The Body Shop

It feels like I never leave the body shop. The shop that keeps my body going. It’s not one location; it’s many. I’ve been adding dates and building new relationships.

It used to be only my bimonthly visit to the rheumatologist. This year, I have renewed my relationship with my primary care physician. I have met and learned to trust a new ophthalmologist, new to me at least.

Now I can add an endocrinologist to the list. I swear I’ve been his patient before but they can’t find my name in the system. Perhaps I’m confusing my visits there with my daughter’s because I know I’ve been there before. She just had a second body scan ten years after her thyroid cancer, all clear, thank goodness.

Thyroid problems are part of my inheritance from my mom. Who knows how far back it goes in our history. Two of my sisters and myself have thyroid problems, my older daughter had thyroid cancer at 19 and my younger daughter has a couple of nodules that they’re tracking.

It goes without saying that I trust this endocrinologist. He checked me out and proclaimed me healthy. Funny, I feel healthy too. In fact, I feel great. I’m down to two weeks of Prednisone and then finis. My last dose is scheduled on my daughter’s birthday, so two things to celebrate in NYC that day.

But of course proclaiming me healthy wasn’t the end of it. “I like data,” he said.

I nodded. I already knew I wasn’t leaving that office without a long list of testing orders. I don’t present with any symptoms of hyperthyroidism so it’s unclear what’s causing my TSH levels to bump around.

We’re checking that again, delving deeper into the mysteries of my metabolism. Also ordered are a thyroid ultrasound and a CAT scan. And since it’s time, a bone density scan. More dates, more appointments, more waiting in waiting rooms. Sigh.

But I suppose it’s these visits to the body shop(s) that keep me humming along, operating at full capacity. My motor revs up at the touch of a button and I kick into gear the moment I hop out of bed. Luckily, the few permanent dents I do have are not readily visible.

And there’s no denying I have RA as my daily companion. My rheumatoid factor came back 294, normal is below 14. My rheumy doesn’t check this on a regular basis, but since it’s been ten years since diagnosis, I suppose he just wanted to make sure. Yep, my anchor is dragging along.

I’m reminded of a poem I wrote several years ago, called If I Were Slightly Dented.

If I were slightly dented
and came to you “as is”
would you find it in your heart
to accept me as I am?
There’d be no pretty box
No tissue wrap or twine
to disguise any scratches
or signs of others’ touch

If you were slightly dented
I’d want to know your scars
to trace them with my lips
and to whisper my hello
for it’s those nicks and flaws
that make you who you are
And for that very reason
I’d love you all the more

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Working Overtime

I lay on the exam table ready for my gynecological exam.  The doctor stood next to me and began feeling around my throat. Wrong body part doctor, I thought.

“Did you know you have a lump here?” he asked, gently palpating the base of my throat.

“No,” I said.

“You need to have it checked out right away.”

“Well, I just started my summer term. Can it wait six weeks?”

“OK, six weeks and no longer.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. At 20 years old, I still hadn’t outgrown the invulnerable phase. By the time I dressed, I had already pushed it out of my mind. And then as I passed his open office door I heard him already on the phone discussing my case with the surgeon. Wow, I thought, he’s really worried.

I was admitted to the hospital on a Thursday afternoon, the day before the term ended. I had been allowed to do my open-book psychology final in the hospital. I sat cross-legged on the bed and did my test. My then husband would drop off the test in the morning after I was taken to surgery.

After the surgery, I came to and remember reaching out my hand for help. My husband was sitting there and spoke to me.

“It’s all over. You’re in your room now.”

I returned to oblivion.

I came to again, this time with nausea and the accompanying fear of choking to death as I was flat on my back and couldn’t move. I tried to speak and couldn’t. I reached out my hand again and there was no one there. I will never forget the terror I felt for those few seconds before the nurse appeared.

I went home Monday after the stitches were pulled. I never felt any pain. The diagnosis: Benign encapsulated thyroid tumor. Half my thyroid was left behind somewhere in that huge building called a hospital. I was lucky.

Fast forward a few years. I am now a nursing student and observing in OR. I get to see my surgeon in action. I am so excited. They set up a step stool for me; I stand 5’2” on a good day. Now I can see clearly.

