Monday, September 28, 2015

Briefly Boring: Scars and Beer

My knee recovery is coming along.  Still no running until around Thanksgiving, but I’m doing more and more without remembering that I had surgery exactly a month ago. To that end, tonight for the first time I’m going to go for a very short swim.  I had to wait until my knee incision closed up before I could get into a public pool – longer than normal because it wasn’t all laparoscopic so I have a 2” incision.  Lord knows what kind of e coli or herpes I would get if I swam with an open wound.  That said, I will be the first to admit that I don’t mind the big incision on my knee. Gives me some street cred… “What is up, ladies? Want to see my knee scar? Ignore all of the stubble on there from where the surgeon shaved it.

Ignore that this is totally a picture of my crotch

Actually, while it is getting better, my knee is a bit sore today. I brewed 15 gallons of beer this weekend and pushed my knee to the limit with all of the heavy lifting.  But again, I think that can only add to my street cred, right?  “Yeah, I screwed up my knee again but it was while I was brewing beer. Yeah, there was fire involved…no big deal.  So, just ignore my limp while I chop wood and spin these mad beats” (I assume that is what hip/cool guys do now?)

100% sure my neighbors thought that I was making meth

The fruits of my labor!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Briefly Boring: Soccer practice

Laura and I were talking about how we both want to blog more but seem to be rather….verbose with our posts. The problem with that is that (as if reading something I wrote could be bad!?!?) they take a bit of time to put together. As such, I’m going to start a series of random posts I call “Briefly Boring”. Enjoy! 

My son started his fall soccer season a few weeks back. I’m the assistant coach which means that I still get to wear the coaches shirt but don’t really have to do much of the work. (Just like our favorite assistant-president, cool uncle Joe!)  While it isn’t a super huge time commitment now, one practice a week and one game on the weekends, I can absolutely see how after school activities could spiral out of control in a hurry.  That is exactly why my parents let me drive by myself starting around 13…. Who wants to cart a kid around to a billion activities when he can just drive himself?  My dad was #LifeHacking before #LifeHacks were a thing.

Stay cool, uncle Joe!!

Anyway, it is fun to see over the course of 8-10 weeks how the kids actually put things together….such advanced skill as “kicking the ball in the CORRECT net” and “not stealing the ball away from your own teammate”.  Okay, I’ll be honest.  We’re still learning both of those skills.  But, I’m sure they’ll come soon enough. Until then? There is no crying in soccer.  Just kidding, there usually is. Juice boxes and granola bars for everyone!

From this spring, but whatever

Monday, September 21, 2015

Post surgery post

We can rebuild him. We have the technology. 

For those unfamiliar with my knee pain odyssey, feel free to read back to some of my other posts about it. This one or this one are both good. The cliff notes version is that I hurt my knee in February and had surgery on it August 31st.  I had a number of things “wrong” including a torn meniscus (except not torn, but only frayed), a maltracking kneecap, and a torn patellar tendon – the latter causing most of the pain.  The recovery has been MUCH slower than I originally thought it was going to be, so this post is a bit delayed.  I wanted to be a bit more positive with the post so I thought that I should wait until I actually had something positive to say.  While that isn’t totally the case, I figure I’ve waited long enough!

So, before I go into the details of the last two weeks since my surgery, I feel like I should mention how much I HATE surgery.  Like, tearing up when they put in the IV hate. Like, write an “if I die” note and put it in the safe hate. I am honestly not sure WHY I am afraid of it. I’ve had surgery once before and it went fine (other than fainting while they were putting in the IV).  It is sort of how I’m afraid of little baby snakes – the worst that could happen would be I get a little tickle and MAYBE a weird sensation when he tried to bite me. (aka: Saturday night at Adam’s house!  Heyoooo)

Oh, how far we have come...

