Monday, December 23, 2013

Lumosity - Brain Training

You may have seen commercials on TV for a website called Lumosity.  After seeing the commercials last summer, I checked it out.  This is a website that provides short games (most are about 2 min.)  that are supposedly designed to help keep your brain active, and also to help you with visual perception, speed, accuracy, etc...  I enjoy playing some games online, and I am also feeling the need, more than ever before, to do things to keep my brain active and nimble.  I have really noticed an over-50-memory-thing going on, and it scares me a bit.  I have more trouble than ever before remembering  names.

So.... I checked out the website.  You are allowed to poke around on it, and play some games for free.  I did that for most of the summer, and after a few months of doing the freebie thing, I signed up for a year's membership.  As a member, the website keeps track of the games I play and the scores I get, then it rates me in several categories:  BPI - Brain Performance Index (this is based on top scores in the other categories), Speed, Memory, Attention, Flexibility, Problem Solving. It also compares me to others in my age bracket (5 year range) in these categories.

As of now there are 45 games on the site.  They fall into the categories above, and some apply to more than one category.  Each day I am given a list of 5 games to play - my daily workout. I can also play any of the other games as many times as I want to.  So, if I feel I want to work on my memory, I can choose to play memory games, etc...  I get points for playing games:  1 pt just for playing a game, 2 pts for scoring in my top 5 scores for that game and 3 pts for having a new high score.

Today, my lowest category is Speed where I am in the 65th percentile in my peer group.  My best category is Attention where I rank in the 91.5th percentile.  My overall BPI is in the 85th percentile.  I'm ok with Speed being my lowest category - I'd rather be accurate than fast.

I can really tell a difference in my performance based on the time of day that I play.  On Sat. and Sun. when I tend to play in the morning, I do better.  My worst time to play is right after school.  Late in the evening, when I think I'm sleepy, I usually end up doing better than I think I will.  I think I am more relaxed at that time of day and even if I'm tired/sleepy, I still do better than right after school.

There are a lot of games I enjoy playing, but there is one that I am obsessed with.  It is called Train of Thought. I think I've played it at least 5-10 times a day for months. This game is designed to help the player learn to avoid distraction and concentrate better thus increasing productivity.  The game layout is a series of train tracks that lead to various colored stations.  Then colored trains come out of a mountain tunnel, and you have to guide them to the appropriate station.  There are switching circles on the track where you turn the train 90 degrees.  So you have to work fast to get the switches turned for each train to get them into the right station.  When you start playing, you get 2 or 3 stations and about 25 trains.  Then, as you succeed with a certain accuracy rate, you are given another station and another...  I have worked my way up to 14 stations and 50 trains.  In order to move from #13 to #14, I could only miss 1 train!  There were several levels were I got stuck and thought I would never get the next station, but each time I've made it after many many tries.  I am now at the top level, and I have to get all the trains in their correct stations in order to win this level.  I play it once (a round lasts about 2 min.), then I say "one more time"... then I say "one more time"... then 30 min later I finally say ENOUGH!  I don't know what will happen if I ever win this level.  The irony is, this is still a Beta game on the site, so it isn't in the daily rotation of work-out choices.  Playing it so much is skewing my BPI. I've played 236 games and well over 100 have been this Train game.  I can live with that!

There are several games that focus on visual perception and peripheral vision.  I really like those as well.  There is one called Eagle Eye where it give you a background of a nature scene, and you are supposed to focus on the center dot.  Then it will flash a number or letter in the center while it also flashes a bird flying somewhere else on the screen.  After it clears, you have to click where you saw the bird, and then tell what the number or letter in the center was.  You get points based on how close you came to identifying where the bird was flashed.  It's very fast, and it get faster the better you are at it.

There is another game where the board is a maze divided in half.  The computer plays the right side, and you have to play the left.  You have to maneuver a penguin through the maze using the arrow keys, and you have to get to the fish in the center before the computer penguin... but the maze keeps turning, and it turns more often and faster the higher you go in the levels and at each level the maze is more complex than the previous maze!  Whew!  That one really freaked me out for awhile, then one day, it just clicked and I "got" it.   Now I can proceed through quite a few levels before I use up my 3 allotted penguins.

Another of my favorites is called Route to Sprout.  You are in a field with holes.  You have to figure out the quickest path over the holes to plant your seed at the end - you have to move bugs out of the way to step over a hole.  One thing I like about this is that it isn't about speed; it's about thinking and solving the puzzle.  I usually do fairly well at this one, but I can really tell when I'm tired if I try to play this - sometimes I just sit there and look at it, and other times, the solution comes to me fairly quickly and easily.  Of course, this one gets more difficult the more you play it, too.

If you like to do challenging mind-puzzles that will help keep your brain in tune, I recommend checking this out.  You can play some of the games for free to see if you like it.  It provides a bit more variety than playing Sudoku (which I also like to do).

Thanks for reading and don't forget to feed the fishies!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

She's a little bit country.... and he's...

.... so damn hot!  WHEW!

Those of you who are over 40 probably get my reference and know I'm speaking of

Donny & Marie Osmond

On Thursday night 12/19/13, I had the privilege of attending the Donny & Marie Christmas Concert here in Columbus.  It was held at the Schottenstein Center.  A colleague at school had an extra ticket, so I attended with her and her mother.  We all had a fabulous time and enjoyed the concert immensely.  

This is the first time I've seen them perform live, and they do a very energetic and entertaining show.  They are both true entertainers and clearly love being on stage.  I knew they were both great singers, but I didn't realize how versatile they are, especially Marie.  She can sing everything from Opera to Broadway to Pop and she does it all with high energy and humor.  

While this show was billed as a Christmas show, there was a lot of non-Christmas music mixed in.  They both did some of their classic hits from back when they looked like this:

Donny even sang Puppy Love.  As he sang on the stage in a very classy suit and tie, the video screen above him was showing him singing "back in the day".

The mature women of the audience obliged him by screaming just as we did as girls when we were all teenagers.  Donny has now turned his famed Puppy Love into a connection with the American Humane
Association to encourage the adoption of puppies, and that was promoted during the show.

They also sang a lot of Broadway music.  I didn't remember that Marie had been Anna in The King & I on Broadway in '98.  She came out in a dress from the show and sang a couple of songs.  She was every bit as good as anyone else I've ever heard in that role.  

I also didn't remember knowing that Donny had portrayed Gaston in Beauty & The Beast.  He sang some songs from that show as well.  

Of course, he was also the consummate lead in Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in '99.