I can see clearly how his hands are shaking and trembling all over the place. I focus on that and mentally wrap my hands around my throat in the universal sign of a choking victim.

Those hands, those hands were in my throat! It’s a wonder I didn’t cave and fall face forward into the patient’s open abdomen.

~~~

I share this (abridged) story from my work in progress about my nursing life only because my thyroid has taken center stage again. What’s left of it is apparently working overtime. I feel a little cheated because if my metabolism is revved up, as my labs reflect, I shouldn’t have any extra pounds to work off.

1050UBs LifeCore Fitness

1050UBs
LifeCore Fitness

But, alas, I do, and I have a new BFF to help me with that.

Yesterday, I had about a gallon of blood removed. At least it felt that way. The phlebotomist even asked if I was OK before the penultimate tube was filled. I was.

My PCP had wanted labs. I said let’s check my thyroid, but did he include a full profile? No. So I had to go back and it coincided with the regular labs for my rheumy.

In the past, I’ve been treated for hypo and hyperthyroidism, but for decades my labs have been normal. I’ve been scanned within an inch of my life, literally. That’s how close that behemoth of a machine feels next to my throat.

I’m sure that will come next, but for now I will concentrate on the Dick Dale concert we will attend tonight. We’re spending the night in Fort Lauderdale and throwing caution to the winds.

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Pokes Galore

I had my two-week BP follow-up last week. Like a good girl, I’ve been taking my Lisinopril every day, well, except for one day. I had a glass of wine and decided to skip it, but then I felt guilty for doing so. So I said, what the hay, I’ll have both if I feel like it. YOLO, right?

Doc asked me if I’d been taking my BP. He looked surprised when I said no. I don’t have a personal BP machine, nor do I plan to get one. It did cross my mind while I was at my “favorite” haunt, CVS, but I totally forgot to check it. I mean, why raise your blood pressure?

When he took it, I read 132/80. He was happy with that, but he wants to see me in three months. Which means I have to keep taking this little pink pill for three more months. And he wanted a slew of blood work, fasting. I usually stroll into the lab sometime in the early afternoon. This meant I had to get up early and go get bled before breakfast.

I’ve never been a morning person. I perk up around noon. The idea of rushing out of the house, sans breakfast, to go get needled wasn’t all that appetizing. It took me a few days to psyche myself up, and when I walked into the lab I knew why I go late in the day. It was packed to the rafters.

Two and a half hours it took for them to end up sticking me twice. That’s never happened to me. They always get it on the first try. But I was submissive and said nothing. No need to rattle the phlebotomist and cause her to stick me thrice.

What kept me calm was the ongoing thought that in a couple of days’ time there was going to be another needle introduced into a far more sensitive part of my body. I would have willingly taken a third needle to my right arm in place of that.

I knew two things when I walked into the ophthalmologist’s office. The sight in my right eye was better and I was going to get another shot.

The scan proved me correct. The blood settled by the retina was half gone. Vastly improved, but needing more treatment.

There was only one glitch. The cheaper drug he’d used before was not available, they’d ordered wrong or something. But, he had a sample of the designer drug, if I was of a mind. First, I asked if there was any difference in effect. They were essentially the same he said. It was a matter of dollars and cents for the pharmaceutical.

OK, how impacted would I be in the dollars and cents category? No impact at all, he said.

I mulled it over for a bit. We can order the other drug and you can come back, he said.

Did I need more anxious anticipation?

No. I’m here, prepped and ready I said. Just do it.

The immediate after effect was different. My eye was only slightly red, the sting was mild. I could open my eye, though it was sensitive to light.

I’d driven myself there figuring I’d sit in my car for a bit while the worst of it wore off, but I had no trouble driving home immediately after. I had almost no discomfort for the rest of the evening and night. The next day my eye was slightly pink and slightly sore, a result more than likely from the Betadine antiseptic. I used the artificial tears frequently and as he said, all was back to normal after a day.

The eye injection was definitely easier the second time around but I still don’t want to do it again, though I will probably have to. I did postpone the next appointment a few days past the four-week window as we won’t be in town. We plan to be in NYC celebrating our daughter’s 25th birthday. A quarter century. How did she get so old?

