Thursday, March 31, 2011

Time for a short break

I'll be away from here for a few days.
We leave tomorrow morning to enjoy three days of baseball at the Blue Jays Opening Week-end.

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game"

OK, Blue Jays.
Let's play baaaaaaaaaaalll!
I'll be back here Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring has finally sprung!

Wow, it's fabulous out there today!
Yesterday was cold and dreary and yucky but today is sunny and bright and spring-like -- just fabulous.
I was in the big city yesterday; went for my physio session.  She was delighted to hear that I'm back to my walking, even if it is only for ten minutes every other day.  As she reminded me, it's best to stay the course if the course is working.  Don't rock the boat!
I've been pacing myself quite nicely lately so my pain level is way down.  Even my hips are being nice to me -- to the point where I was beginning to wonder if I need hip replacement.  My physiotherapist told me the test is to stress my hips and find out:  can I rotate my leg?
The answer of course is, "No, absolutely not!  That is precisely the movement that causes excruciating pain."
"So don't go fooling yourself," she said.  "Just because you're feeling better doesn't mean your hip isn't degenerated.  You're feeling better because you're not stressing the hip.  Before, you were doing stuff you should not have been doing.  So keep doing what you're doing now -- stay the course until you get it fixed."
Sounds like pretty good advice to me.
Once I finished there, I stopped in for a quick visit with my good friend, LC -- although it turned into a bit of a longer stop than it should have been.  Sorry about that MLC.
Eventually, I got to MLC's workplace and we went to pick up MBB.
My haircut appointment wasn't until 7:15pm so we killed time by going back to MLC's place so MBB could do his homework and shower before we went for supper (burgers at Wendy's).
After I got beautiful again, it was back to MLC's so MBB could get to bed.  Then, MLC asked if she could "go out" -- all the way next door -- leaving me to my own devices with her crazy television set-up (it always gives me fits!).
This morning, I collected many hugs and kisses before leaving bright and early to pick up my best friend sister so we could have breakfast before she had to report to her office.  And this time, a good friend from our high school days -- she of many last names -- joined us.  And once my sister went to work, she of many last names and I sat and talked for another full hour before we left the joint.
It was a great start to the morning, to be sure.
En route home, I only had one stop to make and when I arrived here, our cleaning lady was almost finished her tour of the house.  It was a real treat to come home to a spic-and-span abode.
Spring has sprung, the birdies are abundant, the sun is shining.
Life is good.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Finally, some energy

The past couple of days have been horrific.
I really don't like feeling so out of it when I can't put a reason to it.  (I don't like feeling out of it ever, but if there's a known cause, it's a little easier to take, I think.)
Saturday was especially difficult for me.  I don't think I've ever been so completely fatigued as I was on that day.  And I hope to never be that bad again.
Whatever brought it on, it's over now, and for that, I'm grateful.
I emptied the dishwasher while I made breakfast.
I've already put in my ten-minute walk.
I've got a load of laundry on the go.
And I'm mentally doing the packing for our upcoming trip to Toronto (Blue Jays opening weekend, here we come!).  Lists, lists, lists ...
I think that's enough for today.
Now I veg for the rest of the day.
Don't want to overdo a good thing.  Gotta conserve that energy for the Blue Jays!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weird two days

