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Invalid Admissions

November 28, 2015

I admit it: I am tired of being on my back, tired of hurting, tired of being helpless.
I’m tired of feeling a bit groggy. Reading takes extra focus and often the words remain blurry. Despite this, I spent time working remotely this evening in an effort to combat feelings of uselessness. While I can’t go into the office, I can at least do some of my job from my invalid’s bed.
I’m tired of holding my leg up in the air. I do balance my leg against an upended laundry basket, padded with a pillow, but the cast is heavy and my muscles grow weaker without a real workout. I wiggle my toes ever so slightly, just to keep feeling in them.
I’m tired of balancing a dish on my sternum and dropping food scraps onto my neck. Eating has especially been a challenge today; no doubt the delicious turkey soup my husband made with leftovers was a poor choice of foodstuffs to consume while on my back.
I’m tired of the effort required to safely remove myself from my perch on top of the bed, to swing my legs ever-so-carefully down over the edge, and to hop on one foot to the bathroom. By the time I reach my destination, my foot and ankle are throbbing from the change in elevation. These trips are as short as I can possibly make them, because the doctor impressed upon me the need for elevating my ankle to keep the swelling to a minimum and the dangers of the wound draining from the incision sites. I’m trying to balance the need for hydration with the need to avoid unnecessary time out of the stranded turtle position (and just like when we go camping, I tend to sway over the dehydration line).
I’m tired of being in pain. Our first night at home post-surgery, my husband waited for me to wake up to offer pain medication, and the first half of the night it worked very well — but then I slept from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. and paid dearly for those 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. He held me while I whimpered and wept in pain for nearly an hour, waiting for the medication to reach its highest effect. Since that miserable experience, he has been living by the clock, setting an alarm to go off every 2 hours and then carefully handing me a 2mg tablet of Dilaudid. This system keeps me from falling into the abyss of misery, but I am in no way pain-free. I suppose that a small amount of pain will keep me from forgetting the seriousness of my situation.

According to the dictionary, the word invalid — /ˈinvələd/ — used as a noun, can mean “a person made weak or disabled by illness or injury.” In this case, I am an invalid wife, and my husband is tasked with caring for my every need. Like many other people, I do not like being in this helpless position. My lack of independence grates against my pride and the way I would prefer to look at myself. But there is another way of using the word invalid, one with a different pronunciation — /inˈvaləd/ — used as an adjective, which means “not valid” and void, null and void, unenforceable, not binding, illegitimate, and/or inapplicable. True, this meaning usually applies itself to legal documents (“the law was invalid”) but as I am held captive by my predicament, and mostly useless to my family and society, the irony of the same-spelled word is not lost on me.

Dahlia, Calamity Shane, websized

“Calamity Shane” dahlia  —   photo taken September 2015

It was a dark and stormy night…

November 27, 2015


Invalid selfie

First, there was the near-total destruction of my left ankle. The doctor said I broke every bone possible, and then some…

CT scan image, left ankle, webshare

CT Scan of my broken left ankle

downed trees, damaged cars

Then there was the record-breaking windstorm that swept through my town and took out our power for 8 long nights and days.

windstorm damaged house Nov. 2015, websized

A house a few blocks away from my own home. This one is a total loss.

DSCN2298  first snow webshare

And then it snowed…

I am so grateful to have a gas-powered hot water heater (we had hot showers!) and a gas stove cooktop, and a wood stove. It was still cold in my bedroom but the main part of the house was almost pleasantly warm and my live-in nurse brought me tea each morning.

Sleeping during the power outage
This is how I slept in my chilly 48° (9°C) bedroom.  I had to keep my ankle elevated higher than my heart or my nose, and I didn’t want to bump it at all — it was still broken, still shattered, and being held still in a temporary cast — so I slept on top of the bed with additional blankets.

“Keep your hand at ankle above the level of your eyes nose.”

