Friday, February 23, 2024

hoping I'm better

 Well, I FELT better earlier today. Picked up and put away the lab from Thursday, went home, did laundry, ran some errands (I had to drop something to the UK in the mail at the post office, I needed to get a couple watch batteries replaced....the watch guy was out so I left them and said if I was back in town tomorrow by the time they closed (3 pm) I'd pick them up, if not that, then Monday). I also realized the "feet" on my cane were worn down

You can see the metal exposed on that top right one.

Fortunately I found that out when I was walking into the post office and heard it grate on the sidewalk, so I ran over to the medical-supply shop and got a new set of feet.

I hopefully told the young woman there "well, I shouldn't need it for much longer, it seems"

Oh, and a bit of humor: in French, this is a "canne tetrapode" which makes me laugh because my main association with "tetrapod" is as a general term for the terrestrial animals (many reptiles and mammals and amphibians) that have four feet

Anyway. I also graded, and I did that with my legs crossed for part of the time. That was a mistake; now I am hurting again (I also may have done too much walking on hard surfaces - concrete floors are bad, sidewalks are bad) and I am hurting again. It's weird "crawly" pains in the muscles UNAFFECTED by the actual injury, so I presume that's from walking wrong for six weeks. The area of the bone bruise hurts a little too, and I'm hoping it's just part of the healing process and maybe being tired. 

And yes, I took the evening dose of tylenol and iced the leg and I'm hoping it settles down so I can sleep well. I slept pretty well last night and felt good when I woke up....

And of course I commented about it on Bluesky and some rando who had never interacted with me before slid in to tell me not to take tylenol because "it's really bad for your liver and kidneys" and that person is now blocked by me because you know? I am NOT a stupid woman (as they may have assumed); I am a biologist. I am taking less than half the allowed quantity in a day and I try to skip taking it if I can. I can't take NSAIDs and I don't want narcotic pain relief. There's not much I could do OTHER than suffer, in that case, and you know? Suffering wears a person down! Even with what pain relief I've used I'm worn down, I get sad more easily and angry more easily and I'm worn out.

I still want to go to the yarn shop but if I'm still hurting tomorrow I won't be able to. No there's no one I could ask to drive me, that's an awfully big ask on awfully short notice. 

I'm tired of not being able to do anything other than drag myself to work and back. This is like the stupid pandemic all over again, except now it's my stupid body keeping me stuck at home instead of a circulating virus. And yes, I've had 2020 flashbacks and bad dreams. 


I am REALLY hoping I feel better in the morning, even if that "better" only lasts long enough to get me safely to the yarn shop and back. 


One good thing, I got another gift - this time from a friend.

Flatpack void:

 And slowly-expanding void:

I might name the cat Hubble, seeing as Hubble was apparently the one who proposed the model of a slowly expanding universe (the "raisin bread" model).

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Thursday evening things

 * I guess I'm SLOWLY getting better. I can stand longer and walk longer, but I still have pain after a while. Usually sitting, especially if I can elevate my leg and put ice on it, helps. 

I'm hoping I can be largely stationary tomorrow (one class in which I give an exam) to rest up because I still do want to go to AT LEAST Quixotic Fibers on Saturday (and if I have the energy/lack of pain, maybe either Ulta or Michael's, and as a stretch goal, the Green Market). 

* I did a grocery pickup from Pruett's today. I ordered it yesterday when I was *really* hurting (had been on my feet a lot) and I'm glad I did even if it's $5 (to cover the cost of the extra employee time, which seems fair). I needed more butter and lemons, in addition to milk and some canned goods and a few other things. There's a potluck Sunday and it's supposed to be "Italian" theme, and I don't quite feel like making pasta (and I presume lots of folks will bring that), and I found an "Italian Lemon Cake" (just a simple, one layer round cake, no frosting - allegedly Italians don't care for it, so the site author claimed) and it sounded good and not too difficult, so I think I'll make that. 

* First birthday gift arrived; a box from Republic of Tea came. At first I wondered who it was from - my mother had sent me a box of small wrapped gifts and a check, and I thought, "Oh I wonder if my brother actually got me a gift on time this year?" but no, it was an extra gift from her

It's a sampler. There are some in there that look really good (some blueberry ones and a couple of hibiscus) and one or two I'll have to "rehome" (ones with chamomile, which I'm mildly allergic to). There are also green teas and black teas in with the herbals. 

* One of our good students (he is a McNair scholar) has been helping me a bit with lab set-ups, and he saw me today and asked, if I didn't mind, what the final diagnosis was, and I said the main issue right now was a bone bruise, and he said "ohhhhhh those suuuuuuuuuuck" so I presume he has experience with them. And yeah, they do suck. It'll probably be at least another month before I'm back to normal. 

I'm seriously considering for when I restart exercise, maybe trying to get a membership at one of the local gyms (the place I used to do PT does them, and it's a friendly enough place - more retired folks or people rehabbing after surgery than hardbodies or women who might look askance at a fatter woman there)  and start out just walking on a treadmill instead of trying to go back to the cross country skiier right away. I also might be able to pay for a little time with the PT guy there to be sure I'm going back to exercise safely. (And when the weather's good, I can always walk the sidewalks up at campus, though too many hard surfaces get uncomfortable after a while). The PT place also has rowing machines and a few other machines where I could get a more balanced workout. 

* This evening though I just relaxed and worked a bit more on the new socks. I did 20 rounds of ribbing, and at this point I'm 16 rounds into the four-round pattern:

* And here's hoping I sleep better tonight; I had some pain last night, probably from being on my feet too much and pushing myself to walk more. 

I guess I didn't ruin the Moon book ("Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us Who We Are" by Rebecca Boyle) by reading it at doctor's appointments (including the one where the guy suggested the idea of mensicus surgery - which I might still get but I want to see how I feel by June, I want the bone bruise to heal first, some folks have told me that once they healed from other injuries they didn't need the surgery). Sometimes that happens, though - I come to relate something I did during an unpleasant time with that time, and then I can't enjoy it any more. 

But I AM glad to be done with doctor visits for a while; I have two afternoons during the week when I DON'T have lab, and I like those to work on things and also eat a proper lunch at home. I haven't been able to do that for the past couple weeks. 

* I also haven't drunk tea in quite a while; I don't like to drink it after 4 pm (I am caffeine sensitive enough it might bother me) and when I had to go to the doctor OR ESPECIALLY THE MRI I didn't want a large cup of a caffeinated beverage on board - because if you have to urinate while you're in the MRI, I guess you either try to hold it or you make them stop, and get you out, and then you have to start all over.

I'll get to have a cup tomorrow; Fridays I can eat lunch at home.

* Also I realized today how incredibly fortunate I probably was: yes, bone bruises suck as do meniscus tears BUT I also read (while trying to research if there were more home remedy type things I could do to speed healing of the bruise) that in rare cases, a hyperextension/twisting accident like I had can lead to a spiral fracture instead of a bone bruise. And you really don't want to websearch what a spiral fracture is. I did, and felt slightly sick to my stomach after reading it, and it seems not unlikely if I had had one, I'd have lost a year and a half of my life to surgery, and incapacitation, and then rehabbing. I don't know how I'd manage that; being in a cast for six months (not being able to drive, not being able to do anything). So I guess my guardian angel was watching out for me even if the bone bruise is really unpleasant.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

It's mixed news...(content warning: allusions to gross medical stuff)

 The good news: the orthopedist seems really unconcerned about the bone bruise. "Oh yeah," he said "those are very common. Just keep icing as you need to, and you can do whatever activities your pain will tolerate"

The bad news: the damage to the meniscus is such that he thinks I would be better served by having a little chunk shaved off it BUT I can wait until summer (I kind of freaked out, and then I said I really wanted the bone bruise to be more healed - I don't like the idea of there being blood pooled in the bones and stressing them and have a doctor digging around them). He was totally fine with that, and in fact, thought waiting for more bone-bruise healing was probably good.

So I have their direct number, and when (if) I'm ready, I can set it up.

I do want to wait for the bone bruise to heal more, but also: If I do it I want to do it in the summer when I can just take a couple days totally off.

