Hadn’t seen a lot of theseOriginally published by DK on June 2, 2019 at 8:50 pm
Spokane visit or Stranger Things audition?Originally published by DK on June 2, 2019 at 10:09 am
https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/twincities/obituary.aspx?n=gregory-alan-smith&pid=192923075Originally published by DK on May 28, 2019 at 2:09 pm
Still haven’t figured out this whole grieving thingOriginally published by DK on May 26, 2019 at 11:43 am
Beatles Cirque – probably last saw this a dozen years agoOriginally published by DK on May 24, 2019 at 1:31 am
In the “new” location @ BellagioOriginally published by DK on May 23, 2019 at 9:25 pm
Caesar’s Palace and the PalmsOriginally published by DK on May 22, 2019 at 11:09 pm
That would be an easy conversionOriginally published by DK on May 22, 2019 at 12:55 am
It’s so cold hereOriginally published by DK on May 21, 2019 at 12:23 pm
Trying WN again with SKOriginally published by DK on May 21, 2019 at 8:47 am
Twins season ticket holder trip was successfulOriginally published by DK on May 19, 2019 at 6:48 pm
Field study to the BWCA for MKOriginally published by DK on May 19, 2019 at 1:50 pm
Presentation completed with flying colors – on to graduation!Originally published by DK on May 14, 2019 at 8:44 am
Mom at DisneylandOriginally published by DK on May 12, 2019 at 1:53 pm
Lunes has been a bad boi latelyOriginally published by DK on May 11, 2019 at 8:32 pm
MK @ Saint Paul College intro programOriginally published by DK on May 7, 2019 at 5:56 pm
…but not workingOriginally published by DK on May 5, 2019 at 7:36 pm
Quick trip over to Keg and CaseOriginally published by DK on May 1, 2019 at 7:33 am
Luna was none too happy about that visit, eitherOriginally published by DK on April 24, 2019 at 3:10 pm
Growing up, there were two things we never talked about: politics and religion. I’ll leave the latter for another day, but the former is something that I’ve really come to dislike as I’ve grown older. I mean, politics are everywhere, of course, whether it be at work, in the news or at a family gathering. But as far as traditional Republicans versus Democrats, right versus left and conservative versus liberal, I’ve had just about all I can take. I’ve never been a fan of political parties – why can’t all elections be like those for mayor, school board or judge? I don’t need to see an “R” or “D” behind your name – tell me your qualifications, what your positions are and how you came to those conclusions. Party platforms are an intellectual cop-out, in my opinion.
We all form our key values as we mature and I find it interesting how these can change over time (and how they are shaped by our individual experiences and environments). I’ve always held the Golden Rule in high esteem and try to follow the “Thumper Rule” online (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”). Some of my other favorites?
- Love and kindness
- Knowledge, expertise and dedication
- Fairness and equality
- Civility and respect
Closely related to these values are other things important to me: family and friends, culture, education, science, history, nature, fitness, sportsmanship, fine food, live music, good writing, silence. I used to think that I hated rules (especially those seemingly arbitrary ones created by “the man”), but really I just hate dumb rules (i.e. – this).Originally published by DK on April 24, 2019 at 1:00 am
Not our favorite place in Europe, but still tragic news from a historic cityOriginally published by DK on April 15, 2019 at 7:16 pm
Calm amongst the chaosOriginally published by DK on April 2, 2019 at 2:12 pm
Really needed that burger todayOriginally published by DK on March 31, 2019 at 12:31 pm
Squeezing in a few more…Originally published by DK on March 28, 2019 at 6:23 pm
Timberwolves vs. Golden State @ Target CenterOriginally published by DK on March 19, 2019 at 7:10 pm
Parking really is freeOriginally published by DK on March 14, 2019 at 10:07 am
Nine ball is still my faveOriginally published by DK on March 9, 2019 at 3:22 pm
We lived there a long, long time agoOriginally published by DK on March 3, 2019 at 10:09 pm
Zantigo Woodbury (with MK)Originally published by DK on March 2, 2019 at 5:14 pm
