Something’s Afoot

Standard

So about six weeks ago I stepped on something in our laundry room/pantry. I thought it was a grain of cat litter and kept trying to brush it off my foot but it wouldn’t come off.

It wouldn’t come off because it turned out to be a piece of glass stuck in the bottom of my precious beautiful foot and now you get to hear the saga of what fun I’ve been having hosting this complete parasite for weeks.

A few hours after the usurper stabbed itself into my poor unsuspecting hoof I finally gave up on the idea that it was a mere crumb of litter and sat down to examine it more closely. After some painful attempts to extract whatever it was I asked The Lovely Rhonda to help and between us we managed to get what appeared to be a piece of glass out. I would have rejoiced but oh man did it hurt.

The evil bit of beer bottle (or whatever it was) glinted malevolently at me, but I just scoffed and threw it in the trash. Little was I to know the tribulations I would face at the remaining hands — shards? — of this little bastard, lo these several weeks hence.

A few days later I noticed that my foot hurt, not excruciatingly but more like irritatingly, every time I walked. Which, you know, is like every single day. This went on for a bit and then I realized that we were about to leave on the Epic Family Vacation to the East Coast and maybe I should get it looked at by a professional, since it was still bugging me and we were going to be traipsing all over four major cities for close to a month.

I went to an urgent care and a smug, restless MD in crisp scrubs sent me for x-rays. He didn’t see any glass in my foot, told me it was inflammation, and advised me to wear cushy shoes and take ibuprofen.

I can do neither of these things. I have to wear hard plastic orthotics in my shoes just to walk upright, and I can’t take NSAIDS because I have a tiny delicate remodeled stomach. So yeah, thanks for that, Doctor McUseless.

We went on the glorious vacation and dutifully traipsed through all the major sights of the aforementioned four major cities, and each day I put a bandaid over the supposedly inflamed area of my foot and just got on with it. We covered 4-6 miles of walking a day, which for a Traditionally Built woman such as myself, with the flat feet and the arthritis and the missing hamstring etc was a significant amount of trudging.

We returned from this epic journey a couple of days ago, and I was too busy starting a new clinical instructor gig to even think about having the foot examined again, but finally today I couldn’t take it any longer and managed to get a same-day appointment at my usual doctor’s office. My provider wasn’t in but I saw a delightful MD there who was willing to give this thing a try.

For an appetizer we started off with a piquant injection of lidocaine directly into my foot. It sucked and I said some Interesting Things right out loud, which did not seem to alarm the good doctor. I imagine that if your job is to occasionally jab people with pointy objects and get paid handsomely to do so, you get used to the occasional bit of salty language.

Next we moved on to the salad course, which involved a scalpel carving into my poor unsuspecting foot-meats. Which were insensate, and it’s a good thing. Because then came the main course of using tweezers to fish around inside my foot in search of stray bits of glass. At least two were extracted. It was difficult to tell how many were removed because a) they were tiny pieces and b) there was blood. So much blood. And c) the glass was brownish and difficult to see in all that blood.

Did I mention I was bleeding my own actual blood during this part? Because I totally was.

We wrapped up this romantic occasion with irrigating the gaping hole copiously with saline in hopes of flushing out any further hangers-on. It really makes the whole event to have a syringe jammed into a cunning new entrance into your foot’s interior spaces. Just adds a certain je ne sais quois.

The tech applied a sassy little bandage to the terrorized appendage and off I went, having been instructed to not bear weight on that foot for a few days and soak the wound four times a day in salt water “to keep it open.”

EW EW EW

If this doesn’t work I get to visit with Mr Surgeon for a more in-depth plumb of the depths of my foot.

Why we won’t be staying there again

Standard

So we booked a moderately priced chain hotel for the NYC portion of our trip and whilst we may stay in a moderately priced chain hotel again, we won’t be staying at this particular Uncomfortable Lodging, and I’m so glad you asked me for the details.

