Eight months later

I don’t know if I will ever be able to do more than I can right now. The home therapist told me that while it’s certainly possible to see additional changes up to two years post-op, it’s also possible that I won’t see any improvement at all in the next six months. I need to be prepared for that while not being depressed. I don’t much like my new normal but I’m getting used to it. But it’s hard to keep the enthusiasm up for therapy and workouts and exercise when it seems that that’s all I’ve been doing for eight months.

On the other hand, even if I don’t get better, I don’t want to go backwards. I’ve worked too hard and am mostly independent; I want to stay that way.

I have to be weight-bearing every day one way or another to make sure my legs don’t atrophy. I work out on the NuStep five days a week (on the advice of therapy) to strengthen my legs. Everything I do takes so much time and most mornings, the words heard most often are “Oh, crap!” as my legs run into doors or get stuck on carpets, or I see cat vomit to be cleaned up. Dressing takes 20-40 minutes depending on whether I can wear the zipper shoes or need the AFO’s to start the day. And if I start with zipper shoes, I will need to change to AFO’s later to do therapy and walking. I hate them. And I hate putting them on.

On the other hand, I have feet. And I’m not freezing in a dark basement on a concrete floor while bombs go off around me. I’ve thought about what it would be like to have my limits and be trying to survive in Ukraine right now. I think I would be dead because I couldn’t escape. That certainly brings things home. My limits are still in a warm, comfortable home with food, water, heat, and Internet service, and I’m grateful for that.

At the same time, I’ve made some medical decisions about my body in light of being mostly in the chair now. I’ve told my doctor and my family that I am not going to do any diagnostic testing such as mammograms and colonoscopies because I don’t want to do anything if the tests find a problem. I know this could mean a shorter life, and frankly, that’s okay with me. While I have people who love me, I have no husband, partner, or children and the medical decisions are mine to make. I’ve been totally dependent on others to help me turn, stand, move, use the bathroom, etc., and I don’t want to go there again. I don’t have a death wish and I’m not planning to do anything to end my life. I just don’t want to have medicine prolong it just because they can. I am not afraid of death when it is my time.

That time is not now, and I’m not giving up even though I’m tired of my new normal. But I also can’t operate on the kind of higher-stress levels that I had in early therapy. I’m trying to figure out how to have an open house of some sort here to show my new home to my local friends – who I really miss seeing. And also to work out some sort of life that doesn’t only include NuStep, lunch, walking, and therapy. That gets old fast. It already has.

I’m ready to weed out and declutter more, though it’s much harder to do from a wheelchair than when you can just stand up. I have clothes to bundle up and kitchen things to take to Hangers for Hope, as well as some broken or other weird things that just need to be tossed. And several bags of books to go to the used bookstore. I have a big pile of Birkenstock sandals that I can no longer wear and purses that I won’t use that can find new homes. But I need help to get things packed up and carted away to appropriate places. It’s hard to ask for help but I know that it will be there if I do. It’s time for a plan to make it happen so I can make some breathing room. You know, before the open house.

Image credit: Photo 51239796 / Calendar © Flynt | Dreamstime.com

And here we are

My goal for now through the end of the year is to not gain weight. I don’t seem to be actively working on LOSING it but am pleased to be holding within a 3 lbs range for weeks at a time. Going into holidays is stressful and usually full of social events, though this year that is probably not true. In any case, I’m still 55 lbs down from January 1st. I confess to being jealous of my friend Lisa who is down 75 lbs in the same amount of time, but she’s working on it harder than I am and it’s not a competition even though sometimes I feel that it is and that I’m losing. I hate losing. Even that isn’t enough incentive to push me right now. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

My brother was here for a quick visit and did “tall people things” from my project list. Because of my knee and my back, I’m pretty unstable on my feet on a good day and I don’t want to push my luck by getting on a step stool. It’s nice to have lightbulbs changed and things removed from high places. We had a good visit and a chance to talk without corraling grandkids or any agenda. One thing he did say was that it would be “thoughtful” of me to use a cane so he wouldn’t have to worry about me falling. Since the bad knee feels like buckling at inconvenient times, I think I need to start using a cane or walking stick much as I’d rather not.

Friends here are moving and it’s unsettling. I’ve found myself looking around at my own house and budget, wondering how long I will stay here in this house that has been part of my life for 35 years. I have so much more stuff than when I lived in apartments, which I did for my working life, but most of it I could leave behind. So I’m seriously looking to prune out “stuff” again so it all feels less claustrophobic. Even the genealogy books need weeding, though I did just get a book on Researching Presbyterian Ancestors in Ireland. A little light reading?

I need some time off and permission to TAKE that time off. It’s not that I think I’m irreplaceable but I’m acting as though I am, which is ridiculous. Actually, I just need to give MYSELF permission to take the time – it’s not that anyone is stopping me but me. I’m not sure what I would do with time off since I’m not going to hop on a plane or go for a long driving vacation. Those trips always exhausted me anyway. But taking 2-3 days off plus a weekend would give me a nice break. Just being able to sleep in an extra hour would be a luxury.

Where did this stuff come from?

When it’s time to pack up the kitchen before countertop demo in the coming weeks, I decided to go through everything in the cabinets to see what I no longer (or never) use. Packing is laborious enough – why include things that I don’t need?

First I weeded pots and pans. Casserole dishes. The dutch oven my mom used for pot roast but hasn’t moved in at least 8 years. A juicer. Melamine dishes. Loaf pans. Mom’s old cookie sheets. All now boxed up to deliver to charity.

Next up were plastic containers. Dear Lord, where did they all come from? Were they making little baby containers in the back of the cabinet? Why don’t the tops fit the bottoms? Honestly, I was stunned by the debris but think the collection really got started when my dad died and when I was post-op and people brought food. I sorted and weeded, trying on tops and then just giving up and dumping a whole lotta plastic. Kept about 1/8 of what you see on the counter. Now I know what I have and everything can go in the freezer, which is important.

Still need to go through what’s on the top shelves of the cabinets. I never use them because I can’t reach, being shorter than everyone else in my family. What’s the point of putting something on a top shelf if I can’t get it down?

By the time I actually need to pack things up, it should be super easy – she said optimistically.

Dividing up treasures

Half of the silver

My mother, sister-in-law, and I all chose the same Towle Old Master silver pattern. I never married but didn’t let that stop me getting pretty things. We grew up using the silver every night for dinner, not saving it up for only special occasions, and I wanted to be able to do that in my own home. My mom bought me some place settings from estate sales, I bought some, and my grandmother would sometimes give me a teaspoon or fork for my birthday.

I gave 4 of my place settings to my oldest nephew when he got married, but have rarely used any since moving to Texas. I added mine to my mom’s set carefully wrapped up in anti-tarnish cloth when I moved here, but it’s not doing anyone any good just sitting in a drawer. So as part of my house transition, I decided it was time to pass it on to the next generation. Not being a fool, I checked with my brother and sister-in-law to be sure what I wanted to do was equitable.

Today I spread all the pieces out on the dining table and started dividing them up. There were actually almost 16 of everything, which was more than I’d realized. Each of my nieces will get 8 place settings. But then there were the odd things that I never had in my set (spoons for iced tea and soup, little individual butter knives, pickle forks, etc.) and larger serving pieces that were a combo of Old Master pattern (large spoons and fork, pie server, gravy ladle) and miscellaneous pieces that I’d inherited from my grandmother and great-grandmother. I randomly divided these between the two piles.

Most of me is happy that the new generation will have and use these, and hopefully will think of us when they do. But part of me wants to cry to part with these pretty silver things that I never use but know where they came from and (mostly) what they’re for, including the tomato server and sugar sifter. I just love them. But it’s not fair to them to be wrapped in a drawer and ignored. So I will polish them up, wrap them carefully in anti-tarnish cloth, and pack up to give for holiday celebrating – and hope that the pretty things don’t get mangled in a disposal. But if they do, well, my mom did that as well. It’s just stuff, even if it’s shiny.

I’m keeping a few things, though. I just couldn’t part with the silver sifter or the little sterling swords for appetizers or the baby set to give when the next baby is born. But most of it is divided up, hopefully fairly. Next decisions will involve silver and silverplate bowls and platters. I do not need two intricate silver breadtrays, Revere bowls, or the well-and-tree platter. I think the nephews are getting silver for Christmas, too.

Obsessed with Jon and Kate Even Though I Don’t Like Them

Jon and Kate Plus Eight (image from TLC)I have become obsessed with Jon and Kate Plus Eight, and not in a good way.  It’s a show I knew was on TLC but didn’t really watch because, well, watching 8 small children with stressed out parents just isn’t my idea of fun, even if the kids are adorable.  Every once in a while I’d catch a glimpse when nothing else was on or I was waiting for another show that I did watch.  Last weekend there was a marathon of what must have been every show, gearing up the season premier of these wounded, angry, bitter adults with children who need to be enjoying their lives without cameras in their faces every minute.

Every tabloid at the grocery store (which is the only place I see them because they’re not things I seek out) had a picture of Kate on there somewhere, and even papers as reputable as the NY Times have had articles about the show and the unraveling of a family.  There’s even a Gosselins Without Pity blog with armloads of comments from outraged viewers.  The consensus there is that Kate is a witch, Jon is abused but not without responsibility, and the kids need to have the cameras stop now so they don’t have to have wall-to-wall coverage of the dissolution of their family.

I don’t know why this has hooked me.  I don’t have children and don’t want any other than my kitty.  Watching candid reality shows is not on my list of fun things to do.  Watching people of any age or sex be picked on and belittled pushes buttons inside and my heart hurts for them – so it’s not something I voluntarily do.  I don’t have any plans to watch any other episodes of the show (I broke down and watched the premier but it was awful and I don’t want to support the show in any way).  I even wrote to TLC to tell them what I thought, which is something I rarely do.

But yet I do care about the kids and in a train-wreck way, want to know what happens.  I’m not proud of it but will probably do Google searches (or just look at tabloid covers) to keep up with the story.  Let’s hope something more distracting comes along soon.

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In other news, I spent part of the weekend decluttering, inspired by Lori’s success.  I lugged a bag of clothes and some books to Goodwill but this is a particularly congested time there with students moving out of apartments following local college graduations.  I have other things in mind to take down when it’s a bit easier to get a parking space.  I also figured out that the way to get bill paying done more efficiently was to download Quicken to the laptop and move the whole operation to the dining table.  Going to the study to use the old desktop, which is usually turned off, just wasn’t happening.  I’m caught up on reconciling statements and paying bills which isn’t a sexy thing to do but definitely necessary and I like the tidiness of knowing everything is in order.

My parents are coming to visit at the end of June and I’m also debating whether to hire a maid service to do a thorough cleaning.  I hate to clean and somehow need to have things very clean and everything in place when the parents come.  Cat hair will, of course, still adorn everything but perhaps not in a thick layer.  They haven’t met their grandkitty yet so we want the first impressions to be good ones.  Let’s hope she doesn’t hide under the bed the whole time!