Friday, April 27, 2007

Moses supposes that I've got.... toeses.

The Unna Boot fun is never ending. Yesterday, I was dealing with the usual Boa Constrictor hugging my leg without considering that the boot was too tight. Once I was home and finally relaxing, I had some burning pain and tingling in my foot and a sensation of warmth. This worried me, so I felt the foot-not hot at all. I blogged and attempted sleep.

Attempt is the appropriate word. Sleep was fitful, with stabbing pains waking me at least 4 times. Finally, Ed woke me at 8am, and I honestly planned to call out for the whole day from work. Instead, I took the top most layer of the Unna Boot off once I realized that my foot was BLUE! Nice, huh? Called the store, spoke with the opening manager and told her I was going back to bed and to expect me around noon (after we conferred over the day's schedule).

I got to work around 12:15. She honestly didn't expect me to make it in and if not for me telling her how bad the night went, would have called me back to tell me not to come in. I guess I sounded like crap and she didn't even want to risk waking me.

It's a dichotomy-less movement and I notice the pain soooo much more (like right now, Vern Troyer is sticking his Mini Me switchblade into my calf). As long as I'm moving at work, and not standing in one place, the pain isn't nearly as bad or noticeable. One step forward, five steps back.

When I stop to analyze this, I am surprised at how one little thing can throw the body into pain of "Danger, Will Robinson" proportions. The circulation was cut off for several hours, and 16 hours later, the protesting continues. It shows its displeasure with the Unna Boot strangulation. I come away with knowledge that I will pass on at the next visit-be very careful when wrapping a patient's top layer of the boot to make sure it's not too tight to prevent an RSD flare.

I guess that's why the blog has so much minutiae of the healing process-perhaps it'll help someone else in this situation.

In the meantime, I sit and wonder if that second Vicodin is going to make a dent in the pain. It frustrates me that I'd tapered down so nicely, and here I am, with a script for 40 tabs since I told them I was doing well, and BOOM, this happens.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The foot, the job and everything

Today was yet another visit to the Vascular surgeon's office. While the initial plan was for Dr. J to take off the Unna Boot (see previous entry), he just got to look at the wounds instead. Dr. J looked at the wound for all of ten seconds and asked if we should put another boot put on. He was quite pleased with how they looked.

A few minutes later, we talked about the leg pain. He told me when he and Nurse M received their medical training, all indications were that Venous Stasis ulcer patients would not have pain from the ulcers. Their findings are contrary to this, that every patient they see with the ulcers has the pain, most categorize it as 'excruciating' and many fall into that RSD/CRPS spectrum.

In some respects, having a high pain threshhold is a good thing. Dr. J said something to that effect as he asked me a bunch of questions about my experiences with the ulcers and the pain. He figured if I'm saying I have pain, I HAVE PAIN! This is what happens when a surgeon does a procedure under local, boys and girls. The anesthesiologist told me he NEVER does them under local.

I told him that I've been able to taper the painkillers, except for the first day of an Unna Boot, but I can't even think of skipping the Lyrica. Then I described the pain, location and intensity. I offered my opinion that I completely fried those nerve endings when the ulcers were deep. He agrees. This isn't a good thing that we both think this way, but I am somewhat relieved that we d0. The ulcers will probably be gone in the next 4 to 6 weeks, but the pain? Not going anywhere, my friends. Lyrica or something like it will be part of the walking drugstore for a while.

Work. This Friday's paycheck is supposed to have raises, so of course, this means I got my review. It wasn't a surprise, even a little better than I expected, but still not what I like from myself. I am NOT happy unless I've got Exceeds Expectations across the board.

What DID happen that surprised me is that I was asked to swap departments with another manager. I'm slightly disappointed that I haven't been amazing and awesome in the department that I was in, but the one they're asking me to take on makes far more sense. I know a lot more about the product lines and won't have as much of a visual albatross around my neck. What I mean is that my store is known as the visual nightmare and my department was beyond nightmarish.

The reason for the change was a conversation I'd had with my boss last month about always working with the Visual yin to my Ops/Personnel yang. Felt good that she heard what I said-that I really want to build up that skill, but the department was far too much for a visual novice to get a handle on. All in all, it was a very encouraging review process. One more positive? They don't believe in salary caps, woohoo!

Finally, think some good thoughts for Ed. He interviewed Tuesday for a job that would make both of us very happy and improve the horrible financial situation we've been in. Two weeks of three 7p-7a shifts and one week of four 7p-7a shifts. I already talked to my job and they'll work around whatever needs I have. Cross your fingers, toes and whatever else you can!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Unna Boot + Water = WOW!

Lately, I've had to be a little creative in cleansing the old body. The Unna boot can't get wet, else it gets itchy and disintegrates, leaving white residue EVERYWHERE. So, I encase it in a couple of plastic bags formerly occupied by the Tampa Tribune, top that with a scrunchy and do some shower gymnastics to prevent water from entering the boot.

