Saturday, May 24, 2014

First Outpatient Physical Therapy, Dave and Marcia, Memorial Day

Thursday, May 22nd:
  
I went for my first outpatient physical therapy appointment; and, it turned out to be the same physical therapist who I'd seen last summer just before I left for my RV adventure.  Aimee, P.T. had told me at that time that I should make arrangements for the surgery; but I wanted to head out so put it off.  Now that I've done it, I realize I could have avoided lots of pain if I'd had it sooner. Oh well, live and learn.

Aimee was impressed with my abilities to both bend and flex my right knee.  She did, however, 'scold' me for doing so much walking.  I'd been doing more than a half mile a day walking around the neighborhood, during which I felt fine; but suffered later in the day.  She said to get back to spending most of my time sitting or lying with ice on my knee.  She reminded me that there's only a small window of opportunity (6-8 weeks) for recovering full functionality of the knee; but there's lots of time (later) to build the muscles back up.

After the PT appointment I drove to a nice restaurant in Roseville to meet Dave and Marcia, my great RV and Blog friends.  We had a great lunch ('thank you,' Dave) and a super visit.  They're going to be here in the Sacramento area for several more weeks; so we'll have more opportunities for get togethers; next lunch is my treat!

Saturday - Memorial Day weekend:

Since I've been more diligent about the rest and relaxation of this rehab, I've been really taking advantage of my Netflix subscription.  I'm really not sure that Netflix is worth the monthly fee while I'm out on the road.  My Jetpack doesn't stream movies well and wifi coverage in RV Parks is a little iffy.  But, here I have fantastic wifi and can stream movies and TV shows to my hear's desire.

Yesterday, I watched "Emperor,"  a movie about the end of WWII in the Pacific; when Douglas MacArthur and our military moved into Japan, as conquerers, to round up war criminals and rebuild the Japanese government.  I'm a history buff and loved learning a lot about a segment of history I knew very little about.  My dad spent his WWII time in the Pacific theater and gave my brother, Jim, and I lots of history lessons about his experiences with General MacArthur during the war; but nothing about after the war.  MacArthur is played by Tommy Lee Jones.  Matthew  Fox played General Bonner Fellows, who was tasked by MacArthur and President Truman, to investigate and determine whether Emperor Hirohito (the emperor was, at that time, considered a 'god' by the Japanese people) was personally responsible for Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war on the United States.  I won't give away the outcome.  Suffice it to say, I found the movie interesting and fascinating.

Today begins the Memorial Day weekend so it was appropriate to watch that movie at this time.  Kari's house will be a beehive of activity all weekend.  Their whole family, except Addison, will be here within minutes.  There are lots of activities planned and it should be lots of family fun.  They've rented a power boat for all day tomorrow for tube-water-skiing on Folsom Lake (about 9 miles from here); I'm going to pass on that activity I think; or, maybe I'll go for a short time, then drive my car home and not be out there all day.

There's food to plan, who's doing what when?  Should be lots of fun.  And, I hope all of you will also have a nice memorial weekend.

Thank You to all our military, who make / have made it possible for us to enjoy our wonderful Country and this wonderful weekend.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Instant Entertainment . . . Thanks, YouTube

As I sit on my bed to ice my knee after doing my rehab exercises, occasionally I click on YouTube for some "instant entertainment."  Yesterday, I checked out a video I hadn't watched for a long time and found that I'd missed a very interesting linguistics point.  This is a video of baby twins communicating with one another.  It's so cute, but what I find even more interesting is the inflections in their communication - certainly pointing out their burgeoning communication skills.  Notice how they formulate questions and answers.

Reminded me of when my kids were learning to talk.  We didn't make up 'baby-talk' words and phrases because we found that just listening to toddlers attempt to use the correct wordage and pronunciation is often much more amusing than 'baby-talk.' An example that comes to mind is when Spencer learned to wish somebody well after they'd sneezed, he offered, "God blush you!"

Do you have any cute examples of your kids learning to talk?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rehab and "Old" RV Friends

I haven't been writing many posts because it would be redundant to a great extent.  I'm still in my daughter's house in beautiful El Dorado Hills, about 20 miles East of Sacramento off I-50.  I continue to progress in my rehab  from Total Knee Arthroplasty, 4 weeks ago.  Everyday, I walk here in the neighborhood and I drive Petunia Smart car almost every day; although I notice that I get tired pretty rapidly.  Petunia doesn't have cruise control so I have to keep my right foot on the gas / brake pedals.  It's not difficult, but tiring.  So, for the time being, I think my auto adventures will be shorter than 20 miles or so.

