Dealing With Sickness

The trail ahead finally came to an end as the sign clearly said, “No Bikes” causing me to turn around and head home.

Little did I know that when I biked this new trail on March 29th going 23 miles round trip, that the very next day I would become deathly ill with the creeping crud that’s going around. My roommate was already complaining about coming down with it from his work-mates, but since he wasn’t staying home from work or acting very sick I just ignored his warnings. I’d had my flu shot like I get every year and I never get sick! Famous last words.

I woke up the next day with a small cough. I keep a glass of water by the bed because I get a dry mouth at night so that’s what I was thinking that morning as I gulped some water. I felt fine and was proud of my 23-mile ride, even bragging about it to my best friend.

I bike every other day come rain or shine and today was an off day so I planned to get some steps in between my writing and bragging. As the day went on I felt bad and it overcame me so fast that by nightfall I had a fever of 101.5, a headache that wouldn’t go away and was coughing so hard I thought my head would explode. I actually saw lights inside my head and immediately all my new-found energy was gone. For the first time in years, I was sick and all I could do was crawl into bed.

I felt betrayed by my body, after all, everything I’d read told me that people who sleep right, eat right and exercise don’t get sick as often as the average person. In fact, I read that a healthy person only gets sick half as much as the rest of the population. I was angry that I couldn’t get on my bike and felt that all of my hard work of the last 6 months was being lost. I was angry and felt depressed for the first time in ages.

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After a few days of this negative thinking while laying in bed it came to me. I had become part of the problem. There was nothing I could do about getting sick, I had done everything right and still caught the bug. All I was doing with my bad attitude was making things worse for myself. I stopped my complaining and refocused on taking care of myself.

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Just as I’d learned how to be healthy again after decades of bad habits I relearned the importance of  patience and acceptance. Once I did, my week of sick time passed, my fever broke and I felt ready to get back on my bike.

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On Tuesday, April 5th, I got dressed to go biking for the first time since being sick. It was a sunny, windy day nothing unusual for the Bay Area in the springtime. I was weak but feeling happy.

The first thing I noticed was the wind gusts hurting my ears which never happened before. I pulled over and used my ear buds without plugging them in which happened to work. I was puzzled since I had no ear aches and on the way home I was able to remove them with no further problems.

After the first half of my ride, I noticed a lack in stamina and my back was hurting. My endorphins never kicked in and I wasn’t enjoying my ride. I still had plenty of strength for hills but wasn’t feeling it. I had to bike against the wind gusts on the way home and as soon as I got in the door I peeled my clothes off and fell back into bed.

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After sleeping a few hours I got up had something to eat and started hydrating myself. I’m not young anymore and had a private laugh at how silly I was expecting to just fall back into my biking routine after being so sick. Instead of getting upset this time, I made sure my choices the next day were well balanced towards good health hoping to have a better outcome.

On Thursday, it was a gorgeous day with high temps, low wind gusts and sun. I did my normal route this time, it was much better and more enjoyable. I finally felt that it was all coming together again.

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Yesterday it was lightly raining when I went out and the weather report said rain so I expected it but by the time I got to the San Mateo Bridge it was pouring and I was soaked. I usually go under and past this bridge but I had 4 and 1/2 miles to ride to get home so I headed back rather than take a chance on catching cold. There were no wind gusts so I made good time.

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Before I got back home I stopped to photograph 2 jackrabbits that were chasing each other in the rain oblivious to me. This is the best picture I got of them and all you can see are the ears sticking up on one and the head on another. Bad weather brings the animals out they feel safe because people aren’t out in the rain. I see more animals during bad weather it doesn’t keep me from biking.

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When I got sick last week I felt that my body betrayed me, that all of my hard work biking was lost and that I’d have to start over again. Then I rediscovered what I already learned, that balance is the key to good health, mental and physical, and the weakness was in my mind not my body.

With the right balance of sleep, healthy food, exercise, and water, with a little fun thrown in, you won’t have time for depression or unhappiness. We all get sick but the better you treat your body the more resources it will have to protect you and your mind in times of stress.

Treat your body well and your mind will follow.

