Hello from the otherrr siiiiiddddeeee…of shoulder surgery! I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while and I’m really sorry if this post is a weird jumble of thoughts that don’t make any sense – you’ll see why that may be the case in a moment.
I had surgery to fix my shoulder last Wednesday, November 1. If you recall, my orthopedic surgeon was not sure exactly what procedure they would be doing since he wasn’t sure the MRI was showing him everything that he needed to see. However, he was pretty sure that it would be a simple clean-up procedure to remove scar tissue and fix some micro-tears.
The reality ended up being somewhere in the middle of the best case and the worst case scenario. It wasn’t a simple clean-up procedure, but I also didn’t need major repair to significant tears in my labrum or rotator cuff. My surgeon ended up cutting off part of my collar bone (which had deformed due to years of chronic issues in my shoulder and possibly the fracture I had as a teenager), removing my bursa (a protective sac that keeps the bone and tendon from rubbing together), and cleaning up a bunch of micro-tears in my rotator cuff. When bursa become inflamed for long periods of time, they can become incapable of returning to normal size. The inflammation can cause nerves to pinch and a host of other problems. However, bursa regenerate! So, if you remove an inflamed bursa, it will grow back in a few months and be back to normal. Yay!
I started physical therapy (again) two days after my surgery, and it’s going well. I’m very diligent about doing all of my exercises, icing as told to, and basically just being a good patient. I’m seeing improvement every day and while my shoulder is very sore still, my range of motion is getting a lot better. It’s certainly hard to imagine lifting weights anytime soon, but I know I will get there eventually. So, the shoulder part of the recovery is going well!
What’s not going well is the recovery of the rest of me. I have been completely and totally wiped out by this surgery. I have nearly fallen asleep while standing up on multiple occasions, have no appetite whatsoever, and am having a hard time forming coherent thoughts. Entire blocks of time are completely forgotten in a weird fog. We went to a wedding in New Jersey this past weekend (2 days after my surgery…bad idea) and let’s just say I have little to no recollection of the entire thing. I’m sure it was nice, though.
Lest you think it’s the painkillers, it’s not – I haven’t taken any in the past few days, and even before that, they are the same painkillers I take for my back. I’m used to them and they have never affected my thoughts or energy level in any way. I honestly feel kind of like I felt when I had pneumonia before I went to Africa, except that I can breathe. It’s that full-body exhaustion and I can’t seem to shake it. That’s why I haven’t blogged, posted to social media, etc – it just seems too tiring. The thought of even filming a 15 second Instagram story is currently beyond me.
So, recovery has been…weird! But, I’m very optimistic about my shoulder feeling a lot better once this is all over. Now, if only I could stay awake past 8 pm and had any inclination to eat before dinner time, that would be great.
This week brought my first race since the Wine Country Half Marathon back in July! It’s really hard to believe it has been that long, but I guess between my trip to the Tour du Mont Blanc and becoming a foster parent, time got away from me! This was an exciting week, full of PRs in the gym, a new trophy, and of course, the half marathon! Let’s get to it.
Monday, October 23, personal training – chest and back: The main thing I remember about Monday’s workout is being annoyed by how limited I was by my shoulder. I am trying to focus on getting a workout in that is the best of my abilities as they currently are and not worrying abut what they used to be, but sometimes that’s easier than others. In this workout, I was busy being annoyed by my weights being cut 50-75% and just didn’t have a great attitude. I vowed to change that for the rest of the week!
Tuesday, October 24, 4 mile run: Mornings this week have been COLD and dark! Pearce and I only had a couple runs on the schedule for this week thanks to getting ready for the half marathon. I had plans after work that prevented me from going to the gym, and I mentor at lunch on Tuesdays, so a run was all I could get in for the day. It went well and I felt like Saturday would be a good running day!
Wednesday, October 25, personal training – legs, kickball: Man, I crushed leg day this week! It has been a few solid weeks in a row, but this week, I hit a new milestone – I set a PR on the single leg press! A few months ago, I was able to do 180 pounds on the single leg press, but then, I suddenly started having trouble with that weight or even 135 pounds. I don’t do that machine often, but wasn’t successful at breaking through my plateau until this week, when I hit 225 pounds! It was pretty exciting and while it was super challenging, I did it!
