Thursday, December 30, 2010

December 30. 2010, Pittsburgh PA

Arrived home from Cape Town last night by midnight. Plane arrived at 11 pm. Left Cape Town at 1 am. All done in one day with actual lapsed time of 31 hours - airport boarding to final deplaning. Went from Cape Town to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Pittsburgh. Why Minneapolis you might ask? I don't have an answer - I thought I had booked home flight thru Detroit. Found that I slept for most of those 31 hours, and slept again when I came home. My airplane behavior seemed to be, board, read a little, fall asleep, wake up when food comes by, read a bit more, fall asleep, repeat. Trip went fast. I can do that again.

Haven't figured out the best way to travel in terms of prosthetic leg. I know to get an aisle seat so my prosthetic is in the aisle. That way I can slip put of the socket and stand up and slip into it again. But all those hours in the gel liner - and that would be about 31 plus and additional 14 or so hours or so (from waking up in Cape Town on Tuesday morning to going to bed in Pittsburgh around 1 am Thursday - 45 hours in same gel liner with no break - is really hard on the skin. Skin breaks out in red blotches - almost like skin burns - probably resembles a baby's diaper rash. Actually, I should put myself on bed without liner on for a while as soon as I finish this to give the limb some healing air time. There are a couple of groups of lower limb amputees out there on the web and I should join one. I don't have to reinvent this stuff for myself; it's time to talk to other folks about how they do it.

Other limb related incident while on my sojourn in Cape Town has left me with a beautiful black eye. One of my nights in the lovely little house in Muizenberg - half asleep, I decided it was time to get out of bed to pee. I forgot I didn't have a lower limb. So, I landed on the floor, kerplunk, after hitting my forehead on the corner of the cabinet by the bed. I forget I was semi-legless once before while in rehab and tried to step out of my wheelchair - to pick up something I dropped - and also took a tumble, but that was when the amputation was fresh. This event surprised me. Fortunately, niece and nephew were in the house in the other bedroom and both came running. They replaced me in the bed after my potty break; niece fed me arnica and rubbed some homeopathic ointment on my head. I was given an ice pack, and I had no idea of the state of the bump or the bruise until the next morning. Other body parts hurt next day post fall, but it's the black eye that is rather stunning.

Other than that, the leg was not a serious limiter on the trip. Did some limited walking - but wasn't about to hike the hill to the lighthouse at Cape Point or trek to the top of Table Mountain. Would not have been able to do that with foot as it had been for the last few years either. And in Kruger Park, unless you sign up for extended hikes with guides with guns, all of the exploration is in your car. Staying in car was a struggle for some members of my family, and on more than one occasion, park guards came by to reiterate the need to stay in car. On one occasion, in a small road bypass, son-in-law decided he was going to step outside car (I don't remember reason), and a slew of Vervet monkeys slid down, jumped down, almost flew down - out of the tree he was standing by. Don't think they were planning to attack him, but they certainly were not happy with him. He quickly returned to car. Glad it was not baboons in the tree, or the home of hyenas. I did not get out of the car on our sojourns. And I did adopt the front side of the Mercedes we got from Hertz (because the smaller cars - as we requested were all gone). We had the one Mercedes and one VW Polo for our five days in the park. I knew where I belonged.

Those are the leg adventures on the trip. The rest of the trip stories are about the wonders we saw and the pain and poverty we saw. Perhaps I will put them out here or find another home for the stories. I am so glad that I went. I could have stayed longer and seen and done more, but I did have some experience of living in a middle class community in a white part of Cape Town. This is such a segregated city - economically and physically. And those are the other stories.

To my friends, it is almost the new year. I wish you Joy and more Joy in the coming year as well as peace and love and good health.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19, 2010 - Cape Town ZA

I have chosen to have a quiet day. Niece and twin 15 year old boys arrived last nite. Large part of my family has gathered here in Cape Town. And they have all gone someplace - eight of them - piled into one VW Polo. It looked like a clown car this morning. I said, "no thank you" and I'm here chillin'. Tomorrow we all (nine of us) head for Kruger National Park for four days. This is a huge adventure for all. Unsuccessful in renting a large van - so we will drive two cars and that may be for the best. Communication with each other by phone. I love this menagerie of humans, but not for too long at one time.

So, I probably didn't report that I brought a sewing machine with me to Africa. I figured I couldn't go a month without a bit of stitchin'. And when I opened unpacked it to stitch, the darn thing wouldn't turn. Nephew David (mechanical engineer) and I tried to take it apart to see if we could fix whatever was broken, but there is some magic to getting these things open all the way. Finally took it to Africa Sewing Machines; they fixed it quite promptly. So, today, I am continuing to make some blocks for the quilt that will match my prosthetic leg. I think I figured that I need about eighty 5.5 inch squares. And these are simply not the quickest squares to put together. I just did three in the last couple of hours. That takes me to twenty some. Might still be working on these when I go on my next Wisconsin quilt gathering the end of February.

Walking is okay. But I am not going to walk up any mountains with anyone. Prefer walking where there are coffee shops every half mile or so (or book stores with chairs for perusing good stuff), places to stop, get off the foot, let body regroup.

The baboons - we went to Cape Point - end of the Cape of Good Hope - and on the way came into close contact with a conference of baboons. Big ones, little ones, moms, dads, babies. They had taken over the road and a large parking lot on the side of the road. They were happily breaking antenna off cars, using cars as trampolines, and simply gathering in this place. A small truck with a covered back and pulling a small trailer, apparently had food in car. This was a great attraction for this conference. They broke into the car and dragged out all the edibles and then spread out over the area. We sat for almost an hour in our car watching. Will put up some pictures and maybe a video or two on facebook when I get home.

Gonna see if I can get six of these blocks done before family (mine, not the baboon family) reconvenes. Will leave sewing machine with granddaughter, Maeve, for the balance of her stay in Cape Town.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14, 2010, update from Cape Town

This is an 'annies ankle' blog, not a travel log - but I don't imagine I will ever get this far from home again. Not only is this a different continent, it's a different hemisphere. What I love most about being here right now is he day light. Sun rises some time around 5 am and sets sometime around 7:30 pm. This is truly a luxury in December. The warmth is nice too, but the day light matters even more.

About my ankle - I am sure that I am walking more than a mile in one fell swoop. My nephew, David, and I are in the area of Cape Town called Muizenberg. Daughter Julie lives in area called Observatory. David and I are at the beach. Julie - with car - is much closer to downtown. So David and I are doing some walking. Today we took the metro train three stops to area called Kalk Bay, hit all the little shops along the main street and some of the side streets in this beach town (David says it was like Leucadia on the California coast just north of San Diego - I say it is like I remember Malibu in the late 50's or Leucadia in the 80's). We had lunch at Kalky's right on False Bay where the fishing boats come in.

Yesterday we visited one of the townships located within the city of Cape Town, Masiphumelele. This is the smallest township - occupies about one square mile, population more than 24,000. We visited the library, a creche (day care center - 65 small children in one very small room) and then we experienced a healing ceremony led by a Sangoma and a Sangoma in training. Then Charlotte, our Khosa guide, took us to her shack for tea and conversation. I could write pages about the creche, the healing ceremony, and the visit with Charlotte. Walking the streets of the township was an interesting challenge, and even more challenging was walking the rocky dirt paths between mazes of shacks to get to the shack of the Sangomas and then out of the maze again.

A couple of days ago walking back from the beach in Muizenberg, I tripped on a manhole cover. Thought for sure I was gonna land on my face, as that is the direction I was going. Managed to move both legs forward quickly, almost in a run, until I went from halfway horizontal to vertical again. Daughter and nephew applauded. (Nephew was about to grab me, but I moved forward to fast for him to do that). Was a bit shaky after this, but clearly, I succeeded in doing something I didn't know I could do. I keep thinking that I have plateaued in the use of this prosthesis, then I have to look at how far I am walking in one episode right now as well as that recovery from an almost fall and realize I am continuing to gain mobility and endurance. And I have to remember, I actually jumped off the train one day this week because the step was a bit too high. That was pretty weird - didn't really know I was gonna do it, but I did.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 10, Saturday morning in Cape Town

I have invited some neighbors and other folks I have met over for tea (iced) and something else this afternoon. Grandaughter Maeve is with me this morning and we are trying to bake. Her assignment was banana muffins, mine gingerbread. We got through the banana muffins with only minor extra darkness on top and a bit of icing seems to have solved that. Then I put the ginger bread in the oven. Oven temperature only goes to 260 degrees - and then something that says something about higher. So, I set oven to highest possible temperature. When ginger bread was totally burnt on the top, I realized I had a problem. And then came the "ah-hah". The thermostat on this oven must be talking to me in centigrade instead of Farenheit. 350 degrees Farenheit is something like 170 centigrade. So, we peeled the burnt top off the ginger bread and now have the remainder baking at 170 C. It is taking too long though, so I am not sure how to master this oven.

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

Decmber 7, 2010, From Cape Town ZA

Learning to translate Rands to dollars and dollars to Rands. R7 is just a little more that $1. Means you have to think in much bigger numbers for groceries and stuff than I am use to. A grocery bill of R1400 is $202.75 today.

Some interesting and new experiences/learnings:
1 - Their are "security guards" in all public parking lots and major streets. They watch your car while you are gone, direct you out of your parking space, may direct you to a parking space and expect to be tipped. It seems that R5 is the going tip.

2 - The stove in my house - it is the same size as a large toaster oven. It has two electric burners on top of a high powered toaster oven. Not exactly what I am use to cooking on/in, but I did good roasted vegetables one night and tonight I did a chicken curry on the stove top. I like lots of things about this place, but I could do with "more" stove.

3 - BBQing is a big thing here. The BBQ is called a "Bri" (rhymes with try and fry) and the process is also called "to bri". Did that the nite of the roasted vegetables. (Not sure of the spelling of bri).

4 - Grandaughter Maeve has been learning some SA expressions in school. Turns out that 'now' implies 'eventually', 'now-now' seems to mean 'pretty soon' and 'non-now-now' means 'right away'.

5 - Wind has been fierce in Muizenberg the last two days - probably in all of Cape Town, but really fierce here - blows the curtains in house so much (as I left a window partially open when I went out) that it sets off house alarm.

6 - About alarm - everything is locked and alarmed. Doors and windows all have bars - pretty ones - but bars. House is alarmed. There is a safe in the house and I am told it is best to lock things like computers in safe before leaving. Poverty with associated theft is rampant.

I think trip to Kruger National Park is planned. It will be a four night adventure with all of family that is here. Hope we see some of those large animals.

And next thing to do is plan a guided visit to a township. And of course, simply take off to see the penguins and baboons and ostriches.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5, 2010, From Cape Town ZA

I'm not sure I believe it. I have one real leg and one prosthetic leg, I had a skin thing removed from my arm in Pittsburgh on Monday, I am going to be 75 years old tomorrow and here I am in a beautiful little house three blocks from the beach in the part of Cape Town called Muizenberg. The beach is at False Bay, the bay where the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet.

About the traveling part of the trip. First snow in Pittsburgh as I was getting ready to go the the airport. A friend took me to the Pittsburgh airport with two full bags - one at 49.5 pounds and the other with a sewing machine in it, in case I get bored. Bags were full because daughter Julie asked if I would bring clothing I was no longer interested in for the woman (Vat??) who cleans her house. So I did a partial closet clearing before I left home and brought clothes and shoes for Vat. Certainly won't miss the stuff and could easily do the same thing all over again.

Anyway, to the airport, checked in, I'm one of the folks that gets that new pat down - can't seem to avoid it - and no one wants to see inside of the prosthesis which seems to me to be the place to hide combustibles. I was plenty early and it was time for lunch. So sat down in TGI Fridays in the Pittsburgh airport and while picking up the menu realized that my arm (minor surgery on Monday) was bleeding beyond the bandage. Ate lunch, then stopped at info desk and asked if they had a nurses station around where I could stop in and get a little help in changing a dressing. Answer was no, but they would call the airport based paramedics. So, the paramedics came, we walked to my gate then they changed the dressing. This was no big deal.

The big deal was that the plane was a bit late in leaving Pittsburgh. Snow delayed the incoming flight from somewhere in the midwest. So, finally headed out of Pittsburgh - landed in Detroit at 4:55 pm, at the end of Terminal C, the small plane section of Detroit airport - quite a jog to the "big plane" section - terminal A. I had asked for a wheelchair and the young man with the job did a speedy trip from the end of Terminal C to the Terminal A gate. Plane to Amsterdam was to leave at 5:55 pm. This flight was boarding when I got there, but because of the wheel chair they took me to the front of the line. My boarding pass was rejected. Then the gate agents told me I was not going to Amsterdam until the next day, that I was a day early. I suggested they look again. After looking a couple of more times, they realized that I had been automatically rescheduled for the next day because the Pittsburgh plane was late and the computer, I guess, didn't approve of the connection. Delta had given my nice aisle seat towards the front of the plane away. They did get me on the plane, and after some fussing, they did get me an aisle seat - with an aisle accessible to right non-leg. It worked. The flight out of Detroit was a little - but not a lot - late. Next is Amsterdam where I have been assigned a seat in the middle someplace for an 11.5 hour trip. I said that wouldn't work. After some fussing - and being told multiple times that there were no aisle seats available, (my trip to Cape Townwas cancelled when Detroit Amsterdam leg was cancelled and when reinstated, seat was changed) an aisle seat was somehow found. I was on my way to Cape Town - as scheduled originally.

I had a book I was reading, knitting, my folks music loaded up on my new IPod touch, and sleeping to do, so I made it through the long flight. Did do a lot of it with the prosthesis sitting next to my leg instead of on it. Seemed to work.

Arrival in Cape Town - wisked through customs by someone pushing me in a wheelchair and on to baggage claim. Guess where my bags were? In Detroit of course. So after an hour plus waiting and filling out forms, I got out of the controlled area to find daughter waiting. (It's now 1 am in Cape Town on Dec 3. Left Pittsburgh at 3:30 pm on Dec 1. Subtract 7 hours from Cape Town time to get to Pittsburgh time (8 hours to get to Madison time). Jules took me to her house and we just went to bed.

