Birthday Cake for Breakfast

Today is my birthday and I had carrot cake for breakfast because, why not? My brother and sister-in-law brought it with them yesterday to celebrate my day a bit early, and there are carrots in it, so it’s healthy. It certainly is tasty. Cecelia gave me the best b’day present ever: a massaging foot bath followed by nail trim and foot massage. Honestly, my feet have been so unhappy (it’s been 3 months since the podiatrist was here and I really can’t cut my own nails because of the neuropathy) that it was the perfect gift. Plus I’m touch deprived and dearly miss regular pedicures and massages. At least I can touch and cuddle the cats, even though they’re not all excited about being cuddled.

For my birthday, I’m buying myself a loveseat for the living room. This was the original plan last year when I moved in but it never happened. Now it’s time. I’ve had a great time looking at furniture online and trying to find something that’s not too big, not too boring, and made of lighter colored fabric that the cats won’t want to immediately claw. They leave soft chenille fabrics alone so that’s what I looked for. I also bought a coffee table from Pottery Barn in wood and metal that will match my shelving unit. Both loveseat and table will give the girls more places to nap and change up the look of the space while still giving me ample room to wheel or walk around. I needed more space for that when I first moved here but I know what I’m doing now. It makes a difference.

My belly is sore from my twice-daily Lovenox shots, and I have lots of purple splotches. I do morning shots on the left and evening on the right to make sure I’m spacing them out properly. The first few days I had waves of nausea that I finally realized were from the shots, and on one walk in the hallway found myself in a cold sweat bad enough that I turned around because I was so shakey. That might have been low blood sugar which usually isn’t a problem. I’m hoping these shots are actually starting to work on the blood clot.

I see the cardiologist on Tuesday for my regular annual exam and will see what he has to say about the clot. But first I need to call the vascular people to have a report of my visit sent to the heart doc so he has all appropriate information. We shouldn’t have to do all of this checking and tracking but I don’t expect the offices to do it on their own anymore. My work experience in dealing with vendor customer service for a zillion different reasons helps enormously but I wish I didn’t need it.

Small Meltdown Over Shoes

I hate that it’s so damned hard to just put on my shoes. And that they are so ugly.

I loved to go barefoot in my house and to wear my beloved Birkenstock thong sandals year round. My toes don’t get cold, the arch is supported, and my feet can breathe. They are very wide, too wide to easily fit in local shoe stores, so I’ve bought shoes online for years. I had a good pair of New Balance athletic shoes in a men’s 8.5 4E that I wore to the gym, with soft flexible fabric that accommodated the occasionally swollen feet.

Alas, those days are no more. No more bare feet, no more Birkenstocks. No more cute shoes. Just expensive orthopedic shoes for diabetics with padded ankles, soft fabric uppers, and velcro straps. They’re ugly and I feel like an old lady wearing them. I’m too young to need old lady shoes! Except I’m not.

So I keep buying super wide shoes that should fit only to find that they actually don’t fit very well, or they fit one foot but not the other. That’s even without the AFO’s – and the new ones are going to be harder than the ones I have now, so I don’t want to spend pots more money buying shoes that should fit with AFO’s before they’re actually here, because if they don’t work, I still need to send them back. Which isn’t easy to do anyway when you don’t drive or have easy access to a car.

The OT spent her time with me today playing shoe store, pulling things out of the closet and then trying them out to see which ones I can get on by myself and how we make that happen. It wasn’t pretty and there was crying involved, but I finally did get two different ones on after about 15 min of trying for each one. The ones I have on now are black and ugly but they more or less fit, though they are two different sizes.

It could be worse; at least I have feet that I can cover with shoes. And if I have to, I can hire someone to put them on for me. In the scheme of things, shoes are a small thing. But I’m still waiting for insurance to approve wheelchair and AFO’s so something small becomes big because I can wrap my head around it even if I can’t always get the shoes on.

Image credit: Photo 47266077 / Big Feet © Yong hian Lim |

Wheelchair Frustration

I’ve been using a wheelchair for almost 5 months. I know how they work, I know the parts, how and when to take off the footrests, how to make tight turns, and how to navigate in tight quarters.

But I really hate the one I have right now. It’s still the loaner from therapy because my own chair was on backorder, which may or may not still be true. The seat is sagging, which is something called “hammocking” which throws the body out of alignment. I bought a thing designed to provide a flat base and a convex bottom that fills in the saggy part which looked like it should fix the problem, but instead I found myself sliding too far forward, running the risk of falling out of the chair more than once.

A worse problem, though, is that the wheel locks aren’t secure anymore. So the chair slides forward and back a bit when I try to stand up – which makes me very insecure about trying to stand up, which is problematic right now anyway because my legs aren’t as strong. It moves less when on carpet, which I have in the bedroom, so it feels safer when I try to get dressed or transfer to the bed, but hard floors (which I have everywhere else) are a problem. The maintenance guy at the rehab center can tighten the locks, but I’m no longer going there for out patient therapy so will need to get scheduled for the fix – and schedule transportation to get me up and back for what should take about 15 minutes.

It’s really hard using the chair when I need to carry something somewhere, like laundry or food, or move into closets to take out storage boxes. You should have seen me today moving the boxes to store Christmas stuff. I kept running into other boxes, door frames, doors, and almost a cat, knocking down coats and a few other things. My feet kept twisting because the rubber soles don’t slide on the carpet and it was hard to move around with any speed. Swearing didn’t help and I really, really missed the ability to just walk around and do things that required a lot more thought this time when every move had to be thought through first.

