Kevin Neal Life Update, 10/30/2017

Since the end of last month when I sustained my ankle injury, life has been challenging. While I’m very grateful and fortunate because the injury could have been so much more worse, the truth of the matter is that I’m not a very patient person and the disruption to my normal routine has been difficult, to say the least.

I’m very fired up for this upcoming week! Let me start with the highlights first.

I have taken my downtime over the past few days, and weeks, to organize some meetings that I am so much looking forward to this week. Some of these meetings are professional but some are also very personal. I’m looking forward to each of them with equal excitement, yet for extremely different reasons. Most of all I’m so pleased that Brandee will participate in each of them.

Whether by fate, destiny or divine intervention, I have had to lean on Brandee for so many things due to my ankle injury last month. Right now, I cannot do many of the normal things I used to do. Or even if I can do them, it’s at a much slower pace than usual. She just has this uncanny ability to jump right in and get things done without me even asking, or realizing that I needed help in the first place.

In addition to our meetings this week I’ve been doing a lot of educating myself in various disciplines. I’ve always felt that my professional business value, to be very honest, is not that I am necessarily an expert at any one thing in particular.  Rather I have a well-rounded professional background where I can relate to others in a sincere manner. I have professional experience in sales, marketing, customer service, business management, account management, product management, technical and other skills rather than just one particular job responsibility throughout my business career. I have

been very fortunate for this and I’ll never forget some very wise advice Dave Wood gave me many, many years ago. He said, “Kevin, even if you continue working at the same Company, do something different within the company.” I could not agree any more strongly than I could with this great advice from such a terrific person as Dave.

An area of particular focus recently has been digging deep into the setup, configuration and usage of ‘cloud services’. This is a very daunting task as the information is overwhelming, the terminology and services offered are different for each provider and the learning is typically on-your-own instead of some formal classroom style course. This is good and bad. It’s good because you can move at your own pace, which I’m finding really beneficial. However, the learning-curve just to get started is a bit overwhelming. Overall, technology is something I’ve always been interested in so my thirst to learn is genuine and natural.  I’m glad I can apply this to my professional career. This learning I’ve been doing recently should be of great benefit to myself, but most important our partners and clients, in this current era of technology convergence between traditional/on-premise and cloud computing services.

Another thing that has me really fired up is that after several weeks of uncertainty with not knowing about my mobility (or ability to work at all), having to juggle my calendar to re-schedule so many planned activities and having to level-set my personal business strategy; for the first time in weeks, I feel that I have a solid schedule to follow this week. I spent the end of last week, as well as this past weekend, preparing a lot of documentation and discussion materials that should be very useful in our upcoming business meetings this week to have positive and productive outcomes.

Lastly, and most importantly, and I’ll say it once again, I am so grateful for the compassion and kindness of all of you. I have such incredible faith in the decency of humanity. So many of you have been so incredibly supportive of Brandee and I dealing with my injury that we cannot thank you enough. Your kind words, thoughts and prayers are absolutely felt and appreciated. We can only hope to do what little we can to reciprocate for you and your family in some fashion, manner or capacity. At certain times in life you must slow down, reflect, appreciate, regroup and then move-forward, stronger and better than ever.

 

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

Ankle injury – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (September-October 2017)

This is a difficult story for me to tell but in the true spirit of my KevinNeal.com blog I have personally committed to sharing the good, bad and ugly about my life events. This experience has brought a lot of each emotion for certain.

On the early afternoon of Saturday September 23rd, 2017, four of my good friends and I were enjoying the last full night of cabin-camping at a beautiful spot called Camp Layman. We had already been there a few nights, made friends with many of our fellow cabin-camper neighbors and all of us had just started to gather for the communal nightly campfire. It was a delightful night with crisp, yet comfortable, weather and there was just a really relaxed atmosphere.

This was a camp area of roughly 10 or so cabins within the immediate location of the cabin in which we were staying. As the sun was setting and people began to gather around the campfire, the guys and I started to casually toss a football around as we have done many, many times before on these camping trips. It wasn’t anything unusual.

After about 10 or so minutes, one of the guys threw me a pass that was a little bit high so, naturally, I jumped up to catch the pass. It’s amazing how one little action can forever change the direction of your life; just amazing. Anyhow, as you can likely figure out I landed on my right ankle which went one-direction while the rest of my body twisted 180 degrees in just the opposite direction. I immediately hit the ground and was in instant shock. I clearly heard bones breaking in my leg and while I recall every moment because I never lost conscience it was a weird experience, almost like in slow motion.

I knew immediately my leg was in bad shape because my ankle was dangling loose at a 90-degree angle. I don’t recall any major pain, rather what I do recall was that there was no possible way I could move my foot nor put any weight on it whatsoever. It was a strange feeling not to have any control over a certain part of your body which I had never experienced previously.

