Archives For Health

I have a sweet tooth so large that if my body were in proportion to its size I’d be as big as a wooly mammoth. I’ve had this sweet tooth for as far back as I can remember. As a kid growing up in Atlanta my mother used to make absolutely magically awesome Toll House cookies from scratch. There were no easy-to-open Toll House cookie dough cans during the 1960s, so my mom made hers from all the necessary ingredients, mixed everything with her Sears mixer, and carefully baked then in the oven. The aroma of those baking cookies filed the house and spilled out the open doors and windows into the yard, which is where I’d be helping my dad or playing with my brothers. As soon as I smelled them I was first through the door into the kitchen. She quickly learned to make a double batch every time, hiding the majority of them so I wouldn’t eat them all the same day she made them.

As I grew older my sweet tooth kept up. For example I used to work the camera department part-time at a local J.C. Penny’s while going to college. Unfortunately for me the candy department was right next to the camera department. I’d go over just about every night shift, when things got slow, and buy a half pound of chocolate covered raisins, and eat them all before going home. And yet, because of my youth and running I managed to burn calories and thus keep the weight gain at bay.

Then I got a real job as an engineer, the kind where you sit behind a desk. Unbeknownst to me, sugar itself was changing. Up until about the mid-1970s sugar was sucrose, Dixie Crystals made from good old-fashioned cane sugar. But about that time high fructose corn syrup began to be substituted for cane sugar in just about everything, including my beloved Coca Cola (on which, living in Atlanta, I was just about weaned on), which I drank like a drunken sailor. My sweet tooth, combined with a growing sedentary lifestyle, resulted in a growing weight gain. When I married at 28 I was 6’4″ and 200 pounds, already up from my college weight of 190. At my current age of 63 I weigh 260. That’s not good, no matter what anybody says.

Starting with my trip to Denver around Christmas I decided to not so much as lose weight as to tackle the fundamental problem in my diet, my addiction to sugar. That’s when I stopped literally eating candy. To combat the craving I started chewing Mentos and eating Ice Breakers Raspberry Duos. I’m doing that now, rather than raid the candy machine or head over to the local canteen. The other unspoken about junk food I’ve managed to switch off of cold turkey are snack foods like Cheetos and just about any chip in general. Those were easy enough to turn off. The other sweet item I’ve managed to pretty much turn off completely is diet soda. While it might seem wrong to eat or chew sugar-free candy, I’ve known for some time that guzzling diet sodas comes with its own issues. Substituting water, unsweetened tea, or coffee for diet sodas has helped to control the urges for sugar. While those urges seem to crop up occasionally, they’re not nearly as strong as they once were with the artificially sweetened diet soda cut out.

What I have here is a repeat of all those busted prior New Years resolutions to lose weight, except the focus is a lot narrower and hopefully more achievable this year – break the sweets/sugar habit once and for all. And while I’m at it, go back to my roots as it were, eating a lot more fruits and vegetables like I once did while growing up in Atlanta. After three weeks I am feeling better. It looks like this resolution will succeed, helping to re-create a healthy dietary foundation I can build on going forward. This isn’t about living longer, it’s about living better.

queueing in line with my new knee

It’s been three weeks since my knee was replaced. During that period the incision has pretty much healed and most of the swelling has gone down. I can stand up straight without any aids, especially in a line like I did for lunch last Friday. I’d gone out for a late lunch after spending a good hour-and-a-half in physical training. While in PT I was measured at 110° flexibility. I was also able to (slowly) spin an a recumbent bike machine, with the bike seat back as far as it cold go. I’m going to start driving around the neighborhood this weekend, to see if I can drive around Orlando in general starting next week. Lots of personal achievements so I celebrated by going out to lunch with my wife at a local Pei Wei and having my usual, sesame chicken with brown rice.

While I was there I also noticed two stores next to the Pei Wei has closed. One of them, the first photo in the sequence below, was a Lime Fresh Mexican Grill. The second was some sort of exercise business. I felt worse about the Lime Fresh because that was my go-to comfort food place when I had my left knee replaced back in 2012.

former lime green another dead store

Life doesn’t stand still for a second. I don’t know why they closed, considering they both were located at the intersection of I-4 and Sand Lake Road, in a shopping center anchored by the only Whole Foods in south west Orlando, just a mile south of Universal Studios. In other words prime real estate and location. Our economy still has problems.

