May 29-
    Greetings from the Keweenaw. After nearly 2 weeks of time locked up at the Mayo in Rochester, I was finally sprung free on Monday. Nora and I drove as far as Wausau and then figured we would not push it and spent the night in a hotel. We finished the trip home Tuesday morning and for the most part, things have been going pretty good since we got home.
    When they released me, I had a tiny bit of fluid in my lungs and that did end up growing the first few days I was home. It did not reach critical levels, but we decided to not wait for it to reach a critical level and headed to the ER on Thursday late morning to have them check things out. Their assessment was pretty much spot on with what I was feeling. It had increased, but was not at a level where it needed to be drained, so we got to go home that afternoon.
    I think that is the first time in a long time that I have gone to the ER and been able to leave on my own two feet and get into my own vehicle. Even the folks at the ER (who have all gotten to know me very well by now) commented on how I was not being shipped off to the upstairs or another hospital.
    Since being sent home, things seemed to get a little better. I did go into the hospital to have things checked again Saturday and that was their conclusion. So it looks like my body is strong enough this time to be able to handle the issues that have popped up so far. One of the things they did at the Mayo was to remove my pericardium. It was damaged from radiation therapy when I was a kid and also from the previous surgery and subsequent filling. I think it is actually a blessing in disguise that they removed it because I am pretty sure if my lungs were filling up, it would have too, as it had a tendency to fill up.
    Otherwise, I think I am just going through what would be termed an average recovery from heart surgery. All they had to do this time was repair the tricuspid valve. It was actually damaged by one of the pacemaker leads that was put in a year ago. I was lucky that it only needed repairing as it is a much easier job for the doctor and also much easier surgery to recover from. Plus, I figure that the ambulance chasers will be calling soon to give me their ideas on how much I will get from the botched pacer lead. Just kidding of course. I was told that that is something that happens sometimes. Plus, that is just not my style.
    So it's going to be a slow recovery, but the good news is that I am moving in the right direction. I tire very easily right now and still have quite a bit of pain in the sternum- sneezing is complete torture. It will be a few more weeks before I can drive a car myself or lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk, but then the restrictions start to drop off pretty quickly after that.
    Speaking of tiring easily, I have just done that and will sign off for this week.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

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May 15-
    Well, the past few months have many times found me with not a lot of news to share, which I guess in many respects can be a good thing, although it does make it difficult to produce an entry every week. This entry may not be a long one, but I do have some interesting news. 
    As I have mentioned from time to time in the journals I have not been feeling good from time to time and ever since we got home from FL, my issues have seem to become more frequent and severe. So a few weeks after getting back from FL, I went into see my primary care doctor to see if he could find anything. No luck and the way I was feeling, I brought up the idea of heading back down to the Mayo Clinic to let them have a look at me. Through the years I have grown to be very in touch with my body and how I feel and I just felt like things were not right. I know that some of the worlds best doctors are at the Mayo, they see a ton of patients and have worked on me in the past, so figured that if they could not find what was wrong, no one could. My doctor said he would be happy to send in a referral and so that was done and an appointment was made for me to have a battery of tests done this past Friday and meet with some specialists.
    My body decided it did not want to be patient enough and this past Tuesday morning, I had to have Nora take me to the ER at Portage in Hancock and they looked me over as best as they could there. Nothing was found, but the ER doctor did call up the Mayo and it was decided that since I was scheduled to be down there on Friday anyway, I might as well be shipped down there right away. 
    There are very few times when it is beneficial to be really sick and that moment would have been one of those that could have had a benefit. Had I really been sick, I could have taken an aircraft ride to the Mayo from Hancock, but instead, I got to bounce around in the back of an ambulance for 7 1/2 hours. I arrived, their ER checked me out and did not find anything alarming, so I was admitted and moved up to a room that night. Had the battery of tests done on Wednesday and Thursday and they found one, possibly two culprits. For sure I have another heart valve that needs to be fixed. I have not been told if it will be a repair or replacement, but either way, they need to crack me open, shut things down and then start me back up and zip me back up. The other potential issue is some thickening of the pericardium (sack around the heart), which is restrictive to the hearts pumping ability. That can be fixed at the same time they fix the valve.
    So here I sit in a hospital room at St Mary's awaiting the word for when it will all go down. I seriously hope that it will be early this coming week, rather than late, but I have their MVP doing the work and guys like that can have a pretty full dance card, so we'll see.  At any rate, it is likely that there will be no entry next week and perhaps the week after that- all depending on when it happens and how well the recovery goes. 
    Nora and Gracie arrived today and we had a blast walking around the hospital. They cannot let me out of the hospital because of a med I have to take through IV, but I can go off the floor and even outside into the courtyards of the hospital, which is the plan for tomorrow when the weather is nice. Having my two girls down here with me sure lightened life a lot. We have friends and family caring for the pups at our place and Grace will head back before my operation so Nora will be more free to tend to me.
     Nora and I will be updating you all on how things will be going. So hang in there, I will be back stronger and better than ever in a few.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

