Slow Food

This flu started out with a stomach upset. And roughly ended with same. Today was the first day I ate a meal without feeling bad. Of course, the 2/day x 5 days of Tamiflu started Saturday ended yesterday, and the general report from the staff on Tamiflu is that it upsets the stomach. Except for one reading of 99.1°F, my temps been normal pretty much all week. Highest recorded was 101.9°F. Congestion mostly gone, the big globs of green phlegm are gone, but I still have a cough every few hours. Feeling better. Still getting lots of sleep.

So I think I will survive. Get off lockdown on Saturday -- can't wait to get some outside air. Monday is back to Hanger for Leg 2.1 try. PT eval when I get back.

The blog title came from the slow way I'd pick through food this last week. Even jello and saltines was a little rough. But I managed to eat menu food on Tuesday and Thursday, roast beef sandwiches on Wednesday. I'd lost around ten pounds or more, but alas, resuming eating will bring some of that back.

The blog title has other significance today -- the whole morning was running late. I'm supposed to get a 7:30 early tray every day. Didn't come this morning, had to call down. Of course today I wanted to start early getting up so Dave from PT could take off my bandage and inspect and handle my stump and scar. But breakfast was late. Getting on and off a bedpan ran late. Dave was late.

But, he was very happy with how it all looked and felt. Cleared for Monday.

Kept in our rooms since Saturday, we're all on limited in-room therapy. Made easier for me because I had no strength to do diddlysquat. Today I did a full set of 200 exercises with the hand weights, full set of all three leg exercises, and 175 of the black theraband pull downs from the top of the door jam. While not a full day's work, it's the best I've done in over a week. Comes at an opportune time, I'd say.

I've had to burn a lot more battery time on the Kindle, playing my playlists to drown out the nasal noises while trying to sleep. Naturally I have a new story in my head, but I've only made notes.

I wanna sit up and type, dammit.

Best thing I can say about the flu -- I was wondering how I would survive two weeks of limbo before the next leg attempt. Apparently I was to entertain a virus. Oh well, kept my mind off other matters.


Dr. Phil


Long weekend. Friday and Saturday night, little sleep. Sunday morning I emailed Mrs. Dr. Phil at 6:20am not to bother to come in. I wouldn't be any fun. At 4 I had terrible heartburn and kept asking for a couple of damned Tums. Even water was too irritating. -- I finally got the Tums at 9:20. Coughing up gobs of crap irritated a rib muscle. Great. One More reason not to sleep.

Yesterday afternoon I did sleep. In fact they couldn't wake me at 5 to get up. They got me up at 5:30. Dietary sent up a quartered fresh orange and it was the first thing in two days to taste good.

This morning I ate half a breakfast. Stomach has been annoyed with me since. It's gray and snowing a tiny bit outside -- too warm to stick -- but this makes the sky too glaring and annoying.

The good news is that the flu outbreak seems to have been confined to Five. The bad thing I am living on Five. I want outta here.

So yeah I feel better. Better enough to complain. (grin)

Dr. Phil

House Arrest

Well, we're in lockdown mode here at Fuller due to the flu. They did nasal swabs and the first results were negative save for one. But it sounds like the repeat, longer test showed widespread flu.

Meals and therapy in rooms. I could sit in the dining room, but I'd have to wear a mask. But that's too hot. I've never been able to wear a mask for more than a few minutes. Hell, I don't even wear a scarf in the winter.

Not surprisingly, my pulseox has dropped due to congestion. 88, 89, 90. So I had the nurse get me a nasal canula for lying down and running it at 1 L.

Sitting up in wheelchair for a couple of hours. Did 40 minutes of PT exercises. Will get up again in the evening, as usual. Have zero interest in lying in bed and getting fluid in my lungs again like 2013.

If I was at home, I'd be sleeping in Debbie's chair. But with one leg, I don't know if I can get out of it right now. So best to be here.

Local news had a flu story -- a strain of H1N1 swine flu not covered in the last flu shot is racing through West Michigan. Wonderful.

And it's snowing steadily outside right now.


