Monday, April 28, 2008

Back At It!

So it is back to work, after a not-very-restful weekend.
I am still scooting around the halls on my knee walker, though
I can take a few steps while making lunch, or going to the
restroom. I am counting down the days until these *!#$%&!* pins
come out. If all goes well, I am 1 week and 2 days from pins out
day!

A day or two after that, I can probably take my first soak in
the tub. My body is so out of whack, every muscle in it hurts.
That first bath will be right next to heaven. I wonder if my
vision of heaven is a hot bath. (Well it is right now...)
I'll proceed to bigger and better things, after that is achieved.

The dog looked pretty good this morning. Alert, eating, and as
annoying and obnoxious as ever. It is good to have him back for
whatever little time is left. Be happy, my dog.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The dog made it...

The dog survived. They got him rehydrated, stabalized, and his
heart rate down at about 11 pm last night. We went and got him
today, and he is sleeping peacefully at home. The little creep
enjoyed his "outing". He loves going to the vet. He loves going
anywhere. We call him "adventure dog".

So this little bout cost me $666. I am telling people that Satan
saved my puppy. Of course since the major problem was colitis and
dehydration that aggravated his heart, I can say Satan is in my
dog's butt.

He is on antibiotics, in addition to his $200 a month pile
of heart medicine. We are supposed to take him back to our
vet next week, and maybe get a heart echo cardiogram on him
again. Why do my pets always have insanely expensive medical
problems in their later life?

I had a cat who cost me $1800 and then dropped dead 2 weeks
later. It is unclear how long the dog will last, but he is
still happy, alert, and interested in life. I just won't give
up on them, until they are really suffering, or ready to go.
I wish death was a lot quicker and easier for everyone.

Besides he gives me hope since I'm having lots of medical
problems. But watching him, he just keeps going, long after he
should have, in spite of all the medical problems. Maybe I will
be able to do the same.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

vs. the grind of not surviving?

Whoa! And things just got a little tougher. Cay had to go work on
the filming of the local T.V. show he is part of: "Drinking with Ian",
last night. He set food up for me, and put everything where I could
reach it, and went off before I got home from work.

When I got there, there were trails of diarrhea through the house.
The old dog was sick. For the next 4 hours I cleaned up dog body
fluids and had to let him out nearly every 5 minutes. Oh yeah, and
I'm supposed to stay off of the foot I just had surgery on. My
foot started to hurt something awful, and I just couldn't keep going.

I called Cay away from his filming. He stayed up the rest of the
night, taking care of the dog. The poor dog has an enlarged heart
and is on 4 kinds of medicine, and he didn't sleep either. He
had to go out every few minutes into the rain and snow. This
went on for 16 hours. He was looking pretty awful.

We got him cleaned up a bit this morning and the poor thing slept
a little. Then he started refusing food, I hadn't seen him drink,
and he started shaking all over. I felt his heart, and it was
really fast and irregular, and I was pretty sure he was dehydrated.
We took him too the emergency vet at 4 pm. He is still there,
and now they want to keep him overnight.

They are rehydrating him, but his heart rate is so elevated, if
they don't get it down, he'll only last a couple of days. They
want to use a beta blocker, but say that is pretty dangerous too.
It might slow things down too far, and put him into congestive
heart failure. So now we wait.

I knew he wasn't going to last a lot longer, but he's been with
us for over 14 years. The intrepid dog that traveled all over the
country with us, lived with us in 3 different houses, and always
kept going, through eye surgery, 2 knee surgeries, and a heart
problem for the last year and a half. He seems so indestructible.
It is hard to face that he is not.

I think he's had a pretty good run, and a very comfortable life,
I just want him to go easy, without pain and suffering. And then
it gets you thinking about death, in general, and how darned sad
and unfair it is.

Life is too goddamned short.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The grind of surviving

Every other day was pretty hard this week. I had one good day,
and the rest were exhausting. I get really tired at work, and
then come home and lay there, spent for 2 hours. Then I recover
a little, do something for an hour, then the difficulty of
getting washed up without getting my foot wet, and off to bed.
I just didn't expect this surgery to take so much out of me.

