Wednesday, September 30, 2015

TURNING THE CORNER

Yesterday I felt my own self return.  It honestly felt like a miracle.  FINALLY!


Pain is manageable (almost non existent) and my personality is making a comeback.  For the first time in almost two weeks, I put on makeup AND had a social evening including dinner with two gal pals.  Staying in the Guest Suite for a week or so longer will help me build a great foundation.  I can get up every hour and walk about the apartment.  Do my exercises whenever and wherever I want.  Hopefully I'll be back to regular old Gramma when I return to the condo.

Physical Therapist says I have a really great range of motion already and when the staples come out on Friday, things will move along even quicker.  Pretty sure I'll switch over to the cane for 90% of things.  Only use the walker for longer journeys.

I want to give special thank you for EVERY one who has encouraged me during this journey.  My sister, my sister in law and several cousins.  Good friends and fellow bloggers ... everyone who has been through this and shared their own trek.  Every word you gave me was an inspiration.

ONWARD!

Monday, September 28, 2015

31 YEARS AGO TODAY

On this day, thirty-one years ago, I married Mr. Ralph in Newport, Oregon at sunset.  My sister and his son were witnesses.  We wore jeans.  And could only afford to stay one night.  He was 18 years older than me and I could envision everyone's eyes rolling while thinking "this will never last."  Neither set of parents met the new inlaw until after the marriage.

Maybe it shouldn't have.  But it did.  Each of us had been married before.  His children were in high school and college.  None for me and by marrying someone older whose family was raised, I would miss out on having children.

Lo and behold, we did have our little miracle baby girl.  Somehow, things worked out for the better, with many bumps along the way.  Mr. Ralph was an only child and his Dad died the year before we married.  Hazel lived in Vincennes, Indiana as a happily independent woman and we got along beyond expectation.  She flew out for a visit at least once a year, and we went her direction about the same.  I hope I grow up to be like her!  Strong, smart and always learning.

My parents were smitten with Mr. Ralph.  He was charming even to them ... sending them flowers on MY birthday.  His financial support helped them enjoy their remaining years and he encouraged Kate and I to spend time with them in Columbus, Ohio in the summer each year.

When I wrote the headline it struck me that thirty one years is a LONG time!  Yet it did not seem like it.  It was a great, fun, challenging journey of compromise ... and he filled it with romance.

I sure do miss this guy.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

PROGRESS, SLOW BUT SURE

OK.  I think I have this pain management thing under control.

I don't have to be a brave, stoic widow lady, I can be dependent on some chemical help for a month or two.  Yesterday, I took oxy and tylenol every four hours.  By evening, the medicine had caught up to the pain so it was easier to get in my exercise.  Last night, I even stretched it to five hours once.


(Geez ... the title to this says Level I ... ugh!  
I wonder how high the levels go?)

And I slept so great!  Part of that could be the chilly evenings.  When the alarm said 7:30am I took a potty break and the pain relief and thought I would just snuggle down for another hour.  THREE HOURS later I had to make myself get up!  The thermostat said 52 degrees.  Indoors!  I broke down and turned on the heat, made some hot coffee and am icing the knee.

On a more fun note, the guest suite here at the condos is in a great location for people watching.  The weather is sunny and crisp and lots of folks are out and about.  My besties were all very busy this weekend so I nominated myself Gladys Kravitz on their behalf.

My suite is at the back of our Clubhouse and I have to say I'm impressed with how often people come and go from there!  We have free wifi as well as a beautiful sitting area with a big screen TV.  Yesterday I had it reserved for Happy Hour for my Village People (and I couldn't even expend the energy to shower, dress and smile). Fortunately my friend Carrie had partnered up with me for a few other events held here so she figured it all out.  (The BAD news ... only five people showed up).

My little family visited twice yesterday, once with the Dadda and once with the Momma.  Bringing treats as well.  Picking up my dirty laundry and dishes on their way out.  While I hate being helpless, they have done above and beyond without any begrudging.  I love them immensely for that.  I was feeling so poorly that one "sigh" at a request would have brought me to tears!  

I move back to the condo on Wednesday.  Hopefully the weather will continue to cooperate so I can walk outside several times a day.  I can roll my laptop over to the Clubhouse and intersperse my online living and my physical therapy.

Thanks for listening to all the whining!  "They" keep saying the first two weeks are the toughest!


Friday, September 25, 2015

PHYSICAL THERAPY

Oh these smooth talking handsome athletic young people.

