Have you seen Blackbeard's gold hidden in this here cave?

If your idea of a good time is dropping a roll of toilet paper down the john and repeatedly trying to flush it, then you should just love narcotics because that’s what they do to the human excretory system. How can a person even want to get high on something that makes him constipated? It just ain’t dignified. Besides, pills are for sick people.

I thought I had stopped them yesterday (two days after surgery), but pain woke me up in the wee hours this morning, so I took first one Percocet and, when that didn’t work, another. I called the physician’s assistant today, and, to my great surprise, she said that most people take narcotics day and night for several weeks after shoulder surgery. She also said that patients tend to migrate from their beds to their recliners.

I was in such pain last fall that the only relief I could find was in a recliner that Peggy bought with her inheritance from her grandmother (and even then I could only stay halfway comfortable for a few minutes at a time). Now that I’m having to sleep with my lower arm sticking straight up into the air, maybe I will have to move back to Granny's recliner.

Peggy took a week off to stay with me, and I don’t know what I will do when she goes back to work—or when she leaves on her two trips in April. It’s not just the practical help; it’s having someone to keep me company now that there isn’t much I can do with myself. I can’t lift anything; I can’t take my arm out of my sling; I can’t even turn my palm up. If I break any of these rules, I risk pulling the stitches out, and that would leave me worse off than I was before the surgery. This is a state of affairs that will have to last for at least 42 days. The worst part is knowing that, no matter how careful I am, the stitches might come out anyway.

I’m enclosing some pictures of myself in my get-up. The black thing is my sling, and it comes with a thick pad that holds it several inches away from my body. The blue thing is a bladder that I have to fill with ice water several times a day. I wear the sling and the bladder all the time. The cooler is what the ice water stays in. I don’t always carry it in my hand as if I’m so stoned on narcotics that I think I’m in a cave holding a lantern.

You will note that I look like an axe murderer who is trying to pass himself off as a friendly sort of regular guy. That is because Peggy made me smile. If Peggy didn't make me smile, I would look quite handsome, but Peggy hates me and wants me to look ridiculous, so every time she takes my picture, she insists that I smile. I always say that I don’t want to smile, but she makes funny faces and silly noises until I do, and it is then that she takes my picture. People with cameras have been doing this shit to me for sixty years, and I hope they all fall down the shaft of the mine that I’m exploring with my lantern.

The hand-carved bowl on the wall was my Granny’s dough bowl that she received as a wedding gift on Sand Mountain in Alabama in 1896. It's made of the wood of the Tulip Tree. At a little under 200 feet, the Tulip Tree is the largest tree in the eastern U.S. and is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. It also grows where planted here in the Willamette Valley. I’ll enclose a photo of its leaves and flowers.