Back On The Road Again

I felt like it would take forever to get back on the road again after dual knee replacement on August 26th. After 2 days in the hospital and 9 days in the rehab hospital, I was glad to get home. When I came through the door my Norco was waiting patiently for me but it would take some time. It was good to be home and see my bicycle again!

I crushed my PT thanks to the experts at El Camino Acute Rehab Facility and got to ride a stationary bike several times. At the 4 week point, I was already doing what people achieved at 6 weeks and my team was pleased. I worked hard on my PT and had a group of great people at the facility that made all of the difference.

On Sept.13th I went in to have my waterproof bandages removed at my surgeon’s office. I saw my stitches for the first time and got all kinds of good news.  I had full range already and was told I could walk without my walker, drive, and even start to ride my bicycle again. Very carefully of course. This was only a month after surgery so I was thrilled!

I was having PT once a week at the clinic where I was able to ride stationary bikes, use weights and learn to walk again. Because my knees were bent replacing them meant I now had straight legs. I had been embarrassed for so long about my knees, they were ugly and made me walk with an abnormal gait. When I looked in the mirror I was in awe!

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In this photo on my bike, you can see how badly bent my legs were at the knees. In the second photo, it’s fixed. It seems like magic.

On Sept. 21st it was a warm sunny day and it seemed like a good day to try my first ride. My roommate came along to give me strength. Although I’m a seasoned cyclist I was feeling really shaky on that ride. On the other hand, what a feeling it was to be back on my bike!

The hardest part was starting out and stopping because both put the most pressure on my legs/knees. My thighs above my stitches were hurting and burning but I still made it the 8.92 miles around Coyote Point Harbor with a smile. What’s a little pain when there’s so much pleasure to be had?

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My very first bike ride after dual knee replacement was painful but oh so sweet!

Sept. 29th would be my next ride. I was going mostly on weekends with my roommate. I was feeling great but still having a lot of pain so working on recovery was paramount. Before surgery, I was riding 20-30 miles every other day and now it was 17 miles once a week but I had to start somewhere.

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That smile just keeps getting larger. At 5 weeks (above) I’m not doing too badly. My knees are still a little swelled.

Today I have 16 rides under my belt and am almost back to biking every other day. During my off time, I lost a lot of conditioning so it’s going to take months to get that back. I’ve gone out to Radio Point (26 miles) twice but am still riding 17-20 miles most days. I have my work cut out for me it just takes time.

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James (my roommate) and I taking a break on our favorite bench during a bike ride. He was great to come with me when I needed it.

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Look at those straight legs and sexy bicycle!

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The Bay Trail is on my left, San Francisco Bay on my right.

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It’s starting to get cold on my rides so it’s time to get the fur out.

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Yesterday was my last ride but I’ll be going out tomorrow! If you look into my sunglass lenses you’ll see the white pelicans I was looking at.

After all is said and done I’m back on the road again and so happy to be back! As I’ve said many times now, dual knee replacement was the hardest thing I ever did but so far it’s so worth it. The things I’ve gained outweigh the pain and hardship of recovery. It still feels new but after a year I’m told things will settle down and feel more normal.

On Feb. 20th it’ll be my 4 year anniversary for riding every other day, losing and maintaining my weight loss, and living a healthier, better life. Because of surgery, I missed more days this year than any other but I’m going to make up for it and will be celebrating heavily on that day.

Time is flying and the holidays are fast approaching with Thanksgiving coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m not ready but I never am. At this age and being solo the holidays are just more days to enjoy. I will be making a turkey and soup with the leftovers. I’m thankful I got my surgery over with after waiting for decades!

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Back in the saddle again!

Summertime Blues

The summer riding season has flown by so fast! Where does the time go? I had the best intentions to write about biking and health but ended up just enjoying myself. I have a good reason though, let me explain.

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It was a wonderful summer riding the Bay Trail here in San Mateo, CA. From Coyote Point Harbor you can see San Francisco down the peninsula.

I’ve had bad knees for decades starting with a motorcycle accident in the early ’70s that caused me to have surgery on my right knee. Now that I’m 65 that surgery has grown old making that knee unstable while the strain on my left knee (the good knee) caused it to fail and become crooked. This took years to happen, years where I was fine to outdoor roller skate, jog, play sports, and pretty much do anything I wanted. Now I’m paying the price.

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I am going to miss riding my bicycle! In most pictures, I try to hide my knees or I stand to the side so it’s harder to see. One knee is bigger than the other because of scar tissue.

If you read my blog you’ll know my history, if not you can read about it here. I was overweight, depressed, walking with a cane and in bad shape until I decided to exercise regularly by riding my bicycle every other day. Now, almost 4 years later I’m in great shape and my knees are the best they can be. Unfortunately, the best is far from functional. Losing the extra weight and riding my bicycle made my knees stronger and less painful but the damage was done.

I put off doing something about them for far too long but on May 10th something shifted in my left knee and I could barely walk. After seeing my doctor we decided enough was enough. On the 26th (this Monday) I’m having both of them replaced at the same time. They’re also going to straighten my left leg. It’s going to be a long recovery and hard work but I look forward to the end result. Not only that, but my doctor chose my case to use robotics which is going to be awesome.

I will be in the hospital for 2 days and in an acute rehab facility for 1 to 2 weeks so I’m going to be busy. In the rehab facility, they will make sure I’m comfortable and know how to deal when I get home. They will be teaching me how to walk all over again with straight legs. I don’t like to admit it but when I walk now I have a side to side movement and people can clearly notice my bent leg.

