Archive for Medical Adventures

A Story: An Awful Day That Ends Well

Some stories you just can’t make up! Yesterday felt like one of them.

I spent yesterday (Monday) afternoon sitting at my desk doing computer work. I stood up to file some papers and wham. I was hit with excruciating, piercing, disabilitating pain shooting through my right knee. I fell back into my chair and almost passed out. I couldn’t believe what just happened. I tried getting up again but couldn’t tolerate the pain. I felt nauseous and faint. I could only sit with my head down trying to hold myself together. I could not straighten my knee or put any weight on it. The last weeks and months flashed through my mind. This can’t be happening. Why? Why? Why? Am I going to have to go through another spell of therapy and rehabilitation? Can I not even stand up without getting hurt?

Summer tried to help me to no avail. I finally called Gene and asked him to bring me my crutches which were stashed in the bedroom waiting to be returned to the person I had borrowed them from. I thought I could use them to get myself to the golf cart to go up to the house. That did not work. For one thing, I could not bear standing or straightening my leg and it also meant I had to use my left leg to bear my weight and that is the one with the broken ankle that is almost healed. I could not get my brain to tell my legs how to make that happen.

Gene ended up going over to our church and getting a wheelchair to get me in the car to go the house. That was quite the ordeal-it took two of them. I then decided I wasn’t even going to try to get out of the car but go straight to Ortho Emergency. I first tried calling Dr. Kerr, my Ortho knee doctor, to see what I should do and if by chance he could see me this afternoon. I got their answering service so I left a message. On the way to Ortho Emergency, Dr. Kerr’s office called. He was not in the office that day but they scheduled me an appointment for the next day (Tuesday) at 9:45.

At the Ortho Emergency Gene went in and they brought out a wheelchair to get me. As they started processing me, they discovered from my chart that I had an appointment with Dr. Kerr in the morning. I had to make a choice, I could see them and cancel my appointment with Dr. Kerr that I had made 15 minutes prior and be charged a $50 cancellation fee or wait and go to him the next morning. I couldn’t do both. I had figured they would treat me and send me to him and I would just already have the appointment. So much for thinking! We decided to go home. Gene’s concern was how he was going to handle me.

When we got home I decided to try my crutches again and see if by chance I could get into the house. I opened the car door and put my feet out. There was no pain. I stood up. There was no pain. I walked to the house totally unaided and with no support. There was no pain. It was as if it all was a bad dream and had never happened. I could not believe it. What in the world was going on?

We both plopped into our chairs and tried to figure out what had just happened. Finally, Gene came up with the idea that maybe I had scar tissue in my knee that tore loose. That made a lot of sense to me. I have heard that is really painful when it happens. Because of all the trauma to my knees with my fall on the wet grass in March that tore my ham string and calf muscle on my left leg, and then the fall down the two steps in May that broke my ankle, my knees, shoulders and back have suffered. I have been a little concerned about the tight band that developed over my kneecaps. I stood up again to make sure and walked around the living room. My right knee is totally fine. The tight band in my right knee is gone and it feels looser and freer.

I went ahead and kept my schedule with Dr. Kerr this morning since I had the appointment scheduled and thinking it was probably a good idea to have a chat with him about all that I have been through. He affirmed that decision. They did x-rays and the knees look fine. He thinks it was my back that reacted and it reflected in my knees. I am not sure I agree with him, but I have been having some back pain with all I have been through. He felt the symptoms were classic and to just be aware of my back and if I develop more pain to come back to see him. It is hard to diagnose something like this when you don’t see it while it is happening.

For now, I am good to go! All is well. That’s my story and I am sticking to it! I am so grateful I did not injure my knee and have to tell you about another ordeal I have to go through. That would be horribly embarrassing, and I am not sure I could face therapy with another story! I am so grateful to God for His mercy and protecting hand.

A story about my ankle ordeal: “When Life Throws A Curve Ball”.

When Life Throws A Curve Ball

Sometime life reminds me of the games we used to play. Remember in “Monopoly” how we tried to buy and improve our status in life and not go to jail! We even borrowed money from the bank!!! In “Candy Land” we rolled the dice to move forward and then, oops, we’d slide backward. In “Uncle Wiggly” we moaned when we had to go back to the start. “Rook” betted on a successful partner and being dealt a good hand or having the skill to make a bad hand good. In “Sorry” you joyfully moved forward by pretending you were so sorry to send the other players back to home base. In all games your goal is to win, come out the champ, even at the expense of others! How we win depends on a strange mixture of skill and luck.

In baseball, a pitcher throws a curve ball in the middle of a series of good pitches to throw the batter off balance. It is slower than a fast pitch and curves downward before reaching home plate making the batter swing too early or over the top of the curveball. It usually does not end well for the batter. Life is full of curve balls. Sometimes they come out of nowhere catching us off guard and sometimes we see it happening and try to stop the ploy. Sometimes it is easy to go with the swing and other times it sends us sprawling.

Our Curve Balls

Gene Got Covid:

This has been a difficult spring for us. It started mid-January with Gene getting covid. It didn’t go well for him and he ended up with pneumonia in the hospital. He is still dealing with some long-term covid issues but is steadily improving.

Pat’s First Fall:

In mid-March on a rainy Saturday morning, I stepped out of the house with my umbrella to walk to our store to work. I usually ride the golf cart but it was raining to hard and I thought I’d stay drier walking with an umbrella. I slipped on the wet grass and after a few very undignified acrobatic maneuvers stumbled over my umbrella which had ended upside down in front of me. My left foot flew forward, hyper-extending my leg and tearing my ham string and calf muscle. It was an extremely painful fall and I had to have help getting up and back into the house. That fall resulted in a trip to the Ortho Emergency Center, a full leg brace, two huge black bruises and weeks of therapy.

On May 12 (Thursday), I completed my physical therapy with a certificate from my therapist. I had spent most of the winter in therapy due to issues with my arthritic feet. Their last words to me as I went out the door was “We love seeing you, but be careful and don’t come back”! I happily walked out the door, never to return.

Mother’s Day

Three days later on Sunday, May 15, (Mother’s Day) my husband planned a surprise for me. We went to Charlottesville after church and ate lunch with our daughter Jill and family at the Michie Tavern on the road leading up the mountain to Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. It was a cold, fun day filled with a delicious buffet lunch and family time. I felt loved and blessed.

Michie Tavern

Pat’s Second Fall:

Arriving home I had a few things to carry into the house; a grocery bag full of puzzles, a stack of empty egg cartons and two small packages that were in our mailbox. Nothing heavy, just an arm full of stuff! I proceeded to take them straight to the laundry which is down two steps from the kitchen so that they would be ready to take to the store in the morning.

Life threw a wild curve ball and I did not see it coming. I am not sure exactly what happened but I fell down those steps with my legs straight out in front of me. Gene heard the commotion and said, “Did you fall?” What was I too say? I am laying there on the floor moaning!

The pain was excruciating and my ankle immediately swelled. I could not stand for him to touch the skin on my foot. He finally was able to get me up to sit on the bottom step. I instantly felt sick on my stomach and passed out. I awoke to him saying, “Are you awake”?

It was quite the ordeal to get me to my lazy boy in the living room. He thought my ankle was badly sprained because of the way it swelled so fast but I wasn’t so sure. The ortho practice that we go to has an emergency center twelve miles down the road. We really wanted to go there instead of the ER at the hospital. They are so much more efficient and they have access to my history and ortho doctor. After checking the hours on the internet we discovered they had already closed for the evening so we decided to wait until morning and I hopped with a broom handle to bed.

