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Arches National Park (Moab, Utah) Part II

Today’s post is really just a continuation from yesterday… I hadn’t gotten The Kid’s photos and he took quite a few. It is interesting to see the difference between our perspectives and interests.

So the less said, the better. I will just allow you to enjoy the photos:

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We’re busy figuring out where to head next. If you have any suggestions, please comment!

MacCupcake

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Arches National Park (Moab, Utah)

So, The Kid and I got back about a week ago from a trip to Utah. Originally when we moved from California to Missouri, our plan was for the two of us to take a week to make the trek. But at the last moment, it was deemed that I needed to be in Kansas City the next Monday (it was Thursday). If we did a lot of driving each day, we could make it in time.

So, recently, I decided we needed to see some more of America, I opted for those gorgeous lands that we passed through doing seventy miles an hour. On an almost whim, we packed some bags and a cooler and headed west. It was an early Saturday morning and as we punched the button to open the garage door, we were met with a heavy snowfall! As it was just a few days from spring (and just a few days before we had to kick on the A/C), this was surprising to say the least. A quick check of the weather of our destination (high 60’s / low 70’s) and we were off.

(I have to mention that I loved driving through Kansas, as much of the freeways had an 80 mph speed limit!)IMG_4030

Words cannot describe the sheer awe that this place inspires. When you think about the time and process that created this space. My words won’t help either. I think, rather, I will leave you with photos and videos that we took (although I might add some facts as you scroll through them).

The only downside for the park started the second day we were there. For the next nine months (or more) are going to be replacing all the roads in the park. Literature given to us, indicates that the original roads where built between 1958 and 1962 and was designed for about 100,000 to 150,000 visitors annually, where today’s count is closer to 1.5 million!

This means that the park closes each evening at 7:00 pm and stays closed until 7:00 am, although the park is open around the clock starting Friday evenings and remains that way until Monday evening. The other thing to consider is that the only in-park campground is completely closed for the time being – I think they expect at least through the remainder of 2017.

As we stayed through Thursday, the early closing (I think) resulted in less people in the park. We were able to take photos without strangers and spend a lot of time investigating areas that might have been much too crowded before.

The Kid was instrumental on persuading me to walk many of the trails, I think I did them all with the exception of any labeled “strenuous” or “difficult”. I expected my knees to be screaming each day, but really only felt pain on the final day of hiking. Icing my knees helped with that.

So, without further ado:IMG_4050Its difficult to judge the size of these stones… but this might help.

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IMG_4055It was very green, due to the snow melt. Loads of cacti and scrub trees and brush.IMG_4054

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IMG_4061This is my favorite “sculpture” called “The Three Gossips” as it resembles three women walking together.

I’m having some difficulty getting videos off my phone. I also have yet to receive The Kid’s photos and videos, so I may write another post with those.

This is absolutely worth visiting. The Kid and I have decided that we’re going to try and visit more of them. Gives me an excuse to spend quality time with him before he deigns to be ‘too cool’ to hang out with his Mom.MacCupcake

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The ‘Dumbing Down’ of America

I suppose that this probably puts me squarely in the “old lady” category, but I have to tell you this story. It is one of those ‘shaking your head’ in disbelief kind of stories and me and The Kid laughed about it solidly for like four hours on the day it happened and sporadically since it occurred.

My house is a computer connected sort of house. Routers – both wired and wireless -and computers and smart devices abound. I invested in a Nest thermostat about a year ago and have seen great reductions in the amount of heating and cooling we use in that time. I really like that I can make changes to the schedule and the temperature setting in the house without having to go to the hallway (where the thermostat resides) and can do it in the middle of the night with ease.

I had heard about some of the other devices being developed, so I opted to try another. I set me sights on the Nest Cam Outdoor, with installation at the front door. This is so that I can see who is there before having to try to get to the front door from my sewing room or bathroom or wherever I may be. You know, getting up and moving still takes a minute or two to get rolling ever since the bi-lateral knee surgeries.

While on one of my many trips for supplies, The Kid and I found ourselves at Home Depot. And they just happen to have a display for all of the Nest devices. Quite convenient if I do say so myself. So we take one of the purchase cards from the display and along with our other items, we head to check out.

img_3923Now, as you can read, you are supposed to take the card to the service desk and they ring it up and you pay for it… then they get the camera for you.

