Sunday, December 27, 2009

Digging DOWN to keep a chin UP

(Above: Thankful for any trainer time I can get. Slowly getting back on the bike)
Happy Holidays to all! What a great time of year to spend with family and friends! Its weird how much time us cyclist may have on our hands when we aren't racing and traveling non-stop. Being home and spending time with our family is cherished... at least by me. After they put up with our wacky schedules it amazing they even want to have anything to do with us at the end of the year. I'm so thankful that I have always had a supportive and caring family around to support me no matter what crazy adventure I decide to set my mind to.
So that extra time at home while I have been recovering also has me getting freaked out at times about not being on the bike. I read other people's blogs about hitting the trainer and I get it in my mind that I am way behind. After assurances by Coach Don (DRT) I'm feeling a little better that we had plenty of time for lots of training to come in the months ahead. Deep down I know this is true, but I also know I have a hard road of recovery ahead of me and that I have to put in double the effort to get back to my competition around me. I wish that weren't the case, but its the cards I'm dealt and I will deal with it.
I'm just thankful I have a great sport that I love in order to motivate me to get back on two feet and be 100%, because it takes a lot of pain and hard work to do it! I'm excited about the prospect of finally being 100% next year for the first year in a long time, but the days of late December and January are hard to keep the motivation going. These months are particularly hard for all of us bikers I think, and that seems to be even larger than life when there is a injury to overcome on top of that. Racing seems so far away, almost like light years away. Its cold, dark, and the industry is stagnant. Everything seems to be in slow motion compared to the bustling days of summer. Now is a great time to do some other cross sports, but I'm pretty much a no go for that. Instead, I'm trying to trick myself into thinking the small things I'm doing are "big progress." I guess they kinda are, but not like I'm used to accomplishing. Right now, those little things keep my chin above water and I have to take pride in all I can no matter how small they may seem to others. Surgery and recovery are pretty much your own personal battle- kinda like a hard TT.

My small gains since the last post have been epic then. I have moved up to riding the trainer for 30 minutes at a time, had a couple good days of core and upper body workouts at the gym, I have went back to work
(as seen in pic, epidural service on wheels), I am now able to take a short shower instead of a bath, I can one crutch walk around the house, I can keep my leg down for about 15 minutes before it starts to swell up really big, and I got the stitches out of the incisions. Nice! I made the trip to see Dr Porter and he is pleased with how I'm doing for the most part. The swelling and incision are coming along nicely and he had even allowed the PT to let me start some easy ROM. He is giving me the professional athlete routine and with that comes a little more grit but also the responsibility of pushing it when I can, and listening to my body when I can't. We are still worried about the nerve pain and potential for some hang ups there, but only time will tell. That part is really frustrating and very painful. However, all and all, I am pleased with how things are going and happy to get back to some of the normal things people do in life without being completely drained. I'm ready to start getting back to normal so I can then work on being abnormally fast on a bike for a girl.

Sometimes you have to dig a little deep to find some positives about the situations you are dealt. Some days that is hard for me to do right now, but there is always something positive. Always. Sometimes I have to make some crap up and bend the situation and mold it for me to make it a positive to keep my chin up. Like; "its good I can't feel my foot because it won't get cold in cross," or "its good to use crutches to work on my balance." You know, stuff like that. Or maybe just the simple: "that what doesn't kill me will only make me stronger." Not that I recommend surgery, but that statement worked last year for me.
So here I go again!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Few Cobbles

I'm finally getting over the bed ridden days after surgery. Its really hard to explain how hard it is to just accomplish the routine daily parts of life when you have only 1 good leg and one arm or no arms at all (because they are needed for crutch'in). I have depended my friends and family for so much that it makes me not only thankful for them but thankful for my health when it is good. I can finally pretty much get myself dressed, cleaned up, and get my meals around by myself. I've even gotten out of the house and given my couch a chance to stretch out a bit. Now that the snow has fallen, I'm a little freaked to get out too much on the wet floors. I almost bit it hard at the movie theater the other day when I hit a wet spot. Aside from that, my crutch'in skills are getting killer. I'm thinking that I may try to find some people to enter some sort of crutch skills competition. Maybe when I get a little better...

