Friday, June 21, 2013

It should have been triathlon weekend

Instead, it is "four weeks after surgery weekend." Hard to believe, but it's already been that long again. I wish I could report that I am walking without crutches and that all evidence of swelling is a thing of the past, but it's not so: I still limp around without being able to put any real weight on my right leg, and the knee, even though I can now bend it to about 90 degrees, still feels as if it has a big lump of concrete in it. In other words: This is not my first choice of vacation.
The Life of Pi, while working on getting to 95 degrees
Since my last post two weeks ago the weather here in Freising has turned from barely spring to sweltering summer. No, Henrietta, they really don't have air conditioning here, and that includes the otherwise extremely modern physical therapy place as well as 98% of the shops and stores and restaurants. So what does one do? Well, you guessed it, one goes skinny dipping in the nearest pond!
A furry dog and a nekkid retiree contemplate the heatwave ...
... while toads are waiting to mate ...
... and Sabine cools off
Seriously, it has been pretty rough for a few days. After all the rain the mosquitoes are out in force, too, and sitting in a biergarten necessitates bug repellant. I've been spending the past two weeks with PT and occasional limpages into town. Since everything takes a little—no, a LOT!—longer than usual I really don't read as much as I thought I would, and I am certainly not getting bored. As indicated in the title of this post, the Erdinger Stadttriathlon is going to happen in two days, and Sabine and I have gone out to the venue so that she could ride the bike route while I enjoyed Erdinger Urweisse in the obligatory biergarten. Since the sun doesn't set until almost 10 p.m. there's time left after work to do things.
Somehow these two delicacies have become a staple in my diet
Last weekend was a very busy one as Sabine's son, Jonathan, celebrated his confirmation. His dad, grandparents, uncles. and assorted other relatives came to town to help with the festivities, and we were altogether 13 normal folk and one gimp. Good thing that I usually travel with at least one decent shirt so that they didn't run me out of the church. The weather had already turned from grey to sunny, and thus the whole affair will be remembered in the most positive light. I certainly got my fill of family (and many a fine beer!).
80-year-old Opa Karl and the gimp take a siesta after Sunday's lunch
In ten days I am going to fly back to the US, and I have to say that I am looking forward to getting back to my normal home. Sabine has been wonderful in caring for me, and I am trying to take over as many little chores as possible, but I am so damn limited. Yesterday I cooked again for the three of us, but standing for any length of time makes the leg swell up and I am so slow moving around even a small kitchen. But things are getting better, in small doses, and my patience level has been high with only very few short fits of desperation. On Monday I'll start thinking about how I'll manage to re-pack my bike as I would like to take it back to the states, if at all possible. so far, every problem has found a solution, and I'll keep thinking along those lines. On that note I'll leave you with these two fun photos that I have also posted on Facebook but that I would like to preserve for myself, both taken while hobbling through town.
That urchin sensed that I was going to ride his Scoot away
Six-pack holder for four beers
Have a great weekend, and see you before long.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Two weeks after surgery

