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December 10th

Is it “just me” or has the world been filled with terrible news stories lately?

I’m doing my best to avoid all types of news media because my heart can’t bear to hear one more story about guns and mass killings.

And, I would be extremely happy to never, ever, hear the name of the TV show host who decided to run for President this year.

(I can’t bring myself to even type his name, but you know who.)

For that matter, I’d prefer not to hear about any of the politicians.

Sigh!

My calendar tells me Christmas Eve is in fourteen days.

I don’t have a tree, I haven’t decorated anything, and I’m not remotely on track for the holidays.

I keep adding things to my “to do” list, and it’s now several pages long.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to take things OFF my to do list.

Also?

I’m going to be out of town for three of the remaining fourteen days.

I have one “free” day between now and Christmas so *everything* will have to get done on that day.

Yikes!

This will be Fred’s first Christmas.

(He was an infant-pup and still with his dog-mom last Christmas.)

I wonder what he’ll think of a Christmas tree?

It could be a disaster.

I guess I’ll find out fairly soon?

I know he’ll love having my kids home to play with him.

Today, I’m spending my morning with Paul Newman.

Paul Newman is, and has to be, a priority in my life.

In fact, he is the biggest priority in my life right now.

(Thank goodness I have him to help me.)

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My Arm is Still Connected to my Body

I didn’t want to write another post about my arm, but I feel like I can’t leave everyone *just wondering* either.

I’ll Follow Your Lead – Pelicans in Flight at Sunset (Laguna Beach)

My doc reviewed the MRIs with me yesterday and there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is I won’t be having surgery (at this time), because he doesn’t think there’s anything surgery could fix.

(Well, that’s not exactly true because for quite awhile he’s said I need one more shoulder surgery.)

But, in relation to this most recent incident – there’s nothing that can be done surgically.

It’s very GOOD news to not be scheduling a surgery.

He thinks I’ve experienced a mid-muscle tricep tear which is a “leave it alone” type of thing.

He also thinks I might have some small tears at the point where the tricep tendon attaches to the elbow, but the tendon is still attached.

(My elbow hurts and it never has before.)

In other words, the big hole on the back of my arm is there to stay.

It might even get bigger because he thinks the tissue in the surrounding area is dying.

I don’t really understand WHY, but suffice it to say, my arm has been traumatized more than it likes.

Also, I’m pretty sure “tissue” is another word for fat.

I guess you could say, in addition to everything else, I’ve ripped a hole in my fat?  (But not in my skin.)

And now it’s making surrounding fat die?

(Next up, I need to find a way to injure my a$$ and hope it also makes all the surrounding tissue/fat die??)

For now, Paul Newman will help me survive the next few weeks.

The latest trauma to my arm will (hopefully), eventually calm down pain-wise.

???

I sure hope it hurries up because right now it’s too painful to use my arm for even the small stuff I used to be able to use it for.

However, I realized many years ago there is no rushing ANYTHING with my arm.

I’ll do what I can with my left hand/arm/shoulder.

Everything else will have to wait.

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The Weekend …

I hope everyone had a nice weekend.

I tried to give in and rest my arm all weekend; it seems to be a little less painful ….

But, only if I do absolutely nothing with it.

Still – it’s an improvement, and even small improvements are good things.

I did make one trip out to a couple stores on Sunday.

There were a few gifts I wanted to pick up.

I hate shopping, but there are some items I don’t like to purchase online.

I took a deep breath and jumped right into the total chaos of Orange County December Weekend Shopping.

(!!!!!)

I managed to get in and out of two entire stores as fast as possible and not use my arm at all.

Small victories?

I’m meeting with my doc this morning.

I then plan to *not think about my arm* for the remainder of the week.

I know that won’t be entirely possible since it’s still attached to my body and sends pain signals to my brain on a regular basis.

But, I have a lot to do this week so I will do my best to do it all of those things left handed.

I’ll use every ounce of mental energy I can muster to block out the very existence of my right arm.

I’d like to get another “Favorite Things” post up for you this week, but no promises.

I’m taking things one day at a time right now.

I’m REALLY looking forward to an upcoming trip to L.A.

I have so many things I want to do in the L.A. area, and yet it will only be a quick visit.

How much can I cram into a very short time?

By the way, I thought you’d enjoy knowing Fred continues to be my loving and faithful companion.

I think he can sense when I’m in a lot of pain.

He’s been so loving and sweet and GENTLE with me.

Fred Head © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Fred the wonder dog!

I might be the luckiest person in the world to have Fred by my side?!

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MRI and MRI Again!

I had my first MRI (for the week) on Wednesday evening.

The first MRI was of my right (bum) shoulder.

I’ve been told the inside of my shoulder looks fairly similar to it’s usual post-a-zillion-surgeries self.

