MY FIRST BIKE RIDE!!!! A little difficult at first-I warmed up on my CPM to prepare. I put the heel of my foot on the pedal but still wound up scooting my right ‘cheek’ up everytime I reached the top of the pedal revolution for the first mile or so. I rode a little more than two miles because I was worried about how my body would react if I did too much. I iced after and had no ill effects as I went through the rest of my walking and workouts. Just to make things clear, NONE of these activities are easy or painless, and a lot of times I REALLY don’t want to do them. Probably the only reason I stay as disciplined as I do is because I’d just finished the PT for my repaired ankle before the knee surgery and the results from being consistent are fresh and clear in my mind.
Lousy sleep. A long, cold walk. CPM still ‘maxed-out’. Some new workout additions. At PT (under painkillers) my measured flexion went from 93 degrees last time to 105 degrees today. New to my workout are hip flexor stretches for my quads and hamstring stretches using a step bench. I’m also doing quad sets and lower leg raises on my stomach, which are in addition to the other versions and are alos very irritating on the skin of my incision area. My PT suggested that I begin putting vitamin E on the incision area by piercing a vitamin capsule and rubbing it on. I’ll let you know if it has any immediate affect on it. My PT put me on a stationary bike for the first time and asked me to rock back and forth, but I was able to pedal all the way around without much difficulty. I’m really excited about this because now I feel comfortable attempting to ride my own bike!
A much better night after taking the vicodin and laughing at some funny sitcoms on t.v.! I began the day on ibuprofen and did my workout. Pretty painful. I switched to 2 light Vicodin later in the day. I need to keep taking some kind of anti-inflammatory as long as this thing’s swollen. I walked more than 4 blocks. I was able to do a lot of computer work and bills today between ice and workouts. In the evening my knee was actually making audible snaps and pops. I realize its my muscles and tendons, not the ‘appliance’ as its called, but its till uncomfortable and unnerving! My CPM is now at its limit of –3 degrees extension and 130 degrees flexion. As swelling goes down I’m getting more feelings in different parts of my knee area, but they’re not all good!
I’ve gone 24 hours without using any kind of painkiller. I had a very bad night and I’m very sleepy and lazy this morning as I head out to my first day of outpatient physical therapy. I did go for a walk of 4 blocks but felt a lot of pain. I know its not a good idea to go to PT without any painkillers, but I really wanted to be aware of any trouble spots on this first look by my PT. My PT’s first comment was, "you look pale, are you o.k.?" She chided me for going ‘cold turkey’ on the drugs and felt that I was experiencing some withdrawal symptoms. She told me that both the pain and painkillers were there for a purpose and that both were necessary during my recovery. No argument from me anymore! She reminded me that because of my particular situation I’d experience pain in many areas of my body during the upcoming year. My PT did a series of measurements in flex and extension. The numbers were poor because I felt lousy and hadn’t had any pain relief. She performed some painful stretching and massage maneuvers, iced my leg all over and told me to go home, try to eat, and take some pain relief. I did. Later I did my standard workout.
Good sleep! I slept on my left side with a pillow between my legs for most of the night. It's my last day of home PT. I try to get up and walk at least every hour now, just to stay flexible. I got in a walk despite ‘cyclonic’ wind gusts! My official flex measurement is 99 degrees. My PT made all of my final measurements for my outpatient PT provider. Afterwards, I went for another walk. My CPM is up to 123 degrees. My quad (upper thigh) and hip still get quite sore as I walk, but seems to improve after a few blocks. I sat in my ‘gravity chair’ in the sun with my leg up and it felt great! I take the cane with on my walks but I don’t actually use it. My walk this afternoon was six blocks. I spent several hours today doing computer work and research on new cars.
