And so after the diagnosis I realized the conditions of my average race had caused intercranial swelling and disrupted the flow of spinal fluid, which can result in herniation and death. The one event that had provided my life with so much meaning was ironically the one thing that had nearly killed me. But it also aggravated my condition to the point where it was diagnosed. Ironman was proof that nothing worthwhile was ever easy and I applied what I learned in triathlon (start at the beginning, take each section in stages, keep moving and do not stop until you cross the finish line) to what was going to be the biggest challenge of my life.
I won't go into the details of all the stress and tears and really, really terrible emotions that result when you're told you might be a vegetable and/or should start saying your goodbyes. Writing your will when you're 40 is not an easy thing to swallow and when I think about those days I still feel the emotions as if it was happening now. But two things kept me going through it all. My will to fight through it with courage:
And the woman who loved me through it all. Her confidence, concern and incredibly positive outlook were invaluable and made a massive, massive difference.
Two weeks later, success:
I was fortunate enough to go under the knife of rockstar neurosurgeon Dr. McDermott at UCSF and came out of the surgery in a lot of pain, but his mad skills meant I didn't need to re-learn how to tie my shoes, I could walk in a straight line again and, most importantly wasn't a vegetable and wasn't dead!
I was on my 675 again and even did my first run exactly 30 days after surgery. Unfortunately once I came off Dexamethazone the party ended and since then it's been a major struggle. Still not sure what's causing some of the issues I still have, but each month is better than the last and if you can ride a motorcycle life can't be all bad now, can it?