That would’ve been a true Grand Casino Story, no?Originally published by DK on February 28, 2019 at 10:51 pm
…and Sir EltonOriginally published by DK on February 21, 2019 at 6:52 pm
Now that Monster Jam is over, it’s full on Final FourOriginally published by DK on February 17, 2019 at 6:40 pm
SK on her way to NYCOriginally published by DK on February 16, 2019 at 2:00 pm
- My mom (and her dad and brother)
- 20/20 vision
- Prince, Petty and Bowie
- Running (and My People)
- Marathon-level fitness
- Mountain skiing
- Warm weather
- Disneyland (and World)
- Happy Hour (with no happy)
Keeping a positive outlook and all, but this is still truth…Originally published by DK on February 16, 2019 at 10:19 am
He was an original Kilimanjaro Safari guide at DAKOriginally published by DK on February 1, 2019 at 11:20 am
I’ve never seen such a small clown servingOriginally published by DK on February 1, 2019 at 9:59 am
MK at her first ticket draftOriginally published by DK on January 30, 2019 at 10:42 pm
Thanks, Jim and Darla!Originally published by DK on January 27, 2019 at 2:36 pm
Last year, we had a big blowout birthday party in the Sinatra Lounge (the invite we did still makes me smile). This year, I was planning to go on a ski trip in Banff to celebrate landmark birthdays for MK and I. Then I had my little medical incident and we postponed the big stuff and scaled back 2019 birthday plans. I still wanted to do something a little out of the norm, so we booked a dinner reservation at the new Minneapolis hot spot, P.S. Steak.
I will forever call Chef Mike DeCamp “YoungChef2,” as that is his Twitter handle. Young Chef is a busy guy for Jester Concepts, listed as Executive Chef at Monello and Constantine and Borough and Parlour. He is also behind the weekly Sunday old-school Italian pop-up at Monello, Mama DeCampo’s (which is great, BTW). Somehow Mercado slipped by him, but P.S. Steak is the latest DeCamp project for the group.
We never made it to La Belle Vie before it closed in the 510 Groveland location, but there is so much history there (Dara called it “heavier with history than any restaurant in the state” in her first bite review). Not only was Chef DeCamp in that kitchen, but so was Tim McKee, Matt Anderson and a host of Twin Cities cocktail pioneers (make sure and read this Strib article to find out the backstory on the “Obi Pip Kenobi”). Man, I miss seeing and talking with Pip at Marvel Bar…
Joy Summers has some great pictures of the remodeled 510 spaces in her Eater story, including one of our exact table in the steakhouse dining room side (to the left as you enter – the lounge is to the right). There is complimentary valet parking and I don’t think I really knew how easy it is to get there from Lowertown via I-94 and Dell Place (and back again). In Dara’s story, she described the newly renovated dining room as “Ravenclaw-meets-Eyes-Wide-Shut-for-a-drink” and personally, I couldn’t stop humming the Haunted Mansion music (which actually made the whole night extra fun for me).
So how was it? You never know what service will be like at a place that just opened, but everything went swimmingly. Our server was wonderful, all of our questions were answered, the flow of food out of the kitchen was consistent and everything tasted great. The room is not overly loud and really looks spectacular (was that Norm Green at the table next to us?). Dara asks, “Is P.S. Steak suddenly among the most expensive restaurants in town?” Yup, for sure. It’s also an instant classic that will be busy with special event and corporate expense account business that will give Manny’s a run for their money.
SK and I are the steak people in the family, so one of us tried the 8oz beef tenderloin and the other had the Denver steak. Both were wonderful – I added Stilton blue cheese to mine, while SK had a side of curry béarnaise. We all shared some Aligot (mashed potatoes with cheese), roasted baby carrots and Parker House rolls. Colleen went with one of our Chef Ramsey faves, sautéed sea scallops, while MK had the sautéed chicken breast with smoked chicken thigh, mushrooms and kale. I also shared the P.S. chopped salad with Colleen, while SK had a bowl of the caramelized onion soup (which came with tasty rye gnocchi and cave aged Gruyere).
