Sunday, May 27, 2012

Why I don't Race Anymore.....

Two weekends ago two friends and myself participated in the TOSRV (Tour Of The Sciota River Valley). 2 days of riding between Columbus and Portsmouth Ohio, which covers 105 miles each day. We had a really good time and road hard the whole time averaging 20mph for both days.

The ride is very well supported with food stops every 25-30 miles, loaded with the perfect mix of food. Of course when planning or participating in such an event as this, you must be prepared for any type of situation or weather. Also, being that there is no SAG support provided, except for emergency situations, you must also be physically and mentally prepared for said weather or situations.

Day one was near perfect weather ranging form the mid 60's to 70's with a slight breeze. We headed out of Columbus setting a moderate pace, gradually ramping it up as we went along. The three of us pretty much kept to our little group with the occasional person catching our wheels along the way.We rolled into Portsmouth @ around 1:30.

Day two brought the challenge of rain. It started sometime during the late night as I remember being awakened by the rain tapping on our tent. We awoke Saturday morning to 62 degrees and a steady rain. Fortunately there was a dry place to get dressed and we had covered our bicycle seats the night before so we were able to at least start out the first few minutes of the ride dry. I know, what good was covering the seats, when we were going to be in the rain all day. I dont know, but there is just something pleasing to the psyche to start out in dry clothes and a dry seat.

We finished up the day at just about the same time on Saturday,except for the fact that we spent far lest time socializing @ the food stops. With temperatures hovering at around 62 with rain, it does not take long for the cold to creep in and weekend your spirit.

So you might ask....

What does any of this have to do with me not racing anymore?

When participation in events such as this, especially one that has been going on for over 50 years, you encounter a very diverse group of cyclists. Young, old, fit, not so fit, racers and people training for longer trips. I actually road the entire ride with a RAAM finisher and road a portion of the second day with another. So after leaving the 50 mile stop, we just started out easy. This was also lunch so we set a digestive pace and slowly ramped things back up. @ about 5 or so we had come up onto a fairly large group of riders and were just starting to work our way through them as another group of racer types approached from behind.

This was surely a testerone laden group, as they were hell ben on getting by and through this other group at any cost. Weather cars were approaching or not. during this particular waylay, a couple of them had to dart out of the way of oncoming traffic and cut me off. So at this point it occurred to me it might be fun to chase and see what kind of fun we may have. This is also a point in the course where there are many rolling hills, which played to our advantage, as being form SWPA hills are a major part of any outing.

So we took of quickly catching and passing many of these riders by the top of the first climb. We soon caught the rest and passed them before the top of the second climb. It became readily apparent that we could easily allow them to stay with or slightly ahead of us then quickly overtake them on the hills.This little reindeer game went on for quite a while until things leveled off and we all just started riding together until we came to a place where we had to yeald for traffic before we could carry on.

This is the point where my heart decided that it did not want to play anymore. Ever since my ablation I have been able to ride as hard as I want so long as I keep the pace steady and my heart-rate consistent. However when racing or riding such as we just has been your heart-rate can be all over the place. In my case, during this 30 or so minute interval, it had been from 160 to 188 and everywhere in between. Which may have been ok if we had not had to come to a complete stop immediately following.

The recovery period after hard efforts was always a trigger for my AFFib in the past, and even since my ablation can occasionally still set my heart atwitter so to speak. So I soft pedaled the next couple of miles to the next food stop and allowed my heart to settle down., Which it did after a fairly short period of time. I did however take my PIP just to make sure things stayed that way.













(The arrowed portion shows my HR OOC) 
Notice the jump from below 160 to near and over 200 then back to below 120 when I converted.

That all being said I still love to push myself on the bike. And maybe someday I will start doing time trials, as they require more of a steady effort. At this point I am very pleased with the results of my ablation, though I believe that I will one day have to go back for a touch up procedure.To either eliminate what ever it is that has either reconnected, or that they missed during the first procedure.


Monday, April 23, 2012

The Best Grapefruit I Ever Ate......



Over the years I have covered many miles on the bike. And every so often a ride, or part of a ride will remind me of yet another ride form the past. Thursday eveing was not exception..

Andy Matt and I headed out to the power plant, which in itself covers real estate that is very  familiar, but this particular evening I turned onto a road we rarely ride. Even more rarely in this particular direction. It instantly propelled me back several years to a ride I did with  slacker extraordinaire "Nicoll" and "Brat Brainiac" (Bret Barronak.

We had headed out in the heat of the day for a long hard ride. We were long from home when food and water became a premium and once we got within 20 miles form home everything was pretty much depleted. As we were riding along I noticed this big round bulge in  "Brats" center jersey pocket. As we rode along I inquired of "Brat" about the growth in the center of his back. He truned and smiled and said, wait a little bit, we are all going to really be happy I brought this along."

