Thursday, June 14, 2012

Back in the saddle

Let me tell you, it is not easy to work fulltime, get to the gym (which if I am truthful, I have not really done this week), see your husband and family and also write a blog! 

The last 10 days have been busy.  Work is not quite as hectic as I had worried it would be; however, there is still an awful lot of clean up to be done.  So many mistakes, compounded mistakes, now have to be unravelled and sorted out.  Plus the auditor hasn't stopped calling and they've already missed their deadline.

Having said that, I did manage to leave on time.  Every. Single. Day.  You have no idea what an accomplishment that is in itself - leaving work when the sun is still somewhere above the horizon!  I also took a lunch break, almost every day.  Last week, I even went for a walk on the beach a few times at lunchtime and hit the gym 3 times - including my first swim in 4 months and my first spinning class in 2 years.  This week, I skipped lunch twice and never made it to the gym (but that was partly a conscious choice as I had a feeling that I'd overdone it a bit the previous week.  Still working on that balance thing.)  But I did leave on time, so all in all, I consider it a result.

On the down side, my back hurt and worse, the pain in my side returned (although this has subsequently subsided), I'm guessing from sitting in the chair for such long periods. Now I set my phone alarm to remind me to get up and move every few hours.  But even that is hard and disruptive.  Maybe I'll go over to Dr. Gav and see if there is a back support for an office chair that can help.

And today, I crossed the final barrier. So far, I've taken the 61 bus every day to & from the office.  Believe me, that is no joy-ride.  Today, I rode my motorbike for first time.  I was a tiny bit nervous and so, despite the hot weather, I wore my protective armour (coat and gloves).  Aside from boiling at the red lights, it was great. Especially since raising my leg back onto the bike from a standing position at the lights was not a painful effort.  But the best part, (and this is hard to describe to non-riders) is the freedom you feel riding a motorbike.  It's exhilaratingly liberating.  There is nothing like it.  So glad to be back!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

On blogging

Tuesday was my first full day back at work, so it seems I'm coming to the end of my chronicle of recovery.  Although my muscles are still ramping up to normality, I am certainly able to do just about everything I did before the arthritis disabled me. 

The question is whether to continue writing or not.  And if so, which direction to take?  
As you know, in my free time, I do enjoy reading blogs.  While it's true, there is a load of crap out there in cyberspace, there is also a fair share of good writers. And as always, although I don't always like what they write, I am sometimes jealous of their names and the singular clarity of their focus (not to mention their inevitable book-deals!).

For instance, there is The Pioneer Woman- who I actually liked until I read the post about taking her little boys shooting.  Or the Yarn Harlot - good name and a great blog too.  If you like reading about what someone else is knitting.  Not necessarily a spectator sport. I am also partial to some good cooking/baking bloggers as well:  Smitten Kitchen for one.  (I am a bad blogger and am not linking to any of them.  Forgive me but I'm guessing that none of you are really interested.)

I admit to still reading Weddingbee.  My addiction started when Little Mama was planning her own wedding and I got overly attached to some of those blogging brides.  Especially the ones, bless them, who wrote lovingly of their own MOBs.  And f**k off to the ones who were irritated by their own mothers over-involvement or wanting to invite more than their allotted number of guests or interfere in choosing their dresses/hairstyle/linens etc.  In truth, some of them are so young and immature, that I skip over them, but there are definitely some intelligent and interesting brides out there and I do like reading them.   Plus the pictures are beautiful.

The bloggers who I enjoy reading most are well-written, thoughtful ladies over a certain age. (Ahem.) Mostly they write about style, fashion and beauty after forty.  Subjects which, thinking about it, are somewhat superficial, yet these women are bright, amazing writers and I like reading what they have to say.  Nearly all of them occasionally write about what it is like living where they do and they live in some fascinating places:  the countryside around Paris, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, 

Also there are some hilariously funny bloggers out there writing about pregnancy and parenthood. While I like reading those sometimes, I'm way passed that stage of life.  So naturally, I recently looked up blogging grandmothers and while there are some out there, none who I actually enjoyed reading.  Hmmm, perhaps that's the niche to go for? 

Based on all of this, it's clear that my continued blog should be called: Bubbi-licious Expat or something to that effect.  Well I will have to give this some more thought.  Check this space - you're not quite done with me yet!  

(Yes, Prof. Palmtree said he would not operate on me just so that I could 
wear high heels again.  But guess what?! How's that for fashion over fifty?!)

