Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ten on Tuesday . . .

The more recent topics have not been of interest to me, but today's topic is:

10 Songs about Where You Live

You know I cannot pass that up  :-D

The Superbowl Shuffle - still awfully fun to watch and remember.

Go Cubs Go - by the late and seriously wonderful Steve Goodman.

Lincoln Park Pirates - also Steve Goodman.  Lincoln Park is a very crowded north side neighborhood.

Let's Go, Go Go White Sox - the Sox fight song

And of course, Bear Down Chicago Bears!

Lake Shore Drive - Alliota Haynes & Jeremiah - there really is nothing else like it . . .

Sweet Home Chicago - Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter, et al.

Chicago - everyone knows this one  :-)

My Kind of Town (Chicago is), and everyone knows this one, too!

I'm Coming Home - this song is not actually about Chicago - it's about going home to Southern Illinois, but it's by Big Twist & The Mellow Fellows.  Twist is long gone now (he was only 53 when he passed), and one of my oldest friend's cousin, the late Pete Special (he died two years ago and was only 62) is the lead guitarist.  I believe that's Daddy G (Gene Barge) on the sax solo at the end. One of my all-time favorite bands and I never tire of hearing them.  True Chicago blues at its finest.  

The Sweet Sound of Rhythm & Blues - Here's an extra from Twist for you  :-)  Pete Special wrote this one.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Sunday Wrap-Up . . .

Shopping was great fun yesterday.  I was glad to be out of the house.  I had planned to go to the club today with my cousin, but I'm much more tired today than I thought I would be, and so, once again, it's a jams day here.  I have a lot of meat to use the FoodSaver on and freeze.  They thought I was having a party when I checked out at the store yesterday  :-D  I can freeze things in individual servings, which is great when things are on sale or look particularly good.

PT has been going well this week - there was a breakthrough on Monday, and I'm making progress.  Today I am much more stiff than I have been - I think my shoulder is going to be my new weather barometer  :-)  We had bad storms this morning which means that the barometric pressure dropped.  I had a hard time doing my "wall washes" this morning for PT.  But i did them, and now I have just completed my mid-day PT consisting of all my table stretches.  I'll ice as soon as I finish this post  :-)

I've hit the 10,000 step mark on my Fitbit six days this week, with today being my rest day.  This is a big accomplishment for me  :-)  I do plan to get back to the club with my trainer on Tuesday morning.  There are things we can do that don't involve my right arm, and I can tell I need some core work and some work on my quads.

I haven't been able to spin at all during Tour de Fleece this year.  I'm sad about that, but so it goes.  I'll spin after my shoulder and arm get a little stronger.  I have also had to cut way back on my knitting.  You wouldn't think that it would aggravate my shoulder, but I find that I'm often in more pain on the day after having knit.  I did pick up The Big Easy Gansey yesterday and picked up the stitches for the first sleeve.

I will see about getting through the first pattern repeat and then leave it for another day.  The trick seems to be to not knit for hours on end  :-)

I have not mentioned my budget much recently - truth be told, I haven't been keeping as tight a handle on it - but I have not touched my other account, and that was the entire point of the budget.  Even with the added medical bills and some concrete work on my patio, I've managing to keep things going.  So Yay Me!  :-D

Something I have learned about myself in the last year has come around again:

It sometimes takes me more than one try to move forward.  

And perhaps even more importantly:

It does NOT mean that I have failed if I don't get it right the first time.

It took me a couple of tries to know for sure that my podcast was really done - and people still tell me how much they miss it.  It's taken me many tries where food and exercise are concerned, and it's looking like it's taking me another try to get my food and exercise right now that it's critical to my life that I do so.  And so, another try to release all the reasons I mean excuses I've clung to in the past.  I think this time is the charm, however.  The Strict Program for Three Months was the solution to a minor cholesterol issue a few years ago, and now, it appears that a slightly modified version of it is going to be critical in my fight against inflammation.

And, of course, eating well will certainly help the size of my ass.  Michelle at Boulderneigh is a vegetarian and she's cheering me on.  And I cheer for her as she navigates her extremely busy life.  And Kristyn at Crazy Knitting Fool is looking at major changes in her life.  She's at a liminal place, too, and I have some understanding of those places - I mean, here I am at another in my own life.  So I'm cheering her on.  We are all different - Michelle lives on a small ranch in Portland and Kristyn in suburban Detroit.  I am older, they are younger.  They both have husbands and sons, but we are all on our paths - striving to move forward in our respective lives.

