Saturday, October 29, 2011

Falling Leaves

The kitchen table of my home provides an excellent view towards that southwest.  Throughout the summer not much can be seen of this view as it is entirely hidden by the leaves of several tall cottonwood trees that monopolize the sky.  As summer turns to fall and the temperatures drop and the days grow longer, this impenetrable wall of green begins a slow but steady fade to yellow.  Once the first snowstorm of the season arrives the leaves begin to shed from the trees like dust in the wind.  With each gust of wind, more and more leaves tumble from the branches and fall softly and slowly to the ground. 

I have sat here at computer for much of the afternoon watching the leaves fall.  The weather has turned gray, overcast, chilly and windswept.  The combination of the clouds, wind and falling leaves have made for a beautiful display of nature's grandeur.  Even in my yard and the yards of my neighbors it is wonderful to see the natural processes at work and to know that no matter how urbanized or sub urbanized a piece of land becomes, nature can still play a part in creating a daily show of beauty and wonder!

The beauty of the falling leaves brings back many memories of childhood in Western Pennsylvania.  Memories of romps through the forest with it's leaf covered floor.  Memories of assembling giant piles of leaves in the gutter of our road and then running full-force and jumping into them.  Even the memories from when I was a teenager and I used to make a good portion of my spending money in the fall by raking and burning the leaves of my elderly neighbors.  All these are wonderful memories that bring warmth to my heart and remind me of carefree days filled with fun and joy.

In many ways I wish Zack could experience some of those activities and make some of those memories.  But in the world in which we live today those kinds of things don't happen in the suburbs too much.  At least I can write a little bit about it and then explain to Zack how I lived as a kid. 

Tonight will be a big night of Halloween parties and craziness.  I hope everyone has a good time but remains safe and happy!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Boring Weekend

Boredom.  Boredom and more boredom.  Today is the 11th day in which I have been confined to not using my left leg.  At times it seems almost inconsequential, but losing the use of your left leg really sucks.  Because once you lose the use of one leg, you really can't do much with the other leg.  Yeah - you can use crutches, but crutches seem even worse than just sitting around.

As each day of "sitting" continues the level of boredom in my head grows all the larger.  You never realize how dependent you are upon movement to keep your brain happy and content - well - happy and content and not involving lots of drugs or alcohol anyway.

These last 2 days have been especially boring as it has just been me, Nancy and the pups.  I gave Zack permission to go to Arizona with Shelly.  I don't like Zack going without me, but given me being laid up I really couldn't go.  And despite whatever goes on between Shelly and me, she does love him and will always take care of him.  He will get to spend almost all day tomorrow (Saturday) at an event for the Arizona Basset Hound rescue.  Zack will be surrounded by dogs all day so you can darn well be certain he will be happy as a clam.

It is better that he went to Arizona as I am sure I won't have gotten up to anything exciting with him and he would be bored crapless and just wanting to play video games all day - which would have driven me bananas.

While I sit here at home I continue to think of all the things that I am going to get about doing once I am able to walk again.  My surgery coincided very well with a lot of the work that I have been doing here in the house.  Over the last 2 months things have started to reach completion in regard to many of the cleaning and de-cluttering activities that I have had going on.  With those activities completed, I am starting to get some great ideas for what I would like to use some of the space.  Granted most of these ideas involve restarting hobbies or activities that were abandoned when Patty became sick.  But some of the uses will be totally new territory.

The primary use of the majority of the basement is going to be for a home TV theater.  I am now just saving up the money to buy one of those huge, huge massive 70 inch wide screen LCD TVs.  It will make for a great movie theater experience.

The former craft room is going to be turned into a hobby room for Zack and I to create gigantic "guy" playthings.  (OK - that might sounds a bit weird).  What I mean by that is we are going to get into building model airplanes, rockets and railroads.  The will be models but boy will they be fast.  I can't wait til spring of 2012 comes and we can take our first finished RC (Remote Controlled) model airplane out to the Cherry Creek model airplane field and take it for a flight.  We are going to put the most powerful engine in whatever we build, so it can fly faster, climber higher and stay in the air longer.

