Leaping toward spring

February was an eventful month. I rode 25 of 29 days for 629 miles. 104 miles over 7 days were indoors using Big Nellie on a resistance trainer. I hit 15,000 miles on my CrossCheck. My longest ride was 51 1/2 miles on The Mule. So far this year, I’ve ridden 1,341 miles.

Of course, the biggest thing was that I finally got cortisone shots in my back to reduce the nerve pain in my leg and lower back. Mostly, it worked but my body is far from normal. I have pain of one sort or another every day, but at least I can walk a few hundred yards without a cane. I go back to the doctor soon. We’ll talk about whether I should get a second set of injections.

Since this is reading season, I managed to read three books: Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, and And I Do Not Forgive You by Amber Sparks.

I attended some interesting events. The WABA Annual Meeting and Awards was fun. It was nice to see some friends being recognized. Three kids were given awards for presenting testimony before a Vision Zero meeting of city council members. I watched the testimony online and I have to say that these kids were awesome. (They were nine or ten years old at the time of the hearing.)

I attended a screening of a short film about Black American Sign Language at Gallaudet University in DC. Thanks for the invite to Katie Lee, a friend who works at the Gallaudet U. Press. I managed not to see her. The place was packed.

I also went to Amber Sparks’s book tour event at Politics and Prose. She’s the wife of Chris, a former co-worker.  Her book has gotten rave reviews in the Washington Post and on NPR.

And speaking of former co-workers, I had a drink with Jessica who is back from her whirlwind tour down the Pacific Rim. This followed a very long trip to South America, Antarctica, and Easter Island. Intrepid she is. As good as it is to see her, I will miss her posts from the other side of the world.

And, of course, I managed to haul my lazy ass out of bed a few times to ride to DC for Friday Coffee Club. Apparently a new dress code involving wool caps, glasses, and beards has begun to take hold.

And so I forge ahead into March. It’s time to start thinking about a bike tour. Last year I had floods, tornadoes, and mountains. This year I have stenosis and a pandemic. Wherever you go, there you are.

Things are stopping

  • My bike is stopping. On the way to the bike shop in Old Town, a pick up truck tried to go around a car at an intersection. I was on the right hand side of the pick up. I grabbed my brakes and they kinda sorta stopped me. In time. I knocked on the rear fender of the pick up. How about it buddy? Try not to kill me. His windows were open. He didn’t get all road ragey. I think he knew he messed up.
  • A few minutes later I’m inside Conte’s which opened up at the corner of King and Henry streets a year or two ago. The location was once the site of The Bed Store. The Bed Store sold platform beds that broke down into a neat, shipable size. You could put the entire thing and a foam mattress in a VW Golf. I know because that’s how I got it home. My daughter still uses the bed 36 years later. I would gladly buy another but no one knows what happened to the rights to the design after the store closed. I imagine the owner, a stylish woman with white hair, shuffled off this mortal coil long ago.
  • I intended only to buy some brake pads but the folks at Conte’s offered to install them while I waited. I know that compact V-brakes are a pain to work on so I let Bob the mechanic go to work. During my bike tour, three different mechanics adjusted my brakes. It wasn’t until the tour was nearly over, in Carson City, Nevada that someone finally got then working properly. It took Bob a while. The pads went on the front. Bob went back and forth and back and forth methodically tweaking the calipers, the pads, the cable tension. (This would have taken me two or three times as long.) Then he repeated the process on the rear only to find that the cable kept hanging up. He tried to save the cable with lube and fine grit sandpaper (to clear off rust) but eventually threw on a new one. When he was done with the brakes he checked the clearance between the rims and the pads. The back wheel had a teeny wobble. Out came a spoke wrench. Twist one spoke this way, another spoke that way. And Voila! The Mule stops!
  • I went for a 25 mile ride afterward. The brake pull was perfect. The stopping power was the best it’s been in months. And there was no squealing. Bob done good.
  • I rode to the Air Force Memorial in Arlington. It’s three swooping towers of shiny metal, curving skyward. It’s pretty hard to get all three in one picture when you’re standing directly beneath them.IMG_3396
  • After leaving the memorial, I rode to the Washington Boulevard bike trail. It’s a nice trail. Too bad it leads to nothing. IMG_3399
  • About a half mile away, a bike trail runs parallel to US 50, the highway on the bridge in the picture above. Of course, this trail stops without warning too. I often imagine how pissed off drivers would be if the roads they were using just stopped at random places like this. (An example would be I-64 in West Virginia in the 1980s. It just stopped in the middle of nowhere – actually at a place called Sam Black Church. Then, one day while we were driving to the family reunion, it didn’t.)
  • Unlike my brakes, my body was doing not so good. Yesterday’s 51-miler wore me out. I had intended to ride 40 miles today but decided to throw in the towel at 31.
  • And since we’re on the subject of stopping, my back and left leg pain is all but gone, at least as far as everyday activities are concerned. I keep expecting it to come back and lay me out, but it hasn’t happened.

