Disclaimer: This entry was written before I was admitted to the hospital. It is just being posted after my Day -5 entry.
On this last day with my family (Wednesday), we woke up excited to get out and walk around the town, but there was an obvious, sad feeling in the room, knowing it was our last day to have this kind of freedom together as a family. I had an appointment at 2:30 pm to get a PICC line catheter placed from my upper arm, all the way to my heart, which is going to stay in me for the duration of the transplant. I’ll explain that one more later.
We wanted to do a different walk than what we had been doing, so we took the back way of Downtown Chicago, over to the River walk, and then walked the river all the way down to the Sears Tower, or Willis Tower as they call it now. This was really a cool walk to go along the river and even see one of the drawbridges open up, but it also was just a great opportunity to spend time with the family and take it all in. At the Sears Tower, we found a lawn across the street, so we stopped there so Olivia could run around. It was such a beautiful day out there, that there were people all over the place on the lawn laying out and basking in the sun. It’s so funny to watch Olivia, because all she wants to do is run. She always tries to find the dirt and plants, and then picks up sticks and runs around with them.
The building we were next to was all made of glass, and she kept running along the sidewalk, so she could see her reflection while she ran. The funny thing is, she doesn’t really run. She skips, which is even more cute. I really enjoyed chasing her around the lawn and yelling “I’m going to get you” and she yells it back. She loves that game. While at the park at Sears Tower, it really hit me hard how much I’m going to miss them. I have to admit I got a little emotional. I feel like I have so much going into this procedure. I have the hopes of having a full and healthy life, and being able to work a whole career and not being medically retired, so I can provide and take care of my family. I want to be able to race with my children someday, run with them, teach them how to play sports, take them to Disneyland, Moab, Montana, San Diego, and all the places we love to go. I want to share it with them. For the last few years, I’ve had this nagging fear that I would never be able to do this with my kids, but suddenly there’s this procedure that tells me that I probably will.
Armstrong, Kobe, Dez, Owens and Artest
I’m a huge believer in second chances. I feel like my life is about second chances. I know there are people in my life who still won’t talk to me, because they think I’m a person I was years ago and haven’t changed. There are also awesome people in my life that are my greatest friends and allies, because they’ve seen me try and change, and have given me a second chance. I dont think I was ever a horrible person, just mouthy and competitive. Liz always says that “My bark is bigger than my bite.” I’d say that’s true. My mouth gets me into a lot of trouble sometimes,but rarely, does it go past that..unless basketball or mountain bike racing are involved. 🙂
In the sports world, my favorite athletes are the ones who almost threw it all away, and then made a comeback. Most of the athletes I love, the media hates, because they always act like they are an accident waiting to happen again. But I watch them and see their passion to make a comeback and change who they were, but still play and thrive on emotion. its always the emotional ones too. I’m thinking about guys like Kobe Bryant, Terrell Owens, Ron Artest, Dez Bryant, and Lance Armstrong. They are some of the most amazing athletes ever, but their emotions and inability to see their consequences, get them into trouble from time to time. But,when these guys play, they compete with heart.
Lance Armstrong was always my greatest hero. He was my hero, but I hate how bad everything he did looked, and how he handled it. I hope someday they give him a second chance to do something, like triathlon or something else, so he can go out and redeem himself somewhat. Say what you will about his bike races, but the man beat cancer and had a killer instinct attitude as he did it. I read his book right when I was diagnosed, and some of the chapters in that book inspired me, like I’ve never been inspired before. I was inspired to the point of goosebumps! The book talked about fighting, never quitting, and overcoming the pain to get back up. Being a doper or not, cancer is real and that’s what I was thinking when I was riding my bike, trying not to fall over or have a heart attack. I thought of that book when I was pumped up with so many drugs and felt dizzy, and couldn’t see out of one eye. I didn’t know how I was going to go on, but that inspiration got me there one pedal at a time! Everyone deserves a second chance, and I feel like I’m getting the second chance of second chances!
We walked back from Sears Tower at a much faster pace than we walked there because of my appointment at 2:30 pm. I wanted to make it back at least by 2:00 pm, so that I could take a shower. I enjoyed a beautiful walk on that beautiful day, despite one pedestrian with a purple velvet suit walking in front of us way at too slow of a rate.
I got to my appointment right at 2:30 pm, but I went by myself this time, because Liz and Olivia needed a nap. Since they do this procedure in an operating room, Liz and Olivia can’t come back with me anyway. This catheter is called a PICC line. They inserted it into my upper right arm, but it has a long line on it that goes inside me, and all the way to my heart. It has three lines, so they can hook me up to all the different IV’s that chemotherapy,as well as other drugs they need to pump into me. It also has a valve that they can screw into anytime they need to take my blood. In the long run, this is really nice because I’m not getting poked with needles every day, its just a one time thing. This line will stay in my arm until it is done. They had to use ultrasound and an EKG machine to properly place it, and I was still having to lay on the operating bed with blankets all over me. The doctors are both big Breaking Bad fans, so when they found out I was from New Mexico, we had a lot to talk about. 🙂 Putting in the PICC line wasn’t as near as traumatizing as the VAS catheter that went into my neck last week. In fact, after that one, today’s went over pretty well, yet it was still a little traumatizing for me, not going to lie.
When I got back to the hotel, we went to the park on the shore of Lake Michigan and the edge of Northwestern University, so Olivia could slide and swing. It’s amazing how much this little girl loves her parks. She knows when we’re in the neighborhood, because she starts pointing and saying “Slide? Swing?” This usually starts from a couple blocks away, when there’s no way she can even see the park yet, but somehow she knows that were close.
Upon returning back to the hotel, and putting Olivia to bed, it became time to address the chemo hair issue. My hair had started getting thinner on the sides, and my whole scalp felt sunburned and irritated. I didn’t want my hair falling off in my sterile room, and all over my hospital bed, so it was time to shave it off. Luckily for me, Liz got the honors of doing this. Getting it with the razor was a little more tricky, because I have a couple wrinkles on my head that are hard to get to. I only cut myself once! It’s not even worth worrying about, and its just a small price to pay for good health. I didn’t want to cut it earlier, because I wanted to enjoy my time in Chicago without everyone asking me what was wrong or feeling sorry for me. It was great to blend in and be normal, and not distract from family time by having to explain my condition to everyone. I’d say 95% of people I’ve known, since I had this disease, never knew I had it, until I started fund raising for a Bike MS race last fall and my announcement of this treatment. My opinion is, the more people feel sorry for you, the more sick you feel. I don’t want people going easy on me, because they feel sorry for me. We do what we have to do when we need to do it.
So tomorrow is a big day and I have to be up bright and early to check into the hospital and start a week of chemotherapy, say goodbye to my little girl, and only have limited visits from Liz. I’m ready to get the final push started, so they can break me down and I can build myself back up (with God’s help, and the help of doctors, friends and Zia Velo, my cycling team). I’m anxious to start this recovery process and I’ve been looking forward to the challenge!
Sears Tower was always my favorite!
Just need a terrible Tap Out shirt!
I had to take the pic with the terrible mustache. It was immediately shaved off after.
She was so amused with my bald head that she kept taking my hat off!