Thursday, December 29, 2011

Living With Pain

It is somewhat early on the Thursday between Christmas and New Years and I have been awake for a long time.  My wakefulness has been caused by extreme physical pain.  So I sit here at the kitchen table watching the sun come up with a cheery fire burning in the fire place.

The physical pain that I am experiencing is all due to the herniated disc in my back.  The pain starts in the small of my back, runs into my left hip and then the whole way down my leg to the surgical site where I had the plate implanted to fix my fractured fibula.  The worst pain comes at night when I am sleeping.  Just the act of lying down to sleep is quite painful.  If I flip over and move it gets even worse.  The pain is mind numbing.  It is a constant throbbing on my left side from the small of my back to my foot.  When I move in specific directions I experience shooting pains that on the scale of 1 to 10 are at the level of an 8 or 9.  I think I have proven that I have a high pain tolerance level by the fact that when my fibula fractured I was able to run for two miles before I had to stop.

Relief to this pain comes in 3 ways.  The first way seems to be the best but it is now almost impossible to act upon that way.  This way is taking powerful opiate drugs like oxycodone.  When I had my surgery back in October my surgeon prescribe to me what I thought was a ton of these drugs to me.  I have almost run out of them and my pain management doctor is not in the office until Friday so it seems unlikely I will get more of these until sometime next week.  The second way is the surgical option when I have several grams of steroids injected into my back.  This works to keep the pain at bay for about 7 days.  Unfortunately I can only have this done 3 times a year and I will be having my second injection on Tuesday January 4th.  There is also a big down side to this option.  The side effects of having several grams of steroids injected into your body can be severe.  For me they cause to feel hyperactive and then to have massive night sweats that are very horrible.  The last method is the least preferred in my book but it is what I am left with for now.  This method involves taking a massive dose of Advil in combination with a very large dose of the nerve blocker Gabapentin and then following the pills with several drinks of alcohol.  This is definitely not the best way to relieve the pain but the fact is it gives me 3 - 4 hours of pain free existence.  I reserve this pain killer for after 5PM, so I spend a good part of the day in some pretty significant pain.  But if I time this third method of killing the pain right, I can actually get some good sleep from about 11PM to 4AM, when the pain in my back wakes me.

The really bad thing about this persistent pain is that it really wears on my mental and emotional state.  I typically feel that I am an upbeat person, but the constant pain is making me look at the world through a different set of lens.  It is making me downbeat, cranky and in general not very happy.  Normally I would be looking at some of the things in the near future with a lot of anticipation and happiness but I am unfortunately looking at them with trepidation and distaste.  My mood and the way I fight the pain in the evening, has made it so that I want to spend my time in lethargic, sedentary activities.  I hate this!!!  The things that I love to do are just impossible dreams at this point.  I haven't managed to go for hike in almost 10 months.  I can't stand this.  I haven't been to the gym in 4 months!  Argh!  It is so frustrating!

 (A picture from back before the fractured fibula and the back pain.  Z and I on top of Mount Spauling - circa June of 2009.)

The only good thing I can say is that despite my lack of activity I have lost a lot of weight.  The day I had my surgery in October I weighed 174 pounds.  When I stepped on the scale yesterday morning my weight was down to 162.  My weight loss is occurring because I haven't been eating much.  My dream is that after I finally have my back surgery in late January, I will continue the weight loss.  My end run goal is to reach a maintainable weight of 145 pounds.  At that weight I will look a little gaunt but if I follow up the weight loss with a lot of cardio conditioning and weight lifting, I will achieve a physical look that I greatly desire.  Also if I reach this weight I believe I will rid myself of my high blood pressure - but that is probably a dream as the high blood pressure seems to be genetically acquired.  The weight of 145 is where I should be for my height according to the BMI scale.  Don't worry that I would be making myself unhealthy by reaching this weight.  I would instead be reaching the weight that according to the experts I should be.

Besides the physical pain I am still dealing with a lot of emotional and mental pain.  The emotional and mental pain comes from the end of my relationship with Shelly.  (Yes - I am going back to that subject again!)  The relationship ended on November 7th under some pretty severe terms.  I don't want to go into what those terms were as it was very bad and traumatic.

Regardless of this I still love Shelly deeply and find myself still desiring and needing her very much.  Due to these feelings I really find it difficult to move on.  Since the relationship with Shelly ended, I have done some dating.  Actually I have gone on 3 dates with the same woman.  This woman is the picture of everything that you would want in a relationship.  She is attractive, she is wildly successful in her field, she is extremely well known in her community and is a civic leader, she has a positive outlook on life and when we are together our conversations are great - we talk about everything from what is happening in our lives to world politics, to travel, to just about everything.  Despite all that, there is something missing.  After 3 dates I haven't kissed her (perhaps that is TMI) and the spark just doesn't seem to ignite.  In the end I don't think the spark is igniting because my mind is filled with Shelly.

On the other hand there are 2 other people who though not exactly in my life in major ways there could be a significant spark with them.  Both of these other people are people who I have dated before.  One of them has never really left my life since we dated.  It is hard to explain but though we don't communicate much she knows my thoughts.  I can't really explain this one well so I am not going to even try.  All I can say is she is a great woman, who is extremely smart, extremely generous and just an overall wonderful person with a warm and loving heart.

The other person is someone I dated during one of the times Shelly and I broke up.  I never expected to hear from her again, but in the last 2 weeks we have had several nice exchanges of text messages and voice mails to each other.  We have a deep connection because of a shared experience that few people have.  There is also a smoldering physical intensity between us.  When we are in the same room together it is like there is electricity flowing between the two of us - and everyone can see it.  On top of that she lives a life that is so similar to mine.  She shares all the values I have and she is warm, caring, loving and extremely compassionate.

So why don't I pursue either of these two women?  Because my heart still is in Shelly hands.  Why does it seem I can't take it back?  I don't really know.  The unfortunate thing is that there are two very different Shelly's.  There is the Shelly I fell in love with.  That Shelly is the warmest, sweetest, most loving, most giving, wonderful person that there is.  She is everything that I want in a partner.  Every little aspect of her I love.  She can be quirky at some times but that makes her even more attractive to me.  She is the best!  But unfortunately there is another Shelly that exists.  I don't know why this Shelly exists.  But this Shelly is the opposite of what I described above.  This Shelly doesn't come around very often but comes around when Shelly is under stress or feels hurt.  This second Shelly is the reason that we aren't together.  This second Shelly and I clash like there is no tomorrow and it becomes impossible for us to be in the same room together.  What is so very difficult is that this Shelly doesn't come around very often and only a few of the people in Shelly's life have ever seen this side of her.  So it makes it impossible for me to talk to her family or friends about this side of Shelly as they won't believe me when I tell them about this.  I would love to help Shelly solve the problem of why this side of her exists.  I know we all have different sides to ourselves that can come out under different situations, but I think this side of Shelly is extreme and has done some great damage to her through out her life.

