The Beginning of the Pain
Thursday, February 03, 2011
During the fall of 2007, my (now ex-) husband and I separated. It was pretty much a mutual decision that we couldn't live together anymore, but it was still a shock... we had been married since 1981. I worked doing taxes the spring of 2008 and was adjusting to my 'new' life. Just before Memorial Day in May of 2008, my grandmother finally lost her long battle with cancer. In August, my divorce was final and in September, my other grandmother died after a (thankfully) short bout with Alzheimer's. In October or November, I started having pain in my right hip/buttock that hurt worse when I would lay down. So I began sleeping (such as it was) in my recliner.
After spending over a year trying to find out what was causing my pain, which eventually spread up into my back and down my leg, the doctor finally decided to do an MRI of my back. The MRI led to a diagnosis of spinal stenosis and I was referred to a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon said I needed surgery (unless I wanted to live with the pain and after 18 months, I was tired of the pain) so back surgery was scheduled for June. In the meantime, I mention to my doctor that my occasional heart palpitations seems to be getting more frequent, so I was referred to a cardiologist. Suddenly I went from not having a doctor at all to having three, soon to be four. The local cardiologist determined that I had atrial fibrillation... my heart was beating funny (either fast--up to over 200 bpm--or slow--as low as 39 bpm) 25% of the time, so he referred me to a specialist (an electrophysiologist) in Little Rock. The heart doc in Little Rock said I needed to have a procedure called an ablation (similar to a heart cath) done, but it could wait until after my back surgery. So it was scheduled for August.
Back surgery went well and I was recovering nicely, but my incision was very slow to heal (which is common among diabetics, BUT I'm not diabetic). I ended up going to Wound Care to get my incision healed just in time for my heart procedure. The ablation was also successful... I have since been able to stop all the heart medication I was taking. Last September and October things were looking good. Then something happened (as it always seems to).
I don't know exactly what it was, but for some reason, I started having pain in my legs again. I started using my cane again and thought maybe it would pass (along with the stress of the holidays). I forced myself to make it through Christmas, then I called the doctor. I made an appointment, but of course, I couldn't get in until after the first of the year. Then the next day, December 28, I could barely move my legs when I woke up. Eventually the feeling came back and I was able to walk, but I was scared and called the doctor's office again. They told me they couldn't get me in any earlier and that I might need to just go to the emergency room. So I did. An MRI in the emergency room supposedly showed problems with the L4 and L5 vertebrae and I was told to follow up with my neurosurgeon. With the New Year holidays, I wasn't able to get in to see him until a week later. He said my latest MRI looked better than my previous one and that he didn't think my back was my problem. He suggested that I go to Pain Management. I didn't like that option.
So, long story made a little bit shorter (lol), I ended up changing primary care doctors. My new pcp diagnosed lymphedema in both legs and suggested physical therapy to strengthen my leg muscles. I haven't really gotten an answer yet about the morning numbness and temporary paralysis, but the lymphedema treatments are going very well and I should be starting the strengthening soon. Already the progress I've made is amazing. I started out this year barely able to get out of bed and walking to the bathroom was almost more than I could do. Last night, I took my daughter to see the Harlem Globetrotters and this morning I actually got on my stationary bike. I only rode five minutes... but five minutes is better than no minutes. ;)
During the month of January, I focused on diet... paying attention to serving sizes and what I ate. During the month of February, I am going to try to increase my physical activity. It may be pretty slow going... and I tend to be slightly impatient... but I am going to stick with it. Those two weeks after Christmas gave me a brief insight into what it would be like to be an invalid... and where I'll likely end up if I don't do something now... and I did NOT like what I saw!