Just a quick update per a few requests for the latest in the crazy events.  Seems some have found this adventure extending beyond the trail is worth the read.

3/13 – 3/21:
I guess I’ve been “on the trail” now for about ten days in the new medical/patient oriented journey. It’s weirdly similar in working toward a “goal” like trail life, only with a goal of surgery. My head is still in a cloud (anti-epileptics) and every three to five days I wander into an doctor’s office appointment to restock on information supplies, receipts and insurance policies before heading back out with a 30lb pack paper-weight. Its not always easy, but I’ve met people on the way who definitely deserve a trail name. Dr. Stovall is about as good and genuine a surgeon I could hope for. Down to earth, hopeful and as the word goes extremely skilled. We had a good face to face visit the other day and we clearly feel the same way about what we hope for from surgery.  Glad he’s taking the lead position. Perhaps even more deservedly, my insurance broker has proven an invaluable “counselor” to sometimes desperate ears.

Back in Austin today and met the assisting neurosurgeon and neurologist for the surgery. This neurosurgeon is one of most technically advanced, at least in knowledge, in the nation.  Wicked smart. I definitely want him there when they have the micro suction on my brain helping to decipher what’s “good” and “bad”. He said “when I’m looking at the brain, nothing looks different, so I’m going to fix a do-nut like magnet to your forehead that connects to an MRI image and the computer screen highlights “tumor/no tumor”.  He’ll also have an MRI that shows a road map of active fibers around the tumor like white streaks.  Please sir, take the MRI. Take two.  Its on me. It’s a very real judgment call as they literally suck out tissue wanting to take out as much as possible, but knowing it’s also removing my ability to speak, move my limbs and my hope for a quality lifestyle. I explained I’d rather have five “good” years than ten bad. They agree.

It’s been kind of funny in a sick way how the doctor sessions have started.  It’s kind of a trend I see. Right before seeing me they go view the MRI, then come talk to me about it. First they lay their eyes on me with the assessing “how much does he know?” — a two-second expression of slight unease type of stare followed by a shift to just say it … ,”well, yeah it’s a complicated one and that’s bad.”.  Another said, “It’s fairly large and it’s just in a bad spot”.  The best one though.. He holds his hands in a bear claw like fashion as if holding the very tumor in thin air before me about to expound in medical unfamiliarity, a pause, then the searching for words,” it’s just bad.”. At the last visit today, I battled between respectful maturity and snickering before he started. In the last doctor’s defense, he was surprising positive from the get go. I did get to SEE this infamous MRI image finally today. I’m just gonna say I have a “man-tumor”. Couldn’t get an iPhone pic of it because the doc was talking, but if you can imagine a top view brain scan image like on “Scrubs” or “Grey’s Anatomy”, it would look like somebody stuck a large, wrinkled white marshmallow just inside and in front of the left ear skull bone extending almost all the way to the center line of the brain where it meets a dark gray “normal” band and then the thin light center line. Nothing pushed around or distorted, just there, and it looked like a perfect prepared s’more: grahams, chocolate and mallow. It’s sick, I know, but that’s what you get from a backpacker/hiker. Thus “S’More” is named.

Life now is going to take some creative ingenuity. Driving is out since the tumor rests right next to the foot-pedal muscle nerve. One bad vibe from “S’more” and I could cream a pedestrian. So in the spirit of the trail life, tomorrow is a new day and I’ve now concocting a new “Western, small-town” version of me and my cranial companion (or what is left of em in a month or so). I’m moving to Weimar, TX, a small, lazy town almost smack in the middle of Houston and Austin on the map. Everything is accessible by bike and I could possibly help out as an RN at the local hospital. Hey Andy, looks like you won’t be the only one “gone green” biking to work! No doubt I’ll also be doing a lot of ranch work helping my uncle nearby with longhorns, horses and a small vineyard. In the spirit of all this, I went to Goodwill today and bought a bunch of “ranch clothes” to blend a bit and try and be smart about all the sun.  I’d rather not become a leatherneck, just mimic one. Close enough. In the spirit of “going green” and remembering conversations with LaLa on the trail, I’m planning a garden complete with a squash and maybe a turnip (although I have no idea what to do with a turnip). I might even attempt growing chickpeas and making humus. Hey LaLa, that’s your prompt to advise..?? I’ll be ordering four huge Tiftblue Rabbiteye Blueberry plants and pulling on a rototiller within a couple weeks across the front yard. Oh, and a rutabaga. I’ll need to Google that one too, but that sounds really country. Of course I’ll have to irrigate the garden with a solar-powered irrigating automated drip system, but as that borders on techno-nerd, I’ll tuck it away behind a rusted country looking hand pump. On weekends, I’m outfitting myself with a DIY artist/camping pack to take up cycling-acrylic painting.  Head 30-50 miles out, camp/paint somewhere, then cycle back. Yes, it will be YouTubed and FaceBooked.