He assured me that (a) they use minimal anesthetic, it's like what they do for a wisdom-tooth extraction (I had that, the so-called twilight sleep, and I didn't die, though I was 30 years younger and didn't have hypertension then) and (b) you can put weight on it just a couple days later, not having the 4-6 weeks on crutches I was thinking. But I will have to ask how long before I could drive (it's my right leg, so). If I can't drive for an extended time, I will have to line up rides. Church would be no problem, and if it's in the summer, I could maybe just NOT do work, or do research-reading at home. But getting out for checks of the incision and stitch removal would be a thing, and groceries would be a thing (we don't have delivery here in town). I could probably get someone to pick up for me if I did "order online and pick up at the curb," especially if I paid them for their time investment and gas. (And I could lay in a big supply of nonperishables before the surgery)

But still....I'm hoping that when the bone bruise heals I have minimal pain and dysfunction from the meniscus, and I can just skip the surgery. But I won't know until a while later.

So, I'm not deeply depressed about it but not as happy as I might have been. I figure I can take it easy Friday (I just give an exam, and so can mostly sit) and hopefully will feel fine Saturday for the yarn shop. 

My mom sent me a $100 birthday check, and I know what I want to use that for....

Monday, February 19, 2024

spoke too soon....

 Got the MRI report conveyed to me by my regular doctor's office: large "bone bruise" (I don't know either: I didn't fall, it wasn't a contact injury" and a torn meniscus. I don't know how badly. I assume the guy will recommend surgery which just UNDOES me - do I put it off until summer, lose my ENTIRE summer productivity to being immobile and on freaking crutches AND NOT EVEN ABLE TO DRIVE BECAUSE IT'S MY RIGHT LEG or do I do it now and wind up teaching online horribly the rest of the semester, and just giving people "gimme points" for the labs I won't be able to do

I'm hoping - probably fruitlessly - it will be a small enough tear he's willing to let me try to heal myself. I am not an athlete, I don't really NEED it back perfect, I just need to be healed enough to be out of pain and maybe to fieldwork.

I just feel like I've been punched in the gut.

And I don't even KNOW what a "bone bruise" is, whether that's what's causing the remaining pain or if it's the meniscus

ANYWAY I will never trust anything ever again; I was feeling much better this morning when i got up and was thinking "oh I might get to go out and do something fun this weekend for my birthday" but I bet I get told to stay as immobile as possible (except for WORK of course) and I guess I'm just not allowed happiness or fun now and I hate everything. I guess the lesson is, never be happy, because it'll just be taken away. NEVER look forward to anything. Just drift and exist and don't expect anything good.

Hopefully, an omen

 Yesterday was a bad day, pain wise, and I felt less mobile. I walked around (as much as i did) worrying I'd be referred for surgery, or else that my leg would never be "right" again and I'd never be able to hike or do proper fieldwork ever again.

Last night, I slept some better and hurt less this morning. (A colleague reminded me we had had a cold front come through, and that can mess with both acute and chronic pain). I'm more mobile again and actually most of my pain now is in the hip and calf on that side, which is probably from walking abnormally for a month plus.

But the omen: I had mentioned that Quixotic Fibers had multiplexed into two stores, one in Florida and one in Denison. I was hoping to be okay enough to go to Denison this coming weekend to see the new store.

Well, I got an e-mail this morning: Saturday is their grand opening celebration, with special things and a chance at a gift basket. And I know I should not be superstitious but I am really hoping this is an omen that (a) I will feel up to going and (b) the news from the doctor tomorrow will be along the lines of "give it a bit more time and then do PT, eventually you'll be right" 

Still taking tylenol, though, and I wish I could just stop but when I tried last week the pain got worse

Saturday, February 17, 2024

bit more normalcy?

 So I had removed (almost all, there were a few flecks of glitter that just stuck down hard) the toenail polish I had on. And this afternoon, after turning up the thermostat a bit (I will wash my hair in a few minutes and don't want to be cold), I realized - hey, maybe I could try painting them again

Ah, but where to put my foot? In the before-times, I would prop it on the edge of the sink or even the barstool I use as a small table/ mail table/ place to clamp the yarn-ball-winder but even before I hurt my knee that was difficult at times. And then I realized the shower chair would work.

And I was able to get my right foot up on the seat without difficulty, and I was able to stand on that leg to do my left foot. 

I used an older bottle (but still fluid) of Pacifica's "Tourmaline," which is purplish and amethyst is the birthstone for this, my birth month.

I want it to be fully dry before I shower though. Pacifica has fewer nasty solvents in it so sometimes it's a bit less hardy than other polish brands.


No photo yet, because it's cold out and I don't quite feel like going out to my backyard to photograph it, but I FINALLY sewed down all the binding on the quilt I started binding back in October. And here's a photo of it from some years back when I finished it:

It looks like I finished the piecing in 2013, so it's high time to have the quilt done.


Also a tiny addition on here - I mainly buy books through these days because they support local bookstores in many areas, and I feel like towns NEED bookstores even if many don't have them, so I made a wishlist with them. There are things on there that don't overlap with the Amazon wishlist, and I know some folks would rather order from there. (No pressure; this is also a place to park books that I see on Bluesky and want and might not feel I have the funds for in this moment, and I can come back to them and order them later)

Friday, February 16, 2024

And that's done

 The MRI was today. It was less scary than I feared - the machines aren't as loud as I was led to believe, and they provide you with earplugs. It was mostly just very tedious.

Claustrophobia wasn't an issue because they only put me in the machine up to my chest, and the ventilation system was such that there was a breeze aimed at my face, which helped a lot in keeping me from feeling claustrophobic.

It was mostly just really boring to lie there - I think she did six, seven-minute runs of the machine? - and having to be absolutely still. At one point my left leg started cramping up because it was in a slightly awkward position but I was able to adjust it during a break between runs and then it was okay.

At some points my leg felt slightly warm; I don't know if that was from the magnetic field or from all the sheathing stuff they had around the leg they were imaging. 

Also, like so much medical stuff, it was hurry up and wait: show up to admitting, wait a bit, fill out another round of paperwork with the intake person, get one of those papery bracelet things put on, get asked several times which leg was being imaged (I suppose that's a liability thing, they want to be sure it's the correct one). Then go down to the MRI lab, fill out more paperwork (including any and all conditions that might affect the safety of having an MRI; fortunately I have no internally implanted devices and I don't even have any piercings. And I had left my watch and ring at home). They do have a big sign warning that cell phones interfere with the radiologic equipment, so I turned mine fully off. (Normally I leave it on all the time and just, for example, silence it when I'm in church).

Irritatingly, there was no clock in the waiting room - and since I had my phone off and my watch was at home, I had no way of knowing the time (there were a couple forms you had to date AND time, I just guessed based on when my appointment was scheduled for and when I had gotten there. 

Then handed in the forms. Then waited what seemed like a very long time. I had brought my Moon book and read some on that (here's one place where having a book, even if it makes you seem like a throwback, is good! If you have to turn off electronic devices a good old paper book will allow you to pass the time).

For most of the time I was the only one in the waiting room. There was a woman with her teenaged daughter, who they told to come back later (apparently they showed up way early for her appointment). Then a couple came in and kind of argued, which just made me a little tenser sitting there. 

Finally I got called back. Was told to strip down to my underwear and was given a robe (my tech was an older woman - well, maybe "older" in the sense of being my age, actually - so I wouldn't have minded just getting in in my underpants and sports bra - but it was cold in there so I was glad for the robe). Glasses off, no jewelry to remove. 

I asked her about the remnants of glitter nail polish on my toes I couldn't get off, and she kind of chuckled and said that would be no problem, and added, "You'd be surprised to learn how many people come in here with jewelry in various piercings, and don't bother to tell us" and I presume she didn't mean "ears" or even "nose" because those you could see as you were checking the person in.  The problem, as I understand it, is the magnets in the MRI can make metallic things heat up unpleasantly and I can imagine certain "hidden" spots you could have piercings where that would very quickly become bad. 

She got me in position and put a thing around my right leg (I don't know if it was to concentrate the beams or what) and had me try to shift my left one into a comfortable-enough position but as I said, I had been tensing up and wound up cramping up a little. 

She also handed me a bulb kind of like the old-fashioned squeeze bulb pipetter bulbs and said to squeeze it if I was uncomfortable or was starting to panic (I didn't have to).

