Life is Strange, Make the Most of It


I have many unique and exotic experiences that I want to accomplish on my cycling bucket list, developing external iliac artery occlusion wasn’t one of them. The symptoms started on July 4th during a three hour ride with our club. I had just returned from Sweden the day before and felt great during the first half of the ride. I spontaneously lost all power in my right leg and wasn’t able to recover for the second half of the ride, barely being able to pedal back to my van. The power meter was my base line monitor for quantifying  my output based on effort. The first half of the ride I was putting out 275-300 watts with moderate effort, the second half I couldn’t put out more than 120 watts without going anaerobic. I justified the sudden loss of power with jet lag.

I came home that day, felt tired and discovered that I couldn’t walk more than fifty yards without going anaerobic, creating a limp with my right leg and I needed to stop walking until my leg recovered.  Fast forward past my ten days of visiting eight specialists trying to determine the cause of my sudden weakness. The conclusion to the cause of the intermittent claudication was an occluded right external iliac artery . I needed a bypass of the artery. I vetted out Dr. Ken Cherry , vascular surgeon at UVA who has done more of these external iliac artery bypass operations than any other surgeon in the country, most likely the world. He was quick to accommodate my request to have him do the operation and we scheduled surgery August 1st.

The plan was to take the Amtrak down to UVA on Tuesday July 31st, meet the doctor and his team and get the pre-op tests Wednesday, surgery on Thursday and back home on Sunday. A nice tight schedule to get what typically is a routine operation, from the best in his field, done with time to spare for a short recovery and check over period  before we headed home.

Things went sideways quickly. I won’t bore you with all of the details, and can’t remember most of them anyway because I spent the next ten days in either a drug induced state or was in so much pain my endorphins didn’t have time or detail on their priority list. I spent most of that period in what I would consider survival mode. My baseline thought was if any human being could deal with this pain, I should be able to endure it. I have many clients and friends who have gone through much worse than what I went through and was drawing strength from them. Thank you Matty Long for being run over by a bus, I thought of you often.

I proceeded to have four operations within six days. I lost 1/3 of my blood, almost lost my foot or leg and spent too much time looking up from the pre-op table at extremely concerned and worried anastesiaoloigists and surgeons. When crap is about to go down, I want my professional team to give me the look of  “we got this”, not the look of “we are going to do our best to get you through this”. Lie to me, I have no control in the outcome of what is about to happen next, so a little white lie wouldn’t hurt.

Fourteen days after rolling into Charlottesville, Va, Liz and I are planning to return and start the recovery phase of this rare condition. I look at life in lessons learned and what I would do differently if the situation presented itself again. The facts are, knowing what I know now, that I would make exactly the same decisions and choices that I did the first time. Things go sideways, the world isn’t perfect and people are people.

Liz and I met a bunch of great doctors, residents, nurses, PCA’s, transport people, technicians, PT ‘s and assorted staff at UVA. We did meet a nurse, Keith, who will be getting married this fall and most likely will be joining us for our Majorca trip in 2014. It was on his bucket list and probably was the real reason why this whole ordeal happened. Life is strange, make the most of it.



  1. Paul…

    I have no words to tell you how grateful I am that you are here with us all. You have been an amazing individual that I have been blessed to have in my life and I KNOW so many others feel the very same way. You have incredible support and love from us all and I know because of the incredible person that you are you have lots of help and assistance… and rightly so for all the kindness and support you have been to so many, many others. Just the same if I can be of any help in any way, please let me know. I am praying for your speedy and full recovery.

    hugs and love to you.

    Comment by Lauren Warren on August 11, 2013 at 1:52 pm

  2. I’m am so glad you are on the path to recovery Paul. Thanks for Sharing this as a reminder to us that life is precious and there is no time but the present to enjoy it. Speedy recovery. Hope to see you on the road before it gets cold.

    Best, Sub

    Comment by Sun Sachs on August 11, 2013 at 2:21 pm

  3. Paul – thank you for sharing your status!! I hope your healing goes faster. We miss you in the back office and I’ve been saving you a seat 😉

    Comment by Mary Beth on August 11, 2013 at 3:56 pm

  4. Holy cow – good luck and get better soon!

    Comment by Brian Coyne on August 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm

  5. Wow and shocked! Sounds like your on the road back and I look forward to riding with you again. Best of luck to you.

    Comment by Jamie on August 24, 2013 at 4:25 pm

  6. Legend…..referring to your when I was lucky enough to meet you in your Mahattan studio in June. Yes you words “make the most of it” really are perfect! Wishing you the quickest recovery!!! Regards Simon Masefield, MCR,UK.

    Comment by Simon Masefield on August 24, 2013 at 5:17 pm

  7. Yikes Paul, that is a terrifying tale. Here’s wishing you a speedy recovery.

    Comment by Peter Stock on August 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm

  8. Wow.

    Get back in the saddle soon.
    Your great attitude will serve you well as you recover.
    Thanks for sharing your story. It is yet another reminder to focus on the truly important (family, friends, relationships, living a life of meaning).

    We all wish you an in uneventful and fast recovery.


    Comment by Mitchell Gordon on August 25, 2013 at 8:05 am

  9. WTF-glad you are on the mend. You WILL be back in the saddle again. Any inkling what caused it ? Hope to see you in the fall . Len Gerber

    Comment by Len Gerber on August 25, 2013 at 6:58 pm

  10. Hey Paul,

    All I can say is “incredible”. Here’s wishing you a speedy recovery!

    Geoff Radbill

    Comment by Geoff Radbill on August 25, 2013 at 8:58 pm

  11. Wishing you a speedy recovery. Thank you for sharing your experience, you are really an inspiration,

    Comment by Adam Finkelstein on August 25, 2013 at 9:11 pm

The comments are closed.