Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘knee replacement

Full Afternoon

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When we reached the driveway yesterday after a couple of errands in the Cities, I stopped the car to check for mail and let Cyndie move over to the driver’s seat. Her new right knee was no trouble for her as she tested a quick stop and then piloted the vehicle up to the house and into the garage.

She just keeps checking off new firsts every day. After resting with the leg raised and wrapped with the cooling/compression machine while we had some lunch, she made her way out to assist me in getting our landscape pond cleaned up and the pump pushing water over the falls again.

That’s a milestone we were overdue to accomplish. It feels super to have that off our list and even better to again hear the soothing sounds of the splashing water.

Speaking of milestones, yesterday also marked the day Cyndie stopped using a cane when walking.

Activity moved from the pond to the paddocks and Cyndie walked all the way to the barn and back to the house after spending time with each horse and offering to brush them.

I went from the barn to the shop garage where I successfully fired up the lawn tractor for the first time this season. There will be no such thing as “no mow May” at our place. I mowed the two spots around the paddocks where the grass grows fastest.

Two of the more urgent projects on our spring to-do list have been checked off and both happened on the same afternoon. When spring growth finally kicks off, it doesn’t pause to wait for anyone who meant to get some things done before the leaves pop open.

I am thrilled to be able to move on to the next big thing. Friday, weather permitting, we are scheduled to receive a visit from the tree service. That’s another task I am hoping will happen before the leaves all fully open. As it is, that project is already about a week late in terms of the buds popping on branches.

Spring is springing out all over the place, and delayed though the warmth and sunshine may be, higher heat than my body is adjusted to is now showing up in force. I forgot what it was like to move hay around while working with sweaty bare arms.

I was very ready for a shower after the full afternoon of spring projects we successfully handled yesterday.

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Written by johnwhays

May 11, 2022 at 6:00 am

Survival Tactics

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After two weeks of recovering from knee replacement surgery, Cyndie returned to be seen by the surgeon’s assistant and have the bandage removed from the incision. Now able to walk with only a cane for support, she let me wait in the car and navigated her way to the appointment unassisted.

The prognosis was excellent and the incision looks fantastic. Apparently, all my tender loving care is doing wonders for her. That, and the fact she has been downright heroic about balancing exercise and rest.

I was saved from needing to do the grocery shopping because Cyndie shopped online and we were able to pick up the order from the store on our way home from the doctor’s appointment. She is reclaiming some of the meal prep roles which eases some of my caregiving stress. There is nothing more challenging for me and my limited kitchen prowess than becoming responsible for feeding the head chef at a time when healthy meals are more important than ever.

And Cyndie even prepared and froze many meals in advance of her surgery to help me out during her convalescence. The master of reheating faced new complications in dishing up servings for a person other than just himself. In real estate, it’s “location, location, location.” In the kitchen, it’s “timing, timing, timing.” Heating more than a single portion of a single item threw a wrench into my old solo living survival tactics.

After getting groceries put away and laundry dried and folded and lunch dishes cleaned up, I snuck in another version of a test ride on my new bicycle. New shoes tested very well. New pedals needed tension adjusted on the clips. The seat needed to come up another fraction. The new computer sensor is working for speed and cadence. I’m starting to get the hang of brake lever shifting.

Only one problem remains. Something in the drivetrain is making a noise when I put pressure on the pedals and I have yet to figure out what it is. I can’t even say for sure whether the creaking sound is coming from the crank or bottom bracket or further back by the rear derailleur. A return visit to the bike shop is planned.

All this activity culminated in a brief rest when I returned to the house. I just wanted to sit down for a moment and check messages on my phone, maybe play a few rounds against my frenemies in “Words with Friends.”

That didn’t last very long. I conked out. Cyndie thought it looked cute that Delilah and I were napping together.

My nap seemed to energize Cyndie because after Delilah and I got up, she walked downstairs for the first time in over two weeks, went for a walk outside in the sunshine down to the shop, and later cooked dinner on the grill out on the deck. She then proceeded to recline with her leg raised and cooled by the fancy rented machine to control swelling after all that exercise.

She’s like the perfect patient wielding her own excellent survival tactics.

I’d like to know what she did with my wife.

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Written by johnwhays

May 4, 2022 at 6:00 am

Double Shifts

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It’s only been four days since Cyndie’s knee surgery and I’m already longing for the day she can lose the walker, get off narcotics, and become even fractionally more self-sufficient. Between responding to her needs for assistance, becoming the (previously prepared by Cyndie) head food-reheater and server at mealtimes, and covering all of the animal care jobs myself, I’m getting dizzy.

Every time I find myself cast in the role of needing to feed Cyndie, I am reminded why I never looked for work waiting tables in a restaurant. My poor brain doesn’t like trying to remember multiple requests delivered all at once. And thinking about those words, “all at once,” how in the heck do people get the timing down to prepare a meal with all the food ready at the same time?

I find myself repeatedly choosing to feed us one at a time. Assemble a plate for Cyndie and then come back and do it a second time for me.

Cyndie is very patient and understanding, so most of the frustrating pressure I’m feeling is self-induced. I know that. But knowing that doesn’t do much to calm my stress in the critical moment of assembling a meal on the plate for serving. When the stress is magnified by a last-minute request to watch an episode of “Ted Lasso” on the tv monitor brought out to the coffee table by the couch while she eats, my circuits start to overheat a bit.

You see, the computer-to-tv cabling had yet to be worked out so I needed to hunt down an HDMI cable, get the necessary power cables, and then search through on-screen menus to figure out how to mirror the laptop screen to the tv. I could always deal with the audio later.

As it was, I begged to deal with it all later and resorted to simply watching it on her laptop for the time being. …After she had already finished her dinner and before I had started mine.

Last-minute timing is not my strong suit.

I will work on mastering the temporary computer-to-tv setup in the living room later today, once I’ve got all the animals fed and Cyndie’s coffee and breakfast served.

Onward. Double-time.

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Written by johnwhays

April 22, 2022 at 6:00 am

Pain Management

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Which is more difficult: Suffering great pain ourselves or watching a loved one suffer pain that we can’t do anything about? It hurts either way. The good news is that Cyndie is home and making great progress in coping with the immediate after-effects of a TKA.

You know, Total Knee Arthroplasty. Geesh. Loosely, arthro -joint / plasty -molding, grafting or forming. Otherwise known as knee replacement.

Progress doesn’t mean mastering. As of last night, I would describe it as the pain having the best of her. Pain: 2 / Cyndie: 1.

My biggest challenge is figuring out how to keep her from doing anything that isn’t helpful to her situation while she is on pain medication. Keeping Cyndie from doing things is akin to herding cats.

She was on the couch resting when I stepped out to walk Delilah and tend to the horses yesterday afternoon. In the fraction of an hour that I was outside, she got up off the couch and worked on hanging up new shower curtains that were delivered to our house on Monday.

That wasn’t something that needed to happen and could easily have waited for me to take care of later.

This kind of behavior makes it even harder on me when she later cries in pain and admits maybe she did a little too much. Ya think?

I’m not a great one for policing her actions in general. How do you stop a perpetual motion machine? As a result, it’s complicated for me when my role in caring for her involves trying to control her activities. She tells me it hurts if she lays too long, so she gets up and walks. Looks to me like it hurts to walk and it hurts when she struggles back into bed.

Thankfully, there was room to increase the dosage of pain meds to manage her comfort at this phase of the recovery.

The saving grace of this knee replacement is going to be the iceless cold compression therapy machine Cyndie rented. Chilled water is automatically pumped through a wrap on her knee and it cycles on and off in programmed intervals.

I was able to watch Cyndie’s initial physical therapy session before we left the recovery hotel and I asked the therapist about how important the exercises are to optimizing recovery. Her answer: they are 100% the key to achieving full range of motion but you must do them all consistently as prescribed and no more than prescribed. Shouldn’t underdo or overdo it.

Hmm. I’m gonna opt out of being in charge of that.

Hopefully, it won’t be long before the pain is managed without narcotics altering her consciousness. It’s challenging enough for me to keep pace with Cyndie’s mode of operation on normal days.

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Mostly Waiting

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Most of my day yesterday was spent waiting. Cyndie did almost the same amount of waiting, but she was anesthetized for part of it and in a pain-management-induced stupor for others. I had the easier job, despite the tedium.

Prepped and waiting, I snapped a shot of Cyndie looking her best in a very fashionable hair net and hospital gown. The procedure was a knee replacement, her second. We filled some of the wait time by chatting with her surgeon and later the anesthetist, who described a very interesting path to choosing his career. He served time on military mobile medical units and also was assigned to rapid response teams that travel to foreign cities where U.S. Presidents fly, providing “in case needed” precautions.

The woman who performed the surgery came highly recommended and lived up to a comment from one of the nurses that she works fast. For all the waiting before and after, the portion of actual replacement surgery took a little under an hour. The doctor came out to report everything went smoothly and suggested I get some lunch while Cyndie sleeps off the residual anesthesia effects. She said it would be at least an hour.