So we trudged along till we were about 8 miles from home. As we turned on to this not so familiar road to me at the time, he reached around and pulled a very large Pink Grapefruit form his pocket. I must say that Nicoll and I were both elated at the view. "Brat" then proceeded to peal and divide up the grapefruit between us.

To this day I have never eaten a grapefruit that was as satisfying or delicious as the one that day.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Perseverance.........

When I purchased this framed poster some 20 years ago I did so because it spoke to me. Not so much as it had cyclists on it but the message below the cyclists. "There Is No Substitute For Hard Work".

There has never been a statement so true, in sports or in life.  And work does not specifically apply to 9-5 it applies to plain old living as well. 

Now don't misunderstand  me. Perseverance does not guarantee success in everything you do in life, but it will propel you through it. It can allow you to achieve that which you thought was unattainable or lead you in the direction you need to go. 

It can even help you to overcome obsticals others see and turn from, or carry you through the toughest times and allow you to become an inspiration to those that see it. It will make you a better Husband , wife, friend, employee or student. It is aplicable in every aspect of life.

Throughout my life I have known many people that are great examples of the benefits Perseverance. So here are a couple examples. 

The first and one of the most recent being my wife. Who despite working full time and helping maintain a household, was able to complete her BSN in the same amount of time most students do with nothing else to do in their lives but study.

Another would be my good friend Scott. Having been injured in a train accident and losing an arm, he decided not to feel sorry for himself but to continue to live his life as if he had both arms. He is currently racing for the Paralyzed Veterans Racing Team.

Of course if you have been keeping up with this site you know I have had my own obsticals to overcome.

I could list many more but I believe I have made my point. So get out there and do something. Live your life to the fullest and when time get tough, or you dont think you can go the distance, put your heart into it and go for it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thanks Mark

For those of you that know me, this heading may send your mind reminiscing to the days of old. When a group of rag tag cyclists, some racers some not from Indiana County, regularly put a team together to participate in the Tour De Strongland. bike race. Yes that was actually the name of our team one year, "Team Thanks Mark". One of many off the wall names. It actually got to the point where the race promoter would just call us those guys from Indiana. 

Now there may be other reasons for that. Not the least of which was the year of infamy. The year we actually took the traveling trophy home for the year. The year I know the Strongland Chamber of Commerce, reluctantly put our team name on the trophy. You see this particular year was a year that everyone will remember to this day. A year of slow speed police chases. The year an American icon, A professional football player and hack actor, would be accused of murder. The year an infamous lawyer would make a name for himself with a tag line, "If the glove's don't fit, you must acquit". the year a complete police precinct would be turned upside down. I digress.

So as usual this particular year we show up for the race and have yet to pick a name for ourselves. So after having gone through the usual litany of  names that would never make the cut, one team mates wife says, "Why don't you guys call yourselves The Flying Fuhrman Four". So there it was, we looked at each other , laughed and filled out the paperwork. Needless to say at the awards ceremony, that is always painfully late and long, they refused to call us by our team name, and just referred to us as those guys form Indiana. And that is how it would be for years to come.

Anyway.....

Back to the reason for the original heading.

It is not often you get 70 degree sunny days in early March. Lets face it, here in PA we only get about 50 blue sky days a year, so one must take advantage when they can. So of course a ride was in order. So I made plans with a couple of friends to get out after work. One could go early and one a little later. So I devised a plan to do a short 15 miler with the one friend then meet up with the other to go for a longer ride, reaching for the 50 mile mark for the day.

I've been seriously lacking in saddle time this year and figured this the perfect plan to get some good long tempo riding in. So Matt and I headed out at a good even pace. The winds were not too bad, compared to what they have been lately and of course the weather was perfect. We cruised around the first 15 miles without a hitch. As we rounded the bend to where we were to meet our 3rd rider I see a 4th. A familiar face to me, and immediately knew that my steady tempo ride was about to turn into a hammer fest, wrought with reign-deer games.

There sits Mark, a guy that I have spent countless hours with on the bike. Riding places on our road bikes that most would cringe at. No winter maintenance was our battle cry. A gravel road, a good excuse to find out where it went. Bad weather, no problem. So I knew I was in for some major pain.

