Questions I get about my back

I have been asked a lot about my back lately since this latest incident.  It is tough to answer many of the questions because unless you have had something happen like I have you might not understand it.

 

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Here are the most common questions / things I get about my back:

  1. What is the pain like?That is one of the hardest things to explain since it is not a consistent pain or sensation.  It varies day to day, heck even minute to minute.

    I have some permanent nerve damage from the initial injury.  The damage from that basically took away the reflex in my left ankle.  The doctors can bang the heck out of my Achilles, no response.  The left two outer toes and pretty much a straight line from them to my heel constantly has a pins and needles / numbness feeling.  I’m pretty much used to it but when my back flares up that sensation can intensify greatly!

    The majority of the time I get what I can only describe as a pinching feeling that travels down my left leg.  When I get that feeling I know I have a flare up.  Depending on the flare up is how far the “pinching” will travel.  Usually starts right in the butt cheek or just below and travels down to the back of the knee.  If it goes farther then that…BAD NEWS!

    Then there is the burning!  My older sister has RSD and RSD is described a lot of the time as an INTENSE burning sensation.  So when I get that feeling I always think of her and realize it can ALWAYS be worse.  The burning usually comes along with the pinching sensation and follows it.  Some times it goes up the back as well.

    Pins and needles.  This happens quite often as well.  Follows the pinching / burning but spreads out a bit more.  I have had where the entire front of my leg has that feeling along with numbness.  In fact, I have poked myself with a needle once or twice when this happens and I can not feel the poke at all.

    The newest sensation I had was Wednesday night of this week.  It felt like someone was grabbing just my Achilles tendon and squeezing the heck out of it.  Almost like it was in a vice.

    General tenderness.  I get a lot of tenderness in my hip region.  Not just simple touch that area and I say Ouch!  I’m talking touch that area and I am ready to jump off the examining table.

    General aches.  Another things that happens a lot when there is a flare up.  I get a dull ache that will usually follow the other symptoms.  This is probably the easiest to deal with and ignore but is just plain annoying.

  2. What causes the pain?Another tough one because it can be anything from rolling out of bed, bending over to pick up a piece of paper, standing, sitting, walking, grabbing something out of the fridge.  This morning I got a jolt that fired down my leg when the truck shifted as I turned to go down an On Ramp to the highway.
  3. Why don’t you just do X to fix it?I would love to do X, Y or Z…. hell the whole alphabet if it would fix it.  Each person’s injury is unique.  Each person’s “triggers” are unique.  Like I heard one of my therapists say…”the chance is always there now to have something like this happen again, you just have to do what you can in order to minimize that change.”

    Nothing works on everyone.  There are so many things my aquatic therapist has wanted to try but the timing isn’t right yet or she knows it will cause more issues.  There are also things that work great for one person and the next person it puts them in intense pain.

    I did physical therapy in the past and it did very little to help.  Honestly last time I had my therapist so confused he pretty much gave up since everything we tried just caused further pain.  Electrostim at therapy would work some times and not others.  I even had been prescribed my own machine and it did absolutely nothing.

    Two things have seemed to help the most.
    A) Ultrasound…. but how practical is it to have to have that done all the time.  Not like you can buy a machine for home and self administer it.
    B) Aquatic therapy…. so far this has been the best thing for me.   Between the weight being taken off of everything and the resistance of the water just seems to be the right combination to help.  Insurance can be a bear when it comes to aquatic therapy though, which is a whole different story.

  4. Can’t you just take medication to help with the pain?Sure…..and you can feel like you aren’t yourself, you can start forgetting things, get wonderful digestive system issues, can not operate motor vehicles and possibly become addicted to some hardcore stuff.

    Unfortunately you can’t just pop an Advil or Ibuprofen and call it a day.  Nope you have to take things that you have to hand deliver to the pharmacist.

    Then there is the whole building up a tolerance.  For some reason my system builds up a tolerance QUICK.  I can take a pill that will knock someone else out one day and it will make me drowsy and the pain goes away.  Two days later the same pill is like taking a vitamin and does absolutely nothing for the pain.

All in all it just SUCKS!  I wish there was some magic pill, experimental therapy, cybernetic implant (Yes….I’d take Weapon X up on an offer), brace, injection, medication, yoga, exercise, essential oil, holistic thing, massage, Reiki, etc…. that would be amazing.  Unfortunately there is nothing like this or if there is it isn’t available to the general public.  Maybe there is some crazy operation available in some other country but who really knows.

