A New Ride Post and An Old Nemesis

Good news: after a rest day 2/12/14, I'm back on the bike* again, starting on my next half-century (more on that in a minute). The bad news? I had to spend part of my Tuesday at my Dr's office, because I was in a good deal of pain, with (of all things), recurring muscle contractions in my left jaw. Spasms that locked my jaw. They just came in waves...very painful waves. Had to do something.

Of course, when I mentioned "my left jaw," I imagine many of you were already clued in to where this strange malady was originating. If you said "uh oh...Bell's Palsy," you would be on the right track. It seems that the recent URI/virus I was battling has "negatively affected" good ol' Cranial Nerve VII...AKA "the facial nerve," and the one that got pinched during my bout with Bell's Palsy. (If you are new to my blog...or simply slept through my posts in 2012, here's the beginning of that long, sad tale...which has had a mixed, but mostly happy near-ending:
There's Good News and Bad News). Here's a link to some medical mumbo-jumbo about what's happening: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3070467/.  Bottom line? Blame it on a long-term complication of Bell's called synkenesis.

What to do? For starters, I've been given another round of a nerve pain drug called gabapentin...in a much higher dose. Much, much higher. 1200 MG per day vs. 100 MG. This stuff puts me to sleep at 100...can you imagine what 1200 can do?! I am working my way up the dosage ladder and thankfully building up my tolerance to the higher dosage. I'm up to 600 MG per day now...and I can stay awake during the day without too much trouble. Yea!

But the best news is that it is working! I have had NO MORE FACIAL MUSCLE SPASMS since Wednesday. None! And the left jaw pain has subsided to almost none. An added benefit is that gabapentin works equally well on any/all nerve pain in the body, so my back hasn't felt this good in years!! Double yea!!! Now, if I can make it all the way up the dosage ladder to 1200...and still drive my car...that will be the equivalent of grabbing the brass ring.

[To be clear, the gabapentin works to relieve the nerve pain. It can't relieve or remove the synkenesis. I have four options with that: live with it (which I have chosen by default), facial muscle retraining, Botox injections, or surgery. The last two terrify me, frankly. "Living with it" is the easiest, but will require me to take gabapentin for the rest of my life (hopefully at a lower dose). Retraining sounds like a nice alternative, but there is a major hitch: it requires a specially-trained physical therapist who works with facial paralysis patients. And at last count, there is ONE in North Carolina...at Duke in Durham. Read that last sentence again. My doctor's office is trying to get me an appointment, but I'm not holding my breath.]

Ok, so I may not be safe to be driving on our snow-covered (posted some pics of our latest SNOW on Flickr, which you can check out in the slideshow in the right column)streets yet, but I can ride a stationary bicycle! Here's the latest half-century (50 mile) report:

2/10/14:  11.2 miles today, putting me west of Deer Lodge, in the middle of Morgan County. Crossing from Eastern Time Zone to Central Time Zone ("the good time," as Mr. T and I call it, since we both grew up watching prime time programs beginning at 7:00) officially moves me from East Tennessee to Middle Tennessee. And that's about all I have to say about today's ride.

2/11/1410.2 miles today...remarkable because I spent this morning in pain and this afternoon in the doctor's office. Took just one 300 mg gabapentin after supper...and that made me so loopy that I couldn't recognize pain or fatigue if either slapped me silly. "Might as well ride my bike," sounded perfectly appropriate to me at the time. Mr. T walked in the door, after driving home from Maryland (!), saw me on my bike trying mightily to ride while also watching the TV (which seemed a lot more difficult to do than usual), and said: "That's the LAST place I expected to find you when I got home!"


I'm in Fentress County now, home to Sergeant Alvin C. York (one of the most-decorated WWI soldiers and a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient). This is beautiful country, some of it remaining wild and free. If I weren't following this Google-mapped route, I'd turn my bike to the north and ride through the county seat of Jamestown to Pall Mall to visit:

Sergeant Alvin C. York State Historic Park

This site is the homeplace of one of the most decorated war heroes of WWI. Stop at the general store and visitors center to find memorabilia and souvenirs, historical photos and newspaper clippings, and don't miss the 15-minute video history in the back. Explore the 1880s gristmill that York operated for years, and tour the family home, farm and burial site. Get your feet wet, enjoy the playground and have a picnic along the Wolf River. (from the TN Vacation website)

2/12/14: REST DAY...and boy did I need one! I'm also glad to have added another half-century to my totals!!! Actually, in my haze, it seems I totally missed counting a day (2/1/14), so my "half-century" is really 61 miles. That brings my ride total to (drum-roll, please): 366.4 miles!