So after some niceties we were off again, like a shot out of a cannon. It was not bad at first as I had a 15 mile warm up. Attacking the first climb, then ramping up the speed on the decent, only to catch the draft of a pickup and accelerate even more. But as the ride progressed, my lack of mileage for the year started to show, and Mark loves to take advantage of such situations, so he never let up for the entire ride. Needless to say my legs were thrashed at the end but in a good way.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Catching Up

Been doing more riding than blogging these days and that in my opinion is a good thing. Had a really nice ride on a dreary evening a couple weeks ago with Andy, John, Duane, and Dave. John is in the best shape I have seen him in and Duane the exact opposite. The only thing Duane had going for him was his ridiculous choice of cycling attire. I actually thought he was just playing around at the start of the ride but it did not take long to realize that he was hurting and nobody seemed to mind making him suffer a little more than he probably wanted to.
As I have stated before, the metal bridges around here are starting to get a little precarious. I somehow managed not to kill myself again on this ride when my rear tire decided it wanted to be in the lead. Fortunately the bridge is only about 8 feet long and just before I reached the point of no return my wheels hit pavement righting me. I would rather be lucky than good any day, and this time I was very lucky.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Bad Day For Frogs...Turtles, Not So Much.

Have had allot of good rides lately. Some short, some long but all high effort.

Rode with Andrew and Matt Saturday morning in the fog, drizzle, rain and downpour. We had planned to ride at 7:30 and do 40, but decided to push it back to 8:30 to miss the rain. Unfortunate for us, and the 3 dead frogs and 1 undead box turtle we saw along the way, the rain did not hold off and we spent about 45 minutes riding in it. We also had an opportunity to cut it a little short so we did and ended up with a little over 30. I haven't ridden in that hard of a rain in a while now. It actually hurt when it hit my face, even at a slow pace.

The metal bridges around Indiana County have really started to get sketchy when they are we these days. Even the short bridge on Beagle Club road sent my rear wheel into a slide.

Set a New Post Ablation PR...

On the Tanoma Loop last Thursday. 19.6 mph/30 miles. It has been awhile sense I have done that loop solo. What really surprised me was that I did not even feel like riding that night and told my wife I was going to go short and would be back in about an hour. But once I got going I felt more like riding so @ about 4 miles in I started pushing it a little bit and by the 1/2 way point had bumped my average up to 19.5, which I was pretty happy with. So I decided to see how long I could maintain it which i was able to til the end.

Near the end of the ride I happened to pass a cyclist going in the opposite direction, so I turned to chase him down. it isn't often around here to encounter somebody on the road so if it isn't somebody we know we try to find out who they are. Hate to miss out on another riding partner.

So as I said I turned around and chased him down. It actually turned out to be a friend of mine that I haven't seen in a while due to conflicting schedules and such. That and the fact that his focus is on sprint triathlons so his rides are generally shorter than we usually do.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Great weekend of riding.....

With friends I haven't ridden with in over a year. Started out the weekend with the "Gay Love" Loop. Click link for explanation. Rode with Brownie and Andrew. Tom joined us for the first hour but had to peal off due to family commitments. As we stopped for a quick snack grab for the rest of our outing is was mentioned that ouf first hour split was at over 18mph. Not a good start to a long hilly day and as the profile of the ride went vertical that quickly changed. I was hoping Steve might show up as well but he is little laid up right now due to a race accident last week. That's not actually him but his Achilles Tendon did make a brief appearance.

We had a great ride with allot of chatter and much effort. After a sandwich and some more visiting Brownie headed home to Mount Holly Springs and I headed for the man chair.

Today I was unable to roust Andrew for a recovery ride, so Hammer and I headed out for 25 miles of sweltering heat riding. Road a little harder than I had planned but after about 15 miles my legs felt invigorated so all was good.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wow......

Only one blog entry for this year. I need to get back to it......


There...that's 2.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dont know if I ever posted this before........

I was asked one time by a site that is devoted to write a summary of my time spent with atrial fibrillation, kind of a case study of sorts. You could actually go to their site and read it there if I could remember the web address. Anyway here it is, old news and boring but it might interest somebody....

I started my Afib journey in 1992 when I was 25 years old. At that time I was into bodybuilding and would occasionally experience runs of Afib in the evenings.  I had visited a general practitioner at that time and had some tests done. Nothing ever came from the tests and the doctor said that there was nothing to worry about.

During my 18-year coexistence with this demon it took on many different personalities. It would go from being a nuisance to being totally nonexistent. Over that time I had ventured away form bodybuilding into competitive cycling. No Lance Armstrong by any means, but I road and raced as hard as I could. During that time, 1996-2009, is when the Afib took a more major role in my life. Again it was never a constant problem but a problem nevertheless. I always felt fortunate that my episodes never seemed to last more that 5-10 minutes, the majority being at the lower end as so many others seem to last so much longer than that. I was also always able to know I was going to have an attack prior to it actually happening. I can’t really describe the sensation or feeling I had but there was definitely a change in my body I could physically feel before the onset of and attack.

During the time period from 1996-2007 the Afib did little to affect my lifestyle. Very occasionally it would have attacks during rides and events but was always able to recover from them. One thing I noticed was that after an event I could ride as hard and as long as I wanted to and not have to worry about a second attack. This always puzzled me, as everything I ever read about others experiences with this was that they felt very tired and drained. I have two personal acquaintances that have the same affliction and one is able to actually continue with whatever he is doing during an event and the other was not. I can only concur from these to different reactions is that one is in Afib and the other flutter.

