Infectious Rigidity

We humans get set in our ways. My attachment to some things I do is almost superstitious, maybe a sign of incipient OCD, or an unconscious longing for ritual. Last night as I was slammed to sleep (Percocet), I had a couple of seconds to think about the changes in my life wrought by the hip replacement. Changes that have NOTHING to do with the hip, mobility, pain. Sometimes you have to let go. And there you are, doing things differently.

Until this, I had never given anyone — let alone myself — an injection.  Tracing the circle of injection points around my belly button I can see how much better I am at it now than I was a week ago. Yay blood thinner.

PJs, I hate them. Have not slept in the damned things since high school. Now I’m sleeping in a purple satin night shirt. Not because of IT per se, but because it’s slippery on the sheets making getting in and out of bed easier. I don’t even mind it. My objection to Pjs is that they get tangled around one’s body when one tosses and turns, but, as I’m sleeping locked in place at this point, that problem is solved.

I’m an inveterate side sleeper now sleeping on my back.

Privacy. I’m neurotic about some things that are part of being an animal on planet earth. I’ve spent the last week without one bit of that and so what?

I even went one morning without coffee, and didn’t die as a result.

A more profound change — and thinking about it brings a lump to my throat — I’m very very very very self-reliant. Now, here I am reaching out to friends for help. The result? A crystaline, icy casing of fear cracks, breaks, falls. The little being inside steps out, looks around, dazed and hesitant, but there’s no going back. ❤

“You have such a pretty face”

As for thin, I’m not. I have been a couple of times in my life (very, very, very bad times in my life), but generally, I’ve always been what you might call “solid,” a compact, little person with a high specific gravity. I think the original design was for a mountain dwelling, trail navigating, sheep and goat following humanoid.

But… “You have such a pretty face. It’s too bad you’re so fat. ”

Too bad“? Not hardly. I’m probably so gorgeous that IF I had had the ideal body along with “such a pretty face” no other women would have had a chance in the romance lottery. Ha ha.

The times in which we live have brought this thing called “body image” up to the front of our attention in the form of an actual “movement.” I think that’s really strange. The same people who say that judging a book by its cover is superficial and wrong want to change the way their covers are judged. I truly can’t wrap my head around it. The goal (in my opinion) should be health and ability. Beauty is transitory and subjective. Never in my adolescent dreams did I imagine a big butt would be considered beautiful.

So, I dunno. It’s all the zeitgeist, really, that ineffable, constantly changing, whimsical, mysterious force that drives fashion.

Hip Surgery Update: The swelling has gone down a LOT. I’ve stopped using the oxygen (got a finger oxygen meter so I know it’s OK), my wonderful friend is finally getting her freedom from Martha’s Hospital and heading back to her family. I had physical therapy yesterday (here at home), and my therapist helped me get up on the bike-to-no-where though I can’t really pedal yet. He is going to help me walk the dogs when they come home. Thursday’s mission for physical therapy is helping me learn to get behind the wheel of my car. The only problem is that my car is in the garage and my restrictions make it impossible for me to open the garage door. But once the car’s out, it’ll stay there, I guess. Lois and I went out to visit Dusty and Bear yesterday afternoon and I was so happy to see them. ❤ They’re doing very well and getting lots of care from Lori, the kennel owner, who really loves them.


1 Bear and me at Noah's Arff

“I miss you, Bear.”

Retroactive DNA Specificity (What?)

A few years ago I wanted to know my pedigree. When Groupon offered a discount on a fly-by-night-marginally-accurate DNA test, I jumped at the chance.

I learned from it that I am 18% Native American. Because I’m a research kind of person, I had to figure that out. It seemed that the similarity between Northern, Northern, Northern Scandinavian DNA and Native American DNA sometimes yielded this result. Reindeer or Wapiti? I’m good with chasing ungulates across ANY region of the frozen north.

Left with more questions than answers about my pedigree, I forked out MORE money, this time to Ancestry, to get a clearer picture. Why? Because, at the time, it seemed to matter. Now?

Well there are just those times in life you want that $100 back.

