Tag Archives: health

Rinse and spit

Rinse and spit

I’ve spent the past 6 weeks in dental hell.  And it’s not ending anytime soon.

Labor Day weekend we were getting ready to go to the beach when I noticed Xander’s right cheek was all swollen.  “Do you have a toothache?”  After a moment, he said sheepishly, “Kinda.”  I sighed.  “Okay, we can’t do anything about it right now.  I’ll call and make you a dentist appointment on Tuesday.”  A little while later, I said, “Here, let me see it.”  He pulls open his cheek, and I look in to see half his molar is gone.  “Why didn’t you SAY anything?”  He shrugs.  Kids!  What is worse is a few days later, after I scheduled the appointment but before the appointment itself, I asked the question I should have asked in the first place.  “When did this happen?”  “I don’t know.  Around graduation?”  Kid, that was THREE MONTHS AGO.  I don’t know if he just didn’t realize that pain wasn’t normal or if he was scared to tell me.  Either way, he and all the kids got the lecture that if they’re hurting, they tell me and I worry about things like how we’re going to pay for it.

That lesson didn’t sink in so good, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

So we went to Xander’s appointment, which to my shame was many years past due.  The first appointment was just a cleaning and x-rays, but he was pretty nervous as he couldn’t remember having been to the dentist before.  Everything went well, but there was no saving the molar, so that would have to come out, and he had 5 cavities that needed filling.  So I scheduled weekly appointments and got the name of an oral surgeon, which I also scheduled.  Every week for the past month I have been at the dentist with that kid.  He did great.  Didn’t have any problems at the oral surgeon, which surprised me, especially since I couldn’t stay in the room with him.  But then that kid always surprises me.  All his cavities have been filled, and his wisdom teeth come out on Monday.  After that he’ll heal for a month before we go back to the dentist to get a spacer in where his broken tooth was.  Unfortunately we have to wait a couple of years before getting an implant or bridge until his jaw finishes growing.

In the meantime, though, I’ve become very aware of my kids’ teeth.  I’ve been nagging them all about improving their dental hygiene (my parents were pretty lax about it when I was a kid, and that’s carried over into my parenting), and we got the water pik the dentist insisted on, and both Crow and Xander have taken to that pretty well.  So when I glanced at Crow the other day and noticed a black spot on her front tooth, I went uh-oh.  Sure enough, they have a big cavity right on the side of their incisor.  So, back to the dentist we went.

Their cleaning and x-rays were today.  The dentist said she could tell Crow was starting to use the water pik, so yay for that investment.  But they still have 8-9 full blown cavities, and half a dozen more “baby” ones.  Those we’re treating with prescription toothpaste, but the others need a whole lot of appointments, especially that front one.  It is millimeters away from needing a root canal, which none of us want.  So I have all THOSE appointments made, and will be at the dentist most of October and November as well.

I am so grateful I have what passes for decent dental insurance in this country and a health savings account to pay for all of this.  I know it’s largely my own damn fault, but when you live on the financial edge, going to the dentist is terrifying.  Crow needs braces, and has for a while, which I’ve known and just had no way of even considering before now.  But the fear of being told it had to be done and figuring out how I was going to pay for it kept me from getting even the basic care done for them.  That kind of financial insecurity is so hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it, and the shame spiral that goes with it is impossible to escape.

Morgan goes to the dentist on Monday, the same day Xander gets his wisdom teeth out.  Fortunately Morgan’s teeth are rocks like mine are, so I’m not too worried for him.


Run, You Fools!

Run, You Fools!

I am back on the road.

I got out of my boot the first week in October and into an ankle brace.  Hallelujah!  I was cleared right away to drive, walk, bike, basically everything except running.  The doctor said I wouldn’t be running until after my follow-up in mid November. *sigh*  But I did get a prescription for physical therapy, so at least I’d have something to focus on.

There was no way I was driving into the city 2-3 days a week for PT.  I knew there was a PT practice at the Y, but I’d never been impressed with them when I worked at the Y and I knew their hours were weird.  I pass another place, the Physical Wellness and Therapy Center, on my way to and from work, and it had good reviews, so I decided to try them.

Best. Decision. Ever.