51 miles without stopping

Yesterday was the first real test of how my stenosis recovery is affecting my bike riding. It was in the high 40s when I left home, back on The Mule for the first time in a couple of months. A nice little tailwind pushed me to DC where I found my way to Rock Creek Park after 15 miles of dodging kiddies on wee bikes and bouncing up and down over scores of tree roots. I am pretty sure that the CrossCheck does a better job of cushioning my back from these bumps. Nevertheless, I made it to DC without medical intervention.

Up the creek I rode. For 1 1/2 miles the trail bounced me all over the place. Then I arrived at the cross over point where Beach Drive is closed to cars. The pavement is new and deliciously smooth. The ride is a gradual uphill all the way to Maryland. The creek was babbling. Roller skaters, both old school and in-line, were in heaven. I made it to East West Highway and began the short climb to Jones Mill Road, the halfway point.

Jones Mill took me over a series of rollers to downtown Bethesda where, rather than stay on Woodmont Avenue, the street that I was on, I started wandering about looking for the Capital Crescent Trail. Soon I found myself pointed back the way I came on Woodmont. Hmmm.

I checked the Google, turned around, and rode to the trailhead, managing to avoid two unsignalled right hooks by drivers.

The trail was almost completely blocked by dog leashes. It was like a scene from that Tom Cruise movie where the jewels are protected by criss-crossing lasers. I cruised on through (sorry) without incident. The next seven or so miles were gradually downhill, weaving in and out as I passed walkers and more kiddos learning how to subdue their unruly bikes on training wheels.

By the time I made it back to Georgetown I was pooped. Normally, I get this far without too much fatigue. Normally, I stop in Bethesda for lunch. Today, I was abnormal. So I stopped and ate some mini cookies that Mrs. Rootchopper had put aside on account of their blandness. The bag had only 150 calories of food in it so the cookies barely put a dent in my pathway to bonkdom.

Of course, the last 15 miles was into the wind. Just grind it out, my brain said. My knees and lower back were not in complete agreement but they had no say in the matter. I descended from the 14th Street Bridge to take a hard right onto the Mount Vernon Trail. It was here that I discovered that my brake pads were so worn that they no longer could stop The Mule.


I somehow managed not to hit anybody or anything. I even managed to stay on the pavement.

I carefully worked my way through the crowds at Gravelly Point Park and the tourist throngs in Old Town. Claiming no victims, I cruised homeward. I arrived with 51 1/2 miles for the day. My back and knees were sore, but it wasn’t stenosis, just what-hell-are-you-doing-to-us muscle fatigue.

Today’s plan: buy some brake pads.

A #bikedc noobie’s to do list

Julia just moved to DC last week. She came to last night’s #bikedc happy hour hoping to connect with vagabonds and rapscallions. You came to the right place, kid,

Julia was pummeled with advice about what to do and where to ride now that she lives in the bicycling capital of the New World. With that in mind, I thought I’d take the opportunity to make a list of ten things newbies to #bikedc should do.

