Normality?

Normality, or whatever comes close to that, I am finally getting there, I have started to catch up on all those niggly jobs that have been piling up, whilkst I have been out of action, and a few more besides. I have tol watch how I move, sit and climb, but in the main they are all doable!

Our furry friends have not given up, one gave Marcela a fright the other evenikng, she went to the bin, and there was a possum walking across our patio polycarbonate roof, I found out last week that these animals are protected by law, I’m not sure why, and when I mentioned it to my neighbour, he couldn’t understand it either, as he said everyone around here dispatches them. Suffice it to say, not only have I ordered electric fencing, but also laid bait for the ‘Rats’ in the area!

The other day, I was resiting one of my solar lights, when I had a good view across my solar panels, the possums have been using them as their toilet!

Disgusting creatures, must be the warmth from the panels, so this morning whilst Marcela held the ladder, I cleaned them off with a broom and the hosepipe.

Unfortunately I then noticed that the solar panel we had crazing on, has also changed shape, whether it’s still working at full capacity is beyond me, but it certainly isn’t right (the panel at the top of the above picture).

We have been taking advice from other Solar Companies in the area, and it appears that NATAM Colombia, the company who installed the system, doesn’t exist, it’s a bogus Company, which is still advertising, the advise we were given was rubbish, the system installed will never save us money, because it will always draw current from the Grid, but on the good side, as long as it works, it will fulfill the reason we had it installed in the first placed, it will supply us with electric when there is a power cut.

We were also informed, that we could never get the system legalised by the Public Service Company, because they don’t recognise the invertor that was installed, so there is no point continuing that route, it just means that unused power will not go back out into the Grid. We have three options, stay as we are, as I say that will give us power, when there is a powercut, to all except the showers, which had to bypass the solar system because of the power needed, secondly, replace the invertor with one with a bigger capacity, and have the system legalised, or thirdly, replace the invertor, add panels and batteries and go totally off-grid. We have decided that we don’t want to spend any more, so will stay as we are for now, although we might have to replace the damaged panel at some point.

Another problem we had encountered was that because we are an all cold water system here, with the exception of the electric showers, when things are washed, such as pillow cases, they are clean, but leave the grease marks from hair, so after a bit if internet research, I have my own hand powered washing machine.

It works on the principle of the old dolly system, I bought a toilet plunger (yes, a new one!) and drilled holes around it, I also bought a 5 gallon bucket with lid, and drilled a central hole for the plunger handle.

You fill the bucket with cold water, add Aerial washing liquid, which is stronger than our normal soap, also colour restorer, which is the same as Vanish under a different name, them hand plunge the material for a few minutes, leave it soaking for 10-20 minutes, plunge again, then put in the washing machine with the rest of the wash, hey bingo! it comes out clean!

Yesterday, we had a new car alarm system fitted, I think the current system has been there since new in 2008, and the remotes were giving up the ghost. The Lad came to the house to fit it, and did a great job, now we just have to remeber not to leave the keys in the car and shut the door, because it self locks after 20 seconds, I wonder which of us will be the first to be locked out!

We have also made a decision to have some more work done by Jaime, we are having a balcony built on to the back of the house, which will give us 10m2, it will be accessed from the Dining Room, and when the sun goes off the covered patio, we will be able to sit for another hour or two, and have the benefit of the views down the valley. We’ll confirm it tomorrow, but I think work is starting next week!

Again, that just about brings us up to date, now we will have to see what else I can find to do.

Getting There!

Without trying to sound big-headed, I am pretty pleased with myself, I am not yet five weeks after my hip surgery, and I have gone from the zimmer frame, to a walking stick and for the last week, no stick, as long as I am on a flat surface.

I have made a point of doing my exercises daily, and they have changed every two or three days, depending on my virtual Physio appointment. I have had a total of ten Physio sessions, eight virtual, and two face to face at the house. I had my last session yesterday, and that comprised of, telling me what I can, and can’t do until I see the Surgeon again at the end of March.

