Wild, Wacky, Weather Award

Wow. Michigan gets some crazy weather at times, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a weekend with such wild, wacky weather like this one! With rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow, I think Michigan is deserving of a major Award.

Yesterday morning I woke to snow. It snowed and snowed all day. This morning I woke to freezing rain/sleet. It has freezing rained and sleeted all day.

The Sheriff Departments in the region are warning people not to travel unless they absolutely have to and a local County Road Commission posted on FB:

Today brings an interesting mix of winter weather – rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow. We are running everything that has drifted. If a road is passable and protected from drifting, we will skip it till tomorrow. Here is the problem….freezing rain on a nicely plowed road could end up being much slipperier than with snow on it. Biggest problem right now is wind and drifting. This weather is forecast to continue through the night. Night shift is still working, concentrating on state highways and main county roads.

One county emergency department that is known for its sense of humor, posted on their FB page:

There are a lot of people asking how the roads are, And here is the update. If your road ends in the following, it’s bad:
Rd.   
St.
Ave.
Pkwy
Blvd
Pvt
Way
Rdg
Hwy
Pl
Ln
Dr
Ct
Trail
Circle
Trace
Terrace
Commons
Center
Run
Row
Bluff
Hills
Pass
North/South/East/West

Our power went out at about 2 a.m. last night. EJ got out of bed and turned our propane heater back on so we stayed as snug as a bug in a rug. The power was restored about 8 a.m. this morning–and shortly after that we got our Internet connection back. The most difficult thing about having no power first thing in the morning is not being able to make coffee or take a shower. So as soon as the power came back on, I quickly made the coffee and took a shower, and then began a load of laundry–trying to get all the things done that require electricity, just in case. With all this freezing rain, we are aware that we could lose our power again at any time. We feel thankful that we only lost our power for a few hours–not days or weeks.

EJ snowblowing.

EJ went out this afternoon and snow-blowed some of the driveway. It was a miserable job because of the rain/sleet and the wet heavy snow on the ground. It really hurt his back. Poor guy. Usually I would have taken my turn with the snow-blower, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage it this time.

EJ read that people are reporting seeing bears on the move, which means they are waking from hibernation. Normally we would put away the bird feeders at this time so they don’t attract the very hungry bears, but EJ also read that the birds are struggling during this weekend’s storm, so we are risking the bears and keeping the feeders filled. The birds are enjoying it…and the deer.

The deer looked rather wet and miserable. I saw one little deer with icicles hanging from its mouth. Poor thing.

Hannah

This post took a long time to write because Hannah Joy (aka Hannah Banana) wanted me to play with her NOW, and then she wanted to go outside NOW. I tried to ignore her but she pokes her head around my laptop. If I ignore her, she touches the screen with her nose. My laptop has a touch screen so when her nose touches the screen, my work is messed up. When I finally gave up and walked with her to the door, I told her that, unlike her, Danny was a polite and patient dog. Hannah didn’t care. She is so irrepressible. We do love her!

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In The Midst of the Storm

Beautiful snow-covered world.

I slept in late this morning, and while I slept EJ did most of my morning chores for me, which I thought was incredibly kind.

I opened my eyes to a beautiful snow-covered world. I also woke up to no Internet. A couple hours later we lost our power. EJ hooked up our little propane heater, and we were toasty warm all day.

Cozy, quiet, and peaceful

We felt totally cut off from civilization. We read, napped, and watched the weather outside the window, feeling very cozy. It was very quiet and peaceful. At some point in the night we had had freezing rain, but it snowed through the day. There was a gusty wind that swayed the trees and blew the snow around.

Wild birds feasted at our feeders, and I saw a line of turkeys walk through the yard. EJ said he saw a deer at the feeder early this morning.

In the afternoon, EJ turned on his battery-powered radio so we could hear weather reports and see if the world had ended while we were peacefully disconnected. The DJ was not panicky, so the world was still out there.

About 5 p.m. I was surprised when our power suddenly came back on. I had expected it to be out for several days. I was also surprised that we got an Internet connection. Our Internet is sort of weird because there is a line of about five littletowers privately owned by individuals that are between us and our provider. Our neighbor across the street is one of those individuals. If one of those towers goes out, we lose our connection.

When I took Hannah out, I measured the snow on the patio table with a ruler. We have about 9 inches of snow. Other areas have a lot more. Here are a couple videos I took of the storm outside the window:

We are expecting another wave of the storm to hit tonight and continue through tomorrow. The National Weather Service says:

Another round of heavy, wintry precipitation will overspread northern Michigan from SW to NE late tonight into Sunday morning, continuing through the day. This will include more of a mix of freezing rain, sleet, and snow across northern Lower and mainly snow across eastern Upper. Significant accumulations of heavy/wet snow expected across eastern Upper and significant accumulations of ice expected south of M-72. Travel will become very hazardous, and additional power outages are likely.

I quickly wrote this post in case we lose our internet and/or power again. 

Mixed-up Storm

Two days after her after her spay/hernia surgery, Hannah Joy was acting like her normal self. The vet said we have to try to keep her from running or jumping for ten days while her incision heals, which isn’t easy because she is exuberant and irrepressible. I pretend to complain that it’s a bit unfair that my dog is back to normal within a couple days of her surgery while I’m still dealing with recovery more than two months after my hand surgery. Of course, in reality I’m glad that Hannah-Banana is doing so well.

JJ dropped by yesterday to pick up some more of his possessions. When JJ saw Hannah, he asked, “Why is she wearing a t-shirt?” I told him it was because Hannah was our daughter. He said, “Ok, really, why is she wearing a shirt?” I replied that the vet had told us that if Hannah starts to lick her incision–which she is doing–we can put an old t-shirt on her to prevent it. She looks rather cute in it. EJ put his hat on her for a photo. However, I had to take the shirt off her today when she began to eat it.

I faithfully do my four pages of hand exercises four times a day. It sometimes feels as if the majority of my day is spent on the exercises, but I work hard at them because I want to restore mobility in my hand. In some ways it feels as if progress is slow. My hand still feels a bit sore, swollen, and uncomfortable, and it stiffens between sessions of exercises. However, I notice my hand feeling stronger and I am able to do more tasks with less awkwardness, so I’m getting there. Slowly. Not quickly like Hannah.

I am thinking of buying another shelf like this for the closet.

Today I organized the library, which had gotten a bit messy while I was dealing with my injury. It looks really nice and organized now, which lifts my spirits. I’m thinking about buying another shelf to put in the closet to further organize it. I already have one shelf that holds my yarn.

I drove the Xterra to the grocery store this morning to pick up a couple items. JJ had been driving our Xterra for several years to go to school and work. If I wanted to go anywhere, I had to wait until JJ was home, which was seldom. Most of the time I planned errands so EJ and I could go together in the Suburban. After JJ moved out, we fixed the fuel line on the HHR and gave it to him, which means that we have the Xterra back in our “stable.” I’m so enjoying the freedom of having transportation whenever I want it.

