Ridin’ the Storm Out

First let me just say that I have always taken storms seriously.  Tornado warnings were the only thing I would wake up my sleeping children for in the middle of the night when they were growing up.  In May of 1957, when I was seven months old, my family and I lived in Ruskin Heights and were smack dab in the middle of one of the largest tornados to ever hit this area.  Of course I do not remember this storm, but I remember the effects it had on my parents for years after.

Our home at the time was spared by the tornado although my father helped many neighbors crawl out of the crumbles of their houses and the shopping center close by.  I remember seeing pictures from the newspaper clippings my parents kept.  One was of the high school, only the first two and last two letters of the school, “RU    IN”,  were still hanging on the destroyed building.  Another picture was of a car on top of the water tower.

The house we lived in, like most in the Ruskin area, did not have basements.  After the storm my father had a basement dug beneath our house.  I did not even know that was possible to do!   The entire time I remained living in my parents’ home, whenever there were tornado warnings, my father would send us to the basement while he nervously watched the sky from the open garage door.

Last Friday, the day I came home from the hospital, there were storms in the area and I kept a close watch on the news and prayed there would not be any warnings for our area.  I was not sure I would be able to do those stairs again that day.  On Monday I was devastated watching the reports out of Joplin, thinking about all the loss and destruction and feeling so bad for all the families involved.

On Tuesday evening I did my motherly duty and called both of my Missouri girls to make sure they would keep an eye on the weather that night as they were predicting a new round of severe storms for our area.  Molly asked where she should go in a tornado warning since she had just moved into a new apartment on the third floor.  Kayla and I had the same discussion since her and Dylan’s rented home does not have a basement.  Next thing I know Molly, Kayla and Dylan all decided to come home for the night.  This worry wart mother could not have been happier.  I told them both that since they were making the effort to get here that I was sure all would be calm for the night.

We had a great evening visiting and hearing surgery stories from Dylan.  As predicted all was calm.  At around 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Kayla, Molly and I were all hanging out in my room trying to decide what we should have for lunch.  Next thing we know,  a tornado warning for Jackson County was being issued.  They said to take cover immediately.   We decided we should head for the basement.  We sent the girls on down and Dave helped me navigate the steps, all thirty of them, fifteen to the first floor and fifteen to the basement.  I was slow but I made it just fine.

As we watched the weather coverage on the news I was thinking how seriously everyone was taking this warning…..schools were sending kids to the basement, offices were sending employees to the lowest levels of the buildings.  No doubt this heightened sensitivity was due to the Joplin catastropy we had all just witnessed.  After waiting in the basement for a few hours we decided to move upstairs.  I am happy to report that I made it back up all thirty steps, back to my bedroom, without even stopping for a rest in between.

The physical therapist is not visiting today but left me with instructions to complete the exercises on my own.  I think I may have exceeded both her and my own expectations for the day.

Keep safe everyone.

The Recovery Begins

Home makes everything better.  I returned home from the hospital on Friday afternoon and spent a very quiet weekend starting my recovery.  I remembered that the first week after surgery was difficult, but I had forgotten just how much effort it requires to do the smallest things.  My biggest complaint right now is that I am just exhausted.

The surgery went great with no bones fractured,  just large bone spurs removed.  Bone spurs are just extra bone formation the body creates to try and heal the diseased bone.  Most everyone with OA has bone spurs, some get so large they began to impede on the action of the joint.  According to Dr. L, this is what was happening with my right hip.

The day after surgery I was standing up with the walker, weight on both hips.  Discounting the narcotics that were being pumped into my body, there was virtually no pain.  Walking was another matter.  That first day I was only able to take about three steps and those were with the PT moving my right leg forward.  The right foot just did not want to move.  According to the PT this is very common after surgeries because the nerves just are not firing.  It takes a while to get those muscles to remember how to move. 

By the second day after surgery, I was walking across my room and out into the hall.  On the third day after surgery I was going up and down three stairs.

