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starting re-entry… slowly… (#projectfemur)

It’s less than a month until I’m back to riding full-time on the road. I’m keeping busy during that time.

The workouts continue, with increasing intensity and focus. My time in the gym is spent mostly either in the weight room, where I’m building leg and arm strength, or in the stretching area, where I can work on core strength and flexibility. The latter is something I’m working on a lot in PT, where Scott and Megan have been working diligently to make my repaired leg every bit as capable as its healthy neighbor.

Next challenge for that: rotational flexibility. To visualize what that is: I can’t sit cross-legged on the floor right now, as my right leg can’t rotate and lie flat just yet. Soon – just another goal in my sight.

This morning I started the next step in my bike training with Matt at District Cycle Works: morning workouts on a Wahoo Kickr. This is a major step up from the Star Trac eSpinner I’ve been using at the gym, as it allows me to use my own bike for the workouts. It also pairs with my Garmin Edge 500 and my iPhone to record my rides and the associated data, including power output. This opens a whole world of possibilities for my workouts as I head into the home stretch.

Most of all, though, it’s fun to be able to workout with friends who will actually converse with me.

Wahoo!!!

That’s something that’s sorely lacking at the gym, where folks tend to fold into the insular shells provided by the ever-present earbuds.

Just so you don’t think it’s all about the bike (do I owe that Armstrong guy a royalty for trotting out that phrase?), I’ve also spent some time on the beach, where I tested out my run.

Running!

It was awesome!

I’ve also been dipping my toe back into local government – very local, as in the Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s Transportation and Public Infrastructure Committee. Basically, this committee advises the ANC (which is a step below the District Council) in all matters walking, cycling, parking, and parks. While I was brought into the fold because of cycling, as a pedestrian during my convalescence, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge of mode share issues that affect this committee. I’ve already penned a letter to DDOT, asking for follow-through on motions passed by the ANC back in 2012, and look forward to doing – and learning – more as my tenure grows.

And I’ve been working with some of my fellow ski coaches to come up with a fitness plan for our junior racers. I’d like to see all of the athletes come into the ski season in peak physical shape, not only to allow them a great chance of meeting (and exceeding) their goals, but also to provide them more safety against injury. Hopefully this will get some traction within the team – I know similar plans helped me achieve my skiing goals when I was younger.

What else is there to say? Sometimes you need to look at the details to see where you need to go…

Shados in surf

Maybe Jimi Hendrix said it best, regarding the impending next steps of my #projectfemur recovery:

“And so castles made of sand, fall in the sea, eventually.”

Sandcastle at Bethany Beach

six months and i am impatient (#projectfemur)

It’s been six months (and one day, as I started writing this on the 11th, and it’s now the 12th) since my injury – since #projectfemur began.

I am not, by nature, a patient person. My patience is wearing thin in terms of indoor workouts. I’m riding the spinning bike, lifting weights, stretching, and it’s tedious and boring. Sure, I see and feel positive results, but I’m not sure how gym rats do it all year long.

Yes, I can hike, but I haven’t since the Connecticut trip. I have the Rock Creek Park trails close to home, but I’ve been oblivious to their draw. Perhaps the spate of afternoon thunderstorms has me leery to go into darker, wooded areas. And the mud around here is slick, which isn’t conducive for sure-footed hiking.

And while I’ve discussed the idea of going to yoga classes with sprite, that hasn’t become a reality just yet. Perhaps this coming week, that can be fixed.

I’ll also finally start my indoor trainer workouts on the Wahoo Kickr this coming Tuesday (at *cough* six effing thirty in the morning – a time of my own choosing, I admit), which will mean riding my own bike. And I’ll be riding with friends, riding to some intense workout programs, and maybe, just maybe, it’ll be a better shot of my own version of “vitamin A.”

“Vitamin A” is the adrenaline thing I mentioned in my last post: I crave it, and I’m not getting it from my current high-intensity indoor training, at least not in amounts that register with my psyche.