At work it is all I can do to keep going, keep moving. Trundling
around on my knee cart is a surprising amount of work! I was
happy to get my stitches out, now it is 2 more weeks of this
until the doctor will consider taking the pins out. I so can't
wait! It is still unclear If I'll be able to walk right away,
after the pins are out, or if there is more limited mobility.

There is nothing else to report, just getting by takes up all
my time and energy. Pretty basic stuff.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

As predicted...

I slept really hard, and everything seems to have healed up
and got stronger. As predicted, the exhausting moving about
yesterday did make me better. I was much stronger today. I
got about easier on the knee walker thing, I could feel my
muscles working as scooted through the halls. I didn't get
tired until about 1 pm, then recovered and made it through
the rest of the day.

I was tired when I got home, but not half dead, like yesterday.
I am a little encouraged. This is 2 weeks after the surgery,
and I hit a turning point for the good. Tomorrow I get my
stitches out. Another milestone. Then it is the 2 to 4 week
stretch after that until the pins come out. When that happens,
I can drive again!

I've been commuting almost every day with my friend Sharon,
who I work with. That turns out to be fun, we've always liked
to talk, and we can get a lot more of it in this way. With
gas at $3.45 a gallon, we are even talking about car pooling
even after I can drive again.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Phoenix my a**

I had an especially tough day, and I remembered why I named
this blog "Phoenix". It seems I am always rising from the
ashes, just to crash and burn again. I repeat many things in
my life, over and over.

This healing up from foot surgery is so much like 4 years
ago, when I had surgery on the same foot. Or just the long
climb to feeling better, is like the last 4 surgeries, or
recoveries from so many illnesses.

But I keep climbing out of the hole, returning to health and
a more normal life, only to fall back in. If I'm good at
anything, it is "recovering". What an annoying skill to have.

Today I used the knee walker at work. It was the first time
I've really been up and about, and it was exhausting! By
noon, I wanted to go home and sleep. I made it to 5:30,
just barely, and went home early. I spent the next 2 hours
sacked out on the couch, unable to move. I miss the electric
wheelchair!

But this will make me stronger, and get some strength and
muscle mass back on me. As always, what is "good" for you,
is not the same as what is fun....

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Progress, of a sort

I turned in my wheelchair, and rented a knee walker thing.
It is like the roll-a-bout, but those are the premium model.
This one I got from my orthopedic center, and it definitely
a cheaper model. The pads are a lot thinner, it is much less
comfortable on the leg, and it doesn't fold flat.
How annoying. I hope I don't need it for the whole month
until my pins come out.

I am using the crutches around the house, and can even take
a few shuffling steps without them, (in my padded post-op shoe)
if my hands are full. However the crutches keep aggravating my
arm, which got sore from using them. The tiredness is also still
there, so I'm taking it super easy this weekend, hoping that
next week will be easier.

I'm reading super technical documents for work, interspersed
with raising Pokemon on my DS game system. It strikes a nice
balance in my boredom from limited mobility. It isn't worth
much, but my Starly and my Piplip can sure kick butt.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Totally Beat.

Totally. 3 days back at work, and I'm really sagging. I was getting
frustrated, and had to remind myself that I'm only 9 days out of
surgery. It is o.k. to feel like crap.

I was making such good headway on diet and exercise before the
operation, that I'm feeling overwhelmed about having to make that
uphill climb again. To say nothing about most of the weight I just
lost coming back quickly.

To combat it a little, I'm giving up the powered chair, and getting
a roll-a-bout. This will get me up and moving around a lot more.
I pushed back the strict diet to next week. I seem to need the
food for healing, right now.

Some days I have a good, hopeful attitude about all the trials
I've had to overcome. Other days, I'm just really, really tired.
This is one of those.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Not at 100%

Work went o.k., and the powered wheelchair was a big hit. I had to
fight of people who wanted to take it for a spin. I left it there
charging up - I expect it will get some illicit use before I get in.
It came in really handy to go zipping down some long straightways.
(and it picked up some real steam!)