May 8-
    Happy Mothers Day moms! It sure is fun to have this holiday come around now days. Gracie still has not quite grasped the concept and I waited to the last minute to get her to sign the card and she was too cranky this morning to want to, so her card was unsigned this year. In my defense, she came down with a stomach virus on Wednesday and has not been feeling herself since then, so I guess I can blame some of that on why I did not get her to sign the card earlier. Perhaps she can still sign it post delivery.
    I think the biggest news this week has been poor Gracie coming down with her stomach ailment this week. I guess it is something going around and takes around 6 days to run it's course. She is on day 5 right now and is feeling better, but still running a bit of a fever and not eating as much as she typically does.
   She was feeling good enough the other day to sit down and play with her blocks and before we knew it, she was building a skyscraper! I rushed to get my camera to get a picture of it all, but could not get set up in time, but Nora was quick on the draw with her phone and snapped a shot of Grace's 10 block tall structure. I must admit, I tried to build one as high as I could the other evening and did not get much past 10. The thing that cracked me up is that she probably could have built it even higher, but gave it a swat with her hand soon after Nora snapped that pic.
    I too have not been feeling too well lately. Some days better than others, but it seems like there has been a steady decline in how I feel on average, so I head to see the Dr's at the end of this week and hopefully they will get to the bottom of things.
    Because of my not feeling too well, I have not done a ton this week. I was able to get the footings completed for the wood shelter and have all the materials now. Both yesterday and today have been perfect days to work on it, but I just don't have the energy. I suppose if the bugs come before I can get to building it, I will just wait for the black flies to go away. They are the main culprit that I am worried about and their season generally ends around the end of June.
    In the weather department... I think I can finally declare that spring is here! It waited for one last snow to fall on Monday. It actually came down pretty good at one point and the ground was all white for a brief moment. I did snap a shot of the snow falling just as it started to pick up in intensity and accumulate on things. We rebounded pretty nicely on Tuesday, with sunny skies and temps in the low 50's and then most of the rest of the week and this weekend have been pretty nice. Temps in the 50's to around 60 and quite a bit of sunshine. Some of the buds on the trees are starting to open up and the grass that does not have snow on it is greening up. Actually, the only snow I have left is a pile that formed from it coming off the shop roof.
    I did swing by the Laurium Glacier this week and it is still going pretty strong. I'd say at least another 10 days or so, perhaps more if we cool off a bit. Really amazing that it is hanging on so long after the rather timid winter we had. 
    Not much else going on at the moment, so I guess I will sign off for this one so I can confer with my wife to see what she wants me to make her for dinner.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

