Friday, December 28, 2007

Bhutto Assassination

The only woman to lead an Islamic nation was assassinated yesterday. What does that mean for the world? Who knows, there is no indication that she would've been any better than the current Prime Minister. She would've been a force for some liberal ideas, but given the history of the area and the values of their system how much change would've been made is questionable.

I do not understand the low value human life seems to have in the Mideast. Suicide bombers, the promise of seven virgins in the afterlife. Man's religion at work again, certainly not God's work. Now there is a debate whether or not she was killed by violent means or fractured her skull on a lever. I guess if she died a violent death she would be martyred for the cause, if she died of a skull fracture then no martyrdom. What the hell kind of culture gives a damn about the method of death?

Then our politicians will have to make statements about the senselessness of it all. Bush will deplore the action as a threat to the growth of democracy in the region. What democracy? Votes are pretty meaningless in a society that resorts to suicide bombing, assassination, riots and arson to express its societal aims.

I do not know if the Pakistani culture based on a long history of war lords is capable of democracy. Even Benazir Bhutto defended the corruption of her previous regime some time ago as necessary to get things done. I think we should abandon all support of Middle East. Our soldiers are dying in a war we are not out to win. It will be Bush's legacy to have led us into Iraqnam. We don't seem to learn. I do not advocate isolationism, but I do think we help our friends and punish our enemies in meaningful ways.

What do I mean by meaningful? Blow the hell out of their country and make in uninhabitable. Demolish their infrastructure, their power sources, their means of feeding themselves. Drive them back into the stone age if they continue to act like cavemen. Push them under a rock and let them stay there. Bastards!

Monday, December 24, 2007

My Birthday

Today, 12/24 is my Birthday. I am 63 years old this day. It is hard to believe that so much time has past. It just seems like months ago my Father was alive and he's been gone almost 12 years. My Mother past away in 1971, almost 37 years ago. I am the youngest of three remaining family members, my brother past away in 1982, some 25 years ago. I have one sister who just turned 81 and another who will be 77 in March. The family is growing older, we are beginning to fade from the scene.

If it sounds like I am a little down, I am. My children are in their mid-30's. The whole generation level is shifting up one notch. Yet, the best times are now. I am relatively secure in my job. Our home and property are about paid for. We live on property that allow us a great deal of privacy and offer us a lot of chores to stay busy. Staying busy, my wife would say, is our means of survival. It seems like there should be so much more. It seems like we should make a contribution to the health and welfare of society that continues the progress of humankind trying to understand and reach its potential.

Not all of us can play huge roles in the success, or failure of the human race. What we can do is contribute. We can lessen our negative impact on the environment by recycling, by trying to husband our resources. We can improve our human condition by interacting with people in ways that are helpful and supportive. We can be contributing members of society and see that we are the best that we can be. This is enough. We all can't write the "Great American Novel." We all can't paint a masterpiece that says something to mankind. We can however, care about our neighbors, we can take care of our property, we can limit our impact on the environment. To that degree we can be positive, contributing members of this huge spaceship Earth.

So I am 63. I am in the best health I've been in for many years. I feel very good, and I aim to be around for many more years, hopefully doing my part to make this life experience meaningful and helpful to all.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Friday, December 21, 2007

What about tomorrow?

Much of my career involves managing people to get a task done. I have worked in manufacturing for over 25 years. Therefore much of my time has been spent analyzing the past to learn from, and planning for the future to succeed. I am in my early 60's and my career has changed to industrial training so I still stay in contact with that line of work I am most familiar, only I don't have to responsibility I once had.

I find however, my mind still turning to the what if's and oh shoots. In other words I still find myself thinking about the past and planning on the future. However my thoughts have been turning more personal than business related. In this year about to enter the record books, my health has been challenged, first by cancer, then by an irregular heart beat, then I had my gall bladder taken out in November. With the year coming to a close, my health problems behind me I have been spending a lot of time taking stock of my life.

One thing I do know is that I have fewer years in front of me than behind me so planning is now taking on a different meaning. Lately an old saying I learned in AA has been rolling through my mind: "You have to learn to want what you have, not have what you want." I have a lot. I have a lot of stuff that has accumulated through the years and I don't use but I haven't disposed of it. I have a lot of memories that sometimes haunt me and other times give me pleasure. I have a future that looks like I will retain my health for a long time to come, if you consider 20 years a long time. Still I find my self worrying about the future.

Frankly, the future is determined upon birth. We shall pass from this earth. We simply don't know when. Frankly I don't want to know when. Yet I find myself worrying about the length of time I have left. So, I have been discussing this with a power greater than I for the past few months and it has lead me to some conclusions that I am taking into my heart.

I need to learn from the past. I've made some mistakes both important and not so important. I need to learn from them to prevent having to go through those experiences again. However, to dwell on them distorts the present and can cause me to take actions that are not necessary. I cannot do anything about the outcome of the future, but I can do things that may pave the way to an enjoyable old age. What are those things, I can save money, I can be aware of my health, I can eat correctly, I can exercise, I can have an open, loving relationship with those about me. All of those things that contribute to mental and physical health are worthy of action now. What isn't worthy is obsessing about the future because it shall surely come whether we worry about it or not. I've always liked the line, Life is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you come to the end the faster it goes.

So I resolve to live in the moment. I resolve to try and look at my surroundings with new eyes each day. I resolve to try to be at peace with my self, yet avoid complacency. Life is no fun without commitment. So I resolved to study, learn, and voice my concern over issues that effect me, society, and this old planet we live on. Perhaps my time on earth shall pass too quickly for me, but if I sit and worry about it, my future time will be poorly spent.

Merry Christmas, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Medical Follow Up

Today I had a colonoscopy. It was part of a one year follow-up on my bowel resection. The results were normal, no polyps. In some ways it seems so long ago, in other ways it seems like yesterday. I feel well, I've lost weight, I exercise regularly and find work meaningful. Yet, I feel defective, my body became ill and has betrayed me. I am having a difficult time feeling any great optimism about anything. I find my mind wandering to my own mortality issue. What I need to do is just get on with enjoying my life. My wife and I are financially OK, our health is pretty good, and we are secure.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Eleven Months of Recovery

If anyone has read my blogs you know I had a bowel resection on January 9, 2007. I never could find out any information about what took place during recovery when you are out of the hospital and home. So I wrote a series of blogs about my experience hoping to provide some information out on the web that might be useful to some other persons going through the same type of recovery period.

From time to time I've updated my progress and that is what this is. In 3 days it will be 11 months since surgery. In that intervening time I also had my gall bladder removed about a month ago.

I am happy to report that I think I am doing well. From a physical stand point I have lost a lot of weight, on purpose. I regularly exercise, I mean daily, a 50 minute strongly paced walk, and I try to watch what I eat. I log my vital signs every day as a means of staying in touch with how I feel. I use a lot of personal positive feedback by assess how I feel physically during my exercise period. I work very hard to keep the negative thought patterns at bay.

December 12 I go in for a follow up colonoscopy. Given the pathology results after surgery and my assessment of my well-being I expect the results of the colonoscopy to be clear. So, from a physical stand point recovery is good and the prospects for continued health very promising.

I do have some remnants of a psychological impact. I do have an irregular heartbeat. I had PVC's (Premature Ventricular Contractions) prior to surgery, but they have elevated in frequency of occurrence since surgery. I belong to a forum that discusses irregular heart beats and am relieved to find my self in a lot of company. The medical world has proven to me that my irregular heart beats are benign and will not cause me any health problems.

I believe that stress plays a big role in the onset and continuance of the heart beat problem. I have been thoroughly checked out and do not have any underlying heart disease or damage. Yet these irregular heart beats occur daily, and may last for some time. The frequency seems to be dying down, but still I get aggravated when they occur.

One thing that apparently occurs after major surgery is a fear of the disease reoccurring. This I've read is common. I am 62 years of age, I thought I had come to terms with my own mortality some years ago. Undergoing surgery, even though very successful, has reawakened that realization that I have fewer years in front of me than I have behind me. I do not find myself depressed, but I seem to have become aware how fragile our existence is. In some ways it has led me to a greater appreciation of my wife, my children, and surroundings. Yet I am plagued with the idea that I may not get to enjoy those these things for a long time. The thoughts do not dominate my existence, for the most part they intrude when I am alone, musing about life in general. I drive the thoughts away by refusing to let them occupy much mental space and time.

Everything has gotten better, including my mental attitude, so I expect these dark musing will lift even more. It probably is a progressive process of recovery of spirit just like the physical recovery is a progressive process.

My system seems to be settling into some form of regularity after the surgical intrusion. I now am facing some problems from the gall bladder surgery, a hand full of mixed nuts seem to make my stomach slightly upset and can trigger a series of bowel movements that can be rather uncomfortable and frequent. Other than that, I'm doing very well.

In a nut shell, life is OK. Some thoughts about dark things, but frankly probably not much more than the normal person encounters going through life. I certainly have an appreciation for persons undergoing medical procedures I never had before, and I am grateful for the quality of care I've received. This experience has certainly strengthened the bond between my wife and I and my recovery experience would have not been as positive if it hadn't been for her.

That is all for this day. Keep the faith fellow survivors, life is good!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

On Optimism

Wonder why anyone would write about optimism when they are feeling a little down. What better way to deal with the dark side?

Sometimes it seems to me that books and articles are like a cork lifesaver, they bob into my life just when I need them. This year I've been going through some medical difficulties one of which is an aggravating irregular heartbeat. I now understand that pretty much all people have an irregular heartbeat, they just do not feel it. When I feel an irregular episode going on it makes me think I am defective. I end up feeling less capable of doing active things. That simply is not true, but it does not prevent the thought from entering my consciousness.

