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I am low-energy, distractable, lazy, diffident, tentative, and easily discouraged to begin with. I began 2016 thinking I would ride the energy and optimism from my lovely new knees to Get Things Done, Get In Shape, and Get A Job.

I was doing pretty good until February, when I got the cancer diagnosis.

seriously this is just a long organ recital and for my own records, so don't read it )
So anyway, 2016 was for me like many others mostly a loss. I haven't mentioned much about the big world because others have more, and more eloquent, things to say about tt. I'm still alive, of course, and I still have a house. Also I have a pile of writing I'm sort of working on for several days at a time before I collapse in on myself for a few days again.
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I am writing this month, but I can't do Nanowrimo for reasons. One: I don't seem able to focus on very large projects at this time. I'm just grateful I can write at all! Anything longer than a short tends to get lost in the underbrush of a no-longer-chemo-brain. So I'm writing shorts, cleaning up old stuff, submitting a bit. I decided that since it's really unlikely for me to make enough money to be thrown off of Medi-Cal in the near future, it's dumb not to submit. Actually--did I explain this?--being thrown off Medi-Cal is not the thing I fear. What I'm afraid of is getting put into the grey category where they don't throw you off Medi-Cal but they require you to pay several hundred dollars (for some people, thousands!) before they will pay for anything. It would be better to get thrown all the way off and pay the (newly) normal subsidized premiums and copays, but that doesn't happen immediately. Worse, I have no idea what would trigger which alternative. So, just as in the case of facing up to cancer, etc., I just have to live my life.

I already submitted two things--one at the end of last month, but I'm counting it in this month. That was a near-future sort-of fantasy about a woman who is being moved out of her inundated neighborhood to find that her new neighborhood is pretty watery itself. And also pretty strange. The other is "John Brown's Body," which is ten years old and looks it, but it's going to a reprint market and its datedness might be interesting in the light of how things are working out, politically, these days. I mean it's sort of the opposite to everything!

I wrote a flash piece but my first reader (you know who you are) said what I was feeling--that the story felt like the unshot gun on the mantle. So now it's turning into a novella. I think it's kind of a time paradox story, but maybe not: some mysteries are not to be understood by the author. An old lady returns to the mysterious coastal village she spent a summer in during her childhood, and finds things to be somewhat different from how she remembered them, but some things are entirely too similar. The best part is the setting, of course. I think, despite what I said about my brain not being able to handle longer projects, that this is not too much for me to handle. Again, there are parts of the story that can't decide whether they are near-future sf or fantasy.

During the summer I was working on two short novels, but due to chemotherapy I could only move them forward a bit. One was about girls who save the world by means of their special relationship with crows and pigeons respectively. Honestly, the hardest part of that one is working out a believable mechanism for them to save even a shred of the world. And yet, parts of the world do get saved on a regular basis.

The other is low-fantasy in that it is set in the same fantasy world--but a different corner of it--and it is unlikely that much of the fantasy elements will come to bear on the story. It's an enemies-to-lovers story happening in the interstices of a larger drama of bandit freedom fighters and also referencing the earliest days of the motion picture industry as experienced by eager innovators in other corners of the world. But not our world. Informed by the last years of the Ottoman empire but in no way an analog for it.

On other fronts: I am a third of the way through radiation therapy. The only bothersome effect is my own body's ridiculous response to any postural demand, which is to spasm painfully somewhere. I have to lie in a comfortable position on a well-constructed individualized support for less than half an hour a day, and my body's response to this is to develop stiff painful areas in my neck, back, and arm. Not the side being radiated. The other side. My radiated breast is a little red, and maybe a bit sensitive, but not so as I'd care, especially with this other crap going on.

Continuing with the health care theme, I've restarted physical therapy. I'd gotten de-conditioned and I'd gained weight during chemo, because I spent a lot of the day sleeping or lying in bed reading. Now my energy level is back to its normal (kind of low) levels, and I'm getting more exercise, but there's some damage to undo. Also, I've been using the BiPAP machine for two months and it is not creating as dramatic a difference as one might expect. However, the doctor has some suspicions about my oxygen uptake which we're going to measure next week & discuss next month.

AND last but not least in this theme, today I got cortisone shots in both thumbs to fight severe trigger finger. It's the second round. The first wore off two months ago but the PA's not willing to give me shots more often than every six months. So if this happens again we're looking at surgery. I'm not afraid of surgery. I'm afraid of being the little old lady who collects all the surgeries, and also the fact that I've been enjoying my surgical experiences feels a little perverse to me, so I drag my feet for that reason too.

It's time to go to radiation or I'd expound about Zluta and the state of my house, but that will have to wait for another day, because after radiation Zluta and I will take a walk and after that I will want to clean house a bit before time for dancing.
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Two weeks ago was my last chemotherapy infusion. I went one more than I thought I might because the week before was tolerable. But the next week was all "WARNING WARNING you're walking wobbly! your neuropathy is creeping up your legs! your hands and feet feel weird ALL THE TIME!" So we agreed it was time to stop. Supposedly I'm starting radiation real soon now.

So--neuropathy has subsided a little but if I walk for half an hour it gets worse in my feet and legs, so exercise takes some determination. I learned yesterday how to sidestep the need for determination. This is what you do:

1. Go to a network of trails that all loop back to the same place so you can't get truly lost.
2. Conveniently forget the "STEEP HILL" designation on the map posted at the other trailhead (it helps to choose the trailhead without the sign).
3. Blithely decide to walk a loop instead of going out a ways and turning back.
4. Blithely forget/downplay the length of the trail so you think you've gone more than halfway before you get to the "STEEP HILL." (which is actually in the moderately steep category, not the needs-walking-stick category) So when you get to the "STEEP HILL" there's no point in turning back.
5. Now you are stuck walking the rest of the trail, no matter how much you'd like to quit.