What a weird two days I've just put in.
But first, let me tell you about the sleep study I had done on Thursday night.
I arrived at the the lab shortly after 8:30pm, as instructed, and they were waiting for me.  I had to complete a five-page questionnaire (all about my sleep habits) and then I was taken to my room where I was left alone to get "ready for bed."
Once I let them know that I was ready, Sarah, my technician, came in to hook me up.
Electrodes were placed all over my head, on my cheek, my chin, my neck, beside my eye, on my back, one on each leg, and on my left index finger.  Belts were placed around my chest and my abdomen, to which contacts are attached.  All these wires allow them to monitor brain waves, eye movement, snoring, teeth grinding, sleep position, leg movement, oxygen level, you name it!  Finally, a monitoring device was placed at my nose to measure my breathing activity.
Once I was wired up, I had to get into bed and lie on my back while Sarah went to the control centre and talked to me through the intercom.  She had me do a variety of movements while she got base readings to ensure that all the contacts were properly in place.
Then I was on my own to read until I advised her that I was ready to go to sleep.
At about 4:30am, I needed to go to the washroom, having wakened at least once before and ignored the call.  I signalled Sarah who was in my room in an instant.  She disconnected me from "control central" and sent me on my way.  As she was reconnecting the module, I told her that I was probably up for the day now (I would have been, had I been at home).  She told me that if I wasn't leaving the lab, I had to stay wired up.  Since I wasn't about to call MLC at that hour of the morning, it was back to bed for me.
I woke again just before 6:00am, and Sarah arrived in my room to tell me it was time to get up and out of there.  It took much less time to disconnect me from all that wiring than it had taken to hook it up the night before.
There was a one-page questionnaire to answer on my way out and MLC was at the door as I left the building.
We went back to her place to get MBB so we could all three go out for breakfast before taking him to daycare/school.  Then MLC went home and I made the return trip to my home.
I won't find out the results of the sleep study for several weeks.  They will phone me if there is an urgent need for me to see the Doctor (ie if apnea was found and I need to do something about it); otherwise, a "no finding" report will be sent to the requesting doctor (and I will only find that out when I see my doctor, if he reports to me that he has such a report).  You can be sure I'll be inquiring into the status of my visit.
Anyway, I spent the rest of Friday pretty much doing nothing.
I had originally thought that I felt surprisingly rested following that night at the sleep lab.  But even while I was sitting at the restaurant at breakfast, I was aware that I felt quite sleepy.
Later that morning at home, I napped for well over an hour.  Guess I wasn't quite as rested as I thought.
Then of course, because I napped, I was groggy and dopey for the rest of the day (which is why I really don't like to nap).
Yesterday morning, I read my newspaper in bed 'til about 8:30am, then I got up and made John his weekly big breakfast.
After which I had an overpowering need for a nap.
And nap I did.  For damned near two hours!
After which, I was groggy and dopey for the rest of the day.
Throughout the afternoon, I tried to read but kept drifting off.
I tried to watch television, but kept drifting off.
Didn't even have an appetite for supper.
All I wanted to do was sleep.
So at 7:00pm last night, I called it quits and went to bed.
I tried to read, but my arms literally couldn't hold the book up (John actually offered to hold it for me, he's such a sweetheart -- and a comedian!).
And although I woke with my usual frequency to change positions, I didn't get "up" until 7:00am this morning.
That's 12 hours folks.
So do I feel rested?
Not particularly, but I don't feel especially sleepy right now either, although it's only been 45 minutes!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Investigating sleep apnea

Tonight's the night.
I've been exhibiting signs that would suggest that I do in fact have sleep apnea,  (I snort, and I gurgle, and I often awaken with a choking sensation, as though my tongue is blocking my throat).  But I don't have the higher risk factors for the disorder:  overweight; male; over the age of 65; black, Hispanic or a Pacific Islander; a smoker.  I am, however, related to someone who had apnea (while it wasn't diagnosed, I suspect that my father had it -- he certainly displayed all the signs of someone who had apnea, and he died at age 53 of his first heart attack).
So, I get to spend the night tonight at the West Ottawa Sleep Centre, wired up to investigate whether or not I have sleep apnea.
Friends who have more recently undergone this testing tell me to anticipate getting very little rest (how they manage to actually diagnose is amazing, because, it seems, one gets little sleep in these pseudo bedroom settings, all wired up to diagnostic everythings).
Good thing I've been training myself to sleep on my back because I'm thinking that's the position I should adopt for tonight, lest I get tangled in one of the many wires that will be attached to me.
If I don't manage a nap before I leave today, we at least know that I'll be tired, since my day started at 3:30am.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

Busy as a beaver, as the saying goes.
Today, again, I've managed to get all sorts of stuff done (this time, in spite of a left hip joint that is screaming).
John and I are going into the big city in an hour -- I have a 3:30pm appointment to get my shingles vaccination.  Sure hope there's no negative after-effects from it.
Tomorrow is my sleep study to find out if I have sleep apnea so I'll be leaving here by 1:00pm and going first for a physio session.
I had to forego my massage this week because we couldn't schedule anything that worked -- she was fully booked yesterday and couldn't fit me in.  Since I have to go into the city tomorrow, my normal massage day, it didn't make sense for me to have a massage and then drive into the city.  And the only opening she had for today was at 2:00pm, too late for me to get to my 3:30pm appointment in the city.
I switched my physio from Tuesday to Thursday this week because I didn't want to make the trip on Tuesday for physio, on Wednesday for my shingles shot, and then again on Thursday to attend the sleep clinic.
Such machinations and still I couldn't avoid two consecutive days of trips into the city.
Oh well, sometimes you just gotta do what you just gotta do.
On the upside, today John and I will go for dinner before coming home and that is not something we do very often.
And tomorrow, I get to have dinner with MLC, MBB and Pauple before going to the sleep centre.  Usually, when I stay in town, Pauple is at work so I don't really get to visit with him.  It will be nice to have the chance to actually see him this time.
There's always a silver lining in those clouds, isn't there?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Much better today

