Hospital Stay

This hospital stay is much different than the last one.  This one was planned.  The last one began with a trip to the E.R.  This one I went in feeling decent.  The last one I went in with excruciating pain.

I arrived at the hospital at 5:30am for the 7:30am surgery.  They had me undress, prepped me, and shaved my right leg.  They asked the same questions several times – in several different ways.  They stuck an I.V. in my right arm.

They took me back to do a nerve block.  This involved sticking a needle, guided my ultrasound, into the back of my right knee.  I did not like this idea one bit as I would be awake for this part.  It would ease pain post-op though.

They gave me some drugs to relax me.  I spoke to my doctor who said we’d talk more in the O.R. before starting surgery.  That never happened.  I fell asleep before the nerve block.  I woke up after surgery in the recovery room.

During the time I was out they did the nerve block, flipped me over, put me to sleep even better, intubated me, flipped me over again, fixed my achilles tendon, and put a splint on my lower leg and ankle.

I woke up in the recovery room.  It was a peaceful waking.  My thoughts weren’t clear.  My memory was foggy.  I had trouble staying awake for more than two minutes.  No matter, I was whisked to my room, where Diane was waiting.

There’s a dry-erase board in my room with Plan of Care

  • Pain Control
  • Fluids
  • Mobility

I wasn’t in severe pain when I woke up.  I was uncomfortable, but the nerve block was doing it’s job.  They gave me an anti-nausea medication and something for pain.  I had trouble staying awake.  Water and light food was pushed at me.  I had trouble keeping it down, but did manage.

Just a few hours after surgery the PT girls* showed up.  It was mostly to figure out how I can walk while I heal.  I now have a walker.  It’s easier to use than crutches, but it’s slightly embarrassing.

The PT girls will be back today to teach me to navigate stairs.

After my rather short PT session I was quite awake.  My appetite was back.  I started drinking copious amounts of water.  I was feeling better.

A couple of hours after that the nerve block began to wear off.  Ouch.  Surgery is painful.  I’ve been alternating between Percocet and morphine.  The Percocet takes the edge off the pain.  I’ve found the morphine to just make me feel weird and somewhat sleepy.

Ugh

Ugh

I had a lousy night’s sleep mostly due to the pain.  Diane insisted on staying with me the whole time.  She fell asleep early on the small couch in the room.  She did crawl into the tiny hospital bed with me briefly.  It’s just too small.

I’m supposed to be discharged today.  I’m still waiting to see my doctor.  I don’t know how things will play out.

I am to put NO weight on my bad leg for a while.  This is going to be difficult.  Even once I get home, I’ll spend a lot of time in bed.  My Kindle should keep me from being too bored.

Therapy has not yet begun.  I have no idea before I can walk without a walker, ride a bike, or climb stairs.  This sucks, but I’m going to follow doctor’s orders.  I want this to heal properly so I don’t have to worry about it again.

*PT girls are the Physical Therapists.  No, they don’t work at PT’s, which is just a few blocks from here.

Back on Two Wheels

I was out sick from work on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.  By Thursday evening (last night), I was itching to get back on a bike – it had been a week.

I wasn’t up for distance.  I needed a bag of coffee, so Diane and and I took the tandem to Sunergos and grabbed some coffee.  Later, after dinner, we went to Four Pegs for a beer.

I’m back at work today.  I rode the Fargo.  The rSogn needs the rear wheel trued.  I’m still sick, but things are improving.

Sick Day

I’m still sick today.  I stayed home from work and skipped volleyball.  Diane had to work so I spent most of the day in the company of the dogs and my Kindle.  I didn’t leave the house.

Since getting sick, I haven’t been drinking beer (other than the partial one in Michigan City that I couldn’t finish).  This has made me re-think my dietary choices.  I need to lose weight.  I need to get fitter.  I intend to race Gravel Grovel in November.

If I could drop under 200 lbs sometime next year, and ride six centuries… that would make up for a lot.

Apple Cider Century – DNS

What’s worse than a DNF (Did not finish)?  A DNS (Did not start).

Today was the Apple Cider Century in Three Oaks Michigan.  Diane and I drove up on Friday afternoon, with my rSogn, and the tandem strapped to the back of the car.  I had removed the wheels from the bikes to have less of a weight load on the trunk-mounted rack.

Sketchy

Sketchy

It looks bad, but we had no problems with this setup, even at freeway speeds.

As I posted before, I wasn’t feeling well, but I assumed it would pass.  My sore throat continued to get worse.

We arrived at our hotel late Friday night in Michigan City, Indiana.  We carried the two wheel-less bikes upstairs to our second-floor room, and I promptly felt quite ill from that little bit of exertion.

The night became a bit of a blur after that.  I was too sick to eat or drink.  I felt feverish and really couldn’t swallow.  I slept poorly – hoping that I’d recover before Sunday morning.

Saturday morning was still quite bad.  I got up just so I could force some breakfast and coffee down.  I couldn’t talk without extreme pain.  I went to an urgent care clinic – replete with an annoying couple from Italy via Chicago who were arguing about paying the $75 fee instead of the $50 fee.

After a quick strep test (negative), I was sent on my way with the advice to take acetaminophen and gargle with saltwater.

We stopped to buy acetaminophen, salt, and soup (the only thing I could really eat), and went back to the hotel.  Diane went out on her own while I tried to nap some more.