  1. Ride the Mount Vernon Trail. You can take any of four bridges in DC to the MVT but I suggest starting at Key Bridge in Georgetown. Cross into Virginia, bang a left and soon you’ll be along the banks of the Potomac. Make a day of it.
    • Take a quick hike on Teddy Roosevelt Island
    • Admire the awesome view of the monuments from across the river
    • Check out the planes landing and taking off at National Airport. Don’t be surprised if you get buzzed by a jet using the secondary runway.
    • Take in the bumper car sailboats at Daingerfield Island
    • Have a coffee, snack, beer, or ice cream as you roll through Old Town Alexandria.
    • Ooh and aah under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
    • Keep and eye out for bald eagles. There are at least six nests visible from the trail.
    • Check out Fort Washington across the river.
    • Take a tour of Mt Vernon estate.
  2. Ride to Great Falls National Park in Maryland
    • Just follow the C&O canal towpath from Georgetown until you see a sign for the Olmstead Walk after about 14 miles. Lock your bike and walk out into the falls. Ride back via MacArthur Boulevard and stop at Glen Echo Park. Did someone say “yurts”?
  3. Check out the lotus blossoms
    • Ride the Anacostia River Trail to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in mid July. The water lilies and lotus blossoms are to die for.
  4. Take me out to the ballgame
    • The bestest way ever to attend a baseball game at Nationals Park (home of the WORLD CHAMPIONS!!) is to ride a bike and park it at the free bike valet on First Street SE.  (It’s in the stadium complex with a big sign. Can’t miss it.) Don’t forget to tip the attendant when you leave.
  5. Ride into the canyon
    • Rock Creek Park is a canyon right in the middle of DC. On weekends and holidays much of the northern part of the park is closed to motor vehicles. And if animals are your thing, you can stop at the National Zoo.
  6. Did someone say cherry blossoms?
    • There is simply no better way to see the cherry blossoms than by bike. If you can get to the Tidal Basin at sunrise, walk your bike around the perimeter of the basin. Be careful not to go snow blind. Then ride to Hains Point. The road is bordered by cherry trees all the way down and back.
    • Ride up the Capital Crescent Trail to the Kenmore neighborhood of Bethesda. Wow.
  7. Did someone say work?
    • Make sure to sign up for Bike to Work Day, the third Friday in May. It’s free. Go to a pitstop, meet people, and pick up some swag and the all-important (it’s still not pink) t-shirt. After work there are happy hours, too. It’s a very cool celebration of bike commuting.
  8. See the entire city
    • Each September, the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA) holds the 50 States Ride. It meanders 60 miles all over the city as riders follow a 10+ page cue sheet to ride on each avenue named for a state. You will meet people. You will get lost. You will probably get rained on. You will have fun. You will get one hell of a work out. (It’s hilly!) Oh, and there’s pizza and beer at the after party.
  9. Check out the monuments
      • The best time to see the monuments is at night. If the gods allow, do it on the night of a full moon in the summer. Keep an eye out for organized rides or just put one together yourself.
  10. Join WABA
    • WABA is our local advocacy organization. With your membership you get access to rides (like the 50 States), resources, and events. Members get discounts at local bike shops so the cost of membership pays for itself.

There are so many other things to do. There’s DC Bike Party, several centuries (and shorter) rides in the country (Backroads, Seagull, and Great Pumpkin are my favorites), and beaucoup opportunities on the C&O Canal (bike camping, sunflowers, White’s Ferry, Harper’s Ferry, and, yes, Pittsburgh!) and the W&OD (coffee, micro breweries, barbecue) to name a few.


