Monday, November 30, 2015

Meme Monday: Snowglobe Greetings

Season's Greetings on this "Cyber Monday" from Seeking Boston. May your holiday season be filled with much joy and many fulfilling runs and races!

From Seeking Boston Marathon

Friday, November 20, 2015

Rudolph the White Nosed Reindeer

Just a quick update for all those that have asked (Thank you!) about my surgery on Tuesday. Dr. Cohen from About Skin Dermatology performed Mohs surgery to remove a basal cell carcinoma from my nose. Could fate have picked a "less obvious" spot than the center of my frickin' face?!

Mohs has been around for awhile and is described as the least invasive (oxymoron) approach to extraction of a cancerous tumor. I guess it's "less" from the standpoint, that they didn't take a melon ball scooper to my face, but it is surgery and they are removing part of your face. Slightly scary stuff.

As I stated in my last post ("The Little c,") I was optimistic in that it was categorized as basal cell vs. melanoma and that I jumped into action as soon as I recognized something wasn't quite right. How could I tell? When a spot appears or something that looks like a zit, but doesn't heal, then you want to get it checked out.

The surgery was classified as outpatient and was performed at Swedish Hospital where my sister works. It was good to have the family nurse and her husband there that morning to wish me well. They instructed me that I could be there for as many as five hours as they would go in and remove the affected area, perform a biopsy in the lab, then stitch me up.

Preparing me for the removal, they simply injected my nose with lidocaine to numb the area. There were no other drugs (yet) so I was conscious the whole time. I avoided eye contact with the needle injecting my nose ("just a little pinprick...just nod if you can hear me...is there anyone at home?") The needle didn't hurt, but there was a bit of burning sensation as the medicine spread into my nose and turned the skin white. I couldn't tell what was really happening as the bright operating room light shined in my face, but at one point, I could tell he was snipped flesh. Sorry...gross...but that's how it went down.

Once the sample (how's that for a tumor euphemism?) was out, we waited for the results. I "lucked out" (if you could call it that) in that they got the entire area in the first wave. I asked how they could tell...seems to me they would have to test my face, not the sample. Think of it as a "pie crust." If the edges and bottom are okay, they got it all. That was the case here.

After that, they numbed my ear to remove a skin graft to cover the wound on the tip of my nose. The inside of the ear most closely resembles the nose with pores. The graft was between the size of a cigarette butt and a dime. She asked if I wanted to look at it in the mirror, which I did and also took selfies that will go in the vault...unless you have a morbid interest, they will stay there.

I was surprised how quick phase I (cut) and phase III (graft) took. This Dr. had clearly seen a few "rodeos" in his day. He's nationally (and international) renowned and had a fantastic bed-side manner. I didn't cry (don't judge,) but I did make use of the stress ball a couple of times. After all that, the nurse did an amazing job with the "dressing," but I look like a white-nosed reindeer.

Post surgery, they want me taking it easy for two weeks to allow the skin graft to take hold. I'm still in the walking boot for a couple of weeks for my stress fracture so I'm down to zero exercise at this point which is starting to drive me nuts. I will go in after Thanksgiving to have stitches removed hopefully, but they will want bandaging on for a total of (likely) five weeks. Ugh! Can we photoshop Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Hard to say how things will heal, but he said there are likely laser and dermabrasion treatments for me in the coming months. I joked that if I had a scar, could he make it something cool like a Mickey Rourke bar fight scar? Perhaps a vintage Nicholson in "Chinatown." That would be a bit more machismo than Rudolph. He said he would do his best.


(Author's Footnote: As I discussed with my last post, I debated writing about this. How much bad news would it take before alienating the few viewers I have, and is this really entertainment? I decided that it's therapeutic to write about it, and it's also an education opportunity for runners and anyone on the dangers of sun exposure and prevention. My reckless youth written differently could have avoided this.) What can you do? Cover that sh*t up...and wear sunscreen when you're out on a run and contribute to my Movember PAGE.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Little "c"

This post is not about the big "C", but the little "c". The last 15 months my running and triathlon campaign has seen more curves than Christina Hendricks, but curves are not the "c" I'm talking about.

I think this must be some kind of test...to see how much resolve I really have. Today I go in for surgery for skin cancer. Shit. Those are some tough words to write. Before you panic, write me off, or hold a vigil, it's not what I consider the "big C," yet something I have to take care of. I like to think of it as the "little c."

In some form of sick joke or test to see just how much I can handle, I received the biopsy results less than 24 hours before I received the results of my MRI on my left foot which revealed a stress fracture and once again put my New York City marathon run dreams on hold. Dream?...more like a nightmare. This news was seven days before I was to have run my first New York. I know...I know...a race seems insignificant compared to ones health, but the timing of of it overwhelmed me to say the least. For the second time in fifteen months, I was dealing with issues of my mortality.

Back to the big vs. little "c" thing that has you confused at this point. I first discovered this whole thing when I had a blemish on my nose that didn't seem to heal normally. The area would dry up, start to "flake off," then it would seem to be an open wound again. The good news is that this hasn't gone on for long, and I knew something was not right. If you were to look at my nose in normal conversation, you wouldn't even notice it; yet there were a couple race photos and blog selfies this summer that showed a mark that just looked like a zit worked over too hard.

Within a few weeks of discovering this, I made the appointment with the dermatologist. He had to order a "punch" biopsy kit to extract the sample. It's kind of hard to explain, but I suppose it's like drilling a earth or ice core sample. Considering the area (right in the center of my space,) Dr. Stephen ordered the smallest punch kit available. This would only require one stitch for the biopsy itself not leaving a "trace" of the test itself. The small punch as it turned out did not matter as they're going in to remove a much larger area today...estimated to be the end of a pencil eraser.

