Thursday, August 19, 2021

2nd Covidversary

Well, I certainly never anticipated when I wrote the post "Covidversary" last August that we would still be talking about this a year later. Despite the availability of vaccines the U.S., and indeed the world, are still crippled by Covid-19. Counties and cities here are backpedalling, and mask mandates are going back in place. Suggestions that we will all need a third shot 8 months following our other two vaccines are being made. In fact a friend of mine in St. Louis has already received hers because her immune system is compromised.

Today is our 43rd wedding anniversary. Unlike last year we are not going to a restaurant for dinner because things are very up in the air right now. The county we live in and the one we shop/dine in do not require masks, so we do not feel safe eating inside a restaurant right now. Instead Jim is grilling steaks and we will enjoy a nice, safe dinner at home. Maybe once the masks go back in place and tables are again separated in restaurants we will dine inside again, but we are not there yet.

So far our community has been silent on the growing numbers of covid cases, including the breakthrough ones where fully vaccinated people are getting the virus. I am wearing a mask whenever I go into any of the buildings here if others are also inside. I don't care what anyone thinks about it. I'd rather err on the side of caution. I've managed to go 17 months without getting covid, and I'd like to keep it that way. I know the shots will keep me from getting so sick that I need to be hospitalized, but who wants to catch it in the first place? No one knows what the long-term consequences of the virus will be on our internal organs.

So where do things stand today? North Carolina has had 1.13 million cases and 13,969 deaths. In the United States there have been 37.3 million cases and 624,000 deaths. Worldwide there have been 209 million cases and 4.4 million deaths.

While it can be easy to get discouraged in light of what's going on, at the end of the day I can only do my part to make things better. I'll still wear a mask, maintain social distance, and wash my hands often. And be grateful that I live where I do, because waking up to this in the morning certainly helps ease the frustration I have that others have not and are not doing their part.

Mountain Island Lake

Monday, August 16, 2021

Where's the Pot of Gold?

rainbow but no gold
We have been having some strange weather lately. Tropical Storm Fred to the south has been unpredictable, and the forecasters keep saying each day that we will be getting rain. And each day it gets cloudy, a little windy, and some thunder rolls in. But rainfall has been negligible. Following what little rain we got yesterday, this vibrant rainbow appeared in the northeastern sky. That was a consolation prize, I suppose.

While we need the rain, I really hope the forecast for today is wrong as it is so often. We are hosting two pickleball clinics tonight on our outdoor courts. The first hour at 7:00 is for beginners, and then my husband and I will take those 8 students to the tennis courts (which are also striped for pickleball). We will work with them on what they learned for an hour or so. At 8:00 the instructor will then work with 8 advanced beginners on the pickleball courts for an hour and a half to help them improve their skills. 

When the sign up was posted for the two clinics, they filled in a few hours. So we have a second set being offered next Monday, and those signups filled immediately as well. It's obvious we have a huge need (and desire) for these types of clinics here. I just hope we can get them in, because rescheduling could be incredibly difficult. Here's hoping that our pot of gold is filled with sunshine in a couple of hours!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Good News Day

This morning was my followup visit to the surgeon's office. Of course, I did not get to meet with the surgeon but instead with his physician assistant. He was really kind, answered all of my questions and checked on my range of motion. He also went over the photos we were given of the surgery itself. We had no idea what we were looking at, so it all made a lot of sense once he reviewed them with us. It was all quite interesting, and I could see why my rotation was so limited and where the pain was coming from. 

He stressed the need to keep the arm moving, to do exercises at home throughout the day, and he would like to see me in physical therapy five days a week. That is not going to happen for a number of reasons, but I will go three days a week for awhile in addition to doing my therapy at home. Most importantly, he released me for driving AND to play pickleball! As I was originally told I would be out 6-8 weeks, this was welcome news indeed. He said there is nothing I can hurt or screw up, so do whatever feels okay. He just doesn't want me lifting more than a case of water at this point. My followup appointment is in 6 weeks, and I suspect that will be the last time I have to see them.

