It has been a month of intermittent misery with bouts of increasing graft-host disease, mind-bending itching and rash, and 24/7 nausea. At UCSF Hematology/Oncology it is all about numbers and pills: read my labs, adjust some pills – it’s all part of the normal and expected range of hell. After a day of six hours of traffic and waiting rooms for a 15 minute doctor appointment, I realized I was done being a commodity in a high-profile factory. My very conservative doctor had a telling response: “You are taking me out of my comfort zone.”
And back in the small clinic in Santa Rosa, my after-care doc just said, “Tell me where you are going to be and I will have your meds waiting for you at the nearest town. You understand your drug protocol? Great. Have a great trip.” He gets it. It’s about living, not just being alive. The packed truck and Airstream were already in the medical center parking lot. We left straight from his office to the mountains.
So we finally escaped all that urban insanity –again- and bee-lined it to 6000’, closest place to see granite and alpine forest, set up Tater and took a deep breath. The next morning at 6:00 AM I saddled up my day-running pack with fuel and water and ran a half-marathon up to the top of Martis Peak Lookout above Lake Tahoe. Just like that. No altitude acclimatization. Just gone.
Wait! I can’t do that.
OK, the worst version of leukemia, three rounds of the toughest chemo they give to humans, a bone marrow transplant, and open heart surgery. Physically and chemically mutilated just to be kept on the cusp of life for way too long. A prognosis carrying the likelihood of me being already in the world beyond. And I just zip up a bouldered mountain trail as fast as I did back… hell, back farther than I can remember anymore? Three thousand two hundred and eighty one calories later at two hours and some change.
I’ve done enough physical challenges to know that sometimes you work and work and work at something and there is no progress at all, things don’t just get hopeless, they get stupid hopeless, and then BAM, and you say “What just happened?” Maybe it was the inspiration of the mountains - my church – being exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.