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This is how you keep your bicycle from being ripped off.

I’ll be so glad to get rid of these knees. They click, move on me, give out on me, I can’t do stairs, and cause me a lot of pain. I fall way too much when I stop my bike because putting a leg down doesn’t always mean that leg is going to hold. I fell just last Sunday which I shouldn’t be doing with my surgery is coming up.

Despite all of this I’m very nervous and not sure how long it will take for me to recover fully and get back on my bike which are my main objectives. I’m in good shape because of my bike riding so my doctor says I should recover fast.

I’ll be off my bike for at least 6 weeks and will have to start all over again. It makes me sad when I think about how much work and time it took for me to get into this top physical condition. As long as I come out better and stronger it will be worth it.

I’m not sure how I’ll feel about blogging while this is going on so I won’t make any promises I can’t keep. We’ll see how I feel. I look forward to getting this over with and getting back to the things I love.

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Hoping for the best on Monday and looking forward to better knees, better health and being a better bike rider!

Take care and stay healthy. You can do it! Keep riding your bicycle and eating your spinach. You’ll be hearing from me soon, I still have a lot to share.

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
― Tom Bodett

Dealing With Sickness

The trail ahead finally came to an end as the sign clearly said, “No Bike Lane Ahead” causing me to turn around and head home.

Little did I know that when I biked this new trail on March 29th going 23 miles round trip, that the very next day I would become deathly ill with the creeping crud that’s going around. My roommate was already complaining about coming down with it from his work-mates, but since he wasn’t staying home from work or acting very sick I just ignored his warnings. I’d had my flu shot like I get every year and I never get sick! Famous last words.

I woke up the next day with a small cough. I keep a glass of water by the bed because I get a dry mouth at night so that’s what I was thinking that morning as I gulped some water. I felt fine and was proud of my 23-mile ride, even bragging about it to my best friend.

I bike every other day come rain or shine and today was an off day so I planned to get some steps in between my writing and bragging. As the day went on I felt bad and it overcame me so fast that by nightfall I had a fever of 101.5, a headache that wouldn’t go away and was coughing so hard I thought my head would explode. I actually saw lights inside my head and immediately all my new-found energy was gone. For the first time in years, I was sick and all I could do was crawl into bed.

I felt betrayed by my body, after all, everything I’d read told me that people who sleep right, eat right and exercise don’t get sick as often as the average person. In fact, I read that a healthy person only gets sick half as much as the rest of the population. I was angry that I couldn’t get on my bike and felt that all of my hard work of the last 6 months was being lost. I was angry and felt depressed for the first time in ages.

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After a few days of this negative thinking while laying in bed it came to me. I had become part of the problem. There was nothing I could do about getting sick, I had done everything right and still caught the bug. All I was doing with my bad attitude was making things worse for myself. I stopped my complaining and refocused on taking care of myself.

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Just as I’d learned how to be healthy again after decades of bad habits I relearned the importance of patience and acceptance. Once I did, my week of sick time passed, my fever broke and I felt ready to get back on my bike.

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On Tuesday, April 5th, I got dressed to go biking for the first time since being sick. It was a sunny, windy day nothing unusual for the Bay Area in the springtime. I was weak but feeling happy.

The first thing I noticed was the wind gusts hurting my ears which never happened before. I pulled over and used my earbuds without plugging them in which happened to work. I was puzzled since I had no ear aches and on the way home I was able to remove them with no further problems.

After the first half of my ride, I noticed a lack in stamina and my back was hurting. My endorphins never kicked in and I wasn’t enjoying my ride. I still had plenty of strength for hills but wasn’t feeling it. I had to bike against the wind gusts on the way home and as soon as I got in the door I peeled my clothes off and fell back into bed.

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After sleeping a few hours I got up had something to eat and started hydrating myself. I’m not young anymore and had a private laugh at how silly I was expecting to just fall back into my biking routine after being so sick. Instead of getting upset this time, I made sure my choices the next day were well balanced towards good health hoping to have a better outcome.

On Thursday, it was a gorgeous day with high temps, low wind gusts and sun. I did my normal route this time, it was much better and more enjoyable. I finally felt that it was all coming together again.

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Yesterday it was lightly raining when I went out and the weather report said rain so I expected it but by the time I got to the San Mateo Bridge it was pouring and I was soaked. I usually go under and past this bridge but I had 4 and 1/2 miles to ride to get home so I headed back rather than take a chance on catching a cold. There were no wind gusts so I made good time.

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Before I got back home I stopped to photograph 2 jackrabbits that were chasing each other in the rain oblivious to me. This is the best picture I got of them and all you can see are the ears sticking up on one and the head on another. Bad weather brings the animals out they feel safe because people aren’t out in the rain. I see more animals during bad weather it doesn’t keep me from biking.

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When I got sick last week I felt that my body betrayed me, that all of my hard work biking was lost and that I’d have to start over again. Then I rediscovered what I already learned, that balance is the key to good health, mental and physical, and the weakness was in my mind not my body.

With the right balance of sleep, healthy food, exercise, and water, with a little fun thrown in, you won’t have time for depression or unhappiness. We all get sick but the better you treat your body the more resources it will have to protect you and your mind in times of stress.

Treat your body well and your mind will follow.