I’m Back! A Photo Essay

I have emerged from a long winter of isolation. Two years of recovering from surgeries broke me in places, but where my body and psyche were shattered, I am stronger. Focused. Driven. I am stoked for the challenges that lie ahead. I am ready to take back my Wild Life.susie's knee

For me, skiing symbolizes health, strength, and freedom after setbacks. I looked forward to hitting the slopes again.

I had hiked and biked to get back in shape after a Makoplasty partial knee replacement on January 5th, but my physical therapist instructed me to build strength in my muscles to stabilize the knee instead. I took a few weeks of Pilates and strengthening classes.

Were my muscles strong enough or would I have to ride back down on the chairlift?

I made it to the top! Now for the true test.

The top of A-BasinI would be skiing the heaviest and slushiest snow of the year. It would have been painful to ski with my old knee. How would my body handle it?

So far, so good

I took it slow at first and let other skiers and snowboarders pass me.

A-Basin

The new plastic disk under my kneecap rode in the groove of my new metal cartilage replacement in a most excellent way. My quadriceps squeaked a little since they still need to be stretched and strengthened.

Susie's knee after surgery

During my second run, I let go of my nervousness and really carved my edges to see what my new knee could do.
Getting my legs under meAll warmed up, I experienced no pain at all. Miraculous!

Skiing againBut I quit while I was ahead.

feeling good, feeling strong

There is still time to ski this season. A-Basin closes on June 7th. If the snow continues to fall, maybe they will extend the season and the gapers will make an appearance on the first day of summer again.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to challenge my body with fitness classes. Last night, I took a dance class and you know what that means. The Wild Rider is back!

Are you looking forward to summer? Have you ever challenged yourself after an injury?

93 thoughts on “I’m Back! A Photo Essay

    • Thanks so much, Barb! I am celebrating. Woohoo! Next week, I plan to hit with the ball machine and maybe play a tennis game or two! After having something cripple my lifestyle, I am even more eager to Live Large! Ha!

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  1. Very glad to read the news! The school year is almost over and I am looking forward to a little more me time to get back in my own groove. I fear I may be destined for a knee replacement on the future if I don’t get moving! Snow is a distant memory for us – but it’s wonderful that you can still ski. Take care and keep wild riding!

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    • Thanks so much, Clay!
      If you do have to get a replacement, I would look into the Makoplasty. It’s a lot less invasive.
      Soon you can head “Up North” to your cottage. Woohoo! I hope to head to the mountains at least one more time. It’s raining like crazy down here. I hope it’s snowing in the mountains!!!

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  2. Glad to see America’s favorite snow bunny back on the slopes!
    As you may have read, I ruptured my bicep last year and required surgery to reattach it. I worked pretty hard in therapy to get back to being able to work, but once I was functional I cut back on exercising and focused on 12 ounce reps. Sometimes I get a little cocky and go for the 16’s.

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    • Me too! Thanks Linda. It was a little scary since I didn’t know if it would be too much for my thigh muscles which had been sliced and diced in surgery. It’s all good. 🙂

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  3. The miracle of modern science (the knee), a miracle of tenacity (you), and the miracle of snow (Mom Nature). Glad you’re up and wildly riding again.

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    • Thanks Mary!
      The two new parts (plastic disk under my kneecap and metal cartilage replacement) worked like a charm. After years of pain, I should be able to enjoy my Wild Life, pain-free. I can’t wait for summer!

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  4. Susie, you continue to inspire me with your joie de vivre! I love reading about your bounce-back with your knee. You’re an amazing skier! Right now I’m on a big 6-month Continental Divide Trail adventure with my husband–he’s hiking 3,100 miles and I’m hiking some, but mainly I’m his resupply “trail angel” moving from town to town from the border of Mexico to Canada. We both appreciate your attitude–at once badass and compassionate–in dealing with injuries.

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  5. This is wonderful to hear! Congratulations! How good that must have felt after the restrictions your knee had enforced on you. I face restrictions of my own thanks to thinning and torn cartilage, and someday I might need to go under the knife too. Nice to see someone who’s had surgery and is now getting back to what they love.

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    • Thanks so much, Carrie! I thought I would be sore, but this has been my best week so far!

      Definitely look into less evasive Makoplasty. The robot cleans up the cartilage with help from the doctor, but maybe you can avoid any kind of replacement. What knee issues do you have?

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      • I have mildly torn cartilage (menisci). A few years I had majorly swollen knees, partly because of this, but also because of ligament injury. The doc said I needed surgery, but I want that as a last resort, so I rehabed myself, and I can now do most everything I did before (except sprint on the treadmill). I just need a good warm-up first. The time may come for surgery, but right now since I’m pain-free, swelling-free, and active, it isn’t now. 🙂

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  6. First, dancing I can believe. But lessons? I’m shocked! I bet you know more moves than Fred Astaire and Michael Jackson combined.

