Happy Holidays and some of my favorite Christmas songs and lights.
Of which there are many excellent versions!
Here's one of the first versions I ever saw.>
2013.12.21 (continued from just below here...)
Ok, so it hurts sometimes and the "don't drink and drive drugs" do get used once in a while, but just a few times...
I tried one of the protein bars last night and it filled me up so much that I wasn't interested in putting anything else in my mouth, including water! The night before, water went down quite easily and I didn't get a full feeling but that got traded for an extra pit stop in the middle of sleep-time.
Ok, gang... it's "selfie" time! In three flavors...
The first one is for the squeamish, so it's barely visible. It's my belly, showing the six, Yes, six, incisions! One was hiding just above my navel.
The second one, for the less visually sensitive, is a larger, more close-up and personal viewable version of my big, round, belly. Yes, most of my abdomen got shaved for the party.
And the last one is a selfie that Obama would be proud of... showing the "quarter Monty" and my current bowling-pin-shaped body and rather slimmer face, if you haven't seen it recently... probably also not for the squeamish...
For good measure, here's the statue of David I was modeled after... after the statue spent several decades in California on display. [except I've got nicer legs.]
At the rate the pain and discomfort are diminishing, I expect to go completely off the prescription pain meds soon and that should allow me to get behind the wheel of my beloved Prius again.
I've been walking around the house for my walking exercise... literally around (the inside) of the house. There's a small loop path from the kitchen to dining room to entrance foyer to hall and back to kitchen. I plan to do that twice a day for 15 minutes each if it's too wet or slippery outside. And welcome to the start of winter, too... perfect timing, eh?
Thanks to all of you who sent cards and emails with wishes, prayers and encouragement, again, too!
I've almost caught up on emails and TV programs that were DVR'd since our Israel trip and my recent jaunt away from home.
The pain from the meniscus damage to my right knee has decreased a lot as I've sort-of-regularly been applying ice packs to it, so we'll probably look at revisiting the surgery some time in January or February. After that, walking will be easier, too.
Did I mention that for the entire time I spent in the hospital room I never turned on the TV? Maybe it was the delicious pain killers, but I was quite happy to just lie there and think my thoughts and sleep. As I've often said before, if you (I) look at the content of what's on TV today, if it's on a news program it virtually never has any direct impact on my life. That's why Claudia and I love shows that have great casts and "problems to solve," ranging from NCIS (and-LA) to Criminal Minds, Sanctuary, Warehouse 13 and so many more. If the cast is a team, each with interesting personalities (or cute as a button, like Nell on NCIS-LA), we love to try to figure out "whodunit" and of course, there's also Amanda Tapping's legs, too.
Ah, the pain killer must be kicking in... time to check email and send silly replies.
I'm home. Got home about 1 pm Friday afternoon.
Wednesday afternoon was a long day, as we got up around 0400 to make it to the hospital by 0515.
I was wheeled into the OR some time around 0730. The anesthesiologist poked a needle into my right hand and said, "we'll start with a little something to relax you." The next thing I knew I was in Recovery. About three hours later.
When the surgeon came out to the waiting room a bit later, Claudia asked how did it go. He answered, "Textbook." The surgeon was actually called to do some other emergency surgery so one of the other bariatric surgeons closed. Five small incisions, each a bit less than an inch long, spaced around my newly-shaved abdomen. (I had a bunch of fur there...) Held closed by glue and tape. No staples or sutures!
A brief delay before finding me a room (housekeeping apparently wasn't ready for an early check-in,) and a bit later I was wheeled up to a room just down the hall from where our "football" friend was just a short time ago. I was transplanted onto what I later found out was a $9,000 bed (aside from all the normal tilt adjustments, it's also an air-cushion anti-bedsores bed and can actually weigh the person or object set on it. Wow.
Actually, from that I realized that the features and safety built into those beds were essentially there to solve problems for patients who needed the features... and then folks complained about the high cost of medical care... go figure.
Pain was around four or five on the zero-to-ten scale in use, but pain killers added to the IV drip took that down to the 2-3 range pretty quickly. Hugging my "belly-pillow" helped if I needed to cough.
After that, the usual parade of nurses and nurse-assistants began and we traded life histories and stories with most of them. One of them told of herself signing the adoption papers for four kids at once, aged something like 5, 3, 1 in years and one just a month or several old. Shortly thereafter, her husband went "mid-life crisis" and they divorced. Wow, again. I asked her where her "Wonder Woman" suit was. Amazing lady!
Out of bed for a walk around the joint before dinner. How far, I asked? You tell me, the nurse said. After I made it as far as the door I decided to try a bit further and we did a circuit or two of the three corridors of Floor 7 East, then back to bed. Dinner was beef broth (very salty), lemonade and strawberry Jello. Another meal was chicken soup broth (less salty) and similar drinks. One of the other meals was vegetable soup broth (needed some of the salt from the beef broth!) and a similar round of lemonade and Jello.
