Friday, November 27, 2009

Memories of an awesome Turkey Day

I think spending the holidays with friends is something everyone should try now and again. Family is wonderful, but friends for dinner is so completely different. Last night we had an incredible Thanksgiving with our friends Marc and Carol (and Carol's family). Brined turkey, sausage stuffing, three kinds of cranberry sauce, everything done expertly! By the time we got to desserts, I was stuffed! Thank you all. It was a spectacular way to enjoy the holiday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Yesterday my dad, my brother Martin and Hazy made a whirlwind tour of NY. It was so great to see them all! I only wish it could have been a longer visit. After a fun dinner at the Glenwood Pines, we headed to Lansing to watch Aurora at hockey practice. She was so cool.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Faces

I love those moments when Aurora will let me ply light off her.
Talk about porcelaineous skin!

Yeah, I seldom have images of myself... but enough about me has changed that it was time to show my face. Nancy gave me a wicked-cool haircut this friday. I love it!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nights are Tough

Seems like the weight of the day accumulates and crushes my body while I try to fall asleep. With less meat on my bones, my knees and ankles are so knobby that they cut off circulation to my limbs when I lay on my side. My arms and shoulders are so out of whack, that when I lay on my side or on my back they either go numb or feel like they are full of fire ants crawling their way out. Tonight my back decided to get in on the fun. As tired as I am (exhausted), I can't sleep because the pain outweighs the fatigue. All of this despite two vicodin, one skelaxin, and an ativan. I should be sleeping like a baby... but this baby just wants to scream.

I know no one wants to hear the bad shit. I try to remain positive everyday, but nights like this make me feel like I am losing my mind. If I could cut off my left arm, just to stop this incessant nerve pain, I would do it. It is absolutely mind-crushing.

Just took round two of heavy meds, hoping for a pharmacological solution to this pain and frustration. I hate taking any medications. But I also need sleep. I think a dose of valerian earlier in the night might help. I worry about adding more to this already potent mix of meds though.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pain and Torture

That's what PT stands for. Not physical therapy. I have done my years of therapy. It involved lots of talking, and too-soft couches. There is none of that where I do my PT. Just machines that push and pull and prod and creak. Then there are the sounds I make! Creak and groan and wail and gnash and sob.

There's no mistaking one therapy for another. This is the real deal. They are slowly but surely rebuilding my busted body and replacing it with one who just might be able to dance!

Today we dealt with the right shoulder's bursitis, the left shoulder's over stressed muscles, my ongoing pain in my feet, calves and shins, and my abdominal pain from the surgery. Yeah, we hit all that fun in nearly 2 hours of PT.

Somehow though, I wish I could go back tomorrow for more. My ankles and feet feel better after a brutal day on balance boards and wobbly squishy balls. My arms move better after being twisted and leveraged out of their painful locked up state. Best of all, coordination is growing by leaps and bounds. Proprioception is the big word of the week. Can't wait for next week!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Middle of the Night

It is nearly 2a.m. and I am awake but wishing I weren't. Coffee ice cream (Starbucks!) will be the death of me. I just cant handle my coffee. Keeps me awake for hours! Top it off with some back pain issues, and an inability to get comfortable in bed... makes it so I just cant force myself to sleep.

Instead, I figured it was a good time to share some of my favorite images from my first non-family portrait shoot. My plan is to do more portraiture over the next year. I have a long way to go, but I am starting to have a vision for what I want. In this case, I needed to come up with high school senior pictures for a beautiful young lady. Very specific requirements. Here are the results:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Okay, you asked for it

Since I can't make pots for a few more months (need to wait for this deep wound to heal) are a few of the pots I made before I went in for surgery. More coming later in the week as we start packing pots to ship orders that were placed back in the summertime. That's right... orders are almost finished. Anyone waiting on anything blue or cranberry have a couple more weeks to wait since we need to mix more glaze and then glaze like mad. Should be at least one firing's worth, maybe two.

Friday, November 13, 2009

History of the White Deer of Seneca Lake

This is verbatim from Seneca White Deer Inc.

This is a fascinating story, and day after day, folks stop along the fenceline just to see these white deer. They arent tame but they are less afraid of people. Pretty amazing!


How It Began

White DeerIn 1941, 24 miles of security fencing enclosed the area now known as the Conservation Area (CA) of the former Seneca Army Depot. Captured within the fence line of the CA were several whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) of the normal brown coloration. Within a few years, however, something unique happened. White pigmented deer began populating the brown deer herd within the CA. The U. S. Army, sensing something unique was taking place, gave the white deer protection while they managed the brown deer through hunting. This was necessary to keep the population within the carrying capacity of the habitat of the CA.

How did the white deer coloration manifest itself within the CA?

It appears one or more of the brown whitetails originally confined with the CA, carried the recessive gene for white coloration. Over time and with protection from the military, this normally recessive gene continued to manifest itself. Today, the CA is home to the world’s largest and only herd of white deer, nearly 200 individuals strong. Such a density of white deer can be found no where else in the world!

White deer have brown eyes unlike albino deer that are pink eyed. It is also not uncommon to see brown does with white fawns or white does with brown fawns. The color combinations of white and brown deer range from gray to brown as well as white spotting along with pure white.

