Saturday, March 4, 2023



Hi Friends,

As most of you now know, we lost our dear Baba a few weeks ago. It was a bit of a shock to our family - I know that many of you are questioning, "How could the death of a 95-year old woman be a shock?" But Baba was doing really quite well just days before she passed. In fact, her family Doctor contacted our family when she died, saying that he really couldn't believe it. He had just seen her, and overall, she was doing quite well. Her Doctor explained that they had a conversation about death and Baba told him, "Mike (my Gido) is pulling me up, but my family is pulling me down." He told us that he'd rarely worked with someone of that age who had the ability to so eloquently communicate her thoughts and feelings. Baba had just turned 95 and my hope is that she could still smell the beautiful birthday bouquets in her room when she was reunited with my Gido. I will miss my Baba very much. I always felt like we had a special relationship - although perhaps everyone felt like they had a special relationship with Baba? I loved her candid, humorous advice. She was direct, but always kind. There have been many instances in which I say something short and blunt, and Evan replies, "Ok, Baba." I laugh, but I feel proud because I should be so lucky to be likened to such an incredible woman. Over the past 10 years I've felt like giving up...well more than a few times. Sometimes the pain or the obstacles just seem to be too much - but I always remember that I possess Baba's DNA. It's the good stuff! That DNA is packed full of resilience, commitment, and strength. And so I keep going. Baba will always be a part of who I am. 

My family asked me to write the obituary, which I really enjoyed doing. Part of the process is collecting memories and stories from aunts, uncles, and cousins. Although I didn't make the trip home for the funeral, I felt like I was able to reminisce with family as I put our memories into words. Writing has always been cathartic for me, and it made me feel closer to Baba - my way of saying goodbye. The day after I completed the obituary, I had a very vivid dream. Baba walked past me nonchalantly. She was wearing an outfit that was familiar to me - it seemed very real. She shuffled by with her walker, then suddenly tossed her walker to the side, gave me a little smile, and carried on. I choose to believe that she paid me a visit that night. I woke up feeling so happy! It felt like a proper goodbye. 

During my break, I tagged along with Evan on a business trip to California. Cayman Airways is now offering a direct flight from Cayman to LA, which is super convenient. In 5.5 hours and 2 complementary rum punches later, you arrive at LAX, where us islanders are immediately overstimulated by traffic, people, and noise! We quickly exited LA, I removed my N95 (I'm very paranoid at the moment),  and we settled in a small community called Oceanside, about halfway between LA and San Diego. As Ev ran an event for his west coast gyms, I rented a bike and cruised the beach, watching surfers do their thing. I indulged in a spa day and took myself for oceanfront lunch. It was nice! We had a beautiful spot on the beach, where I would join Ev's crew by the fire every evening for a cocktail. Once Ev's event was over, we took a quick trip to the Temecula wine valley, where we participated in a wine tour. We visited 4 wineries, where each provided about 5 tastings. You do the math! By the end, I had no idea what I was even drinking anymore, but we had a great time and my body was feeling very warm and fuzzy...which was vital, given the fact that it was snowing in southern California. Yes...snowing. Now you may recall that Ev and I had the great fortune of experiencing the coldest Christmas in Florida in 15 years, just a mere few months ago. Obviously we promote unprecedented weather. So...let us know - is your area expecting record lows? We'll do our best to hop and flight and experience that with you! haha. By the end of the trip I was desperately layering each and every piece of clothing in my suitcase over my hypothermic body. Although I enjoyed a change of scenery, I was pretty pumped to step out of the plane and immediately be hit with that humid Caribbean air. 

It looks like my 3-month Covid sentence is almost up! As you may recall, my Nov 29 surgery was cancelled suddenly when my pre-op Covid PCR came back positive. As long as I'm Covid negative on Monday (please please please please), I should be receiving my new right knee on Tuesday! And let me tell you, I am so ready.

Courtknee turned a corner at the 4-month mark. She is strong, stable, and mostly pain-free. I've never experienced this with my knees over the past 12 years. Physiotherapy is no longer this tortuous event that causes me to swear profusely. I am so proud of the progress that I've made! When I go to the gym I feel like a regular person again.  I lift weights, I squat, I stair climb - I feel strong. In addition, the activities I was told would be painful like kneeling and some yoga poses aren't painful at all. Courtknee has been willing to try new things, and doesn't seem to be limited by the hardware. This is awesome! The right knee, on the other hand,  is seriously cramping my style, locking up regularly and causing embarrassing falls. The falls have resulted in a  smashed cell phone screen and a cracked Fitbit! It's starting to get expensive. I'm over it. I can't wait to replace it with metal and move on. 

Mom is scheduled to arrive Sunday - although this massive Toronto snowstorm is keeping us on our toes (please don't cancel the flight, please don't cancel the flight). I'm totally ready to move through the post-op shitty- ness as quickly and as gracefully as possible (please don't pee the bed, please don't pee the bed), and begin introducing this knee to my body. I feel so hopeful. I haven't felt hope in a very long time. I am still nervous that something will derail this surgery on Tuesday (please don't test positive, please don't test positive),  so I don't think that I will take a breath until I've been awakened from my anesthetic and see the Frankenstein scar on the my right knee. Aside: Do I gently ask the surgeon to try a little harder to make a straighter cut...or will this seriously piss him off? (please don't screw up my surgery, please don't screw up my surgery). Haha!

Thanks for the all the messages of support. I really appreciate them!

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Our Florida/Georgia RV Adventure!


Hey Friends!

How's '23 treating you so far?

Last we chatted, my second knee replacement had been postponed due to a late Covid flex 3 weeks post illness, I wallowed in the depths of despair for a bit, and mom and I enjoyed some Xmas-y island activities before she left to spend her winter in California. 

Ev and I flew out Christmas day for our RV Southeast coast adventure. We managed to experience Florida's "coldest Christmas in 15 years!" Lucky us! I know my fellow Canadians would look at the temps and think, "+6 is like a beautiful spring day here. What could they possibly be complaining about?" I was not prepared for was the lack of heating inside Florida businesses. The airport was freezing. The train was freezing. The restaurants were freezing. People in Florida don't use heaters on a regular basis, so when faced with suddenly switching from air conditioning to heat, many homes and businesses had huge issues. Luckily our sweet little RV had a kickin' furnace, which ran full blast the first 4 days of our vacation!