I did find out that I am highly allergic to the adhesive on the bandages they used after surgery.   We first noticed large blisters on my back, then, before they took the bandage off the incision, the nurse noticed blisters around that bandage.  My incision looks great but I have a few open blisters that are still trying to heal.  Only gauge and paper tape bandages for me in the future.

After getting home on Friday, I was once again dreading the long climb of stairs up to my bedroom.  I remember in December when I did this,  that once I got to the top I thought Dave was going to have to bring me a chair to sit in for a while before I actually walked into my room.   However, this time, I walked to the top, walked into the room, walked into the bathroom, and then walked over to my chair.  Already feeling like this recovery will go faster…I am definitely stronger.

 I am really glad to be on this side of surgery #2

Preparations and Mixed Emotions

In 36 hours I will be leaving to go to the hospital for surgery #2.  All the preparations have been completed and my emotional state is on a rollercoaster. 

 First of all, ten days ago I had to give up Aleve, my over the counter drug of choice.  Aleve is a blood thinner that relieves inflammation. It must be stopped prior to surgery so you do not have increased bleeding.   I am allowed to take Tylenol but it does not provide the same pain relief for me.   To add to this complication, I spent the past week in Omaha at the office, which meant more walking (more pain) each day.   I even have to go down steps to get to the bathroom.  I did not get to sleep in my own bed (always a discomfort) and I did not have my recliner to elevate my legs.  To put it mildly, I have been in much pain this week.

 I have also had to change the side of the bed I sleep on.  For the first few weeks after hip replacement surgery, getting in and out of bed requires a certain technique.  Certain movements can cause the hip to dislocate and precautions must be taken until the muscles have healed and can hold the new joint in place.   In order to start the process with my non-surgical side I need to move to the opposite side of the bed.  Thanks again Dave for accommodating my every need.  If I seem a little grumpy over the next few weeks we can just blame it on the fact that I have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. 

 Emotionally I am nervous, anxious, impatient and excited.

 Nervousness – there is always risk with any surgery.  Surgery #1 went very well, none of the most common risks of hip replacement were realized.  No dislocations, no blood clots and no infections. Will this surgery be as successful or will my luck run out?

 Anxiety – recovery takes so much effort.  I will need to regain overall strength that is lost during surgery.  There will be many showers taken before I can stand alone and not use the shower chair.  I will be starting over on physical therapy.   I will be using the walker again.  Even getting in and out of bed will hurt for several weeks.

 Impatience– I am so weary of having pain in every step I take.  I am tired of not being able to go to the places I want to go or do the things I want to do.   I am tired of complaining, worrying and being negative. 

 Excitement – after this surgery I am expecting a great leap of improvement.  Although the arthritis pain is gone from my left hip since surgery #1, there is still some stiffness and occasional pain in the joint.  I attribute this to not being able to utilize the new hip fully due to limitations from my other joints.  The key to overcoming joint pain after replacement is exercise.  With two joints replaced I should be able to move much more.  I have so many items on my bucket list and I want to get started!!!

 Thank you all so much for the words of encouragement I have been receiving…..and for reading about my worries and complaints.  I hope to be back here soon, 50% closer to overcoming this disease.

Today’s hero…..Ms.T

I had breakfast with a dear friend on Saturday whom I met in 7th grade Civics.   Assigned alphabetic seating on the first day of class, (I was an S, she was a T) ensured our meeting but junior and senior high school dramas kept us inseparable.  We try and get together a couple of times a year now to catch up on family and friends. 

 During this visit she updated me about her mom, a dynamo of a woman at age 82.  Ms. T lives by her self at the lake with her dogs and works for the Meals on Wheels program delivering lunch to several people in the area.  After lunch she heads to the gym EVERY day, sometimes she is able to go further than her own daughter on the treadmill.

 A while back, Ms T was walking into the swinging doors of the Meals on Wheels kitchen when someone burst through the doors on the other side and sent all 5 ft, 90 pounds of her flying backwards.  A fractured pelvis resulted.  For many 80 year olds this accident would result in a lengthy hospital stay with almost certain mobility and functionality decreases for the remaining years of their life.  Not for Ms. T.  She came home with a walker but was back to her normal high energized self in just a few short months. 

