Thursday, February 25, 2010


Real and demonstrable. And confirmed by Vlad the Impaler (aka my physical therapist.) The end is within site, and I'm hoping that at my next doc appointment (Tuesday) he clears me to return to work, even part time. As usual mornings and nights are the worst, but in the daytime there's a real improvement.

I'll express how I feel in one of Nick and my favorite expressions: yayyyy. There is a direct correlation between the scale of the event under comment and the number of "y's" in yayyyy.

Liv now checks the Berkelee College of Music dozens of times a day to check the status of her application. We've gone from apathy to intense interest, which I applaud. And it looks like she's settled on a book for the kickoff of her program at Mount Sinai. She picked -- what else and why didn't we think of it sooner -- the Olivia the pig books! Specifically she'll meld the original book with Olivia Starts a Band. How perfect?

Matt and I did rapid-fire texting early this morning, (I think he was in class -- oops) all about politics and healthcare reform, about how much we applaud Anthony Weiner, admire Ezra Klein and detest Harold Ford and Eric Cantor, about which political blogs are worth reading. I really miss him. Matt, that is.

Nick brought my engagement ring back to the jeweler for sizing. It fit perfectly when I first got out of the hospital and was swollen beyond reason, but now that I've returned to normal it's too big. I miss it -- how silly is that? I haven't been wearing it because I've been stuck in the house, and haven't bothered with makeup or jewelry or even real clothes but I do try on the ring at least once a day, every day. It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Nick is THE BEST, for a million trillion reasons. Ahhhhhhhh. It's so amazing to be so happy, and I wish that everyone could feel this way and experience happiness this pure and profound.

Monday, February 22, 2010


To be fair, they're more mini-updates or even micro-updates but here they are:

  • I'm improving, however slowly. While I don't see a difference day to day I see it week to week and I'm definitely in better shape than I was last week. I recognize the patterns of pain and energy so I can better use the time and plan my days (early mornings and nights are worst for pain; late mornings and late afternoons are best for energy)

  • Getting more work done, a direct function of energy + pain

  • Big decision made yesterday: we applied for Liv to attend a 5-week program this summer at the Berkelee School of Music (Boston). It's a big program (and an expensive one but oh well) and is geared to performing skills. It's a school she's interested in for college anyway; distinguished both for the music program and apparently also for music therapy. She was back and forth about this most of yesterday as we talked about it -- didn't want to be away for so long this summer (neither did we want her away) but the program seems so right for her right now that she decided to move ahead. Should hear about it in a couple of days. Her big concern is that she'll be able to see Jon, come home, etc and even though we don't have the specific scheduling details I reassured her that it's not the gulag and she'll have more freedom than in other previous summer programs. So she won't work this summer after all, but this seems well worth it.

  • Loving the Olympics -- watching everything save hockey and ice dancing. Great that the Olympics coincided with my convalescence -- very considerate.

  • Delighted that Meet the Press ratings go way up whenever Rachel Maddow is on. They should dump David Gregory (seems like a GOP tool anyway and a pale imitation of Tim.) She's the best and so glad the world is discovering it. Where's the petition to draft her? I joined a Facebook group about it but it seems a particularly impotent way to make the point

  • Great but sobering article in the Atlantic about the long-term effects of the recession; I pity the kids entering the job market in this environment. So tough. It'll be the atmosphere that Matt will be entering, but since he's interested exclusively in government and policy I'm hoping he'll be in the right place at the right time

  • Vague conversations about wedding planning. Nothing firm but we're starting to talk and think about it in broad strokes. Nikki lost 20 pounds -- go Nikki! And now she has this extra motivation: she'll (of course) be in the wedding party. Liv will be my maid of honor and Nikki and Jamie will be bridesmaids. That's about how much thinking and planning has been done. Not much but a beginning. I go into my jewelry drawer to try on my engagement ring at least once a day

  • planning and hoping hoping hoping to be back at work next week. Miss being there -- working at home is ok but isolating. Need to see people and be seen. In the meantime it's critical to keep my brain working (don't want to turn into mush-mind) hence the constant reading.

  • thanks so much to all my friends and family for your ongoing concern. It means a lot. And even if the communication is primarily passive (email, text) when it was hard to talk by phone I really appreciate it

Thursday, February 18, 2010


and another week crawls to a close. Saw the doc on Tuesday and he was as surprised as we were that the pain is still this intense. Took xrays to check and that part was clear, so he thinks it's the soft tissue that's damaged and taking longer to heal. Changed up all the meds and wants to see me again in 2 weeks so we'll see. At least he confirmed that I'm not crazy (well maybe, but not for this reason.)

I can do more, and just do it through the pain. I'm managing stairs about once a day, which is a big step (pun intended.) PT continues, and is more challenging and intense each time which is thoroughly appropriate. The pain is dramatically worse after a session but that's to be expected.

I'm fully compliant with the exercise regimen; no interest in playing around or gaming this. I want full recovery with complete range of motion, so I do all the daily exercises which are taking up a larger and larger portion of the day.