So I celebrated my six month anniversary of #projectfemur by riding a bike to Friday Coffee Club.

It was on a Capital Bikeshare bike, rolling slowly on the lowest traffic roads between The Burrow and M.E. Swing’s.

It was liberating.

I smiled a lot.

I felt free.

And that’s likely it for outdoor rides until mid-August.

Y’see, I did it on the sly. I didn’t let anybody know until it was over – not even sprite.

It was, any way you look at it, a boneheaded, selfish, childish move.

I didn’t feel like I was in any danger at all. CaBi bikes handle very predictably, are fairly slow, and are perfect for an initial foray into outdoor riding. At least that was my approach to my 1.3 mile ride.

But I hadn’t told anybody I was riding, not even sprite – a big mistake, if you look at my current risk level. I didn’t have anything on my person explaining that I’m on anticoagulant medications, just in case I got into an accident and needed medical assistance.

As I admit: it was a very irresponsible thing to do. And while I enjoyed it at the time, as the day wore on, I knew I hadn’t gone about the ride in the proper way.

So I’m in the doghouse right now. sprite was right to be mad at me, and I don’t expect those feelings to subside soon. What I did was hurtful and insensitive. Given all she’s done for me during #projectfemur, it was a truly dumb move on my part. I am most sorry for that.

I think I’ll stick to the complete mental torture that is indoor workouts – and the occasional hike here and there, with friends – until I’m off these (now likely unneeded) meds. It will do my body good, if not my psyche. And while I can commute via bike, taking the precautions that I didn’t this morning, I can see myself forgetting to let sprite know I’ve made it to my destination. That would be a deal breaker.

We’ll see. All I know is that I caused a lot of grief that I do not wish to repeat.

Days since surgery: 181

these are days… (#projectfemur)

Somehow I managed to not publish any updates in June. I’m not sure how it happened, but it’s not as if I was doing nothing.

The weekend after Memorial Day, sprite and I went to Bethany Beach, Delaware, to get away from things and enjoy the surf. The water was “New England warm” – i.e. 60°F/14°C – and the air temperature was mild (as has been the case with most weekends this summer). We managed to see the sunrise over the water, which was extremely beautiful and worth the pain of rising so early in the morning.

Sunrise over Bethany Beach

Leaving DC for the weekend was effective at getting my mind out of “I’m missing the bike” mode – at least for a little while.

The rest of the month had highs and lows: days where I’d feel like I’m moving forward, and others where I questioned whether there was any point in doing the work needed to get my leg back into shape. Indeed, the nice weekend weather, combined with the fact that my flexibility level and basic leg strength are good enough to get onto a bike, tore at me.

All. the. time.

Yet I soldiered on. I continued with my intensive PT regimen, with Scott and Megan working me, stretching me, poking and prodding me (i.e. dry needling), giving me new “homework” assignments every week. I work hard to “ace” these assignments, and tend to do quite well in exceeding expectations.

And there have been breakthroughs. I can balance on my bad leg:

Balance

And I’ve been working out on a Spinning® bike that I’ve setup to my road bike’s measurements:

Spinning

I do well on the spin bike, but I call it “going nowhere – really fast!” I’ve discovered that I like indoor cycling about as much as I like riding the bus: it’s OK for collecting my thoughts, it is a means to a (fitness) end, but it’s not overly enjoyable. I do workouts that mimic stuff I’d do on a normal bike – endurance riding, working on form, intervals, et al – but it’s not the same as real cycling.

There’s no change of scenery, save for whatever TV program is on the little screen. The tiny little fan on the control panel blows a feeble stream of wind across my brow (no way to setup a good box fan at the gym), and the eSpinning® bike doesn’t react like a real bike. To “shift gears” means turning a resistance knob where the top tube should be, and if I stand to “dance” on the pedals, the bike doesn’t rock under me like a real bike.

Hello, my name is Rudi, and I’m an adrenaline addict in serious withdrawal.

