Monday, January 30, 2012

At least I shaved my legs

It can be very frustrating to have pain that you can't exactly locate.  Your body tells you that something isn't right, but, doesn't tell you just what isn't right, or where.  So, you visit a doctor.

The nurses and a doctor ask all kinds of questions, you tell your story at least five times in an hour.  They have you pee in a cup.  Good news, you're not pregnant!  Didn't take a lab to tell me that.

The doctor lifts your leg, moves it around, presses here and there.  Does this hurt?  Does that hurt?  Well it's obviously not a break.  He returns your leg to the bed, under the stylish gown and warmed blanket the friendly nurse had given you earlier.

That's when you realize - I didn't shave my legs.

The doctor wants a picture.  The first picture they take looks a little strange, something isn't right, so let's get another picture.  This one's going to be better.

Oh, sure, it's safe.  I'll just be in the other room behind a steel wall and triple pane window.  Here's a button to hold, push it if you need me.

A strange music fills the room.  It's calming in a way.  Purging thoughts of panic, you try to rest while the machine images your innermost structure. 

Well, the MRI looks good!  There's nothing broken, we're gonna send you home.  The discharge nurse will be in in a bit.

You learn from the discharge nurse about the orthopaedic surgeon.  He tells you that you can call today and get in soon.  He seems brighter than the doctor.

You try to manage as you heal, eventually able to walk without tears.  

Pain takes a back seat to hope. 

You finally get to see that orthopaedic doctor the discharge nurse told you to call.  The day has come.  You hope for answers.

You arrive at the appointment 30 minutes early, as suggested by the clerical expert on the phone four days earlier who thought you were someone else, and had to be convinced you are not that other person.

After signing a stack of papers and giving your date of birth at least seven times on three pages, you wait.  And you wait.  Finally, you give in and get a magazine from the rack.  You read about how to organize your kitchen, your office, your life!  You learn about how someone reorganized Paula Deen's kitchen and took all kinds of before and after pictures of it.  You try to find the differences in the pictures, thinking this must be one of those puzzles you play on Yahoo! or something.   

After reading about a local runner who ran 40 races for his 40th birthday year, you think, 

"I'm going to be 40 this year.  I can get 40 races in this year!"

You wildly calculate how many days are left in the year, and how many races that would be per week for the next 11 months. 

You put the magazines down.  You wait some more.  You check your phone for the time.  You've now been in the semi-uncomfortable chair for one full hour.
Finally.  They call your name.
You look up and see the nurse, her ratty blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, 2-pack a day leathery skin, and snarky look on her face.  Looking at the novel you've just written, she comments,
So, you don't know how it happened, huh?  You're just hobblin' around....

And you think {but don't speak}:

That's right, bitch.  When's the last time you ran anywhere 
but to the bathroom or the tanning bed?

Said nurse walks you to a stark exam room, goes to a cabinet, and tells you she's going to have you put on a pair of shorts.  You put your coat on a chair, and she tells you that you can hang it on the hook {points to hook}, and close the door behind you, and before you can turn to decline the hook for your coat and thank her, she's disappeared out the other door to the room.  
You check out the "shorts" that the nurse left on the counter for you.  A novel take on summer attire.  You oblige and put them on.
And you wait.
And you wait.
You read a magazine.  You learn about seven "new" ways to make mac and cheese.  The recipes don't make you hungry, they make you wonder why this made six pages of a magazine.
And you wait.
And you wonder why the hell you got here over 60 minutes ago.

The doctor arrives.  He's a busy man, apparently.  He shakes your hand and asks what's going on.  You repeat your story.  Again.  He is too busy to look at you.  He's busy darting his eyes about the room.

He asks if you have this or that, is this numb or is that painful, do you feel this here or that there...?  Nope.  He looks confused by the answer.  He asks what could have happened to make it hurt.  Nothing.  He looks frustrated.  He asks if you're taking anything and if the pain is better.  No, and yes.  Now he's determined.  

A few more questions, he makes assumptions, you can lay down on this table with crinkly paper and sad excuse for a pillow.

