Six Wheels in Germany – April 2021 (Month 85)

Activities this month

This month continued with activities on most days. I run every two days, for 30 minutes or more, with a rest day in between. I cycle to work in the velomobile and Klaus and I have also done a couple of trike rides.

Here is the Wheel to show you where I have been.

Green = velomobile or walk, red = trike, blue = run

As you can see, I did 272 km in total. That splits out as:
169 km cycling
53 km walking
51 km running

Pets and Wildlife

This month is largely about Poppy the dog.

This is because she has rather been in the wars – as has my bank account!

It all started when she started limping a little on a back leg. She does this now and again, we had assumed she had a touch of arthritis as she is almost 11 years old. It also often happened when I have pain in my artificial elbow joint – related to weather and the wind – she would also be limping.

So when she started limping we ignored it for a few days, but it didn’t seem to be getting better. This was unusual as it usually only lasts 2-3 days. Of course, the end of this time coincided with the weekend so it was actually about 6 days after she first started being lame that I took her to the vets. We had also wondered if she had a problem with her guts as she looked rather wider than she should do.

So off I went to the vets with Poppy reluctantly in tow. They tried to feel around her stomach but she tenses up totally when at the vets so they couldn’t feel anything. They decided to take an x-ray of her leg to see if they could see anything – they do this without sedating her but holding her down so the vet said that it wasn’t a brilliant x-ray but it looked rather as though she had torn her cranial cruciate ligament (equivalent to the ACL or anterior cruciate ligament in footballers). They said this would require an operation to repair and that they couldn’t do it in Kempen but referred me to the small animal clinic in Duisburg.

Fortunately I had the Wednesday off as TOIL so phoned the clinic in Duisburg and arranged to come in at 8:30 on Wednesday morning with Poppy. They said she should not eat after 6pm the night before as presumably they would take some x-rays under general anaesthesia.

So on the Wednesday morning I trundled off to Duisburg (fortunately our side of the river Rhein so I didn’t have to participate in the massive traffic jam for the A40 bridge) and once I had registered had to wait outside – with about another 8 dogs – as we were slowly called in by phone. Poppy had worked out this was a veterinary surgery so was not happy, and when it started to snow I was regretting not trying to park in the vets car park as the car was a long way down the road. I was just trying to decide whether I should go and get the car so we could wait in the warm when the vet phoned me and asked me to come in.

We then had a consultation with a young lady vet who had the same problem as the vet in Kempen with trying to work out if she had a gut problem. The vet said the next step was to do an ultrasound to see if there was anything inside pressing on a nerve in her leg to make her lame.

So Poppy had her second ultrasound in the last twelve months… and didn’t like this one either! However it showed all her organs were fine, no tumours, just the expected changes in an 11-year-old dog. She had some gas which was probably making her look a bit wide – we wonder if she might be slightly lactose intolerant as she gets yoghurt pots, or it could just be one of those things. But this wasn’t a big problem. So the ultrasound was good news overall.

Back to the consultation room with the vet and she said they would take x-rays. This might take up to a couple of hours so I should go home and they would phone me. If they needed to operate (if it was the cruciate ligament tear) they would do it straight away. Expected cost 1000-3000 EUR depending on which operation had to be done.

So I went home without Poppy and waited.

The vet phoned after an hour to say the x-rays showed it was indeed the cruciate ligament and that they would operate, but that they could do the simpler operation, extracapsular repair (also known as the De Angelis technique or lateral suture technique) – which is the traditional surgical method for a ruptured cruciate. This is basically a bit of dental floss holding the joint in place and eventually the bones grow around this so if the dental floss breaks then the joint is still stable. This is good for smaller dogs. So anyway I said to go ahead and they asked me to call a few hours later to see how she was.

All went well and they said there was no damage to the meniscus, which was good. I could pick her up a few hours later. Fortunately Gudula was able to come with me as it is rather hard for me to hold Poppy for a long time with my one good arm – and negotiate doors etc at the same time. So we drove together back to Duisburg and picked up our very sleepy and very gloomy Poppy, with Gudula holding her in her arms on the way home.

The vet had told us that Poppy needed to have complete rest for the next two weeks. The only time she could move around was for the toilet. Which meant crate rest.

She was wearing a lampshade to stop her biting at the massive dressing on her leg.

And she was feeling very sad about it all.

