Sunday, April 30, 2017

Better N Better

I actually found my way from Kilgore to the rehab hospital in Tyler (and home again) without one turnaround.  I arrived in time to see Duane in action. Here’s how you do things in rehab.

First, scoot forward and place both feet on the floor.  Those gauze pads covering his incisions are held in place by waterproof invisible tape.


Next position your walker and lever yourself into a standing position.


Walk yourself to the physical therapy center (accompanied by your pt).


Lever yourself into the chair.  Wait quietly while the pt seat belts you in , adjusts the pedals with blocks for your short legs, and turns on the timer for 20 minutes.  Pedal away.  Duane jokes that he feels like a little kid using blocks to drive a car.


Take a break, then walk to the hand peddling machine for an upper body workout.  Maneuver onto the seat, wait while the pt seat belts you in, swivels the seat and sets the timer for 10 minutes.  Wait a minute!  How’d that creepy guy get there?!!


Wait for the pt to release you, then walk yourself back to your room.

Zoom in on the back of his shirt.


Get settled in your chair, wait for your nurse to apply your ice water packs, turn on the tv for background noise, kiss your wife goodbye, take a nap.


I’m doing much better today also.  I’m not so nervous about driving to the hospital now that I know exactly how to get there and home again.  My ant stings are also better.  The swelling’s gone down quite a bit and the itching is down to a minimum.  The big fridge has been staying reasonably cool so I can store some staples in there until I can eat enough meals to reduce what’s in the little fridge.  The freezer is working now, so that I can preserve some leftovers in there for now also. 

Things are looking up and settling down.

Louise and Duane

Saturday, April 29, 2017


That’s from me, not Duane.  Duane is doing very well.  Even after 3 1/2 hours of pt today his pain has been manageable.  (Son) Jeremy and family stopped by for a visit and brought him a big plate of freshly baked home-made cookies.  He has been well rewarded for his efforts.

I, on the other hand, have not fared as well.  Yesterday while helping Jeremy I was unknowingly standing on a very hidden fire ant colony.   Usually they look like the picture below.  When you disturb it, even just brushing the top lightly, the ants come boiling out looking for the enemy and willing to fight to the death.  If you blow up this pic, you can see how small they are.  Once they come out they swarm all over whatever is there and start biting to get a grip.  Then they use an abdominal stinger to inject a toxic alkaloid venom.  In humans, this is painful and feels like being burned by fire.  They usually eat young plants and seeds, but often attack small animals and can kill them.  The effect on humans is similar to being stung by a wasp or bee.


The mound I was standing on was small and had been flattened and hidden in the grass.  I didn’t see any ants until they started attacking me.  I counted 8 stings,  three caused the big red welt on my toe.  My food swelled just as if I had been stung by a bee.  My ankle swelled also. 


The treatment for these bites is the same for any other sting.  There are many home remedies.  (Son) Matt, an RN who happened to call, told me to take Ibuprophen or a Benadryl tablet.  I only had Benadryl cream but that does help with the itch.  I was wearing sandals, which accounts for the number of bites.  If I had been wearing shoes, the ants would have found their way into the shoes and even socks, but I probably wouldn’t have had as many.  Being a veteran of bee stings, I know that I just have to wait it out. 

I stayed home today doing chores.  Tomorrow I plan on visiting Duane and sitting in on his pt session.

Louise and Duane

Friday, April 28, 2017

Not Too Shabby

Duane said I was mean.  He said that he wasn’t filing another thing and that the files are mine now.  I say that was the pain killers talking.  If he got back home and found the files all cleaned out he would freak out thinking of all of the important stuff I blithely shredded or threw out! 

After my ordeal of driving and trying to navigate at the same time and of dealing with the fridge, I took a walk around the park, took myself to Denny’s for one of their delicious sirloin steak cobb salads and a bit of a read, and went home with a glass of ice for my Diet Pepsi.  After my shower and a piece of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, I was feeling quite human again.

