Saturday, March 18, 2017

Week 10 - First Week Home

It was so weird to be home but since I was taking drugs, there are big holes in my recollection. Here are a few highlights.

Drugs - ick! I took my last oxi on Monday morning. I wasn't in tons of pain and the side effects were just not worth it. I switched to tramadol and took my last of that on Wednesday morning before I went to the doctor to have my stitches out. From there is was only Tylenol, which did take the edge off. As long as my arm was in the brace, I wasn't really in pain. All good.

OMG! Only having one arm is hard! Everything takes so much effort - going to the bathroom for instance. Try it with one hand. Just try it. Sleeping in the recliner. Also a bitch. I slept great while I was stoned but once I switched to Tylenol, I had more trouble. I'd wake up in the wee hours uncomfortable, not my shoulder but more from not being able to move. Or I'd wake up hot because the recliner is like an oven. I would be awake, tired, uncomfortable and hungry, which often lead to being awake for awhile, reading or playing online, and eating in the middle of the night. Not good. The time change didn't help. After being awake for an hour or two in the middle of the night, I would fall back asleep and luckily get several more hours in, most days not waking again until 8:00 or 9:00 even.

After the first shower that Lorri helped with, I was able to take them carefully on my own. It hurt to have the brace off but was worth it to get clean, especially after sleeping in the recliner. I was eating fine, mostly from the freezer but Andrea dropped me some yummy curried chicken salad one morning that was delicious. I was enjoying tea every afternoon, which helped chase away the gloom from the dreary, cold weather. I was spending ridiculous amounts of time online and knitting.

Enough talk about logistics. Here's the good stuff when I actually got out of the house.

My first foray into the world was when Donna took me to the doctor on Wednesday morning. My appointment was at 10:15 so I took Donna to breakfast beforehand at Cook's Cafe for waffles and sausage. Yum! I was out in public without a bra, which felt super weird and very "people of WalMart" but the brace hid it well enough I think. After the doctor, we went to HyVee and I picked up a few groceries, including the things I hadn't bought on purpose. I had thought that not having ice cream would work but I found myself eating lots of other things because I wanted ice cream and didn't have any. Chips too. So those things bought, we hit the bread store before heading home. I survived but had to take a nap that afternoon. All good.

I drove myself to downtown Wahoo on Saturday and lived to tell. I went to the market and picked up a book and some DVDs at the library. Later that night, I took a walk around the block and did it again on Sunday evening. It was bitter cold and my hideous cape didn't keep me very warm but at least I was moving. Progress in my book.

So that was my first week. As I said to Cindy on one call (I called work most days), I was still a week away from being able to enjoy any part of being home. But I was better every day and not in pain as long as the brace was on, which was ALL THE TIME. One week down, three to go. At least the weather was supposed to get warmer. I was looking forward to that. 

Week 9 - Surgery at Last!

My surgery week was finally here. All the prep and planning left me with just a few things to take care of in the last few days, some of them having absolutely nothing to do with the surgery but why not add a few things while I was in power mode? I started Monday putting three packages in the mail, bringing in a repotted African violet to my co-worker and hitting Aldi during lunch for my last grocery stock up. I picked up Hurts Donuts to take to knitting, which were a hit. Just two more work days to go.

On Tuesday, the work gang went out for my farewell lunch. I chose the Blue Blood Brewing Company, which was absolutely delicious. We all had a great time and it hit home how much I'd miss all my work friends. They really are the best. I went home to power through cleaning lady prep and do a few more chores. 

When I left for work Wednesday, my last day (!), I had a load of laundry in the washer and another ready to go in as soon as I got home. This is what I came in to find hanging on my cubie wall. They also brought a lemon meringue pie from Stauffer's and Nora made her cream scones. Yum! Gotta love my work friends! I had a busy afternoon at work, which was a wonderful thing because I otherwise would have been distracted and, I'll admit it, worried. The surgery center called to say I didn't have to be there until 7:15, which was a gift. Now I wouldn't have to get up any earlier than a normal work day. I finished my laundry, changed cat boxes and packed, getting to bed early and sleeping just fine. Shocking!

