Put Them All Together They Spell M.O.T.H.E.R

Moms senior picture...beautiful!

 

That simple song that we was always worked into the Mother-Daughter banquets at church years ago. I can remember proudly sitting next to my mother, along with my two sisters, and thinking I surely had the best mother in the room. Not one woman could ever have topped her.  She has been gone for almost 15 years now, although if I sit quietly and let my mind wander back I can still see her like it was yesterday.  How fitting is the song MOTHER?  I can remember growing up looking at my mom and I was in awe at the beauty she brought to our lives.  She always was the last to eat, the last to leave the house, the last to get into the car, that last to buy new clothes, the last to go to bed, the last to sit down for the evening.  She was the first to get up in the morning, the first to volunteer to help where needed, the first to organize any event that needed organizing, the first to be there for anyone that needed help.

M is for the many things she gave me:  Where does one begin to possibly to realize the things a mother has given for her children?  She started by giving me life and then spent the rest of hers being sure my and my sisters lives were as wonderful as she was able to give.  By being such a wonderful role model she gave me the skills to run a tight home, to try and be fair when raising my children, although I have stumbled just as I am sure she felt that way at times. She taught by example, always be kind to everyone, no matter what their circumstances, even when they are unkind to you, and always be humble. No matter what, she put on a brave face and tackled what life threw her way.

O means only that she’s growing old. Unfortunately my mom was taken from us at the age of 63.  Way too soon and very unfair that she worked so very hard through her life, only to be called home soon after retiring.  One thing I know for sure is that she never complained about being ill, or being scared knowing that her days on earth were coming to an end.  She had such poise and grace, and in turn gave us the poise and grace to let her live the last months of her life as she wanted, surrounded by family.  Family was very important to her, and that was also passed on to her girls.  We all go on vacation together just as our entire extended family vacationed together when we were young.  My mom will forever be young and vibrant in my mind.

T is for the tears she shed to save meWhere does a daughter begin to explain her regrets at the tears that she had caused her mom through her life?  I know I caused both happy and sad tears to flow from my moms eyes, and every tear caused me more pain than her.  I remember telling her that ‘I hated her’ and then stormed up to my room.  I felt so bad that I went downstairs and found her crying in the living room. My mom was not a crier, so I knew at that point I had hurt her to her core. From that point on I never uttered those words again. When I lost my son I remember going into the house before the funeral and breaking down telling her that I didn’t think I could go through with it. She just gently ran her hand through my hair and said that I would in fact get through the funeral.  As the tears were falling from her eye she reminded me that this experience would make me a stronger woman.  How wise were those words?  How did she know the truth in that sentence? Only one way, and that was from her personal experience of going through the fire and coming out an even better and stronger person.

H is for her heard of purest gold!  If there actually is a heart of purest gold then hers was the biggest.  Again she taught by example, from taking groceries to those in need, to hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at the church for those who had no where to go (at our family’s expense), to having our family give up Christmas presents so we could buy for a family in need (way before that was the cool thing to do), to feeding the less fortunate kids breakfast at school when she knew they were hungry, especially after being told that it wasn’t her job (again at her expense), to showing kindness and a smile to everyone, from the cashier at the grocery store to the waitress in the restaurant.  Everyone deserved the same respect.

E if for her eyes with love light shining. Anyone who knew Marilyn knew that once you asked her about her children and grandchildren that “love light” shone like a beacon in the darkest night.  Her kids and grandchildren were her life, they were the reason she was put on this earth. For that I will be eternally grateful to the woman that I was honored to call my mom.  She loved us all the same, but for different reasons because not a one of us is the same.  Three different personalities, three different life choices, three different wants and needs.  There was nothing she would not do for her children and grandchildren.  Unselfish and incredibly giving.

R means right and right she’ll always be. Well I am here to tell you right now that she was always 99% right and there was a 99% chance of you winning an argument or debate.  She was one of the most intelligent self taught woman I have ever known.  She raised three daughters to be strong women, and we knew once we graduated from high school we WOULD GO TO COLLEGE!!! In her eyes we needed to be able to take care of ourselves if we were alone.  If wasn’t a debate, it was a fact! She worked very hard, often time having 2 jobs, and she always wanted our lives to be better than hers.  Isn’t that what every mother wants?  I have always wanted my kids to do better than me, and to grow up to be loving responsible people.  They have all achieved my dream of them excelling in life.  I am so incredibly proud of my children and step children.  They are all amazing young people who respect others, love God, while also being humbled at what life has given them.  If I have been half of the mother to them as my mother was to me then I can leave this earth knowing I have completed the job that the good Lord entrusted me with.  There are no manuals that come along with these babies, but I was blessed with the best role model in the world, and that made my job a no brainer!  If your mom is still with you, please give her a hug and an “I Love You” and don’t take for granted that she will be here next Mothers day.  For now I will send my mom her Happy Mothers Day wish tonight before I go to bed when I say my evening prayers.