Honestly, what I was disappointed with most, is that I was going to ruin my friends last night of camping. They rushed me to a little local urgent care facility which took x-rays and confirmed a fracture but were too small, because we were in the wilderness, to do anything such as reset the dislocation or surgery. The doctors and the nurses were extremely nice and comforting to me and my friends in our time of distress nonetheless so I very much appreciate their help. This urgent care facility splinted and wrapped my ankle and we headed back to the cabin for the last, Saturday, night of our trip. Obviously, the rest of the night was spent inside and the guys had a lot of fun making wise-cracks and joking at my expense. Early the next day, on Sunday morning, we made the 4 ½ hours’ drive home. I’m very grateful and appreciative to have such good friends to take care of me when I needed them most. Thanks guys!

 

The Good

I’m going to start this story, and summary, with ‘The Good’ in what has happened. I will summarize ‘The Bad’ and ‘The Ugly’ below because there is enough of that content for a million lifetimes 😊.

Yes, I sustained a major ankle injury on that afternoon of September 23rd that I will surely remember for the rest of my life but this little inconvenience paled in comparison to so many other much more significant world events. For example, the wildfires in Northern California sweeping through the Napa and Sonoma areas has taken 40+ lives and destroyed 5,000+ structures. Or the awful Hurricanes that have ravaged Houston/Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have an ever-lasting impact on those affected. Or even the terrible shooting incident in Las Vegas that took 58 innocent lives. I cannot even imagine the pain of these people so I have no right to complain in the least. Lastly, one of my good friends passed away during the first few days of my injury and I was unable to attend his service. These are all life-events that could be perceived as Bad, but I choose to look at the Good as I feel a renewed spirit of choosing to do right for others.

The Good is that, although I generally see myself as a compassionate person anyhow, I feel an extra sense of motivation to do whatever I can to assist those in need whether it’s volunteering in some capacity, encouraging people to be kinder to each other paying-it-forward to others based on my personal life experience.

Right now, since I’m fairly immobile and home bound for the next few weeks at least, I’m spending my time doing creative writing that I’m sharing on Facebook, blog or e-mail where I try and share positive thoughts and stories in the hopes of doing something simple to brighten someone’s day. It’s therapeutic for me personally and I sincerely hope that if helps someone, anyone, in the least little bit then it’s well worth the time of my investment.

 

The Bad

10/2/2017:  Hello everyone, tomorrow morning is surgery to try and fix my badly damaged ankle.

I have so much confidence in the expert skills, as well as compassionate concern of all the care givers we’ve met over this past week.

Also, I would like to thank all of you, my friends and family on Facebook, for all the well wishes. It truly helps healing.

Tomorrow starts a long road to full recovery that I am seriously looking forward to. My ankle, as is now, would never heal and I knew the second I hit the ground (while still catching the football, of course) that surgery would be required.

I’m so grateful to my friends and fellow campers that jumped into immediate action last Saturday after this happened.

Especially, I cannot imagine how I could have ever imagined getting through this first week without my talented home nurse. Who happens to also be my lovely wife . I have many upcoming days, weeks and months where I have to rely on her and it cannot be easy for her.

UPDATE 10/3/17: Surgery went well according to the doctors. It took much longer than the 2 hours they had planned. After 6+ hours they were done and I am now the proud recipient if 13 screws and 3 plates. The doctor said my ankle just fell apart after the initial incision. I am so grateful for their expert skill and compassion. My pain now is a different kind of pain, which is healing and good. Until this surgery it was just about getting ready for surgery by reducing swelling and that was no good.

 

The Ugly

UPDATE 10/16/2017 from Brandee: Kevin went for his first post-op appointment today. Everything looks great! His swelling is approximately 75% less than it was. His bruising is nothing less than miraculous, the way it has dissipated. His surgeon was very pleased. He has a new full fiberglass ‘short-cast’ with his foot reset at a 90° angle. It’s MUCH lighter and more comfortable for him, than the previous plaster surgical cast. Dan, Kevin’s ‘casting specialist’ , even installed a ‘custom bumper’ so Kevin can use his knee walker more efficiently. These people are amazing!

Kevin has 3 incisions- 38 staples combined, on both the outer and inner ankle. Those will be removed on the 25th. The skin wound he acquired from the dislocation, looks great and is healing. Inside, he has 3 titanium plates, and 14 screws. All of which, are permanent fixtures.

The next 3 months will be focused on healing. He cannot walk on the leg (zero weight bearing), but he has a snazzy knee walker, so everyone, please steer clear. 😀 Month 4-6 will be focused on physical therapy, stretching the tendons, and ligaments to get them back in shape, with the goal of getting his foot back into a regular shoe by month 6.

