Tuesday, March 7, 2017

shuffling along ~ doing just fine

I've gone over and re-written this blog post several times. I finally decided that instead of ignoring the ugly parts and basically saying, "Oh, I'm doing fine." 
"Everything is just fine."
(the most ambiguous word in the English language), I'd be open and honest about how things are really going. 

Not that I am not truthful on my blog; just that sometimes it's easier to just paint a pretty picture and not leave yourself open and vulnerable. Well, hell, I'm vulnerable and at the mercy of others after having surgery anyway, so I may as well go all out. And be forewarned: this is a wordy post. Get comfortable.

Mind you, I do not want this to be a whiny, looking-for-sympathy post either. What I'm going through after knee surgery is nothing compared to....well, a lot of things. My several girlfriends that have cancer right now (mostly breast; one uterine) immediately come to mind. So does my cousin who recently had a kidney transplant.

It's now six days after knee surgery and I'm pretty much bored out of my gourd. I'm still on crutches, so have to rely on Brian to fix me food, help me shower, bring me a book or magazine (you can't carry anything when you're on crutches - though one time I carried a book between my teeth - you get inventive when you're on crutches) and do the housework and laundry. And, of course, since I can't drive - heck, I can't even get out my front door because of steps - Brian has to do the grocery shopping and other errands. Being at the mercy of another - even your husband - sure is humbling.

Since my leg has to be elevated a lot due to swelling, I spend a lot of time in bed surrounded by kitties and reading material. I've watched so much HGTV and Food Network to where if I never see another episode of Love It or List It, it won't be too soon. I've even watched the Price is Right several times. Talk about desperate! At least I'm not resorting to soap operas. Yet.

 I thought about starting a new series on Netflix, but nothing appealed to me. Plus, while the TV is on, I'm not really watching anyway. I'm usually reading or on my laptop at the same time. A Netflix series would actually require me to pay attention. So maybe lying around doing nothing sounds dreamy for one day, but after that...boring. Let me tell you, it sure makes you realize how "freeing" being mobile truly is. 

The first few days were rough. I had a fair amount of pain and one evening had severe nausea to the point where I hyperventilated. I'm assuming the nausea was from the pain killer (Norco). Another nasty side effect of pain killers and general anesthesia is constipation. No one talks about that - except for your doctor. They told me ahead of time to take Dulcolax. Which I did - three times a day. And still, it didn't help. I upped my fiber and roughage by eating prunes, apples, salad, flax and chia seeds and extra veggies. Still didn't help. It took five days before things umm..."moved along". Funny thing is, I've had two previous surgeries and this hadn't happened to me before, so I wasn't prepared for this little side effect. Just hoping this info helps someone else out there!
*Later edit: forgot to mention that drinking a lot of water helps, and so does coffee.

 I don't have pain anymore; just a lot of pressure, swelling and "uncomfortableness", as I call it. I get up every hour to walk around the house on my crutches. I'm able to put weight on my foot/leg to the point where I'm hoping to graduate to a cane by Friday when I see the doctor for my post-op visit. Then I'll be starting physical therapy next week. I've been doing a couple of very gentle PT exercises at home in the meantime.

Brian doesn't like to cook - it's just not his forte. But, we gotta eat. And there's only so much take-out we can rely on unless we want to eat unhealthy every day - which we don't. One dish he can handle is meatloaf. He did have a little help with suggestions from me, but he pretty much made it on his own by using both ground beef and pork, onions and celery, eggs, panko bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, seasoned salt and pepper. He then made a sauce for topping using organic ketchup (no high fructose corn syrup!), mustard, vinegar and a little brown sugar. He glazed the top of the meatloaves, wrapped them in bacon, then added another layer of glaze. He also made baked sweet potatoes. Dinner was delicious! PS - Brian's been pretty much a saint; although he's had his crabby moments, which I don't blame him. He's probably looking forward to going back to work. ;-)

Another thing I've learned is, that you will be surprised who checks in with you, who sends cards, who offers to visit. What's more surprising is, those whom you would expect to, but don't. I remember from other difficult circumstances in my life - the worst of course, being the passing of my oldest son, Philip back in 2009 - that the most thoughtful, generous people were the unassuming ones.

