Terii’s Cycling Babble

Another Scare
September 25, 2017, 7:50 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

The day after my last post, I headed out the door for another ride. That meant 3 days between rides actually. A combination of weather, chores, and Jens off and away with the car in Stockholm.

I think I even managed a bit more work on the shoes, yet hoping for perfection. Still, the improvement with the feet had given me a bounce for riding again. So, on the 13th, Jens dropped us off at the garage as I gave in to the restless need to ride. It was gray with no sun though patches of blue peeked between the gray clumps of cloud. At 50 F, I needed wool beneath my cycle top at least.

A splash of autumn color.

There were patches of color popping out on a few of the trees. Sadly, it appeared the color on the birches isn’t going to come into full force as the leaves are throwing themselves to the ground practically as they turn yellow. Pity, I adore golden birch trees.

In spite of some discomfort in his shoulders that morning, Loke kept a fairly decent clip of about 6.2 mph. Any attempt to take him slower earned me nasty looks with an irritated cant to his ears before throwing his weight against the harness.

To my annoyance didn’t seem to be much improvement in my right foot’s comfort level after all my hard work the previous. As I pedaled along, trying to figure out why getting my cleat down almost a quarter inch didn’t feel any different, it occurred to me it’s my RIGHT foot. The stroke affected the right side of my body. Got me wondering how much of what I was feeling was some kind of nerve damage rather than incompatible cleat positioning.

The cooler air has me starting to ponder winter solutions. Moving cleats is all fine and good when I can wear my standard trike shoes, but once the cold becomes an issue, the combat against frost bite solutions vs foot-suck safety will begin once more. Not the most enjoyable conflict especially since my hip problems at the end of 2016 accelerated when I started using the flat pedals with the straps.

After that ride, it was a barrage of vet visits for Loke again. I don’t think I mentioned about the eye thing which has gone on for over 2 weeks now. I’m not sure why I’ve not done so. Anyway, earlier in the month, the lump on Loke’s left eyelid, which has existed at a set size for years, decided to start swelling. It swelled quick too. In just 2 days I was worried it might start pushing on his eye and it was very likely obscuring a significant part of his vision in the lower part.

Off to the clinic. Frans was the one to see  him and numbed the eye before fiddling with it. It appeared that the sebaceous gland which is what is making the lump had gotten some kind of infection in it. Frans managed to squeeze some of the gunk out of it and prescribed an antibiotic eye cream that we hoped would work.

It did. The lump reduced quite a bit, though was still slightly larger than it was before going all wonky. Frans prescribed a cortisone eye drop for a week. That worked even better. By the last day’s dose, the lump was even smaller than it’s been since it first appeared years ago.

I’m glad I’ve kept an eye on the lump, even having the vets check it during most visits. But since the infection, we started talking in terms of getting it removed. If it’s going to become unpredictable and causing issues, it’s probably best not to leave it. The problem was the size of it. The typical method of removing such is just to cut it away, skin and all and stitch it closed. That won’t work with Loke’s. It would require a complex surgery to try rebuilding a false lower eyelid because so much would be taken away. That could easily lead to complications. So, the smaller we get it, the better it might be.

Okay, that’s the eye stuff caught up on.

Even though I had such a great ride the previous time, feet doing pretty good and no problems with the hip, I’ve found myself in an annoying kind of funk. Everything is just ‘meh’. I feel restless, but no motivation. Nothing keeps my attention. So, over the course of the 4 days between the ride on the 13th and finally again on the 18th, I kept thinking to myself, ‘I should go ride.’ An hour later, ‘Oh, yeah. I should get dressed and go ride.’ A time later, again. Just couldn’t actually get myself moving to do it.

On the 18th, what actually spurred me out the door to ride was purpose. Though I had the car and it would have been easy enough to go ‘Meh, I’ll just drive there’, I managed to hold the course and dressed for us to go via trike. With the hubby in Copenhagen on business, a bit of a brisk walk or (hopefully) a jog with the trike would be good since there’s no long walk for him with ‘daddy’.

The day was gray and chill, and as soon as I stepped out, I knew I was a bit under dressed. With the temps around 49 F and completely lacking sun, I should have had on my thin wool under my tights with my 150 gram weight wool layer under my top instead of the 100 gram. I didn’t feel there was time enough to run in and add the layers. It’s always uncertain how Loke’s going to go on runs so I wanted him to have plenty of time.

I needn’t have really worried. Maybe because of the chill, Loke was in a frenzy of excitement as I dressed, he even yodeled at me as I got everything settled. I can’t remember the last time he did that. I think he’s given a bossy ‘woof’ once, but been more than a year since he actually did a proper excited husky yodel. Even more, he did a couple of kangaroo hops as we crossed the lawn and then proceeded to drag into a bit of run. He hit 13 mph for the first time this year.

Loke was Mr. Zippy for most of the rest of the way too. The harness jingling along as he kept me and trike cruising at about 7 mph for most of the time. For an almost 2 mile stretch, he even had me going over 8 mph. It’s great to see such energy out of him on an outing.

There was absolutely no wind, which was nice and not just because I was cold. It meant those fibreglass like seed fluffs didn’t get blown around. They were just sitting, waiting for a breath of air to carry them away from their parent plants to torment innocent pedestrians or cyclists.

This is the river, not a pond or puddle.

How the Fyris river SHOULD look.

Loke was making such good time, that I added extra distance in a few spots. One of them was to follow the river extension all the way to the end. As we passed one section where I could actually see down to the water, I was shocked. All the way across, it was covered in green. Not sure if it was algae or duckweed, but I do know, I’ve never seen any part of the river like that, not in all the years I’ve been riding up and down along it. Goes to show how the scarcity of rain has left the Fyris River practically stagnant.

The purpose of the vet visit was for Frans to look at Loke’s eye again and discuss our options in depth. He decided Loke should get more of the cortisone drops in hopes of reducing it even further. He also thinks it’s possible to use another method than the usual one to remove the gland. Cut a slice in the skin and scoop it out, leaving most of said skin in place.

Though if it gets small enough, another option could be to just leave it. We could chance that maybe it won’t swell again or get another infection as it’s been problem free for so many years before this. Loke’s 12 so it’s a possibility, he could be unbothered with it for what time he has.

He had blood was taken as well, for follow up checks for his anemia, skewed Folic Acid levels, and B-12 deficiency. Hopefully those values will have improved, though since Loke’s anemia has held steady for a year, I don’t expect that to have changed. Frans also wanted to double check Loke’s liver and kidney values in case we decide to go through with the eye surgery.

As we stepped out of the clinic to roll back toward home, the receptionist came out with her dog for a potty-break. I was so thrilled to finally meet her new puppy! A 52 kg (114 lbs) Irish Wolfhound. She’s about a year old and still growing. I’ve never gotten to actually meet an Irish Wolfhound, only see them from distances of 30 feet or more.

She was soooooo sweet! And HUGE. I mean, logically I knew she was big and the breed is big, but to actually have her leaning against me and giving me slobbery smoochies, it gives a whole new perspective on ‘big’. A couple of Jack Russel puppies also joined in the fun, hopping on my feet in an attempt to get their share of attention as well. Cuteness overload!

The jaunt back home was uneventful. Loke went along with brisk enthusiasm, sporting an acid green wrap on his right front leg where blood had been drawn. We arrived at home with roughly 7 miles. Under dressed as I’d been, I curled up with my electric blanket while Loke gobbled down an extra scoop of kibble.

Not sure why, but I wound up with 4 ride-less days once more. Part of it was weather, I’m sure. We’ve been getting rain and it’s been in the 50’s F for most of the time. I was aiming to do the 18-20+ mile route on Saturday though. We had no plans with other people for the weekend. Jens was going to be home for both days. The forecast was decent at partly sunny and temps in the low 60’s F. I announced what I was going to be doing on Saturday and Jens agreed.

So, Saturday, September 23rd, came and… it was disheartening from the start. The sky looked like the surface of poured lead, heavy murky gray, as a misting drizzle spitted down. It was about 48 F when I took Loke out to do business at 7 am. Also, and most annoying, my hip was hurting the most it’s done in months. Not quite to the point of limping, but far from being comfortable. All of that combined went a long way to take the wind out of my sails.

It wound up that I was too restless to not keep edging toward going in spite of my lack of motivation. Finally, I stepped out the door at about 9:20 am. I’d wanted to get an earlier start for the long ride as I wasn’t sure how Loke and I were going to do. At roughly 20 miles, I didn’t want to be still pedaling at 7 pm or something silly. Granted, Jens was home to come get us, but I wanted to actually do a loop.

Then it occurred to me, I could head that way and if I decided it wasn’t going well, then we could turn off to do my old Vaksala/Granby loop. It’s roughly 10 miles depending on how I go at certain points at the beginning and toward the end.

Lovely cottage and autumn tree.

I wasn’t even on the trike before I started questioning if I’d even be able to do a short 3 mile loop. Just walking to my ride had my right foot cramping, making me limp, which in turn made my hip hurt even worse. Still, I was determined to take the furry one for at least a quick run. I gritted my teeth and settled in. At least the drizzling mist (misty drizzle?) had slacked off though everything in the distance had a haze.