The other thing I found odd during this time was that my Afib would go dormant for long stretches of time. I went at time as long as 1 year with no episodes at all. Over that time I also discovered that the more fit I became the fewer issues I would have. I can only assume that it was the efficiency of my heart and muscles that caused this as most of my attacks on the bike were during recovery form hard efforts. I also believe that one of the attributing factors to my Afib was dehydrating and electrolyte deficiency, as my episodes would become more frequent as the season progressed into the hotter summer months and dissipate in the fall.

During this time frame 1996-2007 I had seen several doctors and 2 different cardiologists, had numerous tests and carried several different types of recording devices, as it was hard to get a recording of what was happening. There was only one time that they got a recording under a controlled environment. This was during a stress test early on. The test went fine but they decided to leave me hooked up for a while afterwards. Just as they had decided to unhook me I went in to Afib. My heart rate went form 74 to 234 and all hell broke lose. I guess the nurse had never seen this before and she got all freaked out. The doctor however was very calm and said he could fix me but that was the last I ever heard of that as he was not my regular cardiologist.

In more recent years 2008-2009 my Afib had become a totally different animal. The duration of the episodes really did not change that much but they had become more frequent and at times longer. I also started to experience chest pain, which was something I had never experienced in the past. Looking back I also believe that I was starting to experience flutter at this time but have no way of verifying it. I was still able to ride but was not able to recover from an episode as I was before. There were also times that I would have to call for somebody to come pick me up.

There is so much more I could write about but I believe that this pretty much gets to the point.


Known Triggers:

As my Afib was so inconsistent over the years it was hard to pinpoint what really would and would not trigger an episode. But this is a list of what I believe were some of the more reliable ones.

  • MSG – I would often times have an attack after eating Chinese foods, which are notorious for high amounts of MSG.

  • Alcohol – Though not a constant, I did frequently have episodes following alcohol consumption. Early on it would be when I would have a little too much to drink. In later years a couple of beers would do the trick.

  • Dehydration – As stated in my overview.

  • Electrolyte imbalance – As stated in my overview.

  • Stress

  • Anger/Frustration

  • Talking about it – Believe it or not I had many episodes following a discussion about it. Nobody that ever rode with me on a regular basis would ever mention or ask me how I was feeling, as it was sure to rigger an event.

  • Lack of sleep – I was always more prone to have an attack when fatigued or after a night with little sleep. Nothing better for your Afib than a good 8 hours of sleep.

  • Milk – Not sure why but I used to drink a bunch of milk but noticed that my episodes became less frequent when I stopped. This was a long time ago but I remember reading at the time about something in milk that I felt could be associated with Afib.

  • Caffeine – I am not positive that this was a trigger for me, as it does not seem to be for others. I never did drink coffee or soda so this was an easy one for me to avoid.
Known Deterrents:

I was never able to find anything that would help consistently alleviate or eliminate my Afib. I know that there are many that control theirs with supplementation but I was never able to find the right combination.

·         http://www.afibbers.org - This is a wealth of information for those with Afib. There are discussions and always somebody out there to give you advice on what is working for them. It is also nice to have others to talk to that are or halve experienced what you are going through.

·         800 mg Magnesium/day – I was never able to get any relief form this but may afibbers do. I however have continued to take it eve after my ablation.

·         Potassium – I have found that since my ablation I occasionally have PAC’s, although the more time that elapses the less frequent they become. This seems to straighten them out right away.

·         Taurine

The Ablation:

I had my ablation done in August of 2009 at UPMC Shadyside Cardiovascular Institute, Pittsburgh PA, and have been in NSR ever since. The decision to do this seemed a long time coming but again until recent years the Afib was never really a showstopper. Not only that, but with so many advances in the procedure of the years waiting, was the best option.

In June of 2009 my Afib had reached a point where everybody in my life said it was time for me to see my cardiologist. They had been trying to persuade me for nearly a year and I also felt it was time. (I will speak to the importance of good cardiologist later).

It had been a couple of years since I had been to see him and I had described the latest turn that my Afib had taken. We discussed options that I may have along with setting me up an appointment with an EP.  He also gave me a portable event monitor to carry with me and told me to continue as I was but to ease off some.

I had an appointment with the EP in early July. I must say I was a little apprehensive as everything I had read on ablation is that you should have it done by somebody that has done hundreds of the procedures and on a regular basis. When my EP walked through the door I knew there was no way that he could have the type of experienced others had suggested but after speaking with him he seemed very confident and knowledgeable. I had also had a friend that had this same group do his ablation a couple of year’s prior with great success. So we discussed my options, ablation or meds, and decided that since I had been dealing with this for so many years that the ablation was the way to go. So we scheduled for late September. In the meantime he told me that I could continue to ride but to be less aggressive.

