Tuesday, November 23, 2021

November 2021

 


As I sit down to write this, I am bathed in the glow of the "Beaver Moon". Now rest assured that the way I ended the last blog is not the reason that I have written this one. That being said, I go on the record for saying "I did not crap myself". Such a litigious society we live in.

The reason for this blog is that I want to tell everyone (code for 2 or 3 followers) that I had my final Mayo Clinic visit last week. When I saw the doctor, he was pretty happy with the progress. I was moving my finger and the sensitivity which is still there, is getting better. He said that I can start using my hand again as long as I still be careful and not over do it.

So after 13 months of pain and anguish, I can finally say that things are finally getting better. 


This was after the first surgery from December of 2020.


Second sergury from October of 2021.


And the final product from today, November 2021.

Things can again progress on our cabin, plans for the future can be made and life can continue on. I just hope I don't break a hip or anything now. Fingers crossed. 

The holidays are fast approaching so we wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and we would like to remind everyone to remove your mask as you eat your turkey. I know it goes against popular belief but trust me, your turkey will taste better.

Stand by for future progress updates.





Friday, October 22, 2021

October Wrap Up

 This will be a plethora of many things.

First on the list: The work on the cabin has come to a complete standstill due to my hand surgery. Every time I even think of doing something the least bit productive, I have nurse Cratchet getting in my face, telling me that if I get off of the couch, she'll break my other arm. So I sheepishly sit back down and try to go to the bathroom later. I guess she doesn't want me to lift heavy objects or something.

That brings me to the next topic in this cornucopia of many splendors: My hand. Like I said in my last post, the surgery went well. Recovery will take many weeks. Nurse Cratchet has me on couch arrest. I didn't know you could get ankle monitoring bracelets on Amazon, but you can. She even got me orange pajamas. Just because she loved me she said. She even gave me a new pet name. Prisoner 03815. When I asked "why prisoner?" She kissed me and said I was a prisoner of her love. How romantic can this woman be?

The Dr. gave me strict orders to keep my wrist straight. So they removed my dressing and custom made a splint for my arm. Which I have to wear for the next 3 weeks.


Pretty Vikings colors.


Here the OT specialist is forming it to my arm.

I am not to lift anything with that arm at all. So what does my hand look like under the brace? I am glad you asked. Cover your eyes Jim.


With stitches.


Without stitches.

The incision is longer than the first operation. What was fascinating was the Dr. took pictures of the surgery during the surgery. He comes into the room and gets on the computer and says this is what he found. All of a sudden there on the screen is my hand cut wide open. Lisa and I were a little taken aback at the sight of it. (They wouldn't let us keep the pictures so I was going to up load some off of the computer but even that was gross. So if you have the stomach for it, google carpel tunnel surgery images.) Once over the initial shock it was interesting. He showed us how discolored and deformed the nerve was compared to the surrounding nerves. So he removed a lot of scar tissue from the first surgery and then redid the carpel tunnel again.They then removed the tourniquet around the blood vessel to see if the blood flow improved. It was better but it was nowhere near 100%. That will take time for that nerve to fully heal, if it does. Always a caveat.

There are many hand exercises they sent me home with. Nurse Cratchet makes sure that I am doing them all. My hand and finger are so sensitive that I have to do de-sensitivity exercises also. To start with I am rubbing a cotton ball across my finger and palm. The sensitivity is through the roof. I can hardly stand the sensation of that. I just grit my teeth the whole time. 

I forgot to mention in the last blog that we had another quick visit from RV rock gods, Jim and Barb. It was just another quick stop as they passed by but it was fun filled as usual. They left bright and early the next morning heading west to go hunting. Jim was able to give us a quick lesson on the proper way of retracting your slide with a slide out topper. I can't believe we have been doing it wrong all of these years.


Step 1- climb up onto your roof
.

Step 2- while Barb presses the button, hand roll the slide out topper.


Step 3- continue until slide out is fully retracted.

