Friday, September 16, 2016

Thank You




The older I get, the more that I realize and believe that it isn’t about me.  I believe that it isn’t about checking things off a bucket list.  I believe that it isn’t about accumulating external accolades.  I believe that it actually never was about me and it is not about you either.  So who or what is it all about?  I have come to believe that it is about the collective.  I believe that it is about everyone as a whole.  I believe that we are all one and that we are all part of this collective.  I believe that it is about working together to help the collective to thrive and survive.  I believe that it is about helping and making a difference however we can.  I believe that it is about finding what we’re good at and how we can contribute to making things better.  I believe that our job or purpose here on earth is to figure that out what that is for ourselves.  If everyone did their share, the planet would be such a better place.   It doesn’t have to be much because it all adds up.  Even a positive thought will spread and create good karma…

I feel very grateful and blessed that one of the things that I can offer to the collective is to use my passion for cycling to help raise funds for research and awareness for Type 1 Diabetes.  I believe that this is what the universe expects of me.  And the universe has provided me with amazing friends that make awesome things possible…  What else could a guy ask for?

We had set a lofty goal of raising $30,000 for JDRF this year.  I hate goal setting.  Sure, they give us something to aim for, but they also create a stressful expectation given the potential failure if we fall short.  I prefer to set an intention.  But we had to set a goal.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure we were going to reach it this year.  Fundraising is getting more and more difficult.  Or maybe it was my health issues the past few years or my brain preparing to deal with the failure to meet our set goal even if deep down the true intention was to create SOME Type 1 Diabetes awareness and to raise SOME funds for JDRF that wouldn’t exist without our efforts.

In the end, I was blown away by everyone’s generosity and effort !!!  We surpassed our goal by writing a cheque for $30,500 to JDRF which brings the total raised by the Mike’s Bike Shop cycling club since 2007 to over $180,000 !!!  I am speechless…

Too many people believe that this ride is about me since it was born from my dream, but really it isn’t about me at all.  It’s about all the volunteers who step up and put in so much effort, many of which have no personal connection to Type 1 Diabetes other than being my friends.  

Thank you to our main sponsor, Mike’s Bike Shop who is the backbone of this ride.  Thank you Rick Snyder for your continued support even after all these years.  Your kindness and generosity continue to amaze me and are beyond words.  I am constantly blown away with everything that you continue to do in support of JDRF.  Thank you for all of your hard work and very generous financial support.  I am forever indebted for all that you do.  Thank you.

Thank you to Luc Belliveau and Pablo Vergara who have put in so many hours in meetings, finding sponsors, setting up the website, running around getting food and setting everything up.  You are both key players of our Cyclebetes organizing committee.  Without you, the ride could simply not exist.  I am very proud to call you true friends.  I owe you big time.  Thank you.

Thank you Jeff Currie for the maps, your help with event insurance and leading morning and afternoon rides.  Thank you Martin Pelletier for signing all the routes and leading morning and afternoon rides.  Thank you Charles Cormier for removing all signs and leading an afternoon ride.  Thank you Christian Charette for helping with setup on Friday evening, leading the morning ride and managing an afternoon feed station.  Thank you Melissa Bordage for helping with registration on Friday evening, leading the morning ride and managing an afternoon feed station.  Thank you Andre Landry for leading rides and for the ice and BBQ pick-up and delivery.  Thank you Philippe Theriault for the photocopies and flags and signs from the Atlantic Cycling Centre.  Thank you Don Ricker for working your camera magic in capturing the true essence of the whole event in pictures.  Your talent behind the lens is crazy and one of the things that riders appreciate the most about Cyclebetes.   Thank you.

Thank you Bill Goobie and Rachel Parkins for driving the last mechanical support vehicle all day.  Your job is quite stressful and makes for a very long day.  Thanks for doing such a good job in keeping our riders safe.  Thank you Janice Lirette-Evers for taking care of registration Friday evening and Saturday morning.  Merci beaucoup pour ton support et d’avoir accepté de revenir nous aider cette année Janice.  Thank you Gerry Allain for driving the first support vehicle and Elmer Wade for navigating.  Gerry, you have officially become a PRO Cyclebetes support vehicle driver after so many years of experience.  Thank you for the help and continued support.  Thank you Christian Jasper for managing the morning feed station and support vehicle driver in the afternoon.  Thank you Erica Griffith for your help with registration and for managing a feed station in the afternoon.  We are very lucky to have such trustworthy volunteers year after year.  Thank you Gilles Gallant for generously offering to help by representing JDRF, accepting our cheque and managing an afternoon feed station.  Thank you Steve Kikkert for directing traffic in the morning and leading an afternoon ride.  Thank you Serge Noel for directing traffic in the afternoon.  Thank you Johannah Bubar for all of your help including keeping food on the tables for all volunteers and riders.  Thank you Jacob Button for giving up your entire day to volunteer and help.  Thank you Dan Hachey for setting us up with Molson.  Thank you Caroline Belliveau, Jenn Boyd, Cindy Guitard and Rhonda Currie for taking care of all of the food and beverages.  Thank you Bruce and Audrey Thorne for driving support in the afternoon.  Thank you Ben Thorne for speaking to the riders before leaving for the afternoon ride.  Your message was very heartfelt and reminded everyone of why we were there.   Thank you.

