It’s been a while since my last blog. To be honest I have not been very motivated to write during the last 5 months because there have been other priorities.
First we finally sold our home in SW Washington during a period when the prospects were grim. The market in Clark county was saturated with about 40% of homes in foreclosure forcing us to get realistic and drop the price dramatically to even have a serious chance.
During that period we were looking for a new home and had initially made an offer on a home in McKinleyville. In retrospect it was good that the deal fell through.
The house that we were fortunate to find is perched on a ridge only 4.5 miles from the pacific coast in an area that was once graced by old growth redwoods.
The area was logged at the turn of the last century and today large stumps (some 12 feet in diameter) remain as monuments with second and third growth Redwoods growing from them. These giant monuments blackened by fire are testimony to their resilience and persistence.
Our home on a sometimes windy ridge in Fieldbrook, California
In the meantime I was concerned about my mother who has been in slow decline due to her age and condition. Driving down to help her for up to a week at a time and seeing her struggle with pain caused by multiple compression fractures in her spine due to osteoporosis was difficult.
This photo was taken of her last spring just weeks before she could no longer get out of bed on her own.
I recently had to make the toughest decision in my life when it was obvious that she could no longer live alone. I spent a day checking out the options and placed her in a convalescent facility in Santa Rosa where she is close to family and friends.
Now there is no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision because I have observed a positive change in her. The people caring for her at Creekside Convalescent and Rehabilitation have been nothing short of compassionate, respectful and conscientious. My mother likes them and has not mentioned a word about going home. I am now relieved knowing that she is in good hands 24 hours a day.
In the meantime we went through the moving process yet another time all the while my right arm incapacitated by what I would soon find out was worse than expected upon initial diagnosis. Finally after 6 months from the initial injury to my shoulder I now know why I have been in constant pain.
When I eventually found a Orthopedic surgeon (John LeBlanc),in Arcata he recommended surgery after an MRI showed a 5mm tear in the supraspinatus muscle (rotator cuff).
I decided to opt for physical therapy to avoid having my arm in a sling for 8 weeks and being unable to do much of anything which I knew would make me even more cantankerous.
Unfortunately my fate was sealed on the day I fell while outside on uneven terrain exploring potential camera trap sites. The physical therapy had improved my range of motion nearly 75% and I felt that I would eventually cast a fly line, golf and chop wood again.
After the fall I could not even lift my arm so there was no other option but to have the surgery.
The surgery took place on July 15 and lasted over 4 hours because when the surgeon got into the injured site he found that the fall had torn the entire Supraspinatus muscle/Tendon and it had retracted.
The physical therapy has been no picnic but then you know what they say “no pain no gain”! So each day I must extend the arm to at least 90 degrees to prevent the arm from “freezing” thus making the prognosis limited.
When my arm was in a sling I noticed how people tried to help and one person came over and helped me put items in the back of my pickup and referred to me as “sir”. I thought maybe I should hang on to this sling for awhile because I don’t get that kind of sympathy at home. Just kidding of course because my wife has
Always been very helpful and compassionate.
My problems were not over after the surgery because the pain medication (Norco) that was prescribed caused severe side effects. Without the medication for the first month the pain would have been unbearable but after about 6 weeks I began taking only 2 per day instead of one every 4 hours. I was extremely constipated, lethargic, depressed and woke up in the early hours with back pain that felt like a truck ran over me.
Upon researching the drug I learned that it is essentially "Vicodin on steroids".
If one checks the internet there is much anecdotal information on Norco withdrawal problems and it’s addictiveness.
It was then that I stopped taking the drug “cold turkey” and the first night was the beginning of two weeks of very uncomfortable withdrawals.
The symptoms included night sweats, extreme insomnia, restlessness, agitation, pain, involuntary leg movements and listlessness the following day.
I feel better now but my once active body is rusting away and all of the aches and pains of aging are magnified more than ever.
Over the 9 1/2 months since my initial shoulder injury my muscles have atrophied and my strength diminished.
The condition made it necessary to hire a young man to help with weeding and mulching, staining the deck rails,cleaning the roof and drains.
I was fortunate to find a great person Mark O'Hare an Eagle Scout from New Jersey who is also a musician and plays in a local group called "Papa Houli and the Fleas."
He and his friend Rebecca also a musician (Steel drums) and part of the group have helped me greatly.
I have been getting out for limited periods to work in the yard caring for the garden and pond and planting new plants and generally improving our beautiful Zen garden.
We have enjoyed very much letting our two indoor cats wander in our fenced garden watching them chase grasshoppers, butterflies, chipmunks, and birds.
Now they are spoiled and everyday follow me around to tell me they want to play outside.
I am fortunate to have two wonderful cats and a wife who know me and my sometimes cantankerous moods but love me anyway.