Sunday, December 24, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
First Week at Work Wrap-Up
The past week has been a continuous challenge.
Monday I had Physical Therapy in the morning and even though it wasn't much (I exercised with pink, 3lb dumbells, not manly) my arms were whipped and my back was so knotted that I went home, took some muscle relaxers and crashed. It was a downer because I had planned to go back to work that day but it just didn't happen. I woke up in time to go to the MMTRI and come home and crash again.
Tuesday I had to take my wife to the hospital to get her eye injection. Fortunately for me the Optometry staff hadn't mixed her medicine and so she didn't get the injection. This was fortunate for me because she was able to do all the driving. While at Walter Reed (the area's Army Medical Center) I went back to the orthopedist I saw last week to get him to finish filling out my temp handicap parking application. Last week he signed the application but didn't put the rest of the info MVA requires; med liscense #, state of issue, exp date. The reception staff was completely unhelpful and were obviously trying to get me to 'just go away' without saying it that way. But because I am worthy, a beautiful nurse named Geri spoke up and asked to see my papers. In about five minutes she got the info that no one else at Walter Reed would help me with. Reader, this would have saved me about an hour of wasted time at the MVA last Friday and mucho aggravation that afternoon. I understand that the Dr's info is Privacy Act information (the MVA really does check it out), I was just frustrated because his failure meant wasted time for me, extra time and effort while I have trouble getting around, lack of access to parking and caused me to have to make a second, unplanned trip to see him. I am jealous of where and how I expend my energy because I have less of it right now and wasting it drives me bananas. Then my beautiful wife let me thank her for all the work she has had to do by letting me get her some new bath towels. I like them too and she really has been nice to me. Thanks, Isa. Then I went home and crashed.
Wednesday was good but it was long. I worked all day! Because the agency doesn't let you park in handicap spots unless you register with them, I had to crutch in about half a mile. It took me about 25 minutes from car to desk and about 7-8 stops in the parking lot but I made it and I made it back to the car after work. I went to physical therapy and exercised with the red band (up from yellow) and had a nice chat with Maj Mason who works at the clinic. She's been on the Armed Forces Cycling Team and rides for a shop in Baltimore competing on the cyclocross circuit (wow!). She is quite nice and we have stuff to chat about thanks to the bikes. After therapy I went to the MVA and finally got my handicap permit, then picked up my daughter at school, took her to the MVA (different location) and then took her to get her new car.
That was long enough but then came the high point of the day. I stopped at costco to get some roast chicken for dinner. Unfortunately Costco didn't have any of those motorized carts so I had to grab a cart and with crutches under one arm, and cart in the other hand, very slowly make my way to the back (where the chickens are). Then, Michelle from MMTC came to my rescue! With two very beautiful, very small, very hungry and very well-behaved young daughters, she went way out of her way to push my cart all the way to the back for chicken and salad, up to the counter to pay and then out to my car! She and her hungry, lovely and sweet children really made my day. Thank you, ladies! Note: That's not me she's blowing kisses to!
After that I was finally able to get a haircut, put gas in the car and go home. I don't know what time I crashed, but crash I did.
Thursday. After I crutched in (remember, the office jealously controls who parks in handicap spots) and even though I now had a state issued tag, it's not enough for the bureaucrats) for 25 minutes, I spent a good day at work. I did notice that I don't drink and eat much and don't have to get up to go to the bathroom as much. I wasn't concious of it until I left work. After that I had to go to the gym where the Navy is innoculating all active duty. Oddly enough, after a 25 minute crutch from the office to my car, and a drive over to the gym I found that there are no handicap spots at the gym. So another longish crutch-walk followed. I was tired and sweaty when I finally got my vaccination. By the time I made it home the virus was already at work. I was achy and hot and crashed without even making it to dinner.
Friday. Today is Veteran's Day and I don't have to work. I'm still feeling the flu a little but hopefully I'll be able to sleep it off today. At least I don't have work. :)
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Specialized Optics Game
Therapeutic Bike Shopping
Melissa tried a couple of wsd road bikes and selected a sweet, Specialized Ruby Comp. Ladies, 'tis a tasty morsel of carbon frame goodness. She looked great rolling around the parking lot, the bike fit right away.
