A year ago, my back injuries and chronic pain got so bad I had to retire from nursing as my career. After spending more than 20 years helping people, I was through, and I didn't know what to do! My old boss went to bat for me with the hospital, and the HR people called me with an offer: "You can go to the Home Telehealth team and work as their PSA (program support assistant), or we will have to terminate your employment as we have no other positions to offer you." Of course, I took the offer. So on top of the stress and depression related to the chronic pain, I had the depression of losing my career, and the stress of going into a new job I was not trained for.

I took the cosmic dice and rolled... and for once, I didn't crap out! My new boss was a wonderful person who hired me knowing I was going to have a higher-than-average use of sick time and doctors visits, and she was completely supportive. Luckily for me, I'm a very computer-literate person, so training as a PSA was a piece of cake, and I have found I actually enjoy the job (most of the time).

So with the back in bad shape, I kept training, and completed the "Front Runner Metric Century" with my wife - a 100Km organized ride. Then in May, came the "Salt Lake Century"... and the day before - I was injured. I was running to catch my train, when I felt something pull and tear in an old surgical site in my groin. I had torn my old hernia repair. Yeah, I didn't end up riding the SLCentury, and I ended up having surgery to re-repair the hernia - which led to several weeks off of the bike.

Finally I started feeling a bit better and started riding a little again as LeAnn and I had another big ride coming up - the "Tour de Donut" in early July. We were riding a tandem bicycle (bicycle built for two) in the tandem division.

We made it to race day (with far less training than I'd hoped), and we were off! We ended up coming in second in our division! Yeah!

Then, about a week later, I had pain in my left Achilles tendon and in the inner area of the ankle. After some therapy and multiple visits with the podiatrist, it was official... I was set for my second major surgery this year! Stinking 2013!

The surgeon went in and cut the ligament that goes from the medial malleolus (ankle bone on the inside of the ankle) to the heel which was constricting blood flow to the nerves in the bottom of my foot and toes, as well as causing pain in the ankle.

The surgery was a success, but through the time to heal and therapy, I was off of my bike from late July until one week ago - mid Feb 2014. Almost 7 months!

Being back on my bike, and working my way back up to being active has really helped my mood, and I'm back on track in trying to lose weight and be healthy.


In April, LeAnn and I managed to ride a metric century (100km or 62 miles). Just after the first rest stop - about 20 miles in - LeAnn looked over at me and said "I haven't got another 20 in me". We talked as we rode, and she decided she would ride back to the train, and meet me at the end in Ogden.

She turned back, and I looked ahead and saw a group of riders, so I poured it on to catch them and ride with the pack. It took me a little over 10 miles to reel them in, and then shortly after I dropped them because they were going too slow for me.

I got to the next rest stop, refilled my bottles, ate a banana and was back on the road. I rode alone, occasionally being passed and occasionally passing and doing pretty well for riding by myself. When I was about 10 miles from the end, I started to cramp in my right quad. I slowed my roll, and tried to work it out. with about 5 or 6 miles to go, the cramp got so bad I had to stop. I got off my ride, and started working out the cramps - now in both quads and both calves.

After a few minutes, I was back on the bike and pushing toward the end. With about 3 miles to go, I picked up a screw in my rear tire. I heard it clicking on the ground, and quickly stopped. Luckily for me, it hadn't punctured all the way into my tube, so I was able to remove it and roll on.

I rode the last miles in, fighting cramps all the way, but I finished!

Then I looked for LeAnn, and couldn't find her! At that point, I realized I had her phone in my bags. I couldn't even call her! Wondering what happened, I pulled out my phone to call her brother Jeff, who was also on this ride, and saw I had a text message from a guy LeAnn and I had ridden together with in the first 20 miles. It said "... your wife is at the second rest stop and you have her phone".

At the second rest stop? How? She turned back. Didn't she?

About 10 - 15 minutes later, here comes LeAnn, rolling in under her own power across the finish line. I came to find out that when she was only a couple of blocks into her return to the train, she realized that I had her wallet and phone, so she turned around again and tried to catch me... and never saw me again until the finish. She came across the guy we had ridden with, and she told him what had happened. This wonderful man offered to ride with LeAnn for the rest of the ride so they could help each other out, and helped her finish on her own.

Fun, huh?

