About Gertie

Gertie Cranker is a retired association manager who for 30 years directed and ran a professional trade group located in the north central part of the US.  Her first project upon retirement was to undergo total hip replacement surgery, a necessity long overdue. ”It was those damned uneven castle steps in Ireland in ‘06″, she says of her hip pain. 

Unfortunately, patience is not one of Gertie’s virtues and during her recovery from the first surgery she managed to fall and break the bone in the same hip.  Needless to say, Gertie was discouraged and disappointed at having to begin four weeks of recovery all over again, and she vowed not to make the same mistakes the seond time (well, she impatient, but not dumb…).  This blog finds her a week after the second surgery ensconced in a nursing home not far from her own house.  She is, at 66, the ’spring chicken’ in the  current extended care society and very much a newcomer not only to her current environment and but also to being the ‘helpee’ rather than the ‘helper’ she has been for the last 30 years.

Gertie’s name, by the way, is a reference to the musical instrument she plays, the hurdy gurdy.  This instrument, probably of 11th century origin, is played by cranking a wheel which rubs against the strings, much like a bow is drawn across violin strings. Gertie has been playing this instrument for several years, as well as being an Irish whistle player in several traditional folk music groups.18th century lady playing hurdy gurdy


41 thoughts on “About Gertie

  1. Thanks for sending me your blog site. I’ve enjoyed reading your entries and you’re now one of my “bookmarks.” Keep up the PT–your daily challenge (among others).

  2. My days not start with the reading of the latest news from Gertie via her blog! What a wonderful treat it is to start one’s day knowing Gertie is well on her way to a full recovery, again…

    Thank you Gertie, and get out of there soon. You are bringing the average down to an unacceptable level at the nursing home!

  3. Hey Judy/Judith/J/Gertie…

    My mom sent me the link to your blog. You’re a very entertaining writer (English major? Awesome!) and I really like reading your observations. I don’t really think about nursing homes that often, given that I was a kid just yesterday. I think most people don’t until they or a family member has to stay there.

    Anyway, get well soon. I’ll be reading.

  4. Katina, hi! I never thought much about nursing homes either, except as a big, dark cloud hanging over the end of one’s life. This is an exploration for me, too. Thanks for joining me on the journey!

    Hope all is well with you.


  5. Wow, you really are online all of the time. I’ve heard that you’re the fastest emailer this side of…some geographical barrier.

    Not like I really have room to talk- I am on vacation this week whether I like it or not. (For the record- I don’t. I’ve been trying to plan how I’m going to spend my free time for the last week. Apparently, I’ve inherited the gene that gives me an amazing work ethic at the expense of my sanity.)

    It seems that you can definitely relate. You really have seven hurdy-gurdies?

  6. Judith,
    What a great blog! Please heed the warnings to not walk “too fast for conditions” and recover quickly. Sometimes our mortality is a frightening thing. I’m glad you’re taking us along for the ride on this part of your journey! Have a nice Thanksgiving.

  7. Gertie, I have just read and thoroughly enjoyed your daily entries. See, you are still working and multitasking – keeping us all entertained with your marvelous writing. I have a degree in English, too, and have always wanted to write, but been “too busy”. I’ll bet there are some similarities between us in that regard. Now, you have your chance. Not exactly how you thought it would happen, but there you are. You have an audience, waiting for your next entry, just as your high school English teacher always imagined.
    I have a knee replacement in my future, and like you, will wait until I retire to do it. “Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today . . yada, yada.” You are handling your situation with extraordinary grace, and I salute you. You must be the “babe” of Orchard Creek at your young age. Keep those cards and letters coming.

  8. Hey Gertie!
    Are you able to entertain any of those residents with your musical talents yet? I can imagine how lovely it would be to wake up to one of your haunting Irish whistle tunes, like the Fanny Power tune we used to play. I am recovering nicely from my total knee replacement 3 weeks ago and heed your warning of not getting too feisty, too fast! What kind of pain meds are you on? I’m working hard to get off of mine but the pain is a scary thing, is it not? Many thanks for sharing and know you are loved. Gobble, gobble…:)

  9. Gwenners! No music here yet from me, at least. But I predict I will have to play some tunes before long or I will go bonkers. My friends here can just turn off their hearing aids if it bothers them….I think I’ll blog a little something about pain, so keep watching. And keep up with your therapy. Chocolate helps!

