Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Blog About Cycling?

I have had a couple of down days lately; just feeling a bit more tired and needing more nap time. At the same time I am starting to work into an exercise routine. I have been taking the girls to the park. While they play on the swings and slides, I walk loops around the playground on chipped bark. It is great for me since it is soft and irregular. Padding and balance work, perfect. The legs are getting stronger but my feet are starting to feel a bit hammered. Also I have some more rib pain creeping back.

Despite all this yesterday, I threw my leg over my spin bike. For those that don't know, that is a sort of a stationary bike that is used in gyms for "spin" classes. I only pedaled for about 3-5 minutes to try it out. I was wearing jeans after all. But it felt great. I set the resistance at nil and just did circles with the platform pedals. Uncle Mike D. was there to spot me but I was really OK on my own. The bike is very stable and the stand over is really low, so it was easy to get on and off. I can't tell you how good it felt to do that oh so familiar motion. You cyclists out there know what I am talking about, the zen feeling of moving your legs around and around. It was a real spirit booster.

My last real bike ride was on winter solstice Dec. 21st of last year. I am not sure if it is realistic and I am going to talk to my docs about it but I think that I am going to set the goal of that anniversary for my first day back on the bike. I am thinking one lap on the side walk around HLP .

So it is official, I just broke months long silence, this is a blog about biking again, well, at least me biking. You've got to know that I think about riding all the time. I have been craving Mountain Biking at Cronan Ranch but that is still far away. Maybe in the spring. I daydream a lot about some of the great rides I've done. This morning I was thinking of the time that Curtis, Tom and I rode to Coloma from Jackson on a bluebird fall day. One way shuttle rides are the best! I am really looking forward to having enough endurance to do a 20 mile ride. I would love to go down to Lincoln and ride the flat country roads down there. Of course, there would be a stop at that great taqueria just off the main drag for a super burrito with extra guacamole.

The transition is happening, I am talking and thinking about things other than cancer more and more.

Got a favorite ride of ride memory? I'd love to hear it! Chime in.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Stories of Gratitude: Charlie and Nancy

Today I have a Story of Gratitude to tell.

There is so much to be thankful for. In one respect I see this blog as an expression of my gratitude on a semi –regular basis. This year, I have my health and my family to be thankful for now more than ever. It is such a simple statement but it means so much more this year.
I was first diagnosed with cancer in February of ’08. We knew it was most likely cancer for about a week before the actual diagnosis. Our world was starting to come unraveled in a big way. I was going to multiple doctor’s appointments, feeling progressively worse, and we were just plain scared. Early on we realized that we were going to need help.

When you have got troubles and you need someone solid to step in and take care of business there is no one like Charlie and Nancy. They are the parents of the Chickenhawk and it is clear that the apple does not fall far from the tree. They are not afraid of hard work and there was a ton to be done. They first did the eight hour drive down from Bend OR in February, moved into our very small guest house and started running the home. Nancy took over all the regular pink jobs and Charlie took over all the blue jobs that keep the kids fed and healthy and the house in shape. They had no complaints, just eagerness to jump in. That freed the C/H up to schlep me to countless doctor’s appointments and to help with my day to day needs.
As the months went by, I became more and more incapacitated and our needs increased. Of course lots of folks helped, but nobody put in more time, blood, sweat and tears than Charlie and Nancy. They made the trip down from Bend more times than I can count, probably five or ten. Each time they would arrive and just take over. Nancy would clean the messes that we just couldn’t get to and make homemade meals that kept us running. Charlie jumped on the outdoor projects; landscaping, gutter cleaning, car repair and home maintenance, all the things that I couldn’t hope to do. They made countless trips to home depot, the grocery store, the pharmacy and everything else.

Most of all, they took care of our girls. While the Chickenhawk and I were fighting the fight for my life. We were distracted and unable to be the parents that we want to be. That was really one of the hardest things to get through in the whole cancer process. But we never worried when the girls were with Charlie and Nancy.

