Thursday, February 28, 2008

my left foot - day 8

Thursday morning - into week #2. I am settled into a routine now, each day able to do more and more around the house. I am still instructed to put NO weight on the foot, and to keep it elevated (that part is easy, since it starts throbbing 30 seconds after it's lowered).

Yesterday, I not only hobbled downstairs to my computer room to send a fax, but also had Ben drive me around the neighborhood on a couple of chores. Still, when I got back home after a 1 hour outing, I was wiped out and went to bed.

Here's how the dressing looks now, after Tuesday's doctor visit:
It gets changed again next Wednesday, when the stitches come out.

I am still continually aware of discomfort, but the level of pain is greatly reduced, and my Vicodin consumption is down to one-A-day (generally in the late afternoon).

I think that, today, I will start working on the taxes - I placed a pile of papers within reach two weeks ago, but have not had the will to dig in until now. I guess that's a sign of growing boredom with reading, web surfing, and applying ice.

Current events time! I read this on the web this morning. So, according to the specific language of the Constitution, John McCain cannot be President. Of course, it would be preposterous to disqualify him on this basis, but I'm sure that the same folks who argue that we should never adjust our interpretation of the Constitution based on modern realities ("there is no Right to Privacy in the Constitution" -- Scalia) would argue that "the Constitution's words are very clear on this point, so McCain is out." Hypocrites.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

my left foot - the big unveiling!

Just got home from my first post-op exam, and I am wiped out.

That being said, my doctor was pleased with how things are progressing, and answered all my questions about what to expect for the next week. It was actually somewhat simple: more of the same.

I asked why I was given a general anesthesia, instead of the local that was planned. As I understand it, once the operation was underway and I was very lightly sedated, I was in obvious discomfort as they were manipulating things and they decided to put me all the way out. Of course, I have no recollection whatsoever of any of this.

The actual procedure I had was a 'Lapidus bunionectomy with an Akin osteotomy of the large toe'. I have no idea what that means.

At any rate, they removed the dressing, took x-rays, cleaned up and checked everything out, cleaned the external fixation apparatus with alcohol, applied a new dressing, and then made modifications to my boot, to accommodate the large bulge of the external torture device.

Naturally, during this entire process, I was taking pictures, and here you go:

Unwrapping the dressing:

My first glimpse of the external fixation (i.e. torture) device:

Feel free to bypass this one:

Dr. Gentile (a heck of a nice guy) seems pleased with his handiwork (or is that 'footwork'):

Here I am, with crutches and 'the boot'. Time to hop back into bed:

Monday, February 25, 2008

my left foot - day 5

Ah, Dr. Vicodin worked wonders last night - slept great and woke up physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Now for the exciting news. Last night, I was complaining about the restrictiveness of the dressing, and Karen removed the outer layer, a compression stocking, revealing the very tips of my toes for the very first time. It felt wonderful, just having the skin come in contact with the cool air.

In this morning's light, I got a closer look and, behold, the big toe is clearly NO LONGER behind the 2nd toe:
How encouraging.

Now, just to tamp down your mounting joy, let me remind you that the Fascist Dictatorship is still in effect. Let's stay on task, people.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

the day without pain meds

Well, I had the best intentions, and lasted most of the day, but now, at 5 pm, it's down the hatch for Dr. Vicodin.

my left foot - day 4

Sunday morning.

Today, I actually washed my hair and body, and changed my clothes, all by myself -- a genuine mood-elevator. To celebrate, I wheeled myself over to the piano and played for about a half-hour, until the lowered foot began to throb. Back to bed and ice.

Looking forward to my first post-op doctor appointment, Tuesday morning, when the temporary splint and dressing will be changed. Will I have the courage to look at the naked truth? Stay tuned.

Now, about Ralph Nader. Being the charitable individual that I am, I can only interpret this move as his ploy to inject a discussion of corporatism and corruption into the presidential conversation, rather than a bold-faced ego-driven insistence of relevance (which we've come to expect from Bush, and are quite able to get beyond).

