Tag Archives: knee

Pain medication

There was a really interesting discussion yesterday in one of my doctor’s offices between myself, another patient, the doctor and one of the techs, the topic at hand…opioid pain medication. So both the other patient and I have long histories of pain but neither of us are on opioid pain medications. I know that had I stayed on pain medications I probably would be addicted at this point. My first back surgery was September 2014 and my back still is not fused.

We talked about how we have created an epidemic because doctors in the past have been too quick to prescribe the opioid pain medications and not try other ways of pain management. There are other things to try for a lot of patients. Now there are patients who do need pain medication for longer term use, but those patients are few and far between. A lot of patients who are on opioid pain medication don’t need them for long term use.

I will ALSO say that just because a patient is on opioid pain medication does not make them an addict. There are plenty of patients who are under doctor’s care and they are taking the medication responsibly and there are no issues. I know patients who need the heavier pain medications and they have tried other methods of pain management to no avail.

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Shoes and braces….

Apparently I lost my mind for a moment this morning…now it could have been that my body decided that 5:30am was a good time to wake up and my brain wanted to sleep later. I did try to stay in bed later, but the longer I fought my body the more my pain increased and I soon realized this was a losing battle. So body 1-brain-0. So I got up threw on my walking clothes figuring if I was going to be up so early I would get my walk in early, then get breakfast and a shower. Sounds like a plan right? So I get the socks on, put the shoes on stand up and CRACK! BOTH KNEES CRACK like the old wooden staircase in some creepy old house you shouldn’t be playing in as a kid. I close my eyes and softly shake my head…knee braces…still sitting on the FLOOR…

Remember what I said about body-1 brain-0 WELL apparently when my body won the argument to get up, my brain still tried to sleep in because now I have my shoes tied and my knee braces are sitting on the floor beside me. Of course I now have to untie said shoes to take them off and put the knee braces on in order to walk, but what else is knew? I think I need some coffee…

Gingersnap

New Diagnosis?

You’re sitting in the doctor’s office and you get a new diagnosis..what is the first thing that pops in your head?

a) WHAT?

b) NO!

c) IMPOSSIBLE

d) I’m switching Doctors

e) HALLELUJAH!

The thing about having a chronic illness is that often e is the one that pops in your head! You’ve been to the doctor so many times, they have run multiple tests and when you FINALLY get a diagnosis you want to jump up and down and scream and shout! However usually by the time that happens you don’t have the energy to jump up and down or scream and shout! This year alone I have had multiple new diagnoses, some I was happy about, some not so much and I might be getting a couple more by the end of this week…yeah not sure what my response will be.

I am tired right now. I am so exhausted from everything that is going on that I am in survival mode. I am falling asleep at night on the computer in mid-typing which is the clue I need to hang it up and go to bed. I know part of the issue is the heat, it is HOT where I live right now and so being out in the heat is not helping, I have had a lot of medical appointments getting everything ready for the upcoming surgery, but the other part of this is just ME! It takes a lot of energy to do everything. When I walk I have to be aware of my foot placement because my right foot likes to drift and then that puts added pressure on both knees, which I don’t need. So I have to be careful of how I am walking. My left ankle has been sore which I can’t figure out if I just stepped funny at some point in the last week and didn’t realize it, or if something else is going on.

I have really bad balance issues so I am always having to be aware of my surroundings to make sure I don’t bump into something. I don’t want to knock anything over because I am closer than I think I am, which happens. I have been having headaches because of the weather, and my allergies have been acting up as well. So things are just all sorts of complicated right now and I have to work hard at keeping them uncomplicated. That takes a lot of physical and mental energy. Add the fibromyalgia in the mix and I’m done!

Sunday I was walking out of the bathroom at church…this should have been an easy task…but it’s a narrow bathroom. I did not walk to the handicapped bathroom. I lost my balance and my knee brace got caught on the cabinet. Wifey asked me if I was alright and I assured her I was, and I was it was more embarrassing than anything else. I sat down and fixed my knee brace. I wanted to make sure that when it got caught it didn’t get twisted.

