TransWorld Media

The State of Texas

by taj | Sep 14, 2009 | | 1 Comment

You know, I can’t really remember what my old Texas ID looked like, but I sure noticed how ugly my new one is.

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There’s not even a cool Lone Star flag on it! And don’t even get me started on that font. Not long after I got my new license though, I got a new license plate for my car. Its even worse!

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I suppose it must be a budget thing. All new Texas graphics must come from the stock clip art file in Microsoft Word. The upper left corner with the 80’s looking splatter thing is the most bizarre. Anyway, I’ve never considered getting special vanity plates before because, they are… well… vain, but I was so put out by these new Texas plates I decided I needed to look into it. My car is going to be out around the country representing Texas you know? I don’t think I’d feel right driving around with this sissy new style plate. What happened to “Dont Mess with Texas?” So, I did some searching and found the custom plate offerings to be pretty comical as well…

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I’m pretty sure no one would think you were a sissy with this scary plate. Probably get you out of a ticket with the right kind of cop too. I think they’d know I was faking though since I don’t have a gun rack.

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This is totally the weirdest custom plate Texas offers. What in the world is this? A university of Florida Texas plate? I’m really confused.

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This one’s pretty good. It could be made better with a small little die-cut sticker addition too…

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And speaking adding stickers, this weird beach scene plate makes me think this kid is about to bash something with his surfboard. How about this baby seal?

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These two plates below got me thinking… you could show your state pride and have God bless Texas, but, then wouldn’t you be kind of a selfish ass if you turned down the chance to have him bless the whole country?

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Here’s a few more…

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I’m sure Texas grapefruit lovers are all about this plate.

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Dolphins are pretty sweet.

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I think this pretty much sums up the plate design situation by accurately displaying the State of the arts in Texas. I mean, really? Is this what the plate design guy came up with for the “art” plate? I guess this is kind of the best looking one in the bunch.

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Ride Remixes

by taj | Aug 27, 2009 | | Leave a Comment

A few photos from Ride BMX mag the way they maybe should have been.

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Since Harry Main is from England I figure he’s used to dealing with dragons and stuff, but it doesn’t look like he expected to find this one jumping out of a suburban house. This is how he broke his leg in case you were wondering. (Mirra Co ad, Ride #157)

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In his interview Kurtis Elwell talks about how its tough to make a living from BMX. Above is the solution! (Zielinski cover photo, Ride #159)

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For some reason they totally left out anything about Kurtis’ kung-fu demos. (Zielinski photo, Ride #159)

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Forget about blowing out his tire, here Garrett Byrnes blows out a nice veggie powered crop duster on this wall. (Mulligan photo, Ride #157)

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Max Gaertig has to know that it would have been way cooler if he had done this 180 whip over the guardrail barefoot and barhopped. (Zielinkski photo, Ride #157)

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Based on his Ball Park Frank ad/ interview I guess Ryan Sher really likes wieners. I bet he would like riding one around town too! (Ball Park ad, Ride #159)

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Aaron Ross learns the hard way that its not a good idea to try and catch the cannonball shot out of Odyssey’s new giant neon brake lever cannon. (Odyssey Ad, Ride #159)

Make your own… all you need is a Ride mag and eraser…. unless you’re one of those people saving them so you can sell them on ebay 20 years from now.

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Erase away some of the photo, then fill in the blanks.

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Surgery How-To

by taj | Aug 24, 2009 | | Leave a Comment

Ever wonder how a fusion surgery is performed? This should explain….

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Lower the flag pole grandpa, you lost the war! A story of the future.

by taj | Aug 22, 2009 | | Leave a Comment

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BIO and Bike Check: Up and coming star, Olympia Nelson.

Austin has always been a hot spot for BMX. Since the 80’s it has been producing riders that have changed the face of BMX and I’ve had the privilege of riding with a lot of them. I remember riding with one home grown local before anyone had ever heard of him. Chase Hawk and I rode together at 9th Street when he was 5 years old. I knew instantly he was going to make it big. I’ve always kicked myself for not interviewing him back then… it would be cool to brag that I discovered him and be able to look back and see what he thought his future might hold. With Olympia Nelson I have a chance to make up for that missed opportunity.

