Sunday, 1 December 2013

At long last - an Update!

Yes, it's been quite a while since I last posted here, so I figured it's time to at least write an update on things in general....
...which are pretty good. The medication (Methotrexate) was doing it's job and my pain levels where down (always in discomfort; frequent pain upon extending an affected joint; no constant pain) while mobility was up (been doing a daily series of head-to-toe exercises from my PT). Then I got a phone call from my Rheumatologist's office this past week. The results from my most recent monthly bloodwork showed that my liver enzymes were elevated; I would have to cut back on the dosage and see how it affected the blood results. I'm hoping everything will balance out okay.

We recently took a week-long trip to Tucson and had an amazing time. I was able to hike (fairly slowly, on level and rolling trails) for distances between 2.5 and 4 miles! Trail surface helps a lot; nice packed sand/fine gravel softness. One day, however, we took a drive into NM and did a cross-country hike of 4 miles. Beautiful desert hard-packed sand, but with lots of up-and-down through arroyos. I did well (but was pretty much done-in by the end; not like the "good ol' days" of 7-9 mile hikes with rigourous climbing). The warm dryness wasn't bad either, LOL. Mike and I often did different hikes in the same park so he could go off and do more strenuous stuff; I absolutely hate to think that I'm holding him back. My early morning desert hikes had me thinking a lot, about all sorts of stuff. Stuff like it's damn good to be alive, and be invigorated by nature. I would just stop and gaze up at the mountains around me, absorb the early-morning quiet of the Saguaro stands punctuated by birdsong, marvel at the jackrabbits the size of small antelope (well, almost). I would also think about stuff like knowing that I will never race again. The destruction to my knee cartilage and the bursa in my hips preclude that kind of stress. I'm okay with that, and I won't enter a race to just walk in a leisurely fashion. Kind of negates the whole concept of a race, you know? But hiking will still figure large in my future, I hope (mentally knocking on wood, here). A few bits of gear from my racing days helped a lot on my hikes. I had a very small Camelbak for marathons which was perfect for these short hikes; it held enough water but didn't put unnecessary strain on my immobile shoulders. Add to that a largish waist pack, worn in front, for everything from snacks to a small camera, and I was outfitted perfectly. My Road ID wristband I wore for races now has one of their new "Medic Alert" badges on it and the profile has my complete medical history. And finally, Altra's Lone Peak trail shoes were like walking on clouds.

Sunrise at Picacho Peak from the Calloway trail
Heading out on a solo at Brown Mountain

Petroglyph at Signal Hill


The Intrepid Smurf (with blue tuque) on a cross-country endeavour (it was cold that day!)

I've been back to Iaido!!! The support of everyone at the dojo has been quite touching. My sensei is a truly wonderful teacher and has adapted everything for me! I now have to use a small aluminum-alloy bladed wakizashi instead of a katana (both for the weight and the length of the sword). I am not supposed to kneel again, ever, so that has to be taken into consideration, too. I can't bend certain ways nor lift the sword well over my head. However, he still insists that I should try my Shodan test in the next 6 months or a year (adapted, of course). We'll see. Right now, I'm so happy to be back on the mats that testing is quite far from my mind. And this brings me to a wonderful realization. The disease has given me a gift - I take things slowly and am incredibly aware of everything around me, and of my body in space (by necessity). There is a concept in Iaido - Shinken Shobu, which literally means a "duel with live swords", and figuratively means treating your practice sessions as though they were duels with sharp swords in which every move and every decision is vital. It's a bit like that, and is a feeling I had on my hikes, too. It's a very new awareness for me...makes you feel very alive.

Astronomy marches on, but there have been few clear nights in November. Last night we did go out. It was cold and I had so many layers on that I felt like the Michelin Man. However, I didn't get cold except for my fingertips, so it was worth all of the clothing (I feel like I'm a walking advertisement for Marks Work Wearhouse's T-Max line!).

So, things are in a good place. Hopefully they'll stay there for a while.


  1. Great! Glad you were able to get some hiking in. I always stop and gaze at the mountains on hikes. It is wonderful. Glad things are in a good place for you!

  2. I'm glad that you're in motion again. That is great news. By the way, I once hiked to the top of Picacho Peak. What a beautiful place. I hope that the Methotrexate continues to work.

  3. flasun here from very long ago (the walking site). I always knew you were amazing, not just your racing, but I always enjoyed your insights & your sense of humor. Not sure why I looked for your blog today, trying to read through & catch up, So glad to hear of your hikes, loved the imagery of the stillness (the slowing down) to appreciate nature & its wonder, hope the meds continue to work.