28 August 2009

What a Nice Surprise!

There's been some swell in the water over the last two days.

I'm not all surfed out. I'm close though. I hadn't expected to be in waves this size this soon after the knee replacement. I enjoyed every moment.

Something has changed. Much like those who cheat death and view life for what it is, I feel like I've been given a second chance. During the recovery, I was never entirely sure that I'd pop-up on a surfboard again. My yin said that I would. My yang said that I would not. Now that I am back in the water, I appreciate surfing (as well as matting and swimming) even more than I did before the surgery. And I was extremely appreciative back then!

I was pretty much spent after yesterday's session, certain I'd need another day to recover. Well, by the time night rolled around, I was asking Soul Brother #1 for today's DP surf pass. There was somewhere we needed to be by 8:30 this morning. If I was going to surf, it had to be at dawn. We hadn't expected the waves we got yesterday. That was a nice surprise. I kind of figured the energy would continue into today. I wanted in!

I was there at dawn. I was in the water by the time the sun really lit the sky. I got my fill. In fact, I got the wave of the DP session from what I could tell. It was a bomb! My yin told me not to paddle for it. My yang called me an impolite name, pointed out that people had paddled for and missed the other waves in the set (thus leaving me as the only person sitting on the outside) and commanded me to go. And go I did. That thing was big too—definitely overhead. One of the reasons why I usually make waves like that, I mean waves whose size scares me, is because once I've committed I'm more fearful of not making the drop than I am of sticking it. These days, my fears in the water are much less than they once were. Part of that is the swimming. I know I won't drown. The other reason why I have less fear is the knee replacement. Everything about that surgery scared me. But here I am, titanium parts and all, surfing again. Once I'd faced down the fear of that surgery and all that it involved, I never looked back. I'm not going to let fear keep me from progressing. I also have enough sense to know when I should be fearful. Today was not one of those days. Today was a day to charge. So I got that bomb. All eyes were on me. There was no way I was going to mess that up.

(No, this isn't the bomb.)

Have a good weekend, everyone! I'll probably take a few days off to let my shoulders rest. Go find yourself some waves!

23 August 2009

The Paddle Out for Monte

21 August 2009

Paddle Out for a Fallen Comrade

On Sunday, August 23 at 10:00 a.m., there will be a paddle out for body surfer Monte Valentin at Bay Street in Santa Monica. Valentin died after being thrown into the rocks while body surfing The Wedge on July 24 during the last big south swell. The Black Surfing Association invites one and all to come to the beach and celebrate the life of this daring waterman.

20 August 2009

It's Time to Try Out the Bionic Knee . . .

on my mat!

18 August 2009

Knee Replacement: Four Months Later

I went back to see Dr. Ehrhart for a follow-up visit today. When all was said and done, he cleared me to do whatever I damn well please. As he said, the knee is solid. Does that mean I'm going to throw caution to the wind, start skating pools again and take up motocross racing? Not even. Yeah, the knee is solid. I can attest to that. However, the muscles in the leg aren't yet strong enough to stand up to the abuse I put my body through when I'm completely healthy. While I do appreciate being told I can do whatever I want, I know enough to listen to my body. The doctor was happily surprised to hear that I'm surfing and able to ride my bike even though I've got limited range of motion. It's not that he didn't believe I could do these things. The impression I got was that he was impressed by my willingness to do my thing in spite of what many might consider limitations. Dr. Ehrhart said that ultimately the attitude of the patient determines the outcome of the surgery. Apparently, I'm one of those with a good attitude. I would agree with that, I suppose. I didn't go into this looking for a miracle. I just wanted a knee that didn't hurt, one that would allow me to do what I do. Once I got to the point where the knee functioned enough for me to surf, I was happy. Frankly, that was good enough for me.

Do I still have pain? Yes, quite a bit of pain. I listen closely to that pain too. I ignore most of it. The thing I have to be careful about is ensuring I don't injure something else other than the knee. The issue for me since surgery has been hip pain. As that abated, it became clear to me that my IT band was a problem. It's the pain from my IT band which prevents me from walking long distances. I've paid close attention to this problem. I've rested it properly. I've stretched it regularly. I've got people who attack it with massage. The IT band problem is much better. However, I'm still mindful when I do things that might exacerbate it.

