Category Archives: Personal stuff

A long day for Kevin (and the family)

kevin_surgery_trio

It started out like any other day. Up at 5:30am, quick shower, drive Kevin to Kaiser for brain surgery. That’s pretty typical, right? Thought so.

Seriously, there’s not much worth getting up that early for, other than having to catch an early flight to someplace REALLY special (and even then I’d spend a fair number of $$$ more to catch a later flight) or maybe having to drive a couple hours to a bike century. Maybe. In general, I’d try to find a hotel closer so I could get an extra hour of sleep.┬áBut it’s not every day you get to have your skull sawed open, get 80 electrodes placed directly on top of your brain, seal it back up and then settle in for a painful week at the hospital.

Why would anyone do that? In Kevin’s case, it’s an opportunity to try and reduce the severity, maybe eliminate entirely, his epilepsy seizures. The process is so simple! Do what I described above, slowly withdraw the meds that try to control his seizures, then massively document the brain activity associated with the seizures that ensue. After a week of this, the data is analyzed and a decision made to either replace, er, I mean, remove the tiny part of the brain that’s sending out the seizure signals (which is hopefully identified by all those electrodes) or implant an electronic gadget that analyzes, in real time, brain wave data. When it detects a seizure about to start, it creates an anti-seizure to stop it in its tracks.

The procedures aren’t terribly risky, but it’s still quite an investment in time (a month off the bike and away from work) and money (even with insurance, the co-pays are going to add up). But considering what’s involved, any co-pay is pretty insignificant and one really has to consider how fortunate Kevin is to be born into a family that can afford insurance and the other costs involved.

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Fastest ride up Kings in 10 months; 60 year old working to turn back the clock. But how far?

Unrelated to the main story, more for entertainment, the video shows a driver with a death wish at the base of 84 in Woodside. The truck ahead of the car clearly had its turn signal (for a right-hand turn at the base of the hill), and yet the car... well, you just gotta watch the video.

Strava, unfortunately, knows all. You can’t hide from the truth. You get older, you get slower. Unless… unless you were leaving something on the table before, leaving room for improvement that can take you past where you were before, even though you’re getting older.

Obviously this isn’t the sort of thing a younger person thinks about. It’s tied to that sense that you’re on a downhill slide; that feeling that your best years are behind you. You start to think about things you used to do, that you can’t anymore. But, while the long-term trend is not stoppable, you can, even at 60, have a better year than you did at 59. That is my plan. The past few weeks, I’ve finally seen evidence that it’s possible. My times up Kings are gradually improving, with today’s 28:22 being my best since June 16th last year. My ride Sunday up Old LaHonda was my best since July 5th last year, and West Alpine, best since June 21st last year.

So on the one hand, I could be depressed about my best cycling years behind me, but the real truth is, it still may be possible to turn back the clock a year or two.

Am I denying my own mortality? Sure. Maybe. Is it unhealthy? The opposite I think, as it encourages me to take a bit better care of my body, watch my weight more closely (this winter it had kicked up a few pounds more than I should have let it) and believe in the numbers.

Numbers. It’s all about numbers, isnt’ it? Strava times are obvious. Other numbers came from my breathing test, which showed, even though I didn’t notice it, a significant improvement using an albuterol inhaler. I never got that albuterol “buzz” or any other feeling that it was actually doing something, so I quit using it a while after it was initially prescribed a few years ago. But my test last month showed, at least in the lab, that it should help. After going back on the stuff, establishing a routine and making it part of the plan, I’m seeing my Strava numbers improve as well.

How far can I take this? Not too. I’ve still got an addiction to chocolate that limits my weight loss, and the limited amount of time I can ride doesn’t allow for the type of training that would really do me good (hard rides occasionally, not all the time, because easier rides would be added into the mix).

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