Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Are You Crazy?"

Saturday was the second event in the Mountain Crutching Series. I'm currently in a transitional phase of regaining weight bearing use of my left leg, so this might be my last weekend of dependence on crutches. I hadn't been up Mt Kearsarge yet this year, and Cathy has never been to the summit. It was a nice morning, so the challenge was on.

The Mt Kearsarge toll road gains over 1500ft in 3.5mi from the toll house to parking lot. A hiking trail gains another 300ft in 0.5mi to the granite dome summit. My intent was to crutch the toll road without stopping at a steady, aerobic pace, then carefully pick my way through the mine field of a trail to the summit. Like Pack Monadnock last weekend, I wasn't sure if this was doable. It was at least three to four times the effort of a Pack climb. My upper body is getting a bit of a break now, as I can put some weight on my left leg.

Cathy left me at the toll house and drove to upper lot. She would hike down to meet me. The first mile of the toll road averages a persistent 11% grade. One thing I did not anticipate were the bugs. Mosquitoes, black flies and deer flies. When you are crutching up a mountain and don't want to stop, you have no hands to swat anything. I got sucked dry by the bastards.

Part way up, a woman in a convertible comes along side and matches my speed. Her German Shepherd was just a few feet away from me staring with dark, beady eyes.  The conversation went like this:

Woman: "Are you CRAZY?" (making an exclamation that I was truly crazy)
HJ: "Yes."
Woman: "Do you want a ride?" (almost an order to accept a ride)
HJ: "No."
Woman: "I wouldn't even hike up this without crutches!"
HJ: Hill Junkie grin, thinking to myself I wouldn't hike up this without crutches either, I'd bike up it!

I would later encounter this woman with her dog again on the trail, reinforcing her suspicion I was truly crazy.

Cathy met me more than half way up. I was maintaining a pretty good pace, so she had to work pretty hard with no crutches to stay with me on the steeper parts. I couldn't keep up with her on the flatter parts. I reached the summit lot in 74 minutes, an average speed of almost 3mph. We had a quick bite to eat at the picnic tables, then off to the summit.

I've hike/biked to the summit several times. About 50% of the trail is rideable for someone at my skill level, the other 50% is even a challenge to hike without carrying a bike. A bit risky with a mending leg to be sure. I made sure the boot was pumped up firm. I dropped the crutches to the lowest setting. The biggest risk was twisting my leg inside the boot. I had to make sure where ever I planted my foot, it could not get lodged in between rocks and twist. Slipping or having to plant full weight on it was ok. Earlier at home, I was doing a little moving around without crutches.

Notice crutches are being used for balance, not weight bearing.

It didn't take long before I realized I was in over my head. Progress was painfully slow and frustrating. A few areas were wet, and I learned my right foot sneaker and pads on my crutches did not grip wet granite at all. My mood become less than cheerful. Still though, I was determined to make that summit. I knew the first half of the trail would be the tough part. There were a couple sections of hands and feet too, where Cathy carried my crutches. I felt much safer that way. I deeply feared coming back down this stuff.

A short crawl on all fours brought me to the bare granite summit. There were maybe only 10-12 people up there with a strong breeze and very pleasant temperature. It was very hot below. I didn't want to hang out up there too long, as my ankle just took many times the abuse in 30 minutes than it has in a whole week. I wanted to beat the swelling back down.

Coming down one of the enjoyable slickrock sections - a blast to ride!

It turns out going down was much easier and less risky than going up. I could plant my crutches a step down and just lower myself to that point. That is very hard to do in reverse going up. I rarely had to put weight on my left leg. I did have to crab-crawl a couple spots though. When I got back to the car, my whole body was trashed. Absolutely nothing escaped punishment. It was the kind of workout I never get this time of year by just riding.

3.0mph average on pavement, 0.9mph average on trail.
Forgot to bring HRM strap.

My ankle didn't swell up excessively on the drive back like I feared. In fact, I was able to park right at the door of Exit 6 Starbucks and walk in without crutches. Woo-hoo! My ankle got stiff and sore later in the evening, however. I ended up watching about 5hrs of TV, icing my ankle much of the time. Physical therapy three times this week and rapidly ramping up activity level is bringing my leg back fast. This comes with a price of elevated swelling most of the time. It is hard to say where the correct balance is. My therapist told me if I do a lot this weekend, to spend non-active time with my foot up and iced. As long as I make rapid progress, I'm not going to worry too much about the swelling. Swelling is expected anyway when getting range of motion back.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Muffin Top

I began physical therapy and limited weight bearing this week. Both have pushed the swelling level way up in my ankle. Guess it is par for the course. At my second therapy session, my therapist noted I already showed significant improvement in range of motion. One of the hardest things she had me do was control a wobble board with my left ankle while seated. No weight, no risk of falling or injury, just control and range of motion. It was exceedingly hard to do and mildly painful. It was like I completely forgot how to use my ankle stability muscles.
My therapist was quite confident I'll be walking without crutches when I go back to orthopedist on July 12. This will be in the boot cast, of course. It is one thing to walk with ankle entirely supported, another without any external support. I guess it is a pretty big leap to walk unassisted. For this reason, my therapist doesn't think it is very likely I'll be able to ride a bike a month from now. I at least need to be able to walk on my ankle before I can safely ride a bicycle. This bums me out. This could put me into August before I can ride again, a full three months from when I broke my ankle.

Indoor training was nice at first, as I wasn't tempted to do stuff outside and it certainly was better than staring at computer screens 15 hours a day. But it is already getting old as I ramp up hours and intensity. The doctor cleared me for limited weight bearing, 30-50% of my body weight on my left leg this week, then weight as tolerated after that. 50% means standing with equal weight on both legs. I can now use a proper, standing position on the SkiErg. As expected, power levels have dramatically increased, along with aerobic intensity to maintain it.  I can drive my heartrate to 90% max in very short order and hold it there, punching up to >95% max in my final interval. I was not able to do that while roller skiing last fall. The arms couldn't support it. The question is, as spinning volume increases, will I lose interested in the SkiErg?

Typical workout, spin with boot first 36 minutes, then 12 minute
all-out interval on the SkiErg for 12 minutes. My max HR is
probably around 180bpm right now.

The doctor also cleared me for bootless spinning workouts with the understanding I keep the intensity below what drives pain or swelling, and no clipless pedal for my left foot. My first spin without cast lasted 10 minutes with zero resistance. I had no control of my calf muscle and could not maintain a steady fore/aft foot angle without banging into rails of pain. Foot would wobble back and forth trying to maintain a normal flat position relative to ground. I know I lost about 70% of my calf muscle, but I think even more is going on here, a mental/neural thing. I went so long without firing my calf muscle to protect the injury, so my brain hesitates to finally do it now. Plus, I probably lost a good deal of neural-muscular connection. It all adds up to loss of control.  I was somewhat torn by this, as I was already able to put out good intensity when wearing the boot, but to make progress, I'm going to have to take several steps back and build the calf muscle back up.

My second workout on the spin bike lasted 13 minutes with light resistance. It made my ankle hurt, but I also had more range of motion afterwards. Improved range of motion does not come without pain. My third workout felt much better, and I went 36 minutes, approaching tempo pace for a short bit at the end. Last night I went 48 minutes, touching into threshold regime. So yeah, it is coming back fast. I don't think I will put the boot on for intensity again, as long as the swelling that goes along with these workouts is gone in the morning.

I did notice an interesting phenomenon with my bootless spin workouts. I take long, soft sock off and don a cycling sock which fits snugly over my enlarged ankle. I've read about compression sock and using compression to control swelling from injuries. My foot tends to be swollen at the end of each day, and I can barely get it into an old, oversized sneaker I have. Yet when I finish my spin session, the swelling in my foot seems to be reduced. The improved blood flow is part of this, but the snug sock is another part. My lower leg muffin tops over the lip of the sock. The swelling went down under the sock and stayed the same above the sock.  I now wear one of these socks when I ice my ankle afterwards. I should probably invest in a real set of compression socks.

Left leg after spin.  My right leg did not muffin top.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

"You picked a tough road to hoe!"

A broken leg can't keep the Hill Junkie down. Handicapped with crutches for six weeks now, I was looking for creative ways to elevate my heartrate.  I'm not sure how many more weeks I have to go on crutches. I did gain this morbid curiosity of whether Pack Monadnock was "crutchable." I figured I better give it a try while I was still on crutches.

Many readers are familiar with this climb. It gains over 800ft in just 1.3 miles. It averages 12% grade, but there are a couple sections of 20% or more. Saturday morning was fabulously beautiful. I just had to do something active outside, not having done any outdoor activity in six weeks. The plan was Cathy would drop me off at the base and drive to the summit. She would then hike down to meet me coming up.

