Is it time for Botox… in my hips?

Before I get rolling on this, my second blog entry for the day, let me show you Jennifer Grey (Dixie), the foster kitten who still doesn’t trust people much. Here she is, nestled in my sock bin and hiding from the world. And another photo of her with her brother Giorgio. Giorgio is the sweetest, quietest boy and looks gigantic next to her. But then, I think foster Jean-Paul Sartre, two months her junior, is also bigger than her.

So, I went to my specialty neurologist, the physical rehab doctor. Who laughed at my “Emotional Support Animal” t-shirt with the image of Animal from The Muppets.

She thanked me for being flexible and moving my appointment, and we started chatting. She agrees that some of my problems may have resumed with the recent shift change at work, and that Morton’s neuromas make sense after decades of toe walking.

My primary care physician had prescribed me Flexeril to try when my body felt stiff. My neurological physiatrist switched it to Baclofen and suggested I might take it up to three times a day when I feel stiff.

She was impressed when I showed off my quad stretch without leaning on anything.

But she studied my shoes and watched me walk and noted that my right leg is sliding more, that I’m not lifting off the ground like I should, and that my left leg scissoring is more pronounced. I also have less mobility in my right ankle than my left. She’s concerned about the increase in my spasticity and wants to see me again in a month.

And if my gait and spasticity doesn’t improve, I may need botox. In my hips. I’m not real keen on the idea of injecting neurotoxin into my system.

But my curls were sassy!

And then I came home and made sandwiches for my work lunches. With spinach and Hungryroot spinach artichoke dip.

Work on the Cortisone Foot and Service Dog Update

The cats woke me up at 3 a.m. today and perhaps it was the cortisone shot but I could not for anything get back to sleep. But when I got up, the foot looked good except for some cute round bruises and I didn’t feel anything but stiff. By 4 a.m. I was drinking coffee and working on my NaNoWriMo word count for the day. And with all these photos I am taking of my feet I am sad and embarrassed that I haven’t had a pedicure since my friend left the business.

I got to work jittery from too much coffee and optimistic that I would slay the day. Until our 9:30 break, I was at 100%. No pain, though occasionally depending how I stood on my foot I could feel pressure or as if a bubble were on the bottom of my foot. By about 12:30 (which is after six-plus hours of standing) I had some ache in the toe but no nerve pain.

But my numbers had fallen to 89%.

You see, recovering from this means I know have to learn how to move my body in an efficient way again. And since I’m exhausted and trying to reclaim my performance, the combination is leading to some jerky movements that are stressing my back.

Meanwhile, my neurologist/physiatrist’s office called. They wanted to move my Friday November 11 appointment to Wednesday November 9. I asked if they wanted the same time. The nurse asked me if I wanted the same time. I told her that it didn’t matter I just needed to inform my employer.

Turns out that the doctor was not scheduled to be in the office that day and planned to come in just to see me. I told the nurse that wasn’t necessary as I had seen my podiatrist and now had a foot full of cortisone which was providing a perfectly adequate temporary solution. She insisted I needed to be seen. So I’m going in at 3:30 after work.

I forgot I had a chiropractor appointment at 3:45 that day so I moved that to Monday, November 14 because I’m not about to call the neurologist back and make her change the time.

They offered early dismissal at work today, so when I went into the system to cancel my time off for November 11, I added paid time to the day I took off yesterday and took the early out. I wanted a nap.

Fosters: Jean-Paul Sartre (almost 4 months), Giorgio (almost six months), and Tripod Louise (five years)

But when I got home…

These guys had other plans. (See photo of cats cuddling on me.) At one point, J-P didn’t realize the hand petting him was mine and he freaked out and attacked my arm as if he were defending my life. Until Louise snarled at him.

And in other news, I received an email from Susquehanna Service Dogs:

“Your application has been reviewed by the Partner Selection Committee, and we have added you to the list for a preliminary interview…”

Another form to have a medical professional fill out, this one attesting to my psychological health.

“… Our preliminary interviews provide an opportunity for you to ask questions as well as a chance for us to get to know you better. It will include two staff members, a volunteer and a demonstration dog that will be used to show you the ways in which an assistance dog can assist in mitigating a person’s disability. The interview will be held at our facility.”

So that’s exciting.

More on the service dog process here.

The Toe Update

I asked for a table on the left today, because my body was so stiff, my hip sore and my toe felt like someone forced a knife through it and used it to anchor me to the warehouse floor. It happened about every hour, when the clock struck 20-something for some reason and lasted about four minutes as the pain slipped up the inside of my calf and hit my knee.

By 9 a.m., I had had enough. Interestingly, whereas yesterday I did 85%, today I believe I did 95%, and at 9 a.m. I was still about 97%. The left table had alleviated most of the stress on my hip.

