Sunday, August 30, 2009

Done with the Fight

If you are in a good mood, then don’t read this.

After being home now for just over 24 hours I can tell you that I am clearly embarking on what is going to be the hardest journey of my life so far.

As some may know my mom fell last weekend while visiting my dad in his nursing home. The door in the unit he is in has a 15 second timer and that was too short for my 79 year old mom to get through the door in time with her walker.

This put her in the hospital on Tuesday of this week. Things looked to be going well with no broken bones, a clean MRI and all other signs pointing towards her getting released by Friday. Seemed to be just another day at the hospital.

That was until we got her blood test results back. They came back with low red blood cells, low platelets and more importantly a fatally low white blood cell count. So low that her choice was to either die or get a transfusion right away. My mom refused the transfusion for a few days until the doctor, myself and my brother who lives here in WA talked her into it.

In addition to a transfusion on Friday they also decided to do a bone marrow biopsy to see why her marrow is not producing the white blood cells the way it ought to be. This requires a needle being injected all the way into the bone marrow in order to get a sample and to give you an idea of how much pain mom is already in (from what we think is caused by her Rheumatoid Arthritis) she said that the biopsy didn’t hurt a bit.

There could be many reasons her white blood cells are low, to include her Rheumatoid Arthritis to prescription pills she is taking to Leukemia. We are waiting for the results.

I am pretty sure though that the results don’t matter to her anymore. Mom has taken her own destiny into her own hands. She is ready to let go. The excruciating pain, the way of life and probably the fact that dad is in hospice are all wearing on her.

When I saw her yesterday afternoon for the first time in 6 months she looked like a skeleton at no more than 70 lbs. Her upper arm is as small as my wrist which took me aback on first glance. She is not eating due to many reasons right now. One, food seems to make her ill, two, she says it all tastes metallic, and three, it requires moving which because she is in so much pain she doesn’t want to do for a bunch of food that doesn’t taste good and will make her nauseous.

Makes sense to me and I am now ready to stop the nagging her to try and get her to eat. Why? Because I have done it for almost a year now from near and far and have gotten nowhere with it. Ok, maybe she actually took 3 tiny bites of a piece of toast instead of 2 because of me nagging but I am fighting her on it every step of the way. That vibe is good for neither her nor me.

But before I came up here to WA I came to terms with the fact that this (not eating) is her way of letting go of her life whether subconscious or conscious. As hard as that is for me, I am ready to be at peace with her decision and to accept it and to enjoy my final times with her vs. yipping the heck out of her all day. We can enjoy thoughts and memories together and maybe I can even get to know her a little better too while I am at it. That is way better than nagging her and trying to force an issue that she clearly does not want forced any more.

Yesterday in the hospital I asked her if she understood that by not eating she will not be here by Christmas time. My hunches were confirmed when she said yes and then went on to say that she is ready to start the journey of her next life.

Do you have any idea how hard that was to hear?! It was probably my saddest single moment in my lifetime. I asked her how I am supposed to do this and mom told me to just think of her happy that she is with her mom again in the heavens above. She is clearly ready to go and it makes me sick. I am so scared. More scared than I have ever been in my whole life.

As hard as that is, I am happy that she is clear headed enough to make these big decisions. She has a fully functioning brain and is very with it despite her rapidly deteriorating body. We know that she is speaking up about something she knows she wants.

She wants this and OMG it is so hard to accept but I will support her decision and enjoy what little time I have left with her at her hospital bedside. Could be days, could be months.

Got to admit though, knowing she will leave this world soon is unbelievable in the worst way of the word. I kind of wasn’t expecting it to go down like this in the end for her. Granted something great and crazy could happen to change things around but if it doesn’t, she will be gone extremely soon which is what she wants and is choosing.

I am going to respect the decision but it cuts like a knife if more ways than I have ever experienced. My emotions are out of control in every way.

Funny thing is mom has ALWAYS only thought of others her entire life and I am very proud of her for finally thinking of herself first. It is sad that she is choosing this for herself but she is done with the fight that it has been for almost a year now. She is weak, she is tired and she is ready to not be in any more pain.

I am SO frightened and scared out of my mind. I cannot imagine how much water loss out my eyes I have had yesterday, all night and already today. This is so hard.

I am now looking at loosing 2 parents at the same time!

I would love to hear from any of you out there - Please send your thoughts, comments, prayers galore, suggestions, ideas and experiences – I really do need to hear from you right now. I am so wrapped up in my emotions of all this that I feel so vulnerable.

