Wednesday, May 25, 2016

That was a nice little break

I can't quite believe it's been a month since I've updated the blog. Neither of you have missed it, or at least you haven't said you have. How about if I promise not to write about hip replacement surgery any more?

Today's my birthday. The big 65. I'm officially geriatric, although I don't feel like it. Even with a hip replacement, I don't feel old, or even oldER.

Time does, however, march on, and aging is certainly better than dying, at least when you feel good and are relatively healthy.

Google remembered my birthday with a special Google Doodle:
Starbucks has loaded a free drink onto my app and Ruby Tuesday's has a burger waiting for me. I could have gotten $5 off a pair of DSW shoes, but I don't need shoes.

That's one thing about getting oldER: My wants are way less important than my needs.

One thing I wanted, however, was for this birthday to be special. To be noted. My husband and children really don't make a big deal out of birthdays, but I made sure they all knew that this one was different. And they came through.

My children are taking me to see Bob Dylan in Nashville next month. Each time I see him in concert I think it may be the last time, since we're both getting up there in years (he's been geriatric for 10 years!). It's amazing that he's still touring and producing new music. I'm thrilled that I'll be seeing him with both my daughter and my son and his wife, and that I'll get to spend the weekend with all of them and their children. We seldom have the opportunity to all get together at the same time and place.

My husband offered me either a big party or a new computer. No question on that one … my old laptop has been slowly dying for about six months. I don't have the new one completely set up yet, but they've been talking to each other. A few more file transfers and the old model will be used for storing music and photos. He made this birthday very special.

My month-long blog break wasn't intentional. I'll be updating a little more often going forward. Because, you know, when you're old you have a lot of wisdom to impart. And a lot more time on your hands.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The battle begins

In earnest. And it's two battles, really.

The ongoing battle with my weight is one I'm losing right now. I'd rather report that I'm losing weight, but in two months the loss is negligible.

I'm tired of paleo, but I know that carbs are killing me. As I'm now moving more (I averaged 11,000 steps per day last week), I hope the increased activity will help boost my metabolism. I naturally want to eat lighter when the weather warms up, so I'll work on taking advantage of that – fruit salad instead of pie, right? Heh. The goal is the proverbial move more, eat less, and I'm adding to that to eat less often. If I'm not hungry in the morning, why eat breakfast?

I'd like to think I'm winning the battle with the weeds. The asparagus bed is almost cleaned out, and asparagus is on the menu almost daily. I'm going to put some in omelets tonight. The peony bed is looking good – weeds are mostly gone and the old, dead lavender plants have been replaced by creeping sedum, which is a natural mulch that spreads itself every year. That's my kind of mulch.

I put cardboard down between the asparagus plants and brought a couple loads of mulch from a big pile we have on the side of the field we like to call our "back yard." That pile has been decaying for a couple of years now, and is perfect for weed-suppressing duty. Except for two things.

One of the best garden tool investments
I've ever made. This thing really gets a workout!
As I was working on filling up my large rolling bucket, I thought I was running into the blackberry brambles that have grown up there. (Volunteer blackberries is Thing One.)

When I actually looked to see what was sticking my ankles, I saw Thing Two: ants. Crazy, biting, red ants. Thousands of them. The entire mulch pile is teeming with them. (So gross.) I decided, after two loads of mulch, that it probably isn't the best idea to introduce ants into our living space: The asparagus bed is on the south side of our garage, and only a few feet from our house.

I'm still going to use it – it's a yuge pile, and perfect for spreading around the base of several trees, far away from the house. I'll be wearing tall muck boots, instead of sneakers, to fill the bucket however.

For the asparagus and flower beds, however, I'm heading to town later for bagged mulch. And hoping that having a ready supply will encourage me to keep working on the flower beds.

I have to pace myself (stamina still isn't where I'd like it to be), and I also have to believe that even as little as an hour of weeding a day will eventually result in garden beds worth looking at.