Today, I didn't do such a good job. For one, the boot Nurse M put on is about 2" higher than any of the other boots. This was to prevent any further pinching or rubbing of the mid calf(scar still there, btw). Two, the Tampa Tribune doesn't take into account that their subscribers actually USE the plastic bags for anything more than possibly picking up dog poop and may need the bag to be 2" taller. Finally, I was up much earlier than usual due to a 7:30 start time at work. I inaccurately placed scrunchy at the top of the two plastic baggies and as a result, water seeped into the boot.

Ed will tell you, I have very sensitive skin. I scratch and scratch and scratch. So this water caused a most uncomfortable sensation and once home from work, I tried to dry out the boot and relieve the itchiness by scratching.


This caused the six day old boot to accordian. Which means, when I tried to pull it back up, it wouldn't resume its shape prior to water infiltration and Suzanne's scratch session. What the heck, the boot typically has a lifespan of five days, I'll take it off and take a picture of the leg for Dr. J to see what it looked like had he taken it off on a Sunday afternoon at his office.

I am in awe of the power of the Unna Boot, folks. No, I won't ever be in the running for an ankle modeling job, but the healing properties of the boots cannot be denied. I now have two flat ulcers, one the size of my pinkie nail and the other the size of my thumbnail. Where they were nearly touching ulcers back in December, there's now a finger's width of fresh, somewhat healthy skin between them.

I am in the homestretch on this whole leg drama, and boy, it feels good. To celebrate, I think I'll head over to the inlaws and soak this wonderful looking leg in the pool!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I'm frustrated.

The leg is healing, slowly but surely. However, I'm getting grief at work for wearing my Crocs. Never mind the fact that I have a doctor's note for the Crocs.

If you google "Venous Stasis Ulcer", which is what I have, you will find that they typically are located on the inner ankle. There are even a few pictures out there if you are strong of stomach. However, any shoe I attempt to put on rubs against the ulcers. This is bad. It introduces friction and possible bacteria and slows down the already slow healing.

Apparently, I'm within the realm of normal on a first ulcer. Most heal within 40 to 120 days. Well, we're past that, but not by that much.

The bosses boss saw the Crocs and complained that they must go. I don't know if the doctor's note made it into the conversation. Somehow, I don't think it did. So I've spent the better part of two weeks trying to find shoes I can wear to work. Alas, there aren't any shoes that meet the criteria I need right now.

Left foot 8 1/2 E (and even wider when wearing the Unna Boot)
Right foot 8 A
Shoe must not rub against the wounds, directly behind and below the inner ankle bone. They cannot have open toes or open back. Comfort is also a must.

I don't know what to do. Do I call Human Resources and ask about going out on Disability? The way I see it, I am being told my shoes are unacceptable for working. This means they don't feel I can work until I am in shoes they deem appropriate. I shouldn't have to ask for a leave of absence, as I'm perfectly willing to work with a minor accomodation for my medical needs. Really, all I want is for them to recognize that these aren't permanent and are not hindering my ability to do my job-but it seems that if I push the issue, they'll be a pain in the tukkus.

If I go to HR, then my DM may end up mad that I didn't talk to her first. However, she sent my boss to me instead of asking me about the note in the first place.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I get the picture!

When two people complain that I haven't updated, out of a readership that numbers in the teens, well, I suppose I should give a reader's digest condensed update...

Easter-not a church day for us, but most of you know that. We decided to enjoy a family day over at Sea World. Lesson for the day was that I should suck it up and pay the ten bucks for the wheelchair. We didn't do too much, but the kids saw the Sharks (their can't miss) and played at Shamu's Happy Harbor. I convinced them to go up in the Sky Tower-the view was great. The best part of that was seeing the progress on the new water park, Aquatica. ( Talk about motivation for them to learn how to swim. Dinner was at Smokey Bones, and we all had a good day.

The inevitable leg update. The Unna Boot has a shelf life of five days, after which time there is seepage from the wounds. It's doing a great job of reducing the ulcers-they are now flat, with one the size of a dime and the other the size of a quarter. I spent way too much on a pair of shoes tonight to wear to work that won't rub those wounds, since work is insisting that I no longer wear the doctor prescribed Crocs! Oy.

Scout training continues. This time, I received training in something that benefits the whole pack: Safe Swim Defense. The next step is get a BSA lifeguard certification so the boys can go in the pool or water on a camping trip. Florida recogizes BSA certification the same as Red Cross Certs. That'll refresh enough that I can actually teach my boys beginning swimming.

The scout drama is at a low ebb. Two people are rather obvious in their disdain for me, but I'm not even giving them any indication that I recognize the snub. Stooopid. It's not like I haven't experienced that type of behavior from some of my own family members!

