A Week Gone By

My new cast.

When I began my journey to full ankle replacement I had so many questions that I couldn’t get answers to. I talked to a couple people who had had it done but they really didn’t help much.

After some thought I decided to record my journey and do a series of blogs outlining my recovery. I figured those who were thinking about having the surgery could maybe get some of their questions answered to help them in the decision process.

First off a little history about myself. 66 years old, 6 feet tall, overweight (250 lbs) with high blood pressure. Retired farrier. Injury happened in 1980 crushed heel, broke ankle and broke instep. Never took a step without pain since it happened. Lived with chronic pain for 40 years. Warning: some of the photos are graphic

Surgery was 10/07 and I had my follow up doctor visit today 10/15. Cast was removed. The incision looked good and the doctor was pleased.

After a thorough examination Doctor Sloan informed me that I was to return in 2 weeks at which time he would remove new cast and I would begin physical therapy. He then applied the new cast.

My thoughts on the first week. I know everyone has a different pain threshold. Mine has always been relatively high. Ten years ago I was kicked by a horse and I incurred 2 broken ribs and a bruised spleen and was shoeing horses 3 days later. Pain chart I am using 1 is little pain, 10 horrible pain. They used a nerve block on me which lasted almost 14 hours so that helped. The first 3 days my pain grade bounced between a 4 and an 8. I am not going to kid you. It hurt like hell, but it was bearable. By day 4, 5, and 6 the pain began to ease considerably. I still had my moments but they were fewer and farther between. On days 6, 7 and 8 I only took 1 pain pill each day.

My biggest mistake was not losing weight and I had plenty of time to do that and didn’t do it. I couldn’t put any weight on my foot so my arms, shoulders, left leg and foot were taxed heavily when I needed to go mobile. Then figure in my age with this it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out if I would have dropped 40 pounds it would have helped my predicament a lot. I also should have done some upper body strength exercises. Even though I had plenty of time I didn’t do either. Two things that would have cost me nothing but would have benefited my endeavor immensely. Lesson learned!

That pretty much sums everything up. If you decide to get the surgery don’t be a Wayne, use your brain instead. I know, I wish I would have.

A Long Way To Go!

The art of healing comes from nature not from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind. “ – Paracelsus

One thing I didn’t give much consideration and I wish now I would have, is physical strength. Presently I can’t put any weight on my right foot. At 66 years old it has produced a little bit of a problem. I have to use my upper body strength to get up and down. I am managing but wear out quickly. I would recommend working on your upper body strength to make moving around and walking easier.

As far as pain I can report that it hasn’t been real bad. I talked to two people who had went through the surgery and had a battle with pain. They are healed up and life is good for them with their new ankles. My first couple days I ran around an 8 on the pain scale but stay around a 2 now. What I call the “healing itch” has started and I am treating it with Benadryl and it seems to be working fine.

October 10, 2020

Day three and no problems so far. One thing i have learned is how important it is to keep my foot elevated. It keeps the swelling down for sure.

My biggest cocern was getting around. I had access to a walker and my insurance would pay for crutches. The crutches make it easier to navigate steps.

The pain was an 8 the first 3 days and today it has subsided a lot to a 2. I must confess I was a little worried because I had heard from a couple they had a real tough time. I hope I’m not jinxing myself.

So if you are thinking about getting a full ankle replacement all I can say is it isn’t going to be a cake walk. It is going to be tough. I plan on keeping you posted on my progress.

Hope?

Surgery is done.

The day finally arrived. I had mixed emotions. Nervous, skeptical and hope. My accident happened in 1980. I crushed my heel, broke my ankle and broke my instep. That is when the pain started.

Fast forward to 2019 when I changed primary physician. He referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. He informed me ankle replacements had been happening for 25 years. He said he could help me so here we are.

It started at 10 am. Not sure when the surgery was finished but I awoke around 5:15 pm. I thought they were going to keep me but they decided to send me home. I guess one can really say this is where my journey begins.

I havent taken a step without pain for 40 years. I have lived with chronic pain. It wasn’t as bad in the beginning but it has got worse over the years. The surgery is supposed to take care of the pain. Time will tell.

Note: I plan on recording my recovery through my blog.

Life Is Precious

“I hope I can be like the autumn leaf, who looked at the sky and lived. And when it was time to leave, gracefully it knew life was a gift.” – Dodinsky

We live in such a fast paced world today. Always on the move. No time to enjoy life. We have became a society of instant gratification.

So many people take others for granted and even life itself. We assume that when the sun rises tomorrow everything will be the same. Will it?

We are so busy that we don’t take the time to reach out to friends and family to just hear their voice or to see how they are doing. There is no guarantee that they will enjoy tomorrow. There is no guarantee that any of us will see the next sunrise.

How many times have you entertained the idea of calling them or sending a note or card and you didn’t do it? Then a couple weeks later you hear that death has knocked upon their door.

Life is precious. Friendship is a gift. Celebrate life every day and give thanks that you were given another day to enjoy life, friends and family. Don’t take anything or anyone for granted.

