Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cancer surgery, and RAAM

Hello again!

I look at my blog and suddenly realized that another MONTH has gone by! Sheesh, I'm not doing very well (again). I'll TRY to do better...I PROMISE! (Try is the operative word there).

Anyway, I don't personally have too much to report on...other than we survived ANOTHER doggie surgery. Sweet Pea had a cancer removal surgery on her rear was a repeat tumor. We had one removed from the same spot a bit over a year's a Mast Cell (don't know the grade, and don't want to). It came back and this time we took her to a soft tissue specialist surgeon. The tumor was just above her knee, and was about the size of half a golf ball just under the skin. Our normal vet did last years surgery, and due to the location there isn't much skin to move around after taking the tumor and some margin, so she had a 'gaping hole' in her leg for months as it slowly grew together, covering the hole. She did the best she could, but we now know why a specialist is in order for something like this.

Due to last years surgery and scar tissue, the area has even less skin to stretch, however this man is a GENIUS! He cut out a gigantic ellipse that stretches across above the knee, going back towards the back of the leg, pretty even on both front and back as to how far back he cut. Due to it being a 'repeat' tumor he took a HUGE margin, and even went down into what lies below, leaving only tendon and bone. And THEN the magic happens. He mad a decent size sideways V cut about where the rear leg skin attaches to her belly, and was then able to stretch skin down and close the ellipse of missing now it's a long horizontal suture line from back to front running across the front just above the knee. THEN he was somehow able to suture closed the V cut! Like I said, MAGIC! He made skin appear out of nowhere, and then closed both cuts! He showed me on paper, and I still don't get it, but it's a great thing!

We brought her home that afternoon (2 weeks ago Friday), and BOY oh BOY was she unhappy! She cried for about 18 hours straight! I sat up with her all night as she cried, and there was nothing I could do...she was on Rimadyl and Tramadol (2 diff types of pain killers) Saturday morning we called the vet as soon as they opened asking if we could up the pain meds...we did up the Tramadol, but she continued panting and crying out loud nearly all day, until I think she passed out from sheer exhaustion (as did I) around 3pm. It was breaking our hearts that maybe we went too far (she is over 12 years old as best we know) and we are faced with the decision of what is doable and when do we put her down. No way we'd let them take the leg like we did with PG a year and a half ago...Sweet Pea has arthritis in the right hip, and this was her 'good leg'. To leave her with the arthritic hip only would be cruel and we'd put her down first. But thankfully we weren't faced with that decision, and by Monday morning things were MUCH MUCH better. And within a week she was all over the place again, and we were having a hard time keeping her calm and NOT running (the surgeon was worried about the stretching and didn't want the stitches ripped out). Got the stitches out after 10 days, and now we're at 2 weeks and she's a terror on 4 legs again, cancer free (for the moment, we are hopeful it will stay away for good but there are no guarantees).

And so...that's what's happening at our house. As to the Race Across AMerica, brother Greg is crewing for a friend and fellow club cyclist as he races SOLO in the 2014 RAAM! The race left early Tuesday from San Diego, headed clear across the country. The racers name is Dale Capewell, and he is racer # 493. Here is a link to the RAAM tracking site:

raam -2014

 You can click on any racer (on the left) and the map shifts so that racer is dead center in the map, and you can then zoom in (top left corner of the map are the zoom in and out controls) and eventually you will be in far enough to make out the individual racers. Then on the lower left a box comes up with the data on that racer. Dale is racing the Solo male 50-59 year olds, and is currently in 2nd place after 2.5 days of racing (he's now covered 750 miles as I type at 2.5 days in, can you believe that?) He plans to ride around 20 hours a day for 10 days, hopeful to cover 300 miles in that 20 hours. Sound like fun to anybody out there? I can't fathom doing even ONE 20 hour day, letalone 10 of them!

Greg volunteered as he thought it would be a crazy adventure on it's own merits. He's only planning on going half way across the country...I think he will be flying back from the Kansas City area. There are 3 crew, and  2 a larger one that stays with Dale all the time, rolling along at whatever speed he is riding. The other vehicle is a small rental car, and it's used for the crew to take turns sprinting ahead for food/shower/sleep/whatever...and ferrying back and forth so someone is always with Dale. I gather the crew won't be getting much sleep either...but Greg was all jazzed about the 'adventure'! He's taking time off work and spending his own money for everything (including air travel home I believe, but I'm just guessing out loud here...I'll have to ask him about these details when we get to talk after it's over).

Can you imagine riding your bike across the country in just 10 (or so) days? I think it would be quite dangerous....I'd surely crash out on the first LONG day. I gather there are LOTS of medical problems with the race.

So...just thought I'd toss this out there in case any of you are interested in following people crazy enough to race their bikes across the country. Time for me to much to do, so little time.



  1. It's 12:45 am Calif time, Sunday (Fathers Day), and Dale hits the half way point! Holy cats....1500 miles in just a bit over 5 days!

  2. Matt, do you know Jill Gass? She's a local cyclist, coach, etc. She and 3 others did a team of 4 women a few years ago. I think they beat the 8-man team from our area. Anywhoooo, she just rode the Race Across the West to Durango last week. She's amazing!!! Best of luck to Dale!

  3. Hey Cathy...can't say I've heard of Jill Gass....I know a few years back one of our local gals (Lisa 'Toretti'? can't remember if that's her correct last name...she and her husband Dave used to own the Bike Barn in Santa Maria)...anyway, she and a few other ladies set the womens record a few years back for RAAM. I'd never followed it much before I htink it's another one of those amazing races...much like GDR (Great Divide Race)...that's where you start in Banff Alberta and ride the continental divide on your mt bike, totally self supported...over 2600 miles and I recall over 300,000' of climbing. That should be coming up soon also...I like to follow these insane races where I just can't imagine going on day after day. How do you mentally (as well as physically) get on your bike after even ONE 20+ hr day, letalone 9 or more? These people amaze me doing what I would consider impossible.

  4. Jill raced that year with Lisa Tonelli - that was the group. Now Jill did a two-person mixed team in RAW and they won plus set a record for their age group (50-59 I think). She's a tough gal!!

  5. Hey Cathy...figures that Jill knows (and rode with) Lisa...I know Lisa is a tough (TOUGH) gal also...and super nice too. Funny that we both know people from that same RAAM team! Dale is now at 2200 miles (almost due south of Indianapolis) and holding onto 2nd place in the 50-59 yr WOW! I'm going to get Greg to write up his story about crewing and let me post it (hopefully w/ pics)...I think it would be awesome! He said something to me this morning about the amazing emotional highs and lows in the midst of sleep depravation (meaning all of the...crew and rider)...can't wait to hear his story!