Unhappy toes

Sensation below the right knee hasn’t been normal for a long time now. There was nerve damage that hasn’t recovered and probably won’t, at least not anytime soon. When I feel odd things such as pain under the ball of the big toe, I’m told it’s nothing more than nerve damage and not to worry. Oh, and let’s not forget the “sponge-y feet” that sort of squish on the bottom when I walk. Odd but normal for neuropathy.

Now my toes have been acting up. They started curling under a bit in the spring of 2021. That triggered the MRI that finally sent me to a neurosurgeon. My right ankle is still frozen and I can’t flex the foot at the ankle, but I can finally move the toes up and down a little bit. They’re still curling under some and I’ve noticed they’ve been catching on the drain in the bathroom floor which is uncomfortable.

Except my middle two toes are not happy. I can’t feel anything wrong but then, I can’t feel much in the foot anyway. Today when I strapped on the AFO’s and started walking around the apartment with the rollator, those toes started screaming. I don’t know why they hurt but they do. I may need to buy another pair of shoes one half size up to give the toes more room. But I’m pretty sure that my doctor would just repeat that there is nerve damage making it feel this way.

Walking hurts, though, and it’s hard to make myself do much of it when every step hurts.

[Note – the picture is of happier toes when I could still wear my pink Birkenstocks, now alas in my past.]

Swollen leg update

This isn’t particularly exciting but I’m trying to keep track of what progress (or not) I’m making as I go through this recovery time.

As you know, I’m on Lovenox because I have a blood clot in my right thigh. I inject it twice a day on the left side in the mornings and on the right side in the evening for no particular reason except they need to be spaced out. No one mentioned several things that would have been good to know. First, I needed to get a sharps container for the discarded syringes. Amazon came to the rescue yet again. Second, those injections can and often do leave hard lumps under the skin, and with all of the injections, those lumps start to run together. I have one big lump about 4 inches long and 1.5 inches wide plus a few assorted scattered other lumps. Third, because this is a blood thinner, I’m ending up with lots of purple blood bruises. Bottom line is my tummy looks like someone beat me up except it doesn’t really hurt, it just looks bad.

It’s hard to tell if the injections are doing any good. Various medical people told me that the clot would dissove in about a month, two months, three months, or up to six months. So it’s really too early to tell if anything is happening yet since it’s just been two weeks. I do think my right foot isn’t quite as puffy as it was and in the morning, it looks almost normal. The leg is still very tight and swollen and there’s lots of pitting if you press the skin with a finger. But maybe there is progress.

I finish my 30 day supply of Lovenox before my next appointment with the vein specialist, so I need to call the office to see whether they want me to refill the prescription (at $252) or take Xarelto that I already have left over from the FIRST doctor to see the DVT. I know I have to keep taking something, just not what.

I would really like this leg to be normal. Beyond the clot problem itself is the heaviness of the leg because of all the pooled blood in the calf. I first noticed the difference between right and left about 10 days after my surgery last August, and it’s never completely gone away. Walking is more complicated because the legs don’t fell the same when they move. The right one feels big and clunky, as though it’s pulling through water. I’m hoping getting the clot dissolved, whenever that happens, will make the walking feel more balanced.

Image credit: Photo 58182878 / Sharps Container © Sherry Young Dreamstime.com

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.

No good very bad day

It took me 30 minutes this morning to get up from the lift chair and move to the wheelchair, because my right leg would not stay bent long enough to be stable to stand on. I was in tears. My right upper thigh was burning but the leg itself didn’t hurt; it just would not bend and stay bent. When I finally was ready to get dressed, it took me almost 90 minutes because I could not lift the foot off the floor. You can’t put clothes on if you can’t pick your foot up. I finally managed to use the leg lifter and poke panties around enough that I could start to put them on, but then there was the problem of standing up. Since I couldn’t pull the leg back enough, I pulled the chair forward to make it bend and be in position for standing. Again, the knee didn’t hurt but the thigh was on fire. I was in tears.

Getting the right foot on the foot rest has been difficult for the last few days. I can get the leg bent in the right position, but lifting it up to get on the foot rest is beyond me now. My foot gets about half way on, and I have to stop and haul the leg around again by the compression sock several times when going any kind of distance – say, from my apartment to the dining room. One of the servers was able to get it back in position which hurt to DO but didn’t hurt once it was in place. The pain was in the outside top of the right thigh.

