Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Good Weekend and Progress

I have made some good progress over the weekend. I spent much of Saturday at the Assault on the Carolinas bike event spectating and watching my cycling friends climb to the top of Caesars Head near the NC/SC border on US 276. Debi was doing the metric century ride, so I was trying to support her on the ride by being at the top of the 7 mile climb. My friend Rob had come up from Atlanta to do the ride. So, it was an opportunity to catch up with him too.

After the ride several of us went out to dinner at Zambras in Asheville. To me, another typical hoity toity restaruant of Asheville with good food, so I guess they can have a pompous pretentious attitude about their food, drink and services. It was a great time and nice for me to be out and about for the first time in weeks, actually months since I don't get out often.

I slept very well in a bed for the first time too. I had also tried driving some miles over the weekend. So far, so good. I feel comfortable driving as long as it is not for too long.

I finally returned home on Monday to stay at my place for the first time since March 9th. It felt great to be home in my space without a pressing schedule. So, I basically relaxed and slowly started thinking about some projects that I hope to do while I am off the bike for some time. My food supply needed some refreshing, so I hit the grocery and ran a few errands to get back on track.

As of tonight, things are good and the week is flying by. My left leg near my hip is sore. I'm not sure why, but I'm thinking that it is because the muscles have not been used that much. I have actually lost some weight since just before the surgery, much of the weight I was trying to lose during the bike training I was doing over the summer. My appetite has dropped significantly since I am not riding. Food is fuel. I'm about 7 pounds lighter than I was at the end of February. My neck is still tender in that I can not make a quick head-turn or look up or to the side for long durations. So, I am just trying to take it easy through this week without too much moving around. But that is easier said than done.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Not doing much of anything

Well, I did have some success sleeping in a bed last night, but still not completely comfortable. I still have not been home since the sugery other than to check my mail. I am hoping to get situated at home very soon. I am two weeks into my recovery and I have two more weeks to go before I return to work. There is not much more to report.

The spring weather is here. All my cycling friends are enjoying this exciting time of year when we finally break through the chains of winter. I've spent a ton of time scanning old pictures. It really takes a lot of time to go through them all and pick only a select few to scan into a digital format. There are a few more that I would like to do, but I was just getting a bit tired of spending so much time scanning. Below is a picture from 1991-ish.

All for now and more later.


Monday, March 19, 2007

"Do Nothing"

"Do nothing" is what I heard today at my appointment with my doctor's medical assistant. She said that includes, "no driving". Darn! I really wanted to start driving. But, they insist that I do not start driving again until it has been a full two days that I've been off my percoset prescription. But, "I drive better when I'm on Percoset". No, I did not say that, but I was taking it before my surgery and didn't have any problems. I took their advice and will not be taking any percoset for the next two days. I'm pretty much down to one a day anyway. So, it should be easy for me.

I did have the staples removed from my left hip suture today. I did not know what to expect. I thought for sure that removing staples from the human body would a painful experience. Darn, I can't believe that I did not take a picture of the staples. Actually, I did not even really look at the suture myself. The thought of staples in my own flesh and muscle is not a site for me, so I realize now that I had pretty much ignored the visible appearance of the staples in my skin.

About an hour before my appointment Debi gave me some Lidocaine which is topical anesthetic cream to numb the area before they removed the staples. The medical assistant showed me the tweezer-looking tool that she was going to use before pulling them out. She said, "I've pulled out staples before, but never from a hip suture". I also recall Dr. Silver's Physician's Assistant saying after the surgery, "Dr. Silver did a bone graph from the hip and replaced the disc with it, that is a first for him". Gosh, you mean to tell me that I'm the first person they've tried this stuff on. Seems to surprise me a bit, but what can I do. I have to trust them. I did and still do.

"Is it going to hurt?" I said. "Should I hold on to something?" I said. The medical assistant said "yes, hold on to something if that will be......okay, got the first one". That quick! I said, "you did?!?" with surprisement. But, "I didn't feel anything, nothing at all". Great. There was going to be no pain in removing the staples.....got myself all worked up for nothing. She suggested that the lidocaine may be working really well. She was surprised that I did not feel anything. I guess I had about 8 staples to pull out and they came out quick.

After the staples were removed I did get a little queezy and had to sit down. But, I got back to normal and she put steri-strips on the suture that will come off themselves. I was free to leave, but without driving privileges that I had hope for. Just wanted to be able to drive to the grocery and back, that is about it.

After the appointment, John (who gave me a ride to the appointment, he's from Canada, retired here during the winter months with his wife, he's also a cyclist) and I contemplated about whether or not I should get my car and drive back to Hendersonville. He said he would follow me back, but I told him I would be a while at home before I could leave. We both indecisively tossed the idea back forth and finally, I said, "no, lets just go back to Hendersonville. I'll be okay." John offered to give me a ride sometime during the week when I felt it would be okay for me to drive. "I'll call you tomorrow and we'll shoot for Wednesday", I said. He was okay with that and said, "Maybe Tuesday I think it may be raining and I won't be able to ride anyway". Sounds good.

