Month: October 2013

ACL style – flat boots

On the way out of yoga class many years ago, I changed back into my suit for work and slipped on a pair of adorable snakeskin pumps.

“You know those are terrible for your feet and Achilles tendons, don’t you?” the instructor said, clearly disapproving of my footwear.

{…commence eye-rolling…}

Does anyone seriously think women wear heels because they are good for you?! Of course not! We wear them because they make our legs look longer and sexier. We wear them because they make us taller, and by inference, more intelligent and powerful. We wear them because taller people make more money.

All of this goes temporarily out the window, though, with a torn ACL. If your PT is like mine, you’ve been banned from wearing heels for at least three months after surgery.  (I’ve secretly tried wearing them around the house a couple times, but only make it about five minutes before my knee starts aching.)

Instead of whining about how I can’t wear half my wardrobe, I decided I ought to just buy some new shoes. Shopping therapy cures everything!

I ended up with a killer pair of waterproof leather boots that will carry me through the Seattle winter:

 Here are some other fabulous finds that would make any ACL patient forget their woes:


(These boots all come in lots of colors, so click through to find what works for your wardrobe.)

A little somethin’ for the weekend

Seattle fog

Who is ready for a little R&R this weekend? What do you have planned? I’m going to do a couple good swim workouts, relax the muscles with a massage, get a pair of new jeans hemmed, and enjoy a fun evening out with my dearest to hear Bob Roll talk about the state of cycling. Hope you have a good one, and here are a few fun posts from around the web…

A new way to make cold-brewed coffee

After 11 years of marriage, I can say this is so true

Priceless was an excellent book

The poet laureate of the High Sierra reminds us why going outside is awesome

Homemade bath crayons and sidewalk paint for the kids

Very cute pet rocks

If I didn’t already have a Halloween costume picked out, I’d be a jellyfish

Yum: Magic Mushroom Soup | Roasted Butternut Squash in Yellow Curry Sauce | Slow Cooker Apple Butter

go for it

When did playing a competitive sport become bullying?

Sometimes I can’t keep my mouth shut. And since this is my blog, I have free reign to tell you what I think – even if it’s about things I generally know little about, like football and parenting.

You may have heard this week that a Texas high school football team is being investigated for “bullying” another team that it beat 91-0. Here’s the story from Fox News:

The coach of a Texas high school football team has been accused of bullying in a formal complaint after his team beat another school 91-0.

In the complaint, the dad of a player on the Western Hills High School football team claims Aledo High School football coach Tim Buchanan encouraged his players to bully their opponents by running up the score. Buchanan learned of the online complaint against him Saturday, the day after his team beat Western Hills in a 4A matchup….

In the report, which was released Tuesday, the unnamed dad lists both football teams as victims and the Aledo High School coaching staff as the offenders. The parent claims “everyone in the football stadium” was a witness to Buchanan and his staff’s “unsportsmanlike conduct.”

“We all witnessed bullying firsthand, it is not a pretty sight,” the complaint reads according to “I did not know what to say on the ride home to explain the behavior of the Aledo coaches for not easing up when the game was in hand.”

That’s right folks, one parent thinks that running up the score in high school football could be bullying. (I bet that parent is also pissed off that little Sammy didn’t get a participation trophy for being on the losing side of a 91-0 score.)

Last time I checked, parents encouraged their kids to participate in competitive sports because of the valuable lessons children can learn from a total defeat. These include: getting back on the horse after getting knocked down and learning from mistakes. Heck, even learning when to quit because you are completely outmatched and might hurt yourself is a useful lesson in cultures that value living to fight another day.

But no, this parent wants the kid to learn that even when you get the snot kicked out of you, fair-and square, you should still figure out if there’s anybody you can whine and complain to because the mean boys didn’t let you have a touchdown. What a terrible dad.

And what do you mean you didn’t know what to say on the ride home? How about, “I’m proud of your effort, despite the outcome.” How about, “Those guys are good. Did you finish your math homework?” How about, “If you want to, we can work on your throwing technique when we get home.” How about ANYTHING OTHER THAN, “You are such a fragile snowflake that the world owes you an apology for exposing your weaknesses.”

To be fair to the other coach, he did what he could to mitigate the damage. He took his starters out, put in his third-string players, and ran the clock. What else should he have done? Have his quarterback hand the football to the opposing team and then cheer them as they ran into the end-zone? I doubt many kids would like to be patronized in this manner.

