Thursday, 22 July 2021

Days of Freedom

If someone came along today, asking me whether I'd like to retire right now, I would exclaim a heartfelt "YES!"

For six weeks now, I have been on an enforced break from work, and what can I say - there was not one single minute of boredom. Admittedly, for the first few days after each operation, I did not do much more than changing from the settee to my bed and back, and of course I had those early morning follow-up appointments at the clinic and at my own doctor's to get up for.

But after that, I was more or less able to do much of what I wanted, which included walks (on my own or with my sister), visiting my parents, doing my shopping, washing, cleaning and ironing, and of course welcome O.K. here at my place for weekends or travelling to his place.

Now this time of freedom is almost up, and I am scheduled to go back to work on Monday. The doctors tell me that my eyes are still adjusting for another 6-8 weeks, so it does not make sense yet to measure for new specs. But I can not really work without them, so I am having provisorial glasses made. Tomorrow or Saturday, I should be able to pick them up, which leaves me with a bit of time to practise before Monday. 

My return to work won't be full force from the start, as I will still need frequent breaks from the screen. But I can at least do something, which is fine - but, honestly, I did not really miss work. I enjoy my job and like most of my clients very much, but there has been an ongoing situation at work for some months now that has left me a little unhappy, encroaching on my main area of competence much more than it should. That, and the freedom I enjoyed over these past weeks, without one appointment or meeting after the other, has left me with a desire of working less, knowing full well that retirement is about 15 years away and pulling out early is not really an option.

Well, we'll see how things go once I am back to my regular life.

In the meantime, here is a random assortment of pictures (mostly) from those days and weeks of freedom:

Flowers my Mum and Dad had sent the day after the 2nd operation last Tuesday:

New pair of "New Balance" trainers I ordered to replace my most-worn pair for the last five years:

View of my living room on the 16th, as seen from my yellow armchair:
Sunset walk with O.K. on the fields south-west of Ludwigsburg on the 17th:
Sunday morning breakfast for O.K. and myself on the 18th:
Later the same day, another walk (which left me more exhausted than I expected, but it was only 3 days after my operation, after all):
No specs fit my eyes at the moment, and I look a bit odd and MUCH older without them; can't wait to have them back:
Another picture of me without specs - here I am 5 years old, and it would be another two years before I got my first pair:
This past Monday (19.07.), once my sister finished work, we walked to the palace grounds and had them pretty much to ourselves:

Thankfully, the kiosk was open - there is always time for a Radler! (shandy)
On Wednesday, I went to see my parents for a chat and a drink on their beautiful balcony. It was close to sunset when I left, and I took a detour home to catch some of that wonderful light:

I keep reminding myself that all of this is still possible when I am back at work - just not so much at my own pace.

Monday, 19 July 2021

The Weekend Before Last

The weekend before last (July 9 - 11) was my last weekend before the 2nd eye operation, and since the first op was almost 4 weeks ago by then, I was allowed almost everything I wanted to do (with caution).

It was a weekend with a mix of sunshine, rain and thunderstorms; as most of you know from the news, the rain and thunderstorms caused a lot of damage in many parts of Germany as well as other countries in central Europe. Thankfully, neither O.K.'s nor my area were in trouble, and I am selfishly glad that all my family and friends are safe and well. Still, I am not untouched by the dramatic events; the death toll has risen to somewhere around 120 as far as I know, and the worst affected regions will suffer from the aftermath not for days, weeks or months, but years to come.

Anyway, this post is about what the weekend was like for me - if you think that's shallow and callous, feel free to not read on.

On the Saturday, we finally went for the type of hike I enjoy so much: straight from the cottage, rucksacks packed with sandwiches and water bottles, and a total of just over 24 km, all at a leisurely pace.

Surprisingly few other people were out and about, making for a peaceful and quiet atmosphere in the woods. I loved every minute of it, especially knowing that for several weeks to come, I was not going to be able (or allowed) to do something like that.