For starters, the room was almost impossibly tiny. Which was kind of expected but for real, you couldn’t swing a kitten in there let alone an actual cat. (Note: I do not condone the swinging of house pets unless the pet appears to enjoy it and then only under OSHA approved conditions)

Example of smallness: refrigerator located under tiny desk so that there was no space for legs should you wish to sit at desk for any reason. No actual wardrobe or closet, just a few hangers on a funky little rod hanging above a tiny shallow niche.

The rooms were reasonably well appointed but came with a hodgepodge of amenities that varied from day to day. Housekeeping took the soap out of our shower the second day but failed to replace it with a new bar. (Why take our soap? Like what the hell?) We used the washcloths but they never replaced those either. We had no ice bucket but the kids did. Whatever.

They never vacuumed the corridors during our stay. There was a giant snarl of hair on the floor outside our room, like someone had cleaned out a hairbrush. It appeared on the morning after we arrived and was still there when we left. The elevator just got grubbier and grubbier with bits of debris. When we went down to the basement for ice ( at the only ice machine for an eight story hotel) we were shocked to see two vacuum cleaners parked right outside a housekeeping closet. We didn’t know they had any.

The elevators were out of service part of the first couple of days we were there, but I suppose this could happen anywhere. To their credit they did get someone in right away to fix it.

Oh, the toilet. When we first arrived it made noises like a fighter jet taking off when flushed. This went in for a couple of days. Then it became blocked, and they sent “engineering” to plunge it, after which it did stop making that noise.

Breakfast. We were supposed to get breakfast each day. Just continental, nothing complicated. Our expectations were not grandiose. Which was handy, because they managed to not come close to meeting them.

First off we would send a couple of the kids down to get the food and each day they acted like the kids were lying when they were told there were five of us. So that’s nice. Secondly, there wasn’t always food available at the the appointed times and when Rhonda called down and asked if/when it would be coming the horrible gargoyle working the front desk would say “I don’t know!” as though it were a stupid question. “They haven’t told me anything!”

When we did get “breakfast” we got a brown paper sack with a granola bar that often contained nuts (I’m allergic), a Kool Aid Slammer (similar to a Capri Sun), always fruit punch flavored (the worst of all flavors), and either a banana or an applesauce cup. Uh, thanks. I guess.

I did check for bedbugs and didn’t see any evidence of them, and the linens were clean, the bed was comfortable, the tv worked, etc. I mean, it wasn’t gross. But it wasn’t that clean. The carpet felt kind of … greasy? underfoot,

2/10, do not recommend.

Who knew?

Standard

So since surgery I’ve had to find alternative beverages from my once-beloved carbonated sodas. We are advised not to drink carbonated drinks anymore, and although I can belch like a longshoreman, I figure why get started again?

So, despite a life-long dislike of iced tea, I’ve started drinking Arnold Palmers which are half iced tea, half lemonade. I found lemonade to be too sweet and acidic on its own. I figured maybe cutting it with iced tea might make it tolerable.

HOLY CRUD YOU PEOPLE IT’S DELICIOUS

So I’ve been having them pretty much everywhere we go because they’re usually available and I get bored of regular water.

Friends, I have to tell you. Not all Arnold Palmers are created equal. Case in point: the other day I had the worst one yet. No actual tea or citrus fruits appeared to be harmed in the making of the beverage. Well, there was a limp slice of presumably lemon floating half-heartedly in the glass so I guess that’s not technically correct. It had a vaguely lemon-adjacent flavor but I never did detect anything reminiscent of tea.

Yesterday we went to a place called The Donut Pub, which I highly recommend for tasty donuts and friendly service — and also for the best AP so far, which was strongly flavored with both lemonade and tea.

Today we’re at a little spot called Hill & Bay which has a decent if rather unassuming AP, but which also has nice chicken wings and tots.

Earlier we stopped for a pretzel in the street and I got Diet Snapple Peach Tea and I have to say — it’s GOOD. Not technically an AP, but nice to have options.