I had no idea what to expect as I’d never been to PT before.  When I went in, a little nervous as I am in any new situation, right away I was made to feel welcome.  Every staff member introduced themselves by name and remembered mine.  Amazing what a difference that made in making me feel like a person and not a patient.  Mike was my primary therapist, and he was great.  Never talked down to me or dumbed things down.  And he didn’t yell at me for the exercises I was already doing, even the wrong ones.  He put me through some basics and set me up with my exercises at home, including some of the ones I was already doing.  So I wasn’t entirely off base!  The other nice thing they did was schedule me for a week’s worth of appointments at a time.  I decided to do twice a week, to line up with Mike’s schedule and to save me some money, since it was going to cost me $20 a visit!

So Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings, I went dutifully, got worked and massaged, iced and electrically stimulated (that part was fun!)  I was diligent at home with my exercises and stared walking 3 times a week. Mike was impressed with my progress, and two weeks ago, I got permission to start back running SLOWLY.

The next night I started reworking my Couch to 5k training.  The only time I still have to wear my ankle brace is when I run, so I got strapped up and out I went.

God, it felt good!

I’ve lost a lot.  I started with week 2 instead of going all the way back to the beginning, and that was kind of easy.  I pushed myself on the freeform runs, half and half, but otherwise, week 2 was very doable.  Week 3 was…harder.  3 freeform runs, one for 5 minutes at the beginning and 2 8 minute back to back runs at the end.  I was fine with the running drills, but the freeforms were brutal.  The app breaks them down into 2 minute chunks, so I run until I can’t anymore and then walk until the next check-in. It’s not pretty, but I’m getting through it.

I was discharged from physical therapy on Saturday.  Mike didn’t even have me go through my whole workout, just got me warmed up, massaged, taught me a new balance exercise to build up the sensation in my feet, answered a bunch of my questions and sent me on my way.  Yay!  And now that I’m almost halfway through the C25k, I think it’s time to go back to the running club.  Double yay!  For someone who’s totally not a joiner, I have really missed running with that group.  I don’t want to overdo things, so I’ll only go on Saturday mornings and stick to a slow pace, starting with 30/60 second drills.  That way I’ll still be able to do the C25K drills on my regular schedule without risking overtraining.  Then in January, once I’m solidly back to running, I can start back to the Thursday night group runs.  And start thinking about what I want to train for next year.  10k?  Or *gasp* half marathon?  Yeah, I know.  I’ve lost my mind.  I guess I’m okay with that.

While I’m out running, my brain wanders.  I keep hoping it will wander somewhere useful like a new book idea, but at the moment it seems to have decided that I should lead a C25K training for the club in the spring.  I’d use the Zombies Run schedule that I’m doing for my training (only without all the interesting zombie parts), modified to break up week 8 into two weeks, as both Hero and I found that last week a little too intense.  Other than that, I like the development pace of the ZR training, and then people could use the app for days they have to miss.  I don’t know what kind of liability issues leading a training like that might involve, so I’ll talk to the coordinator and see what he thinks.

In the meantime, I’m shopping for new running shoes.  This shouldn’t be so damn hard.  I’ve been running in a pair of Brooks Adrenalines that I got put into by the local running store 3 years ago when I first tried C25K.  So no brainer, I got the same shoes this time.  Except running shoes change models faster than college text book editions, so the new shoes don’t feel AT ALL like the older ones.  The soles are harder with almost no give.  And they were tight.  Thankfully I ordered from Zappo’s, so they’re easy to send back, which I have done in exchange for a wider size.  Except I made one critical error in judgement.  I ordered a new pair (Asics) before I returned the first pair.  Theoretically, there was a logic to that, in that I could then compare them to each other.  In reality, it’s an excuse to have TWO pairs of running shoes.  Except I don’t like the Asics, either.  For exactly the same reasons.  So they’re going back, too, and I’ll get a wider size of those as well.  Once I finally settle on a pair (or two), I’m taking them all to the running store to see if I still need the arch inserts they gave me back then.  With the weight loss and change in activity, I’m not sure I do, or at least not as strong as I’ve been wearing.  In fact, I think the ones I have may have contributed to my broken ankle, overcompensating so far it made my foot roll.  I may need something, as it feels like my arch isn’t making contact when I run without them, but I don’t think I need the full orthotic.

But whatever I end up with, my primary requirement has been met.