Lousy sleep! I still have some very weird knee-related dreams and I’m not taking any narcotic drugs before bedtime! My Dr. was very happy with my progress and called me a ‘show-off’ as he read the PT’s report. He patiently answered all of my questions and repeated his apology for all of the problems I’d experienced while in the hospital. Pulling the staples was slightly painful, but very gratifying! They didn’t even bleed! No bandaids or steri-strips over the incision, either. Just let it ‘air out’ from this point on. A very good report on a very pretty fall day! I did a couple of nice walks in the 70 degree sun and did my workouts. Its so nice to have those staples out and be able to run my hands over my knee!!! My leg got a little stiff later in the day and evening. My knee still snaps and clicks (not audibly, but I feel it) when I walk. I hope that will go away as my swelling subsides.
A very rough sleep last night, in spite of my wife giving my leg a wonderful massage in the evening. I actually awoke in a cold sweat @ 3:20 am. I got up at 6 am and took a nice long, hot shower in the bathtub/shower. Working out was difficult. I walked 4 blocks w/o crutches but got very tired. We went out in the afternoon to look at an open house for sale. I walked through and around it without crutches and even did the stairs with only the help of the handrail. I went through the evening without drugs. My CPM was up to 120 degrees. It was kinda nice to have such a normal day! In the evening my entire leg was ‘jumpy’. I did a little extra workout and my wife gave my calf a massage. Tomorrow I should get these staples removed!
It was drizzling rain for the first time since my surgery, but I still went outside for a walk of four blocks this morning and also did some ‘marching steps’ and heel and toe lifts outside. I took 1 Vicodin before my walk and morning workout, but that was it for the day! Swelling has gone down significantly and I took my second walk completely without crutches! My CPM is up to 115 degrees.
My PT wrote his report for my Dr. Today, who I’ll be seeing on Monday. My CPM is up to 112 degrees this morning, and I had another decent night for sleep. I got up and went to the bathroom without any painkiller in my system and without doing any stretching or exercises and it wasn’t bad! My PT isn’t a very encouraging guy, and I don’t really know what his report to the Doc will look like. He did a flex and extension measurement and had me try to force my leg up and down as he opposed it. He was never able to budge my leg in either direction so I have to assume I did quite well on that count! I did my normal workouts and walks, and went out to dinner with my wife and sat for a haircut in the evening.
Another better nights’ sleep! Again, several hours at a time. I gave myself my final injection of blood thinner today. YAY!!!! I took ibuprofen so I could drive and do errands including a quick trip to the grocery store and the drug store to pick up prescription refills. The CPM is up to 106 degrees. I took a couple of walks, experimented with completing a pedal rotation on my bicycle (couldn’t quite), but I could get on and operate the foot pedals on my lawn tractor, so I cut the grass and mulched the leaves. It felt great to do some ‘normal work’ again! I did a walk again after mowing, barely using the crutches at all. I also got back on the CPM and was able to push it to 110 degrees! We actually went out to a good sit-down restaurant for dinner and I took a shower back in my own ‘stand-up’ shower! It all felt great! A VERY GOOD DAY!
Finally, some quality sleep! I don’t know why! I got solid 2-hour sessions of sleep, falling back to sleep quickly each time. Wow, it feels great! My PT went outside with me this morning at my request to video my stride so I had something to compare my earlier video with. A big improvement! The biggest problem is that I’m still not pushing off the foot of my repaired leg. After a CPM session (105 degrees), I sat outside on my porch swing and rocked on my ankle and knee. I had a pain like a toothache in my leg and hip, the knee just has pressure. My ‘quad set’ workout is very painful. It’s a sharp, biting pain when I force extension. I went out for another walk using my PT’s new crutch style. I use the left crutch as I extend my right leg now. It’s not supportive anymore, instead it promotes a more normal speed stride, but its also tiring! I’m using an additional insole in my LEFT shoe to compensate for the feeling that my repaired right leg is longer. A good friend of mine suffered a ‘minor’ stroke today and it put my problems in better perspective!
