Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekend in St. George

What a great weekend....finally! I tore hubby Chris away from kite-skiing for one weekend and we got away for some long rides in the sun. On the way down to St. George we were happy with the new 80 miles an hour speed zone. Cool! Go Utah!

And we got a good laugh at this license plate. That is a good one to get by the luck of the draw.

We got down to St. George on Friday just in time to get a nice ride in.

On Saturday while we were waiting for Bob and Ken to make their way down from SLC we took the opportunity to wash our bikes that hadn't been washed since September. It has been too cold up north where we live to do that nonsense.

Once everyone was in St. George we headed out and of course got split from Chris in no less than a minute and a half. He thought we were going one way....or someway or something and we weren't. After regrouping, we got a lap in on the race course, the Zen Trail and then headed over to Bear Claw Poppy which was ridable! It wasn't last time we were down here do to all the mud on the trail but it has since dried.

Chris chilling at the top of Zen

St. George from the Zen Trail

Ken and Bobbay

The day was all without mishap until Bob hit his rim on the way back down. Uh, Bob.....gotta tip for you....if you are going to use Stans Sealant, you should really change it out more than TWICE a year. : )

So, 2.5 hours it was and then we got all ready for our fancy dinner in St. George that night. We tried to go to a dive of a place but local bike shop owners, Quentin and DJ, put the ole ix-nay on that one. They drove down after closing the shop to meet up with us at the 5 star restaurant they suggested. It was great to sit, relax, catch up with everyone and just laugh.

Sunday we all had a 3 hour ride on deck and Quentin was our guide. We did Goulds, Gem out to Hurricane Rim and did some crazy new cow trails that connected them too. In some spots I had no idea where I was as we rolled along getting the tour. The cow trails were actually nice and pretty fun. Them UT cows sure know what they are doing when they make a trail. The cow patties though...that's another story.

But of course before we started the tour on Sunday Bob, who claims I fiddle fart alot was the one that was fiddle farting. Proof in the pudding #1: Please notice Bob dinking around in the car while Quentin, DJ and Chris are ready to roll.

Proof in the pudding #2 that Bob (pumping up his tires now) was more of a fiddle farter today than myself:

How many Team Revolution members does it actually take to pump up a tire anyway?

And Proof in the pudding #3: Uh hugh, yeah. See....I am ready to rumble while I wait.

So Bob finally gets everything ready to go, we start riding and in under 1.5 minutes we have our very first flat. Quentin, the secret BMXer, just had to hammer into the first climb that had rocks all over the bottom of it.

DJ, who just took 4th at Old Pueblo!!! waits patiently for her husband to get the tire changed.

Oh, yeah, though......minor detail. Quentin doesn't have a tube and the only one DJ has is a shrader valve. Say what? Who carries those? What can you say, these bike shop owners of Over the Edge Sports in Hurricane have a lot up their sleeves these days but really, none of that should include a shrader tube here. Silly kids.

One of the crazy cow trails we took, led us to this overlook. Luckily we stopped our bikes in time. That would have been a big jump.

All in all, great weather and great fun.

Dang I sure needed that.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Votes Needed

Our local stage racing queen, Jen Hanks, is at it again. This time she is after a free entry to the Breck Epic. This is a 6 day stage race in Breckenridge, Colorado taking place in July.

We can all help by GOING HERE to vote for Jen Hanks (along with two other of your favorites). And you can read about Jen and her adventures here too if you wish!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Dust Isn't Settling

but is instead stirring in WA. Unfortunately every day since I last blogged has been pure unexpected hell for most of our family. Overnight I became a caregiver for my mom who desperately needed my help. I watched my moms health spiral downward in a matter of days. How things can change from one day to the next!

Simply put, she was a wreck and I could not leave her. I delayed my flight home 3 times because each time I could not fathom leaving. She was falling on the floor (try picking up 97 lbs of DEAD weight), not able to get up, not able to move from the bed, not able to care for herself, not able to make her own food or even get it for that matter. A lot of this is related to her not being able to have her Rheumatoid Arthritis medication for months now since she had that horrible infection that put her in the hospital a few weeks ago. Infection = no rheumatoid medication because the combo can kill you. A nice side affect eh? So she has been in misery with pain and almost paralyzed with inflammation (ALL her joints are like tennis ball sized and bigger at only 97 lbs now). RA is just terrible! It makes her weak, not hungry and tired too and it all came to a head when I was there.

I was needing to make breakfast lunch and dinner for her and serve it to her in her bed (which is where she lives now) and had to take over all the house chores too. It is really hard to see your own mom in this kind of state.

