Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's Go Time

It's that time again - surgery time.  Tomorrow marks surgery round II for my back.  With this surgery it brings me to a total of 4 different procedures I have now had on my back to resolve this problem.  I am hopeful that tomorrow's surgery is the last procedure that I have on my back for at least the next 20 years - if I am so blessed to live that long.

Besides our knees and hips, our backs are one of the areas that tend to take the heaviest beatings from our activities.  One of the many doctors I have seen explained it this way. "The discs in your back are like the shock absorbers on your car.  After a lot of use they start to wear out.  When you are in good shape and not overweight, herniated discs are just one sign that you have probably done a lot of high intensity athletic activity during your life".  Those weren't his exact words but they were a pretty good para-phrasing of what he said.  That doctor even refused to call herniated discs injuries.  Instead he preferred to just say they were wear and tear.  I don't know if I necessarily agree with that, but he is an expert and I am not.

Tomorrow's surgery is once again happening at Littleton Hospital.  My check in is at 7:00AM and surgery is at 9:00AM.  I will go into the hospital a little bit late as I will make sure that Zack gets out of the door to the school bus before I head to the hospital.  I am just driving in with my sister-in-law as she normally goes into work around 7:15AM, so the timing works out well.  That way I don't have to disrupt anyone's schedule.

The only downside to going into the hospital like this is that I will sit there and wait in the pre-op area all by myself for the two hours.  Not that is any kind of big deal as it isn't, but it tends to get pretty darn boring.  What ends up happening is I end up talking to the pre-op nurse.  If she isn't too busy then she'll hang around and chat with me.  If she has other patients then I will sit there cooling my heals for the entire time.  All I can say is BORING!!

Given the extent of tomorrow's surgery it will mean another overnight stay in the hospital.  Now that really sucks as I just don't sleep well there.  The beds - though extremely expensive - are very uncomfortable.  At least they are uncomfortable to me.  I do hope to get some things done while I am in there.  I really need to get a detailed itinerary developed of our trip to Costa Rica.  I have been somewhat pathetic in developing our itinerary.  Getting in gear on this task is definitely important.  So if I am not too sedated tomorrow afternoon, I will attempt to sit there in my hospital bed and go through my Costa Rica tour book.

That is enough talk of surgery.  It's been a couple of days since I have written and there have been a few notable activities in my life since last Friday.  The first isn't so much a notable activity as so much as it is something my little sweet puppy Finnegan did.  During most of the time I have had dogs I have always had 2 of them.  During the course of their existence together they determine a way to live in a very peaceful and happy manner.  However, dear little Finnegan has decided to challenge the established pecking order and has been challenging Lex to be the dominate dog in the house!  It started as a little quibble over a "hard bone" but has rapidly escalated into an ongoing old fashion puppy fight.  Over the weekend, Zack and I had to wade into the midst of 140 pounds of biting, growling, snarling dog flesh to separate the two combatants.  For all of his meekness and cuteness, little Finnegan certainly has the fighter in his soul.  Unfortunately for Finn, Lex still has him in terms of fighting capability and sheer brute force.  So while Finn had the motivation there is just no way in this world that he is going to successfully take on Lex for another several years.  I am hopeful that Finn will quickly learn that he is going to beat Lex and just accept it.  It is not like Lex does horrible things to Finnegan.  It is just that Lex is in charge.  Lex is a very low-key dog and normally leaves Finn to his own devices.  But when it comes to a bone or a chewy - Finn needs to learn he just needs to let Lex have what Lex wants.  If he challenges Lex, there will be a price for Finnegan to pay.

(Finn being loved by his boy!)

(The mighty and proud Lex!)

(Isn't that face adorable?)

 (How about that cute puppy face?)

 (Finnegan in one of his favorite spots in the living room.)

Moving away from the puppies, I had my first design session with my kitchen designer yesterday evening.  We got through the footprint of about half the kitchen.  We are still working on the island and the family room.  The challenge with the island is that I would like for it to support a "breakfast bar" kind of concept so that we can get rid of the table that we currently have for dining.  But we are struggling for the exact placement and shape of what the island should be.  We are getting back together next Monday evening and in the interim, Kelly - the kitchen designer is going to put together several different proposals that might work with the foot print that we have.  I am just amazed at the amount of things I need to decide upon to make it all work together.  There is no way that I think I can do all of this without help.  So my dear friend T - I need to talk to you soon!!

Well that is about it for now.  Tomorrow is a big day for me and I hope I come through it all no worse for the wear.  So if you get a chance tomorrow morning - think of me and wish me some luck so I don't wake up in the middle of the operating room with a ventilator tube down my throat!

Til later my friends!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Friday, February 24, 2012

It says it all...

I don't have any words tonight.  This says it all...  You all need to figure it out tonight.  Good night

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Who - Part of 3 Post Series of Who, What, Where!

For a while I have been considering doing a series of three blog posts that I call - "The Who, What, Where of My Life".  Basically each of these posts is a short definition of something about me - the Who, What and Where of my life.  Classically these 3 words are always ordered Who, What, Where.  I am going to do them in order of Who, Where and What.  There is a reason for my madness.  The first and the last entries are the important ones - the Who and the What.  The who describes who I am and how I became to be exactly as I am today.  Most of this is disjointed thoughts and ideas but each one is important in defining who I am.  The what entry will describe what I am doing in life and what it is that I hope to achieve by my time on this planet.  The Where is much less important, that entry will describe how the places I have been have changed and influenced me.

I got the idea for doing this series of posts when I was looking through lots of old family photos and seeing pictures of myself at a young age.  I thought it would be interesting to spell out these different aspects of myself as I saw myself through the old pictures.

One important point to note:  I am purposefully obscuring some of the information that I presenting.  I do not want to put so much information out there that I give away things that would let people determine my personal information like my social security number, etc.  (Identity thieves if they know your birthday and the town in which you were born can figure out your social security number.  That is very scary but 100% true.)

My given name at birth was Gerald Francis Kromer.  Though I go by Jerry Kromer.  Neither of these is my actual legal name.

Though my early years everyone called me Gerald.  It wasn't until I was on my own in college that I told people to call me Jerry.  In all honesty I do not like my given name.  To this day most of my brothers and sisters still call me Gerald.  My nickname within the family is "Zard".  It is a shortened version of a long nickname that I had as a young kid.

I was named after my maternal grandfather - Frank.  Though his given name was Francisek - Polish for Francis.

I was born in January in the mid 1960's in a small town in Western Pennsylvania to parents who were both college professors. 

I was the youngest of 5 children and I had a happy childhood, free of any kind of abuse, turmoil, family dis-function or any negative events.  It was a happy time that I still cherish in my heart today.

 (Me when I was 4 or 5 years old.)

(On the floor with the dog we got when I was 4 years old - Tara)

(With my brothers and sisters eating watermelon on the wall next to our drive way.  From left to right - Lesley, me, Stephanie, Tim and Paul.)

(On a pony with my two sisters standing in front.)

(I'm guessing I was about 13 or 14 when this picture was taken.  Tara was my favorite buddy!)

There was a four year difference between me and my next oldest brother.

By the time I came along my brothers and sisters had done a good job wearing my parents out.  So while they had many rules and regulations growing up, I seemed to get away with murder.

My younger years were marked by a persistent shyness that earned me the nickname "Silent Sam" from my mom.

(Get a look at those pants - definitely 1970's fashion.  I even look shy in this picture!)

Because I was so small in comparison to my classmates and my hand motor functions were poor, I was held back from 1st grade and had to go to kindergarten for 2 years in a row.  I always make the joke that I flunked kindergarten as a result.