Slept the first night and the second night in Julie's house, and moved into my beautiful little space yesterday. The children slept here with my last night, but I am on my own tonight as they have school tomorrow and son-in-law Kevin has orthopedist appointment tomorrow morning prior to surgery scheduled for Wednesday on his very broken collar bone. Kevin was riding Maeve's bike in an emergency run for keys (don't ask!!), fell off and broke collar bone in several places. Then my nephew David (the tango dancer) is arriving from Santa Fe tomorrow afternoon. Julie is driving this little VW polo - driver's side on wrong side of car. I can't drive polo because I need gas pedal on the left, Kevin can't drive polo because he can't drive anything right now. Julie is sole driver and tomorrow will be hard.

Regardless, I am soaking up Cape Town ambience. It feels a bit like the southern Calif coast - between Oceanside and San Diego - felt in the 1960s. I loved Leucadia back then. I think the house I am in is about 900 square feet - two bedrooms, living room, dining room and kitchen. You are instructed to carefully lock yourself in, and also to lock up and alarm the house when you leave. (This is different the southern CA in the 60s). All houses have wrought iron gates on the front doors and on all windows. Surrounding poverty breeds theft. I will visit a township before I leave, but the message is it is best to be accompanied by someone who lives in the township area or, at least, has friends in the township. Will work that out.

Hope to visit Kruger National Park - see those grand animals. Also have to work that out. It requires an airplane ride and a couple of nights stay over. More on that later.

Now, as I am alone at last, I am going to go to the Kiva web site and do a micro loan and then to the Heiffers International web site and buy goats for Xmas from my grandchildren to the places of most need. Just finished Nicholas Kristoff's book, "Half the Sky" and gotta do something. Was gonna do the goats anyway, but the book has spurred me on. Recommend it to all of my friends if you haven't already read it.

Probably more than you ever wanted to know in this story. Regardless, I will try to do some entry every few days to keep you posted and to help me remember.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

November 28, 2010

Getting ready for trip to Cape Town. Leave Wednesday. Need to start packing. Spent Thanksgiving in Cold Springs NY with neice Michelle, grandnephews, Arizona and Hanan (almost 16 years old, getting taller every day) and Michelle's extended family. Home of Mich's Aunt Laurie and partner Manuel. Lots of Manuel's family, all Spanish speaking. Very warm and gracious. I wish I wasn't so linguistically challenged and knew more of the language.
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

November 20, 2010

I haven't blogged in more than a month and friends have asked me what is going on. What is going on, of course, is that I have made myself "busy" again. That means that I have figured out how to manage this prosthetic leg in a way that lets me live my life pretty darn fully. Some things I still can't do, but I have figured out things that were worrying me just a month or so ago.
Like, how to go to the bathroom in a strange place in the middle of the night. (At home I keep a port-a-pot by the bed so I can do a quick up and down). I have found it is not a great inconvenience to turn on the light, pull on the gel liner, slip into the leg, go to the bathroom, then return and reverse the process. Not as quick as the port-a-pot, but much safer than a bed pan on a chair which I did try - not very successfully. Bed pans slip off chairs in friends houses if not carefully managed when full.

Another how-to is how to bathe in various and sundry bathrooms where the conveniences in my bathroom don't exist. If there are not lots of bars in the bathing area, I simply so the best job I can sitting or standing at the sink. Safety is more important than absolute cleanliness. Shower chairs are pretty wonderful things - work in bathtubs - but again the bars matter.

Airports and the new security procedures are something else. I hit the total body rub-down in the Madison airport on my way home from a quilting trip on November 1. It was their third day of this procedure. I didn't know it was gonna happen. I figured it was just the regular wanding and back of the hand pat down that I always get. They don't have the full body xray machines in Madison (yet). So another 1/4 inch and they would have been inside me. Whole thing doesn't make sense. If I was carrying anything, it would have been inside me or, better yet, in my prosthesis. They did not ask me to remove the prosthesis. I asked them what it was about - pointed out they were missing the real places while doing this ridiculous massage. They said they were not asking people to remove prosthesis because it would be too intrusive. The inconsistency was not something the supervisor was prepared to talk about. He gave me a comment card to send to TSA. Pittsburgh Airport has the x-ray machine, so I will probably miss another total body pat down when I leave the country in ten days. They can look at my body fat same as for everyone else. I do get tested for explosives, but that is much less personal than the full body x-ray or the rub-down.