SO PUT THEM ALL TOGETHER THEY SPELL MOTHER. A WORD THAT MEANS THE WORLD TO ME. Miss you and love you mom!

 

 

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Things I’ve Learned About Love

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

Recently I had a setback in my life which involved a repeat surgery on my right knee to resolve and infection that had set in.    This left me with 2 months at home, which is a long time to think and contemplate life in general.  Things once again were put into perspective and I found myself placing life and people back in their proper places.  Along my 2 month journey I realized just what a good husband is, and just how wonderful a respectful strong marriage can be.  This is a second marriage for both of us and we often discuss how the mistakes we made in our first marriages have  allowed us to build a firm foundation. I was married for 27 years and had 4 wonderful children.  My ex-husband and I just could no longer band together to fight off the challenges that the world threw at us.  You just drift apart and realize you are just 2 people living in the same house. I challenged myself this last 2 months to keep a running list of things that I have learned since remarrying a year ago.  I know many people who are struggling in their marriages/relationships and perhaps it’s never to late to learn from an others mistake.

These are the 9 p0ints that I realize that will help make a marriage succeed.

     1.  PICK YOUR BATTLES:  I used to think that if I won an argument then I was the winner.  WOW…there are no winners in an argument, especially one that escalates to name calling or violence.  One of you has to remain calm when the other one is fired up.  Take a walk, go into another room, just get away from each other. Take at least 15 minutes to calm down.  Is what you are arguing about really important?  Does it really matter if you win?

     2.  DO NOT SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF.  Trust me, there is bigger “stuff” that will come into your life and you need that soulmate to be your back up person.

     3.   BITE YOUR TONGUE!  Go ahead BITE IT….bite it until it hurts if you have to.  Don’t let those angry bitter words come out of your mouth. Sometimes words hurt so bad that you think being hit would hurt less.  Although I can not imagine being struck by another person, I know it happens, and either spouse can be the one swinging.  Come on, it can’t make you feel good, so try to stop and get help. Please……

     4.  DO THING TOGETHER.  Try to go out on a ‘date.”  When your kids are young they become your whole life and then they grow up and you look at your spouse and don’t remember how to be a couple again.  I have learned to share his love of guns, he has learned to share my love for different kinds of music. ( although I will probably never be a fan of TV cattle/bull auctions and curling)

     5.  BE A TEAM.  Support that person you married.  Life is so much better when you come home from a bad day at work and they will allow you to vent (but not too much because nobody loves a Debbie or Donnie Downer)  We have said that no matter how bad the day is once we walk into the house we know it will be a refuge.  A place to share the good and the bad, the worries and the achievements.  Often times you can’t do anything but listen, because they really don’t want your advise, they just need to share.

     6.  BUILD A BOND.  The two of you will have memories that no one else has, and you will have challenges that others may not have.  One has to be strong when the other is weak, and men…it’s ok to be weak.  A loving mate will step up to the plate and be your rock.

     7.  DON’T BE THE ONLY ONE GIVING.  If you find that you are the only one of the team that’s giving then you need to be open and tell him or her how you feel.  This is the way it should go: I do nice things for you and you do nice things for me.  Kind of like what we learned in kindergarten?  Nothing will kill a persons soul faster than giving and never receiving.

     8.  SAY: “I love you” and REALLY MEAN IT.  Look them in the eye and say it.  Say it often!  Can a spouse every get tired of hearing that they are loved?   Tell them how nice they look, even when it may be a stretch.  There have been times this past 2 months that I have looked like a train wreck and always have been made to feel like the most beautiful gal in the world.  This is something that I will always remember.

     9.  TRY not to say anything to humiliate your spouse.  And for heavens sake don’t say something and then say “I was just joking or I didn’t mean it”  Respect, respect, and respect. I can’t imagine ever saying anything to embarrass my husband, especially in public.  ITS UGLY and it makes you look ugly.

There are advantages to second marriages, your kids are grown, you both have hopefully learned from your past mistakes and are willing to correct them, and you usually you are better off financially.  Those days of scrimping to pay medical bills, groceries, school expenses, etc are usually gone.  Perhaps if I had followed those simple 9 steps years ago things would be different now, but I took the leap of faith and knew I would be emotionally healthier alone.  As for my second marriage, I can’t even explain the feeling of security, friendship and love that I have found.  My soul has come alive again and with the help of God and my husband there is nothing I can not do or handle.  My wish is that all couples (whether in their first or second marriage) can find this special gift at some point in their lives. ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

SMASHED POTATOES.

I try to find the bags of small potatoes in the produce section.  If you can find the ones in a microwavable bag that’s even better.  They come in all kinds of varieties, so choose the ones that appeal to you.

  Microwave or boil potatoes until just fork tender.  Don’t overcook.

Place potatoes on a baking sheet  (I always put parchment paper down first)

Gently press down  to smash each potato (I use the flat bottom of a glass)

Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, garlic, chopped green onions, (there is no right or wrong, use what tastes good to you)

Bake about 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees or until the potatoes are lightly browned.

They are so sweet and excellent as a side dish.

Often we will use a big cookie sheet and add cauliflower florets, baby carrots, thinly sliced  peppers, or whatever is in the fridge.  Just drizzle with olive oil and season to taste.  Bake along with the potatoes.

Ok Simple Simon…I’m Done Playing Your Silly Game

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

With Simple Simon breathing down my neck I make my next move and visit the surgeon who will take care of me now.  I am aware that there are 2 procedures that I am now facing. One is where he will cut open my knee and clean up the infection by cutting away any infected tissue, repairing, and then flushing out my knee with copious amounts of fluid.  The second scenario is that he will take out the 7 month old hardware, place a spacer in there and then reopen the knee in 6 weeks and place in new hardware.  With either scenario I will be on IV antibiotics for 4-6 weeks.  Now at this point I am very discouraged because this time around I know what’s coming.  I know how difficult and trying the recovery will be, and the thought of IV therapy almost puts me in a whole other state of panic.  So 3 days after my ER visit my husband and I are sitting in the exam room waiting for my sentencing.  The surgeon arrives and begins….lab work shows that my infection is strep in nature (the same strep that is on our skin), the culture shows that this bug is susceptible to all antibiotics (which means theoretically the infection will respond well to any antibiotics),  he will need to perform surgery as soon as we can schedule it, and I will need to be on IV antibiotic for 4-6 weeks, then oral antibiotics for an unknown amount of time.  At this point the strong woman that is usually inside my soul is now broken down and is replaced with a hopeless and desperate soul.  I begin to break down and then I see my husbands face and realize I’m not in this alone so I take a deep breath and brace myself.  At that point we schedule surgery for the following Monday.

The surgery is performed and I am pleased that the pain is not as intense as the initial knee replacement. He had to cut away inflamed tissue, replaced the loose prosthesis in my tibia, and placed a larger spacer because he had to cut away some of the bone.  At this point bone samples are sent to pathology and hopefully a repeat surgery will not be needed. This time the main objective is not physical therapy,  but creating a plan to clear up this infection.  I am seen by a specialist who will take over my antibiotic treatment both in the hospital and at home.  On day 3 they insert a PICC line and on day 4  I am sent home to begin recovery.  Home health is scheduled, the toilet seat is replaced with a raised seat , the CPM machine is in place on the bed in the spare bedroom, and the ice packs are ready in the freezer, and the extra pillows are put into the recliner to avoid too much pain from getting into a standing position.  After arriving home we realize we left the walker in the hospital room, but I realize that I really don’t even need it.

My first visit with the home health nurse was stressful to say the least.  I am supposed to give myself the antibiotics 3 times a day, as equally spaced out as possible (give or take an hour either way) and I chose 6am, 2pm and 10pm.  Unfortunately the nurse made her visit at 10am so my first dose will be done without her supervision.  She gives me directions, which I write down, and she assures me that in a week this will be “easy as pie.”  At 2pm I followed my written instruction and successfully gave myself the first dose.  The scary thing is that this catheter is inside my body 43 inches and is resting right outside my heart, and being a nurse a million scenarios are going through my mind.  One thing I have come to realize is that you can be a nurse by profession but once you are the patient or the patients loved one, your knowledge will either help or hinder you.  The physical therapist visits 2 times a week and I reach my goals of a 120 degree bend and zero when the leg is stretched out, by the end of week 4.

It has now been 5 weeks and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The depression that hit me like a ton a bricks is leaving, I can once again lift my leg into the shower, lift it into the bed, put on my shoes and socks, and am almost pain free except when I go from a sitting to standing position.  I can walk up stairs foot over foot and can go down the same way if I have 2 rails to hold onto.  I can do the IV therapy in my sleep, and the old toilet seat is back in place.  I have stored the walker in the basement and have less than 1 week left of house arrest, when I can return to the job I love and have missed for almost 2 months.  I have found out that my very supportive husband knows how to step up to the plate! He has wrapped my arm before each shower so the PICC line does not get wet, has put on my shoes and socks as if I was 2 years old, held me when I needed to cry, and helped me clean up when the antibiotic wreaked havoc on my stomach and I would lose my meals. I will never forget the night he made me laugh out loud and he just smiled and said “It’s so good to hear you laugh again honey!”  I realize that with every challenge that God has given me he has placed the people in my life to help me through this difficult time. I also realize that the list of these wonderful people is long and priceless, from our Pastor and his wife, to the friends that have sent cards, visited, sent words of encouragement,  and my wonderful husband and children.

So Simple Simon, I have taken back all of the bunny hops, and lost steps I have taken backwards and this train is now moving forward.  It is my hope that this will be my last game I play in awhile! ♥

 

FOOD FOR THE BODY

Crock Pot Chicken and Noodles

1 Large can cream of chicken soup

1 Large can chicken broth

3-4 boneless chicken breasts

1 stick of butter

Place all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or until the chicken is done.

Shred the chicken and place back into the broth

Season with salt, pepper, garlic power, onion powder (the list is endless, up to you)

Turn up to HIGH and add enough of the Amish style noodles (thicker ones) to the point they are covered by the broth, and cook for 1 hour.

After an hour stir and enjoy.

I know I’ve included this one in the past, but it is so yummy and easy that I wanted to share it again!

Simple Simon says “Take Two Steps Back!”

My goodness how I hated playing Simple Simon as a kid.  I always seemed to be messing up, which meant I was the one who was out first.  I’d like to tell you that it was because even as  a child I was a rebel, the one who refused to take orders, but in fact I was the one who just could not pay attention long enough to actually win one single game.  Now that I am well into my fifties I can still say the taking two steps back simply sucks!  I know that this is a brash way to put it, but how can you sugar coat a steps taken backward?

Simple Simon says “Take 2 steps backward”–In the summer of last year I had bilateral total knee replacement surgery.  It was a huge decision to make, but considering the fact that the bones in each knee were meeting and rubbing against each other every time I moved made the decision a little easier.  I was so tired of being unable to walk, get up from a chair, or even roll over in bed without pain.  When I received shots of cortisone my knees felt like they did as a child and my quality of life had improved immensely. Unfortunately in 2-3 weeks the pain returned and my spirits just seemed to sink lower into the abyss.  The decision was made and surgery was completed.

Simple Simon says “Take 3 steps forward” — I worked hard during my recovery, which was long and pretty tough at times, but I needed to push on, suck up the pain, and get better.  After 8 weeks I returned to work and life resumed at our normal fast pace.

Simple Simon says “Take 2 steps backward”– There was just that one little thing…..the sharp stabbing pain in my right knee that I had when I tried to get up from a low chair during therapy.  I called the doctor and he said that it sounded like a “patellar clunk”, which is scar tissue that catches on the patella when a person goes from a sitting to a standing position.  Well wasn’t that just dandy!

Simple Simon says “Take 2 steps forward”–Arthroscopic surgery was scheduled for December 22nd on an outpatient basis.  Scar tissue removed, no complications, and surgery was deemed a success.  I was told to take it easy, stay off my feet as much as possible and return in 2 weeks.  OOPS…did anyone remember Christmas was coming in 3 days?  My husband and I have 6 children, 2 daughter in-laws, 2 son ♥in-laws, a girlfriend and 3 granddaughters who were depending on us.  Plus 2 huge meals with extended families were scheduled to be held at our home.  I am the ultimate list maker/organizer so I had all of the shopping, gift buying and wrapping, and grocery shopping done before the surgery so the holiday came and went with surprising ease. (it helps to have a husband who will pitch in like a pro without a complaint)

Simple Simon says “Take 3 steps backward”–Two weeks later I return to the doctor.  There is some swelling above my knee near the outer area and they think that some blood may have pooled there.  Easy fix….just stick a huge needle into my knee and try to aspirate the blood.  Do I want to do it?  If not then it will take a long time for the blood to be absorbed into the tissues which is causing a tight feeling in my knee.  I agree and they spray a local anesthetic ( to freeze the skin) and in goes the needle that is attached to a 20 or 30cc syringe.  OMG I am telling you right now that the pain from that needle was horrific, and I swear I am tough.  The bad thing was that apparently the blood had clotted and nothing would aspirate.  I finally told him that was enough and please stop.  A band aid was put in place and I was told to come back in 4 weeks.  This floored me because I was already off for 2 weeks which I thought would be the extent of my time off.  Four more weeks at home, four more weeks away from the job I loved, four more weeks of sick time to be burned up.  Luckily I am seldom sick so I had a good bank of time saved up, but this caught me totally off guard.  After about a week I finally worked it out in my head and realized that this was for the best and settled in for four more weeks at home.

