Category Archives: medical

Jeepers, My Peepers

Song Lyric of the Day:

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone / I can see all obstacles in my way / Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind

Johnny Nash / “I Can See Clearly Now

I’ve had to wear glasses for decades now, since I was a teenager (I’ll be 74 in a few decades). The past few years, if I wasn’t wearing my glasses or contacts, I could only see things within about 8 or 10 inches in front of me. Everything beyond that was a blur if I wasn’t wearing my glasses or lenses. The past few years, I also noticed how quickly my prescriptions were changing. Read: my eyes were getting worse every few months. If I got a new contact lens prescription in January, it would be outdated by April. Ditto new glasses. When vision insurance only covers so much, it gets expensive going to the eye doctor multiple times a year for new prescriptions.

After years of being frustrated by how blind I was without glasses or contacts and my eyes consistently getting worse, I made the big leap and decided to get LASIK, which I’ve thought about doing for years. I’m actually writing this post without glasses on or lenses in, because I don’t need them anymore: I got LASIK last Monday at Woolfson Eye Institute‘s Knoxville office (they also have one in Atlanta). (My work husband recommended Woolfson to me months ago when he got LASIK, and a couple other friends also recommended them via Facebook.)

I was jittery the day of the procedure because it’s a LASER BEAM CUTTING INTO YOUR EYE. The staff was great, explaining everything in detail before the procedure, as well as what post-op care would entail (resting the first couple of days and so. many. eyedrops.). I was actually in the waiting room with a few fellow LASIK candidates and one PRK patient for much longer than I was in the OR, because that’s how much detail they went into with us about what everything entailed. Once it was my turn to go in the OR, everyone put me at ease before I was even in the chair, which was fully reclined so you’re flat on your back. Dr. Woolfson talked me through things as they were happening, from the speculum being placed to hold my eye open (OMG) to what the laser beam was doing to what he was then doing. I started out staring into a laser beam, which I didn’t really feel doing anything to my eye other than slight pressure. It wasn’t until Dr. Woolfson did his part that I felt noticeable pressure, but nothing painful. It was like looking through a frosted lens. He talked me through the part where you briefly lose vision, which I can only describe as experiencing an eclipse inside my eye; the loss of vision lasted not more than 10 seconds, which was a short time, but was still a weird and freaky experience for me. I think the doctor then used a soft brush to smooth out my cornea once he was done; all I could see was a small white object moving across my eye in the same direction a few times. Then it was on to my right eye to repeat the process. At some point during the procedure I noticed a nurse patting my hands, which I had crossed on my stomach. All told, I was in the OR maybe 12 minutes. After surgery, I was given wraparound sunglasses to wear the rest of the day and the two following days to keep my eyes as protected as possible. You don’t realize how much you touch, scratch, or rub your eyes every day until you’re specifically told to stop doing that. I also had clear eye shields to tape over my eyes to sleep in. Other patients weren’t kidding when they said that was one of the worst complications post-LASIK — that surgical tape really hurts when you peel it off the next morning. Feeling like I was losing a layer of skin was the most painful part of all of this.

Post-procedure you’re told to take it easy, including trying to avoid screens and even reading; when you are watching TV, on your computer/phone/tablet, or reading, you blink less. Blinking is good after LASIK as it helps keep your eye lubricated. So I followed their advice and tried napping (with my eye shields on) as soon as I got home. After my sort-of nap I managed to listen to some TV and text quick group messages to my family to let them know how I was doing. I was in hell not being able to read because my book had gotten really good (I highly recommend Abandon by Blake Crouch). By bedtime Monday night, my right eye was driving me crazy, because it felt like something was stuck in it. Of course there wasn’t, but I tend to fixate on things like that, and it felt 100 percent better when I woke up Tuesday morning. I drove myself to my first follow-up last Tuesday morning and was told I’m now at 20/20 vision. I have another follow-up today that I expect to go just as well.

