Sunday, October 28, 2007

Riding up that hill.

The bike arrived yesterday!

My butt hurts today.

This is a good thing, right?

Here is one thing I can tell you: it makes an enormous difference to ride a bike that fits. I say that because although I love my old bike, a classic steel Pinarello, the top tube was 54 cm, which, according to bike fits I have had done, was several too long. My new bike has "women-specific geometry" (I wish I could have taken that class in high school--essentialism taken to the next level!), which means, in short, that it fits me. Not only does this mean that I do not have to stretch my arms out as far to reach the handlebars, but also the saddle works the way it is supposed to: the pressure of my bodyweight falls on my sitbones instead of, well, my special place.

How did I clock so many miles on the old bike?????

Today the PP and I went out from our house towards Paris Mountain. There is a great course from town that goes over the mountain, and there is also a "bypass," which avoids that big climb by snaking along the humps along the "base" of the mountain. Emphasis on humps, which felt like mountains to my out-of-shape legs (and lungs). There was a marathon going on in town today, too, and on the way out we saw runners at about the 19-mile mark. They were looking pretty tired, and I kept wishing they did not have to go up the hille we had just come down. And by the end of our ride, I was definitely feeling like I looked like those runners had.

(We did not have as many spectators on our ride,
and I am no longer comfortable with this kind of drafting.)

But still: it felt great to be on the bike. (Well, OK, except for during some of the uphills and when we would realize that not only had we lost the course-guiding paint markings on the pavement, but to get back to it we had to go up that descent we had just made.) It felt terrific to be doing an actual sport, even if at a beginner level. And I loved getting out of breath doing something fun.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Waiting Game.

It turns out there is something stranger, or maybe equally strange but in an exciting new way, than having surgery 5 hours after you learn you need it. And that is scheduling surgery and then waiting around for a month for it to happen.

Sure, I can plan ahead. And I mean that sentence two ways, because People, if there is one thing I am good at it is planning ahead! I plan my social calendar so far in advance that I feel like a dork. I plan my classes. I plan my week's workout schedule, and then plan meals around it. I plan out how I will spend each day of my vacation. Plan plan plan.

I tried to stop doing this late in the summer when I realized it was keeping me from living the now. "STOP PLANNING" said a sticky note on my computer monitor. I tried to, for a while.

Now I am a planning fiend again, but especially trying to plan ahead for the surgery.

So why do I still collapse in despair and frustration and anxiety at the end of the day? Cannot seem to plan out how to deal with those feelings, can I?

But Pre-Op Stage One Point Three is including Planning For Not Wearing Clothes That Must Be Put On Over the Head. I have bulked up my supply of cardigans, and my dear mother is lending/sending me some t-shirts that button up the front, after convincing me that installing a zipper into some old t-shirts might not fly. (Thanks, Mom!)

But amidst this flurry of frantic planning (read: denial), I still read blogs, so I came across this, from Magpie. That brought back memories of the weeks immediately after my last surgery, when I had daily appointments with nurses and physical therapists, and more therapy to do away from the appointments, and drugs to infuse, and pain meds and anti-nausea pills to keep track of (I had a lengthy log...), prune juice to drink..... You see what I mean.

So can I be forgiven this time for a bit of this ├╝berplanning? after all, for a few weeks in November and December, I may be trying to hold down two full-time jobs.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pre-Op, Phase One.

A psychologist friend of mine used to prescribe retail therapy for depression and cleaning therapy for anxiety. Not a bad drug, really, that latter one, and it has precious few dangerous side effects to be noted in the fine print or by that reassuring voice on the TV commercials.

(Side note: does anyone know where I can get the results for that study that showed that the Restless-Legs Syndrome drug can lead to strong gambling and sexual urges?)

Anyway, now that I have the surgery scheduled, I am trying to think about other things. But still: having more that 4 hours notice this time means that I can do some planning ahead, so that the whole thing does not catch me with loads of dirty laundry or no clean presentable pajamas or no food in the house. Here is where the cleaning therapy comes in: let's make this house spotless, shall we?

