Friday, February 29, 2008

Let slip the dogs of war

I went to Maplewood Bicycle yesterday to deliver Girl Scout cookies and let them know I was doing okay. I took in the front wheel to show them how strong it was (or how weak the fork was). As you can see below, the carbon fiber fork just snapped off. Stewart had sold me that wheel as something that would stand up the the commuting and rando riding that I do. I guess he was right.

Stewart recommended a lawyer if I needed one. I had talked to Brown and Crouppen but I didn't have a good feeling from them. The seemed like they were pressuring me to sign before even understanding my case. I called the lawyer and he referred me to his wife since he practices in Illinois. I met with her today and was impressed by how she described how she would handle my case. She let me know what the good points and the bad points are about my case. I signed with her and she is starting to work on the case. She let me know that this is a slow process and that I won't see any signs of activity for a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

You win some, you lose some

I received my issue of American Randonneur in the mail yesterday. Included with it were the 2007 results. It was nice to see my name in the list of 2007 Super Randonneurs. Randonneurs USA definition of this is:

A special medal awarded to those randonneurs who successfully complete a challenging series of brevets (200, 300, 400, and 600-kilometers) in a year. A hard-earned honor unto itself and worthy of being any randonneur's goal for the cycling season, the Super Randonneur series of brevets is usually needed to enter a 1200-kilometer event.

Helen mentioned that I would not be earning that award this year. I told her, "Of course not, one of the brevets is on Rachel's birthday." Actually, I'm just hoping to be cleared to ride a bike by April 12 (the date of the first brevet). I don't plan on doing any century-plus rides for a while after that.

I guess I'll have to buy a new bike eventually. I've still got the hybrid, but I've gotten used to riding a road bike. I'm sure that Mary Kay at Maplewood Bicycle will be willing to sell me another one. Should I get another Trek Pilot? Before I bought the Pilot, I was considering a touring bike like the Trek 520. Things like my 4 day, 520 mile MS-150 ride seem like they would be better for the 520. I certainly have plenty of time to think about it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Suspended with pay

My hip doctor called back. He wants to see me again before clearing me for work. Darn those doctors and their ethics! The earliest I could move my appointment was March 13. This means an additional 2 weeks off of paid time off. The odd thing is that I am annoyed by this.

More good news

Last week I had an appointment with my hand doctor. They took out my stitches and put my hand in a much smaller, removable splint. I can now actually use my right hand. Okay, it's not 100% yet. They gave me a list of exercises to do so that I can get my full range of motion back.

Then today, I saw my spine doctor. He said that I didn't need to see him again and that I didn't need to wear the brace anymore. That was great news. The brace really didn't limit my activities very much, but it was a pain to put on and take off, and it was uncomfortable in certain situations.

I called my hip doctor to see if I can get clearance to go back to work next week. I left a message and I am waiting on a call back. Work wants me to have a note before I come back.

Speaking of work, I am so glad to work where I do right now. Not only do I have good health insurance which is paying the undoubtedly enormous medical bills, but I have enough sick time that I don't have to worry about rushing back. If it was medically necessary, I could take a few months more off and still not miss a paycheck.

My stint in rehab

As soon as I got to rehab, I was determined to escape. And not just because St. Mary's didn't have cable TV. I wanted to do everything I could to prove that I would be able to take of myself. I would have to do this in order to be able to go home.

When I first got there, I couldn't get out of bed on my own. I had to have someone lift my left leg and lower off the bed. After a few days I was able to do this by myself. I had physical therapy and occupational therapy each day, a total of three hours worth.

They had me practice using a walker. The walker has a platform to rest my right forearm since I am not allowed to put any weight on my right hand. Using the walker was easy because my right leg is more than strong enough to lift my body on its on.

I also learned how to use a sock aid to put on socks without bending over. They also gave me a reacher (to grab things with), and a long handled bath sponge. I learned to use crutches for going up and down stairs.

I celebrated my birthday while I was in rehab. Helen and the kids brought me cup cakes. Helen also brought me a book. This was good because I was starting to feel well enough to get bored.

By the next week I was able to get out of bed in the morning, give myself a sponge bath, and get dressed without any help. Many of the nurses commented that I was a very easy patient. I told them that I was going to be nice for a week, but if that didn't work I was going to be mean so that they would be anxious to get rid of me. Fortunately for them, I got to leave after 8 days--on Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The days after

Eventually, I got a list of my injuries:
I did not get all the details at once because all they wanted to talk about was the hip. Hip surgery was scheduled for that Friday (Feb 1).

I have been calling the hip fracture a "broken hip" but this is not technically correct. A broken hip usually refers to breaking the ball at the top of the femur. I broke the cup that the ball fits into. Apparently this was a poor choice because what I did takes longer to heal.

During my stay in the hospital, I was confined to bed. My right hand was wrapped up from the middle of my arm and only the ends of my fingers and thumbs were sticking out. I was fitted for a brace that would protect my back once I was able to get out of bed.

I was very surprised that I kept a good attitude throughout my hospitalization. Heck, I was in pretty good spirits in the ambulance and the emergency room. I guess I kept thinking that things could be worse. Warning: If someone is in a bad mood, telling them that things could be worse is unlikely to cheer them up.

The hip surgery went well. It seemed to take forever for the anesthesia to wear off. I did not like the confused feeling that I had during that time. I was in a lot of pain the night after the surgery, but I was able to quit using morphine the day after that. I found out that I would have to go to rehab to learn how to do activities of daily living with the restrictions that I had.

