Merry Christmas from the Larsons
“Usually our Christmas letter contains brief recaps of our travels during the year and other significant events in our lives. This year’s letter will not contain nearly as much information because, as we all know, 2020 was a year unlike any other for virtually everyone in the world.” Well, as I mentioned last year, 2020 was a “different” year but for us, 2021 was as well.
The year started out as normal as could be expected. Yes, we continued to use curbside pickup for our groceries (which I will do even after the pandemic since it is so convenient) and attend Zoom meetings. However, things started to go bad in February when Texas suffered a major cold snap. Many people ended up without power and/or water but we were very fortunate not to lose either. We suspected that it probably had a lot do to with the fact that our house is relatively close to a fire station, an Alzheimer’s home, a medical clinic and a couple of retirement complexes. We had expected to be caught up in the rolling blackouts (which turned out to not roll very much) but that never happened.
The cold snap also included freezing rain and 6-8” of snow – by far the most we’ve gotten since either of us have lived in Texas – as well as temps in the single digits – way too cold for unprepared Texans. The ice and snow caused some small branches to break off trees and some larger branches to sag onto our roof. Later in the spring I decided that the tree with the sagging branches had gotten just too big for our side yard and had it removed. Fortunately, once the cold ended, it really ended with temps headed up to the 60s. We had to then worry about frozen pipes thawing and causing water to end up where we didn’t want it. Fortunately as well, that didn’t happen and when all was said and done, we were none the worse for wear.
In late March, Connie’s replacement hip was bothering her more and more so she started looking into what could be causing her pain.
We couldn’t completely quell the urge to travel so we took a driving trip to Waco, TX in April for a couple of days. We saw the “Magnolia Empire” of Chip and Joanna Gaines (formerly on HGTV) and ate at their restaurant which was very good.
Later in April Connie had an aspiration of her hip that revealed a low-level infection. This led to the decision to go ahead and have her artificial hip removed and replaced with an antibiotic-infused temporary hip replacement (“spacer”) to be followed by a second surgery a couple of months later to put in a permanent hip replacement. The first surgery was scheduled for late June.
Before Connie underwent the first surgery we got in some more traveling. We visited Connie’s family in Kentucky in early May and made a trip to Nebraska over Memorial Day weekend. We spent considerable time with my uncle Ken and two of my cousins, Kathy and Karen, while we were there. They had driven from Des Moines, IA.
Between those trips, I made a quick weekend trip to the Tampa, FL area. The Toronto Blue Jays opened their season with some games at their spring training site in Dunedin, FL. I figured that would give me the opportunity to see some baseball and add another stadium to my list. I only had one day open so I spent that day taking a boat tour from Clearwater beach before going to the game that night. The Philadelphia Phillies and the Blue Jays split the two games that I saw.
Later in June and before Connie’s surgery, the Blue Jays had shifted operations to Buffalo, NY which is where their AAA minor league club plays. Not to pass up an opportunity to add another stadium, I flew to Buffalo and took in three games between the Jays and the New York Yankees. Despite the proximity to Toronto and with Buffalo being the home of the Jays’ minor league team, the crowds were probably 90% Yankee fans for all three games. I took a boat tour, visited a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house (Martin House) and had lunch one day at the original Anchor Bar – the place where Buffalo wings were invented. Of course I had the Buffalo wings. I had a very nice time in Buffalo – the weather was beautiful - and would love to go back someday.
In late June, Connie had her first surgery. She spent a few days in the hospital and then was transferred to a rehab hospital that was closer to home. She spent about two weeks there and was doing well when they sent her home. Unfortunately, *something* went wrong while I was helping her either into or out of bed and she ended up in a lot of pain. We saw the surgeon the next day and after viewing some x-rays, he determined that her temporary hip had shifted by 5 mm and that she should keep all weight off of her leg until the next surgery which was about eight weeks away. So, we got a hospital bed set up in the living room and we spent the next eight weeks in a situation that neither of us envisioned or wanted including the three times per day IV antibiotics that I administered.
In early September, Connie went in for her second surgery – this one to remove the temporary hip replacement and install the permanent one. We pretty much repeated the process from the first surgery – a few days in the hospital and then two weeks in rehab before coming home. This time, Connie was making good progress until an infection was discovered in her incision. What next? Another surgery in October to clean out the incision and replace the plastic parts of her artificial hip. Then what? A few more days in the hospital, two weeks in rehab and then home – along with more IV antibiotics.
Fortunately, as of this writing, Connie is on her way to recovery but still has some progress to be made in terms of mobility. Hopefully nothing else bad happens. We’re hoping for a much better 2022. We wish you and yours a joyful holiday season.
Jan & Connie
Connie: email@example.com, 512-522-3354
Jan: firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-522-3355
The online version of this letter with hyperlinks may be found at: http://www.pieofknowledge.com/xmas/index.htm