My last post was about the insanity in my life and the new request for a c-spine MRI for Facet Injections. Update time.
Even though Tricare tried to derail the planned MRI by not letting me know ahead of time I needed an authorization because last year we switched from one major medical billing company to another, because government whatever, an awesome lady at the hospital billing department caught it, called me, called my referring doctors, and got the referral the day of the MRI.
Long story short, I was laying in an MRI machine Monday night listening to Blue Oyster Cult.
I got the disk before I left so my pain docs have the images tomorrow for the facet injections. If they happen.
I got the radiologist’s report today.
Because something popped up on my MRI. Because of course it did. I am the poster child for one-in-a-million. I figured a hip replacement at 34 years old was rare enough. Then I figured the inoperable brain tumor was rare enough.
But then we see this on the report…
It would appear I have something called a perineural cyst on the left side (because of course it’s the left side. It’s ALWAYS the left side!!) of T1-T2. More commonly known as Tarlov Cysts and more commonly found in the sacral spine.
So it would appear that I have some new tests and experiences ahead of me. There’s even a rare disease foundation for the Tarlov Cyst Disease research. As in 8-9% of the population: rare disease. I did what I always do and dove into research (and admittedly I have more reading to do, and I will probably reschedule my “routine” neurologist appointment since my next appointment isn’t until March 1) and it seems perineural cysts are under the “rare and genetic diseases” GARD and/or NORD national Organization for Rare Diseases . I’m nothing if not a research junkie.
I’m still processing. Clearly I have more to read and learn, and doctors to talk to.
BUT: they can’t tell me it’s “in my head”.
Today I celebrate the fact that I had major surgery 11 years ago today and gained a shiny new all-metal hip and the ability to walk again. The story with my ortho is one of my favorite stories to tell…
This is my left hip one month before surgery. I had basically no hip socket and what we didn’t know then was that my soft tissue had been holding my femur in place….mostly. So when I tore the cartilage in my left hip in August of 2007, I ran out of time.
The beginning of my hip dysplasia actually doesn’t begin until I was almost 19 and just had my first child. I went to my doctor complaining that my hip hurt all the time and American Army medicine and the early 90’s meant that the geniuses in charge of my care did a “scanogram” (swear to God that’s what they told me) and determined that my left leg was 1 1\2 cm shorter than my right leg. Or my left knee was 1 1/2 cm higher than my right knee? They actually told me my left femur was shorter. Ya follow me? Yeah…anyway….
Skip to 2003 and I was still dealing with hip pain and now some spine issues and got a thorough check up after I had my youngest child. This time it was a Navy doctor in Florida that did an x-ray and then an MRI on my hip and told me I have hip dysplasia. Eventually I would need a total hip replacement and there wasn’t really much else they could do. At that point in my life (with a 6 month old baby, breast feeding, and at my heaviest weight), I got told to “lose as much weight as you can” by an incredibly competent and compassionate ortho doc. (sarcasm? you bet. I cried all the way home.)
I lost 50 pounds over the next 15 months and have pretty much kept most of it off since 2004. I gain 10 pounds here or lose it there and I am currently just 8 pounds heavier than my thinnest weight in 2007. I went through physical therapy twice and when I tore the cartilage in my hip I ran out of time. My doctors wanted to get me to 40 (never happened. I’m not letting go of my 30s without kicking and screaming, but that’s another blog). I made it to my 34th birthday. I also managed to wait long enough to have a new all metal hip resurfacing instead of the traditional hip replacements that up to that point lasted 10-15 years. The Birmingham Hip was FDA approved in August 2006, my surgery was in November 2007. I got incredibly lucky and happened to live in Michigan at the time where the #2 hip replacement specialist is.
My doctor had trained in Birmingham England where the surgery and hardware was created. I had seen 3 different ortho docs that year and was referred to my surgeon because I was a good candidate for the Birmingham and considered too young for a traditional hip replacement.
Just before my surgery.
My surgery went well and other than needing 2 blood transfusions I recovered well and spent the winter of 2007/2008 learning how to walk again. I only spent one week needing a walker. I was determined to not need a frickin walker so 7 days post-op I was able to walk with a cane. I mean, if you took my cane away from me I couldn’t go anywhere, but I walked with a cane just a week after surgery.
Fun fact: if you look closely, you can see the 22 staples I had.
My ortho surgeon made a point to come to the hospital the day after my surgery (this is why this is a good story) to tell me that he had done about 300 of these surgeries so far and my surgery was the only time he opened up my capsule surrounding my hip joint and my hip dislocated by itself! The soft tissue was literally the only thing keeping my hip in place up to that point. I should make a note that I actually walked into the OR that day.