This morning before my daily exercise walk my heart is acting up a little bit. While perusing the library in the bathroom a book was lying on the top of the stack called Hard Optimism, it is a Price Pritchett book. Price Pritchett writes self help booklets on a number of topics. The booklets tend to be well done and remind people of things they can do that help get through difficult times.

As I sat there waiting for events to pass I opened the book to a page. I did not select the page I just opened the book to a convenient point. The chapter heading was "Recognize and dispute negative thoughts." The quote at the start of the chapter was from Henry David Thoreau and read, "We are always paid for our suspicion by finding what we suspect." How true those words are. I learned from my years in AA that we tend to invite events into our lives and we can have a choice of inviting positive or good events or negative or bad events.

The quote at the end of the chapter is equally good. David Landes of Harvard said, "In this world optimists have it, not because they are always right but because they are positive. Even when wrong they are positive, and that is always the way of achievement, correction, improvement and success. Educated eyes-open optimism pays; pessimism can only offer the empty consolation of being right."

Through the years I have listened to members of my family bicker about details of trips, visits, events and such like and I realized that they were really concerned with being right. The rest of the listeners were dragged down by the conversation instead of enlightened or illuminated. I have avoided this trap much of my life. Yet there are times that I feel negative thoughts. I also do what this chapters says and that is chase the negative thoughts away by realizing the temporary nature of such feelings. I have also found that I can talk my way through negative thoughts and feelings and end up on the positive side of the situations.

A person I knew used to say of life that we are all victims. I have always felt we had a choice and I choose to not be a victim. That does not mean I don't have negative thoughts. In my opinion the difference in being a pessimist or an optimist is not allowing the negative thoughts that occur to occupy much of our mind. Worry is like paying interest on a debt you may never have to repay. The other thought I could share is, the day doesn't end just because it gets dark. I'll let the reader, if there ever are any, finish that thought. I would much rather have to deal with failure knowing that I tried than having the consolation that I was right.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Memory Revisited

The light fixture in our hallway went kaput. I decided to replace it with a track light so we could have illumination from the washer/dryer and up the stairs. Living in Arkansas I do not have much of an opportunity to watch my beloved Green Bay Packers, but from time to time they are televised nationally on Fox and I can see them then. I started to wonder this morning if that might be the case. Checking the online TV guide sure enough, they played Carolina and were on Fox. So I turned the game on and enjoyed working on the project while keeping track of the game. It made me think of a time long ago.

Our family lived in Sturtevant, WI from 1975 to 1980. We lived in a "starter" home. My Dad had not remarried and it must've been around 1975. It was the fall of the year and Dad had come down for a visit. We had gone to church and now were at home doing some fall chores, cleaning windows, raking leaves, etc. We had the Packer game on TV and a radio sticking out a window so we could hear the game while we worked outside. If something exciting happened during the game we would rush back into the living room to see the replay. A couple of times my father and I had to laugh because we would meet rushing into the living room Dad coming from the front door and me coming through the kitchen.

Today I was in the back hallway when Favre threw for a touchdown. Rushing back in to see the replay made me think of my Dad. I miss watching Green Bay play with my Dad.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Conversations with God: 11/14/2007

I believe in God, no doubt about it. Do not confuse my belief with the fact that I am religious. I am not a member of a religious group, if you ask if I believe in Christ as our Saviour, no I believe he was an exceptional person brought to this earth to adapt a belief system. There have been other exceptional persons in this world, none perhaps with the impact of Jesus, but then at the time his impact wasn't so great. It was after his death that the power of Jesus became significant. At the time of his death society thought him a trouble maker and rabble rouser. Enough, this is not a comment on Jesus, his mission or purpose. This is about my conversations with God.

One skill God possesses that I've never found in any other being is the ability to listen. I talk, God listens. Does he answer prayers? Yes, every prayer is answered. The answer may not be to our liking, but upon reflection the answer is the best at the time and given the circumstances.

I was raised in the Methodist Church. In my middle adult years I was active in church activities. What kind of an event could change my thought process? The change was a simple one, noticed by very few yet profound in its impact on me. I am a recovering alcoholic, I have been sober for almost twenty-one years. Bill W., the founder of AA, wrote a book we drunks call "The Big Book." It is kin to the bible for our special group. In the book Bill recounts his relief from the urge to drink as a miracle. He was confined to a hospital bed in a New York City hospital for perhaps the fifteenth time and was hopeless in his fight against his disease. Bill asked again for God to relieve him of the urge to drink. That night a light entered his room, his body became warm with the healing salvation of God the urge to drink was removed, never to return again.

Now for those who don't have a drinking problem you may not understand how powerful the "urge" is. Those who smoke crack certainly can understand the physical addiction drugs can possess, well alcohol is similar and creates a power psychological need. Many alcoholics go through life fighting the urge to drink every day of their lives and that is why AA is so important as a tool to combat that urge. Some people are relieved of the urge to drink and while AA remains important they are able to devote some time to developing coping skills so life does not remain so overwhelming.

Some twenty-one years ago I was going through the travails of a marriage breaking up, an adulterous affair, a job that was going nowhere, and compounding everything was "john barleycorn." Finally in a token effort at reconciliation with my wife I agreed to undergo counseling for my drinking. When I met the counselor he doubted my ability to quit because I had a few beers the day before. I even told him I doubted my own desire to quit. The counselor then explain "the contract." The contract is a pact with God, a God of my understanding, each day, or every five minutes, whatever was required to not drink for that period. The man said, each day when you arise sit by yourself, open yourself up to God and ask him to help you through the day without drinking. All I want you to do is to not drink today. Can you do that? Sure, anyone can quit for a day. The counselor then went on to tell me that each day must begin with the same commitment to not drink, sealing the pact with a promise to God and a plea for his help in getting through the day. It sounds easy, but fact is an overwhelming number of alcoholics are unable to make this commitment day in and day out and relapse. Apparently I was more desperate than I thought I was, or I was open to God that day because he removed the urge to drink at that moment. That event does not often happen and the fight against alcohol remains a lifetime battle. Why me?

Well, why not? However the thought arose in my mind that day that I did not ask Jesus to relieve my urge to drink. I asked God. I did not fall on my knees, I did not spread my arms in supplication and beg to be relieved. I cannot even tell you a phrase I uttered, I do know that God relieved my urge to drink, it was gone and has never returned twenty-one years later. Now you know the event that changed my life.

I was 42 years old, I loved booze. I liked the taste, I liked the way it made me sociable, I like the way it helped me forget my problems. Yet it controlled my life. I could not cope with life without alcohol. I guess God understood my problem even when I didn't. So from that day forward the thought arose in my mind that it was God, not Jesus or Buddha, or some other figure associated with religions that relieved my urge to drink. The "Big Boy" himself had intervened.

So now you know why I talk to God, he listens. If you are real quiet, and don't bias your understanding with personal wishes sometimes he even answers in a fashion I can understand. It is not a voice, it is not some external mechanism that provides me with the answer, it is just an understanding that I have been answered and it is OK.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Will I Ever Learn?

The gall bladder surgery went very well. I have some soreness and discomfort in the rib area and my shoulder hurts, but it is really minor compared to bowel resection recovery. Until today that is. Apparently the surgery and the Tylenol I was taking ganged up on me and made me constipated. This morning, about 2 AM I woke up with severe abdominal cramps. Laying there in the dark one's imaginings start to get out of control so I was feeling like perhaps I had some blockage and would have to undergo more surgery. The pain ebbed and flowed all night, and while I did get some rest it was little and interrupted by cramps.

This morning I called the Dr.'s nurse and she assured me that constipation following surgery frequently occurs. The nurse said she'd been there and done that. She recommended I get some Ducolax suppositories or some Milk of Magnesia. I guess I didn't hear "or." I called my wife, she left work early and picked up the suppositories and milk of magnesia. I was desperate, it hurt. So I took one in the rear and downed a shot of mom. Yessir, will I ever learn?

My hemorrhoid feels like a balloon, my butt hurts when I sit down. I've used a whole roll of toilet paper by myself and was treated to sitting on the john some 30 times or so. I don't have any constipation and the cramps are gone, but damn my ass is sore. Other than that I feel like a million bucks!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ten Months ago

Ten months ago yesterday I had a bowel resection. I've written about that in this blog for some time. Things generally progress and I get better and better. Coupled with my weight loss (on purpose), the ability to get rid of some of my meds, and a steady exercise routine I am feeling as well as I have in 20 years. I can tell you that recovery continues for a long time and is ongoing.

However, yesterday I had another surgical procedure. My gall bladder had been acting up for a few months. The medical folks diagnosed gall stones when I had a CT scan prior to my bowel resection, however the cancer took precedence. Lately however, I have been having some fairly severe gall bladder attacks and on advice of my family doctor and the surgeon it was time for it to come out. So yesterday, on the ten month anniversary I was back at the hospital, same hospital, same doctor but the results were very different. I had a laparscopic procedure. What a difference, I was in the prep room by 8:15 AM and out of the hospital by 1:15 PM. The surgery took about a half an hour I was told. I feel great the day after. My abdomen is sore near the rib cage, it is sore if I cough, but other than that I feel fine. I have no stitches, band aids cover the small incisions, there are four of them.

I did have very sore shoulders. I was told by a coworker that your shoulders get sore because the air used in puffing up your abdomen does not all come out so some migrates up into the shoulder area and is absorbed by the body. The result however is shoulder pain, which I did experience. Tylenol has proven to be sufficient, I have not needed any pain pills.