Granted, I’ll be working with a Wahoo indoor trainer starting this coming week (I hope), and that should get things moving in a better direction. I’ve cleaned the drivetrain of the Pedal Force to get it in shape for this next chapter:

Shiny chain

Still, these stationary bike workouts are not analogous to real cycling.

Trust me: I feel like I should be out there on the roads. I know I could be out there, riding safely, and enjoying the hell out of the ride. But it’s not in the cards just yet – thank you, anticoagulant meds. To say I’m displeased is an understatement.

I am finding ways to mix things up. For example, a couple weekends ago, I went on a nice morning hike in the hills of northern Connecticut:

(Click on the picture to see it in a bigger size – it’s a nice view from the top of Soapstone Mountain in Shenepsit State Forest!)

I also built a tiny Intel NUC for sprite’s dad. They are amazingly tiny – and very capable – computers for the money.

Intel NUC vs. CD

(Yes, it is smaller in width and depth than a CD case – very tiny, yet powered by a Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM!)

And I repaired my 9-year-old (!) iPod, replacing its dying hard drive and dead battery. I also replaced the batteries on my old heart rate monitor (to use in the gym), and finally sent my old Garmin Edge 500 (with its blown-out screen) for a warranty repair (hey – GPS data in real time!).

I’ve also has some incredible, high quality time with sprite. Y’see, during a typical summer, I spend a great deal of weekend time away at long bike rides. As she’s not an endurance bike rider, she stays home, while I’m gone for huge chunks of daylight time.

This summer, we’re doing more things together on the weekends. From traveling to the beach, to walking around town, to exploring new places, to simply sitting in the park and reading in the sunshine, I am enjoying this time with her quite a bit.

sprite at the DQ

While it’s not the summer is typically experience and enjoy, it’s satisfying.

I hope that the rest of the summer contains more fun travels. Right now, there are a few variables that need to be nailed down before sprite and I can commit to doing anything more than a weekend jaunt to the beach or the mountains (and if it’s sprite, the beach always wins out).

There are many things left to do. I need to continue with the #projectfemur recovery (which is still on schedule, much as I’m still grousing about it a lot). I want to take advantage of the summer. I want to see my endurance cycling friends (hey guys, it’s me, Rudi – remember me?). I want to hang out more with my DC friends. I want to see movies, eat out, cook out, camp, hike the VA, MD, and WV mountains.

And I want to ride my bicycle.

So there is an upside, right?

Right?

34 more days… 34 more days…

Days since surgery: 175

now it’s getting really tough (#projectfemur)

The end of May has been very, very trying for me.

The weather has turned drop-dead gorgeous. Temperatures aren’t too high, the humidity hasn’t been too thick, and everybody is working out outdoors.

Except for me, that is.

And I’m really in a funk as a result.

It’s really gotten to me this weekend, as today was the Mountains of Misery century, something I’ve done almost every Memorial Day since 2007. It’s typically my first big event ride of the season, and this year it would’ve been the first long event of the year after a handful of road bike races.

But thanks to #projectfemur, I wasn’t there – and it’s crushing me.

I should’ve been out there, but I can’t.

There was a generous offer to head down with one of my friends and either volunteer or “coach” from the sidelines. But that wasn’t what I needed to do – it would’ve been just as tough, I think – perhaps even tougher.

I’ve been working really diligently with my PT to rebuild my strength and flexibility. But improvements are now very minute, less tangible, and less rewarding in the short run.

I realize I’m on my own path this summer, that I can’t gauge my performance against my cycling friends, and that I need to find the happiness where I can. But it’s proving far tougher than I expected.

As I fully expected, working out indoors is proving to be less than ideal. Sure, it is getting me back in shape, and helping to rebuild my flexibility. But I just don’t get the endorphin fix that I get from my outdoor bike rides. There’s a good reason that I steer clear of spin classes, and riding an indoor trainer is proving that, loud and clear.

