The Dedegol Mountains, Isparta, Turkey. This yearís challenge?

Stokerís Page

The Stoker in charge

On the website last year I said that a minor knock could be a bigger problem for me. On a lovely late spring day in May 2007 I slipped off my bike and twisted my ankle. It took months to recover and even after lots of physio I am still not back to normal. It just goes to show how careful we need to be to complete this trip.

My illness started in January 2001 when I was inflicted with a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). At times I thought I might not be able to cycle again. If this brings to mind designer illnesses and jetting off to sunny climes think again. Just before Christmas 2000 I came off my bike while posting a letter and got a small bruise on my leg. In the new year 2001 I went on a long coach journey to the North of England and Scotland. While I was away my leg hurt and was swollen and on my return I went to my GP. He had me in Dorset County Hospital that afternoon for a scan and I was admitted immediately with a DVT. A couple of weeks and some anticoagulants and you will be as right as rain they said.

Still walking and pedalling

Two months later, most of which I spent as an inpatient, I realised how wrong they were. Having been on 50 mile club rides at Christmas, I could now only walk with difficulty to the end of the road. The doctors said I would need to take anticoagulants for life to deter it from happening again. I also have to wear a support stocking as the main vein is blocked and circulation bad. They had no real idea how much fitness I could expect to achieve, the only figure available simply gave mortality which it seemed I had not achieved.

In May 2001 on one of my frequent visits to my GP he asked if I was back on my bike. When I said no he said why not? Fortunately for me he is a cyclist. In the meantime Ken had been having new ideas for cycling mobility almost every week. In the end I managed my solo fine and he converted the rear of the tandem to have a freewheel. Now, on the tandem, I only have to pedal if I want to. Itís a stokerís dream and works fine although it does take great lengths of chain.

 Itís nice being out in winter

During the summer of 2001 I gradually built up my cycling fitness and in October we went on our first short tour in Spain on the tandem. The cycling was fine but my anticoagulation level, always volatile, was at a dangerous level when we returned home. Unless something could be done it ruled out any long trips away from home let alone cycle tours. It seemed that most travellers are tested at local hospitals and vary their anticoagulants dependent on the results. This is not very practical for cycle tourists. After some research I found that we could buy an electronic machine which did an optical measurement based on a drop of blood taken from my finger. It cost nearly as much as an average bike but was worth a try. We proved it to be reliable and convinced the GP that I could self prescribe my warfarin while we were away. Just before leaving for this trip I bought a new machine which is much smaller and lighter than the original and does a better job.

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