Since we still had hot water — and trust me, I know how precious that was! — I was able to shower very carefully while in my temporary cast.
[click on pics for captions]

Our power came back on while I was in the hospital post-surgery. SuperDad brought me home on Thanksgiving Day.  Just a few minutes after settling me in, my in-laws came through the front door. They came to my room to visit with me and then they went back out to the kitchen and took over preparations for the big Thanksgiving meal.

Post-surgery, ankle cast and normal right foot  4x6

So this is my life for the next few weeks: elevation and scheduled doses of pain medications.  There’s quite a bit of hardware in that ankle:

K's left ankle x-ray, webshare


What are your plans for the weekend and coming weeks?


The best laid plans…

November 15, 2015

On Friday morning, I wrote this:

Too busy laughing over Jen’s post to make decisions here… and when I’m done wiping the tears of mirth from my eyes, I will be freaking out over the impending panic that it is almost Christmas and I haven’t thought about it at all.  Instead of worrying, I’m going to go take a walk.

It’s still fall, right? It’s still fall…

puddle of denial (Christmas is coming)

PUDDLE OF DENIAL  (Christmas is coming)

So here’s the thing: aside from the time-wasting gained by looking through those daily catalog giggles (no offense intended, Jen — I enjoy doing it, too) the mail drop does include the ticking of the Christmas countdown clock — something I have been ignoring for the past few months. My mind has been otherwise focused. I’ve been all “BABY IS COMING! BABY IS COMING! I’M GOING TO BE A GRANDMA!!”  with a due-date of December first, but I suspect that the rest of the family is more concerned about Christmas.

Or maybe not. Perhaps they have been focused on cross-country meets and driving, or work, or college finals?

It’s possible that my husband is hoping I’ll shop for and cook the Thanksgiving dinner.

Meanwhile, I’ve been sewing and quilting and checking yard sales for a chest of drawers that will be the right size to top with a changing pad. Christmas, what? Do I still have time to make gifts? I’d better check my Pinterest boards…


And then on Friday afternoon, as I prepared to go on a walk with the dog (much like the photo above), I tripped, slipped, and fell in the kitchen. No sign of cuts or bruises anywhere on my body except for this:

Both legs are stretched out straight, and both feet should be pointed in same direction... but one of these things is NOT like the other...

Both legs are stretched out straight, and both feet should be pointed in same direction… but one of these things is NOT like the other…

The above photo was taken in the ER prior to the four attempts at “reduction” for my dislocated ankle. I’m glad to say that (finally!) the 4th time did the trick. However, the X-rays show that I’ve broken my left ankle in three (3) places.  I’ve been home since 9pm on Friday, faithfully taking Percocet every four hours, and hopping on my right foot behind a walker.  Why yes, I did have a spare walker in my garage, a yard sale find from a few months ago. But what I really need now is a wheelchair. Because hopping on one foot is neither a secure nor smart way to get around.

Monday morning, SuperDad and I will be contacting my primary care manager (PCM) and the orthopaedic surgeon to get the ball rolling on the rest of story.

The rest of the story probably does not include my shopping for or cooking Thanksgiving dinner. It is doubtful that I will be driving myself anywhere for the remainder of 2015. Details of work are about to get a little lot more interesting; unless a minor miracle occurs, I cannot be there tomorrow to prepare for a monthly meeting nor do I expect to make it in to the office for the rest of the week.  As you may recall, I am an office of one without a replacement. Helpful documentation has been squigly since the burglary 4 months ago with changed passwords and procedures that are not all written down for such an emergency.

And I am desperately clinging to hope that the rest of the story will include being present for the birth of my first grandchild.