Eventually I got to talk to my hand doctor, Dr. Boyer. Hand surgery was scheduled for Wednesday the 6th. I had the surgery and was transferred to rehab at St. Mary's the same day.

Not so happy anniversary

On January 29th I was headed home from work around six o'clock. It was my anniversary and Helen had made a special meal. At the intersection of Big Bend and Shrewsbury, a car headed in the opposite direction made a left turn directly in front of me. I yelled when I saw what he was about to do, but it was a cold night and his windows were closed so he couldn't hear me.

My bike struck the right side of his car, around the front wheel. My left side must have then hit the car. I was wearing a helmet but I don't think my head hit anything. I was lying on the ground and I heard the other driver get out of his car and walk around the car. "Shit," I heard him say. Maybe I was just in a bad mood, but it sounded to me like he was more concerned about the inconvenience to him than the injuries to me.

"Call an ambulance, call an ambulance!" was my response. He or someone else said than an ambulance was on the way. I knew that I was hurt and I suspected that my left leg was broken because it hurt a lot and I could not straighten it. I just lay on the cold pavement on my right side with my head resting on my arm.

The police arrived very soon after that. I heard the officer talk to a witness and the other driver. The other driver claimed that he had a green arrow, a fact that I disputed. At some point a woman asked if I wanted her coat. I said, "No, because then you would be cold." I did not actually see any of these people because I wasn't facing them and I wasn't about to try and move.

After a few more minutes, an ambulance arrived. The paramedics strapped me on a back board and loaded me onto a stretcher. I asked if they could please bring my yellow bags (my panniers with their rain covers), and the did. The police officer asked if he could call anyone for me and I asked him to call Helen.

The paramedics asked what hospital I wanted to go to and I said St Mary's. That is the closest hospital to my house. That ER was on diversion so they started checking around to find one that was accepting people. I ended up going to Barnes-Jewish. In the ambulance, the paramedic asked me if I wanted morphine for the pain. I told him no. I thought about it for a second and then said, "Yes. Who am I trying to impress?" He gave me some morphine but I don't know that it helped much.

Once we got to Barnes-Jewish, they unloaded me from the ambulance. We seemed to spend a long time (probably only a few minutes) in what looked like a parking garage. I eventually ended up in an ER "cubical" (I don't know what the proper name is). People asked me the usual questions and they did their usual medical stuff. They gave me more morphine and took some X-rays.

One of the nurses said that they were going to try to get my clothes off without cutting them. I told them to feel free to cut the tights because I thought it would be too painful to get them off. She said that they would try, but if it hurt too much, they would cut them. Actually the tights turned out to be pretty easy to remove and they didn't have to cut any of my clothes.

I was able to call Helen at some point, I'm not sure of the timeline. I expected her to be freaked out but she was actually very calm. She couldn't come to the hospital because she was at home with the kids. I told her that even if she came she would just be sitting in a waiting room.

Eventually a doctor told me that I had a dislocated hip. At first I thought that this was good news. Then he explained that for hips, dislocated pretty much means dislocated and broken. The gave me some other drug and I fell asleep while they put my hip back in place. Eventually I got to my hospital room about 3:00 am.

2007 MS-150 Recap

I was originally planning to make 4 longer posts--one for each day of my trip. I kept putting it off because writing it all up was going to be so much work. As Voltaire said "The perfect is the enemy of the good." So I am posting a short message to clear the deck for my next posts.

Day 1
I weighed my bike before I left. The bike plus all the gear I was taking (tent, sleeping bag, clothes, etc.) was 55 pounds. I was surprised by the number of pre-dawn joggers that I saw on the Katy trail. I got rained on a couple of times during the day. In the afternoon I met a couple of riders from the Monsanto MS-150 team. We ended up riding the last few hours together. The last few miles had the big hills that I remembered from the 2nd day of the MS-150 last year. I was hoping to get done around 5:00 but got to the campsite about 7:30.

Stats: 162.8 miles, 15:30 clock time.

Day 2
This was the first day of the MS-150 which was the same route as the second day last year. This was the hillier of the two routes. While I was riding, I told someone else on the Michelob Ultra team what I was doing. He later announced it in front of the entire team when we did our group picture. This made me feel like I had to finish.
Since there were so many hills, I rode by myself most of the time. I climb hills differently than most of the people that I ride with so it is hard to stay with a group. I like to get a running start at the hill and get to the top before I have a chance to get tired.

Stats: 105.92 miles, 8:07 clock time

Day 3
This was flatter than the previous day. The middle section was especially flat and boring. I fell in with a really good group of guys. I was actually glad to get to some of the hills later in the ride. The group broke up before we got to the end.
After I finished, I packed up my gear and started riding home. I made it to North Jefferson and got a shuttle to a hotel.

Stats (MS-150): 98.82 miles, 7:45 clock time
Stats (trip home): 36.50 miles, 3:07 clock time

Day 4
This day was tough. I knew that I had about 120 miles to go. I was also tired and sore. After averaging less than 10 mph in the morning, I started to think about places that Helen could pick me up. When there were 75 miles left I told myself, "75 miles? You can do that! Even if it takes all night."
It was an effort to keep my speed above 12 mph. Then, when I got to Dutzow, my speed started to increase, I was maintaining around 16 mph for long stretched. The only reason I can think of for this is psychological. I had ridden from Dutzow to home before so I knew I could do it.
I had been told that long distance riding was mostly mental. Now I believed it.
I made it home and accomplished my goal.

Stats: 125.57 miles, 12:10 clock time