Monday, December 22, 2014

Christ within us; the meaning of Christmas

This was copied from another blog, "Spiritual Sundays"; it is listed on the right sidebar.


by Albert W. Beaven
The real Christmas experience for anyone is the turning on of the light within, which comes from the spirit of the indwelling Christ. It is still his incoming that makes the difference between a darkened inn and a glorious stable.

Before we go on with our Christmas preparation, let us ask ourselves whether the real Christmas has come to us, whether what we are going through is just a form, a bartering of gifts, a forced holiday, or whether we have a real experience that makes Christmas a joy and not a bore. Christ taken in and then given out, that makes it a genuine Christmas for us and for others; for "God shined in our hearts" that the light might be passed on.

All about us are those who wait for our coming: lonely people, discouraged people, heart-sick people with little love and joy. Christmas opens our eyes and challenges us to let our light shine outside our own little circle and give cheer where it is needed most.

Friday, December 5, 2014



Woody was not included in my "eulogy" post about Spite.
Spite had already reached his senior years when Woody joined our family in 2011. He was a fuzzy kitten who had been apparently abandoned in our yard. Spite was curious and polite from the first. I don't remember that he ever growled or hissed at Woody.

Treat time!

Woody, however, even as young as he was (four months, according to the vet's estimate), was determined to establish himself as the dominant cat. I put two bowls of cat food down, and whichever one Spite was eating from was the very one that Woody would decide was his! Spite often would graciously concede and move to the other bowl; sometimes he would leave, deciding he had eaten enough.

Beginning to eat

Woody, being young and still kittenish, wanted to play, but Spite wasn't interested. Sometimes Woody got rough. He grew fast and soon was larger and stronger than Spite, and Spite was a little afraid of him, I think. He began spending more time outside, where Woody wouldn't go (he is really a scaredy-cat in many ways). As Woody matured, the two cats became companionable, but never close friends. That's why I didn't include Woody in my last post.

Uneasy peace

Not only did Woody grow larger, he also grew "fluffier" - first his tail. Suddenly, almost overnight, it began looking like a bottle brush! I said to him, "Woody! Where did you get that tail!?" It looked like a squirrel's tail! He has tufts of hair on the tips of his ears and between his toes, and a fluffy "mane" around his cheeks. His back is smooth and soft, and his belly is fluffy. I looked up "Maine Coon cat" on Wikipedia, and he fits the physical description to a T. I'm sure he must be part Maine Coon, though; if he were full blooded he wouldn't have been a stray in our back yard. Someone would have been looking for him with a hefty reward, and no one was. There were no signs, no ads, and no notices at the vet's office.

Woody is a sweet cat, but very shy. He hides when anyone comes to visit, and he won't go out, except right around the back patio when we are outside with him. He'll sit in our laps in the evening when we are watching TV or reading. In the morning after breakfast he nearly always enjoys "coffee time" with my husband, sitting in his lap while he has his second cup.

Coffee time with Woody

We have been worried about him this week. He hasn't eaten since Saturday noon. I don't think it's grief over Spite's passing, and I don't think it's from being left alone for a day and two half days over Thanksgiving. He did eat while we were gone. I took him to the vet yesterday. I think it's a hairball; he tried to cough it up twice without success. She (the vet) thinks it gastritis or pancreatitis and gave him a shot for nausea and some pills to relax his digestive tract. So far he's still not eating; I'll have to take him back to the vet.

UPDATE Sunday, Dec. 7 - Woody started eating a little bit Saturday. I'm glad he's starting slowly, to give his system time to adjust. He still seems to be feeling all right, relaxed, affectionate, and purring.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Spite the cat is gone

Double Exposure
Spite and Crystal in Daphne

Spite when he was young and healthy
Spite when he was young and healthy

He'd been losing weight since last spring, went periods when he wouldn't eat and we kept him going all summer, sometimes with smoked pork from a barbeque restaurant and Swanson's reduced salt chicken broth. When he did eat, which was more days than not, he was eating prescription high-calorie cat food, as he had lost 2/3 of his weight.

He had been diagnosed with a heart murmur and diseased kidneys, but he kept on going and seemed to enjoy life, taking regular walks around the yard, basking in the sunshine and even catching an occasional chipmunk!
Until yesterday, November 20. He tried to walk, but his hind feet were dragging and he couldn't keep his balance. Even his front feet wanted to turn in. My husband told me about this while I was out running errands. When I came home, he tried to stand up and come to me, but couldn't. I gathered him up in my arms, and called the vet. While waiting for the scheduled time, I held him in my lap, and gave him another bowl of chicken broth. He drank what he wanted, then relaxed and would have slept, but it was time to take him.

