Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Joe, Peter, and Salem's Great Adventure

I went mountain biking with 2 friends, Salem and Peter. Salem was a professional mountain biker until 2006. Our adventure was over uneven terrain, in the woods, and, as we saw in the distance we were equally as high in elevation as Old Maids Lane. I’ve made other postings about the hill of Old Maids Lane. The next morning I received emails from both Peter and Salem:

“Joe, I told my wife about the adventure, thinking that she might be upset for subjecting you to such difficulties, but she said that as long as it was fairly safe and slow it was probably good for your experience and confidence. It was admittedly, "a bit much" and obviously was not planned, but you rose to the occasion! - Peter”

“Hi Joe, I enjoyed getting to meet and ride with you, and when I watch you have to work carefully through what I'm sure was once easy, I am impressed by your steady will power and your good attitude through it all. You are taking these challenges with absolute grace, and I'm happy to be along for that ride. Cheers, Salem”

Thanks for the support of my friends. I look forward to many more adventures!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Vacation at Falmouth

We vacationed at Falmouth on the Cape (for 3 full weeks). We stayed at a cottage where we've stayed many times before and it is owned by a relative. The cottage abuts a Salt pond and is @ 1/2 mile from the beach on Martha's Vineyard Sound.

The cottage is set back ~200 yds from the paved road and has a shared unpaved driveway. We brought our mountain bikes on vacation and I frequently rode the unpaved driveway. These were my first real bike rides since my knee was resurfaced. I snapped a few photos to record that bike-ride moment.

There was construction of homes on a neighboring cul-de-sac. I gradually biked up the shared unpaved driveway, then down the neighboring cul-de-sac. Eventually I worked up to solo bike rides to the beach.

We had many vacation guests. My son stayed with us for a week centered around Labor Day. Paul has recently taken up surfing. He is naturally athletic and a proficient skate-boarder. We went to the National Seashore and I sunned on the beach until the tide was best for surfing. We then went back to a surf shop and he rented a board.

One day Paul and I made a longer bike ride to Woods Hole and I snapped these fotos:

We took a day trip to Provincetown with Paul. Here's a few photos:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chris' TBI Research Paper

My nephew, Chris, completed a report on TBI, with particular interviews of (t)his uncle. Mrs. Garcia was Chris’ teacher who graded his research paper. He surely learned how to research a topic and cite a paper.

I sent this email to Chris on the night when he presented me a graded copy of his research paper:

Chris, great job!

I'm proud of you. It's really sobering and upsetting to observe how you perceive my injury effects and its detriments.

Chris’ librarian is the wife of my brother-in-law’s good friend. She guided Chris’ paper topic research. There were a few post-it notes from her that you may not be clear enough to read. She says .......

----> "Chris, I can't believe this! As I was reading this paper I kept thinking Joe's story sounded so familiar. Then I thought, how could this exact thing have happened to two people? When you mentioned Lynn in the paper I had to find you! I am calling Scott tonight to tell them this story
( ;^)) Mrs. Metheny

It has certainly been a long, hard journey for your uncle. He has such a supportive family. Did you let him read your paper?"

Click here to access Chris' full, graded research paper.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I met Trisha Meili at Gaylord Hospital

My mom, my daughter, my wife, my nephew, and I attended the campaign conclusion event at Gaylord Hospital. Trisha Meili, The Central Park Jogger, was the highlighted speaker. Trisha now lives in CT and she is surely the best known Gaylord patient, ever.

Trisha is a fine person with a heart of gold. Trisha and I became better acquainted over the course of the night. We have many similar experiences and we share much of the same history. She has a tremendous passion to see that Gaylord Rehab Hospital receives the recognition that it deserves.

Trisha sincerely wants to stay in touch with me. She remarked that when I have fully recovered from my knee re-surfacing surgery, possibly we can run together. That would be so cool.

My good friend, Robert, did a great job with the event. He paid particular attention to detail, e.g. fresh-cut Peonies flowers, fine Italian dolce, invitations, name tags, etc.

As the night progressed, during a conversation with Trisha, it dawned on us that 6/16/09 was the 3 year anniversary that I left Gaylord as an in-patient. When I discovered this fact I began sobbing.

Before the event Robert had spoken to Trisha about me and Trisha had previously watched “Joe’s Progress” documentary. If we had gotten well acquainted before-hand and if I was in the room when she was formally introduced, I believe that Trisha would have mentioned me by name in her spoken presentation.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Knee Resurfacing (Replacement) Surgery

I was in Manchester Memorial Hospital (MMH) for 4 days. My knee resurfacing surgery was was a great success, but the process is every bit as uncomfortable as I had been warned about. I received a "nerve block" (the block) to avoid general anesthesia and, in fact, my orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Veltri (who is also my friend) told me that it was a successful strategy, permitting him to perform the surgery nearly without anesthesia, which was very positive.

