Hand Fashion

Hand Fashion

Removable, with wiggle room, and white which goes with everything.
I had a green one just like this but it didn’t last long.
The ugliest of all, but very utilitarian.

I don’t blame anyone for not being interested in the various splints and casts that can be worn connected with CMC arthroplasty – medical speak for fixing an arthritic thumb joint (although I KNOW some who aren’t interested now will be in the future… just you wait.) I mean to finish this expose for those of you who are interested.

I am now in my second month of recovery after this major reconstruction of my hand. The doctor was fairly accurate in saying I would hate her for the first month. It’s been painful, awkward, inconvenient, and at times depressing. I’ve gotten a whole different way of viewing those with this kind of handicap.

Last Thursday the second of the hard casts was removed. The pin, the one that I was sure was causing most of my pain, was removed. It had worked its way out nearly an inch farther and was lying flat under the cast. At least that made it easy to remove. I didn’t take my phone/camera with me for this procedure. I was glad not to have it when I saw what skin looks like after a month of being wrapped up with no air and no washing. Gross.

I then got fitted for a new splint. It’s plastic that softens in warm water and was molded to the inside of my thumb, wrist and arm. Thankfully, it can be removed by simply undoing Velcro strapping. It is less bulky than the casts. I can wear my long sleeved shirts and my coats again which is great because it’s gotten to be winter up here.

I wish I could say that the pain was gone. It’s not, but the pain pills are. Ice bags have become my best friend. It seems that cold not only reduces swelling, it causes a distracting pain of its own which is much more tolerable than the pain it is covering up. The scar is especially sensitive with a burning pain that I attribute to nerves that are trying to heal. We’ll give them one more month…

I get to start occupational therapy tomorrow, at the crack of dawn. By 7:30 I will be doing thumb exercises which I’m sure will be quite strenuous. The whole imperative of not using the hand to do any lifting or thumb to finger pinching is hard for me to follow. Now that I don’t have to worry about getting a cast wet, and my fingers are more free, I find myself breaking rules all the time. I’m even typing with both hands now, in spite of it being a little uncomfortable.

I go back for another check-up December 19th. I am glad that the worst of this is over, although I’m warned that the second month is still not a “picnic”.

Dog Therapy

Five days to go, then the adventure starts. I’m worried.

It’s another rest day, with only about 4,000 steps. My legs are feeling tired very quickly and there’s a hint of shin splints. I’m worried that this will continue, or that I’ll do something unwise like switch my shoes out, or forget something important, or get sick.

For some reason this is also the week when we have meetings with a lawyer to get our wills settled (a two hour trip to the city), and the week when paperwork for our house sale closing is being mailed back and forth, a physical exam for a new life insurance policy, and the week when youngest daughter is flying here to be with her dad while I’m gone. There is a lot going on. A lot to get ready for.

Yes, right around that ear, and don’t stop.

That is why I took time yesterday to run away to the empty sun porch over at my brother’s house. It was a time to just sit, do some journaling and thinking. It was a time for “dog therapy”. Scruffy came and sat on my lap.

Scruffy and I have gradually gotten used to each other over the last few months. I sometimes take him for a walk, and I’m usually along when his mom and dad take him for a walk. I always pet him and try to make him feel special. He didn’t always come up and want to sit on my lap, but we seem to have bonded now.  I pet him, and since he can’t really pet me back (but I think he would if he could) he licks my hand. I think that’s dog language for “pet me more”.

Scruffy and I have things in common. For one, we have hair the same color. We both love to go for walks and are easily distracted when we are outside. We’re both a bit aged. I could think of more, but that will do. All this to say that when we sit somewhere together and just chill, it is relaxing, for both of us, but especially for me. I think I worry about more things than Scruffy does. Dog therapy is quite effective since I take my cues from him and don’t worry about anything except whether my lap is comfortable for him to lay on. He is most definitely a lap dog.

Cricket, Ellie? Hope you’re having a good dog day!

Scruffy says hi to Cricket and Ellie and wants them to know he enjoys their astute comments. Dogs really have it together. Just sayin’…

Hands Speaking

My hands are telling me things lately. They are tired of being cut, scraped, banged up, painted, scrubbed… Most of all they are tired of hurting. The stiff and swollen joints still have to pull, pry, twist and grip in order to survive. My hands talk about pain and its very real presence. 