By the end of February 2008 I could walk again without my cane and because I had such a kick ass physical therapist (pt nazi) I was in the best shape of my life.
11 years later I am still able to walk. The rule is, however, that you can get far or you can get fast. Either I can walk further or I can get somewhere quickly. You don’t get both. I have a cyst on my hip joint but it hasn’t progressed to me needing another surgery. And even though I tend to fall down the stairs like it’s my job, I haven’t managed to damage my new hip (knock on wood!).
So, here’s a martini today to kick ass technology!!
I’ve had a shit day. I realized I have been pretty quiet as far as blogging goes lately and that pretty much because I am stable, and other than the normal day to day, there’s not very much in my life that’s worth writing down and sharing.
I mean, because Wendy ( Picnic With Ants) shared some of her story about the pain in her wrist and thumb I was able to do some reading and figure out my symptoms matched hers, but not necessarily the intensity so I have been waiting to see if it resolves on it’s own. I have an appointment with PCM DR Traffic-Director tomorrow and it’s still there just enough to be a bother, so I think I will bring it up with her tomorrow.
I also checked my labs so I knew what was going on before I see her, and found that my numbers are actually pretty good! The only discrepancy I see might mean my synthroid dose just get bumped up a tiny bit, but that doesn’t actually surprise me since my thyroid disorder is autoimmune.
But none of that is related to my shit day…well, mostly. Appointment with Dr Traffic-Director was scheduled for tomorrow because 1) It’s time for my yearly physical 2) the doctor I have been seeing is active duty and getting orders to rotate out next month (if you’ve ever been in the military clinic setting for your primary care, you’ll get that) and (3) because I have been informed that the clinic is instituting a new “program” for chronic pain patients.
As part of their new Pain Process Protocol Program (seriously how many fucking hours did you schmucks spend around a table in a boardroom to come up with that one?!?!) I have been “issued” a prescription for Narcan, I get a new case worker (oh goody.), and I have to check in with my primary care doc every 90 days.
1. Yeah….that prescription ain’t gonna be picked up.
2.My “primary care” is a joke, they rotate out every 3 years. We retired here. I’ve been with my same pain specialist for over 6 years and I already follow all their rules and jump through their hoops (new contract at the beginning of the year, random urine screenings, seeing them every 8 weeks, fill all my scripts at the same pharmacy, I am only given 30 days of meds at a time, so my meds have to be refilled every 29 days….
I am stable, compliant, and my doses haven’t been changed in several years.
So fuck you guys and your Narcan, and your 90 days, and your case worker.
You’re about 6 years too late. I have been with the same pain specialists for over SIX years. And allll those things we get told to do before or instead of pain meds; I DID THEM.
Every formula of the SSRIs, SSNRIs, and SNRIs out there; acupressure, acupuncture; Reiki, Biofeedback, physical therapy, “gentle exercise”, occupational therapy, yoga, talking to at least 2 shrinks, trigger point injections; massage therapy; Lyrica, Neurontin, ….you name it, I tried it. I had to trial and fail every other option before I got any narcotic pain meds. It was not easy. It was probably a 5 year process. I also even underwent light anesthesia (propofol) 13 times in one year for spinal injections and a rhizotomy.
NOW, six years later, when I am stable and compliant, and my only “risk factor” is that I take narcotic pain meds; you fools want to stick your nose in. My primary care is just a traffic director….issuing referrals. My case is difficult and complex, and the people that I see the most (pain doc & neurologist) KNOW me. They know me and my case.
I did not accept the “script” for Narcan, I didn’t answer my phone when my “case Manager” called. Go away. And take you stupid PPP Program with you.
I always said the one thing I got out of college (besides a degree and being the first woman in my family in 4 generations to go to college) was a birth order theory. I was a Psych major, which if you know me is kind of ridiculous because psychology is waaayyy too subjective for me.
I have discovered I am a really, really objective kind of girl. I like things to be true, and proveable, and empirical.
But somehow I failed algebra twice, I have a psych degree, I’m a writer, and I believe psychology is good for understanding birth order theory. And I have emerging observations about the generations in addition to birth order.
I’m Gen X. Born in the first half of the 70’s so I’m pretty sure that puts me squarely in Generation X. My parents being 20+ years older than me puts them in the Baby Boomer Generation. I had kids young and then, for several reasons I have touched on in previous blogs, I have a 10 year age gap between my oldest and youngest child, which was just enough to put them in millenials (kid 1 and 2) and almost Gen Z (youngest).
