Monday, April 16, 2007

Sun 'N Fun 'N Wind 'N Stress 'N Florida Drivers 'N...

I've had an enjoyable stay in Florida so far... and now, the time has come to pay for it. I arrived in Jacksonville Wednesday, and spent a few days at ANN HQ in Green Cove Springs. My boss found a beautiful house -- with hangar -- on a small airpark nearby. Friday afternoon, I sat on the front porch, posting stories on the website, while watching a Sonex homebuilt and what looked to me like a Siai Marchetti buzzing the field. Like I said, cool.

Saturday, after taking the boss to the airport and grabbing an oft-delayed Starbucks on the way back, I drove to St. Augustine to see the Atlantic. (If I could upload pics, I could show you some of the shots I took... sigh. I've now waded in the three largest bodies of water bordering the US... all that's missing is the Great Lakes. That isn't a goal of mine, per se... but it was my first time seeing the Atlantic Ocean, which was very cool.

After that, I decided to splurge and take a helicopter tour of St. Augustine. I'd never been on a helicopter before -- I view them as sins against nature, as any flying machine whose inherent nature is to spin itself to pieces should be considered -- and I figured the $65 price for a 20-minute ride over St. Aug was worth it. I was right. I now have a newfound respect for whirlybirds... but still not enough to consider getting a rotorcraft ticket.

Yesterday -- sigh -- I drove from GCS down to Winter Haven, to set up shop for ANN's annual Sun 'N Fun coverage. Heading out to the field later today to take a look at things, and to get credentialed. More staffers are arriving tonight, and the affair kicks off tomorrow.

After that, comes marathon trips to NM (house-hunting), Austin (skate-filming -- no, Monk, I haven't forgotten), Omaha (Grammie is moving into assisted living at the end of this month) and, if I can possibly manage, an oft-delayed trip to Vegas to celebrate my friend's 39th birthday (how delayed? He just turned 40.) Sigh.

Oh, and somewhere in there, wrapping up my sport pilot training and getting my license. Oh, and writing about it.

Busy times ahead...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Too... Much... Information...

A quick catch-up on recent events. This "posting only once a month" thing isn't working out... sadly, this isn't the only writing endeavour I've had difficulties in keeping up with. I haven't posted a "Return to Flight" article for ANN in over a month... I have enough material for at least three of them, just haven't had the time to write.

Anyway -- again -- a lot has gone on in the past month. The SportStar is back in the air at long last, and I've had the chance to solo it twice -- once in the pattern, once out in the practice area. That was the first time I've flown a plane away from an airport (all told, about 10 miles from GPM) in almost two years. It felt good.

Had an awesome talk with my friend Monk a few weekends back, after shooting more scenes for the skating vid. He nailed a new trick -- don't ask me what it was, some "flip the board around and end-over-end before landing on it again" deal -- and that positive energy flowed into a chat over coffee afterwards. We haven't had enough of those talks, just he and I. Sad we realize that three months before I head back to ABQ (at least there's email... and cheap Southwest fares.)

Last Friday, I drove down to Kerrville, TX to visit with the folks at Evektor America -- the American assembler and distributor of the SportStar. Got to chat with them on a variety of subjects, which was fun and informative, and I also got to sample what it's like to fly a fully-loaded EV55 (glass panel and all), as well as what it's like to land in a 14-knot crosswind. A fun, and instructional, trip. The drive down there was beautiful and hassle-free, with blue skies, sunshine and light traffic.  The drive home the next morning was the exact opposite -- complete with snow (!) near Waco.

Monday, I had my checkup with Dr. B. I'd already seen the results of the CT scan earlier, and another doc appointment to check on my progress after the lung infection in August. All was well -- all is well -- but Dr. B mentioned a possible problem area down the line: some of the lymph nodes in my belly are showing up more than they should. He revealed they also showed up on my scan in December. At the moment, they're all under one centimeter in diameter, which means they're not an immediate cause for concern. The fact they also haven't grown appreciably larger in four months is also an indicator they're probably -- PROBABLY -- nothing to worry about, at least on the cancer front. "Some radiologists don't even mention them unless they're over a centimeter," Dr. B told me.

But, being Dr. B, he still brought them up. "We'll keep an eye on them," he told me, which of course sent me into a near panic. He then proceeded to bump my scheduled visits from every month, to every two months -- in keeping with the suggested post-one-year observation schedule. That's a good sign in itself, as they're not worrisome enough to Dr. B to keep a closer eye on them. In fact, my next checkup, in June, will be a chest x-ray -- which doesn't scan the belly. The next CT is at the appointment in August, by which time I'll be back in ABQ.

I know I shouldn't worry. It's probably nothing -- and when my overly-cautious oncologist says that (which he did, after some prodding) that's probably something I can bank on. Still... I wish he wouldn't have said anything, then. That's just enough information for me to have, to be dangerous. After all... when TC spreads, the belly lymph nodes are typically the first place it goes.

But it hasn't done that in a year... and if it WAS TC spreading, they'd probably be bigger than they are... especially after four months...

But then why are they showing up at all?