Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day 239

Real weird day.

Started with a slight headache (drank four beers in four hours watching the Huskies underperform), and then the vision issue. I am using Emergen C to hydrate and drank several glasses of water. Then the weirdness turned Pro.

Sometimes I have difficulty with comprehension. I can HEAR but nor Understand. Simple dialogue is incredibly hard. It's like being in a foreign country for the first time.

Kim asked me what I wanted for my birthday dinner, suggesting pasta something or other. I had no idea what that was. I couldn't imagine the taste, smell, ingredients or the immediate satisfaction I always get from Italian food. I just stared at her trying to decide how to answer.

Walking became an issue with all my consciousness going into every step. My chest was pressurized and neck throbbing. Normally panic would follow but I have been here before and now simply wait for it to pass. I took a nap. Did some more prep for the Wisconsin trip and headed to the club to take a sauna. Drank another few glasses with E-C and dropped a Oxycodone-Acetaminophen.

Time, plus all of the above, seems to have helped as I now feel better than I have all day. Still weird, but manageable.

I did get a call from one of my ex GFs, so that was cool.

Maybe I felt so bad today because the Huskies played so poorly last night. I don't know. I am calling both idopathetic. I don't know why the UW stunk up Honolulu nor do I know why my weirdness was a real lulu.

Really weird day.

Like a Run Lola Run, Cinema Paradiso double feature.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day 238, UW 54-UH 10

I am the first to admit.

I leave the scene of the crime FAST when the banter turns bad.

You wanna bitch and moan? You wanna whine? You wanna see that beautiful cut crystal goblet as half empty? You wanna let your bias and bigotry show?


You can do all that without me.

But, you say, what about yesterday?

You were on a roll about how bad and frustrating things are and how miserable life is dealing with the idiopathic reality of atrial fibrillation. Remember THAT?

Yes, very clearly, thank you.

I am trying to keep a journal of this, and if I sometimes slip into the morose or macabre, it is because I feel horrible and defeated, and not because I have lost all hope, patience and sense of direction.

I don't have a lot of experience in this genera. For fifty years, whenever I have brought pencil to paper it has been for educational purposes, to enrich and entertain myself along this rugged, rocky road. If, occasionally (and we are on post number 2,008 today), I add a touch of inspiration or motivation to YOU, we all win.

So this is a challenge. One I begrudgingly accept. I will do my best. Here we go.

Today was OK. I woke early, as is my way, immediately checking vitals. Pulse was weak, still in AF. But I felt good, ready to go and do. My power and stamina remain so low that 90 minutes of spin class was a real effort. My heart rate was bouncing from 126 -188 like a ten year old on a new trampoline. But we made it.

Now, four hours later I am still feeling OK. Some ringing in ears and hypotension but I can deal with that. Medication (10mg warfarin) went down the hatch before class. I could take a nap, but there is work to be done. After all my beloved Huskies kick it off tonight against Hawaii.

So there is reason to sustain. It's all good. This rainy Saturday has hit the ground running and is now keeping a steady pace in preparation for the final jolt of peak power tonight.

As we have done in the past. Here are a few of my predictions:

UW 54 UH 10.
Jeff Lindquist will go 18-25, with a pair of TDs and 0 ints.
Dwane Washington (soon to be called DDub) will rush for 137 yards and three scores in the first half.
Shaq will take one to the house.
Either John Ross or Budda Baker will shake down some thunder on a punt return.
Hau'oli Kikaha will finish what Steve Emptman started in 1990.
Jaydon Mickens will drop 100,000 jaws in the viewing audience.
CBS will capture Coach Pete smiling.
Cooper will be Super Duper.
And not to be outdone, Timu will quietly lead the team in tackles, three for loss.

I will be the first to admit.

This team has a chance to be special.

It is Game Day.


Pic: Billy was talking about his riding lawn mower, I about the Rose Bowl. Bring it Back!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Day 237 Sucked

If I was manic/depressive or suffered from bi-polar syndrome, it would be acceptable. At least then, I, we, us, would have a clue as to what the heck is going on.

This we know: I have chronic atrial fibrillation, coupled with brady-cardia and some type of shortened artery that feeds blood into the top chambers.

What we don't know is what triggers it or what causes it to recede. I have had a cardio-ablation and four independent cardio-aversions. After each I return to arrhythmia within three days of the procedure.

This is like being on vacation from a job you detest (but pays the bills) and coming back to work early only to face the dickhead boss, an office full of twits and a pile of work on your desk at which your lazy secretary giggles.

