Monthly Archives: May 2014

Dirty Kanza

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Heading down to Emporia for the finish of Dirty Kanza. Rumor has it that my TradeWind Energy team mate, Brian Jensen, is leading with 50 miles left to go out of 200.

My first official outing since leaving the hospital. Kind of beat already. But, wouldn’t want to miss this.

20140531-144247.jpgBrian, leading by 2 minutes at the half way check point.

Ebbs and Flows – Dirty Kanza Today

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My physical and mental feelings were all over the map yesterday. I didn’t realize how much both were tied to painkillers until looking back upon it, retrospectively, and then seeing the correlation. It was only three days after hip surgery, so I’m not sure why I’m not just vegging for the next few days, but that doesn’t seem to be where my mind is taking me. I actually came up with this great idea of trying to “spin” the excess water out of my swollen left leg yesterday. Again, I didn’t realize until after, that it was a premature idea. At the time, it seemed sensible, but again, that is on painkillers. Trudi secretly video’d the attempt and sent it off to Stacie, who forwarded it to Dr. Karam. Busted. Well, I’m not sure, because he did imply that I could do anything that didn’t involve an enormous amount of pain.

I didn’t realize that I didn’t write a post yesterday until way late in the day. By then, I couldn’t focus enough even to just watch TV. It is truly amazing how much mobility I actually have in such a short time, but it is so easy to forget how little I have too. I’m using a walker instead of crutches now. The walker just seems much more sturdy. I’m okay on the crutches, but sometimes I get a little off balance and have to reconnoiter before moving on.

I have permission by my doctor to put as much pressure on my leg as I can stand. I thought, great, I’ll be walking really quickly. That ain’t happening. At least if the healing curve stays the same as it has. I’m assuming it will be better quickly. There is so much swelling, like 2 gallons of liquid, 16 lbs, swelling, that it is very hard using the leg at all. The joints are all puffy and it is just difficult to bend anything. I know that I retained a ton of water thru IV’s in the hospital, but I thought that would leave way quicker than it has.

Sleeping is hit or miss. Mainly miss right now. I’ve been sleeping pretty good from maybe 10 pm to 3 or 4 am. Then I’m done with that. Seems like 5 or 6 hours is enough, especially compared to sleeping an hour at a time in the hospital. I do nod off multiple times during the day, like dozens, so I am probably sleeping more than I’m awake really.

Okay, I’m just rambling here. There really isn’t much to report other than it is already old. And I’m impatient. It is very hard for me to believe it is Saturday already. I crashed on Monday, so it has been the better part of a week already. That is nuts.

Today is the Dirty Kanza, a 200 mile gravel race. I think there are 1300 riders. The race actually starts in less than an hour. I sealed up some extra wheels yesterday for Brian. It was supposed to rain last night and there are some primitive roads, like no gravel primitive, so clogging can be an issue. I put some 34mm Hutchinson Bulldog cross tires on my tubeless wheels, just in case. Brian is going to do great today, if he has good mechanical luck. I’m hoping to feel good enough this afternoon to do the hour drive over to Emporia and see the festivities and finish.

Last year, I was still banged up from shoulder surgery, so I was slow moving then too. Bill is there for support today, so I’ll be getting updates from him, as long as he’s in cell service. I had been kicking around doing the event, last minute. I had enough miles, but now it is just a distant thought. Live streaming of the Dirty Kanza, click here.

And on the upside, I’ve had no issues with saddle sores this whole week. Not even during my little stint below.

This probably would have went better not using Ugg boots. I needed cleats to get over the top and bottom of the pedal strokes.

Dirty Kanza start this morning at 6am.

Dirty Kanza start this morning at 6am.

Escaped from the Hospital

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The title of this post isn’t quite accurate. It should have been, released from the hospital. I didn’t have to sneak out or anything. My guy, Doctor Karam came by yesterday morning and we had a good talk. He told me that the surgery went as perfect as it can go. He said that he was confident that if I had the ability to stand on my leg that it would be strong enough to hold my weight and that he doesn’t foresee any issues. Man, this guy is one of the chosen few. I was very fortunate to get excellent counseling from my friend Stacie, which connected me to Dr. Karam. He is so good that I’m going to use him for my follow-up appointments, even though it is a 6 hour drive.

