Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Looney Tunes Challenge

My second week back at work has come to an end. It is hard to describe exactly how I feel, but I'll try. Think of one of those old Coyote and Road Runner cartoons. Picture the Coyote shooting off an ACME rocket that makes a big circle and ends up coming up behind him. Imagine said rocket hitting him squarely in the keester with a loud KA-POW and then him skidding on his backside across the desert floor. The sound effect might be a Whee-ee-ee-ee.

In many ways, I knew how this back-to-work period was going to play out. The train had already been moving for a month without me. I had to try to catch up, grab onto the train, and keep going without missing a beat. My teaching partner and the substitute did their best (which was very good) to have everything in place and moving the right direction. I had done a ton of work at home so that I was as prepared as I could be.

To be sure, the first week back was incredibly tiring. Besides working full time, I had various after-school commitments that kept me out and about until 9:00 almost every evening. The second week was better. I wasn't quite as tired, and I didn't have things going on every evening. I find that people (myself included) tend to think that since I am back at work, I must be back to my pre-injury self. After all, when someone comes back to work after having the flu, they feel pretty much back to normal, right?

Unfortunately, I haven't "just" been back to work, and haven't "just" been recovering from leg surgery. For the past month, I have also been battling an infection (TWICE) that required antibiotics, immediately followed by a spell of back spasms, followed by a tremendous head cold that hit me this past Friday. Seemingly, this trifecta of challenges has left me skidding on my fanny across the desert floor.

I have not been able to exercise the way I should. Exhaustion and feeling unwell have left me making poorer food choices. I have not been logging my food and water. I have fallen away from many of the things that made my summer productive and successful.

Yet, in some respects, I am still clinging to the path. As of this morning, my weight is only up about 2 pounds from my lowest point. My husband came to therapy with me on Thursday, and he was amazed at what I am able to do in the gym now. He kept asking me if I realized how much better I am doing on the bike and weight machines. He's right, I am able to do more. I am stronger than I was before my fall, in spite of having a rough couple of months.

I think this is a critical time in the lifestyle journey. I have had physical impediments for three full months now. The first burst of adrenalin and initial weight loss has past. The time when motivation begins to wain has hit. It would be easy fall into an old habit of telling myself, "It's no use, you might as well just give up."

It seems that the intellect (Super Genius) must step in and override the emotion when the journey road takes an uphill turn. I must make a DECISION to keep going, Ever Forward, even when I feel like quitting. I must take inventory of the challenges that the past two weeks have presented, congratulate myself for coming through it, and then turn myself around again. Just like Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius, I must pick myself up, dust myself off, and start planning my next week of attack. Don't just sit there, please pass my ACME catalog...

Friday, October 7, 2011

D- for the Teacher

Well, it is only Friday, but the score on my Test for the Teacher is clear. This has been quite the week! It was the first week back at work, but so much more.

I am very grateful to my teaching partner and the substitute who was filling in for me during the first month of school. They did a really great job throughout a very, very busy time. My partner has been exceedingly gracious all week in picking up and delivering my students every 25 minutes, in an effort to save my leg all the walking on the concrete floor. The staff and students were glad to have me back, and I was greeted daily with hugs and well wishes. It was the first true week with students for my partner, too. Somehow, we both forgot the breakneck pace we must keep during our day. Several times during the week, we looked at each other and just let out a big sigh and laughed! Of course, when someone else is "cooking in your kitchen", things are bound to be out-of-place; and it takes time to get things rearranged to suit your needs. By the end of every day, my partner and I were both exhausted!

I went home at lunch time every day and put my leg up. It seemed to help a little, but it was quite sore by the afternoon. By Thursday, it was sore even when I was getting up in the morning.

Besides being back to work full-time, I also had places to be after school every day. On Monday, I went for a therapy session. By the end of the hour-long workout, the therapist informed me I was to go home and ice and rest. She said I could not swim and I could not go to the grocery store. I was told not to cook dinner. Since there was nobody else at home to help me until after 10 p.m., I went through a drive thru, to get something to eat. NOT on my food plan, and NOT good.

On Tuesday, my mother called and said I needed to come to their house to go through some stuff she was cleaning out. Saying no really isn't an option when I get a call like this. So, off I went, loaded the car with "stuff" she wanted me to have and then went to the grocery store. I drove the half-hour home with quite a bit of pain. I got home at 9 p.m, and threw a pre-packaged something into the microwave to eat for dinner. NOT on my food plan, and NOT good, and NO exercise.

On Wednesday, it was my husband's birthday. I informed him that I had a staff meeting after school, then a check-up at the surgeon's office, then I wanted to go for a swim, and then have dinner with him for his birthday. As it turned out, he got off work about the time I was headed to the surgeon's office. AND, he set up meeting his parents at a restaurant 15 minutes after my doctor's appointment. Not really much time to swim when I had to be at a restaurant that is a 15 minute drive away. Although I made a healthier food choice off the menu, NO exercise. I drove myself home at 9 p.m. The leg was extremely sore and stiff.

Yesterday, as I have already mentioned, my leg was sore when I got up. It felt progressively worse throughout the day. At 2:00, we had a fire drill. The day before, the surgeon had cautioned me; no uneven ground, no twisting, no turning. For the fire drill, I had to lead my students through several inches of gravel bed for the playground (read that uneven ground) at a rapid pace. Fire drills tend to make young children squirrely (read that twisting and turning.) By the time we got back inside, the leg was throbbing. Instead of driving to the gym/pool, I went home after school and elevated the leg for two hours. Then I ventured out to teach a little crochet class that I had promised to my knitting group. I got home at 9 p.m. I ate a warmed up hamburger for "dinner." NO exercise.

In previous blog posts, I have related that a couple of weeks ago I was fighting one of those infections that women tend to get. I finished a 7 day course of antibiotics. I felt that the infection wasn't completely gone, and went back to the doctor's office for a recheck. Although there were a few bacteria that showed up, the doctor felt they were dead bacteria, and that the antibiotic had done its job. Those who are teachers will know that in the normal teaching day, people in this profession have very little opportunity to sneak away for things such as refilling one's water bottle, and using the facilities. These are the types of things that one fighting such an infection should make efforts to accomplish.

I was awakened at 3 a,m, today by said infection reappearing; bigger, badder, and most definitely angry that I had tried to snuff it out with antibiotics. The scenario that I had presented to the doctor about NOT wanting to miss any more work after missing the first MONTH of school has happened. I have a fever, I have chills, and it will be very clear that there is a problem when I go in to produce another "sample." I am NOT happy with my doctor, although I understand his reluctance to prescribe more antibiotics when it had appeared that the other course did the trick. It does NOT seem likely that I will be up to going to the pool or the gym today with a fever and chills, and well, the inability to venture too far from certain modern conveniences.

It is now 6:15 a.m. Since 3:30 a,m,, I have written lesson plans for the substitute, I have called my principal, I have text messaged my teaching partner, I have chugged a glass of cranberry juice, I have made 6 trips to the facilities, and I have vented in this blog post.

The whirlpool of everyday life has sucked me in and spit me out--the worse for wear. I'm not sure how I could have changed things this week to make it better. My commitment to this lifestyle change remains strong, but my worry over how to achieve balance has been sorely tested this week. I am frustrated, but reassuring myself that next week will be better. I am trying to remain positive and remind myself that the lifelong journey, not just a single week, is the true test.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Test for the Teacher

Well folks, it's been three weeks since my last blog post. There is a reason for my silence. I have been gradually re-entering my usual, every-day, normal life. I've got to be honest here, I've been worried about how I would handle this time since I had my accident. Now that the weekend before I go back to work full-time is here, I am still feeling unsure and worried about how this is all going to go.

In the past two weeks, I have worked three full time days. Two of the days were all-day meetings. I had worked at home for five full days to prepare for these meetings. They were mentally challenging, but I thought I would be physically fine, since I was sitting all day. Surprisingly, I was both mentally and physically exhausted afterwards. I felt that it was difficult to drive the two miles home. The third day at work, I had a morning meeting, and then worked in my classroom in the afternoon. The afternoon was more typical of a regular day. I sat and worked at my desk and at my teaching table, but also got up every few minutes and walked to various places in the room and the school. By 2:00, I was having throbbing pain in my leg and feeling fatigued. I stayed until 4:00, and was really tired by the time I went home. I put my leg up at home, but it continued to throb well into the night.

Frustratingly, during the past week and a half, I also contracted an infection. The infection was not in my leg. I had fever, chills, cramping, general malaise; and required a week's worth of antibiotic. My body does not love medications, and antibiotics usually make me feel as poorly as the infection. I did not exercise beyond my twice-a-week therapy sessions during the infection. I just didn't feel up to it.

On the positive side, my therapy continues to go very well. My leg is able to bend to its full capacity again. I am pain-free in the knee when I get up in the morning. Now that my knee is feeling better, I was noticing that the ankle on the bad leg was bothering me. The therapist informed me that I sprained the ankle during the fall, and it was inflamed. She has given me two treatments on the ankle, and it is feeling like it is calming down. I am using all the leg machines at the gym now, and increasing the weight I am moving. I have been riding the bike for three miles with resistance now.

Twice this week, in an effort to regain my strength and to prepare for returning to work, I went shopping. I needed to get my wristwatch fixed, and then discovered I needed a new watch. Shopping for a watch was an eight store trip until I found one I liked that fit my wrist.