I migrated from Vicodin to Dilaudid for pain. I then weaned to only extra strength Tylenol. By 7/23 I wasn't even taking Tylenol. I learned, the tough way, that RX drugs and a TBI don't go together well. It was a tough battle.

I have experienced some strange effects from meds in my recent past, due to my TBI. I am blessed to have a very conscientious physiatrist, Dr Feingold, who prescribed two pain meds for me to evaluate prior to my surgery. I was fortunate to discover that I almost hallucinated on the weaker med and I dealt better with the stronger. However, not being in severe pain, I couldn’t really judge the pain relief effect of the RX meds.

The effects of the block were quite strange. I virtually had no feeling below the waist in my left leg (where I had the knee resurfacing surgery). I had been advised, by Dr. Dan, to stay ahead of the pain by beginning to take more pain medication when it was offered in an effort to stay ahead of the pain as the block began to wear off. I tried my best to follow his advice but it's not easy to accept pain meds when the block still has its numbing effect. However it was quite significant when the block no longer had its numbing effect.

My friend Lappie spoke with Dr. Dan after the surgery and Dr. Dan remarked that "it's a good thing that I did the surgery when I did it". When Dr. Dan saw the inside of my knee he was surprised that I'd been able to complete any recent bicycling activities. I feel that I am a very fortunate man. Thank you Dr. Dan.

**** 7/3/09 Modification start ****

After my stay at MMH, I transferred to a local rehabilitation facility, Glastonbury Health Care Center in Glastonbury, CT. on Hebron Avenue, for 6 days. The GHCC staff professionally referred to my surgery as knee re-surfacing. I became friendly with director (David Sones) of the facility and I shared my website and the documentary film, "Joe's Progress" with him. David then shared the documentary with his staff.

I enjoyed my stay at GHCC. I was fortunate to have had many nice visits and diversions while I was there. My wife even brought Stella along to visit me for 5 consecutive dinner times. We had picnic dinners of take-out restaurant food. We enjoyed the on-site gazebo and at other outside common areas.

My good friend Al brought me out in a wheel chair and we jokingly did some off-road riding, on some uneven gravel paths. Surprisingly, within 2 days my rehab PT’s brought me on the same paths, first with a walker, then they graduated me to use of only a cane. In fact my PT, Karen, brought me for a cane walk on the same path to evaluate my use of only a cane on uneven surfaces.

I did at-home rehab from 6/5 to 6/12. I watched VCR tapes of the Giro d'Italia, a professional, multi-day bike race in Italy (thanks to my brother-in-law, Dave) while I recovered at home. I can't wait to be back on my bike but I will exercise patience.

I watched all of the VCR tapes of the Giro d’Italia ’09. It was a very exciting Giro. None of the marquee names stood out. Several of the stages were a little too close to my cycling past in Italia of 2004, 2005, and 2006. I frequently bicycled on some of the same roads that were used in the stage on the Amalfi coast and the stage began in Napoli, very close to the U.S. embassy and passed directly in front of our palazzo/apartment. That was too much nostalgia of a wonderful, care-free time in my life that I may never experience again.

**** 7/3/09 Modification end *****

I had an appointment with doc Dan 6/8 and I had the staples removed. Dr. Dan then looked at the remaining bow in my right leg and he cracked “when should we schedule the other knee?”

<-----Here is a photograph of my legs before the surgery : note my left leg before the knee resurfacing surgery. When I have fully healed I intend to duplicate this shot to produce a before and after comparison photograph.
The left knee was the subject of the resurfacing surgery. I have more after-surgery photographs, but they are not for the faint at heart; please request.

Interim Healthcare provided in-home rehab services to me. My Interim Healthcare nurse and PT came nearly every day. They were wonderful and they helped me make rehab progress. I began more rehab with Integrated Physical Therapy at their facility on 6/15.

Here is a photograph of the home-grown Peonie flowers, that were given to me by my neighbor when I returned from the hospital. <-----
Unfortunately, I snapped this photograph when the flowers were past their peak. <-----

I've attached another photograph of a beautiful floral bouquet given to me by a friend. The beautiful bouquet is arranged in a fine glass vase, next to an empty plastic water pitcher. When my friend presented me with the beautiful bouquet, I had quickly placed it in the plastic water pitcher. The wonderful staff at GHCC noticed my bouquet in the plastic water pitcher and they arranged the beautiful bouquet in the fine glass vase, as pictured. Thanks, GHCC.