Now, somewhere along the way, they noted that I had a torn meniscus in my right knee, and that made me a "fall risk" so they hung a sign on the wall that said "Stay In Bed... call for assistance to use the bathroom." That didn't matter the first day, right after the operation, because I had a catheter and was barely aware of "output."
Then they took the catheter out. Rejoice, women! If you get catheterized, it's not a big deal for you when they remove it. But for guys, the first liquid that passes through that pipeline burns like hell! A very painful "negative feedback" right when you want all the encouragement in the world.
So, around 7:30 Wednesday night, I realized that some pressure had built up and it was time to call for help. Nobody came. Fife, ten, fifteen minutes of staring at the clock and the "Stay In Bed" sign.
So I hoisted myself out of bed and went to the bathroom. And was fully indoctrinated into how painful the first post-catheter experience is.
Yes, after about two or three more excursions to the loo, the pain was gone. And I discovered that one of the first subsystems to reboot fully after the surgery was that of my kidneys.
It seemed as if they were hot-wired to my new small stomach pouch, and very soon after drinking anything, they'd filtered it out of my bloodstream and wanted to get rid of their creative juices.
At THAT point I realized that calling for help every time was going to be a real pain in the.... nurse, so I basically "went" on my own. When I mentioned that to one of the nurses, she was upset that I was not "following orders!" I explained to her that, while I was looking forward to knee surgery, I was not in immediate danger of falling and that I'd realized that the sign was there for their legal protection. But I promised to "call for a nurse" if I needed to go to the loo. Later, one of the nurses (let's call her Mary) asked if I'd been going to the bathroom and I said, "of course!"
She'd noticed that she had not gotten any calls for assistance. I said, sure it did... Whenever I need to go to the bathroom, I had stood up, softly spoke her name twice, and when she didn't come, I went on my own.
They won't forget me for a long time.
Oh, about that "expensive bed"... that point came home when one of the nurses asked what prescription drugs I needed. I replied, Simvastatin and Prozac, and they're in the bag on the chair.
Well, that produced a juicy realization, too. She said she'd use my medicine vials to verify the dosage, but would have to get the pills from the hospital pharmacy. "Oh," I said, "so these will become fifty-dollar pills, now, instead of the ones I brought from home?"
Well, here's the insight for any of you who have (or know anyone who's complained about the high-priced hospital "aspirin" for example: If you need a prescription drug and "bring yer own from home," the hospital has no way of knowing or proving that what's in your vial is what the label says, so if they were to trust everyone, some moron would smuggle drugs or whatever into the hospital and then sue the hospital for mega-damages if anything happened to them as a result! So, thanks to fools and our litigious society, hospitals must, for their own protection, control every aspect of what they give you! From purchasing to inventory to delivery. THAT is why the aspirin or drug or whatever is so "expensive" at the hospital. Think about it, then invite your local newspaper media folks to think about it, too. It's exactly like the stupid furor some decades back about the $75 hammers for NASA. If you had to meet all of the silly specifications and testing listed for those hammers, you, too, would incur so many expenses of your own that you, too, could not sell a hammer (or toilet seat or whatever) to them for any lower price and stay in business.
(more to come, soon.)
Well, kids, it's getting close to "time."
0515 Wednesday morning, i "report for duty" at Rex Hospital. Typical incarceration is two nights, so discharge may be Friday afternoon, assuming all goes well, and from the notes and messages I've been receiving, the prayers and good wishes should be well on the way to making that happen.
See y'all soon!
It was bigger than a football. And she's recovering very well... a good friend of hers flew in from California to be with her and help her through the weeks ahead, and from what we've heard, she's recovering amazingly well. Hopefully, a good role model for me...
Claudia's back is healing, too... went to the ortho folks today, had some x-rays and they said the healing is going according to schedule. Pain and discomfort are diminishing and mobility is better (and she's very careful when walking so she doesn't fall.
Meanwhile, back at my ortho... I'd run over to my GP to get prior lab tests sent back to the orthopedic group and then I went open-loop for the weekend, expecting a call from the ortho folks for scheduling the knee surgery. Nada.
Called the ortho scheduling line and left a voicemail asking whether they'd received the info and whether anyone would be calling about scheduling the surgery.
Got a voicemail back on Monday or so... "Please call us and explain what you want. We did not understand the message."
As if, after a few score years of taking and leaving phone messages, I wouldn't be clear enough, right?
An email exchange provided someone else with the same description of what I wanted, and I noted that the caller had not left her name, just the Ortho Center's phone number. The timestamp on the voicemail she left might help them figure out who called me.
In the meantime, I had a meeting today with my bariatric surgeon for my final physical checkup with him ... Breathing: check. BP: check. Heart sounds: check. "Got any more questions?"
Expected pain level? YMMV... your mileage may vary, but generally an ache in the abdomen but no major stabbing pains (like someone we know who recently had abdominal surgery...)
Will I be able to play the piano and guitar? No, since I can't do that now, but I should expect to be driving within about five days or so after surgery. It really depends on how soon I take myself off any pain meds that would make driving (and me) stupid.
We also concluded that I should postpone the knee surgery until after the bariatric surgery, since each will cause pain and discomfort and there's a post-op period where dosing even more drugs into a body for another operation is not a smart idea, either. So, maybe late December or some time in January (depending.) My meniscus' knee pain has been subsiding a bit (thanks, Tylenol ® , so that's looking like a good choice, too.
And off tomorrow afternoon to the bariatric nutritional specialist to load up on all the liquid diet "foods" I'll be "eating" for the next month or so... "Bring lots of money," is the suggestion from them.
Here's a link to an animation of "what happens during the surgery." Click Here. (It's an animation.. no blood or guts... relax. Those videos can be accessed in other locations...
Well, it's been a busy time here in our own little Lake Wobegon... I had my x-rays and MRI and after the surgeon and the PA and who knows who else analyzed them, they discovered that I had, indeed, a tear (or three) in the meniscus of my right knee. Moderately large ones in front and side and a smaller one in the back.
Surgery is in order. Laparoscopic, as the PA described it, with tools going in on one side of the knee and the TV camera coming in from the other side. An hour or two of surgery, outpatient style, with me walking out under my own power a bit later!
Oh, and the anesthetic is a general one, so I'll still need a chauffeur (or chauffeuse) at least for the ride home. Recovery time is short, with complete healing expected over several weeks. Hopefully in time for my bariatric surgery on December 18th.
Claudia's back is starting to heal, though she's still on over the counter inflammation reduction stuff for now. She's going to get some more tests to see if there's any organic reason why she would lose her balance and fall like she did.
And in the meantime, a close friend of ours decided the abdominal pains were too annoying, so she finally dragged her butt to a doctor for an MRI and the answer came back... tumor.
And cancer, although caught at Stage 1! Big one, though, described as "the size of a football" and that seemed to explain some of her discomfort (ironic humor...).
So, last Monday we took her to Rex at some ungodly morning hour (same time I'll be arriving to check in for my bariatric...) and she was whisked off to surgery.
Surgery went well, and some ancillary internal plumbing was removed for safe keeping. She's VERY sensitive to medication, so recovery-room time was longer than expected... several extra hours.
But just a day after surgery she was out of bed, to my amazement, and doing four "laps" around the halls around her room.
Turned out that, as I walked past the nurses' station to her room, one of the folks in the nurses' area looked up and smiled at me and asked, "what are you doing here?!" To which I responded, "What are YOU doing here?!"
Well, our friend was on the same floor and wing that the clients of Rex Bariatric go to for recovery. More than that, my surgeon was visiting a newly post-op patient of his practically across the hall from our friend! I said hi and got to ask him some pertinent questions regarding my knee surgery and whether it would impact the bariatric surgery. (No, it won't.)
Then I chatted with the recovering patient for a while about HIS surgery... and finally spent a few hours with our friend in her room. Synchronicity? Coincidence? Whatever...
Well, today, Thanksgiving Day, she'd already been walking around for several hours and is feeling "better than she has in a year," thanks to the elimination of the large weight she'd been carrying around. We'll be picking her up and driving her home probably some time tomorrow, Friday, as she continues her recuperation.
One hell of a finish to 2013, eh? And I've still got both operations to go!
Well, some of you (ok, both of you) may have noticed that I didn't update the home page cartoon/message for a while or add any news to this page. One of you may have wondered why...
Prior to the beginning of November, Claudia and I have been using most of our emotional energy to prepare for two big events: 1), the marriage of my nephew's son and 2), a trip to Israel to share in the bar mitzvah of Claudia's son, Coby.
Timing was "interesting," as the newlyweds-to-be had chosen November 2 as their wedding date and we'd planned to spend about a week in Israel and our departure date was November 3.
Ya think that adds up to stress? Well, it did.
The wedding was wonderful. We got to see a lot of "Falks" we hadn't seen in months or years or longer and the venue was beautiful and the weather turned perfect.
The bride and groom chose the Rose Hill Plantation and the site was gorgeous. A canopied deck on a pond just down-slope from an area perfect for visitors to sit and watch was beautiful, and two lovely swans paddled around the pond to add to the atmosphere.
