They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab — I Said Yes, Yes, Yes!

Guest poster Don Blount sets an example for us all by the way he’s coming back from hip replacement surgery.

BlountOnBiking
April 20 marked 39 days since I underwent surgery to replace my left hip.

Since then my focus has been on recovery, rehab and rest.

This is my second hip replacement; my right hip was replaced with an artificial joint in 2004. But this time around a less-invasive surgery has enabled me to recover more quickly.

I checked into the hospital at 12:30 p.m. March 12, underwent surgery later that day, and was on my way home by 2:30 p.m. March 13, a stay of 26 hours.

Because I was fit, my surgeon’s directions was to monitor any swelling I had in my leg. A physical therapist instructed me to not overdo it.

I was on a bike trainer by Sunday. I was not pedaling fast, hard or with any resistance but I was pedaling.

Trainer_Rehab

I spent my days doing rehab exercises and reading while elevating and icing my leg. I read nine books in 30 days and watched live at least part of every game of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

My rehab includes:

  • Bike. First on the trainer and now on the road.

Bike_Selfie copy

  • Pool. I have a series of exercises to do in the pool to strengthen my hip and legs. This workout takes about 50 minutes.
  • Gym. Leg extensions, leg curls, leg presses, calf raises, resistance bands, treadmill and elliptical trainer. This workout takes about 90 minutes. Here’s a look.
  • Exercises for core, hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes and stretches for quadriceps. Click here to view workout video:

I am still working on walking without a limp and building my stamina. I find that rest includes a lot of naps after rehab work.

Without question, cycling has helped me through this process. Physically, I am in better shape and that has its obvious benefits. But mentally having ridden hills, centuries and double centuries helped me too. As I have told others, recovering from hip replacement surgery is nothing compared to going up a long difficult climb.

Overall, I am pleased with my progress. I returned to work on April 15 and although I am doing well, I do not receive full clearance until June 12, which is three months after surgery. Hmm, that would put the Bass Lake Powerhouse Double Century just under four months away….

Sideways

Our frequent guest poster, Don Blount, is dealing with a setback.

BlountOnBikingMy cycling year has gone sideways.

I had planned on building on what I did last year, riding a total 6,500 miles and completing a bunch of challenging rides, including the Tour of the California Alps Death Ride and my first double century.

This year my goal was to complete three double centuries, which would give me a California Triple Crown and to complete the Death Ride again.

But man makes plans and God laughs.

Instead of preparing for my next ride, I am readying for major surgery in March and rehab with hopes of being able to complete a double century by the fall.

Don's left hip.
Don’s left hip.

The problem is osteoarthritis in my left hip. It is something that I have been tracking for nearly two years. X-rays taken about last May showed no cartilage in the joint, which meant there was bone on bone grinding.

My doctor described it succinctly: “You have a crappy hip.”

Cycling is a non-weight bearing activity – except for standing when climbing or making a hard effort – so the only option was to live with it until it became problematic.

So I rode and for the most part without any significant problems.

In October I had a quick consult with an orthopedic surgeon who looked at the x-ray, and told me to come see him when I was ready. Ready meant ready for hip replacement surgery.

Don's right (replaced) hip.
Don’s right (replaced) hip.

The hip was balky but it provided no real indication that it would fail.

But over the Christmas holidays it took a turn, becoming increasingly difficult to use until one morning after New Year’s I got up and could not walk at all.

My hip had not just deteriorated; it felt as if it had imploded. I can ride, I can work out. But the pain became constant and I needed a cane to walk.

It was time for hip replacement surgery.

I spoke with my doctor who referred me to the surgeon and a surgery date was scheduled.

I may view this major surgery a bit differently than other people since I had my right hip replaced in 2004. People do not know I have a replacement hip unless I tell them. The surgeon says I can be on bike trainer a few days after surgery.

That’s my new starting point on which to build and hopefully I can complete a California Triple Crown in 2016.

Deer Flies and Fire Ants

If you ride for any length of time, you’re bound to have an encounter with bees. But sometimes, inhabitants of the insect world can be other types — and cause even more discomfort than a bee sting.

While pedaling beside a stormwater runoff basin during the week, I felt a sharp stinging sensation in my right arm — as though a red-hot needle had just pricked the surface of my skin. I couldn’t react right away, because the path took a turn into some woods and I needed to concentrate on my line. But shortly after, I looked down at my arm and saw a deer fly just sitting there. It hadn’t moved, but also didn’t seem to have done any more damage than the initial prick. Good thing about deer flies: They’re not very quick. I stopped the bike and smacked it. It squashed like a rotten tomato.

The bite did no harm. I had no swelling, no inflammation. Maybe I got lucky. The luck didn’t last long.

Saturday evening, I was installing a new garden hose on the side of the house. A few spots on my lawn are starting to brown out, and it was time to wet them down before the once-a-week sprinkling I give the entire lawn (We have an in-ground sprinkler system, but we’re allowed to water by hand whenever we want). I was in my usual Texas summer attire: shorts and old boat shoes with holes in the soles. Nothing unusual.

Until something did feel unusual. Not quite the same sensation as the deer fly bite, but I felt tiny things crawling over my feet and ankles. In the gathering dusk, I had trouble seeing exactly what they were, but I knew. Fire ants. I must have stepped on a hidden ant hill and set them to swarming.

I dropped the hose and dashed into the house. My wife ordered me into the shower to wash down my feet, while she found some hydrocortisone cream. I smeared that all over my feet when I got out of the shower, and found some Benadryl — the strongest antihistamine we have in the house. For the last hour before going to bed, I applied cold compresses to my feet.

Not a pretty sight. Doesn't feel great, either.
Not a pretty sight. Doesn’t feel great, either.

I was doubtful whether I would make the Sunday club ride. That would be disappointing, because we already had some B riders lined up, and it would be nice to ride with other people instead of on my own.

The Benadryl did its job — I slept like the dead until my dogs woke me up around 5 a.m. The first thing I did was assess the damage. It looked pretty much as the picture shows. Some of the bites had already started to rise into small blisters. Those are the ones that dare you to scratch them. But if you do, all manner of bad stuff can happen. I set about getting ready for the ride.

When feet are enclosed in snug cycling shoes, the fire ant bites aren’t noticeable. We did a nice 45-mil ride to Kyle and back, and I was hardly bothered by the bites at all — except for one on the inside of my middle finger. That must have happened when I tried to flick off one of the ants. It just grabbed my finger instead. And it was right at the spot where my finger curls around the handlebar. I constantly had to adjust my grip on the ride, so as not to rub on the bite.

So, two good things out of this adventure: the deer fly bite had no consequences, and you can ride though a dozen or more fire ant bites without them bothering you.

I’ll be sure to let you know if I’m proved wrong on that score the next time I don’t take precautions when working in the yard.