New knee, new me

I was talking to someone the other day and realized that it’s coming up on a year since I had my knee replaced. Wow, what a year it has been. I have been asked many times how my knee is feeling and I am not exaggerating when I say it has literally changed my life.

For those who don’t know my history with knee surgeries, the replacement was lucky #7 for me. I have had one ACL reconstruction on each knee and then several scopes on the left one. I was without cartilage for almost 20 years. Two decades without that cushion in your knee would be like driving your car cross-country with no tires, and wondering why the ride is so rough. For much of that time, I was in constant pain, even more so within the last 5 years. It was to the point that my left side of my body was numb from the compensation the rest of my body had to absorb because my left knee was worthless. My back. My hips. All the way to my neck and shoulders. Pain, 25 hours a day, 8 days a week.

I also tried to convince myself that I wouldn’t let the pain keep me from living my life, and I continued to play volleyball and softball, against the doctor’s wishes. I just didn’t feel normal unless I was doing something active. I had been an athlete my entire life. No way was I going to let a little pain take that away from me. This hard-headed, stubborn confidence led to many rough mornings where just getting out of bed was a struggle. Standing in the shower, not sure if I would be able to bend over to dry myself off, let alone get dressed and go to work.

I can now say I was addicted. I have never done drugs, never had any inclination to try them. Sports was and is my drug. I am like a junkie, strung out from the last pick up game, waiting for the next fix. I couldn’t stop. I knew if I stopped, life as I had known for 40 years would be over.

How can you give up on a beautiful 40-year relationship that has been so good to you? From the minute I picked up my first basketball, I felt free on any athletic field or court. I was good, I was damn good. Sports never let me down. I never had a fight with sports. Sports didn’t cheat on me. It is one of the most trustworthy friendships I have ever had. And I couldn’t let it go.

Over those painful 20 years, I also developed depression. Chronic pain is nothing to take lightly and it takes as much of a toll on your mind and your soul as it does your body. I had to come to grips that I wasn’t the player I used to be, my 30 inch vertical leap was long behind me. The days of out-sprinting someone to a loose ball were a distant memory. That is devastating to a competitor like me. I lost my identity, one that I would never get back because of the pain. I lied to myself A LOT to convince anyone who asked me to play anything that I would be fine, I couldn’t hurt anymore than I already did. But I could. And I did.

Today, my pain is gone. Aside from a little stiffness first thing in the morning, I wake up with a smile on my face instead of a grimace and a whimper. I can walk without a limp, which I thought had become my new signature move. My depression is gone, too. When I had scheduled the surgery, basically out of nowhere, I had no idea what to even expect. I went in with low expectations, thinking I would still have pain, but maybe not as excruciating and debilitating as I was used to. But what I have experienced over the last 10 months is nothing short of a miracle. I had accepted the pain for so long that I figured it would only get worse everyday and that I would be wheelchair bound by the age of 50.

I have life, life that I had long thought was impossible. I have a renewed sense of confidence and energy that I haven’t known since my 20’s. I was always tired, partially from the pain, mainly due to the depression and that has virtually vanished. I am a new  person and somedays I have to stop and remember what it was like to have pain in my knee. I haven’t taken any pain relievers since my surgery, and I was keeping Tylenol in business with my addict-like tendencies. I am recovering, in more ways than one.

I am proud of my new knee, and I might sound like a first-time mother doting over her new bundle of joy. But if you understood my journey and my struggle to get here, you would appreciate the love that I now have for titanium and the giddy laugh I get when I set off the metal detectors at the airport.

I wear this scar like a badge of honor because I know how it felt before this new scar and I don’t ever want to feel that way again, my knee or my mind.

Words of Wisdom #2

Aside from learning how to cope with difficulties in my life over the last year, I also read one particular book that can be useful for all of us in every area of our lives. Start With Why by Simon Sinek is one of those books that you hear people talk about and it just sounds like another version of “How to Influence People” type books, overanalyzing all of the ways we human beings overreact to every situation and how we need to fix it, in the opinion of the author. Before I talk about this book, please watch this short TED talk by Sinek and feel free to search for other talks of his on YouTube. He is an amazing motivational speaker and his thoughts on leadership are nothing less than thought-provoking, he says a lot of things that most people are thinking but afraid to say.

Now, the book itself, might not be completely new thinking, but it is beautifully delivered and it actually makes you stop and think immediately how you can apply it to your life. The question is simple, why? You can ask “Why” to yourself every time you need to make a decision about anything new you would like to begin or even to determine if you should continue to do something you have already been doing. At the end of the day, we all need to ask “Why” we do the things we do, that motivating factor that gets us out of bed to complete whatever task or activity lies ahead for that day.