My knee hurts as I type this. I surfed this morning and lifted later. My knee is not happy. I know, nonetheless, that I've done no damage to the joint. This is part of the recovery process. From the beginning, my approach was to face down the pain. I truly believe that one's ability to deal with pain plays a large role in how one recovers. I still take nothing for pain during the day. At night, I smoke a little collie weed—Classic OG Kush from one of my local dispensaries—to help me sleep.

There are sites on the internet that are filled with people telling their horror stories about knee replacement. There are also sites, like BoneSmart.org, where people give each other support throughout the process. If you're thinking about a knee replacement, stay away from the negativity. All it does is scare you away from something that, barring complications, will improve your quality of life in ways you didn't know possible.

What's next for me? Riding my mat!

16 August 2009

Testing 1, 2, 3

What do you think of these? Soul Brother #1 and I have critiqued them here at home. It was his first day with the new camera equipment. I thought he did rather well considering the conditions and the fact that he's got to learn both the camera and the lens.

15 August 2009

I've Been Shopping!

And I scored!!! For the low, low price of $55, we got:
- 2 men's t-shirts (for Soul Brother #1)
- one pair of high end flip-flops
- a surf beanie (since I can't wear a hood because of all of this hair on an already large head)
- the coolest, thickest hoodie I've ever seen—the original price was over $100
- Invasion from Planet C

A friend who used to own a surf shop decided it was time to liquidate some of the leftover inventory. Said friend's loss was everyone else's gain. We only stopped by to support the cause. I figured we'd make an appearance, buy one or two things and then split. When we hit the door, Soul Brother #1 went one way and I went the other. I don't even go to surf shops anymore. It's not like I need much and I don't drink the corporate surf Kool-Aid so I don't care to own surf-branded clothing. (What would it matter if I did since most people step back in amazement and disbelief when they're told that I surf.) But a good deal is a good deal. What's ironic is that I'd been wondering recently where to go for a copy of Invasion from Planet C. I suppose I would eventually have ended up in a surf shop for something and I could have looked for it there. As I shopped today—if that's what you call it when goods are spread out in someone's living room—I almost screamed with joy when I saw the DVD. Gotta watch it before Jazz the Glass comes out!

Alright, I paddled out again. I know. Stop shaking your heads at me! Believe it or not, I hadn't planned on surfing today. In fact, I was going to take a little bike ride. For the first time since I began surfing, my spouse practically begged me to surf. No, he wasn't trying to get me out of the house in order to be with his paramour. He's got new camera equipment he wanted to try out. At the beach. On us surfers. So . . . for the third time this week, I paddled out. The home break was true to form. It remains a wave that underwhelms. Nevertheless, it is the home break. It was nice to be in the water with the crew again. I don't know if I laugh more at the goings-on in the parking lot—as S, who was careful to remind me that he's a stoner, told us not to help him find his car key, figuring, I assume, that since we were all sober our non-altered states would prevent us from thinking like a pothead who plays fast and loose with a car key—or the hilarious banter in the line-up. (Yeah, I know that sentence was a long one. Try reading Faulkner or Saramago. Then you'll think twice about complaining about the length of my sentences.)

The highlight of today's session was a grom from heaven. This was the nicest, happiest little kid I've ever seen on a surfboard. He'd been dropped off at the beach. Mom was apparently going to pick him up a few hours later. This kid was something else. All he did was smile, smile and surf. While the rest of us frowned at the less than stellar summer conditions in our wetsuits, he frolicked in his trunks. He was all of 11 years old on a board that had at least a decade on him. I enjoyed watching him. Happy kids make me happy. In fact, he made all of us happy.

My knee is sore as I type this. I can't say I'm in pain, per se. Discomfort is more like it. I will not surf tomorrow! I plan to take a quick bike ride in the morning. That's it.

14 August 2009

Broken Promises

I promised myself, both privately and on the blog, that I wouldn't surf more than once a week. And what happened on both Tuesday and Wednesday? I went surfing. Without hesitation. Chomping at the bit and all that.

Tuesday was pretty amazing. "Why is that?" you ask. Well, I'll tell you. Worm told me that Scotty Stopnik told her—as members of the injured knee fraternity of surfers—that when you come back you can't baby your knee. You have to just surf. I hadn't babied the knee so much as I'd been hesitant, forcing myself to only stay out for this long and only take this many waves. Somewhere in the midst of my return to the lineup, Worm passed on Scotty's words. So when I paddled out at Malibu on Tuesday on my Malibu-slaying hull, I went for it. Stellar . . . for me.

The Malibu wave and I have never gotten along. I'm not talking about the crowd and the unpredictable energy of the folks in the water. I'm talking about the wave itself.

