Okay, things are getting clearer as to what, exactly, happened to me on my bike ride this past Sunday. As you recall, I was feeling great, and riding well, for the first 15 miles of my ride. Then I stopped for a short break, and a bottle of sugar-free Gatorade, and all hell broke loose with my body.
I have suspected that the Gatorade was the culprit, since the symptoms appeared immediately after I drank it. And, in discussing my situation with our nurse friend, while we were trying to decide whether or not to go to the ER, she mentioned that an electrolyte imbalance can cause arhythmia, which also seemed to point to the Gatorade. But the blood work I had done showed nothing unusual regarding my electrolytes, so that seemed like a dead end.
Then, after I got back home, I was telling another friend about what had happened, and he perked up his ears when I mentioned the Gatorade. He asked me specifically whether it was regular Gatorade, or sugar-free, and I told him it was sugar-free, since, with my diet, I'm off sugar. (Just to get the full irony of the situation, I would normally have a bottle of unsweetened iced tea, but it was late in the afternoon, and I didn't want the caffeine.) Then he pointed me to this web site, which describes the link between aspartame and something called Sudden Cardiac Death. The article cites numerous cases of otherwise very-healthy individuals dying suddenly while engaged in strenuous athletic activity, during which they consume aspartame. And the description fits virtually exactly what happened to me. To quote the article: "the shock from strenuous athletics in combination with aspartame consumption. . . leads to activation of shock mechanisms. . . the cardiac conduction system that generates the impulses regulating the heart suddenly sends rapid [and/or] chaotic impulses." Which is pretty much exactly what I experienced. Aspartame poisoning; who knew? The fact that the article references something called 'Sudden Cardiac Death' is sobering in the extreme (I experienced a milder form called 'Sudden Cardiac Feeling Like Shit')
Of course, the FDA has approved aspartame, but one could reasonably wonder why. You all are adults, and I trust you are competent to make your own decisions as to what foods you purchase and consume. But aspartame (and virtually all 'sugar-free' foods/drinks contain aspartame) damn near did me in; and thousands of folks every year are less fortunate than I was. If this is news to you, I'd encourage you to give serious consideration to deleting aspartame from your diet. Or at least, don't engage in strenuous athletic activity while you consume it. That shit is deadly. . .
Alas, the news concerning my dad is not so happy. The stroke he had was a massive one, involving two-thirds of one side of his brain, and we are now basically waiting for him to die. It may be soon, or it may be not-so-soon, but Dad as we've known him is gone. I will miss him terribly. I've said elsewhere that Dad is one of the very best things that ever happened to me, and I will always be grateful that, of all the families I might have been adopted into, I was adopted into his. . .