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Author Topic: Good luck tomorrow, Pete  (Read 2367 times)
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The Grue
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« Reply #40 on: July 11, 2012, 05:46:38 PM »

What I don't like is that Jaime came in and posted saying she'd update and then hasn't. Hopefully that just means the Internet wasn't working at the hospital or something. We need updates!  Any local Phoenix folks know anything?
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« Reply #41 on: July 11, 2012, 05:49:14 PM »

send in the P-Team!
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« Reply #42 on: July 11, 2012, 06:42:13 PM »

Quote from: The Grue on July 11, 2012, 05:46:38 PM

Hopefully

We don't have an emote for either wringing our hands in worry, or tugging on a braid. if we did, I'd be using it.

I guess I'll just have to substitute.

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« Reply #43 on: July 11, 2012, 09:44:45 PM »

Hey everyone.

First I want to apologize for the lack of updates.  I was in no state to provide any myself, and things didn't go quite as planned in terms of Jaime's ability to access the internet.  We are both terribly sorry and want to apologize to the community.  After the overwhelming support we truly feel bad about things not going quite as planned yesterday.  You were all promised updates and we fell short of that promise, so for that we'd both like to apologize. 

The way things progressed and the timing of certain "milestones" throughout the day completely disrupted Jaime's opportunities to access the internet.

I only just returned home this afternoon and am still in a tremendous amount of pain and discomfort, but I feel it necessary to post an update as promised and to acknowledge how much it meant to us to have such great support from the GT community.

Yesterday morning we arrived at the hospital at 6:15am to check in at pre-op and I was immediately sent to a small room to change into my gown, bag up my belongings, and begin the check-in process.  First my surgeon's assistant stopped in to introduce himself, go over a few of my questions, briefly detail the procedure, and mark the approximate incision location.  Following his visit the operating room nurse came in to ask a few standard questions, and then Jaime was invited back to sit with me before I was wheeled away.  As we waited my surgeon then sat down with us and answered any and all questions we had about the procedure, what I could expect when I woke up, what my recovery would be like, etc.  By this point my heart rate was through the roof and my anxiety level was at an all-time high.

At around 9am the anesthesiologist came by and fortunately gave me something via IV to calm my nerves.  I remember explaining how stressed I was, and then mid-sentence looking at Jaime and saying, "Woah."  Shortly after that Jaime gave me a quick kiss and I yelled, "Here we go!  Weeeee!" 

I recall being wheeled to the OR, being transferred to the operating table, and then I was waking up in recovery in a ridiculous amount of pain.  When asked where it fell on a scale of 1 to 10, I was well past 20.  My entire spine was in agony, I was unable to move my head or neck, and my throat hurt so badly I couldn't even swallow saliva.  Even after four doses of morphine my discomfort wasn't alleviated at all.

My surgeon was present the moment I came to, and he said the procedure could not have gone any smoother.  Oddly my first question was once they were inside if I made the right decision to go through with the procedure.  Apparently only 1 in 20 are approved for this particular surgery, and they found my disc to be completely destroyed, with only fragments and bone spurs remaining.  Not only was it the right decision, but a complete necessity.

I remained in recovery for a few hours, being administered more and more morphine which unfortunately offered no relief, but my wife was permitted to join me and her presence helped me to weather the pain.  My surgeon then discussed what was actually done.  They entered through the right side of my neck, moved my esophagus to the side, then removed my damaged disc and any bone spurs in the area, spread my vertebrae apart to make enough space for the prosthetic joint, bolted it in place, and then stitched me back up.

Following recovery I was wheeled to a private room to stay overnight.  Getting up and moving from the gurney to my hospital bed was one of the most excruciating movements I've ever experienced.  I'm not sure I've ever strung together quite so many F-words, especially when my nurse screwed up my neck brace and disassembled the parts that were custom-adjusted from my fitting last Friday.  Even after telling her to leave it be she still kept messing with it and I had to grab it from her and fix it myself while almost passing out from pain.

My primary pain wasn't in my neck surprisingly, but down my spine, because when they ratcheted my vertebrae apart to make room for the prosthetic joint it put a tremendous amount of strain and pressure on the rest of my spinal column.  My throat was also in unbearable pain and even today I can barely swallow at all.  Chunks of ice make it about halfway down and then have to melt for me to swallow the rest of the way.  It's in part due to the breathing tube, but mainly from having my esophagus moved out of the way during surgery.

