Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Injury Recovery - Part 37 : Christmas 2014

Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year.  It is Christmas Eve and I want to wish you a wonderful day and hope the day brings you joy and happiness and above all precious memories.

I thought about a title of "Surviving Christmas" as it has felt a little like that this year.  Recovery comes with its fair share of both pain and emotion, and sometimes the emotions are more frustrating than the pain especially when they hijack you with feelings you just don't want to feel. 

Don't get me wrong when I look at my progress pragmatically I am doing really well.  The last setback has been a challenge as it brought back all the related fears of the injury I had 2 years ago and whilst I have controlled it, it has left me with that nervous feeling, you know the one. It plays at the back of your mind and it takes a force of will to set it aside for fear you might set it off again even though you know you need to train to control it.  Talk about draining.  It turns out it is mentally draining.  More so than I expected.

Add to the injury recovery the need to be jolly, festive and for all things to be wonderful at this time of year and a whole other bundle of pressure gets added.  I have felt that pressure this year in away I have not in the past and I can't say I like it.

Being injured and dealing with someone who is injured takes an enormous amount of effort both physically and emotionally.  The analogy for me is when you are strong you can ride right through a speed bump but when you are tired a speed bump can feel like a mountain.  With the drain of energy and the effort needed to maintain a positive attitude throughout the day sneaky negative feelings and thoughts take root and if you are not careful you find yourself doubting yourself and on a track for self sabotage even though the rational side of you knows differently.

And then there is friends and family.  Like many people who relocate to a different country, our roots are many miles away.  Now don't get me wrong I have learn 't the hard way that family is what you build not what you are given and whilst we are blessed with wonderful friendships there are times when you wish to spend time with people that truly share in your life, the ones you laugh with and cry with, the ones that you spend time with and with whom you have built your new family.   When you are not out doing things and socializing it is sobering to realize somewhere along the way you neglected to build those bonds and for me more than ever this year has been a realization.

Life is a wonderful and precious thing and I need to take the time to find those out there that I can share the ups and downs with.  The effort needs to be more that just Facebook or Linked In but real and in person.  It is community, togetherness and love that should be the focus of the holidays and above all sharing that love with the ones that you love or come to love as family.

It is the realization and the reflection of the flaws in myself that help me deal with those flaws with the endeavor to be the best that I can be and to live my life to the Max every day.

To my loving wife Sarah - Thank you for being my rock and for facing or putting aside your own fears in the pursuit of helping me.  I could not ask or want for more, I love you.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Festive Winter Camp: Leavenworth 2014

It only took us 10 years but this weekend we made it to Leavenworth for the Christmas Holiday lighting.  Last week I decided that pain or not we would go to see the lights and it would be great to camp in Benny, hell sleeping is painful no matter what so it would not make any difference if I was at home or in Benny.  Now Sarah was not at first totally receptive to the idea.  There was concern that Benny being only two wheel drive would not do well, then their was Candy not being comfortable travelling in Benny and lastly the cold.   Fortunately the weather was still mild for the time of year with no snow on the passes well at least no snow on the roads the first concern was easily addressed.  Candy not being comfortable was a tough one but given the short distance of 2.5 hours, Sarah and I felt ok about it.  The cold however was another matter.  We looked at hotel options as an alternative but the decision was made for us.  With no rooms available, if we wanted to go camping in Benny was the only option.  Now this also touched on another worry, we have never slept a night with our van heater on, we have a propex heater designed to vent externally and safe for sleeping.  Even with that in mind since getting it with the van we have been conservative and not used it at night.  Well with temperatures well below freezing at we would have to either wrap up warm or give it a go. 

With all the worries and concerns addressed the decision was made and the site booked.  We opt'ed for the KOA site just outside of Leavenworth as we had stayed there back in April and whilst a long way from our favorite site it is close to town.  Due to prior Foundation Training commitments we headed out from Issaquah on Saturday afternoon for the 2.5 hour drive to Leavenworth.  As we were in Issaquah we decided to take I90 rather than the route we would normally take.  It was plain sailing or rather driving all the way there.  It was not until 4 miles from Leavenworth that we got a sense that we might not be the only ones going.  The traffic was solid all the way to our camp ground turnoff and past into town.

It is always disconcerting when the helpful person behind the desk stares blankly at you when you repeat your name and say you booked up in advance.  It turned out that the helpful booking person had booked us in the day after I called and not for the Saturday night.  Thankfully the helpful person behind the desk was indeed helpful and sorted out the problem and pointed us towards our pitch.

I  don't know what it is this year but we are just not used to the cold and boy was it cold in Leavenworth. I put it down to such a great summer and mild autumn.  It's my story and I'm sticking to it.   We arrived around 2pm and the lighting was not until 4:30, so time for some lunch and a little prep for later.  Around 3:30pm with the heater on full blast and full bellies we decided we should get going or risk missing it all together.  With all our layers on it was time to layer up the girls which included snoods for both of them, I wondered where my snowboarding neck warmers went.

It was about a 20 minute walk into Leavenworth and as we got closer and closer the number of people increased and increased, until we got to the main street.  We honestly was not prepared for how many people had turned up.  We could not get near the band stand so we opted to stay towards one end of town with a few thousand of the closest friends we have never met.  No surprise the dogs got all the attention.  Seriously I wish I could make friends as quickly as Candy and Daisy.  Oh and keeping Daisy from eating various delicious morsels discarded on the ground was a full time job.