Actually this was the Red Trail behind Chaminade, which is only a mile and a quarter long, but it took forever (that means a bit over an hour, honestly) to walk it because Zluta had to sniff everything and hello, apparently I have breathing issues again after years without (damnit), so I had to take the upward part a little slower. It wasn't bad but it was dumb. I guess I should get an inhaler again, though I didn't need it yesterday, I just wasn't at peak performance. The good news! is that my knees continue to be excellent and I only even thought about them later and it was "huh, downhill, no problem!"

It was lovely though. Saw a huge cottontail and several brilliant scrub jays, and heard a woodpecker and some other bird which I guess I should call familiar-unknown, in that I've heard that bird a lot around here but I don't know which one it is. The trail goes through a pine flat, a meadow, and a redwood ravine, so most of it was shady. That's why we went there. It was only ten but it was already hot and I had enough self-preservation to avoid sunny exercise.

I already know I don't feel the heat reliably, so I have to hydrate & protect myself based on other information.

Other post-chemotherapy observations:

At some point where I didn't notice it, the rest of my eyelashes and most of the rest of my eyebrows fell out. This is still due to the adriamycin/cytoxan treatments which ended about three months ago, the taxol doesn't do that. Also my nails are still playing out their destiny. My thumbnails are loosening from the top down so they have these giant unreachable pockets that fill up with debris and I can only get them partly clean which is sufficiently gross. I keep experimenting with new methods, but they continue to look like they are bruised (honestly I did think it was bruising at first so my intense efforts to clean them started late). My toenails are working their way off altogether, but it's really slow and the new toenails are already completely formed before the old ones fall off. I've lost three so far, and there's another four or five looking like they'll come off in the foreseeable future, and a couple that look like maybe they'll just be weird forever.

My tastebuds are returning to normal but not as fast as my taste. That is, I want to eat some things that don't yet taste good, so I have some disappointments. My perception of salt which some people already thought was pretty odd is utterly hopeless now. I mean, most things taste to me like the salt got up and walked off the job in protest, but if there's enough salt for me to notice it's there it tastes poisonously oversalted. Normally I mostly don't salt food but enjoy the occasional pickle or pretzel. Now I want to eat some salty food but I'm disappointed every time. Otherwise, most food just tastes a little bland now, and the pervasive plastic taste that ruined everything is mostly gone. For a while water tasted really foul because of it, and I had to force it down to keep from being dehydrated.

You know how there's been a backlash against the hydration obsession fad? Articles everywhere telling you that you don't need eight glasses of water a day? Now I get people trying to tell me I in particular don't need to drink as much as I do (I drink between two and three liters, usually two and a half). They are wrong when they speak of me in particular, though. I know from years of natural experimentation (that is, days of not being able to drink as much as I need), that if I drop much below that level, especially if I do it more than one or two days, I will be terribly thirsty, get headaches, muscle cramps, and cognitive impairment. By the last I mean: if I haven't had enough water to drink, don't let me drive.

I had a kind of depressive episode the first week or so off chemotherapy. For months the infusion center has been the center of my life. Three times every two weeks, and then twice a week, I went there and chatted with the staff, got myself monitored, got myself cared for. I had no idea how attached I was until it ended. I'll be going back there from time to time for monitoring, but it's still an abrupt change. It got better as soon as I realized why I was wanting to sleep all day.

The other medical thing I'm doing is getting used to the BiPAP machine. I love the delicious air coming through the mask but I'm having trouble adjusting in some other ways. I have two masks. I thought I wanted the nose pillow because it was more comfortable than the nose mask the sleep tech offered me at the time of the study (at which it was revealed I was having 90 events an hour and desaturating to 83%). But my nose is a bit stuffy currently and so it is hard to breathe with my mouth closed, which with the nose pillow mask leads to a drowning sensation as the air goes the wrong way. And also the nose pillows kind of hurt my nose. I suspect the pressure on the machine is set too high too. When I use the full face mask the incoming air forces my lips open even if I'm trying quite hard to keep them closed. Even with the attached humidifier going I get pretty dried out too. And I'm having trouble with leaks. All of this will get worked out in time, but it's a lot of adjustment. Currently the longest I've kept the mask on is five hours, but I've also only had it for four days.

Of course I found an apnea forum. There's some true-believerism going on there, but the best thing is that somebody there wrote a nice piece of software to read the SD card from the machine so I can see the full record. Right now I'm finding that endlessly fascinating. I've learned that I do in fact have some possible central apnea going on as well as the obstructive kind, which was my belief from the beginning. It makes little difference in treatment, and the difference is already what the doctor prescribed. That is, he put me on the automatic bi-level machine, which adjusts the pressure so that the body is stimulated to exhale better. There are shenanigans to be done with carbon dioxide, but those aren't warranted unless the BiPAP machine doesn't work well enough. It looks like it will. But I think it will be a while before I am better rested and make more sense.
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The rain woke me last night. I sleep right under the roof in a the low end of the eaves of a converted attic, so the water was drumming less than a yard above my head. I went downstairs to pee, and the little dog woke, heard a noise she had never heard in her life before, and barked and barked to warn me.


At six in the morning the rain was very light and the wind was gentle and gusty. I couldn't find my raincoat so I just threw on another layer of hoody and we went for our walk as usual. The drops were fat and slow and Zluta liked it at first. Dogs are often delighted with a bit of wind, and she was, happy to be out before dawn. I was composing poetry in my head about the familiarity of rain after a long absence, the way the streetlamps halo in it, the bright crosshatches of ripples in the swift-running gutters, the leaves sticking to the sidewalk. When we were just turning back towards home--not quite a mile away--the rain started coming down hard again and we both got soaked through.

