26 September 2008

Metatarsophalangeal Joint Arthrodesis - Part II

It's been 10 days since the surgery. The incision site doesn't seem too tender and actual bone that was worked on isn't too painful. However the rest of my foot is quite tender. I had to unwrap the dressing a few days ago; it was slipping off of the end of my foot. I was a bit nervous about unwrapping it, but I did not see much of a choice. It was either unwrap it myself, or drag Abelisto out of class and have him drive me to LaCrosse and get the podiatry nurse to rewrap it.

I did not want Abelisto to miss any more of his classes (his students would have probably not minded, but he hates getting behind the schedule he sets in his syllabi), so I did it myself. I took off the big black space boot that covered the dressing on my foot. It has some of the best velcro I have ever seen - it grabs onto itself very securely and the ripping sound it makes when it is unbelted and opened up is tremendous.

Lifting my foot out of the boot I saw that somewhere I had lost one of the elastic bandage clips (found it later in the bedding at home). Since I did not have any new cotton batting, I tried to gently remove the old batting and carefully roll it up as I took it off so that I could put it back on. The sight as the last layer of batting came off was a wee bit scary - the foot had swelled considerably. I had deep red, purple, and greenish-yellow bruising all over my foot, and a large crack in the callous on the bottom of my foot. I lifted the gauze and pad off of the incision site and saw that the swelling had expanded the skin to where the stitched area was stretched out nearly flat.

My foot looked like a mugging victim.

I had spent nearly a full day at work the day before, and I am guessing that was too much. I sort of knew it was because about 11 the foot had started some pretty serious throbbing and burning, which of course, I ignored - with the above results. Since then I have come in in the morning and worked until the throbbing starts and then gone home and put my foot up with a cold pack on it. Yesterday I brought a cold pack to work in hopes of extending my time there a bit, mainly because today is the president's inauguration and I will likely be here most of the day.

I do work at home, but sometimes I end up taking pain medication when I get there and that puts me to sleep. I had worried about having this sort of down-time during the website redesign, but this has not been too bothersome, since at this point most of the work is being done by the vendor. Soon though, I will need to be back at full-force and ready to start working with the content management system and doing some pretty extensive Flash work. However, I am lucky in that even if I need to be home with my foot up, I can still do my work because most of it is done online anyway. And I do have an almost-comfortable way to sit in bed and work.

I have another doctor appointment in three days. Hopefully he won't tell me I really screwed up.

21 September 2008

Self-Reliance and Sustainability

I've been rereading Emerson's essay on Self-Reliance and sustainability. Foremost in my thoughts about it at this point is that I think Emerson loved words, or maybe more accurately loved himself using words - lots of words. However this may be a significant misjudgment on my part. Even though I resist it, I am as addicted to the sound-bite summary, the cliff notes version, the easy path to enlightenment, as anyone.

I also just read the Steampunk Magazine's A Steampunk's Guide to Surviving an Apocalypse.

There's some connection going on between these two documents - inside my head.

Emerson begins this essay with:
Ne te quaesiveris extra - Do not seek for anything outside of thyself.

He seems to be extolling the virtues of thinking for yourself,taking care of yourself, by yourself, experiencing yourself as potentate - at least of your own existence. He writes: It is only as a man puts off all foreign support, and stands alone, that I see him to be strong and to prevail. He is weaker by every recruit to his banner. Is not a man better than a town?

I am not sure.

I think that being self-reliant is knowing and accepting oneself. I think that this can happen whether I am standing alone or as part of a group, a tribe, or a movement.

If I know myself I should be able to recognize when I am not being true to my self. I should be able to know when I am off-kilter, so to speak. To be self-reliant is to be emotionally healthy, not needy, not seeking to verify who I am in another person's approval. However this does not mean that I should be distant or disconnected from others.

It seems that Emerson was reacting to social pressures as he created this essay. However, this is just the feeling lingering after my first reread in three years. I will have to read it again and see what I think.


It's interesting the different meanings we attribute to words and concepts. Self-reliance has so many meanings.

Self-reliance in regard to sustainability

There are two areas in which one can be self-reliant – production and consumption – and both are needed for true sustainability.

Self-reliance in production means that one can make much of what they need. This can be as simple as making a cake from scratch, or as complex as building a structure to live in shaping raw materials with the use of a few tools. Production by the self-reliant is gauged by its use value, rather than its market value. Self-reliance in production means that quality is the focus, not quantity. Quality can be sustainable, quantity often is not.

Self-reliance in consumption means that one doesn't really need a lot of things in order to exist contently – things like fancy toys or the latest style of clothing or a lavish home. A self-reliant identity does not come from the things one can buy and flaunt. A self-reliant lifestyle is unpretentious and grounded in thoughtful consumption. Considerate consumption is sustainable, conspicuous consumption never is.

Self-reliance and community

Generally one thinks of a self-reliant person being independent and unfettered by a need of others. The paradox is that self-reliance cannot truly exist without the community of trust.

"One can achieve everything in solitude - except character." ~ Henri Stendhal

Community is necessary in order to establish our identity. Without knowledge of the other there can be no knowledge of the self. Meaning is arrived at through distinctions.

Without a community of trust, an individual cannot come to know themselves fully. Without the ability to explore ideas in a safe atmosphere, the demanding, often frightening steps necessary to knowing oneself become exponentially more difficult. When thoughts and words have to be carefully guarded, when all energy is spent on simply maintaining one's existence in the seclusion of one's own mind – sanity, not growth, is the focus.

Without trust there is insecurity and an urge to hoard – both skills and things. Without trust I am not able to allow you to produce and consume in your natural patterns – I cannot trust that your intentions are towards quality, not quantity, and your consumption is considerate and not conspicuous.