  10. Hi Judith!

    Just wanted to drop in and say Happy Thanksgiving! I enjoyed reading your blog this evening. Even in my immobility from eating too much, my fingers are quite capable on a keyboard. Glad to see that you are faring well!

  11. Hey there Gerdiecranker .. or better yet, Soapy. I finally accessed your blog tonight. I will read your rambling again tomorrow; you do have a wonderful way with words. And the thought content isn’t bad either.
    I did not realize you were at a facility but am glad to hear that laughter fills the hallways. Hopefully you’ll soon be able to get back to your home and dog. Much success at zipping yourself in and out of clothing .. and no more falls.
    Since I know you do Scrabble we’ll have to play someday. That is, if you play with cheaters who use a book constantly.
    Your FRIEND (of whom you do have many),

  12. Judith,
    You give us the perspective on the other side. It is good for us to read about your experiences and the feelings you have. There is always so much more we can do to help people transition from various life situations and health conditions. Will you play us your penny whistle soon?

  13. Judith,
    You give us the perspective on the other side. It is good for us to read about your experiences and the feelings you have. There is always so much more we can do to help people transition from various life situations and health conditions. Will you play us your penny whistle soon?

  14. Kasia, what would really be a contribution to this blog is a perspective from the staff and support side of Orchard Creek. I’d like to know what motivates the caregiver, what things they wish patients and the families should know, what kinds of regulations help/hinder them in doing their job well…my perspective is only one side of the coin…..

  15. Judith,
    What a wonderful tribute to Kathleen. I too connected with her when she first came…probably because she and I share the same name. And, I recall she came to Bingo for the first time in her life (she said) and really had fun marking numbers with a “dobber.” I think it was the social aspect and being with folks and laughing and doing something a bit different. What a wonderful woman who had such a sparkle in her eye. Yesterday I composed “BINGO” phrase/words to the tunes of Christmas carols and we laughed and played 2 games. For all the “BINGO” rap that denotes mere tolerance; for some it is a joyful and entertaining activity. I smiled inside knowing Kathleen was laughing and enjoying watching us. Bingo to you, Kathleen and JOY to you Judith..for your gift to us here at Orchard Creek. You are touching lives with your words.

  16. Well Gertie Gertie sakes alive! You old cranker! That was the best lemonade I ever read…made out of the lemmons of a nasty fall. With this kind of humor, grit, and determination, you’ll be bustin’ out of there in no time flat.

    You’ve always been on the cutting edge. And now, you are blazing the trail for all of us boomers who will inevitably be consumers of the caregiving industry on and off over the next two-three decades. You go girl!!! Show us how its done with style, grace and dignity!!!

  17. Hello Dear Juds,

    I am glad to know that you will soon be returning to your Bosnia project as well. As if you knew, which you probably did considering the bureaucracy and politics here, our true measurable things are just yet to come… another words: this project still awaites your wells of knowledge and experience! Please write me back.


  18. Hey Judith,
    I can imagine you as one of the Cirque du Soleil acrobats from your very bed…with your visions and precious imaginations, you will continue to view the positive. I can only imagine what this must be like…but I don’t really know. Much good energy and swirling light comes your way ~ believe it!! See you soon!

  19. Judith!

    I’m so glad to have discovered your blog – and so sorry to have been out of touch. You’ve been in my thoughts and my UU versions of prayers!

  20. Judith,

    Bobbie gave me your blog so I am now up-to-date on the not so good news. Keep your chin up. I can’t imagine! I know you can trudge through this and come out the other end. Know that you are always in my thoughts.
    One day at a time, as they say.

    Love and hugs,

  21. Hi Judith!
    I Just discovered Your blog. I have lost touch for too long. Sounds like you are having the challenges of your life, just know we are Pullin’ for you.

    Carol and the “Grump”

  22. Judith,
    The wee hours of the morning and through the night are such a different feeling. I’m so glad you have your computer to use during those hours when you want to. I’m sure there are SOOOOO many things you’re learning during this juncture in your life. I wish you swirls of positive energy! Kasia

  23. Soapy!!

    I had no idea that you’ve been through so much. Chuck Boody mentioned your situation on the dulcimers@yahoogroups.com list and I dropped in to read your blog. It’s delightful, even if the topic is far from that!

    Your way with words shows I side of you that I want to know better. I plan to drop in often.

    Hope your situation improves quickly. You’ve been through too much.


