Category Archives: healthcare

Late Night MRI’s

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Well for the second time in two weeks I am making a trip for an MRI of a knee deep in the night at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. They do quite the business there, the MRI and CT suite is in operation 24/7 all year long. My last MRI revealed more damage to my right knee, but it looks like it will not require a knee replacement, but an alternative to have Interventional Radiology cauterize the nerves to the right knee. The bone and joint surgeon doesn’t think that majority of the pain is coming from the knee itself and he wouldn’t want to replace the knee and have no reduction in the pain. I am now waiting for that procedure to be scheduled.

My left knee, which will be scanned tonight, about 1:30 AM was operated on to repair a torn meniscus in February. It now hurts worse than it ever did. The surgeon who did the original surgery mentioned that I probably will need a knee replacement at some time. All I hope is that the results of this MRI give a way forward to either fix or reduce the pain in my left knee. If it requires replacement fine, if the pain can be controlled with the treatment by Interventional Radiology, I would be very happy.

I should know something on that in the next week or so. The surgeon who did the original surgery has been great about keeping in contact, providing test results as soon as he has access to them, even on weekends, and providing additional referrals.

So, I will drive over to the hospital about midnight and hopefully they will be get me in earlier. I really don’t like to be on the road at such an hour. If all goes well I’ll be home and in bed by 3:00 AM. I need to be up by 9:30 to watch Bayern München play for the Bundesliga championship.

So until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Recovery Night

Judy Waiting For Her Trip to the Operating Room

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

It has been a hellaciously long and tiring day, following a long day of preparation.

On the positive side Judy’s knee replacement surgery was very successful and recovery wise she is well ahead of where she was weeks after the first surgery. The hospital physical therapist was really impressed.

This is mostly a testimony of how hard she worked in physical therapy after the home healthcare physical therapist pushed her so hard that she tore one of her quadriceps, setting back her recovery by over a month. Of course back then she walked into the hospital on crutches, she couldn’t walk without them. It has been months since she used them last and now is using the stair rider only when she has to carry heavy loads upstairs.

My Regal Pierre Puppy

Now I am home sipping a glass of wine and hanging out with our puppies. In the morning I’ll go back over the floors and master bath so that when she comes home it is to as sterile environment as I can make it. The puppies won’t be happy because for the next week or so I will be living with them downstairs at night to make sure she doesn’t get any infections. Since the puppies love to cuddle us at night they will not be happy that they only get daddy, especially Minnie, who is Judy’s shadow. Pierre and Izzy would just as soon hang with me but when we go to bed Izzy likes to sleep on the pillow behind Judy’s head. Pierre, the cool puppy just likes his space on the cedar chest at the foot of our bed. Even so, I’ll be on the couch and they will be positioned around me like last night. During the day we’ll put a flat sheet on top of our duvets so they can hang out with us under close supervision.

Minnie making a Bed on a Quilt Judy had folded and put on Our Linen Shelves

As for the rest of the day I was tired. After Judy left the preparation stage and went to the OR I went and got breakfast with lots and lots of coffee prior to going to the memorial service for our friend Mitch Vickers, before dashing back to the hospital to wait for her to go to her room. In that time I did a bit more work on the pamphlet that I am preparing to go along with my sermon at Norfolk’s Temple Israel on the last Sabbath of Passover and the beginning of Holocaust memorial week.

One of Izzy’s nicknames is Miss Kiss

So anyway, I am pooped. I’ll probably watch a movie and some episodes of The West Wing of Cheers before I let the pups out one more time and lay my head down on the couch. If you wonder why I do this, it is because Minnie will keep me awake barking all night if she is cut off from us. To help her, at the suggestion of Judy I have put one of Judy’s nightgowns for Minnie to snuggle on.

Thank you for your kind words, thoughts and prayers. We really do appreciate them.

So until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under healthcare, Loose thoughts and musings, papillons

A Day of Preparation

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Today has been as busy and tiring day as I have tried to get ready for Judy’s Second knee replacement surgery early. The effort was hindered and pushed back when my right knee gave out I fell down my porch last Thursday. It led to Judy doing a lot more of the work than she was expecting. Today I came home after work and did all I could before I pooped out to continue to get the house ready for when Judy returns from the hospital, most likely Sunday.

We have to be at the hospital at 6:30 AM and while she is probably either finishing surgery or in recovery I will be attending the funeral of our friend Mitch Vickers who died in his sleep last week. Then it will be back to the hospital for much of the rest of the day before I head home, let to puppies out and get back to work. I anticipate that I will complete what I can on Saturday with the expectation that she will be home Sunday. My knees hurt, my hip hurts, and my ankles hurt, but I got some work done. Eventually, I did some work on some materials I am writing for a sermon I will be delivering on the last day of Passover at a local synagogue where a friend is the Rabbi. The title is Lest We Forget: Walk, Remember and Bear Witness: Bearing Witness to the Holocaust when All who lived it Have Passed Away.