Thank you to all our sponsors:  Mike’s Bike Shop, Sobey’s Dieppe, MacDonald Buick GMC, Giant Bikes / Guy Pellerin of Pellerin Sports,  Papa John’s Pizza, Clif Bars, City of Dieppe, Molson brewery, Cape Bald Packers, Terry Tomlin of Tomlin Sports Marketing / Oakley, Maritime Propane Services, Starbucks, Kevin Noiles of Lambert, GoodLife fitness, Pat Bolduc of Shimano / Pearl Izumi, IGA Dieppe, Joanne Phillips for the reefer truck, Philippe Theriault of Cadillac Fairview, Adrien Lesvesque at Falstaff Media, Atlantic Cat for the BBQ, Long and McQuade for the PA system, Chris Mitton, Jim Currie.  Thank you to all that donated, participated and fundraised.

And last but certainly not least, thank you to my wife Michele and Adele who drove a support vehicle and who continue to put up with me and support me year after year. I love you.

If I have forgotten anyone, I apologize and want to thank you as well. I feel very blessed and grateful to be surrounded by so many incredibly generous friends. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And I hope to see you again next year at the 10th anniversary Mike’s Bike Shop Cyclebetes ride !

All online fundraising pages will still work until December 31st, 2016 so you can still donate here...  2016 Mike's Bike Shop Cyclebetes

Friday, August 12, 2016

Concussed


Pretty sure I was about 4 years old when I learned to ride a 2-wheel bike.  Back when bike helmets didn’t exist.  I remember when I was 17 years old and we built a ramp to jump over a car.  We worried about how to get enough speed before hitting the ramp to be able to make the gap.  But it never occurred to us that it would be a good idea to wear a helmet.

I got my first road bike in the late eighties but purchased my first helmet in the 90s only because I needed one to do my first mountain bike race.  As I got older, I evenually always rode with my helmet.  It has become as automatic as buckling my seatbelt as soon as I sit in a car.  I feel naked without it.  Lately, I have become quite paranoid about road riding given the drivers using their cell phones.  Because of this, I seemed to favor mountain biking since I trusted my skills much more than the drivers with which I shared the road when out on my road bike.

On July 5th, at the last race of the 8 week Hub City Challenge mountain bike series at Rotary Park, my mountain bike skills that I had such confidence in failed me.  Going down a rooty downhill that I had ridden literally hundreds of times, I lost focus for a fraction of a second and went down.   No other riders around me.  The trails were dry.  I knew in the air that the crash was going to hurt, then remember thinking “Wow my head hit the ground really HARD!”  I rolled out of it like they teach in the Sprockids program, but was seeing all sorts of stars after trashing my helmet.  I remember everything and never lost consciousness, but immediately knew that I had suffered a concussion.  I picked myself and the bike up and walked back to the start finish area and sat down.  I felt better after a bit.  After talking to a few people, I rode back home, told my wife, cleaned up and went to bed.  I thought about going to the ER, but Google was telling me that I only needed to go if I lost consciousness and/or felt nauseous.  I just felt very spaced-out / stoned.  I figured it was like when I’d get slammed into the boards as a teenager playing hockey and that it’d be better the next day.   It’s all part of bike racing right?

Unlike when I was a teenager playing hockey, I’m not 15 years old anymore.  I didn’t feel better the next day.  After symptoms were getting worse on the 5th day, I decided to seek medical advice / treatment.  They told me that yes, I had suffered a concussion, that an MRI wasn’t really necessary since it had not just happened and that I just needed to take it easy and rest.  Lying alone the next day in a dark hotel room in Halifax on our first day of summer vacation while my family was out enjoying supper, I didn’t feel very proud of what I had done to myself during a supposedly fun local mountain bike race.  I felt guilty for ruining our vacation and being a burden to the rest of the family.  This guilt and regret was on top of physically feeling worse than I have ever felt before.  I was suffering and completely miserable.  When your brain is injured, it pretty much affects every single thing that you do except for maybe sleeping.  I felt so vulnerable and out-of-control.  I also felt depressed, anxious, broken and afraid.  What if I don’t fully recover?  I desperately just wanted to feel normal again…

It’s been over 5 weeks since the crash and I’m much better, but still not 100%.  My balance is still off and I tire much more easily, but I now see light at the end of the tunnel.  I feel optimistic and expect a full recovery.  But where do I go from here?  Do I just treat this as an “accident”, a random occurence and continue living like it never happened?   Was this just bad luck or is there something to be learned?