Look What I Found On My Ride

Yesterday when I was on the return leg of my trip I saw something dark on the trail ahead. As I pulled up I saw it was a young seal! It was right in the middle of the trail and I saw a cyclist stopped nearby talking on his cell phone. He was calling the Marine Mammal Rescue Center in Sausalito so I pulled over to assist.

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Seal in danger! Cyclist’s and even state vehicles pass through here.

I found out his name was Luke and he was talking to the rescue people. While I waited to find out what they said I dialed a few numbers. The Humane Society was not helpful at all telling me they “didn’t do marine mammals.” I found them cold and not willing to even give me a phone number that would help. In fact, everyone was passing the buck. It made me sad.

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I carefully herded him into the grass on the side of the trail. Look at how much his coat shines in the sun.

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Once in the grass, he looked at me and seemed curious. It was lucky he was young because full grown, these seals can be vicious even attacking people.

Luke was instructed to take a photo of the seal to send to the rescue center. He did so and was told they’d send someone out. Sausalito California is far away but they said they’d find a local volunteer.

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Look at that face!

I called the same rescue center myself for good measure. They acted like they didn’t know about it even though Luke had called and sent a photo. They told us they’d send someone out. I had to be somewhere by 6pm so I had time to wait. Luke had to go back to work so I sat on a nearby bench watching.

Many people passed by not even seeing this little guy. A few people stopped and one guy was touching him. I asked him to stop telling him it was vicious and would bite him. I was just stretching the truth a little to make him leave the poor thing alone. He backed off. I can’t believe how ignorant and selfish people can be. You should never touch a wild animal unless you have to.

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I figured out that he went up the walkway (see map) and ended up on the trail. These rocks are big and sharp he wouldn’t have made it over them otherwise. You can see the bench I sat on.

I was worried because 3rd street (in Foster City) is not far away. I have to hope the seal just went back the way it came after sunning itself. After waiting over an hour taking videos and photos no one came to even check it out and make sure it wasn’t sick. They may have shown up after I left but I don’t think so they just didn’t seem interested.

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I think this seal was a little girl. Once she fell asleep she was unconcerned about the lack of care or the problems of the human world.

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What looks clumsy on land makes seals acrobats in the water.

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The seal checks me out as I check her out. You can see the city street behind us. In many areas the Bay Trail is close to city streets and highways.

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Begrudgingly I left to go home missing one of my afternoon appointments but what a story and experience.

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It was an extremely windy day going home with gusts up to 26 miles an hour making whitecaps on the water. The wind surfers were out in force if you look closely you can see them “making air” with San Francisco in the background. I almost got blown off of my bike and had quite a workout!

Seals showing up in people’s yards and in city streets is just a part of the spring season when they have pups and seek out places to keep them safe not realizing these places are inhabited. There was a story on TV this week about a small California fur seal pup being found in a front yard in Fremont. This young seal is the same kind.

It was such a precious experience yesterday, one I could never have had without my bicycle. I’ve seen the sea lions that hang around Fisherman’s Wharf but never see the seals especially up close. I’ll never forget this day and hope the young, unnamed seal is swimming in the bay and happy.

My videos from my cell phone aren’t the best but I uploaded the seal videos I took to YouTube. Check them out on my channel.

Marine Mammal Rescue Center, 415-289-7325 (seal), you should be ashamed of yourselves! Telling us you would send someone out and then not following up. At the very least, you could have called me back to update the situation. There’s no excuse.

When the wind works against you get a sail.

My Story Can Be Yours

Biking on the Bay Trail every other day I never know what to expect when I look across the water to San Francisco. Every day is different. Depending on the weather or smog it can be so clear that I can see people waving at me from Fisherman’s Wharf, or it can disappear completely. Yesterday, as you can see by my photo it was a crystal clear day.

The first day of spring is today, it’s raining and for me an off day. Spring showers bring May flowers and I’m not complaining California is still recovering from a harsh drought. We need it and there’s a good chance tomorrow the sun will be out.

I’ve only been biking again since February 20th. I used to bike in 2013 but I let life get in the way like it’s prone to do sinking into depression and my living room chair. I gained more weight and almost hit 200 pounds. Every time I went to the doctor my heart rate would hit the hundreds and my blood pressure was terrible. I wasn’t on any medications yet but that was only pure luck. I looked and felt awful.

