Lists & Errands

Because I will get nothing done if I don’t make “To Do” lists of things to get done while recovering from surgery, I have been scrounging junk-mail envelopes for requisite stationery.  Because my doctor has cleared me to drive an automobile with automatic transmission, I have been running some errands today.

Dropped Seventy-Six off at the sitter’s, Miss Bee’s, house.  Dropped Caution-Lady off at school.  Mailed stuff.  Paid a bill in person.  Dropped off some paperwork at the tax accountant’s.  Got a tire repaired.  Got gasoline.  Shopped, briefly, at Stepford’s premiere furniture store for a kitchen island that rolls – their best price:  $480.00.  I may try a builder’s salvage, instead, or Big Lots.

While waiting for the tire repair, I spent awhile in conversation with two older men.  The one who looked older, it turned out, was about 11 years younger than the other man – they were 75 and about 86, respectively.  Both had worked in law enforcement – Air Force, the younger man; Marine Corps, the elder.

I enjoyed listening to them exchange stories about getting into trouble for doing their jobs.  The elder was transferred after arresting and jailing a drunk driver who was also a Lebanon city judge.  He said that of all the jobs he’d ever held, he like police work the best, but “politics” often made it difficult to do the work.  The younger man said that while stationed at Columbus, Ohio, were he served as a military police sergeant.  He said a black man, not an officer, came in to the officer’s club and started fighting with anyone who challenged his right to be there.  Broke a captain’s arm, broke up furniture, grabbed women randomly making obscene suggestions as he did so.

“The Officer of the Day said, ‘Sergeant, take him down – any way you have to.’  I walked up to (the miscreant), put my hand on his shoulder, and told him, ‘You’re under arrest.’  He turned and hit me, and I slid 30 feet ending up under a table.  I didn’t have a stick with me.  I didn’t usually carry a stick.  I went up to him and took my .45 and (struck him over the right eye, at the temple), and he dropped.  Can you believe it, the NAACP got on to me for that,” the old gentleman said.  He expressed disgust that in military, law enforcement, and civil government, “In the upper echelons, they’re scared of their own shadow.”  The man he struck, he said, was at some later time arrested for murder.

He went on to talk about how he had been issued the sidearm, manufactured by Ithica.  He talked about the M-2 he’d been issued, but stated he was not allowed to keep that firearm after discharge, and had to trade it for an M-1, instead.  He said his .45 had been borrowed and never returned by a relative.

We talked about pistols we have owned.  He talked about having a Russian-made 9mm pistol of the sort used by the KGB.  Said it was accurate and reliable, but he found the slide too “stiff.”  He said, “I walked up on a bunch of buzzards that had taken down one of my cows that was calving – I shot and killed two of them (with the 9mm pistol).

I have some other things to get done today before it’s time pick up Caution-Lady and Seventy-Six.

Fall is in the air.  I can smell a change, sunlight has begun to fall at a different angle, days are getting shorter, and some leaves are falling.

Post-Surgery Check-Up

A two hyphenate headline 😮

The Vzzzt-Bot family got up crack of dawn yesterday morning, dressed in haste and hit the road by 6:30 am to drive to the orthopedist’s clinic for an 8:00 am appointment. Looong school zone slow down about a third of the way there. Then traffic backed up at least one mile to make the turn on to Hwy 96. No accident, just normal rush hour for that part of Middle Tennessee. The left turn off Hwy 96 to I don’t recall the name of the street or avenue narrowed from two lanes turning left to one lane without warning – road or utilities work. So we arrived at 8:15. Longish wait. Caution-Lady had packed Seventy-Six’s diaper bag with every necessary except a diaper. While I continued to wait, she took the boy and went in search of diapers.

Not long after that, I was taken back to see the doctor. Showed me pictures taken with the “scope” of horribly frayed cartilage in the joint, another torn bit of cartilage forming a flap, and the acromium bone spurs that looked like the roof of that cave I paddled in Winchester. Then he showed me the partially torn supraspinatus – he said he left it alone because it looked as if it had enough strands holding that it would heal on its own with the other wreckage cleared away. The “After” photos showed that he’d done a very neat, workmanlike job removing the frayed bits, the torn flap, and the bone spurs. He said it is “unlikely” the spurs will recur, but if they do “it would take a long time.”