We saw Young Chef do the cool baked Alaska thing at the table next to us, but we passed on that one. They did bring out a birthday candle in my really good hot fudge and salted peanut sundae, though. The girls shared the Andoa chocolate brownie and added a scoop of the excellent vanilla ice cream (which we think is from Izzy’s). It was a great way to end my birthday and I would definitely go back again. Sorry for the highly filtered photos – it’s not an easy room to take pictures in at night. Oh, and a shout-out to my colleague Keri, who started a new food blog called Keri Tyler Moore that made me realize I need to write about food more often (and not just post pictures to Instagram).
Parent of the Year material right thereOriginally published by DK on January 18, 2019 at 9:44 pm
Thanks for sticker #1, SKOriginally published by DK on January 9, 2019 at 12:15 pm
The fries still rock (walleye too)Originally published by DK on January 5, 2019 at 6:04 pm
Thank you, MK, for the presentOriginally published by DK on January 5, 2019 at 3:51 pm
You were short, but wonderfulOriginally published by DK on January 5, 2019 at 3:30 pm
We are the music makers…Originally published by DK on January 4, 2019 at 12:15 am
Nicely done, MK – proud of you!Originally published by DK on January 3, 2019 at 1:10 pm
I’ve never been big on year-end lists or goal summaries here, but I’ve always done a fair amount of goal-setting privately. This past year has put a different spin on my perspective, so I thought it might be useful to share a few things as 2019 gets started. In hindsight, a lot of my previous health goals seem rather vain compared to plain old recovery. And how fortunate was I in the past to just want to run faster, bike farther or finish another marathon? Now, regaining my normal vision (without prism lenses) is goal #1, followed closely by getting cleared to resume driving and riding a bike. I’m very thankful that the outlook for all of these things is good – much of this might happen by the middle of March.
Since Dr. Tummala gave me the OK to resume treadmill running, I’ve felt good the past week, with three slowish runs totaling 7.1 miles. I also did one nine mile ride on a stationary bike and resumed doing light dumbbell repeats. Not really sure what workout goals to set for 2019 – the only race I’m registered for is the Get in Gear 10K in April and I’d really like to participate in the Bike to Work challenge again in May. Beyond that, I just want to stay consistent all year and not have any big gaps in my charts (which happened twice in 2018). It would be nice to return to regular weekly runs with WeRunMpls once the ice melts and I’d love to reschedule a ski trip for next season (Banff, Colorado or Schweitzer). Lots of golf outings to schedule with people too.
The doctors cleared a return to air travel already, but money and time will be limited. The original plan was to give each person in our family a trip for their respective milestone birthday in 2019, but all of those plans are on hold for the time being. Most likely options? A quick Las Vegas trip after the Final Four and maybe a work trip to the annual Cisco conference, which is in San Diego this year (June 9-13). And of course Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens in both Florida and California this year, but that will likely fall in the Tokyo/Lanai/Switzerland dream trip category for the time being.
With the Vikings season over, my job shifts focus to the Final Four on April 6th and 8th. We have four large events before then (two trade shows and two dirt shows), but there is a lot to do before “the road ends” in Minneapolis. Then we get to break down that setup for Garth Brooks and his sold-out stadium tour before prepping for Summer X Games (version 3.0). Since X Games moves to early August, there won’t be a lot of time between that and football pre-season. With all that work to do, maybe I should start daydreaming again about building a tiny cabin on the North Shore to escape to with the family…
Wow, how lucky am I to be writing this post? Happy New Year to all of you – may 2019 be full of love, health and prosperity!Originally published by DK on January 1, 2019 at 6:04 pm
It’s been at every house I’ve lived inOriginally published by DK on December 27, 2018 at 7:18 am
Decembers have not been kind to the Smith side of the family. Eleven years ago, I lost my grandmother Helen Smith on the day after Christmas. In 2013, my grandfather Donald Smith passed away on December 30th. Last year, my mom died on December 22nd. This year, we learned that my mom’s brother Greg passed away early Christmas morning in Spokane, Washington.