For Zluta the heavy-rain experience--unlike the light-rain experience--was unpleasant, even frightening, even though she loves cavorting in the water from the garden hose, which often comes out stronger than this rain. But the difference: she can run into the water and out again, it's not relentless like the rain this morning. She tried cowering from it, dodging it, shaking it off, seeking shelter. I just urged her on, reminding her we were not far from home and we'd get dry as soon as we got there. When we were a couple of blocks away she cheered up and began hurrying straight forward, going as fast as I would let her (I am not running on wet streets with even with my brand new deep-tread waterproof hiking boots. I am taking no risks of ruining my perfect new titanium knees by falling at some stupid angle). When we got home I raced us into the bathroom where I rubbed her down wiuth a towel while she flailed around. She liked that part but it was a bit overstimulating for her, so that she ended up racing around looking for things to shred. Then I stripped out of my wet clothes (wet down to the skin, except my feet were dry) and rolled myself into some dry clothes. And I thought I didn't want to write a poem about it after all. I hardly ever want to write poems: it's not a medium that often fits my way of thinking and feeling. I'm a bit embarrassed about yesterday's poem: it's not very good, but I think it has a good one buried in it if I took the time to dig it out of the muck. Also, I'd want to give it a subtitle.

The rain starts and stops. The wind blows up and wuthers around the house. The trees outside my window go into panicked placating ritual dances until the wind dies down again. Zluta is ill at ease, wants even more attention than usual.

I spent too much time yesterday trying to refresh my memory about military ranks and found out some things I didn't need to learn at this stage because I don't need more details about army life in the previous fin de siecle. Also I had underestimated the recovery needs from the carpal tunnel release I had Monday. I am really, really, really tired. But compared to the "real" surgeries I just had, it's just a wee snip and hardly any re-arranging of my body parts. Still. That's how it is. Even so, I am now taking the steepest hill in my neighborhood like a normal person, no mincing steps at all. My friend Glen's driveway, now, that's another thing. It's much steeper and caltropped with eucalyptus pods, so when I took Zluta there to play with Glen's dog Abby, it was toothgrit all the way down. Up is not a thing, though.
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The chapter I am working on is maybe the penultimate chapter of the book, depending on how many words it takes to write the things that are happening now, but it is more likely the chapter before the penultimate one. Oh, I'm sure it is, no matter how long this stuff goes, because certain things need to be in their own chapters.

oh how I do go on about writing insecurities )

I kind of read Octavia Butler's Fledgling this week too. I skipped ahead to the trials because I am a wuss. It made me wonder just how much of her work is about blending. I will have to read more and re-reading more and figure this out. Also I read Emma Bull's Finder, which was fun enough that I inhaled it but I was also annoyed by its callowness.

On another front, I'm cleaning up the yard to make it pleasant for Frank and Hana when they come later in the month and also so I can see just how much progress I've really made back there. Which is a lot. I have planted a line of coreopsis along one side of one section of the brick path from the garage to Zack's, and parsleyalong the rest of it (and it's still not quite enough parsley for all Zack's and my needs). The front yard is almost cleaned up. After my hand heals from the carpal tunnel release surgery I'm having on Monday, I'll plant the two different abutilons and the one salvia I have in the corner by the almond tree. I have a couple of California milkweeds to plant--they have mousy looking litttle white flowers but they haven't, unlike the other milkweeds, been sprayed with BT to fight light brown apple moth. It's the law, but it makes the milkweeds toxic to the Monarch caterpillars too. So if I had bought one of those pretty ones I would have had to put a net over them for some time--a few months? I forget--to keep from poisoning the animal we're planting it for...

and I also go on and on about my new knees )
On the Zluta front, even though I don't know what I'm doing, we're reaching a place with the backyard barking that is bearable, I'm able to let her go out there freely for many hours a day before she decides to try to provoke the killer dog next door. My current method of breaking that up is to almost silently head her off, distract her with thrown apples, and herd her or carry her inside. Less shouting--which ramps her up-- and no hose spray--which excites her and is actually a reward, However, when I water the yard, I let her play in the hose as much as she likes. Yes, it is still warm enough for her to get wet outside. Though I turned the heater on today. It's set in the low sixties: I think 66 for a period in the afternoon.

Speaking of communication, she is using the wiggle method of communicating her needs much more than the open-mouthed, toothy swarm method. I try to respond immediately but sometimes I'm in the middle of a thing and she has no patience. I've had to exile her only once every couple-few days this last two weeks (it was getting to be two and three times a day, which is too much). Of course, part of this is her general greater contentment now that I am driving again and getting her to the dog park five days out of six.

She has an unfortunately tender stomach, apparently, and apparently I guessed wrong about her food, so that's a work in progress.

5 weeks

Oct. 29th, 2015 04:37 pm
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I don't consider this to be an actual post since it's just keeping track of my knee surgery recovery for my own purposes.

Anyway, this week:

(did I mention Zluta and I going to see the Marching Band Parade the Saturday before last? That was a two mile walk)

Friday: first dance class after the 2nd surgery (at 4 weeks). I danced danced danced for about an hour, taking a break after every three to five dances. The thing though is that I was for a lot of that time dancing better than I have in the whole six years I've been going to this dance class. My legs were not lagging, so I didn't have to fight for the rhythm and I didn't find myself on the wrong foot (hardly ever, until the last few minutes when I decided I was tired). I could follow the leader better on dances I didn't know well and I did two of the kinds of dances I have always considered to be beyond me--the kind where you let go of the people on each side of you and turn around in little circles as you move and then catch hold again. And I did them okay.

Sunday: UCSC had a parade down Pacific Avenue and Zluta and I walked almost to the end of the street to watch it. She was wonderful, by the way: she likes parades, and she doesn't bark her fool head off at the floats and the funny people and the weird noises. I'd say probably 1-3/4 miles.

Today: almost two miles at sunrise because we ran into Bev from across the street who was going to walk out to the end of the pier and back. Dogs aren't allowed on the pier. so we turned back this side of the scary roundabout intersection at the pier. So just shy of two miles, because it's a mile one way to the opening of the pier? (and the pier is half a mile long, so that would be a three mile walk if Zluta were allowed).

At physical therapy it only took a couple of turns rocking back and forth to get all the way over, and then I was pedalling pretty fast for a bit over ten minutes. This means that I consider myself ready to ride my actual bike around town now.

