Health, Mindfulness, Motivation, NINJA, Perspective

Ninja Journey through Total Hip Replacement

“So you’re telling me I didn’t pull my hip flexor?”

“No ma’am. Look at the x-rays. You need a total hip replacement.”

After that shocking bit of news, I zoned out and stared at the not-so-pretty picture of my bone-on-bone hip socket and two nasty looking dragon claw bone spurs thinking Seriously? A total freaking hip replacement? I’m too young for this.

The only reason I had even made this appointment was because my chiropractor had exhausted every massage, ultrasound, adjustment, and joint manipulation technique he had in his considerable bag of tricks and had delivered the sad news that there was nothing more he could do for me. The MRI showed nothing amiss that he or the radiologist could see, and his x-rays on me, taken three years ago when my pain had begun, showed ample space in the socket.

He was stumped. I was frustrated.

I had danced on Broadway. I had a fifth-degree black belt in To Shin Do Ninjutsu. I was not a gimpy old lady. I hiked in the mountains and power-walked along the coast every day. Or rather, I did before my hip went into critical lockdown.

“You’re sure I didn’t tear a hip flexor?”

“Positive.”

“Huh.” I thought of the decades of abuse I had forced on my body. “Well, I guess I came by it honestly.”

 I had chronic back issues since my dancing days in Cats. I had pulled or sprained muscles and joints from my neck to my toes. I had been hit, bent, thrown, dropped, and crushed. I had torqued my body in directions normal people reserved for Cirque de Solei performers. I had experienced this kind of pain my entire life; and no one had ever suggested surgeries or joint replacements. I had never even broken a bone.

I wished I could call my dad, but I couldn’t because my sisters and I had scattered his ashes in the ocean only a few weeks before.

Had the stress of caring for Dad through death contributed to my orthopedic crisis?

Certainly the long car rides and awkward positions—sitting at his bedside, writing in waiting rooms, sleeping on the couch between visits to his rehabilitation nursing facility—had aggravated my arthritic hip. But I also couldn’t discount the physical effect of emotional stress. I had lost both my parents within a year.

And yet, through all of the emotional stress, I managed to stay positive and productive. I finished my novel, rewrote another, and had two short stories published in anthologies. I meditated, ate well, cared for my family, and hiked or walked at least five times a week.

Which was why I wanted to tell Dad about this crazy hip replacement!

To him, I was Wonder Woman,
Super Mom, and Florence Nightingale
all mushed into one badass ninja package.

All of these thoughts played in the background of my mind as my husband and I listened to the surgeon’s explanation about how osteoarthritis had deteriorated my hip joint.

“The injury you thought you experienced was probably the tipping point. You had pain, but you could still function. Now you can’t, which is typical. Your accelerated decline over the last two months means the time has come to replace the hip.”

I could remember the exact moment of my supposed injury. I had been on my porch warming up for a mountain hike with a cardio routine I had devised using a six-foot oak staff, based on Ninjutsu fighting techniques. It was a classic case of me going too far, too fast, and too hard. Now, gray-haired grannies were whizzing by me in movie theaters, and rising from a couch had become a major event.

“Wait and see. You’ll be able to do whatever you want: ski, dance, martial arts. You’ll be amazed. This surgery will eliminate your pain.”

“How long is the recovery?”

“Three months.”

I stared at my soon-to-be-surgeon, trying to process what it might be like to take one of those Zumba classes I had heard about or making love without massive pillow constructions to immobilize my body.

My husband smiled, making me wonder if he could read my thoughts. “You’re not really be surprised by any of this, are you? After all those years of dance and martial arts abuse?”

I shook my head. “Shocked but not surprised.”

THREE MONTHS POST HIP REPLACEMENT

The surgery went wonderfully.

I recovered at my usual pace and efficiency. In fact, when I finally made an appointment with a physical therapist one month later, he was amazed by my balance, strength, and mobility. I got the green light to rely on my ample knowledge and experience (from teaching dance, martial arts, and body work/training) and told to call if I ever needed him in the future.

I continued my rehabilitation with care then amped up my expectations and goals when I hit the surgeon’s three-month mark. (Check out my Ballet Barre Therapy) Then I pushed. And paid.