So we know WHAT it is, we just don't know WHAT to do to fix it.

It also has mysterious additional symptoms. I have told you about the vision thing. Today it was like I had sixteen bleeding ulcers and the only thing to eat were enchiladas. Chest always has pressure, palpitations nearly rock me off the bed with neuro-pings in neck, jaw and temple that I swear are one move shy of check-mate.

I can spin for an hour but climbing the stairs to my room gasses me like a full-on 100 meters. I alternate between thoughts of poor Robin Williams and the complete ecstatic freedom of giving up.

Everything has gone to seed. TU. The remnants of a once beautiful stand of trees, dozed for commercial 'growth'.

All I have left is what I do. The future is now.

All meaning, that  if the rest of my life is to be spent dealing with the frustrating uncertainties of this predicament they call idiopathic (we don't know) I will have to make some hard decisions.


Because this SUCKS.

We may not make it to 365.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 236

First the A-Fib update. Today was harsh. A return of the visual issue. It's like there is a hole in the center of my vision. I can focus fine solo in either eye, but when I put them together (both eyes wide open) there is a glaring and unsettling area missing. Making it impossible to read, edit video or maintain any sort of equilibrium. It also gives me a headache and upsets my stomach.

I can remember something like this as a kid. Playing catch with Dad and suddenly this flashing non-image, appearing somewhat like Mr Scott beaming Kirk and Spock back to the Enterprise, interferes with my ability to do, well, anything. I also remember getting hit on the head playing football and having the same vision issue once. Today, it lasted almost all morning, combined with some fairly serious stomach issues. I am feeling about 50% better and about to head out to try a 2x20 set at the PB, so we'll see what the response is to exercise.

Most of the posts I have found on-line suggest that this helps. Some even go so far as to say that hard efforts actually take them BACK to sinus rhythm from bouts of AF.

And while that hasn't been my luck as yet, I remain committed to the effort.

Lot's of other stuff going on, much of which will be updated over the next few days. Tonight the Pac-12 kicks off, Saturday the Huskies will kick the stuffing out of the Rainbow Warriors and a week from today we head out for Madison, WI and Ironman Moo.

So keep your eyes open and stick around. Could get interesting.

You know that sign says No Sitting on Sign. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 235

I am calling it the Elephant in the Room syndrome.

You get to that critical point in a workout or race where the internal Q&A is the same exchange that took place the last time you were at that critical juncture. The point of no return. You have two options:

1) Slow down, stop, quit, toss the towel and start inventing new excuses, or,

2) Stay outside your comfort zone (now known as the Elephant Zone) a little longer, or as long as it takes to achieve your objective.

Have you had that conversation?

Have you addressed it? Have your embraced the presence of the pachyderm?

Or is it sitting there laughing at you?

All it takes is a little. A little mo. Ten seconds longer. And with this consistent practice, we all gradually, over time, adapt to the stress requirements and get stronger, faster, healthier and, assuming we master the adjacent mental aspect associated with this chore, more powerful, confident and energized. We take the Buick to the Citgo and tank up.

You don't have to travel to New Delhi or Madagascar for this. We practice it on a daily basis. First step in its mastery is understanding the protocol. Next time you feel like quitting, have a conversation with the big fella.

He is here to help.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day 234, A powerful first

So this was a first.

Deep in AF after our 2x20 session last night (a solid 40 minutes at 85% of FTP), I was again pondering the value/sanity/danger/hope of this practice as I finished another chapter in the Aubrey/Maturin saga and closed my eyes to sleep.

It has become ritual that the first five minutes are an assessment of the current state of my condition. I lay, listen and try like heck to breathe deep and relax. My heart sometimes makes another attempt at a break-out. Truly this is how it feels, the palpitations and pressure almost rock me right off the bed. On other days it is subtle, my heart rate is so slow and shallow that I can't take a reading. It's like I have no pulse.

Last night was calm. I smiled about the clean sheets and sighed a deep exhale of relief.

And when I awoke several hours later in the pre-dawn stillness, five or so minutes before the first 747 lowered landing gears, something was different.

I had a pulse, strong and regular.

I had somehow slipped back into sinus rhythm. Normal and regular.

WOW. It CAN be done!

As often as I use the roller-coaster metaphor to describe this incredibly frustrating circumstance, I am coming more and more to see if more like snaky S-turns, similar to what we learned in moto school, start outside, move inside and back outside. Straighten the curves out as best you can. Keep it steady. Have no fear and look in the direction you want to go.

