redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Apr. 16th, 2019 05:42 pm)
I saw Dr. Lazzara this afternoon, for the last post-surgery check-up. He is happy with how my eyes look generally, as well as specifically with the eye pressure and my corneas. I have an eyeglass prescription, and he suggested I could get either progressive lenses or bifocal computer glasses. I can in fact see without my glasses; what I can't do is read without them, and it's annoying to have to pull out reading glasses to do things on my cell phone. Meanwhile the non-prescription reading glasses don't work well for distance, and I can't use the same ones to read a book and look at the computer screen.

I will go to the optician in Arlington Center in a couple of days and talk about eyeglass options and prices. (I may also consider going online for reading glasses that correct for the astigmatism; I had poor results in the past trying to mail-order my complicated bifocal/progressive prescription.)

That was the second medical appointment of the day.

I've had an annoying cough for more than a week; over the weekend I decided that since it wasn't getting any better, I should talk to a doctor, make sure it's not pneumonia, and find out if I need an antibiotic. I called Davis Square Family Practice first thing this morning, and they gave me a 1:30 appointment. After asking me some questions, and listening to my lungs very carefully, the doctor said that this is in fact just a lingering cough left from an otherwise-gone respiratory infection. I have a prescription cough suppressant, and an okay to go back to my regular exercises, including walking—"just don't run a marathon." This is disappointing in the sense that she couldn't say "take these, you'll feel a lot better in 48 hours," but it also means that no, calling the doctor Friday would not have been better: I had to remind myself a few time yesterday and Sunday that any plan involving a time machine can be safely disregarded.

I saw a lot of forsythias in bloom today, as well as a few cherry trees, the first maple flowers, and many daffodils; I'd stayed close to home the last few days, and saw a nice variety of bulbs and one dandelion, but no flowering trees.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Mar. 19th, 2019 04:44 pm)
tl;dr: all is well

I had the one-week follow-up appointment after the cataract surgery on my second eye today. All is well; there's a bit of swelling, but no more than would be expected. I have the doctor's okay to resume normal activities--exercise other than swimming, leaning forward, carrying more than eight pounds, sleeping without the eye shield. The doctor sent me home with samples of the two kinds of eye drops I still need, the Durezol that the insurance won't cover, which is what I had called and asked for, and the Ilevro, which is covered but still not cheap.

I have one more follow-up appointment, in mid-April, at which time Dr. Lazzara will prescribe new eyeglasses. In the meantime, I have to make do with the drugstore reading glasses. I told the doctor I was having trouble reading my computer monitor, because it's at an inconvenient distance, and he suggested I try a weaker prescription, maybe +0.75 or +1.0 (I'm using +2.0 for reading on paper or with the kindle). I have now measured the distance from where I normally sit to the monitor, and am going to try drugstore glasses while holding something to read about a foot and a half away.

I am enjoying being able to see, though not read, without glasses; it's weird having to remember to take my glasses off to see properly when not reading. I figure I'm going to want prescription glasses that can deal with the astigmatism; I may buy small ones that I can look over, rather than something complicated in the way of bifocals. That's a decision for next month at the earliest, but thinking about it now seems reasonable.
The second eye surgery also went smoothly, despite the minor annoyance of what felt like a long wait in the pre-op area. My vision now seems a lot better in that eye as well; I'll be surer of how much better when I take the eye shield off, either briefly to put in eye drops, or tomorrow morning. For now, I have the drugstore reading glasses on over the eye shield, which means I'm reading mostly with my left eye.

Like the first surgery, this was easier than I expected. The anesthesiologist predicted I'd remember more of this one, that being how Versed tends to work when given twice in a relatively short period; instead, I remember significantly less, which is fine with me.

Less cheerfully, the doctor's office called while I was in the pre-op area (with my eye dilated etc.) and left a message that they were rescheduling tomorrow morning's appointment to *8:45* instead of 11. I called back after listening to the voicemail and they had nothing later available; the receptionist said Dr. Lazzara was going to be in surgery most of the day, which I assume means something came up on short notice. Elizabeth is a hero of the revolution--her response to this news was that she could do that, but will need a wake-up call. I thanked her, and we discussed the fine points of me handing her a thermos of strong tea when she gets here.

[personal profile] cattitude and I put ourselves on a waiting list for the Shingrix vaccine last fall. Saturday, while I was exercising, the pharmacy called (mispronouncing my name badly) to say they had gotten a supply in, and was I still interested. I said yes, and then called the eye doctor's office and left a message, asking if it was reasonable/safe for me to get the vaccine the day before the eye surgery.

