Author Archives: jhorna

About jhorna

After growing up a naked child in the mountains of Colorado, Jhorna moved to the heart of Bohemia in the Czech Republic and learned to say 'you resemble a hedgehog'* in Czech. Later in life she spent a year trying to avoid being run over by rickshaws in Dhaka, Bangladesh. An avid performer, she prefers to only participate in dances that defy the laws of physics. She is very interested in incorporating improvised movement into a structured dance form and is especially intrigued by the various ways in which one can 'walk the edge' of dance. That's because, some days, she takes an envelope out of the box and she PUSHES IT. (*Vypadas jako jezek.)

Ankle Surgery! Brostrom Procedure

24 March 2015 (Tuesday)
Wk 10
(71 days post-op)
In the boot: 8 weeks

Foot feels stiff and painful in the morning. The toes hurt the most though! That I can handle. There is a bit of a shooting pain down the outside of my ankle when I step forward. We’ll see what PT says.

23 March 2015 (Monday)
Wk 10
(70 days post-op)
In the boot: 8 weeks

Comparison and video.

I walked around in the morning, but it hurt. Outside and back edge of ankle (i.e., the danger zone). I took my boot off and tried to walk around twice at work to get water. Both times I had to move very slowly and my foot hurt. I did the long walk to the main building twice. The second time was painful on the way back. Foot felt swollen and uncomfortable when I got home, and I couldn’t walk normally without the boot on.

22 March 2015 (Sunday)
Wk 9
(69 days post-op)
In the boot: 7 weeks

No pain in the morning! It feels pretty stiff, but I’m SO happy to be walking around my apartment with no boot and no pain.

21 March 2015 (Saturday)
Wk 9
(68 days post-op)
In the boot: 7 weeks

Walked around a bit, almost no pain in the morning! I volunteered at Expo Day downtown, which involved a lot of standing and a bit of walking. I rode the scooter to and from my car (3 blocks). Then I went to FabLab, and had to elevate my foot there, to avoid pain. Not too much pain in the evening though.

20 March 2015 (Friday)
Wk 9
(67 days post-op)
In the boot: 7 weeks

Walked around in the morning, getting breakfast, showering, etc. Then I wore the boot the entire rest of the day. I also minimized walking at work. I still didn’t use a crutch, but I did ride my scooter from my office to the main building (which is much farther than a typical person walks usually). I walked from the main building to lunch (which is a very typical distance) and back. Slightly swollen and painful by the end of the day, but not too bad.

19 March 2015 (Thursday)
Wk 9
(66 days post-op)
In the boot: 7 weeks

Woke up with no pain, walking very carefully around my apt doesn’t hurt too much. I started to think that it wasn’t the time OUT of the boot that’s making it tender, but the time I spent walking IN the boot. Usually at work I’ll drive from my lab to the main building (it’s about 3 blocks one way), and I stopped doing that last week at some point. I’m guessing that the combination of walking out of the boot a lot and walking a TON more in the boot just pushed my foot too far. I definitely have a tendency to do that to myself…

I didn’t take any pictures/video today. I’m getting kind of discouraged by what seems like a lack of progress and taking the pictures is making me hyper-aware of that, so I’m going to chill out on those a little bit.

18 March 2015 (Wednesday)
Wk 9
(65 days post-op)
In the boot: 7 weeks

Comparison and video.

Woke up slightly tender. Walked around doing house things (bathroom, shower, made breakfast) anyway.. Now I have the boot on, and it’s still a little hard to walk. :( I mentioned it to Gunnar last night, and he thought I probably just pushed it too far. I didn’t take good notes from THursday- the weekend, so I can’t be sure, but it didn’t *feel* like I was walking too far. That is, My foot didn’t hurt on Thursday or Friday, and didn’t get tender until Saturday. Now it hasn’t stopped being tender. That’s just..not the behavior they described. I really think I need to ramp up more slowly, even if I have no pain.

In the video, you can see that I’m moving my foot much more slowly. It was a little painful even to just do that.

17 March 2015 (Tuesday)
Wk 9
(64 days post-op)
In the boot: 7 weeks

It’s still tender. Flexing feels fine, so if I walk around with my knees more bent than normal it still feels great. It’s going through the point part of the walking motion that hurts. I feel like the extra tenderness means I walked too much too fast, but I didn’t think I was pushing myself too much. I probably didn’t always put the boot on IMMEDIATELY when it started feeling achey, but I mean… geez. Now it’s been 3 days where I almost can’t walk with the boot off. I feel like I need to do more carefully controlled increases in movement, rather than “as tolerated” because the feedback comes so late.

16 March 2015 (Monday)
Wk 9
(63 days post-op)
In the boot: 7 weeks

Comparison and video.

Pretty sore again today… Barely walked a bit in the morning without the boot, and mostly wore it all day. It even hurt in the boot a bit! /sigh/

15 March 2015 (Sunday)
Wk 8
(62 days post-op)
In the boot: 6 weeks

Woke up with my foot pretty sore—I didn’t want to walk without the boot at all. It’s tender on the outside part / where I assume the ligament is. But I went to the neighborhood pool and walked around in 3.5 feet deep water, which felt amazing! The water was super cold, which felt great on my ankle, and also walking with so much weight removed felt really nice.

14 March 2015 (Saturday)
Wk 8
(61 days post-op)
In the boot: 6 weeks

We’re having a heat wave right now, and I’m also starting my period, and (coincident with those two events) my foot was very tender and swollen this day. I didn’t walk as much as I normally do.

13 March 2015 (Friday)
Wk 8
(60 days post-op)
In the boot: 6 weeks

12 March 2015 (Thursday)
Week 8
(59 days post-op)
In the boot: 6 weeks

Comparison and video.

The most sore part is my toes, weirdly! Everything else feels pretty stiff, but doesn’t hurt.

11 March 2015 (Wednesday)
Week 8
(58 days post-op)
In the boot: 6 weeks

Comparison and video.

Started the day off with no boot. It never became achey! Put it on anyway to get to the car, and took it off at work whenever I was in buildings. I’m still walking very slowly because I’m cautious, but it feels fine. Didn’t want to rush it, but it was only slightly achey in the evening. Doing well!

10 March 2015 (Tuesday)
Week 8
(57 days post-op)
In the boot: 6 weeks

I didn’t have time to take a video or pictures today, but I did meet with both the surgeon and physical therapist!

-Foot looks really great.
-Scar healing very nicely.
-Hard tug on the drawer test revealed very little movement: the fix seems quite strong.
-Next steps:
-Start day without boot, put it on as it becomes achey
-Next appt in 6 weeks
-If I can do 10 jumps on the left foot, I’m cleared to go back to acrobatics.

-No boot through whole session!
-Explained that mechanically my foot is very capable, but I’ve lost proprioception, so it’ll *feel* much less stable than it really is. The nerves, etc. just aren’t firing in response to movement or brain activity.
-Started doing heel raises and gentle squats while in a harness that took about 50lbs off my bodyweight.
-Laughed out loud at the idea that I’d be ready to do 10 jumps on the left foot in 6 weeks
-Explained that while it’s possible to rush this, it makes no sense to not “do things right” in my case.
-He’s expecting more like 6 months for complete recovery with weight shifts, muscle control, etc.

