Clearing the Mind - January 17-18, 2009

Last week was busy and stressful, and consequently the time passed quickly. Stress is building up from the countdown to the next cystoscopy, now less than 4 days away. On top of that my employer for the past 16 years, a Very Large American Aerospace Corporation (VLAAC) did a major restructure of our little piece last year. The plan was for my Utah group to be combined with two other groups in more than two other locations to form a New Medium-Sized Specialized Product-Oriented Organization (NMSSPOO) with headquarters and most staff here in Utah. We were proceeding down the path to plug in a new process infrastructure to support the new picture, when last week we got an email that aborted the new organizational structure and linkages, instead substituting a new, different, and completely unknown set of connections. So the way our NMSSPOO plugs into the VLAAC is completely different, and it appears our NMSSPOO is now a small part of a Large Specialized Product Oriented Organization (LSPOO). (Be advised that these terms and acronyms are my fabrications to protect the guilty, but they are not too far from the truth!) After a few days of research and running amok, we believe it could be that the new deal is better for us and could make life easier. But being a control freak (Myers-Briggs ISTJ) means that I intensely dislike chaos, disorder, and randomness. So while God is in control ultimately, I still fight for control of my environment locally. So here we have a double whammy - no control over the medical outcome, and my precious structural model at work blown away in favor of (hopefully temporary) chaos and uncertainty.

The situation called for some drastic action, so I did something I have not done since last August - and it was long overdue. I went for a motorcycle ride. Did about 100 miles yesterday (Saturday) and another 100 miles today. Sure it's January in Utah, but the sun is shining, the roads are (mostly) clear, and technology is our friend. It took over an hour to prepare the bike for the street - checking fluid levels and tire pressures, finding winter gear, wiring in electronics, warming things up. We live in the mountains, a few miles from the base of a ski resort, while most of the population lives down in the Bonneville lake bed on the other side of the mountains. I headed West towards the lowland and civilization, as it's generally several degrees warmer there, both summer and winter. What I forgot was the winter inversion. While it WAS a bit warmer, with temps ranging from 30 (degrees F) at home to 39 in the valley, there are climate conditions that trap windless air and hold it close to the ground. This air collects all dust, vehicle, and chimney pollutants and becomes noxious after a few days.

While yesterday's inversion was not the worst we've had, it made the Wasatch Front an unpleasant driving destination. Add to that the fact that people were out and about, plus every traffic enforcement cop was out and hard at work. I saw thirteen (yes 13) of them in the space of three hours, and about half of them were busy writing expensive citations. Thanks to experience and electronic countermeasures I was able to avoid meeting any of them in person. I made my way down the new Legacy Parkway and returned north via Redwood Road, where I saw several locals kicking tires at Salt Lake BMW, a well-known motorcycle dealership (sadly now out of business).
Looped up to Ogden Municipal Airport and had a late snack at Doolittle's Deli. (Restaurant review HERE) Despite the weather, traffic, and enforcement, the concentration required to ride safely was a great aid in clearing my mind. Sadly, it only lasted about half an hour after I was done, so I resolved to go again the next day, but to head in the opposite direction!

So today I mounted up and headed East. While the air was clear and the roads were empty, it was a indeed colder - starting at 30 degrees and ranging down to 25 or so. I know this as the bike (a 2004 Honda ST1300) has an air temperature gauge built in. And because I had left my gloves, jacket, and helmet in the garage, they all started out at 30 degrees as well, giving me a thermal disadvantage from the get-go. Even with heated seat and heated grips cranked to full power, I was cold for the first 25 minutes, so I stopped to take a couple of photos and walked around a bit. This activity seemed to even out all the warmth, and the balance of the trip was quite comfortable, despite the colder temperatures. As you can see from the photos (click on any photo to enlarge), the sky was deep blue and nearly cloudless. Air was crystal clear, and the roads were empty. Motoring through the countryside revealed some spectacular photo opportunities with the late afternoon flat light of wintertime, and maintaining tight control of the vehicle in the environment was a solace to my spirit. I passed through the tiny towns of Croydon and Echo and made my way up Echo Canyon, where the red rocks were displayed beautifully in the cold sunlight. The roads were nearly empty of traffic, even on the Interstate. Looks like everybody stayed home to watch the NFL football playoffs. Today's winners go against each other on February 1 in the Super Bowl. That made it good for me. As I passed by Echo Reservoir, I observed a handful of ice fishermen busily fishing for ice. They stared long and hard at me, probably supposing that I was the bigger fool this day. I beg to differ, being the one with the heated seat, hand grips, and satellite radio in stereo coming through the helmet headset. Even with no ice or fish to show for my adventure, I would not trade my improved state of mind for either or both! The cold temperatures made it easier than usual to relax my pace, enjoy the scenery, and take a few photos. I doubt if I ran over 100 MPH more than a couple of times, although little clears the mind as well as air at arctic temperatures forced into your lungs at speed... I even paused long enough to note how the wind had carved the fallen snow into feathery ice crystals, pictured at the top of this post. As I made my way homeward the setting sun hit a rock formation to my right that I had passed dozens of times in the past without notice. These outcroppings with a lighter colored strata at the top looked for a moment like a gathering of blond giants standing around having an informal gab session. When I stopped to take the photo, the image melted into rocky reality, but still made the nice shot at right. All in all I am ready to work hard for the next few days, and all of you can join me in praying hard to wish for a positive outcome and more BCGs instead of more surgery. Even cancer looks better after a great motorcycle ride!


A Dived Ref said...

Hi Steve, what a beautiful part of the world you live in and a lovely blog too - I enjoyed that. I can sympathise with you on the work front. At the time I was going through your stage I was made redundant and later the next job was even worse so it all adds to the stress and for you and me (INTJ / ISTJ) it is worse of course.

I was surprised to see Croydon mentioned as we have a Croydon, not far from me, about 15 miles I suppose. It is massive and is on the South London / Surrey borders. It has a massive shopping centre (well by UK standards). Nothin like the small place you descibe :-)

I'm praying and pulling for you for 21st and 22nd and I'd be massively disappointed for you if you didn't get the right answer given that you have done everything (and more) your team need for you to get healthy.

It is a difficult couple of days ahead and you have lots to bounce around in your mind. In a way, you have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That's worked for me as if it is bad news, I was expecting it, everything else is a bonus and a lift.

We will have to compare notes on the 22nd - wishing you well for your meeting and keep with the breathing techniques and other ways to keep yourself as calm as you can.

Anonymous said...

I pray for a good result for you. I had my own cysto on Friday and am now heading for my second Turb and the mitomycin c instillation I didn't get the first time. The doc saw a spot and since I had a huge (racquetball size) tumor and my bladder was perforated when the took it out, I wasn't able to get the Mi-C. It's been six months since my first Turb and I was beginning to feel like I might get out of this real good, but now its back to the grind....Probably some BCG in my future too.

Reader in Michigan