Thursday, April 30, 2009

Road Trip Day 3!

Hey Everyone, I'm back from the wilderness to the big city, San Francisco! I've decided to make a stop here to reconnect with the world ;) Chili and I are having an amazing time!! I've been driving down the Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast and it's truly breathtakingly beautiful :-D I camped the first night right on the Smith River (Smith River NRA) and it was a little chilly but not too bad. Woke up the next day and went to check out the giant Redwoods! I still can't get over how massive they are, and how old! We're talking thousands of years... There's a really peaceful feeling that overwhelms you as you walk through these ancient forests... I'm so totally relaxed! I really haven't thought about cancer all that much on this trip which is a major accomplishment! After the Redwoods, it was just breathtaking views of the Northern California Coast... Pulled over to observe a wild herd of Elk feeding in a marsh (while soaking up some sun). Pulled out my guitar to strum for a while, so nice... I made it down to wine country (Napa Valley) and found a State Park to camp last night. I feel so blessed to be able to take this trip.

So from here I think I'll check out San Fran a little (it always seems like when I come here it's so short...). I'm heading down to Long Beach tonight to catch up with my Buddy Mike and I think we're going to play some golf tomorrow!

I also wanted to send out prayers for a fellow Hodge Warrior who isn't doing so well right now. Her name is Jessica Wentz and apparently Hospice has been called in and they're trying to make her as comfortable as possible. It's really heartbreaking as she has two little ones and a husband who's going to have to explain why Mom is going away...

P.S. My Uncle Stan is still hanging in there, he's not quite ready to go yet... Pulling for you Uncle Stan!!

Cancer Sucks...

More on the trip as it unravels:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Almost Ready to Spread My Wings!

Well, I'm almost all packed up and just about ready to leave on my trip! I think I need one more day to tie up loose ends and look to get on the road Tuesday morning. It's kinda hard to pack for a trip that you're not sure how long it'll last. I think I might be bringing too much then I think maybe not enough... Need to find that balance tomorrow and I will.

Happy to say I've had some relief from the chronic back aches I've been having! My P.A. prescribed me some anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing meds after reviewing a lumbar series of x-rays taken last week. They didn't find anything suspicious and the informal diagnosis (as of righ now) is I'm suffering from Musculoskelital issues (which I need to research). Life is so much more enjoyable not having to twist, stretch, using the corner of a wall to massage my back muscles, etc. The only time I feel it is when I first wake up but it goes away once I straighten out from the fetal position I sleep in, ha ha, and lie on my back. I hope these meds buy me some time until the inflammation and tightening goes away naturally.

I also wanted to salute my Uncle Stan who is bravely going through treatment for Prostate Cancer and unfortunately the disease took a turn for the worse and it looks like he's having his last moments here on earth. He's an incredible man who fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II and raised three children while being a loving husband. He is one of the classiest people I've ever met and felt honored to know him. Hope to see you in Heaven Uncle Stan!!

Finally, I just wanted to send some prayers out to a couple of fellow Hodge Warriors who are really having a hard time right now. First, Jessica Wentz (you can read her story) @ and also James Parr . Both really need our prayers and if possible, encouraging comments on their caring bridge sites. Thanks!

Next time you hear from me, I'll be camping in woods somewhere!


Sunday, April 19, 2009


Just got done making some homemade guacamole and mixed it with grilled chicken, smoked salsa, black beans, lettuce and blue chips, primo! They have these guacamole "kits" at Trader Joe's and it's pretty easy. I had no idea how potent shallots are! I cut up a really small one and I was crying like a baby ;) I'm on this calorie counting kick, trying to gain a couple of pounds per week. Last time at the doctor, I weighed 165 and ideally I'd like to get up to 175-180. I should feel lucky as most people my age are actually trying to lose weight! So my goal every day is 2300 calories. It's pretty easy to get there eating a bunch of crap... The challenging part is getting the calories from low animal fat/sugar -- high protein foods. I'm having fun with it though and have noticed feeling a bit more energy now that I've been eating more. Now if I could figure out how to get good consistent sleep...