Kevin and I joke around, because that is just how we choose to meet life’s wrecking balls. However, this is a very serious injury. It’s going to take a lot of patience, commitment and time to get Kevin back to pre-injury condition. We appreciate all the love and support so many of you have bestowed upon us over the past 3 weeks. It’s been invaluable.

We have always lived our life together, and run our business by the same mantra, “Do the next right thing.” This bump in the road will be no different.

 

                         

Photo Note: The semi-circular shapes you see on the outside of the x-ray, are the incision staples.

 

My next major milestone is 10/25/2017 when we return to the hospital and hopefully the surgeon will remove the staples in my ankle.

 

Thanks to everyone for your compassion and kind words.

 

Love,

Brandee and Kevin

Camp Layman, Plumas National Forest, 9/20/17 – 9/24/17

Camp Layman, Plumas National Forest, 9/20/17 – 9/24/17

This year for our annual ‘guys’ camping weekend, the five of us headed up to a new spot we had never camped together previously. It was a gorgeous cabin-camping area called Camp Layman located in the beautiful Plumas National Forest.

The destination of these yearly cabin-camping trips is always different and picked by our fearless leader, Frank-buddy.  I generally don’t pay any sort of attention to where we are going other we will be camping in the Forest somewhere.

 

We generally take a similar route out of San Jose and head Northeast for roughly a 4-hour drive and then the last 1 hour of the drive takes us to our unique destination.  However, on the drive to this year’s cabin as we approached the 4-hour drive time the road became strangely familiar to me. As it turns out, ironically enough, Camp Layman is located just outside of a small town called Graeagle. Graegale is where we host our annual guys weekend golf tournament!

I instantly had a great feeling that the guys and I were going to have a great and fun experience because, having spent so much time in the Graeagle area, I knew the location was nice, the people are extremely friendly and we weren’t so remote that we didn’t have resources such as a locate grocery store, if needed.

 

Upon arrival we were greeted by the extremely friendly camp hosts. They provided us with all the camp information such as the amenities of the cabins, which did NOT include internet service, as well as other things we should know such a communal fire pit and BBQ area. The overall experience at Camp Layman was so wonderful because everything was so clean and taken care of. The camp hosts really encourage these sorts of communal activities and all of the cabins instantly became friends amongst each other.

The cabins themselves are super clean and have everything we need as we were ‘roughing it’. Inside the cabins, they have hot showers, a stove with plenty of dishes, a coffee pot, refrigerator and, for the first time in our cabin-camping experience, some really nice interior decorations. There were several beautifully hand-drawings handing on the walls.

Our cabin was 4-5-person capacity with four beds. So, before you jump to any conclusions about the sleeping arrangements how 5 guys and 4 beds works out, let me just say that, as in every previous year, I just end of sleeping on the couch. I actually prefer this because I like to spend all of my waking time chatting and having a good time with the guys so there generally isn’t much sleeping happening anyway.  Being a couch-dweller enables me to be in the middle of the action at all times.

There were roughly 15-20 total cabins at Camp Layman of various sizes and capacities.  Some looked like they could be 1-2-person cabins and then there was at least one cabin that was 10-12-person capacity. There was a nice little creek that ran out front of each cabin which was a nice little, subtle touch of ambiance.

The guys and I would spend our days hiking, shooting, conversing about politics, sports and family-life. Then each afternoon we would do a delicious BBQ for lunch. One of the other nice things about Camp Layman was that they provided a BBQ grill for each cabin. We always bring our own but it was nice to not have to haul out our BBQ. This was a nice surprise that allowed the campers more time to enjoy each other’s company instead of hauling gear.

In the evening’s each night the five of us would gather at the communal fire pit with our fellow Camp Layman campers and spend some really great time getting to know each other and sharing interesting stories.

 

 

So, in summary, let me please provide my ratings:

 

Location: Cromburg, CA = 8 out of 10 Steeler Stars

Cabin: Camp Layman = 9.5 out of 10 Steeler Stars

Fellow Campers: 5 dudes and 2 dogs = 10 out of 10 Steeler Stars

Food: 9 out of 10 Steeler Stars

Drink: 7 out of 10 Steeler Stars

 

I had a lot of fun guys and I look forward to next year!

Sincerely,

Kevin

Kevin Neal Life Update 6/13/2017

Life in the Neal house has certainly been different since Bella went to Pet Heaven on 4/27/17. Honestly, there is an impossible-to-fill void in our hearts for her.  We are doing our best but our lovely daughter of 15 glorious years is dearly missed.

Bella

Brandee, Jack and I miss our sweetest Bella like you can’t believe. This past month without her feels like it’s been 30 years, instead of 30 days. She was such a great part of our lives for 15 wonderful years that it will take time to adjust, but it’s difficult; to say the least.

