Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: June 27, Foot Doctor Update

After almost a month boot-free, I've been booted - again. It was a blissful 27 days boot-free. Wait, who am I kidding?! This is ME we're talking about. While some days were blissful, others were not so much. I broke my no-falls streak. I had issues with swelling and my foot hurting. So, I'd say half of the 27 days were blissful, the other half - well, they were tolerable. ;)

It was today, on the day I went back to the foot doctor to get booted again, that I was finally able to wear different shoes other than the tan "work" ones or the tennis shoes that I've been wearing. My foot had been too swollen up until today to fit into anything else. The irony of it makes me laugh. I'm just thankful that the good Lord saw fit to take away the swelling in the first place. Also, ironic - I was finally getting more up to speed in terms of my work-outs only now to be side-lined again for about two weeks. But I thank the Lord that I have been able to workout. I got up early this morning to do just that one last time.

Dr. Gardner clipped more tendons, or maybe just a tendon, in my middle toe. Using the word "clipped" makes me cringe. I don't know why, it just does. I wasn't nervous about today's appointment at all, until yesterday, when the nurse called to confirm it and used the terminology "in-office surgery." I know, I know...any time you cut or clip anything like a tendon, it's surgery, but the term "surgery" just gets me every time. If you think that I'm used to surgery (no matter how big or small it may be), you're wrong. As much as I've had, I still get nervous. But today was different. I went alone to the appointment. I didn't have to do pre-op stuff. I did have to sign a waver and as I did, I asked the nurse, "Is this in case he messes up?!" But that was the only thing "surgery" about it. It really was fine. The "worst" part was getting the shots to numb my toe and that wasn't even bad. Although - I was talking to Dr. Gardner and then he brings the needle out and I stop mid-sentence. ;) It was long and scary. I was both fascinated and a little anxious. I wanted to look, but at the same time didn't want to look. I ended up looking and for whatever reason, did OK with that! Before all of that, Dr. Gardner observed that my foot and toes were much more relaxed today. I told him it's probably because I messed with the settings on my deep brain stimulation device. I told him that I had fallen and that made me raise the electricity in the device. But the more I thought about that, I realized that I told him wrong! I did fall, but I didn't raise the electricity, I actually lowered it. Oh well. He got the picture: I had tinkered with the settings and he could visibly see the results. I don't think I'm quite "there" on the settings yet, but one thing at a time. ;)

My foot today BEFORE the "surgery". It's the tendon on the tip of my middle toe that he worked on. You can see all the other surgical scars from my surgery in April. 

I wondered how today's procedure would work. It was in his office. Would I be able to see the whole thing go down? Would it hurt? How long would it take? Would my foot cooperate? Well, it took longer to get everything set up for the "surgery" then it did the actual procedure. While he was prepping everything, I told Dr. Gardner thank you for convincing me to get the compounded topical medication he prescribed. Insurance didn't cover it, but it's been the best money I've ever spent on medicine - haha. It really, really works! When it came time for the "surgery", I couldn't actually see anything. Dr. Gardner covered it all up. Darn. As weird as it seems, I was kind of hoping I'd be able to see everything. I was surprisingly (or not so much) a little anxious. He told me I wouldn't be able to feel anything, but I guess my trust was wavering a little bit. It turned out, I shouldn't have worried (ha - this is the story of my life. I shouldn't worry about anything, because most of the stuff I worry about doesn't come to fruition anyway! This is in part why my life verse is Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (NIV version)). Dr. Gardner was right. I didn't feel a thing. In fact, if I weren't looking right at him, I'd never know he did anything. I saw him pick up the scissors and the stitching, but I couldn't see my actual foot. I was just thanking the Lord, he didn't use these pliers that I saw lying on the table. ;) The whole procedure took all of a minute, maybe two.