These pics are from a Treo 600 and the resolution is low. Sorry about the fuzziness.
That was pretty fast. The lady knew what she wanted and made up her mind without dithering. Then came the real fun. Melissa, who claimed to have never ridden a mountain bike, got on a Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp Women's and took it out. For the guys out there, I was big jealous of this bike, full suspension, adjustable shock and disc brakes. As soon as she straddled the big black and pink machine, a gleam of pleasure in her eye and a smile of joy that wouldn't come off her face became the hallmarks of this test ride.
When you look at these pics they are in a sequence. M. starts by giving the bike a few grassy slopes to play on. Then she hit the curbs and I don't mean 1-inchers that a road bike could take, I mean 4-5 with an uphill on the other side. Within minutes, she was looking for the steepest berms she could find, more grass and then she totally wowed us.
With me and Ryan from Princeton as witnesses, this Melissa cum Monster started bombing down the steps in front of the store with a car parked at the bottom! I was blown away by her enthusiasm and daring with no mountain bike experience. Notice that the parked cars are in different spots thanks to customers coming and going. The 'Monster' didn't blink and probably could have brought the bike in between two parked cars without scratching them if the handlebars were a little narrower. I've never seen someone be that aggressive on a first ever ride like that.
After excitement like that, there was no way she could stop the smiles!
And there was no way she would go home without a shiny new toy. Not just one, but both bikes on the stand now belong to the monster in blue!
She haggled, wheeled and dealed and went out the door with so much new gear that she needed another car to haul it all ('cause my wheelchariot was in the back seat). Bikes, bottles, pumps, racks, this lady got it all!
A quick stop at Dawn's place to pick up our third triathlete and we went for some sushi and a nice chat while M. came down from the high of getting new stuff. It was a really nice time and they let me go when my drugs started making me sleepy.
I had a really good time with Melissa and I needed to get out. I had been pretty cranky on Friday and my very patient wife graciously decided not to kill me that night, but she was plenty happy to have me gone for the afternoon. Thanks Melissa for taking me out with you, thanks Dawn for coming with and mostly thanks Isa for putting up with my grouchy, non-exercising, endorphin-depleted and seratonin-imbalanced ass.
Friday, November 03, 2006
I Have a Friend
Riders, drivers have to learn to be on the road together
On Oct. 18, a friend, fellow athlete and board member of Columbia-based Mid-Maryland Triathlon Club was riding his bicycle along Route 108 when a vehicle turned in his path. The impact crushed the front of the SUV, smashed its windshield and destroyed the bicycle.
Life for him, his wife and his children changed instantly. He was not the only person affected; the person who hit him will bear emotional scars forever.
The same features that make Howard County a great place to live (peaceful countryside and beautiful, rolling hills), also make this a great place to bike. Route 108 and Homewood Road are two roads most often shared by bicycles and vehicles. As a cyclist, I know we're out there to improve skills, clear the mind and challenge ourselves. We all do these things, in one way or another.
I urge drivers to share the road with cyclists. We're just out there to find a peaceful and productive moment. Don't be in such a rush to get to your own peaceful and productive moments that someone else's life becomes jeopardized.
I urge all cyclists to wear bright colors, and carry your ID and medical insurance information.
Let's all get home safely.
I honestly can't think of a nicer thing to do for anyone than to speak on their behalf.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Feeling Like a Chicken
You may have felt that I am coming back pretty quickly from my recent driver vs. cyclist competition. Previously I would have said you were correct but yesterday I was pretty much whipped like gimp from Pulp Fiction. I know you are disappointed to find out just how human I felt and I assure you, I was not that happy about it either.
Before the impact I had the strength of ten men (because my heart is pure) but now I am down to maybe strength of two. I'll still wrestle crocodiles but not with my Steve Irwin (still the man) -like vigor.
Yesterday was only the second day since I came back from the hospital that I haven't had to 'do' something. I took my medicine (with a spoonful of sugar) and went back to bed within an hour of waking each time. I have been trying to be awake during the season's waning hours of daylight but yesterday was a rest day.
