Patio Paving – Swimming Pool Part 2


(All pictures enlarge, some to huge sizes, by left clicking)

We had always been around during the construction of the pool,  The pool-makers would call and ask for back filling, once things became settled in the ground itself.  We paid a lot of attention to the future and the last foot or so of back-filling was devoted to putting in gravel and base material.  With the budget we had, this place will outlast the house by a century or so.  It could well be one of the most compacted surfaces I ever installed. I am positive it is in the 99 percentile of compaction.

So we began installing pavers around the pool.  We attended to drainage issues and found it necessary to install the drain shown protruding in the picture above.  The pavers we used were Belgarde’s “Bergerac” Pavers, an expensive but gorgeously-antiqued model, set in a random pattern.  They were also an additional inch thick!  These big beauties came in at 3 1/4″ thick, providing a huge challenge for not only our cutting apparatii (gas-powered table saw with a diamond blade) but also requiring substantial grinding for the wild number of curves.  Talk about labor intensive!

Obviously, we had other issues, such as a fire pit shown in the bottom picture.  The necessity to hand-shape curving pavers was especially intense when around boulders, as can be seen above.  The irregularities don’t seem so drastic when the boulders first get placed.  But, wow, they get intense when the finishing starts.

I am thinking the project lasted almost 2 months.  There was a lot going on in general – a water feature which was designed to appear to be supply the pool water from the front yard and a 130 foot creek, originating at a waterfall out front.  We tried to make the area behind the falls by the spa appear to be a bridge just to enhance this idea. 

At any rate, it was intense but as we neared completion and began planting, we started to see things coming together nicely.

Nurses And Angels

There is a direct correlation, except nurses are still alive, thank God, and doing what they obviously love to do. I read, about a week ago, how Job Satisfaction ratings have always been led by the nursing profession. It is not close, in fact. My Mom wanted to be a nurse when she was a kid in the 20′s. It is not a new development.

An let me take this moment to praise the male nurses who also were so instrumental in helping me. But all of the nurses’ smiles, repartee, and a constant concern for my health constitutes the making of a gratitude which I am nearly incapable of expressing. Typically, of course, I will try. You guys know me now, lol.


In the ICU, all the blinking lights, the seeming darkness alternated by the light baths when the nurses or doctors went to work, I was in a dazed state and am finding memories harder to locate after the passing of time. It really is one of the reasons I post now. Tisha will read, lol, and a few others I spread word about my blog to. Typical of me, I spent inordinate time, even in distress, trying to get a few laughs, even in my condition. Well, that worked. I even got a Christmas Card from a nurse from ICU and another from a nurse at the next stage.But you know why?

I was such an absolute rookie at all this, it has always shown, sometimes to their amusement. But I have done “this” at every station so far – I expressed immense gratitude. For most nurses, while nice, something like that is unexpected, totally welcome, yet unnecessary. It is not what they work for at all. They help with a underlying passion which determines their demeanor – which is smiles and support at every single juncture, bar none.

My very fondest memory is of this large African American lady who asked if I wanted a shave. Oh Jeez – did I ever. So she went to get some hot water and towels and went to work. Initially, the super hot water was applied to my face and it felt spectacular. Then she got more hot water and mixed it with shaving cream. When she went to work, she leaned in and our faces were inches apart. She smelled divine. She began humming. Hearing her beautiful tones while working on giving me the best shave of my life has no parallel in my experience. It was a hugely spiritual moment the truth is. She smiled when I smiled – she wanted to treat me like a King and it worked. I never got her name, but wish I had. I would give a shout out to the people who read here – and that can’t be bad.


Which leaves about 50 nurses – maybe 100 – who have played instrumental roles in my surgery and the following rehab. Their patience and adoring care stunned me with it’s magnanimity. It was a revelation. I ran into No – Zero – bad nurses.

I retain two wonderful “nurses” now and have been “dropped from the rolls” by another favorite, Katy, who thinks I have reached the limits of what she is supposed to do. She believes I got 12 weeks of physical improvement done in 6 weeks. The inspiring talks, the “goading” of me to overcome my fear of walking, make both Katy and Ashley – my remaining Physical Devil – have earned a debt I can never repay. Ashleykeeps me for another couple weeks, it seems, to which I say – Booyah!!!

Which leaves Tisha, my wound nurse. She is with me until the wound is completely well. She orders supplies, always checks my wound and can be relied on – since the wound is healing well – to say something incredibly funny on the face of it. My favorite was this: “Wow, look at that beautiful wound!!!”  ;-) Tisha, thank you – and all the rest of you.