The beats remain regular, the morning's 60 minute spin challenging. One more 2x20 tonight. I might be responding to the frequency. I think my heart likes the work. As of this moment: So far - So good. Whatever happened last night was a first. A positive and powerful first.

I hope it's not the last.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 233

Good day despite.

Despite slipping back into A-Fib.

When they say chronic, they mean me.

When they say idiopathic, they mean they don't know.

Translation is that they don't know what causes it, nor how to treat it.

I am out here on my own.

I will do what I do and report back. I will take my 10 mg of warfarin daily as an anti coagulant.

I will spin at high intensity for an hour in the morning as the sun comes up and again in the evening as it sets.

In between I will do my best to earn an honest buck, knowing that I am so nestled under the 8 ball that it looks like a zero.

I will not give up or give in.

There was a lot of weirdness today. Might have something to do with inadequate blood flow to brain. Working out seems to help. Up the heart rate, get it flown.

So, yeah, it was a good day.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 232, The HR

Great day in the Pacific Northwest. We drove to the base of the mountain, off-loaded our bikes, rode to the top, took five and then rode back down.

A delight we have done many times. Yet it never seems to get old. I had some "issues" from mile 14 on, zapping the power I started with, HR reaching 179, but very manageable and the descent was as fun as always.

I especially enjoyed the feeling of "sidewall traction" leaning into the turns without braking. Chris passed me at one point screaming, "we hit 40" into the wind.

I sang Phish tunes in three tunnel harmony.

We all agreed that the day was special.

As should be.

Pix: Chris, Darren, Sarah and I. Try to guess who did NOT ride.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Day 231, Name 'em!

OK, let's do that.

It is an option, a directive, a course of action, a game plan, and most importantly a way to push the project in the right direction.

Otherwise it will sit and rot. Die a slow and painful death from lack of attention. Be forgot. Put on the back burner until we run out of propane and dry firewood.

So do it.

Do something.

On any front, on any level, with any chore.

Add something. Take something away. Multiply. Divide.

Do more. Gripe less. Double mileage. Divide the joy.

When I get bogged down by apathy, hamstrung by volume, disabled by scope or weary of the mundane. I do one thing…..

Something different.

It always helps.

So let's do that.


Today's contest (because my only form of advertising is the signature line on my G-Mail addy) is:

Name me at least five of the people in the pic.

There will be a winner.

Day 230

Back at UW Med yesterday for another cardio-aversion. Thought I would be able to post afterwards.

Nice try.

Got home at 1900 and was out by 1915.

Felt much better this morning after 12 hours of rest. Led our 90 minute spin session, and now I am starting to get some chest pings.

But mostly, I think from the scorch marks left by the 200 joules on my chest.

I hope this one works. Amen.

This post is to get back yesterday's omission. There will come another later.

Because I know you are on the edge of your seat.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day 229, Sorry about that

OK where did we leave off?

Right, I was cursing up a storm, vulgarizing my predicament. Being a smart-ass shock-jock (see photo)

As Maxwell Smart might say, 'Sorry about that.'

In my self defense, allow me to plead for some forgiveness and understanding.

It HAS been a frustrating 18 months. I have been unable to do many of the things that mirthfully contribute to my perception of quality of life. I have lost girlfriends, jobs, health, fitness, power, and my house.

All because of a genetic (partially) heart condition called Atrial Fibrillation, A-Fib for short. In the eighteen months since it was diagnosed we have tried everything known to medicine to cure. The latest was a procedure known as a catheter ablation (with a TEE). This consisted of ramming two catheters up my groin and into my heart along with another down my throat as a scoping monitor. They locate, map and then cauterize the nodes causing irregular heartbeats and the devastating resulting symptoms. Take my word it was NOT fun.

The procedure was two weeks ago. Week one I was in serious rehab, couldn't even lift a gallon of milk. But then, starting in week two I returned to spinning, indoor cycling and even pounded out a couple of 5Ks. I was feeling GREAT. I was in sinus rhythm and back at it.

And then, like a snap of lightning, I went back into A-Fib. This was confirmed by EKG yesterday. I was, excuse please, heart broken.

I came home, had time to consider, then did a 2x20 set at about 75% power. This was after our regular morning set of an hour of high intensity intervals at the club.

When I finally got home after that long day, I laid down and cried.

God dam it, I sobbed.

That lasted about three minutes.

Until I saw this new circumstance as just another pothole in the path.

I can give up. Cry like a baby. Feel sorry for myself. Drink into oblivion. Score some legal herb and zone out.

Or get back at it and experience the process. Because this, dear friends, is that.

Part of the process.

Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Or if they did I had the headphones on.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Day 228

So I am back in A-Fib.

Fuck you.

They want to do another aversion. I hate those. They stop your heart. I have issues with that.

Who am I to trust?

Fuck me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Day 227. A long way from over

By almost all accounts, I am feeling better with each passing day. There remains some odd chest pains, an abnormal heart rate or two, some interesting readings from various devices and the sporadic tinge of neural imbalance, but for the most part these are all manageable and tolerable. The big issue is that the ablation procedure seems to have been a success AND that I am back to 'normal' training.

Seriously, that is huge news. I am elated. I would be jumping up and down if my lags hadn't atrophied so dramatically over the last eighteen months since the ER scramble hot-wired the quest for diagnosis.

It has been a frustratingly dark and trying time. The question is now, was that it, did the node cauterization correct the issue (A-fib)? And if so, how long will it last?

Considering the depth of carnage suffered during this process, I should be happy to be as healthy as I am, after all I am alive, right? I can work. But you know that isn't where my, ahem, heart, is. That just isn't good enough, to simply get by.

It is like taking up space. I am not a part of the solution.

There has to be meaning. There must be a goal. I thrive on challenge and growth. Duh.

Making this a magical opportunity to deal with circumstance and get back in the game.

Because this one is a LONG way from over.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Day 227, Push the Button

Pull the trigger or push the button?

Act or snooze?

Be or not be?

Art or labor?

The decisions have become more important as they eat away at what I can now accurately label as my 'life savings'. There ain't much left. That sad financial fact, however, will not affect my decision making process, as it continues to be directed towards adventure, fun and growth. It is also safe to say that under this umbrella stands the damp flesh of challenge and shivering skin of the dramatic. And there is debate. How could it not?

How could it be of value, have meaning and be anything other than the most important thing of all time? That includes dinosaurs, aliens, the field plow, the printing press, the Model-A and MS DOS.

Everything is on the line. I HAVE to find a way to make it work.

Knowing this, and coupled with the fact that the proper attitude knows no such endeavor as failure, I struggle to manufacture the proper metrics of consent among the more staid and conservative in the house.

Yes, a few still live here. They are old, frail and weak. But they hoard old money with notes of entitlement. The cling to outdated values like the idiots still fighting the war on drugs. Or the war on anything for that matter!

They, the responsible and mature, see all this as a catastrophic avalanche to safety and security, burying all hope of a peaceful retirement under the weight of inflation and diminishing returns on questionable investments.

Thank goodness the vast independent majority thinks this but a dream. That experience, happiness and the search for meaning is the goal, not a robust 401K and a cabin on the lake.

If this was a unanimous dilemma we wouldn't be in this mess today.

Or in this magical and dynamic position to re-create something of great value.

So I think I'll push the button.

And see what happens.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Day 226. Go Huskies!

A few reasons why 2014 will be the Year of the Dawg. Kickoff in thirteen days versus Hawaii.

Work Ethic
New Staff
Old Values
Tenacious D
High Octane O
Rabid Fan Base (see photo)
Opportunistic schedule
Coach Pete
Bob Rondeau
The Tyee
Mighty are the Men.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Day 225

What a strange day. I woke early, in high anticipation of another strong workout, only to be troubled by neck and shoulder pain. What now, I wondered thinking the irritation minor. But by the time I had a peanut-butter and honey slice of rye toast and a cup of watered-down three day old coffee, I was seeing that 'flashy thing' again in the center of my vision.

It is like having someone turn on the lights from a completely dark room. The strobe sparkles and twirls between my eyes causing dizziness and affecting equilibrium. It is like walking in braille.

I got to the club early, trying everything possible to prepare for our weekly 90 minute set, cold water in face, hot towel on forehead, some electrolytes and lots of water, all to no avail. Folks started showing up offering the usual greetings and encouragement. I love this group.

Nothing helped. I tried. We started stretching in saddle and I knew it was no use. My vision was now one dimensional, and I knew the symptoms, soon I would be horizontal.

So I eased down and led the drills walking, and after five minutes I felt a touch better and decided to give it another go. So back to saddle we go. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to The Who, because had it not had been for Baba O'Riley, there is a good chance I would have wimped out after the first tune.

But it got better, and as the 90 minutes passed, I could feel a momentous increase in my ability to control my output. I was pegging 130 on the stands and, as designed, getting below 105 for the seated recoveries.

A rocking set helped. Flow established, we made it through.

It is now seven hours after. I have seen some HR spikes throughout the day, and my metabolic focus is still less than normal, but, we made it.