I got up at 0700 (I rarely sleep later than that unless I really work at it) and was stiffer and more sore than Friday, 20 October, after I came back from the hospital. Part of the reason was that I spent all Friday morning at the Doc's office seeing nurses (they love me), x-ray techs (dudes who just want to see me with my shirt off), physical therapists (dude who wants to touch me once the shirt is off). What can I say? More popular than a rock star.
After a morning of wheeling myself around the medical facility, Isa picked me up and we went to get some of her scripts (the pills that make her feel better make the rest of us feel better too!). The pharmacy was out so we went for a cuppa at Caribou and I started feeling tired. I spent too much energy on my fans at medical. I couldn't even finish my very masculine pumpkin pie latte. I did eat all my chocolate chip cookie (so I could take meds). Thank goodness my gorgeous wife was driving because I was sleeping on the way home.
That evening I got in indulge in my much enjoyed geek-night. Pizza and Sci-fi Friday. Hey, I don't play D&D or Everquest or dress up for Renaissance fairs or any of that other stuff. But I still like Dr. Who and Eureka and Stargate. Hey, you probably watch ER or Lost or Gilmore Girls or something.
Here's a pleasant memory that just surfaced. When I got into the emergency room I remember being rolled onto my right side. Somebody claimed to be a doctor and I heard the snap of a glove. That's a real punctuation mark on a conversation. Next thing I heard was, "There are three nerves that end in your anus and I have to check to make sure you still have feeling there. Are you OK with that?" At that point I really wondered what would have happened if I said, "Trust me, I feel fine and there is no need for you to spit me like a cornish game hen on Food Network." So now you know that they really check everything. I would have thought the facts that I felt him tap every vertebrae in my spine, I could wiggle my toes and fart would have been enough.
Back to muscle relaxants and Motrin.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Manhandled By Inertia
Today Shaun (now to be known as Jimmy Olsen, Boy Photographer after his great shots at the scene) brought over some pumpkin bread. He didn't make but he did bring me some great pineapple that really hit the spot. Of things to bring a bud after he was hit by a car, pineapple would have been about as high on my list as a toilet plunger (I'm not an original thinker) but I totally scarfed it all as soon as no one was looking. I'm a binge eater and I eat alone...somebody get me a 12-step program.
About the pumpkin bread. This too is premium stuff. I can taste the spike of ginger, the mellow of pumpkin, the homey flavor of nutmeg and the bitter crunch of walnuts. And while I was eating I am pretty sure that I could taste the strong, sexy hands of a woman thinking about me while she kneaded the dough. Working the ingredients in so that they all blended into the sweet, brown mixture that she thrust into her hot, hot oven of baking. Mmmmmmm, sweet, hot and sooo tasty with butter melting into the crevices. That's good bread. And I really hope it came from Dawn and that I wasn't actually tasting Shaun's uhhh, strong whatever.
My co-workers...the people at the office who work. To say that they are co-workers implies that I too work. The truth is I go to the office because there isn't any good TV on during the day and my DVR is empty by 0300. It gives me a place to be. I have to thank them for a card with some amusing comments. The funniest (to me) was a woman I called the wrong name who signed that wrong name and crossed it out. It brought home how the mental gymnastics of actually remembering peoples names is beyond me sometimes. There isn't any apparent rhyme or reason, I could not remember Shaun's name at the accident and I almost screwed it up again this afternoon. He called me on it too. But that's when I whipped out my "Accident, Draw 4" card and totally blew him away when I declared "UNO! In yer face!" And then I went out.
Anyway, the folks I work with. Sorry, I get distracted by bright shiny things. They sent over a very nice card and a gift cert for a local restaurant. I was so happy I danced a little in my head and maneuvered deftly with my wheel-chariot. Later, I was looking at the menu that was included with the card and noticed there was a second gift certificate to another restaurant (you thought I was going to say to the same restaurant, didn't you?). If I was pleased before, I was absolutely speechless after. If I had not already been seated I would have sat. As it was, I sat. And there wasn't anyone around to talk to anyway, so I got lucky four times (2 cards + already seated + speechless not a problem). Thank you, folks! I am humbled by your generosity and the next time the birthday card fund raiser comes around I won't make change from a one anymore. And even though I'm pretty sure some of you are walleyed, cornstalk crazy, I now hold a special little part of my heart open for you. It's in the left ventricle and as soon as I find the correct tiny pen I will inscibble all 20 or so of your names.