I guess it is a good thing nothing major has changed …

Well, except for the big indentation/gap/hole in my arm a couple inches below my shoulder.

“My hole,” as I now call it, was visible in MRI #1, but difficult to understand.

I had my second MRI (for the week) last night.

The second MRI was to take a look at the rest (the non-shoulder-parts) of my “bad” arm.

I also had a visit with Paul Newman on Thursday.

Someone needs to give that man an award.

Not only is he an awesome physical therapist, but he’s also a great (unpaid!) shrink.

“No Suzanne, most people don’t grow holes in their arms, but it will make you more special!”

(And then I, immediately, felt much better about myself.)

There were also countless phone calls and text messages to and from my doc over the past few days.

In other words,

I don’t want to hear about how you’re all done shopping for the holidays because my entire life is consumed with medical crap right now.

(But that doesn’t mean I’m not silently stressing about the holidays!  Fa la la la la!!)

Now that the medical insurance hassles are done.

And, the MRIs are done.

I will (hopefully?) have some time to get my life back to sort-of-normal.

I’ll be seeing my doc next week to review MRI results, etc.

In the meantime …

I’m behind on absolutely everything else in my life.

Maybe I’ll be able to catch up a little over the weekend?

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And The Beat Goes On?

I’ve been lost in the limbo of insurance land.

It’s now been over two weeks since my bum arm tore/ripped/ruptured/detached.

And, still I wait.

Any minute now (??) I should get insurance approval for the two MRIs I will need to figure out what is going on.

I wonder how many people die, for avoidable medical reasons, each year while waiting on their insurance companies?

Not that my situation is nearly that dire, I’m just in PAIN and have loss of FUNCTION.

I’ve spent countless hours talking to medical/insurance people who need to talk to people the last few days.

Meanwhile, I think maybe the pain has deceased a little?

Or, more likely, I’ve just learned to sit very still, breathe softly, and not move at all for days at a time.

(And yet, I’m SO tired.  Pain is brutal.  It just zaps away energy at an alarming rate.)

I’ve learned if the gaping hole in my arm is the result of a muscle tear/rupture nothing can be done.

“Muscle can’t be sewn,” said my doctor.

I asked if it will heal on its own and he said, “It might scar-in a little bit.”

If *something* has detached … there’s a *possibility* (??) it can be reattached … with, of course, a questionable outcome.

Apparently there’s a major, scary, nerve right in the way?

It sounds like I’m screwed either way?

And so, I wait.

I think about all sorts of things.

If nothing can be done, will the pain decrease over time?

Can I find ways to “manage” given the complete useless state of my arm?

Will there be a way to take photos again?

Do I need to hire someone to complete Fred’s training for me?

Will my trip to New Zealand be impacted –

Either by surgery.

Or by pain.

Or by an inability to photograph all the things I was going to New Zealand to photograph.

????

How will I get through the rest of 2015 … with all of the holiday things to do?

I’ve also learned there are orthopedic doctors who *specialize* in trauma to the arm/shoulder/upper extremities.

They’re trained to repair body parts which have exploded due to car accidents, gunshots, and other horrible things.

I love my orthopedic surgeon.

I’ve known him forever.

But, maybe I should also consult with an orthopedic arm trauma specialist?

Maybe someone like that will have seen/treated something similar to the disaster that is my arm?

Who knew a specialty like that even existed?

But, maybe it isn’t even necessary.

One day at a time, right?

First, I need my insurance company to get the MRIs approved so I know what I’m dealing with.

Deep breath … and a sigh.

Patience.

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Post-Thanksgiving Update

I hope my U.S.A. readers all had a nice Thanksgiving weekend.

I loved having all three of my kids home …!

But, as many of you already read last week,

My right arm is in crisis mode right now –  pretty much completely incapacitated.

My kids cooked everything for Thanksgiving with guidance, and one-handed (non-dominant hand) help from me.

Fred Looking at Turkey © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Fred kept an eye on the turkey in case it decided to fly away.

I saw Dr. Painless last Tuesday.

He was floored when he saw my arm … it’s kind of creepy to have a big hole/dent/indentation in a body part that isn’t supposed to have one.

He gave me some super serious (!!) pain drugs and a very important hug.

I really needed both.

(I think I sobbed from pain about five times Tuesday prior to seeing him.)

I’m waiting for MRI approval from my insurance company.

It has been held up because the insurance company has a question for my orthopedic surgeon, and he didn’t call them back prior to the Thanksgiving weekend.

Hopefully, that will be taken care of today so I can get a better understanding of what’s wrong and what –

If anything, can be done to help me heal.

And, that’s the big two-part question really …

Is it a giant muscle tear?  Or rupture?  Or partial (or total) detachment?

And, once I know the answer to the WHAT IS IT? question ….

