Friday, February 25, 2011

A Tale of Two Pit-Bulls

With the exception of women, there is nothing on earth so agreeable or necessary to the comfort of man as the dog. 
 ~Edward Jesse, Anecdote of Dogs
Looking back at previous post I realize that I have yet to formally introduce my two canine cohorts Whiskey and Ramsey.

I love my dogs so this is a grievous oversight on my part, and the hounds will receive extra kibble for my lack of vision.

First allow me to introduce “Whiskey”, affectionately named after…well, Whiskey. A 52 pound Pit-lab mix.

She’s basically a lemon in the dog world and would probably be recalled if she was an automobile.

See the problem is she leaks, A LOT, in fact she has projectile pee that can come out of her hind parts at high velocity and travel 3 feet before you can utter the word “Nooooooo!!!”

“Whiskey” is our paper tiger, and she was our first adoption after we had to put down our ‘Blitzy” last summer.

There’s nothing more enjoyable that watching her haul A** through the yard, she loves it and I love her for it.

Her speed is truly something to behold and I swear that she knows when and where to “catch air” on our trails.

I don’t think I have ever seen a dog as happy as when Whiskey gets her run on.

Then there is this girl…

"Ramsey” named after Ramsey’s Draft, is a 62 pound Pit-bull with a heart as big as Texas. She’s my girl. I would fight you for this dog.

The story of Ramsey is that my wife and I were at the National Pit-Bull awareness Day looking for a sibling for Whiskey when in strolled Ramsey laid back as ever.

She did the “doggie lean” against my wife and it was over with.
She went home with us that day.

Every single morning without fail Ramsey pops up with her two front paws and big bulbous head to wish us a good morning.

I have seen my share of "mean" dogs and have probably had more contact with “vicious” ones than most. That being said “breed specific” bans and legislation are not the answer. In fact it’s probably one of the most ludicrous things I have ever heard of.

If you want accountability then look no further than the dog’s owner, Saying a dog is responsible for being vicious is the equivalent of saying forks make people fat, are you going to ban those next?

When you hear about a sensationalized attack on the news although often times tragic, think for yourself and filter through some of the BS, there is always a back story to what you see.

Looking to adopt? These guys can point you in the right direction if you’re in the Metro Tri-Cities Richmond area.

Ring Dog Rescue


Monday, February 21, 2011

Vibram Five Fingers Review

So I just picked up a pair of Vibram Five Fingers from a local specialty shoe store.

I went with the “Treksport” model (Black/Charcoal $100.00) because of the 4mm treaded outsole which I wanted for extra traction on the trails.

Before I get into the meat of my review I wanted to cover my experiences with finding a pair of Five Fingers and why you should do some research on your own before you buy a set.

I visited 3 different stores before finding a retailer who actually had my size (42) in stock.

Once I found the Five Finger’s display at what would be my final stop on my search for the shoes I listened contently to the exchange between the saleswoman and another guy who was also entertaining buying a pair.

This is an "abridged" but accurate account of what transpired;

The customer, a younger guy who was quite “stocky” asked the saleswoman if she could tell him about the shoes.

The saleswoman explained that it didn’t really matter which model he picked as all of the Vibram Five Finger’s were the same…

Vibram makes a HUGE blue “foot” that is used to measure the correct foot size for the Five Fingers; you will find this "Blue foot" wherever you find the Vibram Five Fingers.

The customer then asked if the HUGE blue foot was there so that he could be measured, as I stood there with an increasingly puzzled scowl, the saleswoman responded that the blue foot was simply a part of the “display” and that Vibram Five Fingers went by standard foot measurements...

“Ok then, I need a size 11”, and the saleswoman was off to retrieve the size “11” Five Fingers. Shortly thereafter she returned with the news that she did in fact need to measure the customer’s foot using big blue.

I did not use that saleswoman...

That being said, the background for “why” I wanted to get a pair is answered by my continuing rehab for my ankle arthroscopy.

My Physical Therapist and I talked in length about the idea that the Five Fingers would be a great way for me to strengthen the supporting muscles in my foot and ankle making me stronger than I was prior to the surgery.

