The surgery was a success. Yesterday morning I was admitted to Enloe Hospital to have the hardware removed from my left knee. I went into the OR around one o’clock and was released by six in the evening.
This being my last (please, oh please) bout of knee surgery, I opted to remain conscious during the operation. So instead of being administered a general anesthetic that would put me to sleep, I was given spinal anesthesia that completely numbed and paralyzed me from the waste down. The main nurse in the OR thought my reactions to the anesthesia and my desire to witness my operation was entertaining, but for me it was a really strange and interesting experience. I actually found the paralysis to be more fascinating than the surgery, and tried my best to explore it while I could.
The process of removing my legs began by rolling me onto my left. A small shot of local anesthetic numbed an area about six inches above my hips and allowed them to surreptitiously insert a much larger needle between my vertebrae and into my spinal cord. The anesthetic that was then injected is heavier than the cerebral spinal fluid into which it was injected, and so by having me lay on my left side it affected the nerves leading to and from my left side the most.
The effect I felt was a light pressure on my lower back, as if someone was pressing their hand against me somewhat firmly. Almost immediately after the toes on my left foot began to tingle with pins and needles as if they had gone to sleep. This sensation started spreading simultaneously up from my toes and down from my hip. Motor control for my left leg was gone before I knew it, and I could barely feel them moving my leg into position, aside from a light pins and needle sensation that remained for a few moments longer at the tip of my toes.
My right leg lasted a short while longer before becoming disconnected from my brain. I asked the anesthesiologist to explain what was happening to the nerves in my back and he explained that as the transmission between nerve cells in my back was blocked, I was losing feeling, motor control, and finally temperature sensations.
The transplant was a success. Last night was the first I spent sleeping in my new apartment, which has thus far proven to be un-haunted.
After work yesterday Brad generously spent about an hour helping me move my limited possessions from storage into my vacant single bedroom apartment. I spent the rest of last night re-assembling furniture while trying to decide where everything belongs. I gave up on searching for ultimate bachelor feng shui around one in the morning and went to bed.
Work was wild today. As school resumes Chico’s population swells and all those students need bikes. Today was the kind of day where you promise same-day service to more early customers than you probably should, sweat through the hours as more walk-ins pile up and basic repairs turn into necessary overhauls, and your lunch break is bitten into at both ends by waves of bargain hunting parents. And yet somehow by the time five thirty rolls around everything seems to get done; loose ends are tied, a root beer gets cracked, and the register is very happy. I could go for gold in some kind of bike shop world championship.
I walked home with a bag full of groceries from the co-op across the street. Apparently during my three week homeless interim I’ve forgotten how to shop for groceries. I bought eggs, but have no butter to fry in them nor spices to add flavor. Peanut butter and raspberry jam but no bread to spread it on, pasta and sauce, but I am without pot or colander. In time I’m sure I’ll get my kitchen together, or starve.
Tonight more progress was made toward a pleasing geometry of living space. I want this place to feel like someone lives here, and I guess the only way to achieve that effect is to do it. Following my brother’s advice I’m only unpacking boxes as their contents become necessary, and the rest serve as place holders for imaginary couches, tables, and chairs.
You ought to send me things to decorate these blank walls.
Coming Up Milhouse
Sundays and Tuesdays are my days off from wrenching at the shop, but that doesn’t keep me from waking early. For the past few weeks I’ve been consistently getting up around six or seven and enjoying more of the morning before the air has time to get really hot.
Today I had an early appointment with my orthopedic doctor to confirm that yes, it is time for the pins in my knee to come out, despite what Paula the receptionist thinks. The procedure is scheduled for some time this coming Thursday and it ought to be a much less severe operation than the insertion was.
Then on Friday I get to sign the lease and pick up the keys for my new apartment. After crashing on couches for three weeks it is going to be so nice to have a place of my own. The apartment is technically a single-bedroom cottage, but I’m not sure why. There will be plenty of room for bicycles, and perhaps even a couch for visiting friends.
I’ve been drawing again. Once I’m settled in my new place I’ll set up my scanner and try to share some.
Also, bikey-bike-bikey-bike, Cycloculture has an interview with Grant Peterson of Rivendell Bicycle Works that is very nice. Peterson has been making reasonable and elegant bicycles for years, and his insights into what makes a “high performance” bike, and what allows a bicycle to perform are interesting and, in my opinion, dead on.
Sorry I Said.
Now that the sun has gone down, with a mason jar full of water experiencing all kinds of phase shifts in my hand and a strong wi-fi signal, I feel pretty good.
There was a bit of a kerfuffle at work today. Usually it’s a rather peaceable environment, but today there was some tension over a customer who’s been a really good friend of mine since before I started working at the shop, but who has been ‘blacklisted’ from doing business with us for a few reasons. I’m in the fortunate position of being wedged between my friend and my job, and I try to steer clear of the issue when I can. From my point of view there has been a whole lot of miscommunication between parties who seem to have immutable unfavorable opinions of one another, and there doesn’t seem to be much I can do to ease the situation. This afternoon I was lambasted by a coworker for saying that both sides of the argument were acting like “babies”, I guess the discussion wasn’t as lighthearted as it felt. This sent me into a pretty sour mood for the rest of the afternoon.
