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Day 4293  (since I gave up the evil weed tobacco)

So I had this thing going on with my foot.  Sort of a feeling of pressure or swelling, right under the ball of my right foot.  Used to only get it after a couple miles of running and it would go away after a while.  I had always figured it was related to an old softball injury I had that was a fall out of having plantar fasciitis, or something along those lines.

One time, while rounding 2nd base with as much speed as I could muster (I was a locomotive!), I felt my right foot sort of explode.  At the time, it hurt pretty intensely.  Ended up pulling myself from the game then & there because my foot was swelling up immediately and I really couldn’t put any weight on it.

Went home, did some ice & elevation treatment, got the swelling to reduce.  Next day it wasn’t nearly as bad, so I just kept motoring.  Figured I’d ruptured what ever tendon/ligament that was causing the foot pain I was associating with the fasciitis (wasn’t plantars, but it was something on the bottom of my foot). Two weeks after the explosion, I was back on the field like nothing had ever happened.

Fast forward to this year.  That pressure on the bottom of my foot was becoming constant, worse when barefoot on hard floors.  Pressure, numbness, tingly toes – all that got my GP’s attention and he gave me a referral to a podiatrist.

Saw the podiatrist yesterday.  He took pictures (X-rays) of my foot – 3 different views.  I looked at the screen shots – I saw bones, couldn’t make out much else.

The doctor came back into my treatment room and jokingly asked me how hard I’d been treating my feet.  I honestly told him that I beat them up pretty good.  I’ll play almost any sport, had my fair share of sprained ankles, nails into my feet, stubbed toes, dropped stuff on them – it’s a tough life being one of my feet.

Bottom line?  Doc says I have little pockets of arthritis all over my foot.   Then to top it off, I have this weird condition with my 3rd metatarsal bone.  It’s longer than it should be and that, combined with the stiffness from the arthritis is keeping my foot from flexing properly and the end pad of that metatarsal is where I’m getting that pressure feeling.

Had no idea at all.   Apparently what ever dangly bits were left from that self-inflicted tendon rupture have been re-absorbed – I always was big into recycling!  So now we’re trying a quick hand made orthotic to see if shifting the contact pressure at the ball of my foot helps.  After 24 hours I gotta say it actually feels a little worse.  I have a follow up in 4 weeks, but if this extra padding feels this poorly after a week I may drop it.

But arthritis?  Seriously?

 

We be trippin’

Day 4258 (since I quit smoking 8/22/04)

Yeah, the weather was this beautiful.

Yeah, the weather was this beautiful.

What a trip. We live maybe 2 miles from the local airport. Getting there is never a problem. Checked in, got our boarding passes, checked our bags, did the security dealie and made it to our gate probably 15 minutes before boarding.

Got on our plane, it was one of the smaller regional jets. All 44 seats were booked. Pilot came on the PA, said something about a weight restriction and asked if we could get two people to de-board for a $400 bribe. One guy took them up on the offer Got $400 and a ticket to his final destination that actually had him getting there sooner than he would have had he stayed on. Sweet deal for him. Because only one person got off, it looked like the ground crew off loaded some fuel. Then we pushed away from the gate and sat there. And sat there, then we sat there some more. Total of 30 minutes. Rather scary as we had only a 50 minute layover and had no idea of what our gate arrangement was at O’Hare. Best guess for the delay? Waiting for an open gate at our destination (O’Hare) so we could fly straight in and not circle Illinois for a half hour because we were now operating on limited fuel. Oh joy!
Made Chicago. Came in at Gate B24. Had to get to Gate B2 (of course). And? Our next flight was actually scheduled to be boarding as we were pulling up to the gate. The people nearest us on the plane were all very cool and let us get out ahead of them. Get to the concourse, get oriented and head off. It was about 863 miles from B24 to B2 and that terminal had none of those handy slidewalks. At a hair over 6 feet, I can move out when needed, but at a whopping 5’1”, the spousal unit hates it when I put it in gear. So we walked at her best speed which is a leisurely stroll for me. Didn’t dare even hit a restroom on the way because of the already boarding issue I mentioned.
Got to gate B2 in outer Mongolia just as the tail end of our boarding group was headed up the jetway. Non stop flying!! The rest of the trip to New Orleans? Boring and uneventful. The best kind of travel.

