Tag Archives: Total Knee Replacement

Miss Buzz; Double Click

Dateline: April 12, 2015

It was quite breezy along the front range in Colorado today. A strong high pressure pushed air currents over the Rockies and pulled down some cooler Canadian air.

One of Zephyr’s effects was to tug at the many petals that had emerged these past 10 days or so, as spring had sprung to life.  I was noticing mostly the brilliant whites and pink blossoms of fruit trees, not to mention lilacs and many others. The petals, like mute winged fairies, floated gently, settling near their twiggy sources.

I recall last year about this time — when working on pruning some shrubs and doing some early weeding — that I heard a tremendous buzzing. Like an enormous joy-buzzer was going off in the neighborhood.  I could not discern its source, so I continued busily at my tasks.

After a few minutes of attentive listening while puttering away, the source become evident: our non-fruit-bearing apple tree only 15 feet away was in brilliant full bloom!  Upon it and about it were thousands and thousands of bees doing their business.

Busy Bee at work

Busy Bee at work

It was beautiful.  I moved myself right up to the trunk of the tree, leaning against it,  and enjoyed the sense of life happening all around me.

We’ve heard so much about bees being in great distress.  It was good to see them healthy, buzzing, making honey for their hives and maybe some Pooh Bear somewhere.  Life on earth would be so much poorer without the diligent contributions of the hardworking honey bee.

This year it’s been different.  As I’ve walked about the neighborhood and worked in our yard this past week I have heard no buzzing.

At first I didn’t think much of it. Then I guessed perhaps it was a sort of tone-deafness on account of the incessant ringing I’ve had (at just under 4,700Hz) in my head since the car crash, last May 1.

But no.  I’ve walked right up and into the branches of many full-bloom fruit trees. There are hardly any bees. On each tree I can find at most two, or three. No Buzz. This saddened me.

I’m usually rather skeptical to the insistence of greenies and tree-huggers that we have to do this, and do that, and sacrifice our way of life, in order to save this or that aspect of Mother Earth.

But the plight of the bees is, I believe, real.  Bee populations have been caving. Hive collapses (CCD: Colony Collapse Disorder) are epidemic. They’ve been overcome by parasites, most notable Nosema ceranae. Fungicides have made the problem worse; not necessarily by directly killing the insects, but by weakening their resistance to parasites. And insecticides have indeed had a direct effect; if not killing adult bees, then by killing the larvae who consume nectar from the pollen.

Agriculture in this country would take a horrible beating if we lost our bees, not to mention much natural beauty.

________________

I’m kind of ashamed to admit that as a young boy I would catch bees in jars, like empty Flintstone Jelly or Skippy peanut butter jars. Actually, I’m also kind of ashamed to admit that I ate Skippy.  But what did I know? I recall once proudly showing my mum a jar full of perhaps two dozen honeybees, and a few clover blossoms, in an old  jar. She was not impressed.

Wisconsin lawns were full of sweet, sweet clover.  And the bees loved it. It was almost unfair. Almost. When a wee bee lit on the little pollen laden ball-looking blossoms, I’d lean over, crack the lid of the jar, and slide it over the bee and blossom together … and into the jar they would go.  There may have been some informal contest between some lads in the neighborhood to see who could capture the most bees.  In the end, we’d set them free. We often got a sting or two in the process.

Later, with more than a twinge of guilt, I learned that honey bees die shortly after delivering their sting. So simply are they designed that they make the ultimate sacrifice just to defend their blossom, their payload, or their hive … which is pretty much all the same thing to them.

Catching Fire Flies was more difficult.  No sweet bait to lure them.  But it was more practical, no?  If you could catch a whole jarful you’d have a natural lantern for the rest of the evening.  Try as we might, it never seemed to work out that way.  My sister was better at catching fire flies: more patience. But at least we didn’t get stung. And no fire flies died.

I actually do miss the buzz.  The spring buzz.  Busy bees are buzzy.  And that’s good. But if the ringing in my head ever goes away, I won’t miss that [(it’s not really in my ears, but I “hear” it)].

__________________

Meanwhile, my knee replacement recovery is going well.  Of course, it’s not as quick or as continuously improving as I’d like.  It still swells and gets a bit cranky. The muscles are learning how to work with their new partner.

I had written just before the replacement surgery that my left knee — the one I called “Click” — was going away. [essay here]

Well, I have a surprise lately: new knees “click.”  Especially when climbing stairs, or when tired.  Turns out the muscles have to tighten up a bit after surgery and patients can experiencing clicking — even clunking — for a year, or more. Oh well.

Now I call my left knee “Double Click.”  Or sometimes “Click Two”; (or Click Too).  It’s like a whole new relationship.