View across Diersburg

We were headed to the wind mills you can see in the distance.

One of the two wind mills at the top of Steinfirst.

This completely harmless grass snake (Ringelnatter; natrix natrix) was fully aware of us and made haste to cross the path to safety. The snake was about as long as my arm from finger tips to elbow.

On Sunday, we decided on a walk instead of a hike, and drove the short distance to Ortenberg. You have seen the castle and surrounding vineyards a few times on my blog, but we took a slightly different circuit route from the parking lot behind the town hall, so that we came back with a view of the castle we had not yet seen.

These tiny moths were on the hydrangea near the front door of O.K.'s cottage, maybe 2 cm across. Sorry for the slightly blurry picture, but they looked as if they were made of lace.

A former vineyard left to its own devices.

A particularly picturesque part of Käfersberg, next to Ortenberg.

Ortenberg castle

After that beautiful weekend, I had all of Monday to get things ready for my next OP and the days after, and was able to go to the clinic on Tuesday morning in a rather relaxed state of mind. As you already know, all went well. I am scheduled to work again next week after SIX weeks on sick leave - it feels like I have been practising for my retirement, which is still about 15 years away!

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Almost There!

Just a very quick one this morning, as I am due to appear at the eye clinic in Stuttgart for my second operation in about an hour. It is my right eye's turn now, and I hope to be back home before lunch time, more or less like four weeks ago.

My sister will drive me there and back, and make sure I have all I need. Much of yesterday, I spent getting everything ready here, so that for the next few days I won't have to think about cleaning or shopping but can just rest and stick to my medication plan which will mean using two or three different kinds of eye drops every 1 1/2 or 2 hours. It almost feels like routine the second time around!

Hopefully, in a few days I will be able to read your blogs and comment, and write my own about the beautiful walks we've been on last weekend.

For now, I shall leave you with this view of O.K.'s village, taken during a brief walk the weekend before last. Brief because the weather was so unsettled, we didn't venture far but were ready to turn back as soon as the heavy rain clouds reached us.

Monday, 28 June 2021

Half Time

Tomorrow, Tuesday, it will be two weeks since my first operation and another two before the second one. I feel fine; sticking to my schedule of administering eye drops and NOT doing anything very strenuous has served me well.

My next appointment with my doctor is next week Tuesday. I guess she will confirm the good progress. The only problem now is that my glasses only fit the right eye, and I find it both difficult and exhausting to make sense of what my eyes see. Although it is nice to see TWO glasses of wine in front of me, or have TWO big sisters sitting at the table opposite of me, I know it is not true, and I find it rather tiring to focus on the real picture.

All this will change once I have had my second operation and, after a certain time, I can have new glasses measured and made.

Last week, my sister and I went for a meal at the farm shop / restaurant out on the fields at the edge of town. It is a popular spot and even more so now that everything was closed for so long. We were out in the open and felt quite safe. Every time someone leaves their seat (for instance to go to the toilet), they are required to wear a mask. The staff wear masks, too, and there are dispensers of hand disinfectant at the entrance and in the toilets.

We enjoyed our meal very much, but then hurried home because the sky looked rather ominous. We made it before any rain reached us, and it was a lovely evening; the first time I've been eating out in I don't know how many months!

O.K. was here for the weekend. We had not seen each other last weekend, as I was still too freshly operated to be either a good hostess or good for traveling. The weather was warm and sunny most of the time. We visited the palace grounds; the roses are so abundant that underneath the rose arches it was like a carpet of red and white petals - so beautiful!

This morning at 8:15, I had my first jab. Everything at the vaccination centre is well organised, and everyone who works there was kind and friendly. I was in and out in about half an hour altogether. Right now, about 2 hours later, I do not feel any negative side effects. While I was in the observation area for 15 minutes after the jab, I felt my arm prickle a bit, but even that has as good as disappeared. Let's hope it stays that way.

Sunset last night (Sunday).

