Monday, December 10, 2012

Dancing (or close) On a New Ankle

     Most of you know I've been suffering from post traumatic arthritis in my right ankle for the past three years.  I fractured it in 1985 and had since worn out the cartilege in that joint so that it was all bone on bone.  I was told to wait as long as I could, since they were improving the procedure all the time.  We pretty much set our sights on this Fall when I would turn 65.  My Medicare kicked in on Oct. 1st, and we didn't waste any time.  As soon as I got the Medicare paperwork in August, I called the Dr's office in Mesa, AZ, and made an appointment for 9:30 on Oct 1st.   He sent me for a CT to evaluate the surrounding bone in the ankle that same afternoon.  All looked well and we set up a preop appt. for Oct. 18th and scheduled surgery for the 24th.
CT Machine
     Gary, I and Bandit left RoVer's Roost in Casa Grande at about 7 am on Oct. 24th, and arrived at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa at about 8:30am.  Gary dropped me off and I started the check-in process, while he got the Class C  parked in the designated area, where he & Bandit would stay.  They were even able to have electricity.  Gary then came to meet me.  I went through the prepping procedure and Dr. Maling came to see me, initial my ankle (see picture), and check for any last minute questions.  Things moved fast after that and it seemed I was being whisked away quickly.  Surgery lasted about 2 1/2 hours and went as expected.
Before surgery with Dr. initials

     By that afternoon I had a brand new Scandinavian Total Ankle Replacement (S.T.A.R.) in my right ankle. I came back to my room quickly and was told to order a meal by phone.  They gave you a menu and you ordered by phone, to have your food delivered about 30 minutes later.  The only complaint I had about the hospital, was this procedure immediately after surgery.  Still under the influence of anesthetic, drugs, and hungry from being NPO since midnight, I didn't make the best choices for my meal and suffered the consequences later with vomiting several times.  I was still queasy the next day and wound up spending a second night in the  hospital.  Other than that, the facility was great.  All rooms were private which was really nice for leaving the TV on all night and getting up and down during the night.

     My foot was wrapped up in a half cast, with a cold pack on it at all times.   The remainder of the hospital stay was uneventful, thankfully, and at about 12:30 Friday, I was released.  I was wheeled out, while Gary went to get the motorhome.  He enjoyed two good night's sleep in the Class C and going out to walk Bandit gave him some much needed relief from the hospital.   The expression on the aide's face when she saw the Class C was priceless as she asked how I was going to get inside.  Gary and I had practiced the day before surgery and had it planned out.  By sitting in the doorway and using the handle to lift myself up I backed in on my bottom.  Then up and onto the couch.  When I looked back at the aide, she said she wished she'd had a camera to video it, as it went so smoothly.   It was another smooth transition into the fifth wheel, (also practiced before we left), when we got back to the park.  I took up residence on the couch, which we had made out into a bed before we left.  That was where I slept for the next six weeks.  We had a beside commode, which was I was able to use by myself, allowing Gary to sleep through the night.
      I was non-weight bearing for three weeks, basically laying on my back with my ankle elevated other than when I got up to use the bedside commode.  While laying on your back watching TV and reading may sound good, in practice it's really boring.   Thank goodness I had friends stop by to visit.  Gary and I really appreciated the friends that brought us meals. 
     I went back to the Dr. at 1 week, when he x-rayed and put a new cast on it.  At week 2, he took the cast off, giving me a large boot, but still no walking.  At week 3, he removed the stitches and I started putting 25% of my weight on it, while wearing the boot and using a walker.  At this point I started physical therapy to increase movement.  I added 25% of my weight each week until I could put total weight on it last week.  I'm still wearing the large boot and using a cane for one more week.  I will go to a brace with tennis shoes later this week.  There has never been any pain in the joint itself, but boy do the unused muscles around the joint complain as I work to get them going again.
Week 1
Boot at Week 3

Week 5
     Gary did a wonderful job as caregiver and of course had to to everything, as far as shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.  He did make one comment wondering how I had done all that when I was working too.  He even gave me blood thinning shots in my tummy, for the first 14 days to prevent blood clots.  I think he kind of enjoyed that part and was disappointed when that ended.  He sure had good technique though.
     Physical therapy consists of exercises, foot massages (which I love) and electrical stimulation with ice for the first few weeks and now heat.  I still have 3-4 weeks of pt to go.  I had new X-rays last week and all looks good.  These pictures are of the standing x-ray equipment in the Dr.'s office.
Standing x-ray machine
Checking X-ray

     Finally, here is my new ankle from 3 views directly facing the front, at an angle, and from the side.

