Saturday, July 18, 2015

Team Sloth, the ramp up to RAGBRAI

The last time I did RAGBRAI, aka the crazy-ass bike ride across Iowa, was the year that has become the stuff of legends. The year that’s whispered about in hushed tones. THAT year.

Yes, dear reader, yours truly managed to bring RAGBRAI to its knees in 2012. Because 2011, my first RAGBRAI, was until then one of the hottest on record. As Ann put it, “It couldn’t possibly get any worse than this.”

2012 was worse.

People were dropping like flies. That year had the highest drop-out rate ever, the most SAGs, I think the most deaths as well. It was like riding a bike in an oven that was attached to a wind tunnel. I remember clear as day riding one day into a fierce headwind, and telling myself I’d just ride another mile, then would join the other walking wounded collapsed in the sparse shade on the side of the road. The year after Hell Year 2012 was apparently the first year in forever that RAGBRAI didn’t sell out. I’m not surprised.

The result was that the next two years, 2013 and 2014, were gifts from the RAGBRAI organizers, in that they were some of the easiest years on record. As short and flat as they could make them. Easy-peasy. A couple days in there that were a mere 40 miles.

I mention all this to note that this year, of course, when Miss Tasha is back, the organizers decided fuck that shit, we’re going hardcore again. So tomorrow, Sunday, is the hilliest day, at 60,0000 feet of climbing, and 213 miles. Okay okay, maybe it’s just 4,000 ft of climb and 82 miles, but still, that’s ridiculous enough. It doesn’t get much better the rest of the week. AND, after an entire summer of cool and rainy, it’s now in the 90s in Iowa, with 99% humidity. Because of course it is.

And Team Sloth’s start has been less than auspicious. Sloth Mary Beth woke up last Tuesday with horribly swollen knees, her arthritis acting up, so she’s out. Me, after one of my ramping up rides last week, I could hardly walk afterwards because of my lower back. For some reason it’s fine when I’m riding, but when I try to actually be upright, major pain. This could be a problem. Ann has plantar fasciitis. So far only Sloth Michelle is unscathed; hopefully I haven’t jinxed her. Oh, and we were thisclose to running out of gas on our way to Davenport yesterday and limped our way in to a gas station finally, telling the girl working that “you have the best most wonderful gas station I’ve ever seen in my life,” and her responding that “yeah, it’s a LONG way between gas stations, we hear that a lot”, so there’s that as well.

Tonight I had a sno-kone for dinner, and because I hate Huey Lewis and the News with the burning fever of a million suns, we’re not going to that concert here in Sioux City. Tomorrow we rise with the crack of dawn, and, onward.

Here’s hoping we got all of the bad luck out of the way already……

Friday, July 17, 2015

A little life in me yet

A few weeks ago I went to see the illustrious Dr. B., to get some final stuff out of the way before BFU transfer in August. Of course, the SIS and mock embryo transfer went as expected.

Dr. B.: Okay, so everything looks good…….except…….we have a polyp now.
Me: WHAT? What the…..where the hell did that….that…FUCKHEAD come from??
Dr. B.: Unfortunately they sometimes just pop up.
Me: Shit! I can’t believe this!
That meant I needed to get Fuckhead taken care of via ANOTHER hysteroscopy before leaving town for RAGBRAI, because otherwise the timing of everything would just not work. I’d have to have the hysteroscopy in August, then wait a month, then that would put me in October and my beloved Dr. B. would be on maternity leave. Nay! So I put the full court press on Dr. A. in Silverton, along with the Sad Cancer Face, and lo and behold she squeezed me in to get this taken care of.

Of course, that surgery went without a hitch, with all the usual accoutrements. The perplexment (yes this is a freaking word!) at my rejection of Versed, my insistence on referring to the polyp as Fuckhead (yes, I’m done with the cutesie names, going right for the jugular now), the ensuing witty banter, me bouncing out the door post-surgery into the 102-degree heat to be picked up by Most Excellent Friend and Neighbor Laura so that I could go home and take Kone to the rezzy. Again, the usual.