All of this results in my mood being in a very bad place right now.  Between the intense physical pain and the emotional pain, my mood is frequently not good.  I do my best to cover it up when I am around people and I think I do a good job at that.  When I was in Charlotte for Christmas no one called me out on it so I think I have done a good job covering things up.  What keeps me moving to any small degree is the fact that I have people depending upon me.  I can't afford to let Zack down.  I can't afford to let Nancy down.  I can't afford to let my puppies down.  I can't afford to let the rest of my family down.  I am sure if I didn't have Zack, Nancy and the puppies, my life would be very different and I would probably spend most of it in a drug or alcohol induce haze.  But I will not let that happen.  Some how I will continue to push through things.  It will get a little bit better.  If I can at least get my physical pain resolved, I will be able to exist much better.

I don't know where my emotional pain will take me.  I love very deeply.  Back in April of 2010 I made a commitment to Shelly by asking her to marry me.  Even despite all the water under the bridge and the fact that our relationship is ended, I still believe in that commitment I made to her.  I don't see us getting back together now or any time in the near future.  I will never intrude upon Shelly's life, just as she never intrudes upon my life, but in the small ways I can I will try and watch out for her and make sure that she is OK.  If she is ever in need I will try my best to help her out.  Oh my - Shell if you ever read this, just know as I told you so long I will always be there to help you, look out for you and take care of you.  All you ever have to do is reach out to me.  I am not going anywhere and I will be here for you.

Ok - I got that off my chest for the day and my physical pain is diminishing for a little bit as I took the last 2 oxycodone pills I had.  While I am feeling better I am going to get up and get things done.  I want to keep things moving on the projects that I have going on around the house.  On top of that I do have stuff to do for work.  I need to get my travel arrangements made for the trip to India.

One other thing of note that has lifted my spirits this morning.  A few minutes ago the alarm on my phone went off.  My phone was upstairs in my bedroom on the night stand.  Finnegan was upstairs at the time and started to howl.  Oh my gosh it is the funniest thing to hear him howl.  He is such a calm, sedate pup and to hear him howl and to see him howl is just amazing.  You would never expect this puppy to make those kinds of primeval sounds.  His howling has definitely brightened my day!

I am off to get busy on the day-to-day tasks of the day.  I hope everyone has a great day!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Winter Serenity


I am never resist adding a few words to Wordless Wednesday!  I love this view.  I love being where this picture was taken.  It is one of my favorite spots in the Central Mountains of Colorado.  This is an open meadow above Ute Pass on the way to the top of Ute Peak.  The view is looking to the west at the Gore Range across the Blue River Valley.  This is a wonder place to hike to regardless of the season.  The spring is the only season in which I don't like to visit this meadow as every step you take is wet and muddy.

If anyone would like to hike to this place, e-mail and I will provide you directions to it.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Christmas Trip

Part of this blog entry was written at various times throughout the day on December 22nd.  The rest of it has been written late in the evening of December 27th.

The blog post for Thursday, December 22 is being written while Zack and I are flying from Denver to Chicago aboard a United 777.  This entry won’t be posted to the web for several days as I am loathe to post a lot of information to the Internet indicating that I will not be home for an extended period of time.  Though I have no problem putting my life out on the Internet, I don’t like indicating that I am not home because I have read too many horror stories of people being burglarized while on vacation because they posted something on Facebook, a blog or whatever that they were not home.  So I don’t intend to post this entry with the details of our travel to the blog until we are home.

Though the hour is still somewhat early the day has already been long.  I awoke at 4:00AM to ensure we would make our flight from Denver to Chicago.  The weather this morning was horrible as we received almost a foot of snow.  When I awoke I had a little bit more packing to do, and I also wanted to get the house ready for our cleaning ladies.  Kathy and Kellie will clean the house while we are gone so we will return to a clean and organized house.  To me there is nothing better than walking into the house and it is clean and organized.  I have come to love the smell of the cleaning agents that Kathy and Kellie use.  There is nothing special to their smell, but it triggers a sense of calm in my head that I love. 

We left the house at 5:50AM for our 8:50AM flight.  Before we could head to the airport we had to stop at “B&B for DOG” and leave Lex and Finn for their own little vacation.  The road in front of our house was pretty nearly impassible as the snow was so deep that even with the high-clearance of the Explorer we were bottoming out.  All the roads through Willow Creek were in the same condition as there had been no snow plows through the neighborhood and there had been very little traffic prior to us.

The main roads were not in any better shape, but given the additional traffic on those roads we were not bottoming out.  The amount of traffic increased as we drove north along I-25 until it was bumper-to-bumper near the Belleview exit.  Our route took us on to I-225 and traffic freed up dramatically on that highway.

We arrived at B&B for DOG exactly as they open at 6:30AM.  I backed the Explorer up to the entrance so that I could just pop the back door open, reach in – get the dogs and quickly get them into the kennel.  As I opened the back gate on Explorer I was able to reach in and get Finnegan without any problem, however Lex proved to be more elusive and he was out making a dash for freedom before I could grab him.  Letting Finnegan go, I managed to stop Lex in his tracks before he had gotten very far away by stepping on his leash.

Whew – that was a close call!  That would not have been fun attempting to chase Lex through a foot of snow with my back and leg still hurting.  We got the pups checked in at the kennel and we were quickly on our way to the airport.  The road was treacherous so I went slowly and we managed to make it to the airport without too many problems.

Our flight out of Denver left pretty close to its scheduled departure.  However after we backed away from the gate we did have to deal with thirty minutes of de-icing, so that made our arrival into Chicago a bit late.  Thankfully our flight to Charlotte was delayed by 40 minutes so we didn’t have any problem in catching the flight.

We have arrived in Charlotte about 1 hour late, but my brother was waiting in the “cell phone” parking lot anticipating our phone call that we had arrived.  I gave him a call and about 10 minutes later he was picking up us right outside of the arrivals area.

From there, we journeyed to his house which is in Charlotte proper and the fun has begun!  I think our visit will be great.  I know Zack is definitely excited by the opportunity to spend 4 days with his cousins.  I am sure he will have a great time.

So I am now finishing this blog entry when we reached home on Tuesday December 27th.  We had a fantastic time in Charlotte with my family.  It isn’t very frequently that we manage to get together.  All of us siblings haven’t been together since Patty’s memorial service at the end of July of 2008.  It was good to be together as the opportunity for our entire family to be together in one place doesn’t happen that often.   There are a total of 17 of us in my extended family – this includes my siblings and all of our children.  With the oldest of my nieces and nephews now aged almost 20, you can see the opportunities for this to happen in the future will be limited.  

The giving of Christmas gifts this year was relatively low-key.  Zack only received a total of 5 gifts this year.  We are moving into that time in life when the kids receive fewer gifts.  As they age they just don’t need all the stuff that they used to get when they were much younger.  The only one who got a lot of gifts was my youngest niece Olivia who is only 8 years old.  

Most of our time in Charlotte was spent just hanging out, eating food, talking and laughing.  It was good just to spend the time talking and catching up with my brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews.  It was a special Christmas just because we were all together.  It is easy to remember to the years of being kids and celebrating Christmas together and it was good to relive that and have that feeling of family togetherness that we had as kids!

Zack spent almost all the time we were there in the basement with all his cousins.  The basement was the place to be as that was where the video game console and the pool table are.  I think he had a great time and really bonded with his older cousins.  He is the youngest of the teenagers and was somewhat in awe of his older cousins.