Uncle Greg was kind, generous, funny and progressive. He grew up in Minnesota and went to law school here before heading west. He briefly led my dream life as a ski bum, running chair lifts at Schweitzer and living in the slope-side Tamarack condo that I would visit every spring break from age nine through college. Later, I would bring both daughters to visit several times (one time via Amtrak’s Empire Builder and one time in the Mini Cooper). He was hired by the city of Spokane as an attorney and eventually became a hearing examiner before retiring. I vaguely remember his old house in the valley and vividly remember the blue house up the hill from downtown on 8th. He had a fondness for old station wagons (VW and Volvo) and I’m not sure if he ever bought a new car from a dealer.
Greg was very active and definitely helped shape my love of skiing and running. The spring break trips were great, as my mom worked for the airlines and I could fly to Spokane for free (I also loved that the Spokane airport code was GEG). Schweitzer didn’t always have the best snow cover in the spring, but there was always plenty of sunshine and I usually returned to school red as a lobster. As I recently posted, frequent stops at The Station House restaurant were a given and I’m pretty sure I wore out the Lee Oskar cassette tape Before the Rain.
Greg’s birthday was two days after Christmas (he would’ve been 72 tomorrow), which was just close enough to usually get the shaft as far as dual celebrations go. He was always so generous with my brother and sister, though, opening Spokane bank accounts that he always deposited money in every Christmas and birthday. When each of us turned 18, he would present a large check that we could use for college, new skis or whatever we wanted. Later, he did the same thing for my girls (he was also MK’s godfather).
I didn’t make it out to Spokane much outside of winter, but do remember running the Bloomsday 12K race with him in 1996 (he ran almost every year with a big group of friends). Speaking of friends, Greg had a million of them. It was impossible to walk around the lodge at Schweitzer without a ton of people stopping to say hi. Greg never married, but had several girlfriends I met over the years and his long friendship with the Barbieri family was special. I also seem to remember playing golf at Indian Canyon one year and having dinner downtown at Clinkerdagger, Bickerstaff and Petts (which apparently goes by just Clinkerdagger these days).
Thanks, Greg – you will be dearly missed…❤️
Passed away early on Christmas Day, 2018 after a stroke. He was preceded in death by his parents, Donald and Helen Smith and older sister Karen Kingsbury. Survived by bother Jeff (Joyce Riestenberg-Smith) and sisters Stacey Kohner (Richard) and Linda Arcand (David) and brother-in-law Michael Kingsbury. Nieces and nephews: David Kingsbury (Colleen), Brian Kingsbury (Patty), Lynn Kingsbury, Thomas Smith (Jean), Peter Smith, Laura (Aaron) Moser; great grandnieces and nephews Sasha, Marisa, Arianna, Galen, Wyatt and Ethan. Greg was born and grew up in St. Paul, went to Central High School (’64) and then to the University of Minnesota. He loved sports and the outdoors and spent 7 summers on the staff at YMCA Camp St. Croix. At the U, Greg was very active in The Kappa Sigma Fraternity, playing IM sports, acting in Campus Carnival shows, and singing in a University Chorus. He went on to the U’s Law School, graduating in 1972. After spending 2 years, working for a judge in Winona, Greg and a group of friends headed west, looking for new professional and recreational challenges. The group found Sandpoint Idaho and Spokane Washington, and after passing the bar in both states, Greg went to work for the city of Spokane. He was an Administrative Law Judge when he retired in 2013. Greg said he never regretted moving west. Spokane seemed a perfect size to him, and he enjoyed the cultural and sporting opportunities available. He loved the Blooms Day runs in the spring and Skiing at Schweitzer in the winter and in between there were rivers, lakes and trails to explore by foot, canoe or bike. Greg was a very social person. When he was younger, he volunteered regularly with Big Brothers. He met people easily and developed a large base of friends for book clubs, traveling or just general good times. He was also very active in supporting social causes. Those supported ranges from Doctors Without Borders to the Humane Society. Greg’s last years were hard. He battled depression and health issues and in the end he couldn’t defeat them. As a memorial to Greg please make a donation to a cause you feel needs support. He’d be proud of you. A private family memorial has been held.
