And another follow up

Seriously.  How many appointments am I going to have to go through before I feel like a normal person again?!?!  This is getting ridiculous.  Yesterday was my 6 week follow up after the radiofrequency ablation procedure I had the beginning of August.  I met with the doctor and we discussed that I am still having pain.  Although the pain is different, it still limits what I am able to do.

She did a brief exam and tried to find the exact location of the pain.  We talked about the benefit I had initially received from the diagnostic branch block injections.  She then pulled up the X-rays and MRIs and her notes from the first couple appointments.  We looked at an image she had taken during the 2nd injection and she pointed out a pseudoarthrosis of my S1-S2.

And what is pseuoarthrosis?  Basically, it is a failure of the S1-S2 to fuse completely.  It creates a joint where there really shouldn’t be one.  This was pretty apparent on the MRI.  Is this what is causing the pain?  Who knows.  But, it is the next logical step in the diagnosis/treatment plan.

And what is the diagnosis/treatment plan?  Well, I have scheduled an injection into that joint.  It will be a combination of a steroid and a numbing medication.  If it works, I should get several weeks of relief AND then we will know that is where the problem is.  Then we can progress to the next treatment option to provide a more permanent solution.  (surgery?)  If the injection doesn’t make the pain go away, then we are back to the drawing board.  (And I will cry.  Again.)

So, the injection will be on October 10th.  It will be another situation where I will have to go in early and not eat anything.  I’ll need a driver and they’ll probably want to give me some Valium (which I won’t want).  The whole process will take about 2 hours, even though the actual time of the injection process only takes 15-20 minutes.

The doctor wrote the same work restrictions that she wrote when I started my new job.  I am allowed to do moderate duty.  It is a bit subjective, but the management has been really great about letting me get in on a wide variety of different cases and I just have to be very cognizant of what I can and cannot do.  I am fortunate that I am still in orientation because it means that there is always another nurse with me and I don’t have to do anything by myself just yet.

The doctor wants me too continue doing the physical therapy, although she did mention that I shouldn’t be extending my back (think: back bend) too much.  A little bit, just to get a stretch is fine, but too much will put pressure on that area.  So, no yoga for now.  Sad smile

As for running…and really, isn’t that the most important thing…I told her that I have had a couple runs that have felt pretty good.  I’m still doing a lot of walking and I try to get in the pool once a week (although with the new job that is a challenge).  She said that I could increase my running mileage from a half mile to a mile, on the days that I feel good.  I have to maintain a slow pace and I still can’t run more frequently than every other day.

So, I’m still working through this stupid injury.  My fall marathons are rapidly approaching and I am going to have to suck it up and deal with the fact that I am not running.  There is always next year…maybe.

Working woman

I have made it through the first two weeks at the new job.  The Operating Room is a very dynamic environment and there is so much to learn before I will feel comfortable as a nurse.  The first couple weeks have been busy with general hospital orientation classes, shadowing RNs in the OR and working through my THREE INCH THICK orientation binder.

The orientation period in the OR is about 6 months long.  Even though I accepted a .6 position (24 hrs/week), I will be working full time during the orientation period.  And…it is exhausting.  I have about a 45 minute commute each way.  And my brain is working overtime trying to learn all this new information.  By the time I get home, I am pretty wiped out.  (My exercise routing has taken a hit)  I know that things will get easier as I start to learn the new role and even better when I am able to cut down to part time.  It is just going to be a busy few months.

I was able to shadow on a couple of cases this week.  There are two main ‘teams’ in the surgery department:  ONS (Ortho, Neuro, Spine) and General (general, Ear/Nose/Throat, Plastics, Robotics).  At some point during the orientation process, I will choose which team I want to work on.  But, I will orient to both so I can make an informed decision.  I’ve been in several Ortho cases, one general case and a C-Section.  I’m looking forward to next week to see what other cases I will be exposed to.  I know that at least one day will be devoted to making some progress in the THREE INCH THICK orientation binder.  And I have one day of general nursing orientation with other new nurse hires from other departments.

The sheer volume of things I have to learn is completely overwhelming.  Several times a day I have to remind myself that I don’t have to know all of it tomorrow.  There are a lot of nurses in the department and they were all in my shoes at one point.  If they can learn it, so can I.  I am going to have to keep telling myself this whenever I start to freak out!

I really think I am going to love this job.  The people have been great so far.  They understand how much there is to learn and they know that it can be really overwhelming.  There are also just a lot of people to meet.  I’m glad that everyone is wearing a name badge!  There are a lot of nurses and surgery techs and CNAs.  Then there are the anesthesiologists and the nurse anesthetists.  Of course, there are also the surgeons and on most cases there is a surgical assistant.  There are a lot of people in the operating room…which is very comforting!

I am looking forward to learning as much as I can.  This is what I have worked so hard for the past few years and it is really exciting to finally be in a position where I am able to apply some of what I have learned.

August Month in Review

August running mileage: 4! I actually got to run four miles this month.  That is eight days of running half a mile.  It is really nothing to get excited about—except that it is really something to get excited about!!  I’m not running fast (about a 12 minute pace) and I’m still only allowed to do half a mile every other day.  I’m hoping that I can slowly increase that mileage after my next follow up appointment.

