Thursday, June 14, 2012

Back in the saddle

Let me tell you, it is not easy to work fulltime, get to the gym (which if I am truthful, I have not really done this week), see your husband and family and also write a blog! 

The last 10 days have been busy.  Work is not quite as hectic as I had worried it would be; however, there is still an awful lot of clean up to be done.  So many mistakes, compounded mistakes, now have to be unravelled and sorted out.  Plus the auditor hasn't stopped calling and they've already missed their deadline.

Having said that, I did manage to leave on time.  Every. Single. Day.  You have no idea what an accomplishment that is in itself - leaving work when the sun is still somewhere above the horizon!  I also took a lunch break, almost every day.  Last week, I even went for a walk on the beach a few times at lunchtime and hit the gym 3 times - including my first swim in 4 months and my first spinning class in 2 years.  This week, I skipped lunch twice and never made it to the gym (but that was partly a conscious choice as I had a feeling that I'd overdone it a bit the previous week.  Still working on that balance thing.)  But I did leave on time, so all in all, I consider it a result.

On the down side, my back hurt and worse, the pain in my side returned (although this has subsequently subsided), I'm guessing from sitting in the chair for such long periods. Now I set my phone alarm to remind me to get up and move every few hours.  But even that is hard and disruptive.  Maybe I'll go over to Dr. Gav and see if there is a back support for an office chair that can help.

And today, I crossed the final barrier. So far, I've taken the 61 bus every day to & from the office.  Believe me, that is no joy-ride.  Today, I rode my motorbike for first time.  I was a tiny bit nervous and so, despite the hot weather, I wore my protective armour (coat and gloves).  Aside from boiling at the red lights, it was great. Especially since raising my leg back onto the bike from a standing position at the lights was not a painful effort.  But the best part, (and this is hard to describe to non-riders) is the freedom you feel riding a motorbike.  It's exhilaratingly liberating.  There is nothing like it.  So glad to be back!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

On blogging

Tuesday was my first full day back at work, so it seems I'm coming to the end of my chronicle of recovery.  Although my muscles are still ramping up to normality, I am certainly able to do just about everything I did before the arthritis disabled me. 

The question is whether to continue writing or not.  And if so, which direction to take?  
As you know, in my free time, I do enjoy reading blogs.  While it's true, there is a load of crap out there in cyberspace, there is also a fair share of good writers. And as always, although I don't always like what they write, I am sometimes jealous of their names and the singular clarity of their focus (not to mention their inevitable book-deals!).

For instance, there is The Pioneer Woman- who I actually liked until I read the post about taking her little boys shooting.  Or the Yarn Harlot - good name and a great blog too.  If you like reading about what someone else is knitting.  Not necessarily a spectator sport. I am also partial to some good cooking/baking bloggers as well:  Smitten Kitchen for one.  (I am a bad blogger and am not linking to any of them.  Forgive me but I'm guessing that none of you are really interested.)

I admit to still reading Weddingbee.  My addiction started when Little Mama was planning her own wedding and I got overly attached to some of those blogging brides.  Especially the ones, bless them, who wrote lovingly of their own MOBs.  And f**k off to the ones who were irritated by their own mothers over-involvement or wanting to invite more than their allotted number of guests or interfere in choosing their dresses/hairstyle/linens etc.  In truth, some of them are so young and immature, that I skip over them, but there are definitely some intelligent and interesting brides out there and I do like reading them.   Plus the pictures are beautiful.

The bloggers who I enjoy reading most are well-written, thoughtful ladies over a certain age. (Ahem.) Mostly they write about style, fashion and beauty after forty.  Subjects which, thinking about it, are somewhat superficial, yet these women are bright, amazing writers and I like reading what they have to say.  Nearly all of them occasionally write about what it is like living where they do and they live in some fascinating places:  the countryside around Paris, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, 

Also there are some hilariously funny bloggers out there writing about pregnancy and parenthood. While I like reading those sometimes, I'm way passed that stage of life.  So naturally, I recently looked up blogging grandmothers and while there are some out there, none who I actually enjoyed reading.  Hmmm, perhaps that's the niche to go for? 

Based on all of this, it's clear that my continued blog should be called: Bubbi-licious Expat or something to that effect.  Well I will have to give this some more thought.  Check this space - you're not quite done with me yet!  

(Yes, Prof. Palmtree said he would not operate on me just so that I could 
wear high heels again.  But guess what?! How's that for fashion over fifty?!)

Monday, June 4, 2012

My final free day

Saturday marked the end of the 12th week.  I've come full circle.  And tomorrow I will, reluctantly, go back to work.  Today is my last free day *sniff*.   I intend to go down to cafe for one last cup of coffee and granola cookie, then I will bake a cake to take to the office tomorrow, as a thank you, mainly to my replacement.  And if time allows, I will go to the gym for one last unrestricted (time-wise) workout & jacuzzi soak.  Hopefully that will gear me up for re-entry into the rat race.

One day last week, I was at the gym and headed towards, what I thought was, an elliptical machine.  Given that the three month restrictive period was now over, I was keen to take on one of the aerobic machines that I've avoided for quite some time now.  On the machine next to mine was a woman of similar age.  She was strongly built, wearing a bandanna and sweating up a storm.  A real amazon.  As I stepped up onto the machine, she looked over at me and said "Have you had a hip replacement?"

