Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Week Out

Well, it's been a week of being post-op. One week. Only 5 more to go before I can begin to put weight on my foot. Five weeks. I really should quit whining. I have two sisters who had to have the same knee replacement done twice in a row because of a screw-up. Yes...there are many people worse off than I am. But it is still no fun to be laid up.

On the bright side, the sky is blue, it was 80 degrees today and I was awake the whole day. It really is a lovely time of year here in the desert. I feel like a plague to CoolGuy because he has to do practically everything for me. And I'd like him to do more: dig up my garden and plant some tomatoes and basil so we can get the caprese salad machine cranking. I'm confident he'll get to it. He's gotten to everything else...
a drink,
my lotion,
a cup of pudding,
another pillow,
cookies to dunk in my milk,
the mail,
the newspaper,
the kittycat,
a ride to the doctor,
a cantelope,
another blanket,
the remote control get the drift of being the person who really can not do much beside lay there and ask for things. He assures me he's just fine and keep on asking. And he really means it. That's why he's the cool guy.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

They Gave Me A Shot!

If this woman phoned you on Wednesday night, I apologize. THEY GAVE ME A SHOT! Really, when you come out of anesthesia, you feel just fine. Just fine... and that is the problem. You have no idea how loopy you are. So apparently I left phone messages with a couple of friends and family members while channeling Dharma.

But, I have a little more clarity today, so I'm blogging about the life of the invalid. Blah. I was told that there will be 4-6 weeks of this enforced leisure. I must not put any weight on the foot in the fiberglass cast. The bone must heal and it cannot if I step on it. This is the fourth day, and I'm ready to take it off and go back to my real life. Hey! However, I recognize that I really do have limitations.

Here's what I'm recovering from:
1) removal of 3 inches of posterior tibial tendon
2) the remains of said tendon were then grafted onto another tendon from the bottom of my foot
3) Achilles tendon was lengthened (and occasionally I get a "little" twinge from that area that lets me know that "lengthening" it doesn't feel good.)
4) a titanium wedge was inserted into a cut into a bone near my heel (or in my heel) to push my foot around into the position where my toes point forward when I walk instead of them pointing off to the northeast because of the collapse of my arch. So, even the slightest pull or resistance on the right foot or leg results in excruciating pain. Therefore, I am quite diligent in making sure my movements do not cause that.

I am right handed, and, apparently, right-footed too. I think my whole body does things in a right-sided dominant way unconsciously. So it takes a lot of concentration to use my left leg first and move my left side first when I do anything. I have to stop and think about what I'm attempting and how I'm going to do it. Also, since I've spent most of that last four days lying down and much of that time asleep, I'm not too full of vim and vigor. Every little movement requires great effort to scoot to the edge of the couch and then either lower myself to the floor to crawl or scooch along on my bottom. Or to stand on one leg and, holding onto furniture, hop over to my Knee Walker and crawl up onto it so I can scooter down the hall to the bathroom. Either choice leaves me gasping for breath or quivering from the exertion and there are lots of periods of just sitting/standing while I recover.

I have lain on the floor for two nights now, exercising my arms with my weights, and last night I got the yoga ball out and used it to do abdominal curls and strengthen my upper legs. So, I realize that it will be gradual and, if I am careful and diligent, I will improve daily. Monday we go to the doctor for a post-op visit. That's when I'll firm up the "removal of fiber-glass cast" date. But I know that occasion only starts the 3x weekly PT sessions and the storm-trooper-boot-for-a-couple-of-months period. Progress--we're striving for progress. So, I will have to practice patience and serenity in the meantime. Healing isn't a sprint.

PS: I have an excellent and attentive nurse who is standing by while I go through all these maneuvers, making sure I don't overdue it. It sounded like I was all alone here. No, no-- Nurse CoolGuy is feeding, bathing, and hovering over me in excellent form.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stupid Feet Gazette Update

In four and a half hours I'm supposed to arrive at the hospital. Guess I'd better go to bed, huh? I finally got everything done at school that I'd hoped to. Mostly. Probably. Oh, well, whatever isn't done will just not get done. By me, at any rate.

An interesting machine was delivered today that pumps cool water through a little system that will be wrapped around my cast to deliver coldness to the injured/healing area. Pretty neato. CoolGuy was here to get all the info on its use. The doctor prescribed it to replace ice-packs. CoolGuy vacuumed for me. He picked up my pain killers. I guess we're set.

Thanks for all your good wishes and prayers. I don't know when I'll feel up to posting here next. But, as soon as I can, you'll be the first to know.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Almost Ready

I turned in my report card comments on time. I've printed off my awards assembly certificates. We cleaned out everyone's folders today of the previous trimester's left over debris. I almost have my substitute notebook filled. Wrote up six weeks worth of leave slips. I got my nails done: left toes red, right toes naked. Scrubbed the kitchen floor, washed the rug.

