This is my bullet journal

  1. Three years ago today was when I misstepped, broke my ankle three different ways, and propelled myself into a new trajectory of life.  So… crappy breakiversary to me!
  2. I noticed new/different pain about 7 months into my metal-infused life, so I called the clinic. My surgeon had moved; his replacement told me it was too soon to do anything about removing metal (true) and the placement of all pins, plates, and screws was still in perfect form. The proof was in the X-ray. Tramadol is not my friend, so I was left with tears of frustration and chronic pain.
  3. I saw a new orthopedic doctor a few weeks ago. It wasn’t just my imagination that the pain was getting worse! While the metal is still in perfect form (kudos to Dr. M), the cartilage above my heel is nearly useless now, and I have a large bone spur on the front of my ankle.  The new X-ray isn’t pretty so I’ll leave it to your imagination.  Since it’s too soon (according to Dr. B) to talk ankle replacement, I’ve been cast for a serious ankle brace.
  4. Dr. B told me the metal was only about 15% of my pain; the rest is being caused by the grinding of the bones together. I’m trusting that he’s right about this and that the ankle brace will bring about relief by holding things in place.
  5. I’m obviously now a woman of a certain age and at least half of my topics of conversation are about health concerns.  If you take cholesterol medication, that can raise your blood sugar readings, which might then take you from pre- or borderline diabetes into Type 2.  And if you are stressed in the clinic, your blood pressure will be elevated; if you take BP readings at home with a smaller-than-you-need cuff, you will get false high readings, and then you end up on BP medication as well. Or maybe they’re not so false because this chronic pain is pretty stressful.  It’s the middle aged version of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.
  6.  I’ve been trying out a new class at the YMCA.  They use some of the same exercises but it takes place in the lap pool instead of the therapy (warm, 4′ deep) pool. In this new-to-me class, we strap on pool jogging belts and utilize deep water. Standing on a pool noodle in 10 feet of water as if it was a skateboard is a balancing act I can barely manage. I’m getting a better (harder) workout but my ankle is pretty much DONE for the day after this class.  Leaving my job was supposed to get me to the pool more often, and that does seem to be showing success.
  7. October was my first month of being retired (or should I just say “not working”?) but I kept quite busy.  I started the month with a 4-day crafting retreat up north, then had one day at home to do laundry and pack before SuperDad and I drove off for a 2-week trip by ourselves. We visited misty geysers at Yellowstone National Park in the cold for a few days, then headed for Utah’s Dead Horse Point State Park. The weather there was sunny and cold during the daytime; the skies at night were amazing with a visible Milky Way.  I had thought my tent camping days were behind me, but I was wrong. (For trailer news, check out this previous post.)
    The rest of the trip was warmer: we spent several days in Tucson to visit my dad before driving home via Las Vegas. It was really nice to not be in a big hurry to drive home before school started back up; my pain level ratchets up during long car rides despite keeping my ankle elevated, so an 11-hour drive in one day is excruciating.
  8. Las Vegas is much more enjoyable on a Thursday evening without impressionable children than it was on a Friday evening during spring break with the kids! Or perhaps The Strip has tamed down a bit?  We don’t gamble, so this was all about seeing the lights and some of the amazing scenes. Walking through the Venetian, it’s easy to forget you are indoors.  We stayed in a simple place about a 10-minute walk off The Strip so it was fairly quiet.
  9. The annual quilting retreat closed out October and brought me into November. I didn’t get as much accomplished as I had hoped, since I had to take regular breaks to elevate my foot/ankle, but I am close to being done with the quilt for Chomper. Next up: squaring (trimming) the sides and sewing on the binding. I’ll be able to finish it before Christmas.
  10. One of the things I’ve discovered about not going to work most days of the week is that I am often clueless when it comes to knowing what day it is! When I was a SAHM, I knew each day because it was my job to know it; the kids had activities and school buses to catch, and SuperDad had long hours being gone for work. With us both at home and 3 young men coming and going all the time, I lose track of days of the week — at least Monday through Friday. One thing I do know is that Thanksgiving Day here in the USA is coming up in another week. By not fighting pain brain while working, I’ve actually managed to plan the menu, contact those coming to divvy up some of the food assignments, and make a shopping list! This might not seem like a big deal but I recall last year when I had no brain power left for such things.
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Birds and Burns

There’s a mama and baby turkey hanging out in our neighborhood these days, and by neighborhood I mean they mostly seem to be hanging out in our yard — front, back, peering in the windows, basically whatever they feel like doing.