We picked up our RV rental in Jupiter, Florida. It's a beautiful little town in Palm Beach County (North of Ft. Lauderdale). Ev's newly acquired gym, MADabolic Jupiter, is located here and we were able to stop by and meet up with his partner, Zac, and his wife, Bonnie, and daughter, Mackenzie. It was great to finally meet up after hearing so much about them. We ate brunch, donning toques, mittens, and scarves! haha. Poor Mackenzie, aged 3, had never been so cold before!

We jumped in our 30 ft "tenement on wheels" and began our drive up the east coast of Florida. 

Here's the thing. I was not feeling well. I sustained a hamstring injury doing my second 20 lb hamstring curl at the gym - yes, for real. That's how 43 year old knee replacement recipients injure themselves these days (at least I wasn't tying my shoe!).  Although my physio assured me that my prosthesis was fine, Courtknee, who is obviously a team player, felt such terrible sympathy pain for my hamstring that she freaked out. To say that she put on some Christmas weight is an understatement! She was so hot, swollen, and painful that I was just kinda...bitchy. So you know, I wasn't at my best. The first thing I noticed about our new abode was that the bathroom was TIGHT - like the door wouldn't quite close unless my knee was bent at a solid 90 degrees whilst sitting on the toilet. This was upsetting, as Courtknee was not into all. So, whatever, we had an open-door bathroom policy for a few days. It was fine. Everything is FINE. 

Side note: Courtknee sets off the airport metal detectors! When I explained to security that I had knee replacement, he looked at me in disbelief and patted me down like I was packing heat.

We drove north to St. Augustine, a historical city on the northeast Florida coast, claiming to be the oldest city in the United States! Who knew? We did a modified tour of the downtown area - which was really cute cobblestone streets and quaint little shops. We then drove north to Georgia and spent two days in Savannah. I've been to Savannah before, and always thought that it was a cool place. In Savannah, we found a beautiful state park campground filled with massive oak trees donning the ghostly gray hanging Spanish moss. Although it was freezing (literally, it was below zero), we enjoyed a campfire outside in our layers of clothing and Courtknee remained as hot as an iron, keeping me warm and toasty. Thank God for Courtknee (dripping with sarcasm). 

Although our RV had 2 large slide out smart TV's, we were either without wifi or did not have a strong enough connection to stream shows. But...get this - we had a DVD player. Remember those? Magically, Redbox DVD rentals STILL EXIST. For real. So, we pretended it was 2001 and rented DVD's on a regular (begging them not to skip). Very nostalgic. 

We caught the hop-on, hop-off tour in Savannah. If you ever visit, I highly recommend the tour, as the city is very spread out. Our guide was really interesting, and you can sip a little wobbly pop whilst enjoying the history of Savannah. Ev and I eventually found a section of hotels on the river that had roof-top bars and created our own rooftop bar hopping event. Thankfully, all of the rooftops had heaters and it was great location to check out Savannah views. I LOVE a good cocktail on a rooftop bar!

Our plan was to continue north to Charleston, North Carolina, but I looked at the forecast and could see that it was warming up in Florida. We forego the Charleston adventure and decided to head back towards warmer weather. 

I really enjoyed driving along the A1A ("BEACHFRONT AVENUE"🎵). We meandered through coastal towns, hugging the Atlantic Ocean the entire way. We stopped when we wanted to stop. We didn't have to use public washrooms, and I may have snuck some wine in my travel Yeti while enjoying the view. It was a good solution, given that I wasn't very mobile. 

There were a few hiccups along the way. Our slide-outs (you push a button and the RV expands), stopped working and Ev had to manually push our RV back together. I pushed the button while Ev alternated between leg pressing the wall and yelling "Stop! Go! Stop!" That was fun. Also, the one day Ev left me alone to work at his gym, I locked myself out and had to climb through a window, while the seniors at the RV park speculated that I was a hoodlum. Other than those incidences (which are funny now), it was a great little trip. 

My favorite part of the trip, however, was the hockey game. Can you believe it?

I've watched my fair share of hockey games over the years. I remember thinking, "When Ev retires, I will NEVER go to another hockey game ever again."

So, you know, I took like 20 years off, and now I'm ready to throw myself back in the game. Cue the Kirstie comeback tour!

We saw the Panthers play the Rangers in Sunrise, Florida (near Ft. Lauderdale). We attended with Zac, Bonnie, and their friends. It was so much fun!

To be fair, I spent most of Evan's games locked in the bathroom, as I couldn't bear to watch Ev get scored on. It was a huge problem. Although awesome, Ev often did get scored on at least once in a game. Those were very stressful days, as losing a game could mean a trade, a loss of a job, or a loss of a contract. Games were not "fun," my friends. This time, however, with nothing on the line, I stayed in my seat the entire time and thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment! Cheer dancers! Live interviews! Incredible 90's jock jams! Strobe lights! This place was lit! 

I immediately recognized the name of the Rangers goalie - Halak. Ev reminded me that Jaroslav Halak attended training camp with him back in the day. "Wait a minute? This guy is still playing? He's pretty old to be butterflying about with 37-year old hips!" 

And then it happened. My irrational hatred of the opposing goaltender reared its ugly head. 

You see, when Ev played, I HATED every single opposing goaltender. In my mind, regardless of who he was, I envisioned him as a puppy-kicking, wife-slapping, tax-evading jerk. When the opposing goaltender so much as touched the puck, my internal filter failed miserably and I vomited horrible things out of my mouth. 

"Garand - You're full of holes you f#$king sieve!"

"You're a F#$ing loser, Murphy!"

"You are a piece of S#$T on the bottom of my shoe, Bronsard!"

I know, I know. Embarrassing. I couldn't help myself. I don't consider myself an angry person, but those goaltenders made me see red. Watching another goaltender make a save caused a volcano of emotions to erupt in the form of horrible insults (In retrospect, I probably need therapy for this). 