Before we knew it the big count down started followed by the oooows and arrrrs as the lights came on.  It was both pretty, festive and bloody cold.   We weaved our way through a few thousand more of our not so closest friends as we took in the sights and Daisy tried to take in anything she could get hold of, which lead to me spending at least some of my time with my fingers down her throat fishing things out.   With the lights on, the sights seen and a brief lamentation that we could no longer eat the not so healthy bratwursts and we did not have friends with us to share the experience we headed back to Benny for a well deserved and healthy dinner. 

One of the things I like most about camping is the evenings.  At home I am an insomniac but after a day of travel, fresh air, cold, fingers down daisy's throat and a good meal I am ready for bed.  After dinner we played boggle and cards at which I was soundly beaten.   At around 9:30 an unheard of time for me I uttered the words "I think I am ready for bed".  To be honest if I had not looked at my watch I would have sworn it was past mid-night.  Talking about past mid-night, it was 1:30am when the red-necks in the site behind us decided to roll back in from town drunk as skunks and all about partying in the field outside our van. 

Upon waking from my slumber, the first words from Sarah's mouth was "don't you go out there".  I have never been one to avoid a hard conversation but even I had to admit that messing with 3 drunk red-necks in a campsite at 1:30am whilst still recovering from my injuries would not be a smart move and could in fact go south very quickly.  So the alternative was to turn my deaf side to the noise and pretend like it was the sea crashing against the shore, which by the way it sounded nothing like.  Whilst I was able to get some semblance of sleep Sarah was on edge all night worried that they might decide to wake up the occupants of the cool red VW camper a stone throw from there personal party.  Fortunately that did not happen.

On the up side the heater ran like a dream all night.  With the top down the heater really worked well.  With the top up it did not do as well but still good enough to keep the space warm if not toasty, oh and we did not set off our carbon monoxide alarm which was awesome.  On a side note running the heater all night only took approx. 0.7 gallons of gas which was a pleasant surprise.  The house battery did not fair as well.  We estimate maybe another night of battery power was left.

After a nice breakfast in Benny we headed home.  The options for the homeward journey were back the way we came, the shortest distance according to the GPS by 12 minutes, or HW2 and over Stevens Pass.  Since we were in no hurry we opted for the additional 12 minutes and did not regret it.  If you have not driven HW2 it is a stunning drive with my favorite leg being just outside of Leavenworth as you meander along the river.   The sun was shining and with the frost and snow all around it was just beautiful.   Sometimes it just feels good to drive and take in the scenes and today was one of those days.  Normally on our way home we blow by Stevens Pass ski resort but today Benny all but drove himself into the car park.  With the lifts closed and the resort open it was an ideal opportunity to grab a rest break and a cup of tea.  Yes the cups say coffee but let me assure you they contained a great herbal tea.  Rested and watered we set off for the last leg of the trip home.

The whole trip was less that 24 hours but by the time we got home it felt like we had been away for much longer, now that is the sign of a good adventure.  Until next time - Max Life Out.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 36 - Back to Basics Update

Friday night and looking forward to the weekend with Sarah.  Ah yes the pictures, just a little bit of Steam Punk'ery I experimented with during the week as a distraction.  I made the base from a scrap of wood and a piece of copper piping.

This weeks recovery has been, would you believe it, "Slow".   You know life is interesting when nighttime pain permeates your dreams.  It leads to some very surreal dreams, trust me.  So each day this week has provided a different opportunity to reflect on the effect of lower back pain along with mid back and neck pain, with a side order of arm and groin pain to boot.  Sarcasm aside it is hard going back to basics and this week was just that.

So metaphorically it was pick yourself up Matthew, dust yourself down and start your recovery training all over again.  With a voice in my head saying "you should be getting good at it by now".  I put aside my aspirations to participate in upcoming cycling events, counted myself lucky that I have the tools and am able to start over and focused on the basics.  Yes I had and to be clear have moments of doubt and concern, it is hard not to when you have a pain that is not going away.  It is like an itch you can't scratch, the mind plays all kinds of games with you even when you are doing exercises you know will help their is still that voice saying "will they really help" or "are you wasting your time" oh and my favorite "don't do it now, you can do it later".

Before, you ask.  Yes, I succumbed to those voices a few times but as I am learning in spades attitude in recovery is so important.  My attitude is "I WILL get better" and if it takes starting from scratch "SO BE IT" .  I was given the chance to be here and I will not squander that gift.

To reiterated, last week my lower back went into spasm most likely as a result of my old herniation in L4-L5.  This resulted in limited mobility and sensations radiating into the groin and leg.  For anyone who has experienced a herniation these symptoms will sound only too familiar.   Obviously in my case the situation is also compounded by the mid back, neck and shoulder issues.  I set myself the goal of being able to do three foundation exercises by Wednesday.  So with my goal in mind I started the week focusing on Standing Decompressions and basic Founders.  In the morning I got ready for work with 1 or 2 repetitions followed by icing.  During the working day I found time to do the exercises at random during the day.  I ended the day with a few repetitions before bed.  No they did not always feel great but they helped me get through the day and from time to time they did "Just Feel Good".  by Wednesday I was able to add back extension repetitions.  Only 5-6 repeats and after each session I felt a little better.  by Thursday I was able to add an adductor assisted back extension hold for 10 seconds and today although still stiff and sore I am stronger than I was on Monday and ready to help my clients tomorrow in my Foundation Training classes.  Once again having the tools in my toolbox is making all the difference.  The journey forward is still very uncertain so I am staying focused on the near term and trusting that no matter what I life has to throw at me I will deal with it with.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 35 - Sunday Nght Bear

It has been a good afternoon spent with a good friend.  It was also sad hearing from another friend who is not having such a good time and it is frustrating to see those you care about suffering hard times especially when you cannot be there to help.  It reminds me to be thankful for the good things I have even when I feel down or frustrated with my progress.

