Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bursitis? ... Not!

Last week I shared the story about my leg pains and the preliminary assessment that I was dealing with bursitis, in this case an inflamation of the bursor on my hip. The chiropractor gave it that label and with some online searching it seemed to fit. The hip busor is where all of the various muscles in the upper leg and butt come together at the outside of the hip bone or pelvis. But as the pain hung around we decided to take it to another level, get another truly diagnostic opinion. On Friday I went to see the Orthopedic surgeon. He took pictures (xrays) of the hip and then examined me and said he didn't think it was bursitis, and thought it might be the sciatic nerve, and that he want to get an MRI, including a look at the lower spine. After asking me if I was claustrophobic he told me he would make arangements for the MRI and that it would be a week or so before they got the approvals to go ahead ... all of that is in process now.

I was initially disheartened by the sciatic nerve preliminary diagnosis. It seemed like one more strike against this old body. Anyway, on Saturday morning I headed to the chiropractor for another adjustment, having decided to keep getting regular adjustments to see if they would help, at least until the MRI. I also decided I would pursue some Massage Therapy which I hope to get started this week. And in the meantime, after working through a serious case of shared "getting old" blues with Mary, she started digging into the web information to learn more about sciatica and she is now betting on my hip and leg issues being problems with my puriformis.

Let me explain. The number 1 cause of sciatic problemns is Puriformis Syndrome. This occurs much more frequently than disk problems. The puriformis is a muscle in the butt and it just so happens that the sciatic nerve passes under (86% of people) or through and/or around (14% of people). And reading the details, lots of the info seemed to fit. I jumped right on some new puriformis stretches along with my regular stretching routine and felt almost imediate relief. Hope abounds. Now as I wait for the MRI to find out what is so irritated, I plan to pursue a course of stretching including the new puriformis strecthes, applying hot and cold therapy (I am currently trying some heat), chiropractic adjustments and finally massage. I would love to go back in and tell the orthopedic doctor I am feeling much better and then learn from him and the MRI what I can about my lower back and left hip.

All of this is of interest for obvious reasons, it is hard to have much fun lying on my back or having to stand up all of the time. Yes these were the only two postions where I was consistently pretty comfortable. Sitting was the worst and I found it difficult to hold still, expect for a few chairs that seemed to work. Car seats were bad, especially the Volvo with its plush seats. And my new R&D job involves some travel . Frankly I am scared at the prospect of a cross country plane flight if my leg is acting up sitting down. With these motivations and Mary wanting to see me out of pain I am delighted to have found what looks like a plan to improve.

The learning for me is when they say stretch they mean stretch ... no short cuts. So I expect this is one more reminder to me that I am getting older and that I need to take care of myself. The scars and problems I inflicted as a younger man cannot be fixed, but I need to be disciplined and do the things necessary to preserve and maximize what remains and persevere. It doesn't get easier, but it sure is nice when you find some answers with more to come.

Thats all for now ...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Work, wine, bursitis and Football