So, now I'm back in the boot. It's for protection mainly. Dr. Gardner wrapped my entire foot in a massive amount of gauze and medical tape and told me not to remove it until at least Saturday. He said that the way he wrapped it, it's actually going to help my toe heal the way he wants it to heal. He said it's keeping it straight (kind of like it's own splint). Although he said to keep the bandages on until at least Saturday, he said I could keep them on until I see him next on July 7. If I can stand it, I'll probably choose that option. ;) I'll feel better knowing that I haven't done anything to disrupt his work. Having the boot on protects all the bandages and keeps them in place. As I was leaving his office, the valet service people smiled and said, "Back in the boot, again?" Yep, back in the boot again.

Dr. Gardner asked if I had any questions. I told him, I probably would as soon as I left his office. ;) I did ask him about exercise and he smiled and said, "no exercise." So, tongue-in-cheek, I said, "No running a marathon?" He replied, "No running a marathon." I said, "Haha, I'd probably never run a marathon anyway." To which he replied, "Never say never. You never know." That's right. I never know. If you'd have asked me ten years ago would I have had deep brain stimulation and be able to walk without a cane or a walker, I would of told you NO, but here I am ten years later and I have had deep brain stimulation surgery and I am walking (no matter how awkwardly or precariously at times) without a cane or walker. God is awesome that way. So who's not to say that in ten years, I'll be running a marathon? Definitely not me! It's also back to taking showers with a trash bag wrapped around the boot. Oh what fun! ;)

While I was waiting back in the exam room, I learned all about toenail fungus. Fascinating stuff - haha. I learned that it can't be treated with over the counter medication or even topical medication or creams, Lamasil is the best. Haha, it would be the best medication as the whole thing I was reading was an advertisement for it. When Dr. Gardner came in, I told him I was reading all about it and he just laughed and said, "Good ole toe fungus!" As I'm sitting here typing this post, I thanked the Lord I don't have foot or toe fungus. I mean, that stuff is seriously disgusting! My apologies to anyone who actually does have it. I don't mean to offend, it just looks gross. ;)

Dr. Gardner gave me a prescription for pain meds and his cell phone number if I have problems, but he said this is nowhere near like what I had done on April 18. And so far, he's proven to be right. Leaving his office, I felt like I could go shopping. I didn't though. ;) I came home and took it easy. He did tell me to ice my foot and toes for an hour tonight. I said, "An hour?!?!" I think he was a little surprised at my hesitancy. He said, "Yeah, just put an ice pack on your foot and watch TV for an hour." Then I started laughing. I told him I thought he meant he wanted me to put my foot in a bucket of ice for an hour. He had told me to do that (although not for an hour!) after the surgery in April and I could barely last 30 seconds. ;) He laughed and said, "No, just put an ice pack on your foot this time." Whew!! What cracks me up the most is, I walked faster and with more confidence out of his office after "surgery" and in a boot, then when I walked into his office with my own two feet in regular shoes. This is my life, people!!

I have been so unbelievably blessed through this whole situation. What situation you may ask? EVERY SITUATION. I'm sitting here typing this and I'm remembering back twelve years ago when this whole journey started. There have been days that I want to forget, but I'm choosing to think of every situation, every missed diagnosis, every procedure, every hospital stay, every fall, every surgery, every embarrassing moment, every doctor, nurse, tech that I've met along the way, every single moment of life as an adventure. And thinking that way, turns my entire perspective around. I'm sure there will be days ahead filled with sorrow, depression, "why me", tears, frustration and all the rest because I'm human and that's my natural tendency, but in this very moment, I choose joy. I choose to see the adventure in every situation. I choose to see the growth and knowledge I gain in every situation. One thing remains: No matter what happens next, I'm still, as ever, convinced and know to be true that God's Got This!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: June 20

I can't believe a week has gone by since my last post. Seriously, some weeks just fly by and other's drag on, don't they?! The past week was so much better than the week before.

