I once was a biker: the kind who wears spandex and clip-clopping shoes. Not the kind with deafening exhaust pipes, Grim Reaper tats, and Kaiser helmets. Back when I was riding and racing, I hated the hills. And I lived in Kentucky! I’m big for a cyclist at 6’4″, and I raced at 169 pounds. Since then, I’m no longer all thighs and calves. I carry a different kind of spare tire now and my handlebars are on my back.
Due to my size, and my low-strength-to-weight ration, I was not a good climber compared to the wafer-thin 5’5″ guys who could squat a Volvo. I would almost always lose contact with the pack on the steepest climb of the race, which forced me to take risks and catch up on the descent.
This one time, though, I was hanging in there. I was at the back of the pack, but still on a wheel, and I could see the top of the hill. I was certain I would make it, so I hit the thrusters and moved to the front in an effort to take advantage of my natural plummeting skills. I was great at going downhill really fast. (Except for the time I crashed at 55 MPH, but that’s another story.)
So, I got to what I thought was the top of the hill as I pulled to the front of the pack, but lo-and-behold, it was a false flat. There was at least half a mile of hill left and I’d burned up my boosters. The little guys saw me falter, put the hammer down, and left me for dead.
I hit a false flat with regard to my Superior Canal Dehiscence surgery a few posts ago when I wrote about feeling peace and calm descending. It was there for a brief second, then sped away faster than a pack of PED-enhanced cheetahs when came the news that I’m bilateral (I have dehiscences on both sides), and that Dr. Lee in Boston recommended endoscopy, which I wasn’t sure my surgeon here would or could do.
I emailed Dr. Lee and Dr. Wiet with more questions, and being the caring professionals they are, they got back to me with their thoughts. Dr. Wiet does use an endoscope and will have it at the ready if necessary, but doesn’t think he will need it. He and Dr. Lee differ on the approach, but in the end, knowing it’s there if he needs it, and that I’ll have world-class hands in my head only 20 miles from home, helped me to decide I should stay in Chicago. Dr. Lee speaks very highly of Dr. Wiet, as does his former patient Elizabeth Nielson whose testimonials are on my video page. So, I’m staying in Chicago and I’ve finally felt good about it for two days in a row.
Dr. Lee also answered questions about recovery. He said that in the 250 SCD patients they’ve treated, they have often seen untreated symptoms grow worse over time. He said that patients who face the toughest recoveries are generally 1) Women 2) bilateral people with large holes over both ears, and 3) people who suffer from migraines. While I am bilateral, my holes aren’t huge, I’m a dude, and I don’t have headaches. I suppose in this one situation, I lucked out. It stands to reason that if symptoms do generally get worse over time, which means my holes could possibly get bigger, why wait and force a further compromised lifestyle and more difficult recovery down the road? Right? (You all just said “right!” Right?)
So, now it would seem I’ve made it over the top of the false flat. It’s gonna be a fight to catch the pack, but I’m gonna tuck in as tight as I can, and hope to bomb down the mountainside of surgery and recovery as quickly and carefully as I can.
10 days to go.