***YOLO = you only live once. I sincerely hope!

 

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Age of Gratitude

It may appear that right now my cup is half empty. But appearances can be deceiving. Especially when you focus on the negative.

In reality, my cup is at least three-quarters full. I have much to be grateful for.

For starters, my wrists x-ray results: Right wrist normal. Left wrist shows “changes consistent with age.” At first I was like, age? What do you mean age? I’m still in the prime of my life.

But then I calmed down and realized that it’s true. I have aged. Just looking at my fingers tells me how much wear and tear this old body has taken. And it’s good wear and tear that came from caring for my family, caring for my patients, going without sleep, pushing with that last ounce of energy to set up a bed for that new admission, walking mile after mile to make my rounds among all my patients and nurses, driving leagues to cart my kids and their friends to school, to the mall and back. All these actions, done out of love, for people who depended on me.

So, Ok, I accept this diagnosis and I’m proud to have it because that means I’ve lived long enough to make a difference in many people’s lives. And furthermore, I’m lucky that the osteoarthritis chose to settle into my left wrist first and not my right. Who knows, it may never reach for my right wrist, but OA has shown me a kindness. Now when the pain sets in I give thanks.

I also give thanks for being squashed during my mammogram last month. For some reason it was less fun than usual this year. That cold, cold machine and hard, hard plastic up against my ribs left me sore and reddened. Every time the tech said, “You can breathe now,” I wondered how exactly.

But all came back normal, as did my gynecological checkup. The discomfort involved with the mammogram is a small price to pay for one more year’s peace of mind.

I’m thankful that I can enjoy my children and grandchildren. I’m grateful to have them in my life, to know that they are there every single day. I can never, ever be alone because I have them.

I’m grateful to have a man in my life who tries to make me happy every single day. There have been ups and there have been downs along the way. The ups so high and the downs so low that sometimes I think the best word to describe us is cleave.  A word that simultaneously means to cut apart and to bind together.

A few days ago, we returned to St. Augustine, Florida, to explore the ancient city some more, to reach back into the history that reflects our heritage. To spend some couple time alone and to celebrate 34 years together, 34 years! That’s more than half my lifetime, but after all this time things certainly go a lot smoother and are far more relaxing and satisfying. The x-ray results were correct. There are changes consistent with age.

St. Augustine.fl

We requested and got the same corner room we’d had last time. The view was amazing and the sound of the ocean mesmerizing.

 

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The Upward Slide

I own a new adjective: hypertensive.

It’s been over a week since I had the eye injection and the sight in my right eye is somewhat improved. It could be coincidence. It could be that time was going to take care of the problem. It could be the Avastin. It could be both.

The reason I can tell it’s better is because when I look at a straight line, the dip in the middle is now minimal. When I follow the line, it undulates as the dip moves along my line of vision. It’s a phenomenon that makes me want to say: Far out, Man.

Before, the line had a steep downward curve past the midline of my vision field. One reason I could not read with that eye, the words were distorted and blurred in the middle. Now I can make out the words, though they are still a little blurred and slightly curvy in the middle.

My new ophthalmologist was immediately concerned about my blood pressure. Though no vital signs were taken at his office, he wanted me to have it checked out. The ophthalmologist I’d been seeing for years never mentioned my blood pressure when he diagnosed me with a retinal hemorrhage. All he said was let me stick a needle in your eye. But this new doctor was persistent and I promised I would.

My BP ran around 110/60 for years and years. Even on the busiest, non-stop days at work, I hardly broke a sweat. “How do you stay so cool?” the other nurses would ask me. “Why raise your blood pressure?” I would respond.

And now, now that I am retired from all those adrenalin rushes and working at something I enjoy when I feel like it, NOW I get high blood pressure? I suppose a contributing factor could be the sedentary aspect of “ass in chair” that writers suffer. Perhaps a standing desk over a treadmill is in order. You’d think all the years on my feet would have immunized me against hypertension.

It took a few years for it to trend up. First 120’s, then 130s and now 140s/80s. I can’t say I didn’t notice it. All the while I was being seen by a doctor every two months for over TEN years. But no comment was made by either one of us. Vitals are taken as part of the ritual. Something to document. Something to prove you’re still around, heart beating. It’s amazing how tunnel vision develops and you end up focusing on one big thing.

RA.

That’s all we saw, every two months. RA and RA-related numbers. The irony is that RA is probably complicit in these numbers as well. All along, my up-and-coming hypertension was hiding in plain sight.

I’m now on Lisinopril 5 mg daily. “It’s a little dose,” my doctor said. He wants me in the 130s. And he wants to check it again in two weeks. He retook my blood pressure himself, with a sphygmomanometer and a stethoscope, though the nurse had already taken it with the blood pressure machine. I liked that he did that. That’s how I started out taking blood pressures on my patients. The good old-fashioned way, where you can trust your own ears and not a mechanical object.

So, heads up: Learn your numbers and talk to your doctor about your blood pressure readings. Stay active and maintain a healthy weight. And if you love salt, cut it out! In all seriousness, I hope no one else has to worry about their BP.

 

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Eye Injection

I went to get a second opinion on the retinal hemorrhage in my right eye. This ophthalmologist said that if I didn’t have the injection within two weeks of the testing he’d have to repeat it. I don’t especially appreciate having dye injected into me, and since I doubt my insurance would pay for a third round of pictures just because I procrastinated, I did.

My son took the afternoon off and treated me to a pleasant lunch before heading to the hospital. The doctor’s office being in the medical arts building reassured me and relieved some of the anxiety.

It’s an office so large the elevator opens right into it and there’s a rope line where you wait to get to the front desk, sort of like at the movies just not as much fun. When I said I was in for a shot, they directed me to an area I’d never been to. That waiting room was full to bursting. My son pointed out the last empty seat to me.

After a moderate wait, I was called in and given information about the procedure plus a consent form to sign. The language reminded me of the long list of possible side effects recited after medication commercials and made me want to say, “I’m outa here.” The same words my son had used when we took him to see Ghostbusters when he was little. He stalked out of the theater without a backwards glance leaving us no choice but to follow him.

This time he would be following me, but I didn’t get out of the chair. Instead I took the pen and wrote my name. No turning back. Even though I still felt like bolting until the moment I was face to face with the doctor.

The assistant had instilled anesthetic drops, followed by a yellowish-tinged solution. “This might sting,” she said. It did and when asked what it was she said, “Betadine.”

“Betadine?” I responded. “In my eye!” Betadine is a brownish-yellow antiseptic solution that we used to prep for surgeries or other invasive procedures.

“Yes, to prep,” she said.

Of course, how stupid of me. I was there for an invasive procedure.

She then applied anesthetic gel all around my eye, in every nook and cranny. “Your eye might feel sticky,” she said. “I like to cover everywhere because he’s going to put a speculum in.”

I’d wondered how exactly he planned to keep my eye open, because there was no way I was going to be able to overcome the reflex to close it when there was a needle coming.

“Now you can go to the waiting room,” she said.

“The waiting room, really?” I thought I’d be left there till the anesthesia took effect.

“There’s two people ahead of you,” she said. “We need to give the anesthesia at least 20 minutes.”

“How long does it last?”

“Thirty minutes to one hour,” she said. “Keep your eye closed.”

I practically felt my way to the now half-empty waiting room. I wanted to check the time, but reaching for my phone seemed like a big bother. I decided to trust that they would get to me before the anesthesia wore off. I closed both eyes and rested my head on my hand. When you can’t beat it, give in.

I was called in again and the doctor was all business, but amiable, shaking my hand, answering my questions. He pushed a button and the chair rotated backwards till I was looking straight up at the ceiling. He put in the speculums, one under each eyelid, then bade me look left while he put in some drops. Then more drops. Then I saw, even though I was looking away from him.

I knew it was time. I felt the sting of the entry, but nothing more. It was a very slight sting, a nanosecond, but I was a trifle disappointed. I’d been told I’d feel nothing.

“You did great,” he said. He gave me instructions on when to call him. I went to check out and the burn began.

My son jumped up. “Your eye is all red,” he said, putting his arm around me. I looked in my compact mirror. Yep, tomato red.

The burn was fierce. I could not keep my eye open. When we got home, I used the artificial tears I’d been given, but they offered little relief. After a while the burn and the redness subsided and all I felt was the presence of a foreign body every time I blinked. It was probably inflammation at the entry site, but it felt like I had a two-by-four in my eye.

That was the worst part of the ordeal and it lasted for over eight hours. He said there would be a black spot at the bottom of my field of vision, and both after effects would be gone “within a day.”  And they were, but I have to say that black spot was freaky.

I’m to go back in four weeks for more pictures (no dye) and probably more medication, depending on how I respond. I’m not looking forward to it, but at least now I know what to expect. And I appreciate his wait-and-see attitude. The first ophthalmologist had told me flat out, “once a month for six months.” It didn’t exactly inspire trust in me as there is no cookie-cutter treatment that’s one-size-fits-all.

 

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Idle Hands

I did an unwitting experiment yesterday. My only intention was a day of rest. It had been a long while since I’d had a day to myself. Normally these are luxuriant days, doing only what I desire to do, but they come few and very far between.

My husband had taken up the challenge of doing the MS Ride once again. 75 miles to Key Largo. And back. On a bike.

Last year he’d said he wasn’t doing it again and I agreed. He’s not exactly 16 anymore; he rides frequently, just not 150 miles in two days’ time. But his company came up with the dough for donation and yesterday he took off at dawn.

I figured since he’d be away all weekend, I’d chill. My daughter and granddaughter, who are staying with us at present, left for the whole day too. I’d kept Alyssa on Friday and we’d worked most of the day on a quilt that she’d designed.

I’d shown her my collection of quilt sketches drawn and colored on graph paper and that made her want to draw her own so that I could make her a blanket she said. I took her scribbles and translated them into alternating squares and rectangles, which she then filled in with color pencils.

It took several days for her to select a fabric from my stash to match each square and rectangle. I then cut them out while she watched. Friday, we took advantage of her staying home from preschool to finish all the cutting and to lay out the pieces on a piece of fleece that I use as a “design wall.” (The cotton fabric sticks to the fleece and provides me with a road map to follow as I sew the pieces together.) It was a busy day that culminated with both us falling asleep early that night.

Yesterday, I slept late and then watched TV all day. Or rather, I glanced at the TV all day while I read. I did make the bed but didn’t get out of it, getting up only to grab breakfast, lunch and dinner. Simple, light meals that required no time at all.

I didn’t feel one smack of guilt for hibernating. Not even a smidgen. In fact, I didn’t feel much of anything until late in the evening when I was preparing to pour some green tea and the ice cubes fell through my fingers. I had a bunch in my hand transferring them from the ice container in the freezer to my glass and then, they were all over the floor.

My husband hates that I do that instead of using the ice dispenser on the door, but it’s so noisy I prefer to just open the freezer and grab a handful. Normally it goes smoothly, but this time I was left staring at shards of ice splayed around me on the floor.

Why had I dropped them? Why had the ice cubes slithered through my fingers so easily? The day before I’d been wielding a lethal rotary cutter slicing through 64 different fabrics with exacting precision.

I flexed my hands and noted that my fingers were stiff and swollen. They felt as if I’d just woken up. But it was the evening, when my fingers are supposed to be most nimble.

But my hands didn’t know it was evening. My hands didn’t know they were supposed to be loosened up by then. They only knew that they’d done next to nothing all day. That they’d been mostly at rest as if the night had extended on through the day. The most intricate thing they’d done was to hold a phone, a tablet or a TV controller.

There’d been no fine motor functions expected of them. No cooking, no housework, no driving, no typing, no writing, no sewing. In essence, there’d been no wake-up call for them at all.

Why did it take me till evening to notice? I have no idea. Maybe I was enjoying the idleness too much. But one thing was definitely reinforced by my inaction. Idle hands become frozen hands.

Quilting

Placing down the pieces, one by one.

Proudly done!

Proudly done!

My fabric stash, or rather part of it.

My fabric stash, or rather, part of it.

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Tall and Straight

Life throws you curveballs making you scramble to figure out how to handle them. Do you catch them or evade them?