I finally started walking better - yay! Mind you, not perfect, but better. I'm thankful for this because Friday, I got all the way to the front door at work and realized I didn't have my badge to get in. I did one of those things where I glanced back at my car wistfully as if to say, "You're so far away, is it really worth it to walk back to you?" I weighed my options. I might have almost cried. ;) But then, I knew what I had to do, so I turned around, looked my car dead in the face and started walking. I was on a mission. A mission from God. Haha. I walked to my car and didn't fall - yay, God! I looked in the passenger side, since I thought I must have put it on the seat. No badge. I walked to the driver's side and didn't fall - yay, God! I looked on the seat and didn't see it, but when I opened the car door - there it was - stuck between the seat and the door - yay, God!! Once I had it, I looked the front door to my work dead in the face and walked back in with no falls - yay, God!! It's the "little" things to others that tend to be the "big" things for me. ;)

I have to thank Tina for walking with me in the parking lot at church on Sunday morning. I was having a time of it! I get so nervous when I think people are watching me, that it makes my walking even worse. I so wanted to grab a hold of Tina and hang on for dear life, but I didn't. She walked beside me, as slow as me, until we both made it safely inside church. Thank you, Tina! And if I'm being honest, I need to thank a million other people for doing the same thing. God shows up in the form of friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers when I don't know how I'll make it from Point A to Point B. He always, always saves the day.

I sometimes wonder if God allowed me to get dystonia so that He could teach me perseverance and patience, how to be brave and how to love myself like He loves me. I am none of those.

Perseverance?! I'd rather lay down and take a nap.
Patience?! Have you been reading this blog? I am the least patient person on the face of the earth!
Brave?! Not so much. I'm scared of my own shadow sometimes!
Loving myself? Yeah, not that either. I always find flaws.

BUT - what if God is using dystonia to teach me all of this? I kind of feel like the Israelites in the Bible in Moses' time wandering through the desert. It took them 40 YEARS to see the Promised Land. I'm on year 12. Dear Lord, please help me to get the picture soon...I don't want to be wandering for another 28 years or more!!

I say that, but I KNOW God is teaching me. However slow I learn, I still know He's teaching me. He's leading me and protecting me.

My foot and toes are slowly healing from the surgery I had on them back on April 18. It's been 2 months and 2 days and my foot and toes still swell. Albeit, there have been times when they are almost back to normal as well. It's a catch 22 for me: sometimes I want to wear tennis shoes all the time because they support me better and I feel as if I walk in them better, but then there are times I don't want any shoes or socks on at all so that I can let my foot "breathe". I am still applying the topical cream at least twice a day to my foot and toes. My prayer is that there will be NO SWELLING by the time I go back to Dr. Gardner next Tuesday, the 27th.

I'm thankful for the week that has past and I'm hopeful for the week that lies ahead. In every situation, I know that God's Got This!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tune-In Tuesday: June 13

Perspective is everything. That's what I've been mulling over this past week. Perspective. This time last year, I was still wearing a wig and walking with a walker. This year, I've got my own hair and no matter how hard it may seem at times, I'm walking on my own two feet.

However, I haven't been walking the best this past week. I broke my "no falls" streak on Saturday. I didn't injure myself except a little scrape, but it's so frustrating. My dad says that, at times, I drive too fast. I was thinking about that today and if I do drive fast, I think it may all circle back to the fact that I can't walk fast so I have to make up for it somewhere. But truly, in all honesty, I do drive safely and the speed limit.

Today, I literally left work for an appointment, 5 minutes earlier than I had normally planned to, just so that I could build in walking time to my car. And you know what? I needed that time!! It took me 6 minutes to get there. This may not seem like a lot of time to some, but if you knew where I parked in relationship to my desk, you'd think it was! I just want to go fast!!! I want to walk fast, run fast...all of it. :)

I did turn the electricity in my device down after my fall. It was set at 4 and now it's at 3.70. It's better, but I'm still not quite "there" just yet.