Having invested the money in order to get pretty maps and charts explaining what I already knew, it has been kind of fun watching the whole DNA/ancestry thing evolve. Since I went into this looking for Swiss ancestry in particular (because of my novels) I was a little disappointed when, originally, all I got was a vague gesture toward Southern Europe. Ancestry keeps updating its ancestry stuff as they learn more. Today (in my relentless search for a compelling featured photo) I saw the latest changes and they pleased me. Switzerland is now on the map as is the migration of the Schneebelis which is, ultimately, all that matters. 😉

Hip Replacement Update: Doc ordered muscle relaxer for spasms, but the pharmacy didn’t get the prescription yesterday. Still, last night went much better thanks to Percocet. There is a lot of swelling with this surgery, mostly on the operated leg, but all over. It has been slowing diminishing. The best thing is that every single day, something is better than the day before. I think I might actually be able to drive to my staple-removing doc appt. next week.

Marble Notebook

“France was filled with emptiness.” OK, that’s bad writing, but noticing it this morning in my Facebook feed made me happy. “Wow,” I thought. “I’m noticing bad writing again. Things are improving.”

The article from which it came isn’t bad writing, and I get the dramatic effect the author was going for in his faux paradox. The article tells about Paul Landowski’s Les Fantômesa very different WW I memorial.

My editor has gotten back to me with her opinion about The Schneebelis Go to America (working title). She sees pretty much what I saw, that the novel needs to be longer and give the reader a more satisfying conclusion. What that will be I still don’t know. There are a couple of possibilities that I’ve already thought of, and there might be more. She has more feedback to give me and godnose my brain isn’t as clear as it could be, so

I write for myself, mainly, but I still want my work to be the best it can be and an aspect of quality is the ability to hold a reader’s interest. Beyond that there’s Aristotle.


A long, long time ago in a faraway land known as Colorado Springs, in a distant era known as the late 60s, in a (for then) fancy pants suburban high school, a feisty little teacher taught her AP English class Aristotle’s Poetics.


In this little book, Aristotle has described what makes an effective tragedy. It wasn’t written as a prescription; it was written as a description, but it’s pretty hard NOT to turn it into advice since those ancient Greek trajedies still have the power to inspire “pity and fear,” leading to a dramatic climax which, in its turn, must give the audience a chance to resolve the emotional jolt in catharsis. The Schneebelis Go to America doesn’t offer any chance at all for resolution. The audience would leave the theater bewildered. I’m not Samuel Beckett, so I can’t live easily with that.

The featured photo is of my new Stone Notebook. The pages are made of calcium carbonate made from Carrara marble dust. The paper is washable. Greenstory is a small Dutch company started by two Dutch high school students

Slight hip surgery update: Excruciating muscle/spasm/leg cramps last night that terrified both Lois and me. Research, research, research, common side effect of the entire process. OH WELL

As If…

SO… Lois and I took three walks yesterday and went to the grocery store, a distance that ended up totaling a whole mile. Otherwise, I’d put the day up against “Most boring days in my life in which I was 1) an adult and 2) it was not Christmas Eve. We took a photo for the blog of one of these events, but ultimately, I wasn’t in that photo. Instead there was a chubby old lady leaning on a cane. This pitiful creature has giant bazooms inside her Life is Good t-shirt, enormous thighs and one severely bowed leg. I don’t know who she was, where she came from or if that was supposed to be a joke, but it wasn’t funny.



Who TF is this?


Damn the only thing on my mind is my hip surgery. I’m so sorry. Well, maybe this is useful…

Advice Section: The BEST thing I did maybe in my WHOLE life was train seriously for the sport of total hip replacement. If you find yourself approaching that event, get on the bike-to-nowhere, ride as “far” as you can. Find a pretty place to walk and walk as far as you can as often as you can. Don’t get daunted because the bike isn’t fun and you can’t walk far. Do exercises to strengthen your core because that’s actually what holds you upright. Complain occasionally because you’ll need some moral support from friends and blogging buddies 😉 AND you’re going to be a little scared. The big fear? Well, there’s the death thing, but even bigger is

“What if I go through all this and NOTHING gets better?”

It’s a possibility, I guess. Pretty unlikely, though. The fifth day after my surgery I walked a mile and have essentially no pain, that’s pretty amazing.

Drugs… Pain management is serious, but, at the same time, the pain drugs have some nasty effects like constipation and mood changes. I wonder, also, if the medical professionals realize that anyone with this problem has already been living with substantial pain, and post-op pain might be nothing in comparison. BUT pain can keep some people from exercising and that’s a problem. Anyway, I pretty much stopped the prescription pain meds the second day I was home. I have so much less pain than I had before I had surgery.

I hope this is the last post for a while on this subject but who knows.

Happy Mothers Day to all among you who are someone’s mom!