I am trying to get thru today with no meds - haven't taken any since last night before bed. So far, so good - no bad pain, and no withdrawal issues.

Stop by if you're in the neighborhood.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

my left foot - start of day 3

Progress is happening fast.

Last night, I slept for one uninterrupted 5 hour stretch. During part of the night, I could sleep on my side, instead of back only.

Last night, I was actually hungry for the first time, and used the crutches for the first time to navigate both to the bathroom and the kitchen, where I assembled my own bowl of cereal and milk, and got it over to the TV room couch - my first destination Beyond Bed and Bath.

I suppose the hours of icing have paid off, since the obvious swollen feeling is much reduced.

Finally, the constipation that everyone said would be a byproduct of the painkillers has, ahem, been surmounted. Took almost 3 days.

Today, more practice with crutches - maybe even a brief appearance outside (the sunrise now flooding the living room suggests a BEAUTIFUL day ahead), and general testing of my limits, which I will no doubt reach and exceed.

I can safely say that my low point was Thursday night, when the pain and nausea were peaking.

And, the final sweetness, it appears that Hillary is beginning to accept that she's not going to win First Prize and is rebuilding the bridges that Bill and her misguided campaign staff had torched. It's sort of sad - the Womens Movement has been waiting a long time for this campaign, but other events have overtaken her historical ascent.

Friday, February 22, 2008

my left foot - day 2

Friday 6:30 am.

Spent a pretty comfortable night. I think I have a pain-killer routine that is working well.

This morning, I managed to get to the bathroom, brush teeth, change my clothes for the first time since Wednesday, begin the ice-under-the-knee routine, drink a chilled can of Slim-fast ('cappuccino delight'), find my digital camera, take a photo of my bandaged foot, and transfer it to my laptop, all without assistance.

Hope to get some reading done today, with a little less mental fog than yesterday.

Here's how it looks - no doubt what is under the bandages is too gruesome to look at. This dressing gets changed next Tuesday.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

falling into the rhythm

As predicted, I didn't move from bed all day, except for periodic trips to the bathroom. Haven't felt like eating, although Karen came home at noon and made me a great sandwich: veggie burger on a bagel, with mustard, onions, and salsa. I'm still full from that.

I've been taking my narcotics regularly, and am getting a sense of how much and how often does the job. My foot feels quite swollen, but I am icing it for 20 minutes out of EVERY hour, and keeping it elevated.

Haven't done much reading today -- spent most of the last 2 hours largely snoozing and listening to the radio, so I should be awake for a while now.

It does ache, but it's not horrible, except when it's time to pop another pill, which, now that I think about it, will be here again shortly.

The oddest thing is how much my world has shrunk into this room, after spending those days in Wisconsin, walking along frozen suburban streets, in a galaxy far, far away.

my left foot - the first 12 hours

It's 3:30 am Thursday. I am wide awake, having had a couple of solid sleep periods since 11 pm.

At one point last night, I was feeling quite miserable, and Karen helped me understand that this means that narcotics are necessary. An hour later, my color and attitude were restored, and I actually was hungry enough to eat some scrambled eggs and toast - the first substantial food since Wednesday night.

A half-hour ago, I successfully got myself into the bathroom to pee, and back to bed. I am treating this as a major accomplishment, although it was the third time I've done it. Somehow it seems more amazing, knowing that everyone else in the house is sleeping.

My foot is constantly painful - I am aware of the ache at every moment. However, my bed is surrounded by many books, remotes, snacks, electronic devices, and my trusty water bottle and drugs. I can visualize the next 24 hours pretty easily.

Time for a sip of water and, perhaps, lights out again.

Last night, before turning in herself, Karen said she wasn't sure I'd really go thru with the surgery, when I was trying to make the final decision, last week. Nobody could be more surprised than me.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

post-op time

The last thing I remember is being wheeled into the OR, looking up at the ceiling, just like in the movies.

Then, I was waking up, with my foot wrapped up. Elapsed time, over three hours.