What?!  How on earth could she possibly have known?  I was stunned but admitted that, yes, I had.  She asked me how long since my surgery and I told her "12 weeks, but how did you know?"  She explained that she was an instructor at the gym (she gives an elliptical class and showed me the right machine & how to use it) and that she needed the same operation but was afraid to take the leap.  Funnily enough, she said that someone had recommended that she see Prof. Palmtree.  Needless to say, I spent the next 40 minutes encouraging her to do it.  "You won't regret it." I said "I'll see you here in 6 more months, when I come to your class!"

After talking to her, I realized how far I've come in the past 3 months, so today, I thought I'd sum up my experiences and give some advice to anyone who stumbles onto this blog:
  • If I knew beforehand just how much blood I would lose and how anemic I'd become, I would have prepared a unit or two of my own blood for a transfusion.  That was one of the most debilitating things about my recovery. 
  • In the hospital and at home, I walked barefoot always. (All my PT's agreed on this point.) But for going out walking, get elasticized shoelaces (for triathelon runners).  They were the smartest thing I got. In fact, I'd recommend this to just about anyone who can't bend over.
  • The raised mattress and toilet seat were a must.  I like them so much, I think I may keep them like this.
  • Use the medication wisely.  Taper off the pain killers gradually (In hindsight, I think some of my white nights were actually due to stopping (i.e. withdrawal) the Tramadol all at once). Take sleeping pills if you need to, in order to get as much sleep as you need.  But get off the meds are quickly as possible. 
  • I saw this as a project and I was determined to walk and exercise as much as possible. So it was depressing and disheartening when I just couldn't do that. As I've said, you never know when you've done too much, until it's too late. It's important to find a balance between pushing yourself and not overdoing it. Walk as much as possible and exercise as long as you have no pain. But try to do a little bit more every day.
  • Comply with the restrictions, no matter how tempting it is to start doing things early.  The last thing you want is a set-back or dislocation.  Have patience.  When I stopped obsessing thinking about and anticipating certain goals, I often found I could do them when I came back to them in time.
  • My most invaluable tip of all would have to be - get a Bear!  And by that, I mean ensure that you have a really good support system of people around to help you do the little every day things (cook, clean etc) so that you can focus on recovery.
  • Lastly, be good to yourself!
I leave you today with a before & after pic:

(Day 1: immobile )


(Day 90: after 3 km walk)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Yoga, on the beach, at sunset

The other day, M invited me to a yoga class on the beach at sunset.  A friend of hers recently started teaching yoga classes and she was giving a free class to promote her new business.  Beach, yoga, sunset? It was an irresistible offer!

Naturally, I was a tiny bit nervous about doing all the movements but I decided that anything that I couldn't do, I just wouldn't.  I was hopeful that there would be enough poses that I could handle.

We got to the beach around 6:30.  It was a windy afternoon and the beach was nearly deserted. The sea was a dark shade of blue. Robust waves pitched onto the beach with a thunderous crash.  The sun low in the cloud-scattered sky.  Excellent weather for a sunset.

The instructor began. It was hard to hear her over the din of the waves, especially because she was so gentle.  Both her voice and her manner.  It was the precise style of yoga required for my first class in more than 18 months, slow and deliberate.  Focus on breathing, nothing too strenuous.  I managed to do most of the positions.  The only thing I skipped was the chair pose, a sort-of squat, mainly because I feared getting back up.  And although I did get into the tree pose, I quickly abandoned it on the left side. It was simply too much weight bearing on my hip joint.

The sun dipped just below the horizon as we laid down on the sand to relax at the end of the hour-long session.  It was a wonderful re-introduction to Yoga.  My goal when I return to work next week, is to get to the Wednesday morning yoga class in the gym at my office.  It won't be nearly as nice as it was on the beach, but it will definitely help my further my recovery progress.

For now, I'll leave you with a few pictures of a most enjoyable evening.

(me and my fellow yogis in the Triangle pose)

(Dear Friend M in the Lotus position)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Beach Day

(walking towards the Med in Tel Aviv)

My dear friend R came to pick me. "I'll take you anywhere you want to go, other than a museum!"  We learned that lesson the hard way!

But really the only thing I wanted to do was see the sea. 

My office is just one block from the beach. I try to make a point of seeing the sea at least once a day, even if it's only a glimpse. The sea looks different every day. It has a different character depending upon the weather, the season, the light. But it's always uplifting. I don't know why, but I love looking out at the endless blue on blue horizon.  Forgive my romanticism. I could look at it forever.  *Sigh*

So being cooped up in RG for 3 months without seeing even a sliver of blue has been making me blue. I've been to the city several times already but I haven't been close enough to see the beach. R took me for lunch at a favorite seaside restaurant, right on the water's edge.  How delightful.  Watching the waves crash on the beach, the white foam dancing on the turquoise water, the sparkling glint of the sunlight playing on sea, a cool breeze drifting across the afternoon sky.

What I love about not working this last month is that time feels as though it has expanded. My days are full and yet I never feel rushed. I never have to look at my watch while I am at the gym or sitting in a cafe. That dark cloud hanging over my head, that niggly feeling that I've got somewhere else to get to, has evaporated. My days are no longer my own personal version of Beat-The-Clock.  And in the evenings, I am infused with a sense of satisfaction, of having accompished something, of having throughly enjoyed myself. I find I have the time, no, the presence, to appreciate what I've done. It's no wonder I don't want to go back to the daily, hectic grind of work.

With R, we strolled through "HaTachana" before lunch and then went to the souk afterwards. Beautiful weather, good food, interesting conversation and the sea. It was a luxuriously long afternoon.  The most perfect afternoon.