I miss having feet that cooperate. And I want my own chair.

Calls to make this week:

  • Call BrickStreet for an update on delivery of my wheelchair
  • Call Meadow Lake therapy to get on schedule for repair of wheelchair locks

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Not feeling all that great today. You know that whenever the weather changes, my sinuses act up, even after the surgery last year. Have a stuffy head, cough, and slightly queasy stomach, so the therapists took things easy with me. Andrea said she’d rather I stop to rest than push on until I fall down. Hard to argue with that logic.

Big win for today was having maintenance tighten the right wheel lock on my chair. It would lock but still move, which is very scary when relying on it to be rock solid when standing. And in therapy today, OT and PT overlapped so my rest time from one was doing an activity for the other. To save time, I did both arms and feet on the Omnicycle, with weights on the arms. It was a little bit confusing but seemed more productive than doing one, and then the other in the same place. I walked a total of 275 feet with a few stops.

My right foot feels as though it weighs about 10 pounds more than the left foot, or more understandably, as though it one foot has a weight around it and the other doesn’t. I don’t know why and it’s throwing me off balance. The right foot was the one that was numb and frozen for the the last year, but I don’t remember it feeling heavier. Question to ask my surgeon next week when I see him, since it’s the right foot/leg that were damaged by the spinal stenosis. They did a nerve study when I saw the doctor in July and I think it would be smart to ask for a copy of that report so my therapists (and I) know which ones are dead and which ones have the potential of coming back, at least in part.

It’s really hard to write that. Sometimes I can pretend that this is all like a play and I’m only in the chair/unable to stand/needing help with everything for a limited time and then I’ll wake up and everything will be back to normal. I can dance around the apartment, move where I want, reach things on high shelves, and fully settle into my new place. But then I remember that it could be 6-8 months before I see improvement from the spinal surgery, and the lower extremity weakness was a surprise to everyone, so who knows when that could improve. Well, it’s improving because I’m working my butt off to strengthen muscles that I used to take for granted. But it’s unlikely that I’ll wake up one morning and be able to throw off my foot splints, leave the walker and chair behind, and just go home. Sometimes it’s really hard to keep optimistic when what I want to do is cry.

But it could be worse. Those muscles might not be able to respond, leaving me a true paraplegic. That’s not where I am, and I need to remember, even when the sadness hits, that this is going to be a long slow slog requiring constant vigilance and hard work. It’s the hardest thing I will probably ever have to do. And I’ve barely started.

Anne in Feathers and Beads

I came back from New Orleans with pretty silver earrings from the French Quarter, a crystal jar and a plaque for completing service on the board, two pounds of Mardi Gras beads, swollen feet – and an additional five pounds. I knew it even before I got on the scale this morning at Weight Watchers. At least it’s marginally better to know there’s a gain without having that come as a shock actually on the scale.

And really, what did I expect? I ate dessert more often than I’d planned, and bread and cookies because they were easy and transportable. I had a few glasses of wine and one cocktail (some amazing Brazilian margarita thing that I can’t spell or pronounce) but that was really not much for being at a conference near Bourbon Street. There wasn’t a lot of fruit around and I found myself craving vegetables and salad, which is unusual for me who usually complains of eating salad until I turn green. I did eat lots of blackened fish and chicken and the flavors and tastes were wonderful.

Making the food choices was really hard. I was consciously aware in some cases that I was eating things that I was going to regret. Sometimes I ate only one instead of a handful or was able to push away the plate after being satisfied. My system isn’t used to a steady stream of this much sugar. At a conference we essentially work from 7am-bedtime with programs, meetings, and always networking. There’s pressure and tension that comes with that, as well as the fun, and it was so easy to reach for the handy carbs rather than seek out something better. Especially with feet so swollen that walking became a problem.

I have to not beat myself up for it. But I gained 4 lbs even before I went away and am discouraged to realize how damn fast I can gain what takes forever to lose. I need to make an appointment with my newly assigned primary care doctor here in my new health plan and am already bracing myself for hearing the “you need to lose weight” lecture (nothing like thinking positive, huh?).

In the last two years, I’ve been playing around in the same ten pound range. That’s actually pretty good for someone who has been morbidly obese her whole life. I know I have a lot more to lose to feel better; I want so badly to be under 200 lbs. But it’s no small potatoes that I’ve been able to keep from regaining everything, which is my usual pattern. I’ve done that over and over and over and I’ve been terrified that it would happen yet again.

I’ve restarted over and over again but it’s been difficult these last two years to get enough of a grip to refocus and really make progress. Maybe I’m just afraid of it. I’ve thought about not going to WW since mostly I seem to be maintaining but know that, for me, the consistency of having someone else weigh me is crucial. If I stopped going, more than just my feet would be ballooning.

I can’t promise forever. But here’s the plan for this week: Journaling. Planning meals out the day before so I know what to prepare and eat. Bringing lunch at least three days instead of eating out. Drinking one more bottle of water. Walking the mile between the parking lot and office at least one way, at least three days. The fridge is stocked with fresh fruits, veggies, and protein, and my swollen feet are fitting into walking shoes. I got weighed today so it’s a clean slate.