Nemesis

Falling snow covering up the treacherous ice

We had two days of warmer temperatures–up into the mid- to high 40s. The snow was melting and dripping off the roof. The chickens and ducks were out enjoying the weather. However, once again our yard and driveway has become a treacherous glare of ice. The photo at the top of this post is of the icy driveway. Today it is snowing. The snow is covering the ice, repeating the conditions that caused me to fall and fracture my arm. I’m being even more cautious when I take Hannah out and only letting her go the length of her 6 foot retractable leash while I stay on the pavement near the porch. If I were a superhero, my villanous nemesis would be ice. Sadly, I’m not a superhero, but my nemesis is still ice.

Hannah Joy is a sweet, adorable, interesting, funny,  fun, delightful, and much-loved dog, but she is not particularly calming to be around while I recover from my injury. When she wants something, she wants it NOW. If she isn’t asking to go outside, she’s bringing her toys to me and demanding to play, or wanting food, or trying to steal my kleenex, which she eats and later poops out. She has become quite a skilled pickpocket, stealing kleenex from my pocket as she sits innocently on my lap. If I ignore Hannah, she gets very vocal or climbs into my lap and paws at me. I feel as if I am constantly taking her outside, constantly throwing her ball, or constantly trying to protect myself, my food, or my kleenex from her.  It’s not her fault. She is young and energetic, and has things to learn. If it weren’t for my arm and the nemesis ice, I would be taking her for frequent walks to use up some of her energy, and I would be teaching her. I can’t do that right now. Poor dog. And poor me because sometimes I need a bit of a break.

When Hannah, isn’t demanding attention, the cats want lovings. I love cuddling with them, but they don’t understand that they must not walk on my damaged arm on their way to my lap. Little Bear shows lovings by kneading with his claws out. I definitely do not need additional pokey pain. I dearly love all my critters, but sometimes want to shout “CAN YOU JUST GIVE ME SOME SPACE AND LEAVE ME ALONE FOR A BIT!”

A couple of days ago when I took Hannah out, Miss Madeline Meadows, our sweet serial killer cat, was lurking under the bird feeder. I’ve been keeping Hannah away from Madeline because Madeline is skittish and I didn’t want Hannah to scare her. But yesterday Hannah got a little closer than usual and Madeline didn’t run away, so I let Hannah go right up to her–although I was prepared to pull her away if there was a problem. Madeline just sat there completely unconcerned as Hannah sniffed her. I thought that, wow, Madeline has chutzpah, she has nerves of ice and steel. Nothing scares her, not even a big galooty dog.

Ever since I was sick with a bad cold a couple months ago, I have felt as if my sinuses have been swollen. Tuesday I blew my nose and filled a paper towel with mucus. Gross, I know, but to quote Shrek, “Better out than in, I always say.” I still feel as if my sinuses need more clearing, but I can breathe a little better now. I woke at 3 a.m. Wednesday morning with a headache and feeling nauseous and I felt that way most of the day. I didn’t know if the cause was connected to my sinuses, if I was getting sick (broken hand plus flu would really be special!), or if my pain meds were causing it. My pain meds come with a warning about addiction, which worries me. I have no problem taking them for pain, but I don’t want to risk addiction. I’ve never been addicted to drugs but I’ve heard stories a people getting addicted to pain meds and I don’t want to be one of them. After a couple of days of taking whole pills, I reduced them to half. I did fine on half so yesterday I tried taking only OTC pain meds. I lasted most of the day but then I couldn’t endure the increased pain so I gave in and took the prescription med.  I am now trying to lengthen the time between taking the prescription med.

The other day I apologized to EJ for my bad attitude. He said that he hadn’t noticed me having any bad attitude. That’s good because I was afraid my attitude has been less than good. Although exhausting and frustrating to have minor tasks turned into major endeavors, I think I’m mostly meeting the challenges with creativity. I’m able to do dishes, laundry, vacuum, clean the litter boxes, set up the coffee machine, and even prepare simple meals one-handed. It just takes a while. It took me about 15-20 minutes to figure out how to open a can of baked beans with the electric can opener when my injured hand can’t hold the can or press the lever that grips and opens the can but, hey, I eventually did it, through trial and error, by putting the can on top of a thermos lid that I put on top of a cutting board to raise the can to the necessary height. That’s not nothing.

My frustration and discouragement rises when my guys–mostly EJ because JJ is seldom home these days–have to do tasks that I cannot manage. I hate that EJ has to lug heavy buckets of clean water for the ducks and chickens when his back is killing him (we can use the garden hose in warm months but not in winter). I hate having to ask him to take out the garbage when I know he’s very tired.

And JJ brings up other frustrations and fears. He took me to the initial consultation with the hand specialist, but he had to cancel taking me to have my surgery because it interfered with a class he couldn’t miss. That’s ok. I was actually relieved that EJ took me. But JJ said he would take me to get my cast on Monday and he has twice implied that he might not be able to take me. Then he told me to not worry because he would definitely take me, but the fear is already stirred up that I am dependent upon him, I am helpless to get myself there, and what will I do if he cancels at the last minute so EJ doesn’t have time to arrange to take me? Getting the cast is not a frivolous thing that can be blown off; it’s a necessity. Also this triggers fears of being like my Mom, who was abusively manipulative and controlling. I don’t want to be the guilting, controlling, manipulative Mom who thinks she is more important than anyone else and her kids should submit to her demands because they owe it to her because she raised them. I try to be careful to encourage and respect JJ’s independence. I will never demand that JJ put me ahead of his spouse, as my Mom did me, and I will never get angry if he chooses not to spend a holiday–or whatever–with us. I think things should be given freely out of love, not forced with demands, manipulation, or anger. But, dog-gone-it, sometimes everyone needs help. I need JJ to either get me to my appointment as he offered and promised he would or give us enough notice that his Dad can arrange to take me. Not being sure of what is going to happen, one way or another, is stressful. This is more about my emotions/fears being triggered than JJ’s reliability. He will take me if he can, and if he can’t for some reason, EJ will.

