Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone reading my blog. Hope you had a great time. May 2011 also be a great year and may you accomplish all your dreams and goals. Thanks again for all the advice and well wishes on my way to recovery after the surgery, really appreciate it.

We had a quiet Christmas weekend and just relaxed at the house. No driving around or visiting family. My elder sister was suppose to spend the weekend at our place but some last minute change in plans saw them not coming. My younger sister spend Christmas with Gerhard's family on their family farm in the Freestate and Kim's sister and brother also spend their Christmas with their in laws.

That meant it was just me, Kim, DJ and my Mother at our place. It was the first time in years that it was only us and to be honest I quite liked it. No busy schedule and preparing food all the time and entertaining everyone.

We opened our presents on Friday night and just relaxed outside next to the pool. Christmas day was a pleasant sunny day and we had a BBQ and spend most of the day next to the pool. Picture right at the top is DJ with her present, a scooter. One thing about DJ is she is not one for TV games or fancy expensive presents, she like the plain simple things that make her happy. This is her third scooter and she rides it for hours until I can't repair it anymore.

I didn't do any training on Christmas day but did do some biking and swimming the day before Christmas and on boxing day. I am really happy with my progress and my power on the bike is back at the same level it was a month ago but my heart rate is still higher. Coach is also happy with my progress and that I regained my power so quickly after surgery.

Hopefully the fitness level will be back soon. One thing I've seen in the past is that if I really need to up my fitness level I can do it by putting in some extra running, pity I'm not allowed to run for another week.

I am now really itching to put on those running shoes, just hope the knee also feel that way.

DJ playing the piano for us Christmas

Haven't done it in a while but here's some info of the sessions I did over the last couple of days.

Bike: 1h10, 41km, (main set 3x15min at 265-275 watts on 5 min recovery), 85rpm ave, 146bpm ave

Swim: 45min, 2.5km. (main set: 1x500m, 5x50m, 1x400m, 4x50m, 1x300m, 3x50m, 1x200m, 2x50m, 1x100m, 1x50m. on 20 sec rest)

Bike: 1hr

Bike: 1h20, 45km, (main set: 4x12min at 265-275 watts on 5 min recovery.) 82rpm ave, 149bpm ave

Walk: 30min walk with DJ on her scooter, picture below. No knee pain--> happy

Below is Eddy and Dolly getting a bath before treating them with some food on Christmas.

We had such a laugh at Eddy, looking on and don't wanna miss anything while we bath Dolly.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Need a Lifestyle Change"

Well I went for my follow up visit to the Specialist on Tuesday, a week after my knee surgery and I didn't like what he said.

After three operations to the same knee and removing some cartilage at each one there ain't not much left on the inside of my right knee.

According to him if I carry on the way I am, running long distance, I will only be able to continue doing it for another two years max. My initial reaction was OK see you in two years then we remove some more cartilage but maybe that's not the brightest idea.

When I started talking to him about Ironman and when I can start training again he bluntly said: "You need a lifestyle change" I didn't like it but maybe it's that old saying "The truth hurts" He says I have a choice: Continue the way I am and in two years I won't be able to run anymore, never mind the distance.

Or I can switch to shorter distance Triathlon and will have more than two years but also not guaranteed to last forever. His suggestion is to switch to Cycling or find another sport that doesn't involved heavy impact on the knee.

At this stage I am confused, angry and frustrated and need to make a decision but don't want to make one. Maybe I can still do Ironman's but not competitive anymore. Will work hard on my bike and swim and just do short distance running. That way I might hammer the swim and bike at Ironman, run the first 10-15km's of the marathon and then walk the rest.

Another option is to switch to half Ironman distance racing?

At least he gave me the go ahead to get back at Bike and Swim training but no Running for another four weeks. I emailed coach and we adjusted my training, guess it's now time to improve some more on the bike and finally focus on getting my swimming better. I've also asked coach for some feedback on how little running one can get away with to still be competitive at an HIM or IM.

One good sign is my knee doesn't bother me on the bike and my power is down but not as much as I thought. Yesterday's and Today's bike sessions were good. Amazing how some training can lift the spirit.

I've also watched a lot of swim videos on improving technique (or in my case getting technique) and I am now spending a lot of my training session working on technique and not just piling on the miles. Thanks Nina and Russell for the swim video links, appreciate.
My younger sister, Heloise, DJ and my older sister's son,Tiaan

Last weekend my sister and her family from Polokwane (about 300km up north) came to visit and we had a great time. They were on their way to the South Coast for holiday and then we will see them again for Christmas.

