In regards to my knee

Some of you (All of you?) know that I’ve been having trouble with my knee. It’s not super interesting, but in case you were wondering, here’s the scoop on that.

Back in January, I stood up from the sofa to shut the blinds on the window and my knee wouldn’t support my weight and I fell over. I don’t remember now if there was pain in my knee before that point or not, but I know for sure that there was after that point.

We went to my chiropractor in the morning to see if he could do anything about it and he adjusted it so I wasn’t in so much pain and I was mostly able to walk on it again and I put an athletic brace on it and walked with a cane when it was really painful and iced when it hurt and didn’t do much walking on it and hoped that it would stop hurting and get back to normal. Because hey! The human body is AMAZING and will heal things that are damaged. It’s amazing to think about it sometimes: Things that are alive can heal from injury!

Um, except that in my case it wasn’t working. I thought it was, but if I walked too much or tried to exercise, the pain would come back, with swelling and not being able to walk without pain. It was getting really frustrating. When I decided that I was going to cut back on my hours at work, I also decided to start doing things to improve my health, mentally and physically, so I went to yoga and I couldn’t do it! I mean, I could, but I HURT the day following, which was ridiculous. The yoga wasn’t that hard.

So I went to my usual doctor, PA Lovato, and talked with her about it and she said that I should get an MRI and see what was happening inside my knee. So then I went to get an MRI, which was interesting. They had me lay on this table thing and take a very still nap for about 20 minutes while the big camera computer machine beeped and buzzed and made a whole heap of noise, making it hard to take my nap. And then they gave me a CD of the results and sent me away. A day or two later, my doctor got a report that said that nothing was torn or broken, but that there was swelling. Which we all knew already just from looking at my knee.

So my doctor, not able to see anything wrong, said I should see an orthopedic surgeon and get that person’s opinion. So I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Hoffman, a highly recommended doctor in Savannah, and waited a few weeks for that appointment. Meanwhile, I went to see Kamaka, my massage therapist and she recommended that I see Stuart Fife, a physical therapist in town who she and the chiropractor she works with always recommend. So I went to see him and he put these little sensors on my legs above my knees and below my knees and on my feet and had me walk on a treadmill to do an evaluation of my gait. And he said that I walk with my legs at an inward angle of 10 – 15 degrees, which is a lot, and that if I strengthened the muscles in my hips and butt, then it would be greatly improved and solve my knee and my back pain and reduce the risk of tearing my ACL (I think).

So I went home with exercises that I haven’t been doing because they’re painful and frustrating, but I know I should be doing because I paid a lot of money for that evaluation and I should heed good advice when I get some.

Then I went to my appointment with Dr. Hoffman, who took an x-ray for no good reason and then looked at my MRI and said that I have a small tear in my meniscus that should be healing on it’s own except that the swelling is so much that it’s not. So he gave me a shot of a steroid in my knee, I’m assuming it’s cortisone because it’s always cortisone, and said if it’s still hurting in 4 weeks, come back and he’s got a surgical option he could do, but we’d both rather not have to do that.

And since the shot, it’s been so much better! I’m still wearing the brace as I start increasing my use of my knee. I’m going on walks and NOT BEING PAINFUL and it’s the first time it’s happened since January! I’ll get back to doing the exercises recommended by Stuart and that will, hopefully, take care of the whole problem. I’m hoping to be back to doing my aerobic videos by July, which is good because I’ve gained back more weight since November than I’d like.

So that’s that! That’s what happening with my knee.

Quarterly update (part 2) – talking about my mammogram

Okay, in the last post, I made it through talking about when Justin’s family is leaving and talking about Jessi’s graduation. Today, I’m going to talk about my boobs a lot, so if that makes you uncomfortable, come back another day.

SPOILER ALERT: It’s NOT cancer.

Okay, the Friday before graduation, I had a mammogram. I went in for my yearly physical a few weeks ago and while I was there, I mentioned to my doctor (she’s a PA, but I call her my doctor anyway) that I’d found a lump . . . in the place where lots of women find problematic lumps. (Are we all women reading? I’m not sure. I’ll be delicate-ish.) I was concerned, but not “Oh my gosh I’m going to die of cancer” because it HURT. I mean, it woke me up from a dead sleep like someone had stabbed me in the chest and it had been throbby-achy since then. And from what I’d been reading, if it’s cancer, it doesn’t hurt. So, yea! probably not cancer, but not yea! because it hurt. Anyway, she examined it and said I should get a mammogram to get a better idea of what was going on.

I went through a whole heap of trouble to make sure that the place I went was actually covered by my insurance, and got an appointment to go in. I was covered for a mammogram and an ultrasound and got my pre-authorization for a biopsy, if one was needed. Which we all hoped wouldn’t be necessary.

I won’t go into too much detail about the whole hows of the appointment (if you’re curious, call me and I’ll tell you all about it), but the gist of it is that they did end up doing both the mammogram and the ultrasound because that sucker is about the size of a ping-pong ball, and the mammogram tech, after saying “Oh, gosh! I can feel that!” said that they usually do want to ultrasound something that size, and she was right.

The ultrasound tech, after reassuring me that it’s really not that big compared to other problematic lumps she’s seen, told me that it’s a cyst. I have what’s called fibrocystic breasts, but I already kind of knew that. Back when I was in Toccoa, the doctor I was seeing there was concerned about what the doctor here called “lumpy bumpy breasts” and had me get a mammogram. It came back normal then, too. I just have lumpy boobs. But this is the first time that they actually got all angry and flared up.

So it’s nothing to be terribly concerned about. The doctor who looked over my ultrasound emphasized that I really absolutely must do breast exams every month and this scared me enough that I’m absolutely going to do that. I’ve always been kind of “Eh, it’s been a while, better check.” But I’m going to get regular on those because it was really scary not knowing for sure if I should be more concerned.

I’m still waiting to see if this cyst is going to calm down or if I’m going to need to do something about it. The doctor said that it’s got about 33% chance of staying the same, getting worse, or going away. So now I’m waiting to see if I want to go in and have it drained or if it’ll go away on it’s own.

So yeah. There’s that. Do regular self exams, everybody. They’re important.

My summer fitness post

Well, since it seems like every other woman in my family (Mom, Erica, Amy, & Krista) are all writing about their plans to lose weight over the summer, I might as well write about how things are looking for me on that end. :)

Peer pressure: It works on adults, too.

OK, so earlier this month (May 9), I had a doctor appointment with a new doctor. I’d been getting frustrated with the doctor I had been seeing and the doctor who Justin’s been seeing is really nice, so I swapped over to her. She’s technically not actually a doctor but a physician’s assistant or whatever, but it doesn’t matter to us, we think she’s awesome. She’s a very curious-natured woman, so when she hears about things, she wants to get to the root of what’s going on instead of just treating symptoms. This is exactly what we want in a doctor.

The week before the appointment, I had some fasting labs, and on the 9th we went over the results. Everything looks pretty okay, except my weight is obviously high, my cholesterol numbers are a little outside where they should be, and my TSH numbers were a little over what they should be. None of those things really indicate anything on their own, but all put together, it could be that my thyroid isn’t functioning like it should be — basically, TSH tells the thyroid to work and high numbers of TSH mean that the thyroid isn’t listening as well as it should be.

She ran more lab work to test to see if there’s something else going on that could be effecting the TSH numbers, apparently there are some autoimmune problems that could be impacting things. Those all came back as not being a problem, so we’ re back to just seeing a test with high TSH numbers.

Now, since I don’t seem to be experiencing the symptoms of hypothyroidism, it might just be a weird day for my blood levels. On the other hand, it might be a sign of problems on the way. So I have an appointment set up for 6 months from now and we’ll check the levels again at that time.

Until then, my homework is to see how much weight I can lose before then. If I can’t get the weight off, then it’s possible something really is wrong with my endocrine system. If I can get the weight off, then my cholesterol levels should do better and it’ll be healthier for me all around.

So, it’s time for me to try to lose some weight.

I’m starting this out by mostly trying to be more active. I sit around a lot at work and then I come home and sit around a lot at home. So I talked with Mom and we figured out a short workout that I can do in the morning before I get ready for work. I only have a short amount of time, so it’s only a 15-minute workout, but I am usually sweating by the end of it. And it really helps me feel more awake in the mornings. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have been, honestly. But I feel really good about taking time to work up a sweat right away in the morning.