 (Zoey - the adorable little basset hound we took to the vet.)

We had one unexpected adventure while we were there.  My nephews who live in Charlotte, Jeff and Derek were dog sitting their neighbor’s dog – a basset hound named Zoey.  She is a very sweet dog and I couldn’t resist going over with them to pet the pup.  When I petted her ears she yelped like there was no tomorrow.  I took a look at her ears and noticed that they seemed infected.  I told my brother about it and said he should tell his neighbors.  The next morning Zoey was out in the backyard and she was yelping like she was in great pain.  My brother decided that he should call his neighbors and find out who their vet was.  He did that and we managed to get an appointment for Zoey at 3:00PM that afternoon.  The vet took one look at her ears and told us that we did the right thing by bring her in as she had a serious infection in both of her ears.  We got her cleaned up and she was a much happier puppy.  I felt so much better for her as she seemed happy on the ride home as opposed to the ride there when she really seemed in agony.  It wasn’t too much of an adventure but I felt good for taking the 2 hours out of my trip to help this cute, adorable pup!

Our trip home today was a tab bit long.  It was long for 2 reasons.  First I had used frequent flier miles for these tickets and as a result the flight times weren’t the best.  They were the best because free tickets weren’t readily available on these days.  So we flew from Charlotte at noon today and then had a 4 hour layover in Chicago.  United then made our layover much longer because of their logistics personnel.  Our flight that was to leave at 5:00PM Chicago time had our airplane taken out from underneath us by a flight to Orlando that had been delayed for two hours.  The airplane we were switched over to experienced a mechanical issue so we had to wait for a third aircraft which was an hour late arriving.  So by the time all things were said and done we departed Chicago an hour and a half later than our original departure time.  Oh well, things like that happen every once and a while.  As I told a flight attendant friend of mine this evening, at least we arrived safely in Denver – which in the end run is all that matters.

Tomorrow the remainder of the holiday season will start off busy.  I have an physical therapy appointment at 9:30AM.  Unfortunately my back and my hip in is so much pain as a result of all the walking today I am not sure how I am going to endure physical therapy.  I hope to get an appointment with the neurosurgeon this week to plan out my back surgery as I don’t want to go through this pain much longer.  We will pick up the dogs after that and then try and get to see Nancy as we haven’t seen her since the Wednesday before Christmas.  

The rest of the week is very busy as I start back to work on Thursday.  Friday evening I am having a big get together here at my house for a bunch of folks so that will be fun but it will be busy.  Saturday is New Years Eve and Zack and I will be doing some partying that evening.  Nothing to crazy but I am sure we won’t get home and get to bed until 1:30 or 2:00AM.  So the remaining days of 2011 will be quite busy for us.

It is now after 10:00PM Mountain time and my body is still on East Coast time so my bed is beckoning me. 

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Tidings of Joy, Peace and Contentment to All

It's Christmas Time! May you all find peace, happiness, contentment and joy during this holiday season.  Thank you all for being part of my little world and reading this blog. It is through you reading this thing everyday that I keep it going.  The comments, thoughts and ideas you provide to me are the inspiration for writing all of this.  Thanks so much for being my audience!  You are the best darn readers a blog author could have!  :-)

To all who are part of my life whether it be directly or indirectly, I wish all the best to you and everyone who is important to you.  May you all find the time to be with those who bring out the best in you, who understand you better than any others and who love you the most.  May you be with them on these blessed days and find the truest sense of peace, happiness, joy and comfort together as a family or group of friends.

To the person who is not part of my life yet who is so deeply embedded in my heart – I hope you find the deepest, happiest peace and feelings of love and comfort this Christmas.  May your son, mother, brother and the rest of your family be at your side.  I hope you will feel warmth, comfort, security, happiness and love in the presence of your family and friends.  If there is some one in your life right now who is your lover, partner and friend – may they be true to you and bring you the deepest sense of caring, love and desire.  I hope they will treat you and love you in every way that you desire and need.  Regardless of that I am not with you as your partner right now, my love, desire and warmth for you still burn so brightly.  I hope after a day full of activities with family and friends as you lay your head down on the pillow you feel comforted and content.  Before your eyes close and your breathe becomes slow and you start making that ever so cute sound when you sleep, I do hope you will think of me and remember all that we shared and know that I love you with my entire being.  Be at peace and be happy!


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  And everyone went to their own town to register. 

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”


So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.


Merry Christmas and good tidings to all! ~J.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Determination

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.

Monday, December 19, 2011

So Watcha Think?

The question must be asked!  The viewpoints must be raised!  The creative element must be analyzed!  What do you all think of my new blog format?  There are some things I still need to work out particularly concerning the header area of the blog, but for the most part this is the design that I like.  What about all of you?  Does this look alright?  Does it make the visual context overwhelm the written word?  Please provide me with lots of feedback to what you like (if you like anything that is) and what you don't like about this blog layout.

On any given day I typically get between 60 and 80 different page views of my blog.  I would love to log in tomorrow and have 20 or 30 different comments about the blog style to review.  Your feedback is critical in my ability to make this blog readable.  Writing the content isn't exactly easy, but it is just as easy to write it only for myself as it is to write it for the entire world.  So please share your thoughts and let me know what you think.  To me this blog is a success when however many people read it, look at it and either enjoy it or better yet - start thinking through something because of what I wrote.  All you lurkers out - I do know who many of you are - go ahead and leave a comment.  I do promise I won't bite!

I am struggling to finish this blog entry as I am so very tired tonight.  Due to the continued significant pain in my back I am tired due to the amount of pain killers in me and it has just been a very busy and crazy day.

Much of the craziness today was caused by the fact that our professional organizer Dayna-Rae started working with us today.  Let me clarify that - Dayna-Rae started working with Zack today!  Zack has the biggest order of magnitude of work to do to get his possessions and room organized.  At first Zack jumped right into the work and made some good headway with Dayna-Rae.  After about 1.5 hours he started to tire of the process and had to go check out.  I asked Dayna-Rae if that was pretty typical for a 13 year old.  Her response was "Oh yeah - particularly for boys as they seem to find little benefit in organizing stuff at that age".  Regardless we (all three of us) made a good bit of headway.  Zack and I are going to get busy with our home work for the stuff we need to do before Dayna-Rae comes back right before the beginning of the New Year.

The other item of excitement - or actually lack of excitement was the fact that we had a power outage for about 3 hours this afternoon.  It started to snow here when I was on my way home from Physical Therapy this morning.  By the middle of the afternoon the roads were slick and snow covered and apparently a truck hit a local transformer box knocking out electricity to our section of Centennial and most of Lone Tree as well.  Definitely no fun, but it is the way it goes some times.  Once it started to get dark and we still didn't have power, Zack and I went out and did some shopping at Target where at least we had light and could get something done.

My eyelids are beginning to betray me and hence I must sleep!

I hope you all have a great day tomorrow!