About 20 years ago, I suffered through a few years of chronic health problems. During that time, I struggled with fears of being a burden, being abandoned, and being dependent, vulnerable, and helpless. In spite of all the heartwarming quotes about family always being there, EJ and my experiences with both our families of origin is that they are more noticeable by their lack of loving support than the reverse. We know we can’t count on most of them to be there. I faced those fears back then, I learned to relax about the tasks I couldn’t do, I learned that I could survive unloving family/people, and I learned of God’s faithful love at a deeper level. Some of these fears are resurfacing a bit now. I know that eventually I will survive, relax, and grow this time just as I did last time. I just feel as if I’m in the messy emotional stage now. I will be ok–and better than ok.

JJ had to go to the courthouse this morning for jury selection. He wasn’t chosen to be a juror. This is his first time having this experience.I have had to go to jury selection several times over the years–I think it is an interesting experience. Like JJ, I have never actually had to serve as a juror. JJ thinks he won’t ever be selected because of his pursuing a career in law enforcement.

The other day EJ and JJ told me that the metal plate in my hand will set off detectors in places like courthouses or airports. Wow, that’s alarming (pun intended 🙂 ) as well as interesting. I wonder what would happen next? Would I be dragged off to a small dark room and searched and interrogated for hours? Will they somehow x-ray my arm? It’s sort of interesting to consider.

As I write this post, I have been watching about a dozen squirrels eating and chasing each other at the bird feeder. They are fun to watch.

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Mostly Good

I really didn’t mean to go so long without posting an update…oops.

I am doing mostly good in a lot of ways. I had been afraid that I would be in much more pain after the surgery, but I am actually in much less. No doubt the metal plate in my wrist has stabilized the bones. I still feel pain, of course, but the pain meds help tremendously. The first few days I took whole pills, but on Sunday I began to take half pills and I’m doing fine on the lower dosage.

My new splint is more comfortable than the first one. The splint doesn’t cover my fingers so they aren’t all crushed together. I can move my fingers which is wonderful. My arm was painted with something orange during surgery so it looks as if I’ve been eating Cheetoes–or as if I’m turning into an Oompa Loompa from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Before the surgery I was in so much pain that I could only sleep an hour or two at a time. After the surgery I slept much better. In fact, I don’t know if it’s because of the injury to my body or the meds I am taking but I have been sleeping a lot. One moment I’m awake and alert and the next I suddenly can’t keep my eyes open so I go take a nap. This tiredness is why I haven’t posted. I am so tired that it feels as if it takes too much effort to peck out a post.  Mostly when I’m awake I do a few tasks, watch Netflix or Amazon Prime videos…and then take naps.

Mostly I have a good attitude about everything, but every now and then I have a very down day. It is frustrating and physically tiring to struggle to complete the simplest tasks but the emotional struggle is even worse. I worry about EJ because he lives with such chronic pain and fatigue every day. I always try to do as much as I can around the house so he can rest when he is home. Even with my injured hand I’m trying to do everything I can to help out, but there are many things I just can’t do and EJ has to take over many of my chores. It’s difficult knowing EJ has to care for my poultry before and after work when he is exhausted and hurting yet if he doesn’t keep their coop clean and give them clean water every day, they could get sick and die. I’m torn between wanting him to relax and wanting my poultry cared for so they don’t get sick. Sometimes EJ just wants to relax but if he doesn’t take Hannah outside then she paws at me, which is stressful because I’m afraid she will paw my injured arm and hurt it. So I take the dog out as often as I can to try to spare both EJ and me, but it requires effort and sometimes I am tired and don’t want to take her out. But I don’t want to nag EJ to do it.

I think JJ sees me doing a lot of tasks and he assumes I’m almost back to normal. I felt like crying when I asked JJ to please take Hannah out for me before my surgery and he complained that the only reason I was asking him to do it was because I didn’t want to do it myself. I wanted to snap that, no, the only reason I take the dog out is when I’m alone and she needs to go out, and I’m trying not to be a burden. In reality, I’m in excruciating pain, and it’s an effort to take Hannah out, and I’m always scared that I’m going to slip and fall outside and injure myself further. I don’t want to have to plead for help. I don’t want to feel like a burden.

So I struggle to do simple tasks, I feel like a burden (the guys wouldn’t have to do my chores if I hadn’t fallen), I’m trying not to place too many demands on the guys, I feel dependent, vulnerable, and helpless. I am tired, and frustrated, stressed and sometimes anxious.  Sometimes all these emotions grow too overpowering and I have a low day where I feel depressed, frustrated, impatient, and I cry. On those days I don’t want to talk to any friends so I don’t burden them with my emotions.

But not every day is low and mostly I am doing well.

JJ is going to be moving out. He and a friend will be getting an apartment together. It’s actually quite a nice apartment and the complex has a pool, gym, and so on. It will be an adjustment to have him no longer living with us, but I think he is really ready for independence. I think there are valuable lessons and maturity to be gained by moving out that he can’t learn while he is a kid living with his parents.  I know I learned a lot when I moved from my parents years ago and I value the experience. JJ is excited and nervous about this huge step, but I tell him that I’m sure he will do fine and will soon enjoy his independence.

We are selling JJ our Xterra. This is a bit of a sacrifice for us because we liked the Xterra and without it I won’t have any transportation, and we won’t have a backup vehicle if something goes wrong with the sub. However, JJ has been driving it all the time anyway and he needs to have a vehicle.

Last weekend southern Michigan was hit with a snowstorm. The storm didn’t reach our area. I’m glad because EJ didn’t have to snowblow the driveway.

 

During and After

I survived my surgery. It was done at a surgery center, not the hospital. Apparently, they specialize in surgery. It is a very modern facility.