Then, we had kickball playoffs on Wednesday night. If we won our games, we would be playing 3 games in one night. Originally, I was only going to be kicking and running since I can’t throw the ball because of my shoulder, but then, one of our girls got hurt and I had to play catcher. The horror!! We won our first game by 10, but the second game ended up being 14 INNINGS LONG. It was almost a 2 hour long game! We were down by a lot but came back (I scored a few runs to help!) and then the teams ended up in a deadlock tie that lasted for 7 innings. Finally, we won! Then, it was on to the championship. I played catcher the entire game (although fortunately didn’t have to do much – would have been a disaster) and we ended up winning!! Back to back kickball champs!
Thursday, October 26, personal training – biceps, triceps, and shoulders: Gosh, you ever have those days that just suck at the gym? I don’t very often, but this was one of them. Everything felt hard – even weights that are normally easy. I just wanted it to be over!
Friday, October 27, personal training – deadlifts: I was supposed to run on Friday morning also but woke up with a horrible migraine that was making me extremely dizzy. I was having a hard time getting dressed and putting my clothes on, let alone running! So, I took some of my emergency migraine meds and back to bed I went. I felt a lot better after a few more hours of sleep and made it to the gym during my lunch break. Friday’s great workout made up for Thursday’s crappy one! My deadlifts are sloowwwwly but surely getting stronger. I have to be super careful with them because of my back, but I was able to do 115 pounds without any twinges or anything this week. Sumo squats with a 70 pound kettlebell, too!
Saturday, October 28, Spinx Runfest Half Marathon: Ahh, race day! I have to say, it is so nice to do hometown races. The race didn’t start til 8, so Pearce and I didn’t have to leave til 7. They have changed the course a LOT since I ran the marathon in 2015, and the half marathon is now a beautiful tour of some of Greenville’s nicest neighborhoods and parks. It’s also SUPER hilly! Pearce and I had a great time running together and actually finished a few minutes faster than we expected – 2:07:29. Hopefully I’ll get a race report up this week!
Sunday, October 29, OFF: A rest day well earned!
LEAVE A COMMENT: Did anyone else race this weekend?
With my first full week back to normal since our foster son left, I was determined to make the most of my time this week and try and get back on my usual schedule! I was aiming for running 3-4 times and making it to the gym all 5 days of the work week. What are the chances that happened?
Monday, October 16, personal training – legs: My shoulder was bothering me a lot after my long run on Sunday, so doing anything involving my upper body at the gym seemed unwise. Therefore, I hit legs with my trainer. It was one of those workouts where I’m not even really sure that anything I did was that hard, but I was still sweating profusely at the end. I don’t take many breaks between sets and that’s usually fine, but it leaves me a sweaty mess on leg day!
Tuesday, October 17, personal training – arms and shoulders: Obviously, there’s not much left I can do by way of shoulder workouts anymore, so I mostly use very light weights for anything involving my shoulders, like lateral raises or front raises. My range of motion is also way limited now. But, there are still plenty of other exercises I can do, like lots of bicep and tricep work where my shoulder is stable. My favorite right now? Tricep push-downs – I’m up to 80 pounds on those!
Wednesday, October 18, 3 mile run, personal training – deadlifts/backbody: So, my run on Wednesday morning was absolutely terrible. I thought it would be delightful because it was cold out – low 40s! – but it was not. My legs felt like lead, I took a million walk breaks, my shoulder hurt, and I just wanted it to be over as quickly as possible. Thankfully, my strength training workout was much better! I am definitely getting better at deadlifts now that we dedicate an entire workout to them. My flexibility is still sad and pathetic, but thankfully, hundreds upon hundreds of elevated deadlifts are starting to change that. Just don’t expect me to enter any weightlifting competitions anytime soon!