Now tomorrow at school, I think we'll rearrange the seating to separate all the frenemies for the last months of school. Then, I'll put all the piles from my desk into either the paper recycling bin or a box for later. I'll make sure there are pencils in my reserve box for the new teacher to pass out when needed. I'll gather up all the plastic bottles from their recycling bins and head for home.

I got a call today from a fellow who needed to make an appointment with me to show me how to use the ice machine for post-op. I gave him CoolGuy's phone number. He's coming over tomorrow to show Nurse Attila how to use it. I laughed---ice machine! Partay!! Hmmm...actually it's some type of cooling device to use with a fiberglass cast. I love technology. And Demerol....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Family Time

I got to be grandma at school! I read a book to the second grade, and I dropped in on preschool to meet the teacher.

I also went to a really nice wedding and saw most of my brothers and sisters and many of their children and grandchildren later on at a restaurant. My brother, the father of the groom, is an excellent and generous host. The whole shebang was terrific and lovely and he should be congratulated. I am always impressed at his general unflappable-ness. He is never short with people (in my presence) and he is pleasant and thoughtful. He was pretty much like this as a little kid, too, as I recall. I was ten when he was born, and I always enjoyed having him as my milking companion because he was so mellow.

Here are some highlights of the day.
  • The lovely Danish accent of the grandfather who conducted the wedding ceremony.
  • The tall and gorgeous bride and ever-smiling groom
  • the mothers with smiles and tears simultaneously on their faces
  • the freezing cold wind that whipped around us as we awaited the couple's presentation out on the temple grounds
  • the puzzled looks on faces as yet another sister of the groom's father was introduced to the new inlaws (there are six of us...four in attendance)
  • spending relaxed time eating a meal that none of us had to fix and chatting with my children and grandchildren
  • how many wedding receptions have you attended where everyone paused partway through to triumphally sing the fight song of their favorite college that had just won a basketball game, ensuring a trip to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen bracket???

The best line of the night:

We drove through the city from the restaurant to the reception center and one adult cousin says to another adult cousin, "What are all the freakishly dressed people walking along the street doing?"

"Oh," came the reply, "It's the Lady GaGa concert tonight at the arena."

"And you're not there? I can't believe it!"

"Yeah, I had to I want to spend the evening with a bunch of crazy freaks? Or do I want to go the Lady GaGa concert?"

Family---it's the best!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bullet Points

  • Just two more school days till I'm out for six weeks. I am not even close to ready! I was going to go through all the piles on my desk and clean it off. But now, I think I'm going to put the piles into a box, stick it in my closet and clean it out in May.
  • Today is the anniversary of my dad's death---27 years ago. seems like less than that. He still has a lot of influence in our family because we've chosen to remember him well.
  • The weather here has been so nice this week. Warm, but not hot, sunny and breezy. It's a great time of year.
  • I'm headed off to a family wedding this weekend. While I'm up in Utah, I get to go to my granddaughter's class and read a story. Yea! Being grandma is fun!
  • I get to spend time with all of the grandkids---yea! Being grandma is fun!!
  • I'm almost looking forward to the recovery time later this week because the last three weeks has been unbelievably frantic. Doctor visits, lab visits, pre-register at the hospital, filing forms with various entities to get time off or get tuition re-imbursed or get my insurance to authorize different conveniences. Then, it's also report card time---writing comments, filling out all the sections of our weird report card, printing off the awards for the assembly that I can't attend. But my co-workers will take care of it. I'm going to be ready for the rest.
  • I feel extra tired because it takes a lot of effort to stomp around in this storm trooper boot. My hips are uneven, and I'm off-balance and have to watch where I step. Today, a boy slid out his chair just as I tried to pass behind him and I lost my balance and fell over on him and a girl sitting next to him. Luckily, I fell on them and not the floor. I'm tired every night from just moving around.
  • Got to go pack! Flying out of here in two hours!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kitty Cat Crisis

There was a double Kitty Cat crisis at our house this week. Instead of the usual: no one being here precisely at 5:00 P.M. to serve the little packet of kitty chicken; we've had two different events that probably burned up one or two of her nine lives.

One evening I came home from work, and CoolGuy asked me to go into the kitchen/dining room and look around to see if I could determine the cause of the near-meltdown of Her Royal Highness all afternoon. It had started about 1:00 P.M.--far too early for the normal "It's 93 minutes till 5:00!" harassment she does daily. She was stomping across the keyboard of his computer, she was up on the back of the chair tapping on his head. She'd stand in the doorway of his office meowing sharply and beseeching him to follow her. He tried letting her outdoors, but none of the usual efforts led to relief.

