Strange as it may seem, this life is based on a true story." - Ashleigh Brilliant


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name: shanna
age: 28
sign: scorpio
live: louisiana
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The current mood of shanna at www.imood.com

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Pin-up girl by Rion Vernon; used with permission. Header design by the totally awesome Rose. The rest by moi.


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Friday, July 30, 2004

Forgive me for not updating sooner, but I've been in low spirits. The constant scenery of my bedroom walls and the endless drone of nothing-I-want-to-watch on TV had been starting to get to me. In the machines, I was doing great - outside of the machines, progress wasn't what I'd been hoping for. Although I was doing everything the doc said, and more, it still seemed I wasn't progressing much further than where I'd been pre-surgery.

But yesterday evening we had a breakthrough. I was lamenting to Baret about my seemingly non-existent progress and he told me to try walking with him across the room, holding on to his hand. We did this back and forth for some time until the last two steps back to my chair, he just let go. And I walked. It may have only been two steps but it was the first two steps unaided in two years. "I walked," I said, and then dissolved into a sobbing mess. I, for the first time since it all began, felt like this was really and truly going to work - I finally had some concrete proof.

I walk really well with a brace on my leg that keeps it straight, and we're staying with that until the muscles build back up. I may have to get some type of support brace for my ankle, which now feels like it wants to snap - not used to the weight. But I'm doing well - I can make it back and forth across the room a few times using a cane, and sometimes I can even do it without the cane. No crutch shoved up under my arm - it's a weird feeling. Now I've got to come up with some decent exercises to work on the bending/flexion part; I think I need an exercise bike or something. I also plan to start swimming in the complex's pool where I live; we just recently got the pool key card.

Just wanted to let you in on the awesome news - I WALKED!! It's baby steps now, but if I keep doing it, soon it will just become old hat. My goal, seriously, is to be walking by Renaissance Festival. That sounds so geeky, but we went last year and it was my first time. I loved it, except that I had to be pushed around in a wheelchair. It really marred my time there and I vowed that by next year I'd return and be walking. It's sometime around Oct-Nov. so I may just make that goal. I've even found the dress I'm going to buy - sort of my reward to myself for making it. This is it.

On a strange note - my Google ads up top are now for staples. -shudder-


- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 8:10 AM
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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Whoever it was that told me having staples removed didn't hurt lied. And not a sweet, innocent little white lie either.

Can we say mother fucking OW?!

The little contraption, that looked strangely similar to a regular old staple-remover, grabs the staple and then pulls it in opposing directions, so that it can easily then be pulled up and out. Unfortunately, there were a few things in the path of the pull - like my skin. The little staples ripped through a small portion of skin on their outward course - leaving me bleeding and on the verge of passing out. But I'm a wussy.

It honestly wasn't horrible, but it wasn't anything I'd ever like to have to go through again in this lifetime. I took a quick breather about halfway through - and then asked him to hurry through the last 10 or so.

It's amazing the difference it has made, though! It doesn't hurt nearly as bad to move around when my skin is not being pulled and torn by the staples.

The doctor said I'm doing well, but he's still concerned about the straightening. I'm not fully straight - and even though when I walk I can now put my heel down (an impossibility before), it's still not straight enough to permit normal walking. I can hobble around on one crutch again, but it's slow going and I need to work past that. He wants me in the rack Dynasplint during the day as well as the night at varying 3 hour intervals.

I ran out of Percocets and am now on Loratabs - my only fear being they won't be strong enough to enable me to stand being in the rack Dynasplint; they weren't two years ago when I first encountered the Dynasplint during recovery. If they don't work, I'll just have to call and ask for something a bit more strong.

My spirits are still high, though, and that's good. I keep thinking of all I'll be able to do and it keeps me going strong.

Thanks everyone for your continued thoughts. It means so much that each of you keep checking back here to gauge my progress and are still sending positive vibes my way; it really does help so!


- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 3:46 PM
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Tuesday, July 20, 2004

A quick update.
 
Things are still going well - every day I can do a bit more.  I've been staying in the CPM machine 6+ hours a day and have even been able to top the 8 miserable hours in the rack Dynasplint.

