Your Health is Your Wealth; A reminder to be thankful

So, what’s Jamie’s kitchen strainer doing on the toilet? Well, that’s an interesting story.

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A few weeks back on my birthday, July 22nd, I ran a 25K in the desert outside of Phoenix. It was over 110-degrees, and I got a little dehydrated. All week after the race, I felt lethargic. I always feel bad after I do long runs, but this time it was worse. I took it easy for a few days, but on Sunday the 30th, I decided it was time to get moving. I decided to do some sailing.

The sailing was fun, but it was a lot of work. I took along my buddy, Scott. I needed an extra set of hands because I was going to do something I had never done before. I was going to sail with only my headsail. My sailboat is a variety called a Sloop. It’s powered by a mainsail and a headsail. Another name for a headsail is a jib or a genoa. I ripped my mainsail a couple of weeks ago and the sail is still in the shop. Knowing there might come a time when I’m at sea and have to sail with only the headsail, I decided to go ahead and figure it out.

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When Scott and I arrived at the boat, it was well over 100 degrees. I did a bunch of work on the boat before Scott arrived. I was drenched in sweat! I knew I wasn’t drinking enough, so I made an effort o drink more before we left the dock. I rigged the boat with the headsail, and we headed for open water. Once in the bay, I messed around a lot with the rigging of the sail. This was the first time for me to use this particular sail. We wrapped up sailing around 6pm and I headed back to town. It was another good day on the ocean.

At around 10pm, I was in the kitchen getting a drink of water before heading to bed. I remember telling Jamie that I think something is wrong because it seems like I can’t get enough to drink. I went on to bed and as usual, fell asleep in about 20 seconds.

At around 130 PM, I woke up with a weird pain in my back. It was on my right side. I lay there for a minute, and it seemed to be getting worse. I got up and walked around and the pain intensified. Five minutes later, I woke up Jamie and told her that something was wrong. A few minutes after that I started feeling like I was going to throw up. That’s when we called my sister, the doctor. Between Jamie and my sister, the diagnosis was either appendicitis or a kidney stone. Either way, I was headed for the E.R.

As we drove to the E.R., the pain increased. I remember at one point begging Jamie to please start running the red lights. When I got to the E.R., I was in the worst pain in my entire life. I was shaking uncontrollably and throwing up. They got me in the back quickly and gave me pain medicine through my I.V. Once the pain was under control, they wheeled me in for a Cat Scan. I had a 2-mm kidney stone. I remember thinking, “How can something so small hurt so bad.” We stayed at the E.R. for a while longer and I was then discharged. By the time I got home, the high-powered pain medicine was gone. It would be several hours before I could get additional pain medicine from my pharmacy. It was hell on earth.

For three days I was in pain. On Thursday, it started to diminish. On Friday, I went to my urology doctor who’s taken care of me since my cancer surgery. He said we were going to try and let the stone pass naturally. We also determined that it was a combination of dehydration and all of the electrolytes and salt pills I take when I do long-distance races that caused the stone. He told me to take it easy for a while and that we would follow up in 2 weeks. I took it easy for a couple of days. On Saturday, I went to help Jamie with a community event. I lifted a few cases of water and the pain started. I spent the next 3-hours on the floor in her office while she worked the event. On Sunday, I went to the boat and did a little work. When my side started hurting, I called it a day.

This week has gone pretty well. On doctor’s orders, I drink about 2 gallons of water per day. All it seems I do as of late is drink water and pee. I started back doing some walking on Tuesday. On Thursday, I did 4 miles of a fast walk. It came out to about a 14-minute per-mile pace which is fine. You see, I’ve got some unfinished business to attend to. I didn’t completely fulfill my intentions in Phoenix. I have to make this right. That‘s why I’m signed up to do a big run today. It’s an off-road run on a ranch about 60 miles away from Houston. It’s going to be hot! It’s also a big one; An ultra. Right now, my only commitment is to toe the starting line. We will see how it goes.

I always say, “Your health is your wealth.” So, the kidney stone hit me on Sunday, the 30th. That morning, I woke up at about 630 AM and went out for a run. The night before, Jamie and I had gone to a Steve Miller concert in The Woodlands. Instead of driving home, we stayed the night at a hotel adjacent to the concert venue. The Woodlands is a beautiful place to run with all of the canals. It reminds me of the San Antonio Riverwalk. I listen to music when I run and the song “Need A Favor” by Jelly Roll came on. The hook in the song is, I only talk to God when I need a favor. The other night when I was in the E.R. in pain, I did some talking to God. I’ve also done some talking to God lately concerning some friends who are dealing with cancer. When I had cancer, I did a lot of God-talk then too. As Jelly Roll says in his song, “And I only pray when I ain’t got a prayer.” Listening to this song spurs me to ask myself the question, why am I not more thankful for having my health in good times? I should be thankful all of the time. During the remainder of my run that morning, I thought deeply about this. In fact, I talked about it to Jamie on the drive home. Ironic, huh? In the morning, I’m feeling great and recognizing that I should be more thankful for having my health, and then 18 hours later I am in the E.R. in the worst pain of my life. Maybe that was the Universe sending me a reminder. At any given time, you’re only a blink of an eye from your world being turned upside down; Good or bad.

I’ve done quite a bit of talking to God in the past week. Not so much for me but for my friends who are going through so much right now. Maybe the act of praying regularly is a way to remind yourself to be thankful? Maybe regular prayer isn’t so much about talking to a higher power as it is an outward gesture and reminder to be thankful for what you have.

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Okay, enough with the deep thoughts. Time to officially and completely fulfill my intentions. The run today is called the Habanero. It starts at noon, in the heat of the day. My son is coming in tonight from Austin. We are going to go sailing tomorrow. I can’t wait. He’s never sailed with me before. In fact, he’s never sailed. As for the kidney stone, hopefully, it will pass soon. I’m sure Jamie wants her strainer back (HA!!). By the way, consider this an open invitation to join us for spaghetti night every Tuesday! Okay, I’ll get her a new pee-free strainer. She’s reminded me that her kitchen is not a medical equipment supply store. A couple of weeks ago, I used her 13×9 Pyrex baking dish to soak my foot in an effort to save my toenail. That was a failure on both accounts. She was mad I used her dish and I lost the toenail anyway. Speaking of the toenail, I have an appointment with a foot doctor on Monday. I can’t wait to show him the video of me removing the toenail with a boxcutter. I think he’ll be impressed!

As always, I hope you Find Your Adventure and Live Your Life. Time to get ready to head out and test the limits of the human spirit, as well as my messed up big toe and kidney. It’s going to be a good day. Amen.

PS-Why the strainer on the toilet? The doctor told me that I should try and capture the stone so it can be analyzed.

PPS-I sent a golfing buddy of mine an apology the other day. His name is Mel. He was a member of our traveling BBQ Tour 4-man golf team. Back in about 2001, Mel showed up to a tournament with back pain. He said he didn’t know if he could play. We gave him a hard time. He played. By the 3rd hole. the pain was getting worse. At the turn, he was bad. We told him he needed to stay. We were doing great and at the very least he could just sit in the cart and putt. We would take care of the rest. At the 16th hole, Mel said he couldn’t take it any longer. He left and went to the hospital. He had a kidney stone. Again, I looked up Mel this week on Facebook and sent him an apology. He thought it was funny.