As morphine did nothing to alleviate any pain, they bumped me up to dilantin and I still had no relief.  It was an absolutely miserable night from the moment I woke up from surgery and never got any better.

But, I was pleasantly surprised by a number of friends unexpectedly stopping by to visit me.  At one point we had 15 people in the room and it truly meant a great deal to have so many friends checking on my well-being.  Someone brought me Rita's Water Ice which was FANTASTIC on my throat, everyone laughed, played cards, chatted with me about the procedure and upcoming recovery, and it really helped to take my mind off of the pain for at least a brief reprieve.  As Jaime was at my side from recovery to the hospital room and even throughout the night she just didn't have time to post updates on my condition.  Mainly because I wouldn't let go of her hand as I did all I could to handle the pain.  I had a private room in the neuro tower with a special sofa bed so she spent the night right by my side to help me whenever I needed it.  I don't know if I could have gone through all of this without her.

Throughout the night a nurse would check on me every 2 to 4 hours for pain management, to measure my neck and make sure it wasn't swelling, check my blood pressure, monitor my airway, and monitor my blood oxygen level as pain meds can depress your respiratory system.  Needless to say I've had ZERO sleep.

This morning my surgeon stopped in around 6am and said I'd be discharged later in the day once I could swallow something solid, take pain meds by mouth, and get myself out of bed.  You'd be surprised how challenging this all was, but I got through it all and arrived home by around 1:30pm.  Holy fuck I never knew how many bumps there were in the world.  Even smooth highway felt like someone was trying to shake me to death.  It was the longest 20 minutes I've ever spent in a car.  When I stopped at the pharmacy in my neck brace to fill my percocet prescription they told my wife it would take 30 minutes.  Then they looked at me and the expression on my face and filled it in 10 minutes.   

I just ate my first solid food (wonton soup) since Monday night and am a little loopy from percocet, so odds are this isn't as coherent an update as I'm usually known for.  But, I felt it necessary to struggle through a summary so that I didn't leave you all hanging any longer.

Surgery was a tremendous success, my nerve pain has already been alleviated, and by the end of the week my current pain should decrease a fair bit.  But my voice is a mess, and my sore throat has been a nightmare.  It's worse than strep throat and taking pain meds by mouth is like swallowing shards of glass.  I also continue to have pain down my spine from having my vertebrae spread apart, and my neck obviously hurts like crazy, but at least it's all over and I'm now on my way to recovery. 

Thank you all for your tremendous support.  It truly helped me to get through all of this.  And now if you'll excuse me I'm about to pass out again.  I'll check in later when I'm more coherent and hopefully in less pain. 

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« Reply #44 on: July 11, 2012, 09:57:13 PM »

Man, I'm glad to hear everything went well, Pete. Get some rest.
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« Reply #45 on: July 11, 2012, 09:58:35 PM »

Damn.  Feel better ASAP, Pete.  What's the recovery timeline look like?  How much PT is involved?
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« Reply #46 on: July 11, 2012, 10:01:52 PM »

Glad to hear everything went as smoothly as it could.  Get well soon, buddy.
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« Reply #47 on: July 11, 2012, 10:03:07 PM »

Quote from: Eightball on July 11, 2012, 09:58:35 PM

Damn.  Feel better ASAP, Pete.  What's the recovery timeline look like?  How much PT is involved?

Depends on recovery.  I could be back to working out in as little as 4 months, and if I have reasonable mobility I may not need formal PT at all.  But, I won't know until my post-op appointment at the end of the month.  For now I'm in a neck brace for comfort and safety and will be limited to short walks around the house for the next couple of days, extending walking distances in the upcoming weeks.  I can't lift anything more than 5 lbs for the next six weeks, and my movements have to be very calculated, careful, and methodical.

