Saturday, August 27, 2011

Life in the slow lane...

We are moving. Everywhere I look I see boxes. I open cupboards and they are empty. Drawers are the same. Why on earth did we pack the ice cream scoop? The garage is getting filled close to overflowing with boxes and tubs. The seller of our new home are on track with his end of the bargain and may be out with a few days to spare so that we can rent those days and start moving early. We need every day we can get. But we have the buyers from hell. They have asked for the impossible and for the ridiculous time after time. Their own agent has cautioned them and yet they persevere. Of course, as sellers in a buyers market, we're stuck and have to try and comply with as many of their ridiculous requests as we can. But, they are 'Cash' buyers...and that is their only redeeming feature.
For myself, this is all a very difficult time. Both before and after my surgeries I have been cautioned to not exert myself in any way. Don't pick up more than 10#'s. Don't do this and don't do that. And so I'm stuck watching while my wife and family does the work that I should be doing. I's a male ego thing and I should just get over it. Consider myself lucky. But with close to 71 years of male conditioning behind me, it's not all that easy.

Talking about it

A little over  a week ago I went to the local hospital for a simple surgery. The surgeon was going to adjust the position of the ‘paddle lead’ in my back so that I could use the Spinal Cord Stimulator Implant. The following is how I remember it… Can you believe it? A week has gone by and five of those days were spent in the hospital. I went in for the simple one hour ‘day’ surgery and after four hours of this surgery it was decided that I should spend the night in the hospital. No problem. Until that evening. I was up and walking around without a problem. I spent some time talking to my daughter, Alicia, just before I went to bed. And it was about half an hour later that the pain began. Real pain. Off the charts pain. The pain was around my hips and I was unable to lie down with my legs straightened out. I had to sleep in a fetal position. I was asking for and receiving pain meds constantly. Finally, they gave me a morphine pump and I could then give the meds to myself as I needed them. And I needed them almost constantly. With every push of the button I got .2 mg of morphine every ten minutes if I wanted it, (and I did) and that was on top of the Percocet I was being given every four hours. Plus Valium every four hours. Guess what? I was not drugged in the least. The pain was still there. All I had to do was to move as if I were going to straighten out and I would scream. Okay, my screaming wasn’t very loud. After all, I’m a guy and we’re not supposed to scream. The next day, the doctors wanted to take a CT scan of my back and hips and I was unable to lie down on the gurney they had sent for me. I tried getting on the gurney twice but ended up taking a wheel chair down to the radiology department, but only after the nurse gave me an injection of morphine, a full 2 mg in the hope that this would be enough to enable me to lay flat for the three minutes required for a scan. It wasn’t. As soon as I tried to lay down on the sliding table for the scan, the pain had me scrambling to get off of that flat surface. Finally, the two tech’s were able to hold up both sides of the sheet I had below me and slid me carefully into position. I lowered my legs slowly while wrapping my arms tightly about my chest to hold back the pain. They slid me in to the machine and the process started. I was in pure agony for the next three minutes and I was shaking after it was over. Naturally, the scan revealed nothing amiss and that left the doctors scratching their heads. Finally, it was decided to do nothing and just let it run its course…if there were a ‘course’ and to give me all the meds I needed for pain. Four days later, I had given up the pump and about half of the other pain meds. It was time to go home. What caused the pain? No one knows for certain but it had to be a result of an insult to some? nerve during the spinal surgery.
Ah, yes! The spinal surgery. The plan was to open my back and then wake me up. While questioning me, the surgical site held open with all sorts of retractors and clamps, they would move the ‘paddle’ lead in the hope of finding a position that would enable a signal to reach my right hip. They did just that and I was soon awake and talking to the surgeon, who I could not see. My vision was limited to the floor directly below me and the feet and knees of the anesthesiologist. The surgeon asked questions and I answered. But all to no avail as I felt nothing happening to my right hip. Finally the surgeon said it was time for me to go back to sleep again as he was sure I didn’t want to be awake while he did the next thing in his ‘bag of tricks’. That ‘trick’ was to remove the paddle lead and place it behind the vertebrae directly below. Unfortunately, for both of us, my body had developed scar tissue of ‘biblical proportions’ all around the paddle and he had to chisel it out. Then he had to chisel out a space for a new paddle in the space below. And since it was a new paddle, he had to make another incision at the site of the transmitter so that he could remove the old lead and connect the new one. (My back has to look simply amazing, with scars everywhere!) Then it was time to wake me up again and ask all of the same questions. All very boring and I answered them all to the best of my ability though I really wanted to go back to sleep. I should mention that I had no pain at all during these times when I was awake. Finally, it was decided that I had done my best and once more I was told ‘Good night!’ by the anesthesiologist and I was out, like a light. When I woke up in the recovery room, I was given all sorts of ‘attaboys’ by the surgeon and nurses for my lucid answers during the surgery. And all were amazed that I remembered it at all. Apparently, most patients don’t remember any part of this procedure. I suppose I did because I was very curious about it. I remember asking the anesthesiologist (jokingly) if it were possible for her to give me something that would allow for an out of body experience so that I might stand behind the surgeon and watch. Unfortunately, even the most advanced of anesthetics don’t allow for such a thing. A shame.
My mind is still not drug free and I don’t know when it will be. I can only hope it will be soon. In the meantime, I continue to take my Percocet, Norco, Dilaudid and Valium as needed but in smaller amounts. A good pill cutter was a small expense and well worth it.
Now I wait for Monday morning when I will meet with the St Jude rep who will turn on the Spinal Cord Stimulator (Again!) and try to program it to hit all the pain spots. I wish I were as optimistic about it as I was a few months ago; before the failure. Now, cynic that I am, I am well prepared for it to fail. And if it does, I’m leaving the hardware in place and will not go through another surgery in one more attempt to make it work. I can and will adjust my life plans to include the pain and the narcotics to ease the pain. Maybe I can find a good recipe for marijuana brownies…