Recovery in process.

Another day.

One with meaning.

We talked in class about motivation and how to keep it. I told my pithy story once more about having a date circled in red on my calendar as a constant reminder of the value of every day. Every training day.

There is a long way to go. Today was but a single part of the whole.

But a big contributor.

Strange days can sometimes be like that.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 224

Almost one month. Since the last time I ran. It is almost like starting over after that long a break. I felt lost out there. My hips weren't rotating smoothly, arms were hanging like noodles and every footstrike was weak and fragile. Power glaringly absent. It was eerily similar to the last Old Timers Baseball Game in which I 'participated.' THAT wasn't really purdy either (photo at left).

Oddly enough, my heart rate stayed low the entire 33 minutes, only spiking when the ramp up from the marina neared 30%.

It was a necessary re-set. I absolutely MUST reclaim my stride. Without the run component, even a sprit-tri will be painfully (and embarrassingly) slow.

So this represents another point on the time line. A small red dot perhaps. Call it the day we got back to the pavement.

My lower back is already sore, patellas in agony.

But I hold a happy heart. And that is the part that needs the most work.

I was thinking about this as the puny miles passed, how fast does this particular muscle take to bulk up? Is it like hamstrings, quads or glutes? Or more like overall fitness and endurance adaptations over time?

Once again, tonight will be an indicator of response to stress. If I sleep well, wake with an 'appropriate' resting HR and am able to execute a 'safe' 90 minute spin in the morning, we might be on to something.

Something big.

Which is HUGE considering the smallness of today's 5K.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day 223, Kona & Me

Always helps to have a very clear picture of your goals. Not blurry, obscure, vague, hazy or in doubt. You know, a kinda-sorta-maybe goal. The old, I will win this race is no one faster than me shows up.

That is not a goal - that is a circumstance. You just lucked out. It is the kind of goal that Tony Soprano could manipulate by making sure about it. WHY nobody else showed up is sinister and criminal. Has nothing to do with goal attainment.

So let us know our goals. Let us reaffirm our targets. Let us add a dose of reality.

Here is what it is going to take:

1) Hard work.
2) Persistence.
3) Desire.

Yesterday was my first session, actually two, since the big ablation procedure. I gave rehab one week and now I need to see where we stand in order to devise an effective game plan moving forward (a term that makes me cringe most of the time.)

Today was a little rough. I can feel my cardiovascular system laboring to preform under stress. I will attempt a 2x20 set tonight, after 24 hours of recovery at a very low percentage of ftp. I will again monitor HR throughout, keeping it well under control. I will be patient and disciplined, fighting the urge to let 'er rip. That would be ego, not adaptation.

And we will repeat this process until progress and improvement are the result.

Because my goals are clear.

To return to racing Ironman,

To win my age group in Kona.

I have three years to train.

Clear enough?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 222

I am trying to create a journal of the change. In order to draw upon the data as experience down the line. I feel this is important and nobody is going to do it but me. It is my case study. This is n=1. And I tend to forget.

So this has morphed into that for the time being. It is the most important thing going, so might as well.

Today was another rite of passage. I felt it as a possibility yesterday but kept a tight lid on it as long as possible. One part from fear one part from counsel. "You won't fell like doing much for a week or so," I was warned by the medical staff, and they were right. But as the degree of symptomatic severity reduced over the last couple of days, the idea of returning to work (training) slowly found its way through the mind-maze and came to the table asking full-throated if it was time.

I don't know. I didn't know yesterday and I was still prepared to bail five minutes from spin time this morning.

But I hopped in the saddle and peddled slowly and with minimal amounts of power and cadence. Watching my heart rate monitor like a working man in overtime, we (the team and I) made it through a set of five minute hill repeats. Had it of been a real ride I would have finished as the sweep. And that was fine.

After a week in recovery, I was back. Made it through and am here to tell about it.

My HR is taking an eternity to come down. But that is part of the process as well.

All recorded for the record.


Day 222.

Pic is of my sano little set up at the Lake Stevens 70.3 expo last year. They go again Sunday.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Day 221

This amazing ride.

Flying high in April, shot down in May.

Yesterday I was a wreck, unable to connect with the present let alone deal with planning a future. There were moments of anguish in which I wondered how I would respond if this was to be 'it'. 'This' forever.

For an endurance athlete, heart is everything. And here I was, operating with damaged goods. The hardest thing I undertook yesterday was another nap. I told the nurse that was exactly the opposite of what a guy should be doing when thousands of dollars in debt on a sunny day. I don't think she got it.