Karen walked in and helped with the discharge steps - instructions, paperwork, getting dressed, and into the car. She had spoken briefly with the surgeon, asking him if, in his opinion, this was really necessary. "Sure," he said, "his foot was really deformed".

Finally, we got home, into the house, and, thankfully, I dropped onto the bed.

I managed to arrange pillows so that I was reasonably comfortable (the drugs from the surgery were still in effect), and settled in for at least 24 hours of uninterrupted inaction. Within the first 10 minutes, the following happened:

1) I turned on the little TV, which had been all set up, only to discover that someone had removed the plug-in antenna. No reception. Dylan had to be called, to ask where he had relocated the antenna. The question 'why' was not asked.

2) Karen went back outside to finish unloading her car, and (ready?) actually locked herself out of the house. I had to hobble over to the door, to let her in.

It's kinda funny, when you think about it.

It's 8 pm now, and I am on my first oxycodone. It's beginning to hurt.

The cats have come by to visit me - in fact, Sasha is here in bed with me. I ate a couple of dried apricots - first food in 24 hours.

I am feeling pain. Just 8 weeks to go.

I'd like to take a photo of my bandaged foot, but Ben has apparently taken my camera, which, the other day, I had placed within easy reach of the bed.

I see a pattern developing.

happy B-Day to me

No, not birthday, it's BUNION Day! I leave for the surgery center in less than an hour.

Have been busy preparing my recovery station in the living room - undoubtedly I will forget something critical and end up hopping around gracelessly to find some essential accessory.

Will post photos eventually, but I suspect they will not be for the squeamish!

Monday, February 18, 2008

actually heard over the dinner table

So, my brother and I got into a rather heated 'discussion' about Inheritance Taxes (believe it or not), and things degenerated to the point where this phrase was actually directed to me:

"Maybe you should move to Russia."

So, it's come to that.

happy birthday to Mom

94 today. Everyone at her facility is stopping by to congratulate her - she is beaming with the attention. At lunch, we had a large sheet-cake prepared and served everyone a piece.

It was pretty good cake, too - thanks, Costco!

It was a raging blizzard this morning, with several inches of new snow on the ground, covering up all the ice from yesterday. Travel tomorrow ought to be OK - glad I'm not flying today.

Expected to be damn cold here tonight and tomorrow. What an odd place to live (unless you like cheese).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

say it ain't so, Hillary

So, the Clinton campaign is apparently lobbying for the awarding of delegates from the Michigan and Florida voting, despite the clear statement from the Party that no delegates would be seated from those states.

This is wrong on so many levels. The whole point of purging our nation of the incalculable damage of the Bush regime, was to restore an atmosphere where laws and rules are no longer bent or discarded for political expediency.

If the 300 delegates from those two states are awarded to Clinton, and she goes on to win the nomination largely due to this margin, her candidacy is forever tainted, and the stain will haunt her history as the stain of the 2000 coup must surely haunt the Bush family (I intentionally didn't mention W by name, since he's incapable of being haunted by anything he's ever done that was unlawful, sleazy, or incompetent).

This truly stinks. It is a bad move, that may produce a short-term victory, at an ultimately great cost.

a death in the family

Yesterday, as I was sitting in my mother's overheated room, looking out over impossible piles of snow, a call came thru from Karen, in Portland.

She had just heard that my Uncle, who lived in Hawaii for many years, had died. This was mom's first cousin, with whom she had a lifelong relationship. He was a truly remarkable fellow, and here's his obit from the Honolulu Advertiser.

I corresponded with him irregularly over the years, and visited with him whenever we went to Hawaii. We knew he was declining and sinking fast, but it still came as a shock. These things always do.

Friday, February 15, 2008

oh, brother, where art thou?

In my brother's house. He picked me up at the airport (air temp: 10 degrees), and we chatted about this and that (mostly our medical problems) on the drive up to Mequon.

We sat around the kitchen table, chatting with Ellen, and a political ad for Obama came on (remember, the Wisconsin primary is next Tuesday). I mentioned that I had just changed my party affiliation from Green to Democrat, so that I could vote in the Oregon primary, and that I would certainly vote for Obama.