Oh, you're still a bit sore.
He must be a face mind reader.
He moves the leg this way and that, presses here and there, you wince once, he tells you to lift your leg, you do but it isn't comfortable, he nods his head a few times.  He lays your leg back on the crinkly paper. 

I want you back in a week, don't run on it for now, here's a script for a 6-day steroid.  Thanks.

Trying to engage the doctor, you ask if it could possibly be this or that.  Sure, it could.  He wants to call it this.  This drug will do this.  You should be better next week.  If you feel this or that before a week, call me.  He doesn't pick up on your curiosity and quest for answers.

You tell him you didn't fill the script from the hospital, maybe you should have?

Maybe, but this one will stop the pain.  See you in a week.

Extends his hand to shake yours, and before you know it, he's out the door and you can take off the stylish shorts you're sporting and return to your day job clothes.  Your head is spinning from the whirlwind that just left the room, because of the 90 minutes you've been there, you spent less than 5 with the guy who makes as much in a year as your home is currently worth in today's market.

You're angry.  You're disappointed.  You're stubborn and want to try to just run home.  Or run when you get home.

Adductor strain.  Take a steroid and see me in a week.  Thanks.  I missed dinner with my family for that.

Should I fill the script and take the steroid?  Should I rest 'til Saturday and return to my regular schedule, but slowly?  Should I even make the return appointment for one week?

You think better of telling the woman behind the sliding glass window that if you come back, you have to be home in 30 minutes.  What good would that do?  Nearly seething, you leave.  More than 90 minutes after you first arrived.

And you think: 
At least I shaved my legs.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Fred Sanford - my injury update

Today is Sunday, but this entry has been a few days in the making.  I am currently doing what I should, resting.  I'm in the recliner resting after Hot Dad and I rearranged Ethel's bedroom, at her request. So, I am taking rest for my leg and updating everyone on the whole situation.

The pain's somewhere
in here.
For the last couple of weeks, I've notice a bit of, well, I guess you'd call it pressure, in my {cover your eyes, gentlemen} nether region. Last Wednesday night was no different and I had a good run-pee thing going on {that one's for you moms}.  A few hill repeats into the workout and I started feeling some pain in my vaginal area, and it hurt when I strided forward with my right leg. It was very much toward the front of the area, but I couldn't put my finger on the specific point of pain (literally and figuratively). I sat out a few repeats, tried to stretch the hip flexor on that side, the hammie, groin, sat on the cold ground, etc. It would feel better 'til I ran. I managed the run back to the store (about 2 miles and chance), but by the time we headed back, the pain was into the groin area, no longer centered in the front of my lady parts {how's that, gentlemen?}.  I had to adjust my gait, and in response, my IT band on the left side started to argue.  When we got back to the store I rolled both hips and IT bands, my lower back, I stretched as much as I could stand. I stopped to get gas on the way home and then the pain was worse.  By the time I got home, it was distinctly painful to walk, or put any upright pressure on the leg.  The pain was all in the crotch, not the hip.

You know that ligament on the inside of your leg where your leg meets your crotch? The one that flexes when you pull your legs together? It's not that, it's sort of behind that. The more it hurt Thursday morning, I had a fear that it could be a pelvic injury. What started out feeling like I was probably experiencing symptoms of a pelvic floor injury has turned into excruciating pain to the point where I can't walk. Sitting is better, but, still somewhat painful if I turn or bend wrong.  I took two Aleve before going to bed, hoping that would help some.

Ethel came in our room at about 1AM, so Hot Dad returned her to her own bed.  While doing so, Fred cried out pretty urgently.  As I suspected, nose bleed.  In an attempt to help Hot Dad tend to Fred, I went to the bathroom to get a towel, but by the time I got to Fred's door (about six steps), I felt sick to my stomach and nearly cried from the pain.  I made it back to our bedroom and tried crawling to the bed, but, that seemed to hurt more than walking.  I made it back to bed, got covered back up, and drifted back off to sleep. 

