Wednesday, May 31, 2017

No Longer Puzzled

After skipping two pt sessions—one because of the threat of blood clots, and one because of the Labor Day holiday—Duane went through his usual pt  today. This consists of standing stretches between the bars,  stretches lying on a padded table, and 3 machines.   By the time he was was done, he couldn’t complete his last machine.  He stretched out a bit by walking around the Walmart, but he went straight to his chair at home and took a nap.  In the evening we walked a mile before tucking in for the night.

Last blog I reported that I was working on a 3-d jigsaw puzzle.  I’d completed the house, but had a bunch of pieces and several frames left.  After a couple of hours piecing these together I discovered that the house was the complete puzzle.  The frames and extra pieces IMG_1422

were what was left after the jigsaw machine stamped out the house parts.  The machine cut the background into puzzle pieces.  I have no idea why the previous owner didn’t throw them out.  I did.  This evening I borrowed a regular jigsaw from the rv park stash. 

Keeping cool, or at least trying,

Louise and Duane

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Another fun way to beat the heat—lay low with a jigsaw puzzle.  I found this one in my stash.  This is different from any other 3-D jigsaw I’ve worked. 


Sorting the pieces had me scratching my head.  There seemed to be several borders.


After 1/2 hour or so I had the house and its ‘yard’ put together.  It wasn’t hard, just tricky.  I learned to put the notched pieces—like the porch roof—onto the house before putting the interlocking pieces together.


It took me much longer to figure out that there are about 5 platforms to this puzzle, each fitting inside the other and forming the yard outside the house.  I think. The picture on the box doesn’t show anything but what I’ve already done, so everything else is guesswork!  Should keep me busy for a while.


  The air at 8 pm was warm and muggy and very still.  There was a lot of moisture in the air, which took the sharp edges from the moon and made the sunset pink and purple clouds smudgy but still very pretty. We enjoyed the view as we took our evening walk.

Back to pt tomorrow.

Louise and Duane

Monday, May 29, 2017

I Cannot Tell A Lie

What better way is there to have fun on a hot muggy day than to fire up the oven and bake a batch of cookies?  Ok, so I’m nuts, but you knew that. Remember-- I make chili all summer long. The cookies I made today are so delightfully delicious that I must share the recipe with you.  I call them  Alternative Oatmeal Cookies:

Preheat oven to 350 d f

Cream together 3/4 cup butter   1 cup brown sugar  1/2 cup white sugar

Stir in one beaten egg

Add 1/4 cup molasses (or dark brown Karo syrup)  1 teaspoon vanilla (I sometimes make that 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 rum extract)

Sift or whisk together 1 cup all purpose flour  1/2 teaspoon baking soda  1/2 teaspoon sea salt (optional, but really adds to the flavors)

Add flour mixture then stir in 3 cups quick-cook oatmeal

Add white chocolate chips, dried fruit (cranberries or cherries are best I plump them by soaking them in water 5-10 minutes) and chunked white nuts like macadamia or raw almonds.  Add as much or as little as you wish.

Drop onto baking sheets, bake 12-15 min. or whatever time is best for your oven.   They will be soft and chewy. 

And very deliciously yummy, especially with rum extract!

Louise and Duane

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fry Day

Every Memorial Day weekend (son) Jeremy invites various friends, family, and neighbors over for a fishing tournament and (pot luck) fish fry.  Some of those people invite their relatives and friends.  When we arrived for the party we found only a handful of people we know, and some people Jeremy didn’t know either!  No matter, everyone is welcome.  Duane ensconced himself on the back porch for a chat with Rob, (who is married to Jeremy’s (step) sis, Sherra.  If they look to their left, they can see


Jeremy’s hydroponic tomato garden.  Underneath the porch


Jeremy was hard at work deboning and fileting catfish, and Allie and her friend were spiral cutting potatoes.  From there the food went just outside to



the fryers.  Those people in the distance are the potato peelers.


The fish was made in spicy and plain batches.  The fries are in the back next to an extra hot batch of fish waiting to be cooked. In addition to fish and French fries there was potato salad, baked beans,


and brownies, and several dozen cookies.

Allie and her friend also made some funnel cake batter.  The funnel cake was delicious. 


Looking straight out, Duane and Rob could see all of the activity in the pool.


These guys, including Luke and his cousin Ryan (on the right), decided it would be fun to spray water up on the trampoline.


As a reward for his hard work, Jeremy enjoyed a visit with Sherra.


A late afternoon thunderstorm moved everyone to shelter, but the party continued outside on the porches and inside the house.


We left between storms, and came home to no electric.  Our refrigerator wasn’t working either.  It was supposed to automatically change to propane.  We switched propane tanks, but it still wouldn’t work on propane.  We turned on the generator to get the fridge temp down, and were preparing to turn it off again when the power came back on.  We went back to electric and tried the fridge on propane again.  This time it worked.  Yay!

That was exciting!

Louise and Duane

Friday, May 26, 2017

Backdoor Permission

All of Duane’s tests,we learned, were looking for blood clots because an indicator in his blood had a number of 8.3 instead of the normal .0-.04.  All of his subsequent tests—chest x-ray and ct scan, and leg sonogram—turned up nothing.  Duane went to pt this morning before his afternoon sonogram.  When he explained his situation to his therapist, she said that she would rather wait until all tests were in before she resumed pt.  Home he went to lay low until he got the ok from our doctor to resume exercise and pt.  I lay low because the weather turned hot ( mid 80’s, with an afternoon high of 91) and humid by 10 am and made it too hot for a 2 mile walk.  About 4 pm, the dr.’s office called to say that there was no indication of any clots and no indication that Duane couldn’t resume his activities.  She could not say anything definite because the doc was out of the office all next week and hadn’t looked at the last test result and hadn’t given her official ok.  Hmmm.  We decided to take  walk around at 6 pm.  Bad idea.  We made a mile at about 2 mph, and decided that we should have waited until after sunset.  It was hot inside our house too.  Duane did a few chair exercises and called it good enough. 

More hot weather tomorrow before we get a break.

Louise and Duane

Thursday, May 25, 2017

No Fun

It’s my fault that today we had to make two trips to Tyler for tests.  I had called our doctor to voice my concerns over Duane’s behavior.  In the last week or so his optimistic attitude and energy level plummeted.  I wanted to know if this “down” attitude and tendency to sleep instead of do home pt was a natural part of a long recovery or if his medications needed a second look, or if there could be some other concern.  Our dr. (I really mean the nurse on dr.’s orders, of course) replied by ordering a lung xray and more bloodwork.  To cheer him up I suggested that (we have breakfast out (since breakfast is his favorite meal out) after his fasting bloodwork.  His response was so-so.  After he ate he said that it “just didn’t taste right.”  Hmmm.  This evening our dr called again to say that he needed a ct scan of his lungs, which he had this evening.  He also is scheduled for a sonogram tomorrow afternoon.  I will tell his therapist tomorrow morning what has been going on.

More info as we get it.

Louise and Duane

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Squinty Eyed

We were woken this morning by a bright light.  We squinted through the day with sunglasses under clear blue sky, bright sun and a few buffy white clouds pushed around by a cooling wind.  A perfect spring day!!!!  We welcomed it with open arms.  Duane was so energized that he walked a mile and a half!.  One lady we passed was just standing outside with her arms open and her face to the sun.  Dogs were thoroughly walked, children sent outside to run around, dinners cooked on grills, smiling faces everywhere.  You’d think we lived with the Ingalls’ in the Little House On The Prairie! 

What a great day!  We hope you had one too!

Louise and Duane

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Who’s The Genius?

I’ve been wondering about the answer to this question since I’ve been seeing ads for those “medical device” services.  You know the ones I mean.  They give you free back or knee braces or some such and will contact Medicare for you.  “Of course”, I think, “you will have to give them your Medicare claim number for that.”  That got me to thinking about my Medicare card.  When I got my Social Security card, I was told to never carry it, but to lock it away in a safe place.  Once anyone got my number, I was warned, then my life and my finances would be toast.  Then I received my Medicare card.  “Carry it with you!”  I was told.  Really?  When I looked at my brand new Medicare card number what did I find but my Social Security number!  So let’s recap.  Hide my Social Security card and carry my Medicare card.  The question remains, “Who’s the genius who decided that my Medicare claim number should be my Social Security number?” 

Just one of my musings on yet another rainy day.

Louise and Duane

Monday, May 22, 2017


If you have read my chilly rainy day blogs before, you would not be surprised to see beautiful, brightly colored flowers as my way of thumbing my nose at the weather. 

Instead, today I give you goofy faces!



Take that, nasty weather!

Louise and Duane

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Almost Official

To qualify as a nasty day, the weather has to be chilly and wet.  This morning was officially nasty weather-wise, but a great time to visit and play with the family.  Luke missed this morning’s breakfast at Denny’s because he stayed up too late last night, but we took breakfast home to him.  Allie, who loves a rainy day, present and chatty. (Don’t be deceived by her picture.  She is a just bit self-conscious about her metal mouth.)  Jennifer, as usual, opted for a sleep-in.


The rain persisted so we decided to be productive and make peach pie.  We played a lively game of Payday while Jennifer enjoyed her pizza breakfast and the pie baked.


Sorry, I forgot to take a pic of the pie until it was almost gone.  We opted for a crumble crust instead of a double crust.  It was much yummier.  Grandpa, the invalid, got to take home the last two pieces.


About 2 pm Duane lost energy and needed to sit in his recliner with ice on his knees.  The clouds thinned out and let the sun shine enough to warm the air past 60 d.  After a couple of hours, though, the clouds and chilly,damp air returned, but not the rain.

Nice to get out for a visit.

Louise and Duane

Saturday, May 20, 2017


We received an owl today!  Our newlyweds went to Wizarding World of Harry Potter for their honeymoon, and sent us greetings via a postcard!  (In the Harry Potter stories wizarding  people send messages via owls.)

That was the most exciting thing that happened today!  Oh wait!  That was the only thing that happened today!

Yeesh, this recovery business is slow and boring!

Louise and Duane 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Trying To Keep Cool


It’s a good thing that we did our running around yesterday.  Today was stinking hot!  At 9 am when we left for morning pt, the temp was in the upper eighties with a warm breeze.  Luckily the sky was mostly overcast, but when the sun was out we baked.  After pt we made one stop to pick up a prescription, then stayed in most of the day with the air conditioner trying to keep us from sweltering. About 4 pm we did walk one round of the park (1/2 mile) before we gave it up as a lost cause.  Duane napped a lot, so I had plenty of time to enjoy myself.  About 9 pm I decided to get in the rest of my walk.  The sky was still mostly overcast, with one or two bright stars overcoming the clouds and  street lights.  The temp was still in the 80’s, but a cool breeze made the walk quite pleasant.  

That’s about it.

Louise and Duane

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Afternoon pt today consisted of steps (in and out of the house and the truck), and walking (around several stores) in Longview.  Our first stop was to shop for new walking shoes.  Duane needed new ones to break in to his new gait.  Mine had no tread left. 

Since it’s been 2 1/2 years since I shopped for new walking shoes, I’d forgotten that this place is an exercise in futility for us.  We don’t run, but we do serious walking for exercise.  Dick’s caters to runners.  They don’t sell walking shoes, but cross-overs, trainers, and running shoes.  I find that these have two drawbacks.  They either tip you forward, or they have Memory foam which quickly breaks down.  The new styles and colors are not attractive either.  We had better luck at Academy.  Here, after a a bit of looking, we both found our favorite brands, New Balance and Saucony, both of which still make walking shoes. 


Next stop was a quick trip around Sam’s Club for a few big package items, then time for lunch.  Our pick was a well-established pizza place in Longview called Pizza King.  Yelp gave it good reviews.  We found it to be exactly what we like:  nice thin crispy crust, good sauce, good service, reasonable price.

By the time we returned home (4 hours later), Duane was done. 

Back to the grind next time.

Louise and Duane

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Our life is full of stuff to do but it’s all the same stuff: pt, walking, meals, tv, resting.  For a change today after Duane’s therapist tortured him by making him bend his knees back past 90 degrees, we walked around the grocery gathering essentials, then treated ourselves to lunch at Burger King.  Woo hoo!!.  For something different this afternoon, I made a pot of my version of Italian Wedding Soup.  Mine is red, not green.  I was thinking about making chili also, but decided that one soup a day was enough excitement. 