I believe that cheering each other - holding space for each other - makes us stronger women in our own right.  What does holding space mean?  Blogger Heather Plett defines it thus:
"It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement [sic] and control."
And so my readers and friends near and far, I am holding space for you on your journeys, and share these words from Tree of Life Inspirations with you once again:

I believe in you as you
step forward in your life.
I'm inspired by you for 
keeping your dream alight . . .
for facing the challenge
and achieving your goals.
I'm proud of you as I watch 
the bright light of your spirit
embrace the world.

And we all need a fight song - so take your pick  :-)   Here is one of mine (you get to have more than one, you know ;-) ), shared before but always worth another listen  . . .

 And if you need to hear the lyrics again  . . .

Onward . . .

Saturday, July 16, 2016

WARNING: Shoulder Images . . .

I'm going to talk first this morning about a finished object!  Yay!

I'm also doing this to get my shoulder photos - that you may or may not wish to see - below the fold, to use an old newspaper term.


Over in the Year of Stash Socks (YOSS) Group, we've got a Christmas in July theme going on.  These are my July socks!

The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Socks that Rock Lightweight in the Comfort and Joy colorway.  The pattern is the Horcrux Socks (in Fingering Weight).

And just to give you a little Holiday Cheer in the middle of summer . . .

Alrighty then.

We should be far enough down the page now that if you didn't really want to see these photos you could have quit by now  ;-)

I had my first post-op appointment with my surgeon on Tuesday.  My physical therapist joined me there, which was very nice. I had a lot of questions and I got a lot of answers.  I also got a serious wake up call . . .

The steri-strips were removed from my shoulder - and I was more than happy to get them off.  The middle one still had a lot of dried blood under it, and since I was under strict instructions not to get my incisions nor the strips wet, I had been extremely careful to comply.

I should probably remind you at this point that I have been compliant from the very beginning of this journey, and I should also tell you (if you haven't already figured it out) that I am a relatively linear thinker.  That means that I generally follow a stepped progression in my thought process.  This is not to say that I don't have flights of fancy and crazy creativity.  I do.  A lot.  A really lot.  But on things that I don't understand well or have no frame of reference for, I pay attention.  I listen to/read the directions, and I follow them.  I do what I'm supposed to be doing. So I was not getting my shoulder wet, and as long as I was taking even one Norco a day right before PT, I was not getting behind the wheel of an automobile.

Back to the surgeon . . .

Steri-strips off, and the nurse cleaned my up a little.  On the whole, my shoulder looks pretty good on the outside.  I still have a little bit of yellow bruise left, but it's not all that bad.  My scars are small and I think that you might not even know there are there if you didn't know I'd had surgery, or unless you knew where to look.

So . . .  . um . . .  what's the big deal about photographs?????

This is a good website about Adhesive Capulitis/Frozen Shoulder.  I snagged this photo of the inside of a normal shoulder joint from that page.  This is what a normal, healthy shoulder joint looks like!

This is what my shoulder joint looks like . . .

The angles are a little different, but you can clearly see that it's not OK.  Based on that first photo, one's shoulder is not supposed to be any color other than white . . . although there is a little bit of blood here because this was after the manipulation, the pinkish red that you see is inflammation.

Here is a better view of my partially torn rotator cuff:

You can see the pink/red here too.  They trimmed off those frayed pieces and left it alone.  The solid white on the right of all the photos is the bone - no damage, i.e., no arthritis.

Those are the photos - what's the serious wake-up call?

I have known for many years that I "have" inflammation.  I had - and occasionally still have - it in my heels with plantar fasciitis.   I have it in my lungs with asthma.  I've had it on the top of my right foot (mistaken for a stress fracture).  I have it in my right knee.  And I have it in my right shoulder.  I don't know why it's all on the right side of my body - maybe it's not.  Maybe it's just that the right side is where it's chosen to manifest itself for whatever reason.

For years I've had what I thought was a good understanding of what inflammation is, and I know that in my body, sugar exacerbates it.  What I didn't know, was the damage it was doing.

Unlike these guys, I was a theatre/music major, not a doctor!

Yes, I'm keeping my sense of humor through this  ;-)

I'm not a doctor, and I squeaked through both biology and math in undergrad.  I've never really given much thought to what the inside of various parts of my body look like.  I thought that bones were, you know, bone color and pretty much everything else in there was red - I mean, it's the inside of my body - there's blood in there.  But what I have imagined all of my life has flown in the face of what I have actually seen.  I have very real photos of the inside of my own shoulder showing the damage in the joint lining caused by the inflammation in my body.

You want to talk about a wake-up call?????

And so the journey takes a turn - back to the path I have somehow lost over the past three years.

There are many chronic conditions that many people face - diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, inflammation.  Check it out:

29 million people (9.3%) in the US have diabetes
70 million adults (29%) in the US have high blood pressure
25 million people (8%) in the US have asthma

I can't give you a statistic on inflammation from the CDC because the CDC only talks about it in terms of arthritis.