One of my new little hobbies that I am getting into already while I am laid up is that I have decided to launch my own website about Colorado.  As most of you who read this blog know, when I am not laid up with a stress fractured leg, I am a rabid hiker.  But there are so many sites out there already about hiking to the tops of mountains, doing loop hikes, hikes in specific areas of the state, etc.  My goal was to find a new angle to write about hiking in Colorado and I think I have found it.  Instead of the normal hike descriptions, I am going to write about the high Mountain Passes of Colorado and the hikes that can be found around those passes.  Yesterday I purchased the domain name for  I have started to write the content of the site already but I need to learn a little bit about coding in HTML.  I know some of the basics but beyond that I don't know much.  From what I have read Dreamweaver by Abode is one of the better software packages to use for website development.  I downloaded a free trial of that software earlier this week and I am starting to learn how to use it.  With any luck I will unveil the first iteration of my Colorado Mountain Passes website by the end of the calendar year.  That is my goal anyway.

Below are a couple of pictures I took this summer while Zack and I were crossing a few mountain passes.  All of these we reached by car since I wasn't able to hike all summer long!  I am complaining about being laid up with my leg while it heals, but I am so, so excited to start getting out for hikes in December!  I am hoping that Zack and I will be able to climb to the summit of some passes on our snow shoes this winter.  How exciting will that be?!

I started writing this on Friday evening but then got caught up watching TV.  Yeah - I am bored as I said.  So I am just getting it posted on Saturday morning.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend so far!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nancy Grace certain seems to be a very nasty person...

This evening my television remote control guided me to what was once one of my favorite television channels - HLN - formerly CNN Headline News.  The remote happened to land me on this channel during the showing of it's blockbuster show - Nancy Grace.

I was appalled by what I saw!  Rarely have a seen a TV personality (expect for some of the idiots on Fox) who displayed such utter nastiness and cruelty.  Her episode tonight was all about the "Baby Lisa" case that has created such large amounts of media attention.  I have not really followed this story at all, but from what little I have read there doesn't seem to be any clear indication of who is behind this baby's disappearance.  Yes - it is quite possible that the parents did it or know more than what they are saying.  But it sounds equally likely that the lone man walking through the neighborhood after midnight carrying a baby with only a diaper on could have done it too.

My problem with Nancy Grace comes from how she "reports" stories.  At no point does there seem to be any kind of impartial discussion of what is talking place.  Everything that is presented by Nancy and most of her talking head goons is all opinion of why the parents (particularly the mother) had to have done it.  The parents are assailed from all sides - from the fact that it looks like the mom has a better hair style today than the day before (it looked the same to me), to the fact that they won't talk to the media, to the fact that the mom used the word "grieving" to describe her feelings.  Good god!  These people are being judged by these talking heads even before the police had determined whether or not foul play is involved.

Is Nancy Grace personally as nasty as she comes off to be in her discussions of this family that are in the midst of a great tragedy?  Or does she do this just to sell her show?  For 2 or 3 years we had to hear Nancy and her cohort of "tragedy journalists/showmen" talk about how Casey Anthony killed her daughter.  Yet when the justice system of OUR COUNTRY spoke, a jury of Casey's peers found her not guilty.  (Reminder: That doesn't mean she didn't do it, it just means there wasn't enough evidence to prove that she did.)  So what was the purpose of 2 - 3 years of Nancy and all these other breathless journalists telling us without a question of a doubt that Casey did it?  Guess what - they were all wrong, at least according to the way our justice system works in this country.  I guess all those hack journalists did for one reason - money!