How are they protected now?

To protect the entire deer herd, the maintenance of the 24 miles of fence must be maintained. Within the fenced area of the CA, the white and brown deer can be properly managed through hunting to keep the herd healthy. If the fence line degrades, and the deer escape, especially the white deer, they are heavily sought as trophies and will perish quickly.

How you can help protect them in the future?

With your help, this unique natural resource, the white deer of the former Seneca Army Depot, can be preserved for generations to enjoy and marvel. To help in this endeavor, check out on how you can assist

COPYRIGHT © 2002-2009 Seneca White Deer Inc.

Thanks to Seneca White Deer Inc. for posting this great information.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Field Trip!

After making my first foray into Ithaca for out-patient physical therapy (thank you for the ride Douglass!!), I spent the rest of my morning stretching and noodling about the house. I was just about to wash dishes for a few minutes when I got a call from Jeff (from the Cayuga Creamery).

Would I like to go on a photo excursion to take pictures of the white deer, says he. A field trip thinks I. OH BOY! A chance to get outta the house and not a chore, not a doctor's appointment, not to the hospital! YOU BETCHA!

Three thirty rolled around and we were off to the east side of Seneca Lake, to the old Seneca Army Depot, where they have snow white deer. The light was falling and the air had a nice crisp snap to it.

We were able to get pretty close, oftentimes within 10 feet. Fall light is fleeting and by 5pm, it was too dark to shoot more. Coming home I was so excited and tired. Jazzed to be out doing something fun, and tired from getting in and out of the SUV, sore from trying to walk and stand on the uneven roadside ditch grass. But most of all, I was thrilled to have friends who are willing to go out of their way to come and visit, take me places and keep me from going stir-crazy while I recuperate!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

March of the Tin Potter

Today marks yet another Indian Summer day; overcast, but warm and enjoyable. I'm still waiting for that fall misty rain that always seems to mark November's arrival. Then again, anything that curtails my walks outdoors would definitely hinder my recovery.

I have found over the past few days that walking out on the road has gotten easier and I can go incrementally further. There is always pain; due mostly to lack of muscle tone and flexibility. It's as though I have the physique of an infant trapped in a 200# body. Really hard on the joints!

Aurora is watching Dune tonight. Things she noticed: the Fremen soldiers using the "weirding module" look much like I did with my trach tube in place. The guild navigators had tubes running from the back of their heads to their nose which apparently much like the O2 monitor that I wore in the ICU. That O2 monitor left a groove in my forehead. Aurora and Nancy said that grants me entry into the Dent Head Club. Now we all have dents!

Small Successes

Yesterday was my first visit to Dr.Wang (our local traditional Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture practitioner) since May. When I last saw her, I was frustrated at my inability to lose weight... acupuncture can be very helpful in restoring/invigorating metabolism.

When Dr. Wang and I locked eyes yesterday she took a double-take and then looked like she might cry. My heart sank, knowing that she had no idea what I had been through. For the better part of twenty minutes we talked about the ordeal. Nancy had to do most of the talking because I totally lost it. I find it incredibly difficult to talk about what was done to me in order to keep me alive.

I had been worried about going to acupuncture because usually when she works on me, I am on my side and she fills my lower back and shoulders with needles. Yesterday though she kept me laying on my back. Apparently my "life force" was severely depleted by the month and a half long sedation. Yeah... I would have to agree. I have no stamina, no strength, and everything hurts all the time.

During acupuncture though, my body floated. No pain, no sensation. I wish sleep brought such relief. I am sleeping like shit. I might get 3 hours uninterrupted. Then I either am in too much pain to fall asleep or I have to go to the bathroom, or I simply cant get comfortable. Any one position too long just aches.

Sorry to bitch and moan.

The good news is that our friends Carol and Gordon loaned us their battleship of a recliner... this MONSTER Barcalounger. Finally I was able to get comfortable downstairs! This means we can get rid of the loaner from the rental place in town.
And it means I can nap without having to climb stairs to our bedroom.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Midway through

We are half the way through Sunday already. Most of it I spent sleeping in a recliner after waking up at 6am and was unable to get comfortable in bed again. I am really looking forward to the medical recliner than is supposed to arrive here tomorrow some time after noon. I need a lot firmer support than most cushy recliners feature.

It does seem like some of this increase in pain is due to opiate reduction. My Fentanyl patch is a lot smaller this changeover. Another 5 days and then I am off the patches.

The great news is that I get to go to acupuncture tomorrow morning! I am a little nervous because I cant lay on my stomach, and getting onto my side takes a lot of effort... but we'll figure something out. For now, I am just excited to know I can get help to stem the waves of pain my back is going through.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The first day

Today is my first full day home from the rehab unit. As weak as I am, I am still moving around the house, finding ways of maintaining stability... all in all, doing well. I'm looking forward to getting outside more, walking greater distances, and most of all, I look forward to seeing all my friends and family.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shaved, Shaken and Rolled

Since my first surgery back in September, and through all the subsequent surgeries and recovery, I have seen my blood pressure increase into that zone where it needs to be treated with meds. Bear in mind, I never had high blood pressure prior to this time. The attending doctor decided last evening that it was time to do an EKG to see if anything was wrong (damaged) about my heart. Nope. At least that was what the EKG technician had to say. My surgeon thinks that this high BP is due to the stress of being in the hospital and will likely go away as soon as I get used to being home and start to truly rest and recuperate. Let's hope so! As a result of the EKG, I had to be shaved in yet MORE spots on my body. Suffice to say, I have been shaved or had hair ripped out due to tape or bandages everywhere it seems, except my feet.

