Our old pup looks so young here!
He’s old but still enjoying life.
Our old pup looks so young here!
He’s old but still enjoying life.
Two weeks ago we loaded up men and beast (and me) and drove several hours for a weekend celebration of my dear mother-in-law’s 80th birthday.
I drive myself about our own city, but for trips beyond that I ride in the back seat with my foot elevated.
This explains the presence of a rearview mirror and The Barefooter’s glasses.
The photos here aren’t of great quality but the sunset sky was amazing that evening.
Tomorrow my dh and I are taking a day trip to visit Little Foot and his parents. This Oma needs some baby hugs!
Check out more Pink Saturday pictures at How Sweet the Sound.
Last Tuesday afternoon found us at the neurology department for a follow-up visit for The Scout. We didn’t know it at the time, but he was starting a week of misery despite taking it easy for two weeks over the school winter holiday.
“Concussion recovery is not linear” …yada yada yada. I get it. But let’s look for something more, shall we? Because at this point, it’s been SIX MONTHS. (This is why I came along, to light a few proverbial fires.) We left with promises of an MRI and a back X-ray.
Yesterday I took The Scout in for his physical (a requirement for these new exams) and we were able to get the X-rays while we were at the clinic. It’s slightly entertaining to see the faces of medical professionals when they hear that this teenager fell 23 feet onto his back. He landed inches away from a rock poking up out of the ground (we live near jagged basalt formations) and not far from broken tree stumps. He’s a walking miracle, and I am infinitely grateful. By the time we slogged through the snowy roads and settled in again at home, SuperDad had been called with the results from the radiologist. (That was fast!)
So, those X-ray results: at some point in the past — six months ago? Ten years ago? No one knows — this boy had a broken back. It’s fairly high up, where he hasn’t had any distinct pain (?!?) and not where he says he landed, but it’s definitely a break that healed over. My jaw might have dropped.
It’s a clue without being an answer. His lower back gets stiff when he’s sat for too long and when he first gets up in the morning, but he hasn’t had back pain since July. Crazy.
Now we await the insurance approval and MRI appointment. In the meantime, the medication prescribed by neurology for nighttime has been doubled (let’s try it, why not?) and we’ve been trying a triple-whammy for bad days: Tylenol plus ibuprofen plus aspirin. Sometimes we sneak a little caffeine in there (hey, it works for my headaches).
There’s no rhyme or reason, no pattern for his bad days vs. good days. Activity can be a link but it’s not causal. Sometimes he’s in pain, sometimes it’s just an inability to concentrate or focus, and sometimes he’s fine.
This week has been a much better week for The Scout. He woke up early and hopped in the shower on Monday morning before 6:00 a.m. Unfortunately, school was canceled on Monday due to our weather situation (a rarity here) so he didn’t get to take advantage of a truly good day for his recovering body. He went to class today, and even went to karate this evening; he can’t do much there, but at least he can keep up on his kata.
Not to let the teenager get all the medical attention, I went to the dentist this morning. In an effort to stave off periodontal disease, I underwent a deep cleaning on the right side of my mouth. Since it is painful process (hello, below-the-gum-line scouring), Novocaine is given…and given. Apparently I don’t numb easily. The hygienist lost count after 9 pokes, but we’re pretty sure it was around 13 injections. I’m a bit sore this evening. Lucky me, I get to go back in a few weeks for the left side of my mouth. (That will also be a work day, with the fun of answering the phone while swollen like a chipmunk .)
It looks like January is the month for appointments around here.
Maybe I’ll even finally get my colonoscopy, but I’m not holding my breath about that one — the office still hasn’t called me back. Perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to be done with antibiotic oral rinses before cleaning out the other end of the digestive cycle. Getting older is not for wimps.
If you’ve read this far, you deserve a treat. Related to none of the above, here’s a cute picture of Little Foot on Christmas Eve.
I’m traveling home this afternoon, back to a place where there are four definite seasons. All this Arizona sunshine is lovely but I’m finding it difficult to believe it is late October when the days reach 96 degrees and the warm nights are filled with the sound of crickets. I miss my husband, my home, and — let’s be honest here — my internet connection. For this visit I stayed with my stepmother at her retirement center, which was lovely and quiet (and much cheaper than a hotel room); however, she does not have WiFi because she does not have a computer. Luckily, there is a strong WiFi connection at my dad’s place where I’ve managed to use the internet for his enjoyment, sharing photos, videos and podcasts while also briefly checking my own sites. Thanks to my daughter-in-law’s use of Facebook, I was able to go to her “timeline” and share the video of the baby learning to crawl with great-grandpa.
