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The End Is Near

As 2019 ends this evening, I look back over a decade of challenges. Some of them I rose up to meet with enthusiasm. Others really kicked my @$$.

In 2010 I weighed about 300 pounds. But I have big bones, so it's healthy.

In 2011 I showed up nearly dead in ICU with congestive heart failure. I just remember wishing I could pass on and be done with life. It hadn't been all that kind to me. Being overweight and depressed is a lot of work.

Unhealthy sucks. I was a pro.

Then there were the loved ones. Three kids and a wife. After my heart cath, some pain meds, and heartfelt plea from my then 8-year-old, I decided to give it another go.

I was miserable.

I trusted the doctors to give me all the right medications and give me back my old life. Whatever that was. I was scared to live like that. I slept 13 hours a day. I had no energy at all. I was confused. I was depressed.

I thought it was over. I sort of wished it was.

Somehow I believed walking was going to help, so I began. A mile took 55 minutes. Eventually I made it up to 3 miles. Each one taking about 40 minutes.

Man that was boring.

So against doctor's orders, I started running. Eventually I stopped taking most of my medications. I ran my first marathon in 2013. 

Then my first cancer diagnosis just in time for Thanksgiving.

I was scared. I finally was beginning to feel good. I had dropped from 296 to 198. Again, I was tempted to believe the doctors and scheduled surgery. I hated the possibility of all that was going to change with a radical prostatectomy.

I got a second opinion.

I opted for active surveillance. The first couple of years were torturous. Biopsies, PSA tests, and WAITING for results. It was horrible.

Then the melanoma in 2014.

Followed by the colon tumors in 2015 and 2016. I went from running marathons to fighting cancer all the time. I kept running - Boston, Chicago, and New York. Somewhere in there a dream was born. I entered the Berlin Marathon lottery and signed up for Dublin for 2016.

I was too sick to make it too Dublin and didn't get in Berlin.

I kept running, and I kept fighting. It had taken its toll on me and my family. I moved on and later met Ruth. She embraced my cancer, my uncertain future, and became my favorite cheerleader.

I signed up for Berlin and got in for 2017.

It was World Major number 4. It was my way of flipping off cancer. It was my way of beating heart disease. Running also brought me out of a lifetime of depression. Running was good stuff.

Except for breaking my leg in three place at the end of 2016!

2018 I passed out from heat exhaustion at the finish line of the London Marathon. World Major number 5 was complete.

I signed up for Tokyo 2019.

I was hoping for my best ever World Major. It was a daunting commitment. Running and cancer were constantly at odds. More melanoma, more colon tumors, more biopsies, it was just hard to keep going.

I did anyway.

August of 2018 I woke up with a severe headache. It almost completely removed my ability to focus, do math, make decisions, be logical, remember things, all while the pain fluctuated from level 6 while lying down to somewhere around 9 or 10 within four of five hours.

I tried everything. I still am.

Living with a 24/7 headache has proved to be the most challenging thing I have ever done. At first I tried to tough it out. You know, like I have always done. Even though I could make my legs move, I was in pain all the time.

What I couldn't do was make my mind work.

I went to Tokyo. I thought about not going a thousand times. In the end, it was paid for, and it seemed like it could be my last chance. I took a pile of drugs and made my way to the hotel in downtown.

I pretty much stayed in bed except for one day. Race day.

I ran, if you can call it that, the marathon and got my World Majors medal. It is without a doubt, the hardest thing I have ever done. I was miserable.

I came home and spent a few days in the hospital.

Then the surgeries, March 9, March 24, March 29 and August 2nd. I lost my momentum. I was in more pain than before. The depression of old returned. Of course I reached out for help.

2019 has been pretty much hell.

Despite surgery, my pain levels have only dropped from 6 to 10 down to 3 to 8. I have learned it now depends on how much time I spend upright. The more I do, the worse it gets. The neurologist took me off all the pain medication.

In the end, it was doing very little, if anything.

What helps is laying down. I do that most of the day. I manage my days in two hour blocks. This blog took two hours. They used to take twenty minutes. I can go for a run, take a walk, or spend a little time on the boat. Driving is still not a safe sport, so I sold my car.

There was good news this year. I had my yearly colon check up and no tumors!

The skin cancer has been quite a challenge. I am keeping up with it. My prostate MRI showed no changes, but my PSA is back up. :( The doctors are trying to find the root cause of my debilitating headache and the lawyers are trying to decide if I am disabled or not. We'll see how happy 2020 is.

I am wishing you all a very healthy and happy 2020.

23 votes + -


johnwhitent wrote 1 month ago:
I hope you have a happy healthy 2020
Armygirlarmyof1 wrote 1 month ago:
for sharing and please keep fighting and inspiring.
Dootzy1 wrote 1 month ago:
Your honest sharing elevates all of us. Because as messed up as your experiences are, you always rally.
Anonymous wrote 1 month ago:
Hope 2020 is a better year. You’ve been through a lot. Are your headaches migraine?
Anonymous wrote 1 month ago:
No, they are not migraines. They are from impinged nerves.
mowree wrote 1 month ago:
To my all time favorite blogger...I love your fighting spirit. Your ability to rise to the challenges in your life certainly portrays a goodness deep within you. May 2020 reward you richly. 😊
kendallvon wrote 1 month ago:
I am wishing you a happy and healthy 2020. I sincerely hope you remain cancer free and obtain relief (at least partial) from the pain.
Amanda_Brit_Expat wrote 1 month ago:
Thank you for sharing your story, I hope 2020 is a better year for you :)
tberrycastle wrote 3 weeks ago:

I have been a "yo-yo" dieter all my life (SO unhealthy!)But when I return here to MFP after my frequent (binging) absences, You are always here and always an inspiration. Your perseverance and fighting spirit often motivate me to move forward. And yet, you have taught me that it's not about "Motivation" but about DETERMINATION! You've been through so much on this journey, I have no doubts that you will get through the "Headache" chapter as well. THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing this timeline. I'm feeling like I am going to stay the course this time. I must! Here's to 2020 seeing both of us in great shape when the ball drops next year ;-)
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