Sunday, May 25, 2008

Who I Walk For...

Last year, I wrote four names on a tag and hung it off my fanny pack, to recognize cancer patients and survivors.

This year, I took my hat to have it scribed with eight names. Not a comprehensive list, but a good microcosm of diversity among cancer's targets.

My sister Mary, breast cancer.

My friend Jobeth, ovarian cancer.

My old friend Sabine, brain cancer.

My three colleagues.
Julie, breast cancer.
Denise, pancreatic cancer.
Lisa, thyroid cancer.

And two men I admire, both with brain cancer.
Andrew D'Angelo, the composer and jazz musician.
Ted Kennedy, the Lion of the Senate.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I had a video gait analysis today at Northwest Hospital's Sports Medicine Clinic -- it was fascinating! First, your knees and the achilles tendons on each heel are marked in black. Then you stand up against a grid-marked wall so that the camera can get alignment information. Then you walk barefoot on a treadmill being filmed by four cameras, each capturing a different view. Then you walk again with your shoes on.

I actually walked better barefoot than with my current orthodics. After watching closely, the pedorthist took my orthodics into his lab and made some significant adjustments to them. We could see the difference when I put them back on and walked again on the treadmill -- not perfect, but much better. Though I had wondered if my shoes were too roomy -- I have a new blister on the bunion callus -- they thought the shoes were just fine for the 60 mile walk.

But it's pretty clear from the grid and from the treadmill video that the Mighty Psoas has not yet released my spine. And up against the wall grid, I am crooked, listing to one side by 4 inches. It is called a muscular imbalance. Other nagging problems are evidently related to this more fundamental issue -- that my orthodics are actually doing me more harm than good. I do not have a good foundation for stability in the foot or the knee or the hip, so walking distances exacerbates the imbalance.

I'll get started on new orthodics -- and I'm also going back to the clinic for an evaluation of my back, vertebrate by vertebrate and probably the psoas too. From that, they will prescribe physical therapy exercises for me to get straight and align these joints better.

I feel like I've been given some new tools today to try to get past recent physical setbacks. I was just about ready to settle for having raised $11,000 for 2008, and let folks know that I would not be able to do the 3 Day Walk this year. It may still come to that, but I've got 17 weeks of runway before I have to make that decision. Even if I only walk several miles a day for the next week or so while the back is being evaluated, I will still be moving forward. And that's really the only way I like to go, torqued or not.

I am uncomfortable spending so much time focused on my problems, especially with the cyclone in Myanmar, the earthquake and mudslide(s) in Chungdu. Then today's news of Senator Ted Kennedy's malignant brain tumor.... I will surely add his name to my list of those for whom I walk.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I flew to San Francisco on Wednesday morning and had meetings through Friday noon. The weather was spectacular so I was able to do some walking, especially the first day. My hotel was in the financial district so not far from the Embarcadero, which is lovely to walk by, and to see all the activity. The temperature was at 92 on the second day when I walked, which is probably why I didn't stretch enough before starting a long walk along the piers. I pulled up short with a sore right hamstring at around 4 miles, and hobbled back to the hotel. I've been icing and stretching since then. I'm back in Seattle now, and went out for a walk this morning but kept it to 1.5 miles. We'll see how I do the rest of the day with ice and stretches, and maybe a longer shot tomorrow. I want to be able to walk naturally -- whatever that means, especially these past few months -- on Tuesday, when I have the video gait analysis tests.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day 2008

Mothers are allowed to wax philosophical at least on this one day a year. When I walked this morning at Green Lake, through a corridor of flowering trees, I thought about what an extraordinary life I lead. I am paid well to do interesting work. I have a family that supports my efforts, whether creating a book, puttering in the garden, or walking 60 miles. The photographs below illustrate how time teaches us to be patient.

I planted this small lilac in 2006, and it only now has been able to make one bloom, but it is a perfect one. Just in time for Mother's Day!

Though it is hard to see -- probably because there is a mock orange tree behind it -- this is my new Mother's Day lilac, planted earlier this week. It is tall and gracefully open this year, with a dozen or so lilacs. Next year this time, it will be filled in and covered with sweet smelling blooms.

Here's Leroy is his study this morning, having finished final corrections and edits on a very long paper he is working on. We expect that within a week he will have cast off his crutches, waiting patiently for a bone in his foot to heal.

Flowers and gardens are always part of Mother's Day weekend because Cassandra and Sabrina always send me beautiful flowers. Here are the ones from Sabrina and her family....

...and her are the flowers from Cassandra and family.
James & Lauren are cooking dinner this evening, and tomorrow morning I am scheduled to speak with the executive editor at Taunton Press who handles house books. As I said, an extraordinary life....

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"I think that I shall never see/ a poem lovely as a tree...." -- Joyce Kilmer

Until I started training last year, I was actually a pretty good gardener. Since then, a few things have gone by the wayside. So it is that I am waiting expectantly for a nearly full size lilac tree that is to be installed for Mother's Day. Trees are eye candy for walkers, so I will be sure to post a photo of my new tree. Above, a photo shot as part of the book I wrote about renovating the house and the gardens in 2006. In the photo, Rene Benvides is planting out a section of garden that was gutted to make room for an extension on Leroy's study. A side benefit for Leroy is that Rene planted scented bushes underneath the new windows.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Get up and dance..

I have $7,200+ posted on my donation site and another couple of thousand in pending matching gifts, so I should be about one-third of the way to the $30,000. I think Penny mentioned there are about 80 folks signed up so far this year for our team. There's a photo to the right, of us marching into the stadium at Seattle Center at the end of last year's walk.

Yesterday I had foot and joint measurements that preceed a video gait analysis on the 20th. The goal is to find out if I already have the right orthodics and shoes or if I need something else. This program looks very promising and is a combination of medical professionals and physical therapists.

I did enjoy the measurements, which included range and flexibility positions for the joints. Amy puts me through that routine in the gym twice a week. I scored highly on a number of them. The therapist double checked the chart on my age, which made me want to get up and dance.

Friday, May 2, 2008

"The best way out is always through." -- Robert Frost

I am pleased, very pleased, in fact thrilled, to report that my colleague Denise, who has battled pancreatic cancer for over a year, has been diagnosed as cancer-free.

She was a model of calm and courage all the way through the chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the surgery, and then more chemotherapy treatments, which she is now beginning to finish.

Leroy and I are on the way to hear Maria Larionoff lead a chamber group through Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" as well as two violin concertos by Bach....a fitting salute to Denise's triumph.

Tomorrow, a walk here in Seattle on flat land to try out my larger and wider Brooks shoes, which I've been test driving downtown on the hills. Then Sunday up to Everett to walk with the Kindred Spirits team. Life is good.