Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The ride and recovery, and knees and things

So we survived the MS Bike Ride.  M did the whole 25 miles - she claims she actually did more like 27 miles due to getting lost with another MS Biker that had trouble following the course.  I only made it less than 3 miles.  I did at least 2.5, but less than 3.  So I guess that makes me a 10%-er.  Kind of fitting in a way.  I am a leftie - like supposedly 10 % of the population.  I am gay - another supposed 10% of the population.  Who knows there is probably lots of other things I am that matches only about 10% of the population. 
Saturday was extremely hot - it was almost 90 at 6:30 when we arrived to register.  Plus the heat index.  The route was all rolling hills, and not gentle ones.  I don't do well with hills.  Especially steep ones.  My knees can't handle it.  So after pedaling what I could and walking the bike up the worst of two really big hills, I was on the side of the road catching my breath.  Wondering the wisdom of even being out here in the heat, when a SAG vehicle came by to ask if I was ok.  I took him up on his offer of a ride back to the start/finish.  He said no shame in calling it quits.  Which I didn't feel any shame.  I got out and I struggled and I did what I could handle.  If I had kept going, I could have gotten myself in a serious mess.  M asked me if I was sure I didn't want to keep going, and I said no.  I did the right thing for me.  I did what I set out to accomplish. I raised over 1175, and I went out and tried.  Next year, we are opting for a "flatter" event.  Flat and gentle hills I can handle.
Other than trying to ride on a day that was way too hot - temp & humidity, I've been enjoying being back on my bike.  I am making an effort to get out and get more exercise and to eat healthier.  I know that if I was to lose some weight it would help with my knees.  Course that too is a catch 22.  If I felt better, I would feel more like exercising, if I lost some weight my knees would feel better, making it easier to exercise to lose the weight to feel better to exercise.  Oh well, it is easy to procrastinate, and find excuses.  It is time to just get busy and "do" and stop waiting for something to magically happen. 
I am trying to decide whether I want to plan to have a knee replacement next year or not.  I want to lose some weight and get physically stronger, and get my knee especially physically stronger before doing that.  Originally my osteo wanted me to wait until I was 52 at least.  Now he seems to think I'm a candidate now, whenever I want to do it he will refer me (he doesn't do that surgery, he does the non-invasive stuff, and surgical alternatives).  So seems to me he is saying it's getting time to do it.  My concern is that I want it to help give me more of my life back.  But what if it doesn't? Not being in pain all the time would be a great thing.  If it gave me the ability to exercise and not constantly evaluate things as to whether or not my knee will allow me to do this or that... those would all be pluses.  On the other hand, I've also read and heard it isn't for people who are looking for some miraculous cure, or that it won't eliminate all the problems, just will help with the pain, that with a replacement you aren't suppose to run or jump (ok, not that I do either now anyway), but I also can't kneel, crouch, etc.  One reason I was always told to wait, and hold off is that the life span on the knees (the plastics) is only 10-15 years, and since you can only replace the knee 2x per knee in a person's lifetime I didn't want to end up not being able to walk at the end of my days.  The other thing I keep thinking is that if I keep putting it off and wait for some magic time frame to arrive, what if I wait too long, and MS strikes and I can't walk anyway.  So, I've decided I just have to determine if it will help me today. if so, then I should explore doing it.  If it won't help me today, then I should wait.

Friday, July 23, 2010

ms bike ride - heat of the summer

OK, so M & I are going to do the MS Bike Ride to Paradise and Back either Saturday (tomorrow) or Sunday.  Who in all their wise wisdom decided that the end of July was a good time to host a MS event that requires people  to be out in the heat peddling a bicycle for miles.  I realize that most likely a majority of the people planning to ride in the event do not have MS, but really.  Am I the only one?  Am I the only one that thinks this is nuts? 
I'm lucky that the heat does not effect me that much.  Apparently that was one of the main symptoms that indicates if you have MS or not that I flunked.  We have a hot tub, and most of the time I have no problem getting in it and enjoying letting the heat of the water soak my arthritic joints.  I would be very disappointed and even pissed if we spent all the time money and hard work getting the landscaping done for the hot tub that now sits beside our lower deck.  There are times that the heat gets to me - but I think that is as much related that I am now "at that age" as my primary care tells me.  I'm 47 1/2 and yes, I have hot flashes, and hormonal mood swings and all the fun that goes with it.  My partner M is 45 and is also enjoying the joys of pre-menapause. Complete with erradic periods.  I get to skip that part since I had a hysterectomy 3 yrs ago.  I must say that is one thing I definitely don't miss.  And women who say they no longer feel like a woman, well psshaw!
In spite of being lucky that I can handle the heat (somewhat), that doesn't mean I am looking forward to going out with the heat index sitting at 106 and riding a bike 25 miles.  I drink lots of water/gaterade when it isn't that hot.  I'm not sure we can carry enough for this ride.  I am told there are SAG vehicles on the route and that unlike many biking events they actually encourage riders to catch a ride to the nearest rest stop if they are "tired" or need help.  Most biking events say that SAG vehicles are there for emergency medical attention and help only.  They will pass info along to the HQ but will not be used as any kind of taxi service (even back to rest stops) for riders who are merely tired.  So perhaps that is a concession to this being a MS sponsored ride.
M was asking last night why the event was scheduled for July, and commented that she thought this would be the last year she participated.  She doesn't have MS and is in good health.  She is in much better shape than me and the 25 miles will be a peice of cake for her.  She can ride circles around me, but does think I am improving and is very supportive of my efforts.  She has also committed to staying near me for this ride to make sure I'll make it ok, and to carry extra water for me.  Now she is an angel.  So, she was asking why on earth would they plan this for July? Only reason I can think is that they are using dorms at Millersville to house those that are travelling from someplace else and want a place to stay.  I would imagine this is probably one of the only time frames the dorms would be available.
So, why are we still planning to ride? because we committed to doing it.  I'm sure we will be fine, and we will just need lots of water.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