It was a nightmare for the first mile. I had to unclip my right foot 3 times. Then, I don’t know why, it stopped and my feet were fine. A bit more wiggling around eased my hip somewhat, so I pushed off toward Gamla Uppsala, figuring I could do the grave mound loop if my other two choices were going to be too much.

This is it?!

Besides, there was also a Vendeltid exhibition supposed to be going on at the mounds. I was curious to at least take a quick look at it. We rolled through the area by the mounds and museum about 10 am. It didn’t look as if they had everything set up yet. There was one little awning up with a table beneath it holding like a helmet and a few other, smaller things, a viking style tent with a cook fire set up in front of it and about 2 dozen people wandering around there and the museum area in archaic Scandinavian clothing.

Loke and I did just a quick loop through there, not stopping as there seemed to be nothing more to see. Besides, I was curious how the autumn colors were progressing outside the residential areas of Uppsala. In town, the colors are fairly intense in spots, but that’s just the nature of the trees planted in places. I’m pretty sure they were chosen both for their shade properties for summer and their tendency to color for autumn.

Every example of this tree has this blight on the leaves. Can’t be good.

The countryside tends to tell a different story as the distribution of tree species is somewhat down to nature in many places.

The fuzzy had been fairly perky for that part of the ride which is a section of hamster track, but when we turned north, he was even more interested as we’ve not gone that way in some months. Actually, I can’t remember when we last did the Vaksala/Granby loop.

Loke’s speed was pretty good, but as I did timing calculations in my head about the longer route, concerns about how my hip was going to hold up continued to intrude. Probably helped along by the twinges of pain it insisted on thrusting upon my consciousness.

No more booms and rail crossing. Feels so weird.

As we came down the long-ish hill toward where the rail crossing used to be (weird that it’s gone after so many years), I decided to just take the turn toward Vittulsberg and head toward Vaksala.

Pretty autumn road

Loke was thrilled with the choice, even pulling into a run as we headed down the underpass beneath the rail tracks. It was nice to be out in the country and on a road that is one of my favorites, especially in the winter.

Ruined I tell you. Ruined!

Turns out though, it’s lost about a mile of its charm. I’ve loved how the trees clustered the way, some of them older growth and the charm of traditional Swedish stake fences along the sides in spots. Oh, especially in winter, all draped in snow. Just… stunning.

Well, a fair portion of it has been pretty much clear cut. An old tree or two left here or there and some leafy twigs of what remains of undergrowth standing among the stumps, churned dirt, and stacked logs. The lovely shade of the trees gone. Just an exposed scab of scarred earth at the road’s edge now. It made what was a lovely, pleasant way to go into something just to get through. Left me quite bummed in truth.

If I had to guess, someone with an eye to ‘development’ thought, ‘What a lovely spot! I know! Let’s remove everything that makes it great and slap some houses in so others can enjoy it!’ Enjoy what? Cookie-cutter houses with no charm and completely lacking trees?

Interesting and pretty.

As if Uppsala’s growing pains haven’t been bad enough with hideous bricks of apartment complexes popping up like this year’s bizarre density of mushrooms. At least the mushrooms are interesting and even sometimes, pretty.

At least on the road before that butchered stretch remained pretty and even blushed with some autumn colors here and there.

With the temperature bouncing between about 48 F and 51 F, the humidity so high that moisture condensed on everything including hair, fabric, skin and fur, I was quite chilled as we scuttled across the busy road to the cycle path that heads up toward Vaksala church. Starbucks hot chocolate from the mall sounded like just the perfect thing. Or at least it would once I answered a desperate call of nature.

That was best done at Vaksala church proper. The clean and comfortable little bathrooms tucked into the charming 17th century building that sits just outside the graveyard walls. From there, it was a quick dash back over the 288 where I followed the re-routed cycle path around yet ANOTHER upgrowth of an unattractive apartment building going up to the mall.

From an architectural aesthetics perspective, I’m really in the wrong century. Modern buildings are hideous to me. Victorian age structures, much lovelier. Of course, I don’t think these apartments are meant to be attractive. Just go up fast.

I parked right up against the Starbucks window so Loke and I could see each other as I dashed in. I’m friendly with all the baristas there and when one of them gave my clothes a curious look I pointed her gaze in the direction of Loke. She was quite charmed by what she saw, adoring huskies as she does.

Once I was back in the trike, I continued on at a slow amble. Strange looks followed us. A plump woman in a rolling arm chair with pedals accompanied by a white husky while sipping a Starbucks’ hot beverage. What’s strange about that?

The rest of the way back to the storage was uneventful. I rolled to a stop with 11 miles on the nose. Loke was disappointed it was over, even woofing at me to turn the trike around and go some more.

Jens had been called though and I pushed the trike in and settled back in the seat to wait for pick up. I had unclipped the furry one and played out some length of his leash so he could move about a bit as we waited.

Loke had moved to stand just outside the storage door. He watched me for a few seconds and then looked back up the slope with a disappointed sigh.

I shook my head at him as I pulled out my phone. Suddenly, Loke lurched. The first thing I noticed was how his hindlegs buckled, then he staggered first one side to the other as he crouched down, desperately trying to stay upright. His head twitched from side to side and eyes doing the same as if he’d been stuck on a merry-go-round at high speed. A seizure. All equilibrium gone and clearly, to his perception, the world was in a whirl and he was just trying to find one spot to focus on as it spun by.

I flung myself from the trike and clutch him close. Seconds later, it eased and Jens pulled up while I was still hugging my furball. He was a little wobbly as I walked him up the slope using the harness as a handle to keep him steady. Loke was eager to jump in by himself, but I picked him up.

Minutes later, he was his normal bouncy self. He flung himself out of the car with an enthusiastic jump and pranced into the apartment. He gobbled down the extra scoop of kibble I offered and then bounced out the door on a 2 mile walk with Jens as a test to see how he really was. Just fine as if nothing had happened.

I agonized with myself about going to the animal hospital for quite some time, but I had a feeling that the vets would find nothing wrong as it had been the last 3 times he had seizures. Admittedly, his seizures had never involved his head. Limbs twitching and going stiff, but not the ‘trapped on a merry-go-round’ thing.

Jens thinks we should wait it out rather than subject Loke to hospitalization or extra sedation. He’s 12, clearly not in pain or distress. Just his normal energetic, food-focused self. If it follows the same pattern, we may not see another seizure unless Loke lives for another 4 years or more. While Loke does have a relative who was 17 years old when a photo of  him was posted on his birthday this year, that old man doesn’t have Loke’s long list of issues. Eric, Loke’s brother, is still running strong this year last I heard. Loke’s dad, passed away at age 13.

I’m still going to make an appointment to talk to the vet today. I want to discuss what the seizure may mean in respect to the surgery to remove the gland in his lid if nothing else. Also, this time, if the vet does think it needs to be looked at, I’ll have an appointment via referral with neurologist at the university animal hospital instead of a generalist taking a 5 minute look and shrugging in bafflement.

I think Murphy just loves toying with me not to mention torturing my dog.


The Great Experiment
September 12, 2017, 6:59 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

It occurred to me that I forgot to mention what had happened to my hip when I last posted though I’d mentioned there was something was wrong with it.

Jens has gone a bit nuts for a new PS4 game, so he’s been hogging the TV. I wanted to watch Netflix so went to sit at Jens’ desk. Silly me, I propped my feet up into one of the other chairs. Well, after a couple hours of that as I watched a movie, my hip strenuously objected. It fussed at me for a few days, but fortunately, it didn’t hang on too long.

Even without the hip giving me problems, it’s been a chaotic few days, but finally got out the door for another ride. Really should keep my rump moving so I can break the measly 500 miles I’m aiming for this year.

It might have gotten easier though.

Through the whole struggle with my feet, I’ve kept wanting to move my feet forward, but being clipped in, couldn’t really. The days of attacking my battered Shimano touring shoes with a file to lengthen the bolt slots needed to be tested. Sunday, September 9th, was the day my husband finally bullied me out the door with Loke to try them.

The sky was chaotic as I settled the trike. Everything was still damp from the rain all through the night and morning. The leaden sheet of gray across the sky had broken up into chunks of clouds, some which looked very threatening as the monochrome shades ran through the gamut of the palest, bright silver to the deep underbellies of slate. A guessing game really. Was I going to get drenched or stay dry? At about 60 F, it would have been uncomfortable, but at least not a nightmare.

Loke was actually kind of excited to step out the door. I was wary as I clipped in and we rolled out.

The first 100 yards pain free! I started to grin. Maybe, just maybe, I would be taking it further than the 2.3 miles that we use to get back to the garage half a mile away. About a quarter mile on, I had slight (and I do mean slight) discomfort in my right foot, but my left was happy as a clam in mud.