At the height of the summer when I was in and out of the hospital with infections and procedures, the girls went to Bend for over a month. They stayed with Charlie and Nancy (and Aunt Shalyn and Uncle Lance) but the time in Bend is another story. While they were there they spent many days with Nana and Papa; camping, swim lessons, trips to the playground. Their help, love, tenacity and work ethic made an immeasurable improvement during the last 9 months for my family. So today, among many other things, I am grateful for Charlie and Nancy. Thank you!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lance, Dope, Cancer and Understanding

Google's spell checker is on the blink today so I apologize for bad spelling:
Ocassionaly I seem to hit a nerve. I'll try to keep it up. I am refering the comments generated by my last post. Click on that and read if you want this to make any sense. The Lance/ doping thing really sticks with me. As a cancer survivor he is a very important role model for me. In so many ways I emulate what he has done. I want to give back and to support those with cancer. I like the mission of the LAF, they helped me immensly. I also want to make a comeback to being an athlete and he has shown me that it can be done. I apperciate his work ethic and determination.

I just think that eventually the other shoe is going to drop and it will become clear that everything he has done on a bike is a lie. (I already believe that.) So I am in a wierd place, feeling ripped off and inspired at the same time. It is about the difference between choosing to believe to keep from being disappointed and believing what I see and reconciling the difference.

Lance is almost not real. I mean really, he is a BRAND. He has approached his whole career that way. There is merchandise. There are millions in endorsments. He creates a small industry by existing. There are numerous people that make a living off him. All of those people are invested in the lie continuing.

Then there is addiction. Imagine the feeling of being Lance. Incredible power on the bike, you are untouchable in the mountains. You win the biggest race in the world. You get power, money and the adulation of the masses. Everything tells you that you are the greatest. For someone with and addictive personality, this is a recipe for substance abuse. It allows the person to hide from their true demons in a warm fuzzy glow. And the man has demons; he grew up without a father, angry and abandoned. I can easily see how long term use of perfomance enhancers would change your opinion of yourself. Eventually I can see believing that the enhanced performance is coming from me and my training rather than the needle. It would just become a part of you.

When you strip away the BRAND of Lance Armstrong you get a man. A man like everyone else with faults and strenghts. That is what I can accept. I see a man in turmoil fighting like a gladiator to maintain a lie. Ultimatley that lie is a lie he is telling himself. We all do that. Unfortunatley that is how we keep from growing as indviduals. So I take the man and see him for what he is (in my eyes). I still hold him as a role model. I also feel sad for him and wish him healing and inner peace. I have an autographed Lance Armstong picture that I count as a prized possesion.

OK I think I can be done with this topic. I just needed to wrestle with it a bit, thanks for humoring me.

In recovery news: I went to Stanford yesterday. Mary was so sweet to drive me. The appointment went really well. The Doc said I am looking great and recovering as expected. I don't have to go back until the 19th (three weeks)!!!! I am tapering prednisone (steroid) I have been on a pretty high dose and it is one of those things that you cant quit cold turkey. As a result I have had some moments of incredible fatigue that sometimes is accompanied by anxiety or mood swings. Not fun! Those are my complaints. Mostly I am feeling really good and better daily.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stuff, Items and Things

I am just finishing the book: From Lance to Landis, Inside the American Doping Controversy at the Tour De France. It has convinced me that Lance Armstrong doped his way through his career starting in at least 1999 but probably before his bout with cancer. There is too much damming evidence to see it any other way. That makes me sad and it makes me feel ripped off. It makes me think of the culture of lying that so many in public life have resorted to. I feel like I have been lied to by my favorite sports figures as well as the people running my government for the last 10-12 years. Clinton lied, Bush lied, Colin Powell lied, Lance lied, Floyd lied, even innocent Tyler Hamilton lied like a rug. We the people seem to just roll over and accept the lies, like it is just part of the game. This is hardly new news but what the heck, I just read the book (thanks for the loan Ray).

I still have a ton of respect for Lance. After all he has done to help people with cancer, I just give him a pass. At the same time I feel sad for him. He seems like a classic addict. Perhaps that is what the peleton needs; a 12 step program for performance enhancing drugs. I can just see Jonathan Vaughters leading the group sessions. "I am Jonathan and I am a power a-holic." Well just like so much of the rest of the world right now there is healing happening. Team High Road (Columbia) and Garmin Chipotle are running transparently drug free programs and doing quite well. Wow! Come to me for the latest in cycling news. Well, maybe this is interesting for my non-cycling readers. Hey non cycling readers! Let me know if you give a darn. I am pretty sure I am just rambling.

On to more stuff. Recovery report: I am more and more nimble. I am using the cane less and less. The pain in my legs is lessening. The other night, I saw myself in a mirror naked for the first time in a long time. It freaked me out. I mean I started crying. My upper body legs and butt are completely emaciated. I am trying to put on weight by eating so I have a roll of fat around my middle so I sort of look like a cross between a alien from Close Encounters and a concentration camp survivor. This made me realize that it is time to start a real training plan to bring my body back into shape. It is time to start thinking like an athlete again. My big hurdle is working out a time when I focus on fitness. I'll report back about this once I've worked it out.

Other recovery news. I started tapering my prednisone dose again. Yesterday I experienced fatigue like I have never felt before. I ended up sleeping from 2PM to 5PM. I woke up feeling awful; tired, depressed, and like I just couldn't do anything. What a drag... It is kind of hard to accept that there are days like this when I have been doing so well. There are up days and down days... I'll take 'em both. That is life.

I exchanged emails with Lars Holbek! He is an old friend that was diagnosed with some form of Lymphoma by my understanding. He first felt pain while on a raft trip on the Grand Canyon and had to be helicoptered out. His comment to me in the email was that he is probably the first person to be e-vaced from the canyon with Liver Tumors. That is just another river running first for Lars. He is recognized as the pioneer of California Whitewater. He explored and was the first to descend many (most?) of the difficult Class V whitewater in the Sierra Nevada as well as the rest of the state. He is also a heckuva god guy who does not deserve to get cancer. My heart goes out to him and his partner Nancy.

OK here is the last bit of items: I got a great link to an article about David Weins, the guy who beat Lance Armstrong in the Leadville 100. Just a regular guy with a wife and kids and a job(?).
Click Here to read the article and see the video (Thanks Bill B.)

Bert Wells sent me another link about the End Of Wall Street. It reflects just how incompetent, clueless and out of control many of the people that are running our financial system are. It is a great read. Click Here to check it out.
Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Down Day

Recovery has been going really well lately. I've felt better every day and gotten stronger. Today I woke up just feeling down, tired and yucky. As the day goes by I am feeling better tho'. It has been a huge week. I started driving on Wednesday and did my first solo trip into town on Thursday. I met Patrick for lunch at the fresh mex taqueria. It was great. So good to fly solo.
I went to see my Kaiser oncologist on Wednesday. It was a good meeting, I got my pic line removed. That is the little set of tubes that allow me to hooked up to an I.V. or have blood drawn without a needle. So now my body is free of medical devices.
While we were visiting the doc, the CH asked if it was OK for me to drive. At first the doc said, "yes, whatever you feel you can do is OK." Then the CH asked, "what about the pain meds he's on?" Then the doc completely changed his mind and said no way, too dangerous, impaired reaction time blah, blah, blah. As he was talking I felt my blood begin to boil. The thing that gets me the most angry right now is when someone else argues for my limitations. I feel too lucid and 'with it" now to have someone else tell me what I can and cannot do. I've been through months of people making decisions for me, necessarily and now I want to make my own decisions.
At the end of the conversation the doc gave away his bias by saying that people should not talk on the cell phone while driving. That made me take everything he was saying with a big grain of salt. Later that day the CH talked to the pharmacist who said that driving with the amount of MS contin I am taking is no problem. Bottom line, I am driving. Not far, not fast, just driving. As far as my limitations, I will take your opinion into consideration and make the decision for myself.
The CH took Thursday and Friday off and spent the night at Harbin Hot Springs . Great for her! She needs more and more of that sort of pampering after what this cancer has put her through. I flew solo with the kids with the help of Bill and Katie. We took them to the end of the season soccer pizza party on Thursday night and then they helped me get them ready for bed. It was a bit of tap on my reserves but it went really well all in all. I am really glad that the CH got out.
That's all I've got for now. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day!
Please be sure to acknowledge those who have served so that we can be safe happy and free! Take a moment to remember those who gave all.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

