When you are reading here whether you found me intentionally or accidently, please take time to leave a comment and let me know where you are and what you are thinking. I love feed back. Vondi

Monday, March 29, 2010

my computer was unplugged

This morning I’m thinking about how difficult life must be for the handicapped. I am somewhat handicapped because my knees simply don’t work. I talk about them all the time because they so limit my world. I often wonder exactly what is wrong with them. I’ve never been able to afford an x-ray or CAT-scan or MRI or any of those diagnostic things.

I hurt each of them in falls. The left one I hurt when I stepped off the wrong side of a step stool while painting our 10 foot kitchen ceiling. The doctor said I ‘hyper-extended’ it. Translation: I bent it backwards. He wanted x-rays but that wasn’t something I could in anyway afford at the time. So his second option was to tell me to stay off of it for a couple weeks. Well, yeah. That was gonna happen. I had two kids and a huge old house. We slept upstairs and did laundry in the basement. I did use a cane or crutches as much as possible, but you have trouble fixing a meal on crutches so I compromised and hobbled around holding on to the counters. As soon as it stopped hurting except for ‘just a little’ I abandoned the crutches and cane completely and just walked anyway. It hurt but not more than I could live with.

The second knee I did a few weeks later. I was going out the back door with a pan full of cat food in my hand. If you’ve ever fed cats, you know how anxious they are when there is the remotest possibility that you might give the food to someone else! They were all twisting around my feet and in an attempt to avoid stepping on a cat, I danced right off the side of the back stoop. It wasn’t very high, maybe six inches, but the leg I stepped off on was my bad one, so I did a little jig and landed on my right leg, consequently doing exactly the same thing to my right knee. I’m not sure I even went to the doctor for the second one. It was a long time ago.

I believe I tore the tendons in both knees. At any rate, my knees pretty much bend whichever way they want. It is a weird sensation to have a two year old grab you around the legs and feel a knee bend backwards or to have a big dog squeeze between your crutch and your leg and feel one bend sideways. It doesn’t even hurt exactly, just a clicking or snapping feeling. I always worry it won’t go back where it belongs, but so far, thank the Lord, it always has.

The situation has been further complicated because I’ve not been able to hike and walk and do the things I did before I hurt my knees. The lack of exercise has prompted a weight gain which has contributed to arthritis in my knees and, I’m sure, an extensive erosion of the cartilage.

I don’t know what the x-rays must have looked like when the Social Security office required that I be examined by their doctors for my Disability application. It must have been shocking because my application was approved the very first time. That is unheard of in the annals of Social Security bureaucracy.

So, I’m ‘disabled,’ but not to the extent that many are. This morning it came home to me what their lives must be like.

I’m forced to keep my knees and feet elevated most of the time with pillows supporting my knees and lower legs. Propping my feet on a foot stool or hassock for any length of time doesn’t work because it allows my knees to flex backwards. After a while that becomes extremely painful and I have trouble bending or straightening my legs. Standing is difficult and yeah, that hurts, too. Walking is nearly impossible until I have allowed my knees to adjust to just plain standing. Sitting with them bent in a normal position results in the same kind of problem but with added swelling in my knees and subsequent circulation difficulty in my feet.

Anyway. I finished my trekking around with the dogs and my breakfast and my clean up and so forth this morning and finally I sat down in ‘my’ recliner. (It’s not really my recliner, but Notah’s family didn’t have a recliner until I came to visit. Then he made it a point to get one. While I’m here it’s ‘mine’ because it is the only place I can sit comfortably. ) I got myself set down and settled with my pillows in place and my laptop propped up in front of me. When I reached for the cord I discovered it was unplugged! How much trouble is that for you? You twist around and plug it in, or if you can’t reach you jump up, turn around duck down, stretch back and stick it in the wall. It takes what? Two minutes, maybe?

For me it was a major undertaking. First I had to maneuver my recliner to the upright position. The handle doesn’t work to lower the foot rest. It is designed to just go down with lower leg pressure. Well, I can’t apply lower leg pressure. My knees have no strength in them to press my calves onto the foot rest. So I have to lean forward and pull with my hands on the armrests until I can shift my body weight forward enough to counterbalance the foot rest, which then goes down. I remove the two pillows I use to support my knees and put them to the side. I reach for my crutches, always propped within arm’s reach. My knees won’t just ‘stand me up’ like a normal person’s do. Standing up is again a process of counterbalancing my weight over my knees. I can’t describe how I do it—just a way I’ve developed to continue leading a semi normal life. It isn’t graceful, I guarantee.

