Sports Girl Is Recovering From Knee Surgery

All went well with Sports Girl’s knee surgery on Thursday. Things went so well, in fact, that the doctor said he wished he had been training a resident at the time; it seems she proved to be a textbook case for how and why to do this particular surgery.

I showed the doctor the diagrams I used to explain Sports Girl’s surgery in my previous post. Turns out I was spot on with my explanation — this is exactly what he did to Sports Girls. This and a “lateral release,” or the loosening of the lateral retinaculum, the tissue on the outside of the kneecap.

The surgery was done arthroscopically, so incision size was kept to a minimum. The doctor gave us some nice pictures of the inside of Sports Girl’s knee taken during the surgery. The good news is that her ACL and meniscus are in pristine condition. The bad news is that there was already some cartilage damage on the underside of her kneecap due to her kneecap sliding out of place. The doctor cleaned up the fraying and thankfully there weren’t any big  cartilage chunks floating around.

Besides pain and discomfort at the surgery site, Sports Girl struggles with nausea after taking her pain medications. She had a nerve block in her upper femur just prior to the surgery, and she 3+ days post operative, she is still experiencing some numbness and tingling in her leg and foot.

Sports Girls is wearing a long brace to keep her leg straight. She is to bend her leg 30 degrees during physical therapy exercises, but this isn’t much. She has her first outpatient physical therapy appointment tomorrow, and she has a follow-up doctor’s appointment next Monday.

Hopefully Sports Girl will write about her surgical experience from her point of view sometime soon. I’m sure her Christmas break from school is going to be quite boring as she spends the majority of her time either on the sofa or in bed with her left leg propped up on pillows and ice applied to her knee …

Thank Goodness for Grandmas!

Somehow it’s been almost a month since I’ve posted. For those of you wondering, I am still alive.

It took me the entire month of June to fully recover from my bout with pneumonia. I can’t believe how debilitating that experience was, but at least it’s over. I’m still puffing on a round purple disc of Advair twice a day, but that’s my only real physical reminder of my ordeal – that and the impending medical bills.

So now it’s probably going to take me through most of July or perhaps even longer to catch up on everything I had to abandon during June. I truly don’t know how I managed to get by last month when I was so physically limited. While Sportgirl and Handsome Hubby were both a tremendous help, my mother-in-law was the biggest help of all. I’m sure after all she did for me – caring for and chauffeuring my kids, cooking, laundry, etc. – the month of June must have passed in flash for her, as well.

These days even if the salary isn’t needed, many ranch wives have been forced to work off the ranch just to get health benefits. My mother-in-law hasn’t had to do this, and that’s been an incredible blessing for all of us because someone in the family is always in need of her help. From running parts for the ranch to cooking for the ranch workers to caring for grandkids, she is always ready and willing.

And if my mother-in-law couldn’t have helped, my mother would have been here instead. While she doesn’t live right here, she is also always ready and willing to help us when we need her. She’s actually coming out next week to watch Busy Toddler and to help around the house while I work on getting caught up.

All I can say is, “Thank goodness for grandmas.” What would we ever do without them?

Rain, Rain, Don’t Forget to Fall in August, Too!

We were pelted by hail up to 1" in diameter. Here is some of the hail sprinkled around our deck.

We were pelted by hail up to 1" in diameter. Here is some of the hail sprinkled around our deck.

It seems like the month of June has been nothing but rain around our country. We have received about 2″ of rain just this week already and it’s only Wednesday — 1.25″ in about an hour’s time on Monday!

Here are pictures of our deck on Monday with some hail sprinkled around the buckets of flower seeds Sports Girl planted. You can also see our driveway covered in water, and our shelter belt and newly planted grass soaked in water, as well. I also had Sports Girl take a picture of the rain gauge as further evidence. (I would have taken it myself, but I’m still on doctor’s ordered rest for the remainder of this week.)

The gravel portion of our driveway was completely under water.

The gravel portion of our driveway was completely under water.

In the distance you can see our shelter belt and newly planted grass are soaked by the rain.

In the distance you can see our shelter belt and newly planted grass are soaked by the rain.

The hard rain even came into our house as both skylights in the kitchen leaked. The girls and I must have collected a half inch of water in the bottom of an empty gallon ice cream bucket. The skylight in the master bathroom was cracked by the hail; the crack looks a lot like a rock chip in a windshield. It didn’t leak, but I’m sure we’ll have to replace it along with the other two.

I suppose all this means another visit from the insurance adjuster. We visited with him last year when a hail and wind storm severely damaged our roof — and it happened while we were away of vacation. At least this time we were home and able to minimize the interior damage.

The rain gauge recorded 1.25" of rain in about an hour on Monday, June 15, 2009.

The rain gauge recorded 1.25" of rain in about an hour on Monday, June 15, 2009.

I don’t think the rain or hail has damaged any of our trees or grass yet, and it’s probably actually been a real asset for us in that area. The thing is — history shows that it might rain and rain in June, but then it gets very hot and dry in July and August. So I just wish we could spread some of this around … I don’t want to be out watering trees too many times in 100+ degree temps!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch …

So my health has been an interesting situation. One that has kept me distracted since the end of May. I do believe I’m finally on the mend, and I hope to go home from the hospital tomorrow.