So the saga continues. From the bowel resection I still have some bowel issues. I continue to go a little a lot. It does seem that I have some regularity but I may go a number of times a day. I am more and more comfortable and am feeling great. I must admit that I wondered at times if I would ever again feel this good, even before surgery. My weight was a real hamper to my overall health and now, things are good.

Good luck to all, and God Bless!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cruel and Unusual Punishment???

A prisoner on death row in Mississippi gets a last minute reprieve. The chemicals used in the execution will cause him pain and constitute cruel and unusual punishment. What about the woman he raped in 1987? What about the pain and agony she suffered at his hands while he exerted his power and eventually killed her. Piss on him! Cruel and unusual punishment my rosy red backside. This guy admits he killed her, no denial, no claim of innocence, put the son-of-a-bitch down.

Monday, October 29, 2007

41 Weeks After Surgery

It is hard to believe that almost ten months has gone by since bowel resection surgery. I think I have done well. I have dropped 60 pounds since surgery and have gone from 44-46 waist slacks to 38-40 waist pants. I am walking 45-60 minutes per day, I have gotten off most of the medications I was taking prior to surgery and am feeling very well. The other day I noticed that the general feeling of malaise (generally not feeling well) has pretty much left. I felt well much of the time prior to surgery and the weight loss but there would be days where I generally did not feel good. We might call them days where you feel "off." No specific complaints and I did not feel sick, just didn't feel well. I've noticed that overall feeling seems to be gone. There are days I get frustrated or aggravated with my irregular heart beat but I seem to be learning to live with that. There are days I feel a pain or ache someplace but I can always determine the source and it goes away quite soon.

I am going to have my gall bladder out in a couple of weeks. I found out from a CT Scan before surgery that I had gall stones but the bowel resection took precedence and the surgeon wanted to wait six months to a year before he removed the gall bladder. Well, it is now ten months and time for those symptoms to go away.

I still have some psychological issues. The cancer surgery apparently was more stressful than I thought. I ended up with an increase in my irregular heart beat and have been hospitalized for an A-Fib attack and spent some time seeing cardiologists in determining that I do not have a heart problem. Everyone has an irregular heartbeat, I am just more aware of mine right now. I am working on ignoring the event when it occurs and that does seem to be effective.

I still can have some pain when I have a bowel movement however it is because I may push too hard. The pain when I urinate is pretty much gone, and I have determined that that pain was caused by muscle strain from pushing too hard having a BM. I do encounter periods of gas when I eat, not always but I have no predictor for the event. Not only that I have a hard time controlling the expulsion of said gas and that has caused me some embarrassment. Thank God no one has fallen on the floor laughing, however I usually end up snickering.

I give thanks that the cancer was caught so early. I do have to go in for a follow-up colonoscopy an about a month, but I believe that will simply confirm the prognosis of the physicians who have evaluated my case. As I believe I said before, the Oncologist made a statement like, "your cured." I know nothing is 100% in medicine, but the growth was caught very early. Thanks to the Family Physician that agitated me for a couple of years to have the test done. It is a shame I waited as long as I did.

Anyway, I am still recovering. My BM's are not regular but my control has improved dramatically. I am much more comfortable in my daily life, and with the weight loss and exercise I have gotten back enthusiasm for working around the house, much to the delight of my wife.

For those of you that may read this, I pray your outcome, if you have bowel resection surgery is a successful as mine has been. I recall those early days of recovery and it is tough. But I've noticed continual improvement as I have gone along and I am sure you will to. God Bless All.

Posted by yoopertom at 5:23 AM


The Secret to Living

I took my morning walk and as usual I had a discussion with God. I talked and he listened, then I tried to listen and he spoke to me in his language. Sometimes I understand, other times I remain as confused as always. My life has always been one of trying to understand and come to terms with the entire process of living. Early on I did not have good coping skills, recovery from alcoholism has given me some good tools but it has not removed the confusion that exists some of the time.

This morning I recalled that it was in February of 1967 that I graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. At the time companies were coming on campus in the droves interviewing and recruiting new employees, business had fallen in love with college graduates. I interviewed with every organization that came to campus that fit my general knowledge. I was not an accountant nor trained in a specific profession therefore my opportunity to interview was pretty wide open.

I interviewed with Goodyear Tire and was invited to Dayton, OH to interview at the plant seeking prospective supervisors. During the day I had an opportunity to sit and talk with the plant manager. Forty-one years later I still recall part of our conversation. The PM asked me if I had my choice of one thing in life what would it be? I remember being deeply troubled by the fact that I did not have an answer, seemed to me having weathered the storms of college I should be prepared for such a question. I have since found out that this is a deeply troubling question, simple in the asking, profound in the answering.

After wading through ideas such as health, wealth, success, good marriage and other ideas that come to mind I was stumped. If I said health is all important the Plant Manager simply had to ask, "haven't you ever seen someone with severe health problems who seemed happy?" Obviously I had, one of the high school students I knew came down with polio and was confined to and iron lung yet showed a positive outlook. I know a man with heart problems and he was going about life as though he hadn't a care in the world. Every idea I came up with the Plant Manager could defeat with a simple question, haven't you seen someone with that trouble yet they seemed to overcome the problem? Finally the Plant Manager said, what about Peace of Mind?

It has taken me a lot of years to ponder this statement. I've had to go through severe work stress, a failed marriage, alcoholism, major illness, minor illness and a lot of psychological pain to understand this statement. The understanding has not come all of a sudden. Understanding the importance of Peace of Mind has grown like a plant. I've had good times of warmth, love and nourishment, and I've had times I felt all alone, in pain and afraid. The interesting thing is when I've felt all alone, in pain and afraid were times of emotional or psychological imaginings. The physical pain I've felt I've always felt there would be health after recovery. The emotional pain is much more frightening.

I do not think persons who achieve Peace of Mind are always up, positive, and feeling good about life. Situations arise that trouble us, but I now feel that things will be OK, that this shall pass and somehow life will go on. I realize that someday life will go on but I will not be a part of it, and that is OK too. The fact is acceptance is a major part of Peace of Mind.

Acceptance however does not mean giving up. Acceptance does not mean that we should not try. Usually what breeds nonacceptance is we are not getting our way, what we want. I have learned through my alcoholism that I can only account for and control myself, others and situations involving others are outside of my control. That does not mean I should insulate myself from others to enjoy what I want, but it does mean that I can accept others and love them even though I may not agree with their behavior, values, or actions. Acceptance does not mean I am a victim, being a victim is unacceptable. Acceptance means doing the best you can, giving others space and try to adopt Peace of Mind as the reward for acceptance.

This is way too long already. I'll quit here for now.

Posted by yoopertom at 8:05 AM


Sunday, October 21, 2007


This morning as I began my daily walk it was still dark. The eastern sky had a hint of dawn but in our tree surrounded property I could not see well enough to walk my path. So I begin by walking the private drive that allows access to our log cabin. As I made the bottom of the hill and turned back toward our home the trees framed the driveway and the sky outlined the tops. It was as though our drive was lined with tall dark sentinels and invited one's eye to move up the drive, up the dark trees to the sky beginning to lighten. It was a serene, beautiful view, one I've admired before but this morning I guess it seemed special.

I wondered how many were as fortunate as I to own ten acres, a nice snug log cabin, surrounded by trees and thickets yet living a short drive from shopping. I wondered how many people were able to enjoy the serenity of their surroundings and the peace of mind it helps bestow.

Then I thought of the tens of millions of people who wake up hungry. Their living conditions are threatening, there is no long term relief in sight, just living from day to day. Here I am with a warm bed, good food and a loving companion to share the comfort we enjoy. I do not feel guilty for that which I have, but I wonder why there is so much poverty, sickness, and cruel neighbors in the world that plague such a large part of mankind.

On the one hand I think with such inherent order in the world, the "system" that certainly there is some force we cannot comprehend at work here. Yet how can such a force allow for so much inequity? Then the thought comes to mind that is precisely our job. We are supposed to make a difference. Yet here I am walking for my health on an early Sunday morning. What should I do? Oh, confusion.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ten Months Update

How time passes. It is now ten months since bowel resection surgery and things are well. I now notice that having a bowel movement is becoming more of a routine instead of an adventure. I no longer suffer from leakage. The episodes of having to go right now or I would have an accident seem to have stopped. Those adventures made travel or shopping an interesting event. Often I would have to quickly abandon my wife in the aisle and head to the nearest rest room hoping that trying to keep from having an accident did not influence my ability to walk too much. I was afraid I would look like an idiot scurrying to a bathroom with the cheeks of his ass held tightly together.

I still have the feeling when I urinate that I can't control the back end too well and I get a feeling as though some bowel may come out, however it hasn't caused a problem. I pretty much accept the fact that I have to wash my bottom with a wash rag on occasion. That ain't all bad.

I am feeling very well. I do have episodes of gas after I eat that I do not recall prior to surgery. In addition there are times that I cannot pass gas quietly and have some funny but embarrassing moments in public. Nothing too disastrous like blowing out the windows in a store, or scattering the clothing in the men's area.

I still have the sense that there will be further improvement. The hemorrhoid I raised early in recovery seems to have taken up permanent residence. It used to disappear for long periods of time prior to surgery, now it is pretty much there all of the time. However, it is small, it is not painful, and other than a little noticeable when I shower or clean myself it is not a problem.

Life is settling into a routine where I feel good almost all of the time. My stamina is good, I do not feel tired in the afternoon to the point I'd like to nap. I lift, work, do all of the things I did before and I rest pretty well. Other than periodic episodes of an irregular heart beat I feel great. Yes, there is health after recovery, just be patient.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Here is a success story

Approximately ten months ago I had a bowel resection. The "suspicious mass" was malignant, however it was caught so early that my prognosis is excellent. The oncologist used the word, "you're cured." Periodic colonoscopies should prevent further occurrence. That is not to say that some other form of cancer might rear its ugly head, but I fall into the same risk category as others who have not had colon cancer. That is good news.

