Thursday, May 28, 2015

Well... insert frustrated swear words and sobbing here-

I have to call my knee doctor tomorrow. More on that later. I know you've been waiting to hear about how the Janesville Ren Faire went, so I'm going to do that first, because I was happy there... it was a nice place to be...

The cortisone shot I got in my knee twenty-three days ago (which was about a week or so before the Janesville Faire) worked fantastically through the faire. My knees did not hurt. My only hurt was from my feet and all the standing and walking I had to do. My only hurt on Sunday was from my feet and a little of my lower back because my back was all whiny about having to stand and walk all day.

~Link to the Album of Janesville Faire Photos~

The first day, the heat was somewhat oppressive. It was humid as fuck out, too. I wore my blue "over-archer" bodice with one of the new blue skirts I sewed the previous week. (one skirt is mine, the other is Christine's). The over-archer style of bodice/corset has a collar on it (making it more Victorian than Elizabethan) and it meets in the back sort of in a halter-style (there's a row of grommets, laced like a tiny corset), so the collar bit just LAYS on your neck. Or, my neck. I had four layers of upholstery-weight fabric laying on my neck in the mid-80s temperature and one-billion intensity humidity. That pretty much guaranteed that I won't be wearing it to Bristol this summer.

But, here's a photo of me in the blue medallion over-archer.

Day 39 of Year 6: My, what a windy day!

And the back view of both my over-archers (blue medallion and "Captain Blood"- with the matching tie-on peplum).

Back of Over-archers

Now, they're gorgeous and I love-love-love the fabric and how the corset/bodice accentuates my curves (because, daaaaammmn, I have a great hip-to-waist-to-bust ratio, even as a fat girl). But with all that humidity, it was uuuugh. And, because it was supposed to rain on Sunday (spoiler, it didn't even rain!) I wore my burgundy courtier.  (here's a photo of me with Jeff, the super-awesome dude I know from the historical reenactor group called GSM-Bristol. They "host" the Janesville Faire).

Day 93 of Year 6- Jeff!

So, the faire itself was great. Sunday's weather was absolutely gorgeous and it was windy as hell, so the humidity wasn't an issue (I'd have worn my other over-archer had I known it would be that nice). My feet were the usual amount of tired and sore for a faire weekend. But, my fibro wasn't. I told many people that the "new" medicine "seemed to be working" because every time I rave about how good I feel, the medicine stops working. So, at the moment, generic Cymbalta for fibro seems to be holding its own.

On Sunday evening, when I got home from the faire, I had to carry in all my stuff. At the end of a faire day, I take off my bodice and my overskirt, so I end up having to carry my camera basket, my corset/bodice, my overskirt, and my utility belt (I call it that, it's the leather belt with pouches we all almost wear to faire, so we don't have to hand-carry every-fucking-thing). As I went up the steps, I felt my human knee twinge. It was like it was trying to twist itself.


I've spent the last week-ish gimping around, using my goddamn cane sporadically and generally being pissed off about the whole thing.

Saturday, a group of my son's friends asked if I'd take photos of them on their motorcycles, so I did. I was on my feet for almost two hours- my knee was so not happy about it at all. But, the photos were awesome and I even made a couple of the guys do my 365 with me. I haven't uploaded those photos to my Flickr yet, but here's a ~link to the Facebook album~

Day 99 of Year 6- ...and the boys

And then there's today. The "Get to that later" part I mentioned in the first part above.  At around 4 PM, I was walking upstairs to go to the loo (our bathroom is upstairs, and it's the only bathroom in the house and there's nowhere we could add a second one downstairs), and since the Twinge-Knee Incident of May 17th, I've been going up the stairs using only my cyborg knee. I got to the landing and shifted my weight to the human knee to put my cyborg leg on the step and BAM! Sheer, agonizing, blazing-white-hot pain shot through my knee like I'd slipped on the ice and wrenched the shit out of it. I started swearing and sobbing instantly. I shrieked to the Disabled Guy to get me my cane. I couldn't move. I couldn't do anything but sob and gasp in pain. And swear. I swore a lot.