“Pain is like an angry neighbor. He is not moving away anytime soon. He is constantly looking over the fence and his stare, his piercing eyes, can be felt following our every move. Sometimes he scowls, sometimes he kicks the fence, sometimes he gets really confrontational and yells at us. Often he goes back in the house, angry, pouting and sits, but even then we can feel him looking out his window at us, wishing us ill.”

“But he is a neighbor and it’s better to get along than not.  we’ve gotten used to him. We know his name, his whereabouts, his nature, and generally how to pacify him.  We think we prefer him to others who are nastier, and more deadly. He is OUR pain, like him or not.”

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Health Advocate: Regenexx Procedure

Being your own health advocate means searching and researching. I’m following this new trail hoping to keep my hands functional for a few more years. 

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Needles, pain. I was all prepared for it. July 11, 2017 I was scheduled for my Regennex procedure on my thumb joint, left hand. I felt a little like a guinea pig, but this whole area of the body healing itself really appeals to me. As I said, I was all prepared for an afternoon in the recliner, watching NCIS reruns through a narcotic induced aura.

I arrived ahead of time and did a few inches of knitting in the waiting room, followed by a few inches of knitting in the procedure room. Next, I was ushered out of the procedure room and did another inch or two in another room while an emergency fluoroscopy on someone else happened. Then I was taken back to the procedure room and “laid out” next to a tray of needles and syringes. I laid there listening to the sound track to “Sense and Sensibility” for close to an hour. I practiced my deep, slow breathing which I supposed would keep me calm.

And then in they came, two nurses and the doctor. I told them I was driving myself home, didn’t want a nerve block, and to go ahead and hurt me. When asked, Dr. L said he frequently did thumbs, so I relaxed and let them position my hand and start injecting. He was very good with the local anesthetic. Those tiny needle pricks were really the only “hurts” I felt. The rest of the injections were more about pressure as the platelet infused plasma filled the joint spaces. And then it was done.

I drove myself home. The local anesthetic wore off and it still hasn’t started hurting. I think I’m in the clear. Now to wait and see if healing takes place. The only thing that bothers me is that it was supposed to hurt… and what if “no pain” means “no gain”?  Just sayin’.

It Happened So Fast

wp-1475003441376.jpgThoughts at the beginning of what would have been a bike ride…

(Early morning, September 26, 2016)

No! What’s happening?! The pedal is flipping and I’m off balance. I’m going down hard. The handlebar is going right into my neck. Bad place to hit.

It’s over, that was quick. How suddenly things can change. Hurts, hurts.  Is there any way this could be fatal?

Don’t panic, you are still thinking, for the moment… That’s a good sign. Hold still, wait.

That was quite a poke in the neck, really hurts. Hope no major vessels were torn.

My hand on my neck might be stabilizing something, I’d better not move it yet. Wait.

It’s really peaceful and still, just sitting here. Look how nothing else has changed. Sunshine, trees, a butterfly. I’m not losing consciousness, must not be bleeding internally. I am so aware of still being alive and so aware of how quickly I could have been dying. God, thank you and please help me not be injured badly.

(3 minutes)

It must be okay to move. I can’t feel anything changing in my neck. I can feel the abrasion now, stinging. Swallowing hurts a little. I suppose I could worry about my airway, but I don’t feel swelling. Not yet. I’m going to stand up.

I wonder what this looks like, need to go in the house and look. Hmmm… right over the jugular. How did that not tear something? Thank God for skin and a tough body.

I feel funny, rattled, sort of fearful. Is this a fear I should conquer by getting back on the bike right away? I should at least pick it up off the driveway.

The wheel won’t turn and something is bent. (Thank God, I can’t ride it!)

Why did this happen? What will I do differently if there’s a “next time”? There’s no one else at fault, just me. I think I was moving too fast – just didn’t see that the pedal wasn’t flat before putting my foot on it. Need to check everything deliberately.

Is there any way this could mean I’m getting incapable? I’m not used to accidents. Have they been happening more often because of changes in me? I’ll bet that thought will occur to others. I’m going to put it on hold for now.