Recovery at home was tough. However I have a number of essays in this blog covering issues that I encountered during home recovery that may be valuable information to others going through a bowel resection.

In addition to the surgery I am/was being medicated for hypertension (high blood pressure) high cholesterol, type II diabetes and atrial fibrillation. In addition I encounter an irregular heart beat. Some of that information is also documented in this blog.

Now after 10 months, numerous trips to various physicians I am able to report substantial progress. While I was undergoing home recovery my weight dropped significantly because of lack of appetite. The surgery was in January, in March I decided to continue the weight loss in the form of a calorie counting diet. I had lost approximately 26 pounds in the two month period since surgery. In addition in March I had an atrial fibrillation episode that hospitalized me for two days while that settled out.

Now some ten months after surgery I am able to tell anyone interest that I have lost a total of 60 pounds and dropped 4 - 6 inches off my waist line and am in the process of retooling my wardrobe. Everything from my hats to my shoes are looser. I am walking 40 to 60 minutes a day at a 3.5 mph clip. I have completely eliminated the Metformin and Glipizide I was taking for type II diabetes. I have eliminated one of the two hypertension medications and upon advice of a cardiologist retained one medication, fosinoprol sodium (Amapro) because it has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack. My resting blood pressure averages 107/75 now.

I have dropped one of my two cholesterol medications called Tricor. Tricor targets triglycerides and my last blood test indicated my triglyceride level at 41 and normal range is 40 - 200. With that much upward room my physician agreed with me that eliminating Tricor is an acceptable risk.

My daily walking pattern had started to whip my heart into shape. As you may know as your heart becomes stronger your pulse rate slows down. The capacity of your heart to pump blood increases so the frequency it beats can slow. My pulse rate has slowed to the low 40's which my physician and I felt was too slow. To control the atrial fibrillation problem I was taking Lanoxicaps (digoxin) and a new drug called propafenone (Rythmole). The cardiologist told me to stop taking Lanoxicaps immediately after my physician called him to discuss the slow heart rate I was encountering. The cardiologist made an appointment for me to see another cardiologist that specialized in the electrical performance of the heart. When I saw this new physician and he learned that I had only had two A-Fib episodes in the past 18 - 20 years he basically said you do not have an atrial fibrillation problem. Two episodes in that period of time do not constitute a heart arrhythmia but are considered lone episodes whose cause is unknown. I know what the cause was, those were two times in my life I was undergoing extreme personal stress. Regardless this new cardiologist agreed that dropping the digoxin was OK as he felt it had no therapeutic effect at this time. (Digoxin slows the heart rate.) This doctor also felt that the propafenone was not necessary. In fact, propafenone can contribute to heart palpitations or irregular heart beat. We are now weaning me off the drug, in three months I well wear a Holter Monitor for 24 hours and if there are no episodes of A-Fib then the propafenone (Rythmole) will be dropped. I believe that will be the outcome.

When all is complete I will be a cancer survivor. I will have lost over 60 pounds. I will have in place a regular exercise program to strengthen and maintain my heart. I will have eliminated the type II diabetes medication. I will halve the cholesterol and hypertension medication and eliminated the antiarrythmia medication. I will be left with an irregular heart beat that most people encounter, they just can't feel it. My heart palpitations have reduced already, the sensation has become almost imperceptible, and I feel the best I've felt in 20 years.

Only time will tell if I am able to maintain this routine. I intend to! I document all of my progress in the form of a spread sheet filled with blood pressure, pulse and glucose information. It is my method of obtaining positive reinforcement. I can say that I've come a long way, I feel good, and hopefully the follow-up colonoscopy in November will document the success of the surgery.

I have learned that it is necessary for you to take an active part in your health maintenance. Doctor's do not know all of your past history. The usual blood tests and various test for specific symptoms do not tell the full story. I have spent a lot of hours studying on the problems I was encountering and have learned a great deal. This has assisted me in asking intelligent questions and add specific information as it relates to "me." This has allowed the physicians I pay to assist me in my health maintenance to make more informed decisions. I am another of those who have learned through painful experience that you have to take charge of your own health, all doctors can do is advise on what they know. So good luck and take charge!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Changes I have made

I have written in this blog about home recovery from bowel resection surgery. That is now 36 weeks past. I have also written about some recent episodes of premature ventricular contraction (heart palpitations) that have been aggravating me. On the other hand I haven't written too much about the good, so here it is.

For whatever reason I was never worried that the cancer that was removed from my colon had spread. I slept soundly prior to the surgery, and recovery was tough but I've pretty much gotten through it. Prior to surgery though I was pretty unhappy with my general health. I had a check up in November that lead to scheduling a colonoscopy and that part is history. However, my blood glucose level had increased, my 1-AC was 7.6 and the physician was speculating on whether or not I should start taking insulin shots to stay in better control. I was also having a pain that began under my right shoulder blade in my back and felt like a muscle pull. Turned out to be a mild gall bladder attack. It was not a stabbing pain, nor was I sick at my stomach, but I just did not feel well. I was frustrated and knew that much of what could be done to improve my health lay in my own hands. I just could not summon the will power to make the changes necessary.

The bowel resection surgery put a whole lot in perspective. I gained additional insight into my wife's feelings, I came to appreciate her even more than I did already. I have to deal with new feelings on my own mortality and I know I do not want to put her through the grief and stress of burying her husband.

I weighed 276 pounds the day before surgery. Surgery knocked about 26 pounds off my frame. I wasn't dieting at the time, but I was so sick during recovery that my appetite all but disappeared. I had a lot of gas and upset stomach and food did not taste good for over six weeks. Then came the heart arrhythmia problem and the medication I was taking then really made food taste foul so there wasn't much I enjoyed about eating. It was more like just get some sustenance in you and get through the meal.

Two days before I ended up in the hospital with an A-Fib attack I found an online site that had a calorie counting program, weight log and exercise log. After looking at if for some time I decided to make the plunge. Twenty years ago I had a very successful period where I ran, watched what I ate and got my weight down to around 220. I felt good, full of energy, and I recall the pleasure life held for me then. I wanted to feel that way again, but now I'm 62, can you recapture that feeling of well being at my age?

So I started logging what I ate. The program helps you set a calorie goal based on the desired weight you wish to achieve. In addition there is the positive feedback of the weight loss chart that allows you to see success and provides a very positive feedback mechanism to help boost your morale.

For years I've taken blood pressure medication, cholesterol medication and glucose control medication. My attitude was as long as the symptoms are under control eat what you want, just take more pills if necessary. My blood pressure was always fairly good, but the diastolic number seemed high. Much of the time the diastolic numbers ran in between 140 and 160. I had begun an exercise program three years ago and dropped from an all time high of 309 pounds to the 276 area and felt pretty good about that. In fact, I had even eliminated one of the diabetes medications for a time until I got off the program and started to climb in weight, then back to full meds.

So, with the shock of recovery, the demoralizing A-Fib episode, and the general disgust of where I was at health wise I decided to undertake the calorie counting and weight loss program I know. I log this information. I have extensive spread sheets where I enter daily blood pressure, pulse rate and glucose level readings. I make charts, I log calorie intake and list weight. My routine in the morning is jump on the scale, see where I am today. I then wait about ten minutes until I am awake and measure my blood pressure and pulse with a cuff I keep near my bed. I take the blood pressure readings sitting up, but I really haven't been moving too much. I call all this stuff my baseline readings because if I take these readings during the day there are too many variables that can effect them. After all, I believe it is all relative, if you achieve a reduction in blood pressure while at rest the average may be higher during the day, but it will be lower than before.

So far my blood pressure diastolic readings have dropped from a monthly average in March of this year of 122 to and August average of 106 or an 18% reduction in diastolic pressure. My systolic readings were an average of 80 in March. As of August the monthly average dropped to 72 or a 10% reduction. My pulse rate remains around 60, however you must also understand that with the A-Fib medication and blood pressure medication I am still on, the pulse rate is chemically retarded. Even the higher levels don't sound too bad, but remember I was taking two types of blood pressure medication which chemically lowered the pressure. I now take only one type of blood pressure medication and my readings are lower than before.

Glucose is a real success story. The readings will be odd though. In March 07 the average glucose level was 81, the August 07 average is 91. Yes, it has gone up, however I am completely off all diabetes medication and have been for over a month now. I watch what I eat, I don't snack too much, and I try to control my carb intake, but the medical community has told us that exercise and weight loss are two of the largest factors in diabetes type II control and they are correct. I have checked my glucose level after a meal and find my body responding well to the increase glucose levels. One time I took a glucose reading at about 1 1/2 hours after a meal and it was 149, an hour later it had dropped to 118. So I am off all diabetic medication and doing well.

In April I began walking. My stamina was not too great and I walked for about 30 minutes, the pace was quite slow at about 2.5 miles per hour. Then in May I pinched my Sciatic nerve and could not walk for about a two months. In July I picked back up on the walking and now walk a minimum of 40 minutes each morning before work and my pace has picked up to about 3.5 miles per hour. On weekends and times I don't have work obligations I will walk for 50 minutes at the same pace. The exercise has helped weight loss, but more so I believe it to be a big factor in blood pressure and diabetes control.