I didn’t put my right foot down until almost 1.5 mile. A new record of late, I think. Admittedly, my last ride in un-adapted shoes, it took a while longer to hurt than the previous 20 or so and then barely at all on the last 2+ miles after I dropped the furball off at the groomer. True, it could just have been a fluke, yet I was and am hopeful.

I definitely decided to ride on a bit further. Loke was glad of it. He even pulled into a slow run down some of the slopes as I aimed myself for the River Loop extension.

About mile 4, my left foot started having issues. It wasn’t a cause of much concern though, because I think it was because the cleat had slipped. When attaching it, I didn’t wrench it as tight as I should, anticipating the need to do more work on it. So, in the course of curbing Loke’s messes, it had come forward and twisted to one side slightly when I unclipped.

The clouds had thinned a bit as I followed the river path north, but were starting to look threatening again as I finished off the hamster track of 6.75 miles. Loke was slowing by the last mile or so, but since he bounced into the apartment and went directly to Jens to start the ‘staring tail-wag of persuasion’, pretty sure it was just boredom making him sluggish.

As for me, there was a bounce in my step too. Of late, I’ve absolutely hated going for rides around here. While I thought I was factoring in the foot issue into making me so fed up with the hamster tracks around here, it appears I wasn’t giving them enough credit. On the 6.75 miles, only 3 times, I felt compelled to stop to give my feet a break. That’s like nothing. When I did stop, it wasn’t remotely close to the pain of rides in the previous months. As a result, hamster track or not, I actually had a grin on my lips and enjoyed the ride. Sad, but I’m not sure I can remember that in recent memory, not since Loke and I went up to ride around Långsjön (The Long Lake) a bit north of Uppsala.

Suddenly, the 200 miles I still need for 500 miles, doesn’t seem so remote.

Two days, two rides since I went out the very next day, September 10th I had a thought at first to do an 18 to 20 mile loop, but one ride with mostly okay feet does not a trend make. I didn’t want to wind up harassing my hubby to come get me somewhere along the way because I couldn’t take the Inquisition any longer. I did decide to aim for at least going further than I did yesterday on my local hamster track paths.

Mostly sunny, though every now and again a threatening looking cloud would scuttle in. Yet, the sun never disappeared. Breezy and pleasant at about 65 F. When I started, there was a bit of hope that I could make the 20 miler, so I set out toward the Old Uppsala Burial ground as it’s kind of on the way. I cut a couple miles of my usual ‘burial ground’ loop though and took a dirt track I’ve not used in years. I think I’ve ridden it only once before in the 11 years of being on the trike.

Loke was very intrigued by it, being that he probably had absolutely no memory of the .25 mile stretch and it was lined with trees and weeds, tucked in the cool shade.

I needn’t have worried about my feet too much. My left foot was still happy and my right foot was less unhappy than it was yesterday as I had worked at the shoe with the file for about an hour through the morning. Might have gotten my cleat a whole 1/8th of an inch further toward the arch!

The burial grounds were a hive of activity. Joggers, walkers, and hordes of bikes.

As I rolled along the gravel paths of the burial ground. I started itching furiously. Spot on my right arm. Spot on my right leg. Right side of the stomach. Then it hit me, I KNEW that itch. That burning, almost nettle like itch though less severe. Pretty much like fiber glass.

Yep! The ‘Season of the Itch’ was upon me. Once I knew what was happening, I saw it. The fiberglass-like puffs blowing on the wind, pulled off the withered and dried parent plants to spread torment to whoever got in their path. It became a kind of game. Watching the upwind side of the path for the flying clumps, slowing down or speeding up in an attempt to avoid them hitting me.

I. HATE. THOSE. PLANTS. Loke seems immune. Of course, that brat can stick his face into a knee high patch of nettles without a care in the world.

About mile 5, my feet did get uncomfortable enough that I felt the need to take a short pause to put them off the pedals. It was more like the discomfort of old though. More of a tight, tingling numbness than the flayed, charred, crushed sensation I’ve been enduring this year.

We finished up with 7.75 miles, one whole mile more than the previous ride. Loke started getting pokey and I couldn’t tell if it was boredom (most likely) or some other reason. Still, he’s currently curled up contently in his bed, so I guess it was just enough for the furball.

So, the feet were better. I had an appointment on the 11th so no ride then. It was off to the hospital for a heart ultrasound. The results of that were the same as last year which at least means it’s no worse. My heartwall is thickened, but no thicker than it was last check-up. So, that’s good at least.

It was raining today and laundry time, so no cycling again today. That’s good. It will give me more time to file the shoes. I’m aiming for perfection!

Foot Fun
September 7, 2017, 4:54 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Well, things have been a bit chaotic of late.

Just 2 rides since I posted last. The foot thing really gets to me if you couldn’t tell. My hip was feeling much better (yes past tense, but we’ll get to that) so I was itching to ride further and areas other than hamster tracks, but the feet. I mean, having to stop 30-60 times on a 20 mile ride JUST to put my feet off the pedals for 3-5 minutes each session would put a serious damper in the ride just from the perspective of time. Never mind that each pause is precipitated by excruciating pain. If I didn’t push it to that edge, it would probably mean doubling the amount of stops. Not doable. So, I shy away from riding because it hurts like heck and is extra boring to boot between being a hamster track and stopping every few hundred yards.

The lack of riding drives Jens up the wall of course, because Loke makes him crazy. Staring at him and refusing to act like a 12 year old dog. Still can’t get over he’s really that old.

I’ve noticed when I have struggled along with the torturous pedals that I keep wanting to push my foot forward, but given the nature of shoes attached to pedals, there’s not much room to do just that. So, in desperation, I talked Jens into not fretting too much about me taking a metal file to my old Shimano touring shoes. Being 5+ years old, they’re quite worn now and since I have 2 ‘new’ pair meaning one to spare, he’s thrown his hands up in surrender and let me do as I will. Still, being so difficult to find fitting cycle shoes, the search has already begun for the next pair.

So, for the better part of a week, I’ve put in quite a few hours of filing… and filing… and filing. Ugh. The stiff insole might be ‘just’ plastic, but it’s darn tough and, with my arm giving me fits, takes a looooooonnnnnngggg time to make any progress. Thank goodness for Netflix as I sit on the sofa with a towel to catch the filings as I work. Soon, I’ll give it a shot and see how it goes.

In other news, I was used as a medical curiosity/case study at the hospital last week. The dermatologist I saw at the beginning of the year who diagnosed and treated me for Lyme Disease had called sometime during the summer to get an update on the spots. I told her that they’d started to fade while I was on the medication and a couple weeks after, but then when the symptoms of the disease came back, so did the spots. She was completely dismissive that it could have been resurgence of Lyme Disease. Baffled, she said that on Fridays, her and her colleagues assemble to look over the most interesting cases. Would I mind coming in for that?

Come in and let a bunch of people poke at me? Sure, why not. Who knows, maybe something useful will come of it.

So, last Friday, there I was, showing off the Lyme disease blotches to about a dozen people. At least I didn’t have to pay for the privilege. I’ve not reached the cap on medical costs yet, so I still have to pay the modest fee. Regardless of what people think, Swedish medical care is NOT free. Cheap and does come with a cap with how much is paid before the cost is waived, but not free. But, apparently to be a case study, the cost is waived if one hasn’t reached the cap. Nice of them.

It took longer than anticipated after they had their look and went away to discuss. Of course, 10+ people offering their insights and opinions on something does take time. When it was over and the original dermatologist came back, she asked the expected. “Do you mind if I take another biopsy?”

I cringed at the idea. The last time was unpleasant enough, but I’m determined to get answers. There was something I was dreading more than her punching out little bits of skin any way. Blood Test. Yep. She wanted that too. Rather sad when one can face having chunks of skin removed better than blood drawn.

The doctor took skin from 2 places. The center of one of the spots and from unmarked skin next to it for comparison.

As for the blood. The first nurse tried once to get the stuff out of me and nada. Not even when she pulled the needle out of my arm. Desperate, I offered my feet for another two stabs since last time that took about 30 seconds. Nope. No good. She went to get another nurse to take a look, but since I was already so rattled from the previous attempts, she didn’t find anything she felt confident enough to torment me with. So, off to the lab on Monday since I had to run back to the car before the parking ran out.

The last blood tests over the year have been a complete nightmare with most of the arm and hand jabs giving nothing and they’ve resorted to pricking my fingers and squeezing the blood out of me. Some tests, though apparently MUST come from the vein. Three of the tests the dermatologist wanted were those. I had all weekend to fret myself about sick at how many jabs it was going to take to get what was needed.

Well, it didn’t turn out as bad as anticipated. I woke at 4 am and prepped with pain meds and lots and lots of water to plump the veins. The first nurse found a vein the hand, but got nothing. Rather than stab me again, she called for one of the supervisor nurses. That woman came over with a brisk efficiency. Instead of examining my hand or the lower arm, she went right for the bend of the arm, fingers pressing deep. She didn’t rush, moving my arm around a bit until she got it in JUST the right position. Then she pulled out one of the larger needles and went in.