He taught our grandchildren not to be afraid of cats by being his patient, sweet self. They stopped screaming and running to their mother when they saw him, and even were eventually able to pet him, cautiously.

Our son got him, probably in 1999, as a kitten. He was with a colony of feral cats that lived in the alley behind his workplace. Our son's co-worker fed them, and later took the kittens to a shelter. She persuaded our son to adopt the black male, even though he lived in a "no pets" apartment (thus the name "Spite").

We kept Spite off and on, when John went out of town or if he knew the landlady's son was coming by for a repair job. John was keeping him inside, so we did, too. Our other cats went outside (three of them then, Frosty, Shadow, and Crystal). Spite looked out the window longingly. He tolerated my attention and petting, but didn't enjoy it. When the other cats came in, he would go to them, greeting them with friendly chirps. But they spit and hissed at him - very rude!

When our son went to Belgium in 2000 to earn his Master's degree at Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, we took Spite, and told John we were going to let him go outside. Spite loved the outdoors, and didn't mind going out in any kind of weather, cold or rainy, even snow. Our other male cat, Frosty, didn't want to go out in the rain or the cold; he shook his foot, but he had to go out when Spite did, so he wouldn't be thought a sissy! (The girls, Shadow and Crystal, didn't care; they stayed inside where it was warm and cozy.)

He grew to be a big cat, weighing 14-15 pounds without being fat. He could jump great heights: to the top of the china cabinet and the tall bookcases! He would look down at us, seeming very pleased with himself, and got down as easily as he had gotten up.

We moved from Birmingham to Daphne in 2003, to a bigger yard next to a cemetery with a pond and an occasional flock of Canada geese and other birds. (Shadow had already left us, and Frosty couldn't tolerate the tranquilizer prescribed by the vet to help him endure the long auto ride, so we arrived with Spite and Crystal.) Spite spent many long, happy hours outside exploring, as well as inside. He made friends with the neighbor's cat, and helped her eliminate the rats in their storage building. He also made friends with our human friends, and was always very sociable.

Spite seemed to tolerate the move to Montgomery in 2013, but developed a bad habit of "thinking outside the box," the litter box specifically. That made us very unhappy, as we had purchased new carpets, so he moved to the sunroom, with a private door to the outside. That was his only bad habit; he was a very sweet, affectionate, and sociable cat. He will be greatly missed by us. This spring we may plant a hydrangea shrub at his final resting place.

Spite's last day
Good-bye, Spite. Missing you

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Praise report

No prescription pain pill (hydrocodone) since Thursday night! Three days ago! I had one in my purse to take at or about 8:00 Friday morning (had to get up early to take granddaughter to school), and I forgot. Never thought about it all day, and remembered it that night.
"Hey!" I thought, "I forgot my pill this morning, and I'm not hurting. I won't take one tonight and see how I am in the morning."

Saturday morning, I was fine, and have been fine since. I'm only taking 2 Aleve tablets once a day now.

Doing drugs
(The hydrocodone are not in this picture; I keep (kept) them separately.)

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Yesterday I graduated from Physical Therapy! No diploma, not even a "report card" (that will be faxed to my surgeon), but a few hugs and promises to tell everyone I know about Premier Physical Therapy in Montgomery, Alabama. They are super!

My final "score" was 107 on the flexion and 3 on the extension. I can't sit on my heels, but I haven't done that in years, decades actually. I have function for everything I want to do, my daily living and activities. I will continue to exercise at home. Today I walked about a quarter mile in our neighborhood.

Yesterday was a busy day. After therapy, I got my hair cut and took food and visited with two ladies from church. They are sisters; one has had cancer surgery and the other has moved in to take care of her. They are sweet ladies and have always been friendly to us, since we started coming to that church shortly after we moved.

Then, we helped our son and daughter-in-law by one of us (me) staying with the children while the other (my husband) brought them home from the auto shop where they got oil changed and other services. They didn't want to go out to supper with us, so went to Chick Fil-A all by ourselves. ;-) Today, we reversed; Tommy stayed with the children and I took son and d-i-l to the auto place to pick up the car. We then took a trunkful of clothes that are now too big for me (Yay!) to Goodwill. I bought a book by Maeve Binchy there, and we ate lunch at Jim 'n Nick's Barbeque - a pulled pork sandwich for him and Brunswick stew for me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Second knee surgery update

I saw the surgeon last Friday, Oct. 17, for a follow-up visit. He was very pleased with my progress: my extension (straightening) is perfect(!) and my flexion (bending) is 95. He said I could quit therapy if I want to, or keep going for more improvement. I said I want to keep going to try to get a little more bending, so he wrote me down for 3 more weeks. I will see him again in mid-December for a final check-up.