A charming ceremony was followed by cocktails and a dinner/reception in one of the large halls of the estate, with music that came from some of the most popular eras of many of the attendees.
Just an hour or so's drive from our house, we left the next morning early enough to stop at home, repack some of our duds and head to the Raleigh Airport to start the next adventure. Neither Claudia nor I had been to Israel before, so the whole trip was exciting and scary at the same time.
A bit over an hour's flight to JFK with awkward transfer from domestic to international Delta terminals... One "shuttle bus" drove us from Domestic to International, where they were "experimenting" with a new process to get us to the International terminal. That involved off-loading us and all of our luggage to another bus, which then drove us about a city block to the other terminal, or at least to a ground-level "gate" where we had to hike about a block or so to get up and into the actual terminal!
That was then the start of another hike through security (again) and to the "other end of Creation" where the actual departure gate was. Our aching knees did not like that part of the trip, and we were happy and grateful to find seats in the boarding area.
And then "only" 9 hours eastbound from JFK to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport. Delta was very good about keeping us fed and watered, unlike reports from other parts of our group who flew in from SFO or LAX or from England on other carriers. Some had no food or even water for multi-hour stretches. Delta treated us well, and we were glad we'd paid for "comfort seats" that reclined nicely and had a bit more knee room for long-legged folks like me. We had starboard aisle and center seats for the outbound trip, and the young woman in the window seat had just come in from California and spent most of the flight sleeping. Claudia dozed a bit, but I couldn't fall asleep, except for maybe a few nodding-off moments.
The 9-10" flat screens in the seat backs in front of us had a myriad of selections, from TV programs to games to movies, and Claudia and I each watched two movies on each transatlantic leg. I also enjoyed the real-time flight tracking display which mapped the plane's location and was continually updated with mileage and head/tailwind information.
Still, 9 hours is a long time!
The landing in Tel Aviv was smooth, but somewhere over the Atlantic, a flight attendant got on the horn and asked if there were any medically-trained doctors on board. After we landed, they asked everyone to remain seated until the stricken passenger was helped off the plane.
Now for another trip to baggage claim, customs and such, in a country where signage in English was available but still a bit sparse. Information and Help kiosks were available to help direct us to wherever we were to go next. Finally we funnelled out into the arrivals area where we were told some of the party would be there to gather us up and shuttle us to the Tel Aviv hotel. Unfortunately, we couldn't find them and they didn't see us, so after an hour or more, we took a cab into the city, about 20 minutes' ride. Turned out that the folks looking for us just didn't see us and waited another hour or two, finally collecting one of the other parts of our group for the ride to the Tel Aviv Hotel.
We hit the bed in mid-afternoon and after snacking on some of the munchies I'd carried on the plane, plus apples provided by the hotel, we pretty much slept through until morning.
The next day we drove to "Acre" or "Acco" a bit over an hour north of Tel Aviv and visited the grave-site of one of the family members we'd met when we first moved to North Carolina, eight years ago.
A tour around Acco started to give us a taste of the millennia of history surrounding us pretty much everywhere we'd go.Wednesday we toured part of Jerusalem with a guide one of our party had hired for several days, stopping at the Mount of Olives overlooking the Old City and hillsides covered with burial tombs surrounded by homes. We then crossed the valley and went to the Western Wall and I got a lot of nice photos of the Wailing Wall, the women's section and the domes of mosques and synagogues that surround it.
Thursday was the Bar Mitzvah and that was a wonderful ceremony. A bus was hired to take some 30-40+ family members from the Tel Aviv train station to Jerusalem, so the ride was smooth and comfortable. Once in Jerusalem, we got stuck in an "all-traffic-gridlock" for something like half an hour until the flashing police lights indicated that John Kerry's motorcade had left the area (passing by our bus!) and we inched ahead to the Wailing Wall for the Bar Mitzvah.
Getting off the bus near near the south end of the Wailing Wall, we were enfolded by musicians and performers who played klezmer music and marched us all the way to where the Bar Mitzvah would take place. The ceremony was quite nice.
Friday took us back to Jerusalem to see the archeological excavations of the City of David and literally hike down hundreds of steps and through narrow tunnels dating back thousands of years, followed by a march through the Jewish and Arab bazaar sections. By the end of that, we were completely exhausted and wanted nothing more than dinner and bed.
Oh, and along the way, pretty much in every public plaza we were in, there were cats... feral cats dumpster-diving for food or picking up morsels or crumbs left by passers-by. It turns out that when the British occupied the territory, they found lots of rats and other vermin, so they imported cats to clean out the cities. So today, cats are everywhere in the cities of Israel. Eking out a living and certainly not plump by any means, but more interested in food than in annoying tourists.
