Terii’s Cycling Babble

And He’s Back!
July 19, 2019, 8:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, it was a bit chaotic.

Went to the animal hospital around 10 am. Wound up being there for SIX HOURS. Loke was pretty stressed about it, not that I blame him. I wound up laying on the floor in the exam room part of the time because it was the only way to stop him trying to climb in my lap or attempt to pace around on the painful foot. When I did that, he’d lay down and doze by my side.

The vet who initially took our case was a bit peeved with me, I think. After looking at the foot and deciding that they’d take x-rays, she gave him a general exam. Immediately, she voiced a concern that, as bad as the paw was, Loke objected less to her handling it than he did her palpitations of his abdomen. When I told her, Loke had been like that for months (unhappy when someone squished his tummy), she asked what it was.

I explained that we’d not done any tests on it. When it was first brought to light, Loke was at the verge of death and I wasn’t about to inflict additional procedures that would stress him just to find out… what? That he had cancer? Cancer that I wouldn’t have allowed chemo or surgery to treat and make his last days a misery? Why do it to him?

Then he recovered in most part from what nearly killed him back in 2018, but his energy was decent, his appetite was OUT of this world, and he was generally happy. But I still wasn’t going to torture my dog with procedures that would make him miserable for a few months more of lingering existence if they did find something. So, I was just aware of the abdominal pain and watching it for when it might be time to say farewell in the most dignified and graceful way.

Even with that explanation, I think it offended the vet’s sensitivities that I didn’t go digging into my dog to find out. Fortunately, Loke’s usual vets are all on my side with the matter. Honestly, her attitude annoy me rather than shamed me or made me upset. It’s my dog and I’m struggling to do what’s best for HIM. Not me and my desire for him to live forever, but for HIM and what time he has left.

As the day and hours wore on, they couldn’t really make up their mind what they wanted to do. X-rays to look for left over pieces of the thorn. No, they were just gonna jump right into surgery to dig for thorn bits. No, dose him with antibiotics (even though he’s got resistant strains of bacteria) and do ultra-sound on his foot and torso on Monday when the ultrasound team gets back to work.

Finally, it was the last option the vet went with. Antibiotics made me a bit nervous. What if I brought Loke home and they weren’t working? It was possible Jens and I would have a dog screaming in the middle of the night as his foot swelled to the size of a football because the super-bug infection was out of control.

Not to mention, Loke isn’t typically settled in our apartment. He lurches and scrambles desperately to his feet every time Jens and I so much as blink. He paces around because he’s bored, but he can’t do anything long enough to relieve the tedium. Not like he can take a 5 mile walk or trike jog. Half a mile and he’s barely able to stand, but 20 minutes later in the apartment, he’s pacing. And if we tried to restrict his movements? That would just frustrate and freak him out and he’d end up hurting himself worse. Then, there was also the fact that we’d have to wrestle in up and down the stairs for bathroom breaks. At the hospital, it’s all one level, and just a few short steps to a ‘potty yard’ from where they contain the dogs.

Better he stay at the vets where they could monitor the progress of the antibiotics vs infection. He’d be contained in a small space, but more likely to accept. He’s been at the vet before with their cages, he knows how it goes. At home he’s almost always free and expects, nay, DEMANDS it. Also, they could give him better pain meds there than we’d be allowed to bring him.

So, Sunday when I got a call from a vet, there’d really been no significant change in the foot. At least it wasn’t worse. Loke was just chillin’ in his cage watching the world go by as he stayed off the foot. They’d done x-rays which found nothing in foot or abdomen, but woody items can often be hard to spot in x-ray along with soft tissue issues. They wanted to do an ultra sound on Monday. Fine.

The vet offered to let Loke come home, but since it was reported that he was so calm and willing to just lay around off the foot, I was more inclined to let him stay there. Jens felt bad about it, feeling as if we’d abandoned Loke somehow, but I kept reminding him about how Loke would be jumping up every time we moved and being a bully which involves standing up, woofing at us as he stomps his feet.

Monday, July 15th, the call was a bit later in coming, almost 3 pm instead of about lunch. The news was good. The infection had responded to antibiotics, so the swelling was down, Loke was walking and standing on it with barely a limp at all. Ultrasound had found nothing in foot or in Loke’s torso so there was no explanation of the abdominal pain. The same abdominal pain that the current vet (3rd since bringing Loke in) could find no hint of even when she pushed around on his stomach. Needless to say, she was baffled.

So, Loke was good to come  home.

Went to pick him and he simply did not care about me. Didn’t look at me. Just loved on the vet and pretended I didn’t exist. Then it got even worse. I called Jens as I jumped in the car as I drove out of the parking lot, trying to communicate with my hubby, I was distracted by a sound. It was a barely audible whine. I stopped to look at Loke and yep, it was coming from him rather than being some odd car noise.

