January 2019

Tuesday 1: For us it’s Crappy New Year.

We are both “damaged goods”, but at least we’re both home, Julie is in a LOT of pain. For me, it only hurts when I cough, although now the sutures on my stomach are starting to itch. After doing up to 15 minutes of walking 4 times a day at the rehab facility, I have managed just 2 trips of 5 minutes here, mostly because it was too much hard work coming up the stairs, plus having to organise my meds, which took a lot more effort than it would have if I had been at full strength. The kitchen bench looks like a mini pharmacy.

I also got the full story on Julie’s injury. Not realising that the arm rest was about to fall off, she spun around to put her weight on it, but then it wasn’t there and she went straight down onto a pile of water bottles and other stuff. She said she heard a pop and thought, “That’s not good.”

For the record, here’s a map of most of my territory.

Thursday 3: Things move quickly round here. My initial walk of 14.5 minutes, which got me only as far as 32nd St and return, has been eclipsed already by one of 15 minutes to Pacific Ave and return, and today, a 16 minute walk up a partial incline to Colby Ave and then to 32nd St and back around the block.

Julie’s broken ribs continue to be a problem for her, specially getting out of bed, and even more so when she needs to pee. On top of that, I woke up several times last night and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t breathing when I did. Maybe I have sleep apnoea after all. Scared the hell out of me and I eventually just got up really early. And on top of that, I have sudden and explosive blood noses. Ugh.

Friday 4: We had a visit from my wonderful friends from work, Destiny and Heather. Heather spent the whole time on the floor, interacting with Buddy, and captured these pictures.

After that, they took me to the rehab unit so that I could collect my pillow and another spirometer, went off to buy some bolts for Julie’s chair, then took me home again. Thank you, my wonderful friends, for both the conversation and the assistance. Both arm rests on the chair have now been securely attached.

On that note, Julie is still in a lot of pain. To get her out of bed, I stand in a brace position and she uses my arm as an anchor to sit up, a bit the same as the top step on the stairs outside,

The spirometer is a device that tests the vacuum that I am generating when breathing in. Using it regularly helps to avoid pneumonia in my lungs.

Saturday 5: My walks are getting longer and/or stronger. Just a few days ago, 17 minutes took me 2 blocks and return. Today, the 4.5 blocks to Starbucks was less than 12 minutes, followed by North to the High School and back past Starbucks for 38 minutes. Later on, a walk to the South, 3 blocks down, then up a short but VERY steep hill (VERY slowly!) and back, 7 blocks altogether, was 30 minutes.

I usually get into a rhythm of 2 breaths in and 2 breaths out, with a step for each breath. Adjusting the length of my stride provides the adjustment of the intensity. Walks on flat ground are often striding out as far as I can reach. Up that hill was the same, except that the “stride” was about 3/4 of each foot. Coming back up the stairs is usually 2 to 3 cycles of breathing and step up on the out breath. Slow but very effective.

I was surprised this week to realise that my pain control is just 4 Tylenol for the day. That explains why the centre of my chest hurts sometimes.

Sunday 6: Today’s major foray, after a 30 minute walk to 37th and Colby with some gradients, was tackling 10 blocks north on Wetmore Ave to 23rd St, all flat ground, in preparation for walking to the appointment with the surgeon on Thursday. In all, returning the same way, was 50 minutes, which means the one way trip on Thursday will be 50 minutes, and I am now averaging 2.5 minutes per block. On the return trip, I came across this handsome chap enjoying himself.

Monday 7: Today was 36th and Rockefeller in just under 17 minutes, followed by Broadway and 32nd, with a substantial uphill gradient to finish, in just 26 minutes. I’m learning that it’s a great way to see the local neighbourhood.

Tuesday 8: Just 4 days ago, the girls drove me to and from the Providence Pacific campus, where the rehab facility is. Today, that was my first walk, West to Nassau Ave, North to Pacific Ave, and home.

I’ve been thinking as I walk about my breathing. When I’m jogging, I use the same rhythm, just a bit faster and covering more ground each time.

When the cardiologist’s office called to say that the form I need for a Short Term Disability claim was ready, and that instead of being at Silver Lake, they were just 9 blocks away, I thought, “Great, there’s my second walk for the day”. And the surgeon’s office called to bring Wednesday’s appointment forward to tomorrow, even better!

The walking for the day rounded off with another to the Providence Pacific campus, only this time, I went in, to ask what parameter the cardiologist would be looking for – number of walks, time per walk or total time. The answer was “total time”. At least now I know.

Wednesday 9: Today’s effort was a 47 minute walk to the hospital for a follow-up visit with the surgeon. He was delighted with my progress and explained to me just how much work he had on me, including scraping away a lot of calcium deposits between the aortic and mitral valves. He removed the sutures and we talked about the claim form from yesterday, which states that I should be OK to return to work on Feb 15. He said for my job of needing to lift 50 pounds, it would be more like the middle of March, and also that I could now drive again. Apparently, that restriction is placed just in case I got into an accident with a seat belt impacting on my chest – VERY messy. With one long walk already under my belt, I caught an Uber home.

