As many of you remind me that the Million Dollar Challenge is NOT a race rather a journey, I can truly attest to everyone's words of wisdom.
I visited my doctor on August 20th as a follow-up to a physical I had a few months prior. After getting new lab work, etc ... I was given an A+ and a clean bill of health. I had lost some weight, my blood pressure was normal and my cholesterol levels had improved! At age 47, I was absolutely "stoked" with these results. With that great news in hand, I went out on Sunday August 22th with my CAF G4 family and rode 77 miles!
In the days to follow, and as I had done multiple weeks prior, I planned to either ride back and forth to work (56 miles) or bring my bike in to work for a quick 20-25 mile ride at lunch. Monday came, then Tuesday and Wednesday. No riding. On Thursday, I finally brought my bike into work thinking I'm riding at lunch no matter what! Well, around 11:00 a.m. Thursday August 26th, I was down for the count! Fever and aches had consumed my whole body! In hopes to fully recover over the weekend, I skipped my weekly CAF ride and took it easy on the couch. I actually felt good on Sunday but as Monday arrived, I left work by noon time. By this time, my fever and aches were gone but man, was I ever coughing up a storm! I tried to control "it" with OTC drugs but these just simply were not working. Wednesday came and I felt about the same - lousy!
I'm about to share with you one of my worst life experiences EVER - Thursday morning around 2:00 a.m. I awoke from a deep sleep gasping, for what I thought, may be my last breaths of air! Apparently, I had a bronchial spasm that nearly closed off my esophagus. I literally struggled for air for close to eternity, or maybe 30-40 seconds. My thought at the time was I cannot catch my breath. I'm going to freaking die right here in front of my wife and family. Fortunately, I was finally able to catch a little more air, then more ... By that time, my wife had called 9-1-1 and the ambulance was on its way. "Reading" the tone of her voice as she tells me "you ARE going to the hospital", I proceeded to get dressed and wait for the paramedics. Although my bronchial episode had passed, there were concerns that my blood pressure was way too high - 170/112 or something! As I arrived at the ER, my BP had come down significantly but was still a bit high. Unfortunately, I was still coughing badly, so the doctor ordered up an x-ray. Afterwards, I was given a respiratory treatment and prescribed some antibiotics and was sent on my way. I must say, the antibiotics are working and I am progressing back to health.
Last Sunday, although unable to ride, I visited the riders before their weekly ride. I just wanted to get up early to show my support for the group. That day, I was honored to hear the story of "Fred", who is one of the challenged athletes who rides with us. Fred told us the story of himself as a young, single man. He had money, was a very active water and snow skier, and loved his motorcycle! He goes on to tell the story of an early morning motorcycle ride to seek out a lake at the end of "something Lake" road. Unfortunately, his ride turned to tragedy as a truck veered into his lane sending Fred off the road crashing into a giant boulder. Newly paralyzed, he spoke of how friends and family encouraged him to "keep on living". He spoke of his first time back on the ski slope and what a sense of freedom he felt. Fred continues to tell us his path to competition like bike racing and triathlons.
He reminded us all that a positive attitude can not only benefit a challenged athlete but everyone's attitude and uses the example of an airplane ride to Florida to see his mother. He explains the first time boarding the plane; the airline personnel were extremely "sympathetic" after learning he was traveling to Florida simply to see his mother. Awe, poor guy in the wheelchair!!! However, years later and after becoming an accomplished athlete, his next flight was somewhat different. When asked why he was going to Florida, he states he was going to see his mother AND compete in a triathlon. Fred was no longer perceived as the "poor guy in the wheelchair". After stating he was competing in a triathlon, it completely changed the attitude how people perceived him. He didn't want sympathy; he wants simply to live life to its fullest! With that said, he expressed his extreme gratitude to the Challenged Athletes Foundation for the opportunities they've provided him to compete and feel "free" again.
Fred is again another reminder that the CAF Million Dollar Challenge is not a race, but a journey. For some, it's gaining freedom after given a limb to run. For others, it's a journey to regain some semblance of their former lives after tragedy. Others use CAF as a way to stay in shape while being philanthropic. For me, my journey is not that simple. I can tell you though it's certainly been challenging, rewarding, painful yet enlightening. Is it six (6) more weeks until my journey's end? I'll just say my life's been changed forever!