Thursday morning I got up hoping the pain would have eased, but it hadn't.  I got up, dressed and ready, knowing the stairs would be a challenge for me.  I went downstairs to start my day and get some coffee and start work.  It took me a few minutes to get to the kitchen from the stairs, and by the time I did, I was again at the brink of tears.  I'd already tried to run down how to get Ethel to school (we walk, we're just down the street), manage Fred, work all day, and then retrieve Ethel from school.  I realized right then that I wouldn't be able to do it alone.  I called Hot Dad, nearly in tears from the pain, and finally conceded and asked him to come home. I was up at 1-ish and realized that turning over in bed was painful. I ran through all the things I could try to do. I was going to try to walk Ethel to school and then drive myself to the ER (figuring it will need an X-Ray most likely, which I couldn't get at a doctor's office), and Fred would manage and the staff would help me with him. I ran through multiple scenarios trying to get myself checked without bothering anyone, but, at 6AM Thursday, shortly after getting to the kitchen, I waved the white flag. I don't want to miss a day of work, don't want Fred to miss his karate that night, and didn't want to send any "I'm dying" vibes to anyone by mentioning visiting the ER.

So Hot Dad came home.  He walked Ethel to school.  He got me to the hospital.  We didn't have to wait long.  They got me checked in and into bay C4 within less than 30 minutes.  I repeated my story several times, including the male nurse who told me, "Good, I'm glad you're not too girly and afraid of a little pain", while trying to assess the extent of my discomfort and hearing that I'd run through the pain to the store where I stretched and rolled.  He, of course, asked if I'm a marathon runner, to which I replied, "Chicago will be my first"; and he retorted, "You people are crazy, I don't know why you do that, but good for you".  It was a light hearted exchange, and I could tell he didn't think I was there for some slight discomfort.

Keep reading, this pic will
make sense
Finally, a tall drink of water with dark hair came in, introducing himself as the doctor, and I explained my situation to him.  He pressed here and there, moved my leg for me (no pain), asked me to move it (nothing but pain), and assessed that it was likely not a break if his moving the leg wasn't painful, but he'd like to order an X-Ray to be sure.

Again, the wait wasn't long and then finally a nice gal came and wheeled me down to the X-Ray room.  The tech was friendly, seemed sympathetic to my pain, and her too happy for any hour of the day assistant (a student) offered to help make this as easy for me as possible.  I hope they got my good side in the pics they took.  The whole thing was painless, luckily, as I didn't have to stand.

A little while later, Tall Doctor returned with news that the X-Ray was fine, nothing is wrong, we'll get you out of here as soon as I compare notes with the radiologist.

Are you kidding me?  I can't walk, I'm in horrible pain, but you're going to set me free because your X-Ray "looks fine"??  Are you kidding me?  I'm going to be paying this off for years to come and there's nothing wrong??

Deep breaths.  Deep breaths.
Hot Dad and I tried to formulate questions, a plan, anything that might lead us to more answers as we waited for someone to come back and tell us what was next.  Tall Doctor came back, a little humbled, and said the X-Ray wasn't as straight forward as he thought, it showed some demineralization. He suggested an MRI.  I agreed.

A quick internet search let Hot Dad to tell me it was likely onset of osteoperosis, but, it could be hereditary.  

My first thought - 
Good, I can still run.  It's something and it's treatable.
Another short wait 'til a nice, older gentleman named Stan came and took me to MRI.  He explained some of the new additions and changes that have been made in the hospital, making friendly conversation.  Nice guy.

Down in MRI, I sat outside the room while the tech prepared the machine and the table I would lay on.  I've never had an MRI before, no idea what to expect here.  I explained, again, why I was there, and he helped me to the table.  He gave me ear plugs.  The room was filled with a pulsing sound, almost like a heartbeat, very rhythmic.  I laid on the table, and he slid me into the machine with my knees propped up slightly.

One thing I had to note at this point was that it can be a bit unsettling to realize that you're being laid on a table, stuffed into a machine, pictures will be taken of your insides, but nobody else can be in that room with you.  It's sort of like being thrown to the wolves.  

Here, you go in there.  Oh sure, it's safe.  I'm just going to be in this other room behind the steel wall with the triple thick glass.  Press this button if you need anything.

