Monday, February 27, 2017

Week 7 - Shannon and Shoulder

I was 100% in surgery prep mode all week. I talked to my PT on Monday to get his opinion, which was what I expected - shoulder before my knee. He also talked me down, taking exception to my use of the word hellish to describe the shoulder surgery/PT, so that made me feel a bit better. My shoulder wasn't scheduled yet but I had everything set up for my knee so was just plowing ahead figuring a pre-op physical was a pre-op physical, right?

I had my physical scheduled in Wahoo for 8:00 Tuesday so had some extra time that morning and was playing online. Then I checked Facebook and had a shock. My friend Shannon from water aerobics, who had been fighting cancer for a year, had died. She had just been in the pool a month ago and I had no idea it had gone so bad. I was a mess after reading that but pulled myself together by the time I got to the clinic. The pre-op physical was a joke! They did do an EKG but otherwise it was BP, weight and history with the nurse and the PA only looked in my ears and nose and used the stethoscope on my chest. Had I not mentioned my PVC's (premature ventricular contractions), they wouldn't even have done the EKG. It was over so quickly that I called my hair dresser and she could fit me in right then so I drove over there and in 25 minutes was back on the road headed to work. Done and done.

I started Wednesday meeting with the shoulder surgeon and scheduling my surgery for two weeks out - March 2nd. I was having a different doctor do the surgery since mine didn't do arthroscopic and this one did. With my date in hand, I now had a target to get everything done.

My first step was to get a recliner. I drive right by a furniture store - Ernie's in Ceresco - every day so was whining about stopping there after work Thursday when Cindy came to my rescue. She not only suggested checking Craig's List but in 10 minutes had found me the perfect, rust crushed velvet beauty for $20. She also volunteered her truck to pick it up and deliver it and had the deal arranged before I left for work. Best 15 minute solution to a whine fest ever! And it all worked perfectly too.

Shannon's celebration of life was in Lincoln at 3:00 on Saturday and since Cindy had to be in south Lincoln for a hair appointment Saturday morning, we made plans to see a movie at noon, pick up the chair nearby and then head to Shannon's event. Cindy picked A Dog's Purpose and while it wasn't anything I'd ever see, how could I complain? I happily treated her and it was a fine movie, although a tear jerker so not the best for right before a funeral. 

The next stop was recliner pick up and this is what we saw when we turned the corner - the recliner was the only spot of color among the late winter drab of the neighborhood. The recliner was in fact ridiculously comfortable, as advertised. It was also advertised as being Dick Cheney's parent's chair, which we thought was a joke but it ended up being true. The seller grew up in Casper, Wyoming and his parents bought it from Dick's parents at their garage sale. My liberal ass would more than make up for any Dick juju on the chair. Maybe Dick's daughter's mojo had already cancelled his out. Whatever. We drove off with one more thing off my to do list.

It had been freakishly warm all week and Saturday was no exception. Shannon, who was very environmentally conscious, wouldn't not have approved but it was a lovely afternoon and celebration of life. I was in tears in my seat and could not believe that Gary, her husband, spoke as did her mom and sisters. I could never do that. It was standing room only and a perfect time to celebrate Shannon. We headed home, sad but happy somehow too. Cindy and I got the recliner into my front room without a problem. All in all, it was a good day.

I had a productive day on Sunday too, getting all my chores done and taking advantage of the warm weather to get some yard clean up done. I finally moved the 2 Christmas trees off of the deck and got the leaves swept off and added to the compost pile, leaving my deck ready for post-op knitting if it's warm enough anytime in March when I'm home. 

Progress is good. The shock was over and the planning well under way. Just 1.5 weeks more and I'd be having my shoulder fixed. My knee was rescheduled for early November (they said it was easier to reschedule, even far out, than cancel) and I was checking things off my pre-shoulder list. See? Progress. All good.

Week 6 - It's a Tear

The news of the week was the MRI. It was scheduled for first thing Tuesday morning and since I was going to be at the hospital, I rescheduled my knee academy, the half day required class before a knee replacement, for right afterwards. I'd have just enough time between them to get my blood draw done so I was doing that too. It all went swimmingly, including having enough time to eat a quick Noosa (my favorite yogurt - try it if you haven't) in the car since I'd fasted for the blood work just in case.