My point in writing this isn't to defend a person like Casey Anthony as she isn't worth defending.  My point in writing this is really to reflect where we as a country are going.  Let's forget about all the economic troubles.  Let's forget about the waxing influence of our country throughout the world.  Let's forget about generations of our children who are not getting educated because our schools are out of money - just forget about all that stuff.  Then ask yourself, what is truly important to the people of our country?  Are personal interest/personal tragedy stories like Baby Lisa more important than all the huge problems we face?  To me it seems like we are in the late days of the Roman Empire and since we don't have gladiators and fights to the death to amuse us we need to focus on tragedies and horrible things like Baby Lisa and Casey Anthony.

Wake up folks - the sand is draining through the hour glass.  We need to pay attention to the real stuff and stop worrying about shit like this before it is too late and we as a nation are in the crapper!

I'm just saying.....

On a personal note - the cast came off my left leg yesterday.  My doc put me in one of those very hardcore "boots" to prevent me from using my left leg.  She estimates that I have another 2.5 weeks before I can start putting any weight on that leg, but I am supposed to get started with physical therapy as soon as possible.  I wish I could post the X-rays that they took as they were killer. There is might mighty big steel plate and 6 screws in my fibula.  It's definitely gonna keep my fibula from breaking there again!

Nancy - Patty's Mom (not Nancy Grace :-)   )  is going to be moving into assisted living within the next week.  My surgery put that a little bit behind as I haven't been able to help her move.  Next week we will get all the final stuff moved and she should begin living at Cranbrook Senior Living in Greenwood Village the week of or the week after Halloween.  That certainly will be a very big change for all of us, but Nancy really needs some more day-to-day help that I can't always provide.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Recovery from Surgery = Too Much Time on My Hands

Last Monday - October 17th I had surgery to repair the stress fracture in my left fibula that occurred while running the Canyonlands Half Marathon back in March.  Since the injury occurred I had been seeing a doctor who is part of a very large, well known orthopedic practice.  My injury presented itself as something small and insignificant to this doctor who I am sure sees many complex orthopedic problems.  It was very easy to follow his chosen path and just wait for the injury to heal on its own.  After 6 months of just taking it easy and still not seeing the injury heal, I felt it behooved me to get a second opinion.

The doctor chosen for the second opinion is not part of a huge practice.  She seems to concentrate on a small number of cases but spends a large amount of time working on each one.  Her opinion after looking at the X-rays I bought for her to see was that to heal my leg needed a lot more stability.  The only way the leg was going to get that stability was through surgery and the insertion of a metal plate.  The doctor's opinion was confirmed when she ordered a CT scan of my leg and saw further details that indicated to her the fracture would never heal without surgery.

At 2:00PM on the 17th I walked into Swedish hospital to check in for surgery.  The procedure was scheduled to start at 4:00PM and paperwork, check-in and surgical  prep were supposed to take 2 hours.  The paper work and check in flew by and took about 30 minutes to complete.  By 2:45PM I was in the pre-op area waiting to have a nerve block administered and then head back into the operating theater.  My anaesthesiologist showed up at 3:30PM and talked to me about all the fun things he was going to do to get me ready for surgery.  The first thing to be done was to put a nerve block in place on the nerve that controlled the feeling and movement in my lower left leg.  He did this through the use of an ultrasound to find the right spot to insert his needle and put lots of nerve numbing medication directly into the nerve.  In the long run this procedure was being done to reduce my overall pain levels but in doing it, there would definitely be pain associated with it.  To help with the pain of this procedure the anaesthesiologist hit me with 2 mg of Fentanyl.  That sent me sliding down the road to pain free oblivion.  Which was good as the administration of the nerve block was the most painful thing I felt all day!  All-in-all things were getting off to a good start.

The good start only lasted a little while as very quickly things began to fall behind schedule.  The operating theater was originally scheduled for my procedure at 4:00PM.  That time came and went.  And so I waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally things began to get moving around 7:00PM.  The original anaesthesiologist was long gone by that point so my case rolled over to another anaesthesiologist who also had to leave for another patient's procedure so I was handed off to yet a third!