Thank you for your recent kind comments … I appreciate them, and you!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Just in time for spring …

The busy-ness of my life is beginning to wind down, finally. The Big Event is over and was a Big Success – well attended and we made a little more money than we'd hoped for. That's always nice.

I've started spending some of the funds on newspaper advertising. My ads are mostly words with an evocative image. I tried boosting one on Facebook and it was, at first, approved, but then was disapproved because it exceeds Facebook's no-more-than-20-percent-type rule.

For Facebook marketers who are selling concepts or ideas, rather than products, the 20-percent rule is quite limiting. I haven't figured out any way to get around it, other than to reduce the size of the type to "insignificant." Which kind of makes a concept ad irrelevant.

At any rate, since these are newspaper ads and newspapers love type, I'll just share them on our Facebook page and ask for people to share them. It will save us money until I can figure out how to make an image look like the concept "Vote for Democrats." Heh.
We will be going to a funeral tomorrow, a sad day for us and for our small town, but a blessing, as well. Our friend had been ill for a long, long time, and was not going to get better.

I continue to walk as much as possible, and to do the physical therapy exercises, although not daily, as I'd planned to. I'm not a disciplined person. Being required to show up for an appointment was great motivation. Having to report to the therapist that I had or had not done the exercises on my non-appointment days also was motivating. Being completely responsible for my own recovery? Not so motivating at all.

And with that … I think I'll go do my exercises. And then take a walk. And then finish weeding the asparagus bed. And then do a load of laundry while I vacuum and mop my floors. That will take me up to late afternoon, I'm sure. And it will be time to get ready for the visitation at the funeral home. Two long days, coming right up.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Back to normal!

It's been 12 weeks today since my hip surgery, and I'm doing just about whatever I want to do. Except running, of course, which is forever prohibited. The physical therapy sessions were very beneficial, and I am again glad my doctor didn't push me into them right away. 

Certain movements are restricted immediately post-surgery – bending, crossing your legs, putting all your weight on the operated limb – and my therapy would have had to respect those limits. Waiting until the restrictions were lifted gave the therapists more leeway to push me a little harder.

At any rate, I'm now able to put my socks on, tie my shoes, enter and exit the car, bend, stretch, stoop, you name it and I can do it without discomfort. Pretty cool, huh? I still tire easily, and that was an issue this weekend.

The other back-to-normal thing is my life. Our county Democratic Executive Committee, of which I am a member, hosted a banquet honoring a retiring state senator this past Saturday, and banquets don't just happen out of thin air, like they do in Disney cartoons. A great deal of planning and preparation went into it. And a great deal of walking and standing ensued. I didn't even eat dinner.

BUT: It was quite the success, both in attendance and in replenishing our treasury so we can do some voter outreach efforts. We learned a lot from the experience – we've never hosted this kind of affair before – and we'll definitely be doing it again.

Just not soon. Heh.

Yesterday my husband and I went to a book reading, which was accompanied by music (lovely, soul-filled music) and followed by a reception at the home of the organizers. The book – Voices from the Appalachian Coalfields – was researched 25 years ago by a man who became ill before he could finish it. His wife eventually completed the project. It's an artistic and educational masterpiece.

And a pretty long day.

Winter returned last week, and I finally had the opportunity to walk on the treadmill instead of outdoors. My fastest outdoor pace – if you want to call it that – is about a 24-minute mile. I can do three miles in an hour on the treadmill, and knock off an episode of House of Cards while I'm at it. I still like outdoor walking better, but I'll gladly hit the machine when the weather doesn't cooperate.

So that's about it from the Middle of Nowhere. Thanks for hanging in there with me for the surgery saga. I probably won't mention it much going forward. We have a primary coming up, and then an important general election. I'll bet you just can't wait to hear what I have to say about that! Heh.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Another post-surgical first

I know you're probably reallyreallyreally bored with all this hip surgery nonsense, and I apologize. I'm writing it here so I have a record of it, and documenting it in case anyone stumbles across it who is facing the same procedure. I didn't think about looking for others' personal experiences until after I'd been released from the hospital. Maybe my ramblings will help someone else.