Simple Simon says “Take 4 more steps and a small hop backwards”–Three short days later my knee continues to be swollen and tender, but it’s tolerable.  That morning I went into the bathroom to get ready for the day, only to realize that blood/fluid is shooting out of one of the previous steri stripped areas from having my staples removed.  It took a long time to get the bloody fluid to stop, but finally I was able to clean and dress the area and secure it with an ace wrap, just like they did at the doctors office.  The swelling was almost gone and the pain had subsided.  Perfect, I reasoned, this was the fluid they were trying to aspirate the other day, and I went on with my day.  By bedtime that day my right knee is once again swollen and the pain has increased.  I limp off to bed only to realize that I can’t get comfortable.  After tossing and turning I decide to try to get up and sit in the recliner.  I actually took 2 pain pills (not much of a pain pill fan) but by 3am I realize things are spiraling downward and we decide I go to the emergency room then perhaps they can drain it again.  The wait was surprisingly short and the ER Doc comes in, asks a few questions and proclaims that  “This is a surgical knee and I won’t touch it!”, “You should have called your doctor instead of coming in here”, “I will give you some pain pills and wrap your knee and run some blood tests but you need to follow-up with your surgeon!” At this point I have had no sleep, I am in pain and I just look at her and tell her “Never mind, we will just go home because I don’t need pain pills and I won’t pay for any blood work” and at 5am we are on our way home.

Simple Simon says “Take 6 more steps, a cha-cha, and a huge bunny hop backwards”–We were hosting our family Christmas that day at noon so we try to get a few hours sleep and begin the preparation for the dinner.  There actually was very little to do since we did most of the prep work the day before, so we welcomed 18 people for lunch.  Unfortunately as the day goes on I am drooping more and more and by 1pm I have a 101 fever.  This time my husband has my surgeon paged and together they decide I need to return to the ER, and either he or his PA will meet us there.  So with a house full of guests we leave the kids in charge of handing out presents and off we go. I get streamlined right in since they know I am coming and the PA meets us.  Once again he tries to aspirate the fluid that seems to be on my knee.  This time there is no spray to freeze my skin so we decide to use some Lidocaine first.  The problem is that this time I know what to expect, but the thought of some relief overcame my dread.  My husband parks himself on my left and let me squeeze his hand as the PA is trying to get something, ANYTHING, out of me knee.  The pain was even worse than the last aspiration, but he was able to get about 5cc of fluid out.  At least there was something to sent to the lab so we could see just what we were dealing with.  I am then discharged to go home with a referral to see another surgeon in the practice that deals with “complications.”   I’d love to say that this is the end of the story, but it’s just the beginning of another adventure. I’ve played the game of Simple Simon and I have now taken a small and huge bunny hop, a cha-cha, and 19 steps back, with the question being “When can I begin taking just a few steps forward?”  ♥

 

 

Lights Please

jondeere

 

Yesterday we were blessed with a rain/sleet/ice storm.  We saw all of the warnings the night before…high winds, sleet, dropping temperatures, beginning after 3am.  My husband and I sat cozily on the love seat in the den watching TV,  with our 16 year old daughter watching TV in the living room, perusing Facebook on her phone.  Plugged in to the charger in the kitchen was her new tablet that she got for Christmas, and plugged into a charger in the living room was her tablet from school, should she decide to do a little homework.   We had received a phone call earlier that day from our son in Dallas saying that he, his very pregnant wife and our 3 precious granddaughters spent hours in a closet with at mattress over them as the tornadoes ravaged the surrounding areas.  Our daughter in Seattle had called earlier in the week saying that she had to get off of the phone because it was starting to snow.  Being raised a Midwestern girl she did not have a problem driving in snow, but people living out there seem to panic when a dusting of snow falls from the sky.  As we retired for the night, I could hear the wind picking up, but decided to snuggle in and get a good nights rest.

