Hello folks!

Yesterday, I was supposed to be scheduled for 3rd surgery to remove 30% of meniscus from my right knee.  I cancelled it a bit over a week ago at doctor’s office.  Here is a story: Last February, I signed up for outdoor guided rock climbing last February and I couldn’t climb due to little strength in my right leg.  I didn’t noticed it by then because I was able to walk and climb up and down with little difficult.  However, to climb vertically was entire different game for my legs.  I decided to focus on building strength in my thigh areas.

This past March, I began to experience some swellings and pains in my knee.  I think my meniscus may have shifted while doing a deep lunge training.  Swellings and pains went away and returned several times between March and April.  UGH…..In first two weeks of May, my knee was in constant pain and swelling.  That was bad enough that I had to grip on the rail to climb up and down supported.  Oh my gosh….I threw in towel and went to see my doctor in mid-May.  He wasn’t happy upon seeing my swollen knee.  MRI has been ordered.

My MRI results returned and it didn’t look good for my meniscus – it wasn’t healed properly and still in tattered shape.  He said that the last option is to have 30% of my meniscus removed which will set my development of arthritis earlier than normal and candidate for total knee replacement earlier than normal.  OH MY GOODNESS…..I was in terrible pain that I said ok, let’s do the surgery.  I thought about my prior commitments and decided to kept them up to end of August.  I sadly told Ad-Cane and his fiancee that I wasn’t able to join them celebrating their wedding in Croatia.  I also had to drop attending Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany with my friends once again.  :(

I didn’t gave in though.  I was continued to work on my knee by doing yoga, stretching, home exercises, applying essential oils and eating more of antiflammatory food.  Over the summer, I began to notice pain gradually reduced, swelling went down and flexibility slowly regained.  Ohhhhh……I read some articles and spoke to some people.  Some of my friends gave me some advices and recommendations.  I am grateful for them for their supports.  By beginning of August, I began to consider to postpone or cancel my surgery because once part of my meniscus is gone, it is gone FOREVER.  I thought to myself that I should try some more options and move surgery as last resort as it is supposed to be.  As the appointment of my doctor started to creep up on me, I made a decision that I shall postpone my surgery and request for physical therapy as one of options.  I was nervous, but felt comfortable with my decision.  My doctor supported my decision.

Yesterday, instead of surgery, I commenced my physical therapy evaluation.  My therapist noticed some areas of weaknesses.  We discussed and agreed on working on targeted rehabbing my thigh and inside knee.  Today, I worked hard at physical therapy.  My therapist made comment that it was good thing that I had a break since last physical therapy (last year in September) and I am now in less pain than before.  Back then, I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t made much of progress with sessions.  The general health insurance companies in USA only care if you are able to get in/out of bathtub and car, climb up/down the stairs and walk, then your sessions are to be ceased.  UGH…..So, I am back focusing on building up more strength in my thigh area to help my inside knee to support and stabilize my leg for next 4 weeks.  I feel better knowing that my therapist monitors me to make sure I do not injure myself and sees where I need to work within short frame of time before my follow-up appointment with doctor in mid-October to decide if a surgery is necessary.

I plan to gradually add some activities such as cycling at flat terrain, hiking with gentle elevations and swimming during off-day from physical therapy sessions.  This month, I plan to remain in New Jersey to invest time into myself.  Between October and November, I plan to travel occasionally and continue to work on my knee.  Please wish me well on my working toward avoiding a surgery.

Hello everyone!  It has been ages since I updated this blog. My knee is healing pretty good so far.  Once in while, my knee swells from over-using, but it is expected.  There is some lingering pain inside of my knee where injury and extensive work of 2nd surgery took place.  That’s manageable pain for me….keep moving, stretching and massaging to de-sensitivize pain.  The numbness also gradually reduces as I gain some feelings in my knee area which is a good sign. 

Spring is here…..YAY!  I plan to start doing some training (CrossFIT?) and go on some local hiking this month.  In near future, I may try for long distance hiking.  One thing at a time.

Recently, I begin to scan my journals that I jotted down during our AT journey between 2010 and 2014.  I am transcribing from the scanned images of my journals.  It is time-consuming effort as there are many tasks ahead of me –
1) sort out and add texts to photos
2) go through videos and add captions
3) start writing a “book” about the AT Journey of Ad-Cane and Ram Sham
4) come up with a script for ASL version to share some AT journey stories
5) start to plan for braille and large print for a book once it is published

It is a long project – it can be anywhere from one to three years of publishing a book and ASL version DVD.  I pray that I have an ability to keep this project sustained from start to end. There are some ideas such as write a grant, form a team, and etc.  I am looking into that too.  Please wish me well.   