Long story short, I broke my ankle and needed to have two screws surgically implanted. The pictures below are the before and after surgery.

Break is to the right of the plus sign on the left
Look at those two long bad boy screws!

I have six weeks of non-weight bearing and four additional weeks of a walking boot. To my great embarrassment I had to contact my physical therapist and let him know I would be coming back to see him.

My real cast after my post -op surgery visit.

Fall Risk:

I was laying on the bed being prepped for ankle surgery and the nurse asked, “Have you fallen any other time in the last six month?” After my answer, she quickly left the room and came back with a bright yellow arm band that said, “Fall Risk”! Fall risk-now I am labeled and banded along with being handicapped! I wonder if it will help to wear it all the time?

The Restrictions:

I am to prop up my leg as much as possible and no weight bearing for six weeks. That means the injured foot is not to touch the ground. That has taken some figuring out. I can not use the leg buggy as I had a double knee replacement three years ago and I can not bear to kneel or put weight on my knees.

The Consequences:

How was I going to deal with such a handicap during our busy season in the store, a newly planted garden, a yard to mow, a house to care for and all the other things I do???? After some trial and error, I finally got it figured out. I use a combination of walker and crutches in the house but when I go to our store or away from the house I use the wheelchair. I have two wheelchairs; one I keep in the trunk of my car and the other in the store.

Gene built me a ramp into the side of the store. I can drive the golf cart up the ramp and into the feed room where I have a wheelchair parked and waiting. I do not have to navigate steps inside the store which would be impossible for me. A few other adjustments had to be made but it is a very workable situation and I can do it by myself.

Those who have experienced this can identify. When you can’t put weight on one foot, you can’t carry things or do steps. The walker and crutches is extremely tiring and makes my arm muscles ache.

Caring Family and Friends:

I have been blessed with caring family and friends who have come to my aide. I suddenly have felt very needy. There are so many things that I need help with or that need to be done. Our church family and friends have brought food. Our daughter Jill came for several days and worked on the flower beds and garden. My brother Rich Heatwole came twice for several days and so did friends Dwight and Linda Burkholder. They helped to make deliveries, fix a concrete dock, replaced broken stair trend in the house from where I fell, fixed meals, went grocery shopping, replaced my bird feeder, and numerous other projects. Gene had a to-do-list and every single thing on it got done!

Jill hoeing the garden
Dwight replacing stair tread that broke when I fell.
Rich and Dwight fixing a dock at the store that needed repairs.
Dwight replacing a broken bird feeder post
Fixing supper

Memorial Day:

Over Memorial Day week, Obe and Jill and most of the grandkids came and pulled weeds in the garden, flower beds, trimmed the roses, weeded the blackberries, weeded, picked and mulched the asparagus, mulched and pruned the tomatoes, picked strawberries, mowed the lawn, got the patio furniture out of the storage building and power washed it. It was a good day and so much got done.

Jill trimming the roses.
Obe power washing the patio furniture
Ryan working on the blackberries
kitchen crew
More kitchen crew
Grandkids and someone special!
Jill wanted some railroad ties.
The Hostetters went home with a trailer load of railroad ties to redo her raised garden beds.
All I could do was haul the gang around and watch!

Karla Hostetter stayed for the week and helped me in the store and did a thousand other small jobs. When you have to have someone else do everything you do, it seems like so much work; water the plants, pick up stuff, take out trash, pick strawberries, lettuce, onions and wash them, go to the mailbox, run to the grocery store, run Gene Hertzler between fields with equipment , empty the dishwasher, do the laundry, fix a meal, gather eggs, wind the grandfather clock, and the list goes on and on. It is things I just do and don’t give it a second thought. I don’t consider it work but as I watched others do it, it felt different!!!!!

One evening Karla and Lauren make chocolate truffles, a family favorite.

Grandson Ryan

Four days after I broke my ankle, Ryan broke his big toe playing soccer. I could hardly believe it when I got the call! The break looked very similar to mine but he only has to wear a walking boot as it is not weight bearing. I am very jealous of him. It hasn’t slowed him down except he can’t drive! For him, that is a real big bummer!!!

Another Curve Ball Complication:

In the midst of my ordeal, my main and faithful employee, Summer, had to have surgery to remove her thyroid. This was a much needed, must do surgery that had been scheduled for several months. This really had us scrapping for help. Two of our granddaughters, Lauren and Karla, and a friend Amy have graciously come to help in the store. It is working out well and we are making it. Fortunately I had ten days after surgery to recuperate before Summer had her surgery.

From A Grandma’s Perspective:

When our grandchildren were little they said and did the cutest things. I wrote some of them down and called them “Grandma’s Perspective”. I applied a spiritual perspective to most of them. This reminded me of “The Game of Life” post I wrote about our granddaughter Karla on February 15, 2004. It is a different take than the above but I felt this was a good time to share it.

“The Game of Life”

Jill and I were playing a game and Karla did not want to play with her toys on the floor or sit in her musical swing. She did however want to be on our laps where she was in the middle of the activity and was very intrigued with the colorful houses and cards.    At four months of age, she has no concept of a game or the ability to play in a grownup way.   Houses are to throw on the floor and cards are intended to be low calorie food. Karla is learning and does not miss much her observant eyes. 

Children learn from what they are taught, observe what they see and repeat what they hear. Habits are acquired, attitudes learned, morals developed, and values imitated. 

Life is like a game.  Sometimes my game plan does not work.  Sometimes my move sends me back to go or down a slide. Sometimes the throw of dice is not what I wanted.  Sometimes I draw the winning card.  The important thing is not the game but how I played.

Did I have fun?

Did I rejoice when someone else succeeded?

Did I cheat?

Did I get mad if I lost? 

Did I have a good attitude when things did not go my way? 

Did I get arrogant when I won?

Want to know how you are doing?  Watch your children play.

May I say with the writer of Proverbs 4: 10-13….. “ Hear, my son (child), and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many.  I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths.  When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble.  Take firm hold of instruction; do not let her go; keep her, for she is your life.”

When Covid Hits Home

I guess it is time to write this post. I just didn’t have it in me to write earlier. Gene has Covid and has been really sick but I am so very grateful he is now improving. Here is our story….. it has been quite a trip.

This past Thursday Gene was admitted to St. Francis Hospital with pneumonia in both lungs and low oxygen levels due to Covid. We knew he had Covid, he was under a doctor’s care and had tested positive, but he just didn’t seem to be getting better. During the ten Covid days, he had two different rounds of antibiotics for the fluid in his lungs which was settling into pneumonia. It turned out he had viral pneumonia and the antibiotics were doing no good. He was running fever, coughing, had congestion, and no energy. They were trying to keep him out of the hospital. He was watching his oxygen levels and on Thursday morning it was 82. Under 90 is danger. It was time to be admitted to the hospital.

We have now experienced the current state of the art health care experience! After checking him in I had to leave. It is hard leaving when your man looks so rough. The staff was really nice and did their best but there were no rooms available. He spent Thursday morning until Saturday evening in his “suite” in the ER. That had its own challenges and was not pleasant but at least he did have medical care. The bed in the ER is not comfortable, there are no personal toilets, you are under the care of emergency care staff not experienced Covid professionals and there was almost no room for your personal belongings. Your personal stuff had to lay on your bed. He was tattered to the bed so trying to use a laptop or keep his phone charged was challenging. The ER is equipped for stabilizing emergencies and getting the patient into the hands of the proper medical professionals. By Thursday evening they had not given him anything to eat. His blood sugar spiked because of the steroids they were giving him and lack of food. I went to Arbys and got him two roast beef sandwiches and curly fries. They don’t normally feed patients in the ER and weren’t in any hurry to find him some! I slipped into the ER and asked the staff to give Gene my care package which they did. I was not allowed into the hospital so I could not stay with or help him. I mostly understand but hate the policy as it is so vital for a family member to help loved ones with their care. They need an advocate, encourager and someone to pick up the Gatorade that just fell off his bed or plug in the lap top to charge.

