Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Day to Remember

Just a Perfect Picture

For Memorial Day my friend sent me this picture. It is of a member of the USMC mounted patrol with his son, but better yet, apparently the horse is an American mustang. Just gotta love it!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Fan Club

Barn Job of the Day

Church in the morning and lunch afterwards took up most of the very hot Sunday.

I figured it was time to set up the fans for the Boys.  Leave it to me to have not thought out the storage well enough during the winter to keep the fans free of hay and dust.  Essentially, I had to take apart two of them to clean out all the collected debris.  They are all working, despite some missing knobs.  Each Boy has a stall on the floor in front of his stall gate, and I leave them on all day when it's hot.  The biggest benefit is that they do blow the bugs away, adding to the shelter of the barn.

Tucker took to his right away and stood at his door, taking in the breeze.  Toby, on the other hand, eyed his suspiciously and left the stall until he was sure it was not some sort of mechanical monster in attack mode.  Chance just waiting patiently until  had his set in place and then kind of stood there, thinking.

That task done, I fed the Boys and then headed out to the swimming pool.  Today I did nine laps of crawl stroke, I lap of sidestroke, and some 100 bicycle kicks at the edge of the pool.  I'll swim again tomorrow, and then perhaps go to the indoor pool during the week for at least one more swim.  I guess three times a week will do until the outdoor pool opens on a daily basis.

I still have a lot of outdoor work to do to keep me exercised and, of course, and entire house to clean before my September surgery.

I guess if I tackle at least one job a day, I just may get it all done and still have some energy left.  And, gee, maybe I could get a ride in now and then--knees permitting.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Back in the Swim of Things

Hot Enough for Summer

It was definitely hot today with temperatures up around 90.

I kind of crashed for most of the morning as I hadn't slept well last night.

But then, I decided I might as well go over to the pool on opening day to see how the water was. Well, the answer is: delightful!!  It took a little courage to jump in, but once I was wet and swimming, it felt wonderful!

I sort of did my ten laps--twenty lengths of the pool--varying my strokes because I am not quite up to keeping my modified crawl stroke the whole time.  Then, while I thought about doing more, I climbed out and headed for the lazy river for a few rides around on the tubes.  That is always nice and relaxing and it lets me take a little sun. Again, though, I was cautious and only took two turns which was about 15-20 minutes.  Enough sun for the first time out.

I didn't try the showers there as last year, the hot water was not turned on until the pool was open daily--right now it's only weekends. But I hopped in my own shower at home as soon as I got back into the house. The pool smelled very much like chlorine and I wanted to get my hair washed with Ultraswim shampoo before it was damaged.  I am going to wet my head and use some conditioner before the next time I swim so it won't be as bad.  Usually the pool does not seem to be as strong with the chemicals, but it was the first day they were open.

I had the whole pool to myself by the end of my swim.  While there were quite a few people there, there didn't seem to be many swimmers.  There were children in the wading pool, but the adults seemed to prefer sunning to swimming.  Could be the water felt cold if you were not exercising, but it was nearly perfect for a workout.

I was glad I didn't do more. When I got home, my knees were really "tight" and my legs felt really tired.  I did manage to clear one wheelbarrow full out of Chance's stall--his is the last to be stripped--but again, I decided to be conservative, so I didn't do any more.

As I was feeding the Boys, a thunderstorm was threatening in the west, and I though we were really going to get hit, but all we got were a few drops of rain, some distant noise, and nothing more.  The weather radar showed a big storm just missing us.

At this point, that's OK by me.  The lawn looks as if it needs mowing again already.  If the pasture is growing like that as well--I really haven't checked--the Boys will have some nice grazing in between mosquito attacks.
They were out there as the storm seemed to rise since there was a pretty strong breeze.

I've brought the extension cords up from the basement so I can set up the fans at the stalls.  Hopefully that will help blow out the bugs and give the Boys a break.

I have vowed to ride next week, but I don't know how much. As noted, my knees are really tight, and when they are not stiff, they really ache.  I'm hoping the swimming will eventually help, but we'll have to see.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bless the Tractor

Short Work of a Big Job

My front end loader is a treasure. It made short work of cleaning out the west side run in shed today.  Unlike the east side that was filled with old hay, built up over the winter, the west side was mostly an accumulation of manure.  I'd been cleaning it until things froze, then, cleaned as much as I could. But then, of course, I hurt my back and it rained a lot.