Life in my daughter's family is busy, to say the least.  David and Kari are both actively involved in all their children's lives.  Currently there are only four kids at home; but, the activity level is incredible.  The triplets are coming to the end of their education in a Charter School 20 miles from home.  So there's the activity of getting them there and back every day.  Holland (20) is working as a nanny for a young family consisting of four boys under the age of five.  David and Kari manage an unbelievable schedule of family activities, as well as their own work and her EPIC Tri  - triathlon club - she is the co-founder.  David is one of the most actively-involved husbands and fathers you're likely to come across; he's simply fantastic.  They share all house and children activity equally. And, then there's her personal training that goes on throughout her busy life - she's an "Ironman" several times over.

One of the greatest 'perks' of the RV lifestyle and writing a blog is that I meet so many wonderful people, who often become good friends.  Last summer, while I was in Oregon, I met RV-lifers and bloggers extraordinaire, Dave and Marcia, of Going RVway.  They came to visit me at my campsite at Crater Lake.
What a gorgeous landmark!
Dave and Marcia Summer 2013 at Crater Lake

If you're not familiar with Dave and Marcia's recent trials and tribulations, do check out their blog for details of their year so far.
Dave's parents and family members live here in the Sacramento area and they're here visiting; so we're going to meet for lunch tomorrow in Roseville.  I'm looking forward to it and hope to have some nice photos to share afterwards.

Have a great day!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Rehab Progress - 23 Days

Yes, the home health nurse and physical therapist have signed off on my need for in-home therapy.  I will need to go to outpatient physical therapy and I'll also have to go to a Kaiser lab for blood draws as I continue Coumadin therapy for the near future.

Coumadin therapy is indicated post-operatively to prevent blood clots from forming in the circulatory system; blood clots can have disastrous results. I have a Coumadin therapy Kaiser pharmacist who has been monitoring the results of blood draws done by the home health nurse.  In the new future, each time I go to the Lab for a draw, the results will be given my Coumadin pharmacist and she'll call me with specific instructions regarding the daily dosage of Coumadin (Warfarin).  It's expected that I'll continue with this therapy for 4-6 weeks.  I'd never had to be involved in this form of therapy before; and, I have been a little nervous about the need for this drug.  It's can be a very dangerous therapeutic - it's purpose is to prevent or resolve blood clots wherever they might form in the body.  It is for that reason that the therapy also makes possible uncontrollable bleeding due to the longer blot clotting time. I talk with the pharmacist every 2-3 days so we can stay on top of the changes in blood clotting time.  I'm hoping that since I have been able to be much more active than earlier expected, I'll not need to stay on this regimen.  Physical activity is very beneficial for protecting the body from forming blood clots - and I like the natural formula instead of the Coumadin pharmaceutical treatment.

Example exercises . . .
Visual of a few of the exercises in my routine
This knee flexion exercise was very difficult the first few times I'd done it; but, I'm getting that knee to bend (flex) so much better after only four days of this movement.

I have been diligent about the exercises prescribed.  As I've mentioned previously, some of the flexion and extension exercises feel like a cruel torture routine; however, I'm beginning to notice that they're becoming easier and the measurable degree of flexion (bending the knee) and extension (straightening the knee) are improving rapidly.  Each day I get more excited about the prospect of being able to squat, kneel, sit cross-legged on the floor, etc.  I'm determined to get as close to perfect mobility as I can.

Before surgery I'd been told that it would be between 4 - 6 months before I could contemplate heading out on the road again in Floribunda to pick up where I left off in this adventure to get to know North America.  I think that time estimate is going to be shortened; so, now I need to start meditating regarding when, where, what I want to do in the not too-distant future.

The first big advancement today was that I successfully walked upstairs and downstairs utilizing both legs, concentrating on NOT limping.  Over the past two years more and more I needed to follow the little jingle:  "Up with the good leg; down with the bad," meaning taking one step at a time to avoid a much pain as possible.  That way of climbing up or down stairs had become such a habit, I did it without conscious thought.  Today I was able to go up and down the 16 steps between the first and upper floors in Kari's house. Left, right, left, right.  And the same with descending.  I did that exercise three different times during the day.

