Sam is Checking in for December 2022

What happened in December?

It’s a bit of a blur really. Work was exceptionally busy right up until the university closed.

Of course there was Christmas.

Bikes on the Christmas tree

There was a lot of snow and then a lot of rain and associated travel challenges.

I ate a lot of chocolate.

I rode my bike on Zwift.

I completed the reading challenge.

2022 reading challenge

I worked out 440 times in 2022, including snow shoeing at the farm.

Over the holidays I played some games.

I did a ton of physio. Of course. And my knee is being helped by massage therapy too. Thank goodness for benefits.

I also got fitted for a knee brace for my right knee. Sarah has been helping with the snazzy physio tape which seems to help with swelling.

I had a bit of a slip on the no shopping pledge but I’ve re-upped for 2023 until July 2023.

My left knee has good days and bad days. Sometimes I get sad and frustrated that everything still hurts and other days it seems I can walk easily without my cane.

Here’s hoping for more of the good days in 2023.

fitness · strength training

Checking in after total knee replacement surgery, 7 weeks out: Sam is returning to her Activities of Daily Living

First, I had my six week follow up with the surgeon last week. Everything looks good. Next check up is by phone at 3 months and we’ll talk then about the schedule for my right knee.

Second, the physio recommendation from the surgeon says to focus on five things: extension and flexion (bending and straightening of the operated knee), strength training, balance, gait, and a return to the Activities of Daily Living. It actually said “return to ADL” and I had the look up what that meant.

I think that means stairs, dishes, laundry, etc. I’m walking about the house now loudly proclaiming, look at me doing an activity of daily living. The thrill will wear off I’m sure.

Third, in addition to physio and my daily living activities, I’m busy with aquafit two or three times a week. I’m also riding my bike on the trainer 15-20 minutes a day. Cheddar and I are walking again. He’s such a patient lovely dog and great walking at my speed, whatever that speed is, and not taking off after squirrels.

Chase and Cheddar. My mum’s other dog Charlie is a little camera shy.

Fourth, I’m back at work and feeling happy to be re-engaged with the wider world outside my house, my left knee, and physio. The trick will be not over extending myself. I had the option of staying off work for 12 weeks, rather than 6, and so I am thinking of the first 6 weeks back as a chance to say no to some of the weekend and evening dean stuff and involve other people.

Sam in her office

I’m trying not to fret about late fall, and dark November days. I’m going to all the holiday parties this year, no matter how early. I’m going to enjoy the hot tub and sauna at my fancy new gym. It also feels good to be back in my office clothes and not just wearing shorts, t-shirts, sneakers, and hoodies. I’m also very much looking forward to extending my time on the bike. Right now, I’m spinning most evenings for 20 min or so, while watching campy movies with my son Gavin. But soon I’ll back on Zwift doing some of the slow social rides.

The tree in my front yard that’s gloriously red in October, stick like in November.

Here’s me checking in after Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week Four, Week Five and Week 6.


Sam is checking in for September 2022: Five weeks after knee replacement surgery

It’s October. What?!

It’s been five weeks now since knee replacement surgery and mostly things are looking up. I’m sleeping reasonably well, reading books again (let me recommend, in particular, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin) and walking more and more each day. I’m also getting bored and I’m ready to get back to work which I think is a Very Good Sign.

I even snuck onto campus for a few hours for a bridal shower lunch for a colleague. Shhh!

Sam’s on campus selfies

I started out the month with Tiny Walks–just down the street and back–progressed to around the block, and this morning for the first time, walked more than around the block. Cheddar in particular was pleased.

Here is an interesting snapshot of increased activity. It’s my weekly step count. It seems shockingly low but it doesn’t include any walking about the house. It’s incomplete because it’s from Google Fit which requires me to have my phone with me. I haven’t been wearing my Garmin watch since knee surgery. The first week is right after surgery.