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The first time I looked out the window at the mama turkey looking in at me was a bit startling but we’re getting used to seeing them daily now that it’s been about a month. Junior has grown quite a bit since I took these photos. My DIL who loves birds and majored in animal science tells me that turkeys normally have about 5 eggs to hatch, so we don’t know what happened to Junior’s siblings.

As I’ve written before — several times — we have a small wilderness park behind our home. Every year around the 4th of July I get a little tense, worrying about wildfires due to fools and fireworks. Well, this year it happened, more than a week after the holiday, and we’re lucky the fire department arrived quickly. (Personally, we’re lucky it happened on the other end of the street and the wind wasn’t blowing our direction so we didn’t even have to breathe the smoke.) The fire came close to several houses but only one is having to replace siding that melted in the heat of burning trees.

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It could have been so much worse.

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And nature is resilient.

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May all of those who are so terribly affected by the [much, MUCH WORSE] wildfires in other places be shown grace, hope, mercy, and respite from the anxious worries that now consume their thoughts and lives.

 

 

 

 

Two Years Later

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Two years ago on July 3rd, sometime around 6:00 in the evening, The Scout was climbing a tree when some branches broke. He fell twenty-three feet to the ground, landing on his back.

He was alone.

He got up and after several attempts, managed to walk home, grab an ice pack and lay down on the sofa.  He was rather stoic but clearly in pain.  The Barefooter went back to the site of the accident and retrieved his glasses for him.

The CT scans have been clear (no bleeding) and visits with neurology and physical therapy have made very little difference. He has seen an osteopath. He has a new neurologist.

Eagle Scout

The Scout graduated from high school last month, miraculously earning A’s and B’s from the few classes he could manage. We are grateful for his 504 Accommodation and the support and understanding from the school staff, teachers and counselor.  Graduation and finally earning his Eagle Scout rank have been highlights of the past year.

This young man does not give up. He does not complain. He would rather be busy and doing something rather than sitting around waiting to feel better. He persisted in looking for a part-time job and spent the last weeks of high school doing both school and work.

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This young man wrote a short story for my Mother’s Day gift this year.  With one of his first paychecks, he purchased a nice steak as a Father’s Day gift.  This is who he is. Even without these gifts, we are so grateful to have our son with us.  He’ll be turning 19 years old in a few short weeks.
We keep hoping and praying for positive change and full recovery.

 

We still cling to hope.

It’s prom season.
In fact, tonight is prom for my youngest son’s high school.
He’s not going.
He’s not into loud crowds or loud music or pop culture, but none of his brothers have been either, and two out of three of them did attend prom.  I don’t know if he would have gone had he not fallen out of that tree.

It’s also the season for announcements of which university the high school graduates are heading off to in the fall.  I’ve seen multiple pictures of my friends’ high school seniors proudly holding their acceptance letters and wearing their new college t-shirts. I get a little jealous pang but that doesn’t mean I’m not happy for them. I truly am pleased for the parents and the students.
My youngest son will graduate (thanks to his IEP and his hard work) and he plans to attend the local community college in September. We are still hoping that by the time he has two years of CC under his belt, he will be recovered enough to go on to a full university.  But there are no promises. I know it, his dad knows it, and I’m pretty sure he knows it.

We still cling to hope.

