Depressed with too many things

I’m a librarian. We know how to research topics, evaluate sources, and distill information. This last week I’ve been researching lymphedema causes, treatments, and prognoses. Lymphedema is progressive and incurable, though it can be managed. I must say that it’s all pretty depressing, on top of already being depressed about my body and mobility limits. So today I’m not in a very good place.

It seems probable that my lymphedema is at least partly because of my obesity. While there have been thinner periods, I’ve mostly been morbidly obese for years. The fat can block the lymph system, making it not drain properly and resulting in swelling that doesn’t reduce with water pills, which I’ve been on for years for water retention. They’ve caused lots of peeing but not a whole lot of change in the leg, which usually gets better overnight when I’m level for hours.

Ten days after my spine surgery in August 2021, I noticed that my right foot was much heavier than the left one, which was much easier to pick up when I tried to walk. It was as though someone wrapped weights around my right ankle and expected the leg to operate as usual. It didn’t and it hasn’t since then.

Last summer I complained about my continued leg swelling, tightness, and heaviness only to be sent for an ultrasound that found the blood clot. Well, the first one. Things got a little better when they put me on blood thinners, but it’s been almost a year and the clot not only hasn’t dissolved, there are now two of them and the Vascular people tell me they probably won’t dissolve after all. Grrrrrr. I don’t completely understand why they can’t do anything about them except monitor but will bring it up again at my June visit.

A certified lymphedema therapist did my lymphedema evaluation and shortly after I was measured for custom compression “garments” at the cost of $240/leg. They’re lined with something non-slip so they’ll stay in place for many hours. I apparently need “donning gloves” to put them on, so they’re on order with Amazon, as well as a wide rigid sock aid. My regular aid is covered in terrycloth, which would stick to the inside of the new garments, so I can’t use them.

I watched a YouTube video to make sure I knew how to put these bloody things on, but they only showed a person without leg and foot issues casually slipping the socks over the toes, you know, the way normal people do. My feet don’t work like that, which is why I need the sock aid. Let me see, green slippery thing over the leg, compression thing over the sock aid, slide the foot into the aid and gradually pull the handles to slide the aid back out over the heel, bringing the sock with it. Then use the special gloves to pull the sock up to its correct position. The next issue is how I get them off, but I think I have a plan using the end of my reacher tool.

I think my leg is going to look and feel like I’m in a straight jacket. I may also need to have a pair of these things that are thigh high, given where some of the lumpy places are. I’m guessing those will be $750/pair. Ugh.

There are Facebook groups on millions of topics. I joined one on Lymphedema and am already on one for Spinal Cord Injury. It’s amazing what great resources they are for learning about conditions, treatments, tools, as well as support and motivation. That’s where I learned how to take off the compression socks, and have seen pics of legs wrapped up in sleeves to use with a pump. I can’t have that yet because of the clots. Another thing of interest to me is a vibration plate. It seems that everyone is talking about it and I’d never heard of it! Again, I think that’s off limits for now because of the clot, but I plan to bring both up with my next appointment at the Vascular place.

I strained my left knee last week doing a twisting pivot turn transfer to the wheelchair in the bathroom. Oops. It’s still warm/inflamed, so it’s getting ice a few times a day, and I’m mostly just sitting in the lift chair with my legs up as much of the time as I can. So – sort left knee, sore shoulders/delts, sore right wrist, lower back pain from right and left SI joints, super tight muscles in the legs, and my screwed up swollen right leg and foot.

When I think about all the things, I want to just cry except that won’t fix anything. I’m not sure what’s wrong can be fixed at all, and know that some of it can’t. I need to lose weight but it’s wicked hard when you’re in a chair and not moving a whole lot. I can get back on the NuStep in a few days but that doesn’t last as long as all the extra steps I was getting 2 years ago. I have to remember to love myself where I am, knowing that God already does.

Reclusive, depressed, or sick?

Nope, just SAD. I finally figured it out and ordered a light therapy lamp. I had one when I lived in New England and I know it will help. I wrote most of this post before I figured it out, though 🙂 Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) include everything I’ve been feeling for the last 6 weeks …

Since coming home from the hospital, I’ve spent a lot of time alone in the apartment. Well, alone with the cats and the TV. I’m not really interested in hanging around people and being social. My friends here are lovely and I enjoy their company – but not now. Since the retina tear, I’ve also been basically sitting around because I’m not supposed to do anything strenuous and to avoid having my head down. The quiet time alone feels like vacation.

I’m not sitting around moping or feeling sorry for myself. I dose off in the chair frequently and am really tired all the time even though I’m getting lots of good sleep at night. But I have that deep chest cough and facial pain, which usually means a sinus infection. I’ve had both for weeks. Am I depressed? Maybe. Actually, I know I am and I’m already on an anti-depressant which has helped enormously.