Thursday, October 19, 3 mile run, personal training – chest and back: I am an idiot who does not understand fall weather. For some reason, I thought that because it was cold in the morning, it would also be cold if I went running at lunch time despite the high temperature for the day being around 78. Spoiler alert: it was not cold. I haven’t run in full sun in months (since probably April?) and wow, that was brutal. Sadly, it was still faster and better than Wednesday’s run, but my shoulder hurt just the same. For the gym, I stuck to a chest and back workout. Gone are the days of tons of bench presses and pushups, though. Exercises where I used to use 50 pounds of weight now use 25. It’s a little depressing.
Friday, October 20, 3 mile walk, personal training – legs: My shoulder hurt too much on Friday to run, so Pearce and I went for a walk instead to enjoy the weather. Personal training was leg day again since my shoulder wasn’t doing well and we didn’t want to push it. I ended up killing it on the leg press – 360 pounds for 15 reps! I know I could have done more, but it was at the end of my workout. I was also able to do a squat machine (that puts the weight over your shoulders rather than across your spine) and did 180 pounds easily. It made me kind of sad because I realized that if I was able to do REAL squats, with a bar across my shoulders, I’d probably be pretty good at them. But alas, we will never know. I was nice and sore the next day.
Saturday, October 21 – OFF: AJ and I had foster care training from 9 am to 4 pm an hour away, so it seemed like Saturday would be a good rest day. Unfortunately, sitting in one place for an entire day definitely made the soreness in my legs worse, but oh well. At least my shoulder didn’t hurt!
Sunday, October 22, 8 mile run: Finally, our last long run before the Spinx Half Marathon! My physical therapist taped up my shoulder pretty heavily on Friday, so I had support for my run. It wasn’t my best run ever, but the weather was nice and the company was great. Less than a week to go until the race!
So, shockingly, I DID hit my goals for the week! I had hoped to get one more run in, but I still got 3. I have to say, I can’t believe how much free time I have now without a 5 year old running all over the place! Of course, things are still busy, but it is a lot easier to fit workouts in when you don’t have to take childcare into account. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts!
LEAVE A COMMENT: Did you hit your workout goals this week?
If you’ve been reading my blog for about five minutes, you know I’m not the world’s most medically lucky person. Since 2013, I’ve had a stomach surgery to fix a faulty stomach valve, back surgery, gall bladder surgery and now…shoulder surgery? Prior to that, I had surgery on my knee and my appendix removed. You know when you go to the doctor’s office and they ask you to write down all the surgeries you’ve had on the intake forms? I had to write on the back of the paper yesterday. It’s ridiculous.
While there once was a time when I detailed every little aspect of my life on this here blog, that day has long gone now that I have actual responsibilities in my life. Therefore, it probably seemed pretty random a few months ago when I just casually through into a post that I’ve been having problems with my right shoulder for ages, but had never mentioned it before. Well, here’s the back story.
When I was about 15, I fell off my horse and broke my collarbone on my right side. I landed on my shoulder and there was some talk about whether I had done any other damage, but I ended up just putting my arm in a sling and going about my business. About 5 years ago, when my friend Amanda and I used to go cycling all the time, I noticed that my right shoulder always bothered me a LOT when I was riding. It usually happened within about 10 minutes of getting on my bike, but it only hurt when I rode, so I didn’t think much of it. I just assumed I had terrible posture or something, because, well, don’t we all? I think that’s what CNN articles tell me.
Then, two years ago, when I started teaching barre, I started having a significant amount of pain when I lifted or lowered my right arm (think holding your arms overhead in crescent lunge). The rest of the time, it didn’t bother me. Then, at the start of this year (after I had mostly quit teaching barre), the pain started to get worse. I was having a lot of pain in my neck and running down my arm, and I started having bad headaches. My arm and hand would go numb if I lifted my arm. I assumed there was something wrong with my neck and that it was affecting my head and arm – it never really occurred to me that my shoulder would be the issue. Well, to make a long story short, I went through quite a complicated process this summer after my headaches became unbearable. I was referred to a neurologist and a physical therapist. The neurologist took MRIs of my head and neck and said that I have bad migraines, but my neck is fine (thankfully!), and the pain in my arm, shoulder, and neck is unrelated to my headaches. My physical therapist started focusing on my shoulder, which she had suspected all along was the problem. After 4 months of physical therapy, I got an MRI done on my shoulder a few weeks ago that revealed I have several cysts, tendinosis (degeneration of your tendons), bursitis, and some possible tearing in my labrum and rotator cuff. YUCK.
