Sunday, March 30, 2014

Back to (para)normal

It's Sunday night. And just like most of you, I have to go to work in the morning. No. I GET to go to work in the morning. Things are getting back to normal. Well, as normal as they ever get around here.

The weekend was a whirlwind. On Friday I had my first follow up with the surgeon. I took advantage of this last free-ish day to meet my friend, Megan, for lunch. Cannot believe I didn't think to grab a picture of us, as I haven't seen her since the War of 1812 or so. Anyway, it was a long overdue get together. Countless laughs and a couple of hugs and we were both reset to "happy."

My appointment was good, but a bit of a puzzle.

The Good:
The CPM is on the couch, you can see the corner of the 'cooler' on the floor to my left. 

  1. The doctor was quite pleased with his work (aren't they always?) and the x-rays they took looked good to me, too. 
  2. He also thought my PT progress was quite strong. Little did he know that I brought and used the crutches only as a show for him... I had  been off them since Tuesday. ("Necessity is the mother of recovery"!) The last thing I needed was to waltz(ish) in and have him freak out that I was ruining his reconstruction! 
  3. I brought back the CPM (Continuous Perpetual Motion) machine even though I technically can keep it until my next follow up. (It only goes to about 100 degrees and my range of motion is already beyond that). This thing is vital in the beginning but it is a huge and heavy contraption... not conducive in lowering the chaos level in our living room.
  4.  He did not manipulate my leg to see how the graft was holding up (Holy OUCH if he had tried that!) 
  5. Getting the stitches out was not traumatic. I was concerned about this because on my long incision there were no visible knots and I had this fear that somehow the knots were INSIDE the leg and the nurse would have to pull them through. I was wrong about that, thank goodness! Musta been some fancy knot-less style of stitching. (What a good Boy Scout!)

The Puzzling:
  1. He asked me if I was back to work yet. This got me immediately a teeny bit defensive, possibly because I knew that I really would have been able to handle it the last couple of days. My 100% honest response to his question was "I... thought... I... wasn't...allowed... to.. go... until..." He looked over my chart again and agreed that, yes, I did need clearance for Worker's Comp before I could head back to work. Weird.
  2. He asked me if I was wearing the brace in bed at night. My 100% answer to that question was, "Well, I was prepared to tell you 'yes,' but it sounds like it's okay with you if I am not. So, uuhhh, no. I have  been taking it off to sleep." He was fine with that.
The reason why those things were puzzling is that they went against the 'strict instructions' I got when I left after the operation. I am starting to see that all of the MUST DOs and MUST DO NOTs are a little more flexible than they sound. Right now I look at the timeline for my physical therapy and I am thinking that I can move things along at a faster clip if I am smart and consistent with my PT. ("Straight Line Jogging" beginning at 3 months, I'm looking at you!) 

I had a great surprise after church today. Jim, my Mile 25 teammate, presented me with this funny, sweet, and STRESS-REDUCING gift:
I was not able to capture it very well with my phone, but what you are looking at is a little plastic Phoebe, complete with a "40" cape, head band, and determined facial expression. His Pay It 40ward project is to create science experiments for kids. In this one, the Plastic Phoebe floats to the top until you squeeze the bottle, whereupon she sinks to the bottom. I believe this phenomenon is called "science". (Yes. My journalism major is showing here!) I am going to bring this awesome gift to work with me and share it with students and staff. They will love it. Thanks, Jim!

Finally, a little photo to show how weird the circulatory system is.... 

The surgery didn't touch that part of me knee at all. And though it's hard to see in this picture, there's a pretty cool looking bruise on the inside of my ankle. I believe this phenomenon is called "science gravity". But I might  be wrong.

OH. WAIT!! FINALLY, finally... A picture of the cake I baked for my amazing co-workers as a thanks for all of their care and support while I've been hobbled:

Thanks for being there when I 'kneed'd' you. Your kindness 'takes the cake'! Onward! -Phoebe
I didn't have my preferred dark chocolate powder (rats)  but I used coconut oil instead of regular vegetable oil. If my tastes of the batter are any indication, it's going to be SOOOO yummy! 