The Boys were hanging out under the roof and left it quite a mess.  However, it was no challenge for Kubota.  We were done in quick time with just a few places where I had to use the pitchfork to fill the loader.

I still need to strip Toby's stall and Chance's stall and the east run in shed needs another cleaning as the Boys have been dragging hay out there again. A couple more productive days and things will be under control outside the barn.

Inside is another story as I have a pile of sheets and blankets to be sorted and cleaned. And, I need to clean the fans so I can set them at the Boys' stall doors to give them some breezes for the hot weather.

It was pretty warm today, into the upper 80's at least with humidity.  Actually, I didn't mind too much as tractor driving is not as hot as wheelbarrow work.

And since the swimming pool opens this weekend--it will just be open on weekends until the end of the school term in June--if the sun heats up the water a bit, I will be able to get some swimming in.

I think I need to do something with the Boys too. When I started working with the tractor, Chance and Tucker were in definite snoopervisory mode.  Toby came out for a while, but lost interest fairly soon. But Tucker was nearly on top of the tractor as I was trying to work.  I had to keep chasing him off so I could maneuver.  I guess the tractor was the best entertainment he'd had in a long while.

He finally gave up when I didn't let him drive.

Maybe next time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nothing New

But I Did Mow the Lawn

In between rainstorms, I managed to mow the lawn. However, when I took out the Bolens--the lawn tractor just repaired--the mower deck was not working!! It was acting a bit "funny" the last time I used it--threatening to shut off in the heavier grass. This was a problem it had last year that the repair shop fixed.  I am wondering now if whether when they pulled the engine to fix the tractor's latest issue something was not properly connected?

Anyhow, that left me with the John Deere and three flat tires.  I got them pumped back up with the compressor and then could not start the tractor because the battery was dead.  I am pretty much prepared for most contingencies, so I hooked up the battery charger and went off to do some errands.

I stopped at my hay man across the way to pay my bill and we sat and chatted for quite a while. He is an industrial developer and we talked about the pending application for the concrete plant in the middle of the parkland. I got some valuable insight and opinions.  We had the hearing on Thursday night, but, as I've said, the public comment portion is not done yet, so any information I can gather to help me make my case is good.

Then I went to the feed store to get some alfalfa cubes for the Boys.

I am feeling really sorry for the Boys. They seem to be spending most of their time in the barn, hiding out in the stalls. I'm not sure what bugs are bothering them, but I'm pretty sure it's the mosquitoes. With all the rain, the little blood suckers are breeding like crazy.  I do have fly sheets on everyone but I also may need to go to the heavier duty models--the PVC vinyl ones.  It could be that the mesh on the orange ones is not fine enough.

I have Mosquito Halt spray, which is the best for keeping mosquitoes at bay, but again, I hate to overuse it as it's pretty powerful stuff.  And, I can always set the fans in front of the stalls to help blow the bugs out, but that doesn't make it any more pleasant for the Boys outside.

I think I need to see if my fogger is working and do some fogging at least around the barn.  I'd do inside too, but I now have four or more nesting pairs of barn swallows with hatchlings and I certainly don't want to poison them.

I so enjoy the noisy little birds in the barn despite some of the mess they make.  They are good bug catchers and they always have a comment to make when I'm inside. They don't seem to dive bomb me or the horses, but if one of the outside kitties goes in there, they are ever ready to defend the home territory. You have to admire their courage.

In the meantime, I do wonder what they are saying in all the chatter when they see me. I'd hope there's a bit of welcome, but I'm not so sure. Maybe if I learn to listen, I'll get some more ideas for how to keep the evil developers out of the natural environment. *G*

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chicken Salad and Weeds

Grazing is Good

With all the rain, the grass seems to be growing like...well weeds. So are the weeds, at least around the house. I went out to clean off a mat with the hose and found myself waist deep in weeds by the back porch.  I pulled a few, washed off the mat and then got out the trust weed whacker--string trimmer--and attacked. Then I headed out to the barn, near the water trough, and trimmed some pretty big weeds there too. I just made a dent in the overall weed crop, but those two places do look better.