(View of Old Jaffa from Tel Aviv)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Finished projects

As my medical leave draws to a close, and my "hip" project is nearly complete, I know you are all curious to see my other "project". The knitting project I keep writing about.  Well I finished knitting quite a while ago.  I even blocked it and stitched it up. But I've been reluctant to show it to you.  Not because I'm not proud of my handiwork.  It looks good as you can see from the detail here.

To refresh your memory, I was making this item for my precious niece. My precious, 4 year old niece.  Sadly... it fits my favorite 12 year old!

I have no idea how that happened.  Oh well - she'll grow into it I guess. Thanks sweet S for giving me something to while away the hours.  Hope you like it!

p.s. here is my current project:  baby blanket.  Which will hopefully end up the right size!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Just another day in paradise

(The Givatayim Spa aka Paradise)

The last 2 weeks have been really wonderful.  I've been feeling great.  Although I haven't had another blood test, my intuition tells me that my hemoglobin levels & red blood count are back to normal.  And my hip is also feeling good.  For the most part, the pain in my groin has disappeared.  Sometimes I almost forget; then a quick movement, running up the stairs or standing up from squatting down to retrieve something from a low cabinet reminds me that my muscles are still not quite up to full strength yet.  Having said that though, the PT Angel told me that I can probably stop coming to see her weekly.  This week, she taught me how to sit on the floor and get myself back up.  Quite an accomplishment at not even 3 months post-op. 

Also I've been doing a great deal of walking.  Walking to PT, walking to the gym at the mall, walking in the park.  I've spent the past week walking back and forth across Givatayim.  It's amazing really and I find myself awestruck during my "treks" that I am actually able to walk so far without any pain.  I can't remember when I could do that.  It must be years.  My only regret is that all the people I love who lived in Givatayim are no longer there.  (I think of you guys when I'm walking.)

The other regret, well no, it's not really a regret.  Before I decided to have the surgery, so many people said to me "I don't know why I waited so long to do it."  This is very true.  For a long time, it was not clear what my problem was, only that I had intense pain which prohibited me from walking.  When I was finally diagnosed nearly 2 years ago, all the doctors said I should wait because I was so young.  So I waited 18 months. But who knows what the future holds?  I decided it was silly to wait, when I wanted to be back where I should be now. (By the way, thanks to all of you reading who encouraged me to take the leap! You know who you are...).  Now I am. 

The other wonderful thing I've done this week is to hit the jacuzzi at the gym after my workout.  I know, I know. Prof. Palmtree warned against going to the pool for fear of slipping but I decided that I could risk it. (Only one more week to go anyway.)  I've always loved the jacuzzi in Givatayim.  It's very large with powerful jets.  Best of all, in the time that I've been away, it's been renovated.  Now the room is done up in bamboo, wood and stone. So tranquil.  You could almost pretend you are in Bali or some other tropical island.  Plus every time I've been there, I've had the place all to myself.

It's like my own private paradise.  Life's good.

(Entrance to the jacuzzi)


Monday, May 21, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words

Yes!   It's amazing. I have not done this in over a year.

So I can actually sit in this position (albeit still on the bed and not the floor yet).  It was the PT Angel's idea to try it on the bed.  It took a couple of days of practice but now I can sit with my legs crossed like that indefinitely.  Yoga/Pilates - here I come.....

Friday, May 18, 2012

I don't want to go back to work

Before I had my surgery, when I envisioned what the coming months would entail, I did, of course, imagine taking daily walks and doing my PT exercises but I also was flooded with childhood memories of being sick and watching The Price is Right, $10,000 Pyramid and I Love Lucy re-runs.  That was the best part of staying home sick:  daytime TV.

So it was surprising to me, as I've written before, that other than the odd afternoon movie or episode of Oprah, I've not really watched any daytime TV at all. It just isn't all that interesting. I have spent a lot of time reading (other people's) and writing (my own)  blogs and generally trolling around on the Internet.  In the beginning, when I didn't have much energy, I spent a lot of time knitting but less so as I've felt better. I have an art project/baby gift that I'm working on.  I tend to my little garden most mornings. I try to be diligent about exercising and I walk quite a lot every day.  And of course, I spend a lot of time drinking coffee.

The other day, I was sitting in the local coffee shop and I noticed that I was the only person under 65 sitting there.  To be fair, it was late morning and I am sure that the lunch rush would bring a younger patronage.  But at that particular moment, I wondered if it wasn't time for me to be getting back to work.  And by time, I didn't mean 11am, rather that I should return to a more productive lifestyle. 

Many people have asked if I'm not bored and looking forward to getting back to work already.  However the answer to that is: not yet.  Although physically I think I'm capable of it.  I simply don't want to. ( I have been working from home one day a week this month.  I sit on a pillow on a dining room chair.  It isn't that comfortable and I try to get up once an hour to walk around and stretch.) I have always liked working, I never saw myself as someone who would want to stay home but as my Dad always says "Only fools get bored" and there is always something to occupy my attention.  So far, having lunch at a sidewalk cafe in the middle of the day, watching the parade of humanity streaming past, hasn't grown tired. Nor has reading and writing what I want to, which trumps reading and answering irritating work-related emails. 

Perhaps it's due to the fact that, over the last couple of years, the company I work for has morphed into one of those faceless, bureaucratic, corporate behemoths.  The kind where complicated processes take precedence over the end result. The kind where everything is so fragmented that no one can see the whole picture any more.  The kind where selling the company to new owners is more important than selling the product to customers.  It's just not fun any more.  More than that, it's downright frustrating.  I don't envy my replacement, who calls me daily to remind me that she loves me but hates my job.  I don't blame her one bit. 

I've got 2 more weeks before I return to the office full time.  I intend to enjoy that time completely, mainly drinking coffee and playing the lottery.