From work I’ve got a pretty long walk to the house of the friend I’m staying with while waiting to move into my new apartment. This gives me plenty of time to playback what happened, what went wrong, and how I behaved. Despite completely disagreeing with my coworker’s divisive and argumentative approach to the situation, I found myself apologizing to them for what I said, it being what I felt.
I’m pretty good at getting myself out of bad moods though, and I was in better shape by the time I got home, I was also much sweatier. After a cooling swim in the creek and some rest in the shade things were looking up. What does it matter if I find myself offering apologies every time I face a conflict, or alone in trying to keep things amiable? I’m almost glad to be an apologist for getting along.
Also, as far as good news goes, I got my new bike (in progress, and gloss black), I should be able to move into my new place this weekend (hopefully), I’ve been exercising my bum leg by swimming upstream which feels great, and I’ve made a new muxtape for you to listen to (but the upstream connection here is weak sauce so you’ll just have to wait).
Rapha is a very high-end and expensive brand of cycling apparel. I’m talking $100+ tee-shirts expensive. I first heard about Rapha through their Continental project on display at the 2008 North American Hand-built Bicycle Show. On top of their business of cycling-specific clothing they spread a very thick atmosphere of a specific branch off the bicycle culture tree. It’s the old school, Euro-styled, blood sweat tears, hard-man riding up the mountain of pain kind of cyclist that they are appealing to. Their marketing is very romantic, inspiring, classy, and often quite subtle, but it will always be corporate advertising.
Within this marketing there are quite obviously some things of value. For example, on the Continental site they have a collection of interviews and workshop photographs of eight independent frame builders who built the Rapha Continental team bikes. The builders featured are Ira Ryan, Tony Pereira, Richard Sachs, Chris Igleheart, Chris Bull & Brian Chapman of Circle A Cycles, the previous president of Independent Fabrications Matt Bracken, Jeremy & Jay Sycip of Sycip Bikes, and Stephen Bilenky.
I savor this quote from Richard Sachs’ interview:
What’s it like being a benchmark. Do you think you’ve inspired next-generation builders? The craft is exploding and enjoying such a robust resurgence. What’s that all about, what does it mean for you?
You want be a frame builder? You don’t have a freaking clue. You don’t ride a bike, or if you do, you don’t ride fast. Or a lot. Because if you do, you realize you’ve only made 2 frames. First of all, a bike is a freaking vehicle. And you’re going make one and sell it to somebody and hope that it stays together in traffic, next year, next decade, we’re not talking about macramé or glass blowing here. This is something you put out on the road.
I’m talking about a skill-set and experience, I made a lot of fucking frames to get to where I am. And I made a lot of fucking frames before even thinking about starting my own business. Because in my peer group you had to learn on a line, we didn’t have books or UBI’s. I don’t condemn books or UBI’s but even they would tell you only 2% of graduates make a living. Just because you take a frame-building course and actually make descent frames, it doesn’t mean that you’re capable of running a business.
You can’t be a doctor after taking a surgery crash course or by reading ‘Doctors for Dummies’. These people get some tubes and a jig and they think they’re instantly a frame builder. Well, they’re not. Not until they make 500 frames and show, after a decade or two, that they hold up. Frame building, in a way, is like Latin. Nobody speaks Latin, nobody likes Latin, except for scholars. Except for a few, like Sacha White of Vanilla, I can’t imagine which one of these new guys is going be here in 5 or 10 years.
I have a desire to build bicycle frames which I have filed under ‘Secret Plans’. When riding, fixing, and building bikes one comes to recognize various levels of quality. An inexpensive rear derailleur won’t shift as accurately, won’t adjust as easily, and won’t last as long as one made of better materials or of a more elegant design. The same can be said of frame construction and bicycle assembly, you’re likely to get out of these components and processes what you put into them. I believe I can find immense satisfaction in getting something great out of a bicycle because I put it there myself.
After being told that my new apartment would be ready to move into by this past Friday, then this past monday, I’ve been informed that the previous tenant actually has until the 10th to clear out. They could be out of there sooner, but there is no guarantee. So I wait, gratefully crashing on couches in the meantime.
Sometime this week I’m also supposed to have the two metal pins extracted from my knee, thus freeing me to begin physical therapy. I told the doctor to schedule the removal for sometime this week, assuming the challenge of moving would be past by this point. They haven’t yet called to tell me when the minor operation can be done though, and so I wait impatiently.
I’m also waiting for good things. Yesterday at work I ordered a new bicycle frame, along with some components, to build up a touring/cyclocrosss/randonneuring bike. This will be the first new bike I’ve bought in years, and will allow me to pursue some styles of riding that I’ve been interested in for a while, once I regain the strength and flexibility to safely bend my knee. For those interested, I bought four and a half pounds of Tange Prestige heat-treated butted chrome-molybdenum steel in the form of a Soma Double Cross. The distributor I ordered from normally ships product to the shop in a day or two, and so I anxiously wait.