I’m not wearing THESE outside today…

I know it’s been a while, but yesterday I decided to purchase something special for myself.

Unfortunately, any plans of wearing this item outside today will have to wait.

Let me explain.

Before my foot injury last year, I had thought of purchasing some “wicked good” moccasins from L.L. Bean’s retail store in Colonie Center.

Would you look at that?  Doesn’t it look super-comfortable?

Yeah, but a broken foot will keep you from walking around in such comfort.

Continue reading “I’m not wearing THESE outside today…”

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My 2017 New York State Fair results

Sunday morning.  It’s time for me to visit the New York State Fair, and find out how my three Crate Art Projects did.  Although my photography did not land on the walls of the Harriet May Mills Art Center for the second consecutive year, I still have artwork at the Art Center – it’s just in a different portion of the building.

Full tank of gasoline, and off to Syracuse we go.

Continue reading “My 2017 New York State Fair results”

The Return of the Ugly Fish

“I have good news for you, Mr. Miller.”

This came from Dr. Templar, my retinal specialist yesterday.  For those of you who have been following my latest health concerns and issues, you know that I am currently suffering from massive hemorrhages in the blood vessels in my eyes, and to reduce the swelling in those tiny capillaries, I must undergo several medicinal injections straight into my eyeballs.

Yeah, I know you just winced at me.  Trust me, I winced when I read that paragraph out loud.

“After your initial injections, the swelling inside your eyes has reduced significantly.”

Well, that is good news, Doctor.

Continue reading “The Return of the Ugly Fish”

The Ugliest Fish and the Black Bubble

Yesterday I went to the retinal specialist, Dr. Templar (he’s a bit of a saint), for my second of what I hope will not be too many more vitreal eyeball injections.  Ugh.

So while I’m waiting in the doctor’s lobby, I notice that he has a fishtank with some very large fish in it.  Okay, looking at fish is a very peaceful way to pass the time.  Heck, how many people out there want to get a fishing pole and a carton of red worms and go out to the lake for some nibblers?

Yeah, it’s still too cold for nibblers…

And I’m staring at the fish in the aquarium, and all of a sudden I’m greeted by what has to be the ugliest fish I’ve ever seen in my life.  This fish is FUG-LY.  It looks like it bumped into the ugly coral and tried swimming through it to get away.

Don't call me ugly…

A post shared by Chuck Miller (@kchuckradio) on

Anyways, after having a staring contest with Mr. Ugly, Dr. Templar called me in for my eye injection.  First, his assistant dabbed my eye with some numbing agents, then they dropped in a few squirts of yellow antiseptic.  Then came the needle.

Yes, I know.  I cringe every time I think about it.

But a moment or two after the injection, I noticed something strange.  As my eye was readjusting to the medicines that were injected in me, I saw what appeared to be a dark black bubble in my field of vision.

“Doctor Templar,” I said, “something’s wrong here.”

“What do you see?”

“There’s a big black bubble.”

“Don’t worry.  It will go away.”

Five minutes later.

It was still there.  When I looked down, it actually centered into my field of vision.  As I looked from left to right, the black bubble bounced boldly into my brightness, bothering and bugging and bewildering me.

“It’s still there, Doctor Templar.”

“Now don’t you worry.  It will go away soon.  This can’t be the worst thing you’ve dealt with this week.”

Really?  Let me tell you about the day I had last Saturday …

As I left the doctor’s office, I stopped to take one more gander at the aquarium.  That big ugly fish swam over and gave me what must have been the equivalent of a fish stinkeye.  Okay, buddy.  Just wait until Friday, you and me are going to a little place called Ted’s…

I drove home.  The black bubble was still bouncing in my field of vision.  It wasn’t painful … it was just annoying and frustrating.

Again, just like last Saturday.

I went to do my domestic chores – clothes aren’t going to wash themselves – and yes, the black bubble was visible all night.  In the wash, in the dryer, when I folded my clothes.  Yes, I do know how to fold my clothes.  No, I don’t fold my clothes in “wad” patterns.  Try again.

