Monday, February 12, 2007

Two loud cracks in the back and I'm almost "right as rain"

If you've seen me lately (and I actually went to the office on Friday), you'd notice a few interesting things:
  • My right shoulder was noticeably lower than the left
  • My right shoulder would pop up when I went to raise my arm in front of me or to the side (I was barely able to get over horizontal
  • I wasn't able to turn my neck more than 50 degrees, which makes right turns in a car interesting
Then I did an experiment in the middle of last week. I laid down on the floor on my back, and felt pain across my back, including what felt like a plum-size stone under my shoulders near the base. Not fun.

Then on Thursday 2/8 I bent over to pick something up, and did it more by bending over than using the legs to squat. I heard a loud crack as all of my neck and upper back. I didn't notice a major change in the way I felt (but I was able to raise my arm 20 degrees over vertical)

Sunday 2/11 brought a new experience. I was at my desk and turned and twisted and bent over a bit to insert a DVD in my Mac Mini. I was greeted with another loud noise in my back; it was so loud that I paused for a minute or so. But then I found that I was able to raise my arm both in front and on the side. Pure excitement. I feel 100% better, and Ann can tell you that I'm smiling for the first time in a while. I'm finally feeling like I'm getting better. I've since found that the official term for this is that my back "released;" I'll take that any time.

I don't think I am out of the woods completely. I did the "lay on the floor" test just now, and I'm probably at the "right as sleet" level. I still have a few rough spots in my back, but it is lower down. Abatement of pain and mobility are both going in the right direction. Today will be an exercise in pain as start moving in ways I have not for a month. But a bit of pain to get to a better place is fine by me.

So, all in all, I keep getting better. I'm still on soft food and doing physical therapy twice a week. The scar is looking better, and my beard has finally been trimmed back. I'll post a picture soon.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Crash: What happened and how I'm doing

I'm feeling better, but not at full energy yet. But the two most common questions I get are (1) How are you feeling, and (2) What Happened?

How am I feeling? Simply stated, much better. Last week I had an MRI of my right shoulder (no injury) and neck (no injury). So, on Monday. the orthopedic doctor said that I could take the cervical collar off. Oh, was I a happy guy.Since then, I've been recovering and getting some strength up again. Thursday has been my first day of participating in work, over the phone.

I alluded to my distaste for the cervical collar in my last post. Now that I was free, it was almost burned in effigy. What I did not appreciate (until this came off) is that the collar drove me somewhat crazy, and I had strong anxiety reactions with it on. I am told that this is not uncommon. I understand why I needed it, but it turns out that I took Vycodin more for the anxiety than for the pain. I've been Vycodin-free since Monday night. I have had a few more doctor's appointments since, and I start with physical therapy on Friday. So, the toll from the crash has been (1) a red eye and 28 stitches on the face, (2) a broken bone in my face, (3) a slightly hurt left shoulder and rotator cuff irritation, (4) Torn muscles on the right side of my neck, (4) a more messed-up right shoulder, (5) a bruised/broken rib on my back (only hurts when I laugh or cough). And I'm recovering from 12 days of sleeping no more than three hours at a time.

What happened? After a bit more retrospection, the issue was that this was a trail I have come down too many times and knew what I could get away with in speed, turns, etc. What I did NOT take into account is that we'd been getting some rain lately, and that softens the ground. When I went into a turn I was going a bit too fast )I had decided to take it a bit faster than normal), and the bike went out under me (spinning out). It happened so fast that there was no chance for a recovery or a bail. The positive part of the soft ground was that it was easier on the face. When I started mountain biking, I was told "if you're not falling, you're not learning." Guess I earned my Masters degree in mountain biking and weather impacts on terrain this trip.

Gifts. I received a number of great cards and gifts from folks since I've been home. I'm grateful to all of you for thinking of me. One set of gifts does merit special notice. Cousins and nieces of ours in Wheaton, IL sent me a two-part package from Amazon. The first was a book called Bicycling Medicine by Arnie Baker (a great book). The second package was a set of training wheels. Now, I could say that this misses the point (the wheels would not have helped). I could also say that a better item would be a Downhill helmet, which would have prevented the broken bones and laceration (and possibly even the loss of consciousness).
But, still I got a very good chuckle at getting the training wheels.

In all, I'm still much happier than if I'd had another heart attack.