At the end of 2011, my oncologist had declared I was in remission.  Shortly afterwards, my brother and his girlfriend came to visit.  He had been down to visit several times while I was sick.  He spent a lot of time in the hospital with me along with his girlfriend and Danielle.

The WatchAt the visit after I was declared cancer free, he gave me a watch.  The watch pictured to the left.  When he gave it to me, he said it is meant to symbolize new beginnings and the time I have in front of me.  The watch is really beautiful, and I wore it to my cousin’s wedding in 2012.  I didn’t wear it much after that because it’s such a nice watch;  I was afraid of damaging it at work.

Since then, a lot of things have happened.  My brother and his girlfriend are now husband and wife.  I had gotten divorced about a year ago.  Danielle has moved to another state and has a new love of her life.

I had resigned myself to a life possibly alone.  I had written before about how I felt, being single and “broken.”  Cancer was gone (and still is) but the collateral damage made me feel not particularly desirable.  Being 46 didn’t help either.

Recently, I started wearing the watch again.  I started wearing it after I showed it to my new girlfriend.  My new girlfriend who makes me feel everything but “broken.”  The watch had stopped running over the years in storage.  But the watch has eco-drive.  All it needed was a little light to get it started up again.  A little light to give it life.

The moment wasn’t lost on me.

So I wear the watch to work now, careful of not scratching it.  I like what it tells me besides what time it is.  My brother was right about new beginnings; he’s a smart guy that way.



Posted in Cancer, Ostomy, Thoughts | 6 Responses


What to say about exercise?

As a guy who has been heavy most of his life, and honestly, if we’re going by that dick BMI chart, obese and morbidly obese, (I technically don’t think a chart can really be a dick, but it sure does feel like it.  That thing has been mocking me my entire life!  Even when I lost a crazy amount of weight and people were wondering if I was sick from all the weight loss, it was telling me I was still “obese”, not even just plain “over weight”… that’s a dick move if you ask me!) I have always struggled with exercise.  Here are a few reasons why.

Before I get started, I want to point out that these are my reasons and I think some of them may resonate with people who struggle with weight.  For those of you who don’t have these issues, kudos to you.  I wish I could be more like you and have the discipline you do.

So, the first thing.  Starting is incredibly hard if you have a lot of extra weight.  Like I said, I was morbidly obese.  Yes, I got there on my own, but I wanted to change things and I wanted to exercise as one of the ways to get there.  Having all that extra weight is like wearing a vest filled with lead weights all the time.  I wasn’t lazy by any means in my life, and being heavy didn’t stop me from doing the things I needed to do, but asking my body to do a sustained workout weighted down is excruciating.

We are told that an effective workout is 20 minutes a day, three times a weak at your target heart rate.  Slap on a 3 minute warm up and a 5 minute cool down and we are at about 30 minutes.  Your target heart rate is calculated by your age.  The formula hasn’t changed for decades.  I remember it quite well (and looked it up to see if it had changed).  First you calculate your maximum heart rate by taking 220 and subtracting your age.  Your target heart rate for exercising should then be between 70% and 90% of that maximum.

Getting to the target heart rate is pretty easy, maintaining it less so.  Relatively quickly after you start your heart is struggling to get oxygen to the muscles that need it.  You start breathing heavy really fast.  All that extra insulation is making it difficult for your body to maintain body temperature and you start sweating profusely.   After a 20 minute workout at my target heart rate, I wanted to throw up.  For me, and I think a lot of people, I have a natural tendency to avoid doing things that make me feel like I’m going to vomit at the end of doing it, or have to lay on my back gasping for air for another 15 minutes before I can continue my day.

So you try to do things that don’t make you feel like your heart is going to explode and you find that those things simply don’t seem effective.  Honestly, you start a program, you’re motivated but you want to see results quickly.  Starting at a moderate level to condition your heart before you get serious takes too long.  I’m not saying that it’s right, but it was my state of mind in the past.

My biking friends will tell you, I hate doing laps.  My bike rides tend to be one giant loop around a section of town.  I get bored doing laps on the street.

If that’s true while riding my bike, imagine how I fair on a stationary bike or treadmill.  I can ride my road bike for over seven hours and do 100 miles (when I’m in shape) and be perfectly entertained (as long as I’m not doing laps) but, I find 10 minutes on stationary equipment excruciating because of the boredom.

