Monday, October 6, 2014

Physical Therapy - Week 21 (PLUS the MRI)

As far as PT goes, we're just keeping on keeping on.
I haven't done the Sproing in about two weeks, but I'm still working on ladders, and Stephanie keeps hinting that she's going to change/add stuff, but we are both kind of stuck in our holding pattern until I talk with the ortho, which is this Thursday, right before my PT appointment.
Which means that I got the MRI.
For those of you who have never had an MRI, they….are not super fun.
Since the MRI was of my hip, the good people at the magical photography tube location needed to inject some contrast dye into the area in order to get a good look.
Fun fact: not all medical personnel think that your joke about confusing the word "shot" is funny. Whatever. It was hilarious.
As far as the injection went….oof. There were actually two. There was the surface numbing injection, which was lydocaine, and then the interior injection of the dye. While the surface numbing worked so I didn't feel the actual poke of the second, it was still disconcerting to feel the dye go into the body. It actually makes me a little queasy thinking about it.
However, my ortho ordered some cortisone as well (I mean, there were gonna be in there anyway, right?), so that was a pleasant surprise. We had talked about injections not being an acceptable long term solution, but the hope is that this can offer me some short term relief as we talk about the actual long term plan.
And then it was time for the amazing magical tube (TWSS).
I was told I could keep my shoes on. And while I only really did keep them on to grab this AMAZING selfie:

I'm pretty sure this look is hitting the runways this fall.
I was really glad I did, because while my torso was comfortable during the procedure, my feet were freezing. I can't imagine how I would have felt had I kept my shoes off.
Now, I'm not a claustrophobic person. But OOF that tube is small (again, TWSS). The tech suggested I turn my head so I could "see out," which was OK, but I was almost to the point that I wasn't able to see into the room. I ended up just closing my eyes and trying to entertain myself while sounds of machine gun fire whirled around me. There were a few moments when I was scared by the noise (they warned me it would be "loud" but didn't specify) and was convinced that the machine was backfiring and I'd be trapped in there forever. I did my best to NOT hyperventilate or panic, and I did manage to make it through the entire ordeal without squeezing the Panic Ball of Panic that I was handed, "just in case you need us."
The cortisone has yet to take effect in the hip; I was told that it would be 3-7 days before I really felt any relief (and you can bet that I'm counting down). But I did experience one side effect - a weird taste in my mouth. I have a salty palate normally, but everything tasted overly sweet after the shot (I read that there can be metallic tastes, so this was surprising). Even water tasted sugary. Thankfully, that seems to have abated, which is good, as one of the things that tasted awful this weekend was my favorite beer (The. Horror.).
What does that mean for PT? Who knows. We are making sure I don't over-exert myself, and we have stopped doing some stretching that could exacerbate a torn labrum, if that's what it is. By Thursday, I should know what's up, which means I may or may not have a few new exercises to discuss in my next post. 
Stay tuned for next week's post, same bat-time, same bat-channel.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Physical Therapy - Week 20

I've now been in physical therapy for five months.
I celebrated by only going once last week.
Just kidding. I had a workshop that conflicted, and since the workshop was required and I don't get paid to go to PT, I obviously spent all day in the workshop.
But even if I had gone to PT, there wouldn't have been much to report. Until I get the MRI results back in a few weeks, we're basically keeping the status quo: Astym®, stretching, various exercises, and the Sproing (once a week only on that one).
The goal now is to continue to strengthen instead of getting me back to running. Of course, MY goal is to run again, but now that we know PT isn't going to do that alone, we need to make sure I'm in the best shape I can moving to the next stage.
On deck this week: my MRI. I'm not sure the medical staff will approve of pictures or humor me by taking any, but I'll try. I hear hospital gowns are in for this fall anyway.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Physical Therapy - Week 19

With my two literature courses in full swing, it seems that getting one post per week about my physical lameness is all I can handle.
Last week wasn't much to write home about, in terms of PT. Since I had my ortho appointment Wednesday, we took it easy on Monday, adding nothing and reducing reps when possible (which was also good since I was extremely achy that day). That way, I could go in to the ortho with no flare-ups.
Friday wasn't any different, either. I was glad I was still able to run on the Sproing, even if we haven't changed anything about it over the last month.
Like I said. Not much to write home about.
The bigger news is the ortho appointment. Since I was obviously stronger but with the same pain, my ortho sent me over to get new x-rays so we could take a fresh look at what was going on.
Apparently there's a lot going on.
I have hip displasia.
I have deep sockets, which led to pincer impingement (FAI).
There is more bony coverage from those deep sockets.
Having my legs/hips in certain positions, then, can cause a tear in the labrum (the ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket).
Certain positions like cycling and running.
JOY.
The x-rays were able to indicate a labrum tear only, so in order to have a positive diagnosis, I'll be getting an MRI in a few weeks. That being said, based on my symptoms and the fact that PT hasn't led to any relief, my ortho is pretty certain that's what it is.
Since the odds are in that vein, I did ask about treatment.
There are two options:

  1. modify my lifestyle and manage the pain
  2. arthroscopic surgery to mend the tear along with possible lifestyle modifications

Obviously, not being able to run or cycle ever again is not an option, so I am readying myself more and more for the latter. It is possible that cycling will be out as an option for longer than running (or perhaps forever), but if I can make a recovery and start running again, surgery will be worth it.
In the meantime, we're continuing the course of therapy so that I can be ahead of the healing game if I do have to choose Option 2.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Physical Therapy - Week 18

Not much changed last week.
Since I have an appointment scheduled at the ortho this Wednesday, Stephanie didn't want to change or add anything in order to avoid possible flare ups beforehand.
So, we did Astym. We stretched. We foam rolled. We did ladders and ran on the Sproing.
I also had an adjustment on Friday, and I cracked so much that I sounded like bubble wrap.
So, the good news continues to be the same. I'm getting stronger, and I'm able to do much more than I was able to when I started.
Additionally, the pain from the run has subsided so I'm no longer constantly wanting to ice, heat, or guzzle anti-inflammatories.
But there's still the bad news: I do still hurt more than before the run, and I'm back to Not Running.
While I'm terrified of what the ortho will have to say Wednesday, I also know that I'm a little closer to having some resolution.
And as long as that resolution includes - some day - running and cycling again, I'll be OK with it.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Physical Therapy - Week 17

Being able to run again was exhilarating.
I was on top of the world.


I was a little sore and achy after my first half-mile run, but it wasn't the pain that I'd felt before.
But last Tuesday, the day after my second run, my hip was screaming.
Honestly, it was like I'd never set foot in physical therapy. It wasn't a muscle soreness; this was pain in my bone.


My goal to run twice last week, then, was dashed.
With HRH's schedule including two days of soccer practice plus swim and ballet, there was no way I was able to get in before my scheduled Friday appointment, so I iced and rested and took it easy when I swam (hooray, at least I swam again).
Friday, I was still sore. And basically terrified that I'd undone four months of hard work.
Thankfully, if Stephanie was really concerned, she hid it well. After an intense Astym® session, she instructed me to take it easy and be careful, and I did. I didn't NOT do any of my exercises, but I dropped the reps on a few and went slowly on most, with multiple staff members watching me to make sure I didn't suddenly drop on the floor.
At least I was able to run on the Sproing again, even if it was an alternating walk-run for a mere five minutes.


Plan for this week: No Running, and we'll see how I feel come this Friday.
If I'm not in pain, we'll continue working, but maybe a little more slowly. If I'm still in pain, then it might be time to panic we've decided that I will call the ortho and express….concern about the progress I'm not making with the pain even though I've made considerable progress in my muscle strength.
Of course, I'm a LITTLE more than concerned. I'm feeling much stronger than I have in ages, even before my hip pain began in the first place. And gaining muscle strength in my glutes and surrounding muscles has helped my overall strength, so I'm certain that when I hit the starting line of my next race, I'll be stronger than I ever have been as a runner.
But at the same time, this pain hasn't abated, and knowing that the next steps are injections (which, why even bother; they don't fix anything) or surgery, I'm nervous that I'll have to go a more extreme route.


And since I've never had any surgery more major than the removal of my wisdom teeth, I'm staying awake playing Worst Case Scenario in my head.
So….paws crossed that a week of rest and a bit of a reboot at PT is all that I need.
Otherwise, I'll probably need a hug.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Physical Therapy - Week 16

Last week was so promising, as physical therapy went.
But losing Holden threw a wrench into my whole week, so Friday I canceled my appointment so I could take the day to grieve.
I'm not sorry for that decision. I cried a good chunk of the day, so it was good that I was home or with Husband to just let all the feelings out as they came.
But before that - and the emotional eating of all the Cheetos in the land - I was set to have a good week.
How good, you ask?
Stephanie told me I could run.
OK, so technically she said "jog." And only for about a half mile.
But it was running, not on the Sproing, nonetheless, so I chalked it up to victory.
We ran at the middle school near our house; it has a dirt track, and Zooey happily loped alongside me as we logged the slowest half mile in memory (I didn't haul out the Garmin, but I'm pretty sure tortoises could have passed me). She didn't want to stop, but I'm glad we did, because later my hip was achy for some time before calming itself down.
I'd planned to do another run on Thursday but knew Wednesday night that wasn't happening. But Zooey and I've gotten out a few times for a walk, and I'm ready to start truly moving again.
Since the rehab center isn't open for Labor Day, I won't see Stephanie again until Friday, so in the meantime I'll do my home exercises and attempt to have two slow runs as well as my first swim since my lessons finished (with everything that happened with Holden, I haven't hit the pool, either).
Hopefully my nearly two weeks "off" won't reverse my progress, but if it does, I'll roll with it.
After all, each day that I'm moving, I'm still moving forward.
With a coonhound on my tail.