I put my prospects at 50/50 of being able to crutch all the way up. Even though my forearms and shoulders are considerably stronger now than six weeks ago, something as simple as going up two flights of stairs will make me suffer and slow down before hitting the top. The best challenges are one's whose outcome is completely unknown. Just like science experiments. You don't learn anything from an experiment if the outcome is certain.

It was noticeably cooler at Pack than at my house. Nice breeze too. Being a very hot day, I needed all the help I could get. I charged into the climb, at first thinking this ain't going to be too bad. Like a Cat 4 time-trialer, I soon realized I went out too hard. 200ft into the 800ft climb, I pretty much thought there was no friggin way I was going to make it all the way up. First my forearms gave out, then because I started hanging on the tops of my crutches, my shoulders crapped out. I had to stop a few times for a few seconds to let my arms/shoulders recover. I did wrap cotton hand towels around the armpit pads on my crutches. I would have shredded my skin otherwise. I also dropped the crutches an inch, since I would be planting them on the up slope in front of me. I think the crutches were "dialed."

I plodded along and was surprised to meet Cathy at the half-way point, 400ft up. She must have ran down fast. She started taking pictures and gave me encouragement. She also made it very clear dropping me off at the bottom that I would be in big trouble if she had to come rescue me. She is scared to death of driving down steep, curvy mountains.

Only a couple cars came by on my climb. Nobody was out that day. A few hikers came down. One guy said "Man, you picked a tough road to hoe!" Another hiker commented "I haven't seen that before!"

Finally I reached the dreaded last 0.2mi. This averages over 20% grade. I've seen strong riders with regular road gearing peter out and stop on this section. I paused briefly before attacking it. I at least wanted to "clean" this section. It wasn't as bad as I thought. Cathy didn't make much ground on me with two good legs and was breathing just as hard as I was.

Cresting the top, I was surprised to see only one car in the parking lot, ours. I expected this masochistic endeavor to challenge me aerobically, not muscularly, but just the opposite was the case. My arms and shoulders were the weak link. This certainly was a whole body workout, minus my left leg. My right leg received a punishing workout, having to kick hard each step. I very nearly got a blister on the ball of my foot. Kevin Buckley should consider adding crutching up steep slopes to his list of crazy exercises. Nothing in my body escaped unscathed. Two hours later I was pretty wrecked.

Amazingly, my body weight has been holding sub-160 lbs, even though my calorie intact has gone up quite a bit over the last couple weeks. The more bizarre thing is my body fat. Typically, I hover around 9-10%. This is in the morning when I'm partially dehydrated, which drives up the BF measurement. My BF over the last few weeks has been steady at 4.2-4.6%.  I've been weighing myself lately in the evening after showering. I'm fully hydrated and full of food. This may drive the BF down, but it should also drive the weight way up. Not sure what I weigh in the mornings. I know that measuring BF after showering can lower the number a little, but I wonder if the titanium hardware in my left ankle is somehow skewing the bioimpedance measurement.

I have learned a few things things about my diet over the past weeks. If I can apply what I've learned to next season, I could see myself racing at 5-10 pounds less than I historically have. True, I have extensive muscle atrophy in my left leg, but in the last month, I have put on noticeable muscle mass where I have never had it - my upper body. I'm really curious to see how this plays out once I get back in cycling shape.

Pack profile, heartrate, speed and grade.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Eight Month Turn-Around

A few readers may recall last fall, when I was contemplating using my Dean hardtail for the Ironcross race, I noticed the frame was cracked. I shipped the frame back to Dean for repair in October. They offer a lifetime guarantee on their frames.

A couple months went by and I hadn't heard anything. So I called them before the holidays. They said work was starting and I should see my frame back in January. Towards the end of January, I repeatedly tried to get through to Dean to no avail. When I finally did get through in early February, it was clear they hadn't touched my frame yet. Now I was a bit perturbed, as that is the bike I normally travel with, and Dave Penney and I had a trip to Arizona coming up.

I kept calling. I'm sure they have caller ID there, so when they saw that 603 area code, they knew better than to pick up the phone. Some days I called 6 or 8 times. Then I'd give up and a week would go by. I got through again in March I believe, and I got some story that the repair was started but they had to wait for a welding fixture. I got more stories in April and May. One time my frame was queued up for something that was supposedly done already. It was prime riding season and I wanted my longtime favorite ride back.