List of thank yous:
- Shaun for pics, pineapple and this gem, "You did some damage to that car, 190 pounds at 22 mph is a lot of momentum." (He is an engineer by training.)
- Seth for doing a lot of running around at the time of the accident, talking to all the right people and looking out for us all.
- The driver (I will not reveal the name) who sent me flowers and spoke to my daughter to let her know that even though this was a sanctioned hit by a shadowy pseudo-governmental organization with no oversight, it wasn't personal. NO! I'm kidding...it's not pseudo. But my daughter really appreciated the call.
- The Office for more food than I can eat during a day of TV and X-box. Much love g's. Shout out to ya, money! (If the lingo is confusing get Eric to explain that to you.)
- Dawn who made the loaf that Shaun dropped at my house. It was actually two loaves and we have eaten most of one already. There may be some for breakfast tomorrow but I make no promises. Hey, happy birthday to ya also. You have really come a long way this year!
- All of ya'll who make comments on this blog and make me smile!
- All the love from the club, the family, the friends, etc (tear, 'you had me at hello' sniff sniff).
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Gather round children and I'll tell you the tale of "El Chupacamino."
So there we were. Three intrepid triathletes going on an afternoon training ride in deepest, darkest planned suburbia. MMTC teammates Seth, Shaun and I left Shaun's place at 3:52 PM for a beautiful ride. The weather couldn't have been better. Clean, warm air. Bright sunshine. Good company.
This is where I skip all the crap that Jellyfish would linger on and move ahead almost 70 minutes and 20 miles. At the early afternoon hour of 5:03 PM I was hit by a car. Seth, Shaun and I had just turned onto 108 from the Homewood light and were a scant six tenths of a mile from that light. I was about 50 feet behind the guys. When traveling quickly, we were doing about 22mph; I prefer not to be too close, (brace for the irony) in case I need to stop.
The guys went. I went. The car went. I went heels over tip (a view you don't have too many times on a bike). The car stopped. I stopped. That's the meat of the story.
I remember thinking, "Uh-oh, this is going to hurt." To my audience, I apologize for the lack of original panic thoughts. Next time I plan to have something prepared. Something that captures the urgency of the moment in a succinct, pithy and amusing way. I don't know what it will be but to do all that in a split second was beyond me at that moment. I know, you think, "Grant, you failed to plan and therefore should have planned to fail." I sagely reply with a knowing glint in my eye, "But I had my helmet and gloves on." Read some indignation into that. You deserve it after that last bit.
As I lay, curled as nearly into the fetal position as my body could manage on the friction heavy surface that is asphalt, I checked to make sure my toes could move and I wiggled my fingers as well. When everything at least wiggled, I felt enough relief to vocalize my joy thus, "Uhhhhn." There was a lot of noise, I was groaning, women were crying, men gave into manly expressions of dismay. Hey! Don’t get all distracted; this was the scene of an accident, not 007 scoring with a babe.
I bounded to my feet and to the rapturous cries of the much relieved crowd, leapt astride my faithful red bike, Ren, we pedaled to victory and acclaim. No, not really, but you were hoping weren't you?
I remember being asked if anyone should be called and I said Seth because I couldn't remember Shaun's name. Sorry, amigo, always an accident victim, never just the first friend called. Someone put my phone (still working like a proverbial Timex) in my hand and I thumbed on Seth's number. He and Shaun were already turning back, thinking they had dropped me (sheeah! as if) when the call came at the same time the flashing lights and sirens went by them. Well, I said I would finish first. Were you being attentive? There was some more irony there. Wouldn't want you to miss it.