The eye doctor said yes, go ahead, so I walked down to the Rite Aid at Davis Square and got the first dose of the vaccine; they will call me in between two and four months, depending on availability, so I can get the second dose. (CDC says the doses should be 2-6 months apart.)

I am pleased; I had the previous shingles vaccine (Zostavax) five years ago, but it's less effective and may only last three-five years, so the CDC is urging people to get this one even if they've had the other.

Cattitude has not yet been offered the vaccine; he checked, and yes, he's next on the list.

I started on the pre-operative eye drops for my right eye this morning; the spacing of today's doses would have been slightly simpler if this wasn't the first day of daylight saving time. So far, I'm doing okay with one set of pre-op instructions (for the right eye) and a different one for week two of post-op on the left.

I have also arranged a ride to the eye surgery center (and possibly back; if not, [personal profile] cattitude, the responsible adult of my choosing, and I will take a Lyft home). I talked to the surgical coordinator on Friday and rescheduled the one-week follow-up appointment to actually be one week later, instead of ten days. (When we were scheduling, back in January, they had no available appointments for the 19th.)

I expect this recovery to be slightly easier than the recovery after the left-eye surgery, in part because I don't usually onto my left side in my sleep, so the plastic shield taped over my right eye is less likely to wake me. Also because it is the second eye: I have more practice with eye drops, and I hope to be able to read with the non-prescription glasses I got last week, even if prescription reading glasses turn out to be a good idea.

I saw Dr. Lazzara yesterday afternoon. He was pleased with how well I'm healing, and suggested I either buy non-prescription reading glasses at the drugstore, have the glass removed from the left side of my spectacles, or both.

We stopped at the CVS on the way home, told them I don't need those eye drop prescriptions yet and might not ever, and I bought a cheap pair of (+2.5) reading glasses. Those turned out to work okay for the operated-on left eye but, unsurprisingly, not so well for my right eye. So after dinner [personal profile] cattitude got out one of his tiny screwdrivers and took the left lens out of my glasses, and I'm doing pretty well that way.

My pupil is still dilated enough from the eyedrops they put in Tuesday that I'm seeing random bright flickering on my left in any well-lighted room, but this has diminished significantly since yesterday.

Cattitude and I went for a walk after lunch, because he felt the need and I thought it would be fun. Blue sky, bright sunlight, and fresh snow reflecting the light, so I got out an old pair of vaguely goggle-shaped prescription sunglasses to see if they would protect my eyes sufficiently to enjoy a walk. To my pleased surprise, I could see quite well as we walked down the Community Path to Davis. I got these glasses more than seven years ago, and had stopped using them, I think partly because my vision changed over time and partly because I decided the self-darkening kind were more convenient.

I am having to remind myself that I am recovering from surgery three days ago and shouldn't push myself. Yes, it's minor surgery, nothing like when I had my gall bladder out, but healing takes some of the body's energy. (And now it's time for another dose of one of the eye drops.)

After a night's sleep, I can see better with the left (operated-on) eye without glasses than with the right eye with them on. I spent a bit of time last night with the glasses on over the eye shield, so I could read a little, but took it off after the morning dose of eye drops (except that I wore it in the shower, to help remind me to keep water well away from my eye).

The interesting colored halos I was seeing yesterday seem to have gone away. I had trouble falling asleep last night because my eye hurt, but then actually slept through the night, and it didn't hurt when I woke up. When I see the doctor this afternoon, in addition to whatever he wants to cover, I'm going to ask what "heavy lifting" means in this context, and whether it makes sense to try on drugstore reading glasses now, or whether I should wait a couple of days, or even until I've had the second eye operated on.

My eye isn't really happy looking at the bright screen right now, so I am going to go sit down with a paper book.
I am just back from having the surgery on my left eye. It was much easier than I had feared, and I can already see better through that eye. @Cattitude and @Adrian_Turtle came along for moral support, mainly to reassure themselves. The only problem now is that I can't put my glasses on (because of the eye shield), so I can't read. Elizabeth kindly drove us there, and to Lizzy's for ice cream afterwards. I see Dr. Lazzara for follow-up tomorrow.

No heavy lifting or strenuous exercise, and no floor exercises for a week. I'm very glad I did those particular exercises this morning.

I may not be reading responses for a bit, because of the difficulty with my glasses. I am using Adrian's eyes to post this.
The surgical center called this morning with scheduling information: they want me there at 1 p.m., and it's okay to have a "light meal" beforehand. I'm also supposed to take my regular morning medications at the usual time.