2012-toyota-prius-5dr-hb-three-natl-angular-front-exterior-view_100384979_lI own a perl white 2012 Prius. You know, the Real Prius, not not one of the newer designs Toyota came out with that same model year. Since my operation I’ve been totally dependent upon my wife to drive me around in my Prius to where-ever I need to be. Driving for me is out of the question because I can’t yet flex my right leg enough to handle both the brake and accelerator pedals. So I’m forced by circumstances to ride shotgun.

Before this I never thought twice about getting into a car on either side. I just opened the door and slide inside and closed the door after me. A few seconds of activity. Easy-peasy as they say.

But with this leg in the shape it’s currently in I’ve had to learn a whole different way of getting into the shotgun side of the car. Keep in mind I’m 6 feet 4 inches tall.

  1. Open the right front passenger door.
  2. Make sure the right front passenger seat is as far back as possible.
  3. Make sure the back is at a 45 degree angle, not upright.
  4. Stand with both feet close to the open door essentially facing the driver’s side.
  5. Reach down and in and hold the top of the seat near the headrest.
  6. Lift up the right leg and put it in first, as far into the front as possible.
  7. Duck the head further down and into the doorway and pull the body over the seat.
  8. At the same time pull my left leg in after, flexing it so that I can then rotate 90 degrees from facing the drivers seat to facing forward where I can sit in the shotgun seat.
  9. At this point, once seated, reach back out and pull the door close.

Trying to get in the old way, left leg first, was a no-go as I couldn’t bend my right leg far enough to clear the door. After having practiced this since last Thursday when I to see the surgeon and imaging people, I’ve gotten to where I’m just as fast this was as with the old way. Which means that I can at least be driven to where I need to go for the next week. In the mean time I’m working on my at-home PT to get that flexibility back in that right leg. I’ve got to get back to where I can safely drive again.

lying about slowly healing

It’s been a week and a day since my right knee was fully replaced. I can walk about the house without any aid, and I can use my collapsible Traverse trekking pole when I’m outdoors to help with stability, just in case. Otherwise I stay indoors and move around helping to keep things clean and straight as best I can. These past few days I was able to do things like wash dirty pots and scrub the kitchen sink, as well as fix spaghetti Saturday night. These sound like such little, trivial tasks until you can’t do them or only with difficulty. Even getting a shower requires I wrap the incision with Glad Press ‘N’ Seal to keep water off and out of the wound to avoid any possibility of infection. Right now my dressing is almost totally clean when I change it daily. One more week of this…

I’m not the only one needing special comfort. Lulu went to visit the vet on Thursday, the same day I had to visit my surgeon for a post-0p checkup. She went to get her teeth cleaned and checked. Unfortunately for her she lost three, two of which are feline equivalents to wisdom teeth. When she came back she was OK, but she started to stay next to me a lot more than usual. Friday night she came up and slept next to me in my chair for comfort.

resting with dad

She’s since gotten back to her old Lulu self, but this past week seems to have deepened a bond between us even further.

The Florida Gingersnaps have been out and about in the central part of the house, running and playing. At 16 weeks, which was the week of my knee operation, they were six plus pounds each, or two pounds ahead of schedule. Kittens are supposed to add a pound/month. The Gingersnaps and Lulu seem to be getting along pretty well. More than once I’ve seen all three just lying close to each other on the floor, usually when the Gingersnaps get tired from chasing toys and themselves.

full right knee replacment

Dr Steven Nguyen, 12 February 2016

Yesterday (Friday 12 February) I had a full right knee replacement. The doctor who performed the procedure is Dr. Steven Nguyen (Dr. Vuong B Nguyen MD). The operation was treated as an out-patient procedure. I was at the same-day surgery facility at 5:30am, prepped by 7am, done by 8:30am, and back at home by 1:30pm. I’ve been recovering at home since. The facility was just 10 minutes from where I live. That, along with the excellent recommendations of the doctor and the way he performs the procedure, tipped me to going with him for my right knee.

My left knee was a partial performed by Dr. Brian Vickaryous, part of the Cole group at Florida hospital. The biggest difference between the two was the three days I spent in the hospital. I’m a lousy hospital patient and I’m glad that this newest procedure allowed me to go home as soon as I was reasonably lucid. They are both highly skilled surgeons and I’m fortunate to have benefited from their considerable skills in orthopedic surgery.

Dr. Vickaryous and the MAKOplasty robot

Dr. Vickaryous, 2 November 2012