   You can see the two metal pieces attached to the tibia on top and talus on the bottom.  These are made of a combination of metals called cobalt chromium alloy, coated with  pure titanium where they touch my bone.  In between what you can't see is the mobile bearing made out of a medical grade plastic called polyethylene.  This moves between the metal parts as I move my ankle.  Pretty amazing we think!!! 
My goal has been to be dancing on New Year's Eve and that should be possible.  It may not be a polka, but I'll be happy with a waltz and good two-step.
     Gary hasn't played much golf, but continue to play pool daily and has entered a few tournaments.  I'm now able to get over to the clubhouse most days and play cards at night. It's sure great being out and about again.  We've had marvelous, warm weather up until this week, with highs steadily in the 70's.  It's hard to complain when the high's drop into the 60's, knowing how cold it is for our families in Wyoming and Utah, so I won't.  It hasn't happened yet this year, but we do have to drip our water or turn the outside water off for a few nights when temps drop into the 20's or lower.   That's winter in Casa Grande.   
     We had a very nice Thanksgiving, with a lot to be thankful for, as usual this year.  We joined about 50+ others in the clubhouse for dinner that afternoon.  The park provided the turkeys and we all bring various dishes to add to the meal.   Good food with great company.
     We'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year.   We're looking forward to a more active 2013, with more dancing and hiking.  We'll spend the holidays here with our winter family and hope to have new adventures to blog about. 
     Dancing (or close) on a new ankle...............................
     Love and Hugs, Gary, Katy, Rusty and Bandit too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dancing to a New Ankle.............

     Well the time is finally here.  First it was years, then  months, then weeks, then days, and now it's about 16  hours until my surgery for a total ankle replacement.  It's scheduled for 11am tomorrow morning at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, AZ.  We're taking the Class C motorhome up there for Gary and Bandit to stay in.  Rusty is staying home with a friend from our park taking him out and keeping him company.  Here's a drawing of what the ankle replacement looks like.
     Bandit had his neuter surgery and a hernia repair last week.  He had to wear the cone of shame, because of licking his stitches.  Now, if only I could heal as fast as he did.

     I mentioned we really liked the Show Low, AZ area.  It looks like we'll be able to get a summer home there next year.  This is a rough picture of it.  I'll include more when we actually close on it next July.

     To travel there, we go through the beautiful Salt River Canyon between Show Low and Globe, AZ.  Here's a picture of that area.

          Here's a turkey vulture airing out his wings on the road in front of our park.  Nothing special, but I though it was interesting.

     Of course we also have our glorious sunsets.

     That's it for now.  Time to get this posted.  The next time I blog, I will have a new ankle.  YIPEE!!!
Dancing to a new ankle....................
Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty, and Bandit too!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dancing to Dr.'s with Medicare

     We made one last trip to Salt Lake City, UT, to visit with Gary's family before leaving Wyoming.  It's only 75 miles from Evanston, so we make several trips during the summer.  While it's always hard to say goodbye, but we'll look forward to seeing them again next summer.  While there  I stocked up on several 12 packs of Vanilla Diet Pepsi.  We bought several pounds of our favorite bacon at Ken's Kash in Oakley, UT, several packages of Kluski noodles at Smith's, and got some Henna lip balm at Anita's Hair Salon.  These are all items that we cannot get in Arizona.  On the other hand, Arizona does have Trader Joe's.  We understand they are opening a store in Salt Lake City next year, so we'll look forward to that.
      In the couple weeks before we left, we bid farewell and good wishes to two grandsons' heading for college. Cory was heading to Northwest Comm. College in Powell, WY for his second year and Keegan was heading to University of Wyoming in Laramie, for his first year.   It will be fun to hear from them during the year.  I know they will both do well.
     We enjoyed Cowboy Days over Labor Day weekend and the PRCA Rodeo's in town.  At one time it was our favorite weekend with all the country dances.  Now we enjoy seeing and getting together with old friends at the rodeos.
     One of our last activities was helping the local Volunteer Fire Department with their annual fundraiser, the demolition derby.  We have done this the past several years, in Robert's memory.  We enjoy it and it allows us to stay involved with the fire department.
     A couple days before we were set to leave Evanston, we got a message from old friends who would be coming through on the same day we were scheduled to leave.  Since our plans are fairly fluid, we postponed leaving by a day and enjoyed the visit with Mabel and Lloyd, old managers from RoVer's Roost, our RV park in AZ.  We even got to meet their two new furry traveling companions. 
Geocahe #2,525

