Rubbing Elbows With an NFL Legend

Peg's at a conference in Orlando, FL and Terry Bradshaw is the keynote speaker. She was able to finagle a photo-op ticket with him. Her sister Cathy (in picture, left) was able to get the 2-time Super Bowl MVP to sign her Terrible Towel.


A Day with Picasso, Pissarro, Monet and friends

Today was the last day of a 5-day weekend for Chloe, so, wanting to do something different and get out of Boulder for a bit, we headed into Denver to go see what there is to be seen at the Denver Art Museum.

There were many impressive things about the museum (including its collection and its own architecture) but what really stood out to me – and what allowed us to spend about 5 hours there – were the various stations and activities within the collections aimed at keeping kids engaged. (We had been to the Art Museum back in Philly and I don't recall an it being as kid-friendly. Then again, there aren't any steps to run up here in Denver, so...)

When asked what she liked about the museum, Chloe said it was things like making the sculpture (see top photo, a New Guinean-esque sculpture) and the art bingo and the art stations and making the vests (see bottom photo, designing her own Native American vests.) As for me, I particularly enjoyed the Western American and American Indian exhibits.

We both, though, made some pretty inquisitive faces during our time amidst the Modern & Contemporary displays. The unofficially-named "Baby Doll in Crib with Toys Scattered on the Floor" and "Unhappy Baby Talking Whilst Laying in an Open Suitcase" were just of the many curious pieces. Believe you me, trying to explain those to Chloe wasn't easy, so I just said "What do you think of them?" and let it at that.


The Exterior is Mending Well (and Pix of the Interior.)

I had my first post-surgery appointment this morning. The focus was on the condition of the incision site and how I was feeling, and not so much on how the bone was mending... that will be determined later.

So, as to the focus... Once the the nurse practitioner removed the final bandages from the incision area, I got my first glimpse as to where scalpel met skin. To my delight, it wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined... there was very little in the way of dried blood, scabs, etc., and the incision site seemed to be healing pretty well. In 10 days or so, I can start putting either lotion, vitamin E or anti-scar cream on in it to help minimize scarring.

As for how I'm feeling, I told the NP that I feel pretty good for the most part. I haven't had to use any pain meds for close to a week now, and haven't had a fever since the surgery. The most problematic thing is sleep (or lack thereof). The most discomfort I feel is when I'm in bed at night... the rest of the day is usually not a problem (except when I sneeze... WOW, does that produce a sharp tinge of pain!) As a side-sleeper, it's not easy finding a comfortable position on my back that works for me then entire night. Having to wear the shoulder immobilizer 24/7 hasn't made sleeping any easier either. The NP said my sleep issues aren't uncommon and that they will slowly improve over the next couple of weeks.

Other things that came out of this appointment:
  • I can start doing some basic range of motion exercises at home. I still need to wear the immobilizer most of the time, and but can keep the left wrist free except for when sleeping.
  • I'll be starting physical therapy sometime in early- to mid-May.
  • I was given the OK to ride a stationary bike as long as I'm sitting up and not having the shoulder carry any significant weight.
My next appointment is May 11, at which point I'll get another x-ray taken to see how the bone is healing, and hopefully get a better idea as to when I can resume a normal riding position.


Below are some x-ray images (click on them to see larger versions.)

These two x-rays were taken on April 7 during my time in the Emergency Room. If you're like me, you'll have to take the doctor's word that the collarbone was in 4 pieces... 3 pieces are pretty easy to see in these images.

This x-ray was taken on April 15 while I was in anesthesia land in the operating room. It's not the "finished product" though... an 8th screw was added, and the two end screws were replaced with longer screws.


Many Things Surgery

It was an early day... up at 5:30a. Not because of nerves or anxiety, rather a restriction on eating or drinking anything within 8 hours of surgery. And with my surgery set for 2:00p, my cut-off time was 6:00a. So I went downstairs to have my light breakfast of yogurt and fruit, and a bunch of OJ and milk. I then went back to bed, set the alarm for 5:55a so I could get one last drink of water.