I take medication (along with the deep brain stimulation) to control my movements. It's actually a Parkinson's drug. I'm always super diligent about making sure I never run out of medication or get myself in a bind, that is - until this week. I picked up all of my prescriptions on June 9 - except for this one Parkinson's drug. It was delayed because I had run out of refills and the pharmacy had called my doctor and was awaiting a return call to say they could fill it. The pharmacy tech asked if I had enough of the medication to last me until they heard back from the doctor. I said yes. It turns out I did have enough until last night. Last night I started to panic. I realized that I never heard back from the pharmacy and I had one dose for the night, but only half a dose for today. So this morning, I frantically called the pharmacy. They said that they had not heard back from the doctor and said I could try giving him a call. So I did, and to make a long story short (after leaving them a message and slightly panicking), the doctor called in a new prescription and I now have the drug. Talk about stressful. I'm going to try to never run out of medicine again. The pharmacy was going to give me a three day supply, but I panicked wondering if the doctor was out on vacation and I wouldn't be able to get more than three days. But in the end, God worked it all out!

This past week, I celebrated a birthday. Actually, my birthday was just yesterday, June 12. My younger brother, Stanton and I share a birthday. I'm the type of person who LOVES celebrating birthdays. I know some people don't like celebrating them and for the life of me, I don't know why. I mean yes, we get older, but isn't that the point?! I mean, yes, getting older is messy. We have problems we never had when we were younger. Our bodies deteriorate more. BUT, again, it's all about perspective!! Birthdays should be a time to celebrate every scar - for every scar tells a story. We should celebrate that God gave us another day to wake up and be alive. We should celebrate our wrinkles and age spots and gray hair, because we've lived and continue to live. Perspective changes everything!! Plus, I love, love, love gifts. I'm just being real. The more presents the better - ha! :)

One birthday surprise was that my youngest brother, Steven came into town. He lives and works in Alabama now, but he came to celebrate with me! As he announced to our other brothers, "25% of the Elseroad siblings think I'm the best brother." Haha. He does know how to make my day!!

I have to give a shout-out to my sister-in-law, Aubrey and my other brothers, because they celebrated me well. I got spoiled with Chinese food and my favorite birthday cake (yellow cake with chocolate frosting) and presents. I'm one blessed girl!!

At work, my friend and co-worker, Debbie made me cupcakes (again, yellow cake with chocolate frosting!) and all my co-workers showered me with love. Again, I'm blessed!

So this past week had its ups and downs, but that's just life. We have to take the bad with the good. But even when bad comes, it's all about perspective. Sometimes bad isn't really bad after all, it's just another life lesson to learn. I've always known and continue to proclaim, God's Got This!!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Turn-It-Up Tuesday: June 6

Relearning how to walk without a boot has proved successful, frustrating and everything in between. In everything I see how God loves and how He provides. How He protects and how He's with me every step of the way.

I almost bit the dust this morning walking into work because I got distracted by someone, BUT the good news is, I didn’t. ;) I also didn't get attacked by the rogue mockingbird that’s been dive-bombing co-workers of mine – there’s always a silver lining – haha!

My first full day boot-free was Friday. It felt so weird. I’m thankful that I “practiced” walking without it the night before because I kept thinking the ground was closer than it was. I survived a full day though on Friday without it. I did however have it in my car, just in case I needed it.

Saturday morning, I exercised on the bike. I was thrilled with my walking that morning in the house. My toes touched the ground and were straight. It’s amazing how, with straight toes, I have WAY more balance. I was so excited. But maybe I was just a little too excited. ;) I decided to turn the electricity up in my deep brain stimulation device. I went from 3.30 volts up to 4. So, I guess technically, today is not a Turn-It-Up Tuesday as I did the turning up on Saturday. ;)

