A Tough Week

The week started off well enough on Saturday, December 8th, with me feeling fine when I joined the FWBA River View club ride out of Rio Vista. I’ve done this ride before. It’s a scenic route that goes from Rio Vista down into the river valley at Hamm Creek Park, then follows the Brazos River for a ways, then crosses it at Brazos Point, goes on to Glen Rose, then comes back by the Cleburne State Park. Saturday’s route was a 76 mile route that had some variation from previous rides because of some road construction, but was mostly the same route.

I felt a little sluggish at the start, having to make myself work hard enough to stay with the longer group, but felt better as the morning went. The group I fell in with rode a fairly brisk pace, but stopped to regroup often, and took its time at rest stops. We were running late enough that when two other riders took off at mile 65, I joined them and rode hard the rest of the ride. I ended up with 76.1 miles.

My wife and I joined friends that evening and went to the Gaylord Texan ICE event. It was entertaining and interesting, but in my mind, not worth the bad traffic, parking wars, and long walk it took to get us there. On Sunday, I stayed home and rested, and felt fine all day. But in the middle of the night that night, I developed a fever, with the telltale chills and body aches. The fever broke before morning, leaving the classic soaked bed from my sweating.

I felt well enough Monday morning that I went to work, but by 6:00 pm that evening, it was obvious that my fever was coming back. This pattern of an evening and night fever, clearing by morning, continued through Tuesday. When the fever started coming back Wednesday evening, I decided I needed to get checked out, and got Rose to take me to the Dallas VA hospital ER. A chest x-ray there found a problem with my surgery damaged left lung, but couldn’t tell if it was pneumonia or TB. Because my night fever patterns so closely matched the symptoms of TB patients, I was admitted to the hospital.

On Thursday, I was given a TB test, and a chest CT scan. A TB test takes two to three days for a definitive answer, but long before that, the CT scan showed it was pneumonia, not TB, and I was released from the hospital on Friday, and sent home with antibiotics. My discharge papers showed the diagnosis as “community acquired pneumonia”, which is the current term for pneumonia that occurrs in an otherwise healthy person. I suppose my surgery damaged left lung will always be prone to this kind of thing, but it’s still hard for me to believe that I had pneumonia without even having a cold first.

So I went from a 76.1 mile bike ride, to pneumonia and a hospital stay, to being released and home on antibiotics, all in the same week. It also became the first time I experienced the odd happening where lung cancer survivors actually celebrate a pneumonia diagnosis. As serious, and even life threatening, as pneumonia can be, as a diagnosis, it’s great news to a lung cancer survivor, when it’s given with no attached cancer finding. Everything is relative, I guess.

The FWBA River View 76 mile route.

Jailhouse 216k

I joined 12 other riders and took off from Italy at 7:30 this morning and rode the Jailhouse 216k route. It reached 82 degrees this afternoon, a very warm December day, but I hesitate to call it a beautiful day, because the wind gusts of over 30 mph made it a brutal ride.

This route heads southwest out of Italy (directly into today’s wind), and goes to Valley Mills, then takes the same route back. I fell off the back of the faster group fairly quickly and ended up joining Daniel Schaaf for most of the ride out to Valley Mills. It took us five and a half hours to reach the half way point. I had a 13.0 mph average at that point. That gives a good idea just how tough the wind was.

I rode with Vickie Tyer much of the ride back to the next control at mile 102. I started fading at around mile 90 and watched Vickie disappear into the distance ahead of me. This was the first time I’ve ridden with Vickie since she got her recumbent. Riding that stretch with her, I realized something I hadn’t noticed before. She doesn’t hammer the hills, but doesn’t let up on the downhills either. She rides with a more consistent effort than anyone else I’ve ever ridden with. That probably goes a long way in explaining how she does so well on really long rides.

By the time I reached the control at mile 102, I was completely wiped out. I think the big effort against the wind had caught up with me. So much of this route is now boulder seal road that my toes were killing me, and I spent too much time thinking about that and stopped drinking my maltodextrin drink. As I sat at that control, I honestly didn’t think I could finish the ride, but after ingesting sugar, maltodextrin, and salt, followed by some slower riding, I started feeling better before the end of the ride. I followed Stephen, Sharon, Steve, and Debbie, who were on two tandems, the rest of the way in.

My shoulder felt better on this ride, but I’ve done too few long distance rides this year, and fading at the end of this one was another reminder of that. But I needed the miles to have any chance of making my mileage goal this year, and managed to finish the ride, so I’m calling it a good day. As always, I enjoyed the company along the way. I ended up with 135 miles even.

The Jailhouse 216k route.