Well, this particular young lady took the card (and paint and glue etc) and rang the purchases. As she completes the sale via credit card, she places all the items a bag and hands it to us along with the receipt.

Let me reiterate: she places this 6 1/2″ piece of fiber board with some printing on it into a Home Depot bag and hands us it and a receipt that clearly shows that we bought a $200 camera. And then she turns to the next customer.

I’m not usually known for being tongue tied or at a loss for words, but this particular interaction caused me to be able to grasp exactly what she did. I am looking in the bag and then to my son and back again, trying to fit the pieces together in order that something makes sense!

I have to reach into the bag to retrieve the card and then assert myself back into a conversation with her. I have to have the look of befuddlement on my face as I hand her the card back to her and ask “…and you’re now going to actually give me the camera I bought, right?”.

Well, now it is her turn to be confused. She is looking at the card and then to me and back again. I ask her “you don’t think I just paid two hundred bucks for this piece of cardboard, do you?”.

I am shaking my head in disbelief. She tries to hand the card back to me. Even the generally-won’t-say-shit-even-if-he-had-a-mouthful quiet and shy young man looks at her and shaking his head says to her that she needs to get an actual box containing a camera. She turns to another clerk and holds out the card. I have no idea what she is thinking or how the hell she came to be standing behind a cash register in a store where tens of thousands of dollars must go through that store every day.

Her co-worker sort of shrugs and giggles at her and then looks at us and says that they will be right with us. They disappear behind a wall and I can her Clerk2 explaining to Clerk1 that she needs to find the box that corresponds with the code on the card. They are back there a while and I am thinking that they don’t have what we ordered and next comes that hassle that the charge she just rang up will take three days before the credit is applied when they come around the corner with the box.

And yes, I checked it and double checked the code on the box to make sure it is the right one and proceed to slice through the sticker to open the box… I want to make sure there actually is one inside! For some unexplained reason, I wasn’t sure that they didn’t know that there is actually supposed to be a product in exchange for the two hundred bucks and change! Clerk2 is watching me do this and does another sort of chortle kind of sound and make this gesture with her eyes to say ‘Clerk1 is kind of ditzy in a honest sort of way’.

Frankly, I am still shaking my head that this actually transpired! I mean, this isn’t a revolutionary new process for safeguarding expensive small items from sticky fingers… this is a time tested process. Any clue that Clerk1 now understands this is conspicuously absent from her face, but The Kid and I take the box and our bag and head towards the door. I look to my son and say, “Did that really just take place?”. He laughs.

We’re still laughing about it. It is steadfastly becoming part of our personal interaction – a “you had to be there” kind of inside joke. I’ve been wanting to write this story, but I had to go back and get one of those cards so I could take a photo for the post. This post. I’ pretty sure this will be one of those jokes that we keep between us for a long time. ūüôāimg_3922So, to end this post on a positive note, I wanted to show you my violets. I became the defacto owner of this plant when I took over a desk vacated by someone way¬† back in my job history. It has done so well that I had to separate it into two pots. The blooms this year are absolutely amazing… in this planter. The other one is barren so far.img_3921

MacCupcake

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Dare I Say It? (“Good ‘Ol Days”)

I’ve finally gotten around to getting my personal network set up for optimum viewing. Cables have been dropped into my sewing room, my son’s bedroom and into my master suite. It is absolute heaven not having to rely on wireless services anymore (although I do still have it for the remainder of the house for phone use).

So, I’ve been watching a lot of movies, such that I have figuratively run out of new movies to watch. So when I am sewing, I re-watch movies I haven’t seen in the past couple of years. Even some I haven’t seen in decades.

thegraduateToday’s movie was “The Graduate”. Dustin Hoffman is about twenty years old and I had forgotten just how handsome he was (I have always thought he was handsome, but there is just something so insanely adorable about that twenty year old face).graduate-dustin-hoffman-1967

And the movie is set in its own history, that is, it was contemporary when it came out. So, the clothing and the cars and the settings are as they were during that timeframe – mid- to late sixties. I don’t really remember those particular days, as I was just a toddler-ish, maybe five or six. But everything seems so clean (and this is Los Angeles) and fresh and green with plants. And just clean… like no graffiti and trash or congestion or smog.

