Woodworking For Therapy

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Blog series by Steve Kreins updated 03-25-2015 07:01 AM 27 parts 50413 reads 280 comments total

Part 1: Live or Waste Away, I choose to Live

12-10-2013 03:39 PM by Steve Kreins | 22 comments »

I have decided to chronicle my woodworking journey as part of my therapy and boy do I need it! I am 65 years old, a husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and a disabled Vietnam Veteran. Oh yea, I’m also a Pastor of a Christian Church here in Waco, Texas. You’d think I had plenty to keep me active. So why would I want to add “Woodworker” to my titles? It’s simple, I have Liver Cancer and PTSD from Vietnam. Agent Orange isn’t so good for the liver. I ...

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Part 2: WOW! Fast results!

12-12-2013 01:09 PM by Steve Kreins | 17 comments »

A week ago I had to take a nap every afternoon and spent much of my day sitting on my butt reading, watching TV and surfing the net. Zero energy had become my new normal. Oh, I had a legitimate excuse, ”Well, I have cancer. What do you expect?” Then my wife bought me a miter saw and suggested woodworking. Wow! I never would have thought this would have a such a fast positive effect on my energy and mental well being! I joined LJ, got some great advice right away, and some very enc...

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Part 3: Woodworking to Lower Blood Pressure?

12-14-2013 07:35 PM by Steve Kreins | 7 comments »

The VA Doctors put me on blood pressure medicine a few years ago. It has a couple of undesirable side effects. Guess what? I checked my blood pressure and it was significantly down! I wont throw the pills away just yet, but I’ll keep checking it and talk to my Quack, ah I mean Doctor. Do you think the happiness of woodworking, reduced stress, moving around more and simply having fun might be the reason my pressure is down? I’m a Happy Camper! Woodworking, the new Wonder Drug?

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12-16-2013 02:04 AM by Steve Kreins | 4 comments »

Just this weekend I learned several new things about woodworking. It’s been a blessing for this old dog to learn new tricks. I don’t have anyone here to give me hands on lessons, so I’m counting on my new friends here at LJ. I bet you would like to know what I learned. Glad you asked, now laugh if you want, because I like making people smile. #1 I learned that my circular saw doesn’t make 90 degree cuts, because it was off by about 10 degrees. I figured that of I...

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Part 5: Learning By Mistakes

12-26-2013 03:06 AM by Steve Kreins | 7 comments »

This past week I learned a great deal from my mistakes. I’m glad I have a good scrap pile. Some of the things I learned were, while making practice cuts, with my new compound miter saw. First the laser guide is handy, but not accurate. I tried to find an adjustment but there isn’t one. It’s slightly off by different amounts depending on the angle of the cut. I learned that if I eye ball with the tip of the blade, with the saw not running, both at the front and rear of the...

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Part 6: The Physical Aspects of Woodworking

12-28-2013 03:23 PM by Steve Kreins | 9 comments »

I’ve mentioned the emotional and psychological aspects of woodworking for me as I battle liver cancer, but let my share what I have noticed about the Physical Benefits. I was diagnosed two years ago and I have had surgery to remove part of my liver, RFA (radio frequency ablation) which burns out new tumors, and now I’m going onto Nexavar, which is an oral chemo therapy to slow down the growth of new tumors (nasty stuff). All this being said, I’m one pooped Papa! BEFORE Be...

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Part 7: How You Make Me Feel

01-07-2014 03:04 PM by Steve Kreins | 3 comments »

I have been working on my shop, doing little projects, learning how to use (and not use) my new tools, every day for a month now. I have had days when my cancer said, ‘No you wont make saw dust today”, but thanks to my wife, my God and my LJ Buddies, I’ve been able to push through and overcome! After being a Christian and Pastor for almost 40 years I am finally understanding how important to have people encouraging you. I understood, but now I REALLY UNDERSTAND! When y...

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Part 8: Chemo Therapy Makes Sawdust Taste Metalic

01-15-2014 11:16 PM by Steve Kreins | 12 comments »

Chemo Therapy Makes Sawdust Taste Metallic, YUK! I don’t mind the food tasting funny because it isn’t going to stay down that long anyway. But I was enjoying the smell and taste of sawdust, I guess I need to wear a dust mask, but that seems to take some of the fun out of woodworking. ;) Seriously, the Nurse Practitioner asked, “Any side effects yet?” I said, “Yea, my sawdust tastes like metal filings.” She said, “I beg your pardon? Sawdust?” I c...

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Part 9: This Can Be Nerve Racking!

01-22-2014 03:13 AM by Steve Kreins | 8 comments »

Well, my chemo is starting to kick me in places I didn’t know I had. I went two days without making any saw dust and that was worse than the side effects of the drugs. Yesterday I couldn’t stand it any longer so I went out to my cave and used my router table for the first time. I made a coat rack for inside the back door where coats usually end up on the sofa. It seemed like a good excuse to do some woodworking to me, even if my wife was yelling at me for not being in bed. It didn...

