Sunday, October 23, 2011

Foot Recovery Update (10/23)

I had another doctor's appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon last Friday (10/21) and it was a rather short visit, which means this will be a rather short post. Xrays were taken again, and I let the doctor know that I hated walking around with this screw in my foot (for obvious reasons). Most of you don't see or know this, but when I'm at home, I walk around freely without the annoying Aircast boot on my foot. I can be a little more careful walking around the house than I can out in public, so I'm required to wear the boot. The doctor said there is a real threat of the screw actually snapping in two inside my foot (PS: that would be BAD), so that's the need for the boot - to keep the stresses on the screw to a minimum when I'm walking to decrease the risk of it snapping. He did say that he feel's it's been long enough that if the screw is bothering me enough it is the right time to remove it.

So here's the good news: the surgery has been scheduled for Thursday the 27th of October (that's in 4 days!!!). I will have the screw removed early in the morning and be discharged from the hospital probably sometime around noon. The doctor tells me I will be able to walk around normally (and hopefully feeling a lot better in the foot) that same day. For those who know me well enough and know where I live, you are invited to come visit me at home later that day. All the visits people are willing to muster are helpful in such situations!

As a side note, I have set a goal to run in the Ragnar del Sol relay race (from Wickenburg to Tempe) the last weekend of February. I believe the goal is completely achievable as the doctor tells me I should be able to start running again by late November to early December. I believe that it is by setting such goals that one ultimately achieves success above and beyond expected results. For those who don't know, the Ragnar race is about a 75 mile race that is run in a relay-style by up to 12 members of a team. Most runners run an average of 4 mile segments at a time. For more information on the Ragnar del Sol, please click here. Participating in such a relay race just under 8 months after an injury such as a Lisfranc fracture would be a serious feat - which is why I want to do it :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Who says Mormons aren't Christians?

I grew up in Mesa, Arizona. I recently graduated college. I'm a Mormon.


Do you know a Mormon? Are you a Mormon? The worldwide membership of Mormons (whom are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) is quickly approaching 15 million. For a religion that was officially organized in a small log cabin in New York in 1830 consisting of six original members, the Church has advanced and continues to do so at astronomical rates. With so many members the world over, chances are that if you aren't a Mormon, you probably know someone who is.


Often times, those who are not well-learned about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (we'll call it the LDS Church from here on out) are somewhat misinformed about the beliefs and practices of its' members. For instance, many people still associate "the Mormons" with polygamy (the practice of many women marrying the same man), even though the LDS Church officially denounced and discontinued the practice over 120 years ago. Even more astounding is the fact that many are (falsely) led to believe that Mormons are not Christian. The very name of the LDS Church connotes some sort of belief in Jesus Christ - after all, it wasn't named after Joseph Smith, but after Jesus Christ. One can read this article to find out just what Mormons do believe about Jesus Christ and how He relates to the divine Godhead.


Why did I author this little article? Frankly, I'm annoyed by the fact that someone who is not a member of the LDS Church claims to instruct us what we do and do not believe in. The Reverend Robert Jeffress is falsely trying to convince as many people as possible that Mitt Romney (a presidential GOP hopeful who is a Mormon) is not a Christian. I don't want to get into a political debate here, as politics is not my point. But the Reverend Jeffress is dragging the faith of millions of members of the LDS Church through the mud to further his motives - and that is wrong.


One of my good friends showed me this quote:
"It is not for us to say who is or is not close to the Spirit of Christ. We do not see into men's hearts. We cannot judge...it would be wicked arrogance for us to say that a man is, or is not, a Christian." - C.S. Lewis


What is Christianity? Caring, compassion, love of thy neighbor and love of God more than of thyself? What Robert Jeffress is saying is that because someone doesn't agree with him, they don't meet his definition of a Christian. They aren't good enough for him. They are going to hell because they don't worship exactly the way he does. This man is sorely misguided and needs to return to his Sunday school lesson on what being a Christian really is about. Compassion, love, hope, and charity.




*To read the story about how I became a member of the LDS Church, please click here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to Recover Your Stolen Laptop With Ease

Hey everyone – I’ve found something completely awesome thanks to Gizmodo.com and it is called Prey. Have you ever had a laptop or desktop computer stolen? Have you ever wanted it back? Well, with Prey, it’s not only possible, but extremely likely that you will recover your lost goods. Think of all the important junk you store on your laptop – financial records, passwords, school work, work work, and that video of you singing in the bathroom to the Backstreet Boys that you never wanted anyone to see (but never wanted to delete either). When it comes down to it, your laptop has some pretty important junk on it – maybe not very important to others, but to you – priceless.

Prey is a program that installs on your Mac, PC, Linux, Ubuntu and there’s a few others that I don’t know about. It works on either laptops or desktops and runs in the background, unknown to the user. After you install the program, you’ll never know it’s there until you need to use it. If you ever need to remove the program, you can simply re-download the installer, and choose the option to uninstall. Prey allows you, once you know your laptop is stolen, to activate its service via their online dashboard. Once Prey is activated, you need only to allow it some time to begin working it’s magic – 20 minutes is the maximum time between reports that are generated. Prey reports back location data, webcam snapshots, screenshots, etc…  The first thing you should do when you know your laptop is stolen is to notify the police and file a police report. You can then let them know that you have tracking software installed on your computer that will generate location-based data, and also provide images from the camera. This will allow you to make a positive identification of the thief, aid in their capture, and the return of your precious computer.

I recently “reported my laptop stolen” on the Prey dashboard to see how the reports would work. Below are some of the screen shots.


This first shot is an overview of the dashboard. You’ll see that it identifies my device, some of the network information (the wireless network my laptop is currently connected to – including the IP address). It shows how long ago the report was generated. The coolest part? A nice map that shows exactly where my computer is, based off of wifi data. (NOTE: In order to protect my privacy and the location of my home from people who I would rather not know where I live, this map is arbitrary and does not represent my home – if you want to stalk me, please do not go to the area indicated on the map as I don’t live there. I’m pretty sure the people who do live there wouldn’t like it either). In other words – I have cut and pasted a Google Map into this image – but the image is representative of what you would see if you reported your laptop or desktop stolen, only particular to the actual location of your hardware.


The next image is perhaps the most important of them all. It shows a screen shot of what is going on with my desktop. In this particular instance, I was lucky enough to nab a screen shot of the “perpetrator” (me) on his own Facebook page. I know it’s his Facebook page, because the next image clearly shows a webcam screenshot of him from my laptop’s webcam. I can cross reference the image with the name I’ve found on Facebook to positively identify the dirty rotten thief.



Big Brother? Absolutely. The possibilities with this are endless, but I’m just grateful that I can stop a thief in their tracks if they are ever dumb enough to steal my laptop from me. As a side note, if you decide to use Prey, you will need to activate the Guest Account on your laptop or desktop. This will allow the thief to get on the computer without accessing your sensitive data. How are you going to catch them using it if they can’t get on their wireless network, access Facebook, etc..? If you do not allow this, then the computer will not be able to connect to the internet when the thief opens it up and tries to use it. If you don’t have the guest account activated, when the thief tries to use your computer, Prey will still try to connect to an unprotected wireless network, but we all know those are few and far between these days.

How much does it cost? Prey is free from www.preyproject.com. If you are a privacy freak, they have made their software open-source so you can see the code for yourself and make sure they aren’t sending any Big Brother data back to their servers. They have a paid service as well that provides on-demand reports, or you can settle for a report every 20 minutes for free.

If you need help or would like more information, let me know, and I’d be glad to help you out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21 Foot Update

Here's the update that should have happened about three weeks ago that never did. Yeah, that's the update that should have happend after my last doctor's appointment on September 2nd. This was the much-anticipated appointment where the doctor was to tell me whether or not I could ditch the crutches. For those of you that have seen me in the last three weeks, you'll already know that this is the case - I no longer need the assistance of crutches to walk. After two long months of depending on them to get around to go ANYWHERE, it is a great relief to no longer need them. I never felt better shoving them in the closet, hopefully to never be seen again.