9 March 2015 (Monday)
Week 8
(56 days post-op)
In the boot: 6 weeks

Comparison and video

8 March 2015 (Sunday)
Week 7
(55 days post-op)
In the boot: almost 5 weeks

Comparison and video. Striking difference in that comparison picture! I’ll see the surgeon this week, so he’ll give his assessment of my progress.

7 March 2015 (Saturday)
Week 7
(54 days post-op)
In the boot: almost 5 weeks

Comparison and video.

On Thursday, Dr. Gunnar explained to me some of the details of how the scar tissue forms, and what causes the stiffness in a post-surgical foot. On Friday I wondered what would happen if I just pushed through the pain of moving my foot, especially in the “flex” direction (not the point direction). I think the difference in progress in my foot is obvious (although, it’s also true that I usually take pictures in the morning, pretty soon after waking up when my foot is understandably still pretty cold and stiff). That picture on the right is from Feb 21 – so that’s only two weeks of difference!

6 March 2015
Week 7
(53 days post-op)
In the boot: over 4 weeks

Comparison and video

5 March 2015
Week 7
(52 days post-op)
In the boot: over 4 weeks

Comparison and video.

I’d say I’m off crutches about 95% of the time!

Had PT today. Normal exercises, slowly increasing the weight! He told me that my ankle joint (subtalar) is very stiff. Apparently that doesn’t always happen, some people aren’t stiff there at all, but I am. He also explained to me how the inflammation causes scar tissue. I can’t help but wonder if me not elevating my foot above my heart for the first 2 weeks contributed to me having more stiffness now :(

I’m really eager to get the boot off, but he thinks at least one more week. We will see what the surgeon says!

4 March 2015
(51 days post-op)
In the boot: over 4 weeks

Had a super early morning meeting so I didn’t get a chance to take pictures or video today! But I walked around about 95% without a cast alllll day! Exciting.

3 March 2015
(50 days post-op)
In the boot: over 4 weeks

Comparison and video. My foot feels tender and stiff this morning…more evidence that I pushed it too hard earlier. Point looks identical to the Feb 21 point to me in this picture.

2 March 2015
(49 days / 6 weeks post-op)
In the boot: 4 weeks

Video and comparison. For the first time, I feel like I see a difference in that point!

Side note: my foot hurt by the end of today at work. I didn’t feel like I did more or less walking than usual, so my guess is that this weekend pushed it a little bit too far. I really need to remember that I should do about 50% of what I’m mentally prepared for, because physically I’m probably not quite there yet.

1 March 2015
(48 days post-op)
In the boot: almost 4 weeks.

Comparison and video. Side note…the comparison looks identical to me. As a reminder the picture on the right is from 21 Feb, and the picture on the left is from today.

I have not used crutches ONCE today! Yippee!

28 February 2015
(47 days post-op)
In the boot: over 3 weeks

Comparison and video.

27 February 2015
(46 days post-op)
In the boot: over 3 weeks

PT today! Walked around on one crutch pretty much all day. Foot hurt slightly more than usual, but not terribly. PT went really well. I’ve been worried that I’m moving too slowly, but before I could even ask about that, Dr. Mossberg reassured me that I”m going at a normal pace, and to continue at the rate I’ve been doing. It was very nice to hear him say that! PT actually felt much easier today than it has in the past. I wonder if part of it was that there were two days in between PT appointments instead of just one? Also of course random chance.

He told me to add sickling my foot to my daily movement routine.

I take a few steps around without any crutches, usually in my apartment.

Comparison, and video. I’m home now after PT and my foot is kind of sore, so that’s all I feel like doing.

26 February 2015
(45 days post-op)

I was at a day-long conference up in San Jose so I didn’t get a chance to take pictures! I did elevate my foot and do exercises all day, but it’s pretty swollen and uncomfortable right now. Maybe from flying? Anyway—it’s not TOO bad…but more uncomfortable than it’s been for at least a week.

25 February 2015
(44 days post-op)

Pictures, comparison, and video + a video of my right foot doing the point flex for comparison purposes…

24 February 2015
(43 days post-op)

Forgot to take pictures this morning! Whoops.
Normal day – walked around all day with only one crutch! It got a liiittle bit sore by the end of the day, and I was leaning on the one crutch pretty heavily. PT in the evening – pretty much the same exercises as last time!

23 February 2015
(42 days / 6 weeks post-op)

Pictures, point comparison, the video I’ve been doing, and a new angle that I think is much better. I’ll probably just do that new angle from now on – it’s much easier to see the movement that way.

Today I walked from the kitchen to the living room with no crutch! Without even thinking about it! My foot feels stiffer today than it has recently, but this bodes well. We’ll see how it feels later tonight…haha.

22 February 2015
(41 days post-op)

Pictures and video from today. Here’s today’s picture next to the picture from yesterday for comparison. It’s hard to compare with the one I took on the 19th, because the angles are so different, so I think I’ll compare with the on from the 21st from now on. Plus a video by special request. This one is actually very helpful for seeing how stiff my leg leg still is!

VERY encouraging excerpt from an academic article about various ankle soft-tissue solutions:

    Between the years of 1964 and 1966, Lennafi Brostrom published a series of articles discussing the management of soft tissue lateral ankle injuries. The procedure he described involved identification and shortening of the elongated collateral ligaments without the use of synthetic materials or other autogenous structures. This procedure was modified by Nathaniel Gould and included mobilization of the lateral portion of the extensor retinaculum and attachment to the distal fibula, superficial to the ligament repair. Because the extensor retinaculum arises from the calcaneus and courses parallel to the CFL, the component of subtalar instability is also addressed as well as reinforcing the primary ligament repair. This procedure is particularly ideal in athletes such as gymnasts and ballet dancers who need preservation of subtalar joint range of motion, as well as peroneal muscle function and strength.

    Hamilton, in 1953, reported the results of 28 modified Brostrom procedures with 55% of the patients being professional ballet dancers, and the rest comprising recreational athletes and nonathletes. The average follow-up period was 7 years, and the results were 26 patients with an “excellent” outcome, 1 “good,” and 1 “fair” resu1t.

21 February 2015
(40 days post-op)

Pictures and video from today.
Today’s point vs 19th February point. (I’ve since come up with a way to take all the pictures at the same angle for better comparison).

When I’m at home, I’m pretty much only using one crutch to get around! And I’m baaarely using it. Doing pretty well!

20 February 2015
(39 days post-op)

Pictures and video from today. Still have headache.

19 February 2015
(38 days post-op)

Pictures and video from this morning! I’ve gotten out of the habit. Heading in to work leaves me less time in the morning to take pictures. Also, the swelling has almost completely gone down so the pictures I was taking are kind of boring now. Hence the more ROM-focused ones!

PT was much more intense today – instead of 2 sets of 20, I was up to 3 sets of 30 on every exercise. Again, pulling weights with my foot, leg swings in the airboot, hamstring and quad pulls, and some squats and heel raises on the right leg. He also always starts off with an amaaazing foot massage. I don’t know what he’s doing, but it feels really good and my leg seems to sort of relax afterwards. It’s lovely.

Home now and have a massive headache :( This seems to happen when I do PT, maybe? Not sure why.

18 February 2015
(37 days post-op)

I worked my first full 8 hours today, and I can pretty much say it was a mistake. My leg hurt SO much when I got home I basically crutch-ran from the car to my apartment and laid down immediately. I’m not sure I should do that again. Maybe it’s also partly because I had PT yesterday… anyway I’m going to take it easier after PT in the future.

17 February 2015
(36 days post-op)

Pictures from the morning.