That's awesome.

Anyway, through a speaker, the tech explained it would be about 25-30 minutes, and he would tell me what was going on throughout that time.  A few minutes here, a few minutes there.  At one point, the chorus of noise seemed a combination of Steal My Sunshine and Intergalactic.  I just did my best to relax and make something of the sounds that pounded around my body while the tech sat safely in the other room.  

Stan returned when I was done, along with a friend who appeared 10 years his senior, donning his veterans head piece adorned with pins rejoicing his accolades and dedication of years in the Service.  Stan was giving his friend a run-down of where things are, pointing out important hallways and rooms on our way back to C4.

While in C4, I explained the MRI thing to Hot Dad and tried to find a comfortable position on the bed. We talked about possible outcomes, how to handle them, and what to do about lunch for Fred, who had endured three hours in the hospital with little more than a "I want to go back to the spot we were!" {ie: I wanna go back to the empty waiting room by MRI}.  He was really a champ.

Tall Doctor returned, chipper as ever, declaring that it's good news, the MRI was fine, nothing is wrong!  We'll have the discharge papers and you can go home!  The X-Ray imaging must have caused a shadow, the MRI showed no maladies in the pelvic bone and didn't reveal any obvious reason for my pain.  Oh, but there is an ovarian cyst on your left side, but that's obviously not related to the pain on your right side.  Have a great day.

Are you kidding me?

Me: What should I do now?  Do I need to stay off it?
Tall Doctor: Well, you obviously can't run on it.
{this is me, wanting to kick him in his own groin, however I can't because he's on my right side}
Me: Should I take something, should I stay off it completely?
TD: Sure, we'll give you a script for {insert anti-inflammatory meds here}, rest as much as you can, and if you're still in pain in 2-5 days, you can follow up with an orthopaedic surgeon, do you have one?
Me: Yes, my husband has been to on recently.
TD: Great, the nurse should be in shortly, have a nice day.
Thank goodness he went to med school.

So, I asked the discharge nurse what he thought, and he printed out the contact info for the local, hospital-affiliated {ie: they can get my films to review} ortho practice, and got me a wheel chair for my journey back to the outside.
Hot Dad and Fred picked me up at the doors, and we went home.

I called and made an appointment with the ortho, and will see them Monday after work.

In the end, we have no answers.  Today is Sunday.  I rested the rest of Thursday.  I didn't fill the RX, instead opting to take my trusty Aleve and relax with my Bota Box Malbec and wait it out.  Friday, Hot Dad returned to work, and I was able to get Ethel to/from school.  A classmate's mom and awesome teacher both helped me by meeting me and walking Ethel to/from the building, reducing the distance I'd have to cover.  Friday afternoon, Hot Dad had the following revelation.

{me, trying to change my clothes and put on shoes}
Hot Dad: So, should I call you Igor or Fred Sanford??
{sounding like Fred when he beams with pride over something he's done}
Me: {silent, staring, trying not to laugh} I'd kick you if I could stand on one leg!

Today I am doing much better.  I rested most of the day yesterday, making the kids do most of the work we did in their rooms, and Hot Dad helped in Fred's room.  Today, Hot Dad did most of the furniture moving while I talked Ethel through her ideas for furniture placement in her room.  And here I sit, in the recliner with the laptop, enjoying soft music in the background and blogging, while the kids watch their big brother father play some car racing video game.  

I am not one to sit still for long, so this better heal ASAP.  This is my first injury since becoming a runner, the first time I've been sidelined, the first time I've had to stay off my feet since I had either of my kids.  That alone, is painful.  I don't sit.  I don't enjoy not doing anything.  I am not relaxed.  I don't like this feeling.  

Most of all, I don't like not running.

It's OK.  I'll see the ortho tomorrow night and hopefully he's not Captain Obvious like Tall Doctor.  Hopefully he has some useful information about how I can manage this and treat it, or even some insight into what could be causing the pain.  For now, I will take it as easy as I can.  I will probably overdo it and risk taking longer to heal.  That's how I roll.

Thanks for all the well wishes and concern!  I promise to update again by Tuesday night!