Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 28, 2009

I have been experiencing some highs and lows recently, full of energy and ready to take on any problem, or depressed and paralyzed with indecision.... Normal for my situation, or some previously dormant neurosis trying to get a foothold? Hard to say, but the future will likely answer that question.

I guess that colonoscopy gods took pity and smiled on me. I shared a room with another guy in for the same procedure, and felt like I had inadvertently wandered into a Seinfield episode. I got a visit from a competent anesthesiologist, and had an informative conversation about the difference between anesthesia and sedation. He got a visit from a nurse who gave him a short course in the lamaze method, describing sever cramp like pain, and deep breathing solutions. During recovery, he was in pain, and I was feeling fine. My nurse scurried in and out bringing coffee and juice, and making sure that I was warm enough, his nurse never showed up. He finally staggered out into the hall in search of help, was helped back into bed and abandoned by unidentified hospital personal, and his nurse still didn't show. He did ask for my doctors name, and was still there when I left. I hope that he survived.

I breezed through the colonoscopy with ease, and am now very proud of my healthy colon that will not have to be invaded again soon. Can ones body and mind get used to a “no holes barred” regimen of violent intrusion,.... if so, it is either a tribute to human adaptability, or blind obedience to a white smock..... Either way, it is path I have taken..... OK, well I do ask many questions.

Last week it hit me, I am, after all, an adventurer and a WIN, and decided to start acting the part. I pretended that I had just arrived in town, and went looking for fun things to do. WOW, it appears that I am near the epicenter of Pa. recreation. 100+ miles of navigable wilderness rivers complete with local paddling club, 100's of miles of hiking and bike trails, huge bolder fields, caverns, museums, etc.... Made me want to vacation here. LOL Anyway, I was overwhelmed with the possibilities, and at one point, felt that it would be hard to make the time to be sick. Realistic? Manic? Making lemonade? Avoiding the larger issues? A key to good health? Mid life crisis? Reasonable explanations all.

Of course the spell was broken by a conversation with a bladder cancer specialists at the Cleveland Clinic. (One of the best doctors and cancer treatment centers in the country.) He was brutally straight forward and honest, not ducking any questions, and was easily understandable. He mostly helped confirm and clarify things that I already knew, and helped narrow the big question. Do I give up more than 10, ten year survival percentage points, (80% Vs <70%, in an effort to join the 20% who successfully save their bladder. His opinion..... If I was a tiny bit worse, no question, out with the bladder and prostrate. If I was a lot better, no question, make a salvage effort. From a cancer perspective, no question,out with my organs, however, quality of life issues muddy the water. Success would be easy to take, early death would be painful and complicated, and life without a bladder could be fairly normal, or very complicated.

I need to decide this by next Tuesday. I appear adept at posing the questions, but clear answers seem above my intellect, and just out of reach. Maybe you have the answer..... feel free to comment.

Friday, May 22, 2009

May 22, 2009

So, I am engaged in several disputes with my health insurance company, and naively entered this arena as an insurance virgin..... I fear that this will soon change. (More on this in future posts.)

Anyway, I am trying to be more organized, and rather than tackle the mountain of insurance paper, I decided to sort my picture folder instead. Guess that I need to do something about this procrastination tendency. In any event, I ran across these pictures that I like, and think add a bit of texture to my southern adventure. Hope that you like them too.

Many sheep pastures included guard dogs, these sheep seem to be very safe

You have to love a diner that has a resident dog on the porch

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May 20, 2009

Ok, preparations for tomorrows colonoscopy are underway. I just took 4 tiny pills, and am now confined to my MH, awaiting the designated time to begin drinking the dreaded liquid..... I have emptied the holding tanks, and cleared a path to the bathroom. What to do with the time, Hmmm, why not write the last travelogue piece for my blog.

The blog now returns to Tyler Bend Arkansas, home of high water, poisonous snakes, vicious insects, handicapped raccoons, suicidal buzzards, and dangerous rangers. In spite of the dangers, we had a great time, the sky cleared, the birds were singing, and the river dropped below the 12 foot flood stage. We were able to squeeze in two great kayak trips, a short 6-8 mile trip down river from the camp, and a 16 mile trip from up river to the camp. The buffalo river is indeed a beautiful place to see, the water was high, and flowing quickly. My experience is somewhat limited, but the high water seemed to result in faster but easier rapids, and no need to paddle. The condensed version is..... we saw many creatures, got a little wet in the bumpy spots, saw gorgeous scenery, and met some other river travelers. Altogether, more than enough reason to be there.

I spent the last few days of this adventure at an RV resort called Treasure Lake in Branson Missouri, as a guest of Alaska Bob. He was hosting an event for the Singles International, who graciously included members of other RV singles groups. Single RV'ers have to be the friendliest people on the planet. Treasure Lake is huge, over 600 RV sites, and has all of the amenities..... club house, lodge, dances, breakfasts, hiking trails, miniature golf, frisbee golf, indoor pool, horseshoes, tennis courts, shuffle board, etc..... OK, well I didn't see a lake, and there was the tornado warning at midnight, but it was very nice, not my kind of place, but very very nice. Branson, has hundreds of things to do, music shows, restaurants, variety shows, museums, dinner shows, theaters, comedy shows, etc.... very nice, but once again, not my kind of place.

In spite of being out of place in Branson, I had a great time for the entire 3 week trip. The people that I knew, and the people that I met were all truly engaged in the business of living, and they just sort of sweep me along..... Sometimes that is just what I need.

