I haven't blogged in a number of weeks. It's not that I haven't been doing things, but it's more for another reason.
A few weeks ago I had gotten provisional medical clearance from the Clipper people except... My doctor had written that I had had a stroke a few years ago. The tale is that a number of years ago I suddenly had a horrible headache. Eventually my wife convinced me to go to the hospital, although I was showing none of the symptoms of a stroke (see end of this article for information about stroke recognition!!!). I spent a few days in ICU, had a number of X-rays, and other imaging. The final diagnosis was a bleed of the Dura, which is the membrane around the brain.
It bled into the brain cavity, putting pressure on the brain and that caused the headache. I don't mean to make light of it. It was, potentially, life threatening, but nothing in the hospital paperwork mention a stroke. The treatment was three days of bed rest in the ICU, and morphine for pain management (which I was declining by the second day, mostly). After three days I spent one or two more days in the general ward and then was discharged from the hospital. The followup said that there was no sign of a problem and that I was in the same risk category as pretty much everyone else for anything to happen again.
Unfortunately, my primary care physician (aka "family doctor", aka "general practitioner") continues to call it a stroke and says so in the paperwork that he had to file with the Clipper organization. That, as you might imagine, raised a number of alarm bells. After all, noone wants to be trapped on a yacht, days from help, and someone's having a stroke. The alarm bells caused their underwriter to want more information, so I had to get the medical records from the hospital, which took a few days, then send them off to the clipper people, which took a few days. Then they had to get it to their underwriter, which took a few days. Their underwriter, of course, has better things to do than sit idly by waiting for the paperwork, so they took a long time to look it over, not helped, I'm sure, by this being summer replete with vacations and holidays.
So the waiting continued, the nail biting continued. There wasn't much I could do. I suppose I could have pestered the Clipper folks with inquiries, but that would likely have just got be on their "Oh no, not HIM again!" list. So I waited. And waited. And waited. Not to make a pun of it, but the waiting took the wind out of my sails.
I'm one of those people that need a goal to work towards, to dedicate myself to. The time in limbo was telling upon me.
In the meantime I did do some things. I took up rowing and finished my introduction to rowing with the local rowing club, then turned around and joined the club (more about that in another posting). I went on a 3-day cruise with the yacht club. I ordered some things for the sail in August from Seattle to San Diego (and then in October continuing on from San Diego to La Paz). I even started to think about what would I do if the underwriters declined coverage.
Mind you, the medical people and Clipper were doing the exact right thing, trying to ensure that there won't me a dire medical emergency aboard the yacht.
I didn't think that I, or you, really wanted to read day after day of "Nothing much to report". I know that I didn't want to write that, and the whole enterprise was useless if I wasn't going to make it into the Clippers.
Well, this morning I received an email from the Clipper organization. The underwriters have cleared me to participate. I'm in!
All of a sudden I'm renewed in purpose, I've started looking again at what else I should be doing to get into shape, what other skills I should acquire. What other experience an training I should get. The "car" that had been pretty much idling for the last few weeks is back in gear and the accelerator pressed down.
So what's next for the Clipper Race?
I'm still waiting on the contract from them, which I need to go over carefully. Some of the questions I have are things like, "What happens if an accident like a car crash occurs and I'm unable to participate?" "What about visas and similar travel documents?" (Of course, I have to have a passport, which I already do). "What do I need to supply?" and, of course, the ever-looming spectre of the financial aspects - paying for this whole shindig. So that's the next thing I'm waiting to look at. Along with the contract, they'll want £500 berth fee deposit to reserve my berth (although I'm not sure if that's 500 for the whole trip of 500 per leg), which is about $800 canadian dollars.
They have some (limited) level 1 training berths available this fall which I'd like to do, but with the delivery trips to San Diego and then Mexico, I'm not sure I have time to slot them in right now. If not, then it will have to wait until Spring of next year. We'll see. Actually, I'd like to do a single trip to England to do level 1 and level 2, perhaps separated by a week. That might be even more difficult to fit in since it would entail about three weeks (a week of level 1, a week off, and a week of level 2).
Emotionally, it's a strange mixture of fear and excitement. The race can be dangerous. People have died, people have been maimed, people have been hospitalized, people have been injured, although the percentage of those are drastically low and, of course, any of that can happen during any sailing venture. Plus it's a lot of just plain hard work. On the other hand, it's also racing around the freakin' world!!! How cool is that, eh?
I'll keep you all posted!
Remember the acronym "F.A.S.T." - it stands for "Face", "Arms", "Speech", "Telephone". If the face is droopy or arms are uneven/weak or tingly or speech is slurred, then telephone immediately. Better to call the ambulance and not need it than shrug it off and have needed it.
The symptoms typically arise suddenly and most commonly occur on one side of the body. Symptoms and signs of stroke can include numbness, weakness, tingling, or vision loss or changes. Confusion, changes in the level of consciousness, trouble speaking, trouble understanding speech, vertigo, and balance problems are other common symptoms. Headache, nausea, and vomiting sometimes accompany a stroke, particularly when the stroke involves bleeding inside the brain.