 

Oh yeah… the other thing that goes along with this whole thing is the frustration.  It’s hard to not be able to live your life like you would want to.  After this last incident am I going to be able to rough house with my 2 year old?  Am I going to be able to show my children things I used to do?  The feeling you have when your child just wants you to pick them up to comfort them…no fun!  Seeing my pregnant wife needing help and myself feeling helpless…no fun!  Give piggy back rides?  Am I going to ever be able pass on my martial arts training to my kids?  Am I going to be able to continue to ride motorcycle?  Am I going to be able to go on my crazy adventures to get that one tough to-get photo?

Ugh!!

DIY…..my home office – the current situation (a.k.a. years later)

I think it is getting closer to being done.  My buddy came up and helped me finish up the drop ceiling.  Started out thinking about using canned lights but switched to some LED lights, maybe I will do a separate post on that.

THE FLOOR
The floor is the first thing I need to finalize.  I think I bit off more than I can chew from the beginning.  Should have probably just went with some more carpet but of course….. I want to do hardwood.  After finding out the floor was insanely not level and just a complete mess we got that fixed up with a while bunch of self leveling concrete.  Also added a layer of DriCore flooring.  My plan was just to level it off to the closet door and main door and figure something out from there.

….AND….

Now I’m to that point.  I have decided to use stair nose as a “threshold.”  Obviously not going to be easy but hey “Go BIG or go home!”  I’m trying to figure out the logistics of cutting the stair nose to make things work.  Basically the “nose” will be on the inside of the closet and on the outside of the office in the hallway.  So I need to figure out how to notch the wood cleanly.  Unfortunately I don’t have the plethora of tools that I could probably use.  I think I am going to call in a favor or two on this one.

stairnose1Need to cleanly cut where the red line is and not make it look like I did it with a butterknife

Once I get that done I will pretty much use that to “lock” the floating floor in and be done with that project.  I will have to do some monkeying around for some of the little pieces I will have to custom make in order to finish it.  I have a ton of scrap and I can play with that and goof up several times before the “final.”

Unfortunately with the stair nose I am limited.  I ordered my flooring from Lumber Liquidators years ago and they no longer have that flooring available and they had to look all over the US to get the two pieces I was able to get.

Then will come the closet door and office door.  Both I think I am going to have to call some favors in on too.  NEVER EVER done anything like those before but I am definitely willing to learn.  I can always do a lot of DIY, HGTV and YouTube watching.

Unsure what I will do for doors.  I do like the look of knotty pine, but I think that might be mixing too many different types of wood.  For sure I will be using solid core.  I want to get rid of the hollow cores entirely in the house.

So we shall see.

THE ACCENT WALL
This has always been my big focal point of the room and I actually had plans from Day 1 on what to do with it.  I love the look of rough cedar so thats what I covered the wall with.

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I really enjoyed picking out the wood for this wall.  I think cedar has a lot of “personality” and uniqueness and it shows pretty easily.  I did not want it to look anywhere near perfect.   I like the the little imperfections, wrong spacing, etc….  The one thing I wish I would have done was painted the wall black first and then started placing the wood on it.  Oh well….. live and learn.

The focal point of this wall will be a large map of the ocean floors that my friend Tim bought me as a house warming gift back when I moved in.  I loved the look of the map and was just waiting for the right place for it and this wall is it!

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I definitely do need to come up with something frame wise for the map.  It just won’t look right by itself.  More to come on this…

My plan is to also surround the map by some of my own photography including places I have been around the United States, some other odds and ends and most likely all of the passes I have from my travels to different conventions over the years.  I know for sure I will have a picture I took of the Stanley Hotel in Colorado somewhere on that wall.

THE “TEMPLE OF NERDOM”
Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a bit of a nerd and darn proud of it.

  • I have collected comics since I was a young child, my brother got me into them when I was really little.
  • Have a large collection of toys (Star Wars, POP Vinyl, McFarlane, etc)
  • LEGOs (Love ’em)
  • Prints that I have collected at various conventions I have attended (still need to get my grail, a print by Ramos)

So far I have started one wall, the wall I will eventually have my computer desk against.  Started with 3 baseball bat display cases from Michaels’ to show off some of my favorite POP Vinyl’s and some other collectibles I will be taking out of storage eventually.