Asics Brooks








My shoes have to be colorful enough that I’m happy putting them on.  Morgan thinks they’re gaudy.  I think he has no soul.




Injury is isolating.  I’ve been feeling pretty lonely lately.

It’s been 4 weeks since I broke my ankle.  4 weeks of being dependent, of being confined, of being uncomfortable, and, honestly, of feeling sorry for myself.  I think I’ve actually felt worse with this than I did through most of my cancer therapy.  Which really is pathetic.  I’ve been very fortunate.  People have been very kind and generous with their time.  Eileen and Jess from work have been giving me rides every day so I haven’t had to work from home.  Eric took me to run errands last weekend, and Nikki came up this past weekend to drive me around as well.  Which I appreciate more than they’ll know.

But it’s hard to be dependent.  I can’t do everything I want to when I want to.  There’s stuff that is fine to wait until after I’m driving again, like taking Morgan clothes shopping, but I hate having to (gods, that boy needs new pants!)  I’m trying to buy a new bike, but I have to see if the seller will deliver it since I can’t go get it.  It’s just INCONVENIENT, and that’s almost worse, because you get aggravated even though you know it’s not that important.

The worst is at night.  Sleeping with the boot on is a pain, as there’s really only one position you can sleep in, on your back, preferably with the foot elevated.  If it’s not elevated, my knee tends to lock and hurt.  But I’m a stomach/side sleeper, so I’m in and out all night.  Last night was cold enough to be under the covers, but I couldn’t because of the boot.  I woke up at 4 and couldn’t get comfortable, so that was it for me.  Which is probably why this post is so whiny.  I’m tired, I’m uncomfortable, and I’m frustrated.

One more week.

Getting the Boot

Getting the Boot

I should have realized that doing that epic running post was just asking for trouble.

As those of you who follow me on Twitter or know me in real life know, my running took a turn for the dramatic on Sunday.


As I said in my running post, I’ve started doing 6-7 mile runs on Sunday to build my endurance.  The first one had not gone great, mostly because of the route I took.  Not sure how it ended up being all uphill, but it honestly was.  So I mapped out a different route, one which went down to the high school, past almost all of Hero’s friends houses so I could properly embarrass her, then back through almost-country and into town.  I knew this route from driving it a number of times and having run part of it with the running club.  It was hilly, but they were up AND down, so I thought it would work.

The first thing I did was swap the arches out of my old running shoes into my new ones.  I liked the new ones, but they just didn’t have enough arch support for my feet, and with my overpronation issues, I figured I needed them for that as well.  Put them on and they felt good, so yay!  Fashionable runner!

I got all my apps set up and running, then started walking my warm-up.  It was about 75 degrees and 70% humidity, so not bad at all.  Started running at my usual spot.  As always, it took a while to get in the groove of the run, but the Zombies, Run! episode was really engaging (it was the last episode of season 1, so big doings!) and the route worked well.  I didn’t like running at the high school just because there was no shade, but I was there less than 5 minutes, so it’s certainly doable.  Everything felt good.  The country stretch was pretty, running past all the tall corn in the quiet of a Sunday morning.  I like Sunday mornings.  No one’s in a hurry to get anywhere.

My app told me I had done 5 miles in about 56 minutes.  It usually gives me credit for a faster run than I’m doing, but still, that told me in general my pace was pretty good.  I felt strong.  Confident.  Just had a mile and a half to go, and then I could get on with the day.  Take the kids back to school shopping.  Clean the house.  Maybe do some of the work on the shed I need to.

The next thing I know, I’m face down in the middle of the street.

I didn’t trip.  I keep saying I stepped off a curb, but it wasn’t really even much of a curb.  It was one of those ADA ramps they put on sidewalk corners.  Zero entry.  I’ve had to practically vault much higher curbs on other runs. And yet, when I stepped from the concrete onto the asphalt, my right foot rolled right as my body weight shifted left, and down I went.

I’ve had falls like this a lot.  Ever since I got reactive arthritis as a teenager, my knees and ankles have always been a bit weak.  Every once in a while one of them will just go, “Nope!” and down I go.  But I’ve never had it happen at speed before, and with all my weight coming down on the foot that was turning.  I heard that sucker pop and knew I was in trouble.

