Chilkat, December 2017 versus December 2018

Chilkat, December 2017 versus December 2018

Chilkat versus Chilkoot at 65 months

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

December 2018 Part II

We went up to Bellingham for Grandma Christmas. Northwood and Auntie L surprised Mom — they were on a road trip vacation, and planned to hit Bellingham on the 22nd, so we made sure Grandma Christmas coincided without letting Mom know about it. We ate pizza and take out Thai. We drank beer and gave presents. We smashed geodes with a hammer (one of Chilkat’s presents). We goofed about and had a generally good time. It’s nice when an unusual collection of family members get together.

Northwood and L came to stay with us for two nights after. KrisDi made salad (on L’s request) and bloody mary grilled cheese (her own idea). Chilkoot got to horseplay with an adult for a while, which is nice since I haven’t been able to do it for a while. They rode bikes and had a good ol’ time. Northwood even borrowed Chilkoot’s bike for a short ride.

Chilkoot wanted a beard to match Dad and Uncle. We worked on Chilkoot’s pinewood derby car, which included power tools like drills and miter saws. We let Chilkoot help operate the miter saw, but after he kept reaching toward it with his free hand, we made him put his hand inn his pocket and keep it there.

Christmas Eve, Northwood and L left for their next stop (Yellowstone), and we went to E Dubs’ for the traditional eating of Polish foods and opening of children’s presents.

Mom, Les, and D came to our place for Christmas Day, where of course more presents were opened. I got a couple books about beer, a sloth, a bottle of single malt Taiwanese whiskey (accompanied by a dreaded happy napper penguin), and several months ago an expensive lens that went with me to Guam. Kids got too much stuff and got rid of little to nothing. KrisDi’s primary present was a Vitamix (she’s agreed to get rid of her old blender, but hasn’t done it yet).

The day after, Mr. JJ and family came down for a Bourbon Barrel Beer tasting along with KrisDi’s deep dish pizza and pretzel bites. The kids also opened a snack store (last year, they sold us the beer we drank). The first of the three flights was Prairie BOMB! Deconstructed — a heavy-duty imperial stout normally brewed with vanilla, cacao, coffee, and peppers, deconstructed into a version with just the vanilla, a version with just the cacao, just the coffee, just the peppers…and the beer itself. It was interesting. We all liked the constructed BOMB! best, and varied about which of the deconstructions were our favorites. Our second round was a mishmash of beers that included some Ancient Ones from Fremont from two years ago. It was fun. The deconstructed versions of the BOMB! had some encoded text on them that Mr. JJ’s daughter and wife spent a bunch of time decoding manually (it was a recipe for seven layer dip). The last, ill-advised round, was a vertical of bourbon barrel aged Dark Stars. We were already a bit too inebriated to enjoy it properly; I didn’t finish the round, and Mr JJ and his son brought back Mrs JJ to drive them home. I stayed up for another 1-1.5 hours drinking non-alcoholic beverages and eating bready stuff while cleaning up to increase my chances of a pleasant morning.

The next day, we went to the Paramount Theater to see the Lion King. This was a Christmas present for Mom, Les, and D. And maybe the kids. I think everyone enjoyed it. The costumes were really interested. This was the day I had my MRI late in the evening.

On the 28th, we wanted to give the kids a little time away from each other. KrisDi took Chilkat to see Ralph Breaks the Internet, and I took Chilkoot to see Into the Spiderverse. Nothing particularly remarkable in my opinion, but the kids are each (generally) much more pleasant without their counterpart.

The following day, we dropped the kids off with Nana and Papa to stay for the night, while KrisDi and I went with P Dubs and T to a brewery, to lunch, and to a Thunderbirds hockey game. My back hurt a lot by the end of the game.

Finally, our friends from Medford came up to visit. KrisDi made Beef Wellington (this time with a wine sauce instead of a cream and green peppercorn sauce). She made Huevos Rancheros for breakfast (delicious — and surprisingly good pairing with a Corona at 8 AM). We mostly just hung out with them.

Finally, we had a New Year’s Eve party with lots of friends. The Medford friends, the False Alarms, the Popes, Lori’s family all came over; half of them stayed at our house. Of course, as mentioned previously, I had an unfortunately exciting end to the evening including an unplanned visit from Les. We made G False Alarm a North Dakota Iced Tea v2.0. He seemed to enjoy it. If you’re curious, this was v1.0.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

December 2018 Part I

As mentioned in previous posts, my back has sucked since October. We couldn’t go to a tree farm and cut down a tree, we went to a market and bought one. I couldn’t move a ladder around, KrisDi had to move it up to the closet to get me into the attic to get Christmas stuff down; I couldn’t decorate the house.

KrisDi and the kids made gingerbread houses and decorated around the house as well. Chilkoot, for some reason unknown to me, built a bunch of Christmas-related costumes out of construction paper, and he and Chilkat held a fashion show to display them.