Dr. Karam told me yesterday that I could head home anytime I felt up to it. Normally it is a 3 day stay, but like I posted yesterday, the foot traffic through the room and lack of sleep doesn’t make for much recovery. So, I did a PT session, walked on some crutches, up and down stairs, had one more bag of IV antibiotics and headed home less than 24 hours after surgery. It might have been just a tad premature looking back now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have that drive behind me, but yesterday wasn’t pleasant. It was actually down right ugly.

My left leg is so swollen that it is nearly impossible to move. Plus, my right rotator cuff shoulder is a little tweaked from the crash, so using crutches is awkward and a little sketchy. I did sleep pretty much 8 hours straight last night, so feel a ton better already. But my leg is crazy big. I weighed myself and am 168 lbs. I left Topeka just a week ago at around 150. And my stomach skinfold is next to nothing, so nearly all that extra weight has to be fluid buildup. That is a lot it seems.

I’m not going to go crazy and push anything here, but I’m optimistic that I’ll be riding really soon. I know that the soft tissue damage is going to take a long time to repair itself, but the bone should be really good in 6 weeks. That is hardly the middle of July.

One downside of leaving the hospital early yesterday was that I missed out on some treats. Bob Hayes, Muscatine promoter, came by with some homemade chocolate chip cookies after I left. Plus, Jay Thomas, (Trek Stores owner, Capo Clothing) sent me a Hawaiian pizza since I posted how bad the food was. So nice on both of their parts.

One reason I wanted to get back was because Brian is racing the Dirty Kanza on Saturday and I was hoping to be able to go over to Emporia and cheer him on some. Right now that seems like a stretch, but maybe I’ll feel a little better in a couple days.

Okay, gonna try to catch up on some sleep and food today. I have only had 4 meals since Monday morning and that is just about how many hours I’ve slept too.

This is what they did.   Looks pretty good to me.

This is what they did. Looks pretty good to me.

This is the guy that did the work above, Dr. Karam.  He is one of those guys, the special ones.

This is the guy that did the work above, Dr. Karam. He is one of those guys, the special ones.

It was nice getting all the tube out of my body yesterday.

It was nice getting all the tube out of my body yesterday.

Michael (Fatka) made a surprise visit, right when I was leaving the hospital.  We left, ate lunch with Michael, then did the 6 hour drive back.

Michael (Fatka) made a surprise visit, right when I was leaving the hospital. We left, ate lunch with Michael, then did the 6 hour drive back.

This is Kirk Willett.  He came by and visited a couple times.  He rode for Mercury and Prime Alliance 15 years ago, then took over the DS position at Toyota-Unite, before going to Medical School.  He has 6 emergency room shifts left and then he is done with residency and is moving back to the state of Washington to practice.  It was great having him come by.  He's wearing a flight suit here.  He was on call to go out on the Life Flight helicopter, so was prepared.

This is Kirk Willett. He came by and visited a couple times. He rode for Mercury and Prime Alliance 15 years ago, then took over the DS position at Toyota-Unite, before going to Medical School. He has 6 emergency room shifts left and then he is done with residency and is moving back to the state of Washington to practice. It was great having him come by. He’s wearing a flight suit here. He was on call to go out on the Life Flight helicopter, so was prepared.

Screwed back Together

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Yesterday went pretty well, considering. I still haven’t spoken to the doctor, but he told Trudi that everything went perfect and I should heal up fine. It turns out that the break was one of the “better” hip fractures you can get, and that with just 5 screws and a metal plate, it is all back together.

I can’t believe how much less painful it is now. Like 10% compared to before. Something like just normal road rash. I think my main problem right now is that my left leg muscles seem to be all seized up and it is really kind of impossible to move my leg. I’m not so good with anesthesia, so am pleasantly surprised I’m not all jacked up from that. No one has really said much about the pelvic facture, so I guess that just takes care of itself. Kind of strange. It is probably just all the pain medication? I just only realized that I have a catheter to urinate. You’d think I would have noticed that before?

I guess I’m supposed to spend a few more days in the hospital. I’m not sure why. To me, I think I’m pretty good to go and wouldn’t mind just heading home. I guess I’ll find out more later this morning, when everyone else is awake.

My few observations from this whole ordeal, medical-wise –

#1 Hospitals are really loud places. Like super loud. Don’t expect to get any sleep or rest. There is always someone coming in to check vitals, change IV bags, turn off alarms, give pills, something.

#2 Teaching hospitals, such as the University of Iowa, has more traffic going through your room. Like tons. Residences, nursing assistants, medical students, ect. It is mind boggling how many different people have introduced themselves to me.