A Day of Adventure…

Yesterday was a big day on the hip replacement front, mostly because I walked 1/3 of a mile. Not all at once. I walked 2 blocks on the sidewalk in front of my house and various stray bits of distance in actual stores (!). Still and all, I did that. We had to go to the store to pick up a prescription AND we wanted shorter TED hose. The thigh high compression socks they sent home from the hospital are NOT “thigh” high on me. They’re crotch high (sorry).

We tried going to Three Barrels Pizza and Brewery in Del Norte for supper, but instead of eating pizza in this friendly little brew pub, we ended up going home. I had not been on oxygen for four hours, and it was cold in the restaurant. I learned that if you’re low on oxygen, your body’s resposes are skewed and maybe you can’t generate heat. My lips were turning blue and I was starting to see green lights around stuff.


But at least Lois was able to get her favorite local beer which is peach flavored. We headed home, but as soon as I was warmer, I began to have better color (lips turned from blue to lavender). I thought of possibile newspaper headlines, “Woman dies of hypothermia in local pizza joint.”

A Tree

Right now the forest along my street is blooming. It’s really lovely. My job at this point is to take walks in the forest whenever possible. This is me the day after I got home from surgery doing my “climb”.


I have now done the walk assisted only by my cane (and my friend). Today I hope to do more. I have had almost no pain since the first day and I’m happy for that as I don’t like taking opiates, though at night they’re helpful.

My forest has been navigating the complexities of this, from the recognition of the problem, to accepting the inevitable, to finding a doctor, to prepping for the adventure, to the adventure — all a big forest.

And, maybe tomorrow, I’ll be able to change the subject…

The Next Step in the Adventure

Home from the hospital with many contraptions, but the best “contraption” is my friend Lois who has the job of taking off and putting on my tet hose, helping me get up in the night. She’s an awesome, friend and I am very lucky.

I discovered in the hospital that — at the point — when I’m not on oxgen I get nauseous, so I  came home with two oxygen tanks and a prescription for oxygen.

But —

Oddly enough, I enjoyed the hospital. The nurses were kind, competent and — after a while — fun to be around. I was happy to be in the hospital and being cared for. Realizing this, the nurses were happy to joke around with me. We ended up having a good time, agreeing that laughter really helps with attitude adjustment and healing.

And…a word on Millennials. All of my nurses were Millennials, beautiful, personable, 30ish women living in the moment of raising kids, pursusing a difficult career on the surgical floor of large hospital. They asked about the book I’m reading, Another Good Dog by Cara Achterberg. We talk about our dogs and our jobs (mine in the past obviously). One of them had been a non-traditional college student and she was eager to tell me all about her experiences.

My “family” was there, too. It’s a family with no blood ties to me. I guess we’re held by love ties.



Francis the Blue Dragon and Little Bear


I’ve alread experienced the benefit I gave myself of all those months of riding the Sainted Air-Dyne and the two months of physical therapy. Yesterday when I was gotten up and taken for a walk around the hallways I could feel the muscles in my thigh supporting, holding onto, the wounded area. My legs are the same length and I stand up straight.

As for the incision, it hurts, but not much and my hip joint no longer hurts at all. They sent me home with pain meds, but I don’t feel enough pain (IMO) to need to take the full dosage. Just at night, I think. I have also the distinct “pleasure” of giving myself a shot in the stomach once a day. The physical therapist wil show up this afternoon. Things are moving right along — even me, kind of. I made my own coffee this morning. 🙂

Multi-Quotididan Updates 41.9.4b

I’m in Colorado Springs right now, drinking coffe and a smoothie and getting ready to head back to the San Luis Valley. It’s been an eventful short trip.

The purpose was to see my orthopedic surgeon for a follow-up exam after the cortisone shot and six weeks of physical therapy, ostensibly to see how all that worked but really to schedule surgery. And now I’m scheduled for hip replacement on May 7.

The way it’s supposed to play out is I go to the hospital, they plop me down in a special operating “theater” (?) designed for this procedure, they do the job, they take me to recovery then to a room, then they get me up and walk me around and I go home. I would be able to go “home” the same day but my home isn’t here so I’ve asked to spend the night. I’ll go home “home” the next day and my friend, Lois, will bring me and stay with me for several days.

The way it is supposed to work is that at 6 weeks I’ll be pretty “normal” which will be a completely new thing for me and I hope I can adjust (ha ha). That is the beginning of summer.

