- 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.
SuperDad and I did something yesterday. It’s something we’ve been working up to doing for weeks (him) (for me it had been many, many months) with increasing use of time and brain power. A top choice had been hemmed and hawed over, numbers crunched, and we were finally ready to make the big decision… and then someone else beat us to it.
Disappointed? A bit. But perhaps it wasn’t the right one — after all, we had to think so long and hard about it, trying to decide if it was it.
And then we checked out this one:
It’s not perfect, and it’s not new — but it did check nearly all the boxes* and the price was right. If all goes well, we’ll be bringing it home within the month.
*Counter space was one of the boxes.
**Many thanks to Jaime who walked me through the many steps of trailer shopping, giving much-needed advice — and apologies because I didn’t follow all of it, buying a bunkhouse anyway!
(And you’re probably right. I may regret the lost bathroom space.)
SuperDad and I went camping at Glacier National Park in August. On day 2, we managed to head west on the Going-to-the-Sun road at the perfect time.
Today is my last day of work. I will miss many things about the job but it is time to make more room in my life for family and other activities. Two weeks from now my dh and I will be traveling to Arizona to visit my dad and his wife — both of whom have been hospitalized in the past month. As full as our house is right now with 3 adult children living with us, their presence allows us to go on this trip without worries about things back at home. SuperDad and I will [tent] camp a few nights on the way down to Tucson. If the perfect trailer presents itself while there, we may be camping all the way back home.
As September ends I’m letting go of a part of my life (I enjoyed the work, and paychecks are very satisfying!) and saying YES to more sunsets, more camping, more time with family.
Last week SuperDad and I finally had our first trailer camping experience together. I’ve trailer-camped with friends, enjoying my own little glamping hideout, but this was our first time as husband and wife.
We don’t yet agree on what size of trailer or layout so this is going to be a process of discovery and discussion. We’re renting from the local military installation’s outdoor recreation store while we weigh the pros and cons of trailer camping. I am personally a big fan of indoor plumbing, coffee pots on timers, and pillows. I’m also a big fan of fresh air and seeing the stars at night, so that rules out traveling via motels 100% of the time. After all, I traded in my beloved minivan for a big SUV last winter in order to tow a trailer, so I’m obviously committed to doing this.
SuperDad told me he was being tailgated by a giant trailer.
While I agree it was intimidating, it was also close to being what I want in a travel trailer. It had a walk-around queen bed (“trailer queen” so a bit short in length but still 60 inches wide), a full bath mid-trailer with a good sized shower, a fridge with separate freezer, and a u-shaped dinette in back that gave us the window view at the top of this post . Not bad!
The campsite was near home, so I went to work from here and my better half stayed and played. SuperDad brought along his kayak (which rode in the truck) and mountain bike (trailer) and is now thinking about a toyhauler as compromise (“Think of all the TOYS we could bring inside it!”) while I am sure that would ruin the glamping vibe. Kayaks and bikes don’t need to ride inside the trailer. I want a cute space for my crafting supplies. After all, I need to have something to do while he’s out being outdoorsy.
Once upon a time, I would have thought this was all ridiculous. I was a committed tent camper. But now that we are getting older and I cannot get up off the ground easily (understatement) thanks to my Frankenstein ankle, this is where we are at. How about you, dear Reader? How do you feel about camping?
Last weekend the oldest parts of our church building celebrated 100 years as a place of worship. (The side in which I work was built in 1926, but the sanctuary was built in 1917 after the original church building from 1888 was destroyed by fire.) With such a celebration happening, it was a treat to have The Engineer, The Author, and Little Foot come for a visit. All that wasn’t the reason they came for a visit, but the timing was lovely.
It had been a month since we had seen them. Little Foot is growing up so fast, and if it’s possible (I think it is), he is getting cuter every month. The second anniversary of his birth will be in just a few more weeks. This boy melts my heart. That bear is nearly as big as he is and it is his favorite toy. He talks to Bear and gives Bear turns playing with other toys. It’s really sweet to see.
This evening SuperDad and I watched Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in “The Way We Were” and then clicked on the director’s commentary. Not only does the film make more sense when you see the parts that were left on the cutting floor, but watching it allowed us to hear more of that haunting music and Barbra’s incredible voice. It’s such a story of choices. In a strange comparison of sorts, my 18-year-old baby boy is off camping by himself in the snow several hours away. He drove himself there after school in his truck, sent me a text from the nearest town and told us not to worry prior to Monday night. He only plans to be gone two nights — there is school on Monday — but if his post-concussion syndrome (headache, lack of ability to focus) is bothering him, he wouldn’t be able to drive and would wait to come home.
