Friday, April 30, 2010

April 30, 7pm


I just went through the postings to my blog. Lots of new ones, even on older entries. One favor - end with your name please. I'm not sure I can connect all the e-mail addresses with names. And I decided that I like the return postings, so please, keep it up, but preferably on the most current entries only.

And some of you may be reading about the mirror therapy. (Pat I just read your blog post, and I have been asking about this). My physical therapy folks have been reading about it too, but have not yet but it to work. And they don't know enough to do that. I need to do a little reading about this myself. In the meantime, I will keep telling the brain to stop sending the signals, but part of the process is simply rebuilding of the neurological pathways in the RL (residual limb) so that the new pathways take over.

No haiku at the moment, but I think the appropriate ending for this evening is "Go Penguins". (I just bought a new childrens book about penguins - And Tango Makes Three - two male penguins sharing a nest and raising an egg the zookeeper put in the nest after he watched them bringing in rocks to sit on. Probably different penguins than the "Go Penguins".

April 30, 4pm

I've worked hard today, but returned to my room to another beautiful gift, a pot of live, hot, hot pink calla lilly from my friends at MOR Associates. It was a good day already and this just made it better. The weather is beautiful in Pittsburgh right now. Sunshine, temperature in high 70's. After my morning workout I took myself outside with book and dropped Nevada Barr on ground as I fell asleep in chair in dappled shade and light breeze.

Was doing side leg lifts in PT this afternoon on raised mat and began to get some sense of where residual limb lives on my body. As I raised it and then brought it down, it touched left leg many times, but, of course, it only touched part of left leg. Interesting sensation. A really important learning is to develop a brain sense of where this limb ends. I keep talking to the phantom foot and telling it to go away. I don't want to be misled by it again, and I don't want to keep sending electrical signals to it. Here is the 7pm yesterday haiku to my brain about this:

There is nothing down there
You can stop sending signals
They go to nowhere

Cafeteria stops serving supper at 5:30. Way too early for my comfort. I have been the last one in practically all week. I think I make it hard for the staff. Will try to be a little earlier tonight, like 5:20pm.

And I am trying to get a group of folks together after dinner to play bananagrams. (A scrabble type of word game, but faster and easier - no score keeping). Not sure there is interest. Maybe I'll just pop myself at a table in the common area and start building words and see if anyone comes along.

Weekends are quiet here. I think I have managed to have enough to do. And now, back to Nevada Barr.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday, April 29, 3:30 pm

I started a blog before lunch and decided it was a series of complaints. So, instead of publishing that entry, I am going to put the complaints in an e-mail to the supervising nurse on this unit, copying the director of nursing and the hospital CEO. In my mind, the routine nursing care is, at the best, mediocre. I am passionate about PT and OT, Marc and Lana. The young resident, Justin as well as the doc assigned as my medicine man, Doc Landau are sweethearts. The doc in charge, Doc Kreshon, looks like a young plumber and that works fine for me. Nursing, ehhh. My son said there are two phrases to remember as I know things should be different. They are "standards of care"and "informed consent". Scare the heck out of hospital administrators with those phrases.

I remembered this afternoon, that in an earlier life I had been a hospital administrator. I was a deputy director of Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester NY from 1980 through 1985 or so. And I have other hospital admin experience. So, I'm not a novice here.

So, here'a a quote for the day. A nurse coming into my room and bringing me the nursing supervisor's e-mail address:

"The flowers in here are beautiful. And they smell so good. Why they are so pretty they could be artifical".

And here's a quote for yesterday. I was in the bathroom that I share with the room next door. As I am about to leave it there is a call from the room next door (Helen - remember her?):

"Yohoo. Yohoo." (Me - poking my wheelchair bound one leg self into her room) "Hi". Helen: "Honey, can you close my blinds for me, please?"

I have to laugh at this stuff. There are lots of wonderful one line vignettes.

And I seem to have another group of haiku. Can't decide which are worth putting forth and which should be tossed but you can get some idea of some of the goings on from these haiku musings.

10 pm Haiku

Phantom leg to floor
The body swiftly follows
Not good going down

Two steps take two feet
I don't have two feet right now
So head hits hard floor

3 am haiku

Gorgonzola cheese
On lightly toasted french bread
Would taste good right now

this mornings haiku

I stepped out last night
The leg wasn't where I thought
The floor was quite dense

I did try to get up from my wheelchair as if I had two legs. Fortunately, I did a spin and landed far from the residual limb (I need to name that limb). I screamed - just once but loud. Nurses came running. I crawled to side of bed. They lifted me onto it. Nothing hurt but my hard head, and that not enough to even have a goose egg.

A little more about how I spent time today. An hour in occupational therapy. Issues are doing this from chair and/or standing with one let.

Made cookies today
Got to do kitchen duty
I could teach this class

Back to my room this afternoon to cards and gifts (thank you Barbara and Ruth). I have my beautiful Wisconsin gift quilt on my bed here.

I just got a "pass" for Sunday. Don't have to go AWOL. Will do lunch and movies with Julie and kids.

And I have not taken a nap since I arrived on Sunday evening, but I think I will lie on my bed under the gift quilt and read a bit of this Nevada Barr book before dinner. I'm gonna try to stay out of trouble - try not to tell folks how they could do things "different or better".

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28, 2010 - Almost noon

Schedule for stay in rehab - My team figures I will leave here next Tuesday. I have an appointment with surgeon at 10 am so should be out of here by 9am. I did tell case manager if I ended with a room mate who made me less than comfortable, I would likely leave AMA. She understood that well.

So, in terms of company, yes, I would like it. Therapy schedule is three hours of work between 9 am and 3 pm. So far, I have always been done by 3pm. So, visits are best in late afternoon or early evening or around lunch time. Would love company, but do let me know if you are coming, so we don't fill the place with too many folks at once. Cell phone is 412-992-1313. Call anytime. I can answer in therapy too.