Finally at 4:59 P.M. he went into the kitchen to get the packet of kitty chicken and as he leaned down to pick up the bowl, he realized what the hours of panic had been all about. The dry food container was nearly empty. We have one of those dispenser types that is filled from the top and then as the animal consumes it, more shuffles down into the serving area. EXCEPT THERE WASN'T ANYMORE TO SHUFFLE DOWN. And there was actually a little space of blue plastic showing in the serving area indicating that by this time tomorrow there would be no more snacks for nibbling at all. Oh. My.

As he pointed me in the direction of the kitty cat relief station, I already knew what I'd see because two days before, as I'd put out the kitty chicken, I'd seen that the filler box was very low, but I'd been distracted and so didn't go immediately to the shelf and get the dry food to refill it. What a riot! My inattention was the cause of four hours of persistent harassment for CoolGuy by the desperate KittyCat who could not articulate her concerns. Good grief.

Then, on top of that anxiety I carelessly provoked, I've been the cause of another 24 hours of unrest. Because of the impending surgery and subsequent enforced idleness, I have been inspired to a frenzy of housework. On Saturday, I washed all of my bedding, right down to the mattress pad and the pillow covers. However, my wonderful corduroy comforter is too big to wash in my machine, so I went down to the laundromat to use their big front loader. I also used the occasion of my going out to do a little shopping and stopped off at the church to practice a difficult piece I'm playing to accompany a group for next week's Sacrament meeting. So, by the time I finished the actual washing and took home the damp comforter, it was around 8:00 P.M. It is quite big and cumbersome, and would have taken so long in the dryer, that I just hung it over a fence in the yard to dry overnight. You know---dry desert air and it was 75 degrees on Saturday....nice, huh?

Yes, yes, but...this meant that something else had to serve as our cover for last night. I got out a couple of other blankets that, together, covered us up nicely, but weren't the corduroy comforter. And the bed had been torn up all afternoon...

This morning, I brought in the comforter, but I didn't remake the bed until this evening. You'd have thought that the KittyCat was the elegant princess from the fairy tale of The Princess and The Pea. She hopped up on the newly made bed, and rolled around and groomed herself, and flopped out and pushed her paws on it. She'd been suffering for 24 hours without her corduroy comforter! What utter luxury to have it back in place. She was exhausted! And relieved! Never do that again, lady, you understand? I guess we should just be reported to the authorities for this week of cruelty. We'll try to do better.

Here is the picture of the exhausted, anxious Princess KittyCat, who with her last ounce of energy, managed to get up onto the corduroy comforter for her beauty sleep---denied to her all of these hours because of the careless humans who thoughtlessly do chores without taking into account the needs of the Queen.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Stupid Feet Gazette

I've started a new magazine/newspaper. The title is above. So, the latest headline is :
"Right Foot Fail"
You know, like as in Fail Blog? I've got a torn posterior tibialis tendon. It means that the sharp pain I've been experiencing since late December isn't really ever going to go away until it is surgically repaired. I've put myself back into the storm trooper boot twice, trying to shore up my flat foot and make the pain go away. And it did, a couple of times. However, this last time, around the middle of February, I made an appointment with the podiatrist and got an MRI to see what in the heck was causing the seriously painful pain whenever I'd step down on my foot.

The instep is really where the problem is. Also I began to notice that my foot seemed extra flat lately. It's always been the flatter of my two feet. When I step out of the pool there is a complete duck print where that foot has been. My ankle sort of tips over and my toes have begun to point out to the right as though my foot is turning over, instead of curving up.

Well, according to the X-ray and the MRI, that is precisely what is occurring. I didn't realize that your foot arches up partly because the tendon attached around and under your arch is pulling it up toward your calf muscle, to which it is attached. Or should be attached. Mine is disintegrating. Shredding. Pulling apart like an old worn out rope. Hence, the pain. And since it isn't holding up my foot snugly as it should, my foot isn't up any longer. It is collapsed and sunken and as I walk on the side of it, the bones which should be arched up over the sole of my foot, are being shoved off to the right and misaligned.

So, in thirteen days, I have a surgery scheduled to attempt a repair of the various collapsed, torn and misaligned parts of my foot. And I'm feeling quite anxious about it. I can't NOT do it, because my foot is seriously in pain and it will only continue the deterioration. But, there are so many ramifications.

I must sit with the foot propped for six weeks following the surgery---no weight bearing at all. No, you may not go to school in a wheelchair, even. How are you going to drive over there? It isn't even realistic to imagine that you can have your foot propped above your heart while seated in a wheelchair. No, you aren't going to your nephew's wedding in Houston---too bad that you just bought the tickets before you found out about the foot. No, you won't be going up to your granddaughter's class during Spring Break.