whitewater rafting, biking on vacation, and getting ready for the msbike ride

ok... it has been over a month since I posted.  Life is flying by.  Next week is the MS Bike Ride, we are planning to ride on Saturday.  M has said she has decided to stick with me and make sure I finish, that I am ok, and that I have plenty of water/gaterade.  She is worried about the heat.  It is going to be hot.  It has been hot.  Why do they plan a MS bike ride for the hottest part of the summer? I suppose most of the participant riders don't actually have MS? who knows. 
We just got back from our vacation at Ohiopyle.  great place.  known for whitewater rafting and bicycle riding.  M & W and I rented a log cabin at a local camp ground.  Not exactly camping - but that was ok (great actually) we were there 5 days.  The cabin slept like 6 or 8, and had 2 bedrooms, one for me & M, and one for W.  Double-beds in each.  Also bunk beds but we didn't have anyone else along for this trip.  The cabin had AC which was great.  We ate all our meals at the cabin.  it had a kitchen, plus we brought a grill.  We got there on Monday 7/5.  Tuesday we went for a bike ride, and mistaking the instructions from the girl from checking in at the campground we turned right on the trail instead of left and travelled about 11miles downhill (2% grade) toward Connesville when we thought we were going uphill toward Confluence.  Easy ride, until we turned around.  we stopped for lunch figured out what went wrong and started making our way back.  That 2% grade was constant, and while it really wasn't enough to notice when we headed downhill, it made a difference going uphill.  I was struggling, so I let M & W head on and I was going to take my time and snap some pictures.  I was about 4.5 mi away from the car on the way back and had stopped to shoot some photo's of some rafters going down the rapids, when I heard a pfft and hssssssssssssssssssssssssssss, yep, I looked over at my bike, and the back tire was flatter than a pancake.  it was now riding on the rim.  no way I could ride it that way.  I started walking it back, and realized after about 1/2 mi that I was now only travelling about 2 mph.  Which meant with 4 mi left it would take me 2 hrs to get back to car.  I called M to warn her I was walking.  Sweet woman that she is, she pedalled back with a pump to try to pump my tire back up, but we found there was hole in tube and no stem showing.  So she walked my bike and let me pedal out on hers.  Saying she could walk it out faster than I could limp.  Very true.
I'm doing pretty good on the bike now.  It feels good to be back to riding.  I really need to focus on excersising and getting my strength back.  After doing the almost 22 miles last week on the vacation, I feel confident I will make the 25 miles next weekend for the MS Ride, just need to take plenty of water/gaterade.  My walking isn't so good.  Sometimes better than others.  My left leg is definitely weaker than the right.  Stairs are a problem.  For a change it is now harder going down stairs than climbing up.  Think that is the ankle.  I'm at the point that I am thinking seriously about planning to have a knee replacement next year.  I think it will help with quality of life.  Also, I'm thinking I want to have it done now while I can enjoy it, and be active before I might get hit with more mobility issues from the MS and maybe won't be able to do that much anyway. 
The vacation was great. On thursday we did a pedal and paddle, we rode bikes 9 miles up river, then rafted the 9 miles back down over some small rapids.  it was lots of work but also fun.  The water was low this time of year so we struggled a few times getting stuck on some rocks.  But we made it.  I felt sorry for M, she was stuck with most of the work travelling along with her 70 yr old dad, and gimp of a gf.  but we all did our best and we made it.
We had some sadness in the family right before we left for our trip.  M's dog was diagnosed with Lympoma a week prior, and we were hoping he would hang in there and make it the 4-8 months the vet predicted.  Hunter went downhill fast though.  We realized he wouldn't make it til we got back from our vacation.  M made the decision to put him down before we left.  We will all miss him.  The house is much quieter without him.  Even the cats all know something isn't right and I think they wonder where the big guy is.
M has been really taking it hard.  Hunter was her baby.  He was 11 and she raised him from a pup.  It is never easy losing someone close to you.  Even the animals who become such a part of our lives leave a big hole when they go.  I miss him too.  I also try to be understanding.  Sometimes that is easier said than done.  If you take two pre-menapausal (or menapausal - the pre may be debatable), emotional situations, it sometimes isn't pretty.  Most of the time I have a lot of patience.  Most of the time I can be very understanding.  but there are times when you can step on my last nerve and I can't handle any more.  Let's just say some days have been rough.  M is the type though to sleep and wake up and it is a new day and yesterday is forgotten.  I have trouble with that.  Because I know a lot of it is because of Hunter I try to let it go.  Also because of the various health conditions I have that are all exerbated by stress I try to let it go.
Focus on the good and let the bad slip away.
RIP Hunter Wood 1999-2010 - you will be missed.