An Economic Rescue Package to Save the Human Race

Good Op Ed Piece click here
I am back. Scroll down for news of my progress.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A New Post ('bout time)

There Just does not seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. Especially updating this blog. Now that I am home and becoming independent I am taking over control of my own medical care. I am finding out how incredibly time consuming it is. I have to coordinate with Stanford, Kaiser and several different specialists at each place. Not to mention that my teeth have gotten hammered from the Chemo and I have been to see Dr. Scooter the amazing the amazing Coloma Lotus dentist for a crown (and possible extraction.)
Yesterday was a trip to Stanford. My Doc said that I looked the best that he has ever seen me. I feel that way too! He told me he doesn’t need to see me next Friday!!!!! I am so happy about that I cant tell you. Yesterday Mary drove me and Terry came along. It took over 7.5 hours of driving there and back, which for me right now is pretty grueling. Terry and Mary were great sports though. Thanks a ton you guys!

My recovery is coming along beautifully. I feel better than I have since last spring. The pain that I was experiencing is way, way down. I am walking with a cane but pretty well. My legs are still recovering strength and balance. I have neuropathy in my feet which is a fancy way of saying pins and needles, all the time. It deadens my sense of touch significantly which makes balance a challenge. My lungs are still recovering, my aerobic capacity is limited so I am not quite ready to go out and do hill repeats just yet.

Comments Comments Comments
Thanks to Tom, Anon 8:59, Bikesgonewild and for everyone else jumping in on the political comments. Last week I wrote about my optimism stemming from what is happening in the our country right now as well as for me. The CH and I watched both McCain’s speech as well as Obama’s on Tuesday. It was interesting that even though McCain was very appropriate with his words, taking responsibility for his own campaign’s mistakes, giving credit and respect to Obama, and asking his supporters to do so as well, that the audience still booed when Obama’s name was mentioned. That is the sort of thing that we don’t need right now. I don’t think that there are many people out there that can say that their life is better because of the Bush administrations last eight years. We have a real opportunity to move our country in the a better direction right now. I don’t think that Obama is going to wave a magic wand and fix everything. He is however our President elect and as such I think he deserves at least the benefit of the doubt if not support.

Heck I even believed Bush when he told us there was WMD’s in Iraq. I thought that something as important as the cause for war would be something to be truthful about. What a crock. These are the same folks that spread rumors that Obama is a Muslim.

I digress. Here is what I want to say; I like politics, I like writing about politics, I like talking politics and I got really excited that people were making comments. So lets keep it up. If your opinion is different from mine and other commentors that is good! I want to know what you think. I listen and learn as much as I can. Our country is in crisis and the thing that is going to make change for the better is an engaged population that respects each other and works together, so please be respectful .
Here is an email that was sent to me by my Dad it is allegedly written by Michael Moore. I really liked it because it represents that sense of optimism that I have been feeling. I think there are some out there that are feeling doom and gloom over this election. Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling for the last 8 years.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008
Who among us is not at a loss for words? Tears pour out. Tears of joy. Tears of relief. A stunning,
whopping landslide of hope in a time of deep despair. In a nation that was founded on genocide and then built on the backs of slaves, it was an unexpected moment, shocking in its simplicity: Barack Obama, a good man, a black man, said he would bring change to Washington, and the majority of the country liked that idea. The racists were present throughout the campaign and in the voting booth. But they are no longer the majority, and we will see their flame of hate fizzle
out in our lifetime.
There was another important "first" last night. Never before in our history has an avowed anti-war candidate been elected president during a time of war. I hope President-elect Obama remembers that as he considers expanding the war in Afghanistan. The faith we now have will be lost if he forgets the main issue on which he beat his fellow Dems in the primaries and then a great war hero in the general election: The people of America are tired of war. Sick and tired. And their voice was loud and clear yesterday.

