Lots of new items on my Woodcraft pages. The past month or two have seen me in my shop an average of a few hours a day! Four hours a day for several days in a row, too! Honing skills and trying new designs. Still learning how to do the things that create attractive pieces. I hope I don't annoy too many people with holiday gifts from my shop.
Got blood tested for my one-year anniversary after bariatric surgery and turned up a mild anemia. My red blood count had dropped from the high-ok range, around 110-120 or so early last year to somewhere in the 70's around mid-year and was now down to just below the low-ok range! My bariatric nutritionist suggested bumping up my iron pill dosage, which I just started yesterday. Iron is absorbed in the stomach, and I've got a lot less 'stomach' now than I did a year ago. A few months from now, we'll retest my blood to see if the increased dosage is helping.
Finally got the holiday lights up on the front of the house today, too. Weather hit the 50's, so I wasn't freezing my butt off as I was last year. (Not that I have anywhere near as much butt to freeze off any more!)
Received many beautiful holiday cards and "year in review" stories from friends. I've never been much of a card-sender, so I'll probably send links to this page via email to friends and relatives so they can see what we've been up to in '14.
Happy Chanukah, Christmas and Whatever to all!
I went to a Woodturners Guild "offsite demo" Saturday the 8th to see how a monster wood milling machine can slice up a huge tree log in a manner of minutes. Got some (free) scrap offcuts to take home and by this afternoon I'd turned three pieces from the slabs I'd been given. I should have them on the Woodshop pages in a day or so. The 'scrap' wood turned into some amazing patterns and colors after turning on my lathe and getting an initial coat of Walnut oil. Gorgeous! Can't wait to spin the next nearly dozen pieces I got from slicing up the other 3-4' "offcut" slabs.
And along the way, discovered some neat and quick ways to make Holiday Tree tree-shaped ornaments for sale or gifting this holiday season.
Several are on display here and another three or more should be ready to put up on that page in a day or so, along with the 'scrapwood' bowls and platters.
Watching the blue shading on the national weather maps trekking across the US towards us, probably to arrive late this week. Still wondering if this "Polar Vortex" is something new or just a new name for "cold Canadian air" that the forecasters used to call it some decades back...
Flew to Silicon Valley for a 30th Anniversary meet-up with the Congregation Beth Am Havurah group we were members of when we lived in Cupertino.
Met friends on Friday night and Saturday afternoon and got caught up a little on what's been happening with them and us. I got lots of compliments and 'oh, wows' when they saw how much weight I'd lost since we'd last seen each other.
The reunion was a wonderful dinner in San Francisco near the Hyatt where most of us stayed Saturday night.
One 'funny thing' I noticed was the lack of flow-restrictor spouts in the bathroom faucet at the Hyatt. You'd think that with the gobs of rooms they had, a few dollars per room for little spray nozzles like the ones in my home in Raleigh might have a reasonable payback in a drought-stricken state? Whatever...
Sunday after a breakfast with several of the Havurah families, we drove to Mendocino to spend a day and a fraction with Claudia's ex and his wife at their lovely woodsy retreat inland from the Mendo village. Some great meals at local restaurants and a short tour of the community center in Fort Bragg (CA, a few miles north of Mendocino on Highway 1) and some excellent pizza in downtown Fort Bragg, too.
Lunch at Adele's Restaurant off 101, where we'd lunched many times on voyages to Mendo and back to Cupertino in past decades... still there and still delicious.
With some extra time available, we stopped at 'our old house' on Ferngrove in Cupertino and though nobody answered the doorbell's chime, I got a few photos of the inner and outer yards. The place looks great and if you're interested, it could be yours at some price north of $1,200,000 -- the last selling price a few years ago. Good luck on that!
Back home safe and sound and tired, we've learned how to get fully unpacked and in bed within an hour or so of pulling into our garage. A great time was had by all.
One funny one for this date... We've been going to Fitness 19 and working with a trainer there and seeing some great results in terms of increased strength and flexibility. This particular Saturday we heard a very loud "whomp!" which seemed to come from the front of the building, but nothing obvious was visible. Someone shortly told us that a deer had run into a window but lived and got away. It had sounded like a mortar landing nearby or a muffled auto collision!
