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Showing posts from May, 2009

Race Day

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Sunny, warm, Saturday was perfect for racing! We piled into Mallory and Joe's Westy and headed down the hill to the starting line. The Spring Thaw is a pretty big race, drawing around 400 riders from around the Northwest. Saturday is the cross country, Sunday the Downhill. Cat III riders were off first. Mallory, her friend Amy and I lined up toward the back of the pack of 61 riders. I notices the woman I was riding with yesterday was lined up close to the front, which surprised me. She was certainly fit, but lacked the sponsor jersey or demeanor of someone who expected to win. She was wearing a simple blue jersey you might wear on an easy Sunday ride. Definitely didn't make a statement.

We had agreed to run our own races today but starting next to my sister seemed important. We were, in the end, doing this together, whenever we finished. The clock started and off we went. There's always a few seconds of standing there if you're in the back, waiting for the pack to get r…

Spring Thaw

What with getting cancer and all, a vacation certainly seemed like it was in order. Heading south to the warmer weather in Ashland to do the Spring Thaw bike race was just the ticket. It's one of my favorites. The cat III course is only nine miles. The support is outstanding and the race finishes in Lithia Park with hours of loafing and free beer!

We stay up at my sister's cabin in the Greensprings about 30 miles from town. It's quiet and beautiful and it was a relief to be off and away.We had a chance to process a bit and talk about what to do next. But first we had a race to run.

Bike racing has turned into something of a family affair for us. Maddie, my niece, guilted me into doing this race a year ago, ending a 12 year hiatus in my riding. Her dad podiums in CAT II pretty regularly and this year my sister decided she could beat me so she joined the fray. Carolyn would have been left at the sidelines except that Maddie was benched following some leg surgery so they cheere…

Ask Me About Erectile Dysfunction!

I have to go into some detail about the inner workings of male genitalia so if you're squeamish about such things, you should read on because without such things, none of us would be here and you should just get over it.

The prostate creates ejaculate which is what the sperm travels in as it makes its merry way toward an awaiting egg, an empty womb, or the ceiling. If you remove the prostate, no more ejaculate. It's still possible to have an orgasm, but it's dry. Removing the prostate, however, is not simple and there's a high possibility that the nerves that control erection can be damaged, leaving the patient unable to have as much fun as he had prior to surgery.

This is apparently a source of enormous anxiety to a lot of men. So much so that my doctor sort of skipped over that last paragraph, muttered something about loss of bladder control and possible problems with erections but there were a lot of things that could be done to help with that including a variety of s…

The Meeting

Carolyn and I finally met the doctor Wednesday evening around 4:30. We waited for around half an hour in the lobby of the McMinnville urology clinic. Waiting seems to be a big part of having cancer. You get someplace and you wait to be told what happens next. When that happens, there's more waiting for results. When all else fails, you're waiting around in lobbies waiting to be told what you're going to be waiting for next.

The McMinnville clinic uses doctors from Portland and, despite the modern building it's housed in, has a decidedly seedy feel. The receptionist's station is covered in unfiled papers, postits, bad art, broken printers, you name it. The doctor's office consisted of some mystery photo of a vintage car, a used steelcase desk with broken formica, a dusty monitor, a couple of chairs, no windows. He clearly didn't live here.

The good news was the bone scan was clear. He gave us a copy of the biopsy report, which was a monument to clear informati…

The Bone Scan

The doctor scheduled a meeting with Carolyn and I the following Wednesday the 13th of May. He really didn't want to say much until he'd looked at the results of my bone scan and could talk with us in person. The whole "don't research online" thing was odd and I pretty much ignored the advice. I think it had to do with an over abundance of content dealing with possible side effects of treatment. I'll come back to that later.