I feel really good when I am sitting at home with the leg up, and I wanted to see how I would fare when walking on a concrete floor. The answer is, I can only walk on concrete for a short time before the leg starts to hurt. I am still somewhat weak, and have to sit down and rest frequently. This worries me, as it is similar to what I will be experiencing when I am back at work.

Throughout these days, I have fallen off my streak of tracking my food. I have been conscientious in making my food choices, but I have not been tracking. My weight loss has flat-lined since my surgery, just hovering in the same place. I have not been drinking the water I know I need. I have not been spending the time in the gym that I did before the surgery.

Since I started this lifestyle change journey at the beginning of summer, I have always felt that the true test would be the choices I made once I had returned to work. The exhaustion I have felt, combined with the general malaise from the infection and the hours spent at work or working from home has derailed my efforts. My biggest worry is here. My mojo has taken a nosedive. The running start I hoped to have before I went back to work has slowed to a crawl.

This week will be a big test for the teacher. Not only do I return to work for five full-time days, with students, and after-school meetings, and bus duty; but I also have a date with the therapist and another with the surgeon during the week. Additionally, I have my husband's birthday, and the knitting group I started seven years ago. My calendar overfloweth.

How I react to all this activity will make a big difference in how I feel about myself and my commitment to this lifestyle. It will be a challenge, to be sure. I am resolving to track my food every day. I am going to drink water while I am working. I have a plan to have some gym time at least twice on my own, along with one trip with the therapist. I am planning healthy meals for the week and making sure that I have the ingredients at the ready. I am placing healthy snacks within reach at work.

Wish me luck! I'll give you my test score at the end of the week!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tribute to Grandpa



This is my grandfather. Today was his birthday. He would have been 102. He passed away 7 years ago this December. I was very fortunate to have him in my life as long as I did. He is the great-grandparent that my children remember the best.

His name was William E. "Pat" Boyer. He carried the mail, by foot with a big satchel, in our little town for many years. It was hard work, considering we get about 100 inches of snow annually. The children around town used to come running out of their front doors when they saw him coming up the walk with their mail.

This picture was taken on the day he started working at his dream job, Postmaster in our town. He was so proud! While he was Postmaster, he worked hard with "the Politicians" to double the size of our post office and make it accessible to all.

He was a true Renaissance man, who could do darned near anything. He rode motorcycles, and could build houses, and fix cars, and garden, and started a radio station that is still running today. He loved to go camping!! He adored babies, they always made him tear up. He remembered who built the houses in town and who lived in them after the town burned to the ground in 1918. He picked out a "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree every year, and swore it was the best tree he ever saw. He had a great appetite and believed slathering anything in butter made it twice as good. He went blind due to glaucoma when he was in his 80's, but continued to take care of himself until his death. He got books on tape and stayed current with what was happening in the world.

He was opinionated, informed, kind, loving, patient, devoted, loyal, faithful, funny, handy, a gentleman, and the kind of man you hope your daughter will find someday. We all loved him like crazy, and miss him even more.

The most important lesson I learned from my Grandpa is to treasure each and every day you have with your family and friends. He taught me that lesson by example.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mrs. Ever Forward Takes a Step Back

For those that don't know, I am "Directionally Challenged." Oh, I'm "challenged" in many ways, but my lack of a sense of direction is somewhat legendary. I tend to walk fairly quickly, and rarely am I moving in the correct direction for where I hope to go. Because of this unfortunate trait, my husband says my motto is "Ever Forward." He loves to point this out on the numerous occasions weekly when I finally come to the realization that I have no clue where I am going.

It should also come as no news flash to those who have been following my recovery from a fall down some stairs that I can be a Klutz (with a capital K.) I am not the champion Klutz in my family, that honor goes to my brother, Tom, who has had stitches in his head alone more times that you can count on two hands.

At this point, I should note that although the doctor said that my trip down the stairs resulted in a "catastrophic" injury, I have worked rather vigorously to heal myself and have made progress that has impressed the medical personnel who are caring for me. Pretty much, from the time of my injury on July 2, I have mostly made positive steps forward and surprised those who know how recovery should look. I was moving Ever Forward on a long journey to a rebuilt knee.

Yesterday, in an instant, Mrs. Ever Forward took a step back. A word of caution here, if you have problems discussing bodily functions or things done in private, STOP reading. Mrs. Ever Forward is about to share TMI.

It was a day in which I was feeling really good. The weather was beautiful. My physical therapist had given me a big two thumbs up for my performance the day before. I had pedaled the stationery bike backward and forward, and had been able to move the seat down to the same setting I had used prior to my reconstructive surgery. My extension was perfect, resting comfortably when flat on the exam table. My bend on the bike was 108 degrees out of 125 maximum for my chubby little legs. I was antsy with cabin fever. I took a stroll the 125 feet down my gravel driveway to the mailbox using only a cane. I was the cat's meow, the cock of the walk, and the belle of the ball; all rolled into one.

I was going to make supper for my husband for the first time in two weeks! I was feeling good enough that I thought I could surprise him with a home cooked meal. Before beginning my culinary adventure, I thought I should take a trip down the hall and use the restroom. You know, so I could focus my full attention on making a fabulous meal.

Now, when a person has an injury like mine, there is a bit of finesse that is required to use the facilities. It involves getting everything lined up, and making a measured descent onto the commode. As the descent begins, the offending leg must be straightened out so as not to over-stretch the newly installed ligament. It's really a blend of Highland Fling meets Swan Lake. It's a dance I've pulled off numerous times since July 2, without a hitch. Until yesterday.

I was backed in, lined up, confident in my final approach and impending descent. As I permitted gravity to take over, I started the straightening of my leg and my heel stuck on the floor and the leg stayed bent. Too far bent.

I heard myself scream, I saw black, I must have grabbed the vanity next to me. I think I moaned loudly, twice. My vision came back and the shaking started. I knew I'd done something not so good. I made it to the bed, and tried calling my husband. His phone went right to voice mail. I tried again in a couple of minutes and he picked up. I told him I'd had a little accident with the leg. He said he was 2 1/2 hours away, and what did I want him to do? I said I wanted him to come home ASAP because I was going to need a hand. I stayed put on the bed until he got there.

Today, I went back to therapy and explained my mishap to the therapist. She said she hopes I didn't tear the new graft. I had too much swelling for her to tell for sure that it is okay. She put me on the bike, three settings on the seat higher than Tuesday, and I only pedaled the bike backwards (easier, less bend) once and she took me off. She measured my bend, and I had gone from 108 to 95. The therapy plan for the day was out the window, and we went into damage control.

It was disappointing, to say the least. My weekend ahead looks a lot like my evening tonight. Sitting with the leg up, and lots and lots of ice. Limited exercise and lots of rest. Bummer. I don't think I've torn the new graft, just gave it a big stretch. I was worried about having torn the stitches putting the meniscus back together, but the therapist didn't think that was the case. She did say that it could have been much, much worse. She reminded me that I could have ended up on the floor with a break in the leg. After all, I have two fresh channels drilled all the way through both the major bones in that leg (that's how they thread the new ligament through the bone.) My goal of driving by the end of the second week (today) is not going to happen. Maybe one more week?

I am choosing to consider myself fortunate. This was a reminder that I'm not as hoity-toity as I was thinking I was. It could have been much worse, and it was a good reminder that sometimes you just have to give your body time to heal. On the positive side, my weight has remained constant in spite of having to sit a lot. My food choices have been within my target range. I am fortunate that although it is tough for me to be sitting home with cabin fever while my friends and colleagues go about their lives; I am lucky to have good health care, a good sub at school, a supportive teaching partner, and friends and family who care about me. It will be okay. Mrs. Ever Forward just doesn't like to take a step back.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Fish Boil and Some Recovery Sadness

Well, it has been just under a week since I've blogged about my progress. The truth of the matter is that it has been a kind of a rough week for me.

As I was getting up for therapy last Thursday, the phone rang. It was the therapy center calling to say that my PT was out sick on that day. Weird, I thought, as I had been up much of the night with some stomach troubles myself. I was feeling pretty rotten, and my husband called the pharmacy to find out what we should do if my narcotics were making me feel BAD. The pharmacist suggested that I take some ibuprofen for pain control. I took the ibuprofen and then my husband chatted with the nurse from the surgeon's office. She told him that I SHOULDN'T take ibuprofen. Oh. She felt that it wasn't my pain medication causing the gastrointestinal distress, since I had been tolerating it for a few days. She suggested that it must be a stomach bug. The next day, Friday, I went and saw the physician's assistant to get my stitches removed. She also felt I was struggling with a stomach bug. In the meantime, I started paying attention to when I was having trouble. Strangely, there seemed to be a pattern with the stomach acting up about two hours after I took medication. The PA had suggested that IF it was my medication, I could just take acetaminophen instead of the narcotics. So, over the weekend, I tried that. No luck, still yucky.

Now, it is enough to deal with the pain in the knee and the immobility involved with it. Add pretty severe nausea, frequent field trips down the hall (if you get my drift), trying to stretch out the time between pain pills to try to prevent the stomach stuff, and virtually no sleep due to pain and nausea; and you've got my past five days of fun. Normally, I try to keep the sunny side up, and keep things light and positive; but I am also trying to accurately chronicle my knee surgery recovery. Honestly, it has NOT been fun.