I know that I am recovering and that set backs are to be expected but it does not stop the feeling of frustration. Not only for me but for Sarah who has been my rock whilst dealing with her own fears and worries. 

Yup I crashed a little tonight and feeling a little low but for no good reason as I am slowly getting stronger. So enough of the self pity.  Time to reflect again on how lucky I am to be able to crash. 

So why the bear, because how can you not smile when looking at a cute cuddly polar bear :)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Foundation Training Re Launch: MaxLifeOutFit

Whoa, we made it, and I have to say it was a close call.  After my back went out on Wednesday I was not sure everything would go smoothly and I m pleased to say it did.  With a focus on Foundation Training myself this morning I was able to train two new clients with the assistance from my beautiful assistant Sarah.  It is always good when teaching to be able to look someone in the eye and tell them you know what it feels like, in this case I honestly wish that was not the case but my life experiences have made it so and to me there is no better satisfaction than to be able to help others overcome their challenges. 

This week I have officially transitioned from a Student Instructor to a Certified Foundation Training Instructor and thanks to a lot of hard work put in by Sarah we launched our new website MaxLifeOutFit.  Going forward my hope is to wrap the great work Sarah does as a holistic health coach into the site so that we can share the great insight she has built up over the last 10 years.

If you are interested in Foundation Training take a look at and if you have any questions don't hesitate to let me know

Sarah Rocking out a Founder

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 34 - Minor Speed Bump (I Hope)

If it is not one thing it's another, seriously, I need a break and not the type that involves bones.   Everything was going well today when climbing off my bike after todays training session I felt a little sore in the lower back, imagine my surprise to find that it has now developed into a full blow flare up.  The first lower back flare up I have had in over 9 months.  Just goes to show how the whole chain is connected.

I think the universe is just helping remind me of the challenges of back pain so that I don't lose sight of what I need to do to really help others as a Foundation Training instructor because upper back and shoulder pain is not enough, sorry that just slipped out.   It certainly gives me yet another opportunity to practice what I preach when it comes to training.  Now adding lower back recovery to the program.  It sure is a journey.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 33 - Thanksgiving and Back to Active Recovery

There is no question what I gave thanks for this Thanksgiving.  Being able to write this post,
an amazing wife, friends and family, and a great job.  There are always challenges, it is how they are approached that matters.  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and for my friends in other parts of the world being thankful does not need a holiday just a little self reflection and appreciation especially at this time of the year - But a holiday is good too <Grin>.

Talking about being thankful, since the tooth was removed the pains in my head and face have slowly gotten better and I am really grateful not to be experiencing the pain.  The socket is now mostly healed and since last Monday I have been pain killer free.  The first few days were a challenge but I pushed through and I have been able to see small improvements each day.  Night and sleep is still the hardest to deal with as I am woken by pain a few times a night but even there I am seeing improvement even if it is slower than I would like.

The tooth worked out to be a 15 day setback as I was forced to deal with the symptoms and then the subsequent recovery.  During those 15 days I certainly seized up more due to a lack of movement and exercise.  It is strange how the mind just wants you to curl up in a ball and stop moving when in most cases that is absolutely the worst thing to do.  On Thursday, Thanksgiving day I started my Foundation Training and floor exercises again and was shocked at how hard they were compared to 15 days earlier.

On Friday I added in a 30 minute recovery ride on my trainer bringing the total exercise time up to around 70 minutes a day.  Training everyday is tough as quite honestly I don't always feel like it, but I almost always feel good about myself afterwards, satisfied that I am taking my recovery seriously and doing what I can to get back to full mobility and back out on the road and trails training.

What am I dealing with now and what's the plan? is the question I ask myself daily.

Goal:  To regain full mobility and regain the level of fitness I had prior to the accident.

What am I dealing with:   Right now the challenge is mid back, shoulder and neck mobility pain and tension.  The neck brace effected my mid back mobility and the injuries account for the rest.   Whilst I have gained a lot of neck mobility back rotating my trunk causes pain in the chest and ribs.  Turning my heads generates pain in the neck and shoulders. 

Current Plan:  In these early stages the plan is being monitored daily.  For the next week I will alternate floor exercises daily with one day focused specifically on Foundation Training with a small number of foam roll exercises and the next incorporating light free weights and additional floor/foam roll exercises in with the same Foundation Training.  The first day is around 20-30 mins and the next day around 40 - 50 mins.  In addition to the floor exercises I will incorporate a 30min recovery ride on the trainer focusing on heart rate and good peddling form.  Although my mind is telling me I could probably work harder on the bike I have decided to ease back into it and when ready start with a base building training plan (tbd).  To challenge myself on the bike I am focusing on smoothing out my pedal strokes.

What is going well:  When recovering or even training I find reflection on what is going well a really good motivator as it is something to feel good about even if you are not where you want to be.  I am now able to perform all of my floor exercises and all of my Foundation Training exercises and this weekend I was able to take on a new Foundation Training client.  Taking on a new client is a big step as I promised myself I would not take anyone on until I could perform the moves strongly myself.

