Monthly Archives: January 2013

I Storm Electric

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome. Am I weird or what? For all the typing that I do, I should have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome instead. But, that is what Dr. R., my rheumatologist, says.

Only after researching it, I’m not so sure. I don’t have many of the supposed symptoms. My ankle doesn’t hurt, my toes don’t hurt, my foot is not swollen, my leg is not painful. In fact, the only symptom I have is the positive Tinel’s sign.  “A tingling electric shock sensation that occurs when you tap over an affected nerve.” (Wiki)

I have that in spades. This morning I scooted up on the bed to see if the gardener was in my back yard, and Yowza! The top of my foot pressed against the bed and instead of green grass I saw stars. Not sure what color those were.

He wants to see me in six weeks, as opposed to the normal two month interval. I suppose given time, I might develop those other symptoms. His plan is to do nothing, but wait till then. And if it doesn’t get better, he’ll stick a needle in there, by my ankle. Oooh!

“I’ll think about it,” I said.

I’ll go along with his plan and wait. But, I think if I need needles stuck in my foot, I may go to the man who knows my feet intimately, Dr. L. He’s such a trip.

For now, I’m just happy that my foot doesn’t bother me 24/7. And only my strappy sandals cause me pain. I can walk, I can dance, I can pedal my bike at 20 miles an hour.

So I give thanks. And hopefully, this case of neuralgia resolves itself, as Dr. R. said it might. I will think good thoughts. I don’t need any more electrical impulses shooting through me.

(Note: I had reserved this title for a series of naughty poems I’m writing. I couldn’t resist using it here. Should I post them, they will go in my other blog. I will advise. Hey, whatever gets you through the day!)

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Dancing Away, Away, Away

Wouldn’t you know it. Just when I get in the mood to go dancing, my foot starts acting up. I haven’t been out dancing in a few months, what with my trip to see my new grandchild and then the holidays, and then all my deadlines cropping up. Every time my husband brought it up, I was like, “No, not tonight.” And no, I didn’t have a headache.

Now I have both a foot ache and an itch to go dancing. I can dance fine, at home, barefoot. But, I don’t think I can go out that way. I’ve been relegated to using my daughter’s left-behind flip-flops for the past few days. Normally, I can’t stand anything between my toes, but I have to suck it up.

Today I had to go visit the vampires in preparation for my rheumatology appointment next week. Gotta keep tabs on all those pesky little numbers that tell you if your meds are helping or hindering. I didn’t want to go out in flip-flops, as nice as these are. So, I tried my tennis shoes and wallah! they didn’t hurt! It made me fall further in love with those shoes.

They cradle my feet and I can walk without having to favor my right foot. The foot is still sore, but tolerable. As long as nothing presses down on the top of it. As happened the other night in my sleep, when I pressed it against the bed. Almost jumped out of my skin, let alone the bed. Next week I’ll consult with my rheumatologist, see if I can play with the steroids some more. Anything to avoid the podiatrist. I go to the doctor enough already.

Now I just want to go dancing.There’s nothing like losing yourself to the music and leaving your earthly cares behind. The beat pounding in your ears, the music flowing up from the floor through your body, filling your lungs, racing through your bloodstream. The ice clinking in your drink as you sway, sway, sway, unable to stand still. Letting go, you close your eyes and are transported away, away, away. So far away you don’t want to come back.

As JLo says:

Dance the night away
Live your life and stay young on the floor
Dance the night away

Tonight we gon’ be it on the floor

Well, not tonight exactly, but this weekend maybe. I’ll have to figure out what shoes to wear with my slinky little dress. It can’t be my tennis shoes. But then again, maybe I’ll start a new trend?

Double Drat

A few days ago, I woke up and hit the ground running as I usually do. I don’t mean to imply it was at the crack of dawn. I’m a night owl, sometimes up till 3 a.m. when I get involved with whatever I’m reading, writing or studying. After my “morning” ablutions, I stuck my feet in my sandals and proceeded to walk out of my room.

My brain was aswirl with all the deadlines I had pending, finish writing an exam, critique an article, plan a Chinese New Year‘s quilt and finish a Christmas quilt that was promised, ye gods! for Christmas. As I walked out of my room, there was pain in my right foot. But it didn’t really register. The pain was like the squeak of a mouse clamoring to make itself heard above the roar of lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

It wasn’t until a few hours later when I got out of my car and gave that first step to cross the parking lot that the pain shot high enough to solidify in my brain. Surprised, I immediately began to favor my right foot as my nursing assessment skills automatically kicked in.

It couldn’t be my shoes. I’d just been bragging to my husband how comfortable they were. “Most shoes begin to bother me after an hour or so,” I’d said to him. “But these, I can wear all day long.”

“They’re Eccos,” he’d said, as if that settled the matter.

