Runner’s Hysterectomy Journey – 8 weeks later, and summary of activity during the 6 week recovery period!

Hmm, so somehow it’s 8 weeks later and I’m in Prince George again for a follow-up appointment with my surgeon tomorrow! Life goes by so fast, it’s crazy. I have been running since August 19th, which was day 39 of healing. I felt good and went for it, taking it easy on my favourite 5k trail. Since then I’ve done a 75 minute and two 90 minute long run efforts (on top of usual easy running during the week), and I have a 1:45 coming up this Sunday! Things are feeling totally fine, just slightly more challenging than pre-op, which is to be expected, all things considered. I’ve gone back to work a little bit over the last couple weeks, and will be returning full-time next week. Yay, money.

So many exciting things have happened since I had the operation, which is cool because as I’ve said before, I didn’t exactly anticipate this summer to be an “exciting” time! I was selected as one of the first Canadian ambassadors for ATHLETIC BREWING!! Athletic Brewing, in my opinion, is truly the world’s best non-alcoholic beer!! If you want to check it out, my link is HERE and my 20% off code for your first order is JAMIEK20 – I like the Freewave hazy IPA the best, but everything is good, including the All-Out Stout, which I wasn’t sure I would enjoy!

I also got an inflatable SUP from my husband for an anniversary gift, which I LOVE and will be a great core-building tool! We added a (new to us) Peloton bike to the basement sweat cave, which will be priceless during the northern BC fall/winter season, and will help me stay on top of cross-training and the general cycling situation in preparation for IRONMAN CANADA next August! I can’t believe it. I am registered for a 140.6! Next week Boston 2023 registration opens up, and this alone is the most exciting thing I will ever be eligible to do. HOLY SHIT. Fingers and toes are crossed.

Yesterday I did my first official workout back with my coach, which was 20 minute warm-up, 4x3min @ goal marathon pace with 90 second easy rests, 15 minutes warm-down. It was harder than I’d have liked it to feel, but completely manageable. As I told my coach yesterday, I feel patient with my body but also very determined and optimistic! Twelve and a half weeks til CIM!

It’s been a serious confidence booster looking back at all of the activity I did during the first 6 weeks post-op. This is similar to the confidence journal I was using during marathon training! I’ve mentioned that as a runner, to me a week begins on Monday. So, even though I had the surgery on a Tuesday (12th), these weeks still run Monday through Sunday. Here’s the whole summary, and for reference, the yoga sessions included some single-leg strength and stability work.

Week 1: July 11th – July 17th

  • Swimming (day before operation) – 550m open water
  • the last run (morning of operation) – 7km
  • Walking – 20km – longest walk 4.85km
  • Yoga – 30 minutes – longest session 20 minutes

Week 2: July 18th – July 24th

  • Walking – 50km (927m gain). A few kilometres were hiking. Longest sesh 10km

(most of that was in Mexico and the heat really increased the intensity! Highly recommend)

  • Yoga – 1 hour – longest session was 25 minutes

Week 3: July 25th – July 31st

  • Walking – 58km (1205m gain), 1.6km was a very steep hike – longest walk 12km
  • Yoga – 68 minutes – longest session 30 minutes

Week 4: August 1st – August 7th – the week the hiking really began!

  • Walking – 24km (400m gain)
  • Hiking – 38km (8.5 hours, 2400m gain)
  • Yoga – 53 min – longest session 20 minutes

Week 5: August 8th – 14th

  • Walking – 30km (300m gain)
  • Hiking – 24km (5 hours, 1680m gain)
  • strength session with light weights: 15 min

Week 6: August 15th – 21st

  • Walking – 12km
  • Hiking – 8k (1.5 hours, 240m gain)
  • Jog-walking & jogging – 35km (4 hours)
  • SUP – 1 hour

Whoa. That makes me happy!