The fear is overwhelming and the denial is even bigger.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tour of Utah Stage 5-Park City to Snowbird

Chris and I decided to watch the riders descend down 32 from Kamas and cross US 40 as they ripped toward the feed zone that was by the Dutch Hollow Trail system in Heber.

Here are the leaders.

Last year they were all in a massive group and the speed at which they went through the intersection was beyond nuts. That also allowed for the cars that were being forced to stop and wait to go through the light to not have to wait that long.

Not this year though. There was a 3 minute gap to the leaders. This is the chase.

And some cars started honking because they were having to wait this whole time on US 40. Clearly they did not understand that there were about 100 more riders that still had to cross the intersection and that the race wasn't over just because 2 tiny groups already went through. Aye-yie yie.

The peloton rolls through.

More people were certainly out this year to watch the race in Heber which was cool to see it catching on. Met Tom Zirbel's aunt who was out from WY to watch him win yesterdays stage. Talked to some other people too who had no idea what a feed zone was which I always laugh at because that is everyday terminology for us silly cyclists. But.......NO...they don't all sit down and have brunch in the feed zone for an hour. I love it!!! Too funny.

After everyone whizzed by, Chris and I made a bee line in our car to make it over to the other tippy end of the valley to watch the riders make their way down Provo Canyon. And they were flying so fast that we barely barely barely made it in time, even knowing all the back roads short cuts!! Amazing.

And following those guys was the caravan......
For some reason I just love the caravan and took shot

after shot

after shot

of silly team cars going by.

I think I must be a sucker for all the bright colors. Go figure.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pro XCT Short Track - Windham, NY

(Zephanie, Heather, some chick)

And yet another day where my head was faster than my legs. What do I mean? I know where I should be in the pack and have total confidence when I am there BUT with my emotional beat downs all seasons long, my fitness just isn't quite there to make that happen. What a weird problem to have eh? Usually it is the other way around where you have the ability to be up front but freak out when you are up there. Man, this year has been a bear for me!!

I actually had a really super great start and lasted a few laps at the leaders pace but after that it was off the back for me. It was as though I hit a wall. And when I hit that wall, I couldn't help but notice the thick humid air that was pounding down on my back while trying to survive the rest of the 20 minute race. It really took everything I had to will the thoughts away of how dang hot and humid it was at that time!

Heather had a solid weekend.

The start of the last race of my mtb season.

Cmag (team mechanic/manager) making sure all is well with me before the start. Cmag is so great!

Zephanie had a great day today!

After the race we did a little of this.

Zeph's bike box is pretty much ready to be recycled as it is barely held together with tape.

And Heather and Colin did a little of that.
You are never too old for floaty toys!

Then to celebrate we went to the local Salami Shop as we were calling it and got cheese, prosciutto, some flat bread, wine and fresh local veggies.

Chris opted for a fresh jar of honey.

And with that the mountain bike season is DONE. Onto racing cyclocross next..........after some much much needed rest and emotional recovery time for me that is.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Race Tomorrow

Today was nice out, down right hot actually. The course is drying up but is getting chopped up too. Some rocks that were laying down flat before are now pointing upwards making the wooded sections pretty interesting!

The biggest obstacle tomorrow will be going at a good clip from a bright sunlit non technical open ski run to getting things under control as you enter the technical, rocky, rooty and wetter woods all while being anaerobic. Ah yes....good ole mtn bike racing!

I am up for the challenge!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Windham, NY

Woke up this morning to drizzle. Notta shocker. But the real shocker was it all clearing out by noon making for a really super nice day to explore.

Thought I was lost about 30 times though since googlemaps didn't quite have all the roads in it.

This ride was crazy because you started in the dense trees and then suddenly plummeted down down down down to all the open farmland.

It was beautiful and pleasant ride. Something I need more of!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Windham, NY Pre-Ride

I would have to say that things are pretty dry around here by east coast standards (not Utah standards at all!!). It is kind of funny because most the course is "dry" and then you hit the one mud bog that is totally unavoidable and you are suddenly covered with mud and hay. I came back from pre-riding and my team asked how it was and I said dry and they just looked at me weird because I was covered in mud but reallyit is dry!!

I am going to have to remember this swinging chairlift during the race as it sits right off the course. A girl could use a little rest in the middle of the race!!

