Saturday, April 30, 2011

Medical Gripes And Blogging

I know I haven't been writing a lot lately except for the back door thing, but I feel like I've mostly written about my medical woes for so long and I don't want to continuously gripe about my busted up body and alienate the readers I still have (even though no one comments much, I can see you're there.  Commenting is easy, just say hi!). Yet this place is my blog, my journal, where I give commentary on my life as it passes by and I will record my life's events here, good and bad, and lately it is my back that has been bad.  Actually, I kind of like baring all here for the world to see.  I have no major secrets and nobody can accuse me of otherwise.  I guess my point is that I haven't been writing much because I don't want to bitch and moan - you don't want to hear that, but I will mention it every so often when it warrants just so it is on record. Good news is I think I'm starting to finally feel slightly better and I can get back to having fun writing and sharing.

Today, Saturday, my wife had to go in to work.  She was just thrilled, as you can imagine.  That doesn't get me off the hook, though, there is much to do around here that I can get done.  Our anniversary is coming up and we will be having a party like we did last year so there is a deadline.  I went grocery shopping this morning, I have new smoke detectors to install, we must stain the inside of the new door frame and trim, I have a new shop light to put up in the garage, and there are just piles here and there to go through and put stuff away.  And we still have touch-up painting to do in the bathroom.  Hmm, maybe I should have kept that handyman around a few more days...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Back Door Project: Part Two

It is finally done!  Actually it only took a little over a week and it would have been less if we had perfect weather.  Mark came by last evening to wrap up a couple loose ends and collect the check.  On Saturday he was here to work on the hand rails and almost got them done.  He came back on Monday afternoon to finish the handrails and do the interior trim around the door.  So, what do you think?  I think it will get lots of use, even more if it ever warms up around here!

See the whole progression in bigger pics after the break.  All pics were taken after the work for the day was completed.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Back Door Project: Part One

Ever since we moved in to our house we have thought about putting a door in the three season porch in back for easier access to the garage and back yard and this Spring we finally are having it done.  We took in 7 or 8 bids and after looking them over and discussing the contractors I had talked to we decided on a nice guy named Mark to help us make our idea into reality.  Work started last Monday and has been a bit sporadic over the week due to the weather, but it's not a huge project so should be completed very soon - in plenty of time for our Spring anniversary party.

~There is a corner between the house and the porch that just has flowerbeds, the air conditioner and the telephone line with the driveway on a third side.  This is the area we chose to put the stairs, they will use up a small corner of the lawn and help hide the air conditioner but still give us access to it and the flowerbeds. 

~On Monday work started with the support posts.  He had another guy to help with this part, they had an auger for the two holes away from the porch but had to dig the closer holes by hand.  Four 4x4's four feet in the ground below the frost line with three bags of cement holding each.  The dirt you see here my wife and I moved to various parts of the yard to fill in areas and just to get rid of it.  Doing this work convinced me that I'm not healed enough yet to remove the sod in this area and put in the rock, so I talked with Mark and added this to the project for him to do.

~Tuesday was an off day.  It snowed, rained, then sleeted all day
actually leaving quite a bit of accumulation that stuck around for another day and a half.  It was quite a mess.  On Wednesday he removed the (muddy) sod and put the decking on the landing area.  It was a cold, wet day.

~Thursday he had help again and they made a lot of progress on a nice day.  They put the plastic down and added  the river rock I wanted and finished the stairs.  They also removed the window and got the door installed.  I was very pleased with the progress when I got home from work.  It was finally taking shape!

~Friday was Good Friday, my wife and I had a half day at work.  I only saw Mark briefly in the afternoon, he just stopped by to add the final bags of rock and was on his way, so essentially another off day.  Today, Saturday, Mark showed up ready to work on the hand rails.  After that there's the trim to do around the door inside and other small odds and ends before it is finished. 

This is going to make the whole house feel bigger.  We will have such easier access to the backyard and garage that we will be much more likely to wander out to the garden or grill out in the evenings and it will give the porch more of a purpose and I'm sure we will be using it much more.  So, that's where it stands now.  I'll update more soon!

Bigger pictures after the break:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Leg Appointments This Week

Boy, it's Thursday already. This week it has sure seemed like my world has been just a bit off kilter. There's a lot to tell you about the back door project but I think I will post on that this weekend. In the meantime, let me get on record my medical stuff for this past week.

On Tuesday morning I had my last follow up appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon for my leg. The bone seems to have healed well on the back and sides, but the front still has a ways to go to fill in the gap. He said it may take several months up to a year for it to fully fill in. He also noticed I had a bit of a 'hip limp' and gave me an exercise to help strengthen my hip. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure it was a hip limp or just the sciatica pain in my back right hip/upper butt.