#3 The food here is really bland. You have to “order” salt and pepper, or anything else, like butter for an English muffin, etc. I’ve only had one meal so far. I thought I ordered a ton, but was starving when I was done. For breakfast, I’m ordering the whole menu.

#4 Ambulances have terrible suspensions. The two ambulance rides I took to get from the race to the hospital and from the hospital to Iowa City were horrible. I know that having a broken hip exacerbated the bumpiness, but come on, most people in a ambulance are in some sort of pain I’d think. It is like riding in the back of a one ton pickup truck. Horrible. You’d think that they would have that figured out by now. For the amount of money it costs to get into one of those things, you would think it would be the most luxurious ride you could imagine. Exactly the opposite.

#5 Out of all the people at the hospital, the nurses are the ones that are the most important for the patients. I have two really great nurses. They are working 12 hours on, 12 off. I don’t’ know how they do it, but they seem to stay cheerful and busy the whole time here. It is the most important part of the stay so far.

I’m pretty optimistic about the next bit. Like I said above, I haven’t spoken to the doctor, but from just word of mouth, I might be back riding way sooner than I could have imagined. I believe that I got really lucky, considering, and that the whole season isn’t going to be a write off. Not that it is the most important thing, but I do like riding my bike.

Trudi drove straight here from Pro Road Championships in Chattanooga, just in time for me to head down to surgery, so she is here. She went back down to Davenport to hang with Bromont and stay with Jeff and Deb. It would be a waste having her up here. It is such a perfect set-up down there for them. If I would have known, I should have brought her bike with me and she could go out riding on the bike path system they have down in the Quad Cities. It is pretty good.

I don’t have a photo of the post operation hip, just the broken one. In the photo below, the break is the dark area at the top of my leg bone, where it angles to the left. They put in two long screws through the femur, into the head of the hip, to pull the whole thing back together, then a plate and three more screws below it to strengthen the whole area, I guess. I wonder what would happen if/or more accurately, will happen, when I fall on that stainless steel plate. Maybe there will be enough soft tissue around the area, the plate is deep enough, so it just doesn’t come poking through the skin? I wonder if I’m going to set off metal detectors at the airports now? That would be weird.

photo

Little gory looking.  I didn't think the incision would be so huge.

Little gory looking. I didn’t think the incision would be so huge.

Broken Hip and Pelvis, but it could be Worse

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It’s close to 4am and I’m finally settled down in a hospital room in Iowa City. It’s not like I’m going to get to sleep much, maybe not at all. They are coming in to draw blood before 5 am, then the orthopedic surgeon said he is coming by before 8, so that pretty much blows the morning. I can’t say the last 11 hours have been so good.

Maybe I should back up a little. I fell on the last corner of the Quad Cities Criterium, BEFORE the race started. And I can’t really tell you anything about it. I remember just riding down the hill, talking, knowing I had to go slow through the last corner because they were having a kids race. Next thing I know I am laying on the pavement holding my leg. I don’t have any recollection feeling a slick spot or my front or rear wheel sliding first. Just up one second, down the next. Pretty strange.

I knew immediately that I was hurt. It was pretty easy to tell. The first two riders to me were Paul Martin and his team mate. Both asked me if there was anything that they could do for me are if they needed to call someone for me. Super nice.

The EMT guys came and put me on a stretcher and carried me over to the ambulance. The crowd clapped, like they do at a football game when they haul off an injured player. It struck me as strange, but I know they all had good intentions.

So, I was driven to a close hospital. Man, let me tell you something, ambulance rides are crazy bumpy. Like so bumpy someone needs to invent an air cushion or something to make it bearable.

I got to the emergency room and went through all the red tape. Then I sat forever. Finally a guy came and said he was a medical student and looked me over. Then a small woman came and said she was taking me to x-ray. I got there and she proceeded to start taking x-rays of my knee. I told her that my knee was fine, my hip was bad. She said that she didn’t have an order for hip photos and kept doing the knee deal. I told her she needed to stop and call someone, because it was super painful trying to get in position for these x-rays that weren’t needed.

So, finally, hip and pelvic x-rays ordered. I had to move from the bed with wheels to the x-ray table for the hip shots. Wow, talk about unbelievable pain. I moved about 1/2 a centimeter at a time. It would have been nice to get some pain medicine before that ordeal.