Morning haiku:

I'm not sure I knew
How really hurt the leg was
And now it's gone, gone

April 28, 8 am

Up, washed, dressed, ready for the day. Last night was a bit hard. First real pain in surgical area. It felt like pressure pain, and nurse came and unwrapped dressing. Bottom of leg is dressed first with gauze and then with ace bandages that are made tight enough to begin to "shape" the end of the limb for the prosthetic. Nurse simply unwrapped the ace bandages, removed the dressing, and left me with an uncovered leg. In a while the pain left and I went back to sleep. But before that, I found myself thinking in haiku - and a bit of other poetic media and I came up with a few observations. I put them on electronic stickies (it was easier to find computer than pen and paper) - so here are my ruminations from 2am.

Haikus of a Hard Night

Wednesday, August 28 at 2 am

Brain learn quickly please
Stop sending energy there
It goes to nothing

The pain burns real
Six on scale of one to ten
But the foot is gone

Remove the wrapping
Release the pressure somewhat
Let the body rest

Nurses are a gift
They are creative and kind
At least, the good ones

Ode To The Bedside Commode
I am so glad you are there
Otherwise I would have to shoe my foot
I would have to stabilize myself in the walker
I would have to go from bed to walker to chair to water closet
I would have to transfer one legged to toilet
Then I would have to do the whole thing in reverse
With you it is a one hop stop - so easy
And who will empty you in the morning?

The lights in Hamrarville just blinked
I wonder what that has done to patients using support systems
Everything has just started churning - did it take a minute?
Are we on back-up systems?
I hope all is well.

Back to haiku mode---

The mind and the brain
They do not work the same
But they share one space

Mind is working well
Brain is confused and off course
Brain suffers from loss

Will attempt to sleep
Turn off lights, shut off that mind
Will the brain follow?

And that't the end of the night time ruminations. Turns out mind and brain both finally went to sleep.

The phantom pain is interesting. It is the same burning sensation that I was feeling in the distressed foot. It's not always there, and I'm going to assume it will go away over time. The other interesting tidbit is that I am not sure where the residual limb ends. I don't have a sense of place around it yet. So the brain really does have new learning to do. I'm not trying to rush the learning. I am observing the whole process with interest and awe and a bit of amusement.

I found a capuccino machine in the cafeteria yesterday and I'm going to head off and get myself a cup right now - and some other breakfast stuff.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 27, 2010, 6:30 pm

I'm doing more haiku - about the day and about the future. Thought I would write them down before I lost them. Mark is my physical therapist who has to bear my irreverence and the grief I give him.

About Supper

Crab cakes for supper
Lots of scalloped potatoes
Better than last night

About Physical Therapy

PT for two hours
Young man with gift of patience
Glad you can laugh, Mark

About June

Frick Park with two dogs
Rags and Moose to doggy dam
Before summer ends

About September

Go for endurance
Ability to walk for miles
On prosthetic leg

I like the 17 syllable mode of communication. It sure prevents run at the mouth disease. And I love having them come back at me. Pam - keep them coming!!!

April 27, 5:30 pm

Need to take myself to supper and see if it provides fodder for another haiku. This is a quick response to folks who asked about visitors. I will probably know tomorrow when I am going home. It may be sooner than originally planned. So, I'll answer the visitor question tomorrow evening on the blog. Maybe what I need is visitors at supper time with different food. Also visitors who might be willing to play a game of bananagrams or who come with cards to play "oh hell" - or even bridge.
More on this tomorrow.

April 27, 2010, 6:30 am

What a difference a day makes. I am lying in bed looking out my window through the trees at the sunrise. So, now I know that my room is facing east. The room has a window view of the woods and I asked the aid last night to please not close the blinds. She thought that was a bit strange but said okay. Another aid came by later and tried to close the blinds. Again, I said "please don't". And now I can watch the glorious morning coming towards me.

I wanted to share yesterday mornings haiku with you first off. Whoops, I thought it was saved in a sticky note, but I can't find it. It went something like this:

Thirty minutes too long
To wait for help with bedpan
Wet bed imminent

That was yesterday. I thought I pushed nurses call button at 5:45. It was 6:25 before I saw anyone, and that was because they came for my room mate. Turns out I didn't have the call button on. Not sure how that could be, but the nurse showed me where the indicator was in the room, and mine wasn't on.

This problem has been solved multiple ways. I can now transfer from bed to wheelchair, and from wheelchair to the real toilet. I can also transfer from bed to bedside potty. And I can roll that wheelchair down the halls rather rapidly. Took myself to dinner in the dining room last evening.

Creamed chicken on toast
Am I really eating that
I wish I was not

Fortunately folks have arrived with some goodies. My son arrived with a can of almond roca. How does he remember stuff like that. That was my favorite candy of his childhood. Other friends have arrived with cookies. There is always fruit available in the cafeteria. And I'm sure for breakfast that cereal and yogurt will be there.

And here's another story;

No room mate, thank you
Just my own noises at night
I like it alone

First off, at 74, I am one of the youngest people here. And I probably have one of the most active minds of all the patients here. Helen, I imagine, is in her 80s. Her mind does not work well. She is here because she keeps falling and breaking bones. So, every time she tries to get out of bed there is a huge buzzer that goes off (sounds like a fire house buzzer) to let her and everyone else know that she is trying to get out of bed. And besides not taking responsibility for her behavior (I heard her talking to a nurse saying "don't blame me" - and I didn't hear anyone blaming her of anything), it seems to me she suffers from some kind of dementia. I thought that I would not want to be in the same room with Helen for ten days as I was trying to build strength and endurance and learn to move well without a leg. So, political correctness be darned, I asked why I was put in a room with Helen when it seemed to me there were lots of other spaces available. The secretary on the unit wanted to fuss with me and tell me I would have to pay for a private room, etc, etc. Along came a charge nurse and said "Of course you can move, Annie". So, I moved next door to a room where, at the moment, it is just me. No guarantee that I won't get another Helen type roommate, or something equally as challenging. This place is full of folks like Helen. But at least for now, I am by myself with the morning sunshine smiling at me. (Helen's claxon just went off. I can hear it from my room next door. She'll be rescued soon).

