Snow Day and Ketchup!

ketchupWell, it’s high time I brought everyone up on my progress – been putting it off for too long. Since it’s snowing, it’s catch-up day! Now I have’ta remember all the stuff that happened – hey that’s good brain exercise! So let’s get to it:


Das Gamma Knife!

Got the MRI last month, and it was totally clear – woo hoo! Next check is in June, we’re betting it’ll remain clear, but BFD Edy wants to keep checking in case Marvin’s descendants make an appearance. We’d then catch it early enough to use his awesome ‘Gamma Knife‘ instead of having to crack my skull open (again). Think of it as putting a spaghetti colander on your head, with spaghetti sticking out the holes – those are multiple space-age raybeams that are aimed at the baby Marvin and zap him (where the beams intersect inside my head). Scary cool!

lightbox_KeppraLogoBoth BFD Edy and my neurologist agreed that I can wean off the anti-seizure meds, so that’s what we did over the last half of January and the first week of February – but boy what an adventure! First off, the dosage got cut down gradually, and then I went to a pill every other day. That week was very interesting – on the off days (the day after I didn’t take a pill), my head was so much clearer thinking, and I felt way more in control of my body, balance-wise and coordination. Except for…

deleriumtremonsThat week also started me having the D.T.’s which got steadily worse and lasted through the first full week without meds. Imagine you’re out in the snow with just a t-shirt and cutoffs. You shiver like crazy ’cause your body’s trying to keep warm. This was me for a good 2 weeks, and I didn’t want to be seen in public. But no, hadda go out for a birthday lunch, a’shaking and a’shivering! Just like a recovering alcoholic on step 1. Sometimes if I really concentrated I could stop it for a few seconds, but boy was it enjoyable – not!

foambalanceDuring this time I also started up with my new physical therapist, the fantastik Kristen! And it was right there at the Medstar where BFD Edy makes an appearance every two weeks. I even saw him at one session – that was really nice! I’m afraid I wasn’t too good a performer for Kristen though, for most of my sessions I was dead-tired (can anyone sleep with the shakes?) and that always makes me woozy and prone to (almost) falling down. Only starting last week was I able to sit up and beg … among many other exercises she put me through including sitting and standing, walking forwards and sort of backwards while looking side to side, bouncing and (mostly) catching a ball off a trampoline. Oh and that horrible soft foam and even tougher balancing on the bottom half of a beach ball!

driving-miss-daisy-2Here’s a shout out to my wonderful friends who came and drove me to my PT sessions, thanks so much! First to Dianne for both setting up the schedule and driving me. And also to my volunteer drivers, Sue, Gail, Marti, Cheryl, Lisa and Margaret. I am so blessed with loving friends! And also to my latest volunteer babysitters, Joan, Pam, Malou & Charlotte, who helped Nicole to make sure I wasn’t alone while I weaned off the meds. The biggest worry about stopping anti-seizure meds is that you’ll have one (uh, a seizure). I didn’t, but am so grateful for everybody watching over me!

2014-02-02 11.10.55And of course, many thanks to my good friends Hemant and Barry – both of you check in on me, kidnap me for coffee or just some time away from the house. Readers of my little blog might remember that Barry took me to Great Falls way back just before my surgery, and he took me again at the beginning of February. An emotional yet treasured few hours, especially since the first time we went I didn’t know if I’d ever see it again. We watched small icebergs split away from the falls and float downstream, while a lone kayak dude worked his way across the water and tried to go upstream – Wow!  Lots of choked up moments as we just communed with nature on a relatively balmy day after the polar vortex chills of January.

polarvortexYes, we had and are still having colder weather and more snow than some parts of Alaska! My mom and sister up in Kenai were laughing at how we were in sub-zero temps with them in the 40’s. And as I write this, I’m resting after mostly watching CJ (who turned 18!) shovel the 12+ inches of snow we got last night and today. With a couple more inches coming tonight! My mom on Facetime told me there’s just a small patch of snow on her front lawn, her only complaint is the overly long darkness. But days are getting longer as we move toward spring! Alaska is such a different place – I remember the last time I was there in the summertime there was nearly no night-time. Just a kind of dusk that started about 11pm and gave up by 3am – the rest was dawn and daylight. In wintertime, it’s the opposite.

