Thursday, January 7, 2021

Holiday Wrapup

 This Christmas was totally 2020. The kids had a good time, all of our travel was gone, none of the big family celebrations happened. I did make it down to Greenville for one day just to spend a few hours with my parents - it was the first time I'd seen them since last Christmas. We got our tree on a day trip to Boone, it was really pretty. 

too cute not to share, but this was not how our holiday went down

The farm where we got our tree

ready for some presents

We had a fun time in Boone on a day trip

We all had on our App State sweatshirts

The reason we've been making so many day trips to Boone recently - we bought some land up there! 1.09 acres of raw dirt is now ours, paid for in cash. We closed on the 21st, and Lena and I made a trip up there just before that to check out our dirt, thinking we had clear traveling from the snow. Instead, we got this:

That's our dirt!

It was cold. She didn't think she needed a jacket when we left the house.

Cool tree on the next lot

For actual Christmas it was very different, the first Christmas day ever we didn't have to travel. We did get to pull together an outside, social distanced gathering with Kelley's sister and father. 

We had a nice setup for some outdoor Christmas

It was cold, but that blanket is fire

Taking a selfie

Telling the kids I was just taking a selfie

Then the Sunday after Christmas, I went down by myself to visit my parents. It was the first time I had seen them in person since last Christmas, which was strange and incredibly difficult. We stayed outside, but still got to have some semblance of a normal holiday gathering. 

My dad and his 3 sons

My sweet nephew Archie

and that was our holiday!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Recent picture update

 Just so you know we still exist, here's some proof of life (if you can call it life in the middle of a pandemic and election season). We're all doing pretty good. I'm 6 weeks post back surgery, so I can finally lift more than 10 lbs again. Kids are finishing their first quarter of the school year in the virtual academy, looks like the entire 8th and 10th grades are going to be online. Kelley is kicking ass and taking names, as usual.

Kelley putting in the last of the landscape lighting

The finished product of which is a well lit front yard

She added the lights on the right side of the steps to finish it off

The volume of meds that I have to take while my back was out and for the arthritis

Evangeline the cat is quite comfortable on the new bean bag body pillow

I got a new laz-y-boy recliner, super excited about that

Graduation day picture from my last day of grad school

Found one of these mugs from a business I used to own back in SC

Bunk beds with a climbing wall, slide, and drawers I built and sold

All of us at the state fair - it was only food this year

This was my first hanging couch, installed for a customer. Turned out really cool

Carving pumpkins for Halloween

Monday, October 5, 2020

Well Recovery

 I had the back surgery 3 weeks ago, a microdiscectomy to remove a chunk of disc between the L5/S1 vertebrae. As predicted, as soon as that chunk of disc was removed the pressure came off of that nerve and the pain went away! This is very good! I still have a noticeable muscle atrophy in my left calf, and I can't bend over or lift more than 10 lbs, so this is still a bit frustrating. 

The good news is that I finally finished grad school! Actually the last day of class is Oct 11 and they will mail me the diploma in December, but I finished all of the coursework. My shiny new degree is an MBA in Finance and I'm graduating cum laude (I finished undergrad thankya laude)

So now I feel good and have lots more free time but still can't do anything. It is what it is, I guess!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

I'm Done, Time for you to have fun

 Everyone is going to claim that 2020 has been a total dumpster fire, but I really didn't expect this. I have to hang up my running shoes for good this time. I had a pretty good spring, no races or any structured training, but I got some miles in. I also poured a concrete sidewalk, tons of other landscaping around the new front porch, sold a bunch of woodworking projects, it was a blast. 

Happily running downtown


Memorial day weekend I poured some concrete, then got the tiller out to grade and de-weed the entire front yard. Spread some grass seed and cover it with straw, building the lawn I always wanted. In the process, I herniated my L5/S1 disc, pinching off a chunk of the disc that then lodged into the left sciatic nerve cavity causing excruciating pain shooting down my left leg. It rendered me unable to sit upright, but I could still stand for about 15 minutes and lay down prone. 