 On this particular weekend, Ms. T was putting down mulch in her garden and driving to Kansas City for mother’s day activities.

 I am twenty-eight years younger than this women and I can not accomplish half the activities that she does every day.  I do understand that some people are genetically privileged and many others work hard to maintain their health as they age.  Is there any hope for those of us that did not win the genetic lottery or take such good care of our health over the years?

 My older sister with whom I share a genetic pool is someone I can see being like Ms. T when she hits her eighties. Besides working full time and entertaining grandchildren frequently, her idea of a good day is clearing brush and chopping firewood on her wooded home site.  Her energy level is amazing.

 As the countdown nears to surgery #2, one of my biggest fears is that these four operations I am undertaking will somehow result in me being even more immobilized than I am now.   With one surgery behind me, I now rely on a cane to walk which I did not use before the surgery.  It is almost impossible for me to visualize a time when I will be able to walk without a limp, pain free.

 However, I want to be like Ms. T, living a full active life well into my later years so I will continue on with these surgeries because they provide some hope for that life.  My new favorite word is perseverance.

Perseverancea steady course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

I also need to continue hearing stories of people who with their actions and attitude motivate and inspire.    You’re my hero Ms. T!!!

Lists and more Lists

Besides my other profession of “worrier,”  I am also a “list maker.”  I make lists for everything.  I make list on my computer in both excel and word (cannot decide which is better), I make list in the journal I carry around, I make list in my blackberry memo app and I make list on those little yellow post it notes.  I make list for myself and often for my loved ones, although not sure how appreciated those are.   I use lists to bring control and order to my life.

Here are some of the on-going lists I keep:

  • To-Do – usually items needed to do on a daily basis
  • Dave’s To-Do –  I frequently provide Dave with a copy which he quietly takes from me with a smile.  I have no idea what he does with those lists but I am pretty sure he never looks at them again.
  • Menus
  • Recipes to Try
  • Books to Read
  • Movies to Watch – this list has moved to my recently opened Netflix que.
  • Bucket List – sort of like my to-do list but with a broader horizon – currently contains many places I would like to visit and activities I would like to do.
  • Décor – contains ideas I want to incorporate into my house
  • Quotes  –  I frequently jot down items  I hear or come across in my reading

Here is one of my favorites by Ellen DeGeneres,

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty.  She is ninety-seven now and we don’t know where the hell she is.”

I also have seasonal lists which include:

  • Spring Cleaning Tasks – When all the girls lived at home I would assign each of them tasks along with a box for them to check off when complete.  I know they just LOVED this one.
  • Christmas Presents to Buy – of course this included a sub-list of Christmas presents bought.
  • Thanksgiving and Christmas Day Dinner Plans – incorporating menus, shopping lists and hour by hour execution plans.

No doubt the highlight of my list life to date was the planning of my two daughters weddings. We had list for about everything you can imagine.   One of those daughters may be just a bit more obsessive about this than I am (if that is possible) and I think we actually had some conflict over who was keeping the list for what.

Wow, I just realized I now have a list of my lists………cool.

ANYWAY, what I started this post about, before I became a little giddy talking about all my lists, were all the things I want to do in my life.  I am a much better planner and strategic thinker than I am an actual doer or executer.  Many times I blame that on my limited mobility.  For instance, I would love to participate in the Arthritis Foundation walk at Zona Rosa on May 22.  It is on my bucket list and I really hope I can do this someday.  Unfortunately, right now I would have a hard time making it to the starting line from the car, let alone walking the 5K.

Another item on my bucket list is to stay at a bed and breakfast.  I have often thought that owning and operating a bed and breakfast would be a great profession.  I love the idea of living in a grand old house, entertaining guests and serving savory breakfasts each morning.  There was an interesting article in the Kansas City Star today about a B&B on the Plaza, the Southmoreland.  The article was actually talking about grilling breakfast outside, an idea that Dave and I thought sounded really fun.  Guess what, I added a new entry to my TO-DO list after reading this, “Host a grilled breakfast party.”

