Sunday, May 31, 2009

3 acts: MRI report, roses, material consumption

So pretty!

Act 1: the MRI report

I picked up a copy of the report at the doctor's office. There's a bit more info to it compared to what the doc told me on the phone, specifically that I have mild disk degeneration at L5-S1 and that I just so happen to have a pelvic kidney! Here's what the report says:

Exam: MR Lumbar spine without contrast

Clinical Indication: Lower back pain extending into the left side

Technique: Sagittal T1, T2, and STIR. Axial T1 and T2.

Findings: The vertebral bodies demonstrate normal height, alignment and marrow signal. There is mild disk degeneration at L5-S1.
L5-S1 there is a small right paramedian disk protrusion contacting the right S1 nerve root without signal or foraminal stenosis. The remaining levels are unremarkable pleural.

The conus medullaris is normal in size, position, and signal.

Incidentally noted is a pelvic kidney on the right.

Impression: Small right paramedian central disk protrusion at L5-S1. This is contacting the right S1 nerve root sleeve. Right pelvic kidney.

Approved by: {doctor's name} 5/31/09 2:33am

Was faxed to my doc's office at 4am.

Dr B called me around 11am.

Basically, 24 hour turn around time for test results!!

I think a protruding disk and bulging disk are the same thing, but I'm not sure.

Doc says I should go to an orthopedic or a neurosurgeon to see if specialist can suggest more therapies, such as laser therapy. In the meantime, I still have 2 weeks of physical therapy left, and I should continue that. As always, he said I'm not a surgical candidate.

I haven't felt the right side back pain for at least a few days now. Left side pain is at a 3. or 3/4.

Act 2: My roses
I have three rose bushes. Looks like Babs is on its way out (sorry mom!) but the creamy rose bush and the salmon colored one are hanging in there, even if they have a serious case of black spot.

First rose bloom of the season
As big as the palm of my hand

So beautiful!!
It looks really perfect

oh that black spot...
Black spot, my nemesis

Act 3: Material Goods
Here's a list of stuff I'm thinking of buying.
  • A roomba (anyone have one and care to comment?)
  • New curtains for living room, specifically sheers
  • New ergonomic desk chair that fits my proportions
  • New summer sandals
  • New summer shorts
  • New outdoor chairs (the old ones are actually disintigrating)
Consume, consume, consume...

Breaking News: The MRI results are in!!

The doctor just called me--they already have the report back!!

I have a disc protrusion at the S1 nerve root. The protrusion is pressing on the root which is causing the pain down the leg. He said it's not even a herniation.

The doc recommends I continue the therapy and at the same time, make an appointment to see the orthopedist or neurosurgeon. He gave me two names of docs he trusts. Says I should bring the MRI images and the report with me to see the specialist. He emphasized again, it's not for surgery but maybe there is something they can do to correct it, such as laser therapy. (something new for me to google).

I asked how I can get the report. He said I can stop by the office and pick it up a copy.

He didn't say anything about what might be causing the pain in the lower right side. Frankly, that right side pain is few and far between now. But I think those things would all be great discussion topics for me to ask the specialist.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

MRI is done!

doesn't it look so nice??
Amy Butler pillow on my cheapy Ikea chair.
Doesn't it look great??

Kitty cat?
New cloud pix! Is this a cat??

winky face?
Winky face?
Profile?  cloud trio?
Er, another profile?

A big thank you to everyone who provided their MRI stories--it really helped me in understanding what the process would be like!

I had the MRI this morning. The whole process was extremely easy--I was at the center for about an hour total, and in the machine for 20 minutes or so. I had heard that the machine would be loud, but it was louder than I thought it would be! When the new scan starts, it sounds a lot like the buzzer at the baggage carousel at the airport--if I actually put my head against the buzzer! They asked if I wanted to hear music, but I could only hear it between scans (Girls Just Want to Have Fun" was the initial song played). Pretty much the entire time, the machine is making this loud noise. They had put headphones on me, but they were on my cheeks instead of my ears, and I wish I had adjusted them to the proper position after she put them on me.

