My life is going down the toilet…

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I decided to take the week off after all that hard work last Sunday.  It was the most miles I’ve ever ridden and the second hottest ride I’ve ever encountered (see Purpose versus Suffering), so I wasn’t sure how my body would respond in the aftermath.

Not convinced quite yet, the kid and I went to the gym on Tuesday…where I thoroughly exhausted myself…again…Thankfully, I listened to the Little Voice this time and stayed home the rest of the week.

Today, having consumed way more calories than expended over the weekend, I headed to the gym with the kid once again. Feeling a little tired, I forced myself to push through the fatigue and kept insisting I could go further and push harder…until SVT told me it was time to stop (see Thank you Pearl and f**k you heart!). Climbing down from the ARC Trainer and finding a bench to sit on where I could bear down and gain some control, it didn’t resolve after a few minutes. I remembered reading an article about SVT that suggested plunging your face into ice water (and was actually confirmed by a cardiologist) would help and considered asking the employees…but how does one explain to an 18-year-old thumbhead what SVT is as you’re having an attack, let alone figure out where they can get ice…the water in the fountain isn’t even cold…

So I walked to my car and blasted the air conditioning while bearing down in an attempt to stop the frantic beating. At this point, my body was bouncing off the back of the seat – from experience, I knew my heart rate was well over 250bpms. I quickly texted the kid, who came to the car and asked me what to do. As luck would have it, there’s an urgent care next door to the gym (the same one I went to the week before the cancer ride).

Because Doherty’s don’t do sick, I insisted on driving to the end of the parking lot despite the kid’s argument that she should be the one driving (yes, I’m an idiot). I parked the car, walked across the back lawn with the kid in tow, entered the building, cut in front of several people straight to the reception desk, told the nurse I was having an SVT attack and demanded oxygen. I suddenly remembered the first time I had an attack that was this uncontrollable and caused me to go to the emergency room – I was seven months pregnant with the kid. At that time, the nurses thought I was having a panic attack and gave me oxygen, which immediately brought me out of the attack.

First came the medical assistant who took my vitals. Then came the nurse who suggested I bear down. Then came the doctor who told me he was calling 911 because my heart rate was so high he couldn’t, by law, treat me at their facility. I again insisted that oxygen would help, to which they surrendered. Within seconds my heart found its rhythm and within minutes the EMTs were in the room taking vitals and trying to convince me to go to the local emergency room. Of course, all I wanted to do was get in the car and drive myself home (right…because Doherty’s don’t do sick), so I tried to convince them that the kid could just drive me home, to which they conceived of any and every medical crisis that could occur in the car on the way home. Although not feeling the love at the time, thankfully my daughter bought each and every scenario, hook, line and sinker and refused to take me in the car. So I got to experience my very first ambulance ride…and I wept over my “weakness.”

As all this is happening, I kept telling the kid, “Don’t call daddy!” It was Father’s Day. All the hubby wanted was a peaceful day (i.e. no arguments), a nap and some barbecued burgers. As I was being admitted to the ER, I finally called him. I was crushed that the father of our daughter would be spending his day at the hospital – a place we’ve both grown to loathe. Without hesitation, the hubby was by my side, relieving the kid of her duties.

I hated being there. For me, hospital is where you go to die…slowly…surrounded by people who don’t love you or who seem to care about the end result. I know many doctors and nurses, so I know that’s not reality, but that’s how it feels when you’re there. I just wanted to leave before the toe tags were handed out…

The hubby didn’t get that nap, but at least there were no arguments and he ultimately got his burgers.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Fighting back the Little Voice, I reluctantly got back in the saddle, but not without reminding myself to move slow and steady, drink LOTS of water and stop when any signs of SVT suddenly appeared. Heading to my go-to place, I was comfortable with its familiarity and knew there would be a number of people who could help if something went wrong. Not in training and having nowhere else to be, I stopped whenever I saw something interesting, compelling myself to just enjoy the moment – what a relief.

