Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Good Star Trek first movie for kids: Star Trek, The Voyage Home

Just watched, Star Trek: The Voyage Home (IMDB) with Shaw at age 3.5. I've been showing him the less violent Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes since he was a toddler.

It was a great movie for us both! He got an hour in before wanting Curious George. The Voyage Home has got a very solid message and is about whales. The movie is done in the tame, humorous, low violence 1980s style and has great visuals and lots of spaceships, but also, regular city buses, ships, and garbage trucks from San Francisco 1986. It's also full the relationship dynamics of the original Star Trek crew and the humor, and a little camp, underneath like some of the original episodes. There's Kirk the leader, and smooth operator with, in this case, Earth girls. There's Spock dynamic making us think about our humanity, and the crew's unique skills and diversity.

Sure, I grew up in the 70s and 80s, so it resonates, but it is also true that the content is more kid friendly then a lot of Star Trek movies. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tesla Model X debut, Sept 21, 2015

Model X Gull wing doors that fit in a garage and parking lot
Model X Gull wing doors that fit in a garage and parking lot
At times like this I question my career choices in terms of what kind of car I can sanely afford.

Luckily these times are very rare. In fact this is a first for me. An electric car I really, really, want. Basically everything I like about my Subaru Forester, but electric, with more room, and faster then a Porsche 911, 0-60.

Skip right to here in the Model X debut video the good part.

Model X debut with Elon Musk
Model X debut with Elon Musk

Model X space comes from no engine, gas tank, transmission, converters, muffler, exhaust pipes
Model X space comes from no engine, gas tank, transmission, converters, muffler, exhaust pipes
Model X can fit lots of luggage with all three rows of seating, or a bike with both tires in with seats down.
Model X can fit lots of luggage with all three rows of seating, or a bike with both tires in with seats down.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Pope's speech to congress

Just watched it on my computer (I always forget C-SPAN covers visits like the Popes of this kind of event.)

I also watched the tour around the White House with Biden and Boehner through the halls and to the Pope's balcony speech.

I'm not totally up on politics having young kids and all, and I'm a sucker for events like this.

I was moved by his speech though. I think it was a unique event to witness live. The contradictions, and politics were of course astounding. There was plenty to rail and fume against about the entire event if one chose to. I'm interested to how this event plays out in history.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

My deepest bond with my son in the first years: Potecting him at bedtime.

Napping with me during by cervical back issues for 6 weeks when he was 3
The single most touching moments in my time with Shaw for me is reading him to sleep. I can feel the deepest primeveil pull from him wanting me to be close. I lie on his full sized mattress on the floor of his room with him. He clutches me sometimes. I think he knows on a root level that he's vulnerable in our house. he can't open doors or windows. He wants me close.  Shaw is not a fool. Nor are most babies and toddlers. They know they are small, weak, and vulnerable.  Given the choice, I believe they would usually prefer to fall asleep near an adult. Now some kids are ok with cribs in other rooms, maybe not crying at all as long as when they awake some parent responds. 

However, personally, my deepest bonding with Shaw is bedtime. I read to him from the 70 or so library books my wife keeps circulating in our house, until he falls asleep. He knows I'll leave and he'll either wake up around 3am and go into the big family bed with momma and baby (I'm in the guest room a lot with the nursing baby in the bed). Or he'll wake up in his room and find us. But I swear I can feel the pull of millions of years when we were within feet of our kids to protect them from predatores. Shaw's in another room now, but I still mostly fall asleep with him while he's in a bed on the floor that he can get up from, and we always leave the door open so we can hear him and he can walk to us.

The progression towards sleep after reading, when he was about 2 years old.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Visit to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center Nuerological Review of MRI

Google map of DHMC. Very lush, surrounded by woods.
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center was amazing, what pros. Greater at the door, like Wallmart. This may seem funny, but I thought about it and it reduces stress in folks  who don't know their way around.  Reducing stress is key for sick people, and for positive user experiences. So of course, have someone at the front door who can point you to your reception desk before your body releases all those stress chemicals one gets when lost, and sick.

Very little wait. Easy check in. We paid a baby sitter to ride with us and take Ivy for a walk around the huge hospital in an body carrier, so Laura could come in with me. Very little wait. The in take nurse said her name, and asked ours, did the vitals, and asked then, casually, "how do you best learn?" and listed things like reading, video, interaction, discussion, etc. That also put me at ease, maybe because they were humanizing me?