Went to the ballgame (the Tiger's were in town playing the Mariners) and had a blast! Got to sit right behind the dugout and felt like I was on the field. To top it off, we won! I think there's a lot of Michigan transplants in Seattle after noticing all of the Tiger hats in the crowd. Nobody gave me any static either which was nice! When I lived in Socal and went to see the Tigers play in Oakland in 2006 during the playoffs, one of the Oakland fans actually told me to take my old English D cap off when I left the game for "my own safety"! The Seattle fans are much more respectful than the Oakland fans thankfully. I have to say that overall Seattlelites are really nice people. Even though the skies may be gray here most of the time, the people have a pretty sunny disposition...

Well, time to get ready to crash. I'm reading an inspirational book written by Mother Theresa and thought I'd share one of her passages which will in turn help me remember it:

"Our souls should should be like a transparent crystal through which God can be perceived. This crystal is sometimes covered with dirt and dust. To remove this dust we carry out our examination of conscience, in order to obtain a clean heart."

"God will help us to remove that dust, as long as we allow Him to, if our will is that His will come about. Our examination of conscience is the mirror we focus toward nature: a human test no doubt, but one that needs a mirror in order to faithfully reflect its faults. If we undertake this task with greater faithfulness, perhaps we will realize that what we sometimes consider a stumbling block is rather a rock we can step on."

Mother Theresa

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Clinic Appt. Today

(Pic taken of Wild Peacock's roaminig at Chateu St. Michele Winery last weekend)

Saw the elusive Dr. Shustov today... It's the first time I've seen him since since I was transferred down from the transplant team. He said my blood counts are coming along ok but cautioned it's going to be a while until they're normal. My marrow is still recovering and may take a year to bounce all the way back. I was comforted by him saying he doesn't think the uptake that was found in my brain (after my PET) was anything to worry about. He mentioned that if it was something serious, I would have full on symptoms and would know something was wrong. I asked him if full on symptoms would include absent mindedness, having trouble thinking clearly or basically having multiple daily brain farts...? He responded by reminding me that I've had enough chemo and radiation in the last 12 months to kill an elephant -- I was mildly reassured... ;)

We also discussed my chronic back pain and he told me he was going to consult with the radioligist to review my most recent CT scan. There's no mention of scar tissue on the last report and I want to know why I have to continue to take pain medication to get through the day (maybe this explains some of the brain farts) :-D

I was just interrupted by Chili having a crazy dream! I always wonder what dogs are dreaming about when they start kicking and crying in their sleep. Maybe it's because I've been trying to establish myself as the "pack leader" the last couple of days (watching too much dog whisperer!). We went for a walk today and I was trying to keep her by my side and control the walk (she's normally all over the place). I was looking away and ended up stepping on her and went tumbling down (the kind of tumble where you take 2-3 staggered steps and then finally wipe out). The thing about it is I had the leash shortened and I dragged her along as I was trying to break my fall. I ended up skinning my hands and arm on the street while completely traumatizing poor Chili... I guess this explains the nightmare!

Funny, I was just watching Donald Trump on Larry King. Larry King goes through the litany of questions regarding the financial crisis, Obama administration, yada yada yada. Pretty boring... He then asked Trump what he would do about the Somalian pirates and I loved his answer. He said you have these huge ships the size of football fields being taken over by 3-4 guys on a "rowboat with an Evinrude motor". He goes on to say that all you need is one sharpshooter on the ship like the one's that took out the 3 pirates a few days ago. "That rowboat gets within 400 yards of the ship and you send out a warning..." If they don't listen, well I can't write it as funny as Trump said it... I normally don't like him but that was pretty good. I don't understand why this whole pirate thing is a big deal?! These guys have pea-shooters on a rowboat and they're taking over these huge ships, holding people hostages, threatening lives?! WTF!!

My trip's starting to come together... I went to Sears and bought my car top carrier and put it on yesterday. Just as fast as I put it on I almost ripped it off by forgetting it was on and bashing it on a cement overhang in the parking structure at the SCCA today! A couple of scratches but it's still intact thankfully. I think I'm going to camp near Crater Lake National Park my first day and Redwood National Park my second. From there, I'll be going down to L.A. to stay with a couple of friends. I talked to my buddy in Vegas today and will be making a pit stop there too... From there, I'm thinking of camping near White Sands NM then heading to Austin TX (stopping at points in between). From there it's Biloxi, New Orleans then Florida! After a nice rest in Florida, time to head north and home to Michigan and the D!! I'm getting excited (and a little nervous...)

