Monday, January 21, 2013

.2 Miles; Just a Little Left to Go

I realized there are still things to talk about, such as regaining fitness and the new normal of life.

I've actually gotten a little bit fat now, 5 pounds overweight probably, and Dr. Savani told me, "Lose the gut," at my last appointment. He then explained that back in the day when transplant patients were not monitored as closely as I'm being monitored, the fatality rate from cardiovascular disease was 16 times higher than the general population.

This is me. Hat covers the side of my face for sun protection. Gloves have tips so I can use my iPhone even with the gloves on, again for sun protection. Sunglasses on a cloudy day because of GVH of the eyes. And I'm still growing into my pants as my legs get stronger. But I'm smiling!

He wants to be "aggressive," he said, with keeping that away.

I don't mind that. I've been an avid exerciser most of my life. The problem since the transplant is that my body has consistently found some new, creative way to prevent walking and jogging and make exercising in general painful.

There's been sheer fatigue and weakness, so much so that climbing three or four stairs was difficult. I worked at it, and a couple months later I was going up six flights of stairs, seventeen-steps each, and even running a couple of the flights.

Since things have been better the last month, I was out walking my dog the other day when it was sunny. Beautiful!
Then the hemorrhoids kicked in, painful and constant ... for five months! It didn't stop me from exercising, but it limited it enough that I didn't make much progress.

Somehow, they slowed down, a lot, and I went back to it. Then I walked and jogged a mile one day, ran sprints the next, and walked four miles through a state park the day after. The day after the state park, my calf was killing me. An ultrasound showed I didn't have a blood clot, but it took two weeks to be able to walk normally. The pain came back a couple days after it left, and this time it was a blood clot. Off to the hospital and four weeks of not being able to walk for longer than one minute!

I got through all that in November, only to be greeted with the worst ingrown toenail of my life.

Was God simply opposed to my getting back in shape? My plan had been to run a half marathon in November, not to be limping around on a blood clot and ingrown toenail, losing stamina rather than gaining it.

Somehow, since the second week of December or so, I have been relatively pain-free. My energy has been immense compared to the rest of 2012. No pain pills and only rare naps needed.

Not to say that everything is gone. The ingrown toenail is now ingrown toenails, and it's being managed, not cured, even with the help of a doctor. I have these thin, razor-sharp toenails. I always have. I did start taking beef gelatin last week to try to thicken them. We'll see how that goes.

Yesterday I kicked a punching bag at work—a punching bag we bought and hung up in back of the warehouse for our fitness and self-defense training pleasure, and I forgot to curl my toes back on one of the roundhouse kicks. Oh, the agony!

Fortunately, I was able to take it out on the punching bag even as the pain coursed through my whole body.

However, I am managing the ingrown toenail pain, and my new problem, GVH (Graft-vs.-Host) of the eyes, isn't stopping me from running. If the wind is blowing, I do something inside.

GVH rash on my calves and feet. The steroid increase Jan. 11 cleared it right up.

I work out on the punching bag at work once or twice a day when I'm down there. I have a barbell and dumbbell in the office which I do quick workouts with here and there. If the wind is not blowing, I put on wraparound sunglasses, and I walk around our warehouse, running where I can. I can only run halfway around the warehouse, not much over 100 yards, but hey, it's a start. I even played a pretty decent game of soccer on a very small field out back with two of my sons and three other warehouse workers.

My new office includes a cot and a barbell.
I've borrowed some exercises from an "Insanity Workout" video I saw some guys doing when I was living in Nashville. I was at the apartment's exercise room, and three young men were doing crazy, fast exercises. It was so intense, one of them kept dropping out to catch his breath. At that time, I could have kept up with them for about 10 seconds, then had to quit.

So occasionally my kids find me in my room, skipping sideways, touching the floor, then skipping back to my original position. Or they find me going back and forth, switching between roundhouse, side, and front kicks. Or pushups ... or lying on my stomach looking like I'm trying to swim across the floor ... or trying to do a yoga pose on one leg.

That's the overview. Here's the situation.

Today I ran .2 miles. Not two miles, but point-two miles. 1056 feet, 352 yards. I ran it slow, but I ran it all, even with a little uphill. I did it at the end of a mile walk with my dog, and I had even included a little running, and a fast-as-I-can run up a short but really steep hill. I didn't make it all the way up the hill, but I was shocked to find out I could run over halfway up it.

Very exciting. Having the ability to exercise without sharp pain in some essential part of my body really makes it easier to exercise. I'm making a little progress, and I breathe really hard every day and get my heart rate up for a half hour or more every day.

Lookout, Badwater, here I come. It may take 10 years, but I'm gonna get there!

I am two days past the one-year anniversary of my stem cell transplant.

"To realize one's destiny is a person's only real obligation. All things are one. And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." ~Paulo Coelho

Our great God, who makes the rain to shine on the just and the unjust, is the source of that "conspiracy." Jesus Christ's apostle puts it this way, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Php. 4:13).


  1. Happy re-birthday! I understand about the exercise. I haven't been as diligent as you, but I am just starting. It's hard. I used to be so fit. Now I get so tired...but I'm trying. Keep it up, my friend. We've only yet begun!

  2. Thanks, Tamara. "I used to be so fit. Now I get so tired." Boy, can I relate.

    We're going to make it. Thanks for the encouragement, and I pray you feel better and more jubilant.

  3. It took cancer 6 months to bring me to zero fitness, and im gonna use the next 6 months to get it all back.

    But in all honesty, if I hadn't been so diligent with my health, and fitness - I wouldn't have gone to the clinic and found out I had leukemia.

    I tried working out during the acute chemotherapy - which was about every week. But a neutropenic fever, and an infection in my ass kept me in bed. Now I'm in maintenance and things are looking better. I hope things turn out well for you too. :)


  4. Good grief, my comment just disappeared!

    I can definitely relate. neutropenic fevers, infections, hemorrhoids, blood clots, and even ingrown toenails have all conspired along the way to keep me from exercising.

    For the first time I have had six or seven straight weeks of being able to walk and exercise. Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! And producing great results. I am almost back to normal strength, except my legs. My lungs handle a quarter-mile of jogging, no problem. My legs can barely get the quarter-mile in, and I have been working on them more than my upper body.

    Ah, well, all in its own time. It took a year for me to have so many days on which I could exercise. May you meet your six-month goals without hindrance!