My mom was a devote Catholic.  As a result I was educated at Catholic schools.  Because the Catholic school nearest to my home wasn't that great (at least in my parent's opinion) each day they drove me 10 miles into a much larger town to go to school there.

We lived out in the middle of no where in a small town called Norvelt.  Given the age difference between me and my siblings, I ended up spend a fair amount of time to myself. 

Our home backed to a significant wooded area that I made my haunt.  I knew every trail, stream, hiding place, old cabin, - everything that woods had to offer.

When I was about 8 years old I started to collect stamps.  To this day I still collect them and have a massive collection of hundreds of thousands of stamps.

Throughout elementary school I did well but I wasn't an exceptional student.  I scored really high on all the standardized tests but my grades in my classes definitely weren't exceptional.

Boy scouts was an important part of my childhood.  I joined when I was 11 years old and did my first extended time away from my parents that summer.  The trip was a six day 52 mile hiking trip.  The back pack stretched from the top of my head to just below my knees.  On the second to the last day of this trip I got caught in a massive thunder storm with another inexperienced scout.  I ended up losing half of the stuff in my back pack as I ran through the storm.  That was definitely not one of my most stellar out door achievements!

(Me and Tim with our Boy Scout Troop.  I am in the front row on the left and Tim is cat-a-corner behind me to the right.)

After elementary school my parents sent me to a Catholic High School - Greensburg Central Catholic HS.  Thankfully I had a bus to take me there as opposed to my parents driving me.  I had to walk 3/4 of mile each morning to my bus stop - the only convenience store (actually the only store) in Norvelt - "The Open Pantry".

In high school I was still really shy and only ever dated one girl throughout all of high school.  I ran track freshman through senior years.  As a senior I ran the fast time in the mile that I ever recorded - five minutes 10 seconds.  When I was a senior I was also the manager for the football team.

(Me and Paul my oldest brother.  This was definitely the early 80's Miami Vice looking style.)

 (Me looking all aloof and teenagerish.)

By the time I was 14 years old, I was riding my bicycle everywhere.  My parent had no clue but during the summer I would go out each day and ride anywhere from 30 - 50 miles from home.  Most summers I would ride my bike over 1500 miles.

I did pretty well grade wise in high school.  I usually got A's for most of my grades.  Though when I was a sophomore and junior I was convinced I didn't want to go to college.  Instead I wanted to join the military.  Not that there is anything wrong with the military, but thankfully I changed my mind and decided to go to college when I entered senior year.

In high school I lived kind of a double life.  During the school year I was low-key and well behaved.  During the summer I worked at the Camp Conestoga - the Boy Scout Camp for the Westmoreland-Fayette Boy Scout Council.  Each summer I worked there, I raised as much hell as I could. Me and all my fellow camp counselors partied and just acted out of control.

When the time came for college, I applied to two - my first choice and the fall back. My first choice was the Georgetown School of Foreign Policy as I wanted to be a diplomat. Unfortunately I got wait listed there. My fall back was Carnegie Mellon University - so I ended up going there.

My first 3 weeks of university were about one thing - partying.  Thankfully after the first three weeks were over, I realized that my parents were paying $20,000 per year for my education.  So I stopped drinking and started working.

Within the first month of university I had started dating the girl that I would date for almost my entire college education - Moni.  She was of Indian origin and was from Boston.  We dated for our entire freshman, sophomore and junior years.  She broke up with me at the beginning of our senior year and that was that.

My first semester of college was my roughest in terms of the grades I got.  I only maintained a 3.25GPA that semester.  From there on out my GPA just got better with me achieving either a 3.8 or 4.0 every semester of my junior and senior years.

In October of 1984 one of my best friends from my teenage years - John Mihm was murdered.  He was shot by an assailant who he knew.  I developed a loathing of guns as a result of this.  I was haunted by nightmares for several years after John died. 

Carnegie Mellon had an excellent career center and before the start of the last semester of my senior year I already had 3 job offers.  I ended up taking the highest paying one - that was with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in Pittsburgh.  For a starting job it paid me a remarkable $25,000/year plus bonus.

I met the woman who would become my wonderful wife (Patty) in the fall of 1987.  We started dating on October 23, 1987 when we went to an REM concert together.  We would date for 7 years before we married on November 19, 1994.

(From left - my brother-in-law Paul, me, my oldest brother Paul.  Circa 1988 - This is the picture I am adding because they are so hard to find the right ones.  I have over 4 Gig of .jpgs that we scanned from my parents house after they had both passed away.)

I graduated college on May 15, 1988 and started my first day of professional work on July 25, 1988.  In the two month in-between I did pretty much about anything I could to keep my head above water financially.  My parents helped out by giving me $2,000 to get things started with life.  I used the $2,000 to buy suits and work clothes as I would have to wear a suit, a long-sleeve business shirt and a tie to work everyday.

When I first started working for Andersen Consulting, I went through 6 weeks of training in their Pittsburgh Office before being shipped off to Chicago for a month of company indoctrination.  Because it was a very hierarchy company you did want ever you were told.  My first assignments outside of training were making massive numbers of photocopies for one of our clients and escorting the luggage of visiting client executives.

Until February of 1990, I worked exclusively in Pittsburgh or the surrounding suburbs.  Then in February of 1990, I began my first out of town assignment in Minneapolis.  Back then you only got to fly home every other week.  Since I had a distinct fear of flying back then I did really mind too much.

During the summer of 1991 I took a two week hiking trip through the Wind River Range of the Rockies in Wyoming.  In the midst of a raging thunderstorm at an elevation over 11,000 I had what I consider to be the most spiritual event of my life.  I won't try to describe what happened, but it's significance to me set me on a course to move from Pennsylvania to the Rocky Mountain West.

After I started traveling, I traveled all the time for work with one short exception in 1992.  Besides that three month exception I was constantly traveling for work until Patty and I moved to Denver in 1995.

For the first 2 years of me traveling out of town, Patty would take me and pick up at the Pittsburgh airport for every one of my flights.

Patty and I spent so much time at the Pittsburgh airport that I proposed to her there in December of 1993.

In the fall of 1991, Patty became a vegetarian.  Back then it was hard to find vegetarian items in restaurants.  I became an expert in seeking out restaurants that carried vegetarian dishes.

When Patty and I got married in 1994, I used some stored up "gratitude" a partner owed me to request a transfer to Denver.  (Back then Andersen Consulting was a privately held partnership.)  Without so much as one e-mail or piece of paper, I received my transfer to Denver effective March 1, 1995.  Patty and I packed up and moved to Denver on May 1, 1995 - my father's 80's birthday.

For our honeymoon, Patty and I took a ten day trip to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.  We were there over Thanksgiving of 1994 and were surprised by all the culinary delights that were available in the islands for Thanksgiving dinner.

My family got my first dog when I was 4 years old.  Within 20 days of buying our first house Patty and I had acquired our first dog - Bailey.  In addition to Bailey I have owned three other dogs.  The current dogs in residence in our house are Lex - an 8 year old chocolate lab and Finnegan - a 1 year old mix that we got from a rescue league.

I have never voted for a Republican or conservative candidate in my life.  I am a dye-in-the-wool Democratic party member and liberal.

Zachary - my one an only son was born on my Mom's birthday in 1998.  His birth made for a special day for my Mom as she was dying of cancer at the time.  Besides Zack, Patty and I had 5 miscarriages before we gave up on the idea of having any other kids.

After Patty's Dad died in 2004, we move her Mom out to Colorado to live with us.  Nancy moved in on August 8, 2004.  We bought a new house so she could have a bedroom on the ground floor.  

Because of  my work I have flown over 1.2 millions.  Unfortunately that is split between 2 different airlines.  So I haven't become a one million mile flyer on any airline yet.

