Monday, April 30, 2012

This cursed SI joint ...

I was up half the night again last night.
Even with taking a potent painkiller I couldn't sleep through.
I had used the TENs unit for several hours yesterday afternoon.
I had iced the area about four times yesterday, including on my way to bed.
It's just not enough.
Tomorrow, I'll see my pain management physiotherapist and we'll start acupuncture treatments.  Hopefully, that will help.  She'll also continue the ultrasound therapy that the hip rehab physiotherapist had started.  We already know that that helps.  Just not long enough.
I don't know what I'll do if we can't get this under control.
Having gone through the hip replacement surgery and all that is involved with that recovery, it's really quite disheartening to have to put up with this excruciating pain now.  Especially since it would appear to be a result of having had that surgery.
Sooooooooooooooooooooo depressing.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Another Milestone ...

Yet another milestone on my path to recovery was identified this morning.
I no longer need to use a step stool to get in and out of John's truck.
The truck is quite a bit higher off the ground than my vehicle (which in turn is higher off the ground than a car).  Prior to my having hip replacement surgery, I had a hell of a time getting into that damned truck.  But since the surgery, I've needed to use a step stool whenever we went anywhere with the truck.
This morning, we headed off and had the step stool with us.  I used it to get into the truck.  But when we stopped, I discovered that I didn't need the stool to get out of the truck.
When we returned to the truck for our ride home, I tested to see if I could also get into the truck without the stool.  Lo and behold -- a piece of cake.  Even easier than it used to be prior to having had the surgery.
So many milestones being met so quickly all of a sudden.
I'm gonna be a big girl in no time now!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Progress Report

As I come to the end of my twelfth week post op, I discover that I've reached another milestone in my recovery.
I can now go upstairs like a big girl!
Downstairs still requires the little girl "two feet on each step" method though.  Apparently, it will be a while before I can master going downstairs like a big girl.  That's much harder on the muscles.
Such progress.
So exciting!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

This and That

Today marks two weeks since the Mohs surgery on my nose.  I can finally go without a dressing on it and wow! it feels so much better to leave it off.
And I must say, the healing is coming along quite nicely.
Before too much longer, surely one won't even be able to tell that I had surgery.
Monday was twelve weeks since my hip replacement surgery.
That wound, too, is healing very well.
Obviously, there will always be a scar -- although the redness will fade with time.  At least, that's the case with my other surgical scars.  They are barely noticeable now -- thirty, forty and fifty years after the fact!
I had a horrible night last night.  The taping that my physiotherapist had applied on Monday gave me relief until about dinner time last night.
And then it was game over.
I couldn't sit, stand, lie down, or walk without excruciating pain.
I iced it.
I used the Acupen.
At midnight, I took a potent painkiller.
Finally, at about 2:00am, I removed the tape since it obviously wasn't providing any relief, and I put the TENs machine on.
Two hours later, the battery was dead and I had no other charged one at my ready disposal.  But it had at least done its job enough to allow me to get to sleep.
When I woke at close to 6:30am, I had no pain.
Until I stood up and started walking.
As soon as the SI joint was compressed -- BOOM!  That was it.
I literally limped into the physio clinic, where the therapist again gave me an ultrasound treatment and reapplied tape.  But this time, she also put tape down my IT band to try to eliminate the pain down my leg.
I walked out of there a new person.
Hopefully, the benefit will hold until at least tomorrow when my massage therapist comes to do her magic.
Then I will just have to limp along until Tuesday of next week when my regular physiotherapist takes over my care.  I will have in hand a report from this therapist so she will know what we've been doing and she can continue the treatments until we've got it under control.
I will also have a report from this therapist to give to the surgeon.  It will reference the SI joint problem that has developed as a result of the hip replacement surgery.  (He fixed my hip and broke my SI joint!)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Twelve weeks post op