I recently had a complete blood panel done. The purpose is to measure where my body is at chemically. How are the mineral levels, the cholesterol and various organ functions. I did have an episode of PVC increase about a month an a half ago that scared me. It has gotten better and after much investigation I believe I understand heart palpitations much better than I did. The medical community pretty much considers PVC's benign if there is no underlying heart damage or disease. Tests conduct in March indicate I have no heart damage. Seven years ago I had a heart cathartization procedure that indicate artery blockage, three years ago the same procedure indicated no blockage and a echo cardiogram before surgery this year confirmed no blockage. So I believe my heart is generally in good shape, it just does not beat regularly. I believe the exercise also helps the PVC problem, most mornings I just walk them out and they stay gone for much of the day. In recent days the frequency of irregular heart beats has diminished and the sensation I feel has gotten very mild.

Another reason for the blood panel is I want to drop one of my cholesterol drugs. Gall stones frequently are hardened kernels of cholesterol. My gall bladder attacks I mentioned earlier have all but ceased. However, on the the drugs I take precipitates cholesterol out of the blood stream and can lead to gall stones. If exercise effects blood pressure and type II diabetes the medical community also says that exercise lowers cholesterol. My cholesterol readings are under 200, in fact, while I was in the hospital for the A-Fib episode two cholesterol panels read 178 then 148, and I was not exercising very much at the time. I do take two types of medication for cholesterol control. If exercise and diet lower cholesterol levels then maybe they have dropped to a level where I can get off one of the medications. That is my goal. I should know later this month when I go back to discuss the results with my physician. I do know I will really feel successful if I can get off the one medication.

Finally, my weight, before surgery I weighed 276, when I started my information tracking in March I had dropped to 250. Today I weigh in at 220 and hope to lose some more weight before I attempt stabilization. I have to get a new wardrobe, I gone for a 44-46 to a size 40 waist and I even tried on one pair of 38's. While they fit they were a little snug but another 10 or 15 pounds might get me out of the 40 waist size. I am generally feeling better than I have in the last 20 years. My energy level is better than before surgery, but I anticipate it getting still better. One person who had abdominal surgery told me she felt it was over a year before she had regained her stamina before surgery.

The future has a lot of promise. However, I am 62, how long will the quality of life be good, I hope for a long time. One thing I know is I have to be vigilant, I love food, I can pack the weight back on in a heart beat. However, this I also know, the more I learn about my body's operating relationships the better I am able to make good choices. I do not have a history of yoyo diets or weights, but I have gotten off track and my health has suffered. Being a recovering alcoholic gives me insight on recovery. I remember many drunks saying at an AA meeting they did not know if they had another recovery in them, they hoped this recovery would work. Well I don't know if I have another weight reduction program in me, my body has sent me messages for years that I'd better take care of it. Now with a new awareness of exercise and diet and general health I hope I am better equipped to stay in the game for the long haul.

Life is good, but its tough. Growing old is tough, and you have to be strong and dedicated to weather the process, some aren't and don't.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Week 35 Recovery

I am feeling very well. I still have some bowel issues, I still go a little a lot. However, I believe my body will be adjusting to its new situation for some time. My heart is agitating me, I have palpitations that come and go and don't seem related to any reason for showing up. They are not with me always, but I've had some episodes that get a little upsetting because they go on for so long. Everything I've investigated and looked at tell me they are benign and not a risk. That's easy to say if you don't experience them.

My wife and I went on a day trip yesterday and had a great time exploring some new territory near us. Found a large reservoir created by the Corp of Engineers. It has some great recreational areas and is less than two hours from where we live. We were gone for over six hours and I was pretty comfortable all of that time. When we did get back for about ten minutes after arrival any movement I made seem to bring on a series of palpitations. I could get them to stop by standing still, but then the smallest effort would bring them on again. Finally after a little while they left. Last night in bed I had to finally sit up to get my heart to get back to rhythm but once established I was able to lay down and go to sleep with no difficulty.

I have tried for some time to discern a pattern to the onset but just get ideas not any correlation. I still wonder why they came on within the last month and a half so fiercely and they have gotten better but still remain at a fairly high level. Is the whole thing attributable to stress? I just don't know. What I do know is exercise seems to knock them down. Hunger and fatigue do seem somewhat related to onset, but why is beyond me. I guess I just have to keep on truckin.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Week 34 Recovery

Things are going well. The Citrucel recommended by my surgeon some time ago seems to be helping my body regulate its bowel activity. In addition I've learned not to try too hard and have seemed to overcome the pain and feeling like I still had to go right after I'd gone. I am pleased with the progress.

My heart PVCs have calmed down some. I have still some episodes, they come in the morning, pretty calm during the day, then again at night. However the duration seems to becoming less and less and mentally I've made strides in accepting the aggravation as simply that.

The gas attacks I was having seem to have decreased volume and frequency. However, I still have poor control and end up making some noise as I move around my daily routine. Some funny, sometimes it embarrassing. All in all I think I've turned the corner and look forward to more normalcy in my life.

Friday, August 24, 2007

New Conditions

Well something in addition to bowel resection. Recovery from resection is now somewhere around 33 weeks. Things are leveling out. The suggestion by my surgeon to take Citrucel each day seems to be working. I am finding a more regular time of day, and I don't have the discomfort associated with a bowel movement that I experienced in earlier weeks. Something else has attracted my attention now.

I feel fit, I've lost 56 pounds since surgery, I am walking 2 miles every day, my blood pressure has dropped to normal, and I have stopped all diabetes medication. So things should be great, essentially they are. However...

Seven years ago I was diagnosed with Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs) It is an electrical signal from the ventricular side of your heart that triggers a heart beat, but it is premature so the heart cancels it and then initiates a normal beat. However, the normal beat is usually quite a bit stronger than a regular beat. What a person would normally feel if they were checking their pulse is the sensation that the heart skipped a beat. Sometimes it is quite jarring, other times I feel a light fluttering sensation in my esophagus area.

About two months after surgery I had an A-fib (Atrial Fibrillation) episode where the atrial side of the heart beats very rapidly and the blood flow to your body is reduced. You become tired and simply drained of energy. A-fib attacks are often associated with stress, however they can result in a serious problem because the swirling action of the blood in the heart can create a clot that could go to your brain or down to your legs.

Prior to the A-fib attack I had an increase in the PVCs. They are not necessarily linked, but stress can be a common denominator. At least that is my take on the two problems, perhaps a cardiac physician might know, but I have not read any articles that link PVCs and A-Fibs. Anyway, I noticed an increase in the PVC episodes and called my Dr. What was confusing was I was also a little tired when the PVCs would hit. Anyway I ended up in the hospital for two days while a cardiologist straightened out the A-Fib problem. The treatment was a drug called Rythmole, within twelve hours my heart converted to a regular sinus rhythm and I was discharged. I had to take a drug, Warfarin or Cumadin for thirty days, it is a blood thinner that cuts the risk of a clot should another A-Fib attack hits.

Back home I had no more episodes of A-Fib and after thirty days discontinued the blood thinner. In addition the PVCs seem to grow more infrequent and less distinct. I was a happy camper. Then a month ago I started drinking coffee like I was addicted. A pot of coffee with my wife upon rising from sleep, if I worked out of the house a pot of coffee during the afternoon, or if I was at work I drank cup after cup of coffee during the day. Then at night another pot of coffee and to bed. In addition I was drinking diet colas during the day with lunch, dinner, or just to sip on. I did not realize the caffeine intake was so great. After several weeks of this I noticed a change in my PVCs. They seem to increase in frequency and to group.

As I became more aware of the PVC episodes I noticed that they tended to group around three times of the day, morning, mid-afternoon and night just before I went to bed. I also was eating extremely acidic food that one night had my system so upset I had a stomach ache most of the night that kept me awake until around 4 in the morning. I say this because I was overloading my system with caffeine and spicy food.

Pretty soon my PVCs were quite frequent and seem to come in waves of patterns. I would feel my pulse through my throat and could sense beat, beat, pause; beat, beat pause, sometimes it was beat, pause; beat, pause. Those didn't last to long, but they did come in strings. Sometimes these episodes would last ten or fifteen minutes, other times it seemed to go on for a couple of hours. One thing was certain PVCs were occupying a great deal of my consciousness.

Finally I called the cardiologist and he scheduled me to wear a holter monitor for 24 hours. When the technician put the monitor on me she said do you drink caffeine? Yes, a lot. This lady apparently has had episodes associated with too many stimulants. It got me thinking, so I have cut way back on coffee. Three mugs in the morning and I have stopped drinking colas or sodas with caffeine in them. The PVCs have not gone away, but they don't seem as frequent, they seem more random and not as strong.

The results of the holter monitor test was everything was fine. There were some irregularities but nothing to put me at risk. I was stunned. The night I wore the monitor I had a really strong episode and it went on for some time when I went to bed. I was sure they would find all kinds of evidence of irregularity, perhaps they did but they were not of much consequence.

Last Saturday I had a good day, very few episodes, except when I went to bed and it was mild. Sunday, some episodes, but not too bad. Monday started OK, but Monday afternoon I got into a situation where every time is stood up and walked my chest would flutter, if I sat still it was quiet. Tuesday went fairly well, except Tuesday night I was delivering a lecture and about 8:30 PM away they went and finished the lecture at 9:00 with my heart flopping like a fish. I took my rythmole pill and within ten minutes the PVCs stopped and I drove home OK.

I have been taking a 0.5 MG Xanex at night to help me sleep. It seems to calm me down and while I have some PVC episodes when I lay down they haven't been too strong and I rest well. Today I went to an appointment with a new family doctor. Our old guy retired. The clinic is very slow right now and the doctor spent 45 minutes with me. He is going to see if he can get the holter monitor report and check it out. I was so stunned by the monitor report I forgot to ask how many times an irregularity occurred. We are also going to do a blood panel because I have now lost so much weight and am exercising I want to know if I can get off the Tricor pill I take.