Merry Christmas to you all! ~J

Please, please provide me with some feedback on the new style of the blog.  Thanks!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Manic Energy - And the Best Picture I Ever Took

I need to take a very deep breath!  Do you ever wake in the morning with a feeling of determination that results in an almost manic flow of energy into your body?  I have had one of those mornings.   It could be that I slept like a rock last night and I awoke and consumed a fair amount of caffeine on an empty stomach.  I was busy last night and didn't get to bed until almost 2:30AM but regardless I feel like I have a 75,000 horsepower turbine powering me this morning.  Yes - I did drink the best part of a Full Throttle Energy drink this morning so I think that goes a very long way toward explaining that.

Perhaps too I am just bouncing back from yesterday as it was a difficult day as I had to take Nancy to the doctor and spend a good bit of time there with her as she wasn't doing well.  I am never really sure what all is going on with her.  I don't know if she is really not doing well or if she is just feeling the effects of being 80 years old and it takes a lot out of her.  Regardless of what it is, I will keep watching out for her and hoping beyond hope she will get to the point she feels good.  (Yesterday's issue turned out that she has an infection and had to get a pretty strong antibiotic for it.  Hopefully it will resolve the problem for her.)

Because of all of this I feel like I have 100 million different subject about which I want to write today.  It really isn't 100 million but it might be like 20,000!  So I expected throughout the day I will make numerous blog entries.  For those of you who get my e-mail updates I will turn them off for the day after this post because I don't want to pollute your in-box with spam!!

This week I have been at my brother's house a number of times for various activities.  Yesterday I was there looking through some of the pictures that Celinde has taken over the years so that I can build a collage of photos that have Zack, me and Patty in them.  Notoriously most of the pictures I have here at home have Zack and Patty or Zack and me, but rarely all 3 of us - because someone needed to take the picture.

While I was there I came across what I think is the best picture that I ever took in my life.  It is at Tim and Celinde's because I gave them several copies of it since it was a picture of their first dog - Jake.  It was so good that I framed a copy of it and gave it to my brother for his birthday the year after Jake died.

I was thinking about that picture this morning so I went and found it in my archives.  It was originally taken on black and white film in 2001.  But over the years I have converted most of my film pictures into electronic versions.  I felt like sharing that picture this morning because when I looked at yesterday it brought back so many good memories of a life that was much simpler, happier in a different way and much more adventuresome.

My hope as 2011 winds down and as we approach 2012 life is going to return to that simpler, more adventuresome and happier way.  I am confident it will do that.  But I had to share this wonderful picture with the world.

The picture was taken in July of 2001 at Lily Pad lakes in the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area at the southern end of the Gore Range of Mountains.  My college roommate Allen Greenberg and his life partner Jay Evans were visiting for a week and we hiking all over the place that week.  We I took this picture we had done an extensive hike and Jake just wanted to get into the water.  Even though Jake wasn't that old, he was a cantankerous puppy.  He wasn't cantankerous in a bad way, he just had his own way about him and he wanted you to adhere to that way.  He loved to play in the water and if you threw a rock in the water for him to fetch he would stand there and just dig and dig and paw for it.  He would run himself ragged trying to dig that rock out of the mud of the bottom of the pond.  When I snapped this picture Jake was standing in the water at the edge of the lake waiting for one of us to toss a rock into the water.  To me the picture shows his excitement and anticipation of the fun he is about to have.  Jake is now long gone, but every time I look at this picture I remember his spirit, his love of the water and the outdoors and his own unique personality!


I hope everyone has a great day!!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Changing Climate - A Threat to the Planet?

I read a lot of blogs.  I guess that makes sense since I write one.  As I go through and read the different blogs I am always coming up with new and interesting ideas that I want to put into this blog.  A friend/acquaintance of mine - Ted - who I work with at Hospice started his own blog a while back.  Now Ted is a much more gifted writer than am I.  He can take an idea and weave it into a complex tale illustrating many different facets to the story.  Ted writes mainly about political topics and he does a great job with it.  He is non-partisan and represents the issues with facts that are not just talking points.  One of the features that Ted adds to his blog entries are a series of factoids that illustrate the issue at hand.  Based upon the extensive facts and reasoning he puts into his blog entries he must spend a ton of time thinking things through and writing.

Not that I have anywhere near the writing skills of Ted, but I wanted to use his format in the creation of today's blog post.  I have been thinking about this post for several months and we are now home from a busy Friday evening so I have as much time as I want to work on writing this blog post.

By the way if you would like to check out Ted's blog, you can find it at this address:  http://tedsheadco.wordpress.com/

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A Different Perspective on Global Warming
This weekend will most likely be the height of the Christmas shopping season for 2011.  The malls will be jammed with people and the electronics, clothes, books and all other orders of gift like things will be flying off the shelves.  As the shelves are emptied just-in-time inventory systems will kick in and orders will go out to distribution centers for tractor trailer trucks to be loaded so that the shelves can be replenished and the process can begin anew.

A whole chain reaction occurs once the masses of consumers leave their homes and head to the malls and begin shopping.  As distribution systems kicks into gear to deliver goods to the consumer, massive amounts of energy are consumed by transportation systems, inventory systems, production systems, etc.  The end result is that for each product purchased massive amounts of greenhouse gases are released.

The greenhouse gases come from a variety of different sources throughout the supply chain that builds and brings the goods to market.  Some of the bigger sources of the greenhouse gases are:
-   Extraction of the raw material from the earth.  Electronics devices - the biggest sellers of this holiday season require hundreds of different compounds that are mined from the earth.
- The manufacture of the end product
- The transportation of the product to the place that it will be sold
- Powering the computer and inventory systems that track all this stuff

The end result is through our prolific consumption of consumer goods at this time of the year, there are millions of tons of extra greenhouse gases pumped into our atmosphere.  Though Christmas time might be the worst in terms of the production of greenhouse gases, the rest of the year is nearly as bad.

Production of greenhouse gases and global warming has been a topic of significant discussion for the last 15 - 20 years.  Prior to that no one really recognized the impact of all the carbon dioxide and other gases our industrialized society has been pumping into the atmosphere for the last 200 years.  There have been numerous studies done which highlight the potential impact of all these greenhouse gases.  Treaties have been negotiated to limit the amount of these gases that each country can produce.  Nothing has come of these treaties because it would mean that industrial production and economical growth would be cut back.

Despite this focus on global warming and the production of greenhouse gases, the quantity of these gases being produced is growing at an alarming rate.  One recent study showed that 4 times the amount of greenhouse gases are being pumped into the atmosphere than was imagined as a worst case scenario when projections were done 5 years.  Four times the worst case scenario - it is absolutely incredible!!!  If you believe there is a link between the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and bad things happening to our climate then it is time to be very worried.

In most cases when people argue the case to cut greenhouse gas emissions it is argued on a belief that we "have to save the planet".  Is that really the case?  What will reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions do to save the planet?  The reality is that hundreds of times before this there have been even greater amounts of greenhouse gases in the air than now.  And yet...  the planet survived.  During those times all the polar ice caps melted and there were no glaciers any where to be found.  The planet became warm and tropical and the seas and oceans expanded, and many landmasses were totally inundated by water.  Thousand of species of animals and plants were utterly destroyed during those previous times of global warming.  Despite all that, over many millennia the excess greenhouse gases were eventually absorbed back into the oceans and land masses.  The temperatures cooled and global ice caps eventually reformed.