I went to therapy today (Tuesday) instead of Monday, as we kept the grandchildren, and we're having our chimney repaired, so Tommy wanted to be at home with the chimney work while I stayed with the grandchildren. The older one was at school, and I took the baby and the 3 year old for a walk several blocks down their neighborhood. The weather was very pleasant. We saw a worm, and granddaughter was very proud of herself because she didn't "freak out." She was leery of it, and stayed as close to me as possible.

So, I went to therapy today and will go again tomorrow, then Friday. Today I got to 100 with flexion!! Woo hoo!! I've been working on it at home, bending as much as possible and holding it to a count of 10 or 15 even while I am sitting apparently doing nothing, and bending at the fireplace, with my foot on the raised hearth (when the men are not here working), and still doing my heel slides.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Second, and last, knee surgery, God willing

I don't have any more knees, but I suppose something could happen that would result in a need for another surgery. I hope not!

Therapy dog in hospital
While I was in the hospital, I was visited by a Therapy Dog, Dodi, a sweet, gentle girl.

This time was different. Upon discharge from the hospital, after 3 days, I entered a rehabilitation facility, Rehab Select at Hillview Terrace. Hillview Terrace is a long term care/skilled nursing/nursing home facility. It was basically clean and comfortable, not a resort hotel by any means, but adequate. The food was okay, but my appetite was low, so I didn't want much. We had eggs and grits for breakfast every day, and I soon learned I could ask for cold cereal, which I did. Raisin bran every morning, with black coffee, skim milk and orange juice. Lunch and dinner were usually meat, green veggie, and a carb, plus a roll or cornbread and dessert. Sometimes that was fruit, sometimes pudding or cake, pie, or cookies. I learned not to drink coffee with supper, even though it was served at 5:00 in the evening. It would still keep me awake. Maybe my body is changing. I usually chose skim milk or water, and fruit juices and iced tea were also available.
Bed at rehab center
A good meal, pork chop, sweet potato, and turnip greens

My room was a double room. I had a total of 3 roommates, one at a time. The first one stayed overnight. She begged her family to come get her first thing in the morning, complaining about how "dirty" it was. She either had higher standards or better eyesight than I did; in any case it was clean enough that I didn't get sick.
My second roommate and I became friends almost immediately; we were like kindred spirits; we liked and disliked many of the same things and really enjoyed one another's company! She was discharged about a week before I was, but before she left she paid for me to have a shampoo at the center's beauty shop! What a nice treat, and the hairdresser did a good job, too!
My new friend

My third roommate complained a lot, and her emotions went up and down - high and giggly one minute, then angry at the world the next. It got a little tiring, but she was ok, and didn't watch much TV, which is good. She did (and does) have serious health problems. I feel sorry for her, and hope she will be ok.

In summary, I would recommend researching all possible sites for post-op therapy before committing. I wish I had done that. My first choice was HealthSouth, which was recommended by my outpatient therapist, but I did not meet the qualifications for Medicare to cover my going there. I don't know what the qualifications were. By the time I learned that, I didn't have much time to choose one, so I picked the one closest to our home. If I had it to do over again, I would have planned ahead and visited all the facilities in town and asked people about their experiences.

I think a rehab facility should be supportive of the patient's therapy in all respects, including timing of meals and quietness of halls at night. I had 2 hours of therapy each morning. One hour was Occupational Therapy, which included exercises to strengthen my upper body and arms, and my stamina for standing several minutes, and later, my ability to fold, hang, and put away clothes and to load and unload an upper kitchen cabinet and a dishwasher, and to make a bed. The 2nd hour was Physical Therapy, the exercises I had done before: walking with a walker, leg raises, ankle pumps, glute and quad muscle training, heel slides, and riding a little, low-to-the ground bicycle - just the foot pedals, not bending my knees much at all. This was not actually very demanding, and I later wished that I had been pushed harder.

In the afternoons, I was supposed to have 4 hours on the CPM machine (Continuous Passive Motion), which bent and straightened my knee as I lay on my bed. In actuality, the therapist usually came up to start me on it at 2:00, and supper was served at 5:00. The attendant turned off my machine and helped me off it, then served my supper in bed. We took all our meals in our rooms, either sitting in a chair or in bed. That gave me only 3 hours on the CPM machine.