Treatment started at the chiropractor. He said if it didn't help, I should see the family doc for a dosepack of prednisone, and if that didn't help to see an orthopedist. Chiro didn't help, prednisone didn't help, ortho ordered an MRI that found the actual problem.

MRI printouts

The MRI showed the pinched disc, and where the chunk was hitting the nerve. That's what the pencils are pointing at. Ortho gave me some diclofenac and a serious anti-inflammatory to help control the nerve damage and pain. Then I started getting acupuncture as well, and that really did clear up the symptoms.

Really, that all took about 5 weeks before I got any relief. Acupuncture and the nerve drug had cleared up all of the symptoms. So most of June and July I was down. The reference material all says that if the nerve damage takes longer than about 2 weeks to clear up the effects could be permanent. 

Nerve damage doesn't heal very fast, even after the pain goes away. Damaged nerves don't send the appropriate signals to muscles when you want to train or perform basic tasks. There is already a visible muscle atrophy, my left calf is significantly, noticably, smaller than my right. The muscle definition isn't there, and my left leg won't perform the way it used to, even if there is no pain.

My hatred of summer is well documented, I have a very low tolerance for heat. I always thought this was all in my head, everyone felt as bad about the heat as I did. Well turns out that's not true either. My acupuncturist has some herbs that are supposed to cool me down! This sounded great. The second day I was on the herbs, I walked outside with Kelley. She said it felt exactly the same as the day before, I thought it felt 20* cooler! This was amazing. Unfortunately, that was the only day I actually felt any different. Stayed on the herbs for a few more weeks but still had my SAD kick in hard with the heat, it was just a brutal summer. And this:

Ladies glisten. Ella doesn't even have her hair pulled back! They barely broke a sweat. We walked about 30 minutes and I sweat through my shirt so hard I had to take a shower when we got back home. They were not affected like I was. Incredible. What a tough summer.

Then the bottom fell out 3 weeks ago. I was feeling great, went back to the ortho for the final follow up, told him I felt 95% better and got the all clear from him to resume normal activities but no running. That was on a Tuesday. The following Saturday I cut the grass and spread some mulch, and that night the nerve problem came roaring back in a way that I couldn't fathom. 

I've never felt pain like that before. I couldn't really lay down prone in a comfortable way, but it was the most tolerable. I couldn't stand long enough to do anything. I could only walk about 10 steps. I was on the couch for a long time. It was so bad, I could usually walk the 10 steps from the couch to the bathroom, but couldn't stand up long enough to pee and couldn't always walk back. My left leg just wouldn't support my body weight, the muscle just wouldn't respond. 

This lasted for 10 days. First I went to the urgent care at the ortho, they called in some Oxycodone and got me another appointment with the same ortho that just gave the all clear a week before. He ordered another MRI that I had the following Saturday. The Wednesday after that I started to feel some relief, but didn't believe it. Friday I got the call to schedule this surgery. So this upcoming Friday September 11th I'm going under the knife to get this chunk of disc removed. 

So at this point I had 5 weeks of pain, 3 weeks of getting better, then 3 more weeks of absolutely unbearable pain that even oxy couldn't help. I was only sleeping 1-2 hours a night on the couch, working from the couch in between forced sleep from the oxy, and doing grad school from the couch. Stumble from the couch to the bathroom, cry on the bathroom floor after attempting to walk back. 

After the surgery the pain should be gone, but the nerve damage is likely permanent. Running marathons on a weak left leg is just not possible. So I'm done. I have to be done. Maybe next year I'll be able to walk a few miles, but marathons are just not going to happen and that's what I really enjoy. Need to come up with a new 50 state challenge too. 

2020 sucks. Here's some other pictures of the family, just to end on a high note. I turned 45 back in July, the kids both leveled up again (they are loving the online school this year, 8th and 10th grade), so enjoy

Father's day 2020

My absurdly hot saint of a wife

I did get outside a little bit to work some

Happy I finished my Real Estate class

First day of 8th and 10th grade