All told, I’m really happy with how my vision turned out. Being able to SEE again is an adjustment in itself. I don’t have to run to the TV now to read the forecast, because I can see it from across the room. Everything isn’t blurry when I wake up in the morning, although I look forward to being told I can rub my eyes again — the Prednisone eyedrops leave a lovely white gunk behind. My biggest adjustment is reminding myself to not reach for eyeglasses that are no longer on my nightstand. They’re now packed away to be donated down the road, because I don’t need them anymore.

My Glasses

I took this when I put my glasses in the case for the last time, right before I went into the OR.

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Song Lyric of the Day:

When the going gets tough / And the stomach acids flow

Primus / “Seas of Cheese

As long as I can remember, I’ve had what was simply called a sensitive stomach. It wasn’t until about five years ago that I officially got the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Irritable is an appropriate word for it, since it’s beyond irritating not knowing how something I eat is going to affect me. I can eat a certain meal Monday at lunch and be fine. I can have that exact same meal the next day or two days later and end up feeling like I might die. IBS is pretty much a really awful game of chance, with your stomach as the perpetual loser. I try to manage it — I know any food with high-fructose corn syrup is a huge trigger — but it’s not always easy to do so. I’ve learned to live with it, though. Combined with my wonky taste buds, it’s made me a (frustrated) picky eater out of necessity. I try to avoid trigger foods, but some I refuse to give up. I mean, spaghetti sauce? Yes, it’s acidic, but it’s also delicious and worth whatever I might have to deal with for indulging. I’ll go to my grave a bloated, stomach-cramped pasta-lover.

While I’m used to my IBS-related issues, last summer I noticed I was feeling really horrible pretty much around the clock. I at first thought maybe it was just my IBS being worse than usual, but decided to go see my gastroenterologist just in case. After discussing my symptoms, frequency, etc., my doc decided I should get an upper GI endoscopy. The day of the test came, and my friend Tamara drove me so Rich could get the kids to school and to Mom’s. Come scope time, I passed out as expected and woke up in a recovery room some time later. My doctor stopped by to let me know that I had significant scarring in my esophagus from acid reflux and that I had gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). I was validated in that I wasn’t imagining my IBS had run amok, but I was shocked to hear about the scarring as I’d never felt acid reflux symptoms before — no burning, no pain, nothing. That is, until I was put on medication to treat it. I became aware of and felt every instance of acid reflux within days of starting Pantoprazole, and good grief, did it hurt. It took weeks to stabilize to the point where I was no longer feeling that pain. The really fun part is that a side effect of Pantroprazole happens to be the worst of my IBS symptoms. I am now on two additional medications to treat the reflux and GERD, and still trying to avoid trigger foods, although I’m a stress-eater, so lately I haven’t done as well as I should have. I’ve told the spouse on multiple occasions that I was much happier when I didn’t know all this was going on. Ignorance truly was bliss when it was just me and my IBS.

I’m never going to be the ideal IBS/GERD patient. I know that. Honestly, I just don’t have that kind of willpower. (Also: See above remark about stress-eating.) As it is, I’m currently part Samoa as Girl Scout Cookie season just ended and I have my dealer living in my house. My skin even has a nice, faint toasted-coconut scent to it now. I am, however, doing my best to moderate what I eat as well as add a bit more variety. It’s not easy, but it’s something I know I’ll have to work at and keep an eye on the rest of my life.

Fried Deviled Eggs

The fried deviled eggs at Scrambled Jake’s: so delicious and something I can only eat as a rare treat. (Photo taken by me)


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Song Lyric of the Day:

Don’t fail me, feets don’t fail me now

I’ve intermittently been using crutches since my toe lopping two weeks ago. Coraline coined a new verb a couple of days in when she said, “Mommy, I can hear you crutching down the hall.” Since then that’s how we’ve referred to my frequent and always completely graceless use of crutches. Because if ever there was something clumsy people were not meant to use, it’s those fancy medical walking sticks.
You know what’s worse than limping around after toe surgery? Using crutches. Turns out they’re an upper body workout: Two days in, my abs hurt, my neck hurt, my upper back hurt. I also ended up with a huge spot rubbed raw on my right ribcage. Which is weird since I put my weight on the left foot because my right foot is the one that got operated on. The palms of my hands also hurt because they were supporting so much of my weight. All of this is to say I said to hell with the crutches on Friday. They were more hassle and pain than it was worth, so now I’m just hobbling around on my feet. (Although I did use them some Sunday after overdoing the hobbling on Friday and Saturday.) I’ve been careful to stick to my doctor’s instructions and keep the weight on my heel, though, which has me walking around like Frankenstein’s daughter on a leisurely afternoon stroll.
I’ve also been about as graceful on crutches as Tucker (who faked needing them) in There’s Something About Mary.