I got up at my regular time and was at the surgery center checking in at 7:15. Anne arrived shortly thereafter and all the prep began. It was a blur of nurses, doctors and procedures. They did a nerve block, which was done in pre-op but I have no recollection of it, despite being awake when they wheeled me into the operating room. The next thing I knew, I was in my room. Done. The nerve block left my arm completely dead. Freakishly so. It was flopping like a dead fish but at least there was no pain.

My room was full Thursday night - Nora, Mary, Dodie and Darla. I hope I haven't forgotten anyone. I was feeling sore but fine and was happy to be surrounded with friends. And there were flowers and presents too. Nice. I felt very loved. When everyone left, I fell asleep just fine.

When they woke me up at 4:30, the nerve block had worn off and it was clear within 30 minutes that I needed some drugs. They brought me some but they did nothing for the pain and as the pain escalated, my body went into shock. I was shaking, freezing cold and my BP plummeted to 80 over 40. They gave me better drugs and wrapped me in warm blankets until my body normalized. When I went into a bit of a panic at the thought of going home with my pain not under control, they gave me a Xanax and told me I wouldn't be released until the afternoon. In the midst of all this, Nora showed up with Starbuck's and kept me distracted discussing work until things were under control. I don't know what I would have done without her. 

The occupational therapist came to help me shower and get dressed (I really needed that) and after lunch, they said I could go. Lana and Dawn had taken my car back to Wahoo Thursday so Anne picked me up and drove me home. I'd only been gone one day but it felt good to be home. Nora had called Darla and suggested she stop after work but my morning freak out was long gone and I was happily ensconced at home. It will lovely to visit with her regardless.

I cannot tell you what I did for the weekend. I was taking oxi and was pretty stoned so it was all a blur. Friends came by Saturday and Lorri stopped after church Sunday and helped me take my first shower at home. Now that's a good friend, but aren't they all? I was feeling so loved and well taken care of. I am a very lucky woman. Thanks to everyone who offered me love and support. I truly appreciate you all.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Week 8 - Ready for Surgery

As my last full week before surgery, I was busy busy busy. I had training 3 days at work, which was a good thing because it kept me busy there when I could so easily have been distracted. Every non-working minute was devoted to getting ready to be home for a month with a messed up shoulder. It may not be so bad but why chance it? I'm preparing for the worst.

But it wasn't all about my surgery. The week did start with a fun night at knitting. Since the library was closed for Presidents Day, we were meeting at the Vets Club, which is where we met for the year after the flood when the library was in it's temp location. I was picking up pizza, we had full access to the bar and I had baked cookies. We could also knit as long as we wanted rather than having to leave at 8:00. We had a ball and I had 2 beers! It was good to take my mind off things and I didn't get home until 9:00.

On Tuesday night, I was watching TV and knitting when I got a Skype call from my friend Eileen in Canada. We hadn't scheduled it so it was a lovely surprise and we talked for over an hour. Does anyone know how Skype exists? How do they make any money? I don't get it but do love it.

The weather was freakishly warm at the start of the week. I sat on a bench eating lunch one day and was perfectly comfortable in the shade in just a shirt. Another afternoon I was sitting knitting on a bench and actually had to move to the shade because I was hot. That all changed on Thursday when we had rain, hail and thunder within a few minutes and by that night, it was snowing. It was a hairy drive in on Friday and it snowed most of the day but had stopped by drive time. I left work a bit early because I had errands to run on the way home and didn't want to drive on icy roads in the dark. After a stop at Wal Mart to pick up the hideous fleece cape I'd ordered to wear over my shoulder brace and at PetSmart for a month's worth of cat food, I headed home to finish the last of my to do list.

