Up and About

11.30.2007 | 6:44 am


I’m proud of Susan for her efforts yesterday — she stood up and got around her room, with the help of crutches.

At first, people were insisting the walker would be easier, but they were forgetting: Susan’s been getting around on crutches for months now. Her upper body’s strong, and she’s very proficient with the crutches.

Today, In an hour or so, we’re meeting with the surgeon to figure out the pain medication plan, when Susan can get home, when we’ll get the pathology report on her bones, and so forth.

To tell the truth, Susan’s having a very tough time right now. She’s hurting really badly, and getting a major surgery like this right after several months of weekly chemo means she didn’t enter the hospital at her strongest. I’m hoping today’s a better day for her than yesterday.

I’m posting this X-Ray for those of you who wondered exactly how far down into her leg that spike goes. As you can see here, it goes practically to the top of her knee.


If Marriott Made a Hospital

11.29.2007 | 6:50 am

I’ve been really impressed with the courtesy and level of care Susan and I have been getting at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. The doctors and nurses all seem a little more professional, a little kinder, than you’d expect. Maybe it’s because they know that everyone they work on / with has a very serious, personal problem.

It’s a little thing, but yesterday as I hung out in the waiting room for five hours, I had fast Wi-Fi, which made entertaining myself with my iPhone a lot easier (I browsed the web, checked this site often, posted a couple of entries with pictures I took with the iPhone, watched the Wire, and downloaded and listened to a Brian Regan comedy album).

And a guy with a snack cart came by every hour or so. No charge.

Nothing, however, prepared me for the room Susan’s staying in. Here’s the big picture (all pictures pop to larger versions in separate windows):


Yes, that room actually has two giant windows, with a beautiful view of Salt Lake City. And it’s big. If I’d known it was going to be big enough for 8-10 people to comfortably hang out in, I’d have brought a bigger Christmas tree, instead of the sad little Charlie Brown Christmas Tree I figured would be the maximum size that would fit in a regular hospital room.

Here’s the chest of drawers / entertainment center:


If it weren’t for the hospital bed, you’d swear this was a Marriott. (Check it out: hardwood floors and crown moulding.)

And here’s the bathroom:


Yeah, that’s real tile. I can’t believe it either. This is the thing, though, that blew me away. Susan doesn’t just have a private room. It’s a private suite. Here’s her sitting room, where she can banish guests who are being to noisy or demanding to see the scar.


There’s a certain irony at work, here. Nobody wants to be a patient at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, because it means … well, it means you’ve got cancer. But if you’ve got to be here, they sure take care of you.

PS: I’m about to head back over to the hospital, where I will witness Susan beginning physical therapy. Wish her luck!

Susan’s New Hardware

11.28.2007 | 5:55 pm

Susan’s New Hardware

Originally uploaded by Fat Cyclist.

Susan’s got herself a fancy new hip. The surgery took a long time, but went well.

The surgeon says her hip wasn’t just cracked. It was full-on busted.

He said the ball just crumbled like balsa wood as he took it out.

I, for one, can’t believe Susan got along as well as she did for as long as she did.

I’ll continue to post little mini-entries like this over the next couple days using my iPhone. And I’ll be sure to pass along all the encouraging messages you’ve been sending her way. Thanks very much for your prayers, thoughts, and wishes on her behalf. They mean a lot to both of us.

It’s been quite a day. I’m exhausted.


11.28.2007 | 10:34 am


Originally uploaded by Fat Cyclist.

Surgery starts soon. Susan is actually looking forward to being
knocked out.

You know you’re hurting when you are excited for major surgery because
of the prospect of a decent nap.

Wherein I Compare and Contrast Recent American Tour de France Champions to my Wife

11.27.2007 | 7:12 am

From time to time, I post how things are going with my wife. But I don’t tell you everything, and sometimes I don’t tell you anything.

I haven’t, for example, gone into much detail about how much pain Susan’s in right now.

So you’ll just have to trust me that Susan wasn’t just being a pansy when, yesterday morning, she called the bone tumor specialist’s nurse and told her that she just couldn’t take it much longer.

The nurse, to her massive credit, immediately lined up an impromptu appointment with the specialist, then called Susan’s oncologist, and started investigating whether it would be possible to move Susan’s surgery up a week.

So yesterday Susan and I spent most of the afternoon talking with doctors, where we found that the crack in Susan’s left hip is spreading. We all agreed it would in fact be a good idea to do this surgery as soon as possible.