My home therapist gave me some new exercises and stretching routines today. He explained that the loss of flexion had multiple causes: swelling, adhesions, shortened and stitched muscles, pain release and fascia injury. I’m getting up to 93 degrees on the CPM machine. I stopped taking pain meds for a few hours and was able to get in and drive my truck! I had to put the seat all of the way back and reclined in order to push back and get my leg through, but using the gas and brake wasn’t that big a problem! I went for a walk of several blocks this afternoon, using the crutches, but just to keep good form. When I iced afterward, I noticed that the area above my knee was actually cool to touch for the first time (usually the ice just absorbs some of the heat, the muscle didn’t actually ‘cool’), but the area around my patella is still warm, even after icing!
Still crummy sleep. I went to bed with a fever of 100 degrees. I decided to take two of my ‘light’ Vicodin at 6am since I’d been wide awake for several hours. I always drink some water and eat a graham cracker before I take any pills. I took a 5 block walk after the painkillers kicked-in using my crutches very lightly, if at all. I’m up to 103 degrees on my CPM but feel a painless ‘snap’ at 100 degrees. I asked my PT if I should be concerned and he told me it was typical-only worry if it hurts. Did my workouts and another walk later in the day without problem.
What Kind of Fan are You? Part 2
There will be probably be two million or more people taking the day off from work, getting up early and making the pilgrimage to hockey Mecca-
Chicago- for the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup parade. This gathering will be quite different from the celebration in 2010. That year neither the players nor the fans had quite recovered from the impromptu partying (o.k. the nonstop drunkfest) in celebration of breaking a fifty-year championship drought before the parade began. This year there’s a little time gap, the players and management have learned from the past, everyone’s a little older and the city planners are a lot wiser. This blog isn’t about the celebration, it’s about the celebrants.
Most of us know the term "bandwagon fan". The term refers to people who claim to be fans of a team only after the team begins to win and gets popular. Over the course of the fifty years I’ve been associated with the Hawks I’ve known a lot of fans. Many have followed the success and failures (mostly failures) of the team as long as I have. Many had never gone to a game in person. For some it was just a matter of time and distance, for others it was the dangerous neighborhood of Chicago Stadium.
I used to take busloads of high school kids from the farm towns south of Kankakee to the games back in the 1980’s. Our "parade" was a little different from the current affair. We’d parade past the boarded-up firetraps on Madison, past the bums gathered around the burning oil drums, the prostitutes and our favorite landmark "The New Ogden Liquo Mart". Yes, the sign was broken and incomplete and because it stayed that way year after year we began to create pronunciations for the error. Sometimes we’d give it a Native American flare and pronounce it "lick-oo-way". We’d usually give it a French Canadian accent and call it the "lickwaaa" mart in honor of the many Canadians who ventured into this treacherous territory for our entertainment.
Once parked in the gravel and snow covered parking lots blocks from the Stadium we’d climb the hundreds of stairs to the upper balcony. There were no escalators, no food stations, no restaurants, no pre-game guitar bands –just beer and coke. The Stadium was not climate controlled, except for the balcony windows, a few of which could still be opened. The organist played a kind of "name why I’m playing this tune" game on the mighty Barton organ and fans too drunk to feel the pain would pound out a tom-tom beat with their fists on the boarded-up windows. The only jerseys worn in the place were where they belonged…on the backs of the players. There was no "we" in the stands. The players were referred to as "the boys" or "the guys" or "those bums!" "We" didn’t win games or lose them. "We" weren’t the players or the organization. They played and we cheered, or booed. It was about the hockey being played below us.
There were always easily affordable tickets available to any fans willing to get to the box office an hour before the doors opened. There was no "ticket exchange" back then. If you’d invest a little time in the effort you could watch any game-no matter when or how important, for the face value cost of a ticket.
During the last few seasons and Cup run the United Center has been packed with young women and kids. Single game tickets have been purchased for thousands of dollars. I watched the first migration of fans away when the Hawks moved into the United Center. Many of the fans I’d become accustomed to seeing dropped away because of the increased ticket costs and the "shopping mall" environment of the U.C. They’d enjoyed being "hard core" fans and living the austere life of the Stadium monastery where a Lemonhead was a rare treat. The second migration occurred in the late 1990’s when the team floundered. Through the work stoppage years the team’s direction was lost. There was little continuity, no players to build loyalties to, and no atmosphere or energy. It wasn’t entertaining on any level except as a farce.
