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


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.