At this point today, I have not had any pain medication for 16 hours. I will be trying to go to bed and sleep after I post this. I have to get up early and go to therapy tomorrow morning. Considering the speed (or lack thereof) in which I currently move, the early morning rush hour traffic through massive road construction; I need to sleep and get going early. So, the evening debate begins. Medication or no medication??? If this goes as it has been going, I will try to sleep without, be unable to stand the pain, and then take medication, only to be up two hours later and spending time contemplating the inside of my bathroom.

In spite of all of this doom and gloom, I can tell that I am making some progress with the leg. With no pain meds on board, I was able to do my exercises, and bend the leg using the rocking chair for about 15 minutes this evening. My extension can put the leg flat, and the thigh muscle seems to be working a bit better now. My goal for therapy tomorrow is to ride the stationery bike and stretch it to the point where I can pedal without pain.

My husband went back to work today, and I made it through my first day home alone. I was able to make myself a meal without any problem. I finished knitting a baby sweater, when I haven't really felt up to knitting , reading, or much of anything since my surgery. Tomorrow, my husband is dropping me off at therapy and then going on to work. My mother will be at the fitness center doing her water aerobics, and I will catch a ride with her when she is done exercising. That is our plan for therapy days until I am able to drive myself again.

Although I felt kind of lousy yesterday, it was my in-laws annual Labor Day Fish Boil. My husband hates to miss family events, and so I had my first non-medical outing since the surgery. It was a long day. It takes us an hour to get to their house. They live on a lake. I sat in the back seat of the car, with my leg propped up on a pillow on the back seat. The family was glad that we made the trip, and they were generous with the recliner chair for me to put the leg up. I did make it out into the yard for the famous boil-over.

For those unfamiliar with a Fish Boil, here's what happens. Fish boils are common in Door County, Wisconsin and in some places in Minnesota. We started this tradition several years ago after my in-laws attended a boil in Door County. We start with a wood fire and put a large cast iron Witch's Kettle over the fire. You dump in a whole box of salt and bring the water to a good, strong, rolling boil. There are three ingredients in our traditional boil, and you have the ingredients prepared in advance. Timing is everything once you start cooking! When the water is boiling well, into the pot goes your red potatoes. They are scrubbed up, but still have the skins on them (they hold together better that way.) The potatoes boil for exactly 10 minutes. Then a large cheesecloth bag of onions go into the kettle. We chunk up a bunch of white onions. The onions and potatoes boil for exactly another 10 minutes. The last ingredient is white fish. It is gutted and cut into chunks and put into cheesecloth to keep the pieces together. The skin and fins are still on our fish, but they have no scales. Our white fish was swimming in Lake Superior on Thursday, and we were eating it on Sunday. Very fresh. The fish goes into the kettle and cooks for exactly 10 minutes. The water in the kettle is now just a couple inches under the top of the pot. Any oil contained in the fish rises to the surface of the water. At the end of the cooking time, a coffee can of diesel fuel is thrown onto the wood fire causing a tremendous flare of fire! Exciting!!!! The sudden flare of fire causes the liquid in the kettle to boil up and over the sides of the kettle, taking all the oil with it. Here's how our boil over looked yesterday.



Anyway, we serve the Fish Boil with fresh coleslaw. The traditional dessert from Door County to go with your Fish Boil is a fresh tart cherry pie. When you think about it, with the exception of the pie, it is a fairly healthy meal. Boiled fish, potatoes and onions with coleslaw isn't too bad.

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Let the Therapy Commence!

I have such wonderful support from all my friends! Thank you for commenting on my blog posts and offering such great advice.

I went to my first physical therapy session yesterday. My husband came in with me, and my mother came in after she was done with her Hydro class. I am working with the same therapist who saw me after my initial injury. She is tough, and I like that. I feel like we can work well together, and that she will see me through to full function of the knee again.

Therapy is uncomfortable. I know that and I expect it. I took my pain medication so that it was in place during the therapy, and that helps. Sherree, the therapist, asked me how I was doing. I told her that I thought my bending was coming along, but my extension was still a bit stiff. We took off the brace, and I showed her my stuff. It took a couple of flexes to get the knee flat onto the table, but I did it! I was able to flex it to 95 degrees, which she said was very good. Although it felt like I was tightening my thigh muscle to the same degree as my good leg, she said I wasn't. It may be due to the nerve block they put into the muscle. She hooked me up to the ionizer, which causes the muscle to contract, and I lifted the leg each time it contracted. She checked my walking from the front and back, and said it looked very good. I have to make a conscious effort to keep my toes up and not have toe-drop. I was a bit light-headed from the narcotics, so I did not get on the stationery bike. We are going to try that on Thursday.

In the meantime, I am able to stretch my pain meds out two hours longer than I could a couple of days ago. I am able to have it up in a recliner chair for a longer time, rather than flat on my back with my knee propped above my heart. I sat in a rocking chair today, flexing and extending it. I used the can under my heel and pressed the knee down. My leg raises are getting easier, and are a lot less painful. We still have to get up at night and change out my ice pack and take a pain pill, but I am resting well.

Throughout this process, I am trying to keep a positive attitude, and focus on what I CAN do. School has started this week, and I am not there. Lots of people have been emailing, sending notes and calling to let me know they are thinking about me. What a lucky person I am to be blessed by so many friends! Although I am not at work, I have been doing important work from home, and focusing on getting healthy. I CAN spend this month getting my leg back in shape and becoming healthier so that I when I can return to work I can be the best I can be.

As always, my motto is, "Ever forward."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Long and Winding Road

I am writing this blog entry at the end of my third day post-surgery. The surgery itself went well. The surgeon rebuilt my ACL with one from a donor. The meniscus was partially stitched, and the parts that could not be stitched were removed. The surgeon told my husband that the surgery went well.

I plan on chronicling my recovery in the hope that it may help others who will have to experience reconstructive knee surgery. It was sometimes frustrating to know that I worked hard for seven weeks to rehabilitate the MCL, only to be pushed back to square one on surgery day. That frustration was well worth it, when the surgeon looked inside my knee. The MCL is healed, albeit still a bit loose, but so much stronger and stable than when the injury first occurred. The hours in the gym and pool brought me to this point, when I begin my recovery in earnest.

Some folks have an easy time with anesthesia. My husband and my father awake feeling refreshed, as if they have had a nice, long nap. I am not that fortunate. I awake slowly from general anesthesia. I have the feeling that I should be waking up, but I cannot, and it leaves me feeling panicked. We arrived at the hospital at 8:30 in the morning, and we didn't leave until 7:00 in the evening. My husband still did not feel that I was ready to travel the half-hour to get home, but I wanted to go between doses of pain medication. It wasn't until 2:00 AM that I felt really awake from the anesthesia.

Everything I'd read about this surgery indicated that the first 48 hours are quite difficult. I'd say that was accurate. The first day, I made the mistake of trying to be tougher than I really am. I went too long between taking my pain medications, and ended up in trouble. My husband called the surgeon's nurse, who is a wonderful person, and she helped us through the trouble. I learned my lesson about taking my medication, even before I think I might need it.

The second day post-surgery was the day of my uncle's funeral. I so wanted to attend, but it was obvious that it was too soon for me to try to go. I did not want people to have to focus worry on me rather than my aunt and her family. My daughter and her boyfriend came and went in my place. My brother and his wife were also here, and my brother did the readings for the service. My mother said several people noticed my absence and asked about me, but they were very understanding when told that I'd had knee reconstruction two days before.

Today, I slept in and generally took things a bit easier still. I went the entire day without an hour of "the shakes" and uncontrolled pain. My daughter and her boyfriend were still here. We had a lazy day, watching baseball, and visiting. I have been able to shower yesterday and today, which helps me feel better. My husband says that I'm not seeing how much I've already improved, but he has noticed. We changed the dressings on the incisions, and the knee looks very good. There is little bruising and the swelling is noticeably diminished.

Tomorrow, I have my first post-op physical therapy session. I know that it will be somewhat uncomfortable, but I am willing to work through whatever discomfort is needed. My husband will be with me throughout the week to take me to my appointments, and I know he will do his best to keep me comfortable in transit. The joint in my brace will be unlocked, and I will continue to do the exercises I've been assigned.

As for the food choices, I knew it would be a giant step backwards, and it has. I have to eat every four hours before taking my narcotics, and frankly cinnamon-sugar toast has been the food of choice. It keeps the nausea at bay, and it is easy to make in the middle of the night when I need to take meds. I am working hard at letting this time go without beating myself up about it. I knew it was going to happen. I am willing to get back into my new lifestyle routine as quickly as I can. It is a challenge to know that I will undoubtedly put on some of my lost pounds, but I am committed to not letting myself slide indefinitely back into old habits.

Blogging throughout the process is one way of holding myself accountable. The progress I've made thusfar should not be totally reversed, and my recovery will be the better because of it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Passages

My uncle passed away this morning.  His death has been months in the making.  Back in June, he suffered a massive heart attack.  He had warning signs for almost a week prior to the actual attack.  His heart stopping beating during the ambulance ride to the hospital, twice.  While the doctors tried to stabilize him in the hospital in preparation for open heart surgery, he suffered a second heart attack.  They performed a triple bypass on him on the 4th of July.

After he survived the open heart surgery, we expected that he would make a slow, but steady recovery.  He did not.  Instead, he seemed to take one step forward, followed by two steps back.  His lungs, which evidently had been diseased for years, began to fail.  The doctors tried everything they could think of to help him.  In the end, there was nothing more anybody could do.