A word about diet.  I cannot stress enough the importance of a good diet and I know that many people aspire to a good diet but when it comes right down to it the pleasure of old ways out weight the potential benefits no matter how much they are desired.  It truly is a challenge and in my humble opinion one well worth investing in.  My weight prior to the accident was around 152lbs and my weight this morning was 150lbs.  My diet helped me avoid putting on pounds and has sets me up for a much faster recovery which includes keeping inflammation in my body to a minimum and bolstering my immune system, aiding in the ability to exercise and gain improved mobility.

I am optimistic that the set backs are behind me but given the severity of the accident I am also prepared to work through anything that comes up.  I am truly thankful to be at a stage in the recovery that allows me to focus on daily improvements rather than investigation and damage limitation.

For those interested here is the training I did this morning:

Floor Exercises:  Lying on my back
- Foundation Training - Supine Decompression
- Foundation Training - Left and Right Cross overs
- Core - Arm and Leg lifts with 5lb hand weight x 10
- Foundation Training - Bridge
- Foam Roll - Mid back flexing x 5
- Foam Roll - Back Roll
- Foam Roll - Shoulder stretch (lying length ways on the roll)
- Foam Roll - Shoulder Press 10lb weight x 10
- Foam Roll - Alternate leg balance lying length ways on the roll
- Foam Roll - Tricep lifts 10lb weight x 5 (each side)
- Foam Roll - Shoulder rotation lifting 5lb weight over head x 10

Floor Exercises:  Lying on my Front
- Foundation Training: Back Extension with Tracing (50 Seconds)
- Neck stretch each side
- Plank 30 seconds
- Side Plank 30 seconds each side
- Plank to Hover 20 seconds
- Down Dog with Marching
- Plank to Hover
- Foundation Training: Back Extension with Tracing (50 Seconds)
- Neck stretch each side
- Yoga pushups x 8
- Yoga Childs Pose (front, left and right)
- Pushups x 5
- Foundation Training:  Back Extension with Tracing (50 Seconds)
- Foundation Training:  8 Point Plank (50 Seconds)
- Foam Roll - T Band x10 each side

Floor Exercises:  Kneeling
- Arm raise/rotation x 10 each side

Floor Exercises:  Standing
- Foundation Training:  Standing Decompression
- Free weights:  arm raises (Side) 5lbs x 5
- Free weights:  arm raises (Front) 5lbs x 5
- Foundation Training:  Founder with Integrated hinging x 5
- Free weights:  shoulder curls 5lbs x 5
- Free weights:  shoulder shrugs 10lbs x 20 (with neck stretch)
- Foundation Training:  Woodpecker with 5 Woodpecker rotations (each side)
- Foundation Training:  Lung both sides
- Foundation Training:  Founder into a Forward Fold and x10 foot lifts
- Foundation Training: Alternating windmills
- Foundation Training:  Founder
- Foundation Training:  Standing Decompression

Bike:  30 Min Recovery Ride

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Benny Dual Battery Setup - At Last

Well today I have finally completed the dual battery monitoring and management setup and resolved the outstanding issue with the TJM IBS system in Benny.  It has been a long journey since deciding to install it with the help of Joe from Das Mule back in the summer.  It is certainly a lesson in preparing as I am sure with more preparation, reading and understanding I could have save myself some effort but then again may be not.

It all started at the opening of Das Mule's new store back in the summer with the impulse buy of a TJM IBS Dual Battery Monitoring system.  I knew I wanted to monitor both batteries having learnt the hard way that keeping my main battery on a tender was not keeping my house battery charged.  I knew the house battery was being charged whilst driving but I had no idea of the level of the battery as even the little switch on the cooker showed me the condition of the starting battery.  

The initial installation of the TJM system seemed to go well until the drive home when the failure to link light started flashing and beeping.  I ended up trouble shooting the error and found that the IBS monitor was not cabled correctly.  A simple mistake easily corrected, but no prize, still the same error.  After discussion with my friends at Das Mule we switched out the module for a different one.  At first it did the same thing so I tested it with a different battery and whoa it worked.  Switched it back and all was good for about 3 months.

That is until randomly whilst driving the failure to link light came on.  I have to be honest at that point I was very frustrated as the system seemed to fail for no reason.  This left two possible tests.  Test a different battery or the power cable between the two batteries.  It is worth mentioning that during the initial installation the original VW relay was removed and the cooker panel LED cabled to the house battery.  The fridge connection was not needed as the fridge had been removed in favor of the GoWesty fridge elimination kit.  During the installation the existing power cable between the two batteries was used.

That was the state of the nation until this weekend.  I might not have been able to work on Benny but I have been thinking about the problem.  After talking to Joe and reading a bunch I decided that I would start by testing the power cable between the two batteries.  Well long story short and much to my surprise the new power cable resolved the problem.   So by the end of Saturday I had removed the seats and tested the power cable.  Whilst this was good news it also presented a challenge I was hoping to avoid.  You see the existing power cable was route through a hole in each of the battery compartments and I had not idea how to run the new power cable.   A little head scratching and I decided I should be able to pull the new cable through by attaching it to the existing one.