    Your chronicle of trial and triumph in this story is once again inspiring–and a good example to follow, especially the “quit while you’re ahead” part. Very interesting about the new process of makoplsty. My cat has a knee problem, and I’ll see if that would benefit him.

    Enjoy the slopes!

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    • Thanks Chaz! The dance class was a fitness class, but I did have to learn a bunch of new steps. I know!!!
      It was so much fun and such an upper to be back out on the mountain. I had a blast even if I only took two runs. Both of my legs were exhausted. The snow was like cement! Ha!

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    • Wouldn’t that be a trick??? Have an operation and then all sports are easy! It took me years to learn to ski. Next year? Snowboarding. Unlike skiing, snowboarding only takes about four days or so they say!
      Thanks for stopping by! Always great to “see” you, Colonist!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well done and welcome back to the world of the moving and challenging. Pressing the corners seems to open new fields of success, doesnt it? Welcome back

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    • It’s been raining all week. I wish I could send some moisture your way! We are getting 1-2 feet of snow in the mountains with this unceasing storm this weekend. Forecasters are predicting snow down here in Boulder on Mother’s Day! It’s actually pretty common to get snow this late. I’m hoping A-Basin will push back the closing day. Fingers crossed!
      Thanks so much, Robin!

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      • (You hear us sweltering mosquito bit flat landers sobbing, don’t you?)
        I’ll keep my fingers crossed the snow lingers – someone ought to be having some fun – and Wild RIder certainly has earned it!
        (You have a Fitbit function device already – it’s called “dog”…well, gets you up and moving, right?)
        Have a great Mother’s Day!

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  8. That’s great that you’re back!! About a year and a half ago Mr. Gibber and I did the whole insanity workout program. That was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done workout wise. Have you heard of it? I’m glad we did it when we did because now I would no longer be able to do it.

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    • YOU ROCK! They don’t call it “INSANITY” for nothing! I’ve been enjoying fitness classes and would love to buy a FitBit that could tell me my heart rate. Walking is great too! I did a lot of that when I first started. Anything to get outside.

      We are in the middle of a monsoon! This rain deluge is supposed to turn to snow on Sunday. GAH! At least I have an excuse to skip gardening this weekend. I would need hip waders!! Ha!

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  9. Congratulations! And may I say, you look maaaaavelous! It must feel fantastic to be on the move again. Last summer, after months of PT (broke a foot, tore a tendon and had surgical repair) and trying to gain back strength in legs and knees, I got a workout walking the rocks on the coast of Maine. It felt great to be mobile and gaining strength. This spring I’ve been a beast out in my yard, taking it back from a few (ok, several) years of brush (blackberries and the like) gone wild. I can see my rhodies again! And not too long ago, my son (12) and I picked up 2 kayaks and have been paddling around local lakes. What a blast!

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    • WOW! You are the BOMB! Way to go, girl! I am strong enough now to take some classes. I can’t run until later this summer, but there’s a lot I can do. It feels so good to be back and active. I would love to go hiking or garden this weekend, but I would need hip waders! We are getting a ton of rain here in Boulder. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by! Happy Mother’s Day this Sunday!

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  10. Ha! Well, I’m still recovering from a very serious paper cut I got while making a photocopy of… a rear body part. But I intend to be back tomorrow, as I’m ready to go near the copier for the first time in, let me see, oh yeah… 18 months. But in all seriousness Susie, that’s wonderful! Boy you are something girl! You have so much courage, and one hell of a lot of persistence, and a spectacular zest for life. Bravo! ;O)

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  11. Makes me proud to read this and not just because you made it back to the slopes — you also didn’t push it too long. After my first knee surgery, my doctor told me to take it easy. I had missed the first few games in my basketball league, was ready to play after doing a lot of shooting around during rehab. Doctor said to play five minutes at a time. As luck would have it, my first game back I was very hot and didn’t come out after five minutes. I drove the baseline for a lay up and a guy moved underneath me as I was coming down, forcing me to land with all my weight on that leg. I wailed and moaned like an injured calf. My knee was blown again.

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  12. Woo hoo, Wild Rider! Fly, girl… FLY! ❤

    What wonderful news!

    Susie, it is so heart-warming to read your words and see you on the slopes again! Your courage and "can-do" spirit through life's challenges is an inspiration to us all!

    xoxo ❤ . Veronica Marie.

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    • Thanks Phil! It felt good to be back. Considering I thought the whole process would take 6 weeks, it was a long time in coming. I still have to build muscle in my quad, but I’m hitting the gym!

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  13. So,so,so happy for you, Susie! You are unbelievable. Like a Weeble who wobbles but can’t fall down. And if you do fall, you just get back up and keep on being Susie! You must have felt so free out there skiing away. Did you say dancing??? 🙂

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    • Thanks Jessica!
      I hope there is a lot of dancing in my future. I miss it! Dance class was fun, but I pushed it a little early. I’ve been instructed not to run until July. That doesn’t mean I can’t swivel my hips and shake my booty! Ha!

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