Category Archives: Writing

How Jenna Sue’s Is Like a Visitor Center

I know we have our new visitor center open at the north end of downtown, but there is an unofficial one that has had their doors open for almost a decade.

It doesn’t take more than a visit or two for any regular patron at Jenna Sue’s (where my gallery is lovingly on display) to witness/participate in group conversations with out-of-towners. A nice couple from Long Island sat down at the bar and became the center of attention from staff and patrons as they were offered great food, directions to some county sights-to-see, and within short order were partaking in sharing photos of family and places.

Several other things happened behind the scenes though that when they do happen, my sensitive emotions can be affected. A fellow patron sitting across the room saw my camera and walked over to tell me some beautiful things about my work and what she thinks of my pictures. It was the second time in half an hour that someone either wanted to hold my camera or offered beautiful words about what they saw in my work. Admittedly I got a little wispy. But attention immediately turned to Lori as she offered some chocolate-dipped strawberry samples to the visitors…

As the couple got to hear from other patrons about where to go and what to eat (which once I received my astronaut plate – the lady immediately said we are getting that!) my conversation naturally turned to the fire service, of which this gentleman had been on FDNY during 9/11. As with every single fire personnel or resident of NY that was there on that day, physical health is an issue. I sometimes feel there is not enough stated in the world about the long-term health effects of everyone in the city that week.

But here in Boulder, two tourists were given some short and long term trip ideas nearby before they leave to go back east – and I was reminded how amazing our home is as the enthusiasm being worn by all of us bullet-pointing an endless list of what’s here that is beautiful, was clear.

Couldn’t pass up on showing the latest little addition to the bar; probably one of the best card holders one will see adorning a local counter. And thank you to the amazing ladies that work there for doing all that you do.

My Favorite Superbowl Memory

I often think about the fun and amazing memories my parents made in those heyday times decades ago at the golf course; that story-filled era when Boulder Creek held host to a variety of the Oakland Raider contingency. From the 1960s into the next decade the team and staff would come stay at the fledgling golf links – of which dad had built the original 100 condos and club house. Some of them even had ownership on a couple of the new condos.

Dad’s group of friends in those times became part of a circle that still communicates today; and later into the 1980s the most famous of that group: John Madden, had retired from football and had started his foray into major broadcasting and video gaming. We were having a Superbowl party and John and Virginia were invited along with their core group of local friends. John had announced the Raiders Superbowl the prior year, but he had this one off.

Now, the reason I tell this story is not some semblance of any claim to something, just insofar that it is a memory I hold dearly of how my life was before the house burned down; so many thoughts and feelings that cannot be replaced nor replayed no matter how much I dream.

These two pictures survived the fire – hence the condition of how they appear. But when taking photographs like these as a teenager, I had no idea of so many things about photography and capturing famous people in ordinary moments, I was just trying to do something right for my dad right then.

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Hearing John talk during the big game about what was transpiring will be something I wish I could remember in greater detail; but several moments that day will be etched. One of them was my best friend here winning a bet. Even then I was using a Canon – definitely the days when you better get it right because it might be another two weeks before you see the results.

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Shortly after this picture was taken a fun moment of John breaking that chair in grand fashion occurred. During halftime they played golf into the arena, teeing off from the house as Todd and I chased the hits down to say who was closer to pin – would love to know the amounts being bet between the players. The Niners won that year, but I am pretty sure I listened to everything else going on in that group – lots of golf course history in these pics; Wayne Stigall, Hal Wells, Bob Lyons, the Casilli family, my dad.

I got asked this year as with most years if I have any special memories of the Superbowls…I smile and think and feel I got pretty lucky; Superbowl rings on the hands of arguably the brightest personality and career the sport has shown, sitting in my old living room as we watched the sport he coached in two other Superbowls – amazing.