Today after work I had my first physical therapy appointment in about 4 weeks, my 19th overall, I believe. I have only 2 visits left that are approved and paid for by insurance and I scheduled those out 2 and 4 weeks. I need to get back into a rhythm of getting on the bike and doing all my exercises every day again. Neck surgery and recovery, followed by a general malaise this past week got me off track. Anyhow, my therapist worked me over pretty good today which made it clear to me that I have to get to working on it again. The highlight of the session was at the end when we measured the degrees of knee bend. When I had last seen him I was stuck at about the 114 degree mark. This time I had made it up to 122 degrees, which made me happy but I'm still not satisfied. I want more!  But, for a little perspective, it has been almost 8 months now to get this far so, realistically, it may not get much better than this.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Notes

Hello everyone, happy Monday.  I don't really have time or feel like writing, I just wanted to post a quick note today since I haven't written much lately.  There will be a short post at the garden blog tonight as well.

The work started today on the back door project.  I have been taking pictures but I think I will wait until later to post them, either when the project is done so I can show the before and after or maybe this weekend when I have time.  They got a good start on it today but there may be more off days than on for the next week or more due to rainy weather.  It was even snowing when I left for work early this morning!  It may be tomorrow morning, too.  I think that 80 degree day last week was just a hallucination...

That's about it.  After staying well all winter I've been slightly under the weather the last few days, I hope I can shake it before I actually come down with something.  Now, off to do the garden blog!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Umshini Wam

...Whatever that means*.  Die Antwoord are back with an interesting short film.  I've come to like the characters Ninja and Yolandi Visser and here they are with a different artsy project.  They are pretty off the wall, so you'll have to make up your own mind.

*Umshini Wam in english means 'Bring me my machine gun.'

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Packers Draft Poetry And Rainbows

The new NFL draft commercial is a testament to the Packers' way of building their team throught the draft:

I have had a couple successful days back at work now since the time off after the surgery.  I feel fine, still tentative in my neck movements - at this point still tentative at just about any movements.  The serious arm pain improved immediately, now it's just the same multiple superficial price-of-living-in-my-body pains.  *Sigh*
Well, nobody's accused me of spitting poetry and shitting rainbows this week.  Sorry.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pic Dump 28

With more recuperation time off (I'm cleared to go back tomorrow, with restrictions) I have had more time to surf the interwebs and thus now we have number 28 Pic Dump ready to go! Wait, did that make sense? Oh well, you know the drill... click the pics for full size (if different), some may be nsfw and more after the break. Enjoy!
As always, thanks to the fine sites on 'My Other Favorites' list in the right column!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Better Outlook And More House Projects

I hope everyone out there is enjoying a fine Sunday - the nicest so far this year!  It is around 80F outside right now, by far the warmest day of the year so far.  And with the nicer weather my outlook has improved as well.  I've just had so many aches and pains lately, well, you know how it goes.  I don't want to be more of a whiner than I already am so suffice it to say that I'm feeling better today, physically and mentally.  I still have a ways to go to be where I want to be, but that will just take time.  In the meantime, plans and projects move forward!

My wife had the great idea a while ago to get a window film to let light in but still keep our privacy since our house is literally feet away from neighbor Dave's house.  She brought this up over winter and ordered the film, but we had to wait until it was warmer to apply the film to the windows.  That wasn't specifically laid out in the directions for this particular product, but we did see that in some places online and thought it best to wait until it was warmer.   So, yesterday morning she did the kitchen window and there was enough left to do the bottom half of the window in the back bedroom by the computer desk today.  I think it looks great and now we will be much more inclined to open the blinds and let more natural light in the house!

Today, we did the caulking around the tile and countertop in the kitchen.  Not a big job, it was just a matter of doing it.  I think we can finally call this project done....for now.... There's always something next and in the kitchen that might be either a dishwasher or a different set-up for the garbage and recyclables. But for now we can turn our attention elsewhere...

This is a view out the porch into the back yard.  The sun was of course behind clouds when I took these pics just a bit ago!  You can see the grass is just starting to turn green again.  As I write this Kate is outside weeding and then will be washing her car (which we need to get into the shop as soon as I'm cleared to drive again).  In this picture, the window you see on the right wall will be gone soon and a doorway put in.  The custom door (mostly glass)was delivered a few days ago and sits in the garage right now.   We hired a contractor to put in the door, plus a little wooden landing and steps going down to the driveway.  This is going to make our backyard access so much easier for us.  We will be much more inclined to grill, for instance, and eat out on the porch than have to carry food halfway around the house.  This way will be just sooo much more convenient!  Work begins in a little over a week and should be done in plenty of time for our Spring Anniversary Party.  This will be our third party for friends and neighbors since we moved in 2 years ago May, and I hope we can pull it off again as good as, if not better than, last year.  But more on that later...

