Thursday, December 29, 2011

To New Adventures in 2012

I have never been one to just sit back and let something run over me.  That being said, living with RA over the past 8 years has provided its ups and downs.  I raise my glass to all who live in rebellion against RA ... to new adventures in 2012!

I took the KLR out Wednesday and put in 160 miles.  It was a chilly day and I paid for it toward the end of the ride but the next day felt fine.  I also discovered, for me, the most amazing cold weather riding accessory there is.  We rode 45 miles and stopped at Blue Mountain Lake.  Randall asked how I was doing and I said good but my hands are cold and hurting.  He said here ... try these gloves.  At first I wasn't going to but my hands tricked my brain into saying okay.  They were MSR Cold Pro gloves, and my hands warmed up and stayed toasty the rest of the day.  We split up at the end of the day, traded gloves back and by the time I had rode the 3 miles back to the truck, my hands were hurting again.  Of course it was sundown and back down in the mid 40's by that time also.  A pair of these gloves are next up on my wish list for riding. I am starting to like the KLR more after yesterdays ride, it has incredible acceleration even though it is still restricted from the factory.  With a quick twist of the wrist you go from 45 to 70 mph in nothing.  I am taking the KLR again tomorrow for a short ride and the KTM out Saturday for another all day ride. 60 degree days in December rock!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Just What The Doctor Ordered

I am completely over my flare now, the stye is 95% gone as well.  I'm just patiently waiting on the next medical problem to come along now. I received an email from a lady in Wisconsin last month asking me about riding with RA.  Here are parts of her letter, "First, I am female & a bit down right now after another flare.  I have 2 bikes in the garage that i've only been tinkering with since md-simmer.  I have been told by MDs to SELL these & that NO ONE with RA can safely ride a 2-wheeled contraption."  This infuriated me, how can a doctor (most of whom have only been trained to treat us, they do not know how it feels to live with a chronic disease) tell us to quit living just because we have RA.  I would like to talk to this doctor, I have logged over 7000 miles over the past two years, mostly off road miles which are a bit more tricky than riding asphalt.  Does he think that I cannot ride safely?  I replied to her and told her how I have adjusted my riding style, how I feel riding and my limitations.  I have not heard back from her, I hope she will take my email to her doctor!
With a break in the cold weather, I had my eye (not the one with the stye in it) on getting out to ride Wednesday morning, provided I felt up to it and the storms didn't roll in when they were predicted early that morning.  My luck held out on both counts and I loaded the KTM and headed for the mountains.  I had to go to work that afternoon so it would be a short 50 or 60 mile ride, but I was not going to waste a 65 degree day in December.  I met Randall at the bottom of Poteau Mountain and we lit the beasts up and headed up the twisty, rocky mountain.  Once over the mountain we hit the woods and I was surprised at how good the bike felt today, somedays you feel like pushing it but it doesn't feel right so you back off a bit.  This was NOT one of those days. In the woods I was slamming through the corners, wheelieing across creeks and, in general, having the time of my life.  Quick note: my new boots are not 100% waterproof and although the outside temperature was 65, my left foot was now closer to a damp 45 degrees.  
We were on our way to Haws Creek to get a cheeseburger when we found that they are destroying one of our favorite trails to get there. They have brought in heavy equipment, cut down trees and are building a wide road to log out the woods on Walker Mountain.  The government fights to ban dirt bikes from riding on National Forrest land, but it is perfectly acceptable to bring in heavy equipment, leave it sitting in the woods leaking diesel and oil directly on the ground, those evil dirt bike riders must be stopped at all costs!
This is about where it started raining on us, not a nice easy slow rain ... oh no.  We rode the next 30 minutes in various intensities of the liquid menace then as we were approaching Haws Creek the road turned back north and there it was.  A bright, full on side to side rainbow against a deep gray (almost black) sky behind it.  It was a perfect picture moment but as some of you may remember, my camera committed suicide on our 2 day ride about 6 weeks ago.  I had my phone with me, even though it has an 8MP camera on it, the quality just isn't there.  
After eating I had to get back home quick, I had rode way past when I needed to and was nearly late for work.  We were pushing 65-75 mph on single lane forest roads coming back, like Randall says, "when it goes bad ... it's going to be real bad".  Logged 85 off road miles before going to work.  The thrill and satisfaction of being on a bike, the disconnection from society, no cell phones or internet distractions, does me so much good.  By the way, my rheumatologist rides ... I'm glad he gets it. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Finally!!

