Manic Depression

February 27, 2008

Yesterday’s appointment with the orthopedic surgeon was a major disappointment. According to the bone doctor, the pain in my forearm/wrist/hand is not related to my shoulder problems. It could have something to do with my neck. However, he is leaning more towards Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as a diagnosis.

The really bad news is that I have to go for EMG and Nerve Conduction Studies. After my last excruciatingly painful experience with this test, I swore that I would never submit to such torture again. Now it appears that I have no choice. Actually, I do have a choice – go for the EMG or do nothing.

In reference to the shoulder problems, Dr. Bones’ recommendation was – drum roll, please – “Wait and see if it goes away. ” I’ve been doing that since last May! Nine months isn’t long enough to wait?? If I wasn’t on the verge of tears, I would have laughed.

I told the doctor that, since conservative treatment hadn’t helped, my rheumatologist referred me to his group because they have a reputation for being aggressive. I told him that just once I would like a medical professional to offer me a clear treatment plan with a good chance for a positive outcome. Just once, I would like to see light at the end of this dark tunnel of constant pain.

Dr. Bones didn’t know what to say to that, so he said nothing. I left his office with a very heavy heart and the slumped shoulders of defeat. Next, I just might need to be treated for depression because that’s where I’m headed…

Song of the Day: Manic Depression by Jimi Hendrix

More Than I Bargained For

February 26, 2008

I saw my primary care physician on an emergency basis yesterday (the shoulder pain has moved down my arm into my hand). He gave me a referral to an orthopedic group – one I was employed by over twenty years ago. I was able to get an appointment with one of their doctors for this morning.

On Thursday, I have to go for an ultrasound because, apparently, my thyroid is enlarged. Doc PCP said if it turns out to be a nodule, I will have to go for a needle biopsy. Geez, I certainly got more than I bargained for.

On a lighter note, check out these hilarious clips Stefani brought to my attention. *Warning: adult content.

Song of the Day: More Than We Bargained For by Bon Jovi

Snow Angels

February 24, 2008

I didn’t see Sunshyn’s comment about praying for angels until I had already experienced two miraculous visitations. The first took place after I had just gone out to shovel. I hadn’t gotten very far when a car pulled over and parked in front of my house. I didn’t think anything of it until the driver opened his trunk, grabbed a shovel, and, without saying a word, set to work clearing the mess at the end of my driveway (courtesy of the snow plows). I was thunderstruck.

I walked over to express my appreciation, and to tell him how much his help meant to me because of my physical problems. He shooed me back in the house, saying he would finish the job and no thanks were necessary. He was happy to be of assistance. Imagine that.

Shortly afterwards, my cousin called to ask if I wanted to go to the movies. I was hesitant at first, because it had been my plan to go back to bed, but then I decided that getting out might do me some good.

While I was waiting for my cousin to pick me up, my mother arrived unexpectedly. She announced that she was there to shovel my driveway. I tried to talk her out of it, but she would not be deterred, heavy ice buildup notwithstanding.

I have a large driveway, and my mother was not able to do the whole thing, but what she did do amazed me. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got home later in the evening and saw that, not only had much of the snow been cleared, but the ice, as well. I am so grateful.

I’m really glad I agreed to go to the movies, by the way. Lars and the Real Girl is a delightful gem of a film. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

My cousin and I went to get something to eat after the movie. When we left the restaurant, I looked at the time and was surprised to discover that we had been in there for three hours. We did a lot of talking and laughing, and, of course, eating. I had a nice day.

It was late by the time I got home, and I was exhausted. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the good night’s sleep I was hoping for, thanks to a sharp, stabbing pain in my shoulder. At times, it was so bad I really thought a trip to the Emergency Room would be in the cards for today. This morning, however, the pain is more endurable. Still, I will have to see my primary care physician sometime soon to get a referral to an orthopedic surgeon.

Although the pain is more tolerable at this point, the fatigue is another story. I’m so tired I can’t think straight. Even more than yesterday, I wish I could spend the day in bed, but I can’t. I have to go to a wake for the father of my cousin’s wife. They came from Massachusetts for my brother’s calling hours, so I feel the need to put in an appearance.

I do have some time before then, though. The 22 lb. Butterball turkey I bought at Sam’s club for 49 cents a pound is in the oven. (Lifting that sucker didn’t do my back and shoulder any good. With luck, Daniel will be home by the time it’s ready to come out.) The dogs have been fed and walked. Maybe I can get some more sleep before I have to get ready to go out… It’s worth a try, at any rate.

Song of the Day: Snow Angels by Kotoko

Lift that shovel, I should say. And lift it I did. Three times yesterday, and I’ll be going out for my fourth shoveling session as soon as this morning’s coffee kicks in.

At 6:00 pm, there were accumulations of eight inches. By the time I went up to bed with my book (Water For Elephants), it was snowing pretty hard again. Hence, the need to clear the sidewalks yet once more this morning.

