The View from my Deck
At the risk of boring you with tedious repetition, I just had to throw up this photo of the view from my deck yesterday afternoon. It is similar to the photo on Monday’s post, though that view was taken from the mouth of the river. This one does a bit more to convey the incredible vastness, though it still falls short of reality. The two volcanoes, Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Illiamna, seem much larger and closer in the actual view and dominate the scenery far more dramatically than these photos suggest. And that sense of wide-openness that falls away with the curve of the earth? Nothing captures that. The huge bald eagles soaring through it show up only as specks on the photos.
Lest anyone miss the obvious here, let me just say yes, I am totally enthralled with this view. It is mesmerizing. I can gaze at it for hours. Preferably without window glass between it and me, but at yesterday morning’s frosty five degrees below zero, I was glad to appreciate the view from inside. By afternoon the temperature had risen to twenty above, and with no wind blowing it was quite pleasant to sit in the sun on the south-facing side of the house and gaze into the endless distance.
I am now four weeks out from hip replacement surgery for idiopathic avascular necrosis. Overall, my recovery is proceeding quite well. I am off crutches and getting around much more easily, though always mindful of hip precautions: don’t flex the hip more than 90 degrees, don’t cross the body’s midline with that foot, don’t internally rotate that hip (point the toe in). I go to physical therapy twice a week and do exercises at home to regain strength in the leg and increase range of motion. It is slow going, but there is steady progress.
The pre-op I went through prior to the hip replacement included an MRI of the hip. Eighteen months ago I had plain x-rays of that hip which were normal; by this past July, x-rays showed essentially no joint left (which validated the excruciating pain I was in, but otherwise was not reassuring). My surgeon, Dr. L. (dubbed “the turtle” by Jody for his slow and measured approach), wanted the MRI to distinguish between incredibly rapid progression of arthritis and avascular necrosis. It indicated the latter.
It also revealed an incidental finding of an ill-defined mass in my abdomen. The MRI was followed by abdominal and pelvic CT scan, with and without contrast. The mass remained ill-defined, though appeared to be located in the retroperitoneal area (behind the abdominal cavity, not inside it) and appeared to be cystic (fluid-filled). Both are strongly encouraging that the mass is not malignant. But it does need to come out.
Dr. L called in a general surgeon he thinks highly of, Dr. M. Dr. M reviewed the studies and came and spoke with me while I was admitted for the hip. He said if he had any suspicion of malignancy, he would wait no more than two weeks from the hip surgery before taking me back to the OR. As it was, he was comfortable waiting six to eight weeks.
So as the hip heals, I’m preparing for the next hurdle. Tomorrow I drive up to Anchorage for ultrasound-guided needle biopsy of the mass. I’m not queasy, but I don’t look forward to that procedure. Hopefully the full surgical removal will follow shortly after that. Then another four weeks of recovery, and I hope to be back to work by early January.
And for those of you who are wondering in just what direction Tundra Medicine Dreams may be going now that I no longer live on the tundra, I have to tell you that I wonder the same thing. Today it sounds as though TMD is becoming a patient blog, though that is not my intention and I promise to keep this part short. I’ve become so erratic about posting that I felt some explanation was due.
Labels: Life in Kenai