Pre-Christmas funeral and surgery

It seems like our family has a funeral or some medical crisis every year around Christmas. This year was no different.

My grandmother died on Thursday Dec 14 and her funeral was on Sunday Dec 17. Grandma died at home in Lost Nation, Iowa, of complications due to pancreatic cancer. She had declined rapidly after the cancer was diagnosed and had been visited recently by all of her children and many of her grandchildren. Most notably she got to enjoy the huge family reunion in July where about 80 of us got together to reconnect and catch up.

I flew out to Iowa on Saturday and we spent a good bit of Saturday at a visitation for Grandma and then we went back to her house to do some cleanup of the house. The state had helped out with Grandma’s bills in the last few years and in return they have a lien on her house so the house will be sold and my mom and her siblings wanted to settle the matter of distributing some of Grandma’s mementos to the grandkids while we were all there. While cleaning out the drawer that contained Grandma’s needlework I knelt down on the carpet and managed to drive a sewing needle into my knee. The needle then snapped off, leaving about an inch of the needle in my knee joint.

I went to the emergency room a couple hours later and the ER doc and an orthopedic surgeon spent a couple hours digging around inside my knee trying to get the needle out. Just for the record, I don’t advise going through that if you have a choice. Eventually, with the aid of a fluoroscope, the were able to extract the needle but they also determined that the needle had been inside the joint so they were worried about the risk of infection. Because there is little to no blood flow inside the joint just taking antibiotics wasn’t likely to be effective. So at 7 AM Sunday I went in for arthroscopic knee surgery and they ran 5 liters of antibiotic solution through my knee joint and made some minor repairs where the needle had torn things up. They kicked me loose from the hospital at noon and the funeral was at 2 so I didn’t have to miss the service.

I only had to use one crutch so managed to not make too much of a scene at Grandma’s funeral. Most of the family had not heard what had happened when I showed up walking with the crutch so we just told everyone I “banged up my knee” without giving details until later.

I flew back to the Bay Area Monday afternoon. Had some of the usual mish-mosh at the airport, such as the airline giving away my aisle seat which was a little bit of a problem because I couldn’t bend my knee to a 90 degree angle and sit in the middle. But all in all everything worked out okay and I beat the storms that shut down Denver a couple days later. Everything is more or less back to normal now except that I still can’t put any weight directly on my knee so kneeling down to wrap Christmas presents and water the tree have been a little comical to watch. I figure I’ll be able to do pony rides again in a week or so.

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