So, you know, I did what I do, and I began sputtering insults at Halak. 

"Shoot low! He's too old to go down!"

"Don't hurt yourself, Halak!"

Evan looked over at me in shock.

"Kirstie. What are you doing?"

"I don't know. I can't help it!" I replied, covering my hand over my mouth while realizing that I might be embarrassing myself in front of my new friends. 

I managed to tone it down a bit and, despite the Panthers loss (Old man Halak is still pretty good!), I really enjoyed myself! I will definitely be attending more hockey games in the future (Ev may not agree?) Haha. 

So, overall, it was a nice little trip. I needed a change of scenery, and I got that daily on my vacation by simply looking out my window while Ev toured us around in the RV. 

I'm now back at work until the rescheduled knee replacement on March 7. Although my endurance is not what it used to be - it's challenging to navigate pain, decreased mobility, and a demanding cognitive load - I feel like being back at work is really good for my mental health. I forgot how fun the kiddos are. I'm enjoying being reunited with my fellow Specialists, and it's a good distraction from the knees. I'm sure you are all SOOOO sick of hearing about my knees, and trust me, I'm sick of thinking about them! 

Cheers, friends!

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Knee Purgatory


Hey friends,

Last we spoke I was on the "final countdown" to my 15th and last-ish knee surgery for ever-ish. I was dreaming about a life with two solid knees - booking an Easter vacation in Europe, looking to adopt a dog in the spring, and considering an online University course in February. For the first time in a long time, I began making plans. 

Aside: When my Grandma used to tell stories that began jubilantly, we anticipated that the story would often end in tragedy: "They were such a nice little family in a nice little house and they had just a beautiful new baby...and then Bob was suddenly run over and killed by his combine."

(Can you sense the foreshadowing?)


Things didn't quite go the way that I had hoped. AT ALL. 

Despite having Covid in early November, the Anesthesiologist cleared me for surgery a week prior, and I was healthy, and ready to go. Unfortunately my pre-op Covid PCR came back positive the day before my surgery and the new knee was canceled...about 12 hours before my surgery.

Our PCR tests on island provide us with specific numbers - cycle thresholds that indicate how much virus is actually in your system. The higher the number, the less "sick" you are. You need a number of 35 to be considered Covid-free. My number was 32.5. I was not contagious; however, the virus was still detectable in my body - nearly 3 weeks after I had been sick. 

I pleaded with the Unit Clerk over the phone, "Please! I'm not even contagious. My mom flew in from Canada to look after me, I have no symptoms and anesthesiology cleared me! I just really Kneed this knee!"

No dice. 

Oh my God, to say I was disappointed is an understatement. 

I can't express just how upsetting it is to be completely and totally mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared for something only for it to dissipate with 2.5 Fu#$ing Covid threshold units. I had been "training" for this surgery for months. I was so ready to move on. I was so excited to start my new life. 

There were tears - the kind of tears that make you choke because you can't really inhale anymore without sucking up your snot. You know those ones? Ugh. It was ugly.

Thank God my mom was here. She just held me while I cried and poor Ev looked on in disbelief (trying to figure out how to "fix" the problem, I'm sure). 

Two days later I camped myself outside of my surgeon's office and waited patiently to plead my case. 

My Ortho was also disappointed that my surgery was canceled, and explained that it was simply a checkbox item - I had failed to meet the pre-op requirements. No exceptions made. He offered to place me on cancelation list for a week,  but warned that the OR schedule was very busy, and that after a week he was heading on holidays over the Christmas break. 

I held out a tiny bit of hope that perhaps I could still get in for surgery prior to Christmas, which would only delay all my hopes and dreams by a week. 

Like 16 year old Kirstie waiting for Jason Issel to call her back (he did.. eventually, and broke up with me), I waited on pins and needles, glued to my phone. Finally 5 days later, I received a call from a hospital number.

My hands shook with excitement as I frantically answered the phone (imagine being excited to get your knee chopped off?) 

"Hello. This is the Cayman Islands Hospital calling with a short survey about your surgery experience last week."


Like salt in my massive gaping wound. 

Spoiler alert...I did not get my Christmas miracle, I am obviously on the naughty list because Courtknee now has to wait until MARCH to get a new friend. That's THREE months away. 

UGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH. It's all just so unbelievably disappointing. 

In a fit of defiance, Courtknee blew up with this news (I had promised her a friend that she was no longer getting), and for the first time since my knee replacement, I began struggling with swelling, and stay puft marshmallow Courtknee could barely bend (she's a bit of a drama queen). 

You see it? You see it?

So I was sad, swollen, and defeated. 

My wonderful Mom let me be miserable for a few days, encouraging me to help her decorate the Christmas tree, bake some cookies, and watch Christmas movies. It was so comforting to have her here. 

Once I processed the news and "accepted" my new reality, I tried to focus on just enjoying the time with mom during a really nice time of year on island. The Christmas breeze is blowing strong, the roundabouts are all decked out in blinking lights, and tropical holiday music plays in every store. Cayman is a beautiful place during the holidays, and it was really nice experiencing this with my mom (We also snuck in a decadent night at the Kimpton). 

But...I find myself back in a place where I had hoped to never be in again. 

I will be returning to work after the holidays with one good-ish knee and one knee that randomly locks and gives out on me. I will need to begin everyday with a strategy. How do I limit my number of steps? When can I take a pain-killer to ensure that I'm alert to see my students? How will I carry all my supplies to four different schools? What will I do if my knee locks up and I am unable to unlock it? In addition, I'm navigating physiotherapy challenges as progress with Courtknee is now limited by my broken knee. The right knee was ready and poised for retirement, so it's really not fair to her either. This was not the plan, dammit!

My dreams of touring Europe at Easter are over. The dog will have to wait. I will not be well enough to take write a university final exam in March. Everything has been pushed back and placed on hold - like the last 10 years of my life. I am well aware that this is really minor compared to what so many are going through right now. I will be fine. I know this. But I'm just so tired of being resilient. I feel so tired, and I think I'm going to feel sorry for myself for just a bit longer while I sit here wallowing in knee purgatory (currently with a pulled hamstring to add insult to injury...or injury to injury or whatever). 