After a frigid blast moved through, actually it just stopped and hung out for a few days with us, I am feeling better.  As my luck would have it, now that my flare is about 70% gone, I have a stye in my left eye.  It doesn't hurt, itches a little and looks like I was on the wrong end of a bar room altercation.  Other than that, I am actually felling pretty good now.  

So good in fact, I got out to the garage and mounted a new front tire on my KLR yesterday.  I used my handy dandy new ATV jack that I had to buy just for the new scooter.  It is too low to the ground to use a normal dirt bike lift.  It was a struggle and my hands paid for it dearly but I finally got the stiff walled DOT approved knobby tire on the rim.  After I checked the spokes, wheel bearings and brake pads, I put the wheel back on and was amazed at how much better the bike looks.  Once I get the rear knobby on, it will look a little more like a true off road bike.  I have 2 weeks off at Christmas into New Years and I am hopeful we will have at least 2 or 3 days warm enough to ride.  Did you hear that Mike?  You'd better get your happy butt down this way and ride with us ... weather permitting.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fully Flared

I got in from work tonight at midnight on what should be an ordinary night.  However, living with a chronic disease means that there is no such thing as normal anymore.  What I wouldn't give to be able to wake up and jump out of bed attacking the morning any way I choose to or simply stand up and take off walking after sitting down for more than 15 minutes.  I would love to be able to play basketball again (we still have the goal up and two basketballs in the garage, when I do feel like shooting a few I usually don't feel like chasing the ball down), go for a run around the neighborhood or play golf again. 

Instead I sit here tonight with a full body flare up.  I really have no room to complain, it has been a while since I have experienced one.  I am used to living with the pain but I don't think I will ever adjust to dealing with the fatigue part.  Tonight at work as soon as a roll would splice off, it would take everything I had just to make myself stand up and start walking to the press.  My hips, knees, shoulders, hands and feet are all equally dividing up the abuse while my right ankle does not want to bend and my neck has been cracking and popping. I assume this is my RA multi-tasking.  

I think perhaps the hardest part of living with RA for me has been the fact that I have shut down my emotions in order to survive.  I just bought a new motorcycle 3 weeks ago and I've just not been that excited about it.  For that, I truly hate you RA.

Spring will soon be here bringing warm weather, longer days and some good rides.  I am ready for spring but for now I will just live out my winter hibernation ritual ... work, sleep, work, sleep.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ramblings Of A Madman

  • I hate winter.
  • What is wrong with people today, it just seems like there is way too much intolerance and hatred.  There is no such thing as agreeing to disagree in todays world.  If you don't agree with someone, they hate you.
  • By my own definition, I guess the statement above makes me intolerant of myself.  After further review, my official stance is that I hate RA which in turn makes me severely dislike winter.  This statement very nearly propels me to politician status.  I just need to develop a drug/alcohol addiction, have an affair and embezzle some money.
  • Perhaps not as deep as the creation of Stonehenge yet still I wonder, how can Nickelback be one of the top rated rock bands while being the most disliked band at the same time?
  • Why do I live with chronic pain every day yet insist on continuing to work a blue collar job and try to pass myself off as being a normal guy?  The answer is complex and has several answers.  Among them are, I want to be able to support my family, I'm not willing to resort to disability (although there are days it would be nice), I would have an internal conflict if I continued to ride but would not work and I'm sure not giving up riding any time soon and perhaps the most humorous one to some people ... I enjoy working.