The third migration was one that saw fans pouring back into the United Center. These days the credit is given to the new Public Relations machine that defected from the Cubs to the West Side, but that perception is one that they’ve crafted for themselves. I know its sacrilege to say that, but I’m too old to care anymore! I’ve never seen a group of PR folks so intent on putting themselves into the forefront of the team picture as though they were responsible for the team’s wins. No, this immigration began with a guy named Jordan and a team called the Bulls. Their success changed the way the city dealt with the infamous West Side. The hookers and the flophouses were moved away for the sake of the national television cameras. The "New Ogden Liqou Mart" was torn down. The area became family friendly. The United Center became the place to be and be seen.
Transferring the Bulls success to the Blackhawks was another story. The death of owner Bill Wirtz marked an end of an era and a transition to a team that could be driven by modern media techniques…like being seen on television??!!?? Hard to believe, but true. Dale Tallon became the General Manager of the Hawks, and through his hockey acumen and personality he began to build the core of what would be a really great team for years to come. Toews, Kane, Seabrooke and Keith-the "kids" I met when they were still teenagers! Lost in the story is Trent Yawney. Trent played for the Hawks back in the dark ages and after retiring from playing worked his way into coaching in the minors and then into the NHL with the Blackhawks. He was the coach of many of the current stars back when they were in the minor league. He was the reason many of them are the players that we see today and he’s a big part of the reason they’re in Chicago riding on a bus to a Stanley Cup celebration today.
So, once being a fan was about the game of hockey, it’s players, it’s history and it’s lore. These days it has more to do with being a part of a winning group, and projecting one’s self into that success. Once upon a time the fans of the Hawks were literally blue-collar fans. Now those fans would have to take out a home equity loan for a single ticket much less a season ticket! The Hawks didn’t win a Cup this season, we won a Cup! It’s just a different era as time and society marches on and you have to be willing to accept that. I’d be willing to bet the guys leading the parade today won’t be the players who devoted their lives to the game, it’ll be the PR staff followed closely by the Mayor or the Governor….because those guys left it all out there for this win!
It’s party time!!!!
I'm not sure why there are no entries in my journal between days 11 and 15 but I suspect it was during the period of time when I was experiencing the withdrawal problems from quitting the narcotic painkillers "cold turkey". As I mentioned in the preface, I strongly suggest that you have a discussion with your doctor prior to surgery to discuss the reasons for taking the medications (some are needed for their cumulative effect and should be taken even if you have no paiin at the moment) and for a planned program to get off them with the fewest side effects.
A nice day. Despite not having a lot of pain last night, I still didn’t sleep much, but my wife massaged my lower leg and I caught a wonderful nap afterwards! We went out to a restaurant for breakfast, took a couple of walks (including a long walk of about 5 blocks). My wife used my mini-camcorder to video my walking motion and I watched it on my laptop so I’d know what to work on. It was very helpful. I saw both my limp and where in my step it was breaking down. I had no idea until I saw that video. I’m up to 93 degrees of flex on the CPM, and even though I haven’t used any pain relief I’m experiencing very little pain today.
About 4 hours of sleep last night. The pain around my knee isn’t too bad today, but after a distance walk outside, my upper quad and hip ache at about a level of 4 on a scale of 10. It’s a fairly consistent pain, probably caused by my poor body trying to recover from 30 years of terrible walking motion. I’ve also noted some aching pain in my ankle. My ankle therapist warned me that it would take at least a year of work to realign my body to a proper walking motion after all the years of contortion to protect my blown-out knee. I’m afraid she’s right!
Day 10 An important revelation-better late than never!
