Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Breakfast in bed isn't always what it's cracked up to be 

Misty was delivered breakfast in bed this morning by our 5-year-old daughter. Upon waking her mother, Emily presented Misty with a glass of water and a sandwich made from two pieces of bread with an Oreo Fun Stix and some peanuts inside.

She made one for Kendall, too, who looked at it and said, "What this on my bread?"

"Roll it up," Emily told Misty. "It looks like it would be kind of nasty, but it's actually really good once you start chewing it."

Misty told me on the phone, "She was wrong."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dad gets left behind for a girls-only beach trip 

Once Misty was convinced that I'd recovered from my surgery enough to take care of myself, she and the girls left me at home and took a trip to Orange Beach. Misty's friend Jennifer has a condo there, so for a few days Emily and Kendall got to play with her daughters Shelby and Josie.

They called me before they even reached the condo, and Emily was already declaring it the best beach ever (she'd seen the giant Ferris Wheel at The Wharf).

Emily and Shelby float along the lazy river, originally uploaded by MCuthbert.
Even though they referred to it as a "beach" trip, they didn't really see much of the beach. Most of their time was spent at the pool and the water park. What little sand they saw came from a few feet at the bay, heavily trafficked with boats. They did find a batch of baby crabs under a pier though, and had fun hunting for more with nets.

Here's a slide show of pictures from their trip. While it's not the best photo in the group, the one below is my favorite because it's Kendall talking to me on the cell phone.

Talking to Dad, originally uploaded by MCuthbert.

When the girls got home, they were really sweet to me, asking how I was feeling and being careful not to hug me around my waist. I was glad to have them home -- I really missed them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A night out alone is better than a night at home alone 

With the girls all at the beach this week, it's been quiet at home. Last night though, rather than sit by myself watching TV, I went out to WorkPlay to catch Wild Sweet Orange's final concert (of sorts). It was a great performance as usual, and the crowd really got into it.

In addition, it was a real treat to see Duquette Johnston & the Rebel Kings as the night's opening act. I'd seen Johnston perform solo a couple years ago at Vulcan AfterTunes, but never with a band. They're yet another gem in the Birmingham music scene.

Here are a couple videos I shot from the show.

The Rebel Kings - 'Syphilis,' live at WorkPlay

Fans join Wild Sweet Orange on stage for 'I'm Coming Home'

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dancing up a storm 

As I mentioned, Misty and I attended a wedding this past Saturday. Our friends Regina and Nick tied the knot at a very cool ceremony at WorkPlay.

Here was the highlight of the evening.

Regina and Nick's Big Dance from Mark Five Productions on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Recovering from hernia surgery 

Tomorrow I return to work, having come to the end of a week off recovering from my hernia surgery. Monday's operation went well, I suppose -- I wasn't awake for most of it. I do remember at one point my doctor coming into the room and talking to me, and I asked him who he was. It wasn't because I didn't remember him, but because I couldn't see. The nurses prepping me made me take my contacts out, but not knowing this rule ahead of time, I hadn't brought a case to put them in. The nurses solved that problem by giving me a pair of urine sample cups (which they insisted were sterile) in which I could store my contacts. Yes, folks, that's the sort of specialized care you get from St. Vincent's.

Misty was kind enough to film me just before and after surgery, since the girls had requested that I leave them a message. They were expecting something along the lines of the YouTube sensation "David After Dentist," so I tried to humor them.

Ah yes, thank you for that, Misty.

Actually, Misty took excellent care of me for the first few days while I remained mostly stationary on the couch upstairs. It was very comforting to know that she had everything under control -- from doling out my medicine, to refilling my ice packs, to bringing me things to eat. I was told I shouldn't lift anything heavier than a cup of coffee for two weeks, and I'm happy to oblige because it really does hurt when I exert myself to even small degrees.

Monday wasn't too bad. Mostly I was just sore. It felt like I'd done about a thousand sit-ups.

Tuesday was when the pain really set in and I could feel my incision.

Wednesday seemed to be a little better, but by that point I was keeping myself well medicated, so who knows?

Thursday I finally noticed the swelling subside. I was able to remove my bandages, and that pretty much freaked me out, seeing my incisions. The surgeon had explained that I'd had two "tiny little cuts" along my abdomen, but these things are three and a quarter inches long each! Of course, this is also the guy who told me that they'd be knocking me out with the same drugs Michael Jackson had been taking.

When the girls returned home (they'd been staying with Misty's mom) they were both really sweet, giving me gentle hugs and telling me how much they missed me. I showed Emily my incisions, whereupon she did a smooth Keanu Reeves impression with her response of "Whoa." Kendall then ran over and said, "Daddy, show me you blood!"

Taking note of how slowly I was moving around, Emily suggested that I should get myself a cane. "Like Mimi," she said. Ah yes, thank you, my dear daughter. "They have some fancy ones at CVS," Emily explained. She offered to help me pick one out and even to decorate it.

I tried watching some SpongeBob with the girls, but I had to stop because it hurts too much to laugh. It also hurts to cough, blow my nose, or, God forbid, sneeze. I sneezed once and it felt like someone had jabbed a knife into my abdomen.

Every so often, I'm still feeling pinches of pain along my incision, and sometimes I'll feel like I have a cramp on my sides. Most of the time though, the pain just feels like a dull ache in my testicles -- which is the reason I went to get this corrected in the first place. But then I'll check with my boys, and they say, "No, no... It's not us. We're fine." They suggest instead, "Maybe that doctor inserted a second pair of testicles into your abdomen, and they're being slowly strangled by your intestine." "Yes," I realize, "that's exactly what it feels like."

