Monthly Archives: June 2014

X-Ray

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I got a copy of the X-ray completed immediately following installation of the new hip. The heart is just to preserve modesty.

Look at the giant screw in my hip bone! But according to the doctor I only needed the one screw. My bones are in bad shape so he thought he might need to use two anchoring screws.

Although I am on isolation and confined to my little room I have been able to get around okay. I have done laps around my bad with my walker.

Tomorrow I am going home unless I get fevers tonight. Cross your fingers.

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Day 3

I am day 3 post hip replacement surgery. The hospital stay is 3-4 days typically. I’m hoping to go home tomorrow but I hit a complication that is unrelated to my hip AVN. I started having back pain before even checking in. I felt like I had a sunburn with also come,kind of deep pain radiating from my back to my chest. It has been diagnosed as Shingles. It is possible that it was brought on by the stress on my body.

I’m reclining in the hospital bed watching the Will and Grace marathon on the We channel. I have an ice pack propped between my night gown and skin on my upper back to try to take the edge off the burning pain of the Shingles.

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I’m having as much pain on my back as in my hips. My left hip is swollen and hard to the touch. I have restrictions in my movements. I can’t cross my legs or bend at the waist. I am being positioned by a large foam wedge between my legs that has Velcro straps that go around my legs to hold them. There is a trapeze bar above my head that is supposed to help me lift myself but I really just hit my head on it.

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I’m waiting for a copy of the X-ray that my ortho took right after surgery. I still have a hard time picturing this foreign body inside my leg. He just cut off a piece if my bone structure and put in metal and plastic.

I have been able to get up and walk around the room using my walker. I’ve moved from the bed to the chair and the bathroom. Ortho wants me to try to be more active but I’m on isolation because of the shingles so walking the halls is not possible. The plan is to be able to go home tomorrow but it depends on if my low-grade fever continues and if I can get off the IV pain meds.

There is a bit of sun peeking ing the windows and onto the flowers that some wonderful family members sent.

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Hip Replacement

In just 36 hours I’ll be checking into Hotel James for a long weekend stay. I’m scheduled to have a new hip installed. I have little trepidation now that the decision to have the surgery has been made and I am relatively prepared.

A couple months ago the pain in my hip returned. It was mild at first with just a little tightness. As it progressed I felt weak and pain became sharp in the evening especially after I sat for a bit and needed to stand back up. To get up and stabilize myself on my hip joints became a struggle. I had to position accurately and wait for my body to settle into the correct position before I could walk. The doctor sent me for a MRI and a follow up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon. The image showed AVN throughout 80-90% of my hip joints, inflammation of the bone and the beginnings of breakdown of the femoral head. The doctor described it as like a Ping pong ball. If the ball gets a small dent in it with continued pressure it will begin to collapse. He said that hip replacement surgery is necessary to correct it but the need would be based on my pain level. I asked about core decompression or injections. He said that if I was completely against replacement he would try it but there would be only a 10-25% chance that it would help and only be temporary. He said that those procedures are usually more applicable for people who are not quite as sick as me and who have a stronger bone structure. So, I left there with the idea that I’ll probably have to do it but I thought I might start to spontaneously feel better since my hip pain improved since my diagnosis in August. It didn’t work that way.

The pain increased to all the time. I am currently walking like a cripple and need a cane or crutch frequently but the decision was made for sure when I could no longer reach my toes to paint them. My new hip will be the next step in becoming the Bionic Woman.

In preparation I have acquired a new assistive device. I can’t wait to try out my new walker!

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It is red (sexy!) has hand brakes (cause it’s so fast) and a basket to hold my latte while I’m cruising. But the best feature is the padded seat and backrest. I have experience with trying to get around on crutches or a plain walker and it is challenging to get from room to room while holding something and a seat will give me opportunity to be more active sooner. Sometimes I’ve wanted to go places with the family but I miss out when unsure of the availability of a place to sit to rest if needed. I can maybe walk around the Farmer’s Market, put some tomatoes in my basket and have a rest on my seat before going home.

Diagram of a hip replacement. I don’t know for sure what type I will get but they all look similar to this with variations on the amount of metal, plastic and ceramic.

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I’ve been told that the hospital PT comes in the next day to get you up and walking. I will be in the hospital for 4 days. Outpatient PT starts a week and a half after surgery. The rest of my time will be spent watching the 2nd season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix that I have saved just for this occasion. The best part about watching a show while on meds is that I’ll be able to watch it again for the first time once I’m sober.

“Cause it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back”

Pelotonia 2014

Petolonia 14 is in 60 days. Date is August 8-10, 2014. For the second year I am participating in a program by The James called I Ride For You. A student preparing to ride is matched with a patient from the James. This initiative is designed to create a special bond between Team Buckeye Student Riders and the patients and survivors served by The James – Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

This year I am paired with a recent graduate of the School of Veterinary Medicine. Sarah has shared with me that this is her 3rd year participating in Pelotonia and she will be riding 100 miles. Many people participate in charity runs but the Pelotonia is special. It is a minimum commitment for the 100 mile ride to raise $1800 to participate and 100% of money raised goes directly to cancer research at OSU James. I have and continue to benefit from these programs. Research is the way advancements in treatments are made. Not all large cancer fundraising events promise 100% to research. I’m thinking of the big pink one that focuses on awareness.

I am not physically able to ride a bike. Right now I even struggle to walk like a normal person. The fundraising requirement is a big commitment for a student. I can start to give back by asking for support for this event. If you are wanting to donate to Pelotonia this year please give through my student rider Sarah here

I remember the summer that I was first admitted to the James. Now it’s normal for me to go to the hospital because I still have to go an average of once a week to see various doctors. But then it was confusing and uncertain. Some of my doctors and nurses wore ties or pins announcing their participation. The commitment they showed for serving the patients (me) was comforting. I encourage you all to look at my links to the Pelotonia page. It is an inspiring event.

Since Sarah is now a Vet I will post a recent pic of me with my Beagle Molly.

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Let there be nipples

It has taken a few years but I’ve finally completed the last stage of breast reconstruction following my bilateral mastectomy for breast cancer. Last week I was able to get my nipple tattoos. As it turns out people love to talk about breast cancer and mastectomies and silicone but even the most interested turn squeamish when you mention nipples. Maybe it’s the word or the intimacy it implies or the difficulty in picturing what a breast exactly looks like without one. When a person has a mastectomy MOST of the time the nipple is removed as well. It’s the safest option. No worries though. The doctors are pretty fantastic at reconstructing a fairly convincing nipple using just skin and ink. I had my skin graft done two years ago and was scheduled for my tattooing but I got an inconvenient diagnosis of leukemia and had to put it off. ┬áLast week my insurance re-approved and I went back to my plastic surgeons office for the final step. The tattooing of the color for the nipple. This was part of the healing for me. I needed to finish one cancer. It has less do with the aesthetics and more to do with the symbolism.

This video does a great job of explaining the process. I did not road trip to see a nipple specialist since my PS office does a pretty good job with the coloring.