I should put an ice pack on my neck and forget exercise for today. Going to take it easy, just sayin’…

 

No Fun Today

I typed that and realized immediately that it wasn’t true.  I am quite sick today but in spite of it, there is fun to be had in resting, reading, doing quiet things that never get done while I’m able to work.  I’m having fun being sick, who would have thought…

Before anyone gets envious let me say that it’s difficult to concentrate when my head hurts, throat hurts, chest rattles with every breath and the aches and pains of fever make me feel weak.  This feels more like pneumonia than anything I’ve ever had before and it came on very fast.  Most likely I will recover but just in case, I want to say that it is very freeing to realize that things go on without me.  I know some people feel like they cannot take a day off when they are sick, or for any other reason, because they are indispensable. Well, nobody is indispensable.  I’m glad I’m not. I stayed home from everything today and plan the same for tomorrow. Nobody wants to be exposed to what I’ve got.  Staying home when one is sick is a way to show love to others.

In between naps I’m getting some reading done, catching up on my blog reader, cleaning out my inbox, and thinking.  How glad I am that I am here in my own bedroom rather than in Cambodia like I was last year when I got sick.  How strange that it has happened two years in a row after many years of not being ill.  Hmm…

I’m especially thinking how God uses sickness in my life to remind me that I am not in control, to increase my compassion for others, to get me quiet and listening,  I’m not afraid of being sick, whether it leads to recovery or not.  I love being here on earth, but I would also love not being here.  Thinking about dying is not a fearful thing, and I thank God for that. As I get older my most common thought about dying is wondering how it will happen.  Accident? Cancer? Pneumonia?  I have preferences but they are between me and God, and I doubt I’ll get to choose.  I think it’s very wise of him not to let me know ahead of time.

This is kind of a stupid post and I’m not terribly proud of it, but having this much time on my hands I had to write something, and these truly are the things I think about while being sick.. Just sayin’…

Early Morning Thoughts

I have to confess that my earliest thoughts each morning are not cheery.  It’s not that I don’t sleep well, but more that I don’t wake up well.  Aching shoulders, a pounding headache, feeling too warm and so uncomfortable that I have no recourse except to get up and look for distraction.  I’m hoping it’s a reasonable time to start the day.  It’s 5:30 am.

This is the way it is most days, but not every day. I find my distraction in the search for my glasses, the first cup of coffee, the mental chore of figuring out what day it is and remembering what I have to do. I used to have to be out the door by 6:30 but made the change to a kinder schedule.  Now I seldom have to be anywhere before 8 and I am thankful for peaceful mornings.  I can watch the light of day as it grows over the oneacrewoods and hope that a few moments of peace will result in a more comfortable me. It usually does. (Today I also took an Excedrin, that helped too.)

I realize that there are things that give me direction and energy.  I love thinking about the work of the day – the things I feel God has given me to attend to – and as I lay it out I examine each thing to see if I can figure out why.  It takes a lot of frustration out of my day to believe that this list comes from my “real boss” and he has the knowledge to add to or subtract from the list without explaining his reasons to me.  It’s interesting that the older I get and the more experience I have with his direction, the easier it is for me to see those reasons being worked out.  When there is a sudden change of plan, even something that looks like an inconvenience (think traffic jam, troublesome phone call, toilet overflow, etc…) I get a little excited and start looking for the opportunity in it.  If I was the one in charge, those things would be purposeless, aggravating, and discouraging.  But with my adventurous, all-knowing manager, everything has significance and can be part of something awesome.  I love being part of his team.

I do the things I know I should do.  I get dressed and try not to look scary. I eat breakfast.  I pack my bag and get out the door with words of encouragement running through my mind, “trust me, and don’t insist on having to understand.  No matter what happens, remember me and I will direct you through it.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6)  And one of my most positive morning thoughts is that even though I am getting older, slower, weaker, less able in many ways, none of those things are going to get me fired or laid off from my real job. Job security.  Once again, I’m just sayin’…

The Value of a Hard Day

Every hard day I go through becomes a part of me.  I think back on the recent hours of physical pain and ask myself what is different about me now?

I am much more aware of my mortality. Reminded of how little control I have over the complexities of this body. How little it takes to bring on a crisis.  I sat and wondered how much pain it takes to make a person pass out, not able to take any more. I thought of others who endure more pain over longer periods of time, in prison perhaps with no care at all to help them. But I thought more about my own pain and what I might possibly do to lessen it, make it go away.  I mean, how could there not be anything?