Today marks twelve weeks since my hip replacement surgery.
It also marks twelve days since my Mohs surgery on my nose.
Both are healing very well indeed.
I went for x-rays of my hip this morning, results of which I have to take to the surgeon when I see him for follow-up next week.  Since I have the CD, I naturally made copies of the images for my file.  It's really cool to see that phony hip inside my body:
I also went to what was supposed to be my final physiotherapy session this morning.  Fortunately, the clinic is housed in the hospital where I had the x-rays done, so I didn't have to travel too far to get from one appointment to the other.  
My SI joint is almost under control.  I've been applying ice to it very regularly so the worst of the swelling has gone down.  I'm using the TENs machine throughout the day, and before I go to bed I use the Acupen on it.  That usually allows me to have a reasonably good night's sleep.
It's such a joy to wake in the morning without pain.  In fact, the past two mornings, I opened my eyes and the first thought that jumped into my head was, "Wow, my SI joint isn't yelling at me!"
So perhaps I'm getting ahead of the problem.
The physiotherapist taped them again today so we'll see how I do with that.  But first, she gave me an ultrasound treatment.  I'll go back on Wednesday for another session.  That should give me relief until Thursday when my massage therapist will do her magic.
Then I'll just have to endure until Tuesday of next week when I'll see my pain management physiotherapist and we'll start with my weekly acupuncture sessions again.  She will continue the ultrasound treatments until we get this problem licked.  Surely, that will get it under control!
But, with what I'm doing now, I can at least sit for a little while before the pain starts.  A week ago, I couldn't sit at all.  I was in absolute permanent agony.
I had a couple of questions for my physiotherapist this morning:
When can I start doing the stationary bike again?   Not until my SI joint is no longer an issue.
Damn!  I so badly want to get back to that exercise regime.
How come I can't yet manage to get into/out of my bathtub?  That will come.  But in the meantime, there are "bath lifts" designed for lowering yourself into tubs, for just this problem.  I should check with home health care drug stores.  She doesn't think they are too costly.
More research to do! (I am desperate to take a jet massage bath.)
As of Wednesday, I'll be on my own, as far as my hip rehabilitation is concerned.  The physiotherapist told me that rehab for a hip actually takes six months to a year.  Yet they discharge you at twelve weeks (obviously, once you can walk without assistance, you hardly need their intervention).  
I'll see the surgeon next week and it is my understanding that I will then have to see him once a year for the rest of my life.
Should we decide to proceed with replacement of my right hip of course, I'll be seeing him a little more frequently.
Then it will be my knees.  And I have two of them.
Then it's my shoulder. (Right now, only the right shoulder is a serious problem.  But give it time; the left one is starting to whimper.)
Now I know why the surgeon was so pleased to make my acquaintance.
Good thing I don't live in the good old U S of A!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mohs progress - 10 days later

My nose is healing at a remarkable rate.
My massage therapist thinks that I heal faster than most.  She bases that opinion on the fact that my hip incision healed much quicker than she anticipated (much quicker than the physiotherapist had anticipated too).  And now my nose is doing the same thing.
Anyway, here it is, ten days post op.  
I think it's amazing how much healing has happened in the past two days.
Yet, I still have to keep it covered for another four days.
Obviously, by then there will be no further need to hide it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

So, my hip is fixed ...

