Monday, April 20, 2015

The Next Step: Physical Therapy

Me in front of the physical therapy location in Milton DE where I will begin my month long regimen to complete the healing of my leg injury

Just got back from my doctor's.  He said I'm ready to begin physical therapy.  The tissue has healed enough in my leg for me to begin a routine of physical exercises to I can bend my knee and build up my quadricep muscles.  I'm ready!  Oh am I ever ready.

I got lucky by having an up to date, modern physical therapy center right in Milton, just up the road from where I live. I knew I moved to Slower Lower for a reason. I was given a choice of multiple physical therapy centers but chose the one closet to me because I just don't want to fight that Route One traffic. Especially now with the tourist season coming up and all those crazy assed drivers coming down here from the north.  You just have to stay out of their way because they are always in a HURRY.  I don't need to have another accident.

The physical therapy center has to verify my insurance and then they will call me to arrange my three times a week visit for physical therapy.  Now for the hard part.  When I dislocated my knee way back in 1962, I also had to undergo a month long physical therapy routine three times a week.  What I remember most about that time was how hard it was at first to get that weakened and stiff leg of mine (it was the other one that time - I'm an equal leg injury kind of guy) to MOVE.  Then, after the initial pain and frustration, the PT just got boring.  One memory I will always have, was that while I was doing PT with weights on my leg, the news came over the radio that John Glenn had just circled the earth in a satellite, thus becoming the first American spaceman (the Russians had already beat us to that title but hey, just a footnote to our history books, right)?  

Eventually my leg got back to normal and I was off and running. Which is what I hope happens this time around.  It better because Pat is coming down on the 23rd of April for his annual visit to Lower Slower.  We have big plans for that week.  I want to be able to move around like a normal person.  I am so tired of being loaded into the back seat of the car with my stiff leg.

By the way folks, those of you who thought I should have had physical therapy sooner - my doctor told me that the tissue had to heal sufficiently on my leg first before I could begin physical therapy.  And oh, by the way, I still have to keep my leg brace on which I thought I would.  I don't feel safe without it.  And my doctor said he didn't want to take a chance of me falling again and undoing all the healing that's taken place over the past six weeks.  I don't either!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Last Day?

Last day on this earth?

Me yesterday in front of my neighbor Barbara's weeping cherry tree - correction - me and my leg brace

Last day of the sale?

Armageddon just around the corner?

Oh what could Ron be referring to?  

Well folks, I think today, is the last day I'll be wearing this damn brace on my leg.  

I've been wearing this brace since I fell way back on that dark zero degree night of February 18th while leaving work.  And I'm here to tell I am TIRED of wearing this brace.
The novelty has definitely worn off.  And I have extracted every bit of pity possible from friends, co-workers, neighbors and strangers as I've been hobbling around these parts with this hideous brace for the last two months.  

The leg brace was put on to keep my leg straight while the tissues of my quadricep muscles that I ruptured when I fell in the ice.

Quadricep Femoris Muscle
For those of you who don't know what a quadricep muscle does here is a description:

All four quadriceps are powerful extensors of the knee joint. They are crucial in walking, running, jumping and squatting. Because rectus femurs attaches to the ilium, it is also a flexor of the hip. This action is also crucial to walking or running as it swings the leg forward into the ensuing step. The quadriceps, specifically the vastus medialis, play the import role in stabilizing the patella and the knee joint during gait.

What I ruptured was the part of the leg at very top of this illustration, quadriceps femoris. After I fell, I couldn't swing my leg forward.  My left leg was useless, dangling like a piece of dead meat. 

Now I can swing my leg forward. I can now bend my leg about 20%.  If I bend it back any further it locks and I don't want to force anything. I believe the muscle tissue is still healing.  But every morning I get up and use my leg, I feel I can bend it even a bit more. I hope that's not just my imagination or wishful thinking.

This has been some ordeal folks. I think this is the worst health situation I've ever had because it has made me realize how vulnerable I am to being totally helpless with one fall.  Thank God I had Bill here or else I would still be in a rehab center.  

I still can't drive or even sit in the passenger seat.  I need to have the ability to bend my leg more in order to do that.  But at least I can walk unaided with a cane and I can swing my leg forward, which is crucial to walking.  I'm still a little unsteady on my feed without the cane but I'm way better than a month ago when I was totally dependent on a walker in getting around.

Guess what I did yesterday?  I planted plants.  Of course I couldn't get on my knees and plant those alyssum plants but I managed.  And I could only plant one flat, because I was exhausted.  I don't want to push my luck.  But I do want to get back to my regular routine.

