Vacation in Bern & Laax (Part Two)

CaumaseeThis week was packed with action. In 7 days, we managed to organise the birthday party of Manon and the birtday party of Tim & Isa, swim in the beautiful Caumasee, attend to the wedding of  Isa’s twin brother, meet the parents, meet our former neighbours, watch the Tour de France (on TV)…and go every second day to therapy. But the best about this week was that the whole wedding crowd came already 6 days ahead of the wedding and stayed together for the entire week. From that angle, it has clearly been the most enjoyable wedding I ever attended. I had time to chat with all of guests and catch-up on stories and family events.

A personal highlight was of course to risk my first swim 5 weeks after the knee operation. And I did that in the most beautiful setting. The Caumasee is a mix a Yellowstone Pond, filled with Caribbean water surrounded by the Swiss Alps.


Tim & Lea married on July 25th in an old alpine  church in Falera (above Laax). I am usually not a big fan of churches but the walk amidst the fields to this isolated church was all worth it (even with crutches). I even enjoyed the way the married couple organised in a rather unorthodox way the ceremony.

The last highlight was of course the birthday party of Manon. Isa organised it all: a “Kasperlitheater”, a treasure hunt ending by the lake with large birthday cakes for kids and adults. It was a beautiful day and on that very day, I wished we could just stay in Laax for the rest of our lives. Manon's Birthday in LaaxUnfortunately, we had to pack the following day. A last swim in the lake of Laax and before jumping into the car. 700km and 9hours later we arrive in Vienna.

Vacation in Bern & Laax (Part One)

20989784Isa & I travelled early morning by car on July 17th from Vienna to Bern via Vättis (grand parents place) to pick up Zoé and Manon who spent the last 2 weeks there. We arrive at Marc&Rea’s place in the afternoon. What a great pleasure to meet up with close friends again. They have moved in a new flat with a stunning view on the old town of Bern. Reto&Esther, other close friends of ours, are already there. It does not take long until we open the first bottle of white wine for the apéro.

One of the main discussion of the evening is the pros and cons of living as a young family in Switzerland. The Swiss social structure is still based on the traditional family pattern. As long as the man works, the wife stays at home, all is fine. But beware, when exiting that pattern. As we discussed, yes it is possible to have both parents exercising a professional activity. But it comes at a cost . The worst: day schools are still not in place. How the heck do you pick up your kids from school at lunch time and bring them back 90 minutes later when both parents are working. That such system still exists in 2009 is an aberration. There is no other word.

Leaving that aside I enjoy the company of my friends a lot. It is the first trip I undertake since the accident and I am glad to have chosen to push myself and get in the caDSC_0054r despite this stiff left leg. Anyway we stay until Sunday and on that day we celebrate 2 days before Manon’s true birthday (as Esther and Marc are her godfather and godmother respectively).

And I felt very proud of my little Manon. Still so modest, not expecting big gifts, enjoying every little thing that was prepared for her. I hope this will stay that way…hm…Ok, it won’t…but this snapshot for me tells it all. Excitement, happiness and spontaneity. There is nothing better for a small kid and nothing more important to do than celebrate birthdays!

In Bed With The New Garmin 310XT

garmin_cf-lgOne may wonder why I just received this beautiful piece of technology for triathlon training, while my knee is still in a brace blocked at a 40 degree angle. Well, I pre-ordered this little gem on the 8th of May (Red Cross Day…I should have thought better of it), exactly 1 month before the bike accident. I was so fed up with the unreliability of the dozen pieces of POLAR equipment you need to stick on your body and bike to hope getting some training analysis uploaded on your PC in the end.

Training with Polar requires a watch, a separate GPS mounted on the arm, a heart sensor, a footpod, a speed sensor, a cadence sensor & an infrared USB stick…not to mention that all of them need those little costly round flat batteries that need changing every 3 months. And it will only work for running and biking. Forget about swimming and most other sports.

I just love this new Garmin Watch. Mind you, you also need a heart sensor and a USB stick, but that’s it. And its good for all sports. It even works when crawling in open water! MY wife tested it this morning and even she was amazed by this piece of technology and the degree of integration with the on-line analysis softare “Garmin Connect”. You go out, th watch locates satellites in a whizz and you just need to press start. That’s it. I also did a test in the garden: Crutch-Walking for 3 min – avg pace 19min/km!

This watch is such a hit! I am going to check Garmin Share Price now…

The Long Way Towards Full Recovery

x-rayDr. Susanne Bach, our wonderful house doctor calls me back in the evening of June 8th. She confirms that I can be transferred to the private clinic of Döbling and that Dr. Andreas Janousek accepts to operate me. It is very good news. I know, that from now on I will be in trusted hands. Janousek is among others a medical team member of the National Austrian Ski team and a very skilled knee surgeon.

The following day at 13h00 a Red Cross Ambulance takes me to Döbling. The hospital staff is fantastic and up to its reputation. I am transferred in a private room. Everything is done to make me feel like in a hotel.