First real day of PT! He had me do a ton of leg exercises – on both legs. I did squats and heel raises on the right leg. He also hooked up some weights on a complicated pulley system, and hooked a leather strap around my foot and I did some dorsi and plantar flexing. I also got a weight around my leg in the boot and did some leg swings for hip strengthening. It wasn’t too bad! In fact I kind of wanted him to push me more – I’ll have to ask for that next time.

16 February 2015
(35 days post-op)

1pm Leg doesn’t feel quite as great today as yesterday. I’ve needed two crutches all day so far. Now I’m relaxing, toes level with nose, and doing some gentle non-stop flexing.

15 February 2015
(34 days post-op)

Holy cow my leg felt great today. I spontaneously got rid of one crutch and only started using one! Felt very solid walking around. I ran a bunch of errands today, and worked on a project. Leg started to hurt around 5:30 so I called it quits and put my toes above my nose for some more gentle flexing. So busy I didn’t take any pictures :)

14 February 2015
(33 days post-op)

Slept without the boot.
Mostly felt really good! I find it’s hard to keep the boot off for long periods of time when I’m at home because I have to stand up and walk somewhere (the bathroom, the kitchen, the other side of the living room, etc) really frequently. I probably only had the boot off, doing exercises for about 4 hours today.

13 February 2015
(32 days post-op)

Slept without the boot again last night. Woke up twice :(
I had the boot off for about 4 hours today while at work – and I spent that whole time doing exercises with my foot. It felt pretty ok! I did dorsi/plantar flexing and some winging out. I’m about to check out the video and see how it compares to the earlier ones.
Video compared with 29 Jan 2015, there’s a big difference in the quality of movement – much faster and more confident! – but hard to tell whether the ROM is actually increasing. It certainly feels better though!

12 February 2015
(31 days post-op)

I slept without the brace last night! I also woke up 3 times. Not 100% sure if they’re related.
Now I’m sitting around with no brace, just wiggling and moving my foot as I sit here! Yay! Movement!
Went to my second PT (at a different office – just to try things out). I liked him MUCH more! They both seemed capable and knowledgeable and personable but I just felt more excited and inspired by the second one (his name is Gunnar). Gunnar spent a much longer time asking me about my physical history, asking about the history of the ankle, and especially asking me about my goals. I listed my goals as acrobatics (high impact), backpacking (endurance), and ballet (strength and flexibility). He was most cautious about the ballet – saying I should have in my mind that it would be 9-12 months of physical therapy, and it might take a lot of hard work. But he seemed totally supportive and I felt inspired and happy! Gunnar also spent most of the visit moving and exploring both of my ankles to get a sense of what could move and what couldn’t.

He told me to move my ankle more or less constantly all the time, and never to turn it in (sickle it, in dance terms).

11 February 2015
(30 days post-op)

Pictures in the AM

First day back at work and first day of PT! I went to Scripps Physical Therapy and Hand Center and met with Todd Sparks. He seemed very nice and personable and I felt very comfortable. There are a ton of pictures of athletes on the wall, with signed “Thank yous” to Todd Sparks. But when I asked about whether they had been treated there, the front desk lady just kind of grunted noncommittally and didn’t clarify. Todd had me remove my boot right away, and actually got me up and taking some steps without the boot on. I was very nervous about that but it felt fine. He also taught me how to walk around with just one crutch, and then we did measurements on the ankle and looked at ROM (range of motion). He taught me 6 exercises to do, and at the end put a little electrical stimulation machine (doing H waves) on my ankle. That gave me a headache almost instantly. I went home afterwards and iced my foot and pretty much fell asleep.

My ankle actually felt great all day.
PT was painful, but I kind of expected that.
He wanted me to walk without the boot every day, and have the boot off as much as possible.
I’m also supposed to just touch my leg and especially the incision to get the nerve weirdness to chill out. I get crazy tingling sensations shooting into my toes whenever someone touches the incision site, so it’s nice to know how to get rid of that!
He also measured my current ROM. My left foot has 6 degrees of dorsi flexion (compared to 20 on my right) and 24 degrees of plantar flexion (compared to 75 on the right…50 is considered normal haha). He warned me that I might never get as much range of motion in my left foot as in my right :(

10 February 2015
(29 days post-op)
4am – Woke up feeling good. I took a shower and scrubbed the living heck out of my leg left. It itches SO MUCH. I put lotion on half of it to see if that has a positive effect.
7:30am – Sitting down without the cast is so great!!
4:30pmPictures and video. Stretched my scar tissue!
5pm – Went grocery shopping! I basically bought milk, mushrooms, and broccoli because I can’t carry anything haha. But that little grocery cart is pretty fun!

Doing research on PTs in my area:
Scripps Ranch PT Yelp Reviews – look mostly good, although there are only 10 reviews. I really want someone who has worked extensively with ankle surgery recovery, and also who does sports recovery because I want to get back to a VERY active lifestyle.
Todd Sparks – PT (as opposed to PTA, that’s good), DPT (got a clinical degree in PT, that’s good), MPT (masters in PT that’s great), and CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists). Specializes in “orthopedic disfunction” which just refers to muscoloskeletal issues. The site mentions that they do post-surgical work including tendon repair and their therapists do trainings every year.

Gunnar Mossberg, PT DPT MOMT -No idea what MOMT is. Yelp reviews. I like that he emphasizes his education, and was an instructor at the Ola Grimsby institute. Also, on this list, he’s described as “Practice Focus: Direct Access, Manual Therapy, Orthopaedic Injuries and Conditions, Post-surgical Rehabilitation, Sports Physical Therapy” which is….. everything I want. The FAQ on their website addresses a lot of the questions I had (no PTAs, same therapist for each appointment, etc).

Annnnnd Mossberg is totally booked until the end of February. I find that super frustrating. I waited until now to start doing research into PTs because I thought I needed to get a recommendation from my surgeon. I kept asking and asking the surgeon’s office and they would only reply with something along the lines of: “We can talk about that when it gets closer to the time.” And then when I got approved to go in for PT, he told me I can go anywhere I want! Why didn’t they just say that??? I think they thought I was trying to start actually going to physical therapy right away, but really all I wanted to do was make an appointment for the future. UGH. WHY DID I WAIT.

9 February 2015
(28 days post-op)

6am – Foot feels fine!
7am – Breakfast and a shower. Foot feels ok. Still only putting about 60% weight on it.
9am – Left for a post-op doctor’s appointment! The surgeon thought the scar looked pretty good, and told me:
0. In general, I need to keep my pain levels below a 3/10. (That sort of means nothing, since there’s no guarantee that we have the same definition of what 3/10 means, but it DOES encourage me to keep listening to my body, and slow down if I’m in too much pain. No need to push myself).
1. Start massaging the scar, pushing and pulling it up and down with my fingers to prevent scar tissue.
2. I’m allowed to keep the boot off whenever I’m sitting or sleeping, but I still need to have it on when I’m standing (putting weight on it) or walking.
3. I can go to PT!
4. If I go for 2 days without using the crutches to walk, I can completely ditch the crutches.
5. If I stop using the crutches, a few days later I can start removing the boot for walking. He recommended starting in the AM, and putting the boot back on as my pain levels go above a 3/10. Eventually working up to being a full day w/o the cast.

He also said since I’m still having quite a bit of trouble walking for any reasonable amount of time, or sitting up for more than a few hours, taking another week to rest would be recommended.

