Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘physical therapy

Having Connections

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When we moved here over ten years ago, we didn’t know anyone in the area. Slowly, we introduced ourselves to our neighbors. We met some contractors who did some work for us. Eventually, I achieved a connection that I was particularly proud of having. I could boast that there was a guy in Beldenville who was, “my welder.”

Now, just because I haven’t needed his services since the initial job he did for me years ago, it doesn’t keep me from bragging about knowing “a guy” who can do big welding jobs for me. Lately, I feel like I’ve been losing connections. I no longer can say, “My boss” or “My coworkers.” I don’t have any.

Cyndie, on the other hand, is adding connections. She now drops phrases in conversation like, “My trauma surgeon” or “My physical therapist says…”

Yesterday, her physical therapist said Cyndie should keep using both of her crutches for at least another week. At their next session, she can review progress to see if she can go to just a single crutch for a time.

It seems obvious if you think about it, but her therapist pointed out that standing on both feet is putting 50% weight on each foot. I was thinking about that as I walked back from the barn last night and figured out I was alternating between 100% and 0% as I stepped my paces up the driveway. For now, Cyndie isn’t supposed to put more than 50% weight on her right ankle.

Interestingly, she is making progress, but her movements since Monday when she met with the surgeon for the follow-up assessment seem a lot worse than how she was moving over the weekend. That is because when she wasn’t putting any weight on her right foot she had gotten very adept at using a knee scooter or leaning on a walker as she whipped around in the house.

Now she is less stable in her movements because she is actually wearing a shoe and putting weight on the right foot. Cyndie got excited the other day because she could see some veins in her foot for the first time since the injury and subsequent swelling that persisted.

Before we know it, she will be renewing a connection with the herd of horses down at the barn again.

I won’t even think of asking her to lift any bales of hay until her physical therapist says it’s allowed.

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Written by johnwhays

January 26, 2023 at 7:00 am

Two Shoes

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It felt like it had been a while since we got out to see the world beyond our place. For Cyndie, it was the first time she had stepped out of the house in a couple of weeks. The landscape looked like a postcard with the trees all flocked white with frost.

We were on our way to an appointment with Cyndie’s trauma surgeon. Upon our arrival, Cyndie was immediately directed to “Imaging” for X-rays of her repaired ankle.

It occurred to me that Cyndie and her surgeon might be a little biased in their assessment of the surgery outcome. They both want it to be as positive as possible.

That is exactly what I heard from each of them. I asked how soon she could carry a bale of hay and received some chuckles. I didn’t get an answer, but my point was made. The doc knew what my priority was.

He seemed a little surprised that Cyndie hadn’t walked on it at all up to this point, grabbing the boot to see if the bottom was significantly scuffed. We were in no hurry to overrule the doctor’s order. He said to wait, so Cyndie waited and I completely supported her staying off it. We had both grown eager to move on to the next “step” of her recuperation.

The surgeon said her foot looks great. He really had no negatives to mention. He issued a new order for her physical therapist, detailing what to work on. With great humor, he discussed all the issues Cyndie asked about and more. He pointed out where Cyndie will likely experience pain from tendons that haven’t been used for months, talked about shoe choices, and recommended “Superfeet” insoles for added arch support.

As we left the office, Cyndie crutched away while using that right foot a little bit for the first time since November 3rd.

First thing she did when we got home was dig in her closet for a pair of shoes. A pair. She hasn’t needed two shoes for so long, single left shoes were the only thing showing up.

Tomorrow will be the first PT day where she can put some weight on that foot. The therapist will need to guide her with advice about gradually increasing the percentage of walking pressure while still using crutches for support.

After being patient about doing any walking at all, there is no need to suddenly get impatient about losing the crutches completely.

I saw a comment yesterday about raising children that stated, “The days go by slowly but the years go by fast.” It feels like Cyndie’s ankle rehab will be slow in days, months, and probably a whole year.

I don’t expect her to be throwing around hay bales anytime soon.

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Written by johnwhays

January 24, 2023 at 7:00 am

Grim Grip

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With temperatures hovering just above the freezing point, snow is slowly sliding off our slanted rooftops. As I was returning to the house from the barn, I spotted what looked like the large bony fingers of the Grim Reaper about to grasp the edge of the short roof over the entryway of the shop.

The rest of that section had broken off and dropped to the concrete surface below.

I would like to have recorded a time-lapse video of the slow melting as the snow slid off the roof. It is fascinating that it created that bony-looking curl.

Speaking of bones, I’m driving Cyndie to an appointment this morning to have her bone density analyzed. The trauma surgeon who repaired her ankle put in the order to have her bone density checked in light of the way her broken bones splintered into fragments.

Yesterday, Cyndie’s physical therapist massaged some of the excess fluid out of her foot and gave her a few more non-weight-bearing exercises to try. The options are pretty limited until she gets permission to put weight on that foot. The exercises are rather simplistic and uninspiring otherwise, at this point.

It’s pretty tricky crutching weather out there while this wet weather system is spinning over us. We have been getting mostly spotty light rain since yesterday late afternoon, but with the temperature lingering so close to the freezing point it is hard to know when the footing is merely wet or has become dangerously slippery.

There is something about going in for a bone density test that begs for a person to not fall and break anything on the way in. The Grim Reaper doesn’t get into the business of influencing us before the final calling does he/she/it?

Some days I feel like I should wear a couple of protective boots similar to the one Cyndie has, as a proactive prevention of possible foot/ankle injuries. Or I could keep eating a healthy diet that maintains a strong body. Are Christmas cookies good for our bones?

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Written by johnwhays

December 14, 2022 at 7:00 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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Pushing Through

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It has been a long stretch of time since I played either of my guitars. Lack of playing tends to become its own feedback loop. Arthritis in my hand discouraged me from pulling out my instruments as often as I used to, and not playing regularly led to the loss of calluses on the fingertips of my left hand. Lack of calluses fed into an inclination to not bother playing and the situation dragged on and on.

Alas, recent activity to ready myself for the Tour of Minnesota bicycling and camping week triggered thoughts about bringing my travel guitar this year. Before fulfilling that idea, which I said back in February that I planned to do, I figured I should check out whether I could still form chords with my left hand.

I was a little rusty, but mostly functional. My session was rewarding enough that I felt inspired to try a second time a couple of days later. That went even better, despite the tenderness of starting the process of developing new calluses. Then I moved to reach a particular position and experienced the classic jolt of a painful joint.

(No, Mary, I have not had the surgery performed yet, despite your wise advice to not wait. The doctor preferred waiting, and I chose to not try convincing him otherwise.)

After that stab of pain, the rest of the session tended to become increasingly more comfortable. It seemed a little counterintuitive at first, but then I remembered a similar experience during a lumbar disc pain episode.

The body has a keen ability to constrict movement in the presence of pain, but remaining oblivious to what is happening in these situations can allow that avoidance of pain to become its own malady. I made a surprising discovery during an early assessment of my condition when physical therapy was prescribed.

The therapist asked me to show them how far I could bend over to reach toward my toes.

“Bend over!?”

My thinking was that I couldn’t bend at all without suffering that stabbing pain. That is why I was moving around like a stiff zombie!

So, I set about showing her how I could barely lean forward at all. To my surprise, those initial hints of possible pain that normally freeze any further motion did not get any worse as I pushed through them. I was able to bend a lot farther than I believed possible.

The same thing happened with my hand yesterday. The avoidance of pain had kept me from trying to play the guitar, bringing a mindset that it would no longer be possible. Pushing past that warning message of pain proved there is still some function left in the old joint.

I don’t have the strength I used to, but I can still manage a few chords for a reasonably short duration of pickin’ and grinnin’.

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Written by johnwhays

May 30, 2019 at 6:00 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

Love Works

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Once again, our anecdotal evidence supports the theory that sending love to others produces loving positive outcomes in amplified proportions. Yesterday morning, while driving Cyndie through the misty-cold-gray weather to Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater, MN, we were both receiving messages of support and love for her scheduled surgery appointment for a knee replacement procedure.

Meanwhile, we were imaging thoughts of love and encouragement for the caregivers we were about to meet. Starting with the most convenient parking spot available at the entrance, all the way through the staff of every department of the hospital with which we had contact, we enjoyed the most pleasant of possible experiences.

img_ip1828eThe surgeon told me the procedure went perfectly, and by my perceptions, swiftly. Cyndie’s recovery from the anesthetics then proceeded smoothly and the big pain she felt coming on received prompt attention.

Speaking of prompt, they wasted no time in putting Cyndie to work on moving that knee and working the muscles of her leg. Within 5-hours of the completion of surgery a physical therapist was running her through 10-reps each of a variety of exercises, culminating with getting Cyndie to stand up on it and then walk out of her room to trek around the nurse’s station.

When you are in an uncritical frame of mind, it makes sense that you find less to feel critical about. As I drove into the darkness toward home later in the evening, I had a deep feeling of appreciation for how well the entire day had gone. We are so lucky to have access to such wonderful care.

img_ip1829eIt doesn’t hurt to also have some previous experience with joint replacement surgeries. Add to that, a lot of love from many directions and you end up with more grace than a human should be allowed.

In no time Cyndie will be hiking to and fro on our property again and Delilah will get back the walking partner she has been missing.

Keep sending love for Cyndie and her knee. It works wonders!

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Written by johnwhays

December 1, 2016 at 7:00 am

Progress Marches

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One small step for Cyndie, one giant leap toward mobility without chronic joint pain. Yesterday, the visiting physical therapist rather quickly had Cyndie leaving behind the walker and using a cane to stroll around the house. Moments later, she was caning her way up and down the stairs to our basement.

It was fascinating progress to witness. What a blessing to have the guidance of the therapist to keep our patient moving forward with exercises and activities.

With a nod to the title of this blog, progress is relative. From an overall perspective, there is not a lot happening at Wintervale lately. I find myself repeatedly struggling with the decision of what I want to write about. At the same time, the progress Cyndie is experiencing toward recovery and rehabilitation seems huge. I’ll take that.

Whether we notice or not, progress is marching along.

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Written by johnwhays

December 10, 2014 at 7:00 am