His family has faithfully been by his side, day after day,  for two months.  My cousin cooked meals and brought them to the hospital for him daily. He always was a picky eater.  This was not the end he wanted, nor the end anyone could want.  When the end finally came this morning, it was a blessing for both the family and him.

My uncle hated doctors and hospitals.  He did not take particularly good care of himself. He ignored the warning signs his body had been giving him for years.  He had diabetes.  He had heart disease. He had lung disease.  He had reached the average life expectancy for a man in the United States.  I guess he figured that he could live on pure stubbornness alone. He would not have wanted the quality of life that was ahead of him, even if he had survived.

Knowing all this does not make his passing any easier for those family who are left behind.  My aunt has lost her husband, my cousins their father, his grandchildren have lost their grandpa, and my dad has lost his only sibling.  While the family had time to say their goodbyes, it is still difficult.

Life will go on without him, although we will miss him. His granddaughter will still be married on September 24.  In our hearts, we will know and most probably feel his presence there with us.  But, we will miss his boisterous life-of-the-party personality. New babies will be born into our family, and resemblances may be noted.  But, the children will grow without the benefit of his goofy jokes. Such is the cycle of life.

Every day, families throughout the world go through this very same process.  People are born, and people die.  Take time today, as I have, to count your blessings.  Hug  family and friends that are nearby, and confess your love to those far away.  Take stock in where your life is, and where it is going.  Think about the mark you made on this world today.  Those who have gone before us, like my uncle, have entrusted this life onto our care.
Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

An Achievement on the Road to ACL Surgery

It is time for another update. For those who may stumble upon this post and not understand what is happening, I had a fall the weekend before Independence Day. I was busy multitasking while going down some stairs. I essentially missed a step and fell down onto the concrete floor with my knee bent under and to the outside of my body. My ACL was completely torn through, the meniscus is shattered and laying in pieces in the joint, the MCL was torn and remained attached "by a couple of threads." Since that time (7 weeks) I have been in physical therapy to try to strengthen and retain flexibility in the MCL while my body tries to heal it. Increasing the strength and flexibility of the knee is in preparation for surgery to repair the other two injuries. This triple injury is sometimes called the "Unhappy Triad" and is usually the injury sustained when an athlete has a "blown knee."

My surgery is scheduled for one week from today. I had a pre-op exam with my family doctor on Tuesday. My blood pressure was really good, 118/79. The doc gave me the once over. I am down 32 pounds since summer began! The doc said that it would be good if I could be down some more before I have the surgery, but it will take a year or more to do that safely. So with all things considered, I am in the best shape that I can be for this operation. Everyone believes that I should have the surgery now. With the instability in the knee, there is a possibility that I could have a fall and injure the few remaining ligaments that I have.

Besides the healthy eating and tracking everything, I have been working very hard in the gym. The MCL was only attached by a "couple of threads" and the body tries to bunch that up to protect it. My therapy for the past 7 weeks has been to strengthen and retain flexibility in that MCL while my body tries to heal it. I have good range of motion in that MCL now and it is much stronger than it was. It still becomes stiff when I sit for awhile, but a little stretch and it is good to go.

Today, I had a moment when I was really proud of myself. Mind you, moments when I feel really proud of myself don't come around all that often. But, I'm trying to celebrate my successes on this journey, and today was just such an occasion. There is a sign in the pool at the fitness center where I now have a membership. The sign says that 64 lengths, or 32 laps of the pool equal one mile. When I first started working out, swimming ACROSS the pool looked impossible to me. Today, I swam 32 lengths of the pool, which is a half a mile!

Granted, it took me some time (about an hour) and I had to rest a couple of minutes between laps. Almost certainly my "built-in buoyancy" kept me from becoming a speed bump on the bottom of the pool. BUT, I am only able to kick with one leg, and I DID drag myself to and fro in that pool (the LONG WAY) 32 times! And for that, I am proud of myself.

Tomorrow, I see the surgeon for the final time before my surgery date. I believe he will check the flexibility and extension I have in the leg now. I will show him the cuts that were caused by my robo-brace on the back of the knee. I will ask him to send a letter to my school district with an explanation of why I need to be out of school through September. We will discuss my post-surgery options for care. I have already decided to have a ligament from a deceased donor implanted rather than harvesting a portion of one of my own healthy ligaments. The surgeon won't know if the meniscus is able to be sutured back together until he gets into the knee and looks at the blood flow. It may be that he will just remove the pieces from the joint.

By all accounts, everything I've heard and read about this surgery, it will be a difficult recovery. Total recovery time is 6 months to one year. The first two weeks after the surgery reportedly have a high level of pain and very little weight bearing on the leg. One person told me that it could be as long as 6 weeks before I will have enough control of the leg to resume driving. I am hoping to be driving within 2 weeks. I think it is natural to feel some anxiety, especially when you keep hearing about the level of pain. Normally, I have a very good tolerance for pain, and I'm hopeful that won't fail me now. I take comfort in knowing that I have done my best to prepare my body in the time I've had.

I anticipate that I will make some backwards movement in my fitness level and weight loss at the beginning of my recovery period. I am going to do my best to keep my Spark alive and eat as healthy as I can (although I understand that I will be somewhat at the whim of my caregiver as to my food choices.) I will be doing the exercises necessary to regain function in my leg without causing damaging swelling, and that will have to be good enough for now. I resolve that I will return to the gym and pool as soon as I have permission to do so. Mostly, I will work on being patient with my body as I heal, and to be kind to myself if a few pounds find their way back to me.

This won't be easy (I am NOT a patient patient), but I have every confidence that with the help of my wonderful, supportive friends, I will continue on my journey in spite of this bump in the road.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cue the Crickets

What's that I hear? The sound of crickets? That must mean there has been a lull in the blogging action around here. Why, you might ask? Well, the answer is, I'm not really sure. Here are my thoughts:

1) After working at this lifestyle change for two months now, one might think that the excitement is waning. In other words, the honeymoon is over. While that might be the case, I don't think that's exactly true. I am still tracking all my foods and making sure my calories are within my target range. It is becoming easier for me to plan my healthy meals and I have been very good about adding fruits and veggies into my diet.

2) Maybe I've been too busy? Well, maybe... but probably not a good excuse. While it most definitely takes me L-O-N-G-E-R to do everything with the robo-leg, I am also spending a good amount of time sitting, or at least looking for the next place where I can sit. I did have a very busy weekend with company in town and making a MEGA meal (4 courses) for 10 people. We were celebrating my mother's 75th birthday and my parents' 54th wedding anniversary (same day, she got married on her 21st birthday.) My mother has also been tracking her food since mid-June, so I went with the theme "Fresh From the Garden" for the fancy meal. We had homemade bruschetta appetizers and citrus juice spritzers before the meal. We had spinach and strawberry poppy seed salad, maple glazed salmon with pineapple salsa, homemade rice pilaf with veggies, and fresh green beans. I served wheat buns with honey butter that I made myself. Desert was gooey toffee bars and birthday cake that was pineapple with vanilla pudding and whipped cream topping, and homemade peach ice cream. I behaved myself and only had a tiny nibble of a bar and a very small piece of the birthday cake.

3) Maybe I've gained weight? Nope, not really. My weight tends to bounce a lot. I suspect some of the bouncing is due to sodium intake, and perhaps a bit of mid-life femality (if you catch my drift.) It isn't unusual for me to fluctuate up to 4 pounds from one day to the next. But the overall trend is down, and that makes me incredibly happy. I think we can safely say that officially today I am down 30 pounds since the beginning of summer!!!! YAY! I'm working hard not to let fluctuations get me down or make me give up. I can verify that I am eating healthy, staying within my calorie range; and I know that eventually the scale will catch up.

4) Maybe I've forgotten about exercise? No way! I've been exercising at least 3 days per week. Yesterday, the pool was very busy, so I made an extra trip in to the gym today to just do some pool work. I have read and am discovering that consistency is most definitely the key. I can feel that I am getting stronger. I have increased all the weight in my strength training, I can do three miles on the bike now (at the beginning, 1/2 mile had me huffing), and I started with 5 minutes on the NuStep machine, and I am now doing a half an hour! When I first started in the pool, the thought of swimming across (the short way) the pool looked impossible. Today, I swam not only the full length of the pool, but I did it 8 times without stopping mid-lap! I did rest between laps, but still it is progress. According to the sign at the pool, I swam 1/8 of a mile and did all my other exercises and some jogging in the water.

5) Maybe this lifestyle is becoming more routine for me? Maybe, and that might be a good thing. But, I think I have to remember not to become complacent. I need to celebrate my accomplishments. Today I was down a total of 30 pounds and I swam 8 laps in the pool! I have two weeks to go before my surgery, and I want to be in the best shape that I can be! I'm working hard and I'm proud of what I am doing!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lifestyle Changes, Large and Small

My lifestyle changes are continuing, in large and small ways.

I am g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y becoming more comfortable spending time at the gym and particularly in the pool. This is a large change for me.

Up until last week, I had not worn a swimsuit in public in ten years. Weirdly, this knee injury, (complete with big, honking, robo-brace) is making it easier for me to go to the gym. Before, the Negative Nellie in my mind made me think that people would look at me and say, "Well, she OBVIOUSLY hasn't set foot in a gym in a very long time. What in the world does she think she's doing here in Athletic-ville?" Now, I feel they look at me and think,"Geez, look at that. She's trying to get into that machine and/or swimsuit with that ginormous robo-brace. She must have really done a number on that leg. Her doctor says she needs to be here to make it better."

