Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Stumbling along

I was very fortunate in my convalescence. My injury occurred on the last day of April and I was whisked from the hospital four days later. I spent the next three weeks at an exclusive and very private facility that was fully equipped for people with mobility issues.

The lovely and gracious Mrs ERJ hovered over me, peeling grapes, listened to my rambling and doing everything humanly possible to make my life easier.

Furthermore, I was very close to pain-free. Part of that may be that the surgery severed some nerves in my leg but every cloud has a silver lining.

Physical Therapy

Those halcyon days are behind me now.

In retrospect, it is amazing how much I took for granted being able to pick up 50 pounds and being able to carry it 200 feet over undulating ground.

Salt, grain bags, lawn mowers, fence posts, spools of wire.... The list is almost endless.

Tomorrow marks two weeks of P.T. and I am sore. It is a good kind of soreness but it is still soreness. The P.T. guys are still dialing in which body-parts need the most work and the effort/reps but I think they are getting close.

I am happy with the results. Ican now carry fifteen pounds 100 feet over undulating ground at about 1/3 the speed I effortlessly achieved before the accident.

I also found a way to get some push-ups into my routine. My left hand is still impaired which precludes the standard forward-leaning position but I found a quarter-wall (24" high) with a rough top surface that is hand-friendly. Since this wall is where I do my 40 minutes of walking I can squeeze out a few push-ups each time around the track.

Yeah! Another set of sore muscles...that is, another set of muscles getting stronger.

Catching up

The vehicle situation here at Hacienda ERJ is a good metaphor for how things are progressing.

I own two trucks. The full-sized truck had a dead battery from sitting too long but the S-10 was very well suited to my reduced mobility. Frankly, I love the S-10 because it has everything I need and very little of what I do not need.

Yesterday, 30 minutes before my  P.T. session, I walked out and noticed the S-10 had a flat tire. I asked the ever-gracious Mrs ERJ if she could give me a ride and she did.

Yesterday evening, I asked one of the strong young men dropping off our new furniture if he could swap out a new battery for an old one in the full-sized truck. 

"Sure, no problem Uncle Joe"

I came close to panicking when I could not find the key for the big truck. It was in the ignition but mostly pulled out. 

I now have a truck that works and I was only pulling an air-bubble for 3 hours.

Better planning

Clearly, I need to invest more in planning. It was not a big deal to forget a fencing tool and walk back to the barn when I could walk 3 miles per hour. It is a much bigger deal now.

Prior planning prevents piss-poor performance. Speed and strength were my default way of recovering from piss-poor performance. At this moment in time, I don't have a lot of ability to recover from "stupid". That means I need to be smarter.

I don't have a lot of ability, but I now have some ability...maybe 10% of what I had. That is almost enough and I am thankful for what I have.


  1. When we do fence repair work, we carry a 5 gal. bucket with the tools we think we will need. This bucket includes a 2 liter water bottle, with old sock cover that is dipped in bathtub water source when we get there. Placed in shade and wind blowing, helps to have a cool drink close by. Small baggie of fence staples (barbed wire fence on wood post), rarely needed but like you said, a pain in the butt when you need but don't have.

    Good to see your progress - hope it continues. Yes, taking for granted mobility when its all good is easy. Humbling when the situation changes.

  2. Ditto the purpose bucket idea. I occasionally do tile work. All my tile specific tools fit into one 7-gallon bucket. Makes clean up a breeze, too
    Perhaps a garden cart with tool holder might be in order? Even if you can't purchase one ready-made, a Renaissance Man of ERJs stature could surely engineer something with scrap/available parts. Heck, that may even be half the fun?

  3. After my lung issues, I ran into this same thing as well. Back and forth or up and down is a productivity killer. Little stamina if I waste my energy on moving the carcass. I have egg boxes laying all over with tool kits in them. The old ADHD rears up and if I don't get the tools back where they belong, they stay in the boxes and I get frustrated. Good luck on the tool trays and strengthening exercises...

  4. Garden cart, old Radio Flyer wagon, wheelbarrow, anything lightweight and easy to roll along to carry tools, materials etc...? I had a Chief that always used to say to me, "there's always going to be someone smarter - so you just need to work harder" But in this case, smarter is definitely going to be better than harder. Keep on healing and getting stronger!