And the music score is just as just as refreshing. In case you’re not familiar or have forgotten (as I had) is songs by Simon and Garfunkel. Peaceful, tranquil and calming, much as southern California can seem. Seem back then, anyway.

(There was just a scene where the male borders in the house where Hoffman’s character is living and some other residents appear… including a very very young Richard Dreyfus!)richard-dreyfuss-young-76408b40f2a229b21f90f607f8944d83

Anyway, it just struck me as I was talking along (or talking to) with the characters, just how differently people were. I mean, when the characters were angry with each other, the strongest language used were words like “filth” and “scum” and “degenerate”. And the two rooming house “managers” are about the ‘cleanest’ people you could ever know!

But what really strikes me are the “sex scenes”. Not only are there not really any (seems like the lights have to go out to suggest sex is occurring) but the talk about it, the harshest language was sex being referred to as “a piece” and then followed up with laughter and then “…of wedding cake!” was added.¬† Heck, I don’t even think there was any moaning or heavy breathing; even the kisses were rare. I think that this particular scene was the most risqu√©:risqueI’m not sure if it was better than now, but it certainly was more civil. And gentler. At least by this movie’s standards. I was trying to imagine what this movie would be like if it was remade to today’s standards. I don’t think it could.

Good or bad. I don’t know… I guess we live with what we have. Although I could use a little less vulgarity and profanity in my life.

MacCupcake

 

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Little Lost Coco

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks. Now that I am working, trying to wrap up things with the other blog and get the house in some sort of order, I never seem to have the time to sit down and write.

As you may know, I’ve started a new job some months ago. Two weeks ago (more or less) as The Kid was dropping me at work, he saw something out of the corner of his eye. Way over in the landscaping, right at the edge, was a white animal. I looked closer and thought it must be a cat, but The Kid said it wasn’t, but a small white dog. I whistled to the dog, trying to encourage her to come to me, but she was startled by someone coming up behind her and she took off.

A few minutes later, The Kid texted me this photo:

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And I knew that was the puppy we had seen!

I texted The Kid to come back down and see if we could get her. When he got there, he and I searched the bushes for her and did find her, but she was very skittish and bolted when we tried to get near her. The more The Kid chased her, the harder she ran. One of the security guards of the place I work came out and joined us. But then she was just gone. We searched a little bit longer – the grounds are extensive and well landscaped – and there was just no site of her.

We finally gave up and I went back to work. As I was coming in, Security told me that she had been spotted at the other end of the building near the parking entrance. Everyone had seen her, she had been hanging around the building’s grounds for the better part of two days. She was a puppy of just 8 months and I couldn’t imagine what she was eating or drinking.

I called the number on the poster and told the woman what I had seen. She thanked me and asked me to text her the address of the building. I suggested that she start with the security force at the building’s parking lot and wished her good luck.

A couple of hours later, I got this text:img_3817

As you can see, I messaged back that I was very happy to help. And you can see “Coco” very happily snuggled up with her “big sister”.

I can’t say that I did all of this out of the goodness of my heart, there was a little part of me that wished I could have caught her, never found an owner and I could have adopted her! I am so ready to bring a four legged child into my life… but, well, I was happy to help get this one back to her “fur mommy”.

MacCupcakecoco

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Am I Too Nice? Do I Expect Too Much?

This past weekend was spent being a good consumer. That is, I did a lot of shopping and spent a fair amount  money.

It was leaving one place that this idea of being too nice popped into my head. Even though I used the ‘self service’ checkout, I did require assistance because of specific items in my basket.

Okay, I am just going to tell you it was at HomeDepot. And even though this is one of my favorite places to shop – for supplies and products and tools and even ideas – this whole notion of being a customer started building in my head.

So, here I am at checkout trying to maintain control of an eight foot piece of PVC pipe, a half dozen plants, a couple cans of spray paint, two ceramic lamps I found on clearance and an assortment of other general type products.

So up comes the spray paint and this requires the cashier to verify that I am over 18 to purchase. Now, keep in mind that the whole point of self serve is just that… to serve yourself. It keeps me from having to interact too much with the employees and I can keep on the single track of creating and getting all the other necessary tasks done so that I can just get back to the task of making beautiful things.