Wednesday evening we hit all our usual haunts – Pat O’Brien’s, The Bayou Club, strolled down to the far end of Bourbon St to get dinner. Such a relief to have made it in one piece.
Thursday morning we caught the 2nd Line parade that marked the start of the French Quarter Festival. Here’s a few requisite pics of the parade happenings:

This guy nearly speared the spousal unit with his trombone slide.  Ironically, the same way we met back in high school.

This guy nearly speared the spousal unit with his trombone slide. Ironically, the same way we met back in high school.

A fine front line of trombones - my personal favorite.

A fine front line of trombones – my personal favorite.

After the parade, we scooted down the side streets (helps to be familiar with the Quarter) and hit Jackson Square where the Preservation Hall Band was going to get the music part of the festival going. If you’ve never seen these guys and they come to your city – go see them. They play all the old jazz/Dixieland standards and the sousaphone player alone is worth the price of admission.

Most of the bands/music we wanted to hear were scheduled for 3 of the larger stages – 2 right on the river and the 3rd at the split of Decatur & North Peter St, right in front of the statues of Bienville and Iberville (Early settlers/founders of New Orleans) One stage was right next to where the riverboat Natchez docks. Here you can see the Natchez through the stage behind a band named “Bag of Donuts”. (Odd name, odder band, but if you were to have a party with 500 – 600 of your best friends and needed a band to play that evening, you’d want these guys. They play EVERYTHING and do it well.)

Bag of Donuts.  Would make a great party band.

Bag of Donuts. Would make a great party band.

Here’s another shot, same stage, different day. The Natchez is returning from it’s lunch cruise and is offering a nice backdrop for Kim Carson. If you like the older Loretta Lynn style country music, she’s right up your alley. Doesn’t do a thing for me (in spite of her cuteness), but the spousal unit likes that stuff, so I took a bullet on that one.

Kim Carson with a Natchez backdrop

Kim Carson with a Natchez backdrop

That was pretty much the routine for Thursday and Friday. Hop from one stage to the next, check out some stuff we never heard, catch other stuff we knew we liked. Never, ever caught a bad act. Probably saw a dozen groups the first two days. On the weekend there were 27 stages going all through the Quarter and a total of 255 groups performing. The spousal unit counted. Usually I’m the weird one doing that, but there was time to kill during a band changeover I guess. . . .

Oh! Can’t forget this. Every time we are in New Orleans, Doreen H. sets up her little band on Royal St. right in front of Rouses Market. This year was no different. Awesome clarinet player, she’s actually a professor of music at one of the universities in New Orleans. She just plays on the street to help sell her albums and make a bit of grocery money. Yeah – we have a couple of her albums.

So anyhow. Doreen’s making her clarinet sing and a couple of unicorns come strolling down Royal, cutting between Doreen and the small crowd we’re in on the sidewalk across the street. To say I was shocked at the couple would be an understatement. I was shocked enough that I didn’t get my phone out in time to record this couple walking down the street. But, remember I said I could move out when I needed to? This was one of those times. I got lucky, the unicorns stopped for a photo op and I got a shot of this as they were getting going again.

Coulda been bowling Thursday, but I would have missed this!

Coulda been bowling Thursday, but I would have missed this!

Yeah. She’s wearing a unicorn horn, weird fuzzy boots, a diaper, pasties and a whole lotta blue body paint. I also noticed as I walked up behind them that the diaper was barely hanging on, and they did a VERY thorough job with the body paint. 1pm, walking down Royal St. Whoda thunk it?
Of course later that day I missed a completely naked girl walking down Bourbon St during the early evening. Oh well. Naked women I’ve seen, but blue unicorns? That’s different.