I really did try to like iced tea in the past. It seemed refreshing, is easily obtained, you can sweeten it to your liking. But I just didn’t like it. Now I do. I was told that my tastes may really change after surgery, and that’s proven to be accurate. I am not a fan of really sweet things anymore, and if I have them it’s usually just a nibble and then the kids get the rest.

Iced tea. Who knew?

Tripping

Standard

So we’re taking the Collective Spawn to the East coast for a bit of sight seeing and we leave tomorrow.

One may wonder to oneself: Self? Is now the ideal time to pursue expensive travel? Now, a mere three weeks after moving into new offices and a scant two weeks into training our very competent but brand new office assistant? Is it, self?

And the answer may well be, No, it may not be the ideal time to go, but by God it’s the time we’re going! Because The Lovely Rhonda hath decreed it be so, and who are we to deny this woman her dreams?

We’re starting off in Boston, home of the Tea Party and baked beans and some other stuff.

(Later)

Boston was swell. We took the subway and then bus directly to the Airbnb — an extremely clean, entirely white top floor unit of a triple decker building. The floors were recently refinished and very shiny hardwood. There was absolutely no art or bric-a-brac anywhere in the apartment. There were also absolutely no extra pillows or blankets, so we were one pillow short and a little chilly. The owner was out of town so no help there. Still, like the founding pilgrims, we forged on despite hardship.

We used a hop on, hop off tour to see the major sights and soak up a bit of the history, and then ventured off to the things that seemed interesting. We saw the reproduction ships and museum of the Tea Party, visited the Museum of Fine Arts, took a day trip to Salem, went to the New England Aquarium, took a harbor cruise. We ate dinner in Little Italy and had cannoli from Mike’s Pastry. We are fried clams at Legal Seafood and they were delicious.

I personally average about a half mile to a mile per day of steps at home, which has been normal for me for years what with the general state of disrepair of my knees and feet, obesity, etc. It’s bumped up a bit since the surgery as I now take the dogs to the park a couple of times per week (ish) and walk at least twice around the gravel path, which is a half mile in length. This trip, so far, we’re in the 4 miles per day range. My feet and knees are definitely feeling it but I’m not dying. Mostly. I take prescribed codeine to take the edge off on very bad days and haven’t had to hit it as hard as I did when we went to Europe a few years ago.

Right now we’re in New York City, which I’ve never been to before. It’s a trip, you guys! Once again we’re taking the subway and bus around, we had a hop on hop off tour, and we’re doing a harbor cruise tomorrow.

Today was Pride so we got to see a sort of half-assed not-quite-post-Covid version of Pride. There was no official parade but the route it would have taken was barricaded along the sidewalks anyway. It wasn’t blocked at the streets so whatever did sporadically go by (mostly groups of various sorts with signs, or a couple of times balloon-encrusted cars bearing the parade marshals, and sometimes rainbow-bedecked Ordinary Citizens with a momentary need for attention) had to pause at the intersections, and there were police officers there to direct traffic. We went on a Pride walking tour which was very informative and worth the time, although it being the middle of Pride it was difficult to get around to the various sites. At the end of it we found ourselves joining the March which was also a good time. Who doesn’t love chanting about dismantling the patriarchy with thousands of scantily clad rainbow-decked queers? It was worth going for the people-watching alone.

Also, the Teletubbies were in attendance and gave me a pair of socks so that was pretty cool.

Tomorrow we’re going to the 9-11 Memorial and on a harbor cruise, and to Ellis Island. And whatever other trouble we can find to get into.

On Food

Standard

So we have been on the road the past few days and negotiating eating in restaurants and on the fly for the first time since surgery. Here are some things I found interesting:

1) We heard in the Facebook support group for our bariatric surgery group that one thing you have to get used to is wasting food. You can’t eat anything close to a regular sized restaurant meal anymore, even the “lighter fare” smaller meals they offer. Even children’s menu meals are too big. This is super true. This morning The Lovely Rhonda and I split a lighter meal of a two egg scramble with ham and cheese, hash browns and English muffin. We each ate about half of the half order of scramble on our plates, a couple of bites of the half order of hash browns, and a couple bites of the half English muffin. So between us, half the meal was left behind.