I'm feeling much better today.
My gluteal muscles seem to be recovered.
Last night, as I went to bed, I thought they were OK but quickly found out they weren't quite.  So, I popped a codeine tablet (first time in a very long time that I've had to resort to such a measure).
As I lay there, waiting for the codeine to do its thing, I found myself wondering if I'll ever truly see an end to this pain.  I mean, really, it's bursitis; it's fibro; it's osteoarthritis; and this time the pain of those overtreated gluteals -- something I've never experienced before -- was unreal!
Eventually, I drifted off and I actually slept four hours straight.
And I've been awake ever since.
The days are long when they start at 3:00am!
On the upside, my gluteal muscles are not sore.
Consequently, I've been going gangbusters today, taking care of things around here that have fallen by the wayside over the past while.
Yes, I know, I'm not supposed to overdo it.
But really, if the only time I can do stuff is when I have a good day, how can I not overdo it?  Those are the only days on which I can do anything.  And stuff needs to get done.
What a conundrum!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Still Walking ...

I've had a rough few days.
My massage therapist came to my home on Saturday morning (now that's a treat!).   Kind of nice not to have to get dressed (really, why get dressed just to get undressed?).  She was delighted to see my sanctuary, after hearing so much about it while it was in construction.  And she couldn't believe its size (I guess she had imagined a much smaller room).
Now, the downside to having massage at my home is that this session occurred at 10:00am, after which I went to sleep, and dozed away the afternoon.  Kind of a wasted day, I think.
Anyway, my massage therapist is always very cognizant of the sensitivity in my hip area so she approaches with caution, while still working slowly toward releasing those tight muscles.
I guess her gentle ministrations weren't quite gentle enough this time because it would seem she went a little too deep; I've been in absolute agony since Saturday.
My gluteus muscles are screaming at me -- primarily the maximus but the others are in on the act too, I think.
They must be, because the pain is unbelievable.
When I sit.
When I lie.
When I stand.
Simply doesn't matter.
They are announcing their displeasure.
And trying to sleep the past two nights has been almost impossible.  Didn't matter what position I chose, the pain was excruciating and emanated down my thighs. Even lying on my back didn't work.
John commented this morning about how rough a night I had had last night.  That was an understatement!
This morning, the pain has subsided ever so slightly.
So, in the interest of conditioning those damned muscles, I continued with my walking program.
Did ten minutes again.
Better than nothing, I say.
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Huge, bright full moon

Wow, the moon is so bright it's almost like daylight out there.
At 2:00am.
You can't tell from this photo that it's so light out, but it is.
The countryside is lit up tremendously, with the moon's glow bouncing off the remaining snow (yes folks, there's still snow in these hills).
I woke for one of my usual pee stops, and thought it must be much later in the morning since it's so bright out.
Then I remembered the full moon that was happening tonight; the special full moon that was last seen in 1992 and won't happen again for another 20 years.
John is still sleeping so I couldn't commission him to grab a photo of it.
That left me to my own devices.
So I got a shot of a bright moon against a black background, rather than the moon that I can see through the trees.
Sometimes, you just gotta take what you can get.
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Talk about wearing blinders!

Oh dear, but men can be sooooooooo narrow-sighted, can't they?
John wants PhotoShop CS5 as a birthday gift -- his birthday is April 6th.
We agreed that I would get it for him (we don't usually surprise one another).
BUT, he said, he couldn't possibly wait until his birthday, he needed it NOW.
Well, I explained, I'm "between" coupons at Staples right now so as soon as one comes in, I'll order it (I regularly receive $ off if my order exceeds a certain dollar limit).
Yesterday's mail brought with it one of Staples' many flyers, complete with savings coupons.  I promptly hit the "Easy" button, but didn't tell John that I had done it.  (I'm not sure how he didn't notice the flyer.)
He was out today when the order was delivered.
I said nothing (but I had posted on Facebook yesterday that I had ordered it, and I posted today that it arrived).
When he returned home today, there was another mailing from Staples, this time specific savings coupons addressed to me.  I threw them aside in disgust, because one of them offered a better savings than I had made with yesterday's coupon.
Later, he asked me what they were.  "Oh," I said, "not good enough.  The spend limit is too high -- I'd have to order two boxes of paper to qualify."  (Not true.)
He accepted what I told him, asking how much our order was short.  ($50.00 was my additional lie.)
Then he suggested that I call Staples and ask them if we could make a deal .
"What deal?" I asked.
"Well," he suggested, "tell them that we have an order but it's $50.00 short for the coupon and ask them if they can make us a deal."
Oh dear.
His gift is sitting here.
Just waiting for him to read Facebook (or this blog).
Then I can give him his gift, fully three weeks before his birthday, because he is such a spoiled brat!
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Getting back to business

