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Photo by Tracy Le Blanc on CovidPexels.com

Have you noticed there is an in-between method of dealing with the medical world that comes short of Emergency Room visits and even eliminates in-person appointments?

It began for me with BigFoot. Remember him/her? About the time I was really getting plagued by pain and questions, that is when Covid hit.

Being in the Senior Set I was doing everything possible to isolate and that meant biting my nails over meeting MDs in their own offices, clinics or hospitals.

I began cancelling appointments.

Until one doctor suggested Tele-Visits.

We had 3 of those over a few months and in some ways our conversations were even more educating than if we had met in person.

And although I was and am still hesitant to bare my soul to a relative stranger, the comfort of distance is making it easier to loosen my tongue. Those were my first TeleVisits and I found them enjoyable, particularly if I placed the phone on my right ear (the one with more acute hearing).

I went from talking to an orthopedic doctor on the phone to working next with a would-be Health Coach. Ever hear of that?

My Sweet Health Coach needed people to practice on until she could get accredited. The work was all done by phone and computer.

I think it was a Zoom meeting.

Being part of the resistant Senior Set, I have steadfastly resisted understanding anything about Zooming.

Zooming is what my little dog, Elsa does when she is happy. She gets the Zoomies and runs through the house in wild abandon.

Anyway, I worked with my would-be Health Coach (on the phone) and it was probably similar to psychiatric sessions with Sigmund Freud. I never met Sigmund but I imagine he must have been a good listener.

So, I bared my soul and my Coach would nod verbally as if she really understood my problems. Oddly enough the calls helped. Maybe I just needed to talk.

Finally when Covid slowed down a little I made an appointment with a Dietician to see if I could get guidance on healthy eating. The last book I read on nutrition was Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit by Adelle Davis, written in 1954. I still love that book even though whole chapters should be ignored.

But I learned a lot at my first meeting with the nutritionist and made an appointment #2 but then Covid came back and we arranged a TeleVisit.

And once again I am baring my soul over the phone lines and I am sure everything I say and my inner most secrets are even being recorded!

It seems to me the whole world has now fallen into a no-touch medical environment that promotes talking, talking and more talking and the value of touchy feely connections is getting lost (or is already gone missing) in a computer connected society.

I do highly recommend TeleVisits though. It is a place where you can at least bare your soul.

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On one of our vet runs to have Elsa’s nails cut, the vet did some blood work too.

“It is as I expected,” he said, “She is hypothyroid.”

And so our little rescue dog must have been exhibiting signs of this hormone imbalance which tends to make humans lethargic and prone to weight gain. Elsa is a bit on the roly-poly side for sure.

In addition, in the olden days people used to describe women with thyroid problems as “hysterical.”

That could describe Elsa too.

She is at least paranoid if not hysterical. And now that I know she is hypothyroid I would definitely say she was/is hysterical.

She breaks out in shakes and shivers from unknown unseen dangers. I used to blame it all on her maybe being abused in her previous lives with other not so nice people.

She has severe separation anxiety.

She will not touch dog toys and doesn’t know how to play.

And she is not only food driven but is food protective.

Now Elsa is on thyroid pills twice a day. The vet says it will probably help her lose weight too.

We already notice a new dog in Elsa’s body. She runs more and wants to stay outside more in spite of snow and ice.

The other stuff remains the same and we return to the vet mid February to assess progress.

A hysterical dog may be just like a hysterical woman.

Who knew?

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Photo by Cedric Fauntleroy on Pexels.com

This sometimes feels like a medical diary created especially to form a deadly boring buzz in the Blog-us-Fear. But lately the medical world crashes into my real world and takes over. The last encounter actually has begun to interest me (if it doesn’t kill me first). I am hoping it will interest you too.

As you may know, I had total hip replacement surgery in July of 2021. Everything went perfectly and the hip is like new. Well, it is new…. not just like new.

Hips and teeth do not seem to have any connection but this story began in early September after the hip replacement. It all began with tooth pain…. like sensitivity to cold and pressure.

Now think about this. At the close of hip surgery I was handed a sheet of instructions to give to my dentist and told that I will have to take antibiotics for life before having any dental work done, including simple things like cleaning. Evidently infections in the mouth will travel directly to an implant (in this case, the artificial hip) and that will wreak havoc on the entire body.

The story began in early September (just two months from my hip surgery) when I felt an odd little pain in a lower left tooth. It did not seem crucial so I waited a few days. On September 8, 2021 I visited the hip surgeon for a last follow-up meeting and had no pain at that time either.