First we reorganize my study. Perhaps "reorganize" is the wrong word, because it suggests that the items in question had some organization in the first place, where in reality mostly they were only participating in the Piles System, which only proves viable in the short term, in my experience. Anyway, now books are sideways on shelves, instead of in stacks, except for those that I am actively reading: Jim Longenbach's Stone Cottage, Brock Clarke's An Arsonist's Guide to Writers Homes in New England, Courtney Martin's Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, and Dave Eggers's You Shall Know Our Velocity. (This list does not count the books in process that live in my bedroom, but trust me that I am not the sort to be reading only one book at a time. Or only four.)

And I have admitted to myself that the stuff I was writing back in August is on hold again for a while, so all the appropriate xeroxes and library books have been refiled. Sigh.

And some of the books that I rarely conult (such as my Turkish-English dictionary...) are upstairs in another bookcase.

Now my desk contains only the things I still need to do (articles to evaluate for journals, papers for conferences, files to process) and the old dining room table that we are going to sell is free of piles of books and old copies of The Chronicle of Higher Ed and all those things that tend to collect in one's workspace when we are not looking.

Given that I am manic-depressive about my clutter, this is a process that I have to go through from time to time, and by the time I have to do it, I want to do it. But this time was a little different, because I suspect it is also the first phase of my Pre-Op. I am also beginning to think about what I might need to have around for my recovery. Books are covered, as in addition to those in process now, I have an immense collection of books to read, so assuming that I can avoid enough pain meds to focus, I am all set there. More urgently, I am wondering if I might need some reward yarn, and whether to buy it before the surgery or wait until I have made it through (probably the latter, though I'll have to bribe a friend to take me to the yarn store).

Phase Two of the Pre-Op comes next weekend (I hope), because I decided finally to get a new bike. Although I have gotten a lot of mileage out of my old one, it is too big for me (what happens when you buy a used bike from a guy...) and so I rarely want to buy it. The new plan is to try diversifying my athletic pursuits in order to prevent (or at least minimize) further overuse injuries, and because I HATE RUNNING, cycling seems the better choice. So stay tuned for details and photos of the pretty new machine.

I'll have to end this here: I have more laundry and swiffing to do.....

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Museums: cemeteries!

The Futurists and vandals among you might be interested in this little stunt.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Is it "Happy Birthday" or "Happy Thanksgiving"?

OK: it's official. In the latest installment of "My Shoulder Sucks: A Melodrama," I have a surgery scheduled for 20 November to fix the damned thing. Happy birthday to me. OR is it Happy Thanksgiving? It will fall smack in between, so why not both?

You might be wondering what exactly is wrong with my shoulder (I am too...). Apparently there is a tear in the labrum, and as I understand it, it is a SLAP lesion. (Read here about shoulder anatomy and labral tears.) This kind of tear will not fix itself; I have been trying to use physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder, in hopes that that might take the pressure off the labrum and get rid of the pain.

But as I have thought more about this, and spoken with my PT, I realize that really it is not so much a question of whether surgery is needed, but when. So now it is scheduled.

I understand that while this is typically an outpatient surgery, I will be kept over one night, on IV antibiotics, to stave off a recurrence of the infection horror.

It is interesting: I can type this post without losing my mind in anxiety. That was not true on 21 September when my doctor first mentioned the prospect of surgery. This itself is progress.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Later that same day...

Wow. It turns out you can spend a lot of time goofing around on Ravelry--I mean, updating your projects, posting photos, etc. If you're on there, swing by and see my groovy stuff! I thought athletes were the most anal users of spreadsheet record keeping, but it turns out they have nothing on the knitters!

And you thought my posting has been scant thus far....

I got this message in my e-mail inbox today: "frecklegirl has invited you to Ravelry!"

