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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Orthopedic Surgeon Visit

I saw the Orthopedic Surgeon yesterday afternoon.  After all the initial paperwork, she came in and explained that my insurance had a strange limitation in it.  Xrays have to be done by an xray specialist. Even though she has an xray machine in the office, it wouldn't be covered.  So she was going to write a referral and have me come back afterwards on another day.

So I asked what she would charge if I just paid her myself.  $50.  I actually laughed.  A second visit with her would generate another $40 copay, and the xray specialist gets one too.  Cheaper to just pay her myself and save 2 more trips!  So we did that on the spot.

She showed me the xray  It isn't the shoulder ball/socket joint that was separated.  There is a small bone that attached the clavicle/shoulder blade to the top of the ball/socket joint that detached.  It's not even "broken" just separated.  She recommended NOT repairing it surgically (unless I had a heavy work job or threw things professionally).  I can do all the gardening I want, lift paving stones, etc.

That explained a lot.  I WONDERED how I could be putting my weight on the walker with a separated ball/socket joint.  Plus, there is no pain and I have nearly complete mobility of my arm.  An operation would carry its own risks anyway.  

She further explained that, had I visited within a couple days of the fall, an operation would have been easier and with a higher likelihood of success.  Well Gee, I hadn't even gone to the hospital by "a couple of days"!  She said 3 weeks or 6 months doesn't make any difference now.  But, that if it ever starts to bother me (pain, redness, mobility problem), a repair operation could be done then just as successfully.

I have a follow-up visit in a month, and a referral to a physical therapist.  I will call the physical therapist to discuss what they can do that I can't do at home.  I don't want to travel to (and pay for) stuff I can do myself.  That would be like going to a gym club to do push-ups, LOL!  Plus I'll look this up online tomorrow.

I'm getting around with the walker more easily and can free-walk farther each day.  I will be walkinmg normally soon enough.  I can get up and down stairs without any great difficulty (still doing it sideways one step at a time, but I could BARELY do THAT last week).  

The Dr said I seem to be healing quite well and quickly (from what she read in the hospital report).  My ribs and shoulder aren't causing pain.  There are really only remaining problems.  My right leg/foot is a bit unsteady and hard to lift, though it bears weight well enough when I'm just standing still.  The right leg groin muscle hurts sometimes when I move carelessly or change positions in bed, but she says that will heal on it own.

The nasty-looking bruise on the shoulder is completely gone, and the REALLY nasty ones from hip to hip across the back have gone from solid deep plum purple to "paler pebbly", so they should be gone in a week.  I wish I could show the pictures, but modesty forbids.

I went downstairs to the basement yesterday in order to try doing my own laundry.  That worked fine.  I'm not ready to try getting on hands and knees to do the cat litter boxes yet, but I bet I will in a few days.  Wonderful Neighbor Deb was doing my laundry and litter box cleaning.  

I'm sure she will be pleased.  "Willing to do" and "wanting to do" are very different things, LOL!  

I bet I can drive by early next week.  I told Deb not to be surprised if she sees me driving the car in and out of the garage and up and down the driveway while I test my foot strength, pedal sensitivity, and reflexes.  And if that works 100%, up and down our dead end street.

Deb doesn't mention it often unless there is a timing conflict, but she is home all day because she teleworks (conflict management training).  And in spite of what she says about "liking to help people", I  am sure her generous help is interfering with her work and regular daily routine.

I have an appt with my actual primary care doctor on Thursday.  I am sure it will be mostly a "pro-forma" visit and a complete waste of time, but I suppose I have to go just in case something goes wrong in the future and the insurance company could point to any cancelled appt to disallow a claim.  *SIGH*

Lastly, I don't want to sound like I am disparaging doctors.  They are wonderful when there is something they can actual do.  The xrays/ctscan/mri have been useful.  Checking my vital signs has been informative.  But neither the hospital, primary care PA, or orthopedic surgeon have actually been able to quite FIX anything.  It's THOSE kinds of problems.  The healing of MY problems is more time-oriented than action-oriented.  Just my luck, no quick-fix, LOL!