Olympia has only been on the Austin scene for about two weeks but already she’s got people talking. I knew the second that I saw her that she was going to be the next big thing. When I heard that she has arrived to town without a bike I immediately set to work custom building her one to her exact specs. Now that she’s all geared up I talked Ride into letting me do an interview and a bike check with what is sure to be one of BMX’s great talents.

Name and Hometown: Olympia Nelson. Austin, Texas.


So this is a pretty unique bike, can you explain what’s going on here?
Well, I really wanted to bridge the gap between skateboarding and BMX. I achieved this by building the bike out of the same materials as a skateboard. Plywood frame and solid urethane wheels. Blending the two genres gives me a head start on the future. Plus, lets seem them throw me out of a public skatepark now!

Why did you chose to have the bike built without pedals or a drive train?
There’s a few other people experimenting with that kind of thing now so I can’t really take credit it for it. I think that if you really know how to ride then you just don’t need those things. I wanted create the absolute lightest bike that I could and pedals, chain, sprockets all just seemed like unneeded weight. When I ride vert and skateparks I don’t ever pedal anyway, thats just bad style… Its all in the pump!

p1020922Speaking of weight, at only 5 pounds  and 1 ounce this is the lightest bike I’ve ever heard of. Don’t you think the light bike thing has gone a little too far?

Well, you have to remember that I only weigh like 10 pounds. Its easier to go higher if you don’t have to move as much mass.  I’m just taking advantage of available technologies to make riding more fun for me.

What else is special on the bike?
Its all pretty stock really… I guess I have a little phobia about breaking front axles so even though I was trying hard to save weight on the bike I decided to go with a bigger 1/2″ axle instead of those sketchy 3/8″ ones that everyone else uses.

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Don’t take this the wrong way, but I think that sometimes people don’t take bikes with smaller wheels seriously. I mean, I’ve seen little kids doing back flips on 16″ bikes and I just kind of think it looks silly. I have a hard time comparing what they’re doing to what pros are doing on normal 20″ wheel BMX bikes. How do you deal with that potential bias in our sport?
The fact that you feel that way shows how outdated and out of touch you are. In 2008  85% of all BMX bikes were sold to so called “little kids” under the age of 12. BMX’s are “little kid’s” bike by definition and they include bikes with 8″,  12″, 16″ , 20″ and even 24″ wheels. Nothing bigger then 24″ though, that’s the line. For some reason anything bigger then 24″ is decidedly not BMX. To be honest I don’t think it should matter what size wheels your bike has. You know? If I do a 15 foot air on a vert ramp its a 15 foot frickin’ air! Doesn’t matter what you’re on… 15 feet would be impressive on a damned Segway! Personally I think the little bike gives me a bit of an advantage. Like when you see me jump the Mega-ramp it looks like I’m going sooo huge just because I’m on a smaller bike then everyone else. Its kind of like an optical illusion kind of thing. Another bonus is that because its smaller I can whip it around easier then a big bike. I could probably do a front flip bunny hop on this thing… its amazing!


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K-Rob’s going to have his work cut out for him in 2010. Rumors of quintuple front flip no-footed can can one-handers are already buzzing.

So what does the future hold in store for you?
Well, I’m trying to keep an open mind about the future. I’m only 2 weeks old so I really still have a lot of options left. First thing I have to do is just work on my motor skills. I’m still having some trouble getting my arms and hands to do what I want them to do, also, I can’t quite figure out what I’m seeing a lot of the times. Its just like coming back from a big injury you know… it just takes some time and some work, but I’ll get there.

Once I’m up on my feet I guess I’ll probably head out to Woodward for some foam pit training. Of course I have tailwhips mastered but it will be good to work out some of the contest bangers like triple flips and 1080 whips and my secret show stopper called the Wallet Stuffer. After that, I don’t know… I guess the usual Dew Tour stops, X-Games and maybe some commercial stunt work too. To be honest, a lot of its up to my agent and who pays the best.