Also, my doctor's office doctor sent me the lab report on the pre-surgical blood testing, with the comment "looks good."
I was walking forward on a moving bus yesterday, stumbled, and landed on/across a bench seat. I don't think I'm seriously hurt, but this left me with several bruises. I iced the ones on my calves as soon as I got home, but that was ten or fifteen minutes later. I tried soaking in a hot bath, which did help, but first I discovered that the stopper in our bathtub no longer works, and had to improvise something with a plastic bag and a ceramic rice bowl. medical details )

A night's sleep helped some, enough that I walked down to Davis Square with [personal profile] cattitude this afternoon, because walking and daylight are good for me, it was sunny and mild (for Massachusetts in February, 5°C/42°F), and the forecast for the next few days isn't promising.

I had been vaguely considering going to the Women's March on Boston Common tomorrow, despite the cold, but decided against that almost immediately after getting hurt. I probably will go to the Winter Farmers Market tomorrow morning and see about more vegetables, smoked fish, and maybe some interesting bread and/or cheese. (That market is one of the best things about living in this bit of Somerville.)

The cortisone shot I wrote about Monday ( has done my hand a lot of good. By last night, I think it was back to how it had been six months ago, which is far from perfect—I still have arthritis and need to not overuse my hands, and still have difficulty not doing so—but it is a vast improvement, and as much as I was hoping for.

I will probably continue to ice my right hand now and then, because it might help, and go back to only taking naproxen (or other NSAIDs) when I feel a specific need (including for my knee or hips), rather than 200 mg twice a day, whether I have a specific reason to or not.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Jan. 7th, 2019 02:42 pm)
I think/hope this will work. cut for discussion of hand problems )

If this works, I may start feeling better in a couple of days, or it might take a couple of weeks. If I don't notice any effect in a couple of weeks, I can call the hand doctor again and/or call the occupational therapist and get an orthotic made. I asked for, and got, a prescription for the orthotic, so I won't have to go back to Dr. Green if the cortisone doesn't do the job. In the meantime, I should keep icing, and avoid "heavy" gripping with that hand.

The doctor said that if this works, it may solve this problem for good, or I might need another cortisone injection some months or years from now. That's a time-scale I can accept.
redbird: The Unisphere in New York's Flushing Meadow Park, with sunset colors (unisphere)
( Dec. 24th, 2018 08:45 pm)
We had one full day in New York on this trip, and [personal profile] cattitude spent part of it visiting a friend on the Island. [personal profile] adrian_turtle and I met my mother at the Cloisters at around noon. On our way uptown, we'd gotten into line for a Metrocard vending machine when a stranger came over to the line and asked if we had just gotten into the city. When we and the woman in front of us said yes, she handed us each an unlimited-ride Metrocard with four days left on it, saying that she was leaving town and didn't want them to go to waste. The woman in front of us asked "how much?" and the donor shook her head and said "Merry Christmas."

The trip uptown was unremarkable, and I found that I have a good memory for the details of that trip, including the irrelevant ones: I knew we were approaching 110th when the track sloped downward, and then (having lost count of stations) recognized 145th by the color of the pillars supporting the roof.

Adrian was delighted by the Cloisters, including the famous Unicorn Tapestries. This visit what caught my eye most was sculpture and artifacts (including a unicorn-shaped hand-washing pitcher in the room with those tapestries); when we went downstairs to the Treasury, I pointed out the wooden carvings on the staircase we had just descended. We had time to look at almost everything before we decided it was past time for lunch, which we got at the diner Cattitude used to go to regularly when we lived in Inwood. The staff has changed and the menu is shorter than it was, but it was basic good diner food, and they still know how to make tea.

Then we took the train down to the Village so we could go to Varsano's, my old favorite chocolate shop, which [personal profile] roadnotes had first introduced me to. I was pleasantly surprised not to have to wait (the Saturday right before Christmas), and we bought lots of interesting chocolate. My mother asked the difference between a lemon cream and a lemon truffle. I wasn't sure and asked the shop assistant; she passed the question to Mark Varsano, who explained and then put one of each on the counter for Mom to taste.