When I was first positioned in the tube, I kept my eyes closed--but eventually I opened them. While the tube was close to my face, it wasn't as close to my face as I thought it could be. Also, my head was propped in such a way as that I could see down my body to the "light at the end of the tunnel" and I could see the technician's booth, with the tech sitting behind smoky glass. Looks like I had a boring scan since she was yawning a lot and playing with her hair, poofing it, etc. The "tunnel" itself had this strip of lighting on each side, and I thought it looked rather Star Trekkian. While I don't consider myself to be claustrophobic, it was a lot easier being able to see the end of the tube. Also, I wasn't entirely in the tube--my knees downward were sticking out the end.

They checked in with me twice through the intercom thing (just like on Grey's Anatomy!), and they had given me a ball that I could squeeze in case I needed to talk with them.

Near the end my hands felt like they were getting kind of numb. I clenched the one hand not holding the ball-thing and that seemed to help.

I left with a CD of my images! And they said in 2-3 business days, a radiologist will send the report to the doctor's office. So I think I'll know pretty soon what the results are.

When I got to the center, there were maybe 10 people in the waiting room, including a set of parents with their little boy. The boy was crying and it kind of made me want to cry. His parents were saying "why are you scared?", "it's ok, they're just going to take pictures, it's only pictures", and "you were scared before that last test, and it wasn't so bad, was it?" They were called in while I did my paperwork, and before I was finished with the paperwork they were already leaving. He must have just had x-rays. His expression was a little shell-shocked; I thought he was going to look really happy afterwards. I was thinking if there was something I could have said that would have calmed him down--or distracted him. Like, it's the easiest test you'll ever have to take, or you don't have to study for this test. It's not going to hurt. (Things I had told myself, quite frankly). But I didn't know what his test was beforehand anyway. I guess I could have tried, "How old are you? What's your favorite color?" as a distraction?

When I was done with my test, the next MRI patient was waiting in the hot seat. I smiled at her and she smiled back. She watched me take my purse and glasses out of the locker and I looked back at her, all the while with my left hand on the side of the locker for stability since I had chose a locker near the floor because I had mistakenly thought the lockers at the top were taken. She said, "I was just looking at your nails--they are so long and mine are so brittle and peeling..."

I guess we all have something that someone else wants, without always knowing.

I've been feeling pretty good the last two days. I hate writing that, because usually that means the next day I feel really awful. I have the head cold, and I took Contact Cold & Flu medication this morning so that I wouldn't need to blow my nose while in the MRI machine (b/c you aren't allowed to move once you're in the MRI--maybe I took a chance with my clenched hand). But overall the gum infection is subsiding, I think I'm on the downward slope with my cold because the sore throat is mostly gone and I'm left with clogged ears and the runny nose, my knees are hurting only a little bit. And the back pain today has been at a 2-3. Of course, this afternoon I took a huge 2 hour nap, and I rested a lot outside on my lounge chair, as evidenced by my cloud pix!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Am A Great Salesperson!

News updates:
  • My MRI is on Saturday morning!! My doc will know the result in 3-4 business days.
  • Janet thinks I might have some problem with the SI joint. I found some good info about the SI joint here. She says even if the MRI shows disc issues, that the disc issue may not be cause of my pain. She says lots of people have disc issues and feel no pain. I had read that online somewhere before...
  • Janet recommends that I see an orthopedic specialist after the MRI results are back. She says the orthopedic could give me a cortisone shot which would relieve the pain for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months and then she could make more progress with me in PT. I'd *love* a break from the pain!
  • On Tues Janet took it easy on me, since I was at a 5 from the traction machine from the previous visit. she only did deep tissue massage and stretched me out.
  • Tonight Janet did deep tissue massage, stretched out my hamstrings and piriformis, and did the elbow-in-my-piriformis trick. She also did manual traction on my left leg. I'd say my pain level for the back is 3-4.
  • When I walk intently, my upper left leg feels weak. it also feels like the pain is sometimes in the left hip.
  • My right knee is hurting again
  • I have a sore throat, the gum around my wisdom tooth is inflamed, and even my ears hurt. I'm falling apart!!
  • The middle curtain bracket fell down in the living room. The previous owners installed that bracket. I will try to fix that this weekend. For now, it's very very light in my living room!
  • Tonight's title comes from a sign on the door at the realtor office downstairs from the PT place. They prop their "back door" open most nights and that's one of two signs on the door. It always makes me laugh. I'll tell you next time what their other sign is.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oh, lucky visit number 7!!

