Life According to Me: General Update

Sunday, November 22, 2009

     I'm actually not even certain as to where to start with this post, so I'll just jump right in.  Life has been busy.  For those of you that actually read this site, and know me on a personal level, you know that I have a left knee that has been "angry" for the last 18 months.  The first surgery came and went, with the doctor simply removing most of my medial meniscus and sending me on my way.  That procedure was obviously not the "fix" I needed, because I was back a few months later complaining of even more pain and an inability to train for cycling.  
     My new doctor (we'll call him Dr. G) was more than happy to do whatever he could in order to get me back on the bike and feeling happy and living pain free.  Within about a month of seeing him, surgery #2 was scheduled, and the road to recovery was started--again.  The first few weeks post-op were great, but soon the pain returned, the knee continued to lock, and now, more than ever, I actually felt the inside grinding itself away.  This was not good.  I was soon sent to see a pain specialist to help get my pain levels under control, but this too has proved to be a challenge.  Meanwhile, Dr. G injected me with some great stuff called Synvisc, which was designed to fill in the void within the joint, help calm down the inflammation, and "oil" the surfaces to promote a fluid motion.  This worked for about a month.  I was then in even more pain, and was no longer capable of living my active lifestyle.  Each day since, has been spent in pain and discomfort.  Some days, I am barely able to walk up the stairs to my bedroom at night--good days and bad days are never predictable.  During a follow up visit, Dr. G informed me that he and his friend, Dr. V, had been discussing my issues and that he wanted me to go visit Dr. V and hear what he had to say.  Onward I went.
     After reviewing my files and current films, Dr. V. felt as if another surgery would benefit me a great deal.  The only question: What type of surgery?  To answer this, he needed to take a few more scans and review my chart for a couple of days to be certain.  And so, I had standing and regular scans taken from the hip down in order for Dr. V. to understand my knee alignment, among other things.  Finally, after about a week, he gave me a call to discuss my options.  Dr. V. felt that he could help to fix the majority of my problem through a few procedures, all totaling a roughly 4.5 hour surgery. 1) Femoral Micro Fracture-- they would basically drill holes in the bottom of my femur to encourage blood supply and help cartilage growth.  2)  Cell harvest-- harvest cartilage cells so that the next time I need surgery they can implant my own cartilage that has been grown in a lab.  3)  General debris removal-- clean out the joint.  4)  Meniscus transplant-- from a cadaver donor they will take a meniscus that matches my measurements the closest and transplant it into my medial compartment.  Talk about a "to do" list.  I thought this sounded like a plan, and gave him the go ahead.  By the next day, I was on the transplant list and all I could do was wait.
     One month later, the unthinkable occurred--a phone call.  My donor was available, I needed to plan a surgery date.  What the hell?  I thought this was going to take 4 months before I would probably get one, I haven't even been thinking about this.  Turns out, someone that fit me better than the other 4 people on the list came up... it was go time.  I agreed to accept the meniscus and frantically started trying to clear my schedule.  Now, here I am, just a few weeks later, and weeks before surgery.
     My surgery date is slotted for December 9.  This will be surgery #3 for this one injury, but surgery #11 overall.  The odd thing... I am somewhat nervous going into this one, but was rarely nervous for any other procedures.  According to Dr. V., I will not be allowed to walk for roughly 8 weeks after surgery.  On top of that, I will be in PT for approximately 10 months.  It will be 3 months before I regain anywhere close to full motion, and it will be 6 months before my muscles in my left leg are as strong as they are today.  Wow.  Talk about a long road.  Regardless of the pain, time, effort, and work involved--I'm up for it.  I'm willing to do anything in order to get my active lifestyle back. I miss it dearly.  It's actually sad when I think about it, my girlfriend has never known me to have a good knee.  To me, that is just crazy.  She has no idea who the "old" me is (or was).  I was the hiking, climbing, running, cycling, former athlete.  I was the cyclist with a competitive future and records to break.  Now I'm just a regular worker, an aspiring writer, a reader of tons of books, and a guy that looks at his bike when he wakes up and before he goes to sleep.  Quite the contrast.
     All of this being said, I have to admit, had it not been for this injury I probably would not have been reading as much as I have, nor writing.  I can't begin to describe how much of an impact my reading and writing has had on my life in the last 1.5 years.  Sure, I still want to break some of those cycling records; but, I also want to complete a novel and have it published.  I want to touch the lives of others, just as the authors I've been reading have impacted my own.  It all sounds cliche, but it's the truth.  Words are wisdom (it's what I say) and I hope to be able to share my thoughts with readers of my own, possibly inspiring them to do the same.  Truth be told, with these numerous weeks of not being able to walk, in my immediate future, I'm going to get a lot of reading and writing done.