I'm off to enjoy the rest of the day before the storms move in!  Ta!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Happy 2nd Blogday To Me

It was 2 years ago today I got drunk and started this blog.  It's gone by quick!  I haven't gotten worldwide acclaim, stopped any wars or made the world much of a better place at all.  But I have given myself a kind of outlet for what goes on in my head and in my life while allowing others to look if they want -or not.  I choose not to do the facebook thing, although I may be more 'popular' if I did, I hear of too many bad things that have come from there.  It sucks out peoples souls!  Seriously, I enjoy doing what I do here and here's to many more years!

I still feel like I should be cleared on Wednesday to return to work on Thursday.  I hope I'm feeling better then, physically and emotionally.  My neck gives me no pain anymore, just some discomfort.  I haven't spent any time this past week on the exercise bike or doing anything for my leg.  The day after my surgery I was convinced that when I go back to work it will be sans cane.  Now, since I've had to sleep on my back so much the past couple weeks, my lower back is giving me trouble again making walking that much harder.  It also has had an effect on my psyche.  It seems as soon as one source of pain shows signs of getting better another steps in to knock me back down.  The only reason I got out of bed this morning is because I really needed a shower.  I stunk myself out of bed or else I would probably still be there.

Well, life is like a roller coaster.  It has it's ups and downs and sometimes the track fails and you go flying out into space before crashing to the ground.  Yes, I'm a bit depressed but this too shall pass...

Monday, April 4, 2011

On All Fours

444th post on 4/4 at 4:44!

(Call me a fool, but I thought it was neat.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Comfy New Chair

Last weekend I finally bought (with my wife's permission) a new chair for in front of the computer and I love it!  The old chair was getting pretty creaky and would make my butt sore if I sat in it too long.  The new chair has a nice cushy leather seat, great lumbar support and a taller back to support my taller back.  The old chair will be relegated to downstairs for projects like putting together another shelf kit.  Since I can't really crawl around on my knees anymore the plan is to wheel around it in my chair to put it together.  I hope it works!

I just wanted to mention this before I forgot and it got lost in the shuffle of all my medical stuff.  Plus, I needed one more post posted.  Why?  Well, you'll see me waving my geek flag early tomorrow.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Post-Surgery Notes

Me during surgery
 I survived!  The surgery seems to have been a success.  We had to be at the hospital by 5am to check in for the 8am surgery on Wednesday morning.  All went as expected beforehand, and probably as should be expected afterward.  I see a trend after surgery as me being one grumpy old cuss!  I hear the surgery took almost 3 hours.  The doctor told my wife that the disc herniation was much worse than the previous MRIs had shown, which doesn't surprise me.  In fact, it would explain the sudden recurrence of symptoms last week.  They took 3 x-rays during the surgery and they showed me them yesterday.  Unfortunately you can't see much of anything because my shoulder is in the way so it may be until my next x-rays for this (I think in 12 weeks) before I can actually see the implant.

Mom, putting up with me.
 My first memories after surgery are at about 1:00 in the afternoon but all I did was listen to my ipod and snooze as best I could until about 4:00.  Then when I saw a nurse I asked her to show in my mother.  I knew she was there, but I still don't really understand why.  All I hear is that it's a 'mom' thing.  She drove 2 hours to wait 8 hours, see me at my worst briefly, then was on her way.  When I'm in pain I'm ugly and when my Mom is around I can turn back into that angry, rude teenager that I hate, not a good combination.  I'm not proud of my behavior at those times yet it still happens.

Kate, doing the same.
 My wife stayed with me until about 7pm, then she went home while I ate jello, watched crappy television and wished I could sleep until it was time to leave.  She managed to get a few hours of work in on Wednesday afternoon after the surgery, but on Thursday she had just gotten to work when I called her to pick me up.  That may have been a bit premature since the hospital has their own pace, but we did get out of there eventually then she had to go back to work after dropping me at home.  I was an impatient bear trying to get out of there.  Looking back, I last had pain pills at 4:45 that morning so that may explain some of my anxiousness, even rudeness, while awaiting discharge.  Sorry I can be an ass, everybody, but I do thank you for your well wishes!

I'm just glad it is done.  No more constant pain, it really does mess with your head.  I hope I'm done with all this medical stuff for a while now and can just live, be happy and not have to worry about meds and appointments and all that jazz.  That time may come around by July.  Cross your fingers for me!

Now, to end on an up-note, here's my view from the hospital room window.  (There's no snow but no green yet, either.)  On the left is Lake Wingra and to the right is Henry Vilas Zoo, one of Madison's treasures that we take for granted.  We'll have to try and take some nieces and nephews there for a day this summer!