Mom left this week and I miss her already. She and Lenny put their plans to travel down to California on hold so that she could help with the surgery that never happened. She will do the same for me in March. She is such a good mom. I am very grateful. 

Evan has wisely decided that a change of scenery will do me good, so he's booked us a flight to Miami on the 25th. Typically I plan all of our travels, but I just didn't have it in me, so he's in charge this time. I know that we are visiting his new Florida gym, I know that there is an RV involved ( RV!), an NHL hockey game,  and a stop in Savannah (Georgia, not Cayman).  I'm not exactly sure what's happening, but I'm looking forward to getting a break from the island. I think it's really thoughtful of him to recognize that I need this right now. It's pretty great that people still love me even when I'm miserable and difficult to love these days. 

Cheers, friends. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 26, 2022

The "final" countdown...

"Where does your tongue need to be when you make your snake sound, Zachary?"

"In the front."

"That's right! And where are you blowing your air?"

"Out the middle of my mouth."

"Awesome! Let's give it a try. Smiley face. Tongue behind your teeth. Blow straight out the front!"


I cringed as Zachary's lateral lisp hijacked his perfect /s/ positioning. Just as I was about to correct it with a verbal cue, I watched in horror as a giant wad of iridescent saliva exited the sides of Zachary's mouth, soared directly towards me, and entered my open mouth.

That's right. I swallowed Zachary's lateral lisp saliva. 

Occupational hazard of the speech-language pathologist. 

The next day, I received an email from Zachary's teacher, informing me that Zachary had tested positive for Covid and would be out for the next week. 

I mentally prepared myself for the fact that I would soon contract Covid. I mean...I had swallowed saliva infected with the virus! Certainly it was inevitable. It was halfway through a very long spring term. Half of my co-workers were in covid isolation. I was exhausted. A small part of me was secretly anticipating a little time at home for a week.  However, the positive test never came. Day after day, I tested negative. I had (somehow!) outran the 'vid. 

I had to assume that I was immune?

Fast forward ahead nine months. I'm home on medical leave, rehabbing Courtknee. I rarely leave my house, except to be tortured by my physiotherapist. I say "tortured" with respect, of course. I have many physiotherapy friends, and they truly are a helping profession, but a part of me suspects they were the kids who pulled wings off of insects at recess. I digress. I wake up one morning with a sore throat, fever, and severe aches. I call to cancel my physiotherapy session and am informed by the receptionist that my physio tested positive for covid. I swab my nose and 2 bright menacing lines immediately appear on my covid test. I had caught the 'vid! And in an ironic twist of fate, it wasn't from the hundreds of infected children I had been exposed to for 2.5 years, but in fact, it was contracted from my physiotherapist, the person who makes sick people cry for a living.

Disclaimer: My physio is a good guy. He's been immensely helpful in this recovery, and I appreciate him very much, Covid and all. 

Thankfully, it was quite mild and short-lived. I spent a few days shivering/sweating in bed, lamenting about how unfair the universe was, while Evan passed me food with a stick. Miraculously, he did not catch it!

There was speculation that my upcoming surgery would be postponed, but luckily the Anesthesiologist deemed me healthy and fit for surgery - so all systems go.

My right knee will be replaced on Tuesday. I am waiting to assess her personality before I commit to a name - but I do have a long list of very creative pu-knee names, as supplied by you guys! Thank you. I'm also going to to gently request that my surgeon at least attempt to make her look a little more attractive and composed (can we try for a straighter cut?) We'll see how that goes over, as surgeons are generally very open to feedback ;) 

"Stevie," our blind foster, enjoys tripping Courtknee. We call it "agility training."

Overall, I am moderately satisfied with Courtknee at the 2-month post surgery mark. I think the 'vid might have been good for her. After lying in bed for 3 days straight, I walked to the kitchen for some water and my gait was miraculously corrected! I stopped analyzing my hip hitch and just utilized Courtknee to get from point A to point B, which is what she was technically designed to do. Perhaps I was over-thinking things? NOOOOOOT MEEEEE ;) 

I'm in the gym daily, riding the bike, ellipticalling on the elliptical (what does one "do" on an elliptical?), rowing, and am even squatting and lifting weight again. I have been eating, breathing, and sleeping physiotherapy - man, I've worked my ass off the last two months - literally. Due to weight loss and muscle wasting, my ass has been reduced to a few bony bits connected by muscle knots. Courtknee still aches, and feels quite stiff, but she is stable. I've never had a stable knee before, so this is good. At least one of us is stable. I woke up a few days after the 'vid and couldn't remember if I was 42 or 43 years old. Evan informed me that I'm 43 and I cried. know...I'm fragile.

This will be my 15th knee surgery. This will be the last knee surgery I will undergo in (hopefully) about 20 years. I will be closing a massive and challenging 10+ years chapter in my life, and starting a brand new chapter! Although it's dim, I can see a faint light at the end of this dark tunnel and am beginning to allow myself to fantasize about what lies ahead. I dream about taking a vacation where I can tour - like actually walk around a city. I dream about getting another dog and taking him for walks on the beach.  I dream about taking pilates classes, maybe swinging a golf club again,  and wakesurfing Candle in the summer. It's close. I can taste it (I didn't lose my sense of taste, thank God). 

This guy has been coming around lately - I feel like it's a good sign!

But first, I need to get through the whole chopping off of the knee bit. I'm mentally prepared for the bed pans, the puke, the tears, the broken CPM, the horrible hospital roommate, the barbaric first few physio sessions - even the blood transfusion if needed.  I can do this. Right? Yes! I CAN DO THIS.

Mom arrives on Sunday - what would I do without my mom??? I am so so so grateful for her! I'm sure she LOVES spending her time on a tropical island in the coldest, dankest, noisiest hospital on Earth. Yikes. That being said, I'm looking forward to watching Christmas movies together and maybe enjoying a modified pre-Christmas celebration together, once the dust settles after surgery. 

Cheers Friends - see you on the flip side!

