Friday, February 29, 2008

The big day, surgery

I had a 730 appointment this morning for pre-op preparation. Dr S did a assessment of my knee again, flexion was 113, thats down from 120 last week (said it wasn't a big deal). I noticed my knee was a bit swollen yesterday for some reason.

Anyway, the surgery is at 2pm today. They said it should be a 2-3 hour procedure followed by 2 hours of recovery. So I should be home by 6 or 7 pm. I'm a bit nervous, but probably more excited than anything. I just want to get back on the road to recovery. The doc is pretty funny, he got out the sheet you see below and marked all over it. The gist of it is:

  • I will feel like shit for 3-5 days, w/ the only consolation being the painkillers
  • Goal: walk w/o limp, no crutches, no brace at 3-6 weeks
  • Expect to be training 5-6 DAYS/WEEK (no rest needed for the legs)
  • Getting back to what he calls a High Performance Leg will take 9 months on average, with 7 months being exceptional
  • I can expect a Medium Performance Leg in 4-5 months (this would be moving around normally, hiking etc, but not returning to full bore sports)
  • Expect that I will begin to wane and demotivate on training at around the 4 month mark. This will be the CRITICAL time to really stay with rehab and training.
I liked his quote: If you want a Ferrari, you have to use Ferrari parts

For the next 2 weeks, Tracy will have triplets, so if anyone reading this wants to help her, give a call

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Gelande Quaffing

Wow, just wow. This is my style of competition right now. Its about the only sport that I actually might stand a chance in. A friend of mine that works at Big Sky Brewing mentioned this was coming up. And today I bumped into 3 videos (yep, I'm putting them all up) of some "practices". Go Big Sky!

Team Big Sky

OR Show


Here's the basic background (from The Mountain Culture blog):“In 1986, the skis were skinny and the snow was fat, and during a 14 foot storm, the infamous underground crew of the Jackson Hole Air Force was going stir crazy in the Bear Claw CafĂ©, waiting for the mountain to open. In those days, the bartender would send a freshly filled beer mug sliding down the bar to the patron who ordered it. One fateful night a beer mug slid off the end of the bar, took air, was caught seconds before a glass-shattering catastrophe, and promptly pounded. Gelande Quaffing was born.”

* knee is feeling okay, still riding one hour a day on the stationary bike with some weight training every few days

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bad ass loggers - Ax Men series

I am really looking forward to this show. I have a lot of respect for the guys that do this. Although the industry has got a bad rap, it's a necessity. From the website:

The first-ever non-fiction series about the treacherous life of Pacific Northwest timber cutters, AX MEN, premieres Sunday, March 9 at 10pm ET/PT on History. From History and Original Productions, the same team responsible for the mega hit, Ice Road Truckers, this series looks at the legacy that the pioneers of our country laid for the present and future generations of loggers.

Deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, rugged men make their living doing one of the most dangerous jobs in history... Logging. Their mission: to retrieve timber perched on mountainsides too steep to access with machines. But this is no easy task.

For more than a hundred years, larger than life characters, many of whom are members of logging families that go back to the time when the West was being settled, have spent their days among towering trees and powerful machines and their nights in outposts far from the comforts of civilization. AX MEN will tell remarkable stories detailing the history of the logging industry, showing how technology has transformed life for today's logger, while the struggle of man versus nature stays the same.

Over the course of thirteen episodes, AX MEN follows four logging crews through a season in the remote forests of northwest Oregon. Plagued by mechanical failures, relentless weather--including a hurricane that ripped through the area----and violent and unpredictable terrain, these brave men risk their lives retrieving the very timber we depend on to build our country.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

One of the best POV (point of view) ski segments yet

In my opinion this is some of the best (minus the youtube distortion) pov footage I've seen. This could seriously be what heaven is like. The terrain in this POV footage is unbelievable. While some pillows, especially those to the north, like in Canada can sometime be a bit tight and dicey. This stuff is perfect, room to let'em run. Sage Cattabriga-Alosa makes it look easy.

Pay close attention to the 1:40 to 1:50 mark, that is what dream pillows are made of.

Sage ripping North Cascades Heli

Totally unrelated, but hilarious. A buddys dad took this picture over near Butte, Montana. I guess the fella said the sled is for sale, $8000, he may even throw in the trailer.

