Thursday, April 30, 2009

April, my month that wasn't

First of all, I want to thank everyone for their well-wishes after my bike crash. I received lots of cards and some awesome gifts in the mail, and lots of emails and PMs on TE and messages on Facebook. Thank you all so very much. I cannot begin to tell you how moved and grateful I am.

I think I gained a pound or two on Tim-Tams from Australia, courtesy of Leslie. Those things are so good they are evil, and should be categorized as banned substances.

My crash was one month ago Tuesday. I find it hard to believe its been an entire month now, it certainly doesn’t seem that long, April simply flew by.

I think I’m going to call April 2009 "the month that wasn’t". :p

I still don’t remember a thing about the crash, nor about an hour or so beforehand. I don't even remember being taken by ambulance to the clearing at a trailhead in Pt. Reyes National Park, nor being flown from there by helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial hospital.

Lee and I actually drove out to the site of my crash (on Sir Francis Drake Blvd near the eastern edge of Pt. Reyes National Park) a week ago Sunday. Nope, nothing, it was like I had never been there. It was a moderately steep downhill section and the road was fairly bumpy there. At the time of day I passed through it last month, it was partly shaded by trees, somewhat speckled, so the irregularities in the road were probably harder to see. But to be honest I’ve ridden over worse pavement! So no great revelations, I’m still assuming I must have hit a pothole badly, or maybe some pavement came loose as I went over it, or I rolled over something that wasn’t pavement. Perhaps I was distracted by something (darn those shiny objects!), but since no-one was riding with me at that moment, it’ll just be one of life’s little mysteries.

I was at a team get-together last Saturday. I was speaking with one of the assistant coaches who told me that day he was riding with me a ways before the accident. We were carrying on a conversation in which I told him about my work. I even met his wife, who is a park ranger in the national park we were riding through and who was on duty at the time and stopped to say hello. It weirds me out a bit that I remember absolutely none of that!

Anyhow, enough of that. Although I naturally wonder how my crash occurred, and what I could have done to avoid it, I’m actually very glad that I don’t remember the crash or the immediate aftermath. One less bit of baggage for me!

I was in the hospital for four days, two days in the ICU and two days in a regular room. I remember very little of those first couple of days, and the next couple of days, well, I guess they weren’t all that memorable.

I only found out a couple of weeks ago that, for the first day or two, there were some real concerns about my recovery! I had hit my head very hard on the pavement (yep, I was wearing a helmet) and, although I was more or less conscious, I wasn’t really “there”, and they had no good way of knowing how much of my mental acuity would return. I’m told the folks in the ICU were relieved when I got on the phone with my boss on Monday morning and described to him, in reasonably good detail, the patent papers that were due that day that he had to file in my absence (I work as a patent agent). I still think that’s pretty funny, actually – that they revised my prognosis on account of my recall of my patent docket.

My husband Lee was great through all this. He admits he was scared sh*tless those first couple of days, but everyone I spoke to afterwards told me that he kept his head and was a real champ. He stayed at home at night while I was in the hospital, and he had a long drive to and from the hospital each day. He said that the drive, and being at home at night, really helped him keep it together. I cannot imagine what I put him through...

When I got home from the hospital Lee dragged our spare bed downstairs and into the living room, so I could watch TV if I wanted to, and so I wouldn’t need to use the stairs (we have a guest bath downstairs).

Lee took a couple of photos of me a day or two after I got out of the hospital – wow I looked like crap!! The right side of my face was badly scraped up and covered with scabs, yech. I slept a lot for the first couple of weeks, and yeah, surfed the web, but that’s about it.

I’m doing MUCH better now, particularly over the last week or so. I’ve been getting out and seeing friends and basically getting re-acquainted with the world.

My shoulder is almost all healed, it still doesn’t have the complete range of motion back, but it’s close. My face is pretty well healed up and I had the last few stitches removed a couple of days ago. I’ll probably wind up with a bit of scarring on the side of my face near the eye socket, but nothing dramatic – just a small momento.

I still have a bit of double vision, but it’s still going away. I had slightly damaged my fourth cranial nerve, which controls the muscle that points my right eye downward diagonally towards my nose. That particular nerve damages easily, it is a common injury among cyclists, motorcyclists, boxers(!) and others who experience any sort of trauma to the side of the head. When it’s damaged the muscle can’t move the right eye in concert with the left very well, especially if one is looking level or downward (interestingly, I almost never got DV while looking upwards). I saw my opthamologist last week and he says its recovering at a good pace and he thinks it should be pretty well healed within a month. I actually experience DV nowadays mainly in the morning when I wake up, and at night when I’m tired; my vision is generally fine for the rest of the day.

My back – eh, I don’t really know yet. I had a mild compression fracture of the T7 vertebra, and a compression fracture supposedly takes a long time to heal (weeks to months). I’ll be seeing the neuro dr. in a couple of weeks to get some new x-rays taken so he can gauge its recovery. Thankfully, my back has not been painful at all, the worst is that it gets a bit uncomfortable when I’ve been sitting or standing a lot, but that goes away very quickly if I lay down for a few minutes. I last saw the neuro dr a few weeks ago and he said the prognosis for my recovery was very good, and he thought at the time that surgery wasn’t needed. I have no idea yet if I’ll have any sort of chronic back problems coming from this, but time will tell.

I’m wearing that stylin’ brace practically all the time, and I'm relieved to report that no-one has inflicted their Inner Picasso on it yet.