I have to keep reminding myself that we are so very lucky to have him as whole as he is, despite the constant headache and the times his brain refuses to function properly for him.
Dear God, I am grateful.
At the same time, though, I sometimes grieve for what he has lost.

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This is the air I breathe…

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SuperDad told me that he has hazy vision. Despite the knowledge that his vision is still a little wonky (hopefully from the pain medications he is taking), I knew that he was talking about looking out the window this morning. We cannot see far in this smoke-filled air. My drive to work includes a vista of downtown but today there were no buildings to be seen, only gray-white nothingness obscuring the horizon.  During the day there is a yellowish diffused light, more yellow than our 9.6% sunshine during the eclipse but fairly close to the strength of light we had at the height of it.

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Looking up at the sun through smoky skies

For an hour or two after sunrise and the hour or two before sunset, the lighting hue is pinkish-orange.

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“Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” reddish-pink sunrise, compliments of the fires all over the Pacific Northwest

Our air quality index last night was a horrifying 303 = Hazardous. Today it was hovering at around 245 = Very Unhealthy.  Everyone who ventures outdoors has a sore throat, and disposable masks are seen on people behind steering wheels or walking; I saw the mailman wearing one when I looked out my window at work.

And yes, I went back to work today. SuperDad continues to improve (his hamstrings are the largest source of pain now, so we’re hopeful that he is nearing the end of needing pain medication) and while my brain is not fully functional, I’ve had 5 nights at home in my own bed and am making headway on those 10 nights of hospital-induced sleep deficit.

 

 

August

Charles Dickens could sum up the month of August in one phrase, but I owe you more than that.  For now, here is a summary of our most significant events…

Dh told me to cancel all commitments for a weekend and we escaped to the cool WA coast (high of 69 degrees) in the midst of a 100 degree week here at home. Cold ocean waters numb ankle pain and there is nothing quite like sitting in a beach chair, watching the waves and letting the wind whip your mind clear of stress and worries. Sometimes I wish I lived at the beach. There are photos to share in another post.
We paused to pick blueberries on the way home, and I regret that I did not pull out the camera. The bushes were laden with ripe berries and the hardest part was stopping when our bag was full, because there were so many more berries to be picked.

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Dh again told me to cancel all commitments on August 21st but not in so many words and not for an escape to the coast. That morning during the eclipse, he suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage. He never hit his head, never blacked out, but sudden intense pain was not a good thing and even though he didn’t present typical stroke signs like you would see with a brain aneurysm,  he knew where he needed to go. If you ever suddenly find yourself with the worst headache of your entire life, get thee to the ER immediately! In his case, SuperDad had been exercising with a CrossFit maneuver — jumping rope with “double-unders” — and apparently tore a vein in his brain.  The brain bleed was diagnosed by CT scan at the ER, and the staff began making arrangements to transfer him to a neurological ICU; however, there were no open beds in this specialty in our area. Instead, we found ourselves on a Life Flight to Seattle and ten nights at Swedish Medical Center, with 8 of those nights in the Neuro Critical Care Unit. (Fun times. NOT.)  Honestly, I lost count of the number of CT scans, although I’m sure our insurance will be getting a detailed account for billing purposes.  Two angiograms. One MRI. Daily Doppler ultrasounds to track blood flow changes while on vasospasm watch.
When the high danger of repeated incidents passed, we were sent upstairs to a neuro floor (not ICU) for our 2 final nights of the 10-night stay. While there his medications were adjusted so he could go home (no more IV rescue meds for pain control). We were able to return home on the last day of August.

How anyone goes through such an event without incredible support from others — support in really tangible ways, like deliveries of food and clothing, toiletries and prescription medications for the caregiver (me); support in less tangible ways, such as prayer; the downright drudgery support in making sure pets at home are fed and watered, garbage and recycling cans dragged to the curb — I will never be able to understand how anyone possibly do well in recovery and healing without that support on many levels.  I didn’t even consider work, aside from letting people know what was happening; others took care of getting the job done in my absence. Family and friends ensured that we had what we needed, including the 5+ hour ride home. There was no way I was in any shape to drive, not withstanding the fact that we’d ridden in a small plane to Seattle ten days before.