And then my PT discharged me three weeks early...

My stats are only okay: 118 degrees flexion and 5 degrees extension on the right leg, 120 flexion and 1 degree extension on the left leg. But they are definitely okay!

I get my carpal tunnel release on the 9th, which is 11 days from now. And then I will be done with surgery!!!

I still haven't challenged myself on downhill walking, because it gives me the creeps. But I'm beginning to go down stairs the normal way instead of one step at a time, when I feel like it. It's currently much slower than one step at a time, because I have to convince my knees that they can too handle it.

Also I am less tired, sleeping fewer and shorter daytime naps and I have the focus to write nearly a thousand words a day and also to do a bit of yardwork and housework. As Frank and Hana are coming in three weeks, I am trying to clean up a bit so they don't go home worried that Ma can't handle herself...
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Catch up post of course. You can skip this, but I think I want to keep records of my recovery for my own purposes.

I stopped taking pain meds (tramadol and tylenol) on schedule two days ago. This is somewhat later than last time, which is interesting because all most of the other indicators of recovery have come much faster. I think there is a relationship between those two things.

long discussion of surgical recovery )

Other posts upcoming: ┼Żluta roundup, reading roundup, reminiscences of my brother, stuff about writing in general and not-Poland in specific
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I probably don't have to explain why I've posted less about this surgery than the last one. Nevertheless, here it is, day 10, and I feel I'd benefit from logging my observations.

I had the feeling that rehab would go a little faster this time than last, and it appears to be true. I got "graduated" from walker to cane by the physical therapist on day 7 largely because I confessed that I kept wandering off from the walker. I take the walker when I'm really, really sleepy and I don't trust my balance, but that's happened maybe twice. Nowadays I keep losing the cane because I forget I haqve it and I wander around for several minutes before I remember it.  But my stamina's still pretty low.  I can water the yard but then I want to sit down, for example.

Pain is a bit more severe some of the time (possibly because healing is faster) than last time though it is still pretty mild most of the time. However, pain management is simpler because I knew going it I was going to use tramadol instead of the big guns. Dr. Spiegel also prescribed promethazine for nausea and to enhance pain relief, but I didn't get till yesterday which was also coincidentally the first time I experienced mild nausea. I took one. No more, unless I'm gibbering and I can't sleep. It put me in a stupor for hours, which made coping with a desperately bored puppy very difficult.

I just really don't do well with sedatives, I guess.

The physical therapist (cute, young Quinn from Louisiana) also toiok me up the stairs to my bedroom. I could move in any time, but I'm waiting a couple days so it will be easier to haul things up and down before I do. I'll be wanting to pee in a bucket for a few weeks, for example (do not want to do those stairs three-four times at night when I'm taking tramadol and I'm not steady on my toes yet), which is a wee bit of a hassle every morning.

I got the staples out yesterday (yes, it hurts, but not horribly, considering) and now the incision site feels much better (though it was kind of sensitive last night during the times I was conscious).  I feel like it's easier to bend my knee, though it's not nearly all the way there. It's about ninety degrees or maybe a bit more, which I think was the same at this point as last time. I believe this knee was more damaged to begin with: we did the left one first because its function had deteriorated so much that it was my current limitation. If surgery time had come a couple-few weeks earlier or later, the right one would have been first, I think. Anyway, I saw the xray and the leg looks beautiful and straight now. And I feel it when I'm standing up. Also, on the other side, I find myself spontaneously bedning my knees to attend to things on the ground now, whereas before surgery I had to consciously tell my knees to bend. So I have to say that some improvement has been immediate.

I don't know when my left knee stopped feeling like it was encased in hard elastic a size too small, or when the numb part of the skin on the left leg shrank to two spots about the size of a silver dollar. But comparing the left and right legs reveal that those changes have taken place.

I'm finding it a little harder to focus on exercises than last time, which is probably mostly due to the distractions of other aspects of my life.  But the weight gain and loss took a similar route, starting about four pounds light than last time. Eleven pounds on in three days ion the hospital, thirteen pounds off in six days at home. This morning I was briefly four pounds lighter than I was the day of surgery: but I think that's a spurious reading.

On another front, I made a cup and a half of fig-apple jam this morning, and started both quince paste and apple butter. I'll continue those in the oven later when I roast the game hens on beds of vegetables for soup, and bake banana bread with those overly-sweet aplets cut into them to serve the function of raisins. 
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Surgery went well again. This time I was more aware and I remember more of the prep and the surgery itself. This is not mush as I slept through maybe 60 persent of it accorging to the anasthesiologist. I had the same one, Dr. Arakaki. I also had my favorite surheon's assistant. The nurses and the anasthesiologist's assistant were all pleasant too. I remembered George the anasthesiologist's assistant by sight when I saw him and also Marc the Quebequois pre-op nurse.

I think sensation returned a little faster than last time which is a mixed blessing. It hurts a wee bit more maybe (I am not sure I remember that correctly) but I think I was able ro move this knee a bit more and a bit earlier. It's not quite five (I woke up at not quite four) and I am still kind of a ways away from being able to do heel slides let alone get up on my hind legs and walk around. I'm expecting that all to go pretty smoothly though.

The one glitch has been that I have had some trouble with breathing. I just seem to slow down to a stop when I get sleepy. To counter that I'm getting oxygen and fiddling with the bed position. So far the only consequence of that was the alarm going off on the oxygen monitor. I don't feel especially light-headed, considering that I'm recovering from surgery and all the drugs connected to that.A;so, this morning I seem to be having no trouble.

My room has huge windows and most of that is taken up by the crown of an oak tree. Last night I had an amazing dinner of a marinated grilled portobello  ushroom on spinach and a double order of brussels sproutd whose recipe I covet. That was the first meal I'd had in 27 hours because the day before I filled up on a fantastic vegie dish of my own devising involving corn and artichoke hearts and I didn't get.hungry before the deadline for not eating because of surgery came up. So when they offered me crackers  and applesauce I was only too happy

I have already seenmy copy of the post-surgical xray. It is beautiful. The bones are lined up straight and clean and all the bone spurs are gone. No more bowlegs for me! I'm really eager for the physical therapist to come later in the day.