_____________________

Today’s breezes portend things to come later this week. Some chilly, wet and breezy weather should bring much needed moisture and … gasp! … perhaps a few inches of snow.  A not uncommon occurrence in Colorado — April snow.  But it usually means bad news for all those white, purple and pink pretty petals.

Good news/bad news about Double Click: I no longer get arthritic pain when storms approach and descend upon us. That’s good, but I had gotten used to the extra warning.

Cheers and wishing you a healthy spring and a fruitful summer!

Joe Girard © 2015

Postscript update, April 13, 2015: The bees are back.  I heard and found them en masse during neighborhood walk today! Yay! Not quite as many as last year, but the apple tree in our front yard was abuzz this afternoon. (see photo below).

 

[1] http://qz.com/107970/scientists-discover-whats-killing-the-bees-and-its-worse-than-you-thought/

[2] http://www.beyondpesticides.org/pollinators/chemicals.php

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/may/23/wildlife.endangeredspecies

 

Bee on Blossom, Girard front yard, 4/13/2015

Bee on Blossom, Girard front yard, 4/13/2015

Random stuff: Apology, this site and general status

1) I do not wish to bother anyone.  If you are not reading my posts (and if you are not forwarding them), please let me know.  I’ll delete you from distribution.

2) My apologies to anyone who tried to read my latest post (Meet Louie’s Woman) or access my site between last Thursday evening 1/29/2015 and late Saturday night, 1/31/2015.

The post was not up to standard.  Typos, poor formatting, difficult to read, and images missing or misplaced. I’ll blame it on being “out of practice” since I spent so much time on my back over the last 6 weeks since the knee replacement surgery.  I guess I need an editor.  I’ll pay ten times what I get for this. <grin>

I did, perhaps, focus on too many details, including (if I say so myself) at least two very clever work choices in the section Louie, part deux.

I still have no idea how bullets and subparagraphs will show up.  Need to study some more, I guess.

Also, my site has been running horribly slow.  Sometimes it takes a minute, or more, to load.  Sometimes it just times out.  Sorry.

I’ll be making a call to GoDaddy soon.  This slowness issue also seems to be a recurring problem with other users of WordPress, which I generally use to manage each post.

And, most disturbingly, some security software I run indicates that I get hundreds of hack attempts daily.  Little old moi.  My site also gets blasted with bursts of hits with no apparent pattern.  Most seem to come from “dangerous” countries — where I believe IP addresses have been “borrowed” — Ukraine, Russia, China.  Heavy traffic can slow a site and I’m not sure what to do about that.

I cannot understand why this site would be a target for anyone. One supposes it’s just that there are so many malicious people in the world with little else to do but cause problems for others.

Anyhow, thanks for your patience.

3) For those wondering. My knee recovery is proceeding well and — if my doctor and therapists are to be believed — ahead of schedule.  I’m a star.  But it’s not fast enough for me. If you know me, that’s not a surprise. I return to one of my favorite prayers.

Dear God, please grant me patience.
… AND
Give it to me right now! Dammit!

It is a lifelong struggle.

I can now walk up to a mile and half while feeling only a bit tired and wobbly toward the end.  It still feels like some sort of experiment from Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory.

[With apologies to Mary Shelley, wife of Percy Shelley, who wrote most of that tale (“Frankenstein; or, the new Prometheus“) during the summer of 1816 — the year without a summer — almost 200 years ago.]

Sometimes when I walk, I feel like Peter Boyle playing the monster in the 1974 Mel Brooks classic movie “Young Frankenstein” with the super heavy boots… before he learned to dance.

Quick: What comes after “Frau Blücher”? And why, or why not, does it follow?

Anyhow, I can cruise at about 1.5 miles per hour.  Which is also a good speed for Nimitz; the faithful old Admiral is getting close to 13.  I no longer use a cane, but I like to keep it handy.  Just in case.

As a positive by-product: I’ve lost about 8 or 9 pounds and at least an inch off my waist.  If I don’t wear a belt, I’m a “sagger.”  No booze and lots of P/T daily seems to be the trick.  Also, lots of water and lean meat.

Thanks for your good wishes and prayers.

4) Traumatic Brain Injury recovery.
I still get 10-20 headaches a day.  Most are light and only a few minutes long.  This is an improvement.  I can focus and “be Joe” almost all of each day.

Recently I’ve noticed that there is some positive response to ibuprofen and naproxen.  This is a very good sign.

Thanks again for your good wishes and prayers.

I appreciate it.

The resting has been great, but it’s been a long time, and I’m itching to get back to work and being part of society again.

Well, I’m a-gettin’ a headache, so time to sign off.

TTFN

Peace

Joe Girard (c) 2015

Day 27

Total Knee Replacement: Day 27

 I had tentatively committed to an update on Dec 31. That’s when I’d expected to transition from in-home physical torture, er, ah, physical therapy, to out-patient physical therapy. Well, that was overly optimistic and I had some setbacks.

