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Skwigg Blog
Sunday, 25 February 2007
Apparently I Did Have Knee Surgery

Yesterday afternoon, the nerve block wore off, the anesthesia drip quit dripping, and I felt my reconstructed knee for the first time. May I just say, yeeeeow! And also, thank god for narcotic pain killers. They totally eliminate the pain if I take them on schedule, but I feel all floaty and twitchy and itchy. And as an added bonus, I have the hiccups. It's lovely.

I posted a new article last night called The Evolution of Cardio by Craig Ballantyne. It's about how he created Turbulence Training. The idea is to maximize results while spending as little time as possible in the gym. At the time, he was a very busy grad student. His schedule didn't allow for a traditional bodybuilding routine with multiple sets per body part, and there was definitely no time for long cardio sessions. He had to come up with a routine that could be done in minimum time with the biggest metabolic disturbance - so that he was still burning calories when he was back at his desk. Good stuff. I can't WAIT until I can try some of his complete routines. I also found over 100 Alwyn Cosgrove workouts on WorkoutPass. It's making me crazy that I hit the mother load of brilliant fitness programs at a time when I can't possibly do any of them. I'm going to have to be patient until I'm no longer crippled and hopped up on goofy berries.

I found a link to the 2007 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue . Ever since I was a teenager I would look to the swimsuit issue for examples of the "ideal" physique. I'd tape them to the refrigerator as a deterrent to eating. Well, now all of these beautiful women look a little odd to me because they don't have any muscles. Perhaps all the years of working out and reading fitness magazines have warped my brain. At least Beyonce was included - someone who's not a model and clearly eats. She could still use some biceps and delts though. ;-)

Here is my sideways desk set-up, and my dog helpers attempting to mooch my cereal. 



Posted by skwigg at 11:29 AM CST
Saturday, 24 February 2007
Once More in English

Every single night, the same arrangement
I go out and fight the fight
Still I always feel this strange estrangement,
Nothing here is real, nothing here is right.

I do believe I'll have to watch the Buffy musical while I'm at home on "short term opportunity." Phooey on the thought that it's disability. It's an opportunity to heal, to do my physical therapy, to hog the couch and watch lots of quality television, to get online. I'm still pretty heavily medicated and feeling no pain, but I figured out how to situate the keyboard so I could type right. Yesterday, I was sitting sideways and banging on it with my fist. Plus, the text was swirling just a bit.

What I was attempting to convey yesterday, is that I cannot believe how well everything went! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be out of the hospital by 2:00pm, or have ZERO pain and nausea. My surgeon and the team of doctors and nurses who treated me yesterday were really spectacular. Today I am discovering some of the trickery they used on me. I just found an anti-nausea patch behind my left ear, and the surgeon has rigged up some kind of little portable doowackie that keeps releasing local anesthetic into my knee joint for the first couple of days. No wonder it doesn't hurt! They also sent me home with a polar pump that continually circulates ice water around the knee. No jacking with ice packs or bags of frozen peas. I'm truly impressed with modern medicine!

I'm doing my home knee exercises already, and I go back to physical therapy starting Tuesday.


Posted by skwigg at 9:24 AM CST
Friday, 23 February 2007
It Lives

I',m home and loopy and happy. riaght at the moment nothing hurts. michael had to take the Blackberry away from me because I was calling people in the car andm when I got howme I woouldn't stop texting. LOL he is a very good helper momkey . I also have several compeletely useless serviece dogs. whenever I call michaeld, ripley comes and lookes at me and tilts her head back and foth. and tries to put her paw in my mouth.; good dog. :-)

surgery wemt great. my andesthesiol;ogist is the bomb. No nausey and no pain. nerve block worked. I woke right up and was ecxstaitc whem they brought me diet pepsei and crackers, surgeery was at 11:40.I was awake in the recoberuy room by 1;00 something, eating, laughting and chattering away.  was going lhome by 2ish. I remember nouthing at all. wengt VERY slmeooth smooth.,

Im, kind of itchy like a squirrel and my nose is cold like owne of the dogs. other tahn thaot, all good. Oh, and I/m typing sideways so I can ckkeep my leg elevated. hernce the total spazzyneass. I'm nto even going to try and make it pretty, just wanted to let every boudy know that all is well. thanks for all the well-wisghes.

