Saturday, August 28, 2010

August 29, 2010

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

Daughter's van is easier to drive than Prius. It has more room in front to hold the right leg in its prosthesis, the seat goes back further for getting in and out, and the steering wheel lifts up higher supporting easier in and out as well as simply less crowding. The ideal vehicle would be a car with no console between the two front seats - a flat floor - like the old bench seats. As it is though, I have these two Toyotas for the year, and we will stay together for at least that time - those vehicles and me.

Next challenge will be flying, and that is scheduled for two weeks from today .

And having survived this drive, and deburred my dogs (big one absolutely covered with little burrs), I think it's time for bed.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Autust 21, 2010

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

Monday, August 16, 2010

August 16, 2010

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

But back to the day. So, I was pulling out of my parallel parking space. All of a sudden, I realized there was another van right beside me and our front sides were gonna touch if I didn't stop right away. And instead of hitting the brake with my foot, I hit the left foot accelerator. I quickly caught myself so this was only a minor fender bender, but it is another thing on the long list of items to be taken care of. And this was in my daughter's van that I just had equipped for left foot driving. My observation about this is that my brain and body are not yet adjusted to the left foot driving. I had to react really quickly and the signal I sent to my left leg/foot was wrong. It was a "brake on the left" signal, even though I am driving with my left leg/foot. I clearly need more re-wiring.

Otherwise life is uneventful. I am getting more and more use to this prosthetic leg and foot. The morning process which use to take almost an hour is down to about twenty minutes. I've gotten more organized about it and it has gotten easier. I have been worrying about how I was going to pee at night when I was traveling. A nurse friend (we were playing cards on Saturday evening) suggested I get a pile of disposable bed pans, put one on a chair (with a plastic bag under it just in case), put the chair by the bed - and magic - I have built my bedside commode. I am going to try this out as soon as I get my hands on some bed pans. If this works, the last travel hurdle that I can think about right now is taken care of.

This whole new lower leg and foot thing has been an interesting adventure. It's posed challenges about how to live my life as normally as possible, without putting a burden on family and friends, being able to live as I had imagined I would live in retirement. Not sure I want to stay in this beautiful two story cottage. I'm thinking about that, but the desire to not have stairs is probably as much about getting older as it is about the leg. Know that I don't want to go white water rafting again. I probably could, but I simply don't want to put my body through that kind of an exercise. And that doesn't mean I won't do a quite paddle in a canoe or kayak.

And I want to think about how I can make a difference to the community in which I live. The last couple of years have been preoccupied with surgeries, learning to walk, having a big setback, learning to walk again. While I know that I can get much better on this leg, it is time for me to do something else. I am hoping I can do that (whatever that is) through my church community and some friends and I are exploring what might be possible. (If you don't know, the church is First Unitarian of Pittsburgh).

And now, I have to get my passport renewal application in the mail and work on building my calendar for next year - so that I can respond to some friends who are planning good stuff.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Agust 13, 2010

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

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 10,, 2010

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

I just made part of a blackberry pie. It occurred to me, that making a pie is a lot like making a quilt, but faster. It has a top, a bottom and a middle. All the parts need to be handled separately and then they need to come together. The other thing I realized is how much I move around while working in the kitchen. Just making the pie dough involves twisting and turning and bending (get things out; where is the salt; am I going to use the blender or the mixer; are all the parts in the same place; I know I have a better measuring cup than that). And the stuff I am working on in Physical Therapy supports those funny kitchen moves. I'm working on balancing (hard on the prosthetic foot), walking backward, walking a braid, rocking side to side and back and forth. All moves I made while mixing up the crust and the filling. And I'm sure I will end up with similar moves when I assemble these pieces. Now I can stop wondering why I am doing these silly exercises.

Recently read a short (true) story where a female athlete (runner) with a prosthetic leg says it takes about a year to really use it well. I keep holding on to that when I get frustrated that I can't do things faster. I have no inclination to run a mile, but I would like to be able to walk more than the 17 minutes I did in PT this morning. So, I have to keep working at this. Maybe when I get to Cape Town in December I'll be up to 40 minutes. I have to see if that's a reasonable goal - and if so - make it happen.

I'm going to start puttering around the country next month - and will have a busy fall. Some of it is work and some is play. Couple of important things to do soon so I am ready for this puttering. First one is to be sure I have the dog care managed well. Other thing is to get my passport updated. It expires in early December. Going to use the Allentown trip to see how well I fare in a hotel - how I get to the bathroom at night especially. Have a couple of thoughts of things to try. Actually, gonna practice the one foot hop.

I will try to update this blog once a week - keep you all posted on my progress. And now, I am going to finish a quilt block, and by then it might be time to assemble the pie. (Crust had to go in refrigerator for a while before rolling out).