Thursday, November 30, 2006

Today I went for a...

WALK! Albeit a slow shuffle, but a walk! A walk! The crisp air made it the best lunch hour *ever*! I love my 'hood.

And I'm a little scared at how much I've 'adapted' to working from home. Will I be able to "re-enter" next week??

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


eu‧phe‧mism  /ˈyufəˌmɪzəm/[yoo-fuh-miz-uhm] – noun
1. the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.

I like that this definition comes from the UN-abridged dictionary....

Anyway. Today provided a wonderful example of euphemism. It was another follow-up appointment with my doctor, who:

1) Was very positive at the progress of my feet; and
2) Offered this euphemism:

"It's really surprising, how cautious you are being... given your demographic."

Some alternative translations:
"You are acting wimpier than any grandmother would."
"You are a woos."
"Get over it."

I spent a moment assessing whether I should feel ashamed or embarassed (hey, I teach aerobics!). I admit I've been careful but come on: who wants to mess up surgery like that? It's your *feet*. So, I chose to put the shame asiide and instead to feel encouraged. I am getting better! There is light at the end of tunnel!

So I opted to walk back as much as I could to the MUNI (ok, i took the bus for 1 block). And I had some nice chuckles along the way. "For your demographic." Nice.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Safety in numbers

So I'm grateful for the discussion forum I found on -- the community of people there are so encouraging. I WILL get better. My butt and body ache from lack of activity. I'm going nuts being on my butt. I'm frustrated I can't be at work for meetings I want to attend.

But it WILL get better. And soon, I can click my heels (or birks) 3 times and make it so!

Yes, it is possible to over-do it

Monday November 20:
All I wanted was to get out....despite all of the ways my friends are getting me out: driving me to dinner, to church, to baptisms, to Thanksgiving dinners...I just wanted a little "night on the town" - a 2-block walk to the Bi-Rite market, for heaven's sake.

Of course, I failed to factor in the fact that once I was *at* Bi-Rite I would need to be standing around shopping. Oops. So despite the walk-breaks on the way back - at Dolores Park Cafe and the bus stop...I was POOPED by the time I got back.

Tuesday November 21:
My friend Laura takes me to the doctor. This is a momentous day: I get sutures removed and license to take (brace yourself) a SHOWER!!! Pretty darned exciting. I mean, I appreciate Wet Wipes (trust me, I *really* do now!), but the idea of having *water* be the cleansing agent for my body was starting to sound really appealing. That was, of course, until it hit home that I would be standing on my UNSECURED feet -- free of the security and safety of the surgical booties! Eeeipes!! I kept having visions of me falling in the shower...bad imagery - don't go there - visualize being clean and DONE with the ordeal. I finally made it, but resolved to sit on my butt for future showers.

Sadly, after those two episodes, my feet were finished. The next two evenings (why is it so bad in the evening?) I slept 2-3 hours each owing to the THROBBING pain in my feet.

Will I ever get better? When is it ok to "stretch" things and walk a bit? Stand up? Or do I need to be paranoid aboutit all? Can I ever imagine returning to work or being normal? Discouragement sets in!

NETFLIX is is heat

Kelly knew it and ordered me two free months. I've watched Citizen Kane, An American in Paris and Cold Mountain.

I've also rediscovered my heater: I had written it off based on the estimate of the inspector when I bought the place - he said it was history. And the first furnace guy out here gave me a $5K estimate to replace it and the ducts. IN the absence of the nirvana washer/dryer, I resolved to wear sweaters and shiver.

But the washer/dryer repair saga has dragged out and the idea of a working furnace was getting more attractive every day. But I wanted a second opinion! And the guy from Apollos Heating was either lazy or beyond honest: he assured me the furnace and ducts were fine and it was probably my air filter - like $90. I took the filter out, cleaned it for now (though the junk on it made me VERY nervous - if am still fertile, that may have changed things-!).

And now I use it and it WORKS! I can be WARM at home! Which is totally great because I am about as pasty and vitamin D-deprived as one can imagine. I've even calibrated the 40 minute window we get sunshine in our gorgeous garden (part of the beauty comes from the foliage which, alas, can block the sunlight). It's from 11am - noon. So when I can, I run out and sit in the glare and drink it up. "Vitamin D, pour all over me baby!" Like a cockroach or a Brit deprived of fresh air and sun. Sigh.