*rode 14 miles tonight

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Changed the blog title

For anybody that actually might be reading this or noticed, I changed the name of the blog. I know, don't be alarmed, settle down everyone. I thought that the "Western Montana Stories" title was just too generic. You know I really want something that grabs the reader when they come in.

Kneetopia just kinda flew into my head. That's all have been thinking about for the last 3 weeks. Thats likely not going to change for quite some time either. I'm starting to really be pretty jacked about the surgery. The idea of turning the corner and having nothing but improvement ahead has me motivated.

I hope that I can retain, if not increase the steam I am feeling right now about exercise and rehab. I plan to work my legs into the best shape they've ever been. However, I realize much if it will be a mental game and learning to trust my knee again. I've done a lot of thinking about just how important my knees really are to me. Just take a sec and think about yours.......

Any how enough of that serious shit, I stumbled across this. The site name alone had me laughing. Theres a few entertaining pictures in here too. Check out Passed Out Wookie

btw - I've worked into some 11 mile rides on the spinner in the basement and have been able to lift some weights at the gym. Really no pain at all, its just not stable. I'm almost able to walk down stairs (which was very difficult), although you can tell something ain't right.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Billy Poole: A tribute video

Team 13 put together a tribute video for Billy Poole, you should watch it. Right Click, Save As this...

I didn't know him but this movie definitely moves me. RIP Billy.

Salt Lake Tribune article

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The verdict is in

My knee saga continues.
I met with the 2 different ortho surgeons this week and got a definite diagnosis on my left knee. I do in fact have a torn ACL and MCL. I've made a decision to go with the Dr. that was unanomously recommended by friends. It was really a pretty easy decision. The knowledge and confidence that Dr. Schutte had made me feel much better. He outlined the injuries and showed me the road to recovery.

I am scheduled to have reconstructive surgery on the 29th of this month. For the next 2 weeks I will be rehabbing as hard as I can. I am cleared to do some weight lifting at the gym and can ride the bike. I'll be getting a stationary bike, that way I have no excuse not to be on it every day. The idea is to keep the muscles as strong as possible (as deconditioning, see losing muscle happens quickly), so that once the ACL is replaced you don't have to totally rework your muscles. I have already noticed my left quad has started to get soft.

Dr. Schutte will perform a patellar tendon graft, see below:

The ligament shown above then replaces the defunct ACL. Pretty cool.

I've been coping pretty well considering all the snow that continues to stack up in the high country. I have found myself thinking about the warmth of Spring and Summer. Really looking forward to getting a mountain bike and getting out there. Oh yeah, then theres work. I haven't been in for 3 weeks. But it looks like next week I'll be downtown in the headquarters office on light duty.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Check it out bra!

Some good laughs here. Love this guy.

On the knee update: able to ride 3.5 miles today on the stationary bike. Monday I'll find out if I need surgery.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

First physical therapy session

Since the injury I have been pretty down and out. I am trying to stay positive but it's hard especially when this winter looks to be just starting. The storms have been relentlessly pouring in from the Pacific. Friends have seemed to stop calling (not as much anyway), they don't want to rub it in how good the skiing is. I have pretty much been riding the recliner, icing and elevating like its my job. The great thing is I get to hang out with the twins a lot. Tracy has been awesome at helping out and now seems to suddenly have triplets. Like we needed another thing to worry about?

I had a PT session this morning. They measured my range of motion (ROM) and found it to be:

  • 9 degrees shy of full extentsion (180 degrees being fully flexed; with most males being able to flex past that another 3 degrees). So I guess that puts me at about 170ish.
  • On extension it feels like there is a wedge blocking it from doing so. The PT said that was most likely the swollen sac around the joint.
  • Flexing the knee, my ROM is 85, a normal knee goes to 135.

My MCL is definitely hammered because when they tried to pull my leg outward, it was instant pain. On Friday the PA said it was Grade III - complete tear of the MCL. Patients have significant pain and swelling, and often have difficulty bending the knee. Instability, or giving out, is a common finding with grade III MCL tears. A knee brace or a knee immobilizer is usually needed for comfort, and healing may take 6 weeks or longer.

Diagram of torn MCL

Towards the end of the session, I iced my knee and used electronic stimulation. Four leads were placed on my knee and low voltage current was sent to my knee. It felt like a small buzzing down there. My knee felt much better (all things considered) when I left the office.