Since last year, I have been trying to look at my time here on earth as being enrolled in a school.  I’ll call it “life-school”.  Everyone is enrolled in different courses based on what we need to learn during our time here.  When we fail a course, we must take it again (and again and again if necessary) until we pass and learn what it is meant to teach us.  We often fail our courses either because we aren't paying attention or when we're too busy looking at what others are doing with their lives, but this doesn’t work because others are most likely not enrolled in the same courses as us.  

So based on my life-school theory, what am I supposed to learn from this in order to move onto the next life-course?  The answer to this question must come from within…  In the last 1.5 years, I have had health issues that have affected my heart and my brain, arguably the 2 MOST important organs in the human body.  That’s pretty scary shit right there.  Both issues have also prevented me from racing bikes.  

If I am honest with myself, I know deep-down that my competitive racing days are over.  Not that I ever reached a true “elite” level in the sport, but I have invested a LOT of time and energy in trying to go faster and improve my race results.  This year, I started the season with the intention to only race “for fun”, but once I began to gain more fitness and was able to push myself more, my psyche went back into full race mode and I became a danger to myself.  The Pericarditis, which to be honest was really just a symptom of Diabetes burnout, has affected my ability to focus which is necessary in bike racing.  When speed surpasses your ability to focus, your timing is off and when you’re pushing your limits, being off by even just a fraction of a second is the different between nailing a fast section and becoming a helmet tester. 

My family needs me healthy.  I have responsibilities including care for a chronically ill teenager.  As Adele’s main Type 1 Diabetes caregiver, I really need a fully functional brain in order to be able to help her manage her blood sugar levels as best as possible.  I certainly don’t want to risk another head injury.  So for these reasons I have chosen health over my bike-racing passion.  I am officially retiring from all bicycle racing at the moment.

Why am I making this announcement here on this blog?  The first reason is to explain to my friends in the cycling community why I will not be attending their events.  I love to support those who support our beautiful sport, but right now I cannot support your competitive events with my participation.   Sorry.  The second reason is that I really don’t trust myself.  Like the alcoholic who thinks he can have just the one drink or the ex-smoker who thinks he can just smoke the one cigarette, I need something in writing (a contract !!) to remind me of my decision and why.  Like the broken helmet sitting on the shelf in my basement that will stay there as a reminder, I cannot forget that I am breakable.

I still intend to continue riding for fun and would still like to support and participate in non-competitive cycling events like grand fondos and charity rides.  Heading into the fall season, I know that Cyclocross racing is the discipline that I will miss the most.  It is also likely one of the least dangerous given that speeds are lower and courses are mostly on grass, but I am still not willing to risk it…  Not this year for sure…  Damn short attention span and addictive personality…

Friday, June 10, 2016

A scary experiment

 
As a young boy, I remember lying in my bed overcome by fear that our house would catch fire while I slept.  I was fine during the firefighter’s presentation at school and throughout the rest of the day, but so very terrified lying there alone in dark silence trying to fall asleep that night.   I also remember witnessing an all-terrain vehicle accident when I was like 12 years old.  The victim was conscious and seemed “somewhat ok” (he actually was in the end except for lots of scrapes and bruises), but the sight of his bloodied face, obvious disorientation and the fact that my main passion at that point in my life was riding my dirt bike hit close to home and really made me realize what could potentially happen in a split second as a result of practicing my favorite pastime.  Fear, even if it technically only exists in our head, gives us the impression of being a separate entity that has a life of its own.  When I was young, my fears were always worse and very intense when I was left alone in silence with my thoughts at night.  It’s like I could manage to not really “feel” the fear when my mind was busy doing other things during the day, but as I was trying to calm my mind and fall asleep, these fears that were hiding in the deep dark corners of my subconscious mind would come out and literally scare the hell out of me.

A Type 1 diagnosis is very scary.  It is terrifying and the information given in such a short period of time following the diagnosis is very overwhelming.  In many ways the shock feels like being pushed off a raft without a life jacket during a rapid river excursion.  Even if you know that you technically were explained what to do beforehand, the strong current makes it very difficult to keep your head above the water.  The initial shock soon turns to panic then eventually fear as you begin to understand what is actually happening.  But this fear needs to be set aside for the time being because you now have many life-saving tasks that need to be taken care of 24-7. Eventually you gain confidence until you eventually feel more and more like you’re able to keep your head above water.  Your life becomes a constant numbers game and you never really get to re-visit the fear that you have hidden in the background.