At this point, the headaches have lessened as the blood has been moved away from the hemorrhage site. Thanks to efficient cerebral spinal fluid, his lower back, hips, and hamstrings are tight and painful (blood anywhere it shouldn’t be causes nerves to freak out) but this also tells us we are nearing the end of needing pain medications.  Once he’s off the pain meds, we hope the brain processing and vision issues clear up. (I had this experience while on strong pain medications a few years ago.)  His prognosis is very, very good. If you have to have blood in your brain, this was the very best option: no aneurysm, no clots, no visible damage via scans.

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In other news, our PCT hiker is now in his final section of the trail (the penultimate section for those who have the time to go all the way to the end) and I expect to be able to pick him up next weekend. We saw H-J nearly every day while in the hospital; he is content with work while waiting for his final 2 classes to be offered in the spring. School started on Thursday when The Scout began his senior year (no first day photo because he was here and his parents were in Seattle at the hospital). His head still hurts after 14 months; he’s currently undergoing a series of acupuncture treatments.
Since it is fire season, our air is tinged (and sometimes filled) with smoke and the light is filtered through the haze.  I cannot see the hills in the distance this afternoon; we are enveloped in a white cloud of smoke.
I return to work tomorrow, although I may be splitting my time between the office and home (via my laptop). I’m grateful for that flexibility.

Your long-overdue update, or: “At least I’m not 241 years old.”

This evening marks exactly one year since my youngest son fell 23 feet out of a tree and landed on his back. He still suffers from post concussion syndrome, with an inability to focus and function for very long — or sometimes at all — and the same headache he’s had since he fell is still present.  The Scout turns 18 and therefore will age out of scouting before the end of the month.  His Eagle Scout project was completed last summer; however, he has limited ability to work and there is much “paperwork” (computer work) still to be done to achieve the rank of Eagle.  He has already had so many disappointments over the past twelve months, so many things he’s had to give up and no end in sight with his PCS, that I really want this honor for him to carry forward for the rest of his life.  It would be a bright spot in his craptastic year.  His senior year of high school is yet to come.

Humorous-Juniorous had landed his dream job at one of the university laboratories a few months ago, only to lose it due to immaturity. Showing up on time, asking questions and communicating are important skills to learn. He’s now working at a cafe, because understandably he was not hired by another lab boss — and food, rent, and utilities still need to be paid for on a regular basis.  H-J is coming home this weekend for a short visit and a large extended family get-together, so at least we will get to see him for the first time since Christmas.

In answer to our consistent pestering about applying for a job, The Barefooter announced to us less than 2 weeks ago that he had decided to go hike the Pacific Crest Trail north from southern Oregon. His original plan was to leave last Thursday but then I reminded him of the aforementioned family get-together (based upon a wedding) so he’s now leaving on Sunday.  True to form, The Barefooter is not yet prepared for this venture but committed to going because once he gets an idea, he is tenacious.  I shake my head and bite my tongue often. He tells us that he’s taking 2 months to hike as far north as possible before getting off the trail on September 10th (the day before his 25th birthday) and then switching his studies from horticulture to firefighting.

IMAG0529_1The Engineer and The Author continue with their jobs and the fine work of parenting Little Foot, who is now one-and-a-half years old. SuperDad and I visited them a few weeks ago (I had him playing in the sprinkler and his clothes were drying on the deck when I took this picture) and they will be coming here this weekend for the wedding/extended family extravaganza.  I’ve already told Little Foot‘s mama that if they want to stay and dance after dinner, I’ll take this sweet boy home with me. Grandmothers with bum ankles do not do much dancing but they do enjoy playing and cuddling with babies. No doubt his uncle The Scout will also be ready to go home early.