Our planet is extremely resilient.  It has taken blows from asteroids and comets.  It has endured massive volcanic eruptions that have darken the skies for hundreds and thousands of years.  It has experience massive temperature swings in time frames much shorter than what we are currently experiencing.  And yet the planet has continued and life has adapted to the new conditions.  After each one of these traumatic events life has bounced back and flourished.

Do we really need to save the planet?  I really don't think we have to save the planet.  Of much greater concern to me from greenhouse gases and global warming is the survival of the human race.  It doesn't matter what is causing the warming that is impacting our planet, the reality is the warming is occurring.  Each degree the average temperature goes up, more ice in Greenland and Antarctica melts.(Well - technically the ice in Antarctica hasn't really started to melt yet.)  As that ice melts the oceans get bigger and start consuming the land.  Imagine a 100 years from now when the Atlantic Ocean swallows the entirity of Manhattan and most of New York City.  As a species we have done a bad job in terms of where we live.  Almost 50% of the total population of the earth lives within 60 miles of a coastline.  That makes the half the human population susceptible to the impact of rising sea levels. If all the water currently contained in the ice that covers Greenland and Antarctica were to melt as some climate models predict, sea levels would rise by over 215 feet!  Enormous amounts of land would be flooded by a sea level change of 215 feet.  Entire nations like Bangladesh, the Netherlands and the Island Nations of Pacific would be utterly lost.  Even the United States would suffer dramatic losses with almost the entire state of Florida being covered in water.

Maybe we need to think about this whole global warming and climate change issue in a different light.  It isn't about "saving the planet", it is about "saving human kind".  The earth has proven very capable of replacing the top species on the planet with another family of animals.  Not that the dinosaurs had culture or intelligence, but if they did I am sure they weren't thinking 65 million years ago that they were going to go extinct in the blink of an eye.

(Amazingly beautiful iceberg in a bay off of Baffin Island in Northern Canada.)

Though global warming doesn't threaten us with such an immediate extinction it does threaten us with very serious implications.  Drought, wild swings in temperature, rising sea levels, intense hurricanes and even an ice age are all possible because of global warming.  Yes - that is right, global warming could cause an ice age to engulf the northern hemisphere because of changes in the salinity of ocean water would result in changing ocean currents that could freeze Northern Europe and North America.

Imagining the impact of some of those catastrophes and you realize that our society if not our entire race could be dealt a fatal blow by global warming.  On top of the actual impacts of the climate change itself there are so many other potential problems that would arise such as the development and spread of infectious diseases, war for scarce resources - water and food and geopolitical change caused by mass relocation of people.

(Snow covered fjords of Greenland.)

Our planet is going to survive pretty much anything that is thrown at it.  (Ok - a collision with a huge asteroid or mini-planet might take the earth out, but that is about it.)  The climate can and will change and this will result in the extinction of thousands of species of plants and animals, but new species will evolve to take their places.  Human kind on the other hand can't endure the massive changes wrought by global warming.  Instead of thinking of "saving the planet" maybe we should really be thinking of "saving human kind" when it comes to eliminating global warming.  I don't think we as a society will be smart enough to think it through and see it that way which is unfortunate.  Ultimately it will be our great-great-great-great grandchildren who pay the price for our short-sightedness.  And 2 million years from now, there's a good chance global warming will have wiped out our species, but the earth will have moved on and there will be a new species at the top of the food chain.

(Impact of global warming?  Flood waters rage through a river channel eroding the river bank.)

Global Warming Facts: (From National Geographic and other sources)
- Average temperatures have climbed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius) around the world since 1880, much of this in recent decades, according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
- The rate of warming is increasing. The 20th century's last two decades were the hottest in 400 years and possibly the warmest for several millennia, according to a number of climate studies.
- Arctic ice is rapidly disappearing, and the region may have its first completely ice-free summer by 2040 or earlier.
- Industrialization, deforestation, and pollution have greatly increased atmospheric concentrations of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, all greenhouse gases that help trap heat near Earth's surface
- Humans are pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere much faster than plants and oceans can absorb it.
- The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 290 (ppm - parts per million) in 1900 to nearly 400 ppm today.
- Over the past 25 years, the average annual Arctic sea ice area has decreased by about five percent and summer sea ice area has decreased by roughly 15 percent. The collapse of the Larsen Ice Shelf off the Antarctic Peninsula appears to have no precedent in the last 11,000 years
- In 2007, a United Nationals panel of 2500 scientists from 130 countries concluded that ice caps will probably be completely melted by the year 2100.  Some scientists believe the total melting will occur even sooner.
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All other things aside the weekend is moving along and we have lots taking place.  Saturday, night we have a Christmas celebration to go to with the extended family.  We are getting together with Celinde's parents, Nancy and member of the "usual suspects" for an early Christmas celebration.  The rest of the day is going to be spent Christmas shopping as I want to get everything finished by the end of the day.

Sunday will be football day of course, but then I have a get together with several friends to go to in Colorado Springs.  That should be a good time as it has been a while since I have seen some of these folks.  On top of that I am supposed to have a friend come over to the house to help me start designing the kitchen remodel.  I have the basic floor plan in mind, but I need to start thinking about colors and materials that we will use.  (Not sure if that is going to happen or not as we have been back and forth on it.  Oh well if it doesn't happen til after Christmas that is OK too.)

Once we get the kitchen design laid out I want to move quickly on getting the remodel going.  The sooner the work is done then the more options I have going into the spring.  If I make the decision to move to a smaller house here in Willow Creek or a loft at Dry Creek Crossing, then I we will be in prime position to get the house on the market in the busy house selling season in the spring.  Making this decision about the house is going to be one a very tough decision and I really don't know which way I am going to go at this point.  Oh well - times are a changing!

Have a great weekend!!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Theme - Where Does Jerry Want To Go!

For the last several entries I have been using the blog as my online psychologist.  I have been putting more stuff out there that has been going through my head and heart than I have in a long time.  It is time to move away from that and do some writing that doesn't make me sound like a basket case. 

When I was a kid growing up in Norvelt, Pennsylvania I lived in a very academic atmosphere.  Both of my parents were college educators and they strongly believed in the process of lifelong learning.  Our house was like a library as there were books everywhere.  My mom taught mathematics and my dad taught political science and history.  Unfortunately for my mom I just had no interest whatsoever in mathematics.  I didn’t necessarily struggle at math, but I certainly never wanted to excel at it either. 

On the other hand I loved history and learning about the world and it’s people.  From a very early age, I would always being going through my father’s books and looking for interesting things to read or at which to look.  I remember we had many books that were about the different countries of the world and lots of those books had pictures.  So even before I became a very skilled reader I would pick up the books filled with pictures and look through and be amazed by the pictures of distant lands. 

As my reading skills improved as I grew older, I began to take an interest in many of the non-picture oriented books my father had.  Books that discussed the Far East, central Asia, medieval times, any country off the beaten track and Greek/Roman history attracted my attention the most.  At this young age I had a great curiosity about many things but I was also extraordinarily shy and non-talkative.  So the books became my friends and time after time I returned to the same subjects sucking them in like an elixir.  My dreams when I went to bed at night were filled with exotic cities and countries like Herat, Bukhara, Istanbul, Anatolia, Ulan Bator, Samarkand and many other unique locales.  The mystery and intrigue of these ancient places settled in my head and created a life long desire to travel and know as much as I could about these places.  It created a passion in me for travel, learning and exploration.

