Where I am One Year Post Knee Surgery

April 16th marks the one year anniversary of my knee surgery, and the day will be forever etched in my mind. I had so many thoughts in the days going into the surgery: I knew I would be able to run again, but I didn't know HOW my running would feel. Would I still be able to reach the goals that I have always desired? Would I still be able to crank out the quality of running that I know I am capable of, or would I be limited in my ability to run the way I love to run?

I was so scared, and yet I knew that God would provide a way. I had to trust God and trust my (amazing) orthopedic surgeon that the surgery would be successful and that I would be able to do the one thing that I love so much: RUN.

I am so blessed to have so many wonderful, caring friends in my life. When I started this journey, I met with a highly regarded orthopedic surgeon, who suggested a different type of surgery than I ultimately ended up having. The plan was to take stem cells from my hip bone and insert them into my knee. There would be a four month recovery and I would be able to start running again.

I believed in his approach, but thought getting a second (and third) opinion would be wise. It turned out that my dear friend's Dad is a radiologist. He immediately told me to send over my x-rays so he could take a closer look. Following that, he consulted his friend - a highly respected ortho surgeon in New Mexico. I also had another friend, whose husband is an ortho surgeon (but specializes in shoulder and elbow) take a look.
They all advised me not to have the surgery that the original surgeon suggested. They thought the procedure was risky and would ultimately not last - meaning I could run the chance of having another surgery in 10 years, and possibly suffer from arthritis. Crazy, right?

Another wonderful friend stepped in. Her husband knew an amazing ortho surgeon that I should meet with. This doctor works with many professional athletes and we felt confident that he would have the answer that I needed.

It turned out that he was indeed the one. He proposed what seemed like a flawless plan: take a piece of cartilage out of the good part of my knee and insert it into the trouble spot. You see, I had what's called an osteochondral defect in my knee (essentially a pot hole) and that was causing extreme pain when I would begin running. I also had a pretty large piece of torn cartilage in the knee. As a long distance runner, there was no choice - either have the surgery or enjoying only walking for the rest of my life.

One important note: what caused this defect? I was afraid that it was something I had done by training too soon after having my third baby. I didn't know the answer, but many thoughts begin running through my head. I started base training for my 6th marathon when Elle was just over 13 months old and would go on to run a marathon when she was 19 months old. It ended up being an extremely tough race and I would run a 3:32, which I was very disappointed in and thankful for all at the same time.

My doctor told me the defect had been hanging around for years and he didn't have an explanation for what caused the problem.

The surgery seemed like it was successful, but I was still anxious about the end result - running again.
Blessings surrounded me at every turn and my family was amazing. Jerold, my best friend in the whole world, my rock, my love. He has been beyond amazing throughout this entire journey. He never stopped believing in me and he never doubted that I could do whatever I set my mind to. My recovery was hard - I guess as hard as any surgical recovery. I was in a lot of pain the first 7 days after my return home. A lot of pain meds, not putting any weight on my leg and hours upon hours on the CPM machine...

My parents stepped in to help in a major way. Helping us to cook, clean, take care of our very young kids and driving me to physical therapy several times a week. I can't begin to thank them enough for their love and support over the months and months of my recovery.

I was blessed again with the most amazing physical therapist. Rob became more than my therapist - he became my friend and cheerleader. He was always positive, always kind and never stopped believing in me. He also pushed me harder than I ever though I could be pushed. There were so many times where I thought: "I can't do one more single leg jump!!" And he told me matter of factly: "If you want to be ready to race 26.2 miles, you will do another jump.

Rob kicked me out of PT in February. I still miss going :)

Then there is my coach. You've heard (or read) me talk about my coach a lot. I wouldn't be where I am today and running the way I am running without my coach, Mark Hadley.
I first contacted Mark in December, 2014. I e-mailed him to see if he would be interested in working with an injured runner and explained the situation. He was so kind and said he would love to work with me. I immediately (this is 4 months pre surgery) started pool running, working on the stationary bike along with a lot of core exercises. At that point, we didn't know that I would have to have surgery and were hoping that taking 6 weeks off would heal the problem. 
Ultimately, I had surgery, a long summer of recovery and then I started working with Mark again in September 2015. Again I was nervous - how in the world would I be ready to run Boston in April after being sedentary for so long? Would my knee hold up with the type of training I needed to do to achieve my goals? 

Another note: I will talk about my goals for Boston next week after I receive the plan from my coach.

Inch by inch, I followed his plan and week by week I got stronger and stronger. I am so thankful to him for guiding me where I am right now.

10 days from the Boston Marathon and ready to run the race of my life.

The morning of my surgery and I haven't stopped smiling since!

Running makes me so incredibly happy - it truly completes me. It makes me a fun loving wife and a great Mom to my kids. Running makes me smile, it makes me truly happy to frolic though nature and let my thoughts wander. To feel the rush of fresh air through my lungs is truly a gift. 

I know that I will run my hardest on April 18th. There will be times that it will hurt and it will be tough. But there are so many people who are rooting for me and filling my life with their joyful words.

I will not disappoint them.

I have met friends I never thought I would meet through - social media! Who would have thought? I am grateful for them, and for all of you who take a moment to read my blog. 

Thank you.

Lastly, I will run hard for my friend Lesley (she ran Boston in 2014), who I wish with all my heart could be here.

First run after surgery - August 22, 2015

I know this is a long post, so thank you for taking the time to read. 

We all have challenges and obstacles, but we are strong. We are resilient. And we can do anything we put our mind to.

Dream Big!

Happiness Is Running Life.


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