Friday, December 23, 2011


De - ter - mi - na - tion: (noun) - the act of coming to a decision or of fixing or settling a purpose.

Life is a quirky thing.  Settling on a purpose can help and make it less quirky and  a little more certain.  Since Wednesday evening I have settled upon several purposes that I really didn't think I was going to settle upon.  The first purpose I settled upon came on Wednesday evening when I was volunteering at hospice.  I was helping a patient who is in hospice because they are dying of pancreatic cancer.  This type of cancer devastated a whole generation of my family on my mother's side.  Standing there helping this individual and seeing them fight through the pain allowed my mind to come to a realization.  It was sudden and dramatic as I wasn't evening thinking about this subject and then the realization came to me like a leaden brick falling upon a piece of fine china.  I made a determination that I can't give up.  There is only one life we get the chance to live and one day given my family history I might end like this individual.  What was so impressive about this person was their dedication and determination to be upbeat, positive and to enjoy the Christmas season.  When I left this person's presence I felt like my spirit had been lifted up and enlightened.  I only hope in my dying days I can exhibit the positive energy that this person exuded.

As I stood there helping this person the determination hit me like a jolt of electricity.  I knew right then and there what direction I needed to take.  The determination I found was focused on my future path, on the places that I need to go and the thing that I need to do.  It was a wonderful feeling to understand with the clarity that I did what the future entails. 

Yesterday I made another key determination which will have a much quicker impact upon me.  Thursday was physically a very tough day for me as I had to deal with all the snow and an extensive amount of physical activity.  My back was in agony as a result of it all.  As I walked up an escalator yesterday afternoon I was struck with another bolt of certainty.  The determination at that time is I will have surgery on my back to repair the herniated disc as soon as is possible.

I met with a pain management doctor on Wednesday and we talked through the situation with my injured back.  He confirmed to me that I was doing everything humanly possible to correct the situation.  The physical therapy I was undergoing, the cortisone shots I received and the avoidance of massive amounts of narcotics to kill the pain were all the things that I currently could do to help the situation.  The doctor indicated that there were currently 2 more "bullets" that we could use to help the situation in terms of the cortisone shots.  That is - I can have 2 more rounds of these shots to help the situation.  However there are some not so pleasant side effects to these shots and though the cortisone initially helped, it's success has already worn off.  Therefore it came to me like a shot out of a gun that I must have the surgery to repair the disc because the likelihood of the cortisone solving the problem completely is extremely small.

To this end I will have another round of cortisone injections before I leave on my trip to India.  The injection appointment is already scheduled for Jan 3 at 11:30AM.  Between the cortisone injection and the pain killers they will prescribe for me, I should be able to make it through my 8 day trip to India the second week of January.  Once I return from that trip, despite the risk I am going to move forward with the surgery as soon as possible.  This is the only way to really have some assurance that I am going to get rid of the pain once and for all - so it is a chance I need to take.

(A German Christmas Tree)

(A winter scene from 19th Century Canada.)

Having an elective surgery is not really what I want to do, but it really doesn't feel like it is that much of an elective.  The plans I have for this upcoming New Years day are in jeopardy and pretty much are guaranteed not to happen because of my back.  (The plan is to get out and take a nice long hike with Zack.)  It is too painful to walk more than several hundred yards at a crack.  So taking on a 5 mile hike to the top of Blue Spruce Mesa outside of Larkspur, Colorado isn't too likely to happen.

My mind is made up and my determination is strong, I will move a head with surgery on my backbone to remove the disc that has herniated. 

Tomorrow is Christmas eve!  Hopefully all of you have finished your Christmas shopping.  There are a few things I need to get taken care of tomorrow, but otherwise everything is wrapped up.  I need to swing by one store to get a gift for my sister Stephanie and her husband Paul.  I know what I am getting them, I just need to do it.  I also must go to a Fedex/Kinko's to get passport photos taken and put my visa application into Fedex.

It is wonderful to have this time now to stop and get away from work and pressure and reflect upon life.  There are lots of ideas floating through my mind for what I want to write tomorrow.  Please be sure to check back in some time late in the day on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day.

For tonight - good night!  I hope you all rest well and have wonderful plans for time to spend with your family and friends tomorrow and Christmas Day!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jerry, I have suffered herniated discs with sciatic pain twice. Nerve pain is just maddening; often, it is a hard pain for others to understand. I tried therapy the first round until the pain became so severe I couldn't walk. When I lost nerve function in some of my toes, I had surgery at Rose. My neurosurgeon was Dr. Shogan(sic?). Recovery was long and tough; don't push yourself too fast. But the sciatic pain and nerve function resolved immediately. Six years later I was on a trip and carried heavy luggage up and down stairs. I knew right away I had herniated a disc again. This time I got 'drop foot'; loss of nerve function so I couldn't move my right foot at all. Back to,Rose and Dr. Shogan. I took rehab seriously this time, and am stronger and wiser about what I carry! I highly recommend Dr Shogan. Happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year from sunny San Diego! Emily Ratcliff