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Surgery # 11 – Update

The torn tendon in my elbow was fixed yesterday.

This was the last surgical step in rebuilding the catastrophe called “my arm.”

I’m not going to lie, this was not a fun procedure to go through.

(That’s “polite speak” for saying – it hurt/s like hell!)

My doctor informed me the tear was bigger than expected.

The MRI showed a “moderate” sized tear and I guess it was just plain “big.”

I suppose that explains why it has interfered so much with my life.

Anyway, my doc felt like it was a very successful procedure.

He expects I’ll experience a good result once I get through the healing process.

Personally, all I know is that it’s very painful right now.

(What is it about elbows?  Nerve sensitivity?)

Today, I intend to just rest, ice my arm, and nap as pain meds allow.

My arm is immobilized in a splint/brace/thingy.

I feel like this whole thing is a step backwarrd.

But, I know doing this now –

While I’m recovering from a major shoulder rebuild,

Is truly the right thing to do.

And now, if you’ll excuse me,

I’m off to take a nap!

 

 

 

 

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New Puppy?

Today, my elbow (with the torn tendon) is being fixed.

I’m not at all excited about it.

(But yes, I do want it over with.)

It’s really difficult to subject myself to pain when I’ve *just discovered* a new life of not living with “that” horrible shoulder/arm pain.

Unlike the big surgery six weeks ago, this will be an outpatient procedure.

I’ll be home before the end of the day.

(Although, I’ll probably need to sleep off the drugs for a  week  bit.)

If I can, I’ll post a brief update sometime tomorrow to let you know how things went.

In the meantime, I wanted to let you know some BIG news!

Fred is expecting a little brother to arrive in, approximately, one week.

I had no intention of getting another puppy right now, but blah, blah, blah ….

Poof!

NEW PUPPY!!

The new puppy was named by someone other than me, but I plan to keep his current-already name.

Are you ready for this?

His name is FRANK.

Yes, that’s right –

I will have FRANK and FRED living with me.

For complicated reasons, I won’t be sharing a photo of Frank here on the blog quite yet.

But, I can tell you this about Frank …

•  Frank is/was “the pick” of his litter.  He’s absolutely gorgeous by dog standards.

•  Frank is a Newfie like Fred.  (I believe they’re even distant cousins.)

•  Frank is a landseer Newfie which means his body is primarily white with a mostly black face and black splotches on his body.

•  Frank has an ADORABLE white splotch on his nose.

•  Fred will be overjoyed to have a live-in playmate.  Giant dogs need giant friends.

•  I could have brought Frank home already, but I didn’t for two reasons.  First, I’m having serious construction done at my house this week.  Adding a puppy to the mix of loud noise, loose splinters and nails, etc., just didn’t seem like a good thing to do to a puppy.  Puppies need a smooth transition away from their dog-mom and siblings.  Second, my doctor told me my arm will be quite sore for a few days after today’s tendon repair.  Waiting an extra week allows me to get over the hump with my arm.  I realize I’m missing some of Frank’s adorable puppy stage by doing this, but I it’s definitely for the best.

•  I don’t expect Frank to be as big as Fred.  He’s much smaller than Fred was at the same age.  Also, Fred is much bigger than even “big” male Newfoundlands.  Anything is possible, but the expectation is Frank will grow to be a normal sized Newfie.  (Still a giant breed dog, but not super-sized like Fred!)

•  I did post a photo of Frank to my Instagram family.  (It’s a much smaller group than Facebook and/or 24.)  If you follow me on Instagram you may have already seen it.  If not, I’ll have lots of puppy photos to share here next week when Frank arrives home.

If you have a chance today, please send positive vibes my way.

Let’s hope, by the end of today, my body is free of all torn and damaged tendons.

I can’t wait to be healed and busy living life again!

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Miscellaneous Stuff

I’m having a very busy week.

It’s pretty ironic since I’m still not able to do much of anything, and yet –

It’s true.

I was at an Angels baseball game last weekend.

Last night, I was at the Duck’s playoff game – Game 7!!

(So sad … they lost!)

My tendon repair (elbow) is scheduled for next Tuesday.

(I’m not going to lie … I am not looking forward to it.)

I’m at physical therapy a few times a week.