Not a pretty sight, is it? Me using crutches is about on par with that. You know who else is happy to see me not use crutches? Caleb, the fearless wonder dog. He’d see me coming down the hall and haul ass as far away from me as possible. Poor guy wouldn’t even let me pet him if the crutches were so much as in reach. I didn’t know dogs could give the stink eye to inanimate objects until the last few days.

This morning I’m going to my most-anticipated follow-up appointment since my post-C-section one, and I hope my foot doc at least takes the bandages off. You wouldn’t think you’d need 75 or so layers of gauze for a toe surgery, but it turns out you do; all those layers make it harder to hobble since my foot is on a slant in my boot. I also hope to be cleared to drive again; poor Rich has been my on-call chauffeur since my surgery. Mostly, though, I want her to say my toe is healing perfectly since I’ve been an angel about following my post-op instructions: keeping it elevated as much as possible, sleeping with my boot on (so fun), keeping my foot elevated in bed while I sleep (so fun when I need to sleep on my side), and garbage-bagging my foot to keep the bandages and boot completely dry while I shower. Our old-man shower with the seat has earned its place in my heart these last couple of weeks. But this will all be worth it when I can effortlessly slip into and wear any of my pairs of shoes in a few months.

Toe Sock

How I class up and keep my toes warm on cold days: one of Rich’s tube socks.

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And This Little Piggy Went “Bitch, That Hurt!”

Song Lyric of the Day:

My tired feet / Oh my tired feet / My tired feet brought me to that red boat / So still and foreign waters

Alela Diane / “Tired Feet

About two years ago I broke my right pinky toe. I’m naturally (frighteningly) clumsy, and that day I was looking over my shoulder talking to Rich as he changed Coraline’s diaper. So instead of simply walking through the door from Coraline’s room into the hallway, my right pinky toe took the full brunt of the wall by the door. Rich helped tape my pinky toe to the one next to it in the hopes it would heal OK. Turns out it did not, so I finally went to a podiatrist last year because my toe hurt in most of my shoes — flats, heels, whatever. Simply wearing shoes had started to hurt, and I couldn’t even get my right foot into certain shoes anymore, even with my toes taped.

My foot doc said I created a hammertoe when I broke it (STOP! Hammertoe time!), and suggested a tenotomy. Basically, she’d slice the tendon underneath my toe to cause it to flatten out. Flatter toe equals an easier time fitting into and wearing shoes, right? In my case, wrong. My foot doc had made things clear up front so that I knew going into that procedure in December 2012 that there was a chance the tenotomy wouldn’t work. By late summer 2013, though, I was still having trouble fitting into some of my shoes, and I was pretty sure that my recovery time had long since passed. I scheduled another visit to my doc, and she confirmed that the tenotomy had not worked for me. In fact, I think it actually made the problem worse in that my toe would rub raw in some shoes. She explained my two options: Learn to live with it, or get a PIP reduction, where the bone gets shaved down a bit and reset and then a pin is put in place. All of that leaves you with a toe just the eensiest bit shorter than before.

So two days ago I had a PIP reduction. My pinky toe now has a white plastic tip sticking out of it — which I’ve christened the Eiffel Toe-wer — protecting the pin that needs to stay in for the next four weeks. As if I didn’t know to be careful, my doctor reiterated, “Bend the pin, bend the toe.” So I’m being extra careful because I want and need for my toe to heal WELL. I’ve been sitting around for two days straight now just keeping my foot elevated, which would have me climbing the walls save for the fact that our friends Caren and Evan are in town. Although before they arrived last night I’d been sleeping like a hibernating bear.