Please keep my dad in your thoughts tomorrow. He's going in to have his horribly messed up shoulder replacement fixed. Keep Mom in there, too, as she's not 100% yet from her falls around here and she'll be busy taking care of him. THANKS!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hope springs... (if she remembers to RICE!)

I'm going to talk about this later in the post, but I don't want the NEXT picture to be the one that pops up on FB when I share this link. It will get me flagged for sure!

Raise your hand if you felt a deep emptiness in your soul yesterday because you didn't get to see a horrifying picture of an injured body part? Specifically, an injured body part belonging to one of my dear parents, Hope & Richard?.... Well, good news, cuz here's what my Mom's ankle - you know, the one that wasn't too bad after her second fall? - looked like this  morning.

Am I wrong, or does this look like the ankle of Jabba the Hutt?
Because it didn't truly hurt and merely felt "bruise-y" (a term I use a lot with my knee, actually) Mom didn't see any reason to attend to her injured ankle yesterday. So, she went about her business. And this is what she woke up to today. I just spoke to her on the phone and she has found that "Flav-o-Ice" tubes make for really good ankle icing. It wouldn't be my first choice, but whatever gets her to sit the heck down and put her foot up sounds good to me. More alarming? She says it looks WORSE tonight than this morning. I am I still say she needs to get back to the doctor, but shouting from 400 miles away has not gotten me very far.

Anyway, all of this leaves me wondering if we should remove the welcome mats to our house and replace them with caution tape?

For me, today was a good day. The boys got picked up for school and day care so I had a chance to:

1. Go to PT and stay a little longer for the torturous/very good for me electrical stim on my quad. Adding a couple of new exercises to my list each time I go in, so it's hopeful.

2. Come home and clean up the house a bit ANNDDDD... watch the last 1/2 of When Harry Met Sally. (This is one of those that always reminds of me crazy late weekend nights watching TV in high school. It seemed to always be on.... Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal seemed SO OLD in it then. Siiiggghhhh.....)

3. Read read read some great books that my co-workers have sent home to amuse me.
I would NEVER have picked up this book on my own. WAY too creepy looking. But I am HOOKED... though I would be very cautious about which kids I recommend it to because it's pretty scary.  It's mostly novel-ish with swaths of graphic novel tossed in as a pivotal plot device. 
4. Ice, stretch, strengthen, take a nap, and clean the kitchen.... 

Can't decide if it's cool or sad that I feel like that may have been the perfect day.

I was delighted and touched when Scott got home from work with a package for me. It was from a friend /former co-worker and accompanied by a lovely, kind note. I have always loved the "Life is Good" line of clothing and gear, so this shirt is PERFECT.
The Blogger program is making me BONKERS because it won't let me turn this right-side-up! (Though I've done so in the past..)  But, you can see how sweet and perfect this shirt is. Great color, too. Thanks, Anika!

Lastly for today, and I can't believe I have neglected to post this before now.... Here is the calendar/wall of recovery that Scott created for me the evening of my surgery. It marks the days until the Boston Marathon 2015. He has an idea that my comeback will be complete at that time.

We've lived in this house almost nine years and never gotten around to painting our bedroom..... Looks like we will be holding off on that task at least until April 2015!

Days crossed off, milestones noted, alarming pictures of the inside of my right leg.... Pretty much exactly what you have on the wall of your bedroom, no doubt.

Just when you think your husband has run out of ways to surprise you. I definitely did NOT see this coming. Gotta love the supportive spouses of this world!

Off to see my surgeon tomorrow and, no doubt, get cleared for work starting Monday. This has been one helluva "vacation"!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The patients, three

Patient #1 - Dad. 

No news here, really, but an alarming visual. It looks faked, but it's all too real.

Patient #2  - Mom

She made it home last night around 8pm. My brother, Kwasi, came to the house to help get her stuff unloaded. He also informed her that he would be coming up in the morning to take her to Urgent Care. Good thing! While the doc said she clearly had no broken bones, the bleeding in her arm had continued unabated. That type of wound did not allow for stitches or tape or glue or any of the methods I have ever heard of. Instead, she had to have it.... cauterized. Yes. Cauterized!!!! Gaaaaah! She can take the bandages off in a couple of days and hopefully, it will be done bleeding.