A shout out to my dear friend of 52 years, Kevin Shepardson. I’ve written of Kevin a few times before: he is as kind, thoughtful and loyal 52 years later as he was as a lad when I was most in need of an understanding friend.

On New Years Eve day Kevin suffered a severe heart attack; in fact, sudden cardiac arrest. He survived, thanks to the fast thinking and acting of his employees and co-workers. He still lies in hospital, in intensive care, unconscious, with an uncertain future. I am still in shock, as is his family and many other friends. This has provided some distraction during my many sleepless nighttime hours, when the pain and discomfort persistently keeps sleep just out of reach.

This has also provided inspiration for a valid and unselfish New Years Resolution: get re-certified in CPR and First Aid.

Setback 1. A day or so before Christmas my skin started to itch. During the afternoon of Christmas Day, I broke out in an intense rash that covered nearly my entire body. Then it turned to hives. My hands and ears swelled. My legs, arms, shoulders, feet — almost everything — was covered in hot, itchy, bumpy, bright red hives.

We immediately identified this as an allergic reaction, probably to my pain medication (Norco[1]); this despite being 10 days post surgery.

The next day my surgeon prescribed me a new pain med [2]  and a strong antihistamine [3]  similar to, but stronger than, benadryl. That took about six very itchy days to clear up.

Setback 2. Perhaps I’ve been a bit too diligent and aggressive in my home self-directed therapy sessions. I’ve not been shy about causing almost as much screaming and tears as the paid therapists do. (This terrifies our 12-1/2 year old dog, Nimitz).  The weekend after Chirstmas, while working on increasing my flexion, I pushed it too far. So that was followed by a week of big-time swelling and pain.

Progress. After the setbacks, my out-patient PT started on January 7.  Over the past two weeks I’ve made considerable progress; I am pretty much past the “helpless, self-pitying, woe-is-me” phase.  I can now usually walk and negotiate stairs without so much as a cane. My extension and flexion are improving. My quad is slowly waking up and strengthening, although the inside of the quad is still “sleepy.” I think this is the main cause of some knock-knee that I now have.

Some research shows that at 27-days post TKR (Total Knee Replacement), the average patient has lost 62% of his quad strength. I can assure you that I’ve lost more than that. I had worked hard to get in shape for several years pre-surgery; call it pre-hab.

Still, I remain committed to my self-directed daily therapy sessions (I call it “homework” and “work outs”), and my therapists assure me that I am healing well.

Sleep remains difficult, although it’s improving every so slowly and steadily.

More or less, it’s been as promised. Two weeks of hell. Two weeks of inconsistent but steady improvement. Then gradually phase into real life and in six to twelve months I’ll be glad we went ahead with the surgery.

Meanwhile, my headaches continue to slowly, steadily abate.  For those who read my mind map essay [4], they seem to be mostly in the Shirley, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig regions.

My expected “return-to-work” date is now penciled in as February 16.

Until next time, I wish you peace, health and and good friendships in 2015.

Cheers

Joe Girard (c) 2015

 

[1] Norco — http://www.drugs.com/norco.html

[2] Dilaudid — http://www.drugs.com/dilaudid.html

[3] Atarax — http://www.drugs.com/atarax.html

[4] Insane Sanity — Looney Merriment: http://girardmeister.com/2014/11/16/insane-sanity-looney-merriment/

 

Click: By Any Other Name

Click <By Any Other Name>

 

I sensed from a young age that there might be a family genetic propensity to “weak knees.” From his mid-30s my father’s knees would just “go out” on him.  A knee would buckle, he’d fall, and his knee would swell and lock-up for days or weeks. I recall once his sister, my Auntie Ruth, was visiting, and he was showing off his vegetable garden. Boom, down he went.  She had to help him into the house.

That’s not to say he was not athletic.  He was. He’d developed quite a few athletic skills, and one very special skill, much to my benefit.  It wasn’t until years later, when I was well into fatherhood, that I appreciated and realized how skilled he was.  Namely: consistently hitting a baseball with self-toss to high pop-ups a distance of 40 to 60 feet (to fit within our small lot) is very difficult.  Thanks to his skill and perseverance with me, I became a very serviceable outfielder for decades.

He always took an active role, either coaching or assistant coaching, in all his kids’ sports teams.  Especially baseball and softball.  I recall one episode clearly.  I was about 11 or 12 years old. Dad was hitting short fly balls (we’d graduated to distances of perhaps 120 feet) to kids on my baseball team and me.  There were three of us taking turns, and we were kind of being goofy, saying stuff like “One, two, three … Monkeys in the cocoanut tree.”  That goofiness ended suddenly.  A return throw to my dad was a bit wide … he lunged to reach it … and was down on the ground, unable to get up.  His knee had buckled and locked up.