I need to know IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CAN BE DONE GIVEN THE STATE OF MY ALREADY DAMAGED ARM?

The waiting is the hardest part?

It was nice to have family here to distract me a little from the fear, the pain, etc.

We went to see the new James Bond movie on Friday.

We saw it at one of those fancy theaters with reclining seats, seat-side beverage/food service, etc.

It was a nice treat having all my kids together to go to the movies.

Later that night, we had a spur of the moment mini-party at my house.

It was fun, but I have to admit I was more subdued than normal due to my high pain level.

On Saturday, we watched some football midday.

Fred By Couch © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Fred keeps my son company during a football broadcast.

Later, I took my kids on a short hike to one of my favorite haunts.

We brought wine, cheese, crackers, and Fred.

It was beautiful watching the sun set into the ocean.

Sunset Explosion © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Catalina Island stands out clearly to the right of the setting sun.

I tried to take a few photos using my left arm for the weight bearing of my camera as I always do.

My right arm was only needed to bend at the elbow so my right index finger could press the shutter.

And …?

I was able to take a couple shots but it was painful and things weren’t working right in my arm.

I don’t really know how to explain, but it’s like I don’t have control over my arm at all right now.

The intense pain from trying was a clear signal to stop and desist.

So, with great sadness, I did exactly that.

By midday on Sunday, my kids had all departed.

I spent my afternoon researching orthopedic surgeons, detached and torn deltoids, and other fun things like that.

I guess I need to find out what, exactly, is wrong before I can try and find a doctor who has a lot of experience in fixing it?

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And, It’s Almost Thanksgiving

I don’t know where time goes, but it just POOF! disappears.

I have some family here now, and more arriving today, and more arriving tomorrow.

I’ll be super busy through the end of Thanksgiving weekend.

AND I’M VERY THANKFUL MY FAMILY WILL BE HERE!!

Beautiful Southern California Sunset

My arm is bad and there’s really not much more to say.

If I do *anything* it hurts MORE.

The hole (??) in my arm seems to be getting bigger which is not good.

It’s very freaky to have a giant hole in my arm.

I’m visiting with Dr. Painless today, but I don’t expect there’s much he can do without drugging me into oblivion.

I don’t want that, of course.

I want to be PRESENT, and aware, and alert while my family is here.

(He’ll probably give me a shot in the a$$ of non-narcotic drugs.)

I have all the groceries here now for a huge Thanksgiving feast …

I sure hope everybody in my family feels like cooking?

If not, I guess I’ll just open a bunch of wine.

In any case, I plan on having the best time I possibly can while everyone’s here.

In addition to The Big Dinner, I hope to get our whole group out to a movie – maybe James Bond?

And do some hiking along the bluffs!

And, and, and …!

I might be downing entire bottles of Advil?

I probably won’t be blogging much, if at all, the next few days.

(I will if I get some quiet time, but that probably isn’t very likely?)

If you’re celebrating,

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Update …

The blog will be down much of the weekend due to maintenance by my provider.

But, I wanted to post a brief update because I know many of you are (very kindly) concerned about me after reading today’s earlier post.

I don’t know if you will even see this until Monday?

My orthopedic surgeon examined my arm Friday morning and agreed it definitely has a hole in it.

He thinks the deltoid muscle has torn and the rest of my arm is a bit beat up too.

He wants me to get an MRI, and I probably will be doing that after my family has left …

I’ll have people here for the next week.

A tear can heal by itself if it isn’t too horrible and if everything is still attached.

Without an MRI we don’t know how bad it is and/or whether it’s fully attached or not.

(Having a visible hole in my arm isn’t a great sign though.)

Healing without surgery would, of course,  be the best case scenario.

But, even then, it takes a long timesix weeks to four months depending on the tear.

I’m, obviously, pretty bummed out.

I know it does no good to be upset about things you can’t change,

But I’d be lying if I said I was anything other than depressed about this.

(Being in a lot of pain doesn’t help the situation.)

However, I’m very grateful I’ve got a strong medical support team.

If I’m going to have to go through MORE,

It’s good to know I’ve got great people to help me through whatever I have to deal with.

I’m not sure what my blogging schedule will be over the next week.

Family visiting, holidays, pain meds, etc. …

But, if I get a chance to post I will.

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Don’t Be Devastated??

I got some bad news yesterday.

I’ve been told I should *not* feel devastated until more information is gathered.

So, I’m pretending to not be upset even though I can feel a black cloud looming overhead.

My arm has been exceptionally bad for about a week and a half.

For several years, my bum arm has been fine from the elbow down.

And my right HAND has always worked fine.

But, over the last ten days I’ve been in a lot of pain and not able to do anything with my right arm.

Holding something very light in my right hand has become impossible.

It has been “new” pain and “different” pain.

And yes, there really is a whole rainbow assortment of TYPES OF PAIN.

