Thursday, December 30, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
There is a good bakery about 1/2 mile from here, and if we need to, we will walk over and buy goodies for our little meet-and-great.
Other news, yesterday was the day to visit the penguins. Hope to meet a neighbor today who was a prisoner on Robbin Island and talk to him about how to do the best visit. Have a trip planned to one of the townships with a guide for this coming week. And have our four day safari to Kruger National Park all booked for right before Christmas. I love the long days - the sunshine - the 70F weather.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
For me, one of the highlights of the few days was the walk we took by the Hudson River and into the town of Cold Springs. I think I must have walked a mile. And that has been my goal for this year. Got it!!! So, next year I go for another mile. It's probably reasonable to try for two miles by summer.
And now, to get a nice dinner made for son and his family before I leave town for the month of December. And I think I'll treat the dogs to a bit of roast beef or turkey (brought home some turkey) too.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
And this socket is much smaller than the last one. I probably told you that the residual limb shrinks - it is part of the process, and is likely to keep shrinking for a year or so. So, this is unlikely to be my last socket - but it could last for a year. And it is offering me some challenges.
The pipe, or stem or pylon - it is called many things but it exists between the socket and the foot - is longer than the previous one. So the socket it further from the foot. Seems to me as if I have to really learn some new balancing techniques. I am not as stable as I was on the prior socket. And that means, that I simply have to take two canes or a crutch or something and get very deliberate about walking as exercise. I don't know any other way to get comfortable with this. And I'm not sure that walking around the supermarket with a cart or from my car to the movies works. I simply don't focus on the walking when I do that. So, let me start today. I'll have some food and take a walk around the block before I start my errands.
And I am starting my day really late. I read a book last night and this morning "Banished" by an old friend, Sophie Littlefield. Sophie worked for me when I was director of an organization known as ACNS at Northwestern. She is now writing the kind of novels that I love to read, and I didn't get up until 10:30 this morning when I finished the book. Started it last night, picked it up again at 7am and finished it. You go Sophie!!
So, if I am going to get my stuff done today, it it probably time to go for it.
I will keep posting about how I do with this new socket. (Next big "anniesankle" adventure could be a new foot in the spring - maybePost Options even a computerized one).
Friday, October 8, 2010
And I had my second fitting for my second prosthesis today. The residual limb shrinks, and after a while, the prosthesis is really sloppy on the limb and it's time for a new one. My new one will be ready next week, and wait until you see it. I will take a couple of pictures (or have someone take them with me and the prosthesis as one) and post them on facebook.
Just came home from seeing the facebook movie and dinner with a friend. Want to get that book and read it. And now it is bed time and time to start another book. (Just finished a mystery about Inspector Gamache in Canada (what's the French section called? the province that houses Montreal? is that Ottawa? - delightful mysteries). I'll see what the pile by my bed is made of and pick one - take off this prosthesis and call it a lovely day!!
Monday, September 27, 2010
That's the drive. I guess I 'got over it honey", the vulnerability thing that is. And I'll bet it happens again.
So, what's the learning on this trip? (Last trip was more learning about the bathroom at night. That learning was, move out of bed when you wake up, put the leg on, and go into the bathroom. Don't lie in bed half awake waiting for the urge to become urgent. Just get up, put on prosthesis, and do it). This trip I have forgotten the second gel liner. I have two gel liners for the residual limb. I wash one every morning and hang it to dry for the next day. So, I washed my gel liner this morning, hung it to dry, and forgot to take it with me. That means I only have the one I am wearing. I need to figure out how to "dry-clean" this one, so that I am not putting a sweat covered liner back on for two days. I think I can do this with baby wipes (which I did remember to bring - I wipe down the limb each nite after I take off the days liner).
I am getting better at living with this prosthesis every day, but I don't have it quite mastered yet. Probably never will - as usual - this is a journey, not a destination.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
On the flight from Charlotte to Seattle, residual limb felt as if it was swelling some. I guess that's not surprising as body parts do swell up on long plane rides. I was reluctant to take off prosthesis for fear it would be clumsy getting it back on. Need to figure that out - perhaps on trip home.
Jacqueline and I are simply hanging out, lunching out with friends, talking a lot, reading some, and simply enjoying being with each other. And tomorrow I head for the Oregon coast.
Enterprise Car Rental is ready for me in Portland with car with left foot gas pedal. They have called me to confirm. Wonder if the pedal is similar to the one I have on the two vehicles at home. I hope so.
And that's my quick update from the northwest. Blogs are not nearly as interesting as life returns to a more ordinary state.
Oh - when I get home I get fit for a new socket for my prosthesis. Residual limb has shrunk such that current socket can't be adjusted any further. This could happen a few times before I settle in to my more "permanent" socket. Then, will I have a leg made that looks a bit more like a leg? I think I have asked that question before. Answer still not clear.
Friday, September 3, 2010
And the next news is that I went to see Bobby, prosthetist, to have socket made a bit tighter. It was getting wobbly, and I was up to 10 ply in terms of prosthetic socks. Bobby put a lot of stuff in the socket to make it tighter, but he says it is time to be refitted. So, he's gone next week and I'm gone for the two weeks after. When we are both back we cast the leg again, and use the cast to build the next prosthetic socket. (This could happen three or four times (or even more) before I am finally settled in my lifetime leg. It's because the residual limb shrinks from the continued pressure of the gel liner and the socket - and this is a good thing. I'm hoping a socket that's a little smaller will be a little lighter and also allow me to be a little less clumsy in some of my movements. Interesting question is "can we make this next socket low enough behind the knee that I can ride a stationary bike?' Don't know the answer but need to remember to ask Bobby.
