Saturday, March 16, 2013

Snap Crackle Pop

For the past year and a half I have been seeing my doctor to try and figure out what was causing my ankle pain. Admittedly I am not a very good patient and would put off doing xrays or whatever tests he would send me for so we probably would have found this out sooner if I had followed orders. The results are in...I'm 37 and have degenerative osteoarthritis in both my ankles.

It started with me thinking I had sprained my ankle running or had really bad running shoes that needed replacement. I stopped running for a few weeks but the pain never really seemed to go away. Sometimes I felt my ankle was out of place. I would limp around like I had a cast on but usually only rest made is marginally better.

I didn't really worry too much about it until a year later when it started to happen in my other ankle as well. Now that was weird!? What is the possibility of similar sprains in both ankles? So I carted myself off to the doctor again to admit I'd never gone for the 1st set of xrays he had asked me to do and left with the requisitions to finally get them done.

No surprise to me the xrays showed nothing. When it comes to my health I have always felt the same anxiety you feel when you're trying to show a mechanic how you're car is making a weird sound and it stops doing it the minute you get the car into the shop. My body does the same thing. My doctor would look at my joints and move them and I'd feel no pain. Then I'd get up to walk away from the examining table and BAM! my ankles hurt. It was difficult and frustrating to try to explain.

So my doctor decided it was time for an MRI and sent off the forms to put me on the waiting list. Then a few days later I got a call from my doctor's office telling me the MRI specialist said they felt I should go for a bone scan prior to being put on the MRI waiting list.

Have you seen a bone scan? It's kind of cool and kind of creepy at the same time. You go in the morning and they inject your blood with a radioactive material. They take an initial scan of your body and then you need to leave and drink 8 or so glasses of water. You come back a few hours later for them to take more scans and then compare the two. The cool part is that they let you watch to see what your xray/scan looks like. The creepy part is that they let you watch to see what your xray/scan looks like ;)

This is NOT my ankle. But it gives you an idea what you're looking at during the appointment. My ankles were both lit up like white Christmas tree lights.

I didn't hear back from my doctor for two weeks so once again I figured there was nothing to talk about and we'd just wait for the MRI. Then my doctor's nurse called me and started to rattle off what was wrong with me and what I needed to do to manage pain. I had to stop her and make her start over again. "Wait. You FOUND something?".  I wasn't sure what to do so I did what most other people do these days...I googled it so I would know what to ask about during the follow up appointment with my doctor.

Turns out degenerative osteoarthritis is uncommon in the ankles and it's uncommon in people my age. Yay. I looked up treatment options and it seems cortisone, physiotherapy, and drugs are really my only options. Because cortisone works less and less effectively each time you take it I've opted for physiotherapy and go for my initial assessment in 2 weeks.  Since the start of all this I've also developed pain/buckling in my left knee and pain in my left thumb joint. So in addition to more xrays and being waitlisted for the MRI my doctor has referred me for physio in my ankles, hands, neck and knees. I foresee lots of appointments and work in my future.

What does this mean for me? Well I've slowed down. I have told my Zumba instructor I will not be back until my physiotherapist clears me to take the class. I've stopped running. I've stopped using our indoor bike. I'm reconsidering all my volunteer activities as I need to make more time for all these appointments. And Hubs and I are rethinking some parts of our lives. We were talking about a trip for our 10 year anniversary this summer and couldn't decide where to go. Now that we know what is causing my pain, and it's not going to go away, we have decided to bump up certain trips that require a lot of walking or standing. Best to do them now at 37 than try with my unknown pain levels/mobility restrictions at 47.

One of the hardest things for me to give up was the Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life. For the past 3 years I've walked throughout the night logging somewhere between 22-30 kilometres. Well, that's just not going to happen anymore. The cold of the night plus walking that distance while sleep deprived is just not a reality anymore. So I've decided to do this walk instead: Walk To Fight Arthritis  It's only 1km or 5km and it's in support of a disease that directly affects me now. I've started a team called Snap Crackle Pop if you'd like to join me on my walk.

My closest family and friends have been generous with support, encouragement and hugs. It's helped a great deal. Because my osteoarthritis is in my weight bearing joints it's hard to forget for even a moment that this is going to be a lot of work for the rest of my life. What makes it better is knowing my family and friends are understanding and supportive. My sister-in-law suggested it gives me an excuse to put my feet up more and enjoy a glass of wine; I like the way she thinks ;)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Because Edmonton Cares - On Diaper Duty

A few weeks ago one of our BEC members mentioned to me that the local Food Bank was running short on diapers. She asked if there was anything we could do about it. It just so happened we were already going to volunteer there on March 6th so we decided to hold a diaper drive and take our donations along with us when we went to volunteer.

I put the call out on twitter, our Facebook page and to my son's preschool. It was amazing to see the number of generous souls who helped out! For 2 days I did diaper pick-ups around the city and was always so pleased to stop at a home and see a giant box of diapers, and sometimes formula, on their step.

What amazed me even more was the number of people who stopped by my home to drop them off or who purchased them online and had them shipped to me.

People care. It's really as simple as that. If you put the call out, people will help.

We only had 2 weeks to collect donations and I have never done this before so I set a goal of collecting 500 donated diapers. This is what we got instead:

In just 2 weeks we collected over 2,330 diapers and several cans of formula. It almost didn't all fit in my car!

The Food Bank was so very appreciative of our efforts and once I arrived there to volunteer I understood why; many of the diaper bins were empty. Our contact at the Food Bank also showed me the formula shelves and again I was mortified to see they were almost empty. Did you know that approximately 40% of the clients at the Food Bank are children under the age of 18?

It's heartbreaking to think of a child going unfed, unwashed, or unchanged. We will be doing another diaper/formula/personal hygiene drive later in the year to continue with our efforts to help those struggling in our city.

Thank you again to all those who helped with this drive, or help in their own way on their own time. Every little bit helps and YOU ARE APPRECIATED!


Sunday, March 3, 2013

January Book Reviews - 2013

It's a new year and with it comes a whole new goal to reach! I have decided to partake in the 50 Book Pledge hosted by The Savvy Reader but I set my goal at 75 books to read in 2013. One month in I'm thinking I was a wee bit ambitious but I'll do my best!

1. The Vile Village - Lemony Snicket: I'm going to spare you any more details about this series as there's 13 books in the collection and this is only book 7! If you want more information about the series just look at my previous posts as I have been reading 1-2 of them each month for the past few months.

2. King Solomon's Mines - H. Rider Haggard:  I love the fact that the author wrote this book on a dare from his brother that he could write something at least 1/2 as good as Treasure Island. In my opinion it was better than Treasure Island! The story is about the adventure of Allen Quartermain on his quest to find a lost explorer who was in search of King Solomon's Mines.  It's a great tale of adventurer, and friendship while at the same time exhibiting exceptional forward mindedness when the author introduces an interracial relationship. Considering the book was published in 1885 I was quite surprised at this and also uplifted! It certainly deserves its reputation as a classic.

3. The Case of the Missing Servant - Tarquin Hall: I bought 3 of these books in the series on a complete whim. To be honest I must have been craving butter paneer and it led me to these books about a detective in India. Who knew my stomach had decent literary taste!?  If you're a fan of The #1 Ladies Detective Agency series you'll enjoy this too. What I do like about this series is that it's a little more high-tech than #1 Ladies so it has a more modern feel to it.

4. In The Garden of Beasts - Erik Larson: I really enjoyed reading Erik's book Devil in the White City so thought I'd give this one a try. It's the story of William E. Dodd who was the American Ambassador in Berlin during the rise of Hitler. What I like about Erik's writing is that he makes history interesting. He generally bases his writing off the person letters of the people he's writing about. Much of what he learned was in the diaries of William and letters of his daughter Martha. I found the first 1/2 of this book move quickly and was very interesting but the second half felt like he was stretching for more material. Still an interesting read if you can push through to the end.

5. A Nation Worth Ranting About - Rick Mercer: Have I ever mentioned how much I love Rick Mercer? I really, really think he should run to be our next Prime Minister as he seems to know more about Parliament than any official we have in office! His book is a collection of rants over the past few years along with some stories from his life. This book actually made me laugh out loud and made me google a few things when I was shocked by some of what he talked about. That's what I love about Rick, he makes you think and laugh at the same time. Totally worth it; go pick it up.

6. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad: I can't really say this book floated my boat (lame pun). It's a story of Marlow, a sailor, who is on a journey up the Congo River in the 19th century. He's on a mission to try and save Mr. Kurtz, a mysterious ivory trader. It was on our 501 Must Read list and I can't say I'm entirely sure why it was. When I read it I assumed it was written 100 years ago but was shocked to find out it was written in 1990. I didn't feel invested in the characters or the story so I'd say it wouldn't be on my own must read list.

7. Mysterious Benedict Society - Trenton Lee Stewart and Carson Ellis: This is a super cute series of books I picked up based on internet reviews. This is the 1st book in the series and it's about four gifted orphan children who are selected for a secret mission to help save the world. The characters are lively and original as is the storyline and the challenges the orphans face. I would recommend this for kids 8 and up or for the young of heart.