The Boot

Last Thursday the cast tech took the drill to my cast. The sound is much the like the soft buzz of a meat slicer. It’s a short blade that couldn’t injure my leg.  He started at the top of my leg. As he reached the ankle I could feel the vibrations around the bones of my ankle, a kind of tinkling sensation, not unpleasant. He did both sides then took these spreaders that pulled the cast apart. Big bandage scissors cut through the stockinette and I was free.

Prior to this I had been able to wiggle my toes, but now could move them, although stiffly.  I looked at  my ankle and noted that it was still swollen, could be just from the drive to the doctor and a bit of shopping. The skin on my feet looked crusty and uncared for. Pulling off the cast caused bits of dried skin to fall on the floor.

An xray showed that the fibula is healing well, but I still need support for a few weeks.  I was fitted with a walking boot, given easy exercises to do for now and I was on my way. I am to gradually increase my weight bearing each week. I will see the doctor in three weeks, perhaps to graduate to an ankle brace. I can go back to work when I can bear weight without assistance. I will wear the brace for a couple of months.

The boot is more bulky than the cast, but it protects my toes better. The velco straps are industrial strength, I have to really yank then to get them apart. If I don’t fold them over on themselves, they get stuck to everything.  I can wear a sock so I am warmer. The boot doesn’t fit as well on the scooter either.

As soon as I walked through the door at home I headed to the bathroom.  I sat on the shower bench with my foot in a tub of hot water, epsom salt and lavender essential oil. I scrubbed much of the dead skin off my leg and foot, the water was not clear.  I guess I put a bit extra of lavender because I was so relaxed afterwards.  I continue the foot soaks.  My feet have never had it so good.

I’ve started on the crutches, no big deal.  My ankle feels fine with a little bit of weight on it. I’m back and forth between crutches and scooter in the house.  I can carry things with the scooter.  I’ll be fine once the scooter needs to go back.

The exercises are easy for now.  Ankle rotations. Using a stretchy band to flex and contract the ankle.
As I do this I visualize the feel of the gas pedal. Keeps me motivated on that one.  Another exercise is writing the ABC’s with my foot.  Think about it…good rotation.

So I am well on my way back to work. Maybe another month. The experience has caused me to slow down, catch up on a few projects and reflect on what is important to me.  If I ever figure that out I will let you know.

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Library Books Due

Over fifty years ago I went into the Lane Public Library on Third Street in Hamilton, Ohio and signed up for my first library card. Today have my second overdue book in all that time.

I remember walking into the library in anticipation of a card of my own. I worked hard to sign my card as neatly as I could. Such an occasion, walking out of the library with my orange library card, probably tucked away someplace for safety. And probably a couple of books too.

I’ve cherished having a library card ever since even though for a lot years I spent more time in bookstores than in the library.  But there is something about a library.

For the past couple of months I have been scouting out the different libraries in the Sno-Isle system checking out knitting books.  I’d check them out, look through them and copy patterns I liked. (In addition to being addicted to knitting, I am addicted to knitting patterns.)  The week before I broke my ankle I was in Lynnwood doing some shopping, so I stopped in the library to peruse their knitting book collection.  I ended up checking out ten books.  I left them in the car to read when I was on the ferry or when Al drove.  The patterns I liked I marked to copy.  My plan was to stop stop at the library closest to me and copy them. I copy them at the library even though it costs me ten cents because the copy machine is bigger and makes better copies than my printer at home. Once they were copied I’d just return them. I had all these little pieces of scrap paper marking patterns I liked.  But not the time to stop.  Now I don’t have the means because of my ankle.

When I realized they were getting close to being due I went to the website to renew them.  I could do that  for all but one. So here I am with one book that is over due.  Next time we pass a library I will drop it into the bin.  I know someone else is waiting to make some beautiful piece of art for a loved one.

I don’t have a plan for the other nine. After my doctor’s appointment next week I will decide whether I can copy them on my own or just hand them back at the library. Do I really need more patterns?

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Scooting Around

ME with schooterMy progress is better everyday. The kneeler scooter helps.  I still have things to learn.  It is tough going outside on the gravel of our driveway.  I’ve been mostly staying home.

The scooter can fly too. I have to be careful on the hardwood floors.  I remember the walker the boys had when they were babies.  They’d be in the living room on the carpet, then come into the kitchen and fly across the floor using the momentum from their vigorous pushes on the carpet.  That’s what can happen to me when I go from the bedroom to the hallway. The difference is that they had shorter level of gravity.

Being on the scooter has shown me how weak I am all over.  Most of us have our habits of how we do things and maintain adequate strength to do those things.  I’m realizing how weak my arm strength  is; could be why I had so much trouble with the crutches and keeping balance. Getting out of low chairs is hard too.