Wo-hoo!!! The doc approved the MRI! He emphasized yet again how I'm not a surgical candidate, if the MRI shows disc issues. He said if I had back surgery, the pain from surgery would be so much worse than what I'm experiencing now. So the doc's office is going to contact my insurance co and see if they approve the MRI. The doc's office will be in touch in 2-3 days and they will schedule the MRI for me. I have the prescription for the MRI, and also a prescription for another 3 weeks of therapy 2x a week.

I have so many questions that I just thought of now--like who will analyze the MRI? Will I know that same day what the problem is, or do I have to go back to the regular doc? An orthopedic? And where is the location of the MRI center they are going to choose for me? Will the test be done soon or is it one of those they're-really-backed-up-so-the-next-appointment-is-in-5-weeks things? He did ask me for my schedule and I said anytime is fine with me. I'm ready for it.

I think the doc actually recognized me this time. I've seen Dr. A four times and Dr. B three times.

Therapy is at 8pm. I hate hate hate the late appointments because they start vacuuming before I leave.

I'm so excited that he approved the MRI!!! Hopefully the insurance co will authorize it. But I have the script even if they don't authorize it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My wireless router & the sink

Remember my "heart touching" router?

My new wireless router, installed and working!
love the pink cable

I finally gathered my courage and installed it today.
It took 45 minutes.
I got stuck at one point because it kept reporting:
"You have set the wrong dynamic or static IP address for your WL-520GU".

I finally Googled the phrase.
Someone in this thread suggested power cycling the cable modem and the router.
I did that and it worked! I really should have thought of that myself. I had rebooted the laptop but had not thought about rebooting the cable modem too.

The wireless is also working with my new netbook. Awesome! Now I'm no longer tethered to my desk. I can't wait to see if the internet works outside.

It's also security enabled this time! Woo!

I don't know if my heart is touched, but I am excited that it's working.

I think the sink is really fixed

It's been about 5 weeks since I fixed the pipe situation under the sink. It's not leaking! Thanks to my dad for his phone support and to Devin for actually choosing the new pipe at Home Depot (the new metal pipe is long enough to replace the old metal pipe AND one of the plastic pipes), but I actually fixed it myself with my own 2 hands and that, my friends, is pretty heart touching indeed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Dozen Visits to Therapy

Hibiscus in bloom, May 20, 2009
A little bit o' Hawaii in NJ

I want to plant flowers, specifically impatiens, like I do every year, but I guess I have to give that up too for now. My mom bought me this hibiscus bush. I water it by filling up a cup at the sink instead of using the hose. Isn't it beautiful?

Tonight marked my 12th visit to therapy.

It was a 7:20pm appt and I got out around 9pm, so it was one of the longer appts.

Janet did deep tissue therapy and the elbow-in-the-piriformis trick, plus the "I press up while she presses down" move. She also grabbed onto my left ankle and literally pulled my leg, then grabbed onto both ankles and pulled. It feels good when she does that. But she didn't stretch out my hamstrings or piriformis.

She asked if I'd be willing to try the traction table. Why yes! She strapped me into this two-part harness type thing that felt like a corset. Then I just was on the table, lying there, and they turned the machine on. It separates the table which also pulls on the two parts of the harness, which thus pulls me "apart", for 8 minutes. It even has this safety release thing in case I felt new or additional pain. The assistant said some people get dizzy when they stand up after being on the machine but I didn't.