19 September 2008

Metatarsophalangeal Joint Arthrodesis

I've been recovering from a surgery I had this week - Metatarsophalangeal Joint Arthrodesis. The lines on the above image only roughly represent the work that was done.

The bone connecting to my right big toe was too long. This was putting all the weight of my body on the toe joint when I walked or stood, instead of distributing it across all the toes.
the right foot, awaiting the surgeon's skill
(arrgh, I haven't seen that leg shaved in over 20 years)
the left decked out in a fancy stocking and
pressurized anklet to keep my blood flowing like it should...

I am now, 3 days after the surgery, doing better. The surgery itself went well, but recovery has been rough. I had a pretty severe reaction to the pain medicines they gave me (vomiting and mild hallucinations - crawly things all over me) and have sworn off prescribed drugs for now. I am only taking Tylenol.

what I saw today at the doctor's office

Today I got to see my foot when they took off the first cast (they would not let me stay awake and photograph the procedure - everyone quit talking and just stared at me when I asked, so I took that as a NO). I took pictures of my foot before they put the new dressings on it

the new boot, at least for the next few weeks I will get to wear
all my favorite socks that have had mates go missing

I now have a walking boot on my foot, but it is still too tender to walk on much. However, I am fairly tough, with a reasonable tolerance for pain, and I heal quickly... and I surely do hate crutches. Once this is over I am so going on a shoe-buying spree...

However, this damn boot isn't going to be easy to sleep in. And I will have to go to work in sweat pants - that's all that will fit over it (big hardship there...).

I've avoided reading about the procedure as a matter of principle, but you can if you want. Here's the Google search.

05 September 2008

The Greene County Daily World

Dad's obituary was in the weekly paper one year ago today, along with a photo of him with his motorcycle (although they cropped most of the motorcycle out of the image). It said:
Keith L. May, 78, of Linton, passed away at 8:45 p.m., Friday, August 31, 2007 at his residence.
He was born on March 25, 1929, the son of Curtis and Emma (Wilson) May. He served in the U.S. Army and was a veteran of the Korean War. He worked as a truck driver, a regional service representative for Fiat, a service manager at a foreign car dealership, and later worked for Williams Brothers Pharmacy in delivery until his retirement in July of 2007. He was a memeter of the Bloomington Masonic Lodge and the Linton Goldwing Club.
Survivors include his wife whom he married June 22, 1956, Constance E. (Johnston) May of Linton; two daughters, Monta Gael May (Wes Miller) of Winona, MN and Michelle (Chris) Mattox of Bloomfield; two sons Aaron Douglas May (Jennifer Sparks) of Bloomfield and Brian Keith (Susan) May of Atoka TN; two sisters Mary Jo May of Bedford and Wanda Rush of Bloomington; one brother, Bill May of Bedford; 11 grandchildren Aluna, Nova, Sheba, Emerald, Eli, Aaron (Erin), Tena, Rebecca, Jessica, Blaise and Ava; and two great-grandchildren Taylor and Dominic.
He was preceded in death by his father Curtis May; mother Emma May-Stancombe; and a brother Harry May.
Memorial services were held at the Welch & Cornett Funeral Home, Linton Chapel, at 11:00 on Tuesday.
Online condolences can be sent to the family at www.welchcornett.com.
There was also a color photo of dad on the front page of the paper.

The week's front page headlines were:
Counterfeit bills surface in Linton
Police have suspect in bomb threat cases
Families help break ground on new homes
Music fesitval exceeds expectations

We were already home in Winona when the weekly paper came out. My mother got copies of the paper for all of us. I have copies of the newspaper for all of the kids. I haven't given them to them. The papers are sitting on my dresser. This is the first I have looked at them in a year.

03 September 2008

Google Chrome

I just downloaded Chrome.

Seems like it renders text ala Firefox, images come across well, and it is FAST,FAST, FAST in regard to scripts and multimedia.
Side-by-side comparison of text rendering: (left-to-right) Firefox, Chrome, Safari, IE7.

It also uploads fast. The image above uploaded so fast I thought I was seeing things...

I will be checking out my favorite bandwidth-heavy sites and see if it really is as fast as it seems.

01 September 2008

The last time I saw my father

Last year at this time I saw my father for the very last time.

He was laying on a table in the mortuary. Cold and smooth. I touched his face, I held his hand, I could not let him go without doing those things.


I started this blog on August 2nd of last year. I had just learned my father was dying of lung cancer. The bridge in Minneapolis had just collapsed, or was collapsing - I cannot quite remember the order of things.

One year ago yesterday, one year and 12 hours ago, my father died. I was on the road, desperately trying to get there before he passed on. I did not make it.

One year ago today I was helping with funeral arrangements, trying to transfer airline tickets for our daughters and granddaughter to fly in from Las Vegas, and trying to arrange a ticket for our son, Eli, to fly down from Winona (he stayed home since we had more people than would fit in the station wagon and we never dreamed my father would die that night).

Eli's ticket was not a problem. Transferring the girls' tickets was a nightmare. In the end we ended up spending nearly $3,000 for the airline tickets we purchased that day and the ones we had purchased two days before, since they would not let us transfer the original tickets without paying fees and the difference between the ticket prices. That would have been more than buying new tickets, so we bought new tickets. After that we learned that the initial ticket order had been duplicated and so we owned 8 tickets. Nova and Taylor would fly in from Vegas that night. Aluna would fly in the next morning so that she could work her shift (it was impossible to get a substitute at that late notice). Eli would fly down from Minnesota that night, just a couple hours ahead of Nova and Tay. Eli doesn't drive, didn't drive, so Princess and Matt took him to the airport - a 2-hour drive from Winona.

I am amazed now, looking back, that it all worked out.