Happy Slippers

I was so glad EJ was with me. I appreciate and trust JJ taking me to the other medical appointments, but EJ had the maturity, experience, authority, and love to a be the patient advocate I needed while getting. Plus, EJ was able to pay our bill and help with dressing before and after surgery. I never could have manage to tie the hospital gown behind me without his assistance. I liked the socks the gave me to wear. they were called, “pillow paws” and they had a happy face on the bottom. I told EJ that I had happy feet. After surgery, I held up a foot and asked EJ if my feet were still happy. He said they were.

The nurses and surgical staff were all very kind and caring. I made sure they were aware that I was nervous and that I have been known to faint so they could be forewarned. The last thing I wanted was to suddenly faint and maybe injure myself further. They all promised to take good care of me–and they did.

One moment I was lying on the table in the operating room, and the next I was being wheeled through the hallway to the recovery room. The nurse kept asking me about my pain level and putting more pain medication in the IV until I told her my pain level was at 3. The Anesthesiologist had told me before the surgery that he would put a numbing med in the IV to deaden pain. It worked. I couldn’t feel my fingers for the rest of the day.  They didn’t even feel as they belonged to me. My pain so far has been less than what I’ve felt over the last week. I don’t know what the pain will be like when the surgery meds wear off. I don’t want the pain to have a chance to become overwhelming. so I plan to take the full strength prescription meds for a couple of days before cutting them in half (as suggested). I figure I was given pain meds for a reason, and by golly I’m going to use them!

When I went to the hospital ER after I fell, I was told to keep my arm elevated and iced. My bandages/splint were so thick that I couldn’t feel the ice and I didn’t know if it was doing any good. The recovery nurse at the Surgery Center explained that keeping my arm elevated prevents the blood from rushing into my arm, which reduces pain. She said that because my bandages are so thick, it’s better to put the ice pack on my arm above the cast. The ice will slow blood flow going into my arm. and reduce pain and swelling. This info is helpful.

We read in the patient info that I needed to have someone stay with me for 24 hours after surgery. We asked the nurse how important this was because EJ needed to decide whether to take another day off work. She said that it would be totally fine for him to go to work…as long as I didn’t plan to drive or use power tools. I exclaimed that that was a bummer because I had absolutely planned to use power tools the day after surgery.

My only concern about being alone today is how to handle Hannah Joy. Not only will EJ be gone all day, but I knew JJ was working today and he usually works 10-12 hour shifts. This means that at some point I would have to get Hannah outside. I’m not sure I could manage it. My concerns grew when we got home yesterday. Hannah was very difficult. She wouldn’t calm down. She constantly grunted, growled, barked, or pawed–her methods of communication–for attention. EJ took her outside, gave her extra food, played with her, and petted her countless times but she wouldn’t calm down. I had to be constantly on guard to prevent her from pawing me or bumping into my arm. (I also had to watch that one or other of the cats wasn’t stepping on my arm on their way to my lap.) I realize this has all been upsetting to Hannah. She hasn’t had any walks since I’ve injured my arm, I’m sure she got lonely while we were gone for so many hours, and no doubt she sensed that something was wrong with me. However, I was exhausted after a week of pain, sleeplessness, and then surgery, and I was very groggy from the lingering anesthesia. It was very frustrating and stressful to have to handle Hannah and not be able to have peace and be able to sleep.

So imagine my utter relief when JJ came home and told us that he didn’t have to leave for work today until 2 p.m. He will be able to take Hannah outside for me so I don’t have to attempt it. And then EJ will be home for the weekend.

I decided to sleep in my chair last night. I thought I’d be able to keep my arm elevated better and protect my arm from the pets more. However, I couldn’t get comfortable and the recliner bounced every time Hannah jumped on/off the footstool. I finally said “Screw this!” and I went over to the couch. Hannah settled quietly (finally!) on the couch at my feet and I slept well until 3:30 am. I’ve been awake since then but hope to nap as soon as I can take more meds. It’s almost time for more. I can’t sleep if I am in pain. Hannah is calmer today–at least so far

On a different note, JJ came home Wednesday night with his 90 day work review. He got almost perfect marks–I think he has a score of 96 out of a possible 100. I think the decrease was due to the state of the desk–crumbs and such–which all employees are being marked down for because the desk is shared. JJ is really excelling at his job. After 2 months of employment, he was just promoted to SGT. He said he is actually taking on the responsibilities of a lieutenant–making work schedules and training new employees–so I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets promoted again soon.

Oh! It’s time for more drugs…and hopefully a nap.

Update

I’m home. I survived surgery. It went well. I will write later.

The Billing Lady

I spent much of the morning doing laundry, washing dishes, and paying bills so we don’t have to bother with any of it right after my surgery. As directed, I called the surgical center early this afternoon to learn the time my surgery is scheduled for.  I was told that I need to arrive at the surgical center at 9:45 am. The surgery will begin an hour later. Yes, it’s outpatient surgery. It seems as if every surgery is these days.

JJ had offered to take me tomorrow but the time of the surgery conflicts with his class. I believed he would have skipped class except he said that tomorrow is a presentation day and he will lose 15% of his final grade if he misses it. So I texted EJ at work and he was able to get the day off to take me. Whew! 

JJ did well taking me to the specialist yesterday and he will take me to followup appointments in the coming weeks, but I am relieved that EJ will be with me for the surgery. He is my rock who makes me feel secure and he will be able to handle any problems or decisions that may arise.

I was even more relieved that EJ will be with me after the woman called from the billing department at the surgery center to discuss payment. Our medical insurance deductible has not yet been met  for the year so we will need to pay for just about everything out-of-pocket. They want half paid tomorrow and the remainder paid within a year. And we will have medical bills from the emergency visit and who knows who else–it feels as if every doctor, appointment, test, and procedure is an additional separate expense. Of course, after the bill from the surgical center, the deductible will have been reached so the insurance company will pay 80% of future bills but the surgical center payment will be difficult in itself without anything extra added on. We are frugal, but medical bills have sucked us dry over the last few years. We had really good insurance when JJ had cancer, which paid for most of his treatment, but we still had to pay thousands in medical bills. We sold our RV and EJ sold some of his prize collections to help pay the bills.We were just getting to a place where we had a little extra money to pay down some other debt and maybe build up a little savings and now here we are again with more medical bills to pay.