When we left, there was no sign that anything, let alone a deer, had hit the front of the building we'd been in, although by that time, an EMS truck and three police cars were parked in front!
Curiosity got the better of me and I walked around the corner of the building where some smaller storefronts snuggled into a sort of cul-de-sac part of the strip mall.
A woman was standing outside a dry-cleaning store, talking urgently on her cell phone. That's when I noticed the front door of the store, the bottom of which was caved in and completely spiderwebbed from the impact of the deer! The glass, at least, and maybe the door itself would need replacement, and the inside of the store was a mess. Either the proprietor panicked or the deer got inside the front door and thrashed around before escaping. There were a few blood spots on the sidewalk just outside the door. The deer had managed to get away but nobody saw it after that, so we didn't know how badly it was injured, if seriously.
Just another day at the gym....
Claudia's turn to visit the ER. Got a ride in an ambulance (EMS truck) for the first time in many years, too.
One of our dogs refused to leave our deck to "do his business." Seemed to be plugged up, maybe from a herd of 'dog cookies' he got. Not sure.
Claudia tried to pull him down the stairs to the back yard, turned, lost her balance and did a face-plant on the slate slab below.
Bruised hands and wrists and ribs; nasty cut under her chin, and a broken tooth, to boot. She thought she could 'tough it out' at home, but further assessment of the injuries helped me convince her that a ride to the ER was the better choice.
And naturally, one of the EMS guys was cute, so she followed his directions and let them strap her to a board (in case there was neck or other spinal damage... there wasn't) and cart her off to our friends at the Rex ER.
CAT scans (meow!), X-rays and nearly a dozen stitches (under her chin) showed nothing broken, but painful bruising here and there, mostly there on her ribs.
Very painful for nearly a week, then the major pain subsided and became an occasional twinge over the next two weeks. Just a few bruise marks, mostly from the IV stabbings, and they're fading now, too.
Off to the dentist Monday morning (today, the 20th) to see what repairs are appropriate for her teeth. One is broken; two look chipped. We'll see what the Good Doctor says.
And after my week or two of playing "Doctor Dad" for her, actually making some meals and such (!), I've snuck back into my wood shop to finish a 'run' of new stoppers, a pretty spalted taper candle holder and several small bowls (not yet pictured on the web pages.)
Almost succeeded at my first attempt at off-axis turning, too. More on that later. I did make a few 'candles' out of wood, complete with 'wick and flame' on top. All turned on the lathe. Now, if we get a few days with lower humidity, I'll get to paint them, too.
Well, there have been some goings-on, and I'm sorry for not keeping this page updated... It's been an action-packed year so far.
Still losing weight, including one major detour... a bleeding ulcer in May. It was weird. I developed a case of conjunctivitis ('pink-eye') early in the month, and when it didn't clear up on its own, I went to my GP for some meds. Got some eye salve and some oral antibiotics to last about a week, each, and started using them. Coincidentally, it turns out, I had some slight pain just under my breast bone and my poop (stool is the technical term) turned black as tar. I initially thought that was the result of the oral medicine.
But about a week after the oral pills were done, the lower intestine was still unhappy, I found myself quite willing and eager for an afternoon nap, and often felt a bit light-headed if I stood up quickly.
Wasn't worried about that too much, until one day I got out of bed quickly from one of those naps, walked over to one of our dressers and fainted. First time in my life. Fainted.
Standing upright one instant and then lying on the floor wondering how I'd gotten there so quickly.
Ok, that did it... time to find out what the #$&^* is going on. Called the bariatric center around 5:30 pm, left a message that something was 'not right' and within an hour got a call back from one of the surgeons who said he would arrange for a 'direct admission' to Rex Hospital (which meant I wouldn't have to go in through the ER process.)
He connected with another doctor to do an endoscopy on me and I checked in to the hospital around 7:30 pm.
When they discovered my blood pressure was somewhere around 70 over 45. Not good. Not high enough to risk the anesthetic required for the endoscopy!