Yesteday was an extraordinarily busy day. I was visited by physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, administrators, medical doctors, and a plethora of nurses - a meds nurse (who visited several times during the day), a wound nurse, my nurse of the day, and others. I was left in bed most of the morning while we waited for "my" wheelchair to arrive. I needed a chair with a raised platform for the residual limb. In the meantime, "my" physical therapist worked with me in my bed. When wheel chair arrived I was promptly shown how to transfer to it, and I gained mobility. I was also expected to be at PT and OT on a schedule and from dinner on, to take my meals in the dining hall. Works for me!! My schedule today is, OT before breakfast to be sure I am able to dress myself. Then off to the dining hall. PT at 9 am, OT at 10 am, then a break then more PT at 1pm. Then I guess I am on my own for the day. I know the wound nurse will be by some time this morning (my cast fell off yesterday - so my limb is wrapped differently and now he can see the wound), and I imagine some of the docs or residents will pop in.

My occupational therapist, Lana, is a student (accompanied by the OT manager) who is in her last couple of weeks of her program at Chatham University (practically around the block from my house - well - 5 minutes by car). She is a beautiful woman from Russia. In Russia, she was a TV producer. She said that when she came to this country she didn't know how to find a mentor, someone to help her in the business, so she is changing her life. This is one smart babe. I like her a lot. Son, James, was here when I was doing OT, and he found that he and she are the same age - birthdays maybe ten days apart. They both look much younger than their 42 years.

Bautiful flowers arrived yesterday from Santa Fe Women. Sunflowers and lilies and iris and roses and some airy green and white blossoms. It's elegant and funky at the same time. I arrived back in my "new" room to find it on my extra bed side stand - right across from my bed so when I am not looking out the window, I can look at the flowers. Thank you much SFW friends.

It's time to start my day. People are popping in my room, one after the other. First a nurse to take my blood pressure. Now a nurse to do an EKG. Maybe more later today.

Monday, April 26, 2010

April 26, 5am

Can't sleep so thought I would blog. Would read my trash novel, but I have a room mate here at rehab and the light is too bright on my side of the room. Will have son bring small, hook-on- book, reading lite later today.
A few things about going for the procedure and having it done. On way to hospital with daughter and son (Julie and James) I said I would like to learn to write haiku. Didn't know how many syllables were in each line. Son had computer with him and looked it up. (Don't know what he has on his computer as we were not networked at the time). So in terms of syllables, haiku is 5, 7, 5. This was a wonderful way to keep my mind busy in the preop area, on the operating table before I was knocked out, and when I woke up. I know I wasn't writing good haiku, but what a wonderful mind exercise. Here's one:

Symmetry matters
I won't be that way later
It will be weird


Today the sun shines
It will shine tomorrow too
My leg will be gone

There were some more and my daughter may have written a couple of them down. I had a nurse in the recovery area trying to come up with them too as I started babbling in bad haiku.

We did the surgery with regional anesthesia instead of general. Regional with those twilight sleep drugs means you are lucid pretty much as you go into and come out of the OR and I like that. I do want to keep thinking. Although I'm not sure I would depend on that thinking immediately as I wake up. Maybe in an hour.

I already talked about how hard Saturday was. Not sure I said something important about seeing my residual limb without all the dressing on it. I thought I had better look when the dressing came off on Saturday, because it is my leg after all. I am glad that Calvin showed me his residual limb when this process began. I was not surprised or apalled. It is a nice neat looking upper leg, goes to a few inches below the knee and then it simply ends. My observation is that it was tidy. The part that was gone had not looked tidy for a long time. I'm not likely to see it again for ten days, as I think this current dressing stays on that long. It is sort of like a soft cast. I do want to continue to appreciate it. It's gonna let me walk in a pretty normal manner. Doc here (met him last night - have to remember the name of his specialty) said that I will be able to slip the prosthesis on and off the limb in seconds. Good news for someone who is not good at waiting.

That's my morning update. It's now 5:45. Stuff is beginning to bang around in the hallways here. (The night was quiet). Wonder if I can try to sleep for another hour.

Post Options

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday, May 25 9pm

I'm in bed in the rehab hospital. Pretty much done with pain pills except for a pre PTdose. Current challenge is to keep residual limb elevated to above the heart. It's easy to slip off the pillows. once I settle just a bit more, I will figure out how the bed will help me too.

Six weeks at the gym with Jamie really helped. I can use that bar they hang on orthopedic beds to move myself well as necessary. I understand that tomorrow they get me up and that I will be put through three hours of PT during the day. I imagine by end of day I will be able to move into a wheelchair and onto a bedside potty. (Mind you, this is my plan - I have not talked to anyone about it and it could not be the regiment of the day. I'll let you know).

Didn't like the ride from the hospital to the rehab center. But I didn't barf. And that was the good news. Hope I can find someone here who will play banagrams with me in a couple of days. Nurses aid said she was gonna put my hair in a french braid. That will be fun.

And that's the evening report. Will write more when I figure out more about what this place is about and what my life will be like here for the next ten days. Now I'm gonna get someone organized so I can brush my teeth, use the bedpan one last time, and sleep.