As the souls started to die through the years, one in particular that loved the sport and will be a another story on another day, comes to mind. Hal Wells passed away three years ago this week, and two years later my dad – but one thing they both had in common was the love of the Raiders and of the couple that are John and Virginia. These two pics are from Hal’s funeral.

On the left are Hal and John holding a familiar trophy at the clubhouse, on the right are four of the people that were sitting in my old living room a few decades before in that first picture. As I look at these, I wonder if I will even know such friends that fifty years later they would show up at my funeral…hard thing to find.

Why the post now? Anniversaries I guess; Superbowl month, people passing, golf season starting for my son, moments in time. I know that is why I became a photographer before I even knew what that meant – moments in time.

A Memorial Ode to a Local Gem – Little Basin

I received a sad correspondence this week from a widower – the wife of a man I had worked for several years ago: Chuck McCarthy. I was lucky enough in that employment to have served with him at a historical and (little known) beautiful gem of a park: Little Basin (recently becoming a state park).

History

Little Basin is a local oasis hidden in the mountains adjacent to one of our state’s most famous parks; Big Basin. After being home to a Native American tribe for many years, the land became a grazing and logging area, followed by ownership via a well-known Silicon Valley company: Hewlett Packard. The company eventually created a private campground and gathering area for their employees and families and as the company peaked in size and success during the 1980s – so did their facility here. A full-time steward lived on the site at a residence constructed large enough to house this person’s family. They helped oversee the acreage, camps, buildings and recreation areas. Each summer, divisions of HP would hold large picnics with upwards of thousands in attendance during the weekend galas. With those events came the need for fire protection during the peak weekends – hence how I became acquainted with Little Basin throughout the late 80s and early 90s.

Modern Outline

After HP’s budgets and size declined significantly, so did the park’s usage. Eventually, it was seen as a financial loss, so the area was gradually deeded to the State of California (there are many more details and involvements but I kept this as a simplified version for time’s sake). The state’s budget was not in a stable enough condition to take this area under their direct care either. So for the first time in modern parks history, a private company was hired to manage and run the park (and along with that to also operate a shuttered park in Sonoma County – Sugarloaf Ridge State Park…that is another beautiful story about a community coming together to save a park. Both Chuck and I had worked there also).

The steward that company hired to oversee the operations of Little Basin was named Chuck McCarthy. He and his family moved into the residence and quickly became known in and around town as the hard-working Jersey guy running that park where most locals had never even visited. He hired several staff members to help with the workload of maintaining the 50 camping sites, cabins, buildings, pump stations, recreational facilities and best of all – the reservoir. The small lake held one of the best kept and guarded fishing secrets in the SLV. The dam had been built generations before for a local water supply to accumulate, with fish eventually populating the waters.

One of the seasonal employees Chuck hired was me. I was intrigued to have the chance to work at such a beautiful place that I had gathered so many fun memories at while with the fire department.

Chuck’s personality was outgoing and forward to say the least. He literally worked his ass off, and even though he was a dedicated company man (United Camps, Conferences and Retreats – UCCR) he loved working at the park just for the sake of bettering the site. He had been working there for only a couple of years, but he cared about keeping that park running and making it a successful hybrid for the State to embrace and support. Even though I volunteered to take a 2-month assignment at Sugarloaf later that summer in 2012, he and I had become decent friends.

After returning to my assignment at Little Basin, Chuck confided in me he was battling cancer. His stories of Jersey and adventures in life were tall, amazing and he had the scars to prove them. I saw this as another task he would take on and defeat in his journey. Even though the seasonal workload was over, I would keep tabs on his progress. When he chose to move back east to be closer to home during his fight, I would inquire with trusted staff at LB to check on his progress – and rumor had it he was fighting it.

January 2016

Almost one year to the day of losing my dad to cancer, I received an email. Chuck was roughly the same age as me, and as we have all heard too many times in all of our lives, Chuck was gone. I wish I could have attended his memorial wherever that was because I had some fun stories only those of us at Little Basin could know. One even involved me catching the main field on fire and Chuck literally sprinting to the rescue (the whole story is so worth retelling someday).

