Health Updates #2
So, I figured since my first “updates” blog was getting a bit congested, and since it’s a new year with new goals, I may as well start a fresh new blog. Let’s hope it’s the start of good things to come for me and my health issues.
1/7/09 – Last week, I had the root canal started. Then I spent the better part of the week in pain: either a pounding, gotta-take-Vicodin-and-forget-about-life pain, or just a throbbing letting-me-know-it’s-there pain. And if that weren’t bad enough, the meds that were stuffed into the root were leaking out, causing a bad taste in my mouth, similar to what you’d find if you were chewing on a Band-Aid. Yuck! Ruined the taste of food for me for the week. So, today I went back to have the root canal finished. Once again I was numbed, only this time I requested my Husband be there so I could render his hand unusable for about an hour. LOL The doc was very caring and very gentle, and I’ve decided I’m keeping him as my dentist for good. (If anyone local wants a referral, let me know!) So, the root was cleaned out and a silver filling put in. Now we play the waiting game with my insurance again, for pre-approval for a crown. And since my insurance only allows one full mouth x-ray every 5 years, I have to get my former dentist (the one I was fighting with) to forward the x-ray they took. Should be fun! (not) And last but not least, while I was there – and numb – I had another tooth fixed. So now there’s nothing left to fix on the bottom left side of my mouth! Woohoo! A couple more fillings here and there on other teeth, and I can finally move on to getting my ankles operated on. I can hardly wait!
2/11/09 – Went to the family doc’s, for a regular check up. Good thing, too, ’cause I’ve been sick as a dog for a couple of days. I was told that my cholesterol was a bit high, but nothing terrible. She just wants me to change my diet and get more exercise. Easier said than done. She also wants me to see a neurologist for both the Meniere’s and the migraines, since the last time was a few years ago. I suspect they’ll want another MRI done. In addition, she wants me to see an ophthalmologist to rule out any problems behind my eyes, and because my vision has been getting worse. Old age, I say! I also got a referral for the podiatrist again, so I can get this surgery scheduled on my ankles. She gave me a prescription for an anti-depressant, due to the stress I’ve been under lately and because of the severe insomnia and some mood shifts. No problem, I’ve been down this road before. I just hope it works, without the side effects of the others I’ve tried. And last but not least, because my sinuses are backed up, and my ears are clogged (sounds like a bowl of Rice Crispies in there), she put me on daily prescription of Claritin, and wants me to take it through the spring. I took my first dose today, and lemme tell ya, I’m draining like a faucet! I feel like a regular snot factory. Gross, I know … sorry!
3/17 & 3/25/09 – After about 6 weeks of dealing with bronchitis (and still have a latent cough), I was finally healthy enough to make my appointments. I saw the dentist on the 17th, and had a tooth readied for another crown. Nothing too bad: a small needle just to numb the gums and some filing down of the tooth. Now I have a temporary crown, and am waiting for the permanent to be made and sent (10 days, they said). Today, the 25th, I saw the Ophthalmologist. That was an eye-opener, pardon the pun. First, they checked my vision. I was right, it’s gotten worse since the last time I was checked. I used to be far-sighted with astigmatism. Now, apparently I’m still far-sighted, still have astigmatism, but when I try to read small print, I can’t. So, I now have to wear bi-focals. Ugh, that totally sucks! But at least I’ll be able to read my computer screen without it being 12 inches from my face! LOL Unfortunately, that’s not the worst of the news. I was informed that I have cataracts in both of my eyes, with the left eye being worse than the right. The doc said it will probably be about 10 years or so before I have to worry about having them removed, it’s not that bad … but it’s not good either, for someone who isn’t even 40 yet! The good news is: there’s nothing about my eyes that’s causing the Migraines. I go to get my new glasses tomorrow, after the trip to the Neurologist. I’ll post pics when I have them.
3/26/09 – My new glasses are going to have to wait. I was at the Neurologist today, and was there about an hour longer than expected, and missed my appointment for the glasses. Oh well, next week. (update: on 3/30 I picked out my new frames, found out that I couldn’t afford the “no-line” for the bifocals, nor could I afford the transition lenses. I did, however, get the “anti-glare.) But the big news is my appointment today with the Neurologist! It’s so big and important, I’ve put it in a separate blog.