In the middle of personal tumult, you reach for what or who is handy to give you comfort. It could be a person you are close to, your spouse, your child, your sister, brother, cousin.

Sometimes, when the hurt is too deep, or when it’s too difficult to relate to anyone or for anyone to relate to, we might find comfort and solace in an artistic rendering. In an artist whose beautiful artwork lets you melt into the scene they painted and allows you to leave the pain or the heartache behind. If only for that moment.

Sometimes it’s a book whose author has written in such a way that it swallows you whole, so completely that you forget the here and now. A book that you can touch and hold and smell its papery scent. A book whose spine sits tall and straight on a bookshelf waiting for you, as an example of how you should stand up to adversity, tall and straight.

Sometimes it’s a film, or a TV show that allows you that escape, that makes you laugh or even more movingly, makes you cry, and therefore forget your own pain. You reach for that helping of relief time and again. You buy the movie, or watch all the reruns that you can, taking a breather from what hurts.

And sometimes it’s an actor’s portrayal of a character that reaches out and escorts you into their world. That grabs your consciousness and never lets go. Years, decades pass and that character stays the same, always there, bringing you a dollop of delight, dependable in their sameness. The world around you might twist and tilt threatening to jettison you without warning, but this character, this story, affords you a reprieve. It may only be for a little while, but it doesn’t matter because you know you can visit with them again.

One such presence for me was Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock on the original Star Trek.  He was always so stoic. So rational. So logical. He was a bastion upon which Captain Kirk could hang his hat, a solid presence who would always be there for him no matter how much trouble he got himself into. He could violate the Prime Directive knowing that Spock would back him up or help him face the repercussions. He could flirt with all the women of the galaxies knowing that Spock was there to take command just in case he ended up tying knots that could not then be unraveled. Spock was his unfaltering second in all that he did.

I loved Captain Kirk, but I revered Mr. Spock. He stood like a book, tall and straight. He carried planets’ worth of strength and knowledge on his slim shoulders. He was resourceful and unerring, mostly. And when necessary, he knew how to bend so that he would never break. I wanted a friend like him, but most of all, I wanted to be like him.

I know there’s a new Spock now, but there will always be only one Spock for me.

Rest in peace, Leonard Nimoy.

Live long and prosper, Mr. Spock.

 

***I had the ultimate pleasure of hearing Leonard Nimoy speak at my daughter’s college graduation. Today, I was sorry to hear that he had died.

 

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Gratified

Ever since I was diagnosed with a retinal hemorrhage in my right eye seven weeks ago, I’ve been wondering what my rheumatologist would have to say about it. I requested that a copy of my test results be sent to him from the ophthalmologist’s office. The main things I ascertained with the ophthalmologist at that time was that, yes, I could fly, as I had two trips pending. And yes, there was a 50/50 chance that it would clear up on its own.

Though I’ve been seen by this group for years, I was not comfortable following through on their suggested treatment, intraocular injections. Perhaps it’s unfair of me to say so, but they didn’t inspire confidence in me, not the kind where I would willingly subject myself, and my eye, to their prescribed treatment.

Since I did have the upcoming trips, I decided to lay low, go on about my business and wait to see what would happen. I knew I ran the risk of it worsening. As the ophthalmologist stated, “You might end up doing the shots just to get back to where you are now.”

The fact of the matter is that I see almost perfectly, when my left eye is compensating of course. When I close the left eye, it appears that I am seeing through a smudged glass door, not the whole door is smudged, just the top center portion. And with my new glasses for distance, it’s like I’m seeing 3D, as I told my son making him laugh. But as the optometrist told me, “I can’t fix what’s going on with the right eye.”

My readers (expensive compared to the 20-dollar-over-the-counter kind) don’t seem to afford me better vision than the 20-dollar-over-the-counter kind. I find that they are great when reading on my tablet or my phone, but not so great when reading on my laptop. I use an old cheap pair for that. In fact any old cheap pair as I have a pair in every room of the house. I’m not sure why the difference, perhaps it’s the distance from the screen. Who knows?

