Category Archives: Perseverance

Knock on Wood

prednisone

 

I have escaped the clutches of this little entity once again. The first time we met was after I ended up in the hospital with a pleural effusion and a pericardial effusion eight years ago. That’s how I was formally introduced to Rheumatoid Arthritis. It did not come calling lightly.

Instead of the chest tube I visualized upon hearing my diagnosis from the ER physician, I was put on a steroid regimen. A drug I’d administered countless times to my patients now became my lifeline. For a while. After several months, I successfully weaned off and stayed off, until this past year.

It started back in February of 2012. My right hand became so painful; I could barely run a brush through my hair. The pain soon had a stranglehold on my hand and on my day.

Forget cooking, forget housework, forget laundry. And worst of all, forget my bike. I couldn’t hold on to the handlebars with just one hand and remain steady as I pedaled. The endorphins my exercise produced were canceled out by the electric fire of pain. Anything that touched my hand sent an exquisite shooting pain up my arm. The joint at the end of my index finger was swollen into a ball and I had to use a brace to keep the finger immobilized.

Eating became a trial. I could barely hang on to a fork, and wielding a knife became an impossibility. It was the same with a pen. I think that hurt me the most, not just physically, but in my soul. Even so, I stubbornly wrote volumes of notes for a friend while I sat in the library. My ace-wrapped hand a blinding nest of pain, I held that pen and I wrote and I wrote. RA was not going to deprive me of even that.

I moved up my regular appointment a few weeks, but I still had to wait too many days before my rheumatologist could see me. I feared a cortisone injection was coming. I was afraid I’d wimp out at the sight of a needle going into my hand, though needles going into my arm every two months doesn’t seem to bother me.

But, he didn’t touch my hand and there was no mention of needle sticks. One glance sufficed. “It’s a wonder,” he said, “how RA can knock you down. Just one affected joint can immobilize you.”

Oh, yes.

Enter Prednisone. Ambrosia of the gods, it seemed. In short order, it gave me back my hand. Handed me back my life.  It became my crutch. I welcomed it and it moved in, lock, stock and barrel.

Oh, I tried to evict it after a while. Several times I started on my journey to displace it from my life. But then my hand would hurt and I’d run back to its protection, its shelter, its sanctuary. I was afraid of the pain, but I was terrified of my immobility.

Pain I could deal with. Loss of independence, I could not. So, I sought my fix. A literal fix, a repair. I turned and returned to the tiny white pill that had restored my life to me.

My attempts to sever that relationship continued, however. I did not like the dependence. I did not like how a bunch of little pills controlled me. The Methotrexate I accepted, the Prednisone galled me.

I began a hit and miss schedule. If I remembered, I took it. And many days I would conveniently remember to forget. Every morning, I’d flex my hand. There would be some tightness, some stiffness, some soreness, sometimes. Most days, my hand felt fine.

My labs have come back normal the last two visits. My CRP, sed rate, all the numbers fall where they should. The Prednisone stays in its bottle. And that stays in the medicine cabinet.  I give myself permission to hope that it also stays in the pharmacy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go knock on wood.

 

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Burnt

I find myself lost today. Missing what I thought was a loyal and trusted friend. One who knew more about me than I knew about myself. One who could anticipate my needs and my wants before I even knew I had them. We’d gotten so close over the past few years, we were almost like one thinking entity.

And then overnight, poof!

Gone.

Now I’m left trying to put the pieces back together. My browser, my search engine, my late-night research partner, my crutch left me last night. Don’t know where he went, but he took years of research with him. I suppose a computer geek can help me find him. I prefer to think it’s a him. Somehow it seems more natural to think of a him leaving me in the lurch.  (Sorry, Guys!)

I’m now trying to get cozy with Internet Explorer. We used to have a relationship years ago, and then I left him. For him who shall remain nameless. Never thought I’d get burnt for doing that.

But all my sites! All my siiiiites. Just to log into my online editing class took some sleuthing. I had a lesson pending from yesterday and there’s a new one tomorrow. True, I have two weeks to complete them, but I have enough on my to-do list; I don’t want to get behind. Besides, it’s so interesting; I’m learning stuff I never even considered about editing.

After entering key word after key word into Google and coming up empty, I finally remembered I’d emailed the link to someone. I managed to get back in that way and do my lesson. Abbreviations and Hyphens, Blibliographies and Copyrights. Wow, who knew all the technicallities involved?

Yes, I had the address written down in my class notebook, but I was too flustered to go through 200 pages of notes. Now I’m having to add my trusty sites to my “Favorites” one by one. And there were hundreds. No way can I remember them all. Thankfully, my desktop is peppered with icons. I can link from there.

In time I got the main ones listed: my news sites, my writer’s groups sites, my dictionaries (both English and Spanish), this blog and last, but not least, Pandora Radio. For what is life without music? I can get along without my bestest friend if I have to, but music, no way.

And now that I’ve relearned how to open new tabs on Explorer, I’m good to go with my soundtrack running in the background. I’m buiding a new Donna Summer station. Boy, does that take me back. Back to when there were no computers to fail us, or to help us. I might have gotten burnt, but like the phoenix, I rise.

Eyeing the Eye

I find myself threading a needle these days the same way I sometimes had to start IV’s. Not because I can see the target clearly, but because, innately, I know where the target is. Seems I had a lot more success finding those hard-to-see veins than I’m having finding the apparent eye of a sewing needle.