After sobbing off most of my mascara (waterproof my ass) and actually getting to the loo, I managed to gimp my way downstairs where I starting icing my knee. A bottle of frozen-solid water behind my knee and a smooshy, bendy blue ice pack over the top and sides of my knee. I've also since taken a bunch of pain meds (because it was close enough to my usual time). There's still pain, but at least I can breathe now. Unfortunately, I'm too fat to know if my knee is swollen or not. I assume it is, it feels like it is.

So, tomorrow morning, I have to call and make another appointment. Clearly the cortisone didn't work.

Now... about those photos...

Here's a few favorites, with my absolute favorite first.

My favorite shot from the weekend-

The rest are in no particular order of favor.

GSM-Bristol, day 2 of the Janesville Faire

GSM-Bristol, day 2 of the Janesville Faire

Trying to talk about hats and Vinz is just...

Odorferious Thunderbottom and Loxen Bagel

The Sea Captains and their Adventures

The Sea Captains and their Adventures

The Sea Captains and their Adventures

GSM-Bristol, day 2 of the Janesville Faire

GSM-Bristol, day 2 of the Janesville Faire

GSM-Bristol, day 2 of the Janesville Faire

GSM-Bristol, day 2 of the Janesville Faire

Friday, May 8, 2015

These are things that happened today...

I had a long day. It got to the point where I could no longer wait... the lawn had to be mowed. It was 18 inches high in some areas. The chis would disappear for several seconds and then emerge on the other side, slightly confused and a little scared. Jasper would bound through it like a tiny,
derpy gazelle. So, I did it. I decided to mow the lawn. And these are some things that happened today.

My hair is long enough now that it can go into an actual all-up full-on ponytail.

I used the 110 SPF sunscreen that I got for this year's faire season.

Surprisingly, the lawnmower actually fired up. After six months of sitting in the shed, it turned over on a single pull.

The grass was so thick that the lawnmower stalled. A lot. I lost count at around twenty times. I couldn't go too slow, it would choke to death. I couldn't go too fast, because it would choke while not cutting anything.

When it stalled the second or third time, I couldn't get it to start again. I was sweating profusely. The sunscreen that boasted itself as "sweat-proof" and "won't run into your eyes" was sweating off my face and burning my eyes right out of their sockets. I took off my sunglasses and actually walked from the middle of my backyard into my house with my eyes closed. I knew exactly where the steps were, where the loose boards in the deck were, and the door inside. That's when I decided to take a break.

I went back outside, wearing the O'Hare Towing baseball cap that I stole from the Disabled Guy (to help control the sweat pouring into my eyes, bring all the sunscreen with it).

I did a few more slow passes in the deep grass and out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement on the deck. But it wasn't anything like birds or a squirrel. It was the goddamn flock of dogs! Somehow, smartypants Gypsy got the door open and all the dogs came out onto the deck to see what I was doing. I got them back inside (there was very little shade out there on the deck, I don't like to do that to them).

I managed to mow the lawn, despite the intermittent stalling.

I discovered with the inside of a golf ball looks like. Oh, and I found almost a dozen golf balls in the tall grass. I only saw the inside of one of the golf balls.

I was actually able to turn off my photographer's brain after the first ten or fifteen minutes. Every time I saw something, I thought: "I should get my camera before I mow this..." But, dammit, the lawn needed mowing and art would have to wait.

After another stalling, I took another break and drank two 16.9 ounce bottles of water.

In less than ten minutes, three different people showed me that I was in their email (they posted screen caps on my Facebook). Earlier this week, I was informed via email that I won the "Action Photo of the Week" for ThinkGeek! I won a $100 gift code for their site and they used my Steampunk Wonder Woman T-shirt photo in their email newsletter.
(scroll to the bottom!). Having been outside most of the day, I hadn't checked my email associated with that newsletter and didn't know it was out yet.