3pm – I’ve been sitting with my foot elevated for about an hour now, and right at 3:20 my dang ankle just started to throb and be very uncomfortable! So interesting.
4pmPictures. Still super swollen feeling! And hot. And the skin is itchy.

Dorsi/plantar and side-to-side

5pm – Argh! So uncomfortable! There’s no position that’s comfortable. Everything hurts!
6pm – Ugh! I don’t really get this. I didn’t really do too much today. Ouchhhh :(
7pm – taking 400mg ibuprofen.

8 February 2015
(27 days post-op)

5am – Foot felt fine when I woke up!
6am – Breakfast, put about 50% weight on it walking around, feels good!
7am – Still going strong. Took it out of the boot for a bit. My skin is super irritated. I scrubbed it in th shower for a solid 15 minutes. Seems to have helped.
11am – Drove down to meet a friend for lunch
12:30pm – The 2 block walk back to the car was actually fairly uncomfortable I’d give it a 3.
1:30pm – Ok walking around my apartment
3:30pm – My friend came over and we hung out for a few hours!
8:30pm – which is how it got to be this late and I didn’t take pictures, haha.

7 February 2015
(26 days post-op)

7am – My ankle feels very tender. I don’t want to put any weight on it. Putting a little bit hurts. This is the first time it’s hurt in the morning… :(
9:15am – out to the car for a work event, where I discovered my battery was dead, haha.
11am – arrived at the work thing
12pm – lunch – standing in line at Chipotle hurt a bit
2pm – my leg was starting to hurt a bit. By this point in the day I’d actually done the most walking I’ve ever done, going from cars to the school, back to cars, into chipotle, back to the car, back to the school. My leg felt a little painful and swollen. I was mostly sitting up all day, but I did find ways to elevate it a couple of times.
5pm – Still can barely bring myself to do exercises. My foot feels very tender and sore and stiff. I took some pictures and did try to to the movement. It was very painful. I’d give it about a 4 on the pain scale.

6 February 2015
(25 days post-op)

7am – Breakfast and walking – easy to put weight on it!
10:30am – took the airboot off. Light exercises felt a little stiff and painful, but not too bad.
12pm – Snack and walking.
1:30pm - Dorsi/plantar and side to side.
2pm – Lunch and walking. I basically carried the crutches! Putting weight on my foot doesn’t hurt. Now that I’ve been sitting down for a few minutes, my leg is starting to ache a little bit. I’m cautious about overworking it, so even though it felt fine to walk around the apartment a little bit and get lunch ready, I don’t want to push things too much. I’m resting with my foot on the ground and it’s hot, itchy, and feels a bit swollen.
2:20pmPictures. Overall I think my foot is looking MUCH much better. I tried to capture the one part that strikes me as crazy swollen – the back of the ankle. There’s a picture of my right ankle for comparison.
3pm - did a foot shower. My skin is soooo itchy and dry :( Walking to the shower was quite painful – I didn’t want to put any weight on my foot at all. Elevated it as soon as I was back on the couch.
6pm – Dinner. As soon as I stood up, lots of foot pain!
8:3pm – About to hobble to bed. Leg feels ok if it’s elevated, but putting it too much lower than my heart makes it throb, and putting weight on it will probably not really be an option…

5 February 2015
(24 days post-op)

5am – woke up. Read for a while with my foot elevated.
7am – Breakfast. Worked up to full weight-bearing – felt good! The cast is hurting again as it rubs on my foot as I walk.
12pm - Lunch and pictures. Light exercises (dorsi/plantar flexing, and side-to-side plus floor-circle-pressing) all felt pretty good. Not as easy as yesterday… but still pretty nice.
3pm – Swelling right on schedule. I laid down to take a nap at almost exactly three, which actually seems to have been a great idea.
6pm – Dinner. My foot is CRAZY hot right now. Also it itches like mad. I’m resting it on the floor now – free of the cast, that seems to be normalizing things.

4 Feb 2015
(23 days post-op)

Julian pointed out that when the surgeon said “You can put full weight on your foot now” I interpreted that to mean “You can walk around like a normal person and should have zero pain”. Those are not the same thing. So even though I’m usually a little worried about how I’m healing, things are really moving at a pretty good pace. I’m also a little concerned about going back to work on Monday, since I can’t sit upright for more than a few hours at a time, and walking for more than 10 minutes is very difficult! I usually have to rest with my leg elevated after doing either of those, which will be harder to do at work.

I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday, so, we’ll see what he says.

10am – I’ve been sitting on the futon for about an hour now, with both feet on the ground, and my leg is tingling a lot and fairly uncomfortable! Time to either go for a walk or elevate… or both.

12:30 – removed the airboot for pictures and exercise. I definitely feel like my foot is less swollen than it has been before! I don’t think the pictures are actually showing the part that IS still swollen, which is the back part of the ankle, just behind the incision. I’ve attempted to take several pictures, but I just don’t feel like they capture what’s going on.

Dorsi/plantar flexing. This felt sooo easy! I don’t think I’m going any further, but it felt much easier to do. I felt like I was moving more quickly than before.

Side to side. Still pretty hilariously difficult.

3:45pm – Yep, right on time. Lots of discomfort in my foot. I took off the airboot and the top of my ankle is significantly more swollen than it was before! Interesting… Went for a quick walk that I had to cut short due to discomfort. The airboot is still off – I’m hoping that’ll help the swelling go down.

It did help! I guess that’s the best thing once it gets crazy in the afternoon like that.

8:30pm - sudden swelling and tingling again. My foot has been resting in the boot, but the straps haven’t been folded over, so there’s very little compression of my foot happening – just support holding it in the right position. AND it’s been elevated for about 2 hours while I did some work on my computer. NO idea what to do to make it feel better…

3 Feb 2015
(22 days post-op)
I don’t think there was anything notable about my leg today… I played things kind of cool, but continued my habit of putting as much weight as possible on it every time I would go walking (to the bathroom, or the kitchen for food, for instance). I did end up taking pictures around 5pm – to me, it looks like my foot is quite a bit less swollen! I also did do some dorsi/plantar flexing today, and it felt pretty great! I wasn’t moving much more than I have been, but my foot felt much less stiff than it has been feeling.

Pictures from today! I also want to mention that for a few days now the skin on my left foot has been peeling. Actually it’s my entire left leg – everywhere they had put the orange antiseptic rinse. I guess it dried my foot out like crazy. And the skin at the bend in my ankle is very rough and scaly feeling. Gross!

Around 3pm my leg started getting super uncomfortable again… I definitely think it’s related to the time and not my activity level.

When I got up from the couch in the living room to go to the bedroom, I ended up bumping my leg on the table and somehow twisting it around. Luckily it was in the “good” direction (outward – like winging my foot as opposed to sickling it, if you know dance terms). It didn’t hurt but I was slightly concerned. Then later that night my foot became INSANELY uncomfortable. I was getting very sharp pains shooting up through my leg, and given the twist from earlier I was worried that I had somehow hurt myself :( I took the airboot off, and there was a huge puffy section of my foot that I hadn’t seen get puffy before. I sat with my foot out of the aircast for about 30 minutes and it eventually subsided, but putting the airboot on again was not my favorite.

It feels like I’ve had lots of issues with circulation… I don’t know if that’s normal.