KrisDi had signed all four of us up for the Christmas Rush 5KChilkoot and KrisDi ran most of the way and finished in something like 41 minutes; Chilkat and I walked and finished in around 1:04. We got passed by the guy with the tuba, but we passed the guy that was half my height, twice my width, and recovering from a broken leg. Chilkat started complaining that we would never finish after about a mile, my back started complaining after about a mile and a half.

Later that day, we went to Elbe, WA to ride the Polar Express train there. My back was angry from the 5K and the drive out there and it was a crowd. I endured. The kids enjoyed it. We picked up Nana and Papa at their house, and met the E Dubs clan there and rode with them.

The next day, we planned to go to a birthday party for one of KrisDi’s internet friend’s kids. Chilkoot managed to damage himself just beforehand — jumping on the couch, he accidentally launched himself off over the arm, falling and hitting his belly on the corner of a table (probably about two inches from broken ribs), wedging himself between the table and the couch with his ribcage on one side of the table’s corner and his hips on the other.

We had KrisDi’s work Christmas party. This year, it was at the Museum of Flight instead of at the horse track. I haven’t gone the last few years, so I went this year. KrisDi’s parents also came along. It was a good time. We won a surprisingly competitive mashup of musical chairs and a scavenger hunt, in which KrisDi stashed a bajillion odds and ends in her purse to give herself a better chance of having the things we needed to find. Big D shouldered some poor dude off a chair to stay in it. KrisDi won a tub of beer. We got some whiskey as a white elephant gift.

After the party, we had free entry into the museum. We wandered around it for a while. Not sure how long, but my back was misbehaving badly. I was having tons of pain and weakness down the left leg, which left me literally dragging it around the museum.

Chilkat had her reconciliation. Not a thing I’m deeply familiar with, not being Catholic. As I understand it, it’s basically first confession. Chilkat dreaded it, wrote out her sins to confess, successfully confessed, did whatever penance she was supposed to do, and then a couple days later said she thought her heart was full of sin again. I’m fairly sure that “being mean to Chilkoot” and “not listening to Mom and Dad” were her primary sins.

The False Alarms, Popes, and I planned a Daddies / Eldest Daughters night. The smaller False Alarm girl came with us as well this time. We dressed up and went ice skating (great idea, for a guy with a shitty back, a guy with shitty feet, and a guy recovering from a severed Achilles tendon). That didn’t last too long, and then we went to dinner, and by that time it was late enough we went home.

Of course the kids wanted to open presents as soon as they started showing up under the tree, and this and this was part of their reaction when we told them no.

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment

Why does my back hurt even more?

Four Days After some MRIs

New Year’s Eve, we hosted a party. We had two families from relatively far away who stayed the night.

11 PM New Year’s Eve, I tried to change from pants into pajamas. I put my hand on something and leaned while I tried to lift one of my legs out of my pants. A moment later, I found myself on the floor gasping and crying with pain exploding in my lower back. KrisDi came up shortly after and found me on all fours trying to get control of myself again.

I got back downstairs somehow. I don’t clearly remember how, but I think KrisDi helped. I sat on the couch with our friends. G False Alarm, drunk as an ox and not particularly sensitive even when sober, kept bugging me by nudging or something similar, and neither my spine nor my attitude really appreciated it, which may have been evident when I followed through on a mild threat and nearly broke his finger.

I endured until we finished our New Year’s toast, then went back upstairs (again, don’t know how I got there). More crying and gasping, learning that crawling was no less painful than standing or walking, and I had gotten myself into bed, where I spent several minutes trying to find a position where I could relax that wasn’t painful. Eventually, I was in a position lying kind of on my back but rotated maybe 30-45 degrees to my left, with a huge pillow between my knees, using both my arms to pull my left knee toward my chest. This was painful, but bearable. I held it for maybe an hour before KrisDi came up for bed.

We decided I should go to the hospital. Logistically challenging, since all the adults in the house had drunk rather generously (and I was in too much pain to drive anyway). KrisDi asked Les to drive up from Bonney Lake to drive me to the ER, which he very kindly did. KrisDi helped me get down the stairs; I (comically) used Chilkat’s cut-down cane to try to help keep some of the weight off my back.

After getting to the hospital, I let Les go home as quick as I could so he wouldn’t have to wait while all I was doing was waiting. I squirmed uncomfortably in the wheelchair for what felt like forever but was probably 30 minutes before they took me in the back, did some simple tests and questions and looked at my four-day-old MRI results before declaring I should basically proceed with my existing plans to follow up with my back doctor. They gave me three prednisone pills and two oxycodone (on an empty stomach, after a sleepless night full of drinking — party time!) and prescriptions for more.