OK, folks, time to buckle down again.
You might recall that a year ago, I was hanging on by my fingernails, fighting not to lose any more weight.
Yeh, well, that's changed.  I've slowly increased from that point, to where I am now almost seven pounds heavier than I was then.  And I'm actually an inch shorter than I used to be.  Soooooo, my ideal weight is a tad lower than I thought it should be.
Ergo, I want to lose more pounds.
I've decided that I should lose fifteen pounds before I have the hip replacement surgery, and there's only one way to do that -- get moving!
Seriously, so low is my food intake already, that the only way I could reduce it is to stop eating altogether. Therefore, the only way I can lose those pounds is to get moving.
I know, I know, every time I start doing "exercise," my pain level goes through the roof.  But I'm simply going to have to grin and bear it.
I've started wearing the TENs machine again, although I can only tolerate it for two hours a day so I have to be judicious about which two hours I select.   Since I don't derive any residual benefit from the danged thing, I have to pick and choose when I wear it -- so I use it when I need to perform particular chores that are especially physically demanding.  Even at that, I've started having an allergic response to the electrodes from the cumulative effect of its use.
Can't win for trying.  *Sigh*
So, I've decided to start walking again.
And I started this morning.
But given the hilly terrain in which I live, and the icy/muddy conditions outside, I'll do my walking at home.  So I cleared a trail through the house, picked up my walking poles and off I went.
The first five minutes were a breeze, albeit boring as hell!
The second five minutes were deadly.
So my first "outing" lasted ten minutes, which is where my physiotherapist wants me to stop anyway.
But she wants me to do that at least twice a day.
I'll see if I can manage a second outing later today, although my gut is telling me not to push it when I'm just embarking on what is really a new regime for me.
My physiotherapist has always told me to "listen to my body," so that is what I'll do.
If my body indicates that it can handle another outing later this afternoon, another outing I will attempt.  Otherwise, we'll try again tomorrow.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Long nights, short days

Do you know that nights last really really really long when you wake every two hours?
Well, they do.
Of course, it doesn't help when one goes to bed as early as I do but that's not the point.
I retire early because I'm fatigued (hence, "short days.")
Can't keep my eyes open a minute longer.
And I sleep the sleep of the dead when I do go to sleep.
I just wake every two hours so that I can change position.
Sometimes, when I wake, the pain permeating my body is absolutely excruciating.
Other times, it's just annoying.
But suffice to say, when finally that clock shows any hour after 5:00am, I deem it an OK hour to rise for the day.
So here I sit, trying not to make too much noise because I don't want to wake John.
I can find plenty to do in the interim.
The coffee has been made and had we not changed the clocks on the weekend, it would be light enough out for me to go for the newspapers.  But I'll have to wait a bit to do that today.
Today is physio day and I have nothing else planned around it, so I'll be making the round trip to the big city for that purpose alone.  Not very good planning, methinks.
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Oh that hilarious horrorscope!

You gotta love those horrorscopes, don't you?  Today, mine reads:
"Someone older or more experienced than you might have some solid advice for you today.  It will certainly behoove you to listen.  After all, you don't have to reinvent the wheel.  Why not stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before you?  Why not benefit from their mistakes?"
I called John in to read it to him. Figured he'd be delighted to hear that -- finally -- I'm being advised to listen  to him (his being older than I, who else could the article be referencing?).
Well, my husband's momma didn't raise no dummy.
His immediate response:  "Can't be talking about me.  I haven't made any mistakes from which you could possibly benefit."
So there you have it.  I don't ever have to listen to my husband!  (Surely you didn't think my momma raised a dummy, did you?)

