#YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp Part 5 of 5

Today’s blog post wraps up my recent tale of woe. We pick up the story when the nurse was checking on the status of my shower chair/portable toilet and the woman at the other end of the phone call responds, “I’m on it.”

In case you missed Part 4 yesterday, here’s a link to it: #YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp Part 4 of 5. ­­­­

Home at last

I’m finally presented with my “throne” and Marie and I leave the hospital. We stop on the way home for some lunch at a fast-food restaurant’s drive-through window since we are now getting very hungry. (My breakfast had been interrupted no less than eight times by various hospital personnel, so I don’t remember what or when I ate it.)

My sister, Marie, is a very resourceful person. Not able to find a bridge threshold ramp that will work with our particular threshold, she goes to the basement and comes back with two wooden planks, a piece of 2-inch wide crown molding, and a piece of slick-backed insulation. She’s a genius!

Her plan works great! When I need to go for a follow-up appointment with my doctor, we won’t have to call the fire department to carry me out of the house! We are proud of ourselves, but mainly I’m proud of Marie. She figured this out!

An outing to see the physician’s assistant

I make an appointment to follow up with my primary care physician. When I explain to the lab technician how I broke my leg, she says, “You’re kidding, aren’t you? How did it really happen?” After I assure her that I’ve told her the real story, she says, “You can’t make this stuff up!”

I agree. I write some fiction, but I lack the imagination to make up the story you’ve read since Monday.

What next?

The other day I texted my friend, Kay, about the latest part of my tale of woe. Kay texted back, “LOL! What’s next?”

Less than an hour later, Marie is pushing me down the hall in my rollator. Suddenly, it becomes difficult to push. I can’t believe it when Marie says, “You have a flat tire!”

Who knew a rollator could have a flat tire?

I texted Kay. She responded, “I’ve used a rollator for years, but I’ve never had a blowout!”

My rollator is old. Marie bought it at a yard sale. It’s so old, replacement tires are not made for it. I could order one on E-Bay that might work, but for an additional $50.00 I could purchase a new rollator.

Since I won’t need the rollator forever, and I have a very resourceful sister, I don’t need to buy a new one. Marie repaired the tire with duct tape! It brought back memories of our father having tires recapped back in the day before the invention of radial tires.

Where things stand today

I can get in and out of the house in my rollator with Marie’s assistance. Of course, now we’re under a “Stay at Home” order in my county due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I can’t put any weight on my right foot for another three-and-a-half weeks, and it remains to be seen what happens to the physical therapy I’ll need in the coming months. I can’t imagine any physical therapists will be seeing patients in the coming months.

I expect to be on a blood thinner for the next three months, since the pulmonary embolism was the result of an accident and not due to an underlying medical condition. My lung continues to hurt if I lie down flat, so I’m sleeping nearly sitting up. I still run a fever most evenings. I’m trying to learn patience.

The phone still rings and it frustrates me when the caller ID box says, “SPAM” or “Fraudulent Caller” and I wonder why the phone company isn’t filtering such calls.

One caller left a voicemail. She claimed her name was “Sunshine” and that she knew I was an author. She said she represents “a hybrid company that also invests in French National Book Rights.” She asked that I call her at 302-770-____, Ext. 87, but I didn’t. I’m only an author because I wrote a vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and I doubt that anyone wants to translate it into French.

By the way, the burial insurance agent called again yesterday. That recorded caller doesn’t give up easily.

Until my next blog post

Take care of yourself. Stay home, if you possibly can. Listen to the medical experts and other scientists.

Write a note of caring and thanks to someone you know – maybe to the pharmacist, the nurse at your doctor’s office, or the cashier at the grocery store.

Be resourseful! Be like Marie!

Today concludes my tale of woe since fracturing my leg on January 27.. At least, I hope the “woe” part of the tale is over. On Monday I plan to resume my usual weekly blog post.

Janet

A thank-you note
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

#YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp Part 4 of 5

Part 4 of this week’s blog series, #YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp, picks up after the construction of our handicap ramp. What happens next has nothing to do with the ramp; that’s just where I ended Part 3 yesterday.

In case you missed Part 3, here’s a link to it: ­­­­#YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp Part 3 of 5.

