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Month: March 2014

getting locally political

I was once a more active political creature in DC. These days, I pick my battles a bit more judiciously, preferring to expend my energy toward things that keep me interested, where the frustrations can lead to progress.

But this current Democratic primary season (yes, I’m a Democrat, though one who’s seldom in lock-step with the local or national party systems), I’ve heard a lot of people try and bend ears with their endorsements. And now, it’s my time to do the same.

(For those looking for #projectfemur updates, more are forthcoming.)

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ten on tuesday: a few updates on #projectfemur

This isn’t the official list topic, but it works for what I have to say with this update:

  1. Recovery continues to go well, all things being equal.
  2. I need to remain on an anticoagulant until at least mid-May mid-August.* Hopefully, that will be the end of it, as I can’t do any high-risk things (e.g. outdoor cycling) while on said medication.
  3. I now have a hematologist who will give me a date certain for cessation of the anticoagulant.*
  4. I saw my orthopedist yesterday. He’s impressed with the bone healing and the building muscle strength in my leg, and cleared me for full weight bearing – woo-hoo!
  5. My outpatient physical therapy is quite challenging. Both of the therapists I’m seeing (my main PT and another PT who previously worked on my shoulder) have me on an aggressive strength and flexibility program. They do deep-tissue massage on my hip and knee to loosen the atrophied muscles.
  6. After all of the workout and massage, these muscles are sore, especially my adductors and iliacus groups. The upside: I see tangible improvement from day to day and week to week.
  7. I’m walking around a lot, and my walking gait is far better as my leg gets stronger and more flexible.
  8. Last week at PT, I was introduced to a Pilates Reformer. It was a good challenge for my still-wobbly leg muscles.
  9. Riding a stationary bike will likely start this coming week, though I’ll know more about this after tomorrow’s outpatient PT appointment.
  10. I return to work on April 10.

I think that covers it, really. Despite today’s snow, DC’s spring seems to be rolling in.

Days since surgery: 72

ETA on 4/18/14: corrected end date for anticoagulant drugs to mid-August.

it’s time to admit something (#projectfemur)

I’ve been treating the entire #projectfemur as a new, positive opportunity. While it’s been a challenge, I’m enjoying the work and trying to channel it into exploring new opportunities in all aspects of my life.

But I have to admit something, a thing that has bothered me for a while:

I miss my bike.

I miss being able to ride it.

I miss being able to even get it down off its storage rack in The Burrow.

As spring approaches, the weather will be perfect for rides all over the greater DC area. Spring is probably my favorite riding season in this area: cool mornings with pleasant afternoons and reasonable humidity. And while the roads show the scars of a hard winter, with tons of frost heaves and potholes on every conceivable paved surface, they are roads that I love to ride. Whether it’s a ride out of Bowie, Maryland, heading to Chesapeake Bay via lovely, gently rolling roads, or climbing the bigger rollers and hills in Loudoun County, Virginia, or zipping along with my friends during the upcoming “Downtown Breakaway” rides on Wednesdays here in DC, I miss all of it.

I miss the camaraderie of the Friday Coffee Club at Swing’s.

I miss my weekend rides with a crew of friends with whom I’ve shared many adventures on two wheels.

I’m missing the inaugural season of District Taco Cycling p/b BicycleSPACE. I was to be part of their roster for this season – another posse of great cycling friends.

I even miss my daily bike commute, even though I’m not yet back at work.

I miss the freedom of simply being able to hop on the bike and go somewhere – anywhere.

My physical therapist at Georgetown University Hospital happens to be a cyclist and a bike fitter – a happy coincidence, and definite luck of the draw. He knows my drive, my desire to get back on the bike and be stronger than ever. He wants me to start working out on a trainer or stationary bike sometime soon – though not soon enough for my desire to simply ride.

But the promise of getting back on the bike is real, and my goal of being stronger than ever is not unreasonable or unattainable. I know there will be some adjustments, but it’s a small price to pay to get back on my bike.

But right now, the bikes hang on their rack, taunting me every time I turn my gaze their way. They’ll get their cleaning, tune-up, re-fitting, and time back on the pavement.

I’m simply impatient. As Queen once mused, “I want it all – and I want it now!”

“In good time,” I keep telling myself.

In good time.

Days since surgery: 54

people of dc: shovel and treat your sidewalks!

DC is going to get hit hard by a storm, starting Sunday night and continuing all day Monday. Given it’s still winter, that’s great – it’s pretty snow!

What isn’t great? DC residents’ collective ineptitude at clearing their sidewalks. As a person who is limited to getting around on crutches, I implore the people of DC:

SHOVEL YOUR SIDEWALKS! TREAT THEM WITH ICE MELT! AND CLEAR THE ENTIRE WIDTH OF THE WALK!

Seriously, it’s as if DC people think that snow magically clears itself (hint: if it’s cold for days after a storm, it doesn’t!), or that doing the bare minimum of “clearing” – i.e. sort of shoveling/pushing aside a 10-inch-wide “path” – is acceptable. These people are just plain rude, and are also in violation of DC law (see below). For folks on crutches (like me), using canes, reliant on walkers, or riding in wheelchairs, these “goat paths” are often completely impassible.

So, DC: it’s time to cowboy up and shovel your walks!

As a person who grew up in snow country (20 years in Utah, 10 in New England), here are the basic rules when it comes to shoveling:

  • Before the snow falls, treat the sidewalk with halite, rock salt, or a pet-friendly ice melter. Note that rain transitioning to snow calls for this to happen once the snow appears -otherwise, the salt dissolves.
  • Shovel the complete width of the sidewalk, from lawn/planter box/retaining wall/foundation of house to the curb/tree box.
  • If you live on a corner, it is your responsibility to keep the ADA curb cuts clean, including a path to where the street is clear.
  • Clear all paths to the house, including stairs, and clean the full width.
  • In trying to place shoveled snow, do not block storm drains. This can cause flooding of your house or icing of the sidewalk when melting starts. Likewise, if you see these dams, break ’em up with your shovel.
  • If you have neighbors who are elderly, infirm, or mobility challenged, please pay it forward and clear their sidewalks.
  • If there are vacant properties or absentee property owners, be nice and clear the walks, but contact the property owner and remind them they are legally responsible to keep their walks and curb cuts clear.
  • A note about DC law: legally, all sidewalks must be cleared and fully passable within 8 daylight hours of the cessation of snowfall. That said, it’s totally OK to shovel anytime, day or night.
  • If you live in a tony neighborhood and offload the shoveling to your gardener or landscaping service, note that they could be snowbound and unable to get to you in a timely manner. Shit happens. So be brave (and responsible) and shovel your own walks – it’s the neighborly thing to do (and if I see you are home and haven’t shoveled, I’ll come knocking… if I can get to your front door, that is).

Being limited to walking with crutches these days, it amazes me how many in DC (especially in Dupont, Georgetown, Foggy Bottom, West End, and Logan Circle) do a bare minimum of cleaning, if any. The “goat paths” are really slick, and get even more icy after multiple days of freeze/thaw cycles. This is especially the case for sidewalks on the south side of east-west running streets.

Again, people of DC: please think of those of us for whom snow and ice are a dangerous challenge to everyday mobility. We are your neighbors, friends, and colleagues.

Thank you!

P.S. – a note to DDOT and DCDPW: please properly plow the bike lanes and cycletracks as you plow the car lanes. There are a lot of four-season, everyday cyclists in this town who would appreciate the respect from your offices.

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