When Brian went to Trader Joe's a few days ago, my favorite employee sent this bouquet of flowers home with Brian for me. He had remembered that I was having surgery and actually asked Brian how I was doing. Isn't that incredibly thoughtful?

And yesterday, I received two cards in the mail (one from a blogger friend), which totally made my day.

This book also arrived in the mail, but it was a present from myself. ;-) I'm sure most of you are familiar with the author, Elizabeth Berg. If you follow her on Facebook, you will know that she posts uplifting snippets of everyday life. Posts that make you smile and give a little pick-me-up. There were several FB readers that asked her to compile some of these short essays into a book. This is the result. I haven't read the book yet, but I plan to today. Even the cover makes me smile. I have a feeling this book would be a great gift for anyone who is feeling down or is physically ill. 

Now go out and make someone happy, starting with yourself. And when asked how you're doing, remember that the word "fine" is not in your vocabulary.


  1. Bless your heart. Things will get better I guarantee it :) It's very hard being grounded to the house and even to a chair or bed. These are the times that we truly put great appreciation on the joys of feeling normal and ordinary. Happy reading!
    Connie :)

  2. I appreciate your candor in this post. This is definitely one of the times when "just fine" doesn't cut it! In keeping with the theme of the book by E. Berg -- and the fact that you are such a good writer -- I thought I would mention a project called Girls Love Mail (you can google it). Just a suggestion for how to while away the hours. I've been through three foot surgeries and I can really relate to watching HGTV. My show was Property Brothers, and to this day, I've never watched it again. I can remember thinking that once I could walk freely again, I would never procrastinate another thing. Thank you for reminding me of that! Hang in there, Melanie.

  3. I was thinking of you and wondering how everything was going. I was also a nurse for the past how many days, as sweetie had his other shoulder operated on last week. He had the same issue with the pain pills, and finally got 'movement' yesterday. :) I hear your pain, sister, I had my ACL rebuilt a few years back and they used my hamstring to rebuild it. I was non weight bearing for 6 weeks, 6 months of PT, and total recovery time of over a year. Is it any wonder I'm hesitant to strap on the skis these days? Wishing you a speedy recovery, my friend. xoxo

  4. Not being mobile is certainly not on the fun list! I am not mobile much of the time, so I feel your pain. Speaking of pain, I only take the pain pills for a day or two. Of course, your pain level may be high. I can't take the "not being able to go part!" There are times I sure wish I had someone to cook for me. I usually cook one thing one day, like meatloaf or cornbread. Then can stand the next day long enough to put potatoes or something together. Simply can't do it all at one time. Hope you're off the crutches soon!

  5. Being immobile certainly makes you realize just how much we take for granted. Our ankles and knees take a lot of abuse throughout our lives, and they need to be strong to keep us going for a very long time. Too bad you don't crochet. That would certainly keep you busy and time always passes so quickly. That's why I take it wherever I go. Take care! You'll be good as new in no time.

  6. You've been on my mind, Melanie. I'm sorry for not checking in earlier but I've been very sick since late last week. So sick, in fact, that my husband had to postpone his knee surgery until next month because he needs me to be functional to help him recover and I've been down for the count. I think my fever is finally broken now after six days, whew. It's a bad sinus infection, I'll be fine, but it's knocked me out. I'm sorry you're feeling bored and restless but I am sure it will be over soon and you'll feel much better than you did before the surgery. It sounds like your husband has been very helpful and I'm so glad. Take care and hang in there, you're on the road to recovery now.