Patient #3 - Me

Some progress today:

1. I drove the car
2. I have no pain in my knee when weight bearing, so I was able to ditch the crutches for a good chunk of the day, which meant....
3. I was able to make dinner and have it ready when Scott and the boys got home. (This is HUGE! I love be catered to every so often but watching Scott & my mom do evvvverything for so long was really hard.)
4. My quad is tired. This is great because it means it is getting worked.
5. PT tomorrow, follow up w surgeon on Friday and, probably, back to work on Monday.

Here's hoping for no more excitement for anyone in my circle for a long time! Well, I'd take a couple million from the lottery or something, but you get the idea!

A rare post from my mobile device... Wonder how it will look?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Breaking Bad(ly): My Poor Mom

After all the nice things I said about her in my last blog post, you think I would be more careful with my mother. Not so much.

Last night she was going out to her car to retrieve something. Our epically icy driveway had another plan. She fell. I was in the bathroom and Scott was cleaning up from dinner so we didn't even realize she went out. When she came back in she reported that she "lay there awhile" before she decided she should/could get up. The first concern we had was the cut on her arm. It was not deep, really, but it was... well, I think the technical term is 'gross'. We found some gauze, wrapped her up, and gave her an ice pack. It would have been amusing, the picture of me on the couch with my bum leg and her on the rocking chair with her bloody arm, if it weren't so alarming. And, to be honest, inconvenient! Having 2 of 3 adults moderately disabled in a house with 3 kids is tough!

Thankfully it was pretty close to Gabe's bedtime and I was able to get him in jammies (yay! I can manage 1-legged squats to the floor to do diaper and clothes changes!) and Scott put him to bed. Gungah went (carefully!) to bed, too, and we were hopeful that things would  be easier in the morning.
Oddly enough, things don't always look better in the morning.
When she got up things were decidedly not easier. She now sported an enormous bruise underneath the cut and realized during the night that she had conked her head a good bit, too, during the fall. Ever the trooper, she took some Ibuprofen and we all powered through a rough morning. The plan was to have Mom drop the kids off with one of my co-workers at a half way point to school and she would take them the rest of the way. (EVEN dropping Gabe at daycare. HUGE!) Because of her fall and because, despite my gimpiness, I am still able to lift things, I decided that I would get Gabe loaded up into the car, ride to the meeting spot and get him loaded into the other car. (He has been an absolute horror show getting in and out of carseats and I didn't want to put that on anyone outside of my bloodline!) I was scurrying around to get myself out the door as everyone else was doing the same. I hollered at least 3 times, "DO NOT TRY TO LIFT GABE!"

Tom heard me. Elliott heard me. I'm sure Gabe heard me. Mom says she didn't hear me.

[Drum roll the inevitable.... ]

She was stepping down into the garage, carrying Dr. Chunk and she fell.


This time it was her ankle, mostly. Tommy was on it and yelled for me immediately. I scrambled to the door and hauled Gabe off of her lap. I told the boys to go inside. They were confused and worried. I called my husband and upon his answering said what must have been pretty alarming: "You need to come home right now!" (To my credit, he had called just minutes before and said if I needed anything to call and he would walk out the door right away. So, it wasn't like he hadn't offered!)

Meanwhile, Gungah was still sitting on the floor of the garage and Gabe was standing on the porch screaming his head off. Not because he was hurt but because he didn't want to go back inside. He wanted to ride in Gungah's car!

She refused to let me help her up (maybe a wise choice) but eventually Mom was able to limp her way back into the house. I cleared the couch of my torture rack and took a look at her ankle. It was slightly swollen but she could roll it, so it did not seem like a break. I gave her a towel, ice pack, and wrapped it in an ace bandage, just as Scott arrived.....

She thought at first she broke it, so I guess we are actually in good shape here.

Since I had PT at 9:00 and we were obviously not going to allow Mom to do anything except sit and rest her leg. And her arm. And her head .... I rode to school and daycare drop off  with Scott and the boys and he dropped me off at PT. (Still an APB out on my right quad muscle, by the way. Where, or where, could it be?)

I got home and mom was still waiting for her cell phone to ring.

What? That doesn't make sense? Oh. Right. I didn't tell you about my DAD, did I...?