The doctor said that I was able to bear 100% weight on my left foot, so long as I was wearing my Aircast. Many people have thought that the cast I've been wearing is a new cast - it's not. It's the same cast I was wearing since I got the hard cast off back in August. I just wasn't able to walk on it until the September 2nd appointment. Some further freedoms that I have are that I am allowed to bear 25 - 50% weight on the foot without the Aircast on - so long as I take it easy and be careful. This includes walking around the house and doing light therapy. I can also ride a stationary bike wearing a normal shoe on the foot. The loss of the crutches has made significant improvements in my ability to return to the gym - I now can go regularly like before. Thanks to my good lifting friend Eric Barber, I have been getting some good upper body and core workouts in, along with cardio workouts coming from the stationary bike. He never gives me a break and is putting me to work (I do have 2 months of sedentary time to make up for). I can already see significant improvements in just 3 weeks (since September 2nd).

Physical therapy is going well. We've added some calf raise exercises, and stim therapy to my calf to prevent any further atrophy. Also, I've been working on "the Wave," which is kind of like a treadmill, but it more simulates the motion of rollerblading. More accurately put, it feels like you're treading through sand without lifting your feet. It is a zero impact cardio workout, which will help to strengthen my left ankle and foot, without putting an impact force on them. With the newfound use of my left leg to walk, the stim therapy, and the exercises I'm doing both at the gym and in physical therapy, I can see that my left calf is beginning to come back to normal size.

The last bit of good news is that the doctor said that sometime in November or December, I would be able to return to running as before. This is such awesome news and I'm so stoked for it. Once I can run again, I will really feel like things are beginning to return to normal. The most important part of everything that was learned in my last doctor's appointment was that he wants to see me again on October 14th...back on the 2nd this felt like forever away, but now it's much closer. The great thing about this appointment is that he said he will most likely decide then (depending on what the xrays show) to remove the screw from my foot (most likely the following week). There couldn't be better news. I'm glad the screw is there and is helping to provide support while my torn ligament heals, but it really is uncomfortable - especially when walking without the boot. I know my foot will be weaker when the screw is removed, but I'd rather not have it in my foot. As obvious as this statement sounds, it really does feel like there is a screw holding my foot tight together - it will be a great relief when it's gone.

Below is probably the last photo I'll post of my foot, as I don't anticipate it changing much more. I will provide another update after my next appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon on the 14th of October.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Foot Recovery Update (8/30)

Alright, so I wanted to wait until Friday to post an update, as I'll be seeing my orthopaedic surgeon that day, but so many people have asked, I figured I would post an interim update until then. That being said, I'll let you know the outcome of my visit with the doc on Friday when that day comes, but for now, here's an updated picture of the foot:


I'm sorry the foot is not the most attractive part of the body, and it's still a little swollen, so it looks like the foot of a 300 pound man. As you can see, the incisions have healed well, and there is only a small sign remaining of any scabbing. Other than that, they are completely sealed up (surgery date was 7/19).

As for how the foot heals, I still am forbidden to weight-bear. I was told at my last doctor appointment (when the hard cast was removed and replaced with an air-cast walking boot) that I would be able to walk without crutches on 9/2/2011 (this Friday) using the air-cast walking boot. I am totally stoked for that day, as I'm more ready than ever to lose these dang crutches.

I've been attending physical therapy each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday doing basic stretching exercises, along with putting marbles in a cup with my toes. They soak the foot in warm water to start, and I get a little massage to work out some of the swelling. My range of motion is significantly diminished, as compared with my right foot. For instance, in trying to curl the foot/toes upward (ankle pivot) toward my leg, I can only reach about 50% as compared to my right foot. In trying to extend downward, I have a little bit more range, reaching about 75% of the capacity of my right foot. When trying to curl my toes downward, I only reach about 10% the capacity of my right foot - upward is about 50%. I hate to sound like a smart alec in saying this, but it literally feels like there is a screw in my foot (which there is) that is making everything tight. At this point, after the ability to walk with the boot, my next milestone to look forward to will be the removal of the screw - hopefully sometime in November or December.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lisfranc Dislocation Update (8/13)

If you are following this story, thanks for your time spent in trying to understand the happenings in my life. I wanted to give a little update, because I went to visit the doctor yesterday about my foot. It was an appointment that I have been looking forward to since my last visit with the doctor two and a half weeks ago. The main reason why was because my hard cast was removed! I was scared to death of the cutting machine. While the image to the right is not the actual cutting machine that was used to remove my cast, it looked almost identical to it.

