Thursday, August 27, 2015

Post-Surgery Update, and Potential Plans for More Surgery

It's been 9 days since I had surgery on my broken left arm, and things seem to be progressing as expected. The surgery to insert a metal plate and screws (not sure how many) went well (only took an hour), and I'm back in a hard splint, held up by a sling. I have full use of my fingers, which is a good sign, although there's a very small, persistently numb spot on my index finger. Even if it's permanent, it's not a big deal.

I took the day after surgery very easy. I took pain meds every few hours. I've since resumed full-time work and am only taking pain meds when needed, which is right before bed and occasionally one during the day, if I've been a little too eager to use my left hand (like today, for example).

My first return visit to the doc who cut me will be on Monday, Aug. 31st. He'll most likely remove the splint to take a look at how the incision is healing. Hopefully, he'll put me in a shorter splint so I can bend my elbow. We'll see. He won't be putting me in a traditional hard cast, though, which is nice.

The itching under the splint has been more annoying than the pain, but even that seems to be subsiding. My other cuts and scrapes are healing nicely and have formed some of the biggest, thickest scabs ever seen in the free world. The looks and reprimands I've been subjected to for picking at those scabs is terribly unfair. I's so satisfying!

I still need help doing many things, although I've taught myself some tricks and shortcuts, and have become more dexterous with my right hand. I can button and zip my pants all by myself, like a big boy, but I still need help making my meals and washing myself. I hope my wife doesn't get suspicious when I still ask her to bathe me a year from now. "But honey, the doctor says that this is the last skill to be redeveloped after such a violent break. It could be five, ten years before I can bathe myself...and even then, it's dangerous."

Yeah, I doubt it, too. A guy can dream, though...

As for my activity level, I can do a few exercises, some 1-arm dumbbell work, and walking, as long as I don't get too sweaty under my splint. Going from 150+ miles of cycling per week to zero has confused my body, both from an exercise perspective and a dietary one. I still want to eat as much as I was pre-accident, but I'm trying to keep the intake in check. It took too long to drop last year's excess weight. Don't want to go through that again.

Now, the even more interesting news. Since my insanely high insurance deductible of [insert Luxembourg's GDP here] has finally been met, I now have full coverage. Imaging is included, so it might be time to get my left knee checked out. I at least want an MRI to determine what's going on in there. Then, if there's a chance it could be fixed, perhaps surgery would be worth it. If so, here's what the next few months potentially looks like for me:

AUG - arm surgery
SEPT - root canal (9/3)
OCT-DEC - knee surgery?
JAN 2016 - beg wife not to leave me

It would be a royal pain to go through all that in just a few months' time, but if I can get an MRI and knee surgery for essentially no cost out-of-pocket, it would be a shame not to do it — especially if it would allow me to run again. I'm not getting my hopes too high just yet, but who knows?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Flair For The Dramatic

As I sit here typing slowly with only my right hand, I'm trying to figure out how to explain how I'm feeling about all the miles I've put on my bike this year, all the recent hill climbing, the weight loss, the noticeably improved fitness...and the fact that I won't be able to ride the 108 mile Coeur d'Fondo next month.

Yes, my friends, I've once again had a bike accident. This one, however, was a doozy. It was violent, and it broke my left arm.

It was going to be a relatively short, flat and easy ride with my riding buddy Tom. 40 miles total, out and back on the Centennial Trail. All was going well. We were two miles from the end of the ride when we had to move left to pass a runner. I was on the far left and didn't see a big bump, hidden in a shadow. We were riding at a good clip when I hit the bump and went flying with my bike. It happened very fast, so I couldn't tell you exactly how I landed. All I know is that my body skid several feet before stopping. I laid there moaning, and Tom told me not to move. Blood was gushing from the back of my right arm, and my left arm was bent in a very unnatural way. The shock and adrenaline masked the pain at first, but once I stood up, I started feeling it. I had to hold my left forearm in place with my right hand, otherwise it would twist and flop completely over (sorry) and hurt. Badly. Tom walked me to a shady spot in a nearby parking lot while he rode off to get his car to drive me to the ER. My wife, who Tom called for me, was already at the ER when we arrived.

After too long a wait, I was taken back for X-rays. They X-rayed my left arm, right elbow and left knee, all of which took the brunt of the impact. My left radius was cleanly snapped in half and nearly sticking through the skin. Any movement of my left arm was agonizing, and I nearly shed a manly tear or two as the X-ray tech positioned my arm for several images.

Back to the waiting room for a L-O-N-G time again, then finally back in to get the bone re-set and splinted.

I was given a tetanus shot, Propofol (the drug that killed Michael Jackson) to put me under, along with Demerol for the pain. For some reason (adrenaline? fear of ending up like Jacko?) I never drifted off. One of the docs said he had never seen that before.

