Daily Journal – May 12

The last couple of weeks resembles the “Great Science Experiment!”  I originally visited my doctor for a nerve on the right side of my face being sensitive to touch and radiating pain with even the slightest pressure. We had already decided on previous visits that 2017 would be the year to see an orthopedic doctor about the erosive arthritis in my right hand and to see if I could find relief through pain management for my SI injury. This has resulted in me feeling quite overwhelmed. It seems that there is either physical therapy or a doctor appointment every day. Take my advice and do not take a “grocery list” to the doctor! It is not conducive to an introvert personality to have so many appointments in a short time. As you read on, you’ll see how my story reflects my INTJ personality.

For anyone wondering (lol) the MRI did show that I have a brain – and, it’s quite normal! Imagine that! The MRI showed no abnormalities but also no reason for the nerve pain. The nerves are too tiny to be seen on the test. My doctor said it could be something as simple as a kinked nerve and it will straighten itself out – hopefully soon. It’s way past wearing on every other last nerve. Most facial movements cause it to either hurt or send a strange sensation down my face. The nerve originates at the brain and travels through the skull and separates into three nerves, each servicing a third of the face – top, middle, and bottom. It is the upper third that is giving me problems. So, it’s a wait-and-see type of thing. Wait and see doesn’t work well with my personality so it’s a little (lot) trying. I am not the most patient of people.

The back/spine doctor that I had an appointment was nice enough but wanted to give me an injection in SI for the pain. He was explaining how they use an x-ray to insert a tiny needle to inject the medicine into the SI. I will tell you right now that I DO NOT have a poker face. You can read my face as though it had words written across it. He stopped mid-sentence and commented, “that doesn’t appear to be an option?” Dude! You think? Nope, nope, and nope!

For those of you who do not know where the SI is located, I will explain (short explanation). If you look at a skeleton, it is between the hip bones. It separates to allow for the birth of a child. Knowing this information, can you imagine the look that must have crossed my face? My imagination was running wild! You want me to bare my ass (excuse my language) and you want to stick a needle into my SI? Uh…nope, nope, and nope! Now, I have no idea exactly how they do this, but my brain was telling me there was no way that was going to happen! Doc, come down off the ledge and let’s start at the bottom of the ladder!

He was kind when he mentioned that is what they do there (at the hospital). Imagine if you don’t think out the scenarios and just agree to what the doctor tells you. I ask questions and then more questions, and then follow-up with more questions (the personality thing.) He was also kind enough to tell me that it doesn’t always work and some people need a shot every couple of months. What was going through my mind was, you want to stick a needle in me and then it might not even work? Nope, nope, and nope!

I am not one to mask pain. I want to know and understand what is causing it and what can we do about it – sans the needle. I told him that I didn’t know if I should quit walking, go to a gym and work with a trainer, or do physical therapy. His answer was physical therapy and that is where I am with the back problem. I was in physical therapy last summer for four months with a concentration on dry needling, but with no exercising. I decided to try a different place and so far, I am very pleased with the results.

This time, during the evaluation, I let the PT know about my experience last year and what I was looking for – which is pain management and hopefully some healing through exercise and stretching. He listened very intently and answered all of my questions and during our sessions, explains what he is doing and how it affects the SI joint. The last PT I used didn’t like when I asked questions and really didn’t like that I did research when I went home. This PT has been very open and receptive, even giving me things to look up for information. I am finding relief through the exercises and manipulation of the muscle (that did not heal properly from my fall.) He also explained that dry needling is good, but only if followed up with stretching and manipulation once the muscle is relaxed. Information fell into place for me. I have to admit though, the 15 minutes of heat at the end of each session is my favorite!

I know this post is getting rather long, but here’s the story about my appointment with the orthopedic surgeon. You know it’s not good when the doctor looks at you like his last meal! First, I saw the nurse for the usual and when she saw my allergy to iodine, she remarked that might be a problem because the doctor used iodine at the injection site.  “?” It took a moment for my answer, “That won’t be a problem” to register. Geez! Why does everything involve a needle?!

First, he wanted to cut open my fingers and scrape what he referred to as bone spurs on my joints by the fingernails (if it has a name, I don’t know it), then fuse the joints. One-at-a-time. This would involve six surgeries! THEN, there would be a joint replacement of my index finger/thumb on my right hand (the one affected by erosive arthritis). I was in pain just listening to him. Once again, it’s like – come down off the ledge doc. When I burst his bubble, the next suggestion was a shot. Again – masking the pain. Nope, nope, and nope! We settled on physical therapy, which I will not begin until I work on my SI. Too many appointments!

The bottom line of that story is I may eventually have to consider these solutions, but not until I’ve discussed with my oncologist how surgery might affect my blood disorders. Any type of blood loss will affect my red cell count and platelet multiplication in a negative way.

This all happened after I made it to the hospital for the appointment only to have GPS route me out of the parking lot, a half mile down the road, u-turn, back to the parking lot I had just been in, and then tell me I had reached my destination. Say what?!

That concludes my “Lucy” adventures for the last two weeks. Thanks for stopping by!