I had taken my last anti-inflammatory Friday morning so was motivated to get anything physical done before the meloxicam was completely out of my system. I started the day with a vet appointment for 3 cats, all overdue for shots. Unfortunately I couldn't catch Pie, my former feral cat who is very skittish. I got 2 cats in and the vet said I could bring Pie in later if I caught her. Between attempts to catch her, I got busy with the heavy lifting in the house. First I moved all the yarn boxes in the spare room onto the bed to free up the floor so I could move the extra chair (the one displaced by my newly acquired recliner) into the spare room. I also neatized the entire house, putting anything away that needed moving. I was still feeling OK by the end of the day but was glad to have everything done. I never did catch Pie so would have to be satisfied with 2 out of 3 done. Maybe I could get her into the carrier one morning this week and go to work late. If not, she'd just have to wait until well after my surgery. Oh well.

I woke up super early and got busy in the kitchen first thing on Sunday, cleaning the frig and cooking/prepping the last of the perishable food. I reorganized the freezer and by the time I was done, I had a clean kitchen and more food ready to go than I'll probably be able to eat in my month at home. Many of my friends have offered to bring me food and when my friend Lorri stopped by after church, she did the same. Then I opened my freezer to show her all the casseroles I've frozen. Anyone who knows me shouldn't be surprised. Like I'd ever go hungry! Check it out.

Andrea and I had discussed doing an Omaha run on Sunday but I had not fully committed. By the time I decided it might work, Andrea had made other plans but I was still considering going because I had a big bag of scraps for Lori's chickens so could drop them on the way. But when Andrea called to say Lori was in town and was stopping at her house, she suggested that Lori could come pick up the scraps. Yay! That was what I needed to hear to nix the idea of Omaha. I happily stayed in my comfy clothes and settled in for some knitting. I could hit the market over lunch on Monday instead and enjoy the rest of my Sunday, which I did.

So I ended the week in good shape for surgery. In addition to all the prep at home, I had everything all set for getting to the hospital (I'm driving myself in for 5:00 a.m. and my cubie mates volunteered to drive my car back to my house on Thursday after work), a ride to my post-surgery follow up appointment and a ride home after surgery with Anne, who is also staying at the surgery center until I'm settled in my room. Check, check and check. It's good to have such great friends. Now to get through the next few days. I'll be happy to just be back home and on the mend. Wish me luck.

Week 7 - Shannon and Shoulder

I was 100% in surgery prep mode all week. I talked to my PT on Monday to get his opinion, which was what I expected - shoulder before my knee. He also talked me down, taking exception to my use of the word hellish to describe the shoulder surgery/PT, so that made me feel a bit better. My shoulder wasn't scheduled yet but I had everything set up for my knee so was just plowing ahead figuring a pre-op physical was a pre-op physical, right?

I had my physical scheduled in Wahoo for 8:00 Tuesday so had some extra time that morning and was playing online. Then I checked Facebook and had a shock. My friend Shannon from water aerobics, who had been fighting cancer for a year, had died. She had just been in the pool a month ago and I had no idea it had gone so bad. I was a mess after reading that but pulled myself together by the time I got to the clinic. The pre-op physical was a joke! They did do an EKG but otherwise it was BP, weight and history with the nurse and the PA only looked in my ears and nose and used the stethoscope on my chest. Had I not mentioned my PVC's (premature ventricular contractions), they wouldn't even have done the EKG. It was over so quickly that I called my hair dresser and she could fit me in right then so I drove over there and in 25 minutes was back on the road headed to work. Done and done.

I started Wednesday meeting with the shoulder surgeon and scheduling my surgery for two weeks out - March 2nd. I was having a different doctor do the surgery since mine didn't do arthroscopic and this one did. With my date in hand, I now had a target to get everything done.

My first step was to get a recliner. I drive right by a furniture store - Ernie's in Ceresco - every day so was whining about stopping there after work Thursday when Cindy came to my rescue. She not only suggested checking Craig's List but in 10 minutes had found me the perfect, rust crushed velvet beauty for $20. She also volunteered her truck to pick it up and deliver it and had the deal arranged before I left for work. Best 15 minute solution to a whine fest ever! And it all worked perfectly too.