This morning, for the first time since my accident I vacuumed cleaned.  Hooray!  Now to clean my wood floors, although this time I will do it with a dust mop instead of on my hands and knees like I usually do.

Yesterday, when I laid down to take my nap the realization came to me that I have a little more than a month to go until I'm back to normal.  And I'm here to tell you folks, I actually got a little excited.  This ordeal has been a long row to hoe folks.  I would love to have a few months or even years of just good health so I can enjoy like before the Grim Reaper comes to collect his due.  

So get out there folks and enjoy this wonderful spring day.  That's what I'm going to do now because I have that other flat of alyssum plants to plant.

Smiling more these days folks!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Glorious Spring Saturday Morning

 Good morning folks! This is what life is all about, this glorious spring Saturday morning. This is what I live for folks.

Bill and I just got back from Pepper's Greenhouse.  I had to by some alyssum flowers for my oval planter.  

Alyssum is usually the first spring plant that I buy.  This delicate, aromatic flower thrives in cool temperatures.  I can plant it in my oval planter and it will last all summer up and until the first frost and a few weeks thereafter.  It doesn't like the heat of summer and goes go into a bit of hibernation but quickly recovers during the cool fall temperatures.  

Each year I have to make sure I get to the local greenhouse early enough to purchase my alyssum.  One year I got there too late and they were out and I was out of luck.  I had to go the whole spring and summer season without my "carpet of snow."  

Of course this morning was a chore getting to Pepper's.  Bill still has to load me into the back seat of the car.  My leg doesn't bend enough, with this leg brace still on, to sit in the front seat.  But I'm hoping my doctor advises me to ditch the leg brace and advising me to bend my leg (knee) more.  

While we were at Pepper's we ran into my co-worker Lou and his lovely wife Eileen (I think that's here name).  

Bill, Lou and Eileen at Pepper's Greenhouse this morning
 Small world around here folks!  That's what I love about living in Delaware, especially southern Delaware. Look at Bill, he looks thrilled doesn't he? He still has to follow me around, pushing a cart and making sure my leg doesn't give out.  Oh it was so good to get out this morning and at least start back on some semblance of my regular spring routine of visiting Pepper's.  I also brought to parsley plants.  The danger of frost isn't over yet and parsley is one of those plants that can take a mild frost of two.  Later on when the danger of frost is past (after Mother's Day or May 15th) I'll buy some basil, sage, cilantro, and other herb plants.  

When I woke up this morning the swelling on my injured leg was almost nothing.  I was swimming in my brace, moving my leg and knee around almost like normal.  

I can feel normalcy returning folks!  Isn't it amazing how the body heals itself?  Life is amazing. And I treasure every moment I have.  

This morning I was thinking about my friends Ed and Wayne who died earlier this year.  No more will they experience the special joys of spring. So sad for us who have been left behind but, hopefully, wherever they are they are happy and enjoying eternal bliss.

Here's to you guys, you are missed.

Ed Cage - died January 27th 2015
Wayne Juneau - died February 17th, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mulholland Drive to Hollywood Sign

There it is! The famous "Hollywood" sign - we have arrived!

Good morning folks!  Back to California this morning. Oh I do have a lot of photos and videos to post of our adventures in Los Angeles this past January.  By the way, yesterday Pat finalized his plans for visiting me here in Delaware at the end of next month. Hopefully my leg is back to normal then. So now I have my plans finalized for visiting Pat in Tornonto at the end of August and of course next January we're back out in Los Angeles to pick up where we left off this past January.

Today's installment of "Ron and Pat's Excellent Adventure in La La Land" takes place on Mulholland Drive.  That's right folks, the fabled Mulholland Drive.  To actually drive, walk and see these famous iconic landmarks of Hollywood history was such a thrill for both me and Pat. Every day, a new adventure. Today we wanted to see the Hollywood sign.

First we had to drive up Mulholland Drive to get to the top of the hills to see the Hollywood sign. We weren't the only ones driving up the Hollywood hills that beautiful, sunny, glorious, spectacular January day in Los Angeles.  What a wonderful way to have a vacation, no set plans, no particular place to be on a certain day, just get up and take off wherever we felt like it. What a pleasure it was to travel with someone like Pat who didn't have another agenda to meet someone else and had all the time in the world to spend with me.  Someone who appreciates the same things that I do, like visiting all these Hollywood landmarks. 

One thing that surprised me where we visited was all the hills in Los Angeles.  I guess I've just gotten used to the flat coastal plains of Delaware where I live now.  When Bill and I took our trips south we encountered mountains, very little flat land.  Los Angeles is interesting because there is this vast valley and the hills (Hollywood) surrounding it.  I may have this wrong so feel free to correct me for those of you blog readers who know more about Los Angeles (Tony, Jon) than I do.