A true goofy foot grows a bit tired of going backside, especially on a wave of that caliber. In the past, I've always had to do the "fade left, surf right" (my term) method of getting on the wave. The method never worked well for me. If there's such a thing as going ultra backside, that's what I was contending with when I surfed Malibu. Now, I no longer have to use that method. The Minx, the wonderful board that she is, easily drops into that wave while angling right. It makes all of the sections. It picks up speed at the right spots. For my purposes, it's a Malibu-killing board.

On Tuesday, I took Scotty's words of wisdom (via Worm, who injured her knee last year) to heart. I surfed. I didn't think about pain. I didn't worry about injury. I surfed my heart out, experiencing everything that's right (as in wonderful as opposed to the direction) about that wave. Stellar.

Of course, I was high on life after that session. I paddled out at a different break the following day. Pointless. Cold. Almost flat.

See what greed gets you?

My goal now is to maintain some restraint. My brain tells me I can surf at will. My knee tells me it's not ready for that. Let the internal struggle of good versus evil begin!

Yesterday was my last session with the physical therapist. She's done all she can do. I'm back to doing my normal activities. I still can't walk a mile or stand for longer than about 20 minutes. Those things will come in time as the knee heals. Now that I think of it, I probably can walk a mile. I just prefer not to at this point.

My next and final goal is to ride my mat. I'd originally planned to mat first and then return to the surfboard. At some point I recognized that surfing is easier on the knee than is matting, which is a full body workout where the legs do most of the work. I feel like I'm ready for the mat now. There will be pain after the first mat session, of course. Fins put strain on the knee. Nevertheless, I'm anxious to get back on the magic carpet for some fun.

Pranaglider cracks me up!!

12 August 2009

Caption Contest

I am not even going to comment. I'll let those of you who want to make an editorial comment about this dude and his surfing/SUPing/land SUPing say what you will. Go to it!

10 August 2009

Giving Props Where Props Are Due

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team to make one bionic. The people below made it—my new state of bionicness—happen.

I am very particular about the professionals I see with regard to my well-being. Let me be more specific: If I sense any kind of negative energy or funky attitude from someone who will spend an inordinate amount of time touching me, I move on. Thankfully, my "spider sense" was working overtime as soon as I realized the knee was dying. By ten minutes into the first meeting with the orthopedist, I knew he was the person I wanted to perform the knee replacement. The oriental medicine practitioner is a long-time surf friend who exudes all kinds of positive, healing energy. There was no way I could physically survive the recovery without her help. My physical therapist, the same one who tortured Soul Brother #1 back to good health after his rotator cuff surgery, is more talented and knowledgeable than I suspected; she got this knee straighter than it's been in decades. Finally, the massage therapist is just plain getting it done—breaking up scar tissue and pointing me in the right direction in terms of maintaining the health of my joint.


How many doctors introduce themselves by their first names? I still can't get over that.

Okay, I'll admit to the internet that I have a bit of a crush on my orthopedist, Dr. Kevin Ehrhart. He's easy on the eyes, has a no-nonsense attitude and he's an athlete. What more can an athletic osteoarthritis patient ask for?

I just plain like him. He's good at what he does, yet he's not consumed by his job. When given the choice between several surgeries back-to-back or taking a break to ride his bike, he'd rather go ride his bike. That tells me that for him it's not about the money.


She and I are the two female goofy-foot surfers in the crew. God help you if there's a left. Get out of our way!

She is indescribable. I've gone to her for various ailments over the last six years. She listens. She cares. She wants you to feel better.

Needles. Moxibustion. Good, calm, nice person energy.

Inner Chi Traditional Chinese Medicine (310) 663-3963


I've spent so much time on this blog complaining about my physical therapist that I need not say much more here. I will say she knows her stuff. I don't mean she's good. I mean she's exceptional.

I don't know how many times our therapy sessions had to take a temporary break because we were both laughing too hard to continue. Look, the physical therapists know they're hurting you. They have to hurt you. You cannot recover well from something like this unless you're willing to endure some extremely painful moments in therapy. You need to find a physical therapist in whom you can put your trust.

I trusted her not to damage the knee (although there were times when I truly believed she was going to force the prosthesis to pull out of the bones). I trusted her to get me back on a surfboard. Since I've already started surfing again and the knee remains solid, I would say I put my trust in the right hands.

Orthosport Physical Therapy


Painful. Painful. Pain-to-the-f-u-l.