At night, especially the first few nights, the halls were extremely noisy, and much of it could have been eliminated, I think. The workers talked loudly and called out to one another, slammed doors, and sounded like they were running races with the carts. One of the residents, I think she was a long-term care patient and not a therapy patient, called out often during the day and night, calling for someone to help her. That couldn't be helped; the poor lady was not in her right mind (but couldn't they house long-term care patients separately from therapy patients?) I complained about the noise to my therapist and to the nurses on the hall, and I think it got better, but maybe I just became accustomed to it. We did keep our door closed, and I played soft music on my phone, thanks to Pandora Radio and the facility's free Wifi. My last roommate was on an oxygen machine, which also made a "white noise."

I had an appointment with my surgeon a week and a day after my arrival at Rehab Select. He thought I was making good progress, and I have another appointment for October 17. While away from "jail", I had a shampoo at my beauty salon, and enjoyed a nice lunch with my husband at Chicken Salad Chick, so it was like a "date afternoon!"
Day off, lunch out!
(I don't know these ladies; they were across from us.)

On Wednesday of the next week, I was told by my P.T. that my last therapy would be the next day, Thursday, and I would be discharged Friday. When Thursday came, my O.T. said, "You're going home today!" I said I thought it was tomorrow, and she checked with Admissions, and it was that day! So I called my husband, and he came for me shortly after lunch! I'm so glad to be home again!
Physical therapist
My Physical Therapist
Mobility Paraphenalia

I had had a bad time on Tues night/Wed morning. I hadn't had a bm in 3 or 4 days, and they gave me a laxative. I was up several times Tues night, in the bathroom, and Wed morning my tummy was really upset, unpleasantly so. I was reluctant to leave my room for therapy, and both O.T. and P.T. came to work with me in my room, for which I was very grateful. I was better by afternoon. I wished they had given me prunes and/or Activia yogurt!

Once home, I started out using my walker all the time and sleeping in the recliner, then gradually moved to the bed, and now am using my cane when away from home, to reassure my balance and also to warn others that I am slower than they are. At home, I am not using the cane and only minimally touching a wall or piece of furniture, and trying hard not to limp but to walk as normally as possible and to bend my knees while walking! (Thinking of the old TV show Gunsmoke's Chester).

I am going to outpatient therapy at Premier Physical Therapy, as I did with the left knee. They are busier now; business must be good for them. Many more patients, and a couple of new therapists; I'm happy for them. This past Wednesday I rode the bicycle backwards and was very proud; I remember how long it took me to achieve that with my left knee - well not exactly how long it took, but that it took a long time! And Friday, yesterday, I rode it forwards!! Woo hoo!!
I'm having more trouble with extension (straightening) this time. Last time I don't remember having any problem with that, only with flexion (bending). That's not what it needs to be yet, either, but they say I am making progress. If they've measured it, they haven't told me what it is, though. I'm sure I will find out before I see the surgeon next week.

Exercise buddy
My exercise buddy! (but sometimes he gets too playful and I have to shoo him out)

I am faithfully doing my exercises at home, too (in fact, it's time to do them again ...) I do six 4-5 times a day: 1) Quad sets, sitting with my legs straight out in front of me and tightening the thigh muscles, holding for a count of ten, 20 times; 2) Ankle pumps, moving my feet up and down or around in circles for 3 minutes; 3) hamstring stretch, lying down with my leg straight up, held with a bathrobe sash around the arch of my foot, for a count of 30, 3 times; 4) heel slides, while lying down, moving my heel up toward my buttocks, thus raising my knee, holding it with the bathrobe sash behind my knee and stretching it for a second or two, for 4 minutes; 5) hamstring stretch, sitting up with leg straight in front of me, leaning forward to touch my toes, thus stretching the back of leg muscles; and 6) the dreaded "passive extension", or "hanging" - with my heels on a folded pillow or rolled up towel, laying there in pain for 10 minutes -- SO glad when that timer goes off! I pass the time with Facebook and Solitaire on my phone, but it still hurts. I had a little pity party on Facebook about it, but prayed about it and am really trying to have a better attitude with Scripture verses such as Philippians 4:13 and Hebrews 12:11, which deals with spiritual discipline, but I have applied it to the physical discipline or correction of my knee and leg, which wants to be bent slightly and not to be "right" or "straight." (Derecho in Spanish means both "right" and "straight.") I am hoping that it will be straight soon, and I can stop doing that last one!
Passive Extension
Me doing Passive Extension, or "hanging" -- not as comfortable as it looks!

