Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Glad to be Back in a Groove

Monday – ran five miles – 45:26 – 9:05 AP
Tuesday – swam 750m in the morning at the pool – 14:22 – rode the trainer for 45 minutes after work
Wednesday – swam 1000m in the morning at the pool – 18:43

I started the week with an easy Monday evening run on the Iron Horse Trail. My plan was to run four miles but Jen had five on her schedule so I tagged along with her. There was a bit of a breeze blowing while we were out; not enough to make a headwind, but just strong enough to keep most of the bugs down (the trail runs along a canal).

Tuesday morning we were up and out the door around 6:15 to head up to the gym for a swim. It was one of those mornings where I really didn’t feel like getting up but by the time I was in the pool I was feeling good. I have been focusing on stroke count and reaching out w/ each stroke to get as long as possible in the water and it seems to be getting easier each time. As I speed up my count goes up to around 34-36 for each 50m but I think that is fine as long as I keep good form. I think I will start incorporating some speed work and other drills into my swims in a couple weeks and see how that improves my performance in the water. Last year, and this year for the most part, I would just go to the gym and swim my distance for the day. I’m sure that adding more laps will help build strength but I think that mixing it up with some drills will help increase my speed in the water. My first tri of the season is in early May w/ a swim of 800m. Realistically I think I can complete it in 14 minutes based on my current swimming ability but If I work hard for the next month or so I might be able to take 30-60 seconds off of that time. (I didn’t think about any of this on Tuesday, this all occurred to me during my swim today – I just thought I might as well included it here)

I rode my bike home from work Tuesday evening, threw on my bike shorts and a technical shirt, and hopped on the trainer for 45 minutes. I watched the first part of Gone in 60 Seconds on the computer and before I knew it I was in my cool-down.

This morning I was up around 6am to head back up to the gym for another swim. I had 750m on the schedule but thought I would go for 1,000 if I felt like it once I was in the pool. There was only one other person in the pool when I got in and after a few minutes he was out and I had it to myself for a while. Eventually a couple more people got in and by the time I got out all of the lanes were full. I took a quick steam then headed home for some breakfast and a shower.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What a Difference a Week Makes

This last week I was able to workout everyday with very little to no discomfort. I attempted my first post-surgery run on Saturday and it went well with the miles coming in at 8:26, 8:27, 8:13, and 7:25. My lower legs were a bit sore on Sunday and still are a bit sore today but it’s nothing to complain about, just a little general tightness/soreness. Here is a breakdown of my workouts for the week:

Monday – 30 minutes on the trainer
Tuesday – Swam 500m at the pool – 9:41
Wednesday – 30 minutes on the trainer
Thursday – Swam 750m at the pool – 14:21
Friday – 45 minutes on the trainer and swam 750m at the pool – 14:08
Saturday – Ran 4mi 32:31 (8:07 AP), walked one mile (½ before, ½ after)
Sunday – Short hike w/ Jen (50 minutes) followed by 550m swim at the pool – 9:58

It was great to be out running again and I had a smile on my face the whole time. I may have gone a bit hard on the last mile but the sun was shining, I felt good and was happy to be out, and Tiesto was playing on my iPod so I just went with it and picked up the pace.

My schedule this week basically follows that of last week with the addition of some more running miles. The trainer has been great so far and I think it will really pay off when I have to work late and don’t have time or don’t feel like getting out on the road.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Getting Better All The Time

Two and a half weeks since the surgery and I am feeling quite a bit better. I started the weekend out with a seven mile walk while Jen was doing her second 20 mile training run for Boston. It took me 1:45:00 to walk the seven miles, an average of about 15 minutes per mile. It’s funny to think that when I walked two miles a few days after my surgery it took me 45 minutes – of course I was doing the “old man shuffle” at that time so it’s no surprise that I wasn’t moving very quickly.

On the way home from the walk we stopped at Cyclepath and purchased a trainer. I decided to go with the CycleOps Fluid2 based on feedback I have received and some research I did online.

We spent the evening hanging around the house having drinks and grilling some burgers. That night we watch Blood Diamond which was really good. The other movie we have now is Into the Wild – it was a great book so I am a bit skeptical of the movie but from what I have heard it was done quite well.

Sunday morning we headed up to the gym for a swim. I was a bit tender in the incision area but it was more of a tightness than a soreness. When I would reach out with my left hand I could feel a bit of a pull but it didn’t get any worse during the swim so I just took it easy and ended up doing about 500m. At the end of the swim I felt a bit better, almost like the stretching in the water did some good. I plan on going again tomorrow morning and trying to do 500-750 with little or no stopping (I think the most I did without stopping on Sunday was 100m just because I didn’t want to push it too hard the first time back in the water). Sunday evening we headed down to San Jose with some friends to watch the Sharks play the Oilers. The Sharks were going for 12 wins in a row; unfortunately the ended up losing in the shootout but it was still fun to go and watch the game.

This morning I rode the new trainer for 30 minutes and felt good the whole time. I watched a bit of the Princess Bride on HBO OnDemand and the time went by fairly quickly. I forgot to wear my gloves and didn’t have a towel to wipe my sweat with (yes, I could have just got off the bike and grabbed those two things but by the time I needed them there was only about 10 minutes left in the ride) so next time I will be sure to have those when I start. I am also dealing with a clicking sound on my bike when I pedal which is pretty annoying. I took it into my LBS this weekend and they took apart the bottom bracket and tightened everything up (pedals too) but that didn’t help the problem. This morning I noticed that the sound seemed to be coming from the chain so I’ll take it back in and have them check that out.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Slowly but Surely

Since my last post I have become much more mobile and am able to move around with little pain. I still have some discomfort toward the end of the day and sneezing or coughing still shoots pain through my side but other than that I am feeling much better. The first day I was able to stand up out of bed without any pain (still some discomfort) was last Thursday;I still can not sleep on my left side but hopefully that will change in a few days as well. I am still paranoid that the hernia will come back but that is more due to my memory of the pain of surgery and not because I think it will actually come back.

This weekend I walked five miles while Jen ran 20. My back was a bit sore toward the end because I still can't really engage my core but other than that I felt fine. My goal is to get on the stationary bike Wed evening and again on Friday then try swimming this weekend. If all goes will I will ramp up the swimming next week and ride the stationary bike a couple more times before heading out on the road to get in some miles. Next weekend I will try running and see how that goes. I am expecting a bit of discomfort but I can deal with that. The NAPA sprint is the first weekend of May and I am confident I can complete the course, my main focus will now be turning in a good time at Showdown in June.

I have signed up for a Half Marathon in July and am looking for another Tri or two right now. I think I will head back down to San Diego in September for the Mission Bay Tri but I'll have to see how that fits into my training for the trail marathon in October. Yep - I've committed to running a trail marathon with Jen in October. Since she is the running schedule master I'm going to see what she comes up with and then determine if it's possible to work swimming and biking around the running days.

Overall I am happy with the way I am healing up and am looking forward to getting back in the pool, on the bike, and in my running shoes. Well, looking forward to is a bit of an understatement - I CAN'T FREAKIN WAIT TO GET BACK!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks to everyone who sent me some positive thoughts during my recovery, much appreciated.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hernia Surgery Report

I was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia in February 2008 and due to a cancellation at the hospital I was able to have it operated on two days after my consultation with my surgeon. I had considered waiting until after the tri season to have it operated on but I decided it was best to have it done right away, recover, and still have the whole season ahead of me. The biggest risk in waiting would have been having it get bad mid-season and being totally screwed.

After the surgery I found out that I had both a direct and indirect hernia, both of which were fixed in the same operation using the patch/mesh open incision method. Following is my account of the operation and initial recovery period.

Nice things to have after surgery:

1) High calorie, high sugar juice, tea, etc
2) Fruit
3) Smoothies
4) Chocolate
5) Chocolate Milk
6) Soup
7) Ice pack
8) Someone to help you out around the house (most important)
9) A positive attitude
10) Good Movies, Books, and Magazines
11) Cell phone near by
12) Internet access/laptop (I don’t have a laptop  )
13) A pillow to put under your leg (the leg on the side of the incision)
14) Extra Strength Tylenol for after your prescription runs out

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We arrived at the hospital at 5:30am to check in and complete some paperwork. At about 5:50am I was taken back to pre-op by one of the nurses where I was given a gown and some slipper socks. After walking back over to the nurse she asked me a series of questions; “what is your name and date of birth”, “why are you here today”, “can you point to the area where you have your hernia”, and “who is your surgeon”. I had to sign a form that had the answers to all of those questions then I climbed into my bed. The nurse warmed me up with this blanket that is hooked up to a hose that pumps warm air into it and after a few minutes of that she hooked me up to my IV. At this point the only thing going into my system was the “sugar water” solution but the nurse showed me the antibiotics and sedative they would inject into the lines right before I went into surgery. She then again asked me to point to the side of my body they were going to operate on and she then wrote YES on that side (that made me feel good).

