Awaken… Grieve… Act…

The prophet Micah tells us, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

Yesterday, the President of the United States of America decided he wanted a photo taken of himself holding a Bible in front of an historic church in Washington, D.C. 
Yesterday, people were legally and peacefully protesting when they were attacked by tear gas and rubber bullets, and they were pushed back by armored bodies. Clergy, who were at that church to assist those peaceful and legal protesters, were also pushed away from that church. No permission was asked, no warnings were given.

Should we remind ourselves WHY people were protesting? Brutality. The careless taking of a man’s life by a law enforcement officer while his fellow police officers did nothing to stop him. George Floyd is one man in a long line of people – black men in particular – who have died because they were perceived to be unworthy of justice. He wasn’t the first man in police custody who cried out that he couldn’t breathe while the very people we hire to PROTECT US become murderers.

Yesterday, the President of the United States of America decided he wanted a photo taken of himself holding a Bible in front of an historic church in Washington, D.C., and he wanted it before the mayor’s curfew began, so he gave an order – or a series of orders – that sent armored policing forces into battle using chemical weapons and rubber bullets against innocent American citizens. Are we supposed to be grateful that the bullets were made of hard rubber instead of steel?

The current President of the United States of America is a bully who likes to talk about being tough and using force. Rather than speaking words to calm hot tempers, he stirs the embers of hatred. He sows division instead of sewing us into a united people.

My heart is broken by the years of racist actions and policies in this country and by the realization that I have benefited from this even if only in small ways. I don’t fear the law enforcement officer stopping me for a traffic infraction. I didn’t worry when my sons were growing up and learning to drive that they would be seen as suspicious individuals. Oh, by that point in time I was aware that mothers of black and brown boys had those worries; it saddened me and angered me, but it wasn’t a burden I carried every day until the day it happened to a family I knew and loved. At that point my friends’ burden became my burden, too.

Yesterday, the President of the United States of America decided he wanted a photo taken of himself holding a Bible in front of an historic church in Washington, D.C., so without regard for anyone or anything else, he used his power to bully his way across the street and take what he wanted. Innocent people were hurt. He held up a book that contains God’s commandments to make himself look good.  But inside that book are these words:

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”

Thwarted Plans

The Scout left after dinner yesterday to embark upon some social isolation hiking. We knew the state parks were closed, but he was very surprised when he got to his planned starting point and discovered this:

The article I read this afternoon tells me that over 7 MILLION ACRES have been closed — and that’s just in our state. My heart breaks for my son. Hiking is one of the few things he can do; he’s spent much of the past several years in his room, socially isolating because of Post Concussion Syndrome.
Yes, I know we’re supposed to be staying home due to the novel coronavirus and the dangers of COVID-19, and except for “essential” trips away from the house, that is what we are doing. Yesterday I drove him to two different medical appointments; I stayed in the car with my phone and a book while he went in to meet with those new-to-him doctors (all part of trying to find a way to heal from PCS). The doctors have no answers. They cannot explain why The Scout had 6 weeks of reprieve from his symptoms (chronic headache and cognitive impairment) after 3 months of hiking on the PCT last year. Since they have no answers, hiking again is his best chance for regaining his healthy self. Frankly, I see his solo hiking as somewhat essential for his mental and physical health. I do not begrudge him the chance to try again for that relief. He’s already changed plans twice this spring due to park closures (state and national) and the realization that he would be unwelcome visiting small towns for resupply.

I’ll leave you with this picture of him playing in the ocean with his brother 12 years ago on a mostly deserted Virginia beach (because, like today, it was cold and blustery), when no one but a hardy few were willing to get outside and experience the power of nature.

Back? Thankful Thursday

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.shut up liver, you're fine

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.

It’s been a few months…

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.img_20191212_1033329432

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!

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Nine Weeks and More

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.

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Little Foot and Chomper 

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. Air Force, Tom

 

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.   

 

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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?

Handsome 4

 

Three Years Later

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.

Hart's Pass

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.

It’s been a while…

…so why not a Ten on Tuesday post?

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
    Bella and Beast, Olympic Peninsula, May 2019
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Ankle surgery, take 2

ankle fusion surgery

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?

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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.