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Friday before the weekend I had a PT visit with Jacquie.  My appointments are always at 7:30am, and begin the same each time.  I head in and warm up for 5 minutes on the exercise bike, then stretch and use the foam rollers.  At some point in this process Jacquie appears and asks if things have gotten better / worse etc.  Usually I respond that things are more of the same, a good day here, a bad pain day there.  I think it threw her off that I said they’ve been fine.  I’ve been biking minimally, swimming regularly, and doing stretches and exercises daily.  That’s not to say that I think I’m all better, my knee still throbs a bit before I stretch, or when I’m going down stairs, but things seems to be normalizing at the level of activity that I’ve been maintaining for the past few weeks.

To celebrate this minor victory and enjoy the (relatively) warm and sunny afternoon on Sunday, I rode to the grocery store to pick up the week’s supplies.  The store is less than a mile away, so if things got bad, I could just walk it in a pinch. 

I made it to the store in no time, and continued on another mile just for the sake of it.  I remember why I am drawn to jogging and biking, but often have to force myself to go swimming.  I love that cold feeling in my lungs as I’m riding downhill, and the warmth of the sun.  I had to reason with myself for a mile before practicality won the conversation and I turned around.  I woke up and swam this morning without incedent or stiffness.  I’m very relieved and reinvigorated…I really needed this boost of confidence that I’m progressing, as well as the reminder of what I’m getting myself back into shape for.

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I literally woke up this morning having dreamed of riding my bike. It was a leisurely slow ride over the Longfellow and into Kendall. It was a cool clear day, I was wearing shorts and a sweatshirt and had a brisk breeze at my back.

Then I woke up late having snoozed for 45 minutes, skipped a shower, and took the hot smelly T to work. As the red line crossed the river, I saw numerous lucky folks enjoying the day riding to work, slightly bundled as the weather has settled into a cool summer week. It has been three weeks since I’ve been able to ride and I’ve been going a bit stir crazy, due partially to my inactivity and partially to the uncertainty of the source of my knee pain and issues. While I’m waiting for my doctor to get back from vacation and jump through some HMO hoops, I’m finding myself self-diagnosing on webmd. So far I have a torn meniscus, ACL injury, and Iliotibial band syndrome. Eesh, I need to quit this shit before I decide my whole leg has gone lame and I hack it off with a dull letter opener.

I’ve begun reading Teaching Cancer to Cry, which has put my aches, pains, and complaining into perspective. Below is Ezra’s reaction to being told he won’t be able to ride his bike anymore due to a cancerous tumor, and after the jump is a photo of the assless bike he built. Pretty amazing…

An Assless bike! He doesn’t want want me sitting on a saddle, because the tumor is SO close to the *erm* surface that it’s likely to get pressed on and beaten at and become generally unhappy and more prone to spread. So, just dispense of the saddle! If it’s not even there, I won’t be tempted to sit on it. I’ll just ride BMX style.. pedal pedal pedal coooooaaaaaaast.

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Lauren and I had a master plan to get some lobster for dinner tonight. What’s the point of being in Gloucester without getting some Lobster every now and again. Unfortunately it’s now 6:44pm and Lauren left from Boston at 5:11pm and has yet to arrive. I’ve been wasting away the time watching the Almost Everything Show and researching sports injury specialists in my insurance network. I finally went to the doctor yesterday to check out my knee issues, and he was able to give me some confidence and reassurance about what’s going on. Unfortunately I’m getting the impression that he’s full of shit. After telling him all of the details and specifics of what’s been going on, he felt my knee for a bit and determined that it is stable and I can gradually resume my activities. Instilled with a newfound confidence and comfort I rode my bike to get some coffee a mile away from my apartment, and by the time I got there my left knee was clicking and clacking and stiffening up. I can’t get much more gradual than that, so I’m trolling the internet for reliable specialists in the area and attempting to educate myself about the way the HMO bureaucracy works.

Referrals, primary care physicians, specialists, physical therapists, orthopedists? What’s a boy to do? Wish me luck, I’m going to forget all that for now and stuff myself with some delicious lobster and onion rings.

That pesky knee pain I mentioned last week hasn’t gone away and is starting to get me a little scared. It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t hurt while I’m actually riding, but my knees will remind me that they are not quite right for the rest of the day with light pain and stiffness. I am many things, but a fan of doctors is not one of them. I once stubbornly put of seeing a doctor for what turned out to be two months of strep throat and waited two days until my broken finger resembled an eggplant before getting it checked out. But this knee pain is different. It doesn’t hurt when I ride, so biking can’t be causing the pain, right? And when I hurt my knee running a few years ago, the doctor suggested cycling as a way to help, so even if the bike caused the injury, eventually it will come back around and start to heal it, right? I finally broke down and referred to Dr. Google for some iron-clad medical advice.

After determining that I didn’t have gout and ignoring advice that painkillers will cure knee pain (no shit), I found Australian Cyclist, a helpful site that proved to me that I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. I guess I’m making a common rationalization, but common or not, I’ve been doing it wrong…

…because knee pain in cycling is caused by overuse rather than major trauma, it’s not unusual for cyclists to continue riding “through the pain” in the hope it will get better. Don’t!

Damn it. I had one little plan that was perfect. I was just going to ignore the pain and wait for it to get better, and be a tough guy about it. Great plan, Alex. You’re on the path to success. That’s all I wanted to hear, not this know-it-all site that clearly lays out my plan in front of me and in one word destroys it: “Don’t” I can admit when I’m wrong, and Dr Google has proven me so. I guess this mean I will be stuck on the T for a week or so and I’ll use this as an opportunity to bring my bike in for a tune-up.