Saturday, May 15, 2010
May Athlete of the Month
On my previous post you learned about the bike race I participated in during the middle part of April.
You also learned that, as always, the NATIONAL BLOOD CLOT ALLIANCE polka-dots came out to the event and as expected they drew some attention towards me. This attention generated some conversations and in the process of of talking to several different folks I met Mr. Steven Greene.
Although we were there to race bikes and talk about our "war" stories from past Little 5 races my conversation with Mr. Greene headed a different way once he learned the real meaning of the polka-dots and the reason behind wearing them. I am amazed about how easily a connection can be made by simply talking about the silly polka-dots I wear at the races... but enough about the power of the polka-dots and let's learn more about my new friend Mr. Steven Greene...picture below first from the right.1) What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?
I do enjoy many sports: basketball, running, tennis, racquetball, weight lifting, downhill skiing, but cycling is my activity of choice. Since I was in school, cycling has been a way to cross train while participating in the main stream sport programs, football, wrestling, baseball. It gives a great cardiovascular workout and you get to see the countryside at the same time. When I hit DePauw the Little 5 caused the interest to explode into USCF races, etc.
2) How did you get started in that sport?
It started when I was in Jr. High and Mr. Thompson (our counselor) had the idea of a Little 5 race between the Jr. Highs in Elkhart, IN. Mr. Thompson attended Ball State which also has a Little 5, and was on a team that changed the race strategy forever. They were one of the first teams to have the riders train to be able to ride 5-6 laps at a time instead of changing riders every lap. Our race was on a cinder track (Very Messy if You Crash!) and we shared the bike. We trained both on the road and on the track. I bought my first 10 speed at that time, a Schwinn Varsity. (I road that bike into the ground by the time I was out of High School.) We also had to master the art of the bike transfer which was an adventure each and every time. It is kind of like being in the pits in a NASCAR race. I was able to participate in the race for two years. It was 3 years before I would get back into serious bike racing when I got to DePauw, but in the mean time I was still riding out on the road.
3) What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve? (Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did)
My milestones are to keep riding in the MATTS Time Trial Series in the Chicago area, and doing some longer rides occasionally. We have done the 75 mile Swedish Days loop, and I would like to repeat this year. There is a 100 miles in 5 hrs. or less 5 man TT for Parkinson’s Disease that Kent Billingsley is trying to talk us into which would push me to the limit I’m sure. It is in early September which gives me some time to try and train. I also try and make the Illinois Special Olympics Pumpkin Peddle Charity ride every year which is about 28 miles long to help out Area 2 which my son is a part of. And of course getting through another Little 5 at DPU is always a goal for us.
4) Tells about your clotting episode. Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
Oddly enough my injury occurred while I was enjoying one of my other favorite sports, downhill skiing. We were at the Illinois Special Olympics Winter Games in early February 1995 or so, and we had some down time between my son’s events (Downhill, and Giant Slalom). It was a bit warm and the snow had a layer of water forming on the surface. Now I have been to Colorado a number of times, so skiing in the Midwest again has always been a let down. In order to try and make up for that I was pushing my speed to try and get the same feeling as out West. Big mistake! As I shot over a ridge at about 35 mph. or so I realized that I was running out of ski slope quickly. We were at Chestnut Mountain and the runs end at the Mississippi river edge in Galena, IL. I tried to stand on my edges, but had to pull off a cut back to keep it on the slopes. As I made the turn I caught my right ski tip and instantly was flipped head over heals. The force of the crash pushed my boot top into my right calf. The new boot styles are taller and help distribute the blow without breaking your ankle which is a good thing according to my physician. I was laying there thinking, “I wonder if it is broken?” Of course the Ski Patrol had seen everything (they are everywhere) and a gentleman skied up and asked if I was alright. At that point I was pulling myself up and hoping my leg didn’t fold under the weight of my body. As a guy you never admit you are hurt or that you didn’t mean to do that, so I told him “Oh that’s OK I’m fine.” Meanwhile I’m thinking, “Damn my leg hurts!” My leg seemed to be otherwise functioning normally, so I put my skis back on and skied down to the chair lift. Wouldn’t you