I was actually impressed by the vet bill for this treatment as it was less than I was expecting. Here is the itemised list for those who can read German – with VAT it ended up at 1.099 Euros. A cycling acquaintance in the UK who is a vet thought that was an excellent price.

I went out immediately to buy a second crate as we knew we didn’t want to have to carry a crate up and downstairs the whole time – Poppy’s mega-boring crate rest would be partly with us and partly downstairs with Gudula and Frank, so she had a bit of a change of scenery.

She slept the whole afternoon and would not drink or eat. We took her outside for a pee but nothing happened, not particularly surprising as she hadn’t drunk anything that day.

That night she was in the crate in the bedroom with us but was crying a lot. She hates the lampshade of course. We neither of us slept well because of the dog whining and squeaking. Klaus was going to work at home for the next two days so she would not be alone during the day.

The next morning she managed a pee eventually which was a relief. We gave her only wet food with her antibiotics and painkillers – she loves this food so was quite happy about that! I am allergic to the antibiotics she was given so Klaus had to handle them, and I had a few pairs of rubber gloves in case I needed to dispense them sometime.

He said she was quite noisy during the day, which isn’t optimal when he is doing video conferencing. Once I was home she sat with me on the bed and slept. I decided to attach one of her leads to the bed head so I don’t have to hold on to her the whole time and we realised this was a very good safety feature which means that should could sleep on the bed between us at night and we would know she would not be able to jump off the bed. She usually sleeps on the bed anyway. It would also mean she could be without the lampshade as we would hopefully notice if she started chewing her leg.

So the second night she was on the bed with us and this was a lot better. She was still mega sleepy and rather clingy, but we had a better night’s sleep which is good for me as I do very badly with lack of sleep.

The next day we had to take her for a dressing change at our local vets. And thus started the interesting parade of leg colours – she would need the bandage changed every two days for a fortnight.

First change was a nice turquoise with blue stars.

In the photo above you can see she is lying on the bed with the lead attached. She is comfortable like this and is safe in that she cannot go anywhere.

I had told the vet that she hadn’t yet done a poop and the vet thought that was OK for a little while, but we would of course keep an eye on her.

When no poop had arrived by Sunday morning we were getting a bit concerned – she had had her last poop Wednesday morning. On our blackboard downstairs we were writing down when she did her wees (pipi) at the beginning and we had a space for the poop but with a big 0. And then eventually, Sunday afternoon…

This was a real relief, and everything was soon back to normal. She still won’t drink much water so she gets her dried food soaked in water with lots of extra water so she takes her required liquid intake through her food. She has a water bowl available in the crate but she rarely drinks from that – although the fountain in the garden is apparently OK sometimes.

The next vet visit was another bandage change two days later. This time we had a pink leg with purple spots.

Gudula had also told me of an alternative to the lampshade, a blow-up soft pillow around the neck, and we bought one for when Poppy was in the crate. She found it much more comfortable and was OK about wearing it.

Because her ears really got in the way with this lampshade and were also getting into her food I gave her a haircut in the garden sitting on the grass. Shockingly short ears but they are less in the way now!

On her next visit to the vet for a bandage change we went for a pink option.

She had started to walk a little more now. At first she had bounced her back legs together to get around but she was now walking in a more normal manner although with a stiff leg it was rather tricky. Pooping and peeing both looked rather awkward and she tired very quickly and asked to be picked up. She was only allowed to walk when in the garden for a pee or poop for these first two weeks, and it will be three months before she is allowed to walk normally or jump up on furniture (we will probably need to get a ramp for the furniture anyway). The big problem with this injury is that the other leg has to compensate and do more work and in 50% of dogs the second hind leg cruciate ligament tears too. We don’t want to go all through this again!

When she is in the crate and alone (which is not very often as someone is usually in so she is in sight of them in the crate) we have big brother to watch her, a webcam so we can see what she is up to. Sleeping, mostly.

We also have the option to spy on her in the dark!

Gudula often collects Poppy from the crate in the morning and takes her downstairs so the dog has some company… and I have evidence of the dog-napping:

For the fourth visit for a bandage change we were treated to a different set of leg decorations – the giraffe.

She had to be on the lead the whole time – out in the garden and also in the house if we were not directly holding her. She was mostly on the bed when with us as that is more relaxed for her but if she was on the sofa she had to be on the lead to prevent her jumping down. As you can see, with dog on the lap it can be difficult to manage everything.