I'll keep you all posted.  Thanks for being my readers.

Words are Wisdom.


The Running of LeRoy Baker: The Explanation

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Donald Baker's Cabin
Peaks County, Colorado
November 20th

After taking a few steps, LeRoy glances into the living room, which is illuminated by the flickering light of the TV, to get a better view of Donald.  Instead, LeRoy sees the faint light of a dying fire creeping up the wall behind an empty leather chair.  Donald, is not in the room.

"Where'd 'n hell he go?" LeRoy thinks.

LeRoy sees movement on the floor by the chair, as Rocky paws his way to the back wall of the living room.  The door is ajar.

"Must be fetchin' wood out back." LeRoy assures himself.
"Gettin' pretty cold anyhow." LeRoy begins to shiver.

LeRoy's mind ponders over the best way to go about confronting his brother.  Donald has always been a little jumpy, especially at night, so LeRoy figures it is best to quietly approach the house and knock on the door--only after making certain that Donald is alone.  LeRoy has an air of confidence about him after successfully approaching the house without alerting anyone, but he needs to be careful.  Had LeRoy found evidence of someone else lurking nearby, he would have backtracked and never returned.  On the other hand, should Donald have been entertaining a known guest, LeRoy would simply have waited it out--no matter the cold.  Feeling fairly certain that Donald is, not only alone, but in the back yard collecting another pile of wood, LeRoy hastens his steps for the final distance to the front porch.

"I swear, if ya move one more inch, I'm gonna scatter ya head all across this porch."  Says the voice behind LeRoy, as the barrel digs its way into the skin of his neck.

"Truth is, nobody probably gonna hear the gun go off, no how, we're all alone up here."  LeRoy can't help but to notice a slight hint of pleasure the speaker has in saying this.

"Look..." LeRoy begins to say, before being interrupted.

"No sir, you don't talk.  I'm the one gonna be doin' talkin'!"

"Donald... It's me, LeRoy."

"LeRoy?" Donald's voice becomes strained with confusion.
"LeRoy, what are you..."

"Donald, shutup.  And if ya don't mind, stop pointin' that thing at my head!" LeRoy demands in a stern, but low volumed, tone.  Donald lowers the shotgun, and LeRoy turns to face his brother.

"LeRoy, what are ya doin' here?  What's goin' on?  Aren't you supposed to be..."

"We need to be gettin' inside, Donald.  I'll explain everything then.  We just need to be gettin' inside before somebody sees us." LeRoy says in haste.

"But.. LeRoy, we're..."

"I know, just trust me.  I'll tell ya as much as I can once we get inside, but no more talking out here." LeRoy begs.

Donald nods and motions for LeRoy to follow him around to the back of the house.  The front door is locked.  Silently, they ease their way through the maze of darkness to the back door.  Once inside, the blinds are drawn and the doors bolted.  The two men stair at one another, not sure who should speak first.  Snow begins to fall on the ranch, as a blanket of uncertainty covers the mood inside of Donald Baker's home.

"Donald, I think you need take a seat." LeRoy hints.

"I reckon I do," Donald replies, "because last time I checked, ya shoulda been sittin' in a cell at the Supermax in Florence."
"You aren't up for release for another 5 years... how'd 'n the hell ya make it a hundred and seventy miles from there, to here?" Donald glares at his younger brother.

"Bro, I know it's been a long while, " LeRoy's eyes begin to water, "but I really need your help."
"You gotta understand, though..." LeRoy pauses and looks past Donald searching for an explanation that will make sense.
"You gotta... This thing is deep, Don.  This thing is real deep and real scary."