Heloise, Mom, Etresia, Kim, me and DJ

DJ was fooling around with the Santa hat and at one stage Eddy got hold of it and what a mission to catch him to get it back, one fast little doggy

Friday, December 10, 2010

Recovery Going Good

Well it's been three days since my knee surgery and the recovery is going much better than expected. Don't know if I'm wrong but my recovery three years ago took much longer but I must add they also did my ITB back then.

I'm not a doctor but from what I can see the Specialist work from the bottom of the knee this time and it seems that he didn't cut any muscles. With the previous two knee operations the cuts were made top and bottom and there was definitely damaged to the muscles.

Yesterday the knee was a bit swollen but after talking to the physio I realized I overdid the exercises they gave me to do. I've taken it a little bit easier since then and the swelling is almost gone.

Since this morning I can even climb stairs without helping myself with my arms or only doing it with the one leg.

I even did some one leg bike pedaling today, don't think you can call it training as it was only ten minutes but I had to get on the bike and get the heart rate going. I gained renewed and huge respect for athletes doing an Ironman or even a sprint triathlon with a missing limb.

I've done a lot of one leg intervals but then you switch between the legs and it's not as hard as going longer just with one leg.

Hopefully I can start swimming on Tuesday when they remove the stitches even if it's only with a pull buoy at first.

One thing I've heard on many occasions and have seen now when I was in Hospital is that you recover much faster when you are fit and not overweight.

When I came out of theater it wasn't long before I started reading my book and had lunch without feeling nausea's. By late afternoon I was walking around and the sisters couldn't believe how flexible my leg was. They said they couldn't believe I had an operation that morning and didn't even take anything for pain.

Next to me was a guy, very friendly and we chatted a lot but he was overweight and by his looks not as fit as what I am. In his case it was just the opposite, and we had the exact same surgery.

He had a lot of pain and during the first night and at one stage they told him that they can't give him anything more for pain as he had more that what's actually allowed. He slept the whole afternoon after surgery and it took him a while to get out of the "deep sleep" It was also only the next morning that he could get out of bed and had to use a crutch to get along.

When the physio visited us the next morning he couldn't do half the exercises she gave us as his leg was too sore and stiff.

After seeing him suffer I said to myself, this will be my motivation to never loose my fitness or become a couch potato. Never know when you need to have surgery again (haha)

Little buggers causing me some knee pain

One last thing that was quite funny was the nursing staff being confused with my low heart rate. Usually my resting heart rate is between 40 and 45 bpm. Going into surgery it was 50 bpm.

When they took my blood pressure and pulse later that afternoon it was back at 40 bpm. The nurse had a look at it, then switched the machine off and on again and then it was 39. Then she started fiddling with the device that connects to my finger and wanted to switch it off again, I told her not to worry as this is normal.

When the night shift nurse came later that night the same thing happen and my heart rate was 42bpm. I didn't say anything and liked the way she scratched her head. I asked her what's wrong and she said my pulse is not right and she's going to call the head nurse. I then helped her and said not to worry it's normal, don't want them giving me something to get the heart pumping faster.

O sorry one last thing about my Hospital visit and you probably have seen the Tweets but the food was just so little it was insane. Picture above is of breakfast, suppose to be the biggest meal of the day. At one stage I thought this is a weight loss clinic. One is suppose to recover after surgery but how do your body recover if you get children portions. Luckily I was only in hospital for two days otherwise I would have starved.

When I arrived back home Eddy was all over me and didn't let me out of his sight for the rest of the day.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Treasure Hunt

Just an update about the knee. Went to see the Specialist today and I am going ahead with surgery tomorrow. Picture above is close up of the loose piece inside knee (little white dot above knee bone)

As I said in the previous post, tomorrow is his last day of surgery for 2010 or else I must wait until mid January 2011. He also agreed that I will eventually need to remove the loose piece.

One thing I like about this Specialist is he give you the various options and is not like some Doctor who take out the knife and then ask you what's wrong, just to make an extra buck ( and I talk out of experience).

I remember the same when I did see him four years ago, he gives you all the options with surgery as the last.

At first I thought that the surgery would be "easier" and my recovery time will be quicker with the piece being separated but after he explained it to me I am a little worried.

If it was a torn Meniscus he knows exactly where to go, although your recovery time is longer. In my case where the piece has separated, it is like a Treasure Hunt. He can find the piece immediately without "digging" too deep, remove it and recovery will be quick .

