My Broken Leg – part 1

What Happened

On Saturday July 13th, 2013, 36 hours after returning home from a whirlwind work trip across Texas, I ran in the 5K Foam Fest in Haverhill, MA with my wife and our friend Brendan.  We were Team Squirrel Power, with awesome custom shirts made by Emma and Brendan.  The run was a “fun run” loaded with obstacles including mud pits, bouncy castles, walls to scale, three story slides, electric wire, and more.  The run started on a steep uphill which sucked away all my breath, and left me panting and unable to re-catch my breath.  I made it through several obstacles, and just under half way through the race, when I entered the bouncy castle.  Basically it was a giant inflatable bouncy house you had to run/bounce through.  To enter or exit the bouncy room, there were inflatable ramps letting you transfer from the muddy ground, to the inflated floor three feet higher, and then back down to terra firm when you completed navigating the castle of doom.

When I was heading down the exit ramp, my wet and muddy shoes slipped on the sloped inflated plastic and I fell.  My left foot slid down into the mud and immediately became stuck fast, which meant when my body weight arrived, the foot couldn’t budge, and so my ankle turned, my leg pushed sideways, and everything came apart.

My ankle was dislocated, and my foot was pointing in the wrong direction.  If your normal healthy toes pointing forward are the twelve o’clock position on a clock face, my toes were pointing at around eight o’clock.  I also broke both the fibula and tibia.  The tibia’s end broke off into two pieces.  The fibula enjoyed a combination of two serious breaks.  One was a diagonal break through the bone, with a few fragments coming lose.  The other was a spiral/vertical break splitting the bone in two lengthwise rising up out of the diagonal transverse break.

The Dislocation:

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I was taken to the Lawrence General Hospital Emergency Room in an ambulance.  After some time I was given pain killers and knocked out briefly so the dislocation could be reset.  The doctor apparently did a very good job at re-aligning everything that had been dislocated.  I’m not sure if it was the Propofol they used to knock me out for a few minutes, or the massive pain while I was unconscious, or what, but when I came to again, I was overwhelmed with panic.  I was sobbing and hyper ventilating, but not due to the pain.  I was irrationally afraid and had lost any semblance of emotional control.  The panic slowly ebbed but then came back in waves over and over, more and more slowly each time, each wave bringing with it a fresh bout of tears and hyper ventilating.

The Breaks:

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I was kept over night, then surgery was performed on my leg Sunday morning.  Screws were used to re-attach the two broken off chunks of the tibia.  Two screws were used to secure the spiral/vertical break, joining the two halves of the bone back together.  Then a plate with six screws was used to re-attach the upper and lower parts of the bone to allow the diagonal transverse break to be supported.  While the pain on Saturday was intense, the post-surgery pain on Sunday was far worse.  All of the bone break pain was still there, will major surgery, screws, plates, and massive sutured surgery incisions being added to the mix.

I was finally able to leave the hospital on the following day, after I was able to demonstrate that I could use crutches.

Once home I started off nesting in the living room on the couch.  I stayed there until Thursday, when i moved my post-operative care over to the Lahey Clinic.  Lahey is closer to me than Lawrence, has a stellar reputation, and my primary care physician works at Lahey, so it seemed the thing to do.  They removed the cast/splint, cleaned the leg, evaluated the x-rays and determined that everything looked as good as could be expected.  They put my leg into a red fiberglass cast and sent me home.

I moved upstairs to the bedroom.  The bathroom is closer, the TV is easier to use (I don’t have to shut out daylight with curtains like I do with the projector setup downstairs), the bed allows for slightly more comfort than the couch, and I could finally sleep next to my wife, whom I’d been missing for close to a week.  I haven’t left the bedroom/master bath since.