After I'd paid for my chocolate, Mark said something like "I still miss our friend," meaning Roadnotes, and we talked about her a little; one thing he mentioned was her dry sense of humor. I'd been afraid I would have to be the one to tell him she had died, and warned Adrian on our way downtown that I might need my hand held—but it's unsurprising that the same "small town that just happens to have eight million people feeling" that had Mark asking me how she was after she moved to Seattle means he'd gotten the sad news from some other mutual friend.

here there be politics, but relatively low-stress, I think )

The day involved a lot of walking, including at least ten flights of stairs; by the time we headed back to our hotel my ankles were complaining about the stairs in front of my aunt's building, but my knee and hips were (and are) doing okay.
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Nov. 29th, 2018 07:35 pm)
[personal profile] cattitude suggested that listening to audiobooks, podcasts, or music might be easier on my hands than the various things I've been doing (reading online or on the kindle, some typing), and has added me to his paid spotify account. (Most of our recorded music is in a box somewhere.)

I'm currently listening to the new VNV Nation album, Noire, which [personal profile] drwex mentioned yesterday. Podcasts and such will probably work better for keeping enough of my attention/focus that I don't do much with my hands, but I'm not comfortable using headphones for long at a time, and don't want to distract Cattitude too much. So, music now, maybe talk when he's at the library tomorrow.

I don't have a diagnosis for the pain in my right hand beyond having been told that it's inflamed, and to take NSAIDs, use heat, rest my hand but do use it a little, and come back if it's not better in a couple of weeks. It has been almost two weeks, but I'm not doing well at the resting part. I do have arthritis in my hands, but this is significantly worse than I'd gotten, unhappily, used to. Since I've been assured that this isn't neurological, I may not follow up for a bit; I already have an MRI next week and then am seeing my neurologist the week after, as ongoing care, and when I talk to the eye doctor's surgical coordinator I think that's going to involve making at least one pre-surgical appointment with him.

backstory" )
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
( Nov. 27th, 2018 09:54 pm)
I saw my eye doctor two weeks ago, expecting to get a new eyeglass prescription (I've had the current ones since early 2016, before I left Seattle). Instead, he told me I should schedule cataract surgery for some time in the next year.

I have had a couple of conversations with his surgical coordinator, and am probably going to schedule the surgery for late February and early March. They do one eye at a time, but prefer to do them fairly close together, so the patient doesn't spend too long in an in-between state when the glasses that are appropriate for the not-yet-treated eye are no longer right for the one where the cataract has been removed.

In those conversations, I found out that the "don't look down while you're healing" part of the aftercare instructions applies to things like looking under the sink; I should be fine brushing my teeth or looking at a book or my keyboard. (I may stay close to home, though, because while looking at the ground while walking should be okay, retying a loose shoelace sounds problematic, and I'm not going out in sandals in winter.

I'll have to go out to Lexington or Concord to have measurements done before the surgery, and then Waltham and Chelmsford for the surgery. For reasons that they didn't explain, he does cataract surgery in Waltham on the second Tuesday of each month, and in Chelmsford on the third Wednesdays, so having both eyes done in the same place means a longer wait between operations.

I do not want to discuss the surgery itself, because I would rather not think about it. I am going to think about logistics (like whether [personal profile] cattitude, [personal profile] adrian_turtle, or both will be there at the surgery to be the competent adult of my choosing (as Cattitude's oral surgeon put it) to get me safely home after the operation. I will also need to make an (extra) appointment with my GP, for her to check/confirm that it's okay for me to have the surgery, which has to be done no more than 30 days before the surgery.

I know this is very routine outpatient surgery, and I go home the same day. I'm still nervous, which is an argument for having the surgery relatively soon. "Relatively" because he's booked up through January, and I want to go to Boskone, and don't think scheduling surgery for the Tuesday before the con would be sensible. I think the nervousness is because surgery, because eyes, and because it will be a change, though hopefully a very good one. I don't expect not to need glasses, but am hoping that I will have a simpler prescription—and even if I still have near-sightedness, far-sightedness, and astigmatism, I won't have the cataracts blocking areas of my vision. (It doesn't matter how carefully I clean my glasses, that's not where the spots are.)

(Back in Seattle, my eye doctor said I had "incipient" cataracts. When I first saw Dr. Lazarra, he said they weren't "incipient" (I think partly he thought it was an unhelpful term in general), but that the appropriate thing to do at the time was to wait. So I knew this was in my future, but wasn't expecting it this soon.)
They've been on auto-refill for ages, and I thought they still were. Which means I almost ran out of the gabapentin, because I thought I had an unopened bottle of pills. Instead, I had one pill in the bottle on my dresser, and one day's supply in my daypack.

What I think happened is that CVS offered to reschedule my pill refills so both prescriptions would be ready on the same day, and instead just stopped refilling these automatically. So, OK, I have put in a refill over the phone, which I should be able to get tomorrow morning. I am then going to tell them to put it back on auto-refill while I try to decide whether to take all my prescriptions down the street to Rite Aid.