In the mean time, many things have happened in our country life. It was time to let the heifers and their calves into the pasture to eat the grass surrounding our home. Unfortunately, we had taken out the barbed wire fence to plant our trees, and we certainly didn’t want the cows trampling the little seedling trees.

We were undecided on what type of permanent fence we wanted to install, and time was critical, so we purchased and installed an electric fence. The heifers and calves were very curious about the fence and I think every one of them must have tested it out at least once. Each instance resulted in a startled critter jumping quickly away and sometimes bellering.  These “tests” would have made some great video – if I had had the energy to capture it. But it probably would have also drawn negative comments from more animal rights activists, so perhaps it’s just as well that I only have memories of the incidents.

A few times the cow or calf jumped the wrong way and went through the fence. They usually made their way back through the fence, but I think we had to help at least one critter out of the enclosed area. Thankfully, these animals seemed to learn fast as after about a week the fence malfunctioned for a couple of days while we were out of town, and yet all of the cows stayed away.

Besides the electric fence, Handsome Hubby planted the grass seed between our newly planted shelterbelt and our home. He and Sports Girl also planted a garden.

A couple of days later it started to rain. And rain. Even though the mud was a real pain to contend with, the moisture should certainly help all of our new vegetation to prosper. We can already see stalks of grass starting to sprout. Now if the temperatures would just warm up a bit.

The cows were moved on to the next pasture almost quicker than they were moved in, and now they are awaiting their ride to the woods in a semi-trailer. Handsome Hubby’s family has a few different permits from the U.S. Forest Service, and they summer the majority of their cattle in the Black Hills National Forest from mid-June until early October. The arrangement isn’t the most convenient, but it provides an additional source of grass while the family farms for next year’s feed.

We’re still using the electric fence to allow our flock of sheep to graze on a little grass while not worrying about them wandering away. At least now I don’t have to disable the fence and open a gate every time I come and go from home. That’s an inconvenience I really dread, but I try to be a good sport about it. I know how valuable that grass is for feeding those cows. And thankfully, I only have to do it a few weeks out of the year.

End of School Year Proves Hectic, Trees Are Planted

It’s been a while since I’ve posted – I apologize. My excuse? It’s the end of the school year, and life sure has been crazy.

Why is it busy for me as the end of the school year approaches? There have been many school events filling my evenings and daytimes these days including (but not limited to) a band concert, choir concert, piano recital, soccer games, open houses and field trips. On top of these, we are starting to get busy with our 4-H projects and our outside work around our place – caring for and working with livestock, mowing, watering, etc.

Conservation staff plants our trees while riding behind the small tractor.

Conservation staff stick our trees in the ground while riding on the planter behind the small tractor.

They came and planted the seedling trees last Thursday, May 14. Then they came back on Monday, May 18, and put the plastic down to keep the moisture in and weeds down. Handsome Hubby and Sports Girl watered each of the more than 300 trees last weekend. That was an arduous process, so tomorrow we are going to the home improvement stores to price supplies for a drip watering system.

Handsome Hubby needs to plant grass between the inside of the shelterbelt and our house, and we may even plant a little garden in some of the tilled ground this year. If we’re going to be watering and weeding, we might as well have a garden, too.

And so as school comes to a close at the end of next week, our farming efforts are just beginning.

Stuck At Home

It’s 10 p.m. Friday, and I have only left my house once since Sunday. It’s not uncommon for me to make two or more trips to town in one day, so this staying home thing is quite unusual for me.

I stayed home voluntarily on Monday to get some housework done, and I did go into town Tuesday to vote in the nation’s presidential election. But then Wednesday I was home with a vomiting and feverish Busy Toddler, and Wednesday night the blizzard hit.

The blizzard dropped about 6 to 10 inches of snow at our place. It’s difficult to determine exactly how much snow we received, because the ferocious wind blew it all around leaving tremendous drifts along with a few bare spots. But somehow most of the drifts ended up across our roads, which meant no school for our two older daughters on Thursday or Friday and no way for my husband to get to work, either.

Perhaps it’s due to the extra company I had Thursday and Friday, but I am handling my home-bound situation very well. I’m not going near as stir-crazy as I thought I might. In many ways, it’s been a treat not having to run kids back and forth to extra curricular activities around town. Sports Girl did have basketball practice Monday through Wednesday, but she had it early in the morning before school, and at those hours, Handsome Hubby handles the transportation duties.

Even though gas has come down to the low $2 per gallon range in my area, I know my staying home has saved us some money. I told my husband about my single trip to town this week. “That explains why we actually still have money in our checking account,” he said. But, I reminded him, it also explains our empty refrigerator and empty cupboards. Everything’s a trade off.

Staying home has also saved me time as a single trip to town and back takes me about 45 minutes with only one quick stop while I’m there. Usually I end up staying in town for at least an hour or two after I drop off the girls so that I can pick them in the same trip.

I might not even have left the house Tuesday to vote if my two older girls hadn’t insisted that they accompany me to the polls. I couldn’t deny them such a noble request, so I made a special trip into town to pick them up from school and go vote. It actually meant I had to wake Busy Toddler early from her nap, so it was a bit more of sacrifice than at first it might sound. But now I’m especially glad that I did, because otherwise I wouldn’t have left my house at all this week!

Someday I’m sure I’ll be writing about the three or four trips I made to town in a single day, but right now I’m happy to write about the oddity of staying home for most of a week. I wonder how many city folks have had that experience?