Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Pre-Op Procedures

Last Friday I arrived at Sacred Heart Health System headquarters, AKA "The Hospital", for my 10:00 A.M. appointment. They were busy, but that's no surprise. And running late.

The first step began at 10:20 when I was called in to have my blood pressure taken by nurse #1. Then we went into her rather nice office and she said, "Let's see, you're going to come in next Thursday for a left hip replacement."

I was ready to leave. We then looked at all the paperwork and the computer screen. She had mis-read the malady. Yes, all the documents say I'll be having a left knee replacement. She was sorry to have made such a mistake.

She took my medical history. I have done this several times before in recent weeks. When she was finished I asked her about all the things my surgeon said would be explained at this interview. She knew nothing about any of them and asked me, "Weren't these questions all covered in your joint replacement class?" That was the first I had heard of the class.

I am to arrive at the surgery check-in office at 5:00 A.M. on Thursday.

Next I went back to the waiting room to wait. Then nurse #2 took blood (lots of it) and urine and gave me an EKG. I passed that one nicely she said. Then back to the waiting room.

Then nurse #3 explained my anaesthesiology to me and mentioned, for the very first time, that I would have some nerve blocker surgery before my knee operation. I'll be asleep for it but they will wake me up after -- just in time to put me under for the knee surgery. She gave me several sheets of paper telling me what to do and what not to do the day before.

Then I left the Pre-Op waiting area to visit another waiting room for a couple of chest x-rays. I got out of there at 12:00 noon exactly.

Apparently all the things the surgeon said would be explained to me will be explained when I go to physical therapy after the operation. I do have a booklet from the surgeon telling me, along with many other instructions, to scrub the knee area the night before with the special soap provided. But nobody gave me any special soap. Or knows anything about the special soap. I'll use Dial.

All I can say right now is, "Just do it."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Research Study of Blood Thinners

When I met the orthopedic surgeon last Tuesday he mentioned I could take part in a double-blind research study of a new drug, a blood thinner. He added that this drug is, "not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration." Not yet, at least. It will be compared with a drug that is approved by the FDA for the prevention of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) after knee replacement surgery.

He gave me a 14 page contract-like legal document -- an Informed Consent Form -- and asked me to read it and decide, by the time of my pre-op interview at the hospital, if I would take part.

I have decided not to participate. The study appears to require a lot of followup visits and some tests that sound intrusive and stressful. Lots of visits to medical offices.

Am I expected to participate? I feel awkward turning it down, but I really don't want to be part of it. Deciding on having the knee surgery itself was a huge step for me. Now this question comes up. I am sure the surgery and recovery will be quite stressful enough without adding any more stress factors.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New, on the garden wall, from Sicily

Flag of SicilyMy cousin, Lorrie, lives in Sicily. She reads this blog and noticed we like wall plaques and sun faces on our back garden wall. So she sent us something to put on it. It's a ceramic Trinacria, the ancient -- and current -- three-legged symbol of Sicily, also known as a Trisceli.

The Trisceli has the three legs with three ears of wheat and a woman's head with snakes for hair and wings sprouting out of it -- clearly it's Medusa. It's the image on the official Sicilian flag (upper left).

Closeup of the Trisceli
The plaque Lorrie sent has snakes for hair, wings coming out of the head and fruits and vegetables that Sicily is famous for -- olives, lemons, grapes, berries and herbs. It is about ten inches in diameter.

The east wall
Thanks, Lorrie. It's a wonderful plaque. I put it on the wall between the oars and the first sun face we got.

Click here for a slide show of all the backyard wall decor.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Left Knee Has Been Acting Up

I Meet the New Surgeon

Last fall I told my regular M.D. that I really wanted a referral to a different orthopedic specialist. I had trouble communicating with the one I had been seeing for the past couple of years. And frankly, I didn't want him "working" on me. In November I got an appointment to meet a new joint specialist.

Well, I didn't actually meet him but I was examined and interviewed by his Physician Assistant. He looked at the x-rays and told me that I need a knee replacement. I asked, "How soon?" And he said, "Can you be here tomorrow morning?" But seriously folks, he said it needs to be in the next two or three months. "Call us when you are ready."

In the middle of December I was ready and called to start the process. By then I was having lots of problems walking and used a cane all the time. A few days later the date for the surgery was set -- late January -- and I went in to meet the new orthopedic doctor.

I don't know why I was dreading this appointment so. Maybe I shouldn't have fired the previous specialist? What if I dislike this one as much as the former one? Does this appointment mean I am really going to have the surgery in three weeks?

An hour and fifteen minutes after my appointment time, in walks the doctor. He's friendly, soft-spoken and very reassuring. He immediately answered my first five questions before asking me what questions I had. I didn't have any other questions.

Yes, I need Total Knee Replacement (TKR) surgery for the left knee. Apparently it is the same thing as a Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA).

The exam confirmed what his assistant had found: my knee needs replacing soon. Strangely when he was twisting my leg around to see how much play was in the joint (a lot) it didn't hurt much. For the past several weeks there has been less pain in the left knee. The right heel has been much more painful, especially at night. Either I have gotten used to the left knee or the pain transmitters have ground away along with some of my bone and cartilage. Maybe a little of both.

He told me I would be in the hospital three to five days and might need a few more days, perhaps a week, in a rehab facility. Rehab is unlikely as we live in a single story house and there are no stairs to deal with. And Jack will be here to help me and drive me to physical therapy for the weeks I can't drive.

The next step for me is the pre-op interview at the hospital next week. Then I'll find out everything I'll have to do before the surgery. And after.

If you really want to know more about the procedure, here's a link to the University of Iowa's TKR information.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Alabama's New Casino Opens Nearby

Wind Creek Casino and Hotel, Atmore, Alabama
Alabama's Newest Casino

It's also Alabama's first casino resort..

The beautiful Wind Creek Casino and its four restaurants opened last week. The hotel opens next week. The main floor with the casino and restaurants is nicely designed with a feeling of open space. The photos on the web site show some beautiful hotel rooms, too.

But the Wind Creek is the only game in town. And to say it's in the middle of nowhere makes it seem more urban than it really is. The hotel tower looms above the flat cotton fields of Atmore, Alabama. It is right off Interstate 65 and you can't miss it -- the tallest building between Mobile and Montgomery.

Driving distances from both Mobile and Pensacola are about 50 to 55 miles. From Mobile it's an easy, fast Interstate Highway drive all the way. From Pensacola much of the drive is on country roads and when the sign says 35 MPH you better slow down.

The slots look like Vegas-style machines but they are really bingo machines. Through the magic of the computer they can mock the look and feel of real video slots but payoffs are determined by a casino-wide bingo game for each pull. There are no table games or video poker. And it's a good bet that there are more people in the Alabama state legislature who want the place shut down than will vote to let them have a fully functioning Las Vegas- or Biloxi-style casino.

The food is quite good. The buffet's well-stocked and cheap. Right now, Monday through Thursday, if you buy one buffet meal you get one free. At lunch time that means for $7.95 plus tax -- about $8.60 total -- two people get all-you-can-eat meals. Lunch plus a tip for the disappearing waitress means the two of you are out of there for $10 and some change. Two dollars more if you valet park.

Will the lure of real slot machines, video poker and table games tempt people to travel the extra distance to Biloxi? Compared to the drive to Atmore, Biloxi is just an extra hour of driving from Pensacola and only about 15 minutes more than Atmore from Mobile. That's not a lot of additional drive time for a lot more variety in gaming, dining, lodging and entertainment.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

What's for Dinner Tonight? Part 5

The simple menu at In-N-Out Burger [Sadly In-N-Out Burgers are found only in California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. It's worth the trip.]

