Thursday, June 30, 2011

In The Blink Of An Eye!

(Tarsal Tunnel release went great, we have the problem all fixed, and it is healing nicely!)

There a couple things in healthcare that patients say to you that can really weigh heavy on your heart, as they should. One of these statements is "please don't let me die." I've been told that many, many times and I do my best every moment I work to not let that happen to the best of my control (I know I don't have the ultimate control, you know what I mean?). Anyway, some people say that jokingly, some are dead serious (no pun intended), and they have good reason to be. It isn't something you lightly say to someone; so I was shocked when those words came out of my mouth to my ICU nurse Jill a couple weeks ago. I was dead serious, and I had good reason to be. I had a pulmonary embolus.

So I had a "near death experience." I kinda hate saying that, but I guess that's what it was. I more like to say "I had a serious insult to my body that forced me to fight like hell to stay alive"... but that takes a lot more words. As you all know I had surgery on 6/14 on my tarsal tunnel, and less than 48 hrs later I developed a lot of trouble breathing, and pain in my right lung.

Honestly, I went back and forth on even posting a blog about it; since it was an incredibly emotional and life changing event. But here's the deal: God kept me here for a reason and I hope maybe my story can maybe help others find some faith in their everyday life... so a blog it is. I was going to write it with a joking tone... but it wasn't funny. So I'll just tell some of it like it was, but a lot of it is a little too personal and emotion to share right now; but mostly please take this away from this: your life can change in the blink of an eye! Maybe for good or worse, or maybe just change, but don't take the little things that God has given us for granted. Bike racing is a fun "battle," but how you conduct yourself and treat others is the battle that matters most, because someday you may need that karma for a real battle; one for you life. I did.

I woke on the 16th barely able to catch my breath, breathing about 40 times a minute. Not good. I got a hold of Dr Porter (who did another awesome foot surgery btw), he had me call my internist Dr Coates (who is awesome in general btw), I planned to go get a chest x-ray, maybe a breathing treatment (I have asthma) and be back home in a couple hours. Well, I'm still not home (I am staying with my parents and their cats) and I ended up staying in the hospital 10 days. Five days in the ICU at kch, and 3 in the msicu at Lutheran where I used to work, and 5 on teley. Honestly, I knew I was having a pulmonary embolism as a complication from lower extremity surgery, I just didn't want to admit it to myself. Maybe because I knew that was serious, a lot of people don't live through it... I didn't plan for a PE! Long story short, I felt bad to worse, and my 2nd night at kch had me feeling like as I was drowning as my body was barely getting any oxygen to it. For you abg number junkies (like me) my paO2 was about 30. I remember thinking "I have a PE, I really could die from this." I didn't see that as a good option, I won't say I was scared, but I knew things were really bad and I had to step it up and try to keep it going to see the next day. Kinda makes a last interval set seems like a cake walk. We did more tests, things didn't look good and I was shipped to Lutheran by ambulance. Man those guys go fast! I hated to leave Dr Coates and all the staff at kch- they did so awesome, but I was happy to go to a unit where I would have some familiar faces to help me further.

The remaining days were a bit of a blur. I was medicated and constantly monitored, woke up for tests, blood draws, IV's, breathing treatments, and shots, and more shots. I was going to keep track of how many times I was poked by a needle, but I lost count at 31 on day 5. We discovered a urethral stricture that I've probably had for at least 6 months after they put a Foley catheter in me. I lost 10 pounds of water weight in a a matter of 5 days, and eventually has surgery to fix the problem. I had some great nurses and doctors take care of me and I would hope someday that society would realize that these people are far better role models than the athletes in our world. Just sayin. I also developed severe weakness, like not even being able to hold my head up. I eventually had a neurologist consult, Dr Steven's, who happens to be a L500 champion from back in the 70's, come and test me for myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune neuromuscular disorder). It looks very likely that all the physiological stress of things may have unmasked this. I find out more from some blood work Friday. If I do have it, don't count me out... I plan on fighting through it to be a competitor again soon.

(My parent's new kitties: still slacking on their physical therapy duties: but oh so good for the soul)

So for now, I'm happy to be out of the hospital. Everyday I have little goals, like standing the entire time to brush my teeth, or sitting outside for 10 minutes. Most simple things require a couple hour recharge nap, but that just has to be they way it is. I know someday soon, I'll be riding down a country road I've rode a thousand times, feeling the wind in my face, and the sun on my neck feeling the LIFE of the outside world that God has created for us to love and enjoy... things that are absent in the hospital bed. Yes, I had a "near death experience, " but it was so much more. I'm not angry, I don't feel sorry for myself, and I don't think it was a bad thing that happened to me. I felt the grace of the hand of God; and that makes me feel pretty special, not everyone experiences that.