I am also an only child. Something that seems to be less common in my generation. But then I went on to have 3 children of my own. So when I started studying birth order in my second year of college, I found it really interesting. And, observing my own behaviors, my husband’s (he’s an oldest), and my three kids; I found a part of the abstract, subjective major I had chosen that made more sense to me. I always say in the unlikely event I ever go back to studying Psych I would focus on birth order.
One of the most interesting things to add, for me, is also throwing in the generational changes.
(I haven’t been blogging a lot, so I thought I’d share some of the noise in my head since health-wise I am mostly stable right now. Post MRSA, stable brain tumor, managed pain, waiting til June for more all-metal hip implant related tests. But I’m a writer, and it’s always noisy in here, even if most of it just ends up in my journals. So the birth order thing is a subject I find interesting. And this is today’s noise in my head.)
And the world is crazy enough right now so I’ll skip the commentary.
I am a born in the 70’s Gen X’er, very (very!!) much an only child. It’s not a bad gig, but I always knew I wanted more than one child of my own because there’s a lot of social skills you don’t necessarily learn as an only. Throw in that we moved A LOT when I was a kid (5 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 3 high schools), and you have me. Red-headed rebel child, introvert, music lover, dancer, writer, weirdo.
My husband is an oldest. He has 2 younger brothers in an age spacing kind of close to our kids. I had my oldest kid early in adulthood, which is a blessing because I started showing symptoms in my 20’s, so if I had waited to have kids until my late 20’s or early 30’s I might not have more than one….or maybe any. I have 3 kids, but I have been pregnant 5 times.
Anyway, back to the story. My oldest is squarely in the millenials. My oldest two actually. Born in the first half of the 90’s (92 & 94), they are all millennial. My youngest wasn’t born until December 2002, so she’s more of a gen Z. It’s interesting to see not only the differences in who they are as oldest, middle, and youngest; but different in generations.
Did you know it’s not uncommon for onlys to marry oldests? The oldest is usually more independent and responsible. The middles are often peace-makers or entertainers. Youngests are more easy going and happier. Onlys have traits of both oldests and youngests. (I mean, it makes sense right?)
I am an only, and an introvert, and happy to spend plenty of time by myself. But my youngest is known to follow whoever’s home around the house and just like to be nearby. My oldest is responsible and (too)hard on herself sometimes. My middle has always tried to make us laugh and he’s an entertainer.
What do you think? Are you an only? Or a youngest? Do you see bits of yourself in some of these traits?
Side note: Friends of mine lost their daughter to brain cancer this last week. Please consider donating to Stand Up 2 Cancer or The American Brain Tumor Association. Both causes close to my heart . Or even just share my post or the pages for either organization.
Prayers, positive energy, love, hope, or strength are all gratefully accepted and I will pass them on to the family.
My heart hurts so much for them right now. I don’t have the words….
❤ ~ X
So in spite of my best efforts to ignore anything that even remotely resembles a birthday, my mom called me today to remind me I have a birthday tomorrow. We disagreed about exactly which birthday it is. Suffice to say we’re (read: I’m) going with I’m 36.95 plus shipping & handling.
BUT one thing we can agree about is 10 years ago today I had my hip surgery! A cutting edge, new, all-metal hip replacement designed to last the rest of my life. At the time of my surgery, it had only been FDA approved for about 14 months, and from what I can tell, it is not done much, if at all, anymore. And I was unbelievably lucky enough to have the #2 U.S. surgeon, who had, in fact, traveled to Birmingham, England to train on the surgical technique!
So today I celebrate that I have a hip I can still walk on, and I am grateful every day for that ability!
Whether or not my brain tumor is related to said hip implant remains to be seen, and they just drew Cobalt and Chromium levels last Thursday, so I will keep you up to date when I get the results. I already know my chromium levels are high, but they’re normal-people high, not implant-patient high. Or at least they were 2 years ago.
Whatever. Ya’ll ain’t getting my implant back. I am not open to a revision surgery. It’s really damn hard to learn to walk again in your 30’s.
Side note: also, 15 years ago I was within 12 days of delivering my youngest child, my Rainbow Baby, my miracle I went through Hell and high-water to have.
And the last thing to share this week is that I got to do a bucket-list, incredibly cool thing last Friday night. We went to the Kennedy Center and got to see FLUFFY!!! (Gabriel Iglesias!) (& if you know who that is, you know how funny he is!)
I don’t think I have ever laughed as hard as I did at his show. I had tears rolling down my face, bright red (thank goodness for awesome water-proof mascara). It was one of the best things I’ve gotten to see!
We had awesome seats, second row, stage right.
