A while ago I wrote extensively about the arterial disease in my leg, EIAE. This is an update on how it’s going and what I’m doing about it.
In my original post, I said that I was going to try to live with the disease as best I could, changing my thinking and expectations accordingly. At the same time, I continued to train for the Whistler Gran Fondo, my big event of the season, since I’m still able to ride somewhat.
Now I’m reconsidering my total opposition to surgery. Not only is the surgery becoming more common as more athletes are diagnosed, but for myself, I find it nearly impossible to imagine the rest of my life without some kind of vigorous athletic activity in it — and EIAE, in my leg at least, stops me from running as well as biking. That eliminates nearly all sports that include a running component… Which is nearly all sports.
In short, I don’t want to live another 40 or 50 years shackled by my leg. (Okay, by the time I’m 85, it’s doubtful I’d be doing super-vigorous activity, although my Nana continues to maintain an intimidating fitness routine, and she’s 89.)
Right now, I’m still able to do very challenging training rides, just at a slower pace. Slower than last year, and every other year before. But I can do it, if I pace myself and don’t ever, ever push it. At the same time, I’ve also cut back on riding in groups, because groups tend to make me want to push it to keep up and not get dropped. That makes me sad; the social component of cycling means a lot to me, and brings me joy. I hate losing that, but if I ride with my friends, my leg almost inevitably ends up in agony and I’m left in pain and alone anyway.
Long story short, I’ve started working on getting appointments with surgeons at Stanford and the UW. Both appear to have had experience with treating EIAE before. Getting appointments is difficult and time-consuming, and I think before I see anyone I’ll have to do at least one CT scan. But I want to know more.
I’ve also started taking with a therapist about the emotional side of this whole issue. So much of my self-worth and image are tied up in biking, and that can’t be healthy. It’s good to have hobbies you love, but they shouldn’t rule you. I’m working hard on that aspect, so no matter what happens with the surgeon appointments, I’ll be okay.
It’s so tough.