A major winter storm began moving into Michigan this afternoon. The storm is supposed to last through the weekend. I’ve heard we could get quite a bit of snow, or maybe freezing rain and ice, and wind. Earlier today I saw rain, snow, sleet, and graupel, and I’ve heard a few rumbles of thunder. At one point I saw it snowing hard while also hearing the tap-tap-tapping sound of rain on the roof, which was really weird. The National Weather Service for our area says that the winds and heavy snow will likely cause power outages. I’ve heard that roads could become hazardous or impossible to travel on.

It sounds as if mid-Michigan will get a lot of freezing rain and ice. I think the dividing line between snow and ice is quite close to us here in the north. I’m really hoping that we get more snow than ice because ice is much more dangerous.

When we took Hannah outside for the last time tonight, it was snowing. Now I hear rain tapping on the roof again. Yuck.

EJ and I are just going to hunker down this weekend. We have a propane heater handy in case we lose our power. We will stay warm, and we can cook our food on a camp stove. We have flashlights, lanterns, and candles for light. I hate losing power but, meh, we will do ok. We won’t be able to connect to the Internet, but we have hundreds of books in our library.

This winter sure has been wild with numerous thaws and snows.

Appointments

We had a very busy weekend.

On Saturday we met a friend at a town that was between our house and his, although he had a longer drive then we did. He chose that particular town to meet because he wanted to go to the new sporting goods store.The guys browsed through the store looking at “guy stuff” while I trailed behind, and then we went to a restaurant. After our meal, we said our goodbyes and EJ and I stopped at Lowes to buy some new locks for our doors.

EJ had wanted to change the locks on the doors since we moved into our house almost 3 years ago. We had never been given keys to the outside door in our living room and we felt it was time we did. We wanted all the doors to use the same key for convenience sake, so we just bought all new locks. The new locks are much better than the old ones. EJ spent Sunday putting them in. He got all the locks in; he just needs to put in another deadbolt or two.

EJ took Monday off work as a vacation day because we had a lot that needed to get done. First on our To-Do List was dropping Hannah off at the vet shortly after 8 a.m. to be spayed. She also had a hernia that needed surgery. The vet did both at the same time.

A few hours later, EJ drove me to my appointment with my hand surgeon. I always have x-rays done at the beginning of each appointment so the doctor can see how my hand is healing. She said my hand looks really good, and that I will not need to return unless I feel I am having problems. She let me take photos of my x-rays. You can clearly see the metal plate in my wrist. It’s kind of gross, but also rather interesting.

I told the doctor that my hand still feels swollen and stiff and I asked how long it would take for it to get back to normal. She explained that there actually is only a tiny bit of swelling but because the fingers are small, the swelling feels much more noticeable. If there was this much swelling elsewhere in the body, she said, a person wouldn’t even notice it. It can take months for the hand to completely heal. Typically it takes twice as long to regain strength in the hand as it was supported in the cast/splint, which means that if my hand was in a cast/splint for two months, it would take an additional four months to regain strength. Sometimes it can take as much as a year. Bummer. A split second fall has had long-term effects.

The doctor had me bend my wrist/fingers and said that if I had a good home exercise program worked out, I wouldn’t need to have more therapy. She said that since I had a therapy session scheduled after my appointment with her, I could keep it just to get the last bit of benefit from it.

My hand therapist did an assessment to see how my hand was doing. I had worked hard on my wrist exercises, but did not “wow” her as much as I had hoped. Since I have trouble turning keys and door knobs and I struggle to cut my food, she added more exercises to my home workout. She gave me a rectangular piece of foam to pinch and squeeze to strengthen my grip. I also have to hold a hammer as I slowly turn my hand palm up and palm down. Finally, I have to do a couple exercises with a one pound weight. She said I could use a 16 oz water bottle (filled) for the one pound weight, but I find the shape difficult to hold so I ordered a cheap weight on Amazon. It will be here Wednesday, which is sooner than I would be able to get to a store to buy one.

The doctor told me that there are no longer any restrictions on what I can do with my hand, as long as I can comfortably manage it. My therapist said to make sure I don’t do anything that could harm me: For example, don’t try to carry a pan of hot water with my injured hand or climb a ladder because I might get hurt if my hand suddenly gives out.

My therapist said that if in 2-3 weeks I felt I wasn’t making progress or if I just wanted her to assess how I was doing, I could call her and she would get me back in. It is frustrating that it takes so long to get mobility back into my hand. Most of my day is spent doing hand exercises.

After my therapy session, we zoomed back to pick up Hannah from the vet. The hand doctor/therapy office is about 40 minutes from home and the vet is 20 minutes from home in the other direction. As we drove along, I saw a truck with my initials. I told EJ, “I bet you didn’t know that I owned a trucking business.”

Hannah’s surgery went well, but she looks and acts very subdued and not like herself at all. She didn’t even want to eat last night, which is unheard of. She vomited in the night; I got up and cleaned it up. Hannah is quite talkative and this morning she growled softly with pain until I gave her her pain medication. She slowly ate a few kibbles, but didn’t empty her bowl until a few hours later. She’s guarded her bowl until it was empty, growling if the cats even looked at it. I moved it near my chair so she could lay at my feet and guard it. Poor dear.

Lovely Winter This Spring

“What a lovely Winter we are having this Spring!” (Facebook)

After two days of heavy snow, yesterday was clear. However, today it’s back to snow again. EJ says it’s supposed to snow all weekend. Although this year I’m ready for Winter to leave and Spring take it’s place, I’m still awed by the beauty of a snow-covered landscape. It’s breathtakingly beautiful.

I had put away the birdfeeder so it wouldn’t attract hungry bears awakened by the warmer temperatures. However, with the snow’s return I got the birdfeeder back out again and filled it with seed. The birds are happy to be able to feast again. Among others, we had a couple mourning doves visit, and I also noticed that the finches are putting on their pretty summer finery.

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The deer are also returning to the birdfeeder. As I videoed this deer, she began stomping her foot in warning. EJ and I wondered what creature she was warning away, then we saw Miss Madeline Meadows, our sweet serial killer cat, and figured she must have been the culprit. Madeline didn’t seem at all concerned about the stomping deer.

Yesterday EJ stopped at the auto shop on his way home from work to pay for the repairs on the HHR. Thankfully it was not a huge amount. We were originally going to “sell” the HHR to JJ for the cost of repairs and we were going to buy new tires for it as a gift. But since we had to pay for the HHR when we picked it up,  we told JJ we would pay for repairs and he was responsible for the tires.

We had planned to bring the HHR home, filled it with the remainder of JJ’s possessions, and then let him come and get it. However, we weren’t sure the HHR would be able to make it up the driveway with all the recent snow. So instead, after a quick supper, we drove to the repair shop, left the Suburban in the parking lot, and drove the HHR to JJ’s apartment. We gave JJ the HHR and took back the Xterra, which we drove back to the repair shop where EJ retrieved the Suburban. He drove the Suburban home while I drove the Xterra.