Not worry? Me? Hahahahaha… Um, no — I’ll be worrying if we haven’t heard from him by sundown on Sunday, preferably by seeing him in person at home. He’s solo hiking and snow-camping in the wilderness without cell phone reception. But what do you do? He’s a legal adult and a very responsible
kid person. Still… he’ll always be my baby.
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.
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.
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.
Another Monday, another brief message from the barefoot backpacker — this one to tell me he’d made it to Crater Lake and “I have more that needs to be said than can be said in a voice mail so… I’ll call you back.” That his voicemail message
two three hours ago… from a pay phone that doesn’t take incoming calls. My stomach is in knots. I think I just sprouted a dozen new gray hairs. This particular son is the cause of more than a few worries over the years.
It doesn’t help that I’ve been awake for the past 37 hours.
Did you know it gets light here at 4:30 AM?
So… how about some good news! Well, the heat wave has subsided and it’s been downright pleasant outside — a little too warm, because it is summer, but it’s cooling down at night again and that makes all the difference. The Scout has assured me that his paperwork for Eagle rank has all been turned in.
Speaking of scouts, I spent 4 hours driving out to summer camp and back home again last night because SuperDad had inadvertently left several Very Important Items in the back of his car… in our garage. BFF rode out with me and got to see their campsite and the upper portion of the camp, and the scouts explained what they would be doing for the week. Possibly more importantly, we got to use the toilets at the beginning of the week instead of at the end of the week.* And most impressive of all, we saw an adult female moose just before we reached the camp. Sadly, there is no photo proof because we didn’t have a camera with us. And before you ask why I didn’t snap a picture on my cell phone, #1- I was driving, and #2- I accidentally left it charging on the table at home. We were supposed to be back at home being outdoorsy on the patio, but I was interrupted 5 sips into a nice cool lime-and-agave beverage.
To summarize: no moose picture, a rather different sort of outdoorsy experience for several of us, and no details on the barefoot PCT hiker (although we do have indication that he is alive and somehow ahead of schedule). The northern lights were supposedly visible last night but it’s too light here in the city to see them, and I’m going to head to bed and pray for sleep — with the phone next to me, volume set to stun.
How is your summer going?
*I’m full of strange fun for her: as a birthday gift, I took her to an alpaca ranch — and now she’s had the experience of visiting a Boy Scout camp.
The comings and goings have peaked and eased. Over the course of the weekend we burgeoned from a household of 4 up to 11 people — and briefly even an additional dog — before settling down to only 3 of us on Sunday afternoon. My BFF stopped by for lunch on her way home from the airport to pick up her plants. She courageously entrusted me with plant-sitting her herbs and tomatoes; thankfully, they weren’t forgotten in the heat, we watered them daily and found them some extra shade, and they are now safely back in her care.
The entire clan (dh’s side) was in town for the nephew’s wedding. I was really impressed when the photographer managed to get Little Foot to look at the camera, and even more impressed when he easily managed a gaggle of additional 6 kiddos and their adults — a total of 33 for the big family photo. I’m looking forward to seeing the results. Also, I fibbed: we were missing one person; there should have been 34 of us but our niece’s husband had to stay back home and work. We had a wonderful time at the wedding. We danced, and I paid for it with a swollen ankle that is still a little sore tonight, but how often is there a party like this?
We stayed until the music took a decided turn for the younger set (wedding party members and friends). My MIL seemed to be surprised that I danced, but I’m equally surprised that the 80-and-above folks were looking fresh at 11pm when we walked back to the car.
It occurs to me that some of you may wonder: did the 24yo wear shoes? And yes, he did! (Footwear was policy at the event location and it was a formal event.) However, I’m pretty sure he took them off as soon as he was out of the building. He left earlier than the rest of us and walked the 3.5 miles home — ostensibly to pack, but that didn’t begin until 2 hours before his bus was scheduled to leave on Sunday morning. At that point SuperDad was by his side, putting his own expertise to work.
H-J came home via Greyhound Bus, carrying all he needed in a small knapsack. For his return trip, he was joined by his brother hoisting a somewhat larger pack. Yes, The Barefooter is off on his big adventure.
This next week will be a return to our new normal: family dinners for three; work and time spent on beading (I’ve got a special order for this week’s market), card-making, and reorganizing my crafting area at home for me; The Scout and SuperDad getting that Eagle paperwork completed and preparing for the last hurrah of Boy Scout camp. We’ll be busy but it will be quiet. I might need to take a nap first…
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.
When you choose to not drive…
and leave your car at the side of the road,
the snowplow will eventually come by…
to ensure that you go nowhere.