I think I’ve mentioned before that for a long time I’ve been considering writing a book. Originally, I had the idea of it being a lot like this blog, but more … ummm … bookish. During the past few weeks, though, what my book needs to be about has become a lot more clear.
It needs to be about you.
Fat Cyclist readers have shown me exactly how good people can be, to people they’ve never even met. The support Susan and I have received from you doesn’t seem at all like a group of random individuals reading something I write a few times per week.
It feels like a neighborhood.
And that’s pretty amazing to me. Definitely something worth writing about. So I’m working on revising my book proposal. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Meanwhile, I think one of the important virtues of a neighborhood is that everyone pitches in when they see that someone else in the neighborhood needs help. You all have done this for me in dozens of ways.
And now I want to do something good, too. Something good for you, and also good in the fight against cancer.
I’m just starting to work out what it is and how we’ll make it work, but I’m pretty sure you’ll find it a fun way to join your neighbors in doing something really good.
I’m excited, and that’s a nice change right now.
I’ll explain soon. Tomorrow, hopefully.
I have not been keeping track of how often, each day, I ask Susan, “Is there anything I can do for you?” But I think it may be too often, because she answers, “No, I’m just as comfortable now as I was ten minutes ago.”
I can’t help it. I’m desperate to make things better for her, even if in small ways.
And, during last weekend, I have.
The Worst Remote in the World
The hospital bed we have set up in what was formerly our living room is really good to have. Because of it, Susan is always close to the family. It’s easy for me to get her food (the kitchen is in the adjoining room). She has a great view of our cul-de-sac, which is where all the neighborhood kids play.
The bed itself is comfortable, too; the head and feet can be raised at the touch of a button.
And that’s where the problem is.
Allow me to introduce you to what I consider the worst remote ever designed:
First of all, those blister-style buttons are entirely invisible in low light, and you would (not) be surprised at how often one encounters a low light situation when one is in bed.
Second, can you tell which button raises your head? Yeah, the top-left one. I’ll bet you got that one right. And which button lowers your head? If you guessed the bottom-left button — the button that shows a lowered head — you guessed wrong. No, the button that lowers the head is the blister button at the top-right: the one that shows lowered feet.
Oh, and it gets better. To raise your feet, you press the button over the lowered head. Yes, really. And the worst one is: to lower your feet, you press the button showing raised feet. That’s right: that bottom-right button does exactly the opposite of what it shows.
If you’re confused by this now, consider how you might feel trying to decipher this thing if you were really sick and not thinking at your clearest.
I’m sorry; I need a moment to let my blood pressure return to normal. I tend to take stuff like this a little personally right now.
Anyway, here is how I rectified the problem, using sticker dots and some tape:
Problem solved. I’m a hero.
Bike Tech Rules
Another problem Susan’s got is getting enough to drink. She’s weak, she’s tired, and her hands shake. It’s a big effort for her to raise her head, find, lift and sip from a cup or bottle.
Here is my solution:
There’s a lot of clutter in that picture, so I’ll explain.
- I ziptied a carabiner-style keychain holder to the rail on Susan’s bed.
- I hung a Camelbak water bottle from the carabiner.
- I added a Camelbak drink tube adapter to the water bottle.
- I ziptied another carabiner to the rail as a place to hang the bite valve.
The result? A non-leaking, non-dribbling, non-spilling way to drink that Susan can easily find even in the dark. She doesn’t have to lift a bottle or cup, and can just let the bite valve fall out of her mouth when she’s done.
I believe this may be the best use of Camelbak technology, ever. I’m surprised that they don’t have setups like these in hospitals; they’re much easier for a sick patient to get to than a traditional cup.
I can’t help but think that my solution to this problem is strongly tied to what I know: I’m a cyclist, so of course I solved this problem using zipties and a Camelbak drink tube.
So: hooray for bike tech and its applications in the real world.
I won’t be going to Fall Moab this weekend. I need to stay home and take care of Susan. (Quick aside here: when I say "I need to stay home and take care of Susan," I mean that literally. As in, this is something I need, not something Susan needs. The truth is, I could probably find someone to stay with and watch after Susan, but I simply don’t want to. Right now it’s very difficult for me to go to work or the grocery store or anywhere else. Leaving Susan for a full day — never mind three days — just isn’t going to happen.)
