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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.

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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 all!  Here are some updates since my 25-Nov ACL/Meniscus repair surgery.  The surgical center where I had my surgery done wasn’t exactly Deaf-friendly, so I am going to send them a letter providing my experiences/feedback and suggesting some improvement and mindful approach next time they handle any patients who are disabled especially Deaf/Hard of Hearing with ASL/English interpreter.  I am not going to bother you with details what happened at the surgical center.

The surgeon and staff did a great job.  I recovered from waking up and dealing with post-surgery recovery/healing and was sent home in one hour after coming out of surgery instead of typical two hours of recovering.  My leg was placed into splint, but funny thing was that it couldn’t stay on my leg!  I think I have a slippery leg!!!!  I walked with one crutch on that night.  I proceeded to use the CPM machine – device that assists with flexioning and extensioning my knee/leg – for two hours on that night.  Not too bad!  I am to use the CPM machine for 14 days – 2 hours and 3 times a day.  Whoo hoo!

my leg on the CPM machine

my leg on the CPM machine

Post-surgery knee

Post-surgery knee

Close up of post-surgery knee

Close up of post-surgery knee

Roni gives a thumb up

Roni gives a thumb up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next day, my Dad and I went to my doctor’s office to check on my wounds and re-bandage.  It was snowing in that morning, so I elected to walk with one crutch under my right arm and use my other hand on other crutch to prevent possible slippery or loss of traction on the snow-covered pavement/sidewalk.  I walked into the doctor’s office and used one crutch.  Upon calling my name, Dad, ASL/English interpreter, and I went into an examination room.  My physical assistant came in and was amazed at how great I looked.  I was perplexed.  She called other staff and doctor to take a look at me.  LOL, what a show!  They couldn’t believe how well I looked with less than 24 hours of post-surgery.  I have very little idea of how people were dealing with post-surgery recovery/healing.  My physical assistant asked me if I slept well last night and I replied yup!  She said no wonder and if I was in any pain.  I said not really….just a little pain in certain area where the huge cut was made and other than that, I was all good.  She proceeded to check my wounds and re-bandage my leg.  She said my wounds looked fantastic.  LOL.  I was to come back next week to have my sutures removed and by then, I can shower/bath.  Funny thing was that before AT, I would worry about how my legs would look like with hairy, how would I smell like, how to deal with my dirty hair, and etc.  However, at this time, I just shrugged it and laughed cuz AT taught me so much – just go with flow and take one thing at a time.  My health came first, so my vain/appearance wasn’t that important.  I was to focus on healing and getting my leg and myself exercised.  🙂

Between check on wounds/re-bandage and sutures removal, I spent a lot of time watching movies and TV show called, “The Tudors” and reading some books – both Deadtree and electronic format – a huge thanks to my dear friend who lend me some DVDs and books from her library!  I also spent a lot of time catching up with some work and projects.  Really good down time for me.

My inspiration stuff

My inspiration stuff

AT walking sticks

AT walking sticks

On Thursday 4-Dec, I went back to my doctor’s office for suture removal.  I was so excited!  My surgeon came in which was the first time we have seen each other since my surgery day.  He looked at me and my knee….he was amazed with my recovery/healing progress.  I was way ahead of normal recovery/healing phase.  I gonna credit it to my practice of yoga, ongoing outdoor activities (ie: hiking), personal training sessions, physical therapy sessions, mental/emotional preparedness for pre-, during, and post-surgery, and maintain Paleo lifestyle (clean eating).  After the sutures were removed, I was to fit with my ACL knee brace.  I was to wear it for a year.  I asked my surgeon if I must wear the brace on my skin or can it goes over pants or leggings.  He said my brace must be on my skin.  My jaw dropped!  I asked for how long….he said one year.  My jaw dropped even further.  AARRRRGGHHHHH!  LOL!  I was asked to come back a month later for check-up.  It will happen in January.

Top view of my ACL knee brace

Top view of my ACL knee brace

Side view of my ACL knee brace

Side view of my ACL knee brace

 

 

So…..here is dilemma with my clothing and boots.

  • Pants….skinny/tight pants have to put away for a year.  I have to try on some pants to see if they will be comfortable while I wear my brace under it.
  • I have some skirts.
  • Leggings/tight yoga pants – *crying* they have to put away for a year too.
  • Sweat pants – they are for home use only!
  • Long dresses – I have some.
  • Shorts – I have some.
  • Ankle-high winter boots (I have to put away my knee-high boots for a year….:( )

My mom told me about her work at high school….kids with ACL knee brace – they mostly wear shorts year-around.  Geee!!!!!