The only problem was the big heavy doors to the bathrooms and the
labs. Darned hard to negotiate. My foot does feel much better today
for having had the rest of not using it much at all today.

I wasn't back up to full strength, however. At about 4 pm. I
started sagging, and by 5 pm, I had nothing left. Healing, even
a small area of your body takes a lot out of you. I also was
very hungry. I tried to get back to some semblance of the diet,
but no go. My body demanded to be fed, or it would come to
a complete halt.

Hopefully tomorrow will find me stronger.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Party is Over...

Well, I wouldn't call my week at home, a party, but it is back
to work tomorrow. I can't get far on my crutches, and it was
too late to send for a knee walker or roll-a-bout, and I should
have. Those hallways at work are really long! So I sent
Cay down to the rental place nearby, to see what they had.
He came home with a compact powered wheelchair, because he
thought it was fun. It was! We drove it around the sidewalks
and driveway and had a grand time.

I will use it for the next week or so, when I need to get
to a meeting on the other side of the building, until my
stitches and bones heal up a little more. They are still
pretty tentative, as I found out this morning when the
60 pound dog flopped over onto my foot - hitting all 3 pins
and all the stitches. Yow!

It will be 70 degrees tomorrow, and I am sorry to have to
stay inside. Maybe I'll take the chair out for a joy ride.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Better Late Than....

Whew! I finally posted the next Unfomfortable Questions show!
That one was a long time coming.... It is an interesting
conversation with a career military man, not a world view I
know anything about. But he was quite nice and had some
interesting insights on war, military and governments.
For something a little different, get it at:
www.uncomfortable-questions.com.

Today I am keeping my butt planted, and trying to stay off of my
feet. I don't think I did any damage to it yesterday, but won't
know until my next x-ray. Ugh. This is boring.

So I'll watch the snow melt (it is pretty much gone!) and look
forward to temperatures in the 60's next week! Is it finally
spring? No more teasing?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fretful healing?

I was browsing the web, and found the x-ray I posted below. It
looks just like what I saw in the doctor's office when he put
my x-ray up yesterday. You can see the 3 pins in the toes.
Kinda cool. Much better than the surgery pictures I found of the
arthrodesis process!

Everyone is off somewhere today, and I think I overused the foot.
One of the pins seems to have turned a little, and I was worried
I had ruined the bond of the bone. If it isn't touching, it can't
fuse. I still don't know, but it doesn't hurt or anything. I go
back to the doctor on Wednesday. I hope it is o.k.

Otherwise I sat by the fire (yes it was snowing a little more)
and played Pokeman Pearl on my DS. I it was a lot of fun,
and I became very fond of my team of creatures. I don't
want to "catch them all"! I just want to work on the 6 I can
carry. I'm already fretting about the ones I had to put in
storage.

I finished the first pass on editing the next show, and will
try to get it posted sometime tomorrow. Life really got in the
way of this show.

This is exactly what my x-ray looks like - Cooooooool!

Friday, April 11, 2008

That's enough excitement for today!

I actually went out of the house today (to my 1st post-op
appointment). There is about an inch of ice and slush everywhere,
so I had to put a plastic bag around my foot to protect the bandages.
(I felt like a kid again - when was the last time I put a plastic
bag on my foot, before sliding it into a leaky boot?)

By the time I got to the waiting room on my crutches, I was already
tired. I haven't been off the couch (except to go up and down
the stairs) for 3 days. I wonder if I can sneak in some weight-
lifting? I don't wanna be this tired...)

I was doing well until the nurse pulled the bloody dressings
off of my foot. They were stuck to the stitches. Yow!!!! I was
rather lightheaded from the pain for awhile. I saw the x-rays,
and I could see all 3 pins (and how far they went in! Those will
be fun coming out...)