Thankful for Mom 

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Out on good behavior

Warning: I've just re-read this and realized that I've inserted a few f-bombs. I think they serve a purpose in this particular post, so I'm opting to leave them. You've been warned. 

Hey friends,

Well it's been an eventful month. I had my first knee replaced a month ago. Overall, it was Ok-ish. I dunno, it was my 14th knee surgery (hopefully the last on the left knee for 20 years), and I just had to get through it. 

My last 8 surgeries have been in Philadelphia, so this was my first experience having surgery in Cayman. As expected, it wasn't quite"refined" as my Penn Med experiences. When I was told that I would remain in hospital for at least 5 days post surgery, I already began dreading the experience. No one actually wants to be in the hospital, but the thought of 5 whole days in our island hospital definitely filled me with anxiety. 

I don't remember any of my surgery. As I was being wheeled into the OR, I asked the anesthesiologist to give me Propofol (it makes you forget). 

He responded, "Now?"

"Sure, why not?" Who wants to remember any of this shit? And with one push into my IV line... poof...I was out for the count. 

My first night in hospital sucked as I was not allowed to ambulate until an x-ray had been taken. Read: bed pans! Ugh. It wasn't great. However, the pain was not nearly as bad as my cartilage transplants had been. I took 2 hits of morphine and quickly decided that I didn't need the narcotics, which was a relief. 

I woke up at 7:30am to find five men standing at my feet, staring at me expectantly.  

"Oh hey.... I wasn't expecting company!"

I took a quick inventory of my appearance. I was a mess. I sheepishly tucked my boob back into my hospital gown, hoped that they couldn't smell the pee (there was a bed pan incident), and attempted to sort myself as best as I could. 

Once I put my glasses on and focused on the entourage standing at my bed, I realized that It was the whole HSA Orthopedic team. Wow. Good morning! How can I help you gentlemen today?

"How are you feeling?" asked the surgeon who sawed off my knee, as he roughly removed the blanket, revealing a gory blood-soaked bandage.   

"A little pain," I responded, now attempting to sit up and simultaneously cover my hoo-ha which was greeting the five surgeons at the foot of my bed. 

"Yes. You will feel pain now for 3 months!" he responded cheerfully, "She's had lots of surgery. Like 10 or something," he explained to the rest of the team.

"14!" I interjected. "I've had 14 surgeries." Don't freakin' underestimate what I've been through!

After efficiently changing my dressings he stated, "Ok. You do the physio. It will hurt. You rest. You have very soft bones. We'll see you tomorrow."

Good talk. 

By the way, "soft bones" is not great news. 

I soon began the excruciating task of physiotherapy. I've never participated in physio so soon after an operation, and my God, did it hurt. I'm not going to lie, I cried. But I powered through. I did everything she told me to do, tears streaming down my face the entire time, jaw shaking as I gulped back the tears. It F#CKING hurt. It blows my mind how you just suddenly can't do simple tasks like lift your freaking leg. I tried showing the left leg how easy it was by demonstrating with the right. "Look! It's not that hard!"

It soon became apparent that I needed to get out of that hospital as quickly as possible.

I had the roommate from hell (doesn't everyone end up with the roommate from hell in hospital? Wait, was I a roommate from hell too?" Ugh).

This woman was loud. Her TV was loud. Her visitors watched Tik Toks/IG stories on the loudest volume possible. All I could hear was constant streaming of Tik Toks (from 3 different phones!) and Judge Judy shows on full blast....not to mention religious sermons at an unacceptable volume when her mother came to visit. Mom and I tried to distract ourselves, but things just got worse. A maintenance man then entered my room and began drilling holes in the wall - like with an actual drill. To top it all off my IV ended and began to beep. Despite calling the nurses multiple times, no one came to replace or turn off the beeping IV.

Finally I snapped. "Mom!!! I can't take it. Do something!!!" I was so completely overstimulated that I had resorted to placing a pillow over my head, with intent to suffocate myself. 

Please kill me now.

Poor mom. "What should I do?" she asked. 

I unhooked the IV pole from my IV site and shoved it away from the bed.

"Just put this pole outside!" I demanded.

Mom obediently pushed my beeping IV pole (past the man drilling my wall) into the hall.

A few minutes later, a nurse exclaimed, "You can't just put this here!"

Ya ya. Ok. 

Ugh. It was the most disturbing few days of my life....and not at all conducive to healing. 

I began to concoct a plan.  A prison-break of sorts. 

The next morning when my entourage of bone-splitters stood at my bedside, I was a little more prepared. My boob and hoo-ha were safely put away, my hair was brushed, and my teeth were clean. 

"When can I go home?" I implored my surgeon.

"How much are you bending the knee?" he asked.

"I'm at about 45 degrees," I responded.

"If you can get it to 90, you can leave tomorrow. But our patients typically stay 5-7 days."

Ya ya. Ok. 

When my physio arrived a few hours later, I pleaded with her to help me get to 90 degrees and break out of this place as quickly as possible. 

She had one solution. But it was risky. 

"Have you ever heard of the CPM?" she questioned.

Have I? Have I? Oh man, visions of sitting on the knee bending torture device for months after my cartilage transplant flooded back to me. Anyone remember the #neverbendingstory of 2017? I spent 6 hours a day on this machine for 3 months straight. LAWD JESUS.

"Let's do it!" This was my hail Mary.

My lovely Physio, who makes sick people cry for a living, soon wheeled in the Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) device. This thing was ancient. Like from 1984. 

"Sometimes it doesn't work. It's old," she warned.

We strapped my knee in it, turned it on and began the arduous task of bending the knee.

Mom and I soon realized the glitch of this ancient machine. Imagine trying to play Smurfs on Calecovision circa 1982. Every 10 minutes or so, the machine would stop, but only when the knee was at its most uncomfortable point at peak bend. I would scream and mom would unplug it as quickly as possible, and then re-plug it in, hoping that the knee would then begin it's journey out of the tortuous bend. Sometimes she would have to re-plug it multiple times. Good F#cking times. I sat on the CPM for about 3 hours, stopping and starting every 10-20 minutes when it glitched.  