Back in February, Dad had his shoulder replaced. He is a pro at these things, as he has already had a hip replacement, several shoulder surgeries, a lobotomy.... you get the drill. When you have shoulder surgery in general, and shoulder replacement specifically, it's really hard to do little things. You know, little things like get out of bed, get dressed, maintain your own personal hygiene....

When Mom arrived here she was a little worried that he was overly dependent on her but was determined that it would be good for him to start doing for himself a little more. She talked to him several times a day and he sounded, she said, kind of depressed. He was having a hard time doing the things she always did. Not too surprising. But he was still able to do most of the social things he had on the calendar: high school play, church, committee meetings. It was a little red and swollen one day, so there was some concern about infection, but that seemed to calm down. So, really, how bad could it be?

Apparently it could  be pretty darn bad. Yesterday he had an appointment with his GP. The doc took a look at his shoulder and said that it appeared that somehow the surgery had failed. Dad needed to get back to his surgeon ASAP.

Oh. Sh*t.

ASAP turned out to  be this morning at 8:45. Hence my broken mother sitting in a chair with her cell phone on her lap willing it to ring. My cousin, Kevin, retired last summer and was happy to drive Dad to the appointment. We know he got there. But what the HELL was taking so long for them to call back? Finally, a little after 11AM, the call came.

The ball of his arm is out of the shoulder socket. The surgeon (a guy who Dad has known since he was a teenager.... a guy who Dad taught to play hockey... a guy who always has another story about Dad every time he sees him... a guy who just plain loves my dad....) was extremely upset by this. He will need to have another operation to get it repaired. That operation is on Monday. Kevin and Dad had already talked about the logistics of getting things taken care of without Mom there to help, including picking up the High Test pain meds Dad would get to use to keep him sane until the repair.

But Mom knew I it. I knew it. Scott knew it. There's only one thing to know:

Mom needed to go home.

So, she is. She is on her way right now, actually, busted up body parts and all.

Lucky for me, I got pushy with my surgeon's office and now I have permission to drive. This takes care of 999 of my 1,000 foreseeable problems. I also have permission to bear 50% weight on my leg. Thank. The. Lord.

If you have me on any sort of prayer list, I surely appreciate it, but I would ask that any that you have for me be tossed over to my parents. And everyone living at 84 Benton Rd., for that matter. (A totally different blog post...)

P.S. Oddly enough, the only time my dad can think of when he might have hurt his shoulder, causing it to 'undo' his surgery was when he was driving in his car and he sneezed. Yup. It sounds like a sneeze may be the culprit for his troubles. Crazy, huh?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Oh, Mama, how do you do it?!

If you've followed my blog for awhile, you probably already know that I have the world's greatest mother. For quite a while I had a weekly "Marvy Mom Monday" feature that started as a tribute to her and then became about all kinds of great moms I know and love. I am continually amazed at her ability to save the day for the people in her life, related or not. 

She came to town last Friday night to help celebrate my 40th and she stuck around to help take care of me, the kids and the house after the operation. All week she has reminded me to take my meds, prepared meals, cleaned up and (most exhaustingly) taken care of the increasingly cranky toddler that lives at my house. (He could go to daycare but she loves having this time with him so she has kept him home with us while the boys were at school.) Gabe is adorable but having me down-for-the-count is really hard on him. I am not the same Mom and he just doesn't dig it. He is prone to full blown freak outs pretty easily and no amount of rationalization, time outs, hugs, snacks, drinks, toys... will knock him out of it. 

