Photo updates

This is where I post updates on the photos I upload.

January Part II

The kids’ iPad was breaking down (restarting randomly, sometimes <5min in between, yes I did all the troubleshooting steps), and we have a long trip to Florida coming up. We decided, with mixed feelings, to buy two new ones. One, that’s a lot of money, and two, it means they don’t have to share (something we feel they need real world practice at). But, I learned there are some unexpected benefits (the expected one being less fighting, more quiet) — the first day, Chilkoot was asking how to spell things and trying to type them out. He has to do more things for himself since his sister is occupied.

The kids went down to stay with Papa for a night (the Super Wolf Blood Moon night, I think), and KrisDi and I went out for beer and food with P Dubs & T. That was nice, except that riding in the car that long was a bit much for my back, and the seats weren’t awesome for my back. We did manage to take a couple decent pictures of the moon with the megalens.

We got tickets to go to a Tavour beer party, and Papa came up to watch the kids while we went to it. We met some friends there. They had Cantillon and a number of other hard to find, delicious beers. It was crowded, chaotic, and almost no seating for me, but it was a lot of fun and I would totally do it again (hopefully in better back health.

M False Alarm turned 8. For her birthday party, she wanted to go to a nail salon (and not bring along little sister). So, I hung around at their house with G while B and Chilkoot barricaded the door. After the kids came back, it was presents, cake, playing, dinner. Somehow ending up with B’s foot stuck in a tree. I don’t understand. Oh, and they made slime, which Chilkoot disliked.

KrisDi got rear ended on her way home from work. She was stopped on an off-ramp; the car behind her was not stopped until it wedged firmly into her rear bumper. Everyone was OK, but KrisDi’s car is likely out for almost 4 weeks and by guidelines, we need to replace the kids’ carseats. This, of course, helps make logistics super easy the week I have surgery.

KrisDi started prepping for Chilkoot’s Harry Potter birthday party. I’ll save most of the pictures for the actual party.

Chilkat is selling Girl Scout cookies (contact us if you want some). She was making personalized sales videos and thank you videos for a while. We sent a sheet to work with A False Alarm, who has nearly doubled Chilkat’s sales.

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The Back Story

If you don’t like gory pictures, you probably shouldn’t look through the album above, since it includes a close up of the disc material removed from my back.

So, as I previously wrote, I had a lower back event on New Year’s Eve. That appears to have been my L4-L5 disc exploding, squishing like a tube of toothpaste, excess material constricting my spinal canal where the spinal cord splits into the nerve roots that feed the butt, hips, legs, and feet.

MRI on January 16th pretty clearly shows this (you can see the black/gray blob blocking off most of the spinal canal between the last two full-sized vertebrae). By stupid measurements, compared to MRI of the same area three years ago, I may have lost 1/4″ of height by squashing that disc.

I saw a neurosurgeon about whether I should have surgery; his opinion was basically “No-brainer, yes.” He said with or without the surgery, I’ll be in basically the same state after about a year, with basically the same risk levels for re-injury, and the same after 5 years. I asked him about risk of repeat rupture, with versus without surgery. He laughed and said, “Basically the same — but either way, there’s so little disc left that it probably can’t do much.” Way to look on the bright side, doctor! The main differentiator between yes and no seems to be faster relief with the surgery.

Before going through with the surgery, I went back to talk to my regular back doctor to make sure he didn’t think it was a mistake. He thought it was a reasonable decision to make, although he said something like, “If I was a surgeon, I’d want to operate on you, too — you’re young and you’re going to heal well and quickly, versus performing a ‘salvage’ surgery on a 75 year old.”

The surgery is a microdiscectomy, which apparently has some other names. Small incision, grind some vertebra bone out of the way, reach into the spinal column with cutting and grabbing tools (guided by some kind of camera/microscope) to remove the extrusion and any other bulge that the surgeon deems beneficial. Animated explanation behind this link.

The surgery was last Thursday, January 31st, 9:20 AM. Shouldn’t be any real surprises — no drinking alcohol for days beforehand, no eating or drinking anything starting at midnight before the surgery; IV, brief conversation with the surgeon who said it should take about 90 minutes and that he’d give us a picture of the removed material (and that it would look like crab meat). I remember hugs and kisses and see you laters with KrisDi, then waking up in the recovery room with a nurse who started feeding me crackers and soda — feeling groggy, confused, and sore.

Apparently, during this time, KrisDi talked to the surgeon, and he showed her this picture of Krang after removal from my back.