I had a number of things that I wanted to pick up from home. These are things that would keep me productively busy for the week. So, maybe I'll pick them up in a few days.


Friday, March 16, 2007

It has been one week since surgery

Well, let me start off this post by saying that I have not worn underwear for one week. I have always worn underwear, but my left hip suture is just too sensitive to allow a tight waistband. So, I've been going "commando" wearing those pajama pants up over my gut and I look like an old man gimping around with my walker. I might as well practice for my elderly years and try to have fun with it now.

I go for my follow up doctors appointment on Monday. They are supposed to remove my sutures from my hip and neck. I am hoping that once the remove the staples from my hip suture, that the pain will go completely away. I am also hoping that they will allow me to drive. I would still not drive that much, but just having permission would be nice. I do have most of my range of motion in my neck. But, as my hip pain decreases these last two days, I am noticing slight pain and stiffness in my upper back. Maybe my hip pain has been masking out my neck pain? It is going to take another few weeks to get my head-turn back to where it was before. I've been taking less pain meds over the last two days which is a good thing. The barca lounger is still the best place for me to sleep and get the weight off my hip. I tried the last two nights to get into a bed to lay down, but both my hip and my neck require simultaneous support as I move into a reclining position. The barca lounger is the only thing that will provide me that support. I'd be in a very uncomfortable position without the barca lounger. I think I may have to get one for myself after I recover.

Debi is supporting a Junior's bicycle racing team in Asheville. She needed a logo to put on their race jerseys. So with her initial ideas, I took some time yesterday to design a logo one for her. She likes it. It is basic black-n-white right now since it is only going to be on a jersey, but we are going to try and develop it further for her denistry practice stationary and stuff. I am also going to work on a web site for her too. I won't be biking for several more weeks, so this will give me a nice outlet. I actually have 3 web projects on standby at the current time.

It is raining today. One of my most enjoyable things is to drink coffee and listen to the rain. I love opening up the windows and allowing breeze of the cool air pass through with the sound of the rain. It such a relaxing thing for me. It always has been.

I have not yet used my walker today. I used it over night to get around, but I've been running errands with Debi and going into public. It not that easy to get in and out of the car, but once I am vertical I seem to be getting around much better than I was two days ago.

Okay....all for now and more later.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Tour de Barca Lounger

I am sleeping very well in the Barca Lounger. I can get in and out very comfortably without strain on my neck and left hip. As long as I am medicated, I can freely move around with the assistance of a walker. Often I can walk, or GIMP, around without the walker. I think I am progressing just fine. The pain has seemed to reduce from yesterday.

TV is boring. I find myself watching the History, Military, Science, and news channels. If South Park is on, I will watch that. I may return to watch some hockey. I used to love hockey and it is on every night. In anticipation of this week, I had gathered a bunch of old photos of my younger years. I am going to use Debi's scanner to convert them to digital format. This is a good project for me to pass the time. I am considering some web site work that I've wanted to do for a while now, where biking always took priority in the past. Then, there is always video games to kill some time. So, I am not really having a boring time with this.

I went to the doct today to check for a possible infection in my hip suture, but the doct said that he did not think there was an infection. I have not had any leakage or fever. There is just a lot of redness around the suture. I've been instructed to apply ice and call in a couple days if it gets worse.

All for now....more later.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Day After The Operation

What a crazy couple days. I made it through okay. They stuck the IV in my around noon on Friday. I sat in a waiting room with Debi for over 2 hours before going into the pre-op room. I was in the pre-op room for over an hour before being wheeled into the OR. They started prepping me and the next thing I knew was waking up in recovery. My hip hurt so bad and my neck brace did not allow me much freedom to move my head around. A I could really see was the ceiling, and all I knew was that I was in a different room. My mind still felt like I was waiting to go into surgery. But it was over.

They took a bone graph from my left hip. Then they went into the left side of my front neck to removed the bulging disc and place the bone graph in the place of where my disc was between C6 and C7 vertebrae. I had decided that it made more sense to use my own bone instead of going through a bone bank. My body would except my own bone better.

During the surgery, I had a tube down my throat to feed my air tube. After they took me the room for the night, I could feel how my throat was irritated from that tube. Needless to say it was very hard to eat at first. I was getting nauseous from the drugs (Valium and Percoset) because I had an empty stomach. Being nauseous, it was hard for me to get up and walk around. I thought I was going to puke. For most of the morning, no position was comfortable for me. I was in incredible pain from about 4 AM to 7AM. Then, I had some jello and apple sauce and that gave me enough energy to stand up and not be nauseated.

Debi gave me a sip of coffee and then I really turned around. I was able to get up on my feet and sit on the side of the bet. The upright position was the most comfortable for me. I ate everything in site. When they came back to medicate me for the last time I was ready for it. Soon after I took a good walk. I have a walker that really helped me get around. It was going to be the only way out of there. By 10 AM we were leaving the hospital as I got my discharge orders.