Once I’m standing I use the crutches to maneuver the couple of steps around the arm of the chair and back in the space between the chair the window and the wall. Then I put the crutches behind me against the window frame and hold to the chair and the wall while I stretch back, keeping my knees straight, barely able to reach the plug. A normal person would stoop down and lean back and plug it in.

Getting up and turned around again is another studied procedure. I used my hands and arms to ‘walk’ along the chair arm until I am upright. Again I reach for my crutches and duck-walk with them in the little semi-circle until I’m again in front of my chair. Sitting down is easy. Leaning back in the chair is easy. Situating the pillows under my knees and lower legs is a bit of a hassle, but once it is done my knees stop hurting.

I lean back, put the blanket over them (if there is any draft across them, they ache) and pick up my computer. I prop it on a long tubular foam pillow and plug the power cord to it. I’m ready to go. A two minute process takes me at least eight or ten.

Wild isn’t it. But I didn’t write this to make anyone feel sorry for me. I do just fine. My kids love me and help me constantly. My daughter-in-law loves me enough to come 1800 miles to get me in the spring and my daughter loves me enough to come and get me on her vacation in the summer or fall. I’m good. BUT, the next time you see someone on crutches or in a wheel chair remember this little discourse. Think how the simple process of plugging in a computer takes me longer than it has probably taken for you to read this. Think how involved such a simple action is for me and imagine how vastly more difficult it must be for someone who doesn’t have a loving family to support them and is even more handicapped than I am.

I'm blessed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

birthday dinner!

It’s a beautiful sunny morning here today. I slept so well last night that I’m still ready to sleep some more! I had a big day yesterday. It was my birthday and I was surprised to get a ton of birthday wishes from FaceBook and Care2. I can honestly say that was the most Happy Birthdays I've ever had.

For my birthday and Notah and Kerra took me to dinner! Before Kerra left in the morning she said to be thinking of where I wanted to have my birthday treat. I had some good choices. My first one was Sopa's, a local mexican restaurant, but do you know how high in carbs a Mexican mean is!!! Instead I chose a Chinese buffet. It wasn’t pinyon roasted ribs, but it was good. They had a big variety of dishes offered. And I had a bit of everything it seemed. Not really but I went to the cold serves first and had some peel and eat shrimp and some fantastic crab salad.
On the other side of the service table I found-are you ready for this—baby octopus! They were grilled and presented on a platter! Mercy. Keva had assured me over and over that they were good. Hmmm. I already had a plate full of salad and shrimp and some puffy things that I thought were mashed potato-like things and a little pastry shell full of cream cheese. So I bravely put one single baby octopus on top of the crab salad.

Seth carried that plate to the table for me and I went ahead to get some orange pork and chicken with broccoli. They also had a vegetable dish with bok choy, celery, and peanuts in it and an offering of fried zucchini squash cubes.

The regular Chinese dishes were great. I think I tasted everything before I got to that little bitty octopus. I didn’t want to wait till last to taste it just in case it was so horrible that I needed some other good things to drive the taste-memory away. But it took a bit to get up my nerve.
Keva said to just eat the whole thing, but it looked like a pretty big mouthful to me. I ended up cutting off four legs and eating them. And, surprise for me, they were good! Seth was sitting across from me begging for the head which was just as well, because I just don’t think I could have brought myself to eat that ‘head.’ The legs I did like. They had the texture and tasted like the bit of cartilage on end on a chicken breast. Probably the ‘head’ would have tasted the same.
It was definitely a psychological issue with me that I didn't want to eat it and if I ever have baby octopus presented to me again, I’m going to pull up my big girl pants and try it! As it was, Seth only wanted to examine the ‘head’ not to eat it. But it gave me a good opportunity to be 'generous' and avoid eating something that I really couldn't quite make myself put in my mouth.

“Baby” octopus are not really babies I found out today. I suspected it last night but online I just discovered they are actually a very small adult species. And they are cute. I kind of felt guilty eating them. I wanted to take them home to Rachael’s fish tank and keep them. Well, except for the fact that they were dead. And fried…
There are several species of octopus that are edible and they are enjoyed in a number of different dishes from Greece to Korea and Japan. In looking at the website I found four listed as most commonly used for gastronomic purposes. From the website I think we were eating Madako or the 'true octopus.' There are pages and pages of recipes on the internet for preparing them. Although this one was good and only the head was a little off-putting for me, I would probably have them again if I find them in an oriental restaurant. As far as preparing them at home... I don't think so.
And oh yeah, before I go. Those little puffy things I thought were like mashed potatoes--they weren't. They were actually like a macaroon made with coconut and something else. I left it there on my plate. Nasty! The pastry shell filled with cream cheese? That fooled me too. It was really a pastry shell full of vanilla/banana flavored whipped pudding. Mmmm. Carbs to die for! I ate it anyway. that was the only high carb thing I had.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

( This photo is not mine, but it is a good representation of the eastern horizon during a morning dust storm. Is that gorgeous or what! Notice the blurred landscape. That's dust-not poor photography.)