Part of the point of this trip was to meet some people I’ve been talking to online on Google Plus.  So this was supposed to be a HIRL (Hangout In Real Life) – along with a 100-mile bike ride.

Jin, one of those people sent me a message, wondering where I was.  She was in Three Oaks at Journeyman Distillery.  Once Diane got back, we headed to Three Oaks.  Jin had left the distillery, and I don’t know where she went off to.

Diane had never seen Lake Michigan (or any of the Great Lakes for that matter), so we drove to New Buffalo and spent some time on the beach.  I really couldn’t talk, and the water was a bit cold, so I just laid in the sand next to Diane for a while.  It was pleasant.

Getting the feet wet

Getting the feet wet

They may not be visible in these pictures, but there were quite a few others at the beach.

Lake Michigan on a calm day

Lake Michigan on a calm day

When we left New Buffalo and headed back to Michigan City, I took an alternate route.  I’m glad I did, as we ran across Shoreline Brewery.  I drank less than a beer (Diane finished it) and I only ate french onion soup, but it was all quite good.

Saturday night’s sleep was only marginally better than Friday’s.  It had rained overnight, but appears weather cleared for the Century.  After fortifying ourselves with coffee and waffles, we packed the car, and headed home.

Much of the drive home was uncomfortable.  I couldn’t swallow or talk.  When we got near Indianapolis, I was feeling well enough to eat something soft, so I had an omelette at Waffle House.  More coffee kept me moving.

We arrived home and unpacked the car.  I immediately laid down and tried to nap.

Throughout all of this, Diane has taken care of me and been understanding of how I feel.  She didn’t tease me, or get angry that I wasted the time and money on this trip, only to bail on the ride.

I’m most upset that I didn’t get to meet those from Google Plus.  Some changes I’m making in my life mean I’m leaving that social networking site.  I’ll stick with this blog and email as my online presence.  I don’t want to spend extra energy on more.

Century on Sunday?

I’ve been signed up to ride the Apple Cider Century in southwest Michigan for months.  I booked a hotel room last week.

I’m not too worried about the fact I’m out of shape.  I’ve done 70 miles recently, I don’t think 100 will be too much of a stretch.

Diane and I are planning on bring my bike (for the century) and the tandem (for toodling around on Saturday).

The last two days have been hell.  I’ve had a low-grade illness of some sort.  My neck flared up again.  I’ve been stressed and depressed.

I’ve not cancelled yet.  I may, or I may not.  We’ll see.

Migraine

On Monday I ended my post with “We’ll see what tomorrow brings.”  It brought a massive headache.  My neck is having a minor flare-up, and the muscles were so tight that it was pulling my head, causing a severe headache.  I didn’t go to work.

Wednesday morning was much better.  I rode the recumbent to work.  I’ve considered commuting on that bike a pain, because I don’t generally wear “street” clothes on it.  Pants can get greasy on the long chain.  I used two small straps to hold my pant leg, and it worked.  I arrived at work grease-free.  I didn’t have to bother with changing clothes.

After work, I went out to eat and drink with my daughter.  It was totally against the diet, but it was good talking to her.

I overdid it.  I woke up this morning dehydrated and sore.  I spent the money to take a cab to work.  I walked to Car-Free Happy Hour after work.  Another attendee took me home afterword.

I limited my beer consumption tonight.  I need to ride tomorrow.

Writing Problems

I haven’t posted in a while.  I’ve been busy during my good times and depressed during the bad times.

A week ago (last Saturday) I rode 41 miles on the rSogn, and was so stiff and sore that I didn’t leave the house on Sunday.

I rode the ‘bent to work, on errands, and to Car-Free Happy Hour last week.  This included one day with a winter weather advisory.  I probably should have ridden the Fargo with studded tires, but I didn’t.  I had no issues with the roads, but as I pulled into work, the bike slipped out from under me on an icy spot.  I went down in front of three co-workers.  I wasn’t injured, but it was embarrassing.

I was on a ride this morning with Tim and Asher.  I was on the rSogn again.  30 miles into the ride, I called it quits and turned for home.  I ended the day with less than 37 miles.  I’m stiff and sore again.

The rSogn isn’t the issue.  My body is the issue.  I’m having a low-grade flare-up of my neck and shoulders again.  Riding a drop-bar road bike aggravates it.  Maybe I should stay off that bike until the flare-up is over.

I’m planning on going out again tomorrow morning, but I haven’t decided which bike to ride.

As I said earlier, I’ve been busy.  Work is busy in a good way.  Other things in life are busy in a “not so good” way.  I’ve fallen behind on things I need to get done.  This has caused me to write here less often.

When I’m being lazy and not working on such things, it’s often because I’m depressed.  I have trouble writing when I’m depressed.  Okay… not entirely true.  I could write 300 pages of sad-sack shit that nobody wants to read.  I’ll spare you that.

Committed

I’m racing the Gravel Grovel this Saturday.  I know I’ll suffer, but I’ll hate myself and sink into depression if I don’t do it.  I’ll be joined by Asher and Timothy because misery loves company.

I did spend good money to buy an appropriate bike, the Fargo, for this race.  I paid the registration fee.  I bought shoe covers to keep my feet warm.  I have to race.

I’ve been without beer or junk food since Friday.  My mood is improved, but I don’t know how long-lasting that will be.

I’ve had muscle aches in my legs for months now.  They disappeared today.  I have no idea what’s going on there.  I hope they stay gone.  I still have the normal neck/shoulder mess going on, but that’s not going to go away.

I reserved a hotel room in Bedford Indiana.  I’m riding with Timothy, and he wants to drive up the night before.  This should hopefully allow me to arrive at the race well-rested.

I need to take the Fargo out for a last-minute ride on Thanksgiving to make sure everything is ready.

I consider this race as the kick-off to focusing on my health and fitness again.  I did well in 2007 and 2008.  I did a ton of riding in 2009 and 2010.  2011 saw my first neck issues, but the riding was still good.  2012 has been poor.  I’ve drank too much, ate too much, rode less, had physical and mental issues to deal with.  I put too many things at a higher priority than my fitness, yet being healthy should be my primary goal.

I’m not waiting for the new year.  January first is just another arbitrary date.  I’m starting now.

Pain and Stupidity

I’ve had recent flare-up of neck, shoulder, and back pain.  Just for added giggles my wrists have been very painful too.  I don’t know why this is happening, but it’s really poor timing as I’m about a week and a half away from racing Gravel Grovel, and I really haven’t done any training.

Today I remembered that my doctor told me to take naproxen daily to help with this.  I did for a while, then basically forgot about it.  Even with the pain returning, it didn’t jog my memory until today.

So, I took the pills again a little bit ago.  I wonder how much training time I missed due to my forgetfulness.  I hope they work well enough.

My Neck and Bicycling

I pretty much couldn’t ride a drop-bar bike earlier this year due to my neck flaring up.  I initially though that the painful situation I was in was permanent.  It wasn’t.  My neck has slowly improved.  It still hurts sometimes and is almost always stiff.

In any case, I can ride a drop-bar bike when I’m not having a flare-up.  I had put the upright “city bars” on the single-speed, but I really don’t care for them.  I’ll be switching that bike back to drop bars, and replacing the messed up crankset.

The new Salsa Fargo that I pick up soon has Woodchipper bars, which are shallow drops that are flared outward.  I’ll probably stick with those bars unless they just kill me.

The cheap hybrid?  I’m giving that to my daughter.  She needs transportation.  Her boyfriend’s car broke down, and has been sold.  He had an old bike that I fixed up to rideable condition.  I no longer need the hybrid, and it’ll fit Dawn, so it’s hers.

I still have my recumbent, which is the best bike for my neck.  I also have the Big Dummy, which in addition to hauling cargo, is pretty easy on my neck.

So, I’ll have four bikes to ride, two of which I’ll be able to ride during a neck flare-up.  That’ll do.

Mixed Feelings

I’ve been a little sick for over a week.  I didn’t feel up to riding to work today, so Robin drove me.  I called my doctor and scheduled an appointment for today.  Then I realized I had no bike to get there.

I took a bus from work to the doctor’s office without much problem.  The doctor said I have a minor virus and that it’ll pass.  He sent me on my way.

I didn’t feel like taking another bus.  It would take longer than walking.  It was only two miles from home.  So, I lugged my laptop home in the 94 degree temperatures.  It wasn’t a big deal.

The doctor talked to me about my weight.  I’ve gained since my last visit.  I’ve justified my lifestyle.  I’ve promised to do better.  Months have gone by since I knew this was an issue yet I have yet to actually do anything about it.

My bike miles are way down.  I ride slower when I do ride.  I seldom do long rides.  I’m not in as good of shape as I was.

Some of this was precipitated by my neck issue cutting into the long rides.  I have less fun on the recumbent, but am perfectly comfortable with it.

I bought the new bike two be able to do the gravel rides with friends, but I’m beginning to think that neither I, nor the bike, are prepared for that.  I’m wishing I hadn’t spent the money on it.

I don’t have answers yet.  I don’t know how to motivate myself to get in better shape again. I need to figure it out.

Canoe Comedy

I’m a member of the Louisville Ski Club.  My volleyball league is part of that.  Yesterday was the annual canoe trip.

I had last been in a canoe in April 2010 on my North Carolina vacation.  It was on the New River near Boone, NC, and was pretty sedate.  The biggest hazards were minor rapids over rocky shallow spots.  We kept the canoe upright and it was fun, possibly even a bit boring.

Yesterday’s trip was a 12-mile trip on Elkhorn Creek near Frankfort KY.  This trip has been scheduled for months, and with the drought we were wondering if the creek would be passable.  The recent rains over the last few weeks solved that.  The creek was fairly high and running swiftly.

The trip was from Canoe Kentucky.  They had a macaw with quite a personality.

You lookin' at me?

You lookin’ at me?

I had brought a ziplock bag with me to keep my phone and other stuff in.  It worked well enough last time, and I didn’t plan on getting wet.  The store sold small waterproof boxes.  One that would fit my phone was $12.  That turned out to be a wise investment.

They bused us six miles upstream, so the halfway point would be back at Canoe Kentucky.  This allows a 12-mile ride on Elkhorn Creek without having to worry about the dam in Frankfort, or where the creek ends at the Kentucky River.

Neither Robin or I are expert canoeists.  She’s been out more than me, so she was captain, at the rear of the boat.

Canoes on Elkhorn Creek

Canoes on Elkhorn Creek

There were 22 of us on the trip from the Ski Club.  I think it was ten canoes and two kayaks.

Once the water got rough, my phone was safely locked in the box, and I didn’t take more pictures until after the trip.