I was definitely glad they could get me a surgery appointment so quickly, but I was concerned about the surgery time for a couple of reasons. One is I'm usually active during the morning and afternoon, and I'd have to really monitor that so I don't get hungry or thirsty. Another is that my surgery appointment was the last one of the day, so if any earlier appointments went long, mine would start even later. The last concern I had, though, was (temporarily) addressed by a mid-morning phone call from the doctor's office, when I was told the doctor was running ahead of schedule and I was asked t0 show up 30 minutes earlier than previously asked.

So, come 12:15p, Peg drives me down to the medical center. After a brief visit with the cashier, we make our way up to the outpatient surgical unit and do some more pre-admission paperwork. Eventually, around 1:10p, I'm escorted back to a pre-op area, and asked to don only slightly more than the ever-so-fashionable surgical gown and cap (see picture). After my vitals were taken (being my first surgery, I was surprised to see that my heart rate was 56 bpm), an IV put in my hand, and incision area properly shorn, Peg was invited back to sit with me until I'm taken in for surgery. Even with Peg there, that felt like a very long hour... to pass time we chatted, laughed, discussed my requirement about not leaving the medical center until I was 2 cup sizes bigger, and wondering how the staff would take it if I jokingly put on my admission sheet that anesthesia makes me "handsy." Nonetheless, having a huge clock in front of me made me quite aware of how time was, or seemingly wasn't, ticking away.

Two o'clock came. And went. At 2:15p, we learned the doctor's (or perhaps, my) luck had changed from earlier in the day, and that it would be at least another 30 minutes before I would be taken in. Not too much longer later, a nurse came by and gave us some preliminary post-op and discharge info. After her came a chat with the anesthesiologist. A really nice guy (reminded me of Bob Newhart), he went over the drugs and tubes and sensors going in or on me. He then injected some anti-anxiety medicine into my IV and within minutes things were floating. As I was rolled into the OR around 3:10p I remember having a discussion with a nurse about The Beatles, the group Train (a song of theirs was playing in the OR) and about the number of people in the OR.... after that, my next retrievable memory came in the post-op room.

I woke up in post-op around 5:10p. The time surprised me for two reasons. The first is that, despite being told by several people that you wake up feeling it's the roughly the same you went under, I felt it was maybe, maybe 3:30, at the latest. The other is that I was told the surgery was expected to take just an hour. After I became a little more lucid, the doctor came by to check in on me and go over what happened.

Once he was able to see the area of the fracture, he noticed that the break was worse than initially thought and revealed by the x-rays. It was 4 pieces as he expected, but something about the alignment of those pieces made him realize it would take a little bit more work to plate and screw the pieces. He showed me an x-ray they took midway through the surgery, and on it I could see the plate and 7 screws. However, he said we wasn't happy with this set-up and modified it by replacing the two end screws with longer screws, and installing an 8th screw near the middle of the plate. After seeing what we saw, he said there was no doubt in his mind that surgery was absolutely the right route to take. Overall, he said the surgery went very well, and that I handled the anesthesia with no problem.

I then spent about another 50 minutes or so in post-op, noshing on some crackers and drinking some liquids (they couldn't honor my request for a pint of Guinness). Another nurse came by to take vitals again, and was surprised about how well I was "coming to." She brought Peggy back to sit with me, as well as give us some info. on what to expect over the next several hours, and postoperative care instructions. It was then a short wheelchair ride down to the lobby and out to the car, where my trusty driver was waiting to take me home.

The rest of the night was pretty much normal, save for the "shoulder immobilizer" device on my left arm. One surprise was how sleepy I wasn't. During the post-op chat with the nurse, she said I can expect to be drowsy or want to take naps due to both the pain killers I was taking and the remnants of anesthesia being in my body. Well, I must be an outlier in that data set, for I was up until 1:00am.

Today (Thursday)
Despite a pretty short night's sleep – I was awake at 5:15a because of repercussions from a lot of fluid intake the night before and a beagle that snores horribly, and less due to pain – I feel pretty good today. In fact, I feel a lot better than I expected to (given "expectations" info. provided to me by medical staff), and better than I felt a couple of days ago. What I feel so far is not really pain; rather it's more akin to the type of soreness one feels in their neck/shoulder area after sleeping on that area awkwardly. I get the sense, though, there is still some residual anesthesia in my body for my upper left pectoral area still feels a little numb, so tomorrow may be a different story. But for now, definitely no complaints or regrets.