I can now bend, as long as I extend my operated hip behind me, I can sit in lower seats, as long as I do it in a certain manner. I can climb ladders and steps, as long as I ensure they are secured, but I do that anyway… well, most of the time! Surprisingly, I can use my Brushcutter, because I swing that side to side, I thought that would be a no,no, but apparently not.

Some things, like having to get on the floor to change my house water filters, I can do, it is going to take a lot more time to get down, and back up again, he showed me how to get down, and to have someone to help me, but it is doable, so that’s a job for this week sometime.

Hopefully this week, I will be able to drive again, but I will have to see how putting pressure on my operated leg, goes, when managing the pedals. Once that’s OK, I have to make an appointment to go for my Driving Licence Medical, it expires in May, after ten years, and because I am over 60, it now only lasts five years, until I am 80, then yearly. However I was talking with Marcela, we both agree that depending on my health, I will either hang up my keys at 74, or 79 years, I am not someone who thinks I have to keep driving until I drop dead, I rather bow out with a relatively clean driving record, than cause an accident, and believe it or not, Marcela isn’t a bad driver…for a Colombian, ha! ha!. I have already decided that this time, I am not applying to renew my motorcycle licence, I will not ride again, and risk my prosthetic hip.

I am over the moon at all the things, albeit small in nature, that I am now able to do again, because, that reduces the list of things Marcela has to do. I thought she would be happy about it, but initially she wasnt. I think she felt she was showing her worth, not that she needs to do that, I couldn’t manage without her, new hip or not, she is, and has always been my rock! As I reminded her, if I have a knee done later this year, she needs to make the most of the time, as this will all start again!

Our problem with Possums is starting again, I had erected temporary floodlights, which we switched on at night, and off in the morning, and that kept them off the house roof, but in a bid to cut costs, I bought some more solar security lamps, unfortunately they are not as powerful, and only stay on for 20 seconds, then reset, I think the possums worked this out, as a result they are back, waking us, and the dogs at 3am, running around on the roof.
This morning I had had enough, I went out at 3am, when they arrived, lit him or her up on the roof, and fired a shot from my pistol into the air, and it bolted… into the gutter, which as I suspected, they are using to get around the house. Nothing more was heard from them overnight.

This morning, I have removed the solar lights, and hardwired one of the ‘temporary’ floodlights into our patio light circuit, it means those lights have to stay on overnight, but it’s added security, so I’m not bothered, and the roof will be well lit nightly…job done!

Now to go and see what other jobs I can find to do.

Phase Two

To be honest unless you want to know what exercises I have been doing there is not a lot to tell. I have been making steady progress, the exercises change every two or three days, when I have contact with the Physio.

I went to see the Surgeon on the 4th, and she was pleased with progress, all being well I should be able to drive in another couple of weeks. I was given the disk with the X-ray of my implant, she has done an excellent job.

I had my first outing last week, we went to our favourite Shopping Mall in Rionegro, intentionally because it’s all on the flat, and there is a lift between floors. I walked for a while, then Marcela went to Customer Services, and borrowed a wheelchair for the rest of the the ‘tour’ it was just nice to get out!

I am now on a walking stick, and think that is the best I will get for now, my Physio asked to see my MRI on my knees, I sent him a copy, and he showed them to another Surgeon, who confirmed that they are both shot, and if I want quality life, they will both have to be replaced, one after the other, I did ask if there was the possibility of a double replacement, but was told, only if I wanted to spend months in Hospital, which I dont, so it looks like another eighteen months before I become the ‘Bionic Man’!

It’s nice to be able to shower, without worrying about getting the dressing wet, the last on came off last week, the scar is about 7-8″ long, I wont show the photo, it doesn’t exactly look beautiful, but the Surgeon did a tidy job.

The Physio, Sebastian, has provided me with a TENS machine, which I have bought off him, not for the hip, which is more or less pain free now, but for my knees, whilst doing the hip exercises, and its doing a great job, the inflammation of my knee has gone down, I have had my own machines in the past, I haven’t a clue where they disappeared, I probably lost them in divorce custody battles!