But, at least the nephew's brother is getting married next weekend and I can go to that one and meet all the relatives there. And I can go to visit S-Boogie's classroom on that trip. And we've solved a problem with my class: the principal has been bugging us for years to swap classes this trimester---the fifth grader writing teacher and myself. But we've resisted for many reasons. She'd like to see if he can get a head start with the upcoming class for the Nevada Writing Test which is held in January. So, instead of a sub for my class, the sub will be in his class and he will take over mine for the six weeks that I am out. The good news: he will write his own lesson plans. I'll be helping him to figure out what his class can do--like some type of big research project. Not birds, they did that last year with me.

But---I'm missing the best time of the year in school! Bike rodeo, field day, Family Picnic Day, Spring Arts Festival, research reports!! (I love teaching research reports because I assign everyone a bird and we go nuts over birds for two weeks. They come away from the experience in love with birds and much more knowledgeable about web searching, book searching and writing reports.) So, I'm bummed and sad.

Plus, I feel like I'm on a runaway train. I'm just going along for the ride and I know it won't be much fun. I'm sick to death of clumping around in the storm-trooper boot and I'm looking at four straight months---I put it on Feb. 17 and it won't be coming off till June. Blah. And I hate being a patient...see that word...patient? I'm so not.

So, blah, blah and blah...That is the latest news from the land of aggravating feet. Old lady-ness, genetics and inflammation---all this mess is the result of forces over which I have no power. Blah.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Don't Do It

I mean don't go to the store when you are hungry. Tonight, I left school rather late, but I knew that CoolGuy was going to grill a pork loin for supper. All I needed to do was come home and gather up the side dishes to serve with it and we could sit down to our usual ritual of dinner and Jeopardy! on Tivo.

Except that I stopped off at the grocery store to get another package of Smarties so I could pass them out to my testing students about half-way through the test. I've got a group of students who qualified through a language test to have the math portion read aloud to them. So...anyway, I needed Smarties.

But then I remembered I also needed a couple of onions, and oh---yeah, sliced Swiss cheese. Oooh, look they have Greek olive flavored hummus....and those California rolls look good, I could eat them for lunch tomorrow. Do I want extra wasabi and ginger? Oh, I should get CoolGuy some of that Italian bread he likes so he can have a pork sandwich for lunch tomorrow. Hmmm...cinnamon raisin bread for toast. That's right, I'm out of orange marmalade. Now where is that candy aisle? Bush's baked beans! I used the last small can yesterday, I should get a few more. Tiny hamburger buns! How cute! I'll make me a sandwich on them for tomorrow. Oh, these raisins have a reseal bag, I'll get them, I know mine are all gone. Fish fillets...they might be tasty to microwave for Thursday when CoolGuy's out of town. Eek, I just remembered I'm out of granola bars for the test-takers--these are on sale, good. Oh, I'll just go over there and get some of that naan to eat with the hummus for dinner tomorrow.

Yes, I did indeed buy all of those items when I actually only intended to go in quickly and pick up a bag of Smarties. And, of course, they'd didn't even have any Smarties. I'll just give the testers Jolly Ranchers from my drawer. They always love Jolly Ranchers.

Moral: go home, eat dinner, then go out and pick up that ONE THING you needed.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Places of the Heart

Do you get feelings about places? I mean, when you drive past a certain place, do you get an emotional reaction? As I drove up the street away from my school, I realized tonight that seeing the temple made me feel terrific. I smiled without realizing why for a minute. So I began to think about other locations that evoked an emotional response when I saw or passed through them.

Beaver, Utah, makes me irritated. Sorry, is actually those two shark-like tire shysters that ply their smarmy trade on unsuspecting motorists that cause me to set my jaw and narrow my eyes as I drive through your town.

My stomach tightens, and I get anxious, when I drive past a hospital. I just don't like going to hospitals. I've had just enough bad times in a variety of them to have made an impression of unhappiness in their zone.

I always smile when I drove by Weinerschnitzel. I discovered this fast food franchise when I first moved to San Diego several decades ago, and I still like their chili dogs.

Two places that cause instantaneous relaxation is the beach and the top of the mountain pass that leads into the valley where I was born and raised. The beach is a total no-brainer. Every single time I get to the coast, I get out of the car and stand on the edge of the ocean and think to myself, "Now why did I move away from here??" The scent, the breeze, the sound of the surf, the very feel of the air...I'm more relaxed just sitting here typing a description of it. Imagine how much better it is to be standing there.

The Salt River Pass. I moved away from there 40 years ago, yet, each and every time I've driven up over that pass, I am compelled to stop the car, get out and marvel at the view of "my" mountains. They are almost like relatives. They're always there. They'll always be there. They welcome me home with affection and don't mind that I moved away. They just stand there guarding the valley with eternal vigilance. My plan is to see them on Resurrection Day. They'll still be there. It's home.
We have a series of photos on this very spot...First with no children, then with babies, see them growing? Finally, we're taking shots of just us. But we simply have to stop, every time.