Yesterday, I'm so happy to report, I took my first steps!  One crutch, putting my heel down and walking.  My leg still isn't fully straight - and it's still up in the air whether it ever will be - but every night in the Dynasplint helps and I'm still only putting 2 lbs pressure at 8 hours/night - eventually we'll move gradually up to 4 lbs pressure; so there's still hope I'll get much straighter.  But taking those first few steps really felt like a breakthrough to me.  I imagine what it will be like to walk crutch-free - how amazing!
 
I am also able to lift my leg again - after surgery I wasn't able to lift it or move it much without using my hand to force and guide it.  That happened after the first surgery as well, but as of today I can move it, lift it, swing it to the side - it hurts like the dickens, but that will go away.
 
So all's well so far.  Just wanted to let you know.  I don't get on here much because it's 6/hours or more a day in one and 8/hours or more in the other - so I'm in bed a lot.  But I'm doing well!  Keep thinking of me!!


- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 9:21 AM
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Monday, July 12, 2004

She lives!

I'd first like to thank the makers of Percocet for my appearance today. Credit can also be given to them if none of this makes any sense.

I hobbled out of bed this afternoon for a change of scenery and to reward myself for all of the hard work I've put into my recovery so far. Oh, who the hell am I kidding? I'm suffering from computer-withdrawls like some kind of fiend. I need help.

I suppose you're wanting to know how it went sans all the gory details. Oh, what, you want the gory details? You sick fucks - I knew you wouldn't disappoint me.

I believe I checked into the hospital last Thursday (or was it Wednesday?). Dates and days mean little to nothing to me right now and I've had a bit of morphine since then, so you'll have to forgive the memory lapses. I was at the same time terribly nervous and oddly calm. They knocked me out just before 9 am and I woke up in recovery 40 minutes later all bandaged up and with a morphine pump connected to my I.V. I must've still been in a good bit of pain, though, because they then had me sign something that allowed them to give me a nerve block - which numbed my entire leg for the next 12 or so hours. Peachy.

I was in recovery for over two hours because they have a hard time getting my blood pressure back down after surgery. Nerves. I don't remember much between then and getting my room - other than I had to pee like a mofo and no matter how many times they stuck that bedpan under my bum, I couldn't convince my mind that it was okay to pee sitting in bed. When I finally got my room, I had the nurse help me off the bed and I hobbled to the bathroom with her aid. That's right, hours after surgery I was putting weight on it. Of course, I the nerve block was going strong then.

The entire hospital stay is kind of a blur - did I mention I had a morphine pump? As in, a little button I could push whenever the mood hit me that injected me with a moderate dose of morphine. There's nothing quite like it. They told me the key to pain management was stopping the pain before it starts - that I shouldn't wait until I was in pain as then it would be too late and the meds wouldn't work. I liked this philosphy - and I'm unsure how I didn't wear that little button out.

Before going to a room they set me up in the CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine. I only had to be in it 6 hours/day but I may have taken it the equivalent of one hour my entire time in the hospital (three days/two nights). I still, at home, continue to use it 8-12 hours/day rather than just the prescribed 6.

That's right, I'm going at this with gusto. It helps that the pain isn't as horrible as I thought it would be. Yet anyway.

My first surgery left me with a itty-bitty scar where the scope had gone in and a slightly longer one that was approx. 1 1/2" long. I never considered the newer cut would be any different. So imagine my surprise when they took off the bandages my last day in the hospital. The tube they'd had inserted into a hole in my knee for drainage had come out and she wanted to make sure it'd just slipped out and not left any "extra pieces" in my leg. You can only get so shocked when you're hopped up on morphine, so I only really open my eyes really wide when the bandages and were pulled away to reveal an 8" cut from the bottom to top of my knee held together by 19 staples. Yes, 19, I counted them. There are 20, if you count the one on the smaller 'scope incision (couldn't they have just used a stitch for that - seems like overkill to me). So I have 20 staples in my leg, an 8" cut, a smaller, maybe 1" cut and a hole - just a hole that is still draining (ugh).