Saturday morning, everything changed. 7am CDT my phone rings. One of my brothers is calling. Never good. I answer the phone, asking what’s up? My brother, never one to mince words just blurts out, “Mom’s in the ICU in Columbus”
Mom is 77 and just started a trip with her sisters. They were headed for Tennessee to see one of my other brothers and were stopping in a bunch of spots along the way to see cousins, various points of interest, etc. Didn’t have a lot of details at that point, but since I am Mom’s POA and Health Care Proxy, I had shit to do.

I talked to my aunt who was in Columbus with mom. Friday morning she had a scratchy throat, hurt to swallow. They found an urgent care clinic, the people there did an exam – throat swab, peeking down the throat, etc. Rapid strep test comes up negative, diagnosis is post nasal drip and mom leaves urgent care with a prescription for Nasacort or some such juice. They tour the Columbus Zoo. A bust – it’s cold enough all the animals stay inside. Late that night, mom woke her sisters, said she couldn’t even swallow water and was having a lot of trouble breathing.
Soooooo, they get her to the ER at Mount Carmel West in Columbus. ER doc takes a look and pretty much knocks mom out and gets her intubated. This is like 3am Columbus time. They get an airway established, start pumping oxygen. Based on what he saw while trying to get the tube in place, the ER doc figures mom has epiglottitis – inflammation of the epiglottis – that little flappy thing that steers air to the lungs and food to the belly.
That got them to the point where they started calling. Mom being a Jehovah (that’s a whole ‘nother set of entries – some already made, check for categories on religion) so her DNR is rather specific – and in my fire safe.
Our trip was done through Travelocity. Easy, painless, hides bunches of details that until then, I didn’t give a shit about. Air travel was through United. Called them about re-arranging our return tickets. Saturday morning I’m on the phone with them (after the worlds’ worst biscuits and gravy breakfast) trying to change my Monday return flight to something Saturday afternoon. Cindy (the spousal unit) would fly home, I’d go to Columbus. After being on hold with the brains of United’s customer care center in Calcutta three times., the best they could do was to get the two of us home to Rochester late Sunday to the tune of $1800 dollars above and beyond what we’d already paid. Honestly, the trip didn’t cost much more than that to begin with.
Luckily, I explored a bit while choking down that nasty biscuits & gravy. Checked stuff out on my phone and knew what I would pay at Southwest to do exactly what I wanted. Ended up at the hotel courtesy computers making reservations with Southwest to get Cindy home and me in Columbus by 11pm that night for $1000 less than United wanted. Made the reservations, asked the front desk to get us a cab (foregoing the return trip we already had set up for Monday) and went upstairs and packed. We had 2 hours to make the first flight.
Long story slightly shorter (I do NOT want to know how fast the cab driver was driving to the airport, but he got a really nice tip for his efforts) (I think he was driving almost as fast as I do – I just prefer to be holding the wheel when I’m going that fast) lets just say Cindy got home and I made it to Columbus. My brother D was there to pick me up. They got me the last room available at the hotel where they were staying (damn their good taste!) and we crashed for the night.
Got to the hospital Sunday morning. Mom was awake, somewhat alert, and already shaking her finger at us like we weren’t supposed to be there. Too bad. My aunts said she looked much better than she did Saturday morning. Made me wonder just how bad that was. By the end of the day she was able to communicate by writing. At one point they actually cut off the fentanyl because she had trouble with her veins blowing. Apparently Fentanyl can cause trouble with that. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because with the fentanyl clearing out her mind cleared up too. Through the day her communication got better and better. Getting off the fentanyl also turned out to be a blessing in regards to extubation – but more on that later.
Got to talk to doctors, found out what the plan of action was, what was done Saturday morning, and cleared up mom’s rather specific DNR needs with regards to the Jehovahs Witness crap and her own desires to avoid that ugly permanent vegetative state.
Monday was the big day. There were tests to do to determine whether or not the breathing tube could be removed. Mom passed every one with flying colors. Getting off the fentanyl early helped with all of that. Apparently mom tolerated the tube – oh, I don’t even want to go there. But it got her off the fentanyl. By Monday afternoon the tube was out and mom could talk. Sort of. She sounded like Donald Duck. Apparently the end of the air tube actually projects through the vocal cords (how long IS that thing? And do you understand my reluctance to go there?)