April 25, 2010 9:15

This is about 40 hours post op. I'm looking out the window on greater Pittsburgh. There is a pretty view from Allegheny General. I feel alive again today, yesterday was horrible.

I'm dictating to my son I tried his new Acer computer sitting in bed, but I don't like the way it works. Later today I'll be back on my Mac Air. I leave for the rehab hospital at 2 p.m.

I saw the modified leg yesterday when the Doc changed the dressing. It was clean and neat and tidy; but a part of it was not there. I probably need to look at it a lot more so I understand that this is what I look like. However in terms of what I look like, I put on eyebrows, I put on lipstick and I combed back my hair this morning. I also put on underpants. So I'm ready for Freddie or whoever the physical therapist is.

More later from Harmarville, using my own Mac and my own fingers.

addendum by James: George and Dan are the PT guys.

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23 2010 #2

The leg is gone. I'm out of the recovery room. I lay here trying to get enough drugs so that I don't attempt to scratch the missing big toe. James and Julie are here, Happy Birthday Julie. James is taking dictation. I decided to try and learn Haiku on the way to the hospital here are a couple.
This was written in the OR:

Men in vivid blue.
Tile walls of yellow color.
Where are the women?

This was post-op:

Symmetry matters.
The right leg has gone away.
This will look wierd.

Then there is the one about a tree that I wrote on the way to the hospital:

The leg goes today.
We will plant a tree for it.
The tree will flower.

Pain and pain meds setting in. Enough for now.

April 23, 2010

Today is the day. We leave for hospital in about an hour. Check in time is 10:30. I said good by to the leg this morning. My whole body feels a bit anxious. One of my favorite expressions "just put one foot in front of the other" isn't working this morning.

Today is my daughter, Julie's, birthday. Last evening she said she will always remember her birthday as the day they cut off mom's leg. I hope that isn't true. I am planning on this leg thing being a huge success, and hopefully, it will be an event to celebrate.

Right now, I'm gonna strip my bed and pack my bag. The big question is, "how many books do I take?". I downloaded "The Help" to the kindle, but I'm not sure I will be comfortable reading that. And finding books is not quite like a bookstore where you can scan the shelves. I can work on that in rehab.

Gotta pack, gotta go. More next week.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22, 2010

Check in at hospital is at 10:30 tomorrow morning. Surgery is scheduled for 12:30. So, it could be any time from then until who knows when tomorrow. But tomorrow is good-by to the leg/ankle/foot for sure. And while it is painful to think about losing it, it really can't be too soon. It's hurtin' bad and walkin' is really yukky. It's gotta go!

Need to pack a bag today for ten days in rehab. Expect to be home around about May 3 or 4. One last load of wash has to happen to get ready.

And one last posting before surgery in the morning.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21, 2010

A quick update. Today is the day the surgery was to happen and didn't. Doc is on his way home. He's on a plane from Paris as we speak. He chunneled there from London. He gets to PGH sometime around midnite. I hope he sleeps well tomorrow because we cut off my leg on Friday.

I just visited the rehab hospital. Figured I had a found day and that was a good thing to do. They will certainly keep me busy while I'm there. I can use my cell phone. The place has wireless and I will bring my MacAir. So, I can keep this blog going while in rehab.

I imagine I will be discharged to Health South on either Sunday or Monday. That means tomorrow I need to pack a bag for being gone a week to ten days. Trying to think of this as a week or more at a health spa. The place is in a lovely wooded setting; all rooms have views of the woods; there is easy access to the outside.

Now I return to my hurry up and get everything done mode. First thing is to clean all the papers off the dining room table and deal with any that still require action in the next few days. Not too many like that as I have been working my way through the pile. Then I need to plant the dianthus and the strawberry plants. Then I need to .........., never mind, the list goes on. What's done will be done. What isn't will either fade away or wait.

April 21, 2010

The Heinlein book is "Stranger in a Strange Land'. Remembered name in shower just a minute ago. CNN says flights are leaving from Europe and the UK today. Will doc's flight fly? Will leg be cut off on Friday. I imagine I will know in a couple of hours. In the meantime, I'll just get on with my day. More later.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20, 2010 #2

Just made plans to visit the rehab hospital tomorrow. Thought I would check it out and find out what to bring besides my toothbrush. Realized I had posted wrong address, etc. So here it is corrected:
Health South Rehabilitation Hospital
320 Guys Run Road
Harmarville, PA 15238
Looking at the volcanic cloud, I don't expect there will be a lot of flights out of Heathrow tomorrow. And that means surgery won't be this Friday. Up side is I will get to go to church on Sunday when Maeve's class is doing "coming of age - what I believe" talks during sermon time. I did want to be part of that. Tough part though is that at the other end, I am likely to miss AliBeth starring in her school play, Fiddler on the Roof, on May 5 or 6. And that's back to one of my favorite mottos: Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains. (Nuke LaLuche in the movie Bull Durham).

I'm betting on a surgery rescheduled to next Wednesday, May 28. What do you think?

April 20, 2010

It is a beautiful day here in Pittsburgh. I took my son to Pamela's Restaurant for breakfast. Pamela's is the Pittsburgh place where Obama ate pancakes. Then he brought Pamela to Washington to cook pancakes for the inauguration. Son said the pancakes were really crepes and that they were just like mine. So much for the treat of the day. Then we did a quick run to Home Depot where I hit the nursery again. Bought dianthus (pinks) as well as strawberry plants and a pot of parsley. This evening or tomorrow morning I will dig a few small holes in garden and plant these things. Wouldn't have time to do that is surgery was tomorrow. Good to do things right now that add beauty to my life.

And with these couple of found days, I think tomorrow I will make another trip to the gym and then head out to Health South and check out the rehab facility. If I do that, I'll know what to bring with me; I'll have some sense of the lay of the land; I'll know what's coming next.