I was asked my name a few times. Someone cut off my amazingly cool Salsa jersey (that still hurts) and my heart rate monitor strap. I haven't seen either since. The medics wisely left my shorts uncut, preventing jealous anger from the men and breathless fainting from the women in the crowd. I remember Shaun holding out his cell phone to take a picture and Seth saying he had called my family. I don't remember an ambulance. I do remember the helicopter interior but thanks to some truly sporty neckwear I was unable to appreciate the beautiful scenery of downtown Baltimore during rush hour from the air.
While I was enjoying the modern marvel of smooth air travel, my trusty cohorts were leaping into action. The twin Tontoes to my Lone Ranger remounted their (to my knowledge) unnamed and matching steeds and sped gingerly back to Shaun's place where we started. After the bold duo fearlessly called everyone they could think of, they went to pick up my wife at work and foregoing their own comfort (and that of everyone else) skipped showers. Without even time to eat they drove up to Shock Trauma and were waiting to see me as I lay on a gurney, supine and covered with a mix of asphalt, windshield glass and my own blood.
I napped a good bit in the emergency room. I was prevented from more exciting pursuits by the previously mentioned neck brace, which I was fairly sure I didn't need. At some point my man-sexy cycling shorts were cut from my loins. While in emergency, I was given the instruction that I needed to empty my bladder so they could do a CT scan however they wouldn't let me drink anything. Oh irony, thy name be Yossarian (from Catch 22 for the non-readers out there). My lips actually got chapped but apparently I was getting enough fluid through the IV tube.
Urinating was also one of the boxes to be checked on a list before they would let me leave the emergency ward. To facilitate this I was handed a plastic jug that I could place under my bed sheet. I had to ask for a curtain to be drawn. 'But Grant, you regally assured, paragon of manhood, why would you need a curtain?' That, dear reader, is a good question. I say to you that years of having highly trained and ferociously armed monitors observing me urinate safely for the Navy of the United States, in the defense of democracy, have nearly removed all barriers to urination that I craved as a scrawny lad. Privacy? Bah! Empty bladder? A trifle.
Yet, being naked, under sheets, with a neck brace and an audience while flat on my back and dehydrated slowed me down for nearly an hour. Rest easy, gentle folk. I am old enough to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, so to speak. The benefit of my knowledge led me to immediately tell the nurse to wait a bit. She, being a patient woman, agreed and I went work.
I centered myself. This is different from rounding on myself, which I do when inebriated and catch myself making an ill-advised decision. Through centering, a technique I learned from a trio of bald monks with saffron-colored robes and small drums at the airport in San Diego, allowed me to transcend the temporal plane and mentally transport myself away from the plastic bottle under the sheet and into a pool of tepid water and quiet breezes drifting across my face while I chanted the mantra they taught me. "Hairy, hairy…hairy crisp nuts!" Thank you my monastic friends, success was mine.
At various points during this experience my hip was stitched by a trainee, my sore knee was examined by a ham-handed intern and I was x-rayed and Cat-scanned from tip to toe.
The next morning I awoke to find my gorgeous and gentle wife wiping my face with a moist towel. She was leaning over me in a manner that displayed her flawless smile and large, soft eyes. Her tender and soothing ministrations aroused me into full wakefulness and we were able to discuss how bravely I had cried like a five year-old getting a first haircut when the doctor with the hands of a construction worker couldn’t figure out how to do stitches.
I was left unfed until noon on the off chance that maybe someone wanted to operate on my hip. On the positive side I was visited by three Physical Therapy nymphs throughout the day. Ahh, Kelly, Crystal and some lovely young woman of truly stunning proportions whose name I don't know if I heard. I learned from them the mystical skills of using a claw to put on socks and pants, and perambulation with crutches. Most interestingly, I learned that the belts they wore could be used to pull a tired triathlete into the soft, safe embrace of their lithe yet powerful arms.
I glossed over the provender from the hospital and it is best left that way. I would have preferred damp crackers and fermented soybeans to the fetid offerings of the cafeteria.
At about nine in the evening I was released into the gentle embrace of my gorgeous, nubile wife. Her raven tresses glistened under the soft glare of the 200-watt halogen bulbs that circled the drop-off/pick-up loop at the hospital's door. She was accompanied by my beautiful and intelligent daughter and after they helped me into our family's stately Honda Odyssey and I was carried to our gracious manse on picturesque Fort Meade. At home I was greeted by my lovely, talented eldest daughter who, with my sweet, sprightly youngest daughter had remained home in order to prepare a meal and hang garlands and banners of welcome. Ahh, could any man be as lucky as I?