2 Feb 2015
(21 days post-op)

This day we actually drove up to LA! Julian got very sick on Sunday night, and I didn’t want him driving while feeling so ill, so I drove us up to his grad school visit at USC. My leg actually felt amazing the entire time! In fact, we stopped for gas, and I almost got out of the car without crutches because my leg felt so normal! I have no idea why that was.

I spent the rest of the day relaxing in the car. My leg felt fine until 3pm, when it suddenly got insanely uncomfortable.

The timing seemed odd to me, and I started wondering if my leg hurting in the afternoon had anything to do with my daily activity, or whether it was just “3pm pains”. 2:30-4 are usually my “crash times”. For instance, I usually start wanting to take a nap at work around 2:30 or 3, and when I have a cold I usually feel much better in the mornings and start going downhill again around 3 or 4. So it…kind of makes sense?

I didn’t take any pictures this day either.

1 Feb 2015
(20 days post-op)
(My boyfriend was visiting here, so my notes got a little.. less important haha).

My foot was feeling pretty tender, and I started getting really nervous about doing dorsi/plantar flexing, so I decided to take a small break from that. Instead, I’ve been leaving the cast on, but making sure that I put full weight on it every time I walk. Previously, I was putting full weight on it only a few times a day, but my Dad mentioned that using the muscles is partly how your body pumps lymph out of the area, so I thought it might help with the swelling. So now, every time I stand up, I do a few gentle weight shifts to get my foot used to the idea, and then put as much weight on it as I can. Putting weight on my foot never seems to hurt. *Walking* hurts – again, I think because of the way the airboot rubs against my tender ankle. Being upright for more than 10-15 minutes also starts to hurt pretty badly. It’s very difficult for me to imagine heading to work next week…

Julian and I went on a little excursion to the grocery store! Getting down the stairs wasn’t too bad – I still use the sit’n’scoot method, which makes it almost impossible to carry anything that’s not directly tied to my body. I won’t be able to do laundry by myself or get groceries until that gets easier, I think.

The grocery store has a little motorized cart that I could use. It was pretty fun! Great turning radius. The only problem was that the power was weight-triggered, and if I didn’t perch on it at hte right angle it would just turn itself off. Kind of useful as an emergency brake though, haha. After about an hour of wandering around the store my leg was VERY uncomfortable. I had to elevate it as much as possible when going through the checkout line because it was throbbing and pressing against the aircast like crazy. The rest of the day I pretty much rested with my leg up.

I didn’t take any pictures this day.

31 Jan 2015
(19 days post-op)

4:30pm – Gentle exercises and pictures.

5:45pm – I took it fairly easy today. My foot has been quite tender the last two days.. I’m not sure why. So I’ve been taking it a little easier. I did the gentlest of exercises today, but I felt like the range of movement was much smaller than it had been. I could barely bring myself to do the dorsi-plantar flexing. My foot is tender to the touch – like the whole thing is bruised. Walking wasn’t too bad – it feels like the pain is more in the boot around my foot rather than putting weight on it. My whole foot is tender and feels bruised when I poke it with my hands.

9:30pm – The evenings are always the worst. I also forgot to take any ibuprofen with dinner…It’s very hard to find any comfortable position. Any angle presses the airboot against my ankle and hurts.

30 Jan 2015
(18 days post-op)

Yesterday evening my ankle felt mostly good. Just before going to sleep it became extremely sore and tender.

8:30am – breakfast + 200mg ibuprofen.

11am – Walked around for about 30 minutes. Felt great again! I put almost full weight on it, just using the crutches for balancing.

1:30pm – Lunch + 400mg ibuprofen. Foot started to feel tender here…

4:30Pictures, then exercise. I didn’t do the dorsi/plantarflexing today, because my foot was just too sore.

29 Jan 2015
(17 days post-op)

Last night was sooo much better than the night before. My leg barely hurt at all, which was a huge relief. There was one weird thing, which is that around 8:30pm the top of my foot suddenly spasmed with a strange wave of pain. It felt like someone was stabbing me in the foot, but there was nothing touching it. That went on for only a few seconds, reappeared twice in waves, and then calmed down. But when I gently touched my foot later, it felt completely numb. It’s still numb and slightly tingly this morning. According to my research (bottom section) there can be some nerve damage during the surgery and healing process. Hopefully it’ll sort itself out!

7:30am – Gently working up to standing, as always – my foot felt FANTASTIC. I barely used the crutches to get to the kitchen. One difference is all the ibuprofen I took yesterday, but I also didn’t inflate the cast as much as I normally do. I wonder if that was pressing on the surgical site too much. Well whatever the difference is, it’s much better now than it was. Took 200mg ibuprofen with breakfast.

1:30pm – Lunch! and 200mg ibuprofen. I went to the bathroom earlier and for some reason one step hurt suddenly. A very sharp pain in the back left side of my ankle…hmm not good. I’ve been very careful about walking since, but I’m now 98% convinced that it’s the incision that hurts, not the actual ligament/surgery site. (Mainly based on how sharp and…shallow the pain felt). I’m going to work on creating a little pad or cushion over the wound, and see if that makes it easier to walk.

Pictures from today. Another dark day… I should also note that I took these pictures BEFORE doing any exercises, but the other photographs were always from after exercising, so that may explain any differences. I also added a picture of the back of both of my ankles. It was difficult to get the right angle.. but that’s definitely where my left foot is most swollen. It’s very obvious in person, but less clear in the pictures.

A video of the “floor pressing” exercise I do.

Showing Range of Motion (ROM) in plantar flexion.

Dorsi- and plantar flexion video from today.

Note: In all of these videos, I’m going to where I barely feel just a bit of pain, and then backing off. It’s possible I’ll eventually need to push through that kind of discomfort, but I’ll wait until a Physical Therapist tells me that’s a good idea.

2:43 pm - OK!!!! My hypothesis that it was the *wound* that was hurting seems to have been correct! I added some batting (big cushiony stuff that’s inside quilts) right around my ankle, which both provided padding and also made the air boot fit more snugly, and I just walked around my house for 30 minutes with almost no pain!!! I’m so excited right now. But I’m going to gently rest my ankle for the rest of the day, just because I don’t want to push it.

4:30 – Just woke up from a nap. My ankle feels tender and sore. The boot feels uncomfortable against the wound. I’m glad I decided to take it easy for the rest of the day. I will probably take 400mg of ibuprofen tonight, just like yesterday.

7pm – Dinner + 400mg ibuprofen. I don’t want to have a hard time sleeping tonight.

28 Jan 2015
(16 days post-op)

Falling asleep last night was pretty rough. My ankle was swollen and painful from about 4:30 until 9pm. My boyfriend encouraged me to set up a regimen of painkillers to take even if I’m not feeling pain, and I think I’m going to do that. My plan is to take 400mg of ibuprofen with every meal.

7am – just finished eating breakfast and took 400mg of ibuprofen. Walking is painful – I’m only putting a slight amount of weight on my ankle at this point. Before I went to get breakfast I did some gentle warm-ups in the cast. Basically I press my foot into the floor while seated, then stand and gradually add more weight to the left foot while swaying back and forth or side to side for gentle weight-shifting. That feels fine, and actually today I was able to split my weight evenly between my two feet and feel no pain. I think what hurts when walking might be the scar rubbing against the inside of the boot. Might try to add some kind of cushion there – it might help me be able to walk more.

12pm – Lunch, walk to the kitchen of course, and 400mg of ibuprofen.