So now it’s all over but the waiting. Well, waiting for the Frozen Embryo Transfer, or FET. I waver between thinking this has to work, and that it doesn’t have a chance in hell. I’d obsess over statistics, but quite frankly, there aren’t any. Nada. Zip. There are no numbers to pore over of women my age and their success or lack thereof with FETs. There isn’t even an ORM precedent, because I’m the only woman my age who’s wound up with an actual normal PGS-tested embie on ice.

By all accounts this should work – most miscarriages are caused by a chromosomally abnormal embryo, and BFU is definitely not that.

But what if it doesn’t? This is my only shot. My only chance to give Kone a sibling. It crushed me when on my third IVF cycle, my slacker embies only made it to the early blast stage and not full blast, and I wound up with nothing. That was beyond devastating, and it’s fortunate that Most Excellent Friend Sarah came over and dragged me out for Tiki Tuesday at the Creekside and tropical drinks.

I don’t think there are enough Tiki Fucking Tuesdays in the world, if this doesn’t work.

My BFU is already a little person in my mind.

He has a name, one other than Badass Fucking Unicorn.

I already picture him outfitted in old-timey clothing, toting a scythe or helping me and Kone pick berries or being held up to reach the highest apples on the apple tree (even babies have their uses).

Me yelling at him when he’s a surly teenager and telling him “And to think YOU were the lone embryo that made it!”

I do way too much thinking as it is, and I fear that if this doesn’t work, my brain will never shut off.

I will have sold my house and moved for nothing.

I will have spent $70K on nothing.
I’ll be witness to my hopes and dreams crashing down around me into incomprehensible rubble, never to be put back together again.

I’ll rethink and regret every single decision I’ve ever made in my life that brought me to this place.

I don’t know if or how my fragile soul will come through this, as a culmination of all the other shittastic things that have happened in my life.

I might just pack up The Kone and the bike and head off for parts unknown.

I do some of my best crying on the bike.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Thoughts in my head while cycling

Oregon cyclists, wtf? At first I thought it was a fluke, this female cyclist who didn’t acknowledge my friendly wave in any way. That tended to happen sometimes in the Huntley environs as well, with the women cyclists more likely to ignore others than the men did. With her, I figured that she was such a newbie cyclist that she was too scared to let go of her deathgrip on the handlebars in order to manage even a small polite wave.

But then the other day I saw a guy on his bike headed my way from the other direction. Aha! Surely he would wave! Aaaaand…..nada. Wth? Even in IL when I or the other person was hammering along on our tri bike, we’d manage the head nod or slight wave, or something. But here I get nothing? Don’t these people know the laws of bicycling etiquette??

* * * * * *

“…cause the rain don’t care.” Milli Vanilli may not have been all that great at actually singing their own songs, but their lyrics were clearly the precursor to Honey Badger.

* * * * * *

It’s all about the pie. Imagine my surprise when the route I so carefully mapped out wound up taking me directly past…..the Willamette Valley Pie Company. At right about the halfway mark. Now, I know they’re not donuts, so this doesn’t quite compare to the donuts in the bucolic town of Sharon, WI, but still, pie. Mayhap I can even time it right to get there for Pie Happy Hour in the morning. Of course, this would just be in the interest of diligent training for RAGBRAI and all the homemade pie that that entails – I am nothing if not devoted to my craft.

(Note: the above was written while I was still in OR, and I am now in IL, i.e. land of the evil town of Capron, turkey vultures hovering overhead, tornadoes, and crayzee white trash crackheads trying to run me down with their car. I shall report back.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Petal pedaling away.....

First off, yay for the ACA! Yay gay marriage! Yay four out of five SCOTUSes! And I have to say, whatever Justice Scalia is smoking, I’d like some please. Anyone who makes up shit like “jiggery-pokery” and then uses it in a Supreme Court ruling is definitely on the good stuff, ifyouknowwhatImean.


Last Saturday was the classic Heatstroke 100 DeathCycle 2015 Petal Pedal ride, which I felt obligated to sign up for since it started and ended right here in bucolic Silverton, at the Oregon Garden. Anticipating being on top of my game, I naturally signed up for the 100 miles. Which pretty quickly became 50 miles on the day of, as temps were going to be in the 100+ range. Did I really want to recreate the RAGBRAIs of 2011-2012 and all their accompanying hot misery? No. That would be a no.

I set off on Saturday with some trepidation, given that this would be my longest ride this year. (Still in the ramping up phase. The science here is sound.) I almost immediately felt the need to start writing letters in my head to various constituents involved in this ride.