File this under “Proof that opposites attract”
My dad and his wife have been married for 31 years. She keeps the TV channel firmly set on Faux “News” (thankfully not at high volume, so I can “tune it out” pretty easily) where a certain so-called political candidate is nearly deified while his opponent is put down in various ways. Meanwhile, in his room at the assisted living facility, my dad watches PBS NewsHour on the telly. He is having no trouble deciding for whom to vote for President, although some of the local candidates give him pause. It made me glad that he is still mentally “all there” and that I was able to deliver my dad’s absentee ballot to him (his wife sent it with me when I drove in for my visit on Saturday). Like many conservative voters, she still does not know for whom she will vote for President — neither candidate pleases her — despite her steady diet of F-news. This election is going to have interesting results in many areas.
Two busy weeks of work are ahead of me, bookended by busy weekends filled with travel and activities. If it wasn’t for travel time, I’d be having trouble switching from one mode to the other.
My dad chose to retire far from family and is now in an Assisted Living home. I’m visiting him in Arizona this weekend, something I do twice a year. One of the things we do together is look at photos on my laptop computer. He gets to travel vicariously through my pictures and today you do, too.
The Seattle Space Needle reflected in a gazing ball outdoors in the Chihuly Glass Garden.
Back in August, SuperDad and I met up with son#3 in Seattle for a day of playing tourist. Visiting Chihuly Garden and Glass had been on my wishlist for a long time and I love the pictures I was able to take there.
These beautiful glass sculptures are the artwork of Dale Chihuly. As such, I cannot use the photographs I have taken and sell them on cards at the farmers’ market.
I’ve got over 250 photographs from my time at Chihuly Garden and Glass. Not all of them are great, but I’ll attempt to do a better job of sharing the best of them with you. If I can’t sell them, at least I can share the beauty, right?
How do you decide what to share and what to keep to yourself? Are there any rules you wish you could break?
Was it just 2 weeks ago I was nursing sore toes on my right foot? Apparently my left foot was jealous because in my sleep I somehow managed to jam or pull or otherwise bruise/sprain the littlest toe on my left foot (my FULF as Barb so succinctly puts it) prior to waking up on Wednesday morning. It’s too ugly to show you a picture, but I can assure you it’s really purple and coordinates nicely with my purple nail polish. (Maybe I do need to take a picture?) And yes, it hurts.
It’s all adding insult to injury since I’ve also been having additional ankle pain — this time on my outer left ankle. The current suspicion is that the hardware on that side (one long plate, 6 screws) is somehow irritating the more natural parts of me.
I did manage to get out and about last weekend, putting at least 800 miles on the minivan (124,000 and counting) all by myself. My ankle truly hates me for all of that driving. (I’ve been hating my ankle lately, so the feeling is mutual) On Friday I drove to Seattle for a quick visit with H-J. I got to see the lab where he is working this summer and I took him out to dinner at Ivar’s on Lake Union. It was one of those nights that makes a person love Seattle even if it is crowded: so many boats out on the lake full of happy people, beautiful weather, drawbridges allowing passage for the larger boats, evening glow on the buildings downtown. After dropping my university student off at his place (college students, please don’t leave your dirty dishes in your room… science experiments belong in the laboratory!) I drove to my friend Annie’s house for 2 nights to celebrate her 50th birthday and recent home purchase. This was the most relaxing part of the weekend, with little to do but a bit of cleaning, cutting up vegetables, drinking wine, and chatting with old friends while elevating my FULF.
Is it wrong to high-five friends over mutually crummy injuries? We must be getting old. Next we’ll be talking about fiber supplements! Oh, wait…
Sunday morning I slept in a bit, then packed up and drove back across the state, but not home — instead I drove to spend 2 nights with The Author and Little Foot. No new pictures because Mama was getting allergy testing done on Monday morning, baby was feverish and couldn’t go to daycare, and Daddy was out of town at a conference in another state. LF’s other grandma was able to come on Monday afternoon and stay for the week, so she’s still there now. It’s no fun to have a sick baby but the timing is great. The Author works for the university and it would be difficult to take time off right now as they are gearing up for fall courses.