My shoulders hurt just being attached to my body. After propelling myself around on mostly carpeted hallways, my arms are tired and the shoulders hurt more, and my legs are often throbbing from being down for hours instead of elevated in my lift chair. But mostly it’s the idea of having to get myself back home after being out for something like working on the community puzzle in the library or going to Bingo or exercise class that tires me out before I even go.

I don’t feel lazy staying at home. It’s really just taking care of myself. I can sometimes find someone who can help me push my way home again – but so many people use walkers or scooters and can’t actually do much to help. So it’s up to me. I’m more than ready for the power chair.

And that chair will let me get outside in the sunshine much more easily than I can do now. I can’t wait.

I fell apart today

I hear a lot of people telling me that I’m strong and so focused and so determined. Maybe. But it comes at a high cost. Today I fell apart in therapy, grateful that for some reason it was the only day ever that my therapist and I were the only ones in the rehab room.

I’ve been pretty seriously depressed for months, and in denial of the toll it was taking on me to be strong and focused and determined. I didn’t feel that I had a choice. No one is here to do things for or with me, things like self-care and home-tending and figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B. Oh, I had help from home health and out patient therapy, and I hired someone to help me early on with showers and laundry, etc. But when roadblocks popped up, I found I could do more than I thought I could do. And it’s important to me to be as independent as possible for as long and for as much as I can do.

But the reality is that I’m in a wheelchair with feet that don’t work right. My right ankle hasn’t improved in ten months and may never get better. I can walk 300 feet or so but that’s not all that much – though it’s certainly better than Day One when I was unable to stand up. Yes, there’s been improvement. But it still sucks.

When I’m depressed, I eat, and over the past 10 months have managed to regain all the weight that I worked so hard to lose to get me qualified to have spine surgery. At first I wasn’t sure if my physical discomfort was just because I was in a chair and not moving as much as I had before. That’s certainly part of it. But I’m eating too much of the wrong things. I know how to do this. I’ve done it over and over and over in the past. Let’s face it – I’m not feeling joy in a whole lot of things right now, and food brings comfort even when it causes discomfort.

And I’m lonely and terribly isolated. I love my apartment and have NO regrets about moving here, but I’im one of the younger residents and I really miss being with people my own age. I had some friends over last week for a lunch and visit, and I loved seeing them so much that it really drove home that those visits were few and far between in the last months.

At my request, my doctor put me on an anti-depressant about a month ago and I’ve asked the therapy people for recommendations of people I could talk to about the huge life changes I’m dealing with. Of course, getting to them won’t be easy but not much is these days.

I know, whine whine whine, poor me, you can do it. Yes, I can. I can deal with all of this. But not today. Today I want to cuddle a kitty and eat cookies and cry a little. I’m allowed. Because tomorrow I have to get up and keep going.

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 |

Not All is Merry and Bright

In spite of the almost non-stop showings of Hallmark Christmas movies at our house, not all is merry and bright. I did something to a muscle (or tendon or ligament or something) in my left thigh that pulls on the knee and zings right into the groin when I raise my knee (say, to walk or anything). And getting the leg up into bed with the leg lifter is excruciating. It’s hard to get comfortable IN bed, too, especially with Ellie plastered against my other leg. She rarely sleeps with me and I don’t want to push her away – but trying to find any position that doesn’t hurt is a challenge. My therapist has been using the diathermy machine on me – but I only have a few more sessions left. It will just take time, but meanwhile, it hurts.

This is my first Christmas away from my home in Emerald Bay. I was back last week for the Women’s Club Christmas luncheon to hear my friend Curtis offer a Soul-ebration of the season and had the chance to see lots of people for about 2 minutes each. But I’m very aware that I’m no longer part of that community and it felt weird to be back with so many people and activities that I knew nothing about. Lots of changes in just four months but it feels like so much longer since my life was normal.

I want to go hear Messiah and sing the Christmas Cantata, and to go Christmas shopping, even if just to look. But I can’t do that. Transportation is tricky and not available evenings and weekends. I’m learning to live a smaller life and it’s a hard adjustment. I’m trying to remember that I’m giving this one year to just be what it is and see how much healing happens. But waiting is hard and it’s lonely. Oh, there are things to do here in my new community but it’s still a big adjustment and I have to work around therapy and my aide’s schedule.

Three of my new friends here are moving to be closer to their children. It’s logical, it’s sensible, and it’s another loss for me. I need to get used to it – there’s a lot of turnover with moves to new places, moves to assisted living, and deaths. It’s part of living in a community of older people – and have I mentioned that I’m the youngest resident here?

So I’m feeling a bit depressed and sad, and eating more than I should, which makes me depressed and sad. I have the lovely kitties to keep me company, books to read, Hallmark movies to watch, but still. I want to bake cookies but don’t trust my ability to stand and maneuver around the hot oven, so that’s out. I want to rearrange the closet but can’t stand up and do it. And I want to weed out stuff to take to the thrift store, but can’t do that either. I can’t even set up a puzzle at the table because my legs are too swollen and I need to keep them raised up. Arrrrgh. Whine. Sorry.

Image credit: Photo 66773269 © Androlia |