Driving I-95 N. Free the Bird in the Net.

Cervical spondylosis, was his diagnosis. December 19th. And the start of 30 days of physical therapy.

And a maniacal routine of daily stretching exercises. And tracking the activity on an IOS App. Because that’s how Obsessive’s roll.

The slow heal arrives. Then Relief.  And the bliss of pain-free days. Ah yes, Youth returns. A few days of lolling in Full Gratitude…I’m as Good as new!

This is followed by the suspension of physical therapy. The total cessation of daily stretching supplements. And the IOS App is dumped into a folder with other apps left to Die.

Then we have a slow roll back to habits, to Life, to Work, and The Return to Sedentary World.

It’s late yesterday afternoon. The commute home. I gently turn my neck to check for traffic in my blind spot, and find its motion restricted, followed by a lightning dart down the shoulder and down the arm. It’s back. Heaviness sets in – Mood darkens.

I return my attention to traffic, and sit frozen in place. Puffs of breath working to provide relief.

And, I replay The Week Day. [Read more…]

Running to 2018. (Not.) Grounded.

It’s the morning weigh-in, the same weigh-in that takes place every morning during the prior 365 days, but there are differences. Major similarities and major differences. A few notables.

It’s New Year’s Day.

It’s early morning, and I’m in the bathroom.

For the pre-weigh-in ritual, I prepare. I sit on the toilet and drain every ounce of excess weight. Every ounce counts.  And then, I strip the body of all clothing. Socks. Undershirt. Undershorts. And, Smartwatch. Yes, I sleep with to measure sleep time, even though measuring the inverse, insomnia, would be a more useful and interesting data point for researchers.

While I’m sitting pondering life on the toilet, I admire the new scale sitting on the floor in front of me. A Xmas gift from the Kids. An electronic scale from Nokia, the “Body Cardio.” It has a smooth, gunmetal finish, and was manufactured by some craftsman (craftswoman?) in Espoo, Finland. You step on the scale and its gremlins beam your weight, heart rate, fat mass, muscle mass, water and bone mass, directly to your Health Mate smartphone app. A miracle, really, all of it.

I reach for the counter to raise myself ever so gently from the toilet, trying to avoid ripping the sutures. The eyes skitter frantically trying to avoid the midsection. But as hard as they try, they can’t: Unavoidable. From the waist down to the upper thigh, the skin is discolored, a dark, deep purple – Skin’s way of saying: “Listen Pal, while you were resting peacefully under anesthesia for this ‘routine’ surgery, I was getting chopped up.” And if that wasn’t enough, there was swelling, significant swelling around the incision and freakish skin discoloration of all of Man’s reproductive organs. And this swelling is not that which you find part of the normal, reproductive process. Routine surgery? Will this all work again? A nightmare, really.

The heat is turned down overnight, I’m standing on cold floor tile, I shiver. Can’t bear to look.

I look back up.  I take a deep breath, and deliberately take one step and then the other to stand on the cool metal scale. The eyes are panicked, doing everything possible to bypass the midsection carnage and focus on the digital readout.

The scale recognizes the weight, which triggers a digital read-out: “Happy New Year David.” The ‘Happy New Year’ is wrapped in beautiful white fireworks. Nice touch. I hope the Happy part commences soon. The scale mechanically proceeds through its sequence of weight (including day over day up/down change), my heart rate, BMI, muscle mass, water and bone mass. Then it offers up the previous day’s step count. And, shares today’s weather, the high and low temperature.  Miracle, all of it.

So, we can stop here. Breath deeply and say, ok, life goes on.