  24. Hello Madame!

    I’ve been following your blog since its inception. Even when faced with trial of monumental proportion you rise above!

    You will never know how much influence and light you have brought to my life. Keep on…keeping on my dear friend! You are an inspiration no matter what your circumstances.

    I am still up for adoption…lol.

    I’ve had a hard time watching and hearing of your trials even from a distance. Your path is one that my mother also took. She, unlike you had no will and stamina and it defeated her. All of your tales sound eerily familiar. My mother also contracted MRSA and went into isolation. She too had her hip replacement removed went to a nursing facility at 55 yrs of age. I miss her much.

    I pray and cheer for you daily. I am hoping to get up north to see you. Until then…Miss Judith…I will expect nothing less that superior effort from you physically and metnally. I can’t have my mentor in this state…just not acceptable!

    Take good care and keep on writing!
    With Love and Admiration,

  25. This is Hector from the Totally Hip Support group BB. Thank you for the compliment about having self-discipline. That may be true in some areas of my life but certainly not all areas.

    I followed the link to your Blog and read it to get an understanding of your health-hip situation. It is really unfortunate that you have had so much trouble with what should normally be a fairly routine procedure.

    Being patient and maintaining a positive mental outlook are certainly important. From your blog it sounds like you are doing an admirable job of staying positive and dealing with your problems.

    I wish you all the best in the coming weeks and months. In all likelihood you will be healed and walking around normally six months from now.


  26. Followed link from Totally Hip. Added you to Favorites under sub-folder “Aging-Blogs”. Well written, insightful. Thank you. Will check back. Had RTHR Monday; now Saturdy, came home yesterday; ;sitting at breakfast table (on pillows) logging into office intranet and working on email. About to head for nap.

    Thank you.


  27. Judith! No wonder you didn’t respond to an email I sent you a while ago. You were up to your __ in alligators, when you only intended to drain the swamp.

    Helen S. told me about your blog today, and I have certainly enjoyed reading it. As always, I remain awed by your ability to multi-task. Your writing is so well-done. (I do think there’s a book in there somewhere.)

    I am going to forward a link to GertieCranker’s Blog to a new blogger, Dr. Wendy Harpham, who writes on Healthy Survivorship at http://wendyharpham.typepad.com/healthy_survivorship/

    I’ve been on a big cooking up a storm spree, so don’t be surprised if I stop by soon with some exotic soup (or 2) for your late night snack.

    Jeanne Hannah

  28. Judith,
    Thank you…not all people are deaf just because they’re in a health care facility. I think the best way to deal with that would have been for the pastor to ask if she could hear him. Seems logical to me. And close the door to talk with her. I remember my friend, Linda, with Lou Gehrig’s disease…who couldn’t talk anymore and communicated with a dry erase board she got at Toys R Us. She said more times than not…because she couldn’t talk they assumed she couldn’t hear and would speak loudly to her. After a while, she just gave up trying to let people know she wasn’t deaf. But it sure was frustrating to her. Was that Rebecca Lessard who came to visit you with such cool coffee and stuff? That sounds so special and neat. What a good friend you have as well as the others you write about!

  29. Judith,

    I have continued to follow your blog and am pleased to hear that the MRSA is losing the battle. It’s about time. Most don’t know how common this infection is–but that’s not to say that proper treatment won’t prevail. Some cases just take longer than others. I say this based on experiences with relatives and friends.

    I sent you an email awhile back but you were probably in the midst of recent developments. Also, we have a new email address. Anyway I wanted to let you know that my H-Revision has been progressing positively and I go back to see quick draw in about 10 days–hoping to be released from the walker and brace. I wanted you to know there is hope. I agree with one of your bloggers that you will probably be strutting around confidently in the months ahead.

    Judith, as I said earlier, you were a source of inspiration to me at a time when I needed it. I hope you still have a source of same for yourself since at this point your situation demands it. It’s hard to believe how tiring and depressing just laying around can be.

    PS You are a wonderful writer!
    PSS A mutual friend said to say hello–Dave McKisson (Print shop entrepreneur in another life)

  30. Judith
    I cannot imagine that I was unaware of your plight!
    Sharon Skaryd called me today and shared your info.
    My heart was broken for you, but then, I read your
    blog and as usual, you are achieving a professional performance … one that takes great fortitude to sustain … I applaud you!

