Friday, January 23, 2015

A Knee Replacement the Dutch Way

Exactly 2 weeks ago yesterday, yes, it happened!  And now that I'm on this side of it all, I do have my impressions...but sure would love to compare notes with someone in the US.

There are hundreds of images to show the knee prosthesis I now have.
I like this one because of the crucial "talking points."
Lucky for me, all my arthritic bits-n-bobs are now gone.

Starting 5 days before my January 8th surgery, I had to do all bathing and shampooing with a Betadine scrub
(iodine antispetic), including daubing both nostrils with Bactroban 3x/day.
This was to cut down on bacteria entering the hospital.
Astrid says the nose is one of the worst places for carrying bacteria!

Following the surgery, I must inject myself with Fraxiparine every day for 6 weeks
to prevent thrombosis.  It's not one of my favorite things to do, seriously.

It so happens our Beatrixziekenhuis here in Gorinchem is only a 10-minute bike ride from home.
They do 300 knee replacements there every year with a team of 4 excellent doctors.
My room for 5 days was up on the 6th floor, with a view of many Gorinchem landmarks
(which many of you will recognize by now).
My friend, Jannie, from our senior complex, had her surgery right after mine by the same doctor,
and we became roommates for the duration (with 2 other roomies).

To make a long story short, my surgery took only 45 minutes instead of the anticipated 1.5-2 hours.
They said it was because I had no fatty tissue to navigate.  Well, then.
However, I did have a low-blood-pressure "episode" that set me back my first 2 days.
Let's just say it scared the bejesus out of Astrid...but after I bounced back,
I was my old self again...except for the knee part.

The 5 days in the hospital were mainly for this CPM contraption:
Continous Passive Motion.
Every day my knee was stretched for 2 hours, first at 30-degrees, then, 50, 60 and 65.
I actually got into the swing of it and could even read or use my iPad.

What did they do in the days before this  miracle contraption?
(And yes, that's Dan Brown's Digital Fortress which I finished the day I got home.)

Did I ever mention that Astrid's DIL, Eva, is a security guard at this hospital?
When she visited me, she brought me this bear, bringing tears to my eyes.
How can something so "simple" be so soulful!

Now that I'm home, I have my main mode of transportation:  crutches.
It actually feels GOOD to walk, even outside, with them.  They help me stand tall and straight.
But when I need to transport items (like for breakfast and lunch when Astrid is at work),
the rollator comes to my rescue.  I use it for grocery shopping, too.

Then there's PT, of course, twice a week (4 sessions thus far, out of 24).
Right now I'm still doing half-moons on the exerciser, even at home, to increase ROM.
Talk about S.T.I.F.F.  Also, I still have one place that dang hurts,
which Eline, my PT, thinks is where the patella was stiched back on.  OUCH.

Exercise.  Exercise.  Exercise.
They told us to get a skateboard, which Astrid could have borrowed from her son.
Instead, she bought this home-improvement gismo (for moving furniture)
which is small enough to carry around with me, even to Rummikub.

And throughout everything, Astrid is always there wanting to help!  My Angel!
My foot really swelled up once after PT and she massaged it. 
You may remember that I was a licensed massage therapist for 8 years after my divorce,
but did I tell you Astrid was a sport's massage therapist in her day?  Yup.
I LOVE her hands.  Lucky me.

Speaking of Astrid, she went back to work this week, leaving me to my Ms. Independent self.  HA!
It's amazing how quickly the body bounces back to health and rehabiltation.

And to celebrate a milestone, yesterday at PT I was able to raise my foot 8" off the PT table,
the first time since my surgery.  I hope that means there's no stopping me now!

For all of you who stood in the background rooting me on, THANK YOU.
It's a long road to hoe and I have no illusions about the time it will take to get back into shape.
But I do like the idea that maybe Spring will "resurrect" the new me.  It's a good goal.

