Posts Tagged 'surgery'

It’s Been How Long?

Since I know you’ve all been clamoring for an update – here’s a quick one. My lazy tail hasn’t touched the saddle since Solvang. The threat of horrid bike squeak paired with a few ugly mornings and a newly remembered love for sleeping later than 6am have kept me off the bike for well over two months now. Mind you, its not like I haven’t tried. I wheedled and cajoled Charles to drop my bike by the shop, to no avail. I signed up for Strawberry Fields as motivation, only to sell my registration the week of the ride. Bike still wasn’t fixed, and Charles had surgery the day before. Eep! (He’s fine by the way.) Wedding planning is time consuming and sucks, and dealing with the oft-postponed move fallout is worse. There are STILL boxes all over my house!

The excuses end soon though. Velotech repaired the bike and I picked it up last week. Theoretically she no longer squeaks (haven’t tested it), so at least that issue is off the table. Charles is mobile again, and I think I’ve resigned myself to living out of boxes until my next move. Or forever. Whatever. In any case, the first ride back is imminent…I just need to pick a date and recruit a buddy — Mike Z! I’m lookin at you! So, expect a real live ride update soon (although not immediate as I can only ride on weekends and I have weddings to attend the next two Saturdays running). There’ll be aching, whining, and possibly even some hot Garmin action. In the meantime, put some miles on in my honor or something! The weather has been too nice not to. I promise to be jealous!

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Old La Honda(less) Odyssey

Old La Honda is the hill in the Bay Area. Its not that long (3.35 miles), or that steep (15% grade at points, 7.8% avg), but it is the hill that every cyclist in a 30 mile radius knows their best time up. People climb this hill repeatedly, trying to improve their time for boasting rights amongst their geeky cyclist friends. Some do it weekly! Some probably more frequently than that. Certain cycle teams place you in ride groups based solely on your best time up this hill. Its a bay-area-cyclist-cultural-monumental-climb-thing. A rite of passage if you will. And I’ve never been up it. (feel free to recoil from the screen in horror)

That’s right, after nearly a year of riding on a bike out here, I am required to claim the title “cyclist” only in quotes in front of my bikenerd friends, as I have no Old La Honda personal best time. Lucky for me, the TNT winter training Ride 8 was going to change all that. An odd combination of surgery recovery timing and a nasty bout of California winter rains moved the 70 mile Old La Honda Odyssey to February 2nd; just three short days after I was cleared by the orthopedics people to ride again. Coaches note was to show up at Foothill college at 7am that Saturday morning rain or shine. Too many rides had already been cancelled for the season, and we’d at the very least sacrifice some sleep on the off chance that the weather would cooperate. So, show up we did.

While the sky was overcast, it wasn’t pouring down rain, so the team rolled out as planned. Knowing that my arm would be weak after surgery (especially in the cold weather), I tried to break the ride mentally into small goals. The first few miles are almost always cake, so I set goal one at 30 miles. Goal two would be the first climb of the day up Altamont. Then rest stop three…etc. The first goal was easy. Goal two, however, a bit more challenging. Now, compared to a lot of climbs we do in the area, Altamont is short. I’ll give it that. What no one tells you about Altamont though (at least not anyone who to convince you that you can ride up it) is that Altamont is steep. Like 18% steep in parts. Like you could walk faster up this hill than I will be able to ride it steep.

It doesn’t start out that bad. In fact, looking at the hill, you think to yourself…”this isn’t going to be that bad! I can see the top!” And then you hit the beginning of the actual incline… and then you hit the first curve… and then (if you’re me) a truck magically appears 6 inches off your rear wheel and scares the bejesus out of you. So you stop breathing, realize you can’t possibly turn that crank over without gasping like a fish for breath (and possibly popping your guts out through your spine in the process) …and you frantically pull into a driveway madly trying to unclip before falling over, since you were going a whopping 4 miles an hour to begin with. At this point you’re (I’m) approximately a quarter of the way up the hill. Freakin awesome.

Two stops and one almost stomach-emptying-heave later, I’m at the top. Go me. On the bright side, whatever fear I had of Old La Honda had pretty much entirely faded in the face of the horrid, steep, gut-wrenching, Hill-o-Doom that was Altamont. I’m basically spent at this point and have to re-GU before rolling on towards rest stop two. Now it is at the second rest stop where I seriously consider sagging out. The cold damp weather had progressed from overcast to drizzling, and my arm was aching like mad. I wasn’t really able to support any weight on the gimp-arm and wasn’t sure I could take another 30 miles with all of me leaning on the right side. Tired and wet as I was, the allure of finally passing into Bay Area Cycling Adulthood was great, and I decided to push on again. Rest stop three was just passed the Old la Honda climb…I could always SAG out there (new mental cycling badge acquired), right?