May 1-
    Happy May Everyone! Boy, spring is still having a real hard time showing it's face around here. A few more inches of snow on Tuesday and some rain and snow showers up here on Thursday and today the temp has struggled to climb above 40 degrees. Tomorrow will be the same, more cold temps. The past two mornings our morning walk has felt more like a late October or early November walk and not a walk in May. The snow on the ground continues to melt and we are now down to the most stubborn remnants- mainly the deeper piles from either plowing or drifting, but there are still some spots in the woods with just the natural snow cover left.
    With all the cold and windy and wet weather happening, the cabin fever is starting to get worse, although we do get out to play a bit when ever the weather allows. When it does not, we usually stay in and cook. I am in charge of most of the meals (by choice, I love to cook meals) and Nora and Gracie are in charge of the baking department. Also by choice as they both love to bake- well at least Nora does and Grace just loves to be a part of things. The other evening after a nice meal, we all still had a bit of room left, so Grace and mom made us some chocolate chip cookies. Nora wanted to make something from scratch, but I did not have the patience, so they broke into a tub of pre-made batter that Nora got from one of the school fundraisers. They turned out yummy and were a perfect touch to the dinner.
    As mentioned, we do get out when the weather allows and Friday was one such day. Sunny skies and temps in the upper 50's. Weather like that sure brightens the spirits after a long and dark winter and what has been a cold and wet spring. With most of the snow gone from the woods, we were even able to do some exploring, or which Grace is not able to do all on her own. She still takes the occasional stumble on a stick and we have to steer her around some of the doggy land mines just beyond the clearing, but otherwise she is all on her own and it is up to us to try and keep up with her. As mentioned, there are still a few patches of snow left in the woods that are not the result of drifting or plowing and here is one we came across while out in the woods Friday.
    We have moved from snowmobile season to ATV season and Grace has been in the shop working on her moves. She has the wheelie and riding on two wheels on the same side down pretty good. We have been building a little kicker for her so she can take some jumps. Until that is done, she has been working on her heel clickers. Quite the dare devil. In reality, she has not been on a moving ATV yet, but I am sure that will come. She is able to climb up on them all by herself and got herself into that position all on her own and all of her own, so maybe real heel clickers are not that far off in the future!
    Yesterday we decided to get out of the house and take a ride. Nora knew that the "Monks" were opening for the first day yesterday. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about, it is a bakery called the Jampot between Eagle River and Eagle Harbor run by the monks from the Society of St. John. They have homemade jams and bakery items. Anyway, on they way there, we came across one of the casualties of this winters snow. Kind of strange to see that as we really did not have all that much snow this season. I guess time and the weight of the snow were to blame. For those wondering what building it was, it was the first one you come to after turning off of Hwy 41 onto M26. It was not the blacksmith shop.
    After stopping off at the "monks" we headed home, but decided to take a bush road home. Where we turned off the highway onto the bush road, there was no snow, but as we started to climb in elevation, some snow started to appear on the side of the road. As we climbed higher and higher, the amount of snow got more and more and one of the off shoots from this road had enough snow on it that one could have ridden a sled on it. How long that kind of cover lasted, I have no idea, but I was half tempted to load the sled onto the back of the truck and head up to where we took our last ride of the season a few weeks ago and take a ride today. Just to say that I rode in May- for the second time in 3 years.
    Even the road we were on started to get pretty snow covered and after grinding our way through an area with about a foot of snow on the road, we found a spot to turn around. I may be dumb, but I'm not STUPID! No need to get the truck stuck in the middle of the woods with all of us wearing light jackets and rain on it's way.
    On the way down, we had a nice overlook of the lake for a while and spotted a lakes freighter making it's way down to some port below us.
    So we are still in a bit of a holding pattern up here. Just the fact that we have turned the calendar from April to May is a help both in climatology and our psyche. It does look like once we get past tomorrow's high in the low 40's we will have highs in the 50's. I think I will take advantage of that to start working on the wood shelter re-build. Start with improving the footings and then move onto the framing. It should not take too long to complete. I think I was able to build the initial one in about 2 weeks and that was when I was less than a month away from my open heart surgery.
    I guess that covers it for this one.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
-JD-

 

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