Eyes and teeth and knee

So today was a scheduled day for medical appointments. My eye doctor appointment went without a hitch. Given that I’ve had seven eye surgeries this is welcome news indeed. The dentists appointment included one of the most meticulous and painful teeth cleanings I’ve ever had. Dang. The dental tech was new to the office. The end result was worth the pain. The dentists asked me with a smile on his face how it went. The same tech cleaned his teeth two weeks ago. He felt my pain.

The exam included a new set of x-rays. No issues. I brought up a problem with my upper rear teeth that has been bugging me for over a year. From time to time I get a throbbing pain – more discomfort really – and it feels like one or two of my teeth is coming loose. Of course, nothing hurt today. He double checked the x-ray and poked around. His conclusion is that I may have a sinus-related issue. Makes sense. I am allergic to most things smaller than a pea.

To reward myself I had a Gio (Italian) sammich from The Italian Store in Old Town. Then in fit of dietary stupidity I snarfed down three sugar cookies. The resultant insulin rush put me to sleep for an hour.

I awoke and went for a ride on The Mule. In spite of some pain in my left knee and inner thigh, I almost immediately hit 18 on the speedometer. Move over Claudio Chiappucci! After hitting 30 on a downhill I noticed that my odometer had recorded a mile traveled even though I was only a little over a half mile from home.

As someone who ride more like Claudio’s fat uncle, I suspected something was amiss.

I returned home and looked up the re-set procedures for my bicycle computer. Sure enough I had somehow reset miles to kilometers when I put the new battery in last month. By the time I got things squared away I was no longer feeling like riding. So I hung it up. I rationalized that my knee could use a day off.

As far as the stenosis symptoms go, I woke up with pain down my lower left leg. The pain lingered until mid-afternoon. In the evening, I felt totally fine. Could it be that sugar cookies have medicinal properties.

Off to experiment!


15K to the ballpark

I had nothing much to do today and no place to be but the weather was nice so the CrossCheck and I went for a spin along the rivers. A lovely tailwind made me feel like a bicycle god all the way to DC. For once I wasn’t taken in by my ego; I knew the return trip would be a slog.

I managed to ride past the District Wharf without hitting anybody. The cycletrack there is an example of good design intentions gone bad. It’s especially bad at night when intoxicated concert goers and bar patrons wander across the track to catch their Ubers as weed smoke wafts through the night breeze.

I found the new P, Q, and 2nd Street SW cycletracks that go around the perimeter of Fort McNair. They’re all a bit narrow but look promising. You can take P and 2nd  directly to Audi Field to see a soccer, rugby, or football game or onto Q to go to Nats Park. The last bit is a construction sewer, a staging area for the new South Capitol Street Bridge.

The bridge is the latest in several bridge renovations around here. It seems the 60s and 70s were the zenith of ugly infrastructure. It’s as if the designers were angry at ex-presidents so they built them monuments of unsurpassed hideousness. The old Woodrow Wilson Bridge was six lanes of eyesore. It has since been replaced with a new, mega-bridge. (As expected, it took only a decade before it became just as bad a traffic bottleneck as the old one.) The Teddy Roosevelt Bridge truly looks like an act of architectural revenge.

Speaking of renovations, I was a little disappointed that the ballpark was not festooned with WORLD CHAMPION signs. Maybe a WE BEAT THE CHEATERS!!!! sign would look nice somewhere too. If the Asterisks come to town, perhaps we can put up a big neon sign and aim it at their hotel.


On the ride back, the wind didn’t really slow me all that much. About two miles from home. the CrossCheck passed 15,000 miles.


I’ll put it away for a month or so. Time to get The Mule and Little Nellie back in the game.

I have managed to completely blow off my first attempt at the Errandonnee. I still have a few weeks to try again.




For the last 31 years, I have lived within a mile of US Route 1 in Fairfax County, Virginia. Hereabouts Route 1 is known as Richmond Highway because, prior to the building of Interstate 95, it was the main route between the north and the Virginia state capital.

