P.T. Pt. 2

Yesterday’s PT was so much better than the previous two. Sure, it was painful and frustrating. But after 30 minutes, the therapist asked how I’d feel about riding a stationary bike. Mind you, I HATE stationary bikes most of the time. But since I haven’t been on a bike in a week+, I jumped  (not literally) at the chance and got a full 10 minutes in, going from 9 mph at the beginning to 14.5 at about 3 minutes in and holding it there. No resistance, but also no pain. YAY!

So now I have the “homework” assignment of 10 minutes on the stationary daily along with the stretches I was already assigned.

AND no brace unless I’m going to be walking/standing longer than an hour.

AND only one crutch, and really only if I’m going to be in a crowded place to give people cues to let me be slow and not to run into me any more than necessary. I suspect there’s a little bit of the inferred, “and walk a little slower than you normally want to…” in there, too.

Great progress. I’m happy with it.

Delayed but undeterred

So Physical Therapy isn’t my favorite thing… it’s not fun. But I guess that’s what it’s there for. I’m sore, and had to schedule two days in a row this week to get the three times the doc wanted in.

But. The GREAT thing about PT is that I am encouraged that I will heal and be back stronger and more able to finish this thing, and that isn’t just the Wonder Woman movie we watched last night talking. (Although, a great superhero/girl power movie with – dare I say it – AN ACTUAL PLOT!)

Randy is working on editing the videos of the ride so far, so hopefully we will have those up soon. Thanks for your love and support!

The verdict

You know you’re with a specialist when they take one look and say, well, we’re going to avoid an MRI if we can. Was in the doctor’s office roughly 25 minutes.

I have a sprained MCL and – effectively – early-onset arthritis. There’s a really cool term for it in the knee, but in non-doctor-ese that’s effectively what it is.

The GREAT news is the MCL is one of the ligaments that is a quick self-healer, provided you treat it right. Quick being relative, of course. That is what is causing the most severe pain. So with 4 weeks of PT (doc said to save some of my anger for them – I told him I had plenty to go around, and my “anger” is pretty benign, actually), an oral steroid to assist the healing, bracing the knee and using crutches to take some of the weight off the knee I could be back on the bike as early as July 1. Late July at the latest.

Which means – to me – I’m delayed but undeterred. I may have to figure out how to do the remaining 3,538 miles 150-200 miles at a shot instead of the 500+ per trip I’d originally planned, but I’ll get there.

Doctor Matthews says he can’t imagine me not finishing, either.

Home again

Woke up this morning in my own bed. Have been riding waves of emotion between sleep. Randy (aka the one who I have yet to deserve) texted me from work asking how many miles I ended up doing before my knee made other plans. 240 give or take. In 3 days plus roughly 30 minutes of riding.

By anybody’s count that’s more than a few. It isn’t the 500+ I’d planned. But I’m playing the, “how far is it?” game.

Long Beach to San Diego… and back

Reno to San Francisco

Pittsburgh, PA to Washington D.C.

Shelley, ID to Provo, UT

Twice the width of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, as well as Long Island

 

The entire coastline of Guam, plus the 30 miles Guam is across.

Will update when I get back from the doctor’s appointment.

In the meantime, shout out to my new friends at the Madras Emergency room – Rhonda, Lindsey, Jake, and… oh, I don’t remember the other names, I’m sorry!

If you ever find yourself in a tight spot in Madras, Oregon, they’ll take good care of you and not let you feel stupid.  Thank you so much, everyone!  Y’all were amazing.  I may have to stop in on my way past when I don’t need medical assistance.

 

Curve ball: Emergency Room visit

So instead of a nice leisurely bike ride today I thought I’d take a visit to the Emergency Room in Madras, Oregon after a very quick ride down the side of Mount Hood.

My knee “clicks” on every rotation if I’m riding uphill. After it clicks, all muscle power is cut in that leg, only to be restored when the knee straightens beyond the angle at which it clicks. It is incredibly painful and frustrating.

The nurse just left and said that since they are not a large hospital, they will most likely just say, “if it hurts when you do that, then don’t do that.” And have me see an orthopedic specialist. I’ll wait for Doctor Jones to confirm, but I’m revising the plans. Stay tuned for details.

Update:

Crutches and a knee brace until I see someone who tells me otherwise. And NO CYCLING. How’s that for a plot twist?

