July & August digest

It’s been a pretty good year for me riding-wise.

My left ankle had been in a terrible condition since 2014, but surgeries and rehab seem to have finally started to pay off. Though I’ve been riding bits of street as well as some downhill races in the past five years, those riding days were never complete without tons of taping around the ankle beforehand and crippling pain afterwards. Besides, the pain was a close friend of mine in everyday life that never left me alone on short walking trips to the local supermarket.

That was then and this is now. I’ve recently been spending more time at dirt trails than ever before. And I’m healthy enough to press the clutch pedal on the way home.

(Photo: Hitoshi Watanabe)

However, there is this annual bill you have to pay. This time, it was a metatarsal bone, broken in a stupid daily life accident.

Luckily there was no misalignment where it was broken, so the doctor just taped two toes together to stabilize the part. This was great, as I could just use some masking tape lying around and change it daily. No pain, no discomfort, and no downtime.

Above photo of me jumping was shot about three weeks after the injury, when I was about to forget it. Now at eight weeks, there is no issue whatsoever and I’m soon to completely forget about it.

I realized recently that I don’t tend to remember small injuries in the past. I have a favorable take on that phenomenon, that the brain holds periodic cache cleanup campaigns so as to use its gigabytes for new, fun things instead of the old and painful.

There are several other stories to tell about how I’m relearning pump track riding and dirt trail digging, but let’s save them for later opportunities for now. Anyhow, I hope this summer has also been a fun one for y’all.

Early solo Halloween over now

Last month was a quite turbulent one, as I started celebrating Halloween exactly half a year earlier than everybody else.

Though it happened while I was riding my bike, there was no serious stunt riding involved but just getting from point A to point B. How shameful. I’m really glad I came out rather fine, thanks to the kind passer-by, benevolent policemen, and truly professional ambulance peeps and hospital staff, despite the scratches, cuts, and a fractured skull that I suffered.

So that’s how my birth month started, to be followed by my driver’s license renewal this year. As they say Japanese driver’s licenses make you look two steps scarier under normal circumstances, all I figured I should do was wait till last minute.

And I finally got it taken care of last week, two days prior to the renewal deadline.

Pretty much back to this world. Good.

To those who have worried for me and those that helped me out, I just can’t thank you enough. I’m doing great now and back in the creation of weird stuff as usual, and I couldn’t have made it without you.

Day 100!

It’s been 100 days since the surgery on my ankle. My doctor says I can now jog for rehab, but my foot doesn’t think so. If things don’t improve or get worse down the road I’ll be another case of foot joint pexis, so I feel like hibernating and taking it slow and easy for now. In retrospect I could at least ride at a certain level during the three years of foot-wise darkness, so things should be good in a little while now that I have 2 more ligaments.

I never touched the bike since surgery, but now it seems like an easier thing to do than jogging anyway so I went out riding today, to a post office and a hardware store in the vicinity.

Which reminded me, bike riding is an awesome thing. Good in snow and somehow makes passers-by happy and excited too.

This is probably going to be the last update this year, so let us wish you all the happiest of holidays!

Down time before the storm

Our website was down a while ago due to a problem with the web server. Sorry about that.

On the other hand, my left ankle seems to be recovering without major problems in the two months after the surgery. My doctor was pretty psyched (and even said he was scared) that the progress was nothing short of ideal, in his own funny and casual way. He is referred to as one of the highest acclaimed in his field and so on, but is also a real frank guy. Golden combo right there.

Fair recovery doesn’t mean fast, though, as it involves multiple ligament reconstruction, bone extension, and anticipation of recovery of the necrosis in talus. I’ve been off crutches for a while now, but I’m still wearing a custom-fit plastic below-knee brace. I’m usually pretty good at adhering to doctor’s orders like that even if there are some inconveniences.

Probably the most inconvenient thing is that I can’t wear regular shoes. After I got out of the hospital, I was using a shoe cover over the brace at first, a trick I learned from another patient this time. It’s way cheaper than those covers your brace guys can supply, but was not ideal for extended outdoor use including driving, walking in rain or into puddles, etc.

That’s when I spotted a fake Crocs sandal I had bought for 250 yen. Even cheaper than the shoe cover hack. So I employed it when the brace was trimmed down a bit a month after surgery. I heated it with a heat gun and put my foot in, and re-forming worked perfect like that. Very comfortable, but I never knew that perfect fit wouldn’t last forever.

Snow is piling up as I’m writing this. What should I do…

The short-term solution is simple; I can stay inside until the snow melts. But it will start to stay on the ground in a month or so, thus I’ll need to figure something out if I’m wearing the brace at that point still. I’m seeing the doctor next week, so we’ll see.

Also I’ve been meaning to fix the roof before the winter comes, but I’ll just have to come up with the best temporary fix depending on my progress in the coming month. When your condition is not perfect, the perfect solution is not to haste.

Stay safe, everyone!

Left foot overhauled

Autumn is everywhere, in deep forests, supermarkets, and cozy hospital rooms.

Typically mid August to September is the time to get hospitalized for me for some unknown reason, and it happened this year again, for about 10th time or so and after two years since the last. I walked in mid September, stayed three weeks, and hobbled out on crutches last week.

Just like the last time it’s not for any fresh injury but to treat an old, lingering one. There was this new hope to fix my left foot that’s basically been in an unwalkable condition since the injury three year ago, so I just went all in for the new plan.

Previously the doctor said the main issue was necrosis in the talus bone and there was no easy rectification, but this other doctor I saw this time shed a different light on it. He instantly saw I had flexible joints, then proceeded to point out a few ligaments were missing and the joint was very loose, which he said could be fixed by ligament reconstruction and fibular osteotomy to make the joint tighter. It all happened during this one visit at the end of August along with normal x-ray, stress x-ray, and reservation for hospitalization. Light speed.

As for ligaments, I had long sensed the absence of the anterior talofibular ligament on the outside, but never suspected the triangular ligament on the inside to have failed since the seemingly successful reconstruction many years ago. I’ve always been pretty flexible, like flexible enough to do leg splits, which can contribute to severe looseness when damages like torn ligaments and crushed cartilages pile up in the joint. They say “flexibility helps keep injuries away” (at least in Japan) but you just can’t seem to construe it as “the more flexible, the less injury.” Too bad I didn’t know.

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