Well, it was a good theory. Unfortunately, for once, the weatherman was dead on in his rain prediction. Overcast in the morning and full on rain by noon played out almost to the minute. Our team rolled up to Portola Road, looked at the thick grey fog encasing the top of our mountain destination through rain spattered glasses and decided that even if we could reach the summit the descent would be too treacherous to risk. We were all pretty bummed to have to skip the hill (me especially as one of the only people in the state never to have done the climb), but even I can’t deny that “safety first” is a pretty darn good rule.

By rest stop three, I was toast. I may have missed the second big climb for the day, but I was rained on, missing guts, and barely over surgery. The last 12 miles of the ride were going to be cut short anyway (taking the shortcut back because of the weather), so I opted to take the SAG route home. I’d more than surpassed my original 30 mile goal and my Altamont goal. Giving up on Old la Honda glory had been difficult and even a little heartbreaking. Letting go of the “I rode the last 10 miles in the pouring rain on a bum arm” glory was easy in comparison. The good (by weird cycle standards) new is, I live close enough to the benchmarking hill to give it another run anytime. I’ll get those bragging rights yet! At least amongst really slow, easily impressed people…

Motion Based ride data

Still Scarred, Albeit Smaller

As I mentioned before, the goals of my most recent surgery were twofold. The primary reason is obvious – get the evil, painful wires out. As a secondary benefit, the surgeon was going to try and make the massive ugly scar on my arm look a bit better. Apparently it is hard to get a clean scar on a road-rash covered elbow, so the marks on my arm after surgery one were pretty gnarly, at best. Plus, its hard to regrow skin on an elbow, since the cut goes right over the bend in your arm. Lots of stretching equals larger scarring. Yay fun! Since the skin was pretty well healed up this time around, the doc figured he could make the arm look at least a little better (mind you I would have gone in either way…those dang wires needed to come out!).

The surgery itself was pretty uneventful. Started relatively close to on time, got out the same day. Took pain meds for a few days, but overall this second round was much easier than the first. Not having a busted collarbone probably helped with that. They sent me home in an ace wrap and a sling (hooray for no plaster!), with strict orders to change the dressing in exactly four days. Good thing I’m an old pro at one-armed bandaging, right?

Two weeks after surgery, I was scheduled back into Kaiser to have my stitches taken out. Except when I get there I’m told that I have internal stitches and there’s nothing to remove. Sweet. Glad I had to give up an afternoon and receive several threatening (reminder) phone calls for that. (Seriously, I think the Kaiser appointment reminder people are mob-trained or something. They scare me!) On the bright side, my wound “looks great” and I was cleared to resume all activities without restriction …washing and lotioning included. Woohoo! All in all, a successful second surgery.

Sorry for the Silence!

Quick update to let my loyal readers know that I do have blog posts incoming! Between preparing for and then recovering from arm surgery and starting a new job this week, my posts have been severely lacking. Many apologies!! I do have two rides to blog, as well as some odd surgery observations to note. Plus, this Saturday I get back to my team rides, so frequency will pick up soon (weather permitting, of course)! Woohoo! Updates coming soon, I swear.

A Second Surgery

In case you haven’t heard, I’ll be headed back in for surgery on my elbow next Tuesday. The wires that they wrapped around my elbow have been driving me pretty much nuts; I can’t set my elbow on anything harder than a couch pillow without wincing in pain. So I called my surgeon up and asked him to take them out. He agreed. The good news is that my arm will be a lot less sensitive, and they may be able to remove some of the scar tissue from surgery one. Bad news is that I’m off the bike for about two weeks while the skin heals back up (faster recovery time than before at least!).

On top of that, I had to get a pre-op workup done this weekend, as the hospital anticipates “extremely high turnover” Tuesday so they won’t have time the day of. Not a huge deal, except I had to miss this morning’s ride to go verify that I’m not pregnant, hypertensive, anemic or any other random condition that might prevent surgery. You’d think I would have found this out before yesterday, but with only 5 days between my request and the surgery…apparently you have to adapt to last minute appointments. After a couple weeks off the bike due to the holidays (excepting spin class week), I’m hoping that I can manage not to fall too behind my teammates in training. Le sigh. Think I’m going to go out and hit the LGCT now to get a few miles in while I can!


What do we have here?

An often sarcastic, occasionally humorous journal of my training adventures in preparation for the Livestrong century ride. I took up cycling back in '07 in hopes of meeting new people, and, with the help of Team in Training, making my small positive difference in the world -- and haven't stopped spinning since. Follow along as my Trek road bike and I try and hash out our differences, hopefully with me upright and in the saddle.

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