So, about a liter or two of Ringer's solution (pretty much saline) later, my BP was not going up much and the doc ordered up two units of packed red blood cells. I'd kind of figured out, by that time, that the saline was probably diluting my blood enough to keep the BP down! Two units later my BP began to climb and the next day I got the anesthetic and endoscope.
And they found a bleeding ulcer. Blood in your intestines turns your poop jet black. If it happens to you, get your butt (and the rest of you) to a hospital asap!
Now I had additional transfusions of other chemicals designed to decrease stomach acid, too.
Here's the technical explanation as I figured it out and as it was explained to me...
The bariatric surgery has a risk of bleeding. A friend of mine developed that and was 'a few quarts down' before he got to the ER. Very close call for him.
So, did I have a tear or puncture? No. The ulcer was most likely caused by stomach acid reaching the upper intestine where the surgery had reconnected the little stomach pouch after the major portion of my stomach was sectioned off and hooked up further downstream.
The upshot of that is that, with the plumbing rearranged, the 'old stomach' doesn't produce much acid, but the little pouch still sees food coming and going, and if it produces any excess stomach acid and there's no food there for it to work on, the acid exits pretty directly into the upper intestine. The upper intestine is not built to handle that acid and an ulcer is nearly guaranteed to happen.
In the same vein, (sorry... bad choice of words...) not sipping water regularly enough contributes to lack of dilution of that stomach acid, and if the pouch part is a little too good at producing that acid, it's a ticket to the hospital.
So, a month or so of 'proton-pump inhibitors' and everything inside should heal quite nicely.
And the story doesn't end there... there's another chapter.
I'd been 'feeling poorly' most of last year by being overweight, then I tore the meniscus in my right knee when we were in Israel (November), then had the bariatric surgery in December and the knee repair in January, so... exercise was far from my hot list of things to do.
Now, with the bleeding stopped, and back at home again, I discovered that I felt good for what seemed the first time in a year or more, with good energy levels again. I started doing more chores and projects around the house and even started to return to my wood shop and lathe!
So, the next step was inevitable... get to the gym. A local Fitness 19 is just a mile or two from our house and about five times less commute time than the Wellness Center where Claudia and I had (not) been going, though we'd been paying for membership for many months.
F19 was running a 'sale' on memberships and the proximity was appealing, so we cased the joint and signed up. The equipment was very similar to the Wellness Center's gear, though the Center has a swimming pool and indoor walking track which Claudia will miss, but she's got a young, good-looking trainer and signed up for training with him. Eye candy, and a nice incentive.
So, after a few decades of muscular decay, I'm building up some muscles once again and since muscles burn calories faster than fat does, my weight is dropping once again. Passed the 200-pound plateau and now ready to cross 195 soon.
Not to mention having gone from a 54+ waist to currently 40 and discovering that all of my XL t-shirts are now baggy on me, so LOTS of pants, shorts and shirts have been on their way to Goodwill and my "Big and Tall" catalog subscriptions will be able to lapse, too. I like the 'you look great' comments from so many folks, too. Stop asking for photos, ok? One of these days, maybe...
Target weight is somewhere in the 170-180 range, and I think I can hit that by the fall of this year. I'll also go back for another sleep apnea test, since with the lower weight, that might go away, too, and I can toss the BPAP unit and mask I wear every night for sleeping.
Some of my recent blood tests seem to show a very nice, low cholesterol count, so I may also get to ditch the statin drugs, too! Gonna check that out in the coming months, too, as part of a more regular checkup with my GP.
And that's the latest from Lake Wobegon! For now.
Two snow storms later... with lots of freezing cold... and temperatures around 70F forecast for next week... welcome to the roller-coaster.
Knee only annoys me after stretching and exercise at PT. Life is good. Shoveled snow and ice layers off sidewalks and driveway yesterday and THAT made some muscles ache, but knees were fine.
Replacement a/c unit is now keeping my workshop warm, so naturally outside temperatures will be climbing...
A year ago I weighed 307. Today I weighed about 223.7. Stopped in to see my audiologist the other day and he didn't recognize me.
Fixed the ice-maker...
Knee pain is decreasing; I find i can walk without the cane, but my 'physical therapy' will probably amount to increasing the range of flexion and extension of my lower leg. Still improving.
