Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 27, 2010

Provided that kindly hospice care to the foot and ankle and leg this morning. Toe-nail clippers, foot cream, moisture lotion. And while I was at it, I took care of the leg that will remain too. Have to remember that that part also needs attention.

So here is the thinking that has to be done. These replacement limbs are really high technology - really bionic. You can cover such a limb with a cosmetic covering that looks like its partner limb (or so they say), or you can simply leave it looking bionic. The cosmetic covering does not come off the high technology components; it becomes part of the package. You can get a cosmetic covering for the foot - and you need that to wear shoes - or you can get the covering for the whole thing. My current sense is that if you have a bionic part - you should show it off - not cover it up. So, my leaning is to leave this wonderful titanium body part uncovered, uncosmetized. (How do you like that word?) Mostly it won't show because I wear long pants in my daily existence. But I would get to see it as it really is and I would get to show it off now and then.

As I'm working through things, I'm not quite sure that I am finished with this one.

And that quilt I went to work on last nite - and will get back to for a little bit right now. Tried three times before I got one small piece right. And I have do do thirty-six pieces exactly like it. It's complex. I suspect that's why the call the class a "master class".

Will take grandchildren (some of them) to the movies for the 11:3o am show. Off to see Tim Burton's version of Alice

Friday, March 26, 2010

March 26, 2010

Woke up this morning thinking about the foot and ankle. Wondered if I should just ignore it or if I should treat it as if it was in hospice care. Thought about not cutting the toenails as they would be tossed in three and a half weeks anyway. Decided hospice care was the better model. So, I will pay attention to the toes and put cream on the leg and treat it well in its last four weeks.

Saw my therapist just a bit ago and we talked about what happens to the leg after it is cut off. I am NOT bringing it home with me, even if the powers that be would let me. But some ceremony is justified, and probably necessary (for me and for some of my family - my daughter, a couple of the grandkids). So perhaps we bury the brace and the sneakers that I am wearing and plant a tree over the burial site and then say a prayer or sing a couple of songs. I would like to cremate the brace and sneakers as the surrogate leg, but burning this material might be difficult.

When talking about the prosthetic today, I found myself saying, "When I get my REAL leg". That caught me by surprise. I like it though!! So, when I get my real leg, I am going to do more digging in my garden and I am planning my first trip - to the Oregon and Washington coast. When there last, I was not able to walk very much. This time I plan on doing a lot more walking.

Now I will work on the quilt top that is part of the master class I am taking, and then make chocolate chip cookies.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 25, 2010

I was fussing about coming home with no leg one or two days post-op and being home without a leg for a month. So this morning I called Health South Rehab Hospital (Hammerville) - where I would go for rehab when I am ready for the prosthesis. They told me I could be discharged directly to the rehab hospital and stay there for somewhere between seven to ten days. During that time they will work with me on using crutches with a different balance point then I have ever used before and they will provide wound card. (And also they will feed me and help me bathe and stuff like that). After seven-ten days, I will go home - but much more recovered than I would be two days post-op. I am breathing deep breaths of relief. I will be able to manage ten to twelve days post-op after some help at the rehab hospital. And then its only about twenty days to prosthesis time. At that time I go back to the rehab facility for another week or maybe two. That's my one remaining big worry crossed off the list.

Have I noted that you can drive with a bionic right leg. At first I thought I needed some modifications to my Prius - like hand controls. Then I thought about a left foot gas pedal (been there, done that), but the Prius doesn't really have room for that. Then I thought about simply extending the brake pedal so I could brake with my left foot driving with my right (my friend Calvin does that), but then, after research on the web, I found that this is a non-issue. You simply get in the car and drive with the bionic leg.

And now, with the damn weird foot, I am going to take myself for a manicure, something I have done once before in the almost four years I have been in Pittsburgh and probably done less than ten times in my life.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's about 6:30 Wednesday morning and I should be on a plane arriving in Chicago. Instead, I'm sitting in my bed writing my blog. I set my alarm (or so I thought) for 4:15 am so I could leave for the airport by 4:45. I woke up at 5:15 and found the alarm set to snooze instead of to wake. So much for working with my friends at UIUC this week. I am trying to reschedule the trip for two weeks out.

