Doing it all the hard way...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

It is miserable outside; isn’t that wonderful?

 The richest man in the world.
After my visit with the orthopedic surgeon a couple weeks back I was optimistic that my recovery would not require surgery.  As I mentioned when last I blabbed about my knee it seems to have ups and downs.  After an extended string of downs and seeing no improvement for a long time I came to the depressing conclusion that my path to healing probably included surgery, accordingly I scheduled a MRI.

I met with the doctor yesterday and got the results of my MRI. After close examination of both my knee and the MRI of my knee it turns out that there is more going on than we first thought.  I won't jump into all the details, but there is a combo of MCL, PCL, Meniscus and Mystery Meat that have combined to slow Davo down. He was able to confirm that I wasn't a whiner and in fact something was indeed weird. No one thing is bad enough to warrant surgery but the combo will heal slower than we thought.  My goal is to be in shape in time for the road racing season and that looks to be intact.

Like a grey haired manager patting the outgoing pitcher on the butt, the doctor told me to buckle up, fake some patience and ride out my slow recovery.  I'll see him again in the new year, but for now I get to ride, I just shouldn't race (either with a number or in a throw down).

My rides of late aren’t fast or hard but I am not complaining.
 The Brotherhood of the Brown
Just as George Bailey kissed the loose newel cap (awesome word, look it up) that he had cursed only hours before, so too does Evo savor the cold gloriously miserable miles that he might have condemned had circumstances not been altered on a cold October night Thrilla.
We went far enough that even KB was eating

My knee has been healing slower than I expected and my return to riding is correspondingly gradual.  The path I am on is that as I am able to do more I increase my riding whilst still doing less than my maximum to avoid slowing the healing process. If you had trouble following that sentence fragment just imagine me chasing an imaginary line with the goal of getting as close as I can without touching it. I touched it a couple weeks ago and I felt like my knee had been slammed with a sledge hammer.  Aleve can only do so much.

My knee still feels weird and weak, and I am glad I now know why, but it does seem the improvement is painfully slow (deliberate word selection).  The most dangerous thing I do is strain it in my sleep by laying on my right (and historically favorite) side. I can walk straight and essentially forget about it.  Then I turn or lean wrong and I am reminded in no uncertain terms something isn’t right.  I can almost straighten it all the way, but my range of motion the other way has some real limitations (Meniscus and mystery meat).
Matthew is sooo into Miley Cyrus he can't stop watching her videos on his smart phone

Because we do not see things as they really are, but as we think they really are, I keep trying to put my injury and recovery in the context of my past experiences.  My recoveries from arthroscopic knee surgeries have been pretty straight forward. Once the swelling and other trauma of a (minimally) invasive surgery have subsided, I was pretty much on my way.  Based on my experience that transition was markedly sharp and this gradual healing is wearing on my patience. 

Because the healing is so slow, it catches me by surprise. Instead of looking for improvement I just assume it to be unchanged day to day and then when something does NOT hurt my reaction is along the lines of “Hmm, that didn’t hurt.  I must be healing”. 
Every cyclist with a bladder knows where I took this photo

Delving into why we value something more following the threat of losing it may be the subject of another post, but for now let’s just say that I am really enjoying being able to ride.

Monday, November 25, 2013

How stupid are we ?

Baby's got back
George Carlin mocked us for eating Jumbo shrimp and for using a hot water heater instead of a cold water heater and we all laughed.  I smirked earlier this month when my TV asked me to honor those who served this past Veteran's Day buy buying new tires.  I had to laugh out loud when the computer was promoting "Plus size Skinny jeans!"

There is nothing like Irony to bring out the dumbest in all of us.

I know we're all far to wrapped up in body image.  I'll jump in and agree that is way unhealthy.  Maybe it is the curse of old age, but I would like to THINK it is okay not to dress like anorexic models.  As a devout capitalist, I do believe that if people have money they want to spend, we should strive to take it from them. Even so, plus size skinny jeans ?  Really ?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Update: The Kneed for speed

Jens is so tough color photos of him come out in black and white.

I visited the ortho specialist this week.  Those moments of solitude sitting in an exam room waiting for the doctor are a fertile ground for self doubt. The silence, the memories of past injuries; the magazines with obnoxiously happy people on the covers all conspire to depress me.  Soon I will get to explain how riding exceptionally fast at night, with headlamps, on loose gravel trails covered with wet leaves whilst wearing spandex wasn’t stupid. To be honest, I’ve done crazy things to win bets that were more logical than that ride.  

The medical charts on the wall, the plastic knee joint sitting on the counter as a visual aid; I’d seen them all before.  I should know better.  I do know better. Yet here I am. 

In a few minutes the Doctor arrived and poked, prodded, pushed, pulled, twisted and bent my leg. Before long his experienced touch had yielded the “money spot” on the inside of my left knee.

