Thursday, April 29, 2021

Difficult Health Decision

 I have some very disappointing news. I'm still broken.

After three months of wearing the hip brace, I was excited to finally get out of it and get back to my activities. I went to 2 pool exercise classes and one physiotherapy appointment. I was going to get a form filled so that I could get back to work with modified duties and eventually be back to normal hours. I was just starting to get a few things done around here that have needed doing, we went for a few car rides and a little walk in the park, and I was wearing pants other than leggings! Then it happened.

Last week, while I was seated, my hip had a partial dislocation. It popped out when I twisted sideways and kind of reached forward. I screamed, and my daughter called her dad and tried to figure out what to do. She was just starting to call 911, and I kind of arched my back with the pain and tada it clunked back in. Yes, I actually could hear the thunk as it relocated itself, and immediately the sharp, severe pain stopped. I cried and cried because, beyond the pain, I knew what this means. I put the miserable brace back on until I could check in with the doctor.

I called my surgeon's office and got an appointment for his next office day. He believes that we should do a revision surgery as soon as possible to go back in and change the style of the liner in the artificial socket and check things out. The protocol, if it had fully dislocated, would absolutely have been to do the surgery. There is no good guide for what to do with a partial dislocation, so the choice was up to me. I questioned why this dislocated at 2 and a half years out. It is very, very unusual - dislocations are usually very early in the game or after many, many years of wear. There is no answer to that one.

 I was supposed to have that cancelled knee replacement finally happen in July. He is highly concerned that if we don't have my hip stable at the time of the knee surgery and it dislocated again, it would be catastrophic for the recovery of both joints. He suggested that if the hip wasn't 100 % by then, we should do the hip instead of the knee at that time or just cancel the knee surgery.

 I asked if serious strengthening exercises would be a possibility instead. Our decision was that since I already had an appointment in a couple days with the physiotherapist, I should get her opinion. 

I saw the physiotherapist three days later. She really didn't think it was likely that we could get it strong enough once I was having repeat injuries like this, and the unfixed knee was not helping the situation. She said she would just go with the surgery rather than waiting in fear for another dislocation. Don't put so much work into strengthening that hip just to have the muscle cut in an emergency situation. Made sense. 

I called the doctor's office, and now I have surgery scheduled for May 19th.

Three weeks is actually a nice amount of time to get organized for life after surgery and to talk myself into accepting that this is really happening. On May 25th, it will be 3 years since I was in the hospital having the replacement and 13 years since I was in the hospital due to the pulmonary embolism and the subsequent brain injury. May is apparently not an easy month for my health. I am pretty discouraged at this point. I feel like I have done all I can, but then I question what I might have done wrong that I am having trouble with my hip like this. Unwarranted Self-blame is an issue for me sometimes.

The new Physiotherapist, Janine, said something helpful. I hadn't actually said anything about blaming myself out loud, but I guess she picked up on my emotional state. She looked at me kind of sharply and said, "You do know this isn't your fault, don't you?  This isn't you, failing here... it's your hip. No, actually, it is not your hip .. it is the prosthesis (artificial hip) that is failing. Maybe a problem with it. Maybe not the right fit or orientation for you and your life, but for sure, it is NOT you!" I didn't realize how upset I was feeling about that until I felt such a wave of relief go over me with her words.

I'm going to try and get some fun into the next 3 weeks while I still can. Life has already been so restrictive in this Covid Time. Unfortunately, we are in another wave in Winnipeg and experiencing increasing restrictions related to rapidly increasing case numbers. Another bunch of limitations because of the hip and now continuing for 4 more months is just adding to the isolation and feelings of being restricted. Even though I am in quite a bit of discomfort and pain, I want to go for some car ride adventures, take some photos, have a picnic, get some takeout food and enjoy our yard. I don't want to miss this lovely warm spring weather.

Monday, April 19, 2021

My Great Big Fabric Stash and the Great Declutter

Our plan is to get our "Rec Room" emptied out so that we can pull up the carpet and replace the ceiling tiles. I helped install both of those items 47 years ago so they are very very long overdue for replacing! There is a small living area that Alicia is trying to use as a home learning space for the virtual university classes she is taking. We use down there but most of the room is filled with storage tubs, a whole lot of Christmas stuff, art supplies and hobby materials and lots and lots of books and magazines that were left in the rec room. 

I am having a lot of trouble moving around and still can't bend or pick up a lot of things so I need a lot of help and everything takes much longer than I want it to. The stairs alone are hard to navigate. We will persevere and get this done! We are doing a bit in all the areas of the basement but ultimately the rec room is our target.

 We are taking decluttering very seriously at our house, and in particular, we are focusing on our basement. It is more difficult than it sounds. 

The backstory is that I moved into this very house with my mom when I was only 16 and raised my own kids in this house too.

Basically, I have a lifetime of living in this house, and I have a mountain of my stuff to prove it. I still have some of my mom's furniture, dishware, linens and other belongings here even though she has been gone 43 years now. My Grandmother moved in with my mom and me when I was 16 because she was too ill to live independently. She brought her furniture with her. Bob and I got married when I was 21, and he moved in with the contents of his apartment.  This was followed over the years by adding even more things inherited from my dad and some from Bob's parents. Next, we still have the many items of memorabilia that belong to our oldest two children. Alicia and Emily have all their belongings here too. I think Bob and I both have issues parting with belongings, and at the same time, we enjoy collections, and we all seem to have a lot of hobbies, that require supplies.

I often don't feel like it is my stuff to deal with. It wasn't originally my belongings, so it feels wrong to get rid of or make decisions about those items. We have made LOTS of attempts to clean it out, but I think this just might be the time we are successful. We really need more living space. Like many other families, Covid has really caused us to re-examine how we use our space. What do we actually want to do in our home and yard? We need to make changes. And for me? I really need to stop living in the past. Even if I don't feel a sense of ownership over a lot of the stuff in this house, most of it is indeed my responsibility. It is our home. It is where we want to live a good life instead of a place to simply warehouse our stuff. I want to be able to enjoy and use our treasured belongings and to be able to get at the items we do keep. We also have quite an amazing collection of inherited stuff in our cottage. Still, somehow we have done a better job keeping that place under control.

Our plan is to get our "Rec Room" emptied out so that we can pull up the carpet and replace the ceiling tiles. I helped install both of those items 47 years ago, so they are very, very long overdue for replacing! There is a small living area down there that Alicia is trying to use as a home learning space for the virtual university classes she is taking. Unfortunately, most of the room is filled with storage tubs, a lot of Christmas stuff, art supplies and hobby materials and lots, and lots of books and magazines left in the rec room. 

I am having a lot of trouble moving around and still can't bend or pick up many things, so I need a lot of help, and everything takes much longer than I want it to. The stairs alone are hard to navigate and pretty exhausting. We will persevere and get this done! We are doing a bit in all the different areas in the basement, but ultimately, the rec room is our target

One of my main projects for this week is to gather my fabric and sewing supplies all into one place so that I can think through what to do with it all. Trust me, there is a lot of material and supplies. Mainly, I want to sew it into finished projects. lol  Probably not the best use of my time, though! 

Bob and I plan to set up the dining room table with my sewing machine and serger on Monday and see how it goes. I'm not sure how my leg or back will do with sewing until I try, so I will begin with a handful of small projects. I will take some pictures as I go. 

I have another appointment with my Orthopedic Surgeon in the morning so stay tuned for an update about my knee and hip this week.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Too Much Stress, Updates and some Whining

 Hello Friends! 

I have been busy lying low for the past couple of months. I must admit that I kind of went into a tailspin and just reached a point where my emotional and physical reserves reached a breaking point. The name of this blog, Leading A Healthy Life, has felt more than a little ironic lately.

 The injury to my hip on December 22 was very traumatic, but it was only the last straw. 

 I thought I could keep busy at home post hip dislocation, and I was going to try and use that time at home in some constructive way and hoped to share my projects here. I really found it difficult to do anything. I couldn't even sit in a regular chair or at a table. I was either lying flat on my back in bed or in a raised recliner. I wasn't in a ton of pain, but I was really uncomfortable all the time, and because of wearing that hip brace 24 hours a day, even at night, I was pretty sleep-deprived. It seems that I want to roll over a lot, and you can't in a contraption like that brace. I didn't like being dependent on my husband and daughters for many basic things, such as washing my hair and dressing. One of the most irritating things is that I seem to always be dropping stuff, and I need a lot of help picking all those things up. 

I watched a lot of TV and YouTube. Bob got us a new  TV while I was in the hospital, It is a new smart one for my side of the bed, and I watched for hours. There was nowhere to walk to, no exercises I was allowed to do, no meaningful work I could do, and no friends to visit due to covid restrictions. I haven't even seen my son and grandkids in almost 8 months, and they live only a half-hour away from me. My eldest daughter is a province away, and there are many quarantine restrictions about crossing the provincial borders, so I have not seen her in almost a year.

 There have been a lot of health issues and other stresses going on for our family in the past year and it has really been getting to me. I know that so many people have it worse than us, and we do keep those who are suffering and have lost loved ones and their homes and jobs in our prayers and thoughts. I am indeed very grateful for a loving family and good care, and lots of available resources. 

 I had 2 minor surgeries this past year - one for a large painful cyst, a lipoma, in my back and another procedure to remove a very large bleeding precancerous growth in my colon and I had to deal with anemia related to that condition. The followups are all looking great. 

One daughter was supposed to have her gallbladder out and was frequently in a lot of pain. Still, the surgery was put on hold from November due to hospital closures until a few weeks ago. She had surgery 2 weeks ago and is still uncomfortable but recovering slowly.

The other daughter had a severe shoulder injury due to a workplace injury. After a lot of difficulties, she was finally diagnosed correctly, but her surgery was also delayed. She eventually had the surgery but will be left with permanent limitations in her range of motion. She went back to university (zoom classes) because she will need to find a new occupation.

 I was supposed to have a knee replacement in January, but that will be on hold for a while until I am doing better with my hip recovery. I don't have a tentative date yet, but it will happen. They need to catch up with covid related delays in elective surgeries and any further covid shutdowns with the hospitals.  

Work has been horrifically difficult this past year. Covid 19 has hit nursing homes especially hard. When you are a recreation person, you are the substitute for friends and family while still being part of the health care team. We try to bring some comfort during these heartbreaking times that are filled with so much fear and loss, and loneliness. Many of our people suffer from dementia and can't understand all that is happening but most certainly are aware of the changes and anxiety around them. We heard about staff dying from covid in other facilities just a few miles from us, and we worried about what is in store for us.  In many ways it is good to not be at work during Covid but I really do miss it. I miss planning activities that are helpful for people and I miss the residents and  my many wonderful co-workers. I know everyone is well cared for but it is hard to shake the feeling that I ought to be there doing my part. It is very hard to putting my own recovery first even though there is no way I physically would be a help at work. I keep telling myself it is like the airplanes. Grab that' oxygen mask first or you can't help other people.  Self care is complicated sometimes. 

One significant stressor has been a rental property we own. We have a 2-bedroom house I inherited from my dad that I rent out as an important part of my income. That went very bad to this past year when the Government made it impossible to kick tenants out during Covid or charge any overdue fees. The tenants just stopped paying rent. They did a tremendous amount of damage to the house, such as breaking doors and door frames, dog feces everywhere, gouged walls, cement poured down drains ruining the plumbing.. you get the idea. It has taken us almost all of the past 3 months to get it fit to rent out again. I couldn't help with repairs and cleaning because of my hip, and I was frustrated and angry beyond belief. There we were trying to deal with the financial fallout happening to our family. I can't track her down to collect any of the money she owes me. I was notified just yesterday by the government-run water utility company that they also can't track down the tenant. Therefore they are legally allowed to tack her water utility bill of over $1500 onto my property taxes. It will be payable in full with my billing next month. I sat there stunned and yelled at the letter, "That is just not fair! I am not a big corporation... just someone with their dad's house!"

Okay, My Whining is Over, for the moment anyway.

The update is:

  • I am now 2 weeks out of the hated brace, and I started physiotherapy 3 days ago. I like my new physiotherapist and think she is just right for my recovery needs. 
  • The rental house has new tenants as of 2 weeks ago, so that chapter is over.  
  • Our daughters are both recovering well. 
  •  I have lost some weight and feel pretty happy about that, and I really enjoy wearing some different-sized clothing.
  • I got the first dose of the Covid 19 vaccine- AstraZeneca, and the second will be in June. Bob will get his vaccination in a week.
  • The city pools finally opened up 14 days ago. I got into an arthritis aquatic group class with a max of 10 people located in a very big pool with a lot of room to distance. I can't do many of the exercises, and Di, our fearless leader, keeps her eye on me. It feels wonderful to walk and move in the water,
  • I hope to be back at work on modified duty in a few weeks, so hopefully, that goes well. My supervisor is sounding supportive and happy about my return.

And People .. it is Spring! The time for new beginnings! 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Making Marmalade the Victorian Way

 My daughter Alicia and I made Marmalade! Well, maybe mainly Alicia, but I helped. We have talked about making marmalade since the summer. Alicia has never made any, and I have not made any in at least 20 years.

Alicia really enjoys a YouTube Channel called the Victorian Way. It is from a British Heritage site with cooking videos where they present short demonstrations of Victorian cooking by reenacting the preparation of various authentic dishes. It is kind of like Downton Abbey meets Master Chef Challenge. We love the cook, Mrs. Avis Crocombe, who is based on the real cook that worked at the estate in the 1880s. Each of the cooking videos gives information in the text on the videos and in the notes under the video so a modern-day version can be made at home.

Their historical society put out a cookbook based on the authentic recipe collection of Mrs. Crocome, and we bought a copy for Alicia as a Christmas present this year.   