The problem with my left wrist and forearm, as well as similar left-side problems, he said, are residual effects of the nerve-block administered at surgery. “I’m sorry you’re experiencing this, but it will clear up,” the doctor said. He reported that the longest such effect he knew of was similar to mine and afflicted his medical partner for some six weeks after he’d repaired the man’s rotator cuff. Two to three weeks is apparently the norm for this side-effect.

He asked about physical therapy, and I explained about my experience Monday with the group his clinic recommends. “Hmmm, that doesn’t sound good,” he said. So he wrote me an order that would be accepted at any physical therapy clinic. Our realtor, Brenda, was horribly injured in an automobile wreck when a Stepford city policeman drove his squad car into her van. She’s recommended another group that she said helped her a lot. I’ll be calling them today.

Finally, the doctor told me to “come back in two weeks, and we’ll decide then” when I can return to work. In the mean time, I am not to lift anything heavy one handed, nor two-handed as much as 10 pounds. And I still may not drive a stick-shift car.

Rain fell during part of the drive home, and I was entertained by the way the water drops were forced to run up the windshield because it had been RainX-ed. Seventy-Six slept most of the way. He’d behaved really well during the diaper expedition (Caution-Lady bought him a Baby Einstein book while they were out) and in the waiting room. At home we ate a hurried lunch. Wife and son wolfed fish-sticks and sweet potato fries, and I ate a turkey sandwich and four generic fig-newton cookies (the name-brand fig bars are way too ‘dry’ for my taste). The boy wanted to bite off the corners of my fig cookies, and I let him. Cautious Wife was a little concerned because those cookies have, I don’t know, trace amounts of trans-fat in them.

Then she took him off to the sitter’s house (remember, the kid weighs more than 10 pounds), and went off to some teacher-training activity to use a computer based learning program that, and this is my guess, doesn’t make up for lack of parental involvement at home and school in the child’s academic endeavors.

I scanned the medical note stating I’d need to be off another two weeks and emailed that to the office, then telephoned and spoke with the manager there. She said Ron, my colleague across the hall who sends me most of my referrals, was wondering if I was going to be home in the afternoon because he thought he would stop by. No problem, not going anywhere, tell him to come on by. Exchanged emails with another co-worker from the office.

Figured Ron wouldn’t leave the office until about 3:30; I set out walking a route through the various roads in my new neighborhood that I figured would be a little longer than the one I usually take. Pretty humid out there; had been some cloudbursts earlier as evidenced by patches of damp pavement here and there. At the first of my final two left turns, I saw Ron turing his pickup truck onto the street as I turned. I called his name, and he stopped, looked over at me surprised. He had passed me walking, but had not “seen” me.

“Get in,” he said clearing a place for me on the small pickup truck’s passenger seat. The thing he’d moved out of the way was a gift basket he’d brought from the folks at the office, along with a card. He said he’d driven around the neighborhood, but couldn’t remember the street name or address, and had thrown away the directions I’d printed for him a few weeks ago. He and his son brought a trailer out to the house to pick up the old carpeting that I’d had set aside for him. An excellent quality carpet, although gray in color and used by us as a drop cloth when painting, he was able to cut clean portions for use in a rental property. In exchange, I had asked for and he delivered a Ducktona Duck River Speedway shirt. I like the logo – way better than the subdued duckhead on the race-track’s website. Maybe the designer, Kim Griggs, will post a photo of the design – but it’s too cool to just scan and post without permission.

Anyway, at the house we chatted about the office, because in spite of myself, I honestly love my work (even though I despise the Potemkin Village model of public service that appears to have gained ascendency in most government venues). Have you ever watched that late 1960s musical, How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying? Watch it, and you will gain some understanding, if you are capable of reasoning from absurd extreme to actual practice, of how executive branch government operates.

