Over the next 2 and half days I was poked, prodded, and tested by a wonderful medical staff at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. Drs. Herbert Day and Carson Webb did a super job looking me over.
The good news, according to them, was that all heart related tests indicated that I had not had a heart attack and my heart was in good shape. The bad news: I did have a very high sodium level, an extremely elevated blood pressure, and some other slightly out of whack blood test results.
The test report was somewhat confusing since I had a very comprehensive examination, including heart stress test, just prior to leaving on this bicycle adventure, and everything was quite normal. As a matter of fact, I had felt perfectly good during our one week ride in Montana and the first week or so in Alaska. Sooooo, the big question was, ‘What had happened to me during the last week or two?’ The doctors told me that the high sodium and very high blood pressure could mimic a stress heart condition, but other than that, they just didn’t know what had caused the rapid change in my body.
Bottom line: Both doctors recommended that I stop the ride, return home, and let my personal physicians try to sort things out.
After talking with Tom, and my wife, I reluctantly decided to take everyone’s advice. It was a difficult decision because I didn’t want to leave Tom high and dry in the middle of Alaska. Fortunately, this problem was solved when we were able to hook up with Menno, our new friend from the Netherlands, as he was currently in Fairbanks. He agreed to modify his route slightly so he and Tom could do most of the remainder of the ride together. My wife was already stressed out as she had to pick up and go to Wisconsin and help her brother through a heart bypass operation, and my continuing the ride would not have been good on her.
We, and our ‘stuff’, had been staying at the Bridgewater Hotel, in downtown Fairbanks, during our time here. It was a beautiful hotel more reminiscent of something seen along a Florida beach. They were very helpful and provided a secure place to store our bicycles.
The hotel was replacing all of their TVs, so I was able to secure several of the boxes and Tom and I boxed up my bicycle and gear for a return flight home. Leaving was certainly difficult for me. Stopping in the middle of the ride was hard, but even more difficult was having to admit that, at age 68, I had started something that I could not finish. On the morning of Day 28, we put my 2 boxes of ‘stuff’ in the back of a pick up truck taxi cab, all three of us said our ‘Goodbyes’, and off I went to the airport. Tom and Menno were heading off the next day to continue the ride.
At this point I need to apologize to those of you who were following my blog during the trip for taking so long to finish the entries. So many of you have contacted me to inquire about the trip and offered prayers of support when learning of my problems, and for this I am eternally grateful. Between my health getting back to normal and me needing to mentally process all that had taken place I was not able to finish the ‘write ups’ until recently. In a followup blog I will discuss some of the follow up doctor findings.
Again, a big thank you to all who contacted me both during and after the ride. Yes, THANK YOU!