Meet the Bionic Cyclist. Heart patient, cycling like a madman!

So..I`m blogging now. Wow! Never thought I would do that. I`m not even sure why I am doing it. Maybe a little bit because my wife thought it would be a good idea. We both saw “Julie and Julia” and were intrigued. Or was it “Julia and Julie”?

Anyway, my story is as follows. It will hopefully explain why I`m doing this (“this” as in what I will blog about, not “this” as in why I`m blogging).

As a young teenager I was told that I had a heart murmur. One of my valves was leaking and I would need surgery some time in a distant future. “When you are 60-70 years old” my doctor told me. Looking through old  files the doc saw that the valve problem had been detected earlier, when I was five and a half years old. At that time, however, I underwent surgery, not heart related. Since surgery at that age was rather serious, the doctors focused on what was at hand. The heart valve discovery was noted, but not followed up on until it was rediscovered 8-10 years later.

As a young boy I never noticed my heart condition. I actually feel a little guilty about even calling it that. Heart conditions are for people with gray hair and wheezing breaths, right? I was relatively active in sports. I played soccer, competed in motocross and rode a road bike. I was in pretty good shape. By the time I got to my twenties I  had a full time job and wasn`t as active anymore. I gained some weight and generally became a lazy butt.

In January of 1993, I was having lunch with a friend and colleague. I`m not sure who suggested it first, but we agreed that signing up for a really long bike race would be a good idea. None of us even owned a bike, so naturally that was a great idea! I guess we were both in a what-the-heck-let`s-do-something-crazy-and-impulsive mood. We decided to go for it! We bought bikes a few days later.

Trondheim-Oslo (In Norway. Now you know where I`m from and why I write with an “accent”) was at least at that time the longest one-day bike race in the world. 540km/335miles in one day. Perfect for two ambitious untrained young whippersnappers! Especially since we bought our bikes just about 5 months before the race.

You (as if I already have anyone but the few I have given the link to reading this already) might wonder what this has to do with why I`m blogging. I`m just going on about something that happened back when I was young. Well, hang in there. I`ll get to it. I promise.

Just to be sure I wanted to run the whole thing by my doctor before I started exercising like a madman. “No, you cannot do that” was his reaction. He recommended I see a cardiologist for a second opinion though. I did. “Yes, you can do that…but you have to be careful” was his reaction. Much better. Then, it was time to turn the switch to “madman”.

My friend and I both completed the race and vowed never to do it again. 365 days later I completed the same race for the second time. Since that day at the lunch table when e decided to be “cyclists”. I was bitten. I jumped on the bike 5-6 times per week for several years.

This is now 16 years ago. I moved to the US in 1997. I have not been on a bike for exercising purposes since then. I`m married now and have lived a lazy couch potato life for a loooong time. “Not enough time for exercising”. Isn`t that a good enough excuse? After I became Mr Lazy I gradually started feeling my age and then some. I gained about 50lbs, felt tired and exhausted all the time, but still managed to blame it on my age, weight gain, lack of..well..moving! and so on. In March of 2009 I went to my doctor to have him check on a cough that I hadn`t been able to shake off after a cold I had several weeks ago. The cold was gone, but I was still coughing. Yeah, and while he was at it he might as well help me make an appointment with a cardiologist also. Just for a check up. I hadn`t had one of those in seven years or so. My wife insisted I`d do that. It was the least I could do to make her happy at least. Big deal. Big deal indeed! “You have a loud murmur and need to see a cardiologist ASAP. You might need surgery soon”, were his words. Oops!

It turned out he was right. It actually turned out that my cough was caused by my “flappy” heart valve, or “aortic valve stenosis” as the cardiologist called it. Dozens of doctor visits and too many tests to count later, I had my heart valve and heart root replacement surgery on September 18, 2009.

The recovery process went smoothly. I might or might not revisit that experience later. Depending on the readers feedback! (yeah, right…)

I now have a mechanical heart valve, which means that I tick. Stand within a few feet of me in a relatively quiet room and you can hear it! It also means that I am part machine! Amazing and very cool, right?

About 8-10 weeks after my surgery I felt almost like normal. As a part of the recovery process I was walking daily. I actually felt great! I realized that the fatigue and tiredness I had blamed on my age and other factors had been at least to some extent been caused by my defective valve. With a new valve I don`t have to be careful about pushing myself physically anymore. I have to be careful about falling since I am on blood-thinning medications, but my heart should be tough enough to take a sprint or….a bike ride!

I miss my cycling days and desperately want to get back in shape. I have decided to go for it, again. My goal is to complete 200 miles on a bike in one day before the one-year anniversary of my heart surgery. The first hurdle I have to pass is getting a bike. Unfortunately, I got spoiled riding one of those expensive bikes back in the days of Trondheim-Oslo. Getting approval from my better half to purchase a bike worth more than her wedding ring (yeah, it`s gonna be SO much easier when she reads this. Oy!) might be a little tricky. But, we`ll see. I still have plenty of time. Maybe I`ll be rich from blogging…or maybe we`ll win the lotto? Maybe it`ll rain dollar bills tomorrow morning?

Reading through the last paragraphs I realize that my story, despite it being extremely interesting, might mot explain why I`m blogging. I guess it`s just the cool thing to do nowadays. I don`t need any better reasons. At least I can`t think of any.

So, you. You know, the one who received the link to this from either myself or my wife, please follow me as I struggle with my wife to buy a bike, with myself as I get up in the morning to exercise, with……well..I can`t think of anything else that I might have to struggle with. Maybe it will be a walk in the park? I know one thing for sure though, it will be blogged. Right here! Don`t change the channel.

THE BionicCyclist

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