All posts by Mike

When your Doctor finds something you weren’t looking for

Me and a subset of my support network (Kevin center, Becky right), having coffee at Sheri’s Java Shack last Friday after my most-recent blood test. Turned out we had reason to smile. Good thing, that!

A few weeks ago I embarked on a new journey, departing from my long-time quest to climb faster by figuring out what has been causing my breathing issues, to dealing with an anomaly in a blood test… a very-high platelet count. Out of maybe 40 different tests run on me, 37 came out beautifully, indications of someone in very good health. 2 or 3 did not, which, I’ll admit, put me into a restless state of mind. The first re-check came back worse, quickly adding a new Doctor to my portfolio, a Hematologist/Oncologist. The fear and trepidation of each incoming blood test, prior to my visit with the Hematologist, was stunning. For the first time I can remember, I felt like I had something I couldn’t fight using my wits, intelligence or strength. A really scary feeling!

New test results continued to arrive on my phone even later that same day, as if someone was deliberately trying to torture me. It made for a very rough weekend. In fact, my phone let me know of a new test result just as my daughter and I were getting ready to ride away from the shop that Friday night. I didn’t check the results until later, but as we started the ride home, we came across a down-on-his-luck guy pushing a shopping cart with his belongings, asking if we knew where a soup kitchen was. We said no (which was truthful) and moved on. 10 seconds later I turned around and headed back to him, checking on my phone to see if I could find one. Nothing open that late. I had $14 in my wallet; I took out $10 and gave it to him. I don’t know why. I just knew it was something I should do. It didn’t make me feel better, but one of my core values seemed to have become more important. All those little situations you don’t give much thought to, where what you do might make the world just a little tiny bit better, or a little tiny bit worse. Always try to choose the better.

The results of that evening’s incoming test were worse than those previous. There was this feeling, a totally irrational feeling, that the “worse” numbers on the retest might be an indication of something bad happening really fast. That feeling had no basis outside of an amateur looking at numbers without having any real context to understand them. But I resolved to handle things better, and besides, I was now on a medication (Hydroxyurea) that has a history of working very well dealing with my specific issue (too many platelets). Give it a chance. And yes, pray.

Some of the fear subsided as I began my meds, and even more so as I continued to ride well, improve even, completing the 100 mile Sequoia Century with my son in fine form. By the time two weeks had passed, I felt OK with things, I was ready for that next test. So I went in Friday morning, knowing I’d be getting those pesky emails later in the day, emails with test results that had the potential to wreck my weekend. I went with Becky and Kevin (seen in the photo) and had a truly good feeling about things, about not just the tests themselves but the future in general.

And at 2:48pm the results came in. Platelets decreased from 3x normal to just 2, with the Doctor hopeful that further improvement will be seen at the current relatively-low dose of Hydroxyurea. Thoughts of things going seriously wrong completely dispelled. Many thanks to my family (kids Becky & Kevin, wife Karen, dog Jack, cats Zack & Zoey), extended family, Chain Reaction employees and customers who have helped keep my spirits up. It’s time to settle in for what’s likely to be a very long journey (in general, scary as “bone marrow” issues are, a diagnosis of essential thrombocythemia does not typically affect lifespan but becomes a long-term managed condition).

Somebody, please explain

Bordering on the ridiculous? Last night we knew there’d be a chance of rain this morning. 40% max it said. Doesn’t that mean it’s 60% likely you won’t get wet? No, we’re getting used to the goofy wording and now realize, anything 30% or more means that 30% (or more) of the rain will actually fall on you. Anything below 30% and you probably won’t see any rain at all. Nobody will. But 30% plus and it’s only a matter of how much, not if.

Does this mean weather forecasting qualifies as “fake news?” But if so, to whose benefit? The normal concept of “fake news” is to distort reality to favor yourself or your group or whatever. Who “wins” when the weather forecast qualifies as distorted reality?

This morning it was the two Kevins plus Karen riding up through the park in a light drizzle. Pretty much dry actually, until nearing Skyline. Karen turned around while the three of us continued, on our “regular” bikes ‘cuz why ride a heavier “rain” bike if the odds are 60/40 in your favor of not getting wet? Well, as already explained above…

Up on Skyline we were passed by a woman who was fully “up to speed” while we were getting our act together having just climbed Kings. Kevin (pilot) decided to pick up the pace and latch onto her wheel, and somehow we didn’t get the feeling she appreciated that. I think it safe to say Trump has made some women a bit suspicious of any guy’s motives these days, and whether it was the idea that this was a group of guys who couldn’t let themselves be passed by a woman, or a group of guys with Trump-like thoughts, she may have believed she had good reason to be annoyed. Shortly after we caught up, she pulled off to put on a rain jacket, possibly a convenient way to get rid of us. Ideally, we should be inviting her on our ride, but that wouldn’t be me, breathing heavily and unable to talk.

Given the conditions on Skyline we skipped West Old LaHonda, heading straight down 84 and then doing a loop through Woodside to tack on a few miles. It was kinda nice, riding something different than we normally do.

Of course, as soon as we got home, the rain stopped.

And equally of course, as soon as we began riding to work, it started up again (as seen in the photo above). I have no issue nominating this as the worst year for weather, ever. It refuses to disappoint in that regard. Every time you think the bad stuff is in the past, it comes around again. –MikeJ