I called the neurological physiatrist, and they could see me in April. The person who answered the phone would leave a message for the doctor, and her nurse would give me a call. Now, for the record, I missed that call which was around 4:45 p.m. because I was in an appointment with my chiropractor. But it looks like they may see me next week.

I also called my podiatrist, whose office manager scheduled me for 2:15 p.m. Friday and asked if she had a cancellation if I could come tomorrow. I said yes.

Around this time, a form went around via email asking who might be interested in a day off tomorrow. So I filled out the form.

I rushed home to take off my shoes and socks, and the toe looked fine. Well, red and a little swollen but not as bad as it felt. When I poked my toe and bent them all, my sore toe throbbed for several minutes afterward. So I elevated it.

I could feel the stiffness in my body and the phone kept registering asymmetry. I was very much looking forward to my visit with Nicole Jensen of Back in Line Chiropractic and Wellness Center. Even lying on the table, it felt like my right hip was higher than the other. And when she put her hand against it, she verified that it was. And she pushed on it, like her palm was kneading bread. But in one motion, not back and forth. Okay, maybe the analogy is no good.

We both agreed that the toe thing needed to be sorted out, and that skipping tonight’s workout with Andrew might be best. Nicole manipulated my toe gently, and asked what hurt, and since nothing really bothered me at the angles she was working, she started adjusting my toes. They made some funky noises.

I also feel two inches taller and as relaxed as I can get when she gets done with me…

The predominant theory of what is happening: (according to Andrew, myself and Nicole) I had some intense turning inward of my left leg this week, which may be in part because of a 5-day-a-week work schedule when I’m used to a 4-day schedule in two different jobs versus just one now. Add this to the fact that my table is on the right, forcing me to constantly rely on my right side to move shipments, stand on tip toe to grab boxes and twist to get clothes. When my left leg twists, my right side compensates. And all of this might have caused me to stand forward on my toes more. The added pressure and their curvature made them rub and irritated them and maybe some nerve pain is resulting. And maybe a blister. Or not. Who knows?

But a year ago, I would have horrible pain and difficulty moving. Around the beginning of the year, I started falling. That makes me want to investigate and not take the chance that this toe could start the downward spiral all over again.

Unlike that magic splinter I got. But that’s an old story. Read it here.

Let’s hope the podiatrist has some ideas for prevention and relief.

Final step in my medical journey?

Tuesday, May 31, 2020.

It’s been about a year. It’s the end of my birth month. In some ways, I started this journey in December 2020 when I contracted Covid-19.

I remember standing in the Bizzy Hizzy warehouse, at 11:45 p.m., placing the last extra small clothing item in my pick-cart. I leaned against a nearby pole, my joints all screaming.

And I thought to myself, “I’m one month into my job at Stitch Fix. Maybe I can’t do this. Maybe I’m too old and my body can’t take it. Maybe I can’t do anything anymore.

I was chilly that night, and it was December in the warehouse, so I didn’t think anything of it. Until that moment. Leaning against that pole almost too weak to stand.

I was sweaty. My hands were clammy.

I had a fever. The system at work — the nurse, the temperature checks— had missed it because I normally run low. My fevers don’t numerically look like fevers until they are very high.

And in that moment, I released a breath of relief.

I was probably the only person in America grateful to suspect that I had Covid-19. (And I did.)

Because Covid-19 was easier to deal with than the prospect that I might be too disabled to provide for myself.

I would have to read these blog entries, check my medical portal and review my podcast history to tell you the exact journey of the last year and a half, and if that interests you— I’m considering writing a memoir (Upright! Gravity is a Harsh Mistress). My husband thought of the title.

I listened to disability podcasts (such as A is for Abled, Disability After Dark, Stompers in Love and various titles from the BBC) while working at the Bizzy Hizzy as I grappled with my own identity. Am I disabled? Do I pass as normal? Do I make my body do more than it can? Or should?

These questions, and recovering from Covid, and comorbidities like anemia and weight gain, as my spine and hip problems started to bother me more and more, led me on a journey to recommit to fitness and to gain more knowledge and collect doctors that would be an asset to my medical team as I age.

I have blogged about that entire journey— from my first session at Apex Training to finally finding a local doctor that understands cerebral palsy.

She expanded on my previous diagnosis of spastic cerebral palsy and added the term diplegia, which means it only impacts my legs. She frequently told me that I self-correct very well and added that while my gait was inefficient, it was functional and it was mine… so that makes it beautiful.

My new doctor is a neurological physiatrist— with her initial training in spinal bifida which she then expanded into seeing cerebral palsy patients.

She listened to me, reviewed my x-rays with me, gave me an exam, watched me walk, and studied my shoes as if she were reading my fortune with tea leaves. She described my walk as her fingers traced the wear on my shoes.