The good 'ol CPM circa 1985

That night, I hatched my ultimate plan to spring loose. I got Mom to lay out some respectable clothing, and place my makeup and toothbrush by my side. I set my alarm for 7am and then laid in bed all night listening to my roommates TV blaring at 80 decibels. 

The next morning I carefully dressed myself (even donned a bra!), and dragged my wretched body to the chair beside my bed. I applied some lip gloss, brushed my hair and eagerly awaited my ortho entourage.

By the time the surgeons arrived, I was seated in my chair, hair neatly placed in a not-so-messy bun, eating eggs, and performing heel slides which displayed my incredible range that I had acquired on the CPM the night before. It was the performance of a lifetime. 

My surgeon took one look at me and stopped suddenly in his tracks.  I saw his eyebrows raise in surprise, and in that moment I felt completely vindicated (Side note: I am fully aware that I have created an imaginary war between me and my ortho, to which he knows nothing about). 

"Oh, you're up. Any pain?"

"I've had worse. Can I please go home?"

"Did you hit 90 degrees?"

"F#ck ya!" (Okay, I didn't say the "f" word, but you can imagine that I said "yes" with as much gusto as a patient who recently had a knee chopped off and hasn't slept for 2 days could possibly say it with).  I gritted my teeth and forced my knee to a perfect right angle, hoping that he didn't see the tear slip down my cheek. TA-DA!

"Well, Ok. I guess you can go home," he replied, "Most knee replacement patients don't go home this early. It must be because you have such a great surgeon," he continued cheekily. 

ya ya, ok, buddy. It's all you. I know this game. 

I silently high-fived myself. My plan had worked! I was soooo awesome and confidence was high. 

Just as they were discussing my discharge, the nurse entered with my latest blood work results.

"Her hemoglobin is very low. She needs a blood transfusion."


There was no way that I could fake high hemoglobin. I begged and pleaded with the hospital staff to let me go after the transfusion. They agreed.

I didn't foresee it taking 7 hours to get the transfusion. But I finally got some fresh blood. And I went home...4 days post surgery. So, you know, not that it's a competition, but it is ... and I won. 

I have never been so relieved to be back in my own house. 

It's now been a month. My life revolves around physio, naps, and visits. In an ironic twist of fate, my knee is bending beautifully but cannot fully straighten. Who saw this plot twist? I'm stuck around 3-4 degrees, and it's definitely affecting my comfort - especially with sleeping. I have various tortuous exercises that I faithfully perform multiple times a day to straighten the knee. I lay in the "torture hang" (I named it), and cry, hoping this will all pay off and I'll get closer to 0 degrees. Other than the straightening, my knee is doing well. She's walking quite nicely, and even had her first legit jump yesterday! I've named her "Courtknee," in hopes that it'll feel less like a corpse attached to my body and more like a real knee. Unfortunately, the surgeon was unable to save my patella (it was too diseased), so none of my original knee remains. This can make proprioception (knowing where my knee is in space) a little more tricky.  It feels strange. It's hard work, but it's currently my full-time job. I've had little control over this rotten disease the past 10 years, but I do have control over how hard I work to rehabilitate this new one. I have no other option. 

Nothing to see here - just a torture hang

Straightening Courtknee into submission

Recovery is lonely. I've been here so many times before. I am dedicating my entire life right now to getting Courtknee as close to normal as possible before they chop off my right knee at the end of November. It's physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. I am so thankful for visits from friends, texts, lunches, etc. Thank you friends! I was also very fortunate to have my mom here for 2 weeks post surgery as well. My mom knows exactly what I need and how to make me feel better. In addition, I've got my Ev, who knows the drill, and does his best to keep me comfy and entertained while working long days. Unfortunately Ev gets to experience the worst side of me during these times. It's not easy. I'd also like to give a special shout out to my island fam who showed up to my blood transfusion with wine in hand ("I'll take a bag of B positive, please!"). They knew that I was at the end of my rope, it was Friday, and it was happy hour. Thank you. I am a lucky girl. 

I'm also currently surrounding myself with random cats. That's right...cats. I'm desperately missing Biloxi. He was always such a comfort to me during recovery, and I find myself inadvertently looking for him multiple times a day. After my super bud, Stacey, watched me pathetically try and entice feral cats into my house, he began kindly lending cats for me to "petsit" during my recovery. Unfortunately I am fragile and vulnerable, and I keep breaking the cardinal rule of petsitting by developing deep feelings for each and every one of them. We currently have "Stevie," a sweet little blind kitty who is winning over my heart. When I lay awake from 3-5am, she nuzzles her face into mine and I profess my undying love for her in the darkness. I'm beginning to think that I may be too needy for her. Thank god I'm not single right now. I'd be a dating disaster. If a boy so much as touched my hand, I would be wedding dress shopping. Love me!!!!

This woman is soooo needy

Thanks for all of the support. I appreciate each and every message and kind word. It really helps. 

I go in for the other knee on November 29. I am currently accepting applications for knee names...Haha! I am hopeful that this will be my last knee surgery for 20 years. Can you imagine?  I can't. Man, I hope hope hope that number 15 is the last...for a very long time. 

Cheers friends!

Most crooked scar ever. Was my surgeon like, "time me!"??

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Tough Times

 Hey friends,

It's been awhile! I have a lot to share, so grab yourself a coffee, wine, whatever, and prepare to stay awhile. 

I actually composed a blog a few weeks ago, but before I had time to hit "publish," everything in our world seemed to change drastically. So, I sat on it for a while. 

The Lindsay house has had a rough month. 

We lost our best bud, the Most Interesting Cat in the World, Biloxi. 

Evan went to the States for a couple of weeks, so it was just me and Bilox. Everything was status quo, except for this strange thing Biloxi began doing when Evan left. Every evening, when I laid on the couch to watch TV, Biloxi would sit beside me, place his paw on my chest, and gaze into my eyes. This daily occurrence would last about 2-3 minutes. It was kind of unnerving, and given that I've read how animals can sense illness, naturally in typical "Kirstie fashion," I began to worry that perhaps he was trying communicate a health issue - like an irregular heart rhythm or maybe even breast cancer. It just seemed really strange that this 21-year old cat initiated a new ritual when Evan left. 