I actually felt quite upbeat today until the billing lady called. She really sucked away my calm. I felt like telling her, “My arm is all messed up. I am in pain, I haven’t slept well, surgery is stressful…and you think that I need to worry about finances now on top of all that???” I realize that they do have to discuss payment but this doesn’t help me feel less stressed.

We will probably be ok. I just wish we could have some time to breathe without worries. I really, really, really wish I hadn’t fallen on the stupid ice. Sigh.

Surgical Plans

JJ drove me to the hand surgeon today. It was actually a consultation, not the surgery. EJ had been sick when he called to set up the appointment with the surgeon so I think he misunderstood. Sickness can sort of make the brain a bit fuzzy.

The hand surgery office was very pretty. I liked the exam room I was taken to. It had artistic photos of hands on the wall. They weren’t medical ones like in most doctor offices.

My hand surgeon

The surgeon was very friendly and comforting. She explained that I actually have THREE breaks, the knobby bone in my wrist was sheared off a bit, and my hand is bent backwards a little. Because of this, I need surgery to fix it. She will put a  metal plate in my arm, which will be permanent. The surgery will be scheduled for Thursday–the day after tomorrow. I have to call tomorrow to find out the time. The surgeon said that I will have to arrive one hour before the surgery, the surgery will take about an hour, and then I’ll be in recovery for an hour before going home. If I understood correctly, my arm will be in a splint for two weeks, then I will have a cast for two weeks, and if the weather is still wintry, I will probably get another splint to provide protection. She said the cast/splint will not cover my fingers like my current splint so I will have more finger movement. I will have to have some physical therapy. The surgeon said that I will lose about 20 percent mobility. If my injury had been higher on the wrist I probably would have lost 50 percent.

The surgeon mentioned pain medication after surgery. I told her I’m in a lot of pain now, I’m out of the meds prescribed at the hospital, and I asked what meds I can take now to help. She wrote me the prescription today rather than wait until after the surgery so I can take some now. That was helpful because we will have the meds at home and won’t have to worry about getting to the pharmacy after the surgery–and maybe not having pain meds if we don’t get there in time. EJ went to pick up the meds this evening and I went with him. These pain meds are the same drug but twice as strong as those the ER doctor prescribed.

When EJ took me to the Emergency Room the day I fell–January 30–we were told that half of the people who had been coming to the hospital had fallen on the ice and broken bones. The hand surgeon said today that the number of people coming to them with injuries from falling on the ice on January 29-30 is more than they usually get in a three-month period. We told this to the pharmacist when we were paying for the meds and she rolled up her sleeve to show us her elbow that was badly bruised when she fell on the ice. Fortunately she didn’t break any bones. Those were two days of very treacherous ice.

JJ’s schedule is a bit more flexible than his Dad’s so offered to take me to get my surgery done as well as mt appointment two weeks later to get my cast. I thought that was sweet of him.

As soon as we can, we will let you know how the surgery went. I might not feel up to posting and EJ is not familiar with blogging so it might take a day or two. We will do our best.

Low Day

This afternoon my best friend called me to tell me that she and her husband had bought me an Amazon gift card to cheer me. She knows I love Amazon gift cards.

While we talked my friend asked me questions such as if I had to fast for the surgery, how long would the surgery take, and so on. I told her that I had no idea. She told me that was odd and I really needed to call to find out this information. I also thought it was strange that they hadn’t call to tell me these things, but this is the first broken bone I’ve ever had so how do I know what is “normal”? I thought that maybe surgery for broken bones needs to be done quickly before the bones begin to heal wrong. Mostly, though, I have been so nervous about the surgery and nauseous whenever I thought about it. I didn’t want to ask questions and be told very scary details. I still remember when I had to have sinus surgery years ago. The ENT described the surgery in great detail including everything that could go wrong. I was horrified and told him that I would rather not know and could he just tell EJ. The ENT had said he had to inform me of the risks.

So,  seriously, I was scared to ask questions. But I called the hand specialist’s office this afternoon and told the receptionist that I have an appointment tomorrow but I don’t know what to expect. She said that there was nothing about surgery so it was probably just a consultation.

After we finished our conversation, I sat and cried. Because although I really dread the surgery, i had hope that the pain would begin to decrease afterwards and I could begin counting off 6-8 weeks to complete healing. To just have tomorrow be a consultation means the start of the countdown is delayed.  The splint is uncomfortable, my pain is constant, even the smallest task takes exhausting effort, and I hate EJ having to do my chores when he has enough to do. Any delay feels like an eternity has been added to my sentence.

Today is a low day.

Blissful Ignorance

At the same time I am both eager and dreading the surgery on Tuesday. I am eager because my bones can really begin to heal once the pin is in, and I have hope that the pain will lessen. I dread it because I don’t know what the procedure will involve. I don’t actually want to know too much.

All my life I have always been so empathetic that seeing, reading, hearing about, or experiencing suffering has been problematic for me.  I’ve fainted–or come close to it–when given details of medical procedures, visiting people in the hospital, watching medical or violent movies, watching/reading the news, and sitting in science classes in school. I remember being required to read All Quiet on the Western Front in high school and struggling not to faint in class. I actually went to a behavioral specialist in my early 20s to learn techniques for handling this and did quite well through a number of years and surgeries, but when JJ was diagnosed with cancer, my sensitivity to suffering resurged. During JJ’s first visit with the oncologist, I became faint when we were told how bad his cancer was. The oncologist actually made JJ get off the exam table so I could lie down, which was extremely embarrassing. After that, we used to bet each other about whether I would faint or not at various stages of his treatment.