This book brings together Avis’s very own recipes and other Victorian favourites from the time – all specially adapted for modern cooks and modern kitchens.

Along with practical recipes and insights into the culinary world of the Victorians, you’ll find a vivid history of Avis’s life and times, and – for the first time – the full manuscript of Avis’s own handwritten recipe book.

“I hope this recipe book will bring as much joy to those who cook from it as I get from telling Mrs Crocombe’s story.” - Kathy Hipperson, Historical Interpreter

How to Cook: The Victorian Way with Mrs. Crocombe: Gray, Annie, Hann, Andrew: 9781910907429: Books -

One of the book's recipes is for a Marmalade, and Alicia wanted to try it out. It was different than any marmalade I had ever tried to make before. For one thing, you start off by boiling whole oranges for an hour. 

Alicia did most of the work and all the peeling the citrus rinds, but I helped stir and boil down the sugar and fruit and helped with filling the little jars Alicia bought at the dollar store. I also helped with sampling the final product YUM.  I find that I can stand up just fine for short periods of time, but I get very tired and become more accident-prone. It is a good thing that Alicia was so committed to making Marmalade because it easily took an hour and a half. 

Here is a sample of one of their videos. - This one uses marmalade to make Marmalade Water Ice! Maybe we will try that this summer since we now know how to make the marmalade.



Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Trying to Keep Busy

 I have been recovering at home for over a month now with little to do but watch TV and play on the computer. I need to find a way to keep myself distracted and busier. I still have 2 to 3 more months with me out of commission, and it is looming through the whole long winter!.

I was really looking forward to planning and carrying out a variety of programs at work for 2021. I have been looking up new ideas for a long time now and hoping that the isolation protocols would soon be over so we can do group programs once again. I was also preparing ideas that could be done in the residents' individual rooms with very few resources and possibly even done independently.

I was thinking that an excellent basic program idea would be all things lemon. Tea with lemon would be a perfect way to spend time with individuals or groups. I found some colouring sheets, easy baking plans and I even have aan appropriate story. I had lots of other lemony ideas floating around in my head for my seniors. 

I am really lonely and bored and focusing way too much about what I can't do, and --- yes --- I was thinking I really need a recreation therapist just for me!! Too bad with quarantines, I can't even have friends over to distract me! I need to find things I can actually do. I need to stop pouting and start figuring this out. Sometimes, it is more challenging to look at yourself and your abilities objectively than it is to sort out other people's needs.

Bob and our daughters have been pretty supportive of my different hobbies and interests. They have had many years of getting pulled into my adventures. They occasionally join me in the fun and frequently are good "enablers" of my various ideas. Still, I really don't want to tempt them away from the things they are supposed to be doing either. Helping me with daily living issues is a pretty full-time job right now anyway.

The idea of lemon programs is currently stuck in my head. I keep thinking about the saying, "If life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade," and I'm feeling an urge to take that quite literally. I'm feeling like I am dealing with a whole lot of sour lemons right now.

Christmas 2020 had a citrus element at our house. Emily and Alicia dried and strung up citrus slices to be used in our beautiful Christmas tree. Emily and I rolled out cinnamon applesauce dough. We then used cookie cutters to form cinnamon-shaped animals to hang on our tree too. We had a few extra dried orange slices and cinnamon shapes that we put in a bowl with pine cones to act as a tabletop centrepiece. For the centrepiece, we also added some whole oranges that we studded with cloves. It was so fragrant and pretty.

The lemon ideas I planned for work would be good for my seniors living in a Personal Care Home; however, they are not really great distractions for crafty little ol' me stuck at my home with mobility issues. Recreation Therapists make care plans for all of our residents. We look at their interests and likes and at their histories. We assess their abilities and any possible limitations we need to consider. Next, we try to develop plans that are therapeutic, holistic and at the very least will make them feel engaged in what they are doing.

Right now, I have issues with how I am moving, and with my stamina levels. We will need to find supplies already at our home or available to us during the pandemic lockdown. This all impacts what is realistic for me to try doing. I might add that my patience is kind of limited right now, and my frustration level is kind of high, back to why I need to make some changes to my days.

Yesterday I commented on Facebook about my plans to do some citrus-based projects at home and shared that I wondered what I should do. Several friends came up with great ideas that had not occurred to me. Now, for sure, I want to do see how far I can take these ideas. I am indeed going to do lemon and orange things! I can take it as a challenge, like a scavenger hunt, to interpret some of my ideas and my friends' ideas in some sort of doable ways.

 I wasn't originally thinking of this as something to share on this blog, but a few friends really want to see pictures of what I am actually up to! Lol. Look out for future posts about my take on making lemonade when you have way too many lemons.

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