Finally, on Saturday evening he was given a room on the Covid floor. That was so much better. The nurses actually had answers to questions and were not evasive. They knew the symptoms they were looking for and what to do. They were reassuring and encouraging. His nurse said, “I have never lost a patient that was vaccinated. I have lost some who weren’t.” It was amazing how positive that statement sounded. Gene had his vaccinations.

This afternoon oxygen was delivered to the house and I got to bring him home. He has to quarantine for twenty-one days. We think most of that is to protect him because I do not have to quarantine any more.

Meanwhile, I was at home answering the phone, text messages, emails, and keeping the home fires burning. It is amazing how many extra small things I had to do or think about. Tim is having to adjust his time to feed the cows, Steve took calves to the livestock market and beef to Farmville to be butchered. Daughter Jill came to keep me company and be my moral support. We played “Splendor” and put several puzzles together.

Mom’s Pantry-1000 piece puzzle
Yoga Cats-1000 piece puzzle

The ironical thing is there are nine people in my immediate family that have Covid right now. None of our three families have been together.

Getting Covid leaves its own set of questions with few answers. All are affected differently, all have different symptoms even within family units. The vaccinated and unvaccinated, masked and unmasked, young and old all get it. Health status, gender or age does not seem to matter. And would you believe, it does not know the difference between a Republican and a Democrat!!! Was Gene’s serious case lessened because he was vaccinated? Why haven’t I gotten it from Gene? Now we wonder if the sinus congestion I had five days before he got sick was Covid. It is very suspicious, especially since I haven’t gotten it from him. If I did, no one else who was around me got it. We wonder why we have been sick more this winter than we have in years and years. Several weeks ago we both had a Covid scare but tested positive for Type A Flu. I was even vaccinated for the flu and pneumonia for the first time this year. Did they make a difference? In September I had Cough Asthma. I have never had Asthma. Why now? The questions are many and the answers are few. Who knows? Who knows?

There is one thing for which I am so grateful and that is a loving supportive family, friends and church family. When we are ill, we pray for one another. There is so much comfort and strength that comes from the care of other people. When Gene was admitted to the hospital our family and church was very concerned. Our church called for a time of prayer at 2 that afternoon for him. I was amazed how quickly that information spread and I heard from friends from all over Virginia and Pennsylvania and beyond who joined the call to pray. God hears, He knows even before we pray. Things don’t always work out the way we wish even when we pray, but that doesn’t mean God has turned a deaf ear. God tells us to bring our petitions, desires and needs to Him. Yahweh God, the great “I Am that I Am” is also the God Who Sees and Hears. (Genesis 16: 11-14)

In my devotions this year I am centering on names and attributes of God, Jesus, and their meaning. This week I have read the following script multiple times, soaking in the truth and reality of who God is. I reaffirmed my trust, faith and praise in the eternal God, my Heavenly Father. I expressed my desire for total healing for Gene. But if that was not to be, I said I would still trust, praise and have faith.

I can not claim authorship of this piece or even give credit to who wrote it, but I can claim its truth. I did find it on the Bible.org website; no author is attributed to it.

God is….

God is Lord Almighty, Omnipotent King, Lion of Judah, Rock of Ages, Prince of Peace, Kings of Kings, Lord of Lords, Provider, Protector, Paternal Leader, Ruling Lord and Reigning King of all the universe.

He is Father, Helper, Guardian, and God. He is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End. He is the keeper of creation and the Creator of all He keeps. The architect of the universe and the Manager of all times.

He always was, is, and will be: Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and never Undone. He was bruised and brought healing. He was pierced and eased pain. He was persecuted and brought freedom, He was dead and brought life, He is risen and brings power. he reigns and brings peace.

The world can not understand Him, the armies can not defeat Him, the schools can not explain Him and the leaders can not ignore Him. Herod could not kill Him, the Pharisees could not confuse Him, the people could not hold Him! Negro could not crush Him, Hitler could not silence Him, the New Age can not replace Him and Donahue cannot explain Him away!

He is light, love, longevity, and Lord. He is goodness, kindness, gentleness, and God. He is Holy, Righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure. His ways are right, His word is eternal, His will is unchanging, and His mind is on me! He is my Redeemer, He is my Savior, He is my guide, He is my peace, He is my joy, He is my comfort, He is my Lord and He rules my life.

I serve Him because His bond is love, His burden is light, and His goal for me is abundant life. I follow Him because He is the wisdom of the wise, the power of the powerful, the ancient of days, the ruler of rulers, the leader of leaders, the overseer of the overcomes, and the sovereign Lord of all that was, is, and is to come.

And if that seems impressive to you, try this for size. His goal is a relationship with ME! He will never leave me, forsake me, mislead me, forget me, overlook me, and never cancel my appointment in His appointment book!

When I fall, He lifts me up. When I fail, He forgives me. When I am weak, He is strong. When I am lost, He is the Way. When I am afraid, He is my courage. When I stumble, He steadies me. When I am hurt, He heals me. When I am broken, He mends me. When I am blind, He leads me. When I am hungry, He feeds me. When I face trials, He is with me. When I face persecution, He stills me. When I face problems, he comforts me. When I face loss, He provides for me. When I face death, he carries me home!

He is everything for everybody, everywhere, every time, and in every way. He is God. He is faithful, I am His, and He is mine. My Father in heaven can whip the father of this world, and so, if you’re wondering why I feel so secure, understand this: He said, I believe it, and that settles it.

God is in control, I am on His side, and that means all is well with my soul.

Dr. Jesse Bennett-Known As The Doctor History Almost Missed

Historic marker on Route 42 just south of Edom. His name is on the web two ways: Jessee/ Jesse and Bennet/Bennett. Not sure which is correct but most seem to use Jesse Bennett.

My brother Ed recently asked me if I knew the first Caesarean Section was performed in Edom, a tiny, little, don’t blink, no stop light, blurb between Harrisonburg and Broadway, Virginia. Edom is not a town, it is just a “has been” area that 60 years ago had a filling station and tiny store, long gone, on the first floor of the McKay’s house (It is still standing-the burned-out shell of a house). When we were young, we could safely ride our bikes the quarter of a mile to purchase penny and nickel candy with our hard-earned money. We would stand at the counter and gaze and gaze at the candy trying to decide how to spend those precious pennies. I had heard the story about Dr. Bennett sometime through the years, but would not have been able to recall it until Ed mentioned it.

It sparked my curiosity and I started digging for the story. I found several fascinating articles about Dr. Jesse Bennett on the internet. It is a story worth telling.

Bennett was born on July 10, 1769 in Frankford, Pennsylvania near Philadelphia. Historians disagree about his medical education but after completing his studies, decided he wanted to go west. In 1771, he stopped in Rockingham Country and stayed. He built a little log cabin, hung his diploma on the wall and started his medical practice. In the spring of 1793, he married Elizabeth Hogg, the educated and talented daughter of Peter Hogg, a noted attorney in Rockingham County.

Within the first year, Elizabeth became pregnant and Bennett solicited the service of Dr. Humphrey of Staunton, VA to attend to Elizabeth during her delivery. To me this was amazing as Staunton today is a 45 minute drive by car going 70 mph on interstate from Edom. How did the doctor get there on time and how was word gotten to him when she started labor? Did he ride the train to Edom or his horse?

Her labor started January 14, 1794 and after a prolonged, difficult and agonizing labor the two doctors determined the only two options were a caesarian on Elizabeth or a craniotomy (a crushing of the skull) on the unborn infant. They had tried to deliver the baby vaginally with forceps but were unsuccessful. Dr. Humphrey refused to attempt anything else and left as he knew Elizabeth could not survive the operation. The situation was dire and probably meant death for either or both the mother and her infant. (References #5 and #6)

Desperate to save her baby even at the cost of her own life, Elizabeth pleaded for her husband to perform the caesarian. This surgery had been done successfully to save a baby but had never been successful in saving the mother. The twenty-four year old doctor, with only about three years of experience, was faced with a horrendous decision. Weighing the consequences, he remembered his resolution when he first hung out his shingle, “that he would attend the sick, in good or bad weather, night or day, rich or poor, and do all he could to relieve pain and aches.” In an instant, his decision was made, he would save both if possible, and he did. He assembled a crude operating table from two boards supported by barrels and gave his wife Laudanum (opiate drug) to make her sleepy. Her sister, Mrs. Nancy Hawkins, held a tallow candle to light the makeshift operating table and two slaves supported and held her down on the table. (Reference #5)

Using a knife from the kitchen he opened her uterus with one long swipe and extracted his precious infant daughter, Maria. (Source #3 says 2 cuts) He then removed both of her ovaries and placenta saying “he’d not be subjected to such an ordeal again.” Using stout linen thread, the kind used in frontier homes to sew heavy clothing, he sutured the wound closed. When Elizabeth learned he had taken her ovaries, she was not a happy wife. After a month she was able to be up on her feet and on March 1, 1794 Jesse declared his wife healed. He wrote notes on the title page and margins of one of his medical books but refused to publicize the details of the surgery during his life fearing repercussions from the medical world. He said other doctors would never believe a woman could survive such a hazardous operation done in the backwoods of Virginia. He was not going to give them the chance to call him a liar. Elizabeth died in 1836 after living another thirty-six years. (References #2, and #5)

Dr. A. L. Knight, a boyhood neighbor of the Bennetts, remembered hearing the story of Maria’s birth when he was a youth and collected eye-witness testimonies from Mrs. Nancy Hawkins and the surviving African-American slaves after Dr. Bennett’s death and published the story in The Southern Historical Magazine in 1892 as part of “The Life and Times of Dr. Jesse Bennett, M.D. (References #5 and #6)

Jesse Bennett Way is probably half a mile from where I grew up. Route 42 is the main road running north and south between Harrisonburg and Broadway. Some years ago, Route 42 was widen and a mile long stretch of road coming through Edom was cut off to become a side road. It was named Jesse Bennett Way after the doctor. There are only maybe a dozen or so homes on the road and two churches; one home is an old homestead with a small log cabin behind it at the corner where the road turns into the Lindale Mennonite Church parking lot.

I decided to to pay a visit! This past weekend when I was in Harrisonburg, my sister Evelyn and I went by the house and found the occupants at home. I will refer to them as the B’s. The B’s were gracious and let me take pictures. They knew the story but had never had it connected to their place. The current house where they live was built in 1851 (54 years after the Bennetts left the area) by John R. Wenger and he had a broom making shop in the log cabin. This was the history of their place as they knew it.

History records that in 1797, five years after the historic caesarian, Bennett moved his family to his father-in-law’s land in western Mason County, West Virginia. There, he established a large, well-known and popular medical practice. He got involved in politics and helped to establish Mason County’s government and served as their representative in the Virginia Assembly. It is recorded that Aaron Burr tried unsuccessfully to get him to join the Burr conspiracy. Fortunately, he did not as Burr was later convicted of treason When the US and Great Britain began the War of 1812, he served as army surgeon. (References #5 and #6)

Mr. B said that Route 42 was not a road at the time of the Bennetts, it wasn’t built until 1928. The main road going north and south was Route 11 several miles to the east. There were paths connecting the farms to Route 11. They traveled by horse at that time and had to go through the a series of neighboring farmers’ gates to get there. That would make sense with the info in some of the below articles that said the doctor’s log cabin was located in the back woods. In those days doctors usually traveled to homes rather than patients coming to the doctor’s office.

Another reason I found this story so fascinating was my great-great grandmother Lahman was born prematurely, also very close to Edom, just a mile or so down the road on December 2, 1855. Her face was the size of a silver dollar, a kernel of corn covered her hand and she reportedly weighed 1-1/2 lbs. The story is found on my blog post, A Family Story: An Amazing Birth Miracle I had to look to see if by chance Dr. Bennett could have been the doctor attending her birth, but it was 58 years after he had left the area.

I am posting a picture of the log cabin at the B’s house. Was it by chance Dr. Bennetts? I searched and searched the internet and could not connect the dots but it is the only log cabin on a mile long stretch of road named in his honor. It was built in the same era of time. To me it seems highly possible but I do not know. I do know the current house was not his. If anyone has any more insight on the cabin and/or location, I would love to know.

The cabin is currently being used as a dog house. Sometime through the years a concrete floor was poured. The cabin is still weatherproof and the steps going to the loft are sturdy. Regardless of who built the cabin or who it belonged to, it is a step back into time. You can almost feel the history when you stand in the darkened cabin and creep up the stairs to the loft. And to think that one time the successful “factory” of Mr. Wenger or possibly the office of Dr. Bennett.

Quick Reference Time Line From This Post:

  • 1769: July 10, Jesse Bennett was born.
  • 1791: Dr. Bennett moved to Rockingham County and started his medical practice in a log cabin at Edom.
  • 1793: April 8, married Elizabeth Hogg.
  • 1794: January 14, Dr. Bennett performed a successful caesarian on his wife, Elizabeth at the age of 24.
  • 1794: February 9, Elizabeth was out of bed and by the 15th could walk. March 1, he declared her healed.
  • 1797: The Bennetts moved to Mason County, West Virginia.
  • 1812: Dr. Bennett served as surgeon in the War of 1812 against Great Britain.
  • 1836: Elizabeth Bennett died.
  • 1842: July 22, Dr. Bennett died.
  • 1851: Wenger house was built.
  • 1855: December 2, Pat’s Great-great grandmother Lahman was born prematurely.
  • 1928: Route 42 was built.
  • 1956-1972 Pat lived at Edom.

References:

Double-Knee Replacement-1 Year Anniversary

Last week I had my one year checkup, to the day from my surgery. What a difference one year makes! As I pulled up to the medical complex at St. Francis Hospital where my doctor’s office and physical therapy is located, lots of memories flooded back. I remember struggling to get in and out of the car, being let out at the front door so I didn’t have so far to walk and shuffling in with my walker and wondering if life would ever be normal again. Today there was no chauffeur driving me to my appointment, no handicap sticker dangling from the mirror and no looking for the closest possible handicap parking spot. Instead of riding the elevator to the second floor, I smiled as I walked over to the two flights of stairs, and confidently without stopping or holding onto the hand rail walked up to my appointment-simply because I could! I came down the same way-because I could.

This was a tough year for me but each week, each month, there was improvement and I am now living a normal, pain-free life. My knees are doing well, the tell-tell knee scar is very faint and I walk without limping. I still know that I have knees, but think about them less and less.

My biggest challenge is the bend of my left knee. I don’t have the bend I have in the right. That knee has been my challenge from day one. I actually lost a little of the bend I had at the end of therapy. I can’t get down on my knees and I have a little fear of sometime falling and not being able to get back up.

Dr. Kerr did x-rays and both knees look like they are suppose to look. He doesn’t know why I struggle so much with bend in that knee. I have mostly learned to adapt and sometimes I remind myself that I am much better than I was before surgery. I need to work again on some therapy exercises because at two years, what I have, is what I have. There is no more changing the situation.

Would I recommend doing the surgery? Absolutely.

Would I want to do both knees at the same time? Absolutely.

I will tell you, it was tough. Tougher than I anticipated or was prepared for. But, it is done, over, and all behind me. The end result is a huge improvement for me. I can walk so much better and am pain-free.

Before surgery
Now
Before surgery
Now

Inhale-Exhale

I am so sore tonight I can hardly wiggle!

I am still doing water therapy at the recommendation of my surgeon after my double knee replacement surgery. There is a physician approved therapy center called ACAC that I go to. They have lots of classes you can participate in or you can do your own thing in the heated salt water pool and Jacuzzi. When I started, I met with a therapist who went over the program and took all my vital signs. He was going to work with me. I haven’t seen him since.

Several weeks ago, I decided to do the arthritic session but was not impressed. There wee only “older” people in the class and it didn’t seem like there was much to it. I prefer to do the exercises that were given to me from my physical therapist. Today I decided to take the p.r.e.p session which is part of my therapy program. After all, that is why I am going.

It wasn’t at all what I expected. I expected to have one on one time with a therapist who would check my progress so that he could report it back to my doctor. Instead, it was basically a breathing class. Inhale-1-2-3, exhale-1-2-3. Most of the movements were standing still or almost still, keeping your eyes on a focal point while doing such movements as opening and closing your fist, turning your head, and squeezing your butt cheeks together, tighter, tighter, tighter. Now inhale-1-2-3, exhale-1-2-3 . One exercise included two steps forward-inhale-1-2-3, two steps back-exhale-1-2-3. That was the most active one!!! Another one was making sure you were standing up straight, looking straight ahead; inhale-1-2-3, exhale-1-2-3.  Now all my organs are lined up in their proper positions and my blood is flowing properly!

I left frustrated and determined I would just continue to do my own thing–real exercises. Several hours later I am complaining of being sore. Not just a little sore, big time sore; my ankles, knees, back, legs, arms, and neck, all the places where there are no organs.

Who knew breathing; inhale-1-2-3, exhale-1-2-3 for forty-five minutes could make a person sore! I thought I’ve been inhaling and exhaling for 67 years!!! Maybe my organs were out of line and I just didn’t know it. It is a three Advil night!

Bilateral Knee Replacement-Part 2: Recovery and Therapy

For two months before surgery, my number one focus was therapy; to strengthen my muscles to get me ready for recovery after surgery.

For three months after surgery, my number one focus has been therapy; to get me moving, bending and restoring full use of my knees and legs.

I do not like therapy or exercises. It is hard work, takes intense dedication and hurts! But, it is the difference between healing and getting better and becoming a fully functioning human being again.

I think therapists are on speed dial from the surgeon: “Patient is out of surgery, go, RUN!” Their preference is for you to meet with therapy the day of surgery. However, my first therapy session was postponed until the following morning as it was too late in the day when I got out of recovery and my spinal had not worn off yet.

The first week in the hospital is detailed in Part 1. When I left the hospital on Friday, four days after surgery, they asked if I wanted Home Health to come in. That sounded like a great idea-to let them come to me. The thought of having to leave the house to go one mile to therapy sounded like a big deal.

The morning after I was home, Home Health called and by mid-morning they were knocking on my door to do the paperwork, take my vitals and pictures of my knees. I was informed that I was only scheduled for three visits in two weeks. That was all they were allowed to do. That should have raised a flag but I wasn’t processing information very well at this point.

Later in the afternoon, the first therapist, came for the first visit. She was helpful and encouraging and assured me that what I was experiencing was normal but she pushed me to my limits. She was determined that I would get a 90 degree bend in my knees the first session. The most we could squeeze out was 75 degrees on the right and 55 on the left. The left knee just did not want to bend as well as the right. She suggested I cut the ice treatments back and decrease the pain meds.  I was exhausted when she left and took a long nap. It didn’t take long to find out that cut cutting ice or meds in the first week was not a good idea.

By the time the second therapist arrived five days later, I was eleven days past surgery and just getting my second “real” therapy session. I was worried about the length of time between sessions.  My left leg was really stiff, felt like a wooden post, and just would not bend as much as the right.  She wasted no time telling me that she is hard on her joint patients. She looked at my list of ten exercises  that I came home from the hospital with and said, “I want you do three sets of ten twice a day”.  My doctor instructions were to do ten of each exercise twice a day. That meant each exercise that I did ten times, I was now to do a total of thirty times, twice a day.  Physically, mentally and emotionally I could not do it.  I wrote in my journal. “My legs feel terribly tight, and are horribly sore. I can barely walk.” Her next visit was scheduled for eight days later.

The next morning I called my doctor and told him what was happening. I asked him if this is what he wanted in therapy. He said, “Absolutely not.”  He said Home Health is an independent company and they do their own thing. They do not communicate with the doctor, they don’t know what he recommends or wants for his patients.  He suggested that I use Ortho Therapy as it is in the same building as his office.

The Ortho therapist has access to the doctor and my medical records when needed and the doctor has input into the amount and type of therapy.  Ortho couldn’t start me until the beginning of the week which meant it would be sixteen days post surgery before I got on a good therapy schedule and program.  I was impressed with their program and they were very helpful and encouraging and committed to get me going. There was immediate concern about my left knee and we talked about the issue. The therapist mentioned that they can “manual manipulation” if it doesn’t respond to therapy but it is a last option.  Therapy was scheduled for three times a week plus they put me on an exercise program to do twice daily at home.  For the next ten weeks therapy and exercises consumed my days.

As I began to write this blog, I started to notice the post surgery milestones I had posted in my journal:

  • Twelve days: Was able to shower by myself without sitting or using the walker for stability.
  • Fifteen days:  Can leave walker outside of bathroom door.  Much easier to get in and out of bed and chairs.
  • Seventeen days: Started walking in the atrium at our church for exercise. The swelling in the legs is decreasing.
  • Nineteen days: Went out to our feed store for the first time (about an hour) and put in a feed order.  Started doing light office work every couple of days.
  • 3 weeks: At therapy my right leg bends 90 degrees and the  left 55. That is a big difference. The goal is 90 degrees at 2 weeks so I am running behind on the left.  I am now up and moving around most of the day. and cutting back on pain meds.
  • 4 weeks: Started going to church and more comfortable going out.  My legs hurt if I stand still or they “dangle” too long when sitting. I have to choose my chairs and length of time sitting and standing carefully. My legs still hurt at night and keep me awake but during the day, it is not bad. I now have 95 degrees on right knee an 82 on left. I have no trouble cooking and doing laundry as long as Gene helps me with carrying the laundry basket and getting pans out of the lower cabinets. I am now going steps to the office and laundry. I can now put my foot up on the edge of the coffee table to tie my shoes and trim my toe nails!
  • 32 days:  Had an appointment with Dr. Kerr and he is recommending water therapy.  Next week he wants to do a manual manipulation on my left knee. This scares me too death, sounds awful. They said it sounds like Velcro being pulled apart.
    • Started going to a neighbor’s pool to do exercises several times a week.
    • Incisions are healed and started using Coconut Oil and Coca Butter on them.
  • 37 days: Started driving. As long as I was on the strong pain meds I wasn’t allowed to drive.
  • 38 days:  Parked the walker and started using the cane full time.  My left knee cap would give out on me periodically and until we had those muscles strengthen I was suppose to use the walker.