After talking to my PA, she told me that the hospital should’ve advised me to use a leg immobilizer when sleeping for the first two weeks. She said, "I can’t imagine the agony you must have been in those first nights at home!" Last night I put my leg in the brace the hospital had it in and I slept much better. PT, my second work-out, two walks and the CPM were all pretty painful. My favorite time of the day is bath time!!!! The knee and its care are still taking up 99% of my waking day.
Blackhawks Fan? Or a Fan of the Blackhawks? Part one.
I became a fan of the Blackhawks when I was four years old. "Fan" is a strange word because it’s usually defined as a shortened form of fanatic, which in reality isn’t a very flattering term. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines it like this:
marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion
Examples of FANATIC
- because of her fanatical views, her friends know better than to discuss religion with her
The definition fit with me when I was four. I was excessively enthusiastic and devoted. I was uncritical. The question for me back then involved the subject of today’s blog –was I a Blackhawks fan or a fan of the Blackhawks? Easy answer. I was a fan of Bobby Hull. He was the guy who I met in person. He was the guy with the golden hair and the bigger than life smile. Bobby was the one who tossed me in the air like a rag doll and declared that I was "going to be a winger!" I became a Blackhawks fan only after becoming a fan of one Blackhawk. Winning the Stanley Cup that year was big, but nothing like the media circus it is these days. Let’s face it, I barely understood the meaning of the team’s accomplishment when I was four years old.
As the years went by and I grew older and wiser things began to change for me. The Hawks weren’t winning any more Cups, but the team was still pretty popular as I entered grade school. Some of the players from the Cup team were traded and I became emotionally invested in who was coming and going. I was transforming into a Blackhawks fan. Bobby Hull was still my idol and seemed to be immune from any trade talk, but it wasn’t all about Bobby anymore. I suppose most kids identify with a sports team, but I was exclusively a Hawks fan. I was a fan of anything and anyone who fell under the crest of the Indian Head. I’d do my best impression of Lloyd Petit and Harvey Whittenberg. I’d pay attention to the musical choices being played on the mighty Barton organ. I’d try to predict the color of Billy Reay’s fedora. The Chicago Stadium was my cathedral. Long before I’d become professionally involved with the Blackhawks, everyone knew me as that "Blackhawks guy"!
Jump ahead some fifty-odd years. Hockey had become a business for me, and I finally and reluctantly had to admit that it always had been for everyone else in the organization. Owners, players and the league all made nearly all of their decisions based on the dollar. Even my blind devotion to Bobby Hull crumbled like the Chicago Stadium after I learned of his marital abuse and his defection to the WHA for a million dollars. I still evoke some of my childhood emotion when the Hawks score, but I even had to learn to bury that if I wanted to sit in the press box during games.
The Blackhawks plummeted in popularity through the start of the new millennium. Pat Foley actually became sarcastic. I literally couldn’t give away tickets to games. It was difficult to be a Blackhawks fan, but it was never difficult to be a fan of the Blackhawks. When I was a little kid my devotion to Bobby Hull was very superficial. I didn’t really know him as a man, not like I knew my dad or my uncles. He was famous, he was a winner, I had a connection to him and that was it.
In the first decade of this century I’d get to know a lot more of the players as individuals. I’d have the opportunity to talk with them about subjects other than hockey. I’d get to know their parents and their backgrounds. It was an interesting time that fell just before big media took over with all of its accompanying restrictions on privacy, time and security. If you ever went to Blackhawks practice back in the days when it was at the Edge in Bensenville, you probably know what I mean. I’d have career changing discussions with players, console (without success) Toews after a knee injury, lecture Ruutu, Buff or Wiz about women, finances and being a role model. I’d watch tears of pride well up in Dale Tallon’s eyes when I did a portrait of his dad after his passing. I’ve become a fan of individual Blackhawks, not so much about how they play (although that still counts, Patrick Kane) but who they are. I follow their careers after they leave the Blackhawks, and I still cheer for them, even when they visit the United Center. I still enjoy the successes of Tallon, Murray, Keenan, Doug Wilson, Panger and even JR.
