Thursday, December 31, 2015

The end …

of 2015.

I've contemplated ending the blog. I've been writing (less frequently, lately, but still writing) here or on Shrinking Knitter since January 10, 2006. TEN YEARS OF DRIVEL!

And if you click through to that very first blog post, I don't look a whole lot different now then I did then. So I guess it didn't help much at all over the long run.

During the last 10 years, though, I did manage to

  • lose a bunch of weight (and gain it back, as we serial dieters are wont to do), 
  • run three half-marathons, 
  • get married, 
  • bury my father,
  • more than triple the number of grandchildren I had when I started blogging, and 
  • celebrate my 25th year of sobriety.

Among other things.

My focus today, and for the coming year, will be on regaining my mobility and improving my health. My top post from this year was January 25, in which I was recovering from some kind of stomach bug. I mentioned that I hoped taking a rest day might mean no more right-hip pain.

I think that's called foreshadowing. Although it never occurred to me that the pain would land me in a surgical unit almost a year later.

I see the surgeon for the final pre-op appointment a week from today. Soon, it will be the end of pain and not walking and feeling more than a little bit sorry for myself. I really can't wait.

Apropos of nothing at all, other than
my friend Lynne surprised me with
an Eiffel Tower ornament yesterday,
and I want to show it off!
Thoughtful, meaningful, lovely.
One of the 2015 goals was to log, partnering with one other person, 2015 miles. We were able to exceed that number, but only because I was allowed to count every step recorded by the FitBit, and not just the intentional walking miles. My goal at the beginning of the year was to do 100 miles/month. I came up a wee bit short. If I get another mile today, I'll have averaged 99 miles/month.

I'd like to set that goal again for 2016, knowing that January and at least part of February will be busts. Since my surgeon assured me I'd be able to walk 100 miles a DAY if I wanted to, following the hip replacement, I think I can at least set the goal, knowing it will take a lot of work later in the year to make up for missed miles the first two months.

I've missed taking daily photographs, something I did when I walked, and so my friend Vickie and I started the Leap Year Photo Challenge. Jump in if you like! We have a blog and a Facebook page and the only real "rule" is to use the hashtag #leapyearphotochallenge when you post your photos.

The other goal – perpetual, never-ending, omnipresent – is to get to a healthy weight and STAY there. Regaining the ability to exercise without pain will certainly help.

Gingerzingi likes to say we're all our own science experiments. I've proven to myself that I need to move that body in order to maintain and lose weight. I have spent an awful lot of time the second half of this year resting, since lying down is really the only way I can be pain-free.

Soon enough, I'll be moving this body and logging miles and taking pictures. In the meantime … happy new year! What are your goals/intentions/resolutions for 2016? Other than to remember to write a 6 instead of a 5?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Three …

Three weeks from today I'll be prepping for the hip surgery. I have a few thoughts this week between holidays …

  • I'm grateful that what's wrong with me can be fixed. 
  • I'm grateful for a financial cushion which makes the expenses for this procedure possible.
  • I'm grateful for the Affordable Care Act. Although insurance companies are still making a profit from human illness (which I think is wrong), my expenses for this procedure are not out of reach.
  • I'm grateful for the ability – still – to clean my house, cook food, do laundry. All of these things take more time than they used to, so …
  • I'm grateful for patience and willingness to work with what I have, instead of feeling frustrated about my loss of mobility.

I also have a few wishes:

  • I wish everyone who is in pain would find relief.
  • I wish everyone facing surgery has a successful outcome.
  • I wish everyone who has a much more serious illness or condition will find comfort and peace.

I'm so lucky. Generally I dismiss people who say "it could be worse," because each person's situation is unique to them.

But … it could be worse.

Looking ahead to next weekend, my friend Vickie and I have come up with a Leap Year Photo Challenge. She did all the prompts and created the website. I did the graphics. We're a team!

If you found a camera under the Christmas tree, or if your new phone's camera is still a mystery, we invite you to join the fun!

And with that … I'm having a new kitchen faucet and garbage disposal installed today. Whatever I need to do that requires water needs to be done prior to the start of the project. So I'd better get moving!

Slowly …

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Four weeks

On Sunday, January 17, I'll be admitted and anticipating the insertion of a new hip joint the next day.