I could go on, but I hope I put out my real and deep sense of gratitude and even surprise at such warm people existing in huge numbers during this nasty period of our history. There is no limit from here, for my gratitude and abiding love. It’s way outside the envelope.

Nurses are the best people in the Universe. This is for you……………


What A Rough Day Looks Like

I have recently waxed ecstatic about my apparent – actually obvious – muscular and appetite improvements. This lit a fire under me and I began this project of rehab description as well as finishing a 15 page treatment to send to an interested publisher about my book.. But, like everything else in this world, it just takes a few small, diabolic events to cause a lethargy stemming from a sense of hopelessness and, as always, pain and discomfort. The road is so long.

So I now undertake the effort to depress as many people as possible by describing one day of a rehabbing man which went South and where he finds zero solace in much of anything, outside of my fingers on a keyboard. I owe my readers this, however, for the pure sake of honesty because there were numerous and dreadful days leading up to my latest improvements.

Last night I probably overworked. I finished an asked-for 15 page “treatment” of my up-coming book on Jack Hicks, to please a publisher who asked me for it. I am delighted I finished it because I can now submit to others if this one gets weird. It also allowed me to seriously edit the work.

So I was done around 1:30. I had taken pharmaceutical help for sleep about a half hour from finishing and my eyes did indeed begin drooping. So, reasonably satisfied at my work product and then beginning a plan to write about the nurses I have encountered – a revelation – I hit the bed. The nightly routine is to change a wound dressing to contain my constant leaking for the night, if possible. I often wake up drenched at the waist when I sleep for longer than 4 hours.

Well, this was a rough one. At 3 AM, I woke up to the smell of poo. My ostomy bag had sprung a leak. Inasmuch as the wound dressing was affected, it meant changing everything, which is doable. One of my current problems has been the ‘continental drift’ of each orifice – the wound and my “stoma” – closer to each other as I healed. It now results in a new problem of moisture preventing the adhering of any tape or adhesion for either element. I try and remedy it by doing the same thing over and over. The frustration level of my constantly-dripping open wound got under my skin and I nearly cried. All I do  now is add towels to my waist to sop up as it becomes necessary. It is sloppy but effective. I even walk around the house with this protrusion at the waist band and tummy consisting of whatever I am using to protect my pants and clothes from getting uncomfortably wet and cold. I lose this battle now frequently.

I woke again at 6:30 to a fairly dry scenario, but I was not sleepy. That’s cool – I often relish the wee hours for th solitude and quiet it offers for doing tasks online. But when I sat in this here cockpit, I found myself wracked with such stomach pain that I nearly passed out. Every position I tried kept or increased the sharp pain. Finally, I went back to bed and found a position, thank God, which lessened the pain. I immediately fell asleep and woke up at 8:30. The pain had gone but it all left me exhausted already for the day.

Which was a problem because today was the day to get a CT Scan…..scheduled arrival at 8:30. Oops.

Fortunately, I called and pleaded to be seen, especially important since I see my Doctor in charge of all this on Monday. All was forgiven and my appointment was rescheduled to 11. It also meant I had to wait and hour and a half once I got there so that I could drink 30 oz. of this lemonade “contrast” and etc. The waiting room was interesting with 3 cancer survivors talking and – frankly – crying together.

Anyway, that all got done and Tom drove back down to get me. Such a sunny day  inspired me a little. But when I got home, I still had 2 nurses to visit – one just to discharge me and the other my delightful “Wound Specialist” to assess my stomach in general. Her name is Tisha and she has been a major emotional boon as well as great good company. Plus, she knows her business – no small thing. She is the person who can remove my bandages to look at the wound and often take pictures, but who also has been known to raise her voice in excitement, saying, “Oh wow, look at that beautiful wound!!” Needless to say, she likes its progress and, if she does, then me too.

After she left at about 4 I considered my condition. I felt extremely weak, for some reason or other, plus I was experiencing thoughts of failure. I went and lay in my bed for just a few moments – I thought – and woke up 3 hours later – a new one.

I felt slightly refreshed and a bit more able to get up and around. I promptly went in and lay on Mom’s bed – my usual position – and we talked for a while. Feeling weak again, I traipsed back into here and positioned myself in the cockpit, It hurt, lol. I have found it near impossible to get physically comfortable tonight. Nothing works and I am set to wonder if it is not largely attitudinal.

