Monday, April 16, 2018

Medical Monday--A Broken Leg, A Broken Head And An Update

   Okay, it's been awhile since I've posted here so there's some catching up to do!
   First of all, it wasn't my broken leg! I was hiking about a month ago in Komoka Park when I came across a young lady holding a couple of horses. You will occasionally see horses in Komoka but when I walked around her I spotted this other young lady lying on the ground. To make a long story short, she had been trying to ride her horse up an icy trail, the horse had slipped, she fell under the horse and her leg broke!
Where the horse landed on the woman. We think
her leg might have ended up between the horse
and that sharp rock you see in the middle of
the pic, causing  her leg to break.
Another couple of hikers came along and we stayed with her while one of her friends tethered the remaining horses and the other friend rode off to meet the EMS people at the park entrance. Eventually, nine firefighters and paramedics showed up and managed to get her on a stretcher and out of the park.

   Fortunately, this is the only time I've run into a situation like this but I do quite often think about something similar happening to me (likely minus the horse) while I'm out on my own, either hiking or running. In light of this, I am actively trying to decide whether a cell phone is enough of a safety net or whether some kind of beacon device might be in order.
My broken head, post-surgery.
   The broken head is mine however. You might remember awhile back when I told you I'd been diagnosed with a spot of skin cancer on my left temple. Well, two weeks ago I went in for day surgery and had it removed. I think it was likely the least painful procedure I've ever had done and I need to go back in about a week and find out whether they got all of it or whether they need to do a little more digging. Fingers crossed but I'm not too worried!
    If anyone still cares about my right knee, it's feeling better but still not 1oo%. We are having a massive ice storm in London this weekend, otherwise I'd planned on getting out and giving the knee a real test (my fears be damned) but, alas, unable to. Allison, my physiotherapist, keeps telling me there's nothing structurally wrong with it and that I should truly test it but the psychological end of it throws me. Okay, maybe when the ice is gone....
   On Monday of last week, something kind of cool happened. I had been contacted by a local blogger friend, Heather, from Explorationproject , who asked if I was interested in meeting her on the Thames Valley Trail and filming a segment dedicated to the Trail. I kind of jumped at the opportunity and so we arranged to meet at the aforesaid Komoka Provincial Park, which is part of the trail. We then spent about an hour walking and talking and filming. Heather is this amazing blogger who has hiked and explored all over North America and we ran across each other last year when we both realized we were hiking the trail at more or less the same time. She currently has become interested in vlogging and wanted to practise on me, so why not? 
   About three weeks ago I had an interesting appointment with my chiropractor, Zeinin. We kind of strayed beyond the usual adjustments and had a bit of a talk about my weight and health. I wrote about this in "Neanderings" and you can read it in my post called "Black Coffee".
   And today, I had potentially my final appointment with Allison. We agreed that my knee is much better now than when I first saw her and that I should test it out as much as possible and follow some of the guidelines she's given me. If, in the future, things seem wrong with it, I can always call for a follow-up. I thanked her profusely and am itching to get back out there!
   You are now all caught up, almost to the minute!


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Medical Monday And My Trip To The Track

   The day before yesterday was yet again a Medical Monday and I got together for another physio session with Alison. 
   With each progressive visit, Alison has gotten me to the point where my "bad" knee is now my left one, as the right one (the one she's been working on) actually has been feeling pretty good and normal.
   Now, "normal", in my case, is an interesting term. My goal in acquiring a physiotherapist was so that my knee would end up feeling like it did before my injury last spring. Before the injury, I had the knees of a 64-year-old man who'd played sports his whole life and for about 40 of those years had been a goalie of one sort or another. Those are not necessarily good knees to have. At the same time, I was happy with them and what they could do. They still gave me grief fairly often but it was grief I could deal with.
   Alison, I think, would like me to have good knees and despite all the physiotherapy in the world I don't think I'm destined to have real good knees. All I want is for them to be an acceptable level of crappy! So this is what I'm aiming for.
   Alison and I do have one common goal, however, and that is to get me back on a track and running sprints. Where we're at now is me heading to a track and seeing just how fast I can run on my newly improved right knee.
The track at STA. I was the streak in lane 2!