The panel will also check out my electrolytes, mineral levels, and thyroid just to see if there is any imbalance anyplace that could contribute to the PVCs. We are at least making some progress.

I talked to my brother-in-law this afternoon. He has a heart condition and he confirmed that he had PVCs and had very similar episodes as I did. In fact, he and my sister set out for the hospital several times just to have the episode stop while they were on the way.

I know this is long, but this is for me. If someone reads it and stays till the end fine, but I'm venting here.

Anyway, more research on PVCs on the internet has yielded me the information that PVCs are not serious, are benign issues. Yet they are conspicuous and attract your attention so you feel like maybe you are going to die. My brother-in-law has lived with PVCs for years. He now has a pace maker, more to keep his heart going as for anything. He suffered a heart attack that leaves him with a heart that has 60% capacity. The pace maker has a defib attachment and that is why it is in place. However it does also help control the PVCs and his occurrence rate has dropped. It has not quit but it is infrequent, plus he has become some what callused and just goes on.

I was relieved to have that conversation with him, it helps me put things in perspective. I shall still try to limit caffeine if not get rid of it. I will continue to exercise and I will continue to live my life, hopefully one day at a time. I'll try to get the incidence rate down and reduce my stress to also reduce frequency. I do not feel so threatened now, but it is hard to be real accepting.

In the meantime the bowel resection goes well, and I feel good. So there!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gawd its hot!

I came home today about 5 PM. It was 102, my wife said when she came home at 2 PM the thermometer read 105. Cotton fields that are not irrigated are closing down, and bolls starting to open. The yield in those fields will be lower than in irrigated fields, but they will get some cotton. I've gone by some bean field, soy that is, and the ones that were planted after the wheat was harvested are in bad shape. Small plants, many did not make it, the fields look sparse and thin. One field I went by this afternoon the crew was combining Milo. Milo usually looks like 24 inch plants with the seed head stuck in the air above the plant. These plants didn't look much more than 6 to 8 inches. It is a tough summer here in Northeastern Arkansas. No sign of rain, we've not had rain at our house since July 9.

I drive by ramshackle homes in town. I wonder what it was like before air conditioning. It must've been tough trying to sleep at night with no breeze, heat so stifling that it chokes a person. I can't imagine it.

Is this a cycle, man made or God's punishment. I don't think it is God's punishment, but as to man made or earth cycle, I cannot answer. I know there are those who feel man is consuming resources without concern and effecting our long term outlook. I also understand there are scientists that say there is evidence of wide swings in global weather throughout time. The problem is there is one variable in the equation today that did not have the general global impact that variable has now. MAN! A few open fires warming small groups and furnishing protection from prowling predators certainly cannot be compared to the huge gulping of resources that takes place to day.

One of the most observable patterns in the world is the interaction between predator and food source. Wolves on Isle Royale in Lake Superior have long depended on the Moose population. Good browse, good conditions, more Moose, more wolves. Poorer conditions, Moose starve, Wolves don't bear young to compensate. Mother nature will take care of man, when our consumption of resources becomes so great mother nature will shake her booty and readjust the equation to something more in balance.

We may die off as a species, or suffer losses we can barely comprehend, but mother nature will adjust the equation. You can depend on it. What should we do, I don't give a shit! I probably won't be around when the earth makes its correction, and the suffering mankind will go through before that adjustment will be enormous, and I'll probably miss that too. My kids, kids, kids... may not and I feel sorry for them, but the time is not right for the environmental police to take over. Maybe what we should do is encourage wholesale consumption of resources to hasten the equation adjustment. Hmmm, there's a thought.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

30 Weeks After Surgery

My Dr.s recommendation to take Citrucel daily seems to be paying off. I am not regular, however, the evening seems to be the time for a BM. I still go often, sometimes 5+ times a day. I call it a "little a lot." I have not been experiencing the incomplete feeling much, I have relaxed and instead of trying to push if I feel I have to go more I just relax and let my body handle it. If nothing else comes, I get up and go on about my business. I may be back on the commode in half an hour, but I don't have the extreme discomfort of "hang fires."

I still get pain in the rectal area when I go, and then if I have to urinate soon after a BM it will be painful. Other times it is not. I don't attach any great importance to the pain, I just figure it my body is trying to make sense of things. I have not had an accident in some time now, so I figure that is significant. I have also found out that if I'm traveling or in a meeting I can postpone a BM without an accident. There was a time that when my body said it was time to go you had better get seated quickly. Now it seems to accept a delay.

I still get gas, not regularly and I'm not sure what triggers it, but sometimes I get gas like I feel I might be a balloon whose inlet has been release and flies crazily around the room. Most of the time there is no odor, but if there is odor present I will probably have a BM fairly soon. So I'm learning my body's new paradigm.

If a Dr. said this is as good as you're going to get, I could live with this. I still think it will get better. I recall the lady I met who had a bowel resection and had more serious issues than I and after five years she said she doesn't feel like she had surgery. I hope for that day.

I have another issue, heart arrhythmia that is causing some discomfort. I go to the Cardiologist tomorrow to have a Holter Monitor put on. Nothing serious, but my PVC's are grouping. They were random, but now I seem to get a grouping in the early morning, mid-afternoon, and when I go to bed. That also tends to be the time I take a drug called Rythmol to prevent A-Fib. I don't have enough good data to support a link, but the timing seems to be close. I guess we'll learn about that in the next few days.

As far as the bowel resection, I feel good. My anxiety level is down, however I do find myself quite nostalgic. I wish I were closer to my home area in Michigan, I wish I saw my kids more often. My two sisters are growing older, I don't want them to. I guess before surgery I did not see a horizon in my future, now I do. I can make out the tree line in the distance as the end of my days move in and I do not like it. My wife has become very important to me, our time together precious. It might sound like I'm dwelling on a bleak future, I am not. I have always thought time goes too fast. There is so much to enjoy in this world, I guess I am lamenting the passage of time. I do try to get out of each day as much as I can. I am blessed.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Getting stoked!

Getting stoked when I was young meant you were getting very angry. I am very angry. A bridge collapses in Minneapolis. It is fortunate the way the bridge failed, for had it tipped, or some other failure the loss of life may have been higher. As it is the bridge was built back in the 1960's. It is probably representative of our infrastructure here in the U.S. The large semi's are pounding the pavement to pieces in areas, and while it is being repaired how many of us face the challenge of major road work in our areas.

Here we are spending billions of dollars in Iraq. A country we attacked because our leaders said they were the root of all evil. We should have ignored them, built up our security at home and spent all of that money we spend blowing up sand castles on improving the technology and infrastructure of our home front.

Bush has simply lied to us. I'm a Republican, yet I find Bush untrustworthy surrounded by henchmen that are no better than crooks. It infuriates me to no end. I think term limits need to be strongly supported. My suggestion is limit the term of a Senator to one term, Legislator two terms. It is the biggest bunch of crap these legislative crooks foist on us in stating they need to understand the system before they can make laws. The heck they do, look what its got us. There is an old saying, Keep It Simple, Stupid, Congress and our President are masters at complication. They use it against us. I shall not see it in my day, but I would so much like to see the American public rise up, impose term limits, eliminate the bloated pension plan congressmen receive and eliminate soft money, in fact, eliminate all money except an allotment from the federal funds. Should these term limited congressmen and women be paid well, hell yes! $500,000 per year with a $1,000,000 lump sum settlement at the end of their term. That way we might get qualified people who can afford to give up 4 to 6 years of their career to do some good. Throw the rascals out, by God!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

29 Weeks and some changes are evident

Progress is slow. I think I have pretty much healed physically from the effects of surgery. Mentally I am making progress, I do not have the anxious moments as often. I did run into a couple of days last week but the anxiety I encountered early on in recovery has lessened quite a bit.

I also discovered I am regaining my "confidence." I have pointed out before that losing one's confidence is when you go to pass gas but don't because you aren't sure what is going to happen. I haven't had discharge accidents for some time now. I had spoiled some underwear and had a couple of minor accidents at work, but some time has passed and those episodes seem to have ended.

I do encounter gas problems after eating. Not all of the time but often enough to be agitating. I also encounter the feeling that I have to go, but don't. I am taking Citrucel daily as the surgeon recommended. I'm not sure I have any regularity but most bowel movements seem to occur in the evening now. I still go a little a lot. I spent much of last night going from bed to bathroom all hours of the night. However it was OK. I went right back to sleep and did not have to strain to go.

I have been walking forty minutes a day for the past few days and it does not bother me. So I guess my stamina is increasing. All in all I feel pretty good, I just wish my system control would improve and I didn't go so often.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Time Pases

It is now more that 28 weeks since surgery. From a health standpoint I feel fine. I believe my body is still adjusting to the new situation and psychologically I am still a little fragile. Last week I had a good week, all week. I felt well, I had my episodes having bowel movements and that is aggravating, but I really felt good. Until Saturday. Saturday my wife and I had one of our daughters and her new "main man" over for dinner. I had felt uneasy all day, I was going a lot and had that discomfort associated with many BM's. However, it still was a good day. I had forgotten to take Citrucel Friday night so I took a dose Saturday morning.

After dinner and everyone had left with the exception of one granddaughter who was spending the night I took the regular dose of Citrucel. However, I had started feeling bloated about an hour before. I did eat a lot of tomatoes, pickles and drank a lot of coffee. Plus, I had not taken my usual three or four bottles of water during the day. After the granddaughter and my wife went over to the trailer I spent a little time playing solitaire on the computer and mentally letting the day come down. I started feeling worse, pain in my stomach area. Not down low in the bowel region but up higher just above my belly button. I thought it was gas so I took some baking soda in water and belched a few times. The pain got worse, it was really uncomfortable, but I thought once I lie down it'll be OK. Well it wasn't. To make a long story short I was up until 3:30 AM with stomach cramps. It was not the abdominal muscles that were cramping but the stomach. I started to think I hurt myself, a ulcer had eaten a hole in my stomach and caused a blood line to break, I don't know but when I am all alone at night my mind can get pretty dark.

