arthritis


Oddly enough, I was reminded of Rachel of Nottingham last week when I was awaiting a referral to an orthopedist for my five-year-long hip issue and for my year-old dad-inflicted (unintentionally) wrist injury. Dottie is still “working” at UAB, so I’m on week three (technically) of the waiting game. She delayed on a post-respiratory failure referral to a lung specialist for my mom for six weeks. Dottie should retire, but she’s never going to leave. I kinda wonder how many people will die or have permanent ailments (that should have only been temporary issues) because of her laziness.  My hip feels like someone is slamming a hammer into the joint. Occasionally it has a sharp twinge that lasts an hour or two; that can be breath-taking1 and frightening. It can also be nausea-inducing.  My wrist doesn’t hurt much. I just can’t hold things well since the incident; I drop almost everything I hold for more than a couple of minutes. It also pops every time that I move it.  But enough about those issues that everyone knows I’m lying about, what’s new with you?  In a bad way. ↩

Just Whinge-Ing It   Recently updated!


I’ve been meaning to write something about what’s been going on with Nana for a while now, but I couldn’t figure out what exactly I wanted to say. So this may be a little less coherent than my already incoherent style of writing. I would apologize, but I figure that you really should know what to expect from me at this point.  Two weeks ago, my mom went to Nana’s to stay for the week. Nana was having trouble getting around and mom was going to help her out for a week. Well, the trouble getting around became pretty much bedridden by Sunday. And totally bedridden by Wednesday. Nana’s home health nurse decided it would be best for Nana to go to the ER near her home instead of seeing her family doctor. At that ER,1 the doctors realized she needed to see a neurosurgeon2 and might need surgery. That meant sending her to Huntsville.3 She got here unscathed.4 The Huntsville Hospital ER got her stabilized before sending her to the neuro unit.  The next day, the neurosurgeon finally came to see her. He had to have her MRI repeated before he came, though. Apparently, the other hospital’s MRI either wasn’t clear enough to be read properly OR there was a compatibility issue between the hospitals. The new MRI showed her stenosis had gotten worse. It also showed a compression fracture of her fourth lumbar vertebrae. Surgery was no longer an option, it was a full-on requirement. Right before five pm on Thursday, she was given the vaguest surgery time ever: around lunch on Friday.  When we got home that afternoon, I was about ready to drop. Just being at the hospital for a few hours at a time was so exhausting. And yet I couldn’t even get to sleep when we would get home. I also couldn’t move much either because my body was turning the emotional exhaustion into physical exhaustion. But Thursday evening was spent informing relatives and friends of Nana that she would be having surgery.  We found out that around lunchtime basically meant after noon. I’m not sure when the surgery itself started. I do know that it was described as being pretty routine. And it took Nana until after 6:30 to get back to her room on the eighth floor.5  When she got back up there, she was so sedated that we figured she would sleep through the night. Aunt Barbara was staying with her and it seemed like she wasn’t going to have to get up with her all that often. Aside from some trouble breathing, which is totally normal post-op in this family, the hospital staff seemed to think that Nana was fine. And we were all more concerned at this point by the number of veins that she’d blown,6 the bruises she developed from the EKG leads,7 and the blood around her lips.8 Guess who I got some of my connective tissue issues9 from. Anyway, no one thought that things were going to go from eh to DEFCON 1.  Clearly, we were sadly mistaken.  Aunt Barbara called my mom at 5 AM to tell her that Nana had had trouble breathing all night. Like a lot of trouble. Like she stopped and they had to literally inflict pain to get her breathing again.  By 6:50 or, as my mom says, 7, when Barbara called back, things had gotten so much worse. Her blood pressure was bottoming out. Her pulse had slowed significantly. The CO2 levels in her blood had gone up. She was going to the neuro intensive care unit. Basically, she was dying. And Aunt Barbara needed my mom there to make end of life decisions with her.    So mom woke us up. Sort of. In case you didn’t already figure it out. I woke up when the call at 6:50 came. And part of how I know is that my pulse started going into overdrive before mom got me up to go to the hospital.  If you think I’m fixating on weird things like my pulse during a scary phone call because I’m grieving, then you’re wrong.  One, I’m focusing on weird things because I am weird.  Two, Nana ended up stabilizing by the time we got there. Aunt Barbara was so apologetic for getting everyone10 to the hospital when Nana ended up being okay. But I’m glad she called. Not just because being there was important because Nana was so sick & we love her.11 It was important that she called because I know Aunt Barbara needed our support. That’s a big deal. Knowing when you need others to help is a big deal for anyone. A lot of people think that they can handle everything on their own, but sometimes the real strength of a person is shown in their admission that they need someone to back them up or hold their hand or make them laugh.  Nana got moved back to her old room the next day. She went to the pulmonary service after that. And now she’s doing rehab at a nursing home for a few weeks. She has a long way to go before she can be on her own again. And she’s on oxygen at the nursing home now.12 But she’s doing so much better now and that’s what matters.  After trying to send her home despite her blood pressure being extraordinarily low—80/34—and the whole fact that she was unable to even sit up. ↩No shit, Sherlock. ↩And these guys are so skilled that they sent an elderly patient with an extremely unstable blood pressure on a 44 mile/49 minute rural ambulance service ride. It’s a wonder that anyone in Marshall County is still alive. ↩Shockingly. ↩Neuro. ↩Three. She eventually got a PICC line. ↩Her whole chest was deep purple. ↩Apparently, when they removed her breathing tube from surgery, it tore up some tissue in her mouth/throat. ↩Bad veins. Bad skin. Bad joints. ↩Eric, Eileen, Deb, Jimmy, Danny, mom, dad, me. ↩That’s super important, though. ↩We don’t know if that will last. ↩