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I also put up some prints up that I have picked up along the way.  Two of my favorites from UrbnPop of Godzilla and Groot.  I ran out of frames for the other half of the wall but have them on order so I can finish off that wall in its entirety.

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WINDOW TREATMENT
I wanted something unique for the window treatment.  I didn’t want just a plain old curtain rod.  I wanted something unique so the wife and I did a little looking on good ‘ole Pinterest and came across several pins of people using black pipe for a curtain rod.

A) It’s strong

B) It’s unique looking

C) It’s cheaper then a chintzy curtain rod

So we made the measurements and headed off to Home Depot to have the pipe cut.  Absolutely love the final product.  Sure it was a pain in the butt to get the curtain on but it sure as heck looks cool.

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OTHER STUFF

  • I’ve been working on a handmade computer desk for a while.  Still need to make the leg structure and most likely some sort of structure underneath to store things like a scanner and printer.
  • Since I have a back injury I think I am going to look into getting some sort of convertible addition to the desk so I can stand when I need to.  Unfortunately those aren’t the cheapest things on the planet
  • I will need to either purchase or DIY some sort of multi monitor stand.  I currently use four monitors at work and would like to have at least two if not more at home.  Since I do photo editing multiple monitors always help.
  • Need to make some sort of work desk on the opposite wall.  I want to start getting back into drawing and doing some other customization stuff.  Need a good place to work on that kind of thing.  Plus I want a place where I can build LEGOs when my kids are of age.
  • Looking for some sort of storage for my cameras and all the gear that goes along with that.  I have an old plastic Stanley work cabinet that would work awesome as a base of a work desk and has a ton of room but I would need another one and can not find them anymore.  The one I have is probably 10+ years old.
  • Trying to figure out a way to display some of my comic books.  I don’t have any holy grails worth millions so its not for anything like that but I love the artistry in comics and would love to be able to display some of my favorites.

So as you can see, I have my work cut out for me but I love doing this stuff and as long as my wife is patient with me I will get it done ONE DAY!!

At the end of the day I can also say “I DID THIS”…… It gives me and my wife things to do together that we both enjoy…. so its a win win!

Chronic fatigue – Something hard to understand

Plain and simple chronic fatigue sucks.  There are so many things that come along with it… constant lack of energy, foggy brain, weird pains….

…AND…

one of the hardest to understand, insomnia.  I am asked all the time….if you are tired and run down all the time how the heck can you have insomnia?

You would think if you were tired and rundown nearly every second of the day that sleep would come easily.  Some times it does other times you can end up with major insomnia.  I would say I have insomnia at least twice a week.  I go to bed being absolutely wiped out and figuring sleep would come almost instantly but it doesn’t.  A lot of times my brain just won’t shut down, its kicked into overdrive with thoughts, stress, worry, ideas…

NON-STOP!

The next day I am completely wiped out.  Mentally exhausted.  Tired.  Sadly need to caffeine up to make it through the day.

I have tried prescribed sleeping medication (which I have heard recently they can shorten your life span) and Melatonin.  Both lead to a temporary “fix”.  Quite often I will fall asleep within a few minutes of taking something, wake up like an hour later feeling like I have slept for hours and then right back to the whole insomnia thing.

I really wish there was an easy fix.  Unfortunately there isn’t one.

Chronic fatigue……ugh!

Adrenal Health was working wonders for me, until the past few weeks.  I’m not sure what is causing the change.  Stress at work, stress at home, financial stress or something else.  Not 100% sure but I am thinking it is stress related.

I have been spending way more time outside working on some projects, getting fresh air and lots of sunlight.  When I am active doing things outside I don’t feel like I get fatigued.

When I am at work in the office I seem to be visiting that brick wall once again.  The “crash” seems to hold off until I get home but between 5 and 6 I feel like I am ready for a nap.  My eyes get really heavy, yet there is no nap to be had.  I can lay down and try to take a rest but never fall asleep.

Very frustrating!

I’m not really sure what the next step should be.  I really need to come up with something!  Life like this really SUCKS!!

