So many days…

26 06 2008

If I were a movie I would be rated \I’m sporting a black patch! I believe this is the longest I have gone without some form of exercise in a long time, and I am beginning to get the hang of it. For one thing you have a lot more time on your hands if you choose to live a more sedentary lifestyle, not that I have done anything productive with the time, I am just making an observation here.

I’ve been reading a lot, and am enthralled with the House of Leaves. I have never read anything like this before, so its kind of cool, but I’m only 60 or so pages in right now, so not too much room for error.

Here is how the book describes itself:

With a little luck, you’ll dismiss this labor, react as Zampano had hoped, call it needlessly complicated, pointlessly obtuse, prolix – your word -, ridiculously conceived, and you’ll believe all you’ve said, and then you’ll put it aside – though even here, just that one word, “aside”, makes me shudder, for what is ever really just put aside? – and you’ll carry on, eat, drink, be merry and most of all you’ll sleep well.

Then again there’s a good chance you won’t.

This much I’m certain of: it doesn’t happen immediately. You’ll finish and that will be that, until a moment will come, maybe in a month, maybe a year, maybe even several years. You’ll be sick of feeling troubled or deeply in love or quietly uncertain or even content for the first time in your life. It won’t matter. Out of the blue, beyond any cause you can trace, you’ll suddenly realize things are not how you perceived them to be at all. For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were. You’ll detect slow and subtle shifts going on all around you, more importantly shifts in you. Worse, you’ll realize it’s always been shifting, like a shimmer of sorts, a vast shimmer, only dark like a room. But you won’t understand why or how. You’ll have forgotten what granted you this awareness in the first place.

Old shelters – television, magazines, movies – won’t protect you anymore. You might try scribbling in a journal, on a napkin, maybe even in the margins of this book. That’s when you’ll discover you no longer trust the very walls you always took for granted. Even the hallways you’ve walked a hundred times will feel longer, much longer, and the shadows, any shadow at all, will suddenly seem deeper, much, much, deeper.

You might try then, as I did, to find a sky so full of stars it will blind you again. Only no sky can blind you now. Even with all that iridescent magic up there, your eye will no longer linger on the light, it will no longer trace constellations. You’ll care only about the darkness and you;ll watch it for hours, for days, maybe even for years, trying in vain to believe you’re some kind of indispensable, universe-appointed sentinel, as if just by looking you could actually keep it all at bay. It will get so bad you’ll be afraid to look away, you’ll be afraid to sleep.

Then no matter where you are, in a crowded restaurant or on some desolate street or even in the comforts of your own home, you’ll watch yourself dismantle every assurance you’ve ever lived by. You’ll stand aside as a great complexity intrudes, tearing apart, piece by piece, all of your carefully conceived denials, whether deliberate or unconscious. And then for better or worse you’ll turn, unable to resist, though try to resist you still will, fighting with everything you’ve got not to face the thing you most dread, what is now, what will be, what has always come before, the creature you truly are, the creature we all are, buried in the nameless black of a name.

And then the nightmares will begin.

Yeah, you think… I’ll let you know when I start having my nightmares.

My eye is still dilated and causing me some concern that I looked like I smoked a joint about an hour ago. I called the Dr, and she or one of her fledglings is to call me back and let me know if it is normal or not. Granted I have eaten several Vegan cookies recently, but I have not resorted to sitting around a drum circle… yet!

One thing that has been reiterated to me during this experience, like it is with most tragic events in my life, is that I am loved. Wish I could provide a profound thought provoking statement here, but it is really nothing beyond that, I feel loved. I feel lucky, I live a very charmed life and then some. I am positive this has to do with the people who surround me, but even outside that there are those who reach in occasionally and give boosts, like small gifts from the blue. The other day after my check-up on my eye, Corinne, Chelsea & myself went to see a horrible movie, get smart, ( to give you and idea, I have not fallen asleep in a move theater since I think I was 5, but this was like watching golf and eating xanax) and after walking out of the theater a little girl about 4 or 5 passed holding her mom’s hand, and began tugging on her mom’s arm, pointing, screaming “Mom! Pirates!” The mother kept walking, snatching her daughter by the arm and leaning down to tell her something, at what I can only guess. This was the hardest I‘ve laughed in a while , well at least since I had my surgery.

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Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye

23 06 2008

Vitrectomy Surgery-

Do not, I repeat, do not make this promise unless you really, really, really, really mean it. I think the particular promise I broke was to Chris Michaels regarding a wooden block or something in kindergarten.