The nurse just came in to ake my blood and blood pressure and she says I was breathing normally in my sleep, so there's that
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So Tuesday at physical therapy I guess I kind of messed up. At the time it didn't feel like I was doing anything wrong, and on Wednesday when I started to pay for it I didn't realize at first what was wrong, but I put the pieces together yesterday and I'm pretty sure that's it.

There's a machine where you rest your ankle on a cylindrical cushion attached to a lever and bend your leg against it: the lever is coupled with a weight so that it resists your effort. It is supposed to exercise hamstrings and quads. This week I had both legs on it, which seemed like a great idea because the unoperated one (the right one) has been seeming kind of paltry and it seems like it would behoove me to beef it up a little before it gets operated on. I kind of egged on the physical therapist to put a bit more weight on them and I went at it with all my strength a wee bit longer than he said to. It felt fine. I was only feeling a bit challenged. I wasn't struggling or doing anything overtly stupid.

But since Wednesday I've barely been able to walk at all. My left leg is stiff and a wee bit achy, like you'd expect from overdoing it a tad, but the right leg had some sharp pains. Oh, and the left had a couple of sharp pangs near the knee at isolated times, which freaked me out, but they didn't persist or worsen so I'm willing to call them just a thing. But the right had sharp pains in the upper muscles and it was all I could do to walk the dog halfway around the block. Today we were able to go for a whole block walk in the morning, which was good for her, because she came home and slept like a dog ought to, but it's a good thing I have Keith to take her for an evening walk, because I don't have another walk in me. Especially since I will go to dancing. If I have to sit and tap my toes like the week before last, so be it.

Today was therefore almost a wash. I got the yard watered, the dog walked and exercised with windfall apples, and the laundry washed, hung, brought in, and put away, but otherwise I lay on my bed and snored.And I had hit a nice rhythm with the note-taking and preliminary editing the last few days, too. I'll see if I can do anything tonight before and after dancing. What I've been doing while snoring? collecting simspoints, sorry to say. If you click the little button and let the little ad run while you do other things, you get five points to spend on download content. The download content goes on sale regularly too, so I've been accumulating community lots for my sims to go to. Also lots of points which I will eventually spend on worlds for my sims to live in. I know. Ridiculous. But most people have some ridiculous hobby in which someone exploits them. I figure this is EA swindling the ad companies, because they must know that there's no way that the serious points miners are actually watching those ads over and over again. All that matters is the click, though. Oh probably the ad companies know what's going on, so it's mostly Northern California Honda, SpeeDee Oil Change, etc., that are being swindled.

for some reason I'm rereading Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, in a kind of idiotic translation, and finding that (1) I didn't remember much in it and (2) if I had I might not have started rereading it. And (3) Turgenev most certainly didn't do any math when he was writing this, because nobody's ages make sense whatever. He has also stacked the deck in every respect. I'm about to read a duel scene and I don't want to.
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So I have two bikes, right? One goes on the trainer and it's a regular mountain bike and I have to struggle to get my leg over the bar.

The other is a folder and it's step-through and kind of upright and Zack doesn't approve of it much because he thinks upright is bad for one';s back. Maybe it is when you ride hard, but of course I don't Do you know what I'm about to say? Of course you do!

I got on Red Bike--the folder--and I rode it right around the block until I ran out of places I would ride without a helmet because I wasn't expecting to go more than back and forth in front of my own house so I didn't put a helmet on.

Well.

That was easy. I'm icing my leg now but only on general principles.

What this means, is it means I am free to go roving when Zack has the car. It means I can ride a bike to the farmer's market and all around downtown. It means also that my leg is really truly making progress and I'm going to be a mobile little thing.

Oh also I'm putting my hands in my pockets going upstairs except when I'm tired. This is not so much to keep my hands off the railing, though it has that effect, but to keep me from hiking my shoulders and limping, and to make me put my weight solidly on each foot. I'm feeling kind of smug because I dreamed it up myself.

Note to Nick: no, I won't be bringing my bike on to BART.
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Apparently six weeks off the bike has changed the way I sit on it. It's very uncomfortable! It's a regular bike, with normal low handles and a medium seat, and on the trainer it's tilted downwards a bit: and my arms hate holding me up and my butt hates sitting like that. So I only spin the pecdals for a few minutes at a time, enough to feel it but not enough to be difficult. Last evening my leg was too swollen/stiff to turn 360 degrees, so I just pistoned back and forth for a while, which is probably why this morning I could go round and round as long as I could stand to sit on the bike (which is not long, yet). That and inordinate amounts of icing. I hope to be actually riding the other bike around town pretty soon. That would be super.

If the trainer was designed differently, I'd be putting the Barcelona bike on it. It's one of those upright bikes, and the seat is wider. But I can't make the Barcelona fit on the trainer, because the rear hub is designed so differently.

Moving my base of operations upstairs means that for excample I have descended and re-ascended my stairs four times today already (an average of once an hour). I am doing most upstairs as close to normal steps as I can, but still coddling myself going down (partly because those stairs are steep and I don't feel completely stable on the downslope yet). Between the tiny bouts of cycling and the upstairs walking, I can see a significant difference already when I do quad sets.

Also, the ravenous hunger has returned. Maybe it left because I was taking it too easy? At this point I am telling the ravenous hunger to stuff it though because I think it is lying. I am eating sufficient food, not restricting calories, but ravenous hunger's position is that I should Eat All the Food All the Time and Especially Right Now, and I call shenanigans on that.