My father smoked and had adult onset Diabetes which runs in my family. He was a champion wrestler in his time but that didn’t help him in his late 50’s he was fat and depressed. My mother was an alcoholic and chain smoker that kept her thin and never worked out. They both were on meds (my father shot insulin) before their time and my mom had several bouts of cancer and illness. I’m sad to say they have both passed away earlier than they had to only because they didn’t care about their health and got sick.

Because of my parents habits when I lived at home I never put a cigarette in my mouth or had a thought to do so it’s a dirty habit. I was a moderate drinker of alcohol and never overweight. We walked to and from school as kids and grew up in a different time. I liked activities like horseback riding, hiking, outdoor roller skating, and was active throughout my life. I think these things helped me until my knees failed me.

Around 2005, an old knee surgery finally came back to haunt me so badly that even my good knee finally gave up. I was diagnosed with windswept knees and my right knee hurt so bad I was put on powerful pain killers. I had no idea! Muscle relaxers came next and before long I was hooked. I could walk with a cane but it didn’t feel good anymore so I avoided it. I ate junk food if I ate at all and was too thin. I was unhealthy, drugged up and not happy. Something had to give and it did.

One day in 2010, I got up and told my friend I was tired and going back to bed. He was going to work and decided to change his shoes. He came into the bedroom to change them and found me on my back with vomit coming out of my mouth. He checked my pulse and couldn’t find one. It had only been minutes.

Long story short they shocked me back to life on the way to the ER and put a central line in me. My lungs were full of vomit and one of them collapsed. I was in a drug induced coma for 2 days and 3 days later I woke up not remembering a thing. It wasn’t an overdose and they never found out why it happened. It should have been a wake-up call.

I finally started gaining weight. I wasn’t doing anything with my life and felt like a loser. Late in 2013, I decided to go into the drug clinic and pare down the huge dose of drugs I was still on. I stopped the muscle relaxers completely and got weaned down to a tiny dose of pain meds. I was functioning again and started writing daily. I dragged out my 30-year old bicycle which had been in storage and started riding it on the Bay Trail. I started feeling pretty good and began to have hope that I’d lose some weight.

I still wasn’t doing the right things so it didn’t work and I lost faith. I still felt my life sucked and ballooned up to almost 200 pounds. I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror and developed vertigo. My depression was so bad I got put on antidepressants. I was still a mess lost interest in everything and my bike gathered dust.

The summer of 2015, I was so tired of the psych meds I stopped taking them. I put a Sky Swing on my patio and I enjoyed swinging on it. I would kick my feet and swing on it like a regular swing and I noticed my waist got a little smaller. I was intrigued and using the foot rest that came with it made up some exercises. I used weights in my hands and it would swing me like a pendulum. I was feeling much better.

October 11th I bought a Jawbone UP3 health band. I went on a health kick connecting it to MyFitnessPal and started a 1,200 calorie a day diet. I started losing weight. I have always loved vegetables, fruits and good food so it was no problem to start eating them again. My goals were to move 3,500 steps a day and to sleep 7 and 1/2 hours a night. Even though I was in pain I made a point to walk every aisle at the grocery store and to move more. My insomnia went away with a normal bedtime and sleep tips like keeping the room cool and dark. I read before I go to sleep and sleep like a baby. It was all starting to come together the weight was pouring off.

February 20th, (2016) I got my bike out and using MapMyFitness made a goal to ride it every other day. The first day I rode it 5.96 miles! I always enjoyed riding my bike on the Bay Trail and I was ready for it. I am totally addicted to it now and if the weather is bad I still go as long as it’s not pouring. I have been baptized by rain on the trail already and I felt energized by the experience. Each day I just get stronger and go further.

The first day of spring is here, I’ve lost over 35 pounds and still have 20 pounds to go but I know I can do it. My applications are connected I log my meals and workouts and they do the rest. My UP3 band gives me my heart rate and sleep info and I have never felt better emotionally or physically. I can even walk better. I write poetry again and look forward to my life. I enjoy my diet and never feel hungry. I still need knee replacement but I’m ready for that too.

Now I want to share this with you! I am going to have all kinds of bike and health related articles, recipes of mine and share my photographs I take while biking the trail. I hope to hear your stories and maybe together we can make things happen for you too. I did it alone but you don’t have to.

Without effort, there is no reward!