So, x-rays done and back to the waiting area. In the meantime, I was getting texts from my friend Stacie, an orthopedic surgeon from Louisville, asking what happened. I didn’t have cell service, just wifi. I told her my hip was broken and that I was supposed to get back in another ambulance and head over to another hospital to have surgery within the hour. She told me to hold tight.

Eventually, she got back to me and said I needed to be taken up to Iowa City and see a trauma orthopedic surgeon that was on staff at the University of Iowa. His name is Matt Karam. Then the phone rings next to my wheelie cart and it is Matt. I talked to him for a while and decided that he was my guy. Super articulate, seemed to know a lot about hip surgery and just sounded right to me.

By then, Bill had finished the race and was there. And then it started. The Emergency Room doctor seemed a little pissed that I was leaving their system and going to Iowa City. He said that the 50 mile ambulance ride was medically unnecessary. I told him I needed to take an ambulance ride somewhere, because they weren’t doing the surgery there, so I might as well go to where the best doctor is. I can sort of understand his issue, but not really. I told him that I had a few friends that broke their hips and that it didn’t work out so well for them. No blood flow, then eventually replacement hips. Floyd is one of them.

So, another really bumpy ride to Iowa City in an ambulance. They said it will cost between $1100 and $1710 dollars. Nice. Here, at the University of Iowa, it feels more correct. I had to spend a lot of time in the emergency room area again. I started kind of stressing because they told me that I couldn’t eat or drink after midnight and I had really eaten since breakfast. The orderly went to the cafeteria and got me a ham sandwich and piece of chocolate cream pie at 11:55 pm. Then I sat some more and finally moved up to my room later. I don’t have a roommate, which is great.

So, I’m scheduled for surgery tomorrow afternoon. Somewhere between 2 and 4 hours it is going to take. They have to screw it back together and then insert a plate somewhere. The only wrench in the whole plan is that the resident down in the emergency room told me that my pelvis had a fracture too and that might “mess things up some”. He told me I’m going to have to get some more x-rays tomorrow to check it out better.

It is so strange what goes through your mind when something life altering happens. Zillions of thoughts, most totally off subject. I just decided to not worry about it and stay the course.

Trudi is driving straight from Chattanooga to here. She got into Illinois and, I believe, stayed in Mt. Vernon last night. She should make it in time to be there when I wake up I hope.

I bet my health insurance kind of hates me by now. At least they should. I’ve been using it like crazy the last two years. This is going to be another expensive one.

I’m staying fairly positive so far. I could be broken much worse. They could be putting in a complete hip replacement. In theory, it isn’t going to even 2 months for the recovery. Not bad considering.

Okay, I’m getting a little sleepy. Pain killers are wonderful. This is not a painless injury. It is really hard finding the sweet spot so there isn’t a shooting pain. I’m going to try to find that very sweet spot now and get an hours sleep before the day starts. Wish me luck.

Dinner.

Dinner.

Looking so happy.

Looking so happy.

Brett and Tom Schuler, race promoter, trying to figure out the restart of the women's race.  They raced hardly anything too.  The men ended up doing 30 minutes.

Brett and Tom Schuler, race promoter, trying to figure out the restart of the women’s race. They raced hardly anything too. The men ended up doing 30 minutes.

quad copy

Ambulance Ride to Iowa City-Surgery Tomorrow Afternoon

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This afternoon went pretty bad. I’m in an ambulance right now being transferred to Iowa City. I fell before the race and fractured my hip. Man, before the pain medicine, that one is pretty painful injury. It’s a 4 hour surgery and 6+ week recovery. Could be worse. Alright, I need to fill out forms.

20140526-202022.jpgMy transport people.

Melon City Criterium

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Yesterday was sort of a strange race day for me. I went out with Jeff Bradley, Deb Wood and Bill and rode 30 miles in the morning. I felt pretty done. It was windy and I was flailing when riding against it. We rode over to the new course that they are holding the Quad Cities race on today and then I really started getting nervous. The course is crazy hard. .7 mile with a long steady climb and screaming descent. So, I realized I needed to try ride smart in Muscatine to save up for today.

Muscatine is a mile course, with a hill too, but not a very hard climb. There is a 130 degree corner about 100 meters from the finish, when is the key aspect of the course. I’ve done the race a lot of times. Sometimes a field sprint, but usually a medium size break. The race was animated early on. I had a 350 watt average on my Garmin after the first 30 minutes. So, the race sort of slowed midway and then towards the end, it seemed like the field was getting a little blown. It started splitting up more on the climb and through the corner. I started riding closer to the front, not really wanting to miss a big split. But, I did.