They forgot about step 4 though. Which is, look around and make sure no one is taking pictures. LOL!

On a more personal note. I have always been a gun enthusiast. I am mainly interested in guns from WWII or earlier. I look at those weapons and see them as pieces of art, full of history which goes far deeper than the physical appearance. My first rifle that got me collecting these weapons is a 1898 Swedish Mauser. 
To which I still have.

So looking at one of the local gun stores I came across this beauty.
I knew I had to add that to my zombie gun collection. It is part of a new breed of shotguns. That's right. It's a 12 ga shotgun. How cool is that? So I saved my penny's, sold a kidney and sold lemonade all summer to finally be able to bring her home. Now I can't wait for my hand to heal so I can put some rounds through it. Zombies beware.

That's it for now. I may not post for awhile because I am sure my life on the couch will not be blog worthy. Unless I crap myself or something. Until then.










Saturday, October 9, 2021

First Time One Handing It


before

for this blog post i have invoked the "no capitalization clause" due to the fact that this is being typed completely one handed. i know what you are thinking. "how can one person be so damn talented?" i know right? the reason for that is that i finally had surgery on my hand again, my apologies go out to the grammar police.

i know everyone is on pins and needles waiting for the results, so i will just dive right in to it.

surgery was scheduled for friday. so thursday i had to go in early in the morning for a covid test. the results were negative, thank the maker, so the surgery would proceed as planned. according to the directions they give you, you have to wait until 8:15 pm the night before surgery to get your report time. we waited all day to finally make the call and it was good news. we were to report at 5:30 am on friday for surgery. 

we went in friday morning, got checked in and within minutes i was getting prepped. i am still amazed at how well run this place is. it's like the chick-fil-a of hospitals. for anesthesia they were going to do a nerve block with light sedation for a quicker recovery.

lisa quickly checked my insurance policy, said our goodbyes and i was whisked away to surgery. the anesthesiologist came in and had me lie on my side. he was going to use ultrasound to find the nerve between my collar bone. as i was on my side looking at the ultrasound picture, i could see the needle going into my neck. a nerve block is like a novocaine shot from the dentist. they just move the needle around under the skin to inject more medicine. all of which i was looking at on the screen. once done, they injected other things into my  i v and i was out sleeping away. i awoke what felt like seconds later and i was done. 2 hours max for the surgery.


after

the dr. came in later and explained what he did. he said he didn't have to graft anything which is good. he re-did the carpal tunnel again and then he removed a bunch of scar tissue from the first surgery that was compressing the nerve and blood supply to my finger. the nerve was very pale when he first opened my hand and once the blood flow started again it took on a better color. he was very confident that that was the problem. 


feeling no pain

on a more personal note. i finally got to cross off a bucket list item. i finally got to ride in a wheelchair and have lisa push me around. i can  die a happy man now.

see me smiling?

see how happy lisa is to push me around?

they said the nerve block would last 4-6 hours before the pain hit. giving us ample time to make it home. so i opted to have my pain meds filled in fergus. at the last minute we decided to have them filled at the hospital. it was a good decision because we didn't even get to the edge of rochester when i told lisa i could feel my arm again. pill popping time!

6-8 weeks of recovery now to see if anything has improved. i go back in 10 days to have the stitches removed and new dressings put on it with pictures to follow.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

As the Finger Turns

 


When did my life become a soap opera? 

That's rhetorical. Don't answer that, I don't want to know,

We had another visit to the Mayo clinic last week for more tests. I say we because Lisa is by my side every step of the way. She is finding out about the clause in our vows that says "for better or worse". Now if she would only obey better. Like when I tell her that she should swallow her pride and just push me around in a wheelchair when we are at the clinic. I tell her that she would get so much more exercise by doing that. But no...........I still have to trudge everywhere.

First test of the day was just some blood work. They wanted to rule out anything pathological like Lyme Disease. As I was talking to the phlebotomist, I asked how many people go through there in a day. He said pre-covid it would be around 1200 people, now they see around 600. I said "wow" as he took a gallon of blood from me. He also said that the blood goes directly to the lab and they will have the results within hours. Again, "wow".