So while the unknown causes some anxiety, knowing too much detail is worse. I wouldn’t mind learning that the surgery wouldn’t hurt but I don’t want to hear that it will. I don’t know if I will be cut open, but don’t want to know ahead of time that I will. I don’t know if I will be completely under anesthesia or only have local anesthesia but even the thought of being awake and aware makes me nauseous. I don’t know how a pin is put in, but I don’t want to know. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. So if you know any details, don’t tell me, I DON’T WANT TO KNOW. I prefer to find out when I get there.

I received pages of forms in the mail from the hand surgeon. I filled the out the forms this morning. I laughed a bit about how a person with a hand injury–requiring treatment from a hand surgeon–is supposed to fill out forms, but I used my left hand as a paper weight while I wrote with my right hand. Of course, EJ would have filled out the forms if I needed him to, but I was able to do it.

While filling out the forms, I read the info I received from the hospital the other day more closely. It was very general–not too much information. The summary said :You have a break or fracture in both bones in the forearm. The bones are not out of place and do not need to be set. This fracture usually takes 6 to 8 weeks to heal completely…” That was interesting because we had thought that I had only fractured one bone in my arm. I was glad that I will not need the bones to be set. I think that would be painful. I thought the simple diagram showing where the fractures are is interesting. I’m dismayed that it will take 6 to 8 weeks to heal. That might be considered a short time medically but it feels like  a long time to be injured and unable to do my own tasks.

The Bathroom Blessing

My friend and I have been studying Hebrew together for a number of years. We had to stop when JJ was diagnosed  with cancer a few years ago and we are just now getting back into it. After the long delay, we are doing a lot of review and relearning, but we love Hebrew and are very motivated to learn it. Hebrew is a very unique language. I think it is impossible to learn Hebrew grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary without also learning its historical and cultural context as well as lessons of faith and life which is built into the very letters themselves.

In our studies, we have been exposed to Jewish prayers and blessings. There is a blessing for everything, including coffee and seeing rainbows. I laughed when I first learned that there is even a blessing said after using the bathroom known as Asher Yatzar. It loosely translates as: “Thank You, God, who formed human beings with wisdom and created them with openings and orifices. If one of these orifices were ruptured or one of them blocked, whoa – it would be impossible to stand before You and survive. Blessed are You, God who heals all flesh and acts wondrously.”

A bathroom blessing sounds ridiculous until a person encounters health problems. Then being thankful for working “plumbing” is completely understandable. I have been thinking about this blessing a lot over the last few days as my fractured wrist causes me all sorts of pain, challenges, and frustrations. I don’t really think all that much about how wonderful it is when my body is healthy and works well until it doesn’t.

My hand throbs all the time and any/all movement is even more painful. I am not looking forward to the surgery, but I wish it could have been scheduled sooner so I can begin healing and get back to my life sooner. I am a little concerned about my bones beginning to heal wrong and needing to be rebroken. Besides pain, I struggle if my arm itches, I can’t  scratch my right arm with my useless left hand at all, which is extremely aggravating. My left arm really itches under the splint, but although I cannot crochet, the crochet hooks are useful in reaching under the splint to scratch itches.

I have been sleeping in my recliner–but I  have trouble sleeping more than a couple of hours at a time. Last night after I struggled to get comfortable, I decided to try to sleep in our bed but EJ was already asleep with the blankets wrapped around him. So I decided instead to try the couch but my arm throbbed worse with nothing to support it so I went back to my chair.

I know it’s difficult for the guys to take on extra tasks so I am trying to do everything I am able to do to not add to their load. With time and effort, I can do some simple tasks one-handed but it is surprising how many tasks require two hands. For example,

  • I can wash my hair in the kitchen sink, but it’s difficult to towel dry my hair.
  • I cannot get my splint wet so I cannot shower. However, with EJ’s help, I was able to take a bath this morning. EJ covered my arm in a plastic grocery bag and taped it on with packing tap, and helped me in and out of the tub. Easy peasy….uh, not…but being clean made me feel human.
  • I was planning to make chili the other day–an easy meal to put together–but despite my best efforts, I was unable to use the can opener to open the cans of chili beans. That evening EJ put together the chili ingredients, and I took the pot out of the fridge and heated it up for supper the next day.
  • I baked a venison potpie I had made and frozen a few weeks ago. I was able to get the potpie in the oven, but had to be creative to get the hot pie in its flexible disposable pie plate out of the oven.
  • I can’t carry heavy or multiple items.
  • I can do laundry. I can transfer clothes from baskets or machines with one hand. I can move baskets of clothes by scooching them across the floor with my foot. However, it takes two hands to fold the clothes and put them away.
  • I am sure I can vacuum, although I haven’t tried yet, but I can’t take out the trash.
  • I can’t make the bed.
  • I can clean the litter boxes in the house, but not the litter box in the garage.
  • Washing dishes is difficult, and impossible if they require scrubbing. EJ bought paper plates this morning to cut down on dirty dishes.
  • With difficulty I can take Hannah outside if the guys are gone and I have to, but I am very afraid of falling and often envision myself lying helplessly in the snow with TWO broken arms.
  • I can’t care for the poultry. The hens stopped laying a couple months ago, but EJ found 4-5 eggs this morning. YAY!
  • With enough time and effort I can write a blog post one-handed, but I cannot crochet.
  • I can binge-watch Netflix.
  • I can’t go get the mail. I can’t drive. I can’t snowblow the driveway. We haven’t had much snow accumulation in January so I haven’t had to snowblow for weeks but we are currently getting a winter storm with lots of snow expected. That’s a bit frustrating.

So, yeah, this difficult painful time makes me think of the Bathroom Blessing and how wonderful it is when our bodies work.

In other news, JJ’s promotion to SGT is permanent. The guy he is replacing has been fired because of a sexual harassment complaint from a non-employee woman–I’m not sure if she was a mall vendor or a customer. JJ also has become a Field Training Officer responsible for training new security guards. Not bad for only working as a security guard for two months.