However, with that said I just got a call back from the PA that evaluated my knee on Friday. The radiologist had looked over the results of the MRI and can conclusively say that there is a tear in the ACL, how bad.....I won't know until they evaluate it in a week (when the swelling goes down).

Diagram of ACL and injuries

They gave me a list of exercises to start on, which I did when I got home. I laughed until I tried them. What would usually be a walk in the park was very difficult. Just simply squatting down, my knee trembled in pain.

I'll be shopping for a stationary bike and mountain bike now.......

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Why knee? Left ACL

Artificial florescence highlighted the snow-capped trees as I glided up the T-bar track. The wind was absent and the snappy 15-degree air was still. Each branch was laden with unfermented white pillows. The darkness wrapped the beefy tree trunks in black as I gazed into the black. Small frost sparkles pulsed as I got off at the top.

My first night ski in 10 years was just as I remembered it. All senses were heightened in the night air. Lazy flakes fell out of the sky, amplified by the light. Dark figures were slowly filing out of the bar at the bottom of the run. Racers readied the run; a drill whined in the night air and someone screwed a gate into the snow.

I took a few warm up runs, the snow was perfectly carvable. Visions flashed me back to my teenage years at local’s night on the ski hill. Wild packs of animated skiers darted through the night. Whoops and hollers played catch up as we started our Chinese downhill. Sparks flew off the ski edges as they passed over tiny granules of dirt.

I slid to a stop at the bottom of the run and a fine spray of snow drifted down the back of my neck bringing me back to reality. Shadows were heavy on the run, dark areas were punctuated by the soft ripples of the gate flags. Skiers slipped down the course removing the soft snow, exposing a fast racing surface.Rebounding chatter on the walkie-talkies tried to remedy the timing problem. A few racers tested the wand, poling hard for the first GS gate. Racers were paired up based on last week’s seedtime, a great format for fun on a winter Wednesday night. There would be 5 more nights to give'er.

After some discussion with fellow Team Rhino mates, my strategy was to ski a solid run but leave some heat in my back pocket for next week. A great opportunity presented itself and I ran the course as a pre-runner. The run was solid, revealing race techniques that I still clung to from high school ski team days. The 174 GS skis were like toothpicks in comparison to the powder hungry fatties I had skied the day before. These were like trains on a rail line, following my every command.

The first race pair of the night came out of the gate on Go, confirming everyone’s speculation that tonight would be fast. A small pit of excitement grew larger in my stomach as I gauged the course. I’d let them open up and start to tuck just as the slope made its last rollover.My number was up and I slid into starting position. Man, it felt like the good old times, but pressure free. It felt superb as I powerfully ripped past the poles. I couldn’t help but notice that the racer on my left, blue course was right there with me. We continued this way until the 2nd to last gate.

I was late for the last gate before the finish line, I could see it........ I stood on my outside edge like my life depended on it. As I tried to compensate for my tardiness, the ski hooked up and my body twisted the opposite way. While my edges lost hold, I knew I was seriously out of control. My edge caught and I spun out into a flurry of white.

In an instant I realized that my knee was in for some damage. I slid to a stop and immediately felt a burning sensation in my knee. It felt like the Snow Trolls had been in my pants with a blow torch, searing my ligaments. My season, my job and the epic days that would be lost streamed before my eyes.

I heard someone tell me to finish. I gritted my teeth in agony and was able to ski the remaining twenty five feet to the finish line. Making a beeline to the bar, I hoped that my knee would somehow miraculously recover en route. I struggled to remove my skis and hobbled with my head down to an open seat. My ugly grimacing face must have looked out of place amidst the giddy faces of the rest of the bar patrons.

Sitting in disbelief and now realizing the seriousness of the injury, I scanned the room for a familiar face. A tall bearded man offered a grin, laced with beer. Jeffery listened and pledged a much needed beer to me. The bartender slung the first of many bags of ice for my knee.

After yesterday’s diagnosis from the knee doc, it is looking like a tough road to recovery. The MRI revealed a grade III tear of MCL and ACL tear with possible meniscus damage. I am bound by a large knee brace, PT appointments next week and a follow up in 2 weeks for further evaluation. Here’s to next winter!