Shannon's celebration of life was in Lincoln at 3:00 on Saturday and since Cindy had to be in south Lincoln for a hair appointment Saturday morning, we made plans to see a movie at noon, pick up the chair nearby and then head to Shannon's event. Cindy picked A Dog's Purpose and while it wasn't anything I'd ever see, how could I complain? I happily treated her and it was a fine movie, although a tear jerker so not the best for right before a funeral. 

The next stop was recliner pick up and this is what we saw when we turned the corner - the recliner was the only spot of color among the late winter drab of the neighborhood. The recliner was in fact ridiculously comfortable, as advertised. It was also advertised as being Dick Cheney's parent's chair, which we thought was a joke but it ended up being true. The seller grew up in Casper, Wyoming and his parents bought it from Dick's parents at their garage sale. My liberal ass would more than make up for any Dick juju on the chair. Maybe Dick's daughter's mojo had already cancelled his out. Whatever. We drove off with one more thing off my to do list.

It had been freakishly warm all week and Saturday was no exception. Shannon, who was very environmentally conscious, wouldn't not have approved but it was a lovely afternoon and celebration of life. I was in tears in my seat and could not believe that Gary, her husband, spoke as did her mom and sisters. I could never do that. It was standing room only and a perfect time to celebrate Shannon. We headed home, sad but happy somehow too. Cindy and I got the recliner into my front room without a problem. All in all, it was a good day.

I had a productive day on Sunday too, getting all my chores done and taking advantage of the warm weather to get some yard clean up done. I finally moved the 2 Christmas trees off of the deck and got the leaves swept off and added to the compost pile, leaving my deck ready for post-op knitting if it's warm enough anytime in March when I'm home. 

Progress is good. The shock was over and the planning well under way. Just 1.5 weeks more and I'd be having my shoulder fixed. My knee was rescheduled for early November (they said it was easier to reschedule, even far out, than cancel) and I was checking things off my pre-shoulder list. See? Progress. All good.

Week 6 - It's a Tear

The news of the week was the MRI. It was scheduled for first thing Tuesday morning and since I was going to be at the hospital, I rescheduled my knee academy, the half day required class before a knee replacement, for right afterwards. I'd have just enough time between them to get my blood draw done so I was doing that too. It all went swimmingly, including having enough time to eat a quick Noosa (my favorite yogurt - try it if you haven't) in the car since I'd fasted for the blood work just in case.

I was surprised by the knee class. They had told me I got the last spot but I was in fact the only person there so got all the attention. They actually start by showing you how much it will cost and asked if I wanted to pay up front. Not so much but it'll only be $1200 out of pocket. Not bad. Then after the video they showed me a model and I was shocked at how little they replace. I thought they'd be cutting my bones mid thigh and calf and reattaching muscles, tendons, etc. I was thrilled to see if was just a bit of the top of my thigh and calf bones with no cutting of anything except shaving a bit of bone. I went back to work with three things crossed off my list and feeling super positive about my knee replacement.

The phone rang Thursday afternoon and it all came crashing down. My rotator cuff was torn and my knee would have to wait. I held it together to gather all the gory details - a painful operation, 5-6 weeks with my shoulder in a brace, sleeping in a recliner and 4 months of PT. It was a total shock and I hung up and burst into tears at my desk. My co-workers were their usual supportive selves and someone narc'ed on me because Nora was at my desk in minutes. Of course I was totally guilt ridden with having to be out so long for my shoulder (even longer recuperation than the knee) and having to be out again for the knee once my shoulder was done. I was able to stop crying but was still in shock with way too much to absorb.

By Friday, I was mad. Of course the 2 month delay and required PT that Blue Cross demanded were what lead to this. The nurse told me that when my pain got much worse half way through the PT, that was probably when it tore but she also added that there was no proof so Blue Cross was covered. Despite the anger, I was able to start making plans. I didn't even have a date yet but knew it was coming.

