Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ah, December... the month of invasive procedures

Two years ago, I had hip surgery.

Last year, I had a breast biopsy that went bad. I didn't blog about it. There was no cancer, just a horrible morning at the hospital in which I bled out and ended up woozy for a couple of days and bruised up for months. And they only got one of the two "suspicious" sites. When they recommended a surgical biopsy for the second, I declined. Two subsequent mammograms have showed no changes, so there doesn't seem to be any need to go through that trauma again.

This year, it looks like it will be back surgery to remove a lesion that is pushing on my L5 nerve root and causing me stupid amounts of pain. It might be a synovial cyst. It might be a schwannoma (benign) tumor on the nerve sheath. A second MRI on Saturday should clear up which it is, but on some level it doesn't matter. The surgical treatment is essentially the same. Other options, namely physical therapy and steroid shots in my spine, make no sense to me. They will not impact the thing that is pushing my nerves and making me hurt. I suppose that if I couldn't face surgery, I might go these routes, but the disruptions to my life have become constant and so incredibly painful that I'm ready and it can't happen soon enough. I hope the call comes soon.

Monday, December 14, 2009

liminality and the royal we

Hunh. Today is my 13th wedding anniversary. I'm not really sure what to do with that since I am not really married anymore, except in the eyes of the state. I'm not uncomfortable where I am in this liminal state of commitment, but there is a certain awkwardness. I have trouble this time of year, when there are so many surface-y social chit chat sessions at holiday gatherings and such... how do I tell my stories? Is it "me" and "I" or if they are the older stories, are they "we" and "us" even though there is no current we. And then today. What do I do with myself today?

Leave it to my grandmother to point the way. She stayed over this weekend and at one point yesterday she casually said, "well, I'm not sending you an anniversary card this year." I told her that seemed quite appropriate, considering. Later, as I drove her home, she said, "I think it's good that you've found a way that works for you and you shouldn't have to bother with anyone fussing about how it is 'supposed' to be." Thanks, Grandma, that is a way better sentiment than I could get from any card.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pant Wars

And now for something completely different...

I'm having a small war with my pants. Or maybe it is with pants makers. It all started a few weeks ago when I braved the mall on a mission to find talls for a tall friend. While there, the attentive sales people in Eddie Bauer spotted my cord lust and convinced me to try the "curvy" cut. While they are soft and lovely, curvy cuts apparently end at the top of my hip bones -- about a mile from waist. They also, well, curve around where I curve, so I'm feeling sort of extra out there. Where I am really struggling is in the lowness of the cut in the back. They are still a bit too big in the "waist" (for lack of a better term, since this top part of the pant is really no where near my waist!) and they are low, so when I bend or sit, unless I am careful: coin slot. Noooooooo. How do people live like this? I think the pants are kind of cute when I'm feeling cute (I notice I like them best right after I've been to the gym) and when I'm standing or walking, but sitting is strange and I find my self hiking them up a lot even though they are in no way too big for me.

Okay, so this is totally inane, but its been a long week and the drugs in my system are leaving me a bit hazy and the papers are still not graded... and so I'm thinking about my pants.

radio silence

It has been a long time since I've had anything to say on here, it seems. I think that is mainly because all I have wanted to say to internet-land for the last couple of weeks is, "OUCH!" What began with a strange pain/weakness in my right hip the morning I hopped out of bed to fly to California in mid-October has become a constant, painful companion of late. I recognize the patterns from chronic pain of the past... I'm struggling to focus, to do what I need to do, to get out of the house. I'm terrified that if I stop moving now, I'll stop moving for good.

Some progress with the doctors reveals that it is some damage happening to my L5 nerve root happening in my lower back that is sending the shooting pain and painful numbness down my right leg. My lower leg burns. Even my toes tingle painfully with numbness. Not surprisingly, I've maxed out on ibuprofen so that I can function a bit but by the time evening rolls around, I'm more often than not crawling off to bed whimpering. But then at some ugly hour (usually beginning with a 4 - or 5 if I am really lucky) I'm up, howling in pain. Really, I've found myself howling. I was actually screaming in my car the other day while stuck at a light on a 5 minute drive: the pain had flared up, I had to get out of the car, but I was stuck.

I've got some better drugs, but I'm not taking them now (4:40am) because it is my morning to drive the carpool for middle school. And then there are meetings. And a sizable stack of term papers that must be graded. I will, however, take the prednisone I started yesterday. Yesterday was a better day than I've had in a while, so maybe there is some hope but then the system is doing a crappy job of finding me a specialist to see and a place for physical therapy. There is much more waiting ahead of me. I call the doctor and wait. The nurse calls me back, but only half my questions are answered. So she goes back to the doctor and I wait. Then the referral is not clear, so the clerk has to find the doctor and I will wait some more.

In the meantime, I'm feeling somewhat paralyzed by my partial diagnosis (we now the nerve group but won't know how it is being impinged until I get the MRI next week). In the meantime, should I go to the gym? It feels okay when I am there, crappy after, then (after a nap) I generally feel better for the rest of the day. I have felt myself getting weaker, especially in the last two weeks, sometimes I'm shuffling when walking.... This terrifies me. Maybe the gym makes me feel better because I let myself think I am fighting the decline and confirms that I can still move. But what if I'm making it worse?