The morning of surgery went off without a hitch. I have to admit that I had to force myself from going through the routine of stumbling to the coffee maker and making myself a hot cup of coffee. As Laura knows, this is almost an automatic instinct response at this point. Of course, this was strictly against the pre-surgical rules - lest I drink a cup and barf all over my recovery nurse. I have to imagine that coffee does NOT taste as good on the way out as it does on the way in.

When I checked into the surgical center, I noticed right away that I was a solid 30 years younger than anyone else in the waiting room.  Socks and sandals paired together flowed like the River Nile from the door to the check in desk.  But, before I knew it I was changed into my assless gown and hairnet and was reminded by the nurse that I didn’t actually have to take off my underwear.

Stand back, ladies. Sexy is coming through

Probably the worst thing of the day was getting my IV put in.  Unfortunately, I have a bit of a weak disposition when it comes to those and may have had a bit of a “moment” while the nurse was putting it in.  But, with a short peptalk from her and lots of eye rolling from my mom, we got through it.  No fainting! I’m a big boy!!

Clutching my phone to try to hide my terror of the IV. A good heroin addict I would not make.

I don't know why women complain about shaving their legs. It was sooooo easy!!

My surgeon is one of the best sports med surgeons in Phoenix – he is on staff for the local NFL, NHL, and MLB teams in some capacity. (Read: I’m going to have to sell my son into child labor to pay for him.)  So, while the anesthesiologist and I shot the shit for a while, he was in and out like a flash….being very careful to answer every single question that I had fully and directly, but not wasting any time to talk about the weather.  I found out from him that I couldn’t do a whole lot until the stiches were out (no swimming, lifting weights, etc) and regrettably something like HGH or Testosterone were not likely to help. Yes, I asked.  Bummer.

"So, you're saying you can't make it bigger?  What about making it just LOOK bigger?"

Either way, before I knew it, after a 30 minute quick surgery I was waking up in the recovery room. My knee didn’t hurt TOO bad as long as I didn’t move it (famous last words). At the time, I thought that I was pretty coherent, but as I think back I really can’t remember how I got my clothes back on.  Mom has a LOT of explaining to do on that front.

Dad's little helper

The rest of the day was essentially spent laying on the couch complaining about the pain. I filled a prescription for a type of Vicodin, but I am not a huge fan of those and mostly tried to just take Advil. The only exceptions to that were the first few days to help me sleep.  It was hell on my stomach, but now that the pain has subsided, I’m glad I went that way.

Disclaimer this is gross just kidding you already looked. Sucker.
About 24 hours post surgery. Still super swollen

I have no idea why I gave the thumbs up here.  My mom asked?

Week 1:
Like I mentioned in the first paragraph, the recovery has been SLOW.  I went back to work the day after (yeah, yeah… I know... believe me, Laura let me have it about that decision too), but was essentially sent home by my Physical Therapist after meeting with him mid day. The issue was that I had almost no mobility in my knee and my quads had shut down. The lack of mobility was causing me to limp pretty bad which could screw up my hips and my mess up my other leg.  The prescription for that is a cane and shrieks of “GET OFF MY LAWN” every hour.

Learning how to walk with my cane at PT.  Lovely.
After this pic was taken, I learned how to shake my fist and talk about the "good old days"

The next time I met with the Physical therapist was even more humbling. The “test” was for me to lay on my back and lift my leg.  Nope.  Couldn’t do it. That was met with a bit of a “hmmm” from the PT guy and a bit of reassurance that we’d take it day by day. Of course, I took that as a personal challenge and worked as hard as I could to get it working again over the coming days.  Honestly, most of those attempts failed which was incredibly frustrating.  Not being able to even lift my leg was a tough pill to swallow. It felt like I was going SO far backwards.

3 days post surgery. Still lots of swelling, but less puffy for sure

Week 2:
A little over a week after the surgery, I got my stitches out.  I had a few more than I thought – either 7 or 9 by my count….not that it matters I guess. Counting stitches is sort of like how guys like to measure everything else. Unfortunately, the incision along my knee for my patellar tendon still hadn’t healed fully so I was still stuck with doing a whole lot of “not much” until that took place.  That said, PT that second week was starting to get better.  I could lift my leg AND bend it! Miracles do happen.  By this point the swelling was coming down more and more and flexibility was increasing leaps and bounds.