Since that was my last appt, we discussed the next round of appts. She recommends 4 more visits. She does NOT recommend the MRI. Since I am improving (now I'm at a pain level of 3 instead of 3-4), she thinks it's most likely to be disc issues and not a pathological reason for my pain. I said, well, I've been in pain since Jan 15 every single day, so, how much longer is this going to take? What if it is something pathological? She said for peace of mind, I could ask for the MRI, but in her report to the doc, she is going to not recommend it. For some people, it just takes a long time to feel better. If it was something pathological, I wouldn't be feeling better. I'd be feeling the same or worse.

So this weekend I go back to the doc to get the script written for 4 more therapy visits and to ask for the MRI. I guess he will say no. But sometimes life has surprises, you know?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Just a boring post

My new Skechers
My new Skechers
Maybe the silver is a bit "14 year old" instead of "33 year old", but whatever...

My new Saucony's
My new Saucony's
Hope these are the proper fit

I took today off! Yeah!!
I woke up at 7am as if I were going to work (sigh). But I fell back to sleep (bliss!)

This afternoon I went to the dentist. No cavities. No gingivitis. I asked about my aching jaw; he didn't seem concerned since it was aching last week and has since stopped. The hygienist found a spot on my gum that is really sensitive while she was cleaning my teeth. She said it's a recession that's exposing a nerve. Just don't brush too hard there, and it should be ok, just keep on doing what I'm doing, especially since it doesn't hurt me when I brush. She said overall my gums look really healthy. If it gets worse in that one spot they can do tissue grafts or something? Er, I'll maintain what I've got. The dentist didn't say anything about that at all. He said everything looks good.

I didn't blog about my pool pass issues, but they were resolved quite nicely today. Even though I'm the only one paying the mortgage on my townhouse, they gave me TWO resident pool passes, instead of making me pay for an additional guest badge, hurrah! I also met our community manager and she seems very very nice.

I also had therapy tonight. Session 11. It was only an hour and 10 minutes, which is my briefest therapy session ever. Tonight's treatment featured stretching out my hamstrings and piriformis, deep tissue massage and more "I press up while she pushes down" exercises. Shockingly, though, she did not do her favorite "elbow in my piriformis" trick. I didn't have ice and stim tonight because when I was done, someone else was just starting stim. So I will do the ice tonight here at home, which I've been doing anyway, for my back and for my knees. Pain level today was pretty reduced, but I had taken Aleeve this morning for a headache. The next session is my last session. She said she will recommend to the dr for me to have more therapy to try to get the pain to 0 or 1. I want the MRI and therapy.

I talked to one of my neighbors today. She said her mom had pain in her leg. She went to doctors, no one could find what was wrong. She took her mom to an acupuncturist in the city. She said her mom felt relief after the first session and no pain after a week. She went to him 2x a week for a month and then 1x a week for 2 months after that. She has not felt any pain since and that has been more than a year now. She said her mom didn't have stim with the acu. Hmmm. My neighbor, who just had a baby, said she went for acu when she was really nauseous and he resolved it in one session. Hmmm..

I also did a wee bit of shopping too, as you can tell by the pix.

I'm going to start labelling my posts. Enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Letters to the editor are always the best part of any publication

I think the author of this letter is also upset that tv is in color, movies "talk" now, and is dismayed at the decline of the railroad industry:

I asked my coworkers if any of them have been to the Nassau Inn Tap Room; if so, what is it like? They said the vibe is "old man's cigar club".

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Peony Flower, Fashion Show, & Environment, Oh My!

A Post in Three Acts.

