Let’s see, my season ended with Longhorn Austin 70.3 and from there, we went to Hawaii. I did some fun media stuff for Fuelbelt and Saucony and PowerBar and then, on race day, I teamed up with Graham Fraser and we did the on course race commentary for the Canadian TSN televised version of the race. It was quite exciting to be able to watch the action and yes, I did wish that I was out there racing!!
From there, we entered ‘real life’. Dave had a badly herniated disc since July that required surgery. The Canadian health care system is quite overworked and slow and despite getting rushed along thanks to many of my sport doctors, we had to wait quite a few months to get in to see a surgeon (meanwhile, our original referring surgeon hadn’t even called us back to make an appointment 4 months after the request). In the meantime, in Austin, we met the neurosurgeon who had fixed Simon Lessing’s back a few years ago. Dr. Villavicencio (Dr. V. for short) wanted Dave to send his MRI to him for his assessment. Dr. V. concluded that Dave needed surgery immediately because the disc was sitting right on the nerve and would cause further and more permanent damage if this surgery wasn’t done as soon as possible. Dr. V. gave us this diagnosis on November 3rd. By chance, we got in to see the Canadian surgeon on Nov. 4th. He concluded that the problem would rectify within the year and that Dave should just live with the pain and his numb leg until it came right. Needless to say we were confused because, heck, we would have loved to have avoided surgery! Thankfully, we have lots of great minds within our reach. My physiotherapist, Steve Hill, and my ART doctor, Mark Scapaticci, both recommended surgery 100%! So off we went to Boulder, Colorado on November 15th in search of good back health and the return of Dave’s smile and active lifestyle!!
The trip was amazing – well, as amazing as a trip can be when you have to have surgery. If you are going to be afraid, you might as well be afraid in a gorgeous place like Boulder! We arrived on Friday and Dave had his surgical assessment and signed the paperwork. He was in agony after a full day of flying and the stress of the whole thing. Whenever he was nervous about the surgery, I would remind him about the pain he was in on that Friday! By Saturday, we were enjoying the sunshine and I was enjoying the great running trails! On Sunday, I went to the famous master’s swim workout at Flatirons outdoor pool. I went with Dr. V. – he is, after all, a triathlete and was doing one of his final swim workouts before racing at Ironman Arizona the following weekend. How cool is that?
I loved the workout – not so much for the swimming – which I loved – but I loved the group dynamic. The pool was packed – at least 5 athletes per lane – maybe more. The neat thing was that when the session was over, many of the athletes picked up their children from the child care at the pool and brought them into the indoor pool and hot tub for some family time. It was so beautiful to see how sport was so well integrated into their whole lives. Boulder is truly a sport lifestyle community! Yes, I could live there!
The Minimally Invasive Surgical Institute was amazing. The staff was brilliant. Dave did great – he was scared out of his mind – but he was a trooper! Once he had the “I don’t care” drugs, he was just fine. One hour later, he was done and he was awake. The disc had adhered to the nerve and it took Dr. V. a lot longer than normal to finish the procedure. But it was all a success!
By 5 p.m., Dave walked out of the surgical center and he was snug as a bug at our rental house shortly thereafter! We were so impressed with the professionalism of everyone – Dr. V., Malcolm, the anesthesiologist, Bob Cranny the local physical therapist and the surgical center all phoned to see how Dave was doing.
We stayed for the week in Boulder so that Dave could recover from the surgery. I enjoyed some beautiful runs and swim and one short bike ride. My focus was on taking care of Dave, although he will still tell you that I left him too much. The running was amazing and I would have run every day if I could have!! I did have a Retul bike fit while I was there. On Thursday, I was fit by Curtis Cramblett – he was amazing because not only is he a competitive cyclist but he is also a physical therapist. So he gave me a full biomechanical assessment – you know, the usual – tight hamstrings, tight hip flexors, tight everything – and then he suggested exercises to help these which would then help my bike position. He then assessed my bike position and set out a plan to raise my seat and lower my handlebars so that I could achieve maximum power and aerodynamics within the scope of my current but improving biomechanics! He gave me gradual suggestions for these changes based on how diligent I would be with my stretching and strengthening!!! He lives in San Francisco but was in town to help with the bike fit of the Garmin – Chipotle team. How lucky was I to have been fit by him!
By Friday, Dave felt fantastic – relatively speaking. He was now up for a full 30 minutes of walking. I will never forget when we strolled down the famed Pearl St. and Dave said that he could not remember the last time he could walk without pain. On that Friday, Dave was not in pain!
A huge thank you to Dr. V. and his crew for taking extra special care of both of us all week. By the way, Dr. V. raced to a sub 10 hour Ironman Arizona on that Sunday after the surgery!
Next challenge – recovering enough for our trip to New York City on November 28th!