(never grows old!)

Monday, May 14, 2012


I know I was supposed to wait another two weeks or so, but I just could not wait a moment longer.  When I returned home from PT yesterday I felt so achy. And sweaty.  I told the Bear that I was getting in the bath. Yes, the bathtub.

I then proceeded to take a long, glorious soak in a lavender bubble bath.  Ahhh. That felt nice.  Very relaxing and much longed for during these last few months especially when my poor muscles were so sore.

Of course, the Bear had to lift me out with a crane but it was well worth it!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lucky Me

Does my blog seem a bit whiny and self-deprecating to you?  Sometimes I think that I'm not being positive enough in my writing.  Because relatively, I don't have much to complain about.  How do I know? 

When my aches and pains and sometimes my self-confidence are acting up, I look in on various recovery forum for hip-replacement patients.  If you are interested, you can have a look yourself here.  Some of those "hipsters" have complications or are just plain slow.  Maybe they're all simply older than me. I don't know, but whenever I read these, I inevitably wind up feeling good about myself and my progress.  

This week marks my 10 week anniversary and while I may not be bounding down the 4 flights of stairs, I am doing it without the cane.  In fact, I have pretty much stopped using the cane entirely.  I'm driving too. OK - so our mattress is still elevated as is the toilet seat, but I sort of like them that way.  Otherwise, life is nearly back to normal.

My muscles are still not anywhere near as strong as they were before (I'm working on that) and I still have the odd day when I feel weak or have over-done the exercises and feel achy.  But in general, I try not to let it keep me down.  Since last week, I've felt more like my old self again.  I've been going out and meeting friends, going to the gym and working one day a week from home.

I feel badly for the people writing on those forums.  Or is just that the kvetchy people write on forums & all the normal recovery patients are lurking quietly keeping to themselves?  Maybe that is human nature and why I tend to complain here on my own blog.  We tend to vent about the bad things in our lives while blithely ignoring the good. 

So here are my reasons to be thankful today:
  • I went two cane-less rounds around the track in the park with the Bear (that's 3 kilometers) earlier this week and twice to the gym to ride the stationery bike. 
  • I managed to sit in the lotus position on my bed for a minute or two. (I couldn't hold it any longer than that but I haven't been able to do even that for over a year). 
  • The top third of my incision site is feeling softer and almost normal again (the bottom is still hard and discoloured) and sensation is beginning to return. 
  • I haven't taken any sleeping pills or pain killers, not even Advil, and I've slept well all week this week.
  • I went out to dinner with family friends on Wednesday and to the movies with my gal-pals on Thursday.  My energy levels have definitely improved.

I can't wait to go to the pool, sit on the floor, take a bath in two more weeks!

  so soon.......


Monday, May 7, 2012

White Nights

The biggest problem with having lazy days is that I wind up not not being very tired when bedtime rolls around, sometimes blogging late into the wee hours of the night.  Then my mind is so wound up that it's nearly impossible to sleep.  Monkey mind is what this is called in Yoga.  Irritating is what I call it.

The other night, after furiously writing and posting, I finally fell asleep at 5am to the unbelievably loud chirping of the morning songbirds and a detailed analysis of every major earthquake since 1906 on the Discovery Channel.

But it's not only the lazy days that are problematic.  Often I'll return from my daily walk, hot and sweaty, and fall asleep for an unintended afternoon Shlaffstunde. That's blogspeak for feeling like someone has knocked me on the head and re-gaining consciousness waking up 3 hours later, making it difficult to fall asleep by midnight.

Also it still is not terribly comfortable sleeping.  On my back, my heels and back start to ache.  While on the non-operative side, my right shoulder has been taking the brunt of my weight for a while now and is beginning to rebel. Finding a comfortable position to sleep in can be a long and contentious battle with my body, sometimes waking me in the middle of the night just to try to readjust.

Needless to say, these White Nights put me off the following day. It is a bit of a vicious cycle.  So I've decided that I need to be more more disciplined about my sleep routine and I am trying to stay away from the sleeping pills.  Instead, I'm trying some less conventional sleep aids:  lavender and hypnotherapy/white noise apps on my phone.  I'll let you know how those work...

Today I have nothing scheduled which is a good reason to blog now as opposed to the middle of the night tonight.  Also I'm hoping that the Bear will come home early-ish from work and go walking in the park with me.  Because I can tell already that I haven't expended enough energy today.  Doing the dishes, folding laundry and trolling around on Facebook aren't strenuous enough activities to ensure a good night's sleep. 

Having said all that, I am definitely feeling more energetic and less worn out lately as I move into Week 9 post-op and that feels good!  I've got activities scheduled for the next 3 days and I am still trying to attain that elusive balance of doing just the right amount.  Hopefully I'll know my limits and adhere to my strict sleeping schedule. 

And if I have sleep issues, there's always this bear to help relax and put me to sleep.

(Yes, this sorry thing is my childhood Teddy bear.
No, I no longer sleep with it, although I will admit to the occasional hug!)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

On Balance

Earlier last week I went back to the PT clinic. And by "went", I mean "walked".  In hindsight, this wasn't one of my brighter ideas, but it was a beautiful day, I was feeling good and I had such a frustrating experience parking the last time I was there. Plus the Bear needed the car to get to work.  I googled mapped it and saw that it was only 2 km from our house.  2 km?!  That's nothing for me these days; however, what I hadn't count on was getting to the clinic tired and then having to do the exercises. Worse, I hadn't even considered the walk home.