Odd, isn't it? It took an accident like this to give my psyche the "permission" to go to the gym and pool. I suspect I'm not alone in this. I feel that there must be others out there who beat themselves up to the point where they feel they don't belong in a gym. There must be others who feel they've let themselves go to the point where they feel they don't deserve to give themselves the time, attention, and expense of a gym membership.

The truth of the matter is, that nobody at that fitness center is probably thinking any of those things. As I am changing in the locker room along with other women, they are most likely just thinking about themselves or their lives. They probably don't give a hoot in a holler about my fat rolls or how many calories I ate today. Generally speaking, they are just trying to get themselves dressed and out of there as quickly as I am.

It will probably take a bit more time and a lot more weight loss before I feel totally at home in the gym and pool. Every day is a little easier, and I know I can continue to do this.

Today, I went in to have my hair done for the first time since my accident. I was WAY overdue, as the accident postponed my hair appointment by three weeks. I told my hairdresser that I am making some life changes and that I would need her to consider them in doing my hair. I told her I'm shooting for being in the pool three days per week. She congratulated me on my lifestyle changes and made some adjustments to my color because of the chlorine in the pool. We also decided on a much shorter haircut to work with the pool and my upcoming surgery.

The hairdo is a small, yet significant lifestyle change. It is one more step on the road to adjusting to a healthier, more active life.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's to the Gym I Go!

It's been awhile since I blogged, and it is time for an update. I have been following my food plan pretty well, in spite of eating out this evening and on Saturday (twice). We took my folks down to Minneapolis to see "HMS Pinafore" at the Guthrie Theater. My daughter has worked there for two years, and this was the first time my parents have been there. My daughter and her boyfriend, my son and daughter-in-law, and we had lunch at a Thai restaurant near the theater. I ordered the cashew chicken. I ate about half of it (and half of the rice) and gave the rest to my husband. I hadn't had time for breakfast before we left, so I was proud of myself for stopping halfway, when I could have eaten the whole darned thing.

The play was marvelous! My dad has been so worried about his brother, my uncle, who is still in the hospital since his heart attacks and surgery. It was nice to get Dad out of town and see him smile and enjoy the day. My youngest brother joined us for dinner at Old Spaghetti Factory. I ordered whole wheat pasta, and a selection with very little sauce. I ate my salad, with very little of one of their low calorie dressing choices. I did splurge and eat one scoop of ice cream for dessert, but I remained within my target range for the day!

I went to the gym twice last week! I exercised 45 minutes in the gym and 45 minutes in the pool on Thursday and I felt really good! Today, my permission from the doctor arrived, so my gym membership is official. I exercised 50 minutes in the gym, and 50 minutes in the pool. I did two sets of all the exercises the PT gave me, plus a mile on the stationery bike, and 15 minutes on the recumbent leg/arm extender machine. I added upper body and torso exercises like ab crunches, arm press, and curls. In the pool, I did all my leg exercises and a lot of walking in the water. I was cautioned about trying to kick my leg while swimming, but discovered that if I do a side stroke, I can let the bad leg just float on the surface without kicking. So I would walk the shallow end, then swim from the midway point of the pool to the deep end. Swim back to mid-pool, and walk the rest of the way. I felt really good! Those elusive endorphins kicked in, and it is almost three hours later, and I still feel great! YAY! The plan is to do this routine three times per week until my knee surgery on Aug. 25.

I'm hoping that I will get my leg strength up so that after my surgery, recovery will be a bit easier. I know that the surgery will move me back to square one on the way my knee feels, and it will take a few weeks to get back to what I'm able ti do now. If I could drop a few more pounds, it would also help with the crutches, walker, etc. that will be back for a return visit.

Monday is my scale day, and I was down three more pounds for a total of 24 since the beginning of June. I am pleased with my progress, in spite of having the banged-up knee!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What it Means to Have a "Second" Birthday

July 19 has a special meaning in my family. My beloved grandmother was born on this day in 1909. She was born on a sheep farm to immigrant parents. Her parents came from Germany and Austria, and were very happy to be Americans. Her name was Grace, and her life was not easy. Her father made the children leave home once they had their 13th birthdays. She went and lived with her aunt and finished school. She became a teacher and worked in a tuberculosis sanatorium until her marriage. She had three children, her eldest was my mother. She loved to sew, knit, and crochet. I was her first grandchild, and she loved to teach me her crafts. She gardened and had a green thumb like nobodies business. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early thirties, in a time when treatment was in its early stages. The cancer slowly spread through her body, but she fought like the most valiant warrior until she was 79. When she passed, I was in the midst of a very difficult pregnancy. I had miscarried one twin child, while on bedrest holding onto the second twin. Gram wanted in the worst way to last to see this baby. She died 2 1/2 months before my beautiful baby girl was born--- on the day that was my grandparents' wedding anniversary. I named my baby Katherine Anne, which means "Pure Grace." My daughter has grown to become a strong, independent, beautiful businesswoman; who also loves to knit.

Forty years ago today, that same Gram welcomed a baby granddaughter who's name is Elizabeth. She has wild red hair, big blue eyes and is the mother of two beautiful little boys. She lives on a farm, where her boys have learned to place eggs under their broody hen and welcome new chicks each spring. Just this morning, they hatched a new crop of Monarch butterflies.

And seventeen years ago today, seven years after Gram passed, when I was 35 years old; I got up in the morning and while getting ready to go to work, I had a heart attack. I had a job I adored that kept me traveling all over the US. I was speaking at national conferences, and testifying before state legislatures. I had a boy, aged 11, and my girl, aged 7. I also had a husband who was in a downward spiral of mental illness.

My story is not unlike anybody who might read this post. Nobody goes through life without difficult periods. Nobody. Trying very hard not to sound "sappy", July 19 is a day that I consider my second birthday. Because on this day, seventeen years ago, as the medical personnel went into overdrive all around me; I made a decision. I thought about my babies, and how much they needed a healthy parent. I thought about my Gram, and how hard she fought for her life, for so long. And I thought about how every day is a choice we make.

I worked hard to get well. I made some very difficult choices about my marriage and my career, and did a U-turn in my life. I have been remarried for 9 1/2 years now. My ex-husband is remarried, and I was a guest of honor at his wedding (with a corsage and everything.) The children are beautiful, productive adults who work in careers that are their passion. I am blessed with a loving family, and many, many caring friends. For sixteen years, families in my small community have entrusted their most precious children into my care and classroom for nine months of their lives.

My first birthday was the result of a choice my parents made. My second birthday was a choice that I made, and continue to make every day. On this, my seventeenth second birthday; my wish is for all of you. I wish that you will pause for a moment to feel gratitude for the many blessings that we all receive. And, I wish that you will remember that this, and every day, is a choice you can make. You may choose to make this a new day in your new life, just as I have.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weekend Recap

My weekend was a bit of a challenge. On Saturday, my husband and I went to Duluth and made those clothing exchanges that I blogged about previously. I settled on the one-size-smaller, but they really aren't stretched at all! Yay!

We went grocery shopping to restock my healthy choices. We parked in a handicapped parking spot so that I didn't have too far to walk to get into the store. When there are a multitude of handicapped parking spots available, I have no problem using one. The doctor gave me the paperwork to use one until Jan. 1, so he must feel that I "qualify." When spots are at a premium, I always feel there must be someone in more need than I, and I feel guilty using one.

When we got into the store, my husband insisted that I use one of their scooters. I had an emotional reaction to this. Even though there were several available, I feel I should leave them for someone who has greater need. Once I got going though, it was a great relief, as I know that my knee would never had made it on that concrete floor. I came out of the shopping experience in much better shape than I would have if I had tried to walk it.

I have an old sports injury in my lower back, and it was kicking up all weekend. I think I am trying to compensate for the knee, and that caused my lower back to spasm. It is still sore tonight, but I haven't let it stop me!

On Sunday, we took my parents to the Twin Cities (roughly 120 miles, one way) to see "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" at this theater http://www.jungletheater.com My son is the manager at this theater, and it was a FANTASTIC show! He suggested that we have lunch at the restaurant next door to the theater to avoid my mother and I having to walk too far. The restaurant was excellent, but the healthy choices were limited. I made what I would consider a moderate choice, but it still wouldn't be considered healthy. I gave bites of my food to my husband and mother, and ate about half of what was presented.

After the theater, we met my daughter-in-law, brother, and sister-in-law at a seafood restaurant. Again, I made a moderate choice, but not really healthy. I brought half of my meal home, but I was over my target range for the day.

It was a wonderful day! The show was fantastic, and the food delicious (albeit less healthy than I'd like.) My leg was quite swollen from hanging down all day, and I had to remove my brace after the play, as it was cutting into my leg. I was careful with it the rest of the trip, and enjoyed myself immensely!

I made a conscious decision not to let the food choices of yesterday derail my journey (as I might have in the past.) Today my choices have been better all the way around.

I met with the physical therapist today. I explained to her that I would like to join the adjoining fitness center, as I have to drive in to Duluth three times a week, anyway. I also told her that I have been working really hard on my exercises, and that I am determined to come out of this thing better than I went in. She had me remove my brace, watched me walk and measured my flexibility. She put me on the stationery bike, and with her cautioning me, I was off to the races! She kept telling me that she would need to rein me in! I told her I'm so determined, that I'll do whatever I can! My flexibility was 100 degrees, and she said that's about maxed out with the amount of swelling that is in the knee.

