You can find the original episodes at:

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 1)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 2)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 3)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 4)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses, Part 5

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and lay there for a moment in the dark wondering where I was and what woke me up. BARK!! I had fallen asleep well before my normal bedtime, and my dog didn’t get her usual early evening constitutional so she was standing at the door. Every few minutes she would give a short, urgent bark. ARGroan!

I tried to roll out of bed to let her out and almost fell on my head. Something was wrapped around my leg! Then the events of the previous day seeped into the mush that filled my head and I remembered the surgery….and the fall. I reached down and felt around my knee to see how big it was and realized that I couldn’t find it under all the wrappings.

For some reason, as I lay there alone in my apartment with my dog barking at the door, this struck me as funny and I was overcome by hysterical laughter. Then, an intense feeling of sadness and abandonment rolled over me in a wave and before you could say ‘post traumatic stress syndrome’ the tears were rolling down my cheeks and I was sobbing as uncontrollably as I had been laughing a moment before. Fortunately, before I could get entrenched too deeply in this frame of mind, the cycle was interrupted by another bark from the direction of the door and a suddenly urgent bladder.

And the reality of my situation thundered in on me. I was afraid to try to get up. I was afraid to use the crutches. And every living creature in the apartment had to pee. Soon.

legphoto 2I’m not sure if it was the drugs or the nerve block, but I was certain that I had very little time to do SOMETHING or I would have to find someplace else to sleep. So….I sat up, got my crutches lined up, and slid my legs off the bed. OK…so far, so good. Then I very carefully bent over and disconnected myself from the now warm ice pump. I stood up on the crutches and swayed back and forth before staggering like a drunken sailor through the house, throwing open the front door and watching Rally trot out, then I turned, waited for equilization of my internal balance bubble, and hitched-slid, hitched-slid, hitched-slid my way to the bathroom. I forgot to move the crutches out of the way when I tried to sit down and nearly spun myself to the floor again, but managed to catch the edge of the door, disengage the crutches and settle onto the toilet. Aaaahhhh!!

legphoto 14I was there for quite a while. Thinking about the trip back to the bedroom. How I would place each crutch for maximum stability. I could turn the lights out on the way, and tuck myself safely back into bed. The ice water was warm now, and I could feel my leg swelling the longer I was more-or-less upright, but I couldn’t think of a solution to that at the moment, so I decided to leave it for the next time I woke up.

Finally, all my decisions made, I worked my way back to the bedroom, swung my legs back into bed, flipped the covers over myself…..and BARK!! Rally wanted in. Sigh….maybe she’ll change her mind, I thought…. BARK!! No, she wasn’t changing her mind. I sat up, swung my legs back out of bed, braced myself for the pressure under my arms and on the heels of my hands (they already felt bruised after only one trip to the bathroom) and staggered back to the door. Naturally, my blind/deaf dog was standing three feet from the door and I had to reach out and touch her with the crutch before she realized the door was open, while at the same time fending off the barn cats who were attempting to sneak into the house. I would have let one or two in to comfort me, but I didn’t think I could bend over to clean out the litter box.

Eventually Rally ended up inside, the cats remained outside, and I was ready to collapse. How do people who use crutches all the time survive it? I wondered as I sat there gathering strength for the trip back to the bedroom. I would like to say that I surged to my feet, took control of those crutches, and marched in a frog-hopping sort of way straight back to bed, but instead the trip was completed in a 100 year old geriatric shuffle, and probably took several minutes.

By the time I had reached the bed I was freezing—except my knee, which was on fire—and I could barely lift my legs far enough over the edge of the bed to be safe.

Too tired and defeated to even cry, I tucked myself in the best I could, huddled under the covers, and slipped again into a mostly drugged sleep.

To Be Continued….

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You can find previous episodes at:

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 1)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 2)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 3)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 4)

VinHospitalThe next thing I remember I was back in my room having brilliant conversations with my visitors and the nurse… one word at a time… between naps. I didn’t realize how little time I was staying awake until I asked the nurse for a muffin. Next time I opened my eyes there was a blueberry muffin sitting on the bedside table with my name on it. The nurse stepped back into the room to make sure I didn’t choke. How silly was that? I’ve been eating by myself for well over 50 years! I took a fork full of muffin and before I could finish chewing was falling asleep. I barely had time to swallow before drifting off again. So, I wolfed down about four tiny bites of that muffin… one bite at a time… between naps. Then I had to pee.