     Our trip South was fun and uneventful, considering we were traveling with an ill car.   The Warrior performed just fine, but our Honda was without the ability to charge.  Having been told, after diagnosis that the problem was the alternator, we ordered one and Gary spent a whole day taking the old one out and putting the new one in.  While this is a 2 hour job in a mechanic's shop, when you don't have the tools, or the experience, it easily becomes an all day event.  When it still wouldn't charge after Gary finished, it was really disappointing.  Rather than delay our leaving and deal with mechanics we didn't know in a Honda dealership, Gary decided we could leave anyway.  Since we were towing the car, it worked out fine.  We charged it with the motorhome when we got where we were going and only drove it minimally, recharging it after we got back.  It all worked out and we were able to see everything we really wanted to see.  It restricted us slightly on our geocaching, but we still managed to get 25 caches on our trip.   Back in Casa Grande, we took it to Gary's favorite mechanic, who diagnosed a bad alternator.  We ordered another one, exchanged the one Gary had put in, and after Bill replaced a fuse, it is back in working order.

     We started off in Richfield, Utah where I visited their quilt shop and Gary enjoyed the golf course.  We stayed at the Elk's, which is right on the course.  From there we went to Lone Rock Beach, UT, just north of Page, AZ.

We had stayed here last Spring and really enjoyed being able to camp on the beach, despite all the sand in the rig.  It takes a really, really good sweeping when we leave, to get all the sand out.  While there, we toured Upper Antelope Canyon.  This had long been a goal of ours, but we had always put it off.  This time we made the reservations and really enjoyed the tour.  It's on Navajo reservation, so you need to go with a Navajo guide or tour company.  We spent about an hour in the lower canyon.  It was all level and only about 1/4 of a mile long, so Katy could handle it.  I'll include a few pictures, but they don't really do it justice.  There is also a Lower Antelope Canyon, but it has more elevation change, with ladders, etc.  We'll tour that one another time.

     From there we went on to Meteor Crater, AZ to visit with friends from 7 years ago when we worked there.  As usual, it was loads of fun to catch up with Paul and Faith and hear what all they had been doing.  After two days, we went on to Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ.  We stayed at Scotty's Reservoir there.  Its a nice campground that is free, with a five day stay limit.  There were volunteer camphosts there this time, so things were in great shape.  We visited the local quilt shop, or course, and friends from the Roost, Frank and Suzanne.  We really like this area and hope to spend more time there in the future.

     Then it was back to the Roost, a little early, but we wanted to get things opened up, unpacked, and settled in before Katy's  Dr. appt. on Oct. 1st.  Bandit did pretty good on the trip south.  Like most kids, everything goes in his mouth.  It will be nice when that phase is over with and he has his permanent teeth.  Although he was a little young, his fur had gotten soooooooo long and heavy that we just knew he  had to be miserable in the heat, so we took the plunge and had him groomed.  While Katy will most likely do it in the future, she thought it would be easier to keep up with it after having it done professionally once.  They did a beautiful job and it was fun to discover there was a real dog under all that fur.  He looks just as cute and is still just as mischievous.

     Since everything goes in Bandit's mouth, I cleaned out all the books and magazines under our coffee table.  Within a few minutes Bandit decided it was a pretty good bed.  I added the cushion from his night time bed and now he has a day time bed too.