Sunday morning and I was ready to get going confident that I could pull the new cable through.  I installed a connector to the new power cable at one end and attached it to the connector of the old  cable and started to pull it through and then the worst thing that could happen, happened the old cable came through with no new cable attached.  The connector on the old cable pulled off.  Alter 5 minutes of verbally kicking myself for an ass it dawned on me that the condition of the connector could have been the problem.  It did not however fix the fact that I was left with having to figure out the one thing I had been avoiding.  How to run the new cable.  It turns out that both holes in both Battery compartments exited under the van but whilst I could see the cables through the wheel wells the route from one hole to the next was inaccessible short of taking things apart underneath, something I did not want to undertake.  After a considerable amount of head scratching I came up with a plan to use a rod with the cable zip tied loosely to it as a guide.  Did it go smoothly, like hell it did but in the end it worked and I was able to thread the cable under the van.  The hard part done I was free to put the batteries back and cable them up.

Earlier in the week whilst planning this weekends effort I decided I would add a battery charger and purchased the Pro Sport 20.  Well like all well laid plans the cables were not long enough and this time instead of trying to make it all work I changed tactics.  I decided to wire in a battery tender plugged into the fridge power outlet in the cupboard.  It worked like a charm and with a different  tender to manage the main battery (not wired in) I now have both batteries being monitored. 

Weekend Mission Accomplished


TJM IBS Dual Battery Monitoring System (Available Here)
Battery Tender


12V Copper Cable Lugs for Pennies - Great you tube video

Injury Recovery Part 32 - Weekend Up's and Down's

The great news is that pulling the tooth got rid of all the cold sensitivity and pain related to the tooth.  The not so good news was that all weekend the empty socket has not been very happy resulting in head aches of a different nature, and there I was thinking that I had nailed the head aches.

I have to say it was a little sneaky as both Thursday and Friday I felt much better and then Friday night I decided to go all day and all night without pain killers.  Mistake, I ended up having a crappy night sleep and waking up with shooting pains behind my eyes and a body, neck and shoulders that felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck.  There is no question that pain killers do the job but they also lull you into a force sense of well being until you stop of course.  Last night was better with the help of pain killers and tonight after an active day I am already in need of a little pain relief but I will wait until bed time for maximum coverage.

On the up side I have been active all weekend, focused on getting Benny's battery system sorted out and whilst I have been uncomfortable at points during the day, I have been able to stay focused and get all the work done - I call that a win even if my body is less than happy with me.

I am looking forward to getting back to training again after having to stop due to the tooth pains and dentists orders.  I hope to get back on the bike towards the end of the week.

I hope you had a great weekend and Maxed life out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 31 - A Tooth Pulling

You know it is hard to focus on what you want to do when you have to deal with things you really don't want to deal with and today was a balance of them both.  At work my hack team is in the last week of preparation for our meeting with the CEO and the last thing I want to be dealing with is my recovery let alone a rogue tooth.  But hey we have to play the cards we are dealt and if the accident taught me anything it is to roll with the punch's and trust in a better day tomorrow.  Last night I called a couple of dentists and got a referral for a local oral surgeon.  They were my first call this morning having looked them up on Yelp last night and they were able to fit me in an emergency spot this afternoon.  It was really nice to have things just work out with little stress.  The lady that answered the phone was really helpful and got me all set up for a 3:30 appointment to have the tooth extracted, leaving me free to get on with my day which was great with all that is going on.

I will be honest I was not looking forward to 3:30 and a little nervous about the whole thing.  With questions still unanswered I turned up for the extraction and the great experience I had on the phone continued at the dental office.  The staff were friendly and helpful and the doctor I saw was engaging and professional with great bedside manner.  He listened to my longwinded story and explained that a trauma can bring on a nerve problem but dealing with the tooth was the first step.  He explained what was involved in getting an implant and made sure that my mouth was fully numb before starting.  He took care to check that I could feel nothing and a few twists later and a crack or two and the tooth was out.   Once the tooth was out he explained that he inspected the area and I did not need a bone graph to support an implant.  He told me the optimal time to consider and implant would be in 4 to 9 months time.  He spent time explaining that only 15% of people use the rear top molar to chew on and that he would recommend that I wait and decide if I really miss the tooth as he would not recommend spending the time and money if it is not needed.  I was very impressed with the whole experience and if you are interested in who I saw here are the details.  -  Jared R. Cottam

After the extraction I asked for the tooth and whist I was expecting to see something I was really surprised with the size of the cavity

I am now home and applying the regiment of gauze changing and icing needed to get the bleeding and swelling under control not to mention a good helping of pain control which makes me not care what I look like, yup that's me with a bag of frozen blueberry's strapped to my face feeling all fuzzy and happy thanks to the pain meds.  I don't know I think there is a fashion statement somewhere between 1st world war and fairy princess lol.

Well that's me for the day, if all goes well I will be back in the office tomorrow for a sync with the team in the afternoon - fingers crossed. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 30 - Trip to the Endodontist

The things you learn and quite honestly there are some things I wish I did not have to learn.  the lesson in medicine this week is that there are different types of dentists.  Ok so it seems obvious now but seriously I have gone through life thinking a dentist is a dentist and now there is Endodontics and oral surgeons thrown into the mix.   Ah now it comes to how I learnt this gem of knowledge, well on Friday the dentist referred me to an Endodontist as he could not help me further and wanted to rule out a compromised tooth.  The bit that sucked was having to wait three days and dealing with the pain until today.   Talking about pain, thankfully the strategy of not talking much helped control it.  Back to today, so it turns out that I have a decayed rear moaler with two option open to me.  Option 1 is a root canal however it would not be a permanent fix and would most likely need treatment and/or extraction in the future.  Option 2 extraction with or without an implant.  I was very impressed with the person I saw and the help provided in making the decision to extract.  What I was not excited about was the oral surgeon I was referred to cannot see me until next week, so tomorrow the mission is to find a good oral surgeon to remove the tooth asap as I really want to get back on track with my recovery.  Oh and here's the kicker the tooth problem was not caused by the accident but coincidence, go figure.  The good news is there is a clear plan forward which is a much better place to be than "I don't know".