Our last full day would be Saturday, and our tour guide drove us to the Dead Sea and Masada. Those stories are available everywhere, but being on top of the dusty outcropping and imagining what it was like for the people who lived and died there was very moving for all of us.
Then, probably weakened by overexertion the day before, I felt a sudden sharp pain in my right knee as i "merely" stepped up a stair at Masada. I'm guessing it's a damaged ligament or tendon, and I'm certainly glad it didn't happen earlier in the trip, but from mid-afternoon on, stairs and walking became extremely painful for me. And I had all of the "back through the airports" to look forward to, yet!
So, I limped along and we got back to Tel Aviv in time for a relaxed dinner before taking a cab back to the Ben Gurion Airport and starting the journey home. With headwinds this time, the flight to JFK was about 11 hours. We hobbled through JFK and Raleigh and got home around early afternoon, unpacked and fell into bed again. I think I slept most of the time from 3 pm to about 7 am, and it also felt like I almost instantaneously was back on Eastern Time! Never noticed any of the traditional jet lag effects.
And in a day or two was queued up for x-rays and an MRI for my knee. I slept a LOT last week because being horizontal kept strain off my right knee, and by Monday the tendon or whatever only caused strain-pain if I walked for an hour or so. Until then, it was the same arthritic pain I'd been feeling for most of the year. Now, I'll find out what the orthopedic folks suggest for treatment.
And not to be outdone, Claudia took a fall in one of her doctor's offices, and after cruising around several locations, including the ER, we found that she'd cracked one of her vertebrae when she fell on her back. So now, we're both limping around on crutches and taking a variety of pain killers, but it's all been manageable, pretty much.
Did I forget to say that when we got home, we both had coughing and sneezing colds, too, that occupied our sinuses and lungs for all of last week? Claudia's is pretty much gone, now, but mine isn't quite done annoying me, so I'm still on extra vitamin C and NyQuil and DayQuil and Tylenol for my knees.
Oh, and between the wedding and the trip, I shot about 1,000 or so photos and video clips... Now to weed them out, sort them and put them into something that won't bore people to tears if we share with them.
The LED lamps on the stairs down from our deck stopped working a few weeks ago and I've been reluctant to try to fix them in the cold or rain we've had, but yesterday, with a burst of energy from some unknown source, maybe chocolate, I got them fixed, along with some other things...
I assumed that the small DC power supply had gotten fried by a power surge or something, so I collected all the gear I thought I'd need to replace it, only to discover that I had several 12V/0.4A supplies what might not handle the load, and a 12V/2.0A unit that might not fit in the electrical box on the deck! "Just wonderful!"
But I wanted to try to outfit that circuit with a photocell controller so the lights wouldn't be on ALL the time... day and night. After all, it was burning something like two or three watts, total (!) Such potential power savings... maybe a few kwh per year!
So, with much hiking up to the deck and down to my shop and back, it dawned on me that there was a ground fault interrupter hooked to that circuit, and just maybe that was why the little red LED on the power supply was not lit.
Yep... reset the GFCI and the light went on. Dang! Oh, well, now I could add the photocell to the circuit anyway.
Which I did and it worked just fine, and I now have another route to take when troubleshooting the thing if the lights go out. Life is so educational!
And lots more stuff coming up in the next weeks... more on that later.
Got the retaining wall rebuilt. Contacted a landscaper we met at the last Home Show at the Raleigh Convention Center last month and got his estimate. Then we got two other estimates. One was close to the first one but the guy seemed to be in a hurry and didn't feel like discussing details. The second quote seemed impossibly low, and I've tried to maintain a policy of not going for the "low bidder." The Low Bidder is probably going to do a poor job, but the Next-To-Lowest Bidder is probably the one to hire. Some of the high bidders are just charging too much.
I wish our government agencies would adopt that policy. The low bidders would disappear and the Next-to-lowest would discover that more accurate and reasonable bids would strike a balance between lousy workmanship and excessive costs. .... Whatever.
The guy came, did the work quickly and professionally and allowed time for chatting and discussing "business philosophies." And I had to encourage HIM, too, to "write a book" about his experiences and his business "attitude." Would that businesses and government agencies would practice his philosophies and business management skills.
Two new items...
First, I'm still hanging in there at under 270# (pounds, not hashtag, for you whippersnappers...) and it's been six months since I started the diet and eating habits preparations for bariatric surgery, as well as attending semi-monthly meetings with other "pre-op" candidates and monthly checkups with the staff.
The monthly checkups and other tests have been required in order to qualify for Medicare coverage for the procedure, and I've been keeping to all the rules and regulations this time. The overall environment is SO much more supportive than in my experience with Duke Bariatric several years ago. It's also a treat to see Tricia, Mary and Krista (scroll down on that linked page ...) often, too... you can trust me on that one!