It is scary and disturbing to think that all the time in the coma has had such an effect on my body. Being horizontal for over 6 weeks wreaks havoc on your organs, which are designed to be vertical most of the time.

On top of my heart trouble fears, I also had a wickedly brutal two days of PT. Today we went outside again. This time walking on uneven ground using trekking poles to steady me. I didnt really think about how exhausted I was, but when I got to my OT session I nearly passed out. To recover, I sat down in the recliner in my room. Two minutes later I zonked out. I had to be rolled to back to my room because I was so unsteady. Scary.

Now, I am ready to sleep and get ready for my departure tomorrow. I cant believe it is finally time for me to leave the hospital! I will have my own bed to sleep in tomorrow night. I still have about 1/10th my original strength, so even simple things like walking to the bathroom exhaust me. But at least now I can move that far.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Not So Hot

Feeling pretty beat tonight, so I wont try writing much. I head home friday so expect more fun then.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Tonight I figured I would write a little bit about being helpless. As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I spent a month of this fall in a coma. In the following three weeks before I entered the rehab unit, I drifted in and out of a drug induced haze. I was unable to move a muscle. Not a finger. On top of that I was unable to speak for the better part of two weeks. During this time I was expected to participate in PT while still in the ICU. In order to do this I was lifted bodily out of bed by means of a hoist device. I would be strapped in, nylon bands cutting across my torso and groin, pinching my catheter, my feeding tube, oxygen tube, and a half dozen more wires and hoses getting caught on all sorts of things. This then would pull at my face, crotch, chest, you name it. It was never simple. Some days I would get whacked in the face (more than once!) with the spreader bar of the hoist. It was never uneventful or relaxing.

Then they would move me to a reclining chair with the premise that being upright would help circulation and help get me over my pneumonia (which it did). For the first week, being upright made me cry. It was all I could do to sit up. I couldn't even hold myself upright. I would start to lean within about 4 minutes. Some days the PT nurse would do range of motion exercises and I couldnt even add any input. By the end of the second week, about the time I could finally talk via this device attached to my trach tube, I was ready to speak my mind.

Instead I found myself so grateful to be able to communicate, to be able to tell Nancy how much I loved her, to be able to talk to Aurora to let her know I was ok and that she was loved... with all of that foremost in my mind, I couldnt really complain.

Which brings me to my thought for the evening: there is a transition from being helpless to being able to begin to help yourself. For me, I knew I was making that transition when I was able to help encourage others on the rehab ward. So what does it mean to help yourself? What does it really mean to be helpless? How does one ask for help? I am lousy at asking for help. Yet as soon as I was unable to physically ask for help, it came out of the woodwork.

I cant begin to thank everyone who has helped Nancy, Aurora and I. Without a doubt, we couldn't have done it without help. I would not have made it back from that coma without all the help we received. Saying thank you sounds so small compared to how I feel. I am so thrilled to be alive... to be back... to know I have more life to live.

Many friends have asked what it was like in the coma. I am going to try to write about it. I will probably try to put it into a small book form rather than the blog. If you have a desire to read it when it's finished, let me know. I can tell you it wont all make sense and the imagery is both personal and surreal.

For now though, I need to catch up on some sleep before another day of PT tomorrow.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Anxiety and Fear

As I was posting to Facebook tonight I realized that for all of my attempts to write about life here on the PT ward, I have left out some of the more difficult aspects: Anxiety and fear. In my case, the anxiety hits me like a ton of bricks every night, right around 8-9pm. Makes falling asleep very difficult. It seems to center around my fear of falling asleep and not waking up for a month. Having experienced my coma for a month, I dont think this is an unreasonable fear. Things are improving bodily, with each day showing physical improvements and more control while walking and such. The fear of more surgeries and complications though hit me broadside as soon as I try to go to sleep. The upside to all the heavy duty PT is that I cant fight off sleep. I am off to zzzzs about 8pm. But on nights where the exercise has been light, or in the case of weekends, just about non-existant,... I am still wide awake till nearly midnight. Not a great way to get a good night's sleep.

I would love to find solutions to this ongoing sensation. Some part of me is thinking it could be tied to any one of the numerous meds I am taking... anti-clotting meds, zoloft (still havent gotten anything definitive about zoloft), various pain meds like fentenol (sp?), vicodin, blood thinner, blood pressure meds,... all of which have likely side effects. The question is whether that is the root cause. My suspicion is that this anxiety is pharmaceutical rather than psychological stems from the timing. 8-9pm, regardless of lighting, sounds, or visual stimuli make me think it isnt just night falling. Gotta be something more.
Ideas anyone?