It's been an inexcusable 44 years since a Democrat running for president has received even just 51% of the vote. That's because most Americans haven't really liked the Democrats. They see them as rarely having the guts to get the job done or
stand up for the working people they say they support. Well, here's their chance. It has been handed to them, via the voting public, in the form of a man who is not a party hack, not a set-for-life Beltway bureaucrat. Will he now become one of them, or will he force them to be more like him? We pray for the latter. But today we celebrate this triumph of decency over personal attack, of peace over war, of intelligence over a belief that Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs just 6,000 years ago. What will it be like to have a smart president? Science, banished for eight years, will return. Imagine supporting our country's greatest minds as they seek to cure illness, discover new forms of energy, and work to save the planet. I know, pinch me.

We may, just possibly, also see a time of refreshing openness, enlightenment and creativity. The arts and the artists will not be seen as the enemy. Perhaps art will be explored in order to discover the greater truths. When FDR was ushered in with his landslide in 1932, what followed was Frank Capra and Preston Sturgis, Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck, Dorothea Lange and Orson Welles.

All week long I have been inundated with media asking me, "gee, Mike, what will you do now that Bush is gone?" Are they kidding? What will it be like to work and create in an environment that nurtures and supports film and the arts, science and invention, and the freedom to be whatever you want to be? Watch a thousand flowers bloom!
We've entered a new era, and if I could sum up our collective first thought of this new era, it is this: Anything Is Possible. An African American has been elected President of the United States! Anything is possible! We can wrestle our economy out of the hands of the reckless rich and return it to the people. Anything is possible! Every citizen can be guaranteed health care. Anything is possible! We can stop melting the polar ice caps. Anything is possible! Those
who have committed war crimes will be brought to justice. Anything is possible.
We really don't have much time. There is big work to do. But this is the week for all of us to revel in this great moment. Be humble about it. Do not treat the Republicans in your life the way they have treated you the past eight years. Show them the grace and goodness that Barack Obama exuded throughout the campaign. Though called every name in the book, he refused to lower himself to the gutter and sling the mud back. Can we follow his example? I know, it will be hard.
I want to thank everyone who gave of their time and resources to make this victory happen. It's been a long road, and huge damage has been done to this great country, not to mention to many of you who have lost your jobs, gone bankrupt from medical bills, or suffered through a loved one being shipped off to Iraq. We will now work to repair this damage, and it won't
be easy.
But what a way to start! Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of the United
States. Wow. Seriously, wow.
Michael Moore

Thanks for reading everyone and thanks for all the love and support you have given me and my family over the last year.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Settling In

Some things are the same and some things are different. I have changed and so has the family. It is hard to put my finger on the differences but just the fact that the girls have grown makes it different. The Chickenhawk has been on red alert for months and now has to get used to me being independent in most ways yet in the house all the time.

I am just trying to settle into a sense of normalcy. I feel good most of the time but fatigue easily. I've been wanting to contribute to the home as much as possible so I've been looking for ways. Although the CH is a great an awesome chef she has taken to the easy way to keep the family fed during the last few months. Mac and cheese and hot dogs have been the fare. Since I have been home I have been cooking dinners. This evening I made a killer beef stew. Yes, I had help from the CH with a couple things but it was mostly me.

Yesterday we went to the grocery and I shopped for about four meals to make. This is a big deal for me in two ways. First, the trip to the store took hours and I was worked by the time we finished. Second, I don't cook, or at least I haven't for the last few years. In our house there are pink jobs and blue jobs (by agreement) and cooking has been a pink job for a long time. Now things are different and I am happy to do some cooking. It is actually good exercise for me. My arms get a workout from the lifting. I am on my feet for extended periods of time and my balance is improving by leaps and bounds.

I've got my first trip back to Stanford on Monday. My dear friend Janet has volunteered to drive. I am really looking forward to spending the day with her. All of the foreseeable dates for trips down to Palo Alto got filled up by volunteers after I sent out an email to the LoCo care network. I also got tons of phone calls from folks offering to drive. I can't believe how lucky I am to have so many people willing to help me out.

Lately I have been feeling a real sense of optimism. It has been a long time since I have not had to fight to feel optimism, now it just happens. Feeling better has a lot to do with it but there is more. Last time I got political on this blog some of my readers complained. Really, this is not a political blog but I have got to say that with the way that Obama seems to be doing, we are on the verge of a new era. The Bush years have been toxic for this country and it seems to me that there is a real chance for healing for everyone right now.