It has been the armpit of the county for most of the time I’ve lived here, lined with predatory lenders, run down motels from the 1940s (or earlier), trailer parks, a staggering number of truly bad restaurants (including the legendary Dixie Pig barbecue joint), and some rowdy clubs including the long-gone Hillbilly Heaven owned by Dan Ackroid’s in-laws.

For many decades, the county stupidly used the Richmond Highway corridor as a money pit for haphazard development. It became a crime-ridden traffic sewer, a road to avoid. People who live along the highway are disproportionately poor people of color. They rely on buses and shoe leather to get around and a disturbing number of them have paid with their lives trying to cross the six to eight lanes of vehicular mayhem.

In recent years, the county finally realized that this mess could be fixed with some long range planning including dense development and a bus rapid transit line that may one day, long after I am pushing up daisies, morph into a Metro rail line.

A big part of the redevelopment is to turn sections of the highway into mini-cities with mid rise apartments, street level shops, and such. The intersection of US 1 and Kings Highway was one such mini-city. Last week, an apartment and retail building that was under construction there caught fire. The five-alarm blaze burned for hours. It sent up a smoke plume that rivaled that of the Pentagon on 9/11. (I know because I rode under the 9/11 smoke plume on my way home.) The plume showed up on weather radar and extended well into southern Maryland.

The intersection is on the far side of Beacon Hill, the highest point between Richmond and DC. I decided to test my recovery by riding to it.

The ride up the hill proved to me that yesterday’s two-mile walk didn’t affect my recovery adversely. My lungs,on the other hand, could use some work. It’s one tough haul up that beast.

Below are a few pictures of the devastation. The construction site spanned a residential street. Along one side it was attached to a huge concrete parking garage. Note that in Virginia tall residential and mixed use buildings can be stick built above the ground floor. As you can see there is nothing left of the building above its first floor. On the other side of the street, the building is simply gone. Townhouses that were already completed seemed to have survived but they were closed, probably from smoke and heat damage inside. An new apartment complex (not shown) that ran the length of the project also seemed not to have burned but many of its units were boarded up as well. A few single family homes of recent vintage had significant heat damage to their vinyl siding.

How depressing.

I rode on afterward hoping to give my back a bit of a reprieve from the climb. I meandered north into the Eisenhower Valley, Old Town, and Del Ray neighborhoods of Alexandria city. Then I toured the sound wall along scenic I-395 to the Pentagon and past the 9/11 crash site. There’s a rather interesting memorial at the site but it’s hard to see because the Pentagon is building some sort of secure freight screening facility and there are fences and other obstructions between the highway and the memorial.

My ride took me to the Lincoln Memorial and down the National Mall. Big mistake. The joint was packed with Presidents Day weekend tourists. At a traffic light I chatted with two tourists from Boulder, Colorado. They were on rental e-scooters. They said I was brave to be riding in this traffic. (They’d really freak out during a weekday!)

I made a brief tour of The Wharf where there were hundreds of people milling about. Then I headed back across the river and down the Mount Vernon Trail to home.

The entire trip was 33 miles. Virtually pain free but for the lung sucking I did climbing Beacon Hill.


Taking Steps

So a week has passed since Doctor Evil injected my spine with cortisone. I shudder just thinking about the electric shocks ripping down my left leg. The after-care notes I was given at the doctor’s office warn that the effect of the medicine will not appear for a week to ten days. A friend told me of someone who didn’t feel any change for a full two weeks.

Not much had changed over the first four or five days but I decided to try doing some very gentle physical therapy exercises designed specifically for stenosis. I have my doubts about PT but my friend Ed told me yesterday that he did PT for stenosis without shots with success. (His nerve issues produced different symptoms. For example, I couldn’t stand for any length of time; he couldn’t sit. He said it took a year to get his pain under control. (One odd commonality in our cases is the fact that we both have asymmetric depressions in our leather saddles. This means that our sit bones push into the saddle more on one side than the other.)