Changing the subject, we have more possum problems, Jaime came out, with a couple of Labourers to move my wood pile from alongside the workshop, down to the store in the orchard, but there was no sign of possums, after the last one I dispatched. That night we, and Pepe heard them on the roof running around, not something we want, albeit, thanks to Jaime’s work, they are now on top of the house tiles, but living under my workshop roof tiles, and running between buildings, so my first job was to set up the wildlife camera.

Within 30 seconds of me uploading the video to Facebook, Jaime was on the phone to Marcela, suggesting that he install and electric barrier around my workshop roof, as we all think, they are climbing the perimeter metal fencing and using the elctric and camera cables to cross to my workshop roof.


I say ‘they’ because my sharp eyed Mother-in-law noticed in the last clip of the video, as the Possum passed, there were a pair of eyes from another in the background, and they are not small.

We have asked Jaime to arrange it when he has time. In the meantime I have installed temporary spotlights to illuminate the house roof from dusk until dawn, I haven’t got any spare solar lights with movement sensors, so we plug them in before going to bed and unplug in the morning, and so far, no more possums at night, but we suspect they are keeping to the workshop roof, because Pepe is still showing a great interest in the workshop area.

Today we say good-bye to my Mother-in law, Maria Elena, she has been with us since before my surgery, to take the workload off Marcela, and she has been a godsend, bless her, but she has her own commitments, so for now she is returning home, with our thanks. Fortunately I can now do a lot more for myself, so hopefully Marcela will accept that, and let me take the pressure off her shoulders.

Another benefit of the last month is that, Maria Elena and I have got on great, and if as we suspect the time will come that she can no longer live alone, the Apartment / CabaƱa is hers, if she so chooses!

I think that brings me back up to date, so other than a catastrophic mishap, Hip recovery is exceeding expectations.

Phase one completed!

Monday came, after another message from the Clinic, we were up at 3am, arriving at 5.15am for a 6.30 start.

It’s certainly a different process to what I was used to in the UK, you are not assigned a room until after your surgery, I presume in case you don’t make it, and they end up cleaning the room unnecessarily!

We waited in the waiting room until called to a changing room, where I had to strip off, Marcela took my clothes, given an operating gown, and I was taken through another door onto a mobile bed, then wheeled away to the operating queue. Like in all Clinics, it was freezing, so they gave me an extra blanket.

I was then taken to the operating theatre, which although clean, was not as sterile as those in the UK.

I was transferred onto the operating table, where I received the anaesthetic in my spinal column. A team of ten entered, and I was picked up like a baby, placed in the position required, screened from the surgery site, and they got going. It was like listening to work on a construction site, as they drilled, hammered and chiselled. Eventually it was done, and I was taken to Recovery.

Slowly, I regained movement first in my toes, then, slowly throughout my body, after which I was taken up to my room No. 720, where Marcela was waiting, she has been sent there about 15 minutes earlier.

I’m no good at Selfies, I guarantee that is my thumb!

The room was more than adequate, there was obviously my bed, a large sofa for Marcela, and with the sleeping bag we had taken, she said it was fine

There was also an ensuite bathroom, and a flat screen TV, fortunately we had our smart phones, as someone had swiped the TV remote!

The food was great for hospital food, we weren’t sure that food would be provided, so Marcela had nipped out and bought some, but even though they insist on a Carer or Family member with every patient 24/7, they don’t even give the Carer a cup of tea, so we shared what we had, and it was fine, each patient was given three courses at each meal, so there was plenty to go around.

By late afternoon, my smile had disappeared, along with most of the drugs in my body, the operated leg, I couldn’t move, and the pain level was climbing rapidly, so they started plying me with intravenous pain killers.

I dont think either of us got much sleep that night, early the next day the Surgeon arrived, she said she had viewed the X-rays taken when I was in recovery, and she was happy with the result, the Physio would be by later to give me the exercises, then I would receive my discharge papers, and prescription for Meds.

As promised the Physio arrived, by which time I had had a shower and dressed, ready for the Ambulance.

After which, I was discharged, when the Ambulance arrived, I was loaded up, they waited for Marcela to get the car from the car park, then I had the most horrendous journey home, honestly I would have been better in the car! I was thrown all over the place, which increased the pain in my hip, and I felt more than a little nauseas.