On the other hand, I was lucky.  If I had hit the ground differently I could have died (and the vultures around here are hungry) or been consigned to a wheelchair the rest of my life.  I have sometimes been amazed at my general good luck (which bothers me because I know things SHOULD be rather random).    But it is a case of my being unlucky in small things and lucky in the big things.

In the small things, life is cruel to me.  If I am playing a game and my opponent needs an unlikely roll of the dice, they get it (and I don't).  But the large things matter more.  I've never broken a bone and I have done plenty of stupid things that deserved one.  I don't catch infectious diseases in spite of roommates and carpool members who were CONSTANTLY sick.  When in danger, I escape.  I was involved in an icy road car pileup once and I had the only undamaged car.  I had EXACTLY the right neighbor to help me this month.  The list goes on...

Well, that's it for today.  Things are improving steadily.  One day at a time and all that...

Sunday, January 24, 2021


I don't often have pics of myself to post, but Great Neighbor Deb took a few yesterday for me.

First, just plain me.  My pics always look a little odd.  Some people have a natural smile even when relaxed.  Not me.  My natural facial expression is a bit dour, even unhappy-looking sometimes.  When I try to smile for a pictures, my eyebrows go up too and I look somewhere between stupid and surprised.

So I actually practiced in front of the mirror!   I managed to keep the eyebrows down and still get a slight smile.

Second, here is a pic of me with the walker Deb's hubby John brought from work.  He works at a public storage place and they have abandoned stuff like that just sitting around.  The thing on top is the breakfast-in-bed tray I mentioned previously.  One end fits over the walker handle and the other end is snug against the bottom of the tray frame.  It works well enough and it is easily removable.  Deb attached a basket in front with zip ties.  The red thing is an AARP fanny pack.  I keep my meds and my Dr appointment cards in there.  Much better than the plastic shopping bag I originally tied there.
I usually wear an N-95 mask when out, but I found a neat cat mask!  If I wear the N-95 mask under it, I will even look like I have a kitty snout, LOL!
Physically, I feel the same as yesterday, so nothing to mention there...  My sleep cycle is all messed up, though.  Sometimes I am tired and go to bed early and get up early; sometimes late and late.  Some nights I can barely sleep (some muscle unhappy in any position).  Other nights, I'm in bed for 10-12 hours.  I'm driving The Mews crazy; they sort of set their daily clocks by when I get up.  

Keepin On Keepin On...

Saturday, January 23, 2021

3 Week Anniversary

Yeah, 3 whole boring (sometimes painful) weeks!  

There is a song with a verse I recall that goes:

Counting flowers on the wall, that don't bother me at all
Playing solitaire 'til dawn with a deck of fifty one
Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo

Now don't tell me I've nothing to do

The entire lyrics are HERE if you are interested.

Things to do when you are bored:
1.  Hand-wash dishes
2.  Fold your underwear
3.  Clean all your light switch covers
4.  Look yourself up on the internet
5.  Look your friends and family up on the internet
6.  Watch a political TV channel whose views you hate and laugh at them

I bought a universal-fit walker tray.  It doesn't fit (no adjustments possible) so I'm returning it.  I may have mentioned that previously or not.  The good news is that I realized I had an old breakfast-in-bed tray.  It fits on the top of the walker!  Not that it attaches, but it stays on well enough (I'm only going 10' with it).

I will become a member of the smartphone world Monday!  My needs are few (phone away from home, camera, navigation app).  I chose an Apple iPhone XR.

Tried my 1st home food delivery.  They were out of half my order.  Naturally, the stuff I wanted most.  Next time, I will try allowing substitutions.

Medical Report:
1.  Feeling somewhat more mobile
2.  Can handle stairs carefully (but can't do that AND bring the walker down with me)
3.  Seeing orthopedic surgeon about my shoulder Monday
4.  Seeing primary care Dr Thursday for (hopefully) final re-evaluation
5.  Gave up on the tramadol (no effect at all)
6.  Ibuprophen is working fine with no side effects so far (but I'm going lightly with it - a 600mg when I get up and a 200 at bedtime)

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Day 19

First, I just relaxed all day yesterday watching Inauguration Day events.  Well, actually, it was hard to avoid.  Even channels that never show news (like Smithsonian) were broadcasting it.  Mostly, I am just glad that all the election stuff is OVER!

Second, the pulled groin muscle was temporary.  I can still feel it, but it was a lot easier to sleep last night. Still, I'm being VERY careful of it.

Third, I took the first Tramadol pill 4 hours ago.  I can't detect ANY lessening of muscle soreness.  It might as well be a sugar pill.  At least it isn't making me feel drowsy or dizzy or anything.  I'll take another one this evening, but I think I will just stick with Ibuprophen 600mg pill after that.  

Fourth, I swear I am drinking at least a gallon of water a day, but I always feel slightly thirsty.  I try to avoid any late in the evening, I have to get up at night often enough as it is.  Which, I have to say, is a LOT easier than it was a week ago.  

Fifth, I have an appt with an orthopedic surgeon Monday to examine the shoulder joint.  I will be VERY interested  in what she fines.  I could be anything from "you're healing fine" to "let me try this, it may hurt"  to "I'm scheduling an operation".

Sixth, I have an appt with my primary care Dr next Thursday.  I HOPE I won't need it by then, but I probably will.  I don't know what he can do other than measure vital signs like the PA did.  Maybe he will take some xrays to compare to the hospital ones from Jan 5th.

Seventh, I ordered and received a "universal-fit fold down tray" for the walker.  Of course it doesn't fit!  The leg clamps are 2" too short and there is no adjustment possible.  So I am going to try one that has slots that fit over the walker handles.  Those have very specific dimensions, so hopefully it will work.  And since it lifts right off, it will be convenient.  I only need it for transporting meals to the TV room. 

Eighth, the shoulder bruise is gone.  The hip-lower back-other hip bruise WAS solid deep purple.  Now I see some very slight splotching.  So I guess they will fade away in a week.

Other than all that, it is just "sit, sit, sit" though I do make sure to use the walker about 10 minutes per hour.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Not About Injuries Today

Today, I want to discuss a National Event.  I don't want to get TOO political about it.  I have mine, you have yours and they may differ with both of us caring about our Country.

I am writing this "before", but will schedule it to post 15 minutes before the event.  So I will write as if in that moment. 

Today is Inauguration Day, the official day of peaceful transition of one civilian Presidential administration to another.  This event has continued for over 2 centuries in our democracy.  It is an event to honor and be proud of.

In about 15 minutes, Joseph Biden will become President and Kamala Harris will become Vice President after that.  Donald Trump will no longer be our (legitimately and duly-elected) President.

I have (figuratively) been holding my breath since Election Day, waiting for this day.  I will (figuratively) exhale finally when the oaths of office are completed.  It has been a difficult and unpleasant 4 years for many of us both here and abroad.

Many have asked how could we not get rid of Trump sooner.  Well, some countries are based on various forms of government that suit them (or are powerless to change).  Some are ruled by dictators or merchant oligarchies, some are led by religious leaders, some are lead by powerful or figurative monarchs, some are lead by a judiciary focussed on a sense of general justice (some good, some arbitrary). 

We are guided by rule of law.  The distinction may not be great.  But it generally means that, if we elect an idiot as President for 4 years, we are pretty much stuck with him.  Several Presidents have been "impeached" by the House of Representatives, but that only means the Senate holds a trial afterwards.  No President has ever been convicted of charges in the Senate, Trump included.

As was said after Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 (and only after the major political leaders of his OWN party said they would vote to convict), "our long national nightmare is over".

A new Presidential administration will take charge in about 15 minutes.  Some will be angry, most will be relieved.  I expect things will improve in many ways:

1.  The struggle against the covid-19 pandemic will be more scientifically and logistically organized.
2.  The US will attempt to rebuild damaged international relationships and treaties.
3.  We will examine the partisan divisiveness in our country and begin to examine how some of that can be resolved.  There are more angry citizens than people like I realized.  Perhaps they have some legitimate grievances that can be addressed.  Or maybe there is "something in their water" that just makes them crazy.  We will have to find out.  It won't be easy or quick.
4.  I think we spend too much on military armaments, but maybe there is a good reason.  We became "the arsenal of democracy" in WWII; old habits die hard.  But there ARE powerful anti-democratics countries.  The whole military situation bears evaluation.
5.  We can't keep helping other countries as much as we used to.  We have poverty and hunger here too. More international cooperation and more efficient use of food and medical help is required.  Volunteer organizations might help to improve the effectiveness lof government efforts.
6.  We can't keep burning fossil fuels which raise global temperatures and greenhouse gases.  We (internationally) have the technology to make low and zero emission  technologies more widespread.
7.  International sex and enslavement activities are increasing.  We need to reduce/end that.