I made some promises to my body.  I realize pain is a message of sorts that my body gives me to tell me valuable things. I need to listen better. I need to keep times of pain in mind when I choose activities, work, play, eating.  I haven’t been totally negligent all these years but I do wish that the awareness I have now in my 60’s had been with me in my 20’s and 30’s. I could have been listening back then too.

I have reviewed what I know about God’s view of my life and my pain. I know by now that I can’t expect the laws of the universe to be superceded to produce miracles for me. I believe that happens but I don’t understand  why sometimes and not others. I know Jesus’ heart in the matter because he healed everyone who came to him. I think he has that same compassion for me. Sometimes my prayers for relief are answered quickly, other times not so quickly.  When the answer has been “no” I can usually see that there is benefit for me.  I know that my spiritual healing is the most important thing to God and the answer to that has never been “no”.

I have friends.  When they know that I have a need, love is poured out so generously.  I feel God is in that.  It’s part of that body metaphor where other parts feel the pain when one part hurts. I was encouraged and blessed and I’m told lots of good brain chemicals are released in that.  What a wonderful built-in response to love.

I learned that the husband can make really good sandwiches, and he is attentive and caring.  I knew that before but it’s kind of rare that I need this kind of attention so I forget. He gave up most of his day carting me around to medical care and waiting, waiting…. going for my prescriptions, making me comfortable.

I learned once again how wonderful it is when pain stops.  What relief.  What rest.  A new and joyful appreciation of pain free moments is mine.  I’m flooded with gratitude – more good brain chemicals.

One more part of my body taking on a troublesome behavior could cause a bit of dread, fear, uncertainty.  But today I was reminded in Proverbs 1:33 that listening to the Lord’s wisdom promises me that I will live in safety, be at ease and not have to dread disaster.  Disaster might come, but I don’t have to dread it.  My days are numbered by the Lord, not by circumstances of accident or disease. And thinking back, I wasn’t afraid.  But gosh, the pain was awful.

And so it becomes part of my past and part of me. I’ve seen pain make some people more beautiful.  Isn’t that kind of an exciting concept – that you can do something with pain and use it?  That I might become more beautiful, even stronger, in character is growth. I love that kind of growth!

I don’t wish hard days on anyone but I’m just sayin’, if you have one, it can be valuable.

Changing My Mind

Changing My Mind

My mind needs to change.

I have been of the mind that serious health problems belong to other people but not to me. I have always worked activity into my life effortlessly – I love to move. I have grandparents who lived into their 90’s and parents who are still living independently. I have weighed the same, within a few pounds more or less, all my grown up life. I don’t worry about what I eat, am seldom ill, am probably a type A multi-tasker, go years between doctors appointments. To all appearances I am a healthy person.

My human nature doesn’t spend a lot of time focusing on the diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and cancer in my family history.

Last week I decided to fill out a health survey. One of the questions was to compare blood triglyceride values from past years to the present. I didn’t like what I saw. I went on to look at cholesterol levels, HDL, and LDL. Again there was an alarming trend. I have also noticed a rise in my blood pressure from my usual quite low reading to a higher “normal”. I don’t know how much of this, if any, is normal for me as I age. I’d like to think these changes could go away.

I think I’ll start by admitting that the better eating habits we’ve been adopting aren’t just for the husband, they’re for me too. No more hiding stuff to eat after he’s gone (did I say that, really?) No more reminding him not to eat what I’m eating. And now I’ll not just be walking the husband, I’ll be walking the self for exercise.

The thing I’m really worried about is butter. I’m a little worried about Half and Half in my coffee but I’ve already decided that cutting down a bit on the caffeine would be better for me so that tablespoon of cream is not too bad. But butter, hmm… I love butter.

I read that overuse of NSAIDs can affect blood pressure and that’s another thing I’ve done in the last few years. Ibuprofen has been my friend and how I miss it when I lay off for a few days! But I’ve already decided to get used to hurting a little bit more and maybe taking things a little easy to avoid some of those hurts.

My goal is to see those numbers in my lipid panel improve.  And I’m pretty sure it starts in my head, with a change of mind.  If anyone out there has done something that really worked well, please share it with me.