A big "Thank you" goes to our friends/neighbors Terry, Machal, Abbie and Emma for watching Chloe yesterday afternoon, taking her to/from soccer practice, and giving her some dinner while Peggy and I were at the medical center. Peggy and I are deeply grateful and appreciative.

And of course, there's Peggy. My love and thanks go out to you for being my caretaker and chauffeur, and for not minding when the painkillers make me handsy once in a while.


Upon Further Review...

... it looks like surgery is the best way to reliably mend my broken collarbone and get me on the road to recovery quicker.

I met with Dr. Koch this morning, an orthopedist at Boulder Medical Center. He took a look at my X-rays and based on what he saw (4 pieces, a non-linear break), the general consensus nowadays regarding these types of injuries, and my age, his recommendation was that surgery would be the best route to go. Compared to leaving things heal on their own, surgery would provide a more reliable outcome (i.e. a better chance the bones would heal properly and provide better support for the shoulder) and, over the long run, provide a quicker recovery... I can expect some short-term pain.

So, Wednesday at 2:00p, I'll be getting some hardware installed.


The (Seemingly) Frozen Tundra of East Boulder

Chloe's soccer season kicked off today after a 1 week delay due to snow covered fields last week. And while the flaky, white stuff was absent today, it was plenty cold enough. Cloudy, temps in the upper 30s and a slight breeze out of the East had players and parents bundled up aplenty.

Shaking off the elements, Chloe and her fellow Banana Bees (that's the team's name this season, story below) teammates put together a good game. Her team scored a goal (a rarity last season) and the various goalies made plenty of good saves. As for Chloe personally, she made a couple of great runs down the field with the ball when on "offense" and got in the way of the other teams several times when on "defense."

I hope to take some pictures at future games when the weather is more conducive to having hands exposed.

About the name...
At practice on Wednesday, Coach Brad was soliciting suggestions from the girls about what they wanted the team name to be this season. It became evident early on in this process that the girls were thinking up team names on the spot, and basing them off of either something they saw near the practice field, or some off-beat animal-and-color combo. Realizing this was going nowhere, Brad decided it was best to limit options, and took it upon himself to come up with a team name after seeing the color of the T-shirts the team would wear. So, this morning, after picking of the shirts and seeing they were a bright yellow, he offered up Banana Bees and it was warmly accepted.


More News for "No News"

Even though I just saw them a couple of hours ago, I had a talk with the orthopedist's office this afternoon. I wanted to talk to them about a concern I had about "waiting and seeing," namely, why go this route if the success rate is in doubt while there might be other avenues that eliminate a lot of doubt? (I'm not naive enough to think that there are absolutes in medicine, but I do feel that in my situation there are courses of action available other than maintaining the status quo with higher likelihoods of success.)

Anywho, the Nurse Practitioner I met and spoke with had a doctor in the practice take a look at my x-rays. From what he saw, he said the bone most likely won't heal properly if left to heal on its own. He also said it's possible there might be a 4th bone chip hovering around. If things were left to heal on their own, there would be a 50-60% chance that things would heal properly.

So, I'm heading back on Monday morning for a second look-see.

No News is the News

I went to the orthopedist's office this morning with high hopes of coming out of there with a plan of action... such as "it'll heal as is" or "you'll need surgery to correct things." Unfortunately, I got a "let's wait and see."

The issue is that apparently the small bone piece in the middle of two other pieces is still touching those two other pieces. Not in a straight line, but touching nonetheless. The hope is that, with the 3 pieces still touching, the bones will start growing towards one another. This "hope" is to be looked at again on April 20th when I'm scheduled to go in for another x-ray.

While I'm not exactly sprinting to get into the OR, I'm OK with it if it means removing any uncertainty associated with keeping the status quo and getting me on the path to recovery quicker.


Not Great, but Definitely Not as Bad as I Thought

After getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-6 hours of sleep last night in the recliner, I'm actually feeling pretty good today. I thought for sure I'd barely get a winks-worth of sleep, and that I'd spend the day barely able to move.

Thankfully, I'm not nearly as stiff and sore as I had anticipated (but by the same token, I'm not as limber as a Romanian gymnast either) but I do notice some aches and pains that I wasn't feeling yesterday. I got a little bit of a bump on the top of my head, and my collarbone/shoulder area is more achy than before. (Granted, I've cut back on the pain meds a little.)