Mostly my energy is much better so I can do more, in terms of meetings and calls. What I couldn't do was accompany Liv to her meeting at Mount Sinai on Tuesday, but she wisely decided to go without me (even though for about an hour or two before she was due to leave she tried everything possible to get out of it -- to no avail.)

And it was worth it. By all accounts the meeting was a great success. She met with several people on the Mount Sinai staff, plus one rep from the Starlight Foundation and they brainstormed for a while. Then -- in her words -- they "funneled the ideas" to arrive at an approach for the first performance (April.) She was buzzing with excitement that night and through yesterday. This is bigger for her than how it started, which was to come up with a way to distinguish herself on college applications. Now it's a cause, a crusade.

She set up a gmail account yesterday so that she would have a more professional-sounding email address than her personal one, and I helped her with her follow up note. It's so great to see her excited about something like this, and it even got her interested in working with sick kids as a possible career.

In any case the project is kicking off, and she's running it. Very very cool -- go Liv!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow day

Not like it makes much difference to me, but what's nice is that both Nick and Liv are home today because of the weather. Good to have the full-time company.

My energy is better and I can deal with email and other things on a more ready basis, so that's good. The pain continues and I've now accepted that I need to double the painkiller dosage (still within acceptable parameters) to manage it. Worst is the morning, both because all the drugs have worn off and because of the stiffness.

There's a rhythm to my days now, if a lethargic one. I wake up at about 8 or 8:30, check email and read the political and industry blogs plus headlines and any articles that interest me. After about an hour or two I'm tired, and I return to bed to read and watch TV. I usually watch the previous night's Rachel Maddow Show, the Daily Show and Colbert. I'm nearly finished with Game Change, which was delicious. Next read will be the most recent David Sedaris (which I've already started) plus magazines. Favorite mags are the New Yorker, New Republic -- happily both are weekly, plus the Atlantic, Newsweek and the food mags.

Post this period of rest I go back on the computer to check on things, then take an assisted shower. I can now shower standing, which is a significant improvement, but still need Nick's help getting in and out.

Afternoons are sleepy, literally. I sleep for an hour or two, read some more and catch up on TV. I particularly like "World's Strictest Parents", which I found on MTV but is actually a production of CMT. Love a good transformation story, and these definitely qualify. Tried "The Tudors" with Liv but might have been too soon post-surgery: put me to sleep.

Evenings include dinner, upstairs in the bedroom. Nick is doing so much, and without a whiff of complaint. After dinner we read, watch the Sopranos, etc. Haven't yet re-introduced games into our mix, but may start today. not sure I'm ready for Scrabble, so we will start slowly with Boggle and backgammon.

And that's the snow day.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl Sunday

Unlike last year when we had a Superbowl party and a bunch of friends came over to hang out and watch, this year's Superbowl party will be exclusive and intimate -- just Nick and me. He's planning on laying out a whole spread of food as though we were having a large get together but he'll be the only one partaking.

I'm planning to watch the game, actually. Usually if I watch at all it's only for the commercials, but this year I'm interested. Partly because Nick is so interested, and when he's watched throughout the season he stops to show me great plays or other events of note. His beloved Cowboys did well throughout the season, and it was great to see him so happy. But even with them out this should be a fun game to watch.

And I'm rooting for the Saints. Partly because New Orleans is such a sentimental favorite and because they are the underdogs -- two qualities I can't resist.

Doesn't hurt that by and large the GOP is supporting the Colts (I read that on HuffPo, I think) and Nick is a little torn because Peyton Manning is so good, but we've agreed to root for the Saints.

Yesterday we watched "The Hurt Locker" -- not an easy movie to watch but a good one. It's tense and suspenseful from the first frame and never lets up. But quite a good movie.

Saturday's mail brought the prescription refill for the painkillers. Needless to say Nick filled it right away. I'm finding that I'm not nearly ready to reduce the dosage or the interval between dosages. If anything I'm increasing the # of pills and shortening the time in between. All with doc approval, of course. I can actually take 3 Perc's (10 mg each) at a time. I haven't gone that far, though it's good to know I can.

So today will be another day of ice, rest, pills, reading, sleeping, though it'll be interrupted by the big game -- nice break in the action.

And next week the Olympics begin. I'm a sucker for the Olympic games; always have been. And though I love all Olympic games I prefer the winter ones. And they're in Canada. Need I say more? Very thoughtful of the IOC and everyone else to schedule the games for when I'm home, recuperating with nothing but time. Appreciate it.

Who dat?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday status

  • It's now fully a week later, and at this point there's only one direction to go.

  • I've got enough energy to do more things, at least more email, blogging and the occasional phone call

  • Officially the painkillers are finished and now we're dipping into the secret stash. When I think about it I'm still furious with the doc's office on this topic. So for now, while I'm powerless, I won't think about it. That will change.

