Saturday, March 31, 2012

WEGO Health - a blog challenge for April

Time to get some writing discipline around this Self-Help book.  Recently I visited a cool website by a blogger with diabetes who is also an art therapist. And I saw she was a member of this site: WEGO Health, a site for Health Activists. I took the quiz "Are you a Health Activist" and guess what? I qualify. But compared to most of the members of this site, my little blog is not a huge contribution to health activism.  I'm not clear that I can or will become a busier health activist, but I am outspoken and honest about my own experiences and my views on different aspects of healthcare and specific diseases/disorders.  So what I did do was to sign up for the Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge. I'll do my best to post each day for the month of April (not going to be the easiest, since it is a busy month for me).  I'll try and include personal experiences as well as information and resources I use to get me through my days in a healthier way. 

See below for the invitation to join me:

 Hey everyone - I just wanted to tell you about a new activity I'll be doing this April. The Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge hosted by WEGO Health. I will be writing a post a day for all 30 days. I hope you'll join me in writing every day about health. It's going to be a lot of fun and I'd love to see what you have to say about each of the topics, too. All you have to do to join is sign up here: and you'll be able to start posting once April rolls around. Looking forward to writing with you!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

On Blessings and Gratitude and other Stuff

So, for any Catholics or Protestants of the Apostolic brand - you all know we are in the middle of Lent.  Some number (2,3,5?) of years ago, I decided to do something proactive for Lent rather than giving up some vice or whatnot.  I made a commitment to a practice of gratitude. Although I've learned recently I'm actually more like Thomas Jefferson and the Deists of his age*, I still honor the Easter season. Because you don't really need to invoke the magic of a reincarnation of a man born of a virgin who is the son of God incarnate (it's the magical stuff I get stuck on), to appreciate the real live magic of renewal and rebirth that happens in the springtime. Look around you - aren't you amazed?!

Over the years. this time of year has become a "fully loaded" emotional time for me, and for our family in general.   Two times during Lent I've had a pregnancy I didn't think would make it through to a real live baby. The first time I was wrong, and after weeks on bed rest with threatened demise of the pregnancy (and  host of other problems!), Teen Wonder emerged - the survivor. The understated Tiger she will always be. Fighting because she knew what she wanted even though she didn't yet know what it was. So her. And I'm so grateful for that miracle. Three years later Teen Wonder's father and I divorced (well initiated the divorce) during Lent.  The second time I went through a difficult pregnancy during Lent, I was right, unfortunately, and I'm still struggling with that bad ending. Though a little less each year that goes by.  Then in 2005, our adoption of Wild Thing was finalized during this same season - amazing ride that was!  And that year Easter fell in between the court date in Kazakhstan and our "Family Day" of April 8th. That was the day we went to the Baby House as a family (Mr. Wonderful, Teen Wonder who was at that time just pre-teen Wonder, and I), and Wild Thing came away with us - leaving the only home he'd known in his 8 1/2 months to come and make a bigger family with us.  Teen Wonder and I thought we were so clever on the first anniversary of this Family Day when we coined it the "Roman Holiday". I'm not sure she even has ever seen the movie, but I explained it to her and we laughed and ever since that is what we celebrate. Roman Holiday to us - Family Day to everyone external to us. This year our Roman Holiday is on Easter Sunday, and Wild Thing is more curious about the whole then than ever before.

I suppose it is understandable, but my emotions are typically all over the map this time of year, and a practice of gratitude can keep things pointed in the right direction. The other direction isn't so great and I've gone there enough times now, I no longer need to visit that place. Recently I've expressed gratitude for my improving health here on this blog - for new drugs, believers in the power of healing, plastic surgeons who don't want to scar up my hands, technology that makes it harder for me to be a bad diabetic, friends and family who support me and really (really) care about me. I hope that comes through in my writing. All of this is really amazing to me - I feel incredibly lucky. I know that there are so many people out there with similar or worse health issues who don't have the resources or the support that I have and that is not fair or just. Still, I am so grateful I do have what I have.

