The Dog Days of Summer

dog days of summerSince so much of my formative education comes from knowledge I learned playing and watching baseball – my understanding of the “dog days of summer” comes from baseball as well.  In ball terms, it’s the 40 day stretch from July 3 to August 11 that represent the hottest and most humid part of the baseball season.  These dates pretty much coincide with the time my girls are away at camp, so once again baseball logic prevails and thus we are in the dog days of (my) summer as well.

Unlike the Mets (and all the other teams that I really don’t care all that much about), my dog days of summer bring with it a nice respite from the other 45 weeks of the year.  That change of pace has become important to all of us in the house – and despite the forecast highs in the 90’s and the air quality warnings, it is a breath of fresh air.

During these days I am not on the go trying to coordinate three schedules, keep my career afloat, manage the house and this year plan a bat mitzvah.  The summer brings with it a chance for me (and the girls) to take a break from that pace – and do our own things.

For the girls it’s camp – where they are now for a fifth summer.

For me, I get a chance to do some travel – both work and sometimes even pleasure.  I can slow down and enjoy sitting on the beach at sunset without having to worry where anyone is, or sleeping past six in the morning without worrying someone won’t make it to school on time.

Granted, there are always those things that come up – this year its an unexpected (and slightly extended) visit from my brother which has slowed down the house stuff.  But it will get done.

Dog days of summer were probably conceptualized by the ancient Romans.  While their thought the the bright star Sirius (The Big Dog) rises and sets with the sun and helps generate extra heat.  But they did have it right during this time the stars (Sirius and the sun) are aligned – giving rise to the dog days.

In recent year’s I’ve had to contend with knee rehab, a travel schedule that had me on the road weekly, and last summer’s silence.

It’s still not set in stone what this summer will hold for me, or just how much I will have to say about it – because as ball players do in the dog days of summer, I too shall conserve some energy and be ready for the stretch run of 2015.

Just as I hope the dog days of summer for the Mets bring on important games in September – once our dog days end, we have a sprint to the end of the year.  It’s back to school in September, a bat mitzvah in October and the launch of the holiday season in November and December.  All of that before flipping the calendar to 2016 – but none of it before we celebrate the dog days of summer.

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My Summer “Off”

My Summer OffAlmost two-weeks into my summer off (at least off from being a parent) and time is going by quickly.  Last summer, while the girls were at camp I was busy doing PT two-three times a week to recover from ACL replacement.  Nothing like that this summer, it’s kind of like having my summer off.

It’s not to say nothing is getting done, it is. It’s just a different feeling than last summer, or even two summer’s ago (the girls’ first summer at camp).  Two years ago, I was just starting my job so  there was a lot to learn and lot’s of running around.  Last  year it was all the PT.  This year, it’s actually time to just take a breath.

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And coming off the year, at least the first six months of 2013 that we had, time off is not so bad.  Between my second knee surgery (and extended PT), 13.0’s Bat Mitzvah and 10.5’s break-out violin year-we did a lot.

So now I get letters 4-5 times a week from the girls, we talk once a week and we’re all able to just unwind-not so bad.

So yeah, I still have a lot of work to do.  I have a heavier travel schedule over the summer than I carry during the year and I’m still trying to get a few projects done around the house.  But in the end, so far, my summer “off” is pretty good.

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Lacing Up The Running Shoes For Cause

Cupid Undie RunWith very little “training” accomplished, I’ll be pulling on the running shoes next week, and stripping down to my undies for a one mile (or so) romp through Chelsea and the Meat Packing sections of NYC-it’s all for a good cause.  But even a mile at this point is an accomplishment.

The Cupid Undie run Run New York is a benefit run supporting the Children’s Tumor Foundation.  For me, it’s a chance with very little pressure to test out both of my knees.

By the time the run steps off next week it will be six weeks since my second knee surgery. So far, PT has been going well but I am just starting to run.  The good news about this one mile trek is that there is no clock.  I fully expect to be in the very back of the race, chugging along mostly trying not to take a bad step.

And since this is a fundraising run, I’ll invite all to make a contribution to the cause.  To start things off on my page, I’ve already donated the proceeds from my book, The Beginning of the Middle of the End of the Beginning from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the cause.

I hope you’ll contribute too (and buy my book if you haven’t already).

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Been There Done That, Again

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been-there-done-thatIn what until now I’ve shared on a need to know basis only-I face another knee surgery early tomorrow morning.  In scale, this one is nothing like the ACL surgery I went through in June and spent the last six months rehabbing from.

In fact, my left knee is doing incredibly well after all of that hard work.

This time, its my right knee facing the knife.  As I was amping up my rehab my of my knee, I tore a piece of the meniscus off the bone in my right knee.  Normally, this is not something that would require surgery, except the small piece that broke off is in the joint and causing me pain as I get around.