The stationary bike thing is about building endurance. Mine is not great. I can walk for about twenty minutes and I am done in. I have tried the upright and the recumbent stationary bike and neither works. Simply can't move the knee to where it needs to go because the prosthetic hits the back and stops the movement. So, right now I am using the arm bicycle. Therapists say when I come back from journeying, we are going to try the pool - put me in with a flotation device, and have me treading water.
I've had a really busy week - lots of good friends to see and things to do. I'm heading back to work part time as soon as I return from my two week vacation (starts 9/12) and I want to return to my quilts. So life continues to be almost always interesting, often a treat, and some of the time, a serious challenge.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Daughter's van is easier to drive than Prius. It has more room in front to hold the right leg in its prosthesis, the seat goes back further for getting in and out, and the steering wheel lifts up higher supporting easier in and out as well as simply less crowding. The ideal vehicle would be a car with no console between the two front seats - a flat floor - like the old bench seats. As it is though, I have these two Toyotas for the year, and we will stay together for at least that time - those vehicles and me.
Next challenge will be flying, and that is scheduled for two weeks from today .
And having survived this drive, and deburred my dogs (big one absolutely covered with little burrs), I think it's time for bed.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
But back to the day. So, I was pulling out of my parallel parking space. All of a sudden, I realized there was another van right beside me and our front sides were gonna touch if I didn't stop right away. And instead of hitting the brake with my foot, I hit the left foot accelerator. I quickly caught myself so this was only a minor fender bender, but it is another thing on the long list of items to be taken care of. And this was in my daughter's van that I just had equipped for left foot driving. My observation about this is that my brain and body are not yet adjusted to the left foot driving. I had to react really quickly and the signal I sent to my left leg/foot was wrong. It was a "brake on the left" signal, even though I am driving with my left leg/foot. I clearly need more re-wiring.
Otherwise life is uneventful. I am getting more and more use to this prosthetic leg and foot. The morning process which use to take almost an hour is down to about twenty minutes. I've gotten more organized about it and it has gotten easier. I have been worrying about how I was going to pee at night when I was traveling. A nurse friend (we were playing cards on Saturday evening) suggested I get a pile of disposable bed pans, put one on a chair (with a plastic bag under it just in case), put the chair by the bed - and magic - I have built my bedside commode. I am going to try this out as soon as I get my hands on some bed pans. If this works, the last travel hurdle that I can think about right now is taken care of.
This whole new lower leg and foot thing has been an interesting adventure. It's posed challenges about how to live my life as normally as possible, without putting a burden on family and friends, being able to live as I had imagined I would live in retirement. Not sure I want to stay in this beautiful two story cottage. I'm thinking about that, but the desire to not have stairs is probably as much about getting older as it is about the leg. Know that I don't want to go white water rafting again. I probably could, but I simply don't want to put my body through that kind of an exercise. And that doesn't mean I won't do a quite paddle in a canoe or kayak.
And I want to think about how I can make a difference to the community in which I live. The last couple of years have been preoccupied with surgeries, learning to walk, having a big setback, learning to walk again. While I know that I can get much better on this leg, it is time for me to do something else. I am hoping I can do that (whatever that is) through my church community and some friends and I are exploring what might be possible. (If you don't know, the church is First Unitarian of Pittsburgh).
And now, I have to get my passport renewal application in the mail and work on building my calendar for next year - so that I can respond to some friends who are planning good stuff.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I just made part of a blackberry pie. It occurred to me, that making a pie is a lot like making a quilt, but faster. It has a top, a bottom and a middle. All the parts need to be handled separately and then they need to come together. The other thing I realized is how much I move around while working in the kitchen. Just making the pie dough involves twisting and turning and bending (get things out; where is the salt; am I going to use the blender or the mixer; are all the parts in the same place; I know I have a better measuring cup than that). And the stuff I am working on in Physical Therapy supports those funny kitchen moves. I'm working on balancing (hard on the prosthetic foot), walking backward, walking a braid, rocking side to side and back and forth. All moves I made while mixing up the crust and the filling. And I'm sure I will end up with similar moves when I assemble these pieces. Now I can stop wondering why I am doing these silly exercises.
Recently read a short (true) story where a female athlete (runner) with a prosthetic leg says it takes about a year to really use it well. I keep holding on to that when I get frustrated that I can't do things faster. I have no inclination to run a mile, but I would like to be able to walk more than the 17 minutes I did in PT this morning. So, I have to keep working at this. Maybe when I get to Cape Town in December I'll be up to 40 minutes. I have to see if that's a reasonable goal - and if so - make it happen.
I'm going to start puttering around the country next month - and will have a busy fall. Some of it is work and some is play. Couple of important things to do soon so I am ready for this puttering. First one is to be sure I have the dog care managed well. Other thing is to get my passport updated. It expires in early December. Going to use the Allentown trip to see how well I fare in a hotel - how I get to the bathroom at night especially. Have a couple of thoughts of things to try. Actually, gonna practice the one foot hop.
I will try to update this blog once a week - keep you all posted on my progress. And now, I am going to finish a quilt block, and by then it might be time to assemble the pie. (Crust had to go in refrigerator for a while before rolling out).