Around 7:10PM my doctor came out and talked to me about why she was so delayed and gave us (Shelly was there with me) to ask questions.  We didn't have too many questions and I quickly signed the consent and then was wheeled back into the OR.  While on the way to the OR I was accompanied by the anaesthesiologist who gave me a dose of Versed.  By the time we got to the OR and I moved myself onto the OR table, my memory of things was beginning to slip.  The last thing I remember before heading off into utter lalaland was adjusting myself on the table.  The next thing I remember was being in the recovery room having a nurse hand me an apple juice to drink.  By this time it was 11:30PM.  My left lower leg was wrapped in a very large bandage and I really couldn't even feel my lower leg at all.

The next hour was spent just making sure I was OK and having the nurses fill us into what we needed to do to care for my wound.  We were to leave the "soft cast" and splint on until I saw the doctor in a week or so for my post surgery followup.  I took a ton of prescriptions for lots and lots of good pain relievers as my doctor speculated that I was going to be in a lot of pain because of how much work she had to do to my bone.  (The surgery had gone much longer than planned because when she got in there she found that my bone was totally and complete messed up.  The gap between the 2 segments was so large she had to take a section of bone from my tibia right below my knee cap.)

Shelly managed to get me home around 1:00AM and then she headed to a 24 hour Walgreens to pick up my medications.  As soon as she returned with them I took my 2 oxycodone pills and fell quickly asleep.  Not knowing how bad or not the pain was going to be I continued to take the pain pills right at the times indicated on the prescriptions.  This kept me pretty much totally and completely out of it all day Tuesday through Wednesday morning.  However I woke up on Wednesday morning with a very high fever - over 102 degrees so I decided I needed to call the doctor.  My fear with a fever was that I had a significant infection by my doctor re-assured me that an infection won't have sprung up that quickly and my fever was likely caused by taking the painkillers and as a result not breathing deeply enough - which caused the fever.  There is a specific name for this condition by with my brain in the state it was in, I simply do not remember.

That quickly made me stop taking the pain killers and within 2 - 3 hours my fever was pretty much gone and I was feeling much better.  The pain in my leg never materialized so since then I have stopped taking the pain killers.

For the last week I have pretty laid around all the time because I have to keep all weight off my left leg.  Yes - I can get around by crutches and I have used them to get around and even go out to the store, but in general it is easier to stay in one place and keep my left leg elevated.  I quickly became bored with TV and have read enough for a while.  So I have spent a ton of time sitting/reclining thinking about all the things I want to do now that my leg is finally starting to heal.  There are so many hikes and outdoorsy things I want to get up to.  Additionally, I have been thinking about restarting a lot of hobbies that I really haven't done in years and years.  The only hobbies I have really concentrated upon have been my stamp collecting and my photography.  For whatever reason my brain is just so full of things I want to do, experience and see.  I am sure I will be writing about a lot of this stuff in much great detail in the weeks and months to come.

Tomorrow is my first post-surgical check-up with my doctor.  I am hoping to get out of the splint and soft cast and maybe moving into a "boot".  I will just be so glad when I can start moving around as normal again.

I hope everyone is having a great week so far.  I hope too that those of you who are my readers from Colorado survive our first big snow storm of the season.  We are supposed to get over 8 inches of snow here in the Denver metro area!  Yikes!!

Til the next time - thanks and peace to all!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Photos of Fall

Wow!  It has been a long time since I have updated the blog.  There is no particular reason as to why I have been so tardy with my updates.  Life has been very busy!  It seems like most evenings are occupied with the day-to-day details of life or just trying to spend some time relaxing.

Over the last several weeks we have managed to get into the mountains to view the changing leaves and the beauty of the mountains before they become fully cloaked in snow.  Here are a few of my shots we took that merit some mention.

There are numerous other subjects upon which I wish to write in the coming days and weeks.  There is definitely a time coming in the near future in which I will have time to catch up on my blogging.  Being able to write and tell stories and record what happens in life is quite important to me and I really hope to get back to my daily blogging.  I appreciate all the feedback the blog has received from my last several posts.  For everyone who takes the time to read this blog and send me a message or leave me a comment all I can say is "THANK YOU".

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.