My doctor (same one who rebuilt my left knee) describes this surgery as 15 minutes and I walk out.

My last knee surgery experience was 3.5 hours on the table, and rolling out in a soft cast with crutches.

At least via description this one sounds much better.  The timeline for rehab is about two weeks for this surgery and then I’ll need another two weeks to catch up for my left knee and I should be done with PT some nine months after I started pre-habbing my left knee.

So, off to bed early I go tonight, up and out for the train tomorrow and if all goes according to plan WALKING out of the surgical center by 10 tomorrow morning.  I’m counting on it.

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The Single Dad Treadmill Spins Again

Here it is not quite 8 in the morning on the first Monday of December, and today is already all about being on a treadmill.  Running-and today pretty hard-and not really getting anywhere.  So, before a minor knee injury to my good knee I was just starting to get off the treadmill at the gym and started seeing things again while running.  Being back on the treadmill at the gym (and PT) is very much in line with my morning today (although if I make the gym it won’t be until much later).

Today’s running in place really started the week of the storm when I had the girls scheduled for their annual physical with their doctor.  Since moving to our house we’ve gone to the same place because it’s a huge practice and I can always get an appointment when I need one.  For well child though, the girls have found a specific doctor they like.  It’s a “girl” doctor who they feel comfortable with, so when scheduling, instead of taking whomever is available at the time I want to go, I work around her schedule.

The Monday before the storm (a month ago) I had a 3:15 appointment-easy with a pick up from school.

In rescheduling the best I could do was 8:45 this morning.  Not a problem I thought when I scheduled, everyone just goes to school late.

Then came 12.5’s friend’s birthday and they have to decorate her locker.  Still not awful, I take her up to school, they do the locker thing, and I take her home before school starts.  But Monday is orchestra day for my 10-year-old violinist.  With the concert 10 days away, no missing.  So back to the drawing board.

So, 12.5 gets to school at 7, they decorate the locker and she goes to first period and then I pick her up.  I can make that work.

10.0 though is a little trickier.  Its much tougher to get her out of school, and 830 will be an awkward time because it’s literally as the school day is starting.  But again I can make that work too.

So, armed with notes, candy, wrapping paper, breakfast and a violin, off my girls went this morning-mostly for pre-school activities.  I’ll get them as school starts, and get them back in time for lunch.

Round and round goes the treadmill, racking up miles but never really getting anywhere.

And don’t forget, Dad the Single Guy’s new book “The Beginning of the Middle of the End of the Beginning” available now on Nook and Kindle.

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Re-Starting, Re-Focusing

The good news is on August 1 I am back on schedule-modified schedule but my schedule none the less.

The downside is the modified schedule is not quite what I had in mind for the summer of 2012, but beggars can’t be choosers and being back on my schedule (even modified) means I’ve cleared a lot of hurdles since mid-May when I tore my ACL and mid-June when I had the surgery to put a new ACL into my left knee.

So out went the Tough Mudder and out went the triathlon.  In came hours of PT and a lot of time on the couch to think about whats important and goals.

With the girls away at camp-and based on the pictures the camp posts and the weekly calls I get having a great summer, it was with a clear conscience I could set about re-setting my goals not just for the summer but for beyond.

I am months away from being done with PT and resuming the active part of my life.  The girls will be home in a couple of weeks-which I am so ready for, and I’ll be able to greet them without a brace.

During the “down” time I’ve had I’ve been able to think about what is important and how to achieve it.  Health club girl has helped a lot with that, sometimes you just get lucky (as I think) or our destinies were intertwined long ago (as she believes).  EIther way though, there are positives coming out of what could have been a negative.

So, with some of the home improvement done, some of the reorganization at home done and my slowly getting back onto a regular schedule, at midpoint of the summer of 2012 things are not as originally scripted, but going alright.

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Phase 1 Complete

As we reach the mid-point of the summer (and only two and a half weeks until the girls come home), I have finally managed to get phase one of this summer’s home upgrade projects done.  And when I say I was able to get it done, means I was able to hire someone to get it done, because I am pretty limited in what I can take on this summer.

Project one was to have the original wood floors we built into the house re-finished.  There was a point in time I was thinking about renting the sander and taking this project on by myself.  The knee injury interceded in that plan.  And probably for the best.

Until this week I had never experienced refinishing wood floors.  After this week, I could probably go a lifetime without experiencing it again.  The good news is the company I hired did a nice job protecting adjoining areas and cleaning up-but man what a mess and what a smell.