Happy Trails!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Feeling Alright!

(Took this shot of Downtown Seattle from my boat last summer, I miss my boat!)

Except for my normal paranoid delusions, I have to say I'm feeling alright! The last few days I've been waking up earlier and feeling more energized. I think exercising is helping not to mention the sunny weather we've had recently :-) It's back to overcast today but think my batteries have been fully charged so I should be ok for a few days ;)

Working on my trip list and trying to get things together. I'm going to pick up my car top carrier today (Sears has a smoking deal). I'm also thinking about constructing a bed in the back of my CRV so if (or when) I get tired I can just pull over and crash out for a bit. It'll let me store stuff easier too so should be a fun project.

Heading out for yoga at noon today so that should be great. I did some poses in the living room last night and it felt awesome. I'm sure I won't be able to do all the poses in class but will do my best.

Thinking about taking a trip to wine country in Woodinville this weekend for some tasting. It's definately nothing like Napa/Sonoma but they're local and there's great antique shops, etc...

Good Times!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Springtime, Bring It!

(Pic taken yesterday walking Chili -- canopy of cherry blossoms!)

Everything's blooming in Seattle! There is a reward for the endless drizzle that last week or so... It was so nice today, I think it got up over 70. Time to dust off the golf clubs and play a round. Golf is so cheap this time of year! There's a great municipal course in West Seattle with some great views of the Seattle skyline on the back 9. It's also an incredible workout to walk 18 as there's some serious undulations (sp?) out there!!

Went to St. James today for Palm Sunday and it was really nice. To hear about the last moments of Christ is always fascinating, uplifting and inspirational (ever since I've been a little kid). You kinda think to yourself, if He could go through all of that I can go through anything. The pain and anxiety I occasionally deal with is nothing in comparison...

By the way, have to give a shout out to my Tigers! Opening day tomorrow! Hoping our starting pitching and bullpen come together this year... It's going to be fun to watch the two phenoms that made the team, Ryan Perry and Rick Porcello. From what I've been reading, both are the real deal and should help out a lot. I think our D is going to be so much better this year if everyone stays healthy. Could be an interesting year! I'm stoked that I'll still be in town when the Tig's come to Seattle the weekend of April 18th. I'm going to have to get to a couple of games.

By the way, even though I'm a Wolverine, gotta say go Sparty!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Jigsaw Falling Into Place

("God's Country" -- pic taken from a hike at Zion National Park)

I love the title of this Radiohead song, so appropriate for my life right now! Slowly, things are starting to "fall into place" for me both physically (relatively speaking) and spiritually. I think I became too focused on the physical part post SCT/PET scan and have been comforted by remembering what got me here and that's my faith and acceptance.

Speaking of acceptance, I'm really looking forward to finally meeting my energy healer in person when I go down to L.A. I'm also looking forward to supplementing my weight training with Yoga. I was supposed to go today at noon but overslept, jeez!! I was up at 8 (actually I was up all night not able to sleep) and figured I could go back to sleep and wake up at my normal 11. I know 11 doesn't sound very normal but for me lately 11 feels like 7-8. Anyway, there will be plenty more yoga classes I can attend and will look forward to next time :)

I have my first doctor appt. next week Friday since my PET/CT consult. I went in today to drop off some paperwork to be filled out for my Long Term Disability as the insurance company is already on my ass to find out why I can't go back to work. I called them and they were pretty decent about it and they explained that this is procedure so I'll give them what they need, hopefully. Obviously, there's no way I can go back to work right now (not like I have a job waiting for me as I was downsized right after I went on LTD). That said, I have started considering what I want to do when I'm strong enough to get back into the work force. This may change daily so we'll see where my search takes me... I was watching the new Discovery Green Channel last night and was pretty fascinated by the whole green building industry. There are consultant companies out there that'll go to your house or business and do a "green audit" on your dwelling to identify ways you can increase the efficiency of your home or building while reducing your carbon footprint and thus saving money. I think it'd be really cool to show people how they can "get off the grid" which not only benefits them but helps our national security. Anyway, I may have a new idea tomorrow so stay tuned... Good to have the juices flowing!

No big plans for the weekend, just hoping this dreary, drizzly weather goes away and I can see some sunshine!


(Chili pondering whatever she ponders...)