I'm moving to the recliner now to watch osme tv and get something to eat. over and out

Posted by skwigg at 6:56 PM CST
Thursday, 22 February 2007
The Big Day

Surgery is tomorrow morning. I really thought that I'd be getting jittery by now, but so far nothing. I've been in a great mood all day. I ran around trying to get things done before I'm all dopey and immobilized. At the top of my list was straightening up the house and doing laundry. I want everything nice and clean and de-dogged when I come home from the hospital. The only obstacle to my cleaning scheme was the fact that the washer and dryer are in the basement... down a steep flight of stairs with no railing. I'm happy to report that I did not die. I pioneered a technique where I put the laundry in a pillowcase and hurl it down the stairs, then I crutch along after it one step at a time. Getting the stuff down there was easy, getting back up the stairs with large items like the comforter and the sofa slipcover was, uh, kind of tricky. Anybody watching me probably would have had a heart attack. But hey, if that guy with no legs can climb Mt. Everest, I can wash a dog bed.

I'm fidgety as ever. I do my knee exercises, pedal my bike, do push-ups and single leg squats, and swing from my pull-up bar. During my original pull-up quest, I only did them with an underhand grip. Now I've gotten more ambitious and I've been alternating sets of overhand, underhand, and mixed grips. I mix them up with sets of push-ups and dips. Then I do my single leg squats while holding onto a door frame with both hands so I don't tip over and tear something. I know my cardio conditioning has to be taking a major dive right now, but overall I feel really strong.

While scurrying about the house today, I looked up and found myself standing ten feet away from my crutches. Great! It's a miracle! My knee is stable, pain free, and I can walk - just in time for them to go in there and wreck it again! I suppose that was the plan all along, but it seems rather twisted.

It may be a few days before you hear from me again, or you may get hilarious drug-induced ramblings right away. Stand by. :-)

Posted by skwigg at 8:43 PM CST
Wednesday, 21 February 2007
Old Dogs Like Sunbeams

Posted by skwigg at 6:38 PM CST
Updated: Wednesday, 21 February 2007 6:39 PM CST
Saturday, 17 February 2007

For everybody who asked for descriptions of the exercises in Craig Ballantyne's 7-Minute Weight Loss Circuit , I looked up some links and video clips for you. Some of the demos show weights, but these would all be done without weight for the body weight circuit.


Reverse Lunge



Close-grip Push-up - that's the hand position, but obviously you would do these on the floor unless you're a weakling with Barbie arms. ;-)

Side Plank

Mountain Climber

Speaking of workouts. I lost my mind this morning and signed up for WorkoutPass.com. I wasn't going to because it's $99 and I really ought to quit spending money like a drunk sailor, but everybody's been talking about it and I can't stand the thought that I'm missing something. Since I'm working out at home now, I could use some new ideas to keep it fresh.

WorkoutPass.com gives you access to a collection of websites with thousands of workouts for every goal imaginable, and not like lame generic workouts, but proven routines from top trainers like Alwyn Cosgrove, Craig Ballantyne and Eric Cressey. There are MMA workouts, kettlebell workouts, body weight workouts, ab workouts, agility workouts, fat loss workouts. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, ... sorry, lapsed into a Forest Gump moment. Anyway, it's a TRUCKLOAD of workouts and a pretty impressive array of free goodies. I was looking through all the bonus e-books you get for joining. In addition to material from Gourmet Nutrition and Turbulence Training, there are like 27 more e-books that I don't own and don't have any idea what they are. I can't wait to download them all onto The Precious. :-)

All of the workouts include an animated demonstration of each exercise, which is nice because sometimes you just can't figure out what the hell people are talking about from a photo and a vague description. The animations make it really clear. What's hilarious though, is when you pull up the workout page, all of the little characters start going through their exercises at once. I nearly spit Diet Pepsi all over my keyboard because it reminds me of the hamster dance, dee dee dee da dee dee do do...

Posted by skwigg at 1:43 PM CST

Oh boy, here's how overwhelmed and distracted I've been lately. I forgot I broke my leg. I mean, I totally freaking forgot! I was at a pre-op appointment yesterday, and at the end of it my surgeon said, "And before you go I'd like to get another set of X-rays." I must have been giving him a perplexed look because he said, "Bone bruise? Tibial fracture? We need to make sure the crack healed." 