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The market

Does anyone else - besides me - get the feeling that the recent wild gyrations in the stock market are due the machinations of 'insiders' and money is being made no matter which way the market moves? While our money is lost? Just wondering.


I subscribe to the quarterly "Wooden Boat Magazine" not because I own a wooden boat - I don't - but I read it for the sense of peace I get when I view the beautiful photos of hand built boats of all ages, sizes and descriptions. Really. I enter a different world when I open this magazine. All the strife and pain goes away as I'm captured by the beauty... and the daydreams. It's easy to see yourself at the helm or the rudder or even with a paddle in your hand.

I'm not posting here because I get something from the publisher - I don't. I'm just posting this because any alternative to the harsh realities of the day might be welcomed. Daydreams are good for the soul!

Boats for Sale - WoodenBoat MarketPlace - Online Classifieds

ps I have a plan to build a boat, my first, with my middle grandson. I have the plans for an 8' long Puddle Duck Racer and once we're moved, I will buy the necessary plywood and glue, the screws and the trim and then we will immerse ourselves in the project. I have it planned for a winter 'build' and then when spring rolls around, we'll be able to hoist the sails!

Monday, August 8, 2011


I'm watching the news as the market plunges more than 600 points today. And there is only one place for the blame and that is the Republican Party. And because of their arrogance and stupidity, we will not only lose our place in the world's pecking order. All US citizens will lose out as well as all of those things that make up a prosperous society are eliminated...people will die because of this. Not only in this country but all over the globe. This is not just something that will affect our wallets. We will be losing our humanity in the days ahead. I'm so ashamed...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Defense Department

It used to be named the 'War Department'. It was the War Department for hundreds of years. It needs to be renamed the War Department....because that is what they do.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Expertise, Dogma, and the Journalism of Crackpot Ideas -

When will these people ever learn? Now, it seems more and more as if we are going to get a chance to see the the republicans try these failed ideas once again. Weren't Reagan and Bush failures enough? Do we really have to do it again?

Why, yes...I am mad

"The United States may have saved its credit rating, but world leaders say its reputation may have faltered." think so? I know our countries reputation has certainly faltered among its citizens! Where was the leadership! Failures! each and every one of them. I hope that now we can see them all for what they really are. Fakes and liars!