I also did a bunch of research yesterday, which I briefly summarized below, in the “Research” section.

2:30pm – Boot off for an hour. Pressed my foot into the ground, moved the knee around while keeping the foot still, and gently tried to point and flex. I’m much more cautious after it hurt so much the first evening.

Pictures from today. It was dark outside, so the lighting isn’t as good!

Video with dorsi- and plantar flexion. I’m much more cautious than I was on the first day.

Side-to-side movement. This is INCREDIBLY difficult for some reason. You can see my foot kind of jerking around. I have almost no control over it – it feels hilarious!

6:30pm Just finished dinner. My foot is pretty tender – I barely put any weight on it while I was preparing dinner. But it’s sooo much better than last night. Took 400 mg again. When I put the aircast back on after lunch I folded up the surgical sock I’ve been wearing so that there is extra cushioning over my scar region. I’m not sure it changed anything :(

27 Jan 2015
(15 days post-op)

My ankle felt pretty tender this morning when I woke up. Walking out to the living room to say goodbye to my Mom I barely put any weight on it and wanted to sit down right away. I think I’ll have to plan on eating lots of little snacks during the day – it’s just too painful to stay upright for more than 15 minutes.

8am – I have the boot off now, and I’m doing some very gentle exercises. Trying to move my foot under its own accord is a little too painful right now, so instead I’m using the cast to flex my foot. I’ve also started placing it on the floor, and gently moving my knee in circles while keeping my foot flat on the floor. My ankle feels pretty stiff and sore, but these moves are so gentle that I’m not concerned about hurting myself. Set the timer for an hour – I can’t have the boot off for longer than that!

11am – More exercises with the boot off. Discovered that pressing into the floor with all sides of the bottom of my foot feels pretty good.

Click here for pictures. Be forewarned, they are slightly disgusting! You’ll notice my left leg looks very orange. That’s the antiseptic rinse they did to prepare for surgery. It’s harder to see, but my leg is also fairly purplish in spots. I guess some of that is just normal swelling, but some of it definitely looks like bruises. The cast was extremely uncomfortable – it felt like my leg was trying to burst out of it. These bruises are the first indication that those sensations weren’t entirely inaccurate. My guess is that my leg swelled and pressed against the case, causing bruises. The super dark purple marks are from a marker the surgeon used. The last image is a closeup of the scar. It’s super puckered on purpose. The surgeon told me that skin heals better when it’s not under pressure, so they pull the skin taut and pucker it around the incision. That makes for a much cleaner scar apparently.

1:30pm - Washed my foot in the shower. The orange antiseptic fluid they used is staining the aircast and I’d like to keep it clean.

4:30pm – My ankle is suddenly tingly and feels swollen.. I guess I’ll elevate it for a while.

9pm – Took 200 mg of ibuprofen around 5, and rested toes above nose for a few hours. Then I hobbled to the kitchen for dinner and immediately went back to toes above nose. Took another 200mg, and now I’m heading to bed.

26 Jan 2015
(2 weeks post op)

I just got my enormous dressing off! The first moment the tech cut off the ace bandage that was binding it to me felt AMAZING. The last two days have been particularly bad – lots of swelling and tingling and general discomfort, so I’m VERY excited to have removed the cast thing. When they pulled off the bandages, the most painful part was removing the gauze from the actual surgical site. There was a ton of dried blood there, and pulling the gauze away stung slightly. Strangely, touching the surgical area sends tingling sensations down to my toes. It started bleeding when they pulled the gauze away, so the tech kept dabbing at it.

My foot feels pretty stiff and a little painful. The boot presses against my surgical wound, but as soon as that heals it should be pretty comfortable. Walking feels pretty great – I haven’t put full weight on my foot yet, but putting more weight on it while I’m in the crutches stretches out my calf and it feels FANTASTIC.

The surgeon cleared me to put weight on it, indicating that the amount of weight I put on it is up to me and my pain levels. He taught me how to do a three-point walk on the crutches (splitting weight between both crutches and the injured foot). It’s tricky but actually feels amazing to have some weight on my foot. I’m too cautious to walk with full weight as of right now. My foot feels…delicate. He also mentioned that the main function of the cast is to keep the foot in a 90-degree angle. Otherwise, the weight of my toes can stretch out the ligament again, and that is the last thing I want!

Video of me doing dorsi- and plantarflexion

Resting in bed at home, so far I’ve kept my foot in the airboot, for the support. It makes me feel a bit nervous when it’s out of the airboot – like I can’t trust my ankle to take even a little bit of weight in whatever random position I happen to be laying in, so it’s better to have it supported by the cast. But I’m taking it out once an hour or so to do gentle flexing and pointing, or a short walk around my apartment. The airboot feels SO much better than the cast. I do think the cast was pressing strangely on some blood vessels. Since removing it, I haven’t had any issues with swelling or bloodflow. Walking more than 10 minutes (just around my small apartment) it starts to hurt, so I’m still taking it pretty easy.

By the end of the day, I’d done VERY gentle stretches on it 3 times, and take about 5 walks around the apartment (not counting bathroom runs – those are very short). By around 5pm my ankle region was pretty sore. I think that might have been too much movement for the first day. I took 400mg of ibuprofen with dinner, and still had a pretty tough time falling asleep because it was so hard to find a comfortable position.

General Accumulated Wisdom
> Wear VERY wide-legged comfy pants to the appointment.
> Prepare to not change your underwear much (it’s hard to get it over the cast)
> Sleep as much as you want to (sleep is very important for healing)
> Request the dang Handicapped parking permit here! They gave me the form to mail to the DMV at my 2-week appointment and it’s still not here (2 weeks after mailing it). I could really use it!

> Some surgeons recommend “toes above nose” for 23+ hours a day. That was impossible for me, but I did try to elevate as much as I could.
> Have a bunch of pillows around so you can prop various body parts up. Having my leg on top of a pillow eventually started hurting my hips, and then my shoulders. I ended up with 4 differently-sized pillows strewn about my bed and I have at least 3 of them in use almost all the time.
> Leave the light on in the bathroom (or anywhere you need to go that’s dark when you might use it)

> If you’re still using crutches, you can’t really carry anything. Huge comfy pants with pockets might be useful (I don’t have any) or a small bag you can attach to your body. A purse works well – a fanny pack might be even better.
> Do a dry run of tasks you’ll need to do on your own before your helper leaves. (I didn’t because I relish a challenge). You’ll find out what little things are total roadblocks. For instance, it takes me about 30 extra steps and lots of careful balancing to move my cereal bowl to the table. If we’d done a dry run, we would have seen this issue and could have rearranged the furniture to make it more accommodating.
> Attach a cell phone to your body at all times in case you get stuck somewhere and need help. I have mine in my purse that’s always nearby.
> Do gentle warm-ups to build up to putting weight on it. (Or, I mean – do whatever you want, but this seems like a good idea to me).
> Have a bunch of single-serving meals prepared and in the fridge where you can reach them. That way preparing food is as easy as pulling a pan out of the fridge and turning on the heat. I’m having a SUPER hard time reaching the bottom shelves. The veggie drawer is basically totally out of my grasp. Also standing for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time hurts quite a bit.

> If the surgeon gives you little socks to wear under your airboot, get a few extra pairs. My regular socks are too tight to wear, and the one he gave me got kinda gross pretty fast.