If I were really riding through this part of Tennessee...and really taking a break "right here," I would find some way to get to nearby Rugby, Tennessee. Granted, I would have to cross back over into Eastern Time Zone, so I would technically be returning to East Tennessee from Middle Tennessee...but you won't tell, will you?

I have blogged before about a day trip Momma and I once took to Rugby (what a fun day that was!), where we came back to Smithville (where Momma and Daddy were living in their retirement) with fond memories, good intentions and a mostly-empty bag of apple fritters for Daddy and Mr. T. Still brings a smile to my face. Here's a bit more about Rugby from the TN Vacation website:
in Rugby


Nestled between the Big South Fork National Recreation Area and the Rugby State Natural Area, the town of Rugby is a rare example of a rural community with its original blueprint still intact. Perfectly preserved and restored to the utopian vision of its founder...it is one of the most authentically preserved historic villages in America. The town is perched at the top the Cumberland Plateau, founded in 1880 by British author and social reformer Thomas Hughes as a cooperative, class-free, agricultural community for younger sons of English gentry and others wishing to start life anew in America. His pilgrimage to the U.S. was in response to a combination of Britain's economic depression, and the policy that first-born sons inherited entire estates, while younger siblings were left with nothing. Hughes and other younger sons set sail for the Cumberland Plateau, and the resulting experiment brought a unique blend of British Isles to the area. Today, as a result of painstaking restoration and strict preservation, 20 original buildings still stand in this picturesque, Victorian community in the hills of East Tennessee.

2/13/1411 miles in 50 minutes. Feeling sooooooooo much better! Overshot my goal of 10.2 miles today before I even knew it (I was watching an episode of Salvage Dawgs, if you must know...:-). I'm getting stronger every day, increasing my MPH (started with a wimpy 9 mph; up to averaging about 12.5 mph!) and decreasing the amount of time it takes me to reach my goal for the day. I'm currently riding on a 21-mile stretch of TN Hwy 62 between Clarkrange and Monterey, so a mile here-or-there is OK. Crossed from Fentress County into Putnam County.

2/14/14: 10 miles in 45 minutes. Made it to Monterey. Woo hoo! I know from personal experience that there were more hills than valleys in my ride today, because we always said "the top of Monterey mountain" whenever we spoke about a trip through this part of Tennessee. "Monterey" is supposed to mean "King of the Mountain." Once known as Standing Stone, for the Native American landmark that once stood here on top of the Cumberland Plateau, this part of Tennessee became a refuge from the oppressive summertime-heat of the cities. From the TN Vacation Website: During the early 1900s, Monterey became a resort town that boasted seven hotels and drew summer guests who came to enjoy the cool temperatures and mountain scenery."

More recently, however, Monterey is near the site of my brother J and SIL J's wedding as the last century came to a close. They were married in an outdoor ceremony at The Garden Inn at Bee Rock, a beautiful setting a few minutes south of here. As a matter of fact, if you follow that link to their website and scroll down, you will see a quote from none other than Edith Lunn (imagine my own surprise at seeing that!). Go ahead and check it out...I'll wait.

Back again, eh? Well, I'm headed to the showers after my ride. Even though we have had snow on the ground for three days now, we are hoping to grill some steaks out and open a nice bottle of wine, back here in Reality...AKA High Point. It is, after all, Valentine's Day.


* Bike Ride Footnote: To bring you up-to-date, in case you are just joining me...

My plan to get/keep in shape for gardening this year is to ride my stationary bike. Because I always need a reason to do something...or at least to continue doing something, I have decided on a program based on a distance of 2600 miles...which is the distance from our house to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, as Google-mapped using the (beta) Bike function. I started 1/3/2014...and am continuing the saga today. 
BTW, I am tagging all the posts about my ride "Where in the USA is Patricia" on my blog, and #WhereintheUSAisPatricia on Twitter. While I won't be blogging about my ride on a daily basis, you can check my Twitter Feed over there in the right column for daily updates on my ride and location.

Happy pedaling!


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