I often use my list, especially my bucket list, to help with my increasing level of frustration and depression over not being able to participate in certain activities.  I read the list, add items to it and look forward to the day I actually may be able to partake.  I search for hope and thoughts of better days wherever I can.

Are any of you out there list makers?  I would love to hear from you (and maybe start a therapy group)! Thirteen days to go……..

16 Days and Counting

It just dawned on me today that there are only 16 days until surgery number 2.  Of those 16 days, five will be spent working in Omaha which means May 17th  will be here very quickly. 

As I have mentioned before, I am a worrier.  My father was a worrier, my sister is a worrier and I am pretty sure one of my daughters is a worrier.  We are a contemplative bunch, imagining every scenario, predicting every possible outcome, and continuing to think about “What if’s.”   Most of the time we focus on the worst case scenarios.

 With regard to my next surgery, I pretty much know the scenarios and the probable outcomes.  Several friends have suggested that this will only add to my recovery since I now know what to expect.  Maybe so, however this also means I know what I am NOT looking forward to.

I am not looking forward to:

1.  The first time I have to get up and take a few steps after surgery.

2.  Having the bandage with the adhesive edges being pulled off (last time several sections of skin came with it).

3.  Wearing the lovely support hose that cut off circulation to the lower extremities.

4.  The first walk up the fifteen stairs to my bedroom when I come home from the hospital.

5.  Being so dependent on everyone, especially Dave, for those first few weeks after surgery.

OK, I am being a wee bit negative.  It is SOOO easy for me to do, SOOO very natural.  However, since one of the reasons I started this blog was to provide some mental therapy, I really should also list the items that I am looking forward to.  They include:

1.  Having my surgeries 50% completed.

2.  Losing the right hip pain.

3.  Being off work for three weeks (pretty desperate don’t you think?)

4.  Knowing I am closer to meeting my success criteria for these four surgeries which are:

  • Walking the 1/2 mile around our block
  • Going up and down stairs without holding on to the rail

Hold on, I am contemplating this…….

What if the surgeon breaks my femur again?  What if this hip dislocates? What if I can not get up my stairs?

Hmmm….not sure this positive thinking route is working for me.  I guess need to practice some more.

Relaxation, Sunshine and Texas BBQ

Our Houston trip was wonderful!  Remember how worried I was about going through security with my new hip?  The darn metal detector did not even go off as I walked through it.   On the way back home though, in the Houston airport, I did get up close and personal with the body scanner but that was also no big deal.  Another case of worrying for no reason, the story of my life.

 Kindra and DL live in the Montrose area of Houston which I would describe as having homes similar to Brookside with shops like Westport.  One difference to Brookside though is that many of the older homes are being torn down to build new, very pricy townhomes.  With no zoning in the city, it is quite common to see a 100 year old remodeled home sitting next door to a half million dollar townhome. The result is an interesting and diverse mix of neighbors and properties.

 Kindra and DL’s house is one of the newly remodeled older homes.  They have done a great job in updating and refinishing.  I am very jealous of their kitchen with all the custom cabinets, drawers and brand new appliances.  Here is a peek…..

I was loving the sunshine and temperatures in the high 80’s ….seems KC is never going to break out of this rainy and 50’s mode. 

On Saturday we had brunch at Baby Barnaby’s which is in walking distance of Kindra and DL’s house.  The food was excellent and the freshly squeezed orange juice was incredible.  They had a machine on the counter in which they kept feeding in oranges and the juice was flowing directly into the pitcher they were using to fill up our glasses.  I can not tell you how long it has been since I have had a glass of freshly squeezed OJ…..it was SOOOO good.

Dave really wanted to try some Texas BBQ while we were there so we ordered several items from the Goode Co including ribs, brisket, sausage, jalapeño cheese bread and jalapeño pinto beans.  I think everything we ate in Houston had jalapeños in it.  Interestingly enough there was no pork on the menu.  I do not think I have ever seen a BBQ restaurant in KC that did not have pulled pork.  I did not try the meat, but Dave said it was good.  I did try the sauce and beans though…..the sauce is very thin with a vinegar base and the beans had chunks of apples in them.  Definitely different from KC style but every last bite was eaten.