Meanwhile, Julie has her brace off for most of the day, which is an improvement, she says her pain is a consistent 4 to 6. I guess that’s an improvement from when it was 8 to 9.

Thursday 10: On the way home from my second walk, I found that I needed to jog a little to keep up with the breathing intensity that I need to be at.

Friday 11: Today saw some new territory. South down Wetmore Ave until it ran out, then go East for a few blocks, winding around the top area of the stadium, and home via Rockefeller Ave and 33rd St.

Again, I needed a few bursts of jogging to lift the breathing rate.

Even better, I can now walk up the stairs normally, although timing the steps with appropriately heavy breathing.

Saturday 12: On a lighter note, I managed to catch the sunrise this morning.

For today’s walk, I went West on 33rd St as far as I could go. I found Rucker Park, donated to Everett City after the brothers made their fortunes establishing what they originally called Port Gardner, which was later swallowed by Everett. The view overlooking the park, all the way to the Cascades.

Then further up the hill, and on the way down a stunning view of the Navy Base.

Just a little further to looking back (up) at Rucker Mansion.

I thought I’d better check in with the surgeon’s office about the jogging. When the doctor’s assistant called back and I asked the question, her response was, “NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. Your job right now is to heal your chest. You need to stick to the sternal protection regime.” OK, then. Clearly the purpose of the walking is to get me moving and keep me moving, allowing the heart and lungs to recover and strengthen. This phase finishes at the end of January and I’m guessing I can start on the fitness work after that.

Sunday 13: Today’s effort was North to Pacific Ave, then as far West as I could go. OK, if I can’t jog, then at least I can power walk, with appropriate heavy breathing. It was cold and despite the sun shining, I didn’t have enough layers on, but I was certainly warm when I got home. It was 40 minutes, returning via Hewitt Ave, but it would have taken nearly an hour at the regular pace. I slowed down for the last 2 blocks to cool down a bit before tackling the stairs.

Next trip was South to 37th St, looking to go East to Broadway, but I kicked in the power walking too quickly and had to back off and be happy with returning on Oakes Ave. Still, another 20 minutes on the board.

I’ve just put a map towards the top of this post for your reference.

Monday 14: For today’s jaunt, I made the target of Broadway and 37th this time, and came home on Broadway and 33rd, taking nearly 40 minutes. I must have gone somewhere else, but have no recollection of where, and I logged 22 minutes. Whatever it takes, right?

I was very pleased to receive this picture of my team at CenturyLink Field. Pity I’m not in it, but it is what it is.

Tuesday 15: I needed more information on the Cardiac Rehab at Providence, and the best way to get there was to walk. What took me 47 minutes just 6 days ago, took me less than 37 minutes today. And even more surprising, I thought I was slowing down a bit on the way back, but it was right on 37 minutes, including getting back up the stairs. Go figure.

The answer is that I have a Rehab Orientation on Tuesday 22 and a Rehab Evaluation on Thursday 24.

Tuesday 15: Today’s walk was a random choice to go South on Colby Ave. Then I realised that I would easily make it to the chiropractor at 44th and Rucker, so I headed that way. Fortunately, Rob was able to squeeze me in, so I walked out feeling adjusted. Home via Rucker Ave, just in time to head out in the car for an appointment with the cardiologist. Got to his office in Silver Lake to find that he was operating from the Hoyt Ave office. Dashed back to there (which is only a short distance from home), to find that there was no appointment for me, because he was consulting at the hospital today. It looks like once the surgeon has worked on you, then he takes over from there on. I recall someone saying that, but it wasn’t confirmed. At least now I know who’s in charge of my care.

Wednesday 16: Hmm. I walked somewhere, because I logged 30 minutes and 28 minutes. As I recall, it was fast.

Thursday 17: Today was SLOW. Included in it was a walk DOWN into the Forgotten Creek Natural Area. The signs says, “You are trespassing it you leave the improved trail.” Wow, if that’s improved, I’d hate to see the original.

Still, further down there was an area where you can sit in the creek bed.

At the end of the trail, I came across a small park area that looked like a tiny railway station, right next to the train line. I was going to hang around for a while because I heard a train somewhere up near the Everett Station, but it was getting cold and wet. Then further up on the walk, only about 5 minutes later, there was a train going that way. Oh well. All up, the walk was an hour.

Friday 18: Today’s walk was a relatively slow one (again) West to Rucker Ave and North for 30 minutes, which took me to 22nd St, then return to Wetmore Ave and home.

I had been invited by Mike to go with him and Duncan to Wenatchee to watch Duncan play in a tournament. In preparation, I dug out my camera (not the one on my phone) and tested it. Yep, it works.

We headed out on Highway 2 through Stevens Pass and Leavenworth. I reckon these pictures are rather good, given that they have been taken from a moving vehicle.

The hotel room is nice (and warm) and we’re just chillin’.

Saturday 19: Today’s walk, after the first game, was a VERY slow 1-hour effort, Southwest down to Riverfront Park and back along the river for a while. There is old snow pushed up into piles all over the place, and the town is surrounded by snow covered hills.