About me and my leg - I can walk the three blocks to our little retail area and back with no problem. Could probably do the round trip twice in one fell swoop if I had to. That would likely be it without a rest. I was able to do that with the small dog to deliver him to the groomer a couple of weeks ago. First time I had walked a dog since surgery. Had been afraid of being pulled. Little dog (35 pounds) was very well behaved so that is one more activity mastered. Won't take the big one walking (60 pounds - and more hyper).

And today, I have TeVa type sandals on my feet. I am checking to see if I can get around in them. I think I will tuck them in suitcase for South Africa trip. It's gonna be warm (70-85 degrees according to darlin' daughter) and we will be near the beach. And maybe I'll go buy a new pair of sneakers on Monday - my favorite shoes with this unreal foot. I am able to wear my good clogs and do put them on when I want to look a little more dressed up but I feel best walking in sneakers that lace up.

I bought a new big suitcase to go - my old big one is already in Cape Town as I lent it to my traveling family. I leave on December 1, return on December 29. Will do an occasional blog from the beach house in Muizenberg.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October 16, 2010

This is about the new prosthetic. I got my new socket this Wednesday. It is pretty beautiful to look at - and you can see it on my facebook page. I don't want to spend the time to figure out how to get pictures on this blog (and I'm sure it is easy). I took some quilt blocks that I was working on, put them together big enough to cover the new socket, and they were "tattooed" on the socket. It surely is one of a kind.

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

October 7, 2010

This morning, as I was driving to Physical Therapy with the car windows open - enjoying the 70 degree weather, the song that kept running through my head was "It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood". And I was only four or five blocks away from Mr. Roger's real neighborhood - where he lived in Pittsburgh. My mind kept going about the gifts I have been given. I will be 75 in December. My mom died at 60, my dad at 65. In my early 40s, I was the oldest person alive in my whole family. And here I am, coming up to three quarters of a century. My life has been interesting, and often really good. And it's good right now, even with out one of my legs. I was discharged from PT this morning. I have not achieved my goal of being able to walk a mile non-stop, but I bet my daughter will push me to that when I am in Cape Town in December. (Other PT goals all achieved). Not willing to walk in Frick Park alone (with or without the dogs) yet either. That too may wait until Julie returns from Cape Town next summer. Otherwise, I am going about my life quite well, thank you. I'm driving, I'm visiting interesting places, I have interesting friends, I am working some (was at Penn State in State College this week and last and in two more weeks I head for Champaign-Urbana and UIUC. I did that great Seattle and Oregon trip. I am getting ready for a quilting week in Madison and the month of December in Cape Town.

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

September 29.2010

I'm at the Penn Stater Hotel - having spent the afternoon working at my "part-time job". Drove up this morning - 140 miles - an about half way up I wondered if it wouldn't be easier if I took the prosthetic off. Everything feels crammed in the small floor space in the driver's side of the Prius. Stopped at a sane place and removed prosthetic and hit the road again. Must say it was a rainy and foggy trip - although when I could see the trees through the rain and fog, I realized fall was here and the colors were approaching glorious. Between the goldenrod in full bloom and the trees changing, it is a beautiful place. But back to the leg removal - this was the second time I had driven without the prosthetic in place. My immediate sense was one of vulnerability. Sort of like - I need that leg on to do whatever needs to be done. Not true of course because it is pretty useless and in the way on the road. Anyway, I must have gotten over that because I ended up playing "you pass me then I'll pass you" with a truck moving logs that was going 85 downhill and in the 60s up hill. When he was in front of me, the water coming off the back of him made it really hard to see. I think I finally got ahead of him - left him someplace in front of someone else.

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

September 15, 2010

I'm in Seattle visiting my friend, Jacqueline. Did my airplane run on Sunday. Overslept and missed the airport shuttle that was at my house at 4:45 am. Did not hear them calling on cell phone, which, of course, was downstairs and I was upstairs asleep. Woke up at 5:20 am and worried that I could make plane leaving at 7:10 am. Was out of house and in my car by 5:40 am. I had pretty much packed the night before. No time for a shower. Surprised that I could get body with leg organized that quickly. Made the flight with little time to spare. Security took a bit longer than usual. I have been wanded forever because of metal body parts but they did that little rub down test on prosthesis to check for explosives.

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


Another quick update. I put on real shoes this week. I took by SAS clogs to PT and worked to see if I could walk with them and the prosthetic. The answer is yes. So now besides the two pairs of New Balance sneakers I have been wearing for what seems like forever, I have added two pair of clogs to my footwear. Feels good!!