As the weeks until my ablation went by my Afib became even worse. It got to a point where I gave up cycling altogether, as I could not even ride easy without having an episode either during or after a ride. I also did not realize that I was also starting to experience regular bouts of flutter. A few weeks went by and my EP called to say that there was a change on the schedule and that I could get in to have my ablation done a month sooner, which was very exciting and stressful. This is a major surgery and I felt was mentally prepared for September but not August. I was however glad to get an earlier date s to get it over with.

Now I can’t exactly remember the time frame for the next part but it was getting close to being a few weeks until my ablation. I was scheduled for a stress test and some other tests before the procedure. The stress test was 1 week prior so it was at least a week or two before that that my heart went into constant flutter. Now I am not sure if it was 24/7 but it was for the majority of the time. Now I did not know that it was flutter at the time. That was determined during the stress test.

The day of the stress test my heart was still racing off and on but I did not expect for it to be a problem, but it was. I was unable to do a normal walking test and had to do a drug-induced stress test. That was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life. I have pushed myself to the brink many times on the bike but never had I felt that bad. This is where the realized that I was in flutter, which is weird as flutter had never presented itself in the past. My heart rate was a pretty constant 150 bpm. The doctor put me on Metoprolol 25mg/day at this time. As the days progressed to my ablation the flutter became more persistent so they increased this dose to 50mg/day.

The flutter was more annoying than anything. I felt pretty good but was really hyped up and was not sleeping more that a couple of hours a day. I lived this way up until I was admitted into the hospital the day before the ablation. Once I was admitted to the hospital they gave me drugs that slowed my heart rate down to a more manageable rate. The pre-op testing was really no big deal. I guess the worst test was the TTI. This is where they insert a probe into your esophagus to look for clots behind the heart. This seems to be a big deal for some people but it was not nearly as bad as others made it out to be.

The ablation itself went well. There was a positive energy in the room during the pre-op and I maintained my sense of humor with my EP as well as all the staff that would be involved with my procedure. My procedure took 10 hours. They did a flutter ablation as well as AV node.

Post Ablation:

The procedure went well and I awoke in the intensive care unit. This was the worst part for me. 10 hours on my back, on a surgical table and now I had to remain on my back for another 12. The pain in my back was excruciating. After a while I had a new nurse come on duty. He was very well informed on what I had been through and stated that the most important thing to do was to keep my legs straight so as along as I did that I could lie on my side. What a relief that was. Nothing else major happened that day except wonderful NSR. I was seeing some weird readout on the screen but these; I came to find out were normal. It is called shadowing, I think, and happens when you move around and is not caused by a strange heartbeat.

The next couple of days in the hospital were uneventful. I was started on blood thinners but nothing else. I was also stuck in ICU as there was no other beds available elsewhere. After a couple of days, I was moved from ICU to a regular room. During this time, I was not confined to my bed and was encouraged to move and walk around. That evening I was feeling a little out of sorts. I was seeing some weird blips and waves on my monitor, shadowing, and I wish I had known this was normal. I soon went into Afib, which kind of freaked me out at first, but then I remembered reading that this can happen as the heart is irritated. My EP had also opted to not start me on any anti-arrhythmic drugs as per my request. If I could go back I would have requested to be put on this type of drug immediately to help prevent this from happening.

I converted on my own in about 6 hours and that was the last episode I have had since then. They started me on Flecainide 100 mg/day the very next day. I was already taking Metoprolol 25mg/day (they need to be taken together) along with, Warafarin. My stay in the Hospital was prolonged due to the fact that my NRI levels would not stabilize. I ended up being in the hospital for 7 days.

Once I got home life went pretty much back to normal. I was told I could start to exercise but to take it easy. I started to jog and was walking to work every day. I soon quit jogging as I felt that I might be pushing myself too hard and did not want to foul things up. I had to go every other day to have my blood levels checked. They could not get my dosing right and when they finally did it was time to come off of the blood thinners, which was in December. I however remained on the Fecainide and Metoprolol until April.

I was given an event monitor to wear for 1 week to look for any abnormalities. After that I was weaned off of the drugs at my follow up appointment, Flecainide first, then Metoprolol. I took my last Flecainide in April and the last Metropolol in early May. I have had no real problems to speak of. I still do have the occasional PAC/PVC not sure which, but those continue to dissipate with time. I am back to more aggressive cycling but am still limiting my heart rate and gradually allowing myself to push back to my Maximum Heart Rate. One thing I have noticed is that my heart does not respond to effort as quickly as it did before but I am assuming that the heart is learning new pathways or recalibrating. I have also noticed that I have only been able to raise my heart rate incrementally. One week I can only get it to 140 then a week or so later 150 and so on. On the other hand I am able to sustain efforts that would normally fall into line with my normal MHR so I can only assume at this point that I will be able to reach that point again.