I understand in my old age now how people come and go throughout your life, but this time he will be one of those that sticks with me. He had some grand plans for that park, and I sincerely hope they all happen someday. Sadly, his most important place to relax and forget the world was the reservoir. He and I would have some meaningful talks there looking over the colorful waters. The powers that be well above our heads decided it would be safer to drain the lake quietly – which they did recently. It still seems criminal to me destroying such beauty (and their reasons will – spare the term – never hold water with me..nor Chuck.)

Hence I have included several pictures of what an amazing place it used to be – knowing the memories I have there of many friends and family I shared times with at that lake – and of one other dude who hired me and allowed me to have one of the most amazing summers of my life – thanks Chuck…here is a picture of my family doing the exact thing we all loved to do even though it was “not allowed anymore”.

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A Valley History of One Dude That I Think More Should Know About…

There is this dude I have been acquainted with since 1986, and since this dude has become well-known these last 30 years in the SLV – I figured it was time someone account for some backstory about him (and undeservedly me)…and since history seems to be a thing with me and my writings here and elsewhere – here goes. “Dude” works for this story because that is what we called each other, plus – it was the 80s and Sean Penn’s Spicoli had made the word mainstream long before Jeff Bridges did.

I was this lowly scrawny freshman trying to survive his obligatory semester of weight training at SLV. And in this same class was this tough, outspoken, obligatory lift-this-weight-NOW-or-regret-it strong sophomore that could pass for a senior. For some reason this dude took me on as a personal project to try and help me on my path of looking more like a muscular man instead of the twig that was walking through the weight room door. In retrospect though, I think Coach Hansen – yes the SLV legend – assigned him to fix this glowing example of missing masculinity. Now two things could strike anyone watching from the proverbial spectator seats of this months-long spectacle; 1. I looked like the wind could break me in half and, 2. Being a freshman in the 80s was truly encapsulated in every John Hughes masterpiece, and I was undoubtedly the geek character. SLV still had a smoking and chewing section that was undisputedly the grossest place on Earth – sufficed to say I was not welcome in that cool kid area. But the weight room was where everyone was allowed to be together…figures.

Over the course of those months and finally into the home stretch of wishing June had arrived 3,400 pounds of weights earlier, this older soul found numerous ways to motivate me. He did it without ever forwarding condescension or being mean though, so much so that even with my changing young brain I could see something special in how this person interacted with others, and how easy it appeared for him to lead someone down the right path. I actually looked and felt better about myself, and I can imagine a great deal of you can understand how difficult that was to achieve in high school. You can probably guess which one I am here….

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Fast-forward some years past high school and college; into my now burgeoning career within the fire service for Boulder Creek. I made it a path of mine to attend every possible incident and to become quite comfortable with patient care on medicals. One particular evening a call came out at the golf course of a lady in need of emergency care, and I was the primary patient person that evening. Little did I know this particular lady was also a medical professional that knew more than I ever would about patient care. Also unbeknownst to me was that she was a beloved relative of this dude I have been writing about. Very rarely do emergency care providers in the field get feedback regarding their skills afterwards, but this dude tracked me down some time later and relayed some things that needed to be said about my care of her. To this day and through my 20 years of service, I don’t think anyone has summarized a more professional breakdown of how well and proper my care was of her. It felt like one of those moments in a mob movie when the made guy tells our protagonist that he gets a free pass whenever he needs it – no questions. But in this case, one dude was telling another dude thank you with such sincerity and depth that only those two living it – can actually understand.

Fast forward a few more years and this dude becomes a manager at a local non-profit center, fulfilling a work ethic and leadership style that had manifested long before. Seventeen years later, his tough exterior carried an undoubtedly trying career of proving his worth, both personally and professionally into what would become. As our kids grew up attending Boulder Creek Elementary together we would sometimes sit by those big redwoods and talk of life and such; all while waiting for the next generation to run up to us after the bell and remind us that we are “old”.