Friday, July 30, 2010
(Why is blogger changing my margins, putting numbers on paragraphs, etc? I'm simply going to ignore so I can get this posting up and out).
So beyond that, I had two good deliveries today - new dog beds arrived for Moose and Rags. I have makeshift beds in my bedroom next to my bed. Without their own bedding, the dogs want on my bed. I'll see how they do on their new beds tonight.
And I ordered two new pairs of trousers from someone who sells Flax stuff. And they just arrived and they have lovely large legs. And I have a large bin of pants to take to the resale store in Swissvale. Now that I can drive, I will do that. It makes sense to get rid of stuff I won't use, as hard as it is to give some of the stuff up.
And I made a date to take my Toyota to the dealer on Tuesday to take care of that recall (remember the Toyota recall stuff), to get the brakes adjusted and see what Toyota wants to do with a tire that keeps losing air on me that I bought not long before my surgery.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Had PT this afternoon. Used Access transportation to get back and forth. This is the local service for the elder differently abled. I'm one of those. Folks very courteous and timely - at least today. Will do this again on Wednesday to get back and forth to PT. On Thursday and Friday I need attention of son to get me to the driving folks and hopefully get me my license. Friday is scheduled for getting left foot gas pedal on car.
Learning how to manage this prosthesis better. It's a matter of changing the weight of the socks on the gel liner on Daisy. I am currently up to six ply. That's as far as I have gotten. Foot has stayed straight for a while today so six ply seems right at this moment. But it does change during the day, so have to carry socks of different weights and be ready to change them. And I have two gel liners, one has a longer screw on the bottom than the other. I have on the one with the longer screw today (they simply get changed each morning, put on a clean one, clean the one from the day before and let dry). With all this ply and longer screw, I sometimes have trouble in getting prosthesis off when want to bed down at night. So - working on getting another appointment with prosthesis - make the pylon just a little longer (maybe another 3/8 of an inch of length), but make the screw that ratchets the gel liner into the prosthetic a little shorter. This is really minute tinkering.
And I have ordered three new pair of trousers on the internet. Hope they work. I have filled a big bin full of my pedal pushers and slacks to go to the local resale shop. This prosthesis makes my big leg even bigger, and most of the slacks in my closet simply won't go over the leg with the prosthesis on. I have set a few pairs of pants aside with plans to put a strip of fabric up the legs to make them bigger.
I'm learning to walk
Forward, backwards and sideways
With bionic leg
Living alone now
House empty of all people
Just me, Rags, and Moose
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
And the other thing about this recovery process is that the phantom pain has not been relevant for the past few days. I think it's mostly gone (rather than that I am not paying attention to it). There are some weird sensations, like when I get out of the shower in the morning and for a while thereafter, I feel as if the phantom foot is totally water-logged. So, when I pull on the gel liner, I feel as if there is a puddle of water in the bottom of it. This goes away over the next hour or so, and it is more interesting than troublesome.
And now, I'm going to take my rollator and walk to the Square (Regent Square shops - about three blocks) with the twins (grandnephews, 15 years old) and get either pizza or Thai food for an early supper.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Right now, I am waiting for a pot to boil so I can fill it with pasta. Made a small batch of pesto with basil from my garden. Basil is very happy, and I have lots more pesto to make. So tonight we will have pasta with pesto and some red snapper to put on top of it and a salad. These boys are non-meat eaters, and I am figuring out how to work with that with the stuff in my refrigerator and freezer. Neighbor said she would take me to Trader Joe's in morning, and I can be sure we are all set for the rest of the week (and beyond).
This is supposed to be a quick update. I have been in touch with the Drivers Ed folks. I am scheduled for my drivers review as well as a test with PennDot for a week from Thursday (July 29). Tomorrow, I will call the folks who do the left foot gas pedal install, and see if I can get that happening on July 30. If I can make that so, I'll be able to do all sorts of stuff without calling on family and friends.
Now I'll go see if the pot is boiling.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I have had some morning dates this week - a trip to the Farmer's Market in the Strip yesterday with my friend Karen. We left my house at 8:30 - and I did set my alarm for 7am. Great trip - thank you Karen. This morning I went to church - scheduled pick up for me at 9:30 am - so again, I set my alarm to accommodate. I'm learning.
I have three PT appointments scheduled for this week. Balance and endurance seem to be the name of the game with this PT group.
And I am going to get back to work on the driving thing. I CAN drive with a left foot gas pedal and I am going to stop fighting to get licensed for both left foot and hand controls and go for the left foot so that I can be vehicularly mobile. That means I have to get on the schedule for these drivers' ed people to take me to PennDOT for testing (after they have given me a lesson or two that I don't think I need - but I've been wrong before and that is how they earn their keep). So, I get on their schedule, son drives me to Johnstown (about 2 hours from here), they give me a lesson on the spot, I take test in Johnstown on some day, then we take one of my vehicles and get left foot gas pedal installed - and that is an hour in another direction completely, and I'll bet they have a waiting list too. The same day testing thing is theoretically possible, if, according to the guy who evaluated me - asked me what month it was, who was president, etc - the owner agrees to go along with it. So, tomorrow I call drivers' ed place and try to be nice to the owner, or whomever I get on the phone. Son has final exams in school this week, so I am hoping we can do this next week. Son, James, is being a real sweetheart about getting me from here to there.
Maryland twin grandnephews are here with me for a week. 15 year olds. Tied to their computers. Daughter Julie and grandchildren Maeve and Liam left for Cape Town on Friday. They have arrived safe and sound.