That is a start.  I expect the Biden administration to address all of these issues soon.  That doesn't mean they will be solved in his 4 or 8 years, but he has to start them here and rejoin international efforts to solve them.

It's still 15 minutes to his inauguration in this (slightly imaginary) post.  15 minutes until a new day, a new way, and a better President than we had before.

I now have some hope for the future.  I am financially stable; if taxes need to be raised to help fix things I will pay gladly.  If I can help in some government program (I have some experience) I will volunteer once I can get around and drive again.   

I have always trusted humanity in general to move towards improving life.  It seems a natural arc for us.    Think of some good idea, tell your neighbors, "pay it forward".  Because they gave your tribe a good idea last year.  Help each other.  We are all on this one planet together.  That drug we created is worth giving to others.  Not just because they helped you with something else LAST year, but because they needed it.

We are all in this together.

And in 15 minutes, the US will change for the better.  And hopefully, with a hard lesson learned...


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Dr Office Visit

Went to my regular Dr office as followup to hospital visit.  Actually, I saw a physician assistant (PA) hereafter).  I have good vital signs!  Blood Pressure 150/65 (the 150 is a little high, but she allowed for the exertion using the walker for 2 weeks).   Pulse was 66.  Oxygen level was 98% (fantastic for a 50 year smoker)!  And to think the primary care Dr suggested I might have COPD in 2018.  Temp is a perfect 98.6.  

Turned out they WOULDN'T approve a Percoset refill.  I told her my last pill had been Thursday and I felt just fine mentally (as in no withdrawal sensations) but they are being cautious and I understand that).  But she understood I WAS in some pain, so I got a prescription for traMADOL (an opiate) and 600 mg ibuprophen.  Grand total cost 49 cents.  WOW!

I researched traMADOL (that's how it is printed on the bottle).  It seems more addictive and dangerous than Percoset!  Well, they only gave me 9 pills.  What bad can happen?

It was funny when she asked my age.  When I said 70, she looked at me carefully and asked me to confirm it.   Yeah, I'm one of THOSE PEOPLE.  I often get carded when I request a senior discount, LOL!  Fair is fair, though.  I sufferred as a teen by looking 14 when I went to college.  Just TRY to date a college woman when you look like you're in 10th grade...  Liquor store guys would study my drivers license to see how I had faked it. 

I ordered a flat tray with raised edges for carrying food to the TV room on the walker (I have a basket but it only fits small bowls) and 2 precut tennis balls to fit the non wheel legs.

I'm actually having a harder time getting around now than 2 days ago.  Apparently, I've pulled a groin muscle.   THAT stings a bit.  The ibuprophen helps and I start the opiate tomorrow.  But I need to favor the right leg for a few days.

BTW, both Deb and John tested positive for Covid-19 last Summer.  Several negative tests since then.  She sanatizered me and had me wear gloves in her car and the Dr office.  Even so, she said she wouldn't go in the Dr office waiting area, and then did anyway.  She did all the paperwork and got the prescriptions afterwards (there is a pharmacy right there in the Medical Bldg).  She is a take-charge person!

When she got me home, she insisted I do a complete change of clothes and put that set into a separate plastic bag (from which she will dump untouched from the bag into the washer for safety).  She is a self-proclaimed "cleanliness fanatic".  My house must look like a horror show to her.  Let's just say I am a "rather careless housekeeper". It just doesn't bother me.  I grew up playing in dirt and creek water, and my adult hobbies usually have me in dirt.  The PA was surprised at my lack of adult health problems (I never catch colds or flu.  I've read health articles about that, though.  Moderate exposure to "the natural world" tends to provide lifelong health benefits.  :)

She loves the truffle sample box I gave her.  Says she never guessed there were so many flavors.  Pumpkin, spice, mint, sea salt, etc.  I have simple tastes in chocolate:  White and Extra Dark!  So, I know what to do with the sample box (basically 2 or 3 of every flavor Lindor sells) that will come with my next White and Extra Dark order I place (I order a 150 piece box of each about once per year).

