I arrived at Playland at 9:00 in the evening to ride coaster number 174, the Dragon Coaster. After riding the Dragon Coaster, I felt uncomfortable in my right leg. Perhaps I thought, was just tired, and the pain would wear off in the morning. I left Playland at Midnight and started to drive back to Manhattan Island.
On my way to Manhattan, I managed to find my way back into New Jersey, where I was lost for 2 more long hours. My right leg now felt pretty painful, so I pulled my car over to check my leg to see if I couldn't loosen it up. I got out of the car, and noticed that I had a limp. Furthermore, I was not able to loosen up my leg. In fact stretching my leg caused more aggravation and pain. This did not look good at all, yet I insisted on finding out where I was, and driving around Manhattan Island. I told myself I could sleep off the soreness, and feel better in the morning. I returned to the car, found out where I was, and proceeded to Manhattan Island.
At 2:30 in the morning, I found the George Washington Bridge, which was the way to Manhattan Island. Now I am in so much pain, I failed to get in to the cash lane at the toll booth. The driver behind me honked his horn. The lady at the toll booth let me pass, but told me that I will be billed the $4 toll. I never got the bill. After I crossed the bridge, I drove around Manhattan Island like I wanted to, and figured my persistance paid off.
It was now close to 2:35 in the morning. The pain was so incredible, I used my hand to push my foot down on the accelerator. A taxi driver saw me, and asked if I was O.K. I assured him I was. As I took in the beautiful city lights of New York City, I saw the Empire State Building, The World Trade Center and more, I started to forget about my condition. In fact, I was so glad to be on Manhattan Island, I soon forgot about my bad leg. The 30 minute drive was most enjoyable as I listened to soothing classical music.
On Manhattan Island, I saw all types of people, including what looked like the homeless. I also saw beautiful buildings all lit up in different colors of white, yellow, and blue. I continued to drive on the outer edge of the island. I saw New Jersey from across the water. Wow, what a view. I passed the Holland Tunnel exit, the Brooklyn Bridge, and several other bridges. Soon my drive around the island was over, and I figured it was time to find a place to sleep. I drove back to the mainland, and found a place to sleep at about 4:00 in the morning. My odometer at this time was at 266,578.7 miles.
On Saturday, July 24, 1999, reality set in. I woke up at 8:00 in the morning naucious. I got out of my car, and felt very dizzy. My right leg was in such extreme pain, I almost went into shock, and came so close to passing out. I went back to the car, and rested for another 30 minutes. The dizziness left, but the pain remained. I ate some lunch and asked for some ice in a cup. Ice that I used for the bad leg to make it feel better.
This same afternoon, I arrived at Riverside Park in Agawam, Massachusetts at about 5:00 in the afternoon. Here, I rode the most brutal rollercoaster on earth, the Riverside Cyclone 5 times. I held my bad right leg down so the lap bar would not touch thus avoiding direct contact and more injury to my bad leg. I was feeling good about being able to handle this brutal ride in my condition. The pain started to go away, and I was able to walk with less of a limp. I figured I would be well in a few days. In fact, I started to become so over confident, I forgot about my bad leg.
I decided to ride Riverside Cyclone, one last time. This time, I would take on this brutal ride at night, and in the back, but this time I forgot to hold down my bad leg below the lap bar. This rough ride threw me, and my bad leg into the lapbar. I continued to ride this ride from hell doubled over, and realized I had to get my body sitting up straight, or I would sustain additional injuries. The guy next to me was concerned, and looked pretty worried about what had happened to me. When the ride stopped, the ride attendants knew something was wrong as they helped me get out of the train. The pain increased. As I limped away from that incident hearing "Are you alright sir?" , I lost feeling in the lower leg and used my upper thigh to walk.
The pain was so great, I asked the refreshment vendor for some ice who told me to help myself. The vendor suggested that I put the ice in my pocket. As the ice in my pant pocket melted, I noticed some people were staring.This was because the ice melted through the pant pocket and I guess they thought, I had an accident. Even though this looked bad for me, the ice helped me feel better so I went back to the vendor and got some more ice. Now the whole front of my pants were wet.
Now most people would end the day, but not me, I continued onward. From this moment forward, I realized I needed to ride the rest of the coasters by letting my left leg take all of the punishment, and leaving my right leg to lie down low, so there would be no further contact with my bad leg. I continued to ride the Thunderbolt, a much milder ride. I later found suspended coasters, like the Mind Eraser, were the most challenging to ride, and there were some moments when the pain became almost unbearable especially when going through the inversions, as you feel your legs sway from side to side..
Later that night, as I limped to the Riverside Park parking lot to get into my car, I ran into another little wrinkle: I was unable to lift my right leg by itself. In fact, used both my hands to lift my leg into the car. Once in the car, I used both hands to lift my leg to place it over the accelerator. I became concerned about my leg wondering if I had done permanent damage. I set out to find a place to sleep hoping the next morning, my leg would feel better. Getting to sleep was hard, and I woke up in the night several times only to feel muscle spasms in my bad leg.