So, Chris I would like to apologize… and for the record it was not worth it. Crime does not pay.

Surgery went well, I am cyclops. Will report more later when the drugs where off.One eye reeve

Drugs are not so bad, at least not yesterday. I was grateful to have whatever they gave me at the hospital. My father and his girlfriend, Cindy came into town for the surgery and took Rinne and I out to eat the night before, at Aspen’s (very good food I might add, but they do not stock lemonade there). We came up and everyone went to bed except me, as I was feeling a little nervous, and also wanted to write a little about my solstice run. I finally got to sleep around 2:30 or so and woke up around 7, took the dogs on a walk in the backyard trails.

I could not remember if they said not to drink water or not, so I took a few sips of water before leaving the house to head to Emory. We checked in, were given the buzzer to let us know when it was time for me to go back to get prepped. I got called back after a relatively short period of time, but not before finding a book in the waiting room The Loneliness of the Long Distance runner. WOW, something is going on here, I suppose I am in the right place.

After I was called back and asked the same question several different times, “which eye, have you had anything to eat or drink, is someone with you, etc.” They were not happy with my answer of “yes” to the water question, but prepping to pay the penance for earlier transgressions, I decided to be honest and tell them, “well yeah, I drank some water.” I was dehydrated…

The nurse trying to give me my IV, missed the first time, or as she said, “the vessel keeps blowing up.” I count it as a swing and a miss. She said she would wait a little while before she tried again and put a few more drops of something in my eye, and then gave me a temporary tatoo of the word “yes” over my left eye.

She got the IV in me the second time and I “drank” 1 bag fairly quickly. They asked if I needed to use the restroom, which of course at the time I did not. Not sure if I was so nervous that I did not need it or if I was too dehydrated. Her medical opinion was that I was severely dehydrated from Saturday’s activity. I.V. ‘s are good for rehydration, I think I might try and get one for the home.

Surgery was scheduled for 11:30, but we did not get started until 12:30. They took me back to the operating room and past that I do not remember a damn thing. At some point during me being in altered state of consciousness, they did this. and this

and cleared out a plethora of scar tissue, removed the vitreous gel, and mind you, they used freakin’ lasers. That’s how tough I am!

Came back to consciousness and was greeted by my beautiful wife, and one question came to mind “how did I get here?”

“Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.”

I have not been in altered state of consciousness in quite some time (other than running), and have discovered I am not very good at it. So with a little help from Corinne I found my way to my bed and put myself down for several hours. Good riddance.

Had a check up this morning and the surgery went as good as it could. Will not know about how my vision is for a few weeks. I will have an air bubble in my eye for the next several days, and currently everything is blurry. Perhaps the only people who ever see bigfoot happen to have the same eye challenges that I do.

Sporting a patch today and have to have something over my eye for the next week, to keep it protected, so I will look like a pirate for next week or so…

not that kind of pirate you sickos!





Solstice Run

23 06 2008

Great Smokies- Fontana Dam to Forney Creek 28.7 Miles- Ouch!

I thought the run was 25.2 miles until about 10 minutes ago when I plugged in my GPS unit and discovered the trip computer shut down for a little bit. 28.7 miles is not the longest run I have ever done, but by God (Buddah, Mohamed, Yaweh, or whatever deity you prefer) it was the hardest.

I awoke at about 5:45 and began cramming calories & as many liquids as I could sustain in a short period of time. I was hoping to see the sunrise, but we were fogged in at the house. I ate a few hard boiled eggs, 2 bowls of oatmeal with various berries and enough coffee to kill Juan Valdez.

My friend Trevor was kind enough to help with a very long shuttle to Fontana Dam, the highest dam east of the Mississippi at 480 ft, and the starting point for my jaunt. By the way if you ever come by this place check out the bathrooms, they are made of marble, pretty friggin impressive.

Trevor looking at the dam

I chugged a red bull on the way across the dam, posed for a picture at the entrance tourist style, checked my Inov-8 hydration pack full of Mojo Bars, shot bloks and gator-ade, thanked Trevor for getting up so early and making this trip a who lot easier, and I was off.

The first 1/4 mile was pavement, all up ill until the entrance of of eagle creek trail. It was a nice rolling path & relatively wide with minimal obtrusions minus a few presents some horses had left behind. The first thing I noticed when I got deep into the trail, was the Rhododendron blooming everywhere. The Sun had not made its way into the coves yet, but they seemed to be lit by white flowers on the waxy leaves.