No one knows how this happened. It could be as a result of breaking my collarbone so many years ago, but we don’t really know. Regardless, it has been getting worse and worse to the point of keeping me awake at night and even causing pain when I’m doing things like pushing a shopping cart. It hurts when I run more than a few miles, too. The pain runs down my arm and up my neck, and it hasn’t improved despite several months of physical therapy, changing my workouts at the gym, and generally doing a lot less. So I finally went and saw an orthopedic surgeon who said, in just so many words, that I’ve done my due diligence and my shoulder is not going to fix itself at this point. He said it’s perfectly fine for me to keep trying physical therapy if I want to go that route, but if it hasn’t helped at all in 4 months, it’s probably not going to solve the problem. So that means that yes, it is time for another surgery. Sigh.
The good news is that it is probable that this isn’t a “repair” surgery and is more like a “clean out” surgery, he thinks. That means my recovery time shouldn’t be too terrible – I can get back to the gym in about a month. Of course, there is a chance that once they get in there, the situation will change (as it did with my back surgery) and they’ll end up needing to repair more, and then it will be a pretty long recovery. But I figure I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
Me being me, I obviously planned my surgery around important events like foster care training (it’s endless) and my upcoming half marathon on October 28th. I’ll still be able to run as long as I get my shoulder taped up by my physical therapist before I go. So, I’ll get the ol’ shoulder fixed on November 1. I’m actually pretty excited and looking forward to feeling a lot better soon. If there’s one thing I’m good at, unfortunately, it is recovering from surgery. So, I’m really optimistic about the outcome. I know that once the problem is fixed, if I stay really diligent with my therapy like I always do, I’ll be feeling a lot better very soon. And THAT means I can get back to improving my strength in the gym! Hooray!
In case you haven’t figured out from the title of this post, AJ and I have a big announcement! Probably the biggest announcement in the history of my entire blog. We will be opening our home and becoming foster parents at the end of this month! We started the licensing process back in April 2017 and figured it would take about a year to complete, giving us plenty of time to wrap our brains around the prospect of our entire lives changing. Spoiler alert: it did not take that long. I have a whole separate post coming on all of the nitty gritty details of the licensing process, in case you’re curious. But today, I want to tell you about what led us to this decision, how our feelings about it have changed, and what we think about it now. Brace yourself, this is a looonnngg post.
As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to adopt children. I guess you can say I feel “called” to do it. I would consider having biological children if it was important to my partner, but the one thing I knew for SURE was that I would adopt someday. I didn’t know from where or what ages or genders or races, but adoption was non-negotiable. I have made this abundantly clear in every relationship I have ever been in. Over the years, I’ve been very intentional about checking items off my bucket list (like trekking in Nepal, visiting New Zealand, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, seeing Victoria Falls, and going on safari in Africa) because I knew that I did not want to start a family feeling like I had missed out on something I really wanted to do. As I’ve now checked most of the HUGE things off my list, I’ve started feeling more settled and a little bit more ready to slow my life down, so AJ and I started tossing around the idea of starting a family. Without getting into every detail of the conversation, we decided to start by becoming foster parents.
Talking it Over
I’m not going to lie – there were mixed feelings about this decision at first. I feel extremely called to foster/adopt, whereas AJ came from a place of what would best be described as ambivalence. He wasn’t a hard no, but he also wasn’t super excited about it. We decided that it would make sense to start the licensing process, go through the required training, and see what we decided at the end of that process. If we were not both fully on board, we would not go through with it and would explore other options instead. To make a long story short, AJ got on board pretty quickly. Once he saw the statistics and numbers, started hearing what these kids go through, and started learning about what we could actually expect (versus the extreme horror or unrealistic success stories you usually hear), he agreed – we have to at least give it a try.