Act 1:
It looked like a goner after an afternoon in an enclosed car in full sun on a warm day, but I cut the stem very short and plunked it in water, and check it out now, hydrated and gorgeous:

Beautiful peony

Act 2:
Let's talk about The Fashion Show, shall we? I watched the first two epis this weekend. Thoughts:
  • Isaac Mizrahi is no Tim Gunn. I miss you, Tim.
  • The font for the screen captions is the same as Project Runway
  • The shots of NYC could be taken directly out of PR
  • Telling the "just barely missed elimination" contestant that s/he is "hanging by a thread" caused me to giggle
  • They have a quickfire-style Top Chef challenge at the start of the show. I liked the first mini-challenge, which was to make a little black dress out of a plain black t-shirt. Very Antoinette.
  • Isaac emphasizes how "they" (the hosts? the judges?) are there to provide "constructive criticism". However, Isaac and Kelly don't provide any criticism at all during the construction phase--unlike Tim.
  • Isaac also emphasizes how they are supposed to make real clothes for "real people". That sounds like a better concept compared to many of PR's challenges (i.e. making clothes out of car parts). Yet the main challenge in the second week was making clothes for a socialite I've never heard of before. I guess the "real people" part was using less than $40 or $50 in materials.
Act 3:
I'm in full-on spring-cleaning mode again. I spent a good portion of today just going through the stuff in a small portion of my house. Although I think I did pretty well reducing my consumption since the April 2008 cleanout, I think I could do a lot better.

This makes me want to compost:

This has me itching to do "a year without plastic bags":

A good reminder why paper should always be recycled:

Baby shower present (yes, wrapped in plastic):
Baby gift (Milk Money)

And the very cute blue M&M's-in-a-heart-shaped-box shower favor:
Peony and shower favor

Saturday, May 16, 2009

When does middle age begin?

Answer to pop-quiz: they are ice packs for knees (thus the hole in the middle). They are better than the last knee ice packs I tried. Love them.

Today my mom said that I'm no longer "young," I'm middle-aged.
I steadfastly refuse to believe middle age begins at 33.
So, dear readers, when do you think middle-age begins???

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pop quiz

Guess what this is!
Guess what this is!

My therapy appt was a bit earlier than usual: 5:20pm. One of my coworkers was there! I knew she had a hip injury but had no idea she is going to my therapy place. Her appts are much earlier than mine which is why I hadn't seen her there before. Small world.

Tonight's appt was pretty short overall. Janet had me do the cobra-style press-ups while she pushed down on my back. Now I'm feeling something in my middle back that I haven't felt in a while--a regular ol' backache! I mean, it's in addition to the other pain I feel, but it's kind of a welcoming feeling. I guess because it's so familar. We'll see how I feel tomorrow. Janet also did some deep tissue massage and her favorite elbow-in-my-piriformis-muscle trick. I had ice and stim too. Love that ice and stim.

Of course, having an earlier appt means coming home a bit earlier for the evening and it's only just begun. I read outside for a while. Bliss. Everything is lush and green and even though it was kind of overcast and threatening to rain at any moment, I didn't mind. The grass was cut today so everything was lookin' good.

My rose bushes have leaves but some are already covered in black spot. Jeesh.

I teach tmw morning for about 2 hours. That should help with my back.

I'm actually doing some laundry for the first time in a month. Don't know if I should admit that or not, but I'm not going crazy, it's only a load.

Ok, let me know what you think the picture features!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Touched a nerve?

What I think I learned at therapy last night
What I think I learned at therapy last night

On Sunday night I decided to take a walk for an hour.
Later that night my left knee started hurting, that sharp brand of pain, when walking up stairs. My left side from lower back to knee all felt irritated and painful.


I. cannot. fall. apart.

Last night was therapy session number 9. Janet beat me up, but with different exercises, including pulling on my left leg to stretch out the leg/spine as if it were traction, and the yoga-style cobra-esque moves, but with her pushing down on my lower back while I push up. Those exercises didn't feel too bad, but her elbow in my piriformis hurt as always and I feel bruised from it today. I mean, I know exactly where her elbow was, even today. She said she could feel the muscle loosening up as she did that. I'm kind of amazed at what her elbow can feel.

She gave me new exercises to do at home (cobra, plus resting on my forearms). Says I could have disc issues. MRI would show for sure, but she said she'd treat the symptoms the same
way regardless. She thinks the ins. co. would pay for the MRI after 6 weeks of therapy. She said she's frustrated too. but she's not itching for an MRI the way I am. She said I should see an orthopedic surgeon for a diagnosis.