Dear Petal Pedal Organizers:

Thank you for organizing such a lovely ride. A small note, however: a mile-plus climb of 14% is NOT a “gently rolling hill.” Please make a note of it. Thank you!

Best regards,
Miss Tasha

I soldiered on, to encounter more hills but none as steep, at least not yet. But really, why the hell does Oregon have to be so damn hilly? Couldn’t they take a cue from the beautiful flatness of north-central IL?

Soon enough, another letter just randomly came to mind.

Dear Petal Pedal pushers:

I know that numbers aren’t supposed to be exact and all. So when you write that the rest stops are “approximately every 15 miles,” one understands that that could mean anywhere from 13 to, say, 17.5. However, even my not-so-mathy self knows that 20 does NOT equal 15. Nay! It does not! So when we’re slogging along and wondering where the hell gosh darn heck that next rest stop is, it would be great if it were actually closer to the rumored 15. K’thanks.

Miss T.

After a quick stop, I continued on the bucolic country roads, but couldn’t help noticing something that bugs the crap out of my cycling-perfectionist self.
Dear Oregon cyclists:

Why? WHY you all keep your seats so low? Pro tip: if your knees are jutting out to the sides as you ride….your seat is too low. Stop it now. This is what a multi-tool is for, to make these all-important adjustments.

Miss Tasha the Cycling Goddess

I contemplated riding up to these people and asking them “Hey, how ‘bout I work on you with my multi-tool?” – but not only did that sound a bit strange, I also would have never gotten anywhere.

The ride meandered over to Bauman’s Nursery, a place I know well, where we could contemplate the kids’ petting zoo/jungle gym area they have there. Quite frankly, at this point I didn’t want to move. My hotfoot problem was flaring up something fierce, my butt hurt, and a headwind had picked up (of course) as soon as we turned the corner to go to Bauman’s.  This damn ride was miserable. And yes, another letter came to mind.

Dear Miss Tasha:

Why? WHY you keep doing this to yourself? You know, getting into great cycling shape – to scale the Alps! To almost careen off a cliff in Morocco! To rule the roads around Annecy even after renting a bike from the Roll the Chicken bike shoppe! – only to then let it all go to hell? To then have to start from scratch all over again. Why? So fucking stupid. Starting up cycling again after a hiatus is just as bad as it is when doing this with running. Dumbass. Enough with this jiggery-pokery once and for all.

Miss Tasha the Slug

I petal pedaled on, knowing that we’d soon be hitting the Gallon House Bridge, and then the end. We actually rode past my street, and I briefly contemplated pathetically asking Most Excellent Neighbor Laura if she’d just drive me back the last half mile to the Garden. Because I knew what was ahead, namely two big-ass hills. At this point though, I just said fuck it, let’s get this shitshow over with.

We of course all wound up back at the Garden, where a lovely lunch awaited us, with chicken and steak and orzo salad and beer and cake. And a side of bitter regret. So much regret.

I know this comes as a shock, folks, but it doesn’t always pay to emulate yours truly. Still, as they say in vaudeville, the show must go on. Onward.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ramping up has begun!

I admit I’ve been on a pretty long taper – or, as I call it, “sitting on my fat lazy ass for way too long.” SOMFLA for short. But now it’s time to take the bull by the reins and forge ahead blindly and recklessly, as I’m wont to do.
But first, I need to impart a few life lessons from my most amazing recent trip to Costa Rica with SuperCancerChickFriend Cori. To wit:

Animals are smart. There we were driving along to Arenal, when we spied by the side of the road some kind of animal loping along, making his way to his burrow across the road. As one does in such countries, we came to a sudden screeching halt.

Me: Hey look! An animal of some sort loping along! What do you think it is?
SCCF Cori: I have no idea. A monkey? No. It looks like a big raccoon. Omg, it’s coming towards the car! Here, I’ll throw it some chips!

As the enraged (curious) animal is making its way towards us menacingly (curiously, and as if he’s done this before), Cori tosses out a few chips, which stops the chupacabra (coatimundi) dead in its tracks. Apparently the love of chips is universal. We ooh and aah over the beastie for a little while longer, and then drive on.