Monday, June 4, 2012

My final free day

Saturday marked the end of the 12th week.  I've come full circle.  And tomorrow I will, reluctantly, go back to work.  Today is my last free day *sniff*.   I intend to go down to cafe for one last cup of coffee and granola cookie, then I will bake a cake to take to the office tomorrow, as a thank you, mainly to my replacement.  And if time allows, I will go to the gym for one last unrestricted (time-wise) workout & jacuzzi soak.  Hopefully that will gear me up for re-entry into the rat race.

One day last week, I was at the gym and headed towards, what I thought was, an elliptical machine.  Given that the three month restrictive period was now over, I was keen to take on one of the aerobic machines that I've avoided for quite some time now.  On the machine next to mine was a woman of similar age.  She was strongly built, wearing a bandanna and sweating up a storm.  A real amazon.  As I stepped up onto the machine, she looked over at me and said "Have you had a hip replacement?"

What?!  How on earth could she possibly have known?  I was stunned but admitted that, yes, I had.  She asked me how long since my surgery and I told her "12 weeks, but how did you know?"  She explained that she was an instructor at the gym (she gives an elliptical class and showed me the right machine & how to use it) and that she needed the same operation but was afraid to take the leap.  Funnily enough, she said that someone had recommended that she see Prof. Palmtree.  Needless to say, I spent the next 40 minutes encouraging her to do it.  "You won't regret it." I said "I'll see you here in 6 more months, when I come to your class!"

After talking to her, I realized how far I've come in the past 3 months, so today, I thought I'd sum up my experiences and give some advice to anyone who stumbles onto this blog:
  • If I knew beforehand just how much blood I would lose and how anemic I'd become, I would have prepared a unit or two of my own blood for a transfusion.  That was one of the most debilitating things about my recovery. 
  • In the hospital and at home, I walked barefoot always. (All my PT's agreed on this point.) But for going out walking, get elasticized shoelaces (for triathelon runners).  They were the smartest thing I got. In fact, I'd recommend this to just about anyone who can't bend over.
  • The raised mattress and toilet seat were a must.  I like them so much, I think I may keep them like this.
  • Use the medication wisely.  Taper off the pain killers gradually (In hindsight, I think some of my white nights were actually due to stopping (i.e. withdrawal) the Tramadol all at once). Take sleeping pills if you need to, in order to get as much sleep as you need.  But get off the meds are quickly as possible. 
  • I saw this as a project and I was determined to walk and exercise as much as possible. So it was depressing and disheartening when I just couldn't do that. As I've said, you never know when you've done too much, until it's too late. It's important to find a balance between pushing yourself and not overdoing it. Walk as much as possible and exercise as long as you have no pain. But try to do a little bit more every day.
  • Comply with the restrictions, no matter how tempting it is to start doing things early.  The last thing you want is a set-back or dislocation.  Have patience.  When I stopped obsessing thinking about and anticipating certain goals, I often found I could do them when I came back to them in time.
  • My most invaluable tip of all would have to be - get a Bear!  And by that, I mean ensure that you have a really good support system of people around to help you do the little every day things (cook, clean etc) so that you can focus on recovery.
  • Lastly, be good to yourself!
I leave you today with a before & after pic:

(Day 1: immobile )


(Day 90: after 3 km walk)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Yoga, on the beach, at sunset

The other day, M invited me to a yoga class on the beach at sunset.  A friend of hers recently started teaching yoga classes and she was giving a free class to promote her new business.  Beach, yoga, sunset? It was an irresistible offer!

Naturally, I was a tiny bit nervous about doing all the movements but I decided that anything that I couldn't do, I just wouldn't.  I was hopeful that there would be enough poses that I could handle.

We got to the beach around 6:30.  It was a windy afternoon and the beach was nearly deserted. The sea was a dark shade of blue. Robust waves pitched onto the beach with a thunderous crash.  The sun low in the cloud-scattered sky.  Excellent weather for a sunset.

The instructor began. It was hard to hear her over the din of the waves, especially because she was so gentle.  Both her voice and her manner.  It was the precise style of yoga required for my first class in more than 18 months, slow and deliberate.  Focus on breathing, nothing too strenuous.  I managed to do most of the positions.  The only thing I skipped was the chair pose, a sort-of squat, mainly because I feared getting back up.  And although I did get into the tree pose, I quickly abandoned it on the left side. It was simply too much weight bearing on my hip joint.

The sun dipped just below the horizon as we laid down on the sand to relax at the end of the hour-long session.  It was a wonderful re-introduction to Yoga.  My goal when I return to work next week, is to get to the Wednesday morning yoga class in the gym at my office.  It won't be nearly as nice as it was on the beach, but it will definitely help my further my recovery progress.

For now, I'll leave you with a few pictures of a most enjoyable evening.