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

August 29, 2010

I just did my first significant drive with the left foot. Took the van (daughter's 2002 Toyota Sienna - the one that I did the fender bender in) and drove from Pittsburgh to Allentown PA with most of the long arm quilting table in the van and the 12 foot rails on the top. It was a 270 mile trip from here to there and I was pretty cautious. Think I stayed just a couple of miles over the speed liit for the whole trip. Arrived safely in about six hours where two women from Rhode Island were waiting for me in the parking lot of a Hampton Inn. They came in a pick up truck and they did the moving and shaking. We exchanged quilting machine tables. (I wanted a smaller one and Irene wanted a bigger one and we did an even up trade as they cost about the same). I spent the night in the Hampton Inn where I got to test my home made porta potty model (bed pan on chair beside bed). It worked. Drove home today.

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

Autust 21, 2010

If I forget to take my morning drugs - specifically the neurotin, and maybe the celebrex, by this time of day (5:30 pm) the phantom pain is really banging at me. Have to remember, have to remember!! And now I think I will go double dose.

Monday, August 16, 2010

August 16, 2010

I thought I was doing well yesterday. Went to church. Hung out and talked to folks. On way home stopped at new holistic pet store in neighborhood. Beautiful little shop. Bought a new collar for Rags and high priced dog food. It's made by Pinnacle and noted as superior canine nutrition. Who knows? But Moose and Rags seem to love it - even the pickier Moose finishes it in one sitting.

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

Agust 13, 2010

Daughter's van (once was mine) sits behind my house for this year while she and her family are in Cape Town. Took it and had left foot accelerator installed yesterday. Now I have two vehicles that I can drive. More room in the front of the van to house the prosthetic foot than there is in the Prius. Still trying to figure out what to do with the whole right leg thing in the Prius. It can simply take up space that is there in the van. I figure that if I take longer Prius trips (than the 20 or so mile trips I have taken) I will simply take off the prosthetic. But now I have this vehicle with room. Gas mileage ain't near as good - but right leg is much more comfortable. Interesting trade-offs.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 10,, 2010

It.s been ten days since I've put anything up here. As you probably figured, life has more normalcy than it has had for the last three months or so. I'm doing a lot of the regular living stuff. I think I told you all that I had my Prius modified so that it has a left foot accelerator. On Friday, the same thing will happen to my daughter's Toyota van so that I can drive that too. I can't let it just sit behind the yard for a year - and besides having a van is good sometimes. My first long trip will be in the van - to Allentown PA - to exchange a twelve foot long arm quilting table for a ten foot table. Irene, in Rhode Island, wants a bigger table; I want a smaller table. We found each other on a quilters mailing list. Allentown is about a five and a half hour drive - sort of halfway for each of us. I think I will take the prosthetic off while I am on this road trip. In the small Prius, the challenge is really where to put the prosthetic foot while driving. I'm not sure I'll have the same challenge in the van, but I really don't need this thing on in the car.

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

July 30, 2010

It's been a busy and interesting week for me. The highlights of the week were yesterday and today. Yesterday son James took me to Johnstown PA for a date with Tim Brant of Brant Driving School. We drove around a parking lot in tim's little red Ford Focus until he was clear that I knew about a left foot gas pedal, then we did a couple of parallel parking exercises to be sure I had that down pat, then Tim took me to Penn DOT in Johnstown where I took a driving test. Last time I did that was in 197 - quite a while ago. Tim drove me through the probably course first, then we signed up in the office and Dan met me at the car and tested me. After telling me I jumped the curb, ran a stop sign, exceeded the speeding limit and hit a chipmunk, I got my license updated. Actually, I had it down pat, and my parking was exceptional. Then today, James took me to Keystone Coach with my proof of adaptive driving license and a prescription for a left foot gas pedal. After two hours, I had a left foot gas pedal on my car and drove us home from Bethel Park. Driving is not the challenge. What to do with Daisy and Tiger while driving is something I am figuring out. I think if I was to drive long distances, I would take the prosthetic off. So, once I got home and James went on his way, I fixed some lunch and took off all by myself for the movies. I am reminded off the name of one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books, "Oh, the places you'll go". I get to go again.

(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

July 26, 2010

It's a day alone for me. Wow and whoopee!! I didn't get out of bed until 10:30 this morning - spent from 7:30 am on reading a book by someone I worked with at Northwestern, Sophie Littlefield, who is writing fun novels. That was my fifth book for the week, one Scott Turow, one Harlen Coben, two Sophie Littlefield, and one lovely book sent to me by my friend, Barbara Morgan, title The Cradle, author Patrick Sommerville. One of the activities that I love is lying in bed in the morning with a book. (I fall asleep when I do it at night).

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

July 21, 2010

Something get easier when you simply do them instead of thinking about them or worrying about . So - now that I have the driving test scheduled for a week from tomorrow and the car modifications scheduled for the day after that, I decided it was time to figure out about car rental. I want to rent a car in Portland OR in September for a week. So, I did my rate check on line, decided I should try to rent with Enterprise, and called them telling them I needed a car with a left foot gas pedal in Portland in September. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but they simply said "OK". And that's that. Enterprise told me that calling 48 hours ahead of time would get me a car with a left foot accelerator when I needed one.

