Monday, March 27, 2017

Week 12 - A Voluntary Recluse

So, week 3 at home. It ended up to be another week like the last one - busy at the beginning but this one ended with some antsy days inside with dreary weather out.

My friend Nancy, whom I hadn't seen in ages (could it be almost a year? I think so), came over to hang out on Monday. The plan was to order pizza for lunch and then catch up. We were thwarted on the pizza delivery (not available at lunch) so had to go get it but it was worth it (delish!) and then we had a lovely afternoon of chatting and knitting in my back room. She didn't leave until 4:30 and I had knitting at 6:00 at the library so it was a full day. So full that I was exhausted at bed time and so decided to try to sleep in my bed for the first time. Shock of all shocks I was able to fall asleep. Yay! Not so much when I woke up all creaky and in pain in the wee hours and headed back to the recliner. Probably not the best idea to try my bed the night before my busiest day since surgery. Oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Tuesday was the big day of driving to Lincoln for the first time for lunch with my work friends. I got there just early enough to hit my 2 favorite thrifts and pick up books at the Library Commission before meeting them at Honest Abe's for big, drippy burgers. Of course it was drizzling and I couldn't find a parking spot but it was great to see them. Faced with the greasy burger, I took my brace off to eat but put it right back on when I was done. I passed an art supply store on the way back to my car and couldn't resist buying a picture I saw in their window to brighten my day. It was spring break so I drove to campus and parked illegally behind my building so I could  visit with Mary and Nora while they ate the take out Cheryl had brought them. I then made the rounds on 4th floor. It was good to see everyone but my energy was waning and I still needed to hit the market. I got home at 4:00 and had just put the groceries away (everything takes longer with only one arm) when Darla stopped by at 4:30. We hung out and chatted for a couple of hours. So many friends in one day! I was feeling the love.

Needless to say, I was exhausted on Wednesday. Denise from the library emailed that she needed a check immediately and offered to pick it up on her way to work. I jumped at that so that I wouldn't need to get dressed and out the door. I spent the morning watching daytime TV in my nightie and knitting away. I did get dressed eventually but only to sit and knit some more. I was fine with a low energy day after my busy 2 days. My stamina was still sub par but that's what healing is all about I guess.

Unfortunately I slept like crap that night and woke up with feet like ice cubes at 5:30 a.m. I got up to try and get warm and and ate breakfast but was so tired after a couple of hours that I had to go back to bed. I slept until 11:00 so my morning was toast. Oh well. By this point, I wasn't wearing my brace when I was in my house so wasn't minding being home. I had yarn to mail and missed the mail pick up so had to head out to the post office that afternoon but since I had book club at 7:00, I had to get dressed anyway. I headed to book club for a lively conversation on The Sixth Extinction, which I had only finished that afternoon after a marathon reading session.

When I had talked to Cindy last week, I had told her I was a week away from being able to enjoy any part of being home. Well, at some point since then, I seemed to have skipped right past the enjoyment. It didn't help that the weather was gray and dreary EVERY SINGLE DAY and that my desire to stay home so I could not wear my brace was keeping me inside. I was getting cranky and felt like I was missing out. Now I could tell myself that I was at home to heal not to have fun but I had hoped that I would get some enjoyment out of being home and that was clearly not happening. Despite talking to friends and family, having all the time in the world to knit and even having season 2 of Outlander DVD's to watch from the library, I was antsy and not satisfied not matter what I did. Grrr..... I decided that a nice pasta dinner with wine might help so \rummaged around and made leek and pancetta pasta in a parmesean basil sauce (found a can of that in the cupboard) and had it with a glass of 3 Buck Chuck. You would think I'd drunk the whole bottle from the buzz I had. Sheesh!

Maybe the wine was why I decided to try sleeping in my bed again. I got all situated - wedge pillow with regular pillow on top, 2 pillows propping up my braced shoulder and another under my knee. It wasn't conducive to reading so I struggled to fall asleep but eventually did. I woke up in the wee hours and rolled onto my side (brace up) and fell back asleep. When I woke in the morning, I was shocked that I'd made it all night. I was also creaky and as the day progressed, I had some pain like I hadn't had in awhile so I can't say it was a complete success but still felt like some kind of progress. I'd be back in my recliner for a few more nights but this gave me hope.

Despite feeling creaky, I got up Saturday and picked up the house because it had become a pit in the past few self imposed hibernation days. I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, folded the small load of laundry I'd done that was strewn across the couch and did a general neatize. I even managed to do a few pots and pans very carefully (I did crack one bowl) by bracing each thing in the corner of the drainer to wash it. When it was all done, I was tired and sweaty but at least the house was more pleasant. Now watch - no one would pop by just because I'd gotten everything back in order.

Lori, Andrea and I were meeting at the cafe in Mead at 1:15 for their belated birthday lunch. I had declined an after lunch Omaha run with Andrea (more time at home without my brace on, thank you very much) so we all drove separately. We had a nice lunch, presents were exchanged and we even split a piece of pecan pie 3 ways. After a lovely time, I went home to find a get well box from my friend Eileen, who knows me so well. It had sock yarn, a vintage tablecloth with baskets of kittens embroidered on it, some l'Occitane toiletries, a pin from the V&A (from her trip to England) and 2 packages of my fave candy OMG's, which are only available in Canada. YUM! Yet another example of the wonderful friends I have.