Breathe Again…Please



I only had the chance to go for one walk today. My family was about an hour late on going to the grocery store, so by the time I recovered from the first walk it was dark outside. Aside from the whole “it’s not safe for women to be out alone at night” thing, the fact my phone is still some place that is else, and the fact that I have to walk past the homes of 2 actual sex offenders to walk, it would be unsafe for me to walk by myself at night because I’m just that clumsy. ((This is not news.)) I won’t be walking tomorrow because it’s my pool exercise day.1  I just hate not getting in all the exercise I can physically handle. Basically it’s the same competitive drive that led to my muscle injury a week and a half ago.  Photo via Visualhunt.com Doing both on the same day worsens my connective tissue issues & might trigger my fibromyalgia, which will limit future exercise. ↩

In Case of Darkness 


I don’t run. I can’t run. I shouldn’t run. I have asthma, Ehlers-Danlos, chondromalacia, arthritis, a murmur, & tachycardia. Running, even jogging, isn’t recommended for me. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. A more accurate statement would be: pretty much any doctor, physical therapist, or other medical professional would rather I be murdered than have me running or jogging. The same goes for how my parents feel about it & how my body feels about this. So I don’t run.  Except I did.  This afternoon.   Because I’m a lot more competitive than I usually will admit to being, I decided I wanted to beat my time from my walk earlier in the afternoon.1 I decided it would be totally safe to jog a total of three or four feet. No big deal, right? Anyone can do that.  I. Was. Wrong.  I didn’t fall. I’m pretty sure I didn’t tear anything. I didn’t stroke out or have a heart attack or an asthma attack. My knee is a little bit swollen & red. It’s not really sore or anything. Just some overuse. I’ll take the day off from walking tomorrow or I’ll do some short walks—something that will let me recover.  I need to remember that I have to be careful with my body, even when I’m feeling super-competitive.  And I totally did. ↩

