Saturday, October 16, 2010
I spent another hour in my classroom working on the many projects that I have going on today before going to see the eye doctor. That is always an "interesting" appointment. I went in right away and told the tech that my eyes and glasses have been driving me crazy for a while. It was hard to explain to him that I don't feel as if I need them when I am driving--but I have a restriction requiring them on my license. The tech seemed to think I was a bit off--but when the doc came in and took a quick look at my eyes (after the dilation...), he said to me "I'm betting that you are having a lot of problems with seeing and your glasses." I thought he had read it on my chart, but it turns out that the cataracts I have have changed and gotten a bit bigger with a different shape. That change has improved my vision, so I'll need new glasses. I expected to need new glasses, but the thing with the cataracts making my vision better was a bit strange to me. My doctor told me that I may need to have a couple of more changes in my glasses over the next year or two, but he didn't expect that. He also told me that he had another patient who had cataracts doing what mine are doing and they had to change this person's glasses 6 times in a year because of what the cataracts were doing. He also told me that if I started having any issues with light of any kind that make "big splatters" that interrupt my sight--and that I'd know it when it happens--it will be time to have surgery on the cataracts. However, for now, we will just live with the way they are. (I'm going to check cataracts out online tonight, lol.)
I spent the rest of my day grocery shopping and running errands. I sure miss having fresh berries and inexpensive melons at the store--and nice looking and tasting tomatoes. Oh well, I was able to shop in spite of the season and I got some nice deals on some meat packages. It takes a lot of meat for a meal around here and that is the item that I use as a basis for my meal planning. I know that there might be healthier ways to plan meals, but we DO feed an army here without the benefits of a government sized budget. Anyway, I did a good job and got a lot of chicken on sale. (To my vegan and vegetarian friends, I am glad that you have chosen your nutrition plans and that they work well for you, but even though you eat healthy and well, your choices won't work with the choices and taste preferences of my family. I do have a few meals that we have that are without meat, but it isn't enough to make a life choice like yours. I notice when I make a veggie chili or lasagna for my family that it doesn't seem to satisfy some of the big guys I feed adequately and then I am needing to complement the meals with more food, which defeats the purpose of what I've done in the first place. I am different than some of my family members, but in order to protect the family meal time and to use our time and resources wisely, we build our meals around the meat selections I have. I do believe that many people who are working on weight loss, healthy eating and weight management work within their family's needs, likes and wants.) Shopping can take a lot out of me, but I am so glad to go into stores these days and not need to use their electric carts. I use my walker and I am fortunate that it has a seat for when I have to sit down. I also know that I can walk longer and further than I could a month ago, so I am thankful for my weight loss and my daily exercise plan because they are responsible for my improved health.
I saw several doctors during my break. My rheumatologist is a wonderful, gifted man who gives quality patient-care. I see him every 6 months unless something comes up in between, and he always gives a complete physical at each visit. My fibromyalgia is a messy business because it generally is at a high level of flare. I have worked with several meds--not Lyrica because that side effect of weight gain and water retention will not help my other health needs and issues. I went off of everything, but when I returned to work, I found that I couldn't work all day without treatment. He prescribed two of the meds that had helped me in the past, but it turned out that my new body couldn't handle the meds I used to take. We talked about my weight loss--he was so happy for me--and we cut the dose of one med. He noticed a new issue with my right hip and thought that I would be having surgery on it. I was surprised to realize that my range of motion is so limited in that hip. I walk with so much difficulty from my back and some restrictions due to the RSD that interfered with my right knee replacement that I simply didn't notice any issues with my hip. I do believe that since it isn't giving me any unmanageable pain that I am not planning to bring it up with my orthopedist. I think I can work on strengthening it and increasing the range of motion through exercise in the pool. I am going to contact my physical therapist about some updates to my program and if that doesn't give me what I need--I may have to have a new prescription for her help--I may try working with the physical trainer at the fitness center. I also think it is time to add some work on the stationary bike to my routine. I signed up for my first fitness class earlier this evening, it is in the pool and this one happens to be free. I think it is a good way to add some new activities to my exercise plan and to maintain my body, preventing my arthritis from doing even more damage to my remaining joints. It is exciting for me to sign up for a fitness class. Remember that I have always been obese and inactive. This is something that I want to do and believe I am capable of. This is also in the pool and I am comfortable enough with my body to join a class that requires me to wear my swimsuit around others. This is a tremendous shift in a lifetime of being the fat, incapable person for me and I am feeling good about who I have become. I have found out that there is a big problem in the shoulder that I have whined so much about for the past two months. After the trials of the MRI, it turns out that there is thickening of the tendons that go over and around my shoulder and there is at least one tear--I couldn't hear if she said tear or tears. I am going to see my wonderful orthopedist rather than just any of the possible docs or the lady I have been seeing about this. She told me that I have already had the conservative treatments and something more is needed. I am a bit bugged by all I have went through to get this point across. I have several friends with OA, RA, EDS and other ailments who all have a similar story to tell about having a problem and having to go through a lot of people, expensive testing and ineffective measures to finally get someone's help with a problem that they were well aware of from the beginning. It really bugs me that patients have to "prove" their needs at such a level. I don't know if this is because some people don't know or fib or whatever, but it seems like a backwards way of doing some things especially with a patient with a chronic health condition who knows their body and its responses. I also don't know the role of the insurance companies and the doctors balancing potential malpractice concerns in this, but it sure makes getting help for a problem so difficult for a patient who wants to live with a decent quality of life. ****OK, I'll end that rant!!
On the same note, I got the result of my recent mammogram repeat. This is another of my ranting. I am a big baby with a mammo, but I sure understand their importance. I have excessive pain with a mammo for several reasons. First of all is the obvious--standing for the length of time needed sets my back off and it gets increasingly worse. Secondly, I have a nice scar on the right side from my gall bladder surgery that is exactly in the place that the mammo machine hits me when I have to hug it. Thirdly, I believe that my fibromyalgia makes this touching and squeezing more uncomfortable for me than someone without this--or a similar condition. Finally, with my background with this, I have naturally "fibrous" tissue that seems to cause issues with this process. I have had problems surface one time after the next that has resulted in me having a previous biopsy, surgery to remove a lumpy area, a needle biopsy, and repeated mammograms annually that often land me on a table for ultrasound evaluations. This is not something that we talk about in the faculty room and I don't know for sure, but I am assuming I really HATE mammograms and it takes me forcing myself to go. It is far worse to get the call or report that I have to go back to have another picture or whatever and to have to go back for a repeat session. They hurt--and I resent the technicians who have told me that they don't hurt other women. (I find that hard to believe, but it does not change my personal issues to hear or know that.) I can actually feel the pain in my right side from the mammo machine by thinking about it, I have experienced it enough. I believe that this is a serious issue--and after seeing all of the products in the store today that have jumped on the breast cancer bandwagon, I know that the world is taking this seriously. I do wish I could understand why we just don't simply go to an ultrasound for my annual test at this point. I don't understand why my tissue is "fibrous" and other women don't seem to be blessed with that. I also don't know why my tissue is even more fibrous with my weight loss, but I know the weight loss is still a good thing. If anyone could enlighten me on any of this, I would appreciate it. I think that there has to be a way to check on this without all of the discomfort I go through. I hate feeling like a baby or a whiner or whatever, but this is my reality. I also wonder if the need to repeat this so frequently is really necessary for someone in my position who has been tested and tested and tested again. Am I at more risk of a problem? I guess I really just want to find a way that isn't so stressful to do this while staying responsible and keeping focused both on why we need mammograms and on the potential tragedy for not being screened as needed. ****END of another rant, but my request for info is sincere, please let me know if you can answer any of my questions!
My basic health is awesome--the chronic stuff is just a part of who I am. It was so good to have a physical with the kind of reports that I have had--ongoing and continued weight loss, great blood pressure without medication any more, wonderful level of LDL cholesterol (110 when less than 130 is desired--YAY, that's my best ever!!) and a great level of HDL cholesterol as well (It was 39 when 40 or above is desired--I am working on that with more omega 3's in my diet.) I hope that i haven't messed up my cholesterol types again, I think of the bad as LDL with the L referring to Lousy for the bad stuff, tee hee. I never thought I would be getting handshakes and congratulations from doctors on such stuff in my entire life. I have not quite arrived, but I am sure on my way.
It has been a busy two week break for me--ten medical appointments really kept me hopping. I have learned a lot about myself physically and emotionally. I am now ready to reflect on my goals after all of this data. I need to keep working on weight loss in order to get my body at its best performance potential. I need to keep exercising daily and I expect to do most of that work at the pool with my arthritis issues, however I also recognize that I need to continue tweaking things regularly and that I am ready to add some out of pool activities to my routines. This is another big milestone for me. I also know that I need to really stay focused on the quality of the foods I eat because I need far fewer calories at my current weight that is over 110 pounds where I started and I have less "wiggle room" within my daily plan. I am taking 6000 units of Vitamin D daily and a monthly Vitamin b12 injection per doctor's orders along with a multi-vitamin, but I would like my diet to meet my natural needs. I think I am smart enough to do this and will continue to work on quality of what I eat. I do not believe 5 servings of fruits and veggies is enough and I constantly work to have more each day. I eat very little bread, rice, pasta--so getting in those nice carbs is tricky. I only buy whole grain breads when I buy them and I am working on converting my family.
I am on the right track, but I am also a "work in progress." I count SP as one of my many blessings because I do not know where I would be now if I hadn't made all of these changes. I know that the holiday season is upon us (after my shopping experiences yesterday and all of the displays) and after our two days of conferences that turned our faculty room into the most dangerous grazing area in the world, I also recognize that I need to stay focused and I need all of the help and support I get here at SP. I also expect that my work on my National boards renewal will restrict my time here even more. I am working on building a schedule for my writing time and coordinating it with my work schedule and my exercise time--leaving time for my family in all of this. It will be quite a balancing act, but I know that I can do all of this if I am organized. As always, stick with me as this unfolds and please remind me to stay away from the food that will start showing up with Halloween and will be non-stop until after the new year is upon us.