The day before I’d been dancing and jumping around the living room to my favorite reggaeton music. Dancing is one of my preferred methods of exercise. And since I had my granddaughter with me it doubled the fun. My feet were fine while I gyrated barefoot for almost an hour.

What could it be, I wondered? How did I hurt my foot and not know it? How was it that the feather-light suede strap across my foot was suddenly intolerable? As I limped up and down the grocery aisles it four-letter-word hit me. Neuroma! But no, it couldn’t be!

Back home, I managed to unload the car while dodging my demanding 17-year-old cat, Tigress. She can be so annoying when she wants something, wrapping herself around your feet. Once done, I kicked off my sandals and pressed down on the top of my foot below my third and fourth toes. And zing! An exquisitely painful electrical impulse shot forward and the side of the toes facing each other went numb.

It had to be another case of Morton’s Neuroma. I’d suffered from that many moons ago. I knew the drill, but even so I looked it up. One treatment is administering cortisone shots, which is how I’d been treated. The other was surgery. No, thanks.

Me, being me, I decided to up my Prednisone dose. Do a hit and run like my rheumatologist suggested, take a bolus dose and then wean down, all within six days. “It’s easy with you,” he’d said, smiling. “Cause you know what you’re doing.”

Yeah, a little ignorance could bring some much needed bliss my way.

I really, really don’t want to go see my podiatrist again. Last time I saw him was eighteen months ago when he had to cut away an ingrown toenail. I’d spent the year exercising my brains out and since my left foot twists in a little, it can make my second toe lie up against and partly under my big toe with continued stress. I didn’t know the nail was going to end up forcibly embedded, else I would have eased up on my activities.

I’m still smarting from the shot he gave me to numb my foot prior to taking what looked like a pair of pliers to it. It hurt so bad, I called a friend. But, after six or seven follow-up visits, he patted my foot and said, “That’s it. You’re all cured now.”

“You mean the relationship is over?”

“Yes,” he said, still sitting by my feet. “It’s over.” Then we both laughed.

Believe me, I never wanted a relationship to be over so badly. And now it looks like I might have to set up another date(s). I’m not at all interested in receiving his “caresses.” They’re delivered at the end of a needle while I lie in a pseudo dentist chair.

Double drat on that!

Agoraphobia

Standing in the lobby of the multiplex, the word hits me like a cement wall. Agoraphobia. I find myself instinctively dodging the oncoming and bypassing foot traffic. I glide hither and yon as people approach, concentrating on keeping several feet of distance between myself and others. As the crowd ebbs and flows around me, I bob and weave like a buoy swaying with the waves.

My hand tightens around the paper cup of chocolaty coffee and I glance down to make sure it’s not spilling. The sickeningly sweet odor wafts up to me and I cringe. How can he drink this stuff? Mentally I tick off the seconds as I size up everyone who comes near. My anxiety rises making the couple of minutes I wait seem like eons.

Finally my husband exits the bathroom; I hand him his coffee cup and we proceed to our particular theater. In a dark sea of red, I follow him up and up and up the carpeted stairs. As though sensing my need, he selects seats in the center of a row with no one else close by. I’m relieved to see this theater sparsely populated.

Why am I afraid of being in a crowd? I don’t want to catch what it might be offering. This year’s flu is making itself felt throughout the country. New York has declared an emergency and I visualize my daughter trapped twice a day in the tubular sardine can that is the subway. “Keep hand sanitizer on you at all times,” I warn her. “Don’t touch your eyes or mouth unless you know your hands are clean.”

I’ve already decided I will hop a plane, recycled air and all, and go to her if she gets ill. The mother instinct will protect me. But, I have a sneaky feeling that if she gets sick, she won’t even tell me till she’s better. Kids. Anyhow, it makes me feel better to know I have Plan A in place. Plan B is to stay home and worry.  Wait, that’s always Plan A.

You would think if she was ill I’d want to stay away. But as a mother, I traveled within a force field making me, in my mind at least, invincible. Mind over matter. History shows that even when the whole family was lying about sick as dogs, Mommy just kept on going and going like the Energizer Bunny. Who had time to stop and be sick!

But now I’m an empty nester and I have plenty of time. Plenty of time to think and imagine. Imagine how the virus slithers toward me while growing exponentially like The Blob. I know my force field has sustained some damage, courtesy of RA. Holes have been ripped through. It is no longer impermeable to danger, in my mind or in fact.  How will my immune system stand up to this current mutation of a virus? I don’t want to find out.

Y’all stay healthy now.

Actions Speak Louder Than Nouns

My previous post being a self-description in verbs prompted me to think of the nouns that reflect who I am. I was not surprised to find far fewer words for my list. Proof that you can call yourself whatever you want, but it’s what you do that shows who you are. And what am I?

