Sunday, March 25, 2007

Joan Crawford Eyebrows

25 March 2007

Spring has seemed to have sprung here in Chicago. A few cold days here and there, but typical Chicago weather for spring. We hit 78 out here in the sticks today! For someone recovering and just "hanging around", you wouldn't believe the schedule I keep now!

I had physical therapy on Monday and confirmed my meeting with my General Practitioner for Thurs. I started giving the high BP more thought and have decided to consult a Preventative Cardiologist. Edward Hospital in Naperville has a great cardiology department and with my Dad checking out at 58 and Gramp at 74, I think maybe some preventative medicine is just what I need right now. I just want another opinion of someone where this is their primary concern and practice.

Tuesday I had to be home for the yard guys because we had the yard aerated and dethatched.

Wednesday, I met with my buddy Bob and the accountant about some possible new opportunities. Also on Wednesday, more arm physical therapy. I have great range of motion and flexibility, and the therapist is starting to work with the resistance training more now. In a couple more weeks, he will begin strength training and then I'll feel like I'm in the home stretch. I still have some pain in the arm or in the wrist at times and this crazy humid weather kind of frustrates things.

Thursday morning, I met with my GP. Believe it or not, the bp was 118/80! He was as surprised as I was. The only thing I can chalk up the other readings to would be a reaction to the pain from the arm and back. I'm still intending on seeing the preventive doc and told my doc that I put more than my share into the cookie jar, and I intend to get something back out of Uncle Sugar! In other words, I want to be around a few years into retirement. Also made follow-up calls to corporate in Colo Springs today to get duplicate W2's. They sent mine to Victory and no one forwarded them onto me...can you say, DUH! My accountant can't submit my taxes without them.

From there to the physical therapist for the back. I'm officially four weeks out from surgery and can start physical therapy on the back. My therapist, Jason, I had during the summer when I had problems this summer after doing too much in the yard and threw out my back again. I like him because he isn't afraid to touch. So many physical therapists would rather don a rubber suit and gas mask than touch their patients. I think physical therapy is all about touch for healing. How can you determine what I need if you are only on the outside of your protective bubble looking in? You have to have a rapport with your patient and have to listen and touch to find out what is going on. So I wanted to go back to him. He actually listens to me when I tell him how it hurts and what is going on with me.

Thursday I also had (drum roll please!) my first pedicure and facial. We have a men’s shop in St. Charles called the Men's Groom Room. Since this whole back/disk thing has been going on my feet have not gotten the care they deserve. It’s just been too hard to bend over to regularly cut and clean the nails and such. Every time I’d bend over to put on socks and shoes, the herniated disk would push into the sciatic nerve more. So I said, "to heck with it" and decided to have it all done.

You can't believe the difference it makes. The feet feel great. I had never had anyone touch my feet before, mostly because they are too ticklish, but also because they are even disgusting to me! And my reason for not going sooner was this recurring nightmare I have about people touching my feet. In my nightmare, I was imagining poor Ellen oil and salt scrubbing my feet and to my imagined horror, ending up feeling tickled and gently applying the heel of my foot in a light backward pushing motion to her forehead, sending her (arms and legs flailing helplessly around)careening across the floor. “Ooops, sorry,” is all I say apologetically in this nightmare of mine! But all that worry was for naught! She said that by using the correct pressure on the toes, it really isn’t as bad as you might think…and you know what? She was right.

Then Ellen performed the dreaded eyebrow wax. She damned near trimmed down what looked like Andy Rooney’s eyebrow-mustaches/unibrow from above my eyes and then applied the hot wax to shape my new and improved eyebrows! I must say that waxing is a bit more painful than the threading of the eyebrows done at the Hilton in Kuwait back in May, but it is also a cleaner look too. In several “light tugs” (more like pulling friggin salt water taffy if you ask me how it felt!) she removed the dried wax around my new eyebrows.