While I’ve been up here I also finished all the edits I’m capable of on The Schneebelis Go to America (working title). I sense that something pretty large is missing from that story, but I’m in denial. It’s almost like the proverbial and cliched “elephant in the room.” About that elephant, I think people can actually SEE it but they’re not looking. I could be wrong — and that’s something I’m not sure of — so I got in touch with the wonderful editor of two of my earlier novels and we’ve worked out a deal for her to give it a “structural edit” which means she will look directly at the elephant (if it’s there) and give me feedback.

So… more than a few glimmerings that by summer I’ll be walking a lot better and my little story will be better.

Physical Therapy and the Big Picture

Yesterday I went to my first pre-surgery physical therapy appointment. I didn’t want to go. Like a lot of this stuff I’m going through, I’ve “been there; done that.” But not really.

Last time I had physical therapy (2005) it was to address a condition I didn’t have. I went twice a week for three months and my hip (the right hip) just got more and more painful. Why? Because my “doctor” at the time had not diagnosed the problem correctly.

This time is NOT last time.

Every time I drive to the slough with the dogs I pass the gym which is known as “Monte Vista Athletic Club.” It looks like a barn which is not notable as the most popular building style where I live is big buildings with steel siding; lots of buildings look like barns including barns. It’s beautiful inside; it’s a gorgeous gym. I’m not a gym person, but I’ve been in several and this one is great. I told the person at the counter I was there for physical therapy and he guided me back to the corner of the “barn”. I was checked in and met my therapist — I like him! — a guy named Ron Muhlenhauser (good Swiss name). He sat me down.

The first thing he said when he looked at my chart was, “You don’t look that old.”

I thought, “Huh? Flattery? But why?” I think I look old, but maybe not. It’s a comparative thing, anyway. I explained I’d had hip surgery already on the other hip eleven years ago.

“You’re kidding,” he said.

“No. I…” I didn’t finish. We talked about accidents I might have had that could have caused the hip problem, and I rattled off a litany of sports related injuries.

“So sports, then,” he wrote on his paper. Then he asked me questions about the pain in my hip and how long I’d had it. I don’t think I was too good at the answers, but finally he said, “What are your goals?”

I said, “Hip surgery and the ability to walk better.” I still didn’t know what I was doing there other than fulfilling Medicare requirements. I didn’t think there was any reason beyond that, but I was very, very wrong.

“Here are your doctor’s goals,” and he read them to me. Of course, they were better, clearer and more articulate than mine. They are improving my posture, gait and the the development of good muscles and tendons in my hip. This means, basically, lengthening them so they will work with a new hip joint and so I can stand up straight. “You want to be good from the getgo after your surgery. Your left leg might be a little longer afterward, too. It’s likely.” It’s 1/2 inch shorter at the moment.

I was taught some exercises, and Ron gave me great explanations all the way along. I paid attention, practiced, and, all the while, thought about what I was being told. It began to sink in.

Then he said, “You’ve got the best doctor. Dr. S is the one who can handle the really tough cases. He’s the best there is.”

“Dr. Hunter (surgeon in Salida) recommended him.”

“See?” said Ron. “We’re going to try to teach your joint and your back to straighten up, to lengthen those muscles and teach those tendons to quit protecting your joint.” Ron showed me an exercise to lengthen thigh muscles and said, “You know runners. When they run, the back leg kicks way far back, so far it seems like it’s flying behind the runner, right?”

I visualized that and saw running in a completely new way.  We kept working and Ron explained how the tissues in our bodies replace themselves so that every three months we have all new tissue. I then understood that the purpose behind the cortisone shot is so that these exercises will not hurt me, because, otherwise, I couldn’t possibly do them.

I understood then why the surgery will be three months from now at the soonest. With that realization, suddenly, I got it. I really wanted to cry. My surgeon and the physical therapist are working together to help me emerge from this crysalis of pain and disability into a, yes, older Martha who can still be who the eternal Martha (inside herself) knows herself to be.

The shoes? Well, they’re trail running shoes. I got them on eBay last week. I’ve been wearing Salomon trail running shoes since the early 2000s. They were developed for people who race in the mountains. They were amazing, but they lasted me only about 3 months. Toward the end of the 2000s, Salomon sold the shoe to Adidas, and Adidas changed the way they are made as well as making various models. They are more durable, but less responsive (IMO) Still, they’re the best I know. I didn’t want to fork out the $$$ for brand new ones because I don’t know how this is going to pan out, and they’re expensive. When these arrived, I just hoped they’d have some time left. It turns out they are almost new. I think the previous owner might have worn them twice. I wore them yesterday to PT. They’re going with me the whole way. 🙂