Tuesday, August 24

I'm back...fingers crossed!

I'm inspired to write this blog entry because I've been feeling so much better lately. Additionally, I've heard from some of you and I'm particularly touched by your concerns. Some people lament that we, as a society, have lost our “sense of community,” that people are too plugged in to technology and not tuned in enough to “traditional” ways of caring about each other. I reject this outright; nothing is ever so black and white. Thanks to everyone who has reached out or just thought about me these last few months. I am left with a strong feeling of community with my fellow moto-bloggers.

I'm sorry that I've been invisible. I wouldn't wish my health challenges on anyone! For too long, I've had neither the energy nor desire to read moto blogs much less post on my own. Every time I step outside a motorcycle appears out of nowhere and zips by me as if mocking my pedestrian mode of transportation. And occasionally, it's all made be whiny, pouty and really uninterested in forcing my foggy brain—thanks to some crazy prescribed drugs—to focus on anything requiring attention. Trying to live vicariously through others' adventures was not helping. So, I apologize for neglecting the pleasure I usually experience from reading your blogs—and the fun I get from sharing my journeys (which have been few and far between). So I've laid low and tried to focus on reclaiming my former self.

What's up with me, you've asked? I have a nasty auto immune disease of the connective tissues that has brought with it a rather persistent, chronic fatigue and more than its share of itchy, hideous hives. My immune system treats my muscles and tissue cells as enemy invaders and wants to destroy both. At one point, the least bit of physical exertion was followed by what I can only describe as an acute case of lactic acid burn in every fiber of my being. For reasons unclear to me, I continue to experience incredible muscle/tissue fires inside. After a lively 5 mile walk, which used to be a skip in the park, I now (more often than not) feel a burning sensation under my skin. I will spare you the details but after more than a year of trying to get a doctor to listen to me and not dismiss this as “all in my head,” I finally have received a diagnosis that makes sense. Not good news in the end, but what a relief to know what I'm dealing with.

I've had to consume some awful drugs that have compromised me cognitively and erased my energy and only slightly eased the pain, which always leaves me asking, “What is the point?”

Through trial and error, I've learned what drug to cut out—most of the prescribed stuff—and I've started to feel considerable better—at least I have my mind back, which I know might be debatable. Still...

Currently, I'm feeling as if I'm in a healing phase (a remission of sorts). I've had a few weeks of feeling well enough to get through an entire day without several naps. Knocking on wood. Photo therapy has done wonders. I felt so well that on a Friday in July I took a ride to Milwaukee's BMW for a big, overdue service on the ST.

Other than occasionally running errands, this would be my first trip since May, when I ventured to Michigan to do some underground railroad hunting. I left for WI at 7am and already the air was hot and humid underneath an overcast sky. Milwaukee is an easy trip of about 100 miles; I arrived a few minutes before the shop opened at 10am. In the past, Dave had volunteered to ride my bike up there for me; while I appreciated his offer I could think of only a one word response: NEVER! I rested two whole days to make the trip. By the time I pulled into the large lot, I felt like a privileged six year old on Christmas morning. Three guys were waiting outside for the head guy to open the place; they watched me as I did a U-turn. Thankfully, my time off the bike, did not show. Within ten minutes my bike was checked in. I headed off to a coffee shop to get some reading and writing done. I felt tired but in a good way. Fortunately, I would have seven and a half hours to rest up before the return trip.

Throughout the day, the sky threatened rain and eventually the rain came in buckets. Didn't matter to me as the rain gear was packed. By the time I took to the rode, the rain had dwindled to a trickle—not even worth pulling out the rain gear. The return journey took 1.5 hours longer than it took to get to Milwaukee. The return dished up everything that makes riding fun and challenging. My clutch hand ached from constant use in stop and go traffic. Friday evening traffic from Milwaukee into Chicago is always an endurance test. Rarely, during the last fifty miles did the bike move beyond third gear, which actually was good as the big service on the bike made the brakes so precise that I cherished the time needed to get accustomed to the new feel. I pulled into the garage just before 9:00pm, just before the night turned the sky black. The true test would come the next day. And, it came with a vengeance that was both excruciating and instructive. I couldn't walk straight. My thighs and the muscles in my legs were aching (I would rather give birth than to feel as I did). t took two days for my muscles/tissues to cease the fire within. Still, my progress could be overlooked if I just focused on the pain that had me frantically searching my cabinets for the very drugs I had sworn off.