This afternoon was my third physical therapy session. It went fine, though certain exercises hurt quite a bit. He is pleased with my progress and feels my range of motion has improved even since Monday's session. So all in all, it was a good news day.

gray treefrog
On another subject, the weirdest thing happened the other night. I went upstairs to close the windows, and as I walked past the bathroom something caught my eye. When I glanced in I could see there was something on the toilet that shouldn't be there. I flipped on the light to see two beady eyes staring at me from the toilet seat. My first thought was a mouse, and how in the world would it climb up a toilet. But then I realized it was a tree frog! And he had pooped on the toilet seat as well. Obviously he isn't toilet trained - ha! I have absolutely no idea how he got in the bathroom on the second floor. Could he have come in through the toilet? It was certainly not something you see every day. I called for my husband to come and take a look. He brought a plastic container, scooped the frog into it, and released him outside. Hopefully this is a one and done deal.

Monday, August 9, 2021

One Week Post Op

comfort food from a neighbor
It's been a week since my arthroscopic surgery on my left shoulder. I had my first physical therapy last Thursday afternoon, and it wasn't too bad. Mostly the therapist needed to do a bunch of measurements to see what my range of motion is currently. He did have me do four exercises, which I am to repeat once a day. What I love about this PT practice is that they have a patient portal which has short videos of each of my exercises so I can refresh myself on the correct positions of each. I can also log in my therapy to track what I'm doing. I have been doing the exercises twice a day as the pain is bearable when I do them.

My stomach has still been a little upset ever since surgery. I'm not sure if it is lingering remnants of the anesthesia or the three oxycodone pills I took. Or maybe a combination of both. So far today I feel pretty good, so hopefully I've turned the corner on that small complication. Otherwise, my arm has a dull ache similar to before surgery, and I feel the range of motion is no worse than before. I'm choosing to think that is a good thing since I would guess the surgery messed things up a little in there. I see the physical therapist again this afternoon, and my surgeon's physicians assistant on Wednesday, so I'll get a better read on where I should be after those appointments.

Assuming I feel okay, we will go to Lowe's after my appointment today. We want to look at curtain rods as my neighbor told me they have decent ones. We have nice pull down shades on all our windows, and we like the clean look of that. However, the front bedroom has a lot of light coming in at night from the streetlight. In hindsight, I wish we would have ordered the room darkening shade for that room like we did for our bedroom. But a room darkening curtain should do the trick to make it more comfortable for guests to sleep. We have company coming in a couple weeks, and more in September and October. Of course that's assuming everything doesn't get shut down again due to Covid-19 and the more transmittable Delta variant that's running rampant. With just 50% of the US population being fully vaccinated, it is hard to remain optimistic we will see the end of this any time soon.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021


ready for surgery
Yesterday was my arthroscopic surgery and manipulation to free up my frozen shoulder. I didn't get the call to tell me what time to arrive until 6:00 p.m. the night before. Wow, I guess none of us needs to plan our surgical day or anything. I was told to arrive at the surgery center by 8:00 a.m. That was actually a pretty good time slot since I was not allowed to eat or drink anything after 10:00 Monday night. I also had to shower with Hibiclens Monday night and again on Tuesday morning, so at least we didn't need to leave our house at 6 or anything.

It was raining, so we allowed 45 minutes to get to the center, arriving at 7:50. I had been told that Jim needed to be masked and stay in the waiting room the whole time. Surgery was scheduled for 9:30, and would take 1/2 hour, then I would be in recovery until 11:00. When we got into the waiting room, it quickly became apparent that the mask mandate was not being enforced. Some people had no mask, some wore them around their chin or under their noses, and a few were compliant. Jim looked around in dismay - as did I, frankly since I was having surgery. 

A couple sat across from us without their masks on. The man looked like he had on a long black skirt, and she had on a skirt with a slit so high it left nothing to the imagination. Including her cellulite. It was very unpleasant. My mask stayed firmly in place until I was taken in the back and they exchanged my cute smiley face mask with the generic hospital mask.

I was taken to the back on time, and gestured to Jim that there was an unoccupied, small consultation room that he could sit in to get away from the unmasked. I would have gone to wait in the car, as the registration lady said that was an option since they had his phone number. He was given a number so he could follow my progress, so he elected to stay in the waiting room.

In the back I was taken to the area where the surgical patients are prepped. I had my own cubby space with three walls and a curtain across the front. I was asked many questions, my temperature was taken, and then I was asked to put on a gown and some bootie slippers. As time went on, it was apparent they were running behind. I was thirsty, hungry and had a major headache from not sleeping much the night before. Fortunately, pre-surgery prep included two Tylenol - yay!