The next vet visit was after 10 days and it was time for the stitches to be removed!

The leg was looking good and the swelling had gone down but you could already see the muscles were wasting. And she came out with a yellow leg this time.

Apparently not impressed by yellow with green bones

The yellow was a good colour choice as she decided to go for a pee on uneven ground later and managed to shoot the leg. It didn’t show up too badly on this bandage!

She was clearly walking with more and more confidence but equally we could see the muscles on her left hind leg wasting and she was often stiff as she has few ways she could sit with it.

After the yellow bandage her last was a rerun of a previous colour, the light blue.

And then two days later it was time for the bandage removal after 2 weeks. This went fine, and I was amazed at the price. I had estimated around 500-750 Euros as it was one vet and one vet assistant for 20 minutes, 7 times, plus new bandage materials. And the total was…

138 Euro, which I consider excellent value!

After the bandage removal Poppy was not willing to put any weight on her leg. She gave it a good clean and nibble first

But she would not put weight on it, holding it high. We knew that after 3 weeks her muscles would be very weak and it would feel weird, but when the next day she didn’t want to come out of her crate and wouldn’t walk, just flopping down on the grass, I made another vet appointment. She had seemed very unhappy and we were concerned that she seemed unwilling to walk at all. We could straighten and bend the leg without it apparently causing her pain, but she would barely touch it to the ground, and seemed not to want to walk at all – perhaps the other leg was also now bad.

I was actually pretty concerned about her as Gudula had commented how lethargic she seemed. She perked up a bit once I put her in the car but was clearly disappointed to be going to the vets again.

The vet said that basically Poppy has a ‘Denkfehler’, an incorrect thought, about the leg. She hasn’t used it properly for three weeks and it feels wrong so she thinks she can’t use it. The vet also thought she might well still have pain and possibly nerve damage and as she was no longer on painkillers it was worth giving her some again. She had an injection painkiller and I was given some tablets to take away, and also an exercise to encourage her to use the bad leg.

Later that evening we had small success where she dotted the leg down onto the ground a couple of times, but the next morning whilst eating:

Later in the garden she walked for 10 seconds or so with all four legs, so she is on the road to recovery.

We are now in the ten week long stage where we gradually build up her strength in that leg by very, very short walks (maybe an extra ten minutes per day per week!). She is still not allowed to jump at all so must be on the lead at all times or in the crate or otherwise tethered so she can come to no harm. She is dealing with it rather better than I actually expected as I thought she would be far more bouncy and boisterous, but we are just happy that she came through the anaesthetic OK and is on the mend. Gudula and Frank have been brilliant too at looking after her, so she isn’t on her own very often and has different scenery to look at during the day.

Hopefully next month I can report that she is able to go on short walks outside the garden and that we are having no more vet visits apart from the two checkups we have booked for her leg.

And some wild household members

Those who read my blog last year might remember Robina the robin who nested unsuccessfully in our letterbox. She abandoned the nest after laying seven eggs and before any hatched. But the letterbox was not the best location for a nest, it has to be said.

So that was that. Or so we thought.

One day as I was over by the bins in the back garden I saw a bird fly into the garage through the open access door at the back. I went round and opened the main garage door so the bird could get out and thought nothing more of it.

Then a week or so later whilst faffing about in the garage looking for some tools I noticed something high on a shelf which wasn’t normally there…

What was this mystery pile of leaves? It was really up high right by the runners for the garage opener so I couldn’t see but I was able to hold my phone up high and take a photo…

Another nest!!!

We assumed it was Robina the robin again, although we didn’t initially see her in there. This spot is about 50 cm from the previous nesting spot in the letterbox, just the other side of an up-and-over garage door. But then I caught sight of a robin sitting on the nest peeping at me.

As soon as we knew she was nesting and laying in the garage we obviously made sure that the back door access was always open. I was worried we might scare her by opening the garage as it is noisy and would completely change the amount of light in the garage but I have to access my velomobile for commuting. We would risk it!

After a few more days Robina was always sitting on the nest when I twice per day opened the garage door to get my velomobile out or return it. She was hard to see but when you opened the garage she would pop her head up to look and it was just possible to make out her face and her red breast.

And then one day when I opened the garage Robina wasn’t sitting on the nest. So I took the opportunity with my phone in hand and snapped the following:

And then a few days later…

Six (?) baby robins!