But here's the big lesson: It took two days to recuperate from the Milwaukee 200+ miles trip compared to the two weeks it took me to get over the 300+ miles Michigan trip I took the Saturday over the Memorial Day holiday. I'd say this is tangible evidence of progress. Why my immune system throws off histamines and sends my body into hyper drive is beyond me. Fortunately, I now have some astute docs and together we are working on solving the mystery.

This down time has been good in many ways. First, I quit my research job that would try the patience of Biblical Job. I miss ONLY the money. The number of people I miss I can count on one hand with several fingers left over. It's been a good decision that has eliminated a boat load of stress. Trying to work in that environment was like trying to fit a big triangle into a small round space. This down time is also great for unlimited reading, that is, when the drug-induced brain fog has lifted. When clear of mind, I've done some serious thinking about all the things I've yet to do in this lifetime. One major decision I've made is an unequivocal recommitment to finishing an on and off again book I've been doodling on the life and times of Bessie B. Stringfield. I've accomplished more in the last month than I have in the last seven! I'm presenting a paper on Stringfield in November to the Social Science History Association; planning a trip (via plane, unfortunately) to Florida, where she lived; and, submitting a book proposal soon. The unanticipated time off has had some nice breakthroughs.

While I don't want to announce a full return to anything just yet, (since I still can't predict with any level of accuracy when and why these annoying “flare-ups” occur), I feel, at the moment that I'm on a healing path. I plan to show up here more often. Even some recent news that I would undergo a minor surgery procedure hasn't dampened my optimism. I had that procedure and learned that I do not need the more invasive surgery. Whew!

On a recent short ride to the grocery store, I had a distinct feeling of Que sera, sera (Whatever will be, will be).

So here's to a heartfelt thanks to everyone for your patience and concern. I am looking forward to catching up with you all soon.

I had a huge boost in energy this past weekend when I met up with the Chris and his lovely wife, whom I'll refer to as "Vee" —more about that fun soon.

25 comments:

cpa3485 said...

Here's a big YIPPEE! from me to you.

D. Brent Miller said...

I am so glad to hear from you. Lin and I were talking about how long it has been. We wish you well, and you are in our prayers.

SonjaM said...

Welcome back!!! I hope that your condition gets past regression into a full recovery. I wish you lots of strength to endure this, and yet find the power to ride. Be better soon. Best wishes from me to you.

Jeffry said...

So glad to read a post from you. May you continue to heal and get those wheels turning.

Richard Machida said...

It was good to read a post, I'm sure I wasn't the only one wondering how things were going. I hope you continue to improve so you can get off of all the pills. I know how that is...

bobskoot said...

Sharon:

I am so glad you are back. We all missed you. I am so very happy you are getting better and perhaps well enough to go for a ride once in a while . I missed you in Oregon and was often thinking about you during the trip

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Chris Luhman said...

Good post with some good pics to go with. I am glad you're feeling better! :)

Sojourner rides said...

Hi Jim,

Thanks for your inspiring email to me and your comment here--I appreciated that so much. I'll be looking in on you soon--did read about that motorcycle fatality--very sad.

Sojourner rides said...

Hi Brent,

Thanks! Please give Lin my regards. I miss checking in with you and your endeavors. I'm hoping to change that soon. Take care...

Sojourner rides said...

SonjaM--thanks!!
Thanks for your nice email to me when I was seriously down and out. I'm feeling your good wishes. Thanks so much. Ride safe. Looking forward to reading your adventures on your newish bike.

Sojourner rides said...
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Sojourner rides said...

Hi Jeffry,

Thanks for the well wishes. I'm so blessed to have such caring folks, many of whom I've never even met. One day we're going to have to meet up, given how close we live. Will be checking in on you soon.

Sojourner rides said...

Hi Richard,

Thanks for your good wishes. I agree about the pills. I've taken myself off all but one and I only use that occasionally. I am feeling better and better. I think a long healing ride is what I need.

Sojourner rides said...

Hi bobskoot,

I missed you too! And, thanks for your lovely email. I really wished I could have gone to Oregon but that was simply impossible. I hope our paths cross at some point. As my elders would say, "...in due time." Take care.