I saw the orthopedist yesterday. We scheduled the surgery for April 21 - a Wednesday. And he said that I would go home either Thursday or Friday. It's the going home part without part of my right leg that is a little scary. I asked where the amputation would occur and had him draw me a line on my leg. 2/3 of my lower leg will be removed. Why so high up, I ask, as it is just above the ankle where the problems begin. This has to do with accommodating the new, hi-tech prosthesis. And to stroll in Seattle and on the Oregon coast and in Paris and Brussels and to do a b&b tour of Ireland, I want a new, hi-tech prosthesis for sure.

Many of you have seen the old picture - 1970 - Annie and "the boys" at the IBM data processing managers seminar in San Jose. I was garbed in an off-white polyester dress with a mini-skirt. I was looking at my legs in that picture just this week. They are big and strong and they look healthy. I am going to miss that right leg, even if it doesn't look like that anymore.

I took some photos of the x-ray of the foot yesterday and will post one of them later today.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The weather here is beautiful. It pulled me to the yard yesterday and to raking. By evening I knew that I should not be putting as much weight on this foot that is falling off. I put myself down (that is to bed) at about 6:30 pm. Showed son and grand daughter bare foot and grand daughter screamed that is was awful, weird, terrible. Actually it mostly looked like a huge sausage sort of attached to the leg. Son brought me up two crutches, walker, and a pain pill. I think the message it to bear less weight on this foot for the next few weeks. So, I am trying to use two crutches to walk and to not think that I can do yard duty this spring. Probably should take advantage of the electric carts the next time I do grocery shopping, and I do plan on one more trip to Costco before I have the surgery.

I am facing my own "to-do" list that I probably cannot accomplish in the next few weeks, not because I don't have the time, but because I should not be two feet on the ground that much. I really want to get my quilt space in shape to cut out some blocks relative to a "master class" that I am taking (and that I won't finish). May have to simply let this project slide. Darn.
And the taxes still loom. I am heading to UIUC this week, so the taxes will simply have to go on next weeks calendar.

See doc on Tuesday. Should be more definite about a lot of things after that visit.

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 19, 2010

Had a phone conversation this morning with Dave, the prosthetist - one of my new best friends. (Didn't ever pay much attention to the existence of such folks before this new process began). We talked about rehab facilities - inpatient vs outpatient - need to check my insurance here, but I am hoping for maybe a week of inpatient rehab.

We talked about how you shower if you are not good at standing on one foot like a crane. Turns out, if you don't have a cosmetic covering on your foot/leg, it is okay to get it wet. And, you can also get a "shower foot", that is rubber, not good for walking, but good for showering. Need to evaluate whether or not I want a cosmetic covering or if I want to show off my bionic leg.

Then my questions were: 'Can I wear clogs with my bionic foot?' Answer is 'Yes'; 'Can I wear sandals?' Answer again is 'Yes, and remind me to work with you on getting a foot with a sandal toe, so you can wear thongs.' Who'd a thought it???

And what about the different kinds of feet and ankles. Dave said your requirements are assessed but he would guess that I would want an energy-storing multi-axle-ankle foot. Does begin to sound really space-age, doesn't it? This energy storing stuff stores energy when you move one part of the foot (the toes I think) to be used by another part. This is not a "run a marathon" foot, but it is a walk in the park or stroll around Brussels or Paris foot.

I asked Dave what the name of the Brace I currently wear is - because I forgot and wanted the name for future reference and it is an Arizona brace. This did not work to keep my foot in place, but I can't imagine where my foot would be now without it - probably handing off the side of my leg.

I see the doc again this coming Tuesday and we will move this process forward. There are lots of interesting options and associated decisions to make. I can start working on some of them sooner - like rehab facilities - and some of them come a bit later - like kind of foot. But, I'll get smarter before I have to lock in the decision.

And that's today's report.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 18, 2010

Seems I have my schedule intact, finally. Went to the gym this morning and worked with the personal trainer. He is convinced I will be in shape pre-surgery. Let me tell you a bit about this guy. He is not one of the "kid" trainers - he is about 40 years old. He looks like a wrestler, big strong body, shaved head, two earrings. So today I found out that he was a weight lifter and holds some world records in some of the presses. But even more interesting, he is an Elvis impersonator. He has a gig this weekend. And in the summer he is really busy in the south doing Elvis impersonations. He practices his singing while he rides his stationary bike at home. I am meeting some really interesting people.