With maybe 10 laps to go, 8 guys rolled away. I had a opportunity to make the move, was flying up the gutter on the right side of the field on the climb, but a feeder stepped out onto the road and I had to grab my brakes. I don’t really understand why they were allowing feeding, it wasn’t that hot. And it seemed like it was too late in the race for feeding anyway. The Hincapie Team and Athlete Octane guys got to the front and really slowed it down. Now, after the race, I don’t have any idea about that tactic. I think they only had one rider each up the road. As it turned out, neither team finished a guy on the podium.

So, the break stayed off. We were jockeying for position the last couple laps. You really have to set up properly at the bottom of the hill to get a good result. I was good going down the hill, maybe 8 guys back, behind only Hincapie and Athlete Octane riders. I was planning on marking Daniel Holloway. He is the guy here and earlier in the race, won a prime from about 50 riders back with 1/4 lap to go. Anyway, it slowed a bit at the bottom of the hill and I decided to just go for it from there. I was on the inside and when I went by Holloway, he threw a pretty good elbow into me, a prickish move. I lost all my momentum and instantly was 15 riders back.

But, I kept at it, staying full throttle and towards the top of the hill, right where it levels out, started passing guys like they were standing still. I rode by maybe 5 riders pretty quick and then before the corner, passed Paul Martin and then dove the final corner and passed 3 more guys. I ended up 5th in the field sprint, 13th in the race.

Paul came up to me after the race and made some derogatory comment about my “move”. I reminded him that I’d seen him run into quite a few guys throughout the day. I asked him what the issue was of going through a corner, less than 100 meters from the finish, on the inside. I didn’t touch another rider. No one fell. I moved up 3 places. He said something like there is just an area of danger surrounding me. It’s his opinion, but I disagree. Riders have different abilities and different perceptions of what is dangerous and what isn’t. For me, the move was just finishing a criterium. I guess he would never make it, which is fine, but I don’t think he has anything to complain about. Paul and I got way back on this subject, so it is just a continuation of the same old.

Like I said above, the Hincapie and Athlete Octane teams pretty much decided the break and they both got shut out on the podium. I don’t understand it. Holloway or Chad Hartley both could have won the race from a field sprint. Seems like bad tactics to me, but that’s fine. There are plenty of bad tactics going on in bike racing nowadays.

After the race, Bill and I went for a short ride. We stopped at a yard sale and bought some Cokes from a kid. I got 2 for a dollar. I drank the first one, it was so cold, great. So I decided to have the 2nd. I think that was a mistake. About 15 minutes later, I got a crazy stomach ache. Like call 911 stomach ache. I was folded over with pain. I limped back to the car and just sat. I had some Tums in the medical bag and ate a handful. Driving back to Davenport, which is 45 minutes, it slowly subsided. But, man, did it leave me destroyed. Way worse than the race.

Today is going to be hard. A really short course, with a hard hill hitting you even minute or so. It is supposed to rain this afternoon. 70% chance. I glued on a new Vittoria CX on my rear last night. I’m worried that guys are going to get off the front early and lap the field. Eventually that is going to happen for sure. I’m not sure how many guys are going to finish today, but it is going to be ugly.

I woke up a little torqued today. Kind of just overall fatigued. I’m not so worried, I have 1/2 a day to get my shit together. I’m going to go out for a ride, nap then see. No use stressing about something that is just is. I’m looking forward to the race today. I like hard criteriums with hills. Should be fun.

The podium-Chris Winn 1st, Cole House 2nd, Tyler Coplea 3rd.

The podium-Chris Winn 1st, Cole House 2nd, Tyler Coplea 3rd.

Results.

Results.

These guys were on the bike path at the bottom of the criterium hill.

These guys were on the bike path at the bottom of the criterium hill.

Tom Schuler last night pretty much passed out.  He'd been out setting up todays course since 4 am and it was 11 pm.

Tom Schuler last night pretty much passed out. He’d been out setting up todays course since 4 am and it was 11 pm.

Jeff grilled up a ton of chicken last night.

Jeff grilled up a ton of chicken last night.

Bromont waiting for breakfast.  Someone comes around and put flags in front of every house in Jeff's neighborhood.  There is a permanent flag holder in each yard.  Happy Memorial Day!

Bromont waiting for breakfast. Someone comes around and put flags in front of every house in Jeff’s neighborhood. There is a permanent flag holder in each yard. Happy Memorial Day!