The trail seemed to roll effortlessly down to Eagle creek trail when I realized I was on the Benton MacKaye trail as well as Eagle creek trail. I strolled through Eagle Creek campground and came across a few fisherman and hikers a couple hundred yards up the trail right before a trail marker sign, that caused me some confusion. The confusion was the sign pointed to hazel creek (where I wanted to go) but it was pointing in the wrong direction according to my route. As I am looking at the sign a few fishermen asked where I was headed and I told them Forney. One of them repeated me. “Forney, are you sure?”

Well I was when I started out, but now… Anyway got the matter figured out and it was only a couple mile gamble if I got it wrong. So I deviated from my proposed route and headed toward Hazel Creek as the sign said, enjoying the views in the cove, wondering why the forest did not look bigger, passing a couple of old cars that were abandoned 65+ years ago, and letting my mind wonder along with my ipod.

Somewhere during this part of the run, at about 8 miles my GPS froze, and quit responding when I would try use it. I tried powering down, but to no avail, so I removed the battery and put it back on. It was back in business, and I was back on my way.

I later arrived at the old town of Proctor, along Hazel creek about 13 miles into my run and was feeling pretty good.

The town of Proctor is easily accessed by pontoon boat or the watercraft of your choice.I stopped and took a few pictures of this old settlement that is still maintained by the park service as a staging area for various park vehicles that transport people who want to visit their relatives cemetaries located in the park. What this means for us, is the Hazel creek trail is a well maintained gravel road that is only used by park service vehicles. I ran on the road crossing Hazel creek several times on a nice man made bridges and a couple of tressles.

I passed 4 people pushing a cart up the Hazel creek trail (road) to carry all their supplies for a week long camping trip in the park, which made me think maybe I am a little deeper into the woods than I thought originally. Anyway Hazel creek kept going, and going and going, but I finally reached the trail I had been waiting for, Cold Springs Gap trail.

I’d read about this trail. I’d looked at it on a map. I thought I knew how difficult it would be…I had no friggin clue.

This trail has helped me decide to become a road runner, who will from now on will only participate in “fun runs” at churches and elementary schools. I will have nightmares about this trail.

At 18 miles in I started a 4.4 mile ascent of 2675 feet. I forced myself further & further along the trail promising myself Gator-Ade around the next bend or across the next creek crossing. The creek I was following eventually became the trail itself, and crushed me along with my will.

My mind started going places on its own. I was told by someone, a long time ago, that my mind was like a bad neighborhood and I should not go in there alone. I thought there had been a little regentrification in this particular neighborhood, but apparently there are still a few bad apples.

I made a desicion to quit dangling the carrot in front of myself and eat it. At about mile 20 or so, I sat down on a nice wet mossy rock and drank from the frozen gator-ade bottle I had started the morning with and ate some more Mojo bar. I love the people at Gator-Ade. I mean seriously… LOVE them. From the person who designs the label, to the person who ships out the boxes from the factory, may each one of you win the lottery a 1000 times over. Amen.

Sitting on a wet mossy rock

This might be the prettiest place i have ever had a Gator Ade. During my refueling I started to get cold, so I was back on my feet and moving up this friggin hill again. This is the hardest trail I have been on. The rocks in the creek were completely unsympathetic to my plight and kept rolling when I would place my foot. I hate nature.

I continued my ascent, stopping occasionally and taking a few 30 second rests before I crested at High Rocks, the highest point along the trail at about mile 22 and 5135 feet of elevation, which afforded me this southern view.Looking South 5135 feet

Its all downhill form here, and I knew it too. I had no idea a downhill could hurt as bad as this , but I shuffled as fast as I could, knowing that Trevor was going to meet me for the final leg of the trip. 2 miles into the downhill I saw Trevor, and not only was Trevor meeting me along the trail he had with him one gigantic vegan chocolate cookie.

Drunk Monkey & a cookie

In the past I have made fun of vegans, even vegetarians, however I am a new man and wish to take that all back. Vegans are the best! I ate the cookie and walked around like a drunk monkey while Trevor laughed at me and took pictures. I did not want to stand around too long for fear my legs would lock up, so together we hit the downhill. It seemed like it would not end, and I am confident without Trevor pacing me at this point I would have shifted my run into a long walk, but he kept me laughing, which in turn kept me running.

