Saturday, June 09, 2007

Tahoe Ride Report - or I HEART My Heart

Thanks again for supporting my ride. Until we find a cure for blood cancer's the work of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) will remain essential and vital to the lives of patients and families around the country.

A couple amazing statistics:

  • The LLS riders at America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride in Tahoe last week raised over $8,400,000 to support the support and research programs of the society.
  • The National Capital Chapter alone raised over $335,000 for the Society.
  • Since its founding in the early 80's the Society has raised over $750,000,000 (a HUGE number even to Washington folks like me!) to support the mission of the Society.
  • And since the Society founding it has trained just south of 300,000 men and women for endurance events -- taking sofa slugs like me and turning them into only moderated out of shape athletes.

We had a great team out in Tahoe and their work throughout the year and at Tahoe was truly inspiring. They're done some great good.

Unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to ride with the Team this year. Shortly before I headed out to Tahoe (last Thursday) my heart started exhibiting an irregular heart rate that became increasingly concerning as we got closer to the ride.

As I headed in to work on Thursday, my heart started racing and beating extremely rapidly. I assumed it was attributable to a cold/bug I had. It slowed down on Thursday afternoon, so I just crossed my fingers and hoped it went away. On Friday, I spent a good portion of the day sleeping since we were flying across the country, so I didn't really notice alot. It raced now and again, but I was still hoping it would go away.

On Saturday we got up in the morning and the heart racing was back. We heading out for a short 8 mile warm up ride and it popped up a bunch of times during the ride. I had my heart rate monitor on so I could see my heart going from 130 beats per minute, up to 185 beats per minute, stay there for ten seconds and drop back down to 130 bpm. It probably did this something like a dozen times during the 8 mile ride. (the HRM didn't pick up all of them but if you look at the picture on the right, you can see where it caught two and you can also see what it looked like when my heart rate went up normally --quite a contrast.)


I took a nap after the ride and when I woke up it was still happening and I was starting to wonder whether it was such a good idea to go on a 100 mile bike ride in 80 degree weather with an as yet undetermined heart condition. Noel concured with my concern and we got the Team in Training staff to zip us down to Barton Memorial Community Hospital in South Lake Tahoe. (For what its worth, I was voted the "Most Normal Patient" in the ER that night. Truth be told the competition wasn't that steep considering my fellow ER mates were brought in by the local Sheriff. Apparently Tahoe has more of a crime problem than one would suspect. And boy is Meth popular. :-( )

Fortunately since it was a small hospital I was seen pretty quickly. They checked me in to the ER and ran a full cardiac workup. (An Aside: Note to the fine folks at 3M. On behalf of all men with chest hair, if you could get the guys in the R&D Dept. working on some EKG sticky tabs that aren't quite so sticky, we'd all really apprecite it. Thanks)

Well once they got me hooked up to the EKG, the Dr's face lit up and he commented that "He's going into SVT." Which meant absolutely nothing to me but didn't sound particularly good. Apparently this condition happens alot and in his numerous years in the ER he had never actually seen it captured on an EKG.

So it turns out that I have Supraventricular Tachycardia
. Basically the long and short, is that there is something wrong with the wiring of my heart. We still don't know yet why it is happening, but we're working on it. It is more of a nuisance than anything else, but it does need to get fixed.

Not surprisingly the Docs and nurses told me pretty quickly that I really can't be going out for a 100 mile bike ride the next day. Eventually I ended up being admitted to the hospital for observation over night and spent the Sunday of the ride at the hospital I did luck out and have a halfway decent hamburger and we were able to discover that the medicine Cardizem seems to get the heart rate under control and keeps the SVT at bay.

So right now I am in a bit of a holding pattern. I have an appointment with my cardiologist tomorrow afternoon and he's going to give me a little better picture of where we're going to go with this thing. The meds seem to be working pretty well, but I am not terribly enamored with the idea of having to take meds twice a day every day forever. There are some surgical remedies that are reportedly very effective, but I really need to sit down with the Dr and figure out what is best for me.

Noel was super awesome and hung with me all day on Sunday at the hospital. She kept me company and made sure the stay in the hospital was as enjoyable as possible. I think this was the first time I was actually admitted to a hospital, so it was good to have company. Unfortunately she missed her ride at Tahoe.

Once I get the green light from the Dr. we're going to schedule another Century. If the stars align, I can jump on one pretty soon and use the fitness I have attained training for Tahoe.

While it was obviously a big bummer missing the ride, the important part was that I was able to help support the society and help make a difference in the lives of patients and families fighting this disease.

Hopefully I'll have more info on upcoming rides and I'll make sure I let you know what is substituted for Tahoe and how the ride goes.

Thanks again for your support.

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