Archive | July, 2014

Pain Scale

22 Jul

Have you heard of the pain scale? When you report to your doctor that you have pain, he/she will usually ask you this question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever had, how would you rate your current pain?” If you’re a person with XLH in the U.S.A., you’re probably familiar with the pain scale.

Professorgrrl says that whenever her father went to the doctor about some new pain he was having, and the doc asked him to rate it on a scale of 1-10, he always said 10, so that he’d get the most help available. He believed he wouldn’t get enough help or medication if he only gave it a 5 or a 6.

My understanding of that pain scale is that I am supposed to compare my present pain with the worst pain (a #10) I have ever felt. My grandmother once told me that childbirth was the worst pain she had ever felt. It was so bad, she thought she would die. I asked her why she went on to have three more children after that first time, knowing full well it was going to hurt. “You forget how bad it was, ” she said.

I clearly remember my worst pains. I’ve never given birth, so I guess I’ve had it easy, but my #10’s haven’t been forgettable.

1980’s- I had to have a dye injected under my left kneecap so that the orthopedic doc could get a better idea of what was wrong with my knee. Mercy, that hurt. I probably teared up for that. I’m pretty sure the needle was the diameter of a pencil.

1990’s- I had an abscessed front tooth. I wanted to die. No pain meds helped and one of them made me very sick on top of that. A bad few days. Really bad.

Last week: I had a diagnostic mammogram (or “slammogram” as I like to call them). I had one of these last December too but I think the technician last week had a sadistic streak. The more calcifications and density you have in your breasts (my sister is convinced I’m mummifying) then the more “technique” they apply with those machines. I am not lying–they actually used the phrase “apply more technique.” Lady, you apply makeup; what you did to me last week was to torque down on that gear knob. I get to have another one in six months. Woo hoo.

Yesterday: I picked up the water hose sprayer to go fill up the bird bath. Between my hand and the sprayer was a hornet or wasp or some other evil pollinator. I am shocked at how much that sting hurt! I yelled while applying ice and baking soda. My beagle was afraid of me because of the racket I made, yelling, cursing and stomping my feet. It still hurts! It only feels bruised today, but wow, I am stunned that a creature that tiny could hurt me (a level 10 pain) like that for a full 10 minutes, and then still hurt the next day. Thankfully, it was only 10 minutes of #10 pain, unlike childbirth.

That is my list of level 10 pains on the pain scale, those pains by which all my other pains are measured. Thinking about those #10’s, my other regular daily pains don’t seem so bad today.

How about you? What are your #10’s? Besides childbirth, of course.

 

Sage Bumble Bee
The bumble bee doesn’t seem to be very aggressive. Probably not the perpetrator from yesterday.
Honey Bee
The sweet little honey bee. The first time I ever got stung was by a honey bee. I was about 3 or 4 years old, and picking flowers to give my mother. The bee sting really put a damper on that experience. But for her, I’d pick flowers again.
Invader
A wasp, mooching off the hummingbird feeder. Very high on the suspect list, in my opinion. Grrr…
Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

My Inspiration

21 Jul

Those of you who read my blog who have XLH know that our bones “act” older than we really are. Sometimes I feel like I’m aging at warp speed–not all the time, but sometimes. Of course, we’re all getting older if we’re fortunate enough to still be breathing. One of my dogs, Deacon the Jack Russell Terrier, has been a true inspiration for me in the last year. He’s an old guy–almost 14 years old by my estimation–and he inspires me every day. He is the most determined creature I know when it comes to carrying on with the daily routine of living. He makes sure he gets his walk and his food at the time he is supposed to get them. I can set my clock by him. If I try to stray outside the routine, he makes sure to get me back on track.

He is a rescue dog; his “owners” abandoned him in 2002 and he managed to “find” me. He was heartworm-positive and needed two rounds of treatment to recover. He also smelled so bad when I first took him in, that he had to sleep outside in a crate on the deck for the first night or two until whatever he had been eating off the streets had made its way out of his system. A bath could not rid him of his foul odor. I had another Jack Russell Terrier at the time, Pogo, who ruled the house (and me) and Deacon’s personality never really came out until Pogo died 2009. I discovered that Deacon had his own distinct personality and is very smart. Prior to that, I had my doubts. He lived in Pogo’s shadow. Come to think of it, I also lived in Pogo’s shadow!