The neurologist was not rushed and listened and educated us. He said the variables are staggering, so there's no single magic cure. My back isn't too bad, and was probably having these bulges for a while, but didn't kick in until a mixture of events I reported (lot of stress, in bad shape, slept wrong). Some folks he said have bad backs in general, prone to injury, some don't, hard to tell who is who.

Most likely culprit, 6/7 bulge.

Some have worse issues than mine, but less pain, and some have less issues, but way more pain. He said, he thought Brattleboro's radiologist missed a C6/7 little bulge he thinks, along with the one's in the report at C4/5-5/6. My old family friend who's a really good neurosurgeon also agreed. The doc at Dartmouth prescribed PT and traction, which he said I probably could have had sooner, but most regular docs are scared to prescribe it for backs without an MRI review by a surgeon. He said I need to call them anytime if I want to try help at the pain clinic, such as a shot cortezone in the back. And if "life is miserable" for too long, there is surgery, but he doesn't think I'll need it. PT starts Thursday.

The Dartmouth doc said keep taking substances like fish oil, Zyflammend and/or the Golden Milk, Vitamin C and B, water, etc are all good ideas too and might help, probably won't hurt. He said he's open to chiropractic, massage, long walks, lifting light weight, working, etc. as long as it doesn't aggravate it and make it worse, or hurt. And if I'm getting slowly better, keep doing what I'm doing (resting in bed on the wedge, slowly doing more, taking care of myself).

He said do some range of motion movements that don't hurt each day. And when it doesn't hurt, start high repetitions with my arms and upper body of very light weights, starting at like 2 to 5 lbs. Good to get a standing and sitting desk. Ok to be on computer in bed if neck if fully supported.

And an new bit of data. I know I shouldn't pull up straight to get out of bed when lying on my back, but I didn't know why. It tightens the muscles on the front of my neck, which is the worst place to tightenen down on the spine because it pushes the other side of discs out. I can't begin to tell you how hard this is not to do when in bed on my back, especially with kids and computers! He closed by saying yes, when better, stay in shape, stay flexible, especially when stressed. Duh, but...

I felt better right away, actually I felt very relieved, in that way that makes one want to cry, but not because you're sad, but because you've been heard and taken care of in way that is assuring.

We had lunch in the cafeteria, which I also always love to do at hospitals, colleges, etc. Wasn't too bad and a good price.

PT starts 24th. I'm slowly improving, very slowly. Family got colds, so I had to do more, and yet my energy is also coming back slowly too, and the pain seems to be moving slowly away from my arm to my shoulder blade area where it started.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Touch a Truck 2015. Shaw has lunch with his Gods.

Imagine having a yearly appointment with the Gods (or whatever) you worship and believe in passionately. For Shaw, Touch a Truck is like a yearly standing appointment to have lunch with Jesus, a hot dog with Buddha, or a truck cab chat with Stephen Hawking, depending on your faith.

Here is a little bit of this year's event, Shaw's third in his three years on the planet. I could only attend briefly due to back issues. Laura and Grandma Betty did most of the work.

Got a nuerolgocal review appointment at Dartmough Hitchcock tomorrow.

Been working on a neurology consultation appointment at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center up in Lebanon, NH since Friday. I've been very positive and nice, and excited to visit them, while remaining firm and mentioning 6 weeks of pain. They had me for the 22nd, but just called and said they can fit me me in the 16th! They also got both my doctor records and MRI in one day. They seem very on top of things.

Incidentally, I was born at the old Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital near the Dartmouth campus when my father was finishing his undergraduate studies after a 3-year stint in the Army interrupted his studies.

I've made a list to bring with me to help with my own patient advocacy. We'll get a sitter for Shaw. Laura and Ivy will come.