Next, the facial. Ellen donned her welder’s mask and metal grinder to perform a wonderfully peaceful light microderm abrasion. Sparks flying and her screaming over the handheld metal grinder, "Pores, who needs stinkin’ pores?!" Then after that, some hot towels to open the pores to slather over my face like cream cheese on a bagel, an ever-so-thin coat of very nice smelling wall spackle with a refreshing alcohol base to make you “feel the burn!” After all this work you can only imagine that my face is taut, expressionless and a beautiful pasty white…not to mention my new and improved, beautiful "Joan Crawford" eyebrows....not! (Although, I don’t remember seeing any wire hangers on the coat rack)

But truthfully, the whole experience was so relaxing and felt so great that I'm looking forward to doing it all again next month. I never understood my sister talking about getting the facial and pedicure till I did it for myself. Furthermore, I went back on Friday to have the hair cut too. Laurie did a great job on my hair. I think it helped too that I liked the way she cut her previous customer and so I was able to point and grunt that I liked what she did with the last one! Boy, I'm really sounding like I looked like that Geico Caveman, aren't I?

My barber in town here in Sycamore must have drank his lunch last week when he cut my hair, because I looked like an experiment…everyone was just too polite to say anything. Anyway, the other problem I've had with barbers back home is that they're too afraid to use a #2 blade and cut the sides shorter like the Pakistani's back at the barber shop at Victory. So I finally feel human again with this new haircut.

Friday morning I met with the electrician about a quote to put up the new lighting and to add some circuits in the basement. Keep tripping breakers because we have too many gadgets sucking juice off one circuit.

Then off to a great lunch with my friend Cheryl who I used to work with at Lucent and another friend Renee. Renee is a friend of Cheryl's that I got to know since she was already in the NIU MBA program when I was registering for it. She was the one I turned to for questions about the MBA program and we overlapped a year in school.

The three of us had a great lunch at this little Thai place on Randall Road in South Elgin where we were just getting caught up. When we first ordered, the English-speaking woman wasn't in so it was an interesting ordeal ordering lunch and iced tea! The tea was very interesting. It was like a green tea served with cream on the top and to our surprise tasted pretty good. When the bill came, the English-speaking one was there, so we were able to read the bill. Unfortunately, I missed out on my fortune because I ate it! The fortune cookies they served were rolled up and I didn’t look to see the scroll was rolled up in the center. Duh!

One week in the life of the gimp! I know it sounds hectic, but in all seriousness, I’m about ready to come back to work. I'm needing to feel like I'm doing something worthwhile. I only feel right now like I'm keeping a full schedule to occupy my time and nothing more. I know that I’m making progress but not as fast as I want. Oh well, more next week.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

“Fill Me In!”

18 March 2007

Sorry for the very long hiatus. I received an email from a friend of mine that was titled “Fill Me In!” and that reminded me that I hadn’t written any updates on my situation back home in quite some time. So to make my job easier, I’m going to cut and paste parts of emails that I’ve sent out recently to others to catch you up or “fill you in.”

27 February 2007

Well, when I got this email last night, I was feeling pretty good. However, I just got the mail today and there is a bill for $7500 for a bicep reattachment that should have been taken care of by Workman's Comp! I'll get it straightened away. Left messages for the doc's office and for workman's comp too.

I finally got the alc test back about the blood sugar...negative/no pre-diabetes. Yes, it is a relief about the diabetes thing.

I was able to take a shower today and take off the bandage they had over the cut in my back where the herniated disk was removed. It is held together now with surgi-strips...they didn't even stitch it! So far, so good. No problems at all. A bit of soreness around the muscles that were cut to get to the disk, but that is healing well. My major fear has been overdoing things. I am not going to herniate this disk again! So naturally, I'm bored because I AM taking it easy like the doc told me to.

I've been a good boy and haven't done any weight lifting or extreme bending/stretching, blah, blah, blah. I start physical therapy for the bicep on Thursday and have my post op meeting with the back doc on Friday. So for the next 6-8 weeks, that will be my life. I guess that now I'm in a pattern of recovery.

