Getting There

Getting There

Paul Stevens

Carpe Diem (but in a relaxed sort of way)


Today was supposed to be a red letter day as the neck brace I have to wear to protect a couple of cracked vertebrae was to come off.  That would have been a distinct ‘Yahoo!” moment as this thing is slowly driving me postal now that I have had it on for eight weeks. The brace limits my mobility, I can’t drive and when I eat, well, let’s just say that two year olds have a better sense of where their mouth is.  I should be put it corner or at least left to dine by myself.

I say that today was supposed to be a red letter day as I recently received a note from my orthopedic doctor deferring our appointment until October 31st as he will be away attending conference. It has not been lost on me that October 31st is also Halloween so maybe I’ll show up at his office disguised as a P.O.’d patient about to go off the deep end.  Two more weeks of life with the neck brace is not something I am looking forward to but to keep it in perspective, it is only a short term inconvenience and it will at some point be gone.  I don’t plan on future encounters with ½ ton pickup trucks so realistically, I am not dealing with anything terminal. Soon, I’ll be back to 100%.

I am just dealing with healing broken bones and some cuts and bruises.  These things get better and I do feel improvement with each day.  I can’t help but feel significantly moved by those who are dealing with long term illnesses where full recovery may only be a statistical chance.  How brave of these people, young and old alike, to keep up the good fight despite no certainly of a satisfactory outcome.

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Other than this neck thing, I am really feeling pretty good.  My ribs are no longer a source of pain and discomfort and even pressing the spots where the breaks occurred, it feels no worse than a bruise so no shock of sharp of pain. The cuts and lacerations are all but gone.  I am up to riding my stationary bike about 35 minutes every other day or two out of three and I have to say that each session feels like a step forward as the healing process seems to take ramp up by a distinct notch rather than a gradual climb if I was less aggressive with my rehab. 

When I’m on the stationary bike, I snap on the head phones and play some high-tempo music.  Within each song, I’ll do a 40-60 second interval of hard pedalling.  The first several times of doing this was challenging as I felt like my lungs were a balloon in a container that was just a bit too small.   No doubt my ribs that were working overtime to knit themselves back together had to build in an extra margin for the extra air I was trying to get down there.  They have responded well however and I can feel my endurance improving with each turn on the bike.    

Don’t get me wrong here, I am working as hard as I can but I do try to make sure that I am not causing myself any pain. Other than a bit of fatigue, there would be nothing to be gained and I would be doing myself harm if I pushed it to the point where I was doing damage. I have weekly physiotherapy appointments and I review my activity with the therapist.  He is totally onside with my approach and he has given me some valuable stretching exercises to compliment the process. Again, nothing excessive here as I am not about to twist myself into a pretzel and try out for the Cirque du Soleil. 

With this neck brace as my constant companion, I can not yet ride a bike outdoors and I do miss that as fall weather is a favourite for taking to the road.  Cooler temperatures, sunny skies, and of course the changing colour of the leaves makes for a great experience.  We may be fortunate again this year and get a mild winter.  Last year, I was able to ride until the end of December as it was not particularly cold nor was there any snow or ice on the road.  Cold I can dress for; snow or ice is a complete non-starter on skinny road bike tires. 

Related Article: The Road to Recovery

Needless to say, my hockey career has been on hold although my teammates are holding a spot for me on the roster expecting me to suit up before the end of the year.  I will work diligently to make this happen. While I do miss hanging out with the guys and enjoying our post-game refreshments, I should say here that our post-game banter does NOT come close to what a certain U.S. presidential candidate tries to pass off as ‘locker room talk’.

Next up for me will be a program set up by a rehabilitation specialist.  This will be a more regimented routine than what I would get at the physiotherapist.  The two work in conjunction with each other but the rehab program will provide formalized gym time to help rebuild what was previously there, or at least was on its way to being there.  This should start in about a week and I am looking forward to it.  Quite frankly, riding the stationary bike is OK but I would prefer the ability to get out of the house and enjoy some variety.

An unexpected benefit of this whole situation is that the bout of ‘Runner’s Knee’ that I was dealing with earlier in the summer is a distant memory as the discomfort behind my kneecap is gone.  The therapy for this very common issue is to build better muscle balance between the quadriceps and the hamstring muscles through a variety of exercises and stretches, or rest.  Well, rest time in the summer wasn’t going to happen so I was on the exercise/stretching routine and it was working reasonably well.  With my current circumstances however, the rest option was essentially forced upon me but it left my knee feeling great.  Should I get a flare up of Runner’s Knee down the road, I don’t plan on meeting up with another motor vehicle to induce rest.  I think I’ll work on maintaining muscle balance instead as I move along the rehab path.

Your friend, Paul.

And remember – Carpe Diem (but in relaxed sort of way)!

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