Today was The Day of Days and as I write this I honestly can't believe she (we!) survived it. Scott's theater kids were hosting a day-long festival at his school so he left the house before 6AM. Tom had a long-ago-scheduled follow up appointment with a specialist across the state from us that we just couldn't miss. Because I can't drive yet (and because "They" frown on leaving 7- and not-quite-2-year-olds at home alone all day long) the journey involved Tom, Mom, Me, Elliott and Senor Cranky Pants Himself. The day looked like this:
If I'm ever half as good as she is, I'll be twice as good as I deserve.
5AM - Up, shower, dress, pack up.
5:45 - Get kids up and into car.
6AM - Leave
6:20 - Dunkin Donuts stop (had to have SOMETHING sweet to promise the kids for the ridiculous wake  up hour! Yeah. For "the kids".)
8:20 - Arrive at appointment (25 minutes early! Woo hoo!)
8:21 - Gabe has meltdown #1. Does not want to get out of the car. I, on crutches, cannot lift him nor carry him. He will not walk. Gungah carries him in.
8:25 - I check Tom in. Gabe begins relentless racing around medical facility. I hobble helplessly after him because, well, this is not a playground after all. Gungah's on it.
8:35 - Tom and I get called in. Gabe continues his assault on humanity.
9:00 - Appointment over, but a same-day follow up is scheduled for 1:30. (In other words, we now need to kill time in a part of the state unknown to us)... Gabe is lying on floor of waiting room in full blown toddler epic freak out mode. We try "Bye, Gabe, we're going" and start to walk out the door without him but he's not buying it. Poor Gungah has to pick him up and carry him as he battles against her to the car.
9:03 - World Wrestling Entertainment signs Gungah as a new act after watching her pin the insanely-strong-limbed Gabe into his carseat. 
9:15 - We arrive at "A Mall" as defined by Siri... but it's a plaza, not an inside mall where it would be easy to kill a couple of hours. Instead, we wander through a Party City (minor meltdowns but nothing serious) and Game Stop (he was mostly okay here, too, though my knee was killing me so I headed to the car a few minutes before the rest of the crowd).
10:15 - Round 2 of Wrestlemania, Carseat Edition. Gungah wins, but it's starting to wear her out.
10:25 - Siri told me about a book store nearby. We head there and Gungah discovers the solution to all of our Toddler Problems: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. She finds a stuffed Daniel, a trolley and a few of the other characters that can ride in the trolley and decides, immediately, that it's time for Gabe to get his 2nd birthday present from her. Ta da!
11:15 - Gabe holds Daniel Tiger and fairly happily gets into the carseat.
11:20 - Applebees for lunch. The birthday gifts are the perfect solution. He eats his lunch and we all get to relax a little. Yay, Daniel Tiger!
12:30 - Back to the car. Not the flawless execution of the last entrance, but he does okay.
12:50 - Parking garage of second appointment. Gabe has fallen asleep on the ride. He is DONE. He wants NO MORE of this ridiculous outing. Will not walk. Will not cooperate in any way at all. We have two seperate elevator rides to get to the correct floor. Pooor Gungah!
1:00 - Blessedly, the waiting area of this doctor's office is made for kids. There are no other patients there so Gabe and his brothers have their run of the place and plenty rocking horses and other cool things to play on and look at. And of course, he has the Trolley and Daniel Tiger & Friends. He's mostly happy here... but SO very tired!
1:15 - Tom goes in for some testing.
1:40 - Tom comes out and I go into talk to the doctor.
2:00 - I come out. Gabe is whiney and then realizes we are going somewhere - AGAIN - and he's just done. Fit of fits. Scream of screams. And, again, absolutely nothing I can do for him. Once again, my 71-year-old mother has to take this violent beast and get his NO NO NO-self into the car. It's just awful. And there's nothing I can do about it.
2:05 - The long drive home. He freaks out for the first part. Calms down. Then the boys and Gungah get out to get a snack and he freaks out again. And then he eats a couple of pretzle sticks. Screams a bit. And finally goes to sleep. Then I canNOT hold it so we have to stop about 30 minutes from home and he wakes up in order to scream all.the.way.home. 
5PM - We arrive home. I collapse on the couch, take a pain pill, and Gungah, against all reason, manages to pick up after us, heat up dinner, and get Gabe into his PJs for bed.
5:15 - Gabe spends the evening snuggled up on my chest, flirting lovingly with Gungah, and being a complete angel. He is not the same boy. He is perfection.
7:30PM - Gungah and Gabe go to bed.

I cannot believe we survived the day. I am feeling very lucky, if tired. I don't know what I would do without my mom. But, ummm, yeah, I'm still not cleared for work and so that darling Gabe? He's TOTALLY going to daycare next week!

