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It's been a while.

Unfortunately for me, cycling has taken a back seat to more pressing matters.

You see, all this time I was living with diabetes and it progressively got worse to a point where it started to affect my kidneys.

Things took a turn for the worse in June of 2017 when tests for an unrelated medical emergency revealed that my creatinine levels were off the charts at 11.6. This is exactly 11.6 times more than normal. So right then and there, I was forced to undergo my first hemodialysis session. To prevent seizures and basically stay alive, I had to go to the hospital three times a week for four to five hours at a time and get this treatment.

As you could probably imagine, this takes away much time from regular daily activities.  For me, that's mainly work and sadly, exercise. The process itself is somewhat painful as two really thick needles are inserted in veins in your arm before the process can even begin. Aside from needle insertions, the dialysis itself takes its toll on your body as it physically leaves it weakened and exhausted.

Getting on a bicycle was the last thing on my mind. Dialysis became my life for the next six months and I eventually got used to the routine. Right about that time was when I had the mental overhead to actually start missing Cycling.

I attempted to ride on weekends in between sessions. And while I enjoyed it, there were just too many things going on that it almost takes away the fun. Things like my fistula aching if I run over bumpy roads... or reminding myself constantly not to hydrate too much... or just the plain tiredness after pedaling short distances. I would say that the greatest toll on me was the overall psychological effect of knowing you can no longer do the things you know you can easily do before.

I stopped cycling altogether.

There had to be another way.

Fast forward to January 2018.  I was in the middle of an understandably bureaucratic and medically laborious process of qualifying for a transplant. I had to face arrays of medical exams, government clearances and psychological evaluations plus several panel interviews to boot. But in the end it was all worth it. I received an approval to have a kidney transplant.

On February 5, 2018 6:00am, I said my prayers and went to anesthetic sleep. The last thing I remember was my anesthesiologist small talking and how pretty my OR nurse was. By the same afternoon, I woke up in my room, all extremities bloated with all manner of tubes sticking out of different parts of my body.

Strangely, I felt.....normal. At least as normal as the Morphine would allow.

It was all good as my newly implanted kidney was working doubletime and I was up and about as far as the cables allowed.

When the morphine wore off reality sank in. I had an eight inch incision lined with staples in my lower abdomen. I can't get up from bed on my own and everything outside of breathing was gonna need to be done with assistance. I got out of the hospital after eight days.

The next few weeks saw me in isolation from the world. Immunosuppressant medicine made me susceptible to the most common of illnesses. I caught the colds from a relative and even when my doctor prescribed the very potent antibiotic Zithromax, it still took two weeks to go away. With books and a PS4 to keep me company, my recovery went faster than usual, thankfully.

I started to get out of bed on my own, slowly. Walking was my only exercise. Walk... to the fridge, then downstairs, then to the garage.  The doctors said I was progressing faster than expected. It was music to my ears! I knew cycling was just a matter of time...

Finally, one sweet day in April, I was cleared to do light exercise.

I'm not sure what my doctor had in mind but I immediately picked up the bike and went for a short ride around some familiar haunts. It was glorious! My new kidney was kicking it and I sweated like I never did before. A welcome side effect was a ten kilogram weight loss. My legs lost much of their power  and mass over the past few months but now they only had 72 kilos to push around. Everything started to feel better, even if it was difficult at first.

I loved that I was back.

After a couple of light steady rides, I realized that I needed to maintain steady exercise. To that end,
I decided to acquire an Elite Drivo interactive trainer and work out for at least an hour daily. This proved to be an excellent decision!

In combination with Zwift, I was handily doing trainer workouts in excess of an hour. Whereas previously, it was a chore to do an hour's work on a trainer, the virtual environs of Zwift took care of distracting my eyes during the workouts and its gamification of indoor rides kept me motivated.

Heck, as of this writing I already rode up a virtual Alpe d' Huez called Alpe du Zwift. Twice.

Virtual training helped me regain my strength. It even came to a point where I almost burnt out from chasing FTPs. But as fun as Zwift is, the road is where it's really at.

There were still a lot of things to mind in road rides. I should never, under any circumstance, be dehydrated. Some of my meds made me more prone to cancer so I had to double up on the sunscreen.

It was all worth it though. My only takeaways of this ordeal are some scars, minding healthy eating and constant exercise.  Everything that happened before seems like a distant memory.

I'm just glad that I'm back!

......and upped my FTP by 60%


Light Exercise


See you on the road!

-A


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