Monday, August 29, 2022

A Little Less Pain, A Little Progress

I didn't do any knitting last week as I thought I might but I definitely wanted to do something. Not exactly experiencing boredom, which Webster's Dictionary defines as the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest. Not weary and not really restless (although I've had days when I was definitely restless) and not experiencing a lack of interest. To the contrary, I was very focused on being interested, just struggling to figure out on what since I'm still limited in what I can do. With a small sketchbook and pens sitting on the coffee table nearby as well as my Amazon Fire tablet, I suddenly knew what the interest and urge was: to revisit several Zentangle videos I'd saved from a series devoted to tangling to a sense of well-being, using variations on a tangle they call "well", which at its simplest is a circle in a square with slightly curved lines radiating from the circle out to the four corners of the square. I enjoyed working through these and ended up shading mine a little differently from the example. A lot of the Zentangle method is encouragement to make these tangles your own. I can see several things I'd like to try differently with number 5 including adding some color. Ignore the faint pencil Zentangle in the upper left - I was trying to do one from memory and was not happy with how it ended up so didn't ink it in.

Here's a little surprise I discovered while lamenting that the double petunias I planted in the pot by my front steps have not gotten much bigger nor put out extensive overflowing blooms. Suddenly I have 3 tiny pansies blooming in there. Or rather violas probably, but I have no recollection of having specifically planted any in there. Perhaps I scattered some bee seeds prior to this season that had some violas mixed in. I can't imagine that they are wild as I see them no place else. They are little gems though, a half inch to an inch across and very welcome in that pot. 

I had a better week last week as far as my pain level goes, partly because I had less activities going on. No two ways about it, the more I do, the more time I stay upright or sitting, the more my lower back hurts. But I am still walking without extra pain or the pain down into my hips and without the aide of a walking stick so that makes me happy. And I keep eyeing the extension of my old daily route, so wanting to walk past the Goodwill and across the main drag over to the little park where I could sit in the sun and enjoy a different view. Soon, I think, because my longings got the best of me last week on a day when I was feeling really good and energetic, and I turned the corner at the end of my street where I generally just turn around to head back, to walk along the next street over which creates a loop around my neighborhood. Didn't take the full loop but went quite a ways before I turned back. I estimate that I walked about 2 blocks that day.

I have my 6 week post op appointment on Wednesday, another hour and a half drive to the clinic but perhaps that too will be a bit easier on me than the first 2 week post op one was. I nearly couldn't find someone available to drive me which has made me more anxious than ever to get cleared to drive. First have to get off the pain killers - I'm working on it!

Monday, August 22, 2022

Inching Forward, Slipping Back

Progress on the home front. I actually fixed a meal for myself on Saturday. Granted, the chicken that went into this simple curry dish I concocted years ago before I got my hands on an authentic Indian cookbook was pre-cooked by one of my yoga class friends, but I sliced the veggies (amazing how shaky my hands were) and sauteed them, opened the cans of mushroom soup and added the curry powder seasonings. While that simmered, I prepared the rice that was folded in at the end.

Surprising how just that little bit of activity tired me out but it was worth it to have a yummy dinner I cooked myself that has provided me with plenty of leftovers. Up until now, the most ambitious thing I've made for myself has been chef salads, relying instead on microwaving frozen entrees, heating up soups, and warming up meals provided by friends. Little things easily become big things on the road to recovery!

It was a busy week, someone coming by for one reason or another most days, and Friday marking another milestone for me. Talk about poor timing, I realized my drivers license would expire this month and I didn't qualify to renew it on line. Nope, had to show up at the DMV, hoping I looked like I actually could drive safely - lol. Luckily, the DMV is a short drive from my house and offers "senior hour" first thing - other wise you have to come sign up for a time and most likely have to make a return trip to keep it. Yoga class friend to the rescue again, taking me there, then we headed to the grocery store. She's been picking up groceries from the lists I provide for a month now. This was my first trip to shop for myself, you just can't imagine how good it was to wheel my cart around and decide between this and that, especially in the produce department. She's been doing a great job, actually choosing things much like I would, but some things you just have to see for yourself to decide.

This foray out into the world went pretty well but oh my, did it take a lot out of me and had my back screaming. I started weaning off the opioid pain pills last week and perhaps started too soon what with my increased activity, but I am determined to get off of them as soon as I can. I have a fairly high tolerance for pain but even I have my limits and in the pain department felt I'd back slid. Thank goodness for ice packs! We'll see if this week is a little better. Overall though, everyone that comes to see me (the physical therapist, the nurse, the aide that helps with showering) all say I am doing really well, making excellent progress and am a much better patient than most they have to deal with. Well, would you expect anything less from me? ;-) I'm particularly happy with how I've been able to extend how far past the mailbox I can walk each day without increasing my back pain.