But on September 9, 2021 a real sensitivity to cold and pressure returned and I knew there was something wrong. “Probably just a cavity,” I thought so I called the dentist. The receptionist put me on hold while the dentist checked my records and when she returned she said, “The doctor says he sees nothing wrong in your chart. Please begin brushing with a sensitivity toothpaste for a week and then call again if the pain persists.” I was amazed that the new toothpaste worked after a week and I didn’t call back. However the pain returned off and on so the dentist finally decided to take Xrays and to look at the tooth for me. The results of the Xrays showed nothing, nor did a “look-see” show anything. “Stay on the sensitivity toothpaste,” was the admonition, and do not rinse.” And so it went. Until January 2022.

For two days early January 2022 I suffered intense pain with no added stimulation. Then the pain went into swelling to create the face of a ghoul! Though I tried to be brave and use my sensitivity toothpaste correctly, I called. And I got a rapidly arranged appointment with the dentist for more Xrays since evidently a swollen face is good enough reason to be concerned. On January 6, 2022 I was finally diagnosed with an abscess, given a high dose of antibiotics, and referred to an Oral Surgeon. On January 7, 2022 the surgeon removed the tooth. There was an unmistakable urgency to get all this done.

And there you have it….. the evolving story of a tooth that was basically ignored and a dentist who forgot about my hip surgery and the dangers of infection travelling to that site and the possibility of sepsis and all sorts of potential side effects like death.

Should the dentist have started me on antibiotics “just in case” as a precautionary measure? How dangerous was it to my life and limbs to ignore a possible infection reported just two months post hip surgery? How dangerous was it to let this go from September 2021 to January 2022?

It is a happier day today since the swollen face is looking a little better. I am on heavy duty antibiotics for a total of 6 days. Hopefully none of this infection will move around to attack vulnerable areas.

“Such is life” and modern medicine!

Lemme know what you think.

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About two weeks ago I looked in the un-masked morning mirror and discovered something alien in one of my two used-to-be-perfect nostrils. No pain there. No redness. Just something that looked like and felt like a skin tag.

“Thank goodness for masks,” I said to myself. “At least I have semi exotic hazel colored eyes, and with a mask to hide this nose imperfection I am good to go – if I ever want to go that is.”

On the other hand, maybe the alien thing was really something wildly dangerous? Maybe I should see my PCP (Primary Care Physician). And so I did and so he did refer me to an ENT (Ear, Nose, nd Throat man).

Notice I am writing in modern day initials again? Could this be a sign of regression to an earlier stage of life?

Anyway, I went to the ENT who said not to worry because it wasn’t the big C (Cancer) but that it would require cutting and stitches and he needed more time to dig around and get it all. We made an appointment for about a month later.

Now, to make a long story shorter, I had a next day pre-set appointment with a new, never seen before Dermatologist. Thanks to the Covid virus, I had not visited one of those physicians in over two years.

The new skin guy took a look at my nose (he couldn’t miss it of course) and offered to remove it on the spot (the tag – not the nose) with cauterization instead of stitches. The whole thing took about 10 minutes!

Nose Status Now

With a mask, I remain a mystery woman with hazel eyes.

Without a mask I can boast a perfect nose open to public view and occasional sneezing.

Sometimes life can be transformed in the space of 10 minutes!

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I was in the hospital a few weeks ago, recovering from total hip replacement surgery. The nurses and all the staff were wonderful and I was trying to be cooperative as well. I was scared but putting a brave face forward and trying not to be too demanding. And I was also asking questions about their own families and lives.

One of the nurses told me she was from Finland and had married an American. She said she was not entirely happy here because she was pregnant. And she said that in Finland, new moms get a year off when the babe is born. And yes, I looked that up!

Finland offers a very long parental leave to its employees, where starting in 2021, both parents are entitled to parental leaveĀ of 164 days each. Parents will be able to transfer 69 days from their own quota to the other parent.

Another long-time nurse was an animal lover who had horses, dogs, cats and other creatures she adored. We shared happy dog and horse stories like old-time good friends.

Then another of my favorite nurses said, “I want to be you when I grow up.” She was not a child of course, but she said that in the most matter-of-fact way.

Finally another long-time nurse wheeled me out to the car at discharge time. And as we left, she said to Bill, “Take care of her because she is precious!”

I have been thinking about those nurses and the things they said and the stories they shared ever since.

“I want to be you when I grow up” is the most unique and unforgettable compliment I have ever received.

What is the greatest compliment you remember?

