If you had told me when I was sobering up twenty four years ago, that I could feel good, great, or even euphoric just “being me” I would have laughed in your face. After croaking out a hallow Seth Rogen style laugh, would probably have accused you of suffering from Terminal Cornball Disorder (T.C.D.) and pattered my crazy self away as fast as my crazy paws could pitter. I mean people, as far as I was concerned, didn’t feel good, great or even “euphoric” without extra curricular help. Inconceivable!

Yet the word “euphoric” keeps popping into my head this week. Wikipedia says that euphoria is derived from Greek roots meaning “well” and “to bear.” I read this as “to bear wellness.” I had been thinking about euphoria more as an absence of pain. Yet when I considered the definition and my own ideas further, I realized they were the roughly same thing.  I mean pain and sickness are the antithesis or opposite of wellness right?  So being well and in a good state of health should be considered – and this made me sit up in my chair – a state euphoria.

Over the last few days I’ve found a few things that have helped tremendously with the ulcers and gastritis (inflamed insides).  We’re talking going 3-8 hours without the internal forest fire ablaze in my guts, entire nights spent actually sleeping (what a concept!), and riding to work with the radio off and feeling okay in my own skin. After spending the majority of the last 60 or 90 days living inside the flames, I can tell you that is indeed an apt word for the experience.

This leads me down a philosophical path. Sorry about this.  As with anything here, please take it or leave it as you will. But I’m wondering, “Is this meant to be our natural state?” In other words are we born to a state of euphoria?  Is it only over time, through bitter experience or heartbreak or sin or ego or whatever-you-want-to-call-it, that we forget how good it feels to just be well and breathing?  Having spent weeks in pain I can tell you today that I believe that’s the case.  I believe our natural state, if we are well (clearing away accumulated mental, emotional, spiritual, physical junk), is to feel okay or better than okay…you know like euphoric.

Alright so the fact that I realize these things probably means that I need to buy one of those bumper stickers that suggest “miracles happen.” I’ll slap it proudly next to the newly stamped, custom license plate reading, “T.C.D.”



PS.  We got our biopsies back from the doctors office today. Great news! Neither the pigmented ulcerous tissue nor the inflamed areas of my stomach are cancerous. This looks like a straight up GI problem. We still need to figure what’s causing the problem, but are relieved and grateful for this news.

P.S.S. If you have gastrointestinal issues and want to trade war stories or solutions let me know.  I’ve tried just about everything under the sun and am happy to exchange ideas.  Lately what works for me is slippery elm bark and marshmallow root (a revelation, you can google both) and smaller meals of mainly vegetables…I know sounds simply euphoric doesn’t it!


Incline on Friday, Barfing on Saturday, Clueless on Sunday

If you research how to write blogs, you will find that almost invariably one author or another recommends the use of “Top 10 Lists.” This particular medium on the internet is prolific. Inventories of things can be useful, grab your attention, and are easier to read/write. They exists for everything from “Things to do with a Glass of Water” to “Places to use when you can’t find a restroom…” Two things that are not by the way, necessarily, mutually exclusive.

Anyways, I’m itching to pen these kinds of posts and, frankly, feeling a little resentful at the moment that I don’t seem capable.

IMG_1062The first one I’d write would be something along the lines of “Top 10 Things You Should do to Defeat Ulcers” or “Seven Simple Steps for Curing Melanoma…So Simple in fact Even Your Cat Can Do It!” These speak to me. I might even pay money for the e-books; or if feeling particularly cheap and/or lazy have our cat Leo buy them and fill me later.

Like I said though, it’s not happening.  Life doesn’t seem to be fitting cleanly into the paradigm.  Case in point has been the last few days. Friday I hit the Manitou Incline with Alan (aka ‘Grandma’ aka long time running buddy and chief weekend excursion and concert conspirator).  We haven’t done something like this in a while and it was great.

For the uninitiated, the Incline is an old railway above Manitou Springs that was washed out @ 35 years ago and has since become a popular hiking destination.  It’s got something like a 70% grade in places and you climb 2000 feet in less than a mileLooking down the Manitou Springs Incline from Barr Trail Bailout.jpg…Bad-ass…if you are slightly touched in the head or looking for a unique challenge, or, maybe in my case, both.  It’s one of the few exercises I’ve done where I consistently see stars (ah like not the sky) and, at about the half way mark, I’m usually reminded of the time I told someone I was going for a run and he responded, dumbfounded, “From what Dude?”

Either way, I’m grateful to be able to do stuff, even slightly touched stuff, and despite being @ 20 minutes slower than the last time I did it 10 years ago (we reached the top on Friday in 45 minutes), it was still awesome to be out there suffering on the side of the mountain.

Yet, on the way down something was bothering me.  I’ve had ulcers along with inflammation in the stomach for the last several years. Ulcers are basically open soars in the stomach or in my case duodenum (first part of small intestine leading to jejunum, um before the ileum) and, to use more medical terms, they can really suck. I happen to have the sucky ones. They were starting to turn on full sucky power during the meandering, three or four mile run back to the car.

Thought I had handle on these, I keep/kept thinking.

If you query on the subject you will find that @ 90% of ulcers of the duodenal variety are caused by H. Pylori bacteria.  However, a biopsy of my ulcers did not demonstrate any hp.  The doctors surmised it was treatment /chemotherapy induced.  Wish it was the bacteria.  There is a clearer path to victory in that case (heavy duty antibiotics for a few weeks and antacids).

After a few ER visits, endoscopes and barrage of tests ad nauseum, supplements, Dr visits, prescriptions yah dee ya dee ya, we really thought we had this licked.  In my case, we believed, the issue was a combination of a newly developed lactose intolerance and, strangely, a lack of stomach acid.  Taking digestive enzymes for lactose along with hydrochloric acid did the trick.

Unfortunately a couple of weeks ago the pain returned.   I realized I’d slacked on the remedy described above and got back on the wagon so to speak. However, the thing is, it does not seem to be working. And the really lousy thing is, the burning almost always leads to full blown brush fire…thus the visits to the ER.  I had one of those a week ago and within the last twenty four hours.

Yesterday it started at Connor’s hockey tryouts with the imperious urge to projectile vomit in the bathroom, timed between his shifts on the ice of-course.

I guess that’s the definition of slightly obsessed, when you are slugging it out at the ice rink to watch your son play rather than home gyrating in pain.  Either way, it was worth it to have him look up at me when he was heading off the ice and nod when I gave him the thumbs up for this performance. I’m not biased or anything but what a great kid! The effort alone was worth price of admission.

Anyways, barfing turned to copious barfing at home and severe abdominal pain.  The next six to eight hours were, as mentioned, kind of sucky.  Thanks to some prescription nausea meds (again, thanks Alan) things finally calmed down and I did not have to go the hospital.  We were to down the wire though…I was giving it a another hour before limping to the ER.

So, here I am, Sunday evening, typing this blog, feeling slightly shell shocked, wondering what to say while scrapping the rusty, dried up bottom of the barrel of faith…wishing I could summarize “it all” cleanly into a neat, attention grabbing and snappy list.

The only thing that comes to mind is that I’ve been through other ups and downs before; and, as much as the temptation is to think otherwise, there’s always an up.

What Grandma said on Friday during our slow ramble up the incline seems perhaps most appropriate,

“Everything works out in the end…so if it hasn’t worked out yet, it isn’t the end.”  

When it does you’ll find it here, next to “Top 8 Reasons Why Guys Who Pick their Noses Really are Smarter.”