While it is painfully obvious that I am not a deep thinker, I have been analyzing what changes/modifications I need to do to my new motorcycle before going to Colorado early next summer.  I have already started by relocating the license plate and removing the rear fender extension, added a rear master cylinder guard, did the air box mod to make it breathe better, replaced the stock handguards with a set of bark busters and some hand protectors.  Started removing the stock graphics.  I have a set of Dunlop 606 tires coming this week, that should help the lack of control issue some.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Changes

Anyone living with a chronic disease is forced to make changes in their life.  My life has been full of them over the last 8 years.  Some changes were out of necessity while some changes came from a personal desire to continue doing something I love to do.   While my RA has been semi behaved for the last couple of months, it has reminded me of our impending winter this past week.  We have had a couple of cold fronts move through and I would notice more stiffness and pain as much as six hours ahead of the fronts moving in.  I can hardly wait til the real winter starts ... I was getting bored with feeling reasonably good.
My latest change involves purchasing a new motorcycle to make it easier to ride with RA.  Saturday I bought a 2009 Kawasaki KLR 650 in pristine condition.  It was painfully stock and obvious that the bike had never left the asphalt, it had street tires on it.  I couldn't help myself, I had to take it out for a ride today.  Obviously it was not going to handle very well riding it on dirt with street tires, but I was amazed at how smooth the ride was on it.  The bigger, heavier bike was absorbing so much of the vibration and shock while riding ... my plan for this bike appears that it may work out.  I have my work cut out for me though, phase 1 will involve stiffening up the suspension while mounting some Dunlop 606 tires front and back and moving the license plate location.  Phase 2 will see the addition of  handguurds, handguard protectors, GPS mount, triple density grips and possibly grip heaters.  Phase 3 will consist of a slip on FMF Powercore 4 exhaust, opening the air box up, possibly rejetting the carb if needed and a rear master cylinder guard.  There are other mods I am wanting to do to it, but that will get me started anyway.

I would like to wish everyone out there a Happy Thanksgiving.  I can't believe it's already time for Thanksgiving, where has this year gone to?  May you be able to enjoy it with family and friends.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Abby Normal

I borrowed the title from an old favorite movie of mine, Young Frankenstein.

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Very good. Would you mind telling me whose brain I DID put in? 
Igor: Then you won't be angry? 
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: I will NOT be angry. 
Igor: Abby someone. 
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [pause, then] Abby someone. Abby who? 
Igor: Abby... Normal. 
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [short pause] Abby Normal? 
Igor: I'm almost sure that was the name.

Since adjusting the bar for my life, thanks RA, I have to admit ... I've been doing pretty darn good lately.  I have been working a lot of OT to stick some money back for Donna and a new bike.  Even working the long/extra hours haven't hurt me much.  I wish I could feel this good all of the time but I know with winter closing in on us, this won't last too much longer.  What I do find annoying, despite feeling good, is after sitting longer than 20-30 minutes it hurts to stand and start walking.  I also hate that my hands just ache for no good reason.  My feet hurt all of the time whether I'm standing, walking or have them propped up.  Then there's the fatigue, many times after waking up from 8 hours of sleep, I feel tired and have to push myself to just walk across a level floor.  Isn't it amazing that despite all of this, I consider myself to be having good days?  
This is one thing I wished outsiders could understand.  While we do go on and do many normal things, enjoying life the best we can now, we don't do this easily or pain free.  We make many sacrifices and adjustments in life, just to appear normal, that are invisible to most outsiders. 
Speaking of normal, life in Oklahoma has been anything but normal this year.  Above average tornadoes (ok, we're used to those), flooding then drought conditions, we had 51 days over 100, 35 consecutive days over 100 and then BOOM ... Saturday afternoon we had a 4.7 earthquake followed by a 5.6 a few hours later.  There have been several aftershocks, none serious.  There is damage to several homes and a section of a US Highway is buckled.  We live 140 miles away, so we have no damage but did feel the larger one last night. By the rest of the years activities, I guess I should be preparing for 10 feet of snow (yearly average is 5.1 inches) this winter.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tile, KLR's And A Miserable Disease

"We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about." 
- Charles Kingsley

