Not an April’s Fools Joke

I wasn’t quite feeling up to running Friday night but I did want to put a substantial cardio effort in.  I hopped on our underused Concept 2 rower and put in a 30 minute session covering almost 6000 meters.  It didn’t do it hard enough to generate the same cardio feel of running but it’s a more balanced workout with more strength benefit.  After the workout Cindy and I enjoyed our traditional Friday night pizza, well she enjoyed it.  For some reason the food did not taste good to me.  Little did I know this was a very early sign of what was to come.

On Saturday I was busting it around the house attending to all sort of small tasks. I also came up with unintentional tasks.  While I was turning on the pool pump the sprinklers on Zone 1 turned on by themselves, WTF?  I was able to manually close the valve but I noticed it was leaking, great.  As I inspected the six valve manifold I constructed over a dozen years ago I considered the prospect of replacing the bad valve.  That prospect looked pretty terrible as I saw no way to do so without tearing apart and rebuilding the entire manifold.

However as I was considering my options it occurred to me that Shugs, Ali’s boyfriend has a ton of experience with sprinkler valves as he has worked on them as part of his job for years.  I texted him and asked if he would be willing to take a look before I made a big mess of things.  He said sure and agreed to come out on Sunday.

When he did come out the fix was really simple.  He just unscrewed the jar top on the valve, cleaned out the sludge on the diaphragm and put it back together.  That, combined with the new solenoid I bought seemed to do the trick.  The valve fired on and off like a champ afterward.  While he was there I asked him if would mind redoing my shared negative connection in a more professional way. Mine was a mess, it is a miracle it has worked for as long as it has.  In 5 minutes he took care of that as well.  I was very grateful for his assist and I picked up some basic knowledge that will help me if a similar problem pops up on any of the other equally old valves.

Saturday afternoon Cindy and ran to Home Depot and Rural King.  I picked up supplies for two more projects.  At Rural King I got a 150 foot roll of two foot high chicken wire. At Home Depot I picked up four massive pressure treated 12 foot 2×6’s.  The chicken wire is for the back half of the chicken fence.  When I built that fence I inadvertently used welded wire instead of twisted wire fencing like I have on the main property.  That back half of the chicken fence is submerged under water for months on end thanks to wet season.

The welded wire does not hold up well in this environment and has rusted down low.  The weed whacker has done a nice job of breaking the welds on that bottom wire creating lots of openings that are still too small for the chickens to escape but still didn’t give us a good feeling.  I attached the wire at the fence posts with staples and Cindy followed behind me tying the chicken wire to the welded wire at spots to keep it tighter to the fence.  It’s tedious work that isn’t done yet. The 2×6’s are to replace the rotted border around the orchard.  It has needed replacement for 2-3 years so although I haven’t actually done the work yet, at least I have the materials to do so now.

Saturday evening Cindy and I went out to dinner for a belated six year anniversary dinner.  We went to a small Italian restaurant we patronized once or twice before.  Cindy really enjoyed her meal.  I did less so, partially because of my affected sense of taste, partially because it was very oily.  Saturday night we watched 22 miles, a crazy action packed 90 minute movie with Mark Wahlberg. It is quality B+ entertainment as long as you aren’t turned off by some very gory up close and personal kill scenes.

Sunday morning I again was busy right out of the gate.  In addition to working with Shugs on the sprinkler valve, I changed the oil on my Tacoma for the first time in a couple years.  Since I daily drive the Prius, the Tacoma normally only sees usage on the weekends.  The end result is I put very light mileage on the truck.  The last oil change was done by the dealer for free at the 20,000 mile mark.  I has taken me almost an entire year until I reached the next 5000 miles to do another one.

I was a little rusty on the procedure since the truck uses a pain in the ass canister style oil filter.  The dealer had the casing on ridiculously tight.  I had to attach my impact wrench to the canister wrench to break it loose. I also wound up wearing a ton of oil as I tried to drain the filter.  It was a big mess but I trudged through it.  I look forward to not having to do my next oil change until 2020.

