The Awakening

Published on January 6, 2016
Richard Battles / Author

So the biggest event for ME in 2015 was I got AFib, what the hell is AFib?

Richard, Andy, Susan, Kathy

Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly (quiver) instead of beating effectively to move blood into the ventricles.

Anything that allows blood to slow down, or pool increases the risk of clotting, and so increases the risk of stroke. If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results.

How the hell do you even know you got it?

Kathy and I are cyclists, and we even purchased a Tandem in September 2014.
I also do a three day a week 17-mile loop with my friend Andy. Andy is 50ish and I am 68. This is what I want, … Someone to push me.

You can ride “off of your speed”, “just how you feel”, “power output”, “wattage output”, or “heart rate”. Personally I ride off my HR (heart rate)

So back in September of 2014 I bought a new Bluetooth heart rate monitor that worked with my iPhones Cyclemeter app as I wanted one that worked on my iPhone and my Polaris watch was giving me strange readings (start paying attention here)

This new BT (Bluetooth) monitor saved every ride I did. Ride Time, Distance, Average Speed, Fastest Speed, Ascent, Descent, Calories, and of course maximum heart rate and average heartrate.

So after using the new monitor for a while I was having trouble with connectivity and it was giving me strange readings like a low HR of 45 or 50 when climbing and 220 when going downhill. 220 by the way is a totally off the charts number for a 68-year-old man or almost anyone for that matter.

So the damn thing was broken, right? So I stopped using a monitor at all for about six months. (Paying attention here?)

Then Andy started really dropping me (Dropping is a rider riding away with no response from you) and I could not respond. I did not say anything as I was embarrassed.

Then in 2015 we started riding with Andy and his wife Susan on a regular basis on the tandems when we started it seemed we were going to kick ass but then they started dropping us on the tandem! The last thing you want to tell the “stoker” The rider on the back that can only peddle and be power for the machine is “you are not peddling hard enough”.

But on one ride when we should have been in the lead they were peddling away again and I told Kathy “I can feel you peddling hard baby, I have nothing, I’m sorry”. And life went on with nothing said.

Then in April of 2015 I started using the BT monitor again but it was still radical. One day in early May on my singles bike ride with Andy I got dropped badly and when I finally got back to the garage at home I was livid about my poor performance! Please understand, I did not feel bad in anyway, I just had no power output.

Now Andy knows I am a competitive person and he looked concerned.

This is at the top of Coleman Valley climb in the Grand Fondo 1.9 miles, 18% … straight up! And a photo of my Vineman experience.

I try not to be a crybaby.

I said, first off, this monitor is a piece of shit! Trying to blame a monitor for my poor physical ability.

Kathy said, so try your Polaris and THAT ONE was crazy also. So she said ok, try mine. Well guess what, hers was broken also. (Paying attention here?).

Here is where my life as I know it changed forever.

Andy, standing in the driveway in his spandex and bicycle helmet on looked me straight in the eye and said:

“I am NOT riding with you anymore until you see your doctor”.

I emailed my doctor and he referred me to a cardiologist and blood tests the next day! So I go in for the EKG and after the tech is finished he says, “Wait here I want the Cardiologist to see this right away”.

This is not going well at all. He returns and says “he wants you to see your doctor right away.”
This is not going well at all.

My doctor’s office is two doors down, I go in and to the counter with no appointment and tell the receptionist the story and hand her the test chart. She looked at the chart for less than 2 seconds and said “I will get you in now”.

This is not going well at all.

So my doctor reviews the chart and makes an appointment with my now new Cardiologist.

Jonathan Addison Peng, MD Specialty: Cardiology. This is an actual photo of my new doctor …. He’s a KID!!!!

I went in for a Cardioversion, that’s where they ZAP you with the paddles and actually stop your heart for a beat or two and it kicks you back into rhythm and it worked.

So I’m on the table, cables tubes and wires everywhere and the stickers with the electric whatever’s is not sticking so a nice nurse has to shave my hairy chest so they can hook me up.

Then the anesthesiologist is there and he asks me how much I drink.

Huh? Who cares how much I drink? I said you see that chart over there that says how many drinks per evening you should have? He says yeah, I says quadruple that amount.

He rolls his eyes and I look at the clock and its 9:27.

Next this I hear I hear … MR BATTLES! MR BATTLES! I open my eyes and its 9:55 …. It’s over, done, finished in a flash,

I have never been knocked out like that in my life! All I know is I have two big red marks on my chest.
I am now AFib free. KINDA.

The KINDA is I am on blood thinners now forever, IF the AFib comes back and IF I get a blood clot it could
be curtains for me.

But Andy is back and Kathy and I are riding just as before. We actually never stopped riding.
I never got a really good answer on how you know you got it except when you go in for a checkup.
After drilling him more and not accepting his answer he finally said,
“Will one of the signs is you would lose 10 to 20 percent of your power output”.

Here I come Andy!!!!!

Richard Battles

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