I think most of you know what I am enthusiastic about, motorcycles have helped me stay happy while living with a chronic disease over the last eight years.  Since my 400 mile ride, I have been burning up the internet researching the Kawasaki KLR650, Honda XR650L and the BMW F650GS.  While the newer KLR's are just dog ugly up front, I am convinced that this is what my next bike will be.  I am looking for a clean, low milage pre 08 model for the looks department.  The downfall is that full of gas, oil and water, it weighs in at 432 lbs!  Are you kidding me?  I hope it comes with a folding saw in the tool kit so if it falls on you, you can cut your leg off to get out from under it!  After hopping up and down on a 07 model this week, the weight doesn't seem like it will be an issue until the bike is laying on top of you.  The photo below is similar to how I eventually want my KLR set up for adventure rides.
I have been very busy over the last two weeks.  Between working quite a bit of OT and the floors, I haven't had much time.  Sunday we moved furniture and pulled up the carpet, pad and tack strip for the workers to start Monday morning.  We now have tile in the living room and think we will be much happier with it.  I'm not sure how my feet and cold tile will get along this winter, my feet hurt so much anyway and cold makes them ache.  I hate wearing house shoes inside, but I guess that is what I will have to get used to doing.
My RA has been semi behaved considering all I have put it through over the last 4 weeks.  From a 400 mile motorcycle adventure, to moving furniture and pulling up carpet, all while working at least 12 hours a week OT and getting inadequate sleep.  One night last week my feet were hurting badly after finishing a 16 hour shift.  I came home showered and crawled into bed.  Just the weight of the sheet laying on them hurt.  I try not to complain, but I truly hate living with this miserable disease.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My New Normal

RA has changed my life, but it has not changed who I am inside. One of the negatives is the physical limitations that RA has bestowed upon me. While I occasionally look back on some of my "good times" that I have experienced, I am firmly grounded where I am today. I don't hold any anger at, or have any depression over living with RA. It took a while to get here, but I am enjoying life the best way I can now. Some days this means taking my bike out and hammering out a few miles of rough, nasty single track trail while other days it may just be settling back and catching up on some movies.  I no longer look at it as living an abnormal life, this is the new normal for me. 

My RA has been dog ugly after taking it for a 400 mile ride.  See if I try to take my RA on vacation again ... if it were my child I would give it a good spanking. I have been limping, groaning and eating Tylenol Arthritis daily to get through my shift at work.  I have also been spending some time in the hot tub.  It has finally started easing it's grip and is releasing me from this latest self induced flare episode.  

I am once again considering taking another step for my new normal lifestyle.  After our two day ride, I have been researching true dual sport bikes as a possible solution to alleviate some of the pain while riding. As normal, I am most likely over analyzing the project but, much like my RA, I would rather have too much information than not enough.

I believe that, for me, continuing to do what I love has allowed me to keep my sanity through the first eight years of my journey with RA. I have been on a motorcycle since I was ten years old. My parents thought that they would buy me a motorcycle, I would ride it for one summer, be done with it and sell it. That was 42 years and 28 motorcycles ago. Make no mistake, it still hurts every time I throw a leg over a bike, but the personal satisfaction that I get from both riding and knowing that I am kicking RA's butt one day at a time is worth every ounce of pain.

This is a clip from our adventure ride two weeks ago.  The audio didn't come through so don't try to turn your speaker up to get sound.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

2 Days And 400 Miles With RA

Tuesday morning Randall and I drove the bikes out to Highway 23 to unload, just can't get excited about riding on Interstate for 60 miles.  It was 50 degrees and the first hour of the ride, at 65 mph, your face isn't numb from the cold, you just wished it was.  That would soon change and before long we were pulling clothes off faster than a $2 hooker.  About 5 hours into the ride we were officially lost (it's not a real ride until you're lost) but soon we found our way out to where we needed to be.  Okay, it was more like blind luck, but we accidently stumbled onto the forest road we were looking for.  
We rode up to Bull Shoals and took the ferry across the lake.  Once on the other side of the lake we rode up into Missouri.  On the way back Wednesday morning, I ran out of gas topping a hill and pulled to the side of the road.  I laid my bike all of the way down to let what little gas on the right side of the tank over to the left side where the petcock is.  Randall did the same even though he was not out yet.  I had enough gas to make it, at most, 2 miles.  I got my bike started and we took off and ... we were one tenth of a mile from a gas station.  On the way back we tracked down an old fire tower the US Forest Service no longer uses.  It was a brutal climb up the mountain since they no longer keep the road up after closing the tower.  The steep, rocky, rutted out climb to the tower was also one of the highlights of the trip for me.
Most of us with RA tend to overdo it when we feel good.   I usually always pay for overdoing it, as I am now, but I am also smiling.  While my RA was not a problem child on the trip, by the time we got to the hotel room at the end of the first day, I could barely walk.  We had left at 8:30 am, stopped to eat breakfast, again to fill up with gas and a third time to check the maps while we were lost, and arrived at the hotel at 7:15 pm.  That means a solid 9 to 10 hours on the bikes. My hands, hips, knees and right shoulder were all hurting pretty bad along with my feet.  But I am not one to just sit back and let this disease tell me what I can and can't do.  
It is hard for me to give up things, RA has forced me to give up so much already, but I am coming to the conclusion that I may have to sell my KTM soon.  It is absolutely awesome, light weight, great handling, superior suspension and just tons of raw horsepower but it also has a lot of vibration and a seat height that prevents me from being able to get on or off without finding an elevated step or someplace to lean the handlebar against while I get on and off of it.  I hate to admit it but I am thinking of a KLR650 or maybe a XR650 with lowering links.  I'm bummed even thinking about it but I will keep on riding something.