Donny sang at least 2 songs that he wrote in tribute.  He sang a song that he wrote to his parents.  He sat at the piano and played while he sang that song.  Meanwhile, images of his parents/family scrolled on the big screens above the stage.  Of course, that one made me cry.  Here is a family photo of Mom & Dad with all 9 children:

 Then he talked about celebrating his 35th anniversary with his wife Debbie (married in '78), and he sang a song he wrote about all the words you should say in a good relationship.  It was very touching.  
Together they have 5 sons: Donny Jr., Jeremy, Brandon, Christopher and Joshua, and quite a few grandchildren.  

Both Donny and Marie interacted a lot with the audience.  They both went down on the floor and shook hands and hugged people.  Here is a link to a video from our concert with Donny greeting his adoring fans:

Marie called a man up on stage.  His name was Chris, and he was clearly very nervous.  She got him to "sort of" sing with her, Blue Christmas.  It was very cute.  She also invited him and his wife to come backstage after the show.  She asked the wife if she could have Chris, to which the wife replied, "If I can have Donny."
Marie said, "Merry Christmas!"

These 2 performers are amazing.  They have managed to handle show business careers for their entire lives (Donny was introduced on the Andy Williams show when he was 5) while raising large families.  Never have we heard the story that is so typical of child-stars - of substance abuse and cycles of rehab.

Donny sang Moon River in tribute to his mentor Andy Williams.  That one made me cry too!  
This photo includes the youngest Osmond, Jimmy:

I could go on for another hour, and add a million more photos (Just search on Google Images and you'll find more than you can handle!), but I think you get the point by now.  This was a FABULOUS concert, and I'm so thrilled that I got to go!  Thanks to Ree and Janie for welcoming me into their family for the evening - we had a great time!!

Thanks to my loyal fans for reading, and don't forget to give the fish their Christmas Treats!

:) Amy

New Knee News

Hello again!  I passed my 6 month anniversary on December 11 with much appreciation for my new knee.  I just re-read my Sept 11 update, and I can see some improvements from that.  The night-time aching is now gone.  I can't remember the last time Bessie woke me up begging for a position change.  I do still get little reminders once in awhile - little pains - but they are minor and very short-lived.

I've been to Water Aerobics once a week for the last few weeks.  It does feel good to be in the pool, and even better in the hot tub.  There I do exercises - both squeezing and stretching, and I also kneel on the bottom of the hot tub.  THAT is a good stretch as well.  I can really feel that in my quads.  I can tell if I've done enough exercises the next day when I am a little achy.

Tillie, the old knee, got sort of whiney at the grocery store recently, and I sat down for a bit to rest her, but she doesn't usually inhibit me from doing what I want to do.  I want to put off her redo for as long as I can. Right now I'm thinking June of 2015 at the earliest. We'll see.

So, that's the 6 month update.  Bessie is well and happy, and I'm very happy I had her done!

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Results Are In!

Results to what, you ask?  Well, the MetroParks held a nature photography competition.  Hubs and I entered a total of 8 photos.  This weekend they were displayed at our park, and the exhibit will travel to other parks in the area for the next 3 weeks.

We were there almost when the display opened at 11 am Saturday morning!  Alas, none of our photos won, but they were there among many others, and they fit in well.  There really weren't any "bad" photos, and we felt ours held their own.

One thing we did notice was that all of the winners had submitted larger prints - usually 8x10, matted with a larger mat.  I submitted all 5x7, matted with 8x10 mats.  Lesson learned for the next time we try this.  Indeed in 2004 when I won 2nd place with one of mine, it was a larger print also.  HHmmmm.... interesting.

Here are the photos we submitted.  You may have seen some of them here before, but for the sake of keeping the contest entries together, I'm putting them all here:

It is still possible that one of ours could win the People's Choice Award, but given the large number of great entries, I think the odds of that are slim.  It was great fun to see all the entries, and we've already starting discussing what we might work on for the next contest.  

Hope you enjoyed our photos!

Thanks for stopping by!  Come back again soon, and don't forget to feed the fish!


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Another Milestone

I have been somewhat lax in my posting recently - I apologize to my faithful readers.  There have been some milestones passed in the last week regarding my knee surgery recovery.  On September 11, I reached the 3 month mark in my recovery process.  Tuesday, September 10 was actually the 13th week since the June 11 surgery date.  

My physical therapist told me that by 3 months I should be able to do whatever I want to do.  So, let's analyze that.   What did I want to be able to do:

  • Do an entire grocery shopping trip without having to sit down - CHECK
  • Hike a trail at my favorite park - CHECK
  • Do necessary shopping at a mall or clothing store - CHECK
  • Play 9 holes of golf (with a cart) - haven't tried that yet (too busy)
  • Be able to go up and down steps as necessary - CHECK (sort of - as long as there is a handrail)
  • Be able to sleep through the night without aching legs waking me up - Not exactly
  • Be able to forget I had knee surgery - Not quite there yet
In general, I would say that it is true that I can do pretty much what I want to do now.  

I am confident that I could play golf if I tried.  Ironically, I think the process of getting in and out of the cart would be more of an issue than actually playing or walking.  Although it would be best for me to drive the cart so I am entering on the left side, thus pulling Bessie in after I'm seated as I do in a car.  

Bessie still has swelling which leads to stiffness.  When I get up from sitting, if I've been sitting for more than about 10 minutes, she is very stiff, and I have to get her going by walking.  If I sit for an hour (at a meeting at school, for example) then it takes several minutes of walking to get the stiffness out.  I have gotten in the habit of working her under the table when I'm sitting for long periods.  That helps.

If I walk a lot (like at the park) then there is a different sensation.  It isn't stiffness, but it is a tiredness.  So, there is a sweet-spot in between being stiff from lack of use and being sore from over-use.  That sweet-spot is fairly small at this point.  My understanding and my expectation is that as time goes on the sweet-spot will grow, and the opposite ends of the spectrum will shrink.  

Yesterday, Hubs and I tried a new hike at the park.  We walked a gravel trail rather than a paved trail.  We went through the the woods.  I haven't walked that trail for YEARS - we never attempted it with the wheelchair.  He was concerned about my slipping on the gravel or tripping over tree roots - I did neither.  I actually walked very well and felt confident on the trail.  Even with slight inclines, I was fine.  Granted, we didn't go fast - we weren't power-walking, but we didn't creep along either.  I felt we walked at a very comfortable pace.  This was the shorter of the 2 woods trails.  Next time we will try the longer one which is partially boardwalk and may be partially wood chips rather than gravel.

At night, I still deal with aching at times.  It seems that any position I choose gets achy after an hour or two at the most.  Bessie also gets achy when I try to nap in the recliner with my legs up.  It helps to put a pillow under her, but even with that, 30 minutes is about the limit of having my legs up/out in the recliner.  I don't really understand why that is different than lying in bed, but it is.

So that's my 3 month update.  Yes, I can mostly do what I want to do now - many things that I couldn't or wouldn't do before surgery.  The 6th month mark is supposed to be when I can forget I had surgery.  Stay tuned for the December 11 update!!