Then there is this thing called “long term complications” that surely comes up when Type 1 gaming.  At the hospital shortly after diagnosis they tell you to not worry about these since they take years of sub-par control to develop.  It is probably a good idea that they do it this way since you already feel like you’re on the brink of drowning in all of the other information.  And as a Type 1 patient (or parent), you listen to this advice and shove this information in the very back of your mind alongside of the fear because you can’t really deal with it at this time.  But as you’re doing this, you feel this fear creeping up again as you stir things in your head and realize how life-changing the diagnosis is.  In the beginning, it’s just about survival.  It’s about learning the day-to-day stuff required to stay alive.  It’s about keeping your head above water.  So that fear is buried for now in order to literally stay alive.

The problem with burying fear like this is that even if at first it seems well hidden, it’s still always there,  lurking, growing, seemingly unnoticeable until one day after routine blood and urine tests, your Diabetes care team tells you that one of the results isn’t quite normal.  For us, that day came about 1 month ago now when Adele’s urine test results showed the presence of an abnormally high level of protein.  The Diabetes nurse quickly assured us that there is a possibility of a false positive for this result if the patient was recently ill, had exercised rigorously the day before or in the case of females, menstruation.  But for me, upon hearing the results of the test, the fear of long term diabetes related kidney damage that I had buried deep, deep down in the dark corners of my mind, fear that had grown exponentially while hidden there, suddenly came up to the surface and literally left me paralyzed.  I felt incapacitated, powerless.  This built-up fear energy that had never been properly dealt with had gotten so big and powerful, that it was crushing my entire being rendering me completely useless.  I was a mess.  These feelings were ever-present, but just like when I was a young boy, ever so powerful when I was alone trying to fall asleep at night.  The demons had taken over and were now running the show.

A few weeks later, the subsequent test came back negative meaning that the initial test was indeed a false positive (we still need to confirm with a second test next month).  As much as I was initially relieved, I can’t help but think of how I reacted and of that ever-growing fear that I had buried deep inside of me.  It is yet another aspect or detail of this Type 1 game that is so often overlooked and where gamers too often suffer alone.  My intention is to not try to tuck this fear back into its old hiding spot.  I’m trying to face it, feel it and hopefully release it gradually since the risk of long-term Type 1 complications are and will still be there as long as there is no cure for the disease.  Easier said than done, but that is the intention.  Mourning such a loss certainly doesn’t happen overnight.  And only now am I able to begin to understand this as part of the process.  At the end of the day, Type 1 gaming is really but an experiment.  We hypothesize a desired outcome, but even if we follow all of the rules of the game, we still don’t get to choose how it unfolds in the end.  And that is the lesson that I need to learn...

On Saturday, September 10th, I will again be biking in support of Type 1 Diabetes research in the 9th annual Mike’s Bike Shop Cyclebetes ride to cure Type 1 Diabetes.  Please support me if you can…
http://jdrfca.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=300182


Friday, February 26, 2016

The year of the reboot




I have been wanting to write a year-end blog post for a few months now, but the words just weren’t there.  In so many ways, I could say that 2015 sucked, that it was one of the toughest and that it was the year of the “breakdown”.  But after re-thinking this, I decided to call it the year of the “reboot”.

The human brain categorizes everything as either good or bad.  It has a difficult time categorizing in between.  It’s part of the human condition.  We’re just hard-wired that way I guess.  At the beginning of 2015, my mind would certainly have categorized how the year started as being bad.  Getting sick with Pericarditis in April and the very slow recovery was certainly difficult and unpleasant, but I can now see it as a good thing.  2015 was one of the hardest years for me, but also arguably the year where I grew and changed the most.  Strange how these paradoxes need to co-exist.  I say that 2015 changed me, but in reality, it was more a process of discovering my true self rather than transformation.  So I guess it was more of a “finding” of something that was already there.

2015 was a year where I rode my bike less, but the quality of each ride made up for the lack of quantity.  Riding became more of a meditation.  My state of mind made for more mindful pedal strokes, thus making the act much more meaningful.   There is nothing like losing something to make you appreciate it that much more when it is given back.

Last year’s events also made me realize that killing myself in managing Adele’s Diabetes wasn’t accomplishing anything, except for making me sick.  Nighttime is the scariest time for Type 1 parents.  Laying your head on the pillow becomes a prison sentence of worry and suffering when the body should be replenishing itself through rest.  Looking back, for me it was just a matter of time before health problems and sickness moved in.  The body cannot function long-term without adequate sleep.  Along with sleep deprivation, I was burning the candle at both ends during the day pushing myself in other aspects of my life acting as if I was invincible.  This is never sustainable.

