Saturday, October 1, 2011

Week 2

It's been about a week since I posted. Sorry, but since I have absolutely NO memory I would remind myself to post and forget. Maybe if I had smaller ears things wouldn't slip out so easily...

Well, it's been about a week, like I said, and everything is going extremely well. My first physical therapy wasn't nearly as horrible as we expected, and I could get my leg flat almost immediately. I know it doesn't sound like much, but that's really good. Amazing the things I get excited about. If I could have, I would have jumped up and down! That Monday we got me home, which was great. I won't be getting upstairs to my own room for at least fifteen more days (yes, I'm counting down). For the first week I made big strides every day, like improving on the crutches, as well as getting higher degrees on the CPM.

My PT is great. We love the therapist, and I'm also doing pretty darn well, if I do say so myself (and I do). I do my exercises at least three times a day. I have to move the kneecap around (which creeps out Mom), and Mom or Dad (never my brother) hold it and bend my leg. Surprisingly, that one doesn't hurt at all, and it feels really good once it's stretched out. There are several others, including stretches, heel slides, and leg lifts. The heel slides are my least favorites, but they aren't horrible.

We were also pleased at how much I have been able to get out of the house. The picture shows me at my brother's soccer game earlier today (the things I do for him; my left foot FROZE!). i have also been able to go to the library (yup, I'm a geek and proud of it), and church and other places.

Before the surgery, Doc said that most people actually looked forward to having the next knee done as soon as the first one was over (if it doesn't make sense, re-read it. As Mom says, "I'm not repeating myself!"). The first weekend, I was very much the opposite. I was sick and blacking out on Saturday, which sucked (No, really?). But after that it improved. By now, I don't even think about getting up, it's so easy. Haha, it'll be so weird to just stand up without crutches or a brace or some annoying contraption on my leg. All of these braces and machines and ankle weights and EVERYTHING have velcro. I AM SICK OF VELCRO! Ugh, with the right knee brace and the left one they stick together and it's like one of those Harry Potter curses. Anyway, everything is going really well. Two more weeks and I'll be able to do half-weight. Then about two more weeks and I'll be all weight, and then eight months and I should be back to normal. Wow, not long at all, right?


Curly Girl :P

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 1 and Day 2 Post-Op

More Day 1: So I guess I really wasn't totally miserable. I couldn't feel my leg at all, definitely a good thing. Thursday evening, I had eaten a turkey sandwich, a bag of potato chips, and lots of Sprite. I only barfed once, just after getting into recovery. Friday morning I had a bagel, applesauce, and milk. The milk made me very happy, because that is seriously ALL I drink when I have my own way. :) The meds had knocked me out overnight, but nurses came in regularly to make sure I hadn't started jumping on the bed (haha).
Getting in the car did make me nervous however. When I first sat up that morning I was very dizzy, but I was told to just sit on the side of the bed for a few minutes. I used crutches to get to the wheelchair, only about three steps, and they wheeled me to the car. Our minivan was right next to the sliding doors, so that was easy (picturing a red Staples button). I slid in behind the drivers seat, and pulled myself across so that I was behind the passenger seat. My leg was stretched across, and we propped it up in the middle with pillows and duffel bags.
We had decided before hand to go to my grandparent's house for the weekend, because there are stairs no matter which way you go at our house. I used crutches to get in, and sat right down on the sofa. I was feeling pretty good, so I had some applesauce and pudding. We were worried about nausea, so we had had them give me some nausea medication through the IV. Luckily, not having full anesthesia seemed to help that, though Saturday was tougher. But that's later.
Also when we got home I was told to start using the CPM machine pretty soon. I have to say, I was terrified of moving the leg in any way, much less bending it. But we got it in there, and I started on ten degrees. It was painful, but only on the side, where the reconstruction incisions were. The nerve block only blocked one of the three nerves in my leg, covering only the osteotomy, so from the beginning I could feel the inside of my knee. My directions were to use the machine at least eight hours a day, more if I could. I ended up sleeping with it at ten degrees Friday night.
DAY 2: I woke up Saturday morning feeling okay. I hadn't sat up yet, and that would be the real test, but staring at the ceiling wasn't horrible. Every four hours overnight I had taken two Oxicodone. For those of you that have been lucky enough to never had it, it One of these babies is enough to make you dizzy, nauseous, and not be able to concentrate. Two of them, well, let's just say I couldn't even tell which way was up. So we sat me up, and within seconds I was blacking out and puking all at the same time. I lay back down, and stayed that way until Dad made it over later on. That time it was even worse, but I didn't barf again afterward. Using crutches, I moved to the living room, where I stayed for the rest of the day. There was a football game on that day, so my brother and Dad stayed for that. Later that evening, the Oxicodones really kicked in, and my parents used it for a teaching moment, saying this is what a hangover and a high feel like. I will never, ever touch the stuff. That was my Saturday, nothing overly exciting. I used the CPM for around ten hours, though it was set relatively low. The key with that is just not to let the leg stiffen up. If it does, it's hell. At the top, there's a picture of my x-ray, showing two of the four screws in my leg. Those are the osteotomy screws, holding together my tibia. Really screwed up, now, aren't I? ;)

