Sunday, December 26, 2010


First off, we hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas season, and we hope that the New Year is your best ever.  It was wonderful to be home with my family, and able to really enjoy it with relatively good health.  This year I was able to get the Christmas lights up, walk most of the annual Paso Robles Vine Street Victorian walk, participate in a men's chorus for the church Christmas program, and BBQ the steaks for our traditional Richards family Christmas eve dinner.  Those are just the highlights.  Don't get me wrong, last year was unforgettable as well, thanks to the Brett and Betsy King family.  Last year Brett got us into Hearst Castle, one of our favorite places in the whole world, for a private tour.  I did it mostly in my wheel chair, but it was a tender mercy, if not a down right miracle.  A lot has changed since then.  The Kings, who already had twins Carolyn and Cameron, added the triplets, CONNER, COLTON and CALEB, who are now 10 months old.  If you think my story is a miracle, visit the Kings and get to know the triplets.

A week and a half ago I made another trip to SF to visit my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Shane Burch.  I was hoping that he would say that I was ready for surgery on my collapsed vertebra, but it wasn't to be.  After an hour and a half in the MRI saddle, and his review of the pictures, he has decided to try other, less invasive, procedures before surgery.  Basically, the big 3, T9-11, have healed in different degrees and states of alignment.  Because they all didn't break at the same time and from a single incident, they are in different states of repair.  Also, due to my situation of being mostly bedridden for the early stages of  healing, they really haven't healed straight.  He believes my pain is primarily from the back part of the vertebra, I think they're called the facets, rubbing on the next vertebra, which is causing inflammation.  Physical therapy has helped through strengthening my back muscles to better support my spine.  If the pain continues he'll try injections first, then radio frequency oblation (sp?) to deaden the nerves causing the pain.  Then surgery, if needed.  That's the long of it.  The short of it is...that I won't be getting any more of my height back from kyphoplasty.

It was kind of funny, at the end of our appointment when he made the statement, "I want you to resume some normal activities to see how things go."  I excitedly asked, 'Does that mean I can play basketball?',  "No.  Probably never again."  'Volleyball on Thursday nights?'  "No."  'Backpacking?'  "Not yet."  'Weed whacking?'  "Definitely not!"  'Cutting wood?'  "No! (a little more perturbed)"  'I have a neighbor that's building a race car.  Can I help him?'  "Are you kidding me?"  'Nope.' "I don't want you climbing under or bending over a car."  'Golf?'  "You can golf, but only chipping and putting for the time being.  I want you to do NORMAL activities that normal people do."  'Like what?'  "Walking or riding a bike."  'You already said I could do that.'  "Well, you can do more of it."  'Thanks Doc.'  So at least I went home excited to be able to chip & putt.  And it's rained ever since.  I guess it's the Lord's way of nicely reminding me to be grateful for what I have, as I know that it could all go away tomorrow.  I don't even keep clubs in my car...yet.

One last thing about my SF trip.  I had to do an hour or so of "mobility tests" for a study that I am in for my oncologist, Dr. Wolf.  I must give huge kudos to my physical therapy team of Jen, her minions of Candice, Melissa, Caroline and almost a PT Andrea (on-DREY-a), who's now back in Nebraska.  They were really surprised at my level of physical activity, despite my back.  The best part was on one of the tests I had to stand with my back against a wall, my feet fairly close together with my heels touching each other and the wall.  I held a staff out at arms length, and slowly twisted my body, including my hips and shoulders, as far to the right and left as possible, and then they measure the results by putting marks on the floor and measuring the degrees of rotation.  The 2 assistants to Dr. Wolf for this study, Ilana and Barbara, weren't sure if they were doing it exactly right (I am one of the first to be tested for this new study), so they asked Dr. Wolf to demonstrate.  He did it, just as they had me do it, and asked, "How'd Kevin do?"  They pointed out his marks on the floor, then pointed to mine.  "That's embarrassing", he said.  I had better rotation than he did.  Thank you San Luis Sports Therapy in Paso Robles.  I'm sorry that I didn't get any pictures this time.  I forgot the camera.  Next visit is Jan 11th.  Until then, we hope you have a wonderful life.  Check that.  We hope you MAKE a wonderful life for you and everyone around you.

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