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

July 19, 2010

It's 6pm on Monday. Worked with Al Stunden in Oregon this morning so we both knew we were comfortable with Skype. One of these 15 year old nephews was the real help on this.
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

July 18, 2010

It's Sunday at 6pm. Every experience is to learn from, and one of the key learnings for me in this bionic annie business is about being slower and being patient. I use to be able to get up and just GO. Now I have to get up, center myself on my feet, be sure I am balanced, and then I can go. When I prided myself in the past in being able to get up in the morning, shower, dress, be ready to go in twenty minutes (and I have gotten slower about that as I have gotten older, now I need to plan on 90 minutes from the time my alarm goes off until I am ready to leave the house. This is about getting up, putting the prosthesis on, getting the shower set up for myself (I like a walker next to it and the walker is by the bed at night so I don't try to step out and down as if I have two legs - a reminder) setting myself on the shower chair, taking off the prosthesis,, showering, getting out of shower onto chair in bathroom, being sure leg is totally dry, especially in folds behind knee, putting prosthesis back on, folding up walker and tucking it away (behind toilet it fits nicely), back to bedroom to dress, collecting clothing to wear, taking off prosthesis as it is too big to fit over undies and slacks, getting those garments on, putting prosthesis back on, putting on rest of clothing, taking yesterdays gel liner from prosthesis to bathroom to wash, back to bedroom with it to hang it to dry on special do-dad, taking pot to bathroom, emptying, washing out, putting some make up on (and I forgot brushing my teeth earlier, but you knew about that), back to bedroom with clean pot, make bed, am I ready? Maybe, but I might want to put on some earrings and I might want to find my watch, and I don't want to go downstairs without the bag of socks to go over the gel liner in case my leg shrinks in the day and the prosthesis starts veering right while the residual limb keeps pointing forward. Anyway, that's at least an hour of stuff without having a cup or coffee or tea or something. And I am trying to adjust to the fact that I will have to plan on this forever.

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

July 12, 2010

It's 10:30 on Monday evening. I have been at a soiree for my daughter - one of her singing groups hosted it. She and her children are leaving for Capetown for a year this Friday. Her house is rented so the staging for this trip is in my house. The soiree was quite nice. There was a soiree yesterday too - at my house, where the folks who came brought the foodstuff. Tomorrow evening she has a banjo outing, but I do believe that the children and I sill stay home. I will fiercely miss these folks once they are gone. They do lighten my life.

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

July 5 #2

4:45 pm - a really quick entry. was out in the yard picking up dog doo with just one cane. fortunately there was not a lot. then i sat down for a minute and had another haiku in my head. thought i would write it down before i lost it:

House and The Girl Who
Entertaining mind candy
More, more, I want more

And thanks to Susan and Cam for their recent haiku contributions!!!

July 5, 2010

It's about 2:30 in the afternoon on the 5th of July. I spent the morning in bed finishing Stiegg Larrson's second book, "The Girl Who Played With Fire". I am afraid to start book three because I know that I will be immobilized for another day and a half. I find these books mesmerizing. I have a huge pile of wonderful reading material to go at - actually piles - my living room and bedroom each have multiple piles, and I'm sure I can read nothing else until I read book three. Perhaps I can get through the day without starting the book.

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

June 27, 2010

It's Sunday at 1pm. I've had an interesting couple of days, and I have to consider what is important to document - and the sequence to do it in. I think I'll do this in terms of subject matter instead of time sequence which was my first inclination.

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

January 24, 2010

Thursday morning - have Tiger on - yesterday kept Tiger on for more than eight hours. Didn't mean I walked on him all that time - but certainly did some walking and lots of up and down stuff - out of the chair, do this, back to chair, out of chair do that. Did this using cane as much as using walker. I must admit that I spent most of yesterday processing the pile of papers that seems to never end (I think because I don't know what to do with all of them) and watching MSNBC and the coverage of the McChrystal, Obama, Petraeus saga. It's worth many books, and I'm sure many will come. The Jonathan Alter book that I just finished helped me with perspective about this and perspective about what why we are engaged in this war.

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

June 22, 2010

I haven't written anything since I have come home. It is hard work being at home with this prosthectic. Certainly was easier to be in rehab where bathroom, especially, was so accessible and where my bed was made and my meals were prepared. More work at home, and there simply is work to be done besides, the laundry, the dishes, a bit of sweeping, the list does go on.

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

June 19, 2010

It's 8 am on Saturday. I'm on my way home in a couple of hours. Will walk out with walker. Will be better on cane in a couple of weeks. In PT yesterday, Marc had me doing tight obstacle courses with the cane. I'm still a little wobbly, but I'll get there.