When I arrived, sweaty and slightly breathless (the clinic is up a very steep hill in Givatayim), the PT Angel very calmly said "Today we will work on balance".  Great, I thought, piece of cake, maybe it's not so bad that I walked all the way here after all. In principle, I do have a good sense of balance. As a girl, I spent an inordinate amount of time on the balance beam. 

She put me on one of those large medicine balls that have been sliced in half and affixed to a base and told me to stand with one foot in front of the other. And then switch feet.  Believe me, this is harder than it sounds.  Way, way harder.  Also I had assumed that maintaining one's balance came from the core muscles, specifically the abdomen, so I was really surprised to feel it in my groin and inner thigh muscles.  Exactly the ones that need strengthening.  Huh!  Who knew?

So it's clear that she's pretty clever, that PT Angel.  Afterwards she gave me several exercises  using a little stool, lifting my foot, tapping the stool and then putting my foot back on the floor.  Nothing strenuous or painful, so it was again surprising that after a couple of reps of this simple exercise, my inner thigh muscles started to shake with exertion. 

After 45 minutes of this, it was time to start my trek home.  I walked a kilometer in the other direction and hopped on the 61 bus for 2 stops.  I had to take care of a couple of errands, then walked on to my regular Kupat Holim clinic to arrange some more appointments, stopping off for coffee at my favorite local cafe.  You know, my usual routine.

By the time I'd got home 3 hours later, I'd walked a whopping (well for me anyway) 4.5 km.  A new record.  But I was wiped and had to lay down for the rest of the day.  Notice a pattern here? Those of you who follow me religiously know that I wrote about this recently here.  When I feel good, I think I can handle anything, then overdo it and pay the price the following day. 

I think my PT Angel is right, I need to work on my balance... 

Such a lovely garden that I pass on my way home from PT.
I always stopped to smell the flowers.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Forgive me.  I am a bad blogger.  I have a post all ready to go since last week, it just needs some finishing touches. But then I got carried away by all the holidays and the long weekend.  So by yesterday, I should have been back in the saddle and posting away.  But instead I realized it was month end and that I needed to work. 

I went to PT in the morning, came home and sat down in the chair and did not get up for the next 14 hours.  Don't ask.  I am not exaggerating.  Little Man & L left in the late afternoon and when they returned at 1:00am, I was sitting in the same spot.  They thought it was hilarious, my butt & groin less so.

So when I woke up today, I thought I deserved a break.  Even though I had a break last Thursday-Saturday... You'd think with all this time on my hands, that I'd get a lot done, but you'd be wrong.  I can't even figure out how these days flew by.  It's embarrassing to admit but I literally have done nothing.  All. Day. Long.  I haven't blogged.  I haven't knitted. I haven't read the book-club book. I haven't even watched any tv (ok -so there was that one tiny episode of Oprah...).  Today I didn't even go walking.  What on earth have I been doing with my time?!

Well I spoke to Shvester a couple hundred times.  I read a lot of other people's blogs (hmmm, that is starting to seem like a life spent watching "Big Brother".)  I puttered around the apartment a lot. I thought about doing my PT exercises.  Thinking counts, right?  Oh and Little Man & L and I ordered a pizza this afternoon....

Consensus:  I am lazy.

Well maybe not exactly lazy but I seem to vacillate between doing a lot of things (like taking too long a walk, going to various doctors appts, physical therapy, meeting people at the local cafe, or working 14 hours) all at once and then doing absolutely nothing at all.

I know I keep saying this all along, but I really do think I need to take things slowly.  It's just that I don't really know how to.  You never know you've over-done it, until you have.  And then it's too late.  I wish I had an internal bell that dinged whenever I'd done just the right amount of walking or exercising or working or going out with friends.  Or maybe an app.  Yes, an app called "That's enough now dear".  Maybe then I wouldn't be so lazy the rest of the time?

I'll have to ponder that tomorrow, right after I drive the Bear to work, meet V for coffee, go to the dietitian and then the book club.  Oh my, it looks like you all might have to wait just a little longer for that post...


(p.s. I will leave you with an imagine of the sky which I photographed this evening whilst sitting in my recliner doing absolutely nothing!)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nothing to do but get better

This morning I drove for the first time!  I drove 5 minutes to the Physical Therapy clinic and then spent another 15 looking for a parking spot. Grrr. I would have preferred to ride my motorbike, but I am nervous about driving it yet.  I think (and several professionals plus the Bear concur) I ought to wait until my muscles are stronger.

Although he doesn't want me to drive the motorbike or swim,  Prof. Palmtree claims that I do not need PT.  However I feel that my muscles are still weaker than they were - than they should be - so PT can only help, right?  Besides I like the therapist at the clinic, who I have worked with in the past.  Since this was my first visit with her post-op (and because I was late due to the parking situation), we didn't do too much today.  The exercises she gave me were fairly easy.  But even so, I still have more discomfort doing the exercises than I do walking - which is virtually painless.  I take that as a sign that my muscles really do need some additional strengthening.

Having said that, I have been walking a lot lately, including walking in the National Park with the Bear.  Nothing feels as good as walking does. I am up to nearly 4 km a day.  Sometimes I walk once but very often twice a day. And I am constantly amazed that I am able to go distances that it's been years since I have managed so easily.

Also in an attempt to be a better blogger, I've been taking some photographs during my walks to share with you.  So here are some interesting things that I've seen along my way.

Cat in a Ramat Gan window looking down at me

Cafe in Tel Aviv - but doesn't it look like we could be in Italy?


Spying on wedding portraits in the park

End of a good day!