This was the couple we car-pooled with.

This was the couple we car-pooled with.

The water got rough where the creek got very shallow and rocky.  I’m not entirely sure how, but we ended up sideways and I fell out of the canoe.  The safety video tells you to fall upstream so the canoe doesn’t run you over.  I don’t know how they plan such things.  I, of course, was downstream from the canoe.

It was shallow water, but the current was strong.  I was unable to stand, and the canoe (with Robin still in it) was attempting to go over me.  The water was too shallow for that.  I grabbed the canoe, which had the unintended consequence of dumping Robin into the water with me.

The much lighter canoe then passed over us.  It, our paddles, cooler, drinks, snacks, and Robin’s life-vest continued downstream without us.  I was wearing my life vest, but the water was quite shallow.  We were able to stand up in the mid-calf deep water, but walking to shore wasn’t feasible.  I was already hurting from the rocks I had bounced against.

Robin insisted we float downstream.  I balked.  She took off without me and seemed to have no issues catching up with the group ahead that was gathering our stuff.

I allowed myself to float.  The rocks were painful, but only continued for a dozen feet for so before I was in deeper water.

The current didn’t quite take me the same direction as Robin.  She ended up on the right bank where others were.  The water wasn’t deep there.  I ended up heading toward the left bank, which was much deeper and had a large bushy tree hanging into the water.  It was dense enough to be impassible, and probably continued to far into the water to go under it.

As I approached the tree, I grabbed for a larger branch to support the force of the current.  I didn’t want to get pushed into the tree.  It was covered in thorns.  I was trying to figure out how to get myself out of the predicament, when a more skilled guy on a kayak made his way over and had me grab the front of his kayak, and he pulled me away from the tree and to shallower water.

Now we re-grouped.  We had retained most of our canned beverages.  The fried chicken was still sealed in it’s container.  Our phones were dry in their boxes.  Nothing was lost other than some of the beverages and all of our ice.  We were both beat up and had sore spots, but nothing major was bleeding.  We continued on.

There were many islands in the creek.  These narrower spots caused greater flow and issues with trees at the edge.  We had a number of close-calls and a few collisions.

We eventually made it to the halfway point, where I ran back to the car to grab our chips that were forgotten the first time.

Some of our crew, back at Canoe Kentucky - the halfway point

Some of our crew, back at Canoe Kentucky – the halfway point

We continued on.  I was half tempted to sit out the rest of the trip, but that would have left Robin without a canoe partner.

Some more in our group - turned around backwards - oops

Some more in our group – turned around backwards – oops

At some point we dumped a second time.  I don’t remember the details.  It was deep enough that I didn’t hit rocks.  We had our cooler bungied in this time, and lost nothing.

We approached a narrow spot.  There were too many canoes bunched up.  We backed off to let the group in front go first.  They had a few issues, but made it through.  We did not.  We ran directly into a tree at the water’s edge.  It was a hard impact and I slid off the seat on to the bottom of the canoe.  The front of the canoe went downward and we took in a bunch of water, swamping us, but we didn’t tip.  We managed to paddle (half sunk) to the other shore to empty out.  Before we got out of the canoe, another group came through and collided.  Multiple canoes hit us, but we were in very shallow water.  Once the group was past, we dumped the water and continued.  Somewhere in that mess I lost my towel, which was already soaking wet.  No big loss.

We came across another rough spot and tangled with a tree.  Me managed to lose one of our paddles.  We didn’t dump however.  Another couple of guys in our group (Dave and Pat) dumped and lost a paddle and a cooler.  We were fighting to regain control at the time, and continued our way downstream a bit.  We eventually got to shore where our paddle was returned to us.  I had Dave and Pat’s lost paddle.  We also grabbed their cooler.

We kept waiting for them to come downstream, but there was no sign of them.  I eventually walked upstream (luckily it was an easy climb up to a road in that spot) and found them.

Pat had lost his glasses.  Their canoe was trapped under a log.  The current was strong and I really didn’t think we’d get the canoe out.  The three of us were able to get the canoe free, which then led to us trying to control a sunken canoe in fast current.  We managed, and I gave them their missing paddle.  I walked back to our landing spot and we continued on.

It was pretty calm after that.  Our take-out spot was right after the US127 bridge.  We stopped just before the bridge where there was a nice place to eat and swim.  We talked with others in the group and enjoyed our snack.

After a bit, it was time to go.  Robin and I got back in the canoe and headed downstream.  The water was deep here.  It seemed the current was faster than it should have been.  We could see the take-out spot.  I complained that “of course the take out is in heavy current”. I had barely gotten that complaint out when, for no apparent reason, the canoe flipped, dumping us both in the water.

Robin wasn’t wearing her life vest (again).  I was wearing mine, but apparently it wasn’t tight enough, as it moved upward on me, cutting of my vision.  She struggled because her footwear – crocs (poor choice) slid up on her ankles, making it difficult to swim.  She was some distance from the canoe.  I was holding on to it.  Her life vest was right there in front of me.  I intended to throw it to her, but she had fastened it to the cooler, and I couldn’t get it free.

I saw one of my sandals floating (also a poor choice of footwear), and I threw it in the half-swamped canoe.  Robin was making progress toward the canoe.  We were both trying to get to the left bank, as that’s where the take-out was.

