Thursday, August 27, 2015

One Week Plus, Post Surgery

I will write this in short bursts as sitting for long periods of time causes the blood to pool in my legs and that's not a good thing.  This is now Monday, August 24, and my main goal today is to get my hands on the DANG fax number to the VA pharmacy that is supposed to renew Hubs' annual mailorder prescriptions.  We live over 40 miles from the nearest VA center and that qualified Hubs for the new CHOICE program, which allows him to go to a local doctor for his annual check-up, which is an absolute MUST so he can get his prescriptions through them.  It represents quite a savings for us.  But it has been a complicated process.  We got as far as the exam, but we were told to mail the prescription sheet to the wrong place and NO ONE seems to know what the magic fax number is!!  It's sooooo frustrating.

I was watching the news this morning about how those three (four, including the teacher who first suspected something was amiss, and that's an important thing) young American men and one British man overpowered a gunman on a train in France.  HERE is one version of the story, done by The Washington Post.  I really have to say, I think America, and Britain, too, really needed news like this even though all this would never have happened had there been no man, intent on the cowardly killing of many innocent, unarmed people who had no ability to protect themselves other than to hide and let it happen to all those who were unable to hide.

The father of one of these young American men said the following during an interview:
"You live your life, you do your best, and you trust God to take care of you when you cannot protect yourself".  So profound.  It brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes.

Anyone who shoots down unarmed, untrained people is a coward, it's just as simple as that.  And I'm just really sick and tired of cowards being in the news, aren't you?  I do believe that my God is the same as everyone else's God.  God has many names and many forms.  But I just cannot believe that there will be a special place in Heaven (or whatever it's called in other religions), for slaying people who pose no threat to anyone; whose intent in life is to live in peace and good will with their fellowmen.

I have heard people say that we will not solve this growing problem until we address the problem of mental health, and my opinion is that this would be all well and good except that nobody knows how.  We don't understand the origins and the mechanics of mental illness, and until we do, there is no way anyone's ever going to be able to "cure" it.  At this point it seems the standard treatment methods include prescribing drugs, which dulls the symptoms, but truly mentally ill do not take their medicine on a regular basis.  If they grow to depend upon the medicine, and their poor behavior can be explained away by their saying, "Oh, I didn't take my pill today", then that only teaches them that bad behavior can be excused.  We encourage them to "talk it out", which does nothing but put the words to music for them, so to speak.  The fact that the therapist is discouraged from ever showing even a spark of shock or disgust at anything that's said merely feeds the flame.  Therefore the stamp of "mental illness" merely gives free rein and relief of responsibility for acting on a base urge.  The fact of the matter is that anyone who can gain pleasure from murdering an innocent person needs no formal diagnosis.

It seems like to me that we just haven't been really protecting our children for years.  They see violence from an early age in their cartoons and so-called "children's shows", in their toys and video games.  Sometimes it's right there in the home where they have to grow up, so sad to say.  We take our little ones to school to "socialize" them, but instead they are bullied, and our society forces them to grow up before they have the emotional tools with which to do it.  I'm not an expert in these matters and I'm sure someone who has more intelligence than I do could really hit the nail on the head but I don't think the training people are getting in this field is going in the right direction. 