Notice the tree stump lodged in the tree near the center of the picture, must have been some very high water... Click on the picture for a better view

Blue heron nests

A herd of turtles

This is where blog pictures come from

These three guys were spending many days on the river

Lunch on the river

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 17, 2009

Well, with the steady help of Miss Garmin, I have successfully negotiated the highway system, and am safely back in Pa. The old bounder gobbled up one thousand miles in a day and a half without complaint. I will make an effort to post the last of the travelogue series soon.

I had a great 3 week break from the business of being sick, and wanted to write a cheerful piece regarding great friends, kayak trips, campfires, and handicapped raccoons on welfare, but my mind stubbornly remains fixed on the battles ahead. Medical procedures, insurance issues, RE market crash, and foreclosure battles, are all ominously looming. Historically, I have been successful fighting these kind of battles, but I believe that I have sacrificed my health in the process.

Do I attack these problems, and chance stress killing me, or avoid these issues, and chance one day find myself still sick and in poverty? An interesting paradox.... How to create and spend emotional capital? In this battle, I seem to be the general and the private, entities with conflicting goals, and nearly impossible to do both jobs well. Once again, I find that my life choices have left me in a precarious position.

The search for options begins today.

Friday, May 8, 2009

May 8, 2009

Hi Yall, Once again, not much to report on medical issues... Stress reduction is on schedule, and, after careful testing, most of my body parts are trending toward normal. A tribute to the basic design of the body, and to the embedded directives of the mind. I still tire easily, 4 or 5 hours of activity, and I am OK, more than that, exhausted..... I expect this to keep improving right up until my next series of treatments. LOL I am looking forward to getting the BCG treatments finished, and having 3 months of doctor free bliss.

Had a great kayak trip on Monday, and moved up the river about 40 miles on Tues. I am camped here at the Tyler Bend campground on the Buffalo River with about 20 friends, and having a great time. This river is said to be one of the best in the country for kayaks and canoes..... OK, maybe the best for our kind of kayaking...... interesting but safe.... it's a very fine line. The definition of perfect may be, that others end up swimming, but that you don't.

Every morning at 9:00, we meet for “hugs and mugs”, and every afternoon we meet at 4:00 for “circle”..... I guess that some would call it happy hour, but we don't. In any event, these meeting are for social interaction, information sharing, and activity planning. Wednesday afternoon we were visited by a heavily armed lady park ranger (her side arm looked to be a 9mm, with 4 extra ammo clips) she seemed ready and willing to handle any trouble that might arise.

The ranger welcomed us, and then advised us of the following.... torrential rains, flash flood warnings, river closed due to flood water, (no help if you got into trouble), cotton mouth water moccasins fleeing the flood waters, diseased ticks, vicious stinging insects, and record poison ivy. She wished us well, and advised us to expect a visit from another ranger. Sure enough, another ranger arrived to explain that behind schedule construction may impact reservations at the next stop on the circuit. The Win's, veteran travelers all, took this in stride, card games, local restaurants, car trips, paperwork, and blog writing.... To be fair, in spite of the bad news delivered, and prominent weaponry, the rangers were pleasant and easy going.

I am attempting to repair some of the leaks in my roof, (never had rain like this out west) and tracking down the replacement DVR box that Direct TV sent to “General Delivery” by way of Fedex. The Fedex folks are somewhat confused by a person with no address, after all, they are all about addresses.

Max Bob (in keeping with the spirit of the south, Kurt Bob has added “Bob” to everyone's name) took us on a long road trip yesterday to the “Lost Valley”. (Perfect weather, river still at flood stage) We passed hundreds of rental canoes and kayaks poised for action, I suspect that the river would resemble a Walmart parking lot should conditions moderate.... Beautiful country, great lunch at a cliff hanger cafe, and a hike to a cave and waterfalls. I didn't go, preferring to take a nap in the parking lot, (it is hell getting old and being sick), but they came back dirty and happy. Surprising how many fun things, are also messy..... Like being a kid again..... BTW, the Win trips are sometimes described as a never ending “summer camp” for big kids.

Several of us may leave early and go to Branson Mo. for a country music fix. It is on my way to Pa, several singles MH groups are there, and I have never been there. More than enough reasons to go....

Win's are organized.

Win's find neat stuff.

Win's have nice kayaks.

Win's are happy and like to eat.

River at 13.8' flood stage. Bottom sign was under water at 18' flood stage.

1850 Homestead.

Max Bob and Judy Bob practicing for old age.

Win's are friendly.....

Monday, May 4, 2009

May 4, 2009

Not much to report on the medical front..... It turns out that my will is strong, but my body, not so much. It seems that my desire to “get back to normal”, and do all of the things that I used to enjoy doing, is a bit premature. I tire easily, and do not recover quickly. I am thinking that this is a result of my recent medical battering..... at least I hope so, god forbid that I am just getting old.

And now..... for the travelogue!!!!!

I am in Arkansas with about 25 other Win's, camped on the banks of the White river. I have been working religiously on my “stress reduction” and rehabilitation. (see attached photos) It has rained nearly every day, which has limited the kayak activities, but not slowed down the other stuff.... BBQ/potluck, campfire, caverns, country music, decorating Kurt, mountain music, dancing, laundry, Walmart, post office, etc...... I know most of these folks from winters in the west. It kind of has the feeling of a reunion, which feels familiar after the culture shock of Pa, and the subject matter of my humor has once again expanded. Apparently, people that spend all of their time traveling the back roads of the country are not easily offended.

I will try to post some pictures, and some links to other Win member blogs. The other blogs may help explain to my family and friends why I just drove 1000 miles to be here.

I am off into an even more remote part of Arkansas, and don't know if I will have cell service or internet. Don't worry, I am among friends.....

Blanchard Caverns

Free music



Work in progress

Decorated Kurt