It’s morning in the desert. But it is one of those neat, eerie mornings when the sky is covered with clouds and the view to the horizon is dusty. You can still the see the mountains, but it is hazy. In Ohio it would be moisture. Here it is dust.

We have fallen into a routine now. Notah left for work at six this morning. About two minutes later Kerra woke the kids up and I went to the bathroom to wash up and brush my teeth before the kids needed to be in there. Tomorrow I’ll be a little speedier so that I get in there well before Seth and Keva need it. Gable was worried to death this morning that Kerra would let the other dogs out and he would still be in the bathroom with me. I don’t know what he thought was going to happen out there. Robbers, murderers, arsonists…maybe even they could find a hidden treasure—he has an amazing imagination.

I was worried about bringing him this year. I know he would probably bet sick if I left him in Ohio. He is really attached to me. But Notah has their new dog, Thain. He is the German Shepherd pup they got last year at the very end of April. I think he will be a year old just about on my birthday. Anyway he has grown up into a big dog. He is bigger than either of his parents and is going to be gorgeous when he grows into his bones.

I was worried that he would hurt Gable because his is big and he likes to play. He is still enough of a pup that Gable’s fierce teeth can intimidate him so I was not so concerned that he would attack him but more that he would put one of those big paws in the middle of Gabe’s already-not-too-healthy back.

When we got here we introduced the dogs to Gabe. The meeting with Thain was rocky so we put him out and brought in Sadie. Sadie is a born mama. She was happy to see Gabe again and ignored his grumbling. Soon they were being all friendly and things were good.

Then we brought in Huckleberry. He’s the old Dalmatian that Notah has had every since his college days. Huck just kind of ignored Gable. When Thain came back in everything was hunky dory, if Mama Sadie and Old Man Huck said Gabe was OK then Thain was fine with that.

THEN a couple days later there was a big dust up. Huck is old and partially blind and partially deaf. He only hears part of sounds and sees shadows in his peripheral vision. Gabe startled him and he grabbed him across the shoulders. Sadie came running to the rescue—not Gabe’s but Huck’s. Poor Gabe got rolled around in the dirt and slobbered over. Kerra was by the sink under the open window when the ruckus started and she burnt rubber getting outside to break it up.

Poor Gabe. Now he is really paranoid and growls whenever the other dogs come close to his bed. He has two ‘safe’ places—his bed and my lap. He thinks that no one can bother him or hurt him when he is there. And of course, he’s right. I don’t let any of the other dogs infringe on his personal space; but he is not allowed to be crabby either.

Last night I was helping him up on my lap and he cride when I supporte his neck the way I always have. Evidently he is still sore from his tumbling, even though there was no blood involved. Sadie and Huck both used their teach-the-pup-a-lesson-bites and didn’t intend to really hurt him.

Now the sun just rose above the clouds on the horizon. It is still clouds and overcast but the eastern horizon is less gray and the sun is well above the haze. Now it is laying strips of bight sunlight across the landscape. The cream colored house across the way is glowing against the still gray dark clouds on the western horizon. And the branches of tree beside it look like golden spray against that dark sky. The breeze that was stirring up the dust in front of the western hills finally made it to the top of our hill. It is blowing fresh cold in our window. I’m wrapped in a blanket, but I won’t close that window until I freeze! There is nothing to compare with New Mexico skies!

I thank the Lord daily that I’ve gotten back to the desert one more time. It is a separate blessing each time. I love Ohio and my home with Rachael and Michael, they are so good to me, but the desert holds my heart.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The sun rose over the Manzanos this morning. Of course, it does that every morning, but today I was there to see it. This is my second day home in New Mexico, but yesterday I was too tired to get up and enjoy it.

Our trip from Ohio was great. We made it in only three days which can be directly attributed to Doctor Nickolson’ fantastic pain pills. They helped with the pain in my knees during the day and relaxed them at night so I could sleep well. The only problem was that although I didn’t really feel the pain, I could tell by my tired, shaky feeling that it was definitely there. I’m not used to a lot of medication except my BP capsules so the tweaked-up vicodin really hit my system. But it did help to shorten our trip.