The areas of "road rash" are pressure sensitive, but they too, are treating me well today. Tomorrow might be another story when I change the dressings, but for now, I prefer not to thing about that.


Another 35+ Year Old Cyclist With a Broken Collarbone

I suspect I'm like a lot of cycling enthusiasts in that I wish I possessed the skill, ability, talent, power, strength, and mental toughness of Lance Armstrong. While I know I'll never be able to come close to him in those respects, I have been training over the last several months to improves those aspects of my cycling. Today, though, I can say that I am matched with him in one area: we both have a broken collarbone.

I was doing a training ride on a nearby canyon road this morning, and after having finished my last uphill effort, I turned my bike around and began to "soft pedal" my way back down. I was at the bottom of the gradual hill when a squirrel came out of the grass and onto the shoulder. It did the stereotypical skittish squirrel back-and-forth, but ultimately decided to run in front of me. It went under my front tire, made my front wheel skid sideways, and down I went. It wasn't the worse bike accident ever, but the impact was hard enough to put a crack in my helmet, dent an aluminum tube on my bike, and make left my collarbone a 3-piece puzzle.

Once I got my wits about me, I called Peg on my cell and she raced the 6 miles from the house to where I was. In the mean time, I was aided by the kindness of strangers... 2 cyclists and 2 drivers stopped to check on me, and the one driver hung around until Peg arrived. It was also during this time that I began to take an inventory. I could tell I had some pretty good patches of road rash on my left side, and that my arms and leg bones didn't hurt. Nor did my back, neck or head. But I couldn't say for certain what condition my left shoulder and/or collarbone was in. Based on the amount of pain and the weird "popping" I felt, though, I had a suspicion things weren't as they should be.

Peggy arrived, and we threw my bike on the bike rack, and made our way to the Emergency Room. After eking my way through the admissions process (I had yet to be introduced to Fentanyl at that point) I made my way to a bed in the ER. I spent a couple of hours there while they took some X-rays, cleaned my abrasions, and gave me an IV while my vitals came back to normal (at admissions and another time in the ER, my blood pressure had dropped quite a bit.)

It was then time for the "road test," whereby the hospital staff wanted to see how steady I'd be on my feet. So we walked down to the monitor to see my X-rays, and I was pretty shocked. Three pieces: two larger pieces on either end, and what looked to be about a 1-inch piece in the center. I then got my discharge instructions, Rx for pain meds and left the hospital.

Driver/Peggy than drove me around to get the Rx filled, get some lunch for us (it was about 4:00p at this point and neither one of us had lunch) and then back to the crash site to see if we could find a cycling computer that came off during the impact. No luck on the computer, but I did find out one thing... I, unlike the squirrel, was able to leave the area.

Eventually, we got back home, and, with the Percocet-and-600mg-of-ibuprofen combo kicking in, had Peg make an appointment with the orthopedist. I'll be seeing him on Friday morning, and should learn then whether or not surgery is needed.

To be sure, today was not an easy one. But it was definitely a lot better having my better-or-worse, sickness-and-health partner with me... Thanks, Peg. (And, by the way, Peg... I'm ready for my sponge bath.)


He's 10 (or 70-ish)

Ten years ago Chamberlain was born, crooked tail and all. He's received a few more bumps and lumps since then -- and quite a bit more white on the muzzle -- but overall he's been a great pet and member of the family (despite his affinity for chewing on things that you and I put in the waste basket.) We weren't able to celebrate properly due to the yucky weather (yup, more snow today), but we did make a special meal for him... about 3/4 pound's worth of stew meat ended up in his bowl.

*** I just noticed that another post about Chamberlain on 3/20/09 was never published. It is now, and has a picture of him. ***


Can It Be Played With Snowshoes?

The opening to Chloe's spring soccer season was supposed to be this morning, but Mother Nature had other plans; namely 4" of snow, temps in the low 30s, and 20+ mph winds. (It's good to have Winter... in Spring.)

Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise, for Chloe and her teammates have yet to decide on a name for their team (last year they were the Tiger Bears.) And having gone through the name selection process last Fall, few decisions are more important to Kindergartners than what wild-concoction-of-a-name they can call themselves. Stay tuned.