This year he then tackled one more hurdle of vying for the big position in the company as to help guide and direct one of the most well-known community organizations into the next decade for the SLV – and he got it! All the while, when I would visit his center to drop off recycling, we would talk as if the years had never passed and that even though we both had families and those years of life between us – he still treated me like a real friend. I even tried to take some quality pics of him playing music various times in the SLV, but he married into a family that has a much better photographer than me – so he is covered there. And even in my suffering of late to such depths, he still shakes my hand and says we can talk about whatever it is and make it better. Even though I will never bother him with my stuff, he has proven to me, from that first day of walking through the weight room door to this most recent moment of walking into his center – the SLV has one hell of a good man running things…just thought you should know.

Matt Harris is that dude, the Valley Women’s Club is who he works for, and for 30 years he has fought the good fight and deserves all of the rewards that will continue his way…thanks Matt.

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Roses of Intimacy

A frequent disbursement of my garden occurs during the flowering seasons – but without boring the masses of my thrills in paying it forward and being responsible for creating smiles upon the feminine divine with my simple actions, let me just say: I hand out roses to provide a genuine moment of intimacy between people that is defined outside the physical/biological realm; Just genuine platonic caring and happiness through a brief shared moment. This sign adorns my garden summing up the situation…

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This particular rose found its way to a lady who I saw as having difficult times personally – so I took it to her place of work and gently gave it to her. She cried quietly and shared that no man had given her a rose in over four years. What is wrong with this world??? Simple acts of genuine sharing could make even one person’s life brighter for a brief time…but add those times up and suddenly you could have a whole life being filled with love.

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Then I got a little crazy and shared several roses from work (on my dinner break) with the beautiful staff at Mint Cafe in Scotts Valley. Michelle and the staff there are such amazing and vibrant ladies (and yes; there is the owner Ed – not beautiful in the feminine sense but he has kept me in check through my years of continued loyalty to his establishment and offers direct yet sage advice when needed). Watching all of the lady staff light up in a restaurant definitely makes the food taste better by the way.

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I refer some to this blog in hopes of convincing them that my motives are genuine – and they are. Please accept these gifts I share in hopes that your day and maybe even week goes just slightly better than planned because a fellow man offered a rose of intimacy merely so the whole world could be brighter for a brief second….thank you for listening.

A night of gratitude, feminine inspiration and reflection..

Understanding these three months of absence may lean one towards a fill-in-the-blanks post, I instead swayed towards the fun of this evening and to share the rawness of me in this turmoil of sadness, self-doubt and personal hatred. I want this as a posting of gratitude for the feminine strength in so many things and for a small listing of phrases I captured.

My loathe never inhibits my wish to still give smiles…and with regards to finally writing again I have actually written two really good pieces on SLV history and social happenings in the SLV since dad died, but I did not push them through to here yet. In the published world though, my editor printed several of my pieces including (to my surprise) an unedited placement on the front newspaper page about the BC Brewery fire (with how I wrote the article I thought sure it would get lambasted by the exclusion process that writer’s lament in journalism)…I hope readers got something from it.

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Tonight was about finding inspiration through souls known and unknown to hopefully help me get out of this funk that has enveloped me since January. The Cremer House once again proved to the Valley and to me how packed and fun a social center can be on a Saturday night, without the dive feel or career inebriates. One of the bartenders, who we will call Hannah Rose for this piece, came right out with this phrase that helped spurn all of my writing after I told her I was looking for ideas: “I like listening, I just can’t hear.” Obviously the context was meant in that moment – but then I thought how perfectly that sums up so many miscommunications in daily life – whether in relationships or friendships or even at work. Before she would tell me her name – her now seeing I was a writing – she said to just call her “the really cute girl”. I loved that she said it in such a way that you knew she was not being egotistical or vain – she was just saying something nice about herself but in a believable way. I thought how amazing that would be if we could all find something nice to say about ourselves to strangers when asked. Yet with how much loathe I have felt about myself lately with the recent loss of things both in family and in heart – I am not sure that I could be as generous to me. But the repeated words of the two feminine healers in my life that I respect so deeply in this realm (Hannah and Charmian), ring in my head again and again about self-worth and how amazing I reportedly am, or could be anyway.