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Part 10: Woodworking For Pain Relief

01-22-2014 01:42 PM by Steve Kreins | 14 comments »

I hope you all understand that I am not complaining about the pain associated with my liver cancer. The things I write are to ENCOURAGE OTHERS WITH DISABILITIES of all kinds. Let me share what happened this morning. In Part 9, I wrote about my experience with my first glue up and first end grain cutting board. I joked that maybe I’d just sit in my man cave all night and watch the glue dry. Well, I almost did. I went to bed about 9:00 PM. The chemo is making me need a lot of rest, ...

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Part 11: No Saw Dust This Week, But..........

01-31-2014 01:50 AM by Steve Kreins | 8 comments »

Physically this has been a rough week. My Oral Chemo Medicine (which I prefer to call my poison) has kicked my pew warmer pretty hard. Or as we say in Texas, it put a can of whoop butt on me. Actually more like a 55 gallon drum than a can, but…............. like the Apostle Paul said, “I’ve learned to be content in whatever state I find myself in.” Of course Paul had never been to California, but that’s another story. I may not have made any saw dust but woodw...

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02-12-2014 02:38 PM by Steve Kreins | 10 comments »

My Chemo Therapy has been rough, as anyone would understand that has been through it, but one side effect I wasn’t aware of is call ”Chemo Brain”. It’s like my thoughts are trying to push their way through mud. Since I want to encourage people with cancer and other disabilities to try Woodworking for Therapy, I thought a WARNING might be appropriate. We all know that Woodworking can be dangerous and we take precautions to avoid workshop accidents. When you have a di...

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Part 13: Cold Weather Has Some Challenges When Your Sick

03-05-2014 12:19 PM by Steve Kreins | 5 comments »

Cold weather certainly doesn’t help when most of your cutting, sanding and routing has to be done under the patio cover. I know that most of my Buddies on LJs are in worse weather regions than I am, but still, brrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Cold weather also complicates disabilities. The aches and pains are a little worse, some have to stay warm because of medicines or treatments and generally when you have a disability such as cancer, your immune system is compromised. SO PLEASE, BE CAREFUL, I P...

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Part 14: I Guess Your Stuck With Me For A While Longer

03-18-2014 05:13 PM by Steve Kreins | 13 comments »

I went to my Radiologist yesterday and had a follow up MRI. Good news! My three currently active liver tumors haven’t grown any in four months and I am strong enough for a procedure they didn’t think they would be able to do. So I guess you guys are stuck with me for a while longer! The procedure is called a Arterial Chemo Embolization. They go in through both leg arteries into my liver and target the tumors with massive doses of Chemo Therapy. The reason they can do this is be...

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04-19-2014 11:20 PM by Steve Kreins | 15 comments »

Disclaimer: If you are offended by my references to my Christian Faith, PLEASE DO NOT READ ANY OF MY POSTS. THANK YOU. I have a brand new Work Shop being built for me. I’ll tell you about it in a minute, but first….... I figured it was time for an update on my blog. I’ve been busy this week finishing a few projects before I go into the hospital Tuesday. I also prefabbed a few pieces for a box that I might feel like working on when I get home. The Radiologist is goi...

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Part 16: Modify Projects To Fit Your Limitations

04-23-2014 03:06 PM by Steve Kreins | 9 comments »

Yesterday I had a serious procedure done at the hospital, They went through an artery in my leg, up into my liver and blasted a bunch of tumors with undiluted chemo drugs. They also found many more smaller tumors so I get to have it done again in a few weeks. This is seriously going to cause me to rethink some of my projects for safety and just common sense. The pergola is out for now, as is some fence work. I need to limit my standing by about 90%. So last night I was looking at some of m...

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Part 17: A Week Without Woodworking Makes One Weak

04-28-2014 05:51 AM by Steve Kreins | 12 comments »

Tomorrow will be the seventh day since my not so good surgery for Chemo Embolization of my liver. They lied to me 1. You’ll be asleep and 2. You wont remember a thing. I was awake and remember everything. Today I actually got to eat something and hold it down. Tomorrow I’m going to make some sawdust even if I just cut some scrap! I knew that Woodworking For Therapy was helping, but I had no idea how much! I sat at my workbench and remeasured and remarked the same piece of wo...

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05-22-2014 02:25 AM by Steve Kreins | 8 comments »

Anxiety is something none of us like to admit we have from time to time. That could be because we don’t recognize it or understand it. Sometimes it comes out in the form of an angry outburst and we think, “Where did that come from?” It probably came from something your anxious about and don’t even realize it. Tomorrow morning I go into the hospital for my second Arterial Chemo Embolization. I had this done just four weeks ago and it was difficult to recover from. Us...