My lower back was getting a bit achy after the first hour, but I was expecting that, really.

While mowing the front yard, passing drivers stared at me like I was some crazy person. As if a fat chick wearing a neon yellow baseball cap and tattered jeans and mowing a lawn was a weird thing.

I was finally at the end of the mowing. There was about a six foot by... oh, four-ish feet rectangle of grass in the very back part of the yard. And the goddamned lawnmower stalled again! AGAIN! And after four pulls on the start cord, I said: "Fuck this noise... I'm done! That's it!" I put the lawnmower away, locked up the shed, trudged inside, and drank two more bottles of water.

The baseball cap was almost entirely soaked with sweat. The very outer edge of the brim was still dry.

I got an awesome gift in the mail from an awesome lady named Tricia.

I sat here in my chair for almost an hour and a half without doing anything. Well, I drank more water and caught up on Facebook and so on.

I took the dogs out and fed them. Then I took a shower (finally) after 5 PM.

When I pulled my ponytail out, I found a stick in my hair. And some pine needles (there are pine trees in our yard).

When I got undressed for my shower, I found grass clippings, a few pine needles, and dandelion fuzz in my bra.

After my shower, I discovered some new tan lines on my shoulders. "Sweat-proof" my ass.

I ate my dinner, took that photo of me wearing that awesome bracelet, and as I sat down to start typing, one of my favorite movies came on cable. (it's called The Baytown Outlaws and it's stupid action with a mix of humor. I love it). And now, at the end of this typing and link-pasting, my muscles are only mildly achy. Like you'd expect for spending hours mowing the prairie in the backyard. My feet are sore too, because I wore my old, worn-out boots to mow.

But, you know what didn't happen today?

My knee didn't hurt. Not at all. Still doesn't.

That's what I call a good day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"Life's funny sometimes"... but Life is also a jerk sometimes

So, 'sup? Been over a month now. Any news?


*waits more*

Oh, wait, that's right. This is my stupid blog and I'm supposed to be sharing news.

I wanted to write some stuff a week or two ago, but I was putting it off because I had a problem. My problem was this- my human knee started to hurt. At first, I couldn't tell if it was a "fibro hurt" or if something more was going on. So, I did what I do best- I tried not to think about it. Guess what? If you guessed "nothing happened", you're right. The pain in my knee varied in intensity. Some days were just a mild ache. Some days were so blindingly painful that I cried from it. Driving became a horrible chore. Pressing down on the gas pedal wasn't so bad, but holding down the brake pedal because so painful I'd white-knuckle grip the steering wheel and contort my face into some pretty epic expressions in an effort to not scream: "OW!MOTHERFUCKINGSONOFABITCHCOCKSUCKER!" (because swearing helps ease pain).

Last week, my daughter asked me to come to her college (a 90 minute drive, made mostly with cruise control and a few cooperative stoplights) to take production photos of the play she's stage managing. So I did. And it was fun (and the play was cool). But, I was up and down and standing and walking for several hours. I didn't really feel the full impact of all that till the next day. The next day when every single moment was agony and I cried and I was in so much pain I couldn't even sit here to process the RAW files. And if you know me, you know that I never let a photo sit without processing. It ended up taking me almost four days to do what should have taken two days. Because of this goddamn human knee. It was that day that I called and made an appointment with my knee doctor. I didn't bother to go through the VA first. If I had, I'd still be waiting for that appointment.

I hate using a cane. It pisses me off. I used a cane for three years and a huge chunk of that time was spent with two canes (I named them "George and Gracie"). So, because I was doing this more often than I wanted, I made that appointment.

My worst fear was that I'd have to get another knee replacement. I had my left knee replaced in 2009 and while it was the best thing that ever happened to me (because it opened up my life and I got to go "out" and do "stuff" and have "fun" like "all the normal people do"), I don't ever want to go through that again. I've given birth to three babies. Without drugs. Two of them in Army hospitals (the middle one was at a civilian hospital because the Army is a dick to families). Three babies, no drugs, and one of them was 11 pounds even and 22 1/2 inches tall. And the knee replacement pain was worse. Much worse.

How much worse? Well, allegedly, women "forget" the pain of labor to go through it again. My kids have 2 1/2 years and 1 1/2 years between them, so I guess in my case, that's true. I had my knee replaced SIX YEARS ago and I STILL remember how much it sucked in the three weeks that followed. Pain and agony and so much work to just get normal enough to get out of the hospital. I stayed for two weeks for in-hospital physical therapy and then I spent two weeks at my parents' fully-handicap-accessible house before coming to my own house. Well, I don't have that luxury anymore (since my parents passed away).

So, I did not want another goddamn knee replacement. I've gone through scenarios in my head on scheduling it after faire season because I'd have six months between Teslacon and Janesville Faire. I only needed five months the last time (I had my knee replacement five months before my first trip to Bristol). But... instead, this is what has happened.

I took two photos of my X-rays. One from pre-replacement in 2009 and one from today.

You'll notice that they're leaning (I did them backwards, they're leaning in, not out). That's partly because I'm so overweight that my thighs are pushing them and partly because I hyper-extend my knees, well, all my joints. Christine hates it when I hyper-extend my fingers, it grosses her out. Jason likes it because he can do it to his elbows and he used to do MMA (mixed-martial arts fighting) and his opponents couldn't make him tap-out with an arm bar. I'm not sure how my oldest- Kat- feels about hyper-extended joints.

So, let's zoom in on these bad boys and I'll show you some things.

Here's the right knee. The yellow arrows are pointing to two bone spurs that have started to grow. The blue arrows are pointing to the bright white line, which indicates that the bones are rubbing and starting to wear down. The purple arrows show the gap between the bones, which means I still have a little bit of cartilage in there.

This is my left knee, from 2009, about a month before my knee replacement. The difference here is that the gap is much smaller. The blue arrows are pointing to the white line (which was all around the entire bone, not just those bits on the edges). The yellow arrows are pointing to the bone spurs that were growing, including a third one on the edge (I could feel that one. I remember that quite vividly).  Those bone spurs were worn down, and one of them may have been broken off. The green arrow is pointing to a folding-over-like edge. Like an ice cream cone is just melting a little, the edge of the ice cream is just holding on. That was all around the bone as well. I have a plastic model of my knee joint around here somewhere and it has all the flat spots and overhang of bone. I didn't point out the gap. As you can see, there's a lot less gap there.

So, it is obvious to me (and the doctor, because he explained it to me) that my right knee is in no way as bad of shape as the left one was. Probably because I saw him within a month of the pain starting. When it happened to the last one, I had to wait for almost two years before I was given the consultation letter to see the surgeon away from the VA. (I can see this doctor now, because my knee replacement was done by him, so everything that happens to my knees now falls under his umbrella of care- that umbrella thing is my own analogy, not the insurance's).

Instead of terrifying me with another total knee replacement, we're doing the cortisone shots. I have "significant arthritis", but not enough for a total knee replacement. He said if it works out, I'll be fine for up to six months. So, what's happen next is a photo of a two-inch long needle. And the one after it is a photo of him pressing the syringe into my knee. I didn't feel it at all. He just jammed it in and there was no pain, no anything. I felt a little tingle when he hit the plunger bit down, but other than that, nothing. And, I know if I end up not feeling any relief in the next week or so, to come in again and we'll do something else (I assume the next step up would be "rooster injections", which are so named because they're made out of rooster waddles. Yes, your "what the fuck?" reaction is entirely appropriate).

So, here's the warning, if you don't like needles or what it looks like when a needle is inserted into the knee to the point you can't see the needle anymore, don't scroll down.

This is the end of the blog for you, as far as your needle hate is concerned.

I'm not going to add any photography stuff to this post because it's already laden with photos. So if you stop now, you won't miss anything but needle stuff.


Last warning. 


One more warning. 




Okay, you were warned. Here are the two photos-

And this one- I might use this as my 365 for the day.