  • 6 weeks: Manual manipulation.  Under sedation, Dr. Kerr was able to get 140 degree bend but when I left the hospital, I could only move it as before. I expected immediate results but discovered I was still going to have to work for it! I was very nervous about this procedure and how bad it would hurt. I knew I would be asleep for it but what about afterwards??? It turned out I was sore for about one day. I had a pool of blood just under the skin to the left of the knee cap that was tender for several weeks until my body absorbed it.

Picture given to me by my surgeon, taken during the manipulation.

    • Several things are affecting my movement. It is not the joints-they are artificial. There is still swelling and some fluid on the knee.  The healed incisions are tight-the skin around them does not move. I have to start massaging the incisions. Because of my poor posture in the months and years leading up to surgery the ligaments in my legs affecting movement have tighten and shorten.  I have to work hard with stretch exercises.
    • Ordered a portable pedal “mini bike” that sits on the floor in front of a chair. The therapist says pedaling is crucial to getting my knees to bend and the ligaments stretched.

    • They started me on a pedal bike in therapy. Man is that tough! The first time I could not do a full petal cycle. The therapist gave my left foot a little push to help it make a full cycle and it made me yelp! By the second session, I could do it.
    • Got rid of the potty “hi-rise seat”. I was waiting until after the manipulation as I didn’t know how things would be.
  • 7 weeks: I am seeing a definite improvement in my gait but still have a slight limp and a slight drag to the left leg.  I have had to relearn how to walk properly. I have to think; lift my knee like a march, come down, heel first then rock to toe. Repeat. Sounds easy, right!!!!!
    • I am working hard with leg extension exercises. My left knee, yes, the bad one, is doing great, but it is my good, right knee that does not want to extend properly so that the back of the knee touches the bed when fully extended. To walk properly and get rid of that drag, it has to happen.  After surgery my measurement was a 12. That is the gap between the back of the knee and a flat surface. That is not good. It needs to be a zero. Right now I am at 3.  After the therapist works on my knee, she can get zero, but I am not able to do it yet on my own.
    • I started making cakes to sell in the store again.
    • Got 96 degree bend on the left leg and 112 on the right. We hi-fived and cheered.
  • 8 weeks: I had my eight week appointment with Dr. Kerr. He was very encouraging and keeps telling me it will come, but it will take some time. He likened it to someone losing weight and stepping on the scales every morning expecting to see results. I said, “That is so me! That is exactly what I do.” I guess I am just impatient, I want instant results.
    • I am working on steps. I can not go fluidly up and down steps. It is one foot up (or down) and then the other foot like a baby learning to walk. I am working on the proper sequence. My left knee is lacking enough strength yet to bear my weight as I step up. I have to do exercises to strengthen the “step” muscles. It will come.
    • I have stopped using the cane in the house.  When practicing steps or going outside on uneven ground, I still use the cane for safety.  They do not want me to fall.

    • We went to the airport to pick up our daughter and family who had been on vacation. Their flight was delayed so we went upstairs where we could sit and watch people coming and going. I had taken my cane but when we came to the escalator, I stopped. I could not figure out how or which foot to put first on the moving steps. The steps looked like they were flying!!!! I didn’t long for me to decide we needed to take the elevator. It is funny what stops you in your tracks. It makes me realize the difficulty and inconvenience handicap people face. I have also faced this at Food Lion and Walmart. At this point I use the motorized carts as the stores are large and there is a lot of walking. If I want something on the top shelf I either have to stand up or use my handy cane; the hook is a “slick trick” for pulling items off the shelf as long as they aren’t glass.
  • 9 weeks: Today at therapy I got 105 degree bend on my left leg and 119 on the right and two days later it was 110 and 120.  The right knee has reached the anticipated goal for therapy and I am almost there on left.  The therapist and I cheered and hi-fived like excited school kids on the accomplishment. It is worth celebrating!!!
    • I am now going to church, therapy and to our store without the cane.
    • I am totally off all pain meds except for Advil and Tylenol on an as needed basis.

At my 8 week appointment, Dr. Kerr again pushed ACAC water therapy. When I questioned him about the difference between the YMCA and my friend’s pool, he said they have a heated salt water pool, medical staff on hand to work with you and the option of group classes in the pool.  They also report back to him on progress.

I finally decided that I was being stubborn like Naaman in the Old Testament (II Kings 5). Naaman had leprosy and his little Jewish slave girl told him that the prophet in her home land could heal him. Naaman went in search of the prophet Samuel and when he was told to go and dip seven times in the Jordan River he refused. He had his own rivers back home he preferred to use, they were cleaner.  But when he relented and obeyed, he was healed. I decided if I want to get better I need to listen to the advice of my doctor.  I signed up for two months at ACAC. The warm 95 degree water is wonderful and so is the huge Jacuzzi!!!!

I am now two days from the 10 week mark.  Today at therapy I got 113 degrees in my left knee and 124 in my right. They changed the way I am to walk. Instead of bending my knee as in a step or  march, I am to keep my leg extended, then heel down, rock to toe. That is to help my leg extension and prevent my “crouching” again. I knew before going to therapy I was improving on my bend. One of my exercises is to sit in a chair and slide my foot back towards the chair as far as I can, using the other leg to help push it back. The blue tape on the floor marks my achievements-where I can get my heel. My left foot almost touches the rung of the chair. I have made amazing progress.

 

Going up and down stairs is greatly improving. Going up is easier than down. On shallow steps I have the up conquered and the down is getting there. Steeper stairs is still a work in progress.  I can now put on panty hose which means I can wear my nicer flats to church.

As I read through my daily journal, I realize the huge progress I have made; little steps almost daily. It helps to look back and see where I came from so that I can keep my eye on the anticipated goal. They say It will take 1-2 years for full recovery.  I also realize that almost every day I write in my journal how bad I hurt during the night. I have trouble getting to sleep, my knees ache and my feet are restless.  During the day I am active and busy and not as aware of the ache.  Every step I take, I am still aware that I have knees. There is a tight band across the knee caps but it is gradually lessening with time.  I am now only going to physical therapy twice a week and  hopefully will done in a few weeks.

Many, many people have prayed for me. God is the ultimate healer and I give Him praise and thanks for what He has done in my life and how he has used the advances of modern medicine to help me. I look forward to complete healing and a new lease on life in the weeks and months ahead.

August 21: I am now between my tenth and eleventh week. I graduated from therapy today!!!!!!! My right knee has a 124 degree bend and my left 115. Because I am doing my home exercises, going to ACAC water therapy, my right leg extension has improved and I basically have full range of motion, the therapist is turning me loose. I will go back in two weeks for a final check-in.  It has been a long road and it feels so good to be moving on to the next phase. Hopefully, no more therapy-ever!!!!

 

Other blog posts about my surgery:

Bilateral Double Knee Replacement-Part 1: Surgery

Rahab and Ruth

Ready or Not, Here I Go

Domino Effect

Highly Motivated

I Can Help You!

