Wednesday, January 17, 2018

"Something cool happened, dad..."

Tuesday, January 16, 2017

Though I have not been writing about it, I’ve had a good fitness start to 2018.  I’ve managed one 20-minute run, gotten my bike back on the trainer and ridden for an hour and hit a record 35,000 steps for a single day.  I’m also counting down the days until retirement – 348 – with relish for what will follow.

The search for a new bike continues.  I took UB Express in for a tune-up so I could put it on the trainer while planning for the purchase of a ‘gravel’ bike I could ride both on the roads and on gravel surfaces, such as the towpath.  I stopped in to pick it up last week.

“Umm…yeah…I didn’t do anything on it.  I don’t think you should put any more money into this bike with the frame issues,” the owner said.

He went on to explain that although the carbon fiber part of the frame would last another billion years, the resin that binds it together is failing and that the frame could fail catastrophically at any time.

“So…you might be sitting on the post instead of a seat, if you know what I mean,” he concluded.

I did know and now, after 25 years, UB Express will be sidelined, stripped of useable parts, and scrapped.  Thanks for a couple of years of good riding, UB.  I will have to break the news to my Uncle Bill delicately.  He’d put the first 23 years on the bike and was so proud of it.

More importantly, Jack called me yesterday around three.  He never calls during work hours, so I knew something was up.

“Something really cool happened today, dad.  We had a brigade meeting and a Lieutenant General – that’s a three-star – spoke to the group.  I was called forward with one other soldier and he gave me one of his coins!” he said, excitedly.  “Do you know what that is?”

I didn’t and he explained that it represented the rank of the soldier and was a piece all soldiers carried.  He did mention something about soldiers pulling them out when drinks were ordered.  I’m pretty sure the highest ranking coin did not pay.  Jack will never pay again.

He said he was so honored because he’d been recently promoted, been recognized as soldier of the month and received a perfect fitness score of 300, which means he ran two miles under 13 minutes (he’s never had trouble with that) and did 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups in whatever the allotted time is – I think three minutes. 

“His name is Lieutenant General Paul M. Nakasone and he talked to me.  He said, ‘you’ve been a busy soldier’,”.

I looked him up and discovered he is the current commander of the Second Army and has the Cyber Command, as well.  That means he’s the top guy in Jack’s line of work. I could see why he’d be so excited, but his achievements don’t surprise me.  He is dedicated to his work, his conditioning, and the Army and not necessarily in that order. 

Yesterday was brutally cold, but I walked into Peninsula to have ribs with Miggie.  The snow was reasonably hard packed on the towpath, but did create more effort with each step and the walk in took about 80 minutes and left me with over 27,000 steps for the day.  Miggie has been reading ‘Wild’, the true story of one woman’s experience walking the Pacific Crest Trail and the story that inspired me to consider doing the same.  I think she is finally getting what an undertaking this could be and was quite amazed at what the woman achieved.  So am I.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Looking forward to 2018...

Tuesday, January 9, 2018
So…it is a ‘new year’ and again, I am trying to make plans and commitments to myself that will lead me on a path to better physical condition, and physical and mental health.

New Year’s Eve marked five years since I found out my wife was in love with another man.  Much has happened in the ensuing time, but nothing to relieve me to the point that I no longer grieve for what I had…and should still have now and into the future.  I suppose that is a sign that what I had was something very special for me and the very reason I cannot walk away from it and the feelings it entails.  It has, however, given me new directions and optimism in some respects; things I will act upon in 2018.

There are a few things on my list of ‘to do’s’ for the coming year.  Not so much resolutions, but courses of actions that will shape the next several years.  Here they are:
·        Retire in December: though maybe work at least one day per week at the farm.
·        Buy a minivan: my camping and traveling vehicle.
·        Purchase a new bike: a touring bike that will handle panniers and rail trails.
·        Running: I need to do some of this for fitness and my mental health.
·        Survival Workout:  I never felt better than when I performed this regularly.
·        Hike the Northville/Placid Trail: 150 miles and four peaks to climb in a two-week period.