I have several more days of keeping my foot elevated and can’t put my full weight on it just yet, only on the heel. I have to say, I really took walking and mobility in general for granted until this surgery. With the tenotomy I was at least able to hobble around on my foot. Now I’m relegated to my husband duct-taping a garbage bag around my foot so I can use our old-man shower with the seat. At least my knowing our dog Caleb sees me as a half-bionic monster thanks to the crutches is amusing.

The moral of this story? Don’t break your damn toe.

The Eiffel Toe-wer broadcasts a radio station with a reach of half a foot.

P.S.: This post was brought to you by me on legally prescribed drugs.


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Muted Momma

Song Lyric of the Day:

Shh! Shh! / It’s oh so quiet / Shh! Shh! / It’s oh so still / Shh! Shh! / You’re all alone / Shh! Shh!

Betty Hutton / “It’s Oh So Quiet

Tuesday night I felt a bit wheezy, like my asthma was acting up, a rare occurrence.  So I found my rescue inhaler and took a couple of puffs. Yesterday I still felt a bit wheezy, so I kept my inhaler with me and used it twice during the first part of the day. Later on, my voice started to get a bit spotty. When reading Coraline bedtime stories, I couldn’t do the voices I usually do because my voice couldn’t hit the higher notes. Also, I didn’t want to scare her; she was already giving me the side-eye on account of how different I sounded. This morning when I woke up, my voice was all but gone. It progressively got worse throughout the day, even though I did my best to not talk too much. Late in the afternoon my throat started to hurt; it almost feels like I have a lump and like something (my vocal cords?) is swollen. The only bright side is that Coraline thought I was whispering on purpose, so she’d whisper back to me. The timing of this really stinks since in two days we’re hosting a 40th wedding anniversary party for my parents. It’d be nice if I could congratulate them without having to write it down for them to read.

Other than the throat weirdness and a mild cough (which hurts because of the throat pain) I actually don’t feel too bad. I just sound horrible. I was proactive this afternoon and called my doctor’s nurse line and left a voicemail in my raspy whisper describing what’s been going on since Tuesday night. The nurse called me back pretty quickly and scheduled an appointment for me for tomorrow morning. It works out that I’d already asked to take tomorrow off from work to prep for Saturday’s party. Of course, I hate that I have to waste time at the doctor’s office, but I need to get to the bottom of this since I’ve never lost my voice like this before, and the throat pain is pretty uncomfortable. I Googled “sudden laryngitis” and from what I read, my best guess would be a yeast infection of my vocal chords brought on by my rescue inhaler. Or I could just be affected after watching the “Hush” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer the other day. Either way, this really sucks.

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A Good Friday the 13th

Song Lyric of the Day:

When I was young and moving fast / Nothing slowed me down, oh, slowed me down / Now, I let the others pass

The Black Keys / “Tighten Up

Blogging Note: You’ll see a deluge of posts I wrote over the last few days. I held off on posting them while I tweaked the blog layout a bit. What can I say? I’m a bit OCD that way.

Today was my followup appointment to my hospital stay. The good: I can resume light activities. As in sitting on my tochus and sorting papers — in my home office versus on the couch. The bad: I am apparently still having mild contractions, although the doctor thinks they’re Braxton Hicks contractions. (And, no, I’m still not feeling them.) The ugly: I’m still not cleared to go back to work. I have another appointment early next week, so we’ll see what they clear me for after that.

What does this mean for my weekend plans? Basically that I can at least indulge my need to organize something, most likely my home office. Rich will be at the A-frame most of the weekend, so at least I can make myself a bit more useful around the new house than I’ve been in days. And even though the doctor said I can start taking on some light activities, I’m determined to not overdo it, which I know I can easily do if I let myself get carried away at being productive again. Because squee — I get to DO SOMETHING. Something that’s not just sitting on the couch, surfing the Web or watching everything on our DVR. Now to choose that something very carefully.

TiVo viewing for the last two days: half a White Collar, three and a half eps of Hex, and half an ep of Law & Order: SVU.


Filed under bedrest, medical, personal, pregnancy, tv