Hope you enjoy some of the photos from the ride.
At 65 mph, the camera doesn't focus very well
 Old school house in a small community we rode through
 You know me, I love iron truss bridges
 Riding next to bluffs on Big Piney Creek
 More bluffs on Big Piney Creek
 And yet, more bluffs on Big Piney Creek
 Abandoned rock building in Deer, Arkansas
 Bluffs along the Buffalo National River
 Our bikes riding the ferry across Bull Shoals Lake
 One lake, one ferry and 4 moron's shadows
 Just outside the restaurant where we ate breakfast Wednesday
 Train trestle just outside of Yellville
 Possibly the worlds smallest post office
 Forest road somewhere between point A and B
 An endangered species ... the wooden barn
 10 miles into the ride, still had happy butts (not hurting yet)
  100 miles south of us everything was so green and lush
  Made a pit stop to pull some clothes off after it warmed up
Not often you see a bear warning sign in Arkansas.
Okay, this is the first one I've ever seen.  I've seen 
several bear, just not a bear warning sign before.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Good Times

I picked up a new battery Monday morning, after Sundays ride. After addling the electrolyte in the battery and installing and hooking all of the cables and wires up ... it was time to go to work. Monday at work drug by, but finally my 8 hour sentence was paid in full and I was allowed to go free, only temporarily though. 
I awoke Tuesday morning and after a quick shower, dashed out the door and pointed my truck toward the woods. Yep, I was riding for the second day out of three. I met Randall at the edge of the forest and we lit the big beasts up and aimed them south. We rode some new fire road that was grown over with knee deep grass, just barely leaving 2 tire tracks visible at times. We were running this stuff fairly fast, 3rd and 4th gear, when we come to a large tree down across the makeshift road. It was too large to jump the bikes over so we made our way around it out through the woods. While I am not overly scared of snakes, I kept my eyes focused squarely in front of my bike and tractored through the lush under growth with precession and balance. I was extremely relieved to make it back out to the fire road. If there was ever a place considered to be a snake magnet, we just rode through the middle of it!
After another hour or so of riding, we stopped in at the Haws Creek store. We had a burger and parted ways. While visiting with the lady running the store, she informed us that the mountain lions now have cubs and to be extremely careful around where she lives. She said that while both the Arkansas and Oklahoma Wildlife Departments told her there are absolutely no mountain lions in this area, they will not even come out to investigate it. In the meantime she said that neighbors have lost pets (a large older Tom Cat found dead and a dog missing) and there have been farm animals mutilated (2 goats and a calf). Their explanation is that its a bear and she has most likely been seeing a bob cat. Come on, a bob cat and a mountain lion are not any where close to resembling each other. One thing's for sure ... it sure kept my mind off of arthritis during my solo ride back through the woods.
Once back, I had to go pay up another 8 hour sentence. Boy, work sure does get in the way of having a good time! Randall and I are going to do a 2 or 3 day ride the last week of this month. Hopefully I will have some good pictures soon for you to check out. It's been great having my RA behave for the last 6 days ... I hope it continues.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Day In Pictures