Dr. Phil

Some Progress On A Sick Day

Weather was a rollercoaster on the last day of March. At 6pm there's fast moving white clouds and blue sky to the north and fast moving storm clouds to the south.

Did not sleep well last night. With warm rain outside the humidity indoors shot up. Put on the room fan eventually. Three times I broke out the Kindle to play music to drown out hallway and noises from other room. I had finally got to sleep when I was woken up by an aide at 5am that my weight would be taken at six. No. Besides, I get my weight taken most weeks and especially before a doctor's visit.

But what really didn't help was the increase in the gassy bloating feeling. Yesterday was mac and cheese lunch, but I only picked at dinner. I ran into this two years ago with food making me gassy. I just need to get out of here and get real food again. Took a couple of Gas-X at 3am, more at breakfast, lunch.

Had no interest in the lunch or dinner trays. I had a small cup of orange jello and some saltiness for lunch. Chicken noodle soup and two cups of orange jello plus saltiness for dinner. The noodles and chicken were well boiled, so I had some. The broth was good, though it had a lot of sage in it.

Late afternoon temp was just 99.6° F, so I'm not deathly ill. Dozed in afternoon.

But... today was the first day of PT in a week, so we ended up going outside under the portico out front. As suspected, the folding walker sucks on non-level surfaces. But I did well with my four wheel walker. First time I really got the push-brake-step coordination together. Go me. Also did well on a wet, slippery surface.

My entry for WOTF was due today -- the first quarter where the deadline was 9pm PST and not 11:59pm. Of course at 11am EST the system was closed. I had to send my RTF file directly to Joni. She was not happy with the IT problem. I think they get a huge number of entries in the last 24-48 hours.

This is an experimental story. I fully expect it to be punted, so I probably will rewrite it traditionally for Q3.

I hope this bug goes fast. Being sick in a hospital sucks. All the usual things I would do have to be filtered through other people.


Dr. Phil

Fast Track

The biggest scare of Friday's scar splitting has been how do we keep that from happening again? Well, it sounds like there are products which are designed to prevent sheer forces on skin. Wish this had been brought up earlier. My skin, especially on my lower legs, is known to be weak. Oh well.

Today, Tuesday, we went out to see my orthopedic surgeon. He liked what he saw. Gave order for the nurses here to pull out the stitches next week.

Tom from Hanger and Dr. Fras have talked. Potentially, I might have the leg soon, if they can keep the lower stump skin from being stretched. Maybe next Friday?

So, it could be as few as two weeks of additional $280/day, which is less frightening than just unknown.

The wheelchair ambulance ride back to Fuller was the first with a sidedoor lift and not a rear door. This faces out, not in. A little nervewracking.

Beautiful weather today, but deteriorating as week advances.

The wheelchair lift should be installed on Thursday. In theory, than at least gets me in the door, though not quite ready to go home yet. Closer...


Dr. Phil

Did We Miss A Step?

The blog title is a line from the movie Apollo 13, when they shut down the command module navigation computer before getting the lunar module's computer up and running. For some seconds, things were chaotic.

Another line I keep on coming up with, one I coined myself, is Hasn't anyone ever done this before?

Saturday is a lovely sunny day. And was supposed to be my PT eval with the new leg, thus putting me back on the clock with insurance. Alas, after yesterday, no leg delivered. And we're in limbo with insurance -- does the medical procedure change my status -- because you can't hope to get any coherent and accurate information on a weekend.

But no, it's dumber than that.

The expectation was, that with a successful eval, we'd start into the new PT regimen on Sunday. Well, I should be able to put on a Kiwi and resume what I've been doing on Sunday.


Dave discharged me from therapy so I could be evalled. And he's not on this weekend. So the person who was going to do the eval is going to have to get in contact with a supervisor.

You can't write this stuff.

And due to a bureaucratic drop kick, it's possible I'm still on the $280/day room and board, with no PT.

It didn't help that I couldn't get up until 11 this morning. Our best aide, Sabina, was on, but there were three admits and other crises. I haven't decided if I'm being a cranky crab or a whiny child when my schedules fall apart. It's a long story. Perhaps in the future I'll reread this entry and wonder what the other issues were this morning. Ah, well.