I felt so miserable all day, but able to walk and talk, still. I functioned but at 30% well. I had to take a wheelchair in the CT Scan joint because of my weakness. Nor was that “attitudinal: – we misplaced registration at the hospital and I had to walk a real distance to find it. I arrived at the desk, breathless. I scored.

This is “one of those days”. There have been a few and I add this because people going through anything similar can relate. The question is will it last, these feelings of crap, or will I wake up fresher tomorrow and back on schedule. This is “the way”.

Rehab Journal or Steve buys the monkey

some scattered impressions………..

Sitting here in the cockpit of my rehab 707, The Mother Ship of the Outlier Plane, my butt enjoying a bone relief moment on my three pillows and the donut, halftime of the UofL game after watching the first half with Mom in her room – (she treasures that) – and having spent a surprisingly comfortable half either on her bed or pedaling her floor model stationary bike, I reflect I had just now  reached another of those incredibly precious moments which pass into the motivational heart of the process. Thing is, the proof is always in the pudding and the pudding gets delivered at intervals which can seem to be disappointingly long. This particular event happened today.


My Occupational Therapy nurse, Katy who combines with yet another beautiful but diabolical female nurse – Ashley – have been pretty wild with praise the last 2 days. Man, I am here to tell you, that stuff is spiritual manna. Katy mentioned today – she’s dropping me Friday, lol – that she projected how long it would take to get me to this point. She then said that I had done it in exactly half the time. I did in 6 weeks what she expected after 12. She began talking from her daily record of visits from the first evaluation. “You couldn’t do an exercise without having to stop and sit back down, lol. I had to make you exercise while you were lying down. 4 weeks after that, you were climbing the stairs, you moved upstairs into your own bedroom, you walk down your steps to your car and drive to the store, lol……. You are doing well.”


Back to the hospital……. Two weeks after the operation – while still in the hospital – a plan emerged to make me “get physical”. We would unhook a few machines and I would tentatively get to my feet with some help. Standing there, unsteadily, my nervous brain was screaming for me to lie down – I sure remember that. So we gathered up a walker, strapped my wound vac to the walker and proceeded walking, her hand carefully under my elbow or else at times around my waist. I found myself enjoying the sensation of being upright and yet, I had no breath after certain hard-slogging intervals and would aspire for one of the seats in the hall, where I unceremoniously dropped in purest relief. Getting up after a stretch of time, we would complete the small circles and whip back into my room. My weak legs stayed weak. My collapse onto the bed was a near peak experience, I was so weak. In the hospital, I was probably fortunate in not understanding just how wrecked I was. I assume the mind doesn’t allow that owing to the depressing distance I was from normality. I was also such a raw, inexperienced first timer at the good old total disability business,  it led to an occasional intuitive glimmer: I could occasionally appreciate the novelty of the situation. Rather than attribute this to anything spectacular, the truth is it was the first sensing of my overall situation. It was somewhere here when I began the process of seeing myself as not a patient. Thoughts like this flitted through my mind and I realized for the first time: “You just can’t push the river.” I had to comply with my body 100% which entailed laying down and going with it, somehow, basically no matter how long it took.

I was also taking drugs every 4 hours – one of the Oxy’s -because of pain levels, so I have to think it made me “butt out” of worrying too much and taking in my levels of existence. I still appreciate the pain control and the forbearance of the lovely nurses, who deserve their own chapter.




I think what I found out was that most of my healing was taking place as I lay there. The problem for the next few long weeks was – good grief – that’s a lot of laying. Another milestone “glimmer” at that time was the realization that I was so messed up and would be for so long, I could literally re-invent myself. (Note, I am slowly sculpting myself – even still stuck on 150 pounds for a long time while eating more. My strength is literally bounding along, at least according to my therapists.) This thought became a sort of mantra I hate disseminating generally like this, because of its precious possibility. My goal? It’s huge. I want to be a svelte 165-170 pounder with remarkable arm and upper body strength.It will take place planned to discuss aims and intervals – but later. I had a mantra…..a reason to do my best.

Truly, considering how out of shape I had got before the operation, so disdainful of exercise and a miserable failure at trying to get back to softball, smoking a solid pack a day and developing an amazing expanding stomach that was for real, just as ugly as you wanna be, stuck here in a useful but overused cockpit of the personal and Internet – the desk and comfortable chair being one of the original reasons for my failures as a physical person. I had gotten lazy, the truth is and was existing in a very vague area. Practically speaking, Facebook and the Louisville Scout Sports message boards, some letters and calls I developed the urge to make an essential stab at staying lucid socially because I at least got t interact daily with the most pleasant compilations of friends, family and even a few enemies.