Thursday, May 8, 2008

12 Hours of Lodi, Poison Ivy. Crohn's Flare Up... What a week!

I must be crazy. Just looking at the proposed schedule for this week makes me tired. Did I really think that anyone could do all of these things? Especially while fighting a chronic illness. If I didn't know better I'd think I was high or something.

Saturday was when the fun times began. I knew I had a big week ahead of me, so I wanted to sleep in a little late. Best laid plans. When my wife woke me up at 8:00 it was not for Sexy Time, no it was because someone wanted to look at the house. I want to sell this house in the hood and get out of the ghetto, but don't they know a man's got to get some sleep! Heck, the new house isn't even being built yet.

So anyway, I begrudgingly got up, went to the bagel store to get some grub and a dew and headed over to my parents to work on a fundraising letter. When I signed up for the Get your Guts in Gear charity bike ride, I had no idea that the fundraising would be the hardest part. My father is off somewhere preaching. I think he said he was going to Kansas, but we all know that everyone in the mid-west has already been saved. So I sat down with my Mom and started working on the fundraising letter as my wife and the three girls watched a movie in the living room.

As we finished up the letter, it was time to race back home, get Corrina's soccer uniform, and head off to her game. It was her second game. Other than running like a girl, she did pretty good, but for the second week in a row it ended in 0 - 0 tie.

After the game it was off to meet the crew for the 12 hours of Lodi Farm mountain bike race. Out of the six riders in our group, I was the oldest by far, and probably in the worst physical shape. This should be fun. All but one of us arrived at the course around the same time. After setting up the camp area and registering for the race we decided to head out for a practice lap to become familiar with the ~8 mile course.

I should have known at that point that I was being set up. But hey, I'm a trusting man. I was told that I would be on the team with Brian (who wasn't there yet), and Christian (who I didn't know) because we all rode 29ers. Okay, sounds fair, right? Oh yeah, Christian is going to be leaving 4 hours before the 12 hour event is over. Fine, he'll ride the first leg so he still does at least two laps before leaving. Should be no problem.

During the practice lap I learned a few things. First of all, this was the toughest course I had probably ever rode. Secondly, Christian had only riding a mountain bike twice before this event. He began crying almost immediately upon starting the course. We were less than a mile of the way into the ~8 mile course and we needed to stop twice to wait for him. On our third stop for him, I learned an additional item. Christian hardly ever completes anything he starts. He had taken an opportunity to head back to camp and hang out.

When I finally made it through the course and found my way back to camp the sun had gone down. But Brian had made it to the course and Christian said that he would be fine doing the first lap. It was back to getting ready for the midnight start of the race. We ate some hot dogs and burgers and tried to rest, but stay loose.

After the long winded racers meeting, I had a date with a port-a-john. Oh shit! that's a lot of blood to be loosing right before a race. I need to get my ass to stop bleeding 'cause that ain't gonna be comfortable on the bike. That's right. Dr. Crohn's decided to flare again. My intestines seem to have the best timing. But I missed 24 hours of Big Bear last year due to my Crohn's, I wasn't missing this race.

So I held tp in place to get the bleeding to stop. Once I thought it had at least slowed enough for me to get back to the camp, I did just that. I never told anyone of my teammates what was happening. I just hoped that with me going third there would be some recover time.

But once again Christian wimped out. He once again bailed on the lap at the one mile mark. Now Brian and I would have to compete in the three person sport division with just two people and after an hour delay. Great.

Bottom line. Both Brian and I were able to complete three laps a piece during the 12 hour period. I was cramping the entire time. Had some mechanical issues with my bike during my first lap. My legs and arms are bruised and scraped up pretty bad. But most of all, I had a blast! And not only that, but if you include the practice lap, then out of the six riders in our group no one rode more than me and only Eric the Mexican actually rode as many laps as me. Not to bad for a bloody assed cronies!

Of course, all I wanted to do after this was go to sleep. But work had other plans. So after a 4 hours of sleep, it was off to work for an overnight grill building party. Yeah, I'm not even going to comment on that one. The only thing that was getting me through all of this was that I had VIP tickets to The Jammys in New York city for Wednesday.

On Tuesday morning I woke up with an outbreak of poison ivy on my arms and legs, and my morning constitutional filled the bowl with blood. I was a little dizzy but I had to get to work, and didn't want to jeopardize going to NYC. This was turning out to be a great week. Sleep deprivation, poison ivy and a bloody ass. That combination always equals fun.

Finally Wednesday morning arrived. The plan was to meet JP at his house around 11:00am, drive to NYC with a stop at the Dog House of course! But before I had even gotten up, JP had called to say that he also had poison ivy also, that it was really bad, and that he had to see a doctor. I never thought giving away free VIP tickets to the Jammy's would be so tough. But JP was now the secound friend to bail, since Peaches had bailed a week or so before.