In the thirty-plus odd years that have passed since then, I have lived a lot of what I dreamt about back then.  I haven’t lived it all, but I have continued to have a passion for learning, traveling and exploring.  My travel has taken me around the world and to 11 different countries.  I have visiting almost all of the United States and I have continued to read and read and absorb everything I can about every corner of the world.

Because I love travel and different countries so much I am going to write about them in my blog.  Once a week I am going to write a blog entry about some far-away country that I want to visit and I in which I have had an interest.  I am going to call this “Where Does Jerry Want to Go” or WDJWTG for short – LOL!.

For the first WDJWTG entry I am going to write about the country of Namibia.

Now if you have never heard of the country of Namibia you are not alone, as there are a ton of reasons why you have never heard of this country. 

(Position of Namibia on the African continent.) 

Here are some of the reasons why you have never heard of Namibia:
-          Namibia only became an independent country in 1990.  Prior to that it has been a territory administered by South Africa.
-          Though it is not landlocked, Namibia is far off the beaten track.  Located in the southeastern corner of Africa, much of the coastline goes by a very dubious nickname, “The Skeleton Coast”.  It is known by this because the treacherous waters and fog off shore have claimed thousands of sea vessels.  The coast is littered with many ship wrecks and the skeletons of thousands of whales and seals leftover from the days of whaling.
-          Much of the country is a desert.  Less than 1 percent of the land is arid.
-          Though ½ the size of Alaska, it only has a population of 2.1 million.  It has the second lowest population density of all countries on earth.  Only Mongolia has a lower population density.
-          There is a very high risk of infectious diseases such as malaria, cholera, etc.

Prior to it’s in-depth exploration by Europeans in the 19th century Namibia was inhabited by nomads of the Bushman and Bantu tribes.  Early Europeans who journeyed past in the 15th – 19th centuries would normally make brief stops and then move on due to the inhospitable nature of the land.  It was only in the 1880’s that there was major interest in the area from the European powers.  Germany took over the area in 1884 and called it German South-West Africa.  Though there were few natural resources to exploit, the Germans set up their colony to forestall British movement into the area from South Africa.

(The Namib escarpment is a significant geological feature in Namibia.)

During WWI South Africa invaded and took over the colony from the Germans.  After the war, South African administration of the colony was made official through a League of Nations Mandate.  This area was widely ignored by the global community through the end of WWII.  There was no fighting in Namibia during WWII and the South Africans used this time of peace to implement their policy of racial segregation call Apartheid.  

When the United Nations was established at the end of WWII, South Africa refused to relinquish their administration of the area and this began South Africa’s slow but steady slide towards pariah nation status.  As the colonial freedom movement of the 1960’s began to shake up the political structure of Africa, Namibia was not immune to the  impact of the movement.  (The colonial freedom movement was when many of the countries of Africa began to demand their freedom from their colonial overseers – the British, the French, the Belgians, etc.)  In 1966 the military arm of the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) was established to fight for the freedom of Namibia from South Africa and the end to apartheid there.

 (One of the many massive dunes that are make up much of the Namibian landscape.)

Over the next 22 years a low-intensity guerilla conflict was fought between the South African military and SWAPO.  Much of this conflict never made the news here in the United States as the military engagements were limited and the international press barely covered the conflict.  When at last apartheid in South Africa began to slip away in 1988, progress towards Namibian independence finally began.  Namibia became independent on March 21, 1990.

Unlike many other countries in Africa the transition from colonial status to independence went smoothly and the country has transformed itself into a functioning multi-party democracy.

Why in the world would I ever what to visit Namibia you might ask?  There are several reasons why this country attracts my attention.  First, Namibia’s remoteness and lack of connectivity to the rest of the world sets Namibia apart from so many other countries.  Just getting to Namibia is an adventure and a marvelous one at that.  Though much of the country is desert, the landscape is beautiful and awe inspiring.  On top of that it is a friendly country.  Unlike its next door neighbor South Africa, the overall incidence of crime in Namibia is relatively low.  

Once you arrive in Namibia travel within the country is relatively easy.  For the hardy souls who make it to the country they will find that there are many fun and interesting activities to partake upon.  There are thriving industries in the country based upon extreme adventure tourism such as 4x4ing and sand boarding the huge desert dunes.

 (Dust storm covers on of the nations road with a fine layer of sand.)

I must take back one of the points I made earlier.  I just used Orbitz to see what it would take to get from Frankfurt, Germany to Windhoek, Namibia.  Windhoek is the capital of Namibia.  There is actually a direct flight from Frankfurt to Windhoek.  Times have certainly changed as I looked into that exact same itinerary 3 years ago and you couldn't get there by air.  The world is becoming a smaller place.

I hope you my readers have enjoyed learning something about a country that I would love to visit.  I will try and do one of these posts once a week.  I’ll make the countries I write about the ones that I am interested in, but if there are any suggestions from you my readers that you would like me to write about – please post a comment or send me an e-mail.

Not much to say about the day for us.  It was a very low key day.  Zack is almost done with school for the calendar year and is very much looking forward to the Christmas break.  Tomorrow (Friday) will be his last day of school until the New Year.  I managed to take care of a huge amount of my Christmas shopping today so I am very happy!  We have a very busy weekend of activities and parties ahead so I want to try and finish most of my shopping up tomorrow.  All the dates and locations for my early January trip to India are starting to come together.  We have limited the trip to 2 cities this time around – though in all likelihood I am anticipating that I will be making 4 – 5 different trips to India in 2012 based upon the yearly business plan that I am building.  The cities that I will be visiting are Pune and Gurgaon.  If any of you readers have any experience with those cities please drop me a note.  My biggest question is if I am only in Pune for 2 days does it make sense to try and get to Mumbai for sightseeing on an early morning trip?

As always – thank you for reading.  I hope this new theme isn’t too boring, so please feel free to provide feedback if you consider it too boring.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What we do with our pain

Alright - I realize that I am in a place in life that isn't exactly normal.  It's not normal in anyway shape or form, but unfortunately it is where I am.  The place in life that I am seems pretty darn desperate to me.  It's a place in which I am searching, hoping, grasping at anything to hold onto to make sense of it all.

If you've read this blog for more than a month or so, if you heard the story.  Wife gets sick and dies and leaves me alone to raise a wonderful little boy who has been traumatized by seeing his mom gets sick and die.  I find love, but the love turns into a mess as I do stupid things and cheat on her.  I fight to get that love back and have it come back only to blow up because of things that I don't think either of us can really control.  So here I sit, alone, sad and feeling somewhat desperate.  Not desperate to the point of doing stupid things, but desperate to the point that I do what men always seem to do when they are hurting like crazy - find comfort in the worst place - a bottle.  So I take to drinking vodka by the liter.  It's probably not that crazy but I buy a 1.75 liter of vodka and I can drink my way through it in between 7 and 10 days.  Which probably isn't that bad, but of me - it's bad enough.  (I think it is not that bad because when I used to work in Poland for a couple of months back in 2005, I had a good friend by the name of Olek who would sit down and drink an entire BOTTLE of vodka in an evening.  And Olek used to do that most nights of the week!)