The bright spot in the week was yet another birthday meal, this time at the new Greek cafe in Mead (a tiny town east of Wahoo) with Lori. We got a late start so Andrea was able to meet us after all and we had a lovely lunch with yummy dessert too. They gave me a gorgeous skein of orange sock yarn too. All fun and a nice change after a miserable week. Now to get the shoulder surgery scheduled.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Week 5 - Approval at Last!

I was going to make the title for this week My Eating Week because I celebrated my birthday all week by eating and eating and eating. But all that pales in comparison to getting my MRI approved FINALLY. Here’s that story.

I had another sleepless night so went to work Thursday tired and cranky, so of course I called Blue Cross. They’d had my appeal for 7 business days and despite having gotten a letter saying it would take 2 weeks, I decided to call. After voice mail hell and being on hold for 20 minutes, they told me it had been denied again. I asked them to email the info and took it down to Benefits. I was in tears within seconds, telling the director that I was at my wits end and asking what I could do. Long story short, she made waves somehow and got it approved. There were lame excuses galore, the best one being that my doctor hadn’t told them I was in PT, despite the fact that PT not working was the reason on the last appeal and it had 6 pages of PT reports attached. Whatever! Gayle called at 3:30 to say my MRI was approved at which point I burst into tears. But that was the beginning of a sea change and my luck was on the upswing.

After several emails and calls, I got a call Friday morning that there had been an MRI cancellation for Tuesday morning at 7:30 am. I was already scheduled for my Joint Academy (the 3 hour mandatory class for my knee replacement) for Tuesday afternoon so I called to see if they had a morning slot available and got the last one. With that rescheduled, I can now get the MRI, blood draw and class out of the way in one morning, which will only leave my pre-op physical. Time to get that scheduled in case they can fit me in for shoulder surgery sooner rather than later. I’m going with “it’s not a rotator cuff tear so quick surgery will work” and  have high hopes that the MRI will prove me right and I can get my shoulder fixed before me knee. Cross your fingers please.

All that said, it was my birthday week and the last week for one of the accountants so the eating was non-stop. We had a food day on Tuesday, I went to lunch with Dodie on Wednesday then dinner with Anne and Rene after swimming at The Piedmont Bistro, where the food was absolutely delicious. I will definitely be going back there. Thursday was lunch with the team (my official birthday lunch despite it being a day late) then a goodbye dinner after work for Jenny, the accountant who is leaving (our department, not UNL.) Last was lunch with Layton on Friday. By then I was desperate for some home cooking and done with eating out. I haven’t weighed myself but feel like I gained back every pound I lost of my last rotation. : (

There was one more meal out though – breakfast with Darla on Saturday morning. While I’ve been enjoying sleeping in on weekends, when I seem to be able to catch up on the sleep I lose because of my shoulder, I set my alarm and was in Lincoln by 8:00 because Darla face time is worth setting an alarm on a Saturday. We had a nice breakfast at Cook’s Café, talking long after the food was gone, then hit Big Lots, Joann’s and a junk shop before parting ways. I’d enjoyed the morning but was happy to be home before lunch so I had my afternoon to get busy.

I made a list recently of all the projects I need to get done before my surgery, with most of them centered on getting the spare room cleared out so Dottie, my sister who is coming for my first week home, can actually sleep in there. That room is my catch all so the bed is piled with stuff and there’s very little floor space showing. Oddly enough, going through the linen closet was step #1 because I had drawers full of extra linens in the spare bedroom that needed to be filled with stuff that’s currently on top of the bed. So I got the linens culled and reorganized Saturday afternoon, which gave me 2 empty drawers that I promptly loaded up. This left the top of the bed much clearer with just some clothes that need to be culled and put away. I even got a few of those off the bed before the weekend was over. I’ll do more of those this coming week.