So when will Susan’s hip replacement be?


With this fairly big deal suddenly coming up, now seems like a good time to have a Susan-centric post. I’d therefore like you to consider some rather freaky parallels between Susan and the two most recent American Tour de France champions, Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis.

Comparison 1: Cancer Battles
Both Lance Armstrong and Susan have battled cancer.

  • Armstrong fought it once, as a single man, with responsibilities to nobody but himself.
  • Susan has fought it twice, with a husband and four children to take care of.

Advantage: Susan, by a mile.

Comparison 2: Cancer Awareness
Both Lance Armstrong and Susan have raised considerable quantities of money toward cancer survivorship.

  • Armstrong founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which has directly benefitted thousands and thousands of cancer survivors and their families. He has turned cancer research into a bona fide political issue for the 2008 US presidential election.
  • Susan has raised more than $6000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and has given a number of Fat Cyclist blog readers a reason to take up breast cancer research as a cause worth fighting for.

Advantage: Armstrong. Sorry, Susan, but you’ve got some catching up to do on this one.

Comparison 3: Hip Replacement
Floyd Landis had a hip replaced. Susan’s about to have a hip replaced.

  • Landis messed up his hip by falling off his bike and then letting the screws holding his hip together get rusty. Or something like that.
  • Susan messed up her hip by doing too much kickboxing as a teenager, and also because of that cancer thing.

Advantage: Susan. Unlike Floyd, Susan did everything she could to avoid the hip replacement, including radiation and hobbling along on it in spite of the fracture. Floyd, on the other hand, just let his old hip rot in its socket. That’s just gross, Floyd.

Oh, by the way, I may have made up that bit about kickboxing.

Comparison 4: Twins
Lance Armstrong is the father of six-year-old twin girls. Susan is the mother of (a completely separate set of) six-year-old twin girls.

  • Armstrong’s twins are fraternal. Also, Armstrong did not carry his twins around for 8-point-something months before they were born.
  • Susan’s twins are identical. As in, we give them different hairstyles so people can tell them apart, because otherwise it’s pretty much impossible. Susan carried the twins to about as close to full term as any mother ever has. And she continued to be a great mom to our two sons while she did it.

Advantage: Susan. You know what’s funny? During the first two years of the twins’ life, we thought that was going to be our big life test. Ha.

Comparison 5: Biking
Let’s see how Susan, Armstrong and Landis compare on their bikes.

  • Armstrong and Landis are remarkable athletes and can ride their bikes two levels of magnitude faster than you or I can.
  • Susan doesn’t have a bike. I bought her a nice Sugar 2 shortly before we found out she was pregnant with the twins, but she hasn’t really had a chance to ride it. However, even with everything we’ve been through, Susan doesn’t just tolerate that I ride and love bikes; she actively encourages and supports me.

Advantage: Me. For sure.

Comparison 6: Doping
Rumors and allegations of drug use have followed Armstrong, Landis, and Susan.

  • Landis was accused of an abnormal testosterone level, but he denies the charge and is fighting hard to overturn the ruling.
  • Armstrong has never been formally accused of taking any drugs, although he’s been informally accused so often it’s practically a sport of its own. Plus, being on drugs would explain the recent sightings with that girl from Full House.
  • Susan takes a lot of drugs. Chemo, Zometa, Avastin, antibiotics, Coumadin, EPO (yeah, my wife’s on EPO) and a veritable cornucopia of painkillers. Susan’s blood sample wouldn’t just raise a red flag when tested; it would raise a red flag, cause the klaxons and sirens to go off, and probably melt the vial it’s contained in. It’s entirely possible that WADA would not approve of Susan’s shenanigans.

Advantage: Susan. You’ve got to admire how brazen she is about her pill-popping ways.

Final Score: This one’s easy. The parallels are eerie, but Susan manages to come out ahead in almost all of them. She’s one tough mama.

She and I are both anxious, but also looking forward to getting this over with, so she can get back on her feet. With any luck, this will be the last major step in her treatment for a good, long time.

PS: I expect that a lot of you will be anxious to know how Susan does in tomorrow’s surgery. I can’t promise anything, but I will do my best to post an update in the late afternoon or evening.

PPS: Susan does read this blog, so if you’d like to get her a message of encouragement, the comment section’s an easy way to do it.

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