She felt my spinal cord with me pushing my hips out and back while seated, and she said the vertebrae are all in alignment, and showed me what it would look like if they weren't. She also said the x-ray wouldn't show if the pelvic bone was out of alignment--really???

My jaw was also aching too--wow--what else could go wrong???

Today I didn't feel too bad--I've been using my knee ice packs on my knees, my strap-on heating pad cranked up on high for my back, and I didn't take any drugs. My jaw is only aching from time to time.

I had time to think at work today and I came up with some neat new ideas for my classes. At least I think they're neat.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Touched by a router?

There are a few things I expect from my new wireless router.

Read the words under "ASUS" in the upper left corner.
My new wireless router is heart touching?  really?

Heart touching? That's just going beyond the call of duty there. Is that for real?

I haven't cracked open the box yet. But you'll be sure to hear about it when I do--especially if it doesn't work!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cloud show

I've got that spring cleaning feeling.

I'm fighting the urge to stay up for another 3 hours and clean out stuff I don't want anymore. There are several items in my living room that I'm targeting for elimination. Why this feeling couldn't have hit at, say, 9am this morning, instead of an hour ago when I was doing my exercises, I don't know. For some reason I decided to do my PT exercises in the living room tonight and while I was there, on the floor, I was contemplating how kind of junky my living room looks, questioning why I have all this stuff and thinking about how I don't want a lot of it anymore, including things that passed last year's spring cleaning bonanza.

This morning I decided to have some more therapy, but this time of the retail kind. I hit the shops hard. I came home and after talking with Pete, I went outside with a pile of magazines and catalogs and enjoyed my lounge chair. (It's the lounge chair I got for free, by dragging it half a mile home from the curb of the rich people's houses down the street, about 18 months ago. I love it when rich people discard fabulous intact items and put them at their curb!).

After a while I noticed the cloud formations in the sky. The wind was blowing enough to put on a pretty good cloud show.

What do you think these clouds look like?
profile of guy with big nose and party blower thing
Profile of guy with big nose and party blower thing;
or fire-breathing dragon

a bird?
I think this is a bird or a plane.
If you have a good imagination.

I really was in my backyard; here you can see the roof line:

Then the sun started to set, turning the clouds a nice shade of pink:
sun is starting to set; clouds are turning pink
(That's the privacy fence on the left side of the frame).

I was going to stay outside til it got completely dark out. But then I saw a bat flying around and thought, that's enough.

Happy Early Mother's Day!!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Always Call Ahead

Around 4pm I called the doc's office to make sure they had received the PT's report before I headed back to the doc's.

They had not.

Called the PT place--therapist then called me at home--I called the therapist back, she said she tried calling the doc' s office to speak to him directly but he was busy seeing patients--the report was faxed to the doctors--I called doc's office to make sure report was received--then I went over to the doc's office.

The parking lot looked really packed. I was a little afraid the wait would be long. Turned out everyone was at the "nails" place next door.

Turns out the therapist's report was a bit different than what I understood from last night. Of course, while we were talking last night, her assistant was already vacuuming the rugs and so maybe that caused me to misunderstand. She recommended 2 more weeks of therapy and then after that, if I'm still not better, to get diagnostic tests like x-ray and MRI.

I asked the doc if we could start diagnostic tests now. He did the x-ray in-office. My vertebrae were all there and don't have fractures (and it was neat to see the digital image of my spine). He said the x-rays are pretty much useless for back pain diagnosis, but they are the first step in convincing the insurance company to pay for an MRI.

He said he wants to wait 2 more weeks to start the ordering procedure for the MRI. He said it will take a lot of convincing to get the insurance company to pay for an MRI (and by that point I'd have 6 weeks of therapy, making my case for an MRI stronger). Really? My coworker's husband, who has a "lower" insurance plan than I do, seemed to get an MRI within his first month of back pain, maybe the first week? I'm paying the most money for the "best" plan my employer offers, so why wouldn't it cover it?

The doctor also said, even if I have the MRI, it may show just disc issues, in which case the treatment is therapy. He said all roads lead to therapy for me. He said the only other option is surgery and he really doesn't think that's an option for me.

