The big question was, ‘What happened that caused my health issues?’
Once returning to Montana my doctors began all sorts of tests: same results, and same answer. My sodium was too high, my blood pressure was too high, several other items were out of the normal range, my heart seemed to be fine, and no one knew what was causing all of this.
My personal physician is also a tri-athlete so he was very interested in what happened to me. We had some ‘at length’ discussions about the trip: diet, sleep, weather, road conditions, water intake, etc. His final thoughts were:
- contracted some type of virus
- the dried food meals had too much sodium for what my body was used to
- since much of the trip was cold and raining I was not sweating as much water through my system as needed to remove the excess sodium from the meals
- the food provided insufficient calories to keep the body sufficiently/properly fueled
- inadequate amount of ‘rest time’ during long & steep hill climbs
- the overall ride was too strenuous for me
- we may never know the true cause of the problems
I was advised to get plenty of rest, eat normally, watch my sodium intake (which I have always done), a get minimal (not strenuous) exercise, and come back in 30 days for a follow up. Plus, I was given several different medications to control blood pressure and help with the sodium levels.
Over the next 5 months I went back every month for another check up. It took awhile, but my sodium level gradually came down to normal, and my blood pressure has continued to decline. The doctor finally took me off of one medication and cut another one down by half. In his opinion, my blood pressure may or may not return to the ‘pre-ride’ levels, and I may require some type of blood pressure medication from now on.
Since finishing the trip I have continued either riding my Bacchetta bicycle outdoors (weather permitting) or riding the TerraTrike (on a set of rollers) indoors. For the first several months I continued getting stress pains in my chest if I pushed the exercise a little hard, but over time these gradually diminished until they no longer occur.
I would like to do another ride this summer, possibly from the Canada border to the Mexican border. At this point in time I am now able to get my heart rate up to 155-160 beats per minute for 3-4 minutes with no adverse affects. In addition to riding the trike indoors I have done several hour long outdoor rides and had no ill affects. Who knows? Anyway, I plan on continuing to train and plan and see how it all goes.
Thanks again, to all of you who have followed my ride(s) and inquired as to why the Alaska trip stopped so suddenly. Your thoughts and prayers were gratefully appreciated.
Take care, and talk at ya’ later. . . . . . Rick