Thursday, September 17, 2020

Thankful Thursday - Lots of family time, cake and other excitement

 Another week has passed and more bits of happiness to celebrate.

- Our Pasadena son and DIL have stayed with us for a week to avoid breathing really bad air and will stay at least through the weekend. They both are telecommuting just as they were at their house. The dog is ecstatic to have more people to pet her! Haven’t had this long a visit with them since moving back to California.

- On Sunday late afternoon we FaceTimed with the Berkeley family and mostly had a long visit with our almost 4 year old granddaughter who was quite chatty but then would just walk away for a bit and come back with a new topic, activity to show us or having gone to the bathroom lol. Her mom was cooking nearby and would chat till she came back. Almost like being there without the hugs and snuggles though.

- No more walking boot! Can’t do a happy dance yet though. And was able to get a flu shot. Yeah for health.

- To use up molasses I made a gingerbread cake with a lower calorie recipe. We had it for the “kids” afternoon work break or tea time as they call it. Light and delicious even though I was short on molasses so subbed brown sugar for white to up the flavor.

- Wore the the second of two new Fall tops I bought recently and really like it. With shorts both for the weather and morning PT workout.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Happiness this week along with horrific fires, a pandemic ...

On the one hand we have the West coast on fire with air unbreathable in many places, pandemic closures and life changes with no end able to be predicted - cue up the music from a Jaws and send in the hoards of locusts or who knows what is next. On the other hand, although I don’t keep a gratitude journal I’m trying hard to find bits of happiness.

Btw, we are being extra cautious about avoiding Covid risk because of age, my experience 16 years ago of virus caused heart inflammation and acute congestive heart failed (fully recovered but it took years) and that affecting some Covid patients, and hubby’s auto immune caused overactive immune system putting him at risk. We are lucky we can take great care but it makes little bits of happiness more important to note and harder to find as we are doing less.

- I was quite pleased with the quality of physical therapy provided in my first two visits and am happy to be on my way with that. Moving to just a cane to help with balance as I focus on being able to walk correctly again.

- I had my women’s club schedule a practice Zoom session for those who are new to it or simply a bit uncomfortable. We had 5 log in and found one who needs more assistance so I was pleased we did it. Our primary program speaker joined us to make sure we coul enable him to share docs on the screen.

- Then we had our first general club meeting since March and it went very well. Great program about the Ventura County Family Justice Center which is a one stop shop for victims and survivors of crime. We stayed on to chat after the program and got some more ideas for programs (emergency preparedness seems most apt in the midst of fires), an on line mystery theater where you each get roles, online crafting and so on. Attendance was 50% so we need to grow that but I am very pleased.

- The dog slept past 4:30 am most days which makes me very happy although being old girls together I do understand the call of the bladder.

- We have the space to provide our local son and DIL with a place to stay and work so they could escape the highly unhealthy smoke filled air in Pasadena. We head their way when fires are out here and they come here.

- The dog got a haircut today that cost almost 3 times what my garage stylist charged but she looks great and was quite happy when I picked her up.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

My experience with bunion surgery: Recovery with weight bearing (Part 3)

 Week 4 to 6:

- Got used to walking in the boot with 2 crutches and just a little weight on foot. Graduated to more weight and one crutch and then to none part of the time. Started walking a bit outside to build my muscles back up in my affected leg. 

- Found out I lost 4 pounds mostly by not being able to indulge my Starbucks latte and cookie afternoon habit but some muscle loss too. Not complaining lol.

- Got really bored and really tired of reading and laying around. Initially not able to sit with my foot down for long as it still swells and needs to be elevated but that got better. Did start taking showers - bliss. Was really glad we have grab bars, a no slip shower floor and the borrowed shower seat for when I need to wash my feet.

Week 7 & 8:

- The bone is healed although the incision and bottom of foot are still tender and my foot not very flexible. I am walking a bit wonky but able to get up in middle of night with only one crutch for balance at the start of week 7 and no crutch by         No more knee scooter!

- Wearing a compression ankle sock and foam toe separator except at night. Weaning off of walking boot with a schedule - 1 hour 2 x a day for 3 days then 2 hours, etc. My leg muscles are weary which denotes progress. 

- Can drive (left foot operated on), run errands, cook and do chores - Yeah! 

- We were able to put almost all furniture back in place and store away all the special equipment and supplies except for the rental items that will be returned soon. It cost much less to rent them by to month - less than the 2 week fee - so I have some time yet to get them back.

- Physical therapy twice a week for now. 

EDIT: I ended up getting a cane to help with walking without the boot. I was wobbling from a week ankle and not taking a normal length step with my unaffected foot but the cane solved that.

Monday, September 7, 2020

My experience with bunion surgery: Recovery while no weight bearing (Part 2)

 Surgery Day:

In my case this was outpatient surgery that only required a sedative and nerve block from the knee down. Surgery was quick as was recovery room time. 

I was able to get in the car with the seat back as far as possible, support from the nurse, and having practiced the move required to not bang my foot! I also was able to leverage out of the car with Hubby's help and use the knee scooter as we had practiced to get in the house and into bed.

So the outpatient surgery is over. Now what? 

Well I definitely cannot put my foot down as there is no weight bearing for the first 3 weeks.

Week 1:

- This was the most painful part especially the first 3 to 4 days. Painkiller plus anti-nausea patch, Ibuprofen to reduce swelling, icing as directed, elevating my foot religiously, sleeping a lot. Washed up only and washed my hair in the kitchen sink. 

- Day 5 saw the Dr. and the bandaging came off and the cast went on. I quite easily scootered in and out of the office. Quick improvement from first couple of days.

Week 2 & 3: 

- Found that my knee started hurting now that I was scooting around a lot more. We padded the scooter with foam and that helped but I also had to use it less. Other leg got tired.

- Did not feel confident trying to take a shower so continued with sponge baths and kitchen sink shampoos. Continued icing, elevating and at night first painkiller and then just Tylenol. Had to stop Ibuprofen due to it bothering my stomach but icing and elevation do the same thing.

- Doing Zoom meetings and FaceTime calls from the couch with my foot up and my iPad on the bed tray.

- Dr. removed cast and I started wearing the walking boot except at night or when resting on couch. You also use a little foam toe separator which wouldn't stay on so I added a lightweight sock and that worked and also protected the tender incision. Started putting lotion with vitamin E on incision and foot.

Not bad for just 3 weeks from surgery!

Sunday, September 6, 2020

My experience with bunion surgery: Preparing for surgery (Part 1)

 I've had several people mention that they may have bunion surgery in the future so I thought I'd share some of my personal experience with preparation and recovery. There are lots of different types of bunion surgery and protocols so take this for what it is - one person's experience. 

I am glad I had the surgery as once fully recovered  walking longer distances should be pain free.

What was they type of surgery I had? A Lapidus Bunionectomy. 

"A Lapidus bunionectomy is a procedure in which the first metatarsal bone is fixated to the medial cuneiform bone with a plate and screws to stabilize and correct a moderate to severe bunion.  The procedure involves removing a small wedge of bone at the base of the metatarsal to allow for reduction of the bunion.  Fusing the joint at the base of the metatarsal helps prevent any possible return of the deformity."

A sample x-ray of what they do - not my foot!

My before surgery prep for recovery:

- I read online about recommendations for what you will need and what to try ahead of time. My Dr. is a good surgeon but not great on detailed info about anything but surgery. Lots of good info available though.

- Clearly you need a caretaker for the early weeks. I'm lucky I had a live in one and thus not only I but also our dog were taken care of.

- Make sure you have clothes and sleepwear that will fit over a very bulky bandage almost to your knee, then a cast and then a walking boot. You will also need shoes that can be loosened to fit your still swollen foot when you reach that stage. I wore very loose crop PJ bottoms to the hospital. It helped with clothes that it was warm weather but I had few options until I got the removable walking boot.

- I rented a knee scooter and crutches. Borrowed a shower chair. Bought Ibuprofen, a reusable ice pack and cover, a reading pillow, a folding bed table for eating (which I ended up using when on the couch), lotion with vitamin E for my incision scar, a shower cover for the foot and leg, Got out a water bottle to make sure I drank enough to battle opioid side effects.

- We picked up my pain prescription ahead of time. I should have also gotten an anti-nausea patch prescription ahead of time as I know opioid painkillers make me nauseous. Would have save the surgery day evening scramble to get that after I threw up.

- We arranged a couch area so I could be out of bed each day from the beginning. We set up a charging station, a small table I could reach laying down, 2 pillows for elevating my foot, Made room to get to the couch with the knee scooter and practiced. Covered the couch so no blood would get on it. 

- We set up the guest bedroom. Again cleared it to make room for using the knee scooter and practiced. Untucked the sheets so I could set up 2 pillows for foot elevation and to keep the recovering foot from being under the covers.

- We decided the guest bath was the best for access and safety. Set it up with everything I would use. Practiced how to maneuver the knee scooter and how to leverage myself on and off the toilet with just one leg available.

- I practiced getting over the front door threshold with the knee scooter so when I came home there wouldn't be a problem.

- We stocked up on food and I downloaded a lot of easy reading books onto my Kindle.

- Realize most of your shoes won't fit your still swollen boot once you can put on a shoe. It is summer and I have a pair of very adjustable sandals were the only thing that worked once I needed to wear one.

- What else would I do next time? I’d get a small cart to load up and push with one hand while using the scooter or a crutch. It was tiring to carry things back and forth with one hand. I’d make sure we had more meals in the freezer. I’d expect that I would be very tired during the day and need naps. I’d find out how to keep doing leg and shoulder stretches and work harder on my posture.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Heat wave

 Gosh it is hot here in S Cal with three days of extreme heat warnings and possible power outages. Tomorrow it is supposed to be 100 here in my coastal plane town and many degrees hotter inland. Once again I give great thanks to the inventor of air conditioning.

I’ve been thinking about what new experiences I can credit to the pandemic and came up with a short list. Zoom of course. Little or no wait for doctors appointments. Getting a professional haircut in my garage. Fancy take out including a cocktail in a plastic bottle. Lots of shortages in the grocery and drugstore for months. Wearing a mask and having a collection of them. Quickly using a state rest stop while wearing a mask and gloves and supplying my own toilet paper. Tracking infection and death rate public health scorecards. Having surgery with no loved one being able to wait with me before and after. Handing off my dog in the parking lot for vet visits. There are probably a few more but that captures the last six months on the new experiences side. We all know the losses side of the equation.

Trying to feel like my days aren’t just oozing away from me has led me to creating a must do and want to do plan for the day. It really helped today in that I feel like I used my day pretty well. Going to keep trying that short term focus approach.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

That was a nice surprise

 I went to the podiatrist today for my 6 week checkup and physical therapy referral. I thought I had to use The Boot for four more weeks but he said I needed to wean myself off of it within two weeks as the bone has healed. My foot is still swollen and not flexible but now I have a compression stocking to wear and I can actually put a sandal on and walk a bit using one crutch to help. What a nice surprise.

The tops I ordered didn’t fit so I ordered a bunch of different ones today. I’m embracing casual instead of smart casual. Thanks social distancing and nothing to do but grocery shop and talk to people on Zoom or FaceTime! Did have a fun board meeting via zoom this morning. 

Getting a haircut in our garage tomorrow. Fingers crossed. 

Trying to come up with a list of ideas to keep me feeling positive the rest of this strange year. Things to do that don’t feel like chores. Do you have ideas?