Monday, August 11, 2008

Inlet, New York

Some days are tougher than others. My denial about MS carried me 3500 miles to Palmyra, NY. I started getting weaker and unable to climb hills. By Selkirk Shores State Park, I had about half my usual strength. We camped in a torrential storm with lightning and thunder which dampened our moods a bit. There were lakes several inches deep in most of the camp spots. People were yelling "Ahoy" to each other the next morning. The kids' tent had sprung a leak in the rain fly. Their gear and sleeping bags were pretty wet. Dan and I were very proud of the children because they problem solved by putting their books and things that had to stay dry in the legs of their rain pants, and stuffing a raincoat between the outside of the tent and the rainfly to slow down the leak. The campground had a recreation room with ping pong and board games. The kids hustled over there in the rain, and were able to dry out and have some fun while Dan and I packed up the tents.

It continued raining through the morning. We stopped for lunch in Pulaski, NY. A lady and her cousin saw the bikes in town and later saw us (me)struggling up the hills as they were driving home. Carol told her cousin Jeannie, and her husband Charlie: "If they ride past the house, I am going to ask them to come in and get dried off." That's exactly what she did, and we accepted her kind offer. Carol and Charlie were angels in human form. They fed us and took care of us. Charlie even drove me to the hospital 40 miles away and waited in his truck for five hours while I got seen in the ER for an infusion of Solumedrol to shut down the MS exacerbation. The doc wanted me to stay in the hospital for three days, but I asked him not to do that because we are getting close to the end of the trip, and I didn't want to lose three days. Meanwhile, back at Carol and Charlie's house, she fed the children and got them into bed and waited up until midnight to make sure Dan and I got dinner also. Carol and Charlie's daughter Kim was there with her children about Gus and Sonia's age, so it was nice for the kids to get a break from the stress and play for awhile.

The next day I had a return of my strength, but it only lasted 24 hours. We have been making 20-35 miles, instead of the usual 45-65 miles per day. We are trying to get to Ticonderoga, NY, two days from here, where there is another hospital, and I will have to layover there two days.

It breaks my heart that I will not be able to ride to Acadia National Park, but if we can get to Portland, ME, perhaps we can rent a van and go explore Acadia, and then ship the bikes out from Bangor, then back to Portland on Aug 21st and fly to Portland, Oregon on the 22nd as planned. Uncertainty is hard for a control freak like me, but I'm trying to make the best of what the day brings me.

Thanks for all your love and encouragement, Alison


Beverly Titus said...

Allison, your courage and strength has to be an inspiration to all who know of this ride. I've been telling everyone I know. I understand all too well the control freak aspect of your life right now, and I know you won't let that cloud your judgement about what your body needs. Take care of it now, so there can be another next year. I will add your name to my prayer list.

Anonymous said...

Dear Alison,
You are indispensable to your family and (almost) to your patients and Clinic family. So please do whatever you need to do to take good care of your health. And know that you are constantly in my thoughts and prayers. Can't wait to see you again, hopefully after you finish pedaling to Portland!

Love and miss you,

Debi Toews said...

You're a champ in my book! Overcoming MS to ride 3,500 miles of loaded touring is astounding. As a fellow cyclist, I greatly respect anyone who rides 3,500 miles, let alone with MS.
You are amazing, Alison.

Elaine said...

Alison, in my mind you have already reached your goal. Anyone who can do what you have done this summer is way beyond a hero in my book. Whether you can make it to Portland or have to cut your trip even shorter, you did what you set out to do. Another option, if you and Dan can work it out with your jobs and your plane reservations is to send the kids home as planned. I'll pick them up, then take them to Walla Walla and stay with them until you get home. I'm sure Terri or someone will be able to help me get them started in school. That will give you a few more days to catch up on your rest and possibly even get those last few miles without the stress and pressure of a time schedule. Please take care of yourself. We love you. Mom and Dad

Terri said...

I am here to help support all of you in any way possible or needed. All you have to do is let me know. I am here for all of you. You have had an amazing ride and you need to do what you need to do! YOU must take care of yourself- and the family. Know you are in my heart, thoughts and prayers.

Love & hugs from WW- Terri

Anonymous said...

Alison, I am so sorry. I can only imagine the disappointment you must feel. How hard it must be for you to want to do something so badly and to be slowed down b/c your body won't let you. However, look at what you have accomplished!! You have done more with your illness than many people in a lifetime. You are inspirational. You and Dan have brought about an awareness of family, of the country, of our behavior towards others, and also MS. You have been Walla Walla's hero for three months. That is amazing. Everyone here loves you and wants you all to return home safe and healthy. I am very proud to know you and you have every right to be proud of what you have accomplished as a family. Please take care. Love, Chandra

barb said...

Alison, Dan, Sonia and Gus,
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have met you on this incredible journey. You were so much fun to talk to and I just love reading you ride journal. Dan, I don't know what your profession is, but if it does not include writing, you have missed your calling. If you ever write a book about this, I'll be the first person in line to buy it.

Alison, when we met I did not know that you had MS. At the time I though that you were extremely courageous just for riding cross country with your family along. Now, I cannot find words to explain my admiration. You are one strong woman! I really do count myself lucky to have met you.

No matter where you guys end up, you will have accomplished an incredible thing. Remember, the fun of a journey is not the destination, it is all the little things along the way. Good luck and take care of yourselves. I hope that our paths cross again.
Barb Wade

Terri said...

I thought I left a comment this a.m, but can't find it. If this is a repeat, please forgive.

After sleeping on your situation, I would like to make a suggestion. This has been a family trip- and if you are able to extend the trip, the kids should stay also. I am sure we can make things work on this end.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Safe travels- Terri from !!

Anonymous said...

Oh, our dear Alison!! To see you in the hospital picture tears at our souls. We always hold you in our hearts, and wish you the best. You over-achiever you!! We are so proud of you and your family; so many wonderful things have and will come out of this whole experience for you, Dan and the kiddos. Stay strong, Alison and know that we are always here and loving you. Your family at Evergreen Peds!!

Anonymous said...

allison, i hope u can make it all the way and i will pray for u and your kids and dan for making it all the way. i will keeping praying for u untill u make it all the way.

sincerly, Daniel Walla Walla

teva said...

Doc. I know how disappointing it can be to be unable to do something because of a disease that butts in at just the wrong time. You know what you can and cannot do. Be careful.
I’m glad you have had a good ride so far. You have shown how much stronger you are than MS. We are all very proud of your accomplishment.

klawbaugh said...

Wow Allison,

I didn't know you had MS. You've been an inspiration to me of "going after dreams and goals" and now I have a deeper appreciation for your drive.

I agree with Terri about keeping the kids with you if possible if you decide to extend your trip.

The first week or so of school is incomparable to the experience they are gaining with you and Dan. And your kids will catch up just fine!

And Dan, get a sub! As a co-worker, I whole heartedly support this family adventure of yours...your students will be fine that first week or so without you! I know it makes for a crazy transition back to teaching, but this experience and adventure you are on with your family far outweighs the first week of school in my mind!

-Kim Lawbaugh