As a wonderful friend wandered into the Cremer for her first time, she found the only empty bar stool was right next to me. Julie writes also and I gained her acquaintance through Charmian; they both being talented fire dancers these five years prior. Be sure to check her great drinking adventures at The Happy Hour Blog . Something I have always loved is telling people about something they are unfamiliar with in the SLV; whether it be fun adventures, great food or in this case – drinking possibilities. I only imbibe upon the Kombuchas when writing here but I found ways to parlay some fun ideas her way, myself having tried the nitro tapped items on the menu months before. Her humor has always made me smile – and after she had tried several brews the next quote happened for me from her: “It all tastes good now.” She made me aware without even trying that possibly, just maybe – after having enough hard lessons about love and loss in life, it all seems good now.

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The topic of age arrived as I shared with her my years of writing bits about the dating and social scene in the SLV, where immediately our next phrase of interest arrived (of which I also hope to read about on her blog): “The double nickel equals a perfect 10”. If I could trademark that phrase for all the ladies turning 55, I bet you I could make a few cents…or sense to a few. Speaking of age in the opposite direction – I watched Taylor Rae perform last week – and she is one of those talents you just know will be on the Billboard charts someday…her voice is like nothing I have heard from our little Valley…and she works at the Cremer House. I pointed her out to Julie and said there is another feminine powerhouse to reckon the world with. This is a pic I took of her while she sang a beautifully sad song at Casa Nostra last week.

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I had already picked a few gorgeous roses from my garden in the hopes of imparting some joy upon a lucky few tonight. Hannah, Julie and her partner-in-blog were recipients of those beauties that bring a smile to many a lady every day. Some ladies who don’t know me have looked suspiciously upon their gift in past pay-it-forward-givings – but I always clear the air immediately as being a non-threat…and in this case it was simple as I let Hannah Rose know I am way too old for that “really cute girl”, and that a rose is just a rose for a Rose. This pic is of Hannah entertaining the crowd…

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Thank you ladies for a fun evening, and especially to Julie for listening to my learning curve stories of choosing my closest friend in this world to be that who was my beloved; Charmian.

I stopped at Masood’s to say hello to that property baron and storyteller, he always manages to get a smile out of me with his dry humor and latest events at Burger 9. I ran into a former fire department intern of mine there, with whom I spent numerous hours teaching skillsets and values a decade previous and he shared with me his feelings about those days. The internship was something I held and still value so deeply for what it gives to the SLV in terms of young men and women becoming amazing and enduring public servants. Most people will never know the depths of how much that one program (these last twenty years) has done for the quality of life here in our little area. Thank you Mr. Hill – your words inspired me to feel good about myself in those days again. My reward to you – a pic you probably didn’t even know existed of your training a decade ago at Redwood Elementary…with all sincerity: you are welcome.

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Finishing the night at Joe’s where I say my usual quick hellos and to usually skip the beer – always yearning for a glimmer of meaningful conversation amongst the masses that may recognize me though. Karin Ann has done an amazing job running and owning that bar with her hubby and I see strength in her I will never have. She has been so amazing to my mom and to me through this time we have known her. I stop usually just to say hi to her and extend my hope for a new and different beer that never arrives– which though lo and behold she surprised me this week and had a new brand – I was ecstatic. The live music plays too loud for me so I typically wait outside until there is a break – which can be challenging as either the smoking groups make me ill or one of the town’s undesirables who also loathes me will be loitering there…like tonight in both cases.