Ok, so here's the news... a few days ago, I got a call from the Rex Bariatric Surgery part of the organization, inviting me to pick a date. For the procedure.
I chose December 18th, a Wednesday sort of in the "geometric middle of the month."
So mark your calendars as I've marked ours.
Meet my surgeon...
And here's one result from Google search that will probably provide more than you'll ever want to know about laparoscopic surgery for stomach bypass... and don't ever say I didn't warn you.
There will be some new dietetic regimens to follow before (and definitely after the operation) and I'm sure I'll be writing more about that, but for now, the clock is ticking and basically, it's three months to Zero-Hour!
And second, I really haven't been "down in the back yard" for several weeks, and especially since we got back from the mountains. During our trip, several heavy rain storms came through the area.
Normally, that's not a big deal, but this time, the rainfall was heavier than usual, and on top of the heavier rain we'd had during the whole first part of the year... so...
When I visited the back yard, I discovered that the retaining wall for the "middle tier" of our landscaping had moved about a foot away from the soil it had been "retaining."
NOT a good sign. We contacted several contractors and today I called one to schedule the repairs. We'll have better drainage installed (a French drain and piping to carry water away from the walls) for both the top and middle tiers' walls. That should prevent this kind of damage for another dozen or two years. After all, the current walls have been up for a dozen or more years very well, thank you!
Weight 267.5 (h)
And Happy New Year! Great dinner with Claudia's son's family and new friends. Delicious!
Spent the last six or so days in Northwest NC at a beautiful cabin "in the woods"... literally a dozen or two miles of gravel/washboard road away from pavement. Very comfortable, beautiful view to the south and all the amenities. Wi-fi worked and even got a cell signal occasionally. Well water. Haven't drunk well water in a LONG time! Delicious. Just a little rain, and about ten degrees cooler than Raleigh most of the time. Got home Saturday afternoon to a gentle cold front and clear skies. Found where the short was in the trailer wiring that kept blowing fuses and fixed it! (them, actually.) All the lights on the trailer worked fine for the entire round trip. 33 mpg up to the cabin and around 40 home (lots of downhill....) We had a very relaxing time, but it felt great to be back home, too. Great ice cream in Blowing Rock and great restaurants there and in Boone. A good time was had by all.
Grandson Coby is staying over with us for a few days. He helped make dinner tonight, cooking up a bunch of scallops for all three of us. They were DELICIOUS! Claudia baked some cauliflower from Coby's mom's recipe. Add my salad and we had a great repast. This kid can cook!
Also, taking advantage of the Global Warming's ultra-cool weather here (in the 70s!), I crawled under and around our trailer and found the worn insulation that had caused short circuits in the trailer's wiring. No more blown fuses in the wiring adapter from the Prius to the trailer! It took about 12,000 miles of trailering for those wires to wear through, so I don't think I'll have to solve this problem again soon. Interestingly enough (for me,) I'd been pondering the cause of the blown fuses for several days this week and thought I'd figured out where the problem should be. I guessed a wire path at the back of the trailer. Checking that out, I discovered it couldn't have happened there, so I checked the front end around the hitch and safety chains, and there were two spots with worn insulation, right down to the wires within. Now we won't have to pack either Prius to the hilt with dogs and supplies for our next out-of-town adventure!
Weight 268 (h)
Global update for folks who haven't heard or can't remember...
Claudia is well! She ended chemo nearly a year ago, after which she began several months of radiation treatments, after which she was deemed "free of cancer." A follow-up mammogram and other routine periodic checkups have been clean and clear. She feels fine. She's back volunteering at Rex Hospital weekly or so, since she's passed their milestone of "six months out of treatment for cancer."She eats well, feels well and is looking forward to several travels during the rest of the year, including western North Carolina, Colorado, maybe New Jersey and Israel. Her spirits are wonderful, her energy level is great and we've both started going back to the Rex Wellness Center for aerobics, water-aerobics and muscle building/toning.
So please stop thinking of her as "recovering"... she's "recovered." And doing quite well! Thanks.
Yes, I'm going to the Wellness Center, too, part of the program prior to bariatric surgery. And no, I'm not scheduled for bariatric surgery (bypass or "Roux-en-Y, not sleeve or band) in September.
Because our Israel trip is scheduled late in the year, I asked my bariatric surgeon if it would be "wise" to go that "far from home" within a few months of surgery, and his answer was (I'll paraphrase...) Hell, No!
So we're currently ballparking a surgery date some time in December or January.
Again, I "peaked out" at about 307 about three months ago, got tired of the aches and pains and fatigue and got started on a new diet (i.e., way of eating) and I'm now working on pushing through the 270-pound level. Still have to work on portion control, but I've virtually eliminated all the "bad foods" and have well-learned the "new way of eating."