I've also started hitting the gym again. This was super cool and it made me super happy. I got permission to start really easy on the gym bike while in the cast. It went okay and I logged about 2 miles in the 15 minutes. Watch out! I also get to do this arm rower thing that is super easy (but something) and allows me to make some gym observations. So I've noticed that even though I'm less than 2 weeks out from major surgery, my current gym workout is 2 times harder than some of the really skinny girls, and that I am greatly annoyed by the widespread use of poor technique people use. It is driving me crazy. Maybe I should just watch the tv and mind my own business.
I've also been going a little crazy and trying to find reason's to stay motivated on diet and towards getting ready for the pain that will ensue in rehab shortly. It would seem really easy to just give up , but the couch is really not any more comfortable than my bike seat. Thankfully, I had someone show me the pic below and I snapped out of my urge to eat cereal late at night.
(Podium for the OVCX Series Overall title)
Speaking of pain, the swelling is on its way down from the massive kankle, but I now have some bruising working its way out. The lower pics don't really do justice, but my foot and toes are totally black and blue and it looks like a dead foot (trust me, I've seen many). My toes are even bruised on the under side and in between. That's some serious bleeding going on after surgery!

I also have been haunted by the complex pain problem that is a result of the nerve damage from my last surgery. I am pretty frustrated this is coming back and its a bummer for sure. Its that "foot dipped in gas and lit on fire feeling." Not much fun. It isn't as bad as last time and hopefully some of the things we are doing will keep it from getting too bad. Its just something I have to work through. I just hope this meets my share of pain and suffering requirements for many years to come.
Not all roads can be paved with no rough spots or bumps and I guess my recovery from surgery is no different. I don't know if that makes the smooth times all the better or the victory of conquering the bumps all the sweeter. One thing I know is that in my dream world I would far more enjoy winning Paris- Roubaix than the world time trial championships!
Bring it on!

Bob Roll, Paris-<span class=

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sometimes I get a little stupider.
Bad idea #1
After finally getting a good night of rest (11 hours straight) I thought today would be a great day to go cold turkey off the vicoden that I have been taking every 4 hours.
Bad idea #2
I came up with the bright idea, that since I was off narcs, that I could drive myself to work, crutch in, and fax some papers to the office.
Bad. I'm now exhausted and back on vicoden, but spacing it out a little more. And after completely soaking my clothes from a cold, clammy sweat after my little "outing" that had my friend saying, "you look as white as a sheet," I've decided to stay in for a little while longer.
Seriously, did I go to university for 9 years?
I wonder sometimes.
So here is my post-op day 5 pictures. I am happy Dr Porter was kind enough to do a running stitch for me. That's the fishing line type suture on each end of the incision. My sister said that she had never seen so many shades of purple on one foot- I have to say I agree.
It took me 3 hours to inch the compression stocking back on after this dressing change. It was a whole lotta hurt and I'm already dreading the next time I take it off wed to shower. Definitely taking a vicoden before then. No more cold turkey for a little while.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

There is always something to be thankful for.

It's amazing how time passes so quickly when you are home. I think it actually goes at the same pace, but I just don't remember much of anything right now. I pretty much wasn't expecting things to be this painful this early, so I have had to take the pain meds regularly and I'm not really used to mind altering substances. Last surgery was painful with nerve damage, but this round seems to be so much more painful around the ankle joint. He had so much to repair and fix and that means more tissue was damaged and has become inf lammed, painful, bruised and swollen. Any of the slightest movement that causes my fibula to brush up against the cast has me yelp out like a little girl. Plus, a nice addition to the pain has been the onset of my calf muscle spasming around the incision. Its like a Charlie horse from Hell with a knife stuck in it. My attempts at trying to space out the pain meds from every 4 hours has not worked out yet. I hate taking them, but things just aren't tolerable to do that just yet. I consider myself a pretty strong gal, but this is proving to get the best of me at the moment.

However, I am noticing some small improvements and I know that more will come. I finally felt good enough to take a bath. When you are totally lame you don't even care if you haven't showered in days. Its always humbling to have your Mom help give you a bath at 33. Thank God for Mom's. I also finally got over the nausea enough to take some much needed vitamins and eat real food. I could also put the slightest pressure on my toe for balance without being in severe pain. That was huge! Plus, I am able to make my own coffee in the morning! That rocks.