Published in Pioneer Press on May 19, 2019
Kids these days don’t let their elders win nothingOriginally published by DK on December 26, 2018 at 8:57 am
That dog is so damn cuteOriginally published by DK on December 24, 2018 at 10:04 pm
The holidays are still toughOriginally published by DK on December 23, 2018 at 7:20 pm
Quick update from the medical professionals this week on my recovery. I had two appointments this week, one with my occupational therapist and a rare one-on-one visit with my neurovascular surgeon, Dr. Tummala. He has been named a “Top Doctor” with Mpls.St.Paul Magazine three years in a row and only visits HCMC one half day a month, so this was a special treat to get to talk with him in person.
Good news to report on all fronts: the therapist has reduced my appointments from once a week to once every other week, Dr. Tummala was pleased with my progress and approved me to start running on the treadmill, OK’d air travel and said my eyes look like they will be strong enough in another three months to not need glasses at all. We went over the results of the recent MRI and looked at a lot of scans that showed the aneurysm and the stents. I learned more about “prominent infundibulums” and why they are important to what happened to me. I should also get to stop taking the new medications they added when I left the hospital by March. So good news all around.
The only sad thing this week was the letter I received from my primary care doctor, Dr. Amal Chaniara, which said he is leaving Allina Health at the end of the year. Dr. Chaniara has been wonderful and I wish him the best of luck with his future career opportunities. He is a great doctor who really took the time to discuss things with me and I will miss seeing him.
Lastly, big shout out to the HCMC cafeteria (see above). Hospital food gets a bad rap in general, but the food and service at the cafeteria has been great. Reasonable prices, friendly staff and a wide selection of options mean I usually stop in after appointments in the new building to grab a quick bite. Not sure they always follow the latest health guidelines when it comes to what they offer, but that’s fine by me…Originally published by DK on December 22, 2018 at 10:44 am
Going from a 6 to a X will be a shock for herOriginally published by DK on December 20, 2018 at 6:25 pm
It’s like a rainbow of hairOriginally published by DK on December 14, 2018 at 8:48 am
Another farmer’s market treeOriginally published by DK on December 9, 2018 at 5:09 pm
Yesterday I had my appointment with the neurosurgeons who needed to approve my return to work. Happy to report that I’ve been cleared to return next week. I really didn’t think it would happen that soon, but I’m super excited to be back in time for the final two regular season Vikings home games (and hopefully at least one playoff game before diving into Final Four prep). Big thanks to everyone at work who stepped in to help while I’ve been out – I’m looking forward to getting back out there. And thanks again to everyone who has facilitated and supported my recovery.
SKOL!Originally published by DK on December 5, 2018 at 2:10 pm
Nice job decorating, MKOriginally published by DK on December 5, 2018 at 10:21 am
Still cool (literally and figuratively), but needs more varietyOriginally published by DK on December 2, 2018 at 8:50 pm
A little tardy on the latest update, but all is well. I survived a four hour therapy appointment and apparently did well enough that my speech therapist thinks I don’t need to continue with that track any longer. I had my long-awaited appointment with the ophthalmologist and received a pair of “magic glasses” that have greatly reduced the need for future eye patch use. They have optical film from 3M (see above) that utilizes prism technology to correct my double vision. My left eye is slightly crossed, but this stuff really helps correct that (and it’s so nice to have both eyes open all the time). The extra good news is that there is nothing wrong with either eye – the double vision is caused by the nerves that control the muscles that direct each eye and the doctor is optimistic that this will eventually correct itself. I will also be starting therapy next week to work specifically on eye exercises to help this process along.
In other HCMC appointment news, I met with an awesome neurologist who showed me the “before” and “after” CT scans of my brain from the day of the incident and from when they discharged me from the ICU. It was really cool technology and the way she explained it made it crystal clear how serious the situation was on October 8th (and how much improvement there was after three weeks). Have I mentioned how big a fan I am of the staff at HCMC? I’ll return there again on Friday for another CT scan that will hopefully continue the trend. That will also be Colleen’s last full day with me, as she returns to work on Monday. After that, my next big appointment will be on December 4th, when I meet with the lead neurosurgeon to discuss continued recovery plans and possibly a return to work date.