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

June 18, 2010

It's eight weeks since my lower leg was cut off and I was left with Daisy. And I do expect to walk out of rehab tomorrow - on two legs- probably using a walker. I have learned that the wheeled walker is easier to use, and easier to use less (by that I mean putting less weight on it and trust in it) than the unwheeled walker. Marc, my physical therapist convinced me of this by a trail run on both. I have both at home, and I'll have son bring one with wheels to use to walk myself out. Not ready for going the distance with the cane. Will have PT at home for a bit and expect to master walking with cane before therapist is done. And from there, I simply get more comfortable until I can walk without any aids.

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

June 17, 2010

The word is socket
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

June 16, 2010

It's only Wednesday. My stretch goal was to go home walking with a cane on Friday. Yesterday I didn't think it was at all possible. Today, I walked with a cane. Just a short walk - but I did it. I will go home on Saturday (so I get all possible therapy on Friday), and my prime walking support for a while is likely to be a walker. But it won't be long before I will go to the cane. So, I'm doin' it!!

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

June 15, 2010 2 of 2

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.

June 15, 2010 (1 of 2)

It's about 5pm - and I need to be to the dining hall for dinner before 5:30, so perhaps I will be quick about this. 2 of 2, coming after supper, is something I put on the MOR Associates site yesterday after reading an interview in Newsweek of John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems. But, 1 of 2 is about this day.

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

June 14, 2010

Back in rehab. Checked in last evening and began work late morning. Prosthetist worked with me on black carbon fiber shell (I'm not sure what you name these parts. First step is to pull a magic teflon type sleeve over Daisy. After that the carbon shell goes on. Screw on bottom of sleeve has to fit perfectly into shell. Haven't mastered that yet. That means you have to get sleeve on Daisy in exactly the right position. Maybe I'll have that down pat before end of therapy day tomorrow.

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

June 10, 2010

It's Thursday afternoon and my friend, Ruth, is at the sewing machine. She came from California to be with me for a few days and as a side product of her visit, to get started quilting. So, yesterday, with another friend, Johanna, we went to the quilt shop, Ruth bought some starter stuff, and she is now starting. Yea, Ruth.

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

May 5, 2010

How do you run after a dog that has gotten away, from a wheelchair in the rain? Came home from supper with a friend yesterday evening. Note on my back gate from neighbor I don't know, Mike, saying Moose got out - he returned him - Moose got out again - he returned him again - and then he locked the gate tighter. Regardless, Moose was gone. As I was going out, I thought it might thunder, Moose panics in thunder, so I locked him and Rags in the house. Moose left house by jumping through an open window - through the screen. And he can open the gate if it is not double locked. But I don't know how he got out of the yard after Mike put extra tie on it. Clearly he went over the five foot fence somehow. He was nothing, if not determined. Called daughter to come and look for Moose as Moose is Julie's, but was staying with me. Then called Mike to tell him thank you and turned out Mike had Moose and had given up trying to return him for the third time. During a thunder storm, Moose wants to crawl inside of a human being - and I guess Mike was available for that. Julie took Moose back to her house. Moose will stay with me while Julie et al are in South Africa starting mid-July for the year. We have to figure out how to cope with Moose and thunder. Julie thinks we should get a kennel and I will kennel him when I leave the house. She probably has the solution. Littler dog, Rags, usually follows Moose on his journeys, but the window was beyond Rags. The fence would be beyond Rags too. Good!!

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

June 1, 2010

A quick update after visit to prosthestist. Leg was cast for prosthesis. According to Bobby - who will become one of my new best friends - it takes about a week to turn this cast into something I can wear. And if the prosthesis casting is good, from there it is just, according to Bobby, assembling parts to make the rest of the leg. The feet options matter. I told Bobby that I wanted to walk a lot and that I wanted to do some hiking. So, I'll see what he comes up with. I'm moving along on schedule. Should be in rehab learning to walk with this new leg in two weeks.

Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31, 2010

Off kilter woman
Building off kilter quilt blocks
Colors glorious

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

May 27, 2010

It's 5pm - and I returned from a great outing about 45 minutes ago. My friend, Johanna, took me on a trip to Quilt Company in Hartwood Acres and then we went out for lunch (pizza). Johanna and I are both a bit rash when it comes to buying fabric. If we see it and we love , we mostly buy it. It's much easier for me to spend money on fabric than on anything else. So, I have a new beautiful pile of stuff as an addition to my stash, and that I will use initially to continue to build a quilt inspired by the quilt book, Liberated Quilts by Gwen Marston. ( A get-well gift from friends based in Boston). I'll make 30 liberated blocks and go from there.

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.