Yes, that slick talking youngster got me to return yesterday afternoon.  I almost called to cancel as my back hurt as bad as my knee.  Damn that kid of mine, she said just go!  They know how to work with all kinds of pain, Mom.  And he knew EXACTLY how to make it easier to get in a full workout.  Now I have TEN daily exercises, plus walking.  I do think I will schedule future visits with at least two days in between.

I also called the surgeon's office for additional oxycodone ... to last until my appointment next Thursday.  I know oxy is highly addictive but surely there is something that is effective for the pain but stronger than Tylenol.  I'll do some homework before that appointment.

My brain just wants to sleep to skip the pain so I apologize for the briefness of these blogs!  Ice and a nap call my name!  Then a walk about!


Thursday, September 24, 2015

FIRST VISITORS!

Today I finally felt like I could have a conversation so when my Weight Watcher buddies asked if they could bring me coffee ... I said YES!  They stayed just 20 minutes and despite no shower or makeup in a week they think I look just great!

It's about 10am right now with my next physical therapy session at 2pm.  I'm going to rest up and take a shower!!  Whoo hoo the excitement over here.  The kids brought over easy to fix breakfast and lunch foods ... including my beloved popcorn popper!  


My back is bothering me now so I'm not sure how PT will go today.  I also called the surgeon's office for another week of pain medication.  After a long conversation, me feeling like a wimp ... she said most people call for reinforcements after a few days.  She gave me lots of good information on how to decide when to postpone dosage to every four hours, then five and when I get to 8 hours, I can do one pill every three hours, then four, etc.

This little apartment has a lot more room for me to simply walk around.  After my shower, I'll ask for my sweatshirt and my robe and maybe walk outdoors since the weather is sunny and 70.

Now ... to look up Arthur Murray studios ...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

SLOWLY .... but surely

Yesterday was physical therapy.  Today is PAINFUL!  Not unbearable but definitely noticeably more than the day before.

I also moved to our on site guest suite for a week of healing.  Thank goodness the kidults are taking great care of me.  Friends and neighbors are bringing food and soup and sweet things which is a big help for Jesse/Kate, and delicious for me.I'm kinda mad that I have not lost my appetite ...

The family went to get me breakfast items that I can do myself.  We are going to get Braeden to bring me a brown bag lunch every day (he will be SOOO proud to do it all by himself)  Although I'm really not very good company when I hurt.  This unit is as large as a two bedroom apartment with a huge walk in closet.  So I can do lots of walking and getting up and down.  A little kitchenette with microwave and half size fridge.  

Now my back is bothering me after yesterday's session.  UGH!  He's all smiles and youthful good looks yet I think I will really hate him at the end of six weeks of torture.


Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

WHERE DID SATURDAY GO?

I'm guessing I just slept the day away.  Saltines and ginger ale.  Naps.  And Oxy-whatever it is called.

The good news is that I am writing everything down.  I set my iphone alarm for every three hours at night.  I see a paper showing when I took meds on Sat and started one for today, Sunday!  Otherwise, I don't think I would have a clue.

No appetite, that's for sure.  Now for the pain to subside so I can start walking!

Friday, September 18, 2015

HEADING HOME

Yep. Passed occupational therapy (potty chair, over tub to use shower, got dressed) and physical therapy (walk, turn, stairs). But nurse was over an hour late with pain meds so as soon as they kick in, I'm outta here!!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

BIONIC GRAMMA COMING SOON!

Today is knee replacement day.

Surgery was pushed back til 2pm and I was DYING to think of no liquids after midnight.  The young upbeat anesthesiologist called Wednesday night ... and said I can have clear liquids until four hours before surgery!  AHHHH!  I'm sitting here sipping my coffee!!

Stay tuned for next blog.  I may take a few days off.  I did get a Fitbit so I can set daily goals for steps and stairs for recovery.  I have my choice of two walkers, so am ready to rumble.


Thanks for sending positive vibes today at 2:00 pm Pacific Time!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

TODAY

Today is final prep for being an invalid for a few days.

We are taking up the hall carpet so the walker can maneuver easier.  Gonna try out the toilet seat extender and introduce it to Braeden (usually we share a bathroom so he may encounter it).  Jesse is putting together the walker.

I need to tidy up my bedside tables and bring in another one to set up the Cyro Cuff for icing the knee area.  I completed a new Medical Directive ... just in case.  My friend Eli is awaiting the call to drive me home (oh man, is he a great friend ... can you imagine what I might look like????)