“Today, graduates receive either a Doctorate (DPT) or a Masters (MPT) in physical therapy, whereas therapists who graduated several years ago received a Bachelors (BSPT) or Masters (MPT) with a similar level of education.” [1]
Used a licensed PT, not a PTA [1] [2]
The second link [2] explains a lot of the letters after PT’s names: DPT, OCS, etc.
Good questions (how many patients do you see at a time? Do you specialize in my injury? Will I see the same therapist each time?) [3]


[1] 12 degrees of dorsi/plantarflexion (pointing and flexing) (normal range is 65)
[2] Recommends only partial weight-bearing (PWB) in week 3, full weight-bearing (FWB) after week 4.
[3] Only starts discussing weight-bearing at week 6!
[4] Description of the procedure, describes the difference between Brostrom and Modified Brostrom. Recommends 6 weeks of non weight-bearing or only partial weight-bearing. Mentions a type of neuritis that can occur with injury to the superficial peroneal nerve, which can scar and cause pain or numbness.
[5] Begins weight bearing at 10 days, progressing to full weight-bearing as tolerated.


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Posted by on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 in fractally weird


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Topographic Map: Lasercutter style

I love working with laser cutters. A good one is the best tool in the world. Here’s a project I made with a laser cutter!

Here’s the finished product:

I took a topographical map, did some processing in Photoshop and Illustrator, and then put the whole thing through a laser cutter and created this beautiful physical topo map!

Original topo map, downloaded from this excellent website:

In the laser cutter:

Top view:

A second draft, with only the main topo lines cut:

Top view of the second draft:

Some day soon here I’ll write up how I went from the original image to the final product. It was a lot of trial and error in Photoshop and Illustrator to get out the info that I needed and it would be nice to have it documented!


Posted by on Saturday, December 20, 2014 in fractally weird


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Response: Breeding the tech elite

Issues surrounding gentrification, and ethical dilemmas involved with joining the ‘technical elite’ are excellent topics to be discussed. UC Berkeley is one of the best places to host such a debate, given our proximity to Silicon Valley, our acclaimed Computer Science programs, and our history of activism. However, the Daily Cal’s recent article about “breeding the tech elite” does nothing to begin such a conversation.


1. The author’s descriptors are highly offensive. 

“disheveled, slightly nerdy types”

“computer majors look geeky, not like they’ll be making six figures”

In what way is a subjective judgement of someone’s appearance relevant to the discussion?

2. The author vacillates between glorifying and villifying technology, and users of it. The author’s own apparent anxiety surrounding technology indicates a level of discomfort with the subject matter that does raise questions. Unfortunately, these questions are about the author’s own relationship to technology rather than questions regarding the relationship of technology to the rest of society.

“I wandered out of the meeting imagining what I’d do with UC Berkeley’s Google glitterati. We’d discuss code (do you discuss code?) over breakfast and debate Facebook and Google Plus while marching to Pimentel Hall. Maybe, with some time, I’d even end up on a Google shuttle myself.”

“As an English major who uses even Google search with a hint of anxiety”

“As quickly as James brought me into his world of high-tech gadgets, seemingly secret societies and computer science whizzes at UC Berkeley, he just as quickly and violently rejected me.”

Along with my fellow CS major Jesca Wong (who wrote her own, excellent response), I work hard to encourage everyone to explore the world of programming. I am extremely disappointed in the hostile and stereotypical portrayal of my fellow Computer Scientists. This was lazy writing at best, and deliberate sensationalism at worst.

As for the actual issues at hand, I am interested in participating in a real debate on the subjects at hand.  Namely:

  1. Gentrification, who it affects and how, and whose responsibility it is.
  2. Use of public space by private companies, and question about whether (and how) the industry has a responsibility towards creating a public space that is actually public.
  3. How individual choice regarding what company to work for can play a role in what types of companies are successful, and how an educational institution can encourage thoughtful consideration of these issues.
  4. How those with less understanding or experience with technology can feel alienated, and questions of how to create a positive learning environment for people new to the field.


Let’s start an actual conversation.

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Posted by on Sunday, February 9, 2014 in fractally weird


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It’s copper and they don’t know how it works! S- sounds great: sign me up.

Here’s what it was like getting an IUD!

So, the nurse practitioner who put my IUD in is really awesome. She took a lot of time to speak with me to make sure I felt like I had all of my questions answered, and understood the possible risks. She also went over the procedure, complete with a little model of the uterus and a demo version of the IUD itself.  Basically she stuck a little stick through the demo cervix up into the demo uterus, and then the demo IUD popped gently into place!  Then the little demo uterus sparkled and giggled and one tiny but perfect rainbow appeared above each demo fallopian tube.

Reality isn’t….. quite……. like that.

It’s really not too bad, though, and I’d say that if you’re at the point where you’ve thought about the possible negative side effects, you’ve looked into the risks associated with getting it put in, and you’ve figured out how it might fit with your lifestyle, there’s really nothing else to consider.  Definitely don’t let fear of the massive waves of unbearable pain stop you.

Haha, ok, I’m mostly kidding.  For me, the implantation procedure really only had 3 painful parts:

1. The beginning.

2. The middle.

3.  The end.

Haha!  Ok I’m mostly kidding again.  For real, the painful parts were 1. when she clamped my cervix, 2. When she “sounded” my cervix, and 3. When she actually put the IUD in.

I was pretty nervous when she started to prep the room for the procedure.  She lifted the towel off of a small, innocuous table in the corner and revealed a tray of tools.  These tools had clearly been rejected from the set of a horror film* for being too scary.  I didn’t see which long, curvy, spiky metal object she used to clamp my cervix, because she told me to look away and when someone has those kinds of tools in their hands, you do what they say.  But for me, the cervix-clamping part wasn’t that bad.  It felt kind of like someone was pinching me, and I didn’t really want them to be.  But, like, whatever.  No big deal.

THEN…. she stuck in the “sound” (which is basically a stick to measure the depth of your uterus).

Before I decided to get an IUD, I did a lot of research into what it would feel like.  I was especially worried about how much it was going to hurt.  From what I read, it really varies.  Some women experience a lot of pain, and some don’t really experience very much at all.  But, for those who experienced a lot of pain, they would frequently say the IUD insertion was like “really bad menstrual cramps, but worse.”  I get pretty bad menstrual cramps, and I’m no baby.  So when I compared my understanding of “but worse” to 10 years of worry-free birth control……I mean come on. It’s not even really a choice. So I wasn’t going to let that stop me, but I also didn’t think “but worse” would be that bad.

Here’s the thing.  You might actually have *no idea* what really bad cramps feel like.  I am now SO GRATEFUL for my not-so-terrible “pretty bad cramps”.  My NP explained that the uterus is really one big muscle, and when you stick something into it, the muscle cramps up.  Normal cramps are caused by rhythmic contractions of the uterus.  My cramps are like a dull, constant throbbing pain that radiates through my back and down into my legs.  When you get an IUD though, you basically have what is ONE GIANT MUSCLE suddenly completely cramping up in response to a stick being shoved into it.  It hurts! Regular cramps are downright gentle by comparison. Even the bad ones.

So yes, it hurt.  BUT.  The pain lasted for about 2 seconds.  Then she pulled the sound out and stuck the actual IUD in, which caused the whole business to cramp up again, and then it was over.  At that point the pain became exactly what I had been expecting, and felt pretty much like regular menstrual cramps.

Totally not a big deal.  Definitely not something to be that concerned about.  You can almost definitely handle it.