I picked up my glasses and dragged myself back to the curb to evaluate.  A runner and a car stopped to see if I needed help, but I waved them off, as I didn’t know how bad it was.  Stubborn me figured I could just carefully walk home.  It wasn’t that far, after all.  My first mistake was taking my shoe off.

My second mistake was walking half a mile with no shoe on.

By the time I got almost to Main Street, I was seeing black swarms in front of my eyes, which is usually a sign that I’m about to pass out.  So I found a stoop and sat.  I realized I was only about a block from one of the earlier mentioned Hero’s friends homes, so I called Hero to see if they were home that weekend.  They weren’t.  None of her friends whose parents I knew were in town.  The people I knew from the running club were all out of town, too, and I didn’t have anyone’s number anyway.  So I asked Hero if she would ride her bike down so she could at least walk back with me. (It only just now occurred to me I could have sat on her bike and one footed it home.  Oh well.)  Then, left with no choice, I called Eric to see if he could take me to the urgent care center.  Thankfully he could, and asked if I wanted him to pick me up where I was now.  I told him Hero was on the way, but if he wanted to come the route we’d be going home just in case, he could.  After I got of the phone with him, I thought, well, I don’t want them to miss me, so I’ll just hobble to the corner.

I made it to the next house.  Surrendering all pride at that point, I called him to come get me.

Hero showed up, and she blessedly brought a water bottle with her.  I tend not to carry one on my runs as I’m well hydrated going into them and am not usually out long enough to need them (plus I hate carrying anything).  So that was a blessing and secured her position as my favorite daughter.  (hush.)  Eric got there about 10 minutes later, we went back to the house to get my checkbook and wallet, and off we went to urgent care.

On later reflection, I wish I had gone to the ER instead, but at this point I figured it was just a sprain and no big deal.  But I’d never had a sprain before and didn’t know what to expect.  And there usually isn’t a long wait at the urgent care center, so there I was.  They got me checked in and back in about 5 minutes, and within 10 I was on the x-ray table.  By then my ankle was huge.


The staff were all very kind, but the doctor who finally saw me hardly talked to me at all.  He didn’t even give me any instructions until I asked pointed questions.  But the nurse who brought me my aircast was very nice and helpful.  Take it easy, elevate it, ice it, yadda yadda.  By 11:30, I was home.

Well, I still had that list of things to do, so.  After lunch I took a nap, and then I took Xander and Hero to 2nd Avenue to do clothes shopping.  It had to get done, and I could do it all leaning on a shopping cart, so I did.  I gave them a budget of $50 each and a couple of things they HAD to get (picture day outfit especially, since their picture day is the first Thursday of school) and set them loose.  Well, set Hero loose.  I went with Xander to help him pick some things out.  The score of the day was all his, though.  A beautiful black long sleeve dress shirt that fit him gorgeously.  He got compliments from 5 different people waiting in line at the dressing rooms!  He got all his back to school clothes (although he could use another pair of dress slacks) and even a pair of shoes for under his budget.  Hero didn’t do as well, but she got a couple of nice pieces.  She doesn’t need as many clothes, as her drawers are overflowing.  Once we get those purged, we’ll have a better sense of what she still needs.

I got a cane.  It was only $2.50.

Then we went to the dollar store for the bare minimum in school supplies.  There was no point in buying a lot until I know what they really need.  So they got paper and pens or mechanical pencils, depending on their preferences, pencil bags, a couple of other knick nacks.

I got a couple of ace bandages.  The aircasts are proven in studies to be better than compression bandages, but both together are even better, so I was going to use both.  Knowledge, and how to get it.  One of the perks of my day job.  Then we went home, where I had Hero help me make dinner.  I sat and chopped, she handled the stove part and made the muffins.  Then I took my pain meds and crashed.  Thank you, hydrocodone!

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and didn’t sleep well with the cast and the pain, so I called out from work on Monday.  Slept a lot, iced and elevated it, and made a comfrey poultice that I wore for a couple of hours.  I’ve seen that stuff work miracles, so I figured a boost couldn’t hurt as long as I did the mainstream therapies along side.  All was going well until that evening when I got a call from the urgent care center.

They’d found at least two breaks in my foot.  I needed to come in and get splinted, and then I’d need to see an orthopedist.

Well, shit.