Once the cast was removed (it took some work as water apparently got into the cast and caused some of the gauze to stick to my skin) I began to remove a lot of the dead skin that was trapped for the 2 1/2 weeks. The biggest thing I noticed was the massive loss of muscle in my left calf and leg. There is nothing left in my leg, as I can't even flex it. After this doctor's appointment, I went right to physical therapy where they did a stimulus shock treatment on my leg, which Dr. Farnsworth said will more than likely prevent any further atrophy of what muscles might be left. You can see a definite difference in the picture to the left. The left leg is considerably skinnier than my right leg. Fortunately, once I can walk again, these muscles should come back rather quickly. The difficult part to swallow is the fact that I am going to have to essentially re-train my left leg to walk again. It's going to be difficult, but I know it'll be possible.

The doctor came in and looked at the foot. He decided that it was time to remove the stitches (which I was also scared of doing) and that he would place me in a full leg walking boot. I am to wear the boot for the next three weeks (until our next appointment) at which point he will make the decision on whether or not I can bear weight on it at that time. The good news is that most likely, in three weeks, just 1 1/2 months after surgery, I'll be able to walk again (albeit with the assistance of the walking boot). I am excited as heck to ditch the crutches. At that point, It'll feel as if some sense of normalcy has returned to my life. In the photo to the right (sorry to those with weak stomachs), you'll see the three incisions he made. The one on the side of my foot was where the screw was placed. The top two incisions were so that he could see the bones as he inserted the screw to ensure proper alignment. The doctor informed me that when he removes the screw (probably before the year ends), he will only make one incision in the same spot where he cut to put the screw in.


Some of you might be asking why the screw is coming out. The screw was only placed in the foot to hold my bones together while my ligament re-grows and heals itself. I also learned yesterday that swelling is a good thing. It means the body is sending blood cells to the affected area, which aids in regeneration and healing. Swelling is a good sign, you just don't want too much swelling. The screw will provide me with discomfort as I walk (when I can), because it is un-naturally holding my bones together. Naturally, the bones have some play to move around, so my foot is going to feel stiff until the screw is removed - which is why I am already looking forward to it. Below I've attached some of the x-rays so you can see just what happened on the inside of the foot...

In this x-ray, you can see the foot from the top with the screw inserted. It begins in the Lisfranc complex of bones (the bone just below my first metatarsal) and screws into my second metatarsal. If you compare this to the next picture (below) which was pre-surgery, you'll notice the gap between the Lisfranc bone has decreased significantly, to look more like my right foot.


This x-ray shows both of my feet prior to surgery. You'll notice the big gap on the left foot between the first and second metatarsal, while there is no gap on the right foot.

Here is a side view of the foot with the screw inserted.


Again, I will keep you updated as this progresses, because I know this is going to turn into a positive outcome Lisfranc dislocation story. I've read far too many negative stories on the internet, and I'm confident that my story will not turn out to be one of those. I know that my foot is going to heal stronger than it was before the injury.






Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Hate Anne Frank's Evil Sister

What do I have against Anne Frank's sister, you ask? Well, nothing really. I'm willing to bet the poor girl didn't even have a sister, but I could be wrong (it's been far too many years since I've read her diary). The reason I've gone off on this Anne Frank tangent before even beginning my story is because I recently added some new terminology to my dictionary: Lisfranc. Um, what? So the reference to Anne Frank is because if I tell someone about Lisfranc, it sounds like I'm talking about a girl with the given name of Liz and the surname of Frank. Quite the contrary. Lisfranc refers to a war surgeon named Jacques Lisfranc. "The Lisfranc joint, or tarsometatarsal articulation of the foot, is named for Jacques Lisfranc (1790-1847), a field surgeon in Napoleon's army. Lisfranc described an amputation performed through this joint because of gangrene that developed after an injury incurred when a soldier fell off a horse with his foot caught in the stirrup" (quote taken from here). So why is this important, you ask? Well, On July 4, 2011, I was (un)fortunate enough to receive a Lisfranc fracture to my left foot.