The second big news for me today (Wednesday) was that I jumped into Petunia Smart Car and drove around the block to see how driving affected my right leg / knee. The trial run was 'a piece of cake,' as they say; so about 30 minutes after my trial drive, I actually drove to the supermarket and did some shopping.  I was quite tired when I got back to Kari's; so, I jumped on my bed and iced my knee; it felt better within about 20 minutes.  I didn't run into any issue when it came to getting in or out of the car - my mobility is so much better than it was just before surgery; I'm so thankful.  What I did notice was that my right leg and knee tired easily as I pushed on the gas.  Because of that I've decided it'll be a while before I'll be able to drive any distances.  But, short hops appear to be okay.  Petunia Smart Car doesn't have cruise control, which would be greatly appreciated at this point.  Thankfully, Floribunda does and I routinely use it on the freeways and highways.

My brother, Jim, called earlier this week, saying that he and his partner, Bonnie, would like to come for a visit (from Santa Cruz) this coming weekend.  I'm really looking forward to seeing him and getting caught up - we haven't seen each other for over a year.
Santa Cruz Boardwalk and main beach
Gorgeous coastline - residential section of Santa Cruz
Twilight shot of Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  Jim's partner, Bonnie, retired recently from her position as Archivist for the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  She is the authority regarding the history of this attraction that never seems to lose its popularity.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday

Yesterday marked three weeks of recovery from total knee surgery.  Yesterday was also the day that I was discharged from home health and physical therapy visits.  I'll be starting physical therapy appointments at a local Kaiser facility and hopefully will be driving my car in the not-to-distant future.  As for heading out in Floribunda, that may take a while.

Being here at my daughter's house for this time is proving to be a wonderful reintroduction to the worlds of, not only my own kids, but those of my grandchildren as well.  I cannot impress on you how fast time flies regarding this grandmother and her grandchildren.  And, the feeling has become so prominent with the recent marriage proposal and engagement of Landon and Quinn. 

Then there's Addison who's living in Colorado Springs, where she's a 4th grade teacher fulfilling her Teach For America 2-year contract.  Her interest in public education is turning towards educational policy; her plan now is to pursue a master's degree in that field of study.  Addy's coming 'home' for the summer; during her stay here she'll be in an intern program in Sacramento, working and learning with the California State government in lobbying for advancements in California public education policy.

Holland has returned from her study period in Germany and will be entering Cal State Sacramento in the Fall 2014.  Her "before college" ambition is to become a public school counselor.  We'll see if that ambition changes as she experiences university life.

The triplets (Spencer, Avery and Tate) will be graduating from 8th grade next month; they'll all be matriculating in Oakridge High School in El Dorado Hills.  Last, but certainly not least, my son, Jeff's twins, Malia and Samantha, will also be graduating from 8th grade and entering high school in the Fall up in northern California.  I'm planning on moving my RV up to their house as soon as I can manage it - to spend some quality time with that part of my family.

I'm feeling a little nostalgic - they're not little kids any more.  Each has his/her individual personality, intelligence and energy; I feel confidant they'll all do well in whatever they decide is their life's ambition.

Spencer and Mom/Mimi on Easter Sunday - the day before surgery and a few days before Spencer 
returned "home" to Brussels, Belgium
Mimi and Avery on Mother's Day

And, finally, another antic of Bailey with the fractured pelvis - she climbed up on the arm of the Lazy Boy to gain access to Eleanor's food on my bedside table!

That's all for today!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day 2014


Oh, yes, Happy Mother's Day to all mothers  old and young.  I hope all of your have had a fabulous day, Mother's Day 2014.  What a nice Mother's Day weekend I've had. Life in my daughter's household is always busy but this weekend was wonderful.  My granddaughter, Quinn, and her new fiancĂ© arrived late Thursday night after having fought the traffic  getting out of the San Jose / Santa Clara area up through the nightly Sacramento commute  traffic and east to El Dorado Hills.

On Friday and Saturday a "wedding planning" contingent went out to visit potential venues for Quinn and Landon's wedding in October 2015. For those who haven't gone through the wedding planning process, it's quite an involved experience.  David and Kari have 6 children; Quinn is only the first to be married.  So, David and Kari have spent a considerable amount of time discussing how they'll handle the wedding planning for all their children.  In order to be fair, they've come up with what they're willing to spend for each wedding celebration.  They've also let the kids know that their monetary gift can be used for the wedding itself or for other necessities the newly-weds might have.  And, like many activities in a large family, each of their children knows that s/he will be responsible for any monies spent over and above the agreed-upon amount.  Quinn and Landon have tentatively decided on a location for the nuptials and reception; now they entered into the "let-the-information-sink-in" phase; for when they make a commitment they'll need to make a 20% deposit for the venue to be saved for their use on their special day.