Tuesday mom busted out of ICU and got a room in the general population. We were also trying to do a changing of the guard. We tried for 3 days to get our aunts to go home, but they refused to budge. Tuesday morning, I put on the last of my clean clothes and I was out of my daily prescriptions (I packed 1 day extra in case we could take a bump on the way home – never planned for this!) Our youngest brother (K) was headed to Columbus from home. We had asked him to hold off – we knew there was no immediate danger of mom jumping ship and there wasn’t much he was going to add. But by Monday night D and I knew we couldn’t stay longer. Mom was safe-ish and we all had to get back to our real lives. So K arrived Tuesday early afternoon. We had lunch at a place called Katalina’s. Ex gas station, funky little place, but they had THE BEST tacos. Really good lunch and it was near the place where we got mom a wheelie walker with a seat. Win win. Good food & ran an errand.
D, his wife and I finally got home Tuesday night. Mom was discharged late Wednesday. The gang stayed that night in Columbus. They hit the road late Thursday morning and arrived home Thursday just before dinner.
In the end, mom is ok and can now really start to rehab. Her throat malady is cleared up and the teeny bit of aspiration pneumonia she acquired is all but gone. She’s seen her doctor here in town and he’s all up to date on her little excursion and is following up. The scariest part of this whole mess is that had mom been at home, alone Friday night when things started to go sideways she probably wouldn’t have survived. As it was, the ER doctor said she may have been within 30 minutes of not making it as it was.
Mom has asked how many days of vacation we lost. That I told her. It was only 2 days. She hasn’t asked what we paid to make our changes. Wouldn’t matter, I won’t tell her anyhow. Bottom line was she was sick, needed us and we were able to do what was necessary.
The side bonus was that for what may be the first time since Dad died (1993) we 4 brothers were all in the same room at the same time. (I didn’t mention J – the resident Jehovah’s witness and only brother who lives outside our home county. He just chose Tennessee instead of upstate NY) I have to get hold of his wife (also a Cindy) and get a copy of the pictures she took. Haven’t seen them on Facebook yet, but I know she has them.
Best part of it all? Our trip to the French Quarter Festival got so fucked up, we’re going to do it again. Just don’t tell my mom.

Little sign in the hotel bar.  Yes - those are mine.

Little sign in the hotel bar. Yes – those are mine.

It’s coming

There is really a new post in the works about our recent trip to New Orleans. It’s a bit of a bruiser size wise and it’s just taking a bit of time to get through. Here’s a little teaser:

Mandatory NOLA photo

Mandatory NOLA photo

Actually, I lied. We were farther into the square than I thought. Col. Jackson’s statue is actually right behind me. We’re closer to the center of the square.

Countdown

Well. Got more snow than was originally called for. Thought they were calling for an inch of snow Sunday night into Monday. Ended up getting a couple inches Saturday night and another 4 or so Sunday evening into Monday morning. Driveway was warm enough that half of it melted and we don’t fret a couple of inches of snow in the driveway. Maybe now I can put the snow blower away for the season.

24 hours from now (1:53PM EDT 4/5/16) I fully expect to be in one of Boeing’s finest jets headed south out of Chicago, kinda sorta following the Mississippi River down to one of the most fun cities in the country. Going to need a cocktail or two tonight just to get me to sleep.

Everything there is to know about the festival is here: French Quarter Festival I do believe I heard that last year there were 750,000 visitors over the 4 days of the festival. So come on down – there’s plenty of room! I’ll be at the Zydeco stage.

Heading South

Sadly, only a temporary situation.  Headed to New Orleans to hang out for a very long weekend.  We arrive Wednesday afternoon, leave Monday afternoon.  Thursday thru Sunday is the French Quarter Festival.  That’s 4 days of free music on stages spread through out the Quarter (but mostly along the river) from 11 till about 7 every day.

Weather forecast?

NOLA forecast

Home forecast, same time?

home forecast

Just to drive the point home even harder, it’s snowing here now.  We’re expecting 2 – 4 inches tonight.  No biggie really, but it’s April and we’ve had squat for snow this winter.  Maybe 50″ total so far.  Wimpy.  Why try and catch up now?

