Oregon Trail

Location: Oregon, United States

Friday, June 27, 2008


I have recently realized the importance and value of knees. They hold you up, and they keep you stable. If one of yours is not working properly, you suddenly feel like you are in your own personal earthquake and cannot catch your balance. You realize how many steps it takes to get everywhere. For instance, I need to take three steps just to get a spoon in order to measure out my coffee in the morning. (I have put a cupful of spoons next to the coffee now). You need to recalculate how long it will take to cross the street, because you cannot run anymore. Without a properly working knee, you cannot do a lot of things you used to take for granted. Skiing, horseback riding, hiking, Taekwondo. Not to mention just standing.

I blew out my knee at Taekwondo the other day. I was paired with a tall 14 year old and we were practicing take-downs, which are extremely fun. But working with him is like trying to take down a rubber band or a Weeble - he just won't go down. So I said, "Fine, if you're going to give me a hard time, I will make it harder for you to get me down." And I planted my foot. Note to self: planting your foot in Taekwondo is not advised. So, he went to do what we call a "sweep" and he couldn't get me down. (Ha! It worked!) So he made another sweep, this time even harder. Note to self: sweeping harder is not advised. The proper move is to get the person off balance, then sweep again. When he did the second sweep, he nailed me good but I was ready for him with my firmly planted foot, which stayed in place while my knee went "Pop!Pop!Pop!" and went out from underneath me.

After the initial shock there was no pain but my leg would not support me. So a chair was brought onto the mat and I sat there for the remainder of the class then wobbled off the mat and back home. (I am not a weeble, I wobbled AND fell down). Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" was on the radio. "The sun is the same but in a relative way but your older, shorter of breath and one day closer to death." Yeah, thanks for the reminder, as if I hadn't noticed. My leg felt like spaghetti. I looked up knee injuries on the internet and decided I'd better raise it, ice it, and see the doctor in the morning. We had a few good laughs because I looked like Tim Conway doing his old man routine on the Carol Burnett show. Hysterical.

The doctor was pointless but set me up with an MRI and offered to get me out of having to go to work until he found out I just sit around all day. When I told him it had happened while I was doing Taekwondo, he said, "So you do this for fun?" Perfectly serious. And I'm like, "Well, yes, that is the idea..." I got a call this morning with the results from the MRI - he said it was a partial tear or a bad sprain but they wanted me to see the orthopedic doctor this afternoon.

The orthopedic doctor, who looks like he's on steroids, wears custom tailored shirts because his shoulders are three feet across, and goes to the tanning booth regularly, informed me that I do have a partial tear on my medial cruciate ligament (MCL), which will heal on it's own with time. Then he said I also have a complete tear of my anterior cruciate ligament, which can only be repaired with surgery. Surgery is optional in a way, if you never want to do anything where you plant your foot and push off from it again. Like skiing. Or climbing. Or Taekwondo. Or riding a motorcycle or a horse. In other words, I can take it easy for the rest of my life or I can opt to get this fixed. I'm opting for surgery.

So then the doctor asks me if I'm ready to hear about what surgery entails. This can't be good if he frames it like that. But I had been looking on the internet and knew that one option is to use "harvested" tendon from a cadaver. The other option is to harvest tendon from your own knee and use that. Both have risks, and it's pretty much a toss up re: which is better for me. I'll be thinking about that one. Then, and here's the kicker for me, you are on strict bed rest for 7 - 8 days. I hadn't read about that yet. You may only get out of bed to eat and go to the bathroom. You will be hooked up to a machine that will move your leg constantly in order to promote healing (but, I'm guessing, it probably doesn't promote sleep or sanity. I hate the machine already). You will be in rehab mode for 3 - 4 months. Etc. Etc. Etc.

But after all of that, you are supposed to be able to do the stuff you took for granted two days ago. And maybe you will forget how many steps it takes to get from point A to point B. And you won't worry about which foot you should use to go up that step, or how on God's green earth you are supposed to get your foot in the pant leg while balancing on what amounts to a piece of spaghetti. And you will never plant your foot again when you are doing take-downs in Taekwondo, and you will be thankful and grateful for having your knee back. At least that's how I'm thinking the story will go.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Garden Picture

As per request, here is a picture of the garden. More later or when the light is better...