Of course, at home we save leftovers and don’t actually waste the food, but you get the idea. We really do eat very little.

2) It appears the sugar monkey on my back is at least muzzled. I had a tiny piece of cake with a little dab of ice cream last week on my daughter’s birthday and it made me super weird. Well, weirder. I felt kind of sick to my stomach and then super tired for a while. I’m not saying I’m off all sugar for good, but I won’t be eating more than a bite here and there.

3) I don’t really miss soda. Once I gave it up the spell was broken. Some people can still have carbonated drinks after this surgery but a lot of people cannot tolerate them due to the tiny stomach/no room for gas issue. I am a world champion belch queen from way back and could probably have them, but why?

I have started to order the occasional Arnold Palmer because I like lemonade but it’s too sweet, I like iced tea only sort of, and the combination of the two isn’t bad.

Also, and this is TMI so stop reading now if you don’t care to know, carbonation and caffeine are irritants to the bladder. Guess who no longer has to pee constantly and urgently? I’m super cool with this. I have also found that sugar free drink mixes like Crystal Light contain something that my bladder doesn’t like, maybe the malic acid, so I don’t have those very often either. They are now a sometimes thing when I just want something other than water, and I like them diluted anyway. Harm reduction, people!

Spelunking on a Sunday

Standard

So we’re wrapping up this little mini-break with an adventure the likes of which we have not experienced before, and which three months ago we could not have done.

It’s not as though we’re breaking new ground here, we didn’t make an expedition up Everest or anything. But we did take a tour through the Lewis & Clark Caverns National Monument, which did involve a death march hike up to the entrance, a distance of approximately forever three quarters of a mile and an elevation gain of about ten thousand three hundred feet.

At the trail head one is greeted by this sign.

And so we found ourselves trudging wearily up the path. I typically use a cane for longer walks because of my rickety leg situation; it makes it easier to push off since my left pusher-offer hamstring muscle is completely MIA. But, we were afeared that they wouldn’t allow me to go on this trek if I had a stick with me so I left it behind in the car.

We survived the hike up, predictably coming in dead last behind the family with the four year old and the mom carrying a toddler in a front pack. It’s ok though; coming in last is pretty much my specialty. Plus that mom looked really fit.

Once at the cave entrance you get a few minutes to listen to the park ranger guide talk about the history of the caves and how much damage people have done to it over the years and why you definitely need to not touch anything or carry any cool cave features away which we wouldn’t do anyway because we are not assholes.

And then in we went, down through room after room of spectacular cave formations, down six hundred million bajillion steps, down in the cool beautiful cave until we emerged victorious into the bright sun and sweatily but triumphantly trudged the quarter mile back to the visitor center.

A pool
500 foot tunnel blasted through by Conservation Corps to provide a lower exit so we wouldn’t have to climb back up all those damn stairs

There were places in the cavern where you had to stoop to squeeze through low ceiling areas, sidle sidelong around odd corners, even sit on your bottom and slide down a little curving stone slide (or duck walk through). I’m not great at regular walking so I was feeling not so confident about any other kind. This meant I had to negotiate sitting on the ground and then getting back up at the end, a process that was made all the more enjoyable by the fact that there were a couple of people behind me to act as witnesses. Nevertheless I prevailed and I’m not even dead here at the end.

Anything beyond walking on level ground is precarious for me as I have on one leg a reasonable knee with no muscle attached to it and on the other leg a shitty arthritic knee, complete with torn meniscus and MCL, with the usual amount of muscle attached. Lucky me! Still, I managed the cave tour with all its interesting terrain and it was super fun and cool, and as previously noted, bonus points for not being dead.

The Lovely Rhonda also prevailed although it was touch and go on the stairs up toward the end. She is my hero.