    Well today is October 1st, as I write this section.  It is a momentous day, as it is my first day on Medicare and it has been put to good use already.  I met with my ankle surgeon today and had 3 x-rays there.  He agreed with the previous two Dr.'s that an ankle replacement is the best option for my right ankle.  We discussed three different devices and which would be the best for me.  Then he ordered a CT to evaluate the structures and bone around my ankle to make sure all the devices were suitable or weed out any that would not work.  He'll call me with the results of that and then we'll schedule the surgery.  Most likely it will be in 2-4 weeks.  It's scary, but exciting to finally be doing something to end the pain.

     I've had a lot of people ask me what caused my ankle to deteriorate.  In the research I've done, I found out that an ankle that has had severe trauma &/or been broken is 70% more likely to develop post traumatic arthritis.  I broke my right (bad) ankle in 1984 and  my left ankle (no problems so far) in 1987.  Other than that, who knows why these things develop.  I learned long ago not to say, "why me?"  The only answer is, "why not me?"  I know we've been very fortunate over the years to have good health, so I'm not complaining.  I may not run again, but look forward to walks, hikes, and especially dancing.  I'll post on facebook when the surgery date is set, but will probably not do another blog until a month or so after surgery.
     RoVer's Roost fell victim to a 100 year flood this summer on July 4th.  A few sheds were affected, but the main damage was to the clubhouse.  Although there was only a few inches of water inside, it soaked up the sheet rock inside and ruined all the carpeting.  In a flood, it's never clean water, but very dirty.  Repairs are underway, with the sheetrock having been replaced and the painting finished last week.  What a mess for our poor summer residents.  Here's a picture from near the entrance to the park.
     I almost forgot to mention the excitement that awaited me the first time I did laundry at the Roost.  I'd had gone over to change loads from the washer to the dryer, parked my scooter and gone inside.  After a few minutes I came back out to wait for the other load to finish.  I stepped outside and then heard a funny noise.  I started looking around and saw the rattler about 2-3 feet away from me.  I must have stepped over or next to it as I came outside.  Lord only knows where it was before I went inside.  Even with a bad ankle, I moved quickly away, screaming and hollering for Gary as I went.  He got Francis, our Manager, who removed it from the park.  I guess I must have momentarily forgot to breathe during this, as I was gasping for air when Gary got there.  In the picture, the snake is in the same coiled position, he was in when I first saw him.  You can see the door sill to the laundry.  He hadn't moved for at least 10 minutes (guess, my screaming scared him).  The next Sunday Gary was doing laundry and found a scorpion behind the laundry, so definitely beware of the creepy, crawlies back there.

    That's it on this end.  Until I write again, I'm dancing to the Dr.'s with Medicare........................
     Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty, and Bandit too!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dancing Through 2012 Summer

     It's been a jam packed summer & I've neglected my blog terribly.  As a result there's lots to include here, so I'll apologize if this is too long.   I mentioned Gary and our daughter Riki playing in the National Fallen Firefighter's golf tournament, but forgot to include that Gary won the men's long putt and Riki won the women's long drive.
      I told you in the last blog that our beloved Spicy had been ill, but we were still hopeful.  Unfortunately, after four weeks of force feeding him, his little heart just wasn't strong enough for him to recover and we had to make the tough decision to let him go on June 29th.  Those of you who have been there know how tough this is.  Thanks so much for all the kind words, emails, facebook sharing, cards, etc.  They really helped a lot.  Although we knew we'd get another dog, we wanted to give ourselves time to grieve and heal before jumping into another pup.  More on this later.
     We spent two weeks in the forest, one in July and this past week.  In July we were hit with almost daily thundershowers.  They seemed to hit right at suppertime each day.  Our trip this past week was a complete turnaround with only one rain storm, at about 3am one night.  We enjoyed the river with Gary's sister, Pam and her family.
Pam & Jim Cooking Breakfast
The Leffler Family

Joe and friend Julie with Hank
Chad missing his girls

On August 18th, we celebrated International Geocaching Day, by all going to visit the Fairy Forest Pot of Gold, a geocache located behind a campground.  It started about 10 years ago with painted rocks in a "Pot of Gold."  Since then it has been added to by hundreds of people and now is about an acre in size.  There is everything from small villages, to eyes in the trees, to waterfalls & lakes, to Stonehenge, and much, much more.  It is really amazing. I've included a few pictures, but they don't do it justice, since there is so much.
Gary at the Pot of Gold Geocache
Stonehenge in the Fairy Forest

     I have to include one last picture of Gary and Rusty relaxing.  In the background is the very low Bear River.   Of course, we enjoyed the sunshine, food, great company, campfire stories, and fun times.  Right behind where Gary is, we spotted a nice bull moose crossing the river, the next day.