I’m on Day Two of a four-day course of prednisone to hopefully diminish inflammation that could be causing the pinched nerve. This has been going on for almost a week, and I’m very discouraged. I’ve been so lucky to not having much pain throughout the last few months, except for a similar bout of this in December, and I seem to have a low pain tolerance – and I’m not in constant pain, which is a blessing. The primary care doctor said to consult the spine surgeon if the prednisone doesn’t make a difference, and I’d really really like to not have to go see him only to have him tell me it’s something else wrong. I just don’t know what to do and am really hoping things will ease up.

So I’m sleeping in my clothes tonight. At least I know I was able to get them on today and will be spared having to do that tomorrow. With shoes on, my foot will be less likely to slide along the floor when I try to stand. Because there’s no one here to help me if I can’t do this myself. The cats are beautiful and loving but they aren’t much help.

And yet, I feel guilty being upset about this because I’ve been watching the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, and know how desperately people are fighting for their country. How can I be so selfish to be upset about myself when others are going through such devastation?

Image credit: Photo 23472131 / Bad Day © Stevanovicigor | Dreamstime.com

Therapy Notes – Wed. 9/1/21

How did it get to be September? What happened to August? Oh wait, I spent it in the hospital and rehab. No wonder I’m confused. I haven’t been outside for weeks. But that will change next Tuesday, September 7th, when I will be discharged from Olympic Rehab Center and moved to Meadow Lake skilled nursing. Closer to home – in the backyard, almost – but not quite there. BUT it’s where I need to be. I’m not ready to go home yet, much as I want to. I’m not safe alone for things like walking to the bathroom, which, let’s face it, is a pretty basic thing. Not to mention actually getting in and out of bed. And putting on my own shoes isn’t something I can do myself yet. So I still have things to learn. They will come and get me in a transport van and whisk me off with all my accumulated stuff for the next stage of this journey.

Today I had a different PT therapist because Veronica was off. We started out walking, because I told her that’s what we usually do, to get the walking done while my legs are fresh and strongest. I walked 100 feet with two stops on the way. My right foot up to about the top of my sock was feeling really weird and clumsy – and trying to explain it, realized that it was because my foot felt tingly needles and pins, something it hadn’t felt in over a year. The right foot has been basically numb dead weight, with the ankle frozen and unable to move up and down. The left foot is a lot better, still with the frozen ankle problem but able to wiggle toes and bend them up and down. But today the right foot felt for the first time as though it’s starting to wake up a little. I didn’t really notice a functional difference, but could FEEL a difference.

Yesterday afternoon Veronica used a TENS unit to try some stimulation to the leg muscles, to remind them how they’re supposed to work. Today we did more of the same, with the electrodes placed differently. Not sure if yesterday’s session was responsible for the “waking up” feeling of today, but it was worth trying again to see if there’s more sensation tomorrow. Every day builds on what came before. And after the stim session, I walked over to the Nustep (about 13 feet) and did 15 minutes on my favorite machine.

OT time was the usual 15 minutes on the arm bike, but changing up a level and adding hills for extra effort. I really don’t like this thing, but on the other hand, my upper body is a lot stronger. We followed it with more arm weights with pulleys and with the rickshaw and pull down weights. I know, it’s the same thing I do every day – because they work. Then we did another pass at using the bathroom commode from the walker, which was easier except for the standing up part. The commode is lower and there’s only a grab bar on one side, so it was MUCH harder to stand up. But so far today I’ve done it twice! I’m still sticking with the bedside commode when I’m in bed because it’s not safe for me to be doing much walking or foot movements without my AFO splints in the shoes, and who wants to put on shoes just to go to the bathroom?

Roommate situation is not ideal but I’ll deal with it. She’s a nice woman who is in a lot of pain from a fall in her house where she was alone for a long time before someone found her. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” for realz. I feel sad for her, because it sounds as though her children and grandchildren don’t pay much attention to her, though that may be completely wrong and just a case of “poor me.” But she needs help and that’s what they do here. I’ve been urging her to speak up early when she has pain or needs help, not wait to not cause trouble. A tip from one patient to another. That’s how we roll.

Oh, and one more thing I want to remember – I have been making my transfers using a walker and not the wooden sliding board. It feels like graduation.