21 July 2020

I had plans to rack up some miles this past weekend. I did 10 on Saturday with every intention of doing 15-20 on Sunday because why not? I had a list of things on YouTube to watch while I pedaled my little heart out, and when those were done, I have roughly 20,000 things on Netflix, CBS All Access, and Prime to plow through.

The weather was good enough that I could have gone outside, but I'm sticking close to home because Max is all over the place on how well he's doing and if he'd come out of his room to tell me he wanted food, well, I was damn well going to be there to get him something to eat.

So Saturday night I took my benedryl at 9pm, and at 10:15--just long enough for it to start working--I was ready to shut the computer down and go read in bed for a bit.

But my phone rang. No one calls me. Caller ID said it was the Spouse Thingy, so I picked up, curious, because he would text, not call.

It was not the Spouse Thingy. It was a co-worker telling me that he was on his way down to the ER. He'd gotten lightheaded in the middle of a case, his heart rate was up, he felt nauseated, so they'd slapped him on a gurney and she was walking down with him. And then she handed me his phone so he could talk to me...and I couldn't understand anything he was saying.

Worth noting, I usually can't understand what people are saying on a phone. But I can him. He and the Boy have voices within my frequency range, and normally I don't have to guess what they're trying to tell me.

This time his voice was staccato, and I wasn't sure if he was slurring his words or not. I could feel my BP rise, and my own voice jacked up a bit, trying to get him to talk to me, but the call went dead.

And he didn't answer when I called back. Twice.

It's 10:15 at night, I'm night blind, the hospital is 30 minutes away, and I don't know what the hell is going on. So I texted the Boy and told him I would probably need a ride, what I knew so far, and I tried to not panic.

I threw pants on, took my other meds, and waited.

The phone rang again, and my damned DND kicked in and sent the call to voice mail, but I knew it was the hospital so I tried dialing back. All the person who answered could tell me was that he was just triaged and admitted, and someone would call back.


It rang again, this time Mike's co-worker. She was able to give me more details: he had not been slurring his words, but they'd gone into an elevator and lost reception. The trip to the ER seemed precautionary given the symptoms, and she called a nursing supervisor to see what protocols where in place, whether I could even go into the hospital or not.

Last week, I could have. This week, no.

So I texted the Boy again and told him I wouldn't even be able to get in to be with the Spouse Thingy, and eventually--after him calling me because texting takes too much time when you don't know what the hell is going on--someone handed the Spouse Thingy a working landline.

He felt a lot better but had gotten seriously lightheaded, to the point where he had to ask for someone to come in and take over his case, and he needed help getting out of the OR. The dizziness and nausea were a little too familiar; he'd had the same thing a couple times in the last 6 weeks or so, the other times resulting in him horking his toenails up and spending a day in bed.

I Googled the shit out of it while he waited in the ER for lab results--they were ruling out a cardiac event just to be sure--and landed on benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It was familiar because a friend had just gotten the same diagnosis following a trip the the ER. I texted him again, ask about that, and he replied that it had already been brought up as a possibility. But he was feeling much better, it had just become a matter of waiting for the second cardiac enzyme test before he could be released.

The Boy waited at home, awake, because there was a chance we'd need to go up there and get him. But by the time he was released, he felt okay enough to drive.

By the time he got home it was nearly 4 in the morning or thereabouts. He was hungry, so the nausea had abated. He wasn't dizzy anymore. And he was fine to go to work Sunday night.

Someone had to get up to feed the cats, and that someone was me. At 8:30. After 3-3.5 hours of sleep. So no, riding 20 miles was not going to happen. And yes, I did just make this all about me.

And no I have not made up those miles or any others yet. Between that and Max stress, I have not felt like it.


This is the scary thing: if someone you care about has an emergency you will not be allowed to go with them. You might be the one to drop them off, but you will not enter the hospital, and you will wind up waiting for a very long time to get even a tiny bit of information. If he hadn't been a hospital employee, there's no telling how long I would have sat here, terrified that he was having a stroke or heart attack--because those are the things I worried most about--and if it had been something major, he would have been alone.

Wear your masks when you're in public, people. Even if you think this is all overblown bullshit. Wearing a mask helps calm the fears that others have, and it doesn't hurt you. And maybe if we all get on board and just do it, the infection rates of everything will drop, and we can get back to a sense of normal...and if the worst happens to someone you love you'll at least be able to be with them.

Consider it an act of kindness.

Not an inconvenience, not a violation of your rights, not caving into hysteria.