Olympia Nelson Bike Check.

Frame: Custom built 9″ frame. Constructed entirely out of 3/4″ oak plywood. It has a good stiff feel, but is still very light.
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Fork: I don’t want to say we ripped off Odyssey’s Director fork design, but lets just say I’m glad they helped me out with components and that they are on my side.

Headset: Two 1/4″ galvanized fender washers.
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Stem: Four bolt gooseneck/ titanium drywall screw system.

Seat: Odyssey T-shirt wrapped around an old knee pad and super glued to the frame. I think BMX is all about not having a seat post… c’mon, this is a trick bike, we’re not riding the Tour De France here. Lower the flag pole grandpa, you lost the war!
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Grips: None. We were really trying to save weight with this bike so we skipped the grips. They’re really kind of unnecessary to tell you the truth.

Wheels: 6 inch by 1.5 inch wheels from a lawn mower. They are really fast and light. 1/2″ through axles front and rear; Its not worth skimping on safety.

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Brakes: No way!! So 1990! Its all full speed ahead at all times.

Gyro: Yeah right. I like my bike to look smooth, not like a spaghetti factory exploded out of my head tube.

Pegs: None: I like to push myself to think out of the ordinary. Having no pegs makes me have to think of new and different ways to grind. Its really a good exercise in creativity.
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Any last words?
Thanks a lot for the interview and look forward to seeing you all out shredding. You probably won’t see me ’cause I like to keep my stuff fresh and under wraps until the big comps, but I will see you!

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Man from Sudan

by taj | Aug 10, 2009 | | Leave a Comment

Good luck with this one.

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My life is simple these days.

by taj | Aug 10, 2009 | | 1 Comment

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Today is one month after surgery. My life currently is: Medical Bills, pain pills, acoustic bass guitar, rabbit ears, internet, two bored dogs, half read books, beach cruiser (about the same as a stationary bike) and Lazy Boy chair. Not pictured: Elastic waist band pants for the incision in my belly.

Thankfully the Athlete Recovery Fund set me up with their agent Amanda who has managed to reduce my $40,000 plus bill to somewhere around $6500 just by dealing with my doctors and insurance company for me! So amazing. Funny how I was stressing about the number plate I did to help raise money for that Charity. Now I know which charity is going to get some of my lotto winnings (once I win). Thanks so much ARF!

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iPhoto clean-out

by taj | Jul 28, 2009 | | 2 Comments

Well I have to admit I find it a little bit hard to come up with new content when I’ve spent the last few weeks doing nothing but laying down watching TV. So unless you wanted to hear my opinions on network TV shows or how shitty it is to pay medical bills all I can come up with is this: an iPhoto clean-out post. I’m pretty sure I’ve posted most of these photos at one point or another over at T-1, but as a lot of them are years and years old and I can’t actually remember. I took a scroll from top to bottom through my iPhoto library and pulled out ones that caught my eye for one reason or another…. here you go….

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This is one of Kimler’s babies. The pacifier is so disturbing to me and it makes me giggle uncomfortably. The shirt reads, “Hung Like a 5 year old”.cimg0858

This is me and the ring bearer at my friend Bryan’s wedding. He made us matching embroidered goat shirts too.

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You have to love Povah… he’s always down for a laugh. cimg0891

Texting and driving is dangerous, but what about focusing and shooting photos? I don’t think there’s any laws yet anyway.

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This was my trip to Berlin. Tiny little slice in my shin that would not stop bleeding. Had to get it burned closed.

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German Chinese food is sketchy.

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Shovel art at trails on Vancouver Island.

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Sandy and I humiliating ourselves.

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This was a show in England where Black Sabbath played to like 150,000 people! I got knocked the hell out on the ramp and lost some memory.

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Mutiny sent this for a birthday card a few years ago. Check me out fufanuing that tower!