I felt more pain at three months than I had at three-weeks. And yet, this did not alarm me. In fact, from my professional athlete point of view, this seemed logical. After all, I was demanding more of the joint and pushing the muscles. Why wouldn’t it hurt more? So I kept pushing—and crippled myself back to the pre-op days.

Four days later, I got the news that we had to move.

So, barely recuperated by my burst of rehabilitation enthusiasm, I pushed through four weeks of deep squats, heavy lifting, and carting bags and boxes up stairs.

Which leads me to yesterday and my reunion with the physical therapist.

FOUR MONTHS-ONE WEEK POST HIP REPLACEMENT

I explained my suffering and my concern that I wouldn’t regain my former agility if I didn’t push myself, and assured my physical therapist that I had been resting after my five-week ordeal.

“How long have you been taking it easy?”

I gave the question serious thought. “Five days.”

He laughed.

The rest of the appointment was both amusing and illuminating. Apparently, I already have amazing motion and don’t need any more at this point. What I need is strength to control the mobility I have. What’s more, I should forget the magical three-month recovery mark and shoot for full operation in a year.

Talk about an expectation/perspective adjustment!

So now at my new home, in my delightfully sunny kitchen, writing the first blog I’ve had time to write in five months, and feeling pain-free even after the PT’s stretch-band exercises. Most of our belongings are put away and I’ve been rewriting a short story I’ll submit today. Life is good and finally calm again. And I gotta say: It feels wonderful!

POST-OP HEALING TIPS

1) Slow and equal beats a fast and limping. (walkers are great for this)
2) More movement requires more rest (preferably with ice and elevation)
3) Backpacks are awesome (even inside the home)
4) Do your PT exercises diligently throughout the day
5) Accept and embrace the process

Health, Motivation, Perspective, Writing

Self-Discipline: Enemy of a Good Time or Key to Achieving Your Goals?

Say the word discipline and watch those around you either cringe or nod in sage agreement. At least, that’s what happens to me. And I use this word all the time.

For many people, the D-word brings up visions of tyrant drill sergeants and habit-wearing nuns snapping wooden rulers on the fingers of unsuspecting (and clearly undeserving!) students. It’s the killer of creativity, a crusher of spirit, and the rigid antithesis to fluidity. Sticking “self” in front of “discipline” only means we’ve agreed to do it to ourselves.

And then there are the people like me, who credit self-discipline for their greatest creative achievements, most notable successes, and continued youthful appearance. Am I nuts? Very possibly. But in case I’m your kind of nuts, read on for tips on how I use self-discipline to self-motivate, self-inspire, and otherwise kick my own self into action pretty much every day.Read more

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Mindfulness, Motivation, NINJA, Writing

Year of Calm, Smooth Efficiency

“Mom, you’re moving too fast,” my eldest son said, as I chopped, scooped, and tossed a butcher knife full of veggies in a sizzling wok, nearly slicing my wandering husband in the process.

I froze, mid-step, in the center of my narrow kitchen and assessed the scene. Sure enough, I had been zipping like The Flash from one cooking station to another in frantic dash to get my gourmet dinner on a perfectly set table before any of the seven courses dropped in temperature. However, as my son so accurately pointed out, I was not The Flash. No one is.Read more

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Stay Calm and Get It Done

I began this Mindful Musing in the Tom Bradly International Terminal on my way to Bali for a long awaited book-research trip. Since then I’ve enjoyed a thirteen hour flight on EVA Airlines, during which time I stretched much, slept little, watched movies, and ate jook for breakfast—a rice porridge also known as congee made with minced pork, and in this case, sprinkled with dried bits of fish. The jook was a particularly auspicious treat since it’s comfort food for the heroine of my ninja vigilante thriller. All in all, a good beginning to my real life adventure that now, apparently, includes a typhoon in Taipei!Read more

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Finding Our Tribe

Even when engaged in a solitary endeavor such as writing, community matters. Perhaps more so. How else can we truly connect except by helping one another, sharing stories, and rejoicing in each other’s success? It is far too easy to lose ourselves in the obsessive passions that drive us forward or to succumb to the demons and worries that threaten to hold us back. Whether we are consumed with career, school, exploration, creativity, or mastery, our lives are benefited by meaningful interaction with our tribe.Read more

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Empowerment, Motivation, NINJA, Writing

Warrior Women – An Essay on Empowerment

You probably know I’m a writer, but did you know I’m a ninja?

