Healing and Pacing

Pacing – not pacing in my study, like Dumbledore does (a lot, if the Weasley twins are to be believed) – but pacing myself. Healing. Letting myself go slowly. It’s harder than it sounds, folks.

Surgery #1 was healing well until I tripped, stumbled, bumped, stubbed the partially healed toes. That led to surgery #2.

Surgery #2 was a mixed bag. The bone healed well, but the soft tissue supporting the bone did not heal. Frankly, it was a mess. That mess led to surgery #3.

Surgery #3 was more intense. Healing involved no weight on the toes for at least two weeks, which meant using a scooter. That was tough, folks. We moved the scatter rugs out of the kitchen and bought a cup holder for the handlebars. That way, I could still get my coffee without putting pressure on Chuck, and I could get around the house without stumbling or knocking over my scooter.

Doctor Footloose warned me that many people who have similar surgeries to #3 wear the surgical boot for 8 to 12 weeks – minimum. She knows I detest the boot, but I will wear it as long as needed. Growl. Whine. Blankety blank boot.

Boot on one foot plus shoe on the other means I’m uneven, not level. Too much time at this kind of position leads to backaches. I’m healing from one of those now. PT style exercises on the floor (oh, yeah, getting down on the floor while wearing a big boot is a big bother); ice and heat alternating, and whatever pain medicine seems appropriate. This equation leads to feeling better – slowly. Very slowly.

That slow speed is why pacing is so important. Last night I made and canned chicken broth. Cooking the broth took two days in two large crockpots. One step at a time, I strained the broth, then took a break. Next, I set up the pressure cooker. The I took another break. Finally, I filled the jars, put the lids on, and  got all ten jars into the pressure cooker. That process didn’t require as many breaks because I could monitor the pressure cooker while sitting on the stepstool in the kitchen.

If this post seems dull, it’s because healing and pacing is low on excitement. I’ve loaded up on reading material for my Kindle and through Paperback swap, and explored involvement in the growing local historical society. I may be able to apply my grant writing skills to help them expand and open their new building. Meanwhile, the foot will heal. Slowly. Very slowly.

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Collecting Crocks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s Limey the lime tree on the right. Limey has spent the winter indoors next to a very sunny window. We’ll move Limey outside for the summer as soon as we’re sure the temperatures will stay well above freezing. In addition, I believe Limey needs a bigger pot. I have a 6 gallon crock in the garage that will allow room for drainage (broken crockery, big sticks, whatever I have around the yard) and still give Limey room to grow.

The other 5 gallon crock has drainage in the base (broken dishes pulled from my rock garden) and potting soil. This crock will house cherry tomatoes or jalapeno peppers.

I have a third 5 gallon crock that I’ll prep later today – after the Brewers send Craig Counsell a clear message that hey, Milwaukee is still the best place for baseball. If you haven’t guessed, Brewers and Cubs are starting a three game weekend series in the Windy City.

Foot status: I can handle small amounts of yard work like filling the crocks, but I’m still not very strong. I’ll build up what strength I can between now and the next surgery, and I’ll get as much of the garden planted as possible, too. Coping, it’s all about coping.

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The Agony of the Feet

To be clear, it’s the right foot again. In February, I had a somewhat routine fix – a bunion and preventive procedure for two tiny hammertoes. In March, I tripped. Big time. Stubbed the toes badly enough to need the surgery redone and the ligaments surrounding the big toe sewn up.

Now it’s April (Cue deep sigh of self pity here). Bone healed well; soft tissue did not. The ligaments are pulling the toe out of position (again) and causing pain. I dug through my closet and found exactly one pair of shoes that I can wear with minimal pain, and I’m wearing them for yard work. Again, minimal. The next surgery, a joint fusion, will happen in mid May.

Ugh. And double Ugh. I’m doing what I can while I can and getting the tomato and pepper seedlings ready to plant. The re-landscaping of the front yard may fall on Chuck. We’ve been planning since last fall, and we picked up containers (big ones!) for that project. I’ll help prep the containers and plant if we can do it before my surgery. I’m even setting up containers on our deck so I can maintain them without going up or down stairs. Getting my hands in the dirt is emotionally healing, so having plants around is a priority.

Unfortunately, this surgery will require absolutely no weight bearing for two weeks. I’ve reserved a knee scooter and I’ve been adding to my Kindle. Recommendations and books are welcome (I’m looking at you, Green Girl!). I’ve contacted a local candidate I support and offered to volunteer from my home (my couch) and I might help a local organization with their grant writing. All those factors should help keep me busy enough to prevent excessive self-pity.

Readers, this is a lousy situation, but it could be worse.

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Starting Over Again

I’m starting over and looking at six weeks of healing for the right foot. Lots of resting and elevating, reading books, icing once every hour (at least for a few days) and just general bump on a log activity. Like, no activity.

