It's a new year and time once again to give a new look to this blog. New graphics and colors. Same bike writer!

This blog is created not only to track my own progress on my biking journey but it is intended to also assist others who have either osteo or rheumatoid arthritis or both like I do. I hope as you read about the progress I have made that it gives you inspiration and hope that you can overcome the dibilitating effects of these conditions.

If your doctor agrees that you should be capable of expanding your limits read on and don't be afraid, just listen to your body and give it challenges. Biking is a great non-impact form of exercise and greatly enhances flexibility and range of motion.

It's not a substitute for Doctor visits, taking your meds or otherwise getting off your health plan but it auguments what your Doctor does for you and can give you a better quality of life. Go for it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

This Is About The Shortest Journey Ever Expected

It's two weeks and 5 days post surgery and all is very good.  I had expected a much longer recuperation and down time.  At two weeks post surgery I was back at my desk at work for a few hours anyway.  This week I've been at work daily but short days they are.  There is a lot to do to get ready to transition out of the Supervisors office.  Light packing, files to work on and work continues but at a slower pace. 

We are having a bout of Indian Summer with temps soaring into the high 70's today and perhaps 80's tomorrow.  Oh my goodness how I want to hop on my bike!  Sigh.  I am fearful because of the handle bars and my incision.  If not for that and the breastbone that is still healing I'd go out for a ride for sure.  There is always the possibility of a tumble and I don't think I could take that.  I want to go so bad I can taste it!  The spirit is willing but the flesh is not.

The brightest spot at the moment is that work has commenced on Phase II of the non-motorized path project.  The Board of Trustees did it's utmost to stall, delay and obstruct the beginnings of this but lo and behold ground broke on Monday and as I drove over to the job site and took more photos today the contractors are taking full advantage of the weather and going lickety split on the project. 

If you are a facebook user you can find more photos at this link: Northfield Township FB page.  Here are a few I snapped today. .

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Made It

Oct 5, someone is calling my name and I'm in a room surrounded by lots of electronics, before I know it my sisters are at my side.  Thirst.  Unquenchable thirst and no relief.  Pre-surgical visit with a nurse let me know exactly what to expect on awakining and that's a very good thing.  The breathing tube prevents any communicatons and you are restrained so that you don't pull it out.  This was something I had dreaded and feared but it came out within a couple of hours or so it seemed without much incident.  I was tired and sleepy and drifted in and out of it.  People and faces appeared and dissapeared in front of me over the next several hours and so much was a blur.  By evening I was more alert and talkative and holy crow I'm told that I'll be dangling over the side of the bed and sure enough I was and was asked to stand and take a few steps.  Success.  The least effort tires me easily and those steps were like an outdoor bike riding session.

Sleeping, resting, dozing over the next few days and little by little they begin to take hoses and tubes out.  I'm getting freed.  I get up and take little steps but continue to tire easily.  Where is my strength?  Where is my energy?

I have a good appetite but get full after a few bites, oh boy do I miss coffee!  Cardiac floor gets special diets and caffeine is not part of it, neither is salt.  Yikes, I'm a good cook and appreciate food correctly seasoned.  Food is tasty but bland at the same time and suddenly everything tastes peppery, must be the drugs given.  Some times I get insulin, I'm told that the procedure knocks your sugar levels off and am running slightly diabatic but that ceases after a few days so no more finger pricks and shots of that stuff.  That's okay because there are plenty of other jabs and pokes.  My care is excellent.  The USA has world class health care supersceeded by none.  I hope this Prez is ditched and the healthcare overhaul gets mothballed. 

The heart is angry over being assulted and the Docs constantly fiddle and fine tune meds, adjusting as necessary until all systems are correctly operational.  The body has been through a lot and it takes some time to adjust and regain normal operatons.  They'd probably be thinking about sending me home but my blood pressure remains too low and I go back to surgical ICU, there I get a unit of blood and that seems to do the trick.  Blood pressure climbs to normal ranges, but on the lower end of the spectrum which is usually where I am.    