The occupational therapist is having us measure the height of my bed and the chair I will be using so they can simulate how to manage them.  I think getting in and out of the tub to take a shower will be the biggest thing.  But I won't be taking one for 3-4 days anyway ...

Then, I'm wondering, how does the wound heal when it's trapped inside those compression hose?  I can't imagine putting them off and on more than once a day.  If I'm drugged up, how do I wake up to do the exercises at least four times a day?

What am I forgetting?

P.S.  Surgeon's office just called to DELAY the surgery until 2pm.  REALLY?  No liquids after midnight?  UGH

Monday, September 14, 2015

WHAT MONEY CAN'T BUY

While I think about my finances more than I ever have, I know I am better off than so many other retired folks, especially my parents.

My Dad worked construction and had to take early retirement due to arthritis in his back.  They still had one kidlet left at home so my Mom went back to work for a few years.  I believe they lived on $1,200 per month from Social Security.  My Mom was on a million prescriptions which was a financial burden and eventually I contacted all of the manufacturers and got her meds delivered.  My sister paid to have a house cleaner come in every other week.  They shopped at Aldi's.  The most remarkable thing?  They NEVER complained!

All of their six kids did what they could.  One brother came to visit every week on his lunch break, often bringing a pizza or Subway sandwiches.  He would change a lightbulb up high that they couldn't reach.  Another visited each Sunday, usually taking them out to dinner (when they could still get out).  All of us would buy them restaurant gift certificates, or new glasses, or a dental bridge or whatever they would not have the $$$ to spend.

So why could they always be so happy while worrying about what would hit them next?  Because they realized there are so many things that money can't buy.


They so enjoyed family, friends and their church.  They remained active by making crafts to sell at the Golden Hobby Shop, pursuing individual hobbies (Dad was  THE gardener and Mom an artist), volunteering at church and for many, many years ... hosting the family gatherings.

Neither of them attended college yet they had more common sense than any world leader I can think of.  As I read the list above ... my Mom and Dad had every single one of these traits.  And money didn't buy them.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

BATTLE OF THE YELLOW JACKETS

Oh, I hate this time of year when the stinging bees, wasps, yellow jackets, whatever are out in full force.  And at ankle level.

We have a few potted flowers around this teeny tiny patio and we get a lot of visitors.  It's not safe to let the boys play out here.  And, I had to take down the hummingbird feeder as the bees were swarming it!  I don't ever remember that before.  Honestly, I thought they preferred BBQ meat!

I have flying bug spray and citronella but I finally broke down and bought a yellow jacket trap.  Who knew it would work this well?  And Braeden is enthralled with checking the death count every day.  Jesse put it up on the carport to draw them away from the patio.


Summer is coming to a close ....

Saturday, September 12, 2015

9/11

It's hard to believe it has been 14 years since those evil doers killed so many of our citizens.  Just like when JFK was shot, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.  Like everyone else, I suppose.  I will always remember.  I'm not sure I have forgiven.  Or if I ever will.

It worries me, still, when I notice a fellow air passenger of Middle Eastern descent.  I know, I know.  I hate having this prejudice inside of me.  I guess I have always lived in a bubble.  My friendship base does not have any people of any color and most are 18th generation American.  

Today I took some time to read about the incident and how humongous it was.  It astonishes me how something this horrific could have been masterminded by mainly one evil man.  And why. Nineteen of his followers willingly gave their lives to induce this pain.  And for what?

Maybe I am naive, but I think the USA does more than its share helping out the rest of the world.

It was a rather insightful, and sad day today.






Friday, September 11, 2015

AWKWARD WEIGHT GAIN

We've been going to Weight Watchers for two months.  Mostly tiny little weight losses, an occasional gain.  Each week is a small victory for just me!  This is something I am doing for myself.  To keep my health stats at appropriate levels without need for medication.

Today I had a pre-op appointment with the surgeon (who just turned 13, I think).  He introduced me to my new knee.  IT IS HUGE!  It weighs over a pound!
Who knew?  I sure hope my WW Leader understands if my weight remains the same for a week!



Thursday, September 10, 2015

AWKWARD FRIENDSHIPS

Sometimes serendipity steps into your life.  I just love it!

I stopped to get my sick neighbor some soup and ran into my former neighbor, Jody, who is the wine steward at that store.  She took ten minutes to sit and chat (I offered her food!).  Then she invited me to a BBQ at their house ... mainly a reunion of pals she met on a recent trip to Machu Picchu. One lady who lives in Australia came to Oregon for her first trip to the USA.  Three of her tour mates live here in Portland.