Then I broke my leg and it took away some of my motivation to hound Dean, but I still picked up the phone a couple times a week. Finally, they told me it was done last week and it would ship on Friday. I was extremely skeptical, as I was promised a tracking number via email that I never received. So I was surprised when Cathy called me today to ask what I ordered. My frame was finally back, nearly eight months after I shipped it to Dean for repair.

Needless to say, Dean's customer support needs major work. They build a fine frame. I wouldn't have purchased five frames from them over the years if I didn't think they fabricated a fine product. But I probably wouldn't buy another frame from them after this experience. A frame repair should never take eight months, and frame builders should stick to fabricating frames, not stories about repair progress.

New top tube, burnishing and decal kit makes it look brand new.

My returned frame looks fabulous. It has a new top tube with nicer cable guides on it, everything freshly burnished, and a new decal kit. The cracks started on both sides of the top tube and went into the seat tube. Dean cut out the top five inches of seat tube and spliced in a new piece. Cosmetically, I think this looks fine. The one issue I have with it is my seat post ends right at the welded splice. I've seen seat tubes fail here before, and I don't need to exacerbate another frame failure. I will probably buy the long Thompson seat post that goes about halfway down the seat tube to alleviate these concerns.

Closeup of the spliced in seat tube.

I used to think titanium was infallible. Not anymore. I've seen too many Ti frames fail, even from the best builders. Like any alloy, if you fatigue it enough, it will eventually fail. My Dean Colonel hardtail has the most riding hours of any mountain bike I own. It was 9 years old when it failed. Ti is still much more resilient than aluminum alloys, and probably more robust than fly weight carbon frames too.

It was just as well that Dave and I did not take hardtails to Tucson this spring. We brought dualies instead.  It allowed us to do some pretty long, rugged rides that surely would have left us beat up for the next day's ride had we ridden hardtails.

I'll probably wait to build the bike back up until after I see the orthopedist on Monday. I'm hoping he'll clear me for limited weight bearing, which will make it much easier to wrench while not perched on crutches.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Five Week Progress Report

It was five weeks ago today that I broke my leg. That is five weeks without throwing a leg over a bicycle. It's been only over the last few days where my foot is starting to look normal again. I'm also catching myself attempting to use my left leg in a normal fashion, like forgetting to grab my crutches when getting up from the sofa. I haven't mistakenly put much weight on my leg yet. I honestly believe it wouldn't hurt if I did. Per doctor's orders, I still have another week to go with zero weight bearing. Things must be going half way decent if I'm starting to forget I have a broken leg.

Here's a little comparison between my ankle on Sunday, May 9 and today, June 13. A little bit of titanium and some time to heal can make quite a difference, eh? I attempted to put the orthopedic surgeon's mark where I thought it would be on the latest image. I did my best to capture the same angle and leg orientation as in the ER five weeks ago. I still find it hard to believe that was my ankle.

I've been increasing the intensity of my SkiErg workouts. I really have no interest in going an hour at it, so I fill 30-40 minutes with short, hard-as-I-can go intervals. I got my heartrate up to 172bpm today. That's approaching Mt Ascutney race pace. I did this while balancing on my right leg and resting my left leg up on a block. The power is still not very impressive, peaking out at only 250W. My average power for 30 minutes is still just over 100W. Most of this is seated poling and triceps limited. There is a lot going on for this measly power output. It is weight bearing and involves nearly all muscle groups. Skiing economy is much lower than cycling economy. Thus for a given output power level, a lot more calories are burned while poling than spinning on a bike. I can burn 350 calories in 30 minutes now, which the computer tells me is covering over 6km on medium fast snow (resistance set at 2.5 out of 10, 10 being most resistance).  Sub-five minute kilometers using only arms is not bad. I question whether I could have done that at the end of last ski season.  Friday's workout consisted of warming up, then 1min all-out, 2min recovery for 30 minutes total. It was the first time in five weeks I can honestly say I got an endorphin buzz. I was trashed afterwards.

I'm hoping when I see the orthopedist in a week, he'll clear me for spin bike work. I haven't attempted to use the spin bike since three weeks ago when several readers chastised me for one-legging it.  I did try a little experiment Saturday where I put the left crank back on with a flat pedal for the casted leg. My right leg did most of the work and my left leg just went along for the ride. There was no issue with this. I could easily put a little power into it with my left leg if I wanted too. With an immobilized ankle, I had to heel pedal on my left side, which took a little getting used to.

