Sunday, January 30, 2011

Where are we now?

OK, so things didn't go quite as planned this past week.  After having the screw removed on Tuesday, I walked out of the hospital with a little support from Charlotte and a handrail.  It wasn't bad as I was still on local anesthestia.  By the time I got home, however, it was rather painful to get into the house.  Charlotte picked up some tylenol for me and I had a prescription for vicoden just in case.  It didn't take long to realize I was going to need the vicoden and the Goat took me to the drugstore to get my prescription filled (sounds like a Who song).

I started walking with a cane, but the pain was pretty intense.  I could barely touch my foot to the floor without the most intense pain.  I stayed home and tried to work remotely.  At this point, I figured this was all part of the recovery process.  The doctor and I were communicating daily, and we suspected the pain was due to the fracture finally being loaded after the screw was removed.  Wow, it hurt!

On Thursday though, I started having pretty intense knee pain on the outside of my left knee.  It felt like I had strained something, but this pain was worse than the femur pain.  I was still taking the the painkillers and wondered what was going on.  I realized my left foot and leg were pointing in a different direction.  I wasn't sure if I was imagining it, but it started freaking me out a bit.   The doc said it was doubtful that it moved, but possible.

By Friday night, I could barely walk and every step was incredibly painful.  Granted, I was off the pain meds at this point, but I was not expecting this much pain.  On Saturday morning, I sent an email to the doc asking for help.  He told me to be in his office Monday morning for an x-ray.

Since then, I've tried to consider all the options and keep a positive attitude.  I've gone back to using the crutches and am not putting any weight on the leg.  My hip has now taken over from the knee as the number one pain riser with the fracture zone quickly following.  I am trying to prevent any further opportunity for regression until we know the situation. 

Tonight, the Goat came over and we plotted our day tomorrow.  He's picking me up at 5:30AM and we head for the Big Apple.  We had a good heart to heart talk and shared some of our feelings about this experience together.  We are in it together and will both be better off from this experience.  I appreciate all the support he has given me since the accident, and I know we'll take this next hill in stride.  I appreciate all the support each and everyone of you has given me over the past 4 months and know you will be there if needed on the road ahead.  I also look forward to sharing more fun experience with all of you as my body rejuvenates itself. 

Goat says I should write a book about the experience.  I think it could be a good read.  First things first of course.  Let's get the recovery back on track and then figure it out. 

I will run again.  It's just a matter of time. 


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Marching Forward

This experience has been enlightening in terms of the medical profession.  I won't be too critical here because many of you know the Doctors that I am consulting.  Nevertheless, it has been a journey.  It seems to me that the patient needs to do a lot of work to get the right course of treatment. I've consulted 3 different doctors since my injury in addition to the original surgeon back in Poughkeepsie.  It's been a bit frustrating because there are so many different approaches to tackling these things. 

Without getting into all the details, let's just say I am full weight bearing at this point even though my fracture is not healed.  The latest Doc I have consulted believes I should have been weighting the leg much sooner and more significantly.  Basically, I should have been weight bearing after 6 weeks and my bone should be healed by now.  The weighting helps heal the leg, so not sure why previous Docs advised otherwise.  It's like telling a patient not to put a band-aid on a cut until after it stops bleeding.

The good news is that this latest Doctor insists that the 10 degree angle is nothing to worry about and that the main issue is getting the bone to heal.  He does not want to wait any longer to take action and believes we should take out the bottom screw ASAP to promote healing.  I'm tentatively scheduled to get this done on 1-25, but need to get blood work, EKG, and check with my insurance company to see if this is an "in network" physician/facility. More fun!

The good news is that I have started walking without the crutches.  I went down to 1 crutch for a couple hours, and then picked up a cane to make life easier.  Walking with the cane is great and my stride looks pretty good (all things considered).  I can hobble for short distances without the cane, but like to have it out in public.  It's a nice security blanket for the ice/snow.  It helps when someone is coming at you with a high speed shopping cart too!  Getting rid of the crutches provides another degree of freedom as I can now carry some things, like a cup of tea, much easier.  I have a free hand with the cane.