After a while, they moved me back to the same room I was in pre-op, where KrisDi was. Getting from the gurney into the chair was very unpleasant, with a giant shot of pain down the back of my right leg while trying to turn and get up. Continued getting snacks, various blood pressure or other minor medical tests, then they decided it was OK for me to go, around 12:30. KrisDi went to pick up prescriptions and get the truck, a volunteer (who arrived like 15 minutes late) took me in a wheelchair down to the truck.

Then we went out directly to have ramen for lunch. The lack of nerve pinch was already quite noticeable. Soreness and drug affects still had me moving pretty slow.

Before bed, I could already tell standing up straight was better, I could stand up and look up and look around without tweaking in my tailbone, I wasn’t getting shooting pain in my butt or down my legs (I have gotten one or two shooting pains in the process of getting in and out of bed).

Now…entering my fourth 24 hour period following the completion of my surgery. I stopped taking painkillers yesterday. My back gets tired if I sit or stand too long, and I actually feel pretty normal when I stand up after lying down and resting for a while. When I’m not tired, I can go up and down the stairs pretty comfortably.

Bending and twisting is clearly a no-no, aside from the fact that it’s currently forbidden. KrisDi has to do almost everything for me, which is frustrating.

Recovery plan…I’m not sure how long the no bending/twisting stricture lasts; I know I’m not allowed any exercise aside from walking for at least 2-3 weeks. No lifting more than 10 pounds for 3 months (so KrisDi gets to carry all our luggage for a family trip to visit Dad in Florida). In the short term, I’m supposed to limit stints of sitting or standing (which is pretty natural right now). I’ll have a follow up with the surgeon in about two weeks.

On a logistics note…I haven’t driven my car since December, since it’s low (therefore difficult for me to enter/exit) and a clutch. When we bought the truck, one of our lines of reasoning was “Well, snaotheus might get hurt and be unable to drive his clutch; we might have an accident and need a spare vehicle. This way we don’t need to rent a car. It’s unlikely those two things would happen at the same time.” Of course, KrisDi got rear-ended the week of my surgery. I need the truck, her car’s in the shop, and she can’t drive my car. So, Les is borrowing my car, and KrisDi is borrowing his.

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January 2019 Part I

Well, I’ve already talked about how my new year started. I’ll talk in more detail about the continuing Back Saga in a separate post, but I got another lumbar MRI and a cortisone shot. I mentioned previously a lying down workstation — I used a Bluetooth split keyboard, a Bluetooth trackball, and the stand from my floating jackolantern so I could lie down on my back, with my feet up, my hands on either side of my hips, and a computer screen directly in front of my face as I look straight up. I started using a cane around the office, and one of my team members gave me a sweet-ass upgrade.

KrisDi started to prep for Chilkat’s birthday party. This year, she turns 8 and chose Harry Potter as her theme. The picture above was one taken in preparation for making invitations. She made a bunch of unfinished wands for the kids to paint or color during the actual party. I helped by suggesting using a pencil sharpener to start rounding the tips.

We finished Chilkoot’s pinewood derby car. He decided it needed to be painted like flames, and that it should named Daddy.

The pinewood derby itself was odd. It was a much smaller crowd than the Girl Scouts’ version with Chilkat last year — but it was very disorganized. They didn’t even get started until about an hour late because they didn’t have the track set up. Many of the cars were more fancily made (I have the impression the dads “helped” a lot). Chilkoot didn’t win anything, and mostly just ran around not paying attention.

Chilkoot’s front two teeth have been very loose, so much so that her left front tooth could be described as dangling. But, she completely freaks out if we even mention the tooth, acting as if we’re going to smash her over the head and pull it out with pliers. We let it go until she had her dentist visit, where she acted like a total idiot. Chilkoot was even infected by her shitty behavior. The dentist said the tissue is inflamed and that she thinks Chilkat avoiding the tooth during brushing was starting to cause problems. Chilkat has a cavity, and has to go back to get it fixed. The dentist said she could “extract” the teeth at ~$250 a pop. Total bullshit for something a fumbled toothpick could handle, so we told the girl we’re going to do it whether she likes it or not. Part of our job as parents is to help her take care of herself, and there’s no guarantee she’s going to like everything we need to do to achieve that.

For the most part, it’s been a quiet month while I potter about the house ineffectually, make KrisDi do all the chores, and try to figure out my stupid worthless back.

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Chilkat, December 2017 versus December 2018

Chilkat, December 2017 versus December 2018

Chilkat versus Chilkoot at 65 months

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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.

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