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 29 - Set Back

Set backs happen but I really did not expect it to be my teeth that caused it.  I won't lie and say everything is rosy because right now it does not feel rosy.  I know I will get over it but it is hard to not throw myself a pity party.   As always it is the nagging pain that just wears as well as the. disappointment given the progress made combined with the just not knowing what it is.

You know you have another journey on your hands when your dentist does not know what is going on.  My next step is to visit a specialist to find out if I need a root canal.  The dentist would be happy if that is the problem as in his words it can then be dealt with.  The problem is the pain is not isolated to one tooth but rather a combination of upper teeth, jaw joint and back lower teeth and it seems to get worse the more I move my jaw by talking or eating.  Then there is the constant low grade headache that accompanies it, see I told you it is hard not to through a pity party.

Thankfully it is controllable with a combination of ibuprofen and oxycoden.  It is the phcological impact of having to conceded to pain killers again I am also struggling with, not to mention not knowing how much to exercise whilst in this condition to keep working on the neck and back recovery.

Ok time to kick myself is the arse and stop feeling sorry for myself and start feeling grateful it is not worse.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 28 - Tooth Pain and No Sleep

It is 4am in the morning and I have been up since 2am when the pain killers I took to go to bed wore off.  You can probably imagine how frustrated I feel right now.

Yesterday I woke with minor symptoms in the morning that grew throughout the day until I left work with a throbbing head and face.  The worse symptoms I have had in weeks which is disappointing after the progress earlier in the week. 

Right now all I can focus on is getting the pain under control and trying to salvage some sleep so that I can function tomorrow but right now that seems unlikely.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 27 - Slow Day

You regularly get to the point when you just want to be done with the aches and pains and today was one of those days.  Getting a good night sleep is critical to maintaining good moral and the last few nights have been far from good.   I was hopeful that last night would be better but unfortunately not.  It's not that the pain is acute it is a creeping ache that comes on and causes me to wake up at regular intervals throughout the night leaving me feeling like I have jet lag in the morning.

The lack of sleep lowers my motivation and it left me very reluctant to exercise today, I knew it would be good for me but just getting started was a struggle.  I gave myself a good talking too then hit the mat and bike but I did dial it back to make sure I did not overdo things.  As always I felt a little better at the end, I just wish I could capture that feeling for the start.

Motivation aside I got to catch up with friends I have not see for a while at lunch which was great and overall progress is continuing although the verdict is still out on my teeth.  I am optimistic they are a little better.   Optimism does not cost anything right.

My next job is to take my exercises to the next level, so there is a bit of planning in my future as long as I can get a good night sleep.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 26 - Tooth Pain Breakthrough (Maybe)

You know I found out last night that if a night guard does not fit properly you end up chewing on it all night long.  That was however not the worst of it.  Before going to bed I accidently hit the sensitive teeth with a waterpik.  It is quite amazing the amount of pain that generates and how long it takes to settle down.  It did not really settle down all night.  So a combination of back pain, tooth pain and a chewy night guard contributed to a totally unrestful night.

Now for some good news, I was able to get an emergency appointment at the dentist and we might have had a breakthrough. Oh and a new fitted night guard.  Time will tell but tonight the teeth feel a little better but I will not be risking a waterpik that is for sure.

Syncro Part 5 - There is Life

Today the glorious sound of life, yes life ......

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 25 - Mixed Emotions

It's Saturday night and I am feeling tired and a little low which might influence the tone of today's post.  That said I don't have a lot to be low about I think it is just the result of two crappy nights sleep.  The fact is that I have now been pain killer free for 48+ hours which is a significant breakthrough.  I stopped the pain killers on Thursday and unfortunately I had a really restless night. 

Yesterday I was determined to celebrate the improvements and spend some quality time with the amazing Sarah in the evening.   We got dressed up and went out for a nice dinner.  It was really nice to get dressed up and go out.  The unfortunate thing was that the food was really not as good as we imagined it to be.   The change in the way we eat has really spoiled us as I am sure it would have been nice in the past but yesterday it was a little too salty and really not all that special.  That said we did not let it spoil the night.  What did suck for me was another really restless night sleep.  I tossed and turned and woke up with a tooth ache due to grinding even with a night guard.

Today was spent browsing the stores and catching up with a couple of friends.  It is really exciting to see our friends at DAS Mule expanding the business with a soon to be opened fabrication shop and then to stop in on our friends at Pacific Bike a Ski and spend a few hours chatting and catching up, oh and buying a new helmet.

It was weird buying the helmet as it surfaced some strange emotions.  I really wanted to get a different helmet but I ended up with the same model that I crashed in for the simple fact that it was the best fit.  I know it is irrational but I was not super keen on getting the same model although it did in all likelihood save my life.  Talking about irrational, I am piking up my mountain bike tomorrow following repair of the front shocks and a bent front wheel, yup the bike did better than me,  The irrational part is that after spending over $6000 on my dream mountain bike I am not sure I want it any more after the crash.  I am hoping that once I get it back and get out on it that will change but it is not a good feeling.