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Photo by Daniel Reche on Pexels.com

Yesterday I actually drove to downtown Lexington, Virginia all by myself. I parked in a nicely arranged parking lot with stairs at the end, and went for a walk. And then I climbed up one stair and back down and then two stairs and down and then THREE steps up and down.

Talk about self congratulatory pride! I felt like Rocky!

And then I walked on level ground for about 20 more minutes.

HURRAH!

Big Foot complained a bit but we managed to ignore all that. “I am woman. I am strong. I am invincible!”

Of course walking in a parking lot is not too exciting. There are certainly not many photo ops, but the sun was shining yesterday with a cool little nip in the air, and the traffic was nil, and I took my trusty cane for balance. That little parking lot is now my personal training track!

In the good old days around 1998 the goal was to walk 10,000 steps. But my pedometers don’t work anymore. I suspect it is because the goal is now low low low! What pedometer would be caught displaying 150 steps anyway?

So out with the pedometers.

Now the goal is just some time moving….. any time moving….. just moving.

Today I feel pressure to enter a blog post.

What about all that beneficial walking?

To do or not to do? That is the question.

Walking is more important really.

But blogging is a good excuse not to do what I set out to do yesterday.

I promise I will start walking again tomorrow.

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I never expected to be skipping along or roller skating or even running from a potential bear attack after hip replacement surgery. I did hope however

  • to be more mobile
  • to be able to carry laundry from the hamper to the washing machine
  • to get down on the floor to play with Elsa-the-Dog
  • to stand long enough to peel six cucumbers for cucumber salad and not feel exhausted
  • to walk without a limp or a gimp
  • to wear pretty little shoes to accentuate my pretty little feet.
  • And more.

Such is life however, that after a total right hip replacement done July 16th none of those wishes came true.

Oh, the right hip is pain-free! Let me tell you, it is a miracle of modern medicine. I consider it my “good leg” now! Kudos to my cute young surgeon who did an exemplary job.

I LOVE my right hip now. And I LOVE my cute young surgeon even though I wouldn’t recognize him on the street.

The problem though is my LEFT leg! The BigFoot leg. The one that had been causing problems since 2015.

Maybe in the process of preparing for the right hip replacement surgery, I forgot about BigFoot?

And now that the right hip is happy, my brain needed to send out reminders that all is not well on the other side.

At any rate, I am still gimpy.

The family doc said he is thrilled at my progress “considering your age and underlying factors.” Not flattering but probably true.

Why didn’t anyone warn me about the great bowl of perilous problems that arrive uninvited with the onslaught of age?

Ah well. “Such is life,” said my once aging Mom who transferred all her wisdom to me except her secrets for aging with a smile.

I will see my cute young surgeon for the last time this month. I met him once before surgery when we talked for about 20 minutes. Then I saw him through a haze as I was awakening from the operation. The extent of our conversation at that time was him saying, ‘You have a brand new hip.” He had a mask on so I am not sure it was really him.

“HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR SURGEON?” MY FAMILY DOCTOR ONCE ASKED. “I DON’T KNOW”, I SAID. “HOW WOULD I KNOW IN JUST 20 MINUTES?”

The next and last visit (unless I get knee surgery on BigFoot) will be an opportunity for another 20 minute conversation. WilI I then recognize my cute young surgeon on the street? Doubtful.

But the goal now is to walk normally. Bill went out and bought me a full length mirror to lean on a door at the end of a long hall. I can see myself coming if not going and try to correct my gait.

“Practice makes perfect” but Bill says ,”You still walk like a duck!”

Such is life and the miracles of modern medicine.

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The 3 grands cooking

Complete with dogs and grandgirls and son and daughter-in-law, our house became a home again after nearly two years of no visitors due to the Covid-19 virus restrictions. I still think of the three grands as children but here they were, all gainfully employed and taking time from their busy schedules to meet up again and comfort this Grammy with the new hip.

The youngest grand-girl arrived with some beautiful flowers that promptly set off an allergic reaction. The middle grand put them out on the deck so we could see them through the glass doors but not get close to the pollen.

There were also Dove chocolate bites – no allergic reaction there. And a bandana for Elsa!

Then they cooked and made it a double celebration. Not only were we reunited after such a long time, but they also wanted to celebrate Bill’s upcoming birthday making a ham and noodles dish he loves. After telling them the story of his Mom making apple streudle, they looked that up and made that too.

While I was in surgery and Bill was biting his nails waiting, our son and daughter-in-law were taking care of Elsa and the house. I came home to Emmy’s famous chicken noodle soup and other fabulous dishes that kept her in the kitchen. and waiting on me “hand and foot.”