BLESS HER, she hit first time and either because of her skill or the pain meds or both, it barely hurt. In less than a minute she was done. I was so grateful, I thanked her profusely. Her aloofness broke and she gave me a sympathetic smile while patting my shoulder.

Hopefully all this will be a step toward getting some answers at least. Even better if it does more than clear up Lyme disease blotches from my skin, but also improves my quality of life from every other aspect. Maybe being able to walk without collapsing like a puppet with cut strings.

So, on the 3rd, I finally got out for another ride. The first in like… 10 days or something silly like that.

The weather has finally kind of broken. We’ve gotten spates of rain, some of it torrential since our first frost during the last week of August. Set a new record for cold on that day. Was just enough of a frosting that it only really stuck to cars and not much on grass, but still. FROST in AUGUST. Of course, last week, while I was walking around in my summer weight shirts, there was snow in Oslo, Norway which is quite a bit further south than Uppsala, Sweden. At least the weather hasn’t gotten quite as crazed as it has in the States. My thoughts are with those who have endured Harvey and those now facing the next storm.

It was quite gray and muggy in spite of being cool-ish on the 3rd. I thought for sure I was going to get some rain on us, but by some miracle it held off. A whopping 2 miles with the fuzz butt. It hurt, of course. Spanish Inquisition foot screws kind of hurt.

That of course, gave me a kick in the butt to work some more on the Shimanos.

On the 5th, Jens was grumbling a bit, so I had him drop Loke and I off at the storage. The tentative plan was to roll the trike to the apartment, see if I could finish the filing enough to test the adapted shoes.

It was quite a lovely morning actually, on the chill side, but lovely. 48 F at the start of the ride and edged up into 51 F by time I rolled to a stop at home. Put a real spring in Loke’s stride. There was blue sky and sunshine too. The first in a while.

After the frost, autumn colors have started to come into a few of the trees. REAL autumn colors. Not the shriveled, desiccated brown of leaves that perished for lack of water thanks to our silly dry (but cloudy) summer, but bright yellow popping out here and there. One tree was even flushed vivid red, the hue brightened by the early morning sunlight.

We came home with 3.4 miles. Loke had a slight spring in his step in spite of his profound boredom. The cooler temps agreed with him.

The really strange thing though, was my feet. I think, just to spite me after all my hard work filing, the foot rules have changed again, because on the 3+ mile loop, I only put my feet down 3 times because of discomfort! The first .25 mile in, which is an improvement over the worst rides, and then not again for over 1.5 miles and the last time about 500 yards from home. If I could count on that, I’d be willing to tackle longer rides. I mean, 12-15 stops for my feet would be manageable over a 20 mile ride as opposed to 30-70 stops.

I wasn’t home for long. Just enough for Loke to gobble down breakfast and take a 20 minute snooze when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but answered. It was Jennifer, the groomer. She asked if I could bring Loke in then instead of the next day for his appointment. Could I be there in about an hour?

I said sure! Put Loke back in his harness and out the door we bolted again! Oddly, Loke was a running machine. Not sure what boosted him, but we arrived earlier than I thought we would because he was just pulling us along at a brisk trot.

He wasn’t thrilled when I left him there though and rode home.

On the ride to the groomer, about 2.7 miles, I had to put my feet down only 2 or 3 times. I forget how much, but not nearly as often as rides all through the rest of the year.

The solo dash back home was fun. I discovered I’m not quite as pokey as I thought I was. Not burning up the roads with blazing speed, but on flats even with a bit of a headwind, I was able to push for 8 mph. Down the hills of course was where the real fun was. I didn’t need to stop even once for foot relief. There was a bit of discomfort, but nothing I could categorize as pain, let alone bad enough to have me seeing stars as I rip feet from pedals to stop the torture.

So, are the foot rules changing again? Would stand to follow. I mean, I’ve put in hours on working to adapt the Shimano shoes, so naturally, the rules would change to make it unnecessary.

I did notice one possible complication. Where the slots on my Shimano shoes are dead center, those of my newer shoes are toward the inside of the foot rather than centered. I’ve ridden with both shoes and had the same amount of pain, so I don’t know what kind of impact that actually has on my pedalling, but I guess it’s something to be aware of.

Complications, complications.

But, now I’m caught up! I’d better get my butt in gear if I want to break 500 miles for 2017 though. Only 3 more months to make it and at the rate my rides have been going, it might be a close call.

Busy, Busy
August 18, 2017, 11:53 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Things have been a bit chaotic and slow at once. Also, I really should stay on top of my posts better. There are rides I’ve done, but can remember like NO details of them. Maybe it’s the lack of photos. Of course, I’m not going to keep eating up my memory space on here with photographs of the same 5 spots.

I’ve only been on about 3 rides since my last post, for various reasons.

One part of it is that riding my trike has turned into a level of torture for my feet that would rival the foot screws of the Spanish Inquisition if I didn’t stop every few hundred yards to yank my tootsies out of the pedals and put them on the ground for 5-10 minutes. One ride, I kept telling myself, “It’s only 200 yards to the storage. Come on! Don’t stop!” only at 100 yards from the end of the ride, I couldn’t bear it any longer and had to unclip, pull myself out of the trike to totter around for more than 5 minutes until the feet stopped screaming and cramping.

That ride might have been on the 9th. I did about 7 miles with Loke as we rolled downtown for me to buy my favorite ice cream. It was something of a celebration after all.

The backstory is the income tax issue was finally resolved and my return was a nice chunk. When Jens asked what I wanted to do with it, I told him we should just put it in our account and decide on something for us. He actually insisted that I spend it all on myself.

Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything right off. Trike touring stuff, as always came to mind, but with it being such a struggle this year, it almost felt like it would be a waste. For almost 2 months, I only pondered on it and rejected various ideas. Then one day, I found myself considering drones. A bit of a risk to be sure as they weren’t entirely legal in Sweden (so we thought). Or rather they were, but only if you applied for permits to fly them for every area and date you might want to do so. That kinda ruined the spontaneity. Pedalling around on my trike and see a point of interest only to have to say to myself, ‘Oooh! That would be great to get a drone video or photograph of. Let me come back in 3 months when I finally get the permit for it!’

Still, the idea called. My research on drones was less inspiring. It seemed if they were small enough I could comfortably manage to carry on the trike, they had a 4 minute flight time after hours of charging. 4 minutes?! REALLY? If they had say, 15 minutes of flight time, they were big enough to be a burden and significant hassle to manage on the trike.

Jens to the rescue. I grumbled about my idea of a drone but how they didn’t seem to be a good idea. He turned to the internet and various colleagues and work network. One of guys in that web of acquaintances recommended a Mavic Pro drone. I started researching into it and actually became quite excited. Lots of ‘intelligent’ flight modes and countless settings. It really is a flying camera too. Not just a P-n-C camera, but one where you can set white balance, aperture, shutter speed as well as shoot video in 4k HD. Flight time? 27 minutes in ideal conditions, which to me translated into something between 19-24 minutes otherwise, Much better than the others I’d been looking at. Size? The drone, 2 extra batteries, the remote, extra props all fit into a case a bit smaller than the camera bag for my Canon. I was won.

It was a bit more than my tax return though. Jens generously said, ‘Happy Birthday’ with the extra cost even though the kayak was already a rather hefty b-day gift.

Gamla Uppsala Burial Mounds

As for the legality? Well, it turned out that on August 1st, it became legal to fly drones without the need of getting permits. Certain areas are restricted naturally, like airport areas, power stations, and military installations. But say, Gamla Uppsala should be okay. Of course, I was practicing with the drone around the church there and some old man came along, yelling at me that it was forbidden. I was endangering helicopters and planes. I bit my tongue as I guided the drone around the church, well below the building’s roofline. Honestly, if my drone was in the way of a helicopter where it was, that copter pilot would have had far more dire problems than a bit of plastic and metal only slightly larger than a Venti Starbuck’s latte.

Oh, and since the change in law relaxing the need of permits, Arlanda International Airport has had to stop take offs and landings because of drones buzzing too close. Idiots are going to get the law reversed. Jack*sses.

But I get a bit ahead of myself. My decision to do an ‘ice cream ride’ on August 9th was because I’d decided on the drone and Jens was going to be coming home with it on his way from work. Oh, and of course, my approaching birthday. I remember it was warm, so the ice cream was welcome. Loke was a bit sluggish I think. More than that, I recall nothing of the ride. I’m probably blocking the memory of the ride itself because of my tortured feet.

Jens got home a little too late to try the drone, so the evening was spent making sure everything was charged and I watched every YouTube video I could about ‘first flight’ with the drone model. Good thing I watched about 5 of them. It seemed each and every one of them left off something. Like the camera clamp to prevent the gimbal from being damaged during transport and a few other niggling little things.

Naturally, it seemed as soon as I had the thing, the incredibly dry weather our patch of Sweden had been wilting and withering under, broke. On the 10th, I went out to the mounds just to get it off the ground to make sure it was working. It turned into a race against the clock, so I thought. Dark, threatening clouds were crowding the horizon as I went. Naturally, the done decided it needed a firmware update. As it sat in the grass, my phone feeding the files through its 4G connection, I kept eyeing those clouds as they marched closer.