I can think of one good reason not to, namely that CVS is closer to my doctor's office, which is useful when they're doing things like calling in an antibiotic prescription for pneumonia. Right now I'm filling one prescription at Rite Aid because I prefer the generic they carry to the one CVS does. There's another that my insurance company insists on sending to the CVS mail order pharmacy. And two, including the one I'm grumbling about here, that could equally well go to either. The only thing I'm sure of is that if I do transfer these prescriptions to Rite Aid, I'm going to tell CVS why.

ETA: I filled the prescription today. Apparently gabapentin is sufficiently a controlled substance that it can't be on auto-refill, though not at the level where I have to get separate paper prescriptions for each month's supply. Which in turn means that taking it to a different drugstore wouldn't avoid this problem.
Even if I don't do anything else political in the next few days, I have done quite a bit in the past week, and every bit counts. It's easier to tell other people "take care of yourself, you're not expendable" than to apply that to myself.

My plans for today involved either the Solidarity Shabbat, canvassing for Yes on 3, or both; the timing would have worked, but I didn't think I had the spoons.

But my hands have been hurting the last couple of days, so I decided not to go to services this morning but save energy for the afternoon canvassing. Then I started having (low-level, but still) hip and balance problems, so reluctantly threw away the plan to take the bus to Davis, and see if I was up to taking the subway to Cambridge and canvassing, because not only am I not expendable, but I am not sure my presence would be a net benefit to a canvassing team right now. I may try some more get-out-the-vote calling later, hands allowing; [personal profile] cattitude has offered to lend me headphones that would save me having to hold the phone. (The Yes on 3 website link for calling from home dead-ends at an outside page that lists no actual times or sign-up information; I may make more calls for Yes on 4 (voting rights restoration) in Florida because I'm already signed up for that.)

ETA: After posting the above, I contacted someone at Yes on 3. By the time she got back to me, I was on the phone with Alan; that was a very good conversation, but after 45 minutes of that I noticed my throat is a little sore, so no, I'm not going to be phone banking right now despite having watched the training for this. Feh. Texting would be bad for my hands.
I decided to take advantage of the combination of my improved hips and knee, and a warm (for October) day, and wander around outside, and asked [personal profile] cattitude to join me. He happily agreed, so we got lunch in Davis Square, took the train to Alewife, and walked around Alewife Brook Reservation.

We spent a lot of time looking at plants; I photographed things and uploaded the pictures to iNaturalist in the hopes of identifying them later, or of someone else identifying them for me. I also took a few photos of things I did recognize: a monarch butterfly, a sumac tree whose leaves have turned bright red.

Cattitude spotted one frog (which just looked like a dark lump when he pointed it out to me), a wood duck (too distant for me to tell from a mallard), and a muskrat or two (we might have been looking at the same animal twice); the muskrat was a pleasant surprise. Plus some less surprising animals, including mallards and robins.

I may have overdone things slightly, but got home okay by walking slowly and carefully for the last bit of the trip, and found enough energy a couple of hours later for some PT exercises.
In an admittedly small study of the effects of probiotics after a course of antibiotics, the gut microbiome took longer to return to normal than in people who didn't take them.

What did help was autologous fecal microbiome transplantation (aFMT), but I'm fairly sure that would cost more, because of the work involved, and require some advance planning: it's not likely to be available to the person whose doctor says "you have pneumonia, I'm calling in an antibiotic prescription."

The lead researcher told the BBC that future probiotics would have to be tailored to individual patients.
So, I had a cortisone shot in my left knee on April 12th, before going to Montreal on the 13th. The knee felt a lot better by the 14th, just occasional twinges, and I was feeling very optimistic. That lasted for about a week. On the 20th and 21st, the knee was stiff when I woke up; when I woke up this morning, it was both stiff and somewhat painful when I woke up.

I've been taking naproxen about once a day (mostly for hip stuff), and icing the knee some. I guess it's time to call the physical therapy place and see about knee PT. I'm still not sure if I need/want more hip PT; that's going to depend partly on whether/how much cortisone the shots I'm scheduled to get in both hips on Tuesday do.

ETA: The injection was 2ccs of depomedol (according to the visit notes I got in the mail 4/27); noting this here because the entry in their electronic medical records not only is less detailed, but says no medication was given. A copy of that should have been faxed to Dr. Bershel's office; they're in a different system so can't see each other's electronic records.

ETA again, 5/19: according to the bill I just got, it was 80 mg depomedrol.

About Me

redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)

Most-used tags


RSS Atom
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style credit

Expand cut tags

No cut tags