This is the first time since we’ve moved north that I’ve had a vehicle available for my use–we were letting JJ borrow the Xterra to drive to work and school and I had to fit in my errands during the few moments when he wasn’t driving it. JJ wasn’t good at maintaining the vehicle (he wasn’t interested in learning) so EJ has to do a little work on the Xterra, but I’m thrilled to have it back. I have a terrible, terrible sense of direction–I can get lost anywhere–so in celebration of the return of the Xterra, I bought myself a GPS from Amazon so we have one in both the Suburban and the Xterra. Directions such as “north” or “west” mean nothing to me, and the most helpful directions are those that give me landmarks such as “turn at the McDonald’s restaurant” so imagine my delight when I found a GPS that says that it “Guides like a friend, using recognizable landmarks, buildings and traffic lights.” Absolutely perfect for me! We named the GPS in the Suburban “Viki” after the computer in I, Robot. I will have to choose a friendly name for my GPS. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

The snowstorm on Tuesday/Wednesday whipped up the waves of the Bay and they coated and transformed the vegetation along the shore into beautiful ice sculptures. They were especially beautiful with the sun shining on them. When I saw them as we drove by on the way to JJ’s apartment, I exclaimed in wonder and reached for my camera. But I had forgotten it at home.

On the way home from JJ’s, we saw a bald eagle soaring near the bay, which is always very thrilling. Again, I had no camera. Most of the time I remember to take my camera. The few times I forget to take it are the times I see the most awesome things.

We were almost home when a deer ran out right in front of me. I slammed on the breaks and missed it. Whew. I would have felt bad if I had injured one of “our” deer, and it would not be good to finally have the Xterra to drive and then damage it in an accident.

Oh, Spring, Where Art Thou?

I rode into work with EJ this morning so I could have the suburban to drive myself to physical therapy later in the afternoon. I was a bit stressed because I haven’t yet regained confidence in being able to drive after fracturing my hand. My stress level wasn’t helped by the forecast, which warned that we will get 12-18 inches of snow through tomorrow. Worse yet, there is/will be periods of rain mixed in which will no doubt freeze into ice. Oh, Spring, where art thou?

On the way to EJ’s company this morning, just on the other side of the town nearest us, we passed many emergency vehicles at the site of an upside-down car in the ditch. That didn’t relieve my concerns about driving. However, EJ was dropped successful off at work, and I made it home safely with no problems.

An hour before I was going to leave for my occupational therapy session, I inexplicably felt that I should check my therapy schedule and I discovered that last Thursday, the day I had to cancel because I couldn’t get the suburban started, had been my last. I was so bummed! I felt as if I wasn’t yet ready to be finished with therapy, and that I had missed out on the benefits of one last session, as well as any last instructions.

I called the office to make sure I wasn’t expected today or that I wasn’t supposed to schedule more sessions. The receptionist did scheduled a session for next Monday after my appointment with the hand surgeon (it’s in the same office) in case the doctor wants me to have more. She said I can cancel if the doctor says that I don’t need more.

So….I wouldn’t have had to drive EJ to work this morning, but since I did, I had to go pick him up. We had had some rainy snow during the afternoon, but the roads weren’t bad. However, after I arrived at EJ company, it started to snow really hard. I had about a 30 minutes to wait for EJ’s shift to end. I spent the tie reading a book, watching the snow, and mesmerized by the snow sliding down the windshield like a wintry Tetris game. It doesn’t take much to entertain me.

Although I was bummed about the ending of therapy, I am a bit relieved that I don’t have to make any more trips to the city this week, with the snow and all. And although I was like, ugh, I wouldn’t have even had to attempt to drive in the snowstorm today, I enjoyed riding along with EJ, and I loved seeing the bay. Today the bay was shrouded in a fog of falling snow so we couldn’t even see the other side, and the blue-gray water was churning. I took this video as EJ drove us home:

After we arrived home, EJ drove the HHR to a nearby auto shop for repairs so we can give it to JJ. I followed in the suburban him to take him home after he dropped the car off.

Although I kept misquoting to myself “Oh, Spring, Where Art Thou!” whenever I saw the snowy landscape, in reality it was very beautiful. I’m not sure there is anything more beautiful than a snow-covered world. Here is a video and some photos of the view outside our house:

Last Week

Last week was very difficult, but I am not free to write about most of it. I would appreciate prayers as we deal with difficult situations.

Scar Strip

A few weeks ago Kate, my occupational therapist, mentioned that she loved classic jelly beans, so I finally got to the store and bought her a bag which I gave her at the beginning of my session with her on Tuesday. I told her that I was planning to buy her jelly beans ever since she told me she loved them, and she was not to consider them a bribe because my hand had felt especially sore so I didn’t do very well with exercises at home. I told her that I thought she should probably give me five demerits. Although I hadn’t gained much on some of my hand/wrist movements, I had made so much improvement with turning my hand palm up that she was thrilled and gave me a sticker at the end of the session. She also gave me something that looks like a piece of very heavy sticky tape to put over my scar to soften and reduce the scar. It’s reusable so I put it on at night and take it off during the day. I think she called it a “scar strip.” I didn’t know what it is or why it worked so I looked it up on the Internet. You can read about it here. I think it’s rather amazing. My scar is looking better already.

Using the table to help me bend my wrist.

I’ve had problems doing the hand exercises that require me to bend my wrist. Tuesday my therapist suggested that I “let gravity help” me by putting my arm on the table with my hand hanging off it and then pushing it downwards. I tried that and it is working much better for me. I’m working hard on the exercises and I’m hoping that when I see her tomorrow, she will be impressed with what I’ve gained.

Tuesday JJ was in a foul mood and complained so much about driving me to my hand therapist that I told him that from now on I will take myself. Driving myself involves me riding into work with EJ in the morning so I can drive the vehicle back home. Later in the afternoon, I drive myself to my therapist and pick up EJ at work afterwards. From there he drives us home. I was anxious about it because I was not sure how well I could drive with my limited mobility hand, especially in heavy traffic. Also, I wasn’t quite sure I could find my way from the therapist to EJ’s work with my very poor sense of direction. We have GPS  and I could find my way once I was on a familiar street, but I had to ignore the GPS for the first bit because it doesn’t take into account that turning left onto a very busy street–with no stoplight–is difficult most of the time and impossible during heavy rush hour traffic. So I studied the route and figured out that I would need to turn right, right, and right and then turn left at a corner with a stoplight and then our GPS and I would be in agreement and I would be ok for the rest of the way.

I made it home from EJ’s work on Thursday morning. I thought driving would be difficult, but actually the most difficult part was being able to adjust the seat and open/close the door with my injured left hand. Later in the afternoon I got in the suburban to drive myself to therapy, I put the key in the ignition and turned it….and nothing. It wouldn’t start. It didn’t even try. I had to cancel therapy and I couldn’t pick EJ up at work which means he was stuck there. Fortunately, he was able to get a ride home from a co-worker who lives nearby, but he had to leave an hour early. I don’t drive the Suburban much and I didn’t know that, unlike most vehicles, it was possible to take the key out of the ignition without the sub being totally turned off so the battery got drained. Hopefully, I will be able to make it to therapy from now on.

Early Thursday morning when I went out to let the ducks and chickens out of the coop, I discovered that Esther had died. Her death wasn’t really a shock because she was an old crippled duck. However, it was rather sad.  EJ took care of her body before we drove to his company.

Hopeful of Spring, EJ and I put the patio table and chairs on the deck a week ago. Then we got a couple inches of snow this Saturday. I glowered at it as it came down because Winter seems to be hanging on for forever this year. But I’m thankful that we didn’t get as much snow as the Upper Peninsula. Some places there were getting an inch snow every 20 minutes! The snow is mostly gone again but there are some very icy patches.