There was a man with an adorable little baby boy. I’m not sure why, but the baby was absolutely fascinated with me, trying to toddle closer as he grinned and waved. Too darn cute. Finally the rest of the multi-generations of family arrived in the patch of lawn. That was when the baby’s father and grandfather came over and started asking about the drone. After a few minutes we all said farewell and they left. About 10 minutes later, the update finished, I rushed the drone straight up, took a photo of the mounds, and landed. It was a bit of a rush as I worked to put everything away, the first drops of rain coming down.

Naturally, as soon as I was back in the car, not a drop more and stayed dry through the evening. It seems even with drones, Sweden’s weather taunts me.

I didn’t ride the trike on the 11th either, because when I first got the kayak, my mind had set what seemed to be a ridiculous goal. I wanted to paddle from Skocloster Castle to Uppsala, or the other way around depending on wind direction. 9 miles and most of it on the wider waters of Lake Mälaren. My paddling on the river has been training with all my focus on making that trip. We finally had a day that was supposed to be fairly nice and the wind was coming out of the south and forecasted to be about 9 mph at max. If I left from the castle, I’d have it at my back. My one long paddle out into the lake hadn’t been too bad. My nerves were jangling, but I decided to do it.

Skocloster Castle from on high.

We found a spot to launch that looked pretty ideal not far from the castle’s church. Before I got the kayak in the water though, I took a few moments to pull up the drone and send it up for a photo of the castle. Then it was off to the lake shore where I discovered my ‘ideal’ spot was less so. What had looked like firm footing with gravel and even rocks was ankle deep, smelly muck. I got to jump into the kayak with that on my feet. Yay!

Well, I did it. 9.15 miles in about 4 hours. The miles on the lake were harsh. The wind was much faster than weather forecasters had said and created swells that bordered on white caps. Boats zipping around at high speeds did NOT help that situation. Another draw back to the wind was it really wanted to keep my kayak to the broadside so it was a struggle to keep it facing north instead of east or west.

Reaching the peaceful, still waters of the river was a profound relief. Somehow, I found the strength to get the kayak back on ground, drag it to the rowing club parking, fold it and wait for Jens to come get me. I even managed to avoid snake bite this time!

I could hardly move the next day, especially my arms. In spite of that, I dragged myself out for a short roll with Loke. Jens had done so much for me to tackle the kayaking goal. He’d had a crazy busy day with conference calls for his job and not much time to catch his breath, yet he had squeezed in the time to drive me to the castle as well as take care of Loke for the day. It was only fair that I tried to take over husky duty for him on the 12th. Between the painful feet and my general exhaustion, we did a whopping 2.3 miles and I tottered around on short little walks with the fuzzy for the rest of the day.

Will you look at that?!

I did find one oddity on the ride. Honestly, I’m not sure how long ago it had happened before I noticed it, but it does seem if I’d been through more than once or twice since the poor tree was struck by lightning, blowing it’s bark off in a thin, charred strip, I would have noticed. I’m not quite that oblivious I like to think. I did recall hearing thunder about a week before, so given the amount of soot still on the tree, it could have been as recently as then. Finger’s crossed the tree survives it. They often do. Bad enough to have lost one large tree on my main hamster track as it is.

Then there was a 4 day gap without rides. Mostly it’s been because the foot pain has made me so reluctant. The 14th, my birthday, was actually because Jens chased me out of the house to go find some place fun and quiet to try out the drone.

The first 2 places I had hoped to try flying the drone turned into a bit of a flop after I’d dropped Jens off out by the river to take a long walk back home with Loke. Too many people at Uppsala-Näs Church for me to feel comfortable about buzzing the drone around. Jumkil has what appears to be major construction going on around it. One spot I remember as fields, is now a gravel parking lot with chainlink fencing and piles of dirt and gravel. Not exactly a lovely backdrop. That was what sent me further east. While it gave me peace and quiet to focus on learning the drone’s controls, it turned out to be a less than fascinating place as far as recording video or taking photos. So, I spent the better part of an hour just buzzing the drone around and even moving it between trees.

The 3rd battery still had a bit of a charge as I headed home on the back roads. I’ve ridden those roads with the trike a few times. A post back in the first months of my blogging featured a ride on them as a matter of fact. One of my favorite places to ride on the fringes of Uppsala, back when rides of 30+ miles were more doable. So, when I was winding along those little country roads, flanked by trees or fields, I was shocked, disheartened, and disturbed when the asphalt paving of old abruptly vanished to be replaced with chunky, loose gravel. Something about it absolute absence of any paving hinted at permanent change. 3 miles of paving just… gone and hard-going rocks in its wake.

The discovery of that ‘downgrade’ left me a little glum as I rejoined the 55 to zip back toward home.

Just at the edge of Uppsala, I came to a turn off the main road and remembered a neat little burial ground with standing stones and such. I decided to check it out. It was actually the perfect spot to play with the Point-of-Interest flight setting and I had enough power left in the last battery to make it worth while.

Not perfect, but I did get video footage as well as more practice, helping to brighten my mood again. Now, I just need to learn to fiddle with the camera settings as well as how to smooth out the control when I change the lens angle and it will be much better. For a first run of video and POI flight, I was quite tickled really. Sweet of the hubby to have chased me out of the house and even kept me from doing anything resembling a chore for the entire day.

After that ride, there were a few more days of busy-ness about the apartment. No more drone flights, kayaking or cycling.

Oh, aside from reorganizing out livingspace, there’s been Loke to take care of as well. Earlier in the week, I took him to get his B-vitamin shot. In the post about our last ride on the Long Lake Loop, off the major hamster tracks for the first time since the beginning of the year, I had pointed out that much of Loke’s recent sluggishness seemed to be because of boredom of fathomless depths. I have to correct that. Boredom of fathomless depths AND Vitamin B-12 deficiency. The morning after that injection, there was this bouncy, bright-eyed husky in Loke’s place though he did look like my fuzzy buddy from about 3 years ago. He’s been so perky that he’s even been a pest to Jens at night. I’ve had to retreat to sleep in the livingroom closing Loke out of the bedroom so Jens could sleep. Naturally, Loke goes straight to his bed and sleeps the night peacefully through, not disturbing me in the least. Just something about Jens that Loke feels the need to harass him when he tries to go to sleep. Been fed, doesn’t need to go potty, has water, even when he’s had a 6 mile run in the day… just being a pest to Jens.

Well, after that turn around in Loke’s behavior, some other thing decided to be an issue. Over the years, Loke’s had surgery on his lower eyelids because some of the sebaceous glands acted up. 3 times on one lid and once on both at the same time. Shortly after the double whammy surgery, the area of the incision on his right eye developed a swelling. I took him immediately to the vet, but they didn’t think it was anything dangerous and after some discussion we decided to just keep an eye on it. It reached a certain size and stopped. Didn’t bother him, didn’t obscure his vision or scratch the cornea where as the other growths had. Loke’s been under sedation so many times in his life that I decided if it wasn’t hurting him and it was just a cosmetic issue, I wasn’t going to inflict more anesthesia and surgery on him just to ‘make him prettier’.

Well, Sunday, I thought it looked a little bigger. Monday, the swelling was definitely bigger and something else odd going on with it where a bit of skin or a scab came off an edge of it and left a white spot on Loke’s black lid. It was distorting the shape of the eyelid quite a bit and starting to look as if it would block part of his vision. The earliest a vet could see me was Wednesday, August 16th.

Franz (Frans?), the very nice male vet, took a look and thought he was seeing signs of puss leaking from the bulbous lump. His suspicion is that the sebaceous gland has become infected for one reason or another, which caused the increase in size. He numbed Loke’s eye and lids so he could manipulate the bulge (about the size of a Skittle) without distressing the furball. He took a sample of some of what came out to be sent to the lab.

There is a bit of a problem though. He thinks it now needs to come off since it’s obviously gone through a change. The difficulty is the surgery to do so. If it were smaller, it would have been a simple cut-n-stitch and done thing. Now, and probably even before this recent growth, it would require a far more complex, almost reconstructive plastic surgery. So much of the lid would need cutting aside that it wouldn’t be able to close up easily. At least not without hindering Loke’s ability to blink or close the eye. So, we’re going to try and get the size down. Loke’s getting an eye ointment with an antibiotic in it. It might be working. At least it didn’t get any bigger yesterday and looks as if maybe, it’s a tiny bit smaller today. So… fingers crossed though I have a feeling it won’t get small enough to let the surgery be ‘simple’.

So, on August 17th, I finally dragged out for another ride. I had mentioned to Jens about the foot problem. He came up with an odd suggestion. ‘Could it be the booster pad you made?’