(I’m going to just move in and live there after my elbow tendon repair.)

I’m also, of course, trying to keep up with all the normal stuff like haircuts for me, for Fred, etc.

On top of all the daily stuff, there’s a little added pressure in my life.

I’m not working right now … other than, of course, selling prints from my gallery.

(No assignment/project/corporate work because my arm needs time to recover.)

And, something I haven’t mentioned publicly prior to this is ….

My workaholic husband was laid off from his job the morning after we returned from New Zealand.

(It was nothing he did wrong … just financial issues at a very small, start-up, company.)

Yes, that’s right …

I’m living in a no income household.

Sound fun?

It’s been a very odd, very transitional, couple months in my life.

I have total confidence it will all work out for the best in the end.

Already, I know the majority of my pain has been taken away.

I will forge ahead with the long recovery, and the elbow repair, and the recovery for THAT.

I’m focused on going back to work in a few months … with much less pain,

I’ll be able to shoot more frequently and for longer periods.

I think, given time, my husband will find himself in a work environment he enjoys more than his previous situation.

It will all be good.

Patience, patience, patience!

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And, The Latest …

A lot of *stuff* is going on in my life right now.

And, I’m going to blog about a lot of it.

I don’t intend to bore you with post after post about my arm.

BUT IT’S PRETTY AMAZING WHAT’S HAPPENING AND I CAN’T SEEM TO HELP IT!!

I’m pretty sure Paul Newman is even MORE excited than I am about my arm.

He’s the one who pushed me (for around three years?) to risk one more surgery.

(Ten surgeries just sounds better than nine surgeries?)

He’s now floating around on a cloud of happiness/excitement when he works with me.

“Look!” he exclaims.  “Look how far I can move your arm ALREADY!!”

I glance at my arm.

“Oh, look what you’re doing!” I answer.  “I didn’t realize because I didn’t FEEL ANY PAIN!”

And then we giggle like school children.

Giddy with joy?

Absolutely!

After a joyful PT session yesterday morning,

I drove up to L.A. to see Dr. Yoon (often referred to as “The Guru” or “Dr. Guru”) with Kerlan Jobe.

He was awesome.

(Hindsight:  Why didn’t I travel up to L.A. and go to Kerlan Jobe right after the car accident??)

After reviewing all my records, Dr. Yoon informed me my elbow (tendon) tear will not heal on its own.

I was worried he’d suggest waiting until my shoulder is recovered prior to addressing my elbow.

But, instead, he and I were like-minded.

He wants to work on my elbow as soon as possible so it can be healing at the same time as my shoulder.

It will not be easy for me to manage two incapacitated body parts at the same time.

But?

It will make the rehabilitation process shorter if I’m doing two body parts almost-simultaneously rather than consecutively.

Today, I’ll be working with his assistant to get all the insurance approvals, etc. so we can get the procedure booked as soon as possible.

What will he be doing to me?

He’ll make a relatively small incision near my elbow and then go in and take out the torn/damaged parts of the tendon.

I imagine it will be pretty painful for the first several days afterwards.

I believe I’ll be immobilized for about six weeks, but Paul Newman will still be able to work with my shoulder.

Yes, I’ll have two body parts for him to work on … which means I’ll be pretty much living at PT for awhile.

Maybe I’ll just keep a spare toothbrush there?

Dr. Yoon told me it will take quite awhile to heal … months.

But, my shoulder will take months too.

I guess, 2016 is the year when I’ll get my entire disaster of an arm as improved as it can be.

When will I be able to shoot?

Well, that depends.

I’m using my Sony point and shoot camera for casual/fun/Fred photos right now.

I might not be able to use even that for a couple weeks post-elbow?

I need to be cleared for approximately 5 pounds of weight before I can use my Canon with some of my smaller lenses.

I don’t think anyone knows exactly when that will be.

I’m hoping to be cleared for light shooting by summer.

From the day I scheduled Surgery #10, I’ve hoped to be shooting (at a reduced level) by summer.

It seems so far away.

How can I possibly make it that long?

But, then I remind myself, what’s happening right now is LIFE CHANGING.

It’s a classic case of short term pain for long term gain.

I can do it.

It’s already SO worth it.

My new life motto is:

Patience, patience, patience!

