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.

I finally got a FitBit

Zoom in on Angle Zoom. Fitbit - Inspire 2 Fitness Tracker - Desert Rose.

All of my friends seem to have had them for years. I didn’t want to be tethered to something that monitored me every minute of the day because, let’s face it, I fail a lot of the time to reach the goals and expectations I’ve set for myself. But the last 14 months of using the Renpho with its phone app have just shown me that stepping on a scale can produce data that doesn’t judge me, it just is what it is. An expression I hate, but it works.

I bought a FitBit Inspire 2 at BestBuy this week on impulse. Well, not exactly since I’ve been looking at them online for a while. But I hadn’t planned to buy it this week, it just happened because it was on sale. It has a silicone Desert Rose band and is very pretty but still kind of annoying to have on my wrist all the time. And it seems to want to lock itself in a “Lock Water” display which is also annoying. But boy, it keeps track of a zillion things, and now I have it linked up to MyFitnessPal and Noom, so things like tracking weight, water, and exercise only have to be done once and then all the rest of the little apps have the same info. Kind of scary how smart they are. After a few days, I’ve figured out that the wrist display just shows me data and isn’t a place to actually enter it. Duh. But good to know. Another reason to be tethered to my phone with the apps.

Two things that have been interesting so far: 1) The FitBit thinks that the NuStep machine at the gym is an Elliptical and tracks my exercise accordingly. 2) The sleep data that it’s tracking is much more detailed and helpful than the info from the CPAP machine, which just tells me how many hours its been turned on, not how much time I actually sleep. I’m not quite sure what to DO with the new information, but it’s interesting.

Don’t expect to see my screen captures online, at least not often. My friend LLC in Nevada posts her FitBit step count screen on Facebook every day and I’m pretty intimidated by her faithfulness in getting exercise in, and by her willingness to put all that out there for the world to see. Because for me, Facebook is where the paths of my life cross. There are family members, current neighbors, former work colleagues, and random people I’ve met along the way who now are part of my world. What makes sense to one group is completely new to another, or else feels private being revealed when maybe I didn’t want to do that. But it gets tiring to keep track of who knows what. It’s easier and much less complicated to just be me and they can take or leave whichever parts they want.

My knee has almost buckled at least four times in the last two days. It needs exercise and then rest. Right now it has ice on it on general principles, because ice is always good. The MCL tear happened almost exactly a year ago, and it might be as good as it’s going to get. The genicular neurotomy (nerve burn) that was supposed to help reduce pain didn’t do anything except hurt at the time I got it. Mostly it hurts when I’m in bed and trying to turn over or bend the knee; this buckling nonsense happened all the time a year ago but has been better until lately. I need to have a talk with it. And probably use a cane, though I don’t want to. I don’t actually want to be a woman who needs a cane, because it makes me feel older than I am. But falling again isn’t an acceptable option, and there have been times in the last week when I was deathly afraid of doing just that.

The Knee – Second Opinion

You go for a second opinion for a bunch of different reasons. Maybe you don’t trust that you got full information from the first person. Maybe you want a different explanation of something complicated that you don’t really understand. Or maybe because what’s recommended is big or expensive or complex and you just want to hear if someone else agrees with it. I got mine for all of those reasons.

My problem is a torn Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) on the right knee, which already had a total knee replacement. The MCL on the inside of the knee and its partner the Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) on the outside act together like hinges to keep the knee stable and not wobbly. Tearing one makes the knee unstable and left me prone to falls. I’ve learned not to straighten my knee completely when I walk or stand which helps a lot, but at night it straightens as I sleep – and the movement wakes me up with pain. And I’m afraid of falling.

I tore the MCL in May 2020 and saw my primary care doctor a few days later. I got x-rays and not much else, but at the time we thought it was a sprain. But it didn’t go away and I got very fall-prone. In August I saw an orthopedist who did more x-rays and confirmed I had a complete MCL tear, which is only corrected by surgery. Since I already had a knee replacement, we were talking about a revision surgery, which meant replacing the replacement. It’s a big surgery and not something to jump into without a lot of thought. Plus he also told me that I couldn’t have it anyway until my BMI was lower than 40. He also sent me to get a custom brace which I didn’t actually have in hand until just after Thanksgiving. It’s large, cumbersome, and the velcro on the thigh portion rubs the inside of my other thigh too much for me to want to wear it. So I’m not.