Classic In-N-Out Burger signDay after day, week after week, year after...(I guess you get the idea) the same questions come up -- "What do you want for dinner tonight?" and "What haven't we had lately?" To help us answer these questions I have kept a log of our evening meals since Saturday, January 27, 2007. That night we ate BBQ baby back ribs and Nassau Grits.

When the list became too long I broke it up into six-month segments:
January through June, 2007
July through December, 2007
January through June, 2008
July through December, 2008
Thursday, January 1, 2009 -- Lunch, Fish Fry at Kim's with three kinds of fish, hush puppies, cheese grits, baked beans and black-eyed peas; supper was soup and toast
Friday, January 2 -- dinner at Logan's Roadhouse in Pensacola

Saturday, January 3 -- chicken-fried steak, country gravy, black-eyed peas with ham, mashed potatoes
Sunday, January 4 -- chicken on skewers, rice, peanut sauce, corn pones
Monday, January 5 -- BLT sandwiches, bean with bacon soup
Tuesday, January 6 -- smoked pork chops, mashed sweet potatoes, biscuits
Wednesday, January 7 -- lunch at Wayne's Family Diner; soup for supper
Thursday, January 8 -- burgers, potato salad
Friday, January 9 -- charcoal grilled beef and veggie kabobs, steamed rice

Saturday, January 10 -- leftovers
Sunday, January 11 -- Kung Pao chicken, steamed rice, green beans with bacon
Monday, January 12 -- chili con carne with corn pones
Tuesday, January 13 -- buffet lunch at the new Wind Creek Casino & Hotel in Atmore, Alabama; snacks for supper
Wednesday, January 14 -- leftover Kung Pao chicken, green beans, fried rice
Thursday, January 15 -- lobster bisque, burgers, potatoes au gratin
Friday, January 16 -- spaghetti and meatballs

Saturday, January 17 -- Joan's birthday lunch at Maria's & Bill's; soup for supper
Sunday, January 18 -- grilled NY Strip Steaks, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach
Monday, January 19 -- red beans and rice, with KFC
Tuesday, January 20 -- baby back ribs and leftovers
Wednesay, January 21 -- bacon burgers and Tater Tots
Thursday, January 22 -- taco salad
Friday, January 23 -- shrimps on a stick, chicken on a stick, spicy peanut sauce, rice

Saturday, January 24 -- take-out from #1 Chinese
Sunday, January 25 -- pot roast, Noodles Mary Westbrook, gravy, carrots
Monday, January 26 -- chicken salad, Stouffer's Corn Soufflé
Tuesday, January 27 -- pulled pork po' boys
Wednesday, January 28 -- leftover Chinese take-out
Thursday, January 29 -- Ken in the hospital and rehab, Jack fending for himself mealwise

Saturday, February 7, 2009 -- (Ken back home) Kim brought us a pot roast dinner and apple pie
Sunday, February, 8 -- Billy and Joan brought us his vegetable beef soup
Monday, February 9 -- shrimp salad from the jumbo Gulf shrimp Bill brought us
Tuesday, February 10 -- more of Billy's beef soup
Wednesday, February 11 -- Billy cooked the snapper (almondine) Bill gave us
Thursday, February 12 -- BBQ from Sonny's
Friday, February 13 -- BBQ from Sonny's

Saturday, February 14 -- burgers
Sunday, February 15 -- Subway sandwiches
Monday, February 16 -- Kung Pao chicken, green beans

(I took a break from the computer for a few weeks, but I am back again logging our evening meals.)

