Saturday, September 25, 2010


This morning was the big triathlon. It's an annual event sponsored by our stake (I think) and the teachers and priests from all over the area are invited to participate. A few months back, when I was called to be in the Young Men's Presidency, I decided that I wanted to participate as an adult, in order to show some solidarity with the boys. The other two adult leaders with whom I work are athletic, so it made natural sense that the three of us could form a team to participate. The triathlon wasn't a full triathlon, as the swim was "only" 400 yards, the biking was 5 1/2 miles, and the run was about 3 miles. Having just finished training for a 5 k (~3.2 miles), I was quickly able to press the other two into participating with me to do the swim and the cycling.

Then I had my appendix out.

Despite my best intentions and my seemingly quick recovery, the doctor thought that participating in a triathlon that soon after my surgery would be a little too much too soon. When I told my wife the doctor's misgivings, she jumped on the bandwagon and made the directive to not participate even more strict.

So, I had arranged to participate in the triathlon with a team, and suddenly was no longer able to participate. I still am grumbly about that. The other two, bless them, planned to participate and one of them had one of his adult sons fill in for me. (Truthfully, I think he was pretty happy about it, because he didn't want to do the cycling -- his assigned piece of the triathlon -- and his son was more than happy to do it.)

So, instead of my smiling mug here, you get this:

In keeping with my general policy, I won't be naming names on who these people are in this space, but they know who they are. I'm jealous. That was supposed to be my team, but whatever. *pout*

Anyway, the morning started beautifully with nice and cool temperatures that slowly rose as the day went on. By the time the triathlon was finished, the temperature was in the 90s, so it ended well.

All told, we had the two leaders, two other non-leader adults, and 11 boys participate, most of them from the teachers quorum. Four of the boys did an "ironman", running the whole race themselves. And they did great.

I helped get them all registered and ordered and teamed up, and then pretty much just wandered around taking pictures the whole time. It was pretty fun capturing the candid moments. There was this one where the boys were acting cool before the race:

And this one where one of the leaders was posing with his two participating boys for his wife:

And this one where everybody was standing around just waiting for the first leg, the swimming, to start:

My personal favorite is this one where one of the boys was flirting with a few young women who were there:

After each leg, I tried to capture pictures of all the boys as they came out of the water, cycled to the end, or clambered home at the end of the run. By the end, everybody was hot and tired (even the non-racers, like me), and felt a sense of accomplishment.

There was one boy who felt he had let his teammates down, and another who had crashed on his bike during the cycling portion:

Even so, I think most people went home happy. I heard several of the non-racing adults occasionally mutter, "Maybe next year ..." It really did look like fun, though exhausting. If I'm still in my calling next year, I definitely plan to race, maybe even doing it iron man-style! Assuming I don't have to have my appendix out, that is ...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Something That Makes Me Happy

My youngest son loves cars and Legos and trains and anything even remotely related to wheels. He is also five years old, which means that he doesn't naturally clean up after himself. In fact, being who he is, he tends to pretty much drop whatever is in his hands where he happens to be. This means that we regularly find Lego parts and Hot Wheels cars all over the house. As a parent I'm supposed to get annoyed when this happens, but, truthfully, it actually brings great joy to my heart. I love finding these little treasures all over the house, and I know for a fact that one of these days I am really going to miss it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Insult to Injury

So I'm well enough after my appendectomy to finally go to work. Then I catch the flu.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Glorious Day!

Okay, so I had to mark today as a Glorious Day. There are certain times in your life when you reach very special and extraordinary milestones, and sometimes we let those times pass. Well, for me, I just had to record it for posterity: Finally, my oldest son has mowed both the front AND the back lawn! A truly Glorious Day!

If Ye Are Prepared ...

It is a mantra that I've applied to my life in many aspects, from being a Boy Scout as a youth to taking finals in college to gathering food storage for my family. The phrase "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear" comes from the Doctrine and Covenants and is found in the midst of a whole pile of instructions to The Church regarding caring for each other.

In the last few days, however, as I've contemplated the appendectomy that I just had, many people have asked me if I was afraid at the time, or if I was worried about it. I can honestly state that never once did I fear for my life during the whole ordeal. I felt truly and terribly awful, for sure, and in the throes of my agony I stated more than once that "I feel like I'm dying!", but never once did I consider that I would actually die.

I do have a healthy sense of self-preservation, though my wife would sometimes disagree when I express my desires to go bungee jumping or skydiving (I'm still forbidden by her, by the way ...). Perhaps I still have an "invincibility complex" that I've never quite grown out of from when I was a teenager. Or perhaps, worst of all, I just simply didn't imagine it was a possibility. (By the way, a failure of the imagination in failure-mode scenarios is a huge no-no at my place of work, and has literally lost spacecraft before.)