But there’s more. A wee bit more to this story. [Read more…]

For the deepest moments in life—for love, for prayer—we close our eyes. I wanted to see that way

howard_axelrod

(Two years in the woods.) I brought no computer, no television, no cellphone. There was a land line, which rang maybe twice a month, so a wrong number was an event…

Five years earlier, during my junior year at Harvard, a freak accident had blinded me in my right eye. During a pick-up game of basketball, as we scuffled for a rebound, a boy’s finger hooked behind my eyeball and severed its attachment to my optic nerve, the cable that connects the eye to the brain. The pain was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. There was nothing the doctors could do. The loss of vision to my right eye was permanent. With vision in only one eye, there’s no stereopsis, no depth perception. And without depth perception, the world looked simultaneously flat and permeable, like I’d crossed the threshold into a fantasy land, where nothing was solid, including my sense of myself…

To compound my disorientation, after the blood dissipated, my eye looked as it always had. The gap between how I presented myself and how people saw me widened into a gulf. And the track I’d been on, which headed toward law school, and the old track of my thinking, which often allowed the comfort of achievement to substitute for meaning, and which had kept me from entering into the passing landscape to forge my own values, became impossible to live by… [Read more…]

A Slow Walk. Back.

back-light-pain-hurt

Monday

Bliss.
All systems go.
Light gushes in and warms.

The day was crisp and bright, the atmosphere quivering with life.”

Tuesday

Morning shower – a slow bend to soap.
A twinge in the lower left back.
A punch in the stomach. A kick in the…
Hands stretch to reach for the wall.
Cannot straighten. Will not straighten.

“Ash, bits of bone, a handful of sand”

Wednesday

Shifting and shifting and shifting on train seat.
I stand and let the up escalator work – can’t take the jarring from the stairs.
I ease up and down from curbs as I cross-town.
I shift my briefcase from left to right to left hand to transfer weight.
A slow walk, yet breathless. Sweat beads on my forehead.
A low throbbing migraine. Knee bone connected to…
Rain falls, a light mist, cooling.

“We are wooed, then mocked, plagued like Amfortas, King of the Grail Knights, by a wound refusing to heal.” [Read more…]

No more tears. Here’s to good outcomes.

tear-drop

It’s a ritual before bedtime.
Nightly.
Now running for 14 months.

I stand in front of the bathroom mirror.
Take a deep breath.
Raise my left hand to pull down the lower left lid,
Raise my right hand to apply a thin stream of the prophylactic.
And if I had a third hand (and was a Believer),
I would make the sign of the cross, look to the heavens, and whisper:
Work your magic. Please.

Sodium Chloride Ophthalmic Ointment.
Generic Brand.
40% cheaper than the Name brand.
Found and bought on Amazon.
Produced in Lake Forest, Illinois by some unknown bucket shop.
You are one strange dude. You don’t think twice about the risk of a no-name eyeball lube bought on the web but refuse to buy generic Raisin Bran cereal at your local Stop ‘n Shop.

Apply every 3 to 4 hours, or as directed by Doctor.
Ophthalmologist’s instructions were nightly. And nightly it is.
For temporary relief of corneal edema.
edema: the collection of excess of watery fluid.

But that’s not the real pain point.
Which is… [Read more…]

Just Livin’

ballet-foot-black and white

NS: Name?
DK: David K-A-N-I-G-A-N. No middle initial. (Here we go again.)
NS: Height?
DK: 6’1″.
NS: Weight?
DK: (Pause)
NS: (Smiling) We can weigh you when we get inside.
DK: Today or this month’s average?
NS: Today.
DK: 208. (She doesn’t know that you’re up 10. Why avert your eyes you coward?)
NS: Name of GP?
DK: (Pause) Don’t have one.
NS: Don’t have a GP?
DK: It’s been a while.
NS: Date of last physical?
DK: (Pause) Don’t remember. (She steals a glance at my ID. Checking DOB.)
NS: Blood type?
DK: No idea.
NS: (Staring eye-ball-to-eyeball now)
[Read more…]

Runner. Grounded.

back-pain

6am Thursday:
12” snowfall overnight. DK working from home.

SK: Are you going to shovel the driveway?
DK: No.
SK: No?
DK: No.
SK: (Eye roll) You’re going to let me do it? Again?
DK: I’ll do it this afternoon after I finish my calls.
SK: No you won’t.
DK: Are you going to keep riding me on this all day?

6am Friday.
3” of additional snowfall overnight.

SK: Are you going to shovel the driveway?
DK: No.
SK: No?
DK: No. Not before work. I’m not showering again.
DK: Just leave it until I return tonight. It will warm up and melt.
SK: Really? You’re kidding right? (She heads outside to shovel.)
DK: I told you to leave it. (She has this Thing about a clean driveway)
SK: How do you plan to get out?
DK: Get out of the way. I’m going to ram through the piles with the car.