What a motley crew we were!  Four of the attendees are wine clients ... one lady has followed her from store to store to store!  (She worked for a chain and continually moved up).  I followed her also but we have a friendship first and then I'm a wine slave.  It was mostly single women, one single guy and one other couple.  The weather cooperated so we got to eat outdoors.  Kerry, Jody's husband is a trained chef and we each brought appetizer or salad.  Everything was amazing!  (Sorry Weight Watchers ....)

Margi and I were the first ones there so of course we started chatting.  Her trip to Peru was her first experience traveling out of the country on her own.  They all bonded beyond belief and keep in touch with email and Facebook.  Strong, independent ladies all around my age.  I had to sit a lot and she kept me company.  She is staying at the host's house for three days (after spending three days with the other female tour mate's) and I asked Jody if she would like me to give Margi a ride to the airport....because she works.

So, on Wednesday I picked her up and showed her my little town.  We had coffee (and yes, I had a little pastry!) then drove her the half hour to our airport.  I think she just might visit me in Maui!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

AWKWARD UNDERWEAR

While reading another blog for oldsters (about farting, no less), I learned of a new hip idea for Depends ... when that day comes (if it does).  I did buy some pads for night time after surgery ... in case I can't race down the hall ten feet and sit in time.

Confitex.  A New Zealand company ... and they just had the first Designer Incontinence Fashion Show.  Bladder issues are not just for the elderly.  Here's one photo from the show ...


And really ... I don't think I could/would wear these, leakage or not.  But maybe these:
They sure look more like undies than Depends do.  Mr. Ralph had to wear Depends for a few weeks and he hated them!  I did finally find some that looked like men's undies which seemed to help him.

The best part about these Confitex undies is that not only do they look real, they are washable and reusable.  Saving our landfills from adult diapers.  The key features and benefits of Confitex underwear include:

Fashionable
Anatomically designed
Washable
Hypoallergenic
Environmentally friendly
Ultra fast absorbency
Moisture leak protection
Odor protection
Fast drying
Fully breathable
Economical
Chemical free
Ongoing absorbency

They come in two absorbency levels and lots of styles.  Men's also but I have mostly lady readers ...



Pricing is not too bad either!





Tuesday, September 8, 2015

MONEY MONEY MONEY

As I have mentioned before, I have never had to be on a written down budget.  When we had lean years, we ate at home, brought our own coffee and packed a lunch.  No vacations.  I made it fun so Kate never knew.

Now that it is fixed income and withdrawing from my savings, I am paying a lot more attention.  I do spend more when I am here with the kids.  I want to watch them enjoy their inheritance!  Once a week or so, I treat them to a family date ... indoor playground, the zoo, pizza buffet where the kids eat free.  I invested in a bike rack so they can load and go on adventures.  They are so great about making sure the boys get physical exercise every day.

I'm also showing them inexpensive or free things to do when I am away and the rains hit.  We have a huge covered cement patio so they can ride, kick balls, play tag and get fresh air.  The library has loads of kid-oriented activities and story time.  Our local theatre has $1 kids movies every day at noon.  Parks and Rec has indoor play time with lots of gymnastic things to climb and jump around.

I was SOOO excited to learn I could now save $200/year on my condo insurance.  Our new HOA insurance policy covers the building and we just need to cover the $10,000 deductible should something catastrophic occur.  We are in the process of updating our House Rules when one member called to talk to the insurance agent ... and maybe this has been covered in the past but wow!  Great news.

Then, in the mail that very same day ... the rent on the storage unit went up $40!  Per month!

Shoot.  Money, money, money....

Monday, September 7, 2015

GRAMMA GRAMMA - MOST BEAUTIFUL BIWD EFFER!

I'm breaking a current (soon to be changed) Condo HOA House Rule by putting up a bird feeder.  And a hummingbird feeder.  It has been worth it!  (The rule was instigated by the previous Board Chair as she is terrified of squirrels.)



Both little men love looking out the dining area window to see if birds are having their meal at the same time.  Braeden often takes his Poppa's huge binoculars outside to bird watch.  He has the sharpest eyes ever but he can spot a hawk or an eagle way up high with those binocs.