Ellen casually mentioned that she's a Democrat, but that Allen (with whom I share a considerable number of genes), is a Republican.

I am shocked, but, in retrospect, statements he's made over the past couple of years gave me pause. I fear my brother is among the brain-washed, and here's the capper:

He said to me: "Don't you know that Obama is a secret Muslim, and that the Muslims are behind his candidacy so they can take over?"


Can it be that my dense brother has been drinking the kool-aid of Internet smears? It is apparently so.

Restraining my rage and disgust, I firmly let loose with a rant, asking if he's been watching Fox News. He then asked me, would I ever consider voting for Hillary and I said, of course, if she is the Democratic nominee. He was incredulous, and listed several unflattering adjectives that are commonly used to disparage the Clintons, most of which perfectly suit the Bush crime family.

I gave my stock answer, that the future of the Supreme Court demands that a Democrat take the White House in 2008, and nothing else matters.

I retired up to my room, and, with Google assisting, immediately found two websites that convincingly debunk the Obama/Muslim smear. I emailed them to Allen, but I sense that it may be judicious to avoid politics for the next couple of days.

Big snow-storm expected Saturday night and Sunday, but things should be tidied up by the time I need to head back to Portland Tuesday afternoon. For the moment, though, I feel storm warnings here in my brother's house.

on the ground in Minneapolis

...waiting for my flight to Milwaukee.

In Portland, wifi is free, which is great, as I was able to check my mail and respond to two current clients and one potential client, while sipping my pre-flight coffee.

Here in Minneapolis, it's costing me $5 for one hour of access. I needed to get online to respond to some last-minute matters, but not only do I not have a full hour before my next flight boards, but I was able to finish my business in about 15 minutes.

At least it's tax-deductible!

Therefore, so as not to waste my money, I am posting this here, to waste *your* time. Life just isn't fair.

the wedding

I mentioned yesterday that, last night, I was to play piano for a wedding at the Jewish home, where I accompany the chorus. It was a wonderful evening, with the Bride's and Groom's extended families (i.e. children and grandchildren) all taking part.

The chorus sang several numbers before and during the ceremony (including "Making Whoopee"), and I played a bunch of old songs afterwards, while many folks danced. Three local TV stations sent cameramen to film it - we watched two of the reports on the 10:00 pm news. Here's a little story that The Oregonian carried.

Ruth and Frank were cute and just glowing last night, and the spirits of the entire place were soaring. It was an amazing evening.

Off to the airport in an hour. Tomorrow, I'll be playing the piano at my mother's facility in Milwaukee!

Beautiful sunrise this morning - the eastern sky is on fire. I sure hate to leave Portland.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Left Foot - the saga begins

Among all the things you know about me, you probably don't know that Karen has been making fun of my deformed left foot for years.

When I was a little kid, I remember hearing my grandmother complaining incessantly about her bunions. I always thought that was such a funny-sounding word.

It stopped being funny about 15 years ago.

About a month ago, I looked at the calendar, and realized I have a window where I can get it corrected and deal with the 6-8 weeks of general discomfort, inactivity, and restricted mobility.

Tomorrow, I fly to Wisconsin for my mom's 94th birthday. I return to Portland next Tuesday night, weather permitting.

Wednesday afternoon, I'm getting a bunionectomy. The surgical method is called 'external fixation', which means that there will be screws protruding thru the skin, attached to an external metal device that resembles a medieval torture accessory, but is supposed to permit me to walk in two weeks. The alternative is to have all the screws internal, but that requires no weight-bearing for 6-8 weeks, and I think that would drive me nuts.

It will be the end of March before everything is healed.

It's going to be a long stretch, but presents ample opportunity to solicit pity.

Today, I spent hours driving around to pick up my X-rays at the podiatrist, get an EKG, get my blood tested, get a handicapped parking permit from DMV, meet with the surgeon to answer my final questions and clarify what to expect once I'm post-op, and pick up Vicodin and Oxycodyn prescriptions.

I have set up our living room as my temporary bedroom, with the fold-out couch, a little TV and stereo (both with remotes), my laptop, a rolling office-chair (for navigating to the bathroom), and a nice stack of books. Here is the stack of books (the one under 'River Town' is 'The Old Curiosity Shop', by Charles Dickens):

In the freezer, are 6 packages of frozen peas and corn, since I have to (ready for this?) ice my foot for 20 minutes out of every waking hour, for at least the first week. In the bathroom are the two vials of narcotics (one ominously marked 'for severe pain').

Upstairs is my mostly-packed suitcase. Four days in frozen Wisconsin, hanging around Mom and her cronies, and a long day of travel on Tuesday, and then, once I get back home Tuesday night, a few hours to make the final plans and get some sleep, before heading into surgery. It's going to be a whirlwind, between this moment, and when I arrive back home Wednesday afternoon, and sink into bed for a few days.

In the meantime, I am playing piano this evening at the Jewish Old Folks home, where two of the members of the chorus (that I accompany every week) are getting married tonight. Last month, the 88 year-old bride was in the hospital, and, last week, the 90 year-old groom had a heart-attack. When they announced their engagement last November (and intent to get married on Valentines Day), everybody said "what are you waiting for?".

Finally, you didn't think you'd get away from this without having to see the 'before' photo, right? Bye-bye, bunion.

Pretty weird, eh?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Visited the Multnomah County board of elections today

And I changed my party affiliation from 'Green' to 'Democratic'. I've been a Green since 2000, but, this year, I kinda want to vote in the Oregon Democratic primary, in May.

I asked the election guy if he's seen a lot of activity like this, and he said 'I sure have!'

Haven't heard any news from Maryland, Virginia and DC today. Wonder how things are going there? If Barack makes a clean sweep today, we have some authentic momentum going on.

If Hillary manages to pull out victories, more power to her. However, I have to say that recent Clinton campaign tactics are mighty disturbing. Anyone disagree?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Fox News despicable-stunt-of-the-day

this. You have to admire shamelessness like this.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

SuperDuper Tuesday bottom line

As one of the blogs proclaimed, "the only thing that was settled on Tuesday is that Mitt Romney is indeed a LOSER."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I was excited when I saw the headline:

'Grateful Dead reunite for concert in support of Obama'.

Unfortunately, the 2nd word in the copy, 'surviving', dashed all my hopes. Damn, Jerry's still dead.

Should be an interesting evening, especially with the California polling all over the place. Plus, since CA has eschewed electronic voting machines (yea!), the public is being 'warned' that the results won't be fully 'tabulated', as we have come to expect, at 8:04 pm, as can so easily be done with Diebold machines (heck, they're so advanced you know the outcome BEFORE the polls close!).

Meanwhile, compare and contrast two headlines I see on 'My Yahoo" this morning:

"Tipping point" on horizon for Greenland ice

Spears' father retained as conservator

Friday, February 01, 2008

it's not easy being godless

Yes, Jesus is Love. Seems like a case-study in Abnormal Psychology 101.

On the other end of the religious spectrum, however, there is hope. Last night, I was part of a huge crowd at the wonderful Bagdad Theater, to see Jim Wallis, the left-wing evangelical, who is out spreading the good news in his new book.

It's not often I find myself in a crowd of people wearing large crucifixes (and not being nervous), but this was a sympathetic group, and the message, that the Christian Right is ebbing and the evangelical movement now shifting to issues of poverty, environmental sanity, and social justice, is encouraging.

I was invited to the talk by a friend who is a left-wing evangelical. Being a McMenamin facility, I was able to enjoy a pint of beer during the talk, which was refreshingly ironic, too.

It's great to think that POF (People of Faith) will bond together to reject the right-wing politics to which they have been associated for the past 25 years, and take us into a new Age where the true message of You-Know-Who will spread across the public landscape.

As a Jewish agnostic cynic, I say 'bring it on'.