Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What a good-looking foot!

Well, I guess that's a matter of opinion. I thought I'd share a couple of pictures of my foot.

This first one is my doctor's nurse cutting through the cotton that was wrapped around my foot/leg and the plaster bracing that kept it from moving.

This lady is wonderful. She has taken so many casts off of me and put new ones on, and is the same one who removed all the stitches I had. Fortunately, I didn't have any skin staples. Dr. Howell was nice to me. ;)

And, here is my foot, after the stitches were removed and steri-strips were put in place. The steri-strips are kind of like bandages that just keep everything in place after the stitches are removed.

You'll notice the "X" on my leg. They have to mark with an "X" or a "YES" the side that they're going to be operating on.

I have some residual swelling and bruising, but it's not bad. By the way, the yellow you're seeing there is bededine, not bruising.

This was a rather minor surgery, as I said before. All my doctor did was remove a metal plate and screws that were put in two years ago when he had to use bone grafting in the reconstruction of my feet. He also took off some bone spurring: some that resulted from that metal plate being loose, and some that had been there for years. In fact, the latter is some that the Shriners had considered removing when I was a kid, but were afraid that it would come back since I was so young.

I guess I'm not so young anymore. ;)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Fancy footwork

Today is the day I get my splint off and have the skin staples and stitches removed. And best of all, I get to skip casting altogether and go straight into a walking boot. I'm going to try to remember to take pictures of the splint before it gets cut off my foot, the staples before they get removed, and then me in my cam boot, which, by the way, is the same boot I used two years ago when I had my feet reconstructed.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The "good news" you're all waiting to hear:

My younger (but taller) sister, Tonya, and her husband Nick are expecting their first child! They recently celebrated their second anniversary in June, and it is assumed that it was the celebration of said anniversary that led to the expectation of this child.

Anyway, since my sister is my only sibling, this will be my first niece or nephew by blood. My husband's siblings have children (well, all but one does, that is), but I never get to see them, and they're not blood relatives. Don't get me wrong, I still love them, but since they're all at least 1,000 miles away, it's difficult to see them.

So now, I'm taking suggestions as to what kinds of games and gifts to have for her baby shower, which will probably be in February. I've got a few ideas, but I'd love to hear yours.

By the way, my sister has worked in day care for a number of years, and is currently in a supervisory position at the child development center at the local Air Force base. She gets asked lots of parenting questions by parents who know that she has learned enough by day care experience and in her studies in college to know how to care for kids, but she is not so familiar with the whole pregnancy thing. So, any advice you would like me to send along to her would be great, too.

Congratulations, Sis!

At Issue: Inflammatory Breast Cancer

This Sunday morning, a program that I have spent weeks putting together will air on several radio stations in the city. Of course, this is a pre-recorded, prepared program that will run while I'm either getting ready for church or on my way there with my husband. And the cool part is that you can listen, too! Just go to the podcasting site, click on the link, and listen. I guarantee it's worth your time. It won't be up until Sunday, though, so if you try to listen before then, you'll be out of luck.

The topic on the At Issue program that I did is Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Although it only occurs in 1 to 3 percent of all breast cancers, it is very much an unknown cancer. My program is one that is meant not to cause fear or panic, just to inform, to educate the public.

As a bonus, you get to see how meant-to-be-a-journalist I am, and you get to hear my voice, which is an added bonus, since blogging doesn't really give you any clue as to what this journalist from Kansas sounds like.

I've interviewed two doctors (although one gave a better interview because he's the president of the Cancer Center of Kansas), and one woman who is in remission from Inflammatory Breast Cancer. It's a very eye-opening segment, which is worth your time to listen to. As I say at the beginning of the segment, it's information that could just save your life or the life of someone you love.

And because it can attack anyone, particularly women, of any age (Dr. Dakhil said he's seen patients from age 25 to 80 with it), I have a good feeling that it is relevant to the majority of those reading this blog, too.

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments section. If it's something you don't want to share with others, e-mail me at mrs dot t dot swede at gmail dot com. I'll do my best to answer your questions, and if I can't, I'll give you a reference for who can.

It's kind of cool that I got to do this, because in reporting on IBC in this way, I have kind of become a mini-information source. This is the most awesome way to expand my mind, and I love every minute of it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Pennies – The currency, not the store

A few days ago when I was at work, I asked one of my co-workers if he could go downstairs and get something for me out of the vending machine. I had 70 cents in dimes, nickels and a quarter, plus five pennies that I couldn't use in the vending machine. Of course, the item I wanted was 75 cents. The guy who had gone down to get that item for me chipped in a nickel, and I offered him the five pennies to make up the difference, but (surprise, surprise) he didn't want them.

But when you go to the grocery store (at least in Kansas, where everything has tax added to it), you end up with an uneven total most of the time, so if you're paying with cash and want to use exact change, you have to use pennies. And, conversely, if you don't have exact change, you get pennies back. Some people just tell the cashier to "keep the change" because they don't want the pennies.