They aren’t crazy things or too ambitious, but they will all work towards setting the tone for the next several years as I pursue hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and traveling to some of the great North American national parks.  On a micro level, it will hopefully get me back to the total fitness person I had become during the early years of writing the blog and help to be an inspiration to me and those around me or who read the blog to formulate and execute their own ‘life’ plan. 

I have done some running since the New Year began and have taken my bike for a tune-up so that I will be ready for any weather break to ride outside…and on the trainer until I can.  I did not do the steps I’d done in November for the month of December, but am off to a good start in the New Year.  Yesterday, I surpassed – by far, my greatest single-day effort when I logged 35,200 for the day.  The day included another exhausting one on the farm moving snow, three tons of salt and various other physical duties. 

I hope to make 2018 a transitional year.  Transitioning away from a daily work schedule into something that sustains me financially and physically.  I have so much I would like to see and do before I really am forced to acknowledge the aging process, but I know that can be pushed back with hard work, conditioning, a good attitude, and some luck.  Let’s see just how much of the first three I can manage…the last one is out of my hands.

Friday, December 1, 2017

605,212...but who's counting?

Thursday, November 30, 2017
“So…let’s pull that tube out of you,” my urologist said as he entered the operating arena.

I was sitting on a table, pants around my ankles and covered with a cloth of some kind with the body part he wanted to operate on exposed to God and country.  The nurse had given me three commands to make the whole process less painful and I was going over them in my head.  ‘Breathe deeply, wiggle your toes because that relaxes your bladder muscles, and pee on the doctor slowly.  You’ll feel like clamping shut when in puts in the probe, but you don’t want to do that because it will make it more painful, so just open up.  The tube will catch everything,’ she had instructed.

But there was no ‘tube’ to take out.  I’d had a stent in the last time I’d seen him, one that had been in for ten days as part of the kidney stone removal, and when he’d taken it out, I remembered thinking it hurt worse than the kidney stone…which seemed impossible before it happened.

“Hold it doc!  There’s no tube in my!  Maybe you’re mixing me up with the guy in the next room?” I said in a panic.

He smiled.  Big joker.  Then, without as much as a ‘get ready I’m going to hurt the hell out of you’, he shoved a tube the size of a fire engine hose where no guy wants a fire engine hose all while directing my attention to the monitor at the side of my head.

“See?  There’s your bladder and it’s looking clean!”

I was busy looking for the knife I was going to plunge into his neck, but must have left it in the car with my Glock.  I looked over and watched what the camera saw as he moved it around looking for the cause of my bleeding.

“Yup.  Looking good.  Nothing here to cause that blood in your urine,” he announced as he pulled the fire hose out with a jerk.

I winced, but never made a sound.  I wanted to show him how tough I was though that may encourage him to try harder the next time.

He told me he’d seen a cyst in my kidney when he’d reviewed the CAT scan, but it was nothing to worry about.

“You have a kidney stone up there, too, but it’s a small one,” he said.

“Doc…they’re all small.  The last one you took out could have fit on the head of a pin.  They still hurt like hell!  And where was the blood coming from I’d seen in my urine?” I asked.

“As well as I can figure, you passed one of the two kidney stones you had left over from our last visit up there and it caused the bleeding.  I surprised you didn’t have any pain,” he said.

“Well…I did today thanks to you,” I said.

He smiled again and told me he wanted to see me in three months.  He scheduled an ultrasound of my kidneys, ordered a blood test and told me I’d be doing a 24-hour urine analysis which would be done on what I’d collect in a ‘jug’ for that 24-hour period.  Yup…his words…a jug.  He wants to get to the bottom of the reason I have the stones and why I was bleeding, but has ruled out polyps for now and I’m happy about that.

I achieved my steps goal for the month with a little to spare.  I was shooting to average 20,000 a day which would mean 600,000 for the month and I ended with 605,212.  After getting only 42,000 for the four days I spent traveling to Georgia and spending time with Jack, I figured it was beyond me, but I managed to make up the lost 40,000 steps over the last three weeks by going over 25,000 on five occasions.