Even after over 13 years of Type 1 gaming, I still cannot say that I have fully accepted it.  Maybe I had never stopped long enough to mourn the loss?  Maybe I was always too busy trying to fix something that I cannot really fix?  Maybe I couldn’t stop because I was constantly overwhelmed in the constant numbers madness and lost in the striving for perfection?  Maybe letting go is THE ONLY WAY?

Type 1 gaming is messy.  But I now believe that’s how it has to be in order for us to learn what it’s trying to teach us.  I have always had an obsession with controlling things in my life.  Even with a very, very strict diet, I still don’t think that a Type 1 gamer can control the disease 100%.  Maybe that is what Type 1 gaming needed to teach me?  Maybe I can’t be at peace with it all before I admit that at the end of the day that I am not the one in the Type 1 driver’s seat?  I now know that I could not surrender to this truth before hitting rock bottom.

Type 1 Diabetes is a constant reminder of our vulnerability and non-permanence.  In so many ways, Type 1 Diabetes and other chronic diseases are the ultimate metaphor for what life is really about.  With Type 1, this fragility is always right there, in our face 24/7.  It has been the ultimate teacher.  I just hadn’t been a very good student.

The reboot has been a slow one.  In so many ways I feel like I am starting over.  From physical fitness to learning to relax and sleep again in the midst of the storm, it all seems to be so new.  I am not the same person now that I was a year ago, but it’s not just being the only guy in a room full of women during one of my yoga classes.  My life is no longer so much about the speed and efficiency of racing through it.  It’s now more about what’s right here right now.  My anxious mind can’t lead the way anymore.  And that is the gift that came out of all of this.

So here’s to an awesome 2016! 

Cheers





Monday, November 30, 2015

Holding hope in the palm of your hand

How would it feel to hold something in your hand that had the potential to positively affect every single aspect of your life?  Something so potent that just holding it would bring you to tears since it would be able to change EVERY LITTLE DETAIL OF EVERYTHING in your life?  Is there anything that exists that could potentially have such power?  Some people may think of a jackpot winning lottery ticket, but I’m talking about something here even more life-changing that money cannot currently buy.  When Sir Frederick Banting discovered insulin in 1922, he surely felt what I am trying to explain while holding a vial of insulin.  Before his discovery, a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis meant a certain death in a matter of weeks.  With insulin, the prognosis was extended to years.  Dr. Banting knew that insulin wasn’t a cure, but to see patients miraculously awaken from diabetic comas shortly after being administered insulin must have been one of the most amazing experiences that a human being can have.

I have been hearing about “encapsulation” research projects for the last few years and to be honest was never really too excited about them until now.  The project that gives me the most hope is currently being led by a company called Viacyte Inc.  This year, ViaCyte announced that their Encapsulation research was expanding tohuman clinical trials in Canada!  Human trials, that’s further than most other “life-changing” researches have ever gotten.  That got me very excited!  Transplants have been used as a Type 1 treatment for a few years now, but necessitating very strong immunosuppressant drugs which can potentially cause many other issues.  With the encapsulation project, the transplanted cells are “protected” from the immune system in a small pouch made of a selectively permeable membrane that enables insulin to be released while protecting the insulin producing beta cells from being destroyed by the immune system.  This “pouch” would be surgically implanted under the skin and do the work of a healthy pancreas for up to 24 months.  This would mean no more blood sugar checks, no more calculating carbs and no more insulin injections for up to 2 years.  Words cannot fully explain the positive effect such a treatment would have on those playing the Type 1 game…  Seriously, although it is not a true cure, this would be a HUGE life changing discovery.
 
Such research is not cheap.  I can’t even imagine how much money was spent to get to this point.  The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has been partnering with Viacyte for this project.  Since 2007, the Mike’s Bike Shop cycling club have raised over $150,000 for JDRF, which is but a small portion of their budget but surely enough to make a big difference.  For this reason, I feel that I have personally contributed to getting this research project this close to the finish line.

On this last day of November, which is Diabetes awareness month, I would personally like to thank all those that have donated and worked so hard this year to help us raise $32,411 for JDRF in 2015 !!  THANK YOU  THANK YOU  THANK YOU !!  Your support and contribution are making a difference in the lives of those living with Type 1.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Thank You


Glancing down at the big cheque before the presentation photo I got choked up as soon as my eyes focused on the total amount that we had raised.  The goal was $25,000 and the amount written on the cheque was above that goal.  We had raised $29,000 for JDRF! This brings our total raised and donated to JDRF to close to $150,000 since 2007! 