Sojourner rides said...

Hi Chris,

I think you and V sprinkled some vegan/vegetarian energy juice while you were here. My trips plans are becoming a serious possibility. I'm still feeling fine from Sunday and Monday. Not much riding on Tuesday but I'm heading somewhere today! The one thing I felt from Sunday is a difference in strength and adjusting to a new, bigger body. Can't wait to get back to my old self!

irondad said...

Bobskoot speaks truth. When we were all in Bend he and I were expressing our concerns for you.

When I saw you comment on my blog I nearly fell off my chair with delight!

Life's tough enough without our bodies turning on us and then being pumped full of poisons disguised as drugs. I can imagine what you are going through. Can't say I know exactly, though, since I'm not actually experiencing it.

It's up to you whether you blog or not. Although that's the only way some of us could hear how you are. Mostly I'm glad you see a light ahead.

If there is anything to the theory of karma and positive energy, there's a lot coming your way from all of us!

Fleeter said...

Sharon, Glad you are feeling better and entering back into the moto-world. Missed you. Hope to talk to you soon!
Claye

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sharon (Cupcake):

I did not write you any email at all since last May. My heart is still broken from the cruel and savage manner in which we last parted — in an crowded hotel lobby — when you wolfed down my lemon sorbet, popping the fresh raspberries from the side of the bowl into your mouth, finally saying: "Adios, Fatboy," when the last one was gone.

Actually, it was a triumph for me to lure you into a hotel in the first place.

And then there you were outside, on your Beemer, waiting for me. I came up to you with a look of expectancy, and you said, "Don't sweat on my bike, Blubbo."

How I wish I could see your face now! (Does it hurt to laugh? How can it?) One day you wake up, and you're cheated out of the one thing you like to do most. You want to scream. And then when you're through screaming, you find a way to make it work. (I bet you don't carry a cane in your top case.)

Your room is ready for when you ride out here to visit Valley Forge. If you come next July, I'll ride back with you to Chicago. But you're treating me to the sorbet next time.

Fondest regards,
Jack ®iepe
Some Big Hotel, Chicago

DenK said...

Good to hear from you again. I've been a reader of your blog for a while now and wondered what happened to your frequent posts.

I know how you feel. I was diagnosed with a lymphoma and haven't ridden since mid-June. A lack of blood cells and chemo treatments leaves me too fatigued to do much of anything. Starting to feel a bit better and may take a short ride tomorrow. Hang in there. Better days are coming.

Sojourner rides said...

Irondad, thank you. I appreicate your and other's concerns--makes me feel apart of this moto-blogger community.

I so appreciate the karma coming from this community. I'm working my way back and continue to feel better. Thanks again!

Sojourner rides said...

Hi Claye,

Thanks! Would love to talk to you soon. I'm still having a few minor setbacks but it seems like it's mostly me trying to figure this thing out. Feeling very strong. And, looking forward to this long weekend. Hope you're well.

Sojourner rides said...

jack--you always know how to make me laugh! I shall allow you to live with your dreams. We know the real deal--although I do admit to tasting a bit of your dessert. As I recall, you basically had to force me to taste it and as a good host, I obliged ;-)

It did hurt a tad when I first read this...but it was worth it. I miss you. I'm still trying to catch up--but I can get through a whole day without a nap!!

later--your best friend in Chicago (and probably your only).

Sojourner rides said...
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Sojourner rides said...

DenK, (I reposted this 'cause I erred on your name--not feeling my best today but trying...)

I panicked when I couldn't locate your email here--but I understand. I so appreciate you for stopping by and expressing your kindness. My heart goes out to you. Life gives us challenges. You are on my prayer list--hope you don't mind. Thank you so much for reaching out.

Stay strong, mentally, spiritually, and physically. Just know that I'm sending you some good vibrations.

Take care. I hope you get some time on two wheels soon.

BeemerGirl said...

HI Sojourner! Wow! I'm so sorry to learn of what you have been up against. I had a similar experience with lack of energy and sleeping for a couple months (Not MONO! :) ). I just didn't experience the pain. So I am glad to hear that you are feeling better and healing up. Hopefully getting back on the bike will speed the healing process. I enjoy your riding (and writing) and experiences and look forward to catching up on your past posts.

Hope you are feeling stronger by the day! -Lori