 

Bilateral Double Knee Replacement-Part 1: Surgery

A lot of you have been following me on facebook but I wanted to document my experience as a help and reference to others anticipating the same procedure. One thing that I am being told over and over and am learning the hard way is that everyone is different, each knee is different even if done at the same time by the same doctor. There is no standard, only guidelines which makes the law of averages. It is easy to overlook the stories of those who struggle and only hear the voices of those who got along exceptionally well and then set that bar for yourself.  Before surgery I asked lots of questions, talked to others in the “knee club” and it was very helpful but it also set my expectations very high and I assumed I would be one of the “wonder” persons. It  did give me an idea of what to expect but somehow I missed how hard and painful it would be. For me, my journey became filled with struggles and several setbacks as you will see as my story unfolds.

Day of surgery: Day 1 (Monday)

Prepped and ready for surgery.

Our pastor came, prayed for me and sat with Gene and Jill as I headed off to surgery.

My two and a half hour surgery went well. I awoke in recovery with my family standing around my bed laughing. They were laughing at me! I knew they were asking me questions and I knew they were laughing at my responses but I could not control my answers. At least I provided good entertainment for them and at that point I didn’t care!

Jill took a selfie with me during my silly spell!

After I was awake and settled in my room (5 p.m.), my family left. It had been a long day and they were tired and hungry and I was sleepy, in no pain and had the most wonderful nurse, Barbie Adams, as my night nurse. She is a neighbor and I have known the family for forty plus years.  They put foot pumps on my feet to prevent blood clots and ice-wraps on my knees for swelling. They had me wiggle my numb toes and brought me a light supper. In the middle of the night I craved party mix. I finally asked Mrs. Adams if they, by chance, had any crackers I could eat. She brought me orange juice, saltine crackers, peanut butter and two cups of Hershey’s Chocolate Ice-Cream. It was a feast and tasted so good. I had a good night and they let me sleep with almost no interruption.

Day after surgery: Day 2 (Tuesday)

I awoke at 3 a.m. and was wide awake. I decided it was a good time for my devotions as everything was quiet and dark in the hospital.  I still had no pain, my knees did not hurt, and I could now feel my toes.  A one point I pulled my knees up and said to the nurse, “look at what I can do!” I felt like wonder woman. Two different nurses said they had not seen anyone do what I could do at that point.

 

At 8 a.m. my doctor made his rounds and took the large band-aid looking bandages off my knees. Now I could see my battle scars. There were no stitches or staples on the outside, the wound was super glued together.

Because my surgery was in the middle of the day and it was late until I got to my room, they did not get me up to walk yesterday  I was still too numb. But by 9 a.m. this morning, physical therapy was in my room and it was time to get out of bed, take a few steps and learn to take care of my personal needs. They let me sit in a chair for half an hour. Jill was in early and stayed with me all day. We had a good morning with lots of laughter and conversation.

In the afternoon they decided to give me 5 mg of Oxycodone as my knees were starting to ache and to prepare me for the afternoon physical therapy session. The spinal and nerve blocks in my legs was wearing off. They wanted me to sit in a chair and have a sponge bath before therapy. I sat on the edge of the bed and they took my blood pressure.  The top number was 166.

They moved me to the chair and I immediately started feeling bad-really bad. I turned very pale, started sweating and became nauseated.  They said I yawned, asked to get back in bed and slumped over. They took my blood pressure and buzzed for help. The top number was 77. I was in and out of consciousness as they lifted me back in bed. Fortunately we don’t have a picture of this! They restarted my IV and put ice on my head until they could get my blood pressure settled. We finally decided I had reacted to the Oxycodone. They switched the pain medicine to Tramadol and that worked well for me.  During the afternoon my level of pain started increasing as my legs were starting to swell and became very, very tight. It was a rough night and I was not allowed to get up to go to the bathroom as I was still too woozy.

Day 3: (Wednesday)

Physical therapy couldn’t do much with me today as my blood pressure was still unstable and I felt dizzy. Later they did get me out of bed and I walked 20-30 feet down the hall and then sat in a chair for about 45 minutes. I was so sleepy and at one point went to sleep in mid-sentence. My ankles and knees were so tight and swollen and very tender to the touch. They had me do a few exercises but my knees were so painful. It was a rough day. Usually they keep their bilateral patients two nights but there will be no going home for me yet.

My night nurse was not very helpful and acted like she didn’t want to be there. The rule is you have to ask for pain meds. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. I was on four different pain medications; one was twice a day, one every six hours, two I could have in between. My brain absolutely could not keep it straight. I could not remember the names of the meds, what I could have when or when I took what. I quickly learned the value of a family caregiver who watches out for your needs.

I asked the night nurse to please give me my meds during the night whenever I was allowed to have them. She was a follower of “the letter of the law”, insisting I had to ask, in spite of my pleading. It was very frustrating. I had ice packs on my legs around the clock and the ice packs needed to be changed every 2-3 hours. I had to ask for them to be changed regularly also. Sometimes I would sleep through the time when I could have meds and then would hurt so bad as it took a while for the meds to catch up. When the night nurse would come in, she would call someone else to come help me to the bathroom, take off the foot pumps, change my ice. She did only the basic. I was very glad when the night shift change and I did not see her again.

Day 4: (Thursday)

Therapy got me up and we walked down the hall and then I sat in a chair again for about 45 minutes. My blood pressure is still fluctuating but not as bad. I felt a little more encouraged today and walking with the walker is going better. My knees hurt and because they are so swollen and tight, they do not want to bend. It is hard to stay focused on the anticipated goal and stay upbeat when you hurt. However, today I began to think about going home and when Dr. Kerr came in for the night rounds he said that in the morning, I could go home.

Day 5: (Friday)

Today is the day and it is time to go home. It feels a little bit overwhelming and intimidating. In the hospital they are set up to handle me and there are medical people to answer my questions. I wondered, can I really do this? Am I ready? Can I handle my home set up? I know I can walk with the walker but I haven’t had a shower yet. How will I handle that?

In preparation for going home, therapy consisted of learning to do a 4″ and 6″ step so that I can get into the house. Oh the little things we take for granted!!! The therapist had not been able to do all that she wanted to do with me in the hospital because of my blood pressure episode and asked if I wanted In-Home Care therapy. That sounded like a wonderful idea and she signed me up for two weeks.  This soon proved to be a mistake-it will be written about in part 2. By 11:30 the paperwork was signed, I was released, and ready to go home.

The night nurse did not do a good job keeping my legs iced and by morning my knees were extra swollen and so tight they could hardly bend. The first issue in getting me home started when they brought a transport chair to take me down to our vehicle.  The seat on a transport chair tilts slightly backwards which means your knees have to bend more than normal to reach the very narrow rests for your feet. It hurt so bad I could not stand it. They insisted that was my only option. I reminded them that they had me in a wheelchair earlier and I knew that would work, to please let me use that. They finally consented and even provided pillows to help support my legs. The second issue was that I was now signed out of the hospital and no longer were they allowed to help me.  The strapping young transport fella that was to wheel me down to the main entrance to our vehicle could do only that-wheel me down.  He was not allowed to help get me into the vehicle.

Our daughter, Jill, came in to get me as we decided her vehicle had more leg room in the front to get my legs in and out. Getting me in the vehicle proved to be very difficult. I could not bend my legs enough to get in regardless of how I tried twisting and turning. The young fella just stood there and stared. Finally, we decided to have me sit on the edge of the back seat and scoot across with my legs straight out in front of me on the seat. Without a finger lifted from the strapping young fella, Jill finally maneuvered me into place and off we went on the twenty minute ride home.