Oh, reading: Last time at the library I got out two books about tree folklore both of which turned out to be boring and stupid when I got them home, Dark Mondays by Kage Baker which is horrorish stories and a couple of novelas, some of which seem to be set in not-quite-Pismo Beach; Archetype by M.D. Waters; and The Solar Queen by Andre Norton. I liked some of the stories in the Baker, though I just skipped most of the lighthouse story and the last two novellas because they didn't interest me. I thoguht the Pismo Beach-ish stories were more interesting than any of the others, though the waxworks one was pretty interesting too.

I don't know whether I liked Archetype but I did finish it in one reading. It belongs in the same family as The Handmaid's Tale and Silver Metal Lover, if you can see those in the same family. Apparently there's another book which continues the story. I'm afraid what starts out as a kind of political noir future with a nicely complex layering of identities might turn into a Mad Scientist story in the second part.

Also, downstairs, I opened an old edition of Voltaire and started reading one of his less well known stories, Zadig. I can't say that it's unjust for it to be lesser-known. It's just sort of smug.

My most recent sewing project--to use my successful little sleeveless top pattern to draft a little top with sleeves--hit a snag: the sleeves I drafted are too small and the adjustments I made to the armscye are too much. I have enough cloth to cut out new sleeves, and I can grade the armscye bigger, but I've lost momentum and I'm letting it be for a couple of days.

Finally, Jacey just retweeted from Mancunicon that the rooms have just about sold out. This worries me because I can't be sure I can go until quite close to the time. So unless there's other hotels close enough and cheap enough, I might miss my opportunity again. Though the UK is small--maybe I can pop over from Loughborough for a single day (this is how I did Baycon this year). I have no idea what transportation is really like though. Every time I'm daydreaming about visiting Frank and Hana and I try to do a search on buses and trains in the UK I get confused and overwhelmed.

So I suppose I have demonstrated that I do in fact think about something other than my knee!
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I can get on and off the bike trainer safely with the stepstool and the seat-to-pedal distance is correct. I am not comforted by the angle of my back. But I can cycle for a bit. I only did it for a couple of minutes.

So another thing I'm working on is being less absurd going up and down stairs. I don't think I should be using both hands for much longer. Especially now that I know that the reason I've been using both hands is that I'm not using the right muscles. Zack says lunges, so I'll do some of those in a bit. For now I'm trying to concentrate on going up and down stairs normally.  It's not easy, because if I don't use both hands I lurch quite a bit, because not using my shoulders means I uncover the deep systematic faking it I've been doing. So I'm taking it slow and concentrating on not lurching.

I moved the laptop upstairs because downstairs on the couch I was hanging my legs over the edge and they were swelling. Now I don't do that. It has the added benefit of making me climb the stairs more often because I have to eat and go to the bathroom and take care of minutiae. It has the other mixed-benefit of inducing me to nap more because my bed is so much more seductive than the couch. Mixed because I probably do need to nap more but on the other hand it interferes with my intentions of writing more.

Also I intend to eat less since I seem to be in a different phase of healing where I'm not ravenous all the time and where I'm not losing weight anymore.
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I cannot express how bored I am getting. This is dumb because nobody's keeping me inside. Anyway, tonight I went to folk dance class for the first time since surgery. Six weeks! I'm not really ready to dance properly, but it was really nice to just be in that place with those people, and to do some kind of dance approximations.

Mostly I sat in a chair and tapped my feet. Sometimes I replicated the dance moves more or less to a highly truncated degree while sitting, and sometimes I just tapped my toes, and sometimes I did my flexion and extension exercises while I watched. A few times I got up and followed along in back of the line because I can't really move fast enough to keep up with most dances. Two dances were sedate enough, just walking really, that I could join the circle and that was terrific.

To accomplish this I spent the afternoon elevating and icing my leg and guess what I'm doing now? That's right, icing and elevating. And wearing compression stockings.

There was one dance I was not really familiar with but it was so attractive that I could not resist exclaiming "That's what I got surgery for! Six months, and I'll be doing that one!"  I don't know if I will be, really, but it was pretty exciting to watch people doing it.

And I really love my folk dance folks. It was really nice to see tham and watch them dance and hear them talk.

On a related front, did I tell you I have my second surgery date? September 23. I'm just about halfway between surgeries right now.

And I bought a step stool to use to get onto my bike when it is on the trainer. And noticed how weak my legs are, that stepping on to the step stool is a challenge. That's going to change.
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Some time ago I spilled water on my laptop. The computer is fine, but the keyboard is toast. I have spent a significant amount of time spread out over a larger amount of time tryintg to replace the keyboard. Not aided by the fact that the fellow I used to (up until this event actually) considered my computer guy kept spacing me out! Anyway after hearing for the fourth time that he had forgotten my issue, I took matters into my own hands and assayed the Dell website. No joy. I tried live chat. Nope, they don't support alienware with live chat. They gave me a phone number. I called. I spent the next two hours exhausting my recourses as one polite and thorough person after another in four different departments failed to come up with a replacement keyboard and sent me along to the next person in the vain hope that they would be able to help me somehow.

Tried googling it. Got nothing but references to new laptops or miscellaneous parts for laptops which are not alienware.

Gave up and planned on tunring the laptop into a desktop and buying a cheap used laptop for mobile writing. Keith (the young roommate I often refer to and seldom explain) suggested asking at a modder's forum. Brilliant! Not because it immediately panned out, but because it indirectly led me back to Tom's Guide, where I've researched many problems in the past. I signed up for the forums and asked if anybody had any suggestions for me, and within a couple hours somebody did.

It was a google search that returned my keyboard (and a similar but not identical one).

Same search.

Different searchers.

Different search results.

Because Google is so fucking clever and tailors its results to the searcher, see? This is so useful to the user, isn't it? The filtered, tailored view of the world? Getting exactly what google's algorithm has decided you really want and need, and not, for example, the exact thing you searched for, word for word?

Okay, anyway, the thing is, my keyboard is ordered and it should be fine.

On another front, everybody keeps asking me when I'm getting a dog. It depends on when I can convince somebody I can handle the kind of dog I need. Specifically, I'm waiting a few days so I can walk into the shelter office without any kind of limp.