I’ve been using the Peloton to add more time in the aerobic zone without adding too much running too soon, and I’m pumped that Masters’ swim club starts up again next week! My plan is to swim twice a week, continue with the 5-6 running days/week with my coach, and throw in a spin class and/or strength training on the days that I run workouts or long runs, keeping the hard days hard and easy days EASY.

OH. I forgot one more exciting thing. I got my VDot Distance Run Coaching certification while recovering! I plan to make a separate post all about it, but I am very excited to start offering coaching in the 5k to marathon distances in the later fall, in preparation for spring race season!

If you are reading this and have a hysterectomy coming up in your future, please stay optimistic. The time off has proven to be an incredible period of mental rejuvenation, variety in activity, a chance to get some shit done that might not happen otherwise due to busy schedules, and generally an excellent time for learning and self-reflection.

Reach out if you need to!

Jamie

Runner’s Hysterectomy Recovery – day 39, still here!

Wow I disappeared for a bit there. When I was approaching this operation, I had a vision of myself moping around at home for 6 weeks, blogging each day for something to do and going stir crazy. It has been such a pleasant surprise, this entire process! The last two weeks my life has felt so normal. The amount of activity I’ve been doing, though not running, has kept my lifestyle what is normally is, and I feel like myself! The time off work and running has been valuable in so many ways and for anyone who might think that summer is a shitty time to be out on surgical recovery, I don’t think it has been shitty in any way!

Last week was a slightly lower volume of hiking and walking as my husband and I were on a wedding trip that had a LOT of driving and many ferries, but I still got in 3 hikes, a ton of walking, a yoga session and a strength session.

On the Saturday (day 33) before the wedding, I did a big hike, almost 14km and it included going up and over the mountain twice that we had hiked the day before, plus lots more and I couldn’t hold back… I did some easy jogging intervals on the flats and non-technical sections of the trail and felt SOOOOOO good!!! I stayed really engaged in the core, ran softly and kept the jogging segments to just a minute or two. Pure fkn joy.

I’ve had a few discussions with other medical professional friends who all have kinda said similar things – the 6 week recovery window is based on the average human. Luckily, I know I’m stronger and fitter than the mean individual and I’m glad to have the body awareness I do. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t gone about breaking all the rules and lifting heavy shit or going for a full-on run, but I’ve paid attention the whole time to how I’ve felt and navigated accordingly. Today, though, I will run my favourite 5k trail! A few days early. Sue me.

At the wedding, dancing felt so good! I didn’t jump too hard or flail too, too crazy, but I basically just threw 99% of caution to the wind and it was so much fun and I felt normal.

This week, I have continued to do some run-jog intervals and I feel amazing. The lungs feel more or less unscathed. The legs feel a tiny bit rusty since they’ve been hiking and speed walking now for just about 6 weeks, but it’s like riding a bike 🙂

I emailed my coach and asked if we could begin a normal marathon build after next week, using the 14 weeks that we will have at that point to get really ready for CIM. Next week I’m going to easy run all week, by feel, and shoot for a 75 minute effort on Sunday for the “long run.” Honestly, I truly feel like I’ve minimized aerobic fitness loss to the best of my ability and I am proud of it. If you are a marathoner freaking out about time off for a hysterectomy, please don’t.

My scars look like this today. The bottom one on my left is generally covered by undies or bathing suit bottoms. The bellybutton one is basically non-existent. The one on my right below the treble clef is soooo minor, and then the most medial one is the most noticeable but…who the fuck cares LOL.

I am PUMPED! I’m going back to work to treat a small handful of patients next week, and will continue with that until I go back full-time on September 12th, which is the week after a follow-up appointment with my surgeon in Prince George.

Today I got to submit my BQ from Eugene for pre-verification on Athletes’ Village (the B.A.A.’s online platform) and it was so exciting! I feel very content with the fact that if I get in, I’LL GO TO FREAKING BOSTON! And if I don’t, then I’ll GO TO FREAKING BOSTON ANOTHER DAY!