And bedsides getting this driving thing down pat, I am trying to figure out how to travel. West coast in September. What mobility aids will I need to take? Guess I wait a few more weeks before I settle in on this.
Monday, July 12, 2010
And my prosthesis has been bugging me for a couple of weeks. I have been convinced it was too short - and also, I found that it was turning. So, after sitting a while, or sometime while walking, i would find myself discomfited, and take a look down and find the right foot pointing far to the right instead of straight ahead. Looks weird. Feels weird. Finally got a date with prosthesis (who said I had been calling the wrong number). I have a new, longer pylon - and we added about 5/8 inch to the length of the prosthesis. Also have some additional padding inside Tiger, to inhibit the rotation, but that is likely to continue to be an issue until Daisy shrinks more and develops a new shape. And, we all think that Tiger could be even a bit longer, but will hold off on that for a couple of weeks. This lengthening made a real difference. Walking is easier. Back is less stressed.
Other biggy today was evaluation for driving with assistive devices. Would you believe that I had to take a series of tests where they showed me pictures and asked me which picture was like the others? They also asked me if I knew what month it was and what time it was. I did pass those tests. I am fussing about wanting to be certified to drive a vehicle with a left foot gas pedal as well as a vehicle with hand controls. Drivers' Ed folks tell me it is one or the other, not both. I have not finished challenging that, as I find no place in state regs that say that. I have experience driving with left foot gas pedal in past lives. Would need more training on hand controls. And I have to be licensed to drive and get a prescription to have my car modified. And I have to get on a waiting list for all of this stuff to happen. Bureaucracy at it's finest here. My challenge is not to be so in folks face that they don't want to work with me to get this done quickly. I want to be able to drive ASAP.
And I was thinking about pain level. It's become very modest. It's worse towards the end of the day, so right now there is a bit. Gave up pain pills quite a while ago. Still take neurotin in large doses, but I have reduced the amount of the drug by 1/3 because i keep neglecting to remember my mid day dose. It occurs to me that the pain question and answer, easily falls into haiku format - so here it is, and then I am hitting my bed and my book.
Time to report pain
What is your level of pain?
Between three and four
Monday, July 5, 2010
House and The Girl Who
Entertaining mind candy
More, more, I want more
And thanks to Susan and Cam for their recent haiku contributions!!!
The other way I have found to spend time as I am "resting" is watching House. I am not a huge TV watcher - a couple of the major network shows, CNN and MSNBC. I'm not sure how I happened on House, but I became hooked here too. And BRAVO seems to run entire evenings of House reruns, and I ordered past seasons from Netflix. I haven't turned on the TV since I started the Stiegg Larrson books, but I guess I could watch another disc of House reruns before starting the next book. And then again, what is the virtue in that? One mind game versus another. Good I haven't gotten hooked on WII or something similar. That would be never ending. At least these are both finite.
So about the recovery. I am walking. I can walk without any aids, but not far and it is hard. I do great with two crutches and okay one one crutch. I do okay with two canes and am able to walk with one cane. Yesterday daughter and I had a day out. I for sure needed another sneaker (actually a pair, as the prosthetic wears one too). Physical therapist, Terry, had suggested I get a rollator. What is a rollator you may ask. You see old folks with them at the shopping malls. They are sort of walkers, with four wheels, and a padded seat. You can use them as walking aids and when you get tired you can sit down. Mine is red aluminum -bless internet shopping. So, off we went with rollator. Church first (two canes to get to and from vehicle to church service), where friends welcomed me as they had not seen me upright, then off to visit a friend of Julie's who was visiting in town and wanted to see Jules before she headed for Capetown. (Jules and children leave on July 16). Then we went on our shopping spree - a trip to Marshall's and to DSW's. I got a couple of clothes items and a pair of sneakers. This rollator is a great invention. We were out shopping for a couple of hours, and I could not have done that without the rollator and the option to sit down every ten minutes or so. Last stop was dinner at Mitchell's Sea Food Restaurant. Then we both headed home and to bed (where I went back to THE book). Heard fireworks. Didn't see any and that was fine by me.
And this all followed five days at Granny Camp. Granny Camp is a special place that my friend Beth and I have been taking grandchildren for four years now. (I need to note that I don't take all grandchildren, it began with and has stayed with just Julie's children, Maeve and Liam - and that is another story and one that is hard to tell, and probably not a story for this blog). Beth brings her grandson, Jamison, and a another child Catherine who is a dear friend of her family. Granny Camp is on 40 private acres in the Finger Lakes area, up a half mile private dirt road. There is a large pond, a main cabin, and a couple of subsidiary cabins. The outhouse is a two seater. Water is pumped from a well into a holding tank. Are you getting some idea of what this is like? My nephew, Mark, flew out from Oregon to drive me to and from Granny Camp and he stayed the five days with us. I was concerned about whether I could manage in this kind of a place. I used two crutches and did okay for the five days. Mostly I sat around, watched events, played Banagrams with Mark and read that book and one other that I had started before I got to camp as well as a Robert Parker book that I found at camp. I kept Daisy clean with those wonderful aloe body wipes. I did travel with lots of mobility assisting gear - a wheelchair, a walker, two crutches, two canes. I have to pare this down before I start traveling by plane again in the fall. And I do have a trip to Seattle and then to Depoe Bay OR planned for September. I want to go to Capetown in December. I had hoped to take another grand daughter to Manhattan this summer, but I simply can't see myself doing that trip that soon.