At any rate – whether you're bored or not – I took a trip this weekend! I haven't seen my younger granddaughter since Halloween. She and her parents were having scheduling troubles finding time to head to our place, so I decided just to go for it and went to North Carolina.

Just keep waiting, just keep waiting.
Quite an impressive cloud bank, yes?
It's about a five-hour trip for me, not counting time parked on the interstate waiting for accidents to clear (one on the way down Friday and two coming home yesterday). I'm not a fast driver. My son has made it to my house in four hours.

The only problem I had was getting out of the car after driving for a couple of hours. I was definitely stiff and felt like I needed a little support before I could walk comfortably. But no pain.

[The big win was not spending a penny while I was in the state of North Carolina (to protest passage of HB2). I'm sure the taxes collected on my customary trip to Trader Joe's won't make an iota of difference in the state budget, but it's the principal of the thing. I rarely need to spend money when I visit family there, but I was a little concerned about whether I'd have to refuel before I hit the Virginia state line on the way home.

There's a gas station at the last exit in Virginia before entering North Carolina, and I filled up Friday on my way down. I had about three gallons in the tank when I got back there Sunday. #winning]

I did my physical therapy exercises Friday before I left and Saturday while I was there, and managed to get 10,000 steps Friday and 9,000 Saturday. Was very tired yesterday when I got home, and skipped the exercises, but took a short walk for a total of about 5,000 steps.

Food was a disaster. Let's not even go there, mkay? Other than it's time for a reset.

I'll end with a "Go 'Nova" for the NCAA championship game, and a "Play ball!" for MLB Opening Day. Because it's time to move on from all-surgery, all-the-time.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I shall be have been released

I've been sprung!

No more trips to the hospital for PT … I thought tomorrow would be my last session, but we all agreed that I've made great progress and am motivated to continue on my own at home. So yay for that.


Yesterday was quite the active day. An three-mile outdoor walk in the morning (still s o o o   s l o o o o w), physical therapy (including 15 minutes on the exercise bike) in the afternoon followed by several errands. I don't mind telling you I was pretty tired and sore by the time dinner was done.

But the FitBit logged more than 5 miles, almost 14,000 steps and 40 flights of stairs (thank you, WV mountains!). Quite an impressive day. And I really don't feel too awfully bad this morning.

So now, if it is to be, it's up to me. Clean up the food. Continue the walking. Increase mobility and strength and stamina with targeted exercises.

Onward.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Physical therapy is AWESOME

Except for the part where I'm stiff and sore at the end of the day.

Like yesterday. But I know I wouldn't have made the progress I've made this last month or so without PT. I'm really glad the doctor offered to order it, and I'm even glad he waited until all post-surgery restrictions were lifted. I've definitely been able to do more than if I'd had to be careful about bending or twisting my operated leg.

I finally found my ankle weights. I'd been doing my exercises with a hand weight slipped over my ankle, but it wasn't very secure, while the real ankle weight definitely is.

I'm up to about 20 exercises daily now, and it takes a long time to get through them. Like close to an hour. I also walked for almost an hour yesterday and then kind of collapsed the rest of the day.

Doesn't that sound wimpy?

Even if it does, I'm getting better at listening to my body and trying to rest when I need to. I get up very early, so by mid-afternoon I've depleted my energy reserves. Glad I don't have to work outside my home.

I'm going out of town this weekend, so only two therapy sessions at the hospital this week – one today, and the other one Thursday – and I suspect Thursday will be my final session. My surgeon wrote an order for 12 sessions. Thursday will be the eighth, but I'm now doing everything I said I wanted to do.

I have no trouble at all getting in and out of the car or a chair, and I've put my socks on without the assistance device for three days in a row now. I have every intention of continuing the exercises at home, as I've been doing since I started PT, and I'm trying to add a little extra time/mileage to my daily walks.

I don't think there's anything else I could be doing. I need to be patient with the lack of stamina. That will return in its own good time, I suspect.