Son, Corky kept the house together, fixing things and comforting Elsa, who now loves him back and is pining for him. Though she kept up a steady stream of barking, she seems to be missing all the chaos.

Our middle grandgirl brought her GoldenDoodle 8 month old puppy (named Indie) who we decided to keep separated from Elsa. Elsa is a rescue and we were not really sure how she would interact. Fortunately Indie and the family fell in love with the pool, the weather was good and everybody was happy. I am not allowed in a pool of course so I watched from the kitchen window.

Daughter-in-Law, Emmy
Son, Corky

I always envied folks their family reunions but never suspected there would be one of my own. We are a relatively small unit but how lovely to know how committed we all are to each other and how much love we share.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Well, tis done. A week ago I got a whole new hip. The surgeon who was there when I opened my eyes told me so. And the whole episode was a kind of strange other-worldly experience.

PRE-SURGERY I stayed in a hotel in a handicap room with a “roll-in” shower.

I figured if I could roll in, I could walk in.

Not so.

I managed to slip on the very slick floor and thought I landed close to the bad hip. Then dragged myself to a carpeted room, and decided since there was no intense pain anywhere I could stay mum about the fall and go forward with the operation in the morning.

And that is what happened.

All went well in the morning including anesthesia with numbing of the back and me asleep in a flash with no nausea or any distress upon awakening!

But the saga went on.

It was agreed I would spend one night in the hospital. I was off to my own little room and bath and right next to that was a man who began a long diatribe of groaning, moaning, swearing, praying, and screaming. With colorful language and an actor’s ability to project, I began wishing relief for him via a sedative.

The nurses on the ward were in a constant huddle whilst taking abusive language as he was shouting, “Please, PLEASE, PLEASE! DO SOMETHING. I AM NOT GOING TO MAKE IT. HELP ME!!! OHHHHHHH, AAAAARGH, OWWWW, JESUS, DEAR GOD”, etc.

His language was so colorful and the nurses were so distraught that it became like an exciting audio story with dramatic sound effects.

Through this drama, nurses were still tending to other patients and would come in to check on me and would provide updates. Some said there was no reason for him to be carrying on like that, and how they were trying to get an on-call surgeon to come in. It was around 4:30 AM when I learned the Moaning Man was finally given morphine and was asleep which could not be said of the other patients on the ward.

The Moaning Man turned out to be a blessing because he actually kept my mind off my hip and on him.

I have been home a week since then and doing the exercises, walking inside with a walker, being pampered by Bill, son, daughter-in-law, and my three grandgirls.

All seems to be going well with more news to come as I progress from a slow gimpy gait to racehorse status.

So, how was your week?

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Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Hospitals are for other people.

Hospitals are o.k. if you are young and strong.

But now in a golden year and facing a hospital visit soon, I am grinning and bearing the notion that I am now one of those others.

Putting my right hip in for removal and replacement sounds easy peazy these days but the preparations and advance appointments are daunting, especially when a “post-op appointment” is scheduled for 3 days before the surgery.

Good thing my golden year left me with a golden eye that is able to catch errors!

Then there were two sets of lab work (in better words – “blood letting”.)

The first blood tests went well.

The second was conducted by a novice who, in an effort to collect seven vials, left my left arm a rainbow of black, blue, yellow and red bruises as evidence of cruel and unusual punishment.

My tests are clear though.

The Dentist says I am good to go.

The General Practitioner says so too. And after he proclaimed a clean bill of health he actually gave me a big hug and wished me luck. This had the dual effect of making me smile in the knowledge my doctor of over 20 years really cares and/or making me worry that he is secretly afraid he will never see me again.

Speaking of never seeing me again, I happened to be scanning Google stuff on surgeries and came across the little known fact that more people die in surgeries performed on Fridays! Wouldn’t you know it? I am scheduled on a Friday!

But, going on the premise that I will be the standout survivor of a Friday massacre,

I am practicing breathing into a gadget, doing simple exercises, trying to walk, and

the pre-op appointments that were scheduled correctly are now almost over.

Note: BigFoot is still affecting the Left extremity but sends regards. I keep mentioning to the orthopedic experts how BigFoot started over on the left ankle, swelled, moved around and is still capricious. But no one in the medical establishment pays a bit of attention. Evidently surgeons specialize in only one thing at a time and BigFoot will just have to wait.

Well the day is drawing near!

Please wish me luck my friends in the blog-us-fear.

There will surely be stories to tell when this is all over.

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