I have one more disappointment to share with you--the tomato plants I planted this year, which were supposed to include "Black Krim," appear to all be some kind of orange cherry tomato. So no delicious black slicers for me this year. But my pole beans and zucchini are great!
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My left hand has been gradually becoming more insistant about the fact that it has a nerve entrapment. I want to say carpal tunnel syndrome because I had it before, and indeed had a release done on my right hand 37 years ago, but honestly it could easily be due to the mess in my neck vertebrae. This morning when I was sewing and I had to keep stopping and shaking out my hand and opening up my joints I decided it's gotten bad enough that I must address it this year if I can. So when I was doing my Week 5 checkup with the surgeon's PA, I mentioned it in passing as something I was going to need to deal with and he said "we do those too," which is a relief because I like these people and now I don't have to meet a new doctor. He was pretty sure we could get it done before the end of the year, which will mean that it will be free, because I'll hit my limit for the year on the first surgery.

Of course we need to have tests done to determine where the entrapment is. I'm hoping it's in the wrist because that is a simple, easy surgery with a great record. I know it's not the elbow because ulnar entrapments cause numbness on the little finger side instead of the thumb side. Andrew said neck entrapments cause numbness on the thumb side. I don't know what that surgery is like. Oh, and I haven't considered the shoulder joint: that can be the location of entrapments too. I hope not. Shoulders are complicated.

We didn't schedule the second knee today because the person who does that was out of the office, but when I told Andrew about my right leg buckling he agreed that it should be scheduled as fast as protocols and logistics allow. He thinks September, and maybe November for the other one. Then in January I'll be all fixed.

I also saw the physical therapist today and he had me do the stationary bike and a couple of resistance exercises with machines that have weights on them and also some stretches. At first I thought I couldn't do the bike--thought I had had a setback-but a minute and a half of pistoning back and forth as I warmed up and I was good to go for eight more minutes and my right leg didn't even complain, so I guess I'm closer to riding a real bike than I thought. I was thinking of going to dance class tonight just to say hello but I was too tired at the time. But my friend called from class and I got to touch base with her.

I also got prescriptions and groceries and I also had a bagel and also went to the fabric store where they were having a sale on rayons so I got a bunch of little pieces to make undershirts because I really love these little lightweight undershirts and I have given up on bras completely since the last time I wore one my breast swelled up and ached for days. And I finished my blue and white bandana border dress I made for my stepbrother's wedding. It's a wee bit dorky but I'm structurally a grandma and I get to wear wee-bit dorky clothes.  And then I was exhausted and I couldn't make jam even though I had a huge pot of plums picked from yesterday so I just cut them up and put them in the freezer so they won't rot between now and Sunday when I will have my first chance at doing it.

But tomorrow is the wedding and my hands are purple because while I bought gloves I forgot to wear them. So I have to soak and scrub them a lot beforehand.
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As of yesterday (day 32) my operated leg appears to be my good leg. Walking around last night, it was my right leg (the unoperated one) that was fatigued. And today at my first outpatient therapy it was my right knee that hurt during the stationary bike.

What this means:

1. Recovery from surgery for the left leg is entering the advanced stage.
2.I don't have to worry about having a good leg in recovery for the second surgery.
3. However, maybe I can't get serious about riding my bike around town until a comparable stage after the second surgery.

Another sign of advanced recovery: the passive flexion angle is 118 degrees. Therapeutic success is 120 degrees active.Passive means the therapist pushes your leg a little. I mean a little, in this case: I could almost have done that on my own. I've heard of therapists pushing harder, but that's not how we roll here.Normal, by the way, is between 120 and 140, depending on your anatomy.

On the other hand, I was late to therapy today because I fell in the bathtub and had to take some time to assess and see if I was okay. I was. I'm not sure what happened. I think that I was aiming to sit down on the chair I put in the tub (for, ironically, safety's sake) and I angled wrong and flipped it. I also think that the reason I angled wrong is that my right leg buckled. But I'm not sure. I do know I'm going to get a nonslip bath mat thing before I get in that tub again.

K slept through it. He's on night shifts these weeks so he's like a dead thing in the morning. Earlier on I wouldn't take a bath unless he was awake but I figured I was beyond that now. Well, I guess I'm ratcheting that back for a while too.

Friday I see the surgeon again. The one thing on my agenda will be: how soon can I get the right leg done?
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I drove my car for the first time since surgery today. I was going to do it last night but I was shaky on my legs at the time I intended to do it, so I left it for today. It went well. Getting in and out of cars is an effort but not really strikingly difficult, and my reaction time seems to be up to a small jaunt. I went to the little farmer's market on the Westside, and the fancy pants butcher shop I've been meaning to check out, and to Safeway.

I came home, ate two pounds of cherries with sour cream, and slept for two and a half hours, which is good because I need all the sleep I can get. I am expecting digestive upset from the cherries and sour cream, but so it goes.

At the fancypants butcher shop I bought myself a ridiculous treat: a quarter of a pound of forty-dollar-a-pound salami with douglar fir tips. It tastes good, but not four times as good as plain salami, and it doesn't slice. It sort of mushes. The eating texture is fine, I think the reason it doesn't slice is that it hasn't been compressed enough. All these fancypants sausagemakers grind their meat kind of coarse and barely pack it in.

So: I can drive now. I don't think I can drive in heavy traffic or for long distances, even though I'mve not taken any opioids in a week (and it was almost a week before that when I took another one). I'm just low energy yet, though nothing like I was a week ago.