Onward... at some pace.

Dr. Phil

Son Of A Dag Nab Gol Darn No Good Friday

The morning in Grand Rapids dawned overcast and cold. Eventually it would enable up blue sky sunny. Not much breeze.

Sat outside and did my sets of 150 with hand weights. Had to come in after a couple sit to stands -- partly a cold breeze and partly fumes from a gas leaf blower. Not very green.

Everyone was excited about me going to Hanger and picking up my leg. Ran it a little close timewise -- finished getting redressed after urinal and bedpan just in time for getting into LIFE's wheelchair. Actually early to Hanger.

It will take getting some time in the leg to get used to it, and we had to make some adjustments. The mount I have has some give in it -- you slide deeper into it as you stand up.

Did a couple of steps. Was able to stand without holding the walker.


When we took it off to make the last adjustment, there was blood dripping from the sock.


Upon removing sock and Ace wrap, what Mrs. Dr. Phil, today's ride-along aide Autumn and Tom the prostheticist could see is that part of the surgical suture line had split. Maybe two inches long. Not a lot of blood, but damn...

We worked on calling the orthopedic surgeon's office -- it was already 2:30-ish on a holiday Friday. Had trouble getting through. Eventually got through to one of Dr. Fras' PAs. Yes, we needed to go to the ER. Yes, he'd call ahead to orthopedics at Butterworth. The secretary had already called ahead to the wheelchair ambulance return number. And here's where it got complicated.

The wheelchair ambulance driver is not allowed to transport to the ER. Discussion with the case manager at Fuller said we couldn't have the wheelchair ride paid for by insurance if we returned to Fuller and got an ambulance there.

So... we had to wait for a full ambulance. Fortunately, it was a lovely afternoon.

Next issues. This was their bari wheelchair and our seat cushion. So the wheelchair guy had to stay. We had the folding bari walker with us. So on a parking lot with no level surfaces, I had to sit to stand, then sit on the stretcher. At Butterworth, Autumn was picked up by the case manager, along with the seat cushion and walker.

Into the ER.

The hardest part was dealing with the uncomfortable hospital gurney. My weight pushes me down on the hardware underneath. Had to shift around a lot.

The orthopedic surgeon consult came down. I got seven plus one whip stitches done by an ER doc.

ER figured I could go back in a wheelchair ambulance. But, my walker was gone and Butterworth didn't have a bari walker. So they cancelled the first call and made a second. Due to arrive at 7:15pm, I was in the back of the bus by 7:10. Along with a shoe and a Kiwi brace that wouldn't go over the bandage.

No real problem missing dinner. Our original plan was to have Jimmy John's for lunch, but they were changed to dinner due to scheduling. So I had a fine dinner.

The consult said it was just a surface skin split -- the tissue below looked in good shape. Will try and get an appointment to see Fras this coming week. Not sure this sounds like too much of a delay. Not sure if we need more offloading on the attachment cap or what.

The prosthetic was feeling better as we worked at the clinic, so it was disappointing not to come back with a leg.

I am assuming the new skin from the revision surgery was too tight and hadn't enough give to it or something. Maybe not enough protection since we took off the Ace bandage layer.

Onward... with some delays.

Dr. Phil

60 / 150 / 2:30

We've been getting the back edge of Winter Storm Selene. But West Michigan is right along a boundary line. Ice then snow north of I-96. Rain south to Indiana. High today of 60°F by the border, 40s here, 30s north. It's rained enough that looking down at the grass in the back garden, there's some ponding. Green Bay got snow. The northernmost part of the Lower Peninsula is getting 12-15" of snow. Welcome to Great Lakes spring...

Tuesday in PT we went back to the regular corridors, having concentrated on carpet for a couple of weeks. My previous record number of steps on a single stand was 26. I had runs including 19, 26, 24, 26. Finally eked out a 27. Go me. All told we had gone 47', so we measured another 13' to make it sixty feet and achieved it.

Definitely go me.