She reached the canoe, and we both swam toward shore, speeding up our glacial progress.  Amazingly, we made it to the take-out before getting carried downstream.

Robin lost her towel and a visor she had been wearing.  I (amazingly) still had both sandals.  We still had our phones and keys, and they were dry.

We were both grumpy and glad to be done with the trip.  Canoeing with someone can be stressful, much like tandem bike riding.

It also turned out to be more dangerous than I thought it would be.  On an average bike ride, I don’t crash, fall over, or collide with stationary objects.  We flipped three times and swamped the canoe once.  We collided with trees, other canoes, and one kayak (but the kayak wasn’t stationary, and it was her fault).

The two guys with the stuck canoe really scared me.  If that had been a person rather than a canoe, they would have died.  There really was no way out.

As far as the flip right at the end… The other canoeists complained about the current there, and one even said they almost flipped.  It looked calm, but there must be monsters (trolls?) under that bridge the get enjoyment from rolling canoes over.

I think my future paddling adventures will be on calmer water until I learn more.

We survived it - bus ride back

We survived it – bus ride back

Once I was home, I went to bed early and slept for 13 hours.  Canoeing didn’t seem strenuous.  I think the stress did me in as much as anything else.

This morning I woke up quite sore.  I have a banged and scraped knee.  My right hand at the base of the thumb has a deep, painful bruise.  I have a scraped ankle, sore spots on my feet, and a scrape on my ass.

I’m still better off than Robin.  She has at least as many bumps and scrapes as I do.  She also hurt her finger.  It may be broken.  It was quite swollen today.  I helped her cut a ring off that was constricting the swollen finger.  She hated to lose the ring, but it’s better than losing a finger.

I think Robin and I learned things about each other too.  Neither of us behaved that well to each other under stress.  Does that mean we avoid canoeing together?  Do we work on technique?  I don’t know.  I’ll have to discuss it with her once she’s willing.

30 Days of Biking – Day 11

I didn’t ride to work today, Robin drove me.  I slept poorly and woke feeling bad.  I did get a half mile in after work, but that was mostly so I could say I was on the bike.

I accidently left my refrigerator unplugged overnight and all day today.  I threw away a few things, but there wasn’t much in there anyway.

I’m in a mental funk.  I haven’t eaten poorly today, but my trip to Four Pegs last night was a bad idea.  I ate dinner with Robin tonight, and I helped cook.  Now I’m back home and still feeling down.

I think my blog issues are solved.  I’m going to give it a few more days before calling it a success.

My neck continues to improve.  It’s a gradual change.  It still hurts, but my range-of-motion is better.  It doesn’t hurt to ride a bike, even with drop bars.

It annoys me to no end that I had to sell bikes to pay taxes.  Tim and Timothy rode a hilly 62 miles today.  I could have probably gotten the day off work and joined them, but I don’t have a bike that fits that kind of riding.  It would have been possible on the recumbent, but not ideal.  I know there’s a new bike in my future, when I can afford it.

More Riding and Some Weights

The week started off poorly.  I overate and took the bus to work and back on Monday and Tuesday.

Kristy, my ex-wife, recently joined a gym, and wanted a workout partner early Wednesday morning.  She understandably didn’t want to drive the ten miles to pick me up, ten miles back, then do it all over again to take me home.  40 miles uses gas and time.

She suggested I ride out to the gym to meet her on the folding bike, then she could give me a ride to work.  I scrambled to get the bike back from my daughter, who hasn’t been riding it recently.  After tuning it and taking care of the neglect it had suffered, I packed it for the next morning.  I used my large Arkel touring bags on the tiny bike.  Not only are they the only bags I can make fit on the tiny rack, but I needed the storage capacity for clothing and commuting stuff.  The bags are so large on the bike that I have to be careful to avoid leaning too much on turns or the bags rub the ground.

The ride was uneventful, which surprised me on Taylorsville Rd on a Wednesday morning.

After seeing the gym and signing in, I changed in the locker room and met Kristy by the weight machines.  I demonstrated how to use them and got a workout myself.  I may have overdone it on the machine that works the abs, I still hurt.

Overall the workout felt good, but it did aggravate my neck and shoulder.  I need to build strength in that area.  Riding the folding bike didn’t do me any favors either.

After showering and dressing for work, Kristy dropped my bike and I off at work.  The 3.5 mile ride home after work was easy, even on the tiny bike.  I rode about 13 miles for the day.  I may continue to join her for workouts, but I’ll ride the recumbent to the gym, then work, then home, giving me 25 miles or so.  It’ll save my neck.  I also need to start getting to bed earlier.  It’s hard to get to the gym before work when you oversleep.  I’m really good at sleeping.  I get a lot of practice.

Today I rode the recumbent.  It was cloudy and windy with threat of thunderstorms, but I never did get rained on.  The rain came after I got home.  I’ll be on the recumbent again tomorrow for the commute.  It’s much easier on the neck.

I’m on planning on riding on Saturday so I can spend most of the day with Robin, but on Sunday I have tentative plans to ride with the RCCS for an Indiana gravel ride.  I’ll be on the ‘bent, which should be interesting.  I think 40 miles is planned.

I have ridden gravel on the ‘bent before, but never a long ride.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’ll be  slow, partially because I’ll be on the ‘bent, and partially because I’m out of shape.

Cervical!

I was discussing my neck issue with a co-worker a while back when another co-worker heard the word cervical, and thought it meant cervix.  Quite a difference there.