The course certainly doesn't climb as high as it did last year but it does have just as many fun sections with man made bridges and rock gardens and really darn good singletrack. This is a place you would want to ride for fun indeed.

So the big thing for me today was seeking out the place I broke my hand and I think I found it. This is the section I am pretty sure. It looks like straight singletrack there but the entrance to it is steep and rough and makes a turn right before it straightens. I washed out there and stuck my hand out to catch myself in the gap on the left.

These rocks are the reason my hand exploded. I told everyone that I heard a snap and I was pretty sure there were no sticks around!!! I was right!

So instead of being intimidated by this section, I decided to show it who is boss by marking my territory. That is right. I am in charge here! : )

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hanging at the House

This place is great with pool, hot tub, horse shoes, games, swings, tons of videos and all kinds of random stuff we can do after our rides.

Here is Colin chatting on the phone on the swing. Cmag will have one of those doll houses in the background when he arrives from Baltimore on Thursday.

That will be his own little pad next to our pad!

Monday, August 10, 2009

VT to NY

After doing a muddy team ride on some of the local kick a** singletrack trails in Vermont we loaded up the van chalk full of all of the teams junk and drove on over to Windham, NY. Bout a 3.5 hour drive maybe.

The drive was nice (no rain!!) and we even got Heather Holmes to a Gluten Free Bakery in Albany, NY. Ever see a kid in a candy store?

Hanging in Windham until next Monday.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pro XC Tour #5 - Mount Snow, VT STXC

Wow short track sure does hurt when you haven't been doing high end training. How fast you lose it!! I was lucky to have finished 12th today I think. But once again I felt good today despite lack of fitness, had a good start and suffered like a dog throughout the race. The climb was longer than normal (see a trend here?), the day was a little more humid but things were dry for the most part. It was a solid day but I am capable of way more and look forward to being able to produce the results again as my fitness comes along from the time off I took a few weeks ago.

There to watch the sufferfest and to cheer for me was Laura Wesson. She used to work at Deer Valley in the kitchen forever and ever. She lives in Vermont now and came down to watch the carnage and catch up.

She is one of the sweetest people I know and she and I have a lot of very similar things going on in our lives with sick parents. We had A LOT to talk about.

That evening the team had a nice dinner at home made by Andy and Sam Schultz, cooks extraordinaire.

Off to Windham, NY tomorrow.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pro XC Tour #5 XC - Mount Snow, VT

I guess I don't need to say anymore than this about the race today:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mount Snow, VT Pre - Ride

Ever raced Mount Snow before? I have raced this place in shin deep runny mud, peanut butter mud that clogs the bike and have also had the luxury of racing it “dry” too. Not ever dry compared to Utah standards though!

The course has been the same for years and years but this year it is tad different. Still the same start loop but after you cross the feed zone, you turn right and head up a hill that is probably 15% at least. That replaced the thick wooded singletrack that was barely ridable when it was dry. From there, at a lower point than in years past we head up the same dirt road where people are always playing drums. At that point it is the same except for the fact that they definitely cut off the top part of the climb this year.

From the new top you descend the extremely rooty and rocky singletrack. As I was descending the trail for the first time I realized that it had been 2 years since I have ridden stuff like this since last year I was broken for this race and did not race. I was definitely rusty out there today!

When I turned around to redo a section I was simply astounded at what I and everyone had just come down. It looked crazy to me and I had to take a double take. I think next time I feel like I suck on a section I ought to give myself a pat on the back instead. That is nuts looking although it was completely harmless.

If someone said you will ride down this one day I would have never agreed, but it is completely doable.....if you pick the right line that is.

Some of the sections on the course our team likened to a game of Plinko where you just go in with speed and hope for the best as your front tire bounces off the rocks that are spaced randomly enough so that there is no possible line. There is no real line through this section so this is a good method of hoping that speed and some balance will get you through. We deemed this as the “Plinko section.”

4 laps tomorrow for the women should take around 2 hours.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

UT to VT

Teammates Zephanie, Heather and I all had a pretty seamless day on the same flights heading East for Mount Snow, VT. Turned out to be a long day but it was expected.

I somehow in all my glory riled up the Southwest check in agent in SLC. I wanted my OWN sleeve to put my baggage claim tix in instead of the agent putting them all in one and giving them to one of us to keep. The lady was not happy with my request for my own sleeve and did not give me one stating that she was trying to save trees. I told her that I was traveling alone and wanted my own sleeve. So much for that. I backed off at a certain point realizing that getting my bags to my final destination was more important than getting that darn sleeve. Her solution was to hastily rip out the little 2 by 2 baggage claim tix that were mine and hand them to me. Ok, now they will certainly get lost which was what I was trying to avoid in the first place!!!!