Jog, Janet, Jog



Well, I’ve gone to the Wellness Center twice in the last week. Last Thursday was the first time. Today was the second. I’d hoped that I could go Monday or Tuesday & Thursday or Friday of this week, but Monday wasn’t doable12 and yesterday was supposed to bring storms during the Independent Exercise time.3  Technically, today wasn’t doable in the Indepedent Exercise period either. I went during the 3 Lane Swimming/Independent Exercise slot. During that time, three lanes are devoted to lap swimmers & one to people doing independent exercise. Well, they’re supposed to be. There were lap swimmers in all four lanes. Having to dodge them & getting splashed as they went past was just so fun.4  Of course, I had even less of the lane than any other exercising/swimming folks because I can’t swim. I really need to figure out how that works. You would think I would have figured it out during all of my swimming lessons as a child.5 All I learned was how to float.6 Anyway, I went and I exercised, so now I can look upon people who didn’t with haughty derision.7 I don’t know why. ↩Also, it’s totes cool to use the term “doable” when talking about your schedule. When talking about another human being, it’s definitely not okay.  ↩The storms decided to sleep in or something because they didn’t get to us until pretty late on Tuesday. And most of those storms were in South Alabama & along the Gulf Coast. I’m sure many have seen the trio of waterspouts that hit Louisiana & the building where all that was left was a set of brick steps & a leafless tree. ↩If you can’t tell I was being sarcastic, you need to leave. ↩No, really. I took so many swimming lessons in my childhood. I never caught on when it came to actually swimming. ↩I kick ass when it comes to floating and one teacher said that floating is a better safety technique. 🤘🏻 ↩Isn’t that the only real benefit to exercise? No? Dammit. ↩

Jumping Underwater 


Today, after dealing with the mess that was left in my mentions thanks to you know who,1 I had to go to my first physical therapy session. Well, not exactly my first. It’s the first one since this round started.2 And I had a new physical therapist…again. Including the PT and PTA that regularly work in the pool, I’ve had six physical therapists since the summer of 2014. For the most part, we just did things that I’ve already done. And, yeah, that stuff hurt like it usually does. It was also difficult like it usually is. But the new physical therapist introduced a couple of new things. Those things–one in particular–were a little too much for me. The first thing she added to my routine was a squat with my back against the wall. She wanted me to have my knees right over my toes and to squeeze a ball between my knees while I was doing this. Just getting into that position was too much for me. My knee started to go. I had to grab the corner of the wall & push myself up quickly to remain standing. We tried that move in a few different ways before finding one that didn’t completely do me in, but the instability and the pain just seemed to get worse after that. After the squat, she had me do weightlifting/resistance training, which is pretty much contraindicated for hypermobility patients. And she had me doing steps, which always causes problems. I think that on Friday I’ll be sure to tell her if certain activities are too much for my joints. I realized once I got home that some of the issues I was having by the end of the session were from my not speaking up. The therapist realized the squat issue because I spoke up, but I didn’t tell her about the hypermobility problem.3 But, if my knee starts to go out again during the physical therapy, I may need to give in and go back to the orthopedist. The physical therapist that did my evaluation did tell me that if it started to lock up or collapse on me that I needed to schedule an ortho appointment ASAP and basically demand surgery for it. She would probably say to go ahead and do it after today’s appointment, but I’m afraid that that might be rushing it.4 Anyway, I’m about to go eat some dinner and ice my knee. I can’t take any more pain medicine unless I want to be up when the sun starts to rise tomorrow morning. He’s also at least partly responsible for doubling my typical visitor count. ↩The appointment that I went to the other day was also physical therapy, but it wasn’t exactly a regular PT session. It was measurements and evaluations. ↩I assumed it was in my chart, but she kept commenting on my flexibility, so it’s possible that it wasn’t. I told the evaluating physical therapist that I was hypermobile. The other physical therapists who have worked with me also knew that I was hypermobile, so believing she knew should have been a safe assumption. ↩Oh, look. I’m trivializing a legit health issue. ↩

Another Day, Another PT