Now, the cashier was pleasant enough, but she was overseeing four of these checkout stations and wasn’t really “plugged in” to what I was doing. So the fact that once she cleared the transaction validating that I am, indeed, over the age of 18 and not heading out to tag the nearest wall or train car, she set about assisting others. Now, that eight foot section of pipe was going to also require her assistance, since they don’t have UPC codes and it is sold ‘by the foot’. So, I had to get her attention and get her back over there to assist. That accomplished, she flitted away again.

Well, those lovely ceramic lamps were a special deal that I negotiated with someone back in the clearance department. Actually quite a good deal as one was chipped (I knew I could camouflage it) and the other was the last of its kind. Originally 19.99 a piece, I got them both for $5.50. But it had to be rung up uniquely. Queue cashier girl. This time she was less than enthusiastic but got the job done.

Okay, everything is scanned in and I pay for the items. Because recently I have committed to reducing my plastic footprint (namely those GD plastic shopping bags), I had to figure out a way to carry these items without the use of a shopping back. (I do carry fabric bags in the car, but apparently haven’t gotten too used to bringing them in to the store with me to use¬†– a story for another time.) So, in all of this, I still managed to look, catch and maintain eye contract long enough to say “thank you” to the young lady and head toward the parking lot.

I wasn’t more than a few feet away when it occurred to me that I shouldn’t be the one to say thank you, shouldn’t that be her role? And then it occurred to me that it wasn’t just this store, not even this particular chain of stores, but everywhere I seem to go.

A little background: When my son was a baby and in daycare, he got sick. Sick enough that the staff decided he should go to the emergency room. They called me and at the same time, we left our individual destinations and made our ways to the hospital. This was when I was working in Silicon Valley and regardless of the time or day, traffic was always a nightmare. And I had about 20 or so miles to cover, all the while I knew that my precious baby boy was puking and running a fever. I know I drove like a crazy person and wove in and out of lanes of traffic, inevitably cutting off people and generally pissing off those around me with my inattention and bad driving.

Long story short, I made it to the hospital and baby was eventually fine – a little gastrointestinal tract irritation that cleared up almost by day’s end. But in looking back, I decided that I would use the basis of this event to help justify others’ driving when it impedes a hopefully smooth commute for me. I don’t know what’s going on with that person, maybe they, too, have a sick/injured/scared/threatened baby/parent/child/significant other and aren’t just being a bad driver, it was a singular event that caused them to be the total assholes they are being. Like I was that day I was scared out of my mind that something terrible was happening to my baby and I couldn’t hold him or comfort him. It sort of grew from there, making allowances for others when the apparent situation didn’t call for the extreme reactions or lack of simple common courtesies.

So, back to the HomeDepot excursion and the fact that I had to say “thank you” even though I was the customer spending my hard earned money for their products and essentially handling the financial transaction, even forgoing having anyone bag my products and even the bag itself! As I continued to think about it, I realized that what you and I refer to as ‘common courtesy’ isn’t really common anymore at all. I tried to think of the last time I really had good customer service (forget ‘excellent’ customer service) and found that I think I’d be happy if someone just acknowledges my existence in their place of business!

Is the times? I suppose there are some that would say so, but I find that it occurs no matter the person’s age… younger or older than me, I still am unappreciated. When was the last time someone held the door for you? Allowed you to enter first? Offered you a seat before sitting first? Have you ever had anyone hold your chair for you to sit?

The Kid used to open the car door for me. He’d make a big show of it, but it was sweet. Once he held my chair for me in a popular chain restaurant and I swear the table next to us gasped! Hasn’t happened in a long time, but I did initially teach him manners. He still regularly holds the door for me, although on occasion I have been known to stand and look at the door, then look to him and then back to the door again. We generally chuckle at it, but I want the person he spends the rest of his life with to want to thank me for raising such a courteous man.

And ever since my HomeDepot excursion, I’ve been noticing too much the lack of “service” in customer service and the lack of manners and polite behavior. It seems especially lacking in written communications like email and texts where it can be especially troublesome. In a recent response from (the company where I work’s) technical support group, I received such a terse and clipped reply that it was almost shocking. Asking for their technical service (which they are highly paid to dispense) was accompanied with what I perceived to be a sigh of exasperation and a grumbling that would be quite uncalled for given the professional level of behavior expected at this company.

I has become more and more clear… manners and good behavior is a thing of a the past. When was the last time someone thanked you? Or wished you a great day. Or went out of their way to assist you?