Once she watched me work, she helped me formulate a plan. I joined the gym, and she has set me up with two machines that I may use. I may do up to 15 minutes on the stationery bike, and an arm/leg bending machine (kind of like a recumbent bike, but the legs just go out and back.) On Thursday, we will be meeting in the pool, and she will give me some simple exercises to do there. I will mostly just be walking and doing simple leg raises under the water. She said that she knows that I will do my work, and so she is just going to turn me loose in the gym and check me before my surgery date of Aug. 25.

I turned in my application for the gym membership, and I was told that they have to get doctor approval. It seems that a previous heart attack requires doctor approval. I am hopeful that the doc will give the okey dokey and that I will be able to do my routine three times next week. It feels great to be exercising again!

The PT was telling me that I would be sore tonight, and she was right. She asked me if I'd been using ice. I told her I haven't been home enough to ice anything, but I had at least purchased one of those freezer packs. Sore never killed anyone, and I'm working the ibuprofen and ice pack now. It feels empowering to know I can be doing something toward improving my health again!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy to Make This Exchange!

So, yesterday, a buddy on SparkPeople.com, wrote about cleaning out her closet. Susie was getting rid of many sizes of clothing that are now too big for her. I was amazed and so happy for Susie! What a great feeling that must be!

As for me, I'm just a month and 20 pounds into this thing, and I've been avoiding purchasing any new clothing. I've been hoping that I would be moving down a size or two... eventually.

Due to my knee injury and beginning physical therapy on Monday, I've been contemplating asking the PT about setting me up in a program in the adjoining gym. My mother swims there several times per week. I'd like to try the pool (although me in a swimsuit is a shocking and painful experience for all.) My mom called me yesterday after she returned home from said pool. She said a lady there had a new swimsuit that she got on sale at a local store the day before. My mom thought it was such a pretty suit and knew that I'd been thinking about trying the pool. I told Mom I have a suit (hardly worn, obviously.) Mom said that if it has a skirt on it, I shouldn't wear it to the pool, as the chlorine will make the skirt grow to ankle length in no time. Rats! A swimsuit without a skirt is required?!?

Well, she talked me into going to the store to see about a suit on sale. They had one left. Hmmmm.... I didn't really want to try it on, as I have this humongous robo-leg brace now. I also looked at a swimsuit cover-up. " I better make this a size bigger than usual because I don't want a cover-up to be clingy when I'm wet." I also thought I should probably get a couple of stretchy bottoms to wear to therapy over the ding-dang brace. I picked up some stretchy navy crops and a black stretchy skort from the exercise clothing section, in my usual size.

I went to the check-out counter, and the clerk asked me if I'd like a dressing room. "Oh no," I said, "I know my size here, and besides I have a leg brace because I recently hurt my knee." A woman in the nightgown rack said, "Tell me about it," and I see a cane waving from behind the summer-weight nighties. The shopper volunteered that she had undergone a knee replacement. I inquired how the new knee was functioning? She said, "Terrible, it will never be the same. They offered to do it over, but I won't trust them to operate again." I shared that I had fallen down some stairs, and was having surgery in August. I said I was purchasing a swimsuit to try some water therapy. The woman's response was, "They tried that on me. I told them I haven't had a swimsuit on since my children were babies, and it ain't happening now." The thought popped into my head that if they told me I'd have to parade around the gym stark naked to get my knee back into shape, I'd probably do it. I'm willing to try anything they recommend to get myself moving again.

After that exchange, I asked the salesclerk if she could order the swimsuit for me in a size larger. Better to be safe than sorry when it comes to spandex. She checked and said she was sorry, that is the largest it comes. So I purchased the swimsuit, and the usual-sized bottoms, and the one-size-larger cover-up and made my way back out to my car.

As I was going through the process of getting my leg into the car, and hopping the rest of my body behind it, I saw a pickup truck pull up in front of the store. A guy jumped out, literally ran around to the back of the truck, get a step-stool, place it at the passenger side of the truck, and run to get his wife off the curb and assist her to the step-stool. It was the knee replacement customer.

Now, I'm not passing any judgement on that lady, but I am trying to learn from her. There was bitterness in her and blame toward the people who tried to give her a new knee. Sometimes these surgeries go awry, and I most certainly pray that my upcoming surgery goes well. But I think attitude has a lot to do with how successful a person's recovery is. This woman seemed angry about her bum knee, and angry that she didn't recover well, yet unwilling to follow the therapy suggestions that were offered to her.

This morning, I tried on the clothing that I purchased yesterday. The swimsuit (that I wanted to order in a larger size) fits perfectly. I couldn't wear it any larger. And the usual-sized clothes are loose! WHA?!?!?! Loose? I could keep them, but I don't want to be hoisting them up all the time I'm at therapy. I'll be very happy to take them back and exchange them for a slightly stretched one-size-smaller, thankyouverymuch. Yay for Susie, yay for me, and yay for you if you have enjoyed the thrill of moving down a size!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What the Surgeon Said

My husband went with me to see the surgeon today. He tugged and bent my knee every-which-way and carefully showed us the MRI results again. His opinion is that I have to get the MCL in shape before I have surgery on the other two injuries. The MCL is a "Class 2" tear, meaning more than 50% is torn off. He said that the location of the tear is the best possible spot, and that the ligament will try to heal itself. Unfortunately, when it tears, the ligament contracts, or gets very tight, limiting the movement of the knee. My knee was very stiff and sore when he tried to manipulate it. So, I am starting 4 weeks of physical therapy starting on Monday to get the MCL a bit more healed and flexible.

Surgery on the meniscus and ACL replacement will be on Aug. 25. The meniscus break is right at the border of where suturing is a possibility. He won't know if he can try to stitch it back together until he gets in there to see if there is blood flow at the break point. I have chosen to use a replacement ligament from a cadaver rather than taking a portion of my hamstring for the ACL repair.

I still cannot plan on working until October, and I contacted the Superintendent with that piece of cheery news today. I will be starting post-operative physical therapy on the Monday following my surgery. I will be receiving therapy 2-3 times per week, probably until the end of Sept. Depending upon my progress, the therapy sessions will be fewer after that time.

The surgeon said that I can expect to be fully released 7 months from now. It's a long road.

He put me in a new flexible brace today. I had a bit of difficulty with the fit. It seems my cute little leg is wedge shaped and the brace wants to slip down, no matter how tight we make it. My brother, husband and I put our thinking caps on, and we may have solved the problem by making the brace long enough that it sits on top of my foot, hence it can not longer slide down. I drove the car home (YAY!) which means I have a lot of my mobility back. I have three different exercises to do to strengthen my thigh muscles and stretch the MCL.

I am still sticking to my target range on my food plan, and looking forward to being more active with the new leg brace. I plan on inquiring at the therapy center about having a personal trainer work with me to set up an exercise plan at the adjacent gym. I'm not sure I can afford gym, trainer, and all the co-pays for therapy; but I would sure like to make the best use of this time as I am able.

I am determined to keep a positive attitude about this time, and hope to come out the other side of the tunnel in better shape and lighter!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Silver Lining

My visit with the orthopaedic doc yesterday confirmed his original diagnosis. My little express ride down the stairs has caused what he called a "catastrophic injury." The place where my ACL should have been was empty, the meniscus is shattered, and the MCL is "hanging by a thread." I will be seeing the surgeon on Tuesday. The doctor said I will probably be having surgery within the next two weeks to replace the missing ACL with one from a cadaver, attempt to suture together what they can of the meniscus, and take a better look at the MCL. He is saying two weeks of non-load-bearing, followed by a lot of rehab. He is putting the kibosh on my trip to Knoxville in Aug. to see my stepson graduate. He is also telling me that I cannot start my 30th year of teaching on time. He says I will need at least the month of September off. He said that full rehab will take 5 months. Okay, so much for the dark cloud.

Now, here's the silver lining. This accident happened during the one week each year when my family is all together. I have twin brothers who are 10 months younger than I. Yes, that's right, for two months out of every year, we are all the same age. We were in the same grade together in school. Raised as triplets. I live in northern Minnesota (from whence we come) and they live near each other in Phoenix. We have an additional brother who is 8 years younger than we are. (Family planning was NOT one of our parents' strong suits.) We elder three kids were old enough to bring our little bro with us everywhere. When I got married and started having my family, he would come and spend summers with me on the East Coast. This little bro lives in the Twin Cities, as do my two now-grown kids. The Twin Cities are about 120 miles from where I live. When my daughter got wind of my little accident, she put her two jobs on hold and came home for the week. She went back yesterday, and my son is coming for the weekend today. We are a very, very close knit family.

A few years ago, 17 years ago on July 19, when I was just 35 years old (with children ages 7 and 11) I had a heart attack. My brothers had just left from their annual visit when it happened. They weren't with me then, but they called frequently. So, I've had little bumps in the health department before. I know what it takes to rehab. I know that I can get better. And my family won't let me forget that.

The silver lining in all this is my wonderful family. I am usually the care-giver in family matters, the nurturer. As uncomfortable as it has been for me to need to ask for help, they have kept me active and laughing all week long. Yesterday, the doc noticed that I've put a little bend in my straight leg brace. He asked how it happened. I told him that my bros are in town so we HAD to take in a baseball game, and go on a tour of a local mansion, AND go out to a pub for music and a diet soda. My bros would hear nothing of leaving me back when there is fun to be had. They put my butt in a wheelchair and sweating, grunting and groaning have shoved me all over the city so I wouldn't miss a thing.