Rolling on 20s!! Seriously the best part about surgery thus far.

Any time I flexed my quads, I could feel my platellar tendon pulling…so the PT said not to do that. Easier said than done if you’re used to having free range to doing whatever you want.  But, that tendon healing is what is going to enable to me to run again someday, so I am doing what I’m told…albeit reluctantly like the crotchety old man I am.

Starting to look really good about a week after surgery

In the middle of week 2, I stopped taking all Advil.  Much like most things with my recovery, I did it a bit too early and paid the price.  I went from being able to walk pretty well to wincing with each wrong step and accidental pivot of my knee.  The days after doing this were probably some of the hardest to get through.  I was thinking that I was doing well with recovery when in fact I still had a very long way to go.  Certainly a crushing blow combined with the 12-16 week timeframe the PT gives me on running again.

Went to watch the ASU game a week after surgery... Ryan wanted to do another photobomb pic

Week 3:
It seems like the weekends are when I make the most gains in my recovery.  I assume it is because I’m up and moving a lot and keeping it loose. As such, little over two weeks after surgery I not only went to a beerfest but stopped using my cane for the most part. Both were probably plenty early, but the questions about the cane were starting to become more hassle than the cane was actually worth…. God forbid I start smacking people with the cane.

These are my people. GET OFF MY LAWN

No seriously, the beerfest made it feel SO much better

The third week was mostly focused on walking without the cane and trying to regain as much quad strength as possible.  It still pulled when I flexed my quad, but I was able to walk by using forward momentum to swing my leg forward.

Week 4:
So, where am I now?   I’m going into my 4th week post-op (it was 21 days ago today). I am just now starting to go up / down stairs very slowly and can walk a bit on my toes where my quads activate. The issue is that if I retear my patellar tendon I not only can’t run but also likely have to have the surgery again.  NO THANK YOU.  The overall plan is to see the PT for 8 weeks, do a month on my own, and then see him for a final 4 weeks.

If I can't have running, at least I can park my ass and enjoy time with family

He thinks that I should be able to do a test run 3-4 months post surgery which would put me right around Thanksgiving or the weeks after.  This is way longer than I thought it was going to be which is all sorts of frustrating. But, I suppose if I’m just now starting stairs 3 weeks after surgery it does make sense that I’m not going to be running marathons any time soon.

Going forward:
I think that the hardest part about all of this is the unknown combined with my unrealistic expectations.  I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to run pain-free again (something that my doctor confirms isn’t 100% guaranteed so it isn’t just me being overly negative). Combine that with everything moving so slowly, myself included, and I've been pretty down in the dumps about the whole process.  BUT, I do know that it is indeed a very long process and I have a pretty long road ahead. The good thing is that I'm willing to put in the time and the effort it takes and accept whatever outcome that gets me!  Until that time, I'll be the one focusing very intently on each step all the while muttering about the good old days.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Swimming First Thoughts

My son still has the training wheels on his bike. I  tried to take them off a few months back, but he got frustrated and stopped riding it altogether. So, I caved and put them back on – probably not my best “parenting” moment. The truth is, learning a new sport is hard. It takes work and dedication to continue to try even when you know you are terrible at it and even skin your knees up a little bit. Learning to swim laps is very similar. But, since it is all that I’m going to be able to do post-op for a WHILE, I am trying really hard to learn…and failing quite impressively.

Like I mentioned before, a month or so back when I received my knee diagnosis, I asked my doctor if I could bike until my surgery. (I had stopped biking mostly out of frustration of the situation.) I received the ever so reassuring **shrug** and the response of “well, you probably can’t hurt it any more than it already is”. Hmm, okkkaayyyyyy......   His nurse also mentioned swimming. “Do you swim? You can pretty much always swim.”  With that simple statement, I started to look into it.