I've been stretching my Achilles tendon a couple times a day. I have pretty good downward range of motion now. I have almost no upward range of motion, maybe just past 90 degrees. I think my calf muscle is tight and prevents the movement. It doesn't hurt really, at least I'm not forcing it to that point. It just stops. The other degrees of freedom are gone. It's like my ankle joint just fused over. The doctor didn't want me working at these other movements before physical therapy anyway, only the Achilles was permitted. Can't really curl my toes down either, using their muscles. It feels like those tendons go around the back of the ankle and are all tight.  My toes move no problem if I do it manually by hand.  Weird stuff.  I have a hunch physical therapy is going to be unpleasant.

Per the doctor's initial assessment, I could have as little as three weeks left in the cast, or another five weeks. I sure hope I'm not only half way. The temptation is growing daily to start using my left leg, since in the cast I have negligible pain anymore. I wonder what my bone strength is up to now. 40%? 70%? Don't need any setbacks. I'm transitioning from a phase of despair to impatient anticipation.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What are the odds?

I've driven like a maniac most of my life. I've mellowed some over the last few years, but I bet on the highway, fewer than 10% of vehicles go faster than I do. I consider myself pretty lucky to get pulled over for speeding only once every year or two. I've managed to stay accident free too. The worst thing that happened to me in 32 years of driving was when a deer ran into the side of my mother's brand new minivan at night a few years ago in Michigan. The deer lept over a huge ditch on a two-lane highway and hit the passenger door where my mother was sitting with such force that all of us messed our pants. The deer amazingly was able to run off. Unfortunately my mom's van had a bit of crinkle damage to the side panels. Have any idea where this is going yet?

Up until a month ago, I could boast I hadn't broken a bone in my nearly 48 year lifespan. Then I had to go ahead and break two bones in three places. And to do it really right, I made sure titanium hardware was needed to pull the pieces back into place again.

So in a span of a month, I destroyed my broken bone free and accident free life. Sunday, my first solo drive in a month, still in a cast, I set out to get a Starbucks coffee. I took a more back roads way, as I had all the time in the world. I slowed to make a left turn just over the border in Mass, and wham, my wife's tiny Scion xD catapulted ahead about 10ft. Glad I didn't have the wheels turned a little, else I would have went into the oncoming car.

I went ape-shit. It was a car full of teenagers with a girl driving. I called the police and hesitated to even get out to assess the damage. I was fine.  I could see her full size car's hood was buckled up and bumper caved in. My xD probably weighed half as much. I was hugely surprised to find largely cosmetic rubber bumper damage. I'm sure some metal behind there is all bent up, but the hatchback was still perfectly aligned, no rear lights damage, and no misalignment of any other body panels. It was a huge impact. I think Toyota designed this bumper right.

I could go into some hilarious details of what transpired next, but not in this open forum. They do have my full contact info. Needless to say, I was zero percent at fault. I was never questioned about hobbling around on crutches in a cast either. I do not feel the least bit handicapped driving now, and I guess the officer didn't think I was either. Now had I done the rear ending, maybe things would have been viewed a little differently.

Cathy didn't believe me at first when I told her I got in an accident. Then she freaked. Then after she checked it out, she just kind of shrugged it off. I'm contemplating whether it is worth replacing the bumper on the xD or not. The car is only 2yrs old. I don't think it is worth the hassle and risk of my insurance premium going up.  I was so paranoid driving that morning. Look what happened. Some have said it is no coincidence. Now I'm even more paranoid, like everybody out on the road is out to get me.

On a more positive note, I'm beginning to get more and more out of the SkiErg workouts. I can still only go 30-40 minutes on the machine, but my triceps are starting to hold up better. I also learned I can do one-legged standing poling. This nets about a 50% increase in power output and gives my good leg one mean workout. I can sustain one-legged poling for only 2-3 minutes, and if I do 3-4 of these in one session, I feel like I get something close to a Chestnut Hill TT equivalent out of the workout. Hopefully in a couple weeks I can begin limited weight bearing on my left leg and see another jump in power output. I think the raw strength in my right leg has actually increased in the last month, and my ability to balance or hop one-footed without loosing my balance has dramatically increased. I would not have been able to do one-legged poling before I broke my ankle.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Back in the driver's seat

It's been a month since I've driven a car. Last weekend I was unsuccessful in clutching either of our cars. The Scion xD looked most promising, as it had much more room to either side of the clutch pedal. One problem was just starting the car, as the pedal must be pressed to the floorboard to trigger the starting switch. Hill Junkie reader JRL noted in my last post how to get around this problem. It might have worked with my xD, but I wanted a little extra margin.