What was a good feeling was completing my first Sufferfest Session on the trainer at 90% of my pre crash FTP following an 50 minute combined Strength and Foundation Training session.  Now don't get excited my strength training is limited to 5lbs weights but that has been a step up from no weights.  Today I ordered 10lbs weights as I think I will be ready for more towards the end of next week.  I may also be getting to the point where I separate the Foundation & Exercise session from the bike session as this week it has been taking about 2 hours a day to complete. 

Oh talking about Foundation Training after completing over 70+ hours of instruction I submitted my written paper and video for evaluation and full certification.  I got a great mail back but need to submit some addition video footage of a woodpecker and adductor assisted back extension as I did not realize they needed to be included.  I will talk nicely to Sarah tomorrow to help me put it together.  I am even planning new training classes which I am looking forward to starting.

Well that's about it for today, yes I am now going take some pain killers as I really need to sleep well tonight to avoid being a really grumpy person tomorrow. 

Rolling with the punches and maxing life out :)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Syncro Part 4 - Engine and Pop Top Pictures

Now that the Engine problems have been resolved the build is moving forward.  Here are the latest engine install pictures as will as a picture of the opening in the roof.

Fuel Pump and Cooler


Recovery Injury Part 24 - Tough Day, Better Day

11 weeks to the day and it is great to be back at work and the time away gave me time to reflect on the amazing opportunities I have and the great people I work with.  Don't get me wrong not all of them are great but the key is not to focus on them but to focus on those that matter and most importantly to show up as the best person I can be.  How's that for a philosophical start to the post....

The second week back has been more tiring than week one and yesterday was a tough day.  I had a great time at work catching up on the Eye Gaze Hackathon project but by the time I got home I was officially cooked.  I did not want to do anything except crash out on the sofa and watch mindless TV.  Oh yes I had to wrestle with the guilt of not doing my exercises but as I mentioned in my last post you have to listen to your body and thankfully I had Sarah on hand to remind me to do just that and not push myself.  I still felt bad, but I got over it.

Then after an extremely exhausting evening blobbing out on the Sofa I was rewarded with a restless night dreaming about campers and the beach but not in the vacation or relaxing way you might think.  Just like dreams to take things and twist them around.  Suffice to say it was good to wake up.

Better day today which started with a soak followed by exercises, it always feels good to get them out of the way early.  Set up for the day I was able to catch up on some work projects, have lunch with a friend, catch up with my team mates and talk as a guest speaker about the Hackathon win to help inspire others to address Accessibility in software development.  I call that a good day.  I finished the afternoon with a PT visit.  No surprises my muscles are still tight and not all of them are firing.  We worked on turning muscles on which was far less exciting than it sounds.

So in summary, the back and neck motion is improving slowly.  The teeth are still an issue.  I really need to go have them looked at but to be honest I just don't want to be poked about any more so I am putting up with the problem and hoping that they will take care of themselves.  I know the likely hood is slim and I need to call the dentist.  OK Tomorrow I will call.

Hoping for better dreams tonight and wishing you amazing dreams - Maxlifeout

Monday, November 3, 2014

Injury Recovery Part 23 - Recovery Takes Effort

Today I want to share with you my thoughts on the effort it takes to recover.  Don't get me wrong I definitively do not mean to preach as I have just finished a workout I really did not feel like doing.  But the reality is that we have to do the best we can to aid recovery or we can only get to a certain point and go no further or at worst have other problems arise.  

It is humbling to be told that my attitude was inspiring.  Attitude is something no matter how bad things are we can control and it makes all the difference in the world especially in those dark moments when it hurts so badly you want to scream.  For me every time I was in pain or feeling sorry for myself I thought of those less fortunate and gave thanks that my situation was not worse.  Yes good attitude takes effort, I really don't know why it is easier to feel sorry for ourselves and yes I fell into that trap many times.  But the great thing about attitude is it can be changed immediately - trust me I know.

Maintaining good attitude is important as you make improvement as that is when set backs need to be managed.  Then there is the final long pull which is where I am today.  It is when the pain is manageable and improvements seem imperceptible.  To keep focused I set goals every day such as, twist a little further, hold for 10 more seconds or ride harder for 1 more minute. I also set longer term goals visualizing my health and focusing a goal big enough to be challenging but also realistic to achieve.

That brings me to exercising.  I know it sucks and yes PT could stand for Physical Torture using benign movements and innocent looking foam rolls.  Yup, it is all about attitude.  Personally I could not wait to start PT because I knew that was the point I could start to take control of my own journey.  Again I have no idea why when the human body needs exercise the mind makes it is easier to do nothing.  You would think the body would tell the mind, hey bum get some exercise in, but oh no that would be too easy.

I try to do my exercises every day both floor exercises and riding the bike.  It is not always easy especially now that the nights are dark and all I feel like doing is curling up on the sofa and watching TV.   For those of you interested my current exercise program consists of approx. 40 minutes of floor exercises including Foundation Training exercises, 5lb weight exercises and foam roll exercises and then I transition to the indoor trainer for a 30 minute ride during which I challenge my cardio.  The key is to get into a pattern of doing the exercises but not to beat yourself up if you miss the odd day, that is as long as the odd bit does not become the exercises. 

I also cannot underplay the importance of diet.  You are what you eat and what you eat can help you to heal.  I will leave that topic for another day as Sarah has pointed out how long it takes me to write a post lol :)

Maxlifeout every day ....

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Syncro Part 3 - Build Check-in

It has been 8 months'ish since the last build post so today I am excited to share the latest update. 
This morning started slowly as a much as I wanted to I just could not get to sleep last night.  Note to self taking the laptop to bed does to assist with sleep.  I finally got off to sleep around 3am and then surprise, surprise I felt crappy in the morning.  Waking up still feels like someone has used me as a punch bag all night.

From March to now the build has felt a little unreal because of the lack of progress due to the unforeseen problems with the engine build.  Problems that I am told are now resolved but that took considerable troubleshooting.  I am not that technical when it comes to engines but I am told the problems resided in the ECU configuration and to resolve the problem Kirk the owner at North Westy sent his own van and his pride and joy down to California to allow the engine supplier to fix the problem.   He is heading down this month to pick it up and drive it back and here is our engine where it is supposed to be.  So cool to see it and Kirk tells us it will be fully installed this week.

The problems with the engine resolved the build can now move forward so we headed out to see Kirk today and start the process of locking in all the options.   The one thing the delay has given us is time to think on our color scheme and options and as a result some of those have changed starting with the color.  If you look back you will see our original color choice and although I think it is a good color we were both a little concerned it was a bit bling.  That and our experience with working on Benny in the summer re-enforced the need to have a paint color that can be easily touched up and purchased locally.  We then started throwing around color options again and fell back into the "I don't know what color to paint it" syndrome.  The one thing we did know and agree on was a bold fun color that would make us smile.  We love the tornado red of Benny and really did consider the same color again.  It was then that we saw the inspiration for our color choice the Jeep Wrangler Orange.

It is fun and the black and orange combo was something that would work for us both on the outside as well as the inside.  It also had the benefit of going with color choices we had already made should we want to keep them.

Today we reviewed our options and changed the cabinet laminate and pop top fabric colors.  We added carpet, curtains and flooring options as well as reviewed a bunch of questions and decided to have the undercarriage completely refurbished we also added the 91 rear windows with vents.

Having gone backwards and forwards on the solar question we have decided not to install one at this stage.  If we were in a sunny climate it might be a different decision but here in the Northwest the benefit seems to be limited to a short window of summer months.  So instead we plan on relying on  idling the engine to recharge the batteries should we need to.

Once we got home we ordered the our bumpers and rear tire carrier from Rocky Mountain Westy.  We really wanted our friends at Das Mule's bumpers but unfortunately they will not be ready in time. 

Here are a few pictures of the beastie as it stands today


Our new gauges have arrived and ready for install

This is the color of the of the door panels

We kept the basic colors and added the Charcoal as the curtain color.  For the curtains we decided to go with pop on rather than having curtain hooks.

This is the revised cabinet color.  We wanted to go with a more modern look than our original choice and so we decided on the color below for the fronts and a brushed aluminum for the tops.

Making all the color choices has been far harder than I ever thought and we are now excited to see it all come together.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Westy's at Marymoor

On a chilly and overcast Saturday morning we got Benny our VW vanagon camper ready for the annual VW Wet Westies meet up in Marymoor park.  Having charged the house battery last night because the battery monitor and linking system I installed this year failed again and due to my accident I have not had a chance to investigate.  Don't you just hate it when things stop working for no good reason.  To be fair it did not take much to get him ready to roll. 

This year the meet up was earlier as the temperature in pervious years combined with holiday commitments kind of  impacted attendance, and I can attest last year was really cold.  So after a week of heavy rain I was thrilled that the day turned out to be dry and not to cold.

Whilst I lounged in bed after finally getting to sleep last night at around 4:30am having failed in my  attempt not to take painkillers Sarah made pumpkin soup to keep use warm whilst hanging out with old and new friends.  With the soup made, Benny ready and the girls (our dogs Candy and Daisy) itching to go we headed out to the meet up.

The decision to hold the event earlier and the lack of rain lead to a really good turn out and as we pulled in it was exciting to see all the Van's with there pop tops up and proud owners socializing, sharing stories and quite frankly geeking out.

It was awesome to see our friends and as always at these events it was great to meet new friends.  We even had a VW camper celebrity by the name of Nacho from Drive Nacho Drive.  It was great to see inside Nacho and to meet the owners Brad & Sheena after following there blog and reading there book.  I look forward to seeing them again and having the chance to show them some of the great on and off road cycling we have in the area. 


My good friend Joe was there with our local celebrity DasMule and it was great to catch up.  If you haven't visited the store in Issaquah I highly recommend it for all you adventuring types.

Das Mule the Wheel Shot - for more pictures just search online

Amongest the bread boxes (Vanagons) was a hightop bread loaf (Earlier Camper) and I just loved the charm of the living space.

It is always great to swap stories and see these wonderful old vans being loved and used for the purpose they were built for 25+ years later, no matter if they are loved as is, a project in progress or fully restored they all have there own character and bring joy to there owners and smiles to people around them.  Everyone who owns one has a story of someone asking them about there van or sharing a memory.   Here is our boy Benny.

Talking of character this little gem snuck in amongst the Vans as the owners Van is currently in the shop for an engine upgrade.  How cute is that face ....

Seeing it took me right back to my childhood,  I am the little guy in the middle, camping back in the day.  You know when camping is in your blood it is in your blood.

The day is a gift, enjoy it, cherish it and above all live it - Maxlifeout