I have made note of a few more things that suck with surgery: I can't follow anything. I mumble around like I am drunk half the time. I had big plans to read a couple books and watch a bunch of movies. So far, I watched Star Trek, Dark Knight, and Transformers. The special effects were very cool since I was in a drug induced cloud, but I have no idea, what so ever, what the movies were about. I don't know if I should take them back or watch them again. Also, it's not a good idea to even think about online shopping. I'm sure I could blow all my money before I even know what hit me. Good thing my purse is in my truck where I can't reach it. Plus, no matter how much you think laying on the couch sounds like fun during heavy training season- it is not that much fun. I may need a new couch now, because I now hate the one I have and the thought of getting out of bed to lay on the couch another day is nauseating. The last thing that sucks is that I am obsessed with ice and ice melts. Ice is wonderful and an ankle that is the size of a softball gladly welcomes ice, but it is a constant that never lasts.

So that's the tons of cool things going on with me, its very exciting I know. Tomorrow I am going to step outside in the real world for the first time since surgery. I have a funeral to attend for a friend and colleague of one of our surgeons in Warsaw. Not exactly what I was wanting my first trip outside to be, but let it be a grim reminder that things can always be worse off. In a time where things are hard and painful for me, I have a lot to be thankful for. In the grand picture of things, I am very blessed.

Neal, may you rest in peace.
You were a great man and dear friend.
I will miss you very much.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Buzz Killed!

The last week has been one big blur. My plan to have surgery 2 days after the last ovcx in L'ville seemed like a really good idea because I had already taken the time off work to go to Bend for Nationals. However, it totally scrunched everything together and it totally killed my buzz I had from winning the last 3 cx races and the ovcx series. Now I'm just buzzing on pain killers (which really don't kill the pain). Talk about going from the top to the bottom of physical conditioning. Buzz Killed!

Surgery was in Carmel and I can't say enough kind words about the staff at the facility. They did a great job of balancing letting me maintain my professional control and being the patient. Since us anesthesia people like to be in control, that was much appreciated. I was also very pleased with my anesthesiologist. We discussed my plan for anesthesia and I was thankful to know what her plans were for me in detail. Nice. Then it was off to the OR. I was ready to get going and get on my way to getting this ankle fixed up by one of the best in the country!

Next thing you know I'm in recovery waking up several hours later. I kept waking up to the my monitor alarming. I'm so in tune to monitor alarms that I couldn't ignore my own. I kept looking up to my heart rate being in the low 30's and a nurse looking at me like she was concerned. I assured her that this was normal for me and we tried to ignore the alarms for a while until it was finally time to get booted out of the recovery room.

Dr Porter was pleased with how the surgery went and is confident that we are on the right track to getting back close to 100% once I get healed up. He said he had a lot to do to the ankle during the surgery and that their was some major cleaning up to take care of in addition to the major reconstructions that needed to be done. I love how, in the end, it all comes down to a outside scar that doesn't even begin to tell the story of what was done on the inside.
(A quick dressing change out of the cast post-op day 3)
So after hanging out in the surgery center all day it was time to make the trek home 2.5 hours away. Of coarse, we ran into the first major storm of the year and it took us about 1 hour more then normal to get back home. That being the case I was super thankful that Dr Porter did an ankle block for me (numbing medicine injected around the major nerves of the ankle) so the car ride was more tolerable on a freshly cut ankle. I was thankful to be home and in my makeshift downstairs bedroom. My parents headed home and I waited for my sister to get off of her 2nd shift work to get me settled in for the night.
That never really happened. Post surgery sleep is never really good and that was the case all night for me. I just couldn't get comfortable and the nerve block was wearing off fast and I tried every trick in the book to ease the pain, but it looked like I was in for a long night. I finally drifted off to sleep for a couple hours at about 5am. Whew!