The lawn needs a mowing, but it is still too wet. On the positive side, as far as the Boys are concerned, the pasture seems to be doing well enough to keep them happy for most of the day.  In between the mosquito assaults and the rain showers, they head out to graze and it took a bit of noise on my part to get them in at feed time.  But then, Toby took the lead in a canter and soon all three trotted into their stalls for a bite to eat.

I am cleaning out--full stripping--the stalls a bit at a time so I don't throw my back out. A few more days, and things will be under control, but by then I am going to have to do the front run-in shed again as Toby and Tucker seems to drag their hay out there.  And the other side of the barn needs a good cleaning as well--a job done relatively easily with the tractor.  I do have to wait a bit for the mud to dry up, though, as it's rather soggy out there after week of rain, with more to come.

Meanwhile, inside, I made up a batch of chicken salad, finishing off the chicken breast I'd bought.  This time, though, I added apples, grapes and nuts to make it a chickem waldorf salad. I think I have mastered a pretty good recipe of my own.  I finished off a nice plate with some salad greens and it was quite tasty.  I have enough left for tomorrow too, if I don't dig into it before I go to bed. Tempting, I fear.

I took a couple pictures of Patches, the now indoor cat last night. It was dark and I didn't do anything to adjust the focus, so they are a bit blurred due to the low light, but he was just sitting at my feet looking cute, so I figured he deserved a moment of fame. So here he is:
Some of that is belly and some of it is fur....you guess which. *G*

Friday, May 20, 2011

Quarantine in New Jersey

Equine Herpes is Here Too

Two farms in New Jersey are under quarantine for the Herpes virus, so it has spread throughout the country. As I recall, we had a similar outbreak last year around this time. My boys are not going anywhere, and I will make sure both my vet and farrier have not been anywhere near those farms before they touch my horses. It is ever a worry, of course. Hopefully, our general isolation will keep my little herd safe.

Meanwhile, amidst the repeating rainstorms, I drove down to the orthopedic surgeon who works out of Philadelphia. More X-rays confirmed what I already know and he agreed I need knee replacements. This surgeon will replace both my knees at the same time and he does recommend it in some cases--my specific situation is an example. He agreed with me that doing one at a time could pose some problems as the untreated knee would be hard pressed to do its job while the replaced knee was undergoing healing and physical therapy.

I have tentatively scheduled surgery for early September, since they apparently get pretty busy around that time of year and making plans now was a good idea.

There will be a short hospital stay and then a period of time in a rehab facility, but once I am home, I will be able to walk about...with a walker at first and then a cane. When I asked about going out to feed the horses, he said that would be fine--I'd just have to make sure I kept the incisions clean--and that kind of activity was actually good as physical activity was a plus to recovery. I figure too that being motivated to get out there three times a day to feed the Boys would be pretty powerful motivation for me to use my legs.

I will need someone to do the heavy chores, of course, and I've contacted a "horsesitter," for that. Once I am home, if she can come perhaps once a day to do stalls and make sure there is hay in the barn for me so I don't have to carry it--or even every other day--that should work out just fine. If some of my friends want to take on some of the tasks, that's fine too, but so far, bases are covered.

Since my knees have really been bothering me lately, I am actually looking forward to the prospect of new ones.  My doctor did ask me if I knew anyone who had had two replacements who rode.  Guess I need to do some research. He suspected it would take a bit of time before I was able to ride as well as I had before after the replacements. On the plus side again, since I have been riding for nearly 50 years, the process is well programmed into my body. Hopefully, I will be able to use a lot of physical recall when the time comes.

Plan is in action. Swimming in the summer--if it ever gets warm enough--will help me be as fit as possible before the surgery, so that is step one.  We'll see how it goes from there.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

All Is Well and All Is Wet!

A Week of Rain

We are apparently caught in a wet spell for the week at least. Fortunately, I do not see any flooding in my immediate area such as parts of the country are having, but some of the downpours might create some floods in low lying areas and, of course, near rivers and streams. I will just have to cope with Lake Follywood in my riding arena and mud puddles everywhere else.

My concert was a success and fun. I received a lot of nice compliments afterwards.  I really enjoy singing the songs--all written back in the late 1800's--settings of Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses."  OF course my accompanist and I did a lot of preparatory work and rehearsing, but a good performance, enjoyed by the audience is always worth the effort.