It was closer to two. When they finally called me back to see Cyndie again after she woke up, leg pain was her biggest complaint. Still, they had her up and walking moments later. After more waiting, during which they monitored vital signs and increased her pain meds, the medical transport team showed up to whisk her away to a hotel for overnight monitoring.

The view out her third-floor window:

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Maybe the new knee will turn her into an athlete. Maybe it won’t. At least they were able to make her more comfortable.

Does it show?

They had her hooked up to a machine that ran chilled water around the knee to control swelling and pain. I was allowed to end my waiting and head home to take care of animals and sleep through the night in my own bed. Nurses will be checking on Cyndie all night, something I am very happy the are doing instead of me.

I’ll pick Cyndie up this morning and take over primary care. It’s nice to have had the first night worry-free and know she was under the watchful eyes of trained professionals.

It’s one of the greatest honors of my life to be allowed to play the role of Cyndie’s closest supporter in times of extra need. The waiting part is over now. Let the healing begin!

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Written by johnwhays

April 19, 2022 at 6:00 am

Final Opportunity

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Yesterday was our last chance to tackle any projects jointly –no pun intended– because today is Cyndie’s right knee replacement surgery. This will make it three artificial joints: left knee, right hip, and now right knee. I’m not counting the rebuilt right shoulder, but easily could in the chronicle of significant surgeries of the last ten years for Cyndie.

I blame her Lyme Disease history.

For all the things I can get persnickety about, cleaning tools after every use tends to evade me. This is how the shovels looked when I pulled them out for yesterday’s transplanting adventures:

Good enough for me. I scraped some of the mud off before putting them away last time. At least I put them away back where we could find them again. Putting tools away after use is another habit I wish I was more consistent about practicing.

In our final hurrah at getting things done before Cyndie is put out of action for a while, we started with digging up and transplanting more of our ornamental tall grasses. I’m a tad concerned it was too easy and might end in limited success in the survival of the relocated sections. Regardless, it will be great just to have the old batch pruned down to a more reasonable size.

If we get any sprouts of tall grasses in the variety of new locations it will be a wonderful bonus.

While we were doing some of the new plantings just across the driveway, we became aware of a significant number of wild grapevines entangling the trees there. Unraveling one piece kept leading to another and soon we were on our way to the next project, completely unplanned.

I am always amazed to discover significant vine growth that was happening right before our eyes which we failed to notice despite our ongoing quest to give our trees priority over vines.

After pulling up as many as we could, we headed down to the labyrinth where we are trying to get vines to grow on the gazebo as a replacement to the old canvas that once provided overhead cover from sun and rain.

It is interesting trying to encourage something to grow only where you want after having just violently pulled it out of the ground in a location where it seemed perfectly happy to be.

After tending to the horses together, we moved on to our landscape pond where we removed the winter cover.

Any other outdoor projects Cyndie would normally be tackling this time of year are on hold for a while now. I will be splitting my time between doing what I can outside and being Cyndie’s primary care nurse and full-time driver.

We are sending love to the doctors and nurses in advance and visualizing a flawless procedure that is free of complications. Feel free to join us is conjuring good vibes for today.

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Which Way

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In the months following Cyndie’s knee replacement procedure at the end of November, I admittedly neglected the labyrinth. Contrary to previous winters, this year I haven’t bothered to walk the path each time it snowed. On Sunday, Cyndie mentioned that she wanted to use the labyrinth again. It was time to tread that pattern.

It wasn’t as easy to execute the proper turns as I had hoped. With the rocks mostly buried, I needed to start from both the outer entrance heading in, and then from the center, heading out, before I figured out precisely where I needed to be.

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Once I had figured out the correct route, as we walked the path and chatted I began to notice a lift in my spirits. Cyndie pointed out something I had completely overlooked: she was walking on the snowshoes with her new knee. It was a noteworthy achievement.dscn5770e

I also discovered something else that was occurring.

My neglect of the labyrinth for the previous months had been intentional, giving me one less thing to tend to during Cyndie’s convalescence. During those months, I felt a small sense of pleasure over not spending any energy on it. What I didn’t realize was, ignoring the labyrinth was contributing to my feelings of hopelessness.

There was this duality again. (See comments with Jim on my post “Being Me.”) I didn’t want to have the labyrinth, and I did want to have it. Both feelings were present at the same time.

It feels like having Cyndie and the labyrinth both functional again is helping me to find my way once more.

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Written by johnwhays

February 7, 2017 at 7:00 am

Look Up

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Some very interesting images can be found by looking straight up. A few days ago, I posted a shot looking up a concrete utility pole in Florida. Here is another version of the same pole, after walking around to the other side.