After a quick view of WebMD – which, after I read the diagnoses, I discovered that I have some sort of rare, incurable and fatal disease (I think it’s called Big Ugly Fish Face Syndrome), I learned that the black bubble is just leftover medicines from the injection, and that they will dissipate from my eye within 24 hours.

Okay, black bubble … you’re on the clock.

I used my wristwatch as a measuring gauge – I was able to raise my wrist until the watch face was completely obscured by the black bubble.

By noon, the watch was as high as my chest.

By 3:00 p.m., the watch was as high as my stomach.

By 6:00 p.m, the watch was as high as my hips.  The dot was actually shrinking.

Whew.

Okay, I guess I can handle these eye injections.  I have to.  There’s no other way around it.

I guess that old saying is true.

Black bubbles in your eyes may go away … but ugly on a fish will always stay.

 

It stands for all day I dream about success…

During my recovery from foot surgery, I set a major goal for the summer of 2017.  I needed to return to the Adirondacks – to the newly-opened Boreas Ponds locale in Essex County – and get the most magnificent picture possible.  It would be a testament to my recovery from personal struggle and hardship.

And in doing so, I took stock of what I did the last time I visited the Boreas Ponds tract.  The things I did right – and the things I did wrong.

And one of the things I did “wrong” was not use the right footwear for my journey.  At the time, I walked the four miles into the Boreas Ponds tract (and the four miles out) with common sneakers on my feet.  And I thought that would be okay to use.  Yeah, that’s like the person who tries to trek up Mt. Marcy with a pair of flipflops and a bottle of Poland Spring.

So during my foot surgery convalescence, I resolved to purchase a real pair of hiking boots.  Something with a good tread on it, something that would support my feet and ankles on the journey.  And since I couldn’t buy the footwear while my foot was bandaged up and swollen, I instead purchased gift cards from L.L. Bean in the hopes of acquiring the footwear when I was physically able to do so.

Yesterday was that day.

I went to the L.L. Bean store in Colonie Center with a goal in mind.  Get a good pair of solid hiking boots.  And after plenty of searching and trying and walking and trying again and walking again…

I found these.

These are adidas Terrex Swift R GTX shoes, and yes I know that adidas is not capitalized, thank you very much.  I also know the old joke about adidas being an acronym for “all day I dream about soccer,” yeah, got that too.

These hiking boots have a powerful tread on them, and they are of a design that will support my ankles as well as my feet.  And I tested them out – they fit on both feet, which was a concern for me due to my recent surgery causing my left foot to widen out a smidge.

“Do you like these?” the customer service person asked me.

“Very much,” I said.

“You do know that all hiking gear is 20% off today at L.L. Bean, don’t you?”

Ooh.  A sale.  Well, I definitely had enough gift cards for the shoes at retail price … but with the sale, I could throw a pair of wool hiking socks and an extra pair of boot laces into the purchase.  Swank.

And I even confirmed the success of my purchase with my buddy Jeremy McNamara, my trivia compatriot who’s in the middle of training for his first Boston Marathon.  J-Mac’s hiked up several Adirondack High Peaks before (including one where he shattered his ankle on the way and had to hobble down the hill on tree-branch crutches).

His comment on my purchase? “I didn’t even know addias made hiking boots but all my running shoes are adidas.  I’m sure they’re good.  And wool socks are a must.  Good purchase.”

This is what I want.  This is my motivator.

Because now I’m one step closer to completing my hero’s quest.  My return to the Adirondacks, to the Boreas Ponds tract, with camera in tow.

Because in 2017 … I’m going to get that spectacular photo that’s been trapped in my dreams for the past few months.  It’s right there, one shutter button away.  I want it like I want air.

And like a knight entering service to his monarch … I’m getting my armor ready.

One step closer.

Figuratively and literally.

Little Silver Miracles, and why I’m not taking them.

On the way home from surgery Monday, I needed to stop at my pharmacy and pick up some pain medication.

And two days after my surgery, the pain medication is still in its little prescription bottle.

I won’t take the pills.

Let me explain why.