I honestly can’t tell if the exercises are doing anything, but they are low risk and only take ten minutes to do. I do them twice a day,

Yesterday, I braved below freezing wind chills to ride to Friday Coffee Club. I had no troubles on the bike. I was very much aware that seven days had passed since the shots. And I am pleased to report that I stood for a half hour with no discomfort at all. I eventually ended up sitting but it was a choice not a need.

Image may contain: sky, cloud, tree, outdoor and nature
On the way home. Note the flags at the base of the monument. 

I rode home in even colder wind chills. The ride across the river had a nasty cross wind that cut right through my neck gaiter. The right side of my face was nearly numb by the time I reached Virginia. Fortunately, I had the wind at my back for most of the last 12 miles home. I could tell how tough it was for DC-bound riders by the look on my friend Joe’s face just south of the bridge. Then a few minutes later another DC-bound rider yelled, “Hi John!” as she rode past. She too was freezing, but a smile betrayed her Hoosier upbringing. (Winds in Indiana are often so strong they moan.) I said “Hi, Laura” back but she couldn’t hear me.

About five miles from home I came upon an e-biker. He was covered in black except for space age reflective goggles across his eyes. He looked like an extra from The Fly. He did not say “Help me!” in a high-pitched squeaky voice.

Last night I walked to and from a restaurant with no cane. No problems. Today I awoke and felt totally limber. I was standing straighter. My back and hips felt relaxed.

After puttering around the house all morning, I took the back by the cane as it were and headed over to Huntley Meadows Park to go for a walk. The park has a flat. unpaved trail that leads to a boardwalk through a marsh. It’s a great place to chill out. On a day like today the chilling was literal and figurative.

I brought my cane to be on the safe side. I managed to get over a half mile before I started using it. Again, it was not out of need. It was just seemed easier to use it than to carry it.

I made it about a mile before is started getting some very mild discomfort on the outside of my lower left leg. It never progressed into pain. I walked two miles in all and maintained proper walking mechanics. In fact, I had trouble keeping my walking pace down. My legs wanted to rumble. When I finished I noticed that my lower back didn’t stiffen up. 

I did feel a hot spot on my left hip and the continuation of discomfort in my lower leg when I got home but I still regard today’s walk step in the right direction.


Rosanne Rosannadanna phone home

I’m five days removed from the cortisone injections in my spine. I should start noticing some effects in a few days.

I’ve ridden my recumbent bike and my CrossCheck twice each. Until today I was having no problems. I have stayed off my feet as much as possible to let the steroid do its thing. So it’s not surprising that I have had no pain.

Today, about an hour into my indoor recumbent ride, I experienced a sharp pain in my left knee. It felt very different from the various kinds of knee pain I’ve had over the last year. I think it’s an iliotibial band strain, the result of doing no stretching for three weeks.

It’s always something.

The cortisone shots have some interesting side effects. I had a pretty good headache the night of the injections. And then my face turned beet red the next day. The illness that I had last week seems to be lingering, perhaps a result of transitory immune suppression.

Yesterday I went to the drug store. It’s transitioning from one national chain to another. I had to wait in lines twice, perhaps for a total of 15 to 20 minutes. I had no trouble with my lower back or left leg.

Tonight and tomorrow I am attending events in the city. I’ll be interested to see how my leg and back do. I’m bringing my cane just in case

The beneficial effect of the steroid injections should start kicking in this weekend.





A Little to the Left, Doctor

I noticed a sore throat coming on a few days ago. I thought it was just the aftereffects of a smoggy temperature inversion the likes of which Los Angeles had not seen since, well, Monday. No such luck. I had a full on head cold on Wednesday. I treated it with extensive napping, Netflix (Philadelphia), and, very unwisely, a bottle of Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon.

I slept not a wink Wednesday night. After my bi-weekly diner breakfast with Mrs. Rootchopper, we went to the library while our house was being cleaned. I put on my headphones, played some woo woo music, and promptly fell sound (and I do mean sound) asleep. Two hours later we went home.