But the doctor and the nurse both said how good it all looked.
No infections, healing already, the bone fuse sites are really,
tight (can't see even a seam). I have clearance to go back to
work on Tuesday, as long as I stay off the foot, and elevate it
as much as I can.

But considering how much that little trip took out of me, I'm
going to need another 3 days to heal, and get stronger.

I think I'll curl up by the fire, for the rest of the day. It is
33 degrees out, and raining and snowing. It is cold, wet, gray, and
no fun at all!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Waiting for the handyman, or someone like him...

Recovery goes well. Still not much pain, which is being handled by
some higher doses of Ibuprophen. I'm getting around a little better
on the crutches. I suppose you get stronger as you use them, out of
necessity.

I called into work for a 2 hour presentation, I just cant leave work
alone, and enjoy my enforced rest. I wish I could go back, but just
saw a report that it may snow 1/2 foot over the next 2 days. Then
I try to imagine myself cleaning off my car, on crutches, and I
am glad I don't have to go in. Oh yeah, and I'm not allowed to
drive until the pins come out. I keep forgetting that part....

I do have my first post-op appointment on Friday morning, so I'll
still get to experience crutches in the snow. But Cay will be there
to help me, and drop me off at the door.

I'm still trying to figure out bathing. I can't find my shower bag
that goes over a cast. I'm thinking a plastic lawn chair in the tub,
and a garbage bag taped around the foot bandages might work.
Everyday, simple actions become challenging. Keeps one humble,
or something.

Otherwise, I'm waiting for the handyman to show up. He is fixing
a bunch of sheetrock in our basement that got water damaged from
various things over the years. We are painting and putting a new
floor in, and when it is done, it will look pretty spiffy!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Post-surgical, not-so-crabby musings...

I am resting comfortably on my couch, after the surgery.
I was pretty stressed out when I got there, especially after noticing
this morning that a 3rd toe was also starting to curl under, and I
wondered if the doctor would have time to fuse all three of them.
I didn't want to have to go through the healing process again!

Got to the surgery center at 9 am, the doctor agreed to do throw in
the third toe, and I was whisked into the surgery room. I was only
supposed to be under light sedation, but I don't remember a thing.
They told me afterwards that the chair was hurting my back, and I
was wiggling all over, so they really amped up the sedation.

I was out of there by 12:30pm. They couldn't figure out what to do
about pain meds, since I can't keep them down. So they just put in
an extra long block, and I'll just take Ibuprophen when that wears
off. The doctor thinks that will be enough to handle the pain. He'd
better be right! I hate pain. None so far.....

So now my foot is all bandaged, so I can't see the pins sticking out
of the toes. They stay in for 4-6 weeks until the bones fuse.
I have a surgical shoe that I can walk in, a little bit, but I still
have to use crutches. I'm inventing interesting ways to get up and
down the stairs, to go to the bathroom. I love my house, but
someday, I want a bathroom on the 1st floor! (I suppose it is at
least a form of exercise.)

Anyways, the deed is done, and now it is the road to recovery. It is
a relief to have it behind me, and to see how fast I can heal, and get
back on my feet - (literally!).

Monday, April 07, 2008

Pre-surgical crabby musings

Bah! Foot surgery tomorrow morning. Kinda makes you not want to
get out of bed. This is really stressing me out. I know it will
be fine, but I've just been tense about it for 3 days.

They should give you a couple of days worth of mild tranquilizers
before any surgery. There is no way not to worry about it,
a little. There is nothing fun about surgery.

It hurts, it messes up your life while you recover, you can't
do most of the things you want to do.

On the good news side, I'm down 7 1/2 pounds on this new diet.
And I still think 1150 calories is a feast :)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Some Success!

The diet is going VERY well. I haven't successfully lost weight
in ages, just by dieting. I'm down 6 pounds in 4 days! I adjusted
The Rotation diet to 850 calories for 3 days, 1150 for 4 days,
and then I'll do a week at about 1400.

