I’m Crumbling…

“My mommy’s crumbling” is how my 26 year old son describes me. My husband says he’s “worried about me”. Me? I just take it one day at a time focusing on my many blessings. I can pretty much sum up all of my medical problems to degenerative arthritis.

I started having problems in my thirties after a hard day of downhill skiing. My knees, more so my right knee then my left, would swell up to the size of a grapefruit. With rest (and ice, compression, and elevation), and NOT skiing the next day (oh, I guess that is “rest”), I could usually get the swelling to dissipate. I made a few lifestyle changes   (mainly I quit downhill skiing) and problem solved. Well, I thought so at least.

In 2010, I had not one but two meniscal repairs done on that pesky right knee. I was told I would eventually need a knee replacement done. Again, with some lifestyle changes, I’ve been able to stall that eventuality but I do realize it is hanging over my head.

In 2013, I experienced “nerve pain”. There is nothing that can compare to nerve pain; I would rather have a baby without anesthesia then nerve pain! My MRI confirmed I was having L4-5 disc compression with a resulting facet joint cyst that formed on the right side and was occluding the nerve pathway. This is when I founded a relationship with my neurosurgeon who took out that cyst and magically, the pain went away. My scar down the middle of my back eventually healed and I hoped to put my “back problems” behind me, pun intended.

Nope, less then six months later, I started having the same nerve pain down my other leg. When I started having muscle weakness in my left foot, I was back for another MRI which lead to the diagnosis of another cyst this time on the left side of L4-5. Fortunately, the surgery for this laminectomy and micro disc repair used the same incision; my scar is now just a bit wider then it used to be.

I have had so many MRIs, I now have specific “MRI clothes” to wear for this procedure. Although painless, it is a clasutrophobic feeling. And they keep those rooms cold! Having “MRI clothes”, clothes without zippers or any metal, allows for not only personal privacy but also warmth.

In June 2016, my arthritis took a turn for the worse. Now I was having problems standing or walking. It is funny the accommodations one makes when they have unspecified pain. I would let hubby stand in the grocery line to pay while I went to find a place to sit down under the pretense I had to check my email or some other immediate concern. Again, when muscle weakness started to interfere with leg strength, I was back in for another MRI. This time, my entire spine was “crumbling” at L4-5; a disc fusion was the reccommendation. Done in the fall of 2016, I feel I’ve lost six months of my life recovering from that surgery!

My arthritis is in other joints too. The x-rays  confirm I have moderate arthritis in my left hip. My right hip has a bit less arthritic changes. I have arthritis in my hands especially my thumbs; some mornings I can barely hold my coffee cup. The arthritic nodes push down on my nailbeds and have changed the shape my finger nails grow. And further up my spine, well, things aren’t looking so great there either. I’ve lost 40 pounds to take pressure off my joints and I quit an activity I love (now that was hard to do!) to decrease wear and tear on my joints.

Blah, blah, blah… I’ve gone to a rheumatologist to rule out Rheumatoid Arthrits or auto immune problems; well, at least I don’t have those. I guess my son is correct; I am “crumbling”!

The problem with going to these doctors is… there is nothing they can do to fix my underlying arthritis. I’ve been offered anti-depressants; I suppose I should be depressed? The way I see things is… every time I see a doctor, I am forced to confront all the things I can not do because of things that can not be fixed. Not one doctor looks at the things I CAN do! The official name for this is that I’m “dysphoric”; I cry when they tell me the results of my x-rays, MRI’s or other tests. My husband thinks I’m in “denial” of my problems. Not so at all! I fully understand I have this diagnosis and resulting limitations but my focus still remains on all the things I can do; perhaps a bit slower then I used to, but I can still do them!

I enjoy gardening; I have raised beds so I don’t have to bend quite so low. And when bending, I remember to never twist; it sets off that knee which swells if I do.  Sure, sometimes my husband or son will help me up from the ground. Me and my knees are very thankful for that! I enjoy photography. On hikes, fortunately, “the guys” will carry the equipment but then, they probably would anyways!  Most of all, I spend time with Jack, my rescued neglected and abused donkey. Like my arthritic problems where I don’t have a choice which joint fails me next, Jack didn’t have much choice on how he spent his early years. I’m hoping to change that now treating him with love and kindness. He has blossomed into the most amazing animal! Ahh… that is a post for another day!

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Mainly, I am grateful for my many blessings. I’m grateful for my husband’s love (we celebrated our 30th anniversary this year!) I’m grateful for my son now grown into a carling, thoughtful adult. And I am grateful for where I am in life. I surround myself in contentment… a sleeping dog at my feet, the purr of a cat on my lap, a blooming rose in my yard. And I remember this day… the warm sun, the fresh breeze, the smell of freshly mown grass. I embrace all these thing that touch my life and always remember, tomorrow is a new day. My focus is in looking forwards; my focus is on the future!

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The lyrics of this song about sum it up…

Watching The Wheels by John Lennon

People say I’m crazy doing what I’m doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I’m o.k. they look at me kind of strange
Surely you’re not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I’m lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell that I’m doing Fine watching shadows on the wall
Don’t you miss the big time boy you’re no longer on the ball?

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

People asking questions lost in confusion
Well I tell them there’s no problem
Only solutions
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I’ve lost my mind
I tell them there’s no hurry…
I’m just sitting here doing time

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

 

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2 comments on “I’m Crumbling…

  1. I’m 61 this year, and I think I approach my changing lifestyle the way you do. Your story begins with the challenges and ends on a very positive note. Although you’re always aware of the physical issues, you’ve chosen the positive path and fight to continue enjoying the things you care about.

    I am constantly learning how to readjust my lifestyle to match my capabilities. But I never regret it; I just look at it as a learning experience and readjust, again. My wife shakes her head a lot and lectures me, and I take what she says into consideration. I often end up telling her that one day I won’t be able to do these things, so I painfully enjoy them while I still can.

    I hope the arthritis progression slows down for both of us. I found your gratefulness and focus on the future inspiring, the only way to live life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • THANK YOU for this wonderful comment! I think we sometimes can feel we are the only ones dealing with our own specific limitations when in reality, there are many with various problems/limitations; it can be so disheartening to feel alone. There are so many types of arthritis, and so many degrees of severity, that it may not seem like a “thing” to some? But the pain is real!

      Defininitely live life to the fullest! It is all about the journey; not the destination, LOL! BTW, I’m only 54 and was really bummed to have to change my direction. Now, I’ve found a different adventure to embrace. And this new adventure may be even more of a thrill? I won’t know until I give it a try so… here goes nothing! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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