But it seems my SI joint is broked.
Woe is me.
Prior to having my hip replaced, I was having a lot of pain in the SI joint.  I was assured that the pain was being caused by the bad hip.  Once the hip was fixed, that pain would subside.
Following surgery, the SI pain got much worse.  It became more than uncomfortable.  
The physiotherapist assured me that as I recovered from the surgery, and my muscles got stronger, the SI problem would lessen.  But she did say that the SI joint takes the longest to recover following hip replacement surgery.
Well, as I've gotten much better, it's gotten much worse.  It has become nigh on impossible to sit, sending excruciating pain down my hamstring.
I'm thinking that when the surgeon fixed my hip, he broke my SI joint.
For the past couple of weeks, the physiotherapist has been taping the joints and that has given me significant relief.  But this latest taping (on Wednesday morning) only worked for about two hours.  Then the agony started anew.
My massage therapist removed the tape and worked the area fairly aggressively.  It did wonders.  But again, the relief only lasted for about two hours.  Then the throbbing was back again.
Last night, before I went to bed, I wore the TENs unit for about two hours.  Gosh it helps tremendously.  But only while it is on.  As soon as I remove it, ouchie wawa!
Then I used the Acupen on it, hoping it would give me some relief.  It must have worked because I was able to go to sleep.
But about two hours into my sleep, I woke.
In pain.
I grabbed my iPad and started researching SI joint troubles.
Found out that my case is classic.  Especially for someone with osteoarthritis in the hips.
Okay then.
What to do about it?
The experts say to:  apply ice; wear a support or brace; use interferential current therapy (ie TENs, and wow it does work!); try acupuncture; and see a chiropractor.
Well, ice I can do right now.  So, I got out the ice pack and applied it for 20 minutes.  And went back to sleep.
When I got up this morning, I again iced it. Icing seems to be helping to bring down the inflammation so I will continue doing that throughout the weekend.
I'm also wearing a brace, which is actually doing very little to help relieve the pain.
It seems that only the TENs unit truly provides any immediate relief, but man it sucks up the battery juice!
On Monday, I will be seeing the physiotherapist again (my final visit for the hip rehabilitation) and will discuss with her what she thinks of my seeing a chiropractor about this issue.
My massage therapist suggested that perhaps ultrasound might help.  I'll discuss that with the physiotherapist as well.
I'll be resuming acupuncture treatments when I start seeing my regular physiotherapist again on May 1st and that can't come soon enough.  Of course, I'll also discuss with her the idea of my using a chiropractor.  I've never been big on that mode of treatment but if it will solve this problem, I'm willing to try it.
But, at least my hip is fixed!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My "beautifully done" nose

I went to have my stitches removed on Tuesday.
On first sight, my doctor wasn't quite sure how he was going to tackle the task.  But he eventually figured it out and only caused a couple of "ouch" responses from me.  It really wasn't too bad an exercise.
Once he was finished, he exclaimed, "Beautiful job!  The surgery I mean, not the taking out of the stitches.  It's a beautiful surgical job indeed."  And he rushed to get me a mirror so I could see before he covered it.
I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder and a doctor is used to seeing many surgical sites.  In the scheme of things, my nose was a beaut.  (I've never been told I had a beautiful nose, but I'll take it.)
Anyway, here it is, the before and after:
It really is amazing though, how much healing has happened in just under a week.  I'm trusting that the bruise will eventually disappear, along with most of the evidence of the surgery.
Only time will tell.
I was told at the Mohs clinic to keep it covered for another week after the stitches are removed, and then it's up to me whether I want to cover it.  (If it's still too ugly, I can cover it when I'm going out and leave it open when I'm at home.)
My instinct at this point is, it doesn't matter how ugly it might be -- the dressing is so uncomfortable, once I no longer HAVE to wear it, I won't be.  If people stare, so be it.
After all, my doctor said it's beautiful!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gosh, fibro sucks!

I hate to whine about this, because everyone knows that fibro sucks.
But really, last night I slept eight hours, straight through.  Didn't even get up to pee!
I should be really well rested.  But I'm not.
I feel like I've been run over by three Mack trucks (at least it's not twenty this time!).
The reason?  Because I'm not getting restful sleep.
Now, part of that could be because I'm not using the CPAP machine.  (I can't use it while my nose is healing but truth be know, I haven't been using it since my surgery -- for a variety of reasons).  I'll start using it again as soon as my nose is healed sufficiently well to allow it.
The main reason for this sustained fibro flare-up is lack of exercise while I'm still in the recovery phase of my hip replacement surgery.
The physiotherapist was insistent that I not get back on the stationary bike until at least the twelve-week mark (Monday will be eleven weeks).  I will be seeing her for my final visit on the twelve-week anniversary of my surgery.  The first question out of my mouth will be, "Now, can I start using the bike again?."  Her answer best be "yes."
She understands that I am anxious to get back on the bike primarily because my body needs the activity.  While I was doing the bike one-hour-a-day prior to my surgery, I was not having flare-ups.  My energy level was increased and I was feeling, generally, better than I had in a long time.  All because I was exercising.
But the inactivity of rehabbing is counterproductive to my well-being as a fibromyalgic.  I need more movement.
Of course, we also still have to address the problem of my inflamed SI joint, which continues to give me fits, making movement very painful.  I'm hoping that once I get back to my regular physiotherapist in May, she will get that under control.
I know that once I'm back to seeing her every week, I'll enjoy continued improvement in my mobility and in my overall good health.  And by then, I should be able to be using the stationary bike (although I know I'll have to start slowly and build up to that hour again).
But in the meantime, fibro sucks.  Big time!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wanna see how ugly it is?