Saturday evening, Misty and I went to a wedding, and it was the first time all week that I'd worn pants. That in itself was an effort. Things went OK, but after a few hours, I felt worn out. Today I felt well enough to drive myself to Sam's to get my car battery replaced. Hopefully by easing into things, I'll be set for work in the morning. If not, I'm sure no one at the office will mind if I just sit at my desk pantless.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A distraction when it was needed most 

This one stung a bit
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
With my hernia surgery scheduled for tomorrow it's likely I would have spent all day today worrying about it, were it not for a gracious invitation by Mike and Lori Ermert for our church CORE Group to spend the day at their house on Smith Lake. As such, the event happened to work out as the perfect distraction for me, and our families had a blast.

Our day began with a brief devotional, and Mike, gearing the lesson toward the kids in the group, recounted the story of Jesus walking on water. When Jesus called to him, Peter also briefly walked across the water, until doubt entered his mind and he began to sink.

"What should we learn from this?," Mike asked the group.

"Always wear a life jacket," was the response from one of the kids.

Our mini-service even included Communion. We passed around a plate containing a large wafer, each of us breaking off a tiny piece, just like during "real" church. When it got to Misty though, Kendall, who was in her lap, picked up the whole wafer and began to chow down. So Kendall had her first Communion, of sorts.

The girls get ready for a boat ride
Originally uploaded by MCuthbert
The rest of the day was filled with fun -- swimming, playing and eating plenty of good food. Kendall rode a jet ski, and eventually Emily decided she wanted to try it, too. Yet despite the prodding of the other girls her age, Emily was not about to participate in being dragged behind the boat on a float, nor would Kendall allow me to let go of her long enough for me to try it. I did jump off the top of the dock several times though. My excessive splashdowns already made me plenty sore, so maybe I won't notice too much after tomorrow's surgery.

I'm so glad our group got to spend the day together at the lake. I, for one, was getting tired of all the "young marrieds" CORE Groups showing us up with their tales of adventure in their blogs and their photo galleries on Facebook, while the activities of our "married with young children" group tend to gravitate toward the playground. Not today, though. Today we laughed and cheered as Lance Lowery went water skiing, John Lyda did the Moonwalk in midair, and all sorts of other great memories to cherish.

How ya like that, young marrieds?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Two for the price of one 

Today was not a very productive day at work. Early in the morning, I headed over to St. Vincent's to meet with a surgeon and schedule hernia surgery. The meeting didn't go as I'd hoped.

As it turns out, I have not one, but two hernias. The one of the right is severe enough that I can see it protruding from my abdomen, the surprise hernia on the left is smaller and hasn't yet worked its way out.

The operation normally takes about 30 minutes, but it'll be twice as long with my "bilateral inguinal herniae." So I'll be out for about an hour. That's scary. Recovery time will supposedly be about the same, but the pain may be greater, and I won't be able to favor one side over the other.

While talking with the doctor, I inquired as to how they'd put me to sleep for the surgery. His response was "Have you ever heard of Michael Jackson?"

I wasn't much in the mood for that, so I responded to his poor humor with my own sarcasm. "No, not this week," I said.

"Well he was taking a drug called diprivan, and that's what we'll give you," the doctor told me. What a wonderful bedside manner this guy has.

"Since that's what supposedly killed him," I said, "I'm not sure that's the best track to go when explaining the anesthesia process to patients."

My surgery is scheduled for a week from today. Oh, and did I mention?... Two hernias!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Living with a hernia 

This is a story I've kept mostly to myself for a while, but as it's now played out into something tangible, I thought I'd share it in the hopes that it may benefit someone else going through the same thing.

Several months back, I'd been having testicular pain. Not severe, and not constant -- it was dull and usually occurred only when I walked for extended distances (half a mile or so). Mostly it just felt like I needed to adjust myself (like you always see baseball players do), only the adjustments never had any effect. It went on long enough that I decided to get it checked out. As any guy will tell you, it's not a place where you want to experience even an occasional dull ache. I didn't notice any swelling and couldn't feel any lumps, but I went in for a screening for testicular cancer. My doctor thought it was more likely an infection (not an STD). It's hard to flush out any problems in that area, he pointed out, because of the way it's designed to have minimal blood flow, so something can stick around for a long time. I took some medicine for a few weeks that was supposed to help out. In the meantime, my doctor also set me up for an ultrasound, which turned out all clear.

It was hard to know if the pain had gone away with the medicine, because as I said, it wasn't that frequent or that severe to begin with. However, one day a couple months ago, I looked down as I was drying off from my shower and noticed a bulge on the right side of my abdomen. I'd read that a hernia could cause testicular pain, so I thought that might be what the bulge was. But like a typical male, I put off going to the doctor. It wasn't that I was afraid to go, but I knew we had our Disney trip coming up, and then I'd be slammed at work with City Stages, so I didn't want to be told I needed an operation that would incapacitate me.

Today I finally went to see my doctor about the bulge. He looked at it for less than 2 seconds and said, "Yep, that's a hernia." He explained that it's a weakness in the lining of the abdomen that could have been there since birth. Anything from lifting heavy objects to constipation can weaken the spot further so that the intestines begin to protrude from there. It could have been something I'd done 10 years ago that's only shown up now, he told me.

I'm meeting with a surgeon next week. On the plus side, it's something that I can get fixed at my own convenience, but I don't see much point in waiting around any longer.