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 | Dreamstime.com

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 | Dreamstime.com

Therapy Notes – Friday, 8/27/21

Susan washed my hair today. It felt amazing, after three weeks, to have water on the scalp and fingers washing away grime. I’ve never appreciated a shampoo as much. It was the last part of my OT time today, after doing the arm bike and weights, and a round of practicing transfer from the wheelchair to a shower chair so I can have a shower next week. I still have trepidation about how it will work in practice, but at least I’ve practiced it twice. With practice comes more confidence. At least that’s the plan.

Yesterday in PT, Veronica had me practice standing with the parallel bars and letting go with one hand at a time. Today I had a chance to actually use that when getting dressed, standing in the walker and holding on with one hand and using the other hand to help pull up my clothes. I don’t think I would have been brave enough to risk doing it otherwise.

Today we started PT by walking with the walker. I did 30 feet on my first try and 35 feet on my second, to the applause of one of the other patients and her therapist. The rest of our time, I worked on transfers (again) and on how to get my legs up on the bed by myself. Yeah, easier to say than to do. And rolling. I kept trying to figure out how to apply this info to my own house, which is going to need to have some furniture rearrangement – and the bed is entirely the wrong height. Not sure how that is going to work. I miss my bed but I admit I love having something adjustable. Maybe Sleep Number has a good option for me but I’m not sure what I’ll do.

I had a little pity party on the table, trying to get my legs off the floor by myself. A wave of “Why do I have to deal with this? Why is this happening to me?” Tears and sniffles. I’ve mostly stuffed all that down because it keeps me in a pit instead of working to getting out of it. Whatever the reason, this is my reality now. I don’t have to like it, but I do have to accept it and learn work arounds for things that used to be so easy to do. I’m very grateful for my friends who are taking care of the kitties, and house things, keeping in touch with cards, texts, and Facebook. But it’s lonely here. We spend a lot of time alone, resting and recovering. I miss seeing people in person, and getting hugs. And I miss my kitty girls so much. I hope they will remember me.

Today was hard

I ate 8 cookies today. I’ve hardly seen 8 cookies in 8 months, but today they just kept going into my mouth as I ate in a fog. I know cookies are not the best choice but I ate them anyway. Now I feel sick to my stomach and so very sad that I sabotaged myself this way.

I’ve been faithfully following Noom since January 1, and lost 55 lbs, though those last 4 have been bouncing on and off. But I don’t want them to bounce back, I want them to stay gone and move below that. So I started thinking about what else was going on with me.

I hurt. My back feels like someone is stabbing me with a hot poker in the middle of my butt due to severe spinal stenosis. Basically, nasty arthritis has closed in on the spinal column and restricted the space so the pressure causes pain. Plus there is a weirdo horn-like bone spur growth that isn’t helping. I’ve been dealing with this for months and am actually scheduled for two neurotomies in the next 2 weeks, one for each side, which will give me some serious relief. But for now, driving two miles down the road to the grocery store hurts.

My right knee has also been giving me trouble for almost 2 months. I had knee replacements 7 years ago and they’ve been good as gold, but now I’m feeling those stabbing pains on both sides of the front of the knee. I’m limping and walking hurts, but then, doing nothing hurts too. I’ve been trying to get in as many steps as I can but the idea of hopping on a treadmill makes me cringe.

This strange coronavirus time is wearing on me. I’m tired of just going to work and coming home, doing little else to avoid being around people who aren’t wearing masks. Many of the rewards I had set up for myself at the beginning of Noom dont’ work now – I would kill for a full body massage and have a gift certificate for one on the fridge – but I don’t think it’s safe to go. I used to enjoy eating out, especially ethnic food, but cooking for one doesn’t make that interesting. I want to GO somewhere and DO something. I want to get in the car and drive (which hurts at 2 miles so just go figure how a longer trip would work) to see something different.

I want a vacation from work but can’t figure out what I would do with the time if I had it. I’m sick of salads and have discovered wonderful Evol frozen dinners that are comfort food but have too many calories for me to be enjoying as often as I’m fitting them in. I’m tired of reading little articles, though I still plow through daily weighing, food logging, and drinking water.

But I’m really scared that I can’t do this. I have a great history of losing big amounts of weight when I concentrate and then it seems that if I blink, the success disappears and I’m back where I started. I can’t do that this time. I won’t do that.

I need a hug.