The big C and the little c? The worst possible scenario is that it would turn out to be a melanoma. This can have a tumor below the surface and can spread to the lymph nodes and rest of the body. Just like any other cancer, catch it early, and your odds are much better. The other form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. Sounds scary but it's more treatable than a melanoma. I have the later...the "little c." Hopefully, catching it as early as I did with the procedure (Mohs) I'm having done, my chances of full recovery and success are high.

I took awhile to let my kids, parents, and siblings know about this. I cried...it really freaked me out. How would I tell my kids I have cancer without freaking them out? How much was "below the surface" and would I be disfigured? Will they catch it all? All these thoughts have run through my head.

I debated writing about it as this is as personal as it gets. I was very private about it. There were many aspects I had to rationalize including when to do the procedure. The doctors said it wasn't "life threatening" yet they didn't want me to delay. I'd originally scheduled to go in the week of Thanksgiving; then a wait list opening became available for November 17th. "Let's get it over with," I thought.

Being the pragmatic one, I also figured, this would work with my work and work travel schedule the best. During the consult with the surgeon, I realized that the recovery is a bit more than I thought. He really doesn't want me doing anything for two weeks. The procedure itself does not take long, yet I will be there for five hours or more as they will run tests on the tissue extracted to make sure they "got it all." After the bad cells are removed, they will either stitch me up with a flap from skin in the surrounding area, or more likely a graft from inside my ear.

As I said, I took awhile to tell more of my immediate family. I didn't want my parents to worry more than they had to for longer than they had to. Two of my kids are approaching finals in college and I didn't want that to disrupt their lives. My youngest knew something was wrong as my face (no pun intended) couldn't hide my stress and pain.

So why would I write about it? I'd say the primary reasons are therapy and education. Therapy in that "holding things in" can only make matters worse. Writing about it helps. The other reason is to educate. when something like this happens, you wonder how it happened, and "how did I get it?" I'm a fair-skinned ginger, yet I did "tan" at times growing up. I remember when I just started skiing as a grade-schooler in Colorado and made the mistake of not putting on sunscreen in the mountains and severely burning to the point of blistering. Yes...when you're in the mountains on the reflective white snow, you WILL burn quicker than normal.

In college, I went on a few spring breaks and would lay out at the beach. While those were great times, the sun caught up with me. If that didn't do it, owning a tanning salon 15 years ago also probably did not help. On the education front, I have a daughter with the same (even whiter) complexion as me, and reinforced with her that she should lather herself with SPF50 the rest of her life. She will also be grateful as she ages as her skin will be much younger than those that chose to "tan" themselves.

As I've got older, I've got a bit smarter about sunscreen and always wear a hat when I run outdoors. Clearly, I will be taking even further steps when I get out of my walking boot and get back outdoors to always wear protection. I'm hoping that this will also help the readers of my blog to understand the dangers of the sun and to cover up. I may be "out of pocket" for a couple days, but will post an update hopefully soon. Thanks for listening, reading, and putting on sunscreen next time you go out for a run.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Three Things Thursday: Ambassadors and Hats

What does a run blogger write about when they can't run? Running still runs through my mind even though the Frankenstein boot on my left foot tells me I'm still a month away from considering jogging again, but good news did strike the offices of SeekingBostonMarathon.com this week.

Hat's Off to SeekingBostonMarathon

The only thing runners can't have enough of more than shoes is hats. I can't think of the last time I ran outdoors in a race or training run without a hat. Why is Dr. Seuss running through my head? Red hats, green hats, wool caps, that's that. I have two favorite trucker's caps I'm wearing these days. One was a pay-it-forward cap from theGSF.org. NEVER GIVE UP. The GSF (Gwedolyn Strong Foundation) is an organization to raise money and awareness to fight Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA.)

Less meaningful, but also providing motivation when I'm not running are the latest "trucker caps" for SeekingBostonMarathon.com. Yes...we started with stickers. The cheap paper kind, then upgraded the logo and went to the vinyl sticker. We now have trucker caps! Woohoo! I've always got one of the two on my head lately.

Tell me what you think? If you're gunning for Boston, I'll put an order together if you're seeking the unicorn. There may be a giveaway for one of these bad boys in the near future!

Runner's Roost Race Team

Woohoo number two! For the second year in a row, I've been selected to the Runner's Roost Race team as an ambassador on their triathlon team. I was worried about whether I'd make the team again as I was injured more than half the year and really didn't race that much.

Combined with my travel schedule, I was gone A LOT which limited my run club events and volunteer work. VERY excited to get healthy and have an injury-free 2016 representing the Runner's Roost stores.

BibRavePro

When I'm not representing the Runner's Roost, I also received news that I'm a BibRavePro again in 2016 for BibRave. BibRave provides runners with reviews of run races and hosts one of the best run chats (every Tuesday night) on twitter. If you're unsure of a race, BibRave provides reviews from runners like you and me that covers everything from course difficulty, race management, swag, expo (if there is one,) and overall ranking.

You can catch my latest review on BibRave (HERE) from my last race this year at the Highlands Ranch Half Marathon.

BibRave has also signed up with Buff this year as a sponsor of all the bloggers and ambassadors. I CAN'T WAIT to run in the Buff this year! (Not to be confused with my other nude 5K bucket list item.)

Just because I'm not running, does not mean I'm not thinking about it pretty much all the time.


About Me

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine