Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tour de Cure --- New England Classic Announcement

      So here is the BIG announcement that I alluded to in a previous post. In July 2010, I will be riding in the New England Classic, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. It is is a 7 day, 550 mile bike adventure that travels through 4 of the New England states. It includes rides through historical sites, scenic seacoasts and bold mountain ranges.

       I chose to use this ride as my training goal for several reasons. The first is the setting of the ride. The ride takes place in New England... land of my birth... the place that I call home. New England always has and  always will have a special place in my heart. I have commented to Bev many times before that I love City Dock in Annapolis so much because it reminds me of a seaport town on Cape Cod or along the coast of Maine. The color of the leaves in the fall, the rolling hills and winding roads, the two days of summer... all wonderful reminders of New England for me. What better way to experience that then on a bicycle?

      Another reason for choosing the NEC is the novelty of the ride. In just about any state in the US you can find a 150 mile ride that spans a weekend, or a Century ride (100 miles) on a Saturday or Sunday. Rarely do find rides that go further or last longer than that. This is a unique ride, and being part of something different is an attraction for me.

      My most important reason for wanting to do this ride is to give back. As I mentioned before, this ride is sponsored by the American Diabetes Association and during the past year this disease has hit very close to home. A friend and former teacher of mine who had struggled with diabetes for several years died tragically due to complications related to this disease. Even closer to home, Bev has been diagnosed with Type II diabetes.

       Riding in this bike ride to raise money and awareness is the least that I can do for her, because Bev saved my life. Here is how. Most of 2008 was a waste for Bev and I. Neither of us had any energy to do anything. We would get up, go to work, and when we got home, we were asleep watching TV before dinner. We both suffered from headaches ALL the time. I remember one day before flying to Chicago I showed Bev how much fluid I had on my ankles. Pushing two fingers into them was like pushing on a piece of memory foam. The indentation stayed there for almost a minute. I was not sleeping very well either. So, I went to the doctor's about the fluid and he ordered an echo-cardiogram.  I had that done and it showed nothing out of the ordinary. The cardiologist said that my ticker was good, but I should have a sleep study done, because my problem may be sleep apnea. So, me being the good patient that I am did NOT follow up with the sleep study. I didn't want to go somewhere and be wired up and have people watch me sleep... besides, it is fluid on my ankles, I am probably eating too much salt and the Doctor said the ticker was fine. Fast forward a couple of months, Bev decided that she was sick and tired of being sick and tired. She said that the doctor's always say that she has chronic sinusitis, but they never do anything for it. Antibiotic for 10 days, you feel better, then 2 days later... BAM... headaches again. Bev made an appointment to see an ENT to get the sinus thing figured out. She had an appointment with Dr. Meek (I call him Dr. Meek-dreamy because he reminds me of Patrick Dempsey) who ordered a sleep study... that she can do AT HOME. I had gotten no better, still have fluid on my ankles... I can do a sleep study at home? Ok, I'll give it a try. I made an appointment with Dr. Meek-dreamy and just by looking at me sitting in the chair he told me that I had sleep apnea. He looked down my throat and said I definitely had sleep apnea. Ok, so i'll do my AT HOME sleep study, right? WRONG.  He had other ideas. He could tell that my apnea was severe and he wanted accurate numbers on me, so I was going to the sleep clinic for a FULLY WIRED sleep study. The results were that I stopped breathing an average of 124 times an hour and my oxygen levels dropped to 62% (that explains the headaches). After talking to Dr. Meeks staff and the people who provide the CPAP machines I found out that Dr. Meek was right, my apnea was severe. Fast forward again... I get my CPAP machine (and I use it EVERY NIGHT) my body begins doing what it is suppose to do, fluid on the ankles goes away, pounds of fluid go away, energy comes back, I can exercise again, more pounds go away and so on and so forth. Which brings me to my appointment with Dr. Meek-dreamy yesterday. I asked him what would have happened if I had NOT treated the apnea. He said that within 7 - 10 years I would have been dead. He used some medical terms that I didn't quite understand, but basically, my heart would have stopped in my sleep very similar to what happened to Reggie White (football player for the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles). A VERY sobering thought. If Bev had not made the appointment with Dr. Meek, there is no way of knowing if I would have ever gotten treatment for my apnea, and without treatment it would have been the death of me.

        Like I said before, riding in this ride is the least I can do for her and for everyone else who is affected by this disease. Please keep coming back to the blog to see how my training and fund raising for the ride is going.

Thanks for reading... come back soon.



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