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Monday Morning

I’m nervous.

I’m excited and scared all at the same time.

My life seems to be changing at warp speed …

And, impossibly slow at the same time.

(Did you know you can’t complete surgical rehab in three days even if you want to?)

Sometimes you feel the universe tilt and it takes awhile to get your bearings.

That’s where my life’s at right now …

My universe has tilted; I don’t have my bearings yet.

I think all sorts of wonderful is ahead of me, but maybe it’s not.

I feel like I’m on the edge of a new beginning,

But, maybe I’m just succumbing to blind optimism and should know better?

I saw my surgeon on Friday.

He works at a huge practice and has approximately 3-4 minutes with each post-surgery patient.

I spend more time with his Fellow (who I love) than with him.

I didn’t want a doctor with time constraints like that, but I realize now, I finally got the best surgeon for my not-normal-very-complex situation.

What matters is what he did for me in the surgery, not how much time he has for holding my hand after.

But?

He’s ecstatic, and thrilled, and amazed, at my results.

He told me on Friday, I’m a “superstar.”

He said I am the “biggest transformation” of his career.

Before Surgery #10, every medical professional I encountered was puzzled, and overwhelmed, with the complexities of my case.

Now, everyone is stunned, and amazed, at how well I’m doing.

Who has a major surgery and doesn’t want/need pain meds afterwards?

What no one seems able to understand is the pain I feel post-surgery is a bazillion times less than what I’ve lived with every moment of my life for the last Almost-Ten-Years since the car accident.

The post-surgery pain from a surgery like mine is overwhelming for most people,

But for me?

It’s a VACATION from the absolute hell I’ve lived in.

Without ever having experienced how BAD that pain was,

How can they possibly understand how WONDERFUL my post-surgery reality is?

I’m afraid I’m dreaming this new reality?

I want to cry tears of joy.

Even if my arm never, ever, WORKS, I’m so happy with the pain relief ….!

And, given time, my arm should work …

Although, only time will tell how well.

I feel like I should be angry at The Surgeons Who Came Before and failed to fix me.

But, I’m not angry.

I don’t want to waste one moment of my life on negativity, because I’ve been given a miraculous respite from hell.

I’m too busy rejoicing in my new reality.

I don’t want to look back with “Why did this happen to me?”  “I lost ten years of my life,” type thoughts.

My surgeon also expedited an appointment for me with his colleague, “The Guru of Medicine,” regarding the tear in my elbow.

I’m seeing Dr. Guru this afternoon.  (!!!)

He’ll be reviewing my MRI and X-Rays and then determine what is the best approach for my elbow given The State of My Arm.

I don’t *think* he’ll be doing anything to me on this first visit.

I’m out of my sling now, but I’ve been warned to be extremely cautious with my arm.

(“Don’t fall no matter what!!”)

I keep chanting to myself, “Take it slow, don’t rush the recovery.”

But …?

I’m SO EXCITED!

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Fred Friday

I took Fred to a beach neighborhood for a walk yesterday.

He decided he didn’t want to walk more than a block or two.

Newfies are like that sometimes.

They have very strong opinions about what they want, or don’t want, to do.

“Let’s just rest in the shade!”  Fred The Newf, 17 months old.

Happy Friday from Fred!

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Ho Hum!

On Friday I’ll be seeing my surgeon up in Los Angeles.

It will be my Not Quite Six Week, But Almost Six Week Check-Up.

I don’t know exactly what will happen, but I’m hoping I’ll be told I don’t need my sling anymore.

I’m also hoping he clears me to see his doctor-friend-colleague regarding the tendon tear in my elbow.

(Yes, my elbow still REALLY hurts and it keeps locking up and getting “stuck!”)

I have some angst over having my elbow fixed, but I’ve got the biggest surgery behind me now.

I need to just power through and get the rest taken care of (as soon as possible!) so I can get back to work.

The other day I asked Paul Newman if he will miss me once I’m all better.

After all, he’s been seeing me for YEARS now and I’m pretty sure he’s gotten VERY attached to  me  my antics.

(OK, maybe not?!)

Paul Newman, however, tells me he doesn’t think I’m going  away ever  anywhere very soon.

Hmmph!

In the meantime, I continue to play with paint, pencils, crayon and other kindergarten type things.