Friday, April 20, 2012

railroad tracks

One of the most difficult things about the surgery and recovery is the incision site.  At the risk of being gruesome, I'll try to write about this. 

Almost immediately after the surgery, I reached my hand down and through the bandages was surprised to feel a long line of railroad track down the side of thigh. Obviously I knew that there would be stitches, but I honestly didn't expect to find the incision site stapled shut.  In addition, I didn't expect it to be so long.  A full 16.5 cm.  All around the site, my leg was swollen and bruised.  So much so that I couldn't visualize where the incision was.  Was it on my thigh?  Did it reach up to my backside?  I don't think I actually saw where it was until later in the week when Prof Palmtree came to put on a pressure bandage and the Bear photographed the occasion. 

The wound was not healing well and so the Professor thought putting on the pressure bandage would help the process.  He basically duct-taped my thigh and butt together. It was terribly confining, making even walking difficult.  The nurses had a challenging time getting it off the following day, taking not a little bit of skin with it. Ouch.  And then Palmtree did it again.  I was not happy but the doctor came back himself on Saturday to remove the bandage the second time and lo and behold, the wound was healed enough for me to be discharged the following day.

Once home, my Aromatherapist (I love saying that!) prepared a special oil consisting of wheatgerm, rosehip and frankincense (and some other secret ingredients), and instructed me to massage it into the wound several times a day.  Shvester sent a homeopathic remedy of Arnica for the bruising, but my Aromatherapist warned that Arnica couldn't be used on an open wound (only for bruising) and also counseled against mixing therapies.  Shvester agreed!  So oil it was.

At first the incision site was fairly numb and I couldn't completely feel anything in that area. The staples themselves were uncomfortable.  But not unbearable.  However as time passed, the wound became less numb, sensation and feeling started to return.  Towards the end of the two week period, I could feel the metal prongs digging into my skin. Running my hand over the wound, I imagined the staples felt like how the jumbo staples we use in my office for large training manuals would feel.

Finally after the initial two week period, Bear arranged for the nurse from Kupat Holim to make a house call to remove the staples.  In fact, I could have walked that far but I was afraid that the removal would hurt and then I'd have to walk back home uncomfortably.  Since the nurse didn't even think I could make it as far as the clinic, she readily agreed to make the house call.

Upon her arrival, the nurse stupidly told us that this was only the second time she was doing such a procedure.  She said that usually older patients go to a rehab after the surgery and then have the staples removed there.  What?!  Couldn't she have waited until she was finished to tell us this?  Luckily, it didn't hurt nearly as much I feared.  Really it didn't hurt at all.  Of the 33 staples, I think I felt a pinch maybe 3 or 4 times.  The rest of them I didn't even feel coming out.  Looking at the staples once they were out of my leg, I found it remarkable how small they looked.  Not at all the super sized staples I had imagined.

And what a relief when they came out.  I hadn't realized how much they were bothering me.   Once out, the wound felt liberated.  But so unsightly.  The first day, it looked very raw and there was still a lot of swelling and discoloration all around the area.  I'll spare you and refrain from posting those pictures.

In the last month, we've been very diligent about massaging the oil on the incision site.  Between the Bear and my Mom, and sometimes even L, the scar was massaged and oiled at least twice a day, sometimes more.  The discoloration is now gone although I think that there is still some swelling.  It's hard to tell.  I have  lot of leg. 

I've read that it's important to keep massaging the incision site in order to prevent scar tissue from forming.  The area around is still very hard but the scar definitely looks better and I think eventually, only be a thin line will remain.  Wanna see?

Pretty, right?  OK - but not that bad.  If anyone out there is in the market for a good aromatherapist, let me know & I'll give you her number!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Support System

On several occasions lately, people have called me a hero or said that I was very brave to have taken the plunge and done the THR.  Others have called my progress meteoric and commented on what a strong person I am. Huh?!

While this is all very flattering, it is also somewhat embarrassing; primarily because I disagree.  Saving someone's life makes you a hero.  Jumping into a dangerous situation without thinking of your own personal consequences makes you brave.  And yes, my progress has been fast, partly because I am dedicated to getting well and overcoming this. 
But what I really have is a very strong support system.

And by support system (for anyone who's been reading along and hasn't noticed), I mean the Bear. Yes, there are others (you guys know who you are!) who have been here for me; but there is simply no way I could have gone through this process so successfully without the Bear.  He takes care of everything so that I can focus solely on getting well.

He's the one who scheduled my first appointment with Prof Palmtree.  He had the apartment set up and ready for my rehab before we began.  He stayed with me every night in the hospital, making sure I ate and took my meds.  He arranged for the ambulance home and then took off another week from work to look after me when I was released from the hospital.  He has cooked, cleaned, laundered, run to the doctor, the pharmacy, the insurance company, bathed, dressed and walked with me every day for the past 6 weeks.  He worries so that I don't have to and smiles every step of the way.

So if I haven't said so, Bear, thank you for being the best care-giver ever. 
Thanks for being you!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Independence Day

This is going to be a short post.  Yesterday I got an A+ from Prof. Palmtree.  Yay! 
My hip is fully functional and I have only a slight limp, which he says will disappear with time.  He also says that any groin pain is natural as that is where the joint is and that too will disappear as my muscles strengthen.  Oddly though, he says that I don't need any more PT.  I had already scheduled an appt at the clinic with the therapist who I like for next Sunday and I think I'll go anyway.  It can't hurt, right?

The first things I had dreamed of doing today were going swimming and taking a long hot soak in the bathtub, but he vetoed both those activities.  Apparently swimming carries the risk of slipping at the pool and it is still too soon to get down into the bathtub.  Oh well.  I'll have to wait another 6 weeks.