"LeRoy..." Donald also pauses, trying desperately to choose his next words cafefully.
"...I'm here for ya, LeRoy.  I know we haven't talked since ya messed up and went to prison a few years back, but I'm here for my brother.  You just gotta be honest with me and not keep no secrets."

LeRoy nods in an uneasy manner, but agreeing none the less.

"Now tell me, how'd ya get out of supermax years before ya even be up for parole?" Donald's voice sounds shaky, perhaps worried of the answer.

"It's a long story, bro..."

"I've got time, LeRoy.  What are ya doin' out of the ADX?"  Donald, pours two tumblers full of scotch as he searches for answers.

"Don, maybe if you'd at least written, you'd know I wasn't in with the tough boys."  LeRoy's voice conveys in anger.
"I was in the minimum security tract.  The Unabomber wasn't my cell neighbor.  I was locked up around guys busted for fraud just like me."
"Gettin' out wasn't the hardest thing I've ever done.  I'll save you some time and just reassure you that I didn't kill anyone to get out, I just tricked 'em."

"LeRoy," Donald shakes his head in disbelief, "you always was a con man."

"Donald..." LeRoy's face looks to be more serious.
"had I not walked out of there, I'd probably be a dead man today."

"What are ya talkin' 'bout?"

"Just like I said, bro.  I caught wind of something while I was in there."  LeRoy's face begins to lose color.
"The guy that told me about it had been transferred from a prison down in Mississippi, Parchman--some place like a farm.  Three days ago he was found hanged in his cell.  He wasn't the suicide type... if ya dig what I'm gettin' at."

LeRoy becomes solemn and looks at his brother with worry.

"Don, I knew if I didn't get out of there I would be next."

"Well, I don't know 'bout all that LeRoy, but..."

"Don," LeRoy interrupts, "don't you find it a little odd that the news ain't talking about a prison escape?"

"Why would the cops not be lookin' for ya?  Maybe the news ain't heard about it yet?" Donald asks in a hopefull manner.

"Don, they don't need to be looking for me.  They got someone out hunting me.  They want to find me and shut me up for good, before I have time to tell others.  He almost saw me last night, until I slipped in the woods near the pass."

"What kind of guy they got after ya?" asks Donald.
"And what exactly do ya know, anyhow?"

"I need to keep the knowin' to myself, for now, bro.  He's some paramilitary guy.  Cold.  Calculative.  Military skills but not the looks.  It's just strange.  Saw him at a truck stop below the pass.  It was definately him.  Seemed to just be looking around, not talking to anyone, though.  Hunting."

"cal-u-tat... a para what?" Donald stutters.
"LeRoy, I know you are the smart one, the college kid and all, but what are you telling me?"

"Bro, this guy is a pro.  He takes care of other people's problems."
LeRoy takes a finishing swig of his three fingers of scotch.
"I'm someone's problem."

Sensing the stress, Donald hands LeRoy what is left of his scotch.  LeRoy is quick to deposit the drink in the company of his own.  The stress is still there, just blurry and numb, for now.

Down the road, the hustle and bustle of swanky living continues in Juniper Grove, as locals celebrate the first snow storm of the season.  The slow lifestyle of the small town of Rockpoint continues, as usual, unbeknownst to the happenings up the hill at Donald Baker's ranch.  Outside, the snow continues to fall over the scape of uncertainty that has surrounded the once quiet way of life in Peaks County, Colorado.  Within a few minutes, blizzard conditions ensue and cover up any trace of footsteps around the Baker property.  Planted in curiosity, the black boots of Peaks County Sheriff, John Maxwell, become white--and the remaining trace of his presence at the top of Donald Baker's driveway soon covered in snow.

As the storm intensifies, Donald and LeRoy fall in and out of sleep--the fire soon dies, leaving the room lit only by a flickering TV.  The fading footsteps of Sheriff Maxwell lead to an SUV parked at the front gate of the Baker ranch. Quietly, the sheriff puts his Tahoe into neutral, allowing the vehicle to roll several yards away from the gate before starting the engine and blindly driving back towards the town of Rockpoint.  Morning will surely hold more questions, as a body awaits discovery outside of Juniper Grove.