And then I just laid there. Like I said, it seemed really long. She kept telling me how many more round there were and there was a timer I could see right over my head so I could see it count down to zero, which helped. I concentrated on staying very still because I knew if I didn't stay still, she'd have to do more runs and it would take longer. I could feel a few pings of pain in my bad leg while it was running; I don't know if that was from the magnetic field or if it was just the position I was in. 

Finally I was done, she came out and helped me get out.

And then the worst thing which is maybe "worst" only because of how my brain works: "How did you do this, again?" and I started to explain, and she said "and then you felt a pop?" and I said "I guess" and she said "Well, it looks like it was painful" and that activated all my panic circuits: oh no, she saw something terrible on there, and I'm gonna hear on Tuesday I have to have an operation, maybe even a knee replacement, which is the thing that basically stole my dad's last years by making him unable to do much. A couple friends on social media, and my mom over the phone, have mostly talked me down from that - she was probably just making conversation, she's probably not trained in reading the images the way the orthopedist is, you wouldn't be getting as much better as you are if something were really wrong (and yes, this morning, I thought "this actually is starting to feel like the pain and arthritis I feel when I can't exercise for a while, rather than actual painful injury" and I have been able to walk better and for longer. And I doubt the doctor would have cleared me to take stairs if he suspected something that could be damaged further?) I know he did say from just an external examination/palpation of the knee that he didn't think ligaments were badly damaged.

I mean, I suppose I could still have a blown meniscus, but I dont' know if they do surgery on that for someone in her 50s who's not really an athlete and would be willing to do PT until the cows came home if it meant avoiding surgery. 

But I'm gonna have to try not to think of it this weekend. I did go back to my building and pick up and put away the systematic botany lab (a LOT of specimens, and a lot of carrying big awkward boxes - hard to do and navigate with a cane) and I was tired at that point and hurting and so of course the "oh no, I really do need surgery" fears came to the surface, and I had to kind of drag myself home. Oh, I could still WALK but it was uncomfortable. 

After sitting and putting some heat on it and taking Tylenol, it's better, and to the point where if I work at it I can walk normally (picking my leg up as much as I would if it weren't injured) so maybe I AM okay, and it's just I tire more quickly from this injury than I expect. I don't know. 

I'm just worn out from hurting though, and not being able to do everything I want to. I'm hoping I get a good report on Tuesday; if I do I will go to Denison next weekend to do birthday things. If I DON'T get a good report, I don't know. I can't quite imagine him going at this point "oh no you need surgery IMMEDIATELY" and I would hope that there would be less-extreme therapies that could be tried first. 

I wish I had never stupidly injured that leg; this has eaten a whole month of my life and also I don't even KNOW if I'll be able to do the field labs with my students this spring, and how I figure out replacement labs if I can't. And for that matter, what if I can't do fieldwork in the summer? I'll either have to figure out a totally different way to do research, or else take the dings and possible loss of tenure (shortly before retirement!) that doing no research would bring. 

But I'm going to try not to worry about it this weekend :(

Thursday, February 15, 2024

it's Friday eve

 * Started a new project. I had a cake of String Theory "Photon" (it has sparkles) in the colorway Penumbra, which reminds me a bit of Twilight Sparkle. And I decided I didn't want just plain striping socks, so I found a modified feather-and-fan stitch that will work (it'll chevron a bit) with the striping yar. I'm only a few rounds into the ribbing thus far so no photo yet.

* Tomorrow's the MRI. I was worrying about it but a friend on Bluesky told me that he had a knee MRI and they only put you in up to the waist, so the claustrophobia thing shouldn't be as bad as I was fearing. I have foam earplugs that I'll bring and see if I can wear them if the noise is going to be bad.

* The knee is off and on. The intense pain that felt like ligaments is gone, but there's a nagging slightly arthritic-like pain if I stand or walk a lot. Tylenol relieves it; taking a break to sit down makes it better and then I can stand back up and walk more. I can walk and stand without pain for longer periods. The x-ray they took Tuesday at the orthopedic doctor DID show some arthritis so I won't be surprised if that's it. The bad news is arthritis is always there but the good news is that exercise can help it, and tylenol is there if it gets bad.

* I'm REALLY hoping for a good report. That's the one thing I would want for my birthday (the end of this month) but of course that's not a thing that can be bought at a store. 

If I do get a good report, and my leg is better enough to brave an hour's round trip drive and some walking, the weekend of the 24th, I will go to Denison and maybe also to Michael's and the Ulta. If I don't get a good report? (Shrug emoji) it will depend a lot on how urgently they want me to have surgery, I'm hoping if that's the outcome it can wait AT LEAST until my spring break. I mean, it sucks to be laid up during (and after) Spring Break, and it sucks to contemplate going backwards in terms of pain and disability, but....I really hope that's not it. I hope the fairly rapid improvement I've had this week is evidence it's healing up on its own. (It's been just over a month; I did the injury on 14 January).

 In hopes of this, my mother said she was sending me a check in addition to the small birthday gifts she was sending, so I doubly hope I am okay to go and check out the new home of Quixotic Fibers and maybe get some new shower gel.

* I will say, and this is how I am - when someone called today to do "pre registration" stuff I was super calm and polite with her, and I admit, the part of my brain that still believes in fairy tales tells me "be nice to every medical professional you encounter, and maybe you'll be rewarded with a knee that's healing on its own." Oh, I know intellectually it doesn't work that way (but wouldn't it be nice if it did? That if you were kind to people and not rude and demanding, good things came your way? Our society might be a much better place if the rude and pushy people were punished in some kind of short term and the kind and patient people were rewarded....)

* Anyway, if you're a praying type, or a good-thoughts and mojo type, I'd appreciate some around 2 pm CST tomorrow; that's when I go in. I mean both for a good report but also that I can remain calm and still during the process - I am not good at staying still, and I am not good around loud noise, and I am claustrophic, though it seems very likely that won't be an issue if it's just my lower body that goes in the machine; if my head is free I'll be okay.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

A quick post

 Tired tonight. I was on my feet more today (class and lab, and then after lab I took the time to set up the lab for tomorrow) but I am finding that I can walk/stand for longer times and more without pain. Oh, there's still PAIN - but if I sit down for a few minutes it resolves. I am hoping that means it's just weakness from basically being immobile for a month plus.

Also my thigh muscles are starting to complain from the lack of exercise. I really hope the MRI looks good and the doctor tells me it's time for PT. 


Also tonight was Ash Wednesday - unlike the Catholic churches, we do an evening service (I remember in college my Catholic classmates walking around all day with the ashes on their foreheads.

I admit, the whole "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" thing hits harder now - after having lost so many people over the past five years, and having an injury that MIGHT lead to surgery for me (surgery scares me; I'm afraid I'll die under the anesthetic), and also just the general feeling of "nothing good ever stays" after other losses (And the pandemic, that really affected me). 

But here's Chalcedony, at least as far as I got during the Tuesday exam this week

It LOOKS small, but there are wide front bands that get knit on at the end, and it's a sweater designed to be work open (there are no buttonholes or places for buttons). Still, I hope it fits.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Tuesday wrap-up

*First of all: It's Pancake Day! It's Pancake Day! It's P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-Pancake Day!

A friend who lives in the UK reposted this on Bluesky. I had never seen it, now I kind of would like to see the (short) series of Maid Marian and Her Merry Man, it sounds funny.

And fans of Red Dwarf just might recognize Danny John-Jules (the singer dressed in medieval Rasta style) as "The Cat" from that show.

And yeah, it is Pancake Day. In the tradition closest to mine (British Isles Protestant Christianity) that's the day for Shrove Tuesday - not Mardi Gras, not Pączki Day (though those were common where I grew up; there were a fair few Polish immigrants there).

So most years, I make pancakes. I wasn't sure I had the energy after the appointment this afternoon (more about that later), but I ultimately did.

I used the recipe in the Paddington Cook Book my friend Lynn gave me for my birthday (? IIRC) a couple years back. I had to kind of fudge things; they ask for weights rather than measures and I didn't think to tare the cup I use to measure flour before filling it so I guessed. They came out fine, though.

They're very simple - more like crepes than the leavened American pancake - just flour, eggs, milk, and a little butter (and then fried in a lot of butter - you have to have the pan well greased or they're hard to turn. 