Saturday ADDENDUM:
Believe it or not, you can find an hour YouTube that shows a live knee-replacement surgery.
You would need a big stomach to...stomach it.  Trust me.
But dear Astrid found this very simple animated version which I find most educational.
It explains why I still have some sore spots.  HA!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Ostend, Belgium, End of November 2014

FINALLY, here's the last post of that wonderful trip to Belgium at the end of November over a month ago!  It was my goal to finish it all before I go into the hospital on Thursday for a left-knee replacement.  (But more on that later.)

It so happens that Astrid received an email while we were in Atlanta in October, giving us an offer too good to refuse:  4 days, 3 nights at a city-center hotel in Ostend, Belgium, full breakfast included, for €154 total.  Not per night.  Total.  After reading the fine print and seeing nothing askew with the offer, YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO ASK US TWICE.

Ostend is on the North Sea coast (remember the tram ride?).  It's a 15-minute train ride to Bruges, where we saw the Christmas market and the Snow & Ice Sculpture festival.  We arrived on Friday, December 28th, and left the following Monday, December 1st.

We loved being situated in the center of the city in a very cozy hotel and room.

Just a block away was the magical Winterijs wonderland, first day of its 2014 opening.

And since it was lunchtime, what better place to go native.
Brats with onions!

Then, we were on a mission to see as much of the city center as possible before nightfall.
We knew the rest of the weekend was "taken."

In hopes it would still be open, we first headed off to Ostend's main church,
with it's separate St. Peter's Tower across the street from 1478.

The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is a Roman Catholic neo-gothic church from 1899.

 And, yes, it was open!

It was the perfect time of the day to be there, with the sun prisms dancing around the stained glass.

When we went back outside, the sun caught this one spot of the rose window.
It was magical.

 Across the harbor from the church, a short walk away, was the train station.
I LOVE European train stations and boat harbors.
When you can get both together in the same photos, it feels better than perfect.

The next day, Saturday, when we took the train to Bruges, I got some close-ups.

 As we walked inland along the harbor, we came to the Zeilschip Mercator,
once a training ship for the Belgian merchant fleet, now a floating museum.

  If we can't take a joke, right?!

With the sun setting by late afternoon, we headed to the Albert I Promenade to catch it.
Sitting on a bench from 5-5:30, this is what we saw.

A brave surfer nearby was also catching the sun...and waves.

You always see things a bit differently at night, of course.

Back where we started from, even the Winterijs pavilion had perked up.

Ostend is a delightful city at any time of the year, I'm sure.
But we loved being there at the holiday time.

 As we often say, we were "short of eyes."

After all, Belgium is our neighbor to the south of us, just a 30-minute drive to the border.
We should probably go there more often!!!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

About that knee replacement:  After a volleyball accident in 1971, I have finally cried "UNCLE!"  I can hardly wait to get a new knee, even though I know I have a long row to hoe once it's done.  They say it's the most complicated of orthopedic surgeries but also one of the most successful.  So I am highly optimistic and expect nothing but the best.

Wish us both (poor Astrid!) much success, please and thank you.
And of course, I'll catch you up as soon as possible (after my 5-day hospital stay).

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year 2015, the Dutch Way

Just for the record (since this is part of what In Soul is about!), we got snow 2 days after Christmas.  We didn't have it at Kinderdijk this year but we did at least get it...something that doesn't happen every year in our neck of the world.  I was ecstatic.

We woke up Saturday morning, December 27th, to this.
It fell down wet and gloppy, at 34-degrees F, the entire day.
On the left, I'm looking out our back balcony; on the right I'm standing at our front door
(1st floor up) looking into our senior-living courtyard.

This gives you a feel for the "wet and gloppy."

The next day, Sunday, we walked around town to see the fun of it all.
How's that for ending an old year!

As we walked around, the nearby bakery had their New Year's kiosk up,
full of oliebollen and apple/pineapple beignets.

Astrid ordered our stash on the spot to be picked up on Wednesday...yesterday.

YUP, in time for Old Year's Eve, as the Dutch call it.
It's a Dutch thing to eat oliebollen and beignets the day before the New Year.