For those of you who can do this and are not bored, again, kudos to you!  Bottle whatever that quality is that you have. You could make a fortune in the health supplement industry.

It has been suggested to me on multiple occasions to watch TV or read or something.  Trust me, I tried.  I had a treadmill set up for years with a little TV right in front of it to watch shows.  It didn’t help.

I think the reason for that is that watching TV is pretty passive.  I’m not really engaged in it so my brain focuses on the treadmill which is pretty uninteresting as well.  My brain then wants to move on to something else but is trapped on this treadmill while some movie that I’ve probably already seen is assaulting me from the front.

I thought that since I enjoy riding my bike, I could just get a bike stand and ride it like a stationary bike and not have any issues.  Not true.  Ten minutes on the stationary bike and I’m ready to quit.

Here’s what I think is going on.  Riding a bike outside requires me to engage my brain in the process.  I need to keep balance. I need to maintain a course. I have traffic I need to be aware of.  All of these things are keeping my brain busy.  Add on the moving scenery and my brain is fully engaged.  I suppose that’s why I’m not a big fan of laps.  At some point, that part of my brain’s engagement is no longer needed so it wants to wander off to other things but is stuck pointing out that we’ve passed the same tree three times now… and it hasn’t changed… and that we’ll have to pass it 5 more times before we’re done with this infernal ride!  Laps… bad!

Now that I’ve found something I enjoy doing, I’ve got to find the time.  At first it was really easy, I picked the amount of time and rode that long and came home.  It all worked out.  Six miles on the bike was more than 20 minutes, it made me want to throw up and I wasn’t doing laps so I wasn’t bored.  Once the urge the vomit no longer came up, I started to up my ride time.  I changed it up to distance.  I’d set a goal for 10 mile, 15 miles, 20, etc.

The rides started to get longer and longer.  From an exercise point of view, this was great.  I was exercising more, getting in better shape; I was really starting to feel better.  The problem was becoming more logistics than anything else.

I’m not a fast cyclist by any means.  When I was doing 10s, it would take about an hour, which I could find time for pretty easily.  Once I was doing 30s, it could take between 2 and 2.5 hours.  Still fairly manageable, but I had to plan for it.  It wasn’t something I could just do on a whim.  Once I hit 50 miles, it became difficult to schedule.  They usually took me around 3.25 to 3.5 hours to ride.  When I was training for my first century, I was trying to get two 30s and a 50 in every week.  Needless to say, I wasn’t getting much else done during that time.  I stopped riding like that after the century ride, but was still basically doing 30s three times a week.

Part of the problem I think is that once you are comfortably doing long rides, when you do a short one, you don’t feel like you accomplished much.  There were times I would finish a short ride and feel let down because I knew I could and wanted to go further.  I just didn’t have the time.

So not wanting to get on the bike and ride because it won’t feel rewarding, dumb reason not to ride, but one I have to deal with.

I’ve found something I like to do that keeps me active. I still have the pitfalls I’ve always had about exercising.  I’ve just had to trick my brain into believing that biking is not exercise, which seems to work… which is weird because you would think my brain is in on all the sneaky things my brain does…  The different lobes should talk to each other more.

I’ve fallen out of riding recently and my waist line has been showing the results.  The BMI chart is mocking me again (dick chart) so I’m starting to get back into the groove with 10s again for now.  I’ll be up to 15s in no time.



Posted in Health | 2 Responses


I don’t have much patience when waiting at the doctor’s office. My appointment is at a certain time, I expect to see the doctor within reasonable window after that appointed time.

Today I’m waiting to see the doc and it’s an hour past my appointment. To be honest I’m kind of fuming about it. Why am I expected to wait so long? Don’t they have any respect for my time??

But then I take a step back and try to reflect on what’s going on behind the scenes. My doctor is awesome and she takes the time to talk to her patients, including me. I think about what she deals with back there. Sometimes she has good news to share with her patients, sometimes bad. I think about the information she needs to explain to her patients.

So I take a breath. People all around me may be in different stages of their cancer journey. I’m on the back end, healthy and coming in to schedule a colonoscopy. I can wait.

Now that I’m healthy, I’ve gotten caught up in some old habits. Losing sight of the bigger picture in these instances is one of them.  I’m trying to keep hold of my perspective.  Sometimes it’s hard.

Posted in Cancer | 3 Responses

The Week

Not the machine I was in.