The Running of LeRoy Baker: The Encounter

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Donald Baker's Cabin
Peaks County, Colorado
November 20th

The wind wove its way through the Aspen trees, carefully tracing its steps in a delicate dance among the base of each member of the grove.  What was left of the fall confetti stirred in unison with the invisible sweeper, the noise just loud enough to cover the footsteps hiding in the shadows.  A flicker of white and blue light pierced the darkness from the windows of the house, as Donald Baker sat alone in his living room watching re-runs of his favorite show. Meanwhile, the shadow of LeRoy Baker navigated the darkness, like a moth seeking a flickering candle.  Each step, bringing him closer to a possible life altering, or ending, moment in time.

As the wind began to die down, LeRoy felt a worrisome undertone cover his body. No longer having the stirring of leaves to mask his surgical footsteps, LeRoy might as well be ringing a bell to announce his arrival.  Donald, also takes notice of the changing weather.  Rising from his well worn leather chair, Donald makes his way to the living room window, casting a glance above the trees--searching for the approaching storm.  LeRoy quickly notices the silhouette of his older, estranged, brother in the window.

"Christ," LeRoy thinks to himself.
"He's seen me."

"Could be our first winter storm." Donald says to his dog, Rocky.
"God knows this temperature has been falling all night."

The weather is unseasonably warm for this time of year in Peaks County, Colorado.  Typically, every inch of ground is covered by a foot of snow by now.  Just another twenty more miles down the highway sits one of the most famous ski towns in the country, Juniper Grove--its slopes remain thirsty for the white stuff.  There has even been talk that the opening day of ski season might be pushed back, but a strong winter storm could change everything.  Donald Baker's place is no different, but time has taught him well.  When winter holds off from painting the hills white in November, it usually means a storm will take care of a dry month in only a matter of days.  The week, just as the month, has been fairly warm--until now.  The temperature is quickly dropping from the sixties into the low thirties.  A storm is surely on the way.

Donald Baker's house sits in an aspen grove.  The front of the house faces the majority of the grove, and located just beyond is a sprawling field for horses and cattle.  Though Donald owns neither, he rents the land out for grazing.  The rear of the house has enough room for a stock pile of fire wood and a large area for a prized garden.  The tall, wire, fence helps to keep the wildlife from robbing Donald of his hard labor.  Just beyond the fence, a large sloping hill works its way up to the main gate and road.  The house is perfectly hidden from view.  Should curious eyes peer down onto the property from the road, not a single square foot of the log home can be seen.  Donald enjoys his privacy, but holds nothing against the public.  He worked hard and saved his money, built the house with his own hands, and now, spends his time enjoying the land and quiet.  Little does Donald know, LeRoy will soon interrupt his quiet way of life--and it may never be the same.

As LeRoy eases his way to the edge of the grove, he is a mere twenty yards from the front porch.  He's not being quiet out of fear of his brother, he is worried for much worse reasons. Granted, he and his brother didn't leave things on the best of terms, but this is the furthest from his mind.  Slowly, LeRoy concentrates as he takes his first careful step on the gravel drive way.  Looking down at his feet, planning his next step, LeRoy does not notice his brother step out the back door to fetch more fire wood.

Occasionally, Donald loses track of the dying fire--tonight is no different.  Though he's comfortable, Donald would rather stir from his seat now, instead of during the coming blizzard.  As he rises from his chair he catches a movement out of the corner of his eye--something is in the trees. Pausing to look a little harder, Donald catches movement again.  Whatever is moving in the trees appears to be tall. He watches for roughly another minute, and without seeing anything, walks towards the back door to retrieve more fire wood--probably just a deer.  At night, and due to the bear presence in the mountains, Donald takes his 12 ga. shotgun outside with him.  While walking towards the woodpile, Donald pauses and hears something in the driveway--something, walking methodically.  Curious, Donald begins to ease around the house. Though most likely a bear, Donald lives alone and miles from anyone, he'd rather just make sure.

The barrel is cold when pressed to the bare skin on the back of LeRoy's neck.  Even more cold, to the point of bone chilling, is the sound of the safety being clicked off. LeRoy stops in his tracks, and must remind himself to breathe.