Last night we were racing through an empty shopping center while leaving the local brewhouse. I had my arms over my head and was squealing while my brother whipped me in a donut before going into the elevator. Mind you, we are over 50, but still having fun. Never once did they complain about having to drag out a wheelchair and haul me along. I said, "I don't want to be a pain in the butt." Young bro said, "You've been a pain in our butts all your life, why stop now? Get in the chair."

My wise-beyond-her-years daughter told me that sometimes I can be stubborn (Really? Me, stubborn??) and maybe this is just God's way of slowing me down for awhile again. I'm one of those people who sometimes needs a big hammer to get the message. When we were in the doc's office, she said, "My mom's been really working at getting fit, can you give her some suggestions how she can keep exercising while her leg is healing?" And he did.

Yeah, this is a bummer, but it is also a blessing. I've always appreciated my family, but times like this are a good reminder. This getting fit thing is a life-long journey; and it will slow me down, but it won't stop me. Don't stop, don't quit, never give up, and once in awhile take a gander at the silver lining and whip yourself a donut.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Only Get Better From Here

I'll be honest. The past two days have been difficult for me, food-wise. I tend to eat when stress is being relieved in my life (not during the actual stress event.) I have exceeded my food target range. My uncle survived triple bypass surgery on the 4th of July. This is great news and a wonderful relief as he had flat-lined twice in the past week. My five cousins and aunt came to my parents' house for a barbecue once my uncle was out of surgery and in his room. Instead of being able to help my folks with the cooking, serving, and clean-up; I was in a chair with my leg propped. My wonderful daughter took time off of her two jobs (in spite of me telling her I was okay) and unexpectedly drove 120 miles to spend a week caring for me. One of my brothers connected with another uncle, and drove a wheelchair 100 miles to bring it to me. Other people brought me food (not necessarily the best choices) and I ate it. I went over my target. It is so hard for me to need and have to ask for help. I'm supposed to be the care-giver, not the care-needer.

Yesterday, I saw the sports medicine / orthopaedic doctor. My daughter drove me and came into the room with me. The doc was very nice and spent good time with us. He listened to what happened during my fall, and manipulated my knee. He suspects I have torn my ACL, my MCL, and the meniscus. The doc was very understanding when I explained that I want to get the show on the road if repair is needed. I am going in this afternoon to have an MRI to confirm or revise his diagnosis. He explained to me that if it was just the MCL, it is possible that rehab and time could heal it. But, with the three injuries, it would seem that surgery is in my future.

Determined not to let this spoil my whole visit with my family visiting from Arizona, we went to our annual baseball game last night. I am a pain in the butt, because my bros had to ask about getting me in the wheelchair into the stadium and helping me up a few steps and storing the wheelchair. My leg was throbbing by the end of the game, but we had a good time. But, I also had a whole box of popcorn.... not the best.

Yesterday, the doc gave me a couple of exercises to keep the leg muscles from atrophying. My daughter is saying we'll get me some dumbbells to do upper-body exercises in the chair. This is a challenge, and it is going to be a challenge for some weeks to come. I am trying to stay positive. I am trying to look at this as a lesson to be learned. I am telling myself that if I can continue to get healthier while I am injured, that I will be able to continue my process as I get better. I am reminding myself that if I can figure out how to handle this, that perhaps I can help someone else through it in the future. I am telling myself that I will only get better from here (even if I will be having surgery.) Every day a little better, every day a little stronger.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Avoiding Negative Nellie

Well, after my last post, I had a bit of an accident.

Two of my three brothers live in Arizona. They come to visit once a year or so (sometimes they skip a year.) My third brother lives 120 miles to the south in the same Big City where my children reside. This is the week they are here. It's a lot of fun, but can be a lot of work to entertain and feed a crowd of a dozen people or so. They stay at my parents' house, but I drive in every day to help with the cooking and entertainment duties.

As I mentioned in my last post, my uncle suffered two heart attacks last week. During the first, he basically expired in the ambulance. They revived him, and he had another two days later. He is my father's only sibling, and so my parents have been spending quite a bit of time at the hospital. My uncle is in surgery as I am writing this, having quadruple bypass and perhaps a valve replacement. His five children have come from the corners of the states to be here.

On Friday, my mother was busy getting the house ready for the influx of visitors. Her foot slipped on the carpet while going down the stairs, and she took a tumble. She injured her leg below the knee in the calf muscle area. She refuses to seek medical treatment, and says she thinks she just "pulled the muscle."

So on Saturday, I went to try to help with the cooking and retrieving visitors from the airport and such. When the dinner dishes were done, and everybody was safely relaxing at my parents' home, I decided to head for home. They live in a raised ranch style home with an attached garage. Because the house is raised, you have to go down 4 steps to get into the garage. As I was leaving, I was reaching around the wall to hit the garage door opener button, while also calling over my shoulder for my dad to come and close the door once I was gone. He didn't hear me and said, "What?" as I was beginning my descent down the stairs. As I was pushing the button and calling back to him, my foot missed the step and down I tumbled.

My right leg folded back and slightly to the outside of my body at the knee during the fall. When I hit the concrete floor, the top of my body hit their car and went backwards over my leg. My knee was folded and wedged beneath the front bumper of the car. I hollered for help and everybody came running. They had to back the car out of the garage to get my leg unfolded. When they eventually got me upright, the knee completely gave way, as if there wasn't much holding the joint together.

I spent the night in the ER. X-rays showed nothing broken, but I almost certainly have soft tissue (ligament) damage. The doc put me in a full leg immobilizer and told me to contact an orthopedic surgeon at 8:00 on Tuesday after the holiday.


So, here I am. It seems this injury will take several weeks to resolve itself. There is the definite possibility of surgery, followed by therapy. I had been doing so ding-dong well! I know I'm on a lifetime journey here, and these speed-bumps will happen. My mother commented yesterday that it is like my efforts to lose weight are "cursed or something." I am choosing to believe that because this is a long journey, this is a lesson that I am meant to figure out.

So, now my challenge is to banish that Negative Nellie voice that wants to tell me that since I'm a forced couch potato that it doesn't make any difference what I eat? How can I exercise when I can hardly move? How do I keep the show on the road! And in the meantime, I'm hoping the orthopedic surgeon is a cutie....

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I'm Back!

Well, I had a wonderful visit with my kids! I stayed within my target range on my food choices with their help. They had put a lot of thought into restaurants that had good choices for me, yet were fun. We went to a Hibachi restaurant. You know the kind. You sit at a U shaped table around a grill. A chef comes out and puts on a show while stir-frying the meal. Knives twirling, flames flaring, and food flying! It was fun (our family is not the quiet, wallflower type) yet basically a meal of veggies and fish. I ate very little of the white rice they served, and brought half my meal home. We also went to a retro place that is famous for their mac and cheese. I ordered my mac and cheese with veggies and had the to-go box come with the meal. We made sushi at home one night with brown rice (doesn't stick as well as white rice, but healthier) and lots of veggies and fish.

I did not get in my aerobic exercise, but we weren't just sitting on the couch either. I exercised at the horse barn before heading out on my trip. The first day there, my daughter and her BF and I went to the zoo and walked the whole darn thing. The heat index was over 100 degrees, so I had to sit periodically in the shade. We bought water and stayed as hydrated as we could, but I think I still got a bit dehydrated. The second day, we went to a museum (air conditioned as heat index was dangerous.) We spend 5 1/2 hours in the museum walking around.

I feel pretty good about the way I handled the visit, but the scale seems stuck. Now, I have a pretty craptastic scale, but I think after my initial burst of weight loss, I seem to be just hanging in the same place. I guess it's good that I didn't gain on my mini-vacay, but it would have been nice to see a couple pounds disappear. I'm starting to believe that I just won't lose unless I exercise a lot more than I am currently able to (no matter how good I am with my food choices????) My exercise DVD is getting easier, and I think I will soon be able to move onto doing an additional segment. So that is a good thing, and maybe it will help to get that scale to move?

In the bad news department, on Tuesday, as I was in route to the city where my kids live, my uncle had a massive heart attack. He has had Type II Diabetes since 2008. He hadn't been feeling well for several days, but refused to go to the doctor. They had to transport him from our local hospital to a larger one 20 miles away. He crashed in the ambulance, but they were able to bring him back. By Thursday, he was off the ventilator, and sitting up in the bed and things were looking better. But Thursday night, he had another heart attack. On Friday, they did an angiogram, and found blockage in every artery and a bad valve. He is scheduled for open heart surgery on Monday. It is coincidence that all my siblings are arriving today for pre-arranged vacation over the week of the 4th. Now, my 5 cousins are here from the far corners of the US because their Dad is so ill. My own Dad is having a difficult time with this, as he is his only sibling, and possibly because I (his only daughter) had a heart attack 17 years ago when I was only 35.

I am confident after the visit to my kids' that I can keep within my food choice range, but I am unsure how the exercise department will go for the upcoming week. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Test Drive

Well, I had an unexpected day today. My mother had called me about taking her to an estate sale. This is a very large estate, and it the second time the house has been open. My mother purchased some very nice items at the first sale. After my morning exercise and healthy breakfast, I drove and picked her up. I didn't have time for lunch, but I grabbed a large apple and threw it into my bag for after the sale.