When I think about this for a moment, I realize that it’s more than we paid for our house in 2002.  That is crazy!  Compared to other larger scale events like walks and family events, it’s not as much, but considering that we are a local cycling club in a small city and that the participation at all of our Cyclebetes rides has never surpassed 70 riders, including this year with 69 participants, that number becomes so much more impressive.  $150,000 donated to JDRF to support research that has literally changed lives with better treatments and certainly gotten us closer to realizing my dream for a cure in Adele’s lifetime.  Without Cyclebetes, Mike’s Bike Shop and the Mike’s Bike Shop cycling club, JDRF never have had that $150,000.  Thinking about that just blows me away. 

I appreciate receiving congratulations on the event’s success, but honestly I am but a small part of it.  It would be nothing at all without the support of everyone involved.  I understand when people affected by Type 1 Diabetes step up and volunteer time and energy in the quest for a cure, but when someone who is not affected by the disease puts in the amount of hours that some of my friends have to make this ride a success I feel really blessed to be surrounded by so many good and kind people.  I really appreciate all that you do to for JDRF.  Thank you very much. 

The ride was the most successful yet in regards to funds raised, but I am also sure that it was the best all-around with all of the food, refreshments and after-ride party as well.  I really, really enjoyed the entire day.  We made a few minor mistakes from which we will correct for next year, but for the most part, the day’s events ran quite smoothly. 

Thank you to our main sponsor, Mike’s Bike Shop, without which the ride simply could not exist.  There is no other bike shop that I know of that even comes close to everything that you have done for our charity.  Your kindness is very much appreciated.   Thank you Rick Snyder.   

Thank you to the Mike’s Bike Shop club members for all of your help.  Thank you Luc Belliveau for all your work.  I still can’t believe how many sponsors you were able to find.  And thank you for all of your hard work getting most of the food served during the day.  You are a huge part of the event’s success.  Thank you Pablo for all your work also, the many emails, phone calls, the website…etc…  And thank you for willingness and courage to sport your new Mister T look for the cause.  Your work and enthusiasm really means a lot.  Thank you Bill Goobie for the maps and for spending the day driving around at 25 km/h ensuring rider safety.  Thank you Jeff Currie for all the input during our meetings, the printable maps and directions.  Thank you Michelle Chase for marking the course, helping out during registration as well as with lunch.  Thank you Christian Charette and Melissa Bordage for your help with the feed stations.  Thank you Martin Pelletier for marking the course even during your first week back to school.  And thank you Don Ricker for all the photos.  Your photographic talent is beyond words and photos that enable all participants to relive the day is simply priceless.  Thank you. 

Thank you Janice Lirette-Evers for your amazing work of handling the money as well as setting everything up for the door prizes.  You are an invaluable part of our Cyclebetes team.  Merci beaucoup.  Thank you Mariette Roussel for helping with registration.  Thank you to all support vehicle drivers Gerry Allain, Patrick Evers, Christian Jasper, Steve Kikkert, Bruce Thorne and Sheena Lutes-Spicer.  Thank you Elmer Wade.  And thank you Jennifer Boyd, Cindy Belliveau and Johannah Bubar for taking care of all of the food and beverages.  Thank you to all that came out to help set things up Friday evening. 

Thank you to all of our sponsors which are almost too numerous to list.  Thank you Mike’s Bike Shop, Sobey’s in Dieppe, MacDonald Buick GMC, Tomlin Sports Marketing, Guy Pellerin of Giant and Arcteryx, Starbucks Dieppe, Sysco, City of Dieppe, Molson brewery, Adrien Levesque and Falstaff Media, Cape Bald Packers, Ray Cormier.  I am sure that I have missed some since there were so many who gave…  Thank you. 

Thank you to all the riders who participated and to all who donated.  I am always impressed by the efforts made to fundraise as well as on the bike during the ride.  Thank you for inspiring.  The rider smiles after the ride always make my day.  Thank you Ben Thorne for giving me the privilege to ride with you as well as for speaking to the riders reminding them why they were riding.  And last but not least, thank you to my family for all of your support. Thank you for putting up with me during the very busy week before the ride. Thank you Michele and Adele.  I really appreciate it!

 I feel very, very blessed to be surrounded by so many incredibly generous people.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you. 

I still remember the day that I learned to ride a bike as a young child.  I instantly fell in love.  Who knew that over 40 years later I would still be riding a bike, but with a much larger purpose.  Thanks for supporting me in the pursuit of this purpose. Thank you.

Friday, September 4, 2015

A new me?

September 10th will be exactly 5 months since I woke up with chest pains and was diagnosed with Pericarditis.  I am now back at work full-time, feeling better but still not 100%.  

