed that up with the yoga class in our corporate wellness center (fancy-clancy name for a gym at work).

Somehow I always forget that yoga is hard. It is not relaxing. You do not spend an hour sitting on a mat humming and counting breaths. It is not easy on your leg muscles to hold poses.

And did I mention I have zero flexibility? I can’t even touch my knees; toes are totally out of the question.

So that was Friday: running the daycare 5k in the morning followed by the yoga shakes at lunch. (Holding poses=shaky)

I followed that up with my first soccer game of the season on Saturday.

In case you were wondering, none of the muscles in my hands are sore.