The “Why” can be a person, money, a feeling, a sense of purpose, whatever floats your boat. But you have to have a why. If you have no why, then you have no motivation, and you have no way to measure if what you are doing is working. If you can’t measure it, then why do it?

One striking quote really defines the message of the book, and if you don’t read anything else this drives it home fairly succinctly; “PEOPLE DON’T BUY WHAT YOU DO, THEY BUY WHY YOU DO IT. AND WHAT YOU DO SIMPLY PROVES WHAT YOU BELIEVE.” In simpler terms, do your actions match your words? If you have and show the passion for why you are supporting an organization or raising money for a cause and you can get others to feel that same passion, they are much more likely to jump in support you or even help you.

What is your why?

 

Sweet dreams are made of this…

So, it now appears as though this book thing might actually happen. What. The. Hell? I have thought and dreamed about this book for so long that I won’t truly believe it until the first physical printed version is laying softly in my hand, hot off the presses. It was a lot of back and forth with my mind and my heart, backspacing and deleting, adding and changing my mind, but I did it. 45,000 words. I did it.

I took Monday off from work because I was told I would receive a call by Monday and I hadn’t heard as of Sunday. The minute I heard the words, “We want to publish your book,” I felt as though I didn’t hear her right, maybe she was talking to the wrong person. Really? You are going to help me make this dream come true? So, like, this is happening? Hmm. Ok, well then. What’s next? After that I sat down on my couch in my empty house and had a good old-fashioned ugly cry with my black Lab-ish dog, Hopper. He looked at me like I was crazy, but I look at him like that everyday, so we’re even. He sat still for the very first time since we rescued him back in June and he gave me the best version of a dog hug that any dog could ever give. It might not have been the person, or dog, that I had hoped I would be sharing the culmination of a 20-year dream with, but it works. I would have run out and hugged the next stranger I saw if he hadn’t been here, so it probably worked out for the best. Besides, I need people to actually buy and read the book when it’s done and if the neighbors think I’m crazy, they won’t get a chance to see the “softer side” of me in 40 Years of Practice.

Thank you all for your love, support, and patience as I chase down this dream down and tackle it like an Ohio State linebacker. Even though I kept the book a secret for about the last 5 or 6 months, I am happy to now share it with everyone and hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s not all Cadillacs and calla lilies, it’s not a work of fantasy fiction. It’s my story, how it was meant to be told, and from the heart. Regardless if I sell 5 copies or 5,000,000 copies I stayed true to myself, to the people who shared in making my story, and it is authentic. That’s all I can be is myself and I think I pulled it off.

My. Story. Damn that sounds good.

Dreams.PNG

Why?

ed8ff175692223c119e887415cc6dc45Why do we judge others who don’t look like us instead of trying to learn more about them?

Why do we jump to conclusions about others because of one incident you may have had with someone of the same background?

Why do we hate what we don’t know ot understand?

Why can’t we look at ourselves in the mirror and wonder what we can do to help this world?

Why do we talk and post about all of the struggles in our world on Facebook but we won’t say the same words and hold others accountable in the real world?

Why don’t we realize that “social media” is an oxymoron? Social means getting out and meeting people, not hiding behind a keyboard.

Why can’t we all just get along?

Why do we give the people who don’t deserve it all of the attention they are looking for instead of ignoring it and ripping apart their agenda?

Why? Why haven’t you done anything to change the world besides talking about it?

Why do we still keep having the same conversations?

Why?

Nerf wars and Sinatra…

One of the hardest things about separation and divorce has been splitting time with my 9 year old son, Tyson. Thankfully he has taken most of the last 10 months in stride, spending time with both his father and me, asking the occasional curious questions you would expect from an inquisitive little mind like his. But, as the mama bear that I am, I worry about his adapting to the new routine, our new normal that doesn’t always feel normal. I know once he is a few years older the questions will become increasingly difficult and he will have follow ups and his own thoughts. But, for now, I just try to enjoy the precious, quality moments I have with him, never knowing what tomorrow will hold.

I hope that he always knows how much his dad and I love him and that this had nothing to do with him. I also hope that he learns from the decisions we made and he chooses to do things the right way, loving someone unconditionally, without judgement or resentment. I hope he understands that he is my whole world and that I will do anything for him, his dad will do the same. I always worry that I have just altered the entire rest of his life because I wasn’t able to make a loving, faithful, mutual relationship work with his dad. I don’t want him to resent either one, or both, of us for ending our time as a family unit. I only hope I can guide him the best way I know how and thank my lucky stars for a supportive family and friends.

