I’m taking control back

Over the past year or so, I’ve felt my life spin completely out of my control. Worker’s comp is a horrible thing to go through, because you’re so dependent on complete strangers to fix what’s wrong and they care more about the cost than about you. When I first injured my knee in September 2012, I knew that it was going to be a process to get it healed, but I never imagined that I’d still be fighting to get back to “normal” for this long.

I feel hopeless sometimes, because there is nothing I can do to speed up the bureaucratic system. Yes, I’m on WC disability, but that barely pays for my regular bills, even before I add in the cost of eating. Staying at home all day every day is a great way to slowly go insane. I seriously don’t understand how retired people do it. I’ve been steadily gaining weight since my injury, because I can’t do the simplest of exercises that might impact my knee.

I’m fed up with waiting to hear the determination on my appeal. Not knowing is stressing me out, big time. I need to keep my mind busy to stay sane. To that end, I’ve signed up to be a distributor for It Works! Global, selling body wraps and other products that help tighten, tone, and firm your body. I’ll admit that I was a skeptic when I first heard about these things, but then I kept seeing peoples’ results. I’m truly amazed at how much better I feel after one day. It’s not an instant solution, just like going to the gym isn’t an instant solution. You have to follow common sense and stay determined. Nothing is going to work for you if you don’t make other changes like eating healthier and drinking lots of water.

I’m not trying to make this post into an advertisement, and I’m not going to turn this blog into a commercial. I just wanted to share how I feel. I’m taking control of my life again. I’ve had some pretty serious mood swings lately because I hate this time of year. I’ve decided that I’m going to start working on improving me, and not waiting for things to improve on their own. I may be disabled now, but I’m not helpless. I’m still determined to get my life together and move back to my adopted hometown of Charlotte. It’s going to take a while, because I’m looking at several months of therapy after my knee does eventually get the surgery I need, but I’m writing down my dreams and goals, and I’m going to make it happen. Selling the It Works! products is going to help me get there financially, and I’ll finally get back to living the life I’m meant to have.

It’s also time to start working on my happiness project again. Lately I’ve been so busy being upset that I keep forgetting to remember all the good things I have in my life. Positive thinking creates positive action. I WILL hear from the state soon, and they WILL approve my surgery! Or, if not, then my doctors and I will try another direction. I’m not going to give up on myself. I deserve better.

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There is one distinct advantage to having chronic insomnia

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had some screwy weather around here. It’s been super hot and muggy more days than not, which means that personal productivity is slightly higher than a tortoise galloping through mud. However, since I’ve been dealing with nearly two weeks of insomnia this time around, I figured I’d put it to good use.

I’ve been spending a good portion of the evening, night, and early morning to clean and organize my house. It’s relatively cool, considering the nice breeze from the fan that’s blowing on me, so I just put on some music and get stuff done. In an ideal world, I’d like to have my room completely organized before my knee surgeries.

I knocked out a big chunk of my to do list today by doing some remodeling in my closet. I hung up a new clothes bar with a shelf over it, so that I have more room to store things, and I plan on adding some additional shelving in there as well. I’ve also dismantled part of the Elfa system that was in my room and reconfigured it to make it more user-friendly for me. By the time I’m done, I should have an actually functional room that will be easy to maintain and look a lot less messy.

I love the satisfaction of writing out lists of things I want to accomplish, and being able to check things off once they’re completed. I guess that’s the super-organized overachiever part of my personality. I don’t like when things are messy and I can’t find what I want. It drives me nuts. I’m also taking the time to do some more crocheting. Again, it is immensely satisfying to see the progress as I stitch together whatever the hell it is I’m making.

Yesterday (September 7) was the one year anniversary of trashing my knee, and I’m getting to the point where reading is getting boring. While I was out of work on full disability, I was reading an average of 600 pages a day, because I just wasn’t able to do anything more than go to the kitchen or bathroom, or to the doctor’s office or physical therapy. Slowly but surely, things are coming together. I’m still waiting on whether or not my surgeries will be approved; I plan on calling WC tomorrow (today?) and trying to get an answer from them. The new claim rep that has been assigned to me doesn’t have a direct phone number listed, and I can’t find him in the company directory when I try to call. If I can’t track him down, I’ll call my previous WC admin and see if she can get me his phone number. There are things I need to discuss with him in addition to trying to settle the surgery plans.