Hunger was a battle those first 3 days, but today was like a
treat. I was probably closer to 1200 calories. But I'm pleased
that there was any reaction by my body - it has become amazingly
weight-loss resistant. It was a big challenge to make it work,
as I'm diabetic on top of it all. I had to test my blood quite
a bit, and make decisions on when to eat, and if I should take
the next pill, or even exercise, without dropping my levels too
low. I hope this continues to work for me, I think I could stick
with this for awhile.

I am fretting more this weekend than I have before any other
surgery. I don't know why this one is bothering me so much.
Maybe I'm just tired of surgery, and the pain it brings that
can't be controlled by the narcotic family of pain killers. I
just throw them up, and end up taking most of the operation pain
straight. It is all very exhausting.

Well, it happens Tuesday, so it will be done with soon.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Spring, Jello, and Doctors

I had the pre-op today. I had a new doctor, and he startled me
a couple of times. The EKG showed a right bundle bunch blockage.
"Is that bad?" "Well, it is probably benign, but I wonder if any
of the other EKG's showed that." He listened to my heart. "Do
you know you have a heart murmur?" "Nooooo. Is that bad?" "Not
necessarly". So I have double benign heart weirdnesses? Why
hasn't anyone mentioned it before? Is it new?

And the surgery center did their call with final preparations and
final time schedule. Now I just need to enjoy the last 4 days
before life gets difficult again. So, of course, I started a form
of the Rotation Diet today.

I couldn't get the calories down to 600, nor was I sure I wanted
to. So I went for 900 instead, and achieved it rather easily.
I used many tricks I've learned over the years. Fiber tablets,
pectin, V8 tomato juice, sugar free jello, pickles. Things that
have very low calories, but make you think you are full. So far,
so good, but then day 1 is always easy when motivation is high.

Day 2, not so much. Your body suddenly notices the food flow
has been interrupted, and it usually has a temper tantrum.
Here's to tomorrow!

Now that the medical thing is under control, I have to get my
head together and edit the next show. I'm aiming to finish that
this weekend. The next interview may have to wait until I recover.

On the plus side, it was 58 degrees today, and the snow is nearly
all gone! It finally feels like spring.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Surgery Surprise Sandwich

It seems it is time for my (seemingly) yearly surgery.
I knew this one was coming, but I wasn't prepared for it being
this coming Tuesday!

Went to see the doc today, for what I thought would be a
cortisone shot for my plantar facitiis. However, yesterday in
a meeting I got a very sharp pain in my arch, and then a releasing
feeling - and the agonizing pain in my foot was nearly gone.

I walked around the halls without pain for the first time in
months. I was pretty sure something gave way in my foot, and
I was sure hoping I didn't need it for anything.

The doc examined it, and he thinks I got a free "self-surgery".
The tendon running on the bottom of my foot (the one that was
so painfully inflamed) probably got a small tear in it, but it
was enough to relieve the pressure. He thinks it will heal up
and be fine.

But since that was fine, we started discussing the toe surgery
again and it turns out he had an opening on Tuesday, and wanted
to go ahead with it. (I had been thinking that maybe in a couple
of months, I would do it.....) So with a few calls, I was set.
I go in for pre-op tomorrow.

This will make my life annoying for a couple of months. They are
fusing the joints in 2 toes, and putting pins in them that stick
out the end while the bones fuse. I'll be able to walk with
crutches, and can put some weight on it - BUT I can't drive
while the pins are in (4-6 weeks!) And I'll be out of work for
1 week.

Between Cay and my friend Sharon, it all got worked out, and I
have rides to and from work for those weeks I can't drive.
With luck, this will fix all the current problems in my foot,
and I can get back to walking. I'm even allowing myself a little
hope that I'll be able to travel overseas again....

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Today - waiting for my cherry tree to bloom

After all the snow had melted, this morning I was greeted by
the lovely vista of 6 inches of wet snow outside. This is not
my beautiful April!

A year ago I was drinking under the cherry trees in full bloom
in Japan. This year? Here is a picture of my cherry tree.
Not the same...