Then I fell a month ago. You remember that, right? It was fun. I sprained my foot and twisted the knee, and decided it might be a good idea to get a second opinion about what was actually wrong with it. That appointment happened this morning with a knee and hip surgeon at Azalea Orthopedics. They took more x-rays, then talked to me about what’s happening.

Yes, I have an MCL tear. And you fix it with surgery. But having already had a knee replacement, what I would need is not just revision surgery. It would involve a very long and complex surgery to take out everything there and installing a new joint with a hinge. Part of the femur would be cut down. It’s not a long-term solution and if it failed in a few years, it would mean amputation. So it’s not something he recommends for someone young and healthy. He said I should take the idea of it off the table. He had me at “amputation.” He also showed me on the x-rays why he suspected that the MCL was already compromised, possibly even from the original surgery. While we couldn’t prove it, he was concerned that a second surgery might not be successful.

What he DID recommend was a knee nerve block for the pain and physical therapy. I had asked the first doctor for a PT recommendation back in August but never heard back. I left the second doctor’s office with a PT prescription for 6 weeks of 3-4 times a week of therapy. I also got the name of the specific nerve block he said should solve the problem of nighttime pain. It might only work for 6 months but hey, 6 months is 6 months. I see my pain doctor soon for a follow up so I’ll ask him about it. If it’s not a procedure he does, the folks at Azalea do.

My biggest fear going into the appointment was that my weight would be a factor. Turns out the doctor doesn’t think surgery is the right choice for me no matter what my weight is. He explained that larger people have greater risk of infection following surgery because they have more surface area to infect, and therefore a greater possibility of implant failure. Orthopds use BMI as a cut-off because they want surgery to be successful and infection is to be avoided at all costs.

This second opinion visit was definitely worth the trip. I understand what’s going on in the knee far better than I did after seeing the first doctor. I didn’t want surgery anyway but man, I really don’t want it now. And I know why.

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.

Feeling the Covid fatigue

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

When I’m stressed, I either eat or shop. I’ve been trying not to eat, although I’ve had a couple of iffy days lately, but I’m going great guns on the shopping. Ask me about velvet pumpkins, my new computer, and leggings. I went a little nuts on leggings.

No, I haven’t lost any more weight and in fact, have gained back a few pounds. But since I know I didn’t eat as many calories as would make those pounds actually stay attached to my body, I’m not particularly worried. But it must be stopped and I’m doing it.

Physical activity has come to almost a crashing halt. I can walk just fine in a store holding on to a cart, and try to do that several times a week, although that does open me up to the “Oh, we must buy something in this store” mentality. But the bad knee is very sore when I try to do other things, and now I think I pulled a groin muscle doing something or other. Clearly I need lessons in how to stretch better so I don’t do this crazy stuff to myself. It is completely logical that this lack of movement is the reason for my basically stagnant weight situation. I’ve heard nothing from the guy who measured me for the super expensive custom knee brace; I think it’s time to order a cheaper one from online to see if it could help.

There is good news, though. My A1C has dropped from 6.1 to 5.3! Still higher than I’d like, but way better (and finally under pre-diabetic) for the first time in years. I thought I’d get updated cholesterol and triglyceride levels with the last blood work but surprise! they didn’t do those. I don’t know why. My arm was there and filling up blood vials nicely. They could have taken more!

But then there is bad news. The back is still a problem. The left side neurotomy was quite effective and only twinges pain a little now and then. But the right side, the bad side, is only about 40% better. Maybe 50%. When I get in the car, I can get about 1/3 of the way to town before it starts to hurt instead of 1/2 mile. And I can do things without wanting to cry. But I’m not getting in a car anytime soon to go on a trip or just get “windshield time,” as my brother calls it, because it hurts.

So instead of doing much, I’m sitting in my chair after work with ice rotating on various body parts, doing gentle stretching, and working on puzzles with the cats. I’ve noticed that my temper flash point is very low and my patience for criticism and correction is almost non-existent.

I’m tired of sore body parts. I’m tired of coronavirus and people who don’t wear masks. I’m tired of being stressed. I want my scalp psoriasis to calm down. And I want Purina to NOT discontinue Emma’s favorite food. And I would really, really like for the election to be over.

Did I mention I put a Biden sign in my yard?