 I have continued to take the Magnesium, Potassium and Taurine. For the magnesium, I take approx. 800 mg a day. I also use trace mineral drops throughout the day mixed with my water. I use a Potassium powder that I sprinkle on my food instead of salt. Not sure of the amount I am getting but many people take 2000 mg a day. I take the Taurine in a capsule form twice a day. This regimen was unable to help me before but I am hoping that it will keep me from having any future difficulties.

Medications:

Over the years I was only on a couple of different drugs. I however was never on an anti-rhythmic until after my ablation.

·         Digoxin (Rate Control/ Beta Blocker) – This was the very first drug I was ever put on. It was the very early stages of my Afib and prescribed by my first Cardiologist. It made me feel horrible and I was unable to get my heart rate up. It also for some reason seemed to make things worse.

·         Tiazac - Had no apparent affect on me being able to perform on the bike. Not real clear if it had any affect on the frequency of Afib episodes.

·         Metoprolol (Rate control) – Completely eliminated my ability to raise my heart rate. Did little to slow my heart rate prior to my ablation.

·         Flecainide (Anti-Rhythmic) – Many people are able to successfully control their Afib with this drug. Must be used in correlation with a rate control such as Metoprolol.

When I was on the Flecainide and Metoprolol my resting heart rate would go as low as 40 BPM, which is about 10-15, beats lower than my normal. It dropped below that a few times but not very often. My blood pressure would also drop to abnormally low levels causing me to be light headed occasionally. I also experience terrible nightmares during this time. Often times waking up only to go back to sleep and pick up where the dream left off.


Choosing a Cardiologist or Electro Physiologist:

I cannot stress enough the importance of choosing a good Cardiologist. A good cardiologist will listen to you and fully discuss all options before recommending what he feels is best. Just because he does not do what you think he should do does not mean he is no the right one. They must be willing to listen to everything you say, not start writing prescriptions the moment he walks into the room. He should make you feel comfortable about your situation and make you feel confident in what he is doing in terms of your care. I ditched my first Cardiologist, as he would not listen to what I was saying and started writing prescriptions instead of running tests to find out what was really going on. Being younger at the time it was hard to find one that was in tune to my lifestyle. I was fortunate to find one on my second attempt. He was, in my opinion much more qualified and willing to listen than the first. He also immediately ran tests, to find the core problem instead of throwing drugs at it.

As far as Electro Physiologists go I am unsure. There is much merit in those that say the more procedures performed the better. On the other hand I feel that the best doctors in this field, or any field for that matter, are yet to come. Familiarity can bread indifference and routine which is what I believe you don’t want in a surgeon, as every situation is different. You want somebody that has your best interest at heart. Somebody you feel comfortable with as they will have your life in their hands.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Though Veterans Day Was A Couple of Weeks Ago.............

I did not come across this article until this afternoon.We should all take a moment out of our day this Thanksgiving to give thanks for those that have and are still serving our great nation. The injuries of war are not always physical and the ultimate sacrifice not always death.

War is a drug
by Charles D. Whittington, Jr
When soldiers enter the military from day one, they begin to train and are brain washed to fight and to handle situations in battle. We train and train for combat, and then when we actually go to war, it is reality and worse than what we have trained for. We suffer through different kinds of situations.

The Army never taught how to deal with our stress and addictions. War is a drug because when soldiers are in the Infantry, like me, they get used to everything, and fast. I got used to killing and after a while it became something I really had to do. Killing becomes a drug, and it is really addictive. I had a really hard time with this problem when I returned to the United States, because turning this addiction off was impossible. It is not like I have a switch I can just turn off. To this day, I still feel the addictions running through my blood and throughout my body, but now I know how to keep myself composed and keep order in myself, my mind. War does things to me that are so hard to explain to someone that does not go through everything that I went through. That’s part of the reason why I want to go back to war so badly, because of this addiction.

Over in Iraq and Afghanistan killing becomes a habit, away of life, a drug to me and to other soldiers like me who need to feel like we can survive off of it. It is something that I do not just want, but something I really need so I can feel like myself. Killing a man and looking into his eyes, I see his soul draining from his body; I am taking away his life for the harm he has caused me, my family, my country. Killing is a drug to me and has been ever since the first time I have killed someone. At first, it was weird and felt wrong, but by the time of the third and fourth killing it feels so natural. It feels like I could do this for the rest of my life and it makes me happy.

