Monday, October 17, 2022

I'm walking again!

I'm finally walking again! My feet are healed and I'm out of the wheelchair and walking without crutches!

It is such a blessing. It's been a long ordeal. Thank you to everyone who prayed for me! Sorry I didn't blog through it. Not sure why, maybe a touch of depression and lack of vision--seemed like there was nothing to say accept "I'm still muddling along waiting to heal." It also seemed like things were so undecided and up in the air most weeks that I barely knew what was up myself. 

In case you missed it, in mid July I stepped into a hole unexpectedly and injured my left foot. I wrote about it in my last post. My right foot was slightly sprained at the same time.  

My right ankle healed quickly from that fall but then partway through the recovery of my left foot, in a sort of freak accident I sprained my right foot again. Thankfully both feet are now healed. 

We're still not sure all of the details of the injuries to my left foot. My podiatrist x-rayed it four weeks ago when I was finally able to see him. He said there was a widened area on the fourth metatarsal bone which seemed to indicate a healed fracture. That is consistent with where the initial bruising and worst pain was (and where it still hurts after I've been on my feet for a while). I asked about the 2nd metatarsal. He did not think there was a fracture there. He said the pain in that spot might have been from a strained ligament. (As I mentioned in my previous blog post the radiologist who interpreted the first x-ray said there might have been a fracture on the 2nd metatarsal.) There were also no doubt various other, mostly undiagnosed, soft tissue injuries and strained places. An MRI showed a small healed tear in a tendon. Since it was healed by the time of the MRI the podiatrist said it might have been from some other time. 

The podiatrist ordered therapy to stretch and strengthen everything. So I've been seeing a therapist a couple of times a week and doing therapy on my own twice a day. 

About two weeks ago I started walking with crutches. I tried a cane too but that didn't give enough support. Then last Monday the therapist said I walked better without either one and she wanted me to put more pressure on my left foot so she took me off everything. 

There have been a lot of firsts since then. The first time I stood at the sink to brush and water-pik my teeth was thrilling! By the time I was done though my legs were near collapse. Clearly I will need to pace myself. (Don't worry it wasn't the first time I brushed my teeth! During my recovery I did it at the kitchen table.)

Tomorrow it will be a week since I got off the crutches. I've had a lot of other "firsts" as well. Such as making dinner and driving myself to the therapist appointment. John was particularly thankful for those two.

Here are a few photos from our ordeal:

Our bathroom doorway is too narrow for the regular wheelchair we borrowed. So John rigged up this contraption to get me into the bathroom to take a shower. The first time we used it, it worked flawlessly. The second time, though, was not so good! It collapsed under me. The orange strap must have been a little loose and one of the chair legs came off the platform. In my attempt to keep from falling and to protect my left foot I ended up spraining my right one. I'm glad I wasn't hurt any worse. But coping with two injured feet was definitely a challenge.
After that a friend lent us a "transport chair" that is narrow enough to get through the bathroom doorway. So I was able to have showers without incident. The transport chair only has small wheels though, which meant I was not able to propel it myself so I still needed the regular wheelchair for everything else.

A friend sent me a care package to cheer me up. It included this kit to make these happy little pansies.

Another project I worked on is a scrapbook of my years at university (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo). It's not quite done. I'm hoping to finish it before the holidays.

One of my foot exercises is to pick up small objects with my toes. Here I am picking up a large paperclip. 

We got this "peddler" to use for therapy. We didn't realize we already had one in the attic. John found it later when he was looking for something else. So now we have two.
I suggested we could use them together. It might be fun to sit side by side and peddle together while watching tv! John didn't seem excited though.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Drama a-foot! The left foot that is.

Nearly four weeks ago I fell into a hole and injured my left foot. (five now as it took a while to finish this post)

We were walking in a park near our house one Sunday morning before church. Ironically I was trying to avoid turning my ankle in the many cracks in the ground from all the hot dry weather this summer. John commented on a tree that was growing sideways up ahead. Neither one of us saw the hole. It was so covered over with grass it was not obvious--until I stepped in it! My left foot kept going, groping for solid ground. I lost my balance and sat down with an undignified screech. 