No I haven't reached the point that I am an alcoholic as I can stop and not drink anymore.  That is the one good thing about my family's genes - we don't have an addictive tendency the way others do.  Yes - we are totally and completely neurotic when it comes to anxiety but we don't get addicted to things.  I guess that is a huge blessing because if I were an addict I am sure I would be going places that I don't even what to image with the pain I am feeling.

Lots of you are probably asking - why the pain?  The pain exists because the person I love more than anything is no longer part of my life and in all likelihood never will be part of my life again.  What makes the situation even worse is that by writing about it, I am pushing others away who could be part of my life.  I know some of the people who read my blog religiously and I wonder if I stopped writing about "my love" if they would enter my life and take away that wound.  But I guess the fact is, though I really care about some of those people my love for whatever reason stays with Shelly.

I don't know all that motivates her, I don't know all that drives her, but she is forever in my heart and mind and I can't get her to leave.  Each second of everyday is painful as I wonder what she is doing, I wonder how she is feeling.  Does she miss me at all, or am I like road-kill tossed to the side of the road and forgot?  How I wish I had these answers but I don't.  And so since I don't have those answers I get through my work day and then as soon as the clock hits 5:00PM I start to drink - so that I can forget.

What is the solution to this problem?  I really can't say at this point.  I am a firm believer in love and the importance of love in any relationship.  I have that love for Shelly and despite where she is right now I am pretty dam sure that she shares that love for me.  If she would come out and say "I don't love you" and explain why her feelings have changed so drastically then I could understand the situation.  But she refuses to contact me - leaving me uncertain of all that she is thinking.  Agh...  When will I find peace?  When will I find happiness?

More than anything I want contentment and happiness and I want to be over this pain.  The question is how?  I don't want to rid my heart of my love for Shelly.  But given all that what can I do?  I am sure I sound like a big fat whiner.  But sometimes your feelings are important - loving someone is important.  In this case it is important.  More than anything I want Shelly to know that she is worth it.  I want her to know that despite the pain we have felt, despite all the difficult times - she is wanted by me just the way she is!

Is all this work and effort to try and bring Shelly back to me worth it?  Yeah - it is.  I don't care what anyone tells me - she is worth it.  And I can only hope someday, whether it is tomorrow or whether it is a year from now, she comes to understand this.  You're worth it Shell and you will always be worth it.

Moving on then....

My pain levels associated with my herniated disc are doing much better.  The pain in the small of my back is gone, however there is still a lot of pain associated with my left hip and the actual site of the incision.  My Physical Therapist Jenna tells me that is good progress as we are now actually working with the real issue as opposed to the secondary issue caused by the herniated disc.  So we are making progress which is good!

I am woefully behind on my Christmas shopping.  I know what I am getting people but I actually have to do all the shopping yet.  Thankfully almost all of it will be done over the web.  So I think tonight I am going to sit down and start pumping some of it out.  What will make this really easy and nice is I will have it sent directly to my brother's house in North Carolina where we will be for Christmas.  That way I won't have it shipped here and then have to pack it up myself and ship it there.

School is really starting to wind down for Zack.  He is having a lot of tests in most of his classes between now and the end of the week.  So he has been busy studying and getting everything ready for the tests.  He has some ground to make up on some of his grades, but I think he might actually come away with his best report card ever.  It would be very nice that is for sure!

Plans are really starting to come together for my trip to India.  We have the agenda all laid out and I know where I will be on most days.  I am definitely going to get to see some parts of India that I have never seen before as I will be flying into Delhi and flying out of Mumbai.  I have never been in those parts of the country before.  I am a little bit worried about how all of the travel will play out on my injured back as the flights to and from India are roughly 22 hours.  On the way to India I might leave a day early and layover in Frankfurt or Dubai.  I don't think I will do that on the way home as I will just want to get home at that point.  Additionally you normally have a 5 - 7 hour layover in Europe on the way home.  Just getting out of a plane for that long can make the rest of the journey OK.

Well - I guess that is it for a Wednesday.  I hope that everyone has had a great day!

Thanks and peace to all! J.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Disrobing Myself in the Full View of the World

 I am sure I will get tons of hits to the blog when people see the title of today's entry!  hehehehehe....

No there will be no nudity or disclosing of deep dark secrets.  Yeah - that would NOT be a pretty sight...  A picture of Jerry in his birth day suit!  LOL!  I am cracking up just thinking about it.  Nor am I going to tell you that my deepest darkest fantasy is to be immersed in a tub of whipped cream with Kim Kardashian.  Ahhhhh - no...  that doesn't fit anywhere on my fantasy list! 

What I meant by disrobing myself in the full view of the world is writing about every aspect of my life so that everyone understands me.  In the past I have been told that I use this blog to "selective" describe who and what I am.  To some degree I think that is true, as I do not go into full details about things, nor do I describe EVERY aspect of my life.  There are lots of things that I have held close to my vest of which I haven't talked.  I really struggle with this aspect of the blog.  I don't want to come across as a whiner, nor do I want to come across as some kind of superior, snotty asshole.  I am left with a dilemma as to how I describe myself and what I do.  Well - I suppose that mean I could be a whiner and/or a snob.  Umm...  not a good assessment of myself.

There have been occasions in which I have opened a window into the true depth of my soul and all the things that have happened in my life.  There are some memorable blog entries out there which have absolutely rocked my world to write.  I would say there are probably between 5 and 10 blogs entries that I have written bawling my eyes out and having a need to get a shot of vodka when I completed them.  For the most part it has been good to write those entries and the completion of them has felt like I just did an hour long mental dump in a therapists office.

What am I saying by writing all this?  I am saying that there is a lot churning in my head and heart that in the coming days and weeks I want to put out there.  I realize that it might cost me and might cost me something significant.  Just one example that of something my blog cost me was that it cost me the opportunity to begin a relationship with someone on Match.Com.

I started on Match.Com shortly after things ended with Shelly.  Though I am able to get lots of contact with women and lots of dates from Match.Com, I am coming to realize that it just isn't my thing.  My blog entries cost me the opportunity to meet and develop a relationship with a widow who has 2 kids.  I never made any effort to hide my blog from anyone and she read it.  She couldn't handle the words that I wrote about Shelly in here and decided she didn't want to go out with me.  I totally respect that.  She knows exactly what my feelings are and realized that I couldn't commit to her because in my heart I still love Shelly.

What do I do?  I really want to put everything in my head and heart on this blog, but I also wonder who it will harm or hurt, as I don't want to hurt anyone.  What would you do if you were in my position?  Would you put it all out there or would you "selectively" put stuff out there?

