24... 26...

Yesterday it rained some, which is important because the contractor we're working with couldn't work outside, so they built an extension to the landing outside our back door into the garage. It's fantastic. They even reused the old railing, extending and reinforcing it so there's a nice railing before you fall to the floor of the garage. We ended up choosing this extension so the hydraulic lift will all be on one of the two slabs of concrete in the garage -- and between the two vehicles.

Last week, during Spring Break, Mrs. Dr. Phil had done a heroic job of cleaning out the cardboard recycling and the detritus of twenty years that had lived in front of the Bravada. With it cleared out, the space was easy to measure and then draw lines on photographs. I'll post those someday. Some of the old treasures were put by the side of the road with a Free Stuff sign -- and miraculously disappeared. One of our neighbors, wanting to help, added some of the trash to their garbage, as they have the unlimited contract instead of the by-the-prepaid bag we use. They have four sons, so go figure... (grin)

In my meager three days of PT a week, we've been concentrating on starting and stopping and restarting with the folding walker, side and back steps. Today we went for distance. My previous best was 22 steps, once done on the floor and one on carpet. I think one had a restart.

Today we did all carpet, and at the end I took off and had runs of 24 and 26 steps. These weren't just steps, but some distance covered all session. We've been concentrating on rolling the foot heel and toe, but having gotten that -- I'm not sure I can do the flat footed stomp anymore -- on these last two runs I just got the forward lean on the walker right and took off.

Yay me. Progress.

After lunch I got an aide to take me outside in the breeze and sunshine. Nice.

I shall break out of this place...


Dr. Phil


So... Wednesday the flight surgeon cleared my left stump for takeoff. Or at least some weightbearing.

Friday I'd already made an appointment to get measured for a prosthesis. We planned to do the same wheelchair ambulance maneuver as on Wednesday, but this turned out to be an adventure in itself.

Now the stand and transfer wheelchairs in the hallway, including moving my seat cushion, worked swell. Except this one had me leaning way back. Fortunately the driver had a blanket with him, which he put along the back so I could sit up straight. Then there was the ramp.

For some reason the folddown lip to the ambulance lift ramp wasn't lying all the way down. The driver had to hold it down with one foot while pulling me up. Then when he went to engage the lift, a red light came on and it beeped. Eventually he climbed in, removed a plastic cover, inserted a handle and pumped it up manually until the light went out and then the remote ran the lift. I speculated that the pressure in the hydraulics might have been insufficient until there was a few manual pumps.

Mrs. Dr. Phil didn't ride along, because my aide Sabina and her trainee had to ride along, since this was a clinic visit. Of course that meant the driver had to leave his second wheelchair at Fuller, so he could fold down the second row seat. Mrs. Dr. Phil met us at Hanger on Cascade Road.

Lovely sunshine and blue sky. Backed out, rolled up to the front door, hit the handicapped button, let the door open, pushed forward and... S C R A P E... Yeah, the chair barely fit through the door into the entryway.

Second door swings open, we get pushed forward and... BONK.

The wheelchair does not fit. Huh. Pretty funny for a prosthetics clinic.

So... we did bring the folding walker. In theory I could stand and hop through the doorway and fold the chair and get back in. But would the wheelchair fit through the interior doors? Well, yes, they were wider. But in the end they got some channel lock pliers, took out a nut to remove a pin from the door opener, so the door would be opened all the way. With some scrapes, we made it through. A few bumps through the next two wooden doors. I was in.

Naturally we gave Tom a hard time about his ADA doors, but truthfully, bariatric wheelchairs are wider.

So, onto the main event. Ever proactive, I had Mrs. Dr. Phil bring two left shoes, so they could fit a foot to size 10½ 4E/6E and get the height right.

A plaster cast of my stump was made. Very similar to the procedure used on my left leg for making an AFO. Measurements of my right leg from the knee down in the same shoes.

This Thursday I go back for a first fitting with a clear attachment, so they can see how it fits. Then they'll make the real one and next week I shall hopefully have a leg.

Very exciting.

But the fun didn't end. Getting into the ambulance wasn't a problem -- I think the hydraulic pressure was back up. Except... as the lift ramp was swung up and the back doors closed, there was a loud SNAP and something hard from behind and to the left struck me on the cheekbone, just below the eye. WTF?

Couldn't find anything on the floor of the van and the skin wasn't broken or bleeding. When I was being unloaded at Fuller, however, the driver found a jagged flat piece of hard plastic sitting on the back of the shoulder of my shirt. I have it and will put a picture on Facebook -- update this post later. The driver figured the cover he'd removed earlier must have been pinched by the mechanism.

Funny, as long as no one lost an eye.