Dennis is now the anchor leg of this relay team. Kevin no longer wants anything to do with me. Leah sent me packing. Now Nicole tells me I'm about to get kicked to the curb. The only one who still loves me is Dennis. Granted, he's got a funny way of showing that love. I do a lot of screaming while on that table and believe you me they are hardly screams of ecstasy.

Nevertheless, that Active Release Technique massage works wonders. He and I are on a mission to get this leg to bend further than it has in 29 years. I think we can make it happen. Hell, if I only get 10 degrees more than I had, I'll be ecstatic. He knows exactly how to attack the scar tissue. It hurts like hell. No, the fires and tortures of hell cannot possibly hurt as much as this ART stuff does. Since it's working, I have no complaints.

The best thing is that I've now found a massage therapist to address all of my ailments. Once the knee is feeling much better, I'll start having him work on my shoulders and lats. At this point, I'm too old and too active not to spend some time on the massage table. I've spent years breaking down this body with physical activity. I want to stay active, but I realize I've got to give more attention to maintenance now that I'm no longer a young pup. (I won't need that awful ART massage for my surfing muscles; I'll just have him loosen them up with normal massage.)

L.A. Sports Massage

None of these people asked me to write about them or give them free advertising. I truly appreciate what they've done. I believe in them. Therefore, I'm giving them their props.

08 August 2009

New Acquisition for the Woman Cave

As soon as this little eBay beauty arrived in the mail, I ran out to the Woman Cave to set it up. How does one set up a record player? Plug it in. You're done. That's it. There's no surround sound. No treble. No bass. No loudness. No balance. No tone. No nothing. You plug it in and plop an album on there. Since we are talking about me, the player was, of course, christened with some Led Zeppelin and Motown. Smiles, everyone, smiles!! How happy am I to have an honest to God record player? I love the simplicity of it. It's all about the music coming out of those little speakers. You either appreciate it for what it is or you don't. I appreciate it. Now there's a CD player at one end of the room and a record player at the other. Both of them sit on milk crates our former tenant hijacked from somewhere. Then I stole them from her. (That'll teach you not to pay your rent on time!)

I've got hundreds of records. I never listen to them because Soul Brother #1 and I do not have the same taste in music. Our stereo with the turntable and the television share the same room. He loves the TV. I prefer music. Since he's usually watching TV when he's home, I never listen to my records. Well, I never used to listen to records. Now I can go lift weights in the Woman Cave and spin vinyl to my heart's content.

07 August 2009

What's Not to Love About L.A.'s Most Famous Break?

I paddled out at L.A.'s most notable surf spot yesterday. There was no swell to speak of. There was hardly anyone there. Nevertheless, you still saw a lot of this:

WTF? I'm not going to fight for any wave that doesn't at least come up to my chest. I'm not dropping in. I'm not calling you off. I'm not doing any of the egregious stuff that makes surfers threaten to take it to the beach. Not for a wave like the one you see above.

My knee is improving little by little. I feel good enough to surf more than once a week, but I know I'll be sorry if I do. So I won't. Yet.

03 August 2009

Namaste, Internet Readers and Friends

No, I don't do yoga or chant or speak in tongues. I wasn't sure of any other universal way to say thank you to everyone who reads this blog.

I've always liked the energy of the word "namaste". What? You don't think words have energy? Think again. It's not a word that could ever be misconstrued as an epithet or a pox upon your house.


I'm far from ready to paddle out on a regular basis. The knee remains swollen. I'm in pain every day. Massage therapy and physical therapy are still extremely painful. In other words, I'm not whole . . . yet. It takes much longer than three months to heal from joint replacement surgery.

Three months ago I could barely bend this leg. I was scared to death, certain my life as a surfer and athlete was over. To be able to paddle out a little over three months later is something for which I have no words. None.

I do have words for you.

Thank you.

Really. I don't know that I could have stayed as focused as I was without your help. I'm still amazed at how your comments kept me going. You guys may not realize it, but they did. I remember one period in particular when I was done. Fuck this. Fuck physical therapy. Fuck it all! I never expressed that explicitly on the blog. People easily read between the lines nonetheless. Several anonymous commenters gave me a swift kick, telling me, in essence, to get my shit together and stay serious about physical therapy. Wow. What's amazing is I listened. To anonymous comments, no less.

All of you, whether anonymous or named, know who you are. All of you know what you've done. You all can take credit for getting me back in the water.

Thank you, everyone!

To all of you,