Nosing around online reveals that for this particular procedure it's a good thing I've had American health care. In other respects, maybe not. But in the UK, apparently they counsel patients to go for complete rest and take pain meds by the clock for a really long time and not to even start physical therapy for weeks. I think I would go bananas with that kind of regime. For one thing what pain and stiffness I have is only relieved by the gentle movement of the PT exercises I've been taught, and for another thing I have had more trouble from taking more pain meds than I need than I have had from undermedicating. I do grant that I suffered when I undermedicated too, but the point is not that I don't believe in any pain medication but that you have to use the right amount whatever it might be. But, for example, week 4 (which just ended for me), is when the UK forum for knee replacement suggests you might try walking out of the house for ten minutes with a walker. And you're still supposed to be taking the medicines by the clock. In week 2 I was walking ten minutes with a cane and transitioning from by the clock to as needed pain medication. I'm lucky, I know that, but it's the constant "don't do more than this, the worst thing you can do is overdo, if you feel any stiffness never do it again" that gets to me. And also the advice "never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down, never lie down when you can sleep."  And the helplessness they encourage--right now I'm supposed to maybe help out cooking a meal but definitely not do laundry...I've been cooking for myself and doing my laundry since day 1. If you could do it in a walker, I did it.

This sounds insufferably smug, doesn't it? I'm totally failing to make my point. My point is that rest and pain medication are important, but so is doing what you actually can, whatever that might be. If your muscles are healing slower, you're not going to be doing laundry on day 1. But heel slides are not demanding, and maybe if you do a few of them off and on all day long you'll be standing for a few minutes a bit sooner? That's my real point. Not that I'm so great but that maybe it's not such great advice to tell people not to bend their legs a bit more?
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Last night and the night before I had almost a normal amount of sleep. I read somewhere that an important part of falling asleep is the body temperature dropping, and I had a moment of clarity. Post-surgical insomnia is quite possibly probably maybe at least partly a bit due to the body's temperature being a bit elevated for healing purposes! So I have added "sleep under only a single sheet" to my insomnia-fighting weapons. I can't swear that it is working, as the difference is really only about an hour more of sleep-- so like 5-6 hours at night instead of 4-5. But it's huge! I've gone from needing to lie down and doze a half hour out of every two hours to maybe sleeping ten to twenty minutes once or twice in a day. Normal range! (My normal normal is like seven hours of sleep)

I've also begun to be somewhat prouctive on the writing font. I forget whether I revealed here that I had recently figured out how to resolve one of the final confrontations in the not-Poland story. It does require a small but pervasive amount of revision in the earlier parts of the book so as to support and kind of foreshadow the events, but I needed to do some revision anyway. To that end I'm taking notes and also advancing the narrative. I need the notes. I have a cast of thousands to not make stupid errors about and I also have decided to change the fates of some soldiers, so that means I have to know where they met their current fates.  I'm also updating the appendices.

Yes, well. Appendices in a work of fiction. Well.

The thing is that the kind of person who likes to read the kind of book that The Drummer Boy is, also like to know how to pronounce the names, and they like to have a handle on the grography--maps and all that. So I thought I'd give them those things in appendices, so they don't have to read that matter unless they want to but they definitely can if they want to. Also, the kind of people who read this kind of book are definitely the kind of person  who will notice that there are a lot of name forms that look inconsistent, and they might be unhappy if I didn't give them a nice context in which to understand what I'm doing with that (the short answer is that Marezhkia is a polyglot country and the people use the forms they like--thus there is a Giurgu and a Yuri and a Yiri, and a Yanek and an Ivek, and so on and so on: and this fact is important to the actual plot, thank you).

I finally found the kind of real-Polish (that is to say, Polish in this world, not not-Polish which isn't Polish at all but I find it a convenient handle) folk music I could not find before. What I had found before was chorales that sounded like Midwestern a capella choirs singing church music, which I am going to just say I respect in the abstract but I would rather not listen to. I was sure that Poles had some music I would like, and given their position on the continent I had an idea what it would sound like.  But then I found a very large corpus of Polish groups who sing English sea shanties, which is charming, and I listened to that with some burbling enthusiasm. Then yesterday--on a whim I threw in Polish folkmusic to the search bar at youtube and found...Lipka Zielona (that's right, it even has a linden tree in it! and birds who are not birds). This is right up my alley-- that's one of the kinds of sounds I like the most, and when I translated the lyrics (using g. translate, my limited Czech vocabulary, and a common-sense feel for how song lyrics go) they were pleasing. Also I like contemplating the resonances the different aspects of the song and performance have with other European folk music. The instrumental elements I tend to call Hungarian though the Hungarians have no monoploy on them, and the vocal style which sounds a little more Russian to me though as soon as I say that I start arguing with myself about it, like that. That's fun.

There's another video of the same song on youtube which has an unbearable costume skit of peasantry whatever nationalist whatwhat, but whatever. If this song has nationalist implications I don't know about, well, I guess if you know it, tell me, and break my heart.

I started this to write about fooooooood. I can't get enough. I thought maybe I was going to get relief from endlessss huger today but it came back. I can't appease it. I thoguht at one point it was because I wasn't eating enough but now I'm eating more: three eggs cooked with potatoies, onion, salami and chard for breakfast, a chicken salad sandwich and a beet and a tomato for lunch, a goddamned bowl of sunflower seeds for a snack, and I'm sure other things, already today. Maybe I'm missing some nutrient and my body's protesting this?
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I had a moment of either slight cowardice or wisdom and decided to get dropped off by car at the library instead of walking both ways to the farmer's market. Except I'm not sure I shaved any distance off: the farmer's market might in fact be midway between my house and the library. Walking back wasn't all that far, but I guess I'm not ready to carry a bunch of stuff yet. It was a bit unpoleasant for a while. I reminded myself I used to weigh more than all of my current weight, the books and the veggies combined, but it didn't cheer me up much. And now I've been home for an hour and a half, still wating for the tylenol to kick in and contemplating tramadol. But it's not bad. I did it, and even though it hurts, I didn't harm myself.

At the library I got a tree gjuide, and another Lisa Goldstein book (because she's always readable) and a Jay ake book and Oliver Sacks's Oaxaca Journal, about a fern huntuing foray he took with a group of enthusiasts. I love his endless interest in everything.

Brought in a meal of wax beans, so that's nice too.

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