Latest project: DIY PVC dog cage for our Avalanche

We had a little incident last year with our dogs, baby gates and a 1 year old all crammed in the back seat of our Avalanche.  Our Husky, Nanook, jumped over my left shoulder and into my lap while we driving.  I also had some incidents with both dogs when I would take them to the vet or the groomer.  Luckily nothing major ever happened but the dogs couldn’t go with us until we came up with a solution.

We couldnt simply put them in the back of the truck.  Our Shepard, Kona, already jumped out of the window of a moving car.

Complete spaz dogs.  Sure we could have just got different dogs but I come from a background of dogs not being a possession but a member of the family.

After a whole bunch of online searching I came across a couple guys in Hawaii, worried about their dogs jumping out of their trucks. Both decided to use PVC to create an enclosure in their trucks.

…Of course this got me thinking!!

With only mental plans we headed to Home Depot and picked up some supplies.

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  • 8 90s
  • 45 Ts
  • 15 Xs
  • About 50 feet of 1 inch PVC
DSC_2692The first mock up was just a simple “does it fit”

I wanted it to fit in tight and not need too much for attaching it in the bed of the truck.  I figured if worse came to worse I could attach to the tie downs.

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The back end of it fits in very tight.  The front fits in pretty snug up under the plastic by the back window.  I would honestly feel comfortable not tying it down, but I do use a couple of longer thicker zip ties to tie it down in the back.

We used Kona to check the initial setup.  If any dog is going to get out of something it will be her.  Sure enough, she could stick her head and pretty much her body through the top and bottom tubes.

Since I bought a whole bunch of extra pieces, just in case, it was easy to do some cuts, add a couple Ts and Xs, throw in some pipes to make the back and sides a little more “escape proof”.

DSC_3859The back corners are wide enough for the dogs to stick their noses out.

Without having any sort of written plan the bars on top were a measurement-figuring-out nightmare!  I had to play around with several different idea before I actually made any cuts.

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Eventually I figured everything out, made the cuts and put it together.

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Test Run #1

As suspected Nanook either paced or found a corner to sit in and enjoy the ride. Kona, on the other hand, found every way possible to get her head up and out of the cage.  About a mile away from home she figure out how to get her entire body out, stand on her hind legs and look over the truck.  You should have seen the looks on the faces of oncoming traffic.

After some more brainstorming I decided I had two options.  One, add more crossbars or Two, add some netting.  I had purchased some pet friendly patio door screen but decided that would be a royal pain to cut and fit into the contraption.  Headed back to Home Depot and swapped the screen for some PVC netting and a couple of bags of zip ties.

DSC_3938Rachelle jumped in to help attach the netting and clip the 100+ zip ties.

Test Run #2

DSC_3957The netting actually provides a little bit of shading.

This time things went much better……. sort of.  The netting kept both of the dogs in until we were once again close to home.  I hadn’t put any netting on the front, near the back window.  Figured neither of them would try to get out.  Boy was I wrong!  Kona once again snaked her body out, stood on her hind legs and looked over the top of the truck.

Luckily I had a bunch of the netting left over and tied some on to the front.

Test Run #3

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Complete success.  Kona has not found any way to get out of the enclosure.

It is light enough where either Rachelle or myself can put it in the back of the truck. The dogs have gone to the dog park without incident a couple times since building the enclosure.

Now I just have to figure out some sort of step so the dogs can easily get into the back of the truck.  They have no issues jumping off the tailgate but we have to pick them up since the tailgate is just a bit too high for them to jump.

Seems like it has been forever…

…since I clicked the shutter release of my camera.  A few weeks back I had taken pictures of my friends yearly event in Atlanta but it just isn’t the same.  My chronic fatigue threw a wrench in to a lot of things in my life. Going out, wandering, exploring and taking pictures was a huge passion that just seemed to vanish from my life.

Last night lit the fire again!

After seeing pictures on the news and social media of the Northern Lights I HAD to get out and see if I could capture anything.

Decided to head out to one of my favorite spots and see what would happen.  The water was high and fast, not a whole lot of real estate to setup on but we made the best of it.  The sky was loaded with stars, the sound of the river was almost deafening but extremely relaxing and peaceful at the same time.  I REALLY missed this!

Clicking any of the images will open a larger version

DSC_4003Testing things out

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DSC_4021Played around with a little light painting.
The flashlight I used was WAY too powerful and that darn branch in the bottom of the frame kept getting in the way.