What on earth!? I couldn’t figure out if I should run back in with him to ask about it or just suck it up. I came home. Oh, it only got worse. Loke whined louder and it was fairly constant. He was perky, plenty of energy, wasn’t limping, didn’t care if we poked at his tummy. He’d gone to the bathroom plenty, fresh water, even gave him extra food in the hopes of SHUTTING HIM UP. Nope.

Then the bullying began which was essentially a louder whine with a bit of pitiful howl thrown in as he stood staring at us with huge, intense eyes and lots of energy. Jens wondered if one of his roommates at the hospital had taught him.

Honestly, I started to wonder if his problem was that he was desperate for another fix of the good drugs. Had 3 days in the  hospital on opiate painkillers turned my 14 year old husky into a junkie??

Fortunately, the furball kinda settled down once we brushed our teeth, turned out all the lights and went to bed. Every now and again, there was this faint whine, barely audible, that would thread through the apartment.

Whatever it was, it did lessen over the next few days. Now, Loke is back to normal and the owies on his feet look healed enough that I no longer need to bother with wrapping his foot to keep it dry and clean.

I might even be feeling confident enough that he’s back to normal to try a ride somewhere. Maybe even load the trike up on the rack and take it somewhere for a test.

Then, I can decide if I want to beat my head over the options of upgrades for my big number birthday.

So Much To Catch Up On
July 13, 2019, 6:58 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yes, I’ve been very quiet. No riding really.

My relationship with my trike has gotten complicated and burdened down with heavy layers of guilt.

Let’s kinda start from… well, the start. I was doing so good with the gym and my kettlebells, my fitness was improving.

Shrinking hips brought up a complication. The pedal boom on my Sprint 26 is pushed in just about as far as it can go. If my hips shrink much more, I’d need to move the boom in again to keep the pedals a proper distance. If I move the boom in further, my heels are going to start hitting the crossbars of the trike’s front wheels.

Now, there are ‘adapters’ that ICE sells to push the seat a bit forward for short people like me, but I hesitate to go that route since that would put my weight more forward, between the front wheels and less on the back wheel. That would mean less traction. That back wheel already slips quite a bit. I’d hate to have to walk up every single slope of greater than 5% with gravel because of that.

The new model Sprint (Sprint X Tour), has curved crossbars leaving more space between the pedals and bars for short people like me. Hence, my decision to get a new trike, beyond the ‘Oooh! New Pretty!’ impulse.

So, when Jens asked what I wanted for my birthday, I told him.

It was shocking how badly that went over. My husband has in the past been my biggest supporter and cheerleader for my obsession. Crawled out of bed at 4 am to drive me out to the countryside for all tours. Drove across multiple countries of Europe so I’d have my trike to ride for me to enjoy the holiday more. Let me buy stuff right and left for camping tours with hardly a blink of an eye though I’ve not gotten out the door for a tour in YEARS.

This time, it just upset him. He railed about the difficulties transporting the trike in the car without damaging the interior. He growled about the trike restricted the kinds of cars we could get. He was tired of SUVs and wagons. He wanted a NICE car. Tired of SUVs? Since WHEN!? Most of the time I’ve had to argue against buying some monstrous tank of an SUV. Now it’s an issue?

He hated the Sprint especially, with it’s big 26 inch wheel. Was the next trike going to have the same big wheel?! When I pointed out that I needed that big wheel to keep the derailleur out of snow and ice, he snapped back with ‘As if you’ve needed that this last winter! You barely rode!’

That all really stung. I never knew it bothered him that much. I mean, yeah it clearly irritated him at times, but that it was just the softened topping on a deeper ranker and frustration blindsided me.

And that comment about the big wheel being unnecessary was really unfair. Yeah, I’d barely ridden since the New Year, but that hardly negates the 7 years I DID ride in snowy weather. He knew why I’d practically stopped riding in January. Loke.

Now, much as this came as a shock to me and left a bit of a sting, I have to say that Jens’ frustrations are completely and utterly justified. My trike and my obsession to ride and transport it to ride in new places has dictated a huge amount of our lives. It has controlled not only the cars we buy, but where we live, apartments we’ve considered for moving to, our vacations. Even the dog we chose.

So, I started racking my brain for solutions. Perhaps drum brakes? With drum brakes, I could remove the front wheels and the trike wouldn’t sit quite so high in the car. Most often, it’s been interior ceiling clearance for the folded height of the trike that led us to pass on some cars.

I thought seriously enough on that possibility I even asked the guys at ICE if my old Trice’s drum brakes could be moved to my Sprint as a test run. The answer was yes, but I’d need to order a new ‘king post’ for one side. I talked to Bobby (Sweden’s most awesome bike mechanic) if he’d be able to do the work and he was down right enthusiastic.