The appointment went fine. Nothing conclusive until after the MRI; the doctor seemed to doubt there was ligament damage (he pressed hard all around my knee, and since there was no pain, he figured there was nothing ruptured). He is concerned there might be cartilage involvement. Of course I'm hoping there is not but I think there are treatments to try BEFORE surgery. (if I have to have surgery, I very much want to postpone it until summer, when the couple weeks' downtime will be less horrible)

At least he didn't gasp or go "OMG you have to get this fixed NOW" or anything like that.

I will say getting to the appointment is weird and complicated and I wonder if it's a legacy of pandemic times and distancing - you go to the check in place (ground floor) first and, as a new patient, I had to fill out approximately 80 pages of background information, and then wait a bit - this was reception for several clinics, including (apparently) an obstetrics one (several women with small babies in carriers). Then you get told it's "time" for you to go up, and you take an elevator to the third floor, and you wind up the only person in the waiting room. You ring a bell, and then a nurse comes and lets you in to the warren of rooms. 

I didn't get weighed. I was expecting to, and get a finger wagged in my face for being heavy, because that's often been my experience at doctors' offices. (Ah, if weight loss could be achieved by shaming, far more of us would be slender). He was quite pleasant, in fact, and answered the questions I had written down ahead of time (I get intimidated in doctors' offices and often forget to ask questions I want answered).

The biggest one: it is fine for me to take stairs, so I can stop using the campus handicap parking tag. Which simplifies things: a shorter walk (even with the stairs) to my office, and I can just drop it off at the police station a day or so before it expires (I'll keep it tomorrow and Thursday in case I'm tired and don't want to navigate stairs). 

I did take them this afternoon when I had to go back to get the exams I forgot to carry home with me (I was anxious about the appointment) and it went fine and hurt less than the long walk down the halls of hard floors. And who knows, maybe the stairs will help strengthen the injured leg. I really only have to navigate them twice a day (once up, once down when I am going home) so I don't think I will overdo it.)

I still have SOME pain but it's far less than even a couple days ago; I hope that means I'm approaching fully healed and won't need anything else done. 

He also recommended "good, supportive shoes with an arch" so I guess I'm kind of limited in what I can wear for a bit, and I want to be fully healed before I wear the newest shoes (even just for a short time, which may have to be how I wear them for a while)


After retrieving my exams, I realized I needed a couple things from Walgreens and I contemplated getting a "treat" but knew that (a) something like a stuffie might not be the best, given that I've bought a couple very recently (Bruce the Hork, and the maned wolf whom I have decided is named Francisco - because that's fun to say! (*). Also figuring I was going to have pancakes for dinner I didn't want a sweet treat (and while I'm not *giving them up totally* for Lent, I do need to cut back, especially since I'm not yet cleared to exercise (though maybe next week I will be when I see the orthopedist again).

So I thought: well, my car IS dirty, and the "disco car wash" is near here, and I can't very comfortably wash it in the "cheap" way (feeding quarters into the self serve wash and spraying and soaping it down myself). So I went through that. And yeah, it is kind of fun, and it's certainly easier than doing it the old fashioned way even if it's expensive. 

And then on the way back into town I DID get the sweet treat of a peach iced tea at that HTeaO place.

But sometimes you need little treats, especially when you did something hard. And yes, I find going all by myself to a new doctor hard, and I didn't know walking in if I might get told "no you MUST arrange for surgery at the EARLIEST possible TIME or you will never be able to walk right again"

I may have to plan another small treat after the MRI Friday. I never have had one before and I'm apprehensive, they say it's very loud and claustrophobic though maybe they will just push me in it up to my waist, since they only need to see the knee? And yes, I know, don't wear anything metal (I am going to run home and change into an all-elastic sports bra before going there) and I am slightly worried that I could not clean every last bit of the glitter toenail polish off but maybe cosmetic glitter isn't metallic? Maybe it's mica? I hope; I don't want my nailbeds to get burned or something. 

Maybe I'll have to try again tomorrow. It's still a little hard to reach that foot comfortably on that side.


Maybe tomorrow, if I have time (Ash Wednesday service and also I Facetime with my mom), I'll snap and post a photo of the progress on Chalcedony - the left front is done and grafted at the shoulder seams, and the right front is up to the point where I decrease for the v-neck. I feel more motivated to finish this now even though the sleeves will take a while to do.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Finished the socks

 I finished the Vintage Christmas (yarn colorway) socks tonight:

They don't match *perfectly* but I don't care; it was a long repeat and I was afraid of running short. This yarn was bought from a hand-dyer on Etsy.

In other news, I'm trying and mostly failing not to worry about the orthopedist appointment tomorrow. Oh, I'm definitely a lot better than when I did the injury, and better than I was even last week. But I still have pain at times - it was bad this afternoon when I got home, but again - I had to carry boxes of herbarium specimens around and do the whole "load up the car, drive to one door, take the stuff out, put the new stuff in, drive to the other door" dance, and I was on my feet a lot. 

I feel better this evening now after icing it, and taking Tylenol, and sitting some. I probably am trying to do too much but I really don't know how I could do LESS than I do. 

I'm just hoping the doctor will tell me to give it more time, or that I need some PT (And NOT surgery). It's frustrating; I felt so much better this weekend when I was walking less, but after today back on those hard floors I worry again that I've blown a ligament that will have to be surgically repaired. 

I really do think I need to give it a couple more weeks before I fully decide; it's been a month but a lot of places I've read that even a mild sprain can take a minimum of six weeks to resolve. Also I CAN'T go in for surgery now; there is literally no one to cover my classes and I DO NOT WANT to have to teach over Zoom from a hospital bed, that feels too dystopian. 

And I can't bear the thought of going back to a level of pain like I had when I first did the injury for a month and a half or two months after surgery. I just can't. I'm worn out from pain and it's starting to get better and I don't want to go backwards. 

I dunno. I hope I don't think about it too much tonight and actually sleep.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Good news, everybody!

 So this afternoon, I decided to wash my hair. I stepped into the tub (I have a combined tub and shower; if I had a much bigger house and was redoing the bathroom I'd get a shower stall and have a soaking tub, but I manage with what I have).

And I realize: it doesn't hurt to stand any more (earlier - straightening my leg kind of hurt, it felt like when you are stretching a little too far) and my leg was perfectly stable, and I thought: well, I could try washing my hair and showering without the chair.

So I lifted it out and set it just outside the tub. And I took my shower (I don't take LONG showers - less than 10 minutes, so not that long to stand) and washed my hair and was even able to use the bath brush properly to exfoliate my back. And then when I stepped out I was able to grab onto the chair, though I really didn't need the stabilization, I didn't want to risk slipping or turning funny.

Unfortunately my bathroom is small enough there's nowhere really to keep the chair in it, even as a towel holder. So I'll have to figure out an out of the way but accessible spot to store it - I want to keep it because there could be a time in the future (like: if I had the flu and wanted to shower but was afraid I lacked the energy to stand) when it would come in handy. Maybe a spot in my "guest" room, which is really more just a boxroom. 

Or, once I get my bedroom cleaned up a little more and some of the stuff in there stowed away, I could put it in there to lay out my clothes for the next day on, and to use as a dressing chair. It looks a little institutional (white plastic) but it would be a good place to sit while putting tights on. 

I need to get the big immobilizer and crutches out of my car once I'm really fully healed, and I plan to store those in the hall closet - you never know when you might need crutches again, or, they'd be there to loan out to a friend or colleague if they needed them. 

I am very hopeful, given how good I've felt today and how much better I'm walking that there will be no surgery in my future. I'm happy to do PT and would even be willing to consider the injections, but I really don't want surgery (and unless it seemed urgent I'd have to put it off until summer).

Sprains are maddeningly slow to heal though. Tomorrow it will be a month ago that I did this. I'm hoping it's not MUCH longer until I'm better enough I can walk completely normally again.

Friday, February 09, 2024

Back to normalish

 * I let myself sleep "however" last night, instead of propping my leg on pillows. Doing that made me stiff, and I don't sleep well flat on my back, and it was hard to get comfortable with my leg in an odd position. I think I slept a little better, though I was sore when I got up from having my leg bent overnight. I might try sleeping on my left side with a thin pillow between my knees to cushion the bad one.