Tonight I was reminded that in my very immediate community of friends and colleagues, there is another type 1 diabetic, 2 friends with Dupuytren's contracture in their hands, and another chronic sarcoid patient.  I believe this reminder helps me fulfill my New Year's resolution to not be so f@#*ing special - I am in fact surrounded by loving and sincere people who suffer the same as me, laugh at life the same as me, shrug away irritating symptoms and required lifestyle changes the same as me.

Yay! And I hope that every person suffering a chronic and/or debilitating disease can find the support they need in their community of friends and family. None of us will live forever - but we all deserve to live happily or at least surrounded by understanding, love and support.

I have that. And for that I am grateful. Personally, I belive that Jesus would be pretty happy with this much - no miracles required.

Today I am grateful that I am not all that special. And I'm grateful to live in such a terrific community (both home and professionally).  So, thanks!

*So I listened to a podcast on Thomas Jefferson's version of the bible (New testament) where he basically cut out anything that required magic and miracles and kept the messages of Christ's teachings. Thomas Jefferson believed in a "God", but that this God didn't play a hand in our every day lives in a direct way.  He didn't believe all the magical stuff, but he did believe Jesus was a real person and that the ethical system of Jesus was the finest the world has ever seen. Jefferson's version of the bible was incredibly short - I don't remember at the moment, but something like 46 pager, or 64 pages...anyway it was much less than 100 pages and so quite short really. I keep meaning to look it up - you must be able to read the whole thing on the internet somewhere, right? One of these days...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Needle aponeurotomy - success!

It's been awhile since I've posted. I've been trying to use the power of gratitude in my life to continue a physical healing path. Practicing gratitude is a nice thing to do during Lent (or during the springtime in general if you don't observe Lent). It's the time for new life and change...we have to embrace it!

What I'm grateful for this week? The results of my hand procedure - needle aponeurotomy, or NA release for short.  Last time I showed you a couple of pictures of my right hand and the cord that was pulling my middle finger toward my palm. I have Duyputren's in both hands and fairly extensively, but most of the nodules have stayed mostly flat...except this finger.

I mean really - I couldn't flip anyone off in traffic!  Who lives like that? It was horrible!

Anyway, I had this procedure last Friday, and so one week out I thought I would show you the results.  The procedure didn't really hurt much. It was like going to the dentist where the only part that hurts are the shots of novocaine before the drilling.  As with my dental experiences, I have some resistance to novocaine and it takes extra shots to numb me. But still...not too bad and I didn't have to go under general anesthesia, so the whole thing took less than 45 minutes there at the doctor's office. I even drove myself home.

Once my palm and most of my fingers were numb, the doc used a sharp larger gauge needle to nick and saw at the cord in about 10 different spots.  Every once in awhile he'd stop and try to open my hand to straighten.  He warned me that there may be some popping sounds when the release happened. But I still wasn't prepared for the loud CRKCRKCRKKKCKPOPPOPPOP sound when my cord finally gave out.  He said probably due to diabetes the cord was a little more gnarly than on non-diabetic patients (makes sense to me since there could be passive glycosylation and bond formation in the collagen structures in presence of excess sugar).  Anyway, I felt like such a bad patient already - wincing and "ouch"ing with the shots - when that sound hit, I instinctively drew my knees up toward my chest in some protective (knee jerk, duh) reaction. It didn't hurt at all! Just an unnatural breaking sound that you instinctively feel is just plain wrong coming from your hand.  There was a second popping at my middle knuckle, but it wasn't quite as bad and I was more prepared for it.

Then he bandaged me up and sent me on my way.  It's been a bit stiff, not too sore except when I stretch it out which I'm trying to do frequently.  Typing has been a bit of a challenge, but I was able to go to work right away on Monday. Easy peasy!

Maybe you can see a couple of the punctures and a little swelling on my palm, but not bad. 

Below is the "before just to refresh your memory (and mine!)

And my hand is nearly straight!

Before - I couldn't place my palm on the counter at all. 

I am very GRATEFUL for this success on my hand!

And I'm feeling good overall - no stomach issues lately (I'm still on the experimental drug regimen), no migraines or unmanageable headaches.  I really need to plot out a fitness regimen, because I'm still not in very good condition and my blood sugars are still somewhat unstable. Exercise really helps even all that out.