Archive for April, 2013

Cured!

 

Perfecto!

The nice folks at NYHQ made me not one, but two gutter splints yesterday (I turned down a third..  no joke).

One for full support, and one for playing pool and cooking.

They were wonderfully accommodating.  All my gratitude.

Now.  Off to play some pool, and see how well it works.

(getting that cast off is like getting out of jail..  man oh man.)

 

 

Gang!

 

A quick update.

Call off the dogs!  Thank you all for putting out the feelers.  Tomorrow I’ll be getting this cast off.

The doc who saw me a couple of weeks ago for my knee promptly answered my email and had the head of trauma at his hospital give me a call.  I spoke with him this morning.  It turns out that for a nightstick fracture like mine, the long arm cast is pretty old school.  He’s going to be seeing me on thursday about the possibility of surgery.  In the mean time, one of his colleagues will be seeing me tomorrow to remove the cast and fit me with a gutter splint (think custom molded shin guard, but for your arm-shins..).  This will not be bulky, and will be removable so that I can shower without the complication of having to keep a cast dry.  So I’ll have until thursday to decide whether the gutter splint is enough of an improvement over the cast.  If it’s not, we’ll be able to discuss surgery.  The doc felt that there was enough debate out there right now about the best way to treat a nightstick fracture, that it would probably be possible to get insurance to pay for the surgery.

Action!  Just one more night with this bloody cast!

The forearm is often raised to shield the head from a blow. The force of the assailant’s weapon is then dissipated on the shaft of the ulna. Injuries to the nerves, vessels, or muscles of the forearm rarely are produced. The isolated fracture of the ulnar shaft is often referred to as a nightstick fracture because so often the object striking the ulna is a wooden police club.

This from a paper challenging the efficacy of the long arm cast.  Pretty dark!

Obviously

 

I don’t have time for this shit.

A couple of weeks ago, after I blew up my ACL, my friend Seth Rosko stopped by for a visit.  He said something to the effect of, “Ha..  I love your strategy.. Fuck your body up so bad that the only way the universe can get the ironic upper hand is by letting you live!”

Those words were ringing in my ears last weekend when I had a goofy fall in the first ten minutes of a ride with MySam and dislocated my shoulder.  In some strange moment of clarity, I INSTANTLY popped it back in.  It turns out that was pretty good thinking..  the five second rule apparently applies to dislocated shoulders too!  We rode for another hour and a half without serious incident.  (It’s been pretty sore since, but hasn’t affected my pool game too much.)

Yesterday, though, I broke my arm.  Night-stick fracture of the ulna, about 7 cm from the wrist.  Complete break with no displacement.

This is all quite embarrassing.  I wasn’t even planning on mentioning the shoulder.  The thing is that after years of teaching what was essentially break dance, I fall pretty well.  Ask anyone who’s ridden with me.  For a while now, I’ve been getting away with murder.  It seems like it’s catching up with me, though.  On this particular crash, it was either my face or my forearms.  I don’t even care to discuss how those ended up being the choices.  Suffice it to say that I’m probably pretty lucky to have ended up with a broken arm..  my helmet wasn’t going to help me with this one.

We walked out.  My good friend Todd refused to let me ride.

We drove back to the city.  Bumper to bumper a good part of the way(?).  Went to the emergency room.  They got me in much faster than I would have guessed, confirmed the break, and put on a long arm cast.

“Don’t get it wet..  you’ll start to grow fungus, and we won’t be able to get in there for 6-8 weeks.. ”

“Wait..  six to eight weeks!!!??   Doc, I’m not even supposed to live that long..”

“No No” *chuckle* “you’ll be around longer than that.”

At the end of the night the same doc was taking my medical history on a piece of scrap paper..

“Any other medical issues?”

“Well.  I have stage IV metastatic rectal cancer..”

My previous statement started sinking in.

“Oh.  I’m so sorry.  Anything else?”

“Nope.  Otherwise I’m perfectly healthy.”