At the sale, my mom ran into a friend. She had another woman with her. As we were leaving the sale, the friend invited us to go "out for coffee" with them. She selected a little cafe. I was hungry, as I hadn't eaten lunch. The friend's friend hadn't eaten lunch either. I ordered a chef's salad with vinegar and oil and a to go box. I had a glass of water to drink. I immediately put half of the salad into the box. I asked for the salad dressing on the side and just dipped my fork into it as I ate. I used very little dressing.

After spending the rest of the afternoon with my folks, my mom said I should just stay for dinner. She was serving left over roast beef in the form of hot beef sandwiches. I had one slice of bread, about an ounce of beef (the smallest piece I could find in the pan) and just enough gravy to dampen the toast. I also had about a half a cup of cauliflower (no butter.) I ate the rest of my left over salad along with it. Not bad.

Tomorrow I am heading off to visit my kids. Today was a test drive of how to eat when I am away from home. If today was any indication, I should be okay when I'm at the kids'. I was pleased with my choices today.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another Nice Day, Hangin' In There

Well, this is a first. We had two, count 'em TWO, nice days... and on a weekend, to boot. My husband and I went to a local art fair, and then did a few errands. I bought an air popper for popcorn, and some new measuring cups and spoons. (I'm using more now that I'm measuring things.)

I made the Spark Recipe for Cola Chicken for dinner. I've made cola based barbeque sauce before, but I wasn't sure my husband would like it. He did, and said I could make it again. So, we added another recipe to the repetoire.

I have been doing my one mile walk via DVD every morning, and have remained beneath my target area; but my weight loss has stopped for now. I figured that once I got rid of the water weight, things would slow down, and they have. I am not discouraged yet, I've been down the road before. I also know that I shouldn't be weighing myself every day. I do feel that my exercise DVD is getting easier every day, and that is important. I am eating healthy, which is really what this is all about. My fitness plan is that I will start adding strength training a little at a time as my cardio improves.

I started making a list of things to pack for my visit to see my children. I have included some healthy muffins (breakfast food), healthy snacks, my walking DVD and exercise clothes. Still nervous about how this visit is going to go. My kids work some of the days and I will be out and about the city. Normally, I would grab a McD's slider and a sweet tea and call my meal done. Not this trip. I'm going to have to plan ahead for lunches on the go when I'm not at home.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Trying Out Some Nouveau Cuisine

It was a stunningly beautiful day where I live today. I had the windows open, the sun was shining, and I could hear the birds singing. We live where we have very few gorgeous days like today, and I appreciate them so much!

I exercised to my DVD and then set out to try some new recipes from the Spark Recipe app on my iPhone. I had tried the Skillet Lasagna the night before. Now, I like lasagna; but I'm not a great fan of soft cheeses. I come from a long line of lactose intolerant people (did you know that lactose intollerance is in your genes?) and I eat very limited dairy. I wasn't fond of the Skillet Lasagna, and I think the reason was because of the soft cheese that is in the recipe. Undaunted, I just told my husband that he could have the leftovers (I'd made a double batch) and that I wouldn't be repeating that recipe.

This morning, I tried again. I made the Low-fat Dark Chocolate muffins. Wowsers! We LOVED them! They are sweet, chewy, moist and delish! I tweeted my delight, and my daughter-in-law wants to try them when I visit this week. This is a recipe that I will make again, and probably again. I had one with my egg white and veggie omlet, and I was off to a good start on my day.

For dinner, I tried the Salsa Turkey burgers. Another winner! I had purchased pre-made, frozen turkey burgers in the past, and didn't care for them. The salsa, parmesan cheese (a hard cheese,) and the spices really made these burgers tasty! They will be repeated, and my husband was happy to hear that news.

It feels great to start finding healthy choices to add to my menu repetoire. One of my goals this summer is to find ways to make this new lifestyle do-able once I go back to school in the fall. Having recipes that are easy and quick to make, yet help me to hold to my new lifestyle are going to be a big part of the battle! Yay!

My son wants me to come for my visit a day earlier than I had planned this week. I'm excited about going (because we are going to a Twins game), yet it will give me a few more meals away from home than I was expecting. I'm planning on bringing my exercise DVD with me, and perhaps taking their little dog for a morning walk while I am visiting. I'm trying to plan the best I can so that I will be prepared for challenging moments during my visit.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Summer Project

Each summer I look for a project to keep myself occupied. This has been a theme for me since my nest emptied 6 years ago. I was very involved in my children's lives, and I found myself a bit lost when they went off to college. Six years ago, I decided to reawaken my interests in art, knitting and spinning; which had been on the back shelf for awhile. Each summer since, I've undertaken some sort of extensive art or knitting projects.

This summer is different. This summer, I decided my project will be me. Although weight has been an issue for me since I started having babies in 1983, I'm really starting to feel the effects of all this extra poundage. I am having trouble doing the things I want and like to do, physically. This is simply unacceptable to me. For the first time in my life, I feel the burden of this weight, and notice that it is causing me to change the way I live my life.

And so, on the first day of my summer vacation, I weighed myself and started keeping track of the things I was placing into my body.

I purchased a couple of weight-loss books for my Kindle, and read them. I found the books motivational, and I started doing a few exercises as well. One of the books I purchased was the Spark, which introduced me to a website.

That was three days ago. I reluctantly decided to set foot on the scale to see if I could get a starting point for myself on that website. I was shocked!!! In 16 days, I seemed to have misplaced 15 pounds! I stepped on the darned thing again today and was doubly shocked to discover another 4 were gone!

Now, I haven't just fallen off the old turnip truck here, and I know that this dramatic weight loss will come to a screeching halt, or at least slow-down. But, I had a surprising reaction to this news today. While I was squinting and staring at the needle on the scale, wiggling to and fro to see if it was somehow hung up, I felt a twinge of panic. Holy cow! This is really happening! NOW WHAT?!?!?! I'm not sure I would know how to be a thin person! This massive layer of fat seems to be a protective suit for me. Once I self-talked myself into believing I could adjust to a thinner body, I noticed another dark feeling lurking around the corner. I'm very used to failing when it comes to my weight. And there it was, Failure, peeking around the corner of the bathroom door. Well, I picked up my hairbrush and chased that badboy down the hall. But I know he still is lurking in my subconscious, and I'll have to keep an eye on him.

I am anxious about the next two weeks. I will be going to visit my children next week for a few days. They like to take me to their favorite eating joints when I'm there for a visit. I've already given them a heads-up that Mom will be foregoing the infamous "Bucket of Tots" with cheese sauce this trip and may be looking for those weird veg-e-table thingies. When I get back from visiting my kids, I will have a boatload of family in town for a week. That means eating at my parents' house, taking my guests to their favorite burger joint (a must, every time they visit), ballgames, and night-time popcorn over board games. It will be a test, to be sure.

Monday, June 13, 2011

June is Bustin' Out All Over

My first week of summer vacation has flown by! I had one day of laziness within a series of very busy days. 

I spent Monday with my mother, as my dad was out fishing with a friend.  We had intended to go to a very ritzy estate sale, but we were surprised by a visit from my mother's aunt and cousin.  I had not seen this particular cousin since I was a teenager, so we had much catching up to do.  My great-aunt has recently had a series of health issues, but she is just as spunky as ever. 

On Tuesday, I put in my first double-class shift at the Therapeutic Riding facility. (See previous post) I must say, it is quite a workout for a person my size to be walking in eight inches of sand for a couple of hours. I was a side-walker for the first class, and lead the horse for the second class.  We have a wonderful instructor, nice clients, and good horses.  It is good exercise for me, as I am busy thinking about all that is going on rather than paying attention to how much I'm huffing and puffing and sweating.

Wednesday was a lazy day for me.  I was sore and tired from my day at the horse barn.  I knew I had family arriving the next day, and that the rest of the week would be hectic.  I spent some time knitting, reading, and generally relaxing.  
I've made two of these diagonal washcloths in the past week.  This orange/yellow/pink one for Katie's new sunny kitchen, and a green/brown/cream one for my mom.
Katie loves giraffes, so I made this giraffe and tree patterned dishrag for her in a bright orange color. She doesn't have a dishwasher in her new apartment, so I imagine these washrags will get a lot of use!

On Thursday, my sister-in-law and nephew arrived from Arizona.  My nephew was headed to Camp Buckskin out of Ely for a month of camping.  This is a very big deal for him, his first camping experience, and the longest he has ever been away from home.  Camp Buckskin is a camp for children with disabilities, such as my nephew's Asperger's Syndrome. I spent the lion's share of each day with my parents, sister-in-law, and nephew every day through Sunday. I drove my nephew to camp on Sunday along with my dad and his mom.  I most sincerely hope that this camp will be a very valuable learning experience for him!


In addition to spending long days with family, I squeezed in a baby shower on Saturday with my daughter-in-law, and part of today (Monday) with my daughter.  My daughter had been home for a bachelorette party honoring a friend.   We had a nice lunch at Mexico Lindo before she headed out!
We took this picture just before Katie headed for home today.  She had a used dinette set in her car that Bob had found for her new apartment!  I hope to get a chance to spend some time visiting my kids this summer.  I don't get to see them nearly often enough for my tastes.  My son is going to help me refine my web presence, and my daughter says she will go yarn shop hopping with me! 


Tomorrow, it is back to the horse barn for another 3 1/2 hour session.  I hope to get my plants into my planters, as it seems that summer has finally arrived in the northwoods!




Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!