I am taking my daughter to dinner tomorrow evening as she is celebrating another birthday on Friday. I have filled dinner time each evening assuming that surgery is Friday. I find myself checking the state of the volcanic ash and flights out of Heathrow every few hours. News seems to be about the same. Will the docs flight fly tomorrow? The answer is a resounding, "maybe".

I am under the impression that the connection of my foot to my leg becomes more tenuous every day. I "know" that it is much less connected than it was in the x-ray a month ago. Went to bed the night before last thinking that the foot was simnply disconnecting itself from the leg - and that the only thing holding it in place is the outer covering, my skin. I don't know how much reality there is in that thinking. I do know that I am not going to go to the Fiber Arts International show until I have my new leg. I missed the Three Rivers Quilt Show last weekend because I did not want to try to walk around the auditorium. And I won't see the spring flower show at Phipps Conservatory either. This sounds like whining. I don't mean it to be - but rather to be an observation about my life right now. And my life is good. I have flowers for the garden, I have a family watching over me, I have friends to have dinner with, I have a new 42 inch TV to watch NCIS on tonight and I have lots of books to read.

I imagine if doc doesn't get back tomorrow, we will schedule this surgery for next Wednesday, his regular surgery day. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19, 2010

Last night on facebook I posted that it was about 60 hours until the leg went away. And I was going to talk about a glorious day at church yesterday - installation of our new minister with grand music and dynamic sermons and a great party. What a difference a day makes. This morning I went to the gym, treated myself to salmon crepes for breakfast and came home to work on the list of things to finish before Wednesday. Listened to phone messages. There was a message from doctor's office. My surgeon was visiting his son in London. And there is that volcanic ash. So much for my surgery on Wednesday. I feel like the horse on the racecourse, ready, set, - and the gate doesn't open. No go!! Yikes!! I have been really busy getting ready for this surgery, in my body and my head and my heart. To think I am being foiled by the erupting volcano in Iceland. And I wasn't even in Paris.

Doc is scheduled to fly out of London on Wednesday if all goes well. And in that event, surgery will happen on Friday. If not, maybe next week. This is where it is important to breathe and relive that AA learning over and over and over again - "A day at a time". I had been planning ahead, and have a schedule of dates on my calendar that are contingent on my being done with rehab during the first week of June. I think they hold if the surgery is Friday. If it's not until next week, I am going to have to readjust.

For those of you who have been asking, I am planning to spend a week to ten days in a rehab hospital after my two to three days in acute care. The rehab hospital is Health South - 320 Grup Road, Hammerville, PA 15238, 877-937-7342. Given the surgery postponement, I figure the earliest I am likely to be there would be next Monday, April 26.

A quilt just arrived in the morning mail from my Wisconsin friends. It is such a happy quilt - full of wonderful bright, bold flowering fabics. I am going to take it to rehab with me, but before that, I am going to put it on top of my bed (like right now). Thank you Wisconsin quilting friends. I do love and miss you.

The beautiful cut orchids my friend (and ex-husband) sent me are still in full flower, and they will easily still be beautiful on Friday. My front garden is blooming nicely. I have some summer bulbs from last year unplanted, and I think I will go out and put them in the ground. First though, I am going to finish the pile of paperwork that has been nagging me and is on my list to do today. If that is done, I will treat myself to the movies one evening this week, and spend a bit more time planning my post-recovery trips.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17, 2010

I think I write best in the early morning, and this morning I couldn't find my glasses (knocked them off the night stand during the night), was preoccupied with the search, and didn't do my morning blog post. So, I'll try now.

We had a going away party for the foot/leg/ankle yesterday evening. Local friends from different parts of my life came to say good by to the foot and cheer me on. Lots of food, lots of good conversation, a demonstration and a bit of playing of a real hurdy-gurdy by friend Andrew (who also did a bit of throat singing). And daughter, Julie did a picture of me and associated pictures of new leg options. You could pin on the leg of your choice. It was a hoot. Julie promises to make it available for posting on facebook and perhaps on this blog. She said she would work on it tomorrow.

I did a quick run today for new underpants and a new pair of pajamas. Not sure what to pack for a week to ten days in rehab post op, but I figure underpants and pajamas are a good idea. Will call the rehab folks on Monday and get more clear about that. Also bought a pair of sneakers that fit the foot I am keeping. I am wearing men's sneakers about two sizes larger than my real size right now, as that is what the brace fits in. But, after today, there are only three days left with the brace. Then I put the "kept" foot in a shoe that fits it and have one shoe ready for the new foot too.

Walking has gotten progressively more and more difficult with the distressed foot/ankle. At this point in the progression, I am reluctant to step down on the foot without the brace on unless I am using two crutches. It simply feels as if it will not hold me. With the brace, I can walk a bit without aid - from the car to the house, around the house. But any further than that, I use one crutch all of the time and two crutches if I am going further than half a block.

I started a new list this morning of all the "to-do's" mostly for Monday and Tuesday. I always have a list if I am leaving for a week or more, so that's not new. What is new is that there is stuff on the list I will be unable to do for at least six weeks. Do for myself that is. I have to remember that doesn't mean that it won't get done. I can and will ask for the help I need.

I'm gonna go fix myself a steak and a sweet potato and a salad - in my kitchen - a kitchen I am not sharing with anyone else right now. I like that. Then I will have some of the great burnt almond torte that friend, Carrie brought to the party last night. I am so glad there is some left.

Surgery is Wednesday.

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 16, 2010

Son is on his way over for a bit of furniture moving and a trip to Costco with me. Gonna buy a big TV (37 inches? 40 inches?) so I can see the screen when I am lying in the hospital bed in the family room. (Studio until yesterday, but that is part of the moving furniture adventure - studio goes back to an upstairs bedroom). And maybe this is just an excuse for a big screen TV. After all, I am a huge TV watcher - maybe six hours a week. But, I have an AmEx check that is only good at Costco, so I'm gonna do it.

