kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

kayaking on Loch Leven near Glencoe, Scotland, 2018

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

One Week Post-Op

It’s been one week since my foot surgery. Like many things in life, in some ways I can’t believe how fast it’s gone, and in other ways, it has seemed like an eternity. I have nothing to compare my recovery to, no reference point, but it seems like it is going well. During the first couple days post-op, I felt like I would never walk normal again. Limping the few feet from the bed to the bathroom was tremendously difficult. And I couldn’t imagine giving up the crutches and walking only with the boot, as the doctor suggested.

But yesterday I had my first post-op visit and dressing change. The nurse assured me my foot “looks good” (I don’t know about good, but I agree it’s not as ugly as I imagined it would be), and I’m recovering well. She also strongly encouraged me to start walking. More. Without the crutches. She said the longer I wait to start walking in the boot, the longer I'm going to be in the boot. Well, that got my attention.

So, I’ve been working on that. I’ve been bearing some weight on the foot while still using the crutches. I’ve started only using one crutch. And I’ve taken a few steps here and there with no crutches. Surprisingly, it’s not as painful as I thought it would be. Not at this point. Now a day or two after surgery was a different story. With the slightest pressure, it felt like my foot would shatter. But now, mild discomfort, at the most. And I’m progressively cutting back on the pain meds.

Today, I’ve made two trips down the driveway to the mailbox. Several treks through the living room and out to the kitchen. And one out to the backyard to rescue a mockingbird ensnared in the wire mesh covering the blueberry bushes – he’s smart enough to figure out how to get in, but can’t get back out again.

I’m feeling optimistic. Two more weeks, and I get the stitches out (I was surprised to see there were only about five! I imagined more.)

I hope no one minds me posting this photo. I know some of my readers are squeamish. But I want to document my progress. Really, it’s not as bad as I expected. The purple looks like they highlighted it in magic marker, but it’s actually bruising. And any day now, I’m going to re-paint that toenail.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Recovering from Foot Surgery -- 4 days post-op

I don’t normally write about personal things. That would be rather boring. I prefer to write about places I go and things I experience and want to share with you. Well, I had foot surgery last week, and I don’t expect to be DOING much of anything except recovering for the next month or so. And I don’t want to neglect you readers. So, if it’s okay with you, I will share the ups and downs of my recovery from a left first metatarso-phalangeal (aka my big toe) joint fusion.

It wasn’t a decision I came to lightly. I’d been having pain for the past several years and it was getting progressively worse, due to arthritis. Though the doctor says, “One month in a boot and another month until you’re back to normal activities,” I’ve naturally read up on this and other sources say the recovery is more like three months to a year. My goal is, once I’m recovered, however long that takes, I will be pain free, and hopefully, for the rest of my life. The doctor, of course, says, yes, this will happen. I want to believe him; indeed, I’m banking on it. Naturally, the other sources say there are no guarantees of the ideal outcome. So, we’ll have to wait and see.

Today I am four days post-op. Each day, I’m seeing a little bit of progress. I have to be patient, as I know this will be a long slow recovery. (And I am not good at sitting and doing nothing!) The pain has actually been less than I expected. I’m sure that is in large part due to the pain medications I’m taking. But I’m taking less meds each day. The first two days, I barely got out of bed, only to use the bathroom. Today, I ventured out to the kitchen and outside to the back porch for some fresh air. The doctor did not think I would need crutches, said I should just walk in the boot, but I am using crutches anyway, because I can't imagine putting pressure on my foot yet. Just thinking about that hurts. And truth, one of the other sources I read says patients having this surgery should stay off the foot and use crutches for a couple weeks! So I feel justified. I’m optimistic I will make a full recovery and be back to the gym . . . soon.
Here’s my before picture.
And after (thus far). Beneath this behemoth boot, my foot is encased in a tightly-wrapped ace bandage. Beneath that, I have no idea what it looks like. I have stitches, but I have no idea how many. I’ll find out Monday when I go to the doctor for the first dressing change.