I still have a wood workshop buried behind bikes and related paraphernalia in my basement. After taking some measurements of the clutch pedal and clearances of the AirCast boot, I figured a two inch tall spacer was needed at about 2.5"x2.5" in size. This could easily be cut out of a 2x4 and piece of half inch plywood. Here is what I ended up with:

When mounting the spacer, I found the clutch pedal was curved and the wooden block would rock on it. So to the belt sander I went, shaping the back side of the block to precisely match the curvature of the pedal. I still haven't lost my eye for such touches. In one try, it was a perfect fit.

I secured the block to the pedal with about 10 strips of heavy cloth based duct tape. It is probably more secure than the rubber pad that comes on the pedal. So how did is work? With my cast, the pedal just nicely bottomed out before overhanging bits of boot touched the floor to the left of the pedal. This solved the hardest park, starting the car, as the disengagement point to shift is only part way down.  Here's what the finished job looked like:

Cathy was apprehensive about getting in the car with me. I first drove to the Pelham transfer station, then through Lowell to the Drumhill Starbucks to get a New Guinea Peaberry Clover machine coffee. Lot of clutching to get there. The force to actuate the clutch did not bother my ankle at all, and driving seemed completely natural. Cathy was actually more relaxed with me driving finally, as I tend to be a bit of a back seat driver.  This will be a huge mental boost. I now have more of my independence back, another step closer to normalcy.

Another two weeks to my next orthopedist visit. I think I will get set up with physical therapy at that time. If things go very well, the cast could come off in another month. I've probably achieved maximal calf muscle atrophy already. There's nothing left but a limp flab. I can't even isometrically tension it up. It's like the muscle flew the coup. The muscle in back used to be about twice as wide as the front of my leg, now it is skinnier than the front. Looks pretty gross actually, and it is still discolored from the upper fibula fracture.  My right calf seems to be holding its ground. Going up stairs gives it a major workout several times a day. It goes through almost full range of motion bearing full body weight. A cycling friend from work blew out his Achilles tendon 11 years ago. To this day, that calf muscle never regained the size of the other. His injury no doubt involves the calf more than mine does, but this info was not the most encouraging. So I'll stop jabbering with this short clip of muscle atrophy.

Broken ankle muscle atrophy from D. Jansen on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Essential Accoutrements

It's been over three weeks now since I broke my leg. Healing progress is steady, although it seems very slow from my perspective. I don't have a reference point. In reality, I'm probably making better progress than the average person would with a similar injury. I still can't make it through a day without having to put my leg up though. Swelling is a lingering issue, but it is slowly subsiding. I have very little pain left from the surgery and fractures and haven't taken any pain meds in about 10 days now. My next doctor's visit is about three weeks away, when I hopefully can begin physical therapy.

I test fitted both of our cars for potential driving. The Toyota Matrix was a non-starter. There just isn't enough room for the huge AirCast I'm in to press the clutch far enough to disengage it. So I tried the even small Scion xD. Close, but the clutch disengages in the last inch of travel, and it presses down into a hollow in the floorboard. I could not press it in far enough to even start the car, no matter how I tried to angle the cast. I do think a 2" spacer block on the xD clutch pedal will completely remedy this situation. Cathy drove an Isuzu pickup for years with a small wooden block on the gas pedal because she was too short to reach it. My project this week is to figure out a safe way to secure a block to the pedal.

I looked into monthly rental rates, and it is just too much money. Cathy taking me to work and back is challenging enough right now. Once I start PT, potentially three times a week, I will need to drive. I regret not owning an automatic now.

The other day Cathy swung by Starbucks at Exit 6 in Nashua so I could pick up a coffee. I get to work and realize I have no way of carrying it to my desk without losing half of it. The overnight guard was not about to let Cathy carry it in for me. He felt sympathy for me and offered to carry it since my desk is not far from the front entrance on the main floor. That got me thinking.

I have all these bottle cages laying around. Titanium ones even. I found one can easily be mounted on a crutch with no perceptible weight gain, unless you put a full water bottle in it. It works very nicely for a grande Starbucks. No more groveling for someone to carry my caffeine fix in the morning.