Honestly, I couldn’t quite see how sitting a little higher up to spare my hip could make it so horrible for my feet. While I’ve always had issues with my feet getting hot spots, numbing or cramping, it’s never been quite this bad or this persistent. Before it was like ‘This ride pretty bad’, ‘The next ride great!’, ‘Ride after that, so-so.’ When it did hurt, I might have needed to take my feet down, but only after 2-3 or even as much as 5 miles. Not 500-800 YARDS. I mean, needing 6-7 stops for 2 miles to unclip and work out the cramps is ridiculous.

So, after Jens dropped us off at the storage, I undid the fastening of the pad and plopped warily down into the seat.

It was still pretty uncomfortable, but I seemed to make it further before I wanted to detach from the pedals. Pretty sure the pain wasn’t as bad either. For 3 miles, I think I stopped less than 3 times. I’d worried about removing the pad though since it would mean a deeper flex for my hip. It’s been doing pretty good of late and the idea of causing it re-injury is not a pleasant one. Surprisingly, it handled it fine. So, just maybe in trying to make things easier on my hip, I was killing my feet. Still, it might have given the hip room enough to progress much further toward healing.

And that’s me caught up!

Briefly Off The Hamster Track
August 8, 2017, 8:14 am
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Things have been kinda slow. We’re making some reorganization to our living arrangement, the first in years. That takes up a bit of time, not to mention just sucks the endurance right out of me.

In spite of that, I have gotten a bit of exercise done in between the rain we’ve finally been having. For some of the trees, it won’t save their leaves, but for others it came in the nick of time if it managed to get down to the roots. Still been bone dry under some trees even after it’s pattered down for most of a day. The grass is reviving which is nice. It was all starting to look a bit sere around here.

As I’ve mentioned, Loke’s been more than a little sluggish. To describe him as being actually sluggish would be an insult to slug kind as they’ve been faster than he of late. It’s made me a bit fretful for my old man which, in turn, made Jens want to ‘fix it’. His insistence and quite valid point about going for rides off the hamster tracks, even if it took all day to do just 15 miles, became even more emphatic.

August 2nd, it finally happened.

dmittedly, I wasn’t exactly flinging myself out the door with enthusiasm at first about today’s ride, but Jens’ insistence that I, ‘GET THE TRIKE OUT SOMEWHERE ELSE!’ Pretty sure it was getting to the point, he was going to stuff me in a sack, throw me in the car with husky and trike to toss us all out in the countryside somewhere. Most of my reluctance stemmed from the hassle of loading the trike in the car for such short and close to home ride.

The hassle never really appeared. My recent kayaking forays have apparently given me new and unexpected upper body strength. The folded length of metal, plastic, and rubber didn’t feel as heavy or awkward as I recalled. Makes me want to go paddle more!

Loke was fairly ‘meh’ as he hopped in the car to go the garage. That did not inspire my confidence about his ability to be able to do more than 5-6 miles, so good thing the loop around Långsjön (Long Lake) was only about 5 miles, the same as the basic River Loop hamster track at the apartment.

‘Meh’ turned to confusion and then perhaps a glimmer of hope as I left him in the car (all the windows down) to start bringing the trike up the ramp and dismantle it. As we made the 20 km drive to Björklinge church where I’ve always parked the car for this loop, he wouldn’t settle. He kept pacing back and forth. Usually he just lays down for a drive.

We arrived and I tethered him to a picnic table by the church parking lot. Every time I so much as turned in his direction, he’d scramble to his feet and wag his tail. Clearly, this was far more interesting than the River Loop or the downtown jaunt for fruit.

Trike back in one piece and loaded, I sat down to fiddle with GPS and helmet, and there was this husky face shoved into mine. ‘WOOF.. arrraahhah, yuuuoo… pfft.’ That’s husky for ‘MOVE IT! You don’t need all that crap.’ with a sneeze in my face for good measure. He’s not done that in quite a while. Probably since about January. Well, except when it comes to leftovers he thinks he’s entitled to.

Off we went and Loke PULLED. He tried to run in spite of the fact that the first quarter mile was up and up and up. With his help, I managed to keep almost 4 mph average on a hill I generally would struggle for 3 mph. Then we were across the old E4 and starting the looooooonggggg downhill toward the manor house. It was like time had turned back a year or more. Loke buzzed along at 6 mph or more, head down and all intensity. We did over 2 miles in 30 minutes and that with stops for doggie ‘business’, photos, creeping up hills, and going slowly along a stretch of road that desperately needs repaving. It would seem that his sluggishness I was attributing to old age is in part just bone-deep boredom.

Sätuna Manor – 2013

Finally we came up to the manor house with it’s gorgeous old wooden stable where the state of the road improved so I didn’t have to argue with Loke about walking in the grass and weeds and our speed picked back up. The clouds thickened, which helped as it had been uncomfortably warm on the hills where the trees sheltered the wind. In the wind, it was pleasant though.

Our speed dropped again when we reached the gravel road. Clearly, Loke’s paws with their inflamed joints and tendons are no longer up to that kind of surface. I gave him the smoothest part, gritting my teeth as I rattled and banged down the rocky centre strip for almost 2 miles.

We nudged over 4 miles when I had an inkling that something was off. I had been absolutely certain that the Long Lake Loop was about 5 or 5.5 miles, but I recognized that we were only about half way. That gave me a pang of concern, but I decided Loke would guide me as to when I should call my hubby’s dad to rescue him.

The fuzzy was a machine. On the smoother surfaces he jogged along, tongue flopping in a husky smile. He only drank the offered water a few times. We had a chat with a couple in an old huge Buick convertible. They gushed over my old man and told me about their 14 year old German Shepherd back at home.

As we _finally_ started the last stretch to arrive back at the church, with 8+ miles, Loke was still just fine. He’d slowed just a little, letting the tether jingle with some slack instead of pulling out extra line, but going strong. When I turned us back into the parking lot right at 8.45 miles, he was disappointed. While I turned off the GPS and removed my helmet, he again stuck his face in mine, though without the backtalk, trying to use his husky Jedi mind trick to make me keep going.

“So, what are we doing now?!”

Back home, he’s prancing around and trying to stare me into doing something amusing. Or maybe he just wants extra kibble. Or both. He is the centre of the universe after all… in his fuzzy little mind. Clearly, age isn’t bothering him quite as much as I imagined.

On the 3rd, I went for another kayak. I want to keep that upper body strength improving after all. I’ll only mention that it was an interesting trip and I finished with 6.75 miles as I paddled southward, the furthest I’ve managed to go. Right out into Lake Mälaren.

Since this blog is more about things that impact my cycling, I won’t go into much detail about the paddle, but I will mention more in depth about what happened as I packed the kayak. Why? Because it kept me from cycling for 3 days.

So, exhausted, I still managed to wrestle the kayak out of the water and drag it on the little trailer all the way back to the car. I knelt in the grass for several minutes, pumping the air out and fiddling around to start getting it folded. I shifted slightly and then immediately howled in pain. Something fiercely stung my ankle. It hurt as bad or even a little worse than the yellow jacket stings I was nailed with years ago, but the image in my head as I threw myself to my feet and and slapped at spot was of being chewed on. It hurt. Oh, how it hurt. I hobbled over to the car, bending over to wipe blood away from the ankle every few steps. Yes, blood.

On the skin where there was a gape between my leggings and the neoprene reef boots, blood seeped from a spot a bit less than an inch across. It was hard to make out any details in between the swipes I made to both try to rub the pain away and keep the blood from staining my tights, but it mostly looked like scrapes of some kind. Hurt more than any scrape I’ve ever had, even road rash.

I dashed the tears of pain from my eyes and went back to the kayak. I looked in the grass where I’d been kneeling, but found nothing. I got everything packed up and headed home. Still the ankle hurt. The pain didn’t stay localized to the little spots that had wept so much blood either.

Later that evening, I finally took a closer look at the wound. It honestly looked like two very equally sized little punctures with tiny scrapes beneath them. Oh, kinda like, I don’t know. The fangs of a snake with the gripping teeth behind them? All indications are that I crossed paths with the single species of venomous snake in Sweden. Fortunately, it’s really no worse than a yellow jacket, a risk only to the young, infirm, allergic, or small animals. The front of my ankle throbbed for most of 24 hours, was too sore to wear shoes for about another 24, and then I was fine. It did mean I couldn’t put on a cycle shoe on my left foot for a few days though.

Honestly, I pity the snake. It must have been quite small, with just half an inch between it’s fangs, well camouflaged with the ground cover. Exhausted as I was, I probably would have missed it even if it had been in flashing neon. But the circumstances must have been that I didn’t see it and I knelt on the poor thing, pinning it hard between my ankle and the ground. When I shifted, putting my toes forward and creating an arch between my ankle and the grass, it finally got enough space to object to my oblivious mistreatment of it, and bit me. Can’t blame the snake. If some big thing came and squished me, I’d object vehemently when I could wriggle again.

Yesterday was the first ride I was able to do since the bite. Loke was remarkably energetic for it being a River Loop. Apparently the little toodle on the longer-than-I-thought Long Lake Loop recharged him.