Next test was going to be an ultrasound of my left arm from the elbow to the wrist. They wanted to trace the Median nerve to see if it is trapped somewhere in the arm. They didn't find any entrapments of the nerve but they did say that the nerve going through the carpel tunnel is still pinched there. Makes me wonder why I had the surgery done in Fargo. Sheesh!

Last up for the day was going to be a meeting with the Orthopedic Specialist. Finally. I hope to get some news, one way or the other. He reviewed all of the tests and said that there was nothing conclusive in the results. Besides maybe the carpel tunnel and some changes in the arthritis in my wrist. So he said I have two options.

1. Exploratory surgery to cut open my hand and physically see the nerves.

OR

2. Occupational Therapy

So, can you guess what I chose to do? I said "I want to see what's behind door number 1". He said I could go with OT but in a year we would be back at step one again and I don't want to wait another year and go through this pain and discomfort until then.

So surgery is scheduled for the beginning of October. He said he will cut open my hand and trace the nerve as it goes through my palm. Fix the carpel tunnel again and if the nerve is damaged, he will cut it out and graft a cadaver nerve in its place. He said that he could use a nerve of my own but then I would have 2 surgeries to deal with plus he would use a nerve out of my foot. Then I would have a numb foot the rest of my life. A cadaver nerve it is then.

He was pretty confident that he would find the problem. I am relieved that something will finally happen. I hope to hell that that fixes the problem because he said that if it doesn't fix the problem, then it is in my neck. Oh-oh.

So that is where we stand. Now we have 2 weeks to get as much done in the cabin as we can because I will be laid up for a minimum of 3 weeks.


We got another wall section put up.


And another.


And still another area.

So that is all I can tell you. Live long and prosper. Spock out.





Thursday, September 9, 2021

Spam

 Spam-1. irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the internet to a large number of recipients.

          2. Trademark, a canned meat product made mainly from ham.

As it so happens, every now and then, we sneak out of our super secret undisclosed location. This time to discover the origins of Spam. Not the annoying email type of spam but rather the food that saved the world type of Spam. To do that we had to venture down to a small Minnesota town in the southern half of the state. Austin, Minnesota is the Spam capital of the world.

We found the museum easily and we were going to go in but there was a sign on the door that said we had to be masked. As you can see from Lisa's expression on her face in the above picture she was not happy about it. It was Hormel's company wide policy that everyone should be masked in their factories including their museum. I just shrugged my shoulders and said "When in France....." So we went in and the admission is free. Perfect! Lisa's attitude changed for the better after that.

She is smiling now. The museum was done quite well with many interactive exhibits and history. It was small but really, how much can you talk about Spam.

In this area it was devoted to different countries and the impact Spam had on those areas. Also with specific types of Spam made just for those countries which I wish they would sell those varieties in our country. I also was able to download different types of recipe's for Spam. Like this one.
Spam was introduced in 1937 and gained popularity worldwide after WWII. By 2003, Spam was sold in 41 counties on 6 continents (wikipedia). 
It was interesting to see the conveyor belt moving with the cans overhead. It was mesmerizing. After the museum tour we went into the gift shop. I had high hopes that they sold all of the varieties of SPAM there but they didn't. I did get a few that I have never seen in stores though and am anxious to try them out.
I have high hopes for them and I hope that I am not disappointed. It was a fun day for sure. 

Now I must divulge the real reason for us heading to southern Minnesota so that some readers who are from Wisconsin/South Dakota can stop reading now and not waste their time any further.

The real reason we went to southern Minnesota is that I had another visit at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Again I have to admit it is an amazing place. The first visit was for a initial consultation. From that they devised a plan to tackle my hand situation. So this visit was for a battery of tests to find out what is going on.

