Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thankful....for Physical Therapy

I have recently started physical therapy for my left foot that had the bunionectomy. The main target of the surgery was my big toe or medically speaking the Great Toe. The bone was cut in two places. The toe doesn't bend. I was not able to wiggle my toes for two months.

In the past week I have been able to move the Great Toe a little bit. I hate having people touching my feet so that presented a challenge to my physical therapist. He encouraged me to touch the toe and showed me how to manipulate it at home. By doing some simple moves to the toe at home, I am able to relax enough for him to do what he needs to do during my therapy sessions.

Something that has been made very clear to me is how connected every single piece of the human body is. In the foot there are tendons and there is one main tendon that controls all five toes. Because my foot was wrapped and in a boot for eight weeks the tendon became tight and unable to move the toes. I also noticed that my ankle was extremely tight and my calf muscles were so tight my left leg felt like a wooden leg first thing in the morning. So part of my therapy is ham string exercises to relax the muscles.

I am thankful that we have excellent health insurance and that physical therapy is available to me. It can be uncomfortable and painful and at times, but I appreciate everything I am learning and thrilled to see my Great Toe wiggle a little bit.

What are you thankful for these days?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lessons Learned: Surgery/Tests/Procedures

When I was a kid I never had a broken bone or any type of surgery. I still have my tonsils and my appendix. I got married when I was about 24 years old and BAM! It started with needing my wisdom teeth out and then we were off and rolling.

The past couple of years has been particularly challenging with health issues. I broke my ankle in June 2015. In the summer of 2016 I had a sprained lisfranc ligament in the same foot I broke. Recurring pain in my right wrist became too much to bear and I had a slightly torn ligament that required surgery in February 2016. Pain in the right wrist continued off and on throughout the year and eventually I convinced the doctor that my pisiform bone needed to come out. I had the same bone removed from my left wrist in 2013. That surgery was scheduled for October 2016. Just prior to the second wrist surgery I was still having pain in my left foot. I went back to my foot doctor and he said, "Oh yeah. That's a bunion." "How do you fix a bunion?" I asked incredulously. I had an idea of what the answer was going to be. "Surgery," was the response.

That was a bit much for me to handle at the time. I told him I would come back after the wrist surgery when I was ready to deal with it. A few weeks after surgery I returned and had him examine my foot again. This time I was ready to hear what he had to say. I agreed to bunion surgery - a bunionectomy - for January 2017.

This photo was taken Feb 5. Just chillin' with one shoe on.

Three surgeries in 11 months. I am ready to be done with crutches, braces, walking boots, shower chair. I have learned a few things over the years and I thought I would share those with you. Perhaps this could be helpful for yourself or someone you care about who may be facing a health challenge this year.

  1. Wear comfy clothes to and from the hospital.
  2. Leave valuables at home - jewelry, phone, cash.
  3. Give your ID, insurance card, credit card to the person who will be driving you home.
  4. Follow pre-op/procedure directions. If you’re not allowed to drink or eat anything the day of - DON’T DO IT! Coffee is a beverage. You can skip one cup.

Questions to ask
  • What exactly will you be doing?
  • What is the desired/expected outcome?
  • Is this a fix, a temporary fix or you’re not sure?
  • What is expected recovery time?
  • What can I expect in strength of pain afterwards?
  • What are my limitations if any?
  • When can I expect to get back to normal routine?
  • What will my follow up schedule with you be?
  • Are there any side effects? If so, what are they?

Do you have any tips or questions to share? I would love to hear them.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

New Class for High School & College Students:Coping Skills 101

Coping Skills is something that seems to be drastically missing in the younger generation and in some of us older ones as well. Recently there have been threats against Jewish Community Centers across the country and acts of vandalism at two Jewish cemeteries. Friday, March 3rd the news broke that an arrest has been made in connection to some of the threats.

According to CNN the individual arrested is a 31 year old former reporter named Juan Thompson. His former employer fired him for creating fraudulent sources for stories. Mr. Thompson (and I use the title Mister lightly) made some of the threats in his ex-girlfriend's name and some were made in his own name. But he hadn't only made threats to Jewish Community Centers, he had also been harassing his ex-girlfriend after their break up last year.

Yeah, this guy has been harassing this woman and terrorizing his community for a few months. The day after the relationship ended, he allegedly sent an email that contained a fake news story to the ex's employer saying she had been arrested for drunk driving the night before. Yeah.

When and where and how did we lose, as humans, the ability to deal with disappointment? What happened to teaching at home and at school that if something doesn't go your way to suck it up? Teach our young people to look at a situation and assess it. Is there something I can do differently? (study harder, apologize, ask for help from a coach) Does this really affect me that much? (My team lost the championship but it doesn't mean I am a loser for life.) What can I learn from this? (Words do matter. Not everyone can come in first place.)

Over the past few years I have had seemingly back to back injuries and recoveries from surgeries. During one particular difficult time I was having anxiety attacks. The kind where i would get an overwhelming sense of  AAAHHHHHHHH, heart racing, breathing affected, feeling like something terrible was going to happen to me any moment. Fortunately, that period of time was brief for me, and I know there are millions of people who deal with it every single day. One thing my therapist taught me to say to myself to help me through those moments. I still use it today if I am facing a difficult situation: I have felt this way before and I survived it. I will survive this too.

For me it is a quick self-check and to assess the situation. Do I need to ask someone for help? Is there something to talk through? Do I need my medicine? I take deep breaths and say those two statements to myself and often I pray as well.

We all need to remind ourselves and each other that this terrible moment (a break up, job loss, injury) will indeed pass. Everything is temporary. I am not suggesting you minimize anyone's circumstance, but we need to help each other navigate the turbulent waters of life.

This guy could be facing felony charges. Threatening a religious center is a very serious crime. Harassment is a serious crime. Where was his self-check? I am sure he had heartbreak or disappoint before. How did he deal with that then? Where was his conscience to say "Dude, we've been here before. It's going to hurt like hell, but it will be okay."

Illegal immigrants don't scare me. ISIS or any other terrorist group doesn't scare me. Young people who have zero coping skills or self-awareness scare the hell out of me. We need to help each other navigate the turbulent waters of life. We need to offer a hand and remind each other, "You have felt this way before and survived. You will survive this too."

What are some of your tried and true coping tricks? I would love to hear them.