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Skwigg Blog
Sunday, 11 March 2007

My right quadricep has vanished. No sweep, no teardrop. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. My thigh looks like it belongs to one of those models in Shape magazine with no visible muscles. That used to be the leg of my dreams so I'm trying not to freak. And I'm not too terribly mismatched because my left leg has gone all bird-like too. I may as well be in outer space for all the weight-bearing I've been doing lately. I haven't walked in 7 weeks now. Yikes! Well, I'm starting to walk slowly with crutches, but it's still sort of pathetic. Soon I will be able to run and squat and do a bulking cycle. Something to look forward to this spring!

People I haven't seen in ages keep cautiously asking me how much weight I've gained since the injury. Silly people. I always lose weight when I'm sick or injured. Remember bronchitis a couple of years ago? I dropped 9 pounds in 7 days or something crazy. I think there are ectomorph genes at work. If I'm not eating a lot of calories and lifting a lot of heavy stuff, I start getting twiggy. I also realized that I'm not an emotional eater anymore. If I were still using food to entertain and comfort myself, a month at home in front of the television would be a disaster. After a few weeks, I'd become Larry, with a bucket on a rope to reel in takeout. As it is, eating is mostly a nuisance. I can barely carry anything on my crutches, and cooking is pretty limited. I can't stand at the stove for very long, and I've been forbidden to crutch with the butcher knife, boiling water, or glassware. Lately, I crutch-shuffle to the sofa with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on my plastic Scooby plate, and then I don't bother to eat again for six hours or so. Not real conducive to muscle-building.  

Since I noticed the quad situation, I've been making an effort to eat more often and keep my protein intake up. Yesterday, I stirred together tuna, apple, raisins and light mayo - the meal that most weirds out my husband. I've also become a big fan of these BumbleBee chicken breasts. They're fully cooked and come in a pouch like tuna. I can easily microwave them and stick them in a multi-grain wrap. I like the southwest one with lettuce, salsa, sharp cheddar, and a little sour cream. I eat the garlic and herb one with lettuce, swiss, and dijon mustard.

Oh, and I did a little crutch dance of joy at the grocery store today when I saw Chuck Liddell on the cover of Men's Fitness. Cool, eh?

God, I just had an idea. If I had a bucket on a rope, I could drag my food out of the kitchen instead of trying to carry it on crutches. Of course, the dogs would eat everything out of the bucket on my way to the living room. Maybe if my bucket had a lid...

Posted by skwigg at 10:59 PM CST
Thursday, 8 March 2007

I tipped over the recliner this morning. I sat on the edge of the seat to take my brace off and realized it would be easier with the foot rest up. I reached back and hit the lever, the foot rest sprang out, and with all the weight on the front of the chair, the whole thing flipped forward and hit the ground. I shrieked. From the basement, my husband yelled, "Are you alright?" Ripley, my supervisor/nursemaid/self-appointed bodyguard came running. I don't know what was going on in her little speckled squirrel mind, probably something along the lines of, "I'LL SAVE YOU, MAMA!" She made a flying leap into my lap. The weight and momentum of the airborne dog flipped the chair upright and it hit the ground with a huge thud. From the basement, my husband yelled, "What the hell was that?" and came running. Of course I couldn't answer him because I was having fits of silent stage laughter and there was a huge stupid dog standing in my lap licking my face like a maniac. Crazy Ripley. It's weird how closely she watches me now. It's like her new job. Every time I wince or gasp she comes running, and she really gets worked up if I tip over the recliner.

Do you know what my morning ritual is now? I get up, do my knee exercises, make breakfast, feed the dogs, take a shower, and all of that takes so long and so totally exhausts me that I then fall asleep in my recliner for two hours in front of Home & Garden Television. EVERY freaking day this happens. My brain cells are disintegrating right along with my leg muscles. I've become totally hooked on Real Housewives of Orange County. I stare glassy-eyed at Trading Spaces, Moving Up, and Flip That House. I yell out answers to 1 vs. 100 and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader. I'm totally turning into a nutty shut-in.

Did anybody else see I Eat 33,000 Calories a Day on TLC? There's this guy, Larry, who weighs over 700 pounds and hasn't left his apartment in ten years. If friends and relatives don't feed Larry enough, he calls for takeout on his cell phone. Larry can't get up and walk to the door, so he lowers a bucket on a rope out his apartment window. The delivery guy takes the money out of the bucket, puts the fast food in, and Larry reels his late night snack back up to his apartment. How crazy is that? And there was this other bedridden guy who was spending something like $28 a day on candy bars alone. And women who were eating enough food to gain three pounds a day, every day. They all assumed they were only eating 2,000-3,000 calories a day, but when you add everything up it was ten, twenty, thirty thousand calories a day. The whole thing freaked me the hell out, and made me kind of hungry for fried chicken.

Hey! Liz is back! For those of you who loved Granny Vibe, Liz has another blog called As the Tumor Turns. Yesterday, I turned off the television long enough to read every single entry starting from last November. I also fiddled around in my store and added some free e-books for your downloading pleasure. They're both by John Berardi. One Is PN Strategies for Success, which is a 43 page overview of Precision Nutrition, and one is Gourmet Nutrition Desserts, which is another 40 or so pages of healthy high-protein desserts. It's an add-on to Gourmet Nutrition, which is where I originally found such wonderments as S'mores Bars and Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. Bet you didn't know you could eat that stuff and still have abs! JB also posted a good Q&A in his blog about nutrient timing. I used to get a lot of questions about his recommendation to only eat starchy carbs post-workout. I personally eat starchy carbs whenever I feel like it on PN and still have great results. Finally, he explains the phenomenon.