Happiness is non-hospital and a beer!
Here we are, two weeks after surgery, and the damn leg is totally healed. NOT—just kidding! But things are much better than just a fortnight ago, and every day brings a little bit of an improvement, sometimes a bit more, sometimes a little less. Just getting out of the hospital last week Friday (nine days ago) was such a big thing for me. After Sabine drove me back to Bernd and Isolde's place in Wasserburg I propped up my leg and enjoyed a wonderful beer. I think the photo above speaks volumes.
Isolde, Norbert, Bernd, Sabine, Oliver, Martina, and Elli celebrate the Invalid's return to the Land of the Living
That afternoon, half a dozen of their sailing friends came over and we had a bit of prosecco before digging into home-baked cakes and coffee, in true German fashion. I had felt cared-for in the hospital, but this gave me the first feeling of "home," even though actually being there is still weeks away.
Playing with my big, green ball—rehab at home
We stayed for an extra night in Wasserburg before driving back to Freising. I had been worried about getting in and out of the car, and especially sitting for three hours, but neither was an issue. In pouring rain, which caused some of the worst flooding that southern Germany has seen in a long time, we arrived at Sabine's place, where I have been laid up for the past week. On Monday, I had my first PT session (I tell you, I've been super-lucky setting up appointments with almost no delay); rehab will continue on a thrice-weekly basis until I fly back. On Thursday I went to see an orthopedist whose office is literally 30 or 40 meters from Sabine's place. My stitches were removed and things look really, really good. I'm supposed to go back in two weeks for a quick check-up and a possibly a x-ray (which the doc had deemed unnecessary last week after providing him with all the pics that I had received from Prof. Maurer). The incisions are healing up nicely, even though there still are some very major bruises around my heel, my knee, and my outer upper thigh, all in colors that are worthy of a Kodak moment.
With thread ...
... and without
While Sabine has been back at work I have been reading, answering e-mails, doing leg exercises, paying credit cards and other bills online, and working with her son, Jonathan, on his English assignments and vocabulary lists. He's been having fun doing so, maybe because I once in a while throw a little zinger in there to keep him interested (e.g., telling him about Thomas Crapper, inventor of the modern flush toilet, when the word "crap" appeared in his vocabulary list). We've been sharing a few good laughs, for sure. I've also started to limp into town, not easy with the cobblestones surrounding Sabine's 16th century home. But I take my time, and with (now-)beautiful weather my mood improves when I get to run off for a little while.
Sabine, Barbara, Heiner, and the Invalid enjoying beer (shown) and music (not shown)
Friday night, Sabine and I went to an outdoor concert in one of the two town squares, maybe half a kilometer away. We met two friends and listened to the finest Bavarian music I've ever heard. No, this was not the stuff you'd hear in the Hofbrauhaus in Munich. Koflgschroa is a group of four young men from Oberammergau (they grew up with music, obviously!) who have developed a style totally their own playing tuba, waldhorn, guitar, and accordion. The result is something impossible for me to describe—if you have a minute, you may want to follow this YouTube link. Modern Bavarian music is something else! After all the crappy (there's that word again!) weather everybody seemed to be out, enjoying brews and the concert (which celebrated the 500th anniversary of a local pub, Furtner).
The whole scene was different from what one would expect at a similar concert in many (maybe even most) parts of the US: People walking up or riding their bikes, no loud talk by anyone but a steady murmur of conversation by those a bit away from the small stage, while those in front of the stage are enraptured by the gentle, caressing sounds these guys produced; waiters not overly concerned about whether your beer is empty; a city bus driving by every 20 minutes, and the occasional taxi unloading a few more spectators. Dress code is Bavarian-casual: some seem to have shopped at the local Goodwill, others come in Lederhosen, and some are definitely gussied up. It's all a melange that exudes a soft, almost caressing atmosphere. The German word, which is untranslatable, is Gemütlichkeit, I believe.
Easy does it, on stage ...
... and off
Yesterday was another beautiful day, and Sabine decided to take me out for a big excursion, to the Staffelsee, about 100 K south of us. No, no more sailing—nyet to that for a while, I'm afraid. But just this past week she had been in that area with a delegation from Cincinnati, OH, in her capacity as a landscape architect for the City of Munich, and she thought that my spirits would be lifted (I did have a 5-minute hissy fit on Friday afternoon) if we went to the foothills of the Alps. Oh man, was this ever a pretty trip! The recent torrential rains had produced more snow in the Alps, and the vistas were spectacular. We went to a small Biergarten on the north shore of the Staffelsee, and the view was unparalleled:
Staffelse and Alps: It doesn't get much more picturesque
Of course, it wasn't just the view that was so overwhelming—the refreshments were just as top-notch. Smoked fish, giant pretzels, and even more gigantic beers are all my middle names. Afterward we lounged in the grass, like all the other good folks who were out to enjoy a wonderful summer day.
This was dessert—the smoked fish had come first!
We lingered until after 7 p.m., when a more-traditional oompah band started playing next door, creating a perfect backdrop for our leaving. If it weren't for crutches and a still-unbendable knee my life would be pretty close to perfect—of course I wouldn't have been here since I would have been back in Lubbock since Monday. Oh well, let's not even start the what-ifs but rather be glad for what I have, and that has been a helluva lot of good stuff for the past two weeks!
Traditional sounds on the Staffelsee
And that's been my past week. In an few minutes we're going to go to Weihenstephan for a traditional Bavarian brunch of Weisswurst und Weizenbier, the local sausage with you-know-what. Tomorrow, Sabine has to go back to work, I will have PT in the late afternoon, and I may venture back into town. I'll do my exercises and try to do as much as I can to heal up. I have been able to change my return flight to the US to July 1, and I hope that with American's Special Assistance I'll manage that 24-hour day in airplanes and airports. But I won't worry about that right now: My job is to continue my recovery and be a as little of a burden to Sabine and Jonathan as possible, which is not easy when one is on crutches.

For the time being, enjoy your early summer and don't get injured!