Working ahead and falling behind

November 13, 2015
  1. Last weekend I was on a quilting retreat. It was a lovely time with a great deal of sewing and very little sleep.  I managed to have two pajama days this week to recover and to attempt to stave off a threatening sore throat.  I can’t take the time to be sick! 
  2. Two = the number of flannel receiving blankets I made, start to finish (I washed the flannel beforehand).  Those are a gift for a friend’s granddaughter.  I’ve got quite a few more in the queue because they make great gifts, and I wanted to have some on-hand, already made, for those times when I am too busy to sew.
  3. The big project is not yet completed, but I did finish the quilt top and back for the grandson we are expecting within the next 4 or 5 weeks.  I still need to finish preparing material for binding and then assemble the parts all together. I may end up tying this quilt, the way I did back in the 20th Century when I made simpler baby quilts (the only sewing was the prepared satin binding). In this case, the quilt top pattern does not lend itself to machine quilting, so it looks like tying it all together with love is the way to go.
  4. Four is the number of months since the burglary happened at work. There has been a growing pile of papers on my desk since the night before that incident (we had a meeting and I left right afterward instead of staying to put things away) — but there hasn’t been time to properly deal with it all. At first, it was just the stack of papers and folders from the meeting, but piles of papers and paperwork beget more papers; they breed like bunnies. In 4 months, it has grown substantially into (I’m guessing here) an hour-long task. I know it is going to take some uninterrupted time that I don’t have in a normal work week, and the sight of it has been bothering me. So yesterday I moved those papers to the counter behind my desk, building upon two smaller piles papers already there. Pretty soon I’ll have an impressive tower.
  5. Five is the number of Christmas cacti in my house (all in one room), and all of them are budding.

What projects have you been working on? 
What is overwhelming you right now?

Red Star Fallen

November 4, 2015

Red Star Fallen

one, then another
leaves drop like gentle snow or
dying universe

Panda Playtime

October 28, 2015

Panda Bamboo 4x6 web-sized

Panda swing 4x6 web-sized

These are just a few of the photos taken at the Chinese Lantern Festival.

Ten on Tuesday: solo travel edition

October 27, 2015
tags: ,

DSCN1449 web-sized palm tree, Tucson, Arizona

  1. I’m back from a weekend visit with my dad in Arizona.
  2. As nice as 85 degrees feels in late October, especially when I’m looking up at palm leaves ruffling in the breeze, I’m glad to return to wearing sweaters.
  3. Phoenix Sky Harbor airport is not appropriately air-conditioned — especially for this middle-aged woman. The only time I felt cool enough was when I was standing in front of a giant fan while I was being patted down for security.
  4. Note to future self: do not wear cute tops with bling on them when flying, or you will have to be patted down/around/over/under in front… and in front of many people. (This happened flying both directions because those were the shirts I had brought for the trip.)
  5. Arizona drivers are capital C, capital R, capital A, capital Z, capital Y. That’s right: C-R-A-Z-Y. And I’m not talking about the old, retired folks!  Speeding from red light to red light, weaving around those [very few] of us who are obeying the laws, taking tailgating to a higher level… with all of that going on around me, I had no trouble staying awake while driving. Fear for my safety kept me alert and defensive.
  6. Kia Soul is a great car for a 5’10” woman. It also handles really well on Rollercoaster Road in Tucson. However, I never did figure out how to adjust the balance/fade for the speakers. (What’s with that? Those controls are obvious and intuitive on my Kia Sedona.) 
  7. When playing “Go Fish” with Dad, who has Parkinson’s, it’s best to look away while he rifles through his cards and to pretend that he has never played the game in his entire life. (He has, but he doesn’t remember it and it would be sad to remind him of this.)
  8. Happy hour at the hotel isn’t much fun when I’m alone, although I’m not sure if this is because I’m not there for fun or because I don’t have a friend/spouse with me — or is it because I am getting old? I only had one of my two free beverages each night.  Eating alone is best done with a book, but if it wasn’t for the need for nutrition, I would probably skip the entire event.
  9. Sometimes, it’s awfully nice to have a king-sized bed and ALL the pillows. I didn’t wake up with sore arms or sore shoulders or a sore back.
  10. While I need my alone-time on a daily basis, I also need to spend time interacting with other people. After 48 hours of being on my own — and with none of my hobbies available — I found myself becoming rather bored.

Now it’s your turn… 
Do you ever travel alone? Do you enjoy it? 


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