John helped me up and out of the hole where my foot and backside were wedged and to a nearby picnic table. While I checked my foot John investigated the hole. When he reached into it he discovered a cover that should have been over it but was broken and had fallen inside. The hole was a small man-made pit, maybe for irrigation connections. The cover must have been off it for some time for the grass to have grown through and around the hole to obscure it so thoroughly. 

Here it is with the lid John found.
It's more obvious after our adventures with it. 

The sideways tree and me rubbing my foot in the background. The hole in the foreground this time with the lid sticking up to hopefully warn others and help the repairmen find it. (John reported it to the city and they said they fixed it.)

Anyway after checking my foot over and wiggling my toes I thought I could walk home. It started hurting more as I walked but I made it home. Over the next few days I did my best to stay off it and ice and elevate it and all that stuff on-line articles say to do for sprains. 

It seemed to be getting better so I started doing more but it got worse again. So I was careful again for a few more days and then started doing more again. Then it got worse again. I would have seen a doctor sooner but our regular doctor's office was closed for a couple of weeks and one article I read on "Dr. Google" said that a stage-one sprain could take two weeks to heal so I thought I could wait until our doctor's office was open again. ("stage-one" is no swelling or visible bruising.) The symptoms didn't quite fit the description of a "stage one" sprain, though, so that should have given me a clue. There was swelling and bruising but only on the upper left side of my foot, not on the ankle.

Here it is after several days. The swelling had gone down and the bruising was starting to heal. 

Anyway after two and a half weeks I finally saw a doctor. Actually he's a nurse practitioner (NP), but I didn't know that until after I got there and was in the exam room waiting for him. Anyway he was available and my husband has seen him before and thinks well of him. He said there is tissue damage along the three left metatarsals. He ordered x-rays to check for fractures. 

The x-rays showed a "possible nondisplaced fracture along the lateral base of the second metatarsal that is best seen on the oblique radiograph." I'm not an expert but from what the NP said and what Google says: the metatarsals are the long bones on the top of the foot that connect the toe bones to the ankle bones. There are five, one for each toe. The second one corresponds to the toe next to the big toe. A nondisplaced fracture means the two parts of the bone are still in the proper alignment so surgery should not be necessary. The "base" is near the ankle end of the metatarsal. I don't know what "lateral base" means. The NP thought the radiologist said "a possible fracture" because it mainly shows on one of the x-ray views. He said usually a fracture will show on more than one view. 

I got ahold of the x-ray to see for myself what it looks like. I have no training in this so I can't tell what it's supposed to look like or what the radiologist was noticing. There is one place that I wonder if it is the fracture he is referring to (I put a circle around it). If it is a fracture it looks like it was starting to heal. Which it should have since it had been two and a half weeks at that point.

At any rate the NP said to stay off of the foot completely for 2-3 days even if there wasn't a fracture to help the ligaments and tendons heal. He said that if he had seen me right after the injury he would have said to stay completely off it for 5 days but since it had presumably healed a little already he thought that 2-3 days was enough. After that he said I could start putting weight on it "as tolerated." 

When I asked for more clarification He said it might be difficult for an active person but that I need to go easy on it and not do too much. 

I was surprised when he referred to me as an active person and almost said I wasn't. But then I thought, well I did get this injury while out for a walk and I keep reinjuring it because I want to be up doing housework and stuff. From his perspective maybe I am an active person. I tend to think of myself as bordering on lazy. But maybe that's another example of perfectionism (something I am trying to get free from.) 

A friend let us borrow their wheelchair which is a huge help. (I wasn't able to manage with crutches.)

I stayed off it completely for the first few days like he said. Since then I've started putting it on the floor sometimes but it doesn't seem to like it so I'm not doing it much. 