But seriously? I can't wait! Heh.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Here we are, nine weeks later

So physical therapy continues to be good, and I'm making real progress. My therapist bumped me up a pound on the ankle weight, from two to three, last Friday.

Progress stopped for a day. Heh. Seriously, you wouldn't think one measly pound would kick my surgically altered arse so badly, but I took Saturday off. Completely. No walking and NO exercises.

Sunday I did them without any weight, and didn't have any trouble at all.

Yesterday we dropped back down to the two-pound weight, and added a 10-minute warm-up session on the bike before we did anything else. That helped a lot, and I got through all the moves without too much discomfort.

One of the exercises uses a resistance band, and they're color-coded from easiest to ouch. I started at green. Since they were out of blue, they gave me two greens to use together.

Each time I've gone they've added something else, and yesterday I got to march in place. My husband informed me Richard Nixon worked out in the Oval Office by marching in place, so I guess I'm presidential. SNORT.

The good thing about marching is it makes me raise my knee, and the good thing about raising my knee is it increases flexibility in the operated leg, and the good thing about increasing flexibility is … I can put my socks on!

With difficulty and effort, but hey … PROGRESS!

This week I'm going to increase my steps per day into the 8000-range. I'm pretty consistent on the weekdays, but drop down to only a couple thousand on Saturdays and Sundays, so an additional goal will be to make sure I get 8000 steps every day, not just during the "work" week.

So that's it for this week's post-surgery report. I feel just as positive this week about PT as I did last. It's been helpful and motivating and just what I needed to really feel like I'm recovering my strength and mobility.

Still working on stamina.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Finally … physical therapy

Another post-surgery update. It's been 8.5 weeks now, and I continue to make progress. Slower, now, than earlier in the process, but I occasionally surprise myself by doing something I couldn't do a week or two ago.

Most folks begin physical therapy much sooner after surgery than I have. I think it's routinely prescribed to knee patients, but not so much for hips. When I went in for my last appointment (a week ago Tuesday) with my surgeon, he asked how I was doing.

I'll be very happy when I don't need this any more!
How I'm doing, then and still, is pretty darned good. But I have a slight limp, especially when I'm tired, and I still need to use one of those sock-putter-onner-helpy-things. I'm doing better getting in and out of the car, but still need to steady myself when I stand up after sitting in a chair for a while.

He thought some physical therapy might be helpful to strengthen the muscles in the operated leg, and prescribed a dozen sessions. I've been to two this week.

It's a little early to notice any difference in my ability to do things. I certainly do notice muscle soreness, sometimes as soon as the same night as an appointment. I'm also doing the exercises at home on the days I don't go to the hospital for a session.

I gotta tell you … I love physical therapy appointments. It's like having a personal coach, but my insurance is paying for it! Heh. It's motivating me to try a little harder, stretch a little further, do things I wasn't sure I could do.

I've been assured I'm not going to do any damage (unless I run – NO RUNNING!). I've been released from all post-surgical precautions. So all that's left is to work on strength, mobility, and stamina.

Stamina is probably the hardest, because you can't really work on it. It just … comes. In its own good time. And for me, that's not soon enough. But I have a feeling that one of these days I'm going to look at my sadly neglected perennial beds and think, "I need to get out there and clean those up."

Instead of, like Scarlett, saying, "I'll think about that … tomorrow."

Friday, March 11, 2016

Feeling the burn

Spring has sprung here in southern West Virginia, and as my mobility increases following my hip surgery, all I wanna do is have some fun be outside.

My energy level and stamina are still an issue, and will be for a while – or so I've been told – so I'm giving myself permission to do as much as I'm comfortable doing and then collapse at the end of the day.

Yesterday, for example, temperatures were in the upper 70s. A slight breeze was blowing. My husband and I walked together for about a half-mile, and I suggested we keep going. We ended up walking 2.5 miles outdoors – the farthest I've gone on foot in more than seven weeks.

I was definitely feeling the burn when I got back home. None of the household chores I'd planned to do got done. We had the simplest of dinners – green beans, ham, onions and potatoes, which some paleo purists would disqualify, but it was better than chicken pot pie, which we still have in the freezer. I rested. A lot.