There are several addictions in war, but this one is mine. This is what I was trained to do and now I cannot get rid of it; it will be with me for the rest of my life and hurts me that I cannot go back to war and kill again, because I would love too. When I stick my blade through his stomach or his ribs or slice his throat’s a feeling that I cannot explain, but feels so good to me, and become addicted to seeing and acting out this act of hate, and violence against the rag heads that hurt our country. Terrorists will have nowhere to hide because there are hundreds of thousands of soldiers like me who feel like me and want their revenge as well.

C.J. Whittington served as an Infantry Squad Leader in Iraq fromOct2005 to June2007. Today C.J. is a combat wounded veteran who is currently a student majoring in General Studies at CCBC.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Would Like to Formally Apologise....

To the 4 or 5 of you that regularly come here to read whatever drivel is on my mind at any particular time. Frankly I, like most people, have been too busy these days and something has to suffer for it. So my blogging and cycling have taken a back seat to hunting and other things. Not that I haven't had numerous thoughts that were blog worthy its strictly a time thing.

Equally Yoked.....

Now this is term you may or may not be familiar with. I mostly here it used in the Christian community, in referring to marriage. The term comes from II Corinthians 6:14 "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" 
But all too often I see some Christians taking this statement too far to the extreme. Now I am in total agreement that in marriage it is important that both parties should be on the same spiritual page but in our daily lives I am far from convinced. Granted we must be careful in how we choose those that we will spend our time with or call our friends. And children, in their innocence, are often times not the best judges of character. We must also be firm in our beliefs as to not be misdirected or lead astray. But if you are a Christian, you need look no further than to Jesus himself to see the real value in engaging and inserting yourself into the lives of those that aren't equally yoked to you. I personally have friends from one end of spectrum to the other, both believers and non-believers, and I count myself fortunate to have them all in my life. I would also hope that being my friend would have an impact on them as well.
I feel sorry for those living in their elitist bubble never stepping outside to touch the lives of those they probably should be. Constantly appreciating each other for their theological prowess and taking little time to truly practice it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Busy!!!!

10 new puppies....enough said.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Of Bicycles and Robots........

What do these two things have in common you might ask. Nothing other than the fact that they have both been competing for my time the past few days.
  
Riding has been easy....
Robots, not so much. I am not sure if it is the weather, or a culmination of the miles ridden this year but I am feeling really good these days. Still don't have any races on tap for thsi year, and of course scheduling conflicts are eliminating any chances of me doing a sure to be fun event this Friday evening. I am hoping that next year will be better for me so far as being able to do more events. Our schedule should ease up a bit once my wife finishes up her degree in the spring.

About the Robot......
There is nothing more  powerful than the imagination of a young child, and as they grow so goes the aforementioned. Their thought process, though young, hasn't the boundaries of experience and to them anything is possible. I believe that this is what sets the truly innovative apart form the rest of the herd. Somehow they are able to detract their minds from these experiences allowing their minds to perceive things differently than the rest. And far be it from me or any other adult to squash said imaginations. So when my 7 year old son came home the other day and told me that his project for this Friday was for him to come up with an invention, and make a poster describing it, I say that will be easy. But of course nothing is how it seams, and  he not only wants to make the poster, but he also wants a functioning robot. So as his excitement exudes during his description of said robot to me, how could I possibly say no.
Now I don't know how things operate in your home but for whatever reason my family has become spoiled. Not so much in the monetary or  possession sense, my last name is not Rockefeller, but in the knowledge that they can count on me to come through for them in a pinch and even at times ,when I might fall short, they know that I have given 200% effort for their cause. So a functioning robot, form stuff we have just lying around the house, in 1/12 evenings........"Sure son, we can do that." Son's response "COOL!!!"
So during this whole tirade of excitement, my mind is racing through a plethora of ideas, often times being derailed by another thought or idea fired off by my son as to what he wants his robot to do. Fortunately for me his ideas aren't written in stone and he is quite content for some of his functional ideas to be put on hold as this is only a prototype project. I wonder if he really understood what that word  prototype meant when I threw it out at him. Just in case, I explained to him that time constraints would probably only allow for a moving robot with blinking lights. Blinking lights was something he had not thought of and all other ideas went by the wayside. Which was good for me as I really don't have time for functioning arms and hands. I was also able to convince him to use the Halloween costume I had made him a couple of years ago as the body for the robot, which was easily done.
video 
So the project got completed on time, and do to time constraints I was unable to have it do everything I wanted it to but the boy seems to be happy so all is good.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Riding Against The Clock....

Or at least that is how it felt. This time of year all rides seam to go that way. Shorter days mean less time for riding in the evening. 50 mile rides slowly dwindle to 20. Every day it seams to get darker sooner than the last,  and the shadows stretch farther. Quite the opposite of spring when it seams to take forever for the sun to decide to hang around and play for a while, though will admit the cooler temperatures and the smell in the air are rather attractive, in their own right. I guess it is just another part of the love affair we all have with cycling.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So maybe I was exageratting.......