And nothing happened…

Wrapping up crew season…

Forgotten stairs…

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Ghostly visitors…

Part of the path that wasn’t muddy…

Passing this sign hundreds of times, I wondered who in the world was Maria Barnaby Greenwald and why did she have a park named after her. With a little research, I come to find that Mrs. Greenwald was the first woman Surrogate in Camden County and a former mayor of Cherry Hill who died in a car accident 22 years ago. She was only 54-years-old.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Feeling terrible about Father’s Day, I spent the week plotting a “Father’s Day Do-Over.” With the plan to buy a card on the way home from the gym last week (which obviously didn’t happen), I bought the hubby a card. Considering all the Father’s Day cards were already on the trash pile, I bought a blank one so that I could say whatever I wanted. One of my husband’s favorite sayings (of Polish origin) is “not my circus, not my monkeys” – basically, it’s not my problem. Over the past couple of years, this saying has been heard frequently in our house. And then I discovered there was a circus coming to town!

The plan was to make shakshuka while the hubby went to synagogue so that he had breakfast waiting upon his return. Then I would give him the card and tell him to hurry up and eat in order to make the 1:00pm show. Afterwards, we’d have whatever dinner he desired.

Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht  – Man Plans and God Laughs…

There is a toilet poltergeist that has attached itself to me and my husband since day one. We’ve had issues with clogged and overflowing toilets for over 25 years. I think it’s time to call in the exorcist…

Before leaving for synagogue, the hubby decided to wash a load of clothing, as I performed my morning rituals, which included cleaning the litter box in the room next to the laundry room. And then I heard the water – splashing loudly…gushing…the toilet had backed up AGAIN and was overflowing everywhere. In usual fashion, I freaked out and demanded every towel we owned to stopped the flow of water. As I cleaned up the raw sewage, the hubby called the water company…twice…and then we waited for the plumber…for three hours…and then I cried…several times. I think the hubby thought I was losing my mind – until I gave him the card and told him about my plans for the day.

Needless to say, the hubby didn’t get his shakshuka and we didn’t get to the circus, only to learn there were roots growing into our sewer pipes and would continue to clog the line until the day it doesn’t unclog, at which time we rip up the sidewalk, the yard and possibly the front porch and/or the entire downstairs looking for the location of said roots…In the end, we had fend-for-yourself dinner.

I’m not giving up…we will have a Sunday fun day…some day…

“I’ve been washed down the sink of your conscience
In the theater of your love I lost my part
And now you say you’ve got me out of your conscience
I’ve been flushed from the bathroom of your heart”

Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart – Johnny Cash

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump

 

 

 

Committing to the challenge…

Monday, June 5, 2017

With full-fledged acceptance, I dragged my sorry-ass respiratory infected body to the local urgent care with the goal of obtaining any kind of antibiotic money could possibly buy (or bribe). First, I was told it was allergies, “Are you taking your Claritin?”

I must digress for a moment here…if you’re a nurse and/or doctor of any kind, never tell me “it’s allergies.” The last time a doctor said “it’s allergies” and lived to talk about it was so far off the mark, he’s lucky to still be alive (my hubby the lawyer, not me, required murderous restraint). The diagnosis of “it’s allergies” 25 years ago ended up being a rare neurological condition that went undetected for over two years, nearly causing permanent blindness and leaving me suffering from chronic tinnitus to this day, all of which could have been resolved if identified sooner. And because of the delay in diagnosis, I went through 6 years of physical and mental hell that should never have happened to begin with…

Okay, back to that urgent care visit…

Suppressing a primal scream, I informed the nurse practitioner that she was wrong (I know, I know – nurses and doctors love hearing that as much as lawyers being told they’re wrong about the law – just ask my hubby the lawyer). At 52-years-of-age, I think I know the difference between allergies and illness. And, yes, I’m taking my Claritin…

Little voice: “Umm…honey, would you like for me to hock up one of the giant balls of florescent yellow mucous oozing from my lungs?”