4/1/09 – Saw my Podiatrist today. Nothing “new” with my feet, at least no additional pain. But he prescribed me a new medication: an anti-inflammatory cream that I’m to rub on my ankles 3 times a day. I’ll continue that until my surgery on my right foot, which we’ve scheduled for May 8th (then I’ll just use it on my other foot). Now I have to get my Neurologist to speed up the process for my sleep study and MRI. I just can’t wait another couple of months for the surgery, I’m in too much pain. After that appointment, I went to get blood drawn for labs. Not fun. I hate needles. I did end up with a very experienced “stick” today, so that was good; I barely felt the needle! Last but not least, now that I’ve had the bloodwork done, I can start taking yet another new medicine. The Neurologist prescribed magnesium, so I’ll be taking 2 more pills a day (500mg each). Happy happy joy joy. I’m now up to 8 pills a day (5 different prescriptions), including a multivitamin, plus the occasional Advil for the frequent headaches, plus 1/2 a Vicodin about 3x a month for the foot pain, and a 3x daily cream for my feet. This is getting to the point of ridiculous. I spend my day making sure I space my meds out so nothing conflicts, and my daily pill case can’t hold much more. *sigh*
4/16/09 – The past 2 weeks have been a blur of appointments. I saw my Podiatrist again, to fill out all the necessary paperwork for my surgery. I also found out that the anti-inflammatory gel he prescribed isn’t covered by my insurance, and I can’t afford the $40 it will cost outright. So, I just have to deal with the pain until surgery. Unfortunately, my left foot will bear the brunt of the pain after that. The doc said he doesn’t want to give me a cortisone injection in the left, because he’s afraid that if I don’t feel the pain, I might do alot more damage to it while I heal from surgery on the right. I understand that. I had my MRI done, and am waiting to hear the results of it. They sent me a CD with the images on it, but I don’t know what I’m looking at. There are a couple that are pretty funny looking, which I’ll be adding to my photo collection soon. I received my new eyeglasses, and WOW, what a difference! I didn’t realize how much I hadn’t been seeing all this time. It’s difficult getting used to the bi-focals, but I’m sure I’ll master that soon enough. Pics coming soon. I had my crown finished for my tooth, and with a tiny little bit of adjustment, it’s perfect! Now I’ll be able to chew on that side again, for the first time in a year. I had the dentist take a look at one of my front teeth, which I chipped a couple of weeks ago. He filed it down, and although it’s a bit rough, it’s not sharp anymore. I’ve been on the phone with my eye doctor’s today, about the double vision, and I’m supposed to keep a journal of when it happens. I’ve also been pestering docs to find out the results of my blood-work and MRI. Last but not least, I go to see the Pulminologist in June, as a preliminary to the sleep study. Like I said, busy busy busy! I need a break from all this medical stuff for a while.
4/23/09 – Went to my family doc to get medical clearance for my surgery. I even managed to lose 3.5 pounds since my last visit! (not sure how, but I’m grateful for any weight loss) They drew blood to run one last test before surgery. I also found out the results of my previous lab-work: everything was fine and normal, except the one that tested for any inflammation in my body, which was high. Of course it was, both of my ankles are inflamed! The results of the MRI aren’t great, but I’ll be seeing the Neurologist again after my surgery, and we’ll talk about it more extensively. Apparently, there’s a spot on the left side of my brain that they’re concerned about. I was told it could have come from a brain injury, which I didn’t understand, because I’ve never hit my head hard enough for that. She explained that a brain injury doesn’t necessarily mean it comes from an external source, but that it could have come from a ruptured blood vessel, which may be caused by a stroke (recent or not), and that they’ll have to compare it to my previous MRI to get a better idea of what it is and when it happened. It may have happened way back in 1996 when I had a TIA (mini-stroke). I’m not jumping to any conclusions just yet, I’ll just wait and see.