Thanks for hanging with me through all of this!  I'll talk to you again soon.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

More Nature Sharing

Thanks to Hubs' great camera-work, I have some fabulous photos to share.  First we have Monty the Praying Mantis who was on a bush in the front of New House:

Then there is Hummy who was on a Zinnia in the Way Back at New House - this sequence was shot from the porch, quite a distance:

How cute is that?!

I hope everyone enjoys a great Holiday Weekend!  It is a humid one here in central O-H-I-O !!

We'll talk again soon!


Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Bun-i-ful year

It has been a Buniful year at  Old House.  There have been times we've seen as many as 6 bunnies in the yard at once.  Most often we see 3 or 4.  Last night we got to enjoy a tiny baby.  We had seen a baby this small once in the spring, but he didn't hang around long.  Last night he was bopping around for a couple of hours at least.  It is hard to see his size from the pictures, but he is just a little handful of fur.

I hope you get to enjoy a bunny sometime soon, too!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

More walking!

I just realized it's been more than a week since I've given a leg/walking progress report.  I am excited to report that today we went to our favorite park and walked for about a hour and a half!  Bessie got along very well.  She was tired, but there were no "issues" with the long walk.  The biggest accomplishment was that we went down a hill to a part of the park we haven't been able to visit for several years!

Most of the park is fairly level, and while Hubs was pushing me in the wheelchair for the last 2 summers, we stayed up on that level area.  There is a section that goes down a fairly steep hill, and we didn't venture down there when he would have had to try to push me back up.  Today we walked down the hill, around the lower area, and back up again!!!  We got to see the 2nd frog pond, and the ruins (a manufactured "ruins" area that is quite picturesque).

It was a gorgeous day for a walk in the park.  Temp was in the 70's with low humidity.  We seldom go there in the morning, so it was fun to get to see things in a different light.  (Today we were there from 10-11:30 am.)  Here are some of our finds:

First, a frog and water lily from pond #1 that we usually go to:

Next some frogs and a water lily from the lower pond that we haven't been to for years:

Here is a particularly tiny frog - I would estimate him to be about the size of a quarter:

These roses were right by where we parked:

Ya gotta love the woodland creatures that pose:

So that was today's adventure!  Thanks for letting me share... come back again soon!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

A New Item

A few entries back, I mentioned that Hubs and I had gone to some stores in search of a chair for the living room.  For the last year, we've only had a 3-seat couch and 1 chair which makes for awkward seating for 4 people who want to converse.  However, the room is small and the furniture is big - there is that Baby Grand Piano, after all - so our choice of a new chair has some serious size limitations.

Today, I went on a reconnaissance mission to a Home Goods store that a friend had recommended.  My plan was to scope the place for chairs and then take Hubs back there tomorrow if I found any good prospects.  Instead, today, I came home with a chair in the back of the PT Cruiser!  I saw it - I liked it - I made an executive decision!  We had to do some rearranging to get it in, but I'm very happy with the way this completes the living room!

This is a Lane recliner and is black and white.  Because of its location, it will not be a TV-viewing chair.  I am going to get a lamp or move one over by it, so it will be a reading chair and possibly a nap chair, but also a chair to make a proper conversation group in the living room.  It is very comfy and is the perfect size for me - it is an "Amy Chair".  It is also Made In America, which I LOVE!  

Talk to you again soon!


DA Summary

As of yesterday, I had managed to finish watching all 25 episodes of the 3 seasons of Downton Abbey.  I was hooked from the first episode I watched, and I was very anxious to see each new installment.  I purposely spread them out over the summer so I could savor them; I never let myself watch more than 1 episode per day.

Those of you who know the story will understand how upset I was at the end of the last episode.  Matthew is dead!  NO!  How can this be?!  We've all invested 3 years in watching his character development and learning to love him!  How can he be taken away from us like this?  I understand that Dan Stevens who plays Matthew asked to leave the show to pursue other interests.  I hope he ends up appreciating that choice, but it is hard to understand any actor wanting to leave such a high-profile and successful series.

While Matthew's death is tragic and traumatic, the death of Lady Sybil was, of course, the most heart-wrenching part of the series so far.  I don't know how many women typically died in childbirth in the early 1920s in England, but in some ways this seems to be an historical reference and "sign of the times".  We had already seen the family affected by death on the Titanic, death during WWI, death from Spanish Flu, and now death in childbirth.

I found an interesting article online that deals with this issue.  The only statistic it provides is this: "In 1920, for example, statistics suggested 1,200 of the 6,000 maternal deaths each year were caused by Eclampsia. The only “cure” for pre-Eclampsia and Eclampsia was the removal of the products of conception—delivery. "   The rest of the article can be seen here.

One of the things I've enjoyed is that the DVDs I've been getting from Netflix sometimes include Special Features which discuss the making of the episodes.  I am fascinated by the production side of the show.  The house, of course, is just itself, although a set had to be built on a sound stage at another location for the downstairs part of the show because the kitchen in Highclere Castle has been modernized.  The costuming is amazing and strives very much to be historically accurate.  It seems that none of the upstairs women ever wear the same thing twice - even outerwear like coats.  I've heard the same of British Royalty.  Of course, to those of us Middle Class here in America, that seems to be such a huge waste, but it is just one example of the lifestyle being depicted.

Some of the cast members commented on the fact that one of the remarkable things about this production is the fact that it is original.  It isn't derived from a book or any other source.  I agree that is an important factor.   To start from scratch on this huge undertaking is quite impressive.   I am also very impressed by the complexity of the story as well as the complexity of the historical aspects that are interwoven into the plot.  As the family navigates the events of WWI, we see how people dealt with the war's effects - on society, not just on individuals.  The realization that Lady Edith has that most of the eligible young men of her generation have either been killed or seriously wounded is one of the factors that leads her to choose to marry a man her father's age.  Although it hadn't been named as such yet in 1920, indeed, we now refer to "the lost generation" of WWI.  And then there are the other changes society felt as a result of the war.  The lifestyle of the aristocracy was being challenged in new ways.  Few young people were going into a life of service to the wealthy class because they were choosing instead to work in factories or to go into other, more lucrative, jobs that didn't carry the social stigma of the aristocracy.  Lord Robert, the master of the castle so to speak, is forced to change his way of managing the estate or risk losing it.

As I've mentioned here before, the absolute shining star of the entire project is Dame Maggie Smith who plays the Grand Dame of the family, Lady Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham.  In almost every episode there is something she says or does that makes me laugh out loud.  More than once, I've had to rewind to hear her amusing line again or see the face she makes at something.  I could go on for the next hour quoting her.  You can Google "Lady Violet Crawley Quotes" and get an entire Wiki devoted to the character and her witticisms.