Oh well, no big deal I've gone to shows alone before. I always meet plenty of people and end up having fun no matter what. So I decided to shower and head to the big city. But while in the shower my stomach felt like I ate a Hot Pocket stuffed with 3 fruity mentos. Not a pretty site! And once again, the toilet was filled with blood.

Instead of going to the show, I spent the day being poked and prodded by the doctors. They burned off two internal hemorrhoid's and gave me more medications and some hemorrhoid cream to stop the bleeding. Fun times. As I was leaving the last Doctor appointment at 5:00 pm yesterday, my Doc said, "If the bleeding continues and you continue to get dizzy you're going to have to go back to the hospital."

Great doc. That's just what I need to hear four weeks before leaving for a 210 mile road bicycle ride to raise money and awareness for Crohn's disease. That my Crohn's disease might stop me from being able to do this ride.

Well let me tell you. Nothing is going to stop me from doing this ride. I may be fragile, but I'm not afraid and nothing is going to stop me from participating in this event. So please help me battle back against this awful disease and donate now using my name and rider number (NY-30) so that I can do this ride.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Riding my bike to battle Crohn's Disease

In just over four weeks I while be joining a group of others in riding our bicycles from New York City to Saratoga Springs, New York to raise money and awareness for Chrohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. This is a very personal battle for me. I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease the day before my wedding 15 years ago this August. Like most Crohn's patients, I've been hospitalized countless times including a three week stay in 2004 when I had 2 feet of intestines removed. In fact, the bicycle ride corresponds with the one year anniversary of my last hospitalization.

But I'm not just riding for me. I'm riding for all the people out there that can't ride. I'm riding in hopes that the money we raise will fund research to find a cure to these dibilitating diseases. Millions of people suffer every day with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, two painful, unpredictable diseases of the digestive tract. Although forty years of research have brought us closer to a cure, most people with Crohn's and colitis still go day to day not knowing when their next hospital stay may be, or when they might miss two weeks of work or school, or their son's graduation, or their daughter's wedding, or even their own....

Please click the link below and donate now. Together we can help put an end to these terrible diseases!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why Blog? Why Now?

I feel compelled to answer this simple question that so many have asked. I think for different people there are different reasons. For some the main reason for the blog is to make money. Others have something specific they want to market. Still others just want an easy way to stay in touch with friends and family. Heck, I have even heard of people using blogs in an attempt to impress a member of the opposite sex. All of these are valid reasons indeed.

But for me the answer is a little different.

I've been hearing the term thrown around for years, but had no true understanding of what a blog truly was. Not only that, I barely had time to read a blog much less try to write and publish one. I was a District Manager for bicycle retailer. My district consisted of stores in MD, DE, PA, OH and IL. Between the long hours, the travel, and maintaining my relationships with my wife and three daughters, not to mention my need to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, let's just say my time was booked!

Then on January 10, 2007 my boss called me as I was traveling back home from Delaware. It was after 5:00 pm when he called, so I knew something was up. When he said he was going to be in town the next day and wanted to meet me first thing in the morning I knew my tenure working for the nations largest bicycle retailer was over. To this day I still don't completely understand the decision. Out of 9 District Managers, only three had an increase in sales for the year. Of those three, I had the largest increase in the stores that were open for more than a year, and I also opened 8 new stores for the company. I was a loyal company man that bled the company colors. But just like that it was over! I wasn't the only one in the company that was laid off, just the only member of the retail division. It didn't make sense.

A small part of me believes that my Crohn's Disease had something to do with the lay off. But my former boss, although a complete donkey, is too smart to ever admit that. Still the fact remains that I was hospitalized last May for a week and spent another two weeks on medical leave after that. I was on a business trip when it happened, so the company incurred extra expenses, and my relationships with the powers that be were never the same. However, instead of dwelling on the negative, I did what I always do and put a positive spin on the whole thing. I would no longer have to start every single day listening to the Yosemite Sam of retail rant and rave for an hour.

In less than a week I was feeling pretty good about everything. Although I will admit that all the calls from shocked former co-workers and employees got to be a bit tiring - they had good intentions but I hate the whole sympathy mentality. Since I was getting a severance package, I decided that I would not rush into anything. My days consisted of applying for a few jobs, going on some interviews, physical therapy for my back, watching movies , listening to music, but mostly playing with my black lab .

Rocky is very much a puppy (his real name is Shamrock because he was born 3/17/07), and he loves to play! One day we went for a 5 mile hike while 3 inches of snow fell from the sky. It was beautiful. It was also the one hike we did near water that Rocky didn't insist on going into the water. We went from hardly ever spending any quality time together outside, to a different outdoor adventure every day. He would run along side of me as I rode my mountain bike, we would play frisbee in the field across the street, and we would hike and hike and hike.