I have lived in the same neighborhood within Centennial, Colorado for the last 17 years.  During this time I have owned 2 houses in the neighborhood.

Both of my parents had died by the time I was 36.

In January of 2006 I was mistakenly diagnosed with lymphoma.  No one has ever found out what caused the acute illness I had back then, though it is thought I picked up some kind of exotic food-borne illness in my frequent travels to India in 2005.

Six months after it was discovered my diagnosis with lymphoma was incorrect, Patty was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

One of the few things I truly regret in this life is the fact that I was not at the doctor's with Patty when she found out she had leukemia.  I had a conference call for work and Patty had routine appointments with this doctor because it was suspected that she had a benign blood disorder called ITP.  So we thought it was just a routine appointment - not confirmation that she actually had leukemia.

The hardest decision I ever had to make was terminating the life support system for my wife after she had been on a ventilator for 10 days during her battle against the side of effects of a bone marrow transplant.  Her brain function had stopped and her blood oxygenation was only 64%.  The bone marrow transplant was a treatment for leukemia.

Since Patty was diagnosed with leukemia in August of 2006, I have donated almost 6 gallons of blood and platelets to Bonfils Blood Bank of Colorado.

In December of 2011 I suffered a serious back injury that has required surgery to correct.  The first round of surgery was ineffective and I will undergo a second surgery on February 29.

I am not religious but I am not an atheist.  I have my own personal spiritual belief system.

I love living in Colorado and though I may move away from here for periods of time, I will always consider Colorado home.

I have climbed 8 of the Colorado's 54 mountains with summits over 14,000 feet.  I don't think I will climb all of them because I don't like technical climbing and some of them just are too hard.

Zack is the center of my life and I will do anything to be the best parent to him that I can be.  He still mourns his Mom and had high hopes that I would get married and he would have a step-Mom but that has never come to be.

Though challenged by the loss of his Mom, Zack has demonstrated time and time again a very high intelligence.  From the time he was 5 years old he has wanted to be a physicist.  He already knows more about physics than I ever learned in my life.

I suppose I could go on - but actually I think that sums up a lot of my life.  It definitely tells a lot of the Who I am.  It was an interesting experience to write this entry.  It took me several evenings to write it.  I would write some, stop and then come back to it.  If you have never done something like this, I strongly suggest it.  It helps put your own life in a perspective you may have never looked at it before.

Well - it's Wednesday - hump day!  Yay!  So begins the slow slide into the weekend.  I will be thankful for the weekend as my head seems to be spinning from the work week as is.  On top of all that is going on with work, I had an appointment with another back doctor today and I got confirmation of what I highly suspected.  I will need a second round of back surgery to fix what is currently wrong.  As soon as I was finished meeting with the doctor for the second opinion I called my surgeon who did my first surgery to get one their schedule.  My surgery is currently scheduled for next Wednesday, February 29th at 9:00AM at Littleton Adventist Hospital.  Once again I will be hospitalized for one or two days.  I am not looking forward to the surgery, but I am looking forward to perhaps having my back finally healed.  I cannot begin to tell you what it I think it will feel like to live without pain for the first time in months.  I had a brief taste of it for 2 days after my first surgery, but I am so looking forward to long term relief!

Thanks everyone for reading!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

If Dogs Could Talk

This evening I came to bed at 11:30PM to find that I was going to have a sleeping companion.  Finnegan had gone to bed with Zack at 8:45PM and curled up right beside his boy.  The other pup - Lex - who I am starting to call "old man" because he is starting to act like he is an old man, didn't make himself available to go to bed with Zack tonight.  While Finnegan usually can't wait to go to bed with Zack, Lex is more particular and tends to find someplace quiet to sleep in the house.  As a result, to get him to sleep with Zack, I normally have to call and scream for him.  Tonight I decided he could stay where ever he was.

After Zack went to bed, I went back downstairs to do some additional work and then watch TV.  I did keep any track of Lex.  But as I entered my room in total darkness except from the glow of my laptop as I carried it upstairs with me, I knew there was a puppy in my room.  I could hear Lexie softly snoring as I entered the room.  Sure enough, once I turned the light on I found him lying the entire way across my bed.  Needless to say I needed to re-arrange him so I could actual get into the bed and assume my normal sleeping place.

As I plopped down on the bed I started to wonder if each of the dogs could say just one word, what would it be.  I thought about this for 30 seconds and I knew exactly what Finnegan would say.  His word was so obvious it really didn't take any thought.  Finn's word would be - Love.  There seems to be very little other than love that drives and inspires Finnegan.  Though I have owned dogs for almost my entire life I have never met a dog that so seeks out love more than Finn.  He craves love and he wants to give love.  It is as if he really understands how mistreated he had been as a puppy and just wants everyone to know how grateful he is for getting a good home and a chance at life.

The story of Finnegan's early life is not a pretty story.  I am not sure if I have mentioned it here in the blog before or not.  Finn's entire litter was abandoned, basically thrown out like trash.  Some very nice person rescued the pups and took them to the Max Fund, a no-kill shelter in Denver.  Though because they were so cute those puppies would have been adopted anywhere.  For whatever reason Finn seems to sense what his original fate was and now appreciates every second of life.  His ability to display love and receive affection is remarkable.  So I am pretty sure if he could say one word it would be love.

Now as for Lex, that is a much harder story to tell and a much harder effort to figure out his word.  As I think about it I think his word would be his name.  He would just say "Lex".  I think this because he is such a unique dog.  I have never met a dog that has such a unique personality as does Lex.  He can be very loving and affectionate, but at the same time he is aloof and likes to go his own way.  There are very few words that can describe him as he is totally his own character.  So I really think his word, said with a little bit of snobbishness to his voice would be "Lex".  No other way to put it than that.

The puppy who we lost back in July of 2010 was named Bailey.  His word if would have been fun.  Bailey was all about having a ball or a frisbee in his mouth.  He lived to be a dog's dog and to have fun.  This may sound a bit funny but he took being a dog very seriously and was so strong.  But his goal in life was to have fun - to chase the birds, to catch a ball, to go swimming in a river - that's what Bailey was all about!

I love each and every dog I have ever had.  Life just won't be life with out these beautiful souls in my life.  If you have dogs stop and take a look at them.  Try and imagine what one word they would say if they could say a word.  It's a fun exercise and makes you think of what the essence of your pup is.

With that four-legged thought for the evening I will leave you.  Though I know so few of my readers like to leave comments, if you have a dog and can think of what word it would say if it could say one word, leave a comment and explain what they would say.  I'd love to hear what you all have to say.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Counting The Days....

It's Presidents Day!  The greatest holiday.....  in the 3rd week of February.  It's not even the greatest holiday in February as Valentine's Day kind of kick's Presidents Day's butt.  Though this holiday is a celebration of our nation's history and heritage, there really isn't anything that remarkable about it.  Are there any special Presidents Day traditions?  There aren't any of them that I am aware of.  I guess the closest thing that comes to a Presidents Day tradition are cherry pies and that isn't even that big of a tradition.  Cherry pies are a Presidents Day tradition because George Washington chopped down his father's cherry tree and couldn't lie about it.

One of the things that becomes a little bit of a tradition concerning Presidents Day for me, is that I really start to notice that the days are becoming much longer.  This afternoon as I sat here at the kitchen table working, I noticed that at 5:30PM and the sun was still fully in the sky and not yet even near the horizon.  Slowly but surely spring is coming and the days are getting longer!