So, if you ask me how I can doing, I am likely to say "Okay". I'm still not comfortable with the prosthesis. And I still have phantom pain - not nearly to the extent that I had it early on. But I am sitting here typing and the damn ghost foot is burning. I want to be 100% mobile NOW. But, I am able to walk - even on unlevel ground - both dirt and hardstuff. I am able to do mild grades (something I understand can be a real challenge). I can't haul furniture around, I can't take the dogs for a walk (they have to be leashed and they might pull), I still need walking aids. And mostly I can't drive my car. Next week I will go for a drivers evaluation. I will report more on that later. I hope the whole process doesn't take too long.
House and The Girl Who
Mind candy for the ages
Time to do some work
Sunday, June 27, 2010
First subject is showers and getting ready to start the day. I think is was my occupational therapist, Tisha, who said to me: "Take the shower doors out and put them someplace safe until you leave the house. Put up a shower rod and shower curtain and life will get easier". Somehow, I had been hung up on needing to also take out the rails that hold the doors, and then figuring out what to do with the holes that would end up in the shower surround. Where was my brain? (Probably hung up on the fact that I needed to deal with this in a pure manner). So, I enlisted son James, who took me on a shopping spree to Costco on Friday with a stop at Lowe's. We bought an expandable shower rod, shower curtain and liner, hooks, and he did the door removal, rod and curtain install. Major change in showering environment for me Moved one of those portable potties into the bathroom and covered it with a shower mat. So, between that seat , the walker as a towel rack, the shower chair, and the doors-be-gone, this has become a do-it-myself process. Thank you Tisha and thank you James. Now for two more hand rails and a shower head that is more portable.
A little bit about using Daisy and Tiger and getting on with walking. My physical therapist, Terry, came by on Friday afternoon and said, "Let's go for a walk". He turned down my request to take a walker, and we went to Frick park ( went in his car), with a cane. He had a second cane and he had me walking in the park with two canes. I'm sure we went a half mile (but my daughter says the round trip trail is maybe 1/4 mile). Did this trek using two canes, and was pretty pleased with myself and with Terry. More on this walking stuff, but I'm beginning to doze right now and think I should post this before I lose it.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
And last night I ordered a rollator and another cane. Now, before Tuesday, I had no idea what a rollator was. It's a four wheeled walker with a seat, so if you get tired, you can sit down. I ordered one with the biggest, sturdiest wheels, so I can try it out in Frick Park. The second cane, to almost match the beautiful one I got from my MOR friends, is so that I can walk with two canes as opposed to two crutches. I guess I just keep trying this stuff. The intent is to eventually walk with no support, but always good to have a cane available. In the interim, I use these assistive devices. The cane I have (a collapsible cane, but extraordinarily strong and elegant) is bronze with a cherry handle. The one I ordered is silver with, I think, a birch handle. Tried to match the one I have but they were on backorder. This way, if I only need one, I can choose based on what I am wearing (me, do that? maybe).
Phantom pain in ghost foot is much less of a problem - still there - but not debilitating. (Knock on wood).
And today, I am going to Frick Park Cafe for lunch with friends Johanna and Jay. We intend to critique, together, the Fiber Arts International Show. I should find my show catalog and take it with me. Not much knocked my sock off at the show. Question - that I need to answer within the hour is: are we taking the wheel chair (distance between parking lot and cafe concerns me a bit) or are we taking the walker - or maybe wheelchair and cane? Maybe by the time I go upstairs, change my shirt, but a little stuff on my face, I will have come up with the answer.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Physical therapist from Home Health Care visited yesterday and today. I knew that I would be pushed by Terry, (he worked with me post amputation), and I was right. He had me walking through the house and on the deck with a cane. Going up and down a step in the yard with no railing with a cane. Sounds simple, but as it is, I am paying attention to every step with the walker, and even more so with the cane. He did say not to do this withoug supervision for a bit longer (including walking with cane). However, he says we will meet in Frick Park the week after next and stroll the paths - with cane.
I am really tired. Don't know why. I stayed in bed this moorning finishing Jonathan Alter's book on Obama's first year. You read that and wonder why you have any right to be tired. That man and his staff and selected members of Congress really did an extraordinary amount of work last year and the begining of this year. I imagine they are working equally as hard now with all the stuff on their plates in addition to the oil spill. Regardless, I'm tired. Will put my leg back on, go upstairs, brush teeth, wash face, do other bathroom stuff, head to bed, take off leg, watch TV for a while.
That's it for tonight.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
And because I haven't reported on it in a while, phantom pain is less. Been in the hospital for seven nights. Asked for pain pills twice. (It's a nighttime thing - pain worse when I am lying down in bed at night). Didn't need much of that stuff at all.
Want to report on one fun thing quickly, and then I am heading to breakfast, my last meal here. I got a room mate yesterday. First room mate I have had since I rejected a room mate after first night in my first stay. I think it has been deliberate, and that is just fine with me. Anyway, JoAnn moved into my room yesterday - a sort of elderly lady (elderly is relative, isn't it, JoAnn is only a couple of years older than me, but I think she is elderly and I don't think I am). She is sweet and garrulous (how do you spell that great word?). And what gave me the giggles is to find myself in bed reading Jonathan Alter's book on Obama while JoAnn, next to me is watching FOX news.