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Dave Fiemuth at the center of everyone’s attention at one of the Backyard Jams.

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Sergio’s manualing in the background, but this little kid is slidding down a cement quarter on his stomach. He must be made out of nails ’cause that cememnt was rough.

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Roscoe looks understandably mortified because I had just hacked the head off a stuffed dog about his size. Used it for the head on my halloween Roscoe bike.

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Gary Young getting tweaked during our X-games ramp warehouse photo shoot.

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Parrick at Empire discovering he has the power of the palm.

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This is pretty much hands down the best bruise I’ve ever seen!

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I built these curved floor risers in my little condo and I thought they looked cool.

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I was really bummed to miss out on the annual trip over to Cologne for the worlds this year.

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Eduardo is in the top 3 for toughest guy on a bike.

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While in Cologne I managed to catch this strange event; naked girl writhing around on top of a box jump while skateboarders and BMXers jumped through her legs on normal TV.

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Garrett Byrnes…

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And Garrett Byrnes bike box…(remember how the old T-1 Garrett frames had the welded on seat?).

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A good moment behind T-1. Lucero on the ramp for the 2nd or 3rd time. Always a good way to bring the Austin family together for a night.Bass player is up chilling on the deck on the left side of the photo.

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Sandy and me as little rodent kids.

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Jamie McParland rocks some freestyle segwaying.

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The mini in Van’s garage was so absurd. Jason Enns and John Heaton try to figure it out.

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The big wheels we had at T-1 were so fun! Kort and Sheps putting them through their paces.

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Neil and Roscoe enjoyig the ride.

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The orginal incarnation of the T-1 ramp was so simple.

photo-library-1235Thanks to Ryan Corrigan and Paul Buchanan the first big change materialized.

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Man, that fresh Hemp-Lite Skatelite on the back section used to look so clean! Over the years its weathered and looks the same as the normal stuff.

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Ron Kimler looking pretty 70’s with the hair-do.

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Sophie was a cat who lived at the office and hated Roscoe.

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I was staying out at Woodward West all alone one off season when there was a knock at my door late at night. When I opened the door this guy was there.

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This is one of my favorite Roscoe photos… he’s the blur on the right in the middle of a half flip frisbee catch.

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I miss having a film camera for moments like this. There’s something about film that digital just doesn’t capture huh?

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What looks like a blurry mess is actually the brightest northern lights display I’ve ever seen. Somewhere in Wisconsin.

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Roscoe wallride at height.

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Hairy, high and healing

by taj | Jul 15, 2009 | | Leave a Comment

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Still standin’!

Well, I don’t know about you guys but every time I come to the Ride website and it that annoying Nike/ Gatorade video starts auto playing in the corner I have to quit the browser as fast as I can. Its so funny in my current state because my reaction time is slowed by the pain pills and my memory is almost non-existent. As a result I don’t know whats going on in the BMX world and I feel really out of it.

Well, I had surgery on July 9th. I spent 3 days in the hospital and the Westlake Hospital in Austin was by far the nicest hospital I’ve ever stayed in. Had my own room and a 50″ plasma TV. The surgery went smoothly and easily and only took an hour and a half. About 3 hours after surgery I was awake and feeling pretty decent. I had the doctors take me off the pain medicine and I found the pain to be fairly mild. All I wanted to do was drink some water and I mistakenly had it in my head that if I wasn’t on pain med they would let me drink sooner. I made it about 16 hours with no pain med at all which I found to be really amazing… they had just sliced me open and drilled holes in my bones! For the first 24 hours they were taking my blood pressure every 30 minutes and I noticed that it went up every time. Right before I gave in and took some pain med it was starting to get dangerously high. I guess that was how my body was dealing with the pain.