I was surprised by the knee class. They had told me I got the last spot but I was in fact the only person there so got all the attention. They actually start by showing you how much it will cost and asked if I wanted to pay up front. Not so much but it'll only be $1200 out of pocket. Not bad. Then after the video they showed me a model and I was shocked at how little they replace. I thought they'd be cutting my bones mid thigh and calf and reattaching muscles, tendons, etc. I was thrilled to see if was just a bit of the top of my thigh and calf bones with no cutting of anything except shaving a bit of bone. I went back to work with three things crossed off my list and feeling super positive about my knee replacement.

The phone rang Thursday afternoon and it all came crashing down. My rotator cuff was torn and my knee would have to wait. I held it together to gather all the gory details - a painful operation, 5-6 weeks with my shoulder in a brace, sleeping in a recliner and 4 months of PT. It was a total shock and I hung up and burst into tears at my desk. My co-workers were their usual supportive selves and someone narc'ed on me because Nora was at my desk in minutes. Of course I was totally guilt ridden with having to be out so long for my shoulder (even longer recuperation than the knee) and having to be out again for the knee once my shoulder was done. I was able to stop crying but was still in shock with way too much to absorb.

By Friday, I was mad. Of course the 2 month delay and required PT that Blue Cross demanded were what lead to this. The nurse told me that when my pain got much worse half way through the PT, that was probably when it tore but she also added that there was no proof so Blue Cross was covered. Despite the anger, I was able to start making plans. I didn't even have a date yet but knew it was coming.

The bright spot in the week was yet another birthday meal, this time at the new Greek cafe in Mead (a tiny town east of Wahoo) with Lori. We got a late start so Andrea was able to meet us after all and we had a lovely lunch with yummy dessert too. They gave me a gorgeous skein of orange sock yarn too. All fun and a nice change after a miserable week. Now to get the shoulder surgery scheduled.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Week 5 - Approval at Last!

I was going to make the title for this week My Eating Week because I celebrated my birthday all week by eating and eating and eating. But all that pales in comparison to getting my MRI approved FINALLY. Here’s that story.

I had another sleepless night so went to work Thursday tired and cranky, so of course I called Blue Cross. They’d had my appeal for 7 business days and despite having gotten a letter saying it would take 2 weeks, I decided to call. After voice mail hell and being on hold for 20 minutes, they told me it had been denied again. I asked them to email the info and took it down to Benefits. I was in tears within seconds, telling the director that I was at my wits end and asking what I could do. Long story short, she made waves somehow and got it approved. There were lame excuses galore, the best one being that my doctor hadn’t told them I was in PT, despite the fact that PT not working was the reason on the last appeal and it had 6 pages of PT reports attached. Whatever! Gayle called at 3:30 to say my MRI was approved at which point I burst into tears. But that was the beginning of a sea change and my luck was on the upswing.

After several emails and calls, I got a call Friday morning that there had been an MRI cancellation for Tuesday morning at 7:30 am. I was already scheduled for my Joint Academy (the 3 hour mandatory class for my knee replacement) for Tuesday afternoon so I called to see if they had a morning slot available and got the last one. With that rescheduled, I can now get the MRI, blood draw and class out of the way in one morning, which will only leave my pre-op physical. Time to get that scheduled in case they can fit me in for shoulder surgery sooner rather than later. I’m going with “it’s not a rotator cuff tear so quick surgery will work” and  have high hopes that the MRI will prove me right and I can get my shoulder fixed before me knee. Cross your fingers please.

All that said, it was my birthday week and the last week for one of the accountants so the eating was non-stop. We had a food day on Tuesday, I went to lunch with Dodie on Wednesday then dinner with Anne and Rene after swimming at The Piedmont Bistro, where the food was absolutely delicious. I will definitely be going back there. Thursday was lunch with the team (my official birthday lunch despite it being a day late) then a goodbye dinner after work for Jenny, the accountant who is leaving (our department, not UNL.) Last was lunch with Layton on Friday. By then I was desperate for some home cooking and done with eating out. I haven’t weighed myself but feel like I gained back every pound I lost of my last rotation. : (

There was one more meal out though – breakfast with Darla on Saturday morning. While I’ve been enjoying sleeping in on weekends, when I seem to be able to catch up on the sleep I lose because of my shoulder, I set my alarm and was in Lincoln by 8:00 because Darla face time is worth setting an alarm on a Saturday. We had a nice breakfast at Cook’s CafĂ©, talking long after the food was gone, then hit Big Lots, Joann’s and a junk shop before parting ways. I’d enjoyed the morning but was happy to be home before lunch so I had my afternoon to get busy.