This is my last report from rehab. Gotta go to breakfast.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Occupational therapist for this stint in rehab is Sam. So Sam wanted to duplicate my shower situation at home and have me use that duplicated situation in a supervised manner. He was unsuccessful in arranging for a female sub for him, but I'm flexible and so was he, so we arranged for Sam to provide me support in the shower this morning. So here's the challenge. Get myself seated on the shower chair with the prosthetic on. Remove the prosthetic while in the shower, but before turning on the water and put it outside of the shower stall where it won't get wet. Shower. Turn off shower and dry self, especially Daisy. Reach outside of shower for prosthetic. (Let's name this prosthetic Tiger. Daisy was the first dog I remember from when I was a kid. Tiger is the first dog I had as an adult - and I adored him. I need to come to adore this prosthetic leg). Put on gel liner first and Tiger next. Then step out of shower and continue drying process and whatever else I am going to do before leaving bathroom. Right now, this is all done with the aid of a walker. Challenge at home is the glass shower doors which only open halfway (slide back and forth) and the fact that there is only one grab bar in the shower - on the back side. Need another grab bar - and need to get more comfortable around those shower doors, where it means the shower chair needs to be, and other miscellani. I'm sure I'll get this worked out in the next couple of weeks.
By the way, after shower, Sam promptly left with Tiger. Clearly, PT and OT folks are not going to leave Tiger with me until end of day today. Until then, Tiger and I must be their responsibility. End of day, together we become the responsibility of nursing. Tomorrow, Tiger and I are on our own.
Called Tim Brant (the driving rehab guy) about driving yesterday. He says I can't get certified on both left foot gas pedal and hand controls, that it has to be one or the other. I want both. Want to put left foot gas pedal on my car and on daughter's van (it will be with me for the year she is in South Africa and I want to be able to use it), and I want to be certified on hand controls so I can rent cars when I travel. Not sure where this will go. Right now, I am going to call the folks who do this stuff to cars to talk about a left foot pedal for my Prius.
Gotta go - do some more research on this driving stuff.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Write it and remember it
Socket, socket, yeh!!
I'll walk with a cane
Hard right now, easy later
But I can do it
Next challenge, to drive
Need to modify Prius
Searching for info
Socket, socket, yeh
The word is socket
Write and remember
Socket, pylon, foot
And then there is the gel thing
Gel liner with screw
And the foot parts connected to the ankle parts
And the ankle parts connected to the pylon
And the pylon connected to the socket
And the socket connected with the gel liner
And the gel liner connected to Daisy
And that's the way of my walk
Now back to bed for forty minutes with "The Promise" by Jonathan Alter
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Yesterday's big challenge (or one of them), getting the screw at the end of the gel liner into the ratcheting spot on the bottom of the (of - I've forgotten the proper name of that big carbon fiber piece again) ....., was not a problem today. I seem to have found the right spot to start putting on the gel liner, and also the right angle to go in to the whatchamcallit. Did it several times today with no problem. Lot's of interesting moving back and forth, side to side, as I get use to trusting and using this prosthetic. One new challenge is to turn this liner inside out to slide it on, and also sliding it on, without poking through the liner with the screw on its bottom. Ruined one liner yesterday - and prosthetist, Bobby, says I have the record for how quickly someone has done that. Almost went through the second one today. And these are expensive pieces of gear, so I need to pay a bit more attention.
Now that I know I can walk with this new leg and foot, I have two issues to address. One is driving. On the web there are all sorts of hand controls for about $300 that folks will send to you. And there are all sorts of places that will sell you something that is less well defined and not priced on line. What I can't find is any assessment of any of these products. Also can't find information on how these will work on my Prius. And I need something that I can also put on the Toyota Sienna van that I will have in my parking space for the coming year while Julie et al are in Capetown. It was my van in past years and I need it for a couple of things on my agenda already.
Other challenge is what I wear. Most of the pants in my closet are not likely to fit over this prosthetic leg. I never had small legs to start with and the prosthetic makes it even bigger. It will really stress a lot of my pants and others simply won't fit. My last occupational therapist, with whom I had a conversation said "skirts - Annie - go to long skirts". Well, I haven't had on a skirt in forever and there are none in my closet, but I think she is right. Need to go on a shopping trip. And of course, any skirts I do, will take me back to the 70s. Flowered shirts, jersey tees, long gray hair - back to hippy, earth mother Annie. If only I could wear birkenstock sandals again. (Can't do that lowered heel, but I'll bet I can find something that looks like them, but works for me in a while).
That's today's update. I'll see what tomorrow brings.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
This is the post I did yesterday to the MOR Associates web site. It might be of interest to some of you. It's about leading change and surviving change. I know right now I am surviving, but I am trying to model how to do it well, and I think that is a leadership activity.
I'm sittin' here in rehab - having had an hour of physical therapy where I just started to learn to walk on new leg - and having spent time in the cafeteria after that with Newsweek as my company. This is the June 14 Newsweek issue and there is an an interview with John Chambers in the Business and Technology section. (Another interview with John Chambers). The question asked John by Richard M. Smith, interviewer, is: "You've moved into an area that's very new for Cisco, and that's consumer products. Did you have to teach your team to dance a little differently to anticipate the needs of this new market area?" And John's answer is, " I had to learn to dance differently". He goes on to talk about making decisions to get into new technology markets, but it is the "I" in his answer that really matters. I am learning to dance differently right now - to dance on a leg and foot composed of carbon fiber, titanium, and other materials. And learning to dance differently is a slow and thoughtful process for me right now.