Today, I spent the morning getting a headlamp replaced on my car and then researching documents at the Township tracing the history of the proposed concrete batch plant. It was quite a detective adventure with mixed success.  All in all we got some very useful information and developed a bit of expertise on how the whole mess started back in 1965.

Then, my accompanist/choir director called to ask me if I wanted to come over for dinner. He'd made a roast beef for our last rehearsal on Saturday and had since purchased a deli slicer to slice it up for sandwiches. Since he had a fair chunk of beef left, he needed some "help" eating it. Three of us for sandwiches still did not finish the meat, but we made some good headway. Then we watched a movie and here I am, back home, blogging in the middle of the night...again.

Another busy day, but at least the rain did not stop me from accomplishing something worthwhile.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Busy, With All Kinds of Stuff

And the Boys Are Fine

Somewhat not neatly dressed in their orange flysheets, the Boys are doing just fine, thank you.  They still seem to be hanging out in the barn a lot to escape the mosquitoes, but I do think the sheets are helping.

Well, at least helping where the mesh is intact and not full of gaping holes.  Soft mesh flysheets just do not have much "staying power" around playful horses.  I much prefer the vinyl mesh ones for the season, but the orange ones were more easily sorted out of my "blanket pile," so that's what we're using.  Last year's sheets may need a bit of repair here and there in the meantime.  Or, I may have to buy some replacements.  It's a matter of taking a good honest look at them to see what we can use and what needs to be tossed out.  The vinyl mesh does not repair well, and most of the time, once one of those sheets is ripped, it's a goner.

Meanwhile, I have been rehearsing for a concert I am giving tomorrow.  My pianist and I discovered yesterday that we needed some more practice in the room where we will be performing, so we have another rehearsal today.  I spent the morning at church already attending a memorial service for a friend's father.  There was a nice luncheon afterwards and I got to talk to a number of people I haven't seen in a while.

I''ll feed the Boys and head back for the rehearsal. I figure we will iron out all the little problems we uncovered yesterday so that Sunday will go well.

My back is feeling a bit better, although not yet 100%, and my knees are just....well, my knees--sometimes good, sometimes bad.  The weather has been almost ideal for riding and I'm just not up to it.  Here's hoping the coming week brings some more inspiration to get into the saddle.

Some pictures of the Boys trimming my grass on the back lawn.

And finally, some violets on the lawn.  By the way, the wild violet i the New Jersey Sate Flower.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

In the Swim

A Day At School

I substituted yesterday.


I realized I haven't done sines and cosines since 1969 or so and geometry?  Well, I have used some geometric principles now and then, but this was way beyond the basics.

Now, wait a minute...geometry! I taught some in my English classes! When we were studying the King Arthur legend, one of the readings mentioned that the Round Table seated 150 knights.  As many of you know, legends and myths often exaggerate reality, so the trick here was to figure out just how big this table would be. Figuring the distance around--the circumference--is not the issue here. We figured a knight might need about two feet of space to sit--a big guy might need more, but let's be conservative. So that means the table for 150 knights would have to be 300 feet around. That doesn't tell us much about the size of the table as it's kind of hard to envision. So, how wide is the table? Would it fit in the classroom?

Geometry needed.  The formula for circumference is pi (3.14) X the diameter. Aha! We need to figure the diameter--the distance across the widest part of the table.  So, the circumference (300) divided by pi (3.14) will give us the answer. (A little algebra thrown in for good measure.)

To save you the trouble, the table would be at least 95 feet across.  I'm not even sure such a table would fit in our school cafeteria--at least not with any extra room to move around it.

This was one of those clever "cross curricula" moments in class where English and Math united and my students were actually able to see a practical application for some  of that "stuff" they'd learned in class. It was also one of my favorite lessons because even the best math students had to think a little to figure it all out, and since most of them, as seniors had not had geometry since the tenth grade--two years before--they often had to search their brains for the right formulas.

Nothing like that happened yesterday, but it did make me think about all the things I once learned in school that I have forgotten since. At the time, my quest for grades helped inspire me to learn, but so much of that learning has since vanished because I have had no practical application of it in my life.

Which somehow leads me to the swimming pool after school, where I managed 10 leisurely laps with some breaks in between.  Every time I start swimming again after a layoff, I am overcome by just how good it feels.