I’m just so ready to move on with my life now, so I can start the next chapter and see where it leads me. I feel like I’m walking up a down escalator. One step after another, with no forward progress in sight. Fortunately, I seem to be keeping the depression at bay for now, which is making things a lot easier for me. I still have just the edge of anxiety gnawing at my subconscious, but I’m doing my best to ignore it, and mostly succeeding. The not knowing what’s happening next is the hardest part of the whole situation.

I’m feeling a little bit topsy turvy

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

 

I think my feeling of being “off” started on July 24th when I walked out to find my roof slashed on my car. Nothing was stolen, but it still felt very much like a personal violation. My car is very special to me. He symbolizes the grown up me who is supposed to be fun and spontaneous instead of dull and boring. I feel good when I sit in my car. I enjoy the attention I get when people comment on what a nice looking car he is. (It never extends to what a nice looking driver he has, but I’m quite okay with that)

Things started to get better once I was finally able to get to the claims adjuster to inspect the tear and get a check to pay for the new roof. I felt like I was finally making some progress. Then, the following Saturday, I suddenly lost fifth gear. Thankfully, I have a dual clutch transmission, and was able to utilize fifth gear by switching into manual mode. Once again, I fell into stress mode, worrying about what this was going to cost me to repair it, even with my super awesome bumper to bumper warranty. At this point I was looking at a $250 deductible for the roof, plus a minimum of $250 deductible on the transmission repair. Since I’m still on disability, this meant that I was going to have to save up for a very long time before I could get either repair done.

I returned to work on a modified schedule, working four hours a day. After the first two days, my knees hurt so badly that I could barely walk. I made an emergency appointment to see my surgeon’s PA and he cut me back to 3 hours a day to see if that would help. I’ve discovered that if I keep my legs elevated at work, they don’t hurt nearly as bad, but I’m still having to ice them for several hours when I get home.

My check arrived from State Farm and I called the auto upholsterer that was recommended by State Farm (and more importantly, but a very close friend of mine whose wife used the same company on her beloved Miata) and found out that the cost of the roof and labor was the exact amount of the check I was given. State Farm forgot to back out the $250 deductible that I was supposed to pay. Oops. I called them and asked, and they informed me that the check was correct, so I was went with it. I ordered my new roof . In the meantime, Morgan (my 350Z) decided that he was going to use fifth gear again, and hasn’t had any shifting problems since. I still want to get it checked out, but it’s not on the urgent list anymore.

Then I went to see my surgeon. He told me that he’s done all he can do with arthroscopic surgery, and the next thing to try is a procedure called “autologous cartilage replacement.” Basically, they do a quick arthroscopic procedure where they harvest some healthy cartilage and send it off to a lab to grow into a patch large enough to cover the two condyles on my tibia that are crumbling. Then, he’ll go in and do an open surgery to essentially sew the new cartilage onto the bone, where it should theoretically grow into healthy cartilage and be just like new. Finding out I need two more surgeries put me over the edge again and I spend a good portion of Monday crying and trying to wrap my brain around the fact that this means I’m stuck here in San Diego for at least the next two years, and possibly as many as four. I’m trying to stay optimistic and think of how wonderful it will be to not have pain and grinding/crunching in my knee every time it bends, but it’s hard to stay positive right now.

I did get my new roof on my car installed on Friday, and it looks very nice. It’s driving me a little nuts that I can’t lower the roof until tomorrow afternoon, because it needs to stretch properly so that I don’t have issues down the road, but that’s a minor inconvenience that I can live with. Also on Friday, I got a surprise visit with my son, as his father had some business to attend to here in town.

At this point, I’m so mentally turned around and upside down, I don’t even know what I’m feeling anymore. I’ve been having panic attacks again since finding out about the new surgeries and I have a pervasive feeling of anxiety that I just can’t get rid of. I try so hard to stay positive and always look on the bright side, but sometimes it’s just too hard. I feel like I’m bogged down; stuck in a city I hate, for the foreseeable future, and every time I try to make any plans to leave, something else comes up to hold me here longer. I should have never moved back. I haven’t been completely happy since returning, and I’m brokenheartedly homesick for the Carolinas. It’s getting to be time for the leaves to change color, and the air to turn brisk.