Convincing her that it wasn’t my allergies, I was then told it was “viral,” therefore, antibiotics would not guarantee a cure. Fully aware of this fact, I proceeded to tell the nurse practitioner about my impending cancer ride – how I had waited two years and trained for six months to honor my brother…my big brother…my only brother who had died of cancer. I was willing to take the chance of spending the money and accepting the possibility of not getting better by June 11th. My pleading worked…

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

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…but the antibiotic didn’t (serves me right) and the kid ended up with the cooties I had inherited from the hubby. Despite our collective hacking away, my daughter managed to graduate high school without a hitch. Promising to walk like Zoidberg down the procession line after receiving her diploma, the kid chickened out at the last minute, but she did wear the bow tie we’ve been hearing about for four years. I also managed to get a hand-burning high five on the way out.

Friday, June 9, 2017

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With Shabbat upon us, I prepared Ole Bessie for the Bridge to the Beach ride. Sitting in her corral, she anxiously awaited the long haul ahead…

After Michael died in 2015, I planned to do this ride last June, but it fell on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Gravely disappointed, I occasionally checked the ACS website throughout 2016, waiting for the official date in 2017. Flashback to January 20th (“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…”) when “I committed myself to the challenge…” June 11th was free and clear, no excuses…and then the hubby decided to share his cooties with me five days before the ride…

Sunday, June 11, 2017 – Bridge to the Beach

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So, in true Doherty fashion, I ignored the fact that I was still sick and packed up Ole Bessie. This ride is going to happen no matter what

On January 20th, I wrote about being nervous. Admittedly, I was nervous right up to the second I hopped onto Ole Bessie at the starting point.IMG_20170611_063519795_HDR

Studying the route prior to departure, I discovered the entire length would be about 54.4 miles and that all four rest stops were more than 10 miles apart as noted on the ACS website. No problem – most of the route comprised mostly of flat terrain (if it was “a hill,” it was most likely an overpass). And having practiced riding more than 10 miles at a time over the past couple of months, getting to each rest stop would be a piece of cake.

Although Kathy wasn’t with me this time, I’d gotten used to riding alone these past few months. Besides, she sent me a message telling me to “Enjoy the ride!” with a silly cycling animation attached – she was with me in spirit. And I was ready – I had everything on my checklist formulated and completed through trial and error over the past six months all tucked away in one of two packs and/or the pack on my back.

I reminded myself of Jeremy’s advice: “Take your time. Don’t start in Philly – the bridge is a clusterf**k! Stay as far right as possible. Don’t stop at the first rest stop – too many people stop there and wear out their welcome…” Aside from stopping at the first rest stop (it really wasn’t that bad), I obeyed each word of longstanding wisdom.

As I pushed off and turned right out of the school parking lot, a wave of calm came over me. This was it…this was actually happening…

Over the highway and past the seemingly infinite span of malls, I pedaled down unexplored roads weaving through the countryside – small towns with tiny churches and houses sprinkled throughout, local farms growing seasonal crops and bustling Main Streets with busy intersections – just taking in every moment and stopping to smell the roses…slow and steady…

I pretty much had gotten over any fear of getting lost at this point. Riding back roads I didn’t even know existed, I decided to reprint the route directions of each section between rest stops onto small laminated note cards that fit neatly inside my front pack. At each stop, I would pull out the next card and toss the prior one into my backpack, hence, no confusion. I also figured, as long as I can see a cyclist in front of me and another in my rear view mirror, I’m not lost…until I noticed there was no one in front of me and the man behind me suddenly disappeared. Quickly bringing up Google Maps, I realized the right onto Cooper Street had been missed. Not far off course, I turned around to hundreds of cyclists making the crucial right turn I had overlooked. That would be the only mistake made today…

All in all, I managed to get to the first rest stop after the first 13 miles and showed Kathy what she was missing in the snack department:

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For the most part, I wasn’t afraid of the “unknown.” I had made it to 52, remember?! And the hubby and the kid were scheduled to meet me at each rest stop prepared to bring me home if I didn’t feel up to finishing. On top of that, I wasn’t going to let my heart f**k this up. I’d gotten off the medication causing the heart palpitations and had managed to minimize any SVT attacks (although I will admit the fear of a repeat performance like the cemetery incident).