To me, riding a bike indoors – whether on a spinning bike, an exercise bike, or a bike on a proper indoor trainer – is akin to substituting masturbation for sex (I know, graphic analogy, but as I’m being blunt…). It’s not the same, it provides little of the satisfaction or reward. I’ve not yet done any work on the Wahoo indoor trainer, so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but it’s still working out indoors. It’s having a fan blow on me while I physically go nowhere, instead of seeing actual distance pass under my tires, with the wind blowing through my hair, the birds chirping, and so forth.

That said, it’s my only option right now, so I need to suck up and deal.

Granted, the outdoor pools in DC have reopened (though only on weekends until mid-June – not overly useful for regular workouts just yet), and swimming laps will be something I can, and will, do. And I’ve had rowing recommended to me as a good way to keep in shape and address areas that cycling tends to miss (e.g. back and core muscles). So those things are in my future, for sure.

And there will be some hiking, once my leg is a little more stable and sure-footed. That’ll get me out with some of my cycling friends who also like to hike – a definite plus.

But that’s still a bit far off in the future. And I really, truly want to be on my bike, riding in the fresh air, getting the sun and the breeze, and being with my cycling friends in our “native territory,” so to speak.

And it’s not happening. It can’t right now, and there is no proper substitute.

I’m a bit angry with my hematologist for keeping me on the anticoagulant meds for a full, six-month course. If it wasn’t for that, I could commute by bike already. Even that would make life a lot better than it is now. I know it’s petty and a bit myopic, and that I’m being kept on the meds for a valid reason, but the voice that drives my motivation isn’t placated by that at all.

August can’t come soon enough.

And even then, will my riding be up to snuff? I know plenty of friends who I don’t ride with that often under normal circumstances (because my pace tends to be fast), and I’ll be able to ride with them. But when I ride with my normal crowd, I worry they will simply leave me in the dust, heaving for breath to catch up – or that they’ll spend half of the ride waiting for me to arrive.

That isn’t an appealing thought at all.

I know from past experience that I tend to bounce back well from injury, and tend to be stronger than I was before said injuries. But my femur break and surgery are far and away the worst injury I’ve ever experienced, so this is a great unknown. There is no precedent in my life experience for this kind of recovery, and I’m simply not sure what to expect.

Will I be stronger than I was pre-injury? Will I still be as capable of climbing the hills on my bike? Will I still ski with the same confidence and strength? I simply just don’t know.

And given I feel like I’m being left behind, like my improvement is going incredibly slowly, and my patience is razor-thin, having big unknowns in my life leaves me grasping at thin air to find some direction.

sprite has helped me as much as she can to try to keep my spirits up – she rocks. So have many of my friends, for which I’m grateful. But this is still a battle that is very much my own, and one that only I can tackle.

I need to find a way to right this ship and find something positive to go on. I need ideas, because I just don’t have any right now. The lows are outweighing the highs right now, and that needs to stop.

As I said: August can’t come soon enough.

Days since surgery: 134

disconnected (with a side of progress) #projectfemur

Right now I feel like a spectator.

I feel disconnected.

Disconnected from the world I know and love.

Disconnected from many friends.

Disconnected from “normal.”

Things have been going well with my healing. My leg grows stronger every day. I’m to the point where, as long as the surfaces I walk on are fairly smooth, I can walk without a crutch and without any major limp (this crutch-free walk is still very much a work-in-progress). The flexibility I depend on for my agility and power is coming back, bit by bit. I’m putting in the hours on a recumbent stationary trainer at the gym, and am very close to being able to sling a leg over a regular bike, which will open me up to the world of more proper bike trainer simulations. And my outpatient physical therapy is working wonders in getting all the various and sundry pieces of “normal leg function” into place.

Really, I’m happy about this – elated, even.

But it’s still not quite right.

I miss my friends.

They ground me. They entertain, provide a sounding board, provoke conversation, and so much more.

And right now, I feel disconnected from most of them.

I miss my cycling friends a lot. I can follow their exploits via Strava, emails, and whatnot, but it’s not the same.