P.S. I'm sure you are like, "Uh, what about this doctor's appointment? On a Saturday? That's weird." Yep. It is kind of weird. It's more a data-gathering mission than anything. More about it at some point if sharing seems like the right call. For now, rest assured, we are all fit as fiddles and healthy as horses. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

An overdue "yay!" and some post-op

Surgery is behind me now. I am also slowly coming out of the fog of pain and pain meds that accompanied it. At some point I hope to offer a post giving the nitty gritty of the surgery, but I realized that I never posted this message from my friend, Beth, regarding Pay it 40-ward. While she was not an official teammate, her husband, Tom, was. Here's her FB message to me from last week:

I just wanted to tell you that your pay it 40ward campaign inspired me. We did a training at work where they pay out $1 for correct answers. Our table collected $7. Instead of pooling to buy lottery tickets, we are asking people to match our $7 and at Easter, we will donate the $ to St. Jude. Our goal is 2 people a day or around $600.

It's always wonderful to hear about good causes getting more support... and even more wonderful to think I may have had a part in it. Thank you, Beth!

I'm pretty much out of gas and need to get back on my fancy knee cooler machine, but... just revealed this morning, here's my knee. Kinda gross,huh? Sorry.
Where does the quad muscle go during a knee operation? No one knows..... 

Hospital equipment galore. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pay it 40ward in Action: Mile 12. (Oh, yeah. And that surgery-thing today.)

Today's the big day. I go into the surgery center at 12:30PM for my ACL (and possible MCL) repair. The boys are at school. Gabe is at daycare. It's 9:51AM. And I.AM.HUNGRY!

You probably know that I am a gal who does NOT miss a meal. Or a snack. Or any opportunity to eat, really.

So given that it's 9:51AM and I have not had anything to eat since about 7:30 last night... (It was ice cream. Delicious, scrumptious, creamy, calorie-full, life-giving ICE CREAM!)... I am HUNGRY. I don't wear hungry well.

But, it's all for the good. I can't believe how much I am capable of totally dreading and totally looking forward to getting this thing done. It's going to be a really ugly couple of days. There's no getting around it.

Enough about ice cream and cake and french toast and lasagna and avocados. (I am killing me).

Today I share my Mile 12 teammate's report. I think you will chuckle and perhaps notice a family resemblance in Meghan's sense of humor.

Greetings and Happy 40 and Fabulous Birthday!!

I regret that my report is overdue, but that is true to form with me. I actually completed my Pay It 40-ward assignment about a month ago now. Whew, where did that time go?! I spent many hours contemplating what I could do that would make a proper difference for the grand scheme that you put into action. I shared a video on Facebook a couple of months ago (darned if I can find it now!) that depicted a couple of guys saying "This should be the next big craze". The video went on to show them giving to the homeless - food, clothes, shoes, etc. So in that light, I started scouring the stores for items for a week or two, particularly hats and warm clothes going on clearance that would help me get more bang for my bucks. I can't even begin to tell you how many people that I shared your Pay It 40-ward information with!! And everyone that I talked to agreed on two things; 1) you're crazy and 2) you're a genius!! The order of the opinions varied, but I think they both apply pretty equally. Anyway, I gathered 20 knit hats, some gloves, socks, sweatpants, insulated shirts, toothbrushes, toothpaste, Kleenex and razors. No, I couldn't make your initial $5 go quite that far, but once you start "running" with an idea like this, it's sort of hard to stop. I took the donation to The Open Door Mission here in Rochester. Considering the weather that we have been continuing to get, I'm sure that my donations were put to good use. Thank you so much for your fabulous idea, dedication and endless inspiration!! Teagan and I are already planning to make more donations in the future.

The scene of Meghan's 40-ward love!

 Oh, almost forgot, Teagan was nice enough to join me tonight when I went out to put on my "Miles for Phoebe". We walked about 4.5 miles, so 9 between the two of us. She thinks I'm crazy now because I kept waving at all of the cars coming at us. It's okay, I am, maybe a little. It's in the genes. We had a great time, and I'm sure you would have been waving right along with me!! Thank you for being the fabulous genius that created Pay It 40-ward, and helped me make a difference and some awesome memories with my daughter!! ♥♥
Genetically disposed to outlandish friendliness!

Love, Meghan

Thanks so much, Meghan, for braving the elements and for giving to such a worthy cause! And, oh yeah, I still haven't added up all the miles people ran for  me. It's a lot. Like, a METRIC LOT of miles.