Whereupon not 5 minutes later we see a sign on the side of the road, which clearly has a picture of said animal, with a slash through it, saying “do not feed.”

Me: So basically our little friend made his home RIGHT before the sign that says to not feed him.
SCCF Cori: Smart guy.
Me: Indeed.

* * * * * * * * *

Miss Tasha is an idiot. SCCF Cori and I are on a night tour, hoping to see cougars and tree frogs and monkeys and possibly some kangaroos. Hope springs eternal and all that. Our guide is lovely, and is pointing out all the flora and fauna in the rain forest, from industrious leaf cutter ants to shampoo flowers to…..
Ana: So this is a small fruit (holds up pod the size of a large grape), and when it’s ripe, the seeds inside smell like coffee. (breaks it open to show us)
Me: Oh neat! So does one actually use it for anything?
Ana: No, it’s really just ornamental…..wait, what are you doing?
Me: I’m tasting it to see if it tastes like coffee of course.
SCCF Cori: Okay, so ONE of us is an intrepid experienced explorer who’s been all over the world in every kind of situation, and the other is an idiot who tries random things from the jungle to see what they taste like. Oh wait, they’re the same person!

I pulled this same stunt a couple of days later when SCCF Cori and I were doing a daytime tour of the cloud forest, and our guide pointed out something on the ground that  “could be a passionfruit, but who really knows?”

Me: So I can take it with us for us to try?
Julio: Oh sure, haha!
Julio: Wait, what are you doing?
Me: Umm, taking it with us of course.

I was thwarted in this attempt too, dammit. Just what DOES one have to do to face down a possibly deadly tropical ailment??

Anyway. With the fun and games of Costa Rica over, I decided it was finally time to do something about the impending Ragbrai, beyond just dusting off my bicycle and getting it tuned up. Fine first steps as it were, but a tad insufficient on their own.

Thus, I’ve mapped out a detailed Ramping Up process, which starts out at a short 6 miles a day, then basically doubles every day. According to my mathy (ahem) Wharton skills, this will have me biking 3,042 miles a day by the time Ragbrai rolls around. That should be enough, but we’ll see if I have to tinker with that a bit.

As we all know, I’m a finely honed athletic individual, so I wouldn’t suggest trying this at home, folks. I will report back.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The WTF, Part Two

I had my WTF appointment with Dr. B. today, and came with my usual little list of questions, though these were perhaps a bit more hard-hitting than the last bunch. I warned Dr. B. though.

Me: So I have a number of highly scientific, hard-hitting questions this time.
Dr. B.: Okay, I can take it.
Me: So the main question is, why does the universe keep fucking with me?
Dr. B.: I think…..maybe the universe is trying to tell you something, that it’s time to try BFU.
Me: But I don’t like that answer. The universe can bite me.
Dr. B.: I agree, but I think that’s what’s going on.
Me: Should I go on welfare and start smoking crack? Because that seems to work for a lot of people.
Dr. B.: Yes.
Me: How about all this stuff where people say if you stim longer or use more drugs etc., that can affect the quality of the eggs? I thought our eggs are what they are, especially at the point of doing stims, and nothing will affect them?
Dr. B.: (Scientific-sounding explanation)
Me: How about this mitochondrial stuff, i.e. maybe my eggs just didn’t have enough oomph to get them to blast stage, but they were chromosomally normal?
Dr. B.: They’ve done studies that have shown that of embryos that go on to be a pregnancy, those were the ones with higher mitochondrial scores, and the ones with lower scores that went to blast anyway, didn’t turn into pregnancies.
Me: Well shit. So basically my embies were just lazy little shitheads. It’s like they went to mile 26.1999999 of a marathon and said “ech, fuck it, I’m going to get a beer.”
Dr. B.: Essentially, yes.

After listening to Dr. B.’s well-thought-out scientific and fact-based explanations, and comparing them to my ideas as Pulled From the Internet, I make the only decision that can be made.

