Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 65 Monday- Best. Physical. Therapist. Ever.

It was both a sad and happy day. I have mixed emotions about saying goodbye to my Physical Therapist. Home Health Care has been wonderful! Having to get my INR levels tested once or twice a week was not something I could have done. I could barely drive in a car the first few weeks... everything hurt too much. I could not have left the house that often! Also, I could not have gone and done Physical Therapy... so Dan and Ashley came to my rescue.
Dan was my main therapist. He was wonderful! He always talked in this calm and slower voice. He was positive and encouraging, but could push me farther than I thought I could go. I am so happy that I've moved up to the point that I can go to a physical therapist in an office, I feel like he's been a friend.
I feel like he would be so proud to see me in a few more weeks, he would be the one to celebrate my victories! He's seen how far I've come and he knows how hard I've worked for it.
I always joke with him when he tells me I'm doing well, I remind him that "Remember I'm not 80 years old!" because I always wonder if he's comparing me to some of his other patients.
Ashley is hilarious because we've had bad luck with my blood draws. She always apologizes and feels bad that we have to do it multiple times... it doesn't bother me at all. I always feel bad that it's my testing that causes her stress. She is funny and I love her laugh!
It's interesting the relationships you build with caregivers. They are like your personal cheerleaders! There are really only a handful of people who know have known me as well as them. They educated me and took the time to answer all my questions... helping me know everything from medical terms to the dangers of high heels. Dan had to hear me whine about everything! I explained my stupid fears of having to retire my collection of high heels... going into details of why I like to wear them, and how flats make my feet look big... and they are big. I explained that heels are just one of many benefits from marrying a 6'7" hunk of burning love!
So it was a sad farewell. Dan wished me well, and I'll see Ashley for the last time Thursday. I know my new Physical Therapist will be great and encourage me... but  he will not have been the one who saw me at my very lowest.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 62 Friday- Clots or no clots?

Today I had to go back down... again... to UVRMC. I had a follow-up Ultrasound to look at my DVT's. (Deep Vein Thrombosis)
I have not just one, but TWO DVT's! They are super painful, very warm to touch, and swell so bad that Mike calls them the alien's growing out of my legs. What are DVT's you ask?

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the formation of a blood clot (thrombus) in a deep vein, most commonly of the legs. A DVT can occur without symptoms, but in many cases the affected extremity will be painful, swollen, red, and warm, and the superficial veins may be engorged. The most serious complication of a DVT is that the clot could dislodge and travel to the lungs, which is called a pulmonary embolism (PE). 

According to Virchow's triad, venous thrombosis occurs due to three factors: decreased flow rate of the blood (venous stasis), damage or activation of the blood vessel wall and an increased tendency of the blood to clot (hypercoagulability). DVT formation can start inside of leg vein valves, where the blood is relatively oxygen deprived. Several medical conditions increase the risk for DVT, such as physical trauma, cancer and antiphospholipid syndrome. Other risk factors include older age (the strongest), surgery, immobilization (as with bed-rest, orthopedic casts, or during long-haul flights), oral contraceptives and inborn tendencies to form clots known as thrombophilia (for example, in carriers of factor V Leiden). 

These blocked veins have been a concern now for 8 weeks. I've had to have two CT scans with dye to check for Pulmonary Embolisms. It's a concern that just sits in the back of my mind. I've been on Coumadin for 8 weeks now! (After having a severe allergic reaction to the first blood thinning medication I took, Xarelto... and then suffering through the stupid shots until the Coumadin kicked in!)
So, I'm hoping they are gone and 'Blood Clots' are something I can cross another 'issue' off my list.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 61 Thursday- I'm Tacky... as in Tachycardia

Today I went down to Provo and saw my Cardiologist, Dr. Dahl.
I'm so glad that he is a close friend of the family... because after Dr. Larsen, I know that he'll not only listen to me, but he'll go out of the way to help me.
My heart rate has been climbing since about two weeks after surgery. There really are no reasons for it. I'm losing my hair still also. At first, I was told by Dr. Christensen that my body was in shock. My menstrual cycle went away for two months, my hair is falling out, and my heart rate keeps getting higher and higher.
My heart rate was much lower after the accident... it wasn't even high after surgery, or after I first left the hospital. I wonder if it could be contributed to some extra drama that inconveniently had to blow up shortly after I got home from the hospital.
After talking to Dr. Dahl, and giving him my history, he concluded that there wasn't any real reason why I was having issues with my heart. I really thought that if I got my pain meds my heart rate would return to normal... but no luck. He tells me that he wants to run a bunch of tests with blood work, he wants an EKG, and he wants to try putting me on a beta blocker.