   To this end, twice in the last two weeks I have headed to the nearby track at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School here in London to test things out. 
   The first time was a little problematic---as I got up to "speed" suddenly there was a sharp pain travelling down the outside of my right calf, not dissimilar to a shin splint. At this point, I shut her down. The second time, just this weekend, I managed to get travelling at about 85 per cent speed without having that same pain. This enabled me to sprint three or four more times but never full-out. I think there's a bit of a psychological block to really laying it all out on the line---more than likely the fear of blowing the knee right out. As unlikely as this is given the stress tests performed on it regularly in physio, I think I'm still giving in to the fear. 
   So, at this point, we've made a fair amount of progress and have cut back on the frequency of physio visits. My next visit is almost three weeks away and my task between now and then is to continue to do all the exercises I've been given and spend as much time as I can trying to run as fast as I can! 
The big bloc of missing numbers in the
middle is when I stopped doing leg and knee work
   At the same time that I've been attending physio in a faithful and regular manner, I've also done a pretty good job (for me) of hitting the gym on a pretty consistent basis. I started going back to Goodlife Fit4Less again just before Christmas and really didn't want to be one of those "resolution" gym-goers. I'm at the point now where I actually look forward to it. I carry around a little clipboard and chart with me (and manage to look pretty geeky) as I go from machine to machine, partly to track my progress and partly just to remember what weight I left off at on any given machine. So far, I've just about finished my first chart and it's pretty cool to look back and see the numbers slowly rising! One of the telling signs for my knee was the fact that I missed a whole bunch of sessions of knee work due to the pain but am now able to resume them more or less where I left off! Yeehaw!
   Finally, so you are totally up-to-date on this Medical Monday post, my little carcinoma surgery is now set for April 3. I'm quite happy for this to be happening as soon as it is, we're headed for New York City in June and my biggest fear was that surgery would rear its (my?) ugly head right in the middle of that. So, no fears! There, all caught up!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Medical Monday And Something I Wasn't Quite Expecting

   In my last Medical Monday post I briefly made mention of a blood donation I'd tried to make which never came off because I had had a punch biopsy the previous week and hadn't received the results yet. Even more briefly, if you recall, I made the fly-away comment that I hoped the results of the biopsy didn't lead to a bunch more Medical Monday posts. Well, I might have jinxed myself.
   This past Tuesday, my dermatologist's office contacted me with the results. There is a spot on my left temple which has been diagnosed as a squamous cell carcinoma---skin cancer.
   I wasn't quite expecting this. My dermatologist has been treating me for the last few years for any spots on my head and face which appear to be pre-cancerous. On a pretty yearly basis, I undergo applications of Efudex, a chemotherapy cream, which identifies these spots and essentially burns them away. It's kinda like giving yourself a good sunburn! This has all become so routine that I'd really stopped giving it a lot of thought---the pre-cancerous spots were becoming fewer and farther between and less of a concern.
   There has been this new spot, however, which I initially thought was the remnants of a pimple so I just scraped it off, it bled a little and then scabbed over. The scab never fell off on its own, however, and so I would scrape it off again. Another scab formed and this became an ongoing routine.
   The week before last, I attended my usual scheduled dermatologist appointment and we agreed that all the usual spots looked good. I then told her about this one particular spot which never seemed to heal. She examined it and then decided to do the biopsy. Which then led to this week's diagnosis.
   There are three basic types of skin cancer (not that I'm an expert but I do know how to google) and they are basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. Basal cell cancer is the least worrisome or problematic. Melanoma is the worst. Squamous cell lies in the middle and just the fact that it's in the middle and not at the bottom tends to give you pause.
   The little bit of research I've done also indicates that, caught early enough, squamous cell cancer is extremely curable. Good news! All I need to find out now is what "early enough" means! The little spot on my temple is a pretty recent development, however, so I have as good a feeling as I can at this point.
   The treatment is pretty simple---cut out as much of it as you can until you can't find anymore cancerous cells. Easy peasy. I am hoping this does not leave a large hole (definitely nothing you can see through to the other side), heals quickly and then I just get on with things (only perhaps a little more vigilantly!)
   The surgeon who will be doing this has a pretty impressive resumé and can also do reconstructive work along with curing snoring. I will simply ask him to make me handsome at the same time as he's curing both my cancer and my snoring. It'll be a win-win-win for my wife!!
   All of this, of course, is a cautionary tale about the dangers of too much sun. As an adult, I think I've paid pretty good attention to keeping the sun off my susceptible parts. Broad-rimmed hats, tons of sunscreen, regular check-ups, etc. The killer (oops!) in this case may be all the sun damage I got as a kid. Lots of burns and several blistering ones. I used to love pealing the dead skin off my ears and arms, not even remotely thinking about what this might mean as a grown man.
   So there you have it---a different kind of Medical Monday. My knee is just about back to where it once was and one of these days I will be running through the forests again and you'll see scenery instead of medical reports. Yes! 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Medical Monday And I Win A Prize!