     Summer is fair time in Uinta County, WY.  I entered 6 quilts and 2 pieces of jewelry.  It's the first time I've ever received all blue ribbons.  In addition my bracelet I learned to make at Escapade last summer won the Reserve Grand Champion Ribbon.  Needless to say, I was pretty proud.  The gals at a local quilt shop (R & V Quilt Shop) had asked me to teach a class, so it was exciting when the quilt I taught turned out to be a Grand Champion winner.
Escapade Crystal Bracelet
Grand Champion Quilt
      Gary decided to enter the Wyoming Senior Olympics this summer.  They were held in Cheyenne, Wyoming the first week of August.  The Wyoming Quilt Shop Hop was also going on, so I was able to convince Gary it would be fun to do the Eastern loop.  Because the Quilt shops are so spread out in Wyoming, they organized three loops.  You needed to complete one loop or 14 shops to qualify for entry for prizes.  Since we were in Cheyenne, the Eastern loop was the shortest (only 460 miles) to visit Casper, Douglas, Lusk, and Torrington.  We had gone through Laramie on our way over and were staying in Cheyenne.  We also stopped at Green River shops on the way over.  All together, we visited 11 quilt shops on the trip (four of them twice).  It was great fun seeing new shops and of course, I had to get some new patterns, kits, and fabric.  I think I'll have plenty to do this winter. 
     In addition to all the quilt shops, I arranged for us to get out yearly blood draws done while we were in Cheyenne.  We usually get this done in Evanston, in conjunction with their annual draws at the State Hospital where I retired from.  This year, the timing didn't work out, but since they have weekly draws in Cheyenne, we were able to get them done there.  It turned out to the morning of Gary's singles billiard tournament.  While I'd given Gary plenty of excuses should he not do well, he wound up a two time gold medalist, winning his age group in both singles and doubles.

Two Time Gold Medalist
      Like most of you, we also enjoyed watching the Summer Olympics whenever we could.  While in Cheyenne I wandered into a pet store and of course, ran into some puppies.  In talking with Gary, we decided we were ready to add another puppy to our family.  On August 22nd, we brought the cutest ball of fluff home.  He's an 11 week old male Shih Tzu.  We weren't sure of the a name, so I posted his picture on Facebook and asked our friends to suggest  names.  The favorite turned out to be the one we selected, "Bandit".  I think you can see why.  Other great suggestions included Zorro, Trooper (like a black and white patrol car), RoVer, Rider, Scamp and Cowboy. 

Bandit's first day home

Bandit drinking from the lickit faucet.
     Of course, the downside to a puppy is the housebreaking, chewing, etc.  He's so darn cute though that it's worth it.  He'll be anxious to meet all our winter friends in another month.  Hard as it is to believe, it's time for us to plan our trip South.  We plan on leaving Wyoming around Sep.10th.  We hope to make stops in Richfield, UT;  Lone Rock Beach at Lake Powell, UT;  Meteor Crater, AZ; and Scotty's Reservoir by Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ.
  The other exciting news from the Summer was receiving my Medicare card and information.  Since I will become eligible on Oct. 1st (turning 65 on Oct. 31st),  I called to make the initial appointment with the ankle surgeon and have it scheduled for 9:30am on Oct. 1st.
     I think that's finally it, so I'll just tell all our RVing friends to travel safe, so we can see you soon in AZ and to our WY-UT friends and family, we'll miss you, but look forward to seeing you again next summer.

Soon to be Dancing Our Way South................................

Hugs, Katy, Gary, Rusty, and Bandit too!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dancing to Pomp & Circumstance.....