Later today, we're headed off to John's gun club to attend the annual pot luck awards dinner.  That's always an enjoyable evening, when the spouses have a chance to gab it up (OK, the shooters do too, but they do that every week), and everyone has good grub.
Tomorrow morning, we're having a three-pronged birthday brunch at a favourite Ottawa eatery.
We had three birthdays this past week:  a 51st on Tuesday; a 37th on Thursday; and a 15th yesterday.
We almost had the birthday party on Thursday but Tuesday's birthday boy wasn't available (he works evenings).
Then it almost came together on Friday but I didn't like the timing that we'd have had to book to accommodate the 15 year-old's family.  (Turns out we were iced in anyway, so just as well.)
And finally, everyone was available for Sunday brunch (Thursday's birthday boy has to report to work by 3:00pm).
It hurts my head trying to bring this gang together let me tell you.  A real exercise of the patience wheel because of varying work commitments.  Eventually, we usually figure out something but oh, the calls that go back and forth ...
Looks like we're finally able to get out of here so we should be able to attend both tonight's and tomorrow's commitments with little difficulty.
Happy weekend everyone.
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Friday, March 11, 2011

Is it Phantosmia, Anosmia or Parosmia?

My little chickadee lent me a couple of books last week that she picked up at the library.
One of them is, "Remembering Smell:  A Memoir of Losing -- and Discovering -- the Primal Sense"  by Bonnie Blodgett.
It's basically the author's depiction of her personal journey as a result of her losing, and then regaining, her sense of smell.  A most interesting read indeed, and an extremely well documented reference tool.
I'm not half way through the book yet but I'm learning a whole new vocabulary very quickly.
She discusses phantosmia, which means phantom scent -- the phenomenon of smelling odours that are not present.  Apparently, this phase precedes the complete loss of smell which is known as anosmia, the absence of scent -- that's when a person truly doesn't smell any odours.
Now, I'm a researcher by nature so when something new comes to my attention, I usually go digging.
Both these terms are new to me, someone who lost her sense of smell some twelve years ago (I really don't know how long ago it was -- I've lost count).  Apparently, I would have been in a phase of anosmia at that point, because I could smell nothing -- nada.
However, ever since I had that seizure episode in Halifax in October of 2009, I've been experiencing a return, if you will, of my sense of smell.  But only of unpleasant odours, it seems.  Apparently, that's typical of phantosmia -- olfactory hallucinations.  (I discussed the phenomenon with my neurologist at the time, and he never mentioned the term phantosmia to me.)
Bonnie Blodgett explains that phantosmia precedes anosmia (mine appears to have happened in the opposite order).  So I went to the internet to dig up more information.
Now, nothing I state here is definitive of course because I'm no expert on this topic.  I can only relate my personal experience with the disorder.  (I've now learned that dysosmia is the collective term for olfactory disorders.)
When I first became aware that I couldn't smell anything, the ENT specialist I saw at the time explained that my olfactory bulbs had been destroyed as a result of the repeated severe respiratory infections I had suffered in the recent past.  And once killed, they never regenerate.  At least he had never heard of their coming back.  (Blodgett's sense of smell apparently came back.  I haven't read the how yet -- gotta read faster!)
In the intervening years, I dealt with my loss of smell and all that comes with it (smell is often the first indication of danger, ie smoke; rotten food etc).  I mourned the loss of taste that results from not being able to smell (Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners don't have nearly the enjoyment that they used to bring).
Then when I started to be able to smell again, I thought, "Wow, won't my ENT specialist be surprised to hear this?"
Except the only things I could smell were unpleasant odours.  And it turned out that what I was smelling wasn't really there.  I was the only one who could smell that rotten garbage.  And everything I could smell, smelled the same -- like rotten garbage.  Obviously, my sense of smell had not returned.  My brain was playing tricks on me.
Now, as a result of reading this book and researching the new vocabulary, I learn that phantosmia -- the phenomenon that I've been experiencing since my seizure -- can be caused by an injury to the head. (I suffered a concussion at the time.)  So did the concussion actually induce phantosmia, when anosmia had been present prior to that incident?
But wait!
There's also parosmia which is the distortion of smell that is present.  Parosmia can occur after a severe respiratory infection and is usually accompanied by a loss of sense of smell.
Subtle differences, but differences nonetheless.
I think I'll just leave it that I have dysosmia -- one or more of the olfactory disorders.  And when next I see my ENT specialist and/or my neurologist, I'll throw out these terms and watch their reactions.  Should be fun.
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Investigating sleep apnea