It will become my next book draft and deal with how history, memory, and walking those sacred places where the heinous crimes of the Nazis which beggar the imagination, the Holocaust was executed by Hitler’s SS, the army, the police, civilian Party and government offices, aided by the corporations that profited from the war and use of slave labor.

Eventually you will see portions of it here, although much has already been written due to my visits to those hallowed sites, and illustrated with my own photos and pictures from the era.

Pray for Judy, Mitch’s wife Barbara, and wish me well. By the way the puppies won’t be happy, because for a while they will be banned from sleeping with us. But such is life. By the way, Pierre says hello.

Until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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“After You Hurt the Knee it isn’t as Fun…” Padre Steve Deals With More Knee Injuries

I Don’t Know if I will be Able to Climb Little Round Top Again

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Last night I went to bed a bit down because of the unexpected death of my friend Mitch. But, I was also thinking about ways I could try to get back into shape as I awaited a consult from the Sports Medicine Doctor to the orthopedic surgeon who did the arthroscopic surgery on my left knee. Physical therapy on Tuesday had gone well and because I have been doing so well I stopped using a cane or crutch to stabilize me as I walked. I thought I was making progress.

To a certain extent I was, my left knee and leg were getting stronger, despite the fact that my right knee has not responded to the non-surgical Platelet Rich Plasma and Gel injection treatments given over the past two and a half months. But I had also not taken as seriously as I should the continued pain and weakness in the right knee, and the fact that it has been buckling on me of late. My sports medicine doctor told me that it looked like something other than osteoarthritis was the cause of my right knee problems, my kneecap feels loose and the doctor thinks something may be going on underneath the patella.

I knew I had physical therapy today and was looking forward to more improvements. Then the unexpected happened. My right knee buckled and gave out as I was walking down the steps from my front porch to the car. I fell in a heap at the bottom of the steps, my left knee landed hardest on the concrete walkway while my right knee hit the bricks in our planter, but that was a glancing blow. My left ankle feels like it has a mild sprain, the right foot has a lot of pain on the top of the foot below the ankle. I have no idea what is going on with it. My left knee hurts worse than before or after my surgery.

I wondered if I should wake up Judy and have her take me to the ER or maybe try to get an appointment with my PCM, or just contact the surgeon, and go to physical therapy. I sent an email to the surgeon, contacted the head of the officer retirement section at the Naval Personnel Center, and then went to physical therapy. My physical therapist put me through the paces and it was agonizing. She, a civilian, also warned me in a stern voice: “Sir, if I ever hear of you walking around without using a cane or crutch, I will kick your ass…” I believe her.

By the time I got back to the office from physical therapy I had heard back from the man at NPC who recommended that I modify or cancel my current voluntary retirement orders. I also heard back from my surgeon’s nurse. All agreed that I should request that the retirement orders be cancelled and a new request submitted for my mandatory date of my 60th birthday in late March.

That was something I had began to expect when I got word from the Sports Medicine doctor that there was something else wrong with my right knee other than osteoarthritis, which I suspected back last August when I fell down my stairs. I always knew I had arthritis in my knees but it was mild and never interfered with any of my physical activities. The only times the knees hurt before that fall was in cold damp weather. After that it has been difficult. Despite the fact that I didn’t have a torn meniscus in my right knee it constantly hurt worse than the left knee, I held out hope that the non-surgical procedures would make the difference.

So I emailed my Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and Regional Chaplain to explain what I am going to have to do. All were sympathetic and tomorrow I will submit my request through my Commanding Officer, and on to NPC where it will need to be approved. The head of the officer retirement branch doesn’t think it will be a problem. If It gets approved I can probably get the treatments/ surgeries that help me recover.

This is a disappointment. I really was looking toward to going on terminal leave, having my retirement ceremony and re-entering the civilian world in September. I don’t like being as crippled as I am. Last year at this time I was walking, power-walking, or running 5 to 15 miles a day, five days a week. I am so discouraged by this, I cannot do anything like that now. Likewise, for me it embarrassing to have to admit that I am physically broken.

I agree with the great New York Jets Quarterback, Joe Namath said:

“After I hurt the knee, football wasn’t nearly as much fun. I was limited. But you make do with what you have. I adjusted some. I was lucky to play as long as I did, with the different kinds of injuries I got. I played with two severed hamstring muscles in my leg late in my career. I could barely run, other than to drop back to pass.”

I fully agree with him. Until last year I have had very few physical injuries that I couldn’t overcome. Perhaps they will be able to fix me before I retire, and I am not one to give up hope or belief that I can get better. I won’t stop trying, because I want to be able to hike 15 to 20 miles in a day, up and down broken terrain and climb Little Round Top at Gettysburg without using the roads.

I’ll keep you informed, so pray for me a sinner,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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A Quick Post Surgery Update

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I was up very early this morning to go to get my knee surgery. As I mentioned it was arthroscopic and the surgeon repaired the torn meniscus as well as trimmed a fair amount of shredded cartilage. Judy talked with the surgeon while I was in recovery and because of this and since it is so arthritic it looks like I will probably need to have knee replacement surgery. Likewise, since I don’t seem to be responding well to the platelet rich plasma treatment I expect that the right knee will also have to be replaced.

I am going to try to have this done while still on active duty which could delay my retirement until everything is completed. I would prefer this rather than starting new in the VA system. That will obviously be part of my retirement physical which I need to schedule fairly soon.

The Navy surgeon, and anesthesiologist, and the civilian nursing staff at Sentara Obici hospital in Suffolk were great. I have nothing it praise for them. Judy has bee been a great help, it seems that we are doing things in a tag-team manner now, she was the patient, I am now, she will be again in April and I image that I will be next. Who knows, by the end of the year we may have four new knees between us. The three pups have been great, each doing their part to nurse me back to health.

Anyway, I was out of it most of the day as a result of being under general anesthesia rather than Colonel, Captain anesthesia. I am going to take it easy tonight.

It appears that my nearly 38 years of military service have been a bit harder on my body than I had thought. To paraphrase Mickey Mantle: If I knew I would have been in the military this long I would have taken better care of myself.

Pearls Before Swine Comic Strip for September 17, 2013

So anyway, I am going to do some reading, and I will catch up on what is going on the the world tomorrow. I refuse to get spun up about anything that I cannot control tonight.

Until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A Last Drink before Surgery in the Morning

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

As I lift this stein, an hour and a half before I can neither eat and drink before by arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday I wish you all the best. Sadly, in order to get to the hospital where the surgery will be done I will have to be up way before sunrise. As anyone with any sense knows, the darkness of the morning is God’s way of letting you know you should still be in bed.

I had a great day having lunch with a Navy Chaplain who I now call a friend who I threw a coffee cup at in between missions in Al Anbar Province in 2007. Yes I was already dealing with PTSD back then but didn’t know it. He’s a great guy, and my wife Judy loves his wife as a dear friend. Then this evening I dinner and a couple of beers with a fellow progressive Navy Chaplain of my age who suffers from many of my afflictions and others far worse.

Now, I have every bit of confidence in the surgery that will be conducted on my left knee Thursday, which is like a few hours from now, which is kind of like today if I lived in Germany. But by the time you read this dear reader it will be today, unless you ready it tomorrow or sometime after that, but I digress…

That being said, my right knee, which I had a Platelet Rich Plasma treatment on a week ago still hurts like a motherfucker. If that continues I will probably need a knee replacement which could throw my projected retirement date into doubt. Honestly, I don’t give a flying fuck so long as it gets fixed before I leave active duty and have to surrender valuable private sector work in order to wait on the VA to fix it. Call me selfish and entitled, but after nearly 38 years of throwing my body under the bus for the country I deserve getting it taken care of before I retire and am cast off into the abyss of veteran care.

So anyway. Whenever you read this, lift a pint and say a prayer for me, and those far worse off than me. There are a lot of them, and most are too intimidated by the system to throw the bullshit flag like I have been doing for the past decade. I owe much of this to my military and civilian therapists and psychiatrists who encouraged me as a Chaplain and senior officer to tell the truth and speak out. Sadly, quite a few of the senior officers and Chaplains I have known swallowed the pain and taken their lives, and there were times that I would have done the same if it wasn’t for Judy and our dogs, especially Molly who decided she wanted to live with me in North Carolina during the times I most wanted to die. I couldn’t kill myself because she was so devoted to me. Now I have Izzy, Pierre, and Minnie. Judy would love all of them, but Pierre and Izzy are devoted to me. Strange how things like that keep you alive when nothing else does.

Until tomorrow, have a great night.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Reading and Reflecting amid the Maladies of Age

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Mickey Mantle once quipped: “If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

But 50 plus years of athletics and military service have take their toll. Not long ago I was walking and running 5 to 12 miles a day. Today on the way out of my subdivision to see one of my orthopedic, sports medicine surgeons I saw a man running, I was jealous, and I mused upon the signal sent by the elderly HMS Rodney sent to new HMS King George V during the chase for the German Battleship Bismarck: “I think your 22 knots is faster than mine.”