As my concern of “not making it” subsided with each passing mile, I found myself 11 miles later at the second rest stop…where I again showed Kathy what she was missing:

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As for the weather…it was hot. Thankfully starting my ride at 6:40AM (I cheated by five minutes – no one was looking), I evaded most of the heat…until now…I was feeling it. Temperatures were hovering in the high 90s…with no clouds to block the blazing sun…and no breeze to cool the body…it was hot…

By the third stop 11 miles later, I was toast:

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And the snacks weren’t worth showing off anymore…

And by the fourth stop, another 12 miles down the road after racing the planes taking off at the local airport…

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I think my face says it all…

With only 7 miles to go, I fought the Little Voice begging me to throw in the towel and straddled Ole Bessie one last time. After 47 miles there was no way I wasn’t going to finish. Besides, they were closing down the right lane of the Atlantic City Expressway East so we could ride straight into the city and onto the boardwalk – I wasn’t going to miss that for anything! (Those of you who have ever been on the ACE during the summer know how crazy this idea is.)

For 54.4 miles, I thought of Michael the entire way, occasionally fighting back tears. I thought about how long I had waited for this ride, how long I had trained for it and how it was finally happening. I thought about Michael’s pain as the sun burned my skin. I thought about the exhaustion he must have felt as the heat drained my body of fluids. I thought about how much I missed him…

I also thought about Regina, my Irish twin, and felt grateful that she had survived her own battle with breast cancer and had driven the 90-minute trek to celebrate my daughter’s high school graduation last Wednesday. I enviously thought about Kathy having retired much earlier than anticipated and was wandering the country with her husband of 34 years in their super duper RV…it was definitely a good reason to skip this ride. I thought of Maureen…and mom…and dad…and all the other people I had lost in my life these past years.

Believe it or not, the last 7 miles were the easiest. The end was near – I could see the silhouette of the casinos on the horizon as I flew down the entrance ramp to the Atlantic City Expressway. As a result of the lane closure, thousands of vehicles piled with “shoebies” lined the highway, bumper to bumper, waiting to get to the shoreline. Some cheered us on, while others patiently (and impatiently) prayed that their engines would not overheat.

Slowly climbing the ramp off Missouri Avenue and onto the Atlantic City Boardwalk, hundreds of people cheering our victory and thanking us for our support, I could no longer hold back the tears…

I committed myself to the challenge and had triumphed…

Later, we ran into some old friends we hadn’t seen for a number of years. Having done the cancer ride over the past seven years and normally starting at the bridge, they had decided to start in Cherry Hill, confirming that, indeed, Jeremy’s advice was spot on – the bridge is a clusterf**k.

January 20, 2017

“I have a feeling this ride’s going to be even better…”

…and so it was!

“Come on feet don’t fail me now
I got ten more miles to go
I got nine, eight, seven, six, eight, six
I got a five more miles to go”

25 Miles to Go – Edwin Starr

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump

Tis but a scratch!

Good Ole Bessie has returned from the shop and is feeling good!

Bessie

Not unlike the human body, I’m always amazed at how one “cause” can lead to multiple “ailments.” After struggling for a number of months, legs exhausted from what felt like pushing uphill the smallest of inclines with irritatingly loud squeaking and crunching rotations demanding my attention, all Bessie needed was a new chain and a brake adjustment. Gliding through space on Friday with that new chain sans noise blew me away…

Now, press that rewind button…

My husband came down with a nasty upper respiratory infection that reared its ugly symptom head last Monday. By mid-week, my germ-phobic brain took over…”Don’t even think about touching me with those cooties! And you can forget about trying to kiss me. Cough into your elbow, not your hand! Have you been washing your hands every time you blow your nose?! Get me sick and you will not escape my wrath!”

See, my daughter and I cannot afford to get sick this week. The kid graduates high school on Wednesday. It’s a day she’s been talking and dreaming about since the second grade (as far as memory will allow me to recall), the last four years being a re-creation of hell on earth…

I, on the other hand (also looking forward to all these years of elementary and secondary education coming to an end and quickly shoving itself way behind us), have My Gump Ride coming up one week from today. For you cyclists out there, you know riding when your lungs and sinuses are full of snot is not a pleasant experience. So imagine you’re riding the farthest you’ve ever ridden before and you’ve been training for over a year to ride for a cause that has deep personal meaning

Last Thursday I started feeling that lump in the back of my throat…

First stage – denial. Nope, not happening. It’s allergies. If I ignore it, it doesn’t exist.