I'm warning you.
It's really ugly.
Today is the day I had to remove the compression dressing, clean up the wound and re-dress it.
But before I covered it again, I had John take photos (one must have photos of these events!).
This is my nose, 48 hours post Mohs surgery.
It's still very swollen, and yes, it's sore.
As you can see, there are a lot of stitches to be removed too.
They're supposed to come out next week.
Problem is, I was told to make an appointment with my family physician to have that done.
I've tried, really I have.
Left a message yesterday morning.
Left a message again this morning.
Both messages indicated that I need to see the doctor next week to have stitches removed following surgery.
Haven't had a call back yet.
So I will show up on his doorstep next week, on a day that suits my schedule to be in the city, and simply make them fit me in.
If they don't want to return calls and work with the system, they will simply have to accept that some patients have to make the system work for them.
And I will let the doctor know about my attempts to make the appointment.  He needs to know that his office is not functioning to his best interests.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Mohs Surgery is over

Well, I've finally had that basal cell carcinoma removed from my nose.
We arrived at the clinic at 7:30am yesterday and was it packed!  By the time the preamble instructions were covered, it was 8:30am before the first three patients were being ushered into the treatment rooms.
My turn didn't come until 9:30am.
The doctor who is filling in for the regular surgeon (who has just given birth to her first child - a boy) is a very personable man.  It was actually he who established the Mohs Clinic in Ottawa.  He has since relocated to Houston but has agreed to come to Ottawa for one week of each month while my dermatologist is on maternity leave.  Very nice man indeed, I'd say!
Anyway, the area being treated was first anaesthetised and then he started cutting, very carefully.  Once done, packing was applied and I had to put pressure on it for five minutes to stop the bleeding. But I was sent back to the waiting room for the duration.  Ten minutes later, I went back to the treatment room for more dressing.  I was bleeding quite heavily.  I was told to try pinching my nose until they came for me again.
That second call came at 10:30am.
He would have to do another cut, he didn't get all the cancer cells with the first cut.
I was still bleeding so he had to clean me up and stop the bleeding.  Wow, did that burn!
Again, the area was anaesthetised and he cut wider and deeper.  This time, he had me stay on the treatment table while I applied pressure for five minutes.  When I was sent back to the waiting room, I was told to continue putting pressure for another 20 minutes, since I had bled so much with the earlier cut.
At 11:30am, I was called back into the treatment room.
They had gotten all the cancer with the second cut!
Now they just had to close me up.  When the doctor came into the room, he told me there were two ways he could close up the wound:  skin graft or skin flap.   He would make the decision based on what would give me the best results.
I asked him where he would get the skin for a graft, if he went that route, and he suggested that he had a spare supply under the table, *wink wink*.  Then he explained that he usually takes it from along the front of the ear, where no hair grows (which is where the graft was taken for John's eye repair in January).  So I asked him if he would please take it from my right ear if he did a skin graft -- my left ear is my telephone ear.  He was amused that I expressed a preference and replied, "Sure, I take requests."  Which caused me to become a smart ass and suggest that in that case, "Perhaps you could take it from my throat and rid me of some of my turkey gobbler excess skin.  Or how about helping with the tummy tuck I've been wanting -- oh, I guess that's a little more skin than you'll be needing huh?"  We had a good chuckle.  That in turn prompted him to comment that it always amuses him the interesting places patients suggest for taking skin grafts.
There was an intern assisting him and they were "talking shop" throughout the procedure so I didn't get to ask many questions.  But when it became evident that he was stitching me up and he hadn't cut anywhere else, I knew he hadn't opted for the skin graft.
When finally he asked me how I was doing, I assured him that I was OK but I was very curious as to what he was doing with my nose.  That's when he explained that he had done a skin flap repair by taking skin from the top of my nose and pulling it down to cover the wound on the side of my nose.
We left the clinic shortly after noon, and arrived home on time to catch the last few innings of the ball game.  And my boys won too!
On Friday, when I have to take the dressing off to clean it and re-dress it, I'll have John take a photo so you can see the delightful mess of stitches I have for what was a little tiny dot of cancer that needed to be removed.
In the meantime, this is what I will go around looking like for the next two weeks:
Of course, when I change the dressing on Friday, I will only be applying gauze and a bandage, not quite all this compression dressing that you're seeing here.  But it will still be a sight to behold!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It doesn't hurt!

