Monthly Archives: November 2013

Post surgery wrap up

Surgery went well. My doctor screwed me twice although I was under the influence so I don’t remember much. I let my pair of beautiful (women) anesthesiologists know that I always throw up after surgery. I think it was their daily mission to keep me from doing so and it worked! I had to agree to being more sleepy in exchange for not puking but that’s a no brainer right there.

My screws:

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It’s hard to tell but I did paint my toenails white with the words “Screw me” written in black marker. Harassing my medical staff if one of my only forms of entertainment.

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Surgery

Bad news doesn’t even faze us in this family any longer. This morning I went for my check-up on my ankle fracture and the X-ray says its still cracked. I am having surgery in the morning (Tuesday) to put a couple screws in to secure the bone so it doesn’t get worse. He likened it to putting rebar in cement to keep it from cracking.

I told the kids I would be having surgery and they said, “okay, what’s for dinner?”

So, I’m going in to get a little cut and a couple screws. Doc thinks I’ll be able to go home the same day. I know surgery is a big deal but I’m thinking of it in a different way. I’m well enough that a surgeon agreed to cut me. I’ve needed procedures before but no one would touch me because I was so sick. This guy said my best chance is a surgery and I agreed to it to attempt to solve my ankle pain.

I call Jeffrey and said, hey, so Im having surgery tomorrow. He says, “okay, I’ll get work covered.” It takes a lot more than an ankle surgery to knock us down.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

I’m sitting in the livingroom wrapped with my electric blanket, a fleece vest borrowed from Jeffrey, my sleepy pup burrowed under my legs and fingerless gloves holding a Grande Skinny Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks. My body can’t seen to regulate it’s temperature and I’ve been on a constant fluctuation between chills and sweats for days. It might be hormonal. Or, it might be my body saying “WTF!” since I spent most of the winter last year in my temperature controlled hospital room where I kept the thermostat at a toasty 80 degrees so that I could lay around with no pants and tolerate the tile floors when I was forced to move from my bed to the toilet. I think almost wistfully of those months spent looking out the 3rd floor James window to my view of the valet parking and a tiny corner of OSU campus that was so pretty covered in snow. I never had to leave and I could listen to online radio in my underwear when I wasn’t sleeping or being poked and prodded by the constant barrage of doctors and nurses. The passivity and lack of personal responsibility during this time is enviable. This is also my first winter without a garage. I have a remote car starter, heated leather seats and automatic heat sensors in my car but I still squint my eyes under my red organic wool hat and run from the house to the car as fast as my crippled legs will take me.

And yes, My legs are kinda crippled. The fracture in my ankle has healed but the MRI revealed that in addition to the avascular necrosis in my hips I also have this condition in my feet/ankle joints. This is the pain that I have had in that area for months. I was fairly depressed about having this condition in my hips but the ankle situation is worse. It’s more difficult to prevent impact on my ankles and there is no “ankle replacement” surgery option. So, what do we do about it? The solution is for my bones to strengthen and repair themselves. I have joint pain most of the time and it’s because of the disintegration of my bones. I have been prescribed calcium, vitamin D and bisphosphonates. The IV treatment of Zometa that last landed me in the hospital is probably going to be given again. It gave me a high fever, flu-like symptoms and severe pain for a day and a half but then I was pain-free for 3-4 weeks. Worth it? I’m not sure. To be honest I’d probably try it again. I’ve been told that only the first dose has severe side effects because of the activation of t-cells. Some of the people I’ve talked to are shocked that I would do it again considering the poor reaction I had last time. I think I must hide my symptoms well. I’m in pain ALL THE TIME. I also refuse to take the proper dosage of pain meds to cover it cause I don’t like opiates and I’m still not allowed to take OTC pain meds.