Oddly, when I'm in the CPM machine, it doesn't really hurt. I'm terribly swollen and though I can feel the staples pulling as the machine moves me (yes, it's as gross feeling as it sounds), it isn't painful. When I stand to go to the bathroom, however, it's a different story. It feels like...well it feels like I have an 8" gash in my leg held together by metal staples.

But I'm doing well. He was able, during surgery, to get my almost fully extended - he says I likely won't gain back all of my flexion (bending) but enough to live normally. However, he was unable to get back full extension (straigtening) and my leg is still stuck with about 10 degrees left to go at being fully straight. Today or tomorrow another machine, a Dynasplint, will be delivered that will help with that. It's much more painful than the CPM machine and I'm not looking forward to it, but I do what I gotta. In the CPM machine I'm already bending to 90 degrees!! (I started at 60 in the hospital). Doc says no one gets to 110, so that's my goal. :)

That's my half-ass attempt at an update. I hope it made sense - I'm a little doped up. I'm really not in terrible pain most of the time, but the uncomfortableness of laying in bed and in one position constantly is starting to get to me. The incisions are healing and they itch. So I'm fairly irritable and uncomfortable - much moreso than I'm in pain. I'm not complaining, though!

My progress is great - and I just wanted to thank everyone for their support and well-wishes. I know it's helped. And a big *hug* and thanks to Rose for taking the time to keep everyone updated.

I'll write again when I can.


- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 11:20 AM
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MORE SHANNA

Our girl's home. Settling in and trying to relax. She's still got good meds, and says the scar is a lot bigger than she thought (I think she said 19 staples) but she's doing fine considering.

She was only on the computer for a second or two to send out a quick update. If I hear anything else, I'll be sure to let you know.

-Rose


- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 6:08 AM
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Thursday, July 08, 2004

SHANNA CONDITION UPDATE

First of all, I want to thank Baret for getting ahold of us in such a timely manner. I'm sorry I haven't been able to post this earlier, but I didn't have the login info for Anima at my work computer and had to wait til I got home.

About mid-day Arizona time, we learned that the surgery seems to have gone perfectly well and Shanna is/was recovering in the ICU. We're told she's plenty drugged up so she's not feeling a great deal of pain, and they already have her on a machine to exercise her now-cleaned-out knee.

Hopefully we'll have another update tomorrow. Thanks everyone for stopping by and checking up.

-Rose


- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 8:09 PM
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Today's the day. I leave the house in about 30 minutes. I should be home in a day or two - in the meantime, Rose is going to jump on in here & give you an update on how I'm doing.

Thanks everyone for the prayers, thoughts & well-wishes. {{HUGS}}

See you soon.


- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 4:20 AM
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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I thought last nite that I would have terrible nightmares - that I would wake up every hour scared and at the beginnings of a frenzied panic attack. Instead I dreamed that I traveled to Europe - a long held dream - and fell in love with it. I was walking in this dream.

Yesterday the doctor's office faxed to me the necessary paperwork that stated I would be needing to take extended leave from work. Under "Diagnosis" the doctor had written one word:
arthrofibrosis.

I stared at it for awhile and then jumped on the Internet to see what in the hell it was. It turned out to be exactly what I'm suffering from. You mean there's a name? You mean I'm not just "messed up", some freak case that's never been dealt with or had a cure invented for? The best part? this website described the surgical procedure used to fix arthrofibrosis, and it's the exact procedure I'm having done tomorrow morning. Up until this point yesterday I was a roiling mass of nerves - teetering on the edge of a permanent panic attack; a state I was sure was going to last up until I was conked out on the operating table. Instead, learning about this condition calmed me - and I couldn't figure out why. It was my awesome friend Rose who opened my eyes. She explained that in finding a name I was no longer just suffering from "something unknown", that it was an actual medical condition and that it had a definite FIX and a CURE - whereas before I believed the doc was shooting in the dark trying to fix my messed up leg. She pointed out that all this time I'd blamed myself for failing the first time around, but now I knew that it wasn't all my fault, that what had happened to me was real and has happened to others.