This is now Tuesday.  I'm just putting one foot in front of the other (literally), and looking forward to tomorrow when we go to Tulsa to have the staples and this tight bandage changed.  For awhile I was kind of worried about myself, I've had so many dire warnings and so much conflicting information thrown at me that I just really don't know what the hell I'm supposed to do.  I pick the version that is accompanied with the most clues that might make it more likely, and put myself in God's hands.  I'm not at all afraid to die, I'm just afraid of the process, if you know what I mean.  And I do hope to be better off, after recovery's over, than I was before surgery.  I have not always found this to be the case, unfortunately.
I made some progress yesterday on my VA project.  I looked up the phone number for the Ernest Childers' VA Outpatient Clinic in Tulsa, which is where Hubs normally goes for his annual check-up, and called the phone number that was listed for them there.  When I got the automated selection message, I chose "pharmacy", and this sent me to another selection message, where I chose "Talk to the pharmacist".  This apparently transferred my call to Muskogee, which, according to the internet, is the parent of the Tulsa Ernest Childers' Clinic.  I got a human, who asked how to direct my call, and I said that I needed the pharmacy.  Then I got another automated selection message where I chose "Talk to the pharmacist".  After that, I got another human, asking how to direct my call, and again I said I needed the pharmacy.  Finally, after a long wait, I had the pharmacist.  I explained the situation, how Hubs had opted to use the new Choice Program that came available to people who live more than 40 miles from their nearest VA clinic, and that Hubs had had his obligatory check-up locally, but that we were having trouble finding out where to fax the orders for the next year's worth of his meds.  I mean, why does this have to be so hard?  Our local doctor's staff had no clue what to do with it, gave the form and the approval letter to us and told us to mail it to Tri-West Healthcare Alliance in Arizona.  Well, that was the wrong thing to do, because they sent it back to us (after a delay of ten days), with a note saying we had to get this to the VA, not to them.  It could've been worse, they could've just thrown it in the trash and let us sit there, waiting for the next 3-month supply to arrive, in vain.  The pharmacist listened patiently and said that, well, this was a new program and they were still trying to work out some of the kinks.  She gave me the fax number that she said would work for the faxing of prescription orders.  She should know, right?  So then I called the office of our local doctor by whom Hubs had been given authorization to be seen and talked to a member of the office staff, and she said if he brought the forms and the fax number she'd be happy to fax it.  I told her, if it went through, to keep this number for other patients that they might get through this Choice Program, and she said she would appreciate having this number because they had been unable to get it up to this point.  I did not want to leave this to Hubs to explain, because he Talks In Code to me and I end up having to run him through an entire quiz to get the information that, seems like to me, he could've provided me in just a few words at my first question.  Maybe that's just Hubs, maybe it's just A Man Thing, I don't know.  But he needed to run into town anyway so he took the forms and the prescription orders with him and I hope he did as I instructed him and asked to see the person that had talked to me earlier, because we were on the same page, but I forgot to get her name, dang it.  Well, he came home and said she had made a copy to keep and faxed it, and she gave the original documents back to him.  The person I talked to said she'd call me when she was advised by the machine that it went through.  I've not heard back from her, yet, but I know how doctor's offices are, things get hectic and sometimes the little things fall through the cracks.  If I don't hear from her by noon today, I will call again, and if I learn that it didn't ever go through, we'll take the documents with us when we go to Tulsa tomorrow and go to The Ernest Childers' VA Outpatient Clinic and Hubs can physically GIVE the forms to the pharmacist there.  He has enough meds for one more month and then he is OUT.  All this will totally eliminate the convenience we were supposed to experience by being seen by a local doctor rather than going all the way to Tulsa for his annual VA check-up.  So much for The CHOICE Program. 

I watched an interesting program on OETA's America's Heartland, yesterday.  Been trying to find that episode on their website HERE, but have so far been unsuccessful.  Maybe they just don't have it published yet.  But it looks like there are many other interesting episodes to watch, if you choose to do so.  The episode I saw was about Fredrick Hess, a Large Animal Veterinarian and how there is a real shortage of them.  You know, I can see how this might be a lucrative field for a young person with interests in the area to get into.  When young people choose a field of study, looking to train themselves for their professional lives, they need to look into the future for what is going to be the most stable area.  Our food supply seems like it might be a pretty important thing to us in the future.  And if there is a shortage of Large Animal Vets already, that might be just the ticket, especially for a farm kid that's already had some exposure to farm animals or that's belonged to The Future Farmers of America through their public school system.  There was also a segment about the Wool Capital of the US being in Roswell, AZ, and a "Bee Barge" -- an actual barge that floats around the waterways in Apalachicola, FL, with active bee hives on it.  They get Tupelo Honey from these hives.  Looks like there's also a blog which is written by several individuals under the America's Heartland umbrella.  A piece about Dr. Hess was written by Yolanda Vazquez in 2008 and that is HERE.  It just doesn't go into quite the detail that the segment I saw did.

This is now Thursday.  We had quite a day yesterday.  50+-mile trip to Tulsa was not nearly as uncomfortable on the way down as it was on the way home.  We had an early appointment and because of that, there was not a long wait until we were ushered into a room, the nurse was pleasant and kind.  She took off the bandages and removed the staples that closed my incision.  Then she put on clean bandages.  She told me the incision looked "wonderful" and told me when I would be able to take the bandages off completely.  She asked me to show her how far I could bend my knee while in a seated position, and it was 90, I don't know if that's 90% or 90º, but whichever, they were only shooting for 70 at this time and so she was pleased about that.  We set up my appointment to see Dr. Plaster in four more weeks.  They will take x-rays at that time.  According to the printed instructions I was given after surgery, I also needed an appointment three weeks out from surgery with the Physical Therapist, who will show me how to transition from the walker to a cane and will do some measurements and assessments and probably will give me different exercises than the ones I do three times a day now.  I will be using the cane for three weeks after that.  The Physical Therapy department was down a long hall and we walked down there to get that appointment set up.  And back.  I was also given a labwork request to take to the medical building across the street, so this required getting back into the truck and out again, negotiating a few stairs or a long ramp, and when I presented the form to the woman behind the window she found I had never been a patient in the medical group on whose database they are, and I had not brought my medical cards or identification.  I asked her if she could call Dr. Plaster's office and have them fax the information that she needed and she did that.  I was much relieved.  After a short wait while she input the information she needed, the blood sample was given and then I stopped off at the bathroom in preparation for the hour and 15 minutes during which I would be sitting in the truck, pointed towards home.  The bathroom was not very well outfitted, ergonomically, which was a surprise. 