Monday morning started out as usual, the hubby was sent off to work and I decided that I would put my feet up for a little while and then get busy for the day.  ( I had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee last week so I am off work for a few days)  As I was about to get up and do a few things around the house it happened…blink…blink…dim…dim…out the lights went, off went the tv, and at that point life as we knew it was over.  My husband called from work and said that they were working on generator power, I told him the electricity just went off, we spoke a few more minutes and said our goodbyes.  As I hung up I realized that without electricity we had no power to run the sump pump, which meant a flooded basement for sure.  I quickly texted my husband and he said a few choice words and said he would hurry home to start the generator.  At this point I realized just how much we rely on electricity.  First:  I decided I would get the generator out of the garage to have it ready to go when he gets here….wrong!  I could not for the life of me get that garage door open without the opener.  Second:  I realized that we needed gas to run the generator…hmmm…where are the cans?  How can we get gas if the gas pumps can’t pump because no electricity?  Third:  Do I have cash on hand in case the debit card machine does not work?

So after maneuvering his way through back roads because of downed power lines and flooded roads, he arrives to pick up our daughter, 2 gas cans, and they head out to the gas station near the interstate, which seems to have lights.  SCORE!!! They come back with 10 gallons of gas, paid with the debit card.  Now getting the generator going took some coaxing, pleading, and a few choice words, but finally it fired up.  Down went an extension cord to the basement and the sump pump was once again pumping.  Just in time too because the water was beginning to back up into our daughters bedroom, but nothing was damaged.  So I received instructions on what to do if the electricity comes back on, and off he goes to finish his day.  For the rest of the afternoon Maddie and I spent time playing on our phones, reading, and trying to keep our sanity.  Of course the phones had to be plugged into the cars chargers, and on the way out hers dropped briefly into the water.  Now we have a whole new problem on our hands… and into some dry rice it goes.

About 4:30 we were so pleased because the lights came on….the generator was stopped and the sump pump plugged in, where it continued to run and run and run.  I quickly made supper, cleaned up the mess and supper was on the table as my husband arrived home, cold and exhausted.  Unfortunately, our joy was short lived because poof…off it went right after I took the food out of the oven. A romantic candlelit dinner for 3 was on the menu for the evening.  SO…out comes the generator, the sump pump get plugged in and we wait…and wait…and wait.. At one point a fire is started in the fireplace, I decided to be greedy and use up some of the hot water for a shower, and we wait…and wait…and wait.  The phone, ( Maddies is not charging at this point) gets plugged into the car again since we need an alarm for the morning, and about 10pm we decide to just go to bed and hope it comes on by morning.  OK…at this point my hubby has made numerous trips to the basement to plug in each freezer for awhile, and to be sure that sump pump is working.  I looked at him at one point with such respect and awe at the responsibility that he assumed to keep our home going as well as possible, and all without a complaint.  I always know that he is in charge and will do what ever is necessary to protect us and keep us safe.

So the generator got one last fill of gas, and we head to bed…only to realize that there is no electricity to run our C-pap machines…CRAP!  Anyone who sleeps with this little breathing machine knows how hard it is to sleep without it…plus at this point the temperature in the house iis dipping close to 63 degrees.  We just look at each other, I set the alarm on my phone and we fall into a restless sleep with the reassuring sound of the John Deere generator running outside our bedroom window.  Fast forward to 3:18 am….the lights come on….the generator is now shut down, and for a few hours, before daylight, life returns as we know it, never to take something as simple as flipping on a light switch to get light for granted again!  Thank you to those men and women who were out in the weather fixing the power lines so that we could resume a life of laundry, meals, cleaning, and using our numerous electronic toys again.   We truly appreciate your dedication!

 

 

My New Knees: What In The World Was I Thinking!

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

This week is the 4 week mark of recovery from bilateral total knee replacement, or TKR for short.  My last blog was at day 13 and I realize today how far I have come, while realizing how far I have to go.  At that point I was still using the CPM machines several times a day, but those are now gone, along with $150 that was to cover the one machine that my insurance didn’t cover.  Huh….they knew I had 2 done but only paid to rehab one knee????  Anyway, also gone is the Game Ready Machine that I used frequently to help combat swelling.  It was so cool because these sleeves that I strapped on both knees both applied compression while ice water ran through them, and they were wonderful.  I turned them in along with a check for $350 to cover the rental because they were not covered by insurance.  Now I am a tight wad and really considered skipping this machine but my son and daughter in law had both used one and strongly recommended paying the money, and I am glad I took their advise.  Before surgery I had borrowed a walker, quad cane and raised toilet seat from a company near my home and they are ready to be returned.  I kept my faithful walker near me for the first 2 weeks, and then I got braver and felt stronger so I would travel around the house without it.  One day my daughter, and personal aide, came to me in the bathroom with her hands on her hips, and sternly asked “Mom where is your walker!”  I looked at her with my best puppy dog eyes and said ” I’m not sure where I left it?”  She found it and put it within my arms reach and I had decided at that point that she would NOT be the one I would live with in my old age! I stood there and began giggling at the thought of a 56 year old woman being asked by her 16 year old where her walker was….then had a good belly laugh.  The best thing was the raised toilet seat, which my hubby attached for me.  This little piece of plastic saved me quite a bit of pain by cutting the distance from standing to sitting by about 6 inches.  Trust me, when both knees don’t want to bend, 6 inches is like 6 feet.  The funny thing is that the other 2 people in the house refused to use that toilet, which I didn’t understand, but having the bathroom to myself was wonderful!  Last week I felt my knees were strong enough to try it without the seat and took it off.  There was a squeal from the bathroom when Madison realized it was off, and now the bathroom once again has a revolving door.