My memory is back to normal, more or less. The doctors had warned Lee that I might be a bit forgetful for the first couple of months, and they were right. I have a bit of trouble remembering names of people I don’t deal with often, names of streets that I don’t frequent, directions to places I don’t go often, that sort of thing –- things that I used to have much less trouble remembering. But that should improve with time. I hope. :D

I’ve been off work ever since the accident and I start back again this coming Monday, although I’ve made a few very brief cameo appearances over the past couple of weeks. Luckily for my boss, I remember my work pretty darn well (although I did have a bit of trouble remembering where on our network I had saved a computer file he was trying to find. Heh heh )

And now, for the really important stuff. I still have no idea when I’ll be biking again, but hopefully it’ll be in a couple of months. And I was getting so strong, darnit!! But I guess I’ll be starting more or less from scratch. Eh, small steps, grasshopper.

And who knows, perhaps I’ll give the Death Ride another try next year.
Smiley from

Monday, April 13, 2009

My bike & I are doing well :)

LeeBob & I took my Lynskey over to wheelgirl in Berkeley yesterday (Sunday) to get it checked out after my crash.

(FWIW, wheelgirl just moved to the corner of San Pablo Ave & Camelia St. in Berkeley, near REI & Gilman St. )

The Lynskey is in remarkably good shape. We were joking over the fact that I took the brunt of the fall to save my bike (heh, yeah, I meant to do that).

The Lynskey R230 frame has replaceable rear derailleur hanger which is a nice feature since mine will need to be replaced - much better than repairing the entire frame, that's for sure! - and a couple of spokes may need to be replaced on the rear wheel, which will need to be re-trued. And the cable cover on the rear der has to be replaced. The Brooks Team Pro saddle is a bit scuffed up on the right back side but that's mainly just cosmetic, and can be fixed w a good leather polish/protectant.

Apart from that though, not much else! The XTR rear derailleur is a bit scuffed up and Kurt (mechanic extraordinaire) will double-check it once the der hanger is replaced, but apart from that everything else (including the frame, the fork and seatpost) have a clean bill of health.

The bike came through this much better than did I. :D

As for me - I'm resting up, not rushing anything. I still have some double vision which is a real PITA, but that is getting better gradually. I'm under an opthamologist's care, no worries. My right shoulder is still a bit achey but it's on the upswing. My back is healing fine, no problems as far as I can tell. I'm off work for another couple of weeks. My return to biking will be sometime after that, I suppose. :p

I'm still wearing my removable vest-like brace most of the time. I hum the "I Am Ironman" tune to myself when I wear it. (If you saw the movie with Robert Downey Jr. you'd know where I'm coming from :D ) I'm halfway tempted to get a plastic facetted bowl to wear on the front to complete the Ironman look, but so far I have resisted the urge...

I'm getting so envious reading about other peoples' rides though! Especially all of the great rides my TNT Death Ride (ex-)teammates are going on. Oh well, them's the breaks.

And it's still sinking in that my Big Plan for the summer -- riding All Five Passes of the Death Ride -- won't be coming to fruition. I hate to admit that I put so much of my psyche into this one ride!

But hey, there are plenty of other rides. I hope to be ready for the Crater Lake Century in Southern OR in mid-Aug, or at least be able to ride a good part of it. The double century the weekend before my 50th birthday (the Solvang Autumn DC in Oct.) is in the big fat "perhaps" column; I was hoping to shoot for that if I managed the DR. My new motto nowadays is "vee shall see". :^)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Woo hoo, Brian & Roberta!

Heere's Brian, a Death Ride TNT team member and last years' SF area LLS Man of the Year, chatting it up with Roberta Gonzales of Ch. 5, a candidate for this years' SF area LLS Woman of the Year.

More info about the LLS Man & Woman of the Year is here.

And here's more about the SF Bay Area LLS Man & Woman of the Year campaign.

Cheers, you all!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Thank you so much Susan & Fatty!!

A couple of months ago Elden Nelson, aka Fat Cyclist, posted on his blog that his fabulous wife Susan was making wonderful bracelets and those who donated X dollars to his Livestrong fundraiser might get in line to get one.

Well being a big fan of Fatty & of Susan I was totally in on that! They are freakin' lovely bracelets, and my cheers and support go to Susan, as well as my good pal Cyndi, who I posted about a couple of weeks back.

Now of course Susan could only make these when she was up to it, so I more-or-less got it out of my head, hoping that maybe I'd receive one by mid-July in time to wear on the Markleeville Death Ride, which I've been training for with TNT.

Well, as Alanis would say, Isn't it ironic? (dontcha think)

Much to my surprise, my own beautiful, wonderful bracelet arrived in the mail for me this week, while I was still in the hospital recuperating from my crash last Saturday. The crash that's gonna keep me from riding the Death Ride after all. Dammit! :p

and Yay!!! The bracelet is beautiful, and means so much to me.


Photobucket (hee hee, ignore the road rash, it'll go away soon enough..)

Waaay cooler than a yellow wristband, indeed! Win Susan! Win Cyndi!

I'm going to wear it all the time (within reason of course).

I'll wear it during my recuperation over the next few weeks, on my first tentative pedals back on the bike (probably on the trainer), and my baby steps back on the Road. And I'll of course wear it on my first big event, possibly the Crater Lake Century in mid-August; hopefully I'll be back up to snuff by then. And Susan and Fatty and Cyndi will be there every step of the way. :)

Thanks for motivating me a little bit more. Susan and Fatty totally rock!! And Cyndi too. :)

Hugs, - Jo

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I'm off the bike for a while :(

Hi all -

I had a crash in the last few miles of my DR Training Ride last Saturday, so I'll be off the bike for at least another few weeks. I'll elaborate a bit more, later. In the meantime, more info is here:

Thread on bikeforums

Thread on Team Estrogen

Thanks so much for all the well-wishes!

- Jo.