Today was another – and + day.  I awoke after eight solid hours of sleep.  Nice.   I retrieved my breakfast from down the street, then made two trips walking to the laundry.  I met one of my neighbors there and we discovered that we had quite a few similar interests.   As I was chatting with my CA son,  he suggested looking in the truck console for the warranty booklet.  Out of the mouths of babes—there it was.  I was able to contact Lyle with the information he needed but not before his office closed, so it will be Monday before he can get the warranty stuff settled and get on with getting our parts.  Back home with clean laundry, I checked the fridge.  It’s quite dead—65d. inside.  O Well.  I played phone tag with Lyle and was finally able to get all of the information that he requested, but not in time before the weekend.  No matter.  I drove to son Jeremy’s house for a visit and to help him work on his pump house, mainly by keeping him company and holding a board steady  here and there.



In exchange he loaded up his mini fridge for me to use until ours is fixed.  He drove it to the house, unloaded it, and got it running.  He also provided a cooler large enough for 10 pounds of ice (smallest bag available around here).  I do like my tea and my Pepsi over ice.

Duane called a couple of times.  He had 1 1/2 hours of physical therapy in the morning and 1/1/2 hours of occupational therapy in the afternoon.  In exchange for his efforts, he is now allowed to get in and out of bed and his chair and walk with his walker unassisted.  Yay!  As part of his occupational therapy he finally got a shower!  Double yay!

More mundane stuff next time.

Louise and Duane

Thursday, April 27, 2017

- But+


When I returned home last night (Wednesday), I discovered that our refrigerator was warm and our freezers were merely cold.  I turned the power to propane and the temperature to the coldest.  This morning the fridge was warmer and the frozen stuff was thawed.  At the rv park office the manager called Lyle’s RV Service,the mobile rv tech who happened to have a cancellation and was able to see me about 10 am.  Meanwhile, the manager offered me fridge space in his little travel trailer which is stored on a spot three sites from us.  This saved me the trouble of hauling my perishables three miles to our son’s house and kept them easily accessible.   Lyle checked everything over and was unable to find the cause of the failure.  (Once before, while we were in Arizona, the fridge lost coldness.  We used the propane/ high temp trick which kept it cold and the freezer from totally thawing, but the fridge started working again on its own.  We switched it back to normal settings and hadn’t had any problem until now.)  Lyle unfastened the temperature control thingy (note the technical term) on the top of the fridge box where the light is located, and turned the temperature past our highest setting.  He said to put a plastic cup of water on the top shelf and to take out everything that could freeze, then close the doors and leave them shut for at least 24 hours.  If the water froze then the temp control thingy would be the culprit.  Otherwise, the cooling unit was shot.  I’m crossing my fingers when I open the door.  Since he knew we would nee further work and couldn’t find the extended warranty, he charged me $75 for the initial service call but will reduce any further charges by that amount if it is covered.

We do have an extended warranty, but I was unable to find it.  Since Duane has taken over all of the office duties, his filing system makes me weep.  I try to stay out of the file drawers, but was forced to root through them to find this warranty.  He said it was either in the warranty file, or in the plastic bag of stuff that came with the rig when it was new, or in the “house” file.  I ask you!!!  I looked through them all.  Nada.  I took them to the hospital with me.  He searched and found the receipt that showed the date and contract number of the warranty,  but not what it covers.  Then he said that we last used it when we had the slide fixed in California.  Heaven knows where he put it after that.  I’m hoping the contract number will suffice.

More about my Thursday next time.

Louise and Duane


P.S.  Lyle said that every time you open your fridge door (not sure whether he meant only rv fridges or all fridges) that it takes three hours to regain the temperature lost while the door was open.  I told my son that.  He said that he was constantly telling his kids that.  He said Luke, the 8 year old, opens both the freezer and fridge door even when he knows what he wants—which is about 1/2 the time. 

All Smiles, But…

Tuesday morning and all prepped for bilateral knee surgery, Duane’s smiling, but he is not really ready for this.  He is looking forward to getting “the good stuff”.  His surgery was the first of the day at 7:15.  By 10:30 he was in his room and drowsy enough to say that he wanted to go back to sleep.  He had no real pain that day, just an achiness.  His iv included some strong pain blocker.  In the afternoon he got out of bed, walked several feet with his walker, then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening sitting in his chair.  The PT squad helped all the way.  When he was inching along with the walker one person was in front coaching and steading the walker,while the other was coming right behind with the chair.  Nighttime was a nightmare.  The iv kept him awake every 1/2 hr to 1 hour with the urinal.