A little in my last post about my cycling abilities............Or maybe not and this is just a ruse to get that link in.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shoulda.....woulda....coulda.....

The way I am feeling these days I should have raced this past weekend. Not that I feel I would have done any better that the next guy that has not raced all season. But I think I could have held my own only for a little while. If nothing else I would have been able to see some friends I have not seen in a long time. Oh well life is too short to ponder on what could have been. I did however put in some pretty hard miles in the saddle the past couple of weeks, and have had some good quality time with the family so it all is good.



Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thougth I would share this.........

I get email updates form Ransomed Heart Ministries every day and this one really spoke to me.....

True strength does not come out of bravado. Until we are broken, our life will be self-centered, self-reliant; our strength will be our own. So long as you think you are really something in and of yourself, what will you need God for? I don't trust a man who hasn't suffered; I don't let a man get close to me who hasn't faced his wound. Think of the posers you know-are they the kind of man you would call at 2:00 A.M., when life is collapsing around you? Not me. I don't want cliches; I want deep, soulful truth, and that only comes when a man has walked the road I've been talking about. As Frederick Buechner says,

To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do-to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst-is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed. (The Sacred Journey)

Only when we enter our wound will we discover our true glory. As Robert Bly says, "Where a man's wound is, that is where his genius will be." There are two reasons for this. First, the wound was given in the place of your true strength, as an effort to take you out. Until you go there you are still posing, offering something more shallow and insubstantial. And therefore, second, it is out of your brokenness that you discover what you have to offer the community. The false self is never wholly false. Those gifts we've been using are often quite true about us, but we've used them to hide behind. We thought that the power of our life was in the golden bat, but the power is in us. When we begin to offer not merely our gifts but our true selves, that is when we become powerful.

(Wild at Heart , 137-38)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In A Rut.......

Both on the cycling and blogging fronts. My actual riding is ok but my ambition is low. I've been riding well and on a regular basis but have been having trouble finding the motivation to do it and lately I have even been balking at doing longer rides. It is almost as if I am on autopilot right now when it comes to cycling. This however is normal for me this time of year so I will just plod along until everything starts to click again. I'm not sure if it is the coming change in the season, the long miles ridden to this point of the impending hunting season that brings this on.

Even though my motivation to ride is low, my eagerness to ride unridden roads has not. I love the unbeaten path, and over the years I have learned to enjoy broken pavement and the occasional gravel road. "No Winter Maintenance" was the battle cry of a couple good cycling friends of mine and we were always up for the challenge. One has since move away and the other spends all of his time MTB now as he has been soured by the road racing scene. I did one such ride last evening much to the shagrin of my fellow cyclists.

The Road Less Traveled........

For the second day in a row we have chosen to do rides that include the least familiar roads that we can find. Each of us on the rides the past 2 nights have actually been on roads that we have never been on before. And that is saying allot as we have been riding around here forever and have 10,000's of miles logged. Needless to say it makes riding a little more interesting and had made my slump more tolerable.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Riding Allot........

Racing? Well, not so much. I did do on MTB race this year which is more than I did the past 2 years so that is an improvement...I guess. My original plan was to do some racing this year, as I have been unable to due to the Affib, and was really looking forward to it. But the reality of it is I have been just enjoying being on the bike and spending time with the family. Not that racing does not entice me anymore, its just not what I am driven to do right now.
Riding this year has been a blast though. To be able to go out and ride hard and not have to worry about having any issues is grand, and a place I did not know I would ever get to.

My Legs Hurt.......
And I am not sure as to why. I am guessing that I am starting to get a little dehydrated, which I am notoriously famous for. Up until lately I have been doing a pretty good job of staying hydrated but seam to have fallen off of the hydration bandwagon. Not completely off, but like a cowboy being drug behind his horse just barely holding onto the reigns.
Though the signs point toward dehydration I have noticed that the ache in my legs goes away as my HR reaches 160 and up. The higher my HR the better my legs feel....weird. I will have to tale to my E.P. at my next visit and ask him what he thinks.

Beer and Bikes........
So Andy and I were out for a ride today and I was verifying my high heart rate no leg pain theory and this car goes by us with the driver yelling something at us. Andy and I look at teach other, shrug our shoulder and continue on. a few minutes later we hear a car speeding up behind us. In a nervous voice Andy says "Thatss not them again is it?". I no sooner say "I don't know." and thwack...I'm hit with a beer bottle/can, pretty full I would guess as it felt heavy as it hit me. I look at Andy and he is wiping beer from the side of his face and not realizing I had been hit. Unfortunately as a cyclist you have no recourse unless you can somehow get the license number or on the odd occasion the driver happens to stop somewhere up the road. Neither of which happened. Oh well, nobody got hurt too badly so I will just take Solis in that.....That and Carma.