5/8/09 – Surgery day. I was in for surgery prep at 6:30a, out cold by 7:30a, and waking up around 10a. The surgery took twice as long as expected, and they had some trouble waking me up, but other than that, it went well. They took part of the Achilles tendon off the bone, found the broken piece (which was the size of a dime), filed down the remaining spur and reattached the tendon to the bone with pins which are supposed to dissolve on their own after some time. A “half cast” was molded to my foot and leg, to keep my toes in a downward position and the tendon in a relaxed position. That’s been a little hard on the muscle on the top of my foot, because it’s stretched. I’m sure that’ll hurt like hell once I’m allowed to move it again! I’m wrapped in ace bandages, over the cast, all the way to just under my knee. I have both a walker and a wheelchair here for my use. The first day, I thought it would be easier to use the walker … wrong! My arm muscles just aren’t strong enough for that yet. So, I’ve been puttering around the house in the wheelchair, using my left leg to move along and grabbing anything I can get ahold of with my hands to help. My left leg is getting pretty strong, but my arms, wrists and hands are feeling bruised and sprained. Getting a shower is an adventure! LOL
5/12/09 – Went for my first post-op appointment today. I was unwrapped and the cast was taken off. The doc said there was very little swelling, which is a good sign! He checked the incision through the steri-strips, said everything looked good, and sent me for another x-ray. I was told that I had to keep the cast on unless I was sitting and relaxing, but if I was to be up and around I absolutely have to keep it on. I’m trying to give my foot about an hour a day without the cast on, just to let it breath, scratch the multitude of itches (he thinks I may be slightly allergic to the iodine) and let the muscle on top of my foot relax a bit from it’s usual stretched position. I go back in a week, and we’ll see if I’m able to start moving my foot around. I won’t be allowed to bear weight for 3-4 weeks, but it’ll be nice to just move it and exercise the muscles.
5/19/09 – My 2nd post-op check up today. Everything looks good, and I’m allowed to start moving it around a bit. I’m supposed to spell out the ABC’s with my foot, to get my range of motion back. It’s working, too! I can keep it out of the cast for longer periods now, and can get my foot wet. Yay! No more trash bags to cover it in the shower! I go back in 2 weeks, and then we can discuss walking, provided I can get the range of motion back before then.
5/20/09 – I woke up today, and my back and neck were in so much pain, I just wanted to cry. Also, my left arm was numb/tingling (like it was asleep) all the way down to the tips of my fingers. It’s something that’s bothered me for about a week, but I figured it would just “go away on it’s own”. No such luck, it’s been getting worse. I broke down and got some medical attention … I saw a chiropractor. After an exam and some x-rays, he started adjusting my back. Even though my Husband cracks my back about once a week, the doc was able to get quite a lot of cracks and pops. Then, for the first time ever, I had my neck adjusted. I was a bit nervous, but after it was done, I felt great! He explained that the top of my spine was actually bent in the opposite direction than it’s supposed to … yikes! I go back next week for another adjustment.
6/1/09 – Saw my chiropractor again today (missed last week’s appt), and we discussed my x-rays and the “plan of attack” for fixing my spinal problems. Since I was only able to have my neck and upper back x-rayed (wouldn’t get accurate results for lower back, since I can’t stand on both feet yet), that’s where the focus was today. My upper back is actually in pretty good shape … only one vertebra is slightly out of place. My neck, however, is another story altogether. The angle of my neck is actually 125% from normal. To try to explain this: if you’re looking at my neck from the side (left side), the spine should be angled like the right side of the letter V; mine is angled like the LEFT side of the letter V. He said that this is an uncommon type of subluxation; something he sees in people who are bent over all day long (like teachers who are always looking down at kids, or office people who are doing desk-work most of the day). He gave me a chart that shows which parts of the spine/nerves correspond with which parts of the body. Almost all of the problems that I have had, most of my adult life, are covered on that chart. He said it may take 2 months to fix, or it may take a year to fix, or it may even not be fixable. He also pointed out the beginning of a couple of very tiny bone spurs on my spine, which we can prevent from growing by having many adjustments. Unfortunately, my insurance only covers a few adjustments a year, and nothing else. So, now I’m on a hefty payment plan to pay for the x-rays, exams and some contraption he wants me to purchase for at home traction therapy. But, it’s so important to both me and my Husband, for me to get myself healthy again, that we’re willing to do just about anything to accomplish that goal. My Dad deserves a huge thank you, for recommending that I see a chiropractor (he swears by his), so … THANKS DAD!