I start noticing a slight pain under my left shoulder blade. I figure it comes from using muscles I haven’t been using until I started having to hop on my left foot and get around with a walker. I quickly develop a new appreciation and awe for people who are permanently physically handicapped.

A few days later

I wake up on February 26 with stabbing pains throughout my left rib cage and in my back – under that shoulder blade. I can’t get comfortable. It hurts to breathe. It really hurts to take a deep breath. Marie and I decide this time I need an ambulance.

There’s a whole other story regarding the ambulance, but I’ll spare you the details. It’s my first ride in an ambulance as a patient.

Keep in mind that it’s the middle of flu season and there’s talk that COVID-19 is coming to America. The waiting room at the emergency room is overflowing with sick people. Some of them are very sick. I try to remain calm, not touch anything, and not take a deep breath.

Diagnosis:  Pulmonary Embolism

It’s finally my turn to be seen. I’m sent for a lung x-ray. I’m told I might have pneumonia in my left lung, but a CT scan is needed for a diagnosis.

The diagnosis is pretty quickly made. I have a blood clot in my left lung! A blood thinner is injected into my stomach and I’m monitored. The hospital is full. The hospitalist says I might have to spend the night in the ER.

Much to my surprise, a room becomes available and I’m admitted for observation.

Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash

The next day I start taking a blood thinner in pill form, and will continue to for three or four months.

No, I can’t do that

Physical and occupational therapists come to my room to assess my mobility capabilities. I cannot be discharged before they see me. Hospital rules. We have a ramp at our house now. The only remaining barrier is the threshold in the doorway from the porch into the house. I never should have mentioned it.

One of the therapists demonstrates how I should be able to hop up steps and hop backwards over our door’s threshold. Since the industrial strength leg brace weighs a ton (that’s the only exaggeration in my story) and I’m not a healthy 67-year-old – I have my doubts that I can hop up steps or over the threshold forwards – much less backwards. I can barely get my left foot an inch off the floor when I hop.

When I put all my weight on the handles of my walker in order to hop, it feels like electricity is running through my hands. I’m not having fun with my walker if on a flat surface while going forward. I decline the therapist’s offer to take me to “the gym” where I can learn how to hop up stairs on one foot. (Call me a chicken if you so desire.)

Her next suggestion was that I could sit down on the floor and scoot myself backwards up steps or over the threshold. When I inquired of her how I might get up from the floor, she said I should just scoot over to a chair and pull myself up. She sat on the floor of my hospital room (not to worry… it had been mopped that morning — GAG!) scooted over to a chair and pulled herself up to a standing position.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Before I could protest, the other therapist in the room pointed out that with a broken leg it was going to be impossible for me to pull myself up using a chair. Neither of them had explained how I was supposed to sit on the floor in the first place. The only way I can see myself sitting on the floor is if I fall backwards while using my walker. That seems a little drastic to me, just so I can scoot over an exterior door threshold.

Not to be defeated, the first therapist said I needed to go home with a shower chair that doubles as a bedside toilet. Not wanting to come across as totally uncooperative, I decided to accept. The chair is ordered. My lunch is cancelled because I’m being released at 10:30 a.m. Trust me, it’s already been a long day.

Marie stops shopping for a threshold bridge ramp and comes to pick me up at 10:30 even though we know this probably isn’t happening. Lunchtime comes and goes. 10:30 release turns into 2:00 p.m. release because the shower chair has to be delivered to the hospital and I, of course, can’t go home without it.

An hour or so before the shower chair is brought to my room, the nurse whips out her cell phone, calls someone else in the building and asks, “What’s the status of Ms. Morrison’s shower chair/portable toilet?” The response on the other end of the line was, “I’m on it.”

Let that settle in for a minute. Marie, the nurse, and I all simultaneously realize how ironic, “I’m on it” sounds and we all have a good laugh.

To be continued . . .

Since my last blog post

Sadly, the first two deaths attributed to coronavirus-19 in North Carolina, have been reported in Cabarrus County.

You’ll be glad to know that we’ve had no calamities at our house in the last 24 hours.

I’ve been listening to The Litigators, by John Grisham and almost finished listening to Long Road to Mercy, by David Baldacci.       

I’ve worked on a historical short story. If I’m ever to have a collection of short stories to publish, I need to start spending more time writing and less time thinking about writing.

