January 5th, 2014
SO. My birthday passed without event. Then, Special Ed’s and the coinciding darkest day of the year. Big Sam’s birthday (may he rest peacefully) and the coinciding coming of the new year! All without event. That is to say, I’m still here!
Just before christmas we had a nice visit from our good friend Todd (which included a viewing of quicksilver.. aahhhhh.. too good). We had a very nice christmas. Brother Zach rolled through with nephew Gunnar. We ate some beautiful racks of lamb. The day after christmas, Matt arrived. Ever steady Matt. Poor guy is going to go broke if I don’t die soon!! These flights from Japan MUST be adding up! He has been a great sport. Just helping me out in the shop. Helping with grocery shopping.. cooking.. you name it.
I finished up the stools and a batch of wooden crates for Hill. Just a whole mess of cedar crates for her to use as modular furniture around the house.. bed side tables, book shelves, stools, whatever.
The next little project that I’m gearing up for is making frames for photographs. I’ve been going back through all my old negatives looking to see what I missed. Looking to find those photos that, for whatever reason, didn’t catch my eye then, but maybe do now! Looking for treasure. Also just archiving – making good scans of the photos I know I like and storing them away on drives with some redundancy. In this process, though, I’m trying to identify those images that I think really deserve to be printed. Because of questions of resolution, and of the way the eye perceives reflected light versus projected light, photographs simply look different in print. The quality of ink jet printing has gotten to a point that makes it possible to have a GREAT deal of control at home without a dark room and to produce images that are truly stunning. I really love this analog to digital process. Shooting on film, developing at home, scanning to digital, and then digitally printing, after magically getting rid of whatever dust you might like to, and making whatever other adjustments to the contrast and color balance feel necessary.
But then what!? Then you’ve got a print on a piece of paper and you do what with it? Put it on the fridge with a magnet, I guess?
I’ve decided to try to go a step farther. I’ve decided to pick out individual photos that I’ve taken that I’m proud of and actually give some thought to how I think they’d best be displayed. Then make an appropriate frame, and mat if a mat is called for, and complete a few pieces! Maybe just to be scattered around among family members, or shoved in boxes and stored safely in the basement where maybe gunnar will discover them in 15 or 20 years. Who knows. But. I’ve got the urge to do it.
Naturally with me, however, nothing is ever all that simple, and the gears begin to turn and before you know it I’m placing orders for bars of aluminum and brass and bits of threaded rod, and tooling, because if you’re going to make some frames, you should probably re-invent the wheel entirely and come up with a universal fixture for putting them together, that in its own right will be a beautiful object, and take up whole lot of your time and creative energy.
Sadly there is a wrinkle. Starting sometime a little bit before my birthday, I began to notice that my left pinky and ring finger were a little tingly and numb.
“shit” I cataloged it. The next time that Dr. Dana asked me if I had developed any numbness or tingling I’d have to report that, why yes!, I did have some.
Over the course of a few weeks the numbness got worse. This is to say that it got more intense and covered a bigger area of my hand and lower arm. I also began to loose a little strength in the hand. I first noticed when I was unable to hold a piece of sand paper onto a sanding block (that pinky and ring finger simply unwilling to comply).. and then was unable to squeeze tooth paste.. unable to turn the key to open the front door. Last night I was unable to clip my finger nails, and was nearly unable to zip up my own shirt.
Along with this numbness and loss in use has come, you guessed it!, a great deal of pain. Starting from the back of the elbow/base of the triceps, the pain radiates up the back of the arm, around the shoulder and under the scapula to the spine.
Now. I have well documented herniated disks at just the right level to be causing this. I also have a PT from VT who comes to visit me on weekends that he’s able, and he gave me a solid work over recently, and we were able to determine together that there was a clear impingement of the C8 nerve root and yet could not find a single position or stretch that offered any relief.
I had a fairly intense spike in that particular pain a few weeks ago, and Dana came by for a visit. It took her very little time to give me some pretty disturbing news. She didn’t think the impingement was coming from the disk level at all, but somewhere a little ways away from the spine.
For some time now on that left side, I have had clustered in that soft notch created by the clavicle, a few very hard swollen lymph nodes (I noticed these months ago, and my hospice nurse pointed out that our bodies are loaded with lymph nodes and that they can get swollen for any number of reasons..) It is Dana’s feeling that these are the tip of the ice berg so to speak.. there is a whole chain of lymph nodes running up from the presumed center of the action. These new symptoms are a good indication that these nodes are involved, and swollen, and that it is probably THEM pressing on the C8 nerve root.
There are a couple of reasons that this isn’t really great news. A couple of reasons that we wish it was actually a herniated disk. The first is that if a disk was causing the problem, it is likely that some corrective exercises could clear it up. (it is also likely that the steroids I’m on would have diminished any inflammation in that area to a degree that I wouldn’t be feeling symptoms to begin with!). But the big piece of bad new is that this is a good indication that the cancer is migrating north. Towards my brain pan. Also that given the speed with which these symptoms are developing, that things seem to be moving pretty quickly.
The loss of use of my hand is one of the most disturbing developments so far. I have had to get used to shitting in a bag, and not being able to ride a bike (even if that turned out to be the ranting of a mad man the first time around), and the fact that my penis won’t get hard, and yet not being able to clip my own fingernails last night nearly destroyed me. For it to come at a time when I have so many projects that I want to do in the shops.. Well. I guess when wouldn’t it? Right? I’m still managing to function out there.
I’m sorry. I’m unable to stay awake. I’m going to go ahead and post this as it is. I need to go and have a rest. Please pardon any incoherence. Perhaps I’ll read it over when I wake up..