Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I always get jittery in the office.

The oncological surgeon has a spot in Cancer Central. Four corners of a major space all filled with scientists, surgeons, oncologists, nurses and that one gal who validates parking.

I am not being braggadocios. I am surrounded by the elderly, the infirm and those who are struggling with their disease. I try not to stare because I understand and yet I don't want to know. The thoughts always race through my mind - who won't be here next time? I don't look like I should be here.

But no one ever sees the scars.

A new elderly nurse calls out my name. She actually pronounces it correctly. I believe in signs(ish) and this was a positive one.

Same old routine. I've learned where they put my chart on the side of the door so when the nurse closes it, I can listen for the rustle of papers. That will mean my doc will be right in shortly thereafter.

I read and re-read the same Melanoma poster that seems to be in every room. I'm pretty sure I can spot it now that I've seen the cases 450 times. I pass on reading the hand sanitizer. There were days I'd waste qtips in the garbage pail. Tell me you never pretended having an olympic javelin toss in an office!

Then the rustle. I hear him. Oh I know he's there.

He's the chief of oncology surgery. I got the best. I documented that a while ago. He's six feet tall and about 250 lbs. A right jolly ole elf sans the jolly part.

As the door opens, he fills the entire door frame. Usually, he is a whirlwind of personality and he thrusts the door open to announce my results even before the door closes.

Today, of course, is different. His round face is always beet red. Gotta watch that blood pressure, Doc.

"How are you feeling?"

"Who? Me?" Stupid question I know but this is unusual. "I am fine."

It's the truth. I am fine. I feel fine. I feel good. I kept telling myself this for the past two weeks. I'm not the droid you are looking for.....move along.

"Are you losing weight? Trouble sleeping? Body aches?"

"Well......yeah? I just want to lose 2 more lbs, I haven't slept since fourteen and you see how you feel when your 75 lb nine year old says 'Carry me, Dad'."

I made him chuckle. That makes me chuckle. I have bedside manner down to a tee. Just that silly doctor thing and I'd be in the club.

"Your scans were normal." Finally he says it. Fongoo, what took so long? It's been at least five minutes. He does what he always does after that - bring it all back down to Earth.

"Given your unusual tumor (read: we have no idea what the hell it was), I am always going to be extra cautious. One more year and we will scan once a year. How does that sound?"

I don't know? Sort of like Dana Scully saying, "I really just want to stay and watch bad TV with you."

I'm easy for him. In. Out. Collect copay.

I already have my appointment for next January scheduled. That's how we roll.

Tomorrow morning, run. Tomorrow night, shrink. Friday morning, weights.

All pretty normal. All pretty boring.

And that's just how I like it.....

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Just a little more...

Today I lifted more.

I know. It's not big news. It's not a record. In fact, I am pretty sure someone walked into the gym shortly thereafter and did more.

We all want to see progress. I was doing squats and felt good. I added more weight...then a little more.....then a little more.

It has been over 10 years since I had a triple bypass. Lots of people don't remember but it is still pretty clear. The other day I noticed the scars for the first time in a while.

It may be a good thing. I am taking it for granted.

The story has been told but to make it simple, radiation as a child caused a heart blockage requiring a triple bypass in 2003.

I could have used a fourth but they could not bypass a blockage on the back of my heart.

So to this day, I work to avoid the blockage. I still can do just about anything.

I've been cleared to run as far as I want. Pretty much do what I want.

There are certain problematic circumstances of course.

When I run hard that whole oxygen transfer doesn't work at optimal. I am a human who is governed through meds so the heart rate won't go too high. A precaution but a valid one.

A 5k is a marathon. So be it.

I have flashed back to the day of diagnosis this year for some reason. I remember not watching the video they tried to show me.

I remember my brother telling me, "You know they crack you open right?"

I remember my other brother asking, "Can I have your Star Trek collection?"

I shake my head now. The scar and, what I think, gnarled bone in my chest has healed. When a barbell bounces off of  me now, I still think I hear a 'click'.

All of this has been documented. All is pretty much known to others. Some don't realize which is fine by me.

I work to strengthen what I have. I can't go as fast as I'd like but that's okay. I can go.

Today it was particularly hot in the gym. Sweat poured off as I walked past the main desk to the muggy outdoors.

I always stop just outside to breathe and savor another moment of 'doing something'. The sun was hidden but the gray sky was calming.

Nothing great happened today. No records were broken. No human kind history was made.

But then again. It's been over 10 years so my history has been made. Selfish as it sounds, that means something.

It seems that every survivor needs to strive a little more....a little harder. Whether you are chasing someone to the finish line or chasing a nine year old across the yard. As long as we keep chasing and moving.

I am always reminded at how lucky I am. Even when Life's stresses hit hardest - always attempt to hit back.

Millions have not made it this far.

For those who haven't survived - This one is for you...