Tuesday, May 31, 2016

It's done and I'm thinking I'm glad

My surgery is done that is.  Let me give you all the gruesome details.  We drove into Las Vegas last Thursday and checked into one of the local hotel-casinos - The Palace Station Hotel and Casino - it isn't 4-star but is was $50 a night and only about 10 blocks from the hospital.  It was clean and comfortable and the staff were very nice.  My appointment at the hospital was at 08:00 so we didn't want to be getting stuck in traffic!  We had dinner with our daughter then crashed. 

Next morning we were bright and early at the hospital.  This was Valley Hospital.  I can see why the doctor likes it; it was only about five minutes drive from his office.  It isn't new but is certainly large and seemed to have all the goodies.  So we check in and get all fixed up for the operation.  Don't I look happy?

The surgery I'm waiting for is ACDF:  anterior cervical discecomy and fusion.  It means they go into the throat from the front, push everything out of the way then remove the failing disc replacing it with a special piece of plastic.  Finally they use a plate and screw the plate into the two vertebrae.  A bone graft may be used or not.  In my case the doctor expects the vertebrae fuse without the need for an external bone graft. 

My wife sat with me and we read for a while then  two hours later, just as projected, I get rolled away to the operating theatre.  The next thing I know is I'm waking and my wife and daughter are visiting.  Well, I'm told that is what happened, my memory is pretty foggy. 

This would have been around noon and I wasn't totally around until around 3 or 4 in the afternoon when I started feeling hungry.  (No food since the night before so it's reasonable.)  Around 5 p.m. they brought me food:  chicken parm, pasta and some salad.  I managed about a third of the chicken and pasta.  The salad didn't sound like fun.  I was cutting it into really small bites but it was working.  

Over the night I got to play with the pain medication pump.  You have this button that you press to give you a little jolt of pain medication.  The machine is pre-set to a certain volume of medication and how often you can receive it.  They set it for, say, 10 minutes.  If you press it before 10 minutes has passed the machine ignores your request.  If it's been more than 10, you get your medication and the timer is reset.  They had me set to pretty-often so during the night I did find myself flying once or twice but I don't really care for the feeling so eased off. 

By mid-morning I was ready to be out of the hospital and was asking everyone if I could get out.  In retrospect that was probably a bad idea.  I didn't understand how much better the drugs are in the hospital!  In the end we left about 3 p.m. with a prescription for oxycodon.  It is a good hour and a half over the pass and back home so it was nearing 5 p.m. before we landed and got situated.  I was glad to be home but I was soon to understand that thing about the quality of the drugs!  Mostly I had a sore throat.  It wasn't until Sunday that we figured out that I could be taking another medication with the oxy.  Since then it only hurts to swallow.  Before it was downright painful most of the time.  I do have a fancy neck brace.
The incision isn't particularly large, it really looks like only a couple of inches long.  I guess it was big enough though.  Before the procedure I would have numbness in the fingers of my left hand that would gradually climb up the arm until my whole arm was painful.  That hasn't happened since the procedure.  My very finger tips are kind of tingly but it hasn't gone any farther.  So that's a good step.  Also the pain I've had in my middle back has stopped.  I'm not sure if that has to do with the surgery or if the three days bed rest did it.  Probably the latter.  In the good news column I have lost about 3 lb.  I can't really recommend it as a diet but I'm looking for every possible good thing here!

Gotta go.  I'll update my blog when I find something new to say.  Take care and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


After much fooling around I did finally manage to get my MRI.  (See this Wikipedia article about MRI's if you are uncertain what they are.)  If you haven't had one it's not too strenuous but it isn't that much fun either.  Conventional MRI machines are built in a cylinder form and you are placed on a sort of plank and are slid into the machine.  I had an MRI in a machine like that many years ago and I discovered I'm kind of claustrophobic.  That makes it a very unpleasant experience.  Since then I've required what is called an 'open' MRI.  It's better but not great.  Here's a photo I took of the machine.
You lie down on the surface on the right.  It is raised up and you are slid into the main portion of the machine.  I told my wife it is like you are the meat in a hamburger and the machine is the bun.  So you are in this thing but can see with your peripheral vision and, not a small thing, there is better air flow than in the conventional machines.  Then it starts up making all kinds of bangs and clangs; it is just part of the process.  I was told it would take 19 minutes - I guess so.  I was certainly happy for it to end! 

