Once we got home to Niagara-on-the-Lake I started feeling better... Lynnda who has not been a long distance driver in her entire life (unless you call an hour commute to the Oyster Pond from Halifax a long distance) drove the Touareg all the way from Little Rock, Arkansas where I had my surgery, to Niagara in 2.5 days... because I had basically laid back in the car's seat and rested for three days. The soreness wasn't as bad as I had expected from experience, and I healed quickly.
About three months was the limit that I had to go before I really started pushing myself. So, in April when I had some business to attend to in Little Rock with friends from Europe and from the Arkansas Heart Hospital... I decided to take my first bike ride post surgery. I did it with my friends Bruce Murphy and Bart Segers along the Arkansas River. What a great spot to ride, one of the most scenic I have had the pleasure to peddle. It felt great to be back in the saddle, even if the saddle was uncomfortable... strange bike, no padded riding pants, and a couple of guys who decided I was OK to keep up with them!
Well, since that day, I have been back on the bike a lot. I have done over fifteen 100 km or 100 mile days and continue to ride here in Mexico... although here at 5,000 feet, I am still not up to the Century rides... working on it!
So now looking back, my heart is every bit as strong as prior to the surgery. Back then, my aortic valve was starting to shut down again. That was a bovine aortic valve, and it served me very well... 11 years on a prosthesis was pretty good given the many extra heart beats I make it take on the rides. I think that the radiation and chemo along with the surgery did have a detrimental impact, but Edwards Lifesciences can be proud of the service that valve gave me.
It was appropriate I suppose that Dr. CD Williams would use a porcine calve this time... the University of Arkansas uses the Razorback (a hog) as it's mascot... and the Arkansas Heart Hospital is in HogLand. So I got a St. Jude's pig valve. It is the same size as my Edwards valve, but I am over 10 years older... and it really has given me new life. I had some arrhythmia, post surgery, so I have been on a beta blocker that takes care of the beats... but I have tried once to get off of it, and at my one year anniversary, I am going to try again... If I think I can... hard enough, maybe I can... will see.
Lynnda and I will be heading to Viet Nam and Cambodia with friends in February to do some cycling, ending up in Angkor Wat. It will be nine of the more memorable riding days I have ever had... the trip is with Backroads Cycling Tours and I think it will be a life changer for both Lynnda and for me. Being given the extra 12 years (by then) to live and to be able to spend time touring by bike is a great statement about modern medicine. I am truly blessed to be able to do it... I wish more people would. The guys and girls we are riding with in February are new cyclists, and I know it has helped them be healthy...
I ramble again...