Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind

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Staying Busy

My back, shoulders and arms are sore this morning, a sure sign that yesterday’s pool workout was effective.  I’m very happy that my back is not in spasms; I did something to my SI joint about a month ago just getting out of my car.  Major pain from one spot up to most of the left side of the back, which then ebbs back and becomes just tender, and then is fine.  Then I do it again by walking down stairs, or standing up, or something else normal.  The doctor is referring me to physical therapy and my trainer knows what’s going on and is very careful in the movements she allows me to make so I don’t aggravate the back.

I really love my trainer and her style.  She has wonderful energy and so much enthusiasm for helping us be stronger and healthier.  One of her other clients with a session next to mine has become a good friend and the gym generally feels like a more approachable place than it did back even in May.

Yesterday was busy.  Tessie and I slept in until 7:30 after a great sleeping night (low temp and humidity with windows wide open) which felt fabulous.  Training session, followed by a banana split meal replacement shake (250 calories, 30 gms protein) while I went on errands.  Hit Staples (small Rolodex for work), TJ Maxx (coffee only, clothes were meh), bank, Walmart (school supplies to donate plus groceries for me), and the local farm (fresh fruit and veggies).

Today is for house cleaning, weeding out things to take to the Salvation Army, laundry, neighborhood walking, and doing online claiming of missing serials issues.  Yes, that’s a work thing but I can do it here while watching TV, and it needs to be done.  This is the least painful way to do it.

I haven’t been very introspective lately, and am not focused on Big Issues.  Maybe I should be, but I’m just not at the moment.  Just living one day at a time.

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They Pulled a Tooth Yesterday

My first four teeth were pulled when I was in 4th grade when I got braces, to make room for the wisdom teeth to come.  The wisdom teeth were pulled when I was a freshman in college (nothing says spring break like sitting on the couch eating ice cream and watching soap operas).  That made 8 total, all planned.

Yesterday they pulled another one, but this was totally unexpected.  I’ve been having pain on the right side of my face, alternating between teeth and sinuses, for almost a year.  I went to the dentists 3-4 times last fall, had x-rays taken, and had my teeth poked and prodded but nothing was found.  They said it was a sinus infection because nothing showed up with the teeth.

I’ve had at least 3 courses of antibiotics  which helped but not for long, so my primary care doctor referred me for a CT scan of the sinuses and a visit to an ENT.  She didn’t find a single thing – the scan was clear.  But my cheeks hurt, my head ached, and my teeth started to hurt again when I was eating.  So it was back to the dentist.

They took more x-rays, which looked exactly like the ones in the fall (I saw them, too, and they looked like twins).  But this time the dentist saw something different in my mouth: part of my upper back left molar was wiggling when I bit down.  Just part, the rest of the tooth stayed put.  Not good.  Verdict: fractured tooth.

There was no way to tell how much was fractured but the plan was to pull the broken part and build up what’s left.  Unfortunately, the tooth had fractured right down the middle, hidden on x-rays by the filling, and there was no way to save the tooth at all.  So 20 minutes and lots of novocain later,  it was out in two pieces, and the roots showed signs of chronic infection. The hole will heal and I won’t be replacing the tooth.

The mouth feels better this morning but I’m making it a low-key day with Tessie, which works for both of us 🙂


I Hurt All Over

I fell on Thursday going for lunch with friends.  I’m terrified of  falling because 1) I feel like an idiot, and 2) I’m afraid that I will hurt myself the way I did two years ago when I did something bad to my back that sometimes still gives me trouble.  But another seriously major concern is 3) Can I get back up?  When the knees are down to bone on bone, as mine are, kneeling is excruciating – and I haven’t figured out how to get up without kneeling on them.

So I was content to just sit for a bit on the sidewalk in the sun, taking stock of my instantly sore places, all on the right side.  Yes, the same side with the knee that needs a replacement and the shoulder that had the broken collarbone back in January.  After a few minutes I managed to haul myself up (and no, it wasn’t pretty but it worked) and tottled off for Pad Thai with my friends.  I figured that I would know if I hurt something if I started moving around – and Pad Thai is my fave food, so why should I miss it?

I’ve been applying ice packs in the form of bags of frozen peas to my sore knees and using a frozen gel ice pack on my upper shoulder, and taking ibuprophen for the inflammation.  But I’m still really stiff and sore.

My massage therapist told me today that not only were those spots I’d been icing inflammed, my entire right arm was inflammed from the shoulder down to the fingers.  Not just sore, but swollen.  I am to ice everything and take it easy, which suits me just fine.


I Fractured My Collarbone

Broken CollarboneI’m telling people it was a football injury but we all know that I don’t play football and am not very athletic.  I’m terrified of falling and breaking something, but it didn’t happen with a fall, either.  In fact, I’m not sure HOW I did this.  My medical degree is from Wikipedia, which doesn’t count for much.

What I do know is that I came home from my Texas trip feeling fine but soon after I got home, the right shoulder area started hurting.  Sleeping was hard, and it hurt more and more the next day.  Being a smart girl, I took myself to my health plan’s Urgent Care center on Tuesday, after waiting for Peapod to lug in heavy bags of groceries – which proved to be a very good plan.

Urgent Care is urgent in name only, not in speed, but it’s better than an ER.  When they finally saw me, they poked and prodded and kept asking, “does it hurt here? how about there?” before sending me down for x-rays.  I had on one of those cute little gowns that ties in the back only I couldn’t tie it because I couldn’t lift my arm enough.  In fact, I couldn’t lift or turn it much at all.

After the x-rays, the doctor told the nurse to put me in a sling and I’m thinking, huh?  I’ve never used a sling before; crutches, yes, but not a sling.  The doc said that on all the films, there was a clear line showing in the clavicle.  It’s in the right place to match the pain.  There’s nothing really you can do about it, just wear a sling for weeks, rest it (no shoveling – not good for me in January here in New England), put ice on it when it hurts, take an OTC anti-inflammatory to help with swelling, and if needed, take something for pain control before bed since it’s hard to find a comfortable way to sleep.

How did I break it?  I have no clue.  The doctor suggested maybe lugging suitcases around, since I had just returned from a trip, and it does make sense in terms of timing – but I’ve lugged suitcases and a lot of other heavy stuff before and never did anything like this.  Since I’m not in terrible pain unless I’m trying to do something stupid with the arm, I’m hoping it’s just a crack and not a full-blown fracture.  I wish my bra strap didn’t come directly over the sore place, but I’m not going out to the office without one, so I’ll just deal.

As long as the arm is supported (which it is while seated in a nice recliner in the living room), there’s no need for the sling and I can type with two hands.  It’s harder in the office because the support isn’t the same – but it’s really hard to use the mouse with the left hand.   Hmmm, maybe I can get the IT guys to move a few things around for me.  I’m getting some furniture changes, including a new keyboard tray, so maybe the arm support will be better soon.

In the meantime, the kitty and I are hanging out and enjoying the last bits of the holiday week.  It’s back to normal on Monday.


My knees are crumbling away

X-ray of an Arthritic Knee (not mine)They’re worse than I thought. My knees, I mean. And I didn’t think they were all that good in the first place. At least now I understand why a bit more.

I had my initial visit with the new ortho people, a year after my last consult in Boston with the surgeon who worked on both knees and treated me over a 12 year period. My last MRI’s, carefully lugged in on the bus and carried over in my hot little hands, were pretty worthless because they are 2 years old and the right knee had surgery after the imaging was done. But still, as an academic background, they were useful.