I feel safe and wait for the doctors to tell me what will be next. Dr. Janousek  tells it to me straight in the face. It is a severe injury, he can only operate in 10 days due to the commotion and the wounds. The rehab is going to last for an eternity…plus a little bit. At least I know. And I am grateful for the straightforward talk.

The waiting starts. I get bored, nailed in my bed, but at the same time, I feel so weak and empty that there is nothing I can do. The first visits: Michael Roberts and his son bring a PlayStation2!!!, Susanne and Maria, Isa, Manon, Zoe, Gerhard, Joanne, Daniel, Eva, etc… all come to get some news and bring some news. The pain get less and I am now only a few days before surgery. I start to get very anxious. It is the first time in my life that someone is going to cut me open.

Dr.Janousek assures me that he has put an A-Team together, the anesthetist tries to re-assure me. But all-in-all, I hate the idea to have a tube shoved down my throat for helping  me breathing and I hate the idea of letting other take control over my body and open it up. But when the day comes, I get very quiet. I don’t realise that I am already gone. I wake up 7 hours after the injection. The drugs are very powerful, but I still feel the pain. I feel terrible in the recovery room and the following 60 hours are among the worst in my life. I am drugged up to the brim, I want to avoid any more painkillers but when the pain comes I immediately press on the button and get some more shoved into my veins. The morale is very low although all went perfectly well. The x-rays show a perfect reconstructed knee. It was done with 7 screws, 1 tibial plate and the equivalent of 4 fingers of bone masses taken from the hip. (The hip scar is the most painful). The pains starts to fade after the third day. It is now June 21st. 2 weeks have passed since the crash. Gerhard, Joanna & Daniel come to visit me. We decide to have coffee on the terrace of my room. Gerhard help me get on my foot and slowly, with the crutches, I manage for the first time in 15 days to get out, feel the fresh air and watch the sun. I am staying in the hospital until the 28th. During this period, Isa, Manon & Zoe visit me every day. It is the best moral support for me. They paint, pin their art against the walls of my room, they sit together with me in the bed, they walk along the corridor with me, they have dinner with me. It is very touching.

DSC_001828th of June is a day to remember. I am leaving the hospital and the wonderful team that took care of me. Isabel has come to pick me up. I am in the car going home! A full length cast is on my left leg for another 3 weeks, than an orthosis for 3 weeks and then I can start walking again!!!

Bike Accident in Zeiselmauer (Tulln)

023I have neglected my blog for about a month now. It is mainly because my laptop and I decided to break down at the same time. On the 1st of June my Sony VAIO refused to answer to the power ON button and 1 week later a driver decided to mingle with my future plans by hitting me with his car while I was riding my bike. The accident happened on June 8th at 10h45 in Zeiselmauer a small village 40km away from Vienna.  I originally wanted to take a hilly road, but because of the time of the day I decided to avoid the traffic and take the cycling road alond the Danube. Unfortunately after 30km the road was closed due to roadworks and I had to go on the national road. That’s when the crash happened.  My knee hits the grill of the car. Both Bike and myself are fortunately projected away from the car my head hits the road hard. My Specialized Eye-wear enters like a cookie cutter in my eyebrow and nose. I loose orientation, concentrate on the breathing. I put myself in safety position and start screaming until the pain somehow recedes. I am laying on the street not knowing whether I am safe or not. I suddenly hear someone calling emergency and I feel reassured that I am well taken care of. The first emotion is anger against the driver. I cannot believe that my start at the Switzerland Ironman is being written off in this instant. I cannot believe what just happened to me. Then comes despair. I get quiet, start to localise the pain. I know that my left leg is injured and that the knee feels blocked. I hope at that moment that these are only multiple contusions and superficial wounds.

The ambulance comes after 20 minutes. The crew seems to be fast, efficient and professional. A few questions are asked, preliminary checks are made, infusion inserted with a heavy pain killer. The helm is taken off and replaced by a neck stabiliser. I am transported to the closest regional hospital: the Landesklinikum Donauregion Tulln.

The tests are very thorough I get x-ray-ed from all angles, I see half a dozen of doctors and nurse that either ask me something or inject me something. In the middle of all checks comes a policeman who asks me to blow in a rubber tube. Alcohol test. The test is negative. Powerbar Isotonic drinks do not contain alcohol.

The problem is that after 4hours of checks, no one tells me what is my status and what is the diagnostic. The funny part of it is that it is the person who pushes the beds, who tells me that I have a serious fracture of the upper chin bone and knee injurees. I get jiggy and ask to see the doctor. I see him in the room where casts are prepared. While the team is preparing the bandages for the cast, he tells me what has been diagnosed and that I need to be operated in the coming days. I am shocked by the abrupt news.

I decided at this moment to be transferred to a private clinic in Vienna, which is close to home. I also ask to get a phone to call my wife. She and my daughters come at the end of the day visibly troubled by what had happened.