With that thought in mind it made me think of a number of special things to which I am counting down.  During this time of year it is always easy for me to become depressed.  The weather is traditionally crappy, there aren't any major holidays taking place, the days are short and the nights long and February has a lot of difficult anniversaries for me.  To keep myself from focusing on those things and the things that depress me, I instead like to think of upcoming events that are going to be fun and joyful.  On top of that I am a huge numbers person.  I tend to count everything, keep lots of lists and just remember lots of things to do with numbers and dates.  So tracking the number of days until special event A or special event B occurs is just part of who I am.  Here's a list of things that I am currently tracking and how many days until they occur.

Event:                                                                               Number of Days Til Event:
Second and Hopefully Final Back Surgery                                            8
Start of Daylight Savings Time                                                             19
St. Patrick's Day and the Big Beer Blast                                              26
Arrival of our "Special Package" - more on this later                            29
Start of Spring Break and Flight to Costa Rica                                    33 
Estimated Start of Kitchen Remodel                                                    49
Flight to Reykjavik, Iceland for start of Summer Vacation                    138

So these are the main events that I have planned and scheduled throughout the spring and early summer.  There will be a lot of other things taking place in the June time frame for which I don't yet have dates.  There are numerous 14er climbs that are planned with several groups I have joined in the last several months, along with weekend camping trips and hikes.  There will be lots more on those events later.

As for the arrival of my "special package"... In the future I will write a whole blog entry about this.  But it is something for Zack and me.  It will help us with a lot things and will make Zack potentially one of the happiest kids around.  I'll talk about this more sometime in the future.

We have had a slow and low-key long weekend.  My life continues to be haunted by the pain of my back injury.  Depending upon what I am doing on what day, I sometimes need to take a day or two to recover from the amount of pain incurred.  My trip for work last week took a large amount out of me and hence Friday and Saturday were recovery days. 

Saturday however was marked with a significant amount of upheaval for us as our dogs got loose and did an extended tour of the neighborhood.  Sometime on Saturday morning during their daily going on with Maggie the dog next door, Lex or Finn managed to knock one of the slats in the privacy fence loose.  They knocked it away enough so that they were able to get through the fence and roam throughout our neighbor's yard.  Unfortunately, our neighbor's yard is not entirely fenced and they were able to get free.  I left them out sometime around 1:30PM or so and we didn't determine they were missing until after 2:30PM.  So they potentially had an hours head start upon us.  This was not good.

While I took off in the car to ensure they hadn't gone to County Line Road or C470, Zack began a methodical search of each of our neighbor's yards.  After about 15 minutes and numerous neighbor's yards, Zack managed to find Lex down over the hill in one of our neighbor's yard on E. Phillips Place.  Zack got a hold of him and marched Lex back home.  He then called me to report his progress at which point I came home.  I was very concerned that Finn was separated from Lex.  No matter what, Lex won't go far.  He is acutely aware of where his food comes from and he doesn't like to get too far from that.  Other times he has gotten loose he always comes back within 30 minutes or so.  Finn doesn't yet have that instinct and I was upset that he had separated from Lex.

We got Lex situated back in the house and we were standing in the driveway making plans as to how we would search and we heard the jingle, jangle of Finnegan's collar.  Sure enough, there he was loping down the road towards the house.  Boy were we glad to see him!

The boys must have had some adventures while they were gone as they were tired and slept the entire rest of the day.  Waking Finnegan later in the afternoon for his dinner was like pulling teeth!  I fixed the fence immediately and we will never have this kind of problem again!

I have to say, Zack impressed me greatly with his behavior during this crisis.  He was steadfast in his efforts to find the dogs and didn't start acting like a child by wailing or crying.  He grimly, but with great determination went after the dogs.  He worked methodically - going from yard to yard and he made the difference in finding them!  Great job Zack!

It is very interesting to watch Zack right now as he is physically growing a ton and he is also really doing so much to improve his efforts around his anxiety and his overall maturity.  He still doesn't have it all figured out, but just the difference that has appeared in him in the last 2 months has been remarkable.

That's about it for us.  Zack has another day off of school tomorrow.  I am not exactly sure why Cherry Creek has two days in a row off, but I will go with it.  I have an appointment with an orthopedic back surgeon on Wednesday morning to give me a second opinion about what I should do.  The question isn't whether to have surgery or not as I will be having surgery - it is more a question of what kind of surgery should I have.  Despite my physical pain I am tired of not doing much of anything, so there are quite a number of activities on the agenda for this week.  I am really looking forward to it as I have been living the life of a social hermit for way too long.  It's good to be busy for change as opposed to having nothing going on.

I hope everyone has a great week ahead.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I believe in the goodness of people and of life.

It has been a long day that started over 1000 miles away from where the day is ending for me.  So I am tired.  I am tired physically but I also feel an extreme mental and emotional weariness.

I had more conversations today than I have had in a long time.  Yes, some of that was driven by the fact that I met an entirely new delivery team at my company's delivery center in Daleville, IN.  Additionally, I spent over 4 hours in the Indianapolis airport waiting on my delayed fight.

When you wait for a delayed flight you tend to have lots of conversations - either with the other people who are also stranded or you spend time whiling away the hours talking to your friends on your cell phone - which I did a lot of that.

What did I learn from all this talking today?  I had a reaffirmation of some of my deepest held beliefs.  Those beliefs are that people are good and life is good.  I am not going to explain why I was feeling this, all I want to do is reiterate the point.  Life is good!  People are good!  That's it!

Hope everyone has a great weekend ahead.

Thanks and peace to all ~ J.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Memo To the Powers That Be

Please note: Today’s blog post is written entire in jest.  I do not believe in a superior being who determines our fate.  My personal spiritual system believes in a benign creator who takes no active role in our lives nor does he care about us personally.  I know that might be a controversial view but it’s just what I believe.  Of course when I am scared out of my wits that I am going to get killed or I need something to happen really badly I am know to mutter a “prayer” or two under my breath.


From: Jerry Kromer

To: The Powers That Be

Subject: Knock off all the Bad Stuff

You! Yeah you!  Yes you!  God, Allah, Buddha, Jupiter, Apollo, Jehovah, The Force, Ahura Mazda, Yahweh – whatever you want to call your (selves).  You superior being(s) who control our fate – that’s who I am talking to!

I am tired of you messing with me.  It’s time for you to go and pick on someone else for a change.  I think the all the challenges, stress and strain you have put me through has been overdone and now it is time to let me have some good luck.

Yes that’s right you big superior snotty being, I want to have some good luck.  How about you let me win the next Powerball lottery that goes above $200 million?  Or how about letting me have the girl in my life that I really want?  Or at least let my kid get over the anxiety stuff.  There’s plenty of good luck things that you could grant me – how about it?

If you feel that I am over reaching by any one of those requests I will even settle for less.  I will settle for just no more challenges or stress.  For example – let’s just look at yesterday and see what kind of challenges I had.  First I wake up groaning in pain because my back hurts so much.  Second, my eight year old chocolate lab manages to get his big mouth on a box of cookie dough pop tarts.  The fact that Lex ate 6 cookie dough pop tarts really isn’t a big deal when he eats them at 7:00AM, however it became a really big deal at 2:00AM this morning when he is whining and whimpering to go outside and do his duty because his tummy hurts from eating all that stuff.  The third thing was a stroke of genius for you boneheads.  You had me go to the hospital, get an MRI and then find out I have to have more surgery on my back.  That was really good.  One of you supreme beings must be a real jokester because you really left me laughing at that one.  Then just to make sure there is a topper to them all, you made sure Nancy couldn’t fully pull her car into the driveway so it’s back end is in a perfect spot for me to hit it with the Explorer when I am pulling out of the driveway.  I liked the last one, as it was a really good one.  That one keep me laugh so hard I ended up crying into my dinner.  You guys sure know how to work a crowd.