This is not a decision we came to lightly. We have thought through and discussed every aspect of this change that we can think of time and time again. After all, our lives are pretty cake right now – we travel whenever we want, go out to dinner, have expendable income, etc. It’s easy, you know? But then I think – how can we not take this opportunity? We have the time, the means, and the space. How can we turn away from these kids, just so we can travel more and go out to dinner whenever we want? There’s nothing wrong with making that choice, and of course, nothing is that simple. I know we will miss the way life was before, probably a whole lot. But I feel like we have to try, because there are kids suffering and not enough good foster families out there. We feel like we can be a good resource for kids and families in need.
At the beginning of the licensing process, we (although mostly me) were extremely nervous about what we might be getting ourselves into. Part of that was just having no experience with parenting in general (what do kids even do these days?), but another part was a deep-seated fear of being totally ill-equipped to handle behavioral issues that might arise due to trauma that the kids have faced. We (and again, mostly me) wanted this to work so badly – we see fostering as a long term thing – and I was terrified that we would become parents to a child with behavioral issues well above our pay grade and we would fail them. After reading more books on parenting kids from trauma backgrounds and attending numerous training sessions, I can now say that we don’t really worry about that anymore. We believe we have the tools and resources we need to help these kids unpack their emotional baggage. That’s not to say it won’t be hard, because of course it will! But now, it seems possible. Now, we (and again, mostly me, because AJ worries about nothing) worry about things like not knowing how to register a child for school. Does anyone know how to do that, by the way?
One thing I’ve noticed over the course of my research and attending the trainings is that we have come to foster care a bit differently than many families in our area do. There are all sorts of reasons why families foster children, but here in the Upstate of South Carolina, there seem to be two big ones based on our experience: Christians feel called by the Bible to do it, or people struggling with infertility hope to grow their families through foster care and adoption. Neither one of those apply to us since we’re not Christian (AJ is Catholic, but that’s not Christian in the south – seriously) and, as far as we know, we are not struggling with infertility. So, that has left us in kind of an awkward spot. We have entered foster parenting with the simple intention of helping children and families who need it – nothing more, and nothing less. We are not fostering with the intention of adopting, although we are open to the possibility if the right circumstances presented themselves. The reality is that something like 50-70% of children who enter the foster care system are reunited with a biological family member at some point, and reunification is the goal of the foster care system, as it should be. We view foster care as hopefully a long term commitment on our part and not something that will end when our family, adopted or biological, reaches a certain size.
There’s a whole lot that happens when you begin the licensing process to become foster parents, but one of the big things is that you decide what ages and genders you would like to foster. When we started thinking about it, we had absolutely no idea! Our application initially said we were open to kids ages 0-18 which, needless to say, is a pretty big range. We had no clue what was right for us! After talking with our licensing coordinator and doing a lot of soul searching, we ultimately decided to open our home to boys and girls ages 4-11. Basically, elementary school age (kids here can start kindergarten at 4). Our primary reason for choosing this age range had to do with a couple factors. First, with both of us working full time and the logistics of the day care system as it pertains to foster care, we felt that we could not reasonably care for children that were below school age. Second, given the fact that we are relatively young (31 and 29), we felt that taking on teenagers would be challenging with no parenting experience whatsoever. We definitely see ourselves working with teens in the future (there is a huge need!) but we wanted to get some experience under our belts first.
After deciding on an age range, gender, and the number of kids (we are starting with 1 but will eventually bump up to a sibling set) you are willing to accept, you then fill out an expansive checklist that talks about a huge range of medical issues, behaviors, and more that you are willing or unwilling to accept. So, for example, the checklist might ask if you are willing to accept a child with a learning disability or a family history of learning disabilities. If you say yes, you then have to say whether you are willing to accept mild, moderate, or severe forms. The list covers everything from cancer to hearing loss to food hoarding issues and mental illness and everything in between! This list helps the licensing coordinator write your home study (the giant report that talks about what you would be like as parents), which the Department of Social Services uses to match a family with a child. Of course, there are many times when a child may come into the foster care system and have issues that are not immediately known about or discovered, so there are no guarantees, but the list helps frame what you do and do not feel comfortable handling.
One thing that is super important to note is that there are very strict rules about sharing identifying information online or on social media about the kids in our care. Namely – we can’t do it at all. So there will never be identifying photos, names, or stories on this blog or any of my social media accounts. I will share some of the ups and downs with you as I can, and I’m happy to answer any questions about the process, but if you are looking for juicy stories about the biological families and why the kids are in care, you won’t find them here.