In one of the early episodes, she goes to Matthew's office, and sits in a swivel chair.  She's never sat in one before, so when it moves, it catches her off-guard and she asks what new kind of chair this is (thinking it is broken, I think).  Matthew explains that in fact it is an old design that originated with Thomas Jefferson, to which she replies in her very droll and understated way, "Why does every day involve a fight with an American?" Her expression as she says it is absolutely priceless!

If you've watched the show, you know what I mean about Maggie.  If you haven't, then nothing I say will help you truly appreciate the brilliance of this amazing actress.  For me, she is the icing on the cake and makes the show worth all the time I've invested in it!

And so, I will send back my last disc.  The wait begins for Season 4 in January.  There's a lot of news about Season 4 on the internet.  I may read some of it to help me get my fix in the meantime.  If you haven't watched it, I urge you to check it out.  I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 9, 2013

PT Evaluation and Progress at 8 weeks

When I arrived at my PT session yesterday, Kristen informed me that it was time for her to do an evaluation.  We sat and talked first.  She asked me a lot of questions about my progress:  How was I sleeping? (I told her I sleep well.)  What did I still feel uncomfortable doing? (stairs, mainly because I haven't tried)  How close do I feel I am to being able to do the things I want to do? (75%?)

Then we went for a walk.  We went out of the PT area to the stairway off the main lobby of the building.  The stairwell was nice - carpeted and with nice hand-rails on both sides.  I told her I had not done a staircase yet.  We started with going down.  I was allowed to hold on to the rails on both sides, but she wanted me to go down with 1 foot per step - like normal, healthy people do.  Much to my surprise and delight, I was able to do it!  I went down about 24 stairs.  Then we turned around and came back up - again, with 1 foot per step.  That actually seemed easy to me, but I don't think I would have tried it without holding on.  It greatly eased my mind to know I could do a stairway like that.  Both my home and my school are virtually stairs-free, but the rest of the world isn't.

Kristen also measured me again.  I was able to get to 104 degrees on the bend, and I was still at 5 degrees on the flattening.  I'm happy with that.

Then we had a talk about my future visits.  According to my insurance company, I have 4 left for the calendar year.  She asked if I wanted to use them all or save some.  She suggested that a lot of people like to save a few just in case something else comes up.  I told her I wanted to do what was best for my progress.  She said that since I'm going back to school and will be getting all the exercise from that - and also starting back to water aerobics in Sept, that maybe I should save the remaining sessions.  She also then revealed to me that Aug 22 will be her last day in this office as she has taken a job at a different therapy office where she will be the manager.

I had already scheduled the last 4 for the next 4 weeks, but after our conversation, I decided to cancel 3 of the 4.  I will get my last session in with her before she leaves and then I will save the last 3.  She said I can transfer to the other office if I want to do more sessions later.

And so, I am being phased out of physical therapy.  I am not doing many exercises at home now.  This past week, I went to school 4 of the 5 days, and I felt that was therapy since I was walking a lot and moving things, etc...  I have still done my Zebra squeezes each night before bed.  I will probably exercise some this weekend, but I imagine I will be very tired next week with going back to school.

I am still stiff when I've been sitting for awhile, but I feel that when I am up and moving around, much of my swelling and stiffness is greatly reduced.  I feel that once I get moving, I don't limp much, if at all, and sometimes that limp comes from the other leg.  I still get occasional pains in Bessie, but they are very brief.

 My scar changes color.  Sometimes it is dark reddish-purple. Sometimes it is pink.  Sometimes it is very hard to see and sometimes it really stands out.  I was able to show it off to some colleagues this week.  I referred to it as my "red badge of courage".  I still put scar gel on after I shower.

Hubs asked if I ever forget I had surgery.  I do.  It usually isn't long before something reminds me though.  Occasionally when I'm lying in bed, I think, "Wow - nothing hurts!"  And I try to savor that feeling as long as I can!

I start back to water aerobics on Sept 3; however, Sept 11 is the next milestone for me - that will be 3 months.  I hope to be able to report significant changes by then.

I'll keep you posted on how Bessie gets along at school.  I have my story to tell in response to "what did you do this summer?"   "Oh, I read a lot of books and watched a lot of TV and movies, and I got out of doing yard work!"  How could a summer be more perfect than that?!

We'll talk again soon...


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Movie Review - The Lucky One

Yes, it's another Nicholas Sparks book.  Yes, it's another chick-flick.

I had read this book a least a year ago, so I wasn't as clear on the details as I was on the previous Sparks book/movie combo that I reported on.  I pulled my book off the shelf and did a quick review.

The book is set in North Carolina, as are most of Spark's books.  The movie was set in Louisiana.  I have read online that Louisiana offers huge tax incentives to film companies to do their movies there.  The article I read speculated that was why the change was made.

As with Safe Haven, my previous review, the book version of The Lucky One is much more complex and offers some plot elements that are not included in the movie.  The more I thought about it, the more similarities I found between these two movies:

  • They are both primarily love stories with happy endings.  
  • In both cases one of the people in the romance also has a child or children, and at some point in the story, that child is put in danger and is rescued by the other person in the romance.  
  • In both stories, one of the people has traveled a long distance to a new area where the love interest lives.  
  • Both stories are set in quaint small towns, and there is some sort of water and boat involvement.  
  • Most noticeably, however, is the fact that both stories involve the woman in the relationship coming from a previous relationship that was abusive. 
  •  In both cases the woman was strong enough to flee the abusive relationship and/or stand up to the bully-husband.  
  • In both cases, it is that abusive husband who causes the big crisis (the climax of the story) that the child has to be rescued from.  
  • In both cases, the abusive husband dies as a result of the crisis. 
  • In both cases, the couple and child/children live happily together after the crisis is over.
Sounds like 2 versions of the same story, doesn't it?!

I do enjoy reading Nicholas Sparks books.  I like his writing style.  However, I hope that the next one I read will have a new and unique plot.  

Thanks for reading!



Sunday, August 4, 2013

New Exercises Added

My loyal readers will remember my rant about my new shoes reducing my swelling.  I just wanted to report that I expressed that same revelation to my PT on Thurs.  She implied that yes, she had known by saying, "I'm Sorry," when I said I didn't know why no one told me.  However, that was all she said, and then we moved on to other topics.  But I knew and she knew I knew and I knew she knew I knew!!

Kristen also gave me 2 new exercises that were extremely difficult!  Ok - now you try them as I describe them:

1 - Stand on one foot.  It's ok, you can hold on to something if you need to.  Now, bend the knee you are standing on - as far as you can - and straighten back up again.  Easy?  Ha!  For you, maybe!  But it wasn't easy for Bessie.  Let me tell you, she did NOT like this one at all! Let's do that 20 times, please!