So, Happy Birthday Hip. I got to see Fluffy. And cobalt & chromium levels coming this week!
*gentle hugs* ~ ❤ Xunnie
Merry Samhain! Happy Halloween! And a good boo! to you all!
Today is my last day of my Photos From My Life series. Did you guys like anything in particular? I always think it’s interesting to see photos from someone else’s life. Where are they? What do they tend to take pictures of?
Some people take pictures of places, or things, moments, or other people so they can hide behind the lens instead of being in front of it. Some take pictures of places and people they love to remember.
As I was looking through my social media today, I counted how many of the past years I have thrown on scrubs and dressed up on Halloween as my alter ego: Meredith Grey. Since I created my personal Facebook page in 2008, I have dressed in scrubs 6 out of the last 9 years, with 2 other years as Alice (one was Evil Alice, inspired by Warehouse 13), and one year I was Sarah Sanderson. (and if you don’t know who that is, get your booootay over to Amazon and order Hocus Pocus stat!!)
This year I am dressing up as an Arkham inspired Steampunk Harley Quinn. (I’ll post pix tomorrow! The girl child is doing my make up!)
So, onward to the final Black & White Photo for my series!
Merry Samhain! ❤ ~ Xun
Time for my “yearly physical”…..bwahahahaha. Yeah, I know. As someone that sees a doctor no less than every 8 weeks, it cracks me up when I have to go see my primary care traffic director every year. She likes to pretend she does more than bitch about my labs and direct referrals, but we know better.
She’s young and in her defense she’s only had me for a patient for about a year and a half and I’m a pain in the ass. It’s not her fault that she’s in over her head…she wasn’t even in med school when I had my hip replacement.
I went over to the lab like a good girl and had them pull my fasting labs last Monday morning so that she had everything before I see her Tuesday afternoon. They pulled 7 vials out of me!! Pretty sure I should have had a cookie before I drove home, but the good news is I am a super easy stick. No rolling veins or tough spots to try to find. And everything went smoothly, so I’m hoping I was the easiest patient that lab tech had all day.
So of course I had to log into the patient portal and get my labs so I can analyze them before I even see her.
My TSH and T4 levels look like they might have to raise my Synthroid dose. But they’ve been creeping it up for over 10 years. I’m not surprised. It is autoimmune thyroid.
My metabolic panel looks pretty good. Hemoglobin and hematocrit are just barely low, but they’re good for me. Vitamin D and B12 are really good! Yay me for taking my vitamins!
The biggest thing I noticed was my GGT is still high but nothing like it was last year. (I did have MRSA then!) And it’s trending down.
And I got a hold of my Cobalt and Chromium levels from last September and of course they’re high, but they’re normal people high, not MoM implant high. And honestly I don’t care. I’m not open to revision surgery. November is my 10th anniversary of my hip surgery, so the way I see it I’m doing pretty damn good.
More updates after my appointment this week!
There’s a lot going on in my life right now. My oldest is living with me for a bit and getting her classes and clinicals set up for the upcoming semester. She has all 5 of the next semesters planned out and then tah-dah!! She’s off to be a radiographer extraordinaire! And my youngest has decided to make the leap into public high school, so that’ll be the biggest change for her (and for me!) (Seriously….ahhhhhh!!!! If you want me, I’ll be in my blanket fort!!)
I’ve shared all of this before, but on the heels of all this stuff, it also be time for the yearly check up. Kid goes tomorrow, probably need a Dtap booster and we want to get the Gardasil and she’s a happy and healthy kidlet, so she’s gonna be just fine!
Me? Well I started today by getting my lazy-wanting-to-crawl-back-under-the-covers bootie up and over to the clinic so the could pull my “fasting labs” before MY yearly check up next week. So that was 7 (seven!) vials they pulled today! I’m pretty sure I should have had a cookie and some juice before I left.
But I am seriously the world’s easiest stick:
I was just surprised it was so many vials! But I’m an easy stick, no rolling veins or trouble finding one. Stick, get the blood, BOOM done!
Then after dinner, I was sharing news about my friend’s dad had a heck of a scare last week and I spent most of last week praying for her and her family and thinking “I just really don’t want you to have to join the club.” (Grey’s reference)
There’s just so many of us that have lost our dads already, and far too many of those come from cancer, and I just…..I believe in miracles and I wouldn’t want that experience for anyone.
So I have been thinking about my friend, and sending good energy out in her direction.
I’m still technically a brain cancer patient, but I’m stable right now, no changes etc. But my friend’s Dad had a really scary afternoon last week and came back from 2 (TWO!) cardiac arrests and was busting out of the hospital 4 days after and asking to go to the local VFW Friday Fish Fry. And the whole thing just sat me down.