* I loosened up after getting up, though, and seemed to have less pain and walk more easily today, and I even taught my class partly standing up and was able to walk around a little. I think much better on my feet and I teach better. I really hope I do continue to improve so I can stand more while I teach. And I hope the orthopedist releases me to start PT soon. I'm at about 75% mobility, I'm hoping that's good enough to avoid surgery.

* I miss getting exercise so I hope the doctor clears me to do more walking and start PT. I've been being very careful (so I don't re-injure or overstress the leg, or interfere with healing) but being sedentary gets very tiresome when you're used to being active.

* When I got home, I did 20 minutes of piano practice. I had not been doing any since first I was very immobile (when I was on the crutches) and then I just was hurting and cranky and didn't feel like it. I've gotten rusty but maybe I can build it back up.

The other thing limiting practice time and knitting time is that things take longer having to be careful of the poor leg - even simple stuff like laundry. And I have to take an extra half minute when getting out of a chair, I hesitate because I fear pain or injuring the leg again and feel like I have to have everything positioned "just right." The fear of pain is a very real thing; I don't always know if after sitting for a while I will hurt (because of having been immobile) or feel OK (because of having rested for a bit) and I have to kind of psych myself up for that. 

* I do think I'm getting better. The pain now is more "ouch, everything is stiff and I feel like I can't stretch my leg well enough to undo it" rather than "ouch, everything in there is tender and raw" though I do have some skin irritation under where I've worn the brace - it has latex rubber in it (for stretch) which I have a mild skin sensitivity to, and even wearing tights under it it still irritates. And I have a few ingrown leg-hairs courtesy of having worn a brace so much on there, and that's part of it. 

* I did manage to change the sheets on the bed again tonight (it had been two weeks). It was easier and less painful than before but still it's more of an effort than when I'm perfectly well. 

* My house is a mess after this past month. I picked up a FEW things (until I ran out of steam to) and I put the curtain on the tension rod back up in the doorway between the kitchen and the back hallway - I caught it with the tip of the crutches one day when I was on them and it came down, and I was hurting too much (and then too worried about reinjury) to put it back up. I have been keeping up with laundry but that's about it.

* I need to go in tomorrow (grading, and to take up the herbarium sheets - I had a student who had been out sick who wanted to come in this afternoon and do them, I gave him a quick run through of everything - and oh, that was more time walking around on my feet.)

* One thing I hope the orthopedist says is that I'm cleared to try stairs again. It would be nice to be able to park in  my normal spot (even though I will probably gripe about having to drag down the stairs at the end of the day when I'm tired). My building is really not very accessible at all; parking in the back puts me on the same level but it's a long walk to my office; parking in the front puts me close to my office but there's a flight (or maybe even a flight and a half) of fairly-steep stairs to get there and NO elevator

It's 85 steps from the back door to my office; I counted it one day. It's about 30 from the front door to my office if you count each step on the stairs as one.

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Slowly picking away

 Adding a few more rounds to the current socks. Watching Midsomer Murders - even though it's a part II and I've not seen Part I of this one - because there's no So Help Me Todd on, rather some football awards thing (as if there isn't enough football leading up to this Sunday)

Today was long and I lost my composure a bit. First thing in the morning, there was an e-mail from my underprepared student concerning a big assignment that's due tomorrow. They didn't know about it, they didn't know how to do it, could I explain?

I basically sent the links to the thing I had about it on the LMS but I am done with this person. This is also someone who may have given me an excuse that was a lie (actually, it's pretty likely that they did, based on what a colleague said). They've been reported and it's said they're going to get "help and support," and dandy, I guess, but I've been laboring on here for a month on a painful knee with only a campus handicapped parking sticker (which I had to request papers for and go and pick up myself) and I swear by that's holy if I DO have to have surgery I am calling ALL THE OFFICES and requesting ALL THE ACCOMMODATIONS.

a lot of time workplaces like campuses forget their employees are going through a lot and we're just expected to deal with things unsupported.

Then I had to make an MRI appointment after several calls from the scheduling place at the hospital. And was told they can ONLY send the results to one doctor, (not both my regular doctor and the orthopod) without me doing more paperwork and this seems so silly. Why is there always more paperwork? Why, when someone's injured and tired and still in, admittedly, a little pain and also a lot of worry, that they have to jump through more hoops? So I'm having them sent to my regular doctor and WHATEVER.

The MRI is after I see the orthopod anyway and I'm holding out a vain hope he'll look me over and go "yeah, I don't think you need an MRI, this seems to be healing okay, go do PT" but I have no idea how likely that is. 

Also, we have to do a minimum of five hours of training for a new interface for certain things (like advisement) and where on earth do I FIND five hours? 

And all these things hit simultaneously - the "registration" for the training and the call about "hey you need to schedule an MRI and then a colleague came in about the problem student and wanted the e-mail where they probably lied to me and I just kind of melted down for a few minutes.

I feel better now but I do have points where I just get tired and frustrated and I dearly HOPE this is part of the healing process.

As I said: I really don't want surgery. But if how I am right now is the best of how I would be it without it? I probably have to do it - though if it doesn't work out (sometimes knee surgery goes wrong; my dad's did) and I'm crippled worse? I'll just have to quit and probably move and ARGH. 

I mean, today was my best day for mobility since I did this injury and the gentle compression sleeve is SO MUCH BETTER than the bulky brace, and I hurt far less this evening and I can get in and out of my car easier - still, there are still things that hurt. I'm not sure I can tackle a full set of stairs yet. It hurts to slam on the brakes (which I have to do; lots of bad drivers here) and I do get tired after standing for a while and need to sit down.

I'm telling myself I'm impatient; it's been not quite a month and some sprains take six weeks to heal and I am a great deal better than I was before. But I won't be fully happy until/unless I hear the words "go do PT and we can release you from treatment" instead of being told to have surgery. 

I wish I could put it out of my mind but that's always been hard for me to do, put bad things out of my mind, and it's worse when I'm so damned ALONE all the time. 

I'm hoping I begin sleeping better at some point; it's still hard to sleep comfortably in the positions I prefer to sleep in, and I worry about tweaking the knee again.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Better day today

 I did hurt some getting up, and during the day. Midday I realized the pain was like a "burning" pain (like when I had bursitis in a hip) and I felt of the knee and compared it to my other knee - it felt warm.

Womp womp. Apparently the big buckley brace is causing inflammation. I know it helped at first but the neoprene is hot and my skin doesn't like it (and the velcro, oh the velcro is a pain in the neck. It sticks to everything). 

During lab this afternoon - this group is pretty independent - I was able to spend part of the time with the brace off and my leg propped up on a chair and it felt way better after that. And I don't feel wiped out this afternoon, despite setting up the systematic botany lab AFTER this lab

I did ask my MD/Ph.D colleague for advise on anti-inflammatories. He said NONE of them were good if you had a touchy stomach (and didn't like them for the cardiovascular side effects) but suggested voltaren gel.. Well, okay. I tried it once before and I thought it gave me hives, but it's cheap enough, I'll try it again (plan to apply it after dinner). He also suggested replacing the brace with a gentle compression sleeve - no buckles, no edges to press into the tender parts of my knee. So I went out to my pharmacy. They helped me find one - it's an extra large, so it's not *tight,* I didn't want something tight (my colleague told me not to get a tight one, that I just needed support, not compression, and also that I can even wear it later when I exercise - he said he wears one for playing volleyball). I trust him not just because he has an MD, but his wife went through something similar last year and he says that's what she did, and now she's better. 

So I may try just wearing that tomorrow, with the cane for balance. I may drag the big brace in my purse just in case, but if I can step down to a lighter brace I think that's a good sign? I hope? I can walk more comfortably in the new one than in the big one.

I am impatient. I wanted to be healed up by now. 

I also might just go to bed extra early and prop my leg up on a stack of pillows and read; I suspect that the inflammation from the brace/standing on a slightly injured knee is what's getting me down.

I do not feel so exhausted this evening but I know in a few minutes I should fix myself some dinner because I don't want to get to the point of being "too hungry." Apparently another thing is healing takes lots of energy? So maybe that's part of it. 