All the walking was eye-opening.  I did none of it with a pack on my back and since I take around 1,700 steps to the mile, I was averaging close to 12 miles a day, which is far short of the twenty or so I would have to average for a 5-month period to complete the Pacific Crest Trail in one season!  I have read by many thru-hikers that one walks their way into shape over the first few weeks on the trail and that the miles will start to come easier, but this is hard to imagine after the month I just completed.  Still...I proved to myself once again that I’m good at accomplishing tough goals once I’ve set and announced them.  I need a target.  December’s will be announced soon.
Hike: Two hours.
Training Heart Rate:  75 bpm.
Calories burned: 700.
Bonus: 21,000 steps.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

CAT scan tomorrow...

Monday, November 27, 2017
Thanksgiving has come and gone and tomorrow I will pay a visit to my urologist for my CAT scan to determine if I have bleeding polyps or not.  My goal of averaging 20,000 steps a day for the month is still in play, though I managed to get only 8,000 on Thanksgiving.  Leaf raking on Friday and Saturday at Mimi’s helped me make up most of the steps I’d missed, though ten hours of it did leave my shoulder and elbows aching.   Ahh…the beauties of getting old.

With temperatures heading for the sixties over the next two days, I am hopeful of a bike ride or some other serious workout.  The CAT scan and scoping may work to screw up that plan, but we will see.  Otherwise, I need to pound out 23,000 steps for the remainder of the month.  My feet are feeling the effort.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A visit with an old friend...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

“You’re supposed to be that indestructible force in whom I can always be confident will never slow down.  What’s going on with the blood in the urine thing?”

My good friend Henry, a regular reader of the blog, was appalled to find the chink in my armor.  I explained the situation and assured him that though I likely had some issue that would kill a mere mortal, I would survive the storm with something akin to a Band-Aid.

I finally got a hold of the doctor’s office and they quickly scheduled an appointment for me to see my Urologist later in the day.  I arrived at that appointment and gave them the obligatory urine sample.  They did not want to see the one I’d been carting around since Sunday in the back of my car.  What a waste of a perfectly good, and bloody, urine sample. 

Doctor Luria walked in the office with an assistant and introduced himself.

“Have we seen each other before?” he asked.

“The last time I saw you, you were yanking a tube out of my penis and causing me pain that made me want to hurl all over you…but no hard feelings, doc,” I replied.

He smiled and then asked me to bend over and pull down my pants where upon he stuck his gloved finger where the sun doesn’t shine and announced, “prostate is good.”

This man hates me.

“Did you have any pain while passing the bloody urine,” he asked.

“Nope,” I said, assuming this was a good thing.

“Okay…let’s order a CAT scan and a scoping of the urinary tract,” he said to his assistant.

Clearly I’d pissed him off and he was going to cause me more pain.  I countered…

“If I’d have said it hurt like hell when I’d peed would you not have ordered those tests?  Because I can change my answer right now…”

He explained that since I hadn’t had any pain, that I likely hadn’t had a kidney stone and so he wanted to see if I had some up there hiding and if I might have bleeding polyps, too.

“I know there are some leftover kidney stones because you told me when you took out the last one.  You said they might stay up there forever and not cause me any problems.  Let’s not go back up in there and start them moving again,” I said, using all of my medical courses and operating experience to convince him of the foolishness of his plan.

Again, he smiled and ordered the tests.  He did not seem to value my expert council in the least.

So…I’m scheduled for both tests next week.  I went home and hiked my four-mile loop, reaching the last mile, which follows the Towpath, just as Miggie called to say she was dropping her mother off and was heading home.  It was a little after seven and I was walking in the dark.

“How about I walk into Peninsula and meet you at Fisher’s.  It is rib night, after all,” I said.

“You want to walk all the way there in the dark?  Won’t you be scared?” she said.

I’d already told her how I’d heard a lone coyote howling near the trail I’d been following along the mostly deserted road I hiked.  I may have said ‘timber wolf’ though when I’d told her.

“Why not?  I feel great and we both know I’m indestructible and that there’s nothing on the trails scarier than me,” I replied.

I hiked into town over the next hour making it a seven-mile hike and getting over 24,000 steps in the process.  By the time I laid down in bed to call it a day, I will admit that my feet were feeling every one of those steps.
Hike: Two hours.
Training Heart Rate:  75 bpm.
Calories burned: 700.
Bonus: 24,000 steps.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A little blood in the urine...