And, I was wrong, pain meds had nothing to do with me being allowed water. What it was is that the doctors wanted me to fart before they gave me anything to eat or drink. The reason being is that they moved my intestines around to get to my spine (since the surgery was performed through my stomach) and there was a chance they may have punctured an intestine. I guess if you drink and eat and have a hole in your intestine its very painful and dangerous and requires a emergency surgery to correct the problem. SO, I had to wait for 2 days for my body to naturally um, er…. pass some wind and prove that I was still air tight. It was harder then it sounds because my ab muscles had just been sliced in two.

Anyway, while waiting for some wind and water other uncomfortable things did start to be removed. Got my catherder out the first day which was awesome (ha! good example of the pills… spellchecked this and look how I spelled catheter… Cat Herder!!) . I also got to get up and walk around when I wanted. Moving around for sure made me feel like my blood was starting to move and things were starting to get better.

On the beginning of the 2nd day I went back on pain pills, partially because my blood pressure was racing and partially because things were simply starting to hurt like hell! Now that I’m home (starting my 3rd day home now) I’ve been sticking to a schedule of pain meds. I find they make me kind of silly and stressed out at the same time. Weird things like I dreamed the refrigerator was leaking and couldn’t quite separate dream from reality. Had to get up and actually see if it was leaking before I could sleep again. Been sleeping a lot and feeling zombie-fied when I’m awake, but every so often I feel pretty clear and with it. Already cutting back on the pain meds now and I can tell that each day I am making steps towards healing. The only thing that really hurts badly is the incision in my stomach. I’m sure that will heal quickly since its no different then a normal cut. The doctor warned that my back would hurt badly for 6-8 weeks as a result of the “construction” in the area, but as of yet I haven’t felt it.

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I’m only held together with steri-strips! If I get an open heart surgery will have a full on zipper from my neck to crotch!

My mom is in town for a couple weeks taking care of me. Yesterday her and Sandy Carson went bought a Lazy Boy recliner chair that I found for cheap on craigslist. It is seriously the best and most comfortable thing ever for my situation. I can lounge in it all day and its amazing. I’m so lucky and so happy.

Pain pills are starting to kick in and its getting harder and harder for me to type. For the next 3 months I’ll be taking it easy not lifting anything heavier then 10 pounds. Once I can concentrate again hopefully I will start drawing or something. Take care everyone!

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6 more days to go

by taj | Jul 03, 2009 | | Leave a Comment

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So this is what they are going to stick into my back. As far as I can tell its a piece of PVC pipe with a big gnarly stainless screw in it. There will actually be 2 more screws too. One going up and two going down. Just like toe-nailing a rib on a ramp or something. This little do-hickey will take the place of the disc they are taking out and lock the to adjacent vertabrae in place. 6 more days till surgery day so not much going on with me. Finally got the mountain bike that Giant sent me rolling so I can ride that for a bit since its nice and squishy with full suspension. However, after surgery the docs tell me I’m not supposed to lift anything over 10 pounds for three whole months!!! I’m sure there is a great joke here I’m missing. I was thinking, maybe if I use all the lightest parts with lots of holes drilled in them I could maybe get a bike together that is light enough for me to ride without breaking doctors orders??

I guess in whatever is going with Ride’s blog reformating I lost a few of the most recent posts, so here they are again. I’m so sick of writing about this fusion surgery stuff, but I figure maybe someone somewhere will go through the same thing someday and perhaps find some of this a helpful reference.

From June 18 2009

Jamie Bestwick was kind enough to set me up to talk to his doctor about spine surgeries. Dr Gregory Bailey did the fusion surgery that Jamie had done a little while ago and had him riding again in 5 weeks. Dr Bailey confirmed that based on my symptoms and MRI surgery did seem to be the right path. He also made me feel pretty confident about my surgeons. Definitely nice to get a good second opinion. He also restated that a six month recovery time is to be expected with the type of surgery I’ll get. Dr Bailey is cool, if you need back help in PA I would highly recommend going to see him.
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I’m sick of talking about backs and ready to get this done. And sick of being a zombie on pain meds.