 Key background not in my files

  • 1995 L4/L5 discetomoy after trying all else, also stressful and bad health time for me. Print out with me of MRI. Surgery worked. Only one flare up 4 years later of extreme pain during very stressful time.
  • Pregnisone’s first two days of 60MG a day dramatically reduced arm pain. It crept back as it scaled down from day 3 to day 12, mostly back to normal pain.. So, I thought, inflammation is key here? Yes? No?
  • Status
  • Slightly less arm pain especially in last two weeks of more focused rest, pain moving back to shoulder where started. I’m very slightly improving each day, but the severe pain in armpit, elbow, top of forearm, top of hand to pointer and index finger still happens with certain movements. I’m doing light movement that doesn’t cause pain, like range of motion, to do something besides be in bed.
  • Meds: 4 Aleve a day. Tylenol when needed. Valium at night. Tylenol 3 when really needed. Taking Zyflamend (tumeric/ginger) from Proctor & Gamble/New Chapter. Fish oil. Lots of water. Vitamin C. Bananas.
  • Stress at work that contributed to this is gone.
  • I started having to use reading glasses several months before this, which caused me to hold my neck in all kinds of lower and higher angles. Recommend bifocals?


  • I’d like to see my MRI with you showing issues, especially top down view? I’ve have studied a CD. It looked like three discs protruding to me, not just the two from the report.
  • PT when and if? Traction? Is walking ok on a flat surface, slowly. It makes me feel good to be in nature, and to move and get blood flowing, but swinging arms sometimes feels bad.
  • Is my bed rest posture okay at 45 degree angle on a pillow wedge, neck and head fully supported, laptop high on two pillows so I can use with neck relaxed and ears aligned over shoulders?
  • Work posture better if I get a desk that can both sit and stand in good posture?
  • Messages okay to get? I got one, they were careful, but it felt good for a day or so.
  • Any special foods or other over the counter recommendations?
  • I’m almost out of meds. Any you suggest besides Valium, tylenol 3, Aleve. Muscle relaxants? I hold stress in my back and body when I don’t walk/run or go to gym.
  • Can I get a copy of your report?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Family update videos

Some videos in the playlist here for how the family is generally appearing. The hard part of me being in bed lot isn't shown, but more how the kids are doing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

MRI report, advice, homeopathic ideas,

We're about five weeks into this now. Emotionally, it takes a toll on me. Mostly in terms of the family. I'm strangely pretty okay with staying in bed with books and a computer, and trips to work for meetings. But I miss being able to be part of the family. I can't lift Ivy, or Shaw, or do things they want to do. And, over time, pain is a drain on me and Laura. And Laura is often saddled with the two kids for longer periods of time the if I was just at work.

Below is the abnormal part of my written MRI report. My family doctor (an osteopath) has referred me for a neurological review to go over the below text report, and the MRI images for next steps.

So basically for now the best he can do until expert advice on PT or surgery is to advise rest, avoid lifting anything, don't do anything that aggravates the issue. So, light work, rest in bed supporting neck, light movement around the house, etc.

My armpit, elbow, forearm and to of hand (not thumb though) are in moderate pain most of the time, severe pain with to much activity, or rolling over in bed. 

Medication wise. I'm to take up to 4 Aleve a day, or less (or Ibuprofen). Up to 6 extra strength Tylenol a day. Tylenol 3 when bad. My pain is manageable this way.

On the homeopathic front, he said some people report the following helps.

MRI Report (abnormal part)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

MRI video walk through and Xray images of cervical spinal vertebrae with left cervical radiculopathy

I got the CD from my MRI on Friday. I used Camtasia to make this video walk through.

Here is the text of my report from the radiology dept.
I'm going in for a consult with a Nuerologist next for the real plan of action of time and PT vs surgery and how long to wait. 

This page about cervical radiculophathy from American Family Physicians page has two MRI photos as well.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

MRI is in. Here's a screenshot.

MRI was only mildly terrifying. It was in a new "Titan" model by Toshiba. The machines are bigger now, more room in the tube, better air and light then 20 years ago.  I got a CD for the scans right then. It is so important to remember that you own scans you pay for and should always get a copy for yourself. Brattleboro Municipal Hospital provided me a CD very quickly for $16.00 and also FedExed a copy to my other doctor for  second opinion free.  In a strange way, they are kind of beautiful.

Screenshot of one of scores of different scans, both side of body, and top down. Healthy disks down low. Messy middle ones.

Close up. 3-4th disks down look darker, and pushing out to left on nerves. We'll see.

But they immobilized my neck with pillows and a plastic contraption. And put in ear plugs, so I was pretty claustrophobic. I thought mostly of a cheeseburger I'd get when I got out. My left arm hurt a lot lying flat for 25 minutes. I feel a bit more broken, seeing the messy discs in the effected area, but I don't really know what I'm looking at. Pain in manageable, but still hurts a lot if I cough, am stressed, move my neck too much, etc.