The news is not really good…

…but I expect it could have been worse.

Today, during my doctor’s appointment, I received the results of the MRI I had on 20DEC2013, and I truly wish I could have skipped this one!

Getting off the bus, the Park Tower Apartments across Sheridan Road looked like this…

...and yes, it was raining!

…and yes, it was raining!

My windows finally began to thaw a bit a few days ago, as the temperatures warmed…

Icy Window-1

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…but venturing out in today’s quite heavy rain was not on MY agenda!

The MRI concluded that my back pain and leg cramping are caused by severe spinal stenosis in the third and fourth lumbar vertebrae.

Spinal stenosis is, according to Wikipedia, “…an abnormal narrowing (stenosis) of the spinal canal that may occur in any of the regions of the spine.

My wonderful doctor stated he would not prescribe physical therapy, which he knows from experience does not help with a ‘severe’ diagnosis, and thus referred me to a neurosurgeon, with whom I will make an appointment on Monday.

Lower back surgery is the only option–and I do NOT look forward to that–but I’ll know more after the appointment, when Dr. “L” has evaluated the DVD of the MRI.

Kind of scary, huh?

But…if it relieves me of the intense pain of the cramping, and restores my ability to walk, I’ll certainly end up being ‘one happy camper’!

Any surgery, however, comes with its own set of problems for me, due to the fact I am on ‘lifetime’ Coumadin , the blood thinner.

Many precautions will have to be taken, and I perceive I’ll be relegated to giving myself shots of Lovenox for a number of days both before and after the surgery–which means lots of black, blue, green yellow and purple splotches on my tummy!

I spent almost two hours in the doctor’s office, then ‘glided’ over a number of icy spots to the bus stop, which looked like this:

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In all this mess, I also had to stop at the pharmacy to pick up an Rx to help reduce the inflammation in my lower back.

Walking the long block from the bus stop looked like this…

...water and deep puddles everywhere!

…water and deep puddles everywhere!

My waterproof Totes boots FAILED–but only after having to wade through eight or nine slushy, mucky, three and four-inch deep, huge puddles!

When I arrived home (finally!), I put yesterday’s leftover chicken/chili into a pot, and stripped off soaking wet boots, socks, pants and jacket very quickly!

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One good thing occurred this week!

My newest neighbor was having difficulty with his printer (he is 75 and not terribly tech-savvy), so I offered to take a look at it (our computer guy was closed that day due to the extreme cold, which basically shut down the city of Chicago for two days).

I didn’t fix his printer (turned out is was the USB cord, and not a problem with the printer itself), but I did clean up his desktop quite a bit, and introduced him to hulu.com.

He has since watched all the episodes of “Jeeves and Wooster” (though born here, he returned to his father’s homeland, Britain, when he was still a baby).

When I returned home from shopping on Wednesday afternoon, a bouquet of white carnations was propped against my door!

My neighbor stopped by shortly thereafter, to tell me they were a ‘thank you’ gift from him–as if I wouldn’t have already known that!

Here they are, Photoshopped and treated with the Diffuse Glow filter:

I must say, their perfume is marvelous--a little bit of early Summer in the beginning of an icy January!

I must say, their perfume is marvelous–a little bit of early Summer in the beginning of an icy January!

Arrangements…

…in the key of Winter.

Here are the originals, straight from the camera, as taken last Friday at the entrance of The Breakers on Sheridan Road, where my doctor’s office is located.

The lighting is sodium vapor, which does nothing for the colors–so I knew this would be a fun project!

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After taking a good, long look at them, I began by flipping a few, then processing in Photoshop (TM) and giving them a final touch of the Diffuse filter, using pure white as the Background color.

Hope you like the results!

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What better way could there be to spend a ‘freezy-beezy’ afternoon?

As the last few minutes of Autumn wind down…

…these Hostas have also decided to succumb to Winter, which officially arrives at 11:11 AM (CST), just twenty-five minutes from now!

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Happy Winter Solstice!

(Already, I can’t wait for Spring!)