I just like to make life interesting for everyone around me! I like to keep everyone guessing! I will be glad to have the rest time after surgery! Right now I feel too busy which I know that will slow down to a halt very soon and I will have time to breathe again!

 

HEAT

Heat + Asthma = sitting in the A/C wishing for better air quality outside…..so it’s summer and I’m usually good with summer until it gets to be the 90 degree days. 90 degree days is when my asthma goes STAY INSIDE!! So today is one of those days where my asthma is calling the shots. I am chilling inside goofing off with friends on the Internet trying to remember life before I was broken!

It’s hard to remember what it felt like before I was broken. I seriously don’t really remember that time, I think it might be like when parents don’t really remember what life was like before kids. You can reminisce but it’s not REALLY the same. I mean you tend to make it all rainbow and butterflies and think about how wonderful life was before children because you don’t think about anything bad. I mean why would you? You tend to think about your life without children when the children are drawing on the wall with marker covered in chocolate syrup and they need a diaper change. You don’t think about your life before kids when they are perfect! So thinking about life before I had SO MANY MEDICAL ISSUES is similar. However I find it hard to really remember what life was like because pain consumes me now. It’s hard to remember that I actually had a time in my life when I didn’t have pain running through the back of my head. When I didn’t have to think about every step I took, I didn’t have to think about is the handicap stall free in the bathroom? Will I be able to get those jeans on over my knee braces? How far can I physically walk before I need to sit and rest and will there be a chair/bench/resting spot? Which stores can I walk around in and which stores do I need a wheelchair for? Every outing I have a million pieces that I have thought about, and planned including do I need to bring my blood thinner with me? Am I going to be out late enough that I need to bring my blood thinner with me so I don’t miss a dose?

Most people my age do not have a mental check list when they want to leave the house I do out of necessity.  I have to make sure that I will have everything that I might need do to my disability. I did not think this would be my life at this age, but I know that I am meant for greatness.

 

Not dry in time….maybe….

So it’s summer and it’s HOT! What happens when you are hot? YOU SWEAT! Oh yeah it’s basic biology people! So now I am wearing neoprene braces on both legs so they sweat even more, which means they need to be washed regularly, makes sense. So last night I washed said neoprene braces. This morning I have a medical appointment which is pretty par for the course with the upcoming surgery and THEY AREN’T DRY…..ummm oops? You see what else happens when its summer and HOT like really HOT is we get random thunderstorms at night. I did not calculate this into my drying time NEEDS of said braces….

So the braces are currently laying on a towel in front of a fan hoping they dry out before I have to put the hinges back in and wear them or else I am going to have to put on wet braces which will be kind of gross….the one brace was almost dry this morning when I checked it the other one is heavier and NOT SO MUCH….. yeah…..I just imagine wet bathing suit feeling but on my knees…

So we’ll see when it’s time to bounce out of here if they are dry or not and I have learned a valuable lesson! There is some wise quote out there about experience being the best teacher or something like that… I guess now I have the experience of when its really hot outside and there are thunderstorms and I have a morning medical appointment I might want to re-think washing my braces the night before. However knowing me and knowing my memory problems you probably will see a similar blog about this same problem sometime in the future and you will think didn’t she already do this once before? And go back and look and then laugh and think didn’t she have déjá vu? The answer is probably NO just to clear that up now.

I will say that walking around this morning sans braces is odd and a bit scary because I have gotten so used to having them on first thing in the morning that my legs have almost forgotten how to walk around for long periods of time without them, which is odd since at physical therapy I don’t wear the braces. However I am home so I guess my brain knows that they should be on, so I feel out of sorts. My knees definitely feel naked!

$40 Chair

I had physical therapy yesterday which isn’t anything new. I have been going weekly for months now. We have been working on strengthening my legs, and the muscles surrounding my knees because my knees are crap! When I am in the office I don’t have my braces on, so I look really normal. I also don’t have my stimulator on so that I can feel if the exercises are bothering my knees/legs. If I have the stimulator program running then it is disrupting the pain signals coming from my low back and legs which is not helpful when I am doing physical therapy on my legs.

So I went to sit outside my doctor’s office and there was a gentleman waiting to speak to the doctor. He engaged me in conversation this way…

Him- “This chair will cost you $40”

Me- laughs “You are charging the WRONG patient! I haven’t worked in years and I’m disabled and possibly won’t work again!”

Him- slight confused look on his face “But I saw you walk over here, and you look like you walk just fine…”

Me- laughs “Well I am one of those looks are deceiving kind of people. Last year I was told by 3 medical doctors that I should be dead because I got a saddle pulmonary embolism after surgery. One doctor told me I should be on medical mysteries because he’s not sure how I survived it. I’ve had 3 surgeries in 2 years and I’m about to have another surgery in August to have my neck fused because it’s bone on bone.”

Him- “So the neck…I guess that’s painful…”

Me- “Very painful. I get migraines multiple times a week.”

Him- “Hmm I guess you have more going on than meets the eye.”

Me- “Yeah and I’m here for my knees!”

Him- “WHAT? You’re not even here for the neck?”

Me- “Nope…I am currently here because I have MCL sprains on both knees and I have no ACL in this knee.”

Him-“Okay I guess I won’t charge you $40 then……”

He gets up and walks off

The funny part about all this was I had just said to the tech that for everything that is wrong with me I do walk well. I mean seriously! I know that a lot of it is all the physical therapy, all the stretching that I do at home, I do work hard to be able to walk. Walk in a straight line I do not, but hey I can’t be perfect!

Now this guy was not trying to be mean, he was really trying to be funny, he just got more than he bargained for! Because if you look at me especially without the braces on you really have no idea. With 2 knee braces on you have some idea that I have some knee issues, but still that doesn’t clue you into the back. When I have to check in, I have 12 tabs on a normal basis because each part of my body that is injured/hurts is a tab. Sometimes I have more because if I have something extra that hurts I have to add it, but I have 12 tabs that I have to fill out info on a normal day. And I know you are thinking WOW!! Yeah, that’s my life with chronic pain and yes it goes from my ankle all the way up to my neck and both sides of the body, so it’s not so fun. I try to keep a good sense of humor because I need something to escape all this pain!

Stress

When you have a chronic illness stress takes on a life of its own sometimes. It’s not just your stress either- your family members also get stressed. My wife is the most wonderful woman in the world, but I know everyday that my chronic illnesses stress her out. I know my disability stresses her out. We don’t have a normal life because of my chronic illness and disabilities. We try to have as much of a normal life as possible, but everything we do we have to think about logistics. I have a physical disability and while I get around pretty well, stairs can be an issues, steep hills are definitely an issue, and walking long distances is an issue. So we have to think about where we are going how long we are going to be there, will I be able to sit and rest at some point, etc.

It’s always the elephant in the room. Now I’ve been told that I have to wear these knee braces because my knees will not get any better, they will get worse over time how much time is anybody’s guess. I am staying in physical therapy to try and strengthen my knees and legs to hold off more damage, but so often I am not doing anything more than walking across a flat surface and one gives out on me.

Right before every surgery I get more stressed out because I want everything to go as smoothly as possible so I try to make sure everything is perfect. Yes I know this is an unrealistic ideal, but I am at heart a perfectionist and while I am working on letting go and I have made big strides I am a work in progress. So we are getting ready for surgery later in the summer and I am stressing. I am not stressing about the surgery itself. I know that is going to be fine and honestly once I am at the hospital the morning of the surgery I will be calm. It’s all the days BEFORE!

I’m trying to make the last minute doctors appointments to see this specialist and that one. Trying to make sure that these ducks are in a row. Trying to make sure all my medical team are in the loop with what is going to be happening so no one is surprised when I walk into appointments after surgery with a neck collar on. I think I just have one more of those appointments now. I have other appointments, but I think everyone is in the loop!

I am really working hard to try and find some zen and before the surgeries and back problems I did yoga, I swam, I hiked (yes I hiked!), but those just aren’t feasible right now. I am hoping that once everything is fused in my low back that I might be able to do some yoga again that is safe for back health. I really miss yoga. I am working on doing some daily meditations again because I think that is part of the reason I am stressing so much right now is that I don’t have any zen in my life.