  • Masterpiece Theater has produced a terrific new version of Emma, with part 3 to be shown Sunday. Highly recommended.

  • More than halfway through Game Change. I don't agree with one article I read that said it's the women (Elizabeth Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin) who come off worst. Just finished the Bill Clinton section and he hardly comes off smelling like a rose.

  • Starting to get a little more independent, at least in micro-ways. And they are micro: Nick now helps me into the shower but doesn't stay in with me; waits til I'm done. I can walk very small distances using the bannister rail and the cane for support, vs. the walker (that's a PT exercise.) I'm spending slightly less of the day actually sleeping vs. resting. Infinitesmally small steps, but steps nonetheless.

  • I'm banned from doing stairs at least until the next PT visit -- banned entirely. We'd thought that a once-a-day round trip would be ok, but not yet. So I remain a hostage to my bedroom. Reminds me of the Count of Monte Cristo.

  • I'm planning on starting to do calls with work this week, at least a few.
  • Thanks everyone for staying in touch and for understanding that until I'm more on my feet and can get downstairs that visits aren't really appealing. That I hope will change post Tuesday's PT visit if she clears me for stairs.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The actual name of the book

that I referenced, and used as ammunition in my war of words (and ideas) with the HSS nurse:

"Bright-sided: How the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America", by Barbara Ehrenreich.

I know I've mentioned this book before; I was very impressed when I read it a few months ago. But I had no idea how relevant and useful it would become, so I'm making my endorsement louder.

Barbara, if you're out there, thanks for your thoughtful perspective and the data you found to support your compelling and innovative argument.

one week later

Sorry I haven't been blogging, but that's a reflection of how difficult this recovery has been. Too much has happened since I last wrote, but thought I'd provide some of the more interesting and noteworthy developments.

I seem to have set the record for fastest discharge post hip replacement. The surgery was last Friday and I got clearance to leave the hospital by Sunday (vs what was anticipated -- Monday probable but even Tuesday likely)

There was quite a set-to in the hospital on my second night. I spent the first night in recovery only because there were no rooms, which was puzzling. I asked why -- it isn't like HSS has tons of emergencies and therefore unexpected admissions -- and the staff agreed, but nothing could be done.

I finally got to my room the next morning, and had a difficult roommate: either she was awake and complaining, or asleep and snoring. This did nothing to ease my anxiety or improve my mood.

The night staff on my second night was the worst. I was stressed and anxious, desperately in need of sleep but no sleep aid was forthcoming (for reasonable reasons including my drop in blood pressure and hemoglobin levels.) But the communication was poor, and slow. The nurses were condescending and remote. The whole process is an infantilizing and depersonalizing one.

My set-to really kicked in when the nurse started telling me about the power of positive thinking and about how she was a disciple of some positive-thinking guru. I responded that I was a disciple of Barbara Ehrenreich whose new book "Bright Sided" used data to make the argument that not only was positive thinking of questionable benefit but could actually be harmful.

She wasn't unhappy to see me leave.

Since I've been home it's been mostly a blur. I can't do stairs so I'm a prisoner of my upstairs bedroom and the painkillers sap my strength and energy. All I can do is rest and sleep and read and watch TV. I'm not bored (yet) -- until the pain begins to ebb and my energy returns I'm not frustrated by my inability to do anything. That'll come once I start to feel better, but for now boredom isn't really an issue.

I've been reading Game Change, which is my kind of gossip book, and that's helping.

Nick's been great -- of course -- and this places myriad demands on him, but he never complains.

I'm walking (to the degree that I'm walking at all) with a walker. The device I thought would be my bete noir has actually turned out to be my best friend. So much for preconceived notions.

Physical therapy began this week; I've had two sessions with a Russian therapist who I quite like. I can't do that much but she's quite reasonable about expectations and my (shocking, to me) limitations. I'm trying to do the couple of exercises she assigned me, and find myself exhausted by just these few simple movements. But she assures me that this is normal and to be expected.

We upped my pain meds yesterday, which helps. I tried (to soon) to elongate the period between doses but that turned out (as many things have) to be a misbegotten idea.

And then this just happened: I didn't realize til last night that we were running low on the pain meds, and I just called the doc's office. Apparently they don't call in prescriptions -- "didn't you read that in the pre-surgical information?" They mail them. Mail them! I'll be out of these by today and may get the new scrip in the mail Monday.

But they don't really give a damn -- and that call actually well characterizes this entire experience. We have backups, fortunately, though the dosages are different.

My chief learnings from this experience, to date, include:

  • HSS is no better than anywhere else, for all the hype
  • Everything depends on the quality of staff (which was why Sunday was better than Saturday)
  • The system works to suit the providers, not the patients
  • real info about recovery and what to expect is sketchy, notwithstanding the pre-surgery class -- attendance mandatory -- which turned out to be pretty much useless
So now I'll return to my regular day: icing my leg, reading, TV and resting. I'm sure things will start to improve over the next few days, according to all reports. And at least I have enough energy back to do this, answer emails, etc.