Dreading Starting Over…AGAIN

Confession: This week was my first official workout back in the gym with weights since my 2nd surgery in October. And I was dreading it.

But let me tell you why.

I have been weight-lifting since I was in middle school. Obi-wan made sure I knew proper form and how to put a routine together so that when I was on my own, I wouldn’t be intimidated by my surroundings.

Kiana Tom, my first weight-lifting guru. Courtesy of Obi-wan, of course.

Kiana Tom, my first weight-lifting guru. Courtesy of Obi-wan, of course.

Ever since, I could be found pumping iron (snort) in the weight room at college, in Brooklyn, and now at NYU’s Palladium alongside the undergrads and jocks. I never shied away from lifting with the big boys, even the Broncos, and often found that I was the only gal in many weight rooms throughout my young life.

Wedding day Gun Show.

Wedding day Gun Show.

After this surgery, I dreaded getting back into the gym. I dreaded feeling weak AGAIN. Only being able to lift light weights AGAIN. Being so, so, SOOOOOOO sore AGAIN. Starting from Square One AGAIN.

I feel like I’ve started over so many times this year, I dreaded that feeling yet again in the weight room.

From walking with my drugs to running with my friends, starting over has been hard.

From walking with my drugs to running with my friends, starting over has been hard.

I know that there are many days of crazy soreness ahead as I attempt to build my muscles back up to where they were pre-op. I know that there is frustrating fatigue waiting for me, probably weekly, as I find my new limits.

But I also know that I gotta start somewhere and I gotta start NOW. Well, and I’m allowed to start now, according to my surgeon.

But if not now, when? It’s only going to get harder and harder to force myself back to the gym, so why not this week?

20lbs is what I can do? Then 20lbs it is.

20lbs is what I can do? Then 20lbs it is.

I’m already sore from the hamstring curls, static lunges, abductor raises, tricep pushdowns, straight bar curls, overhead presses, and seated rows I did on Tuesday. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take too long for me to start feeling like the animal I know I can be in the gym 🙂

Do you lift? Have you ever had to start all over again after a long absence? Do you dread the soreness the way that I do? Ugh. There’s sore and then there’s the soreness that only comes from being away for months at a time and having your muscles atrophy substantially to the point of being sore from carrying boxes up and down 4 flights of stairs.

I feel like such a wimp. Here’s to wimpyness!

Now go out and run!

Untitled (and really long)

I have thought long and hard about whether or not I would actually write this post. Then I hemmed and hawed about how much detail I would get into if I did decide to write it. In short, I have spent way too much time thinking about one blog post over the past two months.

Well, I’ve decided to share the part of my own journey that I feel is pertinent to this blog. It is, in fact, called Run Stronger Every Day and I am starting from Square One on the way to running again at all. Here goes: this is my journey from surgery to marathon.

Marathon #9…when will marathon #10 happen?

One month ago, I had a planned surgical event that was medically necessary and landed me in the hospital for five days (= FOR-EV-ER). I have never had a serious surgery or any other type of major medical event in my entire life. I’ve had my wisdom teeth pulled, which produced very adorable chipmunk cheeks and my very first case of hives, and I broke my pinky toe right before I left to be a camp counselor for the summer back in college. But that’s it.

The longest I’ve been away from running is one month back in 2009 because of my stupid left gluteus medius. But I could still bike and lift and swim and, you know, WALK. This surgery was major. No, really. It’s classified as “major surgery”. Walking would be a challenge, I was told. Weird.

I like spinning, I do. But running is my 1st love.

Funny aside: I knew I was ok with my decision to go ahead with the surgery when, after my Physics final three days prior, I only felt relief as I headed into the weekend. No anxiety about the surgery. No stress about the what-ifs. Just relief that Physics was finally over. Priorities, I suppose.

Drinks. There were a lot of drinks when I found out I passed Physics.

The morning of my surgery, I tried making jokes as the nurses and doctors hooked me up and stabbed me with needles of all sizes. My Mom, angel that she is, flew in to be with me and JB during my hospitalization. I was nervous, but not as scared as I thought I’d be. Probably because when I asked about a possible complication I’d read about my surgeon responded, ” That doesn’t happen in my hands.” Exactly what I want to hear!

Off I went to the operating room (which was a lot smaller than I expected) where I met my surgical team and briefly reminded my surgeon that I am a vain woman and small, neat scars would be greatly appreciated. He assured me he’d do his best and out I went.

I “woke” up to JB and Mrs. Obi-wan by my side once again in recovery, in the most immense pain I have ever felt in my life. Thankfully, now that I was awake, they could give me the good drugs. I definitely didn’t do any recovering in the “recovery room”. I kept hearing rumors the my room was “almost ready” but, not having any concept of time due to the wonderful narcotics, I was seriously perturbed that everything seemed to be taking so long.

The view from my room. Rainy New York days were just fine by me.

Shortly after I got to my room, my nurse told I was going to walk soon. I told her she was dreaming. I was in a tremendous amount of pain. Turns out, my pain treatment had briefly gone awry and OHMYGODWHYDOESTHISHURTSOMUCH?!?!?!!!! was basically what I said to her.  She fixed the problem, God bless her, and made sure I got several boosters so I could sleep.

These bruises were the result of my least favorite daily interruption: shots. Ouch. Maybe next time we choose a different place to torture? They lasted for nearly 3 weeks!

Early Tuesday morning, she woke me and said we were going for sure taking a walk before her shift ended. Still, the idea of heaving myself out of bed and walking was akin to climbing Everest. Me, a 9-time marathoner, often 2-a-day workout girl, thought that getting out of bed and walking seemed impossible. I was attached to an IV and several drainage apparatus but with the aid of the most wonderful nurse in the entire world, I walked. It was approximately 30 yards, round-trip.