So big guys in the sky – what ever flavor of religion you truly are how about lying off of me for a little bit and just letting things go my way?  What do you say?  If you want I’ll go find a chicken somewhere and sacrifice it to you – is that a good enough payment to get all these challenges to end?  I am sure you will have no problem finding another poor schlep like me to torture with some really good challenges!


Which God is yours?

That was just a little bit of humor to highlight what a great day yesterday was.  Today has definitely been a little bit better.  The only challenge I have had all day is that my flight to Indianapolis is running about 1.5 hours late.  .

This trip to Indianapolis will be really quick and straightforward.  The meetings tomorrow are with our service delivery team for a client.  The purpose of the meetings is to do an operational review of our work for this client and see where new processes and systems are needed.

I am meeting my boss at the Indianapolis airport.  We are then getting a car and driving to the work site which is about 70 miles away.  Hopefully this will be a good visit with the project team.  By this time tomorrow night I will already be on my way home. 

It will be interesting to see how Zack does this evening.  Often when I am not around he will give whoever is there with him a very hard time.  In some ways he doesn't mean to, but in other ways I think he knows that he can take advantage of someone else.  Nancy is staying with Zack while I am gone.  She came over to the house on Tuesday because she was afraid it was going to snow today. 

Since Nancy moved to Cranbrook I think we have done this kind of arrangement about 4 or 5 times.  If I am going some where in which I am going to be getting home really late, instead of getting some one else to stay with Zack, Nancy will volunteer to do it.  She seems to enjoy coming and staying with Zack.  The move to Cranbrook has made her appreciate the time she spends with Zack that much more.  Whereas before she moved, she got to see him every day.  So she never really total advantage of the time to really spend time with Zack and understand him.  She is doing a lot more of spending quality time with Zack.  So that is very good.

Oh - I got to meet my boss for the first time this evening.  I am writing from this paragraphy onward in the hotel once we reached here this evening.  I have spent enough time over the last year talking with my boss on the phone that I really wasn't surprise by how she looked.  I had seen one picture of her before on my company's Intranet, so that helped me not to be surprised.

I suppose I should wrap things up for the evening.  I am tired from my traveling and right now I am kind of out of it because I took my pain pills just a little while ago.  There is one big downside to the pain pills - they make you itchy.  Of times they make my nose very itchy which drives me insane!

Have a great night!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Keep It Positive

Sometimes when I have something on my mind that is important or close to me, I will write a blog entry and then never post it.  I tend to use the blog like a diary and write about what ever is on my mind - but it doesn't mean I post it all the time.  That is exactly what I have been doing the last several days.  I wanted to get my thoughts down "on paper" if you will, but I didn't feel like having everyone read them.  A secret of mine is that I usually go back and then publish those entries several days or weeks later.  Those posts publish out onto the web with the date and time I originally wrote them instead of the current date and time.  You can choose different settings for how the blog entries post to the web.  My default is to publish the article with the date and time I wrote it as opposed to the time it posted.  Given that Blogger.Com stores everything by chronological order the posts I add that way look like they were published a long time ago.  There might be all kinds of things that I have written and people don't know about.....  I might have some pretty interesting secrets out there.  :-)

All fooling around aside, I did write a bunch of stuff over the last 5 days and I just haven't published it.  My mind has been in non-stop action but most of what I have written has been stuff that I keep pretty close to the vest.  Maybe I will publish it, but not this week.

My blog title speaks to an important goal that I must meet.  I normally don't have any problems keeping things positive, but this week my resolve and my general upbeat demeanor is tending to break down a little bit.  The major reason for me having to work at keeping it positive is the situation with my back injury.  It has now been 2 weeks since I had the surgery on my back and the outcomes my surgeon and I sought from the surgery have not been achieved.  The key outcome that was sought from this surgery was the elimination of the "radiating" pain that originates between my L4 and L5 vertebrae and then travels through my left gluteus maximus and gluteus medius (my butt) muscles, into my left thigh, through my knee and goes into my left calf.  The elimination of this pain is important because the pain is debilitating and prevents me from living the type of life that I want as it makes it almost impossible to walk and move.  The only way I can manage the pain is through the use of extensive amounts of Advil and the pain killer oxycodone.  I really don't want to be on either of these medications for any kind of duration.

Today was the 2 week follow up appointment with my surgeon.  So that he could understand what was going on, I first had an MRI.  I arrived at Littleton hospital shortly before noon so that I could be processed and have my MRI.  I know some people have a hard time with MRI's because it is somewhat of a claustrophobic setting.  You have to enter a tube that is only slightly bigger than your body and then you have to lay there for between 20 and 30 minutes while images are taken of the desired parts of your body.  The output of MRI's is really cool looking as the doctors can see just about everything that makes up your body.  It helps them see all kinds of detail that otherwise they could only see by cutting into you.

As soon as I was completed with my MRI, I headed over to the surgeon's office for my appointment.  The first step in the appointment was to talk with the surgeon's assistant or secretary.  (She's not a medical assistant, she just takes notes and does his scheduling.)  She wrote up notes about how much pain I was in, how the incision had healed, etc.  I could tell from reading her body language that she didn't like hearing what I was telling her.  After that assistant, the surgeon's nurse practitioner came in to talk to me as the surgeon was busy with another patient.  I described everything to her about how I had at first felt relief from the pain and then how it came back early last week.  She presented everything I knew from the previous conversations and then she got to the kicker - the findings from the MRI I had just before arriving at their office.  The news from the MRI certainly wasn't good - it was down right disturbing, upsetting, infuriating and unbelievable.  This MRI in comparison to the MRI I had done immediately after my surgery showed that the herniated disc had reoccurred.  Basically this last MRI looked like the surgery had never taken place.  When I heard that my jaw pretty much hit the floor.

The odds of having a "recurrent" herniated disc are only five percent.  The odds of having a "recurrent" herniated disc within 2 weeks of surgery are unbelievably low - but that is exactly what happened to me.  There is no known rhyme or reason as to why this has happened to me again and in such a short amount of time.  Regardless of the odds it has happened to me and now I have to deal with the ramifications from this second herniated disc.

After I had talked to the nurse practitioner for a while, the surgeon came in and gave me a few more details about what the MRI had shown.  Then the conversation switched to "what are we going to do about this".  There are basically 3 different paths that I can follow to resolve this problem.  The first path is to do nothing and just deal with the pain through medication and tolerance of the pain.  The second path is to do a variation of the surgery I had 2 weeks ago.  The third and last path is the most radical and invasive option - it would involve surgically stabilizing the juncture of my two vertebrae with steel rods and screws.

The question becomes what am I going to do?  The first path of just meds and living with the pain isn't going to work.  The lifestyle that I choose to live is full of activity and doing lots and lots of things.  The ongoing pain or pain pills that I would have to take is something that I just do not want to bear.  So this option is not even a real choice for me.  The third path just seems way to invasive and risky to me.  This option is what is normally referred to as "fusing" the vertebrae.  This procedure adds a tremendous amount of stability to the effected area and ensures that you do not have to deal with a herniated disc in that exact place.  However, there is a twenty percent chance that at some point you will have to deal with another herniated disc at one of the anchor points.  In the end run, this solves your problem for a time but in the long run you might be dealing with bigger problems.  That leaves option two which is a variation of the procedure I had done two weeks ago.  This procedure is called a laminectomy.  If you want to read more about what a laminectomy is here is a link to a Wikipedia article about it.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laminectomy   In this situation the surgeon will do a lot more than just take out the portion of the disc that has herniated.  Instead he will take out a much larger portion of the disc and more of the vertebrae itself.  Supposedly this will give the disc more room to expand without herniating. 