  7. Oh dear Melanie ~ Your post has put a smile on my face today with your 'honest' post about how you are doing. I really liked the picture of 'why' to drink coffee!

    Hang in there, this will all be a thing of the past and you'll remember the loving care from Brian and those delicious looking meatloaves. Makes my mouth water. It is hard being a care taker and hard being the one that is immobile.

    Love, hugs & prayers ~ FlowerLady

  8. I am glad you are coming along, Melanie...surgery is always a stressful, hard time. And it really does get old quickly when you are dependent and can't do what you want! I've had quite a few past surgeries including two that had me in hospital for 10 days each, so I'm prepared for what's coming. I think the thing I'm most not looking forward to is taking painkillers...I HATE them, but you need them. I've been cooking double and freezing, and luckily my hubby has family sick leave to help me through. But I can't say I'm looking forward to any part except having it over with. Seems like I've been reading about quite a few people getting knee surgery lately...we need to start a club lol. Hope you start to feel much better soon! xoxo

  9. Crap! I just lost my whole comment. I HATE when that happens. anyway- briefly (this time) I said that my friend, Jettie, just had her second knee done and she is now using a cane and bent her knee to 116 degrees this week. Some of her therapy has been kind of rough but it is because her back is screwed up, too. It was much easier for her therapy on her first knee she said.
    Sounds like hubby is doing a good job taking care of you. I would probably starve to death if I was bed bound. lol (well-that would take a LONG time-let me tell you).
    Have a good night. I am kind of Netflixed out, too. lol xo Diana

  10. Good to see an update from you, Melanie. I have been thinking of you. It's good to hear that your sense of humor is still intact as I'm sure it comes in handy right about now for you and your hubby. There are a lot of things that come into play that many of us don't think about unless we have firsthand experience. I once spent many months on crutches and learned how difficult it was to cook during that time for the very reason that it was impossible to carry most things from one place to another. I remember making trips to the mailbox with a plastic bag just to have some feeling of accomplishment for the day.
    I hope the worst of it is behind you and your recovery moves forward in a smooth fashion.

  11. Great post Mel....
    Hang in there...healing takes time.
    Kudos to hubby...he must love you!
    Good wishes to get back on your feet soon...
    Linda :o)

  12. Working in healthcare as I do, one learns that "How are you?" is a loaded question. Your complaints are the same as my husband's after his hip replacement surgery and it's the new pain meds they prescribe that do a number on you. I hope you're through the worst of it and are allowed more moving about after your post-op visit. Thank goodness your hubby has been a big help to you!

    How sweet of the TJ employee to send you a bouquet of flowers!

    Here's to better days ahead! Take care.

  13. I use the 'fine' way too much myself. I think you are doing great! The post-op pain is always ugly and the poop issues that no one talks about can make you feel awful, so I'm glad that moved on. :) Your husband is doing great and you know it's hard to be a caretaker even for a few weeks. Love the honesty and your attitude. You will be up and about soon I hope. Hugs!

  14. Well, my surgery was yesterday, and I'm feeling pretty well. Slept decent, and not too much pain. I haven't taken any pail pills yet today, and hopefully won't have to! Sorry to hear your healing is slower than you'd like it to be. PT will help a lot, I swear!

  15. Awwww..... I feel awful, Melanie. I had no idea you were going into surgery, because I was behind in my blog reading. I'm so sorry your recovery isn't going well and I hope it gets better very soon. I'm so glad that Brian is there to take care of you and that your mom helped out with dinner too.

    I know what you mean about Love it or List it. They play that damn show way too much. "So, are you going to love it.... or list it?" UGH. Enough already! lol

    Anyway, I'm praying that you're up and moving soon, my friend.


  16. I'd say you're doing great! I'm a bit of an expert on knee surgeries because my husband has had 8 on 1 knee and 1 on the other.
    He doesn't like the narcotic pain killers, he has the same side effects as you suffered through and they make his face itch. So he only took them to get through the early, worst pain as the side effects aren't worth the benefit.
    He would tell you to take your physical therapy seriously but I'm sure you are.