The procedure involved hanging my left arm by my fingers (using metal traps that look like those old Chinese finger traps) and having the arm bent at 90 degrees. Then, they hung a sling from my upper arm with weights in it to pull the bones apart. Even with the drugs, that was loads of fun, kids. After several minutes of manipulation, they still weren't able to get the bone to stay in place, so they did the best they could, splinted it, and said I would likely need surgery.

After the splint hardened, I was wheeled back for a CAT scan, which confirmed that I also had a fractured bone in my wrist (probably from an earlier crash this year). Since it doesn't seem to be an issue, it'll be left alone, although they said it could be removed entirely if it still caused pain.

Finally, six and a half hours into my happy hospital visit, I was allowed to go home (stopping by the pharmacy on the way to get my pain meds).

I met with the orthopedist yesterday and will have surgery this coming Tuesday to get a plate and pins put in to keep the bone in place. They will be permanent. If my insurance will cover it, I'd like to opt for bionic parts, maybe with a lazer gun option.

The important question, you're probably asking, is, "how's the bike?" Well, it's pretty banged up and will need some repairs. I'll let the bike shop assess the damage once I'm able to take it in.

In all seriousness, that invisible bump may end up making our savings account invisible, even WITH my insurance.

Sleeping with a splint and sling has been difficult, but the Percocet has helped a little. And, fortunately, I'm married to a patient woman. She'll have to be, not only because I need help doing many things, but also because I'll be getting very restless and grumpy not being able to ride, run or work out for several weeks.

So, with that said, here are some pictures. Don't scroll down if you're queasy about this sort of thing...

Are we having fun yet? Just before drugs & reduction time.

Side view of left forearm

Top view of left forearm

Right arm, after clean-up. Somehow got a hole nearly down to the bone.

Nice road rashes on right knee.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Week in Review

I've fallen into the pattern of updating my previous week's activities, so I might as well continue that trend.

Here are my cycling numbers:

Rides: 3   (YTD: 47)
Miles: 149.1   (YTD: 1729)
Time: 9:16:30   (YTD: 99.9 hrs)
Elevation: 4692'   (29,106')

Runs: 1  (YTD: 20)
Miles: 2.6   (YTD: 73.9)
Time: 24:37   (YTD: 10.9 hrs)

I also walked 20 miles last week (YTD: 385.4 mi)

I had a very challenging ride last Thursday. The distance (54.9 mi.) wasn't what made it tough, it was the climbing and the wind. There were two significant climbs on this ride, the latter being the toughest climb I've ever done. I rode up Quinimose Rd, then took the turn onto Broken Lance Dr. Both of those roads are steep, mostly out-of-the-saddle climbs. I've also been riding from my house when I ride solo, which means I always finish with a decent climb, since we live on a hill. My goal for August is to climb 20,000'. I honestly don't think I'll achieve that number, but I will climb more than last month, without a doubt. I'm trying to get the climbs in before the Coeur d'Fondo 108 mile ride next month, since that's a very hilly course.

One other quick note, regarding climbing, is that I finally climbed up to the Arbor Crest Winery. It's not long (.8 mi), but it's very steep. It felt good to finally get that climb under my belt.

Speaking of hills, I need to get ready for another hilly ride this morning, so with that, I'll post a few pics from last week's rides:

Turkey family, Riverview Drive

From the top of Broken Lance Dr.

Off of Henry Road, Saltese Flats area.

Arbor Crest!

On the way down from Arbor Crest.

View from road up to Arbor Crest.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

PRs in July!

Another month has flown by. Somebody slow this train down! It'll be winter before we know it. Ugh...

Anyhoo, July was a good month for my bike and me. I managed to set PRs in:

Monthly mileage: 591
Total rides: 12
Miles per ride: 49.3
Longest ride: 83.7 mi.
Elevation gain: 11,927'
Most miles/week: 169

The only thing that slacked off a bit was my average pace. I attribute that to more climbing and longer rides.

I only lost 2 lbs. in July, but I was fairly close to my goal weight when the month started. I could probably stand to lose another 5 lbs, but no more than that. I don't have the need or desire to be at my marathon weight. I was too light (and weak) back then (2010).

Yesterday, my long ride (83.7 miles) was cut short due to heat exhaustion. I was only a few miles from home, but had a pretty good climb ahead of me to finish. I was toast, so I called my wife to come rescue me. It was still a PR by 21 miles (and in 95+ degree heat), so I'm not disappointed.

August looks to be another great month on the bike, with more PRs on the way. It's been very hot lately, so I'm looking forward to some cooler days.

Keep moving forward, my friends!