We saw both Charlie Parr and Hippo Campus at the Palace Theater with no issues from the lights or sound levels (the infamous Palace talkers are another story). On the advice of my friend TG, I picked up a pair of Vibes earplugs, which seemed to work well at the Hippo Campus show (and dampened the discussions of the people sitting near me). Saw one Wild win (Ottawa) and one Wild loss (Arizona) at the X with my uncle, also with no sensory overload issues. Stopped by the stadium for the start of the very loud Packers game, but found it totally manageable. Left that game before halftime to beat the train rush, but had a great time seeing people and delivering thank you cards.
With the Thanksgiving holiday, it was a busy week for seeing family and friends. Had lunch one day with a friend at Dark Horse and went over to the Inver Grove Heights AMC to see Ralph Breaks the Internet (which we both liked). We took my mother-in-law out on Thanksgiving Day for lunch at the original Buca di Beppo in St. Paul, then had a more traditional dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house in the Mac-Groveland area.
This will be my last “weekly update.” Truly thankful for you all – thanks for reading!
So convenient, no?Originally published by DK on November 24, 2018 at 12:56 pm
The third week out of the ICU started with lots of family time and a return to HCMC to meet with a neurosurgeon P.A. to have the sutures removed from the top of my head. Since we were so close, I also stopped in at the office for a short visit. It was so great to see everyone (and get more hugs than I can ever remember). After Colleen’s excellent suggestion, I also took the opportunity to clean out my office refrigerator and empty the trash and recycling cans. During my appointment, I was cleared to attend sporting events and concerts, so I hope to return soon for the basketball classic (as a fan) and get back to the Xcel Center with my uncle to catch a Wild game. My first concert should be a perfect one to ease back into live music – Charlie Parr tomorrow night at the Palace Theater up the street.
I was hoping the Monday appointment would be more definitive on determining clearance to return to a number of things, but that was not the case. It was great to get the sutures out (which didn’t even register on the pain scale compared to things in the ICU); a return to work estimate will have to wait until next month. We added some new future appointments and had to reschedule a few others, so now I have a pretty full schedule the next few weeks. It looks like spring will be a fine goal for a return to driving (seizure risk) and biking (warmer, head injury risk). My planned 50th birthday ski trip will have to wait a season, but truly just glad to have a 50th birthday. Haven’t talked much yet about a return to running…
My brother flew up from Orlando last weekend and my sister came down from Duluth, so we spent a lot of time together. We had Carbone’s for lunch at my aunt and uncle’s house on Saturday and my brother wanted to take us out to one of his restaurants in St. Louis Park Saturday night (Yard House). He’s now with Darden Concepts as a corporate trainer and really seems to like the company. Colleen, SK and I introduced him to the magic that is Raising Cane’s the day before he flew home. Also on the foodie radar this past week: lunch with another aunt and uncle at Handsome Hog, lunch with my friend and mentor Doug at Buttered Tin and SK’s first solo server shift at Saint Dinette. I’m really spoiled with so many great options within walking distance of our place (and to have so many kind offers to buy us lunch).
It’s been very strange defining my weekdays by Price Is Right in the mornings and Jeopardy in the afternoons, but I have been working on things other than sitting on the couch and watching TV. I designed some new personal business cards and the thank you cards with SK’s custom artwork arrived this week. Finding addresses and hand writing cards takes a long time, but is actually great therapy for me. I also rolled out the artwork on all the social media platforms, as there are so many people to thank (and I don’t have all those mailing addresses). I’m just amazed at all the communities who have supported us throughout this medical emergency:
- U.S. Bank Stadium colleagues
- Allina Health colleagues
- Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority staff
- Minnesota Vikings staff
- National Football League IT staff
- Hennepin Healthcare doctors, nurses, EMT and support staff
- Metro Transit Police
- Minneapolis Police and Fire Departments
- Fortune Bay and the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa
- High School for Recording Arts
- Northwest Airlines alumni
- St. Paul Central and Ramsey Junior High alumni
- WeRunMpls and the online running community
This whole time period has felt like soccer’s stoppage time – I feel like every day I get beyond Oct. 8, 2018, is a bonus. It seems crazy to me that this could be one month or another 50 years. Appointments next week include the long-awaited ophthalmology session on Friday with Dr. Chang to discuss my daily occupational therapy eye exercises (see above) and options for prism glasses to help resolve the double vision.