To cap everything off, the surgeon wants to do this surgery as soon as possible.  His viewpoint is that the incision from the last surgery hasn't totally healed and the area hasn't formed any scar tissue yet.  If he operates before scar tissue forms then the surgery will be easier and he will have an easier time maneuvering around the vertebrae.  Based upon what I know of his schedule - he only operates on Mondays and Wednesdays, I think it will be at least until next Wednesday for Surgery Take II.

I am definitely not feeling happy with all of this.  I am just tired of living with the pain and all the complications that have occurred from this injury.  Unfortunately this is currently my lot in life.  And so I have to make the best of it that I can.  There is no use in getting all down on my luck and feeling sad and depressed.  It will take work to avoid feeling that way, but it is something that I really have to do.  No one else is going to help me be happy.  So I need to do it all myself.

It's been 5 days since I have posted and to be honest there hasn't been a whole heck of a lot going on.  Obviously the issue with my back has been the primary concern for me.  Last Friday we went to see the Cirque du Soleil show Dralion at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield.  That was a very enjoyable time!  The rest of the weekend was about working and getting things done.

Though today is Valentine's Day I don't have any social plans.  I could have if I wanted to as a female friend of mine wanted me to go out, but I made the decision not to partake in Valentine's Day.  My heart definitely wasn't into it.  And then the real kick in the pants was getting the news from the surgeon.  As I have sat here and thought about it throughout the evening, I have grown more depressed about the situation.  Oh well - I guess time to put on my big boy pants and deal with it.

Tomorrow I head out of town for the next two days.  I am flying to Indianapolis and then I am meeting up with my boss and driving another 70 miles to a small town called Daleville.  Thursday is filled with business meetings all day and then a late evening flight back to Denver.  I am hoping this will be a good visit with our client as I feel I will be doing this trip quite a few times in the coming months.  Zack will be staying here at home and Nancy will be coming over from Cranbrook to spend the time with him.

So what to say to all of this?  More than anything right now I want to two things.  The first is I want to be free of this pain.  The second thing I want is just to be happy.  I think just maybe it is time for these two things to come true.

Hope you all are having a great week so far.

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Hidden Post

I often find that I have a lot of things to say on the blog, but I don't always like to share them at the exact moment they come into my head.  What I have decided to do is to write these blog entries and then not publish them for a while.  I am in the mood not to share everything with everyone at this second, so I will write but it is going to be a while before I publish them.

I haven't published a blog entry since last Thursday and I am going to keep this streak running for a while.  It sounds totally and completely juvenile, but some times I do value having a little bit of privacy.

It's been another weekend of not exactly that much going on.  Our big event for the weekend took place on Friday evening when we went to see the Cirque du Soleil show "Dralion" at the 1stBank Event Center in Broomfield.  I am trying to count it up in my head, but I believe this is the sixth Cirque du Soleil show I have seen over the years.  I saw my first Cirque show in 2000 when I was in Las Vegas for a business trip - that show was Mystere.  In 2004 I saw La Nouba when we took a family vacation to Disney World.  Then during the summer of 2010 I took a week long road trip with my friend Ruben that included a several day long stop in Las Vegas.  Ruben's goal as part of our trip was to see every Cirque du Soleil show that was playing in Las Vegas.  All told I believe Ruben saw 6 or the 7 Cirque shows while we were in Vegas.  I choose to only see 4 of the 7 as I wanted to have some shows to see the next time I went to Las Vegas. 

Dralion is a fantastic show and holds very strongly to the Cirque tradition.  The abilities of the performers to do amazing feats with their bodies is remarkable.  The depth of the talent of these individuals is incomprehensible.  Each performer has several different things at which they are very good.  Their skills are not just relegated to one specific area, they perform in multiple areas of the show and highlight their balance, concentration, strength and dexterity.  How I would love to have the physical skills of one of those performers.

Zack wasn't exactly happy about going to see the show.  We left for the show right after his psychologist appointment as I expected a lot of heavy traffic.  It was good we left when we did as it took as over an hour and 15 minutes to arrive.  We still had 45 minutes to wait until the show started once we arrived so that frustrated the hell out of Zack.  Once the show started however, he was very eager to watch and sat there just captivated by all that happened in the show.  I was so glad that in the end run he did enjoy the show.

The rest of our weekend was exceedingly lackluster.  Given the amount of pain in my back there wasn't much that I wanted to do.  I am growing continually tired of my back hurting and taking so much away from my life.  I cannot begin to tell you how boring it is.  I can no longer do the things I love like hiking, skiing, working out at the gym and running.  Besides the fact that I love doing these things they are also great stress relievers for me.  Not being able to do these things has increases my stress levels and my blood pressure to a significant degree.  I am hoping I will get some good answers to my issues when I see the neurosurgeon on Tuesday.

I guess there isn't too much more to say for this post.  I am not posting this right now just because I want to remain behind the scenes.  I am trying to figure somethings out in my heart about all that is taking place.  By laying low and not publishing everything right now I am do a better job of figuring some of these things out.  I hope you all understand - if you send me an e-mail and I will spell it out completely.  I just don't feel like doing that for the entire world to see.

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ten Years Later - We Still Miss You Dad

As we journey through life we build up anniversaries of things that have happened to us or affected us.  For me, I seem to remember anniversaries of just about everything because I am very good with remembering dates.  If you were to give me a date I can pretty much tell you what I was doing on that day.  I am not 100% accurate or precise, but I have a high-level idea of where I was (which is a big deal since I used to travel so much for work), what kind of work I was doing for my company and what was going on in the lives of Patty and Zack.  In general, I just have a thing for remembering what happened on what date - it is weird but it is who I am.

I mention the topics of anniversaries because today is one of those anniversaries.  Today is the 10th anniversary of my father's death.  He died early in the morning of February 9, 2002.  Unlike when my Mom died I was not there with my father when he passed away.

My Dad was eighty-six when he died.  Because of his age and issues with his heart, he was on the blood thinner Warfarin.  Additionally, he had other issues that made him susceptible to gastrointestinal bleeding.  Sometime during the day of  January 15, 2002 he started to have some GI bleeding from his stomach.  Since he was on the blood thinner, this meant it would be very difficult for the bleeding to stop without some kind of medical intervention.  So he went to the hospital to be treated for this issue.

To stop the bleeding he had to undergo a GI procedure that would allow a surgeon to go in and cauterize the area of this stomach that was bleeding.  The procedure was pretty much an endoscopy except with an instrument that would allow the surgeon to stop the bleeding. One of the stated risks associated with a procedure like that is that the patient's stomach could be punctured.  As the procedure was ending and the surgeon was withdrawing the instrument, that is exactly what happened - he punctured my father's stomach.  This is a bad thing to have happen even if you are young and health.  If you are old and not in good health this is pretty much a catastrophe.  Once this happened, the surgeon had no choice but to cut my Dad open and fix the puncture he made.  To a large degree however the damage was already done because of all the trauma that had occurred and the fact that my father's abdominal cavity had been infected with content from his GI tract.  All-in-all, it was a really, really bad thing to have happen.

Despite all of that, my Dad managed to hang on for another 24 days.  He was in the ICU for that entire time but he showed a lot of strength and determination to make it through this horrible situation.  I don't remember if he was kept in an induced coma or whether he just never regained consciousness after the surgery.  Regardless he was not awake at all during this time.