This picture shows how we set up my room to help me cope and not put weight on my foot.  The black question mark shaped bed rail on the side of the mattress was something we got for my Mom when she was living with us several years ago. Its a big help with transferring to and from the bed. We were storing it in the attic all these years--(that and the bedside commode which is also from when my Mom lived here. Our bathroom doors are too narrow for the wheelchair.)  I'm very thankful I did not declutter them! The black boot was from a couple of years ago when my Mom broke her ankle. I've tried several other braces and shoe type things but they don't give enough support.

Last week I asked our Pastor and his assistant from our church to visit and pray for me. I do believe it helped. But it's not all the way healed yet.

John wants me to call the NP and get a referral for an orthopedic doctor. I want to be willing to see another doctor, but I hesitate partly because from what others have said these things take time and partly because I really dislike going to doctors! (It is feeling better this week--I'm writing this over several days. The NP said that since it seems to be improving I can wait a little longer and see how it does before seeing an orthopedic doctor.)

Last night I dreamed I was in the hospital. In the dream--nightmare really--they kept me for several days so they could rack up a huge bill and when my foot still wasn't better they vigorously squeezed and twisted it with some sort of metal hook like thing! Then I woke up. 

I'm glad that didn't happen! I don't think it meant anything. Though the last part might have been triggered by the discomfort of wearing the boot. When I woke up my foot was hurting. I massaged it a little through a gap in the boot which helped.

I don't know why any of this happened, of course. And I very much wish it hadn't! But one good thing is that it’s been a wake up of sorts. It has reminded me that I don’t know what the future holds. I need to make good use of the time and abilities that I have while I have them. If I am ever going to write a book, for example (which I'm thinking about--BTW), then I need to start working on it while I still can. I can still type and I have some of my wits about me. So there’s no excuse. There will never be the “perfect time” to do it. If I keep waiting for that or any other sort of “magical” thing to happen to make me perfectly sure and confident before I start then I’ll never start. 

Waiting for a perfect time to do something (which of course never comes) is one of the traps of perfectionism according to Stephen Guise in his book “How to Be an Imperfectionist.” I started reading that this spring. That resonated at the time but now it feels like it’s being chiseled into my brain. 


It is now several days since I started writing this post and I just want to finish it and post it. I took a couple of days off from everything this week--just laid around and listened to audio books and rested. The soft tissue around the fifth metatarsal is still really painful and it doesn't have much support or protection compared to other parts of my foot so I took the executive decision to stay off it more. I've been told that soft tissue like tendons and ligaments can take as long, or longer, than bone to heal. I really don't want to make things take longer by my impatience and unrealistic expectations. 

There are lots of other things I could write about that have happened since my last blog post. But I need to save them for another time or this will never be done and it will be so long no one will read it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

How does my garden grow - 2.0

It's been a while since I wrote about our new planting bed. Life has been a bit hectic lately so I haven't spent much time enjoying it let alone writing about it. 

This morning I didn't feel like doing any of the things I needed to do so I took a cup of tea outside to our new sitting area. It was still shady and there was a lovely cool breeze. 

Even with the occasional sounds of hammering from workmen rebuilding the burned out house down the street and the rumble of a "souped-up" car in the distance, after a few minutes listening to the birds and feeling the cool breeze I started to relax. A squirrel scampered up my neighbor Bobbie's nearby oak tree and another neighbor from down the street drove by and waved. I started to feel happy.  

The salvia is looking really beautiful

salvia greggii coral

The zexmania flowers are kind of cute though the plant seems a bit sparse. I wonder if it is getting too much shade. I just read that can make it leggy.


Unfortunately after a little while I started to notice problems. 

The "pious" castle artemesia (or is it "powis"?) has nearly buried the gulf coast penstemon on its right. (it's crowding other plants around it too.)

The artemisia is the silvery plant just in front of my feet. The penstemon is just visible between the artemisia and the iris leaves on the right. I had a photo of a penstemon in bloom in a previous post. See below.

gulf coast penstemon in bloom

I also noticed some "volunteer" oak babies (aka weeds).