Nurse. Mother. Grandmother. Wife. Lover. Friend. Counselor. Confidant. Writer. Reader. Researcher. Editor. Reviewer. Student. Teacher. Housekeeper. Cook. Planner. Buyer. Dancer. Dreamer. Designer. Quilter. Seamstress. Neighbor. Witness (to the world around me).

This is not a narcissistic exercise, but more a flexing of the character-development muscles. Action determines who you are and so what better way to paint a portrait of your characters than by using verbs. How better to explain their personality, idiosyncrasies and tendencies than by showing what they do?

Who and what the characters are matters to story as well, but not as much as what they do. One could say that verbs give life meaning. Verbs give life. Imagine reading a story where nobody does anything. Or anything of consequence. How long would that keep your attention?

In my fiction writing studies during the past six months, I kept hearing the same thing over and over. Build a strong character, make her want something and then make her suffer before she gets it (happy ending) or doesn’t get it (tragedy). During the course of this suffering, she has to fight little battles until she gets to the one big major battle that will determine what her life will be from then on, or if it will even be.

Thinking about all this made me see myself as a character. And what better way to practice than to put yourself under a linguistic microscope, if you will, for the sake of learning. Besides, didn’t Socrates say the unexamined life is not worth living?

Doing this “examination” was somewhat of a revelation. A positive one. It helped me see that though I faced many hurdles along the way, as most of us do, I managed to do a lot. And I know that my monster battle, what makes me suffer, is RA. That battle is locked and the winner shall be determined one day.

But meanwhile, I’m still here. Alive and kicking! Ready to write more and continue with my studies. I was tempted to do adjectives, but I won’t. And adverbs, forget it. Those -ly words are persona non grata, though personally I feel they have their uses. Oops, I said ‘personally.’

Self-Portrait in Verbs

While reading Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch, Let Verbs Power Your Writing by Constance Hale, I couldn’t help but wonder; who am I in verbs?

Care. Love. Value. Invest. Hug. Kiss. Worry. Hurt. Hunger. Hope. Pine. Cry. Rejoice. Expect. Wish. Babysit. Laugh. Play.

Plan. Sew. Crochet. Quilt. Design. Construct. Volunteer. Help. Donate.

Walk. Bike. Dance. Drive. Shop. Spend. Save. Enjoy. Cook. Clean. Eat. Drink. Celebrate. Share

See. Hear. Speak. Object. Flout. Argue. Understand. Empathize. Sympathize. Simplify. Clarify. Complicate. Resolve. Lend. Borrow.

Murmur. Mutter. Whisper. Shout. Madden. Sadden. Gladden. Reminisce. Feel. Fear. Respond. Need. Want. Despair. Fold. Rest. Sleep. Dream. Imagine. Fantasize. Wonder.

Procrastinate. Text. Email. Avoid. Sit. Work. Write. Rewrite. Read. Research. Compile. Compose. Edit. Agonize. Learn. Study. Critique. Review. Collect. Envy. Aspire. Appreciate. Wander. Travel. Blog. Remember. Forget.

Teach. Manage. Encourage. Support. Mentor. Listen. Calm. Give. Advise. Counsel.

Pray. Question. Doubt. React. Accept. Think. Live. Breathe. Survive. Wait. Tolerate. Confer. Consult. Ache, Ail. Medicate. Limp (upon occasion).

Words

I see the beginning of another year as though it were a new journal. An untouched, immaculate journal offering 365 silken, virgin pages waiting to be filled. Its leather cover soft, pliable and devoid of fingerprints. It is unmarked, raw and fresh, and cries out for words to be written upon it. Words of all types: kind words, angry words, sad words, happy words. Words of hope as well as words of despair. Words offering solace and words inflicting pain, even though we might not wish it to be so.

An unbiased witness, this journal awaits to capture life as we perceive it. To act as a steadfast friend offering us the ephemeral chance to write another chapter in our book of life. Perhaps even to rewrite a previous one so that we might yet give it the heretofore unattainable happy ending.

What words will we write in this new journal?

What words will this New Year make us write?

Conversation Without End

Once long ago, I saw a billboard coming home from Miami Beach. It was an ad for something, and it said: A conversation with a beginning and a middle, and no end.

Those words touched my very soul, for I felt lost then and needed a friend. One that would have that conversation with me, one without end.

Today, I feel I have achieved that interaction. I have started a conversation, with a beginning and a middle. Right here on this blog. I am truly grateful for all my readers, and am amazed that it’s getting hits from around the world. I am humbled that my voice can carry that far.  I want the conversation to continue as long as I am able to keep it going, without end.

And after much thought, I’ve decided that I will not change the name of this blog; I will only improve its presentation. I will continue to use it as a forum to write about RA in general and life in particular. There is much to share and discuss regarding this nemesis we must face every sunrise and every sunset. But, we shall meet it on our terms. Always.