Did another sit and stand with assistance from the 17" mat table in RT today. This was smoother than last week. Hard to do with one leg. We'll get there.

And in a couple of weeks, I may be able to walk through doorways -- using canes or a walker. But it's coming.


Dr. Phil


In thirty minutes the time change from EST to EDT will roll out. And 2am suddenly becomes 3am.

My aide this morning remarked that her phone changed overnight. As in Saturday morning, not Sunday. Huh. She had to go in and turn off automatic DST and set the time manually.

And what kind of phone? Apple iPhone 6s. She said other people she knew had the same thing happen.

Haven't looked at much news or net today, so I don't know how widespread. But I am assuming the DST change was programmed for year day N.

And Apple forgot that 2016 was a Leap Year.

This afternoon I cracked out my cellphone to call my Mother in NC. As often happens, seeing as I don't turn on the phone very often, I was in the middle of dialing when a text message received screen popped up. And as usual, it was a message from Verizon saying that $XX.XX was being charged to my credit card under monthly Autopay.

Except March 12th is the wrong day for the message. At least I think that's what the message was about. It was in Spanish.

There was no way I was going to call the 800 number shown. So first I replied to the message, Why the hell is this in Spanish? But as I expected, this message won't take replies. So I called customer service at *611. The first call got dropped after I made it through the security crap and reached a real person.

On the second call, the woman I talked to laughed and said they'd done a big system upgrade and "everyone" got a text message in Spanish. Ignore it.

Okay, so they hadn't switched my account language.

But given the anti-immigration climate amongst Trump and other supporters, I do worry that this will reach the tinfoil conspiracy crowd and make them nuts. The Mexicans are taking over Verizon! Sigh.

Oh, and my mother? She wasn't available -- she was in the main dining room for Bingo and popcorn. Good, she likes popcorn. And she might even be playing Bingo. Another time...

Cellphones 0-3 today.


Saturday PT included steps forward, to the left, to the right, and back. I swear it sounds like I'm doing the Time Warp from Rocky Horror Picture Show...


Dr. Phil


This morning I was sitting up in bed and eating my breakfast, when I looked down -- my stump looked it was lying at a funny angle to the left. Then I realized I was looking at the Ace wrap and it was probably falling off. Did the white 5-ply sock come off in the night?

Uh, no. It was sitting over on the chair. The nurse last night forgot to put it on. And I can't see what's going on.

OK. Whew.

Did handweights outside on the way to the gym. Nice.

In PT we again started straight on the carpet. But this time we did steps forward, sideways and back.

Actually I did steps to the left. Right didn't work. Yet.

And one of my back steps was HUGE. Surprised all of us. (grin)

My back hallway goal was to this short side corridor going down to a new door onto the patio outside the gym. It's been covered in plastic, the hallway that is, for months. But they just did the work in the last day. Apparently the first new door was jamming and sticky. They replaced it.

Finished PT with some wheelchair squats. We haven't done them in a long time. Push back on something and tilt the wheelchair. We used the edge of the steps in the gym. My leg is a lot stronger than it used to be. I'd tilt and hold. Dave started adding resistance. No problem.

Since there are wheelie bars, I am now cleared to do this exercise on my own.


Dr. Phil

Random Errors

So Mrs. Dr. Phil and I Skype every day that she's not here. It's been marvelous.

Of course, as a free service, it's not been without its glitches. Mrs. Dr. Phil's Kindle Fire HDX seems to have an issue with something flexing inside which causes the microphone to cut out. So she's using her laptop now.

Tonight, in the middle of our conversation, the screen on my Kindle Fire HD flashed white and we lost video. I think she just got my avatar and I got nothing. Still had sound. Eventually we tried restarting the session. Got various versions of either avatars and nothing.

A bunch of apps updated themselves today. Maybe there was a mismatch of versions.

Rebooted. Reinstalled the app. I could see her now, but my image was black.

After we logged out, I suddenly wondered if my camera still worked. It did not.

Another reboot. And now it does. I'm hoping this fixes the problem.

But software updates are going to be the death of our civilization.

I worry about starting up ZEPELLIN, the Windows 7 laptop from Wendy, after so long. People are starting to run into forced upgrades to Windows 10. I've had enough troubles coming up with workarounds to restore XP and NT functionality to 7, and I know some of those won't work easily in 10. There are some hacks to prevent this, include at least one on Microsoft support, but first thing I'll do is disable automatic updates until I sort things out.

Fuck you, Microsoft.

Dr. Phil


Warm, rainy day. Humidity is up so the foam cups of ice water we live on have condensation.

There are some guardrails at the front entrance, sturdy enough to use for sit to stands outdoors during RT. Sat down on the 17½" mat table for the first time in the gym -- this is home toilet height. Had assist on the gait belt to stand up. It seems so far down, but then there's no supporting rails or handrails to get up with. We'll do more.