But the downside is because the piece is loose and moving around he may not be able to find it immediately and will have to look for it, which can cause more "damage" to the knee.

He also did warn me that it may also be possible that he can't find the loose piece which in reality mean I will have an operation, be out for six weeks and will still have the loose piece inside the knee.

This worries me a lot but I guess I have to take the chance. Rather take the chance than carry on training with an injury causing more damage. Just hope the piece is somewhere to be seen tomorrow and is not going into hiding.

Yesterday we went through to Pretoria for the Christening of one of our nieces (I think, don't know what you call it in English but it's Kim's, Sister's, Daughter's, Son). Above is DJ with Monja, Jonathan and Nathan after the service. We didn't stay too long as me, Kim and DJ came back to Witbank and had Lunch at a Restaurant to celebrate Kim's birthday. Below is a little rocking horse we bought for Nathan. Kim ordered it from a friends Dad who still build them and it is quite solid. You don't see these type of toys a lot these days.
Just had to post this picture (below), sorry a bit skew from taking it while driving but I was just amazed. It is a wall that the Government had to build on the middle section of the Freeway just outside Witbank. The Freeway goes past an informal settlement either side of the Freeway and they had a lot of pedestrian killing of people crossing the Freeway, illegally.
Well I guess it didn't help much and if you don't wanna walk 200 meters to use the pedestrian bridge across the Freeway, which was build before the wall and can't get over a 12 foot wall, you just go through the Wall- AMAZING!!!!.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Rock in my Shoe

Before I continue I want to thank everyone who left a comment on the blog, twitter or by email/sms regarding my knee injury. Thank you for all the encouragement.

Well finally after almost waiting two weeks to see the doctor I was there on Friday afternoon. One advantage of having one Doctor dealing with all my sport injuries is there is no "Playing Twenty Questions with me" and she knows my history and what sport I do and at what intensity.

She confirmed what my coach thought it is, a torn meniscus with a small piece separated from the meniscus.

I explained to her that my knee's been sore for two weeks and my running is uncomfortable and sore but funny enough on Friday I had no pain when I went out for a run.

The danger of having a piece "floating" around is, one moment it can be in a spot which won't bother you but the next moment it can move to a part of the knee that can make running impossible.

After a long discussion and explaining to her my race schedule and goals for the new season, we came to an agreement to remove the loose piece as soon as possible. If I wasn't a Triathlete with running making up a big part of the sport I may have come away without an operation.

If you are not that active and doing a sport you can live with the little discomfort but the three main reasons why I am having the piece removed is number one I can't train at 100% intensity.

My running sessions are average and I can't do any speed work.

The second reason is the loose piece can move into an area that may make running impossible. With my luck this will happen during my pre-race run the day before Ironman or even during Ironman.

Finally the longer I wait the more damage the loose piece is causing, moving around in my knee and grinding and rubbing against other internal knee parts.

And as Doc says, "If you have a little rock in your shoe you stop take it out and walk on"

One thing I can say is my Doctor is very thorough. She did a sonar scan and x-rays (they even give you a CD these days).

[I haven't had X-rays taken in a very long time but it's quite cool these days with the CD. I played around with it and the CD program allows you to measure and highlight different parts on the x-rays. I just had a little panic attack when I couldn't find the function to delete all the measurements and drawings I made on the x-rays.

Was already thinking of what the specialist will think of all these drawings on the x-rays. Luckily I managed to erase it all].

She then phoned the specialist who did my previous knee operation and managed to squeeze me in to see him on Monday and arranged to provisionally put me on the theater list for Tuesday.

If the specialist agree with her findings I am going for the operation on Tuesday.

Must say if she wasn't assisting the specialist during his operations and work so close with him I would have had no choice but to wait until next year to have the operation as Tuesday is the last day of 2010 that he is doing operations.

That would have frustrated the, you know what out, of me and might have given my 2011 season a major drawback.

Recovery time depends as every patient reacts differently but being healthy and fit and with the piece being loose inside the knee and no need to work the meniscus to remove it, she reckons three weeks.

As I said she can't be 100% sure but she think I will be able to run again in three weeks and will be able to swim and bike before that. Now it is just another wait until Monday for the final decision from the specialist.

Forgot to post this picture with the previous post of DJ playing with Aiden, quite a nice pic. Oh and tomorrow is Kim's birthday. Me and DJ spend most of the day shopping for presents, having something to eat and some father, daughter time.

Happy birthday Kim, love U