Stop Greek, work prep, style simplify, create shorthand…hmm auto write?
Does this show on jj page or in main post list?
Considering use of G5 for daily entries, journal style. Completely private.
“Speech after long silence…” again. Experiment to see if this still works. And if it does? We blog.
This is the second attempt to post directly from BBerry. When I get this working we will have a more “real time” access. Sadly, we will lose that luxurious, edited feel. Just a mode change. Let’s see how we like it!
OK, all you steep learning curve techies, here’s my first slide show! If the music annoys you, try the mute button at the top of the screen. I selected something from the default list. Also, if the caption is long or you want to look at the slide better, just click on it. At least, I think this is how these things work. We’re working on one tech issue/day. Still stymied by microphone on Skype and whether a 32″ TV is really necessary for a full recovery. This is what happens when you spend two months in the same room, even if it’s your room and you have good stuff in it. You really do develop an alternative reality and it is much more under your control than you might think. Get rid of those pesky “other people” and you can rock along eating macaroni and cheese, drinking green tea or instant coffee (OMG, not really!!?) and doing what you damn well please.
The sock knitting is coming along very well. My inaugural emergence into public life should be enlivened by a very cool pair of swirly blue socks, made on a #0 size needle (virtually a pin). The PT asked me yesterday where I planned to go for my first outing. They think it’s weird that I haven’t been anywhere at all except medical offices. I’m considering the 23rd as an anniversary date, so today is three months since…what, I fell? I don’t like that description. “I broke my leg?” ….none of them quite do it. I’m wondering whether I can just record all this here and then return to the daily life and just not talk about it. Those folks were not really involved. I could pretend I was gone to Africa for six months (or four, really, which it what it will be likely to be before return to work.) I might carry the crutches and wear the brace just as reminders that something did actually happen to me. Some people won’t even notice that I’ve been gone. I can see now where that might be an advantage.
So, we’re passing the time and keeping the brain cells firing by tech challenges. Please let me know what you think of this first effort. The MO was just to select something the blog site listed as compatible. I took the top one and did the same thing all the way through, except where the default choice was just totally not OK. Remember the mute button for the music, especially if you want to linger looking at any single slide.
BE COURAGEOUS: look around for buttons that enlarge the image. View All Images/full screen works well, and somewhere about three clicks in, you can click/view the original jpeg file at something like actual size. A zoom or two in and you’ve got a nice abstract, ghosty looking thing, which I inadvertantly set as my Desktop. Took several days to get rid of that, since I don’t want to be reminded THAT much. So click around. Nothing bad happens, and you don’t buy anything. It’s kind fun.
3/20/10 Facebook fans and ADD challenged folks: be warned this post is long. But we’re getting it done.
I’ve been putting this off in spite of the fact that one of the reasons I started the blog was to have a central place to collect what I wanted to say about the leg recovery.
To get to it: This week in PT I began using crutches, a huge step forward in balance and mobility from the wheelchair and the walker. I still use the chair in the kitchen and for some other things, like sweeping and mopping, when I pretend it is like a kayak. It is surprising versatile and has excellent maneuverability. It was also helpful in bridging a flexibility/strength gap in beginning to use my lower leg more normally…that is, bending while creep walking in the chair. When we started with crutches my balance was very disturbed and I stared at my feet, a lethal habit. My PT, Denise, is a hard driver, so we went immediately outside and started work on steps. I had her stand in front on me on the downhill part, just for psychological support. By the end of the second session, I was handling both the up and down steps movements well. We tried all sorts of irregular inclines on the initiation runs just to get my confidence up.
As soon as Angel Brother Bill brought me home I had him do the required supervision as I went up the two steps into the large studio space where I have not been in three months. I have been living mostly in the front room and kitchen, with bathroom trips and occasional TV watching and exercise in the bedrooms. The floor plan of the house is so open, a great good fortune, so I could see outside and watch it snow by looking all the way across the studio, but I just couldn’t get in there. The dogs could, and Stella took great advantage by spreading the toys all over the floor and sleeping in the recliner. The strangeness of being back in the room, and a kind of separateness from everything in it, made it a little dreamlike in a movie sort of way. I drifted slowly from object to object, touching and shifting, opening a drawer here, stacking a book there. The bathroom has been used as a backstage area, with depressing piles of stuff and bags of clothing and other un-used items now in the bathtub, just to get them out of the way.