But, there are blessings as well. While today was a day of doctors appointments and waiting in pharmacies, I got a chance to read. Days like this allow me to energize my reading. Of course I followed the news of the day, but I was able to finish historian Eric Foner’s collection of essays; Battles for Freedom: the Use and Abuse Of American History, as well as re-read in its entirety the late Eric Hoffer’s Classic The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature Of Mass Movements.

I have read many of Foner’s books dealing with American Slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement in my own studies. He is one of the best at dealing with those subjects and if you are a serious student of that period, you need to read his works.

Likewise, Hoffer’s book is a classic and sadly people often quote him out of context, knowing nothing of him, his times, or his life. The True Believer is often quoted in order to justify hatreds against others, be they foreigners, the establishment, racial or religious minorities, or simply whatever political order they despise. This can be from the Left or the Right. Hoffer understood it well, he had lived through the World Wars and the Cold War. He had seen dictatorships arise from different points of the political spectrum, but each shared common characteristics.

The True Believer is an uncomfortable read for those who are not simply trying to find quotes to support their ideology. I think that I was much more uncomfortable with it today than I ever was in the past.

When I first read the book I was trying to understand religious fanaticism, hatred, and terrorism. It was quite good for that purpose but I did not go back and look at how I could in Hoffer’s book. That came to me today as I read it with a different eye in a different time. So I wrote a review of it on Amazon and Goodreads and my takeaway is that any of us can become A True Believer.

Last week I finished reading Peter Hart’s book on the Somme Campaign of 1916. It is a massive book that in addition to explaining the strategy and tactics behind this brutal and bloody battle, contains many first hand accounts of the soldiers who fought in it. If you have been to war, if you have seen its devastation, the vivid written accounts of these soldiers, who describe carnage that few, if any modern soldiers have ever experienced are terrifying. If you haven’t been to war, just read it and think about the battle scenes in movies like Saving Private Ryan, We Were Soldiers, Gallipoli, Stalingrad (the German Version), or series like Band Of Brothers or The Pacific; the more graphic the better. Unfortunately, you won’t experience the olfactory ambiance of death, or experience any discomforts of heat, cold, mud, swarms of flies, and physical and mental exhaustion,which complete the experience. The Alsatian German Guy Sager wrote in his book The Forgotten Soldier:

“Too many people learn about war with no inconvenience to themselves. They read about Verdun or Stalingrad without comprehension, sitting in a comfortable armchair, with their feet beside the fire, preparing to go about their business the next day, as usual.

One should really read such accounts under compulsion, in discomfort, considering oneself fortunate not to be describing the events in a letter home, writing from a hole in the mud. One should read about war in the worst circumstances, when everything is going badly, remembering that the torments of peace are trivial, and not worth any white hairs. Nothing is really serious in the tranquility of peace; only an idiot could be really disturbed by a question of salary.

One should read about war standing up, late at night, when one is tired, as I am writing about it now, at dawn, while my asthma attack wears off. And even now, in my sleepless exhaustion, how gentle and easy peace seems!”

But I digress…

I have not done nearly as much interaction on social media over the past couple of days. I find reading or watching films or series that make me think or laugh, or maybe both, or discussing the matters with Judy or my dogs. Minnie is quite the conversationalist, and Pierre is becoming one too. Izzy, remains the incredibly sweet but somewhat serious security officer. For her it’s just the facts.

Anyway, my life will be filled with various medical appointments, surgical procedures, physical therapy, sleep management, orthopedic and dermatology consults or follow ups. It’s kind of like the old children’s song Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Eyes and Ears, and Mouth and Nose; except that my teeth and toes are fine, all the rest has gone to shit. Besides waiting on two knee procedures, hip and shoulder evaluations, having to walk with a cane, carrying my wallet, phone, iPad, and keys in my old replica German Medical bag, which is kind of a man purse. All the while I am recovering from a treatment to burn off pre-cancerous cells off of my scalp and face which have left me looking like the rusted wreck of the USS Utah at Pearl Harbor, but apart from that I am just fine.

Now I will get through this, unless one of my physically active dreams or nightmares results in another injury. My veteran readers know that I have had two emergency room visits when I crashed into my nightstand breaking my nose, or the floor, as like happened last week when I landed on the kneecap of the knee that I am to have platelet rich plasma treatments two weeks from now. Thankfully, I didn’t fracture it, or at least I assume that I didn’t because the surgeon hasn’t called me about it.

So, I persevere with the ear worms of the theme from Rocky III, The Eye Of the Tiger, and Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive blending into the constant ringing of my Tinnitus ravaged ears while walking like Dr. House, without the Vicodin.

Until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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