Hi. So what is a cycling ‘roo?. Part you can guess. The other part I’ll have to explain. But here is the simple scoop. I am a cyclist – not a biker. For those who don’t know the difference, a cyclist rides a bicycle. A biker rides a motorcycle. I have ridden a bicycle for decades. And it is my exclusive means of transportation.
Why do I ride my bicycle? I am legally blind. That means that I can’t pass the eye test needed for a driver’s license. I’ve never driven a car. And I doubt that I ever will – unless the promise of the bionic man (with the replacement eye) comes true. I ride to the store. I ride to the office. Indeed, I ride almost everywhere. And since it is the only situation I’ve ever known, I am very comfortable with the situation.
That explains the ‘cycling’ part of the name. But what about the ‘roo part? In the summer of 2002, I went to an appointment with an eye doctor. The doctor flashed a light on my retina (to see if things had changed with my eyes). When I woke up, I was in the hospital – and it was over a week later. You see, I died right in front of the doctor. My heart went into ventricular fibrillation (although we didn’t know that for sure until much later). The eye doctor performed CPR and then rushed me to the hospital. I began to go into seizures so I was put in a medical coma until my condition was stabilized.
I don’t really remember much from that time. But I do remember a cardiologist coming to tell me that he wanted to implant an internal cardioverter / defibrillator (ICD). After surgery, I recuperated for a few weeks. Once I was released to go home, I couldn’t wait to get back on my bike. I went riding with a friend. I was fine for the first four or five miles. Then we went up a huge hill on the Indian Creek trail. I charged up the hill at full tilt. My heart started beating faster as the blood demands rose. When I reached the top of the hill, I pumped my fist in triumph. I was back.
And then my chest exploded – or that’s what it felt like. Apparently, my ICD had decided that I needed to have my heart restarted. I felt quite humble. But I wasn’t too worried. And then it happened again. In fact, it happened six time in about twelve minutes. I was scared and didn’t know what to do.
After resting for a few minutes, the shocks stopped. My friend and I got back on our bikes and headed for home. On the way home, there was one more hill. And sure enough, I got shocked as I climbed the hill. I walked my bike the rest of the way home. And we called the doctor.
There was no real indication of what had happened. So I went back to my normal routine – albeit with a huge blow to my confidence having been landed. And one morning, I decided to charge up the five flights to my office. I felt great – until I got yet another shock. This time, I was really concerned as no one knew what was happening.
After seeing the cardiologist, it was clear that my ICD was misfiring. Any time my heart rate seemed to crest 100 bpm, my ICD was firing. This was wrong as the device had been set to trigger if my heart rate exceeded 200 bpm. And after a great deal of analysis, my cardiologist was convinced that the leads surgically attached to the interior surface of my heart’s chambers were malfunctioning. So it was time to return to the hospital for another surgery to replace the leads in my heart.
The surgery went well. And everything went back to normal – except for my trust of the technology. It took me almost six months to get back to my routine as I was so terrified of receiving additional shocks. But with time, I’ve come to trust the gizmo in my chest. And since that time, the ICD has truly saved my life on two different occasions.
So why the long story? Well, folks that have received a shock from their ICD are known as electric kangaroos (or ‘lectric ‘roos for short). That is because the shock really makes you jump. The two most defining moments in my life were when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and the day that I married my loving wife. After these two, the most defining parts of my life are my love of cycling and the fact that I am alive because of a marvel of technology.
So I am a cycling kangaroo (or cyclingroo).