So if any of you are free Friday or Saturday next week and could swing by and check in on the cat, that’d be cool.  Because at this time next week?  I plan to be up to my ears in Zydeco & gumbo.  And maybe a little Abita Amber.  Or a Hurricane or two.

I saved up on my dataplan last month, I shall try to remember to toss in a photo or two – maybe a selfie with Buckwheat Zydeco himself.  That would be too cool.

Oh yeah – GO ‘CUSE!!!   (One of my boys earned a degree there – was a freshman when they won it all in 2003 even)

 

Testing 1, 2 . . . Testing 1, 2

Day 4210  As a reminder, that’s how many days since I quit smoking back on Aug 22, 2004.  That’s what – 11.5 years, give or take?  Works for me.

By way of updating since I was last here, not too terribly much has changed.  Bought a camper.  Very small – 17 feet, has a fridge, stove, stereo, could sleep 6 in a pinch.  The spousal unit and I like to hit up state parks within about a 2 hour drive and spend long weekends.  New York has some fantastic state parks and decent campgrounds at most of them.  Many are in the Finger Lakes region where we can take advantage of the local wine trails, or spend a day hiking through some of the many gorges in the area.

So yeah – we camp a lot.  Chase the grand kids around a lot too.  Youngest two are now nearly 18 months and couldn’t be more different.  Logan is more the strong silent type while his cousin Cecily is more the magpie type.  Avery, at 4 going on 14 is the reason Logan doesn’t have to talk much – she take care of that for him.  Until she pisses him off and he throws a fit.  Fun to watch.

Lets see, what else?  This winter may become known as the winter that wasn’t.  Temps have been relatively mild, especially compared to last February.  Snow wise we’ve had a measly 51+ inches, compared to a normal season-to-date 79 inches and an annual average of about 100.  Even if March sucks and delivers 2 feet of snow, we’ll end up 2 feet under average.  Since I don’t snow mobile or ski – I’M NOT COMPLAINING!

A few years back we refinanced our mortgage.  Got a rate of 2.62% for a 10 year term.  Dropped our payment a bunch, but I’ve been making the old payment all along.  By making the extra payment we’ve taken the 10 year loan and turned it into a 7.5 year loan.  By October 2020, we’ll have no mortgage to pay!!!

So of course you know we have to go screw that up, right?  The spousal unit has it in her head that we need to get us a ranch house instead of a colonial like we have – and it has to be new construction.  Soooooo – we’re kinda sorta looking.  Mixing & matching plans & builders.  But really, I’m slow playing the situation.  We’ll pick a plan, get an estimate from a builder, figure out what we might net from the sale of our current abode (anyone looking for a 1700 sq ft 3br, 2.5 bath home on a 1/2 acre lot in the suburbs of the snow belt?), then plan on sticker shock scaring her to her senses.  The difficult thing is that we know what kind of space we want, we know what kind of finishes we want.  Combine those with new construction and you end up with more mortgage than I want to carry, in spite of what the banks say I qualify for.  I want to retire in 8 years and really don’t want some huge-assed mortgage hanging over my head, harshing my buzz.  Does that phrase date me any more than saying I want to retire in 8 years?

Bowling season is wrapping up too soon.  I am on my never ending quest to get my average over 190 by seasons end.  Tantalizingly close – only need a few really solid weeks to pull it off.   Think we have 6 weeks left.  Hopefully, golf starts a week or two after that where I can resume my never ending quest to get my handicap under 16.  Ought to be do-able.  Sniffed it for a bit last year, then had a tough round towards the end of the season (damn North Course) and got derailed.

Thinking of signing on for that WordPress prompt a day dealie as a way of getting me back here more often.  Dedicate 30 minutes at lunch time to use their prompt to describe my life – can’t hurt too bad, right?

Back to the zoo . . .

I keep thinking . . .

I keep thinking I should stop in and put in some sort of update. Unfortunately it’s been so long since I really DID post that a proper ‘update’ would take several thousand words. So we’re going to have to let fly with an improper update I guess.