2 - Stand with both feet up on a step (we use a 6" box at therapy).  Put one foot forward down onto the floor - pick the leg that is your strongest to put down.  Notice your weaker leg/foot is still on the box.  Now back yourself up so both feet are back up on the box.  Uh huh - yeah!  Not quite easy-peasy is it?!  Try doing THAT when the weaker leg has a 7" zipper down the front!  Bessie was like, "WHAT? SERIOUSLY?"  Yeah, then do that 20 times!!!  ARE YOU KIDDING???  Luckily I was standing next to a counter, and I could use my arms to pull myself up.  This time it was 95% arm strength that got me through, but I know there will come a time when she'll make me do that one out in the middle of the room with nothing to hold on to!!!  AAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

Ok - enough whining about exercise.  Now I will crow about what I did.  Yesterday, Hubs and I got a bee in our collective bonnet to rearrange the living room.  Not really a hard task since we only have a sofa, a chair, a coffee table and a side table.  We have been frustrated by the lack of seating in there, and wondered if moving things around would make space for another chair.  Indeed it did.  So... today, we went shopping for a new chair.

We started at Pier One where we had seen a chair advertised that we liked.  We walked that store quite a bit.  Not ready to buy what we saw there, we decided to go to Value City Furniture.  Anyone living in the Columbus area will know how large that store it (at Sawmill).  I walked that whole store.  Then we went to Ashley Furniture.  We got half way around that one and I had to sit.  I told Hubs to come and get me if he saw anything he liked.  But just think of this...  Pier One, Value City and Ashley in one shopping trip - just 71/2 weeks after surgery.  I was very proud of Bessie!!!  Then she came home, took an Ibu and a nap!  She is sort of achy now, just 4 hours after the outing, but that's ok.  She'll be fine and ready to exercise again later this evening.  Oh, and by the way, we did not find the perfect chair yet, but we did see some possible candidates.

That's it for now.  I'll have another movie review for you later today, so stay tuned!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Seven Weeks - More Changes

All along this process, every time I've not been able to do something, I've thought, "When will I be able to do this?"  or more commonly,  "Will I EVER be able to do this??"   First, it was lifting my foot off the floor or the bed.  Then, it was lifting my whole leg in the air.  Most recently, it has been about being able to step onto a step without pulling myself up with my arms.  (Which I can now do, by the way!)

The most long-term, lingering issue has always been the stiffness in my leg which everyone attributes to internal swelling.  The Doc and the PTs have all said it will go down with time.  Well, I have never been a particularly patient person.  As this swelling and stiffness has persisted, I've often asked myself, "WHEN will this be gone?"  My PT told me that I should be able to do whatever I want to do at 3 months.  Does that mean all the stiffness will be gone then?  Not necessarily.

Well, today, at 7 weeks, I am here to report that there has been progress in the category of stiffness and swelling !!!

First, as I reported the other day, I bought school shoes.  On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, I tried a pair on each day, and wore them around the house for about 2-3 hours.  I wanted to make sure they were going to be comfortable enough for a school day.   On Saturday, after wearing pair #1, when I took them off, I noticed that the sausage was significantly smaller.  It was still bigger than the other foot, but most (90%?) of the puffiness was gone.  WHAT?  Can this be?  All it took to get rid of most of the swelling in my foot was to put on a shoe??  Seriously???

Now, I have to say that for the last 7 weeks, NO ONE - let me say that again - NO ONE has suggested that I could reduce the swelling in my foot by wearing a shoe that comes up over the top of my foot.  Did you hear what I said?  NO ONE!  When I asked the PTs about my sausage, they would tell me to do ankle pumps.  Ok - so I diligently did ankle pumps for the first 3 weeks, and it made NO difference.  I put ice packs on my foot and ankle, and it made NO difference.  When I asked my Doc about the swelling in my sausage, he told me it would go down over time.

So, all summer, I've been barefoot.  Sometimes I wear ankle socks.  When I need to go out with shoes, I wear my sandals with the stretchy straps.  No regular shoes for 7 weeks.  Let's imagine for just a minute how different things would have been if I'd been wearing shoes maybe 4-5 weeks ago?  All those times when I thought my skin was stretched so tight it was going to explode????  Ha!  SHOES!

Well, you have to know that I am going to share this revelation with my PT on Thursday!  I hope she doesn't give me that, "well of course you need to wear shoes - everyone knows that!" response, because she will get an ear full if she does!

For my faithful readers who are headed for this surgery, let me add this to the "Learn from Amy" list: You already know you need to do your exercises faithfully if you want to see progress.  Now you also know you need to wear SHOES!

My second revelation for today is a little more subtle and a little harder to quantify and to put into words.

Background:  Sunday, when I got up, I felt even more stiff than usual, and it seemed to take longer during the day for the morning stiffness to wear off.  Just doing my usual exercises didn't seem to help as much as usual.  I wrote it off to cooler weather.  Yesterday, I was much better - more "normal" or typical.  I did my usual morning exercises, and then in the afternoon, we went to our local park and walked again.  This is the second time I've done this.  We took a different path in the park, but I think I probably walked about as much - about a mile (of course with frequent sitting).  When I got home, I put ice on my leg for about 30 minutes, and generally felt very good.

Last night, I sat a lot.  Ok, The Bachelorette was on - it's my guilty pleasure, what can I say!  I sat glued to the TV for that 2 hour period.  At 10:00, I got a bee in my bonnet to do some school work.  I decided to work on creating a new website for one of my classes.  So, I proceeded to sit at my computer for the next 2 hours... with no break.  Not good.  Usually, when I get up from sitting, I have to give my leg time to acclimate to standing, and it usually takes walking about 10 steps before it is "working" again.

Well, here is my second revelation:  Last night, when I got up from sitting at my computer, the usual stiffness was almost gone!  I just started walking - normally - without limping at all.  There was no need to stand for a minute, or stretch or hobble around until my knee decided to work.  It just worked!

Then, when I went to bed, I started out lying on my back with Bessie out straight - when I bent her, she didn't feel stiff at all.  It was almost like - dare I say it - like 10 years ago?!  During the night, I was very conscious of a difference.  There was a new ease of movement, and a significant decrease in stiffness when I changed positions.  Likewise, this morning - I got up and just started walking without having to stand by the bed and wait to be ready to take the first step.

So, to what do I owe this change?  Could it be the influence of shoes?  Could it be the walk at the park? Could it be the diligence of exercising?  (Have I mentioned how important exercising is, kids?)  Could it just be a matter of time?

Right now, I'm going to go with "a combination of all of the above" as the explanation.  Whatever the explanation is, the result is that I'm VERY excited!!

That's all for now... I'm going to get back to my school website.  Thanks for reading and hanging in here with me!


