2006- Ride #6 21.1 miles, 123.7 total

A somewhat extended ride through Carlisle & Concord, with a twist.

It was a scary day. Dad had slept poorly last night, and got up at 6AM to do some chores. He napped before we set out at 2PM, but he was very dehydrated. All along the way he kept saying he felt very tired, and at the 2/3 mark, just after the steepest hill on the ride on Strawberry Hill Road, he wanted to pull over to sit for a while. This is very unusual, but it didn’t alarm me. He said he’d never had a worse day on the bike. I asked him to have a little food and water, since it seemed he had bonked, and he did eat, though he didn’t think it would stay down. About five minutes later, he asked that I ride the rest of the way home and come back to pick him up with my car, because he felt like he couldn’t make it. He dropped his water bottle, and fumbled weakly as he tried and failed to retrieve it. As I kept asking specifics about how he felt, and set him up with some food, my water, and a cell phone, his eyes began to flutter, even as he said he was fine. I took off his sunglasses, lifted his eyelids and said, “Dad, you can’t keep your eyes open.” His eyes were dilated, and they drifted off me as he went limp and fell over sideways. I caught him, and managed a controlled fall to the ground together, in a seated position as I held him up. I called 911 on my cell phone, to get an ambulance, but the call failed. In the back of my mind, I contemplated this being Dad’s last day. I had to put that aside, to try and get him on his back and check his pulse and breathing, and start CPR if needed. As I began to extricate him from the tangle of arms and legs we had created in our awkward fall, he slowly began to regain consciousness. At first he was confused where he was, and after a bit he wanted to know what I was doing. As his Authoritative Voice (something he’s been quite good at since before I can remember) reasserted itself, I realized he hadn’t had a massive heart attack, and probably not a stroke. I checked his pulse as he steadied himself, and it was strong and even. Even so, he couldn’t move much, and struggled to sit upright on the ground against the rock wall we’d been sitting on. He said it was just low blood pressure, which was a reasonable explanation that fit the circumstances, but I had to be more sure. I stayed with him for a while before I left to retrieve my car and return to pick him up.

Several kind souls stopped and asked if they could help, or get water and food, but by the time they did, the real crisis had passed. Plus I had extra water and food. Dad insisted that I do not call an ambulance. Twice in the last two years he’s broken and separated bones or cracked his ribs on our rides and said the same thing, so it’s hard to know what to do. He began to think he could ride home. I made a deal with him, once I was more sure he’d be OK: You just sit there until I get back, and I won’t call an ambulance.

Naturally, he said don’t rush home, which naturally, I did. And, my luck being what it is, I saw a police cruiser and a low-flying helicopter, and began to wonder if the 911 call, which didn’t go through, did register on some computer somewhere, along with our GPS coordinates. I tried to call Dad once I got to his house, but got no answer. Not a big surprise—the phone hadn’t worked for outgoing calls, either.

By the time I got back, he was sitting up on the rock wall again, and looked as if nothing had happened. He waved to let me know he felt OK, and he was indeed much better and more mobile. We drove back, put his bike away, and sat chatting for a few hours before I went home. He had a Gatorade and measured his blood pressure as it returned to normal. Sure enough, even with an hour’s wait, the first reading was very low, but it came back up steadily over the hour.

I hope that’s all the drama we have this year.

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