Let me give you the breakdown:

  • The Lisfranc fracture accounts for less than 1% of all fractures. Good job Ryan, you must be so proud of yourself.
  • It is commonly seen in FOOTBALL PLAYERS. In other words, this is a high energy break, and I might as well have been tackled during the Super Bowl (would have made for a better story anyway).
  • To explain the break in simple terms: My first metatarsal (aka the bone connected to my big toe) has become detached by 3 mm (2 mm is the maximum allowable before operative surgery is required) from the rest of the metatarsals. The only way to get the bone back in the correct position, and allow the torn ligament to heal, is to surgically insert a screw.
  • Surgery is required, or else my whole foot will collapse. Nice.
  • Recovery time: 6 months to a year with a high chance of later developing arthritis. This bundle of joy is here to stay.
How it happened:

How did this happen, you ask? On July 4th, 2011, I was invited to play Ultimate Frisbee with some friends at Poston Junior High School in Mesa, AZ. "Wow, this is going to be a cool, heat of the moment, he hurt his foot while doing some cool move" type of story. Wrong. As I pulled into the area I had planned on parking in, I decided I wanted a shady place to leave my truck (it's REALLY hot in Arizona in July - a good parking spot is determined by the amount of shade, not the distance one must walk). There was plenty of parking near an open gate that would lead me to the field where we were to play Ultimate, but no shade. I drove up about 100 feet or so and found my prime parking estate, right under a huge tree. It was sure to stay shady for the duration of my time there. I decided the open gate was too far away to walk to (in hindsight, it wasn't...) and chose instead to hop a chain link fence that was no taller than 4 or 5 feet. As I went over, the right leg of the shorts I was wearing got caught on a piece of the chain link at the top of the fence and caused me to lose my balance. I made it over the fence, but not the way I had intended. Since my right leg was still stuck at the top of the fence, and the laws of gravity didn't take a break at that precise moment, my left foot took the brunt of the 245-pound force that was destined to return to earth. I immediately felt a sharp pain, as if I had sprained or broken my ankle. The area toward the outside top of my foot began to develop a huge blue spot (blood that had been released by the torn ligament). I was unable to walk at that point, and the rest of the day kept the foot elevated.

Now What?
So a week went by and I decided just to ice it and keep it elevated. In that amount of time, no noticeable improvement was made. At the time, I thought I didn't have insurance, and was starting to get nervous about my predicament (I later found out that I did have insurance, but that's a whole other story you don't care to hear). For the time being, I went to my old physical therapist and asked him to look at it for me (in a pro bono sort of way). Since I developed a good rapport with Dr. Thomas Farnsworth during the time he was working on a back injury, he had no problem pushing a favor my way. He worked on it and strongly recommended I see a doctor. Upon a doctor's visit, and after some X-rays were taken, he had a strong inkling that this was a Lisfranc fracture (THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR HAUNCH - the earlier this injury is detected and corrected, the higher probability of complete recovery, we're talking hours up to a maximum number of days). To confirm, the doctor ordered an MRI, which was performed the following day. The MRI radiologist confirmed the suspicion of a Lisfranc fracture, in which case I was immediately referred to Dr. John Nassar, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon (one of the best, the hospital staff told me).

Confirmed Lisfranc diagnosis and next steps
Dr. Nassar informed me that he was going to put a screw into my foot to correct to problem, and allow for the ligament I tore to grow back properly. The surgery would be the following Tuesday (this appointment was on Friday). This would be my first major surgery. Let me just put a plug here and affirm that I still have not broken a bone in my body. This injury is a torn ligament - no broken bones (glad I still hold that record). The surgery went smoothly and happened on July 19. It lasted about an hour and I woke up about an hour after it was over. I had a giant elephant cast on my left foot for a week until my follow-up visit.

Today (or rather yesterday, since midnight passed), the elephant cast was removed and my permanent cast was put on. The doctor gave me the choice to leave with just a boot, but I told him I would do whatever he thought was most prudent. He casted my foot and promised that it would be removed at my follow-up appointment in two weeks (not bad, considering some people have to wear hard casts for many more weeks).

Over time, I will continue to document my journey on the Lisfranc fracture path. I know it's going to be long and difficult, and sometimes depressing. Prior to my injury, I enjoyed hiking, swimming, playing Ultimate Frisbee, and most importantly, running 3 miles about 3 times a week, regularly. At this point, I'm extremely worried that my foot will never be the same. I'm worried that the things I love will be difficult, even painful for the rest of my life. But I remain optomistic that I can work through this and have a positive outcome. I've read multitudes of stories on the Internet about Lisfranc, and not too many of them have a positive outcome. I'm hoping that my blog can be host to a success story...