When all of this went down I was working for a client in California.  So instead of flying home to Denver for the weekend, I took off a day earlier and flew to Pennsylvania to be there with the rest of my family.  As the next week approached I made arrangements so that I could be in Pennsylvania for a longer period of time.  That Sunday I flew back to California and arranged things with work so that I could leave mid-week, fly to Denver and then get Patty, Zack and the dogs and drive to Pennsylvania as I had no idea how long the situation was going to go.  On top of that Patty and I had been talking that she wanted to spend a good chunk of time in Pittsburgh visiting with her parents.  So it made for a good situation - by driving our car out there Patty would have our car and it also allowed up to take our dogs with us.

Then after spending 3+ straight weeks away from home I really needed to go to Denver for a weekend and check on the house and make sure everything was alright.  So the weekend of February 9th I flew from San Jose to Denver and was going to spend the weekend around the house taking care of things.  I had arrived home late on the evening of February 8th.  When the phone rang the next morning around 6:30AM, I knew exactly what the phone call was about - my Dad had passed away a short time before.  I wasn't there with him when he died.  I do wish I could have been there with him as I think being with someone when they die is a very special thing for both the person leaving this world and for those who will go on in this world.

It has now been 10 years since he died - what should I say about my Dad?  First I guess I should write just a little bit more about who he was.  His name was Paul Frederick Kromer and he was born on May 1, 1915 in the small town of Aspinwall, Pennsylvania.  Like many births at that time, he was born in his parents house.  The doctor had been called for but my grandparents lived half way up a very steep hill and the doctor lived down along the river at the base of the hill.  So by the time the doctor got there my Dad had already entered this world.

For the times my father's family was relatively well off.  His father, Wilhelm Frederick Kromer has immigrated from Germany in 1903 for a job in Pittsburgh with the HK Porter Steam Locomotive Company.  Over time my grandfather rose through the ranks to become the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Company with the corresponding pay that went with a job like that.  Even during the depression, my father's family did relatively well and didn't experience any significant downturn in their fortunes.  After graduating from Aspinwall High School my Dad went onto to study (History - I believe) at the University of Pittsburgh.  While there he played in the school's marching band and was a member of ROTC.  At the conclusion of college he went on to study at the University of Iowa for a master's degree in Political Science.  Somewhere along the line he was also called to active duty in the US Army as a Second Lieutenant.  Fortunately for his family he didn't last long in the army as he was discharged due to a medical condition.  They didn't have the technology for it then but in later years it was found that he had a hole in one of the chambers of his heart.  This caused all kinds of issues for him throughout his life.  But back in 1940 this medical issue kept him from being shipped off to the Philippines to be part of the American military force there.  Had he gone to the Philippines in 1940 in all likelihood I won't exist as the vast majority of those soldiers who were part of that army task force were captured by the Japanese when the Philippines fell in early 1942.  And we all know what happened to them - The Bataan Death March.  So though I am sure it didn't feel good to my Dad to be discharged from the Army at that time of national crisis when all his buddies were serving it at least kept him alive.

(My Dad in his early years - most likely before high school.)

(My Dad's college graduation picture)

(My Dad at our home in Norvelt, Pennsylvania.  He is holding my oldest brother Paul in this picture.)

(My Dad teaching one of his classes at Seton Hill College.)

(My Dad with my Mom - I think shortly after they met.)

(My Dad on his 80th birthday - May 1, 1995)

During the war he worked at variety of different jobs.  He taught at this university or that university.  When school wasn't in session he spent time working in the steel mills of Pittsburgh doing quality assurance on the steel and other metals that produced for the war effort.  Before the end of the war he landed a full time teaching job at a little Catholic Women's College by the name of Seton Hill in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.  Once he got that job, it was the job he held for the rest of his life until his retirement in 1981.

My Dad didn't marry until he was forty-one years old in 1956.  My parents waited another 2 years until they had their first child - my oldest brother Paul.  After that they had 3 more kids in the next 4 years.  Then they waited until 4 years until I appeared on the scene in 1966.

I did love my father though there were plenty of times he which he and I strongly disagreed about things.  In retrospect the things that we disagreed about are pretty darn silly now, but back then neither of us could see that it was silly.  We both held our ground and of course this caused for some great amounts of hurt and pain to evolve between us.  As the youngest in the family however, I think my relationship with my Dad was pretty good.

After my mom passed away in 1999 I tried to make it a habit to talk to him every day.  Some days the conversations were difficult as he did have a little trouble remembering things and he could be cranky as all heck.  Regardless I also think all those conversations were special.  I used many of the conversations to come to understand about his life and the things he had done and accomplished.  It is difficult to realize that he has been gone for 10 years now.  I have a hard time comprehending that.  I think the good thing about 10 years having passed is that my thoughts about my Dad are much more positive.  The difficulties and arguments we had when I was a teenager and a twenty something are now long in the past.  Instead of thinking of those things when I remember him, I now think about all the positive things I learned from him and all the good things that he did.

Even 10 years on you're still missed Dad.  As I have aged since your passing I have come to appreciate many of the things that you taught me.  I am glad you were my Dad.

It is hard to believe it is already Thursday!  I can't believe how quickly the weeks are flying by.  It seems like it was just yesterday that we were celebrating New Years and now one entire month of the new year is already complete and we are already 1/3 of the way through February!

As the days have passed since the surgery on my back the pain has been playing a game with me.  There have been days like Saturday and Sunday in which there has been no pain.  Unfortunately for the last 2 days I have had extensive amounts of pain.  Unless I take the Advil and my pain pills every 3 - 4 hours I am feeling as much pain as I felt before the surgery.  Bottom line is that this stinks.  My next scheduled appointment with the surgeon is for next Tuesday so I am hoping to have some answers at that point.  I talked his PA today and they are having me get another MRI on Tuesday before the appointment. My gut is telling me that I will have to undergo another round of surgery.  I don't know if I have continued to bleed into the my spinal column or if there is still some piece of the disc that is floating around in there.  Regardless if I have to undergo another round of surgery that will really stink!!

Zack has continued to amaze me and his teachers at school.  It is like he is finally "getting it".  Don't get me wrong he is by far not perfect, but the amount of improvement that he has experienced since he went on the new medication is pretty profound.  We are still working on anxiety issues before school and right when he goes to bed, but it is as if all other anxiety has disappeared from him.  He never ceases to amaze me - in a very positive way.

Today I had the first meeting with the designer who I have selected to design the kitchen.  She came and did measurements of everything and we had a conversation about how I wanted the layout to look.  The layout is going to be a radical departure from the way the kitchen currently looks.  With this new layout, I think that the space will be better utilized and it will make for a great room in which to entertain and hang out.  Getting this work done will really allow me so much flexibility in terms of what I want to do.  The remodel will make the house look better and sell quicker if I go that route.  Which is the route that I am thinking at this time - however I have to figure out the timing of that because I want Zack to be able to finish middle school at West.  If I decide to stay in the house, it is going to make things so much nicer I can't begin to tell you!  Based upon our discussions this afternoon, it looks like they will be able to begin demolition in early April.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I was starting to track from what countries this blog was read.  As of today, people in 66 different countries have read the blog since the middle of January.  Late last night I even got a hit from Vientiane.  Any one care to guess what country Vientiane is the capital of? Ok - I won't keep you all in suspense. LOL!  It is the capital of Laos.  I mean there are some countries that are off the beaten track, but then there are countries like Laos.  That is really off the beaten track!!!  The Internet is truly global, but that is one country I won't have suspected to ever get a hit from.

Not much else going on in our world.  Both Zack and I are looking forward to tomorrow (Friday) night as we are going to see the Cirque du Soleil show Dralion at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield.  I absolutely love Cirque du Soleil shows.  Two summers ago when my friend Ruben and I went to Las Vegas, I saw 4 of the 8 Cirque du Soleit shows that are performed in Las Vegas.  (Ruben on the other hand saw all of them except for one!  Yes - he is a Cirque fanatic!) So that will be great time for both Zack and me.