At this point it was about 6:30am and the nurse went out into the waiting area and brought Jen back to sit with me while I waited to be taken into surgery. We talked for a bit and after about 20 minutes the anesthesiologist came over to talk to me and tell me about “going under”. The nurse checked on me a couple more times and then at around 7:15am she came by and told me they were just about ready for me. A few minutes later the anesthesiologist and the nurse came back over and started getting my bed ready to roll over to the operating room. I said goodbye to Jen and she said “good luck” and they started rolling me away.

As they rolled my bed through the halls the sedative was injected into my IV and I started smiling and feeling relaxed. We rolled into the operating room where four or five people dressed in blue were bustling about. I remember being moved from my rolling table onto the operating table and looking up at the lights (a series of circular lights joined in clusters just like you see on TV) then laying my head back into a pillow that was contoured to my head. Someone said, the Dr. should be in here in a moment……………………………………………………..

I opened my eyes and felt an ache in the area of my hernia and heard people talking about the new iPod Nano vs. the Shuffle. It took me a couple of minutes to think about where I was and what was going on; I looked over at the clock and it was 9:50am so I figured the surgery was over and I was alive. I closed my eyes for a few more minutes then a nurse came over and asked me how I was feeling. I said I was fine and after a few minutes she called Jen and brought my clothes over to me. They had removed my gown after the surgery so I slipped back into my clothes and a couple of minutes later Jen came in with a volunteer and a wheelchair. They put me in the chair and wheeled me outside and put me into our car. I remember getting in the chair, in the car, out of the car, and walking upstairs but not much in between.

Once upstairs I tried to pee but it didn’t happen. It’s hard to explain why, but if you have had this surgery, or when you do have it, you will understand. There is NO pushing out of anything for the first 48 hours or so; you just have to let it come out on its own. I took some Darvocet and climbed into bed after eating half of a Quaker Oatmeal Square and drinking some water.

Now the misery started. I could not get comfortable and my discomfort was compounded by the fact that I had a horrible headache from the anesthesia combined with not being able to eat anything. I wasn’t able to sleep at all during the day and moving around was very painful. At around noon I had a couple of bites of soup but I just couldn’t eat anything and the last thing I wanted to do was throw up – so I just tried to get through it the best I could. Getting up without assistance would have been impossible; I was so thankful that my wife was there to take care of me. Anyone getting this surgery done should have someone there to help them for at least the first 24 hours. If you are unable to have someone there then plan ahead – figure out how you are going to get yourself out of bed and have all of your snacks and drinks by your bedside.

I was able to drink a little bit of juice in the afternoon when I took my next set of pills and Jen made me a fruit smoothie around 6pm which I was able to eat a bit of. After that I finally fell asleep for about two hours and when I woke up my headache was gone. I realized just how much of the misery was due to the headache at this point. The pain and discomfort was still intense but it was much more manageable without the pounding pain in my head. I had been listening to the weather channel all day (nice soothing voices) so I switched over to American Idol and called out for Jen. She came in and brought me the rest of my smoothie and helped me get up to go pee again. That was not any easier than it had been before but I was able to go a bit.

I spent the rest of the night watching TV in bed on my back. A couple of times when I got up to pee (drinking lots of water leads to excessive peeing) Jen helped me walk out to the kitchen and back to the bed. Jen slept out on the couch so I would send her a text message when I needed to get up to go to the bathroom and/or take more pills. At about 3am I had a English muffin w/ cinnamon and sugar along with a glass of chocolate milk – this was the first solid food I had eaten since Tuesday evening.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I woke up feeling sore and hungry – Jen made me another fruit smoothie and helped me get out of bed to pee and take a walk around the house. I was still unable to get out of bed by myself (I’m sure I could have done it but the pain would have been pretty intense) because any time I tried to use my abs, pain would shoot through my body. I spent the morning watching movies on HBO and doing a bit of reading and sleeping.