Also gonna keep icing periodically. Am slightly annoyed that the ice machine (for the labs) in my building is broken so I can't make an ice bag. I have two gelpacks but I like to have one in the freezer at home and one on my knee at home....I'll hunt around and see if I have a third and might take it over and see if I can stick it in a lab freezer and use it as needed. (I never apply it to bare skin, or for more than 20 minutes; you don't want frostbite)

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Tuesday evening whining

 * The injury is so frustrating. I get a burst of energy and pain-free feeling midday, and I think "oh thank goodness, I'm finally healing" and then I am absolutely WIPED by the time I get home. I don't get it; I am doing less than I normally would do but about an hour of sorting and selecting herbarium specimens for Thursday's lab (standing on the miserable tile-over-concrete floors in my building) meant I could barely drag myself up the steps into my house this afternoon. (Luckily, the mail came when I was home getting lunch and I was able to pick it up then, I wasn't going to walk back down to the mailbox after getting home).

*I did ice the knee again (it was hurting) and then managed to take a shower and wash my hair. I can still bend my knee enough to step directly into the tub (still using the shower seat, though) so maybe I've not lost too much more mobility. 

* But then, while making dinner (okonomiyaki; I had bought shredded cabbage in a fit of feeling like I would be able to do things again soon and it was close to its sell-by date) I felt like I was going to pass out, I was so tired. 

I hope this is just normal healing? Maybe healing from an injury makes you tired? I did feel a little better after eating and sitting for a while but it's alarming how fast I can go from "pretty much fine" to "oh no I have to sit down and I can't any more" 

* After finishing this I might try to knit a bit on the current striped socks. 

* I wish I could push the various worries out of my head. During the day, when my knee feels good and I'm pretty mobile, I think "oh, the orthopedist will just send me to PT and everything will be fine" but in evenings like this I wonder: did I damage things more? am I going to be facing surgery? 

I mean, evenings are often bad for me anyway (tired, and no one here to distract or console me, so I ruminate on things)'s extra bad now with a knee where every time I go to get up, I wonder "will this be the time it buckles under me and proves I have a busted tendon?" or "how much pain will I feel when I stand?' (usually not much, but)

* I guess I'm glad I didn't make Spring Break plans, it's a bit more than a month off and who knows? I may have to have surgery then - all alone here, all by myself, and figure out how to deal with the after care largely on my own. And my one relaxing week off all eaten up. 

Dammit. Crying now. WHY DID I DO THIS? WHY WAS I NOT MORE CAREFUL? If I hadn't twisted wrong that evening I would be fine now. 

* I think this summer I have to cough up the cash for a new set of orthotics; my insurance doesn't cover them but I think I need to replace the old ones I have. 

Maintaining an aging body is like maintaining an old house; you can never get ahead of all the things that go wrong and you can only prioritize "what's the worst thing now, what needs to be attended to most" and I hate it. 

* ETA: I hunted around - despite Google search being absolute garbage right now - and found some actual medical information saying that it does require more energy to heal from an injury like I have, and especially protein, and maybe I'm not eating enough protein right now? I have eaten some bean dishes but haven't really eaten meat in a while. 

Maybe that's why I get exhausted at the end of the day?

* I do feel some better after sitting for most of the evening. I can still bend my knee but it does feel "tight," maybe there's some swelling in there - maybe standing too long on hard floors is causing it. I do get random twinges of pain while just sitting but less than I did a few days ago but MAN will I be glad if this just fixes itself.

At least tomorrow should be a slightly easier day

Monday, February 05, 2024

And weekend knitting

 I dug out the "Ruggles Reversible Scarf" (this is an old, old pattern, from the old Woolworks site, in the late 1990s). The yarn is an odd Mandala Tweed blend called White Elephant (maybe: colors no one but me likes?)

It's a knit/purl pattern that makes almost like little pennant shapes

And yeah, all these photos are taken on my lap rather than staged better, I'm still not fully mobile. I made the possibly ill-advised choice to try to dig up the soil for the soil invertebrates lab on Wednesday. (There's really no one I could ask, the soil comes from my backyard so I can't ask a student to go out and do it, and my friend Dana is currently under the weather). I will say while I was tired afterward, it didn't HURT to do it. I hope I don't regret that later.

My doctor did message me back - I had sent her a message basically saying "time for Physical Therapy referral :) ?" but she STILL wants me to see an orthopedist and have an MRI and I am trying but mostly failing not to freak out that this will mean knee surgery. 

I mean - knee replacement is basically what stole my dad's mobility the last 10 or so years of his life (it went badly) and while this wouldn't be that, it still scares me. And surgery in general scares me. And who would take care of me? I have no one and if I cant' even get up the steps into my house how will I even go home? How will I get food? We don't have Door Dash here. I'd have to ask to go to a rehab center and I DON'T have the money for that!

I've tried to be very careful. I thought I was doing better today after deciding to stop totally "babying" the leg, on the grounds that doing that seemed to be making it stiff and weaker - like sleeping with it up on pillows at night. But by the end of the day, my leg was tired and the muscles kind of burned.

I have some pain in the front and side  of the kneecap but not instability, and I don't really feel much swelling. So I don't know. I keep thinking "I should go buy an NSAID and try what it does" but then I think about how they made my stomach feel the last time I used them.....

I've been alternating ice (when I first get home and the leg is tired and hurting) and mild heat (when I get chilled from the ice. But I don't know. I made the mistake of reading how they "fix" a damaged ligament surgically and it's gruesome and I can't imagine that the recovery is pleasant - I don't know WHEN I could get it done - I don't have a TA to cover the labs and while I could teach lectures online over Zoom, I am BAD at that. 

I feel very much that since 2020 it's like the universe has just conspired to make me teach worse and worse and not get research done, and it would be a fine mess if I lost my job less than a decade from retirement, because I got so bad at it. But maybe that's my fate? 

Yeah, I know I'm worrying excessively but also I have no one here to distract or reassure me an my mind goes to upsetting places. 

I don't know. I really hope the doctor goes "oh this is tendinitis, go do some stretching and keep putting ice on it" but I fear he'll find a snapped ligament and I just can't with that. 

I'm trying really hard NOT to think about it, but of course it's now the elephant in the room. 


I did get my valentine's day present to myself today; I ordered this knowing no one will send me a valentine at all. I had seen a plush maned wolf and wanted one (they are leggy creatures) and the best one I saw available was the "symbolic adoption" through World Wildlife Fund. So they're an expensive critter but oh well. (Ordered before I thought I might be facing an MRI and maybe surgery; I wouldn't have otherwise). 

No name or gender given as yet. These are South American creatures so I'm thinking a name that reflects that. 


Friday, February 02, 2024

The poem-sharing

 Years back, when lots and lots of people had blogs - knitting blogs, reading blogs, cultural blogs, diary-type blogs - there was a tradition of sharing a poem on February 2. A Poem for Bridgid, some called it, referencing St. Bridgid, whose day is today. Or for Candlemass, the day of the blessing of the candles. Or for Imbolc, the day midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox (yes. We are now halfway to spring). Or for the Groundhog, which is what most Americans know this day for.

Over the years, I've posted most of my favorite poems (My all-time favorite is "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden, which has the exquisitely beautiful line "What did I know, what did I know/ Of love's austere and lonely offices"). And I've posted some sillier ones - I think last year I shared that one about the tiger being out of his cage ("Yes. YES. The tiger is out). (Correction: it was year before last)

This year, I'm thinking of high school again, which is when we covered most of the poetry I remember studying. We had to memorize it, too - both for English class and for French, and get up and recite it.

The first poem I remember having to memorize was this one:

"The Self and the Mulberry" by Marvin Bell

I wanted to see the self, so I looked at the mulberry.
It had no trouble accepting its limits,
yet defining and redefining a small area
so that any shape was possible, any movement.
It stayed put, but was part of all the air.
I wanted to learn to be there and not there
like the continually changing, slightly moving
mulberry, wild cherry and particularly the willow.
Like the willow, I tried to weep without tears.
Like the cherry tree, I tried to be sturdy and productive.
Like the mulberry, I tried to keep moving.
I couldn't cry right, couldn't stay or go.
I kept losing parts of myself like a soft maple.
I fell ill like the elm. That was the end
of looking in nature to find a natural self.
Let nature think itself not manly enough!
Let nature wonder at the mystery of laughter.
Let nature hypothesize man's indifference to it.
Let nature take a turn at saying what love is!