Until my next blog post

Take care of yourself and those important people in your life. Seek out someone who might be alone and scared. Contact them in a safe way. Listen to their concerns and try to reassure them. We’re all in this together.

Tune in tomorrow for #YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp Part 5 of 5.

Janet

#YouCan'tMakeThisStuffUp Part 3 of 5

In case you missed #YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp Part 2, here’s a link to it: https://janetswritingblog.com/2020/03/24/youcantmakethisstuffup-part-2-of-5/.

Something I forgot to include in Part 2 was when the triage nurse asked me, “Do you feel safe in your home?” (this being right after my sister has crashed into me in our kitchen and fractured my tibial plateau) and I responded, “I did until a few minutes ago!”

I know that was a very serious question, and I’m glad ER triage nurses are required to ask it, but I just couldn’t resist having a little fun with it.

Today we pick up my tale of woe just as our friend, Carol, arrives after 1:30 a.m. with a key to our house.

We thought we’d hear from you again tonight

Once she’s in the house, Marie calls the fire department and requests lift assistance. The same crew is still on duty. One of the firemen says, “We thought we’d hear from you again tonight.”

The firemen marvel that I have a fractured leg. They carry me up the porch steps and into the house in the handy-dandy rollator.

Marie and I eat I don’t remember what, but it tasted good, and we went to bed. I’m armed with a bell to ring if I need her during the night – and my cell phone so I can call her if she doesn’t hear the bell in her bedroom.

Do you need burial insurance?

The next morning we start getting daily robocalls offering us burial insurance. I don’t know if the hospital gave them my phone number or if someone told them the next day was my birthday. Either way, I wasn’t in the mood for that. In fact, the calls continue. I’m still not in the mood.

Happy Birthday to me!

Happy Birthday!
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The next day was my birthday. Marie and I usually take each other out for dinner on our birthdays. Like many such celebrations in 2020, that celebratory meal will have to be postponed for a few months or longer.

We need a handicap ramp

When I had my follow-up appointment with an orthopedic doctor, I learned that my fracture “isn’t quite bad enough to require surgery due to your age.” He could have talked all day without referring to my age! I’m fitted with an industrial strength thigh-to-ankle leg brace that has big dials on either side of my knee and four Velcro straps that have a tendency to stick to everything except where I need them. I’m told not to put any weight on my leg for a total of 12 weeks from the date of the accident.

In light of what we learned at the orthopedist’s office, we go home and start looking for someone to build a handicap ramp at our porch. A neighbor up the road has a landscaping business. He makes time in his busy schedule to construct and install a permanent treated-wood handicap ramp for us, finishing the job literally in the red mud while sleet was falling. (I don’t know if Billy wants to go into the ramp-building business or not but, if you live in the Charlotte area and need some landscaping done or a retaining wall built – or possibly, a handicap ramp – I can vouch for Reedy Creek Lawn and Landscape in Harrisburg, NC.)

To be continue . . .

Since my last blog post (24 hours ago)

I was scheduled for knee x-rays yesterday. I wasn’t too keen on going into a doctor’s office during this coronavirus-19 pandemic, but the nurse assured me all necessary precautions were being taken.

My sister and I continued our “Lucy and Ethel” ways. While I brushed my teeth, I thought about my leg brace. I didn’t think about it again until I was sitting in the passenger seat of my 1991 pick-up truck (because it’s easier to get in and out of than Marie’s car.) She had to go back in the house to retrieve my brace. Do you know how difficult it is to put on a full-leg brace while sitting sideways in a pick-up truck? If not, I can tell you on a need-to-know basis.

When we arrived at the orthopedic doctor’s office, I called the nurse from the truck. I hopped to the door with my walker and the nurse met me there. She grabbed a wheelchair and whisked me through the deserted waiting room and straight to x-ray.

Do you know how difficult it is to stand on one foot and hold your own lead x-ray apron long enough to have two x-rays made? I can tell you, if you really want to know.

The x-rays showed that my tibial plateau fracture is healing just fine. Calcium is starting to fill in the fracture, which is a good thing. Everything looked great! Just four more weeks of not putting any weight on my right leg. I can do this! I don’t have to leave the house again until my next doctor’s appointment in April.