So we did...last evening and again today on this first day of 2015.
It only happens once a year, so eat up, Folks!
(We even got to bed and asleep by 1 a.m. after the fireworks toned down.)


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Day 2014 at Kinderdijk, NL

Surely you know by now it's one of my most soulful places on earth...and it's only 15 miles from where we live here in Gorinchem, NL.

It's our second time in my 6 Christmases here that we have driven to Kinderdijk, just because we wanted to give ourselves the Gift.  The first time was in 2010 when we had snow.  This year the snow came two days later...but who knew!

This year we decided to get there in time for the sunrise around 8:30 a.m.
And we did.

There was just a tad of color for a few minutes, but it was enough.

We are familiar now with how the 19 windmills are situated on the bike/walking path
next to the canals, and where the docks are.

At one point I did a 360-degree turn-around to show you what we saw from that one spot:

You can even see and hear the wind!

Astrid had fun with her tripod, doing the real serious photography.
We loved following each other around, doing our own thing.

As morning broke, the personalities of the windmills woke up.
People still live in these mills, pumping out the water from the polder.

 But there's too much water in this spot, one of the lowest below sea level in Holland.
So at the beginning of the path that leads to the windmills is this massive waterschroef
(water screw/pump), one of Europe's largest, to help with mechanical pumping.

It gives you a feel for how much water is being pumped out of the land to the nearby Lek river.

Once we were back in the car, on our way home for Christmas breakfast (!),

 we saw the sunbeams bursting out with their Christmas celebration.

And like opening presents one by one under the Christmas tree,
the weathervanes showed up.  This was CHRISTMAS for us both.

Since then, in these last days, I've manipulated 4 of the images of the day for my photoblog:

An old year is waning....

and still waning.....

And now it's dawning....

to one and all!

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Snow & Ice Sculpture Festival, Bruges 2014

First of all, happy 2nd Christmas Day from the official, national holiday!  We're still full of yesterday's drive to Kinderdijk to see the sunrise between 8:15-9:15 a.m.  But that's my next post.

Today it's a gift of WINTER from when we went to the Christmas market in Bruges, Belgium, on Saturday, November 29th.  I wanted to make this a separate post because...well, just because.

Since our hotel was in Ostend for our 4 nights, we decided to take the train to Bruges,
only 15 minutes away.  It was a no-brainer for the car and parking and hassle.
Ostend's train station from 1913 is gorgeous!

Astrid had already researched the Snow & Ice Sculpture Festival in Bruges before our trip.
It is literally just outside the Bruges train station.
It was a no-brainer to see it, even at €15/€13 each, because of the theme:
Ice Magic:  The Land of the Hobs, based on JRR Tolkien's Hobbit stories.

Where do I start?!  The Magic was everywhere.
Do you see a wizard?

Photography was challenging, not only because it was cold (-6° C = 21.2° F)
but because the lights kept changing color.

Do you recognize anything from the Hobbit stories?

The dwarves and trolls and goblins, for instance.

This archer was one of my favorites, even though he didn't come out well.

 The detail was incredible.  This is all ice, Folks...

...except for the chandelier, I assume
(300 tons of crystal-clear ice and 400 tons of snow in 12,000 sq. meters of space). 

It was so C.O.L.D. we had to stop for some hot Glühwein midway through.
Seriously.  It's been a long time since my hands have been that cold.
Have you ever been to an ice bar to get warm?  HA!

It was easier to get chummy with the natives once we got warm(er).

But Astrid was the true hero when she was willing to do the ice slide.
The left image was one we bought for show-n-tell (why not!), since we're both in it.

And lucky for me, I actually caught her!  You get the feel of it, don't you.

After the show (totally worth it) we then walked into Bruges for the Christmas market,
which I've already shown you here.  It was such a beautiful day.

By 5p we were ready to go back to Ostend, catching the 5:29 train, from where we started.
Look how the tents were lit up for the snow and ice festival.

It all really was magical and we're so glad we did it.
Merry Christmas, everyone!