There's an acceptance in there, and yet, I also feel an echo of WH Auden's "The More Loving One," about the stars that don't actually care about the humanity that cares about them. And yet, yes, there is mutual indifference between nature and humans. I barely remember the discussion of this poem (I do remember I flubbed my recital of it - stage fright) but I'm going to have to think about it more, now, these more-than-40-years-later to see what it means to me.


 The other one was the subject of a blue-book exam essay we all took Sophomore year, to determine our placement in Junior and Senior English classes. (I guess I did okay; I wound up in AP English as a senior). We were given the poem ahead of time and allowed to discuss among ourselves. A lot of people hung up on the line "bulging his pants" and tried to either assume a scatological or sexual interpretation; I figured it just meant that bears are fat and human clothes would fit them badly. 

As I remember, the tack I took was kind of the old Christian idea that we contain an animal nature as well as a divine nature, and that the poet was bemoaning the difficulty in overcoming animal nature - especially the part about "pawing" at his beloved (I cringe more at the image of that as an adult than I did as a relatively innocent teen)


Delmore Schwartz' "The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me"

“the withness of the body”

The heavy bear who goes with me,   
A manifold honey to smear his face,   
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,   
The central ton of every place,   
The hungry beating brutish one   
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,   
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,   
Climbs the building, kicks the football,   
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.

Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,   
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,   
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,   
A sweetness intimate as the water’s clasp,   
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope   
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.   
—The strutting show-off is terrified,   
Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants,   
Trembles to think that his quivering meat   
Must finally wince to nothing at all.

That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,   
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,   
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit’s motive,   
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,   
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,   
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,   
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,   
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed   
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,   
Amid the hundred million of his kind,   

The scrimmage of appetite everywhere.



And I admit: this is one of the things I remember from the heyday of blogs and I miss now. It was just a nice moment of connection: people who liked poetry (or at least, liked ONE poem) sharing it with others, so others could see what it was. It was just one of those nice little non-monetized, non-commercialized, non-argumentative things that blogs used to do and that seems to be lost now.


(I also just realized I missed my blogiversary this year; the blog turned 22 the end of January, but I've kind of been preoccupied with healing from the sprained knee to remember it

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

And another day

 I was careful today. One thing I've learned (from yesterday): don't twist. If you have to turn to the side, pick up your foot, pivot your whole body on the left foot.

I was also careful to elevate the leg during my office hours (and also in lab, I could mostly sit, and put the leg up on a chair. Also, last night, I forced myself to sleep with the leg up on pillows.

I suspect there's a small amount of inflammation happening during the day when I walk, and when I can elevate the leg, it goes away - I felt a LOT better at the end of the day today, for the first time since I got this injury about 17 days ago, I feel like this will actually heal up on its own eventually. 

Oh, I'm going to continue to be careful, I'm going to keep trying to elevate the leg as possible. Not sure I'm game for NSAIDs, given what they did to my stomach the last time I tried them (the leg pain is actually more tolerable than I remember the stomach pain being). 

But at least it seems like I'll eventually be better. I'm going to keep the handicapped parking tag perhaps until it expires (mid February) and not attempt the steep stairs in my building until I'm sure I've healed. And once I've healed I may call my doctor again and see if she will refer me again for a round of PT - I know most of what I need to do but some of the movements they had me do last year are things I can't do at home (don't have the equipment, no one to do the gentle manipulation/help with stretching)

I did order a set of resistance bands and will look up how to use them. I had to go through Target because I called the pharmacy/medical supply house I've used before in town and they don't carry them. The woman I asked said "wal mart might have them" but I did not feel like hiking across an acre of wal-mart to get to the sporting goods to look. Walgreens' didn't have them (I checked online). And anyway, I needed some other things (the sweet potato puree pouches I frequently carry in my lunch) so I was able to get an order to be delivered.

I also realized this morning I was almost out of tylenol. Oh, I'm careful with it - at most take a dose in the morning and one before bed, it does seem to help a little. So after school I ran to Walgreens' to get some, and decided "I need a little treat too" but decided a food treat maybe wasn't best (given that I'm not able to exercise right now). So I bought a new grapefruit-scented body wash (I can't eat the stuff, but I can smell like it...). And then on the way home I realized I was going through the fancy iced-tea place (this is a Texas chain, I guess; "HTeaO" which is not a name I love, but whatever. Their sweet-mint iced tea is good so I got a small one as a secondary treat). 

But here's hoping that with a little care (and maybe a little refusing to Do Too Much), I will be better sooner rather than later. (I had images of still being laid up at Spring Break, which is going to be my summer research planning time, so I need to be able to be active).

I've also promised myself once I'm Better, I will take a trip to Sherman/Denison because:

- Quixotic Fibers moved to Denison and I want some yarn shopping

- a Michaels' franchise opened up and I have not been able to go there yet

It won't be this weekend and might not be next; I'll have to see how the knee goes, but I'm promising myself I can do it SOON.

So things are looking up. I just have to remember to be careful of the knee a while longer.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Picking back up

 Thursday I give my first exam, and I realized I needed some simpler knitting for invigilating. I thought about starting a new sweater (I have a couple simple patterns I want to do) but hunting very much in my stash is not possible right now (not very accessible given my having to use a cane - it's stacked in tubs in a closet and pulling them out would hurt me)

So I pulled Chalcedony out again, which really - it makes more sense to finish an in-progress sweater. So I started on the upper left front. (That remains, plus the upper right front, then the sleeves, then the front bands)

Other than that, I am just frustrated with my knee. It still hurts. Oh, it hurts less, and it's now more stiff than painful, but I wish it were better and I worry that (a) I will either still need surgery (I don't WANT surgery, I don't want to be laid up and unable to take care of myself for weeks - how do I do that? I have no one to come stay with me, I can't expect my mother to travel this far) or (b) it will never get better and I won't ever be able to hike again, or even do fieldwork or field trips with my classes and maybe I just have to retire.

The frustrating thing is I'll get a couple hours in the middle of the day when the pain really subsides, and I think "oh thank goodness it's finally over, maybe" and then I do something I need to do, and the pain comes right back.

Like today. I went home at lunchtime and sat with my feet up for a while and got up and thought "fantastic, I can prep the lab for Thursday because I feel so much better." This was involved because I had to get stuff from the herbarium, which is on the ground floor, and get it to the lab room, which is on the second floor at the back of the building - one floor up BUT there is no elevator (I do not know how my university got that past ADA, other than that there's a handicapped parking space and accessible doors on each level, so the answer is "just drive to where you need to be" or if you're a little more mobile you can take a ramp outside the building and go across a lawn to get from the back door to the front (I would not want to, not right now - there's a kind of steep section). 

So, I had to park near the herbarium and get the specimens into boxes, and then carry the boxes out (They were heavy and hard to manage with the cane, too, and I got my left foot hung up in it once). Then I had to drive them around, temporarily park and unload them in the lab back door, then go park for real, go back in the building, and set up the specimens. I got out the slides for the students to look at but then I walked to the microscope cabinet and realized there was no safe way for me to carry the heavy compound microscopes to the desk - not with using a cane (you need both hands to carry a scope). At that point I was in a lot of pain, and I thought, well, I COULD take the time and clear out one of the carts we have and load the scopes on the cart, and roll them to where they have to be. But I was tired, and in pain, and it was nearly 4 pm so I gave up.

Also, working in the herbarium I had to twist a bit to put the folders down into the boxes, and I realized that twisting a little on that knee is painful. As is backing up. Walking straight forward is the easiest, especially if I can take my normal stride length. Short steps are harder. 

I did e-mail a student who had offered some help (he is a research student of a colleague) and said if he had time tomorrow, if he could help me get the scopes out, I would appreciate it.

To clean up lab, I can either ask the students to put the scopes away or maybe I'll have the ability to clear off a cart to put them away. Lugging the herbarium sheets back will be another matter but maybe I do them in more trips than I took today.