I just wish I could swallow.  Right now Otter pops are my closest allies.  Apparently moving the esophagus so much causes quite the trauma.  The breathing tube was nothing compared to the pain from having it complete moved to the side.
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« Reply #48 on: July 11, 2012, 10:12:13 PM »

The full aftermath: 



Don't be fooled, it's not as comfortable as it looks.  But, if you think it doesn't look comfortable at all, then you'd be right.
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« Reply #49 on: July 11, 2012, 10:40:31 PM »

Fabulousness intact.   Fabulous

Get well dude.
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« Reply #50 on: July 11, 2012, 10:52:52 PM »

yeah, but how can you wear those glasses............ Roll Eyes
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« Reply #51 on: July 11, 2012, 11:05:38 PM »

Glad to hear things went about as smoothly as they could. Hopefully the pain becomes at least manageable soon.
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« Reply #52 on: July 11, 2012, 11:12:15 PM »

That hair is HARKONIS APPROVED!  Fabulous
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« Reply #53 on: July 11, 2012, 11:52:38 PM »

Welcome back Pete. Remember, chicks dig scars
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« Reply #54 on: July 11, 2012, 11:53:51 PM »

I hope your recovery continues swiftly.  I didn't hear, what procedure was done? 
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« Reply #55 on: July 12, 2012, 12:00:07 AM »

Quote from: Dreamshadow on July 11, 2012, 11:53:51 PM

I hope your recovery continues swiftly.  I didn't hear, what procedure was done? 

Pete was seriously injured when his Xbox 360 controller rebounded off the wall and hit his neck when he threw it in frustration. Just imagine if it was the original xbox controller....
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« Reply #56 on: July 12, 2012, 03:32:21 AM »

... better than jumping on a grenade, I'd wager... that could put an eye out!

slywink

Pete - I apologize. I sent out the vibe that everything should go perfectly, but that you'd have an interesting story to tell. I guess that meant excruciating pain. frown

Take it out on me in Halo 4 - I hear Kathode is working like a dog to make sure it doesn't suck. biggrin
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« Reply #57 on: July 12, 2012, 03:33:13 AM »

Also: 5lbs? Crap, man... good THING we're not using the Duke anymore. You couldn't play an Xbox now for sure.
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« Reply #58 on: July 12, 2012, 03:51:51 AM »

Quote from: USMC Kato on July 12, 2012, 12:00:07 AM

Quote from: Dreamshadow on July 11, 2012, 11:53:51 PM

I hope your recovery continues swiftly.  I didn't hear, what procedure was done? 

Pete was seriously injured when his Xbox 360 controller rebounded off the wall and hit his neck when he threw it in frustration. Just imagine if it was the original xbox controller....

or a wiimote with the nunchuk.  he might've decapitated himself!
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« Reply #59 on: July 12, 2012, 03:52:54 AM »

Quote from: Gratch on July 11, 2012, 10:40:31 PM

Fabulousness intact.   Fabulous

yeah, the brace doesn't even clash with anything.   the man is a fab force of nature!

Quote
Get well dude.

This.
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« Reply #60 on: July 12, 2012, 04:00:58 AM »

I can't even imagine the pain, hope you get well soon!  Oh, and you need a Darth Vader helmet to go with the brace.  One that weights less than 5 pounds.
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« Reply #61 on: July 12, 2012, 04:05:11 AM »

good to hear from you Pete,hope you have a speedy recovery

FWIW-when i had surgery,Morphine did absolutely nothing for me as well,after my Epidural "fell out".Liquid Paracetamol in a big vial was what worked and i demanded it from then on,brilliant it was..but not sure i was supposed to be tripping my balls off at the same time icon_biggrin
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« Reply #62 on: July 12, 2012, 02:17:14 PM »

They let you into pharmacy school with hair like that? slywink
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« Reply #63 on: July 12, 2012, 03:24:06 PM »

Quote from: The Grue on July 12, 2012, 02:17:14 PM

They let you into pharmacy school with hair like that? slywink

hey now! Ain't nothing wrong with the man's fab hair!
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« Reply #64 on: July 12, 2012, 03:34:34 PM »

Quote from: Dreamshadow on July 11, 2012, 11:53:51 PM

I hope your recovery continues swiftly.  I didn't hear, what procedure was done? 

I had a severely herniated disc at C6/7 that was impinging a nerve down my left arm causing pain in my triceps, hand, and down my arm.  I also had severe pain and tingling in my hand and fingers.  Surgery involved the incision you see above, moving my esophagus to the side, removing the damaged disc (discectomy) which my surgeon said had been completely destroyed, stretching my spine apart to make more room, installing a prosthetic joint in my vertebrae (arthroplasty), then closing things up.  If it sounds painful, you have no idea.  But it was necessary as an EMG nerve conduction test showed I had already sustained nerve damage and the risk is that it could be irreversible.