So by now, you are most likely reading this and going; what the hell does this have to do with writing a blog? The simple answer to that question is absolutely nothing. Say it again. Sorry, sometimes random song quotes pop into my thoughts. Anyway, I believe in giving some pertinent background into every story. It helps put everything in context don't you think?

So last Friday, six weeks after I was laid off, I was getting frustrated with the agonizingly long interview process I was going through with a couple of retailers. The weather outside was not pleasant, so I decided to go to the basement and do some laps with Rocky. It's like a game of tag except neither of us ever really knows who is "it." We run around the couch as fast as we can, when he passes me, I turn around and run the opposite way or sometimes he'll turn around and I end up chasing him. Anyway we were running at a pretty good clip and going around a corner when all of a sudden Rocky decide to go for the pass. He took my legs right out from under me and sent me flying into the wall. Instantly I knew something wasn't right.

However, with my medical history, I couldn't initially determine how bad it was. Due to the medication's for Crohn's disease I developed osteoporosis. Not only that, but I have had four reconstructive surgeries on my left knee due to ligament and cartilage tears. As I laid on the ground, I realized the pain was concentrated around my foot.

Since it was Friday evening, and I didn't want to go to the hospital, I told my very worried daughters that if my foot still hurt on Monday I would go to the Doctors. The entire weekend all three of my daughters would give my wife updates on the swelling and colors of my foot. It was obvious that my pinkie toe took the brunt of the impact, but the whole foot was swollen and discolored. As far as Rocky, he was just confused as to why he kept get yelled at every time he stepped on my foot.

So to cut to the chase, yes I have a broken foot, yes I'm still looking for a job, and no I can no longer bide my time playing outside with my black lab. So now for the simple answer to the why blog question; I was bored.

But really it's more than that. You see I have lived a pretty full life. I love telling stories about that life, and for years people have been telling me I should write a book. I figure this format suits me better than a book. First of all for many reasons, I can not reveal actual names of people involved in many of the stories. Secondly, this way I can just write what ever tickles my fancy when ever I feel like it. If I see something interesting on the web, I can link to it right away. If I see a product or a service that I think warrants a look by people reading my stories, I can link to that too. Finally, and probably most importantly, the reason I have chosen to blog is I just want to share my experience, strength and hope with as many people as possible.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How the heck are you all supposed to find me?

So it dawned on me: How are the people of the world supposed to happen upon my site? A little research was done and I was able to determine that I must get a Technorati Profile that way the "spiders" of the search engines can find me. In other words, this post means nothing to any real person. But I had to post the above link to get noticed by search engines.


Welcome to the jungle

Welcome to the jungle we got fun and games. So let me start with a quick introduction. Most of my adult life I have been described as a unique individual. In a way I know what people mean, but in another way, I have no idea what they mean. Aren't we all unique in some way? I know my taste in music can be a bit ecletic at times. But does that make me unique? Certainly not! So let me try to give you some baisics, and maybe you can decide for your selve. Isn't that a novel idea?

I am in my mid to late thirties. I am a Deadhead having gone to over 150 Grateful Dead shows from 1987 to 1995 when Jerry died. I have also continued to go to shows ever since, often planning at least on vacation a year to follow some band or another around this great country of ours. At this point I should probably mention that I am clean and sober, and have been since July 13, 1990. I'm sure I'll go into more details about this at a later time.

I met my wife in an AA club a month after getting sober, for me it was love at first sight. We have been married for over 14 years. At the rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding, my beautiful bride took me a side. You see I had been pretty sick for awhile, but all the doctors kept saying it was either due to my drug history or it was just plain stress. But after I went from 195 lbs (with very little fat) to 135 lbs in a matter of months I finally found a doctor that was willing to try to figure out what was going on with my body. The problem was, I was working in Texas but still officially living in the suburbs of DC. I first saw this new doctor two weeks before the wedding. He knew that he would have to figure out why I was so sick before the wedding, since we were moving to Texas after the honeymoon. Those two weeks were interesting, lots of medical tests, and lots of calls to the doctor with him saying things like, "Well you don't have leukemia." Now you have to remember in 1993 not everyone had a cell phone. So like I was saying, my lovely bride took me a side at the rehearsal dinner and told me that seh had talked to the doctor that afternoon. It was then that she told me that I had a chronic incurable disease called Crohn's Disease.

I'm sure as the blog goes on, I will go into more details about my past since it all adds up to who I am today. But for now, here are just a couple more quick facts. I have three daughters ages 12, 9 and 3. The two oldest two are each named after Grateful Dead songs. I love the outdoors, especially cycling, hiking, fly-fishing and paddling. Oh yeah, and how could I forget? I have a beautiful black lab puppy. He'll be a year old on Saint Patty's day, but believe me, he is still very much a puppy.

I think that about wraps it up for the introduction. Believe me I'll cover more of my history has the blog goes on, including being adopted on to an Indian Pueblo, running drugs with some pretty sketchy characters, and a bunch more craziness from my travels around this glorious country of ours.