   Today was yet another Medical Monday in my life.
   It started more or less first thing with a visit to my physiotherapist, Alison, at CBI. She foam-rolled me, stretched my right quad til I thought it would pop off, and then spent some time massaging the part of my knee that connects with my IT (iliotibial) band. There seemed to be a little swelling there and she thought it might have been from the foam-rolling she's been doing on the IT band the past few weeks. After all this, a new exercise to do, an ultrasound treatment and then a session with the TENS machine.
   At the end of all this, the knee felt great! As a matter of fact, the knee feels better now than it has in months, pretty well since I originally injured it last April (seems so long ago now). She suggested that I try running on it for a short bit and so that became my plan for later on.
   Part of Medical Monday this week included a trip to the blood donor clinic later on in  the afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny day and I thought if I was headed to that end of town then I would stop in at the MEC store, drop off some used batteries from work, and see if there was anything I could spend a $15 gift card on. 
My newest pair of Injinjis!
   Now, I happened to have that $15 gift card as the result of being one of the winners of a draw which was sponsored by the Thames Valley Trail Association. The TVTA said it was going to take the names of all the people who completed the End-To-End trail hike in 2017 and put them in a draw for both an End-To-End badge and an MEC gift card. I had sort of forgotten about the draw but then, a couple of weeks ago, what shows up in my mail but a badge and a gift card! Awesome! I walked around the store a bit and then found a pair of Injinji socks that cost about $18. Perfect!
   From the MEC store, it was on to the blood donor clinic. Ran into a bit of a snag there. About a week ago I had a punch biopsy done on a lesion on the side of my face (hopefully this will not lead into a whole bunch of other Medical Monday posts) and I still had not received the results of this. Because I had not received the results, they would not let me make a donation. Bummer. They did, however, still let me partake of cookies and a Coke. Yay. 
   From there, back on home, where I made spaghetti sauce for dinner. It occurred to me that seeing as how I had not donated blood, this meant I could go and work out before dinner. I took Alison's advice and did a little bit of treadmill running, with no pain. I even did the leg machines, which I had put on hold weeks ago, with no pain! 
   Kinda hard to describe how good this felt! I have always enjoyed the way my body heals itself but after awhile, when you're MY age, you start to wonder if maybe some of your body parts have outlasted the warranty. I was worried about this with my knee but after today I am much encouraged!
   P.S. Injinji should hire me as an ambassador. Both Alison and the MEC cashier asked me about them today. I wear them to physio and gave them a glowing recommendation to Alison and then basically repeated myself at the MEC store. They are awesomesocks!!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Debris Field

   Yesterday, I went out and hiked the trails in Kains Woods, here in London.
Collection pond before the trail

   For the past two or three weeks, my right knee has been taped up as part of the plan offered up by Alison, my physiotherapist at CBI. The taping subtly slides my kneecap into a more natural tracking position and allows me to move about with increased comfort and confidence. This week, however, we have decided that it was worth going without the tape in the hopes that the knee may now be tracking a little better on its own. I have permission to head out and run trails with the proviso that I do shorter loops so that, should the knee break down, I am not then all that far from home.
   I would have tried that but we were hit with a bit of a
The wildlife have been taking
advantage of the wildlife tree!
blizzard two days ago and the trails in these parts are now once again covered in snow and ice. I didn't want to risk running on that but was happy to get out there for a hike instead, thinking that the uneven terrain would still give my knee a bit of a test. Kains Woods is near me so that's where I headed

   The temp was hovering just slightly above 0C, so I basically dressed for a winter hike and, with the wind blowing strongly, was happy I did. The trail itself was a mixture of pretty well everything---snow, ice, mud, and sand. 
   A long stretch of the trail runs along the edge of the Thames River. About a week and a half ago, the Thames flooded, due to a perfect storm of days of rainfall, temps in the teens, and a very deep winter snow base. As a matter of fact, the flooding was the worst since the early eighties. Because of this, I was rather curious to experience the terrain near the edge of the river.                                                                                                                                                                                                      
Fave part of the trail.
The part of the trail along the floodplain was dramatically altered. The river's raging current and high level had flattened much of the lower underbrush and debris was scattered everywhere. Garbage hung from the limbs of trees which overhang the river. Logs and tree limbs from somewhere upstream had been tossed onto the trail and had then become wedged between tree trunks. The trail itself, which is normally hard-packed, was covered in sand and silt which had been swept onto it. In many places, the current had exposed root systems. There are stretches of lower land on the other side of the trail from the river and  many of these were still flooded. One forty meter section of the trail itself was still underwater.
An example of a large log which had
been floated onto the trail and
then wedged between two trees.