That will be a few months from now, so I am planning "innocent thanks" flowers next week and prime steaks when I can shop for myself again.  And some fresh garden produce in Summer.  Not many people are familiar with flat Italian green beans, and apparently, she has never had an heirloom tomato.  Hmm, a loaf of my home baked bread next week, too.  I use beer instead of water for more depth of flavor, and add dried minced onion, crushed garlic and oregano.  Really makes a difference.  I LOVE my bread machine!

Other than that, it is "same old, same old".  Wait and heal, wait and heal...

Monday, January 18, 2021

Day 16

Well, here I am again, still part of the walker-brigade...

The good news is:

1.  Appt with regular Dr office tomorrow at 1pm.  My primary care Dr is booked up, but the office says they have a physician asst available then who is fully qualified to poke. prod, and evaluate my progress on the injuries listed in the hospital report.  And it seems little doubt that they will authorize a refill of the Percoset.  My last pill was Thursday and I can really feel the lack.  Though I will say ibuprophen helps quite a lot.

2.  Appt with orthopedic surgeon next Monday to evaluate the shoulder.  It seems odd that I can put weight on that shoulder without pain while using the walker.  But I'm sure the Dr will explain all that after seeing me.

3.  It feels like I have plateaued this past few days,  but I CAN tell some differences.  It is easier to get in and out of bed and it is easier to change sleeping positions.  Also, I can stand up easier and it doesn't hurt much to cough (so I can tell the rib muscles are healing).

4.  Deb insists I am not over-asking for help from her.  I tried to give her an "out" saying I don't really need her to bring in my paper and mail EVERY day, and that with 2 cats using 4 litter boxes,  daily cleaning isn't required.  Ayla uses the bathroom mat lately, which I am OK with for now - it is easy to pick up her firm little poops with the washcloth she uses to cover up with.

5.  Deb will bring me to the Dr appts.  She works at home and SAYS she appreciates a good excuse to get out of the house.  I TOLD her I could just call a cab, but she won't hear of it.  I am SO grateful for her cheerful assistance.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Two Whole Weeks

It's hard to believe it has been 2 weeks since I fell off that darn ladder!  The hours go slowly, but the days disappear.     

Some minor accomplishments:

1.  Right shoulder is better.  I was able to sit down and pay some bills.  Hurray, I can print a check legibly again!

2.  Doing the above, I needed an envelope from the computer room.  Without really thinking about it, I stood up and free-walked (slowly and with hands on the walls) there and back.  I wouldn't want to try free-walking any farther though.  And I don't plan on doing it again today.  But it was good to discover I could.

3.  Made a real meal (as opposed to just thawing out a few things).  Fried eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, cocoa, and green tea.  Tonight will be a pork/mushroom/pepper stir-fry.

4.  Did some very light kitchen countertop cleaning.  Just handi-wipe work, but it looks better.

5.  Unpacked 3 kitchen items I received a month ago and was ignoring.  They are for sugar, flour, and cornstarch.  They are cats!  I marked the collar tab of each with "S F or C" to tell them apart.  No more ugly mason jars...

6.  Washed some socks in the sink.  I have LOTS of clean socks, but most are hard to put on right now.  These were nice slippery-stretchy golf socks.  Easier to pull on AND get into my shoes.

7.  Again, my many thanks for all the good wishes and concerns.  They help me get through each day.

Isn't it funny how little things mean a lot sometimes?

Thursday, January 14, 2021

One Day Leads To Another

Not much different today than yesterday.  The ugly shoulder bruise is fading, but the ones around the hips/lower back are deeper purple (I can't show you THOSE pictures, LOL).  They will begin to fade in a few days, I guess.  At least bruises don't actually HURT!  The muscles under them do though.

There may not be much change from yesterday, but there sure is from last Wensday.  Getting up from a chair or bed was a willful act of pain then.  Now I can pretty much just stand up (one hand on a kneee still helps).  One day soon I will just stand up like normal and not even realize it at first.

You would think that using the walker would make my arms hurt/tired since I'm putting a lot of my weight on them, but it is actually the hips that wear out first.  

