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June 15, 2017 (updated June 3, 2018): I'm off the bike for now, or "The Summer (and Fall & Winter) I Didn’t Work in a Bike Shop!"

Shop owner Michael Wolfe was diagnosed with a recurrence of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in June, 2017. On these pages he has been chronicling both his treatment and his life on the bike and in the shop.

On this page: Original June 15 post explaining Michael Wolfe's diagnosis and initial treatment for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Posts about riding, Lymphoma therapy and the bicycle business:

Closing the storefront: June 3: We've closed the storefront, but we're still in the bike business; a 2014 story about South Salem Cycleworks in the Statesman-Journal

Late 2017 and 2018 posts: March 17, 2018 - December 13, 2017

Previous 2017 posts: October 12 - December 11

Still earlier 2017 posts: June 19 - September 17


Original June 15, 2017:

I’ve been off my bike for three weeks now, and am not sure when I’ll feel up to it again.

I began experiencing lower abdomen pain, back, maybe kidney, unable to sleep very well, and finally towards the end of April went into to check it out. They observed me, took a chest x-ray and scheduled me for a CT scan for the 16th of May. The nights became a roulette of finding positions in bed, the couch, even the toilet attempting to relieve the pain. After a few more days, I called them and said I need to get that CT Scan sooner, but they were booked up. They promised to put me at the head of the cancellation list, and I was surprised to have them the next day to inform me that they had the cancellation the following morning. But before I left that day, they called and the specialist was sick, and I would need to re-schedule for the 24th. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, and on the morning of the 24th at 2am, unable to sleep or sit, I got on my bike and pedaled around the neighborhood for 45 mins with no pain. I came home and caught a 20 min nap, woke up with the same amount of pain, and rode for another two hours without pain, pushing myself hard in hopes of the exertion would allow me to sleep upon my return and make it to the 2pm CT Scan.

The pain prevented any hopes of sleep, and instead of riding some more, I woke up my wife to take me down to Urgent Care of the Salem Hospital. I thought about just riding down there, and letting my wife sleep, but it was close to her regular rising time anyway. Would have made a better story if I’d ridden, just would have been more complicated for my family.

It was a good time for a check-in at an ER but the wait seemed infinite. I may have been awake when they inserted a Foley catheter or not, but they emptied over a liter out of my bladder and I guess I’d had some pain meds as well, the pressure was gone, just an irritation lingered. They got a CT scan immediately which revealed growths around my left kidney and surrounding areas there. They did a biopsy which later to their relief, showed that the non-Hodgkins lymphoma I’d been treated for in 2002 had returned. The option would have surgery and removing body parts. Nice choice, eh!

I spent 4-5 days grogged-out before being sent home. Nice folks, a really good inspirational crew. Wasn’t looking forward to being returned to the hands of Kaiser Permanente my health insurance provider whom I’d had to wait so long for the CT scan.  KP was not aware of the cancer treatment I’d received in 2002, to my surprise, but in juggling the expenses of health care, we’d switched providers since then. Worse, Salem Oncology, where I was treated by Bud Pierce, who ran against Kate Brown for Oregon governor this last round, destroyed the records on a ten-year-rotation, as they hadn’t started computerized filing until 2013! Someone there sleuthed the name of the treatment from the billing department, R-CHOP.  I remember riding my bike thru the entire 12 weeks of treatment, with the exception of the day of the weekly chemo injection, and finally learning to hate even the taste of lime popcicles!

I was released after 4 days at Salem Hospital.  Upon a consultation with the oncologist at Kaiser Permanente, I was scheduled for a 10:30 PET scan, but had to be taken to Portland for that.  My folks drove me, and while I just wanted to snooze, my lovely 87-year-old stepfather had to make comments on cars, interchanges, weather, etc.  I wasn’t worried about getting there, he’s pretty proficient with his navigation system, but his reaction times are not that of a younger person, and listening to directions in crowded Portland traffic and having to make decisions had ultimately involve me as well!  Such is life!  We made it, but I’d made the ultimate boo-boo!

After waiting for a half hour, they wheeled me back into a corner of the facility, and asked if I’d consumed any food during the last six hours, and I replied I hadn’t since just before 6 am.  Brake lights really lit up at that point!  Not possible, the scan isn’t accurate with only a 4 hour fast.  I asked if I could wait another couple hours — no, they were booked up.  I explained that I was supposed to return to Portland at 8:30 the next morning to undergo a week of chemo treatments, and if re-scheduling a PET scan would really mess things up.  She hesitated, and said she’d look to see if there was anything she could do.  She returned and informed me that she had a couple of regulars who had shown up early, could move them up and shoe-horn me in at the appropriate time.  Whew!  I explained to my patient parents awaiting a very sterile atmosphere outside.

My folks drove me up the next morning to the Sunnyside Hospital on 205, and yes, there was some traffic jam, which I think secretly delighted my stepfather in his search for the faster lane, but had me constantly looking for brake lights coming on!  He drives a lot less aggressively than a decade ago, the gas pedal doesn’t get as much force as it used to, but his ability to keep his peripheral vision when scanning to see an open lane and not tailgate left me in unease.  I wasn’t sure what to do when we got there, whether to thank my folks and send them on home, or again have them wait for eventual initial consultation. They didn’t really have to wait, not much new info was dispersed, so I sent them home.

During the last five days, I’ve had three different drenches of chemo with no nausea, thank god. I got to watch a lot of DVD’s, which initially no one could find a remote that would work with it! The nurse’s would have to stand by and fast forward the disc to the play button before leaving, and I had no way to pause for the numerous vital checks and other routines of life in a hospital room. If fell asleep, well find someone to rewind for you!

I did take a few books with me, notably Repack and the Birth of Mountain Biking Fat-Tire Flyer by Charlie Kelly, which I’d initially ordered as a “well, it’s a bike story” kind of read, but turned out to be pretty engaging. The other books I took were pretty dated, or superfluously light reading.

Ever since American Cycling ceased to be a book distributor, I’ve fallen behind on books. Bill McGann, the founder of Torelli, publishes books on bike racing and lives up the road in McMinnville. He manages my webpage, and is currently adding bicycles, framesets, and parts to it as an ongoing gallery. He doesn’t watch movies unless they are bike related! Here at home, I have Netflix to entertain my veggie brain, but still at this point, I find I’ve fallen asleep though as much as an episode of some show.

Three weeks off the bike, and my right knee wants me to remember the tear it received nearly 4 decades ago! Just a daily pedal to the shop and back has kept it in place. I’ve yet to ride that Ritchey P-29’r, but it is now set up in the living room on a trainer for watching Netflix, when I can get on it. Catheter has got to go first, I think!

Be my virtual rider,

Michael