Thursday, April 3, 2008

Picking Up the Marbles

On Tuesday, I saw my new Podiatrist for the first time. My old one, Dr. B-, seemingly could not make an appointment without changing it... from afternoon to morning, from morning to afternoon... from week to week. We finally hit a point when I could not accomodate his schedule. After we had a 3:30pm appointment for 3 weeks out, I got a call from the office in which he practiced. At 4:30pm the day before. He wanted to change it to 10:45. AM.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, that conflicted with my Physical Therapy appointment. I complained to the staff. Explained to them - and they already knew it - that I had been more than accomodating to his shifting-like-the-sands-of-the-desert schedule without complaint for months now, and this time I couldn't do it. What were we to do?

Dr. B- only practices at that location on Wednesday afternoon, and when queried, they couldn't guarantee that if I made an appointment with him for the following week, he wouldn't change it again. So that was a no-go. Then they suggested that I see the other Podiatrist who was still practicing in their office (and I assume will be taking a larger role with Dr. B-'s eminent departure to another location). After a brief discussion about finances because I did not want to have to pay for another doctor because the first doctor that worked in their office left me hanging post op, we agreed that they would pick up the charges and we made the appointment. For last Tuesday.

I liked her immediately. Dr. K- did not change my appointment, and in fact was right on time. We briefly discussed my surgery and the aftermath; she was surprised at how painful it still was (I hadn't realized it until she gave it a good squeeze which made me jump and yelp) and how weak the toe was. She showed me an exercise in which I was to pick up a pencil from the floor with my toes for the next two weeks ("at least 10 times a day") and she would see me again then. When she would be prepared to make me orthotics for my exercise shoes so that the bones that were clearly shifting in my foot might be contained and we just might delay the onset of yet another Neuroma. Like I said, I liked her.

I told Rocky at Physical Therapy about her. He has been aware of my ongoing concern over Dr. B- and was happy to see that I was better suited. We've agreed that my last rehab appointment for my knee will be tomorrow. Truthfully, there might have been some merit to me continuing for another week or two, but my finances after four-plus-years on disability just won't sustain it so I'll have to make due on my own. I've made a remarkable recovery already, especially for me.
Anyway, Rocky decided to have another exercise added to my routine. It was one in which they spread marbles on the floor and I was to pick them up with my toes and drop them in a little cup. After 15 minutes, I had not yet completed the task. As I said, my toes are really weak.

Not being able to do such simple things is very frustrating, and an analogy for my whole life. I would like to be normal. Well, maybe not normal because that's pretty boring, but it would be nice to have a life where my body was not constantly failing me.

I am currently struggling with a number of medical issues. My left knee and toe are recovering nicely, but I'm sure that my right knee has a torn meniscus (damaged the week before the left knee surgery) and I had an MRI yesterday so that we can confirm it. My Crohns is flaring and, although it's not escalated the past couple of weeks, it was advancing at an alarming rate up until then. I have not got a lot of faith that the newest medication - something that I have to inject myself with weekly - is going to help, but I have no choice in the matter. I'm giving myself the shots and hoping for the best.

In the meantime, the fainting issue also returned about two weeks ago with a vengence. I don't even necessarily have to be doing anything taxing to bring it on. I can just be standing there talking to somebody and boom! I'm on the floor. But of course, I hate it the most when it happens at Slimmons and it did twice in one week in two successive visits. The second one in which I never progressed past the front desk.

I've seen my Internist for it a week ago - I think/hope he is taking the situation seriously - and also the Cardiologist. Wouldn't you know it, Dr. G- gave me an Event Monitor (again) and sent me on my way until May when I will have a stress test done in his office. And the last faint before seeing him happened two days prior. I've had some vague dizzy spells since then, but in all honestly, I've kept my butt planted in a chair and I never go down when I am sitting. I can feel kind of bad sometimes, but not to the point of a faint.

Then, yesterday, I was at my therapy appointment and discussing my frustration about the whole thing with Dr. M-. Especially that I would be responsible for pushing the button on the monitor when something starts to go wrong. One of the unfortunate things about the big episodes is that I seem to have an intellectual disconnect before I go down. I don't have a lot of time when my body is signaling distress, but I usually think "Oh my God I'm about to faint" and if I acted on it right away, I could probably avoid it by getting to a chair. But that's where things go awry. I don't seem to be able to act on the thought and if somebody asks me if I'm ok (I am often very flushed too), if I'm able to answer at all, I say "yes." Not the right answer but all I can get out. And I'm supposed to be able to push the button?

"That sounds like oxygen deprivation to your brain," Dr. M- said. And we discussed the pressure that I always feel in my neck before such episodes. Carotid Artery Disease was his immediate suggestion. A build up of Plaque in the Carotid Arteries.

I looked the ailment up on the internet this morning. There I found a lot of my symptoms. Transient ischemic attacks. Weakness, numbness, tingling, or paralysis of arm, leg, face, on one side of your body. (I had a neurological work up about this complaint almost two years ago with no identification of the issue.) Blurry eyesight. Dizziness, confusion, fainting, or coma. Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

But then there are the risk factors. Hi levels of low-density lipoprotin cholesterol and triglicerides in the blood. Nope. High Blood Pressure; Diabetes. Used to have both, but they went away years ago along with the weight. Smoking. Obesity. Lack of exercise. No three times over. The only risk factor that I currently have is a family history of coronary artery disease.

Dr. R- scheduled the test for it tomorrow. He told me point blank that he did not think that this is what is wrong with me. And I appreciate his point of view. But I am desperate at this point to have some kind of diagnosis. Anything. Even something as serious as what we will be testing for.

I intend to grill the tech about the results during and after the test. I don't expect to have them fully revealed to me, but I will phrase the question in such a way that he will be hard-pressed not to give me some kind of response. Something along the lines of "I intend to return to exercise class on Saturday as my Cardiologist said I could. Are you seeing anything on your screen that would suggest that this would be a bad idea?"

And then, since Eric & I had a long discussion about it last night, if there is no reason that the tech can give me not to attend, I will return.

I don't know what will happen when I arrive. I know that they all care about me at Slimmons, but how long are they to be expected to put up with my medical issues before they finally pull the plug on me? It's been years going there, with regular issues of health predominating my appearances. I'm always fearful of the day that they will finally tell me that they've had it with me and ask me to leave.

And if I do attend on Saturday, what will happen in class? I'm really scared of that too. If I go, I intend to participate fully. After all, my doctor said I could. And if, by participating I provoke another spell? That might not be a completely bad thing. Because I'm practicing now, telling myself to "Push the button." "Push the button." "Push the button."

Maybe if I rehearse it enough, when I have the issue again, hopefully while I"m wearing the monitor, I'd like to think I'll have the presence of mind to push the button before I go down. Get a recording of what is happening with my heart at that moment.

I'm desperately trying to pick up one of the marbles in my life.


Anonymous said...

Richard or his group would never shut the door on you at Slimmons. EVER..I think if you have an opportunity to tell him what you've explained here he would be there for you and you know the others are always there for you.
Keep Fighting Laura!! Keep Fighting for Life!!! I miss you so much..

hot tamale said...

Perhaps you could tell someone to push the button for you in case you go down at Slimmons. Someone there can keep an eye on you....
Do you know how much I admire your stamina Laura?


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