2pm Sunday.
DK ventures outside to clear the back steps. SK opens the door.

SK: Why don’t you use the steel edger/chopper to break the ice?
DK: Oh come on. Really? I’ve shoveled show before. Get inside.
SK: OK have it your way.

(Mumbling. Girl telling Canadian how to shovel snow. What’s next?)
I get after it.
I bend the show shovel trying to break the ice.
I lean on it to try bend it back.
I look through the back door to see if she’s watching.
Coast is clear.
I stomp through the snow to get to the garage to get the steel chopper.
I start slamming the ice.
On the third swing, I hit concrete.
Cold, vibrating steel.
Shooting, stabbing pain in my lower back.
Air whooshes out of my lungs.
I fall to my knees. (Dear God help me.)

SK: What’s wrong?
DK: My back.
SK: You’re joking, right?
DK: Does it look like a joke? (I crawl upstairs to bed.)
SK: (Laughing) Do you see any irony here?
DK: No. I don’t actually. None.
DK: I do see you getting enormous pleasure seeing me keeled over in pain.
SK: Oh, come on. Big Man clears 2-steps. I shovel massive piles of snow. (Still laughing)
DK: Stay away from me. Way back.

Snow forecast 3″-5” tonight.


Image Credit

Damn well need to see

blue eye

One year ago, almost to the day, my post was titled “I Need to Read.”

Six months ago, my post was titled “See.”

The immediate thought was that the cycle was shortening, and the pain was increasing. (What happens at three months? Could this be the reason for the frequency of your posts increasing? Shudder.)

But, we’re not going there.

Rachel (daughter) prodded me to share my story about my visit to the ophthalmologist on Monday.  Love my girl.  She loves to see her big, tough Daddy in vulnerable positions. (Her Dad, meanwhile, wonders what possesses him to reveal “these” stories on social media.) [Read more…]

Three Drops*

dry eyes, eyes,

Three drops.*
Fall asleep wondering if this is the solve. (Please.)
Amygdala firing up on ailment. (See.)
Doc said there may be issues later in life because of trauma. (Has it arrived?)
One month of angst. (Eradicated. With three drops.)
One could ask why did you wait so long. (Or, one could avoid asking.)
And one wouldn’t have a good answer.


* Disclosure:  Turn your eyelids inside out? Heresy.  Wear contacts? Nothing touches my eyes.  LASIK surgery to correct nearsightedness?  Don’t come near me with your surgery solution.  Apply your own eyedrops?  Can’t do it.  Keep eye open so drops can be applied for you?  Impossible.  Squeal like a baby when drop splashes on eye?  Absolutely.


Image Source: LetsBeConnor

See

eye blinking gif

Start your day with anxiety. First thing. Every morning for last month. Sharp pain for 75 seconds.  Then poof. Gone.  Until the next morning.  I google it.  Up pops Just Answer. Eye with a customer question describing the identical experience:

I wake up every morning with a sharp pain in what I believe is my optic nerve. The pain is so bad that it sometimes makes my eye water when I try to open it wide. It is also painful to press on my eye when closed.  The pain is always in my left eye and there are some days that I wake up without pain. My eye does not seem to be more red or bloodshot than normal. The pain does subside as the day goes on and I haven’t experienced any vision problems.

I quickly close my eye and pain subsides. Water fills the vacuum.  (The human body is.  All on its own. Repairing.  Soothing. A miracle.)

I open and close several times. Blinking.   (The body is a miracle.  The mind, my mind, on the other hand, can be a torture chamber.  I need to see.  I need to read. Heart begins to race. Relax pal.  Just Answer Doc said it’s just dry eyes.  Yes, that was the first line.  And the rest? What about the rest?  This will right itself by itself.)

What if?

Mind quickly shifts gears to Sunday’s paper.

You are four years old.  You run to answer the door bell.  Life from that moment on changes. For you.  For your family. Forever.

Josh Miel, you define courage.  You define perseverance.  You are an inspiration.

(On the other hand, you pal, have dry eyes.)

[Read more…]

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