Ten weeks post op and finally I can sleep on my left side!  Yahoo!!!!!
I hadn't tried laying on my left side since my physiotherapist had advised against it some weeks ago but last night I just had to.  My fatigue level is through the roof since the weekend and I needed to sleep.
Imagine my delighted surprise when it didn't hurt to go to sleep on my left side!
But I'm still exhausted today.  I truly feel like I've been run over by a dozen Mack trucks.
The demands of the weekend really have had an impact on me.  (It didn't help, of course, that this was right on the heels of the previous weekend's unexpected trip to attend my cousin's funeral.)
I mean, it was truly a pleasure to see John's enjoyment on Saturday but I really can't handle such crowds and noise levels in our small home.  Had we gone to an outside establishment, it would have taken the physical demands on me out of the equation.   The noise level would have been the same but dispersed over a larger area.  But, I wouldn't be suffering quite so much.  We didn't do that, so now I'm paying the price.
When I saw my physiotherapist yesterday, she said I looked like I could sleep for a month.  Which pretty well summed up how I was feeling.  But I was delighted to tell her that I had just that morning found out that I had passed another milestone in my recovery.  I was able to get my leg into and out of my car without having to use my hands to lift it -- my leg did it all by itself.  True progress!  She was nevertheless very concerned about my fatigue level and she chewed me out about allowing myself to hit these lows.  ("You have to pace yourself better than this.  These ups and downs are not good for your body.")
Tomorrow, I'm having Mohs surgery to remove the basal cell carcinoma on my nose.  It's going to be a very long day sitting in that clinic.
My physiotherapist agreed to tape my SI joint again to help me get through tomorrow and when she went to apply the tape, she noticed that both joints are swollen.  So she taped both sides.  The relief is phenomenal, but the tape can only stay on for four days.
I will see her one last time -- in two weeks.  At that visit, she will tape me again if the SI joint hasn't settled down.  (She is confident that acupuncture will take care of the remaining inflammation nicely but I won't have had any treatments in the intervening days.) She will give me a note to take to the surgeon, advising him that I am beyond her help now.  She said she would also teach me how to tape my SI joint myself so I could self-treat when necessary.
It's time for me to transition to my pain management therapist (who just happens to be away for three weeks in April!).  Right now, I'm on my own with just massage therapy to get me through.  Massage therapy helps tremendously but it alone is not enough.  I need my regular acupuncture treatments and it's especially necessary for my SI joints right now.  Unfortunately, I have to wait until May 1st to see her.
As it stands now, I will see my "hip" physiotherapist one last time in two weeks.  But she told me that if I get into real trouble next week, I should call and ask for an appointment so she can tape my SI joints again.  She won't leave me hanging!  Such a sweetheart.
My hip is fixed.
My SI joint problem will resolve itself, with time (and probably acupuncture treatments).
If only someone could fix fibromyalgia, end flare-ups, and allow me to live life like a normal person!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

We're not really big on Easter around here.  Well, other than I HAVE to watch the film Jesus Christ Superstar at least once over the holiday week-end.  I used to subject my little chickadee to watching it with me when she was a very wee chick (she actually knows the words to all the music).  Now, I make sure John is out of the house when I watch it (I wouldn't dream of making him listen to it).  I actually have the DVD playing now as I write this.  I absolutely love the music!  I also have the CD and can listen to it in the car any time I want to.
Anyway, that's the extent of how we mark Easter in this household.
No Easter bunny.
No church.
Just me enjoying the music of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.  (Try not to get worried, try not to turn onto problems that upset you.  Don't you know everything's all right, yes.  Everything's all right.)
Yesterday, we had a birthday party for John.  It was actually his birthday on Friday but we invited family and a few of his closest friends to help him celebrate yesterday.  I had tried to convince him to have a big bash like we had for my 60th.  We could rent the space at JRs Restaurant and invite a lot more people to help honour his 80th -- but he wouldn't hear of it.  It was quite a challenge getting him to agree to what little function we did have (although in our small home the crowd was plenty big enough!).
We ordered in pizza, had lots of beer, made plenty of Caesar salad, and bought the best damned birthday cake ever from Baker Bob. All in all, it was a relatively easy party to throw. 