I made a list recently of all the projects I need to get done before my surgery, with most of them centered on getting the spare room cleared out so Dottie, my sister who is coming for my first week home, can actually sleep in there. That room is my catch all so the bed is piled with stuff and there’s very little floor space showing. Oddly enough, going through the linen closet was step #1 because I had drawers full of extra linens in the spare bedroom that needed to be filled with stuff that’s currently on top of the bed. So I got the linens culled and reorganized Saturday afternoon, which gave me 2 empty drawers that I promptly loaded up. This left the top of the bed much clearer with just some clothes that need to be culled and put away. I even got a few of those off the bed before the weekend was over. I’ll do more of those this coming week.

Helen was coming over to hang out on Sunday afternoon so I got busy with chores on Sunday morning. It was relatively nice (above freezing) for February in Nebraska so I stripped my bed and changed my linens to my heavy winter ones and washed and hung the lighter comforter on the clothesline along with sheets and such. I cleaned out the refrigerator and delivered a huge bag of produce scraps to Lori’s chickens. At that point, I was ready for Helen, who arrived after 4:00. We chatted for hours and ate the sopapilla cheesecake she brought. More eating but worthy of every calorie. She left after 8:00 so real dinner wasn’t going to happen. I ate a Noosa and called it good. 

It had been a productive weekend and hope was in sight for my shoulder. How could I not call it a good week? The MRI approval was the icing on my birthday cake. And speaking of birthdays and junk food, get a load of the chocolate haul from all my friends. That will keep me in sweets while I’m home after my surgery. : )

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Week 4 - Finally Some Progress!

The week started with some good news. My uber whiny email to the doc last Thursday was the ammo they needed to submit an appeal (who knew?) and they called Monday to get info on my PT. The appeal was filed on Tuesday. They didn't mark it urgent, completely ignoring the specific wording I'd sent them from the Benefits Director, so I can only hope that it somehow makes it to the top of the pile. I got a letter saying it might take 2 weeks to review but at least there's hope. And get this, my friend Donna, who has the exact same UNL insurance, called her doc with a shoulder complaint, got an MRI approved and done 2 days later and is already scheduled for surgery. WTF! Some people have all the luck.

Otherwise, it was a busy week. I had training Tuesday and Thursday all afternoon, PT first thing Tuesday and last thing Thursday and was going to Jackie with friends after work Tuesday night. I was dieting but had decided popcorn for dinner was OK and Anne bought the popcorn while I was getting the tickets. It was huge! Did I act like an adult and leave some uneaten? Not a chance, which might be why I was up at 2:00 in gastric distress. I lost yet more sleep and was so exhausted Wednesday morning and had a hinky stomach so I called in sick. The thing that decided it, which I didn't feel great about, was the fact that it was snowing over a bed of ice so the drive would be treacherous. I got over the guilt and happily sat in my nightie knitting and watching it snow. The bland diet didn't get me down either and I was feeling better by day's end.

On the knitting front, despite having many projects OTN (on the needles), I went home Monday night and cast on another pair of socks. Then I went to Crafthouse, a new-ish yarn shop on the south side of Lincoln, with Anne at lunch on Tuesday to meet with them about knitting some sample socks for their shop. They accepted my offer and I got to choose a beautiful skein of sock yarn to make the socks, which will hang in the shop for awhile and then they're mine. So I cast those on too. So much for getting old projects finished. At least the Monday night pair went quickly and I finished them on Saturday, which is a personal record for me, and I love them. Too bad they're too small for me but I was using up a single skein so that limited the size. They'll go into the gift pile for now.

I started the weekend by going back to the pool. I had cleaned out my locker 2 weeks ago but just couldn't handle not swimming. I was getting lots of knitting done with the extra time but I was also becoming a noodle so I decided to get in the pool and just do what I could. There were definitely moves I couldn't do but I was moving in water and that was better than not. I've always loved starting the weekend swimming and it felt great to be back on track. I was showered and in veg clothes when I drove into my garage and I didn't leave the house all weekend. Bliss!