“I’m not dead yet “

Our Progress Through Life

Standard

So today we’re in Bozeman, Montana, taking the eldest child to her first college tour. We decided to make a little mini-break out of it because The Lovely Rhonda cannot do anything halfway. Oh, we just moved into new offices? Must be time to not be home to set up the computers.

Anyway, tomorrow we’ll head over to the Museum of the Rockies for a bit and then mosey over to the north end of Yellowstone, and Sunday we’ll explore the Lewis & Clark Caverns; then Monday we’ll head home.

Bozeman is pretty nice, very much a college town full of Dynamic Young People ™ but also charmingly rustic at its heart. As an example the cafe we’re about to eat breakfast in is housed in a 150 year old building with a pressed tin ceiling. Bozeman is also relentlessly Caucasian, and we’ve seen a few ratty Trump flags still waving limply in the breezes, but this is not unusual for the American boonies.

In other news, recently we went through our closet and culled out the pants that don’t fit. This turned out to be pretty much all of them. All the pants that didn’t fit pre-surgery because they were too tight, now don’t fit because they’re literally falling off of us. We gathered them into a heap which I then felt compelled to fold neatly because of reasons. We’re donating them to a friend’s charity where we are assured that the chunkier lady recipients are in need of our FIFTY pairs of pants.

Yes. Fifty. Because we had a lot of pants. Stop asking questions.

Ok, it is a lot of pants.

I had a sad because the shorts I kept because they were my favorites are now too big and not even worth donating because they’re antiquated and too worn out to be useful. Such is life.

I’m now wearing pants that are two sizes smaller. So I’m not THAT sad.

Another new development: I can cross my legs.

It’s been years.

This is significant because a) I used to be too fat, and b) after I ripped off my semimembranosis muscle, it took me about a year and a half to cross my legs at the ankles. Now, a mere three and a half years later, I can cross my actual legs. I did it today, twice, while we were listening to college tour stuff.

Today we took a walking tour around the main points of the campus while a chipper college student delivered a great deal of information to us at high velocity. Past me would have stayed back at the student union building, but current me went along with this demented scheme. I admit to trudging by the end, but it didn’t kill me.

Which is good, because Sunday we’re going on a two mile hike through a cavern that will involve not just walking but “the route requires visitors to navigate over 600 stairs (over 500 down and over 100 up), to bend, duck waddle, and even slide.”

Three months ago this would not have been even a possibility. To say I’m excited is an understatement.

At least it’s not the ‘rona

Standard

We went motorcycling last weekend. We each have these pretty great motorcycles and they’ve hardly been ridden in ages because of my dumb leg and then our work schedules and summer heat and life and kids and stuff.

Then too (speaking only for myself here) I wasn’t that comfortable riding because my gear wasn’t fitting well and I just felt awful.

A friend of ours posted about wanting to go for a jaunt on Saturday so we decided to go, despite The Lovely Rhonda having constant misgivings about our right to do anything fun during These Trying Times while we are expanding the practice etc. So, we plugged in the battery tenders and mentally prepared ourselves for the work of riding. It really is work if you’re out of practice and deconditioned.

It turned out to be cool and cloudy, so over-pants were necessary. I hadn’t worn mine for a couple of years and they barely fit then.

Sixty pounds (almost) later, they fit GREAT. I could easily bend my knees, they were roomy, all that jazz. It was a big deal.

Sadly, I chose to wear a mesh jacket with a thick flannel shirt under it, plus my t-shirt, thinking it’d warm up. This was unwise as I got a chill and had difficulty warming up, despite my delightful heated handgrips.

We peeled off the ride when it got close to our neck of the woods and went directly to the hot tub, but even an extended soak did me little good. I thought it was just being cold and tired, but (cue ominous music) it turned out to be something else entirely.

Well, maybe not entirely. Probably being cold and tired did contribute.

I spent the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday with a crappy headache, chills, and fever, feeling horrifically terrible. Monday wasn’t much better, and with the added fun of Digestive Problems. Like, “stay close to a flush toilet” kind of problems.

