Saturday, August 21, 2010

Call me Carbon Fiber Man

Yup, I am now officially mesh re-inforced due to a recent triple hernia repair.  I had been dealing with it for a couple of years but every so often it would flare up if I moved something heavy, etc.  Not a biggie, but annoying.  It was actually quite difficult to go ahead with the surgery because I knew it would take me off the bike for several weeks.  I hate that.  Add in the fact that I felt great the rest of the time and it was hard to make the decision to go 'off line' for a while.  But I am not getting any younger and this kind of thing only gets harder to recover from as time goes by.

It hurts.  I walk like Tim Conway's Old Man character from the Carol Burnett show.  I cannot imagine riding a bike and I am sleeping in one of those zero gravity chaise lounger/patio chairs on a egg crate foam camping pad.  It works.  It actually is pretty darn comfy.  Makes me wonder why folks spend $2000.00 on a bed.

So, I am the proud papa of a few new incisions, all backed up by some trick mesh panels that will support the muscle wall, etc.

I had my choice of materials for the mesh:  Ti, Steel, Alu, CF, and bamboo.  Being an internet info kinda guy, I got on the surgery forums and asked for some opinions.  It went something like this:

"I am having hernia repair surgery and I need to decide on what material is right for me to use for the mesh panels.  I know that Ti is the most compliant and lasts forever, the aluminum is pretty light too but I am worried about getting beat up by the lack of flex in the panels.  Carbon is pretty tempting and is soooo light, but will it crack and leave me worrying about a warranty, especially if it is a cheapo, Chinese CF panel?  Finally steel is really the real mesh.  I mean, it has been good enough for screen windows for years until the lighter alu and CF stuff got the 'bling'  Then there is the bamboo option, but that may be too odd.  What should I do?"

I had several long replies and arguments for each material.  20 folks argued passionately for Ti cause "you will never need to do it again" and it has that magic mesh quality.  At least as many folks pitched in for steel cause it is cheaper ("why spend more for something you can't see after it is installed?") and most small, custom medical groups still like to use steel.

There were a few alu guys that said I should just harden up and shut up and go for the lightest, stiffest material there is for the least money.  Comfort is overrated anyway.  The composite folks chipped in and lobbied for the high tech solution as the ultimate material for mesh panels.  Flex vs. strength, weight vs. durability, etc.  I was concerned about a rough strike on a Kidney Stone damaging the CF mesh, but that seemed to be more of an issue with the one brand of mesh panel that was trying to be too light and fancy.  Trek recalled those.

Finally there was one hippie that wanted me to go for the bamboo option with a hemp suture.

Then the words and passions flew...Steel mesh may rust unless treated with 'body-saver' first.  It is heavy.  Alu cracks.  Ti is over priced.  Carbon is great for bike frames, but mesh panels for hernia repair?  C'Mon.  Get real.

The bamboo guy just wanted to legalize pot and drifted off into an hazy tirade.

There was one European poster that no matter what we suggested, always wanted a bigger mesh panel with certain specs like 1.2mm thru-sutures and odd stuff.  Barely understandable, we figured he was a surgeon wanna-be poseur troll.

There was one wise old country Dr. who piped in at the end and said that it was more the way the mesh was used and the magic of the Dr's hand that defined the performance of the mesh panel more then just the material.  "Sure", he said, "some adages are true, but some are just tired old dead horses looking for a place to get beat...again.  Wear what ya' want to wear and lift happy" he said.

So, I went for the CF mesh panels with a good warranty.  I think that will work for me as long as I keep the expectations real.  I sure did like the shiny Ti, though.  And steel is still real.

Note:  If you do not 'get' the satire here, then you do not waste as much time on the bike forums as I do and you likely ride more.


Doug Idaho said...

Oh bummer....sorry to hear about the down time but you are wise to get it taken care of. Funny post as well.....Wishing you a speedy recovery!

Jeremy said...

Thanks for the funnies, especially: The bamboo guy just wanted to legalize pot and drifted off into an hazy tirade.

David said...


I wish you all the best for a speedy and full recovery. Glad you can keep up a good sense of humor at this point.

As I made my way through the article I was beginning to wonder if you had actually had surgery at all. Perhaps those sutures adhered your tongue to your cheek.


p.s. Now is the time to get in some good reading. For a fine cycling-specific read try Joe Kurmaskie's "Metal Cowboy - Tales from the Road Less Pedaled". I found it reminiscent of Steinbeck's "Travels with Charlie".

Along the same vein, though not cycling related, is "A Hunter's Road" by Jim Fergus. Good stuff.

Maybe you can give us a post on some of your favorite books.??

Tony said...

Sweet, CF components will definitely keep the weight down. Although I gotta say I am surprised to hear you made that choice...I would have pegged you as the "throw in the steel one for training purposes and swap it out with a CF one on race day" kinda guy.
Mike and I were laughing yesterday that maybe when you get out we might be able to catch you on the two hr loop, or maybe at least knock you down to a geared bike for the first couple weeks.
Get better soon and happy blogging!

grannygear said...


Yep, it's for real. But, we might as well have a bit o' fun with it, eh? Thanks for the book recommendo..I will keep that in mind for Father's Day. All the books I have been in lately have been of a spiritual nature, but I want to get into some adventure books too.


I will see ya on the bike paths for a while!