Back story: on February 1, I had surgery to repair a bunion and two tiny hammertoes on my right foot. The second and third toes, tiny as they are, healed beautifully. Getting the pins pulled out wasn’t pretty, but neither was it awful. Those toes look great now.

The big toe, however, encountered a problem. I tripped. I wasn’t wearing my boot, and I stubbed my toe. Stubbed it hard. Yes, folks, it hurt, enough so that I may have let loose a few four letter words. I was loud enough that Chuck came running across the house to ask, “Are you okay? What happened?” I sniffled and told him I’d bumped my toe. Sniff. Sob.

Move the calendar ahead a few days to my follow-up appointment and the removal of the pins. The doctor came in the room, took one look at the big toe, and almost shouted, “What happened?! This toe was perfectly straight the last time I saw you!” I sheepishly explained what had happened as she examined the crooked toe that by now was at a 45 degree angle from the foot. She immediately scheduled me for repair surgery.

I told you she scheduled me immediately, right? I saw her in the office on Monday, and I found myself in the surgical center three days later, on Thursday. Surgeon (let’s call her Dr. Toes) put the bone back in place and repaired the soft tissue, ligaments and tendons, around the toe.

And here I am, once again, sitting on the couch. There’s a basket on the end table with almost anything I could need: hearing aid batteries, lip balm, lotion, my medicines, hair scrunchies, and more. I’m watching a marathon of Homestead Rescue and reading a book on my Kindle. I have the Harry Potter series next to me, too, ready for a reread.

Readers, do you have any recommendations? Books I should read while I’m resting and healing? I’ll find them on Paperback Swap or download them to my Kindle. Thanks for your help during this long healing process!

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Distraction and Harmony

I arrived at the clinic a wee bit nervous for my third ultrasound guided knee injection. Don’t look it up; you’ll shudder. The first was fine, the second a week later more painful, and I imagined the third injection would increase the pain factor.

Well, Expert Doctor asked me how my weekend had been. I told the doc and nurse all about our weekend in the Minnie Apple for barbershop chorus competition. Amigo’s chorus gets better every year. Two of the quartets associated with our chorus came away with trophies, too. Add to that the simple pleasure of being surrounded by vocal music at a high competitive level all weekend long and–

The shot was finished before I knew it started.

On the medical side: I’m walking much better than I was six weeks ago when I could barely cross a room without tears. The set of three injections made a major impact.

On the musical side, the weekend was wonderful. Next up: Veteran’s Day program and Christmas concerts.

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Signs of the Times

Gas station: regular unleaded, $1.18. I think: Wow. I think: I don’t need gas. I have a full tank – still. And I realize that not many need gas right now. No one is traveling, and even the daily commute isn’t happening for most of us. This low price is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thrift stores – my favorite places to shop! – are closed up tighter than a high pitched drum. I think: Darn. I think: Well, it makes sense. They’re germ-laden places. People touch everything. I realize: I’m still going to shop thrift when this is all over, and I’m still going to wash everything I buy – sometimes twice.

Bars are closed. The streets are rather dark at night. Not that I’m out at night – but I’ve heard it’s spooky.

I’ve noticed a trend on Facebook. People are posting so that when a post comes up in the future, say, a Facebook Memory five year memory, they’ll remember what was happening in 2020. Gas prices. What’s closed, what’s open. Major Leagues Sports shutting down. How people are handling Social Distance. I haven’t joined the trend yet. I’m thinking more along the lines of “I don’t think I want to remember this stretch of 2020, at least not the sad details.”

I just want to remember enough to help my family and friends learn from this disaster so we don’t repeat it.

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And the Lockdown Continues

Yesterday we took chances. It was definitely in the category of Essential Activities, but it was still chancy.

We brought groceries to Petunia. Twice. I was bending the rules at her senior living apartment complex because all deliveries were supposed to be picked up in the lobby rather than having people walking in and out of the hallways. Petunia is still quite weak from a tough pain stretch last week, and I’m not going to make her walk the long walk to the lobby to meet me. I brought her a newspaper and picked up her credit card, and then I headed home.

Home, where the boys, Chuck and Amigo, were still asleep. Since I’m still on a schoolteacher’s timetable, I am awake in the mornings when they are, well, not. It gives me a quiet house in which to work, with few if any interruptions. Yesterday being Saturday, I didn’t even open up the school Chromebook. Mainly, I took care of Buttercup the bunny, cleaned up the kitchen, and then stretched out on the couch with a little HGTV and my own newspaper – and coffee.

Coffee. Coffee brewed in my own coffeemaker, on my own kitchen counter. When I picked up Petunia’s paper, I confirmed the news: Kwik Trip has closed their coffee bars. It makes sense, I guess. Pouring our own coffee, flipping through the lids that always seem to be stuck, touching one handle after another – and sharing space with others doing the same thing – all of those are risky in these Pandemic days. Good thing my Prepper Self always stocks up when coffee is on special!