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At the break I bolted in to say hi to Shawna and her friend L’Anja (beautiful name to which I had not heard in my 40+ years until now). Have always appreciated your honesty in our talks Shawna; your post-Hawaii glow was obvious – please return there many times!

I did smile quite a bit tonight, still feeling the long-term lingering affects of the palsy and sadness…but I hope to be writing more and sharing what I learn about this social scene in the SLV, both in the dating realms and elsewhere.

 

Latest Issue – Hopefully will get more of my articles published soon…

The Actual CVS Article I submitted..

This entire post does not represent the SCMB but I felt it necessary to clarify what I had posted about on facebook with regards to what actually got published this week – the phone calls and assorted feedback once the paper published reflected a difference in information I wanted to share…CVS dodged a bullet and no one noticed except my daughter and I – and now it will just get forgotten…my only further action is to never shop there again because they cared nothing for our local environment and could give a shit less about what they were doing…

Typically, SLV dwellers and homeowners can likely attest to the consequences of clogged gutters and storm drains as having an adverse effect on one’s peace of mind – especially during the annual deluge of Santa Cruz Mountains rainfall. This week in one particular case though, the clogged roof drains on top of the Felton CVS caused a water weight accumulation that allegedly led to a collapse of one roof section during the last battery of storms.

Just prior to 3AM during the Wednesday morning storm, the Felton Fire Department was dispatched to a water flow fire alarm at the CVS in their district. Upon arrival, the battalion chief discovered a significant roof failure and large volumes of water surging through the interior of the store closest to the Safeway side of the business. Approximately 400 square feet of roof had fallen into the cosmetics section of the store and had severed the fire suppression piping, which had in turn automatically (by design) notified the 911 center because of the resulting water flow. After having to force access to the facility, the fire personnel verified there were no injuries or other properties affected, eventually then turning access back over to CVS staff that morning.

By mid-afternoon, as the store remained close to the public, several large vehicles belonging to a water removal company had backed into the front entrance area. A volume of this company’s staff had begun removing water from inside the store via vacuums and diversion channels. The run-off from this removal was being directed into the Felton Faire parking lot and into the storm drains. The water had various rainbow colors in it, and a soapy suds layer was apparent in the entire flow from the store and into the drain 75 feet away. Upon finding the ranking CVS representative in front of the store at 3PM, he denied media access and refused to comment on anything pertaining to the incident. When I tried to talk with him after identifying myself as a reporter, he was busy on his phone and was trying to record working hours of the contractors bustling about – refusing to make time for further interaction.

My daughter was with me during this visit, and she saw the hoses pumping the water out of the store and voiced her concern about what was happening and asked what could be done. Over the course of the next two hours, we called the Felton Fire Department, Santa Cruz County Environmental Health (SCCEH), Netcom (911) and the Sheriff’s Office in Felton. Eventually, the Felton Fire personnel responded back to the scene and immediately had the 911 center contact SCCEH to respond as a possible environmental hazard was being presented. The resulting SCCEH inspector arrived at 4:40PM and immediately halted the water removal operation being overseen by CVS, notified them to contain all further water from inside the store and to test the resulting containment for possible chemicals. In talking with the responding inspector and another SCCEH manager that evening, their statements reflected an acknowledgement of not knowing how much byproduct or contaminated runoff from CVS made it into the storm drain as their agency did not arrive until the listed time. Bystanders that were watching the water pumping operation (but did not wish to be identified) stated they had seen the water removal staff pumping for “some time” while the CVS manager “stood and watched”.

The CVS store was reopened to customers on Saturday and as of press time no further statement had been obtained regarding the outcome(s) of the tests ordered by the SCCEH to CVS.

Life With Palsy Week 1 continued…

Day to Day Stuff
Inevitably, one might or will figure all of these things out but sometimes when you read a website doing research something pops out. Let’s get to the big ones: eating, drinking and talking.