Friday I went in for the bone scan, a radionuclide bone scan, is the proper name . I arrived at the hospital around 8:30 and sat around for a bit waiting to get sent in. It was here I learned one of the first challenges of rural medical care. In a town the size of McMinnville, you can't sit in a hospital waiting room for very long without bumping into someone you know. In my case it was Dave Gilbert, a retired Mass Comm professor. And when you bump into someone in radiology, they pretty quickly figure out something's wrong. So now D…

The Call

Being diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease is one of the cornerstones of the American psyche. We are raised on movies about it. It's the plot point of many television series. We fantasize about what it would be like to tell the world "I'm dying". Those of us who grew up during the Cold War fantasized about being consumed in a nuclear war. We'd have maybe 30 minutes to do whatever and then poof! It's kind of the same thing. It's something that happens to you that you can't prevent, so you have this opportunity to make your last living statement in a fixed time frame, after which it's out of your hands. What would you do? Would you be the same person you always were, only more so? Would you just keep going the same as always? Would you try to make amends for your failures? Would you go all Mr Hyde, living it up, doing and saying all the things you wanted to in life, but didn't out of some moral obligation that's been rendered null and …

Probing Day

Couple of things to put on the table first.

This is going to be graphic. They don't call this the "G-Rated, Happy Fluffy Bunny" procedure. They call it a "Needle Biopsy" with the kind of clinical detachment that only the medical profession could embrace. Even the Spanish Inquisition was more creative when naming devices designed to inflict pain. On the other hand, maybe "The Rack" is just as alarming as "Ratcheted bone dislocation procedure".

If you are a man facing the prospect of a needle biopsy of the prostate, the one thing I want you to take away from this post is this: Ask the urologist if they do a local anesthetic prior to the tissue sampling. If they say no, FIND ANOTHER UROLOGIST. Would you use a dentist that didn't use Novocaine? Apparently, quite a few urologists don't use a local prior to taking the tissue samples. Everyone who told me the procedure was really painful went through it without anesthetic. I had anesthetic. I…

The Mudslinger

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The Mudslinger has a bit of sentimental value to me. I think it was the 3rd mountain bike race I did back in 1988, the first year they ran it, I think. I remember my rear derailleur fell apart a couple miles into the race. I managed to find all the pieces and get it together again but I finished pretty far back. I did the race quite a few times after that and it was always a good time.

The Mudslinger is appropriately named, to say the least. We arrived in rain, rode in mud, and departed in more rain. It was also more fun than I had any right to have the day before a biopsy. I had done this course before, maybe 12 years ago. Familiarity takes some anxiety away. I started fast on the fire road but slowed down after maybe 3 miles to conserve some energy. This time I was riding better. After five or six miles, you start to get a feel for descending in slippery mud. It probably has more in common with snowboarding than cycling. It's counter-intuitive but going fast seems to help. It'…

Horning's Hustle while you wait

My visit with the urologist was April 1st and the biopsy was scheduled for May 4th. So I had a month to kill waiting for "Probing Day". April 5th was Horning's Hustle, a multilap mountain bike race up in North Plains. I don't really care for short course events but this one would be fun to watch and poor Carolyn has spent quite a few hours standing around in parking lots waiting for me to come back from a long out and back course so it seemed like it would be fun for a change. As an added bonus, our friends Anne and Vincent came out to watch so I had a small entourage to cheer me on.

I wish I could say I decimated the field but I'm afraid the opposite was true. There wasn't a huge amount of climbing, or mud or anything, really. But I just couldn't find a pace I could build on. Never seemed to recover from even short climbs. Finished 15th out of 25 in my age bracket. Meh. It was a lovely sunny day and the company was great. Free beer at the finish too, so I…

The Story So Far...

I started this blog in 2006 to talk about the wine my wife and I drank, but I was too drunk to keep it up. Between then and now, I didn't really have much to talk about. I was having fun. I didn't need to share much past the annual Christmas letter. I left those old posts there because they are actually pretty funny. Sort of a "Come on in, the water's great!" ovation from years ago.

I'm kick starting this thing again because I need to talk.

In the last year I started racing mountian bikes again. I lost a lot of weight, got energized in a way I hadn't felt in years, and felt ready to roll into my 50's with life to spare. I still kind of feel that way. Except for that damned PSA screen in March.

"Prostate Specific Antigen", in case you were wondering. It's "controversial" in that the blood test is wrong 75% of the time. It looks for an antigen that has some relationship to the prostate and often does appear elevated when cancer is p…