The day after Ev returned, Biloxi suddenly lost control of his back leg. We took him to the vet, who wasn't sure what was going on, but prescribed potassium for overall weakness. Less than 24-hours later, Biloxi was unable to move his hind end, it appeared as though he threw a blot clot, and we made the heartbreaking decision to euthanize him. 

The last 24-hours with Biloxi was bittersweet. Because he was unable to hold himself up, Evan and I took turns holding him in our arms. His little orange head was soaked with our tears, as we looked through photo albums and talked to him about all of our favorite memories together.

We talked about how he pooped on Evan's hand in the pet store - that's how he knew he was choosing us!

We talked about all the hockey road trips he endured. We laughed about the time that Evan and Biloxi drove all the way to Tulsa, Oklahoma (Biloxi in Evan's lap, with his paws on the steering wheel), only to turn around after the first (bad bad) hockey game and drive all the way back to Canada.

We talked about that tumultuous period in our relationship when we considered breaking up, and how Biloxi always seemed to have a way of bringing us back together.

We talked about the day Evan proposed - how Biloxi jumped on his lap mid-proposal, desperately wanting to be a part of the action.

We talked about our wedding day. Biloxi greeted us at the door and rubbed his face on my veil.

We talked about all the moves, flights, trains, pet passports and journeys that Biloxi endured like a trooper. 

We talked about the time Biloxi chased a fox out of our yard - he was fearless. 

We talked about all the surgeries that Biloxi nursed me through, licking the tears off my face, and placing his paw on my arm for comfort. I've always felt like Biloxi is my Guardian Angel. I still do. 

We talked about all the successes and losses that Biloxi had experienced with us through 21 years of our lives. 

We talked about how Biloxi reacted when Dundee died - he seemed to be relieved to be the only animal in our house again. His last 2 years were probably his happiest. 

Biloxi really was an important part of our family, and as we held him in our arms and watched him drift peacefully to sleep for the last time, we both felt absolutely devastated.

Maybe that sounds dramatic to you - I can't think of any other word to describe how I felt. 

Evan, Biloxi, Dundee, and I were a family. When we lost Dundee, our family felt fractured. When we lost Biloxi, our family felt decimated.'s a huge loss for us. We are so so saddened to have lost such an important part of our lives. 

In retrospect, I think that Biloxi knew. I think that he was preparing me for this, perhaps placing his paw on my chest to comfort me - to communicate that he'll always be in my heart. I'd like to think this is why. 

We didn't have much time to grieve, as we were suddenly faced with Hurricane Ian. 

Let me tell you, waiting for a hurricane is one of the most confusing and stressful experiences that I have endured. You have days to prepare; however, the spaghetti models, indicating the path of the storm, changes every 2-3 hours. One hour, you're preparing for a direct hit from category 2 hurricane, and the next you're celebrating a near miss. It's just so difficult to prepare for something that changes so quickly. The vibe on the island is pure chaos. Everyone loses their damn minds, running into each other in parking lots and hoarding batteries and toilet paper. Just the atmosphere of pure mayhem is enough to give you a heart attack. 

We shuttered up our windows, and awaited the storm. In the end, it wasn't too bad on our end of the island. Although places in the south experienced flooding due to storm surge, our little island lucked out as Hurricane Ian side-swept us, cruising 60 miles west of Grand.  Florida, on the other hand, took a vicious beating. It really hurts my heart to see my island bestie's hometown, Sanibel, completely destroyed. Those poor people have lost everything!

And, finally...

My last piece of news is that I'm getting both of my knees replaced. 

I will have my left knee replaced on Tuesday, and my right knee 8 weeks later. The surgeries will be taking place in Cayman. 

When I met with the Orthopedic surgeon, he initially attempted to dissuade me from total knee replacements, citing I was too young, I wouldn't be happy with them, and that there were too many risk factors. I agreed but then implored, "What am I supposed to do?" 

I explained that I have had 13 knee surgeries in 10 years - due to the progression of this disease, no doctor will touch me anymore. I explained that I'm reliant on Opioids for pain relief. I explained that I can't even work a full day anymore. I explained that I just want to walk on the beach again. I explained that I am in constant pain. 

He listened, nodded, and asked, "Do you want them both done at once or one at a time?

Whoa, buddy, slow down here!

So I've decided to do the worst knee first, and the right knee 8 weeks later. 

To be 100% honest, I don't feel great about this. 

I've spent the last 3 weeks trying to change my mindset, listing the positives, attempting to shift my mood and build enthusiasm. But I just feel kinda sad, scared, and disappointed. I feel like I've failed. This has always been the end of the road, and I've hit it. I'm typically pretty confident going into surgery, and I've been worrying that this feeling I have is a gut reaction - that perhaps I should cancel this surgery. 

I spoke to my wise bud, Colleen, an Occupational Therapist in Canada, with whom I worked at the hospital in PA. She was with me the day that I was diagnosed, and has seen me struggle for 10 years. She always provides sound, rational advice. 

She said, "It's totally natural that you feel this way. You've spent the last 10 years of your life fighting to avoid this surgery. And now it's here. You don't have to go into surgery like a rockstar, confident and energized - it's okay to just feel how you feel." 

Thank you, Colleen. You put words to my feelings.

I also enlisted the expertise of my good bud, Lisa, a Physiotherapist, who also worked with me in PA. Lisa was one of my biggest supporters when I was diagnosed and struggling 10 years ago. She got me through many difficult work days. She works with total knee replacements on a daily. She reiterated that this isn't a failure. Because I worked so hard, I was able to give my knees an extra 10 years. Lisa explained that I've done all that I could and it's time. In fact, she encouraged me to channel Lizzo  - "It's about damn time."

Both friends painted a picture of pain-free days and mobility - walks on the beach, trips and tours - I can't even imagine being able to move freely without pain. It all sounds pretty good.'s time. I will be saying bon voyage to the first knee on Tuesday. It tried. It really did. But it's tired. 