I have been following the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nassar, the MSU and Olympic sports doctor who molested more than 200 girls for several decades. I was unfamiliar with him–I have never been athletic–but I am very familiar with the area in which he practiced because I have lived most of my life in that area. I used to work in Lansing and also in East Lansing not far from MSU. EJ and I also attended a church in Lansing before we were married. In fact, Nassar’s last sentencing trial–where a father lunged at Nassar for molesting his three daughters–is taking place in the very town where I grew up. My passion about abuse/victims and the area in which this is happening makes me very interested in this. I’m glad Nassar is being brought to justice and the victims are being given an opportunity to speak. I would like to say more, but it takes too much effort to type. If you are interested in this case you can learn more on-line and watch victim statements at Youtube. Here is one victim’s statement that I thought was exceptional. Rachel was the first victim to go public about Nassar.

 

The Week So Far

The week is slowly passing. My fractured left arm feels as lifeless and useless as a block of wood–only unlike wood, the smallest movement is excruciatingly painful. My hand feels swollen and my fingers sticking out of the bandages look like fat sausages. I can’t bear any weight on my arm and in order to move my arm, I have to pick it up with my right hand. EJ made a sling out of an elastic wrap bandage last night to support my arm so I don’t have to carry it when I get up.

I have been sleeping–uh, dozing–in my recliner because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get out of bed, especially with the pets sleeping on or near me. Hannah and the cats still like to sleep on me in the chair, but it is easier to shift them or push them off me and to protect my hand when I’m in the chair.

I was particularly worried about how I would manage with Hannah who usually wants outside frequently, often likes to play, and her movements are puppyishly enthusiastic. However, she’s actually doing very well. She’s not asking to go out or play much when I’m alone with her. She insists on sleeping on me most of the time, but I’m able to protect my arm from her movements.

I’m trying to do whatever tasks I can. I can manage to dress myself, and wash my hair one-handed at the kitchen sink in the morning. Stuff like that. There are a lot of things I can’t do. Some of the smallest things are the most frustrating–like being unable to scratch my right arm when it itches because my left hand is useless. It is amazing how many big and small tasks require two hands. The guys tell me to let them care for me, but it’s very difficult for me because EJ’s back always hurts, and he is really tired when he gets home from work at night, and he is still not totally recovered from being sick. And JJ is busy with school, work, and his girlfriend. I hate telling them to do more than they absolutely need to do. I really feel like a burden.

EJ and JJ are doing great though. EJ feeds me and the pets, takes Hannah outside, and lets the ducks out in the mornings before he goes to work. JJ gave the poultry fresh water and took Hannah outside in the afternoon, and also helped me with supper and dishes. JJ won’t be able to do much on days he works (Friday through Monday) but EJ will be home on weekends. Oh, JJ is getting promoted to SGT at work. The current SGT is being suspended because of sexual harassment complaints. This is the same guy who said inappropriate things to JJ when he (the guy) first got hired. This guy had been fired from other jobs and charged with sexual assault a few years ago.Those charges were dropped when the victim didn’t show up at the arraignment. JJ’s promotion might be only temporary if the guy returns to work after the suspension period is over.

JJ said this morning that he felt very nauseous. He went to school anyway. I’m hoping he isn’t getting the flu. The flu would REALLY complicate our lives. I hope none of us get sick until after my surgery at least.

A Patch of Ice

First, JJ had his oncology appointment today and he is doing great. All the medical test results are wonderful.

Me? I’m not doing so well.

It snowed overnight. We got just enough snow to hide the ice. This afternoon I took Hannah with me to walk to the mailbox to get the mail. About halfway down the driveway I slipped on a hidden patch of ice. One moment I was on my feet and the next I was on the ground in excruciating pain with a useless left hand. I felt as if I had broken my wrist. It took me forever to get to my feet because I had to keep hold of Hannah’s leash–she got excited when I fell–but I couldn’t use my left hand at all. I got to my feet and all the way up the hill I felt like fainting and vomiting. I finally made it into the house.

Fortunately, EJ has been home sick this week. I don’t know what I would have done if I had been alone. As soon as I got into the house I yelled to him for help. He grabbed a bag of frozen okra to Ice my wrist. He had bought it several years to try it, but we had never eaten it before and never actually had the courage to try it. He got me into the suburban–not easy because I still felt as if I was going to faint or vomit. He rushed me to the hospital.

I had four x-rays. The technician had to re-position my hand for each x-ray because I couldn’t move my hand. Later the radiologist told us that I had fractured the radius bone in my wrist and jammed the bone forward. He said that I would need to have a pin put in. He contacted a specialist, sent her my x-rays, and I have an appointment next Tuesday to put the pin in. Meanwhile I have a split on my arm. I have to keep my hand elevated and iced, and I have drugs for the pain, which isn’t bad unless I move my hand.

Everyone laughed at our bag of okra but they all said that, hey, it works. EJ told them we were going to take the okra  home and feed it to our chickens.

We were told that half the people who have been coming to the hospital have the flu and half are coming with broken bones because they fell on the ice.

So now I am at home. The guys will have to do a lot of my chores. I went out with them this evening to direct them on how to care for the poultry.

I want to share this with you all so you know why I am not going to be posting as frequently as usual. I will try to keep you updated but can only type one-handed.

I  told EJ that after I  get the pin in, I will practically be a cyborg. He said that that wasn’t true but I think it would be cool to be a cyborg.

Weather, Propane, and Stuff

Sunny, Rain, Snow, Sunny, Rain, Snow. Warm, Cold, Warm, Cold. Melt, Freeze, Melt, Freeze.