When the urge to start cleaning rose up, I re-channeled it to setting up the keyboard with lamps and the violin music stand. It’s been months since I even opened it up but I’m finding a nostalgic urge to dust off these things and hopefully revive them in my life. I know I’m a serial obsessive and the house is filled with projects and objects that once completely absorbed all my attention, but I am trying not to chastise myself for things abandoned. Perhaps there is life in them yet, so I am touching them all to see what arises now. The violin in particular has the heaviest juju and I have yet to open the case. I know it is fearfully out of tune and I can’t remember where to put my fingers. I had so hoped that I would be a natural and learn to play with ease and verve. Instead it was an enormous effort with results sadly lacking in ease and verve. I had managed to get to an acceptable level and had joined a small adult beginning orchestra. I worked away as a second violin, doing well enough by leaving out several notes when things got too fast. Most of the other participants were already professional players on several other instruments and members of orchestras, chamber ensembles, etc. Another group were devoted (and well financed) amateurs. My usual money/time constraints began to weigh in and I stopped going. With my sedentary job I became obsessed with movement and outdoor activities instead. I just have to move around and breath open air. That is a fact. It turns out I just wasn’t gypsy enough to play elementary violin pieces in a campground. You gotta be a good fiddler to get away with that kind of thing.
I’ve also begun getting the sewing area cleared and functioning. Ironing board back up, workspace de-cluttered, lights arranged. I discovered that I already had about four projects cut out, neatly bagged with thread and notions, all set to go. I’ll say this for myself without equivocation: I am a capital, champion getter-ready.
I’ve been doing all this slowly, using the wheelchair to haul things from one end of the house to the other, then wedging around with the walker, which is a pain in close quarters. Now that I am on crutches, I’m practically dancing. Interestingly, the PT said specifically “NO DANCING!” when I left on Friday. I am still mighty careful of everything, of the only remaining throw rug, of the dogs, of spots of water on the floor, of random pieces of paper, of whether my balance is just so before shifting my weight forward. I had more than a few “whoaaaaa….eeeee” swooping moments at first, but it’s gotten a lot better.
The last visit to the surgeon on 3/10 yielded new x-rays and information. You can check the Leg Recovery page (look around in there) for photos. My flexion had improved to 110 degrees, but he said the extension was still minus five. This is weird since I feel like I am tightening my quads completely and pressing my knee down onto the table (where they measure). It feels flat to me but, apparently, it isn’t. The x-rays look pretty good and we talked about the major area of concern, which is the lateral (outside) edge of the tibial plateau where a large chunk of bone was removed and then replaced. Dr. Lieber referred to this area as a “divot”. He pointed out, and you can see if you concentrate, that there is a whitish shadow in that area, so he says, “that means there is something there.” That something is the bone he inserted. The questions now are: 1) Will the bone live? 2) Will it become integrated with the surrounding bone (grow in)? and 3) Will it be strong enough to support the weight of the femur at that edge? If all these issues work well, we’ve got a keeper. If not, the femur edge could slide down into the divot, creating instability. In that latter case, “knee replacement is likely in the future,” as he said in the beginning. I’m on a calcium binge and just beginning to educate myself about bone health. I’ve got plenty of advisors, friends as well as online info, but the consensus is pretty simple: diet and exercise. There are zillions of variations from Chinese herbs to ultrasonic stimulation. The major medical folks who are testing right and left don’t have conclusive data, but the snake oil folks are completely convinced.
It is disturbing to me, and should be to everyone at least all women, how many broken bone stories I’m hearing. Yesterday, I was told that a nurse describing this week’s friend’s broken wrist bone setting as “sounding like Rice Krispies.” Sad to say, that’s a pretty good description of what my own tibial breakdown sounded and felt like. I’m typically warning everyone that she should get a bone density test and soon, at least for a base line. I’m trying almost everything anyone suggests, at least while I am still at home, but I will have to become more selective when it starts to cost endless dollars.
My own conviction is to concentrate on resistance training exercise, which I hope to begin very soon. I have already begun a little wheelchair-based workout. I park the chair in the back door late in the afternoon when the sun shines warmest there. It snowed again last night, but we are promised that when this leaves we will have real spring. I moved the 3 lb and 5 lb weights to the dresser top there to be in easy reach. I park the chair facing outside and use Thera-bands and small weights. Thankfully, I have had a good amount of training and can work the muscles in a variety of ways. The real laggard here is still the quads on the injured (right) side. While standing up, I can manage a kicking motion forward and back. I’ve mastered the straight leg lift (formerly a real bear), but one motion is still beyond me. Lying down, with a support roller under my knee, I cannot yet manage to lift my foot without some assistance. This is the same motion as vertical kicking, or side lying kicking (a little harder), but maybe this configuration makes gravity heavier. This motion also hurts more than any other, with a band of actual pain across the front of the knee.
The sensory world of the knee is still lagging, but that is understandable given the amount of trauma. The medial side (inside), along the scar is still the sorest to the touch. Now that I am not wearing the brace so much this is better, since one of the brace pads covered this area. Below, on both sides of the tibia, mid-leg, there is still a lot of numbness and interior woodenness. I massage all of these areas, and especially indulge my woo-woo side in this area, channeling love and healing energy to this poor trashed tissues. The surgeon said the reason I don’t feel anything weird on the upper lateral edge is that he cut some sensory nerves. Oh. Thanks.