Just an act of kindness.

I'm lucky. The Spouse Thingy is all right. He may go wonky and barf a few more times, but he's all right. Someone else might not be as lucky, and let me tell you, the feeling of impotence in this situation is hard.


15 July 2020

Clean black shirt, clean black shorts, so of course the cat with white fur decides life will not be any fun at all until he sits on my lap, rubs up against my shirt, and leaves a ton of evidence behind.

And once he's done that, he's done with me.

Because of course he is.


We had a really rough weekend with Max, you can read more about it in his Ask Max column on Mousebreath. Short version: I did not expect him to be here Monday morning. And while he's okay now, Sunday night was super hard on him, and it just hit home with me that I am not ready for any of this, not yet.

We're trying to keep the mindset of one day at a time, and today is a good day.


We're also asking ourselves what the hell we do if he dies at home on a weekend. When the time comes I would prefer he just drift away in his sleep, but what do we do with him if it's Saturday night and the vet is closed until Monday? We're not burying him because he's always been terrified of outside and it seems wrong. I want his ashes. But what the hell does one do with a body for 48 hours?


Yes, it's morbid. But it's also something we have to consider.


In a not as depressing mode...I've seriously started thinking about how to handle the 300 mile goal I set for September's Great Cycling Challenge. The obvious is 10 miles a day, every day, but I need rest days at least every 4th day. So then what, 10 three times a week, 15 three times a week? I'm not sure I can do that, either.20 five times a week? I know I can't do that.

I mean, I'll figure it out, but I think I may have set the bar too high.


I had my first flat in a bazillion years this weekend. Changing the tube should have been easy, should have taken under 10 minutes, but I wrestled with that sucker for far longer than I care to admit. I could not get the tire back on. I know, you only unseat one side of the tire, but the tire had its own ideas and came all the way off and did not want to go back on.

I better hope it never happens out in the middle of nowhere. This was at home, so at least I wasn't sitting out in the blazing sun screaming at an uncooperative chunk of rubber.


One day I'll either upgrade my current road bike and use this one to break things on so I can learn how to fix the, or I'll find the ideal beater. But I really need to learn more basic repair beyond changing handlebars and stems. I can take the back wheel off, though, so that's something.

(Yes, mock me.)

(Anyone can do that. I'm not sure why I was reluctant before. Probably because I wasn't sure exactly how the derailleur and chain were on.)

(I could have, you know, looked. But that makes sense, so...)


And lastly...what the hell is up with soft drink distribution? Caffeine-free diet DP, diet Crush, diet cherry DP...nowhere to be found. I know coins are in short supply, but why soda? I need my fix. Especially the diet Crush. I'm feeling kinda twitchy here, folks.


11 July 2020

^HISS...or...I never want another flat ever again...^

Fine, so I felt accomplished over a stupid little fix to my bike. And it made a huge difference. I swapped the bike stems; yesterday I realized the tires were a bit low, pumped them up, and did my 15 miles.

I finished that ride (on the trainer) around 2 pm.

Last night at roughly 9 pm, as I sat here in my comfy chair, surfing Reddit despite my initial intention to, you know, work, I heard this sudden, very loud, click-hissssssss, as if a nest of rattlesnakes had spontaneously appeared under the treadmill and were very, very unhappy about being stuck there. Poor Buddah damn near jumped out of his skin but instead of running and hiding, he carefully crept toward the sound, which made me wonder if perhaps, something was under the treadmill.

But no...my rear bike tire had committed suicide.

It was dead, Jim. Very, very dead.

I was not going to change a tube at 9pm. I have spare tubes on hand because at one point I decided it was a good idea to have spare tubes on hand, but I haven't changed an inner tube in 25+ years, and the last one I changed was on a bike with wide, user-friendly tires and my gut said this was a little different.

Face it, 25+ years ago we shoved screwdrivers between the tire and the rim to break the bead, not worrying about rim damage because those suckers were steel and sturdy. It was brain-dead easy, but because of the width of the tire I expected it to be a little tougher, given that there's not nearly enough material to work with.

So to You Tube I went, where the good folks at Global Cycling Network have videos for pretty much anything you need, and I watched as Simon Richardson showed me how to change an inner tube on a skinny tire, and I was confident that I could do it. It looked freaking easy: pull one side of the tire back, insert tire levers, get just one side of the tire off--leave the other side--pull the old tube out, put the new (slightly inflated) tube in, then re-seat the side of the tire you've unseated.