 

The pain pills are in the pharmacological classification known as opioids.  And I’ve heard of many stories of people taking prescription opioids – and eventually abusing the opioids to the point of addiction.  You know the names – Oxycodone, Percocet, Vicodin, etc.

And the last thing I need in my life right now is to be hooked on pain pills.

I’ve told some people of my decision, and I’ve heard responses like, “Unless you have an addictive personality, you shouldn’t have a problem.”  Or, “Just cut the pills in half and only take half the prescription.”  Or, “The doctor wouldn’t have prescribed the pain pills if he didn’t feel that you could handle them.  You just went through major surgery, Chuck, of course you’re supposed to be in pain.”

Well, maybe I don’t have an addictive personality, but I do have addiction in my family – including alcoholics, smokers, and the like.  I’ve seen this in my life, I don’t want it to attach to me.  And even cutting these pills in half isn’t going to mean I’m immune to the addictive powers of opioids.

You want proof?  Allow me to introduce a spokesperson for the dangers of opioids.

And if you can’t trust John Oliver, then who in blue blazes CAN you trust?

With that in mind, I made an executive decision.  So long as I could handle the post-surgical aches and pains as they stood, I would not take the opioids.

Day one post-surgery.  I could feel the aches in my foot… but, in all honesty, it didn’t feel any worse than the worst pain I went through when my foot was broken pre-surgery.  And yeah, right now it’s in a splint, wrapped up with medical tape and cotton and gauze.  My little toes are peeking out of the wrapping, and I can wiggle them whenever I want to.  That’s cool.  Heck, I think I can even feel the stitches in the bottom of my foot.  Maybe I feel four or five of them.  I’ll have to ask the doctor how many he put in.

The doctor told me to make sure to not put any weight on my left foot right now.  Don’t walk, don’t stand.  Use the crutches that the hospital provided.  I’ve done that.  Heck, on occasion I’ve even foregone the crutches and crawled on my hands and knees to the kitchen or to the bathroom.   No, I don’t have a picture of me doing that.  No, even if I did, I’m not going to post it here.

And I’m still taking all my other prescription medications – you know, the ones for diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, them and those.  But the pain pills are still in the pill bottle.  My thought of “If I feel that the pain is manageable, I won’t take these pills” is holding true.

This morning, I woke up… I wiggled my toes on my left foot, and about the only thing I really felt was the discomfort of having my foot wrapped up like a mummy.  That’s it.  I made it through two days without the pain pills.  And if by next Thursday, when I go back to the orthopedic surgeon, and he says I can transition back to the walking boot, then I won’t have any use or need for the pain pills.  And if worse comes to worse… I’ll take an over-the-counter pain remedy like aspirin or Tylenol or Aleve or something like that.  With the doctor’s consent, of course.

And as for the little silver miracles … what do I do about them?

I don’t know yet.  I’m sure there are options – some shadier than others.  But in all honesty, I’ll probably return the pills to the pharmacy, or have the pills destroyed in one of those “bring in your old medicine” drives.

In other words, I’m going to manage my injury and recovery with positive thought and lots of Netflix.

That’s really the only way, in my mind and in my heart, that I think I can safely manage it.

What say you, my loyal blog readers?  Do you think I’m doing the right thing by avoiding these prescription painkillers?  Or do you think I’m causing more damage to my body by not taking them?  Let me know in the comments section below.

And no, I’m not offering these pain pills as a “prize” for the best answer.  Nice try… 😀

Continue reading “Little Silver Miracles, and why I’m not taking them.”

After Monday morning … surgery day…

4:00 a.m.   Cab arrives to pick me up at my house.

It’s Surgery Day.   Crack of morn.

Today is the day when I stop walking around with a broken foot … and begin walking around with a recovering foot.

4:30 a.m.  I arrive at Albany Medical Center.  My surgery is first thing in the morning.  I’m nervous and anticipatory.  This is going to affect me for who knows how long.  My mobility has been severely impaired for the past three months.  It’s as if I’ve followed Arne Saknussem to the Center of the Earth, and now I’m waiting for Otto Lidenbrock to rescue me.