I’m not hanging out with them like I usually do. And when they go out on an epic ride, or compete in a well-known local race, I hear about it after the fact – sometimes well after the fact.

There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to know, as it simply makes me jealous and angry that I can’t be out there – rubbing salt in the proverbial wound. But there’s another part that wants to know simply to relate, as cycling is the root of these friendships, even those that have grown beyond the realm of the bike.

So I sit here, stuck. Sometimes, I simply want to throw my crutch across the room in frustration.

My cycling friends are neck deep in training for the big events of their seasons right now, and I don’t want to derail their efforts. All the same, I want to see them, hang out, socialize, even if it’s not on the bike. It could be anything: watching the Giro d’Italia stages in the evening, or going out to dinner or for post-work drinks, even a gym workout – anything would be an improvement.

And my non-cycling friends are similarly busy right now. Weekends are often the best times to hang out, but my close DC friends have a lot on their plates right now, some of them fun, others decidedly not. They were there for me (as were my cycling friends) when I was in hospital and needed the company. Since I’ve been out of hospital, I’m grateful for the times I do get to hang out with them, fleeting as they may be. Perhaps the month of May will settle things down a bit.

But, as I said in the opening of this post, I feel like a spectator to a life I miss. It gnaws at me and makes me feel like things are passing me by, even if they aren’t doing that at all. The feeling of an invisible wall between where I am and where I’d like to be is evident, even on the best of days.

Injury, you are cruel and cunning in your efficient wresting of normality.

Yes, I am more grateful than ever for every step I’m able to take on my right leg, for the fact that I will be back on the bike and back on skis, and that I am still, essentially, healthy. But injury still has me slightly by the scruff in terms of disconnecting me from the things that keep me sane.

I want to re-connect.

I need to reconnect.

I need the balance to return.

And I’m fairly sure I’m the one who needs to make the first move.

My mydunkin ad

social media connects in sweet ways

I tweet. Really – I do!

And I’ve met a lot of great people – many of whom are now friends – via Twitter. I’ve saved money via “tweet-only” special sales. Breaking news is almost always found first on Twitter.

And this past November, Twitter afforded me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to film a commercial for Dunkin Donuts.

It all started innocently enough with a tweet from Dunkin Donuts on November 21, 2013, asking me if I’d follow them back:

I thought it would be an offer for a discount coupon, given the sheer number of times I’d “checked in” at DD on road trips.

But it wasn’t.

Instead, they took fancy to the following tweet:

Yes, it’s a tweet that I posted 2.5 years earlier, but it caught the eye of Dunkin’s corporate HQ. They wanted to talk with me about “a project” they were working on, specifically with Dunkin fans. I figured it was worth a go, and I sent them my contact info.

Within the next two weeks, I was:

  • contacted by Dunkin’s PR department.
  • contacted by their ad agency, Hill Holliday.
  • contacted by ACNE Productions, who would film the ad.
  • contacted by a wardrobe consultant about my measurements.
  • booked on a flight to Chicago.

Yes, Chicago – not exactly ski country. But the commercial called for me to be in skiing mode, so I brought my full ski kit with me: skis, boots, poles, helmet, goggles, gloves, pants, jacket, base layers, you name it. For an overnight trip, it was a bit much.

So, all packed up, I left Washington National Airport after work on Wednesday, December 4th, arriving late in Chicago, where I caught a taxi to The Public hotel in the Gold Coast section of town. It is a gorgeous art deco hotel that has been lovingly renovated without losing any of its vintage charm.

Public Hotel lobby

Granted, I didn’t spend a long time in the hotel, as we – the film crew, the account manager, and me – had to depart our comfy digs at 4:00am to drive out to Lockport, one of Chicago’s exurbs, for our first bit of filming.

During the drive, I marveled at the call sheet for the day. This single sheet of paper listed every single person involved in the creation of a 30-second advert. Almost 70 people and organizations were listed on the call sheet – a staggering number, but they all had specific roles. Some directed, others filmed, others did lights and audio, still others provided our meals.

And I was just one little cog in this machine.

