back to db
Just Wear and Tear ...
I've worked pretty hard for several
decades now, and have some wear and tear to show for it. Nothing
life threatening, just some stuff that must be addressed. I've
needed corrective surgery for Carpal Tunnel syndrome for some
time now, and just can't delay it any longer.
For quite a few years, very long hours
and too many days without a break brought on alot of arm pain,
arm weakness, joint pain, and hand numbness. Unpleasant ... but
manageable - and linear ... it came, it recovered predictably.
I always had the most trouble after the big push was over. I managed
to get thru alot of deadlines that way. Regained ground slowly
Well, after Standing Stone 2 (three
years ago), everything hit like a train wreck. Arm pain, joint
pain, arm weakness, hand numbness, lost of sensation in my fingers,
severe neck pain. And, thus began a loooong series of tests and
rounds of Drs. While we went thru the MRIs, CAT scans, blood work,
nerve conductivity tests, etc., I worked pumped full of Ibuprofen,
wrapped in therma care heat wraps, and rubbed down with the full
host of topical pain rubs. They were some really lousy months
We knew over 30 years of hard work
had resulted in the bursitis, tendinitis, and arthritis which
I fought all of the time. However; the test results came back
confirming that I was also fighting carpal tunnel in both wrists
(the left was severe) and I also had two ruptured discs in my
neck. The neck was extremely painful, made it really difficult
for me to hold my head straight, and the two bad discs were letting
the vertebra press on the nerve bundles which service my arms.
This was causing strength loss, co-ordination loss, and hand/finger
numbness. Lovely. Working with my head bent over machines and
workbenches all day was really pushing the limits of Bengay and
Therapy quickly proved to be useless.
It was a mechanical problem - the structure was broken. So, we
looked up a fine neuro-surgeon, and he unzipped my neck, inserted
some bone grafts, titanium plates, and screwed it all up nice
and tight with big ole titanium screws. Tidy. And, with the voice
of a 12 year old for some months ('cause they go thru the front
of your neck for this procedure and jack aside your voice box)
... I was sent home unsure my head would stay on ... and with
a fist full of pain pills. The pain pills worked, but had the
unfortunate side effect that they caused me to forget to breathe.
Hummm. It was suggested I cease taking them. Good idea. ;?)
So ... did it work? Yes it did. Strength
and sensitivity returned. It had all taken about nine months of
severe pain, several Drs., endless tests, therapy, scheduling,
surgery, and recovery. Pc. of cake.
But what about the nerve tests, the
carpal tunnel, the arthritis ... all that good stuff? Have no
fear ... like old friends, they stuck with me. To all of the various
things we've discussed thru the years, add these issues which
make the work more of a challenge. But, I could work and I have
worked. Now, I've been advised that I can't wait any longer. Many
of you have told me you have enjoyed seeing some of my steel carving
work lately. Many have expressed that they wished they had the
ability to do that sort of work. Well, I have a very real interest
in "retaining" my ability to do such things. I've been
working for years by developing methods of compensating for the
pain and erosion. Well aware of my workload, I've postponed treatment
against Dr's advice.
Why now? Well, it comes down to critical
mass. There's another chapter to the Saga. The arthritis, bursitis,
tendinitis, and carpal tunnel together make for a really interesting
night. I was put on the arthritis drug BEXTRA. Ring a bell? Yeah
... the one they took off the market. Well, before that ... it
was a really great help to the endless aches and pains. BUT ...
I was having some really weird pains at night. Following up on
those weird symptoms, lead me thru a whole new amusement park
of Drs. who wanted to explore my heart for the possible trouble.
Thank GOD my heart was NOT the trouble. However; it took months
to find that out. Along with stress tests, ultrasounds, MRIs,
CAT scans, dire predictions, and even a heart cath. procedure!
Bottom line ... my heart is just fine.
My arteries are just fine. I voluntarily stopped taking the BEXTRA,
on my own, during all these tests ... before it was pulled from
the market. And ... what do you know ... my weird symptoms faded
and stopped. But I've not gotten any of the Drs. to say it was
related. Hummm - yeah - right.
Well. The BEXTRA (which was making
the arthritis tolerable and keeping the carpal tunnel under control)
ceased doing those things when I ceased taking it. Enter more
pain and more susceptibility to carpal symptoms. We build toward
critical mass. Schedule behind ... work harder. Work harder ...
more symptoms. More symptoms ... more pain. More pain ... the
work is harder yet. You can only take it so far. Add in a bad
knee I screwed up a few years ago ... and another bad disc in
my lower back causing left leg and foot problems ... and ... it's
now time to start some of the repairs before my resale value devaluates
any farther. ;?) Hey - let's do the left wrist first!
Everything I've ever told you regarding
any delay to the schedule has been the truth. I haven't added
in all of this story, because it's already complex enough with
just the airgun related issues. In addition, every time I get
a cold, people become certain I'm gonna die just to get out of
work. ;?) Now ... take for example ... had I mentioned all the
heart test stuff earlier ... everyone would have freaked without
even knowing the results. Turns out ... my heart is perfectly
healthy. That was all a wild goose chase of symptoms most likely
caused by a drug which is now off the market. Alot of my customers
are Docs, technicians, and engineers. One medical tech. has done
heart ultrasounds for over 20 years. We'd discussed my symptoms
at a previous Cup shoot. This time, he actually brought an eighty
thousand dollar portable ultrasound machine to the recent Cup
shoot! You missed it. He gave me a professional ultrasound right
there, and declared me USDA Prime ... good to go. ;?) Now that's
service, and I sure appreciate it Bill.
You just can't plan in all of this
sort of stuff into a ledger schedule. Toss in your daughter having
triplets, friends and family issues, funerals, weddings, obligations
... and it takes a far better man than me to project accurately
years down the road. Fortunately, waiting for a custom airgun
is not like waiting for a kidney transplant. It's a hobby and
it will keep. The portion of the work which is done, will stay
done. And, I'll continue on and finish every commitment. I just
need maintenance like just about every other 50 year old human.
I hope you will understand. I put it off as far as I could, for
the sake of catching up as much as possible first.
We're scheduling for an immediate surgical
procedure now. Everybody heals at their own pace. I heal pretty
quickly, and self-employment is a real motivator. ;?)
I would appreciate your thoughts, well
wishes, prayers, fruit baskets, magazines, etc. ... ;?)