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.

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.

Paddling Injured

Ready to launch - dirt boat ramp at Estill Springs City Park

Ready to launch - dirt boat ramp at Estill Springs City Park

Injury

Yesterday, for the first time since November, 2008, I paddled my kayak. My shoulder diagnosis was something like “partial thickness tear supraspinatus,” and “spurring on the acromium,” as well as tendonitis. I had a cortisone injection. I took a drug called Soma for 30 days, followed by two months of physical therapy. Star Physical Therapy at Stepford was fantastic. Had some almost out of body experiences while napping in traction. Overall pain reduction and regained most of my pre-injury range of motion. I’m still working on regaining full strength in that one shoulder. Same side trapezius is still occasionally very painful, but much improved. Hurt my back again two or so weeks ago and couldn’t walk for the better part of a day, but my genius chiropractor fixed me up.

Take It Easy

My physical therapist, my chiropractor, and my wife all recommended I take it easy, maybe a couple of hours or about a quarter of my normal distance. So, with no real goal in mind, I drove to Estill Springs City Park. The city permits campers there, and the sites are what I’d call primitive. About five or six families were camped out in tents and RVs when I pulled up at about 8:00 am. Late for me, but I was trying to do this without any goal in mind beyond getting home in time to mow.

Campsis Radicans, the plant after which I named my red Pouch E68 folding kayak

Campsis Radicans, the plant after which I named my red Pouch E68 folding kayak

Going through the routine of assembling my gear, securing the boat to my car’s roof racks, putting on my paddling clothes reassured me at home that I might still know how to do this stuff. Same at the put in, going through the motions in reverse, except I left my boating clothes on. And once in the boat, I felt about the same as I always have in the cockpit. Low-angle stroke powered by torso-rotation and leg movement produced no discernible stress on my injury, no pain.

A Goal

Because I’m obsessive, goal driven freak, I was unable to make having no goal my goal for the day. When I observed the water level in the Tims Ford impoundment of the Elk River higher than I’ve seen it before, I took the opportunity to poke around in the slough. I paddled over ground that’s normally dry, got just about stuck in a shallow place with grass gone to spiky seed. I’d gone in over a small log, but my rudder caught against it paddling backwards out again. Necessitated an 18 or 20 point turn in a 16.5′ kayak. Still, it was better than getting out and wading half sunk in the mud to turn the boat by hand. I felt hungry, but ignored it.

Shoreline across the water from the put-in

Shoreline across the water from the put-in

More water made this place accessible

More water made this place accessible

Straight ahead's where I almost got stuck in weedy mud

Straight ahead's where I almost got stuck in weedy mud

My best guess is that man has carefully explored shoreline out of the desire to find a non-muddy, easy landing place to get out of the boat for urination.

Round-trip maybe 10 miles - not much straight-line paddling, and in no real hurry

Round-trip maybe 10 miles - not much straight-line paddling, and in no real hurry. Click on the image, then in the browser url address line on the linked page change width to some number greater than 300.

When I returned to the main channel of impounded Elk River after exploring hitherto unseen backwaters, and after having found a convenient place to, um, stretch my legs, I continued paddling up toward the bridge at the place Spring Church Road becomes Payne’s Church Road. There’re a couple of farmhouses on your left as you paddle toward the bridge. Past that bridge, which Saturday morning had people fishing under it and off it, the river water has noticeable current, and is much cooler felt through the boat’s skin.

I thought I’d paddle past the first bridge to a ruined bridge maybe a mile further upstream, and then turn around and come back. But at the ruined bridge, I was annoyed to find loud campers, talking like people talk who have been drinking already in the morning after having had too much to drink the night before. Unwilling to have my turnaround place spoiled by the presence philistines, I paddled on, up to where the river takes a left turn (as you are paddling upstream) in broad, steep-banked, tree shaded place. I’ve only ever seen one other boater that far, and saw no one on Saturday.

Because the water was clearly deeper than at any other time I’d been on this part of the river, I thought, “why not see if I can make it to the next bridge?” So I did, even though I knew I should probably call it quits for the day and return to the put-in. I made it to bridge at Morris Ferry Bridge Road (I’m pretty sure that bridge was not Morris Ferry Bridge). Not long after that, I had to get out and wade for a bit, pulling the kayak behind me. I shot some video at this point with the Pentax, pulling the boat by a length of yellow poly-pro line in my left hand, and the camera in my right while trying to step carefully over slippery shin-deep rocky bottom. The water was cold, and felt good rushing past and around my legs that’ve been too long out of sun and kayak and water.

 Reduntantly, the bridge Morris Ferry Bridge Road

Redundantly, the bridge Morris Ferry Bridge Road

Big block mid-stream

Big block mid-stream

Back in the boat, paddle a bit. Out of the boat, wade and pull a bit. My injured shoulder ached a little bit deep in the muscle. I paddled farther despite misgivings. I passed a huge concrete block with rebar around it set squarely in mid-stream. Finally, I came to a place where I had to get out of the boat again near a bank littered with small shells. Undoubtedly some raccoon’s shellfish buffet. There I turned around and headed back downstream.

Small carnivore's shellfish feeding place

Small carnivore's shellfish feeding place

Heading back to the second bridge

Heading back to the second bridge

Plant submerged tenaciously clings to rock in current

Plant submerged tenaciously clings to rock in current

A pretty place

A pretty place

I needed to get back to the car with enough energy remaining to lift the 70 plus pound boat up onto the Volvo’s roofracks, then, once home, to edge and mow the lawn. Going downstream, I think I only had to get out of the boat once at a shallow place. Easier going with the current. I saw a large bird of prey with a white head and whit e tail feathers – a bald eagle?

I ate my "lunch" as I drifted past this place

I ate my "lunch" as I drifted past this place

Last night my shoulder hurt pretty badly a couple of times – woke me up – aspirin helped. This afternoon, I did my prescribed physical therapy exercises. We’ll see whether I can sleep tonight.

This is what a fish sees when it looks at me

This is what a fish sees when it looks at me