First test of the day was going to be an EMG, short for Electromyography. There are 2 parts for this test. First part of the test is to apply electrical stimulation to muscles to gauge the nerve response. This is done by a nurse and she records the results on her computer. In lay-mans terms it is electroshock therapy. I lay down on the bed and she start to apply shocks to my hand. Starting with light shocks and gradually increasing the intensity until my hand is flopping around like a fish. 

Thank God I was in the military for 26 years because my military training kicked in instinctively. As I was laying there being electrocuted I told her that the only information she was going to get from me was my name, my rank and my serial number. She did my hand muscles on my left hand and then also at the elbow. Then she wanted to do my right hand for comparison. Oh goody. That took about 15 minutes and then she was done. First half of the test was done. Now the second half which is worse than the first.

This test is where they stick NEEDLE electrodes into your muscles. I repeat, into your muscles without any numbing or anything. Just stab, twist and twist again. So a doctor comes in and says to me "We will get the information we want, one way or another, heh, heh, heh." He starts under my thumb and stabs that electrode into the flesh. Then he starts turning it around to get a good signal. On the computer it looks like a graph and he wants a straight line on it. He says to relax which is hard to do with something stabbed into your skin, then he says to flex that muscle, again hard to do, but as you use the muscle the electrode picks up the nerve activity which makes the graph go crazy. Then onto the next area. The backside of my thumb. The whole thing is repeated again over and over again all the way up my arm and into my neck. I'm not sure if I passed out or not but when he was done he smiled and said they now know the location of the ammo dump. All in all, I counted the stab wounds and there were nine.

I had this test done in Fargo in November so I kind of knew what to expect, but at Mayo it was so much more thorough. They did 2 to 3 times more testing there than Fargo did. I hope it was worth it and that they can tell me something later on.

The next test to be done was going to be an MRI of my forearm, wrist and hand. They made three separate appointments because it was 3 different areas. They called me back and told me to take off my clothes and put on a gown and then they installed an IV. I have not had a IV for an MRI before so add another stab wound. She looked at the orders and said, "Wow, your going to be in there a long time". That's reassuring.
The MRI machine only looks at about 10 to 12 inches of your body at a time and since I was having my arm done it was going to take awhile. Plus they were going to do a MRI with contrast they called it. Which is like doing another whole MRI. I asked what the contrast meant and they said they do a complete MRI. Then they inject me with a contrast agent to improve the visibility and do a second MRI. That's why I needed the IV.

So they told me to lay on my stomach with my arm outstretched like a Superman flying pose. 2 hours later I was done. My arm hurt so bad being locked in that position for so long. I would not want to go through that again. 

Last appointment for the day was with a neurologist to go over the results. Sadly to my dismay, nothing obvious jumped out at them. It was not going to be an easy fix. So more tests are ordered for later on in the month. I hope they have a test for frustration levels because that is getting high. If I would have just had it cut off in July I would be done with this by now. Keep your calendars open for a big pity party in the near future. 

Work on the cabin continues. We started to finish the walls behind the wood burning stove. I put up the mantle first of all.
Then I cut and put up the old galvanized tin we found on Marketplace.
The mantle made a great place for my cannon. Then Lisa stained more wood for me, so I got busy with that.
It is really taking shape now.
We think it really looks good. But  now as we look at it more, our mantle looks small with the wood there so we will have to go back to the drawing board on that. We have some ideas that we are kicking around.

That's it for us here. Summer has ended and now we just prepare ourselves mentally for winter and stock up on alcohol.

I hope you found this blog informative, interesting with a mix of humor for your reading enjoyment. Much better than reading a blog about two people sitting in a bear blind reading books all day.

Until the next time.


 










Friday, August 27, 2021

Busy August

 

My lovely sister Gio.

August is nearing its end and you know what that means? Pumpkin spice season! 

August has been a very busy month for us. We decided to take a break from the outdoor projects and started to get some work done on the inside of the cabin. First order of business was to get the cedar boards up on the ceiling in the living room.


Lisa is getting pretty good with the nail gun. She no longer screams when it goes off.

