Archive for December, 2008

Here’s what’s for dinner —

Bierocks!  You can find a recipe here.    When I came home from my knee surgery our wonderful friends, Mike and Fran, came to our assistance.  Mike, a Master Gardener, came over and raked up our front yard full of leaves.  He added them to his garden soil, and I didn’t even have to pay him to haul them off!  But even better than having the leaves gone, were the delicious little bundles that Fran sent with him.  Mike and Fran grew up in Kansas, and she told me these are a staple in Kansas.  They are so delicious — I’ve made them three times in 6 weeks.  I made two dozen today.  I’m taking some down to a neighbor and plan to freeze the rest for quick lunches and dinners.  Try them — you’ll like them!!

Merry Christmas!

Knee Replacement

Just about a week after getting home from our trip, I had my left knee replaced.   I’ve been struggling with it for at least 8 years that I can remember.   In 2000, I spent six weeks in Washington D.C. on a work assignment.  I remember how difficult the first weeks were for me due to the amount of walking involved in getting to and from the metro, shopping, meals, etc.   The next year, I returned to D.C. with my daughter and her hubby, and I remember getting stuck on an escalator that had stopped.  It took me 10-15 minutes to go down the stairs one step at a time.  I could barely hobble around.   When I got home, I started getting shots.  Those helped for a few years then things got bad again.  This past June was a terrible month.  I couldn’t get into Ortho for six weeks.  I could barely walk, and that was the turning point for my decision to go ahead with surgery.  I decided to wait until after Emma arrived so that I would be free to travel around the country! 

I’m somewhat amazed at how easily I made the decision to have this major surgery.  I met with the surgeon a couple of times.  The x-rays showed bone-on-bone arthritis and he said I was a candidate for total knee replacement.  Actually, he started to explain all the options, and I asked him to make the decision of which route to take — after all he’s the pro.  He recommended a total knee replacement and I agreed, so we scheduled a date.  

The morning of the surgery I checked into the hospital at 6am.  A great, well-experienced nurse  put in the IV;  I didn’t feel a thing, he was so good.  After that it was time for a chat with the anesthesiologist.  My chart showed that I have had several problems with general anesthesia in the past, and we talked about each of those.  He listened carefully, asked questions, and then told me he had a plan.  He would not use general anesthesia, but rather use a spinal.  I told him I had had a spinal for my C-Section and had experienced excruciating “ghost pains” in my legs.  I really didn’t want to go through that again — it was agony.  The doctor said he would block the sciatica, and in addition he would put in a femoral nerve block.    After talking to him, a calm came over me and I felt that I would be in good hands. 

A word about the femoral nerve block — I would highly recommend asking about this procedure if you are thinking of knee replacement.  The block was basically an IV placed at the top of the thigh where it becomes the belly.   Its attached to a ball which has a pump and medication in it.  This kept the top portion of my leg totally without pain for three days while the trauma of the surgery subsided.  I did have pain on the back of the knee and was on pain meds for that.   Let me tell you, that was enough discomfort for me.  I can’t imagine the pain level if the nerve block hadn’t been in place.  One effect of the block is that the leg is basically a wet noodle.  This reverses within a few hours of the block being removed.  

When the anesthesiologist  came to remove the femoral block, I thanked him for all his care and the fact that he listened to me and had a plan!   He seemed pleased.  I’d like to have him for any future surgeries I might need.  

I’m one month out from surgery now.  I still have some discomfort, but I can generally keep it under control by doing the exercises and massage techniques the physical therapist has given me and a few pain meds.  I’m up walking with a walker (and sometimes without it).   I can go out and about, but after about three hours, I’m pooped and ready for a rest.   I’m not driving yet, although I probably could since it’s my left knee.  I have mostly good days with a few woe-is-me hours thrown in now and then.   I think the next few weeks will bring  great improvement, and I’ll be walking freely again!

New Baby and New Knee

What’s new around here??   This  is Emma Claire.  She was born on October 20th.  It’s hard to believe that she’s almost two months old!   Unfortunately, she lives 2000 miles away, so we live for pictures like this one. 

Emma Claire

Emma Claire

Today was her checkup and her first set of immunizations.  Poor baby, I’ll bet she’s a bit crabby tonight.

We left home in mid-October to head to PA for her arrival.  It was snowing as we went through the canyon and we had heavy winds for the entire day.  We spent the first night in a RV park in Amarillo.  The next morning we had problems with our tranny lube pump in the Toyota and had to find a mechanic to look at it.   There was no solution, so we ended up overfilling the transmission fluid to provide additional pressure into the pump. 
We took a side-trip to Dallas to see the King Tut Exhibit.  It was well worth it, and we ended up staying a couple of days to relax from the pre-trip stress.   We stayed in an RV park which bordered a city utility property.  It turned out to be a great place to take walks and let the dogs off leash.  We even saw a bobcat slipping into the under brush. 
After Dallas we headed northeast into Arkansas with the plan to get to PA on October 23rd for Emma’s arrival.  We found a beautiful  state park in Arkansas and had planned to stay a couple of days, but those plans changed when the phone rang at 4:30 am on the 20th to announce Emma’s arrival.   We were parked under trees which blocked our cell phone reception, so I was out in the middle of the campground in my jammies, sitting on a electrical box listening to my granddaughter’s first squalls.  It was a beautiful moment I’ll never forget. 
Camping in Arkansas

Camping in Arkansas

Coon Hound in Arkansas
Coon Hound in Arkansas

While we were setting up, this beautiful dog came out of the woods to play with our dogs.  He was just a puppy, but he had the biggest feet!  Someone had left cans of food at the site for him, so we fed him that night and again in the morning.  He had made a nest out of leaves just a few feet from our site.  I spoke to the park ranger, who told me there were several dogs like this one around.  They chase deer and rabbits and rely on campers to provide a meal now and then. 

We stayed in PA for two weeks and left the day after the election.  On the way south, we stopped at Gettysburg which is something we’ve been wanting to do.    The place is georgeous, and since it was late fall, we practically had the park  to ourselves.  We took the self-guided auto tour, and spent a gentle day reliving our not-so-gentle history.   Steve absorbed the history, and I absorbed the beauty.  I could definitely live in the Gettysburg area. 
A view of Gettysburg

A view of Gettysburg

We got home a few days later than planned, but that’s what makes retirement wonderful.  I had a bunch of stuff to get done for the quilt guild so I could turn over the books and records to next year’s treasurer.   I was furiously making lists to try and keep it organized.  I always feel a great relief when things like that are finally done!   
And then……the next week I had my knee replaced!  (More on that in another post).