One of the oak babies in front of another penstemon

It broke off when I tried pulling it so I went and got a tool to dig with. Much to my delight the rest of it came out after a little digging. The other one didn't come out despite digging. But it probably will grow up again and give me another chance!

After that I started noticing other weeds. Most of them came out whole. I love it when that happens! It's one of the beauties of pulling weeds when they are small.(And having well tilled soil--thanks, John!)

I'll try to get to pruning--the artemisia and a few other things--in the near future and let you know how it goes. 


To see the first "How does my garden grow" for comparison go here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Wildflower birthday part 3

My focus these last few posts has been on wildflowers we saw on my birthday but we saw other pretty things, too. Mesquite trees are one of my favorite trees. Their bright fernlike leaves look delicate but they must be tough to survive our harsh hot climate and inhospitable rock and clay soil. 

It was one of those rare sunny, but cool days. Though I did start to appreciate the shade as the morning advanced.

A nice view of Joe Pool lake about halfway along the Talala trail.
This cardinal sang happy birthday to me ;-) ...
Well, anyway, it did sing for a long time while we watched and admired. It might have been warning all the surrounding birds to watch out for us. But since we don't speak bird-ish we just listened and enjoyed.

And yes there were more wildflowers! 

An Indian blanket

This seemingly simple little flower is more interesting up close--as the next picture shows.

I think these are violet trout lilies. 

Later that evening, we got fajitas for dinner at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, Plato Loco, and then went to watch the sunset over the lake. Afterward we had brownies and "ice-cream" (I had dairy free sorbet) back in the RV and watched "The Beverley Hill Billie's" (dvds of the old tv show.) 

If you know the names of any of the wildflowers I have photos of here or in any of my posts please leave a comment and let me know!

Follow these links for the first two Wildflower birthday posts:

Friday, May 13, 2022

Wildflower birthday - part 2

As I wrote in yesterday's post we went camping at Cedar Hill State Park over my birthday. 

The trail we hiked on my birthday is called the Talala trail. It's rated moderately difficult and is 2.3 miles. The trail guide says it takes two hours. But it took us a lot longer. And we didn't even do the whole 2.3 miles. There were so many wildflowers I could hardly walk a meter without stopping to take pictures. What I lacked in steps, I made up for in squats!

I noticed that a majority of the wildflowers seemed to be either yellow or purple.  Even our iconic Texas blue bonnet has a hint of purple in it so it seemed to fit. There were a few others too. 

There were so many wildflowers that I thought I would post photos of them in small batches. (See yesterday's post for the first part.)

Stay tuned for the next collection.

Please let me know in the comments if you prefer these short posts with small numbers of photos or if you like my usual longer posts with more photos.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Wildflower birthday - part 1

For my birthday this year we went camping at nearby Cedar Hill State Park. It was a delightful week. The weather was mostly very cooperative. There was one night when it rained hard and we had to wait a day or two until the trails were open again. 

But we had perfect hiking weather for my birthday. We didn't actually walk very far though because it was also great wildflower photographing weather. 

I was planning to write a thoroughly detailed post but after going through my photos this morning I thought I would share them in batches. 

Texas bluebonnet. State flower.

I got to see two of my favorite things: lady bugs and later on in the walk a male cardinal (picture to come). It felt like little extra birthday gifts.

Stay tuned for the next batch of birthday wildflowers.

Friday, May 6, 2022

New roof

Another big-ish thing that happened this Spring is that we got a new roof. We weren't planning to and didn't even know we needed to until a few days before we did. 

A couple of months ago someone came around after a mild hail storm and offered to look at our roof. Our roof was rated "class 4 impact resistant." But even if it hadn't been that hail storm was so slight it didn't seem worth worrying about. We also have a roofer friend whom we trust so we were not planning to use some random stranger who was canvassing the neighborhood looking for roofing business. We told them that (not in those words of course) but they still wanted to look at it. So we let them. 