Golf season ended. Happy to say my short game has been showing some pretty good improvement. Feel pretty confident with the wedges (all 4 of them) and the putting has been pretty solid. What I need to work on is consistency off the tee. I can, at times, whack a golf ball near 300 yards, but I have no idea where it’s going. Pull one left, push one right, about every 4th drive I hit an absolute bomb down the middle and end up with a ridiculously short approach shot from a good lie. That I flub. Consistently inconsistent. Got it down pat.

Still at 3 grand kids & holding. Had a first birthday party for little Logan last week, have one to go to for Cecily this weekend. Considering the newest batch of grandkiddies just turned 1, I think it’s fair to say that it might be a while before #4 gets in the oven. Especially after the difficult labor involved with getting little Miss Cecily delivered.

This past July we hitched up the camper and spent a week in the Adirondacks with Eric, Kelly & little Miss Cecily. Her first ever camping trip at all of 10 months old. She had a blast and took advantage of having 4 adults around to cater to her every need. We’re in the midst of planning another trip next summer. Have the campground and campsites picked out, just waiting for the reservation window to open. If you like more ‘rustic’ campsites, I can highly recommend Lake Durant Campground. No electric, no water hookups (but spigots distributed all over the campground), restrooms are decent and the sole shower facility is, well, rustic works. Clean, but clearly showing it’s age.

I broke down and got a solar panel for our camper. With 8 hours of good sunlight a day, we can run interior LED lights with little to no restrictions. Unfortunately, the kind of campgrounds we like are heavily wooded with really nice separation between sites. I was doing good to get 4 hours of direct light most days. On our 6 day trip, we were just slowly losing ground each day. By the time we had packed up and were ready to hit the road, I had to hook up the truck’s power just to roll in the awning – we were that low on juice. But it all worked out. The sites we have picked out for next year have better southern & western exposures (we’re on the shore of a small lake with water to the south & west!!)), so I think we’ll be fine.

Have one more trip planned for Columbus Day weekend. Much as I hate how much the spousal unit drinks 3 – 4 days a week, this trip is in NY’s Finger Lakes wine country. I am sure we’ll spend at least one day of the weekend on the wine trail, checking out wineries we have yet to visit. I’ve adopted the strategy of trying wines I wouldn’t normally drink during the tastings. Learned that I’ve been ignoring some good wines.

For those of you that haven’t read this thing from the beginning, I’ve had tons of experience with this drinking issue the spousal unit has. I’ve done Al Anon, she’s done AA. We’ve done couples counselling and I was seeing a therapist on my own before we started the couples stuff. Then our couples counselor up and moved to Virginia, we never transferred to another therapist and things have slowly spiraled back down to nearly where were 10 years ago.

But I do have my Al Anon learnings to rely on and I can always start attending meetings again. I know where there are a couple near me, problem is getting out on a weeknight to attend. Might just have to run that flag up the pole and see what the reaction is.

Oh – golf ended, so bowling started. Did you know that those sports use different muscles? Boy, I do. I can tell you which ones bowling uses the most too. Right now what aches the most is my left hip flexor (flexing to slide), right forearm (lifting through the ball) and right calf (pushing into the slide). And? 84 degrees in beautiful upstate NY yesterday. That is too damned hot to be bowling. I was wearing one of my tech fabric golf polo’s and it was still darn near dripping. Hate to say it, but I can’t wait for it to cool off. But not like last February. Last Feb we set a record for lowest average monthly temperature in the history of ever for our county. That month long average temp? 12.5. Farenheit. On top of the usual metric ass load of snow we get too. We did kind of wimp out in that category this winter though (too damn cold to snow). We only got 102 inches. Barely average for us. Boston was whining about the 100 inches they got – I wanted to tell them “Hey – Welcome to our average winter!” Buncha wimps.

Game of the century (to date) around here? The new Rex Ryan Era Bills against the hated Patriots. This weeks chant? “Splat the Pats!” Don’t expect me to be answering emails Sunday. I will be on the back porch cheering on my Bills.

Till then – behave or have fun. Pick one.

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