I groped around and found the call button and, like a genie from a bottle, it seemed that instantly there was a nurse with a smile awaiting my demands. “I have to pee”, I said, and the nurse disappeared to get a big, strong, handsome guy to carry me to the bathroom…or a wheelchair, I didn’t much care at this point as long as it was fast. Meantime, Dad and Carolyn mysteriously vacated the room and the nurse returned WITH A BEDPAN and sat it on the table then, began to flip up the covers in prepparation for sliding that THING under my backside.

ARP! Alternate plan! No sooner had my genie-nurse placed the bedpan on the little table than a wave of surprise nausea overwhelmed me. And, oh, the extreme gratitude of having a clean bedpan at your side when the post-anesthesia digestive rejection hits out of the blue. What a wonderful serendipity of timing! I totally understand now why they don’t want you to eat the night before surgery, and I will never complain about it again.

7photo 3Once the bedpan was cleaned and sterilized (don’t look at me, I don’t make the rules), I had the pleasure of actually using it as a bedpan. By the way, have you seen the new bedpans? They are a marvel of modern engineering! No more the big, oddly-shaped stainless steel bowls of the past that we perched on as they wobbled under us like a drunk donkey, the new ones are flat on one end so they slide under you easily. Of course, they’re also one-size-fits-all so at my size I felt like I was falling in; and it didn’t help that there was a very nice and awesomely chatty nurse keeping an eye on me the whole time. As you can imagine, it took a few minutes. Oh, and after my original use of the bedpan they made sure there was one of those little plastic kidney-shaped bowls handy at all times.

So…the hour of allotted recovery time passed and I was still asleep—more than less.   Since you can’t be hopping around on crutches dragging a leg around behind you in the dirt when you leave, the rule of knee surgery is that if you can lift your injured leg off the bed you’re ready to go home. And I was still asleep. Did I mention that I react very strongly to medications? It’s one of the big reasons that I would rather have a headache than take them.

Lifting the leg off the bed usually happens around the end of the first hour. Four hours and a nurse shift-change later, almost entirly spent in a drugged sleep, I finally managed to lift my leg off the bed….sort of. Good enough! It was declared that I could go home. WooHoo!

Now came the forty-five minutes of drive time strategically interspersed with stops to empty the little plastic kidney-shaped bowl they were kind enough to give me for the trip. After what was undoubtedly three days, we made it to my apartment.

photo 03Once there everyone hussled and bustled about, getting me in and settled, getting Rally Dog out of her stall prison, filling her water and food bowls, making sure I had water and plastic hospital bowl and crackers at bedside, and that my bubble-wrap water cooler thingy was hooked up and running, and I had taken my pain medication—as per doctor’s orders. We were all exhausted so Dad and Carolyn tucked me in and headed for home.

I was alone….the curtains blocked the late-afternoon light…it was quiet…I had just taken a Happy Pill…I drifted off into a deeply drug-induced sleep. Just for the record, I’m not a doctor person and I don’t take pills. If I have a cold, I use a box of tissues and get on with my life, if I get a cut, I put some cream and a bandage on it and get on with my life, so every pill I take has an affect almost twice as strong as anyone else the same size would get. Oh, I did mention this? Blame my repetitiveness on the drugs.

6photo 2When I woke the bedroom was dark, but the lights were on in the living room and, of course, how could I sleep with the lights on? Also, I had to pee again. So, I disentangled myself from the bed, remembered to disconnect the ice machine, grasped my crutches, slipped, and promptly fell down…Right Smack In The Middle…. of my freshly repaired knee onto the linoleum-over-concrete floor yelling, “Oh SHIT!” all the way down. I may have used the F word.

Even in a drug-induced stupor I knew nothing good was likely to come of any of this. I lay there attempting to assess the situation and the only thought that would form was, ‘How am I going to get up?’ so I rolled to the side, wondering if it mattered now whether I used that leg or not. After laying there for a few minutes and thinking (ok, not so much ‘thinking’ as rolling random thoughts around in my empty, echoing head), I grabbed the door handle and a book shelf and managed to regain my foot. As I was struggling to stand I realized that it didn’t matter if I tried to use the repaired leg or not, the nerve block was still in force and nothing this side of a cattle prod was going to get any use out of it.

Now I was afraid to trust my balance on the crutches so I re-connected the ice machine, packed myself back into bed, took another pain pill—more to kill my, ‘Will I ever walk again?’ thoughts than any imagined pain–and went back to sleep.

My thought, as I was being pulled to unconsciousness by the overload of drugs:

‘Please don’t let my kneecap be shattered!’

To be continued….

Knee Haiku

May 22, 2013

It’s so amazing what they can do with modern surgical proceedures. My knee feels like an alien grafting, but with 5 small bandaides you can conceal every incision. As Spock would say, “Fascinating!”