***** Appended 6/29/09 ******

I now go to outpatient physical therapy with a good friend, Eric. My surgeon and friend, Dr. Dan, and Eric have both confirmed that my body is getting accustomed to my corrected, normal gait and that I may take some time to adjust.

I now have to concentrate on my every step. Over many years, as the arthritis in my knee progressed, I stepped (limped) heel-to-heel and now I'm able to step and roll heel-to-toe, but I must consciously make it a habit to do so. Getting better is hard work.

One must consciously think about taking a step up/down to/from a curb or stairs. At GHCC they taught me the mental trick “the good go to heaven and the bad go to hell", meaning when you’re about to take a step up, lead off with the good or strong foot/leg and when you’re about to take a step down, begin with the bad or weak foot/leg. After many years of walking it became natural to walk. It's difficult to plan every single step.

Similarly, after naturally taking stairs “one foot over the other” but suddenly one must take ½ steps (i.e. first step right foot up, then step left foot up to meet the right), one must consciously think about climbing or descending stairs.

One only makes the mistake of attempting to support the body’s full weight on the bad leg/foot to learn that one should plan-ahead every step.

**** 08/07/09 - Knee surgery conditioning prep. ***

I attended a knee and hip replacement class at Rockville Hospital, put on by ECHN. I was by far the youngest class member. In my ignorant opinion, I was the only participant who was having a joint replaced due to past athletic activities. Many of the class attendees were older people who were physically unconditioned. It’s hard to imagine how difficult this surgery would be for a physically unconditioned patient. I am real happy that I was well conditioned and prepared for my knee resurfacing surgery!! The hospital personnel explained the procedure. I confronted the reality of my surgery. Even before I attended this class I had anticipated my serious surgery. I was already in the midst of a physical conditioning regimen. In preparation for our house-to-condo relocation I had down-sized my weight training equipment. Before we moved I’d given my weight disks, my leg weight bench, my chest and back weight bench, and various weight barbell configurations to my nephew who planned to use many of them to condition for high school athletics (baseball). Many members of my family joked that I merely “Indian-gave” my weight equipment to Chris.
Shortly after we moved into our condo I designated a section of our basement as an exercise area. I installed my triathlon bike onto my Minoura Mag850 bike trainer and I habitually pedaled my bike. I accepted the challenge of improving my physical conditioning quite seriously.

I exercised my legs and built up the muscles by repeatedly riding my bicycle up the hill from Rt17 to the top of our condo community. This hill is ~100 feet in elevation. To begin, I had a drink of water and started my stop-watch, and then I rode to the top of the hill, clicked my stop watch and had a drink of water. Then I descended the hill to the parking lot behind South Mill Tavern (on Rt17) and immediately repeated the hill climb, a minimum of 5 times. My best performance was 8 consecutive hill repeats. I look forward to completing a single hill repeat after my knee resurfacing surgery.

My worst and most common recovery problem was that my leg muscles weren't stable enough to support my weight. Better weight conditioning would have helped to avoid that issue.
One night, I got up to use the bathroom and I fell down and bruised my “sit bones”. My left leg wasn’t strong enough to support me and my 'TBI wobbles' are compounded by the knee surgery.

**** 08/14/09 - Left Quad muscle atrophy ***
I went to see Dr. Dan for a follow-up appointment the other day. Regardless of my pre-surgery conditioning he noted the obvious difference in the quality/strength of my left (surgery affected) and right quadriceps muscles. I am now hitting the leg weight bench press to strengthen that quad muscle. I realize that I have so much further to go until I can (if ever) resume my previous activity!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mountain Biking on the Air Line Trail

My friend Peter Waite and I drove to East Hampton and we mountain biked the Air Line Trail for 2-3 hrs. I was previously a competent mountain biker. I never competed in a mountain bike race but I completed the mountain bike leg in several multi-sport team events. In the past I made some very technical mountain bike rides but the Air Line Trail ride was not, by any means, technical. Yet, while recovering from a TBI, a bike ride like the Air Line Trail was very challenging. I’ll put it into perspective; things that athletically challenge me today would have been a “walk-in-the-park” in my former life. None-the-less, I'm pleased. It's wild rediscovering my old/former life.