(... and they make really good nap buddies)

I can't even being to thank everyone around me who has showed me support and love with thoughts and prayers. I mean WOW, how to even begin, I have so many people I know who are such caring and great people... I love you all. Even a little word means SO much. Thank you.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ~Timothy 4:7

I know you seen me quote this verse before; it's my personal favorite, by no mistake I believe.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Parkview Crit-High and Low

Parkview Cycling Festival was put on by Men of Steel Racing last weekend! I was also my last race before the dreaded foot surgery and after the race was over I knew for sure that it needed done, it has been a tough, painful experience. If you haven't done this race, keep an eye out for it next year. The venue that the FW Tincaps play at is available to us racers and the crit course is really fun with a S-curve and nice roads. What more could you ask for ? I mean NO port-o-potties, just a baseball field restroom... which make it extra sweet!

(Couldn't believe I recovered from my toasted legs from the day before, but I was so happy I did!)

For me, I was completely in an unknown fog of how the legs would respond with my increased training load leading up the race. I was especially worried since my ride the day before had me sitting on the side of the road begging for mercy, and had to have my friend Anne draft me back home at a 60 watt average. Yikes!

Somehow, I turned it around on race day. My legs didn't have snap, but I could motor along fairly normally. So the race got underway and we had a good sized field for the women's race!

The newly married Bri Kovac Clark and I put on a little attack a couple laps into the race and never looked back. We wanted to get a lap gap on the field and we agreed to fight it out after that. We ended up overtaking the field a couple times and with that Bri wanted to try to gap me a little with no luck. I was able to match her each time with ease and we remained in the front to the end.

(Bri and I found ourselves with an easy lead on the group and enjoyed our time out front)

It was a fun race and I was excited to come around the last corner in prep for a sprint finish... who doesn't love a sprint finish? However, I knew that unless Bri cracked in the last few meters that I probably wouldn't be able to gain the advantage with my legs pretty much being fried from all my training prep for surgery. This was a decision Coach Mark I made to train thru and have a better set-up for Cx. Sometimes that's just what has to happen in order to reach you bigger goals later. Anyway, I gave the sprint a little go, and the legs just didn't have it, so I pretty much resolved myself for 2nd and Bri got the V. I was happy with second since I was right there and especially since I knew my circumstances (High's). It gave me good hope that I will be able to come back from surgery and get back to form in no time with the help of Coach Mark. Congrats to Bri and also to 3rd place Sharla Berger for almost bridging back up to us!

(Sitting in while rounding the baseball field- the weather was so nice!)

Next, I jumped into the cat 3 men's race to get some extra efforts in. That ended up being a bad idea since some dude beside me got a little squirrelly and landed his pedal into the spokes of my Zipp wheel exploding the spokes right out the rim. Busted (Low's)! Thanks dude for getting in a hurry in a 60 minute crit right at the start. So.... my lesson learned: never ride expensive wheels in men's cat3 race. Regardless, I gave the race a go after a pit wheel from master mechanic Tim Wagnor from Summit City Bicycles ( got me all hooked up. Thanks Tim! I lasted about half the race before calling it a day.

(Check out all the Women of Steel tri gals coming out the do some crittin! Great job ladies!)

It was great to see all the Men and Women of Steel out at the hometown race. I can't thank Mylein and Jim Kruse enough along with John Martin and the rest of the team that volunteered to make this race safe, fun, and well run! Like I said, mark the calenders for next year and check out the In State RR that we will also run.

"Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.
If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant."
Galatians 1:10 (NLT)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Big Showing at BCSP

(Look at that women's field start! Who says women's xc is dead?)

So last weekend was the annual Brown County State Park DINO xc race. BC always has a great number turn out for the series and this year also had a impressive number of women who showed up with 10 in the expert field! It was a big showing for the race and it's always so nice to have so many women to race against outside of cross season.

I made the trip down to BC with my parents on the Friday before the race to have a mini vacation, celebrate their 25 wedding anniversary, and get some challenging training in before surgery on the 14th (yes, that's only a few days away!). It was so nice to get a change of roads for training and also have some elevation changes to get a workout with.

We rented a fabulous cabin and had a great time in BC and the best part may have been the primo bird watching that I took in with a family of pileated woodpeckers and a turkey mom with her new hatchlings running around all over the property! I was pretty stoked about all this... which made Sunday's XC race icing on the cake.

Jumping right to the punch line; I was blessed with a win the women's race on Sunday, taking my 2nd win in my races this year! I was really, really happy with this since I've been working my tail off to get back to racing form with so much time off the bike earlier this year, and it was great to be able to take the win at a venue that doesn't suit my strong points all that much. This trail is always so much fun, and I had a great time that day in the dirt and put in just enough effort to take home the win at the end of the day without having to kill myself out there.

(Coming through the feed zone on a little climb)

I had a few minor issues during the race with my shifting, but overall, it was a pretty uneventful race and I seemed to just settle into a nice steady pace to cruise in for the win. Being that my mtb rides have only come in races this year, I hardly feel like they are "races" and more like fun rewards for all the miles I put in on the road in between them... not a bad thing at all I guess.
I do have to say it was also very helpful to have the win to make sure my head stays in the right place while I'm soon to be recovering from surgery here next week. Having the feel of victory so fresh in the heart while in a cast with a painful ankle while crutching around is a great motivator to come back once again from surgery.

(Cruising into the finish area on Yang)

Congrats to my mtb Men of Steel teammates Josh Johnson for a 6th place finish overall in the cat 1 field and Dave McComb's 3rd in his age group in Cat 1.