Good Knee

kneesBend, stretch, step, crawl, leap,

no matter what you’re doing

you need a good knee

Knee Meaning

Hot and fevered joint,

why do you torture me now?

I treated you well.

Bad Knee

Heat builds to boiling;

Ice pack elicits shocked squeals.

Oh no! A bad knee?

Swelling

Skin stretched shiny taut

bulges out where dents should be.

Swelling binds my knee.

You can find the first and second episodes at:

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horse (Part 1)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horse (Part 2)

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 3)

Great! I was a widow living alone with six cats, a blind and deaf dog, and four horses. The aftermath of the surgery would leave me unable to touch my toe to the ground for almost two weeks. How many favors was I going to have to call in to get all this done? For a minimum of two weeks?

Vickie's Camera 006 (2)I was an active person! I rode horses, walked my dog, wandered around flea markets,  blogged (OK, so I can blog while laid up, but I only sleep about six hours a night because my back hurts if I lay in bed longer than that.) How on earth was I going to make it two whole weeks without moving faster than …….I couldn’t even think of anything slower than what I would be. AND he scheduled the surgery less than two weeks away….ARGH!!

OK….I took a deep breath, at that moment ‘Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ popped into my head, and I whispered, “Don’t panic….!”

Then I put my thinking hat on (yes I do, too, have one!): boyfriend had just flown to California and from there heading off to Connecticut for three weeks, brother was at sea for two weeks, sister was in South Carolina with too short notice for her to get time off…..I called Dad.

The invitation was from the heart, Dad and my very sweet new step-mother, Carolyn, wanted me to stay with them, but lived on a busy corner and didn’t want my deaf/blind dog (that smells like an old dog) in the house. I wasn’t willing to put the Rally Dog in a kennel because the last time I did she panicked and tried to eat her way out resulting in a broken tooth and twisted jaw.

Thinking hat on again…No one with a farm was willing to take the responsibility for having her because she couldn’t hear, could barely see, and they were afraid she would get stepped on by a horse, or run over. Some had other dogs that were territorial, some lived on busy streets and worked through the day… well, it looked like I would just have to stay home and take care of myself. What’s the big deal? After all, I AM SUPERWOMAN, damn it!

So, the race was on and I made my lists:

  • get big hay bale for field horses (so helpers will not have to take hay to them every day)

  • buy enough feed to last until I can walk (had to guess at this)

  • stock up on dog food

  • stock up on cat food

  • clean my apartment (I know it won’t last, but I really like living in a clean space)

  • set up the computer and printer in the bed

  • box of food in the bed (all the best stuff, cookies, granola bars, water, peanuts)

  • phone charger in the bed

  • (too bad I couldn’t put the toilet in the bed—more about that later)

  • clean the fridge and throw out everything that will go bad

  • buy groceries that I can prepare easily or that are ready-to-eat

  • gas up the car to drive myself to the hospital

  • make arrangements for a pick-up

Wow! So much to do, so little time, but I managed to get it all done, and off to the hospital I went.

Normal procedure is to be at the hospital two hours before surgery for all the prep work, the surgery lasts about 30 minutes, then an hour in recovery and away we go….NOT!

photo 2I was there only a few minutes late and everyone—nurses, doctors, anesthesiologist, and hospital staff—were wonderful. They were all pleasant, efficient and helpful, and I spent the extra time working on my small laptop in between interruptions for divesting street clothes and donning the excuse for a garment you wear for surgery, being stuck and fitted with a port, and meeting with surgeon, anesthesiologist and surgery nurse. Each of them checked my name on the cute bracelet they gave me, asked me which surgery I was having done and where, and what my name was. The doctor even wrote YES! in large letters on my leg just above my left knee. By the time they came with the roller bed to take me to surgery I felt pretty confident that they all knew who I was, how old I was, and that they were doing surgery on my left knee.

Since there was a surgery planned ahead of me, and day surgery started at 9:00, I did end up delayed by about 45 minutes, not too much in the general scheme of things. This actually worked well because Dad and Carolyn arrived to sit with me for a while and take me home after the surgery. I thought they would have been better arriving around 1:00 in the afternoon, but in my heart I have to admit that I was happy to see them both before going into surgery. As soon as they sat down the nurse, (how sadistic!) brought a coffee for Dad, who appeased me somewhat by making faces and telling me how bad it was as he slurpped it up. Eventually the nurse put something in the IV and the transporter came to get me. I barely remember getting rolled out the door.

To Be Continued….

So….my horse was fine and my knee hurt like hell. Am I on Candid Camera or something? Or a victim of one of Murphy’s more sadistic Laws?

superwoman

Can You Find Super Woman?