Turns out Heathers bag was overweight and she had to sit there and transfer her junk from one bag to the other to get it all straightened out. Glad we were there early!

Great on time flights all day with little fuss and we found ourselves in a pretty non humid Albany, NY.

At least we got to the local store in Vermont in time for a 7 minute super mad shopping spree before it closed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Surgery #2

Yesterday Chris had his surgery to take out the 3 inch screw that was holding his tib/fib together since he broke it in April. The hope is that he will get more flexibility by doing so. They are leaving in the plates and other screws at his ankle though unless they start to bother him at some point. They let him keep the screw which can be found on our kitchen table. Yuck!

The 12 minute surgery took 7 hours because the doctor was late and things just took longer than they should overall. Because of that it was a massive day for both of us. One in which I had to start out by setting up a transition zone from my Pilates class to taking Chris to surgery. I had no more than five minutes in between the 2 and had to boogie. Once I dropped him off I went and did all the errands that I had put off doing for months and months. But I got them done with tons of time to spare since el doctoro was late – oh.

Oh and while finding things to do with my spare time, a guy in a Hooters t-shirt made me cry. Isn’t that special?

I was driving Chris‘s car which I am not used to driving and I parked in a parking space where I had apparently put my front bumper 6-8 inches over the white line. This was a problem as it turned out. As I sat in my car enjoying an apple looking at the trunk of the car ahead of me (it was backed into the space) I watch the couple who owned the car load groceries into the trunk. After they were done, the guy came over to my open window with his hooters tee on and said, “I would have thought you were blond”. I did not understand him at first and said “excuse me???” and he proceeded to walk back to his car. Once I deciphered his language a light bulb went on and I got out of the car and looked at my front bumper - I had indeed misjudged the space and gone over it by a little and you know what??....if he had asked me to move the car back I certainly would have without hesitation - no doubt. All he had to do was ask but he didn’t of course.

After the guy was long gone, I started crying and the lady who witnessed this train wreck said to just forget about it because the guy was acting jerky. But I really started crying because of the stress I was under with hubby under the knife at that exact moment along with parents still so sick and now this scenario being just crappy!! It just put me over the edge because I hate to disappoint anyone, yes, even a mean ole stranger!! But he probably has just as many crappy things going on in his life as I do mine and I forgive him because I know what it is like to have constant bad news.

I didn’t get home until late and I finally got on the bike at 7:30pm if you can believe that. Probably turned out better since it was cooler then anyway! Training was a semi hammer fest which in turn would keep me up until midnight since my body was jacked up afterwards. sleep at midnight and then wide awake at 3:30am. Couldn't get back to sleep and finally got out of bed at 4:30am!!!!!!!!! I rumbled the entire day today packing for our teams 12 day east coast trip to wrap up the national mtb series.

Not sure I would have accomplished everything I needed to if I hadn’t gotten up at 4:30am!!! Thank heavens for full moons!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Well, my week off the bike was golden. I got stuff done, hung out, caught up on all my reality TV (ha!!), read, reduced my emails to a manageable amount, cleaned the house, went to parties, went out to dinner some and even signed up finally for facebook (I know – welcome to the times finally Kathy on that one). I also got to hang out with our friends from Santa Barbara a ton (Kristin and Eric) doing dinner, tubing the Provo and going to Deer Creek Reservoir……..with surfboards. Yeah, a bit out of place on that one but they wanted to play in the water!

The week flew by and by the time I knew it; it was time to rev up my batteries after trying to recharge. Some of those first few rides I did felt awful; I felt like I had lost any and all fitness I had in just that one week off. Funny how your mind plays nutty tricks on you like that because I certainly didn’t lose ALL of it.

Up to the top of Wolf Creek Pass with hubby on one of my first rides back:

I was even having so much fun on my bike that I decided to ride home from where we parked near Kamas. That is a good sign the week off worked!

But the truth is that I feel better now on the bike than I did before I took the week off. I am a lesser version of myself as a racer at the moment if I had to guess but the important thing is that every time I come back from a ride and analyze it I am not saying that I felt like junk. That is what I was saying for about a month prior to taking the week off. So we shall see. Could be really interesting at these next few national races coming up in VT and NY.