Other exciting things are my husband bought me an inflatable SUP for an early anniversary present and I am stoked to test it out this weekend and get my core fired up for running! Also, something I haven’t mentioned before is that I’m currently working on my VDot coaching certification!! By fall I will be accepting a few athletes for spring race training, anything from 5k-marathon distance 😀 😀 😀

Life is good. Tuesday coming up is the official 6-week mark since the LAVH and that went by FAST. I’m going to post a summary of everything I did activity-wise so people can really see how much can be done while healing, if healthy to do so, obviously.

Jamie

Marathoner’s Hysterectomy Journey – 3 weeks post-op!

I’m thinking more and more about CIM. One moment the thoughts are really positive – I’ll come back stronger. This walking/yoga/hiking will be a new kind of solid foundation! I’m so happy that I want to run again now that I’ve had this break! And then the next second I’m like…CIM is less than 18 weeks away, how will I get back to running and train for the marathon in 15 weeks? I’m going to be so slow. There’s not enough time.

Runners are crazy. We know it. Such planners. Detail oriented. Analyzers. Runners hate taking time off, for injury or whatever it may be, because we don’t want to interrupt what we build, week in and week out. I KNOW this break is serving me, but I wish I could start run-walking NEXT week, not 2.5 weeks from now haha.

On Sunday I walked 12km, that was my “long walk” and it got me to 58km for the week, exceeding the goal by a few kilometres. I had sore hips (like my hip joints, not my pelvis) and it felt like such an inefficient way to travel haha. One of my legs is longer and I know for a fact that leg-length discrepancy matters less when it comes to running because only one foot is ever in contact with the ground at a time, unlike with walking. That’s the kind of shit I was thinking about between cult podcasts.

how about that Sunday coffee view

Monday night I hit the treadmill. I tried to wear too many clothes so that I would get really hot LOL. I had on a Buff hat, a neck bandana, knee-high socks and a long sleeve shirt ahahaha I wish I took a pic. The incline varied from 4 to 8% and I carried 3lb dumbbells and did a variety of things with them to try to make it more challenging. It was okay but not as hard as I hoped. That was 4k and about 42 minutes.

On Tuesday I did the first REAL hike, because those ones in Mexico I don’t really count as hikes, aside from the long walk to/around/from that mountain bike park. I did the Tall Trees Trail here where I live and it actually felt easier than ever before, which I find extremely interesting. It took me 58 minutes to get to the top (500m+ gain) and a little less coming down.

Athletic Brewing at the top

Just about 8k round trip. Today I was going to go back and do it again but I wasn’t into the two hour commitment, so I did a 5k rolling trail and it only took about ten minutes longer than when I super-easy run it. I kept anxiously looking at my watch for HR (even though I know wrist-based HR isn’t overly accurate) and feeling disappointed when it kept reading 110ish. Regardless, some good hills, 150m gain and…WHAT ELSE am I going to do?

Can you tell I am getting frustrated. I wouldn’t say I’m feeling depressed, but very eager to move my body more aggressively and burn some energy and feel my lungs burn a bit, and what-if’ing about the fall and running. I don’t know why I’m bitching about anything, since less than a month ago I didn’t even show up to the Midsummer 8k because I was so de-stoked on running.

So I keep reminding myself:

  • I don’t want to F up my new “vaginal cuff”
  • I don’t want prolapse of anything
  • my surgeon knows what the F she’s talking about
  • I can practice being patient and keep doing other things

As of today, which is day 23, two of my incisions are totally closed, two are 99% healed over, and there is barely-noticeable tenderness in those four areas only on gentle palpation. I still have not experienced any bleeding since the day of and the day after the surgery. I have no problems with peeing or BMs, no low-back pain, no period-cramp sort of pain, no vaginal pain and no pain on movements of any kind. My brain knows that I am just over half-way through the 6 weeks and that keeps me cautious, and my body just has an overall feeling of “you’re not 100% yet,” which I am grateful for!