The weather outside was cold and wet so I rode Big Nellie in the basement. (For the uninitiated, Big Nellie is my recumbent bicycle which I have attached to a resistance trainer. Get your heads out of the gutter, people.)

Later that night I took a couple of Nyquils and fell into a deep slumber.

This morning I woke up groggy and stayed that way through four cups of coffee. I then went to the physiatrist, also known as the pain doctor. After a bit of a wait, the doctor came in dressed in black. She had on what appeared to be a black butcher’s apron over her black outfit. I was half expecting her to speak with James Earl Jones’s voice. With an incongruous smile she said, “You’re on deck.”

Oh joy.

Soon I was escorted into white room which contained what appeared to be a giant white C-clamp from Goldfinger’s laboratory.

No, Mr. Rootchopper, I expect you to die!

This fluoroscope is an x-ray device used to guide the doctor to the appropriate trouble areas of the spine. I lay face down on a padded black table, my face in a donut shaped extension which allowed me to do such helpful things as breath, drool, and, as it turned out, cry out for my Mommy. The doctor’s assistant (what is the female of Igor anyway?) positioned a small padded chair for me to place my hands on.

After the assistant used freezing cold solutions to clean and disinfect my lower back, the doctor came in and fine tuned the position of the fluoroscope. The doctor mentioned that, as we discussed in our previous meeting, I have a transitional (i.e., abnormal) lumbar spine, one with an extra vertebra. I was relieved that the doctor was taking care to find the right section of my spine to inject.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted two needles that looked somewhat like artillery shells in my doctors gloved hand.

I. Am. So. Screwed.

Then the poking began.

The first few needle insertions felt like getting a flu shot. Not so bad.

Then the money shots into the spinal canal, no doubt, started.

One after the other. A series of, I think, four shots into my spine. The first shot sent an electric shock down a nerve in my left leg. My hands clenched together on the seat beneath my head. I tried to breathe meditatively to disassociate my mind from the pain, from the anticipation of the next shot. I told the doctor that she had the correct spot as the electric shock exactly matched the pain I have been experiencing for months.

Then came the second shot. Fuck all! That hurt. So much for breathing techiniques.

I groaned. The doctor apologized. Then she said, “Take a deep breath. Now, let it out slowly.” (She was on to me.)

The third shot was doozy. OWWW.


Then the piece de resistance. The mother of all injections. It sent a bolt of pain straight through my butt, my knee, my calf, into my ankle and foot. Had I not had my hands clenched together, I’d have come off the table.


Done. The doctor left. (I swear she said, “BWA HA HA!” under her voice as she exited.

I sat up. My left leg was numb from my hip to my toes. I gingerly plopped into a wheel chair and was rolled out into the waiting room. I struck up a conversation with a forty something man who had a walker. He was a retired Marine who had 16 years of pain after 20 years of service. The VA and Walter Reed had done all they could for him. He’d had the same injections that I had. “I can’t have any more,” he said.

As he rose to go into the examining area, he turned and quietly said, “Oorah.”

Semper fi, dude.

Count your lucky stars, I thought.

The feeling in my leg returned in stages beginning in my foot and working its way up. I left with only a slight numbness in my thigh after 50 minutes.

I refrained from leaping for joy and yelling “I’M CURED!!!” Mostly because the doctor’s self care sheet said the shot wouldn’t really take effect for a week to ten days. I can take OTC pain killers. I must keep a day-by-day account of my pain progress. In a month I go back to Dr. Pain to see if I need another set of injections. 

I hope not.

Before I forget, I need to welcome back Jessica from her adventures around the Pacific Rim. I started nearly every day of this pain party reading one of her upbeat posts on Facebook, often documenting her doing inane things such as rolling down a hill in a giant translucent ball or lowering herself into a Viet Cong tunnel. From time to time, she recapped her antics in her blog, which I highly recommend. Thanks for keeping my spirits up, Jessica.