During my third shoveling expedition yesterday, while fighting tears of exhaustion and pain (not only in my back, but my neck and right shoulder/arm, as well), I kept thinking, “This cannot happen again. Other arrangements need to be made.”

Some of you asked about my neighbors. Unfortunately, the people on my block aren’t very neighborly – at least not when it comes to shoveling. Nobody helps anybody.

Actually, that’s not quite true. One of the times I was out there yesterday, I shoveled the sidewalk of the elderly woman who lives next door. She pays someone to do it, but he doesn’t get there until evening, or sometimes the next day.

Yes, I’m crazy, and no, I won’t be doing that again, even though I wish I could. Like Jim, I was raised with the belief that shoveling for elderly neighbors is the right thing to do.

I would like to mention that I had an unexpected (and much appreciated) offer of assistance from my dear friend, LA. When I came in from my first round of shoveling yesterday morning, there was a message on my answering machine. LA had called to let me know that, if I still needed help, she and Mick would come over to shovel me out today.

For the record – they live over 30 miles away, on the other side of the river. I was so touched, I almost wept with gratitude. Now that’s a true friend. Thank you, sweetie. Your thoughtfulness means the world to me.

Okay, the coffee has worked its wonders, so I’d better get out there and finish the job before the aches and pains get too overwhelming. Then I’m going back to bed.

Song of the Day: Ol’ Man River by Paul Robeson

My grandmother is holding up as well as can be expected after her sister’s death. Still, my heart goes out to her. I know how much it hurts to lose a sibling.

My great-aunt has been cremated, and there aren’t going to be any calling hours or services. I’m glad for that. My 96 year old grandmother is definitely not up to a trip to New Jersey.

Schools are closed today, and, again, the timing couldn’t be better. I haven’t been sleeping well, and am deeply exhausted. It’s a relief to know that I can go back to bed and try to catch up on some zees.

There is one thing that’s weighing heavily on my mind, though. Homeowners are required to clear their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snowfall. Daniel is in Canada. Neither of my daughters lives home at present. I’m the only one here.

The thought of lifting a shovel while I am experiencing this kind of pain is not a happy one. If I had some cash, I’d pay a kid to do it, but I don’t so I can’t.

Oh well, I’ll think about that later. For now, I’m going back to bed.

Song of the Day: Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow by Frank Zappa

Tagged and Bagged

February 21, 2008

I was tagged by our favorite mad cheese maker, Goat Barn Witch.

The challenge:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence and write it down.

4. Add three more sentences of your own.

5. Tag five people & post a comment here once you post it to your blog, so
I can come see.

The book I reached for, by the way, is Emma, by Jane Austen.

Mr. Elton then turned back to accompany them.

When he reached the two men, Mr. Elton said, “After the Loving, Mr. Engelbert and Mr. Elvis, I urge you to check out of Heartbreak Hotel and say Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Then, along with The Madman Across the Water, mount Les Bicyclettes de Belsize and pedal onward into the bright lights of the city that never sleeps.  Viva Las Vegas!

I’m not going to tag anybody, but if you do it, let me know in the comment section.

In other news, I had an appointment with my rheumatologist yesterday. I told her that the pain in my right shoulder blade is driving me to distraction. That constant throbbing ache, (along with the pain in my lower back ) really is sucking the life out of me. Last evening, I was in such agony, I could barely speak to Daniel when he called from Canada. (His mother will be celebrating her birthday this weekend, so he decided this would be a good time to take a vacation and visit his family.)

Anyway, Dr. Rheumatologist wants me to go for an x-ray of my right scapula. She also recommended that I see another Orthopedic Surgeon for my shoulder problems (fluid, cyst, bone spur and tear of the rotator cuff) – one with a more aggressive approach than the last orthopod I saw, who wanted to go the conservative route (physical therapy). That didn’t work out so well for me, so I will give a second opinion some thought.

My father just called to tell me that my grandmother’s sister died. I’m outta here.

Song of the Day: I’m Still Standing (barely) by Elton John

Valentine’s Day 2008

February 15, 2008

I don’t like to go out to dinner on Valentine’s Day. It has been my experience that the restaurants are too crowded, the service is too slow, and the food is mediocre. That being said, I should also mention that I prefer to not have to cook on Valentine’s Day (or any other day, for that matter. Honestly, I no longer take any pleasure in cooking. I’ve slaved over hot stoves for 40 years, and I’m sick of it.).

We decided to do the next best thing and order takeout. Rebecca’s boyfriend had to work until midnight (he’s a manager at a restaurant), so I invited her to join us for dinner. I called to place the order at 5:00 pm, and was told that the food would be ready for pickup in 40 minutes.

When Rebecca arrived at the restaurant, it became apparent that there had been a mix-up. Our food was at that moment being delivered to a retirement community. The reason for that, if you can believe it, was because I had given Rebecca’s name (since she would picking the food up), and her last name is the same as the name of the retirement community. Unbelievable.

