Well, it's been awhile! And I just looked at this blog, noticing that my last post was way back in early December, 2010. But that is not the last time I rode my bike! In fact, I did some on-and-off riding for a couple of months after that month - up to mid February, 2011.
And that is when something odd started happening. I was attempting to get myself back into shape, but noticed that some fairly easy rides resulted in a lot of shortness of breath issues. Not good!
So, I decided to go visit my regular doctor - and during my routine checkup, he said he detected a very faint, yet distinctive, heart murmur.
Heart murmur - yikes! What does *that* mean? My doctor said it could mean nothing - or, it could be something - and the only way to find out for sure would be to see a cardiologist and have a stress echocardiogram done. And, he had a cardiologist to recommend, of course.
So I went to see the cardiologist, who then scheduled the stress echocardiogram - the date was March 18, 2011 - a date that will live in infamy - well, not really! It wasn't exactly the same as Pearl Harbor - but, it *was*, in essence, my own Pearl Harbor - that is when I found out I had a defective heart issue - actually, there were 2 defects! One was congenital - I had a bicuspid aortic valve - just like my younger had found out many years ago (when he was just 29) - they monitored his BAV (as we call it in the heart patient world) and 12 years later, at the age of 41, he had open heart surgery to replace his defective aortic valve.
Now it looked like it was my turn to monitor *my* BAV - and then replace it when it was starting to become too narrow (called "stenosis") - but I had an issue that my brother did NOT have - and that was an aortic aneurysm - my ascending aorta (just above my aortic valve) was TWICE as wide as normal - about 5.0 cm instead of 2.5 cm ... yikes! The problem is that your aorta can dissect (split) or worse yet, rupture. A rupture means you have 5 minutes to make your peace before you die. An aortic dissection will let you live for anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, depending on how much the aorta dissects. Basically, you are a "ticking time bomb" ... not fun to contemplate!
Bottom line - I needed to contemplate having open heart surgery much earlier than my brother did - I would need it within a matter of months - certainly within a year or so.
And that is exactly what I did a several months ago - September 10, 2012 - the date of my "rebirth", so-to-speak. The surgery went amazingly well - I had a great cardiac surgeon, Dr. Vincent Gaudiani - if you ever need any surgery related to your heart and live somewhere in the Bay Area, I can highly recommend him! Here is just one of several YouTube videos that Dr. Gaudiani has published - what a great guy!
And, just 8 weeks after my surgery - on November 3, 2012 - I went on my very first bike ride in a very, very long time - and there was no shortness of breath - and the ride felt great! Except, I didn't set any kind of records on that ride - pretty short - pretty flat - but, it was uneventful - beautiful!
I also discovered a very cool new website, Strava - here is where you can find me on Strava - what is cool is that after you upload one of your rides from your cyclometer (or, there is even a Strava phone app that can function as a cyclometer, but without the heart rate functionality), Strava will automatically break up your ride into different "segments" - sections of your ride that are ridden by lots of other people - and you can see where you "rank" amongst all those that have ridden that same segment - or, you can just use it to compare yourself to other times you've ridden that same segment - pretty cool!
Here is the link to my first ride after my heart surgery - as I said, nothing to write home about - just 8.2 miles and only 42 minutes on the bike - without any hills to speak of - but it was a ride, nonetheless!
And, here is the link to one of my tougher rides that I took, just 3 weeks later - I did 26+ miles, almost 1400 feet of climbing - and rode for 2 hours and 10 minutes - quite a bit more of a ride! And with that harder ride, I even averaged a faster speed (12.1 mph versus 11.6 mph for that first ride) - and there was a lot more climbing involved in that harder ride.
My main problem has been consistency - I was hoping to ride 2 times during the weekdays and 2 times on the weekends (4 rides / week) - but it has only averaged about 2 rides per week since I started riding again - so I need to increase my riding time! I only rode 8 times in November - and only 4 times for December (so far) - I really need to be doing about 16 rides each month - so I better pick it up in January of 2013!
So, this is why I've been away for quite awhile - but Musings of a Cyclotic will start seeing some regular activity, once again - stay tuned!
And keep riding... :)