  5. Some years back I purchased an all steel "wagon" for a relative; 24" W X 48"L, 4 mesh sides that hinge up (or down), mesh floor, D-type pull handle, steerable front wheels. Adult-work, heavy-duty version of kid's wagon, capable of carrying 1,000 lbs ("claimed" but not tested; 400+ lbs was no problem).

    4 weeks in, replaced the pneumatic tires/wheels with comparable puncture proof versions (relative had no easy means of restoring air pressure) and added a 24" X 48" slab of 3/4" plywood on top of mesh floor (small tools poked through the mesh, screws,, etc. fell through).

    Worked extremely well with light loads, performed yeomanly with much heavier ones (ex: 400+ lbs of concrete blocks). Hinged sides proved convenient for loading/unloading, plus folding one side down made plywood floor available as a convenient seat with "adjacent work space." Added small vise (4") in left rear corner of plywood floor (one bolt fixed, other wing-nutted so vise could be swiveled out of the way when mesh side hinged up) which proved to be very handy. Mesh sides provided "parking" for bungee cords, etc., also very handy.

    Relative transitioned to new, permanent address, wagon bequeathed to me, I'm enjoying it at least as much as previous owner. Very highly recommended.
    Cost then from Blue Big Box Store, fully assembled: $69.95. Cost today: $150-200. Time marches on. Still worth it in my estimation, shop wisely but choose for high quality not price.

    Suggestions: fabricate handle adapter to allow pulling wagon with riding mower: a couple appropriately-sized tailpipe clamps, 2X 5/16" thick aluminum plate, 5" stainless fire door hinge, assorted threaded fasteners, etc. allows hinging one way to use human D-handle, hinging other way for drop-in hitch pin from farm supply place to gain Mr. Deere's assistance.

    Side benefit: When granddkids visit they enjoy pulling each other around in it; remaining unsuccessful in getting grandkids to enjoy pulling other loads around in it, but still hopeful.

  6. A JDeere Gator, Kawasaki Mule, or any Quad / ATV with racks/baskets would be a game changer for you Joe. Maybe sell one of the trucks and add something like one of these:

    1. Beat me to it.

      I have a Honda TRX420 and one of the cheapo yard trailers. I can carry tools, materials and everything up to and including firewood with no problem. Best money I ever spent getting ready to get old.

  7. My dad had both knees replaced in his 60s, and his access to an ATV with racks and a large rear basket mounted toolbox was paramount in keeping up with his 7 acres and keeping him active for many years in doing so.

  8. Yep, but you are mobile, which is a blessing in itself! Keep up the PT!!!

  9. It’s somewhat reassuring to realize I’m not the only one with what others describe as nascent ADHD, and I describe as learning from (often painful) experience.

    I have set ‘tool packs’ (including all the usual, plus rare use, plus any possible associated hardware/fixing I may need) for every job (it gives me an excuse to have multiple examples of every possible tool - it’s a good excuse and I’m sticking to it – I am not a tool junky … mostly).

    I have them (mostly) set up in (having been military, nursing and contractor, all have ‘procedure kits’ as SOPs) in Dewalt tool boxes that all fit (individually or multiples) onto the wheeled chassis included. Larger items (mitre saw, etc.) fits in a wheeled tote box. I can be anywhere on the property with everything I need, with two trips (plus one for the generator) for an entire workshop if necessary. For some reason the smaller ‘fixings’ boxes get used the most (having a box with every possible option of screw/nut/bolt/washer/etc. available saves so much effort … and money in the swear jar).

    Push ups? It may sound strange, but having had multiple similar type injuries, I’ve found using a rowing machine helpful. It’s low-impact, requires ‘form’ and affects almost every muscle group (including, counter-intuitively, those involved in ‘pushing’), increasing flexibility, strength and endurance across the whole body. I added a “wrist blaster/roller” which when held out at arms length seriously strengthens shoulders and … I hardly do push-ups any more (except as a test to see if/how many I can). Just something to consider as an option (ask your physio).


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