OK, it didn’t hurt like hell all the time, only when I walked, or rode, or tried to sleep. The rest of the time it was a strong and active ache. For about a week I was hobbling around like a 100 year old woman with arthritis, and for another two weeks I was not hobbling, but it was only because I am superwoman and I refused to show signs of weakness. After all, I had places to go, people to see, things to do. I couldn’t stop, or even slow down, for an injury. Animals depended on me. But, when no one was looking I lifted my leg into the car with my hands because I couldn’t get my leg to work that way.

Meanwhile, Olivia went lame again. What was wrong with that horse? A call went out to the vet, who spent three hours at the farm blocking, ultra-sounding and x-raying. Diagnosis: she will not get better (more about that in a future blog). No more riding Olivia. Fortunately, she was gorgeous, had fabulous movement, and was a good age for breeding so away she went on lease to be a mommy. A great life for her; one less horse to worry about with a bad knee.

photo 02Finally, in the dark and secret hours of the morning, when no one could see me, I took an aspirin …I ….TOOK ….AN ….ASPIRIN. I, who NEVER take pain medication unless on death’s bed, took an aspirin. That’s when I decided it was time to see a doctor. Well, I thought defensively, I just spent hundreds of dollars to find out why my horse is lame, and the results were somewhat frightening. Was I not worth that? That thought was immediately followed by: Doctor??  What doctor?

Dear Me…I had been in Florida for five years and had not been to see a doctor once. Or to a hospital. Or a clinic. I didn’t know any doctors. As a disgustingly healthy person, what need did I have for doctors? So I called around and, after speaking with several friends, I had an appointment—in a month—with a well respected doctor. Isn’t it funny, once I made the appointment my knee felt better. I almost canceled several times but, just as I was making that decision and reaching for the phone I would step slightly wrong and the knee would hurt again. I somehow knew that if I canceled the appointment Murphy, with his fist full of wretched Laws, would raise his evil head again and my leg would fall off. So, after about a year, that month passed and I met with the doctor. Following the Torture Of 1000 Questions and a cursory exam, she gave me instructions and off I went on my merry way.

From the doctor’s office I was sent to the vampire house where (pleasant surprise) I really didn’t feel a thing, and from there I drove to the MRI/X-ray building. It was quite amazing to me that everything was right on schedule. I waited less than five minutes at each house of small horrors, then had the joy of waiting for the doctor to call with the results.

To my shock, the first thing I was told was that I had high cholesterol—both ‘good’ and ‘bad’–and that, no, they don’t balance out. This is something that I don’t understand. If one is ‘good’ and the other ‘bad’ isn’t that like plus and minus. If you have similar amounts of plus and minus you end up with a very low number. NOT! I, who normally prefer to eat chicken and fish, was told to cut back on my red meat. I wondered how I was supposed to do that?

Oh well, that wasn’t my big problem, the big problem was that I had a new appointment with a specialist. Why? Because there was a tear in my ACL. Naturally, the appointment was a month away.

Another year that lasted a month passed and the great day arrived. And I spent all of 15 minutes with the doctor. He pulled my knee this way and that, told me it was swollen, the joint was loose, and that the MRI and X-Rays showed that I needed surgery. Why? Because I had torn my ACL almost in two, and a section of the meniscus was pulling off the bone. And, guess what? They don’t get better without surgery. Then he asked me if next Friday was OK.

WHAT?   Who was going to look after the horses? The Rally Dog? The cats? ME!? How long would I be off? How long before I’d be normal? (Ok…I do realize the ‘N’ word is not one that is normally usually associated with me, but to me I am ‘normal’.) I had almost a week to figure all this out.

To be continued….

Well friends, it seems that this month has been a very slow blogging month for me so far, but I think this will make up for it.

Of Dogs, Knee Surgery, and Large Horses (Part 1)RIMG0110

If you’ve explored my blog site you’ll know that I have horses. I look after some of them myself and others are with a trainer. The horses I have on this farm are broodmares and occasionally a horse that is recovering from injuries and just needs light work or stall rest. I could write stories about them every day of the week, but this story is more about me than about them.

A few months ago I was working with a huge gray mare that had lameness issues but was finally trotting out sound, so I started bringing her into the stall in the daytime and putting her out at night. This was convenient because I could bring her in and feed her–some trickery here–so she loved coming in, then ride her a little later after her breakfast settled.