Thursday, 24 June 2021

One Week and One Day Later

It's now a bit more than a week since my operation, and I am doing well. The first week was very hot, making a decent night's sleep impossible. Good job then that I did not have to work or go anywhere, but spent my time between the settee and my bed, largely resting, blinds drawn, plenty of water to drink and light meals to eat.

The worst of the heat broke on Sunday night, and Monday was already much more pleasant. By Tuesday, it had become almost chilly, and we've had daily showers since then - very good for the gardens and fields, and it shows.

On Wednesday morning, I checked the weather app on my phone and saw that rain was forecast from 11:00 onwards. I decided to go out right after my shower and breakfast, and left the house shortly after 9:00.

The sky was cloudy, which is good for my eyes at the moment, and few other people were out on the fields. I walked for about two hours, at a slower pace than usual; I am not yet allowed to do anything very strenuous and so that was just right for me.

My own doctor examined the operated eye on Monday morning. She is very happy with the outcome and kept saying how well the professor had done it. She said something like "He's really taken great care there", and I replied that I bloody well hoped so - it was my eye, after all! (Of course I did not say "bloody", not even the German equivalent, but we both knew what I meant and had a bit of a chuckle about it.)

Thursday today, and I plan to do a bit of cleaning. O.K. will be here for the weekend. I have seen my sister almost every day this week, and we plan to go to one of the farms here after she has finished work, where they serve food outdoors (without needing a negative test).

And guess what - I will have my first jab on Monday!!

My sister managed to get the appointments for me (follow-up is in August), and here is how it happened: After I have been trying daily for weeks to get an appointment (both on the phone and via the official website), yesterday evening my sister spotted an instagram article of our local paper, saying that the  vaccination centre (just up the road from where I live) has had an unplanned extra delivery of vaccine, and was therefore able to offer more appointments than usual. The article said one needed to be quick to grab one of those appointments, and my sister WAS quick! 

After it seemed like I was going to be the very last person in this country to be vaccined, I can't believe how fast it happened. It also ties in nicely with my time off work; if I should feel any negative side effects, I won't miss any more work because of it, and I will be fully fine again in time for my next operation.

Sometimes everything falls into place, doesn't it! Here's to big sisters :-)

Monday, 21 June 2021

A Sunday Worth Its Name

Sunday last week (the 13th of June) was a summer's day out of a picture book: Blue sky from sunrise to sunset, temperatures not too hot at about 25 C (77 F), and a slight breeze every now and then.

It was also the first time in many months that O.K. and I met with other than just our immediate families. In the village, there are three couples more or less our age who live on the same street as us, and although we lead very different lives, we get along really well and are never short of topics to talk about, and laugh.

During the past year, we have only ever bumped into them while out for walks and stopped for brief chats, never visiting each other. Now that infection numbers have gone down considerably in this country and many restrictions have been lifted, two of them have invited the whole group (eight in all) to their allotment for breakfast on Sunday morning.

With chairs and tables all out in the open, we felt fine about meeting them (no handshakes and hugs of course). Everyone brought something; in the end, there was way too much food (as is usually the case with such events), and our "breakfast" lasted until almost 4:00 in the afternoon :-)

It was a beautiful day, and the right kind of thing to take my mind off the upcoming operation for a bit. Not that I was overly worried, but I guess you know what it's like when you have something coming up and keep going on about it in your mind.

The whole week leading up to that Sunday had been good, weather-wise, and I am including a few pictures taken during the week on after-work walks.

On the fields around Ludwigsburg on Thursday, the 10th:

Sunday, the 13th, view from our friends' allotment:

The above is maybe my favourite photo of this summer so far. To me, it epitomises summer at its best.

In a bit, I will be on my way to Stuttgart to see my own eye doctor for the first time since the operation. I wonder whether she will confirm what my impression is, that the immediate result after the operation has not remained, but that the eye has gone back a few dioptres again, which is entirely normal from what the doctor at the clinic said. We shall see (literally). No matter what, it will still be tons better than what it was before the operation.