Working on that high ceiling is always a challenge but we got that done. Lisa then started staining like a mad woman. Once she had enough boards stained, I started to hang them up on the kitchen wall. She went with a different color for contrast and it really turned out great.




We were on a roll and things were moving along well so we continued around the south wall.

Also the area above the cabinets needed to get done. That was not fun working over those cabinets.

That was about 2 weeks worth of work. Out of the blue we got a call from our asphalt company saying they were in the area and were going to do our driveway. Yay! We have been waiting all summer for them to get to us and this was going to be our last big project.

Before.


After

I think it looks great and we got more than we had planned, but that is a long story that I beg you never to ask Lisa about. For everybody's sanity, please don't ask her. Don't!...... Zip it!.......... Zip! We needed a break so we loaded up the camper and headed out for some laughs and debauchery. Once back home we decided to start some more outside projects because August was nearing its end.

We have a fire ring out back and wanted to improve it a little.

We haven't planted grass back there yet so I took my tractor and leveled the area better.


It's taking shape.


Finally the finished product. Not bad for a couple of amature landscapers. Ironically though Minnesota is in a burning ban statewide so we can't enjoy it yet. Once that was done it was time to get ready for some VIP's.

First up on the visitor list was my sister and her husband. Jeff has never been to our super secret undisclosed location ever. But once the background checks were completed, the non-disclosure documents signed along with covid paperwork, quarantine requirements met, he was allowed to enter the property. Which was great because it was a lot of fun. Maybe they could even help us hang up our new microwave?

Many alcoholic beverages were consumed, even against the surgeon general's warning. We went for an ATV ride around our property to show them the land.

When we were out on the ATV's, something caught Jeff's eye in the woods. He saw a Chicken in the Woods mushroom. So we went back to harvest that for them.

Here is Jeff killing a poor innocent tree fungus.



Once they surgically removed it from the tree we brought it back and soaked it in vinegar to kill all of the bugs that lived in it. Gross! Once soaked, they diced them up and marinated them in garlic, olive oil and teriyaki sauce and then thrown on the grill.

Then they attacked them like a Husky eating ham. (Inside joke). They said it tasted like chicken.

I did not eat any for fear of my life. I am extremely allergic to mushrooms and any other form of tree fungus. One bite would kill me. I'm also a firm believer that not everything was meant to be eaten. Like mushrooms, cow tongue and pigs feet. Just a few examples.

After that, Jeff wanted to play some bug zapper tennis. I think it was the mushrooms talking but I went along with it. We were both quite good. He said he was like Billy Jean King. Whoever he is?

I have to admit that he kind of looks like Billy Jean King in a way. The competition heated up and both of us were in rare form.


It was a fun 2 days, but like they say, "all good things must come to an end". They left bright and early the next morning vowing to do it again. We then had to get ready for our next VIP's coming in the next day. I had to go close the gate and put out the signs.

That's right folks! Jim and Barb were on their way. We got a message from them that they were going to stop by on their way north. Then it dawned on me. He said that he put a GPS tracker on our rig. Never had I thought that that was part of his diabolical plan to find our super secret undisclosed location. 

They arrived on Tuesday afternoon and were just going to stay overnight. It was really quite the low key kind of affair. We didn't do much but hang out and visit. They inspected our work on the cabin. There were no words muttered like "Let me help you with building something." or "Let's hang your microwave while I am here." Nothing. True to their words, they left early the next morning.


Before they left though, they had a Lisa sandwich for the road.


Friends like them are hard to find. We are truly blessed to have them in our lives, especially since we never asked. They have left a lasting impression on our hearts. Much like the lasting impression their truck has left in our BRAND NEW ASPHALT! I noticed that when they visit us it is for hours, while when we visit them it is for days. Things that make you go hmmm?

For those of you who may still be wondering, yes, we did get our microwave hung up, Lisa and I.

September is right around the corner now. Still lots to do and fun to be had. So tune in again for the next installment.