But, even the swim did not quite fix my back. It had be bothering me all day.  I finally lucked out and got a chiropractor's appointment in the evening. This time it wasn't my pelvis, but two lower vertebrae I'd managed to twist out of position.  I'm adjusted now, and feeling better, but not quite fully recovered--AGAIN!! That back muscle of mine is still irritated and complaining.

I really do need to finish some barn chores, but it looks as if I am headed for another "disability" day here at Follywoods.  Fortunately, the Boys are happy, sleek and sassy.

The only negative is that Chance still has mosquito bites. All three horses seem to be hiding out in the stalls when the pesky critters are out looking for blood.  I do have a good spray called, "Mosquito Halt" that helps, but like most horse sprays, it doesn't seem to have much "staying power."  I hate to use it too much, simply because over time it can cause skin reactions.

Perhaps it's time to put on the flysheets and hope for the best. It just seems so early in the year for that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Vet Visit

Naughty and Nice

My vet, Dr. Klayman, came yesterday morning to do spring shots, sheath cleaning, and teeth floating.  All three Boys were due so it was bit of an assembly line.

Chance was first and was a good patient...mostly.  Dr. Klayman did say he needed to lose some weight--no surprise there. I will cut down on his feed and try to work him some more.  He's one of those horses that's an easy keeper, I guess.  All went well until it came time for his strangles vaccine.  This is a nasal vaccine and Chance did not like it AT ALL.  He had been tranquilized for his teeth floating and sheath cleaning, but whatever the doctor gave him had worn off by vaccine time.

Dr. Klayman has a wonderful horsewoman assistant with him--Mary-- and Dr. Klayman himself is a strong 5'10" man, but Chance certainly gave them both a fling around the stall.  He was simply as naughty as he could be, flinging his head, his body and the two handlers around in circles--even with a chain over his gums as a last resort.  He certainly is an opinionated boy when he doesn't like something.  Next time, I think that vaccine will be administered first--as soon as the tranquilizer takes effect.

Tucker was next and he was really well behaved.  For some reason, his eye was soft when he saw the doctor and he really was cute and curious about everything.  At least until he needed some extra dental work.  Two of his rear molars had hooks on them that needed to be ground down.  Years ago, my Russell R. had the same problem--a slight parrot mouth that kept the rear molars from lining up properly.  Back then my vet used a pair of tooth nippers to clip them. Dr. Klayman says the electric grinder is much better because there is much less chance of cracking the tooth which sometimes happens with the nippers.

Tuck did not like the machine and started snorting.  Clearly, the tranquilizer was not doing the job.  He needed two more doses before he was drowsy enough to accept the grinder so the job could be done.  Dr. Klayman said that not only did the molars cut into the upper gums, but they could be very uncomfortable when the horse needed to go on the bit. I will be interested to see if Tucker is better in the mouth now when I ride him.

That left Toby--The Prince. What can I say?  While Dr. Klayman said his weight was "beautiful" (By the way, Tucker's weight was "perfect.")  we both agreed we'd like to see him with more fat for the winter.  I'll be upping his feed again to see if I can get some more weight on him.  He's certainly not skinny, but older horses can use the extra calories.

At any rate, The Prince, lived up to his reputation. He was just about perfect for everything and passed his tooth check with flying colors.  He did not put a foot wrong and was the angel of the barn.  He has always been pretty good to handle, but age and experience have certainly taught him that medical treatment is usually nothing to fear and an important part of his health and well-being.

Two out of three isn't bad.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Bit Of Lungeing

Tucker and Chance on the Line

Church and lunch afterwards took up a good part of day. Since it was Mother's Day, the diner was very busy so we had a wait.  I did have a nice salad bar lunch so it was worth the time, though.

Afternoon had worn on by the time I got home. I settled in for some computer time and eventually headed out to the barn to do something with the Boys.

I decided to lunge, again because my knees are hurting and I still think I am in "X-ray" shock from what the doctor said.  Oh, yes, I also did a lot of research on knee replacements and the best places to go.  The top surgical center is in New York City.  That is a major hassle as far as I am concerned. Getting into and out of the city is a challenge.  Public transportation for this kind of thing is out of the question, so that leaves driving in and out. And, since I would not be able to drive with the surgery, that means getting someone to drive for me. That might be OK for one or two trips in, but this procedure has follow up visits, so that is imposing an awful lot on the kindness of friends.