Monday, November 20, 2017
Once again, I went on a writing hiatus.  Not intentionally, mind you, but I did get out of the groove while visiting Jack in Georgia.  My goal of 600,000 steps for November has become a difficult challenge because of that trip.  I logged 15, 13, 10 and only 4K on the four days I visited.  One of those did include a three-mile run, however, and that felt surprisingly good.  I was concerned that running on pavement for the first time in this century might cause me some problems, but everything turned out okay.  Since my return, I have been pounding the trails and averaging over 23,000 steps per day to try and make up the difference.  I had 389,000 through yesterday, so I still have to average 21,000 for the remainder of the month to achieve my goal.  Then…Sunday morning happened.

“Why are you reading about finding blood in your urine?” Miggie asked, looking over my shoulder as I perused WebMD.

“Because I had quite a bit of blood in my urine when I went to the bathroom at breakfast this morning,” I said.

She was very concerned…and so was I, quite frankly.  I’ve had several bouts with kidney stones over the years and my first thought is that I was about to have another attack.  I had no corresponding back pain, however, and so I was reading on worrying about all the other possibilities.  I had gathered a sample and planned to take it with me for a doctor’s visit the next day…provided I could get one.  Regardless, I headed out for my seven-mile hike and 23,000 steps for the day.

I called by family doctor, a Cleveland Clinic MD, and went on hold for the obligatory ten minutes.  Once connected to the appointment desk, I explained my condition, but admitted it was much clearer this morning.

“It’s kind of rust-colored now, but I saved a sample from yesterday, which was full of blood,” I concluded.

“I will pass this along to the doctor’s office and someone will call you,” she said.

And that was the last I heard.  Since I am also waiting for a call from my heart doc with the results of my wearing the heart monitor for thirty days following surgery (that was several months ago), I’m not too hopeful about receiving a call.  I guess blood in urine is not enough of an emergency to return a call, but I think I’ll follow up today.  It may happen to them all the time, but it’s the first time for me and I’d like some answers…
Hike: 60 minutes.
Training Heart Rate:  75 bpm.
Calories burned: 350.
Bonus: 23,000 steps.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tuesday, November 7, 2017
You can always tell when someone has no clue about the difficulty of a job when they set you up to do it without asking you first.

“Home Depot will be delivering the new washer and drier on Monday and I figured you could hook them up.  Oh…and I told them not to worry about hauling the old ones out because I figured you could do that, too.  It would have cost us $30 for them to do it!” the Director told me.

Now bear in mind these old units are in a basement with narrow stairs and two doors leading to the outside.  The machines would have to come up those stairs and make an immediate turn on a small landing.  Two doors would have to be removed.  Another person would have to be employed to help lift the load up and out.  I would have to then load them both onto a truck and drive them somewhere since we do not have curb side waste removal.  All these things are known by the person asking the question, though I highly doubt she’s ever picked up a washing machine and tried to drag it up some stairs…without a refrigerator dolly (or with one).

I’m no shrinking violet when it comes too hard – or risky – work, but sometimes you need to push back.  I laid out all the reasons I’d just stated and said, “…and $30 would be a hell of a bargain compared to what it would cost us to remove them.”

She considered this for several moments…I’m thinking the math would be about $250 for me to move it in time, money, extra person and gas…but she considered a couple of more moments before agreeing with my line of thinking.  Sometimes I just want to scream ‘trust me to make these HUGE executive decisions!’  Ah well…I’m just a man, after all.

I brought Mimi over to see the new place.  We went to dinner at Fisher’s where I ordered the ribs, but skipped dessert.  After dropping her off back in Gates Mills and driving home, I noticed I was still 3,000 steps short of my daily 20,000 goal.  This would not do.

It was biting cold outside, but Dakota and I when on a 2-mile hike to make up the difference.  No…not a workout and those have been few and far between lately, but I continue to eat mostly Paleo and the extra steps seem to be helping me drop a couple of pounds.  After the latest round of home improvements are complete and I have my cycling trainer set up in my Man Cave, I think I will get my riding mojo back in high gear and have a good winter of conditioning.