If you haven't heard this song before by Chumbawumba you should listen to it. Seriously, this is how I have felt for the past seven months. I feel like I keep getting knocked down, but then I keep getting up. The next line "You're never gonna keep me down . . . Well that certainly says it all. Whatever happens in the next few days, the next few months or even the next couple of years WILL NOT KEEP ME DOWN!
This week has seen several ups and down for me. Monday started out great. I went to the gym, I was on the elliptical trainer for 20minutes then hit the weights for 45min then the pool for about an hour. It was the first time I swam almost 3000y. Then I hoped in the car with my Dad and we were off to San Francisco for radiation. I then went to physical therapy and got my butt kicked but it really felt great to work hard.
Tuesday my grandma joined us because I had a couple of meetings with doctors and we needed her for the carpool lane. (Yes the carpool lane! S.F. requires you have 3 people.) I also wanted her along for extra ears and to ask questions my Dad and I might not think about. We first met with Dr. Jahan, the chemo doctor. He broke it to us quickly . . . I will need chemotherapy. I knew this would most likely be the case because of the tumor coming back so quickly. I will be hospitalized for 5-6 days but the chemo will only be for 24hrs a day for 4 days. Then I will go home for 2-3 weeks to recover. I will need a port near my collar bone to receive the chemo. I wasn't sad and I didn't feel like crying upon hearing all of this. I just smiled. I knew this has to be done to prevent the cancer from spreading to my lungs or any where else. I asked him for how long and he said 6 months. That floored me! I thought maybe 3 or 4 months but 6 months. That takes me into next year if I am able to start treatments the first week of August.
I asked Dr. Jahan if I would still be able to make the trip to Japan and he said that wouldn't be a good idea. It is too risky jumping on a plane after the first treatment. . . Not to mention I would be in another country if something went wrong. I understood. With chemotherapy the biggest risk is an infection because your white blood cell count can be very low. One percent of people going through chemo die from infection. With my luck I am not going to take that chance. We talked some more and I told him about my ambitions to swim at Tahoe in a relay and he laughed. He said the water is clean so he is not worried but it will depend largely on how I feel. He said he won't be a negative doctor and tell me no he will just be realistic and tell me how it is. He also said traveling to Maui is not off the table but he did explain that Maui does not have a great medical facility if something goes wrong. I would have to be very careful and if I get sick it may mean I have to be airlifted to Oahu for better medical care. Before we left he said that we were going to learn a lot from each other. He has never had a world class athlete go through this kind of chemo. We will find things out together! I left the office feeling strong about doing this. Most chemo doctors won't even let their patients swim in pools and mine said as long as I feel great I can do it. I may have to swim with a plastic baggy in my swim suit in case I throw up but I will be out there whenever I can! I won't let this knock me down!
We then went to radiation where I told all the guys about doing chemo. They felt bad but said they knew I would get through it. I smiled! I knew I could too! After eating lunch our next and final stop was to see the nerve doctor that was in the first surgery. He was surprised to see me doing so well. I asked him a lot of questions and most of the answers I did not want to hear. He told me I would never use my foot again. It was pretty much a done deal. He explained that the entire nerve was dead and a large section was removed. The nerve will not be able to grow back even if at a fast rate because it has nothing to attach to. It will just ball up. My heart sank. I couldn't believe this doctor was telling me there was no hope for my situation. He said I should just keep doing what I am doing and learn to adapt to my situation. He then asked me to bend my knee. I looked at him a little confused. Why was he asking me to bend my knee? Then I said "Like this?" and I bent my knee so that the heal of my foot was touching my leg. He had a strange look on his face, then he said "Wow that is really good. You weren't supposed to be able to bend your knee at all." He went on to explain how the nerves that bent my knee were severely damaged and not supposed to work. I smiled and realized a miracle had already happened. This doctor could say what he wanted I knew he wasn't God. Only God knows and only God can perform miracles!
We drove home that day (stopping at Red Lobster for an early dinner) and I just kept thinking about all the things I heard earlier. It was a lot to take in. I prayed for God's strength. I still have a lot to overcome and it is going to take a lot out of me. I will only get through it with God right beside me!