I had a friend visit me this past week, another retired IT leader - a national leader in moving technology into the teaching and learning areas. We were talking about our careers, how we loved instigating change, bringing it about, and how hard it was when it happened to us - when we were the folks being asked to change. We also acknowledged that we had been down the path of personal/professional change many times in our careers and that our success was contingent on accepting some changes we did not relish, and moving on - or forward - doing something. Neither of us had mastered sitting still or simply letting things happen to us. And often, when we saw the need for change - either in the adoption of some new technology or system, or in the organization it meant we would have to change, we would have to do something different, we would have to model doing it differently.
So, Chamber's words meant a lot to me this morning. They brought me to reflect on that conversation from this past week, and they brought me to reflect on the walk I am taking right now (or the dance I plan to do, but that will be a little while). Gotta walk different. Will dance different. Will work to model doing this different stuff with elegance and grit.
As leaders, we lead change, and we change, and we model doing it differently with elegance and grit.
At this very moment I can name the parts that go on Daisy to make a prosthetic leg that I can walk on. The first part is called the gel liner - that goes on before anything else and has the screw sticking out the bottom. The challenge is to get that part on so that the screw will line up with the hole in the bottom of the socket - the carbon fiber shell. That screw then ratchets in to the pylon through the socket. The pylon is the is the shiny metal pipe like thing that connects to the prosthetic foot. The socket, pylon and prosthetic foot are all attached as you put them on. The two pieces to be put on are the gel liner and then the "contraption".
Once I get this contraption all on, I get to walk and side step. I am not doing that hands free yet. I use a walker to go up and down the hall. The side stepping is done between the parallel bars. Need to build up the time I can keep the contraption on and check Daisy carefully after each removal to be sure she is not hurting in any way. So far, so good. I should be able to go home keeping this contraption on for about three hours. (Do I name the contraption? Do I simply call it the prosthesis? Do I continue to call it the contraption? Have to figure that out).
It is interesting to think about life with a prosthetic leg. I am asking questions like, "How do I get to the toilet at night? There are multiple answers. "What do I take with me when I travel, a walker?, the wheelchair?" Answer seems to depend on where I am in my recovery and to whom I am talking. "How about driving? " You can imagine the answers to this. What I am clear about is that I do not drive a four on the floor Fiat in Italy. I guess I need to take tours where someone else is the driver.
My stretch goal is to go home this Friday walking with only a cane. Not sure if that will work out, but I will hold to it for another day, at least. I'll see where I am by this time tomorrow afternoon.
(Blog post 2 of the day a little later).
Monday, June 14, 2010
Physical Therapy wants me to have the arms for the wheelchair. (They are hanging in my basement stairwell because they add weight and bulk to chair). Hope daughter, Julie, remembers and picks them up tonight so they will be with her tomorrow. I am taking a morning leave tomorrow to go to grand daughter, Maeve's graduation from middle school. It's a big deal because she and family are leaving for Capetown for a year shortly thereafter. So these celebrations are important. Arms seem to be about me being able to stand up and walk in walker. I don't need arms to stand up - and Marc, my PT guy has figured that out, but they all still would feel better with me in chair with arms.
How did I get side tracked on the chair. The new leg is more important than that. I trudged a bit between parallel bars. Daisy does not seem red or sore or in any other way bothered by this activity.
Much to my surprise, I think I need to nap right now. Found myself dozing with this beautiful MacAir on my lap. Can't let it fall off. More tomorrow.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
And the big news from yesterday was a visit to the prosthetist to see if he had turned the cast - taken the week before into a temporary shell - that will then be used as the prototype for the carbon fiber thing (I forget the correct name for it, but I'll come back to that), that Daisy will wear, and to which will be attached a bit of titanium leg and a magic foot. This plastic shell looks like a very large water bottle, (the liter kind, not the gallon kind). So prosthetist, Bobby, comes into the room with the plastic water bottle thing attached to a bit of titanium attached to a pink plastic foot, for which he looks for a sneaker. And he is going to put this on me and I am going to walk in it??? Oh dear! I have gotten use to this wheel chair, where I can move quickly and turn on a dime. Son and daughter were with me for this visit. Daughter saw her job as that of recorder of the event - moving pictures, still pictures. Son saw his job as mother care-taker and advocate. I tried very hard to look as if this was just an ordinary event for me - put clearly it wasn't and he saw that right away and became concerned. So there were two of us in this room just a little anxious.
Hangar Prosthetics has a room with a walkway and associated ramp with the bars on both side for trying to walk. So, I rolled up to the top of the ramp, was positioned in my chair facing the walkway and Bobby slipped the prosthesis thing on me. Then I was told to get up and stand on it - and walk on it. Fit was not perfect - Bobby made adjustments. Titanium piece a little too long, and that would be adjusted later. After a galumph on the walkway - maybe two or three galumphs, some adjustments to the water bottle in between - we were done. Well, not quite done.
Question is, what do you want the finished water bottle to look like? It will be made of a carbon fiber material. Can be done in black, can be done in a couple of different skin colors. For all I know it can be done in purple. I didn't ask. You can also have it tattooed. Apparently a design from a tee shirt can be built right into the carbon fiber. There are lots of Steeler and Penguin design prosthestics in this town. I'm not doing Steeler or Penguin. For now, I'm just doing designer black.
