The Knee’s The Thing

(Warning, I’m sharing medical pictures here. If this is a trigger for you, here is an adorable picture of Coco and Oscar and then click away. I’ll catch you next time. For folks who are mildly curious, the pictures really aren’t a big deal. There isn’t any blood and guts or anything. They just kind of look like planets.)

Oscar and Coco. BFFs

I’m not sure what happened to Summer. I had a lot of plans for Summer. I was going to get my backyard into some kind of usable shape which was going to be a ton of work. I need to replace my deck completely. I didn’t have any plans for fancy but I thought I could do some of the demo and simpler tasks and then bring in the pros for a little finishing detail. I also desperately need to do something about my yard. The ground out there is currently so uneven and partially eroded that it is impossible to get a single flat step while you walk across it. This has been a real problem with my bad knees. They just don’t do that kind of adjustment without a lot of pain and repercussion. Mainly I wanted to do something about my hated deck roof. This ugly metal thing is dated and not-at-all functional. Seriously, I think someone installed it upside down because not only does it NOT keep rain off my deck, when it is kind of moist out, condensation builds up on the underside of the roof and basically rains under the roof while not raining at all outside. The whole thing is a delight. But it isn’t a project I’m equipped to handle myself. It’s fixed to my roof so someone else will need to demo it and replace the gutters on the house.

This is a good shot of the porch roof a couple winters ago. See how ugly and low it is? See how much snow it kept off my porch? See Frankie running like a lunatic? I miss that boy!

So those were all the big plans for Summer. None of which got done at all. Not even close. I got distracted by other things and then finally sucked it up and scheduled my knee surgery I’ve needed for a few years. Last year when I got serious about it we found other things we had to deal with so this year, I was going to get this done and off my ToDo list once and for all. The plan was to fix an old injury that has plagued me for years, do a little arthroscopy (kind of like scraping the stalactites and stalagmites off the bone) and try to loosen up a very tight knee cap.

Everything went fine. Until last year I had never had an operation and I think I had been under anesthesia once in my life. I don’t tend to get nervous though. Probably because I have been blessed with good health and I also because my Mom is a retired nurse so I know a little about how hospitals work and I have a pretty realistic idea of the warts. It also helps that Mom was there both times so I know she is watching and listening like a hawk. It lets me relax.

Probably the most notable thing that happened was the space age, silver blanket they put over me. It had a slit at the top that went over my head so it was like a giant bib. The first thing I said when I looked at it on was, “I feel like a hot pocket.” For the rest of the day the hospital staff called me Hot Pocket. I even heard one of them in the other room singing softly to herself, “Hoooot Pocket!”

It’s kind of hard to be nervous when they are calling you Hot Pocket.

After a few days of bed rest that absolutely made me nuts, I’m getting back into a routine. I can hobble around the house without a crutch. The pain is reduced other than a slight twinge now and then. Am I happy I did this finally? I wouldn’t say I’ve felt a pay-off yet. The surgeon said he found a lot more arthritis than he anticipated. Before the surgery he felt pretty confident that I wouldn’t need any more anti-inflammatories but he has backed off that pretty quick. The truth is, they may have fixed the old meniscus injury (actually shredded on one side and torn on the other. Ouch!) but the arthritis is probably going to still plague me pretty good.

He took pictures during the surgery. Arthritis doesn’t look anything like I expected. It is this lovely feathery-looking thing that looks like it should be lightly caressing you and cushioning your joint. It lies.

That lovely feathery stuff at the top is arthritis.

That lovely feathery stuff at the top is arthritis.

This is an artist's depiction of what arthritis should look like. Little stabby daggers.

This is an artist’s depiction of what arthritis should look like. Little stabby daggers.

 It feels like the last two years have been dominated by the stupid knees so I’m really hoping this can be properly ignored again and more important stuff like the garage, backsplashes, and the guy who walks his pig in my neighborhood can be my primary focus.

Seriously, the pig walking guy doesn’t even use a leash!

Confession Time

Over the last few months I’ve struggled with how much to share here. This is a blog. It is a public forum and I’m under no delusions about how interesting I am. I’m no design maven, I’m no DIY expert, I’m not even a lifestyle person; I’m just a regular person whose house needs to be vacuumed and who forgets to put the garbage out for pick-up most Fridays. But I consume a lot of material online and find so much representation for the people who do it perfectly or who are stylish and creative but not a lot for those of us who don’t have a design background or who have four kids or four dogs (or both). Don’t get me wrong, I love many of the fabulous sites and find inspiration and ideas from these people but there is a perverse, contrary person in me who refuses to stage pictures and freely admits multiple errors and failures as I stand next to all the experts (well, probably more like down the block and around the corner from them).

I just really like holding up reality next to the fabulous. I like that contrast. The fabulous is all the sweeter for living the reality and reality is more comforting and grounding when you’ve experienced fabulous for a little while. Recently though, I took my eye off reality because it wasn’t something I wanted to deal with.

A few months ago I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Don’t worry, it is the “best” cancer to have next to skin cancer. It was only stage one and giving up the uterus would take care of things. After the surgery, they decided that, even though they got everything, they would like to do a little radiation. It is only a very little and I’m not sick or losing my hair or anything. Something that does bug me though is that I wish I had dealt with this sooner. Yup, I have great benefits and really good medical care in general but I was embarrassed to go to the gynecologist while I was having a period. That’s it. We don’t like to talk about them. I don’t like to talk about them. But it is a reality that I shouldn’t have been ashamed of. If you are having issues with Aunt Flo (terrible euphemism), just get it checked out right away. Your dignity can take it.

The odd thing is, SO many other women I’ve told have gone through something very similar. I can’t believe how common this is! If I hadn’t been so shy about it with friends and family, I might have been less shy with my doctor. Why was I pretending everything was fabulous when I was struggling with something? My doctor also told me that endometrial issues like I was having can very often turn into cancer. Ignoring the reality can make any of us women, very sick. It’s OK not to be fabulous all the time. If something is cramping your style (HA! Pun!), talk to your doctor and trusted friends.

Cancer is a scary word but it hasn’t been that bad. Reality is always there, whether we want it to be or not. For me, facing it hasn’t hurt the fabulous. I hope each and every one of you, if you have a little reality you have been avoiding, looks it in the eye and beats it down with your fabulousness. Get your screenings, make that appointment you have been avoiding, do that “thing” you know in your heart you need to do.

You got this.

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