I researched and decided that I am to look for reasonable and affordable prices on these following items rather than cutting up my pants:

  • Skirts – both long and short
  • Maxi Dresses
  • Long Dresses
  • Thigh-high Leg Warmers
  • Leg Warmers
  • Bike shorts
  • Skorts
  • Loose- and wide-fitting and wide-leg pants
  • Shorts

It is gonna be an interesting journey for me fashion- and clothing-wise!  😉  So far, my current challenges with mobilization are:

  • not able to drive yet
  • walk up/down stairs gingerly and slowly
  • not able to sit in back of the car cuz my knee has not bent at 90 degrees yet, so I have to sit in front passenger seat
  • not able to get around tight spaces effortlessly

I began my personal training at my local gym on Friday 5-Dec  and I felt good.  My knee was doing all right, but I listened to my body and knee by not pushing it for now.  I will resume my physical therapy next Thursday 11-Dec for 3 times a week for next 4 weeks and I am excited!  I am already thinking about going back to hiking this Spring only if I can help it by not trying to think about snowboarding/skiing this Winter!  If my knee feels good, I might do snowshoeing, but not gonna hold my breath.  🙂

Wish me well on my post-surgery recovery/healing journey.

Cane and I are back in Augusta, Maine since this past Tuesday due to Cane’s injury.  Cane and I started our first day of hiking last Friday at 14:00 after Cane’s aunt dropped us off in parking lot on Route 15 in Monson.  The trail was challenging with sprawling uproots, scattering slates, talus rocks, and dense trees including pine trees.  The pine trees are normally full grown with branches from bottom of the tree to the top in upside down “V” shaped.  However, as the trail was being created for Appalachian Trail, I noticed that the branches on lower part of the pine trees were either not completely cut off or broken off from itself.  It left behind some sharp broken branches sticking out.  It worried the hell out of me. 

We were hiking around 2 to 2.5 miles.   Cane was behind me most of the way.  As I turned my head to check on Cane, I didn’t see him, so I thought he must have slowed down or stopped to take a restroom break or looked at something.  I hiked to the side trail which led toward center of Monson.  I stopped and waited there.  After waiting for 15 minutes, I had a bad feelings and prayed that I was wrong about that one.  At 30th minute, I decided to search for Cane.  I began to backtrack on the trail and Cane just arrived at 17:15.  Whew!  I waited for him to come to me.  He said that he jammed his right hand into the tree and his finger was hurting badly.  It bleed a lot, so he took care of his finger by cleaning up and applying the bandage on it.  He asked me to take care of his finger when we arrives at the shelter which was around 6 miles away.  I told him that I wanted to see his finger.  I opened up the bandage and boy, what a mess it was as it was covered in blood.  I cleaned it with rubbing alcohol to take a better look at his injury site.  I noticed that there was a large piece of wood splinter stuck in his middle finger –  the upper part of his joint area.  I was going to take a better look at it by touching top part of his hand and he winced in the pain.  I was in shock and asked him to tell me if it hurts much when I touched non-injury upper part of his finger and hand.  He replied it did hurt.  I examined more by poking around and tugging at the splinter.  I saw how pain he was in.  He told me when he first jammed his finger into the tree, the bleeding did not start right away.  It took a few seconds for it to start bleeding.  It did bleed a lot.  Uh oh.  I said to Cane “We have to go off the trail as your injury suspects to be more serious ones.”.  He moaned and being mad at himself.  😦 

We hiked for a mile until we saw the house.  We asked for an assistance.  The kind man gave us a ride to the hostel named Shaw’s Lodging as he said that they will be able to help us out.  When we arrived there, we asked for a ride to Emergency Room.  We arrived at the hospital in Greenville, Maine which was around 10 miles away from Monson.

The doctor examined Cane’s injured finger and tried to pluck out the splinter from Cane’s finger with the tool and Cane winced in tremendous amount of pain that he asked for numbing medicine to be shot into his finger.  The doctor shot the numbing medicine into his finger and tried to pluck it out.  The doctor was struggling for a bit then finally got it out.  All of us were astonished to see how big the splinter was!  It was like 3 cm length and 1.5 cm width!  The doctor cleaned out the injury site and advised Cane that some of splinters may be left behind and he may be at risk for further infection.  Cane chose to see the specialist on Monday to discuss the options.  We spent the weekend with Cane’s aunt at her beautiful cabin in Moosehead Lake area.  We enjoyed ourselves by reading the book, going for some kayaking, hiking, napping and eating.  On Monday after the appointment with the specialist, Cane opted to have a surgery next day to ensure there wasn’t any splinters left behind in his finger.  On Tuesday, the surgeon opened up Cane’s finger, then cleaned out and discovered a tiny piece of splinter.  He removed it, then closed up his finger by stitching it up.  Cane is to take it easy until next Monday for his follow-up appointment with specialist.  Meanwhile, we are in Augusta, Maine running the errands, working on videos and pictures from our AT expedition, doing some hiking on side, looking for “iron gloves” (jokingly suggested by Cane’s Uncle Jean and Aunt Rose 😎 ) to buy for Cane and relaxing.

We hope to return to the trail next week, but wait and see how Cane’s finger heals and performs by flexing and gripping his finger.  Hope for the best and as always, thanks for your support and prayers.

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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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