Walking: I walked 83 miles in August.  I walked almost every day.  It gave me a reason to at least get moving.  I have a very nice 3 mile loop around town that I do almost every day.  I stick to the same loop because I know the ups and downs of the pavement—and I don’t want to twist an ankle in the dark!

Swimming:  11,900 yards.  (6.76 miles)  The pool was closed the first week of the month and I just didn’t get there as much as I wanted to.  I still don’t love swimming, but I think that it definitely has its place in my ongoing training.y

Injury update:  At the beginning of the month, I had my ablation procedure.  A couple weeks after that, I went back for the follow up appointment.  So far, it hasn’t been everything I hoped it would be.  The doctor keeps telling me to be patient.  She obviously doesn’t know me at all.  Smile

I have been going to physical therapy and I have been very diligent in completing my exercises and stretches.  I’m trying really hard not to do the things I’m not supposed to do.  I have another follow up in a few more weeks. 

Job update:  I was offered a nursing position on the Operating Room at a local hospital on August 8th.  Then, after the pre-employment physical, the job was put on hold due to the back pain.  I was playing the waiting game for a couple weeks, but last Friday, I got the call that I would be starting…TODAY!!  I can’t wait.

I hope that things continue to improve on all fronts.  I’d love to have less pain and be able to run more.  Hopefully September will be a good month.

Thirty five 2014

Jaden-One of the last days of sleeping in.  He won’t be smiling next week when he has to get up and get ready for school.

Logan-Watching the magic show at the fair.

Bonus: Both boys loved the train ride at the fair.

Job update and physical therapy

I had my first physical therapy appointment today.  More accurately, I had my first post-ablation therapy appointment today.  The therapy order from my doctor indicates that I will be working on core strength.  I know that this is exactly what I need.  I haven’t been able to do any core work for the past couple of months because of the back pain.

The therapist I worked with today (who I have worked with in the past) did an evaluation and talked about how I’ve been doing since I last saw her at the end of April.  She measure my range of of motion.  We talked about what types of movements typically cause my pain.  We talked about how ‘flabby’ my core feels and I told her that I am looking forward to getting a little bit more stability in that area.

And, since she is really big on working toward her patient’s goals, we discussed some short-term and long-term goals.  I told her that most of the goals I had for myself this year aren’t going to happen.  I already missed my two half marathons in the spring.  I won’t be able to run either of the two fall marathons I registered for.  I don’t like giving up on my goals.  But, since I had to stop and think about it, I told her that my short term goal was to be able to do my normal, everyday tasks without pain.  Those things that everyone else takes for granted–folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, making the beds, playing with the kids—I would like to be able to do those things.  As for my long term goals…well, I want to run.  I would love to be able to do a spring marathon.  But, since I am currently running approximately a mile and a half a week, that seems pretty close to unattainable.

After the evaluation, we went through a few core strengthening exercises.  They are all isometric, nothing that requires me to flex my back.  And we are starting slowly.  Just a couple exercises with only a few repetitions each day.  I wish there was a magic button I could push to make this work faster, but there isn’t.  I have to approach this as rehab.  If I try to do it all at once, I will end up hurting myself more.  My therapist kept reminding me that I will actually get more benefit if I do these exercises slowly.  I have to consciously try not to be my super-competitive self.  I have to relax.  She also suggested yoga, but probably not until this winter.  It is still too early.  I need the back to get better and I need to get some of my core strength back.

I will see her again on Thursday and then one day next week.  I am hoping to get in twice a week.  Until then, I have the exercises I can do at home.  Every once and a while, we will reevaluate to see where I am and we can add to, or change up the exercises so that I continue to see the benefit.  Slow and steady.

On the job front…..

I hadn’t heard anything yesterday from HR at the hospital, so my plan was to call them this afternoon.  Instead, they called me right after lunch.  It was a different HR lady who called.  She wanted to let me know that they had sent out orientation letters stating that the next class was on Monday and Tuesday of next week.  Of course, Monday is Labor Day, so she wanted to let me know that the class was actually Tuesday and Wednesday. 

I asked her if this meant I was supposed to come to the orientation, since I was still waiting to hear if Employee Health was going to clear me to start working.  She transferred me to the lady I have been working with.  This lady apologized for not getting back to me sooner and for the confusion that this phone call must have caused.  She is still working with Employee Health to see if they can work within my restrictions.  She said that they wanted to make sure they made the right decision for everyone involved and that they didn’t want to make a decision and have to change it a couple days later.

I reiterated to her that my restrictions were TEMPORARY and that I anticipated making a full recovery.  She assured me that she would remind Employee Health of that fact.  In the meantime, I am just in a holding pattern.  She promised to get back to me by the end of the week.  My gut instinct is that they are not going to let me start.  I believe I am going to lose this job and there is nothing I can do about it.  The worst part is that I turned down a different job to take this one.  I feel like I’m being punished because I got greedy and put all my effort into getting the job I really wanted instead of taking what was offered to me.  And now I might not get anything.

I’m going to need wine and chocolate.  Oh, and a job.