Because I was having the wood floors from the front door to the back door re-finished, for the first day I was actually captive in the house for more than half the day-waiting for the first coating of lacquer to dry. Fortunately I was able to sleep out the second night, coming home to my new floors.

I have a few more projects to finish.  I am hoping before the girls get home, but once again it will be close.

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Another Round of Changes

Within the last week another round of changes occurred in the quiet house-and much like last year at this time it’s not all that bad.

First, I got my new “activity” brace for my knee.  The nice thing about this brace is that it’s designed to wear while doing things, so I am now far more up and about-and that’s a good thing.  I could be back in the gym at some level by next week, but still months away from getting back to full activity.

With my new brace strapped onto my leg, it was off to visiting day over the weekend to see the girls.

Now I really do miss the girls a lot.  This year, being mostly stuck in the empty house and not being able to get done what I wanted to, even more.  Its three weeks into their summer camp and normally I would be out and about doing things, or puttering around the house doing things.

And with the new brace in place, it was back onto the Long Island Rail Road and into the office for me as well.  Back to the grind-and even that is not so bad.

This summer though, there is a will to get things done, and I’m getting there-but the results are slow to come by.  Think about all you do in a day and the ways your legs move around under you.  I had never thought about it until I could not move my legs.

But new brace, new capability and getting things done, not so bad-and seeing my girls priceless.

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The Camp Call and the Promise

At least for right now, and the next week and a half, rehabbing my knee and visiting day for camp with the girls will be intertwined.  And for better or worse, it’s going to be a very close call.

Last Saturday was the first of the seven calls I’ll get from the girls from camp.  All is well with them, they are making new friends and reuniting with friends from last year.  They sounded great, up beat and really enjoying themselves.

Then I made what could be a mistake.

9.5 asked me how my knee was doing and if I would be off crutches and able to go swimming on visiting day at camp.  I said, “Of course I will be, not to worry.”

Then the first dose of reality sank in.  If this weekend were visiting weekend I would not be able to go swimming and I would be on crutches.

The good news is I have a week and a half.  I see my surgeon Monday and there is no reason to think I won’t be able to get off crutches and out of the massive brace.  But there will be the hurdle of getting the new “activity” brace in time.  That will be very close.

So, I did what I do best.  I started planning now.  I’ve already spoken with two places about getting it to me.  I can certainly do what I need, and I can’t believe it won’t be possible.

Then the next hurdle, swimming.  Right now, there is one section of stitches that has not yet dissolved.  Again I see the surgeon on Monday.  So between now and then either they dissolve, or the surgeon will have to work some magic.

Then came reality dose number 2 today.  While I think I am making pretty good progress with my knee.  I can bear weight on it, I can get around without my crutches on it, I am walking (short distances) comfortably without a brace on it.  So I got on the exercise bike at PT today.

That was an eye opener.  I know it’s a long slow process, but I expected to be able to complete a full revolution of the pedal once in 10 minutes-forward or backward.  Hell, I’ve been riding bicycles of one form or another since I was two years old.

No such luck.  About 65% pedaling forward and 75% backward was all I could do.

So another ACL patient was on the bike next to me and shared it took her two weeks of work to get to a full revolution.  But still, I was hoping (maybe expecting) better.

So, the girls are good and I am still ahead of schedule on my road to recovery.  I just need to be more measured in my promises and my expectations.

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Pavlov’s Knee

Today was day one of post-ACL replacement rehab.  That’s as opposed to the pre-hab I did before the surgery.  And let me first say that five days post-op, man that kicked my ass.

The good news though is with pushing and stretching I was hitting 90 degree on the flex and I was able to complete the full regiment.  I am using crutches but putting weight on my knee and even stopped hopping up and down the stairs.  So there is progress.  And I know I am in for the long haul to get back into the gym, back on the ice and back to all the things I like to do.

This is my first bought with rehab so it’s all pretty new to me.  One of the interesting elements is the use of electronic stimulation.  The therapist explained to me today that the goal pre and post op is very different and the applications are different.  To that end, three different times they used the electrical stim.

During one of the exercises, the machine was set to pulse every 10 seconds.  Ten seconds on, 10 seconds off.  During the on pulse I had to flex the Gracilis muscle (I had to look up the name, they just pointed to the muscle I needed to work.  Hold the flex for 10 seconds and then relax while the simulator was in a “stand by” mode.

Then as the ampage revved up for the next 10 seconds I flexed.

The goal is to “re-teach” this muscle group how to contact and fire.  This is the muscle that runs down the inside of your thigh and crosses across the knee and other joints-so its a key muscle.  Right now, its at about 25% of capacity.  Clearly a lot of room to improve.  And I suppose much as the dogs learned when they heard a bell it was time to eat, over the next few weeks I’ll figure out how to contract the gracilis on command.

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