I’m in the adult surgery “waiting area” in the basement of the hospital.  The television on the wall is tuned to the Cartoon Network.  Oh look, there’s an episode of Robot Chicken that I haven’t seen before.  Ehh.  It’s sorta funny, I guess, but I’d rather watch The Venture Brothers or Aqua Teen Hunger Force instead.

5:30 a.m.  It’s time to check in.  Everything seems to be on the right path.  A security guard takes all my personal possessions – yes, he wonders why I still use a BlackBerry phone – and I change into a hospital gown.

Then comes a conga line of nurses and anesthesiologists and assistants.  An intravenous line goes into my right hand, an identity bracelet is wrapped around my left wrist.  Every person who sees me asks who I am and what my birthday is.  I know it’s for identification purposes.  It’s not like I’m expecting any birthday gifts today.

Then, at 7:30 a.m., I’m wheeled into surgery.  The anesthesiologist lets me know that I’ll be okay.  My left leg has been numbed with anesthetics.  I need to stay awake.  I want to know what’s going on.  And then…

My mind starts to drift.  Maybe I’m tired, I did wake up way too early, and I didn’t get to sleep late … still fuming over the football game I saw last night.  Ugh.  Maybe I’m just too tired.  But everything feels normal… if I close one eye, I’ll be okay …

“Go to sleep.”

No, no, I want to know what’s going on … must stay awake … must … I must …

“Go to sleep.”

It was a voice.  I could hear it in my mind.  Soft and cold.  Like a forgotten memory.

“Go to sleep.”

And I couldn’t keep my eyes open… slowly drifting, my mind was thick with thoughts and they were jumbled together …

“Go to sleep.”

I couldn’t move.  My body felt like it was made of plaster.

“Go to sleep.”

And in that moment between breaths, I fell out of consciousness.

“You are asleep.  Good.”

Good… yes… good sleep…

“I’ve waited five long years for this moment…”

Moment?  I don’t understand…

“You don’t remember me, Miller?  Not at all?”

No… no I don’t… maybe I don’t … something… about … about a door… and a signature … and a … oh no… no… no…

“Yes, yes.  You do remember after all, don’t you?

I – no – you’re – oh dear God no you’re –

“That’s right, Miller.  You remember me.  You know me as that part of your mind, your self-doubt, your angst, your fear, your depression, your inner turmoil.  The one part of your consciousness that knows all your deepest, darkest, most painful memories and failures.”

No, no please go away.  Not now.  Not while I’m having surgery … please, let me go.  I thought you were out of my life, to never come back ever ever again.  I’ve got to wake up.  If I wake up, you’ll be gone, it’ll just be a bad dream, just a fickle thought that –

“You’re not waking up, Miller.  Not this time.  No.  Not this time, not now, not ever.  No, I finally got you where I want you.”

Please, just go away.  I’ve done you no harm, I’ve grown a life of my own, you can’t take me now, not now…

“You think you can tell me what to do?  Right now, Miller, I’m in charge.  And I’ll tell you something.  I almost got you six months ago.”

Six months ago, what do you mean six months ago, I don’t understand –

“I almost got you.  Back in North Carolina.  Back in that car accident.  I almost got you.  And I would have gotten you.  You should have been killed, and you know it.”

I struggled against the sounds of The Voice.  The cool, soft tones were now sizzling and harsh, each word lashing my nerves like whips.

“I am every person who ever beat you up and let you down in school.  They were all right and you were wrong, and you know that.  I am every parent who abused you and assaulted you, you know it was all your fault and you deserved every punch and kick.  Every failed relationship, that’s all your fault.  Even your own child moved three thousand miles away to get away from you, and you know that.  All of that is me.  All of that is me coming at you now.  All of that is me taking control of your body and finally, now that I have this moment in time, all of that is me telling you to finally do it.  End your life.  End your miserable, horrible, worthless, pathetic, useless existence on this earth.”

I couldn’t breathe.  My lungs felt like big bags of burlap.