But last night was calm. I slept for almost ten hours and awoke this morning with a feeling of vigor unlike any of the past week, today being the one week anniversary of the procedure. Could this be the proverbial corner? Did I just take a hard right into the light? Can get back after it?

Or should I wait? Is it patience I need more than a 30 minute spin? Am I ready? Is this the ONE TIME that saying no is the correct response?

Should I take another day to recover instead of signing up for an Ironman?

I'll give it today. My resting HR was 55 this morning. It is now 57. Before all the fun began it was 42. I am not sure what that means. But I'll tell you what……

If I can get back to work, I don't care.

I wish me luck.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Day 220, Peace Robin

Two new ones:

Suddenly I felt like I didn't know who I was. I looked around the room as I lay down on the bed to control the terror and didn't recognize anything. I thought, this isn't my room, not my house, where am I? Worse, who am I? What am I doing here and what the hell is going on? Very scary.

The second was this morning as I stood at my computer searching for royalty free music. Suddenly my left eye went soft. I had lost the ability to focus. Immediately I lifted my glasses to test and it was worse without them. Then my right went out. Back to the bed to ride it out, whatever IT was. Slowly I brought it back and after about ten minutes all was fine, But, whew, THAT was scary too.

So I called the out-patient nurse and told her my sad story. She said she would consult the doctor and get back to me.

Tomorrow will be one week since the procedure. I cannot see myself getting back to anything remotely resembling exercise. Not when I don't know who I am and blind in one eye.

At least the streak is alive.

And now I have to face all this without Robin Williams. Fuck.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Day 219, Next?

Sorry if this has turned to a workout log of alternate events.

Used to be pretty much swim, bike and run as topics du jour.

Now it's sleep, deal with symptoms, convalesce, go to hospital.

I apologize to you as much as I do to me. I hate this shitzel.

Today was another tough one, From the get-go I felt horrible, light-headed, pulsing heart, crackling shoulders, massive headache on the right side and serious dizziness.

Had to concentrate on every movement just to get to the next. Try it sometime.

The big question was whether or not to drive up to see Junior's Mom on her birthday. It would involve two ferry trips and 150 miles. Sunday's in the Summer around here are nightmares for the locals. You can guess why.

But we made it. I had trouble concentrating, hearing and keeping from talking to myself. The latter because it probably wouldn't have been over encouraging for Junior to hear me repeat a 'stay calm, relax, find and escape route, breathe, you're doing fine' mantra for three hours. So I cranked the Phish and smiled a lot.

I am 99% sure I have already slipped back into A-Fib. I can't find caryatid strong enough and wrists are worse. An hour ago I strapped on my Polar FTI and it went from 73 to 48 the second I laid down. It is back at 75 now. All I am doing is standing and typing.

Something is amok.


What now?

I have no idea. I am going to call the lead cardiologist in the morning and open a new discussion thread.

What shall we call this one?


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Day 218 in Sepia

A nurse calls to see about me.

I read her the symptoms as if I was in a poetry slam.

None of those sound to good, she says.

My research suggests that there is a period of adjustment where the heart adjusts and adapts to its new self, I reply, trying to keep her from saying what she is about to say.

Maybe you should come in and let us take a look.

The phone goes dead.

I have notoriously bad service here.

I get up, walk downstairs and go sit in the sun waiting for her to recall in an area of better coverage.

I think about what I will say. Something like; I can deal with this, if I can only find a way to sleep, it will be OK tomorrow. Lies like that.

I am starting to feel better as the phone rings.

It is Dad asking how I feel.

We laugh through a short conversation, sharing stories, as he had the same procedure a couple of years ago. Said it kicked his ass too.

I remember a picture he gave me yesterday as I hung some bookshelves for him. It was me in transition of the Pacific Crest Triathlon about to start the run. I looked at it for several seconds. Muscle tone, power, strength, speed. Youth. It was only five years ago.

Might as well of been in the days of black, white & sepia.

Enjoy every ride.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Day 217

It's day to day.

I felt 'decent' most of today. I took two naps in the sun. But every time I had to walk (and I do that a lot) the vibrations hit my breastbone like a Van Damme side-kick. I had to come to a complete stop twice just to stabilize and re-group.

Good news is that I took no pain meds today, just the anticoagulants.

I have also been reading up on the issue(s), especially the latest wrinkle, the ejection fraction. What a great name for a band! EF, is the percentage of blood that one's heart pumps from the ventricle towards needy body parts, and in our case, triathletes, that usually means muscles. And brain. My EF was estimated to be around 45%, with anything over 50% being OK.