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They probably deserve to be shown as a pair. I like the contrast of the opposing direction of the light source between the two.

Meanwhile, I’m back at the day-job, digging out from a backlog of work that piled up while I was away. I was so exhausted when I walked in the door after work yesterday, I laid down for a minute. Pequenita immediately took advantage of my presence and pummeled me with kneading and head-butting in a quest for attention.

I think she missed me.

In a blink, I was no longer blinking. My eye lids stayed down and my brain checked out. It just so happened, my labor wasn’t immediately needed outside. For the first time since Cyndie’s knee surgery on the last day of November, she handled the outdoor ranch duties!

I think the chance to do some extended walking while we were in Florida, away from the icy, snowy terrain, boosted her confidence. Monday night she walked Delilah while I cleaned up manure and filled hay boxes. Yesterday, she did morning and evening chores, drove to a physical therapy appointment, did exercises there, and then went grocery shopping.

Talk about getting back into action. Of course, after dinner it was quickly time to get horizontal for the rest of the night and ice the knee. Fair enough.

It feels like I have come out of the tunnel. Things are definitely looking up.

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Written by johnwhays

January 25, 2017 at 7:00 am

Sticky Mess

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Sure, it’s beautiful, but it was a sticky, wet mess of a snowfall yesterday. Today’s episode of the ongoing saga that is our adventures on the ranch involves wet horses, warm winter precipitation, Christmas preparations, and knee replacement recovery.

Who could this be?

dscn5628eWhy, it’s none other than our stoic herd leader, Legacy. The wet snow had given his long winter coat a curly design that called out to me for a close-up photograph. I find it interesting that so many of his little ringlets contain a strand of color.

A first impression generally perceives him as a white horse, but he does have a subtle distribution of color to him.

I was walking Delilah around the perimeter of the hay-field fence and the horses were out standing in the wet precipitation in the far distance of the field. The horses are well familiar with our routine of trekking this path and most days pay us little attention. Yesterday, at a moment of pause for Delilah to bury her nose in the snow in search of some potential snack, I noticed Cayenne’s energy kick up a bit toward us.

dscn5626eI stepped up to the fence and invited them over, and to my surprise, they came! It is funny how Legacy reacts to these situations, as Cayenne was definitely the instigator and leading the way, but he makes sure to get right on her flank as leader and protector.

When they have closed the distance, he takes command and steps up to make first contact. The other three obediently concede his authority and stay back a length or two.

We visited for a bit and I took pictures of them. Then it was time to move on with Delilah and the herd responded immediately to my movement by turning and running off through the snow back to the fence line in the distance from which they had come. It was a gorgeous visual, their playful equine energy gallivanting away through the falling wet flakes.

They knew what was on the other end of Delilah’s and my little walk. We completed our loop and made our way back to the barn to do the daily afternoon housekeeping, serve up pans of feed, and refill the hay boxes.

I decided to wait out the falling wet snow before starting the plowing and shoveling routine, so spent the afternoon wrapping Christmas gifts and doing laundry. Cyndie had her last in-home physical therapy session and achieved the milestone of reaching 120° bend on the leg with the new knee. She has completely ditched the walker and is getting around with just a cane.

She went on her first outing last night to a Christmas party of the Wildwood Lodge Club clan, the community of families with vacation homes on Big Round Lake near Hayward, WI.

I can see some light at the end of the tunnel of full responsibility for chores around here, and none too soon. I am exhausted. I think the horses miss seeing Cyndie, and I have to admit, I’m growing tired of being their primary caregiver. It’s a bit much when I am also working full-time an hour’s drive away. Add in the requirement of walking Delilah several times a day and my candle is burning at all three ends.

Happily, Cyndie is active again in the kitchen, so at least I’m no longer needing to pretend I have skills there. The next two days will be a whirlwind of driving to and fro from the ranch to Cyndie’s parents’ house for Christmas events.

I hope I can stay awake behind the wheel.

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Written by johnwhays

December 24, 2016 at 8:08 am

Better Place

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As happy as we were with Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater, after 2 days it was beginning to feel like a hospital and we were ready to get Cyndie home to recover in the comforts of home. There really is no place like home.

To make it seem even more like a hospital, it took several hours of waiting, and then waiting some more, for staff to process the discharge order. It’s odd how exhausting it can be to sit and wait for an unknown amount of time.

Cyndie is in a better place now. Let the mending and strengthening commence!

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Written by johnwhays

December 3, 2016 at 7:00 am