At 3:30 AM I came downstairs, got on WEB MD and checked out the symptoms. Well hell, I had symptoms of about 20 ailments. I figured if the symptoms are so generalized then it probably isn't serious. I got a bottle of water, sipped it and played some more solitaire as I contemplated waking my wife up and suggesting she take me to the emergency room cause I was in trouble. Well, as I sipped the water the symptoms cleared up. I felt discomfort from the area for a while, but the symptoms left and I went to bed. Unfortunately Sunday has been lethargic. I feel like I've been drug through a knot hole, but the cramping is gone. Apparently I didn't drink enough water, maybe the extra load of Citrucel, and the acid in the food all conspired to give me a rough time. What ever the reason today I feel OK, just tired.

One of the problems I encounter when anything like that happens is I get melancholy. I realize how much my wife means to me, I know we are getting older and in the next ten years or so will enter the golden years of our lives. I guess because of her diabetes we both assume she will go first, yet I am older, by six years. I can't bear the thought of having to go through life without her. My wife is not what you would call a sentimental nurturing person, but she is fiercely loyal. She believes she can overcome and works hard around the house taking care of things. Everything is just better with her! Oh well, enough already. It was a good week capped by a troublesome few days. Next week has the opportunity of being better.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Strange Thoughts

I have a strange sense of humor, my friends tell me that, my children tell me that, my wife tells me that. I find humor in minor events and major events. Oh, not everything is humorous, I don't make light of cruel or tragic events or situations. Where if find my humor though is in strange places, I wonder about things a lot.

Now that I am fairly well along on the road to recovery from bowel resection my mind turns to the little niggly things that plague me still. For example, having a bowel movement is not the ho hum event it was seven months ago. My system is still rebelling at the incursion the surgeon made into my lower abdomen. As a result I end up sitting on the commode feeling like I have to go and not going. Sometimes if I strain mightily I will have some results but the surgeon has warned about herniating or rupturing the resection seam so I have to try an stop from doing that. Often if I strain the results are not very complete, I still have the feeling there is more to come, or I haven't finished the movement yet. I feel like an unsuccessful composer developing a symphony, I haven't finished all the movements yet. That is where I have come up with the idea of a bowel movement has turned into a symphony for me, it is made up of many movements.

I have discovered other things. The NST (No Seeum Turd) Apparently the stool is now so aerodynamically shaped that it shoots through the water goes down the trap and out of site so fast that if I life my behind to see if my contribution to the commode nary a ripple remains on the water. It was like I never went, yet I know I did, but where then are the results. NST's!

Often I have to sit on the stool a long time, waiting. This is not good for idle minds that are full of mischief as is my mind. Soon I start to contemplate, is the stool tapered on the front end or the back end? There is that old childhood joke of do you know why a turd is tapered? No, why? To keep your asshole from slamming shut. So I wonder, what kind of noise would that be? If the stool is crowding to get out, in other words, packing itself into position for its exit then it seems to me that the nose end would be blunt and the back end tapered as it hopefully eases away from the rectal area. So, if the stool has a jagged or broken off appearance does that mean that I had an incomplete movement and some remaining stool enjoys plaguing me with that unfinished feeling?

I recall years ago there was a fascination in the U.S. with "floaters" and "sinkers." I have heard some very humorous presentations on that topic. Supposedly if you have a "floater" you have a balanced diet and the digestive tract is working well. If you pass a "sinker" you have too much protein or something that causes it to sink. Hell, I have both, sometimes in the same symphony. However, I have noticed since recovery has been under way that the percentage of floaters to sinkers is improving. I guess that is a good sign.

Apparently there is a tensile strength issue too. Once and a while I have a stool that seems endless. I feel relief and would like to see such a prodigious effort. That is when I am frustrated by the NST syndrome, see above, and it is gone, Or, perhaps a tail lurks in the trap giving me a hint of length but not knowing is frustrating. Other times I have it break in the middle and obviously there is a compaction issue that reduces the tensile strength so that it cannot support it descent. This is OK. The ones that are frustrating are when they break and the rest will not come out. That is when you are left with the feeling of having to go, but cannot. I call this the "hang fire" problem. A "hang fire" in an artillery piece is when the primer does not fire and you are left wondering is there is some smoldering explosion waiting to blow up in your face should you open the breech. Well, its kind of the same thing, you feel incomplete, it hurts or aches, and you are left cleaning yourself, pulling up your britches and walking away with that feeling in your butt. Sometimes the feeling goes away and everything is OK for a while, other times you just get set to continue whatever other activity you were involved in when the rest of the stool says OK, NOW!

Well, that is what is on my mind this week. Humor is everywhere, you just have to look for it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Six Months

It is now a little more than six months since surgery. Time passed quickly, although from day to day you were not aware of that passage. I have no pain from the surgery, and I haven't had for some time. However, my system is still adjusting to the new situation. I seem to go a little a lot in the case of a bowel movement. I still run into that feeling of having gone and not completed the transaction which leaves one with an urge to sit on the commode and go some more. I have learned to trust my body to some degree and ignore that urge and go one about my business, the old body will tell me if I really have to go some more.

I had a Dr.'s visit last week to finalize the six month check up. He was satisfied with everything, I described my on going saga of BM's and nothing I said alarmed him. The Doctor did make the suggestion that I take a glass of Citrucel once a day. I have started that new regime and it does seem to have had some impact already. I have a little more ease in going and the stool comes without the strain I was encountering.

I do feel a lot better. I have dropped about 50 pounds and my blood pressure is in the normal range, my glucose level seems to be under control so there are some real benefits because of the surgery. It is a shame that it takes such a catastrophic event to get us to change our ways. This is the best I've felt in probably 10 to 15 years.

I still get some pain in the lower muscles when I urinate or have a BM. I also find myself sitting on the commode when I simply have to pee, but that is because I have been surprised a couple of times and had to change my underwear. I find it safer to sit. I do not know if that will change, but I do know that if where I am at does not get any better I can live with the current situation.

When I eat I do seem to get gas right away and find myself in the position of having to raise my butt of the chair to release the gas. That makes it seem obvious and I don't like that. Plus, I do not have good control of when gas may be expelled so it can be a little embarrassing. It does remind me not to eat too much and try to keep the Southern wind down a little.

My stamina is not back where I would like it, and I do get tired at the end of the day. I have not been napping very often, occasionally I do, but for the most part I don't seem to require a nap in the afternoon. When I am working around the house I have to remind myself to slow down, stop and take a break on the porch and drink a bottle of water. I consider those things good however, and don't find the breaks objectionable. I also find myself debating whether the fatigue I feel in the evening is part of recovery or part of old age, I am 62. My mind says so what, my body seems to say "give it a rest."

If anyone is reading this blog, there is life after surgery. I do not expect a occurrence of the cancer. The Doctor and I talked about a follow-up colonoscopy in November of this year. At this point all signs point to good golden years. I pray for good results for every person who undergoes bowel resection surgery for whatever reason. I hope my thoughts have helped someone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Get in contact

There were several persons who sent me an email in the last month asking for some more information or just comments. If anyone who had previously asked a question would care to resend their email I would appreciate it. I am unaccustomed to using MS Outlook as my mail tool, I've used Outlook Express for several years. In the process of reducing my email files I inadvertently delete some comments concerning this blog. I would be more than happy to share what information I can provide. I just don't know where to provide it.



Thursday, July 12, 2007

More on recovery

I keep struggling with writing this. My language tends to be somewhat profane and earthy, but writing about recovery from bowel resection just seems different. I have had one person respond to my earlier blog and seemed to appreciate the information. I guess I'll keep it up, there just does not seem to be much information out there about recovery outside of the hospital from bowel resection surgery.

It is now mid-July, I have passed six-months since surgery. I will have to say I am still recovering. My wife and I took a trip back to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, my home, which meant driving about 900 miles one way. It was tough and took quite a bit out of me. The constant pounding on the road caused me to feel like I had to have a bowel movement, for much of the trip. It wasn't real bad, obviously I tolerated it, but I've made that drive before without the fatigue and uncomfortable feeling. I found sitting on the seat I could not pass gas, I had to raise up and then sometimes I had the feeling that more than gas wanted to come out, even though I did not have any accidents.

When we stopped to eat I felt bloated when I climbed back into the van and was just uncomfortable. There wasn't any real pain, although I do find that when I begin to have a bowel movement I get this deep ache in my lower region. It is a signal that events are going to occur. When I actually do have a bowel movement the muscles must still be somewhat distressed. I will get some pain around the anal region and for a while after if I urinate that pain will surface. The surgeon characterized the pain as "exquisite" and it is pretty accurate.

Much of the days I still feel a little uncomfortable in my lower abdominal area. I would not characterize it as pain, it feels bloated and just a little off. Many times my stomach feels slightly upset, not nausea but I guess I would call it nervous. My dad used to have a word that may be fairly descriptive, he would sometime refer to his stomach is "ishy."

This week I have been back at work. We arrived back in AR from MI on Sunday, I was up at 4:00 AM to go to a client plant in a nearby city to conduct team training so I have not really had an opportunity to rest. My system has behaved, however yesterday at our business office I did have what I have come to call my "episode." This is where I have a bowel movement, but it is like a symphony, it has several movements. I will go, then a short period of time later I will feel that familiar ache and have to go some more. I even have the experience that when I have a BM and am cleaning myself the wiping action seems to stimulate the muscles and I will have another BM right then. This is all very abnormal for me and a little frustrating and disconcerting.