Me: Okay, so, ignoring everything you just said, if I do another cycle can we add more doping? I have a scientifically sound reason as to why we should.
Dr. B.: Okay, let’s hear it.
Me: Let me look at my notes here…..oh, here it is. Okay, scientifically sound reason: “Why the fuck not.”
Dr. B.: ……
Me: I mean really, let’s just all admit at this point that it’s a huge fucking experiment, a total crapshoot, with no rhyme or reason. Sure, we can try different things, but it doesn’t seem to make a hell of a lot of difference, for me or for my IVF friends. I see the same with them –it’s not like things improve with each cycle. No. One cycle there’s nothing, then there are more eggs but no normals, then fewer eggs and normal, then no blasts, and so on. CRAP. SHOOT.
Dr. B.: Basically, yes. There’s just so much we can do. But you have BFU, and everyone at ORM is rooting for you and him. Dr. Hesla was disappointed he didn’t get to do your latest egg retrieval, and Dr. Matteri was excited to meet you, and everyone else knows you and is hoping this works.

So there’s that.
In the end, Dr. B. helped me see that my scrappy little BFU has been waiting for his time to come into being. So has it been spoken, so it shall be done. We’re going into battle perhaps not with the little army of unicorns we would have liked to have…..but rather with the BFU that we do. And BFU has his own little army of believers, so if good thoughts and hopes and wishes can make things happen, we’re better than good.

I’m okay with that. Or perhaps not okay, but accepting that this is what we have to work with.

In August, after my summer of cycling glory, I get back to town and we’ll do the transfer, come what may.

And on that front, I had one last request for Dr. B.

Me: So yeah, since I’ll be doing all this cycling before August, can I get some more HGH so that I can make everyone eat my dust?

Boy, Dr. B. very often seems to have an emergency come up when we’re talking – that would be the only explanation as to why she bolts out of the room so quickly. Yeah, that’s it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hey Universe: Bite Me

So I headed over to Most Excellent Neighbor Laura’s house today with the usual accompaniments, namely carrying a bowl of Boozy Cherry Jubilee mix to make ice cream, and waving a piece of paper in my hand.
Me: Laura! Guess what this is?
Laura: I don’t know, your committal papers?
Me: Haha, not yet! No, this is – wait for it – a RECEIPT! Look, see how I’m inhaling its BPA goodness and rubbing it on my face! Yum, BPAs!
Laura: Okay, you’ve officially lost your mind.
Me: No really! I’m embracing ALL the badness! All the shit that they tell you to avoid, in that stupid It Starts With the Egg book. Ha, start with THIS!

I then proceeded to take the receipt and stuff it into my bra, so that it would be as close to me as possible. I figure, the months of supplements, the high-protein diet, the paranoid receipt avoidance, the shunning of canned goods, it all didn’t make a fuck all bit of difference, so now I’m going to do the exact opposite. I might bathe in Round-Up tonight. Because, fuck it (new motto).

Yes, that’s definitely the new game in town: fuck it. Yesterday Laura and I headed to the Willamette Fruit Company place to get some ice cream containers and of course partake in Pie Happy Hour (yes this is a thing here, and it’s as awesome as it sounds), and she was noting that some idiot would probably make a rude comment about the fact that baby Allen (aka “Porkie”) was barefoot because he had pulled off his socks.

Me: Oh, if they try that shit, you just send them to me, and I’d be happy to tell them to fuck right off. Post-haste.

This might be a slippery slope here, but, fuck it.

I do have to say, I have the most awesome friends in the world. And I love you all for reaching out, calling (even though I was incapable of speaking on the phone), taking me out for drinks. Yes, Sarah and I went to the Creekside Grill yesterday for Tiki Tuesday, or as I suggested they call it, Tiki Fucking Tuesday – because it’s that awesome. I’m sure they’re considering it.

The only person I spoke to was my mom, because I knew if I didn’t pick up the phone when she called, she’d be calling the neighbors to check up on me, etc. The conversation went about as well as one would expect. My mom started in with the mom stuff, i.e. “you have so many things going for you” etc. and blah. Which of course prompted the predicted response from me:


So that went well I think.

And then of course there were Most Excellent Friends Bridget and Colleen, who cajoled me into smiling by dangling in front of me the possibility that they too would do Ragbrai or at least the Dairyland Dare (new motto: “Now with fewer brain injuries!”). If that isn’t true friendship, I don’t know what is. (Psst, Bridget, thanks also for offering to send Fat Cat Bella here for Kone to play with! Oddly, he seems to be taking this all in stride.) Considering I’ve already roped Best Person Ever Nettie into doing the DD with me, this is going to be one hell of a party.