Flowers came from good friend and ex-husband yesterday. He sent a huge bouquet of cut orchids - purple - just beautiful. They truly are a celebration for taking back the house. They sit in the middle of a clean dining room table. WOW!! (And thank you Al).

Yesterday I was meandering on about tiny changes in how I do my life. I managed to get up, get in shower, get dressed, without making my bed and without worrying about it. Progress, not perfection is a good motto. I am making progress. And the rest of the stuff, I will figure out in a few weeks.

Now to clean the garage refrigerator so it will hold beer and soda for the going away party for the leg this evening. Weather is still good. Today's gonna be a good day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15, 2010

Need to put a check in the mail to the government today. And the the big tax stuff is done for another year. Whoopee, I think!!

The surgery is six days away. Was brushing my teeth last night and thinking about how this is going to change my daily routine. Reading about prosthesis, I find that it is recommended that, when you take the new titanium leg off at night, you should clean up the cup part of it and you should wash your residual limb. Seems to me that says to "take your shower at night". And that would be after you stand at the sink and brush your teeth, or maybe you brush your teeth sitting in the shower on the shower chair? And then, if I shower at night, do I shower again in the morning? I am a morning shower person because the warm water in the morning gets these old joints warmed up and moving. Fingers are stiff, neck doesn't turn as well, back doesn't bend as well until I've been in the shower. Does this all mean I bathe twice a day, morning and night? Do I have the time for that? Interesting, the little things one can stuck on.

Here's another one - one where a change is already being forced. I am a "get up and make my bed" person. My unmade bed offends me - and besides I like to see the quilt that is on the bed at any given time spread out and being its beautiful self. So, I get out of bed, make the bed, and then head to the shower. This is harder to do right now, because the foot is really barely connected to the leg; standing on it before I put the brace on is not easy. So, I head to the shower on two crutches, shower, return to my room and dress, including putting the brace on my leg, then I make the bed. It bothers me to do it this way. It feels backwards. And I'm sitting on an unmade bed as I dress. Is this the way of the future? I know I need to get the prosthesis on before I can move around and make the bed, so I guess is it.

And isn't it interesting how stuck we can be in "the way it is". Here I am, someone who talks all the time about managing change, and I'm balking at these small changes to my daily routine. One of my favorite expressions for folks that I am working with or my family is "get over it, honey". I'm telling that to myself, but I don't like it anyway.

On another note - I slept alone in my house last night. First time in more than 14 months. Son and family slept in their new (old) house last night. I hope it went well for them. They moved their beds and their clothes yesterday afternoon. They moved themselves and the two dogs and the cat (and the cat and dog food too). There is still all sorts of stuff in my house that they need to take, but they are on their way. I am so glad for all of us. I had someone painting one of the bedrooms last night, and will get the guest beds in today and the big long arm quilting machine out of family room and upstairs in the other room before the end of today. Taking this house back is another recovery process!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 14, 2010

It's countdown time. One week from today my leg is cut off about halfway between the knee and the ankle. Yuk!!! And yup, I have done everything I know to do about getting ready for this, but it is still scary. At some very gut level (and that is where I feel it), I don't like this at all. I know all about life being easier when I have the new leg and I truly am looking forward to that, but an elective procedure to have my leg cut off - eeeyyyyy.

And that's enough of my personal angst in this blog. Today will be a good day. The house being prepared for my son and his family received a certificate of occupancy yesterday. The family expects to sleep in it tonight. That means I get to reclaim my own home. It needs a lot of work to be "really mine" again, but I will start on that today. As the family empties out a room, I am hoping to walk behind them with a scrubbing brush and a paint brush. And if not me, then someone who is helping me.

And I am going to check out the old Kindle that I managed to acquire, figure out how to download some books that are on my reading list, and be ready to take that to early rehab with me. Don't want to have to figure it out when I am not thinking too well. Not sure I will find the Kindle at all as pleasurable as holding a book in my hand, but it could be a very compact library. I am known to travel around the country (and parts of the world) with half of my suitcase taken up with trash novels. Kindle could make leaving home much easier.

Met with Wendy, a care manager, yesterday. Wendy will work with me about getting a hospital bed downstairs, being sure my preferred discharge orders from acute care are in place, and getting folks in to provide me personal care for time when I am home without a leg. One hunk of stuff moved to someone else' competent hands.

It's early Wednesday morning. Youngest grandson has not yet left for school. I have a good thirty minutes to read in bed before I have to be urgent about starting the day.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday, April 12

I'm home this week with a list of things to get done before I can't do much of anything for about six weeks. I started the day working on the list - which included submitting an activity report for the IT leaders work I am doing. That's done. List includes items such as:

Plumbing - That's about getting a supplement to the shower head in the bathroom that let's you move the head up and down and also has the extension that lets you take it off the move up and down pole and use it where you want it. I figure that a shower chair (which I have) and that kind of shower head capability would be a good thing to come home to and to have for the rest of my life. At the same time, I would like to talk to the plumber about doing something so the gas meter can be read outside of the house.

Find living will and power of attorney - Those documents are around here someplace, but this orthopedist and this hospital don't have them. I'll do a search for them later today or tomorrow morning.

Paint - I want the three upstairs bedrooms painted before I come home from hospital. Actually, I want them painted before I go, but not sure I can manage that. Bought the paint for the "guest room" - mostly grandkids room - yesterday - a very pale yellow gold. Need the room empty - maybe by the end of the week? That's the long story about my son and family living with me this past 14 months. I think I have selected the color for the other room, the room that will again be my sewing room. I'm doing it a gray. Do you have any idea how many shades of gray there are? So, I can get that paint in the next day or two. James and family have paint that will work in my room. Seems they bought a five gallon can of something. Lovely warm salmon color. Not too different than what I have. It will work fine. Issue is whether we can get this all done in the next six days.