(Blog post about first knee surgery here )

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I'm having knee surgery on my other knee, since the first one is doing so well. After a few days in hospital, I will move to a rehab center, as husband has been having horrible back pain the last 6 weeks or so and won't be able to take care of me at home like he did last time. I hope he'll be up to taking care of himself and the cats while I'm gone.

I won't have my computer, so no updates until I'm home again.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rededication Service

After the Christmas Day, 2012 tornado that tore up part of midtown Mobile, Alabama, including Murphy High School and Trinity Episcopal Chruch, I posted a picture of a ruined church building with a large sign declaring "We Will Be Back!"
click here

Last Sunday, nineteen months after the storm, the congregation returned to their sanctuary! It was a wonderful service of thanksgiving and celebration, with prayers, hymns, a baptism and Holy Communion.

Trinity Episcopal Church, Mobile Alabama

Trinity Episcopal Church, Mobile Alabama

Friday, August 1, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Second knee surgery, and ailing cat

I've scheduled my second knee replacement surgery in September. That way, I should be through with physical therapy by the first of the year (not knowing what to expect from US health care changes).

Our elderly cat, at least 15 years old, has lost about 2/3 of his weight, has kidney disease and a heart murmur. He's eating high calorie "critical care" canned cat food, takes a pill for the heart  murmur, and still enjoys walking around in the yard and lying in the sunshine and shade. We won't have him much longer, but I hope he can enjoy life as long as possible. We'll know when it's time.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A small but significant update on my knee surgery

I am completely off narcotic pain medication! I haven't had a pain pill since Sunday, except Aleve, and I've been feeling fine! Even my right knee, which still needs surgery, hasn't been hurting.

When I saw the surgeon in mid April, I was only taking two 7.5 Hydrocodone pills a day, and he took me down to 5.0 with the intent of that being my last prescription. The 5.0s didn't touch the pain, and I had some 7.5s left, so I took them, working myself down to one a day. Then I woke up Monday morning, not hurting, so I didn't take any pain pills, not even OTC (over the counter, non prescription). I do need the Aleve, though.

I haven't needed to use my cane either.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fiftieth anniversary high school reunion!

This past weekend was my 50th anniversary high school reunion, and there were a lot of us attending. A few, I remembered immediately, but for most the name tags were necessary. Many I didn't remember at all; it was a large class and I didn't know many of them when I was there. Some people I didn't remember remembered me. I just smiled and went on. It was fun, and I saw some old friends I hadn't seen since graduation.

We drove down to our former home in Daphne on Thursday, ate lunch at Market By the Bay, one of our favorite seafood restaurants. Very casual, Styrofoam plates and plastic forks. That afternoon we played Joker, a board game with cards and marbles, with a group of friends.
Friday evening was the Reunion "Pre-party" at Wintzell's Oyster Bar downtown. They had a room reserved for us with a seafood buffet, and it filled up quickly. We were all talking and laughing so much that it was hard to hear each other over the din! Outside on the patio it was quieter, but fewer people. Funny how that works, isn't it!

Gathering at WintzellsAn old friend
The lady in the green shirt is an old friend from kindergarten days; our mothers walked us to kindergarten at a church, and we were in carpool together in elementary and junior high school. We walked to high school, but not together. She lives in Florida now and I never see her. This was her first H.S. reunion.

Saturday morning we met at the school for a tour of the campus and a delicious lunch prepared by the students of the Culinary Department, barbeque pulled pork or chicken salad sandwiches, lime cilantro slaw, pasta salad, iced tea, and cake for dessert. It is really a pretty school, Spanish Colonial style architecture. I didn't realize how pretty it was until I had left! It was hit by a strong tornado on Christmas Day, 2012 which caused major damage. Much has been restored and it is estimated that the work will be finished in 2-4 years. Students returned to the campus for the fall semester that year.,_Alabama)
Murphy High School, 2014
Arts Building, Murphy High School
The cheerleaders led us in a pep rally in the cafeteria, which is much lighter and brighter and cleaner than I remember it.
Cheerleaders performed for us
Lunch prepared by school culinary students
On the tour we saw impressive murals in the library which we had not known of. They were painted during the Depression of the 1930s by an artist of the Federal Art Project of the WPA (I don't remember the artist's name), and painted over some time later. They were discovered a few years ago and have been restored. They depict the history of printing.
Murals in library

Saturday evening was the big dinner and dance at the Battle House Hotel downtown, but I didn't get around to taking any pictures there.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Recovery and therapy following knee replacement surgery

Some of my friends who are considering having knee replacement surgery have expressed interest in my experiences, so I have decided to write about it and share my journey.