Dinner at Yard House in SLPOriginally published by DK on November 10, 2018 at 8:34 pm
The second week out of the ICU was (thankfully) low-key. I had no outpatient appointments at HCMC and my vision is to the point where I have one eye that’s really good at close-up screens and one that can watch TV clearly. I’ve done my occupational therapy eye exercises every day and ordered a cheap pair of standard glasses from Amazon that I’ll bring to my ophthalmologist appointment on Black Friday – they want to customize the plain lenses to help correct my double vision. On Monday, I’ll return to see the neurosurgeon for an incision check (and hopefully the removal of the two sutures on the top of my head).
I should be getting my AARP card in the mail any day now, since I now have not one, but two daily pill boxes full of medications (see above). It’s actually not too bad – four pills in the morning and two at night, but it’s still a big change from the rest of my life (always had a goal of no pills). Only had to take Tylenol one day this week, when I woke up with a fairly intense headache. Last night I decided to elevate my head more with a second pillow and that seemed to help. Today was the first day I felt tired at the end of the day, but I really didn’t do much physical therapy-type activities.
Yesterday and today friends visited me at home, which was really nice. I have a fairly full schedule next week, but please let me know if you’d like to swing by Lowertown (a person can only watch so much Netflix per week). I received two awesome gifts this week: One from HSRA (big thanks to TC, Saintanne and crew) and one from my good friends at MSFA. My custom artwork thank you cards should arrive tomorrow, so that will be another project to start working on while I’m home. My brother flew up from Florida tonight, and I’ll be visiting lots of family this weekend. Nice to see the Wild playing good hockey too…
The key to teen happinessOriginally published by DK on November 9, 2018 at 4:12 pm
According to reports, I wasn’t exactly myself the first few days in the ICU. Thankfully, some of my supposed quotes were written down:
- “I DO NOT need to be a part of their system.”
- “This is some kind of mad scientist experiment!”
- “Who do you trust? Your dad or *these* people.”
- “Happy dancing widow, happy dancing widow…“
There was also a reported exchange with Colleen about my favorite Prince song (“You *might* be right.”).
Sigh.Originally published by DK on November 2, 2018 at 8:17 pm
And in the fancy new HCMC building on 8th tooOriginally published by DK on November 1, 2018 at 11:40 am
The day after the TC 10 was definitely not my typical Monday. I didn’t have any meetings scheduled, so I slept in a little later than usual, then walked over to the train station. I texted Armon that my neck was super sore when I woke up, but that I was headed in. I was told later I brought a bag of groceries for my office, along with my badge and headphones. When I got to the stadium train stop, I exited the train, walked towards Chicago and Fourth, crossed the train tracks, then suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm, followed by a seizure and stroke (and the groceries went flying everywhere).
I haven’t seen the video footage or read the police report yet, but I reportedly fell and hit my head on the train tracks and was unresponsive. A good Samaritan bystander administered CPR and a Metro Transit police officer contacted HCMC for transport the three blocks to their Level I Trauma Center. As my sister said, it was almost like my mom and my grandfather were watching out for me, deciding it was too early for me to join their party. The doctors later told me the overall odds of surviving a brain aneurysm are under 40% and that if the other pieces hadn’t fallen into place, there was a zero percent chance of me making it.
To be honest, I don’t really remember much about the first few days in the ICU. Colleen says I was a gremlin, trying to bust out of the unit and needing to be restrained. The first procedure completed was the placement of two stents in my left vertebral artery to treat the aneurysm. Dr. Tummala and his team of amazing vascular neurosurgeons were the first in a long line of HCMC care providers who literally saved my life. I can’t say thank you enough to this amazing group of professionals (including Dr. Clay Garthe, neurosurgeon, pictured above).
After the stents were placed, a drain was placed in the top of my head that regulated pressure and fluids in my brain. This was connected to a bag that filled with what we affectionately called “brain juice.” Normally, these fluids are processed back into your head, but after the trauma, the team wanted direct control over this. The drain became the first milestone in my recovery – I couldn’t leave the ICU until the drain was removed. We thought this would happen around the two week mark, but thanks to some unexpected vasospasms, we had to wait until day 21 to remove the drain. This extra week also included multiple trips to the CT scanners and two angioplasty procedures. I only remember the second one, which included the surgeons playing Tequila Sunrise by the Eagles, which of course made me think of The Big Lebowski.