We arrived in Lockport at 5:10am, at the house of another Dunkin social media advert star, Elizabeth. She already shot a lot of footage in New Jersey back in the summer, but the ad agency wanted to film some setup footage at her house. Her tweet is featured in the ad, as are her really wonderful kids, who were given free reign to destroy their own living room for the sake of coffee! Click here to see Elizabeth’s ad.

Upon our arrival, craft services had a HUGE breakfast spread waiting for us in the basement of Elizabeth’s house. The whole crew for the day convened here, and introductions occurred over coffee, eggs, bacon, oatmeal, and fruit – all very tasty and very filling.

The camera equipment is set up

The whole day was produced under the auspices of SAG-AFTRA, which meant that strict union rules about shooting times were followed. So spot-on 7:00am, film rolled on Elizabeth’s ad, while I was whisked away to hair and makeup.

My brightly colored ski duds were exchanged for more earthy tones: light brown parka, navy fleece top, orange down vest, grey pants, black boots, and a multi-colored hat. This wasn’t the only option, but it’s the one that suited the fancy of Tyler, our director. All of the clothing was “de-branded,” with corporate logos removed as well as possible. Only my personal gloves and helmet were used as wardrobe, with the logos either taped over or obscured with clever angles. Likewise, while I was in the house getting into “TV shape,” my ski equipment was also “de-branded,” with multiple hues of duct and gaffer’s tape used to obscure as many logos as possible.

In between takes of Elizabeth’s commercial, I recorded voice-overs in a corner of the now-partially-destroyed living room. I used my own words, with a few key things included – namely, a mention of Dunkin Iced Coffee.

Wait – iced coffee? In winter?

Yes, this was the focus of the ad. Personally, I only drink hot coffee in the winter months, but I was willing to suspend my own druthers for this commercial – no problemo. Once my voiceovers were done, I retreated to my trailer out on the street.

I was ready to film, and didn’t know quite what to expect. I’d gone in with no preconceived notions of what would happen – a plus, I think.

My filming started around 9:30am at a house three doors down from Elizabeth’s. There was a rented car that I would drive, with a ski rack on its roof. My ski equipment was placed in the garage, and the director had me take the equipment from the garage to the car.

I did this move 5 or 6 times, each from different angles. I managed to scratch the car on the second take (oops), but otherwise, the filming went fine. I was then filmed pulling out of the driveway a few times.

Filming then moved to a Dunkin Donuts store in Orland Park, IL, which delighted the teenage employees to no end. They were read the riot act regarding social media (i.e. don’t post pictures from this shoot on Facebook or Twitter), but they were all quite pleased to have a national TV ad being filmed at their store.

This is where I got my iced coffee, which was really room temperature coffee (prepared to my usual level of cream and sugar) with acrylic ice cubes in the cup. It was cold outside, so an ice-cold drink wasn’t really what I wanted at the time. We filmed 10-or-so takes of me leaving the store, walking out to my car, and so forth. It went smoothly, and I listened to the directions from Tyler and his crew to help improve each take.

After our shooting was complete, we ate lunch (tasty chicken, salmon, and other great things) in the back room of the Dunkin store, where the donuts would be baked. After lunch, I went in for one last touch-up of hair and makeup, as my trailer wasn’t going to the final shooting location.

After leaving Dunkin, we drove on some country roads to give the impression of me driving to a bucolic ski mountain. I felt like I was on Top Gear in some respects, with a camera car doing its thing while I drove.

The final filming location was a ski area outside of Schaumberg, IL, a 45 minute drive from the Orland Park area on the outermost beltway around Chicagoland. During this drive, I chatted with the cinematographer, who has filmed so many cool events and places.

After driving around 40 miles on toll roads (in a car that, I might add, was still running its “Hollywood dummy” license plate – oops), we arrived at Villa Olivia Country Club and Ski Area. This is not the kind of ski area that anybody who really loves skiing would go by choice. My guess is that the place is reclaimed landfill, where the ski slope had vertical drop added by mounding the landfill.