The answer lays in my heart and I know what I have to do.  I have to put it all out there.  I have to stand behind what I believe.  I have to live what I believe.  So what does it all mean?  First it means the next several months are going to be lonely as hell.  My heart is still with Shelly.  I can't freaking deny it.  Going on dates and trying to entertain woman (who though nice - aren't Shelly) just isn't fun.  So for now, I am going to work on spending time with friends and making more friends - forget about dating.  Either in time I will forget about Shelly or we will eventually be together.  I think the last idea is a pretty big long-shot, but you never know sometimes one persons love does prevail.  Second, I am going to own up to all that I am doing to blunt the horrible feelings of my loneliness.  It isn't pleasant, it isn't good, but it is the reality.  Third, I am going to be honest about all my feelings.  It isn't going to be easy to put it all out there - but it will enhance all that I tell the freaking therapist.

Trust me - I will "dis-robe" myself further in coming weeks.  I don't want to be seen as being selective as describing myself.  I want the world to know - because I don't want to hide anything I want the world to know.

Today I had a medical procedure performed on my back to help with the herniated disc.  My brother took me to the surgical center at 1:00PM this afternoon.  Everything was done and I was home by 3:45PM.  Though this was rated as a risky procedure they still performed it at a surgical center and it was done very quickly.  It is rated as a risky procedure because if the surgeon messes up it could cause a lot of pain and I suppose in some cases even kill people. (There is no way it could have killed me because it was so far down my spine.  It wasn't at all near anything too important.  Though I guess the other risky thing is I could have had an adverse reaction to the medication like the late owner of Kacey Fine Furniture here in Colorado.)

(Image of my spine with two needles being inserted into it to inject the cortisone.  Neat pix huh?)

Once all the paperwork was done, they took me back and got me ready for the procedure.  Most of the time was spent doing this.  They put an IV in my arm and had me change into a medical gown.  I did get to keep my skivies on which is always good.  Once in the OR, they had me move over to the OR table.  The anesthesiologist was already in the room and as soon as I was positioned on the table he hit me with propofol.  I was surprised that they were using that drug, but they were.  Within 20 seconds of the drug being put in top of the IV I was out of it.  I always tell myself that I am going to fight it and stay awake.  Ha!  It never happens.  I was out of it so fast.  In what seemed a second or two I was waking up in the recovery room and my back didn't hurt.  I spent the next 40 minutes or so hanging out in recovery room.  By the time I got up and got dressed my back was starting to hurt again.  But as the doctor told me I would probably feel good for a while and then it would start hurting again.  Before they injected the steroid in my back they inject a fair amount of pain killer.  That wears off after a while and the steroid takes several days to take full effect.  As I write this at 6:30PM I don't have much pain if any.  I am hopeful this is going to make a big difference in my life!

Moving on to another subject - this evening after the dogs were fed I gave them each a rawhide retriever roll.  Lex has run off with his and is chewing on it like there is no tomorrow.  Though Finnegan has had retriever rolls before for whatever reason he doesn't seem to know what to do with this one tonight.  He keeps walking around the kitchen and family room whining very quietly.  He loves having it in his mouth as I tried to take it away, but he just doesn't know what to do with it.  It is really cute.


I think that is about all I can write for the evening as I am tired and sleepy from the fact that I had the procedure today.  Even though it was pretty simple it did take a lot out of me.  Hopefully it was worth it!


I hope everyone is doing well and starting to get the Christmas spirit in their hearts.  It might take me a bit but I will get it there.

Have a great evening everyone!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Lesson about the Spine!

Another weekend has arrived.  There has been a significant flurry of activity here for the last several days and it feels good to reach Saturday afternoon and have some time to relax.

I've gotten a number of phone calls and e-mails from people asking me how I am doing based upon the blog post I left on Tuesday.  I had a consult with a neurosurgeon on Wednesday afternoon concerning the situation with my herniated disc and my spine.  I learned lots and lots of interesting things in that appointment.  First the doctor gave me the shock treatment by telling me I had one of the largest hernias of disc that he had ever seen in his life.  Unfortunately he was not joking - but it at least explains the unbearable pain that I have been experiencing.  The second shock was the he told me that I had not one but two herniated discs and that in all likelihood, the one disc had been herniated for quite a log time.  Thankfully those were the only two pieces of bad news that he passed along to me.  The rest of the information was good or at least made me feel better.

Did you know by the time you reach your mid-forties, approximately 80% of all people have herniated discs in their backs.  In most cases they aren't even aware of them because they aren't causing pain.  Of the 2 messed up discs there was one that had been there for a while and a recent one that appears to be causing all of the pain. The surgeon can tell a new versus old hernia by the way it looks and the shape of it on the MRI.

 (The lower portion of the highlighted area is the area effected by my disc injury.)

My lack of knowledge of anatomy prevented me from knowing that your spinal cord comes to an end before the end of your spine.  The location of the two herniated discs in my back is after the spinal cord has already ended.  Instead of the spinal cord, there are large numbers of root nerves in the hollow space that the spinal cord occupies further up the back.  The good thing about that is even if herniated disc applies a ton of pressure to those root nerves, they don't damage like the spinal cord damages.  Therefore, in the absolute worst case scenario that the disc puts so much pressure on those root nerves that they are pretty well smashed, they are able to repair themselve and I won't be in a situation where I would be paralyzed for life.  I might suffer a temporary paralysis as the absolutely worst case scenario with this injury.

The plan of action to resolve this problem starts Monday.  I will be going to Littleton Hospital for another medical procedure that will start the healing.  They will knock me out and then spend about 30 minutes putting between 15-20 shots of cortisone directly into the effected areas of my back with the intention that the drug will cause the extremely inflamed disc material to shrink back into it's normal space.  These shots should take effect within 4 - 5 days.  If it doesn't work we can make the attempt 1 - 2 more times with cortisone.  If none of the those attempts work - then it will be time for surgery.  The whole point of this exercise is to get it so I don't feel the intense pain that I am feeling now.  As long as the pain goes away and my body functions normally, then it won't matter how bad things look on MRI, the doctor will call it a success!

Not much else going on in our world this weekend.  I am attempting to finish most of my Christmas shopping as I am doing it online and having it shipped directly to my brother's house in Charlotte.  That will be much easier than doing the shopping here and then packing everything up in boxes and sending it on my own.

I also had another update from a previous blog post.  In relationship to a blog post from earlier this week in which I talked about compassion and cruelty, I solved my dilemma.  The dilemma was a situation that I was dealing with in which there were very strict guidelines and the application of those very strict guidelines would force a very cruel outcome to the problem.  Through a lot of discussion I managed to get the strict requirement that those guidelines be followed waived.  I think this conclusion to the problem that I faced will bring some great happiness to the person involved.  I hope it does anyway!

Well - I think I am going to call it an evening.  I started writing this blog entry in the afternoon but then I got waylaid by things and I am only now finished at 8:30PM.  We did a bunch of errands this morning and then worked around the house (as much as I could with my back all f'ed up) this afternoon.  Then this evening Zack's cousin has been with us as Tim and Celinde were at a party. Zack and Cole have been having a great time spending the evening playing games and stuff.  (I only had to get snappy once when they were rough-housing in the family room and making way too much noise.)  Got to love when that works out well!

Have a great rest of your weekends!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - December 7th - Sacrifice

USS Arizona in the aftermath of Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor - 12/7/1941

The silent grace and honor of the orderly rows of grace at Arlington National Cemetery.  Though there is beauty in the orderly rows of tombstones, each grave marks the sacrifice and dedication of the soldier who is buried there.