Graduating to a cane from the walker!“Do you have a cane?” Brenda-the-PT asked, and I nodded, “Good. Bring it next time. I want you to graduate from your walker to a cane.”

Heady stuff. Me, not lugging around walkers and wheelchairs? Wow.

“No long walks on a cane yet, only short trips,” she warned, “And no carrying heavier stuff when you’re on the cane, at least not until you get the hang of it.”

But still…I’m that much closer to walking like a semi-normal!!

On Friday night, Sept. 16, 2016, I fractured my left femur just above Elmo, my replacement knee. I lived in a wheelchair, facing hip-high amputation of my left leg, for about two years while I fought health care bureaucracy, cost-conscious HMOs, and myself to figure out a way to walk again. (Spoiler alert: Elmo won!)

I documented my adventures in remobilization in 49 blogposts. They’re awfully self-indulgent, occasionally icky, and probably only of interest to me, but on the off-chance that they help someone else with a catastrophic injury, I’m keeping them together here. If you don’t want to read them, that’s OK; I still love you. If you do, you might want to start from the beginning, on the archive page that lists all 49 posts.

My September 2016 fall is the gift that keeps on giving, in this case gifting me with a lousy night’s sleep from a tooth extraction. In all the excitement over The Leg, it took awhile to notice the hairline fracture in my skull, running from the bridge of my nose down to my right jaw, and the split went right across an upper tooth.

A couple of months later, half that tooth dropped into my mashed potatoes, and the dentist discovered the skull fracture. “Let’s extract the tooth and put in an implant,” she said cheerfully, “It will go nicely with your cornnut casualty.”

I’d had it with the medical poking and prodding. “No,” I said firmly, “Right now I’ve had umpty-ump operations, injections, oxygen masks, fingers in untoward places, pain pills and and and… I refuse to go under a different knife until The Leg is working.”

Now, I’m walking. “Don’t you think,” she said, “That it’s time we fixed that tooth?”

Gave in, grudgingly, and had the tooth removed Monday. Spent all day Monday regretting it. It took three hours to get that tooth yanked out and stitched up. By then, the second batch of anesthetic was wearing off, and I began to long for a Dilaudid for the first time in months. (but stuck to my resolve to stay away from opiates)

She gave me some ‘roids for the swelling, which had a salutory effect: I woke up Tuesday morning raring to go. Went early to the gym and worked out, did four laps in the pool, then to physical therapy to learn of the new cane initiative, and on to work.

Didn’t stop there. Left work and headed for the garden center to buy more plant stuff, where I learned that you can use a big plant cart as a walker. I walked the equivalent of several blocks behind it, something I couldn’t even have contemplated a couple of weeks ago.

Uhm….Cynthia in a garden? Not really

Anyone who knows me, knows that gardening isn’t exactly my sweet spot. How fortunate that the Resident Carpenter  grew up on a farm and expects the surrounding land to stock our kitchen.

“It’s almost sacrilegious,” he said, obviously horrified, “That all this whole big yard produces is blueberries and few raspberries.* Ornamental strawberries for ground cover, ornamental pears, ornamental plums, ornamental cherries… what’s the point?”

On the whole, I agreed with him but wasn’t about to admit it. Instead, I carefully explained my views on wilderness. If anything, that encouraged him.

“Come on,” he coaxed, “Let’s plant a vegetable garden. I’ll do all the work. You’ll love it.”

Hold it. No gardening chores?

“You’ll do ALL the work? Really? You don’t expect me to weed or grunny around in the buggy dirt or anything? OK!!! Let’s go plant-shopping!”

Anyone remember what happened when I found 324 tulip bulbs? Next year, mindful of the difficulties involved in finding someone ELSE to dig holes and plant stuff, I made sure my nephew Morgan was available to plant his aunt’s tulips in exchange for fifty bucks.

Thus reassured, I bought more tulip bulbs. 1,200-plus, to be exact. The yard was glorious, although tulips are closer to annual than perennial in Glassland.

Unfortunately, I also lost my bulb planter after 1200+ little tulip holes. “Don’t ask me to do that again,” Morgan wheezed. That put an end to my gardening ambitions…until the RC moved in.

Adopting Sherman the Tank

sherman the tank: my new transport

So, if you’re going to become a gardener, you need something to transport your acquisitions, right? SherryBaby the Camry is hardly suited for tree transport, so we bought a cheap truck. Actually, we bought a loaded 2000 Chevy Suburban in mint condition, for surprisingly little. It’s got enough room to hold a 4×8 foot sheet of plywood, bunches of plants, and then some.

“Hey, we can put our sleeping bags in here when we go camping!” the RC enthused.