Today (Wednesday), after breakfast the PT team got him out of bed and dressed, then walked down the hall and back in tandem as explained above.  He went to 20 minutes of  group therapy in the afternoon.  It was a killer because he no longer had his iv or his pain blocker.  He had other meds, but not nearly as strong.  With the swelling and the wraps,  he couldn’t bend his knees so that his feed were flat on the floor, or raise his legs, but had to do 20 reps with each leg in both of those positions.  There were others of course, but these were the hardest.  In this picture you can see the knee wraps which will come off tomorrow (Thursday).  You can’t really see that the left knee is swelled a lot bigger than the right.  After therapy he spent the afternoon and evening in the chair except to make trips to the bathroom.  This pic was taken after group therapy  he is smiling because I told him to do so.  In reality, he wanted his ice packs and his blanket and to be left alone for a while with his pain and exhaustion.  Just after I took this he was I put on the ice packs and snuggled himin his blanket.  He was a  happy camper again.


I left for home just after this.  I will go back tomorrow morning and spend the day.  In the afternoon, barring any problems, Duane will be transported down the road to a physical therapy hospital for another week.

No rest for the weary wicked.

Louise and Duane

Monday, April 24, 2017

“Lasts” Day

Today was such a beautiful day that we sat inside all morning.  I had the windows and doors open enjoying the breeze while I talked on the phone.  After lunch Duane took a last bike ride for a while.  I sewed a Christmas present.  We did take our daily walk, the last one together for a while.  Duane ate his last meal—fasting required after midnight.  He had to shower this evening in special antibacterial soap, then wash each knee with special antibacterial wipes for three minutes—twice.  We were informed that his surgery will be at 7:15 Tuesday.  This means that we have to be there at 5:15, and that means that Duane has to get up at 4 to shower in his special disinfectant soap again and be ready to leave at 4:30.  YUCK!!!

I’m posting this tonight since we won’t have time in the morning.  We expect all to go well and to have a good report for you tomorrow.

Louise and Duane

One Last Sunday

Since we will soon be staying home a lot, we spent Sunday with the family.  We started the day with breakfast at Denny’s.  Jennifer, as usual, decided that she was much too comfy in bed.


The rain kept everyone inside on Saturday, so today ended up being chore day. 

Jennifer power washed  the porch wall.


The rest of us went down to the Fishin’ Shack at the river.  Jeremy explained that the pump was installed in the new well. Since it didn’t need to go all the way to the bottom, it is suspended partway down the pipe and  held in place by those straps


Duane helped him to build a frame for the concrete floor around the well head.  Eventually a pump house will be built here.


I played ‘good Grandma’ and followed kids around with the camera.  Luke discovered this unfortunate black snake.  Jeremy planted grass by laying down this mesh which held grass seed.  Unfortunately, this snake got under the mesh somehow and couldn’t get out.  It was in bad shape with several raw patches where it scraped off its scales and skin.


We let it rest in the sun for a while before releasing it away from the ‘mesh’ grass.  It eventually crawled away.


Meanwhile Allie honed her balance skills, (Jeremy was below, ready to catch),IMG_1237

and Luke got brave. That’s Jeremy holding Allie below.  She didn’t fall.  She didn’t want to shinny down the pole so she lowered herself onto his shoulders and he lifted her down.


Back at the house Luke and Gramps rested with a game of Battle.  Battle is the Texan name for what we Midwesterners call War.  This was a rainy day staple at my house when I was growing up. I found it amazing that Duane, who grew up only about an hour away from where I lived,  had never played it.


Meanwhile I went to see if Allie wanted to play cards.  She was in her room doing homework.  This is her nice desk.


This is where she was doing her work.


Too nice a day for cards.  We went outside for fun and games.



