Monday, September 02, 2013


Since June:

Late June: Mini-family union/reunion in Santa Fe.  We rented a "cabin" and spent a few days with the kids and grandkids.  This is Pappy and the grand-kids celebrating Lillie's second birthday. We "bockbockbocked" Happy Birthday to the glee of the kiddo's. 
We weren't sure how we'd entertain the young-uns, but they discovered the bed of my pickup truck. A chain, some tied down rope, a dropcloth and a couple of paint stir sticks kept them busy for hours. Kids are still kids if we let them be kids.

Unfortunately, the grandson fell into the cactus to the right of the truck and three of us spent an hour with tweezers and duct tape pulling cactus spines out of his legs and butt on the front porch. It occurred to us afterwards, if someone had driven by and see a naked screaming kid with three adults assaulting him with tweezers and duct tape, we'd all be in prison right now.  Quote of the year by the grandson, "This is not the way to start a day."

We all visited Monk-son at the monastery. Some of the kids had never been to the monastery. A good time was had by all and a lot of misconceptions were overcome.

After the reunion I had my knee replacement surgery. Click on the link if you like watching Gray's Anatomy and ER. It is just a bigger version of the toe joint replacement I had done in May. I needed to get the toe fixed and rehabbed so I would walk correctly and not mess up the new knee. The foot issues contributed to my knee (hip and lower back) problems because I was walking on the side of my foot because of my toe pain.

Spiritual metaphor: you have to fix things in the right order. The toe is a small thing but damaged the bigger stuff upstream from it. This is 36 hours post-op. Yeah, it hurt.

The surgery didn't go well. I was supposed to walk out of the hospital after three days. During the physical therapy sessions I couldn't walk more than a few feet without almost passing out. The oral pain meds weren't touching the pain. They started giving me intravenous pain meds. My blood pressure was crashing to 90/40. The physical therapist was treating me like I was a wimp.  I wanted to tell her, "Look, this is a guy who sliced his foot wide open on a metal roof, wrapped it up in paper towels and duct tape and finished the job in 110 degree heat before getting seven stitches 6 hours later... don't look at me in that condescending tone of voice."

After three days they figured out I needed a blood transfusion and the surgeon came in and said my knee was REALLY messed up. I was in surgery for 3.5 hours instead of the normal 1.5, and he had to peel my ligaments and tendons away from my bones to remove all the arthritis.

I was discharged to a nursing home/rehab facility. I was transported by Cheech and Chong and careened through Phoenix on a gurney in the back of a van to a five star rehab where I did inpatient rehab physical therapy for almost two weeks. The room was like a luxury hotel. A full restaurant with prime rib or steak on the menu every night. Cost? 978.00 a day and 4 one hour sessions of brutal therapy a day. Thank God I took out the top of the line health insurance at the beginning of the school year. I've been doing outpatient physical therapy three days a week for about six weeks, probably looking at another couple months. I think physical therapists are Nazi's reincarnated.

While I was in the nursing home, on the day I was able to get out of a wheel chair and use a walker and walk to the physical therapy room, and had a bowel movement before becoming septic and having to endure yet more invasive treatments, our grandaughter was born. I didn't get to be there for the birth like we had planned, but they came by and visited on their way home from the hospital.  Welcome to this world, Nellie Marie!

Here is a visit to the great grandparents a couple weeks ago. Nellie, meet Nellie.

My Mom is showing signs of dementia. Her short term and parts of her long term memory are basically gone. She repeats herself over and over in conversations and can't remember accurately the past year or so. She can still tell stories from her childhood. In spite of everything she's been through in her life she says joyfully,  "I can't believe I've lived long enough to see a great grandchild!" Her dementia has mellowed her out and in general, for 85, she's working around her various infirmities. My Dad is still able to deal with things. It is a strange time in life right now keeping a close eye on my parents. They're still resisting assisted living or moving in with us. We're not sure what the next couple years will bring.

Our Mission Church has been assigned a new priest. I like him a lot and we have a lot of new families visiting. We've had a rash of new babies and pregnancies, our demographics are starting to look like a real community. I returned during Lent after a year's hiatus and have been absent mostly during my recent recovery. Whether it is ego or not, I don't feel like I'm necessary any more. That is a good place to be, whether it is ego or not.

All in all, my take away from my last 4 months of surgeries and rehab and summer vacation: Be a kid. Pleasure isn't that complicated nor expensive. Pay attention. Don't fall in the cactus after you've been told to be careful. Life is basically pushing through the pain, doing what you need to do to get healed from your brokenness. Duct tape fixes a lot of things. There are times people might think you're a wimp, but screw them. On the other hand, doctors are there to heal you, not make you feel good. Follow your prescriptions and do what you can, but don't be a wimp. Be honest about your pain, but don't let it rule you.  Enjoy your relationships, family, church or otherwise. They're not perfect, but neither are you. Deal with reality, but let legitimate joy happen.

And one last picture of Nellie (and her Mommy).  My beautiful girlies.