Either way, it never occurred to me. I fully recognized at that time that appendicitis was an infection that people used to regularly die from. One of my brothers even had a brush with death because of appendicitis. Even so, I let the nurses knock me out and wheel me off to the operating room with barely a backwards glance to my wife. I said no goodbyes and fully expected to see her within a blink of my eye.

In hindsight, I think I was prepared for the worst, so I never feared it would come. It's like putting fire alarms in your house -- it's a really, really good idea to have them, and pretty much everybody does, but nobody expects to actually need them. Indeed, the only time most people pay attention to them is when the "low-battery tweet" starts to go off at 3 am (why is it always in the middle of the night?!).

My own preparations for the worst include the following, from short-term to long-term:
  • I have piles of sick leave available at work. I'm a generally healthy person so this has just accumulated over time.
  • I can do much of my work remotely, if need be, by computer and by phone, so I didn't worry about being gone for a long time to recover.
  • I have two very good and reliable wing-men for my calling at church on whom I can wholeheartedly rely for everything.
  • I have a will that clearly states my beneficiaries.
  • I have enough life insurance that would pay off all my debts and keep my family in order for several years.
  • My wife knows where all the important documents are kept.
  • My wife knows all the important passwords for my online life (financial websites included and especially).
  • My wife knows where to bury me, if that needs to occur (though we haven't purchased lots, yet -- we still think we're a little young for that and we don't know where life will eventually take us in the long run).

In the midst of all these preparations, my ultimate demise, while a serious blow to my little family, would not leave them uncared for. And while I am certainly nowhere near being perfect, I feel sufficiently comfortable in my religious well-being that the prospect of "moving on" does not fill me with absolute dread.

This is not to say that I feel "ready", not by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, I still feel like I have so much to do before that eventuality occurs! However, the saying is true: "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear". Trust me, I just tested it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Appendectomy - 7 Days Later

My state of being, 7 days after having my laparoscopic appendectomy:
  • There is still no pain around any of my incisions. However, I recently went off all my pain medications, and I've noticed that the tape covering the incisions occasionally grabs the skin and hurts a little (big deal, I know, but hey!). I also notice that when I press on the incision sites, two of them do not cause pain, but the third, which is just below my belly-button, causes me to pause.
  • The itching from the hair regrowing on my belly has been slowly decreasing. It is still a regular nag in the back of my consciousness, but it's getting better.
  • Bowel movements and other associated acts are regular now. No pain or other issues at all.
  • Urinating is normal now. No pain or other issues at all.
  • My stomach still makes some weird gurgly noises on occasion as my innards continue to reorient themselves.
  • My appetite is still not full-strength -- hovering around 80%, I think. Of course, since I'm just sitting around all day, this is probably good.
  • My shoulder joints still hurt all the time right now. In fact, it got so bad that I went in to see the doctor on Sunday evening. The doctor wasn't very helpful and basically told me to tough it out, which I expected. She did give me a prescription for slightly more powerful pain medication (very slightly), which I ended up taking only once. On Monday morning, I elected to go cold turkey on the pain meds and see what happened. I did all right through the day, and kept a hot pad handy to put on the most offending shoulder. As of now, I'm no taking any of the prescription pain meds, but I did take some Tylenol.
  • Breathing is normal, with deep breathing possible now. Occasionally I still get a catch in my chest when I lay funny and my shoulders are giving me trouble, but I'm doing much better here.
  • The bruising on my largest incision appears to be healing. From the last post, I expected the bruise to widen across my stomach, but it appears to be dissipating now. Things are looking much better, and the redness and swelling is almost all gone now.
  • I only took one nap yesterday. That's progress.
  • My weight is currently 3 pounds below where I was before the surgery, and I expect it to stay steady as my appetite rises commensurate with my activity level.
  • My range of motion is pretty good, but I'm creaky. I raised my arms earlier to stretch and got all sorts of interesting popping noises through my chest and back. I think this is a side-effect of the largely sedentary life-style I've been living.
  • I can lay down without issue, on either side, though sometimes I still need to reconsider when I'm having certain shoulder problems. I still have not attempted to lay on my stomach.

All in all, I'm feeling better than I was, except for the lingering aches in my shoulders.

In other news, some of the kids from the ward came over last night to do 20 minutes of service. My wife had them wash the windows on the back of the house, which they did well. It was nice to see them, and I'm grateful for their service.

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