On Sunday, July 25, there was no improvement, but I gave my leg one more day before calling for a second opinion. On this day, I entered Maine and rode Excalibur at Funtown. As long as I did not let my bad leg touch the lap bar, riding coasters for the rest of the trip was not a problem, even though I continued to walk with a limp. As the day ended, my pain increased, and so did my concerns. Even though, I did not know the severity of what I had, I decided to sleep one more night in pain. If there was no improvement the next day, I would make a few phone calls to see if I could find out what was going on with my right leg.
On Monday, July 26, there was still no improvement, and now I was so concerned, I decided to do something about it. In addition, I was ready to end the trip, and head for home unless I knew what I had, and could get some moral support. At this time, I called a friend, and she said "It sounds like you're at war with these rollercoasters". She thought that before I really got hurt, I should return home. This was not good, so I called my father.
My father had done several long driving trips, and he told me that he felt that what I had was not a big deal. My father encouraged me to keep on going. Now it was one for and one against, so I called Buddy in Florida, who also did cross country drives. Buddy felt what I had was driving related and told me not to worry, but encouraged me to keep going. Buddy was the tiebreaker. As a result, I continued on with the tour, and worked through my discomfort.
The following day, Tuesday, I went into Montreal Canada and rode Le Monstre. The second most brutal ride on the tour. I only rode this 3 times because of the pain I was already in. Le Monstre was cool because you could listen to an audio track while riding. Of course what do I do? I once again forgot about my bad leg as I got into the audio track and my leg slammed against the lap bar. Will I ever learn? I won't repeat what I said because it wasn't very pretty. I ended the day practically on my hands on knees. Thankfully the car was parked close to the park entrance under the Jaques Cartier Bridge.
A few days later, at a gas station, I asked the tenant about what I had. I learned that I had something called trucker's leg, a very painful condition that truckers deal with while driving cross country. The tenant recommened taking care of trucker's leg with ice, which I will call deadleg because deadleg sounds more painful. Now I knew what I had, and how to take care of it. Sadly, it was my over-confident self, that had to have that last ride on the Riverside Cyclone, which created most of the injury. That last ride delivered the final blow to my leg as I rode this brutal ride at night in the back with both hands in the air. Now I knew what was going on, my desire to end the trip was over, and since the Riverside Cyclone did me in, I was now at war with the rollercoasters, determined to win, even though I still had more than 200 coasters to ride. One last wrinkle, I noted a purple discoloration and swelling in the lower back part of my leg, something I knew ice could take care of. So now I was on my way to recovery. Sure!
On Thursday, August 5, at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, the pain hit an all time high. Now the waiting in long lines aggravated my bad leg. This park was so busy, I waited over an hour to ride the Raptor an inverted rollercoaster I also rode in such extreme pain, my eyes watered. At 11:30 that night, I rode the Magnum XL 200 for the last time.. Since I arrived at 9:00 in the morning, my car was close to the main gate. The so-called short walk took over 30 minutes; each step became progressively more painful.
On Saturday, August 7, 1999, I arrived at Kings Island. Once again I waited over an hour for a couple of rides, followed by a 2 hour wait for their most brutal ride, The Beast. I left the park in extreme pain, so I went to Wendy's and asked for ice. When I told the girl what had happened at the drive thru window, she told me that many people came through for some ice especially after riding the Beast. I didn't bother telling her that I had previously ridden 273 other rollercoasters, and so the war continued.
My condition finally improved on Wednesday, August 11, when I went to see my cousin in Wisconsin. Here, I slowed down for the next 2 days. On this same day, the healing began and the discoloration and swelling on my leg started to leave. I still continued to be careful while riding the rollercoasters until returning to California on September 1, 1999, where the mileage reached 280,983.9.
In summary: the deadleg in my right leg, came about after driving close to 10,000 miles in one month, and stayed with me for the next 5 weeks and 14,000 miles! The standing in line and the rollercoaster rides also contributed to the pain. The only thing that kept me going was my passion to ride 411 rollercoasters.
I am glad that I continued to go on the tour, because after I returned home, even though my left leg was well, my neck and upper back were sore for the next 2 months from riding 411 rollercoasters, one, the Mamba, 17 times!
In addition, I was satisfied that I had won the war of the coasters.
Warning: If you take this trip, beware of deadleg, for this painful condition is worse then you can ever imagine. Think of someone taking a rubber mallet and hitting your leg lightly on a regular basis. At first, you feel little pain, but in time the pain increases more and more to where you feel like going insane!
Lesson learned: If I could do this again, I would have remembered to hold my bad leg down on the Riverside Cyclone and add 14 days of rest to the 13 week trip. I think these two things would have prevented the deadleg from setting in.
I'm not a doctor, so I'd recommend you not do what I did. If you use ice, and your condition doesn't change in 2-3 days, go see a doctor, or suffer the consequences.