Friday, August 29, 2014

The Price We Pay for Love

Cats are jerks.
They are jerks because sometimes they pee on your bed, or your dog's bed, or your kid's princess bean bag.
They are jerks because they can't be bothered to accept your love when it's convenient but insist upon it when it's not.
They are jerks because if they throw up, it's always on the carpet or a comforter.
But mostly, they are jerks because they leave us before we are ready for them to go.

Holden left us Thursday morning. 
He was 16, or thereabouts.
His decline was swift; I brought him to the vet the previous Thursday because he'd stopped eating. After some blood tests, a liver infection was determined, and we picked up a prescription of antibiotics as well as some canned food for him to enjoy.
He ate two small meals but then refused anything else. Then he peed on my bed and the couch in short succession.
In a panic, I took him in again on Tuesday, and we had a urinalysis done as well. His urine was extremely diluted, but there was no infection, and there was no fever. 
He'd lost half a pound since Thursday.

At that point, the vet knew it wasn't just an infection, but she gave us an appetite stimulant to see if that, combined with some force feeding in the meantime, would bring him back around.
But even in this attempt, she wasn't optimistic. Having seen him Thursday and again Tuesday, she saw such a change that she….she just knew.
We had the discussion.
But I really really really really really really really hoped that things would change.
But they didn't.

Have you ever force fed a pet? I don't recommend it. It's heartbreaking. And not only did I have to force feed my baby boy the stinkiest food on the planet; I also had to force two pills down his throat.
It tore me up.
When he continued to refuse food, I knew.
He was tired, and it was time.
We decided to let him go Friday. That decision to wait was a little selfish; I know. But we still had a small hope that the appetite stimulant would, in some miraculous way, bring him back.
Hope springs eternal, after all.
Thursday morning, he couldn't walk. I ran into the bathroom, where Husband was showering, and let him know, and he called the vet.
But Holden, who always hated car rides, had no desire to make one more trip. He lay himself down, and I knew that his time was close. I petted him, and I told him that if he needed to go, I understood.
A few minutes later, he was gone.
I was holding on to him. I held him as he came into our lives, and I held him as he left.

Holden was my first Christmas present from Husband when we were first dating. Underneath the Christmas tree at his uncle's in Pinetop in 2000, I opened a package that contained a gift certificate to the Arizona Humane Society. He knew I loved cats, having grown up with them (Punkin, Scooter, Tiger, Blackie, Fanny, and Roy, throughout my first 18 years), and that I wanted to have my own cat as an adult.
So, over the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend in January, 2001, we took a field trip to the Humane Society, planning to bring home a cute little kitten.
But alas, there were few kittens that day, so we meandered through the adult cages.

In one of the bottom cages, two golden, beseeching eyes looked up at me, begging to get out.
We took him to the private "preview"room, and it was all over. 
I was smitten.
A gorgeous, orange white creamsicle of a cat.
We were told he was three years old and had been relinquished because "he pees on things."
And he was all mine.

And he did pee on things. Everything, it seemed like. But then our vet at that time diagnosed him with urine crystals, which, common in neutered males, is extremely uncomfortable. After changing his food to a low calcium prescription diet, he barely peed inappropriately (except for when he got pissed about Zooey coming into our lives, but I'll let that one go - new puppies can be traumatic for a cat).
We had almost-fourteen almost-pee-free years together.

Wherever we went, Holden went with us. He was our first little family member.
When we moved to Michigan so Husband could complete his master's degree, Holden came with us. He learned to live in sometimes-harmony with my in-laws' cat Pepper and Akita Chili (who rolled him exactly once).
When we moved back to Arizona, he came back and happily took to being an "only child" once again, likely relieved that the damn Akita was no longer in his midst.
When we moved into our house, he claimed his space quickly.
When we brought Zooey home, he was pissed but at the same time relieved that the upstairs was (until Zooey stopped peeing on the carpet because she couldn't tell that it was Not Grass) his domain.
When HRH was born, he claimed her, and her room, as his.

While he was loved by all members of our family, including Zooey, he was always My Cat. He knew, somehow, that I was the one who chose him and helped him find freedom from his little cell at the Humane Society. I was the one who cleaned his toilet. I was the one whom he woke in the mornings to feed him.
He was my boy. And I was his human.

Last night, I dreamed that it was a few days ago, and I brought Holden a can of food. Instead of refusing it, he perked up and ate it all, regaining the vigor he had lost.
You can make of it what you will; I know it's his way of saying he's OK now. He's not in pain. He's happy. He's comfortable. He's free.

Run free, my sweet boy. Thank you for the years of love that you gave to us. You were the first member of our little family, and we our house will never be the same in your absence. 
I will never forget you. 
Grief is the price we pay for love.
And despite the pain, I'd do it all over again.
I love you, Kitty Man.