A long restless night

Darn that almost-to-be supermoon. Its bright light made me think it was morning and it is barely 2 a.m. Jolted awake by hip pain, I was hoping it was almost time to get up and start my day.  Instead, I am faced with some long anxiety-filled hours before the alarm clock is due to ring. It has been a while since I have been up at this hour in pain, but in the past few weeks this scenario has become a regular occurrence.

At this late hour, I am scared, hurting and my mind is having trouble being positive. If you have read some of my recent posts, you know that I have been dealing with recurring hip pain, and that I had an x-ray that showed a possible pelvic stress fracture. However, the  orthopedic surgeon I saw wants me to have an MRI to rule out a few other things rather than simply dismissing my troubles to the probable stress fracture. One of the main reasons he suggested this is because my hips had been hurting a lot at night which could be a red flag for some more serious conditions. The orthopedist said that if my pain happened to ease up significantly before the MRI date, I could actually cancel the appointment. Unfortunately, the pain is not mellowing — it is getting worse.

I try really hard to not be one who dwells on the what ifs, but sometimes expecting that of myself is downright unrealistic. After all, my body hasn’t exactly proven itself trustworthy in that regard. So what is the big fear that has me hanging out in my recliner in the wee hours with a mug of Sleepytime Extra tea instead of snoozing blissfully in my bed? I am scared that I might have osteonecrosis. A major risk factor for this gem-of-a-condition (of which I am experiencing just about every symptom)  is a history of being on high doses of prednisone. I took up to 80 mg per dose when I was in the hospital during my final UC flare. My doctor assured me that the MRI that I am having this Monday is very good at picking up this disease and that he will let me know as soon as possible if anything shows up.

Until then, I am allowing myself the liberty to freak out a little. The results of my test will probably come back showing that everything is fine and that I am just dealing with a stress fracture. But in some strange way, ruminating over one possible worst case scenario at 2 a.m. on a Friday night is helping my brain cope with the uncertainty — because even in my mind’s wost imaginings, I can see glimmers of hope and the realization that I will be okay regardless of any struggles that lie ahead.

With that reassuring thought, I am going to head back to bed, armed with some mindfulness meditation exercises to help me relax and hopefully get some sleep.

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Drawing my way out of the doldrums

My first mainly sedentary week has been hard mentally. I wish so much that I could go for a hike or run, but just walking around the grocery store makes my hip throb with pain, so that is not going to be a reality any time soon. I went swimming at the gym and did an upper-body weight workout. Both of those activities went okay, but it feels like all the amazing  progress I made working out with my personal trainer is going to slip away.

When sadness and anxiety start to take over and I can’t deal with the stress using exercise, I often turn to my nature journal to lift my spirits. Somewhere in those moments when I am looking closely at the pattern of veins in a leaf, and my pen is moving over paper recording what I see, my mind finds peace. Expect to see many drawings in the weeks ahead!

 

Good news: no more crutches!

For the past three days, I have been nervously awaiting my appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to find out about the injury I mentioned in my last blog post. I am so used to going to the doctor for digestive- and colon-related issues. It felt a bit unsettling to go in for something entirely new like a bone problem. And I was even more anxious because the pain had gotten a little worse over the past couple of days. It had been especially intense at night — even keeping me awake for several hours.

At the clinic, the orthopedic surgeon looked at my x-rays and examined the area of my injury. He thought the stress fracture was small enough that I could ditch the crutches (unless I was having pain) and just take it easy. He said soon I could try some light exercise such as swimming or maybe easy biking, and to listen to my body and stop something if it causes any discomfort. However, because I have been experiencing the worsening pain at night, he wants me to get an MRI in 7-10 days to rule out a few things that could be more serious.

I was so ecstatic as I walked out of the doctor’s office sans crutches. I have a huge appreciation for those who have dealt with them for long periods of time. Using crutches is incredibly tiring, and it was difficult to rely on others to constantly carry my stuff or bring me things. It is next to impossible to have anything in your hands with crutches. My coworkers joked that they were going to get me a cowbell to ring every time I needed help. Thanks goodness I won’t be needing that.

