Not my best at 2am

I definitely was not thinking straight last night when I got out of bed to use the bathroom. I’ve been doing great with my walking and think I just was over confident, as well as being still half asleep, when I tried to get back into the bed. I use a purple therapy pad after I sit on the edge of the bed to help me scoot back so I can use the leg lifter to haul the legs back up. The pad was already on the floor and I thought I could use my walker to step up on it to get on the bed in the first place. Dumb idea.

The good news is that I didn’t fall. The bad news is that I now have some very sore and achy places on both sides of my lower body from trying not to fall. The right ankle is a little swollen, the right knee is sore, my right shoulder hurts, and my left hip is very tender and is developing a lovely bruise where it hit the wheelchair arm as I madly fell into the chair instead of hitting the floor.

Nothing big on my schedle today but I need to do some stretching and use some ice packs and take a muscle relaxant to help calm things down. No walking until I can trust the sore places to not yell.

I can’t feel my foot

And let me tell you, it’s very odd to know it’s attached to your leg but not feel it when you walk. I went to the ranch last weekend, which involved about 4.5 hours total driving with my foot in the same position, and while it may not have caused any additional problems, it certainly didn’t feel right doing it. Then I fell again when I got home, walking across the carpeted living room in my bare feet. One minute I was walking and then bam! I was face down into the carpet. Nothing broken and only a toe bruised – but my pride and confidence were shaken. I was able to get myself up with a little work to get pillows in the right place to kneel on them but also trying to avoid kneeling on the bad knee. The cats were no help at all, sitting upright on the dining table watching me.

The next morning I almost fell again, stopping myself by grabbing furniture (the cane was in the car). Again, nothing hurt, but I did notice as it was happening that my big toe was kind of dragging instead of being properly picked up when I step, unless I’m paying close attention. Which is weird to have to do.

Next Tuesday I’m going to Jacksonville for another spine MRI which will be compared with one done two years ago. I’m expecting that things will be worse. My primary care doctor will send me to a neurologist, I think, but the pain doctor also wants to see the MRI results. I’ve been seeing him for almost 2 years, getting injections and nerve burns which have helped. But I still have this foot thing which is getting progressively worse. I want to know what Dr. S thinks.

I think surgery is probably in the cards. I don’t want it, but if that’s how to get relief, then it’s what I need to do. But first I have to get through seven additional medical appointments already on my calendar this month, most of them for cataract surgery with follow-ups, a return visit to the pain doctor, and the dentist for fun. In the meantime, I have the cane and am being started on new medicine that hopefully will help.

Now if I could just sleep for more than 3 hours a night, I’d be in good shape. But on the other hand, I got purple highlights in my hair so at least I look good.

What’s wrong with this picture?

At first glance it’s that one foot has a slipper and the other just has pretty red toes. But what’s really wrong is that I’m sitting on the floor. And not on purpose.

My right knee has been wobbly since I tore my MCL back in May, throwing my balance off. The right foot has neuropathy from spinal stenosis which began 18 months ago. And I’ve been dealing with back pain with injections and nerve burns but my right SI joint is still a mess. In fact, I was supposed to get an injection in the joint yesterday until they rescheduled the appointment.

So in a way I’ve been expecting to fall. At least yesterday I was inside when I lost my balance and crashed to the floor – the carpeted floor. There were chairs for leverage in getting up. Oh, did I mention that both knees were replaced 8 years ago? Kneeling is like being on broken glass, which is why getting up is so difficult. So having pillows to support the knee helped, though my first attempt to get up did something to my right foot (naturally, the right side again) and I almost cracked my head on the brick hearth. The next attempt was successful and didn’t cause any more injuries.

Being a klutz, I know the R-I-C-E routine of rest, ice, compression, and elevation and always have several ice packs in the freezer as well as frozen peas. I iced both foot and knee last night but by this morning, I could barely walk on the foot. I don’t think anything is broken and suspect it’s just a sprain but am going to the doctor later today to get it checked out to be sure.

I need a better plan for dealing with possible falls since I live alone. Using a cane, at least until I can have knee surgery (after I lose enough more weight). I’m giving a house key to the security guard and making arrangements with friends I could call if/when this happens again. My upper body needs to be stronger and I can work on that with weights. I need to think about some kind of alert system, though the idea of being that “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” old lady is hard to swallow. But the idea of falling and not being to get up is even worse.

I keep almost falling

I almost fell twice yesterday, once walking down my driveway and once in the bathroom. On Wednesday I almost fell in the parking lot at the eye doctor, tripping over some weird metal thing sticking out of the concrete. That one was a close call and I only avoided actually falling because the lot was tightly packed and I fell into a close-by SUV.

