Updated: Jul 31, 2019
Regardless of how much we prepare or attempt to maintain control of life's circumstances, the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, Robert Burns, 1785. My original intention was to spend December, January, and February developing a business plan for a UV consulting company, designing a logo and website, and registering the entity. The new company, Eminence UV, was meant to launch in February 2019 with a website, www.eminenceuv.com; a technical paper, State of UV LED Curing Applications; and a March conference presentation, When it Comes to UV LED, Most Overlook the Big Ideas… These activities were to be followed by several collaborative projects with various companies in the UV curing industry. The discussions were happening. Meetings were planned. The flights and hotels were booked. Everything was on track until suddenly…all that had been planned was unavoidably disrupted.
Looking back over the previous year, I should have taken what I thought were minor medical symptoms more seriously. I spent much of 2018 dealing with minor sciatic pain. It was annoying for sure, but it was also completely manageable and wasn’t interfering with any of my normal activities. So, like may of us do when we are busy, I ignored it. In early December 2018, exactly 12 months after my first sciatic issues, I started experiencing low back pain that I simply attributed to lifting something incorrectly or straining myself during a workout. On December 30th, I was staying with a friend in northern Georgia and woke up completely unable to bend my back. I stretched through it, took some Advil, and went for a relatively easy hike through the mountains. The hike made me feel better, and I figured that the issue would resolve itself. On January 3rd, the day I was flying home, I awoke with both sciatic pain and an inability to place my left foot flat on the ground. It was as if my entire left leg had shrunk over night and was now shorter than my right. While I wasn’t in much pain, something clearly wasn’t right.
Despite no recent injuries or health issues, I suddenly found myself hunched over with an inability to straighten my back. It became increasingly harder to walk and stand without unbearable leg pain, and nothing I did made it go away. Even sitting, sleeping, and basic care became nearly impossible. I spent two months getting progressively worse and canceling work meetings, business trips, and personal engagements one-by-one. A dozen rounds of physical therapy and two epidural steroid injections one month apart provided only temporary relief and did very little to address my issues. Surgery quickly became the only option.
The diagnosis was an out-of-alignment vertebra and corresponding bend in my spine both stemming from a stress fracture during 8th grade volleyball and basketball, a recently collapsed vertebra, and a severely herniated disc. No matter how hard I tried, I could not stand straight and tall. The disc pressure on my sciatic nerve was so great that it was causing potentially permanent damage and inhibiting my ability to walk. While it was a dreadful and extremely painful combination of issues, the severity of each came on so quickly and so severely that the decision to have surgery was easily made.
I am blessed to have wonderful family and friends who were able to provide care and assistance, access to great doctors and surgeons at both Northwestern Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic, and a sufficient savings that allowed me to take the necessary time off work to treat the issue and heal. In March at the Cleveland Clinic I had my herniated disc removed and a lumbar fusion of my L4 and L5 vertebrae. My neurosurgeon, Dr. Vorster, was wonderful, and I’m grateful that the procedure he and his team performed was a success. I was able to stand straight and tall within a few hours of surgery and no longer have any sciatic nerve pain. The recovery period following surgery is four to six months and is the reason I have been lying low. It’s my back after all, and I only have the one. So, I am dutifully following doctor’s orders and taking it easy as my body heals.
Because of my back issues, I did a very soft launch of Eminence UV in February and have spent the past few months continuing work on the website, papers, and presentations; re-writing the UV LED Handbook; developing training materials; and reconnecting by phone, email, and LinkedIn to many of you in the industry. It’s been a nice way to keep busy while recovering. Both the February UV+EB Technology paper as well as the March Big Ideas slide deck can be downloaded from the Eminence UV website. On June 3rd, I was finally able to speak at SPE’s TopCon & IMDA Symposium in Franklin, TN. The title of my paper was UV LED for IML, IMD & Plastics Decoration - Competing Today While Preparing for Tomorrow. The slide deck is also downloadable. I am now working full days from home and have begun some travel which will ultimately resume in full by mid to late August.
I don’t generally broadcast personal information, and my life's details are not meant to be the purpose of this blog. I just thought it a fitting place to start as I basically disappeared without notice, and many of you have been wondering what happened. My intention is to use this blog to post my perspectives every two weeks on UV curing topics that I find interesting and worthy of further comment. These will include technical concepts, market trends, applications, the general economy, leadership, and regulatory issues. Please reference the website often and feel free to email topics you would like covered. The website is meant to be a technical and commercial resource for everyone in the curing industry.
I am grateful to all of you who have reached out to me by text, email, and phone; sent care packages; and even made personal visits. I am also thankful to RadTech for letting me pre-record my March presentation since I was unable to attend the Big Ideas conference. You have all been wonderful for my spirit and have helped me stay connected to the industry. I am truly blessed to have you in my life.
I am now more than three months post back surgery and 90% recovered from the procedure. I am healthy, getting stronger every day, and very much on the mend. I’m also finally making my way back into the UV curing industry after this brief and completely unplanned hiatus. I’m available most days, so please don’t hesitate to contact me. Please explore the new website, and be sure to check back in two weeks for the next blog posting. 😊