I hope someone can prove me wrong.

MacCupcake

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Another Week (Weeks 6 and 4)

Time seems to really drag lately. I have officially hit the four week mark since surgery on the second (right) knee. Physical therapy goes extremely slow with it. The first/left knee is much better, but everything seems to have been worse and slower with the second surgery.

One might think it funny that having this time off should be grand, but nothing can be further from the truth. I am sick of being in pain and the slightest stretch or bump can send me into tears and shrieks. I am sick to death of watching television and movies and even attempting to do anything that interests me – ie all of my old hobbies – is almost impossible to attempt. Going upstairs has me exhausted before I even hit the top step, so I end up sitting in my sewing room watching tv while I recoup, and then it takes everything out of me to go back downstairs.

On occasion, I actually go something, it seems so pathetic the task. I was able to hobble out to the garage and get the necessary supplies and tools to re-pot a couple of plants. That was the highlight and the summary of my day yesterday.

Don’t get me started on physical therapy. I swear it is such a scam… there isn’t anything I am doing there that I can’t (and am often doing) at home. I’ve been to two weeks of it and I don’t seem to be doing any better by going. I can say that the one thing is does motivate me to do is shower… God knows I wouldn’t want to go to this place stinking… and I suppose I should be grateful for that. I don’t see much reason for going to all the trouble of showering just to be sitting and laying around the house.

I see my ortho doc on Monday, I am a bit anxious as to what he is going to tell me about my progress. I just don’t see this getting better at a acceptable rate. At least to me. He keeps telling me – as do most of the health professionals I see – that I have to keep in mind that I just had to major surgeries and that it takes time to recover. It seems a different song than the one sang before surgery… I remember him talking about being able to go back to work in four to six weeks post surgery. But here I am at that point, and I couldn’t imagine trying to be at work for eight hours a day, let alone the commute and getting ready. And I haven’t even been cleared to drive yet either.

I keep trying to be positive, but I am finding this the most difficult part of the recovery. I’ve never been one to have regrets, and not to be redundant, but this is one thing I would not do again if I actually had the chance. I hope I can be made to see that this thinking is wrong somewhere in the future. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

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Time Just Seems to Drag…Ahead of Myself Again!

I wrote in yesterday’s post that I had passed the five- and three-week mile posts following surgeries. Which in talking to The Kid this morning made me realize that I am, once again, ahead of myself. I am just about halfway between weeks four and five (for the left knee) and weeks two and three for the second knee. I have never known time to drag on so slowly for anything! Maybe it has to do with the fact that being essentially bed-ridden that makes time seem to just slow down to a crawl or that I have so many things that I want to get back to doing that I just can’t. God, I am going crazy confined to bed and television.

I keep searching the ‘net looking for information on bi-lateral knee replacement surgeries and recovery and I swear there are as many opinions, recoveries, options and paths as there are doctors and patients. It seems downright stupid to think that I should have done all of this investigation before the surgeries instead of after; nothing like closing that barn door after the horses are gone. I try to take comfort in the fact that all of my medical teams believe that I am mending nicely – if not ahead of the curve – but it sure doesn’t feel that way to me.

You know, now that I stop and really think about it, I really don’t know what I was expecting during the surgeries and during recovery… I suppose it has been like all the other times I ‘went under the knife’ and their respective recoveries. Let see, I have had tracheal surgery three times before I had the Nissen fundoplication surgery to correct the problem with the hiatal hernia and the GERD (which was causing the scaring in my trachea, just below my vocal chords). Then of course, I had my gall bladder removed, a kidney stone (too large to break up to pass) that was surgically removed. Those two operations were done laparoscopically so it seemed that the recovery was quick and easy. I think sometimes that I was doing the recovery and sparred the brunt of taking care of someone recovering that it was easier or quicker than I really recall. I can tell you this: I am quite done with any more surgical treatments and hospitals. I’ve had quite enough, thank you.

I can’t help but feel like I should have had these knee surgeries some decades ago… while I was still young and relatively healthy and I think recovery would have been so much quicker and easier. I have been counseled though that these joints aren’t infallible and won’t last forever, so having them replaced earlier may just have necessitated having them replaced again (probably about now!), so all in all, I think I am where I should be. I can tell you this, I won’t be having them replaced in fifteen or twenty years. No way!