Curly Girl Takes Over

I'm Curly Girl, and I'm taking over Mum's blog. On September 15, 2011, and I had a MPFL reconstruction and a Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy. I needed the surgery because I have no trochlear groove in my left knee, which resulted in multiple dislocations and subluxations, meaning a partial dislocation. These stretched out my MPFL (the ligament on the inside of the knee) so much it was barely visible. Long story short, the doctor screwed in a donor hamstring over my MPFL, and moved a bit of my tibia bone. I have four screws, two of which are made of calcium and will dissolve over time. Cool, right? Not really.
Day 1: I was in the hospital until 11 AM on Friday. The nurse showed me everything I needed to know about everything. I had a nerve block, which would make my leg almost completely numb for three days. Because of the numbness, I couldn't lift it, and someone else had to do it for me. We took it out this morning, and I can feel the leg now. Let me just say, pain meds are my friends. I also have a CPM machine which makes me bend the leg. The first week I am supposed to get to 40 degrees, and I made it to 30 this afternoon. I never thought something so simple would be so hard, but I made it. And if you think I couldn't possibly fit anything else on my leg, think again. The Tens machine uses electrical impulses to stimulate muscles and help with pain control. There is also the Polar Care cube, an ice cube which hooks up to my leg and keeps swelling down. I also have a large brace and many wrappings (I look like a mummy), but they are inconsequential.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Curly Girl's Knee Surgery

Curly Girl will have knee surgery consisting of two procedures.

Reasons and Procedures:

Your knee should have a groove which the patella slides in as it moves. The groove in Curly Girl’s left knee is minimal and should be 10 times deeper than it is. Because of this, Curly Girl’s patella is not tracking properly in the groove and has suffered recurrent full and partial dislocations. Since there is not a successful surgery to deepen the groove, the surgeon will perform a medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) reconstruction to correct this problem. In this procedure, the surgeon will reconstruct Curly Girl’s MPFL ligament, which will hold her patella in place, by grafting a donor ligament onto Curly Girl’s knee. The MPFL ligament must be reconstructed since it is now completely lax from the repeated dislocations. The donor ligament will be secured with absorbable screws. A brief explanation of this surgery is here:

Curly Girl’s knee also aligns incorrectly with her tibia, the lower leg bone, and is offset by several millimeters. To correct this issue, the surgeon will perform a Fulkerson osteotomy, also known as a tibial tubercle osteotomy. A brief animated explanation of this surgery is here: The osteotomy will be held in place with large screws which we may elect to have removed after 8-9 months.