In my mind, the real problem starts with over-broad anti-bullying laws. In Texas, the education code defines bullying as “engaging in … physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity … and that has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student … or is sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student.”

Umm…isn’t that the very definition of football?!

If you’re gonna play the game, then you’ve got to learn how to deal with fear and intimidation in a constructive manner. Being in an abusive educational environment isn’t bullying, it’s called “high school.”

These anti-bullying laws, collectively, are creating a nation of people who can’t take a beating. (I’m not talking about actual assaults. And we already have laws that criminalize assaults and batteries.) These anti-bullying statutes raise being unhappy into a legal cause of action. Somebody made me sad, somebody called me a name, somebody beat my ass 91-0, bullies should be punished. It’s absolutely ridiculous!

The other half of the problem are the parents – the dads driving home from a football games who “don’t know what to say” to their own kids, and so they look to the system to take on the burden of parenting.

I have a niece and three nephews. Two of them already participate in competitive sports, and I anticipate the other two starting when they are old enough. They are going to be on the losing side of a punishing game, and heaven help me if I say anything on the way home besides, “Do you have a concussion? No? Thank goodness, ‘cause your mom would kill me if you did.”

Meet “the Russian”

After tearing my ACL, my quads on the injured leg stopped functioning normally. I couldn’t contract them forcefully. Actually, I had very little control over them at all.

Four weeks after surgery and thousands of squats later, I still don’t contract them all normally. My vastus medialis, in particular, is kind of wonky.

If you’re keen on knee anatomy, like me, here’s a picture:

My PT decided today that I needed to meet “the Russian.”

Say wha?!

Fortunately, he’s not some sunglasses-wearing mobster intent on cracking my knee a few degrees further. The Russian is just a form of stimulation that uses electricity to contract muscle tissue. A pad does on the part of your leg where the muscle connects to the joint and another pad goes on the belly of the muscle. Then the therapist cranks up the electricity until your muscle contracts. It’s 10 seconds on followed by a 10 second rest. When the electricity is pumping, I’m supposed to contract my muscle at the same time.

The theory behind it is that it helps “re-educate” the muscle. (Ah yes, it has mob roots after all.) Kidding aside, research shows that it may truly help build strength better than exercises alone. Sounds like a arrow, I should be happy to have in my quiver.


Kim KM, Croy T, Hertel J, Saliba S. (2010). Effects of neuromuscular electrical stimulation after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction on quadriceps strength, function, and patient-oriented outcomes: a systematic review. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther.;40(7):383-91. Web. 24 Feb 2013.

It sucked and then I cried

“They” tell you it will be hard. “They” tell you it will be painful. “They” tell you a lot of things about recovering from ACL surgery, which has really not turned out to be all that true for me. After a wreck of a Monday, though, it turns out I don’t have any superpowers against bad days after all.

It started with a voice mail from my therapist. She called to tell me that the billing office thought I only had enough insurance benefits for one or two more appointments. This was a total shock, because I had confirmed with the insurance company before surgery that my PT benefits were not limited to a specific dollar amount or number of visits. My brain boiled while I tried to figure out whether the billing office or the insurance company was pulling my leg.

I’d also been struggling with the fact that my kneecap wasn’t tracking properly. It wasn’t all that bad, I thought, just annoying really. If it wasn’t in the right track, it hurt to bend my leg. So I didn’t. Fixing it was simply a matter of standing on my good leg and shaking out the bad leg or physically pushing my kneecap sideways with my hand until it went back into the track.

The accumulation of days of little out-of-track bends, though, had caused my knee to swell up until it hurt pretty much all the time. An ibuprofen might have helped, but it didn’t even occur to me to take one. Duh! By the time I got to the PT’s office in the evening, I didn’t want to bend the knee.

I sat down, and the therapy assistant asked me how I was doing. Because this is the one place I feel like total honesty about my knee is required, I responded, “Not very good today.” My therapist took me to a private room where the emotional rope tying me together unwound.

She massaged. I cried.

She didn’t say “I told you so.”  Instead, she told me how proud of me she was for how far I had come in just four weeks.

Right now, I’m a little scared. But I am doing it. Day after day. There is going to come a time, when I’m fully recovered, when I will have to tell you how great my knee feels. Right now, I don’t have to do that. I can tell you, though, that behind every great recovery is a PT who is a therapist first.