Monday, January 13-Thursday, Jan. 16
I don't remember surgery; I was out like a light! Even the days in the hospital are becoming a blur. My left leg was numb from a pain block. It worked very well! I also had a push button for self-regulated pain relief. I remember using it quite often the first afternoon after I recovered consciousness, but less after that.
I didn't eat much in the hospital; nothing was good. Just a few bites of each meal. Even after I came home, my appetite was very low, and my sweet tooth was gone! I took one bite of ice cream and pushed it away saying it was way too sweet! Totally unlike me, my sweet tooth is my downfall. However, I lost about 14 pounds, and since my appetite and sweet tooth have returned, I have managed to keep it off and even lose a bit more. I still have a long way to go, but I am making a start!
I did have one excellent caregiver; I don't remember what her title was (it used to be CRT I think, when my mother was in the nursing home, but they seem to have changed it. PC something, I think.) Anyway, she had a very pleasant personality, went out of her way to keep me clean and comfortable, and even suggested I use the hospital's free Wifi to listen to soothing music from Pandora on my phone! Everyone who came in my room, nurses, staff, visitors, wanted to stay because of the soothing music. :-)
Physical therapy in the hospital consisted of walking in the hall with a walker (without wheels). I made it past the nurses' station and to the elevator doors by the third day after surgery. I also began using the CPR machine, Continuous Passive Movement (description and explanation later).

I was dismissed to go home on Thursday, Jan. 16. I discovered that I couldn't get in my car, a 2009 Honda Accord! I did manage it with help after we moved the seat all the way back and lowered the seat back to a reclining position. After a week or two, I didn't need to recline it anymore and can get in and out without  help, but 6 weeks on I still need to move it all the way back. I have a temporary Handicapped tag to allow me to park in Handicapped spaces until mid April.

At home, January 16 - February 14
I haven't felt much like sitting at the computer; I can't get my leg comfortable, and I don't have a lot of free time in my day either. For the first couple of weeks or so, the strong pain medications were keeping me from hurting much at all. I was on Oxycodone when I first came home, then moved down to Hydrocodone 10 mg. On the 14th, he dropped me down to 5 mg, and I can really tell the difference. My right knee, which still needs surgery, is hurting, along with my right arm, from using it too hard on the cane and to push myself up from sitting probably. This is especially noticeable when it's almost time for the next pill.  
I do exercises in the morning and afternoon, and spend four hours a day on the Continuous Passive Movement machine, called CPM but I call it "the horse." Not because of my screen name, that was coincidental, but because I put my leg and foot in a stirrup-like device, and then the machine moves my leg up and down, backward and forward, bending and stretching. It's not bad in itself, but time consuming. Four hours a day on it! I break it up into three sessions: 1 1/2 hours in the morning; 1 1/2 hours in the afternoon, and one hour in the evening. It seems like every time I turn around I am facing more time on the "horse". I played endless games of solitaire on my phone, and even made the top 15% daily score a few times. That's wa-a-a-y too much solitaire! I finally got smart and checked out some audio books from the library.
(My favorite was a light-hearted piece by Debbie Macomber, "Summer on Blossom Street." It was read by the radio star, Delilah. I like to listen to Delilah on the radio occasionally, but didn't care for her reading. She put too much emotion, and sometimes inappropriate emotion for the context, in my opinion. I found that distracting.)
CPM machine, another view

Today (Feb. 14) they came and took the CPM machine back where it came from! Good riddance! I was very happy to see the last of it!

The Home Health care physical therapists were excellent, very patient, encouraging, and helpful. There were two of them, Cameron was the "head;" she gave me the exercises and increased the number of reps or added weights, etc. as needed. She usually came on Fridays to evaluate how I was doing. Amber was also very helpful, and had some creative ideas to help me gain flexibility. One of them, probably the most important one as far as my progress, was lunging forward with my left foot up on the fireplace hearth. That really helped me bend! I did that ten times, holding the position for a count of 20.

I did six other standing up exercises as well: "tippy-toe" - rising to my toes and then down 30 times; "deep knee bends" - as deep as I could anyway, and improved as time went on, 30 times; "marching in place" alternating legs, 30 times; "knee curls" - bending my left knee as much as possible while standing 30 times; "sideways stretch" - with knee straight, raising left leg sideway 30 times. (Some of the names of the exercises are from the instruction sheet they gave me and others are my own invention.)

Three sitting down exercises: "leg lifts" - alternate legs, raising 30 times, sort of a "marching in place while sitting down;" "straight leg lifts" - raising legs with knees straight, holding for a count of two, tightening my front thigh muscles while doing this 30 times. After 3 weeks, she added a two-pound ankle weight to my left leg with these two. Then the "knee bends" - while sitting, slide left foot toward me, to the floor under my seat, then use the right foot to pull it even more, as much as possible, 30 times.