Mum and Dad are constantly flying in and out of the garage with food for them. They were lucky as Gudula was doing a lot of garden work including verticutting the lawn so there were lots of worms and insects around.

A few days later when no adult bird was on the nest I took another shot. This time I only count five but I guess one could be hiding.

We are wondering if they will poop on our velomobiles when they fledge!

And talking of velomobiles or bikes in general, we have now been given access to a garage just across the road where we can store our trikes and bike spares etc. The added bonus is that it is lockable! So we have both trikes there rather than 400 metres down the road in the other garage that we were previously using. The house to which the garage belongs is being used for seasonal workers for the asparagus and strawberry picking and is too small for modern cars so we will probably be able to use it for many years, which is great news! It has a slightly leaky roof and is very low down to get in (I will undoubtedly bang my head on the garage door multiple times) but it is brilliant to have it and to have secure storage that we can see out of our lounge window. We still have trackers on the bikes that are in there so we can know if something moves – we originally had a tracker on the garage door so we would know when it opened but the vibrations of passing tractors gave us too many false alarms.

Poor Klaus’s Emily has now also been moved to the ‘spare’ garage, and his trike Malcolm has been brought to the main garage, as Emily has once again broken her gear hanger. This happened once with Humphrey and once before with Emily. It’s not something we can repair, it has to go to Dronten (and we are not allowed to travel to the Netherlands anyway at the moment) so Emily is out of action for a while. Fortunately the weather has been OK for triking.

Food this month

This month Easter came and went without much of a difference to the daily life in semi-lockdown. However, what was rather lovely was that the Production Manager at work, who used to work for local bakery Stinges, made us all an Easter Hare bread thingie and also gave us a hard-boiled egg.

Because of the carbohydrate I ate the roll over two days – it was tasty!

I treated myself to a new gadget this month – a Kenwood Kmix mixer. It has already seen good use in making cakes.

I did a bit of recipe experimentation and made these keto cupcakes with Frischkäse/cream cheese icing.

As we live round the corner from the Asparagus Farm we have also been buying up their cheap asparagus (broken pieces) and turning it into some very tasty keto soups. Creamy and buttery!

Super salad / soup or salad?

The nice thing about living near this farm is that they also sell strawberries (yummy!) and we can do some great photography of the asparagus fields too!

Photo by Klaus

In Germany we still aren’t allowed to eat out due to Covid but ice cream bars are open and so Klaus and I went on a short ride to Hüls one day to meet one of his work colleagues (who has a cool Van Moof bike) and to share an ice-cream with him.

I had just got Millie back after having her indicators repaired and rather annoyingly the lights started playing up again – my Lichtkanone started flickering on and off and then died completely. As neither I nor Beyß have much enthusiasm for more Millie Wiring Experiences at the moment I have said I will leave it for now and bring her back to him in the summer to get it fixed when I can use the trike. I have a removable torch I can fit to the Lichtkanone to give light for my morning commute if needed but otherwise she has enough lights. I do so wish that when the Milans were built they had put decent wiring in them – it looks like this is a problem in the spaghetti junction box again.

The everlasting electrical problems in Millie are a bit like my Mum’s leaky heating system issues at the moment. She has a leak of water somewhere and has had the local gas man checking everywhere, lifting tiles and floorboards. Eventually they found a leak and it was repaired but lo and behold there was another one somewhere. Mum paid a fair bit for a special leak detecting man to come and check it and he said where the leak was but the latest news is that the gas man has searched everywhere this man said, removing kitchen cupboards and concrete, and cannot find the leak. Mum has to fill it with water four times a day so it’s very annoying – and has also taken several weeks already and it’s still not fixed. Here’s hoping the leak detecting man can come back and find the REAL issue.

Reaching some goals

Another food-linked item this month. I was delighted that, exactly 6 months after starting to watch my calories a bit more and to track my carbohydrate consumption more closely, I hit my target BMI of 25.

I started at a BMI of 30.4 and a weight of 94.2 kg on 26 October…

And hit BMI 25 on 25 April, which translates to 77.5 kg weight.