The surgeon feels certain that Curly Girl’s knee issues are due to the structure of her knee, and no amount of physical therapy alone will stop the recurrent dislocations. The surgeon also feels strongly that Curly Girl needs both procedures to ensure a successful outcome.


Curly Girl will spend one night in the hospital. To allow the osteotomy to heal, her left leg may bear no weight for 4 weeks. Along with pain relief, this will be the largest obstacle for us at home since Curly Girl may not climb any stairs for 4 weeks. (Yes, our house is 2-story with her bedroom and both showers upstairs). From weeks 4-6, she can be 50% non-weight bearing and full weight bearing (but possibly with a brace) at 6 weeks. She will begin physical therapy at 3 days post-op and will continue PT for about 6 months. The surgeon said not to expect to play spring soccer (think of it as “gravy” and an outside possibility), but Curly Girl should be able to swim again next summer. The plan is for these procedures to completely stabilize her knee and prevent any future dislocations.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Top Ten Things Not to Say or Do When Someone Has a Terminally Ill Family Member

This post definitely goes in the arena of having a find something humorous in order to cope with a difficult situation. In other words, I'm not sappy or warm and fuzzy. I tend to be a blunt, suck-it-up-and-deal-with-it kind of person. So if you're hoping to read a loving recollection about coping terminal illness, this probably isn't the post for you- I'm just giving you fair warning.

My family experienced a rough bout around the holidays. My grandmother started feeling poorly in mid-December, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at New Year's, and passed away on January 23rd. In the interim, we all rearranged our schedules and pitched in to stay with my grandmother whose condition quickly deteriorated to the point of requiring 24/7 care. Throughout the month we cared for my grandmother, my parents, husband, and I continually shook our heads at the stupid, insensitive things that people said and did. I know, I know . . . they meant well. Honestly, it was easier for all of us to make fun of people's idiocy because it did give us at least one thing to laugh about amidst the stress. As you will see, I obviously did not inherit the Southern hospitality gene from my mother and grandmother.

So here it is, . . .

Top Ten Things Not to Say or Do When Someone Has a Terminal Illness:

#10- Don't assume the family knows who you are.
Yes, I know my grandmother went to church with you for 40 years and probably shared more about me than I even care to think about with your Sunday School class. I also realize that I look different than I did when I was five years old. The fact that I met you at church with my grandmother when I was five, still does not provide me with any clue as to who you are. Please introduce yourself if you stop by the house or attend the funeral.

#9- Don't Stop By for an Impromptu Visit.
Please always, always call before you would like to visit. Don't just stop by. You don't have any idea if the nurse or a home health worker is currently there, or if the caretaker and patient slept any the previous night. For goodness sakes, if a family member meets you at the door to tell you that it isn't a good time because they're having a family meeting with Hospice, don't ask if you can still come in. "No." The answer is "No".

#8- Don't Stay for an Extended Visit.
About 15-20 minutes will suffice. Any longer of a visit and you will wear out your welcome. In case you haven't figured it out, the patient is sick and the family is exhausted. The last thing they want to do is make small talk and bring you snacks while you chat away incessantly. If the patient uses all of her strength attempting to chat with you, she will be more sick and more lifeless than usual after you leave. Remember : KISS- Keep it short, stupid.

#7- Do not regale the caretakers with stories of all your current personal problems.
I'm sorry that your arthritis is acting up and your child is in the middle of her third divorce , but in case you haven't noticed, at the moment I'm up to my eyeballs in portable toilets, elderly diaper changes, and trying to keep my own children and family running. I am maxed out on the amount of problems that I can listen to and handle today.

#6- Don't bother to visit if you haven't done so for the last 20 years.
I'm aware that you used to live behind my 87-year-old grandmother when you were a child 40 years ago, but that does not mean that you need to stop by and visit her on her deathbed. If your explanation of who you are takes ten minutes and I (the gatekeeper) still haven't figured out who you are, you're not coming in. In other words, you're lucky that my mother, who is much nicer than I, answered the door and patiently listened to your stories about being a female dump truck driver because I would have kicked your butt to the curb before you ever made it in the door.