I'm at Debi's now and eating eating eating. Debi set me up with a nice lounge chair. I am in much better condition this afternoon and about ready to take a nap. The hardest part for me is still getting myself upright from reclined position. It puts a lot of stress on my neck. My head is too heavy to lift. I have a neck brace that I need to wear when I am getting around with my walker. I can't drive for 10 days. I won't be at work for about 4 weeks.

Everyone at Mission hospital was very friendly and extremely helpful. I made sure that I said thank you to everyone I encountered. Debi really was extremely patient with me early this morning. I was cussing in pain. I could not stand it. I thought there would be no way that I would make it out anytime before noon, which was my designated check-out time.

My good friend Bridgette, who roasts my coffee, was working with IVs and stopped by my room to take out my IV for good. It was great to see her and I put in an order for my favorite Ethiopian coffee. Hopefully we can pick it up later this week.


Thursday, March 8, 2007

The night before my 1st surgery

I've been fortunate to live a long time without any surgical procedures. I am a bit nervous and worried. I think that is understandable. I really do not want to go through this. I know that I have to if I want to resume my life as it was before. It will be a while before I can resume my normal activities. So, I see this time off as an opportunity to do a few things that I've been wanting to for a long time. The time is changing to longer daylight hours. YES, I'd much rather be riding my bike after work and racing on the weekends. But, I did get very caught up in the busy-ness of training, riding, racing, coming, going and working. The last two weeks have been very painful, but they have allowed me a break. It has been a break that I felt I have needed for a long time. I just hate that it take pain and surger to get me that break. It was a break to allow me to refocus on some things and reassess my goals and recall my hopes and desires that have been long lost to the rush of my schedule. I intend to start off my recovery

I cannot eat after midnight. I can only drink clear liquids though 11 AM tomorrow. I will be very hungry when I wake up from all this.


Scheduled for surgery

After reviewing the MRI with the neurosurgeon, I am scheduled for surgery on Friday March 9th. I have a bulging disc that is impacting the nerve root and I have already lost some strength in my right arm. The surgery is necessary to be sure that I do not lose any further strength and eliminate the pain and prevent it from coming back in the future.

After the surgery I will be in Mission Hospital over night and staying with Debi in Hendersonville, NC for at least a week until I am up an on my feet. I will be out of work for 4 weeks to ensure complete recovery.

They are removing a piece of my hip to replace the disc at C6-c7. I have provided a picture of my MRI showing where the pinching is ocurring.

I will do my best to check my email at fobusek @ yahoo . com.

Thanks for your support. I hope to be on my feet again soon. This surgical procedure will allow me to get back to my normal activities in a few months.


Monday, March 5, 2007

MRI data and what is next

Below is my report from my MRI last Wednesday. I've been in extreme pain the last
couple days/nights. The pain is getting worse each day. I have some new drugs today that seem to be more powerful. Hopefully they will get me through the remaining days until I can start address my pain through PT or surgery.

I have started discussing treatments and recovery with physical therapists, a neural surgeon, and people who have had the same problem. I should know more after my appointment with Dr. Silver on Wednesday. He's the neural surgeon.

The horizon does look like surgery. I continue to gather as much information as possible about all options so that I know i will have considered everything.
Recovering from surgery will keep me off the bike for at least 3 months. I have already started considering other activities to last through the beginning of the summer. Lets try some hiking.

C2-C6 are normal.
C6-7: There is mild canal stenosis secondary to a broad based
disc/osteophyte complex. There is also right narrowing and
the probable compression of right C7 nerve root. The
disc/osteophyte complex is asymmetric on the right and measures at
least 5mm in the AP dimension. No significant narrowing of the left

Moderate disc/osteophyte complex at C6-7 asymmetric on the right,
likely compressing the right C7 nerve root. There is narrowing of the
spinal canal and right neural at this level.

All for now....more later.


Friday, March 2, 2007

Initial MRI results

After several phone calls and chasing down someone at my doctors office, I finally received some information today from my MRI on Wednesday.

Apparently there is an abnormal bone spur on vertebrae C7 that is possibly pinching a nerve root and causing the continuous pain down my right arm. I'm going in to see my doctors assistant on Monday to discuss options. What I do know is that I will be referred to either a physical therapist or a neck surgeon. I just need to learn more info before I make that decision. Thankfully I have contact information for both in the cycling world community. C7 seems kind of high compared to where I have been feeling the pain over the last couple months. It is more like T4 or T5, but what do I know.

I will be off the bike for some time.

So, maybe now I can make some progress on some of my projects, like my website Southern Appalachian Road Climbs and maybe do some hiking in the area. So, it is nice that I have planned life such that I have back up activities in the case that physical impediments persist in an attempt to derail me. It has been a good run up til now, I've been extremely fortunate that I have been able to be as active as I have been over the last 5 years or so. I will feel much better once I have the ability to resume my bike riding. Maybe in general, this "slow-down" will ultimately be good for me. It is probably long overdue.

I am taking some time to educate myself, and C7 does make some sense as the brachial plexus is an arrangement of nerve fibers that run into the arm. And by the looks of the diagrams, affects the number of places where I have been feelign sysmptoms, twitchnig, pain in forearm and upper arm and numbness in hand and fingers.

All for now....more later.