Quote from: Purge on July 12, 2012, 03:32:21 AM

Pete - I apologize. I sent out the vibe that everything should go perfectly, but that you'd have an interesting story to tell. I guess that meant excruciating pain. frown
s

No worries.  I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for this, and ultimately it was a necessity given how damaged my disc is, the nerve damage I had already sustained, and the pain I was in for over 8 months.  I know that this pain will be more short-term and in a few months I'll be up and around again, better off than I was prior to the procedure.

But right now?  I hate my life.

Quote from: The Grue on July 12, 2012, 02:17:14 PM

They let you into pharmacy school with hair like that? slywink

I had phased it out and returned to a more "normal" look for my interview, but it was back shortly after.   icon_cool

Thanks again everyone for the support.  The pain on Tuesday was borderline unbearable, yesterday was rough but I made it through, and last night was miserable.  Pain kept me up through most of the night, but phlegm lingering from the anesthesia kept getting into my throat which would wake me up choking, especially since I can't swallow, and I'd start breathing quickly out of panic.  It was an endless cycle leaving me completely exhausted today, but I see a few naps in my future.  

But with each passing day I regain a little more mobility and personal freedom, so yesterday I was able to make it to and from the bathroom, today I might even be able to get through a shower, and tomorrow I hope to go for a short walk around the block.  
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« Reply #65 on: July 12, 2012, 03:56:44 PM »

Hope you're feeling a little better.

Curious - what is the purpose of going in through the front vs. the back?
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« Reply #66 on: July 12, 2012, 03:57:08 PM »

I think the most important question remains to be answered...when will you be able to drink beer again?
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« Reply #67 on: July 12, 2012, 03:59:02 PM »

Quote from: Teggy on July 12, 2012, 03:56:44 PM

Hope you're feeling a little better.

Curious - what is the purpose of going in through the front vs. the back?

Neural pathway?
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« Reply #68 on: July 12, 2012, 04:11:22 PM »

Quote from: Purge on July 12, 2012, 03:59:02 PM

Quote from: Teggy on July 12, 2012, 03:56:44 PM

Hope you're feeling a little better.

Curious - what is the purpose of going in through the front vs. the back?

Neural pathway?

"Well, we typically go through the back of the neck to repair this and downtime is about two weeks, but you remind me of this obnoxious Eagles fan I ran into at a bar last season so this what I'm gonna do..."  icon_twisted

Glad the doc says everything went well, Pete. Kick the s**t out of rehab!   thumbsup
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« Reply #69 on: July 12, 2012, 04:17:01 PM »

Quote from: Teggy on July 12, 2012, 03:56:44 PM

Hope you're feeling a little better.

Curious - what is the purpose of going in through the front vs. the back?

Better access to the spine, less post-op pain, uncomplicated entrance pathway, and anterior discectomies have a better success rate than posterior. 
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« Reply #70 on: July 12, 2012, 05:03:52 PM »

Quote from: The Grue on July 12, 2012, 03:57:08 PM

I think the most important question remains to be answered...when will you be able to drink beer again?

don't worry Pete, I'll make up for you're not being able to drink.  someone has got to keep the beer menace at bay!
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« Reply #71 on: July 13, 2012, 02:45:12 PM »

Quote from: CeeKay on July 12, 2012, 05:03:52 PM

Quote from: The Grue on July 12, 2012, 03:57:08 PM

I think the most important question remains to be answered...when will you be able to drink beer again?

don't worry Pete, I'll make up for you're not being able to drink.  someone has got to keep the beer menace at bay!

I've actually been in so much pain that I haven't even thought about beer in days.   icon_eek

Still can't swallow anything beyond popcicles, haven't slept for more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time due to airway swelling and an inability to breathe very well (wake up every few minutes short of breath, choking from not being able to swallow), and percocet seems to aggravate breathing problems so I've stopped taking it as I feel like I'm about to suffocate. 

Despite the discomfort and pain I'm supposed to start going for short walks around the neighborhood today.  Can't wait.   disgust
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« Reply #72 on: July 13, 2012, 03:24:07 PM »

Just go rollerblading!  ninja
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« Reply #73 on: July 13, 2012, 03:29:07 PM »

Quote from: PeteRock on July 12, 2012, 04:17:01 PM

Quote from: Teggy on July 12, 2012, 03:56:44 PM

Hope you're feeling a little better.

Curious - what is the purpose of going in through the front vs. the back?