When last we met, our new treadmill had just been assembled and I'd given it a trial run. I did fine that first day. I've used it three times since then and, well, maybe it's just not the thing to do. I haven't hurt myself, but I definitely exhaust myself. It's quite astonishing how much it takes out of me.

And even though it's very gentle and slow, I'm so stiff and sore afterward that I can barely move from one position (lying down, for instance) to another (upright).

My walking goal for the year was 1200 miles. According to FitBit, which converts every step to miles, not just the intentional let's-go-for-a-walk ones, I'm very close. At the end of the day yesterday, I'd logged enough steps to equal 1177.69 miles for the year. With 12 days to go, I need only a couple miles a day to reach 1200.

But a normal, non-treadmill day often yields less than a mile. So … what will be, will be, and while I won't shy away from everyday activities, I won't be hopping on the treadmill.

As you may have noticed, I'm having trouble blogging. I've been all about fitness and weight loss since the beginning, and since neither are happening right now, I'm kind of at loose ends. Yes, I still knit. But I'm choosing easy, mindless projects that don't need much brain power. While I love dreaming about intricately cabled sweaters or wraps, I'm actually working on simple caps (two gifts recently completed!) and a garter stitch poncho (for myself).

I worked on one of those caps while watching The Skeleton Twins yesterday (currently available on Amazon Prime). It's a quirky, funny, bittersweet story. I couldn't tell you who the actors are. But I've watched it twice now, and liked it both times. So there's that.

And with that … another journal entry is in the books. I'll be back when something interesting or exciting or blog-worthy happens.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Five weeks from today

If all goes as planned – schedule doesn't change, insurance agrees to pay, surgeon and patient are both present for the procedure – I will have a new hip joint on Martin Luther King day.

Which is, as noted in today's post title, five weeks from today.

Christmas came early for us, with the delivery and assembly of a new treadmill. We literally wore our old one out. You could smell something electrical going on when you walked on it. I'm kind of proud of us for not turning it into a clothes hanger (which would have been kind of hard to do, since it wasn't in the bedroom).

Seriously. How many people do you know who have worn out a treadmill?

Anyway. I decided to try it out yesterday. I don't feel safe walking on the road, and it hurts too much to do that anyway. I figured if walking on the treadmill hurt, I could get off and have a seat on the nearby comfy couch. And I figured holding on to the handrails would give me some extra stability.

Yes, I know you burn fewer calories when you hold on. Burning calories isn't the point of the exercise at this time. Staying mobile is.

My goal was half an hour at 2 mph. Which is laughable compared to some of my epic treadmill workouts of the past. I remember running seven miles on it when it was too icy outside to do a training run for my first half-marathon. SEVEN. MILES.

No matter. I did it.

And then I sat down on the nearby comfy couch, with my knitting, and watched Love Actually.

Christmas can come any time now. Heh.

Well, maybe not. I have some food things to do, and some wrapping and mailing to do. The longest-distance packages will go out today. The rest will go tomorrow. The food things will happen sometime this week, while I still have a wee bit o'freezer space.

And the countdown to January 18 continues.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It's a date!

Continuing the surgery saga, yesterday was my first appointment with the surgeon. He answered all my husband's and my questions thoroughly, was very reassuring, offered non-surgical options, and completely allayed my concerns about having a total hip replacement done.

This is not a minor procedure, but he's done thousands of them and, as he said, once the knife goes in, it's "all business." He took a lot of time with me, much more than I expected. My husband and I both left feeling reassured that we'd made an informed decision, and the best one for me.

There are two non-surgical options. One is using a cane and continuing to have pain until I can't stand it any more. I'm already there.

He also said we could try cortisone injections in the joint, but he allowed that since I'm at stage 4 as far as loss of cartilage goes (that's the end of the line), injection therapy wouldn't last long or provide much relief.

I go for pre-op testing and X-rays January 7, and surgery will take place Monday, January 18.

I feel as though a yuuuuuuge weight has been lifted. There's plenty of time to prepare and learn more about what to expect. One thing we were specific about was the length of time for the surgery. Without hesitation he said 35 minutes from time of incision until closure. The less time, the better, as you reduce the opportunity for blood clots and infection.