Our weather has been up and down and very changeable throughout January. We’ve had such warm temperatures that the snow melted and the chickens even came out of their coop one day–for the first time since the snow began to fall at the beginning of winter. Then it changes back to cold again and everything re-freezes. Last Sunday night it rained, but by Monday morning the rain had turned to snow. Everything refroze and area schools were canceled. Even JJ’s college cancelled classes, which doesn’t happen very often. Deep snow can be dealt with but ice is another matter. We’ve gotten less snow this month since the Great Lakes have mostly frozen and no moisture can be picked up from them and dumped on us as lake effect snow. Today the skies are blue and the snow is melting again.

EJ checked our propane levels last Saturday, which he does faithfully, and we were at only 7% full. We have a geo-thermal system, which draws from the earth itself to warm or cool our house. Our heating system doesn’t use propane until temperatures drop below 20 degrees. We’ve had a lot of cold temperatures during the last month, so our propane was depleted more quickly.  I never had propane until we moved to this house and I don’t really like it because we have to worry about our usage. Also, the prices vary from one refilling to the next so I’m never sure exactly how much it’s going to cost, which means I don’t know how much to plan for. Last time it cost less to refill our tank then I thought and this time it was much more. I much prefer heating our house with gas–with a consistent monthly bill and no worries about running out.

Packages–and Hannah–in the Magic Box.

EJ called the propane company on Monday morning and the delivery truck arrive the next day to fill our tank. I was concerned that our driveway would be too icy for the truck to make it up the hill. I could imagine the propane truck sliding over the edge of the driveway and overturning into our little valley, spilling hundreds of gallons of propane. What an ecological mess that would be! I could also imagine the delivery guy taking one look at our steep slippery driveway and deciding not to attempt it. These concerns are not unfounded. USPS, UPS, FedEX, and other delivery people refuse to come up the driveway in the winter, which is why we have the Magic Box at the bottom of the driveway for them to put our packages in. What would we do if we ran out and the propane guy refused to drive up our hill? So I’m metaphorically biting my nails when our propane levels get low in the winter.

At the top of the hill, the propane truck turned into the place we keep cleared of snow so we can turn around, and as it turned, it began to slide a bit. Yikes! The truck spun its wheels. I began praying, “Please don’t slide, please don’t slide.” The truck stopped, the driver got out and sprayed something on the tires, and then he was able to pull in and back into place beside the tank to refill it. When the tank was filled, the truck lumbered back down the hill. I watched it go, hoping it would make it safely to the bottom. It did. Whew.

Wednesday afternoon I went to the hospital with JJ so he could get his blood work and an x-ray done in preparation for his appointment with his oncologist next week. JJ always gets very stressed when he has to have medical tests and appointments, but I thought he handled it very well this time. We all get a bit anxious as JJ’s oncology visit nears. We only breathe again when/if the results show that he is safe from cancer for another year.

I have put aside the dragon shawl I have been working on. I love the look of it, but I’m afraid that it will be too heavy for a shawl so I’m wondering if I should redesign it. My friend thinks it is beautiful and the heaviness will just make it wonderfully warm and cozy on a cold day. She might be right. I wished she lived close enough pick it up and tell me if it’s too heavy or just right.  While I consider it, I’m working on a swan shawl. I have looked at many, many patterns for both the dragon and swan shawls–and have even begun a few of them–but none of them end up being exactly what I have in mind. Some of them look good on paper, but the intricacies of the designs get lost in the yarn that I want to use. So I’m working on designing my own shawl and combining elements of several different stitches I’ve found. I know the “feel” that I want the shawl to have, but don’t yet have a clear design in my mind.

Hannah Joy playing with her ball on my lap.

It takes a lot of thought, effort, and trial and error to create a pattern. Years ago I designed some cool crocheted superhero dolls. It often took me hours and hours to create one small element–like fingers on a hand–that I saw in my mind. One (smallish) problem I’m running into is that when Hannah Joy wants something, she wants it NOW–whether it’s wanting outside, or to crawl in my lap, or to play. She doesn’t take “No” for an answer. She’s very much like a toddler. Earlier this week I was trying out an intricate pattern that required a lot of concentration and Hannah kept wanting attention of one sort or another, and wanting it NOW. I was constantly losing count of stitches or which row of the pattern I was on so I’d set aside my crocheting, interact with Hannah for a bit, and then recount or tear out rows and start over–only to have Hannah want attention again. As it was, when I finally had a few rows finished, I decided the pattern wouldn’t work and I discarded it.

Oh, well. I don’t have a deadline and I’ll figure it out eventually. I do love my animals. Although I did wonder if Snow White ever felt a wee bit of a longing for a moment or two without all those adorable birds and animals scampering about her?

Hannah is a joy, though, and she often makes me laugh. She has such an expressive face. When she wants something she makes her self look very small and pathetic–like a starving child with huge eyes–so it’s hard to deny her. And when she’s waiting for a me to do something–such as give her a command to eat or throw her the ball, her intense expectation is visible. Hannah is also very clever. She makes up and changes her own games. For example, she pretends to give me her ball but then grabs it back when I start to reach for it. And instead of merely chasing her ball when I throw it, she now tries to catch it in the air before it bounces. I think she’ll be a great frisbee-catching dog. Yesterday morning she went round and round chasing her tail–which she actually did catch.

The Dragon Shawl

JJ has been battling a bad cold for about two weeks. It has been bad enough to make him feel bad, but not bad enough to prevent him from working, going to school, and hanging out with his girlfriend. I have finally succumbed to it. Like JJ, I am sneezing, coughing, and tired; my ears hurt and I can feel it settling into my sinuses. I am taking it easy this weekend and doing what I can to rid myself of this cold. I’m hoping I don’t have to battle it for as long as JJ. EJ might be coming down with it.

The weather has really been up and down. It’s been sunny and warm for a couple days, but will begin to get gradually cooler again. The warm temperatures are melting the snow again, making everything icy when it refreezes at night. There are a few patches of bare ground.