Then I considered an issue I’ve been having with my trike of late. The GEARS. OMG! They’re driving me bonkers since that ride on the rail trail back in April. Slipping and skipping.

Maybe, just maybe I could consider getting an internal geared hub? That would mean less mess to potentially be smeared around in a new car too. No big derailleur hanger taking up space. No big derailleur hanger to get mysteriously bent or twisted or both. Consistent gear steps! Oooh, that sounded so nice!

I threw myself into research. My main hesitations with committing to the idea was cost, weight, and would the lowest of the 14 gears been easy enough to get up steep hills while loaded with camping year. See, I still haven’t given up on that!

The low gear is one of the biggest hesitations. If I tried to go for a front chain ring smaller than 34 teeth (current is 22), I risk excessive torque on the gear hub. It could even negate the warranty.

All other reports I’ve gotten about the Rohloff hub have been glowing though. One of the FB group has a triple ring on his, but he’s crazy fit with good knees even being a grandfather. People have told me of riding 10,000+ miles and still going strong with no issues. Just the occasional oil change.

I really like the idea of no longer dealing the the aggravation of gears gone sloppy and replacing a derailleur hanger multiple times a year because I somehow managed to bend it. Gearing issues have plagued me much of the 14+ years of riding. It would be so sweet to be done with it.

Another thing I also put forth to Jens again was a hitch rack. Imagine, getting any car he wanted as long as it had a hitch to put a rack on. No dinging up the interior of the car at all.

When I’ve suggested such in the past, it was met with flat refusal. This time, he entertained it and I started researching that. An external solution would offer greater possibilities. Like, if I don’t fold the trike, then maybe I wouldn’t need a Rohloff hub. Pretty sure most of the gearing mess ups happen with the folding and loading and unloading regardless of how careful I’ve always struggled to be. I could even keep disc brakes if I wanted. Surprisingly, I found myself kinda mixed about giving up drum brakes.

I found what seemed to be a good rack made especially for trikes and was about to pull the trigger on it, when reality slapped me in the face. I asked Jens if we had a receiver hitch or a ball hitch. He said it was a ball hitch, but he had no idea what a receiver hitch was.

Turns out, receiver hitches are not a thing in Sweden. We would have to special order one from the US and then find a place that could install it without destroying the car in question.

But that gave Jens a push and he actually started researching racks on his own. Bike racks. He found a type that said he’d be willing to try if I thought there was even a possibility it would work. We settled on a Thule bike rack made to carry 3.

It took a couple weeks before I was sure of which type and was willing to get one and make a go. Jens’ dad helped us. You know, it turned out to be ridiculously EASY?! The only modification I need to make is some padding and add some horseshoe locks to keep someone from wandering off with the trike.

Jens was actually pleased! “I can’t believe we didn’t try this sooner!” he declared.

I kept my mouth shut about how I’d suggested trying such many times over the years. I pick my battles.

That was a rough go for me though and for a while I almost hated my trike and considered just getting rid of it all… about a few minutes. Not long enough for me actually put it into action thankfully.

Then the other layer of guilt has been Loke. He’s old, he can’t be left alone much. I feel crushing guilt if I take more than an hour running errands let alone jumping on my trike for a 3+ hour ride with Jens at work.

Loke’s been declining and hasn’t been able to really go with the trike at all either. Even a ‘short toodle’ of 3 miles would break him. The day we tried the bike rack, I rode my poor neglected trike to the garage with Loke. Just about half a mile and it took us more than 20 minutes even when Loke tried to go faster.

So, I’ve pretty much been feeling like my whole life is just on pause, waiting for Loke to pass. Kinda left with a sense of being trapped in truth.

That said, any who read this in the next few days, keep your fingers crossed for my old furball. A couple days ago, I pulled a thorn out of Loke’s food. It was over half an inch long. I don’t mean, a half-inch long thorn had about 1/8th of an inch stuck in his foot. I mean the thorn was IN his foot.

The next morning, he was limping worse. So, off to the vet for a 4 pm appointment squeezed in we went. The vet shaved the foot and flushed the wound out, but decided against cutting the thorn’s path open to heal that way. I should have insisted she do that. I just didn’t want to cause Loke more pain. She seemed certain it would heal fine.

Loke didn’t seem to feel better. Indeed, it seemed he was actually starting to feel worse, but I passed it off as ‘Well, he had a needle stuck in the wound 4-5 times to flush it out with saline’. I should have listened to the whisper of my instincts.

This morning the foot is swollen and I’m wondering if Loke’s passing isn’t going to be allergies, age, a superbug, or neurological issues, but… a thorn. Just waiting until the animal hospital opens to take him there and hope for the best.

I may feel trapped, but I don’t want my constant companion of 14 years to die either. Not to something as silly as a thorn.