Sunday, December 26, 2010

Deep Brain Stimulation

I looked at Ken this morning and thought, oh my gosh, this is truly a miracle. His face was beautiful, so handsome, so young. He looks healthier today than he did five years ago, before he fell off his bike and broke his hip. We both looked at each other and thought, this marvelous, yet exhausting surgery he just went through may just have given us a brand new adventure in life.

For those of you who may not know, Ken has Parkinson's Disease. Parkinson's is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system that impairs motor function as well as brain function. There is no cure, but there are many medical and physical ways to fight off its constant advance.

Ken was diagnosed four years ago but he has challenged the disease every single step of the way. He has read everything about it. He knows all the dire predictions. But in the meantime he jumped into life like only Ken Kono can.

He decided he needed to keep his mind and body as healthy and active as possible. To take care of his mind, he began to study Chinese. He takes two classes every week without fail. He reads constantly and plays Chess every day. To help his voice, he sings in a Japanese chorus group and hosts the group here at our house every Saturday. He has real trouble walking because the Parkinson's keeps tugging at his Achilles tendons making it extremely painful to walk any distance. He knew he had to find something he could do that would still keep his hands and arms and legs as strong as possible. He decided to learn how to do massage therapy. He found a school where he could take classes and learn about the muscle system in the body. He went to class every day for nine months and graduated and then went on to become a board certified massage therapist. I am his best (and for now only) client. In addition to that, he exercises religiously every single day.

And then, on December 14 - eleven days ago, at the suggestion of his two neurologists he underwent an eight hour elective surgical procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation. This was a marathon undertaking for both Ken and his team of doctors. They bore holes through his skull on both sides of his head and implanted slender electrodes deep into the innermost part of his brain. They had to find just the right place in order to make this work, so Ken had to be awake while all this was happening. He doesn't quite remember all this, but believe me, the doctors told me he was awake and they found the right place.

The electrodes were then connected to wires that were threaded from his skull, down behind his left ear and into a small pacemaker like device implanted inside his chest. The doctors turned on the power while he was in surgery to make sure it all worked and reported that his tremor stopped, his hands unclenched and his feet relaxed. They then turned off the power and let Ken relax and heal for just one week before coming back to the hospital and turning on the stimulator for good.

Last Wednesday, three days before Christmas, we went back to the doctor's office and as promised, the doctor sat in front of a little computer screen that was hooked up to Ken's brain and did a whole lot of programming and then turned on the power. Ken said he felt just a little tingling in his leg. The doctor then gave us some very basic instructions on how to turn up and down the remote control and sent us on our way. He explained to us this process of getting the stimulator adjusted to just the right setting where Ken could greatly reduce his medication and still have maximum mobility could take up to nine months.

We left the doctor's office and found a little place to have lunch and celebrate. In the middle of lunch, Ken's leg began to jump uncontrollably. We were both quite unnerved by this and so later in the day after communicating with the doctor, we turned down the stimulator a bit and Ken returned to normal.

In the meantime, Ken feels great and looks great. We know we have a long way to go to get everything calibrated as it should and we (especially I) need patience. But for this old gal, it has been one truly miraculous Christmas.

Oh, what a great and wondrous adventure this life continues to be.



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Old Friends

From Left: Janice Feigley, Cathy Kramer, Billy Bryan, Jeff Wentz and Jim Miller. Oh what a time we had...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Yumiko's Seal


Yumiko had her orchestra recital last night at Radnor High School. The program was marvelous - strings and trumpets and Christmas Carols. I was all in tears. But the best surprise of the night was walking out of the school past the large display of student art work. There was a big case with a few water color pieces inside. Just for fun I asked Yumiko if any of her work was in the case and she said "Yes, the blue piece with the little seal." It was such a beautiful surprise, I just had to take a photograph and post it here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Need More Suet - NOW!!

Family Photo Session

We're getting ready to make the Christmas cards so last night, Ken, Yumiko, Tilly and I ventured to the basement and set up our little portrait studio and took some photos. Here are a few for your viewing pleasure - bad hair and all.