I can expect to be in the hospital two to three days, although some patients go home the following day, and no rehab hospital time is expected, which was a complete surprise. Being somewhat competitive, I'd absolutely like to go home the next day. Heck, I'd go home the same day if it was possible!

The only physical therapy he mentioned was in-hospital, post-surgery, which was another complete surprise. I'm going to push for at least some post-op PT, in order to have the best opportunity to regain full range of motion.

The worst news from the appointment, but something I already knew, was that my running days are over. An artificial hip joint is something you really need to take care of. No running. No ladders without assistance. No risks, basically, that might end up with a broken leg, hip or pelvis.

But he said I could walk "a hundred miles a day" if I wanted to.

I can't wait!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Tomorrow, tomorrow!

The wait is nearly over. My first appointment with the surgeon is tomorrow at 1:30 in the afternoon. I can't ever remember being so excited about a visit to the doctor.

Everything I've heard from everyone I've talked to, as well as my own experience with this surgeon (he set my mother-in-law's broken arm several years ago) is good good good. The only caveat I've heard is that you will spend a long time in the waiting room. My 1:30 appointment is likely to be 2:30 or later.

Whatevs. We'll deal with it.

So what I've learned about myself is that a busy day is followed by a not-busy day. I'm still wearing my FitBit One, but it hasn't been tracking accurately lately. What's sad is I don't really much care. You can see, though, by this chart, that rest days follow active days, and that's just the way it is.
The 10,000-step-per-day goal has not been met in many months. Oh, well!
My husband and I gave ourselves a treadmill for Christmas, however, and I'm going to attempt very slow walking on it after we get it set up. Our old one began emitting a burning electrical odor when we used it, and in the interest of safety and not burning down our garage, we took it to a recycling center that accepts just about everything. Including burned-out treadmills.

That machine lasted a very long time, though, so we bought the same brand – a Pro-Form – which worked well for us. We are not runners (sad face), and the less-than-stellar reviews point out that this piece of equipment is not suitable for running. So yay! I think.

I continue to add meals to the freezer. I probably have a month's worth stockpiled at this point. I rarely cook just one meal now – it's just as easy to cook twice as much and put the extra away for the future.

If only I could clean the house once and have it stay clean until I'm back to normal. Ah, well. First-world problem. I'm getting a new hip joint … that's a pretty amazing thing that still doesn't happen in much of the world. Best to be grateful.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Hitting the RACK

Wow, where has this year gone?

Time to flip the calendar page to the last one of the year. For many – and especially for children – the traditional advent calendar becomes a focal point of the day. Let the countdown begin!

Putting my personal spiritual beliefs aside, I'm getting on the countdown bandwagon this year for the simple reason that I'm far too focused on myself, my pain, and my lack of mobility. It's all about me-me-me here in the Middle of Nowhere, and that's not what the Christmas spirit is all about.

A friend posted a Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Advent Calendar yesterday on Facebook. I saved the link, had a look, and while I may not be able to do something kind every day, I'm going to give it the old geriatric try.

There are three calendar options. One is for the entire month, in case you want to go crazy with kindness. One is blank, so you can fill in each day's kindness as you accomplish it. The third has 24 suggestions, one for each day leading up to Christmas.

The blog is kid-centric, but the ideas are adaptable if you don't have children at home. If you do, though, I think it would be a great way to help youngsters learn that doing for others warms two hearts.

I also printed out a coloring advent calendar. I e-mailed it to each of my young grandchildren, and then decided I'd do one, too. I haven't jumped on the adult coloring bandwagon, but I definitely see the value in it. It's in the same category as knitting garter stitch (which is what my current project is) – repetitive, soothing, mindless, and creative.

Perfect for getting out of one's own head.

Today's Random Act of Christmas Kindness is "Give a compliment to a friend."

My friend and sister from another mother, Gingerzingi, along with her husband, hosted his mother last week. If you're a regular reader of her blog, you'll know Mother-in-Law Week can be fraught with anxiety and resentment. Her account of their activities and interactions this year were very different. Gingerzingi has been doing a lot of personal "work," and it really showed, in a less stressful, more pleasant visit. So … whatever you're doing, G, it's working! And your example – of empathy, understanding, and kindness – is one I'm following. Thank you.