Day three: Mount Hood

Full disclosure: I did today in “reverse”, 3/4 of it. Turns out I am not invincible. 5 minutes in I knew I wasn’t making 44 miles of uphill. I’m not injured, but 200 miles on a bike takes its toll on the derrier, and the angle I sit when climbing creates more friction than downhill. So I chose to change the plan slightly and get today’s miles finished from the planned end-point: Government Camp, Oregon.

Randy graciously picked me up in Boring City (yes, it’s a real town) and we headed up the mountain.

Where it was 50 degrees. So after a quick trip to an outfitters store that was having a buy-one-get-one-free sale where I got two pairs of long pants and adding Randy’s jacket under my neon, I headed down. The first five miles down flew by. Nothing like a 6% grade to do that. Don’t worry mom, I was as careful as you want me to be.

Anyway there were still some sizeable climbs, but 44 more miles are done and dusted. Oh, and I did them in the rain. Light rain, yes, but I was effectively soaked all day.

I haven’t spent nearly enough time in this blog saying how much I appreciate Randy – his patience and love are legendary. He leapfrogged me down the mountain today to make sure I was okay.

Time for a bath and sleep.

 

Day two – for Mark

My friend Mark Petersen died today.  Mark is an incredible man who leads a microloan organization called Mentors International. He is generous with praise, love, and friendship. I had heard Mark wasn’t doing well and planned to ride in his honor. As always, he didn’t let me down. It was a solid ride with mostly subtle climbs and slight coasts. The predicted “mostly sunny” didn’t happen until I got to Portland: a much-appreciated blessing. After the sun came out, though, my legs, though not in pain, just didn’t want to move very fast. The right foot has been cranky, and instead of the clip on that pedal, I rode 2/3 of it with one tennis shoe. It helped, but when you’re not clipped in you lose 1/2 of the power since the push/pull action is cut. Which makes the other leg work harder.

Anyway, back to Mark. Chris Jones and I did a loan with Mark a few years back, and closing it was nothing short of a miracle. We worked our guts out to do it. A few months later I was having a rough day and Randy took me to the movies. When we exited the theater Mark was sitting on a bench outside talking with his adult son. I said hello and introduced Randy to him. Mark spent close to 5 minutes telling Randy how wonderful I am. It was humbling to see this great man take a few minutes of time that he had been spending with his family regaling a stranger with complimentary stories about his wife.

Becky, you and your family are in my heart and prayers. I know you know that Mark is loved and appreciated greatly.

Day one down, 48 to go.

We learned a few things today.

1. Start time is sacred. Even one extra minute in bed is not worth what I’m going to have to go through when it’s 8,000,000 degrees outside and I’m exhausted. (Okay, 86. But try climbing an 900 foot hill on a bike with zero shade in 86 degrees. It feels like your lungs are actually on fire.)

2. Super-small towns are polarizing, and not in a good way.

3. 93 miles is a freaking long way. Yes, I’ve done 102 before. This was tougher than the 102.

4. I’m braver than I imagined. Randy said the other day if I don’t have to battle anxiety anymore after this whole thing is over, he thinks it will be worth it. I had moments of sheer terror – I might blog about that sometime, but right now I’m hoping to forget.

5. My biggest problem with this ride isn’t likely to be my legs. The legs only scream on the extreme uphill. My feet cry at 60 miles in, and they don’t stop crying until the shoes come off for good that day.

Bottom line is that I made it. The first third was foggy and cool, and perfect.

Happy Someday, everyone. Life is good. I’m happy tomorrow is rest day.

Six Days

The other day as I was having a couging fit, I realized I was about to hit single-digits in the countdown, and the coughing fit got even more heightened.

Six days is not very many.  I’ve been in double-digits for months.  It has felt very far away.  It feels very, very real today.

And what of it?  Am I afraid? No, that’s not the right word.  Anxious, maybe.  Excited certainly.  Ready?  Um… yes, while this cold has forced me to rest more than I’d intended, I believe I am ready.  My bicycle has been tuned up and it is ready.  I will spend several hours, I’m anticipating, making sure I don’t leave any important components behind when we leave.

I also feel more at peace with my progress than I thought I would at this stage.  I’m heavier than I wanted to be when I left, but that doesn’t get to be something that holds me back at this point.  It is where I am, not who I am.  Just another step on the journey.