Another friend recommended a surgical center in Philadelphia. Again, that's a hassle, but perhaps not quite as daunting as New York. And some of the Philly doctors have offices in New Jersey, so I might be able to do follow ups there.

The local doctor I already met with is certainly qualified, but two things are putting me off a bit. The first is that he will not do both knees at one time.  Both my chiropractor and physical therapist think that is the way to go for some pretty solid reasons. The second "put off," was his reaction to the idea of riding. When I did my research on the Internet, I found no less than four reputable sites that say horseback riding is actually a recommended exercise after TKR surgery.  Now, I wouldn't mind this too much, but apparently riding USED to be a no-no and it's only within the last five years or so that it has been put on the good exercise list. I wish this doctor knew this.

So much for the knees. On to the horses!!

I lunged Tucker first and he was really a good boy this time. The fun part was doing a lot of transitions trot/canter/trot.  He was almost instantly obedient to my voice commands, doing 6-9 strides in each gait before the transition.  He was super responsive.  Then I set up a one foot high little "jump" for him just to keep him entertained.  Unlike the other day, he was quiet and lovely going over it on the right rein. On the left, he got a bit silly and started some of the bucking after the jump, but he was very much under my control, so it didn't matter. Since we finished up with a nice quiet jump again, it was just fine that he played a bit.

I did basically the same routine with Chance.  He too was very responsive on the transitions up and down, again, just on my voice commands. His jumping was very relaxed and I had to push him to keep him forward, but by the end of the little session, he was doing a nice soft canter to the fence, jumping and then cantering softly off without too much "push" from me.

All and all we had nice little workouts from some very well behaved horses.

Good for a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Weed Whacking

At Least I Did Something Productive

I weed whacked the front bank today.  It wasn't quite the task it's been in the past as the road salt and snow plow cuts seems to have killed a lot of the grass and weeds that grow up there.  Good and bad consequences of a miserable winter, I fear.

Then I trimmed around the trees in front and left it at that.  Using the weed whacker makes my arms go numb after a while.  I had about enough energy to clean some of Toby's stall, although I still have more to do as it needs to be stripped.

Fed the Boys with the intent of going back out to lunge when I suddenly remembered that it was Kentucky Derby Day!!  This year's race was wide open,  with no superstars in the line up.  That kind of makes it fun because you never quite know what could happen.

I do had to admit that Wild Kingdom won impressively, pulling away from the field at the end. He has very few races under him, so he was a bit of a surprise. But he did look good.

Not likely that he will win the Triple Crown, but you never know. Let's just say that when the Preakness rolls around there will be at least one horse everyone will be rooting for!!
Colorful silks!  Wild Kingdom wins the 2011 Kentucky Derby.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Windy Day

But Nice

Still, I did not ride. I think now that I know how bad my knees are, I am less inspired than ever.

But I will ride soon. Today the wind was pretty strong most of the day. It died down as the afternoon wore on, but I decided the dandelions on the front lawn were a bit out of hand. It was starting to look as if the house were abandoned, since the lawn was so untidy.

I took out the newly resurrected mower and off I went. It's far from a good job, mostly because the fallen tree branches are still in the way as I haven't quite managed to move them out.  That is another rather  big job to tackle.  Still, I neatened up the yard a bit.  I really do need to go out and week whack along that darn front bank already, but that is a weekend job.  If I tackle it during the weekdays I will get mowed down by speeding cars and trucks along the road.

And my back is a little out of sorts too. I have a chiropractor appointment for tomorrow, so that will fix things--just enough so I can go out, do some chores and throw it out again. *G*

I may check with the lawn firm that cuts my Aunt's lawn next door to get an estimate, as they do week whacking and trimming as a matter of course, but funds are tight, and I'm not sure I can afford hired help.

Meanwhile, I will muddle along, doing a fair job of making the place look tidy.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

"Kneed" I Say More

Medical Report

OK, so I met with the orthopedic surgeon this morning. He is a young man, fine by me, with a long list of credentials.

He asked me about my knees, and I gave him the history. I mentioned that I'd been treated with prolotherapy and PRP therapy, but no longer felt it was doing much good. He was a bit skeptical about those approaches, but I know they worked, so I just told him that.  He asked the famous question about how much pain on I had on a daily basis...that scale of 1-10.  I never know how to answer.  I just told him that they hurt most of the time.