Passover

Friday EJ and I celebrated Passover together. We celebrate as believers in the Messiah as our Passover lamb. (You can read about it here.) We love the Biblical holidays because they have deep meaning and involve all the senses. Hannah loves participating in all our activities and she insisted on joining us. I gave her a couple special treats when we ate our Matzah.

Hannah Joy in her new harness.

We tried to take Hannah for a drive to a lake last weekend but she wouldn’t settled down and kept trying to get into the front seat. It was so distracting and stressful that we ended up aborting the trip. After we returned home, I found Hannah a harness on Amazon that buckles into the seatbelt so she is restrained. We took her for a drive to the auto shop on and it worked wonderfully. I expect we will have fun adventures with her this summer.

Michigan Lighthouses and Texan shells.

We have two bathrooms in our house–one through the master bedroom and one opening into the living room, which is our guest bathroom. The guest bathroom is next to JJ’s old bedroom so when he lived here, it was mostly “his.” It was always cluttered with his personal grooming stuff, so I wasn’t really motivated or inspired to try to decorate it. However, after JJ moved out and I was able to tidy everything, inspiration hit. EJ has been collecting little lighthouses from Goodwill. He has bought only the replicas of Michigan lighthouses, some of which we have visited. EJ hung a shelf for me and we put the lighthouses on it. We would eventually like to paint the shelf white to match the trim or, better yet, build a shelf that is the same style as the bathroom. However, this shelf is good enough for now. I also arranged the shells and corals that my friend in Texas found along the beach and sent to me as a gift.

When EJ and I bought our first house, two of my co-workers gave us an original signed drawing of the Little Sable Point Lighthouse, which is located in northwest lower Michigan. It’s been hanging in our living room, but I moved it into the bathroom. While I was arranging everything, I noticed that one of the lighthouse replicas was the same as the lighthouse in the drawing. I thought that was really cool.

Therapy Musings

Emerald green water

Yesterday I had physical therapy again. I really love the journey there, which follows the Bay for a while. I know, I know, I’ve written frequently that the color of the water changes often, defending on the season, weather, time of day, etc., but I’m so awed by the water which lately has been a very beautiful emerald green. Every time we drive along the Bay, I take photos. I can’t help it; it is just so beautiful. I still can’t seem to capture the true emerald-green beauty. The photo at the right is probably the best I’ve gotten so far, but even that doesn’t capture the beautiful color.  You can’t see it in this photo, but there is still a lot of ice covering the Bay even though there’s not much snow on the ground.

I remembered to take a photo of my physical therapy room yesterday. In the background, my therapist is working with a guy while I’m sitting at a small table with my hand/arm wrapped in warm towels for 15 minutes to warm up the ligaments before I go to the table for my session with her. JJ thought I was taking a photo of him so he pretended to frown, but I said, “No, I’m trying to take a photo of the towels–and the room.”

Ai yi yi, Katy, my therapist, really stretches my fingers and wrist! Although I do my best at home, Katy is able to massage, stretch, and bend my hand/wrist way past what I am able to do on my own. She works my hand into discomfort–and a bit beyond–until I gasp. By the end of the session, there usually is improvement in my movements. For one thing, Katy doesn’t stop until there IS improvement. Tuesday she told me that I couldn’t leave until I was able to bend my wrist to a certain degree. I said, “Great! I’m NEVER going to be able to leave here.” But I succeeded in bending my wrist to her satisfaction. Whew! I usually exercise my hand twice at home before going to therapy, but not afterwards because my hand is too sore.

Whether at therapy or at home, I’m able to gain more mobility after exercising than before. However, between exercises, my hand stiffens up again and I lose some progress. I’m surprised that my hand is still swollen almost two months after the surgery. Sometimes it seems as if I’m making very little progress at all. It feels like two steps forward and one-and-a-half steps back. It’s very frustrating. I try to remind myself that I can move my fingers much better than I could at first.

A few sessions ago, I heard a therapist–not mine–telling another patient that when he had surgery and while his hand was in the cast, his brain learned that his hand was injured so it compensated by not working the injured hand (or something like that). So now he has to teach his brain to remember to make his hand work. That is one of the purposes of the exercises, she said–to make the brain remember how to move the hand. I don’t know if that is true of every patient or just true of that particular patient and his specific injuries, but I’m assuming it’s true of everyone. I thought that was interesting.

Hearing about how the brain changes how the body functions because of physical injuries made think of the emotional injuries caused by abuse. I recently read an article called  Why Does The Pain Linger? The Aftermath Of Loving Psychopaths And Sociopaths. Narcissistic abuse is in the same category and is mentioned in the article. The article is about intimate partner abuse, but I think it’s true of any sort of abusive relationship.  The article stated:

***

A person’s psychological well-being and physical health can be on the line because of exposure to harsh behaviors and mind games.

Our brain responds to how we are treated.

  • If treated well and surrounded by safe, kind people, it functions optimally.
  • If treated harshly, our stress systems spring into action and the resulting neurochemistry will change how it functions. 

Two of our stress systems, the Locus Coeruleus Norepinephrine System (LC-NE) and the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal System (CRF-HPA) can really take a pounding in relationships that involve intimate partner (emotional or physical) abuse.

When these systems are activated repeatedly or if the incident is severe enough, just once, the impact on a person’s mental health can be tremendous.

There are some individuals who have been exposed to manipulation, betrayal and abuse for such an extended period (chronic) that they develop heart, immune, pain or fatigue disorders.

…Psychopathic or narcissistic abuse often brings unbearable pain that can change a person’s mental and cognitive (thinking) status.

This pain could potentially lead to trauma-related conditions such as

  • depression
  • severe anxiety
  • post traumatic stress disorder
  • complex post traumatic stress disorder.

Aside from the potential life threatening encounters for those who are physically abused, individuals exposed to emotional abuse are also under dire circumstances.

The pain lingers after psychopathic love relationships because the brain was exposed to abnormal conditions.

We are not ‘made’ to be treated harshly and as a living being we change in response to that mistreatment (e.g., might develop anxiety, insecurity, depression, PTSD). This is true of people and many animals.

Our brain circuitry and chemistry respond to the people in our lives. It attempts to adapt and normalize our experiences. 

Although neuroplasticity is a necessary process for our brain, when it has to adapt to a life of deception, conning, aggression, and inconsistent behavior there will be consequences.

Adapting to the pathology of another can lead to decompensation in the mental and physical health of the non-disordered person.

Paying attention to the type of people we allow in our lives is vital. Others can significantly impact our neurobiology. This could forever alter how we feel and think.

***

I was thinking that in many ways physical injuries and emotional injuries are very similar. In both cases, the brain compensates for the injury. In both cases, the brain has to be retaught to gain normalcy. Just as a person with a physical injury has to keep exercising to train the hand to move, so an abuse survivors has to work hard to override the lies with the truth. In both cases, progress seems to be painful and slow and frustrating, with two steps forward and one-and-a-half steps back. My hand surgeon told me that while a person can regain mobility after an injury, often full mobility is not regained–with some injuries more mobility is regained and with others less.