I think I also slept badly last night - I had some pain and I tried to sleep with not propping my leg up (which is a pain to do, and I don't like sleeping on my back, I'm a side sleeper) and I think I did maybe get a little inflammation over night and I know I was awake several times to check the time on my phone (which I am now using as my alarm clock, because I can slot it between two books on my bedside bookshelf and have it more easily accessible than the old tape/CD/radio I had been using. I think I was also worried about getting the herbarium sheets today

(And dangit, I just realized I forgot to get an example of Taxus for them to look at. Well,, maybe if I stop off to check if my Friday exam came back from the copy shop, and have to drive down there any way)

But I am very weary of being mildly disabled, and very frustrated at the designs of some things (even the accessible stall in the women's room near my office isn't very, thanks to a door that opens IN to the stall, so if you're a bigger woman trying to use a cane it's hard to navigate)

It's been not quite three weeks, so not quite halfway to the minimum estimate I was given for sprain healing, and I suspect I am making things worse and slowing my healing because I can't be as sedentary as I'd like, and I don't have a good chair to sit in over at work (they are all too low, and there's no way to elevate my leg). And I don't want to complain too much or ask for lots of help because we're already stretched thin; another colleague is out doing chemo (the good news is it's early-stage, and a very curable form of cancer) and everyone is working to get his classes covered. And of course we "run lean," like almost every smaller state school these days, where we really don't have enough people. (This is another worry if I'd have to have surgery: no one to cover my classes while I was out. I would probably have to wait until summer and have  a more complicated surgery as things would have healed wrong. I am REALLY hoping the lack of any instability - the fact I just have pain - is an indicator nothing is too badly torn. The x-rays showed no bones out of place....the pain does kind of move around and I think if it were clearly a broken ligament it would just be in one spot.)

Monday, January 29, 2024

And some reading

 I finished "Uncle Bernac" (Arthur Conan Doyle) last night

I am not sure how I feel about it. It sets up a bit like a suspense or thriller novel, where you're dropped into the action with very little backstory (which makes it interesting because you have to figure out what's going on along with the protagonist). Then it shifts to Napoleon's headquarters and I admit all the advisors and hangers-on kind of confused me, I couldn't keep the names straight as many of them were barely introduced.

It's also weird how de Laval (the protagonist) continues to exalt Napoleon even though (a) in the original Revolution, his family had to flee to England, and I always associate him with the French Revolution even if maybe he didn't do some of the very worst excesses of it and (b) Napoleon is a real piece of work, at least how Conan Doyle portrays him - capricious, authoritarian, probably unstable. He insults his wife (he says he can't stand fat women) and also cheats on her. He tells younger members of his court who they will marry - and that's part of the final twist and I guess he does an OK thing for once with that in one case.

But his whole "I want to control everyone's actions" and "I am free to insult whomever I choose" and "I can have giant sulks" remind me a bit of some, ah, modern-day politicians, and it wasn't super comfortable to read.

And yeah, I get it: Napoleon was a dictator and probably did have a lot of issues, but it makes for less than pleasant reading. 

It does end somewhat abruptly, and like I said, some plot lines are not very developed. Apparently it was part of a "saga" published in parts and maybe if you'd read the rest of it, it would feel more complete.

It was also sold as a "murder mystery" but while there's a murder, there's not really any mystery about it - de Laval and a couple of Bonaparte's soldiers witness it, so they know who did it (and why: the victim was regarded as an enemy).

I think the next book I start will be that one about the Moon that I posted a photo of the other day.

Friday, January 26, 2024

And it's Friday

 Felt better still today, though after I'm on my feet for a while that leg does start to hurt. 

I kind of had to laugh - my MD/PhD colleague (who is perhaps 10 years my senior and is from China) tends to check up on what's going on with people's health and today when he saw me going to get up using the cane, he looked sternly at me and said "which hand are you using?" and I quickly transferred it to my left hand (you're supposed to use it on the opposite side to the injury). It's easy to forget because I'm right handed.

He did say that since it hurt when I first stood up, but got better upon walking, it was most likely muscular, so that's reassuring. 

When I got home I thought maybe I felt good enough to do some cleaning (put away books I had just thrown into a laundry basket to get them out of the way so I had clearer paths- they had fallen off a stack on a shelf and I didn't have the energy to replace them, and also put away all the clothes I washed the night before). And I did this in part to be able to change the sheets on the bed - I had changed them right before leaving for Christmas break, didn't change them when I got back, and then I got the injury, so they've been slept on for at least three weeks. (Normally I like to change them every week or every other week when it's not allergy season). So I washed my shark sheets and cleared allllllllll the stuffies off the bed (that's what I needed the empty laundry baskets for, to hold them).

In retrospect: that might have been a bit of exertion as I had to really fight with the mattress topper - it had slid over a bit to one side, which made sitting on the side of the bed feel insecure (like you might fall off) and getting the fitted sheet wrestled on was hard. And then of course all the pillows and stuffed critters had to go back, but I got it done.

Tomorrow I might try to do more clean up, but I'm pretty beat now. 

And one finished item I totally forgot about (and found again when sorting stuffed animals from my bed

This is Hibiscus. She's made from Rachel Borillo Carrol's "Nilla the Unicorn" pattern. I used (if I remember correctly) the JoAnn's house brand worsted-weight in a peach color, and the mane and tail are Lion Brand's "Ice Cream"in Parfait (which I think now is a discontinued color). The hooves and muzzle, and the horn were scraps that were on hand at my mom's house.

 I intentionally kept the face simple - just lock washer eyes - because the way the pattern was designed with the white muzzle, it reminded me of the much-coveted Japanese "Osharena" pony - Takara's interpretation of the original My Little Ponies. (Apparently "osharena" means "fashionable")

You can see some of them here

I like how she came out; she does remind me of those ponies. Perhaps some day I will make her one of those simple gathered-at-the-neck dresses like some of those pony figures wear



Thursday, January 25, 2024

week's almost over

 Yesterday was long but at least it is easier to use the cane and the smaller brace. When I got home, a few packages of things I had ordered came, and were much easier to get off the porch. (A book that came while I was still on crutches, I had to push it into the house and scoot it over to a chair where I could sit and grab it off the floor).

One of the packages was.....more books. Bookshop was doing a discount for ordering a while back, and there were a couple books I wanted:

I'd never read James McBride before (that I can remember) but I read a review of this one and it looked interesting and I just want a diverting novel (I'm almost done with Uncle Bernac and admit I'm a bit burnt out on it, the protagonist keeps fanboying Napoleon and it's a little....much....)

The book on the moon is a popular science/humanities and science book, I saw someone talking about it on Bluesky (it's brand new) and I wanted to read it. And the Craeft book (about traditional craft) just seemed interesting. 

I didn't start any of them yet; I want to finish Uncle Bernac and I was knitting tonight on the second sock:

I got the heel turned and the gusset stitches picked up, and a few rounds of the gusset decreases done.

For next week, I have to figure out what to take as invigilating knitting - I give two exams at the end of the week. I'm not sure whether to consider pulling Chalcedony back out, or starting a new thing. (Or taking the Orchard and Vine scarf, maybe). I will have this weekend to consider it, I still need to be fairly sedentary to try to let my knee heal.

The other mail order item? A totally dumb comfort purchase but it amuses me. After the horrific wal-mart trip Tuesday (but before the better doctor's appointment), I saw a silly stuffed toy advertised. The person called it a Shorse but I had seen it before - and I think the place I bought it from (Randimals) was the originator - called the Hork. 

It is a hybrid horse/shark. Like I said: dumb and silly, but the Randimals site had a silly little video with the Hork "talking" to people and I am a sucker for that kind of thing (yes, I am a "crouton petter" from way back). Anyway, there was something dumbly appealing about it, and I like horses and also sharks, so I ordered one.

And amazingly - it's fulfilled through Amazon delivery - it came in ONE DAY

that is impossible for here. Even two-day shipped items can take a week.

But nope, I got home yesterday afternoon and there he was

I named him Bruce. Both because I think they nicknamed the shark in Jaws "Bruce" (IIRC) and also, the Hork in that ad speaks in an Aussie accent, and of course Bruce is the stereotypical Aussie man's name. (And there's that "Philosophy Department, University of Woolloomooloo" sketch from Monty Python). 

And Bruce fits as a name.

I kinda love Bruce; he's ridiculous and I like ridiculous things