It hasn’t been the greatest week

Monday’s outing to the pharmacy (again!) chilled me so thoroughly, it took all evening to warm up, resulting in not feeling very well for the following several days…and the leg cramps were really cutting into valuable ‘sleep time’.

Friday’s visit to the doctor (to check how an outbreak of eczema was responding to treatment) revealed that there is no blood clot (YAY!), but some problem in the lumbar vertebra #5…so I will be scheduling an MRI for (hopefully?) some day this week.

The muscle cramps are excruciatingly painful, as that muscle running along the exterior of the legs contracts quickly and feels as hard as stone, and until I have the MRI, I won’t know if there will be therapy, more pain-killing drugs, or even an operation on my spine.

I haven’t exactly had much holiday spirit, or energy, or interest in posting…until this evening.

Today, I awoke early, and looked out the studio window into the darkness…and saw it was snowing!

I took a few shots after it became daylight.

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Just before noon, I went out to return a few DVDs to the library, and found more gorgeous snow!

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As I waited at the bus terminal, it began coming down a bit heavier, and a little bit of Christmas spirit returned.

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It has been snowing most of the day, and is supposed to continue as ‘light’ snow tonight, so perhaps tomorrow, if my back and legs cooperate, I’ll get out and walk over to the lake?

Putting it (back) Together

It seems I’ve been running to and fro, hither and yon, to get this place totally back to ‘better than it was’!

No sooner than I feel I can rest, a prescription runs out, or the laundry piles itself so high, that I have to get out of my ‘paint clothes’, gussy up, and hop a bus or train in one direction or the other.

It’s hard work…and very tiring!

I did manage to get a few images processed, however, after walking over to the small park to deposit my ever-overflowing bag of recyclables (though Chicago has a city ordinance that all buildings of this size must provide recycling containers for the tenants, my building does not).

The Lake…Diffused

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And…I’m off again, to return “Chicago” and “Titanic” (which I hadn’t ever seen!) DVDs to the library, drop my winter coat (haven’t worn it in several years!) at the cleaners, and stop at the hardware store for some spray paint (a little project for a Plexiglas (TM) small shelf I want to put up), and probably, because it’s close, a quick stop at my favorite little Morse Market to pick up a few things like Krinos Greek Yogurt, a jar of pesto for tonight’s pizza and some fruit…which always seems to run out too quickly these days!

I hope to return later, with some images from last month’s tour of the Emil Bach House, but unlike our politicians, I’m not promising anything!

Thankfully…

…the hectic pace has begun to slow–and just in time for the holidays (Haha!)!

Between nighttime leg cramps and a number of ocular migraines, a good night’s sleep has been a tough goal, and even though I woke today at 2:00 AM, I felt rested for a change…perhaps the culprit was the three-hour ‘short’ nap I had yesterday afternoon?

But…the closets are freshly painted and totally reorganized, almost all the photos are framed and ready to hang, the hardwood floors have been washed down with Murphy’s Oil Soap and treated with OrangeGlo and I had a wonderful morning baking Ginger Snaps, then shopped this afternoon, and just finished a very satisfying, healthy dinner (steamed salmon, potato slices baked with onion and a drizzle of olive oil, and fresh broccoli).

I can finally show you more Autumn brilliance!

These were taken last weekend and sadly, due to extremely windy conditioned over the past three or four days, most of these trees are nearly bare and grossly faded–but, they’re still beautiful to me!

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???????????????????????????????This last image is my favorite, which I’ll take to the printer and have it done quite large!

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Though I may not post every single day, be assured that I am continuing to shoot and process–it’s just that everything has taken so much longer to accomplish that I felt exhausted continually.

I checked out the DVD “Chicago” from the library today, and will be watching it (again!) tonight.

Back in 1978, a dear friend took me to see it here in Chicago with the original Broadway cast (Jerry Ohrbach,Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera) at the old Blackstone Theatre, and I fell in love with the storyline and the music.

Hope you all will have as enjoyable evening as I will!