Friday, October 25, 2013

My Final Post

Farewell my devoted readers...all 3 of you...

I write this, my final catrike blog post, from my bed in the Hospice at Maycourt here in Ottawa. Sadly, or not, despite all the cancer treatments I received, my condition is terminal and I have anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months left to live.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer in 2012, something I had suspected I had since the previous November, I had a feeling it would kill me. Unfortunately, I was right and, as I had mentioned in an earlier post, I wrote very little in 2012 when I was first undergoing treatment.

As flattened as I was with the horrible side-effects of both low-dose chemo and radiation, external and internal (don't ask), I did manage to recover from the side effects and quickly enough, too!

At the beginning of 2012, I had set a Catriking goal to do 300 kilometres in one season. As soon as the bone numbing chill of winter softened into spring, I made it a point to head out as often as possible. I managed to rack up 168 kilometres just before the treatments started. So, I was able to meet my goal around Labour Day.

Subsequent, post treatment examinations seemed to show that I had successfully beaten the cancer but one exam in November 2012 resulted in me needing another biopsy.

Long story short, the cancer was still there and, this time, had spread so that it could be treated but not cured. I was dying and that was that.

More chemo, from the end of January to early June, more hospital stays, some even as long as 2 weeks in duration, more radiation, more side effects...bleah...

So, here I am, late October, 2013, in the hospice centre where I am being very very well taken care of by a team of nurses, PSWs and one of the nicest palliative care doctors this side of the solar system!

As for my beloved Catrike, I wanted to make sure it would go to a good place and be ridden by someone who would enjoy it at least as much as I always did. This is where my eldest son's girlfriend comes into the scene. She'd tried my Catrike before and really liked it so it made absolute sense to me if I gave it to her. Graciously and with a few tears in her eyes, she accepted my gift. I am totally sure she will enjoy the trike at least as much as I did. For that, I am grateful to her.

Cancer and the spectre of my approaching death has also given me a lot of time to practice my Buddhism.

Let's not get confused here. I am not happy that I'm dying at 49 years of age but I am at peace with that fact. In the meantime, may those who read this be well. Get out and keep triking. Get in good shape, cut down the amount of pollution this poor planet has had to endure, slow down the craziness of this "modern" life and just love each other.



Thursday, June 13, 2013

Six may not seem like much, buuuuuut....

It's been a long time since I posted anything here.

That's because I had to undergo more chemotherapy. For those of you who have experienced chemotherapy or who have seen a loved one go through it, chemo is a horrible dreadful experience. It often sucks the life out of you and that was my experience. I spent many MANY days just flaked out on the sofa or the bed having only enough energy to watch YouTube videos of George Carlin, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens or segments of Family Guy.

Otherwise, even the mere act of getting up to use the bathroom required enormous energy that I could barely spare.


However, on June 5th, I had my last chemo session (for this round, I'm probably going to be needing more later this year or early next year). I then experienced that psychological relief that could only inspire me to try and move more. It still takes a fair amount of effort on my part to do more than walk a couple of kilometres but at least I can do it and not feel as though I had to lie down for two or three hours to recover.

Today, June 13th, I was not only able to walk a couple of kilometres and not feel that exhausted burning knot in my whole body afterwards but I was able to get on my Catrike and cycle a whole 6 kilometres. Ordinarily, I'd be up to blasting off 20 or 30 kilometre trips but I'm still recovering from chemo and that, dear reader, will take more time.

Today, Adam and I ventured south along Bridlepath. We then eased onto Trapper's, onto Autumnwood via a shortcut and then turned onto Baden. Crossing Albion proved to be an easy venture for the both of us and, within a scant few minutes, we were following the oval pathway that circumvents Deer Park.

Though not as fast as I normally am, the pace I set was both invigorating and totally relaxing. I even saw a weird bird that looked to be red, white and orange (or maybe it was my glasses). Before I knew it, we had completed the oval path and had regained the street. It was a matter of a short jaunt back home. I checked my trip odometer and it said 6.782 kilometres. So, yes, 6 kilometres may not seem like much but it meant everything to me. I felt, and continue to feel, as though I were nearly a human being once again. I only have to see a bit more hair growth on my predominantly bald head for those feelings to strengthen but I'm sure it'll happen. Right now I look more like a cross between Charlie Brown and Uncle Fester.

Adam was very accommodating to my limits, knowing that I am just barely out of chemo. He knows, as I certainly do, that recovery takes awhile but I am improving each and every day! Cancer is a nasty disease process second only to the powerful chemotherapy drugs they dripped into my veins every 3 weeks. It's a poison, under normal circumstances, but applied in cancer treatment it's the difference between getting sicker and not. In some cases, it's the difference between life and death, and I still have some life to live here - hopefully a lot on my Catrike. I think I'm getting back to living.