My doctor's office is really on the ball this week.
I've been having episodes of what could be sleep apnea and I thought it would be prudent to be diagnosed, if in fact that's what's happening.
John has been telling me that he thinks I'm often waking myself up with my "gurgling and snorting" -- one of the markers of apnea.
I've been trying to train myself to sleep on my back since I can't lie on either side for any length of time.  Figured I might get more sleep if I didn't have to wake up to roll over every two and a half hours.  Besides, I'm going to have to sleep on my back following the hip replacement surgery, so I may as well get used to it.
Last week, I woke several times during the night with the sensation that my tongue was rolling back into my throat, interfering with my breathing.  Another indicator of apnea.
Anyway, I sent my doctor a fax request on Monday, outlining my concerns and asking that he refer me to a sleep specialist on a priority basis since I figured we might want to clarify this before we proceed with surgery plans.
Yesterday afternoon I got a call from the West Ottawa Sleep Centre.  They had a referral from my doctor.  Now that's fast response!
Could I come in at 8:30pm?  They had a cancellation and my referral was marked urgent so I was first in line for it.  If I didn't take that opening, there was one later in March.  I accepted the short-notice one because I want to get this done.
John wasn't here at the time and I hopped into the shower to get ready as my mind raced with preparation plans.
And then it dawned on me.
We had a winter storm warning in effect.  If it materialized, we would likely be snowed in for a good part of today.  There was no way John would want to drive me into the big city for 8:30pm, getting him back home at 9:30pm, only to have to leave home again at 5:30am to come back to get me for 6:30am.  (I can't drive in the dark so my taking myself to the city for 8:30pm was out of the question.)
I immediately called the Sleep Centre back to apologetically cancel, but naturally I got voice mail and had to leave a message. 
When George called me back he was none too congenial about my having cancelled because of threatened snow.  He asked if I wanted to book in September, when we could be sure there wouldn't be a storm.
Now I know he doesn't realize that I live a 45-minute drive away, in the boonies, where snow and ice is a major concern for driving conditions.  While I want to have this matter clarified, I'm really not interested in killing myself to get the diagnosis.
I now have an appointment to spend the night at the Sleep Centre on April 13th -- the day after I see the orthopaedic surgeon to discuss my hip replacement surgery, and the day before I see my doctor again.  That's going to be a busy medical week for me.
I'm thinking I might call George again today -- in light of the fact that we are probably snowed in, just as I feared -- to explain what wasn't said yesterday about where I live, and to ask about that March 19th opening that he had previously mentioned.  If it's still an option, I would prefer to have the diagnosis of apnea (or have it ruled out) before I see the surgeon in April.
In the meantime, today is massage day and I have no idea if I'll be able to get out of here to get that very much needed therapy.  *Sigh*
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Getting Psyched Up

I had an interesting discussion with my physiotherapist yesterday.
Her husband is doing remarkably well following his hip replacement surgery; coming along very nicely.  But the experience is allowing her to advise me on what to expect.
So here's the drill.
You really do need to have someone available to you full time  for the first two weeks at least.  Not because you are weak or ill following the surgery, but because there are so many things that you are absolutely prohibited from doing.
Simple things.
Like bending over.
Hence, you can't put on your own underwear.
Think about it.
You need someone to place your underwear in position on your feet and draw it up to your thighs where you can grab hold to position the garment properly.
Same thing for your pants/slacks/trousers -- you simply cannot get them on by yourself.
You can't put on your own socks; or tie your own shoes.
When you go in the car (you can't drive for six weeks!), you have to have your seat in full recline position because you're not allowed to sit at a 90 degree angle.
You cannot sit with your hips lower than your knees (elevated toilet seat coming for this household).
You have to take a blood thinner for up to six weeks and that is administered by way of injection.  (I'm terrified by the sight of syringes, no way I'll give it to myself!)
As a result of taking those blood thinners, you bruise extremely easily so you must be very careful of even the slightest pressure being applied to you.  (No massage therapy for me!)
Because of the physical restrictions required during rehab, if you drop something you can't pick it up ... it stays there until someone is available to recover it for you. (I'll be investing in a reacher to be sure.)
When you're sitting, you can't even reach across to pick up a drink or a book -- someone has to hand it to you.  (Don't put that glass of wine down once you have it in your hand!)
We talked about how my personality type will have a hard time allowing someone else to do everything for me.  I'm going to have to really psyche myself up for this.
We know from my experience last year that John will be a trooper nurse; I just have to allow him to be.
Here are just some of the rules as they are laid out in the literature:
  • Do not cross your legs or ankles when you are sitting, standing or lying down.
  • Do not bend too far forward from your waist or pull your leg up past your waist (hip flexion).
  • Do not dress standing up - sit on a chair or the edge of the bed.
  • Do not bend over, raise your legs, or cross your legs while you are dressing.
  • Do not sit in the same position for more than 30-40 minutes at a time.
  • When sitting, keep your feet about six inches apart, and keep your feet and knees straight ahead.
  • Sit in a firm chair, with a straight back and armrests; avoid soft chairs, rocking chairs, stools, or sofas.
  • Avoid chairs that too low; your hips should be higher than your knees when you are sitting.
  • Do not cross your legs.
  • When showering, you can stand if you like, or you can use a special tub seat or a stable plastic chair.
  • Use a rubber mat on the shower floor; be sure to keep the bathroom floor dry and clean.
  • Do not bend, squat, or reach for anything while showering. Use a shower sponge with a long handle for washing.  Have someone change the shower controls for you if they are hard to reach.  Have someone wash the parts of your body that are hard for you to reach.
  • Do NOT sit down in the bottom of a regular bathtub; it will be too hard to get up safely.
  • Use an elevated toilet seat to keep your knees lower than your hips when you are using the toilet, if necessary.
So you can see that we're not going to have an easy time of it in this household.
Six weeks.
And we have to do this twice.
Oh dear, I'd better get started with the psyching. 
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Busy day today