Just because you don't know (or chose to ignore) that something is happening in your body doesn't mean it's not doing damage.

If i can fix at least some of this inflammation in my body via what I do or do not put in my mouth, wouldn't I be a fool not to explore it?  Even before my visit on Tuesday to the surgeon, I had already decided to return to The Strict Program for Three Months.  After my visit I seriously got on the stick.

I mean, really, what am I waiting for???   If not now, when???

There will always be vacations.  There will always be parties.  There will always be dinners out.  There will always be stress/joy/hilarity/sadness - all the things we use food and other substances to celebrate, sooth, and/or avoid. These things aren't going away so it's time for me to learn some better ways of coping with living my life.

There will never be a better or easier time.

 Yeah - let me repeat that:   There will NEVER be a better or easier time.

My choice is made, and yeah, my journey just took a sharp turn - a leap, if you will.  Wanna come along? 

In the meantime, however, I don't take Norco on the weekends and today - for the first time since surgery - I get to drive!

Dude - I'm going to the store  :-D

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Days . . .

The days keep moving forward . . .

I've spent so very much of the past six months focused on my shoulder that I have neglected pretty much every other area of health.  It's like I could only deal with one thing at a time - and when there is physical pain involved, that gets all my attention every time.

So, I'm not in bothersome pain any longer.  Yes, I still have some, and I don't know if I'll ever have 100% of my shoulder again, but it's time now to do my best to focus on other stuff. 

The year is half gone and I'm far too close to my all-time high on the scale.  This isn't good.  It's not best for me, and only I have have control over it.  In fact, it's the one thing I DO have control over - what I put in my mouth.

So, I'm taking steps - literally and figuratively - toward a healthier body.  Again.  So it goes.  No point in getting wound up about it - it is what it is.

Here's something way, way cool:  my FoodSaver! (and it's on sale!)


A Christmas gift from my friend T, I finally got the chance to use it in the past couple of weeks. It rocks SO hard!!

The roundy things on the top are Salmon Cakes that I froze with my old HandiVac sealer.  These Ziploc bags were awful.  The original bags worked really well but they are no longer available - so I tried the Ziploc ones.  It's hard to tell, but there is so much air that didn't get sucked out that they are looking frosty all the way around.

The salmon on the bottom (fresh Sockeye!) looks like it just came off the fish.  Granted, this was one of the first things I sealed and I didn't get it done perfectly - there is a little air trapped there on top.  I've since gotten better  :-) 

This is a great tool for someone like me who tries to freeze things in serving sizes - doing that makes it possible for me to make recipes that feed four, but keeps me from eating the same thing for four nights in a row, which is what happens when you're only one person.

So, I'm always looking for things that freeze well.  This week I made a lasagna and froze it in individual pieces, and I made spinach burritos. 

I will be happy when I can drive again - I should know more on that on Tuesday.

Here's one of my favorite cuts from Girish's Diamonds in the Sun CD. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Moving Forward . . .

I'm now just over a week post-op, and things are going pretty well.  Not perfectly, but pretty well  :-)

These are the things I was thinking about last time:

  • The big bandage comes off this morning.
The physical therapist did take off the big bandage and cleaned me up a little with some rubbing alcohol - that was very helpful.  And I did get out of the sling that day as the feeling came back to my arm as the nerve block wore off.
  •  . . .They are trying me on Norco in the hope that I won't be allergic to it.
I was not allergic to the Norco, which has turned out to be a good thing.  I didn't have nearly the amount of pain I thought I would, but I've needed it for PT.  I'm now taking the Norco only once a day, about an hour before PT.  There is still one direction where I'm not as mobile as I might be, but I keep reminding myself that there is probably still swelling inside my shoulder joint.  My shoulder looks mostly yellow now - still some purple that seems to be deep inside.  The mini incisions itch a bit, so I know they are healing  :-)

I see the surgeon again on Tuesday for my post-op visit.  My physical therapist might go with me (she's checking her schedule). My steri-strips will be removed, and of course I will have a list of questions to be answered.  I don't think that I have any stitches on the outside - I know I have some on the inside.  I also don't know for sure that they actually fixed the small partial tear in my rotator cuff.  I thought they did, but it didn't actually say that they did on the paperwork I got to take to PT, so the therapist said that maybe they didn't.  She said that sometimes if a tear is small, they leave it to heal on its own - that will be one of my questions  :-)

I do know, however, that in addition to the manipulation to break up the adhesions, they did something called a subacromial decompression when they cleaned out the joint.  That's where they shave off some of the bottom of the acromion to make more room in my shoulder joint.