   All in all, it was a different sort of a hike than it normally is. I also imagine that the effects of the recent flooding will be noticeable for quite some time. In the giant scheme of things, this is to be expected of a river valley. Rivers constantly work on the land they flow through, creating much change over time. Often this is from natural erosion. This time, it was the coming together of a bunch of different elements.
   I finally exited the trail just before it ended and had about a two and a half kilometer hike back to my car. Later on the evening, the knee acted up once or twice but nothing too serious. Likely Alison and I will talk about this and decide whether or not to tape it up again. In the meantime, I have sort of been trying to keep up with the new exercises she gave me, which now include resistance-band training and side planks. Fun, fun, fun.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Medical Monday: Part Three---Well, Medical THURSDAY Actually

    Thursday of last week, I had my second session with my new physiotherapist, Alison, from CBI (I'm still not sure what the initials stand for but I swear I'll find out), here in London. We will be attempting to meet on Mondays and Thursdays for about a month but with this past Monday having been a Family Day holiday here in Ontario, we are going with one visit this week.
These were ALL I had to do! But DID I?
    Last week, Alison discovered how bad of a patient I have been! After our first visit, a little over a week ago, she had given me exercises to do at home, twice a day. These were pretty simple and quick exercises to do and I had done them....once! Alison did a pretty good job of being non-judgmental and keeping her outrage in check and went on to describe to me easier times of day to get them done. I had been attending the gym, however, and some of the work I had done there fairly closely mimicked the exercises Alison had given me so, in my mind, I was at least a little off the hook.
    We then got into some bending and stretching of the knee and quads after which some foam rolling on the IT band, a little more of the TENS machine and then some ultrasound. After all that, Alison tapes my knee again. The tape job she did 10 days ago held up for the whole time and I actually had to pry it off my knee Wednesday night. Much leg hair came off with it and, in anticipation of another tape job the following day, I shaved my knee. Cuz I'm smart that way. So, with my knee freshly taped, I headed off again.
   After  a brief stop at home, it was off to see my chiropractor, Zeinin. She immediately asked me what was new (almost like she knew something was new) and I told her I was now doing physio for my knee. She asked if I'd been sent home from physio with exercises to do and as soon as I said "yes", she knew I hadn't been doing them! She's that good! She then did all her usual manipulations on me (even worked on my sinuses) and then I was done with my Medical Thursday.
   The knee has been feeling much better. I have no doubt that I could go running through the forest without any difficulties. This, however, was not the reason for diving into the world of medical intervention, though. Primarily, I want to feel as though I could run full-out and not have my knee explode. Tomorrow, I see Alison again and I might just ask her when...

Monday, February 12, 2018

Medical Monday: Part Two--My Therapist Takes A Knee

   Today was another Medical Monday and, quite frankly, way too long in coming. I'd finally decided to see a physiotherapist for my bum right knee and today was the day we met for the first time.
   I decided to go to the local office of the CBI Health Group for my physio. There are all sorts of good places for physio in London but CBI is literally a three-minute drive from my place and the easier a place is to get to, the more likely it is I will get to it.
   I filled out the usual info forms and then Alison, my physiotherapist, showed up, introduced herself, and took me down to the physio room. 
   After hearing my sad story, watching me both walk and run, and bending the knee every which way possible, she came up with a theory.
   She noticed from my gait that I had a bit of a hip drop. This has caused the IT band to stretch into a position it is not accustomed to and has caused misalignment on that right knee. The tendons, ligaments, and meniscus appear fine so she is reasoning that the knee is not tracking properly and bone is wearing on cartilage.
   Part of today's treatment involved the use of a TENS machine and taping of the knee before I left.
   The TENS machine (and I'm guessing that most of you have had some sort of experience with one) works by attaching electrodes around the area of your body which is in pain and then running electrical current through that area. Basically, it creates a very strong, tingly sensation. 
   The TENS technician applied the electrodes to my knee and then turned the machine on, asking me to let her know when I could feel it. It took awhile but I could finally feel the tingling and told her that she could turn it even higher. Well, she did this and before I could say anything, the whole inside of my right thigh started to spasm! She turned it down quite quickly and got it back to a comfortable level. She then left the room.Now, what I wasn't expecting was that the machine, all on its own, would suddenly make my knee jerk and spasm. I was about to call someone when it stopped. It was fine for awhile and then started up again, causing more spasms. I finally figured out that the machine was simply cycling and giving my knee a wide range of different intensity levels. 
Home with a tape job! Not sure what's
taped to what, but the knee feels good!
   After the TENS, Alison returned and taped the knee. She figured the tape would last a couple of days and I am curious as to whether it will help or not. One thing I can say, though, is that tonight the knee feels great! I was sent home with exercises to do and was also told what and what not to do at the gym.
   So far, so good. It is such a good feeling to finally be doing something constructive with the stupid knee. Hopefully, running soon. Then....sprinting!