6/2 – 6/15/09 – It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, with something scheduled almost every day. On the 2nd, I saw my foot doc again. He gave me the ok to start putting weight on my foot! YAY! Well, it took me a couple of days to trust myself (and I guess the doc’s handy-work), but after 2 days or so, I was walking around in my Frankenstein boot, albeit with a “lift” under my heel that has 3 heights to it. It took about a week for the pins-and-needles feeling to go away. Other than that, it feels great! There’s very little pain in my right foot at all, barely a discomfort. My left foot, on the other hand, started hurting really badly once I started walking. On the 11th, I was given the ok to remove one of the layers of the “lift”, and I barely noticed a difference. On the 15th, I got a cortisone shot in my left ankle, because the pain was starting to become debilitating. The doc told me that I’m progressing A LOT faster than he expected; I’m walking around comfortably for short periods of time. I’m allowed to remove a layer of the “lift” each week until it’s gone and I’m walking completely flat again. He expects me to be out of the boot by the beginning of July. I’ve seen my chiropractor a few times for more adjustments, nothing out of the ordinary there. Even my Husband started seeing the chiropractor! And last but not least, I saw a Pulminologist on the 10th, as a preliminary to having a sleep study done. They explained what will happen during the study, and it sounds like I may not be able to sleep comfortably, if at all. Ugh! Depending on what they find, I’ll be brought back for a second study. Oh joy. My goal for the next 2 weeks is to really exercise my foot and leg muscles, so I’m capable of walking somewhat normally.
6/16 – 6/23/09 – Even with several appointments this week, it’s been pretty mundane. Primarily, visits with the chiropractor, for myself and my Son. Turns out, my Son’s broken collarbone at birth may have caused his shoulder to sit funny; we’ll know more next week, when the doc has had a chance to review his x-rays. For me, just adjustments. Today, however, I saw my family doc. It was supposed to be just a regular check-up, but turned into somewhat more than that. I had felt a lump in my breast last week, and she confirmed that it’s definitely something that needs to be looked into. I’m being sent for a diagnostic mammogram (as soon as the insurance approves it), where they’ll look at just the area where the lump is. I’ve been nervous about it, since all of my Dad’s family has had cancer of one type or another, even breast cancer (all deceased, except my father), but I was assured that if it’s in the genes, it’s rarely paternal. So far as I know, nobody on my mother’s side has had cancer. Makes me feel better, but I’m a worrier, and I know it doesn’t always have to be hereditary. Other than that, my foot is healing very nicely; I’ve even taken short walks around the house without the boot.
6/24 – 7/8/09 – Mostly chiropractor visits; he says my back and neck are really starting to loosen up, finally. I feel so much better, and don’t look like a hunchback grandma anymore. I also saw my Neurologist for a follow-up visit. Waited for close to an hour, then the visit took all of 5 minutes! Grrrrr, that really irritates me! He asked me how I was feeling (only 2 migraines in the past couple of months) and told me that there was nothing that he saw that concerned him on my MRI. I reminded him that I was told there were 2 spots that were abnormal, and he assured me there was nothing to be worried about. He’d better be right! And last, but certainly not least: I went back to the foot doc, and he said everything is healing remarkably fast. He’s amazed that I’ve been walking around the house without the boot, and that I’m not having any pain at all when I walk (well, not where the surgery was, anyway). I have full range of motion back; he’s very impressed. Normally this takes 3 – 4 months, and I’ve done it in 2. Wooohooo! Yay me! So, I’m completely done with the boot now, and I’m allowed to walk in either bare feet or sneakers. No flip-flops or sandals or backless shoes for a while. *pout* I asked if I might be able to water-ski at the end of the summer, since my Dad “downsized” his boat, and he’s not sure about that yet. I see him again in a month, and we’ll discuss it then. It’s a goal to work towards, anyway.
« Continued in my “Health Updates no. 3” blog. »