No problem, I can do that.

So this morning, like a champ, I got the rear wheel off, pulled one side of the tire back, used my levers, got it off all the way around...and the whole tire came off.

Should be no problem, right? Just put that side back on as if I were installing a whole new tire.

Except it would not stay on. I'd get it in place, the new tube in, try to seat the other side, and off it would all pop again.

Fine, this side of the tire hates me, I'll do it from the other side.

The other side hated me just as much. The more times I tried, the more that entire wheel hated me.

I ran out of things from the Bad Word List to say.

I don't even want to count how many times I tried and failed to get that tire back on, but it took me well over an hour before I settled on a solution. And I sure as hell don't want to have to do this on the side of the road, like, ever. Not without a whole lot more at-home practice...which I will eventually do, once this bike is no longer my primary ride.

On the plus side, I don't think Buddah is going anywhere near the bike for a while, so hopefully I won't be dealing with as much cat barf on the trainer pad.

No, really, that little shit has gone out of his way to get from wherever he happens to be, just so he can hork onto the pad upon which my trainer and bike sit. And it doesn't just wipe up. No, I have to clean up his mess and then drag the freaking Spot Bot out to get it all.

Same thing with the treadmill, which he has so generously baptized a time or two.

So here's to hoping that explosive hiss was enough to keep him away from it for a while.

(I'm not holding my breath.)


10 July 2020

Odds-N-Endz #66.666^6

While I've got the next book 80% done (absent a few rewrites) I have not done a lot of writing in the last week or so, and apparently I have upset His Majesty, who was sure the editor would have it in hand my now.

He's also upset because instead of working, I rearranged the office and workout equipment again, which actually works out to his benefit--his bed under the desk is significantly more private now--but he was not consulted and, well, he's a cat. He's not happy.

If he's in a better mood, we'll get back to it tonight.

If he's not. Well, there's a lot of TV I could watch.


This was one of the distractions. I freaking love this bike but have had neck and shoulder pain on more rides than not, and after more than 1100 miles on it, I decided I needed to be a little more upright. The easiest solution seemed to be raising the handlebars, so I bought a stem with a 35 degree angle (as opposed to the stock 7 degree) and installed it last night.

Stupidly, this little fix made me feel wicked accomplished. And it worked. I did a 15 mile ride on the trainer today and was relatively comfortable. Usually I start feeling pain between my shoulder blades at about the 20 minute mark and my hands hurt; today the only soreness was from the new position (different muscle use, I think) and it wasn't bad at all. My hands never hurt.

Hell, even my ass was happier.


An oddity, even for me: I fell asleep easily last night. Turned the light out at 11:30 and was probably asleep by 11:40. That rarely happens.

So of course my brain decides I can't have it that good, and woke me up a little before 3 with the sound of a doorbell. It was so freaking real, but instead of wondering who would ring it at 3 in the morning--is there an emergency?--my first thought was "Did the Spouse Thingy order pizza?"

I got up to get a drink, and sadly, there was no pizza. He was watching TV, not eating,not hiding a cheesy delivery from me. I was kinda disappointed.


And now I want pizza.


There's the rub about riding more...I am freaking hungry all the time. Now I know how Max feels.

I did 15 today. Maybe ice cream is in my very near future.


8 July 2020

Sweet. I wanted something to replace walking for a charity this year, something localish but not in a giant cluster of people, something that raises money for a good organization, and found a virtual bike event.

This one kind of fell into my lap, and it seemed like a no-brainer since its purpose is to raise money for children's cancer treatment. It's the Great Cycle Challenge, and I freaking lucked out that it was delayed this year, otherwise I would have missed it.

The GCC raises money for the Children's Cancer Research Fund, and I get to keep my hair.

Participants set their own mileage goals to be done in September, and my stupid brain said, hey, I can do 300 miles! I'm pretty much a 50 mile a week rider and this would add 100 miles onto that. 20 miles a day for 5 days every week. I was not thinking...

I mean I can change my goal, but I'm going to shoot for it anyway. By the end of the month my legs damn well better be like steel bands...

And the best thing! If I raise $2500, which I set as my minimum goal, I'll get a spiffy Spider-man bike jersey.

It was designed by the kids...hellz yes I want it.

So the rest of this month and August will be dedicated to building my mileage so that I have the endurance for this. Also trying to think of good ways to fundraise...g'head, think of a way to embarrass me. I do things for donations.

If you want to donate--it's tax deductible!--just clicky [HERE].