I don’t like it. I don’t like that I can’t trust my body to keep me up. I don’t like having to walk looking down at my feet ALL THE TIME in hopes I don’t stumble over something the size of a twig. I don’t like that this knee that was so strong and trustworthy is now so unstable.

The kneecap is wobbling around because I tore the MCL and some other stuff on the inside of the knee. The solution is to wear a brace to help keep that stable but the custom-made one maybe out of my price range ($900 and up) and not paid for by Medicare, so I’m looking at other options made for fluffy people like me. But it’s clear I can’t pretend I don’t need it. It doesn’t hurt as much as it did earlier but pain isn’t the problem, instability is.

I don’t like it. And I don’t like the idea of using a cane when I’m feeling stronger and more healthy except for this stupid knee. I want to go take walks but am afraid of falling just going to the mailbox, so how can I trust myself on a walk? So a cane or walking stick is going to be needed even if I don’t like it. And I don’t.

No Longer Taking the Back for Granted

Back painI’ve been anticipating (fearing?) a fall for months now, even before Lori had hers in NYC. When your knees are as messed up as mine, the idea of a fall on ice in the winter makes me take baby steps when I walk on untreated surfaces or simply stay inside. Out in Denver two weeks ago, I almost took a major header on the brick sidewalk after exiting a bus while out shopping. I flailed my arms around and that seems to have altered the inevitable crash with the ground.

My luck ran out on Wednesday. Or rather, the anticipated fall arrived.

I was walking back from a doctor’s visit, enjoying the nice weather and taking pictures of things along the way, when I stopped at an ATM machine in one of those little teeeny spots along a strip mall where you use your card to enter. I swiped my card and opened the door and promptly fell forward like a tree falling hard to the ground. No time for the arms to flail, or space either. I knew I was falling and there was nothing I could do about it.

My head had a glancing blow with the machine and my right upper arm/shoulder hit that privacy guard thing on the side. My knees smacked down and my chest took the brunt since my arms were not helping to break the fall. Whooomp. Immediately my BACK started screaming at me, though why the back hurt so much when it was my front that hit, I’m not entirely sure.

People helped me get up, although it took an astonishingly large number of them to get me vertical. That was humiliating, since the aware part of me knew that a smaller person wouldn’t need so many people to haul her weight up, and I found myself apologizing for making it so hard for them. I refused several attempts to call 911 and just thought I needed to walk it off a bit and figure out what hurt.

It didn’t take many steps to realize that my back felt as though it was on fire – the whole back, with every step or turn or breath. My knees were getting stiff, especially the “good one” which hit harder. I walked back to the office, taking a lot longer than the usual 10 min. to make the trip. By then I knew I had to go see someone to get drugs, if nothing else.

I ended up at the hospital ambulatory care unit, much smaller than an ER and also with a shorter wait; I was only there 2 hours. After x-rays and limb pushing and pulling, they told me nothing was fractured and that the back muscles were in spasm. I wasn’t at all surprised that the worst part was in the areas where the front had hit first; I knew from massage therapists that muscle tension on one side is balanced by muscle pain on the other.

I now have big honking Motrin for pain and spacey-making muscle relaxants to, well, relax the muscles and also help with pain control and ice packs on assorted sore places 4-5 times a day.

The hardest part was getting in and out of the car. It’s low to the ground and I do more twisting and turning than I’d realized and with every move or breath making the back fire worse, I found myself sitting in the car with one leg in and the other leg out, trying to gather the nerve for the spiked pain that would get me all in. Getting out wasn’t any easier.

I spent yesterday at home moving as little as possible but enough to keep me from stiffening completely in one position. I’ve been taking the back for granted and had no idea, really, how many things the body does that involves using all those back muscles that are now as sore as hell.

It seems to be resolving itself into knee stiffness and bruising, upper arm stiffness and pain, and moderate to spikingly bad back pain on the right side. I sit and write with an ice pack on that section of the back and it feels wonderful. I also have my trusty bag of frozen peas on the knee.

It’s the Friday before Memorial Day and it would seem sensible to stay home but I don’t think I’m going to. We have an out of state visitor at the library and I already missed my scheduled time with her on Wednesday, having preferred a date with the hospital. So I think I’m going in to fulfill that commitment today and to see what all I left on my disaster of a desk. No sudden moves allowed. I know, going in is not my brightest move; if getting in and out of the car is still as hard as it was, I won’t even start the engine. But I know that moving around – carefully – is good.

It makes a change to be thinking of my body and evaluating pain and muscle reactions instead of only seeing excess pounds.