The arm is causing me more pain right now, but I start phys therapy this week...finally. Still have pain in the wrist and at the back of the upper forearm. I'm sure these are the areas that the phys therapist will be working on to strengthen. I'm driving to the doc tomorrow for that and then on Friday to the post op for the back. I will be 7 days out tomorrow, so I'm good to go.

As you can see, things are finally feeling like they're going well and the time home has been going by fast. I felt so ancient last week and like I was falling apart and this week I am ready to go and conquer the world...slowly. Now I'm just bored. I catagorized and cataloged all my pogs, so now what should I do?

05 March 2007

Had my first meeting with the physical therapist last Thursday. I have my sched for the next four weeks of pt for the bicep. He commented that I'm doing well with my progress, mobility and range of motion so far. Still have some pain in the wrist and in the upper forearm, but as I do more of the stretching exercises for the elbow, arm and wrist, things seem to hurt less.

Most of the exercises are more isometric in nature and then I have to rub cream into the scar to help soften the scar tissue and to help make the scar less stiff. The scar under the forearm is barely noticable, but the one in the crotch of the arm is a bit ugly looking. Only time and my masochistic physical therapist rubbing and pinching the scar tissue between his thumbs will soften that one out.

Was supposed to have met with my back doc for the post-op on Friday, but we had another snowstorm here. Didn't have but an inch of snow, but with 40 mph winds blowing out here, there were periods of white-out conditions during the day on the toll way between Sycamore and Aurora. Phil called me twice from work to convince me to cancel and change the appointment, so I did.

I had my meeting with Dr. McGivney today and he was very pleased with the progress I'm making. He and Wayne his nurse reminded me to still not do any serious bending, lifting, stretching and nothing over 10 lbs because the scar tissue has not formed yet where they removed the disk material and it could still blow out again if I'm not careful.

I reminded my back doc that I still am on lifting restrictions from the bicep, so maybe that is my blessing in disguise if that is possible in this kind of situation. The doc did comment once more about how badly ruptured my disk was. He said that the way it ruptured and migrated down, it had also calcified and was pushing up against the sciatic nerve so closely that I shouldn't have been able to walk without pain. I told him that I like leather and just know how to take it like a man...just kidding! :)

Now that I've got a sched and phys therapy started, I feel like I have something to do during the week. Felt like a potted plant, sitting around here all day long! I need to run again! I miss sorting through things in my head on a good 4 or 6 miler.

11 March 2007

I'm actually hoping that my physical therapy for the back isn't going to be 8 weeks, but it is starting to look like it. That puts me out to mid May before I'm back in Baghdad. We will see. At least the bicep phys therapy is going well. Both the doc and the therapist are very happy with my flexibility and my range of motion, but still no strength training for the wrist, forearm and bicep till after April 3rd. The outer cut is healed, but the inner tendons and all aren’t healed enough to stand the stress of any strength building.

I'm "working" in the basement right now putting away Christmas ornaments so at least I've found something to keep me busy. Drop a line and let me know if the coffee at the Green Bean is still as bad as I remember it to be!

16 March 2007

I wasn't ignoring you, just lazy on answering email lately.

I'm sure you're looking forward to your cruise and vacation. The weather in Chicago is anything but lately. We had a day on Monday that broke the records of 74 and then right back down to 41! Not exactly a pleasure cruise.

Physical therapy is going well. The doc and the therapist say that my outer wound is healing good, but we still aren't able to start strength training on the forearm, wrist and bicep till the end of March/beginning of April. With the phys therapy on the back and arm ongoing, I'll be shocked if I get release for 01May. I am pushing for 15May at the latest. Believe me, my bank account wants me to be back there working too!

Not to worry though, I will keep you notified as soon as I have any word from them. Otherwise, I'm just healing here, and bored silly.

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