OK, let’s review my wilderness policies (especially the parts about room service delays and proximal bathrooms) one more time…

The Chevy needed a little work–fortunately the RC is also a fair auto mechanic–so he’s been updating some 4WD switches and adding a new motor to the power window in back. Mostly, though, Sherman is working perfectly, and making all this home improvement stuff much easier. We’re giving him a trailer hitch and cargo liners just in case.

Best of all, Sherman is old enough, depreciated enough, and in good enough condition that we can likely sell him for the price we paid or a bit more when we’re done. That’s MUCH cheaper than renting a truck each time we need to haul stuff.

In the meantime, I’m gulping and trying to ignore the gas guzzling aspects; used to SherryBaby’s 40+ MPG, Sherman’s paltry 15MPG or so is a bit hard to take.

Buying out the farm

With another chump, er, valued gardening comrade, in my sights, and something to transport the haul, I set out to buy stuff. Now, new plants are arriving daily and the totals are becoming impressive:

  • 1 each miniature orange, clementine tangerine, and sweet lime trees and the pots to grow them in
  • An espaliered apple tree with six different kinds of apples
  • Climbing vines: 2 currant, 1 gooseberry, 1 elderberry, 1 golden raspberry, and 1 kiwi. They’ll go nicely up the new trellis on the studio shed.
  • 2 bush cherries, one sweet and one sour (gotta make pies, you know!)
  • 1 semi-dwarf prune tree (I don’t remember why I got this, and will probably regret it later. We’re running out of space in the backyard)
  • 1 miniature peach tree, also bound for a container
  • 1 artichoke plant. Can you put this in a container?
  • Rooty things: Asparagus and Walla Walla onions
  • 12 assorted herbs (rosemary, oregano, basil, chives, that kinda stuff)
  • 3 types of lettuce and 1 red cabbage
  • 6 tomato plants (2 of my favorite black cherries, 2 sandwich-sized tomatoes, 2 Italian plum tomatoes for sauce)
  • 2 French sorrel plants (which it turns out I can’t eat and I make a MEAN French Sorrel soup. But sorrel’s one of the richest sources of oxalic acid around, and oxalic acid pulls calcium out of bones. Last thing The Leg needs…)
  • 3 pepper plants (red, green, yellow)
  • 2 green beans
  • 1 charentais melon vine (tastes like cantaloupe but actually will grow in Glassland, no small feat)
  • 1 personal-sized watermelon vinebuying veggies for the backyard
  • 12 strawberry plants
  • Potatoes (Nathan wants to plant them in a stacked tower of truck tires. This I HAVE to see.)
  • Two packets of lavender seed (for the scent)
  • 48 lily of the valley bulbs (also for the scent)
  • 25 gladioli bulbs (they don’t smell, but Costco threw them into the kit anyway)
  • 25 liatris bulbs (don’t ask me what these are, they were in with the other smelly bulbs)
  • 6 calla lilies (just because I love them)
  • 3 dahlia and 3 canna (another bonus)
  • 1 daphne bush (to replace the one that died and bring that heavenly scent back into my yard)
more herbs for the garden

Bunches of herbs and tools and stuff for the garden

Nathan gave me his Do you understand the term “going overboard?” look, but gamely set to digging. With each new addition, though, he’s going a little more walleyed. “Uhm…where did you want to put THIS one?”

cedarwood raised bed boxesI gotta admit, we’re running out of space in the backyard and will probably have to put some of the trees up front. I put off mentioning those cedarwood raised bed kits that are arriving next week. Hardly any construction required.

Hey, if a guy wants to take care of a whole produce section’s worth of food in my backyard, it’s up to me to make the materials available, right?

planting trees in potsI gotta hand it to Nathan: He’s never complained about the mad plantbuyer, and regularly texts me at work with his progress. Yesterday he made an exciting find: “You have MOREL MUSHROOMS growing in your backyard!”

Last winter he found a few white truffles under the bark dust–“Your backyard is MAGICAL!”–so it wasn’t a huge surprise to have morels, too. There are only three right now, but inspired, I added mushroom spawn–morels, lions mane, and shiitake–to my shopping list.

Maybe I should hold off mentioning those mushrooms…

morel mushrooms in my backyard

Hard to see against the bark dust, but there are two little morel mushrooms (from my BACKYARD!) in this pic

The Resident Carpenter solemnly, carefully, fried the smallest morel in butter and split it between us last night. It was delicious. The other two are what remains of some critter’s feast, so he’s covered them for protection, and hopes they’ll grow bigger before we give into temptation and eat them.

He’s called these “landscaper’s mushrooms,” meaning that the spores came in on bark dust and will peter out in a year or two. By then, our own morel spawn should be growing.

Once we have an inventory of the little buggers I’ve promised to make my killer Morel Beef Stroganoff. And the best Hungarian mushroom soup in town.

I can’t wait to WALK through the backyard, sans grannywalker, and see the fruits of his labor!

*Given that my favorite foods in the world are blueberries and raspberries, is this a huge surprise?