Back home, we got organised, or rather, I did as I was told, and Marcela gave the orders, with the assistance of her Mother.

I say that in the nicest way, because I know I couldn’t manage without her, I have just made sure, I have done more than the quota of exercises, and keep getting up to walk around. Marcela has been an absolute Angel.

Now it’s a case of just keep repeating the exercise regime, until I see the Surgeon again on February 4th. The only deviation, is that we have decided not to use the provided Physiotherapy provided by the Health Provider, I have not had good experiences with them in the past, I am going to pay one of the Clinic Physios for private treatment, some at the house, others by video calls.

Unless something extraordinary happens, I won’t post now until I’ve seen the Surgeon, as there should be nothing to write about!

My time has come!

From a go slow to full steam ahead! Last Tuesday I had a phone call asking me to attend the Clinic in Medellin to see the Anaesthetist on Thursday, regarding my forthcoming Hip replacement, nice man, and he proved we are all human, as he misread one of the blood results and thought I had a serious problem, thank goodness Marcela was with me, admittedly the copy of my results was not the best, and he didn’t see the fullstop between the result, so instead of seeing 2.3456 he saw 23456, scary for a moment, then we all had a laugh.

He OK’d me for surgery, and said it would be before the end of the month, having seen some of the others waiting for a consultation, I wasn’t in the least bit concerned about my weight!

The following morning, we were just about to leave the house, when I had a call from the Clinic, to say my surgery was being entered in the list, and it was agreed I will have it on January 24th, I have to be at the Clinic by 7am, the surgery will be between 9 and 9.30am, it will be done will a Local anaesthetic, so if they are shorthanded, I will be able to help out!… joking aside, I am not sure how I feel about that, however a former Colleague of mine, says she had that procedure and it was fine.

Now it’s rushing about, getting the last bits and pieces, and trying to organise everything, before I am totally incapacitated, for a few weeks at least.

Saturday, we are going to fetch Marcela’s Mum, who is going to help her for the first two weeks, if nothing else, to control the dogs!

The idea was that Marcela would spend the night of the surgery at her Mum’s house, or in a city centre Hotel, but that has been hit on the head, as the Clinic state, that my ‘Companion’ has to stay with me 24/7. We don’t know, but think she will probably only have a chair in the room, I suggested she could sneak into the bed at night time, we could see how incapacitated I am!! In Colombia, Nurses just deal with medical matters, they are not there to pandser to the Patients, that is the job of the family.

I have also, given in for a bit of peace, the Surgeon suggested that it would be better if I returned home in a private Ambulance, something not covered by my Health Cover, and because we are not just down the road, it isn’t cheap, but Marcela was getting really stressed at my refusal to consider it, she has already done so much, and has more on her plate than me being awkward, so an Ambulance it is!

I think that just about brings me up to date, please bear with me, if there is more than a week until my next update, it will all depend on how the surgery goes.

Oh Dear!

I am beginning to wish this year were over! Hardly encouraging, when it has only just begun.

I received my blood results ahead of time, and they were not good, my platelets were well below the standard and my monocytes well above, which although I always said it would not worry me…did! My father died from Leukemia, and this was how it started, I managed to get an emergency appointment with my family Doctor, on the 4th, my Birthday, he told me not to worry, as the result could well either be a blip, or an outright error, but he did concede that as they stood, the results could put a stop to surgery, he then gave me an order for more blood tests, and those I had last Friday.

As stated it was my Birthday during the week, 64, something I rather not be reminded of, but they don’t go away! Marcela took me out for lunch, and it was lovely.

Unfortunately until today, the weather hasn’t been brilliant, but that has had it’s bonus’ because I have been able to get some work done, a couple of hours each morning, much to the disgust of Marcela, who thinks I am taking unnecessary risks, working up a ladder. However as our neighbours had decided to massacre our flower hedge, by cutting it back to the fence, and in so doing cutting some of the main stems, I decided I might as well lower the whole growth, and make maintenance easier.
This is a photo of thier handiwork

So I have brought the height down from above the razor wire

Original height

I can now easily reach the top of the hedge / flowering plants, to keep them in check

it also surprisingly lets more light in onto the patio. My neighbour the other side of the one causing the damage, was also raising his concerns over my antics this morning, but as I said to him, this work wont do itself, and I am doing it a little at a time, which is frustrating, but at least it’s getting done.