#5- Don't ask how long the person has left to live or if he/she is comatose.
Tacky, tacky, tacky and please, please, please don't ask these little gems in the terminal person's presence. Just so you know- the family does not know exactly how much longer the patient will be alive- only God knows that piece of information- and if the caretaker just told you that the patient drank a bit of a vanilla milkshake today, she is not comatose, but currently sleeping.

#4- Don't leer at the dying person's possessions or open their closets to inspect their belongings.
And for the record, don't ask what we're going to do with the fur coats or anything else in the house. We are currently rather preoccupied caring for the patient and are not excitedly taking inventory or dividing up the items in the house. For goodness sakes, do not make yourself at home and open the closets. Yes, this happened. A person who accompanied another family member into my grandmother's house for the first time started walking around the house and opening the closets because "he liked old houses". Yea, right.

#3- Don't ask to be alone with the terminal person.
If I trusted you alone with my grandmother, I would have already taken your visit as an opportunity to snag a little break for myself. But since I only know that you're a man who goes to church with my grandmother and who likes to repeatedly stop by the house uninvited- you're creeping me out with your request to have some alone time with my elderly grandmother. As my dad remarked when informed about this little turn of events, "Ick, we're lucky we didn't find him in bed with her."

#2- If an ambulance is at the house, don't call to ask what is going on.
Here's what's going on. . . An ambulance is at the house because a) there is a medical crisis, b) we needed medical assistance, or c) we are rushing around trying to move my grandmother to the Hospice Home to which she has just been admitted. Please note that none of these scenarios require that I inform you, the neighborhood busybody, of said event at the exact moment that it occurs. Yes, I know that I wasn't chatty when you called, but you're lucky I didn't say what I was really thinking.

#1- Don't tell the dying person to call you.
In case you haven't noticed, my grandmother is bed-bound and sleeps about 20 hours a day. All of her energy is devoted to trying to eat, poop, and spend time with her loved ones. She will most likely not choose to call you to catch up on the church gossip from the previous Sunday.

Yes, I know I'm not very nice. But honestly, would you want someone to do any of these less-than-intelligent things if you were caring for a loved one? To make it worse, they all occurred within a month-long span and this isn't even half of the story.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why I Do and Do Not Homeschool

Some of you may know and some of you may not know that our family homeschools. It isn't exactly something that I broadcast to someone as soon as I meet him/ her. I much prefer for that knowledge to sneak up on someone, rather than having him/her form an instant, incorrect stereotypical snapshot in his/her mind as soon as I mention this little family tidbit.

Yea, I know and have probably heard most of the homeschool stereotypes, and they drive me absolutely crazy. Just to get it out of the way, right now (and I know this blog will probably irritate those on the left and the right):

Yes, I homeschool, and . . .

. . . I do not wear denim jumpers. I have actually spent most of today barefoot with a freakishly dark toenail polish and modeling a comfy pair of fitted Levi's.

. . . I am not a religious zealot. Yes, I am Christian and raise my children as Christians because doing so makes me and them much better people than we could be on our own. Even though, I have my own set of beliefs, I also firmly support other people's rights to their own beliefs.

. . . I believe in evolution. Yes, I think that God created the world in whatever way, time, and process that he chose. If he chose evolution, go for it.

. . . I am raising my daughter to be an independent young woman who can take care of herself. Nothing drives me crazier than to hear a woman say that she should be submissive to men- don't think so, not happening over here. Just because I spend most of the day home with my children does not in any way mean that I am any less of an independent person than a woman who drops off her kids at the bus stop on her way to work.

. . . I am pro-choice. Enough said, my point is don't jump to conclusions about people based on cursory information that you may know about them.