What's a Beta Blocker?

Beta Blockers are a common class of prescription drugs that counteract the stimulatory effects of adrenaline (epinephrine) on what are called the beta receptors. These receptors are found in many tissues of the body including the nervous system and heart. When beta receptors are stimulated, the heart beats faster and harder and the blood vessels constrict, resulting in an elevation of blood pressure. If the coronary arteries are narrowed by atherosclerosis, the increased burden on the heart can cause inadequate oxygen delivery to the heart muscle (myocardium) itself, leading to the chest pain and other symptoms of angina pectoris.

Beta blockers act by suppressing these stimulatory impulses and lead to a slowing of the pulse rate and a reduction in blood pressure. By reducing the workload of the heart, they can also relieve symptoms of angina pectoris.

Since beta blockers can slow the passage of impulses through the heart, these drugs can also be useful for the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias, particularly those involving abnormally fast heart rates or premature beats of the heart. Beta blockers have also been used in the treatment migraine, glaucoma, social anxiety. Certain types of tremors and some cases of mitral valve prolapse can also be treated with beta blockers.

The most common side effects of beta blockers are drowsiness and fatigue, along with dizziness and weakness. Dryness of the mouth, eyes, and skin may occur, and those taking beta blockers may develop cold hands and feet. Sleep disturbances and a decreased sex drive are less common but possible side effects of beta blockers. Wheezing is also a less common but potentially significant side effect of beta blockers, and for this reason, they are often not prescribed for people with asthma. Other serious side effects are rare.
So his concern is that my blood pressure is low... well normal for me. In the office it was 110/78... but my heart rate was about 120. He said I needed to monitor my blood pressure while taking it. I should check it periodically during the day, and if I don't feel well or feel sick, I should stop taking them immediately.
We then talked to Charlie... not the Dr. He caught us up on his life and his kids. His son was born a few months after Cori and Dylan. He's had some struggles over the past 10 years, and it broke my heart to hear some of the things he has gone through... and is still going through.
He asked about how things were going with Dr. Larsen. I told him I was off my pain meds and I'm hoping I can shake the 'drug addict' stigma. Charlie just laughs! He thinks it's hilarious! I'm glad it's funny to him... I hope one day I can look back and find the humor in it... not quite there yet.
So I went and gave my blood and scheduled my EKG for next week. It's crazy to think this is still happening. Now with Mike's surgery coming up in a few weeks, I still can't wrap my mind around how quickly our life has been turned upside down.
As we cancel family vacations and try and figure out how our summer will play out... I can't help but wonder how many things we will have to change permanently. How will our kids handle this difficult summer? They are the ones I feel the most sorry for.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thanks for noticing (as eeyore says)

I have 17... that's right 17 post written. I'm not as lazy as I look!!! It feels so good to be writing, it's so therapeutic.

I wanted to give a huge THANK YOU to all of those that have helped me, and are still helping me through this. It's been insanely hard, and I've never been good at accepting help. I know someday I will look behind me and see the lessons I've learned... but for now I'm just trying day-to-day. I could have never done it on my own!
They say friendship is like peeing your pants... everyone can see it, but only you can feel it's warmth. I have such great friends and family. I love you all!