I hate it, by the way, when people tell people that they are sinning or lack faith because they struggle to overcome the damage of abuse. That’s like telling a person that he is sinning because his injured hand isn’t working right. I’m working VERY, VERY HARD to recover from the damage of a fractured wrist. Survivors also work VERY, VERY HARD to overcome the terrible damage done to them by abusers.  It isn’t the fault of victims that they were abused, anymore than it was my fault that I fell on ice hidden by a layer of snow. It takes great strength, courage, and faith to work to overcome both physical and emotional injuries.

Recovery from both physical and emotional injuries can take a long, long time. Because toxic people can cause so much damage, I’ve learned to become as careful about who I allow in my life as I have become about walking on snow/ice.

After yesterday’s therapy session, JJ and I met EJ at Culvers to celebrate JJ’s birthday. Actually, EJ’s birthday is next Tuesday so we sort of celebrated his as well. Our favorite Culver’s is across the street from the Bay so we always have a beautiful view while we eat.

When we arrived home, we picked up pieces of items Hannah had chewed up while we were gone. We try to put away anything she could possibly get into, but she is good at finding new things. Among other things, she chewed up one of EJ’s magazines and the sympathy card the vet had sent when Danny died. Sigh.

5 Stickers On My Shirt

EJ and I enjoyed a quiet weekend. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we watched Darby O’Gill and the Little People at Amazon video.  When I was a child, it was our tradition to watch it when it aired on TV every March 17, and when JJ was younger I used to sometimes rent the DVD from the library, but we haven’t watch it for quite a few years so I figured we were due to watch it again.

I have a lot of Irish in me from both my parents. In fact, my ancestry is mostly Irish with a dash of “Pennsylvania Dutch.” (Pennsylvania Dutch are the German-speaking inhabitants of Pennsylvania, descendants of 17th- and 18th-century Protestant immigrants from the Rhineland.) I love my Irish heritage, and I have learned some Irish history–and I love the myths, music, and dancing–but I don’t know much of my personal family history. My parents didn’t tell many stories of their childhood or of family history. I think my Dad became interested in his genealogy a few years before he died, but by that time my family had mostly disowned me. I do have a couple family trees booklets he printed off for all his kids before he died.  I believe that my Irish ancestors came to the US during the potato famine, which was a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1849 but I can’t remember what part of Ireland they came from. Unlike my parents, EJ and I have told many of our childhood stories to JJ. I think it’s important.

Today is JJ’s 23rd birthday. He has to work all day so we are going to celebrate his birthday tomorrow by taking him out to eat at Culvers after my hand therapy and after EJ gets out of work. Our gift to JJ is getting new front tires put on the HHR, which JJ is buying from us. The HHR needs a few repairs so we are really just “selling” it to him for the cost of repairs.  So we are actually giving the car AND new tires to him. We will take the car to the repair shop as soon as he gets insurance for it and transfers the title/registration to his name. It makes more sense for JJ to have the HHR since he will be doing mostly city driving. Of course, without 4-wheel drive he won’t be able to make it up our driveway in the winter, but he can always park at the bottom of the driveway and walk up to the house.

A couple of weeks ago our snow had mostly melted away, and then we had a week of snow that covered the ground in several inches of snow. The sun and daytime temperatures in the 30s is melting the snow again, although there is still some ice in the Bay. I’m really hoping we don’t get more snow. I love Winter but this year I’m so ready for Spring! I’m really glad we are not experiencing the multiple snowstorms the northeast has been getting hit with!

 

I really struggle with most of these exercises.

My hand therapy is going quite well. I faithfully do the exercises the therapist gave me to do at home, and with the workout she gives me during my sessions with her, I am able to continuously improve my mobility. I think I am able to bend my fingers 65 degrees now, which is a huge improvement on what I could do at first. I’m also able to mostly turn my hand from palm down to palm up, but bending my wrist forward and backward or side to side is going much slower and is more of a painful struggle.

Yesterday, JJ watched Katy, my therapist, put her hand over my fist as she worked to stretch my wrist backwards. He said, “I hate to tell you this, Mom, but I think she’s winning the arm wrestling match.” I replied, “I hope so! Because if she wins [if she is successful at getting my wrist to bend backwards], I also win.” Katy agreed wholeheartedly.

Five stickers on my shirt

I have been able to get my other fingers to touch my palm for several sessions, but I’ve struggled with my littlest finger. Katy and I have called it my “rebellious little finger” because it constantly resisted my efforts to bend it that far. We cheered  yesterday when I was finally able to get my littlest finger to touch my palm with the others. JJ said that I should get a gold star sticker for my achievement. “In fact,” he replied, “if you can get 5 stars today, I will buy you a peanut butter shake,” which he knows is my favorite flavor. At the end of my session, Katy said, “Let’s see….you get a star for getting your rebellious little finger to bend, and a star for making improvement in turning your hand palm up, and a star for being able to finally look at the incision scar on your wrist without fainting, and a star for this improvement and that one [I can’t remember what they were]…That’s FIVE stars!” She got out a bunch of stickers from a cabinet. She put five of them on my shirt. “I guess your son has to buy you a peanut butter shake today!” she exclaimed. I didn’t hold JJ to that  because now that he’s out on his own, he can’t really afford to buy me one. However, while we were at his apartment waiting for his Dad to pick me up, JJ generously shared his jelly beans with me. I love jelly beans. I always crave them at this time of year.

If it weren’t for my injury and the effort and soreness of stretching ligaments, it would be fun to go to hand therapy sessions. My hand is always sore after my therapy session and after I finish my exercises at home.

Wibbly Wobbly

I’ve had two sessions this week with my occupational therapist to try to get more mobility in my injured hand. My sessions are scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The route to the OT takes us past the Bay, which is very beautiful. The look of the water changes daily–and sometimes hourly. Sometimes the water is as calm and still as a mirror, sometimes it is turbulent. Sometimes it looks blue, or gray, or even green. Yesterday the water was a turbulent emerald green. There is still a lot of ice covering the East Bay, as seen in the photo above this post. The West Bay had less ice as in this video I took yesterday. The water is actually more emerald than it appears in the photo or video.

When I first arrive at the therapist’s, may hand is wrapped in moist heated towels for 15 minutes to warm up the ligaments and may them more flexible. On Tuesday while the warm towels on my hand, I looked out the window. I suddenly realized that while the elevator has buttons for three floors, the building actually only had TWO floors (not counting the ground floor). I quoted, “Well, that’s timey wimey, wibbly wobbly” because it reminded me of a Doctor Who episode called “The Lodger” in which a house that appeared to have two floors in reality only had one. It was an alien thing. On the way out of the building, I quickly took two photos as evidence,and I took a third on Thursday of the front of the building.

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The photos are a touch blurry because I didn’t have much time and I was still feeling a bit wibbly wobbly because, uh, I got faint during my session.