I automatically went to my go to source for all my medical needs, and lo and behold, Penn Medicine ortho does same day appointments.  Even though it was Sunday evening, I filled out the request form figuring I’d get a call first thing in the morning, and politely declined the urgent care center’s offer to splint it for me.  It didn’t make sense to pay to have them do something that would just get undone and presumably done better the next day.


Tuesday I heard from Penn via email.  My phone number hadn’t come through on my request, so could I call in?  I did.  And the rage started.  The receptionist I was talking to said she could get me an appointment on Friday.  For a broken foot.  Seriously?  She knew nothing about the same day service, and kept giving me the standard line of she couldn’t override the doctors’ schedules.  I understand scheduling, honey, I’ve done it myself.  But I also know for emergencies, you can find time to squeeze me in.  “I can get you seen in Cherry Hill today.”  Seriously?  “The only other place I have any openings today is in Exton.”  Fine, send me to fucking Exton.  Yeah, it’s just as far and inconvenient, but at least there isn’t a bridge.  “You’ll need to bring your x-rays.”  I lost it at that point.  You’re one of the most advanced care centers in the region, if not the country, with your own very impressive imaging centers, I can’t freakin’ DRIVE, and you need me to bring x-rays from a Podunk care center?  Honestly??  She got an earful, poor thing.  I know she was just doing her job, but I was too hurting and frustrated to care at that point.  She went away for a few minutes, and when she came back, lo and behold, she had an appointment for me downtown that afternoon.  I’d still have to get my x-rays, though.  Fine, I’d manage.

I’d already been in touch with Deb about giving me a ride.  She had another commitment at noon, but she could at least take me to get my x-rays and get me down there.  I figured even if I had to camp out in the waiting area for a couple of hours, I could read or knit or take a nap, so long as I was there, and I could get myself home.  The bus stopped right outside the office that would take me to the station, and presumably I’d be in some sort of a cast by then.  Deb’s driving karma held out, though, and it took an hour and a half to get downtown.  Midday on a Tuesday.  What the hell, people?  I felt guilty about keeping her so late, but she felt bad about not being able to stay, so the guilt balanced out.  And I only had to wait about 45 minutes.


The center was very nice.  The building is right across from where I’d worked for the National Board of Medical Examiners, and hadn’t even existed until a year ago.  That area is building up so fast, it’s astonishing.  For me the nice thing about going to Penn is that even though I was new to the practice, I didn’t have to fill out a ton of paperwork because I’m already in their system.  I still had to wait until my appointment time, but that was fine.  They got me back about 1:30, and it went pretty quickly from there.  The resident was able to show me the break.  It’s pretty straight across the bottom of my fibula.  What urgent care thought was two breaks actually seems to be two ends of the same break.  The doctor said that it was actually in a good spot, that that low the joint isn’t as unstable and doesn’t open up.  Almost all of these kinds of breaks heal just fine.  I did mess up probably all three ligaments attached to it, but we’ll worry about those after the break heals.  I got prescribed a CAM boot and told to come back in 4 weeks for more x-rays and to discuss rehab.  The nice thing is this doctor is a sports medicine doc, so he’ll know how to get me back running.  Oh, but no driving for the next 4 weeks.

That’s the part that’s going to suck.  Never mind that we can’t do the day trip to Assateague now.  More important is no grocery shopping and I won’t be able to drive Xander to school for his first couple of weeks of high school.  When I told him he would have to ride the bus, he said, “Can’t I just ride my bike?”  So he’s going to do that.  I’m sending him and Hero to test ride it this weekend and to find the bike racks.  I’d like to get him a rack for the back of his bike so it’s easier for him to carry his backpack, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford that before school starts.  Thank ghod we got their back to school basics done!


So this is Fred, my live-in companion for the next month.  We’re getting along better than I’d expected, certainly better than I got on with the boot for plantar fasciitis a couple years ago.  I’m actually relatively comfortable sleeping in it, although that may be the pain meds.  I have an oddball pair (trio?) of handknit socks I’m wearing under it in rotation to keep the smell down, and I’m figuring out what shoes to wear on the left foot to balance out the height of the boot.  No more flip flops for me!  Several of my co-workers have been incredibly generous about driving me to work with them, so I’m back in the office on schedule, which makes me feel a little more human (and the air conditioning doesn’t hurt!)  I’m easing into the new normal.

I’m just glad I didn’t pay for any of those races already…