Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Orthopedics Adventure!

I'm not new to Orthopedics...I've certainly had my fair share of the lovely study of bones and their connecting ligaments, tendons, etc. But this was definitely my first rodeo when dealing with a knee issue so I was in uncharted territory and not really sure what to expect. I went through a wrist injury several years back and let's just say that I didn't have the best experience with the lovely ortho folks. My injury was unusual and it was one that they really didn't understand, so it was a super frustrating experience to say the least. I was eventually referred to a hand and wrist specialist and he got me fixed up with a little fusion and a bone graft in no time at all. I can actually sing the song like this now: My hip bone is connected to my WRIST bone! hahaha - I'm so clever. ;-) I also got to deal with it again when my hubby had an accident that required spinal fusion on five levels (thankfully he was already hospitalized and got a specialist assigned right away that was a totally arrogant a$$, but he knew his stuff so I guess it's okay?). We recently had to go back to Ortho to see if there would be any benefit in removing his hardware and it was kind of hilarious because the doc walks in and pulls up hubby's scans from the disk and literally could NOT get us out of his office fast enough. He wanted NOTHING to do with the amount of hardware in my hubby's back! LOL So off to a specialist we went yet again. On top of all of that - I had two kids with three broken wrists...yep one of those two decided to break each wrist at separate times. So to say I know my way around the Ortho offices would be an understatement. But that didn't alleviate the nervousness of going in for my knee.

I knew ahead of time that there were a couple things I had very clear expectations of:

  1. That the doctor would do a thorough range-of-motion exam and not just go off of the x-rays that were taken almost 4 weeks ago now.
  2. That I would be referred for additional testing of either MRI or ultrasound as I know 100% that an x-ray only tells a small piece of the story. If there is tendon/ligament/cartilage damage, sometimes it will not show on an x-ray.
I also knew ahead of time that there was one thing I would absolutely NOT accept:
  • The doctor blowing me off or telling me my knee only hurts because of age or weight.
I even went so far as to warn a few people that if I didn't come in to work it was probably because I was waiting to be bailed out of the pokey because I went bat-chit crazy on them if they said anything remotely close to that bullet point above. I kid, but only a little bit. hahaha

So I showed up right on time with my referral and x-ray report in hand. The x-ray report noted that I had a small bone spur near the quad and a moderate bone spur in the patellar region. I also had an 8mm calcification protruding over the patellar ligament that indicated chronic calcific tendinitis. On their own, not necessarily something that would cause the amounts of pain and swelling that I've had. After sitting around in the waiting room, I finally got called back and the medical assistant did a verbal history of my issues. Not long after the doctor came in and went through it again. Then - THANK YOU - he did a full range-of-motion exam! Gold Star #1 for the doctor!

So what did that consist of? He started by having me stand up with both feet planted firmly on the ground while holding onto a counter, then I pivoted in each direction noting if, and where, I felt any pain. I did feel some below the knee during that exercise, more when pivoting to the right then the left. Then I raised up on tippy toes which hurt a little bit, but then it was raising up on my heels - uh OUCH! I think we sat down then and he placed resistance on my leg while asking me to push in multiple directions - up, down, each side, etc.

End result was that he felt we needed to get an MRI (Gold Star #2 - my expectations were fully met!) to get the full picture, although he really didn't offer up what might be the problem. I did have to push a little bit to get his ideas of what it might be and then he mentioned meniscus tear. That's exactly what I had self diagnosed myself with! So I was rather pleased with my Google research skills...hahaha. So we are now waiting on the referral for the MRI and then getting in there STAT prior to my follow-up appointment on February 13. 

So even though I didn't really leave with any answers or relief from the pain, I did get all my (good) expectations met. And even though he noted that our joints begin to deteriorate in our 30's I didn't feel like he was brushing off my issues because of age. In the meantime the doctor says I can continue to "use but not abuse" my leg and to keep taking the ibuprofen and using RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. So to that I say "ah darn, guess somebody else is going to have to do the dishes, mop the floors and do all the cooking/cleaning for Super Bowl this weekend". *Insert sad face here*...NOT! 

And because I was such a good girl at the doctor's, I treated myself to a Juice It Up smoothie on my way home!

All in all, I think it was a successful visit and I'm still holding onto hope that whatever is wrong with my knee will be fixable in the near future and that I'll be back up and running in no time! I'll keep ya updated...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Holding On...Barely

(Side note: I really hate borrowing images from the web because I'm always worried that somehow it is illegal and I've just broken a rule...but if I had taken an actual picture from outside the gym last night while staring in longingly, well, I just might have gotten myself thrown in the pokey! So I've possibly borrowed a copyrighted image, but at least I gave you the source so I'm hoping that's a valid defense if needed. hehe)

Okay, so I stopped off at our local farmer's-type market last night for a bell pepper - rang out at a whopping $.34! - which just happens to be next door to a gym that just recently opened. And wouldn't you know that the treadmills are all right there by the windows so I could see all the people running and walking away? I had to fight tears because even though I have not once - nope not a single time EVER - run on a treadmill, I would have given just about anything to be one of those people at that moment.

I miss running so. freaking. badly. I miss the sound of footfalls on pavement. I miss the cooling breeze generated by forward motion. I miss the glistening sweat after a good run. I miss lacing up running shoes. I miss energy gels and chews. I miss needing a hydration pack. I miss seeing my city while I buzz by on my own two feet. I miss it all. I miss the bad runs, I miss the good runs and I miss the somewhere in between runs.

I received an iTunes gift card for Christmas and I refuse to use it until I can download a bunch of new workout tunes...there's not an expiration date on those things, right?

I woke up this morning and for no real reason I was simply exhausted. Like bone-weary, dead-tired, exhausted. My only explanation is that my body is just weary from being in constant pain. So much of my energy is being focused to my throbbing, achy knee that there just isn't much left in the tank.

