Friday, April 15, 2005

Living Stronger Every Day

Folks - Not much new on the news front, just reporting that I'm feeling stronger - living stronger - every day. Since we're blessed here with a glorious spring I've been out for long walks (about 5 miles) each day - sometimes pushing Tasha in the jog stroller for an extra workout. If Tasha has ballet/tumbling (often one and the same at this age!) or swim lessons at the Y - I tag along with Nancy and do some modest bicep curls and training on an exercise bike.

My transplant docs at NYU have cleared me to do what I like exercise-wise, but I don't want to push things before the hernia man has his say. (Close readers of the blog will recall that days after my liver biopsy - which showed need for transplant - I developed a hernia, first detected by me on my way into an MRI. My concern (''What fresh hell is this?'' as Dorothy Parker would say to a ringing phone) made the 'relax and lie still' command of the MRI operator that much harder, but this thing is nothing more than a nuisance that can now be attended to surgically, since I'm less immuno-suppresed.

I'm anxious to get back on the bike. An old friend - read my blog and my mind the other day - e-mailed a query of whether I - like Lance Armstrong - was cycling again.

Let's get real. The similarity between Lance Armstrong and myself goes no further than the fact that both own bicycles and speak lousy French.
In some ways, though, I can relate to Lance. (And my always gorgeous wife, Nancy Bird, is looking a bit like Sheryl Crow these days.)

Of course, Lance's well-known for having made an incredible comeback from his treatments for testicular cancer and winning the world's greatest cycling event - the Tour de France - six years in a row.
He put his fame to good use and created a foundation for cancer research that has raised tons and tons of money in large part through the sale of $1 yellow rubber bracelets imprinted with the motto: LIVESTRONG.

Even though Lance and I didn't share the same illness, I was inspired by his story, courage and cause. I bought several of the bracelets and gave them out to my family on Thanksgiving - I told them at the time that I was certain I would beat ''this liver thing'' and life would be better than ever.

I thank God, my donor and my donor's family and my doctors each day that this has been the case.
I'm living stronger each day and I am stronger each day.
I proudly wear my LIVESTRONG bracelet all the time. I was surprised when a young African-American couple waiting at the NYU transplant clinic asked me what the meaning of it was. I thought everyone knew by now - but I guess if you're at the transplant clinic you can be excused for being a bit out of touch with some parts of the outside world.

I'm proud to wear a green bracelet next to it (not just because the two together remind me of the colors of the flag of wonderful Brazil). This one bears the words DONATE LIFE and the Spanish translation DONE VIDA. My ''vide'' is far from ''done,'' if you'll excuse the pun, thanks to my donor family. As I've said, I have a strong feeling (but no confirmation) that my donor was of Hispanic heritage, and in her honor, I wear the band with the Spanish words showing.
This wonderful bracelet was one of many gifts from a thoughtful neighbor, Nancy.

(You can get one, too, for just $1 at )

Someone thought the green one represented a sports team and told me there are ones being sold now bearing the names and numbers of Yankees players. That to me is an abomination (not just because I'm a Red Sox fan), but because of the worthy, life and death causes that these bands have come to symbolize.

I chance upon an old 60 Minutes interview with Lance that was being shown on ESPN Classic the other day. In it, he said that not all the changes the cancer brought to his body were bad. Since he lost 15-20 pounds and kept them off while working out to get stronger, he became a more formidable rider and able to tackle the Tour's punishing hills.

I feel the same. I'm holding my weight near 180 pounds now - roughly my weight of 20 years ago. That's down from near 240 lbs three years ago and 20-30 lbs below were I was before I got sick last July. Thankfully, it's also more than 20 pounds greater than my sickly weight just before and after the transplant.

I'm determined to take my new (scarred but slimmer) body and keep it in the best shape I can. I'm determined to keep up the exercise after I'm back to work later this summer- and LIVESTRONGer every day. Who's with me?

Today's thoughts for the day, from our calendar, are worth sharing:

''It is a great thing to do little things well.''
''God comforts us to make us comforters, not comfortable.''
''To ease another's heartache is to forget one's own.''


At 2:41 PM, Anonymous CrudeBoy said...

I'm gald you are feeling better and have overcome this great challenge.

The weight challenge is the hardest part of getting older. I'm spending much more time in the gym and having less to show for it. I keep on working on it, however.

The oil world needs your cogent analysis, so hurry back.


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