Villa Olivia Ski Area

Also, note the lack of snow in this picture. Y’see, the week leading into my commercial shoot was very warm, so any snow that had been made to shoot the commercial had melted to the point where it wasn’t usable. Sure, it was cold on the day of shooting, but this place didn’t have the capability to make a skiable ribbon of show in our short window for shooting.

Fear not! ACNE had a plan: they would make “Hollywood snow” using cotton batting and spray foam to coat the lawn and sills of the ski lodge. It wasn’t perfect, but as it would only appear in the background of the shot, it wasn’t a huge deal.

Hollywood snow

And we had some “snowflakes” flying in the air, as well. These were created using dish soap suds blown by a powerful fan. The soap tasted nasty (I managed to get a few gobs of foam in my mouth), but it was convincing enough on camera.

We had to wrap shooting by 4:30pm, both due to SAG-AFTRA rules and the rapidly setting sun. The crew let out a big exhale, and everybody thanked each other for a hard day’s work well done. I managed to spy some initial edits taking place on a MacBook Pro in the ski lodge, which was very cool.

Editing in the ski lodge

The entire commercial was shot on compact, high-resolution digital cameras, so hard drives were sent via courier to editing studios. One of these couriers shuttled me back to downtown for a quick shower at The Public, after which I high-tailed it to O’Hare to catch my flight back to DC.

At the airport, I enjoyed a most welcome beer as I decompressed.

Beer and 737-800

I was back at work on Friday, having taken just Thursday as a non-specific personal day off.

The next questions were: who do I tell that I’ve done this, and when will the ad air on TV?

I decided to tell only a few people. Other than sprite, only 4 others knew of my adventure. I tried to stay mum on social media during the trip, using a “#blackops” hashtag on any tweets, Facebook posts, or FourSquare check-ins.

The ad first aired in the New England area during the pre-game show for the Super Bowl. I know this because Sam called me after it first aired, asking how he didn’t know about this, how did I get into this ad, and so forth. At the time, I was at National Rehabilitation Hospital, still recovering from the #projectfemur surgery, and I hadn’t yet seen any edit of the ad. Sam sent me a quickly-recorded video of the first airing, and I laughed a bit.

Mostly, though, the ad aired during prime-time coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics. It aired twice per broadcast, every night of the games. Many more friends saw the ad, after which they would email, call, or tweet me that they had seen it and were shocked.

That was my goal in not telling: surprise, pure and simple.

“So,” you ask, “where’s the bloody ad?!?”

Well, here it is! This is the 30-second version that didn’t air on TV. The 15-second version is just a shorter version, with only the voiceover of me reading the tweet.

Dunkin’ Donuts “Rudi’s #mydunkin Iced Coffee Story” from Danny Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Did I enjoy this experience? Oh yes. Would I do it again? You bet!

So it goes to show that social media can connect people in rather sweet ways.

P.S. – for the curious, my typical Dunkin coffee is a medium or large Dunkin Turbo (i.e. red eye) hot, with a little cream and sugar. And yes, I still get hot coffee in the summertime.

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.

ten on tuesday: a case of the “i feels” (#projectfemur)

Per Carole’s typical prompt, here’s a Ten on Tuesday. The topic: ten statements or sentiments that start with “I feel…”

  1. I feel a lot better than I did last week (thank you, doctors, for clearing my pulmonary embolisms).
  2. I feel better now that I’m cooking again.
  3. I feel like my GI tract still isn’t completely over the post-hospital antibiotics (what, TMI?).
  4. I feel like there’s another big breakthrough about to come about in my #projectfemur recovery.
  5. I feel a bit stir-crazy because of that previous statement.
  6. I feel like I may finally upgrade my high-speed Internet connection to The Burrow.
  7. I feel like that also may be accompanied by a computer upgrade (my newest non-iPhone computer is at least 6 years old).
  8. I feel better now that my lower right leg isn’t swollen like a sausage.
  9. I feel like my orthopedist may finally allow me to bear weight on my right leg (crossing fingers).
  10. I feel like shaking things up a bit.