Friday, June 20, 2008

The garden

This is year three for the garden, so it finally feels like it is coming together. This morning I ate breakfast on the deck before the kids got up. It was amazingly peaceful... A dragonfly is resting on the tip of the lilac bush. The rain has stopped now, so seeing a dragonfly reminds me of the desert in New Mexico where I learned that they are a symbol for water and therefore life. I smile. My garden is a place of life. I look over at the hummingbird feeder and wonder if the hummingbirds have found it yet. Below it, I notice a spider web hung in the middle of the path, perfect and glittering in the sun. Must have made it last night - I just walked by there yesterday. Good place, too, because the hummingbird feeder drips and there will be bugs attracted to the nectar. I guess the garden is a place of life and death, then. Hmm. I hear squirrels chittering in a neighbor's tree - there must be a nest there, because they are going crazy. When they quiet down, I hear songbirds. I still don't recognize their song, but they are familiar nonetheless. I notice there is enough sun in one spot to put another zinnia. Yea! I love zinnias. I see another spot where I can move a coralbell. That will be better than where it is now. A hummingbird arrives, flits around, and finds the feeder. Cool! They have found it. A few minutes later, another one arrives, zipping over my shoulder and visiting the bouganvillea (another favorite of mine), the dianthus, and the pansies (all red or deep pink). I think I should plant some more pink. And maybe some sunflowers for the jays and some coreopsis for the finches. Time to go, but I am utterly at peace and ready to see what the day has in store.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More stuff

Today is the last day of school. Of course, the kids are like, "Psych! Freedom!" and I'm more like, "OMG, what am I going to do?" I never feel good about summer with the kids at home. It is a battle every day to do something other than veg in front of a screen. Good thing there is a pool nearby, it is my only hope. But even then, that only lasts for so long. Sigh. Time to put on my armor, grab a crowbar and begin prying people off the couch.

Okay, enough of that. Now for an update about Martial Arts Class. It is FUN! The classes we were taking in MN were all about form and memorizing different steps. This class has that as well, but we get to spar with people our own size and belt level as well. We are learning to do "take-downs", which is essentially throwing someone on the floor. This is my favorite thing to do, especially when I'm the one being taken down. I can't help but laugh because it is so fun. Probably not a good learned response if I were in a "real" situation where someone wanted to hurt me, but I'm sure I will figure it out. In the meantime, I'm learning to breathe out, keep my chin down, and my guard up. Fun!

Pokemon. Did I mention that I have been sucked into the vortex? There was a pre-release party, where you could go, pay a fee, get twice as much merchandise (cards) than you could normally get for that amount of money, make a deck out of the cards you got, then play the game all day with various other players. It was genuinely fun. Many of the same people were there that had been in Salem for the regional tournament, although they left their costumes at home. Two sure-fire signs that I have achieved Pokemon geekdom: 1.) I received a "booster pack" at the end of one round, which is essentially 8 - 10 cards in a foil package. As I looked through the cards I had gotten, I found one that is relatively rare AND worked well with the deck I was constructing. My jaw dropped and I audibly gasped, then realized what I had done, looked around, and realized I was among friendlies that would understand my glee. Still, what a dork. 2.) After playing my deck all day at the tournament, I could see the gaps that needed to be filled in order to make my deck stronger. We came home, and William and Stephen and I looked at all the cards they had collected over the years in order to find some to make our new decks stronger. They had a few cards that would help me, but what I really needed were some "supporter" cards (don't ask, just go with the flow here). The only way you can get those cards is to either buy them online via ebay, or buy more booster packs or Level X decks. Suddenly I realized why the kids are always saying, "I NEED this new deck" or "I NEED to get this pack of cards". Because if you don't get them, your deck sucks and you always lose no matter how well you play. And that is only fun for about an hour. And I'm looking at my birthday money and thinking, "Is this really how I want to spend my birthday money? Really? What about the garden?" And I bought a tin with a Level X in it (a bargain, because now I have something other than a sandwich baggie to carry my cards in). Cool.

A note about Sasha, our dog. Last year, she shed all summer long and was quite ill. We did all sorts of interventions trying to figure out what was wrong and finally decided it was allergies. Long story short is that we've had her on a limited diet of Duck and Potato for over a year now, and she is FINE. Whew! This dog has been an interesting creature in our household. The first thing she did when we got her (two days after Sundae died - I was NOT ready for a new dog. I loved Sundae) was to go around the house and find every tennis ball that we owned. Sundae could have cared less about a tennis ball. Sasha LIVES for tennis balls. At first it was cute, but by about day three all we wanted to do was find the "off" button on her. Oy! We did find the off button eventually, all you need to do is hand her the ball and say, "Go lay down" and she will. The other thing is, that she picked Paul to be her favorite person and he has responded in kind. He lets her on the bed, in the middle, stretched out to full length. This was never tolerated with the other dogs. He baby talks her, and pets her and grooms her. She seeks him out when he is home, following him to the bathroom while he gets ready for work, bouncing a ball on the floor in hopes that he will blow off work and play with her instead. She ignores everyone else when Paul is home unless they are cooking in the kitchen or opening a door to the outside (maybe they are going to play ball without me!). At night, when we kiss the kids goodnight, she makes the rounds with us, jumping on the bed and snuggling with each child. She even knows the order, often going to Thomas' room before we even know he is ready. In the morning, when my alarm goes off, she flops her head up next to me so I can pet her and come awake slowly. This is my favorite part of the day and the best way ever to wake up. She is turning out to be a great dog after all.