“Ah, it’s just as I suspected.  The doctors made a mistake with your anesthesia.  Somebody forgot that you were allergic to penicillin, and although I don’t know why they would use it, someone did.  Ah, the sweet death of anaphylactic shock.  I win, Miller.  You lose.”

I could see the shadowy voice in front of me.  I saw his outline, a demon dressed in black, an evil smile in rotted teeth, dagger-like eyes.

“You can see me now,” he snarled.  “You can see that I am right.  And now you’ll do what I ask.  Give up your life this night.”

Give up my life this night.

I know that can’t be right.

But I have no strength left to fight.

No matter how I try as I might.

I feel my breath slowly slipping away …

Perhaps this will be my very last day …

And if in that moment, that final dismay…

I hope my life meant something to someone today …

And as I drew in that one last breath of air …

And felt those last pangs of dismay and despair…

I saw what I thought … wait, can that be there …

Standing next to me was a – was a – was a BEAR?!?

“Back off and away, you sad demon of filth!
You’re not taking my friend Chuck off of this earth!
You haven’t the power to minimize his worth
For you haven’t seen all of the things from his birth!”

That cadence … those stanzas … that iambic pentameter…
The poetic doggerel of an ursine contrameter
My eyes started filling with tears as I stammer
“Is that you, the poetry bear known as Tetrameter?”

His razor-sharp talons were as sharp as the noise
He snarled and he growled, “You gave Chuck no choice
He’s better than you, and I say ‘Rejoice!!’”
And he swung his big bear claws at the demonic Voice

“Who are you?  What beast dares interrupt my plan
To take this worthless life of this old worthless man
You know I will do it, you know that I can
And nothing you do will ever contramand –

“Roar!!” the big bear shouted, and gave a great scare
“Your taunts and your poisons are nothing to care
For all that I’ve seen of your fear-mongering scare
In the end, you are nothing but a blast of hot air.”

“I’ll kill you too!” the Voice yelled in desperation
“You will not stop me and my recalcitration!”
“Nah, I’ve already stopped you!” was the bear’s exclamation
“For I too am from Chuck Miller’s strong imagination!”

And then I saw something I wouldn’t believe
Tetrameter’s claws ripped through the Voice with great ease
Till his insides looked more like a soup-straining sieve
And the Voice then said, “All right … you win … I’ll leave.”

And with that, my lungs filled with a big blast of life
My strains on my body were cut loose like a knife
And the cause of my pain, the center of my strife
Backed up, as if the Grim Reaper had just dropped his scythe

“Tetrameter,” I cried, “Thank you my friend
I thought at that moment my life was at an end
But how did you get here?  How did you send
That message of protection around this surgical bend?”

“Relax,” the bear growled in a more friendly tone
“Certainly at one point you surely have known
That in moments where you’ve felt depressed and alone
I was your spirit animal, from your birth till you’ve grown.”

“So you were with me in trouble and pain?”
“Yes, my friend Chuck, and I’ll be there again
Now just relax, I must go,” the bear explained
“You’re about to wake up… wake up… wake up… was the refrain…

Wake up…

Wake up…

Wake up… Mr. Miller, wake up now…

My eyes opened.  I felt movement.  My hospital gurney was being wheeled back to a recovery station.  I could see the hospital ceiling tiles whizzing past me.

“How do you feel, Mr. Miller?” one of the hospital employees asked.

I struggled to lift my head up from my pillow.  My left leg was wrapped in cotton and gauze.

“The surgery … how … ”

“Everything went well.  Not a complication at all.”

“But I … ”

“Just relax, Mr. Miller.  You’re on your way to recovery now.”

A few hours later, I was home.

I came through the foot surgery, and now it’s time to recover and recuperate.  All my efforts to make sure this surgery went well – I was indeed physically healthy enough to undergo the operation.

Then again, I had no idea that I was also mentally healthy enough to handle the operation from the inside, as well.

I guess everybody needs a “spirit animal” in their life.

I just didn’t realize my “spirit animal” was a poetry-spitting bear.

Not that I have a problem with that … 😀