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!

Slideshow of Dogs and Other Nonsense

I don’t even know how to properly catch up so I’ll just give you some snapshots of what has been going on at Casa de Drew:

There have been foster greyhounds. So many dogs coming out of Kansas and Tucson and it seems like our group is taking in new batches of dogs every week or so! I’ve tried to help out by fostering and it’s been fun as well as sometimes challenging.

First there was Yadi. She was a very sweet, 7-year-old brood. She had been having puppies and now retired from that. Lovely girl who went to a wonderful home.

She was very confused by living in a house. She had been living in the kennel environment for 7 years and was worried about the house. She didn’t like that I fed everyone in the same room and she never understood what treats were so she wouldn’t take them from me. She was only with me a couple of weeks. She was just starting to understand dog beds (before that, she would find a nook under the counter or behind the door) because she had been kenneled for so long. She was also just starting to enjoy toys so I made sure I sent her off to her new home with the toy she liked and a blanket she had used here so she knew she would be safe in the new home. She is going to be loved to pieces by her new human.

Then there was Fire. I confess, it was really hard to let Fire go. I did tell them that if her new home didn’t work out that I would like to adopt her. She went to a great home though so I know she is going to be spoiled to death and she and her new human will love each other to pieces.

It may be kind of hard to tell but Fire is the supermodel of greyhounds. Absolutely gorgeous. She and Coco got along great but I would look at Fire, slender, petite, perfect features, even eye makeup, and then I would look at Coco who is big for a female, quite hairy for a greyhound, very large feet for a greyhound, and think, “I get you Coco. Most of us are you.”

Coco sunbathing

Even when Fire cockroached, she somehow looked graceful.

Coco, not so much.

Coco falling asleep in the middle of cleaning herself. She just snoozed like that with her leg on her head.

But they really were great pals and it was hard to let Fire go. Coco missed her.

The latest is Willi. He is a lovely gentle soul that seems to be a total klutz. I think he may have some vision problems because he can’t just observe something, he has to get right into it and smell it, nudge it, bump it, etc. He is always shoving me out of the way to see something first. But so sweet and kind that I took his muzzle off pretty quickly.

Coco and Willi’s first meeting. She was trying to get him to play. You can see he is a big boy and totally ripped because he is in racing shape.

We got Mom moved out of her house and found some stuff I’d done as a kid. I present…Self Portrait, 5-years-old.

We’re going to ignore the green stuff on the nose. It’s abstract art. Don’t look too hard at it.

Despite my complete neglect, my roses are blooming like crazy with flowers the size of my face. Which is pretty big.

I tried to spoil Mom on Mother’s Day weekend but, oddly, that somehow meant we were in a tavern at 10am one day. Well, the best laid plans…

The tavern isn’t actually empty, I just thought other patrons wouldn’t appreciate being on an obscure blog that is mostly about dogs and failed home projects.

Things, in general, are good though. Everyone is healthy and happy and when we fail, it is relatively minor. That is all we can ask, right?

If Things Have to Change, Can I Make Them Better?

Life is falling back into familiar patterns. Even if we are one man down. I can’t wait to put the holiday behind us. I’ve been ruthless about cleaning the house which is VERY unusual for me. Mostly it was to have something to do and to remove sad reminders of Frankie (and probably a control thing too). It ended up being absolutely the right thing to do as we got back test results on a culture from Frankie and found out that after his surgery, he had a couple of different strains of infection; one of them MRSA. For the safety of everyone in the house, super-cleaning was critical and I’m so glad I was doing that well before we even took the cultures.

I had house guests over the last week which was lovely. Family from the UK. It felt easy and was a wonderful distraction. We had a big birthday celebration at my house for my stepfather and I made two pies: coconut cream (his favorite) and a sour cream apple. Another evening we brought in take-out Greek food and had a lot of fun trying out the different dishes, flavors, and talked and laughed over each other. It was very nice.

Fun can be exhausting.