Trying not to appear totally retarded and dumbfounded, I mumbled something like, "Ah, yes, of course. Let's have another look at that." (Snork!!! Dying!!! Trying not to laugh!!! Why, no Doctor, I didn't forget I broke my leg. What kind of idiot do you think you're dealing with? ROFL) So, for those of you walking around just fine after your ACL injury and wondering why I had crutches and a brace, apparently, it's because I BROKE MY LEG. It's all coming back to me now. It didn't show up on the first set of x-rays but they saw it on the MRI. It wasn't a very big crack and we didn't spend much time talking about it, so uh, I guess it slipped my mind. Anyway, it's healed now... Skwigg says sheepishly while looking at the floor and kicking her feet back and forth.

I left the surgeon's office and went across the street to the hospital to meet with my anesthesiologist. First and foremost, I would like to say what in the hell is the deal with "new or expectant mother" parking? Since when do pregnant women need TEN front row parking spaces? Do they have broken legs? Use oxygen tanks? Need crutches? No, no they don't. Handicapped parking was full. I figured I didn't dare park in a "pulmonary patient with oxygen" space. So, I went back a few rows and crutched across the snow and ice, in the howling wind, cursing the new mommies. I finally made it to the entrance and stood wide-eyed in front of the biggest, most bad-ass looking revolving door that I have ever seen. To go for it or not to go for it, that is the question? I watched it turn a couple of times and took off grinning like a maniac. Hop, crutch, hop, crutch, hop, crutch... I'm in it! I'm going around! I'm doing it! Next thing you know I'm IN the lobby! Yay! And I didn't fall down, drop my crutches, get my head smashed or anything. :-) Once I was all the way through, I turned around and noticed the automatic doors for the disabled on either side of the wheel-o-death. Oops, hehe..

My anesthesiologist is funny and put me at ease right away. After reviewing my entire health history and telling me what to expect, he asked me if I had any questions. I explained to him that I watch a lot of television, and I've seen every one of those "aware under anesthesia" nightmare scenarios where people are awake and feel everything but they can't move or scream. (I could tell he was trying not to chuckle.) He patiently explained to me that if they're cracking open your chest or cutting into your abdomen, they give you something that causes temporary paralysis and keeps you from moving in your sleep. That's how somebody could be awake but unable to move and tell anybody. He told me with knee surgery, the only thing they're going to immobilize is my right leg. So, if I found myself at all "aware" under anesthesia, I could sit up and say, "Hey stop that! Or AAAAAAHHHHHGH!! Or whatever came to mind."

Good to know, good to know...

Surgery is on Friday and I'm looking forward to it. How crazy is that? I'm getting really tired of waiting around. I can't start recovering until I get the surgery behind me, so lets get on with it already! Plus, I get two or three weeks off work afterward. :-) I'll be on fully paid short term disability. The only unfortunate part of short term disability is that if you look at my posted work schedule, it lists me as STD for the next couple of weeks. I always snickered when other coworkers had an STD on the schedule. I'm very mature.

Posted by skwigg at 12:28 PM CST
Tuesday, 13 February 2007
Here are some bits and pieces from my recent e-mail conversations...
- Motivation and will-power are really overrated, perhaps totally useless. If you rely on having them, you'll never succeed long term. You'll only succeed for the month or day or minute that you can keep it together. It sounds weird but I'm not motivated to workout. I don't put even that much thought into it. I just do it. It's part of my day like breathing or brushing my teeth. Create enjoyable, maintainable daily habits that you look forward to and can carry out even when you're a basket case or life is hectic. Don't wait around for some day in the future when you'll get motivated enough to deprive and annoy yourself.

- Stop dieting. Seriously, stop it. As long as you're on a diet, you'll always go off of it. The more ridiculous and strict you diet, the bigger and more out of control your binges will be. If you want to succeed, start thinking like an athlete and not a dieter. Athletes need quality fuel at regular intervals. They don't go hungry, and because they're not hungry, they don't rebound binge. Because they lead active lifestyles, they can lose fat while eating a lot more than dieters. Because their sport is something other than weight loss, they don't measure their success or self-worth by the scale. If you've dieted all your life, thinking like an athlete is a bit of a leap, but once you get there its paradise.