Thinking about chili reminded me of this story.  This happened when we had a house in Texas.  I met a woman from Mississippi who was living in Louisiana.  One hot afternoon we were out shopping and what not, when she heaved a big sigh.  When I asked what prompted it she said that she was trying to think of what to make for dinner when she got home.  She  said that she wanted some chili but it was too hot for chili.  I laughed!  I said “Wait a minute.  You go from an air-conditioned house to your air-conditioned car to air-conditioned buildings and back again.  How can it be too hot for chili?”  She said that’s what her mama always said and that they never had chili until it got cold enough.  I asked if heavy dishes like roast and potatoes had to wait for cold weather, and received a “no”.  She could not explain the difference.

I left her to her dilemma, went home and made chili.

Maybe tomorrow we’ll do something interesting.

Duane and Louise

PS  The temp outside was in the eighties.  The soup was wonderfully delicious.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Staying Home

Hot sun, cool breeze in the am, warm in the afternoon.  We walked a mile, then did morning pt at home.  After lunch we walked another mile, but Duane was too tired for afternoon pt.  He stayed in his chair most of the day, dozing and perusing Facebook. 

Since we had such a boring day, I thought I might show you what I was working on before Duane arrived home.  These are wildlife prints that I picked up years ago, probably from a swap table somewhere.  I had originally planned to matte them with burlap and give them to Jeremy and Jennifer for their new house they were building.  They didn’t get done.  I renewed the project when Jeremy started building his fishin’ shack.  I told him that I had something to make that he could hang in the shack, but it was a Christmas surprise.  After 12 years he will finally get his “custom framed” pictures. 




Pictures—free, burlap—so cheap it was free, frames—$15.  Custom homemade Christmas gift—priceless.

Morning torture tomorrow.

Louise and Duane

Monday, May 15, 2017


Duane slept in the bed last night.  That means that his legs were fully extended and that the backs of his knees rested on the bed.  Yay!  He was rested and ready for his am pt, but his therapist pushed him and he was tired for his pm doctor’s appointment.  This was a post op follow up with our regular doctor.  In the Trinity Mother Francis medical complex, all of the doctors records of a patient are available to his/her regular doctor.  Today our Dr. chatted with him a bit, she tweaked his meds, and ordered a blood test, then we went home.  Duane napped and rested all afternoon.  I spent several hours finishing the jigsaw puzzle in the rv  library.

Staying home tomorrow.

Louise and Duane

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Less About Me

When I wrote More About Me, my intention was to draw attention to the amount of work that caregivers shoulder in addition to their regular duties.  I know that all of my extra activities—mental, physical and emotional—are very light in comparison to someone who is care giver to someone who will never fully recover, or will never recover at all.  Unfortunately, that didn’t come across in the blog.  I guess that I was too tired to realize that I didn’t exactly say what I meant. 

Duane still has a long way to go, but every day he takes on more and more of his care.  His recovery is actually accelerating as he keeps working hard.  That leaves more time for my recovery.  I find that I need to get enough rest and relaxation so that when Duane gets grumpy or discouraged, I can keep my good humor and hopefully restore his.  I don’t see how people in it for the long term can do it.  I just know that I’m glad that I don’t have to.

One more doctor visit tomorrow.

Louise and Duane

Saturday, May 13, 2017


During Duane’s post op visit with his surgeon, I asked him about our conversation with the physical therapist that told us that after knee replacement surgeries some surgeons don’t replace the patella.   (See Things That Make You Go Hmmm posting).  He said that at one time there was some debate about that, but that anyone who doesn’t put in plastic kneecaps is behind the current medical thinking.  He said that the plastic pieces are glued onto the hardware, just as the hardware is glued onto the reshaped bones.  (See pic of x-ray in Progression blog.)  He said to listen, then tapped his own replaced knee.  It sounded like a thin piece of plastic flexing.  I told Duane that when all the swelling went down, he could amuse his grandchildren with his new patellae. 

More stuff next time.