  17. I'm glad you are up and around and doing things.

    Hang in there and you'll be in PT before you know it.

  18. Melanie, I beg to differ: I think you've been quite creative in view of your immobility! I've learned some things about post knee surgery, been introduced to Elizabeth Berg, who I will immediately google after I leave you to your recuperation, and lastly, that beautiful bouquet from a very thoughtful and sweet employee of your supermarket just put a smile on my face!

    Take care!


  19. I hope the boredom passes...reading helps me! I know you said you do not want to find something new on Netflix...but I would highly recommend one of those fantastic British series they have on there now :)

  20. It's nice to read you're feeling a little better. I do hope you get that upgrade to cane tomorrow as you wish it. About TV when you're in pain (from someone who is chronically in pain), a word: reruns. I can only watch shows that I like and already know when I'm in crisis as I can't concentrate on something new.

  21. Ok there are a bazillion things that I could comment on here but here is one :) Coffee and pooping! :) I quilt, so I have alot of quilting blogs and friends that I visit. One is Mormon and last year she did a series of posts about being Mormon...theology, practices, etc.

    Well many people renounce alcohol and drugs but the Mormoms don't drink tea or coffee? And my private reaction to her ( since we were friends already somewhat ) in email was an honest inquiry as to how do you poop without that! :)

    Amusement during intense boredom...I don't have cable TV or any TV at all. If you are bored with Netflix perhaps try a free trial on Amazon...see if they have anything better? I have Amazon Prime and recently signed up for Acorn TV which has a lot of British and other classy dramas and there is a free trial. You Tube...go there and just about type in anything that remotely interests you and a lot will pop up.

    That's all that I can think of aside from books and just maybe throwing stuff randomly at a wall and screaming for a few minutes.

    My brother-in-law had knee surgery a few years ago and I know that he had to deal with a lot of pain and frustration ...it's not an easy time / it's quite awful :(

  22. Oh Melanie, I know this is not easy. Being physically compromised is not fun. Your brain wants and needs to do more than your body allows. It sounds like you have a very capable caregiver (and chef, albeit reluctant!) and I hope that you are literally back on your feet again, super soon. Hang in there!! :)

  23. YOu can talk to us about anything, isn't that what friends are for? I am so sorry it has been so hard, but I know it is going to get better. Enjoy your time of rest and let others take care of you for once. Hugs.

  24. It is frustrating when you can't do the things you want to do, I hope you will make a speedy recovery. When I was on crutches with a broken foot if I didn't want to eat in the kitchen I would make a flask of coffee, prepare a sandwich, put it in a tupperware container, then put them in a rucksack and carry them into the lounge!

  25. Oh Melanie, of course it's been rough. When almost everything depends on someone else, even a loved one, after a few days it has to be so difficult. And I remember the dreaded constipation after every surgery--this alone makes anyone so on edge if not downright grumpy. And with the pain, this is definitely not time to be putting on an everything's fine face.

    Blog friends want their blog friends to be real about stuff like this. It may even be a way to relieve some of the frustration of this time period. I hope you can go to a cane soon but the important thing is to be careful of your balance and not injure yourself with a wrong step. And that means something that will be difficult for a hard worker like you, and that is not to get in a hurry.

    Your husband sounds like a keeper! And he knows, I'm sure, that you would do the same thing for you. My husband and I have both had to be caregivers for each other after surgeries and believe me we've not always been a perfect Mary Sunshine Nurse all the time. I remember counting down the minutes until I could give him his next pain meds after surgery when he blew his knee years ago, because he became angelic for a while after taking it!

    Let us know regularly what your days are like, progress made, frustrations you're experiencing. We have broad shoulders and can take it!
    A gentle hug to you,

  26. Just checking in.... I hope you're doing okay.



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