I've passed on some of the non-secrets of losing weight to several friends who have, to date, not followed the advice. But it's their bodies. C'est la vie. (or C'est la mort. Their choice.)
Write or call and I'll be happy to share two of the "secrets."
We've fostered several dogs in the past months, too, and oh, Claudia's back being active with the Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue group... a wonderful group of loving, caring folks.
It's been raining on and off for months, now, and I haven't reconnected the lawn sprinklers yet. Probably saved a few hundred dollars in water bills so far... I might hook it up again next week...
Weight 275.5; BMI 39.44
Weight 276, BMI 39.51.
Down about thirty-five pounds from my max, so far. Still working on portion control. (Where have you heard that before?? (see below...))
Took a week off from blogging and wood for a trip to Colorado to see Claudia's daughter and her family there. Great food, great family, great weather. Hot and dry, after the first night, which was chilly until we turned up the thermostat for the guest bedroom. Soon we got used to it and cranked it back down again... Daughter's grandma-in-law told lots of stories from her life and they were amazing. Really tough life in lots of ways, but a survivor.
Rented a Jetta from Hertz. Great car with few flaws. Handled great and built on a tight suspension that telegraphs most pebbles on the road right to your butt-sensors. Cruises just fine at 75 mph, which is the local limit on I-79 west of Vail or so. Yum!
Renting it was funny... took the shuttle from the terminal to the rental lot; Bourgeoisie got off at the first stop and went to their choose-a-car section. Proletariat (us) dropped at the rental box where we're immediately in a line of about thirty people.
Sort of like in a bank with a line and three tellers who, of course, take monstrous amounts of time to do the paperwork for each client who makes it to their station.
But Wait! They have kiosks (sort of like auto-tellers with video) where you can talk to an actual person via their version of Skype. You pick up a phone handset for audio and the agent (somewhere) sees you through a video camera in the kiosk.
There were about a dozen kiosks lined up... and about one or two or three working at any given time. Why? Because the "centrally-located" folks were handling essentially the entire US. Sort of like, "Your call is important to us... please hold for the next available..."
And the local "helpers" had to re-initiate the kiosks every once in a while to stay in the queue for the agents. When one became available, the customer at the front of the line is asked whether they'd like to use the kiosk or die on the vine waiting for someone in a meat-suit to call them forward. I elected the Skype version and it went very well. Just completely under-staffed. Hertz needs to take some lessons from Lowes, Home Depot and Walmart when it comes to staffing.
And a completely different experience when we dropped the car off six days later... The codger (actually, about my age, but more weathered) told me to leave our luggage in the car and get back in the car. [WTF?! Were we going to be kidnapped and held for ransom?] No... when the situation allows, one of the guys handling the returning cars has the option of driving the customer directly to the Departures curb without them having to wait for the next shuttle! THAT was nice. He was very chatty and we learned that he'd been in 'Nam, lived in the area forever and what the REAL significance of the white-tent-shape of the Denver Terminal represents AND what the big metal sculpture of "the horse" represents.
Got a few neat photos on the way home... a shot of the smoke rising from the Colorado fire burning south of Denver and a few shots of a classic "anvil-top" thundercloud.
Weight 284; BMI 40.73
Down about twenty-five pounds from my max, so far. Still working on portion control. Hey, just heard that Governor Christie of NJ got a lap-band inserted and has lost 40 pounds already! Starting to look more "presidential" every day!
NOW she's done with all the treatments! She's fine. Back to just about "normal" and just about one year older since this "trip" started.
When she first started treatment after the lumpectomy, the hospital gave her a special pillow to lean on to make it more comfortable to lie on her side. Here's photo of it:
When she brought it home, I asked why they gave her that one, since she'd been operated on for breast cancer.
She replied, "Think about that one for a few seconds...."
Weight 290; BMI 41.52
First, for everyone's information, Claudia is nearly done with ALL of her treatments for breast cancer. It's been nearly a year now. Her chemotherapy sessions were complete last fall and a month or so later, her hair started growing back. A week or so ago, with a little prodding, she took her head to her stylist and he did some light trimming and shaping! Much nicer now. Color is still "salt and pepper" but texture is a bit more curly/wavy this time. We were warned about that, so anything is ok so long as it grows back. Everyone who goes through this has a unique experience and result.
She finished radiation treatments a few months ago, too. Her side effects for both the chemo and the radiation cycles were quite mild, compared to some stories you or we have heard, and as of now, side effects are virtually gone.
So, the answer to all of your "How is Claudia doing?" questions is: Consider her to be Back To Normal!
In fact, she's looking into going back to volunteering at Rex in some capacity, as she'd done before the diagnosis. She's also gotten back into the swing of things with the Golden Retriever Rescue group, too.