I had a lovely weekend with lots of knitting but just enough productivity to not feel guilty. I had most of my chores done before I went to bed Saturday, which left me Sunday to go through the last food cupboard and do some cooking. I had the cupboard emptied, vacuumed, washed and restocked by mid-afternoon so started cooking after a nice tea break. I had a 3 pound chub of hamburger so made 2 pounds of meatballs for an upcoming food day and a meatloaf, which mashed potatoes of course, for dinner. I also made PB&J bread pudding to take to knitting. The break week between rotations started Sunday so it was great to have some yummy food in the house. All in all, not a bad finish to the week.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Week 3 - The Melt Down

The world was still covered with a sheet of ice on Monday morning but it was MLK Day so I settled in for a lovely day of ignoring the weather and knitting away in my jammies. Nice. Then Lori told me UNL was cancelled on Tuesday and after quickly checked the website, I saw no classes and the pressure was off. I had intended to tackle a project but now had Tuesday. Until I got thinking mid-afternoon. Usually we get an email when work is cancelled so when I didn't see one, I checked the website again and saw that classes were cancelled but staff had to report. I didn't see this until 3:30 though so my day was toast. Bummer but at least I'd had a lovely and relaxing day.

The work week started with PT at 7:00 a.m., which means I have to be ready to leave for work from there. There's nothing normal about a PT morning but at least I got them to change the channel off Fox. I had to be up early Wednesday morning too because we were celebrating Cindy's birthday with breakfast before work at Bread and Cup. It was getting harder to get up each day because I was only sleeping 3 to 4 hours each night. By Thursday morning, I could barely get out of bed and by the time I had to leave for PT, it was clear I'd have to come back home before heading to work. Not good. Fox and Friends was on again so I complained to Cory, who's name is on the building and is the one who wants Fox according to the staff. I left in hopes that that might have done the trick but I was exhausted and running on empty.

I got to work and things did not go well. When I stopped to check in with Nora, she asked how I was doing and I completely lost it. I was in tears within seconds and poured my frustrations out. She was supportive, as usual, and I left with a mission. I sent an email to my doctor's office and felt some better. Nora had told me to go home but I just drank 2 huge diet cokes at lunch with Dodie and that got me through the day. 

Unfortunately I didn't sleep any better Thursday night so Friday was another tough day and I ate a bunch of crap, beginning with the donuts I brought that morning. Not good. The candy bar I ate mid-afternoon was the last straw and I felt like I was going to be sick so went back and forth to the ladies' room five or six time in my last hour but nothing. I boogied home, feeling like crap and just after 7:00, I puked my guts up and crawled into bed. It was well before my 9:00 earliest bedtime but I felt awful so called it good. I put on a patch and slept for 12 hours! Clearly I needed it and I felt almost normal on Saturday, getting most of my chores done so I'd have project time on Sunday.

I slept for 8 hours Saturday night so woke up feeling like a new woman on Sunday morning. After a morning knitting in the sun, I threw in a load of laundry and then got busy on my cupboards. I had stopped baking 2 years ago when I started dieting and all my baking supplies were bug infested and it had spread to the pasta. I pulled everything out of the cupboards, making about a dozen trips to the compost pile to empty my biggest Pyrex bowl over and over. Such a waste but it had to be done! After vacuuming and cleaning the cupboards with ammonia, I had everything back (much less because I also purged old canned goods while I was at it) and was ready to relax. It felt great to have everything back in order and was a good way to end a frustrating week. Now if I could only hear back from the doctor..... Wish me luck.

Week 2 - Ups and Downs

I started the week off with hope that the benefits director would hear back from Blue Cross and I’d get my MRI. Well, that didn’t happen. By the end of the day Monday, I’d heard that no exception could be made so I scheduled 2 PT sessions starting Wednesday at 7:00 am. If PT was required, I’d go to PT. Hoops? Yup, I’ll jump through them. Whatever it takes. The inability to sleep well is the true problem but lidocaine patches were still saving my butt on that front.

Monday also saw the last of the monthly reporting meetings and no one had signed up for my portal reporting class so I got to cancel that. My shoulder might be a mess but things were looking up at work. And I’d started a rotation so was eating healthy and felt better about that. I’m hoping to lose 20 pounds before my knee surgery. I’m trying to focus on what I can fix since I’m at the mercy of Blue Cross on my shoulder pain.

Wahoo was covered with a sheet of ice on Wednesday when I left the house for my first PT session. I couldn’t get up the slight hill on my street, ending up fishtailing into my neighbor’s driveway. I turned around and went down the hill and was able to get to PT, which wasn’t bad. As promised, they were being very low key so my session consisted of ultrasound (always soothing), massage (nothing wrong with that) then ice. It was more of the same Friday morning but this time I was out in the main room and had to suffer through Fox and Friends for the entire hour. I complained to anyone who would listen to no avail.