By the time we got home, I was really hurting and exhausted.  I went straight to bed. While I slept, Jill got my prescriptions filled and organized. Now we began the process of figuring out how to function at home. The white wicker chair seemed to be my best sitting chair (arm rests on a chair are very useful in getting up!) and I instantly knew I had to have a high rise seat for the potty. Our bathroom is narrow but fortunately we had remodeled it several years ago making it more functional.  I had to go in the door with the walker sideways, park my chariot by the sink and hold onto the sink to shuffle to the toilet.

Gene and Jill took turns getting up during the night to give me my meds and change my ice. The long awaited surgery week was over. It was good to be home.

Other blog posts about my surgery:

Bilateral Knee Replacement-Part 2: Recovery and Therapy

Rahab and Ruth

Ready or Not, Here I Go

Domino Effect

Highly Motivated

I Can Help You!

 

Rahab and Ruth

 

I was lying in bed the day after surgery thinking as I gently rubbing my swollen, sore, stiff knees when I had the idea of naming my legs Rahab and Ruth. I am sure your first thought is, “how did you come up with those names?” Both were Old Testament women with fascinating stories. The struggles and decisions of life had been hard and bruising on both women but when God got a hold of them and changed their hearts, they had new purpose in living. The results were life changing with New Testament implications.

So, with that introduction, meet Rahab (left) and Ruth (right)….

My legs: Rahab and Ruth:

Each leg is so different. Ruth is more flexible and responding to therapy but Rahab is more stiff and swollen. Both of my knees had severe osteoarthritis, bone spurs and was bone on bone. The surgery on Rehab was a little more intense.  When I got to my room after recovery, full of drugs, spinal and nerve blocks, I lifted and bent my knees and exclaimed to the nurse, “Look what I can do”! That was a short-lived wonder woman proclamation!

I had several setbacks along the way and very quickly “wonder woman” became “I wonder if woman”! At two weeks, the  therapist is looking to see a 90 degree bend in the knee and at three weeks, 110. At three weeks, I am just getting to 90 on Ruth and 55 on Rahab. This is very concerning to me as I am not sure what has gone wrong. What have I not done right? Everyone says everyone is different and even legs on the same person are different. I have done my exercises faithfully, before and after surgery. I think Rahab is holding Ruth back because some exercises such as the squats, you can’t do with a “straight wooden leg”.

Therapy is working hard with me and talking to my surgeon to break up the scar tissue and get more movement. Yesterday was a rough therapy day but we got 10-15 more degrees in each leg. If we still can’t get what I need, they will put me to sleep (as it is very painful) and manipulate the knees to break the adhesions.

Biblical Rahab.

Rahab first appears in the Old Testament in Joshua 2. The Israelites were poised to enter the promised land. Joshua sent out two spies to survey the walled city of Jericho and the surrounding area. Before the city gates were closed for the night, the two spies slipped into the city and went to a house built on the wall, the home of a prostitute, Rahab. This was a perfect place to stay because “visitors” were always coming and going. It wasn’t long until the king was notified that strangers were in the city. After a thorough search of the city, the men were not found because Rahab had cleverly hidden them under piles of flax drying on her roof. Rahab had heard about the Israelites and revealed to the spies the great fear of the people for them because they had heard how their God had done mighty things. After assuring Rahab that she and her family would be saved when they conquered the city if she followed the guidelines laid out, she let them down with a cord out of her window and the spies escaped to the mountains until it was safe to return to Joshua. A very short time later the Israelities marched silently around the city once a day for six days and on the seventh day seven times. At the designated time they blew their trumpets and shouted and the walls fell in a heap of rubble except for Rahab’s house. She and her family was rescued. The detailed story is in Joshua 2. Hebrews 11:31 records that Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe because she received the spies in peace.

Her next appearance in scripture is Matthew 1:5 in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Salmon and Rahab begot Boaz.  Wouldn’t you like to know the love story of Salmon and Rahab?

Biblical Ruth.

The next line in the genealogy states that Boaz and Ruth begat Obed , Obed begat Jesse the father of King David. Twenty-eight generations later the family line ends with the birth of Jesus Christ.

The whole book of Ruth in the Old Testament is given to the story of Ruth.  This also is an amazing story. Elimelech and Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, lived in Bethlehem during the time of the judges. There was a severe famine and they moved to the land of Moab where the sons eventually married Moabite women, Ruth and Orpal. After ten years, Elimelech and both of his sons died leaving three grieving widows. Noami decided it was time to go back to her homeland and her people.  The two daughter-in-laws started out with her but Naomi begged them to stay with their families as she was too old to produce more sons for them to marry. Orpal turned back but Ruth refused to leave her beloved mother-in-law.

Ruth’s heartfelt response to Naomi has gone down in history as a beloved commitment which is frequently used in Christian weddings.

“Entreat me not to leave you or to turn back from following after you.

For where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge.

Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.

Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.

The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.”

Ruth 1:16-17

 

It was harvest time when they arrived in Bethlehem. Ruth asked permission of her mother-in-law to go and gleam grain behind the reapers in the field. She “happened” in the field of Boaz who was close kin of Elimelech. Boaz noticed Ruth and inquired who she was. He had already heard her story and knew of her loyalty to Naomi.  Boaz invited her to only gleam behind his reapers, provided her with food and water, gave her extra grain to take along home, and admonished his workers to watch out for her and not harm her.

The culture in those times was very different from what we know and understand. It was the responsibility of the closest kin to marry a widowed woman to produce a son to carry on the dead man’s family name. The details of the story can be read in the book of Ruth. There was one man closer kin but he declined to marry Ruth so Boaz willingly took her as his wife. Rahab is now the mother-in-law of Ruth.

Two women: a prostitute and a Moabite. Two women who knew heartbreak, sorrow, disappointment and the bruising rigors of life. Two women who met God and married into the Israelite tribe which was strictly forbidden by God. Two women whose lives were given new purpose and from whom our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born.

I kind of like the symbolism of their stories. My worn out knees need new life and purpose.

Other blog post relating to my surgery:

I Can Help You!

Highly Motivated

Domino Effect

Ready or Not, Here I Go

 

Ready or Not, Here I Go

The appointed time is at hand; I get new knees (Bilateral Knee Replacement) and the promise of straight legs and a new gait.  I can hardly wait but at the same time I dread the unknown of what I have to go through to get there.

I talked to one lady who is my age and lives in Powhatan. She had the very same procedure with the same doctor within the last six months. She has gotten along very well and was a great encourager. I have also talked to numerous others and I feel like I kind of understand what to expect.  Everyone I have talked to has done very well and are so glad they had it done.

It is quite the ordeal to get ready:  pre-op physical therapy, doctor appointments, preadmissions testing, class on procedure, CT scan, EKG, paperwork to fill out, release forms to sign, and pre-surgery cleansing routine. My post-operative care is lined up and a walker and cane have been borrowed.  The house is cleaned, flower beds are  weeded, the laundry done and my duffel bag is packed. A thousand last minute instructions about everything I could think of have been given. You would think I was going away on a long vacation and they can’t do it without me!!!

I am very grateful to my many friends, family and church family for their expressions and promises of care and prayers.

So now, ready or not, here I go. It is now time to git’er done!

Other blog posts about my knee replacement surgery:

 

 

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