Rebecca tried to convince the guy at the restaurant that he should prepare new meals, but he wouldn’t budge. He said that he would contact the driver and have him deliver the food to our house. The fact that the driver wasn’t answering his phone didn’t seem to matter. The restaurant dude figured that the driver would contact the restaurant once the mistake was discovered. Despite Rebecca’s protestations, the restaurant employee assured her that our food would arrive hot. Yeah, right.

I was furious when I heard about what was going on, and called the restaurant to complain. The young man who answers the phone said the driver was on his way to my house. My angry remarks about this being unacceptable fell on deaf ears. I was too hungry to push the issue.

Twenty minutes later, I called back to say that we were still waiting for the delivery (it should have only taken five minutes to get to my house from the retirement community). I pointed out that our food had been in transit for over an hour, and there was now no question of it arriving hot. The restaurant employee apologized and said, “If this had happened to me, I’d be even more upset than you are.” Fat lot of good that did me.

He told me that when the driver arrived, I should just take the salads (to stave off the hunger pains, I guess), and the restaurant would send fresh meals. I did as instructed, and told the driver to inform the people back at the restaurant that I expected to at least get free desserts out of this fiasco.

Our food finally arrived at 7:05. There were no free desserts, and nothing was taken off the bill to compensate for the inconvenience their error caused us. I’ll be sending them a letter voicing my displeasure. Unfortunately, they make the best penne ala vodka in town, so I doubt that I’ll be able to boycott this restaurant in the future. Sigh.

That negative experience notwithstanding, it was a very nice Valentine’s Day. Daniel gave me a box of truffles, and this pretty bouquet of flowers.

I’m off today (we have an extra long President’s Day weekend), but I still have to hurry up and get ready to go out. My Friend and I are going to breakfast, and then heading for Sam’s Club. See you later!

Song of the Day: My Funny Valentine as sung by my pal, Bradford Anderson

Snow Day

February 13, 2008

Yesssss! We have a snow day today! Actually, it’s a sleet day. This hasn’t been a very good winter for snow. That would probably make most of you rejoice, but me? I’m a blizzard fan. Really. We haven’t had nearly enough snow for my liking this year.

Anyway, I’m off today. If my back didn’t hurt so much, I’d jump for joy. I don’t know how I would have gotten through the day if I had to go to work. Seriously folks, I am in agony. The pain feels like back labor.

Thanks to the weather, I can go back to bed. And that’s where I’m going to stay for much of the day. Have a good one.

Song of the Day: Snow Day by Lisa Loeb

Quality of Life

February 9, 2008

Thank you for the comments attached to my last entry. I always look forward to hearing your thoughts, and I continue to be grateful for your support and encouragement.

And, Penny? Thanks for making me laugh out loud. It never occurred to me that Dr. Spine Specialist could be the Text Message Killer! Ha ha!

As for your concerns (and mine), one of the doctors who advised me against the procedure did tell me that the injections themselves are not always “benign.” That scared me. Also, just as Sunshyn knows someone who was done more harm than good by the injections, so do I. Fortunately, the resulting disability in this case was temporary.  On the other hand, I should also point out that I know quite a few people who were helped by the injections.  It’s a tough call to make.

I voiced my fears to Dr. Spine Specialist, but he dismissed them and declared that most people are helped by the injections. For the record, I had those injections in the cervical spine years ago (yes, LeAnn, it’s an uncomfortable procedure), but they did not help me. I guess when it comes to medical issues (and other things), I can’t be counted among those who fall into the category “most people.” Still, it is possible that the lumbar injections might help, even though the cervical injections did not.

I have given this a lot of thought, weighing the pros and cons, and the bottom line is – I can’t go on this way much longer. I have to find some relief, even if that means taking some risks.

I went through two natural childbirths like a champ. I’ve done very well in the pain department after several surgeries. I once walked on a broken leg. Those things lead me to believe that I don’t have such a low tolerance for pain. It’s unremitting pain that does me in. It chips away at my reserves of strength and endurance, not to mention my psyche.

So, yes, there are risks to be considered, but quality of life needs to be considered, as well.

Song of the Day: Quality by Paul Simon

In between text messaging his wife as he sat across from me (I kid you not), Dr. Spine Specialist strongly recommended that I go to a pain management doctor for lumbar injections. I explained that the reason I hadn’t gone for the injections back when they were authorized was because two other doctors had advised against the procedure. It was their opinion that the injections wouldn’t help me.

Dr. Spine Specialist scoffed, and said that if the injections don’t provide pain relief, he will buy me a latte.

Despite the fact that I don’t drink lattes, I have to give the doc major props for creativity. This is the first time a doctor has ever bribed me into going for treatment. I guess it’s worth a shot (pun intended).

Song of the Day: Needle and the Damage Done by Neil Young