I spent the rest of the day in bed, although I didn’t actually need to.  So, yeah!  Basically it wasn’t that bad and I’m so happy I did it!  The next few days were a bit of a different story, but that’s another blog post…. :)

*Terrifying Dentist and Insane Lumberjack: Together At Last

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Posted by on Sunday, November 24, 2013 in fractally weird


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Camping resources

Big map of Yosemite

Smaller map of Yosemite

Wilderness permit

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Posted by on Monday, August 20, 2012 in fractally weird


Swimming holes in Yosemite National Park

We left Berkeley at 4:30am on Saturday morning.  The drive out to Yosemite was quiet and beautiful – almost no cars on the road that early in the morning, so we made good time.  We arrived at the Big Oak Flat Information Center because we thought we had to in order to get a campsite.  We got there at 7:30am and since they don’t open until 8, we just sat around in line with a bunch of other folks waiting to get wilderness permits.  But, it turns out that if you’re aiming for a “first-come first-served” permit, you just head straight to the campground and look for someone packing up. Cut out the middle-man, so to speak.  It would have been nice if they’d had this information on the website, saving us those 30 minutes of uselessly hanging around.


Then we drove up to Tamarack Flat which was our first choice for a campground.  The rangers warned us that the last mile of road out to the campground was “pretty rough” but it was actually fine.  It had clearly been paved a few years ago, and while there are a few potholes, for the most part it’s actually totally fine – even for my low-slung Prius.  We drove into the campground, and I guess our lucky stars were already shining because the very first fellow we talked to was packing up and leaving from the best campsite in the whole park.  We quickly paid the $10 fee and went about setting up our tents as he was still packing up.  Unfortunately by this time (9am or so) it was raining pretty good so as soon as we got our tents set up we retired to the car for some card games.  Then we took a nap for 2.5 hours, hoping for the rain to clear.


Our friends arrived around 12noon, right as the sun started to come out and we loaded up our packs with picnic food and headed down the trail to the swimming hole.  I’m not going to tell the Internet-at-large where the hole is, because swimming holes are precious resources that should be protected/hoarded, but if you come visit me we can go there.



After swimming for about 3.5 hours we hiked back up the 2.5 miles to the campground.  It’s not terribly strenuous.  Just a bit of a climb up a hill, then way down to where the creek runs. The altitude adds a bit of a challenge – I think it was around 6000 feet. I took a quarter of a table of diamox because I tend to have problems with altitude, but everyone else seemed to be fine.  The scenery is gorgeous and there’s plenty of shade so we enjoyed it.  We didn’t see a single other person on the entire hike, which continues to amaze me.  Our entire experience of Yosemite was of empty hiking trails, beautiful and quiet campsites, and secluded swimming holes.


There’s no water at Tamarack Flat, so the next morning we packed up and headed up towards Yosemite Creek.  We stopped along the way at White Wolf, where they told us a bear had been hit by a car that very morning.  The 14th bear this year!  That’s very sad – if you go to Yosemite please drive slowly and watch out for wildlife.  After filling up with water and using their sinks (with soap!  Luxury!) we headed down the road a bit to the Yosemite Creek and Ten Lake Trails staging point for our second hike.  These lots were both full with plenty of backpackers and day-hikers in various states of arrival and departure.  But once we headed off down the trail, we quickly left everyone behind (except the highway, which unfortunately runs just parallel to the trail for about a quarter of a mile).  Again, we didn’t see a single other person for the entire hike in!  


We made it to another swimming hole, which was completely wonderful and perfect.  Swimming holes are my new favourite thing and I’ve got a list of about 20 more that I’d like to visit.  California seems to have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to idyllic outdoors activities, and I’m looking forward to exploring more.



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Posted by on Monday, August 20, 2012 in camping, fractally weird


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Dipshit Camping

Dipshit Camping. What is it? Well, Dipshit is made up of the two Greek words “Di” meaning “Person”, and “pshit” meaning “who ends up camping on an unmaintained highway between two switchbacks of the Interstate, less than 200 yards away from their car.” If you’re a mere novice to this form, allow me to take your hand and lead you. No need for your compass – we don’t know how to read it. No need for maps – we don’t know how to read those either. And forget directions from Forest Service Ranger Shirley – they will only baffle. Don’t worry about where we’re going – we won’t get there anyway. We’re Dipshits!

The first rule of thumb for Dipshit Camping is this: Leave early the morning of the day you want to start your trip, but not so early that you would have enough time to find somewhere safe to park before dark in the event that you get lost (which you will). Since you packed the night before (in true Dipshit fashion) you’ll be slightly exhausted, and unable to make even trivial decisions.  What does your sleep-addled Dipshit brain do when the corner store is out of the sandwich you planned on having for breakfast? Should you buy the “Hot ‘n Fresh” Sausage wrap, or the mysterious hodge-podge of plastic-encased cheeses, salamis and crackers? Better agonize over it for another 15 minutes!

Another important thing to remember about Dipshit Camping is that you cannot trust anyone named Shirley. If Forest Service Ranger Shirley tells you that you need chains on your tires, you will be driving on pristine and dry roads. If Forest Service Ranger Shirley tells you to turn left after the Eco SnowPark, you will find the road to be blocked with a five foot wall of snow. If you decide to park overnight in the Eco SnowPark despite the ominous and prominent tow-away signs, Forest Service Ranger Shirley will dance naked on the roof of your car while singing “Nanananananannaaaaa.”

But let’s get down to business and talk about the brass tacks of Dipshit Camping. The best part about Dipshit Camping is that it is almost completely stress-free! Despite months of preparation and research, despite the hundreds of dollars you spent on equipment and camping books, absolutely nothing will go according to plan!  So you might as well not worry about it.

Leave all your preparation behind (along with something to purify water – oops!) and now you have arrived at what you think is the trailhead.  Don’t worry about the absence of all signage, or other hikers – it just means that if you die, you’ll die completely alone where no one can laugh over your Dipshit carcass.

Now you’re out in the cold wilderness with your fellow Dipshit. The stars are glistening overhead, the snow is crunching under your tent, and the soft roar of the highway is lulling you to sleep. Not only do you get to admire the starlight in the dark night, but you get to view the town from a mere 1 mile distance. Ahh – civilization. How far away it seems – a whole 15-minute car-ride. Who needs toilet paper?

Now that you’ve settled down in your tent, on your pad with your sleeping bag, you begin to gently drift into the tense, hyper-aware state of extreme nervousness that all campers live for.  This is the time – generally referred to as “night” – when a camper in the middle of the wilderness begins to notice sounds.

At first, these sounds might sound terrifying.  Your city-born ears hear an animal rushing up to your tent in the dead of night to riffle through your packs, chew up your extra sweaters with enormous gnashing jaws, and rip your camping cookware to shreds with its razor-sharp claws.  It’s a strange quirk of the outdoors, but that enormous creature menacing you at 4 a.m. somehow always leaves squirrel tracks in the snow. Perhaps it was a squirrel. Perhaps it was some other animal walking on squirrel-foot stilts. Who can say.  It’s important to not overstretch yourself reaching for a logical interpretation.  That’s not the Dipshit way!

The shining moment in any true Dipshit camping experience, of course, is when you wake up the next morning, and realize that you parked your car (illegally) 5 yards from the actual trailhead.

Congratulations!  You are a real Dipshit.

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Posted by on Saturday, November 12, 2011 in fractally weird


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