I thought I was done with this post when I spied a story on MSNBC.  I just read that Beyonce and Jay-Z have filed paper work to trademark their baby's name.  That makes me want to vomit.  Let your child be a kid.  Hell - let your child be a baby.  Their daughter was only born 3 weeks ago and they are already thinking about trademarking their kid's name!!  How can they do that?  Are you so concerned about money that you need to trademark your kid's name???  Literally this makes me nauseated.  Oh and by the way - what is the baby's name?  Blue Ivy.  Did they come up with that name so that they can create a line of kid's clothing called that?  Pathetic!!

That's it for this Thursday evening!  I hope everyone has had a great day and is looking forward to the weekend ahead.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Stirring the Pot of Controversy

As I started out the day, I had no plan to write a blog entry this evening.  I had my mind set on writing a blog entry for tomorrow - February 9th, because it as anniversary of something important.  Though I didn't plan on writing this post I decided to write it after glancing at MSNBC.Com late this afternoon and finding two very interesting articles about the same subject. 

I really had to really think about whether or not to write this blog entry as the whole topic is somewhat controversial and puts a lot of my personal life out there under a microscope.  But I don't care about that.  I think it is an important enough subject to write about.  And yes to my friends I can hear you all saying - "oh dear god, what is he going to write about now!"  Really it isn't too bad, I am just going to write about sex - well, more specifically the lack thereof.

I decided to write about this today because the articles on MSNBC that I saw were about 2 two celebrities and the fact that they have been celibate for a long time.  The celebrities are Courtney Cox and Tim Gunn.  (If you have never heard of Tim Gunn - neither had I.  He is a "mentor" on the Project Runway TV show.)  Courtney Cox, in an interview with Howard Stern of all people said that she had been celibate since she and David Arquette broke up.  The address for that article is:

 (Picture courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.)

I don't know how long Courtney and David have been broken up, but if my memory serves me correctly it has been awhile. So kudos to Courtney for standing up for something that she thinks is important.

In the second article Tim Gunn revealed that he has been celibate for 29 years.  Yes, that is correct - 29 years!   The article about Tim Cunn can be found at this address on MSNBC.

(Tim Gunn photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.)

They both had different reasons for their celibacy, but the key point was they were very happy with the approaches that they had taken regarding sex.  In our over-sexed, highly glamorous society it is surprising to hear to voices from Hollywood say what they did.  And what was refreshing about it was they weren't driven to their decisions by some kind of rabid religious thought process.  I have a problem with reaching those same conclusions through a religious line of thought.  My problem with that is that the people who choose that lifestyle are doing it because it has been dictated to them by their religious leaders as opposed to their own thought processes.

As I started thinking about these articles in the light of my current status in life, they put a lot of thoughts into my head.  The first thing it made me think about was what was the longest I had gone without being with a woman and what was my motivation for doing that?  I had to sit down and think about this one and I realized that the longest I had probably gone was when Patty was sick.  After Patty was diagnosed sex really wasn't something that I thought about too much.  Life at that point was just about survival.  As I have told the story several times before on this blog I did finally give in to the desire - but if you want to read about that you have to go way back into the archives.  I think I wrote about that back in October of 2010. 

My motivations back then were driven a lot by just the need to survive.  Sex wasn't something that was important for my survival nor was it going to help me be strong for Patty.  So I didn't even need to think about that as a result.  All I needed to think about back then was taking care of Patty as best I could, raising Zack and being there if Nancy needed me.  But after I adjusted to the reality of what I was dealing with, my thoughts became a lot different and I let the weakness of my own being take over.  That was pretty darn silly of me I will admit.

My thoughts then wandered to the question of how do so many people survive when they are in situations where it isn't possible to fulfill that desire.  In particular I thought of all the soldiers that have spent year-after-year deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan.  What do they do?  It is silly but in some ways it helps you put in perspective what the people who serve in the military are sacrificing.  Heck, most of these guys and gals are in the army in the years when their peers are having the most sex and here they are out in the middle of god knows where not able to do anything with that desire.

All of this lead me to a thought of how lucky I have been throughout my life.  Ever since I went to college at the age of 18 I have been so fortunate to have had wonderful loving women in my life as partners.  In some ways it is kind of scary to think that pretty much there is an unbroken string of relationships I have had since September of 1984 when I started dating my college girlfriend.  I have tended to date very few people but the people I dated, I dated for very long periods of time.

The really funny thing about this is what we think in our heads and how our imagination about being single is so very different than the reality.  For example, at times when Patty was ill I imagined what it would be like to be single and I had all these thoughts that it would be one wild party after another.  I imagined I would have so much fun going out and dating all these different woman.  The reality is the exact opposite.  There is nothing like being in a committed dedicated relationship.  The being single part really sucks!

After the November end to my last relationship, I got into this mode that I thought I just had to be out there dating and trying to find another relationship.  This lasted about 5 weeks before I realized how absolutely wrong that was.  But I did what comes naturally in this day and age - I signed up for an online dating website - in this case Match.Com.  Sure enough within a very short period of time I was out there cultivating relationships.  I did go out with one woman several times before I realized that I just didn't want to get into another relationship.  The woman who I went out with was very nice, very attractive and she was into me.  It wasn't that I couldn't have been into her, it's just that I realized that it really wasn't the right time to start another relationship.  I really needed to let my mind and my heart figure out where I wanted to go.  So I am glad that I didn't get involved in any kind of intimacy as it just won't have been right for either of us.

So where am I going with all of this?  I am going to the conclusion that runs counter to what every red blooded male is supposed to want.  I am reaching the same conclusion that Courtney Cox and Tim Gunn have reached.  Though I think that Tim Gunn has taken it a little too far - 29 years, that just seems extreme to me.  The conclusion is it is better to be celibate and abstain from having sex than to entangle yourself in ways that become harmful to yourself.  Just because you are single, it doesn't mean you have to be out there involving yourself in meaningless relationship after meaningless relationship.  It is far better to wait and find the right relationship. 

It's funny but I actually feel proud of myself for abstaining and not getting involved with someone.  This is probably the first time in my life that I have done this but it feels good to know that I have had the strength to go without needing to do that.

Given that I didn't intend to write a blog entry at all today, I think that was a pretty profound and deeply thought out entry about a controversial subject.  Yes - I am patting myself on the back.  LOL!

The specifics of the day were pretty boring.  This morning I woke to intense pain in my left hip and leg from my back.  After I got off to school I had to take 4 Advils and a bunch of oxycodone to get the pain to settle down so that I could be productive for the day.  By late this afternoon the pain was back so tomorrow morning I am calling the neurosurgeon's office and see what he wants me to do.

Zack had a great day at school today.  I can't believe some of the changes I am seeing in him regarding his anxiety and taking responsibility for things.  I hate to go on about it, because I am afraid that I will jinx the situation, but I am very proud of the accomplishments he is achieving. 

Today was also cleaning lady day, so the house is all nice and clean.  I felt bad for my cleaning lady Kathy as she was on her own today.  Normally her daughter Kelli works with her, but today Kelli was home with sick kids so Kathy was on her own.  It took her the best part of 8 hours to clean my house and my neighbors house.  All I can say is Kathy works her butt off!!

Even though I am still struggling with the pain from my back, I am moving ahead with some of the big projects here at the house.  Tomorrow I am having the kitchen designer who I am going to work with come in and take measurements.  We are then going to start talking the design.  Which means hopefully I can get with my friend who is the interior decorator to help me lay out some ideas about the style and colors that I should use in this remodel.

I think I have covered a lot of ground with this post tonight.  As always thanks for reading and staying interested in the stuff I put out there.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.