I walked to the mailbox as Ron pulled out of the driveway. As he turned the vehicle to drive off, he rolled down the window and told me that his race car had been nearly totaled in a wreck at the track last weekend. None of the driver’s were hurt, but it sounds like Ron will have a lot of work to do putting the car back into working order.

The fruit basket was an unexpected bonus – I bagged and refrigerated grapes, pears, apples. Two oranges I left on the counter. Some candy was included in the faux grass (like a subdued version of the stuff that goes into Easter baskets), as well as snack packages of cookies and crackers. I ate a few grapes and a small package of Snackwell’s cookies.

By the time Caution-Lady and Seventy-Six returned, I’d got the dishwasher unloaded, reloaded, and the little guy’s high-chair tray cleaned off and dried. At supper we shared one of the oranges; according to the sticker grown in South Africa. Our little monkey liked the orange, and also ate a number of blueberries. Great kid – loves vegetables and fruit.

After dinner we cleaned up the kitchen. The Cautious One got some laundry in the machine. Seventy-Six and I played on the floor with a cookie sheet. He gets them out of the drawer under the bottom oven and carries them around beating on them to make noise. I got him to sit down on top of the rectangular metal thing like one would sit in a kayak, bracing his feet against the raised edge in front. Then I reached around from behind, took hold of the pan’s corners by his feet, and pushed him around on the den’s carpeted floor. He thought that was really fun, and I had to push him around the room at least three times making whooshing sounds until he became distracted by what Caution-Lady was doing in the kitchen.

Later, my wife, called “Mimi” by our son, played the piano for him, then set him up on her lap and let him hammer away at the keys while she played actual music. That kid loves the piano – an old Chickering upright, a gift from my mother, that predates my own birth. We sang silly songs. After that, we played with soft foam balls, throwing them around in the entry hall and playing “Bwaaawwwaaooong!” by flipping the doorstop affixed to the baseboard. Makes a great sound, and looks cool, too. We read nursery rhymes. We read a Goodnight Moon counting book. Exploring the house, Seventy-Six grabbed one of Caution-Lady’s running-shoe sneakers from her closet and tried to put his foot in it. I helped him balance, and he succeed in walking with one bare foot and one adult sneakered foot. Just to experiment, I put both shoes on his feet, and he walked a bit like that, too. We got some photos. Funny kid. He’d had a long and eventful day, and was ready for bed early. About an hour later we conked out, ourselves.

Post-Surgery Rehabilitation

My first appointment with the physical therapist was Monday afternoon, and my wife came home from work, picked me up, and dropped me off there.  The entire staff minus two has completely turned over since I completed the my pre-surgery course of physical therapy.  Did not inspire much confidence.  The clerical staff had not communicated with my surgeon for orders, so the therapist was not clear on how to proceed.  In the end, they iced my shoulder, partially measured range of motion, and gave me some exercises to perform.

The back of my left wrist and left forearm are still numb, except when I reach too far, or reach with a straight back, or reach in whatever direction the nerves think is the wrong direction, it feels as if that wrist/forearm/hand are being torn inside out by those selfsame hundred nerve strands.  I still have some pain in my left foot.  The shoulder, itself, and trapezius are a little less painful than before surgery, and the pain is improving some day by day.

I have been walking a lot, because I cannot drive anywhere, and have been putting the arm in a sling.  Three to four miles at a time, I’d estimate.  Last night after supper, Caution-Lady, Seventy-Six (in his stroller), and I went for maybe a half to three-quarter mile walk in the neighborhood, and I forgot to use my sling.  Didn’t remember until we were already down the road, and I didn’t want to go back and get it.  I wish I had gone back to get it; its use makes an appreciable difference vis-a-vis attendant shoulder pain after only a short time.

I have been eating a little more per diem than had been my wont, but I’m attributing that to the fact that I’m getting more exercise daily than my normal sedentary occupation calls for.  Still painful to type for very long.