Small victories.

On Thursday I was supposed to travel to New York for a meeting. Thanks to some nasty weather in the northeast, and resulting delayed flights, I cancelled my trip and went to swim practice instead.

So there.

And a good decision it turned out to be: we did a set that we have done many times called "Maintain Distance." First we swim for 5:10 and keep track of our distance. Then we rest for about 30 seconds. Then we swim again, this time for 5:05, and we try to swim as far or further than we did the first time. Then, after 30 more seconds of rest, we swim again, this time for 5 minutes, and try again to beat or maintain our previous distance. The main set for the practice is two rounds of this, with about 3 minutes in between.

I probably do not need to tell you that I did all of this kick. The first round I did kicking on my back with big fins, and the second round I did on my stomach with my little cup-shaped fins and snorkel.

As we were swimming the first round, I remembered that we had done this some time before during my all-kick period. When I got home, I looked in my workout journal and found it: 8 February. Apparently I did not blog that practice, but I see from my journal that on that night I did the first round with big fins and the second with no fins (Lord, help me!). My distances then were:

8 Feburary 2007
ROUND 1: 325 / <350>350 = 1025
[75 easy]
ROUND 2: <225>225 / >>225 = 675

11 October 2007
ROUND 1: <350>350 / 375 = 1075
[75 easy]
ROUND 2: 250 / 275 / 300 = 825

The information for round 2 is not really comparable, since I used different apparatus the two different times, but the info for round 1 is, and seeing a little improvement there is heartening, particularly since the first set of data is from before my surgery and period of laid-up-ness.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Yesterday I had a conversation with a student who has missed five out of fourteen classes. You might think that in that conversation I would tell said student that such absenteeism was unacceptable, that she should drop the class, that she should rethink her educational goals and what it takes to achieve them.

You would only be right about the last part, and even there it is not exactly what I said.

In fact, I was surprised when she missed the second day of class, because on the first day it was evident that she was one of the more engaged and adventuresome students I have had, and perhaps one of the most mature in this particular group. I thought it would be great to have her in class, and then when she missed the second day, and then the third day, I figured (and was disappointed) that she had decided to drop but had not gotten to a computer to do so.

But then I heard from her by e-mail. It turns out this student is an athlete, and in the first full week of school she sustained an injury which ended her season and required emergency surgery. (It turns out she has already had similar surgery several times, either on this particular knee or her other.) Then there were complications from the surgery (including, to my personal horror, one of her sutures getting infected) and she missed more days.

Now we get to the part of the term where she has to miss a number of classes because her team is traveling.

We had a long discussion about her options, and it was evident that none of them are really good ones. She said she felt she is "starting to be on the mend," and I thought, right: I thought that many times myself, and boy did I have a long way to go. She said that when she was on the serious drugs she could not even read at all, and man, did I know what that felt like. If she withdraws from the semester (which would allow her to get the other surgery she needs and perhaps actually heal), she will lose her sport scholarship, and that, of course, is how she pays for school. I could see and feel her pain and fear and uncertainty each time her eyes started to well up.

So it is her I was thinking about when I read this article that Magpie mentioned in a comment. I know that knees are not brains, and that bum legs are different from disorientation and headaches and constant dizziness and of course the longer term effects of concussion.

But still.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The thing that bothers me is someone keeps moving my chair.

Magpie got me thinking about They Might Be Giants, which is a happy thing on as beautiful an afternoon as this one.

And since I am now back from today's hour-and-fifteen-minutes of PT, I can really only type well with one arm. (Note to self: there was a little pain in some of the diagonal pullthroughs that I had to do, and also in exercises where I was lying on a table on my stomach and pulling up thumb first at the 9 o'clock position.)

So instead, I gift you with this. I was a little disappointing that nowhere in there did they give details about women's builds and sports, but I can guess that as a short squat one, I probably never would have been an Olympic swimmer. But what do you think?