About 3:00 Luke had to go to baseball practice. Duane decided that he’d had enough fun and we headed to the house.

One more day of freedom.

Louise and Duane

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Today was gray and rainy with steadily falling temps.  My response is below.






Tomorrow will be better.

Louise and Duane

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Destination This Time

Beautiful riding weather made it necessary to head out on an all-day ride.  Today we had a definite destination in mind.  Once again we traveled north west toward Greenville, then kept on going to the tiny burg of Celeste.



In Celeste US69 goes through between two short rows of buildings.  The ones on the north are empty and boarded up.  The ones on the south are used for a Masonic Lodge, a saddlery/leather store, and this wonderful quilt shop.


Inside Vickey and her staff made my visit productive and satisfactory.  I found a large display of cowboy fabrics, the latest projects, new and retro fabric patterns,  and of course Christmas fabric.  All of the fabric I looked at was priced at $11-$12 per yard.  The shop also has a long quilter and offers classes and a three day seminar.  If you are traveling in your rv, there is plenty of room to park in front of the defunct shops across the street.  It is worth a visit.


When I emerged from Quilt Mercantile we rode another 15 miles to our son Duane Jr.’s business and gym in Trenton.  We goofed off with grandkids Coy, Alyssa, Ava and Emma for a couple of hours while Jr. worked and Brandey conducted a class in the gym. 


Outside we discovered that they had added a trampoline to the two playsets (see Cooperation blog).


When Jr. was done for the day Brandey was still occupied, so Jr was in charge of feeding children.  We followed him to this place in Leonard.


I got a chuckle out of some of the menu items, especially the Oklahoma Prime Rib and


the piggy themed appetizers.


Everyone say ‘cheese’, except for Ava, who is sucking a lemon.


After a thoroughly satisfying day we completed it with a pleasurable ride home in the beautiful evening light.


As dusk descended and the temperature started dropping, we stopped in this picnic pull-off to add a layer, then continued our ride.


Our ride today was a round trip of about 230 miles and 5 hours.  Nice.

Only a couple more days of freedom.

Louise and Duane

Friday, April 21, 2017

Long Ride

From Kilgore, TX to Shreveport, LA is only about 80 miles and 1 1/2 hours, but it seems  longer because I20 is pretty boring:  straight, flat, and not much to see.



I was on the lookout for new and interesting things.  All we saw was this gas burn off.  Neither of us remembered this being there last year.


Crossing the state line it took me a minute to realize what was so different.  Gone is the long grass studded with wildflowers, and replaced by mown roadsides (at least along the Interstate).


Everything was as we remembered it in Louisiana in general and Shreveport in particular, including the atrociously bumpy roads.  Warning to rvers:  Traveling over these roads can open cupboard doors, spill water jugs, and leave you needing dental work. Shreveport also has icky tasting water.  I’d forgotten about that until we bought a fountain drink at a fast food place.  It tasted of moss.  Duane couldn’t taste it, of course.  This taste is not dangerous, nor is it consistant.  Sometimes I can taste it, sometimes not.  It is  just something unique to the water system. 


We visited our dentist and our financial guy, both with satisfactory results.  That done,  jarred our way back to Texas.  We were going to pick up US80 for a more picturesque ride, but opted instead to go south to visit our old house.  We lived here for 4 years until Duane retired from the Shreveport GM plant.  The place is for sale again. We decided that we both liked this place and would consider it if we were done traveling—which we’re not.


We opted to take FM2625 west.  This is a typical TX country road:  very little traffic, a few dips and curves, and scenery varying between foliage and scatterings of houses/towns. 


As we travel these roads we’ve noticed that in every town/city, we’ve found at least one donut shop,


some kind of church (usually some kind of Baptist church),



a Tex Mex or burger or fried chicken place—sometimes all three,


and some kind of dollar store.


These places are scattered around between towns.


We enjoyed our ride up until about 10 miles from home where we ran into a heavy rain shower.  Fortunately we were able to run out of it without getting too wet.  We made it home in time to avoid two more heavy showers before the rain finally moved on.

More rain in the forecast but we hope to take more bike rides.

Louise and Duane