Six "lying down" exercises on a bed:  "Ankle pumps" - move feet up and down 30 times, this can be done sitting or lying down, helps with blood circulation to prevent clots; "heel slides" - using a twisted bedsheet as a sort of "rope", looping it around the arch of my left foot, then pulling my leg toward my buttocks while lying on my back. Pulling as far as I could, 30 times; "windshield wiper" - lying on back, moving left leg out to the side and then back 30 times (later, she added a 2-lb. ankle weight); "short arc extensions" - with a tightly rolled towel under my left knee, raising my leg to a straight position and hold for 2 seconds. Do this 30 times. (2-lb. weight added later) "Hamstring stretch" - use the twisted bedsheet looped around the arch of my left foot, raise left leg straight up, as straight as possible, and hold for a count of 30. Do this three times. "Sideways windshield wiper" - lie on right side, lift left leg straight  up 30 times (later added the 2-lb. weight).

After four weeks, HHC discharged me, saying I had met all their goals! Whee, go me! Then, that afternoon I saw the surgeon for another post-op checkup; he said these were his minimal goals, and of course I know I need much more flexibility before I will feel "normal again.

Feb. 17, 2014
I had planned to go to the Physical Therapy unit that is a part of my surgeon's group and in the same building. I was told to see Lisa to set it up after my dr's appt. on the 14th. When I arrived, I was told that Lisa had gone for the day and I should call her after 8:00 Monday morning. I tried to call several times and got either a busy signal or voice mail. I left messages but they were not answered. We had some errands anyway, so we stopped by the dr's office to try to see her in person. She wasn't available, and the receptionist at the front desk told me that PT was all booked up until the middle of next week. So, I made an appointment, but I was very upset as the dr. wanted me to start PT right away.

My husband persuaded me to stop in at Premier Physical Therapy, where he had had PT for a pinched nerve in his shoulder last November. He liked them very much, but I didn't want to; I was in a bad mood and almost on the verge of tears. (I cry when I get mad - not very effective, and certainly frustrating for me, but I can't seem to help it.) I agreed finally, and they were very pleasant, said they certainly could take me, and had me fill out paperwork immediately. I still had the dr's orders for the other therapist, and Premier called for the referral. I didn't have to do anything else, and was given an appointment for the next day! 

 Feb. 18 - 26
The first day was mostly evaluation and answering questions, with a few exercises very similar to the ones I have been doing. The PT was very patient and gentle, not at all like my fears of "Physical Terrorists"! I had been imagining something like Marine boot camp!
He did give me exercises to do at home: Hamstring Stretch - sitting on a flat surface ( I use the bed, as I can't get down and up from the floor), stretch my left leg in front until I feel a "pull" in the back muscle, then reach with my hands toward my ankle and toes, hold for a count of 15. Do this five times per set. Short Arc Knee Extension - again with the rolled up towel under my knee, but do it ten times, holding for a count of five, then resting for a count of five. Heel Slides - This time, put a bathrobe sash under my knee and slide my left heel toward my buttocks without pulling until I've gone as far as I can, then pull gently until I slide a little more. Set a timer and do this for 2 seconds, working up to 4 seconds. Fortunately, I have a timer on my cell phone, which is nearly always with me. I am still doing some of the exercises the HHC therapists gave me, the standing ones particularly, mostly to get warmed up and flex my knee. I do each of these exercises five times a day, and the Short Arc Knee Extension six times daily. I made a chart to help me keep up with them, there happens to be a dry erase board in our purple guestroom. (It was the girls' bedroom when the previous owners lived here, and is now our granddaughters' play room.)
Exercise chart following knee surgery

At the facility I am seeing all three PTs; Jason is the manager and he decides what I need to do, and Lewis and John direct me in doing the exercises there. Mostly, I am on a sort of low padded table doing knee lifts, hamstring stretches, calf strengthening, heel slides, and short arc extensions. Today, the first thing I did was sitting in a chair machine that had a sort of lever that I was raise up and down with my left hand; it fit on my leg near the foot to push my knee to a full flexed position. After a few of these, he moved the bar to behind my leg, to raise it up to a straightened position then down again several times, then moved to the padded table.  After exercising, they measure the flex and the straight for range of motion, then ice me down with electrodes to stimulate my muscles around my knee. Very cold, and I'm glad when that's over! I was imagining the hot tomato soup I would have for lunch!