I've always had a lot to say, and with the time to write I get a little out of control! Someday they will be posted... someday!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 57 Sunday- I never say "can't"

I know that I've missed a lot... Spring Break, Mother-Daughter Day, Hunger Games premier, Lexi's Hope of America... but it still upsets me every time I have to say "can't". This weekend I missed my Brother-in-law's college graduation.
I really thought I could do it, but I feel I'm constantly reminded of the things I "can't" do.
When I went to my last Dr appointment I saw the blossoms on the trees and realized Spring is almost over! I've missed a lot...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 55, Friday- Redefining my own definition

You know the saying... What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!...? It's so not true! Maybe that phrase should be defined as pertaining to emotional things that are difficult. Because physically, what doesn't kill you leaves you weak and able to do less than before. Not stronger... but more grateful for things you previously took for granted.
Today, another disappointment.
I was talking to Jess, telling her I need to set a goal. I told her that we should run a 5K together next spring... we can train together and run together. I don't want to beat a certain time... I just want to do it... to finish it.
As I lay here injured... my comfortable clothes consist of  basketball shorts and collection of 5K t-shirts. It's a pretty sad thing to look down and be reminded of the things you can no longer do.
I told my physical therapist Ashley about the goal. She said "Oh no! You really shouldn't do that." I thought maybe she had forgotten what a stubborn and determined person I am. I can do it! I have always been able to do anything I decide I can do. She said, "With needing a total knee replacement in your future... it will just make you need a new knee even sooner." My heart fell into my stomach. "Are you saying I can't run?" I asked. She said "I'm not saying you can't, I'm saying you should not run again unless you HAVE to!" So I had to make a joke to lighten the mood about being chased by a murderer. What else can I do but make a joke? I'm not ready to let those things go yet... to accept the changes. Not changes that affect my day-to-day life... those are finally starting to sink in... changes that affect my GOALS, my DREAMS, my PASSION.
'Athletic' isn't just what I do or what I enjoy, it's who I am, who I've always been. I'm not saying it's the only thing that defines me... but for as long as I can remember 'athletic' has just been a part of the way God made me! When you're 5'10" in 9th grade and build with broad shoulders and the ability to build muscles like a man... all you can do is embrace it, use it and enjoy it! It shaped my likes and dislikes... I got my summer tan by running up and down an outdoor court, instead of laying on a chair flipping like meat on the barbque. I didn't slather oil, I glistened with sweat. Why swim in the water if you can be pulled at exhilarating speeds on top of the water! I wasn't ever evenly tanned... My nose, ears and tops of my shoulders got the sun... and my stomach never saw the sun unless i was hot enough to flip it up and tuck it in my sports bra. (Man how I wish I could have that stomach back... I never appreciated that stomach!!!)
So I can change the things I do... but I can't change who I am! How do I do that? Where do I begin? That's not something I can take a pill for or see a specialist to fix it... It's what I have to figure out, I've got to change the way I think and learn to define myself differently.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day 40 Thursday- I'm throwing myself a pity party

So I totally went to the place I hadn't allowed myself to go to. I have tried so hard to not let my mind think about the negative, or admit that my future may hold limitations.
It all started because I knew I needed a shower. Mike's new position at work is causing him stress right now. The problem is that I can't take a shower without someone helping me.
I'm getting better, and as I'm feeling better I can't do more things for myself... but unfortunately I still need help getting in and out. I have the bench and hand held shower attachment, but I'm still physically so limited.
So Mike was working, and had a conference call with developers in China. I had to wait... which was harder because I wanted to go to bed, but his call was at 9pm, so I waited.
When he was done I showered. I was tired and had a yucky day. I felt gross... hence the shower... and I was sore from my adventures Tuesday.
As I was in the shower we started talking about things. Mike's family was going out camping at the sand dunes over the weekend. We obviously couldn't go, and I was sad but also happy for all of them. It was Easter weekend, so I knew we could stay busy. However, next week is also Spring Break and the kids are out of school all week.
I've always loved Spring Break! We plan a ton of activities or go somewhere every year. This year not only is nothing planned... but I have to keep the house pretty calm and quiet. I feel horrible about it! My sister J is here taking care of me, but now she'll have 4 other kids to manage during the day! I haven't let them play with friends because I can't ask people helping me to try and keep track of them, and I can't have friends over because it's too loud and crazy. All around it just sucks for everyone right now!
So all of this lead into the discussion of my limitations and the realization that some of things might very well be things I won't ever be able to do again.
Camping... I can't sleep on the ground, and the cold nights will be so painful. Hiking... that's self-explanatory. 4 wheelers... will be hard on the knees. Water skiing and sea-doo's... even harder in the knees! Amusement Parks... I won't last more than 2 or 3 hours at a time on my feet. Traveling... it will be so painful to be stuck in an airplane seat for hours without stretching, and long car drives will be the same problem. Working (hair styling)... best case scenario I find a stool and work super limited hours, worst case scenario I can't ever do it again at all!
When the flood gates opened it was a mess! I was crying... sobbing. I was looking at everything negative. All the things I WON'T be able to do. I started saying how glad I was that we had done so much traveling and seen the world, because I may never see anything again! It was total doomsday.
Mike just let me cry. He let me cry about everything and talk like my life was over. He tried to help me see how things might still be possible, they just may have to be changed. Well I don't want things to change! Someone recently said I'll have to find new hobbies... like what? knitting?!! I don't want to find new hobbies, and want to do all the things I love to do with my family. Someone said I can send Mike and the kids off hiking and I can kick back and relax. I don't want to relax, I don't want to be left behind, I want to be able to hike!
It was a true meltdown... and while it sucked, I knew at some point it would have to happen. I honestly was surprised it hadn't happened sooner. I woke up the next morning with swollen and puffy eyes to find an email from Uncle Brent. He has suffered injury after injury, and he's had a crazy amount of surgeries. His life has totally changed. He wrote a beautiful and inspiring message to me. I just still can't accept the change, I'm not ready to let go of the idea that things will go back to the way they were. Uncle Brent said that things will go back to 'normal'... but that I will have a 'new normal'. I know that he's right... I'll get there... I'm just not ready yet.

* I just wanted to print a copy of Uncle Brent's message to me so I can always have it...

Sherian, My heart has been with you all the way! There are so many new realities to adjust to along the way and you are never sure if they are going to be permanent or just a temporary inconvenience. My problems started with my shoulder, I had surgery and thought within 2 months my life would be normal again. Not exactly how it worked. 1 surgery lead to a partial shoulder replacement and then to a total replacement. Still to this day, it only works at best 30% as good as previous and its been 3 years. I'm sure you are progressing faster than you think. It comes slow but every day you'll do one new chore, do one more batch of laundry or give that one extra hug to your kids that you couldn't the day before and sooner than you know, you will be close to normal. Normal is the key word. Unfortunately, your new normal may not be like the old normal, but you are young and strong and have a great family to work hard for. I don't think I could have gone through the surgeries without a family to live for and to heal for. Hang in there girlfriend! You are strong and creative and have a wonderful soul. It will get better, but it comes slow and remember, you're the only one who can feel the pain, not your doctors, not your family, not your friends, they will never know how hard it is to stay strong every day, but listen to your body and be patient, you will recover and your new normal, while it may be different, will be stronger and deeper than ever before.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day 38 Tuesday- Terrific Tuesday!