I have sent back the charger and portable machine that belonged to the dreaded “squeezers” that I tried to use during the night.  I used them for 3 weeks and then it was determined that since I was up much of the day, they were no longer necessary.  I have avoided getting a blood clot, which was my worse fear and for this I am grateful.  My surgeon said that for some reason at the 6 week recovery mark the chances of a DVT rise as well, so I will be sure to avoid sitting for over 2 hours and will keep these legs moving.

I used the narcotic pain medication for the first 2 weeks, but soon realized that they were adding to my insomnia, so they have been retired and I use over the counter pain relievers once daily.  They kept telling me that there would be pain, but it was different pain.  Now I realize what they were talking about, now it’s surgical pain, not pain inside my knees from bone rubbing on bone.  Don’t get me wrong, pain is pain no matter how you slice it, but it’s controllable while also being a nuisance.

I have realized that this adventure is 25 % physical and 75% mental.  A person has to be ready mentally to do this because before you realize it you want to give up and depression quickly follows.  You need people in your life to kick you in the behind when you need it, while also being prepared to just hug you while you cry from pain and frustration.  This is a solo fight and you soon realize that you are the only one who can get you better.  Same goes for physical therapy.  It can be brutal and painful, but I realize that is true when they say “No pain, No gain!!”

I mark my life at this point in mini milestones…little successes.  By 6 days I was able to bend my knees at a 90 degree angle, at 2 weeks I was at 115.  I am able to go up and down the basement stairs, although can only go up foot over foot and going down I have to put both feet on the step before going down the next one. Part of this is fear on my part, but I will remain patient and continue with the steps at therapy.  I took out the mat that I stood on in the shower because I feel safer now, I have now moved out of my husbands recliner and back on the couch ( although I sit on a pillow because the couch is low), and I am able to sit in a regular chair and get up with minimal pain.  The other night I came out after my shower smiling because I was able to put my foot up on the closed toilet seat to dry my legs….something so simple for most, but was impossible for me.  It’s the little things that keep me going.

At 2 weeks I was going stir crazy in the house and had Maddie bring up the riding lawn mower to see if I could get on it.  I realize now how funny I looked parking my walker next to the mower and slowly getting on, but away I went to mow for the first time with my new knees.  Now I am able to walk to the shed and get it out myself.

The walker…well we became best friends for a few weeks, as if it was an extension of me. We had to take up all of the throw rugs so that I wouldn’t trip, which is a good thing because that walker was good a snagging anything in its way.  I could not get up from a sitting position without it, and held my head up proudly walking down the sidewalk with it. Mentally I reasoned that it would not allow me to fall, when in reality it would go down with me should I stumble.  Right after the 2 week mark I began leaving it in the car and walked while holding onto my husbands arm.  He is a tall sturdy chap and there was something wonderful walking with my arm through his bent arm…kind of old fashioned and loving at the same time ♥  So the walker is now in the back of my SUV and the rugs are back in place.

Sleep….hmmm what is that exactly?  If I am lucky I get one full nights sleep a week.  More often than not I toss, turn, and finally get up and read for several hours until I literally pass out.  It seems that this is a common complaint as it is hard to find a comfortable position, plus my legs get restless, causing even more frustration.  The nights can be very long when you think the whole world is sleeping except you.  Just not sure how this is going to work when I have to return to work?  Perhaps I will sleep better?  Time will tell.