Wasn’t really much of a ride. I was sleepy, it was trying to rain on us and was just 56 F, so I just did the minimum of about 2.5-ish miles. If it had been other than River Loop sections, I might have been able to dredge up more interest, but the combination of all that meant, I just wanted to get home and curl up with a Netflix series.

Before I wrap up, I should also mention that the vet got back to me with the results of Loke’s blood tests. His kidneys and liver are just fine. However, several other of his values were off, mostly in terms of vitamin deficiencies and folic acid. She said it hinted at an issue with his intestines, something that they often see in dogs with allergies, especially as drastic as Loke’s. The chronic inflammation just wears the body out, joints, ligaments, tendons and intestines especially. It might also be a tumor, but she thought the inflammation was a more likely culprit. It would also explain why Loke suddenly needed double the food he used to in order to maintain his weight. His gut simply isn’t working as efficiently as it did so much of the nutrition and calories aren’t extracted.

Then she also said, he is very slightly anemic. As soon as the words were out of her mouth, I responded with, ‘Oh crap! I was supposed to have him tested for that!’ I explained that a few years ago when I took him to see the orthopedist at Ultuna, the blood tests they took then had showed he was mildly anemic. I’d completely forgotten to get a follow up 6 months later. Loke had gone back to bouncing around like a healthy dog that the impression of well-being had pushed it out of my mind.

The local vet assured me it wasn’t anything drastic and so slight, she thought it was probably the same level as that old test I described to her.

She recommended that I stop giving Loke any additional food aside from the kibble, much to Jens’ disappointment. I’m also taking Loke in for vitamin shots, especially of the ‘B’ variety which will probably improve his gut function. Perhaps once that starts working better, he’ll process his food better and will be able to get B-vitamin boosts from tablets rather than injections.

What it comes down to though, is – Loke’s an allergic, old dog. He can still run almost 9 miles and stare me down for more, so he remains the fittest, healthiest, sick dog in Sweden.

Hamster Tracks and More Hamster Tracks
July 29, 2017, 12:45 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

My rides have been a bit sporadic. There was a bit there when I was getting out on the trike every other day, with kayaking on the days between. Then I had about 4 days where I felt like I’d been hit by a freight train and could barely walk and breathe at the same time.

Loke’s been up and down as well. He strains his way up stairs now as if they’re the northern face of Mount Everest. There was also some kind of issue with his left front foot. That’s the one missing a toe. At random moments, he wouldn’t even put it down on the floor. So, I made an appointment with the vet, which wasn’t until 4 days later what with 90% of Sweden being on vacation. Naturally the two days before his appointment he moved fine. I still took him in though. The vet gave him a thorough going over, but could find nothing wrong with the foot.

She also took blood to check his liver values.

I was’t surprised when, after all that, Loke again was keeping his foot up the following morning.

The weather has been freakishly dry of late. So dry that some leaves are already turning yellow and in no way because of the coming autumn. Grass is shriveling in places. The only water making its way over the Uppsala spillways into Lake Mälaren is coming through the fish ladders. I can’t remember the last day we had an actual rain. And it’s not like we’ve been hot with dazzling blue skies. No, temps between about 65 and 73 F with the sky covered in huge blocks of heavy clouds in threatening shades of gray. They’d tease with rain. A tiny drop here, a 5 second spate there. Not even enough dampen the top grains of dirt.

We finally had real rain yesterday. A softly steady fall that had a chance to get through the top millimeters of soil and perhaps revive the grass. It even looked damp under the trees toward the evening. It stopped around supper time. We need more of it, a lot more, but it’s a start and maybe the grass will get its proper green color instead of the sere yellow shades.

As well as being sporadic, the rides have been a bit of a roller coaster. A really bad one, then an okay one where Loke actually had energy and ran the best he’d done in a month or more. Then Loke slow again, but I felt better.

Still, all of it’s been on hamster tracks.

Jens did suggest I take the trike somewhere more interesting soon. When I replied that it just felt like such a fuss to load everything in the car, drive for 45 minutes or more to new ground and unload just to ride for 5 miles or so, he said that I could still just make a day of it. Did it really matter if I spent 6-10 hours riding in spurts to cover 15 miles? So what if my average might turn out to be only 3 mph. As long as I enjoyed the scenery and maybe got to see a new church or runestone for the first time since January, would it really be so bad?

The man has a point.

So, I think perhaps next week, I’ll plan something out somewhere. As long as Jens is willing to play chauffeur so Loke has a fall back. It might even be what the doctor ordered for both the fuzzy one and me. Fresh ground to stimulate the mind and senses.


In Spite of Them All…
July 15, 2017, 6:12 pm
Filed under: Day Rides, Misc

Yep. I’ve been a bit quiet, but not entirely still.

So, last posted was about my meltdown with the stubborn nurse.

I thought I had an appointment with the doctor on July 4th, but it turned out to be on the 5th. However, I did have another appointment with my current physical therapist. Along with my back, she’s been helping with my hip as well. She’s heartily supported with what my SIL first set into place to start that healing, only adding to it. One thing she recommended after looking at a photo of the trike, was using a pad or such to raise my position on the seat. Something to elevate my pelvis a little higher up in comparison with the pedals. It would mean less of an angle at the top of the pedal stroke.

After kicking around the idea for a few hours, I formed a rough plan to make a seat pad out of an old foam mat for camping. A single layer of it was too thin, but if I doubled it, I thought it might be a perfect start. Adding a bit of rope, I’d even have something that would stay secure on the seat so I’d not have to go chasing it with every gust of wind when getting up.

I actually had a bit of fun making that pad. I’d grabbed everything to go out to the trike in the backyard of the apartment building to craft it. Scissors, the foam sleeping mat, rope, as well as that kind of silly strong cotton twine used for stitching stuffed turkeys closed, wrapping roasts, or keeping a crown of lamb in its circular shape.

I worked, sitting in the sun beside the trike to shape my idea and it was coming along well. As I stitched a section of foam, I heard a little flutter. I slooooowwwwly moved a little to see a sparrow on the far side of my trike, less than 1 foot away. Much to my surprise, it didn’t flap off as soon as it saw me, but just kinda crouched under the edge of my pod bag.

I suddenly wished I had bread or something to scatter around to see if I could get more of them to come close. Then I recalled that I often carried almonds. Maybe a few had fallen into the bottom of my bags? It spooked the sparrow as I dug around and actually found a few nuts. Since an almond is almost as big as a sparrow’s head, I used the scissors to crumble them and then scattered the pieces.

It took the birds about 5 minutes to get brave again, but they completely ignored what moving around I did to sew the pad. Mostly it was females or young sparrows that were bold enough to hop in close to grab a bit of almond. When they’d hop away to try and eat it where they felt safer, they generally were mobbed by males trying to take the food from them.

I got the pad finished and decided to sit in the trike seat itself to see how comfortable it was and just watch the sparrows until all the almond was gone. One cheeky little girl sparrow quite cleverly decided that my booted foot resting on a pedal was a PERFECT dinner spot. None of the bullies were brave enough to come so close and the leather of the tongue between the shoe laces was just perfect to keep her bit of nut from rolling away as she nibbled bits off it. I was utterly charmed by that tiny little creature, fearlessly nibbling on her treat, bright eyes watching me.

After I had made the pad and got everything back in the house, I was just too wiped and weak to go back out for a test ride on it.

July 5th was a gorgeous and absolutely perfect Swedish summer morning. To me any way. Mid 50’s, flawless blue sky, and not a breath of wind. While not rare for it to be that cool during July here in Uppsala, it’s not all that frequent either. Swedes oddly revel in the heat, but I love the cool summer days. Still get the vivid greens and flowers, but don’t wind up drenched in sweat if you so much as scratch your nose.

I would have gone for an early ride, but decided to wait until after the doctor appointment for the frustrating return of what appears to be the Lyme disease symptoms. It would be nice to be able to walk 100 yards without feeling on the verge of passing out. It seemed to go well. The doctor listened to me, took notes, asked questions, seemed to regard what I was saying as something to be taken quite serious. Once she felt she had all she needed, she immediately went to call a specialist in Lyme Disease. Apparently THE specialist for the Nordics if not all of Europe. She left a message and said she’d call me when she talked with the specialist and would hopefully have an appointment for me.

I got back home and immediately, if slowly, dressed to for a ride. It was going to be the first test with the ‘booster seat’. Sadly, the pretty sun and blue sky had disappeared behind a blanket of gray, parts of it quite threatening in appearance. Without the intense warmth of the sun, that 55 F felt a bit chilly.

After the first quarter mile or so, the results were quite encouraging. My hip seemed to agree with being about an inch higher than it used to be while pedalling. I decided to swing through downtown in round-about fashion just to get off the River Loop. Of all my hamster tracks, it’s a wonder the River Loop hasn’t been worn into a 10 foot deep rut in the past 2 years.

I’d barely gone a mile when I happened to hear my phone ring. The doctor calling me back, while I happened to be sitting at the most noisy intersection. From what she said the gist of the specialist’s answer was, ‘She had the antibiotics. It can’t be the Lyme Disease, even though the symptoms are identical to those that disappeared while on the medication. It might be inflammation. Have her take Ibuprofen for the pain even though it might conflict with high blood pressure medication.’ And with that answer, the specialist won’t see me.