I said that the therapist doesn't know what is wrong with me, and I am hoping the MRI would help her--and also I want to know too--I'm in pain every day--not enough to want surgery, but I'm in pain every day, I want to know what is causing it.

He reiterated that the MRI would show something like disc issues, and the treatment is therapy.

Therapy therapy therapy.

My coworker is experiencing back and hip issues. She highly recommends her chiropractor, whose philosophy is about not making his patients dependent on him. I'll think about it. Maybe I'll do it.

I'm also thinking about acupuncture, which one of my friends credits for saving her from foot surgery (though she had stim with her acupuncture, and credits the stim more. She read papers about how the stim helps with cellular repair and generation). Coming from a science background, I can understand that.

I'm giving up sewing for a month along with the gym. I hate giving up the things I love, but if it helps me mend faster, so be it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oh My Aching Back

Wow, there was a really great thunderstorm at Princeton this afternoon!! All darkness and rumbling and tons and tons of rain!! If I had my camera with me, I would have taken pictures.

{pretend there's a picture of a really neat half light/half dark sky here}

I had my 8th appointment with the physical therapist tonight. It got off to a rocky start since they thought my appt was at 3:20 today but I thought it was at 6:20--I work til 4:30 every day, all my other appts were 7:20 or 6:20, so I wouldn't have made a 3:20pm appt. Plus when they left the very schoolteacher-esque "you didn't come to your appt and we don't know where you are" repremanding voicemail, they referred to me as "he" as in "he will have to reschedule his appt". Jeesh. According to the documents I signed during my initial visit, they will record such behavior in my chart and charge me if it happens again!

Tonight was the night to decide if I continue with therapy or not (there was no question in my mind what the answer was). Janet (my therapist) asked how I'm feeling.

The good news is my pain level now is a 3-4 instead of a 5-6 like when I started (that's on a scale from 0 (no pain) to 10 (get me to the hospital)). I have more flexibility compared to when I started. And she confirmed that my pelvic bone is indeed back in alignment now.

The bad news is the fact that I still feel pain, and it alternates from left side to right side. If I feel pain in the right side, I don't feel it in the left side. If I feel pain in the left side, I don't feel it in the right side. If I feel pain in the right side, it's in the lower back. If I feel pain on the left side, it's in the lower back and half way down my thigh. I'm in pain all the time, and have been since January 15. So that's more than 3 months of continual pain.

She asked how much I've improved since starting therapy, on a scale from 0% (this isn't helping at all) to 100% (I'm back to my normal activities). I said I'm at about 50%. She said she doesn't like to discharge patients until it's back to 85%.

Janet said I should have made more progress by now--and asked if I'm doing my exercises at home? Why yes I am (and Pete can vouch for the fact that I did my exercises at his house). She said she usually has a really good handle on what is going on with her patients by this point, and right now she really can't figure me out. She did spend some time pinpointing exactly where the issue is with my right side (around L4) and pushing on that spot (not on the vertabrae) in various ways for a while. I asked her what it feels like to her. She said it feels like it's immobile. To demonstrate what it should feel like (that it should "give way" to her presses), she then pushed in the same way on an area of my middle back that is fine. To me it felt like my back was jelly there, and it actually pushed the air out of my lungs in a little gasp. It's supposed to feel soft like that.

Then it was time to talk about the report she would write for the doctor. We talked about x-rays and an MRI. At first she said she would leave it up to the doctor as to if I should have an x-ray (to look for a possible hairline fracture) or MRI (for disc issues). I said that I want to have both, so that we all know what is going on. She said she will include that in the report, and I can also tell the doctor that as well. She said the doctor may send me to an orthopedic surgeon. She also said that setting up appts and waiting for test results can take some time. I said I don't want to stop therapy while waiting for those things, so can she recommend that I continue therapy since I'm seeing some improvement while we wait for tests to be taken and results to come back. She said yes, she will include that in the report.