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Hello everyone – This holidays surely keep me busy.  I plan to update with y’all in few days with latest news on my knee and AT journey publishing project.  I leave you with lovely message from The Elf Quest – one of my favourite comics – perfect fit for hiking world/family.

The turning of each new year means new adventures...new journeys...new quests. May your companions along the way be full of love and laughter. May strangers be friendly and helpful. May the path be benign, nuts and berries be bountiful, and may all burdens be light.

Elf Quest Greetings – The turning of each new year means new adventures…new journeys…new quests. May your companions along the way be full of love and laughter. May strangers be friendly and helpful. May the path be benign, nuts and berries be bountiful, and may all burdens be light.

 

Hello all!  As I was mentally prepared to complete my last physical therapy session as my knee is getting stronger, it is mixed feelings for me.  I have been with Sports Training Physical Therapy for almost a year – began in Oct 2015 to prepare myself for 1st surgery in November by maintaining muscular strength in my leg as much as I can before they become atrophy due to immobilized leg for few weeks from surgery.  I was supposed to stay with them for 3 months after my 1st surgery, but I experienced some issues with my knee in February 2015 – few episodes of knee subluxation (pop out/ins).  It turned out that I needed 2nd surgery to remedy my knee issues.  I returned to them after my 2nd surgery in May for few weeks until yesterday.  Even though my recovery after 2nd surgery was difficult and miserable for me, my physical therapists and staff listened and helped me to get through as much as I can not only during the sessions, but outside of the sessions as well.

I am grateful that the therapists and staff at Sports Training Physical Therapy are working with me in all areas especially communication area.  We use interpreter from time to time when needed such as evaluations and in-depth discussions.  Typically, some people may not bother to write down to let me know what’s going on such as gossips, jokes, stories, or information that are mingling in the room, but my therapists and staff made an effort to include me by writing down on notepad to share something with me as well as I do with them.  That does make me feel so good and happy that they are mindful of me.  What is even more is that my therapists and staff have tremendous amount of patience by writing down and waiting for me to complete my writing between us rather than leaving me to write down and come back to me when I am done writing.  I am accustomed to people just doing that to save some time for themselves or pay attention to any patients who speak/hear, but with that kind of amazing behaviors and attitudes from my therapists and staff, I am deeply honored to be treated like any patients, not just Deaf patient who doesn’t speak/hear.

As my therapist with interpreter was discussing with me for long term home exercise training plans, my therapist said that I graduated from my physical therapy and it struck me.  That’s one of milestones for me to get my knee back to normal as much as I can, so I can resume my activities as I no longer able to do so – skiing, snowboarding, biking, hiking, playing basketball and softball, and much more.  I still have some works to do on my knee and I do feel that I am on my way to become fully mobilized – running, cutting, and jumping like before!  What is even more is that my therapist asked me to get in touch with her to let her know about my next follow-up appointment with my surgeon this November, see how I am doing with my training programs, and ask her any questions or additional training if I needed.  It touches me knowing that even though I am no longer my therapist’s patient, she is interested in seeing me to making it all the way to my “FULL and healing” recovery.  Hopefully, this November appointment with surgeon will conclude my journey of my ACL/meniscus repair/recovery.

My legs as of 18-Sept-2015

My legs as of 18-Sept-2015 – healed scars and no longer swollen right knee

Close-up of my right knee

Close-up of my right knee – healed nicely and amazing battle scars to show off!

So, the next chapter for me is to build up my knee to full mobilization as much as I can especially running, jumping, and cutting and shift my focus from my personal recovery to writing a book/producing a DVD with ASL (American Sign Language) about Deafblind hiker’s Appalachian Trail journey with his SSP (guess who that is?🙂 ).  It is a huge project for me, but it is a good time for me to start.  I think I will continue to use this blog for my next chapter to keep our followers and supporters posted.  If any of you are interested in pitching in or providing some feedback or anything, please let me know via email or Whatsapp.

Thank you from bottom of my heart, Sports Training Physical Therapy therapists, staff, and owner.

Howdy folks!