So… there ‘ya go! Got any “I feels?” Leave ’em in the comments.

#projectfemur update:

Really, things have gone well since the bilateral pulmonary embolism incident. I’m down to just the anti-coagulant and an occasional over-the-counter pain killer (usually when the weather is in flux – my right leg is my new weathervane). My in-home physical therapy is going well, and I’m out-and-about in the neighborhood when the sidewalk conditions permit.

(That said: this is probably the first winter where I’m wishing for “aesthetic snow” only, where the sidewalks remain clear and dry. Mark this occasion, as I’m usually an unabashed snow lover.)

home again (#projectfemur)

I returned home from GW Hospital on Saturday afternoon. It’s great to be home.

I’m a little weaker than I was going in, as my lungs took a beating from the embolisms. Yawns and sneezes are still works-in-progress: they are not as full-bodied as they should be. I’m on an anti-coagulant (Xarelto) and two powerful antibiotics (thankfully, not for too long, as they are beating up my GI tract, killing both the beneficial flora as well as the nasty stuff).

My PT is a little behind schedule now, which is to be expected – plenty of time to make up for the lost days. My right foot and ankle are still prone to swelling, though that’s improving little-by-little every day (I think some T.E.D. Hose are in order to try and keep the swelling at bay). The flexibility in my right leg is improving as the swelling subsides.

So all-in-all, I’m getting better. 🙂

a speed bump (#projectfemur)

I was released from National Rehabilitation Hospital on Tuesday, Feb 4. All good.

Then early Tuesday morning, I had a bilateral pulmonary embolism. What I initially thought was muscle cramping rapidly developed into crushing pain on my right side and the inability to take a deep breath. By 4:30am, I could barely breathe.

sprite rushed me to the GW Hospital ER, where my guess at diagnosis was confirmed, and I was admitted. I ended up being in the ER for 14.5 hours (no beds), had a litany of tests (CT scan, X-ray, ultrasounds of legs, lungs and heart), was put on big doses of Lovenox (a blood anti-coagulant), and tried to keep the pain in check (morphine was gooood). My pulmonologist told me I had PEs in both lungs, and that I was lucky I caught ’em when I did.

I eventually got a room, and after eating my dinner (a sandwich provided by my friend, Greg), the pain presented with a bang on my left side. I couldn’t breathe, and I was in extreme pain, even with oxycodone in my system.

Overnight, I was put on Dilaudid (worked great) and later Tramadol (useless), and I got some sleep (sitting up – reclining hurts). Today, my pulmonologist has me on a PCA Dilaudid drip (i.e. the “happy button,” where I have some control over the dosing), as well as antibiotics as I seem to be battling pneumonia. It was a better day.

And today, I’ve made the transition from the IV Dilaudid to a Dilaudid pill – all good. I also got to take a sponge bath – ahhhh….

I’ll be here for a few more days. Once out, I’ll be on an oral anti-coagulant for a while.

Lessons learned:

1. My apartment is bad for ambulation, which likely caused the PE (not enough walking/standing activity). Once I get home, I’ll need to stand and boogie a lot, and get outside when I can. The recent snow in DC doesn’t help, but it’ll get warm soon enough..

2. My physical therapy has given me great strength in my legs, arms, and core (about 3 weeks ahead of an average person with the same injury, per my PT evaluation here at GW).

3. My endurance and overall conditioning likely saved my life. Even with the PE, I still had a pulse-ox of 96, normal blood pressure, and full heart function. Even when I had my issues late last night, I only dropped to 93 (still within the “normal” range).

So that’s where I am. NRH got me working on strength and crutching skills, and I did really well. My hemoglobin levels are good again. But the mistake was my not being active enough at home: the PT alone didn’t cut it.

So… there ‘ya go! Just a speed bump – albeit one that could’ve been lethal. I’m glad I knew of the risk and was familiar with the symptoms.

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