Second stage – anger. How did this happen?! I’ve been wiping, sanitizing and washing religiously! It’s his fault, that husband of mine! All that coughing in his hand and blowing his nose and not washing and then touching every surface in the house. Why didn’t I buy that can of Lysol when I thought of it on Monday?!

Third stage – bargaining. Listen upper respiratory infection…I’m nipping you in the bud! That’s right, I’m going to CVS and buying every and any kind of over-the-counter drug money can buy and eradicate you from my body before you even have the chance to realize what hit you. Remember dude, Doherty’s don’t do sick! At the very least, could you just come back June 12th?!

Fourth stage – depression. Hanging with “Jeremy” at the bike shop while picking up Bessie, we commiserated about the times we’ve been let down from a ride due to circumstances beyond our control and not allowing us the perfectly planned ride. Feeling like a prom queen as Jeremy lovingly walked Ole Bessie to the car, hitching her to her rack, adjusting straps meticulously before sending me on my way home to ride Bessie after five days of separation, I tell him about my developing illness and fears of Ole Bessie flying off the back of my car on the highway while driving to the most important destination of my life. Jeremy assures me that, “You can do it!” and proceeds to tell me about the time he headed out to a day of mountain biking in the Poconos after a fellow employee neglected to lock the bike into the roof rack. Entering the ramp of Interstate 295 and accelerating speed, poor Jeremy glanced in the rearview mirror as his bike flew off the roof and tumbled down the highway. Gasping, clutching hand to mouth, I asked him, “Oh my god…did you cry?!” Quietly, “Jeremy” admitted, “Yes…like a baby…” This has been my fear over the past few weeks waiting for My Gump Ride…

Fifth stage – acceptance. It is what it is. You get what you get and you don’t get upset. I’m a Doherty dammit! This ride is going to happen no matter what. So, when you have a fever, you sweat it out, right? A bike ride when it’s 80 degrees with 80% humidity is the perfect remedy, right?! I’m going to sweat these cooties out of my body. This is nothing compared to what Michael suffered…I can do this!

And then I thought of something a South African psychologist co-worker with the perfectly schooled British accent once said to a group of friends, “Alice thinks she’s 20-years-old, despite her current situation.” I laughed…because I knew he was right. It was like laughing Death in the face. Yup…I don’t do sick…and I’m not giving up or giving in or allowing this ailing body to decide my fate…

…and this thought process all happened within 48 hours…

In customary (and habitually learned) fashion, my left foot stepped onto the left pedal as I attempted to mount Old Bessie. And, in customary (and habitually learned) fashion, as I swung my right leg over her saddle and pressed the three middle fingers of each hand on the brake levers, I felt a sudden halt, handlebars violently twisting to my right, throwing me backwards onto a concrete driveway…

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First thought: “Oh shit!”

Second thought: “Hurt me, not the bike!”

Third thought: “Oh shit…I’m gonna fall!”

Fourth thought: “Remember breaking your left hand?! DON’T put out your left hand dumbass!”

Fifth thought: “You forgot your bike gloves…”

Sixth thought: “Did anyone see that?!”

Seventh thought: “Alice thinks she’s 20-years-old…”

Eigth thought: “DANG! My brakes needed some serious adjustment!”

So what did I do? After a couple of f-bombs, I left all my gear (including my phone, bluetooth and iPod) in the driveway (thank you thieves for not stealing my stuff). I walked into the house clutching my left arm, wiggled my fingers, washed out the wound, asked my husband to bandage it, hopped on my bike and went for a ride to my go-to place…I’m a Doherty dammit!

“Look at me
Look at me
Driving and I won’t stop
And it feels so good to be
Alive and on top”

Handlebars – Flobots

“I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours.” – Forrest Gump