 

So here’s the deal.  I’m having real trouble finding the humor in this.  The discomfort is a non issue compared to the lack of function.  Right now, the things that bring me pleasure in life are riding mountain bikes, playing pool, making things, and cooking in the evening for my little family.  These are the things that keep me from going off the rails.  They are the things that make it seem to me that there aren’t enough hours in the day.  Without those things, and none of them are things that I can do with a long arm cast, I’m afraid that the days are going to start feeling pretty long.  I was awake for a good portion of the night last night.  All I came up with was playing darts.

I’m not looking for suggestions.  In fact, please don’t make any.

What I AM looking for is an orthopedic surgeon who is willing to plate my ulna so that I can loose the cast, and even if I am not able to do any weight bearing I WILL at least be able to cook and play pool.

So.  I’d like to do a little crowd sourcing.  This is not likely to be something that insurance is willing to cover, but I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.  (there ARE some indications that plating the bone in my situation is a better strategy anyway).  Being able to do the things I love for the next six weeks may be worth it to me, though.

Who do we know?

I’ve already got the feelers out with some of my team, but if you ARE the doc, or know the doc, please be in touch!

 

Fast Boy out.

Just to say.

I’m fine, just fine.

The haircut worked.  A bit.
I went for a 3 and a half hour ride at Blue yesterday and my knee held up well enough that this morning’s ride at Graham doesn’t seem like folly.  I didn’t ride WELL.  But I got it done.  A little the way I’ve been playing pool..  A bit distracted, but still managing to get the job done for the most part.  I scrambled back last week, controlling the table for 25 balls, to take J’s money after it was looking a lot like he might actually beat me.

I’ve got an appointment on thursday (I think.. not yet confirmed) to get an MRI of the knee and immediately have a consult with the doc.  If there is an obvious meniscal tear that can be cleaned up easily it might be worth doing.  Recovery time is short.  I’ve done it before.. I’ve got some idea.  The MRI will confirm an ACL rupture (or maybe not), but I’m not going to be replacing that old thing!!

Simon Firth is the official repair guy in the US for Brooks.   When he heard about the UTA and saw that I was putting a swift on it, he suggested that Brooks would probably be interested in joining the list of donors.  I told him that I already had a Ti Swift, but he got me one anyway…   and added a little treat!  Brooks. Simon.  Thank you.  Too many beautiful!

 

 

A tough string

 

Last week I had a tough string of days.

The first was a very bad Wednesday of pool.  I started out well enough, strutting to the table and running a couple of racks, but somehow I lost it. I started missing and sank into a funk.  I was really indulging in feeling sorry for myself.   Wallowing in it and for the better part of an hour never managed to string more than a couple of balls together.  I was angry, just seething, and had no idea why.  I was angry at everyone making noise..  I was angry at everyone walking by..  Finding excuses in every tiny distraction. (meanwhile, when I’m shooting well, the two guys at the next table could climb up on top of it and start having sex, and I wouldn’t even notice).  I had a realization that one of the few things that’s making me really happy these days is to be AT the table shooting well.  It is a meditation for me.  I can get lost in it.  But only when I’m playing well.  When I’m playing badly, it is the worse sort of torture.

Jeremiah felt so bad for me at the end of the day that he payed for the table (we were playing at his pool hall.. not mine).  I stayed on to see if I could work out the kinks.  The dysfunctional older couple at the table next to me, (Him trying to give her lessons on how to shoot pool..  like an EMU or some other flightless bird trying to teach a pig how to fly), had been replaced by a young Chinese guy.

“are you playing straight pool?”
“yes”
“why don’t you come over here and join me..”

It turned out that he hadn’t been playing straight pool..  didn’t know what it was..   But I taught him the rules and beat the hell out of him for 45 minutes or so just to get the bad taste out of my mouth.  (He turned out to be a nice guy.)

“What do you do,” he asked.
“Well..  I’m retired.  I used to build custom bicycles.”
“You’re retired!?”
“Um..  You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I’m terminally ill.  So I’ve decided to retire.”

He was a little stunned.  Where did I live?  Could he please give me a ride home?  Did I mind talking about it?  How did I know I was sick?

A few minutes later I found myself in the passenger seat of a Maserati doing 65 miles an hour between red lights.
“Let me ask you something..   Do you know God?”