The fun thing about Mixed Media, is there really is no “wrong way” to play.

AJFlowers © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Mixed Media Pages In My Art Journal

On the art journal pages shown in the above photo, I painted some flowers in a coloring book with watercolors and then cut them out.

The background was done with Neocolors, stamps, ink, and some acrylic paint.

Black twine makes the stems on the flowers.

(Oh, and the snail was done in colored pencil.)

I also worked on another “background” recently.

I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing on top of it as a focal point, but I do like how the background turned out.

AJCircles © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Background Page for Mixed Media Art Journal.

The above background is an old dictionary page which I tore out.

The circles were painted with varying colors of acrylic – and they were painted “sloppy” intentionally.

I left it out in the hot sun to dry which yellowed the paper … making the dictionary page look even older than it is.

I’ll adhere the page to a journal page.

Eventually, I’ll hopefully come up with a good focal point to create on top of it.

I work that way in my art journal a lot.

Some days I just play with backgrounds.

It might be a month later before I come back and paint a focal point.

Details might be added even later.

I don’t ever seem to do a page start to finish in one sitting.

My art play just evolves organically.

Did I mention my house is a total disaster right now?

On my kitchen counters and table,

I have pots of paint, mason jars filled with brushes, stacks of papers, tubs of gesso, containers of rubber stamps, ink pads, etc., etc.

It’s a colorful mess!

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Random Tuesday

Hello, hello!

I’m not doing a very good job of blogging post-surgery.

I thought I’d share a few random things today.

•  Today is my Five Week Post Surgery Anniversary.  Yay!  Only one more week of The Evil Sling!

•  I find myself “cheating” and taking the sling off more and more – especially since it has been so hot lately.

•  It was 90F/32C at my house yesterday.  It’s just the very beginning of spring, right?

•  I’m gradually becoming more social as I feel better.  I tend to be an introverted homebody when I’m not traveling, but I’ve had as much “home” as I can stand these last five weeks.  Thank goodness I’ve been able to get together with girlfriends for lunches, and happy hours, and every other excuse I can think of.

•  I’m also finding I can do a few minor/easy things I couldn’t do the first five weeks.  Like brush my teeth with my right hand.  It’s the little things!!

•  Fred is doing great.  He loves having me home with him.  I took him to the beach in the evening last Saturday.  Fred got a lot of attention.  People and other dogs flock to him.  He had perfect dog-manners.  I was so proud of him.  He’s really maturing.

Fred The Newf (17 months old) enjoying the ocean view.

•  During a neighborhood walk, a young boy walked up to Fred with a dog he’d been hired to “dog walk.”  The boy wanted to meet Fred because everybody always wants to meet Fred the Giant Newfie.  The stranger-dog lunged at Fred AND BIT FRED!!  (Blood!!!)  Fred will be okay, but I was so angry.  If you have a dog who bites, why would you walk up to another dog like that?  And, if you’re a dog owner, why would you let a neighborhood boy walk your dog without warning him your dog bites other dogs?  And no, Fred did NOT bite back.  Did I mention I’m still angry?

•  I’ve been watching Daredevil when I have time in the evenings.  Honestly?  I mainly watch for the scenes Charlie Cox appears shirtless.

•  Now that I’m allowed to drive, and I’m feeling better, I might start making some trips up to L.A. museums.  I’m trying to come up with ways to keep myself amused until I can shoot again.

•  I’m also art-play obsessed lately.  I guess mixed media projects have temporarily replaced shooting as my creative outlet.  I wonder how long it will be until my doctor clears me to hold a camera?  Weeks?  Months?  I can’t wait!

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Boredom Busters

I never realized how fast pace my daily life is until this surgery.

I’m having a REALLY hard time adjusting to Forced Relaxation.

(In other words, I’m going crazy trying to keep myself amused.)

Every day I make myself a “green smoothie.”

Usually, the one smoothie becomes both my breakfast and lunch.

It’s something I can make with one hand and it’s VERY filling.

Typically, it includes kale and/or spinach, almond milk, protein powder, plain greek yogurt, some type of fruit, matcha for lots of antioxidants, etc., etc.

A nutrient-rich smoothie is just one of the ways I’m attempting to expedite my healing process.