This really is the best day I've had so far! It's interesting how all the things I used to take for granted have turned into the things that make me so happy!
Today wasn't anything spectacular, especially by typical standards.
Besides my disaster of trying to go to the movie, I've only left the house for doctor appointments. I've had such a hard time getting into see my doctor that I was so relieved to get some answers and feel like I have someone monitoring and caring about what's going on... specifically my blood clots, tachycardia, medication interactions, and anything else that might pop up.
I opted for my crutches instead of the walker. I've been feeling better about the crutches, and my balance seems better. Of course when they brought me back and took my vitals my heart rate was in the 140's... which is better than the 150's.
My doctor was his usual wonderful self. I did, however, start by letting him know how difficult it was to get an appointment with him. Also... I wanted him to know that his front desk and nurse supervisor considers blood clots and elevated heart rate a "well visit" or "check-up". He seemed pretty upset and quite frankly embarrassed. So I had written down my list of question, which he spent time answering.
He explained my INR and PT levels in regards to my Coumaden dosage. He offered to prescribe an "at home" testing kit so I could manage my own levels. I'm opting to wait as long as possible before I have to prick my own finger. Sadly... I'm actually a pretty strong person... but the thought of giving myself a shot or somehow drawing my own blood makes me nauseous. So as long as Home Health is coming, they will do the blood work and call it into the Doctor. But just the fact that someone is caring and wanting to monitor my levels makes me want to cheer! He also let me know that he will order ultrasounds, and it will be at least 6 months before I come off my blood thinner.
He was upset that I had been prescribed anti-inflammatory medication to take with blood thinning medication. The good news was the I had taken my last anti-inflammatory pill the night before. We talked about the Tachycardia, hair loss, and loss of my menstrual cycle. He thinks that my body is still in shock, and while it's a long time to still be so much shock, it's not unheard of. He's not worried about it, just wants me to continue to take it easy. (Which is harder as I feel better) He was also shocked at the amount of pain medication I had been on when I came home from the hospital... but he was impressed with how I had stepped down off my meds.
I've been trying really hard through all this to be smart amount my meds and also be totally aware of the threat of addiction and not being naive to the fact that I'm not above the risk of addiction. Without managing my meds, and also promising myself that I should never medicate myself to the point of not feeling at least some pain... I feel good about where I'm at. It's easy to see how how addiction happens. Some days are definitely harder than others, and on the hard days it's hard not to think that popping one more pill would make it so much easier.
So on the days of physical therapy I take medication at bedtime... but I know that even THAT is going to have to end. I feel torn... there is a fine line. I want to feel good enough to be able to push myself, but at the same time I want to get off the meds because I know my body will progress better without the medications.
I talked with my doctor about getting off the pain killers. I've been in denial about how strong my medication really is. I haven't been able to take Percocet... I never have. Narcotics make me so sick, but for whatever reason Percocet doesn't work for me, it doesn't relieve my pain and it makes me want to crawl out of my skin. My first memories of Narcotics are Tylenol with Codine, and Lortab when I got my wisdom teeth pulled. I was vomitting so bad that I knew I'd rather be in pain than deal with the pain and the nausea. So I've been taking forms of Morphine, which is stronger... and actually works for me.
I thought that if I came off the meds slowly, I wouldn't need to step down to something less strong instead of just going off 'cold turkey'. When I explained to the doctor that the usual narcotics don't work for me, he said that I could try and come off... but I would suffer 'withdrawal' type symptoms. He said my entire body would hurt... head to toe. I would be sick. I'll have the clammy sweats, and basically feel like I was beat up. I said "You mean I'd feel like I was hit by a car?" which, by the way, will be a term I won't use lightly. It's interesting... because the older I get, the more terms I find are really not appropriate to use. I've always hated when people say that something makes them "want to kill myself", or they use that gesture of putting their finger to their head pulling the trigger. I'm sensitive to it because a loved one of mine committed suicide. Well now, feeling "like I've been hit by a car" is not a feeling I will compare to any other sickness or soreness. Because truthfully, being hit by a car is the most hurt I have ever felt. Labor and childbirth hurt, healing from childbirth hurt, but getting hit by a car is a pain and suffering that produces absolutely no good thing... like a sweet baby to have and hold. Instead, I have a lifetime of pain and limited mobility.
So the good news is that someone cares... the bad news is that I still have a ton of things wrong with me, and the end of all this is not coming any sooner than expected. But on to more of this good day!...
I then went to American Fork Hospital (which is a cuss word to me!) to pick up my medical records. I had called on Monday and asked how to get them and also spoke with someone in radiology to get all my x-rays and CT scans on a disc. Jess pushed me in the wheelchair, and we had the leg attachment, so I wasn't physically straining myself or dealing with my heart rate skyrocketing! They gave me my records and as I thumbed through them it looked as if they were the records from both AF and UVRMC. I asked, and they said it all the records from any IHC hospital or clinic since the accident. I was so happy! That meant we didn't have to go to UVRMC in Provo and get stuff there. I went to radiology and it was the same thing... they had copied everything from both hospitals! I was so excited... it felt like one of the first things that had actually swung in my favor for once.
We then decided to drive through Taco Time and get lunch. I thought I'd try to ride in the passenger seat this time and see if my foot could handle it. I haven't eaten fast food since the accident, so it felt like such a treat. Then we drove to Orem and picked up Morgan. I kept doing my ankle pumps because it felt so good to ride in the front. Oh... did I mention that it was an absolutely beautiful day? It was amazing! The sun was shining, it was warm, it just seemed like heaven.
So we went home and I knew that spending that much time without my foot elevated, getting in and out of the car, using my crutches, and everything else would catch up to me. I knew I would pay the price tomorrow... but it felt so wonderful, I was willing to take it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Day 37 Monday- Me and My Foot!