You can see that the weight loss was fairly smooth over the time. The big dip at the end is the two weeks of Poppy’s leg problems as I have been worried about her and that always puts me off my food! I plan to go down to 75kg and then go to weight maintenance mode, but at the moment it is hard to imagine eating much more as I am not hungry at all and really enjoy the food and quantities that I am currently eating. I have had to spend a lot of money on clothes as I am now wearing size 40 jeans and at the beginning I was wearing 46. Fortunately most of my tops are still wearable if rather loose.

And today, the last day of April, at a weight of 77.3 kg my BMI was below 25. The NHS were very nice about it too!

The last time my BMI was within the ‘healthy’ range, in fact the only time in my life since I was a child, was between 2000 and 2003. 18 years later I have managed it again and I hope to stay within the healthy range from now on. We shall see!

Klaus’s daughter Lara has also been eating keto for over two months and she is also doing brilliantly well – she has lost 10 kilos in under ten weeks. We are always looking for interesting new meal opportunities with her – but she is much stricter with her carbs than we are (which is good and right at the beginning). I can eat 70-90g carbs per day without the hunger pangs returning so I am lucky in that aspect – I have a chocolate praline or two a day and also sometimes a small bowl of popcorn if watching TV (my little treat). Anyway, kudos to Lara and it’s beginning to be really noticeable in her face and she feels very good with the weight loss. Another six months to a year and she should reach her goal.

At work my colleague brought in some pastries and I did eat the one she gave me. Very tasty!

Talking of work, I had a week of using Klaus’s car to travel to work as he had to work from home. This meant my usual bike parking place was unused by me and when I next cycled to work I had to ask the chaps to clear a bit of space for me in what was previously my bike shed as it has become a general storage area.

And why had I been driving to work? Why was Klaus not in the office for a whole week?

This was because he had an accident whilst out walking with me and sampled the delights of bog-snorkelling. We were walking along a forest path near our house and there were some deep puddles. I walked around them but he decided to jump one. The jump went well but on landing his foot slipped. He managed to get his weight forward but then lost his footing and landed superman-style into the next puddle, taking most of his weight on his right hip and thigh. His iPhone was in his right thigh pocket.

I found his glasses for him which had landed in a puddle and he got up laughing – it was an impressive bit of balletic jumping.

Puddle to the left of the photo was the landing zone

He was worried about the iPhone as his entire weight had landed on it but amazingly there was not a mark on it.

We walked home knowing that he would probably suffer a bit over the next days. It seems the phone transmitted a very impressive bruise through his thigh which made all his muscles lock up and he was unable to drive his car for five days as he couldn’t move the accelerator foot safely. He couldn’t go up and downstairs either so stayed in our flat for 4 days straight. It was good for Poppy who was just back from her operation as she had company, but it was painful for Klaus! The bruise was never that mega on his leg but most of the damage was done in the deeper tissues. All healed up now, as well as the large graze on his side, but he won’t be jumping any more puddles for a while!

So that is my report for April. I will leave you with a nice sunset over the fields near our house and we will see what May brings… Klaus’s birthday for one!


  1. That was a good price. Our Oscar had the same problem when he was about 6 months old. $3,500 Aus was the cost. We also had to drive 200 kilometers to the vet who could do the op. Those bandages reminded me of Oscar in the cage for 3 weeks looking bloody miserable.

  2. Good luck with Poppy’s recovery. Several years ago my Border Collie suffered the same problem and had the same operation same sort of veterinary costs (in UK)! There were 3 different treatment paths “available” at different prices but I left it to the vet to use the best based on clinical need (she decided after starting the operation and looking at the damage). My BC made a full recovery so best wishes to Poppy for the same. We had to go through dog physio though we didn’t do the swimming pool physio – most of it was holding and pushing leg in specific ways as instructed/demonstrated by vet nurse who was specialising in dog physio.

    p.s. Last Nov you helped me with some advice on ICE vs HP recumbents (I was concerned about ground clearance) and last week I collected my ICE Sprint X Tour (but only managed a couple of short rides so far). My 1st ever recumbent ride (Covid prevented trial rides) but it’s good & I’m happy and thank you for the advice.

  3. A lovely blog report Aunty H.
    A good mix and that is a gorgeous dog. My two cockers died within a month of each other before Christmas – each of a different cancer.
    It will soon be time to visit the rescue centres.
    My motorised Trice sits unused in a corner while a Moulton TSRA8 with Bafang claims my attention; a 50th anniversary present from my wife :0)
    Keep well all three of you.

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