    My prayers are with you for your recovery. Not as soon as you would hope, but you will be home again
    in your rocking chair (I hope you have one because that is where I would be!)

    Gayle, HOotie the Greyhound, Gertie and Bleu, the kitties, Mona Lisa the Standard Rat Terrier (terror) and Lucy the Bantee.

  31. Judith,
    So glad to hear you are HOME again! I did not REMEMBER (Yes, I am over 50 now!) that I had put your blog in my Bookmarks months ago and scrolled right past it because I was looking for Judith and not Gertiecrankers! DuH!!! So I’ve finally caught up on your blogging and your progress. And progress, it is. Inspiring, real and educational. You really should be writing a daily column for a national newspaper! Anyway, out here in WA, the daffodils, azaleas and even some rhodies are in bloom as well as the fruit trees. It is still quite chilly but bursting beautifully with spring energy…just to reassure you Midwesterners that spring is not far off. I am sending you Celtic blessings as I practice Star of the County Down for our St. Paddy’s Day dinner/celebration tomorrow night. May your pot o’ gold be filled with the green of spring and a warm cobbler from last summer’s fruit. Keep your eyes on the prize, my friend…much love…gwen

  32. Judith,
    Finally found your blog site, with the help of my son. I am on the same path you are on, with the same docs. My original surgery was on 2/14 and then a week later I was back in Munson with a huge fever and accompanying pain. The lab results a couple of days later revealed I have joined the MRSA club. My hip removal and spacer placement took place on March 3rd. And so my own journey began. I am living at the Pavilions. I considered moving to Orchard Creek but there wasn’t a bed available at the time I could have moved. Couldn’t go directly there as my IV infusion was on a twelve hour schedule and there wouldn’t have been an RN available for one of the sessions. I have settled into the Pavilions and finally have a computer hook-up.I’ve been back to the ER at Munson for fever spikes and ultra sound tests. Going through the tunnel that connects the two facilities makes for easy travel!I wait for lab results and, noting your observations, ignore the calendar. I’m envious of reading about your awakening to the snores of your dog! I miss my three dogs. My family has brought the smallest of the three (all rescues of one sort or another) to visit. The Pavilions allows dog visiters. Yesterday, a 4-H club brought about a dozen dogs to visit. Several of them were Border Collies. I am reading the March National Geographic article on animal intelligence. Border Collies seem to be at the top of the dog list! Judith, I wish you good lab reports. Your positve attitude is certainly a role model for me. I thank you for establishing this site. I can only hope others in this situation find it and benefit, as I have, from your observations.

  33. Judith,
    Happy to find your site. I have the same docs and a spacer, as of March 3rd. I am living at the Pavilions waiting for lab reports and glad to finally have a computer hook-up. (Sanity!) I’ve seen the pictures of your tropical home as a mutual friend stayed with Lynn. I appreciate your site and have certainly learned a lot. I try very hard to ignore calendars.
    Wishing you good labs.

  34. Judith,
    Sorry to have written twice. The directions were to modify my message and I did! Now there are two. Egad. I’m sorry to take up so much space.

  35. Judith,
    It’s so nice to be able to follow your travels, I miss you so! I have been mining the session and have some nice nuggets to show you. Did I say I miss you?


  36. Judith,
    Oh happy day – you have a new hip. You have been on such a long trip. Knowing that you could have awakened to another spacer, not a new hip, was probably a terrifying thought. It was for me. My new hip was “installed” on April 17. There are support groups for every condition I can think of, but not for MRSA patients. How fortunate to have your old room back. Isn’t it wonderful to have a hip you can control? Wishing you a successful and UNEVENTFUL recovery. Maybe I’ll see you in line at Bardon’s, some hot summer night! Congratulations! Wish you’d turn this into a book for newly diagnosed people to read – kind of like QD’s book on THR! You deserve a medal for courage.

  37. Judith,

    It has been a while since I’ve read you blog and I’m so delighted for you that you are out and about making music and painting, and rediscovering your passion for the world outside of recovery. Be well! Wendy Lane

  38. Hello!

    I stumbled across your blog while looking for information about Eleuthera. I have so much enjoyed your writing, thoughts, and tales of the island. My wife and I are Out Island lovers. Somewhere while reading your blog I realized that you were from Suttons Bay or thereabouts. I spend every summer of my childhood in Omena.

    It is so nice meeting you electronically.


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