What’s left of the squirrel

I threw Miss Madeline Meadows’ dead squirrel out for the second time–or is it the third?–and once again she brought it back into the garage. There’s less and less of it each time she brings it back. Usually Madeline doesn’t bring the critters back when I throw them out. I think she must consider the squirrel to be a real prize. It’s kind of creepy to keep finding the dead squirrel lying next to their food bowl. Sweet Madeline is a bit scary.

Tracks in the snow

The other day I walked Hannah Joy to the mailbox and I found some unfamiliar tracks in the snow. The paw prints were small with a line connecting them, which I assumed was its tail dragging in the snow. I took photos of it so I could try to identify what critter made them. My best guess is that it’s a deer mouse. It better beware of the serial killer in the forest.

I’ve been trying to teach Hannah to walk by my side. I’m teaching her a Hebrew word that means “with me.” She’s doing quite well. In fact, sometimes I notice her walking “with me” even though I didn’t command her to. She has a real desire to please.

The Dragon Shawl

I’ve been working on crocheting a dragon shawl to match the fingerless dragon gloves I sell at my Etsy Store. It could also be considered a mermaid shawl. I think it’s very pretty. It’s also going to be very warm. It will be available at Teric’s Treasures when I finish it.

Next I would like to make a Swan Princess Shawl. I’ve been searching for a pattern that will look like feathers. I’ve tried a couple of patterns but didn’t like how they looked. I think I have finally found a pattern–or rather, I will combine elements of several patterns/stitches. We will see how it works.

 

 

#Meteor

Yesterday EJ and I were enjoying a quiet, peaceful evening at home. Luke was in EJ’s lap and Hannah was on mine. Suddenly, EJ pointed at the window and shouted, “Whoa! What is THAT?” I quickly looked out the window as Hannah leaped off my lap barking in excitement. We saw a huge fireball streaking south across the sky. It was blue with a fiery red tail. EJ said he saw it spiraling. We’ve never before seen anything like it.

A few minutes later, news and weather pages and sites lit up with people’s stories and videos of sightings. Some people said that they heard a boom and their houses shook. ABC News posted:

The sparkling display sent social media users into a frenzy, making “#meteor” a top 5 trending topic in the U.S. on Twitter. 

Michigan Weather Authority posted on their Facebook page:

This was meteor entering our atmosphere flashing over into a meteorite as it passed through our atmosphere creating that tail flash and sonic rumble. It was heard, felt and seen in several states including Michigan, Ohio, Indiana as well as in Canada. It appears as though most of it burned up upon reentry and there are reports that what was left may have landed within Lake Michigan and St Clair Shores causing at least a 2.0 quake.

Here is an article (with videos) about the meteor from MLive.

EJ stayed up late because of the meteor excitement. Hannah wanted outside just before EJ went to bed so he came out with us. The stars appeared extremely bright in the dark cloudless sky. We saw light pillars on the horizon. One reached  high into the sky. They weren’t as strong as have been seen elsewhere, but they were noticeable.

We were really glad that we saw these awesome sights. They were very cool. I don’t have photos because the meteor went too fast and I don’t know how to take good night-time photos. The photo at the top of this page is not mine. It is a royalty free photo by Alexander Andrews which I got from Unsplash.

Hannah Joy

Hannah always watches me from the window when I go out to care for the ducks and chickens in the early morning. This morning I was able to get a photo of her at the window. EJ says that Hannah cries whenever I go outside without her. When I am with Hannah, she stays very close to me. She follows me and either lays at my feet or on my lap. I think she is glad to be loved.

The animal shelter where we adopted Hannah  posted a photo of another dog needing a home at their Facebook page. The dog is a male that looks just like Hannah. EJ is tempted…but one dog at a time is enough for us.

This afternoon when I went out to the garage to clean out the litter boxes, I found that Miss Madeline Meadows, our serial killer cat, had put the remains of her squirrel in their food dish. There’s not much left. Yuck. I got a shovel and–trying not to look at the remains too closely because it grosses me out–I picked it up and carried it to the edge of the forest. I’m really hoping that Madeline won’t bring it back. It’s beginning to have a horror movie-ish sort of feel to it.

Magical Diamond Dust

Magical Snow

The sunrise this morning was gorgeous. The skies were mostly blue all day and the sunlight made the ground sparkle, as if the snow had been replaced with diamond dust. It was absolutely magical and I truly felt as if I live in an Enchanted Forest. I took many photographs, with different settings, but I don’t really know how to photograph magical diamond dust–or maybe magical things can’t be photographed. I was only able to capture a few specks of light instead of the whole glittery landscape.

People are always complaining about the cold, Northern winters or bragging about their tropical weather. I have nothing against people who love the warmth of the South, but I’m glad that I live in the wintry North where the air is brisk and the snow sparkles in the sunlight. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Hannah Joy’s coat

Hannah’s new coat arrived in the mail today. I haven’t gotten a coat for a dog since I was a child (and my dog immediately escaped and “lost” it) but I bought this for Hannah because she had been starved by her previous owners and had no fat to keep her warm. It took several weeks for the coat to arrive because it came all the way from China. I didn’t realize that when I ordered it. I was a bit concerned that it wouldn’t fit her, but it fits just fine and is actually of better quality than I thought it would be, especially since I paid less than $20 for it.

Hannah didn’t seem quite sure of it when I first put it on her, but she’s getting used to it. I think she looks like a proper Michigan dog in her Nordic coat–and I hope it will keep her warm on our cold winter days.

Eight deer came to our feeders today. They always arrive in the late afternoon when I’m busy making supper so I can’t sit and enjoy them as much as I would like. They usually get spooked by my movement, but I got to observe them for a few minutes.

Early this morning I finally brought myself to get rid of Miss Madeline Meadow’s dead squirrel. It was gross because she had been eating it. I tried not to look too closely at it when I scooped it up with a shovel and threw it out near the edge of the forest. This afternoon when I walked through the garage to go out and shut the poultry in the coop for the night, I saw that Madeline had brought the tail back inside. She was gnawing on a bit of flesh that was still attached to the tail. Yuck.

 

 

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