She was right. And after that not only have I been eerily calm, I've been excited - ready to face this and get it over with. Yesterday, for the first time, I let myself think of all the things I could do again if I was walking once more. I've not let myself go there because I had such high hopes for the first surgery - and when they were dashed it threw me into such a black depression. I've been afraid to hope too high, but yesterday I went there for a few moments. There are things I miss so very, very much - and in the next few months these might be things I can do again. Go out dancing, walk around the French Quarter in New Orleans, curl up in bed at night, sit cross-legged or with one leg pulled up under my chin, dance around the house when no one is home, dress up and look nice - no matter how dressed-up I was the fact remained that I always had a crutch stuffed up under my arm - how nice can you look hobbling around?, enjoy the outdoors, walk on the beach, walk around the mall, go shopping period...just a few.

I ask that each and every one of you, please, think of me, say a prayer for me, light a candle for me - whatever it is you do to send good, safe vibes to someone; tomorrow morning around 9am CST, please do this for me. I've got a virtual army over here praying for me; you don't have to be Christian to believe in the "power of prayer". It works - whether you see it as being answered by God or the magic of many people focusing their energy on one thing - it's a very powerful act. Right now I'm fearing the usual pre-surgery fears more than the pain I'll experience afterwards and the battle I'll have to fight. I think that's normal, anytime you are going to get put to sleep there's a fear you won't wake back up; it's such an unnatural thing to do to your body. Not that I'm not fearing the pain - but I know I've got the strength and endurance to see it through this time. This time I'm ready to fight, last time they led me into it believing it would be a breeze and I was wholly unprepared for the complications that came about. Anyway, please send me your thoughts and well-wishes; I would so very greatly appreciate it.

Until I can get here to the keys again and let you know I made it through and am progressing nicely, I've asked my friend Rose to give you an update tomorrow evening - so do check back.

That's all for now. I'll likely post more today - as the day progresses I know my feelings will change; I'm on a bit of a roller-coaster. But for now I feel fine, and ready.


- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 4:17 AM
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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Time permitting (which hasn't been much as my days are now filled with "preparing for surgery"), I've been scouring the Internet for concrete rebuttals of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11". So far, the search has been futile. The most common refutation that I've seen runs along the lines of "Michael Moore is a liar". Or "Michael Moore edits", or my personal favorite, "Michael Moore is fat" (because that explains it all, right?).

That really seems to be the only thing anyone has to say against what was brought up in "Fahrenheit 9/11". Well, if it's such a bunch of bullshit lies, where's your proof to back that up? Michael Moore's level of intelligence or fat content has nothing to do with the material he presented in his movie. If you think it's so "wrong" and so "libelous", then tell me why. Show me something other than "I don't like what he said so he sucks".

The real reason I'm writing though is an alarming trend I saw throughout the "Michael Moore is poo-poo" rants; the accusation that those who liked the movie or agree with some of Moore's points, or just those that disagree with our President and his administration, are non-patriotic traitors who don't support our troops. This could possibly be the most ignorant thing I've ever read.

Exactly where is the logic in that? Because I disagree with decisions made by my government I automatically don't support anything to do with my country whatsoever? If you believe this, or you say this, then you're just being ignorant, I'm sorry.

The entire point of being an American and having freedoms like we do is so that we can disagree with our government! If I don't like what Bush is doing, I have the freedom to say that and Michael Moore has the ability to make a movie about it.

But what in the name of shit does that have to do with supporting our troops? Look, I may not support the reason they're over there, but they were sent and they are there fighting and dying every day and my heart, and my support, goes out to them. Just because I don't support the reason we're at war doesn't mean I don't support the men and women that are over there fighting! If it weren't for our troops, all the people that have lost their lives in battles and wars past, we wouldn't have the freedoms we have now! I'm well aware of that and just because I don't like our monkey-faced president sure in hell doesn't mean that I don't or can't still support our armed forces!! What does one have to do with the other? Absolutely nothing! Bush has done some pretty fucked up things wherein our environment is concerned; you don't see me yelling out that those who like Bush must therefore hate the planet! I wouldn't, because that's stupid.

It really pisses me off seeing these ignorant people throwing around such vitriol for no damn good reason. So what if I don't like President Bush?! What the fuck do you care? So everyone that doesn't like the president, or disagrees with YOUR viewpoints, is a traitor to the United States? I mean come the fuck on.

