An inconvenient FLARE

April 17, 2014

ankle2

But aren’t they all inconvenient? I’m sorry I haven’t posted in such a long time. This winter in Minnesota (and other parts of the world, I know) has been brutally depressing, and I basically haven’t felt well throughout most of it. As I sit here writing this, I’m looking out my window at SNOW covering everything. We got dumped on yesterday and last night, which isn’t helping my mood or physical state of being. I’m bummed out, I’m stiff, I’m achey, I’m anxious, I hurt all over.

Anyway, I’m currently in the middle of a pretty bad flare-up. My stubborn right foot and ankle have been in intense, swollen, throbbing pain all week. The left ankle is also flaring up but not as bad as the right one (which is its usual pattern). I’m also taking 30 mg of prednisone, which is making me feel sluggish and bloated and agitated and mental and everything that wonderful prednisone likes to do to a person. I think it’s helping, a little. I hope it will hurry up and knock out this inflammation ASAP though. I’m supposed to drive six hours south to Omaha this weekend to spend time with friends I haven’t seen in a while, but I don’t see how I can do that with my inflamed foot. Driving only irritates it more. Not happy.

So, to sum up–winter came back last night and dumped a load of snow and misery on my street. RA came back this week and dumped a load of inflammation on my feet. I’m pretty pissed off about both things. Hopefully there is a silver lining to this, somewhere. There must be, right?

Post-op

November 1, 2011

My surgery went well yesterday and I’m feeling pretty good recovering today. In addition to the general anesthesia I was given, the anesthesiologist also gave me a localized nerve block for my right ankle/foot, which meant it was basically paralyzed for 24 hours. So, needless to say, I didn’t feel much pain at all yesterday after the surgery. This morning I could wiggle my toes again and the feeling in my foot is starting to creep back. My ankle is starting to hurt now, too. I’m drugged up on some percocet and vistaril, which is pretty nice, I must say. However I’m already bored just lying around on the couch with my foot up. Trying to walk at all is a huge challenge – especially with cumbersome crutches I can’t really seem to get the hang of. I will also have to wear this attractive giant black boot for at least two weeks, depending on how fast my ankle heals. This means I can’t drive until I can wear a normal shoe again. Hopefully I can bribe friends to pick me up and help me escape from the house during the next few weeks.

Good news – after I came out of surgery my doctor/surgeon went to speak with my parents about the operation. He said that the scope showed that my ankle joint is not damaged, so this is really great. He also said he removed scar tissue and damaged/inflamed tissue that was from the RA. I wish I had been able to talk to him myself, like last time, but maybe he figured I was too out of it from the anesthesia. I might call the doctor’s office tomorrow or something to see if I can speak with him.

So that’s the surgery news. I’m glad it’s over. And I really hope it works this time and that removing all of that inflamed crap will cut down on my pain, swelling and immobility. I just want to have a normal ankle again.

Frustration

August 31, 2011

My ankles are worse again – puffy, swollen, painful. They had gotten a lot better recently and now they’re back to how they were before. I was so happy because I (wrongly) thought they were going to stay better.

Will my life ever stop being such a roller-coaster?

Heat

July 18, 2011

We’re in the middle of a sweaty, suffocating heat wave right now. Just running across the street to grab the mail this morning was miserable. So, I’d say this means no bike rides for me anytime in the near future. We’re supposed to have temperatures in the upper 90s at least until Wednesday, I think. The dew point is also extremely high, reaching tropical levels (75 deg. last time I checked online). I know talking about the weather is boring and I should be grateful it’s not snowing right now (I am). I do love summer yet the heat and humidity is hard on my body and causes a definite increase in swelling and pain in my joints. My ankles especially are both puffy and very sore to the touch. I’m sure I would be better off living in a drier climate, however Minnesota is home for now – with its sultry mosquito-filled summers and bone-chilling endless winters. Today I’m mostly annoyed that I can’t go on a bike ride or just sit in the backyard reading a book without melting into a puddle on the patio.

In other RA-related news, unfortunately the steroid injection I had in my right ankle almost two weeks ago did not help. I had a feeling it wouldn’t, because I suspect that the problem is in the soft tissue of my ankle and not the actual joint itself. The numerous other cortisone injections I’ve had in the past never helped, but I was really hoping it would be different with this one. I’m dreading calling my orthopedic doctor again about this because I’m afraid he’ll say what he said the last time I saw him in December after he looked at another new MRI scan – “I don’t know what to do.” What DO I do next? Try the Mayo Clinic again? The ankle isn’t that complicated of a joint (not compared to the wrist, for example); I just don’t understand how no one can figure out the problem. I’ve been dealing with these bad ankles since 2005 and it’s come to the point where I’m about ready to have the right one fused. I don’t want to do that but I don’t know what else to do to ease the pain. Does anyone have any insights or experience with this? If so, I’d really appreciate your input.

Fluoroscopic

July 6, 2011

Bee Balm in the garden

Today was a really beautiful, perfect summer day. However what I had to do this afternoon did not bring me carefree summery happiness. This afternoon I went to CDI to get another steroid injection in my right ankle’s subtalar joint. At this point I can’t even remember how many injections I’ve had in this poor battered ankle. Four years ago I had synovectomy surgery on it which barely helped. I keep joking to various friends that I should nominate myself to be on that show “Mystery Diagnosis.” After six years of “mystery” pain and swelling in both ankles and countless trips to various doctors and foot/ankle specialists (even a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester which yielded zero results other than a motel bill), I feel ready to give up. But I don’t want to give up. I want to be able to walk and just stand on my own two feet like a normal healthy person. The good/bad news is that MRI scans continue to not show any damage or active inflammation. That’s great, but why does my ankle hurt so much? Just looking at it you can see very obvious swelling.

So last week I decided to call the orthopedic doctor who did my surgery in 2006 to ask again if there was anything that could be done to relieve the pain. He ordered a fluoroscopically-guided injection which is what I had done today. Basically, the radiologist uses an X-ray/CT scan to locate the exact location of the joint and where the steroid medication will be administered. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long once I checked in and filled out the annoying paperwork (that I have filled out a million times already for MRIs). I was escorted to a procedure room and was then told to climb up onto the table. The doctor instructed me to lie on my left side with my right ankle facing up. He washed and sanitized the area with alcohol and disinfectant. Then he inserted the needle with a general anesthetic to numb the joint. That hurt pretty bad since my ankle is already very tender and sore to the touch. After the anesthetic was administered (and I was silently gripping the sides of the table trying to not wince from pain), the doctor injected the contrast dye. This felt very strange and despite the numbness, I could feel the liquid of the dye worming its way into my joint. Then, with the aid of the X-ray and the dye, the doctor injected the steroid. “That’s it, you’re done.” Thank God. Once the needle was out I felt a lot better and proceeded to sit up and then hobble off of the table and limp back into the waiting room. I’m really crossing my fingers that this will work and I will finally have some answers about this stupid, frustrating ankle. The technician told me that it can take up to a week for the medicine to really take effect, so I need to be patient. I thought to myself – yeah right, more patience. It seems no matter what is going on with my RA – waiting for steroids to take effect, waiting for flare-ups to go away, waiting for medications to get covered from health insurance, waiting for my next doctor appointment – this disease is constantly testing my patience. Some days I’m amazed that I have any left.

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