Today is special on many levels.
March 8th marks what would have been my brother John's 57th birthday (he lost his battle with lung cancer last August).  Naturally, his family is in my thoughts today as they mark this first birthday without him.
March 8th also marks my step-son's 51st birthday -- happy birthday Wayne!
Of course, March 8th is also International Women's Day.  And this year marks its 100th anniversary.  (Did you know that 2011 is also the 36th anniversary of International Year of the Woman?)  We've come so far, haven't we?
Today is Shrove Tuesday too.
I have a very busy day ahead of me.
It's physio day, which is always welcome (not to mention, necessary).
But that means a drive to and from the big city, which takes a physical toll on me.  Sitting in the car for 45 minutes at a time, be it as a driver or a passenger, is becoming increasingly difficult to do.
Yesterday, we just went into Kanata, which is about the half-way mark, and we used John's truck.  That was a mistake (at the price of gasoline, I didn't feel like taking the hit on my vehicle when I knew I had to make the trip today).  My hips had a different view of the option -- we definitely should have used my car because it is kinder to my body.
Anyway, I've got a "fun" day planned around my outing today.
First, I'm meeting my favourite sister-in-law for lunch.  I haven't seen her since I don't-know-when so I'm really looking forward to that, even if the visit will be brief.
Then I'll go and have my wonderfully beneficial physio treatment (and possibly a nap, if I'm lucky).  I missed last week's session so we have lots to catch up on (including how my therapist's husband is doing two weeks following his hip replacement surgery).
From there, I'll stop in at MLC's place to deliver a few things to her household (including Pauple's birthday gift -- his special day is on Thursday).  MLC picked up a few books from the library that she thought I might like to peruse so I'm anxious to take a peek (on pain management and stuff like that -- you never know when you might learn another new trick).
By the time I get home, I'll have had a fairly full day so I'll be ready to sit and relax (drinky-poo time!).
Then, this being Shrove Tuesday, I'll make our traditional pancake supper, an event I truly enjoy.   (There's just something that appeals to me about having pancakes for supper, yet the only time I do it is on Shrove Tuesday -- go figure!)
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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Valerian Root is not for me

I've had my suspicions about this valerian tincture since the second time I used it.
You see, each day after I've taken it the night before, I have a nagging cough, such that I wonder if I've used my puffer that morning (it's rare that I forget to take my meds).
So I laid off the valerian root for several days and voila, the cough didn't show itself.
Last night, in the quest for a possible good night's sleep (yeh, right!), I again took some tincture on my way to bed.
Not only did I not get a particularly good night's sleep, today I have that nagging cough again and it's worse than the previous episodes.
My jury is no longer out on this issue.
Just like most other sedation-inducing drugs, I cannot use valerian root because it exacerbates my asthma.
Ask me what that knowledge does to my anxiety about the fact that propofol is the drug of choice for hip replacement surgery.  Oh so many questions to raise with that surgeon in April.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Wow, can I ever dream in technicolour!