Thanks for letting me ponder and sort through what I have learned about my body from the medical people who care for me. I believe that it is really important that we manage the data we are given and we use it to make the changes that make us more healthy. This information is only valuable if it drives our decision making and helps us to become even better than we were. With your help, SP and my family--along with God and my abundant blessings--I will be at my best possible condition. I recognize that I am in this for life and am so glad to have all of you and this information and support to get me there.
This is how I once was--note the back brace as well as the wheel chair--this was the "small" brace without the bars attached to my left leg.
These are photos of the beauty of fall here in the Midwest this past week!
These final photos are of our little pug Frankie at our camping trip last weekend. He is such a loving little doll and loves to be with people, no matter what we might be up to!!
(I forgot to mention how much he enjoys sleeping, didn't I? This last photo surprised all of us because he didn't even have his bed and he didn't wake up while my son was capturing this image!)
Gentle hugs and happy fall to each of you!
Sunday, October 10, 2010
My kids are out in the car waiting for me, but I wanted to reflect on the pun involved with the word "can." It came up at church today because our annua church stewardship drive is built around the idea that "We can help God." Our church choir members did a song that used bells and actual cans to kick this off. It was funny and sweet at the same time.
When I go to the store and look at canned goods, I think I will always see them as motivational tools now.
My daughter just came int o retrieve me and is a bit grumpy about waiting, so I will say--
Saturday, October 09, 2010
i stopped by to let everyone know that our camping trip started out with lots of unusual twists and turns. The lovely weather along with the 3 day weekend seemed to have given a lot of people the same idea as us and most of the parks were full--so we ended up at the same park that we were at last week. It is beautiful, so we are fine with this. Other little disruptions have happened, but after running some important Saturday errands, we are off to get back withour family. I'll check in later--just wanted to say "Hi!"
Have a wonderful weekend and find a way to enjoy some outdoors time too!
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
I've been busy this afternoon, after I took some time to use the computer earlier and get caught up on my team, OA of the Lower Back. (Anyone visiting me who is not a member of this team and who deals with back issues should stop by. I feel like this group of people are part of my family--we share so much and they keep me going far more than I do for any of them. Take a moment and just check it out to see how a truly supportive and caring group of people work together to help each member become as healthy as possible.)
Anyway, I started with an appointment with my therapist who is a Christian counselor and an ordained minister. He has helped me to realize who God wants me to be and how to care for myself so that I can do what I am here for. He has helped me to understand that I give a lot and how to manage that carefully and in a way that keeps me healthy and happy and able to live my life. He helped me to understand that it is wrong for me to try to do everything because it takes the opportunities away from others who need to learn how to do things or to learn how to assume leadership roles. I am blessed to have him as part of my medical team and to have had his role in defeating depression that had been more than a small part of my life.
I just got back home from my PCP. He is such a gentle and kind and thorough doctor. I am in good shape--11 pounds lost since I saw him last (6 weeks ago). My cholesterol levels were good 39 for my good LDL that he wants at 40 or above and my bad HDL was down to 110, well below the 130 level he talks about. My blood pressure was a bit up today (128/80) but not high enough to talk about medications again. My blood sugar was 89 and he said that I was still in the "pre-diabetes" stage but the daily exercise and the weight loss was keeping things in order. The only naughty area was my vitamin D--and I can't remember the level, but he increased my daily dose to 6000 units. I have made a point of getting sunlight every day we have it and have taken 4000 units everyday. I do not understand why that level doesn't do what it is supposed to do. Oh well, I'll keep taking the supplements and I will also go back in April for another check on that stuff. In the meantime, I had my Vitamin B12 injection for the month and I know that I am feeling good. That is what I must manage.
Both of the doctors I saw today are anxious to get to the bottom of what is going on wit my shoulder. I had that crazy MRI on Monday, and I should have the follow up no later than Monday. I also see my rheumatologist then, so hopefully we can get the doses of my meds manageable and my discomfort and pain back into control. Arthritis and Fibromyalgia along with the results of several surgeries to repair my bones and joints have left my body a bit battered. I have done my part and will continue to do what I can to reach out to less discomfort. I still rely on these important people in my world.
The good part of all of this is that I am so much better than I was even less than a year ago. I talk about this often because it is such a gift and blessing. I can walk and I can do things and the pain isn't all that I am about these days. There are ways to move beyond these things and for that I give thanks and I celebrate my progress.
it has been a good day and I am looking forward to extra time at the pool tonight--tomorrow is another day at school, working on my National Boards renewal. I uncovered a lot of great things today that may or may not be a part of my writing and work on this important project.
I'm going to leave you with some photos of miscellaneous things that amuse me. (I am using a different computer that doesn't have the big variety of photos. I am determined to put photos in my blogs until I am comfortable in doing this as I so desire, lol, so all I can do is to ask you do is to put up with it!)
I have saved this from an old email.
Here I am with a group of children from this year's summer reading program.
My son hunted this silliness up somewhere.
The children in my summer class enjoying fun with the sprinkler.
That's enough for now...Have a blessed day.
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