Happiness and fitness come from my DIY-Peloton: the 2020 update

A few years ago I decided to piece together my own Peloton-compatible stationary bike, it has been a fantastic investment in me. Building your own is easy and significantly cheaper than buying the bike Peloton sells!

Ironically placed in a window overlooking the Pacific for its first few years of service, my Sunny Bike was in storage for the last 12 months and I ached to get it back. When I packed my life into storage last April I thought I would be living in a new home by the end of summer, and haphazardly packed stuff into boxes as labeled by a madman. I did not take my cycling shoes, shorts, heart-rate monitor with me.

Of the 11,000lbs of crap I had in storage, I spent a year missing 3 cardigans, my espresso machine, and the fakey-Peloton. I was thrilled when I saw the movers haul it out of the truck and bring it into my home. It took three days to find the espresso machine.

In the months before going into storage, my physical therapist told me I had to stop riding the Sunny Bike as often as I had been. I was riding 5-6x a week and he suggested some of my back problems might be alleviated by riding less and doing more core building strength exercises. I find that riding the bike not only helped me burn calories, and maintain a better level of cardio fitness than I had in years, it was a huge emotional release, and frequently as I pedaled my heart out, I would just start to laugh or cry. Read the rest

Scenes from a heart surgery

This is absolutely wonderful, and absolutely not for the squeamish.

Defective Heart Girl Problems is a blog where physicist Summer Ash has blogged her experience with finding out that she has a defective heart valve and getting treatment to deal with that defect. The image above shows her scar from her recent surgery.

Ash went through surgery to repair her heart on July 18th. Here's how she explains the problem:

I recently discovered that I was born with a congenital heart defect known as bicuspid aortic valve disease (BAVD). It’s not a disease, per se, so much as a defect. Most people (roughly 99% of them) are born with a tricuspid aortic valve. I am the lucky 1% born with a bicuspid valve. (I am the 1%!)

As a bonus, being born with this genetic mutation also means the lower part of my aorta, the part that connects to the aortic valve and helps channel the flow of oxygenated blood into the arteries, has less fibrillin-1 – a protein that helps to maintain the structural integrity of the aortic wall. This means that my aorta is prone to “stretching out” and even the normal stress of blood flow coming out of the heart and being channelled to the rest of the body is enough to cause it to start ballooning outward.

The nominal course of BAVD usually entails the aortic valve calcifying and stiffening later in life (60s – 70s), ending in valve replacement surgery. Some people will also need the root of their aortas replaced at this time, some may not.

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