People are so awesome

Laundry. Food. Visits. Bible studies. I'm surrounded by so many awesome people. It is nice.

The Parking Lot People

An interesting sideline to this story are the Parking Lot People: they are the shiny, happy, pleasantville attendants in the parking lot inside the 1920s art deco medical building. They are ALWAYS nice. ALWAYS helpful. And it only costs like $3 to park there.

My friend Kelly remarked that every car inside the garage was either black or gray. Hers is gray. It started to feel a little weird!

Post-op visit #3: NO MORE PINS!

Before the surgery, my doc told me I wouldn't have to have those screws I'd been readin g about. "I don't leave anything in your foot." Sounded good to me. So it was so strange on that first visit last week when I saw these little thingys protruding from my feet (in between my big & 2nd toe) - what on EARTH could those be?

"Those are your pins." Ah yes - the Pins. No screws - but pins.

Well, I suppose that makes sense, given that they are breaking your feet- your bones gotta know how to grow back! Such detail was not really where I wanted to "go" before the surgery, but now that it's done, bring it on. They broke the bones and reset them. Yippee. No wonder my feet are all black & blue. Suffice to say that when I cognitively was *aware* of the pins, that I became very very clear as to why I had that sharp kind pf pain in a triangular area at the top of my foot. Before learning this, I chalked it up to an amorphous sort of "healing" in "that area" - well now it was crystal clear. And made this day all the more meaningful: the pins were going to be removed! No more pin pain!

Tobee, unlike Kelly and like most people we know, opted not to sit in the room and look. I took one last picture of my feet with pins in them and then thrust my head back while the doc went to work. And it WAS work: it was not a gentle removal of an acupuncture-thin needle. It was a YANK of a strong, thick, sturdy needle that had made its home inside my foot for a while. It was not fun. It surely could not have been pretty.

Once that painful ordeal was done, the prickly pain of pulling out the stitches was NOTHING - heck, it was only skin deep. And the doc then confided that he hates doing the pin thing. "I dislike it more than you, trust me."

Glad he told me when it was done.

You mean I can't just yank this off your foot?

That must have been what my doctor was thinking - otherwise why WOULD he have done that during my 2nd visit? See doc, the thing is, these post-surgical booties have velcro at the bottom AND THE TOP of the foot ...I would have THOUGHT you'd known that from all the patients you see...but you surely must have, well, FORGOTTEN...or, forgot that I just had surgery? Peeling a bootie off the top of a post-bunionectomy foot is not the most kind gesture.

After I got over that shock, it was, however, nice to see the x-rays of me pre-op and on my first post-op visit. That is also when we got to see the "K-Wire" pin inside my foot. My friend Kelly was pretty excited to take it all in. She's a doctor wanna-be. Who else would want to sit IN the room with you and see your Frankensteinian feetsies? Every time they take the bandages off, I am reminded of how little I am bathing and feel like a mummy. My feet are essentially mummys' feet. I have one over on Steve Martin: I gotta "condo mada stona" AND the feet to match.

The Return to the Fortress

This is what my friend Julie named my new place....which has, as my friend Kelly later recited to me (after heaving up a backpack full of groceries) FIFTY-ONE steps (I counted 54 later because I included some shifts & turns she gracefully omitted).

Yes, my friend Lisa came by the Woods, partook in scrumptious Shirley-made fare and took me back to the Fortress, which I ascended gently and gingerly on my derriere. Whoever does crutches UP stairs, let me know 'cuz I don't get that. Though I did ditch the crutches a few days prior anyway - they HURT!

Lisa took great care to make sure things were positioned where I needed them to be: chair in the kitchen, chair in front of the bathroom sink, blankets on the front couch (I have a futon flat on the ground in the bedroom - the bedroom set didn't survive the move), and then it was just me. Here.

I have this thing about sleeping IN your I relented and moved my stuff back there. And I survived!

The drift from gratitude to impatience

It so easily happens! We start to lose sight of all of God's blessings and want to take the reins again. I could see that happening to me as I began to resist the time I was resent not being able to want to complain more readily than sing His praises for all He'd done. The human condition persists.

Follow up appointment #1 and bigger lessons learned

It was great to get a "good report" from the doctor...or at least, as good as I could surmise. He's pretty poker-faced and tight-lipped when I try to ascertain where I stand in the spectrum of things. He finally gave in to saying I was an "A+" at this post-op phase, so I let it go at that.