I had today off work, as I had a doctor visit in the middle of the day.  After 75F and tornadoes on Friday we had a cooler weekend.  This morning I woke to three inches of snow.  By the time I was up and moving the roads were completely clear.

Snowy Scene

Snowy Scene

I took a meandering route through neighborhoods.  I noticed that my fitness level has really diminished recently.  Every small hill was a challenge.

My last physical therapy appointment was Friday.  I’ve put my massage therapy and chiropractor visits on hold.  These things haven’t been working for me.  Today was the day for me to talk to my doctor about surgery.

Beargrass Creek

Beargrass Creek

I approached Seneca Park and stopped to take the pictures in this post.  There wasn’t any snow falling from the sky, but the trees were dropping quite a bit as it melted.  I was pelted in the face by a piece of ice.

Snow-filled trees

Snow-filled trees

I eventually made it to the office.  Not finding a bike rack, I had to lock to a sign.

The 'bent

The 'bent

As expected, the doctor has said that non-surgical methods are not working.  I’m hoping for one of the “easier” surgeries, as if any of them are easy.

That’s not to be.  He is suggesting anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.  That involves cutting through the front of the neck, removing the ruptured disc (C6-C7), grinding down the bone a bit, and sticking a piece of cadaver bone in to fuse the two vertebrae.  There would also be metal plates and screws put in place to hold it all together.

I would be unable to drive(ha!) or work for at least two weeks.  I’d be off the bike for several months.  It can take a full year for full fusion to take place.

There are risks.  The bones may not fuse, which would require another surgery.  I could die.  It may not provide as much relief as I hope.  I could end up paralyzed.  It’s a terribly invasive surgery.

He isn’t rushing me to make a decision.  At this point, I can’t see going through with the surgery.  I see two options that don’t involve surgery, both involve dealing with it.

Option One:  Give up.  Buy a car and sell the bikes.  Suffer with the pain and continue to deteriorate.  Someday I’ll die and the pain will stop.  That’s a lousy option, but seems slightly better than surgery (at this point).

Option Two:  Attack this thing my way.  I’ve done some research on exercise, stretching, diet, and other things that may help a little.  So, do those things and deal with the pain.  It won’t fix a ruptured disc, but it may provide enough relief for me to keep plugging along.  This keeps me healthy, and still leaves open the option for surgery later if necessary.

I did ask the doctor if the pressure on the nerve would be damage it long-term.  He didn’t seem concerned.  I asked him about the bikes again.  I don’t want to be limited to the recumbent.  He gave me the all-clear to ride what I want, with the warning that I may be quite sore from it.

I plan on riding the single-speed to work tomorrow.  I’ll consider replacing the handlebars with something a bit higher.

Later in the week I’ll get the LHT out and ready to ride.  I’ll look into other handlebar options for that too.

My preliminary decision is Option Two.  Option One is really bad.  Surgery doesn’t sound good.  Option One is the direction I’ll head for now.  I reserve the right to change my mind later.

Riding AS Traffic

I don’t ride IN traffic or WITH traffic.  I AM traffic, so I ride that way.

Here’s a video I found showing how to do it.  He rides much the way I do, with only a few variations.

In other news, my spine issue has shifted away from pain and more toward numbness.  Still not good, but riding the recumbent is not bad at all.  I intend to ride to work every day this week.  I rode to a dentist appointment this morning, then to work.  It was a beautiful day for it.

Spine Stuff

Although I really enjoyed the camping trip over the weekend, it hurt my neck.  Riding the Big Dummy was a bad idea.  If I do another trip, I’ll have to find a way to carry everything on the recumbent.

Monday had beautiful weather, but my neck was really bothering me.  I took a cab to work.

Tuesday was windy and rainy.  I had a physical therapy appointment and I was feeling better.  I rode the ‘bent to PT then to work.  I don’t mind riding in the rain too much.  It was a good day.  The therapist isn’t happy with my lack of progress, and neither am I.

This morning I had an early chiropractor appointment before work.  It was another “bad neck day”.  The visit did no good, and I took a cab to work again… in beautiful weather… again.

I think I’m done with the chiropractor.  The visits helped for a while, but they aren’t anymore.

I’ve swapped out my desk and chair at work.  We’ve ordered a monitor stand.  This should give me a more ergonomic workstation.  Hopefully this means I can be reasonably comfortable at work without leaning back in my chair.

I still have a few more PT appointments, then a follow-up with the neurosurgeon.  Then I’ll know what direction to take.

Direction?

Hot coffee after a cold ride

Hot coffee after a cold ride

I disappeared from here for a while.  I saw a neurosurgeon on the 6th.  He has referred me for physical therapy.  I’ve been to one session so far and have been doing some stretches as “homework”.  With luck things will improve enough that I won’t need surgery.

The doctor has told me to avoid the bikes, other than the recumbent, so the single-speed and LHT are parked.  I’ll still use the Big Dummy when appropriate for hauling loads.  It’s not too bad to ride it, as it a more upright position than the “road” bikes.

My eating is not doing well, but I am tracking everything I eat… and surpassing my limits each day.  I’ve not been getting on the scale every day.  Sometimes it’s because the scale is here at my house, and I’m at Robin’s house.  Other times it’s because I woke up late, and forgot the scale in my rush to get to work.

