Tag Archives: Positive Thinking

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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Sigh-

-atica.

The beast has been tamed. Though not altogether vanquished, its growls have been reduced to whimpers.

I had a total of four physical therapy sessions that boiled downed to learning some exercises to strengthen the muscles of my legs and limit pressure on the sciatic nerve itself. They all happened before I flew to Los Angeles exactly three weeks ago, a five-hour plane ride that I was dreading, and which dread spurred me to hurry up and do something!

The flights were not fun, there and back, but were thankfully direct so were over and done with as quickly as humanly possible. Aisle seats helped a lot as I didn’t have to maneuver that tiny space between seat rows.

Sitting hurt, but standing up hurt worse. At least, for that first step or two. I managed to get through the four days we were there fairly well. The ache a dull roar down my leg. But I’m very glad we went because we got to see my father-in-law in good spirits, and albeit with a cane, walking better than I was.

I held off taking Prednisone during the trip, but after flying back on a redeye, and with the three-hour time difference, the jet lag threatened to bury me. So I caved and did a six-day hit (20, 20, 10, 10, 5, 5 mg). That did the trick and also soothed away the egregious pain, for the most part.

I remain quite conscious of that leg, or that nerve, I should say. I turn over in bed with great caution. The wrong move sent an electrifying jolt down my leg and left a painful residue behind. For hours and sometimes for the whole rest of the day or night.

I’m careful not to sit too long either, which kind of puts a kink in the works since I work sitting down. I keep hearing my PCP’s admonition as he scribbled away on his Rx pad, “Don’t sit!”

This has also put my home downsizing project on hold. No more climbing the stepladder, no more lifting heavy books, no more pushing furniture around. Now I look at our record collection longingly. Yes, vinyl records, about 200 or more taking up space. They need to go into another room where I can’t see them anymore, as I’m not allowed to get rid of them. I guess I could carry them there one by one. Two by two.

Since I couldn’t sit and I couldn’t lift, I turned to culling my photo collection, and framing some of my more treasured moments. This fun trip down my personal memory lane was facilitated by using my cutting table as a work area. It’s high enough that I can stand and cut out countless quilt pieces without incurring miserable lower back pain.

I have not returned to PT, though they’ve been calling me. I don’t see the need. I should probably tell them that. I think I derived enough from those sessions to basically practice prophylaxis and prevent another attack of sciatica in future.

Still, I thought more info wouldn’t hurt so I bought a book last night. It’s written by a sciatica sufferer and at a whopping $4.99 for an eBook, I expected a lot more than I got. True, clinically, I realized I would know quite a bit, but at the very least I expected something that couldn’t be read in one sitting. What was even more disappointing is that it could have used some editing and a whole lot of proofreading. It feels like I threw my money away, but I guess, caveat emptor.

Though my screaming leg has shushed, I remain vigilant. And for now on standby, with a bag mentally packed. We have received word that my father-in-law is failing. He has battled multiple myeloma for several years and it appears his time is near.

graduation

Big Al with us at my husband’s graduation from Texas A&M Maritime Academy. A long, long time ago. 

A Terminal Case of Butterfingers

No, I don’t mean the candy bar. Though I haven’t had one in about a thousand years (Ok, I exaggerate), I can still savor the crumbly, peanut-buttery taste that slowly dissolves in your mouth. Unless you crunch down and chew it away quickly. And who wants that?

I refer to actual fingers. Mine, to be exact. And I suppose those of many others who deal with some form of arthritis. In my case, both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

OA comes from wear and tear. And after thirty years of mostly bedside nursing, raising children, and keeping house my hands are worn and torn. Not visually, mind you. Visually, they’ve held up pretty well.

But inside, oh, inside they hide the impact of their hard work.

Now RA comes uninvited. Unbidden, as I referred to it in one of my poems. I’m not sure when mine came knocking, but it was formally introduced to me in 2004. Ten years this relationship has lasted. Ten official years of living together.

The first thing I noticed, the first physical thing, other than a generalized malaise and lethargy, was the declining agility and flexibility of my hands. They seemed to be stuffed with cotton. Or stuffed in several layers of mittens. Mittens, not gloves.

Suddenly, the people behind me at the grocery check-out line had to wait patiently while my clumsy fingers dug out small coins from my wallet. Even the bills seemed to be stuck together in a way they’d never been before. I’d always paid cash with the correct change for my groceries. Something my father taught me, I suppose.

No one said anything, but I could feel the eyes on me as they waited. And waited. I began to feel self-conscious about it and that made the going even slower. My heart beat at a higher rate as my turn approached to lay my things on the conveyor belt.

It’s silly, isn’t it? To worry about being able to dig money out of your wallet fast enough. But that wasn’t the only thing my seemingly thickened, somewhat petrified fingers affected.

The sewing needle seemed to have disappeared. It’s girth reduced to nothingness. I could see it, but picking it up and holding it was another matter. It was a minute, slippery, slithery snake that I could barely control.

Along came steroids (Prednisone), and with that a new day dawned. Or maybe an old day, when I had full control of my fingers, when they were dexterous once again. And, painless.

I have had many years on steroids, and many years off steroids. Off is better. Better for your overall health. On is better for your fluidity of movement. Though it is an artificial suppleness.

Currently, I’m off. And plan to stay that way. At least, 90% of the time. With RA you learn there is a lot of give and take. And if you don’t give, it will take.

I have come to accept that I will henceforth live with a terminal case of butterfingers. At this point, a slight degree of painless butterfingers. One that does not stop me from doing anything I want to do. From writing to typing, from cooking to hand sewing, from housecleaning to holding an actual book in my hands. From caressing the lovely little faces of my granddaughters to whipping out the credit card to buy them things.

And speaking of the art of buying, we’re going shopping today. I think I will pick me up a bit of that crumbly, peanut-buttery escape.