I turned into her own person advocate too in addition to everything else. I became that person constantly on the phone with family and friends, taking her to the doctor appts, making doctor appts, begging for doctor appts, getting the right info from the doctors, asking the right questions for her etc.). It was a little nuts.

And that was only the day part of my job. At night I slept with one ear open and the second I heard her moaning with pain or trying to navigate with her walker to the bathroom I was up in flash. I was there helping her make her way safely to and from the bathroom and making sure she took her middle of the night pills. Sometimes this happened at both 2am and at 4am in one night!! Needless to say I am trashed.

With my spare time (ha!!) I decided on a whim to get mom all set up to move into assisted living (for her) and for dad to move into the attached "memory care" unit they have. This would enable them to be in the same building at least with both of them getting the 24 HOUR care that they both need. This was something that had not been on the radar yet so I started from square one and got them set up with having a nurse assess them both. It was lot to get that arranged on the fly but things came together nicely and extremely quickly. I came in like a tidal wave but I had to, otherwise it wouldn't get done (i.e. mom would say she would have to make a call and I would right then pick up the phone and say where is the number!). Otherwise the call may never happen.

In addition to all the basic stuff that was going on during the day and during the night, it also became apparent to me that I would need to get their entire house house organized and ready to move since no one likely will be living there soon.

So I went through files, closets, drawers, and everything else that needed attention. We threw out a ton, recycled a ton and donated a ton too. I did so much in 9 days. More than I do at my own home all year.

And I have to say that being a caregiver is the hardest job on earth. Especially when it comes unexpectedly!!! When my mom was taking care of my dad I used to tell my mom all the time that she NEEDS to take care of herself more so that she can help dad. But now I get it and I can see just how easy it is to fall into the caregiver trap. It was at the moment that I hadn't showered in 2 days went out in my pajamas to McDonald's to get our dinner that it really hit me. That is when I knew something was really wrong - it was my lowest moment I think.

But when you need to get back home to Utah because you only thought you were going to be gone for a few days and you have stuff to do like getting her house ready for sale and helping mom and then mom is yelling down to you needing something at 9pm at night while you are on the trainer trying desperately to get your training in, it is HARD to take care of yourself. She was completely dependent on me for every need. (And BTW - how was that for a run on sentence?)

I learned a lot about people and myself these last few weeks. A lot of good things. And I can feel so much for anyone that ever has to do what I did, especially for years. In my case, I really didn't get what care giving was about until I did it and now I know all too well what care giving is all about. It is the most selfless act. In fact the bus driver on the way to airport had been in my shoes for a bit and ended up letting me on the bus for free and consoled me while I finally had time to cry. These are not easy times right now. Both of my parents are extremely ill.

So I have come home for a bit here finally to address my own life needs and my own things I left behind. I am not sure how long I will be around and am waiting for mom to give me the green light for moving before I go back to WA. I keep thinking each day she is going to do that but so far not. I wanted her to move this last weekend but it was just too much all at once to have sink in.

But I will say that I think she is happy I am gone now because I had her thinking too much with suddenly considering assisted living and then having her help going through all their stuff too (I had to bring it to the bed to have her tell me what to do with it). What a crazy adventure that was only supposed to be a few days long. I was able to find help for mom in the meantime before she moves into assisted living though so she is covered for a bit. Not a fantastic situation but things are stable for the moment.

Some of the highlights (I had to really dig for these!!) of the trip were finally seeing dad for the first time in his nursing home. But I must say that when we went to the "sing along" they have, I lost the plot. You know what I am talking about....all the seniors gathered in one room singing old songs. You envision it for others but not your own father. And BTW - he didn't sing but at least he doesn't look like Einstein anymore.

Another highlight was my parents celebrating 56 years of marriage while I was there. Well, it wasn't much of a celebration because mom was bed bound and you can't CALL dad on the phone to say "Happy Anniversary" because it would likely just sound like a dog barking to him over the phone.

Another highlight: Trader Joes; Need I say more?

And another: Riding outside!!

And yet another highlight: Seeing the snow fall in WA. It has been since I was a kid that I last saw snow in WA! The start of the falling snow:

And after a few hours:

And the area is just gorgeous with snow!

The beautiful Puget Sound:

And some sweet volcanoes on the flight home (Rainer, Adams, Helens, I can't recall...I was pretty tired):

Oh and on one of my training rides I rode past the the massive run up that we do at the Fort Steilacoom Park Cyclocross race. They filled in the gap with a ton of fairly large stones. If we do that part of the course next year you will either run up the sides (depending on how they mark the course) or can choose to run up what looks like a super steep flight of stairs. Ugh.

Ok, that is the update. Lots going on and that is why I simply did not have time to blog at all. Now its time to continue to catch up with sleep and all the rest......