The knee has been very painful with the additional weight, but it seems to be improving a little.  Sometimes I get pain in the area of the break when loading it, but it is intermittent.  I'm not sure if this implies good healing or is a concern.  My plan has been to shuffle around the house and walk with the cane when venturing out.  So far, it's been OK, but I worry that I am loading the leg a little too much at times.

Yesterday, I tried the elliptical machine after riding the bke for an hour.  It felt reasonable, but my ankle got sore after 5 minutes.  I tried the elliptical first today and managed to stay on for 20 minutes without much trouble.  I jumped over and hit the bike for 40 minutes to make it an even hour, and then did abs and some weights.  Stretching finished off the session.  It seems like my range of motion gets a little better each day. 

I'm cautiously optimistic.  We have to get the bone to heal pronto, and then everything else follows.  I could potentially be running by summer, but the bone has to cooperate first.  If my efforts from the past 2 days have anything to do with it, the bones won't have a choice.  In addition to all the physical activity, I have also started taking calcium and fish oil supplements to promote healing as well as a multi-vitamin.

Seeing the progress over the past 2 days has made me very happy, but I'm trying to stay realistic relative to the whole picture.  I still have a lot of questions that need to be answered before I can be confident that we are out of the woods.  As I said, I am cautiously optimistic!

Things are improving daily.....they don't have a choice.  Seems like the whole community is pulling me to run again.  It's fantastic to feel people pulling me in this journey.  There are definitely times when I need it. 

Thank you for all the support over the past 3.5 months.  It is much appreciated and has gotten me through a lot.  Life is good! 



Sunday, January 9, 2011

Verdict Day

Tomorrow is a huge day for me.  I will see 2 doctors and find out if my femur is healing according to plan and whether my knee will require surgery.  If the femur is healing well, I should be off the crutches soon.  However, I may be back on them in short order if the knee requires significant repair.

It's been a journey and then some over these past 3 months and 1 week (not than I'm counting or anything).    My attitude has improved as I get closer to being able to walk without crutches.  It's been so wonderful to be able to spin on the bike and walk with some weight on the leg.  One doctor told me I could be at 100% weight bearing by now and the other said 50%.  I've split the difference.  I test the limits at times, but generally have been conservative.  Over the past 4 weeks, I have been spinning on the stationary bike about 5 days per week.  Yesterday, I had my best effort at 18.75 miles in one hour.  It felt good to crank and get the heart rate up.

Today, I went easier and concentrated on core and upper body work.  I think this is the strongest my core has been since high school.  It feels good.  The kicker was when I went to the supermarket and pushed a shopping cart by myself with no crutches.  I usually just carry a small bag for a couple items when I am alone.  It is a real drag and very inefficient.  Today was an adventure, but great fun experimenting with the cart.  I beamed with pride as I pushed it around the place.  I purchased a full load and then realized I needed to get it all in the house with my crutches.  Oops!  Another adventure!  It took awhile, but I did it.

It's been tough these past 3 months, but the small daily improvements keep me motivated.  I'd like to start hitting the pool again once I get rid of the crutches (it's just too scary around wet stuff).  It feels good to get bits of my independence back.  When I accomplish something for the first time, I look around with a big smile like a little kid.  It feels good!

My prediction for tomorrow is good news on the bone healing.  With all the work I have done over the past 4 weeks and increased protein intake, it has to be progressing.  The best news will be when I can go full weight bearing and get rid of these crutches!  The verdict on the knee will be interesting - I honestly have no idea what the Doc will tell me.  Sometimes I think it will be fine, and at other times I think the opposite.

"Everything happens for a reason", I have often heard this statement and I believe it is true.  Some things are too uncanny to figure otherwise.  While I have missed my independence over the last few months, I have experienced things that I probably would never have taken the time to enjoy.  My relationship with Charlotte has grown deeper as a result of the fall as she has been there with me every step of the way.  I'm grateful to the Goat, EuroMan, and many other friends who have leant a helping hand during my time of need.   My girls have transitioned to new phases of their lives during this period, and it's been great to be there to watch them.  I feel that I have a different perspective on life and no longer sweat the little stuff.   Isn't it all little stuff?

Life is good!  I know 2011 will be another great adventure.  I hope you all have great plans for the year ahead.  As for me, I will walk before I run, but running isn't too far away.  Hope to see you out on the trails soon!  After all, we need to mark the course for Traprock 2011!