A Year of Living Dangerously - Rise Again! - CycleBlaze

August 25, 2018

A Year of Living Dangerously

Back in the Spring of 2017 Dodie already knew that the cartilage in her knees was almost gone. Especially in the left, this meant almost continual pain.  She started to walk with a limp, and she went out to buy two canes, though these now take the form of high tech Nordic walking sticks.  The doctors could see the xrays, but in Canada knee surgery is "elective". That is, they will work on it - but no rush. In our region that meant at least a year on a waiting list.

Dodie's reaction to this was - to get on with cycling! This is not actually as brave as it might seem, because cycling is not really too stressful for the knees. In fact Dodie reported that the only time she really felt mobile and free was on her bike.

The first trip we launched was carefully called "Grampies Go On Their Knees". The title was first a nod to those weak knees, which would be asked to propel Dodie for thousands of kms. The second bit was that our destination was the pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostella. Pilgrims (though not us!) may spend a lot of time praying.

In the end we went over 4000 kms. With the steep hills in northwest Spain, Dodie actually walked a significant part of that, pushing her loaded bike. But she did not stand out that much as a crippled pilgrim - lots of people on the trail had knee and foot problems, and at Lourdes were many in far worse shape.

There was a certain cachet in being a "cripple". For example, we stayed a small part of the time in religious refuges. At one of these near Arles, 1500 km from Santiago, the devout lady who ran the refuge saw Dodie hobbling on  the two canes. She gasped, crossed herself, and exclaimed "Mon Dieu!".

With two canes, Dodie ascends to Lourdes basilica.
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But Dodie made it to Santiago and back to Paris. By then the pain was such that she felt something had to be done, immediately! One option was to abandon our principles about equal health care, take $US 30,000 from the piggy bank and get the thing fixed in the States in two weeks. The pain was enough that we would have done it, too, and the $30,000 was a special bargain rate - good deal! The only thing was that for the bargain rate you only got the basic install. Any problems or complications?  Tough!

We are nervous enough about getting a cold when in the tender clutches of the US health system, let alone an uninsurable embolism, infection, or other fun eventuality! The decision was to suffer on.

But again, Dodie would not just sit still and wait. Instead we launched four, yes four more trips: two with the grand kids, one Amsterdam to Paris, and one spin around the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. You would have to think that these Grampies were just asking for trouble. And in fact, near Amsterdam  the slow moving Dodie got nailed by a speeding car. Well, that took her mind off the knee for a while! (And of course, how else would we get this current great blog about rebuilding her wrecked bike!)

Back in Canada, injections of Cortisone in the right and Synvisc in the left knee seemed to help a lot. Any possibility of surgery was still months away, so what did we do? Buzzed off to France! We set a modest objective - circle the whole place on the outer perimeter. We started in Netherlands, to add a bit of challenge!

6,000 km and three months later we were back in Amsterdam.  800 km earlier, Dodie had walked up Mont St Michel, which is all stairs and alleys, no bikes allowed. That was not such a great move. Her right knee in particular had been really feeling it.

On June 24, the day of our flight home, the chickens came home to roost. Th cartilage hit zero and it was bone on bone. Dodie could no longer practically bend the knee!

We were sitting in a section of the plane with three seats across. The lady in the third seat sweetly sought out another spot, and that allowed Dodie's knee to be held straight. That way, and with wheelchairs and those electric airport vehicles we made it home!

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