March 6, 1997
I remember the day because it is the birthday of my college roommate and so the date imprinted on my mind.
I was just shy of my 36th birthday and I was in the hospital with chest pain. It felt like a fist was being pushed in to my ribs from the inside. It had started on a Sunday. I had gone to my father’s house to move some boxes of books from the house to the shed as he prepared to put the house on the market. I was young. I was big. I was strong. I carried two of the storage boxes at a time. 40-50 pounds? Something like that. Carried them across the back yard. One-hundred plus feet from the back door of the house to the shed. I made the trip 10 times or so.
Later that evening the discomfort started. Monday it was pain. I went to the Doctor and he sent me for an EKG and stress test. By the evening on Monday I was admitted. The EKG was “abnormal”. My Blood Pressure was high. The Doctor decided not to give me the stress test. In his words “this would be a bad thing to do”. Now I was frightened. When he told me not to worry, they would take very good care of me, I nearly started to cry.
That was March 3, 1997.
On Tuesday they transferred me to the hospital with the better cardiology unit. Morristown Memorial Hospital. They scheduled me for a cardiac catheterization and on Wednesday, March 5th I had the procedure done. I was pretty certain I would be having surgery by the end of the day.
I was wrong.
My arteries were fine. “Wide open” in the words of the cardiologist. No sign of any blockages.
The pain? The result of a spasming esophagus. The cause? High blood pressure.
On March 6, 1997 I started taking blood pressure medication.
Today I stopped.
The doctor said it was OK. My health and fitness are such that I no longer have high blood pressure. I no longer need the medication.
Six-thousand Two-hundred and Forty-one days after I started, I have stopped.
I wish I could tell you that the scare I had that week somehow transformed me then. It didn’t. I didn’t lose weight. I didn’t go on a fitness kick. I continued to gain weight. I continued my sedentary ways…
It would be 15 plus years before I started to really change. It would take until December 27, 2011 before I would start this journey. Thousands of pills later.
After I started the Journey and after I had lost 75 pounds or so, I asked my Doctor if there was any chance I would get off the blood pressure medications. He replied that I might and we would see. When I went to him at 204 pounds, when he checked my BP and found it to be 116 over 62, when he found my resting heart rate to be 62 beats per minute he took me off one of the pills.
At my last check up, with my weight still under control, with my BP at 118 over 65 he said I could stop the last pill.
Yesterday morning I took the last pill.
Doc told me to watch my BP carefully and if it goes back up I am to refill the prescription and go back on.
I will do exactly as he said.
I hope, of course, that I do not need to go back on.
Six-thousand Two-hundred and Forty-one days
I am happy about this. It means so much more than simply not having to take a pill.
Back on the bike
The weather is slowly improving. It was very ride-able weather this weekend. Yes, a bit on the chilly side at the early hours I ride but it was very enjoyable.
I rode 17.5 miles on Saturday morning. Twenty-two and half on Sunday on the shop ride. A 40-mile weekend.
The long-range forecast is very good. Next weekend should be in the 50’s at ride time. I can see a 75-mile weekend ahead. At least that is the thinking today.
There is so much joy in me when I ride. Even the flat tire on Sunday did not dampen the spirits. I am pretty good at changing flats so it was only a few minutes lost. NP rode up and quipped “road-side flat tire clinic”. I smiled. It was fun. It is a part of riding.
This weekend I had the pleasure of sharing a friends return to the road. This friend had suffered a bad crash last year. Many months of rehab and hard work. He picked up his new bike on Saturday and he rode with me on Sunday. In his eyes I saw what cycling can be about. It is Joy. It is exultation expressed on two wheels. I saw in his eyes what I feel every time I am on my bike.
My friend came back from terrible injuries inflicted by others.
I came back from obesity inflicted by myself.
Very different Journeys and one cannot be compared to the other.
I can tell you that the feeling is the same.
I saw it in his eyes. I saw it in his smile.
The joy of being back on the bike.
I am building to it. I still plan to ride the 100 mile distance, The Century.
I had hoped to raise $5000 but we are still at $1000. We are up to 11 team members riding all different distance. That has me excited. Even if we don’t hit the $5000 goal at least with the registration fee the 10 people who would not be doing the ride otherwise have added over $500 to the cause.
My son will never be able to ride a bike. This saddens me because I would so love to share the joy of riding with him. So I ride for him. I ride the Ride for Autism for Danny. I do all my rides with him in my heart.
He is my heart and my soul.
If you would like to help the Ride for Autism here is the website: http://www.ride4autism.org
If you donate I would ask if you would donate in the name of Danny’s Team.
If you are in the area maybe you could sign up and ride along with us.
If you only cheer us on in your heart I still thank you from the bottom of mine.