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Reading Aloud

 My family is a tennis family.  Both my mother and my aunt were active tennis players in their youth, and even had success as winners of local tournaments.  Once my father and uncle joined the family, they also played tennis with their wives.  My aunt and uncle pursued this interest a bit longer and more actively than my mother and father did and made names for themselves in the tennis community around Dayton, Ohio back in the day.  Eventually, they turned their attention more to the golf course and played less tennis, but my aunt always enjoyed watching tennis on TV even when she no longer played.

When I learned that tennis legend Jimmy Connors had a written a new memoir, The Outsider,  it occurred to me that my aunt might enjoy the book.  At the time I learned of the book, my cousin was going to be coming to stay with me during my post-surgery convalescence, and I thought it might be fun for her and I to read the book aloud and record it, and then share that with my aunt. It would be sort of like the 3 of us would be reading it together.  It would give Cousin and I something to do with all my down-time, and something that we could all share.

As it turned out, my cousin wasn't able to come, but I decided to read the book aloud myself.  My goal was to read a chapter a day, and I managed to keep up with that schedule for the most part.  I read each chapter into a digital recorder and then emailed it to my cousins in New Hampshire, who then played each installment for my aunt.

I finally finished the book a few days ago.  It had 24 chapters.  I enjoyed the reading process because I knew my aunt was enjoying listening, and I generally enjoy reading aloud.   Jimmy's very large ego certainly comes through loud and clear in his writing.  The technical aspect of the book bothered me a bit as an English teacher because the first person narration flipped back and forth between present and past tense frequently for no apparent reason.  At various times I found myself wondering if anyone had actually edited the writing beyond checking spelling.  Even the basic printing was annoying as there were places where the periods at the ends of paragraphs were missing.  The book was also very heavy in statistics of various matches.  While some of that is necessary, there was a bit much of it for my taste.

Overall, I'm glad I did the reading project.  My reading certainly wouldn't win any awards because I didn't edit out my mis-reads and redos, nor my sneezes!  :)   But if my aunt enjoyed it, then that is my reward!

If you love the tennis era of the 1970s, then you might enjoy this book, but just prepare to be annoyed by some of its idiosyncrasies.


The Shopping Expedition or Dressing the Sausage!

Those of you who know me, know that I am not what some people would call particularly "fashion conscious".  While I do like to look decent, and I like to dress professionally for school, I don't spend too much time worrying about whether I am wearing the latest trends.  I am also not a fancy dresser (although I can dress up for the right occasion).  I am  not the type of person to get rid of perfectly good clothes that I like just because they are out of season (or even out of decade!).  Because of my size and shape, I've always had trouble finding clothes that fit me well, so when I find things that do fit, I tend to keep them until they wear out or until I can't stand them anymore.  (Much to the chagrin of one of my colleagues who has remarked on my "80s" wardrobe - yes, you know who you are!)  Also, for the last 9 years or so, as I've suffered with worsening knees, I've had increasing trouble shopping for clothes, which is another reason I tend to hang on to the past.

My current situation has presented a bit of a problem - not with clothes, but with shoes.  Bessie is quite clearly larger than my right leg.  All the way from above my knee to my foot which is puffed out like a sausage casing with too much meat shoved into it! When I look in the mirror at my legs side-by-side, they look like they belong on 2 different bodies!   I'm told by my doc and my PT that this situation of swelling is likely to last for months yet.  This presents a problem with school shoes.

All summer I've been wearing 1 pair of sandals with stretchy straps that easily accommodate my sausage foot, but I can't (or rather won't) wear them to school.  Yesterday, with a very dedicated friend who has been with me through this whole process, I set out to the shoe store to find school shoes.  I thought I might have to buy 2 pairs of different sizes - one for the right and one for the left.  However, it turned out that I was able to find shoes where the same pair fit both feet.  The good news is that I found 3 pair that fit, and I didn't feel like I had to settle for the only shoes in the store that would fit.  I'm actually happy with what I got.

None of these shoes were purchased for fashion, but they aren't "ugly" by any means.  They are all black, and my hope is that they will disappear below my pants and will not stand out and draw attention to my sausage.

My store of choice was DSW because of its huge selection.  I had only shopped there once before, and didn't find what I wanted then.  I look forward to a time when I can buy "cute" shoes that are fashionable once again, but for now I will dress my sausage and get on with life!

:) Amy

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Movie Review - Moonrise Kingdom

Today's movie review is very unusual.  It involves a movie I didn't even bother to finish!

I had heard good things about Moonrise Kingdom (2012) - mainly that it was "quirky", so I put it on my list. I started watching it on Sunday, but I only got about half way through it when I had to stop.  Somehow I never felt any pressing need to keep watching it, and after about 3 days, I just decided to send it back without finishing it.

The movie is quirky, but it is also incredibly slow.  I almost fell asleep during the part I watched.  As you know from some of the movies I've already reviewed, I'm not a big "action" fan, so I'm not opposed to movies that don't have car chases and gun-shootouts.  (After all, I liked Quartet !) However, this movie was painfully slow, and sadly there wasn't enough quirkiness to carry it.  I really wanted to like it!  Obviously, I can't recommend this to my readers.

Stay tuned - I will try to give you some GOOD recommendations in the near future!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

6 Weeks and Counting

This is a big week for Bessie!  Tuesday was her 6 week anniversary, and Monday was her Doc appointment.

The doctor was very impressed!  He took an x-ray. It must have been ok because he didn't tell me there were any loose parts inside!.  He liked how much I could straighten her, and he was impressed by my 100 degree bend.  He was also impressed by how well I was walking, and how quickly, with no cane or other assistance.  The nurse also complimented me, as did the secretary!  Doc wants to see me again in 2 months.  He said to keep working on my bend - he wants me to get to 110-115.

Doc cleared me to get back in the pool.  He said my incision looks very well healed.  He also encouraged me to go back to Water Aerobics, which I am anxious to do and will start in Sept.

Doc also said that I can expect the stiffness from swelling for months.  He said it really takes a year before the whole healing and strengthening process is over.

In the waiting room with me was a woman who still had her TED hose, her leg pumps and her walker.  I thought to myself how glad I am that I am past that stage of the process!

Shortly after my doc appointment, was my PT session.  Kristen put a 4" step-box in the middle of the floor and had me step up on it without anything to hold on to!  That was scary, but I was able to do it.  (20 times from the front and 20 times to the side.)  She said I need to learn to trust myself more!

We discussed my PT schedule.  I will have 6 more sessions after this week.  She agreed with me that it would be better to go once a week for 6 weeks rather than 2x for 3 weeks, especially since I am good about doing my own exercising at home.  So I will be going every Thursday through Sept 5.