He was not yet 40.  We three carried him to the car.  That was the end of practice. Somehow, he drove me home. He nursed that knee along for decades.  Finally, at age 75, he had it completely replaced.

 ______________________________

Nicknames.  I think the best ones have little to nothing to do with one’s formal name (like “Joe” for “Joseph”) but reflect something of a person’s appearance or nature.  The only nickname I know of for my dad was “Duck”, a name he went by as a young adult; it was a dual reference to his name (via “Donald Duck”) and his dapper appearance when young; apparently he sported a DA (“duck’s ass”) for a while.

Nicknames usually fade away, either during a person’s life, or shortly after.

My dad’s mom was nicknamed “Dolly.”  She went by that name her whole life, except for when we called her “gramma.” Only a few cousins and I remember that.  She passed away in 1973, and, when we cousins are gone, I suspect all references to her will revert back to the formal name found on legal documents and in census reports: Cora.

I have a friend who had a college buddy decades ago whose name he can only recall as “Ferret Face.”

James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok

James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok

Evidently he had the appearance of having  been delivered from his mother’s birth canal by having the wide-end of a funnel applied to his face and high powered vacuum hose attached to the other end.  He went by that name through college, and – in my friend’s recollections – still goes by that name today.

Some nicknames are eternal, since they’ve been attached to very memorable or historical figures.

 “Wild Bill” Hickok (James Butler Hickok) was so named for his huge nose – a bill, if you will. He died young, only 39, shot in the back while playing poker in, of all places, Deadwood, Dakota Territory.

“Billy the Kid” (William Bonney) was so named because he was young and looked younger.  Bonney, in trying to look more mature, had grown a straggly wispy beard that dangled from his chin, giving the appearance of a billy goat. Another story is that a bartender with a death wish insulted him when he asked for a drink by saying the boyish-appearing Bonney looked like a scared little billy goat. Young goats are called “kids.” The Kid died at 21 or 22 (many details of the Kid legend are ‘wispy’ too). The only extant photograph of him lends credence to the latter story.

This shows that a truly great nickname outlives the real name.  A wonderful example is a nickname that has survived and supplanted the real name for millenia: that of the Greek philosopher Plato.  His real name was Aristocles. Plato means “wide” and was probably a nickname given to him by his wresting coach (oh, those ancient Greeks and their wresting) as he evidently had a rather stout figure, even as a youth.

The Billy Goat

The Billy Goat

Nickname fates still to be determined are the nicknames of those recently departed. For example, the “Tappet Brothers.”  If you’ve listened to Public Radio on weekends, you’ve probably heard “Car Talk”, hosted by brothers Tom & Ray Magliozzi. Of course, they never went by those names.  To listeners, their on-air names were the names they signed off with:

  • “We’re Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers.”
  • Ray: “Whatever you do, don’t drive like my brother.”
  • Tom: “And don’t drive like MY brother.” (or some variation).

Their show was a learning experience about more than just cars.  It was about how to engage people, have fun and not take life so serious.  You’d never know they were both MIT-educated.  Their show was literally “a hoot.” Fun and educational.

So which was “Click” and which was “Clack”? I don’t think they ever divulged that fact.

Billy the Kid (William Bonney)

Billy the Kid (William Bonney)

To me, the oldest – that’s Tom – comes first.  He’s Click.

Tom, the elder Magliozzi, passed away last month, age 77, from complications of Alzheimers.

Sounds like a horrible way to go … at least for his family, and that includes poor Ray (Clack). Tom lived a full life, made more so by his zest for life and his ability to give a laugh, some wisdom and weekend enrichment to others.

 

Tom and Ray shared genes as evidenced by their similar outlooks and senses of humor. One of my brothers and I share the “weak knee” gene from our father.  We’ve both struggled since young adulthood with fragile knees.  He had both replaced (at age only 48) last Christmas.

As for me, many years ago I nicknamed my knees “Click and Clack”, probably thinking of those guys on “Car Talk.”  Click, on the left has had five surgeries, including a full ACL replacement and micro-fracture (yuck); Clack has had only one.  Since the 1990s my orthopaedists have been telling me that “Click’s days are numbered.  If you live a full life, then Click won’t.”

It’s appropriate then that today I say goodbye to Click.  He will join the fate of Click the Tappet brother.

Tom & Ray Magliozzi (Click & clack, the Tappet brothers)

Tom & Ray Magliozzi (Click & clack, the Tappet brothers)

By tonight I will have a new metallic left knee.

Here’s to you Click. Thanks for all the memories!

Wishing you all Peace and happy holidays!

Joe Girard © 2014

Click: RIP