As you can see I am avoiding the notebook that I wrote my notes in while in the hospital, which is odd I realize.  At this point I am not ready to relive that first week.  Its true when they say recovery is determined by two’s….the first two days you are thinking “What in the he## did I do?….the first 2 weeks you are thinking “Hey I think I can do this”…and by 2 months you are realizing that “Boy am I happy I had this done!”  So now that I am past the first two weeks and half way to the two month mark  I need to look forward and not backward.  Perhaps as this adventure continues I will look at my notes and write about it from the beginning.  I know that it will help others but right now I need to work on healing and also trying to not walk like a duck!  Quack Quack ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

CROCK POT CHICKEN AND NOODLES

PLACE IN CROCK POT:

3 boneless chicken breasts (I use the frozen ones in a bag)

1 large can Cream of Chicken soup

1 stick of butter

1 large can chicken broth

Cook on LOW 6-7 hours, or until chicken is done.

Remove the chicken, shred and return to crock pot.

I now stir in salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Turn crock pot on HIGH and add about a bag and a half of the Amish type noodles. I add enough to be covered by the broth.

Cook covered for 1 hour on high, stir and enjoy.

NOTE:  don’t use regular noodles because they will turn to mush…use the thicker ones.

My New Knees…Take One!

Twelve days ago I went into the hospital at 11 o’clock and was taken back at about 2:30 for my surgery.  The surgery was expected to last 3 hours, minimum, since I was having both knees replaced.  My expectation was that I would blog at the end of every day in order to be able to describe things such as pain level, therapies that were done, etc….I am here to tell you that BOY I WAS WRONG!  I took a notebook as a back up and figured that I could write in it daily and then transpose my notes into a nice little daily blog.  Twelve days later I  think I remember writing in the book, but for the life of me I can’t even tell you if the book is unpacked yet!  Life as I knew it is no longer a possibility….now my life consists of physical therapy exercises 3 times a day, laying in the spare bedroom in the 2 CPM machines that I am renting, and/or sitting in the recliner with the Game Ready Ice machine flowing cold water and soft compression through the binders that I strap on both knees.

Sleep is a suggestion at this point…last night we went to bed at 10.  After tossing and turning, propping and unpropping my legs with pillows, turning to my right, then to my left, then on my back, until I finally figured out by 1am that sleep will be evasive.  I have these pads that my husband straps around my calves every night and they alternately squeeze throughout the night to prevent blood clots.  The problem with these squeezers is that every time I move, they slide down to my ankles.  Talk about frustration!  At 1 am last night I unhooked the squeezers and went to the bathroom to figure out a way to shave my wooly legs, then back to bed by 1:40.  At 2:30 I still couldn’t find a way to lay without pain so off go the squeezers and to the kitchen I head.  Perhaps a snack will help me sleep?  All I can carry is a small bag of cashews, so I gingerly carry them back to the bedroom, put on my squeezers and sit propped up next to my peacefully sleeping husband to eat the cashews.  By 4 I have now moved into every conceivable position with no relief so all that’s left to do is cry. DId I mention that tears come quite easily?  Finally I just prop up, adjust the freakin squeezers for the 400th time, and close my eyes.  3 hours later I feel a warm hand reach for mine and realize I slept.

My 16 year old daughter Maddie has become my right hand gal.  She now knows how to strap on my binders, strap me into the CPM machines, does the laundry on a daily basis, hauls me to physical therapy 3 days a week, and has assumed the responsibilities that I can no longer do.  I depend on a walker to get from room to room, although I got in trouble from her because the other morning I was in the bathroom and the walker was in the bedroom.  She scolded me like I was 4….and she had every right to do it.  I think I have experienced every emotion known to man, and I am humble enough to say that I am not as tough as I had previously believed.  My husband, who has been my rock, comes home from work, peeking into the room to see which Shelly will be sitting in the chair. Or should I just change my name to Sybil….I know I have discovered as many personalities as she had.  The tears come at the drop of a hat, and I just want to be left alone in a dark room to feel sorry for myself.  This is where my support system comes to my rescue. They won’t let me feel sorry for myself, they encourage me, they will hug me if I need it, or they will just leave me alone when I need time to work out my feelings.  Having both knees done at the same time means that it is hard to get away from the pain, but down the road I will be happy I had this done. Plus, you can bet your sweet bippy that I would not return to have a second one done had I chose to go that route.  No way!  I don’t write this to scare anyone off, because I am sure in a month I will be singing a different tune for sure.  This has by far been the hardest thing I have done in my life, and that includes giving birth to 4 children without drugs….but when I am healed and life is back to normal I will reflect back and be proud of what I have done.  I am going to find my notebook and read through the notes that I wrote in a drug induced haze and will begin the real story of this adventure.   Thanks for reading!