Afib remains an issue; non-treadmill 'stress EKG' scheduled for next Monday. Went to my GP today, too, to find out if the sore throat I've been experiencing is something to be dealt with. Not a problem. Should go away in a week or so.
Ok, ok, I spake too soon...
True, I had zero pain in my right knee yesterday after the operation, but there is more than a slim chance that the surgeon left my knee with a load of pain killers inside it, because, upon trying to roll out of bed today, Saturday morning, I had one HELL of a lot of pain!
Back on the hydrocodone!
It was really strange, because it seemed as if the knee pain also echoed in my abdomen! Gotta keep a watch on that one!
Anyway, doses every four hours or so kept the pain bearable and today the cane went with me all around the house.
Reloaded the "cold pump" for tonight, too. Looks like the fridge ice-dispenser isn't working right, too. Helluva time to stop dispensing ice, thank you VERY much...
My contractor did call with some good news, though... the heater/AC unit to replace the one that died in my shop should arrive in a few days and we can look at trying to schedule installation. Maybe by then I'll eve be able to help a little.
That wraps up Saturday. Back to the appendage ice box tonight!
Happier New Year!.
Well, my bariatric surgeon said I shouldn't have any more surgeries for a month after the Big One on December 18th, so I waited 30 days or so to schedule my knee surgery.
Arriving at Rex Hospital at about 0600 today, pretty much Oh-Dark-Hundred hours, I got in the queue for another surgery. This one to repair the torn meniscus in my right knee and scrape some arthritic roughness off the underside of the kneecap.
Wonderful doctor, anesthesiologist and nurses, and around 0930 I was in Recovery. I'd apparently had another A-fib during the surgery, so they kept me in the Recovery area until my blood pressure and heart rate stabilized, which took a fair amount of time.
Filled with some dire predictions and hopes and wishes from folks who'd been through knee surgery before, I expected to be outfitted with crutches or cane for several days.
Sorry! No post-op pain. I stood up off the recovery bed and walked to the rest room nearby, holding the IV stand in my left hand and with a firm grip on the back of my hospital gown by one of the nurses. No pain. No tenderness or ache in the right knee, and I shared the room with the nurse, who said she had to stay with me no matter what. And she did. Relieved of some excess liquid from my bladder, I walked back to the recovery bed and was soon getting dressed for the ride home.
Wheeled (wheelchaired) out to the entrance where Claudia brought her car around for my ride home, I felt fine.
Got out of the car at home and had no discomfort getting up the two steps from the garage to the house.
And I kept walking. I took some of the leftover pain medicine from the bariatric surgery as a precaution and again four hours later. No noticeable pain at all.
A fine bariatric dinner of meat loaf, edamame and peas and the usual vitamins and calcium, and we sat down to catch up on some DVR's TV programs.
Then I walked up the stairs to my room and checked email and updated my website, including this page! Just starting to feel a little stiff in the right knee, now, but I'm also due for another sip of pain killer.
Ok, then... no crutches and probably no cane any more. Wow! I could not have hoped for a better outcome! Now walking will return to my life (beware, dogs! I haven't tried to walk them in months.)
Oh, one more thing... I think I've got the bariatric foods calibrated pretty well now: I've graduated from a full-sized dinner plate to the smaller salad-plate size, and even that was too roomy to hold the amount of food my stomach can now comfortably accept.
So, a few days ago, I started taking my servings on the small saucer that's usually found under a coffee-cup, and it's in the Goldilocks Zone: Just Right. The bariatric folks predicted that, and it turns out they were spot on! It's just the right size. Never thought I'd say something like that, either!
It's been nearly a year since I made the bariatric decision when I had ballooned up to 307 pounds or so and my right knee began to ache. I'm about 60 pounds lighter now and with my knee fixed, can increase my exercise and burn off even more calories. This looks like it's going to be a good year.
Wishing the same to all of you, too!
Happy New Year!.
Well, to welcome in the New Year and the beginnings of the New Me, I did a closet-purge of old pants which are now too large for me. I also celebrated New Year's Day by discovering that I'm no longer even a size 50-32, I'm now down to 48-32!
The Purge was impressive, and some donation charity will get some good stuff soon!