If you had heard, yet doubted, that Pokémon GO is an exercise app, I can assure you that is correct information. Not only do I see and talk with folks who would otherwise be holed up indoors out in front of the building at work (our site is a Pokémon gym), I am married to a level 35 trainer. SuperDad continues to need additional calories to ensure that he does not lose weight from all of the exercise he gets running, biking, rollerblading, and more. He also does the majority of our shopping and food preparation; basically, SuperDad has been the glue holding us together.  And I need someone to hold me together these days. There’s an unquantifiable toll on a mother’s heart as she can do nothing but watch as her (17yo) baby suffers or her adult children make mistakes. It doesn’t help when the prescription for antidepressants runs out prior to a holiday weekend and the regular pharmacy claims they cannot get it. (In truth, someone higher up has chosen to not obtain it; Rite-Aid pharmacy has come to my rescue with the very medication I need although it requires additional hoops and jumping through them without medication helping my chemically-challenged brain is… well, challenging.) As for the ankle, nothing has changed: it swells with use and weather patterns. I try to exercise in the pool several days a week for strength and balance, and I adjust my activities to match my capabilities.  Some days that translates to sitting on the sofa with my feet up.

As I look back over my writing tonight, I note that it lacks cheeriness and for that I apologize. It’s hard to be cheerful without my usual dosage of antidepressants, especially when anxious over a few of the circumstances described above. The biblical mandate to be anxious for nothing and pray about everything doesn’t always get me through. Tomorrow should be better thanks to the “emergency” dispensation of 3 days worth of pills from the nice pharmacy up the road — enough to tide me over until they can speak with my doctor and get the renewed prescription into their files. And baby snuggles, which always improve my mood and general outlook on life, are a planned part of my weekend.

Happy birthday to the United States of America. May the temper-tantrum toddler days soon be behind us all.

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Let there be light!

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The groundhog saw his shadow today. Frankly, I didn’t need Punxsutawney Phil to tell me anything — the flamingos have been doing a pretty good job of letting us know what’s up around here, and it isn’t the temperature!

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The Scout had his MRI last week and we’re still waiting for the results. (SuperDad has put a call in to the doctor.)  Honestly, I’ll be surprised if it tells us anything at all. I have to keep reminding myself that he had a really horrid fall and it’s going to take more time to recover. It was encouraging last week to hear his teachers tell of seeing “more of him” lately, that more often now when he is in class he is managing to have that light on behind his eyes instead of a glazed-over look.

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After a weekend of low stress and winter camping — where he felt relatively good and hardly needed extra rest time at all — he figured out that the anxiety over trying to accomplish all of his schoolwork is stressing his system. So on Monday when he went to school, The Scout met with his guidance counselor (the same one who helped us get the 504 Accommodation Plan set in place) and requested that he be allowed to drop two of his classes — Spanish 2 and Calculus. Bless her, she worked to make that happen. He has been able to attend school every day this week because he has some built-in “down time” where he can catch up on assignments or take a break in a quiet alcove or even take a nap in the nurse’s office.

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Having my teenager engage in conversation with us is a blessing that I cannot take for granted. When the pain in his head (which he describes as “a hot iron pressing against my skull”) subsides enough to let him be his normal cheerful self, with a sense of humor and light in his eyes, I know how lucky we are.

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Riding into the Sunset

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.

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I drive myself about our own city, but for trips beyond that I ride in the back seat with my foot elevated.

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This explains the presence of a rearview mirror and The Barefooter’s glasses.

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The photos here aren’t of great quality but the sunset sky was amazing that evening.

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Tomorrow my dh and I are taking a day trip to visit Little Foot and his parents. This Oma needs some baby hugs!

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Check out more Pink Saturday pictures at How Sweet the Sound.

Icy Feathered Hope

We’ve been in a deep freeze. Weather changes are coming, I can feel it in my hardware.
The Resident Teen also suffers, but there is no rhyme or known reason for when his setbacks occur.   dscn1517-cropped-macro-4x6

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
by Emily Dickinson
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