In the meantime, I will have to suffice with all the other things I can resume doing now:  sit in a regular chair, bend over, tie my own shoes (still actually harder than it sounds!), sleep on my stomach, get in a car.  What a relief!

And today, I'm leaving Ramat Gan for the first time in 6 weeks (Givatayim doesn't count).  My friend V, is coming to pick me up and take me for lunch in the big city.  Which reminds me...there is one more thing I need to resume. I haven't blow-dried my hair in the last 6 weeks (well there wasn't much need for it, was there?) so I better go & do that now so that V doesn't look like she's lunching with the Witch of the East.

I'm off!

p.s.  after I posted this blog entry, I opened the balcony to water the flowers and saw that this sunflower had burst opened. The perfect image for my first day out, no?

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I haven't felt well the past couple of days and I didn't really want to blog about it.

It all began when I went to the Museum of the Far Eastern Art of Ramat Gan (bet you didn't even know there was one, did you?!) with a friend, naively thinking that, having felt so good lately, it would be no problem to wander slowly through the small collection.

(Personal pic:  The Yechiel Nahari Museum of Far Eastern Art, Ramat Gan)
The Museum is just across the street from my house, so we walked over and spent a lovely hour or so there admiring the 47 Faithful Samurai. Now for the record, let me just state:  standing and sauntering around a museum is hard work.  It is not nearly as easy as walking, which is kinetic & where the energy is dispersed equally amongst all the working muscles.  Standing is static and strains the supporting muscles.  A lot.

By the time we got back to the entrance to my building, I was really feeling a bit ill.  (To my dear friend who was with me, who I suspect is reading this, PLEASE do not feel badly about this.  It was my idea to go & I had no idea it would affect me so adversely.  I had a delightful time despite the aftermath.)  Nauseous and once again, my gluteus maximus proved just how maximus it really is!  I took the Tramadex & got into bed.

The following day I was sore but undeterred.  I decided to skip the PT exercises and went walking with Little Man instead.  Albeit not a long walk, but halfway through I felt so drained, we had to stop and rest.  For the remainder of the day, I was exhausted. 

Finally yesterday, after two days of feeling generally awful, it occurred to me that I hadn't taken any iron for the past two days and despite a lifetime of professing that I could "live on matzoh and butter", realized that, sadly, this is actually not possible.  Bear to the rescue, he made a big pot of lentil soup and instructed L to make a lettuce salad.  Shabbat dinner infused with iron-rich foods.  Yum.

Then I broke down and took a sleeping pill, because the previous two nights, I had woken up, ostensibly from the pain in my ass and suffered from some very bizarre dreams.  And we have already learned the lesson of how sleepless nights affect recovery...

Today I awoke a new woman. Feeling good.  Feeling much stronger. This morning's walk was a painless 3.6 km in 62 minutes, including an iced-coffee break at Cafe Viola.  That's a first. And because I didn't intend to focus on the negative in this blog post, I thought I'd give you a string of other "firsts" that I've managed recently:

  • solo shower tonight (first time I've bathed alone in nearly 6 weeks!)
  • laid on my stomach on my bed reading (my fav Saturday activity)
  • got up and down the stairs like a normal person at last (slowly)
  • successfully did side leg lifts (ok, ok, so cheated a little bit - my knee was bent)
  • finished knitting my first sweater (to be featured in a future post after blocking) 

Tomorrow is, unbelievably, 6 weeks post-op.  I'm excited about the prospects of the restrictions being lifted when I see Prof Palmtree on Monday. Although I'll probably continue to have good days and bad ones, just like everyone does, I'm looking forward to racking up some more "firsts" with my brand new hip in the coming weeks. 

Will keep you posted.  Sayonara for now.



             Engravings from the series "Lives of the 47 Ronin Faithful Samurais"
                                Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1847-48)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I smell nice

(Photo credit: Laline products

The nicest thing about being incapacitated is receiving all the lovely get-well gifts that people have showered on me.  Books, flowers, chocolates and sweet little boxes of divine-smelling creams, soaps, lotions and potions. Lavender, Vanilla, Ocean, Patchouli.  I am the Laline Queen.  My bathroom smells heavenly and so do I. 

When I was in the hospital the Bear massaged me daily with lavender moisturizer.  (The aid staff ladies were visibly amazed and jealous).  At home also, although I am now more flexible and able to do this myself, he often helps in places I still can't reach (i.e. my left foot).  I have an array of fragrant lotions to choose from, all gifts from well-wishers.   It is the one of the few luxuries I have at the moment in my confined world.

I walked 3 kilometers again yesterday with no pain.  I made it through the night last night without any sleeping pills and I haven't taken any painkillers.  My muscles (quads, gluts) still feel tight and stiff, especially when I get up from the recliner, but I'm using the cane only when I walk outside - no longer needed at home.  Next week, I'll see Prof. Palmtree and the restrictions will, at last, be lifted. 

All this AND I smell good too! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Tribute to my Mom

I've been somewhat negligent about writing the past two weeks.  That's because my Mom has been here playing Florence Nightingale and I didn't want to spend my time with my nose in my laptop instead of being with her.

I know that it wasn't the most interesting trip for her. Every morning she'd get up and oil my incision site, get me dressed, put on my anti-DVT bandages, prepare my breakfast, put on my socks and shoes and take me for my morning walk. 

And that doesn't include bending over to pick up the hundreds of things I drop in a day.  Little Man says I have holes in my hands.  Inevitably, anything I am holding lands up on the floor. 