A tourist in my own town – New Orleans

About a week ago I had my semi-annual check-up at Ochsner Hospital. They have recently switched over from pounds to (is it) kilograms. Can I mention just how much I HATE this system? Just get it over with. Tell me I weigh way too much. Don’t make me convert that lovely LITTLE number into a BIG number on the chart above the scale.

I had my blood work done a couple of weeks prior to my appointment – seven (yes 7) vials of blood were drawn – and I wonder why I resembled a vampire when I walked out! I ended up having another vial drawn yesterday and a shot. I was really BAD sick in December and ever since I’ve had one thing or another due to my immune system being compromised. The doctor suggested getting a tetanus shot since I hadn’t had one in a long time and it helps to boost the immune system. I don’t remember the details of the blood test, but when the results come back I may need to get a vaccine that they give to children and adults 65 and older that helps boost the immune system. I realized I’m giving you a whole lot of nothing information, but unless I write all the terms down, it is too much information to retain. The doctor and I discussed everything and I was comfortable with the information and know that I now need to wait for the test results before either taking the shot or not. The results will determine the outcome so the information was processed, decision made, and forgotten.

Hubby was working and I didn’t feel I needed him to accompany me so I asked a friend to make the drive with me. She is an older woman and so kind and sweet. She’s made several trips into the city with me and we make a day of it by going to lunch. Yesterday, we added an excursion to the trip. She is originally from New Orleans, born and raised, and knows her way around so it was really fun to just drive through some of the old neighborhoods and not worry about getting lost. Well, so I thought.

Our original plan was to take I-10 to City Park exit. We were traveling down Clearview to I-10 and she says, “You are missing the exit!” I was a little confused and thought I must have missed the I-10 part. Turns out it was the Earhart Expressway. I was freaking out a little because I haven’t heard anything good about this area. In fact, I had always been told to never take Earhart. My friend is really sweet and she kept reminding me of the speed limit. I guess I do tend to follow the flow, make the flow – you get the picture. I’m a little bit of a speed demon. This was one time when I told her the speed limit was 55 but I was going faster so the bullets wouldn’t get us. I’ve only heard bad stories so what else was I supposed to think!

We made it safely to S. Claiborne I think. It may have been N. Carollton Avenue. That’s it! Carollton and then to City Park. It was an adventure after all. You see some strange sites while waiting for traffic lights to change.

We drove to City Park and rode around a little. It turns out she has a wonderful connection to this beautiful park (that had once sat under 6-10 feet of water following Katrina). Her great-grandfather was a horticulturist and saw how deplorable the park had become. He attempted to rally the city council into bringing the park back to its former glory with no success. He then solicited several businessmen and he began the restoration process, eventually garnering support from the city council. The park has grown by leaps and bounds, but at the entrance to Storyland, there is an old oak tree named the “Anseman Oak Tree” and a street named “Anseman”. What a wonderful legacy to leave your family. I was so excited that she shared this with me.

From City Park, we made our way to the Lake Front (Ponchartrain Lake). I hadn’t been there since high school. We’ll just say, it’s been a while and leave it at that. I used to go the lakefront and sit on the seawall with my cousin. I loved looking at the lake and listening to the water as the waves broke along the concrete steps. There was once an amusement park on the lake as well. I rode my first rollercoaster there. I still remember the exhilaration of the first ride. Maybe it was also the guy who encouraged me to ride it with him. He was kinda cute!

The lake was beautiful and filled with sailboats. The breakfront was filled with families enjoying picnics.

On the way to the lakefront, it was amazing to drive down streets and through neighborhoods that had suffered water infiltration during the levee break following Hurricane Katrina. Mary Lynn never tired of me constantly exclaiming, “There was really 10 feet of water here? Right here!? Where we are driving?!” I may have wanted to bat me over the head for saying it so many times, but it truly was incomprehensible. Like everyone else, I was glued to my television set watching the water inundate the city that sits a mere sixty miles to the east of where I live. Streets that I had driven on and visited people were filled with water. It is not until you sit there in the middle of the street and look at the houses on either side of you that the magnitude of what happened and the amount of water that disbursed hits you.

As we were exiting Old Metairie, it began to storm; complete with lightening and thunder and at one point on Airline Highway, it was raining and blowing so hard the rain was going sideways. It’s not often that I can feel the elements in my truck so it was a little intimidating. That type of weather spawns tornados. We did get home without incident – probably because Mary Lynn kept mentioning my speed (both ways!) That was a new experience for me. Hubby is a retired State Trooper so you can only imagine how intimidating it is to drive with him as a passenger. I feel like he’s going to pull out the ticket book at any minute and tell me to pull over and then read me a list of my violations!

I really do not drive that much over the speed limit; no more than anyone else. Again, I am married to a cop. I know the leeway. I also have a heavy foot but I still manage to keep it within 8 miles of the speed limit on the open road. (I also know most of the places where the police hide.) And, I remember an important piece of advice from Hubby – it doesn’t matter what speed you are going, just be aware of the speed and how long it takes you to react and your vehicle to react. Just know your speed. He said he had stopped numerous people (25 years worth) who responded they didn’t know how fast they were going when asked. That is dangerous. (Public Service Announcement over.)

All in all, it was a very nice guided trip around the city as well as educational. I can’t think of a better friend to have shared the day with. I am looking forward to our next adventure!