On the Path to Whatever Passes for “Normal” Around Here

Hey! How’s it goin’ with you all? I’m trying to get my life back in gear after nearly two years of surgeries and constant infections.


For one thing, I’ve neglected my teeth — that is, I’ve not been to the dentist for my regular checkups and cleanings. That’s not a good thing when you have diabetes, because it can lead to gum disease and you can lose your teeth and stuff like that.

Right now, I have a tooth that’s bothering me off and on, plus my ear on that side feels a bit uncomfortable. So tomorrow I go to the dentist. I know I should have gone before, but I didn’t feel well before the amputation, then I was fearful of trying to transfer from my scooter to the dentist’s chair. But I’m pretty much OK with that now.

Actually, it’ll be good to see him. He usually is up on what’s going on in town that doesn’t make the news.

Today, I go to see the prosthetist. If what’s left of my leg is in proper shape, he’ll take impressions for my temporary prosthesis, which I should get next Tuesday. I’m stoked! Now, I want inpatient rehab while I learn how to walk, just like I was 9 months old all over again.

After a week of inpatient rehab after the amputation, I switched to outpatient. Frankly, it wasn’t working out. I only had two half-hour sessions per week. It took me something like 45 minutes to get ready, get to the car, have somebody take the scooter apart, drive to the rehab place, put the scooter back together, etc. Reverse that after I did my exercises. Plus, my chauffeur (my husband) had to devote even more time, because he had to leave work and come home to pick me up, wait while I did rehab, take me back home, and then go back to work.

So I asked for a list of exercises to do at home. It also keeps me from sledding down the ramp in the ice and snow, yelling at whoever is ahead of me to ‘GET OUTTA THE WAY!’

The outpatient place does three 45-minute sessions a week of gait training after you get a temporary prosthesis. I can already tell you I don’t believe that’s enough. Plus, I really don’t have anybody at home who can ‘spot’ me while I practice. I think I’d be better off at the inpatient place for a few days.

As an aside, I thought for the longest time the therapists were talking about ‘gate’ training and I couldn’t figure it out. And then there was the doc who kept mentioning ‘BK’ and I couldn’t figure out what Burger King had to do with an amputation. Turns out that ‘BK’ is medicalese for ‘below the knee.’

Another change I’ve made recently is that I finally got up the nerve to transfer to my kitchen stool. Therefore, I’m cooking more, much to my husband’s delight. Especially since I made him stuffed grapevine leaves for his birthday. I meant to make avgolemono soup, too, but didn’t get around to it. (I was tired from rolling the grape leaves, OK?) Maybe this evening. Kind of a stretched out Greek meal. Next week, pastitsio. Maybe.

If all goes as I’d like — leg next week, followed by at least one week of inpatient rehab — then I’d better get packing! That would take me into February and I’m off to spend some quality time with Mickey Mouse not too far into next month. I’ve been throwing things into a suitcase, but it may be time to get serious.

One thing I need to stock up on is fast-acting sugar. I’m still going low at least once a day. My endocrinologist got me to a good starting point when I saw him last month, but I’m still fine-tuning things. I just wish it would go faster.

Oh! This time next month, my vacation will be over, but I’ll have another one to look forward to: My traveling buddy Sandy and I booked a cruise through the Panama Canal for April… 2012. I can’t wait!

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  • Fran

    Glad you are still doing vey well. Can’t your doctor order PT for you in your home ? A home health care agency can supply you with a pt and and aide if necessary. I think you are doing an awful lot yourself. Take care.


    As a therapist I agree with you that inpatient would e the way to go if your insurance will go for it. Good luck with your prosthesis. you go girl!

  • jim snell

    Jan: what is avgolemono soup? Is that the lemon chicken greek soup? Visions of saganaki, mousaka, lamb chops – rosemary and garlic rounded up with a drink of 6 or 7 star greek brandy.

    How goes the new leg?

  • jim snell

    greek brandy – metaxa. I was struggling for name with a chaser of ouso liquor.

  • Jan

    I don’t have the new leg yet, Jim, so I have no idea how it’s going. Hopefully, all is well wherever it is.

    As for cooking, yes, it’s the lemon chicken Greek soup. I put orzo in mine. Orzo cooked in chicken broth, with eggs and lemon added just before serving.

    One of our former mayors was Greek: first-generation American. His wife was from Greece. We would meet for coffee once in a while. He was complaining one time about the Meals on Wheels food, which was nothing he was used to, so I said I would cook them a meal. I took lamb and artichokes and a pan of baked vegetables and he was so excited he was almost jumping up and down. I understand the relatives came over to see and taste the Greek food made by the Jewish woman. I had to laugh: It’s as simple as I like Greek food and I know how to read recipes.


  • Ellie

    Hi I am 13 years old and just found about a year
    Ago that I have type 1 diabetes. Can anyone
    Plz give me advice on what i can do to stay active and
    Eat healthy.
    Thank you,

  • jim snell

    Jan – Thank you for hoot along the high road sharing food details. I apologize for distraction as this is not the Cooking channel.

    What is so fabulous is to see the multicultural melting pot of America in action. Western Canada took its lead from America and as a canadian englishman, we always had such a rich feast in food from the chinese, Japanese, Greek, German, Polish, russian, Italian, Indian, and last but not least the Jewish Contingent. Otherwise diet would have been bad on bangers and chips and smashed peas all the time.

    Thank you for great columm’s and introspections on diabetes; this most frustrating and difficult of subjects.

  • Hope

    The soup sounds good!

    Kitchen stools are great. I’m an AK amputee who gets around on crutches, and I use a tall stool for cooking that was really designed for libraries. It is very sturdy and stable when I sit on it, but it can easily be moved about the kitchen when I take weight off it. It’s great for moving to different parts of the kitchen counter and stove.

    The magic is in the base. The stool has a wide circular rubber base and four high quality spring- loaded casters. When there is more than about 15 pound of weight on the seat the casters retract and it sits on the circular rubber bumper. When I put most of my weight on my foot the springs push the stool up so that it rolls easily. I can hold on to the counter or handles I had installed on my cabinets and wall and stand on the lowest step on the stool- This way I can safely reach the higher parts of my kitchen cabinets. Another virtue for the kitchen is that it is made of easily cleaned industrial strength plastic with a removable non-skid mat to sit on.

    I don’t know where to get these- mine is library surplus.


  • Jan

    Hope, I know the kind of stool you’re talking about and that’s a great idea! I’ll have to look for one.

    I can tell you how to make a “quick and dirty” avgolemono soup. Heat up a large can of chicken broth, add about 1/2 cup of orzo (rice-shaped pasta) and cook until the orzo is done. Whisk up three eggs and the juice of one lemon. Add some of the chicken broth and whisk. (Like, warm up the eggs so they won’t turn into scrambled eggs. I put in about 2 ladles full of soup.) Add the egg mixture to the pot, whisk, and serve. It takes less than half an hour: Much shorter than starting with making your own chicken broth.