Thursday, October 31, 2013

Life - Intravenously

I should preface this post with the disclaimer that I recently received a drug that impairs judgment and other things. I was told, for example, not to make any critical decisions today. I shouldn't drive, shouldn't decide where to invest all my millions, I shouldn't go bombing down a switchback descent.

Okay, I just added the last one.

Anyway in the world of "critical decisions" blog posts rank pretty low so I figured that while I'm not doing much of anything I could write a blog post. Don't worry, there are things relative to cycling in this post.

First, let me point out that I got my guts checked, so to speak. After my mom passed away from colon cancer, after her father passed away from it, there was definitely a family history. So I've been getting checked since 2003. Yes, I was a young'un at the time. And yes they found a (benign) polyp.

My trip this time didn't contain anything super unexpected. Another polyp (I'll find out later its status but at this point the doctor is confident it's benign), a woozy day, stuff like that.

Yesterday was a bit of a pain, of course. The "cleansing". I ended up super fatigued and feeling pretty chilly, two things that happen to me when I don't eat enough and (apparently) when my digestive system gets super stressed.

This morning I woke up early. Incredibly I didn't feel hungry, just overwhelming fatigue. I took the opportunity to weigh myself without any non-essential stuff on my body, the closest to "empty" as I'll ever get.

167.5 lbs.


Not bad but higher than I expected. Whatever, it is what it is. Having hit the first Bethel as 181 pounds the 167.5 was much better. My goal is to get down a bit more. In 2010 I started the season in the 155-158 pound range. To replicate that means ten more pounds.

I watched the Missus change Junior. He had two of his blankets with him and seemed pleasantly cozy on his changing table. He'd gone to sleep an hour earlier than normal yesterday and it seems like it helped.

Junior with bed head and stretching and yawning.

We headed over to the procedure location (not a hospital), the heat blasting and the seat heater on high. After checking in I ended up on a bed, with very nice nurses asking me a battery of questions and clicking and typing stuff into a computer.

During one of the questioning breaks I looked up over my head at my vitals. 107/71 blood pressure. 41-44 bpm resting rate. After talking a bit with the doctor it was 53 bpm, so the 41-44 was when I was really resting. It wasn't as low as the mid-30s I registered during a different exam so I'm not officially super fit.

The anesthesiologist came by and asked me some questions. Apparently they were going to give me propofol, the Michael Jackson drug if you will. I asked if this was less powerful than the drugs I'd been given before. Nope, that's what you got each time.


After changing into nothing - I mean, seriously, who counts a gown that doesn't  close in back, it's like pulling on one of those podium-only leader's jerseys but without doing up the back - a nurse came by to stick an IV in me. She talked about a catheter. My face must have shown some alarm as she explained that it's not that kind of a catheter, this one goes in my arm.

Now, as someone who's fascinated by all the various doping stories and such, such a moment represented the closest I'd get to experiencing anything like what I read about: an IV, a saline bag, and then other stuff injected into the line.

I admit that I'm ultra scared around needles. Okay, not scared, but needles that go into my body, not very good. The nurse had to put the IV in my wrist area because my normally reliable network of puffed up veins had all collapsed due to me chills, lack of food, and sort of dehydration.

I won't say I passed out because I didn't but the nurse kept asking me over and over how I felt, they lowered my head, and a few minutes later she said, "Okay, the color is starting to return to your face." So although I didn't pass out I came really close.

This (typical) reaction to a needle would have been a huge impediment to any hardcore doping.

Then the nurse started a saline drip, to help hydrate my dehydrated self. My wrist got cold, then my forearm. Tyler Hamilton mentions this in his book the Secret Race and so I decided that this would be my lap in a F1 car, my chance to get chilled just like a doping pro.

To save you all the effort you can replicate the sensation by getting in your car when it's about 40 or 50 degrees, getting up to about 30 mph, and sticking your hand and forearm out the window. Count to, oh, let's make it 50. 80 or 100 if you're counting really fast. You get chilled to the bone but the rest of your body is warm enough.

Still, though, to rush through this because you know the WADA vampires are going to be knocking on your hotel door to take your blood and you're trying to get your hematocrit down a couple points so you don't get busted, I can't imagine trying to rush this process. I wonder if WADA testers check the temperature of the subject's arms and legs - getting a "speed bag" of saline solution, to push down the hematocrit, would really chill an already tired/exhausted rider's arm or leg.

A nurse then took my glasses away, just before another nurse wheeled my bed into The Room. I was wholly impressed with her bed driving skills as she navigated a number of turns without loosing the far end of the bed, even drifting a bit as we rounded a wide corner.

When we got into The Room a second nurse, one I hadn't noticed, stepped away from above my head, the other side of the bed. So much for the skillful bed driving.

I think the nurses asked me a bunch of questions to keep me distracted. I had already pointed out that I can't see a thing without my glasses so the nurses joked that now they'd look like soft airbrushed models. I didn't want to tell them they just looked like blobs to me so I didn't.

They asked me if I really was a stay-at-home dad, something the doctor told them when he walked into The Room. I confirmed that and they asked what it was like. I told them it was really great to spend time with our son ("How old is he?" "Nineteen months" "Oh, that's so sweet!"). The nurse handling my IV mentioned her husband makes their daughter lunch. I asked how old the daughter was (remember, everyone was an identity-less blob so I couldn't even guess anyone's ages).

"17 years old."

And he makes her lunch? Maybe I misunderstood the age, I don't know.

I replied that I make Junior breakfast and lunch each day but one thing that really surprised me is that I seem to vacuum every day.

The nurse handling my IV asked me if I was serious. Yes, I was, I vacuum all the time. Then asked me to marry her.

She held my hand even.

How sweet.

Then she started the knock out drug.

My vein burned like mad, like really bad, and the nurse tightened her grip on my hand. Another nurse actually grabbled my feet. I think they thought I was going to try and roll over or something. They said it would ease but, man, it hurt and hurt and hurt.

Then I woke up. A room with more light than The Room. Someone talking to me.

And drifted back to sleep.

And woke up.

The doc came by. He told me he was going to explain things again since I didn't seem very awake the first time.

The Missus was there as well so she got to listen to the instructions which I generally forgot, except that I can't drive, can't make critical decisions, and some other stuff.

We got home and, believe it or not, that's where my memory starts getting fuzzy. I know Junior was asleep when we got here but I don't remember him waking up or how he got downstairs or who changed him. Or if he was even changed.

The Missus was at work so her mom, visiting for a bit, drove Junior and myself to his daycare. Junior has been making huge strides forward there, getting used to his new room (they move up as they get older and gain more skills), eating nicely at the table. He waited for his food, resting his forearms on the table, like the little guy he is. He started picking out food from his lunch container, mozzarella first, ham sandwich for later.

At that point we left, him waving hesitantly goodbye. He knows he'll stay there but he still gets this worried look on his face when I leave him.

Now for some rest, some eating. The Missus will pick up Junior. He'll be running around and happy and pointing at things and telling me it's the ball or deedee (kitty or doggie) or moo (cow) or "pi-" (pig minus the "g") or do a Beavis & Butthead evil chuckle when we put some good food in front of him.

Tomorrow life will return back to normal. I got my IV. I got my slow speed bag. I got my propofol.

And I'm glad I don't have to do that stuff all the time.

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