I’m beginning to tire of “tracking things”.  I’m going to bump my bike mileage tracking to monthly instead of weekly.  I’m still tracking my commute method each day (cab to work today, carpool home), but I’m not sure I’m going to continue doing it.  It’s actually a bit depressing.  I haven’t been on the bike enough.

I did ride my ‘bent for about 17 miles on Saturday.  I met Tim for a morning coffee ride.  I felt fat and slow.  The small hills around town are bigger than any of them on my commute, and I struggled.

The magical blue pony that gets me around Louisville

The magical blue pony that gets me around Louisville

Several of us are doing a bike camping trip this Saturday into Sunday.  I’ll be riding the Big Dummy for the hauling capacity.  I’m in charge of breakfast and coffee for all of us.  It’ll be fun, and we’re just riding to Jefferson Forest, so it’s not far.  The more challenging part may be staying warm and dry while camping in February.  We’ll see.

I have another physical therapy appointment in the morning.  Wish me luck.

January Miles and (Lack of) Progress

Between my car-rental drive to Bowling Green and driving Robin’s car for us to do stuff together, I drove 356 miles for the month.  It would normally not be difficult to ride my bike more than that in a month, but I’ve had a really off month.

I only rode my bike 160.6 miles.  My neck and shoulder have conspired to keep me off the bike much of the time.  I made good use of carpooling, the bus, and the occasional cab ride to get to work.  I’ve even walked the 3.5 miles home from downtown once.

I quit weighing myself recently, but I’ll be doing that again now.  I had quit posting my weight a while before that, but I’ll get that caught up soon.

Now that I have an iPhone I downloaded the  MyFitnessPal app to track what I eat.  I’ve also downloaded the EEBA app to help me budget my money using virtual envelopes.  We’ll see how that works out.

The last two days have been much less painful than before.  I feel like I can function normally.  I didn’t ride my bike yesterday, because I had to return the rental car and walk to work from there.  I took the bus home.  Today, I rode the single-speed and it felt wonderful.  I’ll be on it again tomorrow.

I still have an appointment with a neurosurgeon on Monday.  I’d like to avoid surgery, so I’ll get a second opinion if he immediately suggests it.  If two doctors suggest it, I’ll go through with it.

Things are going well between Robin and I.  I like the fact that we’re both comfortable living where we do… two blocks apart.  Seriously, I just know I need to avoid pushing things faster (or further) than they need to go.  We are seeing each other exclusively, but I really don’t feel comfortable discussing much more here.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is also the Car-Free Happy Hour.  This is technically January’s event as it was delayed a week.  Will you join us at 5:30pm at Four Pegs at 1053 Goss Ave 40217.  I may ride my bike there, or just walk.  It’s very close to my house.

Weight?  Weight!  Wait?  No, don’t wait.  I still need to lose about 55lbs to make it to my goal weight.  A reasonable goal is one pound per week, giving me about a year to do this.  So 175lbs by 2013.  Could the iPhone be the tool I need to do this?

With my new phone comes a new phone number.  I used to publish my old one pretty openly, but I’m not doing that any more.  That’s why I didn’t port the number to the new phone.  If you need my number, send me an email, and I’ll get back to you.

Car-Free Musings

Robin has been working in Bowling Green KY and coming home for the weekends.  For reasons I won’t go into here, she is working today, Saturday, and staying the weekend.  I made a last-minute decision to join her for the weekend.

I rented a car, which by the way, if you don’t have a credit card, it’s a little more hassle.  I don’t have car insurance anymore, so I also paid extra for the insurance from the rental place.

I drove down after work yesterday.  Driving (mostly) the speed limit, I got here in about two hours.

I know I said I was “off the bike”, but that’s only partially true.  I’ve ridden to work once this past week.  The only bike riding I’m doing is transportation related.

I’ve ridden the bus some, and I don’t like it.  My bus route is rather crowded.  I’ve car-pooled with a co-worker, and Robin has taken me to work a couple of times when she was home during the week.  I’ve even considered walking to work.  I have walked home from downtown, but it wasn’t a work day, and I wasn’t carrying a laptop.

I’m still waiting to know the long-term plan for my neck issue.  I may end up riding the bikes as they are, stick to recumbents only, or go with higher handlebars on my existing bikes.  It’s too early to know right now.

Off The Bike

My neck issue is pushing me off the bike for a while.  I’m tired of fighting the pain.  I see a neurosurgeon in two weeks.  Then it’ll be time for more decisions.  In the meantime I’m staying off the bike.  Even the recumbent hurts me on bad days.

My eating habits are only slightly better than before.  I have purchased a new hot-air popcorn popper.  I used it tonight.  Plain popcorn used to be a comfort food for me, but I had thrown away the old popper.  Now I can go back to this filling, low-calorie, snack that I used to enjoy.

In spite of the challenges, I’m in a good mood.  I’m not trying too hard to lose weight, just trying to prevent myself from gaining for a while.  Things are working well with Robin.  We’re now going out and doing something besides eating.  We saw a concert on Friday and a movie on Sunday.  We met with my daughter and her boyfriend on Saturday, but we did go out to eat then.

I feel more motivated to take care of housework and other related duties than I have in a while.

I probably won’t see Robin next weekend, but that will give me time to thoroughly clean house and catch up on other duties that need to be done.