Yesterday, at physical therapy, Paul Newman discovered a very unnatural HOLE in my arm.

The hole is covered by skin, but instead of a normal smooth arm there is a sudden, significant, HOLE right under my skin.

Paul Newman was alarmed because he knows every bit of my arm as well (or better) than I do.

The hole in my arm is NEW.

(Yes, you heard that right, Paul Newman discovered and explored my mystery hole yesterday.)

There could be more than one explanation for the hole in my arm, but none of them are good.

I’m meeting with my orthopedic surgeon this morning to get his opinion on this new (bad) development.

(He’s totally awesome and is seeing me right away!)

It’s very possible I have torn and/or ruptured “something” in my bum arm.

How would I do this?

Well, since my arm has many non-working parts, the working parts of my arm have to compensate for the non-working ones.

The working parts of my arm are, therefore, under a lot of constant/ongoing stress due to overuse.

I ask the working parts to work HARD and to do things they are not designed to do.

If I have a muscle and/or tendon tear/rupture it’s most likely inoperable.

That means ….?

I *might* be like this forever …?

I *might* have lost the little bit of use of my arm/hand I had …?

I don’t want to even consider the possibility of this new/different/higher level of pain being permanent.

Of COURSE this had to happen the day before my family begins arriving for Thanksgiving.

Paul Newman is trying to talk me off the ledge by telling me I need to talk to my surgeon before flipping out.

My surgeon is trying to talk me off the ledge by seeing me quickly, and telling me there could be more than one cause for this new calamity.

My family is trying to talk me off the ledge by offering to help cook for Thanksgiving.

I might know more after seeing my orthopedic surgeon this morning.

Or he might want to schedule an MRI before he gives his opinion?

Regardless, I’ll let you know once I learn more.

In the meantime,

I’m chanting quietly, “Do not cry, do not cry, do not cry!”

I can get through anything, right?

**  Twenty Four At Heart will be down for maintenance, off and on, over the weekend.  **

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More Favorite Things

I’m sharing more of my favorite gift ideas today.

•  For the housebound — If you have someone in your life who is confined to bed or their home, consider sending them a cheerful holiday bouquet.  It will brighten their immediate surroundings, and spirits, at the same time.  Many times, people who are ill or too frail to leave home are stuck in dreary surroundings.  Florists can do amazing things this time of year … tabletop Christmas trees, poinsettias, etc.  The recipient will be grateful and they will think of you every time they look at it.

•  Jigsaw Puzzles — Jigsaw puzzles come in a huge variety of designs these days … and in a large range of difficulty.  With El Nino expected soon, people will be looking for more indoor activities.  Who can resist a puzzle once it’s been dumped from its box onto a tabletop?  Do you think you could complete this candy wrapper puzzle?  Puzzles are fun, inexpensive, and a great gift for both an individual and/or as a family gift.

candy

•  Clarisonic Facial Cleansing Brushes/Systems  —  Clarisonic now makes a variety of facial cleansing systems.  (And, many companies have come out with Clarisonic knock offs.)  This is the type of thing a lot of people would hesitate spending money on to buy themselves.  But …?  That’s the very thing that makes it a great gift.  I love using my Clarisonic.  It gets my skin so much cleaner than using a washcloth.  (The key to using a Clarisonic is to let it glide over your skin and NOT to use pressure to push it into your skin.)  It also helps your skin absorb whatever skincare products you use after cleansing.  Who doesn’t appreciate a good skincare tool?

clari

•  A framed photo  —  A framed photo is a great, inexpensive, very meaningful, gift.  You can’t go wrong with a silver frame.  Add in a photo of a shared memory, or a loved family member, or pet, and you’ve got a great gift.

frame

•  Kate Spade anything  —  Kate Spade is very popular right now, and with good reason.  Almost everything she designs is adorable, pretty, useful, or all of the above.  Depending on your gift budget, you might select a Kate Spade coffee mug for someone on your gift list.  If you’ve got a big budget, go for one of the very popular Kate Spade handbags.

KSMug

ksbag

•  North Face Etip Gloves  —  North Face makes excellent cold weather products.  Even in Southern California, we occasionally have reason to wear gloves.  I love these Etip gloves because they allow you to use your electronic devices without removing them.  They’re available for both men and women.

etip

•  Fitbit Zip  —  Who doesn’t want to get healthy after indulging during the holidays?  I’ve mentioned the Fitbit Zip before.  It’s a great gift for men or women.  I like the small size.  You can tuck it in a pocket, bra, purse and/or clip it to your pants.  Sure, the bigger tracking devices like the bracelets can “do” more, but it seems like most people tire of wearing them after awhile.  I still like the zip!  Are you getting the recommended 10,000 steps each day?

fitbit

And that’s it for today.

If you have any additional ideas, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!