Ah, my Prepper Self. Chuck is starting to bend my way in stocking up on necessities. With a few special trips to the pet store and the meat market, this trip to the store was short and still productive. We stocked up mainly on items that we couldn’t make or improvise on our own, like sodas. Mixers, to be honest. I have gin, I want my tonic. We have rum, now let’s make sure we have Coke. You get the picture.

Sunday, today, we stayed home. I ventured outside the house to empty kitchen compost and a bunny litter box, but other than that, I’ve stayed within the house. As the virus spreads in my community, I predict more days of staying in. We’ll see how that goes.

Readers, what kind of necessity makes you leave the house during the quarantine days? Leave a comment to share.

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Back into the (Sur)real World

Surreal. That word keeps coming up. A few days ago (was it really only two days ago?) Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers took the reins and declared a state of emergency. Covid19, the illness caused by the novel Coronavirus, was moving along and spreading quickly – much too quickly. He ordered schools closed, both public and private. Many universities and colleges had already extended their spring breaks indefinitely to minimize contact. And now, the same falls to Kindergarten through grade 12.

Amigo’s spring show was postponed and rehearsals cancelled until further notice. Many members of the chorus are in high risk groups for the new virus – elderly, heart conditions, weakened immune systems, and I’m sure more diagnoses than I know about. It was a heartbreak for Amigo, and I know others were devastated, too.

All these actions are for good reason. the novel Corona virus spreads through contact and droplet infection, and the strongest defense against that is to minimize contact with other people. If someone sneezes and I’m nearby, I could inhale the droplets from their sneeze. If someone coughs into their hand and then opens a door with that same hand, I could open the door and transfer that virus to my own system.

I go to school as scheduled tomorrow. I teach online already, so there might (knock on wood) be few changes in my own setting. We don’t need to create new structures or schedules. We did have to cancel field trips and testing dates. The standardized state tests haven’t been removed from our curriculum, but we had to cancel the “nonessential travel” for teachers who would have traveled to our testing sites. As an online school, our students are all over the state. To administer the state test, we look at a map and go to our students. We set up testing sites in hotels, libraries, and technical colleges so we can test the kids near their homes. All that, now, is cancelled. We don’t know when or if we’ll get it set up again.

So tomorrow I go to school as usual, but nothing will be typical. I might teach my classes, I might make my scheduled phone calls, and I know I’ll answer many emails, but I have a feeling this school day will feel anything but normal.

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In Which Daisy Continues to Worry Unnecessarily

Measles.

Measles is back in the country, and it’s back with a vengeance. I’m amazed and appalled at how fast the illness can spread and how it spreads before symptoms appear. I’m appalled, not amazed, at the number of people who think vaccines are more dangerous than measles itself.

Here we are, at the end of a school year, with huge gatherings ahead: our end of year amusement park celebration, complete with 8th grade certificates, and the high school graduation. Both of these events will include families who claim either religious or personal exemption from vaccines. How do I know that? Never mind.

And then I heard that baby boomers might be at risk because our vaccines were the early ones, the immunizations that weren’t fully effective yet. Add to that: I’d been taking a medication that both upset my stomach and weakened my immune system. If I encounter measles, it could be bad. If I need the vaccine, I may have to wait.

My doctor’s office came through this time. They ordered a measles titer to see if I had immunity or not. The results were positive: I do have immunity to measles. My vaccine, however early in development, apparently worked.

I can check this worry off my list.

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The Year Without a Canning Season

It started with kitchen construction. It ended with a brain aneurysm treatment. It makes sense; I didn’t can very much last summer. I’m still a little bummed.

With a major kitchen remodel in progress, I got up by 7:00 every morning even after school let out in June. I moved both vehicles out of the driveway so the carpenters could pull in. Then I would start my coffee, watch the morning news, and all the rest. I didn’t make jams or jellies because I didn’t have a stove in June and July. One result: rhubarb takes up much too much space in the freezer this year. I must find a way to use it up. Maybe in May. But anyway, no stove? No canning in early summer.

Later on I went under – not under the knife, but under a catheter. Part I: cerebral angiogram to determine the size of the aneurysm. The nurse wore Crocs with the Swedish Chef on them. How awesome is that? But I digress.

You can guess what followed – an overnight in the hospital after a three hour surgery to line the aneurysm so it will not get bigger. I had this done on a Thursday, and then headed off to school meetings the following Monday. And yes, I was tired.

But back to canning. In between the two events, I managed to can a batch of sweet bread and butter pickles and a batch of kinda-meh dill pickles. I put up one batch of tomato sauce – only one batch, and it shows. We opened a jar of store-bought tomato sauce last night. I used commercially canned tomatoes last time I made chili. All the homemade ketchup, the last jar of enchilada sauce – it’s all gone.

I’m a little sad looking at all the empty spots on the shelves that usually overflow with the goodies from the garden and the farmers’ market. Next June, I’m going to start canning like crazy. Canning like crazy and loving it, too!

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