She also complimented my “taco Tuesday” days of the week socks.

My recent disability leave from work has improved my fitness and my health greatly, so I had no pain to report. But I told her I was looking to educate myself and to know what doctors to call and when.

And she told me a lot of things I already knew— not to let myself get too tired, for one. And that I need to continue strength training and improve the mobility in my ankles (and today at Back in Line Chiropractic, Dr. Jensen gave those puppies a work out).

I also knew and understood the domino theory of my own health, that injuries like what happened to my ringer finger impact all of me, but she explained why. I’m not sure I have this 100% correct (just like I previously misused hemiplegia, which refers to right or left side of body vs. upper and lower body), but she said my brain tells my lower half not to do anything until given a signal, but as a person, I start walking (for example) and now my legs and my brain aren’t working together.

Because of this, if anything goes wrong in my body— even something as minor as constipation or an ingrown toenails— my entire system can go haywire. So, if I’m having issues, I need to examine my whole self. And if I don’t find the problem, I need to call her.

Cerebral palsy is a static condition, meaning it doesn’t get worse, but as I reasoned earlier, the decades of wear-and-tear on a body not used in the mechanically proper way can create new issues.

So what are my options if I find myself in decline?

  1. First step would be to use muscle relaxers. I currently have a prescription for flexeril, which doesn’t seem to do anything. She would try Baclofen or Tizanidine next.
  2. If that doesn’t help, she would inject Botox into my muscles.
  3. And if I still had issues, she would move to bracing.

But as of right now, I have good muscle tone and self-correct so she doesn’t want to mess with things.

I feel like I found the final link on my medical team.

I am so relieved.

Roller coaster

What an insane week it’s been.

Monday we had a paid day off for President’s Day and, as I have mentioned, my primary care physician called and scheduled an appointment for me with a physiatrist they recommended.

You may recall this made me very happy.

Nan and I even went out for coffee to celebrate.

But yesterday, as I did what I do folding clothes at the Bizzy Hizzy, I got a call from the physiatrist that they didn’t think they could help me as they specialized in orthopedic care and I probably needed neuromuscular care.

The very kind staff person asked me questions and said she would talk to the doctor on my behalf but that they might cancel my appointment.

I literally started to cry.

And I emailed my psychologist.

Because the difficulty I am having finding medical care seems a tad ridiculous— and every hurdle I cross makes me feel like less of a person.

Or perhaps just less valuable.

When I returned from my first break, the powers-that-be at our Hizzy transferred me to the returns department. Now I love women’s returns processing, but it hurts my body. It must be unloading and swinging the packages around. But I can’t figure it out.

By the end of the day, I wasn’t too horribly in pain, but I definitely felt out-of-whack. I had “vague-booked” on Facebook that seeking medical care should not make one cry.

One of my friends, whom I have known for probably five years now, replied that he might be able to help research doctors. We’ll call him the punk Viking.

Meanwhile my neurologist finally returned my email from several weeks ago recommending another physiatrist.

I called the Punk Viking on the way home from work. He has social work experience and is recuperating from a significant medical intervention. He and I have made a pact of sorts to support each other through our health journeys and try to bring a little more levity to each other’s lives.

And then I woke up at 3 a.m. keenly aware of the fact that my hip had shifted. And I was uncomfortable.

And I went to work uncomfortable.

A bunch of us were scheduled to work women’s inbound processing— which is about 700 steps from the main breakroom for my short legs, the far end of the warehouse.

At 8:50 a.m., we trekked to the breakroom for first break. On the way, my chiropractor’s office called and asked to move my Friday appointment because of the anticipated winter weather. They are calling for snow. I fought tears. They wanted to move my appointment to Monday— but I’m already uncomfortable.

(According to the iPhone my walking was asymmetrical today. It looks like once a week my walk is getting measurably off.)

So, I take an appointment for 5 p.m. Monday. And put in a last minute request to leave early Monday.

We returned to our stations at 9:05 and at 9:15 we had a team meeting back in the breakroom.

During that meeting, the physiatrist’s office called. I can’t answer. So I can only assume they are canceling.

But instead I discovered they have agreed to do an assessment.

I get back to my station at 9:38, and I have a second interview for my application to the safety team at 10. It’s on the complete opposite side of the building— about 1300 steps. When I arrive, I find out the location has been moved to a different room. One, get this, just beyond the breakroom in women’s inbound.

You know, where I started.

The interview went great.

And I had more than 8,000 steps today.

I came home, talked to the Viking, and did some cleaning with the teenager. I’m exhausted. Achy. Stiff.

But if all goes as I hope it will— I should be able to get my business bank account for Parisian Phoenix tomorrow. My LLC came in today!!!!!