A Personal Note

I’ve mentioned before that I have been having adventures with back problems. After waiting a year for my insurance company to decree I was worthy of a needed surgery I had said surgery this past March. There were some complications and recovery was not as advertised.

Two months ago I was feeling about 75% back to myself. I was working in the shop a little more each day. Trained professionals told me I could expect a full recovery within a year and that seemed very likely.

Six weeks ago I started noticing my legs would tire more easily than they had a few weeks before. Then I started having some numbness, pain, and cramping.

An MRI revealed another vertebra was jealous that it didn’t get to play with the surgeon during the previous operation so it is now yelling for attention. “Hey, what about me!” says vertebra L-4. “Why couldn’t you cry for attention before the last surgery!” says Doug.

So friends, I will be having another surgery on November 14th.

I did not know an MRI could be taken while I played the dulcimer. Here is the MRI the surgeon will refer to while operating:

Interior support structure of a dulcimer builder and player.

Here are some of the tools the surgeon will be using. Or are these my tools?

The tools a surgeon will use to fix my back. Wait, those are my tools!

It would be dishonest of me to deny that I have had moments of frustration during the course of this adventure but in general I remain optimistic.

I have been organizing the shop and getting materials together to make it easy to begin making dulcimers after I recover from surgery. Depending on how things go I could be working on a limited basis within a month though it may take longer. I’ll keep you posted.

I have some beautiful sets of walnut, curly maple, Adirondack spruce, sassafras, and butternut ready to become dulcimers. I’ll be sharpening tools and getting everything ready so I can easily work a few minutes here and there as I am able.

I have not been able to work as much during the past few weeks as I had the weeks before but passion always finds an outlet.

I have been studying construction techniques used by those who make classical guitars, romantic guitars and other instruments. These luthiers often use just a few hand tools and rely on skill more than tooling and jigs. This is the direction I lean towards and I am feeling an inner growth spurt that I imagine will express itself in the instruments I make after recovery.

My study has also included musical explorations, primarily while playing mountain dulcimer. Here again I am finding joy in deeper simplicity. Perhaps I will record and upload some music during recovery as I am able.

I have a loving wife and a community of good friends near and far. I love making instruments and playing music. I live indoors and eat every day.

Life is good.


40 thoughts on “A Personal Note

  1. …uh, Doug. Mind if I borrow your shop while you recover? Seein you got it all cleaned up and sorted? lol

  2. Dear Doug,
    Rebecca and I have such happy memories of our meetings at festivals; thinking of you always brings a moment of joy. Sorry to hear of your continuing back trouble, but thank God for good surgeons and otherwise strong health and support from so many friends and well-wishers. And Adirondack Spruce for a dulcimer top — I’d love to play that one! We’ll keep you in our prayers, especially on November 14th. May you be back to full health soon — and hope to see you down the road!
    With love from Barry and Rebecca

  3. You are being remarkably sanguine and enlightened about this. But don’t worry, I will do some cursing for you.

  4. We hope you have a quick recovery. Would you like us to bring you a latke or two a few weeks after the surgery? Remember, Hanukkah arrives during turkey time.

  5. I’m so glad you’re coming. I’m so looking forward to your wit and wisdom. Also your mini pennywhistle lessons. Been working on low d whistles.

  6. Keep doing just exactly what you are doing with your attitude, sense of humor, and determination. Good for you and inspiring for others.

  7. May the surgeon(s) be able to do all the right things for you to get back to doing the things you want to do. Hearing chisels and hand planes shave wood is a great sound! Hand tools in the hands of a skilled craftsman is a wonderful thing.

  8. Ahhh, what a bummer. But you’ve always had a positive attitude and it will get you through this. Good luck my friend.

  9. Dang that pesky vertebrae … it should have chosen to play havoc along with the others so you wouldn’t have to have another surgery. Your attitude is such a wonderful inspiration. I truly think that you should take up writing a book as you recover. Your thoughts, musings and photos would make a delightful respite for those who enjoy reading! Hugs and much <3 !!

  10. Prayers for a swift second recovery, and a great adventure with those new instruments friend.

  11. Bummer. There’s something to be said for layering surgeries — a few years ago, I had a gum tissue transplant while I was recovering from laparascopic hernia repair, and the pain from one masked some of the discomfort from the other — but back-to-back spinal surgeries don’t sound like fun. Suffering for your sins is one thing, but it seems like you should get punished for one thing at a time, with breaks in between.

  12. boo hiss — I’m sorry you have to do this again. Hopefully they’ll get it right this time. (My experience seems to be things are put right the second time, but sheesh…) I’m amazed at your great attitude. Lots of good and healing wishes and gentle hugs being sent down from the (not quite) Frozen North!

  13. Gee, Doug, sorry that you have to do it again, but I’m glad that you are optimistic.

  14. I’m so sorry to hear this. You aren’t 100% back from the last surgery. Make sure you are eating fresh fruits and a lot of fresh vegetables. Perhaps drink nettle tea and astragalus root tea to build yourself up? And if you know any reiki practitioners, they could help your body heal better after surgery. Just suggestions that you can take or not.

  15. A laugh about your back … and mine: I finally know how to ignore what ejects from an accident. And, when it moves to diabetes, we can compare our Metformin experiences….. Neither experience is too far apart.

  16. You are going to feel SO much better. Sorry you have to go through this, but you are a trooper and a good healer.

  17. what Pam said…AND I am happy and grateful to be one of those friendish individuals…( funny, you don’t LOOK friendish… )

  18. Thinking of you, Doug. I don’t envy your trouble, but I do envy your equanimity. I hope this surgery puts an end to the trouble and that you close out 2013 and begin 2014 restored and pain-free. Much love from Toronto.

    1. Thank you so much, Terry. I’m expecting a good outcome. I hope you are getting settled in the new place and the gargoyles are happy! Hugs, Doug

  19. Ohhh Doug…The news about your back sucks, but the possibility of it being fixed is wonderful. Nov 14 is on my calendar for special attention. You often raise my spirits, even from far away, I know that we all want to raise yours. Love abounds.

  20. I’m so sorry to hear you need another surgery. I hope this one is easier to recover from. I’ll bring halvah. Hugs.

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