Louise and Duane

Friday, May 12, 2017


April 25, pre surgery


Same day, post surgery


Thursday April 27, two days post op still in surgical hospital


Same day, new waterproof, germ-proof bandages, picture taken after transport to physical therapy hospital


May 12, 15 days after bandages applied they are coming loose.  The puckers in the tape are caused by a decrease in swelling.  Taken at the surgeon’s office after discharge from the physical therapy hospital.


May 12, incisions are healed—the bandages stay off.  The stitches, which are under the skin, will eventually dissolve.


Xray of right knee, with plastic patella glued on.  The top plastic piece is also inside the bone as is the bottom one.


Tomorrow, more about kneecaps.

Louise and Duane

Thursday, May 11, 2017

All About Me

Since Duane has returned home, he has improved enough to take back some of his responsibilities including managing his at-home pt, taking care of our immediate financial responsibilities, informing family and friends of his progress, and managing his personal hygiene.  Since he is still very physically handicapped and still taking pain medicine on a regular basis, my jobs are varied and many.

As his pt coach, I set up his inside work area, keep count of the time of each exercise and the number of reps, and help decide which ones are most important and must be done.  I also hand him the props he uses in some of his exercises, and assist him with bending and stretching his legs  and in standing up when he needs it.  I accompany him on his outside walks.

As his nurse, I manage his medications, helping keep his am and pm meds separate, and remembering which pain medicine is which and when he took it last.  I also help with his ice water packs when he asks, keep his glass filled with ice water, and make sure he is comfortable when he is resting. 

As his personal assistant, I remind him of his appointments, and make sure he gets to them in time.  At home I fetch and carry such things as the computer and anything he needs to work on computer, make sure his electronics are charged and at hand, and make sure he can reach things he needs.

As his nutritionist, I keep him well-fed with delicious nutritious food.

I was prepared for all of these duties when I picked him up at the hospital, but I also realized that we would both need some “me” time and prepared for that too. 

While Duane is occupied with napping, tv, or electronics, I try leave him alone in the room. I go outside and walk, or go to the park library and work on the current jigsaw puzzle.  Inside I go to the back, close the door and read or write in my journal.

We are both looking forward to the time when Duane is able to sit comfortably with his knees at a 90 degree angle.  Then he can spend more time in the back at the computer table, and watch cable channels on tv, and I can sit on the comfy couch.

By the way, yesterday I said that today was his surgical follow-up.  My mistake, that appointment is tomorrow.

Louise and Duane

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Duane and I agreed that it would be in his best interests to establish at home a routine similar to the one that he followed in the rehab hospital.  That plan will easily incorporate his out patient pt and allow him to have more control in his recovery. 

Here’s our plan.  Sometime in the morning he takes his pain medicine then we walk around the rv park.  He decides how long we walk depending on how he is feeling.  When he has walked enough, we do morning pt.  When we are at home, he decides the order of his exercises.  Sometime after lunch we do the same, but the exercises are more occupational and less intensive than the regular pt.  If we  have a doctor’s appointment in the am, Duane will incorporate as many of his intensive pt exercises in the afternoon as he is able.  For afternoon appointments he can incorporate going up and down steps and getting in and out of the truck into his occupational therapy plan.


This plan is intentionally fluid to accommodate appointments, weather conditions, and how well Duane feels..  By having more control, Duane is more motivated to push himself to accomplish his goals:  get back on the pickleball court, back on the bike, back in the driver’s seat, and back in bed to sleep.  (Our mattress is very firm, and right now, since he can’t yet totally extend his knee, it is very uncomfortable.)

Tomorrow is his follow up appointment with his surgeon.

Louise and Duane

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Home Torture

Home at last!  Time to rest, recuperate, get back into the old routine.  Not!!!  First we have to get up 91/2 inch steps,


then up and down 91/2 inch steps.  I was watching every step to make sure he cleared each one.  Whew! 

These are the steps to the bathroom and he has slipped down them before.  He tried several different methods before he found the best way.


After that warmup it was time for a walk.


After ice, nap, and lunch we did our first home team pt.  I counted seconds, Duane counted reps. 



Another walk around of the park, ice, nap.  An evening of tv, homecoming dewberry pie (very delicious) and time for his own shower and bed.

I am glad that I cleared my schedule for his home care.  Duane is very self sufficient, but he still requires help with a lot of things. 

Tomorrow, first out patient pt.

Louise and Duane

Monday, May 08, 2017

All Set

My day:  visited Duane, brought home all of his stuff, finished my two projects, put all of my equipment away, helped (son) Jeremy load up his mini fridge, cleaned house.  Jeremy informed me that the family had picked fresh dewberries and had baked Duane a dewberry pie as a coming home present.  I went to the house to collect it.  The bakers’ assistants were proud to show it off.


Allie wrapped it, top and bottom.  When her mom asked why she covered the bottom, Allie just grinned and shrugged.  Kids, you gotta love ‘em!


Springing Duane out of the torture chamber between 9-10 tomorrow.

Louise and Duane

Sunday, May 07, 2017


One more day by myself.  I have been working the last two days to finish my current project  so that I can put all of my equipment away for a while.  I’m almost done.  Tomorrow I’m visiting Duane during morning pt so that I can be up to date on my duties as his coach when he comes home Tuesday morning.  For the next month or so I plan to be “on call” for Duane for anything he may need.

Still smilin’,

Louise and Duane

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Things That Make You Go Hmmm


Yesterday after Amber had put Duane through his paces and he was resting with his ice packs, we were all chatting about this and that.  She happened to mention that at one point in her all of her training, she was allowed to stand next to a joint replacement surgeon and observe a knee replacement.  She said that during the surgery, the patient’s knee cap is removed and discarded!  She said that sometimes a surgeon will place a plastic piece over the knee to give it a more normal look, but not attach it to the tendons--it just stays in there.  She said that since the new joint is made of metal, it doesn’t need to be protected.  I found that simply amazing!  Who knew?

Apparently I didn’t.  Did you?

Louise and Duane

Friday, May 05, 2017

Two New Things

Today for a change I decided to eat lunch with Duane, and then attend his afternoon pt session.  Today for the first time he wore his shoes and socks for the session.  He put them on himself without any help from me.


While he used this step to stretch his legs by rocking forward and back, I shared my concerns with his therapist.  I needed to know if he would be able to get into the truck so that I wouldn’t have to rent a car, and if I needed to get a cane for him.  In reply to the latter, his case worker walked up and informed us that Medicare would be supplying a cane for him and that it would be delivered to the hospital on Monday.  To answer my other question, I was told to meet Duane at the front door with the truck.


With a bit of advice and a hands-on assist, he was able to make it in and out with a 6” step,


and, with some difficulty, without it.  This was excellent because after he comes home he will be going to Kilgore three times a week for out-patient therapy.


Back inside he had to get up and sit down using only his legs for 10 reps then a rest for a total of 50 reps. 


Time for ice and a chat about rving before he headed back to his room for a nap.


On my way home I stopped by the store and got a step just like the one he used today, and a kid’s plastic ball (which he will squeeze between his knees as part of his therapy) so that I will be ready to bring him home on Tuesday.

Staying home the next two days.

Louise and Duane

Thursday, May 04, 2017

New Tortures

Since Duane is to return home next Tuesday to special circumstances—high steps and small spaces, his team has decided to notch up his therapy.  Already he is walking unassisted with one cane while his gait continues to improve.


Up to this time Cat (his pt who has given me permission to use her name and image) has been stretching the back of his legs.  Today she showed me how to stretch the front of his thighs, something I will be helping him with when he gets home.

This is one variation of the stretch to the front of the thigh.  I was instructed on how to do this stretch, letting Duane bend his leg then gently pushing incrementally when the muscle stretches.  Disregard that look on his face.  He was trying to listen to instructions  and raise his head at the same time.


Another new exercise—the ramp.


Calf stretch


6-inch steps  These were difficult going up since Duane had to lift his leg higher and use only his cane.  He needs master this height soon because our highest step (into the bathroom) is 9 1/2 inches!


Because Duane needs to be as ambulatory as possible, he gets several pt sessions a day.  Because he is constantly bending and stretching, his knees will take quite a while to lose their swelling. 

Tomorrow—something else new.

Louise and Duane