Now what? This prosthetic needs to be built, based on the water bottle and Bobby's idea of the "right" foot. It will be ready for me in rehab on Monday. So, I'm checking back into the hospital on Sunday, around 5pm to get ready for the next part of this adventure. I was just on the phone with the rehab place trying to negotiate a room with a view and a bed by the window. I also want to be able to go to the cafeteria on Monday morning, and then go right to PT. Don't want to spend time sitting around while they figure out what to do with me. (And I need to check out on Tuesday morning to attend one of the granchildren's graduation - Maeve from the 8th grade).
This morning was Liam from 5th and I was there (with friend Ruth - nine 12 year olds graduating from a Waldorf School). Last night was grandaughter Ali-Beth from 8th grade - but there were not enough tickets for all of us and accessibility not easy. Three graduations in five days.
So - back to rehab on Sunday - new leg on Monday morning. Next part of this whole adventure!! More blogs coming.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
It's about nine or ten days until bionic leg is ready. I am looking forward to that. I have a friend who has a homeopath, and she has gotten me a homeopathic remedy for the pain in the ghost foot. It's called hypericum. I am popping it regularly in my waking hours and waiting to see it bring some relief. I really just became aware that I have very little feeling in the bottom of Daisy - but all of this wild, electrical energy beneath her. Weird, huh.
Had really good sushi last night at Sakura in Squirrel Hill - a restaurant that I go to on occasion, but that doesn't have the booming business of the other sushi restaurants nearby. Sakura is the closet sushi place to my house, and I need to keep going. I don't want to see it close.
And that's my morning meanderings. It is now 8:30 on Saturday morning. Have an early supper date at 4pm. Need to delay breakfast - have a sort of brunch instead. So, I think I will start the morning with a cup of capuccino and the building of a quilt block.
Loose dog, wheelchair, rain
Not a good combination
Glad dog not gone far
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
Building off kilter quilt blocks
This came to me as I am sitting building very funky log cabin blocks. Not worrying about whether anything is straight. When I get close to 9" x 9" I am adding whatever I need to in order to get to 9x9 and then I square the block off. Figure I will make 30 blocks, add some great fabric borders, and then worrying about turning this beautiful piece of off kilter patchwork into a quilt. My plan is to get one or two blocks done a day before I go back into rehab. So, maybe all thirty will be done by then. Must get the long arm machine up and working again. Moved it from downstairs to upstairs when son and family moved out, but it is not assembled. And I can't get upstairs yet anyway.But this is the answer to turning tops into quilts, and I have a lot of tops awaiting that kind of attention.
Editorial in Saturday's Pittsburgh Post Gazette by David Brooks titled "Out of Control". Brooks focused on the oil spill and talked about the challenges of big systems - and the risks inherent in them. He asked how we build a cadre of people who can ask questions about the risks inherent in these big systems, how we "improve the choice architecture". This certainly applies to the work that we have been doing in large scale computer systems too - and all other major systems where the number of components become just about unmanageable. Interesting editorial. Huge challenge for our world.
I an heading to the prosthetist tomorrow. First step toward building the new bionic leg. I really am just two weeks from trying it out. This will make me just a bit less off kilter. Although I don't ever want to become completely on kilter in my thinking. (Nice thing about the bionic leg is it is a contained system - a minimum number of parts - can be totally understood and managed).
Today is Memorial Day. I give thanks to all those who have served our country in war and in peace. And my prayers go to the families of those who have lost their lives, but even more to the warriors who have come home less than whole in their bodies and/or their souls.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
I said on Tuesday that I would report on progress on this amputation, having seen the doctor, or rather his PA, Chad, the prosthetist, Dave, and a nurse practitioner in training whose name I don't remember. Chad said the orthopedist was done with me - that I was discharged to rehab folks. The nurse took out the 33 staples in Daisy and Dave came in with the "shrinker" and worked with me from there. The shrinker is like a tight orthopedic stocking made to fit the residual limb. Shrinkers come in different sizes, and it is expected that I will eventually down size. In the meantime I wear this 23.5 hours a day. The other .5 is for bathing. And the shrinker is the step preceding being fitted for the prosthesis. So, I have a date with Bobby, another prosthetist, next Tuesday.
Bobby will cast Daisy for building the top of the prosthesis. A week later, I go back for fitting Daisy with the top of the prosthesis, and taking measurements and making decisions about the rest of the prosthesis. And another week later, the prosthesis (yet unnamed) will be ready and I will check myself back into rehab for a week of gait training as well as continued tinkering with the prosthesis. I figure I will be discharged from all of this somewhere between Friday, June 18 and Wednesday, June 23.
Don't know if I will be driving by then, or whether that is a separate mastery process - but I can sort of take this stuff one day at a time.
Pain continues to be a challenge with neurotin remaining the drug of choice. Orthopedist and friends are rather indifferent to this. It doesn't seem to be their problem at all. So I probably need to get closer to my primary care physician on this so we can build a plan together. There are a couple of pain clinics in town with acupuncturists on staff. I am going to try to wait until I am independently mobile to make some dates with these folks. And perhaps by then, I won't have to.
Oil spill surely sucks
Earth and sea forever sick
Young are left to cope
I really enjoy the haiku that are coming back to me. At some time, I will get all haiku together, yours and mine and the haiku that has come by e-mail and even in 'get healthy' cards and put it in one place. It would be fun to see it all sequentially.
And one last note of great interest. Four year old next door, Aidan, and his sister came for a brief visit carrying good food. Aidan wanted to know how I put my pants on.