Wednesday was much better. I didn't get to work out Tuesday and I was pretty ramped up from everything I heard so I hit the gym hard in the morning. I bumped up the elliptical trainer to 30minutes, then did some ab work and then the pool again for an hour. Then it was off to radiation. Afterwards was a session with Rob at Body Concepts. I told him all about the latest news. He said I was a lot farther then he ever thought I would be so anything can happen! I liked hearing that.
Thursday was another tough day. I had another big workout in the morning. I needed to get out all my frustration. My sister met me at the gym then drove me down to S.F. It was nice to have the time to talk with my big sister. She has been training to run a marathon. It seems like everyone in my family is now running . . . They would choose to do this when I can't!! Just kidding! I am happy for her because I can see that she really enjoys it. Now she knows how I felt all those years. Radiation was a breeze. When I hopped off the table I yelled, "One more day . . . One more day!" The guys laughed. They knew I had been counting since day one! I then met with Dr. Gottchalk for one final visit. He wanted to make sure I didn't have any questions about the radiation I will be receiving on the operating table. I didn't because he did such a great job at explaining everything the week before! So off we went to my next appointment with my new nerve doctor!
Dr. Chau, the neuro-spinal surgeon was really nice. He walked in and explained everything to me. I was all alone because my sister was still parking the car. Dr. Chau explained that he will go in and remove the rest of my sciatic nerve, scrape the sacral bone and remove part of the sacral nerve. Most likely there will be more nerve damage. I will have more numbness and there may be more damage to the functional nerves. I did not want to hear this. I was under the impression that there are 3 sciatic nerves towards the top and they branch off as they move down the leg. I was led to believe that only the nerve controlling my foot was cut. This doctor was telling me that was false and that my entire nerve was already gone. I thought to myself if that is true how are my hamstring and glute firing. It is only a little but they are getting stronger. I kind of shut down and just listened to the rest of what the doctor said. He kept telling me how serious this was. I would have two incisions, one from the back where he will be working and one from the front where Dr. Nakakura will be working. At this point I just wanted to leave. Dr. Chau asked me if I had any questions but I just couldn't speak. I smiled shook his hand and then he left. My sister finally showed up as did my friend Marcus who works there. I asked him a few questions about everything I had been hearing and he said it is too early to say anything. He also said every doctor interprets the pathology a little differently. "Just wait and see," he said!
My sister and I got lost on the way out of there. I was so frazzled I just couldn't think. I wanted to cry but I didn't want to break down in front of my sister. I didn't want her to be sad. I know how hard this is on my family so I knew I had to be strong. We finally found our way across the Bay bridge and headed home. I had a physical therapy appointment and I was going to be late. I called my Dad to meet us in Sacramento at a gas station so he could take me the rest of the way. I was about 20minutes late (I called ahead and told them) and thankfully Nick is understanding. I told him the bad news, all of it! He simply said that I was the hardest working person he had ever met which was why I was as far along as I was. He said that if anyone could do it, it would be me. Don't listen to the doctors and just keep working hard. I smiled because I knew he was right. Doctors know what they know but God is the only one that knows everything. My uncle once told me that in order for something to be a miracle everyone has to say it is impossible! Such profound words when you are trying to not let go of hope. So that day I grabbed back onto my hope. I am holding it tightly and no matter what anyone says I am not letting go!
Friday, I was back in the gym. Courtney joined me as usual since he is my driver on Friday's! I kicked his butt on the elliptical trainer (30minutes again.) and then in the pool! We then headed to radiation. My last day! Whoopee! I brought Courtney into the room to show him where it all takes place. Then we handed out his dad's wine (Thank you Michael and Denise) to all the guys that have taken such good care of me. I also gave one to my friend Gail! She is the last one of my little women's group. I wanted her to know I would be thinking of her always! Then I handed the guys a signed poster of me so they would never forget how much I appreciated them. They truly made radiation a breeze!
Courtney and I then went to the wharf for lunch before I had to get a MRI. I had a clam chowder bread bowl and Courtney, not liking anything from the sea, had a corn dog and garlic fries. As I ate my food I looked around at all the different people walking the streets of San Francisco. I took a deep breath and smelled the fresh air. Life really is good!