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Part 19: Back In The Starting Blocks

06-12-2014 04:09 PM by Steve Kreins | 6 comments »

I thought it was time for an update for my fellow LJs. I’m mostly recovered from my second chemo embolization May 22. It was faster than last time, however I’m now back on my oral chemo therapy. No rest for the wicked I guess. However, I am back to making saw dust! Praise the Lord! I want to thank ALL of you for a gift you may not know you gave me. Several weeks ago I received a package in the mail with a beautiful box and the following note from an anonymous source. 5/27/20...

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Part 20: I'm Back!

09-02-2014 03:23 PM by Steve Kreins | 19 comments »

Thank you all so much for your love, prayers and encouragement! I had a TIA (Mini Stroke). I don’t remember much except when they were taking me out of the house on a back board I remember seeing my table saw. It was really sad. My table saw also survived so all is well! I received many wonderful cards of encouragement and that was BEFORE I had the stroke. Did you guys know something I didn’t? ;) Today my goal is too sweep up some sawdust and try a few hours of TLC on my sho...

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Part 21: No I Didn't Die!

09-24-2014 05:59 AM by Steve Kreins | 16 comments »

I know a few of you were waiting for an invitation to my funeral. Sorry, but you’ll have to find another excuse to have a party. ;) I have been getting back into making saw dust over the past couple of weeks and I think I’m actually back among the living (living Lumber Jocks that is). I found a new place here in Waco to eat,Jake’s on Austin Ave. It’s great! Maybe I can gain back some of that 90 pounds I’ve lost. I also think the food at Jake’s is kil...

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Part 22: Life Is Full Of Storms and Sawdust!

10-13-2014 11:18 PM by Steve Kreins | 7 comments »

Well, last week we had one heck of a storm here in Waco! We suffered some damage, broken limbs, scratches to the cars and a wall damaged on my tiny shop. The wall is patched, the tree debris is cleared away and I found most of my sand paper and other stuff that wasn’t secured well. What the storm reminded me of is that we face all sorts of unexpected storms in life and usually panic at first glance. The damage seems overwhelming and we think nothing will ever be the same. The truth ...

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Part 23: Woodworkers Fighting Cancer - Yes, You Can Help!

10-31-2014 02:27 PM by Steve Kreins | 5 comments »

Since this post in the Coffee Lounge got zero, zip, nada response, I thought I’d place it in a blog post. Come on guys! You can build one of these toy boxes in a few hours! It’s a great cause and it hits close to home for me! A year ago when I started woodworking I was disappointed that I missed the Annual Woodworkers Fighting Cancer Fund Raiser. I really didn’t expect to have a chance to actually participate this year, but here I am, thank God. For each entry, corporate...

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11-23-2014 01:01 AM by Steve Kreins | 14 comments »

Jim Rochester posted a project titled” “The Hardest Project I've Ever Had to make.” It is a box for his Dad’s remains who just passed away. I can understand how hard that would be. I am thankful that Jim shared his loss and his project. It reminded me that I have a few things left to do for my family before this cancer gets the best of me. It has metastasized and is now in my abdomen and lungs, so like Jim, I don’t have a lot of time to finish up some project...

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Part 25: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

12-28-2014 02:26 PM by Steve Kreins | 9 comments »

Well, this is embarrassing. There is a saying I usually go by, ”Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.” After starting “My Box” I went to a local funeral home and found out the dimensions required for a cremation urn. Yep, too small. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Hopefully the friend I’ll give the box to wont find out it was suppose to be my final resting place. ;) I just wanted to give an update to my Buddies. The last surgery I had several weeks ago really ...

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02-25-2015 08:24 PM by Steve Kreins | 12 comments »

RUMORS OF MY DEMISE WERE SOMEWHAT EXAGGERATED when a friend of mine recently said, “No seriously! They said your were dead!” Apparently a Veteran’s Group I used to attend just figured I kicked the bucket and told my friend I was dead. I don’t think this is true, but I am asking for a second opinion. I wanted to give an update to my LJ friends. Woodworking is still my therapy of choice. The problem right now is one of energy and safety. My cancer has gotten much w...

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03-25-2015 07:01 AM by Steve Kreins | 9 comments »

I’ve been accepted for clinical trials of a new chemo therapy drug at UT Southwestern Cancer Center in Dallas. Judy and I will spend half of each month in Dallas and a couple of weeks back home recovering. The plan is to continue this schedule for 3 to 6 months and see if it helps. To me the biggest down side is that the doctors don’t want me doing any woodworking. Bummer! I will be prone to infections and a simple cut could require a trip to the ER. So as usual I am depending ...

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