Most long-sleeved shirts and coats have tight-fitting cuffs that makes it difficult to easily get a cast or splint through so I have been wearing loose t-shirts. I have only one coat with a sleeve that I can get my injured hand through. It’s actually a jacket, and not warm enough for our wintry weather, so when I go anywhere, I wear one of a few loose-cuffed sweatshirts that I own over my t-shirt and under the jacket.. The hand surgery/therapy office is rather warm so usually I take off the jacket and sweatshirt when I arrive. However, Tuesday I got my splinted hand through a slightly tighter-cuffed sweatshirt which was more of a hassle to get on/off, so I kept it on at the therapist’s. During the session, I suddenly told the OT, “I am getting overheated. I really need to get my sweatshirt off.” She helped me get it off, but by that time I was feeling very faint. I put my head down on the table and she got me some cool cloths that she placed on the back of my neck, while reassuring me–as medical staff all do–that people often faint. I estimate that it took at least 10 minutes until I felt well enough to continue the therapy–and then I felt a bit wibbly wobbly for a couple of hours afterward. Ugh. Fainting is so embarrassing.

Cherry Lover’s Jelly Bean flavors

EJ picked me up from JJ’s apartment. On the way home, we stopped at TSC for some pet supplies. I also bought a couple bags of jelly beans. I love jelly beans, and always try to buy a bag or two at this time of year. At TSC, I discovered “Cherry Lover’s Jelly Beans.” They are heart-shaped, Kosher, and have 9 different cherry flavors. They are very yummy and my new favorite. I especially like the chocolate cherry ones.

Thursday morning JJ told me he wasn’t feeling well. He said that he’d try to take me to my therapy later in the afternoon, but he was having issues that required staying near a toilet, so I contacted EJ and he was able to leave work early to take me. I was glad that he could sit in on one of my sessions and meet my therapist.

My therapist–her name is Kate–just oozes kindness, compassion, and gentleness. We always chat while she works with my hand. Yesterday we chatted about my ducks and chickens–and a little about spiders. Kate gave my hand quite a workout–the most intensive so far. I faithfully do the exercises she gives me at home,  but it’s difficult for me to stretch my ligaments as much as she can. I try hard, but I tend to stop at “ouch”–I don’t have the skill to know how far I can stretch my hand. Kate doesn’t exercise my hand to the point of pain, but she does go a touch beyond “ouch.”  It’s important to stretch the ligaments. EJ commented that he was surprised that my hand was still swollen and she replied “Don’t be surprised.” Apparently, it’s normal. Kate took all the usual measurements at the beginning and end of my session, and I am making improvement in mobility. She said that the goal is not to have huge improvements, but to gain gradual improvement. Despite my exercises at home, I lose a little mobility between sessions (which is normal), and I always do better at the end of a session with her than at the beginning (also normal), but gradually I am increasing mobility so that I start a session able to do more than I could do at the end of earlier visits.

I learned my lesson and on Thursday I wore a sweater that I could easily take off when I arrived at the OT office. I didn’t faint this time.

My incision. Yuck!

I haven’t really examined the incision on the inside of my hand because….ew, yuck. However, I have taken quick glances at it and the other day I took a photo of it–with my eyes mostly not looking at my incision. During my first visit with the surgeon after my surgery, I asked her if 1. I would have a scar, 2. if the metal plate in my wrist would set off metal detectors, and 3. what would happen if it did. The surgeon told me that I would have only a slight scar. She said that at one time the metal plates did set off metal detectors, but then they turned the sensitivity on the detectors down a bit and some of her patients have been telling her that after about six months they don’t set off detectors. She said that if the detectors are set off, the guards look for the scar and run their wand over the arm. I thought that was interesting.

After we left the therapist, we went to Meijers to buy a couple of items for JJ to help him feel better. We dropped the bag off at JJ’s apartment and then drove home. Hannah Joy is always excited to see us when we get home. I think she gets bored and misses us when we are gone because she gets into things–like food left on the counter, or a paper towel (which she loves to eat) left out, and so on. This time we only found a destroyed paper plant and pieces of one paper towel so we are getting better at putting things away before we leave.

Hannah loves to sleep on our laps. This is a video I took when I tried to wake her up so I could get up and go check on our supper. She really didn’t want to wake up. LOL.

Comic Relief

I haven’t been able to write in several days. Usually I don’t write much on the weekends because EJ and I are hanging out together. Here is what has been happening:

It’s been snowing almost every day for the last week, and snow is forecasted through Wednesday night this week. It melts a bit during the day so we don’t have a huge amount of accumulation, but we do have several inches of snow on the ground. The photo at the top of this post is of the Bay, which we drive by one the way to the doctor. The Bay is still partially covered with ice. It’s very beautiful–but it’s beautiful in every season.

Thursday afternoon JJ took me to my second session with my occupational therapist. He brought along his roommate, David–I think so he could help him load the recliner we are giving them into the Xterra? Or maybe just for company? His roommate seems to be a really nice guy. They joke and tease each other like brothers, which I think is a good experience for JJ, who is an only child. They drove here right after JJ’s college class so they arrived about an hour early. To kill time, we stopped at Meijers on the way so JJ could buy new wipers for the Xterra.

When JJ had cancer, we had days when we cried–and that was ok–but we always joked and laughed when we could when facing difficult medical situations. It helped relieve tension. To this day, when JJ talks about the Christmas Day that his hair fell out from chemotherapy, he remembers it not with horror or sadness, but with laughter–because I had told him that his head looked as if he had been attacked by moths. Whenever JJ told me that I was acting “stupid”, I told him that I was merely the comic relief. Now that I am facing medical appointments that make me nervous, JJ is helping provide the comic relief.

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Cybermen

Last Monday JJ drove me to the hand surgeon’s office to get my cast off.  As we entered the elevator, I observed that the buttons for the first two floors were labeled with the names of the businesses, but the third floor was blank. “I wonder what is on the third floor?” I said. “That is where the Cybermen are,” JJ replied. All morning he had been telling me that my cast was going to be sawed off and I was going to be turned into a Cyberman. A Cyberman is a human whose consciousness–minus emotion–has been forcibly “upgraded” into a robot body in the Doctor Who series. There is usually screaming and it’s implied that there are saws involved. We are Doctor Who fans.

When we entered the elevator on Thursday to go to my occupational therapy session, JJ’s roommate kept pushing the open/close doors button of the elevator. “You better not get us stuck in this elevator–oh, and make sure you do NOT push the button for the third floor,” I cautioned. “Why not? What’s up there?” David asked. JJ quickly answered, “Black Ops.” For those who might not know, Black Ops is a covert operation by a government agency or a military organization. Such operations are secret and not attributable to the organization carrying it out. They involve a significant degree of deception, to conceal who is behind it or to make it appear that some other entity is responsible. “Can we go up there?” David asked, his finger hovering over the third floor button. “No! No! No!” JJ and I shouted in alarm. “You must never, NEVER push the button to an unlabeled floor. If you do, you will never return.” We made it to my therapist’s office safely, the third floor button unpushed.

When we entered the occupational therapist’s office, I was told to take off my removable splint and then warm towels were wrapped around my hand/arm to loosen up the muscles, tendons, ligaments. The warmth felt good. After 15 minutes, I was called over to the OT’s table, where she began working with my hand. After a few minutes, I told her that I had expected to be screaming in pain from the torture by then. She said that sometimes her patients who have been in therapy for a while have told her that they feel like groaning and screaming when they see an obviously first-time patient come in. I felt like screaming to freak out JJ and David, but I restrained myself…barely.