Even better than the visit was the time I got to spend with Mary Flaherty, who, like Lani, barely knows me and yet made the tiem and effort to serve me (in fact, she is mentoring Lani right now so she is effectively the patron saint of our small group :). She got me there very early, was careful to make sure I was supported at every move, and even invited me back to their beautiful beach-view home in pacifica when we returned before Shirley was back from her errands. It was a great opportunity to share in one another's lives more...something we sadly just don't do in the normal course of things.

That is one big learning from this surgery: that the "normal course of things" squeezes out so much opportunity for blessings: taking time to be with others, serving one another, and - for me - being able to RECEIVE the gifts of others and the gift of "non-productive" time. Lord, let me retain these ever-so-important lessons.

(the other interesting learning being that, even when life is UN-scheduled, we can still choose to squeeze God out by a busy and distracted mind....ah we do need His help so much!!)

Good thing we had the elections

Otherwise I would have been mind-bendingly bored to tears with all of the 'normal' programming television has to offer us these days. Instead, I was able to finally see some checks and balances restored to the U.S. government for the first time in six years. Remember those? We learned about them in elementary school, but we have lacked them for a while. Nice to have them back.

Give-me-the-drugs...and life in a spiritual womb

My friend Lani - saint that she is - after knowing me barely two months, came to get me from the surgery with 1-year-old Cole in tow. He was such a good boy, especially given that he was past due for his lunch by the time Lani was able to get my pain meds from teh pharmacy (my doc sort of forgot to call them in beforehand and that was not something we could just "see" if I could get by without!).

Lani braved the rain to get me the meds and take me down to Pacifica, where I was whisked into the haven of Shirley, Eunice & Lydia Woods' gingerbread home.

It was pure pampering from that point on - both physically and spiritually. Shirley waited on my every need, and it was a complete blessing, after living 5 years with Eunice & Lydia, to be able to get to know Shirley more. I thought she was great beforehand, and I got to test it out for real there. She really IS that great and more. In fact, I think she is one of the most generous people I have ever met. Both with her time and her service - to pray and to serve.

I was a direct recipient of that - and all at a time when she was going through a home sale and preparing for a two-week excursion to Malaysia. There will be many crowns at the thrown with Shirley's print on them!

Day o' the Surgery: November 2

Clearly God was in control. Not only was I able to get the 5:40am bus ON TIME to be at the hospital...but my attending nurse happened to live where? In the Haight. Where? On Clayton. Which part of Clayton? Between Haight & Waller. That would be 639 Clayton. That would be our old place. As Ginny Bunnell used to ask: "Coinkidinky?"

Signing all of the pre-op 'releases' certainly drives home the seriousness of surgery. No wonder I kept confusing anaesthesia with anethenasia....glad it was the former...though the reluctance I had to come "out" of it after the surgery led me to believe they may have goofed a bit. My first post-op memory was looking into my inquiring doc's face and then down at my toes and pointing sternly at them and asking defiantly, "why are they still crooked?"

After all of that hoopla, I wanted beautifully straight toes. But the surgical booties can hide a lot - the good, along with the ugly (Frankensteinian stitches and pins that I woudl later see -fortunately, however, this ugly involved no "bad" in between!).

Bipedal Auston-Chevron Bunionectomy with Osteotomy

or: what my life has been about for the past ~month. Today marks Week Three + 2 days post-op of me deciding to go under the knife.

This is the culmination of a long road: it started with my grandmother...Gramma Brown....who always wore pumps and had the worst bunions ever. Somehow I took up the mantle - I swear it was when I wore those tight Jack Purcell sneakers when I was like 5 - and have had these charming projections from my feet ever since. When my co-worker Gina had the procedure done, I was curious.

I went to her doctor (having felt comfortable that I could ride off of her prodigious due diligence) and he used his standard M.O: don't be knife-happy. Take preventitive steps and monitor. I orthotics...and then finally, about 1.5 years later, he proudly pronounced that I was getting to an "advanced" stage. One of those rare situations where "advanced" is not a badge of honor.

Sadly my own experience corroborated this: I was starting to feel pain, despite my religious foot massages every night (ask my former roomies: they'll tell you I worked my toes for ten minutes regardless of what was going on!), it was time to accept the fact, suck it up and do it. Stay tuned....