I’ll take the bus to work most days now that I’m not riding my bike.  I’m considering walking a couple of days a week though, including tomorrow.  At least it’s still exercise and it doesn’t seem to hurt.

Discomfort

I’m barely riding the bike.  I’m gaining weight.  My neck has been, well, a pain in the neck.  I missed another day of work on Thursday due to it.

I don’t mean to sound too negative.  A lot of good stuff is going on.  I bought a new laptop on Friday to replace the one that died a few months ago.  I’ve been spending my weekends with Robin.  I have a doctor appointment tomorrow and will figure out what to do next for treatment of my neck.

Robin bought me a heating pad, mostly because I’m too stubborn to buy one myself.  I’ve been enjoying good company, good food, and good beer.

I bought some new clothing and a stand for my new laptop, so I can sit in a more comfortable chair and still use it.

I’ll be riding the recumbent to the doctor then to work tomorrow.  There’s a good chance of rain, so I’ll be carrying dry clothes with me.  At least the rain will finish melting the little bit of snow off the ground.

I’ve Got To Deal With It

I’ve bitched and moaned about my neck issue.  I’ve talked about riding the recumbent, but haven’t done it much.

I’m riding the recumbent to work tomorrow.  It’s set up and ready to go.  It would be more work to NOT ride it.

On Friday, I took Robin down to Za’s Pizza on the Big Dummy.  It was a blast, but she wants a cushion to sit on next time.  I rode the recumbent to her house today, and she rode it through the alley.  She’s interested in trying out a tandem recumbent now… so I’ve got to find one available for a test ride.

My eating habits have been bad.  I’m drinking too much.  My bike riding is way down due to the neck issue.  I guess the recumbent becomes my go-to bike so I can get more miles in.  I’ll ride the LHT in winter weather, as it’s better equipped.  I’ll ride the Big Dummy for hauling loads or people, as it does it well.  The ‘bent is for everything else.

I’ve driven too much this year (Robin’s car).  It all involved us going out for something, but I didn’t think the first calendar year of being car-free would involve so much driving.  I’ve driven almost as many miles as I’ve ridden a bike.  Granted, I’m low on bike miles due to my neck issue, but it’s still frustrating.

I have tentative plans to meet up with Tim after work tomorrow for a one-hour ride.  We’ll see.

For the rest of the week I need to eat healthier and ride more.

BUI

Blogging under the influence….

I just got back from Four Pegs, where I had food and too much beer.  I walked, so no drunk cycling involved.

I called a cab to get to work this morning.  My neck pain made riding a bike pretty much impossible.  A co-worker gave me a ride home.

Patrick noted in a text message to me that I’m probably going to have a weekend without much cycling.  He was referring to “Robin the Redhead”.  :)  Although it’s probably true, it’s more to do with my neck pain.

I intend to ride the recumbent tomorrow.  We’ll see how that goes.  The pain was bad enough today that even that wouldn’t have worked well.  Even driving would have been problematic.

Unless my neck settles down, 2012 will be the year of neck surgery.  I’m not looking forward to such things, but if this is the alternative, I’ll take the surgery.

It’s strange, I’ve been slightly depressed all day, yet really looking forward to when Robin gets back in town tomorrow.  That won’t fix my neck issue, but will make me feel better anyway.

A Bad Day On The Bike…

… is still better than a good day in the car.

The holidays are over.  The new year is here.  Most of us are back at work.  Even with the cold weather we’ve had this week (until this afternoon) I’ve seen quite a few bicycle commuters.  I’ve also had interactions with rude and clueless drivers.

I’ve had at least one near-miss every day this week.  It normally takes months to get that many.  I’m wearing a lime-green reflective vest, I’m well lit, and I take the lane.  What gives?

This afternoon two cars cut me off within five minutes of each other.  Both times I was downtown on one-way streets with multiple lanes.  The second time, the car braked directly in front of me because another car was stopped at a red light.  I had to brake hard to avoid running into him.  I rolled along side of his car and rapped on his window.  I didn’t expect him to roll it down, but he did.

He was a clean-cut middle-aged man with a foreign accent (Indian?).  He was actually quite apologetic.  He actually SAW ME, he had changed lanes and went around me long enough to swerve back in front of me while braking.  After our (polite) words were exchanged, I rolled in front of him and waited for the light.  I think he got the message.

I rode my LHT in it’s “winter trim” yesterday and today.  We didn’t have any snow or ice, but I knew there was the possibility yesterday.  Pondero wanted some pictures, so I took the camera to work with me and grabbed a few pictures in front of the building.

Long Haul Trucker - Winter trim

Long Haul Trucker - Winter trim

The new front wheel has a dynohub, but haven’t bought a light for it yet.  I will soon.

Shimano Alfine Dynohub

Shimano Alfine Dynohub

The new Tektro CR720 wide-profile cantilever brakes feel better and are quieter, but they don’t seem much stronger.  Maybe some adjustments can fix that.

The Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires I bought almost two years ago will keep me upright on icy roads.

Tires and Brakes

Tires and Brakes

I’ve run the shift cables along the bars, allowing me to install the BarMitts.  I’ll eventually buy some more bar tape and re-wrap the bars.

Bars and Mitts

Bars and Mitts

I haven’t ridden the recumbent this week, but I probably should.  My neck hurts, my shoulder hurts, my upper back hurts, and my right hand is tingly.

It is nice to have all the bikes functional again.  No more worries about bad weather without the appropriate bike.