That being said, I am not a marathon, Ultra, or even 10K runner. The average distances I ran prior to my surgery were 3 to 5 miles almost exclusively on trails.

So the Five Fingers are basically a strength training tool at this point.

As it is probably cliché to describe the fit of the Five Fingers as “glove like” that’s how they fit. I have short stubby toes with my big toe being the longest, so I have considerable room in all of the toe boxes except my big toe which fits snugly against the fabric. (If you have long toes this could potentially be an issue)

My first impressions of the Five Fingers were that the fit was probably to snug for comfort and that I should have gone with a size 43, but once I settled into the shoes they became increasingly more comfortable with every wear.

Vibram put 4mm of EVA in the mid sole for a degree of protection but I can assure you that you will feel stumps, rocks, and uneven terrain underneath your feet. The fact that your toes can and will wrap around ground features like small roots should definitely be taken into account.

My normal trail shoes are INOV-8’s which also have minimal cushioning so I don’t feel like I’m taking a huge leap to the Five Fingers for strength training. If you’re used to the generous cushioning found in many trail runners you should take that into account before you buy.

The uppers are mesh and as such have no water repellency, while the small cleats on the out soles worked well in loam, clay, wet leaves, and sand. (I would recommend this style for anyone who spends time on the trails; the Five Fingers do have reflectors on the straps and heels for anyone using them on the road)

The heel cup keeps my foot securely in place with little to no play as if the shoe is glued to my foot.

It takes a few times to get the hang of putting the Five Fingers on and even then they still take a few minutes longer to don that your normal shoes, so if you’re the type that likes to throw on your kicks and head out the door this is something you should take into account.

It would seem obvious, but the Five Fingers don’t provide any form of ankle support so I’m not sure how they would fare with load bearing activities like carrying a backpack or rucksack. (Something I will try later, as well as a follow up review on the longevity of the Five Fingers after I have put some miles on them).

Paired with a set of injinji socks the Five Fingers are incredibly comfortable and have already become my “got to” shoes for walking the trails around the house, rehab, playing with the dogs in the yard, and grilling out.

If you’re looking at building stronger support muscles to make you a better hiker, runner, or walker then the Five Fingers will make a great addition to your gear closet, but go slow and ease into the experience to fend off any injuries, in the short time that I have been wearing them I can already feel the muscles in my toes and feet being engaged more than with any other type of footwear I have previously owned.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ankle Arthroscopy (Strange days)

I realize that I said I wasn't going to write another post about my Arthroscopy, and I wasn't, but this is bizarre enough to warrant another entry.

To set the background for this post I want to give you an idea of what a “Physical Therapy” business looks like, and this particular office was basically a large room with fitness equipment resembling a small gym.

At any given time there would be at least 6 clients mulling about addressing their rehab needs, with around 4 therapists present. (If you go into physical therapy thinking you’re going to get a personal trainer all to yourself, you may be sadly mistaken).

My primary Physical Therapist was out on family matters last week, so I was delighted to see the original female Therapist who worked on me during my first visit.
But much to my chagrin it was immediately apparent that something was "different".

"What was the nature of your injury again, I don't remember?" she inquired...

She then proceeded to ask what exercises I had been doing, and as I gave my best explanation of things I didn’t necessarily understand, she quipped for me to jump on the stationary bike and warm up as she walked away, which I did.

Then I moved on to the "machine that simulates squats" which may also be known as the "Total Gym" but then I don't know because curiously enough I don't have $3000.00 worth of exercise equipment at my house.

It became apparent that the "stand in" Therapist had limited knowledge of how to properly work the machine, and after another Therapist assisted her with the tension springs I was again instructed to "do what I did last time" since I didn't know what tension level I was supposed to be using.

As I worked through the remainder of my exercises the Therapist grew more and more agitated with my progress. (This is not an exaggeration on my part and I will back this up later).

As she attended to an older woman who I had seen on previous visits, the Therapist began barking at me (from across the room) to stop looking at my foot as I was working on a balance board that assists with range of motion.