They said the roof had some "delamination" and algae and I think something else that I can't remember and that we should have our roofer friend look at it. We said we would. I looked up delamination and it didn't seem very worrying, but I wrote John a note and put it at his place at the table to remind him to call Larry*, our roofer friend. The note sat there for a while... and then sat there some more. It turns out that it is probably a good thing we waited as long as we did. But more on that.

Then early last week John said that Larry was coming that day to look at our roof. John didn't think there was anything really wrong with it but he has been thinking about putting solar panels on the roof and he wanted to make sure it was in good enough condition before we did that. We wouldn't want to have to replace the roof soon after installing solar panels! 

It was a bit of a shock when Larry discovered that not only was it not in good enough condition to put solar panels on, but that it really needed to be replaced right away whether we put solar panels on it or not! 

It had several problems. The worst and most surprising problem was water damage and rot in some of the decking. (In case you're not familiar with the term "decking," it is the layer of wood that the shingles are nailed to.) Apparently when John and another friend, not a roofer, installed it over 20 years ago they didn't put "starters" around the edges. That allowed water to seep under the shingles around the edges. There were only a few place where that happened but any amount of water damage and rot in a roof is too much. There were several other problems that were less surprising given its age and our climate--heat stress, blistering, cracking, delamination, degranulation. 

Larry said they could come that Saturday. They worked amazingly fast.

They started early and were on the roof before I woke up just after 7:00, which is when I woke up!

Tear off phase. You can see the old white shingles in the bottom left photo.
Larry sent us these and most of the following photos. 

From inside--Stuff was raining down. I definitely wasn't going to go outside at that point! Notice the shadow of one of the workers on the side of the RV. 

Repairing one of the areas of water damage and rot.

They discovered a lot of ants there after they removed the damaged wood. The white powder is ant poison. We hoped it would be the end of the ant problems in the kitchen which is just below here.
But, alas, it wasn't. 

We actually have two layers of decking on our roof. When John and the other friend replaced the roof 20 years ago the special impact resistant roof needed a thicker layer than was on it. So they added a second layer on top of the original decking. The water damage was mostly on the top layer. I say mostly. Apparently it was starting to affect a little of the bottom layer in one place but Larry thought it wasn't bad enough to replace the bottom layer. 

The three places where they replaced the damaged decking.

They completed the tear off phase and were starting to get really noisy by the time we left for our church's weekly prayer meeting at 10:00 a.m. I was starting to feel a little loopy from the racket above our heads so was happy to get away!

As we were leaving.

We took a picnic lunch and intended to have a day out.

New shingles going on.

Larry also cleaned out as much lint from our dryer vent stack as he could reach when he replaced the pipe vent covers. He suggested I have someone come out soon to clean out the whole thing. I had been meaning to do that for a while but kept putting it off. So I took his suggestion and it has helped our clothes dryer work much better!

Installing new ridge vent cover

After prayer time, John dropped me off at for a bit of clothes shopping while he went swimming. Then he returned to the store to pick me up and did a little shopping himself. Then we found a park and had our lunch.

After lunch we went back home to get some things, thinking that we would have a few more hours to kill before they finished the roof. But they were already finished and cleaning up when we got back.  

John went up on the roof to look at it while Larry was still here.

See top of this photo for name of roof we got, if you're interested.
But this is not intended to be an advertisement!

The weather was heating up by the time they were done. John apologized that they had to work in such weather, but Larry said it was good roofing weather. 

Later I was reading the warranty from the manufacturer of our new shingles and I noticed that they need several days of strong sun and heat for the shingles to cure enough to really be as wind resistant as they are meant to be. We have had some unusually high winds this spring and quite a lot of cold weather too. So if we had replaced it a couple of months ago it likely would not have cured before the wind storms and might have been damaged. (A neighbor a couple of houses down did have wind damage to his roof from recent winds.) This new roof's warranty does not cover wind damage if the roof has not had a chance to cure properly due to weather or too much shade. So it is a good thing we waited after that other roofing company came around a couple of months ago.

* Larry Martin with Shalom Roofing