On our way home we stopped off to have dinner with our good friends Cliff and Janet. They have both been such a tremendous support. Cliff is one of my best friends. He has always been there for me no matter what. Janet is such a special person. She can make anything from paintings, to pottery to glass work. Every time I go into the hospital or get out she has something for me. Artwork is so therapeutic. I love everything she has made for me. I put it up where I can see it so that it reminds me to smile, to appreciate what life has to offer. I love the both of them to death! I told them about the latest news and they simply said, "You are going to be alright!"
Saturday I was back in the gym. I only have two days to get as much in as possible. Courtney and I met our friend Jon Bik at the pool! After talking for a bit and filling him in we hopped in the pool. After a good warm up I decided to have us all do 10x100's with 20seconds rest. Courtney was kicking our butt but that is because he can kick with both legs. After that we did an easy 100 then 8x25 sprints. I took the pull buoy off for this. We made Courtney give us a little head start. By the end off each one we were all touching the wall pretty much at the same time. I then did a 400 pull and then a cool down before we hit the dry sauna. That was the first time Jon swam that hard in the pool. I talked to him about possibly coaching him so he could teach me about working with challenged athletes. He then offered his services to help coach if I am able to get a triathlon camp going. It will be a camp for anyone but I will sponsor challenged athletes so they can come for free!
After we had enough of the heat, Courtney and I headed into the gym for more working out. I was on the elliptical trainer again for 30minutes while Courtney ran on the treadmill. Then we hit the weights for an hour. I knew this would be my last chance to get a lot of training in for awhile! It felt great. I felt great! Then we went to lunch, ran some errands and went home. We played several board games with my Dad then watched a couple movies before going to bed!
This brings me to this morning, Sunday! My last day to work out. My last day for a long while of feeling pretty good! I will work out in the gym and then we will head to S.F. for the night. My surgery is at 7:30am so I have to be at the hospital to check in at 6am! I have a lot to pray for before the morning and I ask all of you to please pray for me!
1. The nerve doctor does not take more then he needs too! That he has steady hands.
2. There is no further nerve damage (Functional or superficial)
3. I can still go to the bathroom on my own with no bags
4. I wake up
5. I can still walk , possibly better then I am now
6. I recover quickly (they say it will take longer because of the radiation damage.)
7. I can be at least as good as I am now
8. I am out of the hospital quickly
9. Anything else you can think of and please be specific
10. Extreme Makeover Home Edition picks me so I can live comfortably in my own home!!!
I don't know if any of you watched the UFC fight between Forest Griffin and Rampage Jackson last weekend but it was awesome. Rampage is the hardest hitting guy in the UFC and Forest is the toughest guy in the UFC. In the first round Rampage rocked Griffin's world. Everyone thought he was going down but he didn't. In the 4th and 5th round Rampage kept hitting him hard and you would see Griffin start to go down but then jump back into it and start throwing punches. Rampage just could not knock him out. The point of telling you about this is so you can think of me like Forest. The cancer, my disability, the doctors, they are all Rampage Jackson. They are hitting me hard. Really hard. They are pretty much rocking my world. I am Forest Griffin and I am not going down. I may start to but then I shake it off and start throwing some punches of my own!
With God at my side and my tenacity, I may not be in Japan this year for the Xterra race, but I will surely be in Tahoe and Lord willing in Maui. I will be bald but I will be there will bells on. And hopefully I will be in the swim proving that as bad as it gets, I will be stronger!
Remember to pray for me and my family and friends on Monday and the days that follow. I have a long road ahead but I see the light at the end. I can see the downhill to this incredible uphill battle I have been enduring!
Powered By God,
PS I just want to thank those of you that have nominated us for Extreme Makeover Home Edition. There is one more day to nominate. You do not have to fill out the long nomination form. You simply scroll down to the bottom of Courtney's message and there is a second website that allows you to send in a short email nomination. You will need to know that Courtney is 33 and I am 32. If you need our address email me and I will email it back to you. The reason's why we need a makeover are pretty simple: Need to make the entire house disability friendly. We need central air and heating. We have dry rot all over the outside of the house. We need a new roof. We have frogs, reptiles, mice and ants sharing my little workout room. We have an ant problem we cannot seem to get rid of in the kitchen every summer. I cannot walk around the property because it is unsafe with no landscaping. That is the short version of our problems! And thanks again to all of those that have already helped!