Peter snapped some photos. Here they are:

I found a very complete brochure about the Air Line Trail on GOOGLE;

The Air Line Trail is the site of the former Air Line Railroad, built to connect Boston with New York City in the shortest route possible - as if by a “line” drawn through the “air” via the city of New Haven. The Air Line Railroad was a controversial project because of such obstacles as the Connecticut River and countless ridges, along with its exclusion of the capitol city of Hartford.

Nevertheless, by 1873, this railroad was functioning from New Haven to Willimantic. At these points, the Air Line was able to link with other rail lines to connect New York and Boston in the shortest way then possible. The freight and passenger trains utilizing the Air Line became quite numerous. By 1877, Colchester center was linked to the Air Line at Turnerville (now Amston) via the Colchester Railroad. As the weight of freight trains increased over the years, the Air Line’s weight restricting viaducts, numerous curves, and high grades eventually led to its decline.

The Air Line Rail Trail is located in eastern Connecticut, and stretches more than 50 miles from near the Connecticut River to the Massachusetts border. It is divided into two sections. The South Section starts in East Hampton and ends in Willimantic, with the Colchester Spur branching into the center of the town of Colchester. The North Section continues from Willimantic to Thompson, and connects with the Massachusetts Southern New England Trunk Line trail. Portions of the trail are still undeveloped, but under the management of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the local municipalities that the trail passes through, the trail is an important link with the past and preserves open space for the future.

The trail is highlighted by panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Two dramatic viaducts tower 150 feet above the rivers that iron trestle bridges once crossed. New footbridges cross high over the Blackledge and Jeremy Rivers, allowing hikers and bikers to marvel at the expansive views of the scenery below. Scenic views of the Goodwin State Forest and Conservation Center, Beaver Brook State Park, the Hampton reservoir, the Salmon River State Forest, and Grayville Falls Park make the Air Line Rail Trail one of the best greenways in Connecticut.

The surface is stone dust in East Hampton, Colchester, and Hebron. The trail is appropriate for walking, horseback riding, biking, cross country skiing, and mountain biking.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My first (post-TBI) road bike climb up a big nearby hill

On 5/12/2009, I road-biked with my friend Peter Waite. We first went to the CT river ferry, then along the river to where it ends in a cul-de-sac. Then I made my first (post-TBI) road bike climb up Old Maids Lane hill. I carried my digital camera in my fanny-pouch for the bike ride. Here are the photos (thanks to Peter Waite); turning from River road onto Old Maids lane just before the hill climb,

a panoramic view from the top of Old Maids Lane as I began the hill climb,

and a close-up as I approached the top of the hill climb. One can just make out the CT river in the background,

then I triumphantly posed at Naubug school at the top of Old Maids Lane,

and I descended the hill quickly.

There you have it - officially recorded. We returned to the ferry, crossed Rt17, and we pedaled to the very top of our condo hill

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Celebrating a SERIOUS Accomplishment with Al

I joined my good friend Al as he completed a streak of 700 consecutive weeks running at least 3 days a week, AND at least 10 miles a week. On this particular day, 4/23/2009, I merely rode my mountain bike while Al ran along the same roads. He began his streak in October of 1995. 700 weeks may not seem like a remarkable feat, but one must put that accomplishment in perspective. Seven hundred consecutive weeks exceeds 13 years. While 10 miles per week doesn't seem exceptional, there are countless reasons to end such a streak, such as weather, injury, vacation, business trips, etc. Seven hundred consecutive weeks is simply astounding. I also joined Al to celebrate his 100, 500, and 600 week milestones.

Al and I holding his handmade “700” banner
I cherish and value Al as a friend. Al has been my camping buddy since our UConn days. Al has sacrificed his own conditioning to be a part of my recovery. Al credits me with introducing him to many competitive individual sports, such as triathlon. When we were living in Italy, Lynn came to join me at the hospital after my serious accident and Lynn called Al to inform him about my condition. Al dissolved his sorrows while completing a run at Hammonasett State Park, near his home.

Friday, May 8, 2009


On April 19 I was listening to National Public Radio and I was surprised when NPR reported that 4/20/2009 would be both the 20-year anniversary of the Central Park Jogger incident and the 10-year anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado.

I have read the book I Am the Central Park Jogger and the author, Trisha Meili, is an inspiration to me. Trisha will soon be the guest speaker at the Gaylord hospital new wing opening celebration. I hope to have the chance to meet Trisha. I regularly volunteer my time at Gaylord hospital.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Seals Crystal Ball 2009

Here I am nearly ready for the annual Easter Seals Crystal Ball, 2-27-2009.