Now, if water sliding would provide cardio benifits, I would be SO fit!!

I don’t swim laps. Up until a month ago, I had tried swimming laps exactly twice before…. And those times were across a normal play-pool – not exactly Michael Phelps style training. In doing so I learned:

  • I’m not a fish and thus cannot breath under water
  • Related to revelation #1, water in my lungs hurts a lot
  • Water in my ears feels like one of those amazon worms crawling into my brain
  • I can have 5% body fat and still have a muffin top while wearing triathlete spandex shorts

So, when I tried to actually learn how to swim laps a month or so ago with Laura (who is an excellent swimmer), I was essentially starting from square one. Laura offered lots of great tips like “You’d be faster if you didn’t hack and cough so much” and “keep the water on the outside of your body not in your lungs”. Just kidding, she did exactly what I wanted and provided no tips – just let me figure it out on my own. I guess I am pretty thick-headed when it comes to trying to power through things on my own via brute force.

And...well... It is actually starting to work! I've swam 1000yds a handful of times while only choking on water a few times each session. The main issue that I've been having is pacing - I simply go way too fast. Either that or I just suck / don't have the fitness I need. After I do 100 or 150 yards I am GASPING for air and need to take a few moments to catch my breath. But, as long as I catch my breath every few minutes (in spite of still being impossibly hard and even more humbling), it is coming.

I think the thing that surprised me most about swimming is indeed how humbling it is. I've always been an above average athlete and am most certainly a well below average swimmer. I've had the opportunity to be lapped by Laura more times than I would like to admit - which I have no problems admitting bothered me at first. But, I've decided that I'm going to look at it two ways:  First, everyone is a beginner at everything at some point. All it takes is throwing off the training wheels and practicing more (usually after I hack up all the water I swallowed). Second, while I'll likely get better, I will probably never be "great", which is just fine. I've never wanted to be a professional swimmer (their abs? Different story) so just being mediocre is fine. Because, let's call a spade a spade, this is really a bandaid until I can do what I actually enjoy - running. Something my surgery should hopefully get me back to ASAP.

Swimming requires a lot of fuel

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Doomsday prepping for my surgery

“Well, I can always buy new knees! I can’t buy a new heart / lungs!”

That is what I would always tell people when they told me I was hurting my knees with running.  A sometimes snarky (okay, most times snarky… sorry mom!!) response to a question the answer to which hinted at my feelings of invincibility.  How could running HURT me if it was so healthy for other parts of my body?! I still don’t have a good answer to that question. But, one thing is for sure - I am certainly struggling with not only the surgery but what the future holds.

I’m essentially what you’d expect a stereotypical mid 30s guy to be like. Devilishly good looks matched only by my sharp wit and obviously my humble demeanor. I enjoy: watching football, scratching my butt, drinking a beer or two, watching football while drinking a beer and scratching my butt, and most importantly avoiding the doctor at all costs. I usually take the approach of “if it doesn’t hurt, then don’t fix it”. Preventative care usually involves a glass of wine a day (It is HEALTHY people, science said so) and a trip to the dentist twice a year (because taking care of teeth as big as mine is akin to making sure the hood of a car stays bug free). So, the string of doctor’s appointments and physical therapy appointments has me on edge.

Of course, that doesn’t even go into the surgery itself. Simply put, I’m not a fan. Not a fan to the point that I’ll likely do some sort of Doomsday Preppers style prep whereby I create a treasure map for all of the money I bury in my back yard and give it to Laura. “Hey sweetheart, here is a treasure map to my life’s savings. You can convert the coffee can of nickels to dollar bills in the lobby of WalMart.

But, much like buffing my teeth every 6 months, it is a necessary evil. I will admit though,  the anxiety of the upcoming surgery is starting to get to me a bit.  Between that and work, I’ve been a joy to be around I’m sure. I’ve been worried about the ‘big’ stuff: will I be able to run again, will my scar be cool, will I die?  You know, the usual stuff.  To mitigate that, I’ve started biking with regularity again and have even started swimming. More on each of those in a future post.  Until then, I’ll be the one gurgling in the lap pool trying to remember where his can of nickels is buried.