Strength training is the real key to success. That's what will fix your metabolism, change the shape of your body, and allow you to eat satisfying portions and still lose weight. Boring steady-state cardio only burns calories while you're doing it. As soon as you stop moving, you stop burning calories. If you strength train and do some full-blast cardio intervals, you burn calories at an accelerated rate all day. If you plod along in the "fat burning" zone it's like rowing across a lake, as soon as you stop rowing you stop moving forward (stop burning calories and losing weight). Lifting challenging weights and doing short intense cardio intervals is like putting up a big freaking sail. Train smart (put up the sail) and you can kick back and relax the rest of the day while the afterburn from your workouts carries you toward your goal.

- I'm completely fascinated with what people eat. I was glancing through a weight loss blog recently, and my jaw actually hit my desk when I saw a typical day of food. It sounds like crazy talk from a crazy woman, but I often eat more calories than that person's *whole day* for my breakfast. Most women who have 100+ pounds to lose and any activity level at all, should be shooting for more like 1800-2000 calories for steady fat loss. Starving yourself will backfire horribly. It's the REASON for the cravings, failures, and out of control eating. Chronic dieters go, 1800 calories, oh that's so much food! It's not. Consistently eating 1800 calories a day is still a bigger deficit than eating 700 calories one day, 1300 the next, 1175 the next, and 14,385 on the fourth day when you lose your mind and eat an ice cream truck, a pizzeria, and half a bakery.

- If you look at nutrition as "now I'm dieting" and "now I'm maintaining" you may as well be going to Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig with the diet ninnies. Eat well all the time. Think of yourself as an athlete all the time. Athletes enjoy treats when they can get away with it and they cut them out when they need to for competition. At any given moment, a hundred times a day, you decide whether to lean out today, whether to maintain, or whether to indulge. You don't have to cling to one extreme or another; it's always going to be a matter of degree. If you're not getting results, you adjust things until you are. If you're getting results but you're starving and miserable, your body and subconscious will adjust things for you by strongly encouraging you to eat anything that isn't nailed down. You have to find the middle ground where you're eating well and seeing progress, but it's maintainable and you're happy.

In addition to answering lots of e-mail (while pedaling my bike, of course), I added a few new goodies to my store - books by Porter Freeman, Tosca Reno, Ferret Bob, and Dr. Oz. I also put up a 7-Minute Weight Loss Circuit by Craig Ballantyne that uses only body weight exercises and can be done anywhere. I can't do squats, lunges and mountain climbers right at the moment, but it looks fun. I'm on a push-ups/pull-ups/dips kick right now. It's a very time-efficient way to destroy my whole upper body, and it leaves me plenty of time for the hour or more a day that it takes to do all my knee exercises and rehab.

Stupid Nigel has become transfixed by the elastic band that I do my standing leg work with. I guess it makes a sound or something when it stretches. So, I'll be standing there on one good leg, kicking my other leg through space, and he will wrinkle up his forehead and get as close to the "squeaky" band as he can possibly get. So far, I've stepped on him once and kicked him three times. Contact generally occurs after I've run him off the first time. He'll leave and then he'll sneak up on it again with the tilted head and wrinkled forehead. It's like he's in some kind of a cartoon trance. Silly dog.

Posted by skwigg at 11:19 PM CST
Tuesday, 6 February 2007
Crutchy and the Pedal Exerciser









Here's a picture of me for the family and friends who wanted visual confirmation that I'm still alive and still a goofball. That's a check on both accounts. AND behold the pedal exerciser that UPS brought me today! I can put it under my desk and pedal it without hitting my knees or the paper shredder. In fact, I am pedaling right now while I type. It might possibly be the coolest thing ever! I just push the chair back a little and slide the keyboard and mouse forward a couple of inches. Oh joy! Oh happy knee!