I think I have mentioned this before, but I am going to repeat it.  Both of my physical therapists have mentioned having patients who don't do their own exercises outside of PT sessions, and then they wonder why they don't get better faster.  Really?  DUH!!!  The biggest advice I can give to anyone out there who is considering surgery like this is that you HAVE to be diligent about exercising if you want to see progress.  You can't rely on a therapist to do all the work for you.  They give guidance, but YOU have to do the work yourself if you want results!  3 times a day for 3-4 weeks, and then 2 times a day after that.  You have to keep moving and walking.  You can't just sit in the chair or lie in the bed and expect to be able to walk well. If you don't keep moving and stretching and squeezing early in the process, your joint will stiffen up, and it will be even harder to move.  Also, when you do exercise, you see daily progress and that is a great motivator!!

To sum up my 6 weeks status:  I am totally off my cane now.  I still limp at times, but not all the time.  My leg feels stiff most of the time, but it doesn't really "hurt".  There are times when I actually forget I had surgery.   I am very cautious walking outside on uneven ground or in public places, but I'm very confident in the house.  I do fine getting in and out of the car.  I have not tried stairs, but I suspect I could do them with a sturdy railing to hold on to.  I can sleep in any position in bed, but my leg does get stiff when kept in one position for very long, so I still have to move around a lot in bed, and often have to get up and walk in the wee hours (today I made it until 6 am!).  Overall, I am very excited about my progress!

Ok, that's it for today.  Thanks for reading and supporting my efforts!  I'll talk to you again soon!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Photos for your viewing pleasure...

Just sharing some photos from here.  First is the Swallowtail that was in the front yard at New House on Friday.  This one posed for me:

Next is a Turkey Vulture that Hubs photographed from the backyard at Old House:

Last, but not least, a Cicada in our little maple tree at Old House:

Talk to you again soon!


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pain Meds

I am pretty much off the hard-core pain meds now, so I did some analysis of how much I took.  Starting with the day I came home from the hospital, I kept a log of all the meds I took so I would know what time each dose was.

I came home on a Thursday around 2 pm.  That day after I got home, I took 1 Vicodin and 4 doses of Percocet.  Friday and Saturday, I took 7 doses each day.  On Friday, I started with Perc, but then after the Home Health Care nurse came and told me it was ok to switch to my preferred Vic, I did so.  So I was basically taking something every 2-3 hours.

By Sunday (which would be 5 days from surgery) I dropped down to 3 doses/day and did that through Thursday.  I would take 1 early in the day, usually around my morning PT, then 1 mid afternoon around my 2nd PT, and then another in the evening with my 3rd PT.

On Friday, June 21, I dropped to 1 dose/day.  For the next 3 weeks - until Friday, July 12, I took 1-2 doses of pain meds/day, sometimes adding in an Ibuprofen.  Last Sat and Sun, I didn't take any pain meds, just Ibu.  The last Vic I took was Monday, July 15.  Since then I've been taking just Ibu - 1 or 2/day.

For the last couple weeks of the Vic, I found it most helpful to take it at bedtime to keep my leg from aching during the night.

For the last week, I would say that I really don't have "pain" anymore.  It is more an issue of stiffness from the swelling.  My PT said that I could experience swelling for months.  She said that for a knee it typically takes 3 months before you can do what you want to do, and 6 months to forget you had it done.  So I'm looking forward to Sept and December as key points in my recovery.

During the night, usually by around 4 or 5 am, Bessie is getting grumpy.  By that time it is hard to find a comfortable position for longer than about 20-30 min. because of stiffness.  I usually have to get up to go to the bathroom anyway, so I either walk around a bit, or sit up in the chair for 30 min or so, and that seems to help.  Then I can get back in bed and go back to sleep.

Also, as I side note, I have been totally off my cane - even outside - since Tuesday, July 16 which was the 5 week mark.

I'm sharing this partly for my own record keeping, but also for those of you who are headed for surgery yourselves in the future.  I urge you all to record your experiences because it is very helpful to be able to see the progress in quantifiable terms.

Thanks for reading!  It is a rainy day here in Central Ohio today, but this front coming through should break the humidity which has been horrid for the past week!

Talk to you again soon!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review - The Silver Star

My most recent book was The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls.  She is most well known for The Glass Castle which was about her life growing up in a very dysfunctional family.  She followed that by a pre-quel called Half Broke Horses, which was about her grandmother's childhood.

This book is fiction and is not related to the other two.  It is set in the 1970s  in a small town in Virginia.  The main characters are the narrator Jean "Bean" and her older sister Liz.  They are about 12 and 15 when their crazy mother leaves them alone in their house in California to follow her dream of being an entertainer.  When they realize she isn't coming back, and the creditors start knocking on the door, they use the last remaining funds they have to buy bus tickets to visit their mother's brother across the country in Virginia.

Once they arrive in Virginia they find a very different world than the one they've been raised in.  They also come to understand their mother's early life a little better.  Bean gets to meet her father's family - he had died before she was born, and it is from them that she is given the Silver Star that he was awarded in Vietnam.

The book raises issues of race.  Bean's English class is reading To Kill A Mockingbird and discussing it at the same time that the school the girls are going to has been integrated.  There are some situations that happen to the girls that are sort of reminiscent of some of the events of TKAM (at least thematically if not literally).

When the book was released earlier this summer, there was a review of it in the local paper.  The review was not totally complimentary, but I had already purchased the book and was determined to read  it because I had enjoyed Walls' other books.  I did like this book overall, and I looked forward to my reading time to see what was going to happen next.  I don't agree with the criticisms of the reviewer;  however, I will say I was very disappointed in the ending.  I'm not going to give it away in case some of you are going to read it.  If you do, let me know, and we'll discuss the ending.  I just sort of felt it was a cop-out and an easy way to end the book.

Yes, I would recommend it, but I would not call it an "intense" read.

:) Amy

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What? More Bragging? Sheesh!

Some of you may be getting tired of hearing me brag about my accomplishments.  If you are one of those people, then you might want to skip this entry and give yourself a break from the brag-fest.

If you are still with me, thank you, and here is today's brag:

I had PT today.  I told my PT Kristen that I have my 6-weeks doc appt on Monday, and I asked if she could measure me.  She obliged willingly.

So, there are 2 measurements that matter to physical therapists in these situations.  The first is how much I can bend my knee.  I've talked about that before, and the last time I noted this measurement here, I was at 90 degrees.  For comparison purposes, my other knee - the one that was not replaced - was measured at 94 degrees when I started doing my therapy at the facility.  Today, she measure Bessie at .....

wait for it........

100 degrees !!!!!

WOO HOOO !!!!!

The second measurement that is important is how straight my leg is when it is stretched out flat.  On my evaluation upon entry into the PT facility, this was measured in both legs.  At that time, my old, un-replaced knee was at 11 degrees and Bessie was at 16 degrees.  As of today, Bessie is at 5 degrees !!!!