I believe that our purpose here on earth is to learn, but in order for this to happen we need to put in the work and be still enough to listen and closely pay attention.  And this work is likely that hardest work that we will ever do.  The results and benefits are very subtle unlike our more common outer pursuits.  But I do believe that the payoffs of this work are our greatest accomplishments and a true measure of a person’s success.  I have been living much slower and working very hard this past summer trying to learn what the universe is trying to teach me.  I like to believe that what I have lost in physical stamina and strength, I have gained in wisdom and depth.  In my opinion that’s what getting older should be like once you’re on the other side of the so-called “hill”.  Some days I’m much better at seeing the positive side of this experience and doing the work, other days not so much. 

In many ways I feel like I am stuck somewhere between where I was and where I need to be.  The new me seems to be doing very well until the old me suddenly makes an appearance, and if I’m not paying attention, takes over.  Too often, I have a difficult time determining what is too much.  My head judges and decides on a plan, but my body just tells me that it isn’t going to work once I get started.  My apologies if I have cancelled plans last minute lately with anyone reading this.  I have been trying to listen to my body for a change. 

A few weeks ago, I was frustrated with this feeling of being stuck in “no man’s land” between being sick and being healthy and fit.  I still get really excited thinking about biking and bike racing with friends, then my heart (and by heart I mean my physical heart) sends me these signals that really put a damper on this excitement.  When I’m rested and calm, I feel mostly normal, but as soon as I try to do too much and get fatigued, I feel these subtle twinges or mini cramps in my chest around my heart.  It’s like I’m now living with a built-in fatigue and stress barometer that I now need to listen to.  My doctor says that these symptoms are normal, but I can’t help but feel impatient at times.  Even on the good days I often live in fear having lost confidence in what I can and should ask or expect my body to do.  

Thinking about this I realize that one of the reasons that my recovery has been slow is because I still have to learn to be more patient.  What we resist persists.  It is really quite simple.  Having patience means learning to be okay with not knowing if or when I will be better.   

Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling bad about my health situation given that I can still ride my bike and live a normal life and that it could certainly be much worse, but other times a part of me feels self-pity.  I guess the important thing is to be aware of these feelings.  My job isn’t necessarily to fix anything but rather simply to recognize and acknowledge.  Once I manage to do this, the self-pity simply goes away. 

My journey back to health the last few months has also been a catalyst for letting go of the obsessive hold that I had been trying to maintain with Adele’s Type 1 Diabetes.  In a way, I didn’t really have a choice in this letting go process since I no longer had enough energy to keep trying to control everything and micro-manage every Type 1 gaming detail.  Adele told me the other day that she liked the new me better since I’m generally in a better mood more often now.  Strange how she can see this side of me while I often feel mostly consumed with frustration on the inside.  Thinking about this as I write, maybe I too like the new me better than the old.  Well, maybe not always, but at least on the good days… 


On Saturday, September 12th, I will again be biking in support of Type 1 Diabetes research in the 8th annual Mike's Bike Shop Cyclebetes ride to cure Type 1 Diabetes. 
 

Thank you

Friday, May 22, 2015

Heart still on the mend...


It has been 6 weeks since the Pericarditis diagnosis and the only thing that I’m really good at right now is sleeping.  I have completely mastered the art of napping.  I am also getting a bit better at meditation, but often I end up falling asleep, so basically, I’m really only good at sleeping right now.
The ultrasound on my heart a few weeks ago was normal, so after close to 1 month of total inactivity except for short walks, I got the green light to slowly begin exercising even if I still am in no way back to normal and regularly experience symptoms such as a certain tightness in my chest.  So I am now reacquainting myself with the pure simplicity of the solo bike ride with no agenda, no speed, and no timeframe.  As soon as my feet click into the pedals, the bike disappears and the only goal is enjoying nature from the absolute best seat in the house.  I stop and sit on a bench along the gravel trail when I feel like stopping and don’t ride on days when I don’t feel like riding.  It feels very new even if it is more of the same.
As westerners, we have a very unhealthy relationship with death and loss.  It is quite normal for North Americans to fear death even though we know it is imminent, a sure thing.  It is also quite normal for North Americans to act as if we’re never going to die.  Talking about death is taboo since it makes us very uncomfortable and we are completely devastated when it eventually happens.  Dying is as natural as being born, but our perception of it makes us resist and fear it more than anything else.
Living as the seemingly immortal “Mike the cyclist and bike racer” for so long, like a typical westerner, I too am struggling with his untimely death.  I am having a hard time mourning the loss and letting go of this part of my ego.  I miss being fit.  I miss my strong legs and body.  I miss the thrill of riding fast.  I miss the long rides.  I miss the feeling of riding effortlessly.  I miss riding with my old riding buddies.  But now, “Mike the cyclist and bike racer version 1.0” needs to be thanked, remembered and released in order to make room for “Mike the cyclist version 2.0”.  I’m not really sure what features this new version will end up with or when it’ll be ready and that right now seems to be the hardest part. Version 2.0 will need to have absolutely nothing to prove in order to be sustainable.  I’m also hoping that there will be a racing feature with version 2.0, but who knows?  Some days I am fine with not knowing, other days I find myself desperately still holding onto version 1.0. The internal work of letting go in order to allow healing and growth has been by far the most difficult part of my recovery.
The one thing that I absolutely know for sure is that this Pericarditis diagnosis had to happen.  It wasn’t just a fluke.  It had to happen in order for me to begin fully accepting and letting go of Adele’s Type 1 Diabetes.  For me, there was really no other way.  The obsessive, micro-management, attention to detail approach that I have been using to accomplish all things in my life naturally poured over into Adele’s Diabetes management.  It’s what I had learned and knew when I vowed to do every single thing in my control to keep her healthy and protect her as a baby and child, but now it has to end if I am to survive.  I’ve known this for a long while, but I was simply too tired to do it on my own, so my body intervened.  It was the only way that I knew how to play the Type 1 game, to fight it with everything that I had, even if the final outcome would certainly affect my health.  And to be honest, I’d do it again if I had to.  I have absolutely no regrets.
On Saturday, September 12th of this year, I will once again be riding in support of JDRF research for Type 1 Diabetes cures and treatments.  At this point, I’m really not sure how far or how fast I will be riding, but I will be riding.  Please support me if you can…