So now, we're getting ready for the Salt Lake Century - 100 miles from Salt Lake to Antelope Island and back. It's Friday, May 17th, and we need to check in and get our race packets. LeAnn and I were going to meet at the Galivan Center and check in together. As I left work, I saw the train was coming into the station - about 5 minutes early. I took off at a dead sprint to catch the train, and I felt a tearing sensation in my lower abdomen where I'd had a hernia repaired in 1991.

I made the train, and got to the Galivan Center... no LeAnn. I called her work phone... no answer. I called her cell... the same. I waited about 10 minutes and repeated the calls... no answer. Finally I left a message that I would go to packet pick-up and wait in line. I got us both checked in, and finally LeAnn returned my call. She had forgotten and lost track of time.

When she finally got there, we went to dinner, but I was having increasing pain in my abdomen. I finally agreed that I needed to be seen, and we went to LDS hospital. 5 hours and one CT scan later, I was referred to a surgeon to repair my newly ripped hernia.

Dr. Jackson checked me out Wednesday, and I'm up for surgery next Thursday, May 30th.

Oh, what fun. I missed a ride I had paid for, and now I get surgery. I just love my life sometimes.

(stock photo of a thoracic x-ray)
I have been suffering for several weeks with severe back pain. It seemed that one of my vertebrae had shifted, and was trying to push it's way out of my back from just below my shoulder blades.  I couldn't eat well, I kept being woken from sleep with pain so severe it was hard to breathe.

Dr Allen took some x-rays and said she couldn't see what the problem was, so she sent me to see Dr Faizel Zaman, a back pain specialist.

I had an MRI series of my entire spine, which showed degenerative bone disease in my spine, especially bad in the thoracic region (T4-6). This area has poor prognosis when it comes to spinal surgery - the outcomes are most often worse than the disease itself - so it was determined that I would recieve a series of steroid shots in the epidural space of the spine.

On June 14, 2012, I went in for this procedure. I lay on my stomach on the table, and Dr Zaman and his nurse prepped me by cleaning my back with betadine and alcohol.  Then, using fluroscopy (an x-ray procedure in real-time on a screen), they inserted two needles along side both sides of my spine just below the affected area and into the epidural space.  This hurt. A lot.

Then, they injected the medicine.  This hurt more.

After the procedure, I was taken back to a waiting room with LeAnn to sit for a few minutes to make sure I didn't have any adverse reactions to the medication.

After about 10 minutes, the nurse, Kathy, came in to check on me. I told her I felt fine. I wasn't dizzy or nauseous. Kathy said I was free to go, so I stood up - and nearly went straight to the floor!  My legs felt heavy as lead, and as wobbly as jello!  Kathy just smiled and said "oh, that sometimes happens".  Thanks a lot! I sure appreciate the heads-up.

The next morning, the pain in my back was diminished to the point of where I could barely notice it. On a scale of 0-10, I'd say it was down to a 2 from the 7-9 I had been feeling for weeks.  Nice!

Unfortunately, the effects of the injections wore off after only about 22 hours, leaving me with the severe pain again as well as feeling as though I'd been punched in the kidneys where the injections were administered.

I called Dr Zaman's office, and Kathy told me that the first set of injections just "prime" the body, and the second set - administered after 2 weeks - does a much more lasting job.

I sure hope so!

On our way home from Park City last night, my cast-mates from Poison Ivy Mysteries show "Club Mystique" and I were headding across the valley on I-215. Suddenly, the car to our left changes lanes into us, forcing Jim to quickly react and swerve off of the freeway onto the shoulder (and, thankfully, right back on to the road).

I was sitting in the back seat when this happened - just talking, and not paying a whole lot of attention to the other cars - and as a result my head whipped side to side and I smacked my head on the door frame. Today, my neck and back are killing me, and I have the headache from hell. You just gotta love whiplash.

We were all really lucky that Jim acted so quickly and didn't lose control of the vehicle!  I'm just wondering if anyone else is as sore as I am today.

-Papa Bear
I'm feeling a lot better since my surgery a month and a half ago. The constant pain is gone, and I'm back riding my bike! I'm still not back to my old 30-50 miles a day yet, but I'm putting in about 50 a week.

I'm hoping to get fully back into shape before Thanksgiving. I still plan on making my annual ride to American Fork before Thanksgiving dinner, and I'm hoping LeAnn will join me! 

LeAnn and I have started a new cycling club called "Missing Link Cycling", and I'm hoping to get a few local riders to join us on some weekend rides.