This morning I also got my blood results from the latest tests, and they are all fine, so it looks as if our Doc was right, that is something less to worry about.

Happy 2022

Well, it hasn’t been the sunniest of Christmas’s in terms of Health or climate, the country as a whole has been struck down with flu, mainly due to the change in climate, as Summer creeps in late.

Our family was no exception, Marcela thinks my Brother-in-law brought it here, he then left on 27th, to work this week, (returning today) after which the whole family was struck down, I didn’t see the Sister-in-law for two days, she used it as an excuse to stay in bed and watch TV. I had a light dose of the flu, having had my flu jab, I think I escaped the worst.

On the 28th, I received a text from the Surgical Clinic, telling me to go and get my blood checks done, we thought this strange, as I still hadn’t had authorisation for the procedure, but just to be safe we went down and retrieved the order, however they refused to give me an appointment, as I don’t have a date for surgery, on our return home Marclea rang the Surgical Clinic and explained, it appears the process has been authorised, but no one bothered to tell me, Marcela was told to ring our Clinic and tell them the blood tests are required now, which she did, and I had my tests yesterday, the results will be available to download on Tuesday.

We had a suspicion the procedure had been given the go ahead, because when I went for my High Blood Pressure check-up earlier this month, the Doc’s opening gambit was, “I see you are having the hip surgery!” Nothing surprises me any more, SURA may be the most highly thought of Health Provider in Colombia, but not all their sub-contractors are on the same level, before moving here we were with IPS Confama, they were brilliant, I couldn’t fault them, now we are with IPS Prosalco, who leave a lot to be desired. SURA suggested we change to Comfama in Rionegro, but that is 30 – 40 minutes away depending on traffic, our current clinic is 15 minutes away, we’ll see how it goes.

Now we are trying to get everything organised, on the presumption that the surgery will either be late January or February, we are not in panic mode yet, but not far off. I have most of the accessories needed for post operative care, the few things I still need, I can buy this week.

That said, now it’s time to prepare for New Year, I rather think that we will be saying it a bit early, and turning in, as no one is back to 100% yet! So here’s wishing you a Peaceful and Happy New Year, may 2022 be better than the last for everyone.

Happy Christmas

Disappointingly, we still haven’t had authorisation for my hip surgery from SURA, my Health are Provider, but we wait in hope.

Marcela with much perseverance, has organised a Company who will come and look at the Solar system, and see what can be done, they will contact us on January 10th… So we will see what happens.

In the mean time, despite all the trials and tribulations across the world, I wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas.

Preparing for the Unknown

Yet again things are moving at a pace. Last week, I went to see the Pain Specialist, sadly it appears that she is moving on, and I will have to start again with someone different. She didn’t tell us herself, although she dropped hints, we were told by her Secretary after the appointment. However, she believed that my hip operation is a foregone conclusion, and then issued an application for me to have another nerve block injection in my right knee, she told me to visit her on my way back from the appointment with the Hip Replacement Clinic two days later, and she would apply for a nerve block in my hip, to tide me over until the surgery. Surprisingly, I received the authorisation for the nerve block, the following day.

Two days later, I went for my appointment at Clinica El Rosario in Medellin, to be told that I would be having the hip replacement surgery, hopefully by the end of February at the latest, subject to Authorisation by SURA, my Health Care Provider. I filled in all the surgery forms, and they will be held ready, to avoid any holdups. That was great news, although it does mean that reality has set in. I certainly have no regrets at going for the prosthetic hip, it’s the only way I am going to be able to have a near normal life, there will always be limitations, but I can live with that. The Surgeon, said not to have the nerve block in the hip, as there had to be three months between the injection and surgery, she hopes to have it done by then, the injection would mean delaying the process.

On the way home, we called to see the Pain Specialist, she was in surgery, so Marcela spoke to her on the phone, informed her that the Specialist said not to have the hip nerve block, which she concurred, instead giving me a prescription for stronger pain killers, and an appointement to see one of her Underlings in January, at which time he might give me the Opoids to take before and after surgery. I was also given an appointment for the knee nerve block, yesterday. Having left the Medical Center, we decided to make another call, I had bought a new set of Tyres online for our Prado, they had been sent to a Tyre Fitters in Rionegro, for free fitting, unfortunately they seemed to be on a go slow, so two and a half hours later, we left, and made quickly for home, arriving in time to give the dogs their tea.

Yesterday, I went to Rionegro for the nerve block, I was called in almost immediately, put in the Operating gown, and along with others abandoned on beds, waiting to be moved through for the procedure, it was two hours before I was moved to the forward waiting position, it was so cold, I almost felt ill, I understand why they keep the temperature low to avoid spreading bugs, but they should ensure the patients, are either not called through so early, or kept individually warm. Anyway I had my nerve block in the knee, and was kicked out, by which time it was nearly mid day, and I was starving, as I had not been allowed to eat beforehand, so we had lunch in the Clinic Canteen, the food was surprisingly good, although a little more, would have been nice!

Today, it was up early again, and off for my Blood Pressure revision, fortunately everything was OK, and I had lost 2Kg, which was surprising, since I have been tottering around on the zimmer for the last three months!

Now, it’s time to get the house ready for the family coming for Christmas, today I power washed all around the outside of the house, by which time my hip was killing, so I think that was my contribution for today. Tomorrow we are up and out early again, as I have to be at Migracion Colombia for 9.15am to collect my new Cedula (National ID Card).

How anyone has time to go to work I have no idea, since retiring, I seem to have been busier than ever, a lot of that has something to do with my body deciding it’s going to fall apart!

Progress!

There seems to be positive progress on all fronts, which makes a change.

Shortly after finishing my last post, I received a phone call from the Clinic, the process for Hip Surgery, is obviously not a short one, from what was said, it appears that I passed the paper sifting stage, and I have to attend in person next week, for an interview and examination, maybe then I will have a decision, or again, maybe there may be another hurdle to cross!

It looks like we will be cancelling yet another holiday, because if accepted on the program, it states I would receive an appointment to see the anesthesiologist thirty days before surgery, and then I can’t fly for at least three months, as April 1st is our departure date, it would certainly be cutting it fine.

The more videos we watch on the subject, a number of which I am asked to watch by the Clinic, Marcela is getting cold feet, I think it has finally sunk in that just because I am only in hospital a maximum of 48hrs, doesn’t mean it isn’t major surgery, you would think it was her going under the knife.

As I said previously, Marcela has been in touch with two or three Companies to help us sort out the Solar system, and one of them is phoning on Monday, to confirm a site visit this week, apparently it isn’t a short process to legalise the installation, and I am sure it wont be cheap, but at least we will be able to sleep at night, then my Lawyer can go after Natam Energi, had the Company tried to help us out, despite making a mess of the process, I wouldn’t mind so much, but to block access to them…

This week, I have an appointment with the Pain Specialist, I am hoping she will agree for me to have another nerve block injection in my right knee, especially important if I am going to have the hip surgery, as it is at the moment, it would hinder recovery from the surgery, at least if she agrees, I can tell the Surgical Team that my knee should be sorted, and wont cause undue problems.

I grabbed the bull by the horns yesterday, and ordered a set of new tyres for the Prado, not a cheap purchase by any means, but even though all four are still legal, they are coming close to needing replacement, and those on, have been there a few years, with the worsening condition of our access road, I don’t want to be changing punctured tyres.
They should arrive at a Garage in Rionegro this week, I will then make an appointment to go and have them fitted, also wheels aligned and balanced, all paid for in advance.

Likewise Marcela, phoned the shop having my specially made lounge armchair made, apparently it is ready, but at the Upholsterers, and they are waiting for a few more items to be ready before having them shipped back to the shop, hopefully later this week, when they will deliver it.

Slowly but surely things are coming together in a positive way, we are now looking forward to the Family coming for Christmas.