I realized that I forgot to mention one thing….really important thing.  After few years of not able to make it to infamous annual Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, I finally got to attend to this year’s festival after the announcement of hosting the last festival this year after 40 years of hosting the festival.  The festival was majority of hearing womyns, but this year was largest  number of Deaf/Hard of Hearing womyns attending – around 115.  The request was from these Deaf/Hard of Hearing womyns that they wanted to see presentation in ASL.  I thought about if I could give our presentation (Ad-Cane and myself), but Ad-Cane is not womyn.  I gave it some thoughts and decided that the presentation should be about me sharing my personal experiences as a Deaf Female Long Distance Hiker with the world.  I submitted my proposal and asked for two presentations – one in ASL only and one with voice interpretation.  My proposal was accepted.  I was thrilled!

I gave both presentations for 1.5 hours which I thought should be sufficient time, but before I knew it, 1.5 hours went by so fast!  Next time, I may ask for 3 hours instead!  :)  The title of my presentation was “My Journey on Appalachian Trail as a Deaf Female LD Hiker – April 2010 – June 2014”.  I explained to the audience that I have given presentations in the past with my hiking partner, Ad-Cane, but he is not womyn, so it was my first time giving presentation as myself.  If anyone wanted to to know more about Deafblind, Ad-Cane, and SSP, I asked them to hold these questions and see me after the presentation as some of them did.

I enjoyed sharing my experiences, tips, suggestions, and photos with the audience.  It was a bit weird that I did this way as I have been used giving presentation with my hiking partner, Ad-Cane, as it was our journey from start to end.  However, I was glad that I went with different approach to share something of myself as Roni “RamSham” Lepore – Deaf Female Long Distance Hiker in “Hearing Male Hiking environment”.  It did gave me some perspectives that I haven’t thought about since then.  I can see that it serves as an inspiration to womyns who came to listen to my presentation – anyone can do it if one puts her/his mind to make this happening and be patience with a “progress”.  I thank to Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival for allowing me to share my experiences and womyns for attending my presentation.

Ram Sham's Presentation:

Ram Sham’s Presentation: “My Journey on Appalachian Trail as a Deaf Female LD Hiker – April 2010 – June 2014”

Ram Sham presenting

Ram Sham presenting

Ram Sham's hammock at Michigan Womyn's Music Festival

Ram Sham’s hammock at Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival

Roni at Michigan Womyn's Music Festival

Roni at Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival

Hello folks!  September is here already!  Unbelievable!  My summer was mixed with some good and bad things out of it.  Let’s start with bad things.  After 2nd surgery, it was most miserable, painful, and terrible recovery for me which lasted through to mid-August.  I was told that it was going to be one hour surgery with one week of recovery, but during the surgery, my surgeon saw how serious damage my meniscus.  It was literally torn in middle….more of it split in half.  The original plan was to trim off the “hanging” meniscus on the edge, but no…..scrape that and decided on sewing two parts of meniscus together as one disc of meniscus.  So, it involved some extensive work on my meniscus, hamstring muscles and MCL.  My surgeon didn’t get to see me after the surgery (I think he was in back-to-back surgery), so I had no idea of changes in surgery until I saw him a month later.

When I woke up from surgery, I felt ok, but oddly….I went home as expected.  I was to use crutch for one week, but only used it for two days.  However, I was not feeling ok….more of out of place and not being myself.  I just tried to deal with pain and it continued beyond a week of “expected recovery period” in my head.  I said to myself, “Ok….just give it some more time, maybe few more days or so.”  Nope, it continued throughout the entire summer with me “holding in” my pains to myself and dealing with my travel, work, and life as best as I can.  Some people did noticed how miserable I was in.  I had wonderful assistance during conferences that I attended over this summer to help me to get around the places via golf cart or whatsoever.  They have my gratitude.

When I got to see my surgeon a month after my surgery, I asked him about what was wrong with my recovery period.  He then told me about changes made to surgery plans upon observing and witnessing the “true” damages in my knee area.  Ah ha……He said to attend physical therapy for a month and give myself some weeks to feel ok again.  I decided to spread out my physical therapy sessions over the summer between conferences I was attending, so I can focus on what I needed to work on myself and get on with my life as best as I can.  It wasn’t easy thing to do, but I did it.

I just saw my surgeon a few days ago for follow-up appointment and told him that I finally felt much better in mid-August and was able to re-gain my range of motion in my knee area.  I noticed that I haven’t experienced subluxation (knee pop out/in) since 2nd surgery, so I felt that the 2nd surgery may be successful by remedying my issues.  I still have some numbness on my knee, but in one year from 2nd surgery, hopefully, I will get some or all of these “feelings” back on my knee area.  If not, that’s ok.  I am still working on reducing pains in my knee from squatting and getting up from the floor unassisted.

By end of this month, I will be done with my physical therapy sessions and resume “no limitation” activities.  I am going to take one thing slow and one day at a time….taking up hiking, running, biking, kayaking, and etc. again.  I miss them so much!  Hopefully, I am able to ski/snowboard/snowshoe by this Winter!  :)  Thank you, my dear family, friends, and supporters, for all of your words of encouragement, prayers, and etc throughout my journey with repairing my knee and getting back on my “feet” once again.  If my knee feels good and allow me to resume long distance hiking expedition again, I will be absolutely exhilarated!  Appalachian Trail (AT) caused me to fall in love with long distance hiking and miss them so badly when I do not get to do them.  :)

Anyhow, I am going to begin my new journey – organize and begin my journey of sharing story of AT journey with Deafblind and SSP hikers.  I am going to start thinking about where do I start with and surely will let y’all know what my next plans are!  So exciting!  Enjoy the changing season – from summer to autumn…..

I had a nice long holiday weekend on my “old stomping grounds” – Rochester, NY.  I got to visit and chat some of my friends which was nice.  Hope your long holiday weekend went well.  I hope my friends and family who are in Texas are doing ok with all of severe storms going on for past few days.

I am now preparing myself for early tomorrow’s 2nd surgery on my same knee – to repair partially-torn meniscus.  At this time, the surgery is going to be a minor ones – one hour with one week of recovery.  I pray that this surgery will address my issues – my knee instability and pains.  *crossing fingers and toes*  Be in touch when I am out of surgery.

Hello y’all….

Guess what?  I am going to have 2nd surgery scheduled next month – a day after the Memorial Day.  *sigh*  I saw my surgeon a few days ago.   From my recent MRI results, it shows new partially-torn meniscus behind MCL which I first experienced knee swelling/pain and subluxation since this past January.  He said that it is the reason for my knee’s instability.  Mmmm….The bright side is that it is minor surgery – one hour knee arthroscopy and my recovery period will be one week instead of 3 months.  Hopefully, this will address my knee’s instability, pain, and swelling, so I can run/hike/do anything without falling down when knee pops out/in.

Despite the bumpy road I am on, it is part of progress toward able to mobilize as much as before.  I just keep up with yoga, work out, walk, hike, and activities with caution as not to fall down often.  Most of the days, I pop in ibuprofen – my Vitamin I – just like what I did when I injured my knee in 2012 and 2013 – to help ease some pains in my knee and for me to keep going.  I do not enjoy sitting around and not able to do much, but need to be patient and go with flow of the time and challenges.

Anyhow, I attended to local Creative Writing Meetup a few days ago with a volunteer interpreter.  It was good session to give me some ideas of how to write a book and in what format.  I might write some stories and share via blog, then I can look at them to choose some of them to be part of the book.  The interpreter suggested to me that I might consider to do vlog – telling stories in ASL then translating to English.  It is gonna be a lot of work which I reckon….I may look into that too.  If you have any ideas/suggestions, please feel free to share here.

Spring has arrived at last…..tree starts to bud out their leaves…..haven’t seen flowers popping out of the ground yet…..it is late start this year for sure.  I thought of the day this month when Cane and I began our AT journey five years ago on 6-April-2010……wow…..I do miss LD hiking!  I might try to do Long Trail this August/September.  Wait and see about my knee’s healing and stability.  Gonna take one day at a time.  :)

Howdy y’all!  I have been staying low and under the radar since this past January working hard to bring my repaired knee back to 100%.  As of today, I am not close to 100% yet.  

To bring all of you to a quick update, I saw surgeon on 5-February.  I told him about my subluxation (quick knee pop out/in) 3 times prior to seeing him.  He asked me to continue working with therapist for next 3 months as he has seen similar situation before.  I continued with physical therapy until last week of February when my health insurance decided that I no longer required physical therapy as they wanted me to wean off.  I contacted my surgeon asking him what to do about this situation and he told me to continue with home exercise program.  We cannot do anything about my health insurance because if we file an appeal and it will take around six months for them to decide if it is medically necessary for me to continue with my physical therapy.  It is where I have to choose which battles to battle.  *sigh*  Meanwhile, I have been going to the gym at least 3 times a week doing some exercises via weight, treadmill, and swimming pool.  I am doing yoga on daily basis to stretch and build up some strength in my leg/knee area.  I thought to myself ok, just continue work on getting my knee stronger and healed on my own until May.

However, over the last weekend of February and first week of March, I experienced subluxation (quick knee pop out/in) twice which left me into very painful condition especially on inside knee area – MCL area.  It was harder on me because I became stronger and was able to move, but my knee was not working with me and popping out on me if I moved in certain direction each time (squat and move left laterally).  I decided that there was something not right about my knee since it felt the similar way prior to the surgery.  Since subluxation occurred, I am still limping and managing my pain with popping in NSAIDs.  It is so painful to get out of the car and bathtub.  It is hard to get up in the morning when I move my knee.  I groan, grunt, moan, and whimper a bit from time to time.  My family hears me and sympathizes with me.  Not fun at all.

Since something is not right with my knee, I asked for an appointment with surgeon right away.  I just saw him past few days on 12-March.  I explained my dilemma with him.  He checked my knee and we both agreed that my knee was feeling solid with repaired ACL and meniscus, so there must be different issue in different area.  I told him that it means a new challenge for him and he said yes.  :)  He ordered a new MRI, so I am awaiting for my insurance to approve.  He told me that I no longer need to wear brace, but wear brace for high impact/athletic activity until beginning of December 2015 (approximately one year from my surgery).  So, it was mixed news – bad news – my knee is not 100% and the issue with subluxation is ongoing and good news – my knee is strong enough that I can resume wearing my pants especially jeans and yoga pants/leggings once again!!!!!  Hellloooooo pants/leggings!!!!!  Yeah, I am frustrated, but count my blessings that I am able to move around at least.  Gonna balance out with good and bad stuff and just move on.

So, I move with caution as not to squat risking myself to cause my knee to pop out/in and fall down on my hands and/or face onto floor/pavement.  It is not easy because I do not feel pain while walking/hiking (due to NSAIDs kicking and repeated motion causing my knee to acclimatized by numbing out my pains).  When I am forced to squat for some reasons like to scramble across boulders, descending on the steep trail, or climb up/down on some rocks, my knee just pops out/in without any warning.  Scary!

*sigh* I continue to keep myself active and safe as best as I can – the Spring is just around the corner.  I hope that in next few weeks after my MRI, my surgeon and I will able to get some answers on why my knee keeps pop out/in.  Please continue with prayers for me.

Hey everyone,

This week is challenging for me and one of them involves a setback on my knee.  UGH.  Last Wednesday night, I sat down with my brace on.  I was lightly dragging/sliding forward my right foot on the lamented wood floor and subluxation (quick pop out/in) occurred.  OUCH!  I was perplexed, but I just let it rolled off from my shoulder thinking it was just one-time off thing.  A few minutes later, my parents sat down at table near to me.  I was doing the same performance and it happened again!  It hurt so much that I gasped and my parents were looking at me.  My knee swollen.  UGH!  It surely felt the similar way before the surgery – pop in/out in my knee area on inner side.  I iced, took NSAID, and pampered my knee on that night.

I went in physical therapy session next day with some limping.  My therapist asked me how I was and I told her what happened.  She was concerned and asked me to show her what I did.  She manipulated my knee and found my knee too tender and swollen.  I was in pain mostly on the inner side.  She said the area where I experienced pain was part of MCL which we have the similar conversation this past fall which I bought it up to my doctor and surgeon and both said my MCL seemed to be healed.  On my request, she called my doctor and I was to see him next day which was today this morning.

This morning, I saw my doctor and had x-ray taken.  He saw that my graft and tunnels were in good shape.  He noticed some swelling area.  He asked me to give my knee some rest for next few days, take anti-inflammatory medicine 2x a day, and see my surgeon on Thursday 5-Feb to re-visit my knee issue.  My PT for next week is to be on hold until the following week.  My doctor suspected that it is a MCL sprain.  I told him that I more likely think there is more than just the MCL sprain because it felt the similar way before and after surgery, however we will work together to figure it out – one thing at a time.  I am going to take it easy with my knee for next few days.  *sigh*  All I can say is….Be patience, accept that sometimes setback or stall happens from time to time, and  keep going down on my healing path holistically.  Pray for the best.

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Appalachian Trail

Map of entire Appalachian Trail - 2,179 miles/3,507 km - through 14 states - Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine

Map of entire Appalachian Trail - 2,179 miles/3,507 km

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