Yesterday in RT, we were able to spend some time outdoors. Melissa is always egging me on to bigger numbers of reps. I'm up to 100 (100+1 or 105+1 depending on the exercise). So she said 150. While Melissa and Autumn chatted, I went through three exercises with the hand weights, three sets of fifty each. Or 150 x 3. So th-bbbt! (grin)

Today in PT I didn't have the stamina of Tuesday. But... I did make a total of 45 feet in the hallway. And I got to talk about helium and nitrogen and liquefied air and the Liedenfrost Effect, etc. during the breaks. So it was a good day.

Also had to talk legs. I get my leg tomorrow. So Saturday's PT will be an evaluation and then I should be put back on the clock for full therapy. The first few days will be just having the leg on for a couple of hours -- whether sitting, standing or even first steps. Probably will stay with RT until I can do sufficient stuff to warrant turning OT back on, too. But Dave thinks I'll be back on the insurance clock on Saturday.

Man, I do hope this goes as smoothly as I think it can... but I know it will be weird at first, too.

I was going to write and post this last night. But I must've drifted off sometime after midnight. I woke up, my light and TV were still on, and still had my reading glasses on. Was sure the clock said 6:10am. But that meant I was way behind with water and hadn't charged my Kindle. So I checked the Kindle, which had gotten a partial charge in the evening. It read 91%. It also said the time was 2:30, not 6:10.


It was hot on five in the middle of the night. My ice water melted too fast. But I slept.

So onward, as the rest of Selene passes by. Sun tomorrow as we ride off to see a man about a leg.

Dr. Phil


Ah, March Madness. And the sweet sounds of brackets crumbling all over.

-- Yale? First tournament win and its first ranked win since like 1948.

-- Michigan State just lost. Never led against #15 Middle Tennessee. The faithful here in Michigan had been annoyed that the Spartans had been seeded #2. Many brackets had them winning the whole thing.

The beauty of the NCAA tournament is it's one-and-done and you cannot look ahead.

The therapy gym was filling out brackets for fun and I'd put in my sheet.

My bracket has Texas winning. Beating State in the final. So my brackets are shredding. As per usual.


Only briefly checked in on the women's tournament on ESPN2. The men are on CBS-TBS-TNT-Tru, but alas we don't get the last, so I missed all the "First Four" play-in games.

However, they've come to their senses and no longer claim those four games as the First Round. That is reserved for the two days of 32 games.

As it should be.

Order has been restored to the universe.

Now, will someone beat Kansas?

Dr. Phil


Today was a big one. Today we went off to Hanger to try on the test leg.

They use a thick clear thermal plastic, so they can see the fit inside, and carve or reshape with a blowtorch as needed. Next the adjusted connecting piece will be used to cast a mold for the first real piece.

Once we got around the spots that were digging into my thigh, added a pad inside, it was time to stand up to the folding walker we'd brought along. Now I've been standing up with one leg for months, so I knew I could do it. But would the stump handle this?

Smooth up and standing. There were, of course, two immediate issues. First, I have gotten very used to looking down and checking my left foot placement these last two years. Similarly, the prosthetic foot has no nerves, but I could see the foot clearly bending out. Easy to fix with a wrench. Second, I realized I had to stretch up and lock my right knee to try to equalize the leg lengths.

Tom and their builder, Kevin, brought out pads to slip under my right foot. Interestingly I have had troubled lifting my foot with the walker. Not as hard with a second leg -- marvellous invention, they should issue those standard. First ¼", then 3/8". Perfect. Or at least much better.

I probably had at least three stands.

It felt like I could take a step, but there was no stretchy sleeve to hold the leg on. So no.

Next appointment, Friday 25 March 2015. 1:30pm.

Pictures from today are on Facebook. I'll eventually get them up on the blog.

The leg is different from my imagination -- which I expected. Surprised that the ankle is completely fixed, no sprung motion in any direction. Not sure how I feel about that. Even the AFO on my left foot had some fore/aft bend to it.

So a typical below the knee leg comes in at 5-7 lbs. This one will be more like 8-10 pounds, given the heavier weight loading.

Definitely a surreal experience. Next time for real. Then more serious walkage...


Dr. Phil