EATING and DRINKING

Not having the ability to use one side of your mouth sounds like something you have after a dentist visit – I have had those and this is nothing like that. You can still have plenty of sensations but you can’t do anything with the food or liquid there, it is like eating impotence. Stick with soups and soft foods like bananas and smoothies…no nuts, chips or any foods that puncture the parts of your mouth that you can’t feel or can cause coughing – coughing is a huge detriment with the pressures built up in your skull. Carry straws with you EVERYWHERE. Having forgotten once again and taken a big swig of water from a kombucha bottle at work while a co-worker watched it run all over my face and down my shirt – totally forgettable moment in my life and embarrassing. I have learned it is impossible to keep yourself from pushing food onto the dead side of your mouth with your half-numb tongue…just use your same-side hand to look like you are resting on your chin – and manipulate your cheek with your fingers…people don’t seem to realize what you’re up to and all appears well. Which goes to my next piece of advice – deciding on whether to eat out or not? Choose a place you feel safe where you know the staff. I love Mint in Scotts Valley near to my work and they made me feel ok with eating in front of them. They were totally accepting and helped me with extra napkins, straws and portion assistance.
Get used to not being able to drink directly out of any bottles or cans – once again – CARRY STRAWS. Preferably longer ones that can get to the bottom of any bottle because you will no longer have control of your lips to grab it…you have now become the tooth worker on grabbing things.

TALKING

I can’t whistle anymore so I stopped trying as it gets depressing. Certain letters and words will make your speech sound horrible; F’s and P’s are the worst so I have been avoiding them altogether. The longer I have tried talking the more obvious my affliction becomes and people start to stare and forget that you’re even saying anything – so I have kept the talks short and concise.

SMILING

I have become more of an extrovert the last few years so this part has been very difficult. My smile looks like a smirk and a wink now. I ventured out Friday for the first time (for First Friday) to get pictures and I kept forgetting about my facial issues. I would smile at people but the looks I got back were puzzling. Then it finally dawned on me as one lady showed her displeasure in what appeared to her to be an on-the-street sneer and wink from a strange dude. I felt ruined. I love to smile at ladies and respectfully acknowledge their beauty every day – but now I look like all the other guys that leer and gesture to them…the opposite of who I am. Having a beard (already) has helped immensely – it hides some of your new mouth and nose issues; my nose has changed shape also.

SLEEPING and EYE CARE

Get one of those eye sleepers immediately – no choice. Fortunately Charmian had already gotten me one so I was covered. Make sure you always move towards your eye from the top down at all times – your lid will no longer close for you and you will hit your eyeball…very painful. Same with the eye patches and covers – start with it on your forehead and slide down with your chin jutting out and eyes focused down as your lids will naturally try to close. Get the eye irrigation drops that cause you the least amount of irritation. Carry handkerchiefs for both the eyes and the nose SEPARATLEY! Do not use one on both facial structures (the possibility of infection as you might touch your eyeball – reference earlier hint).

Be sure to protect your eye in the shower! It really hurts (don’t try this at home). Should you choose to work outside or clean the garage (like I did today) there is no choice – fully encapsulated goggles as you can’t protect your eye from the dust. I know this all sounds simple but I am learning as I go at 43 years old and it sucks!

HELPFUL CONVERSATION HINTS

As with most people that feel their advice is best when read from some pseudo-know-it-all-resources that don’t actually know shit or haven’t experienced it themselves – maybe these tips will help instead when talking to your newly afflicted friend or loved one:
– Don’t tell them to “suck it up”, you’ll be fine”.
– Don’t say “you’ll get through it no problem”.
– Don’t say “you are in that 80% don’t worry that 20% is bullshit”.
– Don’t say “How was the dentist”, or “which dentist do you go to”
– Don’t say “I don’t notice it at all” – complete crap – everyone can see it.
– Do say: “I had a friend or loved one go through this, here is what they learned…”
– Do say: “I hear people can get through this either way, here is a resource I know about…”
– Do say: “I know this guy Steve who wrote a blog about it – you should call him”