 We spent most of the weekend just relaxing, visiting and playing with Percy. 

It was a great way to savor my last few weeks of mobility before I am housebound for another 6 weeks or so.  (20 days until surgery number 2!)  Thanks Kindra and DL for a great weekend!

Jack the Brave….

I love stories of courageous animals and heard a great one this past week about a dog that I have had the pleasure of meeting personally.  Say hello to Jack Daniels (son of the recently departed Whiskey). 


Jack is a full bred boxer and owned by a close friend’s son.   He is also a brother to Bella, who is owned by my daughter’s in-laws.  Jack is a cherished puppy who has been known to have a steak grilled solely for him on his birthday.  He often gets to sleep over at his grandparents house and play with their dogs.

Jack also has two sister cats, one named White Kitty and one named Grey Kitty.  Here is Grey Kitty..

 A few nights ago Jack’s owner was on the second floor of his house and heard a late night knock on his door.  He was not expecting anyone at that hour so was slow to walk down the steps and answer the door.  Before he got there, he heard the front door being kicked in.  Jack was not slow to the front door at all.  He immediately started chasing and barking at the intruders. 

Jack’s owner, upon hearing the door being kicked in, opened an upstairs window thinking he might have to make a quick escape out the second floor if someone was coming in the first floor.  Much to his relief, from the window he could see the two would be burglars running for their life after encountering the unexpected ferocity of Jack protecting his house and his person.

 Way to go Jack!!!!

 Jack’s owner called the police and then called his dad to help him fix the door.  After all was secured, Jack’s owner decided to stay with his parents for the weekend.   As they were backing out of the driveway the headlights of the truck passed over the roof of the house and they spotted Grey Kitty sitting on the roof.  It seems that Jack’s owner had forgotten to close the window during all the commotion and Grey Kitty decided to have her own little adventure that night.  She was happily surveying the world around her from her high perch as cats love to do.

 Jack’s owner ran back in the house and upstairs to the open window.  After much coaxing and a little meowing, Grey Kitty decided to come back in the house for the night.

 I am sure Jack’s owner and his parents are thrilled that Jack is such a great protector.  People usually assume their pet will protect them in an emergency although they certainly never want to really find out.   For Jack’s family at least, they can rest assured that Jack the Brave will be there to save them from harm and Grey Kitty will serve as lookout.

New Hip and Airport Security

For Easter we will be traveling to Houston to visit Kindra, DL and granddog Percy.  I am very excited to see them and their newly renovated home and am so looking forward to some sunshine and temperatures in the 80’s.  I am getting VERY weary of the cloudy, 50 degree days we had here for what seems like months.  I thought this was spring.

 I am a little worried (a sport in which I excel) about the flying aspect of our travels.  I have never been a fan of flying.  I have flown many times, including at least 12 times to Europe, so you would think flying would not bother me.  I am not sure if my brother the research biologist has made me anxious over the germs that circulate in the air of the plane or if my control issues are to blame, probably some of both. 

 An added worry for this trip is going through security for the first time with my new hip and the cane I currently use to help me walk. 

This strange and somewhat creepy x-ray shows the ceramic ball of my new hip, but most importantly, it shows the 8 inch metal spike that was shoved gently hammered into my femur to stabilize the joint.  It also shows the metal band that was placed around the bone when it cracked while they were shoving gently hammering the spike into the femur.  Now don’t tell me this mess of metal won’t be setting off bells and whistles.

 I have no idea what to expect.  Will they take my cane away and make me wobble through the metal detector?  

Will everyone turn and look at me when my new hip passes through the detector and major sirens sound? 

What if they want to pat me down…..they better not even try to touch the area of my incision….it is still hyper sensitive and I do not even like my own clothes touching it. 

Worry, worry, worry.