(me and my fellow yogis in the Triangle pose)

(Dear Friend M in the Lotus position)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Beach Day

(walking towards the Med in Tel Aviv)

My dear friend R came to pick me. "I'll take you anywhere you want to go, other than a museum!"  We learned that lesson the hard way!

But really the only thing I wanted to do was see the sea. 

My office is just one block from the beach. I try to make a point of seeing the sea at least once a day, even if it's only a glimpse. The sea looks different every day. It has a different character depending upon the weather, the season, the light. But it's always uplifting. I don't know why, but I love looking out at the endless blue on blue horizon.  Forgive my romanticism. I could look at it forever.  *Sigh*

So being cooped up in RG for 3 months without seeing even a sliver of blue has been making me blue. I've been to the city several times already but I haven't been close enough to see the beach. R took me for lunch at a favorite seaside restaurant, right on the water's edge.  How delightful.  Watching the waves crash on the beach, the white foam dancing on the turquoise water, the sparkling glint of the sunlight playing on sea, a cool breeze drifting across the afternoon sky.

What I love about not working this last month is that time feels as though it has expanded. My days are full and yet I never feel rushed. I never have to look at my watch while I am at the gym or sitting in a cafe. That dark cloud hanging over my head, that niggly feeling that I've got somewhere else to get to, has evaporated. My days are no longer my own personal version of Beat-The-Clock.  And in the evenings, I am infused with a sense of satisfaction, of having accompished something, of having throughly enjoyed myself. I find I have the time, no, the presence, to appreciate what I've done. It's no wonder I don't want to go back to the daily, hectic grind of work.

With R, we strolled through "HaTachana" before lunch and then went to the souk afterwards. Beautiful weather, good food, interesting conversation and the sea. It was a luxuriously long afternoon.  The most perfect afternoon.

(View of Old Jaffa from Tel Aviv)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Finished projects

As my medical leave draws to a close, and my "hip" project is nearly complete, I know you are all curious to see my other "project". The knitting project I keep writing about.  Well I finished knitting quite a while ago.  I even blocked it and stitched it up. But I've been reluctant to show it to you.  Not because I'm not proud of my handiwork.  It looks good as you can see from the detail here.

To refresh your memory, I was making this item for my precious niece. My precious, 4 year old niece.  Sadly... it fits my favorite 12 year old!

I have no idea how that happened.  Oh well - she'll grow into it I guess. Thanks sweet S for giving me something to while away the hours.  Hope you like it!

p.s. here is my current project:  baby blanket.  Which will hopefully end up the right size!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Just another day in paradise

(The Givatayim Spa aka Paradise)

The last 2 weeks have been really wonderful.  I've been feeling great.  Although I haven't had another blood test, my intuition tells me that my hemoglobin levels & red blood count are back to normal.  And my hip is also feeling good.  For the most part, the pain in my groin has disappeared.  Sometimes I almost forget; then a quick movement, running up the stairs or standing up from squatting down to retrieve something from a low cabinet reminds me that my muscles are still not quite up to full strength yet.  Having said that though, the PT Angel told me that I can probably stop coming to see her weekly.  This week, she taught me how to sit on the floor and get myself back up.  Quite an accomplishment at not even 3 months post-op. 

Also I've been doing a great deal of walking.  Walking to PT, walking to the gym at the mall, walking in the park.  I've spent the past week walking back and forth across Givatayim.  It's amazing really and I find myself awestruck during my "treks" that I am actually able to walk so far without any pain.  I can't remember when I could do that.  It must be years.  My only regret is that all the people I love who lived in Givatayim are no longer there.  (I think of you guys when I'm walking.)

The other regret, well no, it's not really a regret.  Before I decided to have the surgery, so many people said to me "I don't know why I waited so long to do it."  This is very true.  For a long time, it was not clear what my problem was, only that I had intense pain which prohibited me from walking.  When I was finally diagnosed nearly 2 years ago, all the doctors said I should wait because I was so young.  So I waited 18 months. But who knows what the future holds?  I decided it was silly to wait, when I wanted to be back where I should be now. (By the way, thanks to all of you reading who encouraged me to take the leap! You know who you are...).  Now I am. 

The other wonderful thing I've done this week is to hit the jacuzzi at the gym after my workout.  I know, I know. Prof. Palmtree warned against going to the pool for fear of slipping but I decided that I could risk it. (Only one more week to go anyway.)  I've always loved the jacuzzi in Givatayim.  It's very large with powerful jets.  Best of all, in the time that I've been away, it's been renovated.  Now the room is done up in bamboo, wood and stone. So tranquil.  You could almost pretend you are in Bali or some other tropical island.  Plus every time I've been there, I've had the place all to myself.

It's like my own private paradise.  Life's good.

(Entrance to the jacuzzi)