Shaving – Double Edge Safety Razors

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License by David Robert Wright

 

Aside from a short lived bloody stint using a straight razor 15 years ago, I’ve always been a Gillette multi-blade vibrating light-up twitter-enabled razor kind of guy when it comes to preventing myself being mistaken for a rabid bear.  In a recent effort to look like less of a mess I started researching how to deal with razor burn, a constant issue for me.  My facial fur is thick, grows fast, and I pretty much always had some minor razor burn on my neck (mostly where the hair decides to grow in the opposite direction from it’s facial brethren).  One of the big recommendations was to switch to an old-fashion double edge safety razor (DE).  The thought is that the 5+ blades on the modern Gillettes are overkill and scrape up your skin 5 times as much and hence are more prone to causing razor burn and skin irritation.

Thanks to Amazon a couple of days later I had a Merkum long handled safety razor, a pack of Merkum platinum double edge blades, a nice badger fur brush, a stand for the razor and brush, and a container of Taylor of Old Bond Street sandalwood shaving soap.  It’s been a couple of weeks with the new setup, and I love it.  Here’s why:

The Ritual.  Shaving is no longer something I rush through in the shower, whipping the Gillette across my face as quickly as possible while squinting into a foggy mirror trying to see what I’m doing.  Shaving is a 5 minute exercise, with the goal being quality not speed.  The warm washcloth to re-wet my beard post-toweling off after the shower feels relaxing and luxurious.  Some people use essential oils on their towel for further indigence.  I haven’t tried that yet, but I will.  Wetting the badger fur brush, and using it to whip the shaving soap into a light foam.  The scent of the sandalwood.  The application of the shaving soap to my face, using the badger brush to lift my stubble and apply a full coat of the scented soap.  The warm water heating the razor.  Smooth deliberate shaving strokes.  One per blade side, then another rinse in the warm water.  Repeat as needed.  The feeling of the heavy well manufactured razor, the impossibly sharp blades.  The fact that you don’t put any pressure on the razor, you just let it’s own tiny weight, and the samurai sword-like blades do exactly what they’re designed to do.  Washing off the remainders of the soap with the towel.  Then doing another face wipe with the washcloth, this time soaked in cold water to close the pores and seal everything back up.  It’s 5 minutes spent alone, indulging myself, focusing on myself, using well made tools, to do something so essentially male.  I look forward to it every morning when I wake up.

The Shave.  Once you get the hang of the safety razor, the shave is fantastic.  Close, smooth, no razor burn, clean looking.  The scent of the sandalwood sticks with you.  It’s by far a better shave than what I was getting previously.  If you really want the best possible shave, then do it twice.  Also, figure out which direction your hair grows and make sure you take any directional changes into consideration as you shave.  For me, I have a strip on my neck that grows upward, whereas everywhere else things grown down.

The Cost.  This is just icing on the cake, but you can get extremely high quality blades for $0.25-$0.50 per blade.  That means you can swap blades once or twice a week (depending on your beard’s steel-dulling abilities), getting a great shave and spending much less than you would on the 5 blade cartridges which can easily run over $5 each.

I would recommend the switch to anyone!  Also it’s worth asking your father or grandfather if he has his old safety razor, as many of them are the sort of equipment you could easily pass down through the generations.

Worth Reading:

What Should You Bring To A Track Day?

I’ve been riding motorcycles for 23+ years.  My first bike was a Yamaha RT100 dirt bike when I was 10.  I love the freedom, the sound, the feeling of leaning a bike through a curve, all of it.  I’m lucky enough to live less than an hour and a half from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway (formerly NHIS), which allows me to do track days.  You can read some previous posts about my track days here and here and here and here

I did my first track day of the 2013 season last Monday and wanted to do a quick write-up of what you should bring to a track day.

First of all, each track day organizer/school will have slightly different rules, requirements, schedules, and will provide different things, so read all the info from your track day provider you can.