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From June 15 2009

Not really too much to report about the back right now except that I met with the Cardio-Vascular surgeon and got a date for surgery. July 9th they slice me up. He described in detail how they will make an incision from my belly button straight down about 4 inches. Then he pushes all the intestines and stuff out of the way making a hole visible all the way to my spine. The really dangerous part is that he then must move my aorta blood vessel out of the way by gently flexing it to one side. While he was telling me it really started to make me a little bit queazy. Usually that stuff doesn’t bother me, but for some reason it felt like I could feel what he was doing inside of me. It reminded me of the time I was telling my friend Jared the details of my splenectomy. I was explaining how they chop you open and then empty all of your intestines out of your body into a bowl so they can wash the blood off them and stop the bleeding of the exploded spleen. He suddenly went green and puked! It was only later that he told me it was because everything was especially realistic to him since he had been drinking magic mushroom beer.

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Whoa… heavy news

by taj | Jun 03, 2009 | | 2 Comments

I’m running out of dogs for the back related post thumbnails. Here’s Digger and Bobby from Ray’s.
Just back from the doctors and just went over my MRI results. Heavy news for me. Looks like we are going to do the fusion surgery of L5-S1. Surgery won’t take place for almost a month, but when it does Its only like a 2 day stay in the hospital, but it means that after surgery no activity for 3 months and no riding for real for 6 months! Yikes. I didn’t really expect it to take that long to heal.

That disc is not supposed to be doing that. It should be like the ones above and staying flush with the spine.
I have a pretty substantial rupture in my the disc between L5-S1. The treatments range for this kind of thing, but after a good talk my doctor and I have settled on the fusion surgery. The options though are as follows:

-Cortizone epidural shots like Tom Stober had to bring down the swelling but not actually fixing the disc. This can make you feel better because it relieves pressure, but it can last as little as a few days, or in some cases less serious then mine it can relieve the entire problem.

-There’s also a procedure to clip the part of the disc that is distended. Sounds like this is what Ben Ward was saying that Rich Hirsch had. My doctor said that usually when the disc between L5-S1 is herniated and putting pressure on the nerves it causes leg pain and shooting feelings radiating downwards. If that is the case then clipping the protuding disc usually solves the problem. I don’t have that at all, I only have pain in my lower back. My legs feel a bit week, but mainly its my back muscles that are unable to function. Doc says that clipping the disc very possibly may not relieve this problem since it may have more to do with the joints pressure on the nerves. Its interesting to see what functions of the body are “typically” impacted by disc damage at different levels. Each level has its own characteristics.

-We could possible do an artificial disc replacement. Unfortunately, this extremely expensive procedure is considered “experimental” by my insurance company and so I’m not covered for it. The up side is that at this level in the spine there’s not really that much movement, or at least, higher up would be much more crucial. A fusion at this level should not really be too much of an issue for flexibility for me. However, if in 6 months from now you see me just starting to ride again and I’m all stiff we can just blame that.

-So, we settled on the fusion surgery. Its what Ruben was describing last post. The crazy part is they go in through the front of your abdomen to do the surgery. Its a relatively small incision, but two surgeons are present. One to do the actual screw and plate and bone graft surgery, and one to monitor and control the extremely vital arteries that run right in front of the spine. Basically they screw and plate the vertebrae together so they can’t move, and then fill the area where the disc used to be with bone grafts that will fill it in so the damaged disc can no longer put pressure on the spine. I think…. I’ll get more and more precise with exactly what is going on as I learn more.

To be honest I was so rocked by the idea that I wouldn’t be able to ride for 6 MONTHS that I kind of stopped being able to think straight. Heavy news for me today.

Next step is to meet with the Vascular Surgeon to go over his procedures in the surgery and check to see if my splenectomy scars are going to be an issue for this surgery. After meeting with him I’ll be able to schedule a surgery date. The earliest possible time being between 3 and 4 weeks from now.

I’m pretty freaked out by all this, and dreading being laid up for so long, but at the same time I’m really itching to get this taken care of. Guess I’m staying in Austin for a while to deal with all of this.

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