Traveling in March is unbelievable. I had never taken the trip to NM any time of year except summer because we always made the trek when school was out. The kids and I wanted to spend time with Grandma Howe and we had to plan for two or three weeks altogether for our vacation. Public school officials frown on taking that much time out of the school year. So we were always on the road when every other family in America was going on their vacations, too.
But March! Wow, almost no one but professional drivers are on the interstates. Traffic is light except when going through a large town and even then, if you plan to miss rush hour, the traffic isn’t bad. And motels are open any time you pull in. In summer, sometimes if you don’t stop early—about three or four—you run the risk of not having a choice of decent places to stay. In March, it doesn’t really matter what time you choose to stop there are rooms available.
If it were not for my need for a chair and an ottoman or a recliner there would have been no difficulty on either of our trips west. Even as it was, we got a room on Monday after only two stops. There was a convention in town in Rolla, Missouri and it took a couple stops to find a place that worked. As it was there was a handicapped room with a walk-in shower and a single king-sized bed. But, it had a comfy chair with an ottoman that I could use and they very considerately gave Seth a roller cot.

On our second day it was Seth’s stated desire to make it to Elk City, Oklahoma. Last year we had found a great motel there which had a neat game room, pool and exercise room with a dining room attached. He loved it and kept campaigning to stop there on Tuesday. And we made it! Thanks to Kerra’s ‘creative’ driving… ‘nuff said about that.

In Elk City, Kerra and the kids were able to play in the game room and come back, change their clothes and go to the pool. Well, the kids changed. Kerra took her book or something and just watched them. I was able to sit in the recliner, watch tv and nap while my knees stretched out and my muscles trembled from the vicodin. Monday night I had gone to eat with them at the Sirloin Stockade. Tuesday night I was too tired and shaky to do that. They went to eat and brought me back pork fu yung. I DID go to breakfast with them in the motel dining room on Wednesday morning, though. Last year with no pain meds, I’d not been able to walk well enough to do that at all. Kerra and the kids had had to bring me every meal.

Wednesday was a long day but at the end we arrived in Belen! Wednesday was also my wild carb day. I had the motel’s complimentary breakfast of two eggs, sausage, hash browns and toast~ Oh yes, potatoes and toast in ONE meal. Then for lunch we did Lotaburger! No fries, but a lotaburger! I love lotaburgers! A lotaburger, for the sadly uninformed, is a giant bun with a giant burger on it. The condiments are nothing out of the ordinary no “special sauce” etc.-just the regular catsup, mustard, pickles, onions and tomato, but they must wave a magic wand over the grill while they are cooking those hamburgers. I look forward to them every year when it is time to go back to New Mexico. Then we had a DQ blizzard snack in the afternoon. I guess it was lucky my glucosometer was lost in my bags until last night when I started unpacking. I would probably have broken it.

Yesterday wasn’t bad. Kerra had a beautiful low carb meal last night and I stayed on my low carb regimen, but two days later my blood glucose level is still recov ering. This morning was nasty. I want to forget it.

So I started my day today with the sun over the Manzanos, a cup of coffee and a Clementine for breakfast. I’ll have to be careful to eat at ten or ten thirty and get back on schedule to bring this glucose back under control.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

thursday morning nine thirty

Thursday morning, nine thirty. I'm sitting here listening to brother Harlan Sorrel singing( http://www.churchofgodeveninglight.com/songs.htm ) and waiting for Rachael to get up so we can do my shopping and begin getting the final packing finished up. I think I have everything ready to go in the bags. Moving for six months takes a lot of gathering and planning, but as somebody told me it isn't as though they don't have stores in NM. And I guess that is true.
I'm so tired that I slept through Michael's breakfast this morning. I can't believe it! I never do that! He stuck his head in my door to see if I was alright when he was ready to leave for work. When I opened my eyes and saw him standing there I was shocked. I said, "Oh Michael, I'm so sorry!"
He just grinned and said "That's okay. I'm a big boy! Besides I 'made' Rachael get up and help me." He had his strudel and coffee in one hand and was all ready to head on out. I felt bad. He had his strudel, but no lunch. LOL He has already been bemoaning his state because I'll not be here this summer to get his breakfast and fix a lunch for him, because, as he says, "my wife won't do it." But he's just looking for sympathy. He revels in it! LOL Maybe this will help him start getting used to it.
I'm tired and I really haven't done anything. Most of my "packing" has consisted of making lists and planning what I need to buy before I go so I will have it on the trip and as soon as we get there. Then anything else I can buy when I get settled. WalMarts grow even in the desert.
I found this neat camp chair. If Notah hasn't already planned for a chair that I can sit in on the deck I'm going to send for it. I am very careful about what I sit on. Modern chairs aren't built to hold big people! Yes, I've lost forty odd pounds but I still am careful about putting my bottom on a flimsy chair. If it would start to collapse with me I could never save myself with these knees. Anyway, Woman Within had an insert in this most recent catalogue that offers a camp chair that holds 500 pounds! I don't weigh nearly that much so I feel confident it will hold me. they have another one that is supposed to hold 800 pounds. That is kind of overkill, but it had wider arms and a higher back. I may go with that one. That way there is room for a kid or dog on my lap and beside me. Check them out