On the sixth day I'm sprung out and get released.  October 10th.  Yay!  Oh no!  Mixed feelings, glad to be heading homeward bound but a tiny bit apprehensive.  This has been my safety net, my God dozens upon dozens of people have been caring for and monitoring my every breath, literally.  I trust the Doc and look forward to staying with my sister.  It's great to be in familiar surroundings, it's nice and quiet here compared to the constant activity at the hospital and sleep, glorious sleep, is mine.  Hours of restorative sleep later I feel refreshed and good.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Journey

Oct. 5th I awaken in what feels like the middle of the night to be at the hospital at 5:30 am.  Up, do the scrub prescribed which was a repeat of the process right before bedtime.  Close the two suitcases, one for the hospital and one for the stay at my sisters afterwards for recovery time.  Pack up the car, survey to see if anything is left behind, stop and pray. 

I drive to sis's home and she and her husband drive me to the hospital where we are met with my other sister and niece.  Admitting is momentary and I'm off to get changed into hospital duds, the pre-op area they usher me into is waiting with several carousels filled with an array of bags, wow all that stuff's going in me?   A team of Docs stops in over the next half hour introducing themselves and their part in the surgery team.  Everyone is nice, chipper and makes me feel confident.  Family is let back in before I'm whisked away.  I feel strangely calm, much more so than my sisters are looking, they are nervous and apprehensive and teary-eyed.  We re-assure one another and I'm off and being wheeled down the hall and making small jokes with the group that is flanking me. 

The O.R. is stone cold but before I know it I have pre-warmed blankets covering me, everyone sets about their job, there is a flurry of activity by no less than at least a dozen people that I can see, I drift of with the 23rd Psalms on my lips. ..

Monday, October 15, 2012

Life Is Full Of Surprises

Dear Readers,

I've been absent for some time and apologize for the lack of posts.  In early September I finally made the plunge to go with having my second knee replacement on my other leg.  It was a tough decision to cut the season short but I'd been suffering far too much.  The surgery was scheduled for Monday September 17th and the Friday before I visited with the cardiologist to get cleared for surgery due to a heart mummur I have.  Much to my surprise he would not clear me for knee surgery and said instead I needed to have a heart valve replacement first.

Shock.  Awe.  What?

This was an about face I was not expecting and was in no way whatsoever was I geared up to have open heart surgery.  Life can be funny that way at times, the best laid plans...

Fast forward, new surgery date for new surgery type.  October 5th.  The week before this I had a heart catheratization to check for any other impending problems to be addressed at the time of surgery.  I must lead a charmed life and have no arterial blockages at all to deal with.  Actually it is somewhat ironic that my diet is not what you would think of as a "health conscience" diet, or so my older sister always counsels.  One of my other hobbies is cooking and I use butter and cream and other traditional cuisine methods of French cooking.  Must be the wine that thins the blood out too and keeps the arteries clean?  Whatever it is, I am blessed.

I used my time until heart surgery to work my heart on my bike and tried to pack in as many 5-8 mile rides as I could.  I had lost the stamina for distance that I had last year, what with a couple of accidents off the bike for a time and having campaigning take up all my riding time this summer. Whereas last year I logged over 1,200 miles, this season I was doing good to break 500.  Michigan fall was pretty cooperative and I managed to get in several rides including a ride the day before my surgery.  I soaked up as much vivid sceanery, sights, sounds and smells of fall to carry me through days in the hospital and unpleasant moments.

Surgery was very successful and pretty uneventful.  I am not the most patient patient.  Recovery and down time is difficult to cope with, rather than fight and complain over the recovery journey or process I've decided to blog this journey to back to health.  I hope that in the coming days and month that I will be able to give someone who is also facing the same issue of heart surgery recovery a chance to have hope about the recovery process, what to expect or at least some form of commiseration.