Friday, November 19, 2010

16 Point Buck That Got Away


I promise this is a true story. I was walking through the tall weeds along a stream at the John Heinz Nature Preserve. As I was walking, I heard a large animal in the brush, so I stopped dead in my tracks. Then through the brush I saw the eye of a pretty doe. I took her picture and then heard more noise. Another deer was in the brush. I readied my camera and a huge (let me exaggerate here) 16 point buck at least - charged past me chasing the little doe who had taken off a few seconds before. I didn't have a chance at a shot. But I promise there were a lot of points on that rack. I got back on the trail and ran ahead where I thought they may be. I waited a long time crouching behind a tree, but they were not gonna let me get another good look. Oh, what could have been.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another Chance to See the Great Blue Heron Fish


I got back to the John Heinz Nature Preserve this morning and there again was my Great Blue Heron close to the shore line. He let me get up pretty close and while watching he caught and ate two fish. Then rinsed his mouth, looked up in the sky and flew away. If you go to www.kittykono.com you can see a slide show of this happening before your very eyes. I had a similar slide show a few days ago, but this one is a tad better. Go ahead, check it out. What do you have to loose?
But hurry, it will only be up there for a day. www.kittykono.com

Monday, November 15, 2010

Separate Conversations

Saturday night party at the Mumbaursville Gun Club. From Left: Scott Ducellier, Peter Riley, Pam Kelly, Billy Bryan, Charlie Hafler and Cathy Kramer. This one's for you Billy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Heron and Fish at www.kittykono.com

Ohhhhh, if I just had that 400mm lens this photograph would be that much more interesting. But, in the mean time - go to www.kittykono.com to see a slide show of what preceded this photo and what happened afterwards. Now go ahead - www.kittykono.com If you don't go now, the little slide show won't be there tomorrow. Have fun.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Centipede in the Powder Room



Well, I guess I knew it would come to this. It's gotten very cold here in St. Davids. We had our first frost and all the lovely bugs have gone into hibernation. I'd been having a terrible case of withdrawal until this morning when I walked into the powder room and there to my wandering eyes was a beautiful little centipede waiting for me under the sink. I told him to stay there until I could retrieve a little plastic container from the kitchen. I ran back to the powder room and he was still there, probably getting a little excited about the prospect of having his picture taken. I scooped him up in the container, put the lid on and we took a trip down into the basement where I have a little portrait studio. I turned on the portrait lights, attached my macro lens to my camera and took his picture. He stood still long enough to get a few shots. Take a good look at those little black eyes and all those legs. If you click on him you can see him even better.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Larry and Sharon Cox Came to Visit




We had a wonderful weekend with Ken's old friends from Atlanta - Larry and Sharon Cox. We took them to Valley Forge Yesterday to see where all the bugs reside. The light was beautiful. Sharon took the first photo of the cannons and the field.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Milkweed Tussock Moth


This little gal flew past me in a field at Valley Forge. I tracked where she landed, set up my tripod and took her portrait. Click on her nose for a good look at those beautiful antennae.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Leaf on Leaf


No bugs today - I'm afraid they have gone into hibernation. Makes me sad, but I will keep on searching. In the meantime, here's a leaf on a leaf.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

National Geographic Moment (Beware - Gruesome Material Below)

Yesterday I witnessed yet another National Geographic Moment.

This is not for the faint of heart. The spider webs were everywhere at Valley Forge and each one had a big fat orb weaver spider hanging head down, claws out, waiting for the vibration of a little critter that by mistake found himself caught in the web. I was taking photos of the spider in the first photo, when a vibration hit the web. A cousin of the grasshopper in the second photo had hopped his last hop. The spider quickly made his way down to the grasshopper and wrapped part of the web around his prey and then (this is the National Geographic Moment) - the little orange spigots that are found on the front of the spider's abdomen began to spout a thick web of silk (click photos three and four.) Using his claw, the spider guided the spout around and around the grasshopper. At the end, the spider bit into the grasshopper and rendered him powerless. (I didn't actually see this part, but since it's what's supposed to happen, I thought I would throw that in too.) The spider then walked back up the web, turned himself around with face down, and left the grasshopper entombed for a meal later in the day. Ugh.... it is a cruel world out there.




Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Few More Pictures from Adrian and Christina's Wedding


Here are a few more pictures from our weekend. Ken and I with BAD HAIR in Port Washington where Ken lived 30 years ago; Yumiko and Jackie (Anna's grandaughter); Kitty and Peter in the Russian church on one of the few pews; Mr. and Mrs. Rodzianko on one of the other few pews; Peter texting Alex in the church; and Mrs. Rodzianko, Anna and Aurora (Anna's niece).



Monday, October 18, 2010

Adrian and Christina Get Married





Back when Ken, Yumiko and I were living in Tokyo we met a young man who was stationed on a ship in the Sea of Japan. His name was Adrian Rodzianko. He is the nephew of my brother Peter's wife Anna. We fell in love with Adrian over the year we were in Japan. He is just a fine, fine person. One day his fiance Christina came to Tokyo from New York and Adrian brought her to
visit us in our little apartment. She was beautiful and funny and they made a great couple. We were thrilled to get an invitation to their wedding which took place on Long Island this past weekend. Here are a few photos taken from way behind a lot of people in a very crowded little Russian Orthodox church.