Tuesday morning I dropped my DIL off at work (hello, $15 per day parking? No, thank you!) and drove 90 minutes
back home straight to work for me, too — only to discover I had left my lanyard with work keys at home. SuperDad to the rescue! He brought my work keys and my lunch to me. I was very grateful. He also went to the store and purchased several gallons of ice cream for the neighborhood block watch party held in our driveway that evening. I had enough time between the end of my work day and the start of the party to ice and elevate for 45 minutes on my bed. My ankle hates me and was badly swollen all day.
I’ve made an appointment (first one I could get, at the earliest time available) for August 18th. I’m hoping for some answers as to why I’m having “new” pain 8 months after surgery. By the time I see my PCM, it will be more than 9 months since injury. Did I mention that my ankle hates me?
It’s hot here this week, hitting the low 90s, but at least I don’t have to drive 8 hours in an un-air-conditioned truck to the other side of the state and back, nor am I spending my week with hundreds of teenage boys. Why yes, it is scout camp week.
Of course, without the person who wakes up at 0430 to open windows and switch on the whole-house exhaust fan, our house isn’t very cool in the mornings since we don’t have central air conditioning. It’s all about windows and fans.
I should probably back up a little and show a few pictures from a little over a week ago, when we all gathered together at the home of my husband’s parents. My father-in-law was having his 80th birthday party.
In the past, there have been many times when I have disliked (or even hated) pictures of me. But now that I’m a grandma? Any picture of Oma with her sweet boy is a good picture in my eyes.
I tried to not be a baby hog, although I don’t know if I succeeded in that endeavor.
I did, however, succeed in jamming my toes into a chair at work last Thursday. Luckily, this is my “good” foot so it isn’t as painful as it could have been.
Just when I thought it would be too quiet around here, The Engineer, The Author, and Little Foot stopped in for a quick visit overnight between a holiday at the lake with friends and heading back to their own home. I could never get too much time with this boy.
Confession: I enjoy time with his parents, too!
For the curious, Little Foot is now 7.5 months old. No teeth have popped through those gums, but he loves to eat whatever we are eating. He continues to be a happy, snuggly baby — much like his father was 25 years ago. I am so lucky and blessed to have them only 80 miles away.
At 17, The Scout does not want a birthday cake or even a birthday pie! This is because he decided back in January to kick excess sugar out of his diet.** He is leaving in a few hours for a week of Boy Scout camp, so this morning I made him an omelet with sauteed fresh vegetables for his birthday breakfast.
Last weekend at his grandparents’ house, where we were celebrating his grandfather’s 80th birthday, The Scout and his brothers H-J and The Barefooter each made their own veggie omelets for breakfast. They are no strangers to presentation value, garnishing with an artistic squiggle of ketchup and sides of sliced melon. Extended family was impressed.
A week of scout camp may be a challenge for him as he continues to have headaches, but he tells me that it has improved and no longer feels like someone is pressing a hot iron into his scalp! My resident teenager doesn’t complain — just quietly goes about doing what must be done. I’d worry about him going but SuperDad is his Scoutmaster and, as you may recall, is a retired nurse.
Our house is generally pretty quiet; this week it will be too quiet.
** That’s right, my teenager does not eat candy or cookies or other sweet treats. He eats fresh fruit when he wants something sweet. This is totally his choice, and it fits with his generally healthy lifestyle. If given a choice between whole grain crackers and potato chips of any flavor, he’d choose the crackers. We haven’t had ice cream in the house for more than a month (and even then he wasn’t eating it). I’m proud of him for choosing healthy fuel for his body; at the same time, I’m pretty sure he’s not a normal teenager.
The Scout built a dog barn when Moses came to live with us — a dog house big enough for both boy and beast — but when the weather turned cold, our teen found himself sleeping out there alone; the dog preferred to sleep indoors in front of the pellet stove where it was warm. This was not a surprise to me since at his previous home Moses had also eschewed a dog house.
As our winter turns to spring, warm breezes call me outside and I hobble in answer to their call. However delightful the wind and weather may be (and it is, at least to me), I cannot abide a trashy backyard — which brings us back to the abandoned dog barn, a shelter without a roof since November’s big storm.
This afternoon, The Scout dismantled the remaining walls, threw away the torn and mildewed padding, and piled up the boards.