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tour De Nursing Homes

It has been a wild and crazy last couple days. It started yesterday morning with a quick get together with Liz, my buddy ole pal since pre school.

Then it was off to see dad in the nursing home. I hadn't seen him since September and was extremely eager to do so. I was expecting the absolute worst but hoping for the best as I rounded the corner and saw his face for the first time. He was hanging with his new dementia buds watching TV.....or maybe just staring at it...not sure which. He seemed to recognize me which is more than I can say happened in Sept when I saw him when he was still living at home. So that was good. He also seemed to really understand what I was saying....either that or he is a dang good actor because I got the exact reactions that I would expect from him.

Dad shares a very sparse room with a gentleman named Norman. Norman seemed to have his stuff together still (mentally) and was a pleasure to talk to. But since Norman is in the dementia unit with my dad so he could have been feeding me a bunch of horse manure too....who knows and who cares because he was so cute and very entertaining.

Other than Norman there was a lady who carried a baby doll around. She decided she liked me enough to poke me in between the eyes. Thanks a bunch. Then there was another lady that would swear up and down that something was on the floor and needed to be picked up (there wasn't). That same lady is also guilty of stealing dads walker all the time because she likes the color of it. It is like walker wars in that place.

Did I mention my dads hair was all frizzy and crazy looking? What is up with that? Just because he is in the dementia unit doesn't mean he needs to LOOK like he is. Good lord. That needs to be fixed although dad could probably give a rats ass about how he looks these days. That is quite the change coming from him taking 10 years to get ready for anything before when all hairs had to be perfectly styled.

The nursing home does their best to keep everyone engaged and busy and not sleeping. It has worked too from what I have seen. From that standpoint, having dad in the nursing home has been BETTER than having him at home. Dad at home was only sleeping and eating. That doesn't do too much for the ole noggin to keep it alert and thinking. But now that he is at the nursing home they keep him going and active and like I said, I saw a significant difference in him for the better. I did NOT expect that but will happily accept it!

As for mom, she is tired, beat down, worn out - need I say more. This has been a lot to take in and she has had her own set of issues to deal with these last few months. She did just today get cleared AGAIN of her bacterial infection with a negative result from the doctor which is great. This means that she will be able to start taking her arthritis medicine again here soon which will help with her fatigue and of course, pain. She hasn't been able to get her arthritis infusions for months now due to the infection. That has left her an achy mess but we look to be turning a corner on that one at the moment.

As for today, I spent the whole day with my brother and mom at an assisted living facility closer to home. We were there a good 6 hours but that is partly my moms fault since there is no one she doesn't know it seems. We went there with the intent of checking out the dementia care facilities for dad and checking out assisted living for mom. She needs it and bad but getting her to realize this is another story. Well actually that isn't that true, its is getting her to actually DO IT that needs working on. We understand though that it is easier said than done. She would need to move and have dad moved to the same locotion and all that is a massive endeavor at the moment! But I think the more she slides down the stairs at home on her rear and the more she crawls up the stairs on her hands and knees, she is seeing the light and so are we. My parents need us kids more than ever right now and that is why I need to stay up here a while until the dust settles.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

UT to WA

I flew home to see my parents today. I haven't been home since September when I raced Star Crossed so it was about time I got home with all that has been going on with their health. These last few months every time I was able to try and get home I got sick (shocker with all the stress right?) so I am finally glad to have made it.

With all the different modes of transport I took today it was like a "planes trains and automobiles" kind of day. This bus was pimped out with your own lights, air, comfy seats, etc.. The nicest public bus that I have been on, that is for sure.

It was a beautiful plane ride in as Seattle was pretty clear - I could see everything reminding me of lots of great memories since I grew up here. Seattle was a warm 50 degrees (it is to me!) and I made friends instantly when I broke out my PB and J sandwich.

Oh and can I tell you just how great it was to only have a CARRY ON on the plane? No double bike case, bag, backpack and purse. OMG I was on top of the world with that one!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

St.George - Day 3

Today it was around 60 degrees again and Bob and I got out on the Anasazi Trail. We had never been on it and had heard there were tons of petroglyphs. And it did not disappoint!

A lizard?

Bob looking for more petroglyphs. I kept telling him "a littler further to the right" (there was big cliff there) but he wasn't going for that one.

Crazy figures on the edge.

Crazy views too.


A family of feet plus others.

After we were done being tourists with our cameras, we headed over to the Barrel Roll trail. Oh man that was fun. You should have seen Bob cleaning everything on his rental rig. He was a lot braver than I would have ever been on a new rig, that is for sure. He rocked it.

3 days plus some great weather made for 7 hours of pure bliss on the bike. A good weekend!