Two consecutive nights of good sleep.  Are you kidding?
Yeh, about that business of always sleeping well the night on which I've had a massage ... I guess it's not always true. Cuz it didn't work last night.
I slept horribly.  Woke, I swear, every hour and a half.
I did manage to stay in bed until approaching 6:00am, but it was such a fragmented night that I certainly don't feel rested today.
And my angel is coming over with her family later today.  It was her husband's birthday earlier this week so we're kind of having a celebratory dinner with them (nobody else, just the five of us).  Pot roast about which John has been salivating for several weeks now.  And I made a from-scatch cake that took forever in preparation time last night so it better be good.  (My cake decorating skills leave something to be desired but that shouldn't affect the taste.)
Anyway, back to the matter of my massage therapy not providing me with a good night's sleep last night.
As I mentioned here, this past week has not been a good one for me.  My left hip has been especially problematic.
My massage therapist's clinic is in an old Victorian house and they're undergoing changes to the configuration of the space.  The "clinic" had been upstairs, where there is a washroom, and the reception was on the main level, where there is also washroom.  The house is essentially split into two distinct sides, with access to one from the other, but only on the main level.  They maintained one treatment room on the other side of the house, on the main level, for those clients who couldn't manage the stairs.
Previously, I was able to use the washroom on the main level, scoot over to the treatment room on the other side, and then again use the washroom before leaving (remember that thimble-size bladder of mine?).
Well, they've recently rented out the one side of the house to a private tenant, and their clinic now occupies the side of the house that does not have the washroom on the main level.  I can no longer use the washroom on the main floor.  Eventually, they will be putting in a small washroom for clients like me, but until then ...
As a matter of course, I try to not use my stair lift at least three times each day, just for the exercise.  So, I figured that on massage day, my first stair trip would be at the massage clinic.
That worked out just fine last week, with no ill effects.
But when I got there yesterday, my hip was already giving me fits.  I could have opted to take my treatment in the downstairs room, but I really needed to pee (naturally!).  And I always need to pee after my massage (I would never be able to endure the drive home without first making that pit stop!).  So, up the stairs I had to go.
Well, I was slowly making my way up, both feet on each stair, and I made it to the third last step when I could go no further.  Just couldn't manage one more move!  I stayed there, hanging on for dear life, until I recovered.
Then I very gingerly moved my right leg up to the next step and in doing so, a searing pain went tearing through my left groin.
That did it. The rest of the trip was managed at almost a crawl pace, as I dragged my left leg behind me.
My arrival in the treatment room shocked my massage therapist.
"Bonnie," she cried, "what is wrong with you?"
"Oh dear," I murmured, "those stairs really did me in this time."
So a discussion ensued about various options that could be available until the washroom is installed on the main floor.
The option my massage therapist likes best is that she come to me.  Her proposal is that she will make a weekly house call: one week on Friday; the next on Saturday.  Time to be determined.
She'll have to discuss the logistics with her husband, since they have to juggle responsibility for four young children along with the schedule of their busy clinic.
Since my schedule is open, I'll take whatever works for her, under the circumstances.  Just so long as I can have her weekly ministrations, and be able to empty my thimble-sized bladder before and after the therapy.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I slept 6.5 hours!

I did, I did!
I slept through the night last night.
I turned off the light at 10:30pm (I know, I know -- that's very late for me!) and woke just before 5:00am.  That's six and a half hours straight folks!
Will miracles never cease?
How did I do it, you ask?
I have no idea.  Other than I was dog tired, having just put in two very long, pain-filled days. And I've been trying to train myself to sleep on my back lately because that's what I'm going to have to do following the hip replacement surgery.  (I won't be able to sleep on the surgery side, and I can't stay on the other side any length of time, soooooo the back is all that's left.)
When I woke this morning, I was on my back.  So I guess when I couldn't tolerate my left side any longer (that's my "go to sleep" position), I unconsciously switched to my back, which I can apparently do without waking.  Consequently, I woke feeling quite refreshed this morning.
My left hip is still giving me fits, not liking any movement or impact.  I've let up on the prehab exercises to see if the pain will subside because I suspect that those stretches were/are contributing to my current pain level (ain't that always the way?)
In any event, today is massage day and that doesn't involve a drive into the big city so I don't have to cancel.
And of course, since I'm having a massage today, we know that I'll sleep well tonight. 
Two consecutive nights of good sleep -- woo hoo, watch out world!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Damned hip pain!

My left hip has decided to give me fits.
All day yesterday, it was causing me nothing but grief; every movement caused a searing pain through my groin.
Hence, I slept extra poorly last night and I've now been up since 4:00am.
With a continuing sore hip.
I chose to cancel my scheduled physiotherapy session because I just couldn't bear the thought of making that trip into the big city.  There's no way I could have endured the drive.  John offered to take me but it still would have meant being in the car for the duration and the ride seems to be as difficult as the drive for me.
So, I've just puttered around the house today, taking care of business (there's always something, isn't there?).
Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.