Take care of my life savings, Laura!!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Knee surgery update and what is next

Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve been busier than a mosquito at a nudist colony so I haven’t had a ton of time to catch up on the blog.  But, here goes the old college try….


A few days back I had my surgical consultation to find out what type of knee surgery I need to have. Most people have said that meniscus surgery is rather routine, so I was hopeful to have the “easy” kind where they cut it away vs the “complicated” time where the sew stuff together. To my surprise, I not only have a torn meniscus, but also a host of other issues as well! I’ve always liked to consider myself as an injury 1%’er.  ANYONE can require surgery for one thing, I like to have surgery for clusters of things all at once.

Turns out, not only will I need to have my meniscus trimmed, but I’ll also have my kneecap realigned, and most invasively I’ll have my patellar tendon cut open to fix some internal tears (that are causing all of my pain in the first place). The particularly frustrating thing is that the surgeon set some pretty sobering expectations on the success of the tendon healing. Essentially he said that it isn’t 100% guaranteed to fix my issue – not even 75% of a chance.  Yikes.  “So, imma gonna cut you open, root around in there like a pig looking for truffles, and see what I find. I can’t tell ya it’ll fix ya, but damn sure if it won’t be a humdinger of a good time!!” – my surgeon, probably.

Thus followed a pretty sucky conversation that rivaled the ‘sex talk’ with your parents. He asked me lots of questions like “is it currently manageable”? (no) “does it restrict your day to day activities?” (yes). The net result of the conversation was the decision to cut me open like a trout and see what we could see. At least I’ll get a cool scar?  Chicks still dig those, right? RIGHT???


On the bright side, up until the surgery, my doc said that I could basically do “anything that is tolerable” (which obviously ruled out any of the Kardashian reality shows). Unfortunately for me, that did NOT rule out one thing: swimming. I had teased the fact that I was going to look into swimming at some point, and I guess that point is now. So, this past weekend I swam laps for the 2nd time in my life. It went….exactly like you’d expect it to go for the second time in my life. There was lots of water up my nose, water in my lungs, I’m pretty sure Laura lapped me at one time, and oh did I mention that I am also really slow? This resulted in me getting frustrated and pouting for a while but also resolving to keep trying.  Afterall, running sucked quite a bit when I first started as well….and when I’m running tempo runs….or intervals….or the last few miles of a marathon….actually running sucks a lot now that I think about it! Unfortunately, my bad swim carried over into the evening when I also got my ass beat by Laura in a card game.  Being Adam is hard sometimes :(

Learning a new sports is hella hard

But at least I got to buy a lot of fun new gear!


The other day I went for a solo motorcycle ride to be alone w/ my thoughts for a while.  To be honest, the only reason I mention that is to share this outstanding picture of Canyon Lake.

My Instagram caption “Parts of the desert are ugly, but this ain't one of them.”


A week or so ago I interviewed for a new role at my current job. For internal positions, you go through the same interview process if you are an external candidate or an internal one.  They really put you through the ringer – all day interviews covering over 19 people. Didn’t get the job, but that is okay – I know the guy who did and he is a much better fit.  So, applied for a different (internal) one. I’m quickly becoming the Life cereal Mikey kid.  I’ll apply for anything!


Finally, now that I am adding swimming to my bag of tricks (if you could even call what I do ‘swimming’) the obvious question that I keep getting is:  “Adam, how do you manage to stay so humble while being so attractive and witty!?” “Adam, are you going to do an Ironman now!?!?” The easiest way to answer that is simply: not yet.  It would be really silly for me to think about something like that with a not-insignificant knee surgery on the horizon. But, that hasn’t stopped my wheels from spinning after cheering at IM Boulder last weekend.

Seems like everyone is having so much fun here! Oh, wait – no.