(And it, or something I’m doing, must be working because my recovery has been really amazing so far!)

Showering and getting dressed (without my right hand/arm) takes forever so that eats up way more time in my day than it should.

I try to get a walk in every day – either by myself or with friends.

I’m reading a lot.  (I just finished Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams which is the second part of Susan Branch’s three-part trilogy.)

I’m watching  *some* TV in the evenings.

I’ve made color charts for all my various paint palettes – something I’ve been meaning to get done for ages.

I’m sketching things to paint once my arm is strong enough for painting.

Sketch1 © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Living Tree – Most of the time I don’t understand my own brain!

Rough sketches have to be good enough for now, because it’s all I can really do while wearing a sling.

Sketch2 © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

I already know how I’m going to paint her … and I can’t wait!

I think I’m going to embellish this next one with beads for her earrings, or maybe felt for her hat.

Sketch3 © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Practicing various outfits/hats/hair.

I’ve been sketching animals and buildings too, but I don’t have any photos of those yet.

Sketch4 © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

This will be a mixed media girl/fairy spread once it’s completed.

I’m also making watercolor “inksplot” people/creatures because they’re fun, and easy, to make even with one hand.

Ink1 © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

What can YOU make out of a random “inksplot” of paint on a page?

Yesterday, I went to the bookstore for MORE books.

I’ve purchased art books, nutrition books, novels, and every other subject book imaginable …

Including The Essential Rumi which I highly recommend getting in hardcover, if you don’t already have it.

I’m consuming books lately.

I guess I’m what many people consider a “speed reader.”

I wish, sometimes, I could slow down how fast I read.

I wouldn’t need so many books if it took me longer to read them!

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Four Weeks Post Op!!

Time is flying crawling by!

I’m four weeks post arm/shoulder surgery today.

I’m beginning to sneak a few fun things into my daily life.

About a week ago, I spent a great evening up in L.A., visiting with my daughter and some out of town friends.

I also went out and about with a few (local) friends for a few hours one night last weekend.

Fred and I went to a “Newfapalooza” – a Dog Party for about thirty (30!!!) Southern California Newfies on Sunday.

Newfapalooza3 © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

A picture of *some* of the Newfoundland Dogs – at Newfapalooza April 2016.

Do you remember the Dog Party in the book Go Dog Go?

I loved that book as a child and the Newfapalooza reminded me of the book.

Fred’s brain nearly exploded (in a good way!) at the sight of so many other giant dogs.

(He was the biggest Newfie there, and he’s not done growing yet!  Fred is a very big boy!)

Newfapalooza6 © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Fred The Newf is in front of the gentleman in the red sweatshirt. Happy dogs!

Fred had a great time at Newfapalooza, and then he came home and slept like the giant, loudly snoring, baby he is.

I had to be exceptionally careful with my arm around all those giant dogs, but I was

And, it worked out great.

I’m permitted to take my sling off when I’m watching TV/reading/relaxing on the couch at home.

I wear it whenever I “do” anything and/or leave the house.

I’m allowed to drive … sling off for driving, and back on when I get to my destination.

Some things are very difficult and/or impossible – like grocery shopping and cooking.

I’m still wearing legging-type pants so I can get them on and off with one hand.

Physical therapy hurts some, but it’s not bad.

My arm is already able to move more than it has for ten years.

(So ok, Paul Newman is moving it more than I am, but still …!)

It’s very exciting, and amazing, all at the same time.

I watch Paul Newman move my arm and I think, “Wow! Look at THAT!”

I’m pretty sure (since PT doesn’t hurt HIM)  Paul Newman is even more excited than I am.

My brain no longer fully understands how to control my arm …

It’s a re-learning process, but that’s to be expected after so many years.

The only time I seem to need pain meds is after PT which is very normal this early on.

I admit, I get frustrated because I want to do so much more than I can do.

I’ve waited for ten years to do many things.

And yes, I’d given up hope of ever doing most of them.

But now that some of those things *might* become a reality, I can’t seem to stand waiting one more minute.

I know I need patience …!

The hardest thing in the world right now is not being able to use my camera.

But, I keep telling myself, I will (hopefully) be able to use it so much more than I ever have once I heal.

Baby steps …!!