The day’s fun wasn’t over yet, though. At 5:00 p.m. I went on my tablet to see and hear my pastor’s devotional on Facebook Live. Facebook Live is a new thing for me. A very new thing for me.

I learned something today at 5:00 p.m. If you go to the church’s Facebook Live broadcast and hit a red button (it either said, “Video” or “Live” or something else)… anyway… I hit the red button and instead of tuning into Neal’s devotional, I recorded an 11-second video that broadcast live on my Facebook page. Fortunately, most of the 11 seconds only showed the inside cover of my tablet. That flash at the end was my lap covered by a blanket. The moral of the story is:  Never hit the red button. (My apologies to Staples and their Easy Button.)

Until my next blog post

Take care of yourself and those you care about. Check on your neighbors and people who live alone. Support local small businesses like Reedy Creek Lawn and Landscape as you can.

Tune in tomorrow for #YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp Part 4 of 5.

Janet

#YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp Part 1 of 5

In these uncertain days of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it was difficult for me to settle on a topic for today’s blog post. If you’re like me, you’re having trouble concentrating on your task at hand. 

I’m working on several future blog posts about the craft of writing and a number of fiction and nonfiction books I’ve read this month, and I will save those for the upcoming weeks.

My blog post today (and Parts 2-5 which will follow tomorrow through Friday of this week) will test your ability to trust me. It is a true story. Since the end of January, I’ve mentioned in passing that I have a fractured tibial plateau. It was the result of a freak accident.

Since the end of February, I’ve mentioned a time or two that I also have a pulmonary embolism. A fractured leg and the pulmonary embolism which followed it are not on face value anything to laugh about; however, I choose to look for the humor in everyday situations.

We can all use a chuckle during these difficult times, so please accept my series this week in the spirit in which it is intended.


Setting the stage

My sister, Marie, and I had been out and about on January 27. We were on a tight schedule to eat supper and get to book club.

food prep image
Photo by Piotr Miazga on Unsplash

Why isn’t Janet helping me up?

I’m heating soup on the stove. Marie is taking a dish out of the microwave oven. Her knee buckles. She manages to put the hot dish on the kitchen island before sprawling across the floor. What she didn’t know was that as she sailed across the kitchen she slams into the side of my right knee.

Marie is lying on the floor with her back to me because she has the presence of mind to turn herself in a way that she wouldn’t land on her left knee replacement. She can’t see me, but I’m clinging to the kitchen counter in great pain. I’m saying “Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no!” because I realize I cannot put any weight on my right foot. Marie is still on the floor with her back to me thinking I’m saying, “Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no!…” because I’m worried about her. (I was worried about her, but more worried about myself at that moment.) She’s wondering why I’m not helping her up!

Marie rolls over and sees that I’m hurt. I tell her I can’t put any weight on my right leg. I continue to cling to the kitchen counter as Marie struggles to get up. She brings me a chair and we pretty quickly agree that I need to go to the emergency room at the hospital three miles from our home. I try to walk to the door on crutches, but I soon feel faint and more or less collapse into a chair.

We decide we need some professional help, so Marie dials 9-1-1.

To be continued. . .


Until my next blog post

I hope you have escaped and continue to escape being infected with COVID-19. I hope you are physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially secure as we all journey through the most uncertain public health time of most of our lifetimes.

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m fortunate to be able to take advantage of some electronic audible books through the public library which closed its doors to the public on March 16 “until further notice.” I’m listening to The Ligitators, by John Grisham and Long Road to Mercy, by David Baldacci — but not at the same time. I just like to have more than one book going all the time.

We’re all learning as we go, and I’m glad I’m retired and not in a major decision-making position. Marie and I make a good team. I’m in the enviable position of living with my sister. She just happens to also be my best friend. She’s taking great care of me. Together, we’ll get through this crisis.

I hope you also have someone to depend on through thick and thin.

If you’re a writer or other artist, I hope you’re able to create during this time. I’m finding it difficult to concentrate most days. If you’re in that same boat, don’t beat yourself up over it. This is not the time to be demanding of yourself or others.

My thanks go out to those in the healthcare profession. Perhaps by the time we come to the end of this pandemic we’ll realize as a society that doctors and nurses are more valuable than – and should be paid more than athletes.