It was Sunday again and I couldn't believe I'd already been home for 3 weeks. With only one more week of recuperation in store, it was time to start getting back into some kind of routine. The house was all picked up so no chores needed doing but as usual, because the kitchen was all squeaky clean, I felt the need to mess it up again. I started by cleaning out the fridge, which resulted in a bunch of old produce for Lori's chickens, which I drove out to Lori's place immediately. For dinner I made cheesy baked cauliflower with cornbread and ham. Yum! I'd been eating out of the freezer for so long that it felt good to cook something new.

That brought week 3 to a close. I cannot believe how quickly the time has flown by. I've been doing a bit more each week but am still not at 100% and don't think I will be even close at the end of week 4. I can only hope that when I see the doctor again this coming week that he'll say I can lose the brace for good. Whether that's the case or not, I know I will start PT, which Donna says is very painful - like taking pain pills again painful. Whatever. There's no point in stressing over it now. I'm still in getting through each day mode and have let go of the fantasy that I'd enjoy this month off. Don't get me wrong - there have been some lovely times but the enjoyable veg time I anticipated hasn't come to pass. Damn body! I have a few busy days coming up again this week and need to try and get back to more normal sleep times so I can get up for work on the 3rd. I don't know if I'll be full-time day one but I at least need to try. Just one more week. Wish me luck for continued progress on the healing front. There's no hope for the weather with more clouds and rain forecast for the entire week. At least the daffodils have started to bloom. 

Week 11 - Making an Effort

The theme for my second week at home was doing something, anything to keep busy. After my successful driving on Saturday, knowing I could get in the car and go was a big help.

I started the week making pie. For all those people who thought I was nuts when the last thing I did before going to bed the night before my surgery was roll 2 pie crusts - HA! Those crusts were the basis for 2 pies for Pi Day. I was still wearing the brace full time and so couldn't make a fancy edge but with frozen fruit and a simple crumb top, my ugly but delicious pies were a big hit. I brought blackberry peach to knitting on Monday night and there was a strawberry rhubarb for actual Pi Day.

Tuesday afternoon I did my first distance drive to visit Darla at work. UNL's Ag Research & Development Center is east of Wahoo and so it took me ~20 minutes to drive to Darla - a bit on the highway but mostly on gravel roads. I'd never visited her at work there so brought my pie and stopped in. Her co-workers were all appreciative of the treat and I got to see Darla's office. It was also the perfect intermediate distance to drive. All good. I was exhausted after only being gone less than 2 hours but still - I got out of the house and talked to people. I had Ed, my friend Donna's husband who does handy work for me once in awhile, stop by to pick up a couple of pieces of pie on his way home from work. It's good to keep Ed happy. : )

Wednesday was a busy day. The cleaning lady was coming at 9:15 and even post-surgery, I couldn't deal with the guilt of watching someone clean my house so I got out of Dodge before she came. I went to the library and hung out there until she called to say she was done. I had my Kindle to stream and my knitting so just perched in a chair the whole time, which was as comfy as being at home. I needed to rest up because I had to go out again that night for Jan's husband's funeral. 

I put on real clothes for the first time since surgery (there was some painful wrangling to get the jacket on but I survived) and I met Lori there (she was supposed to pick me up but had such a horrible cold that we figured it wouldn't be healthy for me to be in her car so I drove myself) at 5:30. It was a mob scene but we had a chance to chat with Jan and then I picked up Chinese food (I'd had a hankering for fried rice of all things) and headed home for the night. I was pretty tired so slept like a rock that night.

Having been so busy every day so far, I took it easy for the next couple of days. I did run to the market on Thursday afternoon and did a drive up pick up of a reuben sandwich that the local nursing home had as a fundraiser for St. Patrick's Day lunch but otherwise laid low. I was so desperate to be outside in the gorgeous weather that I picked up sticks in the backyard because it was all I could do with one hand. Whatever it too to not be bored and feel minimally productive. I ended the day Friday with a delicious turkey dinner courtesy of my freezer. Nice.

Saturday was a big day with our spinning (wool not bikes) meeting in Fremont and I'd agreed to go if Andrea drove. But I had a brain storm that morning - if I drove, it would be a test for whether or not I could drive longer. I called Andrea to say I'd drive and off we went. The meeting didn't go very long so after only 1.5 hours of knitting with my brace on, we headed to Goodwill and then home. I drove just fine, even with being there a couple of hours. That meant I was ready for a trip to Lincoln. Yay!

I tried to have a relatively normal Sunday, which is chore day for me. I put a load of sheets in the laundry because it was finally a sunny day and I figured Lorri would stop by after church and so could hang them on the line for me because being unable to get my left arm up makes it pretty darn difficult to hang laundry. They weren't quite done when she stopped by but she waited and got them on the line for me. It's good to have friends. I could easily get them in but folding them wasn't an option either. At least they were in the house by the end of the day and smelled great.

So week #2 was successful. I was making an effort to get out of the house, even if it meant I needed a nap once I got back. There had been a rare couple of sunny days so I'd had some deck knitting and by the end of the week, I was even able to take my brace off for brief periods of time when I was in the house, which helped to ease stiffness in my neck and back. I was very careful to keep my elbow supported on a pillow and still not use my arm at all but it still felt like progress. Two more weeks to go!

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.