I’m amazed at how gentle the OT is, even when she’s pulling on my arm. I asked her the purpose of doing so, and she said that the ligaments shrink because of the surgery/cast and she was trying to stretch them out–but she was only stretching them a tiny little bit. I said in pretend relief, “Oh, good. So this won’t result in me having a gorilla arm that reaches to the floor?” She laughed. She also told me to let her know if anything she did was painful and she would immediately stop. “No pain/no gain is only for people working out in gyms with healthy bodies–not for people recovering from injuries,’ she said.” I replied, “I’ll try not to be too tough or brave then.”

My hand sandwiched between rice bags made with old socks.

The OT uses a sort of bendable ruler to measure to what degree I can move my fingers/hand. She measured at the beginning of the session and also at the end and then recorded the degree of change. I actually do have more mobility at the end of the session than at the beginning, which I think is remarkable. The OT also gives me exercises to do at home. She said I can use moist heat at home to warm my hand and make it more flexible at home. One method of moist heat is making a rice bag that is heated in the microwave. Our previous house had been old–built in 1920–and the upstairs was always cool. We had warm blankets and were not cold except when we first got into bed so I had made rice bags from old hand towels to warm up the blankets. Those required folding the towels in half and sewing around the three open sides, pouring the rice in just before sewing it completely shut. With my injury, I didn’t think I could manage to sew well enough to contain the rice so I googled different options. The method I used was filling an old sock with rice and then tying it shut. I managed to tie it, but later EJ re-tied it tighter for me. So now I warm my arm before I begin my exercises, which I have to do at least four times a day. I made two bags–one to put under my arm and one to put on top of my arm.

The bruising on my arm more than a month after surgery

I told the therapist that I had always assumed that once a cast came off, the person was as good as new. I had no idea how much work it was to regain mobility. She told me that children heal very quickly, but it takes longer for adults. I asked her how long it usually took for a person to regain as much mobility as they could, and she said about 6 to 8 weeks. I tend to expect healing from injuries or surgery to be faster than it is. I noticed a couple of days ago that I have bruises up my forearm even though the surgery was more than a month ago. I also still have some swelling. The therapist gave me a heavier “sock” for my arm, which is worn under the splint, to help with the swelling.

JJ drove me to his apartment after my OT session. We had agreed that EJ would picked me up from there after work so JJ would not have to take me home each time. While I was still in therapy, JJ schedule appointments for me for the next few weeks. He made them for Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 pm–the last appointment of the day–so that I would not have to wait so long for his Dad to get out of work and take me home. JJ has been very good at getting me to my appointments.

We needed to get our taxes done so Saturday I googled our preparer to find their phone number, and in the process I learned that I could schedule an appointment on-line. I thought I was scheduling an appointment for next Saturday, but I accidentally schedule it for that afternoon. Oh, well. We went to the appointment. At first we almost had heart failure because it appeared that we would have to pay several thousand dollars. Yikes! But then we were able to take advantage of tax credits so we are getting a really good refund. It is more than the amount we had to pay with our credit card on the day of my surgery. We plan to use our refund to pay our credit card.

JJ has decided that he would rather buy the HHR from us than the Xterra. It actually makes more sense because he will be doing mostly city driving. We told him that we will sell it to him for the cost of the repairs that need to be done, which probably will only be a few hundred dollars. We told him that we will buy new front tires for the HHR as our gift to him for his birthday, which is approaching fast. He was relieved and grateful.

Oh, JJ just got promoted to Lieutenant at work. I think this promotion comes less than a month after his promotion to Sergeant. He also got a second commendation. He is doing very well and we are very proud of him.

EJ stopped at Meijers on the way home from work on Friday to pick up a few things we needed. He also bought a space heater that normally cost around $60 but was on sale for $20. We are using it to help reduce our propane usage. The cats love the heater and one or more are always lying near it. Timmy likes to put his paws under it.

Second Winter

Image result for lotr second winter memeAlmost all our snow had melted away during days of temperatures reaching into the high 30s and 40s. It was really beginning to feel like Spring, even though I know that Winter likes to toy with us in March, dangling Spring-like days in front of us and snatching them away when we dare to hope that Spring is here to stay. I try to remind myself that Winter is still lurking about and not to get my hopes up in March or April–I’ve even seen snow in May–but I always fall for Winter’s cruel tricks.

It’s been snowing quite steadily since Tuesday. Our ground is again covered in several inches of snow. Second Winter is here. Ugh. The snow isn’t all that bad, but I don’t look forward to another round of treacherous ice when it melts and refreezes.

My days are spent doing my chores, watching Amazon Prime or Netflix videos, napping, (I don’t sleep particularly well at night), and doing the exercises that the occupational therapist gave me to stretch tendons and regain movement in my hand. Four times each day I have to do the exercises, repeating each exercise 10 times. It takes me at least an hour to complete each session so I am spending at least 4 hours each day doing the exercises. At my first visit with the OT on Monday, I could barely straighten or bend my fingers. After a couple of days of the exercises, I am doing better, although I’m struggling with the last of the exercises in which I have to bend my wrist forward and back. I think it’s because my wrist is still quite swollen, as are the large knuckles at the base of my fingers.  My arm feels lumpy where it’s swollen. I’m kind of started skimping on the last exercise (bending my wrist forward and back) because it’s too sore and I can’t make my wrist bend. Yesterday I tried to video the exercises I have to do:

I always assumed when people broke a bone that after the cast came off, they were pretty much as good as new. I never realized how much they were affected by the break, how little movement they had, how much work it is to regain mobility, or that they don’t regain full mobility. I will never again look at a person with a broken bone with ignorance. I will empathize deeply with them.

This afternoon I have my second session with the OT. (I’m hoping JJ remembers to take me. I have sent him a reminder or two.) JJ’s schedule is more flexible than his Dad’s which is why he takes me, but we still have to work around his college classes, work, and his personal life. I don’t want to impose on JJ so I told him that maybe we can schedule future appointments for later in the day so that he can take me to his apartment afterwards rather than drive me all the way home, and his Dad can pick me up from there when he gets out of work. The doctor/OT, JJ’s apartment, and EJ’s company are all about 10 miles from each other so it would save time if EJ could pick me up.

Hand Therapy

The weather has been very nice. The nighttime temperatures often dropped below 20, but the daytime temps rose into the high 30s and 40s. Our snow is mostly gone, but we are supposed to get several inches soon–tonight, I think. Yuck, I like winter, but this one has been tough and I’m ready for it to end.

My appointment with my hand surgeon was this morning. The nurse used some sort of power tool to saw the cast off. I didn’t look because I imagined the tool accidentally cutting into my arm. I gave my camera to JJ and asked him to take a few photos of the saw cutting through the cast so I could gradually look later when I was ready and see what it looked like. I was disappointed–but I suppose not really surprised–that he didn’t take any closeup photos of my arm. He thought it was funnier to take photos of my stressed face. I’ve never, ever liked photos of myself and certainly not when I look distressed. Bummer. This is why I usually stay behind the camera instead of in front of it.

