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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Relief

If you're interested in my kneecap dislocation story, you can find my other posts here.
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Slowly I'm building back trust in my knee again.

The MRI results were perfect. No loose pieces of cartilage, no meniscus tears and no ACL damage. The ligaments holding my kneecap in place have all been stretched out, but that's to be expected after a full dislocation. Increasing my muscle strength will help compensate for this, along with wearing a brace during high impact activities. My orthopedic surgeon was happy with my recovery and I was discharged from his care.  

These really are the best results I could have hoped for. No surgery, no lengthy recovery, no further delay to my thesis, and no need for an expensive, customized knee brace. 

Things are looking up for the start of 2016!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Kneecap Dislocation: 6 Month Update

If you're interested in my kneecap dislocation story, you can find my other posts here.
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Hi everyone! I figured it was about time for an injury update, since I previously mentioned it would take up to 6 months until I was fully recovered. 

Since then, I've had some setbacks. At my 3 month follow-up appointment my orthopedic surgeon found my gait concerning. I was still having issues fully extending my leg while walking, which is a possible sign of a cartilage or meniscus fragment blocking my knee. He decided to put me on a waitlist for an MRI scan (I'd previously only had X-rays). He didn't seem too concerned though, and gave me the go-ahead to resume all my normal activities.

My MRI was scheduled for early November, which was three months away at the time. In the meantime, I followed the direction of my wonderful physiotherapist and slowly built up the atrophied muscles in my left leg. Although my surgeon told me I could resume all my usual sports, my physiotherapist advised that I avoid high-impact activities until I built back the muscles that would stabilize my knee. 

 It's really been an exercise in patience. The muscle I've been rebuilding is located on the inner quad and is called the vastus medialis (VMO). The VMO is crucial for knee strength and support, but it's also impossible to isolate. So I've been slowly building strength, first with isometric exercises, then progressing to quarter squats, quarter lunges, wall sits, leg presses, and finally to full squats, lunges, leg extensions. As I built up strength my gait returned to normal; I suppose my poor leg was so weak before that it couldn't hold my body weight while fully extended. 

Image by Geneer Construction
My knee will crack a lot more now, and sometimes I notice a painless friction as I bend my knee (which makes me wonder whether I do have a meniscus tear or some wear). I've since had my MRI, which was a really interesting experience. The Burnaby General's MRI facility was really calming, with an artificial sunlight above the machine. I was tall enough that my head stuck out of the machine so I could stare at the clouds during the 30 minute scan. 

I have an appointment to hear the results on Tuesday of this week. I'm hoping I can avoid surgery if possible, because I'd hate to go through another long recovery and rehabilitation. I'll keep you posted on the news. For now, I wish I could have built up my VMO and muscles a little more before this appointment. There's still a visible difference between my legs, but at least now I can squat and have what's considered full range of motion.  

I figured I'd share some photos of my knee/leg at the 6 month milestone:


As you can see, I'm still a little off from my original muscle size and flexibility...but it's getting there! It's been a long road, and the worst part about this injury was definitely the anxiety. There's nothing worse than not trusting your body, and every step of the way I've had to fight a fear that my knee would crumble under my weight again. 

Tomorrow I'll try jogging for the first time since May (I've been avoiding it until I was more comfortable with my leg strength). Hopefully it will be an empowering experience. I can sense that I'm almost back to normal now. Hopefully it'll be soon.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Penticton

This summer my parents were supposed to make a trip out to British Columbia to pay me a visit. Unfortunately, my knee injury made sightseeing and travelling difficult, so we thought it was best to put off the trip. By August I was finally regaining my strength, so my mom and dad booked a flight into Vancouver for September. We spent several rainy days sightseeing and shopping in Vancouver, and then drove into the rain shadow of the Okanagan Valley for some wine tasting.

We stayed in Penticton while we were there. Maybe it's because it's such a different climate and environment, but I found the landscape stunning. Between the sagebrush, the sky and the lakes, there was blue everywhere you looked.


While there, we decided to check out a lookout on Munson Mountain, which is decorated with a giant "Penticton" sign. It wasn't a very high mountain, but this was my first attempt walking up a steep incline since the kneecap dislocation. I was perfectly fine taking it slow and got a much-needed confidence boost. At the top, there's a 360° view of the region.

I hope you've all been well!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

milk and honey

This is one of the best gifts I've ever received. It was gifted to me during the summer, in the midst of my knee injury when I was consumed with feelings of defeat. It's such a beautiful and important collection of poetry, and I wish I could gift it to all of my female friends. 