What he wanted to see were weight-bearing x-rays, showing how the joints look when they’re in action. One look at those and he said, no wonder it hurts so much. There’s this little space in the joint where the meniscus is, and in a healthy joint, it’s the same width all the way along. Mine looked like it was pitched cockeyed, with the bones touching on the medial (inside) part and the normal spacing on the lateral (outside) part. The ends of the bones were ground down without the nice rounded edges they are supposed to have. The right knee was considerably worse than the left, and the left isn’t going to win any prizes.

So, what to do. I have a referral to a joint replacement specialist – not to schedule surgery just yet, but to talk about long-term and short-term options. Eventually there will be a double knee replacement in my future (I do, after all, have my father’s knees and he’s already done it). Losing weight will ease the load on the joint but the damage is already done, between wear and tear of weight bearing over many years + arthritis + degenerative joint disease. Lucky me.

I also have some inserts to put into my walking shoes instead of the orthotics I’ve used for years. It seems that they correct my pronation, alright, but that actually pushes the knee in the wrong direction. Maybe years ago it would have helped – and actually, I think it did – but now that simply pushes the already tight joint into more bone-on-bone grinding. The new inserts will push the leg the other way, hopefully opening up that little cushion space enough to feel some relief.

Of course there’s the other problem that I have arthritic feet. God, it’s hard being old. When I lace on the walking shoes, the lacing presses right on the top of my foot which is where the arthritis is. The next joint down is where the shoe bends when you walk, and that presses on an even worse little arthritic space. So wearing the good for me healthy shoes actually can case more pain than not wearing them at all. The orthopedist described my pain accurately as though someone stuck a knitting needle in my foot and then ran a rolling pin over it. Yeah, that’s it. I want to avoid this at all costs.

So I’m going to have to think about managing the insert thing to help my knee with the foot and shoes issues. It’s not possible to use inserts in my adorable Birkenstock pink sandals. Which I wore today and plan to wear again tomorrow.

Are we having fun yet? That’s what I thought.

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Nursing My Sore Knee

Knee Cryo/cuff combines compression with coldThe Evil Princess of Exercise skipped out on water aerobics tonight. I’ve been doing a lot of walking, standing, and stairs in the last 2 weeks and my bad knee is very cranky, to the point that bending it hurts like hell and straightening it means that bending it later hurts more.

I decided that, although water exercise is the only realistic thing I can do, an hour of hopping around in a cold pool wasn’t going to cut it today. So I came home, popped an extra anti-inflammatory, and piled on the frozen peas. And ordered myself a heating pad that plugs into the car lighter so I can warm up the knee while parked outside the gym before going in for a workout.

When I finish this post, I’m going to dig into my files and find my post-op exercises and start working them again. I’ve lost range of motion since the surgery – I can’t do much of anything on the recumbent bike or bend it as much – and I want to be sure I don’t lose more.

My dad commented when he was here and walking behind me at one point that I walk the way he did before he had his knee replacements. This isn’t a good thing and although I knew I was kind of lurching around some of the time, I hadn’t realized that everyone else was seeing it, too. Which is pretty silly when you think about it.

I had a great visit with my parents, who went back to Texas yesterday. I’m not sure what we’ll do the next time, because we did everything! Art and natural history museums, walks around Yale and downtown, trips to Mystic Seaport and Litchfield and East Rock Park, and Sunday’s steam train/riverboat trip on the Connecticut River. We had great weather and easy travel, and my new blow up aerobed worked out beautifully.

It gave me great pleasure to do all the cooking and give my mom a little vacation, although it was weird to not have leftovers. Cooking for three is different than cooking for one person who doesn’t care if the separate parts are ready at the same time. We ate fairly simple food (meat, vegetable, potato) with light-dessert most days. My mom rarely snacks while my dad demolished my box of Healthy Choice fudge bars. I was somewhere in the middle and felt pretty snack-deprived, although I wasn’t really all that hungry. It was the habit of them, I think, that I missed.

Now the house is quiet except for the sound of rain outside. I’m home alone with my sore knee and the frozen peas and the time to think about who and what really matters.