The past few months have been a bit trying on me. And making me feel like I was failing. Not school-wise.
Back in February, I crashed my MTB. Ended up in the ER, who let me know my hand/thumb/wrist was not broken. OK. Bruising goes away…
Then the realization that it wasn’t going away began to set in. I bought a road bike, to keep me cycling while my hand healed up. Road biking was less painful than MTB, which was a lot more jarring on my hand. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I found a great bike, my Blue Dragon, as I call it. I love it. I’ve been cycling more and more. Primarily along the American River Bike Trail, but in other places as well. And I bought a Garmin Trek 500 and a heart monitor strap. I gifted the Polar heart monitor I used to use to a friend (Thank you Michael Meza, for giving it to me. It lives on!). Coupled with Strava, I am learning a lot about my riding, endurance, and health.
After dealing with a lot of pain, and the resulting lack of sleep, I finally threw in the towel on my hand, so-to-speak, and sought out my friendly orthopedist. After additional x-rays, and an MRI, the diagnosis is that I have a(nother) ganglion cyst. But this is not my right hand/wrist, which has had several. It is my dominant hand. Grrrr. After consulting with a hand specialist, I made the decision to not have it removed. At least not now. If the pain becomes intolerable, or it begins to compromise my radial artery (It is VERY close to it), then I will have it removed. But I can work with it, and I don’t want this in my way of my internship, whenever it happens. I will revisit it in a few months.
My Blue Dragon needed some repairs, and I just got it back recently. Although I was cleared to ride both road and MTB again, the break seemed to help my hand/wrist to heal up a bit. So, this past Saturday I rode with a friend around Lake Natoma, after our EMS shift. Right from the go, I just wasn’t feeling it. My legs felt like they were HEAVY. I felt damned sluggish. I pushed through it. We stopped for lunch in Folsom, and then got back on the bikes. I still felt crappy. Couldn’t quite place it, but I suspected my asthma might be a factor. I had not been testing my peak flows lately, so I didn’t know if I was trending down again. As it turns out, I was. Oops.
And then it happened. Right around what several of us know as the big hill (Big for us, bump in the road for others), I had to stop. I could NOT get enough air. My lungs were tight and hurting. I was gulping air, wheezing, and my exhalations were really long. I walked up the hill, thinking there was a spot to sit down at the top. Well, sort of. If you like poison oak. My bike buddy Kyle had pushed up the hill, and didn’t realize I was walking. So I took a puff of the handy inhaler (Yes, I ride with it. Good reason!). It opened my lungs up enough to get back on the bike, but not at any real speed. When he realized I wasn’t behind him, Kyle doubled back and found me riding slowly, looking for a spot to stop. We finally found a shaded location where I felt safe to stop (So we could see riders coming and going, and not get wiped out.). Sucked on the inhaler a few more times, and laid my head on the handlebars for a few. Albuterol kicked in, and we got back on and rode back to my Jeep. Kyle stayed with me the whole way (Well, except that last climb…).
Once we got back to the Jeep, Kyle learned how to set up a nebulizer treatment. I keep some of my albuterol and saline solutions handy, just in case. Good knowledge for any EMT to have. Not something you are taught in EMT class, but it is a great skill to have when helping out a paramedic on an ambulance.
As asthma attacks go, this one wasn’t horrible. It was bad enough, but it came under control pretty quickly. I blame myself for it, not watching my peak flows like I need to. Asthmatics need to monitor peak flows like diabetics need to monitor their blood glucose levels. The smoke and allergens in the air just added to it.
And this made me feel more like a failure. It weighed heavy on my mind the rest of Saturday and Sunday, and into today.
Today, I stopped the pity party. I got back on my bike, and re-rode the same loop around the lake. I felt better, and my lungs behaved. I did use one puff of albuterol early on in the ride, as an insurance policy. And I rode that friggin’ hill. And the one at the end. Yeah, Kyle. I did it. You should have heard me whooping it up at the top of the hill, on the bridge. I will use this as my next step in attaining fitness.
Failure is NOT an option.