"Stop holding onto the bar so tight!!!  She barked again.

Then it was on to the “Bosu-ball” for some more squat exercises.

“You’re going down to far!”

“Stop holding the bar so much”!!!

“You remind me of my kids, I always have to watch what you’re doing!!!”

All of these “instructions” were yipped across the gym in such a manner that other therapist and their clients would stop what they were doing long enough to process the scene.

As I finished my sets I could hear my Therapist explaining to the female client that she didn’t need to work, and that she was only there to “maintain her skills”…

The therapy session was over and as I paid my Co-pay the older female client I mentioned earlier walked up, looked me in the eye, and said, “Wow! She was yelling at you”…I cracked a smile and indicated that it was “tough love” and bid her and the Secretary a good day.

I was done with Physical Therapy.

The total cost of the Ankle Arthroscopy process.

-2 Consultation visits at $40.00 a visit “Co-pay” with insurance.
-No Co-Pay for the initial X-rays. (Covered by Insurance)
-$100.00 Co-pay for the MRI prior to surgery
-$300.00 Co-Pay for the actual Arthroscopic surgery
-Physical therapy twice a week for 3 weeks at $40.00 Co-pay each visit.
-$40.00 ankle brace

Total cost: $720.00

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Pirates" on the Outdoor Blogger Network

So the Outdoor Blogger Network has added "Pirates" to their list.

I think that's pretty cool of those folks.

Check the "Network" out, they have some incredible personalities and adventures.

Outdoor Blogger Network

I'm pretty stoked...


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Turn the page...

"Of Pirates & Prestige" has added a new page!

The "Out There" page is a photo-journal of some of our backpacking/tent camping trips.

Each picture tells a story and serves as a reminder to "get out there".

Enjoy & get inspired to go explore.

Ankle Arthroscopy (Physical Therapy overview)

Another rain soaked day has given me the opportunity to reflect on the physical therapy portion of my ankle surgery and the fact that this will probably be my last post about the subject sans an occasional update on the overall status of my recovery.

My therapist, “David” explained my situation in great detail and answered every single one of my uninformed questions.

Part and parcel to my ankle surgery is the fact that David showed me that my arch has fallen as well, which is something else I will need to focus on with strengthening the muscles to help support the area and make it stronger which has been the goal all along…(To get stronger).

My experience with physical therapy has been an excellent one, but in all honesty I see the therapist as a sort of guide who pointed me in the right direction with strengthening and range of motion exercises and now it’s up to me to continue the program at home.

The biggest hurtle with all of this, the surgery, physical therapy, and my overall health is the fact that it’s hard to be active and then sustain an injury that sidelines you. (Yes I realize there are considerably more significant surgeries than ankle arthroscopy).

The trick is to remain positive throughout an experience like this and find humor in the small idiosyncrasies that occur during recovery (like falling down in the bathroom)

Another way to stay “up” is to have goals;

I keep telling myself that I will run “50” at 50, which means that I’m going to run a 50 miler for my 50th birthday…The big 5-0 is quite a few years away, but I see it as one hell of a motivator to recover.

The (A.T.) “Appalachian Trail” will also be there waiting for me at retirement, all 2,175 miles of it.

I see that particular goal as a celebration of surviving 25 or so years on the job, which again, is quite some time in the future.

Right now in the short term the goal is to get this damn boot off my foot and get back on my bike, or go running, or for a hike…

And as this post has evolved over the course of several days, my physical therapist has given me the “go ahead” to ride the single speed on mellow terrain, which is awesome.

Aside from my personal experiences with the surgery, this is what you may expect during your own recovery and physical therapy;

-They will probably take measurements to gauge your range of motion.

-They may measure the affected area to gauge any swelling

-They will give you light range of motion exercises to move your ankle both lateral and horizontal to your body. (this will probably be done with resistance bands)

-As you progress you will begin “weight bearing” exercises like machine assisted squats and range of motion exercises like riding a stationary bike.

-*I received several arch specific exercises that included standing in a particular manner and arch lifts and calf raises as well.