Ankle flexion is still limited but coming along. There is a curious feeling on the bottom of my foot, side to side, just in front of the heel. Early, in the hospital, this area felt like there was a cast, or at least caked mud, on the bottom of my foot. I can feel touch and pressure on the surface, but this hard shell interior feeling is still there. I am told that these sorts of things will sort out over the recovery period, which is estimated to be a year or two even for young and healthy folks.
My personal and home maintenance situation is also changing as well. We are burning out helpers right and left, but some new ones emerge to fill in the gaps in my own progress. Last week we had a general failure in helper attendance, the house cleaner sicked out for a week and a half, the original shopper blew out completely, the dog lady disappeared, but Angel Brother Bill remained steady in PT chauffeuring and Angel Alice met the shopper challenge with customary energy. She has been sick a lot this winter, as have many people, but that girl was Born To Shop. Edna and I bargained to trade a delivered by her lunch for elementary computer lessons. I’m showing her basic things like cut/paste so she doesn’t have to pay someone $50/hr to do it. There’s enough food in the house to support a small village so there is no hardship. I’ve only been out of milk one time.
Circumstances related to my job are also changing now. I am passing some limits that involve money, which always gets my attention. My original disability statement extended the full six months until June 23, 2010, but there is no way this will go on that long. Now that I’m able to go up a few steps, my eye naturally turns to THE CAR. I’m practicing the motions of driving and will probably hobble out to the car this week when the snow melts and mud dries up. It’s a good thing that barrier is there, or I would be out there today. My plan is to start driving (next week?) on back roads over to the gym or the swimming pool. Just getting anywhere is a workout in itself, but since I’d dig my way out of Alcatraz with a teaspoon, I’m inching toward the car. I’m also trying to sit up more during the day, like now at the computer. This is a trade-off since it’s not good to have the leg down too much. I know that a return to work, even part-time, will require upright sitting for at least four or five hours. I can tell by the swelling that this is going to be an issue, but the crutches part should help here, making getting up and moving around more frequently much easier. I’ve got things divided into vertical or horizontal activity and usually elevate and ice the leg after sustained vertical stints. Swelling has gone down a lot, but I still can’t fit my foot into a normal close fitting shoe. Tevas and Uggs are saving the day.
Lastly, and often most difficult, is the emotional side of all this. To say that this has been a lesson in self-control is a vast understatement. To be alone this much, to be confined physically this much, even without pain, is a test of inner strength of the first order. Having to accept the level of dependence necessary to maintain daily life was so over awing that I usually just do not comment or discuss it. Anyone who knows me well can appreciate that difficulty. An interesting benefit has been an almost magical release from certain kinds of neurotic obsessiveness. I simple do not have the energy. As in all things survival related, priorities sort themselves out; resources are applied in an almost natural order. This has been a great help. I don’t even have the energy to cry about things that would probably make me cry otherwise. I long ago passed the signpost marked “Desperation” and still had to keep going. I have to ask people for things or do without. I have to accept whatever anyone chooses to offer, yet still not criticize those who do not offer. The scale is so small and intimate and slow that there is actually a lot of opportunity available. The slowness especially helps and has been the greatest revelation. I do notice things that disturb or vex me, but I cannot indulge too much reaction. Everything is weighed in the balance of whether it contributes to healing and moving forward. I have done meditative work, in the formal sense. I have read deep Buddhist texts, etc. But I have also found solace in the strangest places.
For weeks I could not read. At all. Slowly, after stopping the pain meds, my mind cleared up. Angel MAT sent some books about open ocean sailing that provided the perfect diversion. High adventure, desperate situations, heroism and danger, and all about people who handle adversity and either triumph or die. This was a great help in adjusting my own stress-o-meter. It also filled my head with images for dreaming. Television has been a disappointment, not surprisingly I guess. Even movies are just, well, too short. It’s long novel time. The real oddball is a discovery I made when having to fill downtime at work and still “look busy”. I started working with the Schaum’s Outline series volume on Elementary Algebra. Now I’ve got one on French Grammar. Hours pass as I scribble exercises in French. I’ve finally gotten French Radio back on the computer, so I have my own immersion program going. There’s an endless quality to these mental exercises that defy time. I hope to break open a resistance to drawing as well. Maybe just get out the colors and scribble around. The problem I have always found with magazines (too jerky), and movies, and even sometimes music is that they are just over too soon. I much prefer the sustained endeavor. I think that’s why opera has become interesting.
It boils down to energy conservation and patience. I don’t do as much telephoning as I thought I would because it’s too tiring. I hope you will accept this long description of what is happening as a substitute for a visit or a phone call. This way I only have to say it once.
I am very encouraged by my progress and, as long as I don’t overdo and get fatigued I have just enough to do what needs to be done. I am so grateful to the many kind and generous folks who have found a way to express their concern by calling and emailing, sending things, bringing food, helping with the dogs, and sending all that wonderful love and healing energy. Each day brings a small improvement and I have the leisure to watch the weather out my window as spring and the light return. That would be today, no, vernal equinox?
Thanks to you, as an interested friend. Your care and concern have been what has sustained me through all this. Couldn’t have made it without you.