The cold is making it more difficult but I have an arthritis/injury class at the YMCA. I’m the youngest in the class by 30 (40?) years. That also makes me the most attractive by default. The silicone doesn’t hurt. I go to work, the Y, the hospital and home. That’s about it for me but I’m happy. My hair is growing. My face is thinning and I feel more normal. It also helps when I try to eat closer to my goal of 1500 calories a day instead of the 700-800 calories on which I was subsisting. I still don’t want to eat. I eat because I have to. I’m considering starting a diet of just Soylent to avoid the need to eat at all. I’ve tried other dietary supplements but the sugar content gives me migraines. The place where I feel most normal and healthy is at work.

To me, my job has been easy to get back into. I still easily prepare for and provide therapy but dread the paperwork. For those who don’t know I’m a speech therapist for special needs middle school children. I love it and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I wore a wig for a few days when my hair was being obnoxious and I didn’t want to take the time to style it. Some of my students were terribly confused. “Ms. Tadlock, did you get your hair cut?” I answered yes. A half hour later the same student says, “Wait, was your hair used to be longer?”. And this is coming from one of my students with the least amount of disability. I’m now locked in to wearing the wig since I can’t stand to confuse them even more. It’s okay. I seem to be taken more seriously with a “normal” haircut.

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A summary of my days in a picture:

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Drugs for a better way of life

Tonight was pill sorting night. I hate pill sorting night. I’m glad I’m not a pharmacist because the one day a week I have to count and sort and refill meds make me groan with boredom and annoyance. It’s a necessary part of my routine as a sick person. I take pills three times a day for currently a total of 22 pills daily. If I make a mistake I can end up sick and in the hospital.

Hence, my trip to the ER this week on Monday.

I had a poor and unexpected reaction to one of my first chemo meds (Vincristine) from when I first started treatment. It caused an autonomic neuropathy that cause my heart rate to be tachycardic and my blood pressure to drop so low that I would black out. Since then I have been taking two heart medications. My heart is actually fine but the nerve disorder prevents it from doing what it’s capable of doing.

Back to this week, Monday. My nurturing and hilarious friend Jon took me to the OSU medical center to see the orthopedic surgeon to check on my fractured ankle. I’ve been feeling well with no ankle pain so I decided to walk from the parking garage to the office on first floor James hall. I remember walking. I’m pretty sure Jon cracked a joke about how I need to walk faster and how I’m such an old lady. And then the hallway got longer and narrow. I saw people walking in front of me but they were far away. I had no peripheral vision and I could not focus my eyes. I was told that next Jon got me to stop and I leaned on the wall. Then I leaned on the wall and on him. I got heavier while he tried to get my attention. I could not see him and he laughs now that I asked him “when did they put a river in here?”. At this point I remember nothing but I was obviously fainting or passing out. Jon, who’s heart is sometimes bigger than his head, knew that I did not want to go to the ER because I always get sucked up into the hospital vortex and it takes days if not weeks to disentangle and get back to the world. Re-admittance has been frequent and unavoidable¬† so he gave me a chance to snap out of whatever was happening to my body.

At this point a nice blonde nurse stopped to help. It was the nurse from my orthopedic surgeon’s office who came down the hall to get his coffee. I don’t remember much at all except a lot of blonde hair and a handsome doctor behind her but apparently she did an assessment and I failed. She said we needed to go to the ER and I argued and said I was fine. I was just needed to get my ankle checked. Thankfully, Jon and the nurse and probably everyone in that hallway at the time knew better and I was wheelchaired to the ER. Again, I got a direct pass and didn’t even have to go through triage. They must see my name pop up and start making my bed. Although, this time there were no pillows to be found so Jon did his best with a rolled up sheet to lay my head on.

The cause of this episode at the hospital was a mistake I made with my meds. Those two heart meds that I’ve been taking? Yeah, I was supposed to have weaned off of one of them months ago. It is this medication that along with my empty stomach and possible dehydration caused me to become the crazy hallway lady refusing to admit that she was passing out.

I got out of there relatively easily and the end result is actually positive. I don’t need as much medication and my heart nerve disorder may be repairing itself. Getting home I slept for about 24 hours straight and since then I’ve been feeling great.

I’m happy that October is over and I can go back to white caps on my Walgreens instead of pink.

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