Walking a service road up a mountain tomorrow, I hope it gives me the “workout” I’m craving!

JK

Hysterectomy Recovery: day 18

So on the plane back from Cabo I made a vow to follow the 10% rule with respect to weekly kilometres on my feet during this no-running period. I’ll build on last week’s 50km of walking (and hiking) with a 55km goal this week. Also, I started to form a loose plan for run-walk reintroduction of running starting Monday, Aug 22. This will be a day early but hey I’m a runner and I function in weeks and those weeks start on Mondays. Since I’ll probably revise that plan as it gets closer, I won’t bother posting it now.

There’s a local trail+road race on August 20th that’s happening for only the second time due to the pandemic, and I’d really like to see how some brief jogs feel on my body that day. Last time I got first female, this time I’m just dying to participate! I wonder if 5.75 weeks vs. 6 weeks is really bad?

Today I started thinking about how little guidance was given with respect to what I’m allowed to do. Like I know I said I was told nothing with impact, no heavy lifting or aggressive twisting/pushing/pulling, no swimming and nothing in the vagina but I wish I had a chance to think about it more and ask more questions. I might email my surgeon and ask her a few things because at this point in the recovery I want to do more things!

  • is there a defined weight limit when it comes to lifting/carrying?
  • why can’t I swim once the incisions are 100% closed? Does the vaginal “cuff” take much longer to heal? (so curious)
  • if I have zero pain, discomfort, weird sensations or bleeding does that mean the thing I’m doing is ok?
  • can I road bike in a couple more weeks?

The last day in Mexico on Weds I walked 9km before departure, then another mile from Skytrain to Sarah’s for a 10k day! The flight to Van was fine – no discomfort from the seatbelt or turbulence 😃

I walked the mile back to the Skytrain Thurs morning for flight up north, and later I did a 6k walk that didn’t feel hard enough..not as hot and no 4km hill but did my best!

I hadn’t done any yoga for a while, so got back on it today with 20 minutes on the dock. Later I did a sort of circuit, going up the steep driveway, doing lunges along the dock, single leg deadlifts (weightless) and carrying around 5 pound dumbbells. I’ve read a bunch of resources that give a 10 pound limit so I have it a try and it felt fine but I think I’d rather be conservative and use 3 or 4 pounders once I’m back at my house next week and treadmill hiking.

Today was the second time I felt notably frustrated and a bit down about not being able to run, but 23 days isn’t very long and I’ll stay creative and keep building!!! 18 weeks til CIM !

JK

Marathoner’s Hysterectomy Journey – 2 weeks post-op !

Okay so 2 weeks ago at this very moment I was dying in a hotel bed with a catheter and an IV, the most bloated abdomen I have ever had and the worst constipation I can imagine existing. I can’t believe how fast this has gone by so far!

My decision to keep so busy (as my body has allowed, thank the gods) has been the best way to deal with this whole healing thing, at least up until now. Visiting a hot place during this time has been the smartest thing I could have done. Not only has the opportunity to get sweaty marching up hills every day in 30 degree heat made me SO happy, but the weather has also helped my mood, which I can almost guarantee would be down the toilet right now if I were sitting at home in the rain or overcast, not being able to run. If you have this operation and you are able to, I would strongly recommend taking some sort of vacation to distract yourself and boost the mood!

So yesterday was a very active day for me. In the morning I did an almost 8km walk and the first half was all uphill. Very sweaty and very hot, getting my HR into the aerobic zone for I’d say at least 25 minutes. In the late afternoon, we did a steep power walk up this viewpoint hill called Cerro de la Z. It’s less than a mile up, but very steep and really got the HR going again in that blistering heat, into the threshold zone! Great view, too!

After that we walked a couple more kilometres for some beverages downtown. In total it was a 12km day on my feet. I felt pretty tired by the end of the day, but not unusually tired for walking that much in one day!