We were looking for a place to park at the end of this day so we could see and take our pictures of the Hollywood sign.

We finally found a place to park.  Then we continued our trek to the top of the mountain to get a good view of the Hollywood sign.  We were at the end of a perfect weather day and we wanted to see the sign before the sun set. 


 The last time I climbed a "hill" like this was when Bill and I visited the Pisgah Mountains of the hillbilly country of western North Carolina to see my great grandfather Isaac Lewis's grave at the top of the mountain. Just about killed me then to climb that mountain as it did this day. Pat didn't seem to have any problem though bounding up the "hill." All that yoga training he's had was paying off.  

We're at the top of the hill! Pat points to the Hollywood sign.

And then we finally arrive at the top of the hill and see the sign.  What a magnificent view!  Look at all those homes in the Hollywood Hills.  What a wonderful place to live.  Of course there is drought of the century going on in California now.  They're running out of water but hey, look at the view.  Don't they have fires up here too because of the dry brush?  Oh well, at least they don't have to worry about hurricanes like I do here in coastal Delaware.  Everywhere you go in the United States, even Hawaii there is some risk.  But one thing is for sure, those Hollywood Hills sure are beautiful.  

I guess if you lived there, you would get used to it. I don't know though, I think I would luxuriate in this beauty every day and never take it for granted.  I am so glad I took Pat's suggestion to visit Los Angeles and disregarded all those who advised me against visiting L.A., most with the common refrain "There's nothing to see and you'll need a car!"  Well, we got a car and had a LOT to see. So there you naysayers (you know who you are). 

Of course we weren't the only folks on top of that vantage point in the Hollywood Hills that day taking in the views. I'm pretty sure all of the other people up there were young folks. Pat and I were the only two old geezers who made the climb that day. Proving yet again that although Pat and I may be as old as the hills, we're still young at heart and always will be.

One of the young people that day doing his Leonardo DiCaprio Titanic "King of the World" impressions

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Pennsauken, New Jersey 1964

Me at Bill's apartment in Pennsauken, New Jersey - 1964

This week's walk down Memory Lane via Throwback Thursday is of me in 1964.

The location is 3732 A Herbert Avenue, Penn Manor Apartments, Pennsauken, New Jersey.

This is my Bill's apartment.  Note the iconic mid-sixties furniture.  Right out of "Mad Men."  Bill had a nice sense of style before I came into his life and started to place all my mother's doilies around.

Note the painting on the wall, that's was by Bill too. Looks like a paint drop cloth but then "art" is in the eye of the beholder isn't it?  Bill tossed this painting when we moved in an apartment together.

When I met Bill in July of 1964, I lived in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.  Coatesville was 51 miles away from Pennsauken.  After our first meeting, in which I went home with him after meeting him at the Westbury Bar in Philadelphia, Bill would pick me up every weekend.  Yep, he would drive the 51 miles one way to Coatesville, PA and pick me up and drive me to his apartment in Pennsauken, NJ.  Then Sunday he would drive me back to my apartment in Coatesville.  He did this every weekend from July 1964 to February 1965.  Every weekend folks.  Hey, I think he liked me.  And I knew that no one else would ever do that for me.

The weekly commute to Bill's apartment
So that's my Throwback Thursday this week folks!

Me - Bill's apartment Pennsauken New Jersey - 1964

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pat, Spo, me and Someone at the Canadian National Exhibition last August

This morning I made my reservations for my annual end of summer trip to Toronto, Canada.  I got a good rate too! Under $300 for a round trip!

Downtown Toronto (photo taken by Pat)

Last year was my first trip to Toronto since Bill and I spent our honeymoon traveling through Canada in 1965. In that year we visited Toronto, Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa. I never thought I would visit Canada again in my lifetime until I met Pat a year and a half ago in August of 2013.

The above video was Day Two after I met Pat in August of 2013, when he drove down from his home in Toronto, Canada to Rehoboth Beach to get his old time photo made with me. You know me and my old time photos. By the way, he's coming down again this year as soon as my leg heals, so we can do another old time photo with our friend Larry Meredith. This was the first "Ron and Pat" videos. The beginning of a You Tube tradition!

Pat, Larry and me at Old Time Photo last year - we get a new photo this June

Pat and I do three trips a year.  One in January to Los Angeles.

The second one at the beginning of summer in Rehoboth Beach.

And the third trip to Pat's home in Toronto to celebrate the end of summer.