Today I searched my book shelf for Strong Women, Stay Young  by Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D because I remember the exercises from quite a few years.  I also realize it doesn’t do  any good to just remember exercises, I have to DO them. So I have started working biceps, triceps, deltoid and trapezius muscles using light weights.  I also need to stretch.  I’ve been sitting in lots of awkward positions. I must get stronger to get through this and to prevent further problems as I get older. Notice I didn’t say age.

I’ve also advanced enough to get a shower.  We have these big plastic sleeves that covers up to my thigh. I sit on a bench with my leg outside.  Is there anything better than hot water?

Life is good!

Oh I almost forgot…I was forced postpone my ten-year colonoscopy. Darn!

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My First Cast

Ten days ago I fell at work and broke the fibula bone in my right ankle. One week ago a cast was placed for the first time in my life. So here’s how it goes.

As soon as I fell I knew this was more than a twisted ankle. I hobbled my way to the house and made arrangements to get it examined. When I called Al, I told him to bring the crutches from home because there was no way I could put weight on my ankle. We had a wait of about an hour at the walk-in clinic. The x-ray clearly showed the break. I was wrapped in a splint. An appointment with an orthopedic clinic was made for four days to be casted. Pain meds. Use crutches, no weight bearing. And we were on our way.

As long as I kept my leg elevated and didn’t put weight on my foot, I had no pain. I wasn’t doing well with the crutches though. Whenever I used crutches after my hip surgeries I put a little bit of weight on the ground, called toe-touch weight bearing. Now I couldn’t do that. I felt unbalanced. Al kept reminding me I wasn’t keeping the weight off. I knew it. I couldn’t help it.

Tuesday finally came for the casting appointment. I was up bright and early, looking forward to the restriction the cast would give me, holding that fibula in place.

About twenty years ago I bought a pair of culottes from Land’s End. I’m not sure what this article of clothing is called now. We called them culottes when I was in high school, gaucho pants later. A nice navy blue knit, pockets, pull-on, loose. I haven’t worn them in years. Rather out of style now. So many times the skirt/pants made it past the rule “If you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it.” Now I had the perfect thing to wear with a cast. My uniform when I go out for the next six weeks, functional, casual. And I’ll wear a bright colored sock on my left foot just for fun!

Fortunately we found a parking place in the garage right outside the door. It was pouring down rain. I slowly hobbled in, nervous about the puddles, slippery floors, just not feeling secure.

As we sat in the waiting room, another patient came with a scooter on which she kneeled. I felt like the kid outside the toy store at Christmas thinking “I want one of those.” We chatted for a few minutes about how much it has improved her life during her recovery.

Another hobble into the exam room where the splint was removed. I noticed how swollen the ankle was just from being the car for a couple of hours. The PA examined my leg again, went over the x-rays and told me the plan. The cast would be applied from just below my knee to my toes. I would come back in 2 weeks for the cast to be removed and an x-ray taken. According to my progress either another cast applied or a boot. I asked for and received a prescription for a scooter.

I asked about the Marniers Home Opener on April 8th. Five weeks to the day of my casting. Pushing things. The PA thought it could be tough, with crutches or even the scooter. I was confident I could do it. I told her about 1995 when I had had hip surgery, was on crutches and marched up to the second or third row from the top of the Kingdome to watch the Mariners in the play-offs. The big thing questioned about April 8th, was the cold. Opening day is always cold, even with the sun out. I thought of those five toes of mine open to the air. At least it is my decision.

My last hobble on the crutches to the cast room. I chose a bright Mariner blue for my cast color. As the tech applied the layers of the cast we talked a little sports. He kept looking at Al in the conversation, as if the fact that he was a guy he would know more than me. I just smiled knowing that the sports information in Al’s head was fed by me.

Getting up from the table, the three of us decided to take me to the car by wheelchair. Even with the cast I wasn’t supposed to put weight on the ankle. As I was being rolled through the waiting room I looked at my bright red painted toes showing outside my cast. I was happy for that pedicure last month.

Our first stop was the medical supply store where Al rented the scooter. I had my wheels.cast

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Looking Out

This morning I laid in bed for a few minutes, looking at the mountain picture on the wall. The foreground is a forest of dark evergreen trees, shading into blue-ish tinted mountains with peaks and valleys. The colors fade lighter and lighter into the distant soft colors of a sunrise in the mountains.

I remember the first time I stood at a viewpoint in Mt. Rainier National Park and saw a sight similar to this and realized that as a child, I sketched pictures like this. A simple drawing of lines showing distance hills and mountains. At that moment I knew I was at home in the Pacific Northwest. My childhood imagination impressed in me a connection to the mountains where I feel peace surrounding me in the trees, waterfalls and mountains.

This morning I saw something different in the picture. Today is my last day at Island Home Nursing. I visualize myself as in the foreground of the picture, the tall evergreen trees that have definition and purpose. The rest of the picture is not clear. Fuzzy. Hazy. Peaks and valleys. And beautiful. Inspiring. Many people climb mountains just to see what is on the other side.

For me, my strength is in the trees, my dreams in the peaks and valleys of the mountains. The journey up and down where I will learn lessons, grow stronger and realize the dreams that rest in my heart.