Progress is being realized though. Whenever I would go (BM) several times in a short period of time I would have some "exquisite" pain and even some bleeding from tissue being torn. The bleeding seems to have stopped, at least for about a month now, and I don't get that real "exquisite" pain. However, there are times that I feel like I have not completely voided and have that sensation of a "hang fire." In other words there is a stool hung up close to the trap door and wants to come out but can't. Not a really comfortable feeling when you are in a meeting with clients or conducting training.

I have also noticed that in general my system is more sensitive to fatigue. I used to associate being tired with yawning, now I get tired but not sleepy. One day in MI my daughters, grand-daughter, wife and I went on a picnic to this very beautiful beach on Lake Superior. I went swimming in the lake, we played around on the beach, then spent several delightful hours roasting hot dogs, eating chips and drinking beer (mine is non-alcoholic) and taking pictures of one and other. The next day I did not feel good, my stomach seemed upset, I was fatigued and had low energy. I really felt kind of ill. We napped in the afternoon and that feeling passed, so I guess I had just overdone it at the beach. I think that after six months I would have a higher level of stamina, however I have talked to some other people that have told me they thought it was over a year before they felt the had their old stamina back. The watchword is, "take it easy."

Well, that is all for now. I have knocked off about 50 pounds since surgery, I have almost been able to eliminate my diabetes medication and probably will get off it completely this month. I have reduced my blood pressure meds, and am getting the cholesterol medication in my sights to reduce that. I feel much more limber, I move better, I generally feel like I am in better health than I have been for the last ten to fifteen years. It is a shame it takes such a life changing event to shake us up, but we know we don't change unless we are driven to by some type of pain. There is a positive side to this, I am grateful the cancer was found as early as it was, I have an excellent prognosis, I have lost weight, and life is good. I still, mentally, have my anxious moments but they are lessening. I believe in a month I will have more good news to report. I go to see the surgeon next week for the final follow-up. I will describe the ongoing bowel episodes to him, but at this point I just think it is all related to recover.

Hope this helps.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Recovery: A later perspective.

I had written about recovery at home back on February 19, 2007. I had been home approximately five week and was just starting to feel like sitting at my computer and writing about my first month's experience. I am sure everyone's experience is different, but I imagine there are a lot of similarities also. I am going to attempt to further document recovery. However, this is difficult. Much of what I am going to write about we do not discuss in polite company. It is hard to know what to expect from bowel resection when there does not seem to be much written about what happens some time after surgery. I think it is a very private experience and not discussed much. If that assumption is true, then there needs to be a lot of information put out, so let me do my part.

It has now been five months since surgery. I am still recovering. Oh, I am up and around. I'm back to work and active around the home. I walk for exercise quite often, I have many good days. However, my system reminds me from time to time that it is not happy about having my intestinal equipment cut apart and sewn back together.

After six weeks I saw the surgeon for follow-up. He told my wife, my color was looking good, I seemed to get around fairly good, and I was released to resume normal activities. HUH? I felt like shit. I did return to work in late February, but hell I shuffled around the college campus I am employed at like a little old man. I got tired after a little while and had to stop and rest a moment, or sit and rest. If I got gas, which I do quite often my area around my rectum would ache, then I would pass gas and it would go away, only to repeat as the gas built up again.

I was having bowel movements, but they weren't regular, still aren't. I went through about one week where I would have to go #2, and I would have to go 4, 5 and even 6 times within the space of a couple of hours. The consistency of the bowel changed from firm to diarrhea. My rectum would sting with what my surgeon described as an exquisite pain. I now know what exquisite pain is. It is a real sharp, piercing pain right around your anus one best described as an exquisite pain. It still happens, just not as often.

I felt sick to my stomach every morning at about week six. That eventually passed as I made sure I drank plenty of water. I would use the water bottles from a store, I'd just refill them with tap water. Food still did not taste good, it didn't taste bad, it was just blah! I was on a diet and didn't even realize it, food tasting so blah just was not to exciting to eat, so I ate just enough and would stop.

After eating, many times gas would form and I could not expel it very well which left me with a very bloated feeling and was actually quite painful. It would pass, but not before making me feel like eating wasn't a good thing. I would sleep fitfully, until I'd get up tight and take a Zanex. I recommend something like that, what I have are 0.5 mg tablets, I can take two if I want, but only as needed. I try to stay away from them, but I did have some nights where I was simply anxious, worried if I was going to recover and they helped provide me with a good night's rest.

The main difficulty I had was with my intestines. I would have a bowel movement for a day to a day and a half. Then it seemed like my system said, OK boy, we're going to get rid of all of it now. I would have sometimes half a dozen "BM's" in the space of a hour and a half. By the time I got to the 5th and 6th encore I was experiencing that "exquisite pain" and even tore some tissue and bled slightly from the opening as I cleaned myself. I did try to put Preparation H on my sore rectum, it helped relieve the itching or the pain, but I had a disappearing hemorrhoid that would appear at this time and add to the discomfort. Many a time I waddled out from the bathroom with a fairly strong pain around my behind.

Once I ate about 4 oz. of cashews in a twenty-four hour period and my system really rebelled. I went so often and my stools turned to diarrhea. It really hurt, and I have not touched cashews since. I also have not had a repeat episode like that since.

There were some days I felt absolutely pain free and at ease. I treasured those days, they did not last long and for the first three months I never had two of the days in a row.

One odd thing that happens, even today although not as bad, is after I had cleaned out my system I would get a feeling of having to go, but when I sat on the commode I might get what came to be known as my "rabbit turd." I would have some small movements and they would be accompanied by some light, feathery mucous. Nothing hurt, it just looked different.

One funny thing I have developed is what I call the "noseeum turds." The bowel would be so shaped that when it hit the water of the commode it would pass go and not look back. Many a time I wanted to see what event had transpired only to see nothing. The bowel had slid through the water in the commode and went down into the trap out of sight. I knew I had gone, but had no proof to examine.

One of the other frustrating things is after a "clean out," I would experience the sensation like I had to go. Yet, when I sat on the commode nothing would come. This was also the times I might experience the "rabbit turd" effect, but my system was sure telling me I had to go, when I couldn't. I might go a little but the rest of the bowel wouldn't come and then when finally cleaned myself and got up it would retract up the colon and sit there as a reminder of my failure, plus making me feel like I had to go right away again.

Hope this isn't disgusting you, I do not know how to say it politely. I just know that recovery is long. I still do not have what I consider to be my normal stamina, or I have days when I tire easily. I will tell you this, I feel much better than I have for years. Several things I think, account for that. First, the operation was a success. Second, I have built my lack of appetite into a diet and have lost 46 pounds since surgery. I have actually lost 69 pounds from my heaviest all time weight which was just three and a half years ago. I am much more limber, I can bend with ease and when I work under my truck I don't look like a beached whale trying to right itself.

I have had a couple of negatives. Just after two months my heart decided to have an atrial fibrillation episode, otherwise known as an "A-fib" episode. I was in the hospital for two days as they got my heart under control. I had taken the medication digoxin (Lanoxicaps) for almost eighteen years for that very reason. I had an A-fib attack back about 1989-90. The cardiologist felt that probably the heavy load of stress I was carrying from surgery was the primary contributing factor. It did really unsettle my morale and had me quite fearful for a while. However, I have no underlying heart defects, I experience PVC's (premature ventricular contractions) but so do a lot of people. PVC's are not life threatening issues, in fact neither is heart arrhythmia unless it is brought on by a heart attack, then it is often fatal. Needless to say, I spent many a night, in the dark, with my fingers checking the regularity of my pulse at my neck.

The other set back has nothing to do with either bowel resection or heart, but I pinched my sciatic nerve going down my left leg that had me in some very heavy pain for about two weeks. I am taking prescription doses of Ibuprofen (3-200mg) three times a day. It took a while, but it does seem to have helped. I did have an MRI that indicated I have a bulging disc and some scare tissue from a previous back surgery some thirty years ago might be impinging on the nerve. I will see a neurosurgeon next month to discuss treatment alternatives. And yes, I did read the article about back problems going away on their own within three months and too many Americans are having back surgery when they don't need it.

I also had to fight through some survivor's problems. This is common I've come to learn in cancer victims. Its like, a flaw was found in an otherwise sound system and will it come back, and when. I was told by an oncologist that I am back at the normal risk for a person who did not have colon cancer, that is how early the polyp was removed. I do from time to time dwell on the fact that I have fewer days in front of me than behind me, but I've been in that situation since I turned 50 twelve years ago.

I am much better after five months. I do recognize, however, that I am not completely well. My digestive system reminds me from time to time, and I do experience some pain. There are times that when I urinate I get a painful feeling at the rectum/anus. It's like that whole muscle structure is tied together somehow and wants me to know it isn't happy yet. Sometime urinating is very painful, like my penis hurts, but most of the time the sensation is normal. That pain also seems to be coming less frequently.

Must of my discomfort revolves around having a bowel movement. Many times nothing happens, however if a day and a half elapse without some sort of bowel movement I can expect an episode. Those to seem to be lighter.

I do not know if this helped anyone. I doubt anyone will ever read it. It is out in the public forum though just in case someone stumbles on this blog looking for information. I intend to be patient, I believe that most discomfort I experience is associated with healing and getting back into sync. I think in another six months I will be reporting that I am functioned pretty much back to normal. If not, I will accept the situation as being the best I can hope for. Good luck to you and yours.