I have my latest flare behind me so after getting off work this morning, I got up at the crack of noon and stopped by my son-in-laws house.  David had marginally more sleep than I did but we were dragging our happy butts out to play today ... we had earned it!   We had a good ride today that was cut short because of my bike and a battery issue.  At one point, we pushed my bike up a steep little hill for a rolling start.  Mary, my hats off to you and all the other cyclist's out there.  I had not hurt this bad since Mike and I rode bicycles for cardio training.  While pushing my bike uphill, I'm pretty sure my lungs came out through my mouth trying to get air!  
Oark is a cool little town, I always enjoy stopping in and visiting with the people there.  Check out that burger, the melted cheese doesn't even get to the edge of the patty.  Their home made pies are the best but neither of us had room for a piece today.  My dad actually worked at the canning factory at Oark keeping the boilers going after he came back from the Korean War.  It was located just down the street from the cafe.   
Not much else to tell, my RA is somewhat behaving and I had a good day today in spite of my battery grief.  Here is part of my day in pictures.

Monday, September 5, 2011

FMLA - Know Your Rights

I have FMLA papers filled out every year by my rheumatologist for my employer. So far, in the 5 years I have been covered by FMLA, I have not used it a single day but it is there should I need to use it. If you do not have it, I would suggest checking on it, especially if your employer has a stringent attendance policy. Once your FMLA papers are filled out and approved, you do not need to give any advanced notice. To use it you call into work, but instead of calling in sick, just let them know that you are calling in FMLA. In our case, living with a chronic disease, this is an excellent tool to protect your job. 
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons. The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration, Wage and Hour Division, administers and enforces the FMLA for all private, state and local government employees, and some federal employees. You can take as little as half a day or all 12 weeks at once, depending on your needs. 
FMLA applies to all public agencies, including state, local and federal employers, local education agencies (schools), and private-sector employers who employed 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including joint employers and successors of covered employers.



EMPLOYEE ELIGIBILITY
To be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee must:
• work for a covered employer;
• have worked for the employer for a total of 12 months;
• have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months; and
• work at a location in the United States or in any territory or possession of the United States where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.

Under the LEAVE ENTITLEMENT section there is this paragraph that pertains to us taking a day or two off during a bad flare up :
Under some circumstances, employees may take FMLA leave intermittently – taking leave in separate blocks of time for a single qualifying reason – or on a reduced leave schedule – reducing the employee’s usual weekly or daily work schedule. When leave is needed for planned medical treatment, the employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operation. If FMLA leave is for birth and care, or placement for adoption or foster care, use of intermittent leave is subject to the employer's approval.
The down side of this is that you do not get paid for the time missed while out on FMLA and there is abuse of this program by employees who just don't feel like going to work on any given day.

If interested, you can read up on FMLA at: 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'll Take Mine Well Done

It all started one normal Saturday afternoon in 1987. Mike and I were headed to the woods to camp out and ride all weekend. We found a good spot to camp on Mill Creek right at the entrance to one of our favorite trails. We unloaded the bikes, gathered some fire wood, set the tent up and had something to eat quickly so we could go for a night ride. 
Night rides are crazy. Yes our race bikes do have lights on them, but they are not to see with, you could see better if you taped a $2 WalMart flashlight to your handlebars. We weren't going out for a leisurely ride at night, we would ride as hard as we could and push each others riding ability through the woods without little to no light. The bad thing about night riding is when you crash, most times the engine stops running so you have no light to see. At night, miles from the city lights, in dense wooded areas, you cannot see your hand in front of your face. There is something deeply disturbing about a grown man crawling around on his hands and knees trying to locate the motorcycle that has just hammered him into the ground like a tent peg. 

We survived this night ride without any incidents and arrived safely back at camp. You can't have a camping trip without a camp fire so we were getting the wood prepared in the fire ring. It had rained earlier in the week so the wood was damp. What better way to start a fire with damp wood than to use premix (gas and 2 stroke racing oil), right? As I am dousing the damp firewood with the mixture, Mike strikes a match and drops on the wood ... the same wood I am still pouring premix on. After a big whoosh, I realize my arm is on fire! My best friend has turned me into a human fireball! Ok, maybe that was a slight bit overly dramatic, but you get the picture.  After a couple of damns, some running, hoping and possibly a couple of skips ... my smoking, singed haired limb is safely extinguished. We did what any semi-normal buddies would do at a time like this, laughed our ass off about it. 

