New Garbage Disposal
First watch, 4 bells (10:12 pm)

Last Monday I discovered a leak from my garbage disposal (an Insinkerator Badger 5).

I've spent all evening working on it, and had to make a trip to Lowe's, but I have installed a new garbage disposal (Waste King L-8000). I was even able to remove an unnecessary piece of pipe and its compression fitting. The new disposal is quieter and twice as strong. And so far there are no leaks, despite the fact that this was my first time using plumber's putty.

I'll feel better after a few days of no leaks, though. Why does water have to ruin everything?

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The Long Road to Recovery
Forenoon watch, 8 bells (12:22 pm)

distal biceps tendon injury surgical scar

On 27 August 2014 I experienced a "traumatic rupture of the distal biceps tendon" only a week after completing physical therapy for tearing my Achilles tendon the year before.

As of now, I have been pronounced "healed" by my surgeon and can now return to normal activity. At least what normal activity I can manage after almost nine months of atrophy and habitual disuse. Seriously, that's a long time for a recovery. No shorter than my Achilles tendon though, and if it's any indication I'll be dealing with this for a long time to come. After almost two years my left leg is much better but certainly not 100%.

In any case, it's nice to have the OK to stop babying my arm.

After two straight years of (very expensive) injuries, my goal for 2015 is to not have surgery. And I will be very happy if I can attain it. My one recommendation to you (very) few loyal readers is this: do not tear your tendons.

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Bad Refrigerator?
Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:23 am)

When I moved in to my house I bought a $500 refrigerator. After about eight years, I had to get a new one. That new one cost about four times the old one, but it's really nice and I haven't ever regretted spending so much money on a fridge.

However, two nights ago I noticed the freezer wasn't as cold as it should be. As I investigated it more, I found a thick layer of frost and ice in the back. That frost formed when the freezer wasn't shut all the way (I've found the doors open twice, in the morning so they'd been open all night).

Last night I unplugged the refrigerator and pulled it out from its home. I opened the freezer. Lorien and I emptied it, moving some things to the freezer in the garage and others to the trash bin (ew). I chipped most of the ice away but it went down into some vents in the back of the freezer. So Lorien ran out and picked up some dry ice which we put in the refrigerator part and left closed while we let the freezer sit open overnight.

This morning there was a huge puddle of water on the floor, so I can only assume it's completely thawed out. I plugged it back in and cleaned the vents. There was an incredibly well-held-together strip of hair and cat fur that I literally peeled from the vent cover. It was pretty gross, and I probably should check it more often.

However, I'm hopeful that there are no problems with the unit, and that a defrosting and cleaning is all it needed. After it was plugged in for an hour the freezer seemed pretty cold to me. I placed a cup of water in it to see if it would freeze over as a test. I'll know this evening, but I sure hope that's all that was wrong with it.

13 Apr 2015 Update It looks like the aggressive defrosting was the ticket—the freezer seems to be working great now.

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Dead Distributor
Afternoon watch, 5 bells (2:47 pm)

My wife's car died yesterday while she was driving it. I got it towed to a mechanic and they found that the distributor was bad. That is the same distributor we had replaced last year around this time.

Since she'd driven less than a thousand miles (in a year!), it was still under warranty. That's great news because we put a lot of money into that car (and mine, too) last year and I wasn't looking forward to a do-over. Still, it's a hassle to go without that second car.

EDIT: Well I guess I blogged too soon. The fuel pump acted up just after she left the mechanic's and we need to replace that now.

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Arm Extensions, Wrist Pains
Forenoon watch, 8 bells (12:29 pm)

I had PT again this morning. After seeing the doctor yesterday and starting my new (passive) arm exercises, I'm already getting my arm nearly fully extended, it's only about 10 degrees short. Unfortunately most of the pain I've had has been in my wrist, and as we were working on that I had a nasty twinge after a rotation of my wrist. At this rate I'll have full extension of my arm well before I can rotate my own wrist.

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The Bad News
Forenoon watch, 2 bells (9:26 am)

Well, despite feeling a little better every day, the surgeon told me this morning that I'll be in this brace for another four weeks. I'm allowed out three times per day now to do some passive exercises with my arm and wrist, and during physical therapy. That will be the status quo for the next two weeks.

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PT Progress
Afternoon watch, 1 bell (12:30 pm)

I had my second physical therapy session this morning. In fact, this week will be pretty busy with visits to various doctors and therapists. Tomorrow I see my surgeon for another followup, and Wednesday is PT again. My left arm can't get to full extension yet—that will be several more weeks—but I have more range of motion today than I did last week. I was hoping the doctor would let me out of the brace tomorrow but realistically I know it's still too early. He'll probably remove the tape that's holding my scar closed, I'm sure it has healed enough by now. I still have to keep ice on it as much as possible.

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Starting Physical Therapy. Again.
Afternoon watch, 2 bells (1:05 pm)

I've been off pain meds for several days now, which is nice to have happen so quickly. It took a very long time with my previous surgery, about two months. Tomorrow morning I have my first physical therapy session for my arm. It's with a different therapist than my achilles tendon therapy was. So now I can owe two therapists money at the same time!