sunflowerWhat’d I miss? Oh, some great time with Robin & Brian, including talk about marketing and promotion directions, a fabulous dinner at Ilene and David’s (thanks!), a noisy day when our siding was replaced (books and knick-knacks falling off of shelves, pictures flying off the walls), finalizing our bathroom renovation plans (here come the grab bars!), a very nice lunch and chat with Tom at Sunflower where the ‘chikin fingers’ are sooo good (yet vegetarian!), the aforementioned birthday lunch at Positano’s (CJ’s and Mike’s) – I should mention that CJ and a bunch of his friends went to his birthday dinner at Sakura, but I couldn’t handle the noise so Nicole took Charlotte (thanks!) for her date. Oh, and a replacement front door (under warranty, yay!) that wasn’t a loud operation at all, and some ‘toe-dipping’ tech support efforts – thanks Fred & Jen & Jess, Cheryl, Marybeth and Kevin, Susan, Gabriele, and Susan for your patience while I worked my IT magic (of sorts) on your computers. Very much slower than normal!

2014-02-13 17.17.59And my first haircut post-surgery, thanks Sarah! And even some dental work – thanks Dr. Musmar! Yah, it’s those little, routine things that I’m treasuring just because I can! Unfortunately I still have to wait for that nice glass of Pinot Noir and to start driving – not at the same time! I’ve agreed to wait on both experiences until Nicole gives me the go-ahead. I know I am not a good judge of when I’m ready to take on those ‘tasks’.

slow-driver-car-window-warning-signSpeaking of not driving, I know I’m not quite ready, as my multi-tasking ability seems to be stuck in first gear. Anytime I try to do more than one thing at a time, I kind of stall and sit there – I’m sure with a confused look on my face. Same thing with trying to follow more than one conversation at a time – it just ain’t happening yet. Oh well.

buildingWhich was quite evident yesterday when I made my first social visit to the temple. Lots of wonderful folks came up to say hi and see how I was doing. I did my best to follow along, but quickly lost my ability to keep up. Had to retreat to Beth’s office for a quiet, one-on-one. Then headed over to Amy’s office and had a wonderful discussion with her, thanks Amy! And hugs to all my temple friends and everyone who stopped to say hello, even if I was a little confused about who, what, where and all that – sorry!

2014-02-13 12.07.07Which brings me to today – our little snowfall (Margaret, did you wish for this for your birthday? If so, you got your wish – in spades!). CJ and I did some shoveling (ok, me just a bit for show), and measured the snow in the driveway – 12 full inches! I also measured the back  yard, 15″ due to some drifting and piling up. All in all, a great snow day. I got to do a wee bit of shoveling (very wee), Astro got forced outside at least twice (funny, he loves snow but hates rain, and we had both today), and we’re now snuggled in for the night. Yes, it took me all day to write this!

So let me close with some ketchup milestones, and if anyone who knows any that I missed, please let me know in the comments, thanks!

  1. 2nd post-surgical MRI, day 110
  2. polar vortex kicks in, Chris stays inside, days 111-130
  3. Mastermind strategy meeting, where I was sorta compos mentos! day 114
  4. a noisy and fun visit with our long-time (but retired to Bolivia) housekeeper, Aida (but no zoomer) day 117
  5. not totally losing it to the delirium tremens, days 118-139
  6. living through a day of siding replacement (yes, big zoomer), day 122
  7. going to (ok riding with Sue) the Volvo dealer for auto service, day 125
  8. surviving 4+ hours of looking at tile to pick out for the new bathroom, day 127
  9. Last day for meds! day 131
  10. being up to revisit Great Falls – and doing it!  day 135
  11. first post-surgery haircut, day 136
  12. no more D.T.’s (mostly), day 140
  13. post-surgical dentist visit with drilling, what joy! day 143
  14. first social visit to the temple with not too much confusion on my part, day 145
  15. first attempt at shoveling snow – several snowballs worth, day 146
  16. first day post-surgery without a nap!, day 146

And every day is a milestone, thanking my loving wife, Nicole for sticking with (and putting up with) me. Oh, and her patient and untiring ability to repeat stuff (very slowly) while my brain processes complex phraseology such as “Head hurts? Put your underwear on your head!”. Can’t wait for a day without a headache!


Fyi, I’m continuing the milestone count from this post and this post, just as reference for the obsessive-compulsive…