This is part of the view from the hotel lobby.

Actually, I had a long conversation with my brother Kevin when I called him for his 70th birthday, and we agreed that even the power walking is probably pushing it too hard at this time, so I have decided to back off and continue at a slower pace, and allow the healing to happen at its own rate.

Sunday 20: I was excited to receive via an email from Paul, a picture of Simon and Paul together for the first time in ages.

Today’s walk was South to Ninth St, then over to the river path, following it North to the ice rink. Hmm, this line is going to have to make a turn somewhere up there!

Geese on the river. Shortly afterwards, the front squadron (on the left) all started honking, then they all took off.

Forget about yellow snow, beware the green snow!

Looking out over a part of the River Park.

Just a few on the MANY action shots taken. Duncan is number 2.

Unfortunately, Duncan’s team managed only a tie after 3 games, so they will playoff for last place tomorrow morning. Edit: we ended up not playing that team.

Meanwhile, a partial view from our balcony.

Monday 21: I received this from April in an email, Her comment was, “I didn’t realise how HUGE they are!!!! OMG!!!!”

The boys played Seattle Junior for 7th and 8th place, and managed a 6-3 win!

On our way out from the ice rink, we both spotted the sunrise on the mountain, and Mike pulled the car off into a space, so we could both get some pictures.

On the way out on the highway, we also both spotted this picture, and he slowed down a bit while I managed to capture it reasonably well while on the move.

Tuesday 22: I attended the Cardiac Rehab orientation today, an introduction to the rehab program, its benefits and conditions. I’m actually looking forward to that. It starts on Feb 28, runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday until Mar 8. Based on that, I might be back at work on Mar 11.

Wednesday 23: Today was back to walking, a meandering route through downtown Everett for nearly an hour. With everything else going on, it was enough.

Thursday 24: For the record, this is how I keep track of days. There are 7 pages in the stack, one for each day, and I put the top one on the bottom each morning.

Today’s event was Cardiac Evaluation. I had a one-on-one with a trainer, who took me through the various exercises that I will need to know, including warm-ups that I never usually do. Perhaps it’s time to start! On the treadmill, I managed to briefly push it up 2.5 mph (4 kph), still walking. Was pretty chuffed with that!

Also received some pictures from April, of a Dreamliner being assembled, from her vantage points.

Her comment here was, “Did you know it has Foot pedals just like a car? My reply was, “Well yeah. How else would they control the ailerons? And brakes? With all the technology, some things don’t change.”

Friday 25: Took the Dodge in for a regular service. After checking with me, they then tuned the engine and replaced the plugs, flushed the power steering system and replaced the fluid, and flushed the transmission and replaced the fluid. Of course, I had only expected to be there for an hour or so, and was not dressed warmly enough for the walk I took to pass the time, so I almost froze out there in the biting wind!

The good news is that the med to keep my blood pressure and pulse rate under control, that ran out over a week ago, is now back in my collection, and both have dropped about 20 points, to much more acceptable levels. I no longer wake up with my pulse pounding in my ear!

Saturday 26: Oops, I forgot Australia Day, which was pretty much over by the time I woke up anyway. Today’s walk was North on Wetmore Ave, turn around and come home, at least at a slightly better pace than the previous few days.

Sunday 27: Today’s walk was East on 33rd Ave to Everett Station, then across the pedestrian bridge over the railway lines. A view of the station from the other side.

On the way North after that, I could hear a train siren from the Pacific Ave crossing, which meant that it was probably coming my way, so I got myself set up for a video. Here’s the finished product.

Monday 28: Wow. No walk today, took Julie to counseling at the VA Centre instead. Than went to my first CHIP (Comprehensive Health Improvement Program) class, which is designed to make me a vegan over the next 6 weeks, followed by my first Rehab Exercise session. Lots of stretches and upper body exercises, and then onto the treadmill. Still walking, but they kinda gave me some leeway to get my level of difficulty up to a 5 (Hard), on a 12-point scale from 1 (Dead Easy) to 12 (Damn Near Impossible). Consequently, I managed to crank it up to 2.8 mph for 2 sessions of 2 minutes each, with a 2-minute breather at 2.5 mph in between, plus warm up and cool down segments. All of this was spread over 15 minutes, followed by some more stretches. By now, I couldn’t be bothered with sitting on a chair for the quad and calf stretches, I just reached down and did them standing up!

Tuesday 29: I now have a new rhythm. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are class and exercise days, so not much else gets done on those days. Today’s effort was Pacific Ave to Broadway, call in at the pharmacy at QFC to check on a medication refill, and home via Everett Ave and Wetmore.

Wednesday 30: The day has not started well. I have been vomiting with diarrhea since 1 am, something to do with some leftover seafood pasta. Over 6 hours later, and the tentative application of anti-diarrhea meds, it’s not letting up! And this from someone who NEVER gets sick. So much for my goal of getting up to 3 mph while walking on the treadmill today.

Thursday 31: The conclusion from yesterday was that I had picked up a 24 hour bug.