By Becky Emerson Carlberg
For Shawnee News Star Weekender
The Pottawatomie County Fair week passed in a blur.
Fewer gardening entries turned up this year, no doubt because of our funny summer, but people brought their best regardless. Scarecrows appeared. Someone was leaning on hay bales reading a book called “How to scare crows!”
I totally missed Shebang, spending two days at Norman Regional Hospital having my knees disassembled, re-engineered and reattached to some plastic and metal parts thrown in for strength.
My best memory on the set of operations was looking over a table full of hardware and metal tools thinking this must be a mad scientist’s laboratory. The robotic surgeon’s arm assistant is named Rosie. No doubt Rosie felt a kinship with all the tools.
One does not sleep the night after a complete knee replacement.
Feeling like Gulliver after being restrained by Lilliputians, the nasal cannula in my nose wrapped around both ears, the wrist became an IV gate, the oxygen monitor was tightly clamped and glued to my ring finger, I don’t need to tell you where the catheter was. The nerve block was slowly eroding, allowing me to experience the fully reconstructed knee coming back from the dead.
The schedule went as follows: from the surgery ward to the recovery to the room. 6:00 p.m. Stroll down the hall with a chair closely following behind you. 6:00-7:00 The Discovery Channel presented the Adventure of the Arctic Club by Robert Perry (my grandmother’s cousin).
8:00 pm Antibiotics.
8:40 p.m. Asab Meds.
11:00 p.m. More medicine.
1:00 a.m. Tylenol, an anti-inflammatory drug, and a Foley catheter was infused. 2:25 a.m. Examine the patient’s menu.
2:40 a.m. Foley catheter repaired. Lots of outdoor lights glow bright in the dark all over the construction site. When the massive new addition is complete, the Norman Porter Street Hospital and the old building will be moved for repurposement. Even though there are 57 channels to watch on TV, what a real wasteland.
3:00 a.m. Compression sleeves go up and down each leg. IV Monitor the buzzing and buzzing constantly. The oxygen monitor goes off when I move. Reorganized my tray area. 4:30 a.m. Antibiotics. 4:45 a.m. An ice bag leak appeared, which necessitated a change of mantle and ice bag. 5:50 a.m. Anti-inflammatory. 6:00 am The lab vampire came to draw blood samples.
6:20 a.m. The Foley catheter was removed. 7:10 a.m. food service call. What for breakfast? 7:15 am PA and doctor visits.
7:45 a.m. All tubes and wires unplugged. Breakfast here.
8:30 a.m. More cereal.
After the professional nurse helped me get dressed, it was two more sessions of physical therapy, then the long, uncomfortable trip home. I swear Shawnee was 380 miles from Norman.
Then I entered my corner of the universe. It looks like all the sunflowers growing in the Earth Box and galvanized stock tank were in flower. Happy yellow faces with dark brown centers were waving from twelve feet in height as I limped as I pushed the walker precariously toward her. Red sage blossoms glowed within the wilderness of the plant.
Goldenrods, though dry, resolutely opened their delicate yellow flowers as if to welcome me into the house. Lantana resumed blooming. Lantana (Lantana camara), native to Central and South America, took a summer vacation. The road is very dry, so my partner in crime decided to give Lantana a drink every evening.
I don’t recommend watering at that time, but we have to split times to water either in the morning or in the evening to prevent the well from drying out. New clusters of pink and yellow floral tubes add color to the pathetic east side.
Evergreen Lantanas can grow to 6 feet in height. Mine dies again each winter, but usually resurface the next spring. By the end of summer, it may reach 2 to 3 feet in height. The flowers are supposed to have a berry-fruity scent with peppery undertones, but it is their color that determines if pollinators come in. The flower changes color after pollination, usually from yellow to orange, pink, and red.
Pollinators go for gold!
Even the purple heart Wandering Jew (Tradescantia pallida) was blooming from a tall, narrow pot under the crunchy and redbud. This plant originates from the east coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
My purple heart came from the greenhouse in Seminole State where I taught botany. They and their offspring were widely distributed. Easy to grow and ready to fill in an empty area with adequate moisture and soil, the plant should be brought indoors for the winter. It will happily continue to thrive and grow as a houseplant. It appears to be great at removing VOCs from the air.
You can breathe better knowing the purple heart is close to you.
A long white Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) hovered over my head forming a path decorated with clusters of small white daisy-like flowers. The white forest snake is tough, durable and highly venomous.
Trimatol ketones, found in leaves and stems, and in smaller amounts in flowers, are effective in preventing leaf-eating animals. The chemicals build up in their bodies, damage their hearts and organs, cause muscle tremors, and often lead to death. If lactating cows or goats are chewing white snakroot, do not eat cheese or drink milk. Abraham Lincoln was 9 years old when his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln (1784-1818), died at the age of 34 of milk sickness caused by the white snake. The pioneers cleared the forests in which the snake grew along the edges. Unfamiliar with the local flora, they opened a habitat for the white snake.
Cows graze on grasses and wildflowers, including white snookerets.
Toxic toxins were passed through their milk. Milk thistle was more common, especially in the dry years.
Improved farming techniques have reduced the toxic threat.
Small insects are not bothered by powerful plants. Some midges and leaf miners live inside leaf tissues and even flower buds.
Native American tribes used white snake root in compresses to treat snakebites.
It’s good to be at home!