Not the machine I was in.

It’s that time of year again.  Time for the CT Scan and the blood work.  Time for the barium and the iodine.

None of that is really all that bad.  It’s the week between the tests and the results that still gets me anxious.  There’s something about the fact that there is paperwork somewhere in the health system that has facts about me that I need to know NOW!

My anxiety isn’t anything like it used to be.  I remember back when I had my first checkup after I was declared cancer free.  I was a wreck for weeks.  Now I’m just a wreck privately for a few days.

It all starts with the actual scan now.  I step into the room with the friendly techs who ask me some standard questions:

Are you diabetic?  No.
When did you drink the Barium?  8:45
Are you allergic to iodine?  No.
Why are you here?  Cancer followup.

Then I lay down on the table with my feet towards the machine as the second tech taps my arm for the iodine push.  We’re all very chatty and the mood is light.  I explain it’s not my first rodeo and notice they have a new CT Scan machine and how I prefer CT to PET scans.  Once they are set, they tell me to put my hands over my head and listen to the female voice for breathing instructions and start up the machine.  I do one set of passes and then they come out to push the iodine for contrast and do a second set of passes.  This time, my hands are in the air.

The second pass is done and the first tech comes out to chat while the second checks to make sure the scans are clear.  Once She gives the “ok” they start to get me out of the machine.  This is the moment the anxiety starts to creep in.

Right at that moment I start eyeing the technicians.  I’m looking for their “tell”.  Did they see something?  Are they being extra polite to me because they can see on the scans that I’m doomed?!!  I used to try to be sly and ask open ended questions looking for information.  “Everything look good?”  I’d say it in that nonchalant tone of just trying to make idle chat.  As if to say, “I’m really interested in your work… and not because you just took pictures of my insides…”  They obviously never buy it, “Result will be ready by Friday and sent to your doctor.  Make sure you drink lots of water to flush out the iodine.”  I’m sure they get hit up for information all the time.

So now back to the changing room to get changed and go on with my day.  Now that the picture has been taken I start to analyze my last few weeks.  “Anything weird???” I think.   “Well, I’ve had some headaches lately.”  And it has started.

Like I said, not as bad as it used to be, but it lingers….



Posted in Cancer, Humor | 3 Responses

The CDC and Ostomies

I’ve tried writing this post a few times now.  The CDC has put out new anti-smoking ads.  These ads have always been kind of in your face and shocking.  The most recent tie together the increased risk of colon cancer and smoking.  There’s this one:

and this one:

Many people with ostomies were offended by these commercials.  The United Ostomy Association of America even wrote a letter to the CDC asking them to remove the ads.  The argument is that portraying ostomy bags in such a negative light increases the negative stigma that would cause people needing the life save surgery to delay having it or refuse having it altogether.  The CDC changed the one that was most offensive to people with ostomies.  This is the new version:

I’m torn.  I was really offended at first.  The original version of this ad basically said that getting an ostomy was the worst possible thing that could happen to you.  Julia basically said that it leaked and smelled and she was stuck in the house for the year she had to wear one.

Having a colostomy bag for 4 years now I wanted to shout at the monitor and say that’s just not true.  I later felt bad for Julia because if that was her experience then her health care provider really failed her post surgery care.  They could have addressed those issues and not made her feel trapped in her home.


Ostomy -v- Normal / Ostomy -v- Death / Ostomy -v- Pain

Given a choice, nobody is going to choose an ostomy over being normal.  At some point though you may be faced with a choice of an ostomy or severe pain, incontinence, or death.  It’s unfortunate that there is such a negative stigma that it may cause people to endure pain or even prefer death to it.

I’m going to be honest.  When I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought getting a colostomy bag was the worst possible outcome.  That was really early in the process.  That was before the massive pain I had to endure before surgery.  That was before the actual realization that death was a possibility.

I’ll also say that getting one is life changing and that having one was difficult for me at first.  I had problems with having the bag adhere to my skin.  I was afraid of being too rough with cleaning the stoma because, you know, it’s my colon sticking out of me.  In the end, medical supply companies were very generous and sent out many samples of different products until I found one that works and my stoma nurse ensured me that my stoma is pretty damn tough.

Four years later, I’m more active than I was before the surgery.  I’ve had to change how I do things obviously, but I have not been hindered at all.  At the end of the day, I don’t mind much pooping in a bag.  I’ve also managed to keep my sense of humor, thanks for the tip Julia and Mark!  :)


At least smile when you show your poop bag!