In addition to that, I make sure to find some sort of exercise to do after I get home from work. Mondays, I have a yoga class at work. Tuesdays, I do a video online by Jillian Michaels. Thanks to our Amazon Prime account, I get to watch it without buying it. Also, I’m starting to understand this love/hate thing people have for Ms Michaels. I’m *beat* by the end of that 40-minute video, but I feel really good about myself. The rest of the week, depending on how things are looking, Justin and I might go for a bike ride or swimming at the pool (he does laps, I run in place and do other things like jumping jacks and stuff). I tried going rollerblading last week and it didn’t last very long. I only fell down once, but it was HARD on the muscles in my low-back and outer-thighs. I’ll have to work on that one more, but I might wait until I’ve got more abs-strength.

Mostly, though, I’m making sure I do something almost every day to get my heart-rate up because I’ve found that more than any other muscle in my body, my heart is the one struggling the most. I have to keep close watch on my heart rate because it will ZOOM up there like crazy. I can’t do jumping burpees, for example, because it takes about 2 of those before my heart is ready to bust out of my chest.

Of course, my shoulders and my abs are right behind it, wanting to give up, but I’m working on those, too. And everything is starting to improve, in the 2 weeks that I’ve been doing this so far.

I have managed to lose a couple pounds, just with increasing my exercise activities, so I feel pretty good that my thyroid is working okay so far. I’m curious to see what the results say in 6 months, but I’m not terribly worried at this point.

And I know that exercise is only half of the weigh-loss coin; the other half being changing my diet. I haven’t gotten very far on that side of things, other than trying to be mindful about my eating habits. My biggest problem is portion sizes, more than snacking. While I do eat things that I know I shouldn’t, most of the time I can avoid snacks. But when I sit down to eat dinner, I put more on my plate than I should. So until I get to a point where I’m not losing weight just by exercising, I’m not doing any structured plans for my eating, but working to increase my fruit and vegetable intake and reduce . . . everything else, pretty much. Not REMOVE, just reduce. If half of my plate is covered in salad, there’s not much space for anything else. And that’s the way it should be, I figure.

And I know when I mess up on that, like with the cake at the bridal shower at work on Thursday, I’m going to have to pay for it later, like with a 10-mile bike ride and several hours of yard work.

Anyway, that’s how this whole thing  is going with me. I guess I’m on board for the 15-pound loss by the reunion. When is the beginning date for that, by the way? Maybe we can open up a thread for that on the forum on Erica’s site? We could also start planning for what we’re going to do that weekend, too!

Learning about muscle groups!

I’ve been pulling out the aerobic videos that I haven’t played for a while. Mostly, I haven’t played them because I’ve been lazy, but now that I’m really working at losing weight again, I’m pulling them out for a little variety in my exercises.

Besides the primary impressions of “Holy cow, this didn’t used to be so hard!”, which I expected somewhat and has a lot to do with my cardiovascular stamina (it sucks), I’m discovering muscles that I didn’t think we quite so weak but are really SUPER weak.

Besides things like abdominal muscles and the corresponding back muscles, I discovered today for sure that my weakest muscles are the ones that move my legs laterally away from my hips. You know?

image-2373

This one. I can’t do this stupid exercise. Well, okay. I can do about five or six of these in a row. And then I have to stop. And deal with the muscles being all “What the heck was THAT?!” In my little bit of research, I’ve have to say it’s my tensor fasciae latae muscles!

So now I have to start doing these every day, along with the crunches and the toe lifts and hip stretches and shoulder stretches.

If you’ve got any recommendations on how I can work these muscles, I’d love to hear them!

Stupid bugs

And the weirdness continues! This morning as I was heading out the door to go to work, I noticed that I had an itch along my right flank. I scrached and noticed that it felt like I had a couple bug bites. It wasn’t at an easy angle to check and I was running late, so I ignored it and left.

A short time ago, I went into the ladies restroom here at work and took a look. I have 8 large bug bites down that side of me. I called Justin to see if maybe he saw a dead bug in bed when he made it this morning, but no dice. So I have no idea what this thing is or where it went. But I don’t like it.