But that is what is most concerning to me, my ability to read. When I close my left eye, the words are blurred at the top and clear at the bottom. It’s possible to read, but difficult. I can’t imagine not being able to read at all. I’ve always read. As far as my memory goes, I’ve read. I don’t live one day without reading, ever.

My rheumatologist was concerned about this development and asked if the ophthalmologist had mentioned it having any relation to RA. I told him he’d said that we’d have to “work real hard to find a connection between the two.”

He agreed that I should get a second opinion and referred me to a retinal specialist he knows. Since I trust my rheumatologist implicitly, I feel I already trust this new specialist without ever having laid eyes on him. But that’s a good start. We shall see what he has to say and go from there.

Of note, my labs were all normal with two exceptions. My CRP was slightly elevated, but that usually is. It bounces up and down depending on what I don’t know. My left wrist is still bothering me, though it’s not persistent RA pain. I know what that’s like and that’s not what’s happening here.

But there is definite swelling on the left side of the inner wrist. While examining it, he turned it this way and that, twisting my fingers into a pretzel and bending my wrist in all directions without it causing a bit of pain. But then he pressed down on the swollen part and yes, that hurt!

I’ve been on very small weaning doses of Prednisone for over two months, and I would think that the wrist would have gotten worse, and the CRP higher, but there’s been no effect on it whatsoever. It’s not worse but it’s not better, so I’m to have it x-rayed. Perhaps it’s osteoarthritis because it’s not acting like RA at all.

The other abnormal lab was my white blood cell count; apparently it’s high and he wants me to repeat it in a week’s time. I explained that while I was with Carmen she caught a cold and gifted it to me. It’s been ten days now with cold symptoms, but it does take me a while to shrug these things off.

He wasn’t to be swayed from repeating the lab test even after I explained the probable cause for the WBCs being elevated. So here we go, another needle poke, but at least I’m gratified to learn my immune system does work. Somewhat.

 

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System Glitches

I went to spend a week with my precious little Carmen. I tried to keep up with my reading while I was gone, hard do to with a two-year-old commanding all your attention, and I went with no illusions of being able to post anything. By the time I got to my room at the end of the day I was pooped and ready to recoup for another twelve-hour day. I took only my tablet with me, which is serviceable for reading but not very user-friendly for writing; it’s gotten slower than molasses. I’ve now replaced it with a new one. This one is Speedy Gonzales compared to the old one.

My laptop is on its way out as well. I hope I didn’t jinx it by typing that. It’s my writing tool and I have no idea what to replace it with. I don’t want to be rushed into anything so I suppose I will have to shop around and make a decision. That way I will be ready when it never comes back from its update, which it’s threatened to do a couple of times but the Geek Squad coaxed it back.

I, on the other hand, managed to come back from my overnight updates every dawn without any coaxing. Come 7 a.m., I was ready to go. There was only one application on my personal hard drive that wasn’t (isn’t) up to par; the one that powers my left wrist. At least I can give thanks it isn’t my left foot.

I’ve learned to compensate for it, though, by instinctively using techniques that spare the full use of my wrist. After all, I’ve had since August to come up with a plan B to circumvent this little glitch in the system.

It did hurt more than usual, at times giving me sharp, continuous, stabbing pains that made me imagine I was reliving a variant of the Psycho shower scene, music and all. I would grit my teeth and groan while grabbing my wrist and pressing down on the swollen part through the brace I wore. Somehow that made it feel better after a bit, or it could have been my imagination still at work.

Poor Carmen would stare at me with her big, hazel eyes and say, “Your arm hurts, ‘huela?” “Yes, baby,” I’d squeak out, pushing on my wrist with all the strength my right hand could muster.

But I remained on weaning doses of Prednisone. Never once was I tempted to increase the dose to give myself a hit, or I should say, an extra hit. In fact, I only took an extra week’s worth with me just in case, which amounted to a mere 25 mg that I never took. But it truly wasn’t all that brave of me to leave the whole bottle behind. My doctor is a phone call away and CVS is ubiquitous.

The week flew by when I measure it by Carmen time. When I measure it by work pending, it moved along at a turtle’s pace. But all good things must and do come to an end. I’m back at my desk and running at full steam. If only my laptop deigns to keep up with me. One thing for sure, there’s no rise of the machines here.

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