At least smile when you show your poop bag!

Posted in Cancer, Ostomy | Leave a comment

Slow Down! Embrace the Journey.

It’s 38 degrees outside today and the wind is blustering.  It’s not the weather you expect in the Las Vegas desert, but if you live here it’s not surprising.  I’m wearing a leather jacket, wool hat, and gloves.  I’m walking to the grocery store to pick up some supplies for New Year’s Eve.

The store is a little over a mile away and I could easily drive there in five minutes, but here I am, face into the cold wind enjoying my walk.

For a few years now, I’ve been riding my bike.  For the most part, I’m a fair weather rider.  When the temperatures start hitting the forties, the bike tends to stay in the garage.  When it’s warmer out, I ride my bike to the grocery store to do my shopping.  Even with the commuter bike, it’s still a little bit of a project to get going.  Because of that, I tended to not ride to the store as often as I could have.  I was feeling guilty about not riding so I started walking instead.

I’ve been walking around the neighborhood a lot recently and I feel like I’m discovering it all new.  I’ve lived here for 17 years and I’ve never really took my time to explore the place.  For example I thought most of the area had paved sidewalks.  That is entirely not the case as I discovered walking to the park the other week.  I’m on a major surface street with 2 lanes of traffic in each direction, and no sidewalks or street lights.  It’s something I never noticed zipping by the same area thousands of times at 45 miles per hour.  I didn’t even notice it riding my bike hundreds of times at 20 miles per hour.

Walking slows me down, and that’s a good thing.  For that hour it takes me to walk to and from the grocery store, there’s nothing to distract me from the task at hand.  My brain disengages from multitasking.  For me it becomes very serene and relaxing, even on a cold winter day.  So much so that I’m starting to make excuses to go to the store.

For most of my life I always kept my eye on the goal.  While never losing sight of your goal is a good thing, having tunnel vision to your goal may not.  You may just miss some amazing people and events during the journey.

So what does it all mean?  For me, time has been flying by.  It seems like only yesterday we started 2014 and now here we are at the cusp of 2015.  Before you know it, we’ll be half way through the year.  If walking to the store slows down my day and lets me decompress for a short time, I don’t see the down side.  I can enjoy what I have and what I’m experiencing without distraction.  We are constantly bombarded with outside stimulation, it’s nice to shut it all off sometimes and only let in a what you are in control of.

I know none of what I’ve written is new or Earth shattering, but sometimes it takes a 3 mile walk in cold wind to have a light-bulb moment.

Posted in Cancer, Thoughts | 5 Responses

Begin Again

Life is about beginnings and endings. My life as a married person has come to an end and my time as a single person has begun again.

I was not expecting this ending or beginning again in my life, but sometimes a curve-ball comes your way and you have to take your swing. It is not important to share the details of the breakup here. All that it comes down to is the fact that I’m alone again. This last month has been a hard time for me, but I’m managing. I have family and friends to thank for being good, sympathetic listeners when I needed it, coaches when I stumbled and cheerleaders when I needed uplifting. I know they will continue to be there as I move forward with this new chapter in my life.

I’m using the lessons learned from being sick to move forward now. I’m taking one day at a time and concentrating on the things I have control over. I’m breaking down tasks into smaller bits and being satisfied with my progress no matter how slow it’s going. I also make myself okay with the things that have not changed, nor will change in the near future. Making plans to change things are good enough now. As long as I’m moving forward, I’m still moving.

It’s too soon to think about my future with somebody, or not. Of course I have. It’s hard to think about being single, 46 and “broken”. I say broken because of my colostomy. I know I’m not really broken, but I’m not normal either. If I do meet somebody, how does something like that come up? How do I tactfully bring it up in conversation? Do I do it early before I’m too emotionally invested that it won’t hurt if I am rejected because of it, or do I wait until I’m really comfortable with somebody to have a frank discussion about it?

These are questions that are too soon to think about, but I am. How could I not?

For now, though, I am embracing being single again. There are so many things I want to do with the house and try creatively. I’ve started making rings out of coins. I didn’t know how easily it could be done with basic tools. All that is needed is patience and time. Right now I have an abundance of both. There are other projects I want to concentrate on when I have enough money to get the tools needed to make them. I’ve been very interested in building my own weight driven mechanical clock. Making the gears out of wood and designing my own clockworks seems really fascinating to me.

