On Friday we will be taking our youngest son in for testing and evaluation to see if his continuing brain issues from his fall in 2016 qualify as TBI and disability benefits. It’s definitely NOT “just a headache.”
Since becoming fully ambulatory, I’ve been back to aqua fitness classes at the YMCA. I can’t manage some of the moves because my left ankle is permanently at a 90-degree angle; things like squatting, standing on tiptoes, pointing toes, and jumping just don’t happen but I do what I can. And since walking is an exercise I enjoy, I’ve also been glad to have a modified shoe with a rocker-bottom that simulates the bending my ankle cannot accomplish. My neighbor saw me walking today and was surprised to see that I wasn’t limping. I guess the shoe works!
At aqua fitness yesterday, a few of us asked the instructor about additional ways to strengthen our cores. She then modeled several and we tried them out. Apparently I was too enthusiastic with one of them because by the time I had showered and dressed after the class ended, my back was sending pain messages — the kind of pain messages that increased from the parking lot to my own garage. Thankfully, I had a current Rx for a muscle relaxer (ankle fusion and leg spasms are a fun mix); a single pill plus two glasses of water and an ice pack later, I was no longer quite so bad off — at least as long as the medication was still working. Bedtime routine included additional fluids (not just water), 1000mg of Tylenol and a Benedryl to help me fall asleep.
Today was a rest day, but I can carefully bend over to put on socks and shoes so I took a walk through the neighborhood. Tomorrow I plan to gingerly return to the pool, taking care to not strain or pull that back muscle again. Yeowch!
I think I know what maneuver did me the disservice of pulling a muscle, so I’ll be avoiding that one.
The writing bug appeared to have moved out and left me to my own devices — and apparently my own devices involve ignoring my blog. Sorry about that (she says in a Canadian accent).
So let’s see: when I last visited with you, The Scout was still hiking– he’s home now. I don’t want to reveal too much for those who will be getting the Christmas letter (you know, the one that hasn’t been written yet), but he hiked about 1,500 miles before deciding he “was good with that” and came home via Greyhound. His 3+ year headache had gone away! Wonderful! Unfortunately, it returned in early November along with the return of decreased brain function the following week. As I type this out, he’s having a difficult day. So we’re back to square one, making appointments with neurology.
Humorous-Juniorous joined the Air Force and spent summer and autumn at Officer Training School. It was such a good course, he did it twice. (He’s very lucky.) We flew down to the southland twice as well: the first time to hit up most of the Civil Rights memorials and museums, and the second time for graduation. SuperDad commissioned him as a brand-new 2d Lt. just last week. Since then, H-J has been spending time on airplanes, getting a flight physical, and reporting to his new duty station. He should be home for Christmas.
The Barefooter has been working for the US Forest Service but that temporary job will soon run out of hours. He likes it well enough — he’s getting paid to walk through the woods (with a vest filled with paint cartridges and measuring equipment in order to mark trees for thinning) — and his schedule has been 2 weeks of steady, daily work in a distant location followed by a week at home. He’s been sent to a variety of places: South Dakota, Colorado, Oregon, and Arkansas.
It’s been six months + 2 weeks since my ankle fusion. The procedure worked very well and seems to have cut my pain by about 50% which is the best outcome I had been able to expect, so I’m pleased with it. Unfortunately, I’m already developing arthritis in the first two foot joints downrange from the fused ankle joint. This is to be expected over time (8-20 years) but I might be an overachiever who is going for the “under a decade” mark before those joints also need fusing. Still… I’ve been able to withstand doing more each day that I could during the past year. My goal is to spend 1.5 to 2 hours in the therapy (exercise) pool, three times each week. That time is more beneficial and enjoyable than sitting for hours on airplanes.
Five days from right now is Christmas Eve, filled with family and church, candles and choir, excited children and tired adults. Hopefully we’ll get the traditional family picture taken while we’re dressed up and looking spiffy. I might have already written the Christmas letter and sent it out early if we’d managed to get that picture taken after my dad’s memorial service in May (but who am I kidding? — I still wouldn’t have those envelopes addressed). Per usual, I am not ready for Christmas. Also per usual, Christmas is coming whether I am ready or not!
May your holidays be sweet and filled with love, and may your time management skills fly high above my own!
It’s been nine weeks since ankle fusion surgery. Unlike my searching at this point after the original ankle repair surgery, I have been unable to find any blog posts from others about this fun experience. I did find some trusted medical sites that gave much of the same information I already knew along with some research that tells me that in approximately 20 years time, I will likely be suffering from severe arthritis in my foot because the pressure relieved by fusing the ankle will be transferred to other places. Oh, joy. And also? Oh, well! I put this surgery off for as long as I could, and here I am — basically in less pain now than I was prior to surgery, despite not being able to walk. I’m hopeful, in a desperate sort of way, that this really-and-truly works. I need it to work.
Our oldest son and his little family came to visit on Tuesday night. The mama and daddy went to see Les Miserables while Oma and Opa babysat. We are so blessed to have them less than 80 miles away, and we had a terrific time with the kiddos (and their parents on Wednesday morning). The Engineer‘s company had purchased the tickets nearly a year ago, so they had really good seats.