Deb came over to see how I was doing.  She returned my laundered pants and picked up my grocery list for when she goes out later.  I have lots of the other stuff clean.

She gets a kick out of my grocery list and refrigator supply.  She says I am the healthiest-eating person she ever met.  Today's list was all fresh fruits and veggies.  Not a twinkie or even potato chip in sight.  

She likes my shopping list itself too.  I made an Excel spreadsheet list of all my usual stuff years ago.  I fitted it 2 per page and printed out 50 copies and cut them in half.  So there is 100 lists.  I keep them on a strong magnetic clip on the refrigerator and just check off items as I run out.  She thinks she may do the same.

It can be funny about lists though.  You know what each item means to YOU, but no one else quite does.  Like, one item just says "lettuce" .  I know that means green leaf or buttercrunch.  To Deb, that meant "iceberg".  She LIKES iceberg (I don't), so I explained and gave it to her.  Same with tomatoes.  To me that means grape or cherry tomatoes.  To her it means the larger regular hothouse tomatoes. I know beggers can't be choosy, but I guess I'm a bit of a "foodie"...  So todays list was handwritten in more detail.  She understands.

She insisted on doing some quick cleaning in the kitchen.  I said OK as long as it was just exposed counter space not oven-cleaning and she could NOT even look into the bathroom.  But I think I better do some cleaning in there myself today.  She is VERY determined to help and I do have SOME pride!  But I am the kind of person who couild walk into an abandoned cabin full of cobwebs and a dead squirrel in the corner and think "Home Sweet Home", LOL!

The Mews are adapting to the situation.  They have the Big Bowl of kibble, and I managed canned 2x a day now.  Ayla has been more active lately, coming into the main rooms of the house.  I even saw Ayla nappin on a living room chair yesterday.  And she comes to visit me at the computer frequently.  They still fear the walker.

Thanks for the continued good wishes, POTP, etc.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

One Week Home From The Hospital

First - I can see why SOME permanently-injured or very elderly people ask themselves why they are "sticking around" (don't worry, that's not me - "this too shall pass").  This is all INCREDIBLY BORING AND IT HURTS, TOO.

Second - Many of you have mentioned how fortunate I am to have neighbors like Deb and John.  I certainly agree and make it a point to thank them every time they visit or run an errand.  And I mentioned to Deb how often all of YOU have expressed gratitude for her help on my behalf.  She said "WOO HOO, thank them all for the kind words" (with thumbs up).  And "it is nice to be recognized but I would do it unrecognized of course".  Well, of course she would.  She's that kind of helpful person.  She said she has had similar good help in the past, and believes in "pay it forward.  I sure will.  So, I'm passing that along.

Third - The hospital has left a couple  of voice mails asking me to call them about my recent visit.  I haven't called back yet; I'm not sure what to say.  Amdla2000 left a comment "This old nurse thinks that your ER visit was medically successful, but a total case management failure".    I agree.  They did some good thorough work with xrays/catscan/mri, but sent me home without much advice.  

I am, of course, grateful for their work to gauge the extent of my injuries, but I will mention that (as kindly as possible).  Also, the medical report they gave me is complete gibberish to any non-expert.  I will suggest they provide future patients with a 1 page summary in PLAIN ENGLISH.  Needing a medical dictionary to understand the report makes it nearly useless.  A list of what all those blood test acronyms mean would also help.  A list like that wouldn't even need to be personalized for each patient.  Just a boilerplate single page.

Something like "3 fractured left ribs, 1 fractured right rib, dislocated right shoulder, pulled muscles on both sides of rib cage/hips/lower back/left thumb.  Try to move around frequently, drink lots of water.  A walker will help", etc, would have helped greatly.  

I also want to ask why they didn't automatically do a covid-19 test.  I know there was no  nasal swab done, but maybe it shows up in the blood test.  If so, they didn't mention it in any way I can tell.

Fourth - Cable TV is wretched!  There is an old song "57 channels and nothing's on.  Well, I have a lot more than that and it is still true.  Even the free on-demand stuff is pathetic.  I end up mostly watching CNN, MSNBC, and cartoons.  I'm not a movie person (they are just too long).  Thank goodness I have a lot of DVDs!  I may order more.

Fifth - Well, I just got up, time to face the day...