DSC_4048Changed my view

DSC_4052Once the moon went down, we looked to the West and it looked like something out of a Sci-Fi movie

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I also played around with an intervalometer and did some time lapse shots.  I definitely didn’t do it long enough.

Next time I will be taking multiple cameras.  One to do some time lapse and the other to just play with.

Latest on my chronic fatigue

Went to Florida two weeks ago for work. Did I come back with a nasty sunburn? Nope I come back with a wicked sinus infection. Sinus infection on top of chronic fatigue equals a whole lot of no fun.

I ran out of my Adrenal Health right before I flew out to Florida. At first things were fine but then the fatigue started to come back. Not as bad as it was but I was definitely burnt out when I got home from work at night. As the days went on the fatigue has been getting worse. Today I am totally wiped out.

I had not ordered another bottle of Adrenal Health since I wasn’t really sure it was doing anything. Now I know it was.

I did place an order for a new bottle and it should be here tomorrow. Hopefully that will kick things back to the way they were.

I have discussed Adrenal Health and my results with two doctors now. I basically laid it out like this…

“A friend of mine had suggested I give this stuff a try. The friend that suggested it is very grounded in science so I figured I would give it a shot. Like he said what’s the worst that can happen? You waste thrity bucks.”

Be it the placebo effect or things really helping I honestly don’t care since it has helped me!

The first doctor said he’ll they throw everything but the kitchen sink inthat, nothing is harmful and if it works go for it.

My “regular” doctor, who I saw today, looked into the ingredients and explained how though she hadn’t heard of some, others were reported to do this and that. She also said if it works for you keep on it, we have tried some heavy stimulants and other medications, take what works for you. She also said she was going to do some more research and let me know if anything set off red flags, like something that would kill me in a week or make me grow a tail. Hmmmmmmm, a tail might be cool though.

Now I wait for the big brown truck to deliver my savior in a bottle. Can’t wait to go for round two and see what sort of results I get.

 

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Supplement: Adrenal Health – Week 2

It’s been a little over 2 weeks now since I started taking Adrenal Health.  The effects seem to be fading a bit.

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I feel like I am starting to hit that brick wall in the mid-afternoon, my eyelids feel heavy, yawning for no reason, starting to get the groggy feeling back.

Some of this might be coming from  are things that I think I am letting stress me out too much or from other things that are just bothering me.  Maybe smashing my toe this past weekend and it putting a damper in the mix hasn’t helped.  At least that is something that is taking care of itself and the swelling and bruising have been going down.

It could also be coming from the way my body seems to metabolize any kind of medication or supplement.  My body, for some stupid reason, seems to build up tolerances to things very quickly.  Any sort of medication I end up having to have to take a higher dosage of very quickly.  Im not sure about a higher dosage of Adrenal Health, I will have to do some research.

Only time will tell……

Supplement: Adrenal Health

I have been dealing with Chronic Fatigue for quite a few years now.  I have been medically tested for what seems like everything under the sun, including low testosterone, thyroid issues, vitamin deficiencies, sleep apnea and more.

I have gone through a laundry list of medications.  Most having zero effect on me.

I have had issues ever since my back problems and surgery.  To add to the existing frustration and limitations from the back issues, my energy levels, mood, headaches and depression just continued to plummet over the past few months.  I was getting super irritable and touchy.  Not a place where I wanted to be.

I was also starting to hit a brick wall at about two in the afternoon.  ZERO drive and ambition.  Absolutely no energy.  My mind, which hasnt been as sharp since what I feel was all the different pain medications and muscle relaxers that I went through during my back issues, was starting to get even foggier.  I basically became a zombie.

After posting something online a friend of mine private messaged me and suggested I give a this Adrenal Health supplement a try.  Sure another “natural” thing that is supposed to work wonders was my immediate thought.

I decided to give it a shot after some further discussion, reading many reviews, thought and realizing its only twenty five bucks wasted if it doesnt work (much cheaper then a doctors appt).

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Ive now been taking Adrenal Health at its recommended dose for a little over a week.  I have to say, it actually seems to be helping.

  • My mood has not been terrible like it was.
  • I still have some tiredness but I dont hit that brick wall in the afternoon.  Im usually good up until the time I am ready to go to bed.
  • Havent had a headache in a while.
  • Depression is nowhere near what it was.

I would definitely recommend giving this a try if.  Whats the worst thing that could happen?  You are out a few bucks.