It’s really hard to express just how much Bella meant to our family. She was the center of our universe. Bella provided our family such great love and comfort that we miss so badly. We can only hope that we provided such comfort in reciprocity.

We love you baby and are so happy that you are enjoying your time in Pet Heaven at Rainbow Bridge until we meet again.

 

BBQ

Brandee and I kicked off the Summer ’17 BBQ season with a fun-filled event at our home.  We invited some of our close friends and family over for hamburgers, hot dogs and fun.  We all had a lot of fun socializing and watching all the crazy activity going on.  It was a crazy mix of first’s because it was the first time a group of strangers were in the house with our new kitten and new puppy.

 

Jackson

While Jack seems physically healthy, I get a clear feeling that he has become more distant for some reason.  I think part of this is mourning for his beloved sissy, Bella, as maybe he’s still waiting for her to come home and doesn’t understand that she went to Pet Heaven.  Or, and I hate to say it but I’m thinking it none-the-less, the guilt of two new sisters.  Of course, these two new sissies are in no means a replacement for Jack’s beautiful sister but I can share his agony and it’s tough to adjust.

Jack is our best buddy so Brandee and I are doing extra special things to spoil our perfect son.

 

Gracie and Bleu

Our recently adopted 8-month old chiweenie puppy, Gracie, and our 7-week old kitten, Bleu, continue to live their carefree lives as naïve children, which has brought some sense of levity to our home that is badly needed right now.  They have provided a nice distraction as we all adjust together as one big family.

Gracie and Jack seem to be getting along much better as the day’s go by. They play together for hours each day which is certainly good for both of them.  However, weighing out at barely 2 ½ pounds, Bleu, has already taken control of the household.  Jack and Bleu rarely have direct contact, although he does protect Bleu when Gracie gets a bit rough in her playing.  On the other hand, Gracie (puppy) and Bleu (kitten) play with each other nearly non-stop and it’s really funny to witness.  Even though Gracie is small, Bleu is even much smaller at something like a 7:1 ratio, yet Bleu dictates the fight (i.e. play action).

 

Business

From a business perspective, we have transitioned into an exciting time of sincere sales and marketing efforts.  After careful planning, preparation and experienced hypothesis, we have officially introduced a revolutionary cloud-solution. Engaging with technology partners, integration partners and potential end-user clients is what I enjoy greatest so this is the most rewarding part of business to me. Looking forward to a fantastic future.

Jack, Gracie and Bleu updates, 5/28/2017

The last three weeks have been interesting in the Neal household; to say the least.

Jack, Brandee and I had been leading a relatively normal life just enjoying our freedom. And then we got insane! Yep, we rescued a puppy and kitten from the local animal shelter. Meet Gracie (puppy) and Bleu (kitten).

 

Jackson Update

First of all, my best boy, Jackson, deserves the most credit for being the greatest older bubby to his sissies. Jack was actually a younger bubby with Bella – and she trained him well. Now that Jack is the elder animal he has been such a caring and terrific brother to his two new sisters. Jack, Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you that you can’t believe it!

 

Gracie Update

When Brandee and I thought that we want to bring some energy into the Neal household, we got exactly what we wanted with Graciela. She is every bit of what we had hoped and then-some. Gracie loves to play with both Jack and Bleu but in distinctly different fashions which is interesting to observe.

For example, with Bleu (since she is a small 2 lb. kitten), Gracie is very gentle and cuddly when they play together. It’s amazing to watch these two play together especially since they were rescued/adopted from the same animal shelter on the same day.  It’s almost like they have some sense of a kindred-spirit of sisters. However, when Gracie plays with Jack the ruff-ness (pun intended) is intensified to match his strength. Jack and Gracie love to play tug-of-war with various dog-toys we have. It’s so much fun for us humans to watch but also very healthy for them to play nicely for their body and spirit.

Jack has ‘Gracieusly’ (pun intended again) accepted Gracie as his younger sister well. He has been such a good boy that I can’t be prouder of him.

 

Bleu Update

Our youngest family member, at only seven weeks old, is Miss Bleu Neal. Although she barely weighs 2 pounds and is just a bit larger than the palm of your hand, she is the one person that rules our house for sure.

One of the most heartwarming things to see is when Bleu and Jack play together. You might think this would be an odd-mix with a 100-lb. dog and 2-lb. kitten but they play together so nicely that it’s beautiful.

Bleu is also extremely attached to her sister, Miss Graciela Neal. This is clearly evident in their many cuddle events or the often-playful fake-fighting sessions they enjoy together. It’s very humorous and highly entertaining.

 

Fish Update

We have no update other than we are alive and ignored 😊. However, seriously, I love to pay some extra special attention to our two goldfish, two catfish and one algae-eater and they appear to be doing just fine in their large habitat.

 

Thanks for your time reading this notice from the Neal Family Animal Home,

  • The Neal’s