My most grateful and heartfelt thanks go to Shaun and Seth. Two esteemed companions and club members who could not have been better friends to my family and me. They looked out for us, helped when we needed it and when I came home they mocked me, gave me cake, regaled me stories of how disgusting their own injuries had been and how mine didn't really measure up and presented me with a lovely new pink helmet. In other words, they really lifted our spirits!
Thank you to Kin Tse, Senior Chief of the United States Navy. He kept me company, helped me climb stairs and has been truly generous with time and efforts beyond expectations.
The damage was mostly on my left side and includes a broken acetabulum (a name for a hip bone that is pronounced 'ass uh tab yuh lum' but faster), severely bruised left knee and sprains throughout my shoulders, chest and upper back. People all want to know if I got good drugs. The answer is 'no.' I am allergic to opioids (codeine, percoset, etc.) which makes my heroin habit especially tough. I got Robaxin (a decent muscle relaxant that goes down nicely with a double of Famous Grouse) and acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naprosyn for pain. That's right, get hit by a car and you too can go home with lovely parting gifts of Tylenol, Advil and Naproxen.
I have crutches, a wheelchair and a walker that I didn't have before Thursday. Yay.
The Big Hit
This is the car that was unfortunate enough to be in my way. Yep, it looks like my head took out a chunk where the mirror would have been. I'm between the car and the medics.
First notice that the carbon fork was completely broken. I saw a piece of it while I was in the emergency room. Made me feel so happy, they had to strap down my dancing feet. My brand (and I mean brand-spankin') new Salsa skewers were only mildly scratched, I hope they are still straight. The wheel is a loss but both tires and tubes are intact. In the first pic, right above the 'r' in Bontrager there is a small grey piece of something...the other car, maybe?
In the next two shots, you can see how Ren (my bike) tried to move to the right to let that car get by. Valiant effort but it only succeeded in bending the top and down tubes to the right. The fourt pic shows mangled aero-bars. The right bar is completely snapped. In the fifth, you can see how my forearm is bruised where the armrest was (note that the pad is curled up in a very non-factory way). The helmet held together pretty well. It was scuffed on the reflective tape and the shell, there were a couple of cracks on the left back part, but no chunks or total separations. That was my second Pneumo and I'll get a third. (I've also broken a Specialized but when it was time to replace it, the local guys didn't have it in my size)
First pic I'm at the top, curled up. That's how I woke up the first time. This picture is after the medics had CUT OFF my classic Salsa jersey. They don't make those jerseys anymore guys! The second, also at the scene, has a good visual of my left arm road rash. Did you see the puddle on the macadam? Notice my heart rate monitor strap in that picture? No, I know you didn't, that's because, just like the classic Salsa jersey, the hrm strap was a victim of the medics' shears. Guys, that strap's gonna cost me about $40 and the jersey I can't even find on E-bay, but I love ya'.
Next are stitches in my left left thigh, a shot of my left arm after Nurse Ratchett (just kidding) scrubbed it clean.
Fifth is a view from the top of my left knee. Most of the impact was on my left side and my knee really shows it. These pics were at three days and even after four days it is still so swollen I can't bend my knee. Sixth is a side by side comparison, no weight on the left leg and some swelling can be seen in my calf too. The seventh highlights how my leg tried toblock Rens' top top tube when he tried to dodge the car. I really need to try and sync up the whole body/bike experience. Maybe next time I'll work out the whole 'dodge' thing.
Finally are a couple of pics of my head and neck. It's pretty plain that I was wearing a Giro Pneumo helmet with straps. My super-cool, polarized, anti-fog, prescription sunglasses are history but the memory lives on in the corner of my eye. It matches the eliptical bruise above my eye.
I'm going to try to put the x-rays of my hip up so everyone can view the break. The orthopedists decided it didn't need surgery so there isn't an obvious external indicator of the break.