Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Brace Yourself

I gathered up enough courage to see an orthotist.

No, no, not an orthotist for shoe inserts (although, that wouldn't be a bad idea). Shoe orthotics are actually only one type of orthotics. A trained orthotist addresses all sorts of support and bracing needs -- from compression socks designed especially for diabetics, to neck braces and foot braces.

I saw an orthotist to see if a shoulder brace would be helpful. I'm currently doing my physio exercises and being mindful of not hyperextending my left shoulder, but it's not helping enough - I'm still getting a fair amount of numbness and weakness in my left hand after a long day of doing nothing in particular with my arms. I currently tape up my shoulder to limit its range of motion when I know I'll be doing yardwork or carrying things, but it's cumbersome and I get weird skin rashes and blisters from the tape. Well, the almost-doc (he's in training, and consulted with the experience doc on staff) said that what I really need is an entirely new shoulder, but that they don't make those. Ha. Thanks. Also, that the braces they do have would only be helpful if I want to immobilize my shoulder completely. I may need that in the future, he said, but that it's probably not helpful right now.

I also asked about my left knee. I wanted to know if it really is as unstable as I perceive it to be, or if I can correct that with more physio and targetted exercises. The orthotist said it shouldn't be anywhere near as unstable as it is, and that my kneecap shouldn't float around. He lent me a knee brace to try out for a few weeksto see if it helps. If it does, then I can consider investing in one. So far, I definitely feel better with it when I'm bending and moving around. Moving chairs and tables at work, and going up and down stairs was much more comfortable and sturdier. It also helps me keep from bending my knee backwards when I walk, which seems to be helping my back pain at night. I can't be certain, though, and I still don't know if it'll be worth it.

While struggling to pull the knee brace on, I also asked the orthotist about my fingers. And I watched his jaw drop, before he asked me to stop what I was doing. Okay. Then I tried again to pull the knee brace on, and he watched my fingers, and then hurried out of the room to, I suppose, talk to the guy in charge. I waited a few minutes, bending my knee, and enjoying the stability. And I worried.

The orthotist (in training) returned, apologized, and asked to examine my fingers. He asked what I specifically had problems with. I showed him how my fingers bend too far, apparently, and make it really difficult to hold a pencil and write for more than a few minutes without pain. I showed him how I hold cutlery, and how it's difficult to cut things with a knife. He examined my fingers again, and then left the room, again. Upon his return, he smiled and said that he could most certainly make me a custom finger splint to help me keep my index finger from hyperextending. Huzzah! And that I most certainly need one. I asked about the other fingers, but as this custom brace will likely run about $75, I probably won't be able to get them for more than one finger. Yikes. He said I definitely need them for all of my fingers, though, and when I showed him my toes, he cringed and asked if I had any way of seeing my rhuematologist earlier than planned. Smooth, guy. Really smooth. Heh. He was nice, though, and I felt better after seeing him.

But, that's good news. A: That I wasn't crazy about the hyperextensions, and B: that I will likely be able to find a solution for my index finger. Woot.

I have another appointment next week. I'm going to bring some information on Oval-8 finger splints, as well as silver ring splints (which are waaaaaaaaay out of my price range) to give him an idea of what's available. I don't really want to be his engineering guinea pig if I don't have to.

So, that's the update. I have a chiro appointment tomorrow morning, which is overdue, after subluxing some ribs a few weeks back. All of the dog walking I've been doing though has been strengthening my legs and my core, and I've even built up my lower back muscles to straighten out the excessive curve in my lower back, so I haven't been having as many problems with that. Yay!

I'll be dog-sitting for the next week, which is exciting. It'll test out if I'm up for fostering dogs in the fall. I hope so! I better hide the knee brace so the loaner dog doesn't eat it. Heh.

I hope you're all doing well and conquering your fears too. Asking for help is certainly scary, but it also shows just how strong you are. Or, so I believe.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

one step at a time

I've been missing you, blog. I have. In many ways, as the polysemy of the word missing could indicate.

I've not only been absent, which has become more usual than I'd like it to, but I've also been writing posts in my head. While dog walking, mostly, but it's tricky enough to calmly stay alert and in charge of a few canines while writing in my head, much less writing on a computer or a piece of paper.

So, I have posts, but I don't have them here. One step at a time, I suppose.

I've been taking many things one step at a time.

I'm getting stronger, one step at a time, by doing my physio exercises, being conscious of my posture, and listening to my body. I rest when I need to rest, but certainly not one second before. I have pain, sure, but it's nice to feel the pain from muscles as they develop and strengthen instead of just the pain from tendons and joints stretching farther than they should.

I'm setting up the apartment, one step at a time. I've acquired and painted a dresser for my partner to use. That'll give him the resources needed to unpack.. just in time for us to move again in August. Oh well. I've also acquired a great wingback armchar, hung a few pictures, and set up the record player. My partner has been setting up the study (also known as the second bedroom, minus a bed). It's mostly his domain, as he uses it as an office the mornings, working at the desk, while I sleep in. It also houses his collection of images of sacred spaces along with half of our large book collection. The apartment isn't ready for a housewarming party yet, but it's coming along.

And the moving thing.. I'm coming to terms with it. I researched family doctors and health cooperatives and found some that are accepting new patients. I still need to find a rheumatologist in the area, but I've found a geneticist. And I'm confident that we'll find an apartment and make do. Acquire more used furniture. Paint it. Put away our books. Walk the dog. Worry about the future. Life will continue.

I just wish I were a little steadier on my feet.
Thursday, June 2, 2011

I got eggs today, as well as a job. Part II

Okay, well, I didn't get eggs this time, but I did use eggs to make bread. And I did get a job. Hurrah!

It's a summer posting at that lovely 114-year-old turreted building that I already know and love. I'll still be wardening, (cleaning, readying rooms for events, being a teeny tiny security guard) but I'll also be planning and implementing programs to get people to enjoy the space, especially the lawn. I have a few ideas that I'm pretty excited about. I'm absolutely thrilled that I'm able to spend all summer at a job that I am passionate about, and with coworkers who feel like family. Plus, I can continue to bring the pup to work, as long as she helps and isn't in the way. Silly dachshund. She's getting more confident, which is lovely, but it also means that I have to be sterner with her. Growing is fun.

Speaking of growing, I'll be planting my seedlings in a friend's garden tomorrow. We started them a few weeks ago, and most of them are doing well. The beans and squash are begging to be given more room, and the tomatoes definitely need some more space. The spinach sprouted early but has been touch-and-go since then. I'm not too sure about it. The peppers and basil are surprisingly coming into their own, as well. Yay!

My partner has moved in, and my (ex-)roomie has moved out. Our place is still pretty messy, as we don't have nearly enough bookcases or dressers. It'll be a good excuse for me to go through all of my clothes and other items to see what I can sell or give away before packing to move to Vancougar for September. Also, it'll be an interesting social experiment, of sorts, as I've never lived with a partner before. I've done some chores around the house - laundry, cleaning, baking - and have unpacked what I'm able to, and even moved the bed into the master bedroom. I hope it's enough to show that I care about our shared space, but that I don't want to dominate it. I know it's difficult enough moving into a space that someone already inhabits, without having to navigate heartstrings and such as well. Eep. I shall have my fingers crossed.

I hope you all are doing well, readers. I still feel like the good things that happen to me aren't real. Do you ever feel like that, like things are too good to be true?

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