Saturday, March 28 -- Chicken Florentine, green salad
Sunday, March 29 -- BBQ from Sonny's
Monday, March 30 -- NY strip steak with Béarnaise sauce, rice and corn
Tuesday, March 31 -- burgers, Tater Tots
Wednesday, April 1 --lunch at Madison's Diner; snacks for supper
Thursday, April 2 -- bacon-wrapped filet steaks, crab cakes, mashed potatoes
Friday, April 3 -- tortilla soup and chicken pot pie

Saturday, April 4 -- take out BBQ from Sonny's
Sunday, April 5 -- Kung Pao chicken, steamed rice, green beans, crispy noodles
Monday, April 6 -- James Beard's Quiche Lorraine (with Nueske's Bacon), salad
Tuesday, April 7 -- Lunch at Jesse's Restaurant; dinner, left over Kung Pao Chicken and fried rice
Wednesday, April 8 -- BBQ baby back ribs, corn, fries
Thursday, April 9 -- Lunch at Miller's Pensacola Ale House; supper, Corn Pones and tomato soup
Friday, April 10 -- Bacon burgers, secret sauce

Saturday, April 11 -- Chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, collards, country gravy
Sunday, April 12 -- Easter dinner at Kim's
Monday, April 13 -- takeout from Sonny's BBQ
Tuesday, April 14 -- lunch at the Wind Creek Casino, excellent buffet; snacks for supper
Wednesday, April 15 -- Northern Fried Chicken, potato salad, cole slaw
Thursday, April 16 -- breakfast at CJ's; dinner was lobster bisque, Chinese beef and noodles, peas & carrots
Friday, April 17 -- General Tso Chicken, spicy beef with black bean sauce, steamed rice

Saturday, April 18 -- burgers & fries
Sunday, April 19 -- NY strip steak with Béarnaise sauce, baked potato, creamed spinach
Monday, April 20 -- taco salad
Tuesday, April 21 -- lunch at Miller's Pensacola Ale House; salad for supper
Wednesday, April 22 -- takeout from Sonny's BBQ
Thursday, April 23 -- fried chicken, cole slaw, mashed potato, biscuits, gravy
Friday, April 24 -- lunch at Picadilly Cafeteria; supper was crab bisque, and biscuits

Saturday, April 25 -- lunch at Felix's Fish Camp; sandwiches for supper
Sunday, April 26 -- Philly cheese steak sandwiches, Rösti potatoes
Tuesday, April 28 -- beef kababs with veggies, pico de gallo with corn chips
Wednesday, April 29 -- crab cakes with steamed rice and black beans
Thursday, April 30 -- take out BBQ from Sonny's
Friday, May 1, 2009 -- Ross' Birthday Crawfish Boil with shrimps, corn, potatoes and cheese cake with raspberry sauce

Saturday, May 2 -- BBQ baby back ribs, potatoes au gratin, green beans
Sunday, May 3 -- burgers, potato salad, cole slaw
Monday, May 4 -- Chinese beef and noodles, green beans almondine
Tuesday, May 5 -- sliced NY strip steak, retro steak sauce, mashed potatoes
Wednesday, May 6 -- take out BBQ from Sonny's
Thursday, May 7 -- Northern Fried Chicken, potato salad, cole slaw
Friday, May 8 -- Skopelos On The Bay for lunch; sandwiches for supper

Saturday, May 9 -- Kung Pao chicken, steamed rice, green beans, crispy noodles
Sunday, May 10 -- Mother's Day dinner at Kim's: steaks and apple pie
Monday, May 11 -- chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, country gravy, corn
Tuesday, May 12 -- left over Kung Pao Chicken and fried rice
Wednesday, May 13 -- burgers, corn on the cob
Thursday, May 14 -- Coronation Chicken Salad on lettuce
Friday, May 15 -- take out from Sonny's BBQ

Saturday, May 16 -- chicken tortilla soup, Chinese Pie
Sunday, May 17 -- beef kababs with veggies, steamed rice
Monday, May 18 -- BBQ ribs, butter beans, potato salad
Tuesday, May 19 -- en route to New Orleans, lunch at Morrison's Cafeteria, Mobile, Alabama; dinner at NOLA Restaurant, New Orleans (an old favorite but definitely not a good experience this time)
Wednesday, May 20 -- lunch at Middendorf's in Pass Manchac, Louisiana; dinner at Desire Oyster Bar, New Orleans
Thursday, May 21 -- lunch at The Shed BBQ, Ocean Springs, Mississippi; supper at home, corn pones and soup
Friday, May 22 -- burgers, pico de gallo, Tater Tots