With the additional steps I took throughout the day (and a couple laps up and down the driveway), I hit the FitBit 10,000-step goal after dinner. First time since last fall.

My final surgeon's appointment was this past Tuesday. Because of a couple lingering issues, he ordered some physical therapy sessions, which will begin Monday. I'm looking forward to working on strengthening and stretching and resuming all normal activities – including putting socks and shoes on without assistance!

Today … I'm a little stiff and sore. I'm not sure if I'll take a day off or if I'll use the treadmill, which I've been cleared to do. Or if I'll hit the road again, before the rain settles in.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Returning to normal

And … returning to paleo.

Not walking regularly, after many years of daily activity, has resulted in yet another unacceptable weight gain. I knew it would happen, I was prepared for it. I'm not happy about it, not at all. But at least I know how to handle it.

I wasn't willing to handle it as long as I was either

  1. in pain, or
  2. recovering from surgery.

Since I'm not experiencing neither of those, it's time.

I started last Monday. I'm not doing a Whole 30, but am following the no dairy/grains/sugar/legumes protocol. I'm going to take a day off every couple of weeks.

I have not followed through with light weight training, as I said I would. My at-home physical therapy plan also has fallen by the wayside. I go back to the surgeon for my final appointment on Tuesday, and I'm not looking forward to confessing that I'm not doing my knee raises, adductions, and backward extensions. They just seem unnecessary at this point.

Range of motion is not 100 percent, but it's getting there. I still have difficulty bending over while sitting (to tie my right shoe, for instance).

I also still run out of steam by the end of an active day. It seems to work best to alternate days when I take it easy with days when I walk outside, go shopping, or do some other extended activity. I'm certain that will improve with time.

And with weather. It's pretty darned easy to declare a rest day when it's cold/snowy/rainy outdoors. Spring is on the way. We're going to see temperatures in the 70s next week.

It'll be pretty darned hard to stay indoors on my ass when the sun is shining and it's warm outside.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A tiny setback

It was a dark and stormy Wednesday this week, with lots of wind. Sometimes lots of wind means loss of electricity, and Wednesday was one of those days.

I had something to return in Princeton (about a 45-minute drive), and rather than sit in a cold-and-getting-colder house all afternoon waiting for the return of lights, heat, and water, the husband and I headed for Lowe's with the wrong-sized drip pans for our electric cooktop.

Note to self: Make sure you write down the brand of cooktop the next time you buy drip pans.

Lowe's is a big place, and we didn't know when our electric problem at home would be resolved, so we crawled through the aisles a couple of times in order to get some walking in. Walking is still my preferred activity, but I'm trying to remember to do the knee raises, adductions, and backward extensions. True confession: I've not started using dumbbells. Yet.

There's just so much plumbing and lighting one can look at, and we got bored pretty quickly. We called a neighbor, learned electricity at home had been restored, and headed out on the return trip.

We had to fix the garage door when we got home so it would go up and down at the push of a button again. I had to climb a ladder to adjust the mechanism. I DIDN'T FALL. That wasn't the setback.

When I got back to the car to move it into the garage, I completely forgot about how I was supposed to get into the seat. (You have to move the seat all the way back, approach the seat butt-first, sit down carefully, and then swing your legs carefully into the car.)

I acted like a normal person. Think about how you get behind the wheel. You probably don't ever think about it. I put my right (operated) leg in and onto the floor and then sat down on the seat. 

IN EXCRUCIATING PAIN.

I apparently strained the thigh muscle(s) of my right leg. My hip is fine. I didn't pop the joint out of the socket. No pain at all other than in the thigh, above the knee. But wow, did it ever hurt.

I briefly considered using the cane again. But eventually decided just to rest and use a heating pad. It helped some. I followed that same course yesterday and by last night I was almost walking without a limp.

I will do some walking today (indoors; it's freezing and horrible outside), but probably not much more than yesterday (which was considerably less than I've been doing). 

And I will be very, very careful getting in and out of the car from now on.