Farewell to the view from my Vermont office window.
Over the past 7 ½ months, my husband and I have lived in our vacation cabin in southern Vermont, while our Massachusetts home has been reassembled and renewed. Unfortunately, we weren’t on vacation, so he had to commute long distances to work, and I had to work from a pretty primitive office set up in the corner of the main room, near the wood stove. 

It’s a long story but the short version is a contractor botched a what-we-thought-was-simple upgrade. Wrong! As a result, we gained a gorgeous ceramic floor but lost all mattresses, upholstered furniture, curtains, carpeting, most linens and many clothes. Plus, we had to travel back and between the two places about a zillion times to carefully clean everything we didn’t throw out, protected from the deadly residue by masks and gloves.  

Now, more than half a year and many dollars later, we’re just about ready to move back into our place, which -- I'm happy to say  -- is a lot prettier and emptier than we left it.

Hooray for change! Hooray for new or clean stuff! Hooray for time and distance, which eases the pain that comes with disposing of all that junk we should have thrown out years ago.

In keeping with this celebration of a return to normalcy-and-then-some, I will enter a hospital tonight to prepare for the first of two total hip replacements – one tomorrow morning and the other the first week of March. I’ll do rehab and pre-op prep between the two dates with the "bone carpenter" and, by late spring, should be able to do a mean tango! Watch out DWTS!

Those of you who knew me when I walked and ran at the beach every morning would be surprised by how little I can do today. I need help getting dressed and maneuvering stairs. Some nights I dream of hikes in the woods, but then I wake up. I can no longer get in or out of a bathtub, carry groceries, bowl, dance or run.

I've been felled by inflammatory arthritis in both feet, both knees, both hips and both hands, all fingers and probably in places yet to be discovered. Over the past decade, I’ve been treated for polymyalgia rheumatica, fibromyalgia and post-viral syndrome, an auto-immune condition that mimics Lyme disease. I spent almost a year experiencing the horrors of prednisone (never again!). Bone spurs have locked up most affected joints, which immobilize me even when the deteriorated bones don't. All in all, it’s been a stiff and painful period of my life, one I hope to outgrow. 

Some days, I hurt all over; other times, pain is just background noise. When it gets bad, I walk with a cane, but most days I waddle and get by. Like migraines, flare-ups can be set off by loud noises, chaotic situations, even bright or flashing lights. I avoid stressful situations and take the easy way out of problems when possible. Swimming, singing and laughing are my saviors, low pressure systems my enemy, but hot tubs and kayaks are the closest thing to heaven I can find. If it weren't for the Y, I'd probably be totally incapacitated, but physical trainers and an insistent husband have pushed me through Nautilus machines and swimming pools, keeping my muscles as strong as possible.

Starting right now, some of that will change. With the help of a talented surgeon and very savvy physical therapists, I’m going to use today and tomorrow to replace and remodel a few body parts. This time tomorrow, my old left hip will be history, and so will some of my pain. Next week or the week after that, I’ll take my remodeled self back to my remodeled home. Can’t wait!

FYI, I won’t be posting to the blog for a few weeks, but will really enjoy reading your comments on Birds as well as whatever you post on your own blogs. I can also get email on the Blackberry that will never leave my hands except when they are in the OR. Hope to hear from you.