Mid-afternoon I wanted to test my KingSong 18L with the newly installed larger battery pack.  I targeted the Ave Maria ride, the same ride I did with the stock battery that left me stranded a mile or so from the house when I ran out of juice.   When I reached slightly farther than the halfway point I still had 69% battery left, I was thrilled.  However during the last 5-6 miles I started getting speed warnings that start once the battery drops below 40%.  By the time I got home I was down to 15% battery meaning I used a TON more battery life during the second half of the ride which didn’t really make much sense based on the riding conditions.  I need to do more riding to see what sort of performance I get but I was disappointed with the numbers on that initial run.  The disappointment was amplified when I checked the video from December when I took the demo 18XL unit, that has the same battery, on the same ride and returned with 43% battery remaining.

When I got home I wasted little time before jumping into another project, this time installing color bumpers on my One Wheel XR.  This project did not go as planned either when I realized that I accidentally ordered the bumpers for a One Wheel + instead of a One Wheel XR.  The end result was only one of the two bumpers actually fit.  The video is funny but as you watch it, look at how my eyes are behaving, it was more of a sign of what was to come.

So the bad tasting food had continued all weekend.  When I was editing the above video I noticed something very odd going on with my eyes, specifically my right one.  When I would blink the right eye would not close, only the left would and it would sort of open slowly, it looked bizarre.  I wrote it off as just one of those weird things that would go away.

So before bed I was brushing my teeth and Cindy told me to look at her.  She saw the weird eye thing.  She had me try to do a few things like smile, close my eyes and it all looked weird.  I literally could not fully close my right eye.  I am not the type to overreact to medical symptoms but even I knew that odd feelings/reactions on one side of the face can be a sign of stroke, which obviously is nothing that can be ignored.  Even though it was the last thing I felt like doing or dealing with, I told Cindy it feels like we should go to the ER.

Luckily there is an ER nine miles from the house so it didn’t take too long to get there.  The treatment I got from staff was wildly different.  The Haitian woman that checked us in I assume has medical training.  When I described the symptoms to her, or if she just looked at my face she should know that a stroke was a possibility which is very time sensitive and requires immediate attention.  Nope, she just asked for my ID and insurance card and told me to take a seat.  As we sat there for maybe 5-10 minutes I couldn’t believe I was actually in an ER for something potentially really bad, it’s never happened before.

So once I got taken back to a room a real nurse heard me describing my symptoms to another staff member.  She came right in and started asking me questions as well as doing physical tests involving facial movements as well as appendages.  The sense of urgency in her demeanor was worrisome, she said I had to get in for a head CT immediately to make sure this indeed was not a stroke, wow.  As I got wheeled to the room the sense of disbelief only deepened.

As I laid there for the CT I struggled to keep my right eye closed which I could not fully.  By the time I got wheeled back into the exam room a neurologist was already there, virtually.  This facility has this “robot” that consists of a fully self driving system along with a video screen, two way communications and an exam camera the doctor can control.  Instead of waiting who knows how long to be physically present it allows a doctor to be with a patient nearly instantly, it was extremely cool.

The doctor had me do more physical tests and as he did the CT results were almost instantly available to him.  Everyone in the room breathed a sigh of relief when the neurologist said the head CT was clear, indicating this was not a stroke.  Instead he said he believe I have Bell’s Palsy a condition with stroke-like symptoms.  It happens when something irritates or inflames a facial nerve.  This causes loss of control for that side of the face.  In addition to eye/mouth problems it can also affect sense of taste, meaning I really started experiencing this on Friday, unknowingly.

The thing that is not great news is the condition can persist for weeks or even months.  You never know.  It’s ironic, one of the guys I watch on YouTube pretty regularly is Thor, also known as The Mountain.  He is the current World Strongest Man.  He has Bell’s Palsy as well and his symptoms although lessened have persisted for years.  I was given a prescription for an anti-viral medicine as well as a steroid.  The hope is the combination of the two will fast track healing of the affected facial nerve.  We left the ER grateful that we went and that the worse case scenario was avoided, however this new scenario was pretty damn strange.

They put a bandage over my right eye.  Once of the issues with this is since I am not really blinking effectively with my right eye it can make it dry out and become problematic.  We were exhausted as we got home around 1AM.  I slept with the eye covered as well and probably will be doing so until the symptoms improve.  I awoke to the alarm exhausted but went to work anyway.  Although Bell’s Palsy sounds scary, the reality is sitting home isn’t going to make me recover any faster.  I plan to keep up my normal routine as much as possible because it’s the only option that works for me.








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