Friday, November 16, 2012

My Right Foot

At long last. You probably thought, what happened to Team Luca? “I haven’t heard from them since the big Bike MS event. It’s like they fell of the face of the earth.” That’ll happen when you head off for a European vacation with a sprained ankle the week after the ride.

We love your orange tutus Team Luca!

Here are the highlights of our debut:

We rose out of bed before 6AM, to beat the crowds, only to find bad weather (read bad for San Diego. It was just a light drizzle). “Uh-oh,” we thought. “This is going to be a wet ride!”

It was chilly too (again, read chilly for San Diego. It dipped to the mid to low 60’s). As we waited for the ride to start, we tried to find ways to warm up, including huddling around the massive BBQ. They must have had a dozen grills going (and how strange that they were cooking meat at 7AM). As I, Christie, Captain of Team Luca, walked over to the BBQ to warm up…

…I hit the deck. And sprained my ankle. Ow! All this moments before the start of the ride! I kid you not. The slippery mossy sidewalks proved to be no match and I was near tears! My dreams of getting my very first medal ever were slowly disappearing. As I hobbled around, ignoring the EMTs recommendation of wrapping my foot, icing it and blah, blah, blah, I slowly began to panic. This after recovering from the pretty stars that sparked all around me. I thought, “What if I took my bike shoe off to wrap ‘My Right Foot’ like those guys say and cannot get my shoe back on due to severe ankle swelling tucked in a bandage blanket? And what? I should ice My Right Foot now? The race is about to start people, like in five minutes!”

My sister, sensing that I was about to lose it, looked right at me, directly in my eyes and began talking me off the ledge. “Swiss*,” she said calmly. “It’s ok. Your mind is stronger than the pain you feel. Use it to lessen the pain in your ankle. You can do it.” Sister Power! I thought, “I battle the pain of MS every single day. I can do this.” “I’m riding today,” I told everyone. “Well, it’s your foot,” replied one snarky EMT attendant. 

And away I went. For 30 miles.

I only fell once.

At some strange part of the route the path ended at a stepped curb and my brain didn’t have time to catch up to tell me to slow down from my high velocity speeds, start breaking and clip out of the peddles to stop. It didn’t hurt that much as it was a soft fall. The bike was not moving. I tipped over like a domino. But still! The humiliation was damaging enough. You see, My (sprained) Right Foot remained clipped in the pedal the whole time so I was strapped to my bike as I lay, sprawled on the ground. Helpless. Team Luca helped me by unstrapping the straps of my bike shoe and sliding out My Right Foot. It hurt. My ego that is. And I call myself a cyclist!

Moving on…

Every so often we’d hear shouts of “we love your orange tutus!” We have a feeling we will be seeing a lot of these next year!

Along the route many folks patted me on the back, giving me encouragement to keep on riding. Not because of the sprained ankle. Because of living with MS! No one could see the golf ball growing on my ankle. We passed several riders who witnessed the BBQ Fall and asked, “You’re still riding?! You are officially a badass.” I’ve never been called this before. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I vote a good thing!

At one point during the ride I wasn’t sure what hurt more. My ankle or my bones rattling as my bike and body slammed along some rough roads under construction. Good grief. Major fail by the route planners.  “And,” I asked myself, “Just how do the pros manage to ride on cobblestones for hours upon hours?!” I learned later that one Team Luca member used the sidewalk for some relief. Why didn’t I think of that?

We finished our last mile in the rain, which was exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. Exciting because it was cyclists against the elements. Nerve wracking because all I could think of was that big turn at the finish line and a sudden image flashed before me of me sliding into finish like a baseball player would home plate. “Oh the road rash,” I thought. “I’ve never had road rash. Wouldn’t that be something? Sprained ankle + road rash + MS?” I ignored this image of doom and pedaled on, carefully. Visibility was tough for those of us wearing sunglasses and Team Luca powered through it!

Crossing over the finish line was a lot like finishing the Tour de France. Fans screamed, waved at the cyclists and rang cowbells. Well, this is mostly true. Substitute 2,000 miles over 21 days with 30 miles in an hour and a half. And we didn’t hear any bells, especially me since I wasn’t wearing my hearing aids. And, a big shout out to Sandy J who we spotted in the crowd with a huge smile on her face. She waited in the rain to cheer on Team Luca! Yay!

Once finally finished, I felt like I could use those damn paramedics! They didn’t wait around for me (gasp!) but we did manage to find a couple of other EMT’s willing to help us. After I got my cold pack and some weird mummy wrap (they had no Ace bandages in-stock. I don’t even know how this is even possible), I managed to hobble over to the beer garden just as they closed; I stole sips from Nicole’s drink while our friend Julie re-wrapped up my ankle. She’s a professional. Thanks Julie!

Mummy Wrapped Ankle

And then it was RICEW for the rest of the day. Rest (check). Ice (check). Compress (check). Elevate (check). Wine (check).

P.S. I finally did get my medal!

P.P.S. Lastly and certainly not least, I want to give a shout out to the members of Team Luca for their tenacity and patience during our first and definitely not our last MS Bike Ride!
  • Zole: thanks for coming out to sunny SD. You are an amazing sister!
  • Jorge: thanks for joining our Team! You are a great rider and were we glad to have ‘ya.
  • Anna: you are my hero and my force. Without you, none of this would have been possible.

Swiss. Childhood nickname still used today between two sisters. The other sister’s name? Zole. This is a long story for another time…unless you have time now? 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Vitamin D, the sun and MS. What's the connection?

I love maps so it’s no wonder that I love this new interactive tool that I came across recently. A tool that visualizes information on MS prevalence rates, including Vitamin D levels and the intensity of the sun. And it does so by allowing the user (that's you!) the ability to select a variable and compare distribution across the globe. Have I mentioned I’m also an analyst? This makes me love this even more. Maps and data? Cool.

The patterns aren’t always clear when I play around with the maps but one theme does emerge. MS is more prevalent in certain geographical areas, areas that tend to be further from the equator. What does this mean? Less intense sun may mean a higher risk for MS.

To see the tool for yourself, click the link below.

Best always,

Monday, November 5, 2012

Team Luca Survives Debut at Bike MS

Yes, yes. I realize that pre-October 21 2012 I was extremely hyperactive with my Twitter posts asking for donations and generating excitement about the big MS Bike event. And then I dropped off the face of the earth. That’s what happens when you sprain your ankle and then head off on a European vacation. Geez.

Here are some snaps of the ride taken with my phone. No, no. No photography while I rode my bike. Good grief. I already had to contend with a sprained ankle.  Yep. I hurt my ankle the day of the ride, just minutes before we started!  Walking around in bike cleats on mossy wet sidewalks proved to be very dangerous for this MSer! Determined not to let it get me down while sprawled on the ground, I got up, hobbled to my bike, clipped into my pedals (OW!) and rode away with Team Luca.  For 30 miles.

I only fell once. 


Luca the Sock Monkey excited for BikeMS !

Pre Race Day preparations

Bright and early! Good morning Team Luca!

Team Luca lining up!

Sister Power!


I call it "Orange Tutu with Palm Trees"

Team Luca snacks at rest stop

Team Luca exhausted at finish line!

She rode 30 miles on a sprained ankle?! What?!

Getting wrapped !

Team Luca portrait (pre ankle incident)

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