They were the hardest steps I have ever taken in my entire life.

You know how you feel exhausted after a marathon? That’s how I felt. I hadn’t had food in three days, my surgery was four hours long, I was on serious pain management drugs and was terrified I wouldn’t make it.

I did. I made it. I made it to Day 2 and was getting a handle on my new body, new gear, and new surroundings.

The morning after surgery. See, Dad? I’m ok!

Day 2 was crazy. Between flower deliveries (my favorite!), emptying my various drains, an endless stream of checking my vitals, my surgical team making the rounds, figuring out how everything worked, social workers (yes, social workers…don’t know why), and the very awesome Dr. Boz and PAK stopping by to check up on me (how awesome are they?!), it was a whirlwind of activity in my room. I dozed on and off but woke up whenever I got a flower delivery 🙂

Pretty view from my room. The flowers everyone sent brightened every moment of my stay in the hospital.

With the help of the very awesome Mrs. Obi-wan, I walked even more on Day 2. I think we went to the entryway of my wing and back twice. Mom kept chatting about this beautiful mural as you walk onto my floor that I never got to see since I was only semi-conscious when I was brought to my floor. On day 3, I finally got to see it.

The very cool “Chalk Mural” depicting the World’s Fair in Queens, NY on my floor. It wasn’t actually chalk, but we never could figure out what it was.

But in order to get that far, they had to let me EAT REAL FOOD!

French toast never tasted so good.

French toast, turkey sausage and orange juice. Food, I missed you. I was so happy that I took a picture and sent it to my family. Being allowed to eat real food is a big marker post-surgery. I blasted by the “soft foods” order that my resident prescribed in less than 24 hours and was onto “normal diet” so quickly the food delivery lady couldn’t keep up with his orders.

My recovery went about as well as you could expect. I walked more and more, further and further. And while it was never really “easy” to get out of bed, once I was up I was able to make multiple laps on my floor several times a day. I was out of the hospital by Friday afternoon and home sleeping on my couch Friday night.

My pillow fort.

In all the fuss over my surgery, I had forgotten that my birthday was just days later. By then, I was showering and getting dressed all by myself, walking the streets of New York (with a bodyguard), and eating delicious takeout.

My birthday this year was a very laid-back celebration of survival, the gift of life, modern medicine and Sprinkles Cupcakes. I have never been so happy to have a birthday come as I was this year. Not only did it mark the end of a reeeeeeally trying year for me, but it was the kickoff to a year of entirely new adventures, new body and better health.

Happy birthday!
Doggie Howser

I am still not running. I am walking lots and hoping to maybe jump on a bike sometime this week, but I’m in no rush. I am respecting the healing process and allowing my body time to recover. When I do get back to running, it will be entirely different than it was before–and that’s ok. Things will feel different. I might move differently. God knows I’ll be slow as molasses. But I’ll be back and I will learn what it is to Run Stronger Every Day as the new me.

So, here I go. Starting from Square One, I am working toward running the Marine Corps Marathon this fall in Washington, D.C. for Team Fisher House. That’s right, a marathon. Will I make it? Don’t care. I will at least show up and run a few miles at my favorite race. If I have to drop out at some point, I don’t care. I will be there. I will run (a little or a lot). I will celebrate my life and do what I love: run.

I will run…and then we will celebrate!

So far, my journey back has taught me two things.

  1. The body is the most perfect instrument every created.
  2. I can do anything if I set my mind to it.

It’s not always easy. I get frustrated sometimes and the fatigue is more annoying than anything else. The days are not always sunshine and butterflies, though there have been an awful lot of double rainbows in the city lately.

RAINBOWS!! (picture shamelessly stolen from Erica Sara, who makes really beautiful jewelry)

The thing is, it had to be done so there’s no use being all upset about it. I’m going to be healthier for it. I’m already able to do more than I could before. And one day soon, I will Run Stronger because of this surgery. And for that reason, it will always have been worth it.

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Square One


I am slowly making my way back into the “normal” world, which includes getting back to some sort of “normal” blogging habits. These days, I have a completely different idea of what “normal” is for me and here I am, at Square One. The home of all things new, scary, uncharted, and otherwise completely unknown to me.

Square One is a scary place.

Starting a few weeks ago, I was working on walking. Yes, walking. Walking from here to there, up and down my block, slowly and scared of being pushed or shoved by one of my fellow New Yorkers. I was scared I would get hurt. I was scared I would get too far from the safety of my apartment and not have the energy to get back.

Square One is a humbling place.

When was the last time you needed someone else’s help to wash your hair? Can you even remember? I can. It was three weeks ago this Friday. As I traverse Square One, I had people cooking, cleaning, fetching things from the store, walking with me, helping me change my clothes and, yes, washing my hair. I am humbled by their kindness toward me.

Square One is a place for new beginnings.

Because of what I’ve been through, my life will be forever changed. I will never be the same and that is A-OK by me. I just assume (possibly overoptimistically) that I’ll come back even stronger from this. I certainly will have a perspective from the patients’ side that not many other run coaches, physical therapists and personal trainers have. The experience of starting over again at Square One is entirely unique.

Square One has offered me a chance to start over and in a better place than I was a month ago. Sure, it’s scary and humbling a totally new beginning. But the point is that it’s another chance. I get another chance to build from the ground up, to start at Square One and blaze past the finish line and into a whole new future as New and Improved Abby.

That’s my BTAT today. Here I am. Square One. And loving everything it offers.

How ’bout you? What’s your BTAT on this fine Tuesday? Have you ever been to Square One? Tell me all about it.

Now go out and run!