The Barefooter has been working 15 days on, 6 days off for the US Forest Service as a timber cruiser (not barefoot). We only see him when he comes home for his time off and Colorado has been keeping him busy, so I don’t have a photo to share. He was home for the week of his next-in-line brother’s last week here, which was nice for both of them.
Humorous-Juniorous began his USAF career last week and is currently in Alabama for Officer Training School (OTS). He has been able to send us a few e-mail messages to let us know things are going well.
The Scout, who is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, southbound (PCT, SoBo) has completed the Washington State section and is well into Oregon by now. He called us last Friday from Cascade Locks and met up with extended family near Timberline Lodge. Hooray for safety, family, food, shower, and clean clothes!
Basically, our family has become a far-flung entity while I’ve been stuck at home. I know the latter is only temporary and the former is perfectly normal. And yet… Facebook memories keep popping of from 10 years ago when we all lived together. They were so cute and young and living at home then! But birdies grow up and fly away from the nest, don’t they?
As I write this, it’s been 3 years and 3 hours since The Scout fell 23 feet from a broken branch to the hard ground beneath. Miraculously, he wasn’t killed instantly and while we don’t know if he only blacked out from having the wind knocked out of him or if he was unconscious for more than that brief time, he did manage to get up and walk home with great effort. His back held the greatest pain felt at first, but the wicked headache made itself known within 36 hours; with no other name to give it, his symptoms have been labeled as post-concussion syndrome and he lives with chronic headache untouched by medication (we tried) somewhere around a level of 4 out of 10 on the pain scale (on a good day). He graduated from high school more than a year ago and we are grateful that we did not have to fight for appropriate accommodations — a stellar scholastic reputation prior to his injury and compassionate staff made a big difference. Since then he has worked part-time, spending the best hours he can give to his employer during the busy season and enjoying occasional good days with family and friends. But like all of us, he wanted something more; unlike many of us, The Scout has made that something more happen.
Last week he began hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
His first 30 miles were spent hiking north to the Canadian border — the northern terminus of the PCT — and from there he turned around and headed south. If all goes well, he plans to hike all the way to the southern terminus of the PCT at the Mexican border.
…so why not a Ten on Tuesday post?
- Dad died at the end of March. In April we took our already-planned trip to Tucson, which felt odd because we weren’t there to visit him anymore. SuperDad and I, along with my younger brother and his wife, were at the assisted living facility for a small celebration of life (which was very nice) with the residents and staff.
- All 9 of us were here for Easter. The Barefooter and I sang with the choir (it was my last hurrah with them for a while because of travel plans when I am actually able to travel again).
- Little Foot stayed with us the week after Easter while his Mama and baby brother, Chomper, returned home for the week and Daddy went on a business trip. We love having him with us and he had a great time burning through the energy reserves of every single adult in the house. Little Foot, Oma, and Opa shared their first night of sleeping in the trailer. He loved it!
- The Barefooter was briefly in the news for his determination to run the annual 12km race in his usual form: barefoot. He’s run it 5 times in the past 6 years, always barefoot.
- I enjoyed my annual K2A weekend with two friends in an area with a lot of wineries. We’re slowing down and making it to fewer wineries in our advancing ages (ha!) but still had a great time together. Another friend joined us on Saturday which was a real treat.
- Dad’s memorial service was a weekend filled with family. The celebration of life was held at the church where I grew up and most of us stayed in one house together. Had everyone slept in that house, there would have been 20 of us! Those 20 people are my dad’s children, their offspring, and spouses. The weather was perfect: not too hot, not too rainy. Bonus: we all still like each other.
- After another 5 days at home, SuperDad and I left on our first big trek with the trailer. We spent 8 nights camping (9 days on the road). Success! It was also quite the learning experience. Have you ever tried to back a truck and trailer? Pull-through sites are much easier than back-in sites.
- We returned home on Sunday, June 2nd. After helping to unload the trailer on Sunday afternoon/evening, I had a pain day on Monday — meaning I got very, very little done.
- Ankle fusion surgery was on June 5th. The surgery itself lasted about an hour and a half; we were home before noon. Since then I’ve been confined to lying on the top of my bed, ankle elevated, with the exception of using the bathroom (that is accomplished by holding onto a walker and hopping with my “good” foot). On Thursday morning I have an appointment to (hopefully) remove stitches and get a new cast. My skin looks forward to 15 minutes of air time.
- There are a lot of changes happening for the young adults living in our house, but they deserve a post of their own. Of course, blogging about family members includes considering what is mine to tell vs. what is their own stories.
Twelve days ago I had ankle fusion surgery, adding to the long saga of my trimalleolar fracture back in November of 2015. When I finally took myself to a new orthopedic doctor last fall, I was told the metal in my ankle was perfectly wonderful, doing its job, and was likely only 15% of my pain. That was the good news; the bad news was that my cartilage in my ankle was basically destroyed and the pain was from bone-on-bone rubbing… scraping… grinding…
So! I’m spending the minimum 2 weeks with this view (above and below) and the rest of the summer off my foot/ankle/lower leg. Once released from constantly elevating my ankle I have a knee scooter to use, along with my trusty yard sale walker and an old wheelchair. But no walking allowed for three months! Let’s get this ankle thoroughly fused and let go of some chronic pain, shall we?
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
It could have been so much worse.
And nature is resilient.
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 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.
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.
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.