This is my foot... specifically the right one...

This picture is of Me and My Foot in Antigua 2009.

I love my foot! We have been in a relationship now for 32 years. We have always treated each other well, been there for each other in times of need, I've always been able to rely on my foot. Yes... we have had our fair share of bumps in the road. I've taken my foot with me all around the world. We've been to Alaska, Mexico, Greece, Italy, all the Caribbean Islands, New Zealand and Australia. We've hiked in Moab together and even ran a 1/2 marathon together!
I've sometimes pushed my foot too hard, and when I do, my foot will put me in my place... and I have to prove that I'm sorry and won't do it again. When I was younger, I took my foot for granted, and I will admit... sometimes I still do! We've been through thick and thin (pregnancy...give or take 70 pounds) and we've grown a lot over the years.
I thought our relationship was strong, I thought we could handle the rocky roads. I thought we would last forever... now I don't know.
I have reason to doubt our relationship... and while I want to think positive, this time my foot may have gone to far!
The good news is that we are seeing a therapist, and I have a professional who can hopefully help. My fear?... I'm worried that my foot might not be in it for the long haul.

The sad truth. This really is my foot today, and I'm not sure what the hell is wrong with it! (You cannot judge my left foot in this picture! I took it standing up, balancing on it! It's probably ready to throw in the towel too! )

On a side note... a friend of mine knows about feet. I messaged him with my issues and he never got back to me. Maybe becoming a doctor makes him knowledgeable... but apparently not able to share suggestions or opinions without being paid. I guess that's why I'll see the referred foot doctor and pay the co-pay for his opinion. I sure wish I could have been paid for my opinions I've given over the years... I'd be so independently wealthy I could live on my own island and save the world from all my opinions!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 35 Saturday... Rub-a-dub dub

Huge milestone! I actually took a shower without the door open and my leg on a folding chair. I was able to sit on the bench and slide across far enough to bend my knee and shut the shower door. It felt amazing! I still need help getting in and out of the shower. It's quite an ordeal, and it's been humbling to be so physically vulnerable.
As the warm water washed me and I stayed warm (because leaving the door open not only flooded the bathroom floor... but made the air so cold!) I promised myself that when I get better, I will enjoy and be thankful for my showers.
Today was the Saturday sessions of General Conference. Strangely, I went to sleep last night at 9:30pm and didn't wake up until 1:30pm this afternoon. I would have kept sleeping, but Mike was worried about me and wanted me to eat something. I just kept taking my meds and going back to sleep.
I recorded the sessions, but watched the special in-between. It was about pornography and how it affects marriages and families. My heart just ached for the wonderful women I know who are suffering through similar challenges. I tried to put myself in their shoes and found myself wondering if I could survive that. Is my marriage strong enough to survive that? I'm not sure. I know that just because I haven't had to deal with that... yet, it's always there. It's always a possibility. Mike and I keep an open dialogue about those struggles, but nobody is immune to the temptations.
Mike was able to go to the Priesthood Session tonight with Dave and Dylan. Kim called and offered to stay with me so he could go. I was so grateful for that. He needed the break and spiritual fulfillment. Kim has been so wonderful to me, truly a rock. I'm so thankful for her and the kindness she has shown to me and all my family. She has become a sister, even more than that (because that's not very close anymore) she is a best friend.
I was thinking that today I realized another blessing... gratitude for showering. I've never been a bath person, but I love a long hot shower. Now I will love them even more!