The whole thing is just utterly stupid. We can argue 'til we're blue in the face that we have a good/bad president and a good/bad administration and a just/unjust reason for going to war. Opinions are like assholes but it doesn't mean you have to act like one if someone doesn't share your viewpoint. Don't accuse people of being non-patriotic for having an opinion. Don't accuse people of hating our troops simply because we liked "Fahrenheit 9/11".


- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 11:32 AM
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Monday, July 05, 2004

Two years ago today I walked into the hospital to have my first knee surgery. It was the last time I walked anywhere. In three days I go back for surgery #2 (#4 if you want to count the manipulations - if you got to put to sleep, I think it counts). But this time - the end result is going to be different. I will walk again.

On a less somber note, I hope everyone had a nice 4th of July. I awoke early this morning, having the day off makes no difference to my body's internal clock, and was blinded by the sunlight pouring into the room. I realized it had been ages since I'd seen sunlight like that. Here in Louisiana it rained 28 out of June's 30 days. Everyday was bleak and dreary and wet. July looks to be starting off a bit sunnier.

It was too hot yesterday to be outside, so my family stayed in and made hamburgers. We, as always, had a grand time.

I want you, for a moment, to have a look at this cool grandpa, my own Pa-Pa Riley. He's one fiesty character and, yes, he always dresses so brightly. He thinks the rest of us drape ourselves in "boring" colors. Keep the image of this quirky, sweet looking old man in your mind as you read this exchange:

Me: "Okay, Pa, I'm going to take your picture. Smile. Say...um, pineapple (in reference to his fruity shirt)."

Pa-Pa Riley: Pineapple? I thought you were supposed to say 'shit'. It's 'shit', isn't it...oh, no 'cheese', I mean 'cheese' is what I thought you were supposed to say."

No, he wasn't joking. He honestly thought people everywhere grinned widely and said "shit" when having their picture taken. He even went into detail about how he could see 'shit' might even work better than 'cheese' because your mouth didn't change position quite as much.

Earlier on I'd made my sister laugh while she was taking a sip of her daiquiri. It went up her nose, which I was told "burns really, really bad". So, for revenge she showed me the latest trailer for The Sims 2, which isn't due out 'til September. Oh the agony of waiting! I've already informed Baret that once The Sims 2 is released he can sell all of my old games on Ebay and that we will no longer have a social life. Every waking moment not at work will be spent playing The Sims 2; for the first few weeks, of course.

Later that night, after a botched attempt at trying to go and see the fireworks on the levee, my sister and her boyfriend, my brother and his girlfriend, and my mother and me sat around the computer watching crazy videos. We also wasted an altogether-too-large chunk of our lives playing What's Her Bra-Size. After trying to guess the bulk of 100 celebrities' melons, I came to realize that my Mom knows way too much about stars' boobs. She got almost all of them right! Well, "almost all" compared to the ones we all got right - in the end, we still sucked with a score of something like 51/100. Wah.

So though I doubt any of you spent your holiday gathered around a computer guessing at bra sizes with your family, or yelling "Shit" everytime a picture was snapped, I hope all of you had as much fun as we did.


- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 6:11 AM
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Sunday, July 04, 2004

Happy 4th of July everyone!

I registered to vote today - not even realizing the date at first.

Hope everyone has a fun (and safe) holiday.


- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 12:40 PM
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Thursday, July 01, 2004

Surgery is next Thursday. One week from today. The countdown officially begins.

It's amazing how many times in a single lifetime you can find yourself standing at the precipice of major change - about to step off the cliff and into the unknown. After next Thursday, my life will never be the same - again.

I won't even begin to say that I know exactly what's going to happen. Who can know? Maybe I'll come out of it walking and whole again. Maybe I'll be worse off than I am now. Maybe I'll end up just as I am now with never any hope of recovery. Maybe I'll die. All I can say right now is that I'm about to step off that cliff and all I can do is tell myself that I have the strength to fly.


- shanna bared her soul & griped a bit @ 11:39 AM
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