Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ready For Fall

In my ongoing struggle to kick RA's ass, I have many ups and downs.  It's not easy for me to work unlimited OT at work, to workout or ride, but it is important for me to push myself so I don't feel more even more closed in by the disease.  Mental perception is huge in dealing with this disease.  In May of this year I took the KTM to the woods to ride some single track trail.  I was feeling unusually good and I really miss riding the tight, technical, nasty stuff.  I started off easy and felt good so I kept twisting the throttle  more and more and soon was reliving the old days.   In my head, I felt as fast as I ever was while racing ... in reality you could have used a sun dial and a calendar to time me... but I was having the time of my life for a few minutes that day.  These moments are important for our survival and to help keep us grounded for our bad days.  I have my days where I hurt so bad that I will just kick back and watch a movie or some low key activity such as watching the back of my eyelids ... after living with this for 9 years, I have learned to pick and choose my battles for pushing myself. 
I always take my MTX on Sunday and most of the time just kick back enjoying the day with family.  This past Sunday I was forced to work and immediately remembered how big of a toll the chemo puts on us.  Instead of laying around on the couch or going out to eat, I was climbing stairs on the press, moving print decks (1 ton each) and down on my hands and knees splicing paper.  It was the roughest day I had been through at work in a while and, right or wrong, I am blaming the chemo.  Monday was much easier on me at work.
I am currently six days away from having some days off and feel like a kid waiting on the last day of school.  I have several rides I want to do and by having 3 or 4 days off every week (with the new schedule), starting next week, means I can do them without burning vacation days.  I missed the Colorado trip this year (thanks RA) but Randall and I are going to ride the Mississippi Hill Country loop of the Trans-America Trail this fall and possibly running out to northern New Mexico to ride a couple of days.  I also have 3 bridge rides planned, one of them being at least a two or three day ride.  I should have some good photos soon to post here. 
Hope everyone is doing well and ready to get out and enjoy fall, my favorite season.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I've Had Enough (Work)

I have noticed over the past year that on rides that my hands, especially my right hand, starts hurting somewhere around 60-75 miles.  I have been considering purchasing some Flexx bars which are supposed to help absorb shock and vibration.  The single reason I have yet to purchase them is they cost $350.  After reading several posts from adventure/dual sport riders about the weighted bar ends absorbing vibration, I put a set on the stock bars of the KLR.  I immediately noticed a reduction in vibration of the bars.  I took the bike out for a trial 100 mile test ride and was somewhat dismayed at the results.  Even though there is only a slight vibration at certain rpm's now, my hands started hurting at roughly the same mileage.  Either it did not reduce the vibration as much as I thought it did or it's just defective hands.
At the rheunatologist last week, doc shot x-rays, did blood work and examined in particular my hands, knees, ankles and hips.  Good news, x-rays look good, I do have one hole eaten through one of my toes from four years ago but no further bone destruction.  My blood work is normal and after the examination he said "I wish all of my patients were getting along as good as you are".  I know I am fortunate to do what I can still do, but all I have to gauge against is healthy people that I work with.  Measuring myself against them, I struggle (and hurt) to do normal things every day.  I try not to complain, don't want anyone's sympathy... just want to feel good enough to do what I want to.  Is that too much to ask?
Speaking of work, the printing press that I work on is going back to continuous operations September 3.  This means that I will go back to working 12 hour days - 3 days one week then 4 days the next week.  Or, a more positive approach is that I will be off half of the time now.  I have worked the last 2 Saturdays, working Saturday and Sunday this week and working next Saturday ... after next Saturday that will be 25 out of the last 27 days worked.  Cooler temperatures, some days off, a couple of my best friends and one of my motorcycles ... I'm ready!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Good Week

I have been stuck in a place where I have been before.  Not sure if the meds are going backwards or if I my RA has just gained some ground on me over the course of this year.  Which ever it is, I don't like it.  I have been lax on my exercising, due to pain mostly (it's easy to work out when you feel good), and have packed on 10 pounds since July of 2011.  I thought I was ready to start working out again and got started about 6 weeks ago only to bring on severe pain in my feet.  I am still doing a light work out with weights and am going to try using a bicycle trainer starting this week.  I recently saw a Facebook post between two old high school classmates talking about over weight people in America and how they just need to take control of their life and get outdoors, exercise and eat healthy.  While this is true of many, what they fail to realize is there are many of us who would love to be able to work out every day but can not due to disease, debilitating  car wreck, etc.  I started to reply to them but I didn't feel like arguing at that moment so I let it go ... but it has stuck with me since reading it.  Some people are lucky enough not to understand what some of us have to live with every single day.
Healthline editors recently published a list of their favorite Rheumatoid Arthritis blogs and RA Adventure Rider made the list. The complete list is at: http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/best-rheumatoid-arthritis-blogs . I am humbled to be included with the likes of real RA bloggers.  Congratulations to the other winners, there are a few blogs in the list that I have not visited yet but will be adding to my blog list soon.  
Took Tuesday off and drove up north to Beaver, Arkansas on the Arkansas-Missouri border.  My daughter had never been there and I had been wanting to go back to visit and photograph the old suspension bridge and the old derelict rail road bridge that cross Table Rock Lake.  She has her own photography business and took, I believe around 170 photos while there.  Always good to be able to spend quality time with your kids at any age.  The bridge was built in 1949 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.  It is one of 2 suspension bridges left in Arkansas.

I have been riding the KLR to work lately, nothing like getting your work day off to a good start by doing something you enjoy.  No ... it's not like charging down a forest road at 60-70 mph, but it is still enjoyable and the routes I take are low traffic areas.  I kinda like to take "the road less traveled" anyway - drives my wife nuts.  Plus it's kinda cool to see the KLR sitting next to all of the new, shiny, chrome laden Harleys in the motorcycle parking area.   Haha, most of them have paid $20,000 to $34,000 for their Harleys while I picked my KLR up used for $3500.  Plus, I don't have to turn around when I see dirt ... thats what I live for!