Today we got up earlier than I have so far this vacation to go do a popular tourist climb. Speaking of sleep, I actually can’t believe how late I have been sleeping in since having the surgery. This is great because I’ve stayed as active as I’ve been able, but I guess I’ve also been resting more, and generally I’m not a great sleeper! So yay for healing. So yeah, today we headed to the famous “hike” where a wicked dude named Enrique guides whoever shows up to the top of Mount (LOL) Solmar, with like fifteen dogs. I laugh because I would not consider this a mountain in any way, more like a large crumbling rock formation, but it was a very steep and technical 15-ish minute hike up with INSANE views. The way down was much more challenging for me, and I’m thankful that my brother-in-law carried my water because I needed both hands to help myself down without having to hop or jump, and to not slip. It was pretty crumbly in spots, and as I’ve said before, super thankful for upper-body strength! I do want to mention that I do NOT feel like this activity was beyond what I should have done today – it was just important to have hands free on the way down. Me and my family were the first three hikers behind Enrique and other tourists were still coming down from the top when we were back down at the gate saying good-bye. I wasn’t a hard-up post-surgical slow poke.

After the most delicious brunch, we came home and then my sister and I went for a 5km walk, stopping at a couple stores and playa el Medano. I’m leaving tomorrow and we had to go back to the ocean.

Honestly, I am feeling pretty normal. My incisions will be referred to as just scars in a couple more days. Aside from the minor tightness I feel in my abdomen a couple of inches lateral to the belly-button on both sides, and in the inguinal regions, I often forget that I am recovering. I’m a tiny bit nervous about going home and feeling that anti-climax that comes with a vacation ending, combined with the no-running-allowed thing, AND very likely some shit weather, but I’ll have my treadmill cave and small dumbbells and ankle weights!

One thing that has crossed my mind that I haven’t talked about yet is if sex will be scary at first when it’s allowed again, and also if it will be different? Will report back, LOL.

Two weeks down, four more to go…

JK

Hysterectomy Recovery – day 13

Buenas noches!

The last few days here in Los Cabos have been so sweet. On Friday I did some yoga and two 5-and-a-bit kilometre walks for 11k total on day 11! Yesterday it was cloudy and even rained a lot of the day, and I started to feel my mood get a bit low and then start to swirl about not being able to run…but I made the most of the day by doing another yoga session and then a random workout. I walked up and down the street which is a hill, and each time I got back up to the condo I would climb the 36 stairs to the rooftop patio and then do some single-leg dead lifts (no weight, obviously) and more step-ups on a much higher ledge, taking extreme care on the way down as to not create a big impact. It was only about 40 minutes and not intense, but my muscles are sore today so it was effective and I am happy about that!

Today it got nice again and it was “long walk” Sunday! I power marched the almost 3k hill to this mountain biking park nearby that has really sick viewpoints and hiked a loop before coming home. Ten kilometres total! It was so hot out and there were some steep parts and my HR was so high at times it was awesome – such a good workout!!!

In the afternoon we went to playa Chileno and these bandaids stayed put today! I went in the water just up to my thighs and walked the beach, napped and tanned. The breeze was amazing.

When we got back I washed the incision sites and had a closer look. Bandaid tans are so hot right now. My belly button literally looks normal! It just has a new wrinkle in it ahahaha

I’ve started to feel a bit of tightness in my abdominals and inguinal regions from what I am guessing is the healing process forming scar tissue. It’s not painful and it doesn’t restrict my movement, but I notice it. Maybe it’s because I feel so much more normal than I did earlier in the recovery and I’m just moving without as much caution. Anyways, when I feel like it’s safe to stretch out the area (couple weeks?) I’ll work on some upward-facing dogs, standing backbends and generally stretching out the obliques and the rest of the lateral chain muscles.

Almost two weeks of healing complete! I can tell that not running is going to get harder and harder as I feel better and better…but I am having fun diversifying and doing this pre-marathon training thing differently than I have before!

JK

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