KrisDi got me home somewhere around 6 AM. Everyone was still asleep; we got me to the recliner upstairs and propped me up with pillows, where I entered drug-induced sleep for about two hours, before waking up and joining everyone for breakfast with my ER bracelet still on my wrist.

The initial pain, up to the point where I got to the hospital, was the most extreme pain I’ve ever experienced — by a large margin. However, it also marked a change in the pain I’d been experiencing since October. It wasn’t really going down my left leg at all any more, I wasn’t getting the numbness or shooting pains down the left leg; it was dominated by local pain directly in the lower back, but with some pain in the hamstrings and buttocks. After several days of prednisone, the bulk of the pain is now right hamstring / buttock centered, and not really shooting pains — feels like I badly strained or overworked the muscles.

Between “too much pain to drive without percocet” and “shouldn’t drive while on percocet”, I skipped work on Wednesday and Thursday, I set up a silly lying down workstation and spent some time on my back on a computer (worked surprisingly well). I got a little work done and got some silly old home computing things done as well. I finally went in today (now with a grown-up sized cane!) — holding off on the percocet until I was already at work (and only having one in the morning so I was OK to drive home in the afternoon). It was a fairly productive day that wasn’t terribly challenging for my back.

Follow up appointment with my back doctor Monday morning.

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope your new year celebration was less painful than mine.

Radiology report from thoracic MRI on 27 December

FINDINGS: Flattening of thoracic kyphosis is present. Multilevel Schmorl’s nodes and disc dehydration changes are seen lower thoracic spine suggesting Scheuermann’s syndrome.

AP dimension of the spinal canal is unremarkable.

Spinal cord is well-visualized without evidence for syrinx.

Upper thoracic levels show unremarkable posterior disc margins at T1-2 through T6-7. Nerve root canals are widely patent upper thoracic levels.

Lower thoracic spine shows T7-8, nerve root canals and facets show mild right facet degeneration.

T8-9: Broad-based minor bulging is seen on the right without nerve root flattening or cord contact. Nerve root canals are widely patent.

T9-10: Mild bulging is seen bilaterally. Right facet shows mild degeneration.

T10-11: Posterior disc margin is unremarkable. Facets show small amounts of joint fluid bilaterally.

T11-12: Posterior disc margin is unremarkable. Facets are unremarkable.


  1. Multilevel Schmorl’s nodes and disc dehydration suggesting Scheuermann’s syndrome.
  2. Mild right-sided annular bulging T8-9.
  3. Bilobed annular bulging T9-10.

Thank you for this interesting referral.

Radiology report from lumbar MRI on 27 December

FINDINGS: The alignment of the lumbar spine shows mild scoliosis. Multilevel moderate disc space narrowing and dehydration changes are seen with multilevel Schmorl’s nodes suggesting Scheuermann’s syndrome.

The AP dimension of the spinal canal is narrow on a congenital basis. Pseudoarthroses are developing between spinous process L3-4, L4-5.

Conus is unremarkable in configuration and position.

L5-S1: The posterior disc margin shows mild bulging. Facets show minor degenerative changes. Nerve root canals are widely patent.

L4-5: Broad-based left-sided 10 mm disc protrusion markedly narrows left subarticular recess and creates marked flattening traversing left L5 nerve. Right subarticular recess is moderately narrowed and there is moderate to marked central stenosis. Right nerve root canal is moderate to moderately severely narrowed. Left nerve root canal is moderately narrowed.

L3-4: Mild bulging is seen. Subarticular recesses are mildly narrowed. Facets show mild degeneration. Nerve root canals are widely patent bilaterally.

L2-3: Mild bulging is present. Facets show right greater than left mild degeneration. Nerve root canals are widely patent.

L1-2: Minor bulging is visible on sagittal images only. STIR images show high STIR signal between spinous processes at L3-4 and L4-5 suggesting Baastrup’s syndrome and inflammation in these locations.

Prior imaging is available for comparison dated 5/18/2018. That study also showed multilevel Schmorl’s nodes, disc dehydration and narrow AP dimension of the spinal canal. Minor annular deformities L1-2, L2-3 and L5-S1 are unchanged. L4-5 left disc protrusion is markedly larger than prior study. High STIR signal between spinous processes was seen at L4-5 and L3-4.


  1. L4-5 left disc protrusion creating central stenosis and marked left subarticular recess narrowing.
  2. L5-S1 mild bulging with mild facet degeneration.
  3. AP dimension of the spinal canal is narrow on a congenital basis.
  4. Mild annular bulging L2-3 and L1-2.
  5. Multilevel Schmorl’s nodes and disc dehydration changes are seen suggesting Scheuermann’s syndrome.
  6. Pseudoarthroses are developing between spinous processes with high STIR signal at L4-5 and L3-4 suggesting Baastrup’s syndrome.

Thank you for this interesting referral.

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