Get up early and watch the sunrise or at the end of the day sit, be still and watch the sun set. Stop! Slow down! Take the time to enjoy your life, family and friends. Tomorrow may be to late.

Dutch Oven Cornish Hens

Half hour from being done.

I love cooking in the DOs. Food tastes so much better. I never pass up good road kill. After all it has already been tenderized and why let the meat go to waste if it’s salvageable?

I have this great daughter in law who isn’t big on wild game. One day my son and her were at the house for a BBQ. I walked in the house and there she was going through the trash looking at the meat wrappers. The look on her face was priceless. She told me she didn’t trust me and had always checked the meat wrappers. She was afraid I might slip a squirrel or possum in on her. God love her. Sorry I digress. Back to tonight’s supper.

My original plan was a Cornish Hen stew but with a cloud bank building in the west I knew I wouldn’t have enough time. I opted to just bake them and make some dressing.

I normally bake them at 325 degrees but went with 375 degrees to speed things up. After I wash them thoroughly I rub them down with olive oil then season them with chicken seasoning.

I used a 10 inch deep Dutch Oven. I used 17 briquettes on the lid and 6 briquettes on the bottom. I preheat the oven for 15 minutes then I placed the hens in the oven. I will cook them for an hour and a half. Now Dutch Oven cooks have their own way of doing things. To get an even cook I rotate the lid 1 quarter of a turn clockwise and I rotate the oven 1 quarter turn counterclockwise every 15 minutes. I consider this an essential part of the process.

I thought I had a bag of cornbread fixings for the dressing but it turned out to be just a bag of stovetop dressing mix so I had to modify it to bake in a DO. I added 1 egg and a 1/4 cub of melted butter. I then added some chicken seasoning and enough chicken broth to get the desired consistency and poured it into a 10 inch DO that was preheated. I baked it at 350 degrees for a half hour. I used 12 briquettes on the lid and 3 underneath careful not to burn the cornbread on the bottom. I did the fifteen minute rotation.

Cornish hens on right cornbread on left.

My grandson will be upset with me because he loves my Cornish Hens. Even though I had to change my supper plans in midstream it still turned out quite tasty.

Dutch Oven cooking is gaining in popularity. It definitely is an art and takes a lot of practice but it is well worth the time spent learning. As near as I can figure I have been doing it for nearly 40 years. I have a MACA 15 inch deep oven that I can cook a 13 pound turkey in. Turkey never tasted better. Hope you enjoyed my blog and thanks for reading.

Cowboy Coffee

Cowboy Coffee is done.

I couldn’t sleep so I decided to get up and get a fire going and make some Cowboy Coffee. I know there are all of those designer coffees available and I can’t forget Starbucks. I was told one time you never had a real cup of coffee until you had one from Starbucks. Well I beg to differ.

Ain’t nothing better than a cup of Cowboy Coffee when made right. I use Kent Rollins recipe. I use 1/4 cup of coffee grounds to 1 quart water. The pot in the pic is a 4 quart. Don’t add grounds until water is warm then bring to a rolling boil for about 4 to 6 minutes then remove from heat and let rest 2 minutes. Then pour about a cup of cold water around the inside of the pot and down the spout. That will settle the grounds. If you prefer it stronger add more coffee or boiling time. Check out Kent Rollins at Kent Rollins.com or check him out on YouTube.

Waiting for it to boil.

A lot of friendships have been made over a cup of coffee. I myself always love sharing a cup of coffee with a friend. When I am out camping and get the coffee going it doesn’t take long for the aroma to get the other campers attention. I don’t know how many times I have had people stop at my camp and partake of my coffee. Like anything else it took me a while to master the art of making good Cowboy Coffee. Kent Rollins taught me through his videos and he is one heck of a Dutch Oven cook.

A couple of notes. If you grind your own coffee the coarser it is the longer it has to boil. Cowboy Coffee is best when made in a seasoned pot. You have heard all good things come to those who wait, well you have to have patience when you make coffee this way. The wait is worth it though.

One Of Those Days

Spotted Bass (24 inches)

The above pic is a spotted bass that I caught on the St. Francois River. It was a tad over 24 inches. Using the App Fishing Scale it put the fish at 8.5 pounds. I returned it to the water only to find out later that the state record is 7 pounds 8 ounces. Yep it was one of those days. Now on to my day on the Big River.

It was just another glorious day on the Big River in Missouri. Bright blue sky with a touch of those puffy white clouds and temp in the mid 70s. I was floating a stretch of Big River that I love to fish. I put in at the Mammoth access and float to Merrill Horse access. It is a beautiful stretch of river with great smallmouth fishing. It has areas of shallow fast moving water followed by slow moving deep water and limestone bluffs. I usually see deer and there are a pair of Bald Eagles that I usually see around the bluffs. The fishing has always been pretty decent and plenty of spotted bass, largemouth bass and smallies.