I feel like I’ve lost control of my life, and that I’m surviving on the whims of others. The depression is creeping back in, and so is the anxiety. No, they’re not the same thing. I’m trying to do the one coping mechanism that generally works for me, and that is taking control of one aspect of my life and setting it right. If I can control just one thing, then I know I’m not helpless. Inside, I’m still screaming though.

My surgical update

I would have posted sooner, but I had to make sure I had it straight in my head first.

This past Wednesday, I finally went in for my long awaited knee surgery. I had been assured over & over again that it’s just a simple procedure & that I’d be up and running around again in no time. I wish it was that easy.

The problem with exploratory surgery is that you never really know what you’re going to find until you get in there and get a good look around.

The good news is that, while I definitely have thinning of the cartilage in my knee, it wasn’t ruptured or torn at all. The bad news is that the condyle head of my tibia (that’s the knobby part at the end of the bones) has suffered extensive wear and deterioration. To put it simply, at 39, I have the knees of a 60 year old.

The doctor did his best to scrape it clean and clear up the mess, but if that doesn’t stimulate new cartilage growth to replace what I’ve lost, I’m looking at a much more invasive surgery, perhaps even going as far as a total knee replacement. Obviously, this is not what I wanted to hear.

I wanted it to be nice & simple, with a fast turnaround time, so I could get on with my life. It doesn’t look like that’s the case here.

I’m trying really hard to be optimistic here, but it’s not easy. It seems like every time I try to make plans to improve my life, my body just laughs at me & something else breaks. At least I have my empathetic cat, who can always tell when I’m having an especially rough day & he comes to comfort me. Too bad I don’t have a man in my life who is that selfless.

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The choice is no longer mine

In my last post, I stated that I was concerned about what Monday would bring, in regards to the pain in my knee. As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait that long after all. My physical therapist was manipulating my patella on Wednesday, and I have over a 1/2″ of lateral movement in the kneecap. That means that it’s not tracking at all. It’s worse now than it was when I first injured it three and a half months ago. I’m in more pain, and all the strengthening exercises in the world aren’t going to help me now, because it would seem that I’ve torn or broken something inside. I’ll get a real answer on Monday, but it’s been a very emotionally draining week for me.

Of course, all the stress over the knee is aggravating my headache, so that has gotten worse over the past week as well. Some days, most days, I just don’t even want to get out of bed. Even with upping my antidepressants, I find myself crying regularly when I’m alone. I try to hide my emotions around other people, and maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t. Shikata ga nai. I have no option at this point. My fate will be decided without my input. Whatever you’re doing, whether you know me or not, think of me on Monday afternoon and if you are so inclined, pray that it is not so damaged that I need to have the entire knee replaced before I even turn 40.

Thank you.

Waiting is the hardest part

Monday I go back to the orthopedic doctor and he tells me what the next step will be to fixing my knee. When I last saw him, he told me that he expected me to be back at 100% with no pain by the 23rd. That hasn’t happened. On Tuesday, the 10th, as I was walking down the stairs at home, my knee made another really loud pop and it felt like the patella once again slid sideways. I’m back to where I started three and a half months ago, except much more seriously depressed over it. He mentioned that the next step would be an MRI and then we could discuss what the next step will be. I am seriously terrified of surgery. I’m too young for a knee replacement. I’m tired of being in pain. I’m tired of trying to be strong outwardly while I crumble silently inside.

I want someone to hug me and tell me that everything will be alright. I want someone to tell me it’s alright to be broken. I want someone who understands that my brokenness is what makes me unique and special, and not something to avoid or dismiss. I just want to be me, without all the pain and hurting all the time. The problem is, I don’t know who I’d be if I wasn’t in pain. Would I be a happier person? Would I actually have more than a few friends who stick by me through thick and thin and don’t vanish when I need them the most? Sometimes I think that people are friends with me because I make their lives seem wonderful in comparison.

I’ll be back on Monday evening to let y’all know how my appointment went, unless something earth shattering happens before then.