Here is my list:

  • Motorcycle
  • Trailer + tie downs
  • Painters tape, zip ties, basic tools, oil
  • Helmet (less than 5 years old, full face, DOT and ANSI certified)
  • Full Leather Armored Race Suit (or if you don’t have one :
    • Leather Armored Jacket (which ZIPS INTO..)
    • Leather Armored Pants
  • Gloves (leather, over wrist gauntlet style is recommended, as is armor)
  • Boots (armored riding boots are best.  Leather over ankle boots will work in a pinch)
  • Under layer (highly recommend getting some thin cooling/wicking under layer top and bottom to go under your leathers)
  • Socks (riding boots are pretty tall, so you’ll often want extra long socks and cooling/wicking is good too)
  • Earplugs
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat (for when you’re walking around in the sun)
  • Tire Warmers (you don’t need them when you’re just starting out, but when you start to really dial up the speed you’ll want them!!!)
  • Bike stands (if you’re using tire warmed you need these)
  • Bike trickle charger (if your bike was cold on the trailer all night it may be hesitant to start)
  • Jump box (You’ll be AMAZED at how many people’s bikes wont start, especially early in the season.  Bring a Jump Box and you’ll make a lot of new friends!)
  • Extension cord to plug in your tire warmers and charger
  • Helmet Fan (you can get a cheap small rotating like this fan which you’ll turn facing upward and put your helmet on it with the visor open when you get off the track.  Otherwise your helmet will be sweaty and wet and gross all day)
  • Water
  • Energy drinks/Gatorade/etc… (you need to be REALLY on top of dehydration as it happens quickly when you’re in the sun in full leathers and it impacts your judgement and reaction times first)
  • Power bars
  • Fruit/snacks
  • Advil
  • Gasoline!!! (bring a 5 gallon can of nice fresh gas)
  • Folding Camp Chair
  • GoPro

A note about hydration – some track day schools will provide water, some wont.  Bring your own just in case.  I also like drinks with electrolytes, etc… like Vitamin Waters, Gatorade, etc..  I generally will do a small amount of caffeine (as track days start early) but not a ton (no redbull here).  Most track days will have you spending 15-20 minutes on the track every hour, with the remainder spend un-gearing, learning things in the classroom, and re-gearing up.  My plan is to consume 12-16 oz of fluids during every ~40 minutes that I’m not on the bike.  Also to urinate about once every break as well.  If you’re smaller, you may need less fluids, but if you get to lunch time and you haven’t hit the bathroom more than once since you arrived at 8 AM, then you need to be drinking more.  I also like to eat a small bag of salty chips (not something I usually eat) in order to help retain more water during the day.  Also chips are tasty:)

A note about trailers and tie downs.   You can rent a trailer from U-Haul for about $20/day.  You can even rent a pickup to tow it with for cheap too.  You don’t need to buy a $3,000 trailer for your first track day.  U-Haul even has motorcycle specific trailers with a chock for the front wheel built into the trailer.  You will need 3-4 tie down straps for the bike.  Do NOT get the ones with the built-in ratchets for tightening the straps.  They SEEM like a good idea, but they make it way too easy to over compress your suspension and damage your shocks.  Get the simple ones where you pull to tighten.  You’ll want to two in the front, one on each handle bar, and 1 or 2 in the back to hold the rear of the bike from bouncing all over.  I highly recommend getting a handlebar harness or something similar.  If you load the bike up the night before, leave the ties loose, and tighten them up, with a little bit of suspension compression, before you hit the road.  You’ll worry about the bike the whole ride up, but I’ve NEVER had a bike fall or get damaged in 20+ trailerings.

If you’re just getting into track days, stay calm and go slow.  Don’t worry about how far you’re going, or who’s passing you.  I always forget, but just focus on your line, your body position, being consistent, learning your braking and turn in points, etc…  Do that, and you’ll end up being fast.  If you push yourself to be fast first, you’ll end up slow or crashed or both.  Slow and smooth.  And have fun!

You can download a printable packing checklist here: Track Day Checklist

Triptease

I travel a lot.  For business and pleasure.  Lately I’ve been lucky enough to beta test a just launched site called TripTease, which is a photography and travel review/post site.  Photography leads the way with a single great photo you took.  A short description, and a rating of the location accompany the photo.  It’s a short and visually stunning take on travel reviews.  I’m a fan.

You can see my latest review of a golf course I played on in the Domincan Republic last week here:  http://www.triptease.com/republica-dominicana/hotels/playa-grande-golf-club-rio-san-juan-golfing-in-paradise-10476

If you like travel and photography, definitely check out TripTease.  It’s the 500px of travel blogs and reviews.