After race day, I was "rewarded" with a nice 6 hour ride in and around BC and B'town. Seriously, I am a sucker for punishment and I was stoked that Coach Mark assigned me a nice long ride in such a beautiful area. I felt like I covered every inch of BC before we had to head back home the next day and get back to the real world... oh wait, it's ALL is the real world and I'm living the dream!

So at this point I've been hitting a very heavy training week with the hopes that the down time I have after surgery on Tuesday will also serve as a rebuilding and strengthening time from a hard training week. It will be a little tough on the pride to hit my team's race they host with tired legs, but I have the bigger picture in mind down the road. All I know is that once they start the anesthesia on Tuesday, it won't take much to put me under. I'll be more than ready for the sleep! I'll be a little toasted for the upcoming Parkview Classic ( )in the Fort this Sunday, but you better believe I'll be there and so should everyone else! This is a great event and has such a nice venue for a race around Ft Wayne's minor league baseball field, it's really is a ton of fun. Hope to see you all there!

“Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.”
Tom Landry

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tour De Frankenmuth Report

(Road Racing: Not my forte, but that's okay, still has 2 wheels, it's fun to go out and play with the roadies from time to time. This pic is from the I Love Goshen Crit taken from their facebook page. No photo credit, but they took some great photos)
So this last weekend I decided to do a little road racing. I had always seen the race in Frankenmuth on Truesport and I had heard it was a cool little tourist town in Michigan, so I thought it would be fun to head up there and see what it was all about. Granted, it was a road race, which I think would be classified as "last" on my cycling strong points, but I figured I could ride in a group as well as anyone and headed up north a bit. I packed up Mr T (the RV) and grabbed a couple Men of Steel teammates; Chad, Josh, and his cousin Eli, and got the trip underway on Friday afternoon. The race started a bit too early for my style on Saturday at 8am, so we needed to get there Friday before dark to check out the road course. After we found a nice park to park the RV in that didn't look like the cops would kick us out of, we headed out on the 15 mile loop that would host the race in the morning. I thought the course suited me well, with a few short kickers and flat farmland for the remaining miles. The only problem was a punchy little hill coming into the finish area, that would later prove to set me back a few spots in the end....

(Josh J. who ended up 23rd in the 1/2/3 Men's race, Chad T 20th in the Men's Cat 3, and Eli finished his first RR: Prepare the numbers and gear in the RV before the race)

Race morning had us wake up in the Rv to a rainy, chilly morning. No big deal for me, I actually prefer this stuff when I race other girls. Plus, that meant I got to wear my super sweet Mt Borah cycling cap to block the rain. I love that hat!
After picking up our numbers and getting a quick bite to eat and a cup of Blue Lion coffee, we were off to the start line. I started off the race with a bang. The race announcer, who seemed to have it out for me, decided my number was not in the best position and he was so kind to fix it for me and let me know "if you don't really know how to place your number, just look at how everyone else does it." I smiled and made nice conversation with him, but had a nice chuckle to myself: "Thanks there buddy, I know it's my first time."

I rolled out at the front of the pack and pretty much remained patient to whole race. We were going so slow at one point as Allie Dragoo and I refused to continue to pull the pack, that I felt like we were in a funeral procession. This is the stuff that makes a mtb and cx racer like me batty. However, I held in there and didn't go too insane until the final road heading into town. The cat 3 men came around us at that point and I decided to jump to the back of their group to stir the pot and get these gals a little alive. I slowly faded back to the women's field as I intended and things got lively after that (thankfully). I got taken off guard on that finishing hill and didn't expect the lead-out attack that early, so I had to jump back on the lead group. I was able to get back up for the most part and passed several girls, but could only manage 15th on the end. Mid-pack. Oh well, this is road racing. I was happy with how I did and sometimes it all comes down to being in the right place at the right time, and I was just a couple seconds off in a really strong field of riders. Great job to all the women in this race, it was a good pack, with good attitudes the entire race!

(Frankenmuth had a sweet, safe, finishing stretch downtown)

Frankenmuth did a nice job with this event and had a free lunch for us and some coupons for free coffee in the local bakery. Bonus! This is always so nice to have little things like this and all the support of their locals was appreciated. Thanks Frankenmuth! I do have to say that it was a good thing we raced that day, as the local bakery with all the German influence had some sweet goodies. It could be a dangerous place for a hungry cyclist!

(At the front of the pack heading into town, as you can see it was a misty, rainy morning)

So this upcoming weekend is the Brown County Dino XC. I'm heading that way soon and will also celebrate my parent's 25 wedding anniversary as they will be heading down with me. I'm not so sure how my legs will feel in the hills of BC, it's been a while since I have been down there. Regardless, I'll be happy to hit the dirt again as I have not mtb'ed since the last Dino race. The foot just can't handle the mtb really well and it leads to a couple days of suffering if I try it. Which leads to a whole different blog sometime soon, as I will only have a couple more race report here until I get all healed up from surgery... but that's in the future and I don't want to think about it now. I'm just planning on enjoying the next couple weeks of cycling and racing!

So until then:
Vielen Dank for reading!