. . . I am a political moderate. I have voted for Clinton, Bush, and McCain, but do not subscribe wholeheartedly to either party. I have no problem with gay marriage or any other civil rights issue. I do, however, disdain big government and excessive spending. As you can see, I don't comfortably fit in either political party. But I do have a novel idea- bipartisanship.

. . . I listen to normal music. Today my kids and I were rocking out so much to Kings of Leon in the car that we actually took a wrong turn going to the soccer field which we have driven to many times. Later, after my oldest was out of the car, I then switched over to First Wave classic alternative (Curly Girl hates the station and refers to The Cure as The Disease) and later in the evening caught a great version of a 10,000 Maniacs song on Coffeehouse.

. . . I read all sorts of everything all the time and read Harry Potter and lots of other books to my kids. I'm definitely an equal-opportunity reader. That being said, I do watch what my kids watch, listen to, and read. My personal guidelines limit the kids' exposure to inappropriate language and sexual content.

. . . I expect my children to attend well-known universities, not small schools which cater to a small sub-section of the population.

So, you may ask, why do you homeschool?

. . . Academics, academics, academics. Before homeschooling my kids, I taught 4th and 5th grades in public and private schools. After boring myself teaching to standardized tests and seeing Curly Girl become more and more bored and disenchanted with school, my husband and I made the radical decision for me to leave the classroom to teach the kids at home. There is actually a much longer story here, but one that is best told on a personal level. The short version- IMHO, we're selling our kids short by not demanding more of them academically, especially bright kids who are being dumbed down in less-than-stimulating classroom settings.

. . . Flexibility. I love being able to take vacations at non-peak times of year (The kids and I had a blast at Disney's Blizzard Beach in early December.), adjust our schedule for real-life interruptions and activities, and take field trips to museums and nature trails whenever we want. While Curly Girl has been involved in a community theatre production over the last few weeks, it has been a blessing to be able to let her sleep in a bit later after late-night rehearsals.

. . . Passions. I truly, truly hope that homeschooling will allow my children to find their passions. Car Guy loves learning about engineering and architecture. Curly Girl is so enamored with fashion design that we are going to try to line up some sort of design course for her next year. As my children grow older, I hope to arrange internships so they can check out careers in which they may be interested.

. . . So my children can be children. Before continuing let me assure you that my children are receiving a more-than adequate education- even though they don't spend 7 hours a day behind a desk and another 2 hours at night doing homework. 7th grade Curly Girl recently rocked the SAT, and Car Guy can talk your ear off about axles, horsepower, and car models. I say those things not to brag, but to tell you that time spent sitting in a classroom does not always correlate to academic achievement. My kids roll out of bed about 7:30am and start school around 9. We usually end between 12 and 2, then the kids usually have time to play with Legos, draw, read, practice piano, etc. before heading out the door to soccer practices, swimming, theatre, and whatever activities they have going on that day. This afternoon, they shot hoops together outside enjoying the beautiful spring weather. At night, we usually hang out as a family, read together, etc.- not fight about homework or slap together teacher-assigned school projects.

So that's the deal with our family and homeschool. Every family has their own story, however, so please don't jump to conclusions when you learn that someone homeschools. While many homeschools and homeschoolers may look different than my family, I completely support their legal right to structure their homeschool in the ways they see fit. I support their right to their beliefs, as I hope they support mine.

Along this same topic, here is another great post about why an individual family chooses to homeschool:

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolving to Make Resolutions

I thought that I'd have more success sticking to my New Year's resolutions if I actually shared them with others. So here goes:

- Exercise regularly (3-4 times a week) and eat healthfully.

- Decide on our church home and become actively involved with it. Maintain a positive attitude about our family's choice.

- Be more intentional about my spiritual growth and that of my children.

- Read more for pleasure. I'd like to read a book a week, but that may be too aggressive of a goal.

- Be willing to forsake my schedule and to-do list for impromptu moments with my family.

Here goes! Wish me luck!