WOO HOOOO again !!!!! 

Just recently, I started having Hubs push down on Bessie which is something that Kristen does.  She said she thinks it is helping!  I have him put his palm just above my knee.  Then he pushed down until I tell him to stop (which is just before I would typically say OUCH) and then he holds it for a count of 10.  We do that about 3 times during each exercise session.

The longstanding goal for my knee bend is 110 degrees, so I'm almost there.  The goal for the flat measurement is 0, but she said everyone will be happy with 5.  I'm hoping that I get big praise from Doc on Monday.  If he doesn't praise me enough then I will crow about my accomplishments to him!!!

Ok - that's it for today.  I promise not to brag any more for the next few days, so you can take a break from your celebrating... while I take a nap!  ;)

Thanks for hangin' in here with me!  Your support really means a lot!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I didn't think I'd ever be able to do it!

It's day 36.  5 weeks plus 1 day since surgery.

When I came home from the hospital, I couldn't even lift my heel off the bed.  Not at all.  Not even enough to drag it across the sheet.

Then I could slide it side ways  - and do scissors exercises.

Then I could raise my knee.

At Day 21 I could raise my leg about an inch off the bed.

At Day 25 I could raise my whole leg off the bed in a straight leg raise from lying flat on my back.  Once.

Since then, I've lifted it 2 or 3 or 4 times in an exercise session, but never in a row.  Always with Hubs helping me lift it in between the ones I did on my own.

Tonight, Day 36 - I lifted Bessie all the way up - straight - 5 times in a row, took a break, and then did it 5 more times in a row - with no help!!!

There were times, when I thought I would never be able to do that.  EVER!  And now I can!

When you go to bed tonight, lift your legs up straight in the air, and think about not being able to do it!

I think I can... I think I can... I think I can...


Movie Review - Quartet

I just watched a truly delightful movie.  There were no car-chases or guns.  There was no sex, although there was a romance of sorts.  It was funny and sweet and very well done and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The story is set at an English country estate which has been turned into a home for retired musicians.  A number of the people who live there are former opera singers.  Every year, on Verdi's birthday, they do a gala presentation for the patrons of the home to raise money to keep it open.

This particular year, a new resident has moved in - an opera diva - played by Maggie Smith.  She comes in to the home determined not to participate or get comfortable there.  She is determined that she has lost her operatic voice, and she makes it clear that she has no interest in "playing" with the other residents.  It just so happens that one of the men living here is a former husband of hers.  He never stopped loving her, and she realizes that she still loves him as well.  He and 2 other friends convince her to sing with them at the gala.

This movie was directed by Dustin Hoffman, and there is a "bonus" on the DVD where he talks about the experience, and where others are interviewed about him as a director.  The actors agreed that one of Hoffman's strengths as a director was that because he has been an actor so much, he "gets it".  That gives him a valuable perspective as a director.   Maggie Smith commented that one of the things she liked about the movie is that it shows that elderly people can still have fun and can still have a valuable life.  I would have to agree - that is one of the things I liked about the movie.  These people are not sitting around waiting to die, as is often the case in nursing homes.  In spite of their various ailments and weaknesses, they get up and get dressed every day, and socialize with each other.  They play music and sing and dance and try to make the most of each day.  It is inspiring!  Some of them teach young people as well.

Scottish actor Billy Connolly is one of the friends of Maggie's character, and he is hilarious.  Most of the funniest moments in the movie involve him.  He is constantly hitting on the staff members as well as on the very attractive female doctor who runs the home.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who wants a pleasant 2 hour diversion which will leave you feeling good.  Music lovers and opera lovers will especially enjoy it!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It's Bloomin' !!!

You may remember that in May we planted a "bare stick rose"  which I purchased mail-order from David Austin Roses in Texas. It didn't have so much as a root ball on it - it was literally a bare stick with some roots hanging off of it.   For the longest time, I couldn't see it doing anything at all, and I was just about to take a photo of it and send it to the company and ask for my money back.

This is what it looked like the day we planted it on May 18:

Well, it decided to start sprouting while I was in the hospital over June 11-13.  This is what it looked like as of June 16:

As of today, this is what it looks like now:  

I can't even tell you how excited I was when I saw open blooms!  There have been about 4 buds on it for the last week, and I've been checking them every day.  My neighbor said these were not open yet at 6 am when she brought the paper over, but as of about 10 am, WWWWAAAAAA   !!!!!!!!!!!

I didn't really think there was any hope of getting blooms yet this summer, even after it started to sprout leaves, but it really IS going to be a decent rose bush after all!   YAY!!!

...Just one more thing for me to do a Happy Dance for with my new bionic leg!  


Monday, July 15, 2013

Tending the Scar - Day 34

When I saw my doc at the 2 week point, I asked about scar cream.  My Home-PT had suggested Mederma Scar Cream or Vitamin E Oil.  Doc said I needed to wait until it was "dried out".  I interpreted that to mean that all the little crusty bits had to be gone.  At that point, the staples had just been removed and there weren't even scabs on those little holes yet.  He suggested it might be another month before I would be ready for scar cream.

Last Thursday, when I was at PT, I asked my PT Kristen about scar cream and told her what my doc said.  At the time I asked, she was massaging my scar, and she said I was almost there - meaning my crusty bits were almost gone. Being the impatient person I am, I decided to stop at CVS on the way home that day and pick up some cream.

It took a few minutes, but I finally found Mederma on the bottom shelf of the hand-cream aisle.  However, it was over $36 a tube!  Right next to it was the CVS version for $25, so I went with that.  The next item over was Bag Balm, and I thought to myself that might work just as well, but I went with the CVS stuff.  The next day, I decided to try my new cream just on the part of my scar that is above my knee, where all the little scabs were gone.  First, it's not really a cream.  It is a clear gel.  The good news is that a little dab goes a long way.  As soon as I put it on and rubbed it in, my scar changed in appearance.  It went from being sort of dried out with white skin flakes all around it, to being all smooth and pinkish/purple.  As of today, I think the rest of my scar is ready for a treatment as well. 

 I am anxious to see what Kristen says about it when I see her later today.  She told me that eventually all my staple holes will disappear, and I'll be left with a thin purple line where the incision was.  

On another subject, I have not taken any Vicodin for several days.  I've taken Ibuprofen 2-3 times a day instead.  It is supposed to be better for inflammation.  I did wake up with my thigh muscle aching last night around 2:30, but I got up and walked around a bit, and that helped.  

I think it took me about a day to recover from my mile hike at the park.  The swelling in my foot is back down to where it was before that adventure.  Yesterday morning, before it got too hot outside, I walked out front - past 5 houses and back.  It is too hot for that today, and since I've got PT this afternoon, I decided not to push it.  

Time to go put my "gel" on.  Thanks for reading!  Have a great day!