I’m not using the word in the popular sense—as a synonym for awesome or as a generic term for any skilled martial artist. I’m using the word in the literal sense to describe someone who has studied, trained, and earned a master’s rank in the modern evolution of the ancient art of the ninja. Yeah… it’s pretty heady stuff.Read more

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Starting the New Year with Discipline, Inspiration & Momentum

Gong Hey Fat Choy!  Happy Chinese New Year!

Are you ready for the Year of the Fire Monkey?  I certainly am.  In fact as I write these musings, I’m sprawled in exhaustion from cleaning the last bits of Wood Sheep energy from my house!  It’s just one of the many rituals I do to focus my intent on the New Year.  Why?  Because coordinating mindful action with a significant occasion leads to powerful and meaningful results!Read more

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Calming Emotions, Empowerment, Motivation, Perspective, Writing

Energize the Waiting

“I love to wait!” said no one, EVER. And yet, we can’t seem to a avoid it.

We check our emails on the hour (or minutes) for responses from agents, editors, and casting directors. We stare at our phones (and test the connection), willing them to ring with news of that hard earned promotion or the house of our dreams. We pace our floors (or pound our heads) waiting for test results and customer service, plumbers and computer techs, heartthrobs and children. And no matter how fast we work or how efficiently we manage our affairs, every series of actions seems to be followed by an even longer and more grueling period of waiting for some omnipotent entity to say YES!Read more

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Empowerment, Health, Mindfulness, Motivation, Writing

5 Empowering Things to Do While Walking

In this age of sedentary occupations, busy schedules, and convenient modes of transportation, most of us do not exercise as much as we would like. Every option seems to take more time than we have and/or more money than we can afford—except walking. Once we get up from our desk and head out the door, we’ve begun. It’s as simple as that. But it can also get boring. So here are five empowering ways to keep you engaged and motivated.Read more

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Happy Detours

I am burning this date—December 1, 2014—into the hard-drive of my mind. This way, I can retrieve it anytime I feel undermined by doubt or weary from effort. Why? Because this is the publishing month for my first work of fiction. It never occurred to me that that work would be a short story. Life is full of pleasant surprises!Read more

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Mindfulness, Motivation

Sleep on It

Have you ever had one of those grueling days when the river of creativity was so obstructed that you could count the literary drops that seeped through the cracks? I hate those days. It’s as if all my doubts, assumptions, and distractions have joined forces to build a damn, leaving me floundering in a dry and wordless riverbed.

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Why Feel Bad?

I see many well-meaning slogans encouraging us to embrace imperfections, anything from extra pounds, to volatile social skills. You know the ones. They declare to the world that we are perfect just the way we are, and that others need to fix their perceptions of us. Either that, or they can just leave us the hell alone!

On the surface, this sounds like a good thing: there is great power and peace in acceptance. The problem that I have with some of these slogans is that they imply that any attempt to correct an imperfection is an act of self-denial.

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Year of the Green Wooden Horse

Happy Lunar New Year! We are now in the Year of the Green Wooden Horse and I’m excited about the possibilities. Already I am feeling more focused, GreenWoodHorseenergized, and committed. I’m not entirely sure this has to do with the Chinese zodiac, but from everything that I’ve read it seems as though the year of the horse holds great promise for success. That is, if we’re willing to put in some diligent effort!

Which makes me wonder—Is it really any different than any other year?Read more

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Launching Empowered Living Radio with a Powerful Discussion on Personal Responsibility

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Weekly Live/Podcast that Shares Strategies to Celebrate Life

Well, in less than a week I will be debuting the first episode of Empowered Living Radio!  This is a topic oriented show and the first topic is a big one—Personal Responsibility.  Those two words trigger a variety of emotions in people, everything from defensiveness to pride, bringing up thoughts of blame, shame, and even politics.  Independently and together these two words are emotionally charged.  They are also the foundation for healing and empowerment.Read more