So tonight, as he prepares to head to his dad’s for a few nights starting tomorrow, we played Nerf wars while listening to Frank Sinatra croon ever so smoothly out of our Amazon Dot. Instead of worrying about his future, and mine for that matter, I will put those nagging thoughts away, load my blue and orange foam projectiles and aim for my child’s head with love in my eyes and a burning fire in my heart. It might not be what most mommy and son dates would look like, but “we did it our way!” Just like we always do and always will.

Divorce Research (aka book #2)

So, this book thing has got me all fired up and ready to write! While waiting on the fate of book #1, I am starting research for book #2.

I am going to tackle the topic of Divorce, but I want to bring a little more to the conversation outside of what is always shared (you know the 50/50 rule). For you lucky love birds who are happily married, well, you can just go on and let us divorced folk blabber on about not being so lucky! You can still read the book, though, when it’s ready…just in case…

I need some help from my fellow divorcees and at the end of this post I have developed a pretty quick, and painless (way more painless than your divorce!) survey that will take like 5 minutes, tops. It is 100% anonymous, I won’t even know who is responding, so I promise not to sell your answers to the tabloids or your ex-spouse or their new spouse! This survey is open to anyone, so please feel free to pass it along to friends, family, and co-workers so I can get a wide range of responses and demographics. Also, if you would like to be considered for some follow up questions I may have, please send me your name and email address to tyreardon@outlook.com and I will put you on my list. I will never use your real names, as that is not the intent and purpose I have been called to.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/J9NK83P

Thank you for your help, in advance!

 

A letter to 25 year old, single me

Dear 25 Year Old Me,

I have a few things that I need to tell you, in the hopes that you will heed my instructions and not make the same mistakes I did. Up until this point in your life you haven’t had much experience in the “love department”, but I want you to know it gets better.

Don’t let your previous romantic endeavors affect the way you look at yourself and the way you want others to see you. Be true to who you are and don’t give into the tempations that may come at you just because you are trying to prove something or make up for lost time. I promise it will be worth the wait.

When you meet a younger man at the age of 26, take him seriously, but take it slowly. Your heart and soul will be hurting from past indescretions and you will be trying to cling to the first “real thing” that comes along. He’s a great guy, but handle him with care. As you come into the relationship with some heavy baggage, he’s carrying his own set of Samsonite. (The airlines charge a crazy fee to check your bags, so it’s likely that you will have more in your carry-on than you are used to) Believe in him and let him know what you see, that others have looked past.

You will battle depression in several stages in your life, but please don’t let that keep you from living the life you deserve with the man who was sent to take care of you. Don’t make him pay for what others did or said, because he has accepted you for who you are, baggage and all. He is genuine in his love for you, but he won’t want to struggle with you as you are struggling with yourself.

I won’t tell you when, but you will lose your father. He will leave a huge hole in your heart, but he approves of the man who will take his role in your life and knows that you will be well taken care of. This man will also give you the gift of a beautiful son, the culmination and symbolism of your love for one another. He will want to raise him one way, you another, but work together so you present a united front instead of falling victim to a game of “Whose way is better.”

When this man tells you that he feels a certain way about your relationship, you should listen. He’s not much of a talker, but when he does talk, it’s because he has something that he needs to say. As much as you don’t agree, listen to him. There will be hard times, but they will be far outweighed by the good times. But, you have to talk to him, too. The times when you are frustrated because you don’t think he appreciates you, talk to him. When he tells you he’s frustrated, talk to him. I won’t say it will be all unicorns and rainbows, but conflict will make you stronger. The healthy arguments will be better for your marriage than the silent suffering that you both endure because you are afraid to stir up trouble. Silence is more detrimental than a few heated conversations, so promise me that you will talk it out before it’s too late.

On the days when you are fed up and you want to walk away, don’t do it. Talk about what is driving you crazy, but don’t let it make you crazy, because he will just think you are crazy! And, when he asks for a hug, hug him. I mean REALLY hug him. Put your arms around him, and don’t let go until he lets you go. Trust me, you don’t want to go through letting go in another way if you don’t listen to what I say. He is a hugger, you are not, but suck it up and become a hugger. You HAVE to give to get, it’s not the other way around.

If there was a time machine to come back and hold your hand for the next 15 years of your life, I would do it in a heartbeat. But no one has figured out how to make “Back to the Future” a real thing, so I just have to hope that this makes it back to you before you meet this wonderful, soul mate (yes, he is your soul mate, just accept it) so you start with some insider information so you don’t screw it up.

Good luck and live your life out loud, literally.

41-Year Old Divorced You