I will never look at the picture the same way again. Each time I walk into my bedroom, I will see my journey. I will count the dreams that I have realized already and I will keep dreaming. A long endless journey with joy in every step.

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Pay It Forward

I don’t use coupons, not since 2001.

In 2001 several parents, i.e. mothers, clipped coupons to raise money for the Senior Party.  In theory the kids would help too.  In theory.  So for about a month, several time a week, I went to Safeway and attached to coupons to products.  When the customer purchased the product they could use the coupon or donate it to our project.  My aisle was feminine hygiene products and over the counter cold and pain remedies.  After a month of that activity, I throw away the coupons out of the newspaper every Sunday.

Except.

Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics coupons, because I can use them for yarn.  The trick with those coupons is that they can usually only be used for one non sale item.  And lots of stuff is on sale.  And one skein of yarn is usually not enough.  A couple of times I have spent twenty minutes walking through Michal’s looking for something to use my 40% off coupon.  Then I realize if I have to look that hard, then it isn’t really something I need.  I’ve taken to finding someone in the store and giving it to them.  People really like that.

A couple of weeks ago it happened to me.  As I stood in the checkout line at JoAnn’s, a couple came up behind me and said they weren’t using their coupon and would I like it.  Of course I would!  When it was my turn to check out I handed the clerk the coupon.  All my items were on sale.  I couldn’t use the coupon. But…pay it forward works.

Another thing I like to do is let people who have one or two items in the grocery line go in front of me in the line at the grocery store.  That happened to me the other day too.  I ran into the store to get a small bag of trail mix from the bulk food section.  The lady in front of me had fifteen or twenty items in her cart and told me to go first.  Pay it forward again.

As the clerk rang up my purchase it came to $1.04. I hesitated.  The trail mix price on the bin was eight dollars and something.  I had a small bag, but not that  small.  Should I mention it or get away with my “deal”.  I knew I’d feel bad all day and especially eating the trail mix if I didn’t say something.  In that split second I decided.  “That really should be more.”  The clerk smiled and said, “We’ll just go with that.”

Pay It Forward.  It will come back to bless you.  Probably when you need it most.

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Used Books

A few weeks ago my friend Christine at work pulled this thick book out of her bag to read at lunch, Generations: A Century of Women Speak about Their Lives by Myriam Miedzian and Alisa Malinovich.  It contains stories told by three generations of women born in the 2oth century.  The book looked interesting, so I wrote the name on a piece of paper and slipped it into my purse.

I lent my copy of Trinity by Leon Uris and did not get it back.  I’ve read the book several times, but not in quite a few years. It is a book about Ireland around 1840 to 1922.  I read it for the first time in the 1970’s because my sister Janet recommended.  My mother and sister, Mart, shared it too.  I loved the story.  All this before I learned of my Irish heritage.  Now it is part of my story too.

Around the 4th of July I received an email from Powell’s books in Portland Oregon with an offer I can never, ever, refuse.  Free Shipping.  To make it even better (or worse however you want to look at it) there was no minimum.

After our Flag Raising on the 4th, I sat at my computer ordering books.

Last week they came.  Trinity was in better shape than the one I lost.   Generations also.  I opened it up and just read one essay while I was cooking dinner.  Oh how much our mothers and grandmothers went through for us.  We still have a ways to go.

Last week I shopped at the WAIF (Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation) Thrift Store on my lunch hour.  I usually start at the books first.  I was looking for some David Baldacci books that we don’t have.  He is such a quick read, I would rather spend less on them.  It looked like someone had just donated a bunch of books, they had lots of old ones.  Remember the days when the outside of book was pretty?  Anyway, I found a copy of The Tiger’s Woman by Celeste DeBlasis.  I have a copy of the book, but mine is so well used that I worried it would fall apart on the next read.  I bought it for 75 cents.

A funny story about The Tiger’s Woman. In late 1980 as I was preparing to have my hips replaced for the first time so I bought a bunch of books to have on hand after surgery.  It turns out I think I read most of them before the surgery.  The Tiger’s Woman is set in Seattle and the San Juan islands of the 1870’s.  I loved the story, especially the fact it was in Seattle.  One day Mommy was at our house helping with Matt and she told me she found the book I had been reading and she really enjoyed it, could she let Iris read it too?  I didn’t now what to say.  I would never have shared the book with her because of the racy loves scenes it contained.  Well, it was too late for that.  I think all of her friends read the book too.  I’m not sure if I didn’t want her to know I read books like that or if I didn’t want to know that she read books like that.

So you see I love books for the stories they contain and for the stories around the books themselves.  Whenever I read my original copy of The Tiger’s Woman, I remember Mommy’s hands held the book too.  More connection.

By the way, if you are in Portland Oregon, you need to stop and spend several hours at Powell’s books.  You never know what you will find.  Check them out at powells.com.  Maybe you will get a free shipping coupon too!

 

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