I had a number of different therapists work with me while I was in the ICU, including a speech pathologist (Kim), physical therapist (Kari) and occupational therapist (Bri). Don’t remember much about the speech tests, but the other two were fascinating. Bri had a lot of interesting iPad apps and encouraged me to continue with Two Dots and Words with Friends on my phone. She also had a number of written tests that I got better at as time went on. Kari accompanied me on my many walking laps around the ICU, which included exercises that reminded me of the Ministry of Silly Walks. I also seriously wanted to learn this choreography, but that will have to wait for another time (and maybe a future Halloween costume?).
Three of my early issues were taste, hearing and vision. Hospital food doesn’t have a great reputation, but really nothing tasted right to me the first week. Big thanks to everyone who smuggled in outside food (which also tasted funny for a long time). They were threatening a feeding tube down my nose if I didn’t increase my caloric intake, so I quickly became a fan of hospital scrambled eggs, milk shakes, Boost, 1% milk and juices pretty quick. Only threw up once (drank a milk shake too fast after taking meds) and had a constant fight with sodium (of all things), and ended up on salt pills with lots of Gatorade and no water. Bonus: down 23 pounds!
Hearing and vision issues have been odd. Colleen initially sounded like Snow White, then like an Imperial Probe droid from Empire Strikes Back. Sasha sounded like Rosie from The Jetsons. Thankfully, that only lasted a few days. Vision has been a problem that I still suffer from today. Double vision lead to an eye patch that I was suppose to swap back and forth, but I was definitely favoring the right eye (which was the only one I could use to read close-up screens). I can now use the left to watch TV clearly, but this is an area that will likely need more therapy. It’s really the primary source of remaining head pain (which I can use limited Tylenol to treat).
Colleen has been a saint though this entire episode. She met with HR reps at both her work and mine to take care of paperwork and start working with my insurance company (we are both on Federal Medical Leave for the short-term). She started a great CaringBridge site to keep everyone informed of my status that as of today has received 8,806 visits. I didn’t have a login while I was in the hospital, but thank you to everyone who commented or posted on that site – your support was heart-warming (and a bit overwhelming).
She also started a GoFundMe site that has been well supported. We are 75% of the way to her initial goal, which will definitely help as the bills pile up and our income slows down. The rack rate on my hospital stay may approach a half million dollars, so I truly appreciate all of you who have already contributed and humbly ask for help to get to our goal. So far the summaries from the insurance company have looked promising, but I know they are many, many more that we haven’t received yet and I’m sure there will be multiple payment plans to be negotiated.
Big thanks to everyone who visited me in the ICU, called, sent cards and commented online – watch your mailboxes for something special in the next few weeks. Also want to send a special thank you to the Vikings, who brought me a custom Kingsbury #1 jersey and a signed Stefon Diggs photo of the Minneapolis Miracle. How cool is that?
Being home versus being in the ICU is a 1000% improvement. My arms and fingers are starting to not look like pincushions, I don’t have a million wires running everywhere and I don’t have someone waking me up every two hours to give me more salt tablets and horse pills (now it’s just five normal pills when I wake up and two when I go to bed). I also get to take showers whenever I want, brush my teeth every morning, sleep in a soft bed with flannel sheets and watch TV with a screen big enough to read the letters and numbers during sporting events.
I was sad that I missed senior night for Marisa’s swim team, the Avett Brothers concert at Mystic Lake (where I had third row center tickets), Timberwolves opening night in a suite and the Wild vs. Kings game with my uncle. But my new philosophy when I get sad or start to complain is that I can let that control my life or I can just be happy to be alive.
When viewed through that lens, the answer is easy…Originally published by DK on October 31, 2018 at 6:00 pm
Pizza night in the neighborhoodOriginally published by DK on October 30, 2018 at 5:11 pm
Last year at SESOriginally published by DK on October 4, 2018 at 11:38 pm