 

The next day James Swan came and picked me and Matthew up to take us to visit J.P.Weigle in his shop up in Connecticut.  Peter is one of the old guard of American bike building.  He and Richie Sachs went over to England and learned the trade when they were kids back in the 1900s.  Peter’s shop is wonderful.  It is the accumulation of 40 years of building bikes.  Bits and pieces of bicycle history and ephemera lying all over the place.  Shelves and drawers full of items that would make most bike geeks weak in the knees.  More importantly, though, it is a shop with windows, and a wood stove..  like the wood shop that I grew up in.  It’s the kind of shop that I’ve always dreamed of ending up in.  I’m so attached to NYC that I think mine would be in the city, not the country. Maybe on the second floor so that I could do some good people watching but maintain a level of privacy.  I had a warehouse space in the Bronx lined up at one point.  A wall of factory windows and 18 foot ceilings.  I was going to build an open storage loft in the back third of the space..  and a slightly raised office area where I could sit and survey the shop.  That was before the FIRST recurrence.  I spent much of my second year of treatment scheming and planning..  Figuring out how to make my basement space work better for me, realizing that with the looming threat of recurrence, I really couldn’t afford to take on overhead.. a lease that would continue to need to be payed even if I stopped being able to show up for work.  What I’ve ended up with is a very nice shop.  But I don’t have windows..  or a wood stove.  Visiting Peter’s shop, I was reminded that I never will.

It was a melancholy visit.  Peter recently got a beautiful Linley jig borer.   A gorgeous old machine just like one that I was about to buy before this recent recurrence and prognosis.   The excitement of a new machine.  I wandered around his shop taking pictures, and thinking about how I won’t be getting any new machines..  Instead I’ll be deciding what happens to the machines I already have after I’m dead.  Fuck.  Depressing.

 

On Friday I went mountain biking.  I thought I’d test out the knee before a weekend of riding with my brother and Todd and Amy and Sam.  St. George picked me up from the train and we went up to Blue.  We started out nice and slow, but it was pretty clear to me that the knee was problematic.  Click click, grind grind.  I was so nervous about falling to the left and having to catch myself on the bad leg, that I ended up doing a lot of preemptive falling to the right.  A lot more falling in general than I’m used to.  Eventually I fell neither left nor right, but directly forward.. and hard.   The bike landed on my head.  My head broke the bike..  The ride was over.  FUCK FUCK.  It’s nothing that I won’t be able to fix.  A few broken spokes.  But it’s pretty clear that my knee isn’t ready to be out riding.  I’ve been through this plenty.  This same knee has already had an ACL replacement and TWO subsequent surgeries to clean up torn meniscus.   So I know what it all feels like.  I’m afraid that on top of the newly torn ACL, there might be some meniscus damage as well.  An ACL replacement is not a surgery that is worth doing..  If I can be frankly dark about it, I wouldn’t be likely to fully recover from the surgery before I DIE.  No point.  A little scope to clean up an irritating flap of meniscus might be worth while, though.  BUT it means waiting for an appointment with an orthopedic doc.  Getting an MRI scheduled and waiting for the results.  Getting a surgery scheduled and waiting for that.  A lot of waiting.  (I don’t have time for this shit..  it’s like a mantra..)

 

That’s a depressing post.  It was a rough patch leading into a weekend of friends and relatives in town for Easter (and a voice recital by my cousin Gracie..  My GOD what a voice).  I’m really tired in the evenings these days.  Having a hard time finding the energy to cook dinner (something that I’ve always been able to do on auto pilot), and an even harder time sitting through the meal once it’s on the table.  Clearly something isn’t right.  I am counting on this process being a roller coaster ride and not just a steady decline.  If it’s a steady decline, I’m in trouble.

Here’s what I’m going to do about it.  Today.

I’m going to head in to the pool hall and see if I can put my head down and focus.  Block out the rest and just run some balls.  Maybe I can play some decent pool and trigger an upswing here!

I’m going to be in touch with my doc and see if there’s a way to streamline the MRI process so that I can go to an orthopedist already armed with the films.

I’m going to order up the bits and pieces that I need to fix up that rear wheel, AND to get the back up wheels from Bobby Earle up and running so that if it happens again it won’t mean any down time.

Finally.  I’m going to get a hair cut.  Even if nothing else works, THAT should change everything.