Sunday, June 30, 2013

52 in 2013 - #23 Theme of the Week: Wildlife

It was early-May when a mama bird began building this nest at the top of a brick column on our front porch. What a mess she has made! I'm glad that the eggs have finally hatched, and I am looking forward to the chicks leaving the nest, so we can clean up our front porch again. But it has been fun seeing the mama bird's attention to her babies, and witnessing the start of new life. I don't know how many are in the nest. It's very high. I've seen four heads at one time, but there may be more.

Wendell and Sheila

Wednesday was a busy day for us. Friends from Albuquerque, Wendell and Sheila, came through Temple to see us, while on their month-long motorcycle trip to South Carolina. We had lunch together, spent time at our house catching up on each other's recent news, and went to Bible study together that evening. It was great to be with them again.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Showers, Shavers and Sheets

Taking a shower is getting easier, but at first was a little scary. The effort took a lot out of me, and I'd get light headed and shaky. Call me silly; call it a "girl" thing; but it was really bothering me that I couldn't safely shave my legs. I just knew I'd end up with nicks and cuts all over, using a blade in the shower.

On Sunday evening Dan came home from church and handed me a package, and said, "Happy Father's Day." Inside was an electric shaver - the perfect solution to this awkward situation! I was so surprised. He's always been a little coy about "girl stuff," so I knew that nothing but true love would have compelled him to make a purchase like this. Turns out he asked my good friend, Wynn, to go with him and help with the purchase. She loved being able to help out, and enjoyed teasing me the next day, with a text message, "Are your legs beautiful and unhairy?"

I'll always smile when I think of this quirky gift from Dan. But all humor aside, I never could have gotten through these two weeks without him. He's been proving his "in sickness and in health" vows in living color.

He fixes our meals and washes the dishes every day. Thursday morning he stripped the bed and washed the sheets, then remade the bed before evening. He taxis me to appointments and to the pharmacy, when needed. When I want to shower he sets up my shower bench, then sits outside the bathroom door while I shower, just in case I should slip or should need help. He cheers me on through difficult PT sessions, and heaps praise on me for my progress. Today he went grocery shopping and bought me an gift card so I could keep my Kindle supplied with good reads.

Since my surgery was in June, Dan got cheated out of both Father's Day and anniversary. Last Saturday was our 44th anniversary. I'll try to make it up to him when I'm back on my feet.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Two Weeks Post Op

Whew! These have been a couple of eventful weeks!

Right after surgery I was relieved at how bearable the pain was. I was already telling Dan that, when the time came, I'd have no hesitation about going for the second knee replacement. I didn't actually say it was "a piece of cake," but I may have been thinking it.

Well, that was while I was still in the hospital; while anesthesia was still dripping into my veins; before I was undergoing the demanding rigors of PT;  before I had to solve real-life problems at every turn. I still maintain that the pain level is bearable. But what makes it difficult is that there's no "time-out" button, which takes its toll.

My health care team has encouraged me to keep the pain under control, using the pain med prescription I have. At first I was trying to use as little as possible, but found out that was a mistake. Without pain I can properly do my therapy. When I'm in pain the therapy is less effective. They've made a believer out of me.

I have a wonderful physical therapist, named Chemaine, who is demanding, competent and compassionate. She has a great sense of humor, and I always feel better after her visit than before. She came four times the first week, and will come three times this week and three times next week. Then I'll be evaluated to determine how much more I'll need.

Chemaine tells me I am doing real well, and that she sees progress with each visit. We're working on range of motion. I don't have a lot of trouble with extension of the joint, but am struggling with flexing it. That's probably because I still have a lot of swelling. With effort I can flex to 90 degrees. I need to increase that quite a bit.

Sunday, which was Day 11 following surgery, Was a teaser day. The swelling was down a lot, and I was much more comfortable. Then came Monday, Day 12. I don't know why, but everything went backward. A lot of pain, lack of mobility. I was totally discouraged.

Thank goodness there is always a "tomorrow." Tuesday morning was a break-through day. Since then I've been feeling good and making good progress.

Yesterday, Day 14, Dan drove me to the clinic, where I had my staples removed. I had been a little nervous about that procedure. I even watched several YouTube videos of staple removals, so I'd have an idea of what to expect. I had 24 staples, and it really was a breeze getting them out. There were three or four that stung a little bit, but the others were easy-peasy. How nice it is to have them out. The nurse put some steri-strips over the scar, which need to stay there until Friday, June 28.

I'm still using my walker. Chemaine has been having me practice with a Cain, but I'm still not stable enough to get rid of the walker. Maybe next week. My goal is to go to worship on Sunday. I don't think I'll attempt class, as one hour sitting with my knee bent will probably be my limit.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Hospital Stay

Tuesday morning started very early. Dan got up first.and got ready for the day, then I took my turn in the bathroom, taking the final of my three prescribed antibacterial soap showers. We were at the hospital by 5:45 a.m., and they took us immediately to a room where I donned my stylish hospital gown and had an IV line started with saline solution.

An hour or so later I kissed Dan goodbye and took the ride to the operating room, which felt exactly like a walk-in freezer. Thankfully, I don't remember much about being cold, because very quickly the anesthesiologist began adding some of his magic fluid to my IV. I remember him asking if I was okay, and I started to answer that it was a little tingly . . .