I'm holding on to hope with everything I have that this is going to come to an end soon, but I'm at the end of the rope at the moment and my hands are getting slippery. (Another side note: I wanted to find an image of being at the end of the rope and I just could NOT resist this one...because if I'm at the end of my rope, well then  hell YEAH I want it to be with the most gloriously amazingly beautiful David Beckham in his underwear! I'll hang on to the end of THAT rope...yep, yep)

David Beckham: At The End Of His Rope
Yeah...just take a moment with that picture because you know I did.

Okay, where was I??? Oh yes - I miss running with every single fiber of my being. It hurts my heart to see posts on Facebook and to read blogs about amazing races and training runs and all that jazz. It just literally breaks my heart. I swear, I feel like I just got broken up with! It's ridiculous I tell ya! Absolutely ridiculous!!!

Well, only about 5 days until the visit with the Ortho. It couldn't come soon enough...until then, I'll keep hanging on to that little sliver of sunshine that someday I will be running again. If Adrian Peterson of my beloved Vikings could come back after blowing out his ACL and MCL and have one of the most Ah-FREAKING-mazing years ever, then there is still hope for little ol' me.

My inspiration to heal:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Me and 40 - We Just Don't Get Along!

I turned the BIG 4-0 in May 2012 and my attitude at the time was that I was perfectly happy turning that corner. That I was in the best shape of my adult life, that I was a fine wine that was getting better with age, and that age was simply a number that didn't dictate who I was.

Well, let's just say that apparently my body had a different idea of what it means to be forty!!!

Exhibit #1
I swear that as soon as I turned the calendar on May 26 that my eyelashes decided to never cooperate again. Some curl a ridiculous amount all on their own, while there are at least one or two that will not curl even with the help of an eyelash curler...they just stick straight out - or worse - sideways.

Exhibit #2
I have learned to deal with the gray hairs. Well, perhaps I should say that my tweezers have learned how to deal with them and it's usually by just ripping that little baby out. Yeah, yeah, yeah - I've heard the old wives tales about not pulling your grays because two will sprout in its place, but just like most of those old wives tales I don't believe it. However, this isn't about the gray hair because, well, I have L'oreal to help me with that! This is about the rest of my crazy hair. I swear I turned 40 and it decided to have a life of its own...and it decided that life was going to be KAH-RAZY because now it is living la vida loca with my eyelashes. Going in all kinds of strange directions, some curling, some straight. There is no rhyme or reason and it definitely does not like to listen to the straightening iron, the blow dryer, or all the hair products that promise less frizz and a sleek, shiny 'do.

Exhibit #3
My first visit to the Pancake Factory (AKA Mammograms for life). UGH. Enough said.

Exhibit #4
I took some labs the other day and where I've ALWAYS gotten the lovely call back that says everything looks great; You're as healthy as a horse! This time I get: Your vitamin D level (I LIVE IN SUNNY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!) is low so start taking a daily multivitamin. Are you experiencing any symptoms of a UTI (I don't think so...but what do I know - I've never had one before!)? A hormone that tells the health of your heart is elevated so we're sending you to a Cardiologist (HEART PROBLEMS TOO!?!?) and you have tendinits in your knee to go with that lovely bone spur so you might need additional injections or referral to ortho (more on that in a moment). Like wow...just wow.

Exhibit #5
My body is fallin' apart! I went from being able to do anything I wanted just a couple short months ago, to now limping everywhere I go. I can barely go up and down the stairs without crying and looking like a crab attempting to scramble up a steep rock. All I can say is thank God for banisters! It's not even about not being able to run anymore...I just want to be able to walk without pain at this point! I want to be able to dance, ride a bike, hike - well, I want to be able to do whatever I want like I could a short couple months ago. It's crazy to think that I was training for a half marathon and now I'm afraid to even walk across campus because I know it's going to be a long, slow journey. To say it is frustrating is quite simply a massive understatement. Words cannot even begin to describe this.

So even though me and Forty started off on pretty good terms, for some reason he (I'm calling my Forty a boy just because, there's no real rhyme or reason - so don't get offended hahaha) decided that we just weren't going to get along. I'm hoping that in the very near future I can convince him otherwise. Perhaps I'll win him over with my overwhelming positive vibes and fortuitousness! I'll certainly keep trying...but at the very least, I'm planning on beating him into submission if he doesn't cooperate on his own. ;-)

Okay, so on the knee front - as I mentioned in Exhibit #4 the x-rays I took on January 4 came back as tendinitis and a bone spur on my knee. My primary care doc prescribed rest, ice and elevation but since I've basically been doing that since Christmas Eve and it's only gotten worse, I wasn't content to just leave it at that and insisted on an MRI to rule out any other issues since x-rays only tell part of the story. So I received the referral and will be seeing the ortho doc (well, the PA anyways) on January 30. I'm trying to keep my expectations in check for that appointment as there are certain things that I'm fully expecting from that appointment and if I don't get them I'll probably have a meltdown because I don't have much faith in the ortho folks that are part of my medical group. It's too much to go into at the moment, but just know that I already have fought them tooth and nail previously and thankfully I won that round when they referred me to a specialist that fixed me right up. So in the meantime I'm dealing with constant swelling, pain and discomfort - my knee looks like a melon ready to burst and I'm thinking that's a pretty good sign that even if all of this IS because of a bone spur and/or tendinitis - it's a pretty darn bad case of it and one that needs to be resolved.  I'm definitely not content to just take this as the status quo for being forty.

On a completely different note: today is the first day of the semester at the college where I work and as much as I don't want to share the campus with pesky students (hahaha - kidding of course!) the energy and enthusiasm they bring to learning is always exciting and energizing!