Saturday, May 23 -- Chinese beef and noodles, buttered carrots
Sunday, May 24 -- take out from Sonny's BBQ
Monday, May 25 -- Swiss steak, steamed rice, corn
Tuesday, May 26 -- Lunch at Ruby Tuesday; sandwiches for supper
Wednesday, May 27 -- Kung Pao chicken, steamed rice, green beans
Thursday, May 28 -- Lunch at Whistling Squirrel Whistle Stop Cafe; sandwiches for supper
Friday, May 29 -- leftover Kung Pao chicken, fried rice

Saturday, May 30 -- Bacon-wrapped filet steaks with twice-baked potatoes
Sunday, May 31 -- From KFC: fried chicken, biscuits, cole slaw
Monday, June 1, 2009 -- burgers, salad, Tater Tots
Tuesday, June 2 -- Lunch at Wind Creek Casino Buffet in Atmore, Alabama; supper was scrambled eggs, bacon and toast at home
Wednesday, June 3 -- chicken and shrimp gumbo, steamed rice
Thursday, June 4 -- lunch at Miller's Pensacola Ale House; sandwiches for supper
Friday, June 5 -- guacamole with corn tortilla chips, fried rice, pot stickers

Saturday, June 6 -- burgers, corn on the cob, potato salad
Sunday, June 7 -- take out from Sonny's BBQ
Monday, June 8 -- Beef Stroganoff, Noodles Mary Westbrook, Apple Market's green beans with Nueske's bacon
Tuesday, June 9 -- lunch at Scenic 90 Cafe; supper from McDonalds
Wednesday, June 10 -- Northern Fried Chicken, fries, Waldorf Salad
Thursday, June 11 -- chicken fried steak, mashed potatos, country gravy, skillet corn
Friday, June 12 -- backyard BBQ with family

Saturday, June 13 -- burgers, green beans, crunchy roasted potato wedges
Sunday, June 14 -- Kung Pao chicken, steamed rice, buttered carrots, bean sprouts
Monday, June 15 -- lunch at Flounder's Chowder House, Pensacola Beach
Tuesday, June 16 -- leftover Kung Pao chicken, fried rice
Wednesday, June 17 -- Steak au Poivre, roasted potato wedges
Thursday, June 18 -- lunch at Jerry's Cajun Cafe, sandwiches for supper
Friday, June 19 -- takeout from Sonny's BBQ

Saturday, June 20 -- lunch at Wayne's Family Diner; supper was McDonalds Premium Crispy Chicken Ranch BLT Sandwiches
Sunday, June 21 -- BLT sandwiches with gazpacho
Monday, June 22 -- taco salad
Tuesday, June 23 -- burgers with pico de gallo and Rösti potatoes
Wednesday, June 24 -- grilled chicken Caesar salad with corn on the cob
Thursday, June 25 -- Chinese beef, peppers and noodles, green beans
Friday, June 26 -- Birthday dinner for Jack (today) and Ken (last week) at Bill & Maria's: pork butt (aka Boston Butt) and pork loin smoked by Kim, salads, corn on the cob, birthday cake and ice cream

Saturday, June 27 -- lunch was Southern-style veggies (black-eyed peas, yellow squash, skillet fried corn, corn pones) at Joan and Billy's; sandwiches for supper
Sunday, June 28 -- takeout from Sonny's BBQ
Monday, June 29 -- beef kababs with veggies, steamed rice
Tuesday, June 30 -- lunch at La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant; leftovers for supper

Please leave a comment with a menu suggestion. Thanks!