Counting Sheep Doesn’t Work

I’ve been waking up at ridiculous middle of the night hours after a few hours of sleep. Tonight, though, I’m still awake at 2am without ANY sleep. Yes, I take something prescription to help me sleep but tonight it’s not working. Neither did counting sheep. Okay, cats.

My right leg is spasming from knee to toes, clamping down in waves of pressure and tingling. This happened all the time right after my surgery but lately it hasn’t been around at all. I didn’t miss it and wonder what it means that it’s back. My lower back hurts, too, and my tummy hurts where I’ve been sticking myself with Lovenox.

On the other hand, I did figure out how I can roll over onto my left side, something I’ve been trying to do for almost a year.

… 5:25am. I got 3 hours of sleep and am now sitting with a big ice pack on my lower back. Never sure if it should be heat or ice, but at least I know it feels good. I have pain pills if needed. I’m also dealing with waves of nausea again, which I think are from the Lovenox. Planning to lay low today. Maybe take a nap if I can.

Medical Catch Up

I’ve been having increasing pain in my left thigh over the past weeks, first around the inside of the knee and up into the groin. Weight bearing didn’t hurt but lifting the leg up, say to walk or heaven forbid, get the leg into bed, caused stabbity burning pain. That was the worst and had me avoiding the pain of getting into bed enough to just sleep in an uncomfortable non-reclining chair. My therapist used the diathermy machine and ultrasound, but it just got worse, and now I know why.

The problem isn’t really with the thigh at all, though there may be a muscle strain. We can’t do anything about that; it will heal on its own and in its own time. The problem actually is a pinched nerve in my back. After last weekend’s pain levels, I contacted my doctor and actually saw her on Monday for the first time since June. They did x-rays (which was all kinds of weird to do, since I was shoeless and without my AFO or really anything to hold on to) which didn’t show any kind of additional structural problem, but x-rays don’t show soft tissue damage.

The doctor said that it’s not at all unusual for someone who has back surgery to have another type of problem pop up in a different place several months after the surgery. The burning pain is nerve pain in my lower back, running down my outer left thigh. It’s actually in the same place that I had similar awful burning pain six years ago. I got a steroid shot and a prescription for a tapered dose of prednisone, which I’m currently taking, to help calm down the inflammation. I also have more pain pills which I’m taking. My new PT told me that it’s actually a good sign that I’m only feeling pain in the low back and outer thigh; that means inflammation is calming down. It’s not good when the pain goes lower and wider.

In the midst of all of this, I had my first home health visits, both a weekly nurse visit and two visits from a physical therapist, who did an assessment on Tuesday. It’s so hard to explain that this back/leg pain is brand new – I’ve been essentially pain free through all these past months, at least free of this type of pain, and I’m still surprised to stand up and feel how stiff and painful the thigh actually is. Today we had our first visit with exercise and walking. I’ve done all the things before, but haven’t done them in a while and they certainly felt different with the leg pain. At least I knew to take a pain pill 30 minutes before he came, and iced the back down after we finished. The cold feels good.

I also bought a lift chair without ever sitting in it. Not what I wanted to be doing but I had to have an other option to climbing into the bed when it hurts so much to do that. All week my aide has come in the evenings and helped me get the leg up pain-free, which was wonderful – but she can’t be here all the time, and I needed somewhere to sleep since the recliner had pretty much stopped reclining (another story for another day). The folks at Southside Furniture took pics of their inventory and I selected a chair from that after also looking up specs about them on the manufacturer’s website. It’s not the most comfortable chair ever, but it lays completely flat if I need it to, and will help me keep the legs up without having to actually LIFT them up. All good things. I slept in it last night and it was better than my alternatives.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day and my brother and sister-in-law will be visiting. I’m really looking forward to seeing them for the first time since they moved me down from rehab 2.5 months ago. And I have some small projects for them, including rearranging furniture in the living room to make sense now that I have the lift chair. All the other chairs face each other and the TV but I can’t see anyone’s faces if they sit in them where they are now. So we’ll move them and I’ll ride around in the wheelchair to be sure I can still navigate the space properly. I also want to rearrange furniture in the second room to accommodate a NuStep, which I’m still thinking I’ll buy. They’ve repaired the one here in my complex so I’ll start with that one first, but we’ll just have to see how it goes. We can use towels to layout where the mat would go for the machine and see just how much space it takes up (most of it, I think).

The AFO continues to be a problem; the therapist wants me to walk in the apartment more than I have been, but I can’t do it without the AFO. So I’m thrilled that I finally have an appointment with a foot specialist at Azalea Orthopedic in early January. He should be able to make that happen, and it could make all the difference.

My goal for next Christmas is to be walking around using my nice red rollator instead of using the wheelchair.

Mind on a hamster wheel

It’s been very hard to concentrate on anything important today. I’m not sleeping well, after weeks of mostly sleeping like the dead, and I wake up with spasms in my right butt where I’ve had problems with SI joint pain for years. Not sure why it’s hitting me these last few days; maybe I had so many other distractions earlier in therapy that that part of the anatomy didn’t really bother me. But it sure as heck is now. I also have pain on the right side of the neck up into the scalp, so I’m going to do as much stretching as I can do before heading to bed.

It’s not helping that my regular evening meds are not coming at consistent times, which makes it harder. I just can’t settle down until the restless leg med has had a chance to work, usually about 2 hours before sleep. When I don’t get anything until 9:20 instead, that just doesn’t work. I’ve talked with the Director of Nursing about this before, but also know that there have been some off the wall problems with a resident having a really bad case of Sundowner’s on top of separation anxiety. And there are staff shortages here. [Update – I just got my night meds at 6:30pm to take when I’m ready; good job, team.]

I’m grateful that I can do almost everything for myself now and am not at the mercy of the call bells that sometimes ring and ring and ring for long stretches before there’s a response. I know my body and what it normally does so can plan accordingly. For example, no more liquids after 6pm or I’ll end up having to get up multiple times to pee, which means lifting legs out of the bed, putting on the gripper socks, transferring to the chair, into the bathroom, and back out to undo all of the above. It’s a whole lot faster to just walk but hey, I can’t do that now.

The little back wound is almost completely dried up by now. They still change the dressing every day but it’s tiny and by the time I go home, it should be completely closed over. The surgical scar which is about 6 inches long (I think, I can’t measure it on my back) healed up quickly and hasn’t given me a bit of trouble, which is one thing to be grateful for. Another is that I had cataract surgery in both eyes back in June and everything was healed and working properly from the time I went to the hospital. No worries about keeping track of glasses, which has helped too. I have enough other things to keep track of and make sure they’re within arms’ reach. I’ll need to figure out how to make that work at home, but at least I have practice doing it.

Thanks for hanging in there with me through these daily rambles.

Image credit: Photo 72753983 © Natali Antoschenko |