At this point my appointment resembled an eye exam.
“Does it hurt here?” he asked.
“Oh yeah”
“But not here?”
“Not so much”
“Right here?” He queried.
“Yes, yes.” I confirmed.
“Not here?”
“Nope.” It was getting repetitious.
“This is the spot?” He asked one final time pushing hard with his index finger.
I am not sure if my butt actually lifted off the exam table, but I do believe I did jump.
“Shit…..Yeah!” I answered, my voice cracking. 

He confirmed the initial diagnosis of an injured MCL which was not a surprise.  What I came for was to discover what the next steps would be.  I had my calendar ready to schedule the MRI.

He then said I should continue my current treatment of not doing much, icing and anti-inflammatory medication. He told me MCL injuries heal slowly, usually four to eight weeks. He continued and instructed me that in two to three more weeks if I’m not seeing improvement, then schedule a MRI and amp up the dread.  Okay the dread part was my poetic license, which by the way, I need to renew that license before the end of the year… thanks for the reminder. 

Once he floated the no surgery option my mind set off on its own mission of perpetual motion. I really have no idea what else he said.  I would like to think I heard everything else, but in reality I would fail if you tested me.  In my daydreaming state I didn’t ask the questions I should have, such as what would surgery entail and what would the recovery be, or how about a PRP injection to help me along ? 

I left his office with a spring in my step and had a pretty good night. 

The next morning I woke up and the knee was hurting more than it had been in a week which kept the worry fires burning.   I started doing the math and making guesses about recovery time that had no basis in fact whatsoever.  

Just to keep the pendulum swinging, the day after that, my knee felt pretty good.

In the end, “wait and see” is far better news than, “you’re screwed,” but it lacked the finality I was seeking.  My profession is connecting the dots and mapping the path from today to success.  As such, I hate unknowns.  Right now, the future of my knee is unknown.   When the path is uncertain, I get a little antsy.  In my work I like to say bad news is far better than no news. While I didn’t get a final answer, and I didn't get bad news, what I did get is better than no news.

For now, I'll take it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Coffee and Lies #44 Entropy

As my loyal followers know, I am currently on injured reserve.  While it is one thing not to ride, it is quite another to not be able to ride.  When on vacation or travel if I can’t ride I can always console myself that when I get back I will go at it with gusto and make up for lost time.  When you can’t ride you feel like you are a passenger in a car, not in control, helplessly watching at your fitness erodes.

My cyclical cycling training train isn’t totally off the tracks. Impressive wordplay eh? I had planned a post-Cyclocross rest period, but my season wasn’t supposed to be over just yet.  McWoodie suggested I treat my physical therapy (that will be coming one way or another) as off season strength training. There is some validity to this idea as I am skilled at both denial and make-believe. 

Physical therapy (PT) is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the medical world.  We visualize a patient reclined on a padded table getting a localized massage.  In fact you are sweating and grimacing as you work sore joints.  This weight workout from hell is typically punctuated by the therapist flexing your body beyond where you think it is supposed to go.  It is essentially torture preceded by a prescription from a doctor.

While I don’t know if surgery is in my future or not, I am pretty darn sure there will be PT and PT equals pain.  I have the best PT guy in the world.  He is a great guy as well and I am already dreading seeing him.  If only the principle of commutation worked for PT.

I am still a week away from my appointment with the knee specialist.  Then add a week to get a MRI, another week for follow up when my screwedness is confirmed by reviewing the MRI followed by a week or two to schedule the surgery (I’m planning on the worst).  I figure I’m a month away from being on the path back. 

In the meantime I feel like my body is already going down the crapper.  As I lose muscle I also gain fat so while my weight hasn’t made any dramatic changes yet, bad things are happening already.  I estimate I burn 20 calories per kilometer and I have been averaging 200k per week which means I burn 4,000 calories per week riding.  Figure another thousand calories burned recovering from those efforts and that means I’m burning 5,000 less calories per week than I normally do.  
My future awaits..
I’m already pinching fat and feeling disgusted with myself.  Everything that goes in my mouth is accompanied by the bitter taste of guilt. This is the week after Halloween and there are dishes with leftover candy everywhere I turn at home and work.  Lucky for me I’m not a big candy fan, but those little mini bars shouldn’t be called “fun size” they should be called, “easy to justify size.”
Check out Alexander's mouth
The copy of a copy
The original
I have not lost sight of the fact I have people who love me and my income isn’t dependent on the speed at which I can ride my bike. While I could debate the fine points of carbon, exotic metals and grams, I was most intrigued by seven and three quarter pounds of grandchild this past weekend.  To be honest, I forgot about my knee.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Wink if you want to tell me "Everthing is cool."

Remembering the wonder you felt when you held your tiny baby is only superseded by watching your tiny baby hold his tiny baby.