About the ankle, I wear this firm ankle brace all of the time during the day and take it off to sleep. When I don't have it on, I am very unstable. Last night when I got up to go to the bathroom, I was convinced that I felt the foot slipping further off the leg. I have taken to using at least one crutch most of the time when I am ambulating, simply to keep the weight off the leg and to keep the leg and the foot together for a few more weeks. I am going to UIUC next week and to Penn State in three weeks to finish my work (except by phone) for this academic year, and I want to keep myself together for those jobs.

Then I have some interesting quilting things happening that I don't want to miss. I am taking a quilting master class (in Finleyville - about 40 minutes from home) and I would like to get to at least two more sessions of that class (meets bi-weekly) and a quilter/fabric designer of renown, Lucy Prior Lucy is talking in Finleyville in four weeks, and I would like to go hear her.

So, I have done the body stuff for today and been to my church women's group. We had a most interesting speaker there, an anthropologist talking about sex and gender. All sorts of new information for me. And now I am going to do my head stuff - seeing therapist - bringing pictures of me as a younger person.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I've been a bit dingy for the last day. I did see my new friend Calvin yesterday. We met for coffee in Panera's and he showed me his leg and his prosthesis and we talked about how this thing worked. Calvin is a young man (37) and when he is walking you have no idea he has a bionic lower right leg. He drives his car with this leg - using his left foot for braking. I can do that - I am driving now with a brace that keeps my foot and ankle together and with just about no feeling in the extremity. It's the braking I am worried about because in the Prius, the brake is not easy to manage with the left foot. (I have driven with a left foot gas pedal using my left foot to also brake in past episodes with my foot. My friend Bob might remember what it is like driving a car with a left foot gas pedal when no one told him it is there!!). It really helped me to meet with Calvin and have some more understanding of what life is like post amputation.

But then, I had a date with therapist yesterday - I thought it was at 3pm, but it was at noon. Blew that one. This morning I thought I had a date with trainer at gym, and got up and got there and that appointment is tomorrow. And I thought my church women's group met this morning, so got myself there (after doing some work on stationary bike) and they were't there. I do have a calendar someplace and I have all of this stuff in it. It would be good if I looked at it. So, now I am going to find it. It seems like I'm a bit ditzy right now. Have to get my head back together - be at the right place at the right time - get the stuff done that needs to be done.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March 16, 2010

I have been sending notes to friends around the country about the state of my ankle and what is coming next. So most of you already know that I am going to have my right lower limb amputated in the next few weeks. I thought I would run a blog about it - rather like a diary - to keep track of this process for myself and so that friends and colleagues who are interested could periodically check in and see what is going on with this significant event. I put a chronology together for my new doc, that goes back to shattering the ankle and breaking the tibia and fibula in 1988. I'll post that when I get a few minutes, but for now I want to go back to seeing the doc last week - and getting up to this afternoon.

Monday, March 8 - returned from a long weekend away with my Santa Fe Women's Group. It was our 11th year of gathering, and this year we gathered in Austin TX. Good friends, fun, food, some exploration. A great long weekend.

Monday, March 9 - saw a new orthopedist. Had been waiting for this appointment since October. New x-ray of ankle area. It is a disaster. Nothing holding foot to leg. In effect, the foot is slip-sliding away. Options are (a) a high risk ankle fusion - may not heal. If it does, mobility is limited - and it is four months of no weight bearing or (b) amputation of the lower part of the limb and then a prosthesis. Approximately six weeks until I walk again. Improved mobility. Reduction of pain. Was told to go home and think about it. I didn't think there was much to think aboutl

Monday, March 9 and Tuesday March 10. Checked in with daughter and son, Julie and James. Neither were surprised and both agreed I should go for the amputation. Decided I needed a therapist to process this with and a personal traineer to get body in shape prior to surgery, more time on crutches, etc.

March 10. Went to a Women's Group from church and told friends. Much support.

March 11. Went to a quilting group lunch and reported there too. Again, much support. On way back from group stopped at health club, talked to a personal trainer, and made a date for Monday.

March 12. We are up to Friday now. Saw Kathleen, therapist. She sent me home with an interesting to-do. I am seeing her again this afternoon.

Either Thursday or Friday evening, Calvin called. He is an amputee and we made a date for coffee for Tuesday morning (this morning - and will report on that in next post).

And I went about the business of living during this time while trying to figure out what I have to finish before I put myself back in the hospital again and come out with a different body configuration.