She said she will write a report tomorrow morning and fax it to the doctor's office during the day. So I can stop by the doctor's office this weekend and hopefully get my script for more therapy and whatever else lies ahead. She scheduled the next 4 appointments for me (and printed them all out) so as long as the doc writes the script, I can continue with therapy for at least 2 more weeks without interruption.

On Tuesday I met with Janet's boss Marc, who is the owner of the therapy place. He treated me that day (to therapy, not to ice cream) and said he thinks I have a disc issue. He also thought my pelvic bone was completely back in alignment, but he tested that in a way that is different than how Janet tests it. He thinks I will be pain free someday.

I'm giving up my gym classes for the next month and will see if that helps. I'll walk around my neighborhood instead when it's sunny and can walk on the treadmill at the gym when it is raining.

Oh, and I really hope I don't get the stomach virus that Janet's mother and mother-in-law both have. Please no. Please?!

Wishing you good health!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Back in Jersey

Wow, my laptop screen is HUGE compared to my netbook screen. It feels like I'm blogging on a giant screen.

I'm back in Jersey after my 8 hour flight. That is not an easy flight. I was so lucky to have three seats together on the flight out. Being able to sleep makes a huge difference!

This morning was tough--we had to start getting ready at 6:30am--a time which we had not seen during the entire trip. Plus we had trouble falling asleep last night.

It is rainy but very very green here--during the past week a lot of trees leafed out. Very cool.

Pete and I took some very very informal engagement pix last night. We were already in our pajamas. I decided we should wear our matching fleece hats.

Here are some highlights:

The reverse of the typical engagement photo:

Typical engagement photo:

A look at our chins:

The adoration photo:

Another adoration photo:

You can see the whole set here.

Thank you Pete for such a wonderful stay! See you in August!!


Coming soon: a gargantuan woe-is-me back pain post! Betcha can't wait!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bank Holiday Weekend

Because May Day was on Friday, there's a Bank Holiday on Monday. There seems to be a certain amount of excitement for Bank Holiday Weekend.

Fun cat sign of the day:
Ad for the Guardian

We went to the Warrington Food Festival yet again, this time for goulash and bigos (spicy sausage and noodle dish)...
At the Warrington food festival again

Then we played the toughest mini-golf course ever at Walton Hall Gardens (a big park packed with families on this gorgeous sunny Saturday!).

The course looks dinky and in some disrepair, like it could use some paint and a cleaning, but it is difficult, mainly due to holes like this:

and this:
and this:

Pete kindly put the golf ball down for me and picked it up out of the cup, due to my back issues. In order to putt, I couldn't stand like I normally do for putting. It was an interesting experience.

I also suffered my first ever mini-golfing injury, with the extra-sharp pencil of all things! The cut was small but the blood was impressive (nope, no picture of that moment).

There happened to be a zoo there too, so we checked out the animals:




We stopped for a "Flake" afterwards (ice cream with a Cadbury Flake (flakey chocolate)) with raspberry sauce. Yum!!

With a Cadbury Flake

We went to the grocery store to pick up dinner.

I've packed as much as I could. We're going to try taking some informal engagement photos next...

Next post will be from NJ. Sigh!

Good night!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy May Day!

Happy May Day!

We never made it to mini-golfing today, but we did attend the Warrington Food Festival:
Eating German sausages at the Warrington food festival

And we saw a sign for "Rhode Island Coffee":
Rhode Island Warrington, UK

Tonight we met at Maeri's house for dinner with several of Pete's former co-workers. It was really fun to see everyone again. Some folks I hadn't seen since 2005! And it was neat to see Maeri and Gwyndaf's 19-month old baby, who says "Pete" very easily.

Maeri made us heart engagement cookies:
Heart cookies made by Maeri
and they had a champagne toast for us too!

We bought flowers for Maeri (sounds like a Hallmark or Lifetime movie, doesn't it? "Flowers for Maeri, based on a true story...")
Flowers For Maeri

And we were reminded of life and death:
Drive safely!

Tomorrow is our last full day together til August, sigh!
Good night!