I'm hoping I can get back to playing the mandolin again soon, but I doubt it'll be sooner than a couple of weeks. I have a return appointment with my doctor next Tuesday. Perhaps I'll get permission to start removing this darn brace. It's very hard for me to sleep with a brace and sling on.

Last week when I had my first follow-up with the doctor, he said I came out of anesthesia "like an angry bear." That was his official diagnosis.

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Of Dreams and Pain
Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:27 am)

Last night I slept better than I have since my operation. That means I had dreams. And in those dreams I moved my arms and flexed my muscles. Which translated back into real life. My arm is extremely sore right now. I hope I didn't tear a stitch out or something.

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The Night Before
First watch, 4 bells (10:15 pm)

I have to be up in six hours to go in for surgery to fix a torn distal biceps tendon. Feelings swing from just plain nervous to a little freaked out. But (un?)fortunately I've been through worse, so this should be a cakewalk for me. Still, I'm not looking forward to the pain and slow recovery.

I did finally solve a nasty little problem at work today though, right at the end of the day. That was a nice way to begin a forced vacation.

As usual (at least recently), I'll broadcast this to all the social media sites I have a connection to. Best bet for a response though is right here on my blog thingy. Or send me an email. Or whatever. Say hi, lay a hug on me, you know, whatever works.

The next time I go through this I expect to have the option for bionic parts though. I totally mis-typed 'parts' and wrote pants the first time. Heh, bionic pants.

Bad Things
First watch, 2 bells (9:06 pm)

Remember my torn achilles tendon last year? Just barely a year ago? Well, today I tore the tendon off my left biceps (distal). It will require surgery to repair the damage. *sigh*

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First dog watch, 1 bell (4:59 pm)

I went to my first day of physical therapy today, over ten months after my achilles tendon surgery. I would not have gone at all (much to the chagrin of any physical therapist) since my doctor said it wasn't really necessary. After, walking on it is the best therapy!

Anyway, I am still dealing with swelling issues, which I'm told can continue well after a year post-surgery. Also I get extremely painful charley horses in my calf, just above the surgery scar. These cramps can last for 8-10 minutes sometimes, and they're brutal. They always come after I've overdone what I typically do in a day, most recently about ten days ago while I was in Portland (I got stuck in rush-hour traffic, my car has a manual transmission, then did some walking downtown). I thought these symptoms would be gone by now, but they seem to always be nearby, so I went back to see my doctor and ask about them.

Hence the referral to a physical therapist. He worked the heck out of my calf and foot and gave me some exercises to do until our next appointment (on Friday). I'm sore enough that I hope I don't get another bad cramp tonight…

Follow-up: No cramps, but a ton of soreness and pain around my scar. The therapist told me yesterday that the base of my tendon is about three times the size of the other one due to some scar tissue and swelling, so hopefully the exercises he gave me will help kickstart the healing process.

Slime Warner Cable
First watch, 4 bells (10:12 pm)

I've been fighting a Time Warner Internet connection issue all evening. This was my connection speed and latency. I'm supposed to get about 2Mb up (that seems to be normal), but my download should be 15-20Mb (I pay about $80/month for that. Non-US readers rejoice in your superior connection). I had to break down and call them, then go through all the asinine stuff they talk you through ("unplug the cable feed and touch the center connector to discharge any static electricity" like it's not lightning-grounded at the demarc.). In the end, they wanted to schedule a tech to come out on Thursday to take a look at it. Thursday!

We had an extended power outage this afternoon (about an hour) thanks to someone's tent. Routers, switches, etc don't do well when they don't have power. Or when it's interrupted.

I could almost hear the tech sigh when I told him I work in IT and troubleshot all my equipment. They probably hear that all the time from people that don't know much about networking. Still, I was polite and did everything they asked. I told them out of most of the area customers I would be one of the first to notice an issue like this. They still never believe me. It took them over a year to fix a reverse DNS issue they had in my area, I never could get to the right person to tell them what was going on.

I would have plugged my own spare cable modem in to try it, but their network won't allow traffic until someone programs the new device's MAC address into their system. (Why??)

Anyway, at the end of the phone call, nearly an hour later, the connection starts improving. All of a sudden My latency is down into the 20ms range and down-band is up to about 10Mb.

So I told the tech (who heartily agreed) that there was no point scheduling someone to come out 2 1/2 days from now to look at a connection problem that someone is probably working on right now (although their system showed no issues anywhere in my area!). I would monitor the connection and call back tomorrow if the speed was still slow. I have an open case now, which in theory should speed up the troubleshooting process.

Still, there are much more entertaining ways I could have spent my evening.

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Trip Cut Short?
Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:03 am)

I just heard from Lorien's mom that Chevron is evacuating families due to the smoke problems they've had in the area. They are supposedly getting on a ferry to Singapore when they get up Saturday morning (in a few hours from now), and will then start their spring break early and head to Thailand. When that trip is done—around next Sunday—Lorien may be flying back immediately instead of returning to Sumatra. It sounds like Arwen and the kids may be on the same schedule. I will post more information when I hear it.

UPDATE: Rain has come and it is safe enough for them to return to Sumatra at the end of the week.

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Last Year’s “Vacation”
Last dog watch, 3 bells (7:47 pm)

I spent over $5600 out-of-pocket on medical bills for my torn Achilles tendon last year. So that's where all our vacation money went…