As if no time had passed, someone was tapping my shoulder and saying, " Mrs. Judd. Wake up. Your surgery is all over." It hadn't been like sleeping, because when I sleep and then wake I have a sense of time having passed. Not with this, though. I really couldn't believe the surgery was over.

They moved me to my room. I don't remember if Dan was already there or if he came up after me In fact I don't remember anything about those first couple of hours. I need to ask Dan if I was loopy enough to be saying crazy things. Or maybe I don't want to know.

What surprised me was that at noon they brought me a full meal. No ice chips or clear liquids, no chicken soup or jello . . . regular food. I had requested a low carb diet, because of my diabetes, but their "low carb" was nothing like my "low carb." That first meal was a piece of breaded chicken with gravy, roasted potatoes, green beans, a biscuit, jello - regular, not sugar free, salad and apple juice. The rest of the meals, throughout my stay, we're similarly "carby," but I didn't worry about it. I had very little appetite, so just worked on getting something in my stomach and didn't worry about my blood glucose. Lots of time to get back on that train once I'm back home.

The next morning I was supposed to begin therapy. But when they got me up and walked me to the door of my room, my blood pressure plummeted and I nearly passed out. They took me back to bed, joking that  some people will do anything to get out of physical therapy. But they came back later and I did much better. That tine I was encouraged to try to walk (with my walker, of course) to and from the gym, but I only made it part way each direction. The exercises were really painful, and I wondered if I'd ever be able to do them well.

Thursday morning I was feeling much better. I walked to and from the gym and did all of my exercises like a pro! Same in the afternoon. The doctor told me that morning that I could go home if therapy went well, but after another very low blood pressure episode (69/46), we all decided one more night in the hospital would be wise. My therapy session on Friday was really good, and afterward I got to take a shower, which was delightful.

Highlights of my stay included visits from numerous friends and a Skype visit with the grand kids. I hope my disheveled appearance and drug-induced dopiness didn't scare them! Hearing them chatter on certainly picked up my spirits.

The medical staff was amazing! The nurses and aides couldn't have been more caring, attentive and professional. The housekeeping staff and those bringing in my food were cheerful and friendly. And, of course, the doctors, who literally held my life in their hands, were terrific.

Dan drove me home on Friday, and we'd hardly gotten home before two friends from church, Janet and Linda, were at our door with a delicious dinner of roast pork, sweet potatoes, green beans, salad and fresh fruit cups.

Yesterday the home health care therapist came to work with me. I think a therapist will come every day for a week, then every other day for a couple more weeks. I'm doing real well today, feeling somewhat independent, strong and encouraged, and also grateful as can be for Dan's care and attention. Without him here I couldn't have come home, and home is exactly where I want to be right now.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Wonderful Weekend

Friday, the day after Joint Camp, I went to the hospital clinic for my pre-op appointments. Everything went very smoothly, and I was cleared for the surgery. There was still no pre-authorization from my insurance company, although they had sent the hospital a financial report of what would be covered. (Seems a little backward, doesn't it - no authorization, but here's what we'll cover? But that's how it was.) I was amazed and grateful to hear that the insurance would cover nearly all of the costs, and leave us without a big financial burden.

Friday evening Chris, Kelsey and the children arrived in time for dinner. It was such a blessing to have them here, especially at this time. It made the weekend fly by in a flurry of activity, and kept my mind off of the coming hospital experience.

I had freshened up the toy box a bit, adding a few new things for them to discover, which only took about five minutes for Robert. He spent most of the weekend playing with a new set of Hot Wheels, while Clara styled Barbie's hair and colored Hello Kitty pictures.

After dinner on Friday we sat outside on the back patio while the kids and their Daddy ran around in the yard squirting each other with water. The laughing, squealing and hollering were the most noise our neighbors had ever heard coming from our backyard. And to my ears it was music.

On Sunday we went to Bible classes and worship. The children were both so good, and that prompted compliment after compliment on how well behaved and precious our grandchildren were. Grandma and Grandpa were very proud of them.

We ate lunch out at a Mexican restaurant, then came home for naps. By 4:00 parents and kids, alike, were rested, and they piled into the car for the trip home.

Sunday evening, after worship, my friend Wynn handed me a piece of paper with a list of ladies who have offered to bring dinner to our home for a week, beginning Friday (my anticipated first day home). I was touched and overwhelmed. Once again I marveled at how blessed Dan and I are to have, both, a loving physical family and spiritual one.

This morning I received a call from Scott & White, informing me that my insurance authorization had finally been received. No more hurdles! Tomorrow morning I am supposed to check into the hospital at 6:00 a.m., and surgery is tentatively scheduled for 7:30 a.m. I've surprised myself at how calm I've been . . . no worries. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if the adrenaline kicks in, and I find it a little difficult to sleep tonight. Many of you who read my blog have sent me emails saying you'll be praying for me. You don't know how much that means to me! Thank you.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

52 in 2013 - #22 Theme of the Week: Quiet

Chris, Kelsey and the children were here this weekend. What a treat for us! 

The only time Robert is QUIET is when he's asleep. Isn't he precious?

(Photo softened and desaturated in Photoshop)