Please check out this poet's beautiful work here if you're interested. She writes about abuse, loss, love and recovery, and does so in a way that I found very healing.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Snapshots from Seattle

Here are some photos from a recent trip to Seattle, featuring the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, the Fremont troll, Pier 57 and the gorgeous waterfront. It's been awhile since I've been able to explore a new city and I really missed the feeling. Seattle really grew on me. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Testing Oil Pastels

Lately I've been feeling unfocused and unmotivated with my thesis goals. I've been hard on myself this summer, especially given how much I've fallen behind since my knee injury. I find during times like this I tend to punish my poor productivity by forcing myself to continue working into evenings and weekends  all while becoming even more unproductive. Yesterday I realized I had to break the bad work-life cycle, so I set aside some time to do something creative. 

I had an untouched set of oil pastels in my art kit that I felt like testing out. I have no experience using oil pastels (and it probably shows), but the medium provided a new challenge. My pastels were very cheap, so I found they weren't as bendable as I had expected. Regardless, I think I'm happy with my first attempt!



I felt like drawing a duck, so I took a look through my blog archive and found this post. I decided to draw a Northern Shoveler that I photographed in 2012 in Kingston, Ontario. I had a much harder time with the water than anything else; as you can see, I couldn't quite get the colors right. 

I find doing artistic tasks has a way of burning out my restless energy more than anything else. Perhaps I'm growing so restless in the first place because I don't take any time to stimulate my artistic side? My thesis is very logical and math-based, so I have less opportunity to get creative. 

Let me know if you guys like these sorts of art posts! I could make a point to share something new every week or two, since I think I'll continue doing sketches more regularly. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

My Return to Hiking – Rolley Lake


Last Saturday I completed my first hike since dislocating my kneecap earlier in May! My rehabilitation has been very conservative because this was a first-time dislocation, and as I've started walking without a brace I've been very anxious. To help build my confidence, I've started walking more when running errands or travelling. With every new experience my leg seems to get stronger, as does my confidence.

Now that I've become more competent and mobile, I've been able to be social and adventurous again. Marina and I has been planning on having a picnic this summer, and on Saturday we decided to make a trip out to Rolley Lake Provincial Park. I thought this park would be a great idea; it has a beautiful beach with a picnic area and a walking trail surrounding the lake. We had a delicious lunch and managed to enjoy the sunshine for a few hours by the beach. Afterwards, we decided to tackle the 5 km hike around the lake, which began as a boardwalk and then transitioned to a forested trail. 

I experienced no pain during the walk, but I did need to take breaks every 15 minutes to rest. Thankfully Marina was very understanding and supportive the whole time. It was wonderful to be outside again, and I'm feeling much more positive after this achievement. Hopefully I'll continue to have good news regarding the knee. I'm determined to reclaim the last few weeks of summer!

Friday, July 10, 2015

British Columbia is on Fire

It's been a very dry year for British Columbia. There's very little snow pack up in the mountains and the lower mainland is already running out of water in our natural reservoirs. A heat wave has been scouring the province for several weeks now, creating a huge fire risk throughout our forests.

There are currently 197 fires burning throughout British Columbia, with about 30 expected to ignite each day. There was even a short-lived forest fire up on campus due to a lit cigarette. It seems nature is a tinderbox right now.

Normally the effect of large fires don't immediately impact Vancouver and it's surrounding cities. However, smoke was recently pushed into the lower mainland by changing wind conditions. I was out of the province for the worst of it, but I saw pictures of Vancouver shrouded in smoke. An air quality advisory was put in place due to all the smoke and ash.

I flew into Vancouver on Wednesday night, and even by then I could still see signs of the forest fires.


What may look like a dark rain cloud is actually a thick blanket of smoke. As we got closer to Vancouver, the plane descended and I realized the gloomy reality.

When I first landed in Vancouver I could smell the smoke. It was so strange walking around in the gloom when I had just been above it all and knew that the sun was shining brightly. 

Today was the first day the smoke started clearing. There was a little bit of rain this morning and the wind direction changed. The air quality advisory has been lifted, and the forecasts say it might rain this weekend. Let's hope! If there's one thing our forests need it would be some long awaited water. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Rainy Canada Day

Happy belated Canada Day to all my Canadian readers! 

This Canada Day I was back with my family in Ottawa, where the weather was rainy and dreary.  I opted to avoid any crowds or parties since I'm still recovering from my kneecap dislocation. Instead, I went with my dad  who was celebrating his birthday  on a rainy walk at the Mer Bleu Bog. We stuck to the boardwalk so walking would be easy for me, and my dad offered to carry my crutches as I hobbled around taking pictures. We got poured on during our walk and I had ironically forgotten my raincoat in sunny Vancouver. It was so worthwhile though. I've really missed moments like these after suffering my knee injury.






Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Butterfly Bush



We picked some flowers off of a trampled butterfly bush in order to identify the plant. We mistakenly thought it might have been some type of lilac...but we should have known it didn't smell good enough to be a lilac.