Wilderness — A Meditation

Thursday, May 27, 2010

HOUSE - is blogging simply a community effort

I was about to share the process of healing after my first attempt at becoming a bionic person.

However, on Sunday evening we watched HOUSE. There she was, a patient with an undiagnosible ailment; and what was she doing? Checking in with her blog respondents about whether to use pig gut or plastic in a surgical procedure.

Hummm..wisdom prevailed and I didn't ask any of you whether I ought to go off all my meds after an allergic reaction created a rash from nose to knee. I just quit the meds - called the doctor the next day to ask about the wisdom of my decision.

His response - Do as you like. Whew!

No more blood thinners, no more narcotic pain relief, no more anti-inflamatory, no more analgesic.

You can guess the results - lots of discomfort -not in the replaced knee, but in my upper leg and lower back. They must toss bodies to and fro on the surgical table to get at the necessary bits, cause I do have some strained tendons and muscles.

After two sleepless nights, I reniged - Yep, I'm back on the analgesics - Paracetamol is good stuff and doesn't seem to cause the rash.

And - ice is good! after each exercise session designed to move the soft parts of my knee to allow the bionic parts to operate, I ice!!

So, please forgive any spelling and typo errors - I'm on my little laptop tablet. no spell check handy..the screen is small.

After all this effort, I'm resolved: we're headed for Whitney as soon as we get to America - pain free, I hope

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Samoans Rock

They climb trees pretty damn well, too.

Five handsome Samoan lads, one beautiful Soman gal, and Mr. Moli, their headman, have just provided a little light to our back veranda by cutting a huge limb (about seventy feet off the ground) from our neighbour's Morton Bay Fig - of course, said limb was overhanging our back garden and impeding the growth of our full bodied Macadamia tree that was edging closer and closer to the back deck of the house in search of light.

So, Macadamia has been trimmed back to harvestable size, light streams into the wintery garden, and the sounds of Samoan and buzz saws will soon be a vestige of the past.

Love these guys, love their energy, love their skill.

A lovely autumn Saturday in Brizzie town

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'd Write More If My Knee Didn't Hurt

Ok, so while I was whinging over here in my southern corner of the universe trying to find a comfy spot to sit while typing this post on my desktop computer and at the same time trying to keep my right knee above my heart (go on, you try it..and don't laugh!! :), I found the online info on the surgery used on my knee last Tuesday morning so jazzy that I decided to go ahead and write anyhow. (Distraction - pain relief is all about distraction.)

Really, it's all about ME! Yep! I'm not sick, I'm rehabilitating! And there's a difference, I promise you. The pain at this point is about using ligaments, tendons, and muscles that were manhandled on the surgical table a week ago. I'm certain neither my knee nor my thigh, nor my hips were ever really meant to move in the directions the surgeons managed during that 2 1/2 hour process. (Unicompartmental surgery is more complex than the whole knee replacement; thus the longer time on the table.)

Fortunately, I had a great anaesthetist looking after my welfare and so know absolutely nothing about it - until afterwards when the nerve blocks were removed and my usually strong (if unbalanced) right leg decided to let me know just how abused it felt.

In fact, the pain is breathable and endurable. I have Tramadol at night and analgesic pain relief during the daytime. I could use the Tramadol during daytime too, but it's way too pleasant - better to avoid the addiction.

So, only half of my right knee has been replaced which means the surgeon only cut 25% of the bone that a full Monty would require.

You do realize that means I have about 25% of the pain and recovery issues as well. Hooray for a healthy right side of my right knee.

In 1979 while backpacking in the Sierra (Mt. Olancha) my right knee gave way, the meniscus tore. No arthroscopy back then. I knew I would have to wait. I had no idea just how long that wait would be.

Finally, in 2005 the last of the left half of the meniscus in my right knee gave way - bone on bone for the past 4 1/2 years -no more treks in the mountains and lots of incidents of falling over on busy city streets while walking in conversation with friends and family (Oaxaca, Mexico and Park Road, Brisbane are favourite examples)

However, the most amazing aspect of my situation is that although for the past 22 years, half knee (unicompartimental) replacements have been available in the UK, Australia, Europe, and Asia - they have only been available in the USA for the last two years (and then performed only by a very small number of specialized surgeons in very limited circumstances).

So how lucky do you think I am to be an American living in Australia? Here is my surgeon, Peter Meyers, an old pro at this game, a surgeon who volunteers as team doctor for the Queensland Reds (Rugby Union Footie Team) and smiles delightedly at old women like me who come in and claim, 'New half knee, please. I'm missing my mountains.'

Peter warned that I probably won't be able to trek 15 miles a day anymore - but I never did, so who cares. If I can put in a solid 8 miles a day in my beloved Sierra, trek in Nepal with the upwardly mobile old folks looking for adventure tour groups, who cares.

Prognosis is that I have just extended my healthy life style for an additional two years, that I will be able to exercise pain free to enable me to get my weight back down to a healthy 160 pounds, and that recovery will be relatively short.

I could flash my ex-rays so you can see what my knee now looks like, but the visuals and explanations on line give a more vivid summary. Here's the addy:

I'll keep you updated on my new bionic circumstance. Life is Good and I'm not referring to air conditioners or kitchen appliances.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


A week later I jot you this note from my little Toshiba notebook whilst lounging in the guest bedroom. Arrived home around noon - six days after surgery - a bit longer than expected due to some issues in the healing process of my wound.

Family is being very very good. chastising me regularly for walking when I'm supposed to be lounging, making dinner, cleaning up, arranging bedding and lamps and glasses of water. Making questionable jokes and sitting with me to watch fav tv shows - good wife and house!

So, it's Sunday evening and all's well. I have a bit of stainless steel and plastic on the inside of my right knee - I seem to stand straight and walk without a limp! Hooray for bionics.

MOre laters..sleep calls..

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday - Time to see the surgeon

Ok, dear world -

I'm seeking all the blasts of positive energy you are willing to send in my direction. In four hours I check into Brisbane Private Hospital in preparation for tomorrow morning's knee replacement surgery.

All my tears, my brand new hives, and my reticence to go under the knife (ah er saw) aside. My Aussie family has been particularly supportive, but they don't deal with tears well - useless from their perspective, these tears of mine!

Instead they volunteered to set up my indoor bicycle again so I could listen to Enya and peddle into acceptance. Seems to have worked.

Cat Stevens is currently on my puter, Enya on my ipod. My daypack is full of nighties, dressing gown (robe), slippers, A Fine Balance, a superb Indian novel by Rohinton Mistry, rutin tablets - I go nowhere without my rutin, a toothbrush and propolis toothpaste.

What else could I possibly need?

Just your good wishes! Thanks in advance.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Home Again!


Trip was delicious - food was good, too!

So much to report, so little energy to do so. Maybe laters..

Loved the great green north! Enjoyed the peeps; slept well in the midst of rainstorms; fascinated by the jungle ah, er, rain forest!

Good to sleep last night in my own bed, hated awakening to the brick cutters and buzz saws on the neighbourhood construction sites - time to pack up and go again!

Only this time it will be into the hospital for surgery on my right knee..On Monday at 3....

Will write before then..see the pics of the lovely land through which we travelled.