Within the last year, I have been inspired by Deacon and how he deals with aging. It’s not always a graceful aging process with him–sometimes, he starts up the back steps and missteps and rolls back down–but he gets up, determined to make it back up. On those days when he’s moving slower than usual, he will ask for help. So, here’s my series of photos I have taken within the last year that I’ll call “Everything I ever learned about aging, I learned from Deacon.”

#1 Be open to new adventures, even if it involves riding in the back seat of a car.

Deacon riding in the car

 

 

#2 If possible, take time to sit outside in the sunshine.

Deacon

 

#3 Observe the world around you. God’s creation can still amaze us, even when we’re older. Maybe we can’t see it or smell it as well as we used to, but we can still be amazed. And, of course, be on the lookout for squirrels.

Deacon on the alert

 

#4 Some days, you’re just going to feel like crap. Be extra good to yourself on those days, maybe even throw on your party beads and wrap yourself up in a cheerful blanket.

Deacon in his finest

 

#5 Try to make new friends, even if they’re very different from you. It might take some time, and you may want to chase them away at first, but you might end up liking them more than you thought you would!

Deacon meets the neighbor's cat

 

#6 Accept offers of assistance. (This one is really hard for me!) Sometimes, we just need a little help getting up those steps, or reaching things on the top shelf at the grocery store or picking up something we’ve dropped. Let someone help you. It might make their day!

Deacon and his assistant

 

 

#7 Take naps. Aging can be tiring. Also, there is nothing wrong with having a favorite blanket, if that helps you to take a good nap.

Deacon and his blanket

 

 

#8 Relax. Try to get rid of the things in life that cause you tension. Meditate or pray. Take time to just be still and perhaps get a new perspective.

Deacon rests

 

 

I love this little guy. I hope he will continue to mentor me through the aging process for a little while longer!

 

Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

 

Elbows

3 Jul

Fireworks

 

Tomorrow is July 4th in the United States of America. Which, in this moment, makes me think of my elbows. I know. Crazy.

I have recently discovered that one of the many places that the joints of an XLH-er calcifies with age is in the elbows. I had noticed some pain in my elbows, and noticed that they pop and crack a lot and that they didn’t quite hang straight.

At the Yale study, when I was examined by the doctor, he said this is one of the typical places that tend to get affected by our disorder. He had me extend my arms, and noted that they didn’t completely straighten out.

When I returned home, I also took note that I also could not completely bend them, either. In fact, I discovered that I could not touch my shoulders with my hands (like in the children’s song, “Head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.”) For a couple of weeks, I asked my friends, who are my age and older, if they could touch their shoulders. They could. I even asked my parents, who are in their upper 70’s, if they could touch their shoulders. They could. So, I realized this isn’t just an “old person thing.”

My physical therapist friend told me to keep trying. Stretch them, extend them, bend them, and keep moving them and try to get them to do what they’re supposed to do. So, I’ve been practicing. Stretching, moving, bending. I have seen some improvement! I can now touch my right thumb to my right shoulder and I can touch my left thumbnail to my left shoulder. I’ve been practicing this every day. That may be the most I’ll ever be able to do, but, I certainly don’t want to lose more ground.

And, tomorrow, on July 4th, I will put my right elbow to good use. I am one of those old-fashioned people who celebrate July 4th in an old-fashioned way. I will go to a baseball game in my town (minor league), stand up for the National Anthem and place my right hand (arm bent at the elbow) over my heart and listen to the anthem being sung. I still remember doing that as a child in school, and the “habit” has never left me. I hope I never lose the ability to do that.

Flag in the mirror

I live in an imperfect country, with many problems but we also have a lot of good things going for us. I have the freedom to sit in my house and blog and write about whatever I want to. I complain about the health care system sometimes, but it is, at least, available to me. I am able to participate in a drug research study at Yale University because the National Institute of Health, which is a government organization, is supportive of Yale doing this study.

We are not perfect here in the U.S.A. Relative to the rest of the world, we’re some of the newer kids on the block. And when I look back to my youth, I see that I made a lot of mistakes. Hopefully, I have learned from them. I hope that the U.S.A. keeps trying to learn from her mistakes.

And, I hope that we keep doing the good things that we’re trying to do, too. In light of that hope, tomorrow night I will place my arthritic right hand (bent at the sore, stiff elbow) over my heart and listen to the singer sing the National Anthem. I will get a little teary, like I usually do, count my many blessings, which are many, and wait for the next explosion of words to come out of the sound system.

“PLAY BALL!”

Play ball!

 

Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2014. All Rights Reserved.