Today I went and had a Covid test because all of these symptoms can be associated with a minor Covid infection, but it turns out I’m just garden variety sick. Things are starting to settle down — as an example, I can now trust a cautious fart — but I still have a headache and feel lousy.

Who even am I anymore

Standard

So tonight the children are “independently” (using our money of course) taking their babysitter out to an escape room and sushi.

Well technically they are footing some of the bill themselves. So there’s that.

The Lovely Rhonda and I decided to go out for something to eat, because the food at home didn’t appeal to us. You know how that goes. We ended up at McGraths, which is where you take your grandma on her birthday, but it’s close and we like seafood.

Past us: ALL THE THINGS with a diet soda (me) and a beer or two (TLR). Fried shramps! Baked potato! Bread! Clam strips! Stuffed mushrooms! Rawr!

Present us: Uh, we’ll each have a lemonade and split an appetizer sampler.

Waiter: Great! I’ll be right back with your bread!

Us, in unison: NO BREAD!!

Rhonda: eats one fourth of a crab cake, three tablespoons of chowder, and a single tiny piece of mini garlic toast with crab and artichoke dip.

Me: PEELS THE BREADING OFF the two coconut shrimp and eats only the meat, also one fourth of a crab cake, and a darling piece of mini garlic toast with dip.

Both of us: OH GOD I’M STUFFED

The good news is that we brought the rest home and finished nearly all of it over the next couple of days.

But really? I peeled off the breading?

Who even AM I anymore?

In other news we took photos at about our seven week surgiversary. Here’s a couple of mine:

Fifty five pounds gone.
Also I got a haircut.

Trudging

Standard

So we have these two really goofy dumb dogs and they are young and also dumb.

We both work full time and the children have entered that stage where they are slugs with electronic gadgetry. If we are lucky, we can get them to exit their rooms once daily to grunt sullenly at us before racing back up the stairs to clasp their precious Nintendo Switches to their bosoms once again. So the dogs don’t get the exercise they should be getting, except that we do send them to doggy daycare twice weekly and I take them to the off leash park sometimes.

The dog park has a half-mile gravel track going around it and the dogs can roam as they please while the humans walk the track. There are a variety of types of people who come to the park: the snooty fast walkers who don’t make eye contact and are wearing earbuds, the older folk who have old dogs that shamble along slowly, the talkative sort, the awkward middle aged guys who don’t know how to make small talk, the super into-it Dog People festooned in all the gear with the Chuck-It and the belt pouch of treats, etc.

I just try to show up with a) the dogs and b) my shoes on the right feet.

I myself have a love/hate relationship with the track. After the Accidental Splits Debacle at Winco about three and a half years ago, in which my left semimembranosis muscle slipped its surly bonds and became one with the rest of my leg muscles (detached and retracted, scarring into the back of my leg) I have been somewhat more hobbled than I was already, and I was already hobbled pretty comprehensively. The muscle I lost is the one that draws your foot backward, as in the movement you make when wiping your feet on a doormat. This movement is also used when walking; you just don’t really notice it because you’re focused on moving the one leg forward and not so much on what the other leg is doing — but walking is really a pushme-pullyou action. Often when walking my hip muscles spasm painfully after the equivalent of a couple of blocks because of the alteration in my gait.

Between the loss of this muscle, the extreme flatness of my feet, and the arthritis in pretty much every joint from the knees down, I’m not much for walking. My portliness didn’t help, as evidenced by the fact that now that I’ve lost fifty pounds I can walk the track much more easily.

In the past I could barely make it once around the track. If I had someone with me to talk to, was talking on the phone or (rarely) listening to a podcast or audiobook, I could sometimes make two laps around, but it was uncommon. (Distraction is a proven pain management tool)

Today I took the dogs to the park and walked two laps around without any drama. Some spasming, but not too bad. I didn’t have anyone with me and I wasn’t listening to anything. I just walked.

Life is pretty good and gets better by the day.