We rode the next day til noon, then headed out to another area where our off road club was hosting a race at the next weekend. They were setting the start up funneling the racers through several turns back and forth to stagger the riders out some so they wouldn't all hit the woods at the same time. They asked Mike and I to test it out to see if everything was going to work and to get an idea of how long it would take to get to the woods. No problem, we pull our bikes out of the truck, put our gear on and line up next to each other on the start line. They started us and we hit the first turn side by side. We rode into the next turn wide open neither of us shutting down or giving an inch. Man, this is BIG TIME FUN now, we make it through the next two turns handlebar to handlebar and I just slightly inch out in front going into the next turn. Mike comes up on the outside of me in the turn and our tires made contact. Mikes bike slams him to the ground, and I, still unaware, have the throttle pinned running through the rest of the banners to the woods. I stop and look around for Mike. No Mike, hey, why is everyone going over to the middle of the grass track area? 

I ride backwards on the course and I see Mike who is by now sitting up, a bit groggy. We started laughing once he got to his feet and I told him it was payback for setting me on fire the night before.  After about 20 minutes Mike and I were lined back up on the start line for another run. We tried to get some others to run the start section with us again ... not a single person would line up with us. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Human Pain Magnet

I began my training as a human pain magnet early in life.  It seems that I have always been a "learn by fail" kind of guy.  When I was about 3 my dad was changing oil in the lawn mower and had just shut it off to drain the oil when I walked up.  He warned me not  to touch the muffler ... so began my life long journey with pain.  Between being a rowdy boy as a youngster, playing football, baseball and racing motorcycles, I have experienced my share of pain.  Broke my front tooth off playing football, stuck a knife in the side of my hand and the tip came out in the palm of my hand, have endured 3 concussions, 14 broken bones along with a ton of stitches.  I admit I have done my share (and probably 3 or 4 others) of stupid stuff while gaining my vast expertise in the world of pain, but none of us asked to live with RA, diabetes, fibro or any other chronic condition.

While this seems like it would have prepared me somewhat for living with a chronic disease later in life, it pales in comparison.  These did inflict great pain temporarily, but living with  a chronic condition is a full on 24/7 event.  While my pain level is certainly lower than most broken bones, I get little to no relief ... EVER.  There are times now that I feel the same as when my shoulder was separated, or suddenly I get that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when you move with a healing broken bone and you can feel it separating apart a little bit.  It is like comparing living through a tornado (broken bone) to a hurricane (chronic disease).  We live on the edge of tornado alley and are used to them coming and going quickly.  We were in a cat 1 hurricane while on vacation in Florida in 2000.   We thought living with tornadoes, a hurricane wouldn't be that big of a deal, but the winds and rain are constant for hours and hours, it eventually starts wearing you down.  After so long you just want it to stop ... sound familiar?

I was going through my closet this spring, throwing stuff out, and ran across a folder with xrays of some of my broken bones.  Why I still had them I don't know, but I immediately thought of the movie Road House.  lol

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Can't Live With 'Em, Can't Live Without 'Em

In spite of hurting Monday night after I got home from work, I got up early Tuesday morning and went for a quick little 75 mile ride.  I met Randall at the Haws Creek store and we had breakfast.  When getting ready to leave, the lady working at the store/diner told us to be careful and watch for bear.  I was halfway out the door and backed up to inquire a bit more.  She said that there had been a lot more bear sightings this summer, I assume from the drought.  She said one of her regular customers, an elderly gentleman, just last week had a mother and two cubs eating what was left of his garden.  I assured her that we would watch out for them, Randall and I have both rode up on several bear before in our years of riding, but they never fail to provide excitement!

Then she added, "which way are you going?"  I told her and she said she lived back a mile past the iron bridge (I love that old bridge) and there have been four people who have seen a large mountain lion in the area.  Now that would be some excitement I have not experienced.  So Randall and I did what any other dumbasses would do after hearing this.  We split up and rode back solo.  haha

On my way back I did run across a friendly little chap, a diamondback rattlesnake.  He was very polite, stopping to pose for a couple of pictures before proceeding to vanish into the plush carpet of the forest.

I'm still not completely over my surgery, it still hurts a little bit to ride.  The MTX has slowed the healing down so much, I should have been completely healed a month ago.  I feel no pain from with the exception of riding, and my doctor said it will continue to get better, just slowly.  Sigh ... life with RA medication.  Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.