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. – 1 Corinthians 13:11 New Living Translation (NLT)
Three months ago today, I had surgery for my trimalleolar fracture (compound breakage/shattering of just about everything possible in my ankle joint). I had already spent over 11 days in pain with my left foot/ankle elevated in the effort to reduce the swelling so that the surgical team could go ahead an operate. When we met with the surgeon prior to surgery, he made sure we understood how serious the situation was: worst case scenario, I’d never walk again or severely crippled by arthritis in the ankle. I’m no athlete but I do enjoying hiking and camping, and just being able to walk, so I was pretty motivated to heal well.
Surgery itself was a 5-hour ordeal for which I was sedated and blissfully “sleeping” (best sleep I’d had in weeks!) and all of us — the surgeon, my husband and I — were pleased that all the repairs had been completed in a single event. Swelling problems could have prevented him from working on both sides of my ankle in a single day, but the easier repair was done and sewn up with no trouble, so he went to work on the more difficult portion as well. In the picture below, I’m sure you can tell which side was more complicated to repair!
This X-ray was taken on 25 Nov. 2015 while I was still knocked out for surgery. The last one taken (4 Feb. 2016) shows proper healing but I don’t have a copy of it.
When I was about a month post-surgery, I wanted to know what my recovery would look like and I couldn’t get answers from the doctor. While I understand that everyone is different, I wanted — needed — a timeline for healing. All I found was this blog post, from someone younger, who was at an ideal weight and fitness level prior to her trimalleolar fracture and whose injury resulted in less hardware. While her milestones have been very helpful, I did not have the exact same experiences, so my purpose in posting today is to share what it has been like for me thus far for anyone else with a trimalleolar fracture.
I slipped and fell on my clean, dry kitchen floor on Friday, November 13th. At first we went to the Urgent Care Clinic, in hopes that I’d just dislocated my left ankle. They took an X-ray, wrapped my ankle in gauze and ace bandage, and sent us to the ER. At the ER they shook their heads over the simple bandaging meant to merely stabilize my ankle on a bumpy car ride, took better X-rays, and — after 4 attempts — “reduced” my ankle back into place. That experience was equivalent to the worst labor pains I’d had over four childbirths, in part because I had just spent 3.5 hours without pain relief, and it was just beginning to kick in when they attempted reduction. Emergency surgery on a Friday night is neither wise nor desired when one has an impressive amount of swelling (definitely not made better by the repeated attempts at reduction) so I was sent home with a prescription for Percocet and instructions to call for an orthopaedic appointment on Monday.
The other thing we did on Monday was borrow a wheelchair from a friend. This was how I was transported to appointments. For home use (hopping to the bathroom on one foot), I had an old walker from a yard sale. Thank God for that $3.50 impulse purchase!
We finally saw an orthopaedic surgeon on Thursday, nearly one week post-injury. He told us how serious of an injury I had and noted how badly swollen I still was, so surgery was scheduled for the following Wednesday, November 25th. In the meantime, I was to be on my back with my foot and ankle elevated higher than my heart and nose. An upturned laundry hamper with pillows for padding under my legs did the trick. I continued to take Percocet to take the edge off the constant pain.
I spent one night in the hospital. In part, this was due to such an intensive surgery (5 hours, 2 major incisions – one of which was difficult to close) and we believe it was also decided to keep me there because of our situation at home: we had been without power for 8 nights and 8 days, and there were no promises of when it would be restored. As it happened, the lights came back on around seven o’clock that night, so when we made it home on Thanksgiving day, the house had warmed up to a cozy 68 degrees Fahrenheit. I was on intravenous Dilauded (hydromorphone) while in the hospital and it definitely does suppress a person’s ability to keep breathing while asleep. Hooray for CPAPs!
I was sent home with 2mg Dilauded tablets for pain. Staying on top of the pain was crucial; going too long between dosages would send the pain spiraling out of control, but the side effects of the narcotics were unpleasant.
For the next three weeks, I returned weekly to the doctor’s office for wound checks and to be wrapped up in a fresh cast/splint combination. At 13 days post-surgery, he removed the stitches from the side of the ankle with the simpler repair. He had hoped that both sides would be ready for stitch removal, but I still had significant swelling which worried him. It was another week before the surgical site had completely closed and the remaining stitches could be removed.