In the afternoon, she'd prepare some lunch, water my garden, force encourage me to do my exercises, have a short nap, put on my socks and shoes and then take me out for my afternoon walk. 

At night, we'd do our exercises again, then she helped me shower and get ready for bed, oiling my incision and helping me into my pyjamas. Tedious really.  I am quite sure that she'll need another vacation to rest after having to walk up and down the four flights of stairs three times a day on this one.

Little Man did take her out a couple of times to the Museum and the Mall but mainly her daily schedule revolved around mine. Not terribly exciting.  But she's my Mom and so I can understand her wanting to be there for me.  And although it was somewhat mundane, I don't want to make it sound as though we didn't enjoy each other's company or have fun together. 

We talked and laughed a lot during our walks.  She turned me on to Smash, the new TV show. I moaned, she listened. And we drank a lot of coffee.  For me, and I think (hope) for her too, it was a pleasant respite from our normal lives.  A time when we got to just be together with nothing else to do and no outside pressures to interrupt us.  An oasis.

So as a tribute to my wonderful Mom for coming out here to take care of me, here is a pictorial recap of our time together.

Chasing the sunshine.  
The first few days she was here were so cold, she didn't take off her winter coat.  
Here she finally took out the lining and the sun sure felt good on our faces. 

Getting ready for our walk to Bnei Brak.  That is not a fashion statement!  We wanted to look the part, so we dressed modestly.  The walk took us up a steep hill and we debated turning back but we persevered and it turned out to be the highlight of Mom's trip. 
We took a bus back!

Getting our daily fix of java on a morning walk.
This was after missing my pedi appointment at the coffee shop on Sderot Yerushalayim.

Oops.  How did that get in there?  
My Dad and Rella were in Hawaii that week and we heard from them often. 

Respite in the garden after our afternoon walk.  By now, it was so hot that it was a pleasure to sit in the cool garden after walking a 1.5 km & before climbing up the stairs.

Everything's cooked, table set, showered and dressed, waiting for the guests to arrive. 
Hag Sameach.

At the neighborhood Geniza.  Yes, we actually have one. 
Mom couldn't believe it either.

At the local supermarket, curious to see all the hametz covered up and checking out the prices of the pesadika products so prominently displayed.

Smiling our "Sian" smiles.  Bottom teeth showing.

Who knows what we were laughing at here on one of our many walks. 
We laughed a lot.

We stopped to photograph the pansies (Amnon v'Tamar) and the woman who lives here actually invited us in to see her garden.  Only in Israel.

Thanks Mom.
You're the best!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

sleeping issues and aids

(Photo credit:  Wyken, Blyken & Nod, illustrated by Johanna Westerman, North-South, NYC, 1995)

The second night in the hospital, I knew I'd need something to help me sleep. 

I am a night owl at the best of times.  I often won't go to sleep until I force myself to shut off the light at 2am in the panicky knowledge that it's so late that I won't be able to wake up for work the next day.  It isn't that I'm an insomniac, that's just my natural cycle.  I do better at night.  (In university, I routinely pulled "all-nighters" and honestly, got some of my best work done after midnight.)

And once I am asleep, pretty much nothing can wake me.  I sleep like a babe.  Deep, sweet, restful sleep.  I usually sleep a good 8 hours and nothing can disturb me.  But if somehow, something manages to wake me, then I'm done for.  I can't go back to sleep in the middle of the night once I'm up.  Waking up in the middle of the night almost always entails a transatlantic call to Shevester, since no one in my world is awake to lull me back to sleep.

So laying immobile on my back in the hospital with a bolster shoved between my legs and a 16.5cm railroad track of staples up the back of my thigh was a surefire way to guarantee not getting through the night.  Rolling over was not possible and the pressure from lying in the same position for hours was unbearable. I was simply not comfortable enough to sleep through and once I was up, the misery began.  Looking at the clock every 20 minutes to see that only 20 minutes had passed since the last time I miserably opened my eyes. 

I was irritable and I couldn't get well if I couldn't sleep.  Naturally, they gave me the sleeping pills.

When I got home, I sent the Bear off to the local clinic with instructions to bring me some sleeping pills from Dr. Muchacha.  She reluctantly granted my wish but warned him that they were highly addictive.  Nice going Doc.  I won't go into the details of the arguments discussions we had those first nights about whether or not I should take them.  As far as I was concerned, it was not negotiable.  I needed my rest.  Waking up in the middle of the night from discomfort was not an option. Period.

After about a week at home, I finally managed to roll over onto my side and sleep without feeling like my ass was a tightly wound spring.  By now, I was sleeping with a smaller pillow between my legs and it was a vast improvement over the paralyzing position of sleeping 9 hours on my back but there was still a great deal of discomfort.

After two weeks, I lowered the dosage to half a pill a night.  We're talking a big .12 mg - hardly smack.  But still I knew it upset him and he'd struck the fear in me: I didn't want to become addicted.  So after another 2 weeks, I stopped taking them all together.  Last night, without any sleep aid, I managed to fall asleep quickly and although I woke up at 4am, I managed to get myself back to a not-so-restful-twilight sleep.

It's now 2:00 am and I'm, well, here I am.  It's too late to take anything now because I'll never get up tomorrow morning.  Am I just back to my old ways?  Should I continue taking half a pill for a while longer to make sure I get enough sleep?  I think tomorrow evening, I will take an evening walk (we skipped it tonight because the PT Torturess was here) and maybe that will tire me out.  If that doesn't work, there'll probably be another blogpost.

In the meantime, I'm going to try to turn off the light and my brain now.  Goodnight.