I asked my electro-cardiologist the morning after the procedure what all this meant to my long term goals (with a straight face), and she hemmed and hawed a touch before suggesting that I might get a 'better' response from the lead cardiologist. Not that she was evading the issue or skirting from counsel, she simply felt that we need to do some more testing before we get the detailed data we all seek, and that her area of expertise had set the stage nicely for exactly that.

She did go on to say, with some promoting, that while ALL exercise is good, for the time being, and after at least a week of recovery,  I might be better off blocking more LSD sessions than Super Eight Max-outs.

And I totally agree. If you were to hold a Glock 9 to my temple and demand that I go to 100% for any duration, a loud and decisive bang would ensue. I could give you, today, RIGHT NOW, maybe .0005%. For a nano-second.

And then I would be back in the sun napping. Or maybe back in the ER.

So it's day to day. And I got no problem with dat.

Pic: On Sunday I was a shadow of my former climbing self. But we made it!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Day 216, Serious Aloha

This is my first hangover.

My head hurts, my tongue feels like sandpaper, everything posterior from throat to groin is in a vacuum of pain and I can't negotiate even the slightest of tasks without maximum effort. I sneezed an hour ago and I can still feel the vibrations.

All this and I haven't had a beer since Monday. Truth be known I haven't drank any hard liquor since Jimmy Carter was in office (or soon afterwards.)

They call it a anesthesia hangover, and man I got a good one.

Coupled with the trauma to my poor heart during the ablation procedure, and also that I am hearing tales of folks taking 3-6 MONTHS to return to any form of rigor, no wonder I feel slightly North of dog shit.

Seriously, I thought I would be back in the saddle my now. Slow, but at least moving some. I can't even walk to the garage without stopping to correct my posture and take a breath. YIKES! And ease up on the heel strikes please!

But, so be it.

If it takes a while, fine. I will learn patience. If it takes effort, no problem, I can give. If it takes persistence, I got some in storage somewhere.

I just want to have my athletic limiters be improvable by training. None of this 'you got a bad heart' stuff. I do not want to be constantly looking at my training as if it was going to kill me instead of heal me. It is hard enough.

So let's get on with it.

I will ask for guidance and support from those that offer assistance. Like the brilliance from The Athlete's Heart. I will be as patient as I am able. I will go slow and re-build from the start. I will stretch and lift and do yoga. I will even swim once in a while (that is a joke for those that I train with.)

Then I will hammer the bike and nail the run. THAT is no joke.

I get these flashing glimpses of an 'all new me' and it feels like heaven. Usually this is right before a huge volume of blood suddenly plunges over the ventricle spillway at lightspeed and crashes the party, but for one ecstatic micro-second, I almost feel, *GASP*, young again.

Or young enough to ride and run fast enough to Q for Kona. SO let it be known, here, today, that

I do NOT want to sample a hair of the dog. No sireee Bob Babbitt.

So stick around, this might be an interesting ride.

AND WE GOT A COMMENT YESTERDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Day 215, exhausted

You got to love it.

Every minute and all the time.

There has to be joy, wonder, hope.

One has to have desire.

To improve, to go, to do.

Adventure, participation and challenge.

You must remain fearless.

Open and aware.

Peaceful and compassionate.

Helpful and happy.

It has to be here.

And it must be now.

One needs to give best effort.

Top out.

Go beyond.

Listen and learn, measure and manage.

Persevere, endure, last.

And then rest and recover.

To repeat again tomorrow.

Day 214 ALIVE

I really wanted to take my laptop to the hospital. I knew going in that talking them OUT of an overnight stay was going to be tough. So I held out hope that I could somehow post something that would give the consecutive streak its continuance.

That ended up not being the issue.

Six hours of the heart procedure kicked my butt and by the time I was back in the recovery room, my blood pressure wasn't responding well, staying below 80 for almost three hours. By the time they checked me in to my room, it was 2100 and I wanted to sleep.

So I apologize.

I have written, on more than one occasion, under the influence of various substances, so I am quite sure that after all that trauma, even spell check would have been challenged.

NTL, here it is for the streak, a mere 214 days, nothing HUGE in the true scope of things, but something.

There were some high points along with the obvious low, I learned some, had a few gross generalizations debated, defined detailed. Met several outstanding professionals and patients.

And came away with a different point of view.

As the swelling subsides, the inflammation lessons and my heart adopts to the change, I feel that we have done some real good. I am anxious, excited and ready for the next phase.

Tomorrow should be indicative of the changes to follow.