I'm still going to PT every day (M-F).  Some days are better than others (yesterday - not so good.  today, better  :-) ), but I continue to be religious with the at-home PT and the icing - and of course with the giant horse-pill Advil  :-D  I did get the go ahead today from my physical therapist to do some tai chi, which is something I've wanted to do for awhile now.  As much as I loved studying Yoga for the Rest of Us with Peggy Cappy, I think tai chi might be more my style.  For one thing, you can wear your shoes - that makes a big difference for me  :-)  I bought a Great Courses Tai Chi class when they were having a giant sale and I had just started it shortly before the surgery.  I think I will be able to do much better now  :-)

The only restriction I have had is that I cannot drive.  As long as I'm taking Norco, I cannot get behind the wheel, and at the moment my shoulder is not strong enough to drive safely or comfortably.  It's not a big deal for me as I walk to the train every day to get to work, but it's more challenging to go grocery shopping.  My cousin's husband is taking me to the store tonight after work  :-)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Update on My Shoulder . . .

Many thanks for all the good wishes - it was a good thing I decided to fish . . .

Turns out that I had a partial tear in my rotator cuff in addition to my shoulder being partially frozen.

Once he got in with the scope, he found a partial tear that hadn't shown up on the MRI nor the x-rays.  It's fixed now, and I was also told that when they manipulated my arm under anesthesia that it was very stiff. I guess they broke up those adhesions so it will be able to move freely again. Yay!

I had a very rough afternoon yesterday as the anesthesia left my body - thank goodness for Linda the Chicken Lady being here to help me.  Otherwise I would have had to have gone to a rehab facility for a few days.

The big bandage comes off this morning. The nerve block should wear off some time today.  When it does, I take the sling off.  I start PT again this morning - it will be aggressive to keep it from freezing up again. Every day for 2-3 weeks and then back to 2-3 times a week for, I guess, 3-5 months.

This will sound odd, but I'm actually very grateful that he found something. It makes sense now why I didn't respond to PT well before.

I have my massive dose of Advil, and they are trying me on Norco in the hope that I won't be allergic to it. I've had one and will take another before PT today.  They want to be sure I don't have an issue with it before the nerve block wears off. So far, so good. Please cross your fingers that I will be able to take it without issue. Once this nerve block wears off, I think I might need it.

So, onward. It's a new journey, one that I undertake gladly because it means that I regain the full use of my arm again :-)

Friday, June 24, 2016

It's on the Horizon . . .

I'm doing my best to not think about my upcoming surgery.

And when I do think about it, I remind myself that it's arthroscopic and I don't even have to miss much work, and I most likely won't even have to have general anesthesia because they'll do a nerve block and twilight sleep (extra grateful for this last).

But I still think about it.

Why?  Because I'm allergic to narcotic pain medication - both codeine and tramadol.  That means I'm going to have a surgery without pain medication other than Advil, and I'm a bit anxious about it.

I asked the surgeon what type of pain control there would be for me since I couldn't take the stuff they usually use.  He said, "Advil.  800mg three times a day."  That's it.  It gave me pause, that's for sure, and I am so glad that Linda the Chicken Lady is here for a visit and will be helping me through the first days after the surgery, much as she did after my car accident a year or so ago.

The surgeon's office sent me all the pre-surgery stuff last week.  I don't drink very much at all any more.  But, when I read it, I told one of my friends, "I could use a Pearblossom martini from Gibson's right about now . . ." I know that the pre-surgery instructions and info are generic in nature and they cover way more traumatic surgeries than mine will be, but it's startling to read the part about narcotic pain killers (which I can't take) and how you need to start taking them right away (which I can't) so you can stay ahead of the pain because you don't know when the nerve block will wear off (oh joy . . . ).

My friend Michelle commented awhile ago that due to her insurance deductible she would have cut bait.  I'm still thinking about cutting bait, Michelle!  But my shoulder doesn't work, and I'm pretty active - waiting for two years for it to resolve itself doesn't seem a good choice for me.  I met my deductible pretty quickly this year thanks to the MRI I had to have for this shoulder (that was spendy).  In fact, with all the PT and other general doctor visits and drug stuff, I'm already within a few hundred dollars of my Out of Pocket Maximum for this year and it's not even July yet.  Once I reach that max, everything is covered at 100% for the rest of the year. I'll reach it with the shoulder surgery.

Part of my brain keeps thinking that I'm getting better even as I move my shoulder less and less.  Thankfully my left shoulder has not progressed - I'm hoping it won't.

And this morning I'm finishing up the "split prep" for my colonoscopy scheduled for right around lunchtime.  Oh joy.  :-D  Seriously, the prep was not all that bad.  Last time I had the pills, and this time I had something called Prepopik.  The glop wasn't glop and it tasted lemony.  Really wasn't bad at all, so that was a relief.  My bum is a little sore, though  ;-)

I'll let you know how it all goes . . .