Bye bye crutches!

So I am relieved with the circumstances for now and will cross my fingers that nothing strange shows up on the MRI. I know I will still have to cancel some activities in the upcoming month or so as I heal up, but I am confident that the plans I made for later in the summer will stay intact even if I have to tone them down a notch.

For this weekend, sitting in the grass with my sketchbook still sounds just about right.

A disappointing setback

In my last post I wrote: Sitting in the stadium on my 40th birthday, I realized that I still had no idea what was around the corner. Well, today I witnessed how true this statement indeed is.

In mid-March, I started to experience some mild hip pain. It came out of nowhere during one of my most sedentary weeks. I hadn’t been running or hiking much and had mainly been swimming, doing Zumba and doing the workouts my trainer had recommended. I had gone snowboarding a few days prior, but had not pushed it because it was icy and I did not want to fall. I really don’t remember if I took any tumbles on that day–if I did they were insignificant. I thought maybe I had just stressed a hip muscle doing side planks at the gym. In a few days the pain was gone and I did my 5K run. My hip was sore enough to limp after the race, but the next day the joint felt perfectly fine. I took it easy for the next six days doing one aerobics class, yoga, stretches, core work and light weights. The next weekend I was feeling good enough to go on a five-mile trail run, but found that my hip hurt again afterwards. Due to my history of prednisone use and the osteopenia it caused, I decided to schedule an appointment in a week’s time with my doctor to have the hip looked at. I just wanted to be sure nothing strange was going on. I had also been dealing with some knee pain in the opposite leg and figured I would get that looked at too.

In the week or so waiting for my appointment, the hip pain completely disappeared. I went for a mellow three-mile trail run with no soreness afterwards. In fact, thinking whatever had been bugging me had healed up, I even considered cancelling my appointment. As luck would have it, a really busy work load last week left me too exhausted to head to the gym much except for some short core and upper body workouts.

On Monday, I finally got in to see the doctor, and she decided to order some x-rays. At the time she thought it would be okay to stick with my workouts until the results came back the next day as long as I didn’t do anything crazy. I was actually heading to Zumba class when her call must have come in telling me the results of the x-ray. Due to a glitch in my cell phone service, the message she left did not show up on my phone. It was only when I got to work the next morning and saw messages on my work phone and then finally showing up on my cell phone that I got a panicked feeling. I knew if the x-rays had shown nothing, she would not be trying to reach me so many times.

My stomach knotted up as I dialed in to get the various messages. As I heard my doctor’s words, that knot traveled up into my throat and turned into a lump: the x-rays showed a pelvic fracture. She told me to get some crutches as soon as possible and to put no weight on my left leg until I could get in to see an orthopedist later in the week. I cringed when I thought of all the jumping I had done in Zumba the night before… and all the other workouts I had done in the weeks since the subtle pain had begun. And then the tears came as I thought of all the plans that this news so swiftly destroyed and all the progress it had immediately halted. I knew this injury would take a lot of time to heal. My mind raced to all the unknowns and I found myself swallowed by that familiar feeling of being overwhelmed.

As the day went on, I started to feel better once the shock of the situation wore off. My coworkers gave me hugs and made me tea to make me feel better. I called Doug and my Dad on the phone and they managed to cheer me up. I also found out more specifics from my doctor. The fracture is small. It is in the front of my pelvis near the symphysis pubis. Though I really won’t know anything until I see the orthopedist on Friday, from what I gather from the tiny amount of research I have done is that these injuries heal with rest and refraining from weighting the leg during the recovery time. Then there will likely be rehab exercises.

Already my mind is gearing up to get me through this. Now that the tears are out, it is reminding me of all the things I can do like draw, and write and watch the beauty around me even if while sitting under a tree instead of hiking down a trail. In my last post, I also wrote that uncertainty is okay. And you know what? It is. I will find the strength to get through this challenge just as I did during my healing period after ostomy surgery.