<------- I'm completely ready for the annual Easter Seals Crystal Ball, 2009.

Easter Seals is a wonderful organization.

Easter Seals was pivotal in rehabilitation of my Traumatic Brain Injury.

Lynn and I attended the annual Crystal Ball for Easter Seals at the Hartford Marriott. I had my personal tux tailored. I looked good (please excuse me while I boast).

The tux jacket didn't need to be altered at all. I had the pant waist let out a bit. I already owned a bow tie so I bought a tux shirt. My appearance paled in comparison to Lynn. Look at her!!!!! Wow!!!

Many years had passed since I had worn my tux. I remember that I previously attempted to have my tux altered at a local men’s store . For many years I had bought my entire wardrobe there. A couple of years ago (after my accident) I was overweight. I was preparing to attend a formal event and I went to the same men's clothes store. The gracious store owner had sympathy and he comped a rental tux to me.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Welcome 2009

On 12/29/08 I drove a standard shift car when my long-time swimming friend, Bob (Mr. C), brought me out to lunch. It had been many years since I last drove a standard transmission car, and I did quite well (yet I did stall once).

Mr. C., has an interesting story related to the New Years date and I extract this from a recent email from him;

Here is the story of friend who provides Will Shortz with list of names new to news during each year. The program on which Shortz gives the quiz is the Sunday morning news on National Pub Radio... on a Sunday near end of year.

Anyway, about fifteen years ago, Will Shortz introduced an end-of-year news quiz in which he listed the names of people of whom most people hadn't heard the previous year. It struck me as being a good way to break the ice with my students upon returning after the Christmas holidays. Then it struck me that the faculty members might also enjoy it, so I ran off enough copies and put it in their mail slots. Pretty soon it grew into a tradition and my colleagues would tell me how much they enjoyed it, were embarrassed by how little they could remember, and looked forward to it every January.

Ten years ago I was all set with my cassette recorder and Will Shortz came up and ... horror of horrors, no people-puzzle, just a stupid game of categories. I went back to school with no quiz, and was almost lynched. I dashed off an SOS to Will Shortz and, bless him, he sent a list that he had been tinkering with but hadn't got round to broadcasting. My colleagues' appetites were satisfied, and we got on with the rest of the school year.

But at the back of my mind, I thought, if he can miss one year, he can miss another, and then where will I be? My solution was to collect names which I thought likely candidates and send them to him every year and see if he liked them. So I did. I waited by the radio late December 1989 and sure enough; the people-puzzle came on, and with it, on-air credit to me for compiling the names. I nearly fell out of bed!

In the last decade, he's only failed to use my list of names once, I suspect, because my email didn't get through. My friends and neighbors, who know I do this, sometimes suggest names for inclusion in the list, though I've usually beaten them to the punch.

So there you have it. A few seconds at a time, I'm gaining my fifteen minutes of fame. It's rather fun, actually.

1/18/09: Marley and Me (movie reviewed)
Last night we went to the theater and saw the movie ‘Marley and Me’. It is a fabulous, emotional movie. I read the book (see within Blog posting, "Comments about our recent move/Acknowledging how far I’ve come"). The movie did not deviate from the book. I cannot understand how this movie received any negative reviews. I have written before that I have difficulty getting emotional as a result of my TBI, yet I sobbed, embarrassing my family colleagues. Marley and me is the story of a Labrador mut, who's "The World's Worst Dog". Marley brings a family together, then ultimately dies. It's especially emotional for a dog owner/lover, that I am.

1/21/09 John (from New Jersey):
I wish I knew your e.m. address to have a discussion with you. I hope that I can give you encouragement and I wish you and your son the best. If you feel comfortable with having an email discussion with me, make another comment to my BLOG with your e.m. address included in it. I will not "publish" your comment, but, simply contact you via email.

John, let me clarify that if you make a comment with your email account in it, your comment will go directly to my email address. I will not publish your comment. Only I will see your email address.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Inauguration Day - Ballot Over the Bullet

A good friend went to D.C. for this truly memorable occasion. He photographed this scene, first-hand.

I volunteered at Gaylord hospital on Inauguration Day, 1/20/09. We watched some of the televised proceedings. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) delivered the following welcome remarks during the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States.

..... “Those who doubt the supremacy of the ballot over the bullet can never diminish the power engendered by nonviolent struggles for justice and equality like the one that made this day possible.” .....

I believe that Dianne Feinstein's comment is a statement of strength in peaceful strategies. I did research on the WWW to acquire her quote, upon which, I was surprised at the widespread public attention directed at Dianne's remark.