The core team, being the kind of people the core team is (are?), actually bandied about some email suggesting they have Fall Moab locally or postponing it. I put the kibosh on those ideas, for very good reasons:
- There’s half a foot of snow on the ground in the valley. Probably more like a foot up in the mountains.
- If any of them were having difficulties at home, that wouldn’t stop me from having fun.
- I’m expecting them to send me stories, photos, and film of glorious carnage.
So, while I will not be attending Fall Moab, I do have some valuable advice for those who will, based on years of experience.
- Be prepared for snoring. An odd thing has happened over the ten-or-more-year history of our annual Fall Moab trip: we’ve become middle-aged. Those of us who have always snored, now snore louder. Those of us who used to not snore, now do. So if you’re bothered by other people’s snoring, you might want to bring earplugs. Or Lunesta. Or — if Kenny’s snoring gets really, really bad (and it will) — a pellet gun.
- How to properly prepare bratwurst. There’s no secret or trick to making great bratwurst, but everyone acts like it’s a religious revelation when they have a good one. So here’s how it’s done. Use Budweiser to boil the brats, with an onion chopped in and a half bottle of Worcestershire sauce poured in. Simmer for at least half an hour, and for much longer if you feel like it — up to an hour, if you feel like it. Then grill over charcoal or wood. Not gas. Serve with a good bun (Kenny’s homemade bread is the best) and Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard.
- Dare Tom To Do Dumb Stuff. While the rest of us have figured out that we’re middle aged, Tom is convinced he just left school and could still play college-level rugby. So, tell him to try moves that are very dangerous, and then get out the cameras and roll tape. (Bonus tip: Issue the most outrageous challenges only when you have a good cell signal.)
- Have Some Duct Tape Handy. I understand BotchedExperiment will be riding for the first time since he nearly cut off his leg. If you hear a flap-flap-flapping sound, that’s probably his quad becoming unattached from his leg. Duct tape should be sufficient for holding it in place, at least until you finish the ride.
- Don’t freak Nick out . Nick will be joining you for his first Fall Moab ever. He comes from Australia and is therefore unprepared for exactly how bizarre a bunch of Utahoos can be when their wives and ecclesiastical authorities are not watching.
- Ignore Kenny When He Says Something’s "Not That Far." The difference between Kenny’s perception of how far something is and how far something actually is, is very great indeed.
- Take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. And video.
Oh, and above all, spend lots of time talking about how much better the trip would be if only Fatty were along.
I think it’s been at least a week since I’ve been on a bike. Probably more like ten days, really.
But I’ve developed an awesome new move, one which I am extremely proud of.
Specifically, I am able to help Susan move out of the bed and into a wheelchair — smoothly and efficiently.
Furthermore, I am able to also do this move in reverse, moving Susan from her wheelchair into an easy chair or her bed.
I make it look easy. I’m that good.
I admit, though, that it took some practice for me to get this move right. Not too long ago I would grapple and struggle, bruising my (patient) wife while I tried to figure out how I had managed to plop Susan face-down on the bed. Or nearly drop her on the floor.
But not now. Now I cleanly and elegantly help Susan get to where she wants to be, with what appears to be no fuss at all — and with a bare minimum of discomfort on Susan’s part.
I have never been so proud of mastering a move in my entire life.
PS: The New Fat Cyclist gear — jerseys, arm warmers, shorts, and the wool jersey pre-order — are still available, though some sizes have sold out. Check out what you can get here. Also, a reminder: Twin Six is (absurdly generously) donating to me 50% of the purchase price of all (not just Fat Cyclist) Men’s XL-and-larger and Women’s L-and-larger jerseys. If you’ve been wanting to both get a jersey and help defray some of my expenses, this is a really great way to do it.
Earlier today I posted that Twin Six was being really thoughtful by passing along all the profits for the XL-and-larger Fat Cyclist jerseys on to me to help defray hospital and ambulance costs.
Well, it turns out I was mistaken.
They are much, much, more thoughtful than I expected.
What they’re actually doing is, this week, sending Susan and me 50% of the purchase price ($35 per jersey) for any Twin Six jersey sold in Men’s XL-and-larger and Women’s L-and-larger.
I called and verified, because I simply cannot believe it, but it’s true. This week, every Twin Six Clydesdale and Athena jersey is a Fat Cyclist jersey.
Brent and Ryan are the coolest.
PS: Be sure to check out the Twin Six home page. I admit, it choked me up.
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