Then, he said I needed some new x-rays and off he went while I got the pictures taken.

Well, tune changed when he came back in to see me after looking at the pictures. In his words, my knees are beyond repair.  They are completely "bone on bone," on the inside of the joint, and there is arthritis elsewhere.  When he did a brief physical exam, he was a bit taken aback by how unstable the joints are--far too easy to move about. But, again to a bit of surprise, I have plenty of flexibility in that both knees can bend to their full extent.

At this point, aside from painkillers, total knee replacements are my only option, so it's just a matter of when.

As Jen so wisely commented on my last "knee" post, this doctor does not do two knees at the same time.  Three days hospital recovery is the norm, as is about a week in a rehab facility when the patient, like me, lives alone, although I could cut that shorter if I were able to demonstrate an ability to care for myself.  Then, usually a therapist comes to the home for some in house PT and then PT outside afterwards until the knee is at its best.

The only dispute, was about riding post-surgery. This doctor seems to think it's not a good idea, but my research on the Internet is quite the contrary. As a matter of fact, horseback riding is one of the recommended low impact exercises for TKR (total knee replacement) patients.  Of course, falling off a horse is NOT recommended, but I would not exactly plan on much of that.

The doctor was very surprised that I could ride at all now, considering the state of my knees at the moment.  Well, that only means one of two things to me: Either I have an amazing ability to do the impossible, or riding is not as big a stress on the knees as my doctor supposes.

Anyhow, there are some big logistical problems to sort out. First, of course, is the horse care during my layup.  The doctor again said I would not be able to take care of the horses for at least six weeks of recovery.  But then I asked if that all I needed to do was go out to feed them, if that was OK.  That, he seemed to think, would be fine once I was able to walk around safely.

Fact is, if I had to, I could do that on crutches.  So, it looks as if as long as I am home, I can do the basics as long as I can get someone to do the heavy work including stall cleaning.  Hopefully, I can figure something out.

I am semi-upset by all of this, mostly because of the time I will need for my own layup.  In some ways, doing only one knee at a time is probably better, but it does take longer. On the other hand, I would be more mobile sooner, so that's a plus.  I am also a bit surprised myself at just how bad my knees actually are.  I did not see the X-rays myself...a little frustrating, but the computer was not loading them...but they must have been pretty bad from the reaction my doctor had. I am rather surprised that I am actually able to do as much as I do now. It's going to be darn incredible to have new knees after all this!

I am currently thinking of perhaps one replacement in September, and the second soon after...or a wait until spring if it looks like we will have another bad winter. I do not want to be laid up during a blizzard.  Not only would it be nearly impossible for me to get out to the barn myself, but there would be no way for someone else to get in here to take care of the Boys in a bad snowstorm. As noted, I plan on swimming this summer, so that's out as an option.  Besides, I also figure that a summer of swimming will get me fit, a little thinner, and in a much better physical state to face the surgeries.

So that's where things stand. I have a lot to think about.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Stunning News

Up Nearly All Night
I fell asleep on the couch last night with the TV on, only to be awakened by the stunning news that Osama Bin Laden was dead.

I am not one to rejoice at the death of any man, even the most evil of men liked him who could mastermind the destruction of the World Trade Center, the attack on the Pentagon, and the horrific end of Flight 93.  As a terrorist leader, Bin Laden was responsible for the death of thousands of people who had no defense and no expectation whatsoever that they were targets for his hate.

But, as corrupt as he was in my eyes, in his own vision, he was a defender of his faith and political beliefs. I cannot help but think his extremism was far from normal, and certainly inhuman.  I condemn his actions, but his death still is a tragic end.  How dreadfully sad for the world that we cannot find better ways to end hatred.

Violence and terrorism are horrible results of a world which has somehow lost its soul. Desperate madmen have resorted to murder and destruction time and time again throughout history in order to fight for their misguided beliefs.  One of the worse consequences is that the rational world is forced to almost the same tactics in order to stop them.

I do not grieve that Osama Bin Laden is dead. He does not deserve my sorrow. I do grieve for the world he forced upon us. We should be able to be better than that.

And so, I offer a prayer for my country, for the brave soldiers who raided the compound, our leaders, and for the world itself. May we all somehow find a way to live together without hate.