I get my wheat from Holman Seed, in Collinsville, and that was only a short detour off to the west between Bartlesville and Tulsa, so we stopped off there.  By that point, I wasn't willing to get out and back into the truck one more time, but the nice young woman was nice enough to come out to the truck to talk to me.  Hubs said that we should've just gone straight home, but there is only a small period of time during which wheat seed can be bought.  I didn't want to have to worry that by the time we were out that way again, it would be gone for the year, because then I would be forced to buy organic wheat through the Food Co-Op and pay many times what this wheat costs.  The folks at Holman's told me last year that lots of people buy their hard wheat to make into flour, and so last year was the "trial period" for me.  It makes wonderful bread without all that adding of gluten and so on that I have to do with the organic wheat.  I was happy when we left there with enough wheat for our needs for the coming year.

But the rest of the trip was difficult, I was swelling and I couldn't move around much because the seatbelt had a deathgrip on me.  I was one relieved puppy when we pulled into our drive, went right to bed with the ice-pack, had a pain pill and a stool softener tablet, something for nausea and some yogurt and a nap.  It was a tough day.

I've had a good day today.  Even went up to the kitchen and mixed up bread for the coming week, Hubs did all the walking around stuff.  I had wanted some chicken soup yesterday in the worst way, but though Hubs found a container of frozen chicken broth, he could not find the chicken and noodles I'd put in the freezer and I just was not up to getting out of bed to look for it.  Today I opened the refrigerator - freezer door and there it sat, front and center, eye-level.  Bless Hubs' heart, he tries his best.  We had part of the watermelon Hubs brought in from the garden as our mid-morning snack, (watermelon is sooooo good for clearing out water retention) then chicken noodle soup and crackers for lunch, the last of the pears from our Asian pear tree as an afternoon snack, and we made tuna salad sandwich filling while we were in the kitchen today which will be eaten on newly-baked sandwich buns for supper.  I've done all but the last set of my exercises at this point and will take the last pain pill and stool softener for the day after I have supper.  Then Hubs will follow along behind me while I use the walker to get myself upstairs where I can have a shower (Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.......).  After that we'll settle into the bed and watch Big Brother, which is, by the way, spiraling downwards worse with every episode towards that horrible Vanessa being the winner, and I swear, if there's not some big surprise upheaval to make her go home, I will not watch Big Brother again.  Good grief, those poor kids have such poor negotiating skills, they are all just putty in Vanessa's hands.  I almost always don't like the person who wins but now and then I do and it's really fun to watch somebody that really needs the prize money coming out from the background where they haven't been thought much of a threat, and sending home the movers and shakers, one at a time.  But anyway, that will complete the day for us, pretty much.  We're asleep by 9 or 10 these days.  Sometimes I'm asleep sooner than that, but then I'm up and down a couple of times each night.  Looking forward to ditching this walker for a cane. 

What an exciting life we are having.

Oh, we got some rain this morning, and we've been having cool mornings, which is nice.  Hubs and I go out onto the patio and drink our coffee, listen to the birds wake up and watch the sun come up.

And that's about it for me this time, my knee is telling me I've sat in this chair long enough so it's time to go back to a prone position and some more ice.  Hubs is up in the living room, I can hear him snoring in his LaZBoy.  He is having LaZBoy Withdrawal.  Heh.  But I can make it to the bathroom with the walker, the ice packs are in the chest freezer right here in this room, and I can easily get myself back into bed nowadays.  I'll let him sleep.

Rocking on here, hope you're doing the same.  Hugs xoxoxo 


  1. I'm glad to hear you're getting around ok, Ilene. Hang in there and keep walking. It sounds comforting to know you have your wheat supply in, good for you. Your time in the cool mornings with your husband and coffee are a true blessing. Too bad everyone can't enjoy the same simple pleasure. Take good care of yourself.


  2. Recovery takes time, don't do anymore than you should, be kind to yourself.

    Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady

  3. You have brought up some excellent points...this post has food for thought!
    I have to admit my joints are rebelling from the traveling we have been doing this past month. Do take it easy and I am glad your listening to your knee when it says you have been sitting too long. you are in our prayers.

  4. Ilene, it sounds like you both have this recovery period thing well organized and I am glad it is working for you. These days I feel your pain! I felt like you did sitting in the truck going to and from your appointment.....when we got home I had to brace myself just to get out and go in the house.

    Do government programs every run smooth? I doubt it. They will finally get it ironed out and then it will be so much better. I have a neighbor who has to go to Arkansas for anything pertaining to his veteran's benefits.

    I don't know if communicating and finding things is a man thing in general but mine certainly has both qualities. He has been very helpful during this latest episode so I will not complain!

  5. Glad to drop in and learn you're recovering nicely. I know it must be difficult for you to have to "take it easy" since you seem to be a woman who needs to be on the go. I always think, "This too shall pass!"

  6. P.S. Dear Ilene ~ I can't find your email addy, so here I am writing to you here.

    I want to thank you for that wonderful, uplifting poem you posted in your comment on my latest blog post. Just the reminder I needed.

    Have a great week becoming 'weller' :-) with each new day.

    Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady


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