In an earlier blog I talked about being on notice for layoff at Weyerhaeuser. Last Friday I received a job offer to join the Lumber and Wood Science group, which I have accepted. This job takes me back to a scientist role, which is similar to the role when I started with the company and it will now extend my tenure with Weyerhaeuser beyond the end of this year ... Hooray! I spent some time this week haggling over the offer and transitioning from my corporate headquarters (CH) office to the Weyerhaeuser Technology Center (WTC). I officially start on Monday, November 17. Which brings us to wine.
For those who may not know Mary and I do enjoy wine. On Tuesday we got our quarterly shipment from our Elk Cove (Oregon) wine club - 2 excellent bottles of Pinot Noir. One of the two bottles 2007 Richmond Hills Pinot, filled out a flight (3 years of the same vineyard and wine maker) which we will look forward to sharing with friend some years from now. We have done that one other time and it is a lot of fun tasting the year to year differences in the fruit because of all the factors that affect the crop from year to year as well as the wine making itself - very interesting or maybe I should say "berry interesting". Anyway with work starting Monday and not much more I could do there until I am electronically transferred (in this case re-instituted as an active employee in People Soft) into my new team, Mary and I decided to take an outing. Our default idea was to go to Poulsbo for the day, but I couldn't get too excited about it and countered with a suggestion to go to Seattle for the day. This didnt stick either, no real plan just kind of kick around and explore some sites we havent seen and old sites too. Then Mary suggested wine tasting ... she had seen an article on some up and coming wineries and one of them was in Woodinville. After mulling it awhile I latched on and while Mary was at Book Club I found 4 wineries to visit. Mary liked the research so we planned for Woodinville and starting to get to know more of the "local" wineries.
So it is time to go, I write this as Mary preps to leave. We will spend the night up there too so we dont have to fight Friday evening traffic. Early this morning the wine trip seemed like it could be in jeopardy. Since Tuesday night I have been dealing with an ache in my left hip. Friday morning I went to the chiroprator hopeful that he would do a simple adjustment and magic the pain would subside. No such luck. After a few simple tests he says you are having a bursitis flare up and the answer is rest and ibuprofen. Seems my workout on Tuesday, running side-by-side with Mary had flared up the bursor in my hip and it is still alive and well 4 days later. It significantly distracts my ability to think of much else. With the diagnosis in hand Mary and I decided to carry out the wine tasting as it would not require much walking. The most painful part of the trip was the car ride. It is very difficult for me to get comfortable in the seat of a car. The result is constant squirming. Mary drove to Woodinville, about 40 miles, with the first stop at Januik/Novelty Hill wineries; these two operations share a warehouse factility where they have their wineries, common tasting room and the same wine maker, Januik. From there we had lunch at the Barking Frog which is at the Willows Inn if you are looking for a nice ($$$) place to stay. The food was great, Mary had sauteed scallops and I had a very good chicken club sandwich. After lunch it was back to wining with Brian Carter which was written up in the local newspaper magazine last week, then a first stop at Delille to pick up a pre-ordered bottle of wine (more on that later), on to Bookwalter (an add suggested by the host at Brian Carter (Ken), and then to Matthews, a total of 6 wineries. We ended the day at Delille Cellars where our pre-purchase wine was the ticket to an evening of hors d'ouevers with a tasting of their fall release wines. Summing it up for the day - some great wines, interesting conversation with people who make and sell wine and some very nice time together with Mary. Damages at the end of the day was 17 bottles of very good wine and a busted budget for the month.

Finally, Saturday is football day. This evening we plan to watch two (2) 2008 "never ran" teams - Washington Huskies and UCLA Bruins - battle it out at Husky stadium. The real novelty is likely to be watching Rick Neuhiesel coaching at Husky Stadium after being asked to leave in a gambling scandal several years ago. Neuhiesel is now coach of the UCLA Bruins which is also his Alma Mater. The Washington coach Ty Willingham is also something of a pariah at UW as the Huskies have gone 0-11 in 2008 with 2 games still to play. It has already been announced that Ty will not be back to coach next year.
Well this is more than enough blogging for one time ... the bursitis is still bugging me, the trunk is full of wine, we will head home soon to get ready for the football game and Monday I start my new job. I wish and hope all is well with everybody reading this and Cheers!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Edison Angels

This post is from my archives, something I wrote several years ago that I want to share ... at least the season is timely as it recalls a November road trip along the north Washington coast.

Long Live The Edison Angels

This story is about a trip to explore Washington’s Chuck A Nut highway and one of the surprises we found along the way. Winding between the Chuck A Nut Mountains and Puget Sound, along the north Washington Coast, the Chuck A Nut is a gateway to adventure and discovery. Late summer outings provide sunshine, fresh Dungess crab and oysters, beach parks trails, Bellingham shopping and more. Every turn of the road offers views of the San Juan Islands, which speak of more adventures for another day.

The trip from Federal Way north, late on a Sunday morning, was a hum drum zip up I-5. Leaving the interstate behind at exit 231, we entered the Chuck A Nut region from the south. Coming into to Bow, we were keeping our eyes open for a morning latte. The two store fronts we did see were too modest and got only passing attention, until we were five miles up the road. At that point we decided to turn around and take another look to see what we missed in Bow.

As we headed back to Bow a check of the map revealed another town, Edison, west of Bow toward the Samish Bay. We decided to check it out, finding Edison to be a larger, though still small, farming community, consisting of mostly agriculture buildings, quite a few houses and two bars. Tucked in among these structures was a small little house with a sign out front that identified it as a bakery. With plenty of cars in the parking lot and customers sitting on the porch, we decided to check it out and at least get some coffee.

Little did we know that we had just stumbled into the secret hiding place of the Edison Angels – Girl Bakers. Inside this little house we discovered two women whipping up latte’s and conjuring up pastries to the obvious delight of a steady stream of customers. The glass counter displayed an array of marvelous monstrous cookies and cinnamon rolls and something new to me, called Galettes. Behind the counter one of the two women was carefully preparing a new batch of these Galettes, while the second woman took orders, prepared coffee drinks and managed the cash register.