At 3 weeks post surgery, with the wound finally closed and stitches removed, I was placed in a CAM boot but was told to put no weight on my foot whatsoever. Believe me, I had no desire to do so! With the closing of the wound and the blessing of the doctor, I could put my foot in a lower position, so I was able to “do” a few things: watch a movie in the living room recliner, attend my son’s band concert in a wheelchair, attend a Christmas party with my husband, and go to church. Those events wore me out physically but helped my mental and emotional state. At least I was no longer limited to visits to the bathroom and visits to the doctor!
I began physical therapy after my 6 week post-op visit. The doctor told me to start bearing weight in my CAM-booted foot as tolerated. He also told me I shouldn’t need the strong pain meds anymore. I’d already cut back quite a bit but now was time to go off them. He explained that it would take up to four days but that my body would begin making its own natural form of opioids once the pharmaceuticals cleared from my system. I’m not sure if that is true, but I wanted to move on. Five days later my system was clear and I was no longer taking pain meds (although I continue to take Tylenol and Ibuprofen for pain) and I began driving myself to PT when the roads were not icy. There are nights that I have trouble sleeping because of pain and/or spasms, but I like the freedom of driving so most nights I suffer until I can fall asleep. For the occasional truly miserable nights, when a cup of chamomile tea, a hot pad for my calf and a frozen bag of peas for my ankle doesn’t relax me or ease the pain enough to allow me to sleep, I take half of one of my remaining Percocet pills from before surgery — but that is always a last resort.
I had hoped the doctor would write a prescription (for insurance purposes) for me to get one of those cool knee scooters. Initially I wasn’t able to use one because of my issues with swelling and the need to keep my left foot elevated. However, once I was allowed to put a little weight on that foot in the CAM boot, he said he wanted me using that foot, not babying it, so I was stuck with using a walker for the month of January. It is a slow mode of transportation. Physical therapy has been very important in teaching me how to walk without limping or injuring my back with overcompensation.
At the beginning of February, one month after my 6-week post-op visit, I saw the doctor for what might be the final time (unless I have future problems with the ankle or the hardware). Fresh X-rays showed that my ankle has healed well and he told me “ditch the old lady walker” and resume life as normal. Easy for him to say! I found the concept of putting weight on my unprotected foot to be terribly frightening. The physical therapist has a much more measured approach. I am walking at home and at PT in bare feet with the walker, learning to put normal amounts of weight on that foot. The rest of the time I wear the CAM boot on my left foot, a hiking boot on my right foot, and use a 4-point cane for stability as needed — particularly for uneven surfaces, curbs, and stairs. I’m still slow but not as slow as I was a month ago when I could barely put any weight on my foot at all. There are times now that I am barefoot in my house and I use the walker to get across the room, then forget to use it to return. This is progress!
I went back to work at the beginning of February. I only work two days per week and spend a good part of the time sitting, or this would have been impossible. However, I still swell up easily and a weekend of babysitting my grandson — with the 90 minute drive each way, the lack of time spent elevating and icing, and the carrying of extra weight — while I was thrilled to spend time with him, I’m still battling painful swelling 4 days after coming home. If it doesn’t go down soon, I’ll be plunging my foot/ankle/leg into contrast baths: a bucket of ice water as long as I can bear it, then a bucket of warm bath water, then a bucket of ice water… Does that sound like fun? It’s my last resort but I may soon be trying it.
I decided to tag/categorize this post as Thankful Thursday because I am aware that, despite the pain and frustration which accompany me on this journey to healing, I am doing so much better than I was led to believe I would be doing. When I first injured my ankle, I thought it would be about 6 weeks before I would be walking again. Denial, much? And yet, when I first met with the surgeon, he warned me that I might never walk again or that I might have crippling arthritis. It’s true that I am regularly hovering at 3-to-4 on my personal pain scale (between 3-and-5 on the scale with bees) and that I often reach 6-to-7 during physical therapy or at the end of a busy day; however, there is an awful lot of hardware inside my ankle. My left ankle is a full inch larger in circumference than my right ankle at this point in time. I hope that is due mostly to swelling and that I don’t continue to rock that steroid look, but I would much rather have a fat ankle than not walk at all. I returned to work ten weeks after surgery and prior to that I was working from home on my laptop. I’m walking in a CAM boot away from home and walking barefoot with ready support at home. That’s a lot of progress! It’s important for me to continually remind myself that I’ve come a long way since injury.