Obviously, since pennies don't work in vending machines, they're not going to work at a coin-operated car wash or gumball machine or anywhere else. They seem to only be useful when paying for something in a restaraunt or in a grocery store and using exact change.

And now, the government is considering getting rid of pennies altogether, because the zinc used in their production (about 97% of their production, in fact) is costing the government more than the coin is worth to produce. I don't know about what you think, but if the government gets rid of pennies, everyone is going to have to make changes. Tax rates will have to be rounded not down, but up, to bring the total of purchases, etc., to the next nickel. That's a huge change for everyone.

But, as for the positive, that means no loose pennies hanging around that will never be used. It also means that if the government is going to phase them out, we need to start collecting what we have. They may be worth a lot more someday.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Vocations and Medical Science

I am only 25 years old, and have already had 18 surgeries on my feet, two hernia surgeries when I was very young, sinus surgery when I was in high school, and if you want to count it as a surgery, I had my wisdom teeth removed. If all of those are counted, I have had 22 surgeries, and I'm not quite done yet with my feet.

As far as my feet go, I have had my bones cut through, realigned, pinned, and shaved, and even have screws in some of them. I have so many scars on my feet, they look like they've been through a war. And if life and the fight to be able to walk can be considered a war, then the anaysis is appropriate.

Every time, my bones and my skin have healed well, and after the appropriate recovery time, the bones have worked better than before. It is incredible the strides that medical science has made to allow me to walk, and at the same time, it is very understandable. Why? Because the scientists and doctors working to make this possible have been given the ability to learn and to use their knowledge to help others through their vocations, given by God.

Even if some of these scientists and doctors deny the very existence of God, He uses them in order to bring healing and hope to those who otherwise would have none. I'll give an example:

Who do you think started and is responsible for funding much of the Shriners' Hospital at its various locations throughout the US? You realize that all of the work they do and the help they offer to their patients is done free of charge, right? The organization responsible is none other than the Masons. Masons aren't Christians, but they help Christians all the time. They also help Buddhists, Hidus, Muslims and any other group that seeks help from the Shriners' Hospital.

Vocations are interesting things: You don't have to be a Christian in order to help a Christian. You don't have to believe in God in order to be used by Him to help those who do believe in Him. Of course, I think it helps your vocation if you are a Christian. Anything and anyone can benefit from being a Christian, the biggest benefit, of course, being eternal life in Heaven.

Anyway, to avoid total digression, God uses even those who do not know (or even defy) Him for the good of those who do. That is how a group such as the Masons, who fund and largely support the Shriners' Hospital, can be used and given a vocation that helps people like me. Without the help I was given through the Shriners, I would not have been able to walk at all. The doctors who have benefited from the teaching done at those hospitals would not have learned what they did and would not have been in the position to help me or any of the millions of others who have been helped.

Of course, I hope and pray that eventually, these non-Christians one day become Christians. Christ has loved them and has been using them all along, helping them carry out very special vocations, to improve and, in some cases, save the lives of countless people.

Thank God for His compassion and love for ALL of His children, not just those who love Him back.

This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes...

The new washing machine is here! I guess I should say it's a Maytag Neptune front-loading washing machine. Take a look! Isn't that a cool washer?!

We didn't actually have to pay the price that is listed. Because the store we got it from doesn't advertise, we actually paid about $130 less than the price listed on that page. Of course delivery was $60, and we got the extended warranty that will last us 12 years.

In about another month or so, we'll be able to get the accompanying Maytag Neptune dryer, too! And, of course, we'll be saving about the same amount on that one, too.

These machines are so quiet, and very efficient. I'm looking forward to having the pair so I can do all my laundry in our apartment's laundry closet instead of asking my mom to take our laundry home with her to do it or finish it up for us. I mean, it's really sweet of her to take our laundry with her and do it for us, especially since I'm not able to carry anything or drive anywhere, but I'm sure she'll appreciate it very much when we have both a washer and a dryer.

Some goals are easier than others to attain.

The apartment complex that my husband and I recently moved into provides washer and dryer hookups in every apartment, which is nice. It's what we wanted. But we have never had a washer or dryer since we've been married because the complex we moved out of didn't have hookups. And since every one of these new apartments has hookups, there is no central laundry room.

So yesterday, when my husband came home for lunch, we drove over to the appliance store I worked at when I was in high school. They don't advertise, so they can pretty much beat anyone else's prices on every appliance they sell, and they don't have delivery people: technicians only. That way, when the technicians deliver the appliances, you're assured that everything will be hooked up correctly, and they can tell you exactly how to operate and care for your new appliance. Then, if you have any maintenace issues with it, even years after your purchase, they know exactly how to fix it, and have a warranty on the appliances and on their work for the life of the machine.

Anyway, since washers and dryers are so expensive (any good one that will last a long time, anyway), we just got the washer. It will be delivered sometime today between 2 and 6 p.m. In about 4 to 6 weeks, we should be able to get the accompanying dryer, too.

These are two of our expensive goals. The next one is to get a SleepLevel bed (similar to TempurPedic), and then a family vehicle since we want to start a family. We're looking at some of the smaller Toyota and Lexus SUVs. My pickup and his sports car aren't exactly baby-friendly.

Four years is long enough to wait after getting married, I think. I'm ready to be a mom. Give me the sleepless nights, the spit-up, the poopy diapers... I can handle it. It would be a blessing to have a child. And the older I get, the more I want one. At least one.

Hey, at least we'll have the washer and dryer by then so I won't have to take all the spit-up stained clothes and cloths to the laudromat. ;)

And I know my parents are looking forward to being grandparents. Maybe before long, they will be. Only God knows for sure when that will be. That's one of the reasons they built the house they're living in now. It has two guest bedrooms and a nice full basement that my dad still needs to finish. I teased them about building a bigger house AFTER my sister and I got married and moved away. Oh, well.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Getting closer to normal life...

This morning, my mom is getting rid of her cam boot, and is transitioning back into shoes. The problem, which will soon be solved, is that the shoes she had before her surgery will no longer work because when her arch fell, it messed them up. So, hopefully, I'll get to go with her to help her find a new pair.

And then tonight, I'm going to go back to work for the first time since my surgery. My boss called me yesterday to see how I was feeling and to see when I might be ready to come back. He said that if I wasn't feeling up to it, I could wait until tomorrow to come back, or wait longer if I needed to. What a cool boss! I've never had a boss who called me to see how I was feeling, or who was so understanding as to tell me to take as long as I need to before coming back to work. He rocks! And if he somehow comes across this blog (which I'm not advertising at work), I hope he sees that I'm very appreciative of his generosity.

I haven't been taking too many percocet or other pain pills lately, although I should probably take more ibuprophen to help alleviate the swelling. Yesterday, I was able to go about nine hours in between doses, when I could have taken one pill every three to four hours. My pain is very manageable right now, which is excellent.

When my hubby gets home, I think I'll have him take a picture of me so I can put it on this blog and you can see for yourselves how I'm getting around, and maybe see the parts of our apartment that have been organized!

As for the "news" I'm waiting to share, which I mentioned yesterday: it's my sister's news, which she asked me to hold off on sharing until she gave me the go-ahead. So, sis, when you're ready, let me know, and I'll do a special post on it!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Blogging from Bed

I'll bet you're all just dying for an update by now, aren't you? Well, we have our computer back, have finished moving, and I just had my surgery yesterday morning.

The new apartment is wonderful. I have a lot more room to put things in my kitchen, I have a dishwasher, and to top it all off, the management actually manages things (unlike where we used to live, where I would have to call the owner about problems because the manager liked his video games too much).

I was the first case of the day yesterday morning. I had to be at the surgery center at 6:15 a.m., and my surgery was scheduled for 7:30. As far as I know, I got in at that time, and the surgery only took about 30 minutes. I got a one-inch-long metal plate removed from my left foot, along with the corresponding one-inch-long screws that held it in place. They were going to do a regional block, but it didn't work, so they had to use general anesthesia. Oh, well. I was still able to go home by 10:30 that same morning!

I think the regional block did eventually work, though, because for the longest time yesterday, I couldn't feel anything from my knee down. I couldn't even move my leg starting at the knee: it was all like dead weight. And the splint is heavy, made with plaster for a shell, my leg is wrapped in cotton, and it's all held together by more cotton wrapping and a large Ace bandage.

Now, though, I can feel my leg and am starting to be able to wiggle my toes again, but I have to be careful, because if I do it too much, it starts hurting.

I have other exciting news to share, but I'm waiting to hear from the people it most directly affects before I share it with the world. I'm just bursting about it inside, though, because it affects me in a large part, too, although not as directly!

Well, my Terrible Swede is back at work today after taking all of yesterday off so he could help me and be with me. My mom, who has been driving herself now for a couple of weeks!, is planning on being over here at my new apartment sometime this morning so she can help me like I helped her when she was in my place. I already have some tasks waiting for her for when she gets here.

I am so thankful to God for allowing me to have this surgery, keeping me from too much pain, and for putting people in my life who truly care about me and are willing to help me out, even if they have to drive for 30-45 minutes to get to me, as my mom does.

And I'm also thankful for those who were with me when I was getting ready to go into the operating room: My husband, my mom, my sister, and Pastor Brockman from our new home church.

God is so good. My recovery is only supposed to be one month. I'll be in this splint until July 25, and then I get to have a cam boot, which I can walk in. I'll have that for two weeks, and then I can start wearing my shoes again! Fabulous!

Anyway, I think I'm going to see if I can find any pants that will go over this huge splint. I may just have to wear my shorts again. I'll write again soon. Now that I have Internet at home again, I can promise that.