Would an Apple a Day Help?

Before I get started on this week’s blog entry, I’d like to announce a blessed event: three kittens, born Saturday morning. All have extra toes, and one has seven (!) toes on each front paw.


Also, I have a diagnosis: Kidney stone. Which is large and stuck, blocking my urethra and enlarging my kidney. Surgery is set for Thursday. At the rate I’m going on surgeries, I should just rent a room in med-surg and move in.

OK. On with it:

“What’s wrong with you?” Nancy asked when she called from Germany recently. “You turned 60 and started falling apart!”

Sadly, it’s true. It was just a little more than two years ago that I ruptured my Achilles tendon and started the downhill slide to a below-the-knee amputation last November. Now that we know what that whatever-it-is is that’s been causing me problems, maybe the fever I’ve had since early March will finally go away and my white cell count will get down to normal. And my platelet count, too. And whatever else my blood work shows is high.

Even though I now know what’s wrong, that doesn’t mean I get to stop with the medical appointments. You saw the bit about surgery in the second paragraph? In fact, yesterday I was only scheduled to see the hematologist/oncologist (h/o), but then he sent me to a urologist, who then sent me for x-rays. I stopped short of getting an EKG after that. I was tired, hungry, and grouchy.

I swear, if it weren’t for medical appointments, I’d have no social life at all. It seems that every day, I see somebody or have a test of some sort. A couple of weeks ago, I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy on Monday, a follow-up with the surgeon who amputated my leg on Wednesday, my regular appointment with my endocrinologist Thursday, and a visit my new h/o on Friday. Just so Tuesday wouldn’t feel left out, I went to the prosthetist to be cast for my permanent leg.

Last week was dentist on Monday, a CT scan Tuesday, and a double-whammy — my infectious disease doc and podiatrist — on Wednesday.

After that, I needed a rest!

Today I get to go give my permanent leg a try. Oh, and have an EKG as part of the preparation for surgery. I don’t know if I will leave with my leg or not. It depends on if it needs more work that can’t be done on the spot.

So did I tell you about firing a doctor after only one visit? It was my first h/o. See, I wanted Dr. A in the first place, but he’s retiring this summer so I got Dr. B. Who talked to me as if I were three years old and didn’t listen to me — even when he asked me questions. And didn’t want a follow-up visit for four weeks.

I called the practice manager. “I’m not going back to Dr. B,” I said. “I wanted Dr. A in the first place. Is there any way?”

“He’s retiring and we agreed he wouldn’t take any new patients so he wouldn’t get in the middle of something and leave,” she said.

“That’s fine,” I said. “Ask him if he’ll take me.” He took me. (So he knew me from my newspaper reporter days…) If not, I was prepared to go to another practice.

What a difference! We had a give-and-take discussion. No lectures from him. No interruptions and going on to the next question while I was in the middle of answering the previous one. I was treated as an equal with the brains to participate in my own care. Ahhhhh. Just the way I like it. And things sped up quite fast, too. In fact, it took less than two weeks to come up with the reason (I hope a kidney stone is all it is!). I’d still be waiting to see Dr. A again.

So I fired an h/o — and inadvertently added an infectious disease doc. How’d I do that? Darned if I know. I’m still trying to figure that one out!

There was some discussion in the beginning of calling in an infectious disease doc, and I have one I’ve used before. She gets her teeth into a problem and she won’t let go. Well, the last time I saw her, which was for the MRSA I picked up while dealing with the Achilles tendon debacle, she just suddenly stopped, saying she didn’t know what else to do. Huh?

So I called her office manager and asked if Doc would see me if an infectious disease doc were needed. That was it: Would she see me. I didn’t know if the previous deal was because of me or because of the doctor who was dealing with the tendon, etc.

Well, she called and said she wanted to see me. But the office manager didn’t know why. Did she just want to talk? What? I went to see her — and ended up as a patient.

As it turns out, the problem wasn’t with me (I learned from somebody else). Anyway, now I have to call her office and tell her I have a diagnosis.

Some appointments lead to other appointments. For example, I went to the dentist for a check-up and cleaning and found out I need to have some work done on a molar that he apparently will be unable to save. At the rate I’m going, I’ll have more bridges than Venice.

Thursday’s surgery will, of course, lead to follow-up visits. I still need to make an appointment with the dentist for that molar, but after I see how things go on Thursday. It’s time to see my rehab doc for injections for my osteoarthritis. Oh, and I need to make an appointment with the ophthalmologist for this month because I’m on a twice-a-year check-up with him because I have some background retinopathy. I think that’s it.

Maybe I should have gone to medical school after all.

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  • jim snell

    Holy mackeral and Holy Hannah; and i thought I had problems.

    Good luck Jan; and best wishes for better health for you and on days ahead.

  • Deb

    Maybe instead of redoing your bathroom you should just add a medical suite onto your house….
    Good luck with all of this!

  • Mary

    Let’s see now…..now that you are renting a room at the hospital, here are the extra’s you get.

    (1) Free dental care for the rest of your life.
    (2) Free 24/7 room service from any restaurant in town.
    (3) A stiff drink before any needles prick you, including meter readings
    (4) A wall size TV with head phones, sound proof room so you can yell and sing along with the shows and videos.
    (5) Roommate only if you want one.
    (6) PJ’s of your choice from Oprah’s favorite things.
    (7) Satin sheets changed daily, different color each day.
    (8) Carpeted, dining table, lots of chairs for visitors, free food and beverages for guests.
    (9) Daily visits from the local librarian with your favorite selections which are then yours to take home.
    (10) A visit from Jim Turner from dLife to add some laughs to your day.