As I mentioned, we’ve been reading, training, watching videos, and more for months now to get ready. Are we really ready? No, definitely not. But at this point, we feel as ready as we possibly could without having any parenting experience. We have got the kids’ room ready and are slowly accumulating all the gently used clothes, toys, and books we can find. After all, 4-11 is a big age range! We will be opening our home at the end of August but have no idea when we will receive our first placement or how long it will last. We know it will be a whirlwind trying to adapt to becoming parents overnight, so we are trying to enjoy the calm before the storm for now.
The Answer to the Question You’re Asking Yourself Right Now
“Are you really prepared to give up travel?” Of the few people who knew we were becoming foster parents prior to me publishing this post, every single one of them has asked me this question. It’s a fair question, to be sure. And the answer is “sort of.” I am fully prepared to give up traveling the way I do right now, which is constantly and by myself to crazy places for weeks at a time. I’m ready for that because, as I mentioned, I’ve checked the big things off my bucket list already – that was intentional and planned with parenthood in mind. However, one thing we believe we have to offer kids is the opportunity to see and experience the world, and we are hopeful that we will be able to take trips with our foster children as often as the circumstances allow. There will be some kids who are not in a place where they can handle the stress of a changing environment, so in those cases, we won’t. But when possible, we fully intend to take them with us, whether it is to a wedding in New Jersey or Washington DC or out to Utah for a marathon. That said, we also plan to take breaks between each long term placement in order to take a breath and regain a sense of “normal life” for a while – probably a couple months. So, I’ll do big trips during those breaks. Don’t worry, your favorite globe trotter is not giving up the travel lifestyle anytime soon! It just might look a little different.
What about running?
To be honest, I have no idea what my workouts will look like once we become foster parents. I know that my days of two-a-day workouts are probably over. I know I’ll likely be doing early mornings and lunchtime workouts only. But I also know how important working out is for my body and my mind, so I plan to make it a priority to the extent that that is possible. It will depend on the child in our home, but I know I will be healthier mentally and physically (and a much better parent) if I can workout regularly. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what that ends up looking like!
Yup, it’s happening.
At this point, we’re just ready to get started and figure it out as we go. We vacillate between feeling ready and excited and completely terrified and like we’re making a huge mistake. I think that’s probably normal. I don’t know how long we will last or how good we will be, but we’re ready to give it a try. I look forward to taking you along for the ride!
LEAVE A COMMENT: I’d love to hear your questions or thoughts about foster care. Have you ever considered becoming a foster parent? What information do you want to know about the process?
Hello from the otherrr siiiiiddddeeee…of shoulder surgery! I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while and I’m really sorry if this post is a weird jumble of thoughts that don’t make any sense – you’ll see why that may be the case in a moment. I had surgery to fix my shoulder last Wednesday, NovemberRead more
This week brought my first race since the Wine Country Half Marathon back in July! It’s really hard to believe it has been that long, but I guess between my trip to the Tour du Mont Blanc and becoming a foster parent, time got away from me! This was an exciting week, full of PRsRead more
With my first full week back to normal since our foster son left, I was determined to make the most of my time this week and try and get back on my usual schedule! I was aiming for running 3-4 times and making it to the gym all 5 days of the work week. WhatRead more
If you’ve been reading my blog for about five minutes, you know I’m not the world’s most medically lucky person. Since 2013, I’ve had a stomach surgery to fix a faulty stomach valve, back surgery, gall bladder surgery and now…shoulder surgery? Prior to that, I had surgery on my knee and my appendix removed. YouRead more
Recently, I was interviewed by NordicTrack as part of their series on treadmill running along with several other running bloggers! If you’ve been following my training over the last few months, you know that I used the treadmill as a (very helpful) tool to get speed work and runs in during the hot, humid summerRead more
This week, I tried to focus on just taking it one day at a time. I knew it would be hard to get in many runs because of my schedule, which was obviously not ideal. With getting my foster son ready to go back home, work travel, and a bunch of appointments, this was theRead more