Then Monday I got to meet with my specialist who told me I have a problem with the C6-C7 vertebrae.  I'm told I have three options:  live with it; get a cortisone shot that relieves the pain for about 6 months or surgery to remove the disk.  Hmmm.  So I'm headed for the operating room one of these days.  It will probably be a while but I'm sure you'll be hearing about it after it happens!

Back at the ranch, the cactus are happy.  We've been getting rain, more than usual, so the desert is perky.  We even had a rainbow - kind of.
Our cactus plants are happy.  These photos were taken a couple days apart.
The cactus flowers will be disappearing soon though.  Our 'spring' is definitely ending with temps expected to be in the high 90's (35C give or take) in the next few days.  Well, that's why we have those expensive air conditioners!  It is also why we don't have trees and lawns.  It's just not the right part of the world for those things.

IKEA is opening a new store in Las Vegas next week.  It is big news for locals, our Fox channel has a reporter out there this morning!  Don't get me wrong, I buy things at IKEA, I enjoy going to IKEA.  In the Netherlands I went there quite often for little things for our home.  I'm sure we'll be visiting the new store before it's a month old.  But putting it on the 'news'?  Really? 

Well, that's the news from this corner of the planet.  Take care and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Financial Advice???

OK, two posts in one day?  Yeah, it's not the Don you know and put up with.  But this really called for a post.  After I posted this morning my wife and I go out to our local Chinese-Thai restaurant for lunch.  It's a nice enough little place so we have lunch and are given fortune cookies at the end of our meal.  My wife read hers out loud then I opened mine.

REALLY?  A way out of a financial mess as if by magic?  And it is the same for us both.  If I believed, I'd be searching high and low to see if we are in a financial mess that I don't know about.  Or maybe it is for our country?  I'd love a way out of THAT mess.  Well, here's hoping.  Take care!

Life is life and sometimes death

I'm not going to turn this into a medical blog but I do want to report on my MRI results.  Well, I would except I don't have any.  Last Tuesday we were zooming over to Vegas and were about 30 miles into the trip when we find a Highway Patrol car parked across the road.  There had been a fatal accident just up the road and the road would be closed for four hours (!) to investigate it.  Well, we were planning on having lunch then going to my appointment so we could still make it by going around to Vegas the 'long way'.  We zoom back to Pahrump and are cruising through town when my phone rings. 

Hooray!  An opportunity for us to try the bluetooth attachment between the phone and the car!  This is new technology to us so it was cool.  Unfortunately it was a young woman from the MRI place telling us that the machine broke down and we would have to reschedule.  Hmmm, well it was a opportune time to call!  So we made an appointment for next Tuesday, the 3rd, then went had lunch and went home. 

Saturday I get another call from the MRI place.  This time the machine needs maintenance so can we move the appointment to Wednesday.  Really?  The thing needs repair one week and maintenance the next?  Well, whatever.  So no MRI results.  I'm a little worried about Wednesday though!

I should mention that we are gradually getting used to the new car and all it's bells and whistles.  You only have to be carrying the key fob and when you touch the door you can either lock or unlock it.  That took me an embarrassing amount of time to learn.  The bluetooth apparently works.  The built in GPS is taking some getting used to but we've had Garmin for probably 10 years so it is a little learning curve.  One thing that I love is the backup camera.  Since I'm having neck problems it is great to just look at that monitor rather than try to turn around.  You need to be careful and not depend upon it totally but it is a real help.  In fact, I've purchased a backup camera for the truck as well.  It's really helpful.  Again you can't just ignore the world but it sure helps out.

I did notice a bumper sticker that I really like.  Amazingly it's not political.  Just real.
I sure wish I knew where they found that thing.  It fits the town so well! 

Gotta go.  We are having visitors this weekend (Number One Son & SO) so the cleaning frenzy is beginning.  Take care & thanks for dropping by.