Pat's minimalist home in Toronto, Canada

I love Toronto!  What a pleasantly surprised to discover that Toronto is a very diverse city of many different types of people.  White, black, yellow, brown. Different religions, ethnicities and and cultures and I didn't feel the "you're different, you don't belong here" vibes that I feel in most places here in the country of the land and free, the United States of America.  The only exceptions (for me) where I didn't feel this animosity from most of the regular, "family type" white folks was Provincetown, Massachusetts and this past January in Los Angeles, California. 

A typical neighborhood Toronto street - Toronto isn't all skyscrapers and film festivals
Pat gets around in Toronto on his bike.  Actually a lot of people of all different demographic backgrounds traverse the heavy Toronto traffic with bicycles. Not me though. Way too dangerous. I don't plan in having any more accidents for a long time, thank you.

Pat helmeted up and ready to travel the clogged Toronto streets
Last year we met our friends Dr. Spo and Someone from Phoenix, Arizona during our end of summer holiday in Toronto.  Unfortunately, we won't be meeting this year because of scheduling conflicts.  We will miss their delightful company, especially when riding the rides at the Canadian National Exhibition and screaming like little girls.

Pat and I will just have to manage on our own to have a good time without Dr. Spo and Someone.
We can do that.  Look for the Ron and Pat videos on You Tube.  You know they're coming!

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Taste of Spring 2015 and Oher Thoughts

Today is one of those glorious spring days that hurts.  Here I am stuck in the house with this bum leg.  If I wasn't hopping around on this leg, I would be outside today surveying my backyard for "holes" to  plant daffodils for next year's bloom fest.

I also would be taking a walk on the boardwalk in Rehoboth.  This is the best time of year to walk the boards in Rehoboth.  The kids are still in school and the tourists are still at their homes.  Late fall and early spring are the best times for us locals to enjoy the coastal pleasures of Rehoboth Beach.  Looks like I'm going to miss that pleasure this year. But then I think of my friends Ed Cage and Wayne "The Cajun" Juneau . . . . their glorious spring days are gone now.  Ed died January 27th and Wayne died February 17th, one day before I fell and injured my leg.

Wherever they are now I hope they are in eternal bliss and raising a toast to us still struggling through every day life here on earth and trying to grab a little bit of happiness whenever when we can. Here's to you Ed and Wayne.

Ed and Wayne at the Purple Parrot

Still Riding in the Back Seat, But I Will Dance Again

How I travel these days

Just got back from some food shopping at my favorite local supermarket.  Yep, I'm still being chauffeured to the store in the back seat of my car. 

Bill drives up to the entrance to the store and lifts my injured left leg in the car as I back in the back seat. Then when we arrive at our destination, he holds my leg level while I scoot out of the back seat.  I've been doing this for almost two months now.  It's getting old folks, real old. But at least I can get out and shop. For that I am immensely thankful.  I think of all those folks who are missing limbs or have more serious injuries than I have who cannot get out to the store. Harrison Ford comes to mind. The survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing who lost limbs. I have no room to complain I know but this has been my reality for the past two months and probably will be for the next few weeks.

Last week at my followup appointment with my orthopedic doctor, he hinted that perhaps I could dispense with my leg brace after my visit with him next week.  Oh what a wonderful thought!  I still don't have the confidence to walk unaided without a cane but I felt that way last week when he told me to ditch my walker. In fact, when I'm in the kitchen preparing a meal for myself I find myself moving about without my cane.  And last night when I got up for a nighttime visit to the bathroom, I forgot to bring my cane back with me!  

The best time of the day for me is in the morning after I wake from a restful night.  I sleep with my leg elevated.  For six or seven hours there is no pressure on my leg.  My foot isn't swollen from gravity. And the last couple of nights I notice that my leg brace is very loose when I wake up in the morning which means the swelling in my leg has gone down.  For the past two months my left leg has been significantly larger than my right leg from the swelling. But once I'm up and about, defying gravity, the swelling comes back like it is now. 

The left leg and foot after a restful night. The black on my big toe on my right leg is from a bad fitting shoe when I took a walk on the boardwalk months ago.  It will take months for that black of the stubbed toe to disappear. If it's not one thing it's another isn't it?

What gets me through the day is wearing a compression sock on my left foot.  I still have a swollen left foot but it is significantly lower. My mind isn't on the throbbing pain of a swollen foot all day.  I can actually concentrate on other things, like sitting at my computer and updating my Find a Grave account, iPhotos (which is now "Photo" and another whole story for another posting) and checking out my favorite blogs.  

One day, not too far in the future now I feel, this episode in my life will just be another addition to my Medical War Story library to share and bore with friends, family, co-workers and neighbors in the future.

I'm coming back folks!  I should be dancing and I will.