     With our grandchildren getting older, high school graduations will abound for the next few years, as we'll have six over three years.  After a short break, we'll start with college graduations. They are fun years though and it's great to see the grandkids recognized for their hard work and efforts.
     We started with Jentry's graduation from Herriman High School in Herriman, Utah.  It is a  new high school and his class was the second to graduate from there.   Jentry had many honors in wrestling, both in Alaska and this last year in Utah.  He was a regional champion but had the bad timing and misfortune of having appendicitis and going into surgery the day of the state tournament.  With 490 in his class, and at least 10 tickets each, they needed a really large place, so it was at the Maverick Center in Salt Lake City.  They made a neat entrance with the fellows in burgundy and the gals in navy blue, then walked down a red carpet to their seats.   It was an exciting night to be a part of!  Jentry's future plans include college in Salt Lake, & a mission for the LDS church.

         Because we were in Evanston we were able to attend choir concerts, awards banquets and the Awards assembly at the high school, the week before graduation.  Keegan received several honors including the top 10% of this class, with 4 years of a 4.0 GPA, a Marine Corps award for Scholastic excellence, department awards for outstanding college English, and Political Science, as well as honors for student council, National Honor Society, and Spanish Honor Society.   His sister Meghan (a Senior next year), received awards for 3 years of a 4.0 GPA, Highest PSAT score in the school, as well as highest ASVAB score, (military pretest).  Keegan had 172 in his class, so they were able to hold the ceremonies in the high school auditorium, with graduates getting 4-6 tickets each.   Keegan and his mom, Riki, kept a special surprise for all of us, until we saw the program at graduation. Keegan was a graduation speaker and spoke of taking advantage of every opportunity coming your way.  He did a great job!

     Riki had helped organize a post graduation party with 17 other Moms of Keegan's friends.  Most had gone to school together since kindergarten and wanted to go to each other's parties.  They rented the recently renovated Roundhouse in Evanston.  Each graduate had a table with pictures of them growing up and their awards displayed.  There was no limit to the number of family and friends that could attend and with 400 hamburgers, 200 hot dogs and side salads, cakes, and other desserts brought by all families, there was plenty of food for all. Best of all, the new graduates could celebrate with both their friends and family!

     Keegan's future plans include attending the University of Wyoming (Go Cowboys!!!) on a full academic scholarship;  Although he was accepted at several other colleges with scholarships, this was the only one offering a full ride.  The idea of graduating without student loans, was too appealing to turn down.  He'll be in the  honors program with special housing and registration status, majoring in engineering.  Besides all the graduation activities, we're staying busy with the seniors in town.  Gary's playing pool every morning and I'm in the water at the Rec Center for water aerobics and water yoga 5 days a week.  My back still twinges now and then , but is getting stronger and hurting less all the time.  Here's a shot of the beautiful pool in the Evanston Rec Center.  Seniors can get a pass for $39 for June, July, and August.  It's good seven days a week, includes all classes, and is only about a mile from us.

      The only downer we've had has been Spicy getting sick.  Spicy is the younger of our two Shih Tzu's, at nine years old.  We learned a year ago that he had a heart murmur and now a valve is not pumping effectively, leading to congestive heart failure.  We've been able to get the water off his lungs with medication and  stabilize the pumping, but he stopped eating.  After two weeks of force feeding special dog food with a syringe every 2-3 hours, we're still hopeful he'll regain hi appetite and start eating again.  I"m sure all our friends with pets understand how hard it is to watch one go downhill so fast.  Rusty at 14 continues to do well.  Here's Spicy in one of his favorite spots in our 5th wheel, over the heater vent.

     Gary and Riki joined the Evanston Fire Department team to play in the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation golf tournament in Utah.  These have become major fund raisers across the country.  Utah's is held at Thanksgiving Point, a beautiful course in Lehi, Ut.  We went down a couple days early and parked at the local Cabela's.  They have a huge parking lot, with dedicated RV parking, water, and a dump station.  We really enjoyed our time there and were able to find 19 geocaches in the area, to get to 2,401 total.

      It looks like we'll be staying in this area for the rest of the summer.  We'll be spending some time in the forest, camping with family, as well as the usual festivals, golf tournaments, quilt classes, etc.  Once again, if any of you are in SW Wyoming or Salt Lake City, Utah area, give us a call.  We plan on being here through the beginning of September. 

Dancing on down the road in Evanston........................
Hugs, Katy and Gary, Rusty and Spicy too!