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.