I am also nearly giddy that I figured out how to do push-ups yesterday. They'd been vexing me because I couldn't decide how to get on the ground and back up without involving the injured knee in any way. Step 1) from a standing position, bend forward and put your palms on the floor. Step 2) slide your legs out behind you with ALL of your weight on the good leg and the injured one not touching the ground. Step 3) once you're in a push-up position, cross the foot of the boo-boo leg over the ankle of the good leg and rest it there fully supported. Step 4) do your push ups, stopping way before any chance of muscle failure. Step 5) uncross the bad leg and, using your core muscles, pull your good foot back up next to your palms and stand up. Caveat) if you don't have any core muscles, don't follow my silly directions because you're going to get down there and get stuck. I'm sure there's an alternate way to kind of sit down and roll over but I haven't worked that one out yet.

I posted some of these links in the comments section, but for anybody (a knee buddy - snort) who missed them, be sure to check out The ACL Injury Guide from The Mayo Clinic. It has lots of great information, including interviews and personal stories from people who have been through it. I'm also hooked on Bob's ACL Board. The kneeboard can be a little overwhelming with all of the strong (and often conflicting) opinions, but it's an incredible resource. Orthopedics.About.com has a big section on ACL injuries, and even a 7-Day e-course to bring you up to speed on all things ACL-related. And for the martial arts crowd, I stumbled across ACL Injuries in BJJ, Submission Grappling and MMA and it made me feel a lot better. It seems like damn near everyone has torn an ACL at some point and is still fighting.

I've heard from several people who have very recently mangled a knee. I feel your pain. Maybe we should create a "Start the New Year with Knee Surgery" support group for ourselves. :-) I know that if I dwell on how I injured it, I can still freak myself out and cause a full-body shudder and/or arm flap. If I dwell on surgery, crutches, braces, and all the uncertainties, I can make myself really anxious and unhappy. If I stay in the moment, I'm good. Because at the moment, there's nothing wrong. I'm fine, healthy, happy, enjoying a normal daily routine, and nothing hurts. Tomorrow, in the name of sticking to a normal routine, I'm going to a nice salon to get my hair cut and colored, crutches and all. Hopefully, I won't tumble into a shampoo sink or crutch my way into a floor to ceiling avalanche of hair care products. Be cool, be cool...

Posted by skwigg at 5:59 PM CST
Sunday, 4 February 2007
Bird Girl

This morning Michael was looking at my injured leg. He gasped and said that it's already smaller than the other one. He said that in a few more weeks I'm going to look like the witch in the Sinbad movie with one normal leg and one little bird leg. OMG, I rolled! And of course, once I quit laughing, I ran for a tape measure. Sure enough, the right leg is half an inch smaller. However, if I'm not mistaken, it was always half an inch smaller. Most people are slightly lopsided. I'll be watching it closely now to make sure it's not going all birdy on me. The physical therapist has me using elastic tubing and light weights for my pre-op exercises. I have some ankle weights but they're heavier than what she wants me to use. I puzzled a bit, and then I stuck a weighted boxing glove on my foot. Perfect! And I don't look like an idiot or anything.

I've been fascinated with the Tanita scale. I get on it all the time now to see what it's doing. It seems as though my whole body is going birdy on me. I'm only a couple of weeks into this and I'm already down to 137 lbs and 17% body fat on the Tanita, 14.9% with calipers. Yesterday, I pulled on a pair Levis without unbuttoning them and stood there amazed and horrified. I don't know whether to jump up and down (on my good leg) or go eat some Ben & Jerry's as a precautionary measure.

As far as body types go, I'm glad that I'm a weird little ectomoph who loses weight under stress. Actually, I'm an ecto/meso, but the muscular mesomorph side seems to check out when I'm not training really hard and eating like a horse. Oh well, I can always do a mother of a bulking cycle once my knee works again. I know I'm not getting anywhere near the 3,000 calories a day I was eating to maintain my weight. When you're on crutches, cooking or even carrying a plate of food is such a pain in the ass I can't even tell you. Several times, I've accidentally tipped my plate a little too far and watched the dogs devour my lunch like a pack of wild hyenas. After about the third time that happens, you resort to standing at the counter eating peanut butter with a spoon instead of trying to make a nice meal and carry it to the table. I am looking forward to a deluxe salad for Sunday brunch today. I'll have lots of veggies with sun dried tomato dressing, feta, cranberries, walnuts, crumbled bacon and hardboiled omega eggs. I'll make Michael carry it so the four-legged egg-suckers don't trip me and eat it all.

Posted by skwigg at 11:36 AM CST
Updated: Sunday, 4 February 2007 11:39 AM CST

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