Lite fixture - Another story, but let it be said that the list goes on, and I am working through it - as well as adding to it.

I did plant some perennials in the garden this morning. Any trip to a place where there are plants is a place I can't leave without some. Put in some creeping phlox where I would put my lobelia. Creeping phlox is a perennial, and over the next couple of years, I think i will get it all along my stone fence, and then won't have to do two flats of lobelia each spring. Can do the lobelia selectively.

I am so aware of how much shorter my right leg is than my left - at least it feels that way. Really the leg is the same length it has always been. It is just that it is much closer to the earth because it is sitting off to the side of the foot and the ankle. Pretty weird, huh?

My daughter thinks we should have a good-by party for the the foot/ankle/leg, so we are doing it this Friday evening. And when I get the new leg, we will throw another party, bury the brace, plant a tree, and dance.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 10, 2010

Today is Saturday. I think it is April 10. I dated yesterday's blog March 9. That was simply wrong. Wonder if I can edit the Title. Guess I'll check it out. Strange day today. Not getting much done. My focus on foot stuff took up a couple of hours - go to therapy - go to gym. And grandchildren took up a couple of hours. Where did the day go?

Found another pair of crutches in the garage. It's an old wooden pair. There is a piece missing a critical screw, but I think a trip to Home Depot will take care of that. Then I'll have a downstairs pair, an upstairs pair and an automobile pair. All without any trips to Hospital Supply store.

Daughter thinks we should have a party next weekend to note the occasion of the end of the foot/ankle/leg. Those of you in the Pittsburgh area who read this are likely to hear from her. If you don't, and you want to be there, drop her a note,

Right foot/ankle/let took last airplane ride last night. It is glad and sad. I am glad and sad.

Friday, April 9, 2010

April 9, 2010

I did make it to Urbana-Champaign on Wednesday nite, Thursday morning really. Left Chicago sometime after 10pm. Flight to Champaign was delayed for many hours. Got into Champaign around 12:30 am, and to the hotel sometime after 1am (2am in Pgh), and got to sleep who knows when. Then I overslept in the morning and missed my first appointment. Rescheduled, and I am all done now.

Forgot how hard it was to travel on crutches with all belongings in one backpack and one pocketbook. If I was going to be doing this for a while, I imagine I would get better at it. Mixing clothes and computer and papers in the backpack makes for a bit of a load. I had wheelchair service at Pittsburgh and Chicago airports, but I think the handlers expect that your bags will be checked or that someone will be with you to manage them. So, there I am in a wheelchair juggling crutches, backpack and pocketbook. Not too elegant. But elegance never was my strong suite.

Leaving for airport from UIUC in 20 minutes or so. Need to do juggling act again - or - will MacAir fit in my pocketbook and then I check the backpack. I think I will check this out. And this is a brand new backpack that I purchased to hold all necessary stuff.

I have a lengthy to-do list for the coming week. And it is a week of great quilting stuff in Pittsburgh. There is a big quilt show from Thursday to Sunday, there is a lecture Wednesday night by two world class fabric designers and quilters, and the Fiber Arts Guild opening of the bi-annual International Show is Friday night and Saturday. I certainly will attend the lecture. May try to get to the quilt show on Thursday. Probably won't make the Guild's grand opening, but that show runs through August.

This is my last plane ride before I get the new foot - the last time I go through the detectors in this body configuration- the last time the brace is tested for chemical explosives. Don't know if it is the last time I tell the TSA folks that I can't walk through the screening device without my shoes on. (And that's simply because I ain't walking without this brace and it likes it best with shoes on). Have to see what the new body configuration has to say about shoes.

Now I'll pack my stuff and get ready to check out of UIUC.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April 7, 2010 #2

This is the first time I have done two posts in a day. I am sitting in the airport in Pittsburgh where my plane to Chicago is delayed for two hours. The plane from Chicago to Champaign-Urbana is delayed too, but we don't know if it is delayed enough. If I spend the night in Chicago, it will mess up my schedule fiercely. And I'm not gonna have another chance to be at UIUC before the leg goes away. It's weather in Chicago that is doing this.

So, if you read my morning entry, you know my current concern is about the time after my leg is cut off and I am home from the hospital until I go back to rehab and get my new leg. I have all sorts of stuff running for me about that time. So, I talked to therapist, Kathleen, about this today and this wonderful woman, first off referred me to someone she knows who is a medical care coordinator. I called Wendy the MC? and she and I will meet on Tuesday. Thank you Kathleen!!

And its not that I won't appreciate visit and help from friends, but this will let me enjoy and appreciate that help more. Kathleen does things like arrange for hospital beds downstairs as well as arranging for the help that I might need.

So, while I am still concerned about the legless time, one part of the concern is gone.

They just called for boarding. So, I'm gonna end this abruptly. And not preview it - hope it isn't full of typos

April 7, 2010

Two weeks from today is the day that the old leg goes away. I continue to be concerned about the time between the old leg and the new leg. I am so glad the rehab hospital will take care of me for the first seven to ten days. Folks have offered to come and be with me for the rest of the legless time, but I don't know how I feel about that. I am sure I will need the help, and I have almost zero tolerance for the sense of being without a leg and helpless. I guess I need to work that for a bit. I imagine someone smart would tell me that is what I have a therapist for.

Did a trek to Penn State this week. Drove up on Easter and came back yesterday. That's the last drive of any substance with this old leg and that's a good thing. I have less fine control with this leg than is really comfortable. Sometimes I find myself banging the brake ungracefully.