Of course I have my bike and plan to ride it often. I need to get back in shape as I have let myself go. A combination of stress and bad decisions need to be turned around. Hopefully I can do that and make the life long changes I need to make to continue to be healthful. I’ve started with small changes. I’ve stopped drinking soda on a regular basis. I don’t miss it at all, except sometimes. I’m managing. Small steps.

Right now I’m in the middle of a purge. Danielle moved out and now I’m getting rid of so many things that have been weighing me down. When I’m done the house will be simple, clean, and uncluttered. Hopefully my life will reflect those attributes as well.

It’s been a hard month, but now I’m making changes; and that’s a good thing.

Posted in Thoughts | Tagged , | 7 Responses


There’s no place like home. When you irrigate like I do you have everything set up just the way you like it. It’s taken time to find out what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to the logistics of irrigation and you can make changes to accommodate your needs.


On the road, things are a little different. You never really know what you’re getting into when traveling because at the end if the day you have some special needs.

That doesn’t mean that things have to be miserable when you’re traveling. Over time you learn what works when you don’t know what to expect from your bathroom.

First things first. Make sure you pack what you need. You figure this out over time. The first time I had to travel with the ostomy, I was so nervous about not having access to my supplies I took nearly two months of stuff for a two week trip. Half of my carry on luggage was filed with supplies. Now I take more than I need but less than my entire cache of supplies. It also helps if you try not to deviate too much from your normal eating habits. Eating too far out of your norm will cause you to go through supplies faster.


Make sure you’ve figured out how to do what you need to do without any special accommodations. At home we have a detachable shower head that makes keeping the irrigation sleeve clean easy. I have yet to come across a shower in a hotel that has a detachable head. I figured out how to keep the sleeve relatively clean without it. I also have to change my shower routine because of that.

Being out on the road also means you need better time management. At home my routine is very casual. I have a lot more time. On vacation there is usually a plan to go out exploring. Because of that I need to plan my schedule and plan how long I think I need to irrigate.
The other issue is placement. It helps when things are placed together. Sink near the toilet near the shower. One place had the sink in another room, another, like this have the sink and toilet together, but the shower is a little far.

At the end of the day I had a really good vacation with regard to my ostomy and irrigation. I did forget a shower curtain hanger that I use to hold the irrigation bag containing the clean water, but I was able to improvise. I used very few supplies and even though I deviated from my normal eating, I didn’t have too many issues. It was nice to get back home and have everything right where it needs to be.

Posted in Cancer | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Ornamental Ass

It’s been over two years since I’ve been declared “cancer free” and to tell you the truth, I don’t think about cancer much anymore.  I talk about it from time to time with other cancer survivors, but aside from the checkups now happening twice a year, it doesn’t occupy much time in my mind.

Now I mostly deal with the aftermath of the surgery that was needed to get the cancer out of me.  There’s not a lot to talk about concerning cancer, but I’ll have this colostomy for the rest of my life and I think I can write a little bit about the goings on of having one.

So moving forward I’m changing the name of this blog.  It will be the second change since I started.  The blog was originally called, Life With Colon Cancer.  After my last chemo treatment and my oncologist told me I was cancer free, the name logically changed to, Life With(out) Colon Cancer.

So now I’m thinking about The Ornamental Ass.  It was something I said shortly after surgery when I had my tumor removed and I no longer had the plumbing to go to the bathroom normally.  My behind no longer had its primary function.  That function had been moved to the left side of my stomach, forever.  My ass was no longer functional, it had simply become ornamental.  It was a joke.  The kind of joke an ostomy patient can make about himself.  It was and is funny because we all knew I was on my way to healing.

My life as an active cancer patient is behind me.  My life with an ostomy is on going.  I think there is plenty I can still talk about.

Posted in Ostomy | Tagged , | 1 Response

Made Me Nuclear

In honor of my PET scan today,  I give you Made Me Nuclear by Charlie Lustman.

I met Charlie while getting chemo one day.  He was touring around cancer centers in Nevada, playing his guitar and singing songs.  He gave me his album which he wrote about his cancer experience.  I listened to it often while I was sick.

The test is done.  Now a week for results.

Charlie Lustman
Posted in Cancer | Tagged , | 1 Response