The left one is for skinnies of 500 lbs.
The left one is for people 800 pounds!
I like this one better because it has a high back and a thermal pouch on the arm...
not quite sure what I'd use that for but it sounds handy. LOL

Okay, Rach! It's ten o'clock! Rise and shine!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

almost time

Kerra and Seth and Keva left Albuquerque this morning at 700 EST. Kerra called me a little bit ago and said that they were in Ohio. Her dad had picked them up at the airport and they were on their way to Canton.

I'm so anxious! Can't wait to be in the desert!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

songs of zion

I’ve been listening to the Monarch Springs Congregation’s wonderful Church of God singing. I thank the Lord for the day brother Steve posted their link. I’ve listened to it repeatedly ever since. Their website strikes number must have been climbing because I’m there nearly everyday and sometimes several times a day.

This is the link http://www.churchofgodeveninglight.com/songs.htm I’m playing it right now so I don’t know if this link will take you directly into music or you will have to pick from the menu. I’m listening to the Monarch Springs Campmeeting—2006 if you want to listen where I am right now. I love the congregational singing. It blesses my heart over and over. The special singing is good too, but I’m telling you my favorite.
Here is the song that took me there I Will Praise Him, Hallelujah!

Oh, I praise the Lord who bought me, hallelujah!
I’m a happy pilgrim bound for glory land;
I am singing, and I hope to sing forever,
When before His throne eternal I shall stand.

I will praise Him, hallelujah!
I will praise Him more and more:
If I had ten thousand lives in which to praise Him
I could not enough my blessed Lord adore.
I will praise Him for salvation, hallelujah!
Richest treasure human spirits ever found;
Once I wandered far away, was sad and lonely,
But I’m dwelling now where pleasures e’er abound.
Oh, I’ll never cease to praise Him, hallelujah!
For He gives me peace abounding every day;
He redeemed me from my sins and fully cleansed me,
And I find His service sweeter all the way.
I will praise the name of Jesus, hallelujah!
I will praise Him for His mercies unto me;
Then I’ll praise Him with the angels in the morning,
When the face of my dear Savior I shall see.
Oh, I praise Him for the strength He daily gives me,
I am running now to gain that heav’nly prize;
Soon with joy I’ll reach the goal of life immortal,
And go sweeping through the gates of paradise.

Sometimes these old hymns carry such a fantastic meaning but they have largely been tossed out of modern worship. Modern religions tend to follow the 7/11 trend—seven words repeated eleven times—in their music programs. This is a familiar psychological technique for developing enthusiasm where none was before. It is used with tremendous success by cheerleaders in high school ball games to build team support and encourage the players.

The child of God needs no cheerleader to build his enthusiasm. The blessings of God springing up with in his soul make the praise bubble out. It is always there, just below the surface of everyday cares and labor, to carry us through the times when our body is tired and discouraged. And when we step aside from the everyday routine to sit quietly in the Lord’s presence they just bubble up and effervesce, flow out, gush out. And sitting down with the people of God produces rejoicing and praise that no worship leader can produce no mater how much cheer leading he does. Thank you Lord.

Friday, March 5, 2010

closer and closer

The time for going back to the Desert is coming closer and closer. I am so looking forward to it. Every year I get to go back is a gift from God. With my knees in th eshape they are in I really believed at one time that I would never see the desert again. And yet here I go for the second time
I had my departure dates mixed up. I thought I was leaving on March 19th, turns out it is March 15th! Now I'm all in a tizzy.
I've started making lists of things Not to Forget and Things to Do and Shopping Lists. Of course, it isn't like they don't have Wal-Marts and shopping malls in Albuquerque, but I'll be there longer this year. I need to be sure I have my prescription meds on hand because this year it will be a hassle to get them renewed halfway through the summer. And I have to have everything together to take Gabriel with me! So that is even more organization needed.
I can hardly wait. I'm anxious to see how my grandkids have grown of course and also how my 'grand-pup" has grown. When I left Thain was a fuzzy puppy. Now he is a big dog! Bigger than Sadie! And Sadie is not a little dog.
Well, I really can't write coherently so I guess I'll stop here.
Here's a map of my prospective travels, just in case your geography is foggy.