We have done no harm.

And the streak is alive.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Day 213. Honor.

This is our backyard. Sometimes we take its splendor as a given.

I have been to the top, where the road ends, by bike, three times already this year.

Planning more.

I like it up there.

I like getting there as much as I like getting back.

The beer always tastes a little colder and crisper after the 35 mile RT. At the finish BBQ yesterday they even had black bean burgers.

Doesn't get much better.

Honor your back yard.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Day 212, Thanks Dad

I posted this pic over on our FB blog as well.

I was moved.

I followed these two for a mile or so just to see how far Dad (left) was going to, or could, keep helping his son (right) up the hill.

And it's no ordinary hill. It is the gem of the Cascade's, Hurricane Ridge. Seventeen miles up. Fifty-two hundred feet of up. Relentless up.

I couldn't imaging doing this when I was ten.

About half way today I wondered if I could do it (again) at my current age (somewhat more than ten.)

This is special. Dad helping his kid up the hill.

I don't know why this simple act struck such an emotional cord with me.

But it did. And I feel privileged to have witnessed the act, honored even.

Maybe I do know why.

Yes, I believe I do.

Nice job Dad.

And thanks.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Day 211

I almost got arrested in 2002 for climbing atop our only bridge and shooting some video of the guys in a peloton riding below.

It was for a film I was producing for the Seattle Triathlon Club (RIP).

Evidently somebody just HAD to alert the authorities that someone was on top of the bridge.

Going to jump?

A terrorist?

Surely, breaking some law somehow. Probably a decent, tax paying, law abiding conservative republican just 'calling it in.'

Yesterday, a mere 12 years later I returned to the scene of the crime. I figured the statue of limitations and our new pot laws might chill out the vigilantes. I was, again, capturing footage for a new project, the footage for which can only be gathered mid-span. Because I can't afford a helicopter and I haven't ordered my drone yet.

So off I go.

Thinking all the while, get in , get the shot and get the hell out.

I did it twice, once looking North and once South.

I was a little nervous. I must be getting old. And then I was glad it is over.

Then I thought,

FUCK them. My taxes paid for this bridge the same way that they pay for police, the military and every other force designed to keep us in the illusion of safety.

FUCK that too!

I am shooting video you low-life blowhards. Leave me the hell alone. I am not going to harm you in any way. I simply like taking moving pictures from interesting view points.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Day 210, A chance to be special

There are so many correlations to sports. The metaphors seem almost endless. Yet, many miss the obvious.

At its most banal, sports are proxy for war. And we guardians of the kingdom (men) reserve the inherent right to protect, secure, provide and battle all aggressors. Yes, over the millennia we have evolved, adding a wee bit of diplomacy, into a peace-loving tribe, but that doesn't cover our penchant for 'me (us) against you (them)'. We are hard-wired for war, some say.

So we substitute, wisely, balls for guns. And in no way do I comment here on the de-masculinity of our society.

Naturally the perfect example is football. Sorry but I don't recognize TV sports like Pro Wrestling and UFC. They simply jumped the shark for violent profit. It's like cock fighting with felons in cages. Yuk.

Back to football. Hit, tackle, block, protect, run, pass, score. You get four chances to move the ball 10 yards or give a turn to the other squad (army). It is turf warfare at its finest. There is finesse, sure, but the basic premises is to ram the ball down the throat of the opposition. Then those of different colors attempt to tear your head off and then, conveniently just pick up the lose ball up and present it as a gift to their offense.

Nice. Simple. Obvious. Right? Violence with theater.

So this morning as I made the news service rounds, which includes three sites devoted solely to University of Washington and their purple and gold Huskies, it became apparent, through all the hype, homerism and verbosity, that this year's team has a chance to be special.

"A chance to be special."

What the hell does THAT mean?

And I was off and running for daylight with juxtaposition and metaphoric conjecture.

It means that IF several components all mesh nicely into place, and IF the current roster of experience and flash gel, and IF the new coaching staff can instill the culture of integrity and success as they have at other schools in the past, and IF we remain injury free, and IF several 'stars' rise to the occasion and are able to assume leadership roles, and IF we get the benefit of a few reviewed calls, and IF we can find suitable replacement for the starts that are now playing in the NFL, and IF every one of the 22 starting warriors buys in to the magic, and IF we find that chemistry necessary to over-achieve as a team, we might, with luck, grace, presence, attribute and technique.

Win a game or two.

The same way that today (this week and every Saturday after) is an opportunity for YOU to be special. You have the chance to be special in the exact same way that the Dawgs do.