Also occurring this weekend was the arrival of a dear family friend from Ohio.  I hadn't seen Lisa for about five years; she's a lovely young woman who graduated from college last June and is now a healthcare advisor in a large hospital in Cleveland.  So, she was included in the wedding talk that's been going on all weekend.

Today, Kari and I were inundated with wonderful cards and wishes celebrating our special day.  We all went out to lunch this afternoon, 10 of us, and enjoyed a delicious repast  at a beautiful indoor/outdoor restaurant, The Yard House in Roseville.  After lunch we went to the Roseville Mall for a little sopping en masse; I didn't hear one complaint from any of the three men accompanying us.
Quinn bought a dress she'll wear for her engagement party in June.  Kari bought some stylish active wear.  She lives in exercise togs - why not have a few really classy outfits?

It was my first excursion out and walking any distance since my surgery; I have to say it was very enjoyable - however, just a little tiring.  I headed straight to my bedroom to lie flat and rest my weary knee and leg; it was all worth it!

I spoke with Jeff and Alice and loved all the wonderful sentiments they shared with this mom.  I also received a beautiful animated card from Spencer in Brussels.  The day has been perfect.

Here's a Mother's Day poem I found; it's certainly an accurate wish for my daughter an daughter-in-law.  They are very precious to me:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Knee - d an Update?

Yesterday Kari drove me to my first post-op visit with the Orthopedic Surgeon, in which he (Harold Jackson, MD) assured me that I'm doing very well.  He removed the staples (about 25 of them) and said that I could get the incision wet this afternoon.  I have so much experience in Orthopedic Surgery, but not much from this side of the knife!  Having worked in surgery for many years, I know lots about the procedures themselves; but not much, if any at all, about the recovery process.  And, much of the recovery experience is subjective - different for everybody - so it's not necessarily advantageous to compare notes with others who've had this surgery; however, I think everybody does compare, at least a little.

The home health nurse, Cindy, who has been visiting me here at Kari's, is, herself, a Total Knee Replacement 'survivor.'  She had the surgery about two years ago and likes to compare notes with me.  Yesterday, she rolled up her pants leg to show me her scar, which is really not bad at all.  My incision line looks rather yucky at this time; I know it will fade and become less angry looking.
The 'hole' near my shorts is from the drain that was placed during surgery - and removed before I left the hospital.

Dr. Jackson took out his trusty instrument for measuring the degrees of flexion (bending) and extension (straightening) of my knee.  Those torture exercise sessions I've been having a couple or three times each day are really beginning to pay off.  Before surgery, my right knee had developed quite a deformity, where I could not with bend or extend my knee through very many degrees.  When I stood with both legs as straight as I could make them, my right knee jutted out almost two inches in front of my left.  Now, as I stand and look down, both knees are in the same alignment.  Yippee!

More difficult is flexion (bending); Dr. Jackson had me sit in a chair and draw my right knee as far back towards the chair as I could.  He measured the degree of flexion at 90 degrees (a right angle) and said that is excellent progress as this stage of the game.  I'll continue to be diligent about all my at-home exercises to increase that flexion degree to as much as will be possible with  artificial knee components.

I'm anxious to get back to the gym and swimming pool.  Swimming is actually my favorite form of exercise; the doc said I can swim this week and that it's a desirable form of exercise because of the buoyancy provided by water, making all exercises less traumatic.


OK, enough knee news!  My newly-engaged granddaughter, Quinn, is coming home this weekend; she and my daughter, Kari, have appointments to view several venues for her wedding.  As of now, the wedding date is in October, 2015; so, they have lots of time to make decisions and get things done for a beautiful wedding.
This was Quinn Easter morning - before Landon popped the 
big question at Easter dinner
The Duane siblings with Landon, the groom-to-be
L to R: Spencer, Avery, Addison, Holland, Tate, Quinn, and Landon

Monday, May 5, 2014

Two Weeks and Counting

It's nice to be able to say that I've reached the two-week point in my post op course with no set-backs or problems.  The physical therapist was here this morning and says I'm doing well.  I do have to say that a couple of the exercises that I do are really torture.  Vince (PT) says that they're really doing what they're supposed to when, after the exercise torture, within seconds the pain level goes down to '0.' Last week that wasn't the case; after doing a set of exercises I'd have to ice my knee for about 20 minutes before the pain went away.