I like Jonathan Toews. He’s probably the best all-around player of his size that I’ve ever seen. He’s honestly all of the things the press says about him as a player and a person. I like his parents. His dad is the most down to earth and self-assured "sports-parent" I’ve ever been around. His mom’s politics drive me crazy but her attitude is refreshing and upbeat. She’s like a little bit of crazy sunshine. I don’t know anything more about Tazer’s injury than the team has released, but it looks to be an aggravation to his concussion problem based on the incidents that led to his benching in the third period of Game five. We won't know what his injury really is until after the series is over. I'm betting we'll hear about a lot of undisclosed injuries in the next few days. I guess if I were a Blackhawks fan I’d be hoping for Toews' return to the ice in game six no matter what. Because I’ve become a fan of the Blackhawks I hope he’s all right. If there’s any debate between a healthy Jonathan Toews or another Stanley Cup, I’ll be happy with a great playoff run and a healthy Toews. Lets hope we get both tonight!
Another night with awful dreams and little sleep! There’s no comfy position for sleep and I keep waking up in pain, either from stretching, bending or twisting my leg in my sleep. I’m giving up on both the Ambien and Tramadol. I took lots of cat naps today in between the CPM, ice, workout and walking sessions. I managed to walk a few blocks outside with just one crutch on two occasions today. I also went for a little ride with my wife driving and saw a really pretty sunset. Finding a pleasant moment is important since much of the day I’m inflicting pain on myself! Therapy hurts, walking hurts, injecting myself hurts!
Terrible dreams (knee related) and terrible sleep! I’m trying to get off the narcotic painkillers by either letting them wear off or by switching to ibuprofen. I hate to admit it, but I still need the ‘real pills’ and probably will for quite a while, at least at some times. I saw the Doc about my injured thigh. He thinks I may have broken a few of the stitches and suggested I ease back a little. That’s the problem between myself and my home therapist, he doesn’t understand that I push myself harder than he does and that I need some specific parameters for my own good. The Doc prescribed two new drugs, Ambien for sleep, and Tramadol for pain. He was very happy with the level of swelling and the healing of the incision. A trip to my doctor takes several hours because of the distance, so I was really ready to stretch out and ice when I got home! I really do appreciate the CPM machine and actually seeing the improvement in the flex and extension. My only problem with it is that it seems to be too short for my long leg and it moves around the bed too much.
Lousy sleep. It’s a big problem, both physically and mentally. My leg is really sore where I hurt it trying to get a better measurement for my home PT. I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll let my body and comfort level (as well as my own common sense and knowledge) dictate how far I take things from now on. Everything has been set back. I’m not walking as well because it hurts so much to pull my leg through the motion. I did work out twice today, but I had to ease way off the quad sets. I went for a fairly long walk outside with crutches. I’m not happy that my upper quad, hip and upper glute ache so much!
Ulcers and headaches and nerves, oh my!
I’m not sure how Joel Quennville, the coach with the bleeding ulcer, is dealing with this rollercoaster of a post season, but its taking its toll on me!
I’m a professional, and I like to think I’m objective when it comes to hockey. I enjoy comparing teams, talent, players and coaches. I’m entertained by good hockey at any level. I like to make predictions and I like to be correct. I’ve had a pretty good track record up to this point, but these two teams are even driving this pragmatic old hockey maven out of his mind!
I’ve been on the edge of my seat. On any given night the trends from the previous games have reversed themselves. During any given period the inertia of momentum has been erased by a bouncing-puck score or a bouncing puck miss of a "gimme". This is a series in which I’m just not certain who the better team is or if the better team will win.
This is the first series that has actually affected my health! I’m not kidding. The late nights, elevated blood pressure and eyestrain have taken control. I get headaches from staring at the game without blinking because I’m afraid I’ll miss a game changing play in that split-second. I’ve been yelling at my wife and she’s been giving it right back. We scream, we sigh and we cuss at guys who can’t possibly hear us.
Through it all Coach "Q" just stands behind the bench and stalks stoically…while keeping his gastrointerologist on speed dial!