Posted by skwigg at 10:55 AM CST
Sunday, 4 March 2007
Bread and Pain Pills

I saw my surgeon Friday and he gave me color photos of the inside of my knee! I have a before pictures of my ratty torn acl, and after pictures of my sturdy new hamstring graft in place. I have not posted these, partially because my scanner is acting flaky and partially because, well, it's blood and tendons.

The knee is feeling quite a bit better. I'm not yelping and twitching and miserable like I was the first week. I'm only taking pain killers at night and, for the most part, I'm comfortable. The biggest hurdle right now is that it's my right leg. I won't be able to drive until I can bend my leg and slam on the brakes. If it were my left, I'd probably be going back to work at the end of the week. Since it's my right, I've got a couple weeks of physical therapy before I'll be on the road again. In addition to the leg being weak and wobbly, occasionally I have a nerve torpedo where a burning pain zings down the back of my leg and explodes in a giant fireball when it reaches my toes. This causes me to thrash and cuss and hit myself in an attempt to put out the invisible fire. Michael witnessed one of my Tourrett's-like outbursts yesterday and goes, "Ok, I see why they don't want you driving."

I haven't exercised all week except for my physical therapy. And I've developed a very un-Skwigg-like new habit of eating a piece of bread every time I take my pain pills, even if it's 2:30am. It totally settles my stomach, and Nigel loves the wake up at night and eat bread ritual. I learned the hard way that you don't want to take four ibuprofen on an empty stomach and wash them down with orange juice and diet pepsi. Gah! Talk about heartburn! It was like the fires of Mordor!

With all the reclining and bread eating, I was getting worried about my body comp. I'd been afraid to get on the Tanita scale with my metal leg brace. I thought for sure I would short circuit it and sparks would fly out of the top of my head. Today I ditched the brace and checked the damages. There weren't any. I'm still at a fairly birdy 138 pounds and 18%. Maybe in a few days I'll lift some weights. For now, the constant crutching seems to be keeping my upper body pretty buff. My right leg, of course, is totally disintegrating. I'm developing the bizarre deformity known as "camel knee" where my knee is wider than the rest of my leg. Pretty.

I saw a totally fascinating article this week called, The Fashion Week Food Diaries. Two models, an editor, and a show producer wrote down everything they ate all week. There are 4 pages to the article, be sure to click through all the pages using the link in the bottom right. Really fun stuff! I LOVE seeing what other people eat. I marveled at the fashion editor who seems to live on nothing but supplements and alcohol. My eating most resembles that of the male model. Although, he wasn't having bread and Percocet in the middle of the night.

Posted by skwigg at 12:01 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, 4 March 2007 12:03 PM CST
The View from the Recliner

Here's my beat up little leg and googly-eyed Nigel setting his cow on the foot rest for me.

Posted by skwigg at 10:41 AM CST
Thursday, 1 March 2007
No Such Thing as Dull Pain

This is going to be quick because it's impossible to make my big dumb club leg comfortable while sitting at the computer. I have become one with the recliner. Through the magic of reclining, I can get my knee higher than my heart and get a little relief from the zinging, throbbing, aching, annoying, non-stop pain. Remember how a few days ago I was gushing about my fabulous doctors and the miracle of modern medicine? Forget it. They're bastards. LOL

A couple of days ago, I forgot to take a dose of pain medicine before bed. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning and it felt like a large animal with big dull teeth was CHEWING on my knee. I have a pretty stupidly high pain tolerance, but my head nearly spun around and flew off during the 20-30 minutes it took for the pills and ice to kick in.

I spend most of the day attached to my Polar Care cooler that circulates ice water around my knee. I load it with ice and water, plug myself in and turn the pump on. I feel like an aquarium. Last night I had a little mishap when freshening up my fish water. I pushed the cooler to the sink using my crutches. I set it on the counter, took the lid off, and attempted to pour the frigid water into the sink. Instead of pouring slowly, I dumped it, and a big tsunami exploded into the sink, over the kitchen counter, and all over me. I stood there dumbfounded and afraid to move. I was soaked and standing in the middle of an icy lake on slippery tile. My Keds were wet, my crutches wet, the floor wet, my teeth chattering. What to do? What to do? As I was standing there puzzling about how to move without breaking my neck, my husband came home and saved me. He has been promoted from helper monkey to knight in shining armor.

I started physical therapy. Good news there. I think the goal was to get my knee to 90 degrees flexion by the second week. Mine was already able to bend to 102 degrees just three days after surgery. Also, my quads work. Some people need electrical stimulation to get them to fire. Mine came on just fine as soon as the nerve block wore off. They feel a little wonky but they're strong and I have pretty good control over them. I see my surgeon tomorrow. Hopefully, he'll tell me that I need to take the entire month of March off work. ;-)

Posted by skwigg at 1:07 PM CST
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

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