  • Jan

    Deb, you may have a point. However, I’d still need an accessible bathroom!

    Jim, I’m really not having any problems. Well, maybe little things like I can drive, but I need somebody to get my scooter in and out. As far as the kidney stone is concerned, they only hurt when they’re being passed. Mine is just sitting there in my kidney, blocking my urethra. No pain.

    The surgeries are primarily from complications after repair of a ruptured Achilles tendon. Most people just have the tendon repaired and that’s it. I believe my problems originated with the screw in my heel bone to hold the tendon on while it reattached. I got an infection that prevented me from healing and the infection spread. I had a bone infection in my toe 11 years ago, from a pin put in my toe following surgery to correct a hammer toe. My body just doesn’t like metal in it — at least not in bones. If a doc wants to put metal in a bone in the future, I just need to put my one remaining foot down and refuse permission.

    Jan Chait

  • Sharey Travis

    Jan, you are amazing. All I can say is I think that all of my aches and pains are too much and they are nothing compared with what you and others are going through. Last time I went to my diabetes doctor he was happy with my A1C but my blood pressure is too high. So he doubled my meds and I have been trying to loose weight. My problem is that I know I don’t exercise enough but can’t seem to make myself do it. Hope that your surgery goes well on Thursday.

    Sharey Travis

  • Pauline Nawroth

    This sounds like me since I reached 80 years of age.
    However, My attitude has held up pretty good except for my balance. You would think I was riding 40 ft.
    waves without getting sea-sick.
    Being lonesome is my greatest problem. I outlived
    all my family and have no one close to me.

  • Patricia Pollard

    Jan, your calendar is as full as ours. It is a real relief to have a few days a month when we are not running to one dr. or another. Husband still works a few hours every day. I have my garden and house to tend. We are ten miles out in the country so there is no other female around to share stories with. I keep in touch with a dear friend from highschool via computer. And with the computer I can go visit anywhere I want, and not leave home. We have a dog and a cat. They provide plenty of joy for us.
    Know what you mean about going in to the dentist as I did for a cleaning and came out knowing there are four crowns and a filling needed. Going to sit in the chair once for three of the filings. I am fracturing my teeth. Stress, the dentist says. I have a tkr so before any procedure I take the antibiotic. Once taking it is better than going four times. I hope the fourth tooth and the filling will wait a bit longer. Reasonsable costs for crowns are gone….just like reasonable cost for anything. Left knee replacement comes up in July. Then I should be back to doing pretty well in another year or so after that. Soon as I can get up and outside with my walker I can at least see that my garden is watered. One thing I would like to know is where the “good balance” of my yesteryears has gone. I am not ready for a cane yet. In my mind that would. be like admitting defeat… or would it just make for doing something sensible?
    Well, anyways, the only way to go is to keep plugging along.

  • Diane

    I hope your surgery goes well, and that you will have better health in the future. I always enjoy reading your blog.
    Good Luck, and Take Care,

  • Jan

    Oh, I’m behind!

    If I added a medical suite to my house, I’d never get out! Going to the doctor has become my social life! haha

    Mary, you forgot to remember the hot stone massage.

    Pauline, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re lonesome. I had lunch with an 82-year-old friend the other day and asked her if she had any suggestions. One that stood out is “nobody is going to knock on your door and say ‘I want to be your friend.'” Are you able to get out? Can you do volunteer work of some kind? Do you have a hobby that could lead to being in company? (For example., the knitting shop here has “stitch and bitch” night. At another place, people get together to chat while knitting/crocheting blankets for needy babies, etc.) Maybe something as simple as playing BINGO could lead to some friendships. What ideas do you have of your own? I’m sure the dizziness is a problem. Is that when you walk? Have you looked into getting a mobility scooter?


  • Lorraine

    Hi Jan, I am kinda late on checking my mail. You always keep my spirits up with your sense of humour. Since an autoimune attacked me in Jan 2011 at 74 my social life is DR’s. Prednsone has affected my leg muscle so have nurmerous proplems. When I read your blog I can say this is nothing but to me it is a big pain in my tush, as I can only sit in a hard chair or I can’t get up. Enough of that. I will keep reading and see how your kidney stone made out.
    Shalom Lorraine

  • Jan

    Lorraine, don’t ever tell yourself that you shouldn’t feel bad about your problems because somebody else might have it worse. What you are experiencing is painful to you and you shouldn’t discount your feelings.

    I’m fine. I had a run of bad luck leading to an amputation, but I’ve never regretted having it. In fact, I feel a lot better now. The kidney stone was just icing on the cake! LOL Having the surgery was a good thing: I was miserable with a stent in my kidney, which made me head for the bathroom up to three times an hour.

    I sympathize with you on your inability to get out of a soft chair. I went through that for a long time after my amputation. I could get into the chair OK; I just couldn’t get out. After gaining some upper body strength, I’m now able to used my arms and my remaining leg to hop up onto my scooter. While I was running to the bathroom so often, I was pretty much confined to my scooter because I didn’t want to keep getting up and down. I didn’t believe the arthritis in my knee would be able to handle that many ups and downs.

    My therapist told me to sit on the edge of the chair seat, which is sturdier (and higher) than the rest of the cushion. I sit on the edge of the seat, put one hand on my scooter seat and the other on the chair’s armrest and hop right up (well, usually!).

    Also, try looking through here: http://tinyurl.com/3fh458t
    to see if there’s anything that can help you. I came across this when I was looking for some things to help Dad out. The furniture riser looks interesting and you could probably make your own with some blocks of wood.

    I hope you find a solution. I was downright depressed at being unable to sit in my office chair (I’m sitting in it now!) or to crawl into my recliner.

    Jan Chait