The proof of the pudding is the measured degrees of flexion (bending) and extension (straightening) of my knee.  The most difficult for me is the flexion; last week I'd attained 70 degrees - not quite a right angle.  This morning that figure was 85 degrees.  Vince says that's great for this stage in the game.  One thing I have to keep in mind is that between the torture sessions, the muscles tend to go back to a 'comfortable' position; I have to increase the number of times per day that I do the exercises to insure that the permanent flexibility will be maximum.

I know I've mentioned all along that this whole experience has been better/ easier than I'd anticipated; I continue to feel that way.  However, beginning now, I'll be heading out for visits and walks outside the house - maybe to the grocery store, coffee shop, etc.  Vince has cautioned me about only going places where I have the option to leave if I get tired or hurting.  For example, he suggests that I put off going to a movie until I'm more comfortable with sitting for long periods.  And, I won't be doing any driving for the length of time that I'm taking pain medication, for obvious reasons.

As I recall, the movie theater was one of the places where I had lots of difficulties before the surgery.  I'd sit in the theater for the length of the movie, and then would have to get myself into a standing position very painfully at the end of the film.  I'd also have to hold the handrail as I walked down the steps and out of the theater.  I always tried to 'appear' like it didn't hurt, but oh boy, did it!

I'm really looking at this rehab as my full-time job right now.  Tomorrow I'll see my surgeon for the first post op visit; although, because Kaiser has all-inclusive care, the home health nurse and the physical therapist have been in communication with him each time they visit me here.  I may sound like a broken record but I can't say enough about how great it is to have Kaiser care.  Every provider has ongoing information about all aspects of my care and recovery.  For instance, anticoagulation therapy is de riguer for post knee replacement.  So, every afternoon I receive a call from the pharmacist who's monitoring my blood levels of the drug therapy; she tells me what dose to take each evening.  

Well, enough of the diatribe of my recovery - for now at least.  As I get further along I start to think about what I want to do when I'm completely ready to get back in my adventurous life-style.  I'm just not sure whether I want to head out for a long distance, or do I want to make several shorter jaunts to places here in California?  I will have to make some decisions in the not-to-distant future as my house is rented; so, when I feel well enough to be completely on my own, I'll have to decide where I want to park my RV when I'm not traveling.  I'm sure the answers will come as I go along.

I'll leave you with a few photos:
 Eleanor getting comfortable in our bedroom - likes to look outside, but has no interest in going outside

Holland and Max at last year's prom.  Holland graduated in 2013; Max will graduate this year.
 Here's the beautiful couple last Saturday evening
 Max was elected Prom King 2014
 And, finally, here's Bailey, with her diaper on, keeping me company
today.
That's all for now, folks!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Recovery Crew

Just shot these photos this morning after the visit of my physical therapist.  Thought I'd like to share how much support I have . . .

You can see Lacy sleeping at the bottom of the bed.  The little fluff ball is Ginger, my daughter's Daisy Pup (Maltese, Shih Tzu, Toy Poodle, Bichon Frise) and Eleanor right at my side - where she stays approximately 23 hours a day.
This is Bailey, my daughter's rescue Bichon Frise.  She can't manage to jump up on the bed, so she normally sleeps in the recliner.  Something sparked her interest and she climbed on to the arm of the chair to get a look out the window.  If you look closely you'll notice that she's wearing Pampers.  

This requires a little explanation:  Kari rescued Bailey from the Bichon Frise Rescue.  She had been owned by an elderly person who passed away.  After that she was badly abused and her life was horrible.  The rescue people estimated that she was at least 12 years old when Kari found out about her.  The agency had received her, complete with a foxtail imbedded in her eye, which they had surgically removed.  Then Kari's family took her in and Kari is determined that she will live a happy life for as much time as she has left.  She's almost blind and deaf and has a little problem with her urinary tract.  She is very good about going outside for potty; but, she also has a problem with dribbling.  So, she's perfectly agreeable with wearing a Pampers with a hole for her tail.

But, that's not the end of the story.  About three weeks ago, somebody in the family inadvertently left a dog open and she wandered out (after dark).  A few minutes later they realized she was gone and the whole family took up the search.  They found her lying in the street, having been hit by a car.  They took her to the Emergency Vet and the diagnosis was that she had a fractured pelvis.  The vet gave the family the option for euthanasia - NO WAY was that an option for this family.

For two weeks they kept her confined in a crate with potty trips being held up by a sling wrapped around her body.  She's graduated and now walks without help, and can even get up onto the lounge chair, where she is right now, diaper and all.
Happy Wednesday, all.