I did a happy dance last week in that I was able to wear a pair of shorts I haven't worn since living in Maryland. There are more shorts getting pulled out of the dressers and I picked up three pairs of pants this week in a new, smaller size!! Slow and steady, but the smile gets bigger as the waist gets smaller! Tonight, we ran into someone who hasn't seen me in a year and she commented on the weight loss, so I suppose it is getting obvious. Yay!

In laws pool is quite nice. I got to swim on Wednesday. Still kinda cold, but it reminded me of 6am swims at Freeport Rec. It'd do good to have a heater on that thing, but it's not my pool to do stuff like that. The time in the water worked wonders for the leg. Soon, it'll be hard to keep us away from their house. I suspect that was part of the plan.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

More laughter!

Bob just sent me this one, you will find it hilarious!

Go to Google. Select maps, then 'get directions'. Ask for directions from New York to London. Read down, but take note of step 23! ROTFL!

Take note, directions from LA to Tokyo aren't important.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Laughter as a medical vehicle...

Today, I visited Nurses M and D and had the Unna Ankle Boot (fashion statement that is NOT coming to a store near you) replaced with the full leg variety. The Suzanne modified boot was taken off and I lament to the wonderful nurses how I'm really bummed. The leg looks better, but I don't think I'm going to get my shot on America's Next Top Model.

The wounds have improved, but Nurse M is doubtful. She hasn't really seen them in a couple of months and heck, she thought those suckers would be long healed. This is me we're talking about, nothing ever goes as planned. I describe previous wound sizes and depth and she gets the idea to have Nurse D catalog the wounds for my file. I continue to joke "Hey, I'm getting my photo shoot? Which magazine will I be in?" Good fun. I suppose I should give them copies of the pictures that I won't put in the blog because I know some of you have weak stomachs and others of you, well, you'll use my leg for your master's thesis for a nursing degree!

My latest script for Hydrocodone was for 50 tabs. We talk about that. On Saturday, I got the brilliant idea to take one tab instead of two every six hours. It was not one of my smartest moves, trust me. There was lots of pain. I was told to try taking 2 tabs while working, but one for bed, or better yet, try working naproxen into the mix.

Okay, I'm game (aka STOOOPID). I was due for medication when I left the office, and I take one tablet. I return to work, very tired because I sat and did nothing for an hour and a half. The weariness continues and I come home, eat dinner and fall asleep on the couch at 9pm. I was due for meds at 10. Lately, I've been able to sleep through the night, provided I had a dose within 2 hours of bedtime. The conventional wisdom is that I'm not as active, I shouldn't need it. (We won't discuss that bedtime seems to be 2am because of the pain issues)

It's 2am. From about 11pm until 1am, I tossed and turned until I gave up and got up and took the meds. Considering how I felt, I went with two tablets.

So, in case you ever need an Unna Boot, the fashion police may like your variation on the Ugg Boot. It's not the best version for me. The boot compressess the leg to improve blood flow to promote healing. When you're Suzanne, and you have a defective valve, it causes more swelling in the mid calf area. The goal for me is to get the blood flowing up to the knee, where the circulatory system works well. Instead, I made it pool between my knee and mid calf. Perhaps this is why I had the RSD flare.

I also got to share my bad humor on another front. We went to visit Ed's mom and Jane Saturday. Their pool is very nice and ready to go-alas, no heater means its not quite warm enough for use. This didn't stop Ed and the boys from going in. The humor comes in the form of telling everyone that I was a Howard Jones song on Saturday. "You can dip your foot in the pool, but you can't have a swim" and "Unna Boot is to Blame".

If I didn't have a sense of humor, I think the family would be tired of all the crying I could do about this situation. However, it'd sure be nice to live without the RSD flares and trying to live without pain medications when its clear that my body needs them...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Coming soon to a town near you...

Remember how excited I was to find that Ikea would build in Orlando? I was excited to get some more Billy bookcases without driving 7 hours to Atlanta. Don't get me wrong, I want to see Atlanta, it's just that the logistics of purchasing items and trying to fit them in a Beetle with 4 occupants is comical. So driving over to Orlando, grabbing an item and perhaps some swedish meatballs and lingonberry sauce made me happy.

Ikea decided to make us happier. We'll be getting one in Tampa in 2009. In fact, I'll pass it most mornings on my way to work. It'll be close enough that if I want that meal for lunch, I can drive over, eat and come back in my alloted hour break.

There are things that Ikea is great for-the aforementioned Billy bookcases, for instance. However, after three moves, the dressers we have in our bedroom, all four of them, are falling apart. We'll be replacing them eventually-but with something else.

We may not buy much from them once they arrive, but it's nice to have the option.

We also are getting a Cheesecake Factory soon, but can someone please ask Pizzeria Uno and Dave and Busters to grace Tampa with their presence?