I occasionally pop in there as a consultant on their "database" needs, but for the most part, they're more interested in explaining why a nice web-based user interface would be too hard for most of the folks to learn.... pretty much ignoring the fact that anyone who uses the web at all nowadays is faced with the same kinds of login and data entry screens I'd envisioned for the club. But this year, I'm much more detached and unwilling to push on a rope to get them to "see the light." Right now I can envision it, but I don't have enough knowledge or skills to implement it. I wish I did.
Wait, there's more!.....
I've signed up for another bariatric surgery process... this time at Rex, not Duke. Seems to be a great, supportive group of people... both the doctors and staff and support groups of pre- and post-op patients.
And a lot closer to home than Duke, too.
The timing worked out well, because my colonoscopy doctor had just informed me that I'm due for my "regular checkup," so that will take care of another check list item for the BS.
And, thanks to my minimal "won't-power" (opposite of willpower), I've still been gaining weight. At this point, other body parts are complaining, like my knees. They're just getting tired (or worn out) from supporting all this bulk: now up to about 309 pounds! With a BMI of 44.24, I'm a shoo-in candidate, much as I was a few years ago when I took a run at Duke.
At least this time I'm more aware of the forms and tests that need to be completed as parts of the overall process. The schedule and information provided by Rex is a lot more comprehensive than Duke's was about five years or so ago, and they even have a FaceBook group for patients to share stories and ask questions.
Claudia and I went to one of the monthly Support Group meetings on Thursday evening and the room was packed. Lots of pre- and post- folks, some with their spouses and kids, too!
Barring unforseens, my operation will probably land around September or so. Just in time to find out if I can drive to NJ for my 50th High School reunion (!), and a bit over a month before trying to see if I can bring powdered protein drinks aboard a flight to Israel a bit later... I wonder what the TSA will have to say about that, and if the flight attendants will mind refilling my water cup every few hours.
For now, I'm just starting down the path. I'm eating more "consciously" and will be focusing much more on portion size and protein content than ever before. I'm confident that this time I can get to the "Finish Line," which is actually the "Start Line for the rest of my life."
During my first serious exam by the surgeon, he asked me what my target weight would be. I said that about 180-200 would be fine... down at least 100# from where I am now. He replied that something more like 170 or 165 may be possible, although hitting that target usually takes about two years post-op.
"We shall see..."
So, for now, some appointments are already made and scheduled over the next month or more. The support group meetings are the same time and day of the month, and I discovered that the Calendar function in my Verizon Android phone won't let me set an alarm a half hour ahead of time for "repeating events." D'oh! Morons!
Maybe I can find a workaround in Outlook.
Through this, Claudia will be one of the major sources of support for me, as well as cheerleader, too, and she's ready to rock and roll... and nag...
Well, just got 2013 kicked off with a bang. Even after visiting our neighbors who'd gone fireworks shopping in South Carolina where the regulations are LOTS less strict than in NC... and watching their kids fire off some great rockets, firecrackers, smokers, bottle rockets and more! (They also developed a "horizontal launch" technique for some rockets... rather than shooting them up into the air, they laid them down on the street and with a stream of orange exhaust coming out the back, the rocket would shoot up the street at a VERY low altitude... like, inches off the ground.) ... Unless it hit something in the road and ricocheted off the ground, bounced off a car onto another neighbor's lawn and THEN started a tiny fire in the grass...
So, after they fired off their "grand finale" launch I bade them all Happy New Year, came home, kissed my lovely wife Happy New Year AGAIN and headed up to my room to update the copyright date on my home page and read some email.
Not long thereafter, the intercom telephone rang and my beautiful wife invited me downstairs... because there was some kind of tiny animal in our bathroom. Maybe another "gift" for New Year's from The Cat. One of the dogs was hiding in the closet and the other wanted very much to explore the bathroom. I should have let him go first.
Yep, a small squirrel, maybe eight or nine inches from nose to tail, had gotten into the bathroom and was trying to avoid being seen or caught. I tried collecting him in a wastebasket, but he (she?... no time to check...) could jump out and climb up the cabinet drawers or onto the towels to escape. It was a great jumper, too.
I finally trapped it in a wastebasket and dropped a smaller wastebasket in on top. That finally trapped the little dark gray furry. I released the critter onto our deck table and it wasted no time heading for the hills... or trees, or whatever.
After fanging me nicely in the palm when I picked him up by the tail. Some soap, alcohol, Betadine and scrubbing, along with some mild bleeding hopefully took care of anything he donated under my skin.
Well, looks like 2013 is already turning out to be "not a dull year."
Happy New Year with best wishes for health and happiness and avoiding small rodents in your bathrooms, too, to everyone!