Day 44. Tuesday, July 30. Niagara Falls to Henrietta (Rochester) NY. 85 miles
Today was another beautiful day to be on a bicycle. Temperatures began in the 60s and got to the mid 70s. The roads were in very good shape. The first 30 miles of the ride were pretty flat, so we were able to keep a nice pace. Because I had been feeling like I'd been pushing a bit hard lately, I hung back and rode mostly by myself, still keeping up a decent 17 to 19 mph pace. The last 50 miles were more rolling hill and farm fields. Nothing too difficult, very pretty and fun to ride. I pulled into the LaQuinta hotel and ended the ride about 1:30 this afternoon.
I met some pretty incredible people today, but let me explain how that came about. For the past few days, I have had some swelling in my lower legs. I have tried a number of things to reduce that, but it was not going down, even over night. Not painful, just a very full feeling in my legs. Today it was a bit worse. Our group leader, Jeff, had a compression stocking that I used. It helped a little, but not totally.
So when we finished the ride today into Rochester, we thought it might be best to have some folks check it out. Strong Memorial Hospital, part of the University of Rochester medical system was close by, so I went for some tests.
As you might imagine, everyone was interested in what I've been doing the last six weeks, that I've ridden 3,200 miles. they thought these funny tan lines were a bit fun. I had a real fan club forming here at the hospital.
They did a Doppler ultrasound on my legs to see if there were any clots forming. That was clear. They also did an EKG and an x-ray of my heart to see that everything was in order. One problem- a little - stressing little- fluid build up in my lungs. There were some concerns that my heart may not be working properly, so the recommendation was to stay the night for observation and have an echo-cardiogram in the morning. Dr. Adler and his PA were terrific in explaining the potential problems to me, even though they knew I was anxious to be on the road to the next stop and finish the ride.
I also met Rosa, an LPN who initially took my history, drew some blood samples and tried to prepare me for some possible bad news. Rosa is the mother of 4 kids, ranging from early 30s to a 12 year old son still at home. She began to tell me of her interest (and talent) in art - drawing, painting and sculpting. She just completed her bachelor's degree in art. Along the way, she has won some exhibitions. She recently entered a juried paint show, winning a second and third place. What's amazing is that she had broken her right hand and had to do this all with her left! Some of her instructors have told her she will go a long way with her talent. She certainly has the drive! When Rosa was 5 years old, in Spain, she was involved in a fiery car accident. Her mother and another passenger were killed. She was the only survivor. Her father was following in the car behind. A few years later, a brother drowned while saving her from an undertow while swimming in the Carribean. So much adversity. She has adopted the name "Phoenix Rose," to signify her rising from the fire and ashes. How appropriate. Rose, you are an inspiration. I wish you lots and lots of success.
My nurses, Cheryl, Melinda and Chadwick have been terrific as has the entire staff, including Jerry who did the echocardiogram. And the docs are beyond spectacular! Dr. Gasser, the cardiologist and Dr. Sarnoski, the internist in charge of my care, were very thorough, answering all my questions. The results of all the tests (I hope I'm relating this fairly accurately, Doc) is that there is no evidence of a clot, the ECG was normal, but there is a bit of an enlargement of all four chambers of the heart. The question is whether it's intrinsic, or related to all the strain and exercise I've been doing these past few weeks. So, as we are so close to the end, I will be able to finish the ride, but I have to take it easy, slow down a bit (Amy, Yuval, Anne, Gail, Jane, Katie and Gary, I won't be able to keep your pace. Ride on!), and make sure that someone is with me. And I will follow up about my heart in Columbus. I missed one day.
If you're ever sick in Rochester, Strong Memorial is the place to come. They have just earned their second magnet designation and the staff is outstanding!!!
On Tuesday night, I also met a woman here with her adult son who was in for some testing. She should be on the Rochester Chamber of Commerce. She transplanted here 30 years ago, but loves the area and really sells it. We are in The Finger Lakes region, so there are lots of recreational opportunities in the area. Of course there are local wineries to visit, as it is a great grape growing area. In 2007, Rochester was ranked first in "most livable city." Rochester is home to Kodak, Bausch and Lomb and Xerox. Rochester is also the home of Frederick Douglas, so lots of things named "North Star," the name of his paper. Susan B. Anthony was also from Rochester. Harriet Tubman
lived nearby in Auburn, NY. Rochester is also home to a huge toy museum. Seems like a lot to do and see here in this area and its an area I hope to spend more time in - just not right now.
As you might imagine, I am disappointed not to be riding today (Wednesday), or complete the entire ride but it seemed like a choice between being smart and being foolish. And I will be pedaling on to Portsmouth!
Be well. Do good.