In summary
I have made a great deal of progress since the surgery, but I still have a long way to go. Then,will have to go through this all over again with my right knee! A few weeks ago, I wondered what I had done to myself and doubted that I wanted to do it again, but now I find that I have much less pain in my left knee and it's getting better and better. The pain in my right knee tells me that it was indeed worth it, and I will do it again. 


On May 22 I wrote: A small but significant update on my knee surgery
I am completely off narcotic pain medication! I haven't had a pain pill since Sunday, except Aleve, and I've been feeling fine! Even my right knee, which still needs surgery, hasn't been hurting.

When I saw the surgeon in mid April, I was only taking two 7.5 Hydrocodone pills a day, and he took me down to 5.0 with the intent of that being my last prescription. The 5.0s didn't touch the pain, and I had some 7.5s left, so I took them, working myself down to one a day. Then I woke up Monday morning, not hurting, so I didn't take any pain pills, not even OTC (over the counter, non prescription). I do need the Aleve, though.

I haven't needed to use my cane either.

On June 25 I wrote: I've scheduled my second knee replacement surgery in September. That way, I should be through with physical therapy by the first of the year (not knowing what to expect from US health care changes).

August 1: I saw the surgeon yesterday for the final post-op visit on my left knee surgery, and the pre-op visit for my right knee surgery. He was pleased with my progress and approves my decision to have the second one next month. It is scheduled for September 8. I will find out later what time, and I will pre-register on Sept. 4. I will stop taking my "baby" aspirin (low dose) on Aug. 31, and will not eat or drink anything after midnight Sept. 7.

Not really looking forward to surgery and recovery, but am looking forward to the outcome! Hoping I won't be an invalid for as long as I was following the first surgery. I have lost some weight, and still working on that, and I feel stronger in both legs.

September 3, 2014
Less than a week to go! I have decided to enter an inpatient rehab facility upon discharge from hospital. My husband has been having terrible back trouble the last six weeks or so, and it will be harder for him to care for me this time.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Where have I been? Recovering from knee surgery

I had my knee replacement surgery on Jan. 13. I haven't been here since then because it's not comfortable sitting in this chair. I'm making myself do it for a while every day.

I've been doing my exercises and am making progress, but the therapist would like to see more progress. I'm trying to push myself, esp. with the bending. Besides that, I'm on a CPM machine (I call it "the horse") four hours a day, 1 1/2 morning and afternoon, and one in the evening.

Friends from the church and neighborhood have brought us food, and hubby's very good at warming it up and combining things to make meals.

I'll check in again from time to time. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 in pictures

After the Christmas tornado
The aftermath of a devastating tornado in Mobile Alabama on Christmas Day, 2012. This was the church where my  husband and I were married. The high school from which we both graduated was hit, too, along with several homes and other businesses. Miraculously, no one was killed or seriously injured, praise God!

 The school re-opened this September; the students were housed in mobile classrooms at another high school campus in the city from January-May, 2013. The church is rebuilding; meanwhile the parishioners are meeting in the repaired Parish Hall. For a few months they met in the building of a sister church in the city. Most of the homes have been or are being repaired. Some had to be torn down. The businesses have been repaired.

Key West, Florida
We took a cruise from New Orleans to Key West and the Bahamas, along with about 30 of our friends from church. It was a wonderfully restful time!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
I didn't take many photos in March, just this one on St. Patrick's Day. We had begun house-hunting in preparation for a move to be closer to our children and grandchildren. This was taken in the driveway of our son's house.

Daddy's girls
Son and granddaughters, the reason for moving. We bought our new house in April, found it, liked it, made an offer, signed the papers and took possession!

A sea of boxes
Packing up our whole house, getting ready for the move

Living room with new rug
We moved in on June 1 and began furnishing our new home with pieces we already had, some items that had belonged to my mother, and a few we bought new or (mostly) from a flea market/antique store.

Brand new grandson!
Brand new baby grandson to join his sisters, ages 5 and 2!

Enjoying our pool with the family!

Jazz on the Grass
Attended a music fest on Labor Day, Jazz on the Grass

Morning sun (with "Joe the Fisherman")
A subtle (*very* subtle) change in the foliage

Cutting up at Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Dinner with our son and daughter-in-law. The son with the children spent the holiday with his wife's family.

Joy to the world!
Eldest granddaughter is in kindergarten now. This is her school Christmas pageant. (She's the angel on the left.). I'm so glad we live here where we can be a part of their growing up!

Birthday dinner
Another one for December, consider it Lagniappe! This was my birthday dinner with my husband. :-)