I've been collecting "explanation of benefits" mailings and decided today I felt up to going through them and pairing them with actual billings, etc. So far I haven't received ones for the actual surgery and the multiple people involved in that, but this stopped me a bit in my tracks. It is for the single overnight stay at the hospital following surgery, which by the way was wonderful, just a really excellent hospital. I knew beforehand what my co-pay would be - that very reasonable $295 - but am always interested in the figures that get submitted to insurance and what insurance actually pays. Wowza! As my mother-in-law counseled me when I was hedging on getting insurance after my husband died and I was no longer covered by his, one simply can't afford NOT to have medical insurance these days.

Well that's it for now. I think I will mostly be left to my own devices this week so will keep up with my PT exercises and walks but maybe not push myself too much to keep my pain levels down. Maybe this is the week I'll get out the yarn and patterns I set aside with the idea of knitting another scarf or starting a pair of socks. The foam wedge I was given to recline against while lying down tips me up just enough I think to comfortably wield some needles. But don't hold me to it!

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Little Joys

Here I am  a  month out from my surgery but still pretty limited in what I can do. However, I have been able to extend how far I can walk outside and am thrilled it is not causing pain like it did before surgery. Thanks for all the encouragement from those of you who have left comments on previous posts. I think of my readers as a wonderful cheerleading squad! Also cheering me on and up is my little deck garden. That picture above may not look like much but I have been trying to get sweet peas to climb up that wire grid for several years now with no luck but third time must be the charm.

When you're hurting and struggling and working to just make it through each day, something as small as a simple bloom can bring ridiculous joy as these sweet pea blooms have. And the tiny zinnia bloom below as well. After the initial beautiful blooms died off, the next tight buds simply dried up before opening. I feared that was going to be it for this plant. But here is a subsequent bud that has opened with a few more sure to come and again, it makes for a deep joy that under other circumstances might not be so strong.

I've been looking through some articles bookmarked for reading "when I have more time" which happens to be now and found this one I know I saved to share on the blog. I hope you'll pop over and read it as it touches on several topics related to creativity that get rehashed endlessly among artists: Nick Cage on Creativity, the Myth of Originality and How To Find Your Voice. Here's one sample that I particularly liked because I've always felt it is what I do:

Ada Lovelace postulated in a letter that creativity is the art of discovering and combining — the work of an alert imagination that “seizes points in common, between subjects having no very apparent connexion, & hence seldom or never brought into juxtaposition.” 

And this about original work:

There is no blank slate upon which works of true originality are composed, no void out of which total novelty is created. Nothing is original because everything is an influence; everything is original because no influence makes its way into our art untransmuted by our imagination. We bring to everything we make everything we have lived and loved and tessellated into the mosaic of our being. To be an artist in the largest sense is to be fully awake to the totality of life as we encounter it, porous to it and absorbent of it, moved by it and moved to translate those inner quickenings into what we make.  

Reading this left me remembering that truly, we just need to get busy, do the work, and stop worrying about where it is coming from.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Here . . .

Here it is, 3 weeks post surgery and according to my care team, everything is progressing as expected. Not as I expected mind you, but all I'm experiencing is apparently perfectly normal. As one home care visitor counseled, I need to lower my expectations! It just took longer than I thought it would for the angry nerve endings to lessen the pain sent my way, but finally I noticed a turn around and every day I sense I'm stronger, more aware, able to do more for myself, experiencing less pain. The picture above is of me and my cousin who came to take care of me for 3 days, taken about 4 days after surgery. Trust me, I look MUCH better now although this isn't too bad - must be the drugs lol. And although I can do stairs now meaning the studio is no longer off limits, I don't have enough energy yet to actually attempt anything creative and I can't sit for very long before my back starts hurting. Lots of horizontal time still in my future, but also walking and standing to help with healing.

Substrate I (#953)

Daniel Sroka, 2021

An abstract photograph of bark from an ash tree. This photograph is of a piece of bark that fell from a tree stricken by the ash borer beetle.

So while you wait for something interesting to appear from me, I send you over to Daniel Sroka's Litterfall Gallery. Besides his beautiful photos, he has added 4 short videos that describe his personal artistic journey that has led him to focus on photographing the leaves, twigs, and other bits of nature very close up. Do take the time to listen to them. Enjoy!