In the afternoon I got up for a few minutes to have some soup and another smoothie before going back to bed. I was able to get myself out of bed at this point by grabbing onto the edge of the mattress with my left hand and pulling myself up while pushing with my right hand. It was still pretty painful but at least I could do it. I tried to walk around whenever I was out of bed just to stretch my body and stretch the muscles around the incision (they were tight after lying down for hours at a time). The surgeon recommended trying to stand up as straight as possible when I was walking around – tough to do at first but it gets easier as the days go by.

Lying on my side was easier at this point as long as I kept a pillow between my legs; this also made watching TV a bit easier as well. That evening I ate a veggie sandwich and was up for about 15 minutes but I started getting sore and feeling a bit faint so I headed back to bed.

Friday, February 29 and Saturday, March 1, 2008

I started feeling better by Friday but not good enough to be up and about for more than a few minutes at a time. On Saturday I was up for a half hour to an hour at a time and was feeling ok. I still spent most of my time in bed because that is where I felt the most comfortable and relaxed. I was mostly consuming smoothies, juice, soup, and fruit. They recommended a high-fiber diet and that fit the bill. I wasn’t too hungry for real food anyway.

Friday afternoon I took a shower and removed the dressing over my incision. The surgical tape was to stay on and fall off on its own (per the surgeon) and the stitches will dissolve. (Six days later the tape is still holding strong). I also noticed that my prescription was starting to run low at this point so I called to get a refill – they gave me one but a reduced pill count. They were very hesitant to refill at all, which was frustrating but understandable due to the abuse of such drugs. I would recommend discussing this with your surgeon beforehand so you know what to expect and when to call to request the refill.

Saturday afternoon I went outside for the first time and went for a short walk (and I mean short, maybe 15 minutes). I might have been able to go a bit further but I made the mistake of trying to walk and drink a coffee which make me choke and cough. Oh the pain! Coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, or anything that uses ab muscles should be avoided at all cost for the first few days. Jen’s brother and his wife came over for a while Saturday evening, bringing several movies and some treats. I sat at the table and ate some pizza, but had to head back to bed after less than two hours.

I was still taking Darvocet every five or six hours and I’m sure it was taking the edge off the pain but I still had discomfort when I was up and about.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spent the day in and out of bed (mostly in bed) watching TV and snacking. In the afternoon Jen and I walked about a half mile outside around our apartment, it was a slow walk but I didn’t feel too much pain during or after.

I sat out on the couch for a bit but it still felt better to be in bed because I could be lying flat. Sitting was a bit painful but I could spend a few minutes at the computer or sitting at the kitchen table. Most of the time when I would eat I would try to stand up since this was the next best thing to lying down.

Going to the bathroom was much easier by this time as was moving around in bed, standing up and sitting down, and getting out of bed.

Monday, March 3, 2008

I spent the morning in bed reading and watching TV, by this time I had seen everything they were showing on Encore, HBO, TNT, etc., etc. etc. so I knew it was time to move out to the couch. Jen came home for lunch and we walked a little over a mile after eating our sandwiches. I got set up on the couch and spent the afternoon watching movies on DVD.

Jen went for run in the evening so I went for a walk by myself – I ended up going 1.6 miles. I hung out on the couch that evening watching hockey and TV. During the day I was taking Extra Strength Tylenol instead of Darvocet, but I still took the Darvocet at night.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Today I had my morning smoothie and cereal then went for a two mile walk. I’m going back to work tomorrow so I spent the morning at my desk at home working on some things just to see how sitting up at a desk feels. So far, so good – I’m sure being back at work is going to suck just because it’s not home, but I guess I need to get back sometime.

Well, it’s lunch time so I’m going to have something to eat then go for a little walk. This afternoon I’ll probably post up on the couch again and watch some more movies.

I have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon tomorrow (7 days post-op) but I think I’m healing up as expected. I’m looking forward to returning to my activities but I know it will be a couple more weeks. It’s most important to heal completely now so that I don’t have to go through this ever again.