I’m still a brain cancer patient, but I’m stable and still fighting for my independence. I’m down to 3 doctors these days and doing much better than a year ago (when I had MRSA). I just mean I understand both a patient, and as a daughter who did lose a Dad to lung cancer 5 years ago.So I’m sitting in my living room, mulling things over, and feeling like I should share and I look up….
A Sailor’s Wife on the wall, a gift from my sailor when he retired out of the Navy after 24 years. My incredibly cool cherry blossom tree card I got for Mother’s Day, Deadpool…..because Marvel, and our newest incredibly cool thing in the house: a 3D printed moon that lights up from the inside.
Sometimes I just get sat down bust by looking around, thinking about stories we share with other people, or they share with us. Seeing something you can relate to…..sometimes there just are no words.
But this week I found some perspective, something to be grateful for, a lot of hope for,a couple of tears, and a question for myself.
My friend’s Dad went into cardiac arrest twice , he got CPR and the paddles and he fought back. He came back. Could I have done the same thing in his shoes? I’d love to reply to that question with a snappy “yes!!”, but I’m not so sure.
If anything, it certainly shows that the will to fight is just as strong as any chemo, surgery, or medical intervention. Don’t get we wrong, one of the reasons he survived was because he was in a place the allowed him to be treated while they called the ambulance and got him to the hospital.
But hearing how things happened certainly gave me pause. I’m a brain cancer patient too, but I am stable and doing pretty good right now. So I send my heartfelt prayers, and love, and hope to that family. And I hope I keep in mind that the will to fight is just as important as any IV, scan, drug therapy, or surgeon.
Sometimes, the fight seems it might just be a little bit more.
June and July are funny months in the Xunnie household. There’s always the changing of the seasons, graduations, etc ; but we also have the anniversary of my Dad’s death coming up (06/23), what would have been his birthday (07/06), and the anniversary of what I call My Line in the Sand(07/17).
And now, three years into this, we have the anniversary of my diagnonsense. My brain tumor was found because I started falling down the stairs as some kind of a hobby and I complained to my pain docs about more headaches, so she wrote me a referral to a neurosurgeon who ordered the first MRI. I then saw who has become my steady spot in all of this, my neurologist, who then made a face at me and ordered a second scan. And then it was confirmed on June 20, and the next thing I knew I was headed up to Georgetown for half my Summer.
Yes, THE Georgetown hospital. And the coolest thing (is there is such a thing)? My “team” included the HEAD of Neurosurgery and the HEAD of Radiation Oncology. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I must be an interesting case and I’m grateful for it. But yeah, that was a tough Summer. My son was deployed at the time, so I couldn’t tell him all hell had broken loose and inside of 30 days we signed a contract to have our house built, my dog died, and I got diagnonsensed.
June 23, 2012 my Dad lost his fight with cancer and June 20, 2014 I got diagnosed with a brain tumor.
The point of all of this is:
- I did, in fact, get this year’s results and the tumor is “stable with no change in size”.
- I realized today as I was telling my oldest daughter a story about the time my Dad came to Michigan and they didn’t know what to make of him that I have all these images and memories that my kids don’t get to see the way I did. They’ve heard the stories, but they were so little, they don’t remember.
The story I was telling my daughter was: Grandpa was so dark skinned and we’re all fair, blue-eyed, etc so when people see my kids run up yelling “Grandpa! grandpa!” they don’t know what to think. When he visited San Diego, they thought he was Mexican. When he went to Egypt (for work) they thought he was Egyptian. But in Michigan, USA, this lady could not figure out what was going on. (It sounds terribly racist, but when you see his reaction, it’s just funny!) So, as she’s following us through the grocery store and staring, he turns to me and says “if she doesn’t stop it, I’m gonna run over there and kiss her!”
No, he didn’t take himself too seriously.
My daughter smiled and said “I’ve always heard the stories, but I don’t remember….”. All I could think after she went to do her thing for the rest of today and as I’ve gone through my day was I wish I could close my eyes and show them.
Buzzfeed famously has all these ridiculous “What Superpower Should You Have?” or “If You Were in the Marvel Universe, Who Would You Be?” quizzes and lists, but if I had a superpower, I’d want to be able to close my eyes, hold your hands, and show you a memory. I have all these amazing memories and with the 5th anniversary of his loss coming up, I’ll write another blog with some of those. But, God!, what I wouldn’t give to be able to show you.
Hear the music, feel the wind, feel the joy, see the laughter. How much would you really love to be able to do that?