Here is Cheddar napping after our Saturday walk in my ‘ice and elevate’ living room location. Don’t worry. I will move him. If you read about my middle of the night pillow purchasing rampage, here’s one of them.

Cheddar napping on the sofa

Pain management is going well. Sometimes now I notice my right knee hurting though. Sigh. I’m not sure if that’s because I am relying more on that knee or if it’s because comparatively the left knee is hurting less. It’s likely a mix of column A and column B.

I’m still icing and elevating the left knee a lot. I might continue to do that at work in my office. Still, overall, some days and in some ways, it now hurts less than pre-surgery. Stairs might even be getting easier. I’m no longer dependent on the ‘good leg goes to heaven, bad leg goes to hell’ technique.

Around the house I’m no longer needing to use crutches or a cane most of the time which means I can carry things around, like coffee and books! But also, laundry and dishes. It’s nice not to be planning my day around minimizing trips up and down stairs.

I wish, I wish I could pedal forwards on my bike on the trainer but there’s progress all the time. I can pedal forwards on the recumbent bikes at the gym and I can pedal backwards on my bike on the trainer at home. It’s so weird that backwards is easier. Joint mobility is the thing I am working on the most and it’s the part of physio that’s painful and the thing I stress about. I so miss riding my bike.

Sam on the recumbent bike at the gym with her cane dangling off the bike bars

By way of distraction, this week I’m excited that the blog’s Catherine Womack is visiting and giving a talk at the University of Guelph.

October 6, Catherine Womack, gives a talk at the University of Guelph

On the occasion of Catherine’s visit to Guelph, Sarah and I hosted a BBQ for those fit feminist bloggers who were able to make it. Ellen was at the BBQ but left before we took the photo but here’s Brett, Meghan, Nicole, me, Mallory, Catherine, and Sarah. My mother Kathleen was also in attendance but she was taking the photo. Thanks mum!

Backyard bloggers’ BBQ

I’ve also joined a fancy local gym since I recognize that much of my physical activity over the winter will need to be indoors. I’ll keep doing personal training with the world’s best personal trainer (hi Meg!) at the university gym but will be going to aquafit and lifting weights and maybe even going to hot yoga at the fancier place. Gyms with wood paneling and juice bars aren’t usually where I feel I belong but it’s going to be a long winter and they have a lovely pool with lots of fitness classes. I’m looking forward to it.

I’m going to indulge in hot tubs and massage therapy as I make my way through knee surgery recovery. I’m steeling myself as we plan for knee number two.

Here’s me checking in after Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 and Week 4.

family · fitness

Sam is checking in for August

On the bright side, August saw me riding outside and paddling my canoe. It felt like I finally got to do some of my usual summertime things. I even got to ride with someone in addition to Sarah. Hi Kim! Thanks for riding with us.

On the one hand, it felt like summer at long last. Yay! On the other hand, it also felt like the end of summer, because of course, it is.

Time is weird enough in these pandemic days. Add the start of the university year/end of summer to that and it’s very definitely a bit of a fuzzy mess.

I’ve been moving lots through it all though. I think in the 220 workouts in 220 groups I’m in, I’m up to more than 260 workouts. That’s a lot for me. But it’s been a bit random. And I worry that as the work pace picks up in September, workouts will fall by the wayside.

In light of that worry, I’ve signed up for a 30 day women’s cycling training program. So far, I’ve learned, that for me racing is easy but working out alone on the trainer is hard. I mean, I’m doing the workouts in the virtual world that is Zwift but I’m not connected with anyone riding in Zwift. It’s a struggle.

Of course racing isn’t actually easy. Sometimes it’s very tough. But I’ve got lots of motivation that can be hard for me to find in other contexts. I’ve been loving the team time trials the best.

Let’s see if this 30 day challenge works. I’ll report back when it’s over and let you know how it went.

We’ve also got a personal trainer coming to our backyard to workout with me, my mum, and Sarah once a week. It’s lots of fun. We’re going to keep that up until the snow is too much, I think.