know it that right as I was about to board the lift it shut down. I stood there for about 5 minutes as they got it back up and running. I really didn’t need that much time standing, and by the time I was finally on the lift my leg REALLY hurt. I did admit to my wife that I had a small fall, and that my leg hurt a bit. I indicated that I may not ski in the afternoon. I decided during lunch that I better put some ice on the calf since it was starting to swell up. I managed to get through the night with a lot of ibuprofen and more ice. I hobbled around the final day of the Winter Games, and when we got home I went to the ER to have it checked. There were no broken bones, but the physician said she didn’t like the look of the calf and scheduled an ultrasound for the next day. Upon examination they determined that I had the clot. CIGNA has a slightly different treatment regiment whereby they have you stay at home and they send in a nurse to check your clotting factor. I had to give myself 6 injections of Lovenox per day until the Cumaden oral blood thinner took effect. Due to some diet mistakes (spinach and salads) it took me 11 days to get the clotting factor where they wanted it, so I had a lot of holes in various places around my body. Being on blood thinners while having a major bruise was very difficult, and it took quite a while for it to heal to where I could begin to get active again. I was on Cumaden for 4 months, and only after I stopped taking it did I begin to try and work out. It was a year or so before I felt like I was completely healed. I am not on blood thinners at this point which I am very thankful for.
5) When were you able to get back into your activity? How did it feel that first time?
It was about 9 months after the fall that I got back onto the bike. It was difficult getting my wind back when I did start riding. The leg was a bit sore and the muscle is still deformed to this day compared to the other calf.
6) What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? (Bike brand, running shoes, perhaps a running singlet or the Clot Buster's Running Polka-Dot Technical Shirt...)
My favorite bike is either of the new ones I have. My Trek Madone road bike, or my Scatante TT bike ride about the same. I ride with Sidi shoes, and a Bell helmet. I would gladly don the Clot Buster’s uniform if offered.
7) How much are you getting out doing your sport? (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week)
I usually try and ride every other day at least, and lift weights/ run on the off days.
8) What is your favorite food? Either generally or after a workout. For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito...
My favorite food after riding is usually some yogurt and a sandwich. My weakness is also Mexican food (spicy veg. fajitas) and some hard cider to wash it down.
9) If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
If I didn’t think it would kill me I would like to ride some of the tour de france routes, or maybe a ride across Colorado. Hawaii would be fun if you could get a decent bike to ride while you were there.
10) What would like to say to someone who is going through a clotting episode, perhaps very similar to yours? How can people return to do what they enjoy? Tells about your concerns and what you look out after as you got back.
Blood clots are devastating to you and your schedule. It takes over your whole being. You feel completely compromised as soon as you begin taking the blood thinners. You have to watch what you do, and where you go. As my doctor said to me, “No major projects, God help you if you fall off the roof or cut yourself with a chain saw.” Even with all this going on it is important to never give up, and work as hard as you can on your physical therapy. Don’t allow yourself to say that I can’t be the same as I was before the clot. If you do the Clot wins. It is your enemy, fight it with every cell of your body. Find a good doctor and listen to their advice. They can be there to listen to your concerns and frustrations as you fight your way back to what you love to do. Start slow but give yourself goals and challenges to achive and before long you will be back to your old life and loves.
Mr. Greene - THANK YOU very much for sharing your story. I am very lucky to have had the chance to cross paths with you and meet you at the Alumni Little 5. You are truly an inspiration to everyone out there reading this blog and wonder if it is possible to get back to what they love doing.
Once I get around to get the new Clot Buster's kits with the new NATIONAL BLOOD CLOT ALLIANCE logo I will be sure to have one sent your way so that you can also spread the word about blood clots and blood clotting disorders across the events that you do.
It was a PLEASURE to meet Mr. Greene at this year's race and I will be sure to make it a point to get out there again next year and by then maybe have the two of us racing with some polka-dots kits... I have a full year to work on this so I definitely will make it happen.
Thanks for reading,
The Clot Buster