The Edison Galettes are a rectangular pastry, formed by softly folding the four corners of the flattened pastry dough inward, to the center of the pastry. This forms something of a cup to hold a large dollop of colorful fruit filling, which is spooned onto the waiting dough. The filling is a rich mixture of blueberries, raspberries and honey, which could be seen simmering away on the stove. The sights, smells and tastes were all simply divine.

Contented, because we had fulfilled our first quest, we sat and enjoyed our coffee and these new found treats. Wishing to capture and hold the moment, we decided to buy two more Galettes, for the next morning, and two marvelous, monstrous cookies for later that same day. Snacks in hand we headed back to Bow where we turned north up the Chuck A Nut highway to our next adventure. The day continued to offer delights, but none as special as our encounter with the Edison Angels and their baked delights.

3 November 2002

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Acute Angles and Election Day

It is early November here in the Northwest, the sun is on its march to its winter solstice. The days are short and last weekend they seemed to get a little shorter with the return to Standard Time. Do you like that extra hour that we get back each fall, the one they take away each spring? Anyway, the arc of the sun this time of the year is so short, the sunshine comes at us at acute angles, like dawn and dusk even at mid-day. If you are driving in the direction of the sun, (and it is clear) the sun will be in your eyes. I heard once that Seattle has the highest per capita purchase of sun glasses of any city in the US which seemed a bit of a paradox given the reputation for rain, but when the sun is out you need the sun glasses. Especially those times you may be driving down the highway in the rain and the road spray is all around and then all of a sudden you have a sun break, you will wish you had your sun glasses ready at those times.

Today's color is BLUE or probably more appropriately Red, White and Blue! It was with great pleasure and hope that I watched Barack Obama make his acceptance speech tonight. I think he is a person who is well aware of and admits to his own faults, who listens to and understands all sides of an argument, who has demonstrated a great skill in managing an election and building a team of advisers that represent many of this nations best minds. He has pulled himself up from modest beginnings with his insatiable desire to achieve the American Dream, and he recognizes this as a dream to be shared with and for every man, woman and child in this country.

I was also gratified listening to Barack Obama and John McCain speak to a spirit of cooperation. This is sorely needed after such a long and hard campaign. It is just amazing to me that this (young) man, has ascended this political mountain. The path ahead is full of huge obstacles, unimaginable complexity and risks that will challenge us all. In leading us, our new president is key to setting the tone, we all share in the responsibility to find and create the solutions we need to succeed.

May God Bless Barack Obama and his family, and may God Bless the United States of America.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

All Souls Day

The end of a quiet weekend. I think the main event was going to the movie The Changeling on Friday. This was a very good movie about the corrupt LA Police Department in the late 1920's, supposedly based on a true story. Christine Collins (played by Angelina Jolie) is an up and coming manager at the phone company. She comes home from work one evening to find her 8 year old son missing. She engages the police department to help find her son and they, in need of some good PR deliver a boy (not her son) and notify the community that they have found and returned her son. Of course the plot thickens further, if you are looking for some good drama this met that bill for me.

After the movie Mary and I went for a bite to eat. Our goal was to avoid being home for the trick-or-treat crowd. Mary said she had enough of kids for the week - it was conference week and she had worked about 70 hours counting the previous weekend. So the plan was a movie and "dinner", through the trick-or-treat hours. So after the movie we went to the Zephyr Grill (in Kent, WA) where we started to sit down to dinner and then I asked about the bar menu - 1/2 price bar menu until 6 PM and happy hour drink specials - and we went and found an empty stool at the bar. We had some great bacon wrapped meatloaf sliders and onion rings and some good conversation. I was wearing my Obama T-shirt, which started the conversation. I must say you find a lot of Obama supporters in this part of the world. We got home about 8:30, I know we are quite the party animals. And we did have 1 set of trick-or-treaters who came by who I dispatched quickly with some snack sized candy bars.
In the end, not much of a Halloween celebration at our House this year. It sure was nice to see some of the events from Ellensburg - James and Ada - and from Knoxville - Matt and Cara. It was our taste of Halloween - some great pumpkin carving by all. Here are some pictures from Jaybo and Ada I particularly like the flying pig.

I am now in my preparation run up for a colonoscopy on Wednesday. This will be my 3rd one, I am on a 5 year cycle because of a family history for colon cancer. A friend in town sent me Dave Barry's colonoscopy journal, it is a great read if you have a colonoscopy coming up. This is the big event for the week and if I am lucky I may hear about next steps for a job I am pursuing.

For now this is DaddyHoag signing off ... Peace!