It remains to be seen if I turned it up too much. Yes, I’m having a few problems, but I always have a few problems right after adjusting it. So for now, it’s on 4 volts. I ran errands all day Saturday and while the morning was great, as the day wore on, I started to fade. I wasn’t as balanced, didn’t feel as confident walking and my foot and toes hurt. I was done by 4 pm. So, I went home. I checked the mail and the compounded topical medicated cream that Dr. Gardner had prescribed for me was in the mail! It could not have been better timing. I put it on right away and it was like a miracle drug. Seriously. The lidocaine in it helped immensely. Relief!! I’m so glad he changed my mind about filling the prescription. I can apply it 2-3 times a day and the pump is regulated with the exact amount to put on. I’ve been doing it twice a day. I have to rub it in for about two minutes when applying it. It’s like giving myself a mini-massage every time I do it. I do it once in the morning and once right before bed. Since Saturday night, I’ve slept well. No waking up because my foot or toes ached. Money well spent on that prescription!

My foot and toes are still swollen.

I had to go through several sets of shoes to find some that fit. It’s funny, usually I pick my shoes by what I want to wear. But now I pick my wardrobe by what matches my shoes. Since the boot is black, I wore clothes that matched black shoes. Now, the only shoe I can fit into is tan, so my wardrobe matches tan shoes.

Sunday was not the best walking day, but I got by with a little help from my friends (and family). I did OK walking up to Communion and back from it. I didn’t trip or fall into anyone. And yes, once, when Pastor Mark was still our associate pastor, I tripped and fell into him during Communion. He’s got cat-like reflexes though because he caught me with one hand and balanced the Communion wafers with the other!

Yesterday, wasn’t the best walking day either, but again, at the end of the day, I marveled at how I didn’t once fall. God provides all the time.

Yes, the past week had great days and not-so-great days, but isn't that life?! Even with frustrations, it simply amazes me that I am NOT walking with a cane or a walker anymore. Sometimes, I just have to stop and remember that. I am exceedingly blessed. God's Got This!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tune-In-Tuesday (but on a Thursday): June 1, Foot Doctor Update

My boot got the boot today - sort of!! :)

I saw Dr. Gardner today and it was good news/OK news. Notice I didn't say good news/bad news! I wrestled with the idea of bringing my left shoe in with me again. My decision? I brought it in with me! Dr. Gardner first looked at the callous on the bottom of my foot. It has healed tremendously. There was only a little spec of it left and he got rid of that today! When I looked at it after he shaved it all off, I told him, "You're a miracle worker!" He said, "No, I'm just a carpenter." To which I said, "Like Jesus!" He then laughed and said, "NO!! I'm no Jesus." ;)

I got two X-Rays and he said that everything looked good and everything was healing nicely and like it should. Except that stubborn middle toe. So there was a decision to be made. Did I want him to do an in-office procedure where he would numb my toe and foot and then clip the tendon? Umm...YES. I didn't have to think twice about that. I knew two weeks ago that that was a possibility. In fact, I kind of had it in my mind that he would do it today. In fact, he even asked when I'd like it done and I said, "Today!" But, he wants me to wait at least another 2 weeks to allow the swelling to go down even more. Yes, my toes and foot are still swollen. It's gone down remarkably well, but it's not "normal" yet. No begging or pleading would get him to change his mind about doing it today. God's again teaching me (by forcing me!) how to be patient. I go back on June 27 to have that done. He said it won't take more than 15 minutes to do.

Dr. Gardner did say I could kick the boot to curb though!!! Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), I got scared. Would I injure myself without the boot? Would I be able to walk without it? So many thoughts running through my head. They manifested in my indecisiveness. Since I brought my shoe with me, I could have walked out in the shoe. But I couldn't make up my mind what I wanted to do. Finally, I just told Dr. Gardner, "You decide for me. Tell me what to do!" And so he did. He said to wear the boot for the rest of today. Tomorrow, I can wear the shoe. Whew...I'm glad he made the decision for me or I may have still been in his office at this hour trying to decide! I don't have to wear the ace bandage any more, but he does want me to continue to tape two of my toes. He said it'll continue to help the swelling go down.

I told him that my foot and toes continue to ache. Not all the time, but they do. He said that it'll just take more time for the incisions to heal and not be so tender. Patience, grasshopper! Patience!! I asked him if I still had to ice my foot and toes. He said, if I get home at the end of the day and I felt like it, I should. Just for 15 minutes or so. But it's not mandatory. I told him that I didn't get the compound topical cream that he wrote me a prescription for because my insurance wouldn't cover it. He said he could give me a prescription for another cream that's like an anti-inflammatory and that would help reduce the swelling. But, after much discussion, I'm getting the compound medication after all. Some of the deciding factors were that it actually also has a numbing agent in it which in my case would probably greatly help me. He also said that it's a big jar. It'll last 6-8 weeks and that's if I apply it three times a day. Once I start applying it, I don't have to ice my foot at all (that would have been the same with the other medication as well)!

I got to exercise today for the first time since April 17!!!!!!!!!! I am was SO HAPPY about that. I had asked Dr. Gardner if I could. He had me remind him again of what type of exercise. When I said stationary bike, he said that was fine. He said I shouldn't get on a treadmill, but a stationary bike was just fine. I asked him if he could see me on a treadmill? I told him I tried that once and couldn't do it. I was falling all over myself. He laughed. A few weeks ago I got a new work-out top that I've been dying to wear. I put it on tonight, put tennis shoes on BOTH of my feet and hit the bike.

I took it slow and steady. I wasn't even disappointed that I didn't go as fast as I normally do or didn't burn as many calories as I normally do. Tonight was all about just getting back in the swing of things. It was bliss. Yes, I said bliss. I think I need exercise as much for stress relief and endorphins then I do for keeping my weight in check. It was awesome.

Circling back to the beginning of this post - while I get to give my boot the boot for now, I will have to wear it again after I get the tendon clipped on June 27. Dr. Gardner wants me in it for 5 days after. He said it's more for protection and keeping the bandages in place then anything else. I call it dangling the carrot in front of my face. He's giving me two weeks without it and then I have to wear it again for 5 days? That's just cruel!! I'm only joking about that. But, part of my decision in making the appointment for the 27th was that I didn't want to get completely used to walking in a regular shoe only to have to go back to the boot. Also, Dr. Gardner is going to be out for the next 2 weeks so this was the first appointment I could get - so there's that! ;) I have to say that my foot is really tender where that callous used to be and I'm so glad that Dr. Gardner made the decision that I should wear the boot for the rest of the day today and start wearing a real shoe tomorrow because when I put on my tennis shoes tonight, I noticed my proprioception (My big word for the day that I learned from a physical therapist years ago. It means where you are in time and space) is WAY off. I thought the ground was closer then it was and it just felt really weird. Better to get that out of the way in the privacy of my own home then in front of co-workers - haha! Seriously though, I didn't fall.

My foot has been giving me some problems, dystonia related. I've got to get back to a setting (with my deep brain stimulation device) that works for me. I haven't found it yet and the frustrating part is with dystonia, you don't see results instantly, so I don't know if I'm on a good setting for me or not until a couple of weeks pass by. Oh well, this is teaching me patience!! Since I just "upped" it on Tuesday, I must wait. But it was giving me a time at Dr. Gardner's office. I told him that it knows it's being looked at so it wants to ball up. He said it knows it has an audience. Yes, indeed! So, I'm a little frustrated in that department. BUT - I have many, many things to look forward to and that makes me happy. I look forward to getting that middle toe fixed, I look forward to my birthday (and everyone else in my family's birthday - it's Elseroad Week June 11-June 16). I look forward to what God's doing in my life. A co-worker today reminded me that God didn't bring me this far to just forget me. He has a plan, a mighty, majestic wonderful plan. That's what I look forward to. I trust God knows what He is doing because always and forever, God's Got This!!