In the park where he had his summer camps, the City put up a huge platform near the top of a utility pole.  This spring, an eagle built a gigantic nest and Braeden spotted two babies within.  We watched in awe as the mother brought a fresh caught fish (the Willamette River is 2-3 blocks away) and ripped off little pieces for them to devour.  I guess it might take a thousand worms to feed one of these youngsters!

The hummingbirds are very brave and don't mind if we are sitting outside just six feet away.  The seed eaters are a little more wary of busy noisy boys.

The absolute best result of investing $20 outside in a little tree ... is Braeden running inside screeching "Gramma, Gramma!  Come see ... the most beautiful biwd EFFER!!"



Sunday, September 6, 2015

AWKWARD WIDOW EATING

I'm glad I joined Weight Watchers again.


Honestly, I didn't realize how hard it would be to have solitary meals.  It's not as much fun cooking for one although I'm making more of an effort.  I've been spoiled living here with the kidults as Jesse LOVES to cook.  I usually have a little bit of whatever they are having, accompanied by a BIG salad. Slowly but surely I'm adding more fresh vegetables and fruits to my life.

I hope once my knee is my own, I can walk and ride my bike in Maui.  It's a great flat area in my little town with a dedicated one mile bike path next to my neighborhood.  The main street also has a bike lane ... once I get over my fear of cars buzzing past me.

Exercise allows WW's to have another bite of something AND helps the weight drop.  I'm looking forward to losing a bit faster for sure.  I know every ounce helps but ....

Maybe I need to spend some time making my own "cookbook" of meals for a week or two.  Buy ingredients that I can use in a dish the next day or the day after.  Leftover bits and pieces seem to get wasted.  But maybe if there was a PLAN!?  I looked into Blue Apron (they do not deliver in Maui yet) but I'm thinking I could do something similar for myself!  

If you haven't heard of them, they ship you all the ingredients (and herbs and spices) to make awesome recipes.  It's $10 per meal per person, for one or two.  Which sounds expensive but if your choice is going out for dinner or staying in and cooking quick ... it's about the same.

Isn't it amazing the jobs we can think up for ourselves??  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT KNEE REPLACEMENT

As I sit here in the library (had to print something and my printer will STILL not work at home!), I am in awe of my three hours at the hospital today.

What a well oiled machine this joint replacement team is.  I met with the hospital joint replacement coordinator and was pleased to learn I should have a pretty easy time because I am so healthy.  HA?  Me???  Only on two medications and no big medical issues (heart, diabetes, etc).  Someone popped in to draw blood and in 30 minutes we had the results.  Blood pressure a little high but she thinks hospitals do that to people!

Answered a million questions with the nurse practitioner who also thinks I'm doing pretty great for my age.  Really?  Most people my age that I know are not taking ANY medication.  Still need to lose weight but hopefully that will continue when I can actually walk without wincing.

I received packets of information with illustrations of exercises, a chart to fill out with measurements like height of my bed, car seat, favorite chair, bath tub, etc so they can recreate the exact heights for physical therapy.  It sounds like I will want to leave as soon as possible ... just to get some rest!  Occupational therapy (using potty, getting in and out of shower/car/bed/chair) and physical therapy begin two hours after surgery.

We get a super cool ice pack device called Aircast Knee Cryo/Cuff with Cooler.  You put in frozen bottles of water then add water.  It's a gravity fill and release system that velcros on instead of using a pack of frozen peas.


I get to sport thigh high compression stockings for six weeks but it sounds like only 2 weeks with the walker.  They talked me out of going to a rehab facility due to the amount of germs that hover around those places.  I'm used to the 40 or 50 varieties at my condo (all of which have remedies) but not the 200 in the hospital or rehab ... some of which may not be curable.  They predict only an overnight stay but asked insurance for two nights, just in case.

Now I'm trying to get our guest suite for a week or so just to be sure I don't step on an Army guy or Lego zombie or trip on the carpets on top of our laminate floors.  Got my potty booster seat and walker.  Now to move Mr. B back to his own room (I'm going to miss his little dinosaur nest) so I can have a chair in there as well as the bed.  

Stay tuned!  Surgery day is Thursday, Sept 17 at 9:30 ... taking less than two hours.  Physical with my primary care doc this Thursday, then pre-op with the surgeon (where I get to PRE PAY his fee ... ???).  Have my hair cut and color scheduled.  Now I have a bottle of special anti germ soap for shower the day before and the morning of surgery.

Interesting factoid ... my knees do not hurt!  Thought about postponing but everyone today said that feeling is very common ... brain is busy with so many other things it forgets to feel the hurt.

Who knew?