This is what John posted on Facebook this morning:
"Had the bestest birthday party ever yesterday.  All the family, all my best friends.  Many great gifts, including two bottles of very special wine and three bottles of Irish and Single Malt whiskey.  Girl Guide cookies too!  Bird feeders, beer bread, pound cake, coupla great books.  Lottsa beer, pizza, birthday cake.  Thank you very much for organizing it all Bonnie, it was great."
I guess he had a good time and is glad that he finally agreed to share his special day.
John is trying to convince My Striking Young Man to help him blow out the candle.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Birthday to my husband

Today is a very special day.  It marks 80 years since my husband joined this world.
That's a long time to be around.
Of course, the best of those years have been the past 17 -- the ones he's spent with me!
Happy birthday, darling.

Here's hoping we have at least another 17 years together.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Today is massage day

Today being Thursday, my massage therapist will arrive at my doorstep at 1:00pm to work out the kinks in my poor body.
I really do love this day of the week.
My mornings are spent in leisure, taking care of only the most basic of household chores.
Then as close to noon as I can get it, I jump in the shower to ready myself for my massage.
But today is an especially SPECIAL Thursday.
It is opening day of the 2012 baseball season.
That's right.  My boys will take to the field at 3:05pm today against Cleveland -- so I'll be nice and mellow after my massage to just sit and enjoy the game.
It's not my boys' home opener though.  Today they are the visitors against the Indians.  Their home opener doesn't happen until Monday, April 9th.
For a variety of reasons, we aren't going to Toronto for the opening series this year.
But you can be sure we'll be there in spirit, sitting in front of our large screen high definition television to take in the action.
Have I mentioned how much I love baseball????

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Have more faith?

Yesterday, I was told I need to have more faith.
John and I made the trip to Colborne to attend my cousin's funeral service. These events are never joyous ones, but they are always opportunities to visit with relatives and old friends that one doesn't often get to see.
In this case, I was catching up with my cousin's maternal relatives.  People I knew well since our families were good friends when I was growing up.
Natually, I was using my cane because I was "away from home" and the occasion involved significant amounts of standing.  Notwithstanding the emotional impact of the visit, because of the travel involved, my fatigue level was high.
As I sat down at the reception following the service, I commented about the cane being such a nuisance and was opining that I needed one of those fold-up versions.
"No, do you know what you need?" asked one of my aunt's sisters.  "You need to have more faith in your new hip!"
I assured her that my using the cane had nothing to do with lack of faith in my hip.  It had everything to do with ensuring my safety while away from home.  The risk of falling is great as fatigue increases.  I was still healing and my muscles weren't yet ready to cope with the demands of the trip.
But I was really thinking, "How dare you.  More faith?  Indeed -- quite the opposite is true at this point in the recovery process."
And somehow I managed to resist the urge to strangle her!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fools Day

This day used to be one of my favourite, as a child.
My father was a regular practical joker, so we never knew what to expect on April 1st.
The stunts started in the wee hours of the morning, with my father waking us and telling us we had overslept.  It was time to get up.  We were late for school.  Hurry.  He would even be ready to serve us breakfast before he'd shout "April Fools" and send us all back up to bed to finish our night's sleep.
Or he'd make the phone ring (easy stunt to pull in those days), pick it up, and hand it to one of us.  There'd be nobody there, of course.  "April Fool," he'd snicker.
I'm not sure who got the bigger kick from the day.  My father or the rest of us who weren't the victims of  that particular prank.
Try as we might, we could never "trick" my father.  He always said, "Don't try to fool a fooler."  Or something like that.
Anyway, in the spirit of the day,