The time at PSU was good though. Folks there have the opportunity to sign up for leadership coaching time and/or to attend a peer coaching workshop. I've connected with some new folks as a result of this work and I have the chance to work with some of the folks I have worked with in the past. I really enjoy seeing folks having an "ah-ha" moment and then taking that to the next place. I'm off to University of Illinois (UIUC) later today to do the same kind of work.

And this will be the last plane ride before the bionic leg comes. I am use to the extra screening at the airport because of bionic body parts, but the new leg is really gonna be more bionic than I have been before. I imagine it's not a challenge for the TSA folks.

And today will be a rather mad day. I am going to start with a trip to the gym, even though my trainer, Jamie, won't be there today. It's been almost a week since I've been there and I imagine I can lose these new triceps rather quickly. Not a good thing right now. So, I had best get started.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April 4, 2010

Easter bunny has come and gone. Brunch is over. Daughter cooked pancakes and bacon. I did fruit salad and organization. Son planted my new rhododendrums. Need to do one more page of tax stuff, get it ready to mail, print schedule for tomorrow, pack a bag and head to State College. Drive takes me about three hours even though it is only 140 miles. PA has been constructing on the highway from here to there forever, and if I drive more than an hour without a stop I start to doze, so it is coffee time - usually a capuccino from a Sheetz gas station.

I hadn't paid any attention to the fact that folks were posting responses to my blog, and I figured that out last night and went through the responses. Pam, the stuff on the friends with the bionic foot was really good for me to read. I still am not done with this thinking. A foot with painted toe nails sounds pretty glamorous, and there is nothing wrong with glamor. I figure I have a couple of months post-prosthetic to figure out what I want my new leg to look like. My understanding is that you get a temporary prosthetic for a couple of months. So, once I put on the new leg, I can experience what it looks and feels like and work from there. Not a today decision - but a today ponder.

More thinking and comments on driving with left foot in another blog.

Lisa - I'll call you this week. Maybe driving home from State College late Tuesday afternoon. Blue tooth in car is a great invention.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

April 3, 2010

Just a few random thoughts for the morning.

The first one is about lobelia - beautiful little vivid blue/purple annual. I plant them along my stone wall in front of the house each year. I need to do that before I go into hospital, otherwise, when I a ready for planting it will be a little late. So, the week of April 12, I will make a run to my favorite nursery, buy two flats of lobelia and plant. That means, when I come home from the first stint in rehab, they can glow for me and I can smile for them.

The next one is about how quickly time moves forward. The surgery is about 18 days from now. And I am heading out Sunday for Penn State where I will be working for two days - home late afternoon Tuesday and off to quilting class - appointments in town on Wednesday and off Wednesday evening for UIUC where I will work for two more days. Home late on Friday night. It will be a really busy week and will leave me with about ten more "getting-ready" days - days for planting lobelia, for being sure all bills are paid and for having house in order.

And the last one for this morning is about "having house in order". Son's house is just about ready to go. He and his family should be all moved in by the end of next weekend. And I have negotiated the week after "move-in" as a week where he will help me in this house. Want to move my long-arm-machine back upstairs into a bedroom that was long ago prepped for it. Then, for the "recovery-at-home" period want my bed and a few essentials moved downstairs into the family room. And want these upstairs rooms painted and restored to their pristine (hah) condition so that they please me and so that I am not embarrassed when house guests (friends coming from around the country to help and support me) arrive.

Lots to do in the next 18 days. And this morning, its off to the gym, home to dye easter eggs with grandkids and then those taxes - and I have ben procrastinating in getting them together.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April 1, 2010

If my dad was alive, he would be celebrating his 102nd birthday today. Wonder what he would think about all of this foot and ankle and leg stuff.

I've been too busy the last few days. Managed to overbook my days and evenings and that means the pain level is up at the end of the day and the desire to do any walking at all is way down. So, today, with an afternoon free, I have simply popped myself on the bed and vacillated between reading a novel, looking at a beautiful new quilt book, and napping.

I had my pre-op physical yesterday and all systems are go. It is now less than three weeks before the distressed foot and ankle and lower leg are no longer a part of me. I have invited a few special folks to spend time with me between the removal of the leg and the acquisition of my new leg. (Note - the removal of "the leg" and the acquisition of "my new leg". This is about letting go of the old and making the new a part of me. Sometimes I'm deliberate about this and other times it is just happening). Once I have the prosthetic, I think that seeing folks will be easy. I am still uncomfortable about the time I will be spending without a leg.

I talked to my doctor who did the implant in December 2008 today. He reinforced the need to amputate telling me that with fusions (which would be the other maybe option), 5% result in amputations without the distress that my leg is experiencing. He also said that it could be up to an eight month recovery process versus the six weeks recovery I am looking at. And at 74, I am not willing to spend another eight months recovering from a high risk procedure. So, that's two docs really supporting the decision to amputate.

My neighbors magnolia - the one I can see from my kitchen window is about to bloom. A friends whom I visited today, has a star magnolia in her front yard that is covered with those wonderful starry flowers. My weeping plums are maybe 10 days away from full bloom, and I am having truckloads of mulch spread in my garden next week. On a trip to Home Depot with son, James, I bought three rhododendrum (spelling?) and a pot of ranunculas. Don't know where I am going to put the rhododendrum but they are so close to blooming, that I couldn't resist them. Front garden should be pretty grand this year. Back garden has to wait until big dog moves out with son and family. That seems to be about a week away. Perhaps when I am home with new leg I can begin to renovate the back.

And yet this week, taxes need to be finished and easter eggs need to be colored. Will hide them for Pittsburgh grandchildren to search for on Sunday morning (actually will put son at that task). Even fourteen year olds like searching for easter eggs.