I tried cleaning her stall with her in it, but invariably I got hit across the face like a whiplash by her long gray tail. So, rather than taking a chance on losing an eye, the program was changed and in the late afternoon/early evening Olivia would get her pellets first then I would make the rounds of the outside horses, doling out feed along the way and checking them all for booboos, lameness and swellings. By the time I was finished with that chore, Olivia was waiting at the stall door for her walk to the paddock and it was time to clean her stall.

Vickie's Camera 015Rally, my totally deaf and mostly blind dog, would follow along, sniffing her way from here to there, and generally be underfoot until I was finished and ready to go in. She is the kindest, gentlest old soul you would ever find, and normally stays pretty close to me; sometimes so close that I trip over her when I turn around.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had horses or cleaned stalls, but the amount of manure produced is in direct proportion to the amount of feed the horses eat x their size. Since Olivia is 18 hands, which is almost a foot taller than the average horse, she produces a lot of manure.

One afternoon in the late spring there was a group of other boarders standing around talking when I pushed the overloaded and awkward one-wheel wheelbarrow out of Olivia’s stall so, being the incredibly social person and brilliant conversatonalist that I am, I parkd the wheelbarrow and stopped to chat with them. Meanwhile, Rally decided to take a nap in the shade.

A few minutes later I turned back to the wheelbarrow, rolled it about 6 inches and heard a yelp from Rally. Fearing that I had crushed my poor dog with 1000 pounds of horse manure, I attempted the impossible act of reversing the momentum of all that weight, got the whole thing overbalanced, and the wheelbarrow, as if possesed by a demon, tipped over with me between the handles hitting my left knee and flipping me to the ground….right into the pile of manure. This would have been one of those incredibly hilarious slap-stick moments if it wasn’t for the pain in my knee at the time. Even so, I have to smile now at the mental picture of me flipping into a pile of manure and shavings…..yuck!

Fortunately there were a few people still round so in short order, and amid the usual bathroom jokes, I was helped up, Rally was checked (just startled), the manure was shoveled back into the wheelbarrow, and since I was having a hard time standing up, one of the other boarders took the wheelbarrow to the manure pile for me.

I was almost finished for the night anyway so, rather than filling water buckets and putting out hay. I hobbled back into the apartment to nurse my dignity, feed Rally and myself, take a shower, and watch my knee swell.

To Be Continued…..

Awards Nominations

May 13, 2013

RaysOfLight

Read the rest of this entry »

Thank You!

May 13, 2013

ThankYou2

Thank You!

Alone I sit, as in a dream,
gazing blankly at my screen.

Stray thoughts drift along the side;
something profound lurks inside.

Inspiration needs a lift,
thoughts flutter past, I need a gift.

Out the window my eyes gaze;
a peaceful scene, a sunny day,

Horses gambol in the field
while I wait for thoughts to build.

Then thoughts of love, like gentle pearls
drop down on me and all my worlds,

words filled with encouragement–
through keen comments, awards sent.

This friends and readers far and near
have whispered in my writer’s ear.

How could the scribbles from my mind
inspire reactions of this kind?

Could it be my thoughts have power
to move people; make love flower?

There’s just one test I think. I know!
to keep on writing down the flow…..

Just A Baby Monster

May 13, 2013

Monster Kitty was absolutely the most
adorable little thing ever!

IMG_0123

Monster Kitty told me the story this way…
“Da Mousey was diiiiisss biiiigggg!”

 IMG_0122

“But I was fast and I gived him a right….”

IMG_0124

“then I gived him a left like dis….”

IMG_0121

“den I made a big ROAR like dis and scaret
dat Mousey away!”

Monster Kitty,
who’s quite witty,
grew up far
outside the city.

Chasing dust motes,
shedding out coats,
shredding scarves,
sleeping in totes.

Mousely terror,
haughty bearer
of sharp claws.
No collar wearer.

A feline talker,
now a stalker,
through the night
a ghostly walker.

Thank YouFriends #1
Do ya need help now?
Who are you gonna call first?
Who will you allow?

Friends #2
I need a shoulder,
a safe place to shed some tears.
I can count on you.

Friends #3
I am here for you,
no matter what you do.
I’ll always stand true.

Thanks to you all for befriending and ‘following’ me through this month as I developed my ‘poetic voice’. Thanks especially to those of you who left comments and those who nominated me for awards. I’m sorry time didn’t allow me to follow the process, but I promise after I catch up on a week’s worth of lost sleep I’ll properly thank you and pay it all forward.

I have enjoyed the process this month, and it has achieved what–I believe–it was designed for: to give the creative juices a big kick in the butt and get them activated again. And it has certainly worked for me! I’ve posted more in this month than I’ve posted in the last three years. I’m going to work very hard to keep this level of productivity going.

All the best to each and every one of you,

Vickie

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