Today I drove the UK contingent of family to the MAX station (our local public transport train system) for their journey to the airport and, finally, back to their home. I get to begin the process of working my way through leftovers of all the wonderful meals we had which is one of my favorite things to do after holidays/celebrations. Great eating combined with memories of the people I want to hold close. It was really foggy this morning as I dropped them off and now it is crystal clear with blue skies. It truly seems like a new year today.

I don’t generally make new year resolutions because birthdays always seem more like an annual marker for me. But after a big change, like losing one of the family, it all feels different anyway so I can’t help but feel resolute about things.

  • I want to be smarter with my money this year so I’m not always feeling like I’m in a bind. Specific goal, build up my savings so I have at least two months mortgage payment on hand.
  • I want to do better at prioritizing things I do. More time with family and things I love and less time trying to catch up on chores. Chores are necessary but they can also be stupid. I’m just going to hire someone to help with chores now and then so it isn’t this THING hanging over my head all the time. Specific goal, hire a plumber to fix a couple of leaks we have, hire an electrician to fix the outlets and lights that are offset in the bedrooms, hire a cleaning service at least once a month for a good, deep clean of the house.
  • Finish things. Finishing things just isn’t fun so I don’t do it and then it becomes another thing hanging over my head. Specific goal, paint the fourth, and final, wall of the family room, touch up the paint in the kitchen, install the backsplash in the kitchen.
  • Socialize with my friends more. Specific goal, try to do something with friends at least once a month.

Nothing earth-shattering but these have all been difficult for me and all would make my life a little better/easier. It’s great to fall back into familiar routines but it seems like a good idea to shed the routines that aren’t healthy or helpful.

All meals should have jokes and prizes.

Any plans for the year to make your life a little healthier or happier?

Like taking more naps.


Craziness and Four Random Things

Things feel like they are finally settling down back into a routine. I probably shouldn’t have posted that I was being treated for cancer and then dropped off the planet like that. All is good. My radiation treatments are over and they were remarkably few and easy compared to what many people have to go through. It has just been so exciting to not have to think about my health for a while that I’ve thrown myself into getting my routine back. I’m stealing time to write this post from something else so I’ll just do a quick, random update:

1. I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend a conference the other week of senior women at my company. Not senior as in a particular age but women who are at a higher level in the company. It was so fun to spend the week with such a SMART, accomplished group of women. There is no way to come out of that and not be better for it. I just soaked everything up like a sponge. It meant working late into the night to keep up with daily duties but totally worth it.

2. The home office project was briefly abandoned as its priority is relatively low. I’m excited to get back to it and have been obsessing over the stupidest detail. At this point I’m embarrassed for anyone to see my living room (totally full of office crap) so I’m getting really motivated to get on with it already. I haven’t had a lot of weekends to myself in a while but I should have a few in a row which will help get a little momentum going again. I’d love to host the grandparents for Halloween (an annual tradition) but I just can’t do it with the living room like it is.

Helping me build bookcases.

3. I need to take a vacation. I haven’t had one yet this year and I think I lose it if I don’t use it. I could sure use the time off and while I would like to get away, it sounds more relaxing to just stay at home and putter away. Have I gotten old and boring? I just feel behind all the time. What is this standard that we set for ourselves and why? Is this a woman thing or do guys do this to themselves too? I’m afraid if I stay home, I’ll just do chores and then beat myself up every time I take a few hours to read a book.

4. I cut my hair off this weekend. Well, I didn’t actually cut it all off, I just got a lot cut off. I hate when my hair gets too long. It isn’t very flattering. I have very thick, very curly hair and you would think it would be a glorious mane of red curls but it just gets frizzy, huge and either looks like a 70s showgirl or middle age hippy hair (not the good kind). So out of desperation this weekend I raced into the salon and made her cut a great deal off. It is quite a bit better but is also giving me, unfortunately, a bit of a helmet head. Big and round. I don’t even really care, that is how much I hated the hippy hair.

Futon has been snagged from Frankie. It now belongs to the cat.

A wee bit of progress has happened in the office. I’ll post an update later this week.