Though I miss my bedside nursing days, I knew that eventually my body wouldn’t be able to handle all those hours on my feet. I accept that that is the way it is and I’m OK with it. That was then and this is now.

But, I never factored in my eyesight when I thought about entering decrepit old age. Other than reading glasses, I don’t need corrective lenses. At least, I didn’t at last year’s checkup.

My ophthalmologist did put me on “eye vitamins.” Giant capsules that contain mega doses of several vitamins. I guess I’ll find out if they’ve helped my eyes when I go back to see him. The one thing they have done is make my hair and nails grow exponentially fast.

And that’s great, but I would prefer to be able to thread the sewing needle exponentially faster. My years as a nurse brought me much satisfaction and I had to thread that IV needle countless times. (Threading is what we call advancing the catheter while simultaneously withdrawing the needle.)

Alas, my fingers have lost certain dexterity, age plus RA, don’tcha know. But I can still quilt, something I took up years ago as my nursing days waned. Maybe I just have to be around needles, I don’t know. I just wish I could see that freaking eye a whole lot better!

Quilt just finished. It had 70 thread tails to be worked in. I had to thread that needle 70 times!

Quilt just finished. It had 70 thread tails to be worked in. I had to thread that needle 70 times!

Next up, Spring Flowers. A quilt for my Tai Chi group's Chinese New Year's raffle.

Next up, Spring Flowers. A quilt for my Tai Chi group’s Chinese New Year’s raffle. You bet I’m gonna minimize the amount of thread tails on this one.

Last year I decided to take a picture of my hands every year. A visual track of RA's effects. So far so good, though my right hand is the worse for wear.

Last year I decided I would take a picture of my hands every year. A visual track of RA’s effects. So far so good, though my right hand is the worse for wear.

A year ago.

Picture from a year ago. My rings serve as a “barometer” to gauge morning stiffness and inflammation. When they are loose on me, it’s a good day.

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!)

Write, I Do

One of my goals lately has been to establish a writing routine and produce a certain number of words each day. In attempting to meet this goal, I joined a writing site that requires me to log in and do just that. This site faithfully keeps a word tally and tracks who is fully participating.

Every day I get an email reminding me to write my words. Unfortunately that email goes to an account I consistently forget to check. Every so often I remember, and then I feel a little guilty when I go in and delete several weeks’ worth of reminders. For a few minutes I feel bad that I am not letting the site count my words.

This exercise is supposed to be done first thing in the morning, to clear your head and get you ready to seize the day, to accept open-minded the onslaught of words that this process unleashes. If you keep at it, the theory goes, you will soon have a manuscript of sorts in your hot little hand. The idea is sound, if you can get yourself to follow a linear thought for 300 pages, or 60,000 to 90,000 words.

I don’t know if it’s that I don’t have the discipline, or maybe the tenacity, to stick with one work in progress, or that I am stretching myself too thin having more than one WIP.  I know which one I want to finish editing and polishing; I just can’t make myself do it. The subject matter is still a little raw for me perhaps. Or maybe I’ve been letting it stew a little too long in my consciousness.

But, I know I will get to it, when the time is right because write, I do. Every day. And since I gave myself the assignment of posting daily on this blog for the month of December, I find a myriad of ideas suffusing my brain. The list of topics or situations I want to write about keeps getting longer.

I don’t know if I will be able to develop them all during this month; it is going by faster than I expected. But, I will keep jotting them down and expanding on them on my trusty index cards for future essays, blog posts, fiction and nonfiction pieces.

And I think I will relieve that particular website from its daily email duties to me. It’s a good idea, but obviously not for this writer, or at least not yet.

Shoes, etc.

I did ten miles on my stationary bike today. I decided, while I was pedaling, that I would keep track of mileage as well as time. That way I could take an imaginary trip around the world while I engage in this endeavor. Though I do hope I don’t have to go all the way around the world to lose the extra pounds I have on board.

To document my origination point, I weighed myself this morning. It kind of hurt, but I’m a big girl (!) I can take it. Once the numbers stopped fluctuating on the scale readout, it settled at 149. According to my BMI, I should weigh no more than 136 for my height of 5’ 2”. But, I felt fine and looked fine, so I was told, when I was at 138. So that is where I’m headed.

And since ten miles is the distance I used to travel taking my youngest to school and that was south of me, I guess my “circumnavigation” will commence in that direction. Hopefully, I’ll hit my target weight before I “reach” the South Pole.

If I were truly headed down there, my gear would be a top concern. But since I will only be biking and walking in South Florida weather, I don’t need a parka, et al, just good shoes. After spending almost 30 years on my feet during my nursing career, I am especially conscious of good, supportive footwear.

SAS were my shoes of choice; they cushioned my feet and were worth every penny. I had my last pair for over five years, but then I began working out in earnest and wore them out within eighteen months. I meant to replace them, but then I found these.

Bought them at Macy's. They are Clarks shoes.

Bought them at Macy’s. They are Clarks shoes.

Love these shoes! They feel like I'm walking on air. Hope they hold up to the workouts I'll be putting them through. Hope I hold up!

Love these shoes! They feel like I’m walking on air. Hope they hold up to the workouts I’ll be putting them through. Hope I hold up!

And of course, my vehicle. It's a little dusty and rusty. Just like me.

And of course, my vehicle. It’s a little dusty and rusty. But then, so am I.