We made it to the Forney creek trail head which was a relatively flat 1/2 mile section to the trailhead. I could not believe I had made the whole day without falling down once, and managed to think this without jinxing myself. The last 1/2 mile was uneventful and I reached the lake and let out a scream only to be answered with another scream from my wife and the rest of the crew picking me up on the boat. I swam out to the boat and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon hanging out on the lake with some of the greatest people on earth. I cashed in all my chips for this run (shuttles, eyes, waiting teenagers, the ever patient Captain Bill McMurry) and as of right now I feel rich!

crew Trevor & rinne running in to meet me

Off to eye surgery in a couple of hours… nothing can hurt as bad as cold springs gap trail… right? (lie to me)





A kick in the eye

18 06 2008

Oh mother of God! On Monday I am scheduled to have a Vitrectomy on my left eye. I have been aware of a small challenge in my eye since the beginning of April and have been trying to discover, or rather letting the Medical professionals discover what is wrong. I have been to a few Doctors, and had more pictures taken of my eye than of Hannah Montana. I have had enough blood drawn to where I can now tap the vein out myself, without the use of the belt.

I have a macular pucker in my left eye and neo-vascularization in the retina. I like to think I am just the next step in evolution, but they say “nay” to that. They told me at one point it could be one of several diseases, none that were particularly appealing to be afflicted with. After several weeks of worrying about having various diseases that have benefits, dinners, and armbands to raise awareness, they ruled them all out.

I have been diagnosed with Eale’s disease, which is a diagnosis of exclusion, or idiopathic. In other words they do not know what causes it, just that I have the symptoms. All in all this is a good thing. If you have to have a rare disease, apparently this is the one to have. So if you make a deal with the devil, this could be a negotiation point for you.

See like I do by going here and sliding the scale to advanced: http://www.visionsimulator.com/dme.asp

I asked the Dr. about the surgery and the need for it, and her answer, “you could go blind” in a very matter of fact tone. I told her the Nuns told me the same thing and it never happened. She did not even crack a smile.

So now onto the surgery. Apparently I will be conscious when they stick a few things in my eye, so to say the least I am nervous, but apparently it should make everything better, but the big thing is, I am not supposed to run for a few weeks, nor lift anything heavy, nor write any more run-on sentences. I think I am more worried about this part than anything else.

In honor of not being able to exercise for a few weeks I will be doing my Solstice run this Saturday in the Smokies. If you want to join me, let me know. Oh and for those of you paying attention, the trail ends at the lake, far from any roads, I have arranged for a Jetski shuttle out. For the route you can vist: http://www.usatf.org/routes/view.asp?rID=210799





Jacks River-Falls Run

16 06 2008

Course

Something along the lines of 11.5 or so miles in the woods, along the Beech bottom trail to the Jacks river trail. 5 of us left Atlanta around 8 and were on the trail by about 10:30, and took a leisurely stroll into the trail with one older dog and one dog that thinks he can fly, literally.

Watch your footing

jacks river push

Nice wide trail to lead in to the falls, covered by Rhododendron, some old growth Hemlocks, minimal underbrush for the woods of Georgia. At about 2.5 miles \into the Beech Bottom trail you can hear the roar of the falls about a mile an half away on trail, and a few hundred feet below you. Reached the falls and I was expectung to see crowds, but only one other group of hikers were there, who left pretty quickly.

Hung out at the falls for a couple of hours, swimming, climbing, eating lunch and enjoying having the falls to ourselves. Once other people started arriving to the falls we decided it was time to start the runs. Trevor & I headed down stream for a little longer run out along the Jacks river trail.


The trail is relatively flat, but rocky and rooty for the majority of the run. I took a nice trip about a mile into the run and landed with all my weight on my right foot, loading my quad until Trevor and I both heard a little pop. Ouch… oh well 5 miles in, better keep running. We continued on the run from the falls downstream, and just when you would get into a good stride, there would be a river crossing.

And then running again and another river crossing. And then running again through a couple more river crossings. Trevor became a little bored with this rhythm and decided to test out running on the side of his ankle. He does not recommend this particular running style. After a few limps he decided to HTFU, and we continued on for the final leg where we were met by the rest of our group from the falls who were kind enough to help us with the shuttle.






And so it begins

5 06 2008

I have been reading a few blogs lately and have become inspired, after sitting on the sidelines, to write my own. As far as the title of the blog goes, “one must imagine sisyphus happy.” Which is pretty much how I am as long as I am outside, futile task or not. My main interests currently, are  trail running, paddling, cycling, hiking, and oh yeah, laughing- a lot.