Tomorrow I start on the second round of physical therapy – this time targeting the right knee, but that will include both knees. I know I should have started sooner, but the pain associated with the second surgery has been off-the-charts for me and I just couldn’t bear to even attempt it before this. It is actually quite the catch-22, as it has been explained, the sooner you begin therapy the quicker the pain is reduced… but it was too painful to start before this. I really don’t think of myself as a wimp when it comes to pain… keep in mind that I have been dealing with chronic headaches since my mid-twenties… but the pain from these surgeries (and especially the second/right knee) has been off-the-charts. Twenty-seven hours of labor with my son was a walk in the park compared to this.

I am so anxious to get back to doing ‘stuff’ that I have lists and lists of things I want to accomplish. I still have a few things to “finish up” from before surgeries and I surely have a ton of new ideas since I’ve been laid up. And it seems with nice spring weather just around the corner, I am so ready to get moving. And actually, after being off work for this past year… I am so ready to go back to the fast pace and excitement of the computer industry.

 

 

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Two Weeks and Four Weeks: Is This Progress?

Another followup appointment with my ortho doc today. Pain in the second (right) knee has become occasionally so intense that it becomes necessary to have an all out crying jag as a result. And wow, even though I know it, I can’t help it, and it makes The Kid really uncomfortable.

So, today makes two weeks since surgery on the right knee – the second surgery and second knee. Some how I thought I would be further at this point. I can’t help this mantra in the back of my head saying that I ¬†think I made a mistake, although its obvious that there isn’t anything that I can do about it now. I guess I have to try and just do the best I can going forward with physical therapy and pain medication and just trying to be as active as possible. I understand that it is probably the best thing to manage the pain overall.

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This time? Regrets. At least right now; yes.

These past couple of days have been tough. I got home from the hospital late on Saturday afternoon and since, for about two days, I have spent every single moment in pain, immobility, sick to my stomach and frustrated beyond words. But not beyond tears.

I keep setting little dates for myself… just wait 24 hours to see if I am feeling better. Just give it one more night of sleep and surely the pain will start to dissipate. At some point, this has to make a turn – maybe if not a complete one hundred and eighty – enough to give me a sanity break. Right?

‘Cause for the first time since beginning this process, and that includes years of alternative treatments and investigations, therapy and to be perfectly honest, prayer – I have regrets and doubts. I am second guessing this. Of course one never knows the real outcome of something until it is done, I am at the point where I wished I had never headed down this particular path.

I mean, even the first knee was something I would consider successful. At this point last week – before the second surgery – I was feeling pretty optimistic. I mean, I would have had to in order to willingly head back into the hospital for the second procedure.

One thing I have learned is that these things are not “cookie cutter”. I am finding out how different things can and have been between the left and right knees. Somewhere in my thinking, I guess I thought that surgery would be the great equalizer… I mean, once the joint has been removed, it is simply a clean slate for the prosthetic, right? But from the get-go, I know that the pain level has been very different, the incision has been shorter and the general journey has been considerably different for the second knee (right knee) than the first.

And honestly, I could ask and read and research all day but when it comes right down to it, the fact is that this is way more painful this go ‘around. And I think that will make recovery both longer and more painful. And I am finding that I am running short of patience and tolerance and catch myself in crying jags that have nothing to do with the constant dull ache behind my knee caps.

I thought that if I might actually write down some of these words it might help. As I think I’ve stated, I wanted this experience to be reported accurately, at least in terms of how it is going for me. Obviously as the experience has been profoundly different between knees for me… you can only image how different the process could be between people!

Between the pain and the pain killers, I feel like I have no energy, no drive and no imagination or curiosity. All the things that I thought I might enjoy during this downtime have been both physically and figuratively pushed back against the wall where they are but an irritating reminder that I should be accomplishing more. Accomplishing something. Accomplishing anything.

(Oh, did I mention that my laptop up and crapped out on me too! Which means to do anything on the computer, I have actually drag my sorry ass into the office and use my desktop machine. Just one more irritating and complication factor.)

So, once home from the hospital, I gave myself three days to really rest and heal. Sleep long solid hours and eat right (or if not “right” better). Which means, by the end of tomorrow, I should know where I really stand with this knee recovery.

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