I took this photo of my misshapen hand

I am super empathetic, which makes medical appointments difficult because I tend to faint. But I did not faint when the cast was taken off and I did not faint this time when x-rays were taken of my hand. I managed to wash my hand at the sink after the x-ray without fainting. I didn’t faint even though I was appalled when I saw my swollen and misshapen hand. I didn’t look on the inside of my wrist because I didn’t want to see the scar. I definitely would have fainted then because I can’t help but imagine the surgeon’s knife opening up my hand. But I looked at the x-ray photos the doctor showed me without fainting. I did get faint when she asked me to move my hand and fingers this way and that. I was barely able to move them at all.

After the doctor appointment, I had to go to occupational therapy, which is located in a different section of the doctor’s office. I was afraid that it would be unpleasant and I would faint again. It is very unpleasant to faint. The therapist saw how dry my skin and she massaged lotion into it. I was surprised at how gentle and good the massage felt to my injured hand.

My newest splint

The therapist said that on this first visit she would most concentrate on getting my splint on. She put a sort of sock on my arm. Then she heated up some sort of material until it was flexible and formed it around my wrist. She cut away parts until it fit well on me and then put on velcro straps. This is a removable splint. I have to wear it all the time for two weeks–except when I do my hand exercises or shower. Then for two weeks, I need to wear it only when I go away from home or do chores. Then for two weeks I can wear it occasionally–like when I do chores.

The therapist gave me instructions on how to move my fingers and hand indifferent ways, much as the doctor had. I have very little movement. I could barely bend my fingers or wrist, I couldn’t straighten my fingers all the way, and I can’t twist my wrist. She showed me how to do various stretching exercises, each of which I have to repeat 10 times four times a day. My arm is sore and the exercises aren’t comfortable so I watch Netflix when I do them to distract my mind.

The therapist offered me the option of having the therapy done at the hospital that is closer to our home, but when I called them they said their OT only works 20 hours per week and isn’t available when JJ can take me, so I called today’s therapist back. I have another appointment with her this Thursday. She said that usually they like patients to come twice a week at first, but she knows I have to work around JJ’s schedule so she said we’d discuss how to work that out on Thursday. I feel bad that JJ has to take me so often, and he wasn’t thrilled either, but I need this therapy so my hand will work. EJ can’t get so much time off work and I can’t drive myself, so I’m hoping JJ will be patient about taking me. I told him that as soon as I am able, I will drive myself so it shouldn’t be too many weeks that he has to take me. I hope.

JJ’s Apartment (And Hannah’s Bedroom)

The plan was that JJ would drive to the house to pick up a few more of his possessions, and I would go with him so I could see his new apartment. Depending on timing and how man trips JJ made, either he would take me back home or EJ would pick me up after work.

JJ’s empty bedroom.

I didn’t know when JJ would get here. I figured that he probably wouldn’t have much patience to pack stuff so I did a lot of it. I emptied his dresser, desk drawers, and most of his closet, and dragged boxes and bags to the kitchen. He doesn’t have a lot of possessions. Mostly I just packed his clothes. He still has computer cables and accessories to take, as well as his books, but he can get those little by little. After I got the clothes out of the way, I picked up empty envelopes, wrappers, etc., from the floor and vacuumed. JJ took most of his blankets with him last night, but I told him I wanted to keep the bedspread. I put it and a couple other blankets in the wash. JJ hasn’t been the neatest person ever, and it felt good to get the room tidy.  Too much clutter and mess tends to depress my spirits.

I laughed because Hannah kept lying on the bed as if she was claiming JJ’s room for herself. She even set her favorite toy on the bed. I went into the bedroom later and saw TWO balls on the bed. I’ve begun calling the room “Hannah’s bedroom.” Hannah is such a funny dog. Whenever EJ hugs or kisses me, she runs up for some lovings too.

JJ arrived in the early afternoon. He hadn’t slept well on the floor last night so he ended up taking a short nap on the couch. Kee-Kee and Hannah cuddled with him.

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Plans changed. JJ wanted to visit his girlfriend–she lives about a half hour further than us from JJ’s apartment. I said,  “No problem.” I really want to tour JJ’s new apartment, but if I couldn’t get there tonight, I told JJ that I could always visit after my doctor appointment on Monday. After texting his Dad to see if it was agreeable, we decided that EJ and I will take the mattress to JJ tonight after EJ gets home from work. If possible, maybe we can also bring him the recliner we are giving him.

The mattress was on the top shelf in our pantry/storage room. I had JJ get it down, and I also had him get down the tote with the single sheets in it so he could take them with him. I also let him have the extra coffee machine, and I let him take some of his favorite coffee cups, some extra pots, pans, and plates we no longer use. Then we loaded the Xterra and off he went.

Before he left, he hugged me and told me that he’s rather terrified about moving and “I’m going to miss all this.” I told him that before he knows it, he will be settled in and loving it.

Later

EJ came home from work and put the ducks in their coop for the night. He tried to put the chickens in, but it was still light out and they always refuse to go into the coop until twilight. EJ loaded the mattress into the suburban and I grabbed JJ’s work shirts, a bag of clothes hangers, and the plant his girlfriend gave him and we set off for JJ’s new apartment.

I was very surprised at how big the complex is. I looked at Google maps when we got home and counted twelve large three-story apartment buildings. The complex has a pool, gym, hot tub, children’s playground, and dog park JJ lives in a second story 2 bedroom apartment with a balcony. There is a washer and dryer in their apartment. It was quite nice. They don’t really have any furniture yet, but that will come. We will let JJ have one of our recliners but we couldn’t fit it in the sub to take it to him tonight.

When we got home, EJ went out to shut the chickens in the coop and then we relaxed for the rest of the evening. We both agreed that we are glad that JJ is growing up and gaining his independence, we are excited about this new period of our lives, but it will all take some adjustment.

Empty Nest

Well, JJ received the keys to his new apartment today!

The new apartment is in the same town where EJ works so he stopped to look at it when he got out of work. I have to wait until tomorrow to see it because I didn’t have transportation–and even if I had, I couldn’t have driven with my broken arm.

JJ had to work today, but he stopped by this evening to take a few basic things back to the apartment. The first thing in the car was his computer, which is his most valued possession. He took some items we are giving him, a few clothes, his pillow and blankets, and probably not much else. His Dad could have put a mattress in the sub this morning and dropped it off for him, but JJ wasn’t very definite about his moving plans. Oh, well. It won’t kill him to sleep on the floor and it will actually be an adventure.

JJ is skipping his college class tomorrow to move more stuff. I don’t think he’s worry about moving everything all at once. He’ll just take things back when he visits. I will go with him tomorrow, although there’s not much I can really do to help. I will enjoy seeing his new place though. I will take photos.

Once JJ is mostly moved out, I will begin cleaning and organizing his old bedroom. In fact, I really want to do some Spring cleaning and organize the whole house. Drat this injured arm–it is going to slow me down!

EJ and I now have moved into the “empty nest” stage of our lives.

I have such mixed feelings. I’m a bit sad because it’s such a big ending. Having an empty nest makes me feel old. However, I’m excited for this new stage in JJ’s life and excited about the new stage in our life. There are things I will miss and things I won’t miss. I would write about this in more detail, but my arm feels swollen and it’s painful to write tonight. Maybe I have been trying to do too much.

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