A nurse tried to insert a needle for the IV into a vein on my right hand, and she must have struck a nerve. I yelped and about came off the bed. I told her that hurt worse than my shoulder! She was so apologetic, and took the needle out, but had to press hard on the spot to stop the bleeding and to help prevent bruising. Then she tried for a second vein, which thankfully went much more smoothly. But to show how bad it was, she spent a long time cleaning the blood off my fingers and the floor.

I was able to keep my phone with me so I could text Jim with updates. He said he could see on the board that I was still in pre-op. I was able to let Jim know that unmasked black skirt guy got the cubby next to me. He was asked if he had a negative Covid test, which he did, and then asked if he had been vaccinated. Of course he hadn't!

Finally the anesthesiologist came in and explained that he would do a nerve block on the shoulder. I asked if I would be under when he did that - thinking how ugly the steroid shots are - and he said no, he needed me awake so I could answer questions. They did give me what they called a "margarita" through the IV, and honestly I never felt the nerve block at all. I didn't even realize he had done it until my hand started to go to sleep. Finally the surgeon came in and explained he would make two or possibly three holes in the shoulder, depending on what he saw when he got in there.

They finally wheeled me to surgery at 11:00. I helped shift myself from the bed onto the table, and the next thing I knew they were asking me to take deep breaths through the oxygen mask. I was woken up in recovery at 11:30, and was given some ginger ale. She said my mouth and throat might be sore. I said, "Oh, I guess I was intubated then." She shot me a quick glance and replied, "Where did you learn a big word like that?" I figured it wasn't the time or place to explain that I worked for a medical malpractice insurance company for 15 years. At the end of an hour I was helped to get dressed, put into a wheel chair and taken out to the lobby. They had already called Jim to let him know I was ready. In fact the doctor called him at 11:30 and the recovery nurses called him to let him know when I was there and how I was doing.

We got home and I first hydrated, and then tried a little soup and a few soda crackers. I repeated that for dinner, and was feeling okay. The nerve block was still very much in place, and I have to say having a dead arm is really weird. It's like grabbing the hand of a corpse, except the skin is warm not cold. Jim had gone out in the afternoon to get the two prescriptions they ordered. One was an anti nausea pill and the other a generic Percocet. They repeatedly advised to stay on top of the medicine the first few days, setting the alarm every four hours to take the pain pill. The anti nausea was only to be taken one every 8 hours. I took the first pills at 7:30 and felt okay. The second pill I took at 11:30, and that was okay but I just could not fall asleep. It was almost like it had caffeine instead of codeine in it. By the 3:30 alarm I was feeling sick to my stomach, so I took another anti nausea pill. I held out until 4:00 for the pain pill, hoping my stomach would be settled by then. I also had my first physical therapy (PT) scheduled for 10:00, so I wanted some pain medicine in me before I undertook that. But I continued to feel more and more nauseous, and was throwing up by 8:00.

Jim called the doctor's office as suggested if you felt dizzy or nauseated. It took forever for his call to be answered, only to be told that the doctor's assistant was with a patient and would call him back. In the meantime I was due for a pain pill at 8:00 (stay ahead of the pain, they emphasized) but there was no way I was putting another of the Percocets in me again. By 9:30 we still had no call back, so Jim phoned again, another holding period, and the assistant still wasn't free but would call him soon. I went ahead and called the PT office and said there was no way I could make a 10:00 appointment. I hated to give then so little notice, and I know how important it is to do PT the day after surgery. I was hoping they could get me in during the afternoon, but the best she could do was 2:00 tomorrow.

When the assistant finally called back, he said to just take 3 ibuprofen pills every 4 hours. I can alternate those with Tylenol if I want, which is what I am planning to do. The greatest thing is I can plan for 2 Tylenol PM tablets as my last for the night, so hopefully I can get a few hours of solid sleep tonight. Once the nerve block totally wore off, I removed the sling which has been on since the end of surgery. The doctor doesn't want me to wear it, instead he wants me to move the arm as often as possible. I will only wear the sling when I go out, mostly to let other people know to stay away from that arm. I've been icing the shoulder with the shoulder pad I bought as well to keep the swelling down.

So far the pain is bearable, and I've been doing some minor exercises and arm movements so it doesn't re-freeze. Hopefully this pill regimen will work and I won't need anything stronger for the pain. I'll find out after PT tomorrow!