The last couple days since have been a little rough, but I have had some good moments and I know more of those will come. You can never really prepare for the amount of pain that will happen, even if you have been through it before. Being that this was a revision with an added reconstruction on top of it, I knew it wouldn't feel nice at all. It is much more painful than the last reconstruction. I pretty much just sit around waiting for the time to take my next vicoden, holding as still as possible with naps that come on without me even knowing it. I feel like a druggie, especially since I don't even like to take ibuprofen on a normal basis, but that's how it has to be here for a few days until the pain and swelling settles down. My ankle and foot are super swollen and I can hardly even wiggle my toes because there is so much blood pooled around them. My anesthesia peeps helped me with my first dressing change tonight and that was enough to make me want to pass out since the slightest movement is excruciating, so I'm glad that is over.

I have strict orders to not put any weigh on the ankle and not leave it dependent for more than 5 minutes at a time. That pretty much means I'm holding down the couch for a while. After a few weeks I may be able to step it up a notch and start walking with the crutches and spin a little on the bike with the cast. I'll be in the cast for a while and looks like I will be catching up on my movies and reading that I have got behind on all season long.
I'm very thankful to all the people around me in my life to help me through the tough times right now. My sister really is a blessing to me right now as she has went way beyond her duties as a sister. I get so stir crazy and she knows how to put me in my place without making me feel like I'm out of my mind.

Thanks to everyone for all the prayers and thoughts, I appreciate them all and cherish every one of them!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Three Peat and One Series Title

I ended the last race of the year on a high note. And I must say, I'm pretty stoked about it! I took three State Championship races and the OVCX elite women overall title. I love when hard work pays off.

Going into the Storm the greens race I was sitting in second behind Nikki D and the series title was basically coming down to this one race. With the double points for this race- all I had to do was win the race no matter what to take the series overall. No problem and no pressure right? Actually I was happy to find myself in the series hunt, and I wasn't gonna go down without a fight. I knew Don (DRT) had me riding strong and all I had to do was keep the confidence and run a smooth race.

Race day was a busy one just to get to L'ville from my Northern location, and I had my anesthesia Christmas party the night before, complicating my travels even more. I did get in my share of dancing all night with my groupies, but I had to stay pretty low key at the "best work party ever" in order to save my legs and stay hydrated. After going to bed Saturaday at about 2 am, I have to get back up at 530am to make sure I got in a good warmup. Upon arrival to the venue, I could see it was gonna get muddier with every hour since the sun was out do its job to make cross how it should be. Good day for Rhinos!

My plan for the race was to put the pressure on the front gals and let them pull me and pressure them to make the mistakes, however that plan changed in the first 100 yards. I took off at a good pace and found I already had a good lead and that's pretty much how it stayed. It really wasn't that hard of a effort the whole race and I just tried to ride a smart race picking my way through the elite masters guys and keeping the Rhino side down. Half the battle of a muddy race is being smart and knowing not to get caught behind people making mistakes to slow you down. I had a sizable lead after briefly being challenged by Kenda's Ashly James and 2 laps into the race I noticed Nikki on the sideline with a mechanical. That's too bad because I love to battle it out, but regardless, I was pretty strong and I knew I wasn't going to be beat on this day. After lap 2 I just cruised around and took my time to not slide out on the slick corners. Ashely gained a little time on me and kudos to her for fighting so hard and never giving me chance to get too comfortable.
I rolled across the line in First place and for the last time at this venue. It will be missed as it holds some personal sentaments for me. Plus, I loved the venue as it really matches my riding styles.
As far as the title series win, it was so sweet to accomplish and I am proud of what it took me to win it. As cyclist that compete at the elite level and hold a full time jobs, it takes a lot of sacrifice to be there at that level. As for the 3 peat: that's 3 State Championships won for me in Ohio, Kentucky and my State Champ title in Indiana. I loved every minute of it and can't wait to step up a notch even further next year. I miss cross already!
Vrooom, Vrooom!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Here are some great pics taken by Jeffery Jakucyk during the last 2 cross races. Please check out his site
Jumping the single barrier at IN State Championships in Indy.
Stairs and more stairs. I actually may have gained a little time here this year!
Shot of me after crossing the line in Yellow Springs, OH winnning the OH state champs race.
Me and teamatte Josh Johnson discussing his first elite race. He end up 13th even after doing the cat 3 race earlier in the day!
OH OVCX podium: 3rd (1st OH) Terri Meek, 1st Me, 2nd Nikki D.

Finishing at the IN State Championship- oh yeah!