Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hopping Along

I am learning how to navigate the challenges of life after having ACL surgery. I won't share the pictures of the inside of my knee, but I know healing is hard work from the inside out. Here are the top ten things that I learned so far.

1.  Learning something new is exhausting work. Need I say more? 

2.  Being dependent on others isn't easy. I am lucky to have amazing help. My husband has time off from work. My aunt has come down to help and my nine year old steps up as well. It isn't easy, but it is necessary. I try to make sure I have everything I need in my spot, but it doesn't always happen. Right now, I am avoiding needing anything while they are still sleeping.

3.  Navigating your first curb is like overcoming a mountain. A good friend told me how to navigate stairs. His advice made sense at the time, but as the curb grew before me, I couldn't figure it out. I just looked at it for awhile.  I did go over it and have since endured stairs, a hill, and grass. I am still thankful that I am in a one story space and someone invented elevators.

4. Ice is my best friend. In less than 24 hours I weened myself off pain meds. Icing is the key. I am not muscling through the pain, I haven't had much. I know I was in more pain after having a c-section. Nothing like ice can soothe the dull ache that creeps in the joints as the swelling increases. Twenty minutes on ice cures that.

5. I enjoy being a sloth. People think I will go stir crazy, because I am so active. I have many indoor pursuits aside from the reading to engage in such as writing, scanning old family pictures and watching movies to occupy my time. These activities are ones that I don't normally sit still long enough for, but will now. In fact, the day flew by watching 13 episodes of Mako Mermaids with my daughter. 

6. It is good to have the help of family and friends. My mom sent a Barnes and Novel gift card, my sister, an Amazon package, Paula, Lee Ann, & Mary, meals. Others have shared the gift of their time allowing my husband a break. All of these are thoughtful gifts that make the days go by smoother and faster. Thank you! 

7. The directions from the doctor never tell you everything you need to know. I read directions. I follow directions. I have questions. As a T1, I know doctors can never tell me all I need to know. Could you have it written in the follow-up that you won't be in a walking brace until your leg fits in the brace?  Not the 10-14 days that the post-op directions say.  False expectations! Surprises. Yes, I want to heal well, but I need to craft a timeline to make this work.

8. A frozen bag of spinach will do in a pinch. Work-arounds! In this world we need them. You have to craft them. You have to help your students and children problem solve. No ice! No peas! What do you have? Spinach! No way to elevate your leg while sitting, invert your crutch. Problem solved.

9. Never underestimate the power of dehydration. The day after my surgery I struggled bringing my blood sugars down. I had eaten low carb. I checked. I treated. I checked again. Finally it dawned on me that I hadn't had much water in the past 24 hours due to fasting. I started drinking and the sugars came down. 

10. This work is a temporary part of the healing process. My good friend lost her leg five years ago. In a month I should be walking fine. In six months I will be back to ultimate frisbee. I will be preparing for my next half marathon. I will resume Camp Gladiator. For me, the changes and challenges are temporary. Her challenges are permanent. I am lucky.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Brave the Wild: Rainbow Springs & River

Although I won't go back to work for weeks, my last summer adventure was Thursday, floating and snorkeling down the Rainbow River and a dip into Rainbow Springs. I have been sidelined much of this summer with a torn ACL. It has kept me closer to home and away from the mountains and woods that I normally hike. I have, however, been lucky to swim for the most of my summer although the next three weeks of my vacay and the next six months will be spent rehabbing from the ACL surgery I had yesterday. Part of my post-op directions are no water for two weeks. My mermaid brain is cringing as I write this. But this slice celebrates my last opportunity to brave the wild.
    Rainbow Springs is my favorite place to spring hop.  The spring head is at Rainbow River State Park. It is at the bottom of basin. The swimming area of the spring is deep and wide. If you have small children, they need a life jacket or noodle to take into the water.  The water is too deep for most adults to touch the bottom, but the water is clear, cold, and sparked and leaves your skin tingling for hours afterward. We always end our day of tubing here with a picnic and a dip.
  You can also rent kayaks from this area to venture downstream enjoying the Rainbow River, one of the most clear rivers you will find in Florida. Most rivers are tannic, but Rainbow river cuts a glass-like swath allowing for snorkeling as well as tubing, boating, paddleboarding, or kayaking. If you kayak from the spring head down, you will glimpse the spring plant life rehab project.
  We started our day tubing the lower part of the river. K.P Hole and the state park system rent tubes and provide shuttle service, both of which can get filled up pretty early on summer weekends. If you can, try to steal away on a summer weekday. We tried the state park system for the first time and floated our way down the river for two hours. Again it was a day of laughter with friends. 
  Braving the wild has been my intent this July. I chose it as a reminder to disconnect and enjoy the world. Hopefully you will get that opportunity before you go back to school.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Brave the Wild: Scalloping

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Each summer I  disconnect by braving the wild! My forays into nature reset my brain to ready me for the upcoming year. This year it happened to be the sea. I don't have a bucket list per say and I also believe there are many treasures to be discovered in my backyard that don't include theme parks.   With a torn ACL and the surgery to repair it looming in my future, water adventure are the most feasible. I have blogged about spring-hopping, but I wanted to do another uniquely Florida adventure- scalloping.

Eight people gathered this bucket of about 8 gallons
of scallops which yielded a little less than 4 pounds.

What I imagined and how the day turned out were two entirely different visions. I love it when a day in your life turns out that way.  I couldn't have imagined a more magical summer day than the one we spent floating in the Big Bend Seagrass Preserve. The beginning seemed ominous as we headed out to sea via the Steinhatchee River in the midst of a storm in which raindrops felt like hail, but the seas was flat which was a good sign. Fortunately, the sun peeped out just as we arrived at our destination.

You need the right equipment for the day most importantly a friend with a boat and their knowledge of the area and process. We packed light- snorkel gear, nets, and sunscreen. If you haven't been scalloping before, you might think that it is a simple process, just snorkel and scoop them out with a net. There is, however, more seeking involved, a "Where's Waldo?" scallop-style. When you see one, you know it, but to find them you must look closely, pay attention to the details.  There are a host of distractions from the task including an abundance of fish, a occasional octopus, even the way the sunlight plays upon the undersea world.

Aside from the adventure, what made it magical was my daughter's response. She's nine. She loved it. Already a strong swimmer, she didn't let fear stop her from engaging in the day. It can be unnerving for some to swim "in the weeds" where you don't see the bottom. She braved the wild. She became adept at swimming from the boat and searching for scallops on her own. What helped my parenting comfort level was the life jacket that she wore built for snorkeling. Also the water was about 4-5 feet deep so she could stand if needed. We spent at least four hours in the water, a real laboratory.

Both Hope and I have many more questions about scalloping and sea life.  I've spent my entire life in Florida and there is so much to learn about the sunshine state.  I will confess that I didn't "shuck" my scallops.  I wanted to, but that will be for my next adventure.  The eight of us gathered about 8 gallons of scallops which yielded a little less than four pounds.  In the end it wasn't about the meal garnered, it was about the journey, a day of light and laughter among friends and a better understanding of the environment.  As my friend Lee Ann blogs about, a pink-stone day.