Better access to the spine, less post-op pain, uncomplicated entrance pathway, and anterior discectomies have a better success rate than posterior. 


he he, you said posterior........
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« Reply #74 on: July 13, 2012, 03:37:16 PM »

Good to hear you're ok. Was the difficulty breathing an expected issue? I suppose it would be with them poking around so much in your neck.
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« Reply #75 on: July 13, 2012, 04:36:16 PM »

Quote from: Misguided on July 13, 2012, 03:37:16 PM

Good to hear you're ok. Was the difficulty breathing an expected issue? I suppose it would be with them poking around so much in your neck.

My brother in law made a good point when I was expressing concern about my ongoing sore throat (and "sore" doesn't even begin to describe the pain).  He said that my throat isn't just irritated from a cold, it's irritated because they moved the whole damn thing out of the way and then put it back.

Airway problems are a real concern, and if I continue to have trouble breathing I'm going to have to head to the ER to make sure I don't have major complications.  Spoke with an on-call doc this morning to discuss the issues I've been having.  The consensus is always "give it a few days and you'll start to feel better," and I guess I just need to be patient as I only had surgery on Tuesday and am already walking around the house, sitting upright, and moving around without aid.  Doesn't mean I'm not miserable, but at least the numbness, tingling, and pain in my left arm are all gone.   thumbsup

The first few days always suck no matter what the procedure.  But I already managed a shower yesterday (holy fuck I never imagined bathing to be so exhausting), went for a short walk today, and hope to be able to participate in some social fun at the house on Sunday.  I've already moved from lying on the couch to sitting upright to get my neck accustomed to supporting my head again, but I need the brace every so often for a break as my neck and shoulders fatigue pretty quickly.

I just need my throat to improve and things will get much easier.  The airway thing is a concern, but we'll see how the day progresses.  Getting off percocet might also help in that area since it depresses my breathing too much and makes my already labored breathing even more challenging.
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« Reply #76 on: July 13, 2012, 05:45:31 PM »

Yeah, give it time and when the pain subsides and you get off the pain meds I think you will be surprised how much better you feel.
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« Reply #77 on: July 13, 2012, 11:01:28 PM »

Yeah, I concur about the pain meds. I'm on 22mg 3 times a day of hydromorphone contin. Always bagged out and weak.

Won't be long till the pain is a distant memory.

Don't rush it.
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PeteRock
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« Reply #78 on: July 14, 2012, 04:18:29 PM »

Quote from: Arclight on July 13, 2012, 11:01:28 PM

Yeah, I concur about the pain meds. I'm on 22mg 3 times a day of hydromorphone contin. Always bagged out and weak.

Won't be long till the pain is a distant memory.

Don't rush it.

I've been off percocet since yesterday morning and have been managing the pain reasonably, and last night I actually slept fairly well, outside of a few instances when I woke up from very shallow breathing or unusual pauses in breathing.  My doctor said it could be due to airway inflammation, but it's still a little unsettling as I've never had sleep apnea issues in the past.  The musculature around my trachea is weak from surgery, so odds are as things heal the sleep apnea issue should right itself, but for now it's not fun.

Went for a short 5 minute walk yesterday and at first felt that my body could handle far more, but what I hadn't considered was whether my vertebrae could handle it.  The basic jarring and impacts from taking steps wreaked havoc on my spine, so after 5 minutes I was ready for a nap.  Today I had hoped to walk around the perimeter of the park at the end of our street, but I unfortunately only made it to the park and had to turn back.  Still, I made it only 5 minutes yesterday and upped that to 15 minutes today.  I even cooked dinner last night and ate a normal meal (been living on Otter Pops up until then). 

The pain, discomfort, and weakness is surprisingly exhausting during such short bouts of exercise, but I'm happy to be doing anything just a few days following surgery.  I might try to do a few short walks today instead of one long one and see how my body handles it before shooting for a full lap around the park tomorrow.  This process is horribly humbling.

It's amazing that while Tuesday through Thursday I had wanted to die, and already four days post-surgery I'm walking around the neighborhood and sitting upright without a cervical collar.  I plan to go to a friend's wife's memorial service today, but I'll have to wear the collar in the car and while out and about for safety and comfort.  At least I'll be out of the house though.

Things are going far better today and have improved a great deal since Tuesday.  I'm nowhere near as cranky, either.
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Isgrimnur
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« Reply #79 on: July 14, 2012, 04:41:34 PM »

And how are the wife and dogs handling Cranky Pete?
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