So at the end of week 1 with palsy, my eating, sleeping, drinking, social and work habits have all had to change overnight. The kids have been super supportive but they have only seen me for one night (hence my stressful battle with the ex to begin with as I do not see them enough). It has been tough on the parents because they are going through enough suffering without having to deal with my crap. My work has totally understood and I greatly appreciate that. And finally my friend and Eastern healer is back in town (Charmian) so hopefully she can work her magic now on this unknown road to whatever recovery I will have.

Will keep you up to date from week 2 later…

My First Week with Palsy

I feel when a potential life-changer hits you; writing should be at the forefront of your time budgeting because with whatever direction the rest of your path follows, the important details can inevitably get lost in the shuffle. I hope this helps people who get afflicted with this issue in some fashion – as it feels like I have lived someone else’s life in the last seven days – and I am an entirely different person because of it. My first post will be about the onset – but the next post will be about some helpful hints on how to adjust to your new life and to help those around you with interaction and conversation tips.

The Beginning

Halloween weekend appeared to transpire normally; I got to see some of my yoga friends and spend some time with my best friend and healer. By Saturday when I dropped her off at the airport for a family trip I was feeling some discomfort in my temple and ear region. I fought off the pain and went to work the next couple of nights. By Monday night, no over the counter meds were appeasing the pain: now a throbbing icepick pain behind my ear that didn’t get worse on palpation. By Tuesday morning, the left side of my face looked and felt like a stroke patient. I got an emergency appointment with Shannon at the Ben Lomond clinic (who I cannot say enough good things about – she has been my primary Western Med caregiver for years now and she is truly amazing).

By that time, my left eye couldn’t close, the left side of my mouth was drooping, and I couldn’t smile. The pain was debilitating throughout my left hemisphere and my ear was on fire. The exact left side of my head felt sunburnt to the touch (but wasn’t). I didn’t feel sick or dizzy, but my blood pressure was the highest it has ever been. She thought it to be the early onset of palsy. She gave me several meds for viral and pain along with a shot in the butt that really did have the effect she said – the pain should be gone in 1-2-3…and now. I want that stuff every day! She said in 48 hours if things get worse to go to the ER.

48 Hours Later

By this time sleep was a non-existent luxury, and day-to-day activities were thrown to the wind in normalcy. I drove thru the pain and got to the Dominican ER. When I walked in the door they admitted me on sight as by then my face and speech were unrecognizable. My overall experience with them was beyond my expectations. They had a CT scan scheduled right away and I was sitting back on my ER bed within the hour. The PA and staff were all very friendly and I am grateful for their professional help. His diagnosis: Bell’s palsy. The rarity in my case was the high levels of pinpoint and radiating pain. They gave me three more meds and said wait out another 48-72 hours and if the pain did not subside then come back because something serious could be wrong. I felt like something was already seriously wrong.

So far, all of the medical staff I had spoken with felt that the most likely trigger (since EVERYTHING else was eliminated that normally can cause this) was high levels of stress. The whole end-of-life thing happening daily with dad and being in court to fight my ex for more time with the kids – I guess I had let too much build up – without even feeling it that deeply. I had been feeling better emotionally for months now, doing yoga and meditation, eating well and getting to spend a little bit of time with those that mean to the world to me (I figure you all know who those three souls are).

The possible outcomes: the magical 80/20 split that every doctor and website recites as their magic recovery/lifelong disability ratio. As I sat outside the ER for a minute or two soaking all of this in, I began to imagine what life might be like for the rest of my years like this – an unimaginable change both emotionally and physically without even having a warning or forethought about it the week before.

Next…Life With Palsy so Far and Maybe a Help for Others on Both Sides