That’s been terrific because my fitness oriented/weight lifting son moved out to live with friends. We’re worrying a bit less about covid-19 without him here and he’s enjoying a bit more freedom but I really miss working out with him at lunch.

Looking ahead for September I’m also doing a different kind of 30 day challenge, one focused on equity.

30 Day Challenge: A Daily Practice Challenging Barriers to Equity

“Throughout the month of September, Wellness@Work is challenging you to register and participate in the 30 Day Challenge from Wellbeing Waterloo Region. This challenge is focused on daily practices challenging barriers to equity. Each day, there is a short activity to help you learn, reflect and practice small actionable steps you can take.  The challenges help to increase understanding and build capacity on topics including, unconscious bias, social inclusion and various forms of privilege. The daily practices include short videos, articles, reflection questions and suggestions for actions you can take.”

Again, I’ll let you know how it goes.


Sam’s monthly check in: Well, July was a blur…

Like most academics I’m shocked and surprised that is August. How did that happen? Yikes!

August is like the Sunday of summer

August is when I realize I haven’t started all the writing projects I thought I’d make slow but steady progress on over the summer and that I’m teaching a grad seminar in a few weeks in addition to deaning. It’ll all be fine. I’ll get it all done. But the sense of endless summer weeks stretching out ahead of me are gone.

This summer had a slow pandemic-related start in terms of getting to do all the warm weather outdoorsy things I like to do. Like, I’m finally going canoe camping but next week but August is a bit late for my first time out paddling.

Also, I’ve got to say, this year, 2020, the year that started for us worrying about the youngest child and Australian bush fires and has been a blur of Covid-19 ever since, has turned me from a low grade worry wart to a full on ‘anxious about all the people in my life’ sort of parent. I want to give August a stern talking to.

A stern talking to the month of August. Be quiet and behave.

July did see me getting outside more on my bike. In fact, July’s fitness highlights were all bike related. I loved weekends of ice cream rides at Sarah’s farm which included outdoor, physically distant visits with friends. I also loved riding and racing on Zwift where I’ve joined Team TFC.

Here’s the team guidelines which I like and seem to be held to:

  1. TFC is a close knit community so all riders should be ready to help and give advice to all members.
  2. Be passionate about the team and support team mates wherever possible.
  3. All riders should work towards a common goal of trying to improve the team
  4. Respect other riders on the platform.
  5. Respect the ride and ride leader especially if it is another group ride.
  6. In a group ride be ready to help riders who may be struggling.
  7. Remember that the idea of racing is to improve so give 100% every race.
  8. Enjoy the time on the platform whether that is a ride, race, workout or a social spin.

I’ve also started getting outside for work visits with coworkers. Wherever possible I’m trying to do things outside. I’m nervous about the winter ahead.

I’ve also been feeling kind of weepy about missing the bike rally and riding with big groups of people. You can make me feel better by sponsoring me in the virtual rally.

I’m trying not to live to much in memories of things I did close up with lots of other people in years past and in anticipation of doing those things again in the future, but sometimes I let myself indulge.

In that spirit, here’s some photos from rides in years past.

Finally, I don’t know where things stand with my knee replacement. I don’t know if things have gotten better or if I’ve just gotten used to it but the good news is that it isn’t getting worse. I also don’t know if in light of COVID-19 it’s been delayed at all.

Stay tuned!

219 in 2019 · cycling · fitness

Sam is quickly checking in for December

I think it’s mostly good news really. My knee isn’t worse. I’m walking more. It still hurts a lot but there’s a lot of research that suggests moving anyway is better than not. See here.

I made it! 300 workouts in 2019. The goal was 219 in 2019 but that went by months ago. I thought 300 was too ambitious but by counting physio I did it.

I passed my indoor cycling exam.

I’ve been riding in Zwift lots.

Zwift at the Bike Shed in Guelph

Still waiting for the snow for fat bike riding.

The only bit of bad news is my arthritic toe