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The heart of the matter...

A few weeks ago, chest pain woke me up in the middle of the night.  Sitting on the couch googling heart attack symptoms had me almost certain that what I was experiencing was not a heart attack so I eventually decided not to call 911 or to drive myself to the ER.  After a few hours of sitting up, the pain seemed to have subsided and I slept a few hours before the alarm went off the next morning.  An appointment at the clinic followed by multiple tests at the hospital and I was diagnosed with Pericarditis.  The condition had come up on Google the night before, but I hadn’t really heard of it before then.
The internet defines Pericarditis as “swelling and irritation of the pericardium, the thin sac-like membrane surrounding the heart”.  Its causes are often viral, but it could also be autoimmune (like Celiac disease, Type 1 Diabetes and Hypothyroidism which are all in my immediate family).  The treatment is anti-inflammatory meds and rest.  24 hours after starting the meds, the symptoms were 90% better.  The rest part of the treatment meant no exercise whatsoever except for very light cardio like walking at a pace where you can easily maintain a conversation.  I have been off work since the diagnosis.
My body has spoken now am I ready to listen?
Like any other addiction, I have long realized that my bike has become a survival tool, a way to calm the mind demons, an escape, and a way to numb the pain.  It has become a crutch that I have been leaning on.  I’ve known this for a long while and was totally fine with it except now it has become obvious that this approach is no longer sustainable.  I can’t push through this.  My return back to health can only happen by focusing inward.  For the longest time, when things got tough, I remember feeling that everything was OK as long as I was riding well.  My cycling and to a large extent racing have become large pillars on which I based my overall wellbeing. 
So now, in an instant, this ego based foundation that I was standing on is crumbling.  As I mature, I have recognized that Mike the cyclist and bike racer isn’t really who I am but rather a big part of my ego that I have been identifying with for the better part of my life.  As with all aspects of the ego, Mike the bike racer isn’t really a very happy guy.  He’s only content when he’s racing well and getting the results that he believes he deserves.  But how often does this happen?  Bike racing when taken too seriously becomes a shallow, selfish, egocentric, self-seeking meaningless pursuit.  Looking at my Pericarditis diagnosis through the eyes of Mike the cyclist and bike racer, I am pretty bummed and depressed right now.  Mike the bike racer and cyclist feels betrayed by his body and lots of self-pity.  Mike the cyclist and bike racers reaction is typical of the ego.
By focusing inward, I am trying to go beyond this false self or ego where I believe true healing needs to happen.  It’s been a whole lot of hard work with the ego constantly popping up resisting its own demise but my intentions remain.  My focus has been mindful rest.  Some days I’m very good at achieving this, other days not so much.  But then I get another chance the next day.  Growth cannot happen without a certain amount of suffering and a lot of hard work.  I can't forget that.
Almost 13 years ago, Adele’s Type 1 diagnosis broke my heart and today I am suffering with the physical manifestation of this life event.  My heart is literally broken.  Maybe there was no other way for me to begin letting go of trying to control too many aspects of Adele’s day to day Diabetes care?  Maybe this is the meaning of all of this?  It does make me feel better thinking of it this way.  It gives purpose to my recovery.  It helps me honor what is.  I have not been very good at listening to my body in the past.  Maybe I was never still for long enough to really listen?  Maybe this is exactly what I need at this moment?