Readers, have any of you had experience with this surgery, or arthritis in a big toe joint. Tell me your story.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hammond, Louisiana Revisited

We first went to Hammond, Louisiana last summer when Andrew was visiting colleges. (See that post here.) Indeed, Southeastern Louisiana University won Andrew's heart (in large part because it was the only school that had a four-year degree in the major of his choice -- Industrial Technology with an emphasis on Drafting AND marching band and a good music program. He will minor in music.)

So, last week, we returned to Hammond so he could attend freshman orientation. He had a great time -- learned a lot about the school, registered for fall classes, and made new friends.

Bob and I had a grand time too. We stayed in this delightful inn, the Hughes House Bed and Breakfast.

The proprietor, Ms. Lee, makes a tasty full breakfast and gave us a tour of this historic home full of fascinating antiques, art work, and curiosities. In addition to comfortable guest rooms, there's a private pool where Bob and I spent a couple hours relaxing.

Earlier that evening, we found this fantastic specialty wine and beer shop, Red, White, and Brew. Love that catchy name. A nice man named Todd helped Bob and I create a make-your-own six pack. With his vast knowledge of beers, he suggested brews based on what we told him we liked. (Me, dark and sweet, Bob IPA or stouty.)

Then we had dinner at a pizza place called Tommy's on Thomas. (Thomas is one of two main streets in town.) I am not kidding you when I say we ate the most delicious Greek pizza we'd ever had in our lives! We can't wait to go back. Plus, they had my favorite beer on tap, Abita's Vanilla Double Dog. Double score!

What is your favorite adult beverage?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Free Fishing Weekend

Once every year, the folks in charge of fishing in Louisiana host a free fishing weekend, meaning one may fish without a fishing license, without fear of citation. I do not have a fishing license, so I enjoy taking advantage of this event. I fished on this weekend last year, too. I didn’t catch anything then, and yesterday was equally disappointing. Bob and I used both a lure and really old frozen shrimp. But not a single fish took the bait.

I suspect those Wildlife and Fisheries people send out a memo. “Don’t bite! They didn’t pay for it!”

Fishing reminds me of my father. When I was young, Dad took me fishing quite often. Fond memories. I don’t think I have a photo of me fishing with Dad, but here’s one of Dad and my sons. We went fishing with him in the spring 2007, just prior to moving to Louisiana.

It’s a week away, but Happy Father’s Day, Dad!
How about you? Did you go fishin’ this weekend? What did you catch?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Avery Island and the Tabasco Factory

I recently went to Avery Island and toured the Tabasco factory. In 1868, Edmond McIlhenny made some spicy sauce and shared it with friends and family. The condiment was so well received, Edmund decided to make more and sell it. Now this famous hot sauce is packaged in 22 different languages and shipped to 162 countries around the world. All the sauce is made at this one location, and they produce an amazing 700,000 bottles a day!

Only 1% of the capsaicin peppers used to make Tabasco are grown on Avery Island. The other 99% are grown in Central and South America. Only the reddest ripest juiciest peppers are harvested by hand, ground into a mash, and put into 50-gallon white oak Jack Daniels whiskey barrels. (JD can only use each barrel once; Tabasco can use them multiple times.) The mash is stored and fermented for three years, after which time it is mixed with a strong vinegar, stirred for 28 days, and then bottled.
After the factory tour, including small complimentary Tabasco bottles, visit the Country Store for all the Tabasco merchandise you can imagine, as well as free samples of all their many sauces and products, including Tabasco Coca-Cola and Tabasco ice cream, all very good.
Avery Island is near the Gulf Coast, south of Lafayette, Louisiana. These 200 acres sit atop a salt dome that extends deep into the ground farther and larger than Mt. Everest is high. Also on Avery Island is Jungle Gardens. In this lovely garden grow large moss-draped live oaks and many varieties of plants, including 64 varieties of Chinese bamboo. The garden is especially well-known for its azaleas and camellias, and I recommend going when these flowers are in bloom. There is also a large egret and heron rookery on the property. Read more about Avery Island here.
Two questions I have that I did not find answers to while on the tour – how many peppers are needed to make an average-sized bottle of Tabasco? And how did Mr. McIlhenny come up with the name, Tabasco? Does anyone know?

PS: I found this on the website . . . “Tabasco,” a word of Mexican Indian origin believed to mean “place where the soil is humid” or “place of the coral or oyster shell.”