I am so thankful for everyone who is supporting us right now. Although my heart has felt so empty with the loss of Biloxi, it's filling fast with cards, messages, plants, flowers, treats, "friend"cations, and words of encouragement from people who love and care about us. I don't have the energy right now to do these surgeries alone, but it's been apparent to me in the last week that I won't be alone. I'm going to lean into the help. I'm going to just feel how I feel and be okay with it. 

Mom comes tomorrow for back-up...or maybe "front-up"  - I hope she realizes we're not staycationing at a 4-star resort this time! 😑 ha!

Thanks to everyone who has reached out. When I'm feeling sad/scared/upset, I often re-read messages of support. It helps. It really helps. Thank you. You make me feel loved and supported. 

Take it nice and knee-sy and feel free to reach out any-knee-time (Sorry, I couldn't resist). 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

The tragic tale of the Hollywood Ribs

 "They" say that when a man enters his 40's, he will develop a keen interest in one of three things: world history, younger women, or smoked meats. Luckily for me, Ev has gone with the latter. 

As creatures of routine, every weekend, Ev purchases a plethora of random meats, seasons and marinates them, we head to the beach, and Ev cooks all the food for the week on his little charcoal grill.  I one hundred percent support this hobby, and happily drink wine and encourage the meat grilling while enjoying an island sunset. We usually sample a bit of everything from our beach chair and then pack up the rest of the meat, which typically feeds us until Wednesday. It's our weekend tradition and makes us pretty happy...and it's not lost on me that this statement supports the fact that we are getting oooooold.

On our last weekend on island before our trip back, Ev returned from the grocery story excited about his latest find. "Look! the Hollywood ribs are back!" he cried. Ev loves Hollywood ribs and immediately got to work marinating them in garlic, lemon, seasonings, and parmesan cheese. The smell of the marinade made my mouth water. We packed up the meats, grill, beer, and wine, and headed to the beach.

Barbequing on a charcoal grill is not for the faint of heart. A few years ago, when Ev began his charcoal adventures, he quickly learned that charcoal grilling is not as simple as just starting it up and throwing the meat on the grill. This thing takes time! After years of patience and practice, and evenings where we hungrily starved until 10pm, Ev has finally perfected the charcoal experience. 

Ev begins by surveying his space. He checks the wind direction and ensures that the grill won't be blowing smoke directly at us or at sunbathers in our vicinity. He throws his special hickory-scented charcoal on the grill, uses his fancy fire starter blocks, and adds bourbon-soaked wood chips for extra flavor. And...get this...he sets up 3 solar powered fans around the grill to ensure the most consistent burning of the coals. This is serious business, people. It's a process. It's a JOB. Ev receives a great amount of pleasure from  creating the perfect charcoal grill and frankly if I must choose between world history, younger women, and smoked meats, I will happily support this hobby. 

This particular weekend was the same as any other. Ev set up his grill, the fans, and the chairs, and began the grilling process. He cooked his famous prosciutto cheesy bites (like a grilled cheese appie), a porterhouse steak, and the grand finale -  the Hollywood ribs. By the time the ribs were fully smoked, the sun had set, the mosquitos were buzzing, and we were pretty full from consuming our meat sampler. "We should have enough food to feed us all week," he stated proudly as we packed the meat up in a giant Tupperware container. We disposed of the hot coals, gathered all our items off the beach, and headed towards the Jeep. 

Given the fact that I'm pretty useless on my crutches, Ev has to do most of the packing on his own, and as quickly as possible in order to escape the blood thirsty mosquitos. I waited patiently in the vehicle, listening to Bob Marley (Monty's CD - the ONLY music allowed in the jeep!). Ev hopped in the jeep, slapping the mozzies away, and we were off, wind blowing in our hair (well, my hair, anyway ;)

Just as our vehicle turned onto the main road, we heard a terrible noise. 

"What was that?" I said, turning around quickly in my seat. 

My heart sank as my eyes surveyed the carnage.

There, lying on the road behind us, was the giant Tupperware full of meat. Ev had forgot it on the roof of the Jeep!

I watched Ev quickly pull the vehicle over and cycle through the 5 stages of grief in about 15 seconds flat. 

Denial "That can't be our meat! I can still save it!" (he actually opened the door with intent to save).

Anger: "I can't believe I left it on the roof!"

Bargaining: "This jeep needs a roof rack. I need to get one! This shouldn't have happened. Next time we need stronger Tupperware!"

Depression: "Not the Hollywood ribs. Anything but the Hollywood ribs."

Acceptance: "I hope the chickens and stray dogs enjoy it for dinner."

It was sad. Very very sad. We sat in silence, listening to vehicle after vehicle pummel the already-destroyed Tupperware. Sprays of seasonings and lemon garlic ribs flew through the air. Not even Bob's "Every little thing's gonna be all right" could save this one. 

And just like that I got the giggles. I couldn't help myself. I just began laughing until tears were streaming down my face. This was so tragic. Yet so epic. It was TREPIC.

Ev stoically continued to drive while my body heaved with the laughter. He stopped the vehicle suddenly at Foster's grocery store. He returned a few minutes later with a tub of ice cream. Like a scorned lover, he drowned his sorrows in monster cookie ice cream. 

Once the shock wore off and the laughter tears subsided, Ev went through our Tupperware drawer and returned with an air tight container. Flinging it across the room, he cried, "See! This would have survived that crash!" (back to denial). I nodded, again, tears streaming down my face as I convulsed with giggles.  Would this ever stop?

Suddenly, Ev experienced a revelation and stopped throwing the Tupperware. 

"So...I just realized that your crutch was also on the roof of the Jeep."


Luckily I had backup crutches. You never know when you will need crutches, so multiples exist in my vehicle, closets, etc.

The crutch can be replaced. The Hollywood ribs, however, cannot. 

Luckily, Ev ordered a new charcoal grill (and very fancy fan that LIGHTS up!) for Candle Lake, so the meat-cooking can continue all summer long, no transfers required! In fact, our cabin at the lake constantly smells of hickory smoked barbeque, which brings all the 40-something men to our yard.