Helen was coming over to hang out on Sunday afternoon so I got busy with chores on Sunday morning. It was relatively nice (above freezing) for February in Nebraska so I stripped my bed and changed my linens to my heavy winter ones and washed and hung the lighter comforter on the clothesline along with sheets and such. I cleaned out the refrigerator and delivered a huge bag of produce scraps to Lori’s chickens. At that point, I was ready for Helen, who arrived after 4:00. We chatted for hours and ate the sopapilla cheesecake she brought. More eating but worthy of every calorie. She left after 8:00 so real dinner wasn’t going to happen. I ate a Noosa and called it good. 

It had been a productive weekend and hope was in sight for my shoulder. How could I not call it a good week? The MRI approval was the icing on my birthday cake. And speaking of birthdays and junk food, get a load of the chocolate haul from all my friends. That will keep me in sweets while I’m home after my surgery. : )

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Week 4 - Finally Some Progress!

The week started with some good news. My uber whiny email to the doc last Thursday was the ammo they needed to submit an appeal (who knew?) and they called Monday to get info on my PT. The appeal was filed on Tuesday. They didn't mark it urgent, completely ignoring the specific wording I'd sent them from the Benefits Director, so I can only hope that it somehow makes it to the top of the pile. I got a letter saying it might take 2 weeks to review but at least there's hope. And get this, my friend Donna, who has the exact same UNL insurance, called her doc with a shoulder complaint, got an MRI approved and done 2 days later and is already scheduled for surgery. WTF! Some people have all the luck.

Otherwise, it was a busy week. I had training Tuesday and Thursday all afternoon, PT first thing Tuesday and last thing Thursday and was going to Jackie with friends after work Tuesday night. I was dieting but had decided popcorn for dinner was OK and Anne bought the popcorn while I was getting the tickets. It was huge! Did I act like an adult and leave some uneaten? Not a chance, which might be why I was up at 2:00 in gastric distress. I lost yet more sleep and was so exhausted Wednesday morning and had a hinky stomach so I called in sick. The thing that decided it, which I didn't feel great about, was the fact that it was snowing over a bed of ice so the drive would be treacherous. I got over the guilt and happily sat in my nightie knitting and watching it snow. The bland diet didn't get me down either and I was feeling better by day's end.

On the knitting front, despite having many projects OTN (on the needles), I went home Monday night and cast on another pair of socks. Then I went to Crafthouse, a new-ish yarn shop on the south side of Lincoln, with Anne at lunch on Tuesday to meet with them about knitting some sample socks for their shop. They accepted my offer and I got to choose a beautiful skein of sock yarn to make the socks, which will hang in the shop for awhile and then they're mine. So I cast those on too. So much for getting old projects finished. At least the Monday night pair went quickly and I finished them on Saturday, which is a personal record for me, and I love them. Too bad they're too small for me but I was using up a single skein so that limited the size. They'll go into the gift pile for now.

I started the weekend by going back to the pool. I had cleaned out my locker 2 weeks ago but just couldn't handle not swimming. I was getting lots of knitting done with the extra time but I was also becoming a noodle so I decided to get in the pool and just do what I could. There were definitely moves I couldn't do but I was moving in water and that was better than not. I've always loved starting the weekend swimming and it felt great to be back on track. I was showered and in veg clothes when I drove into my garage and I didn't leave the house all weekend. Bliss!

I had a lovely weekend with lots of knitting but just enough productivity to not feel guilty. I had most of my chores done before I went to bed Saturday, which left me Sunday to go through the last food cupboard and do some cooking. I had the cupboard emptied, vacuumed, washed and restocked by mid-afternoon so started cooking after a nice tea break. I had a 3 pound chub of hamburger so made 2 pounds of meatballs for an upcoming food day and a meatloaf, which mashed potatoes of course, for dinner. I also made PB&J bread pudding to take to knitting. The break week between rotations started Sunday so it was great to have some yummy food in the house. All in all, not a bad finish to the week.