Smallmouth Bass

That day I was having great success with a Rebel Wee Craw. I caught 6 smallies that were 13 inches and better. I had just went through a pretty narrow swift stretch of water that emptied into a shallow wider area of water but still fast moving. There was a place at the edge of a weed bed that swirled into an eddy. I maneuvered the yak where the bow was pointing upstream. I placed the Wee Craw right on the edge of the weeds when BAM! something hit it hard. I set the hook and the fight was on. I could tell it was a nice fish. It was pulling line but the bad thing was I was floating backwards downstream and couldn’t see what was behind me but on a good note I was still in the center of the river. Things were going good then it went to hell in a hand basket. I had got caught in an eddy that was pulling me into the bank and spinning the bow of the yak down river. By some miracle I got the bow headed back upstream but that was the end of the miracles. I was parallel to the bank in about three feet of water. I got it beside the yak and my heart started beating a hundred miles an hour. Hooked on the Wee Craw was the biggest smallie I had ever hooked. It dwarfed the 24 inch spotted bass I had caught. I completely blew my attempt to lip it. I was better than that. Well down under the yak it went and there in the water on the other side was a tree about 16 feet long with all its limbs. The smalli3 could its way to freedom and without hesitating the smallie began weaving through limbs until the line stopped pulling and after three tugs broke my line and disappeared into the waters of the Big River. I could hear it laughing. All I could do is sit there and slap my rod tip on the water over and over like a five year old child. I was devastated.

The image of that smallie is etched in my mind. It looked like one of those big samllies you see in the Bass Pro Shop tanks. Only if I hadn’t have blown trying to lip it. I made a rookie mistake even though I was a seasoned veteran. I had ran out of miracles. Yeah it was one of those days. One of those days I will never forget.

For those of you unfamiliar with smallmouth bass in Missouri Ozark streams it takes a samllie five years to reach 12 inches, seven years to reach 15 inches and nine to ten years to attain a length of 18 inches. Presently very few live more than seven to eight years. Missouri has a length limit of 15 inches on small mouth.

What would I have done if I had landed it? Put it on the board and took a measurement, took a picture, ok several pictures, then returned it to the water so it could finish living out its life. That’s the way I roll. I may have not landed that smallie that day but I will always cherish the memory.

A Welcome Memory

“I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. ” E.B. White / Letters of E. B. White

At 66 years of age I still prefer primitive camping in my one man tent. I prefer to leave the conveniences of the modern day world at home. Right, wrong or indifferent if I am going to take a camper filled with the luxuries of home then I would rather stay home or just stay in a motel.

I set up camp on my property in Frank Clay, Missouri. It is 12.65 acres filled with oak, hickory, and walnut with patches of sassafras and cedar sprinkled in. There is abundant wildlife, deer, squirrels and turkey.

It is so quiet and peaceful you can hear yourself think. It is my safe place when I can’t go to the river. It is another place I can go to rid my mind of all the negative energy that I let in. Only positive thinking allowed.

The sun is starting to sink in the west so I get busy setting up camp. Once done I start a fire so I can get started preparing supper.

Sweet taters, corn on the cob and Cornish hens. No finer eating than food prepared in Dutch ovens. Once done cleaning up it is time to sit and relax around the campfire.

As I sit in my chair reflecting on my day I hear the lonesome bawl of a hound in the distance. There is a chance of rain in the forecast. There is a cloud bank in the west. I can just make out the sound of distant thunder. Lightning is visible as it dances among the clouds illuminating the night sky. What a glorious light show to see. Absolutely breathtaking.

As I become engrossed in the show Mother Nature has so graciously provided for my entertainment I lose track of all time. A breeze begins to move down the ridge into the valley and arouses me from my thoughts. The lightning and sound of thunder is closer. I can smell the scent of rain carried in by the breeze. Rain is close.

The wind begins to blow hard across the woodlands I quickly go to work putting my fire out and securing anything that might blow away. J wind is blowing hard enough my tent looks like it is dancing.

I can feel the mist from the rain against my face. I crawl into my tent and settle in not knowing what to expect from the approaching storm. The first raindrop lands on my tent and is soon followed II many more. My tent is being pelted by the rain that is now a downpour but the wind has slowed. I can only hope that it stays dry inside the tent. I love to listen to the sound of the rain upon my tent. I don’t know how long I lay there listening to the rain before Mr Sandman came to visit.

Equal At Last

Today was a day for pulling maintenance on the lawn equipment I use for caring for the cemeteries I maintain during grass cutting season. As I went about my work my mind dwelled on those buried within the three cemeteries.

The three are located in Farmington, MO. K of P, Masonic and Odd Fellow cemeteries. All three are rich with history.

There are those buried there that were famous, wealthy, middle class and poor. Some of the headstones are quite ornate and some are just plain and simple. There are family plots and individuals. Some are decorated with flowers regularly, some just at holidays and some never have anything placed upon their graves.

They come from all walks of life. Athletes, politicians, veterans, wealthy businessmen and those who lived everyday normal life’s who worked hard to make both ends meet. Those buried next to people they never knew. In life they may have never really been equal but now in their final resting place they are now equal in the end.

(Note: above picture is of Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery)