Thursday, April 16, 2009

Anatomy of the Arms

The photo above was taken aboard the Freedom of the Seas in November 2006. Not bad arms for an old broad who had just celebrated her 61st birthday. But there's a story behind the arms.

The trouble started in 2004 when I had a colonoscopy. That was a good thing to do, and I won't have to do that again until 2014. But in the process of moving myself into position on that metal table, I pulled something in my left shoulder. I noticed it at the time and thought it was something that would resolve itself in a few days. Within a few days I realized I couldn't lift my arm above shoulder height, and couldn't reach behind my back without pain for simple dressing tasks, like zipping or hooking stuff.

When I told my regular doctor, he said it sounded like a bone spur in my shoulder. Great, how did I get a spur and how do I get rid of it? So now I'm at the age when the doctor begins too many sentences with "At your age..." Thanks, doc. So he sent me to an orthopedist who specializes in shoulders. I didn't know there was such a specialty. The orthopede gave me a pulley contraption to do shoulder exercises that were supposed to build up my shoulder muscles and correct the pain problem. After a few months of the pulley and cortisone shots, I still couldn't fasten my bra without turning it around to the front. (Tinker thought that was cute.)

The next step was Aqua Therapy. Wonderful stuff. I recommend it highly for everybody. I did shoulder exercises in a warm pool with resistance devices to build up my shoulders. The warm water helped to alleviate the pain, and eventually I was doing lifts outside the pool and at home.

I was even carrying the 3 pound weights with me when we traveled. On one trip, the baggage handling totally tore up one suitcase with that undistributed weight. By early 2005, the shoulder was felling pretty good, except I couldn't sleep on my left side without pain. I tried sleeping on the right side, but I always prefer my left side, and would roll over to the left side in my sleep, only to be awaken by the pain. The therapists suggested sleeping with a teddy bear under that left arm. "A Teddy Bear?" It turns out that the teddy bear is just the right size to fit under the arm. So by our cruise in April 2005, the bear was going with me everywhere.

I stayed faithful to my weight lifting and slept with that bear until I had foot surgery in 2006. Since I was on crutches for several weeks, I was exerting that shoulder in another way. The last pain in the shoulder stopped, and I didn't need the bear anymore.

So there I was on that slippery slope, falling off the wagon.

My friends know the rest of the story. I've been inspired by "My First Lady" to get my arms back in shape, and I have a target date to see some progress. I'll be wearing something sleeveless Memorial Day Weekend, and I want my friends to congratulate me on my arms.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Now I'll never convince him we don't live in Mayberry

When hubby and I married (it will be seven years this month), he moved to North Carolina from the DC area to live with me. We bought a house, where he realized his dream of moving to "the country" where he could have a big back yard with space for a garden and fruit trees.

I remember the first time I got really pissed with him. I came home from my part-time real estate work to find the garage open, the door unlocked, and no hubby in sight. I closed the doors, looked everywhere inside, called all over the yard, and finally locked myself in. Then he came home grinning that he could see me all the time, from his perch on the lot down the street where another house was under construction.

I tried my best to convince him that there had been burglaries in the neighborhood, most often by way of open garages and unlocked doors. He grinned and mumbled something about Sheriff Taylor. He did get start locking the door at night, probably just to appease me.

It's been seven years now, and we haven't had a break-in, but I make sure he sees the neighborhood watch statistics on break-ins.

So yesterday when he decided to get rid of his old lawn mower, now that he has a new one to zip him about on the back forty, he left it in the driveway, thinking someone would take it off his hands. Just about dark, a neighbor called, to tell us we had left the lawn mower in the driveway. I looked at hubby, and he laughed. "Maybe somebody will take it, and I won't have to make a trip to the dump."

Guess what was in the driveway this morning.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Will I know when it's time

For the past month or so, I have been checking out retirement homes in the area, looking for a place that might be suitable for my oldest sister and her husband. She is 83, he is 90. They live in an over-55 condo community in Southern Virginia. Siblings and friends have all agreed that they shouldn't be living alone much longer. My brother-in-law is actually sharper mentally than my sister. He still drives. (Should have quit 30 years ago) And he still has a new joke to tell every time I talk to him.

My sister taught me algebra in high school, and later taught college calculus. It's distressing to see her declining. Some days she's quite lucid, other days not. Brother-in-law is ready to make a move, but he defers to his "Queen." She says we are all plotting against her, and she has no intention of moving. At least that's what she says.

She has agreed to come for a visit this month, and spend two nights at one of the two finalists on my list. I hope she will think of living in a retirement community as a vacation from the struggle of day-to-day chores. It takes the two of them together to perform any task. And I do believe a retirement home schedule of stimulating activities will improve the quality of life for both of them. But it's hard trying to convince someone to do something they say they don't want.

I often wonder what I will be like if I should live so long. I told Tinker, I'll be ready to go before he will. He won't give up his back yard as long as he can walk.