That left me in a bit of a funk as I pedalled onward. In spite of that, I started to notice something. Stretches of longer inclines that used to slow me to the 3 MPH range, felt oddly easier. It wasn’t all because of my new, silly low granny gear either. I wasn’t even using the 40 toothed back ring, yet I felt strong as I spun up climbs at almost 2 mph faster with 75 RPM cadence. My breathing felt good, the muscles were strong and able to keep pace. Talk about a conflict of emotion. Frustration and disappointment at trying to get answers about why I can barely function off the trike on one end clashing with delighted glee and joy at having the best ride since the 5th day on the antibiotics for Lyme Disease.

Loke seemed to appreciate jogging along places we’ve not been in months. The threat of rain never materialized. I did try to stop at the ice cream shop to drown my sorrows in a couple scoops of their home-made Cherry Chocolate Crunch that is just to DIE for, but they were closed. I could have stopped at one of the summer kiosks for ice cream, but it just didn’t seem worth it if I couldn’t have the cherry.

Got back home with about 6 miles. Hip continued to feel just awesome the whole way. My feet were good too which is also a nice change. Of course, they’re always unpredictable. Great for one 1 ride and then the next 10 I have to stop ever few miles to get up and walk around to either get feeling back or ease cramped arches and/or toes. Go figure.

The next ride was on July 12th. Honestly, I can’t remember why I waited so long between rides. Baffled actually. I’d planned to ride on July 11th, but I was in hardcore recovery mode from going for a paddle in my kayak. Jens was there to help me get it into the water and then left me to my own devices as I paddled up stream. I made it all the way from the rowing club to the first spillway just outside of Uppsala’s downtown proper. Heading up stream was a snap. There wasn’t much wind and barely any current. The water level in the river is so low that the spillway is more of a ‘dribbleway’ at the moment. We really need rain.

Getting back was more of a challenge, as wind decided to kick up and hubby was trying to rush me so we could have dinner out with his parents. Dinner was a bit of a blur. I was so exhausted, I remember very little of it.

The new ‘life vest’ thingie we got worked a treat though. It’s one of those things that inflates if you get submerged, so it’s small and almost sleek to wear. Good thing. I would have hated to look so very ridiculous as I did on the first float with the kayak what with the vest up around my nose and nothing to see between said vest and hat, but my sunglasses peeking out.

The reason for concern about how it would have looked with the vest was that I wound up getting into the way of a professional grade video camera. A film crew on a boat filming shots for a tourism commercial. As we floated by each other in opposite directions, one of the guys called out, ‘If we keep this shot is it okay if you’re in the commercial?’

I actually agreed.

But, after 6+ miles of paddling, struggling against the wind, and my rump finally feeling as if it had been beaten with a granite slab, I really needed a day to rest. I practically slept through most of July 11th. My arms had felt on the verge of falling off after the paddle, but by the 12th, I felt fine again. I found that level of recovery rather impressive.

Honestly, on the 12th, I was torn between paddling or triking, but hubby talked me into riding because he wanted a break from taking 6+ mile walks with Loke. I decided it was just as well because I was also out of watermelon and cherries. I’d also promised to bring some to my lovely MIL because Vaksala Square produce market has the absolutely BEST watermelon in Sweden.

It looked as if it might rain as Loke and I set out. A blessing really. It was fairly warm and VERY humid so even though it was windy, it did absolutely nothing to cool things down. So, the lack of a sizzling sun meant it was almost comfortable.

Loke was SUCH a slug. No, actually, slugs were passing us in riots of mocking laughter he was so slow. Seems he was really feeling his age today.

A few miles into the ride and approaching the ice cream shop, I saw a woman who was out with her Saluki puppy. OMG! TOO CUTE and delightfully elegant even as a pup! She was 4 months old and such a dainty little lady. Very timid.

The shop had my cherry chocolate crunch and I sat on a low wall to enjoy it while Loke sighed and finally sat down out of sheer boredom.

Down the hill from the ice cream shop, I started my hunt at the health stores, looking for a salve I use on problem skin. Nope! “Life” shops which have always carried the stuff and not a single one of the three had it. Ominous. As if the stuff has been discontinued. I also popped into Naturkompaniet (The Nature Company) shop again, looking for one of those little air-up seat pads. Not for the trike, but the kayak. After 2 hours on the provided seat, it felt like I was sitting on jagged granite… and I was in the kayak for 4+ hours. They didn’t have what I was looking for though.

Then it was off to the fruit stand. The guys who run it gave me cheerful waves as I rolled up to park in the shade of a tree for Loke. I hurried grabbed what I wanted and then called my MIL to see if she was home.

Yep! As we left Vaksala Square at the edge of Uppsala’s downtown district, the clouds became almost scarce. Unpleasant. We went even slower out of respect for Loke. It also seemed to be the stretch with the least shade on the way to my husband’s parents.

Fortunately, Kiki (MIL’s nickname) was waiting with cold water for Loke and ‘saft’ for me. She cut a chunk of melon to share around with my FIL and one of my husband’s sisters. Loke, the stinker, snuck out of the kitchen and into the living room where he found a decorative square of reindeer hide to start shred. The brat.

After Loke and I both cooled down a bit, we headed back out into the sun to ride home. I was actually quite impressed with the day. Slow, yes, but also the longest ride since January at over 9 miles. On some recent rides, I felt pretty bad. This hurt, that hurt, weak, couldn’t breathe, no energy. Not as bad as when I walk, but not fun. This ride, while I didn’t have any oomph (and didn’t need it with pokey Loke), I felt like I could honestly have gone on for hours more. My breathing felt fine. No pain. No where. My feet did get a bit warm and numb, but nothing horrible.

I felt so good that visions of flinging the trike into the car and striking out on a long ride filled my head. Alas, I want more confidence.

I took another short ride on the 13th. I do mean short. Right about 2 miles. Mostly it was just to give Loke a rolling walk. He’s really starting to act old. It’s worrying.

So, no ride yesterday (July 14th) as it was another kayak day. Nothing as ambitious as the last one. Just a lazy toodle downriver for 50 minutes, and then 25 minutes back. A tailwind is nice, kayak or trike.

Today (July 15th) was out for another very short jaunt to give my husband a break from long walks with Loke, which even at 12 years old, don’t really settle him. I should have started earlier when it was cooler, but since I went to Starbucks in the morning, having a half liter of warm, milk based beverage sloshing around in my tummy isn’t the most appealing prospect.

This summer has been pretty nice in a lot of ways. We’ve had ‘rather warm’ days mixed in with ‘mild’ or even cool days. Less than a handful of anything that qualifies as ‘hot’. One thing Uppland is starting to need rather urgently is rain. We really need a cover of thick gray clouds to settle in with a light, but steady rain for the better part of a week. The river is hardly flowing at all with water only dribbling over the spillways which makes for easy paddling back upstream, but on land, even some of the trees are starting to look droopy from lack of moisture. A steady, but gentle, ground-soaking rain of long duration would also refresh the bloom of summer flowers.

So, when Loke and I headed out from the garage and I saw the lovely dark gray clouds to the north, I was hopeful. Some cover from the sun would have been nice for Loke at least though I could have enjoyed not having the sun-side of my body feeling like it was about to crisp right through my cycle clothing.

The fuzzy one had a bit more spring in his step today than the last outing. He wasn’t as interested in stopping to sniff as frequently and even pulled into a slow run as we descended down the cycle path underpass beneath the 55. I think it’s probably because he’s feeling better thanks to not having reindeer the past several days. I’m 95% convinced he’s developed a low grade allergy to it to go along with just about every other possible food source. Vet specific kibble that costs 100 USD per 17 lbs and rabbit is all I’m remotely certain he’s non-reactive to any more.

The clouds sadly broke apart into dark looking clumps. One speckled us with a few drops, but no more than that. Loke was moving well enough, I decided to add the 0.75 mile of the out-n-back to the Uppsala Garrison. As we toodled along that stretch, I found myself squinting suspiciously across the fields on the right. Chain link fence. I don’t remember that. I’m sure I don’t remember it, but it didn’t look new either. That filled me with a bit of misgiving. So much of Uppsala’s green spaces have been gobbled up with ugly eye-sores of apartment buildings. Now, the idea that the countryside might get pushed further back from my hamster-tracks is, frankly, nauseating. Hopefully, it’s just the garrison expanding it’s ‘protected’ area and they won’t be bulldozing it.

I decided not to push on further though Loke still seemed willing. Definitely taking a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach with him as more and more, he’s starting to act his age.

As for me though, I felt pretty good. Nothing pained me and breathing was fine. I had a bit of an episode where I was struggling just to make it back to the car after shopping for dinner, but there was no sign of pain, breathlessness, weakness, or lack of energy in the muscles. I count that a win. Maybe I’ll actually get enough confidence to go off the hamster tracks soon.

So, that’s me caught up after a fashion.