After lunch schedule was tight. Lay down to pee and bedpan, then back up in chair. Wheelchair ambulance brought their own chair that fits their ramp, unlike mine. Used the stable hallway railing to stand while wheelchairs swapped, including my seat cushion. Success!

Appointment with my surgeon, Dr. Fras, went exceedingly well. I am cleared for limited weightbearing and my next appointment is in FIVE weeks.

Unlike the regular ambulance crews which wait for you, the wheelchair ambulance leaves and the office calls for return trip. Came swiftly.

Excitement at top of ramp from I-196 to Fuller Avenue. To our left, the freeway overpass was blocked southbound by two Grand Rapids police SUVs. In between two officers were wrestling with some guy with a backpack. He was swinging arms and legs, kicking and punching the cops, at one point lifted off him feet by the cop behind him. Most definitely resisting arrest.

We didn't turn north towards the hospital, because there was a rapidly approaching siren. Michigan State Police car came to a stop right in front of the fight and a tall state policeman in impeccably straight and pressed blue uniform, leapt out. By now the man was struggling on the ground. The state cop knelt on the guy's shoulders and cuffed the man.

Incident over. By the time I was out of the van, an ambulance was arriving. Our driver speculated the guy might be going off in restraints for evaluation. Who knows?

But I am cleared for the first stage of prosthetics!


Dr. Phil

113 / 3

It hit the low 70s in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Holland on Tuesday. First time since 5 November 2015 -- 113 days ago.

It's warm and stuffy in here. 74°F, which isn't hot like it was in December, but I've turned on my little battery powered fan.

Needed a blood draw today. The order came in too late for the morning vampires, so my nurse came in. We joked and then she poked -- easy -- and nuthin. Well, actually bled after the needle was pulled out. She only pokes once, rather than stabby-stabby. So another nurse came by. Her first poke got some blood, the second finished the job.

Sigh. I've gotten good with blood draws the last couple of years. But I'd stick first in the crook of the elbow crease -- which was never touched.

Now... to be fair. I'm not ragging on nurses. These were veterans, but they don't have to do blood draws often. My only point was it took 3 sticks.

And your day?

Dr. Phil


We took some hand weights outside and I did my arm exercises in the fresh air. The sun really came out later, but I'm not complaining.

Did better getting up from the 19" mat table... the 17½" mat table is repaired, finally, and awaits.


Dr. Phil

Duper Tuesday Michigan Beauty Pageant

Tomorrow, Tuesday 8 March 2016, is Michigan's presidential primary. Both parties.

A few years ago, Michigan was worried that -- coming after Super Tuesday -- they'd become irrelevant and wanted to linejump the first in the nation Iowa/New Hampshire races. So did a lot of other states. Even suggesting they'd go as early as December. They didn't, but they did raise the ire of the parties, which subjected and then retracted sanctions against the state. Candidates skipped Michigan.

Well, we're March 8th this time and to everyone's surprise, Michigan still counts for both the Republicans and the Democrats. Even with the endless four-year campaign.

Welcome to 2016.

To me, who wins is less important than turnout. Some Democrats could go either way with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump may bring more Republicans to the polls. So while there are two primaries, which team will bring more voters out? And will that say anything about which way Michigan goes in November?

Dunno. But it's going to be interesting.

Michiganders -- it's going to be a lovely day. Weather will not be an excuse. Come on and vote.

If you don't, you're letting others make decisions for you. It's the primaries -- you don't have to win to make a statement.

Dr. Phil

A Sunday Kind Of Day

Second shower this morning. First time the stump was free to be showered. Different aide than before, but it all went well.

Mrs. Dr. Phil brought meat loaf she made last night, a couple of slices of Velveeta and our travel ketchup bottle. And bread. Real bread. A bit dried out, but while grains. Sturdy. Bits of nuts.

And flavor.

Ooh, and pickles! Bonus!

One of the other inmates took my ham and cheese sandwiches from the lunch tray back to his room. So we felt good that food wasn't wasted...

After the Sunday paper, we went outside. Alas, a bit of a breeze cut down our time outside, but it was in the 40s. 50s and 60s coming.

Mrs. Dr. Phil also brought a borderless 8x10 print from the new 3-in-1 printer that came on Friday. Cute picture of us outside on Christmas in our red hats. Put it on the wall where several of the aides spotted it right away. What a cute couple we make...

Today was a rest day. Monday we pick up the pace anew. Wednesday we see the surgeon. Friday we hopefully start on the prosthetic.

Mentally I've been ready to get out of here for a long time. Physically we are getting closer.

Want to be home.


Dr. Phil