Tomorrow is my first post-operative check-up with the specialist who performed the surgery.

Day After

Been sleeping a lot, not eating too much, and probably need to drink more fluids.  Oatmeal and coffee this morning did not ‘set well with me.’  Didn’t barf it, though.  I’m probably too dizzy to be up at the computer now.

Day Before

Today is the day before I am scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery to remove bone spurs on my acromium, “clean up” a supraspinatus partial thickness tear, and possibly fix muscle to bone should that appear necessary.  With a titanium screw.  Won’t exactly make me a cyborg, but I’ll relate a little better than I already do to Marvel Comics character Cable.  Blood and Metal limited series drawn by John Romita, Sr., has always been a favorite.

I have been working hard in the new house to get junk hauled off that the previous owners left, empty and break down boxes, remove the old boxes, clean and reorder shed and storage rooms, as well as attic and garage.  Yesterday picked up sticks, ran the line-trimmer, mowed, cleared off the debris with a leaf-blower.  I’m trying to get as much done as possible while I still have use of both arms.  Unsure whether I’ll be able tie my own shoes come Thursday.

The shoulder pain has been chronic for some time now, and of late has been growing worse.  I am disappointed the painful cortisone injection, short-term narcotics therapy, and  rather pleasant, longer-term physical therapy were all in their own ways ineffective.

Dunno yet how long I’ll be off work.  Ugh.

Moved In

We moved in to the new house Wednesday. I spent most of yesterday getting things put up in the attic, breaking down boxes, getting rid of the dryer that was in the house when we bought it, clearing about half the garage so Caution-Lady could park Whitecar out of the weather. Got the computers hooked up and online.

Last night I got back to watching those Harry Houdini silents. I think Houdini looks a little like Mr. Monk. Interesting to watch the escapes, the early underwater footage. Puzzling the various tints used to represent I’m not sure what atmospheric conditions. The automaton in The Master Mystery looks like Gumby, only less sophisticated.

This morning I got up early, took a walk after coffee and oatmeal, finished cleaning the old house – swept the hardwood an linoleum floors, vacuumed the bonus room, cleaned the bathroom, got most of the kitchen cleaned before Caution-Lady and Seventy-Six stopped by with the dessert she’d made for the after-church lunch. She cleaned the refrigerator while Seventy-Six and I ran around in the now empty house. He seemed a little disoriented, and stood looking out the living room window at the back yard a couple of times. He clearly knew where he was, orienting himself by what he was used to seeing through the windows because the normal furniture and pictures were not in the rooms or on the walls.

April 2009, Seventy-Six looking out the living room window at our old house - he was supposed to have been retrieving the shoes he dropped behind the couch, but somehow got distracted

April 2009, Seventy-Six looking out the living room window at our old house - he was supposed to have been retrieving the shoes he dropped behind the couch, but somehow got distracted

Caution-Lady took a last walk through the house and came out looking saddened, not quite stricken, but emotional. It was in that house that we have spent most of our married life together, where we became parents, first heard ourselves called the infant language words, Mem-Mem and Da-Da, where our son took his first steps. I’ll go back once more, probably, and get some pictures of the empty house to go with the pictures of the house taken before we moved in. We’re leaving it a lot better than we found it; a good house for us, and we’ve been grateful for it.

I won’t miss the pears falling from the tree in the back yard.

A profusion of these flowering vines now covers a sort of 'decorative' wire fence behind the bricked area behind the old house.  Last year, they bloomed in September.  They're a little early this year.  I will miss them.

A profusion of these flowering vines now covers a sort of 'decorative' wire fence behind the bricked area behind the old house. Last year, they bloomed in September. They're a little early this year. I will miss them.

I went to church by myself, then to lunch with the congregation afterward and overate. Really enjoyed being back after an absence of two or three week.

Then home briefly and off again to the office to work a couple of hours.

Home about six and took Seventy-Six for about a mile’s walk in his stroller, then shot baskets with him in the driveway. He’d already eaten, and I skipped supper, still full from lunch.