Take care of yourself. Stay safe, and try to stay well. Let the people in your life know how important they are to you. Keep in touch socially via phone, text, Skype, email, and however you safely can to minimize the isolation we all feel during this pandemic.

Tune in tomorrow for #YouCan’tMakeThisStuffUp” Part 2.

And, if you are a fan of humor from everyday life, I recommend the offerings by my fellow-North Carolinian Jeanne Swanner Robertson. Her website is https://jeannerobertson.com/.

Janet

#OnThisDay: Freedom of Information Day

Occasionally, I blog about an event associated with that particular day. Did you know that March 16 is Freedom of Information Day in the United States? Neither did I; however, I believe it should be a national holiday.

In light of the current political climate in America, I want to shout from the rooftops about freedom of information today!

Why March 16th?

James Madison was mentioned repeatedly during the recent presidential impeachment hearings held by the U.S. Senate. James Madison is revered as the “Father of the U.S. Constitution.” He advocated for openness in government. He insisted the government must have no secrets from the people. How radical was that? He drafted the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Bill of Rights.

U.S. Freedom of Information Day
Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

James Madison was born on March 16, 1751. Hence, March 16 was chosen in 1966 to be celebrated as Freedom of Information Day. It’s unfortunate that the day itself gets no attention. We seldom hear anything about the Freedom of Information Act except when its implementation is being questioned by a news agency.

History of the Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act was enacted on July 4, 1966 and went into effect a year later. This law declares that every person has the right to access all federal agency (Executive Branch) records not protected from disclosure by on of nine exemptions or exclusions. Those exemptions include things like national security, personnel records, trade secrets, and geological and geophysical information (including maps) related to wells. Although President Lyndon B. Johnson had misgivings about the Act, he signed it into law.

It is interesting to note that the original act was replaced just one month before it’s 1967 effective date. Also, it was amended in 1974. Those amendments strengthened an individual’s right to see federal records about himself and provided a path by which the individual can get their personal records corrected. Furthermore, the 1974 amendments give an individual the right to sue the government for violating the Freedom of Information Act.

Subsequent amendments

Amendments to the Government in the Sunshine Act in 1976 spelled out Freedom of Information Act exemptions in greater detail. President Ronald Reagan issued an Executive Order in 1982 that permitted broader interpretation of the exemption regarding national security.

Between 1995 and 1999, President Bill Clinton issued executive directives that allowed the release of classified national security records that are more than 25 years old.

The Electronic Freedom of Information Act amendments in 1996 made adjustments to the way in which electronic records are kept by the federal government.

The Freedom of Information Act has continued to be a political football in the 21st century. By an Executive Order issued by President George W. Bush, the records of former U.S. presidents were protected in 2002. The 2202 Order was revoked by President Barack Obama on the day after his inauguration in 2009.

The future of the Freedom of Information Act

And so it goes. The Freedom of Information Act continues to be amended through new Acts and Executive Orders. It will, no doubt, remain a fluid law that will be amended and re-interpreted for the remainder of the years the United States of America exists as a country. Its scope will continue to be challenged in U.S. Supreme Court cases and by lawmakers and presidents.

Since my last blog post

Since my blog last Monday, the corona virus COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic. Sadly, the United States has fallen far behind in preparing for and testing for the virus. This is due to the negligence of the Trump Administration, but now is not the time for finger pointing. Now is the time to start playing catch-up and learn from the current president’s mistakes.

My thoughts are with people around the world who have been infected by COVID-19 and their caregivers.

My fractured tibial plateau continues to heal, and I continue treatment for a pulmonary embolism.

Until my next blog post

Above all, try to stay well. Take reasonable precautions to guard yourself and those around you from the flu and COVID-19.

I hope you have a good book to read. I’ve suspended the requests for a dozen or more books from the public library to try to keep germs from other library patrons out of my house. This is when e-books can really be a blessing — and perhaps a lifesaver, so take advantage of those free e-books from your local public library system.

If you’re a writer or other artist, I hope you have productive creative time. My mind is a little scattered just now due to health concerns, but when I can concentrate I’m trying to work on future blog posts and historical short stories.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog.

Let’s continue the conversation

Did you know there was a Freedom of Information Act in the United States? Have you had any personal experience with the Freedom of Information Act?

What about in your country? Does it have such an act to protect an individual’s information held by the government?

Janet