Friday night I did something that felt SO wrong - I cleaned out my locker at the pool. They'd told me at PT not to do anything that would hurt my shoulder, so I figured swimming was out. I've been going to water aerobics for ten years and the support is as important as the exercise. Maybe more. But I'd done the math and if I couldn't swim in January and had two, hopefully, surgeries on the horizon, I felt like it was time to quit and start up again in the summer. I cleaned out my locker and headed out, feeling dejected. 

There was an ice storm looming that would strand the entire Midwest inside over the long weekend but as the storm got closer, Nebraska was getting a reprieve. The ice wouldn’t start until overnight Saturday. With that in mind, the Monday Night Knitters got together Saturday afternoon at the new coffee shop in Wahoo and knitted the afternoon away. I then got busy that night and finished most of my chores. After a lovely and productive day, I put on a patch and slept for 10.5 hours! I haven’t slept that long in ages. Clearly I needed it.

By Sunday morning the world was iced over. The weather people said there wouldn’t be much wind so there was little chance of power outages so I blissfully knitted all day Sunday, making a headband for my cubie mate Lana with deliciously soft merino yarn. And it looked like Monday would be more of the same. No problem in my book so I went to bed Sunday happy and content. All good. Except the MRI thing but I’ll live. And try to be patient cuz I’m SO good at that. Ha!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Week 1 - Blue Cross Hell

Alas, Monday was the last day of break. Five days had gone by in a flash and while I hadn't been a total slug, I still had a huge to do list of things I hadn't gotten done. And that's what I did, making a huge dent and in one day, redeeming myself from total slackerdom. A day off and lots of things crossed off is a good way to start a week, even if it was the last day of break.

Tuesday was not a good day. First off, instead of starting the year with a productive day of doing monthly reports, which is incredibly satisfying btw, we spent most of the day in a workload planning meeting. We went through everything Nora and I do trying to find things we can offload to others or stop doing all together now that filling Josh's position wasn't going to happen. My six weeks off for my knee replacement steps this up a notch. But it was most of the day and there were more of these meetings scheduled every day all week. Sheesh!

Then when I got home, my doctor's office called to tell me that my pre-surgery MRI for my shoulder had been denied, even after a peer review! Despite the fact that I'm in constant pain from the bone spur that's irritating my rotator cuff, which leaves me struggling to sleep most nights, and have already had a super painful needle aspiration, they want me to do a month of PT before they'll OK the MRI. Now I need the surgery NOW so that my shoulder is completely recovered by March 9th, when my knee replacement is happening. They aren't including that complication in their decision. Meanwhile I'm only able to sleep with a lidocaine patch on my shoulder and even that's not good sleep. Yet again, money trumps patient. Our system is so broken.

I tried for productivity, dropping my puked on coat for dry cleaning and stopping at Fresh Thyme for produce before work on Wednesday. And luckily after meeting for another huge chunk of time on Wednesday, the rest of the workload planning meetings for the week were cancelled so I was able to start on my reports, which Cheryl helped me with. Still it took the rest of my week and they weren't even 100% done by Friday at 5:00.

But I did end the week by talking to the benefits director about the ridiculous PT. I'd spoken to my doctor's office again and tried to plan out a month of PT and still getting my shoulder done before my knee. She called Blue Cross and gave me a ray of hope to end the week on. She'd hear back from them Monday so it was more waiting. Hopefully waiting though to head into the weekend.

It started with a rare Friday night social engagement - my water aerobics friend Cindy's retirement party. She had it in a downtown bar and it was lots of fun - good friends, yummy food and a DJ. While I didn't get up and dance, I had some fun rockin' out in my chair to some of my favorite songs. I've got 10 more years before I can retire. Jealous!

I had a Friends of the Library meeting at 9:30 Saturday and had actually done all the prepping, including a year in review treasurer's report, on Thursday night so wasn't slamming to get the reports done last minute. Very adult. I like starting a weekend at home with a Friends meeting, which gets me up and out and feels like a good start to the weekend. I ran some errands after the meeting then was home for the rest of the weekend.

Other than the usual chores, I spent Sunday prepping produce. I started the first of my 2 pre-surgery rotations on Sunday morning. I've gained 20 pounds since my sustained loss of 65 pounds and my intention is to lose them before March 9th. I can do it if I don't flake on these rotations, which I feel like I can do with the surgery hanging over me. After eating like a pig over the holidays, eating healthy food felt great so even 600 calories isn't going to dampen my enthusiasm. Wish me luck!