As one other friend put it, someone who’s had to deal with the same shit, there’s a mourning process one has to go through, in adapting to a life that isn’t at all like the one you envisioned. That’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen quickly. And it saddens me beyond belief when I hear of friends who’ve gone through the same thing, with the same heart-breaking results. It’s just….hard. I bounce back quickly from stuff, but damn, this is a tough one. I can’t get my hopes up for BFU, because getting my hopes up this time has almost killed my soul. I just can’t do that again. I need to protect what’s left of my wee little shattered and shredded heart.

That means when the endless pics of people’s kids and babies come up on FB, I’ll hide them.

That means I might take the shitload of miles I’ve collected because of charging IVF expenses and head to some random weird country to do a crazy bike ride.

That means I might get weepy for no apparent reason.

That means I’ll stop baring my soul and posting about all this depressing stuff, because it depresses me to be so boring on my blog.

I do have my WTF appointment already set with Dr. B. next week, and I’m tempted to cancel it. I don’t think she’ll have an answer to my main and only question: why does the universe keep fucking with me?

Next up: Something other than depressing shit.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Life, crashing down

There are some pets that can tell when their people are upset, and snuggle and cuddle and try to comfort them.

HRH The Kone is not one of those pets.

There I was bawling, and he was still poking his nose at me – “rezzy rezzy rezzy rezzy rezzy?” So we went to the reservoir, and no, it didn’t “clear my head” or any such bullshit that people blather on about, but in getting that out of the way for today it meant that I could start drinking, since I wouldn’t have to drive anywhere.

Today is honestly reminiscent of the day I was diagnosed with cancer, because it’s that same feeling of watching your dreams die a slow painful death right in front of you.

This time is worse than the second cycle, because at least then I knew I’d be doing cycle #3, so I had hope still. But now? I’m done. Oh sure, maybe if I did enough cycles I’d eventually get more unicorns, but at $20-$25K a pop, that’s not going to happen. So this is it, fini.

I should have known I wouldn’t get the happy ending miracle, because I never do. That’s not how my life works, and it never has. And just when I think things might be turning around, poof, there it all goes into the gutter again. I need to remember this, because it’s so much worse when you have hope that things might change.

I will keep as busy as possible, and in between, try to avoid contemplating why my life turned out as such a failure. I say that not to prompt all the “oh no it’s not” bullshit, but because it’s true; I am the living embodiment of Adaptation.  Fat, 40+, single, broke, scarred, barren. Or something just like that.  Broke now that I’ve spent my income and savings on this shit, and will soon be completely jobless. Job #1 ended in January, as I was on a temp contract to sub for someone from Canada with her YEAR of maternity leave. Must be nice. Of course they said they’d find a role for me as a contractor, and shockingly that has yet to happen. For job #2, that’s coming to an end in spite of all the clients loving me and my insight development work, because the company I contract with thinks that this insight stuff is complicated and tough to implement and just plain ol’ hard. So they’re “going back to (their) roots.” Okay then.

Bitterness abounds.

So, to keep some sense of sanity, I’ll accept that my dreams have come to a crashing halt. I’ll keep busy cleaning and organizing and canning and riding my bike and looking for work. I have Most Excellent Tomatoette Friend Mickey visiting at the end of the month, and since it looks like I won’t be working, we can do all sorts of ridiculous fun things. I’ll do RAGBRAI and the Dairyland Dare (slogan: “Now with fewer crashes!”) this summer, and then I’ll do a transfer of BFU in August, though that has only about a 4% chance of working, so of course it won’t work because that’s not how my life works, all la la la roses, like it seems to be for so many other people, without any effort at all. I will move on with my stupid life. I may try to get knocked up in Vegas (Random Internet Stranger, call me).  I will dwell on what could have been, but isn’t. I might very well get pygmy goatsies.

I may hold out hope for the new Ovaprime technology which is supposed to boost old eggs with new mitochondria, but since that’s supposed to cost at least $50K, probably not.

I have removed all my IVF FB groups from my favorites.

If anyone dares to even fucking mention the “a” word in my presence, you will be throat punched so fast your head might literally go spinning off as in a bad kung fu movie.

And tonight I will be burning the unicorn socks.

Because fuck that shit.