Three things

First Thing

I saw an abandoned rubber tree by a curb a few days ago. It was big, ungainly, and in a broken plastic pot. I didn’t want it, but I was touched by how tenaciously it clung to life, so yesterday I biked back to see if it was still there. It was still there all right, still on its side. As I stood looking at it, I thought, what the hell, I’ll just bike it home. Having to hold so much weight in one hand was a problem, but wind resistance was an even bigger problem.

I live in an area in which large loads are often seen on bikes, but never have I seen anyone with a rubber tree. No one else I passed had either, I suppose. First their mouths would drop open, and then they would laugh. There IS something funny about a rubber tree, even when it’s not being taken for a bike ride. “Oops, there goes another rubber tree.”

Second Thing

I went on a raw food diet six days ago. I ate mostly raw foods for years in the ‘90s, but I eventually got bored and went back to a regular diet. Now that I am in pain all the time and looking at multiple surgeries in addition to the four I’ve had in the past 18-months, I decided to go back to raw foods for a month and see if I can tell any difference.

It’s hard to eat enough raw food to keep weight on, so I’ve dropped from 169 to 163. I also feel positively stoned. It’s like looking at reality from a different and more interesting angle. I used to feel the same way when I fasted. Fasting brought me in touch with an inner purity that made it hard to eat again.

Raw foods aren’t exactly effervescent, but they do sparkle in my mouth.

Third Thing

Yesterday, I went to see Mark, my orthodpedic surgeon, for my six-week appointment. I’m 5 1/2 months out from surgery on my right shoulder, but still in pain. Here’s part of what I wrote to him by way of an update.

The pain is such that I can no longer exercise even with three pound dumbbells.

The pain is appreciable at night and mild during the day (most days the joint just feels a little stiff; other days, it hurts all day). The pain becomes worse the longer I am in bed.

The left shoulder also keeps me awake at times, especially if I’ve been active. My middle and upper back also hurt a great deal. I bought a Temper-Pedic type mattress, and that seemed to help for a couple of months, but now the back pain is worse than ever and bothers me no matter what position I am in. I anticipate a move back to the recliner if it gets worse.

I need two prescriptions. One for Percocet [oxycodone and acetaminophen] and one for Restoril [a sleeping pill]. I take two to three Percocets most nights, and I change ice packs every 1 1/2 to 4 hours. I also take Benadryl for the itching caused by the Percocet, but it still interferes with my sleep. Since acetaminophen now appears to be a greater health risk than formerly believed, I would prefer straight-up oxycodone.

Both the Percocet and the Restoril have the added benefit of helping me to avoid going into a funk when I wake up in the middle of the night and brood about my shoulder problems.

He blamed arthritis for the continuing pain in my right shoulder, injected it with cortisone and lidocaine, and said I will need a joint replacement within anywhere from a few months to a few years. I said I still wanted to have surgery on the left shoulder this year, and he said that would be fine if we can get rid of the pain in the right one—otherwise, he’ll operate on it instead.

Mark seemed to be leaning toward a full-joint replacement because the partials have a 20% chance of failure within two years. He said he wouldn’t consider a full replacement as a first option if I was twenty years younger. I told him not to consider it now either.

Mark has a new baby and said he was sleepy. I hope he’s getting better rest before my next surgery. Peggy said not to worry because medical people—she’s a nurse—are used to rising to the occasion no matter how they feel. I found little comfort in this, partly because mine will be a complex surgery. The bottom-line though is that I trust Mark. I don’t care how dire a situation is, if you trust your doctor, it makes it seem about half as bad. If you don’t trust your doctor, you’re screwed, especially if your doctor pool is limited.

40 comments:

Becky said...

Sorry to hear that you suffer from such pain. I wish I could invent a magic pill to make it all go away!

robert said...

First thing: the wooden chair I'm currently sitting upon, carried him home during heavy rain from one part of the town to the other.
Second thing: the wooden desk I'm currently sitting behind, carried it as well, with good weather though.
Third thing: walked home with two broken rips, about half a mile, also good weather.
Think that it is always oneself who knows best what and when to do anything. For me it seems it's walking and carring stuff.
Would like to wish you a nice weekend and a soon better shoulder, able to lift further trees.

Marion said...

First thing: {'cause he has hi-i-igh hopes, he has hi-i-igh hopes
He has high apple pi-i-ie-in-the-sk-y-y hopes}. Thank YOU, Snow-man for the wonderful rubber tree visual and the laugh!

Secondly: How do you afford all those fresh veggies to get high on? We're on a fixed income and have to eat Lucky Charms and watered down milk 3 x's a day. (Well, not quite that bad...add in beans...can one eat raw dried beans and rice?)

Thirdly: One of my son-in-laws is a surgeon (4th year resident) and he's had to be on call every other day now for about six months. The surgeon I did have totally f'ed up my back. Thank goodness I don't have side effects to my pain medication because the only time I'm not in pain is when I'm asleep, but the only place I can sleep is on the couch. (Really puts a crimp in the ole whoopee department.) My meds barely take the edge off and God forbid they'd give me something that actually works! Good luck with yours. I feel your pain, Snow. I took so many cortisone shots in the beginning my face looked like the full moon. I refused to take any more because they just didn't help me. The last 'anesthetic shot' they gave me to try to help---hit a nerve and almost crippled me! I sincerely hope you get better. Things could be worse...you could be down here in BF, Egypt! Sending you healing vibes and blessings....

JOE TODD said...

I feel quite certain that the rubber tree will help you "bounce" back from any further surgery. What exactly is a "raw food diet"
No processed food no cooked food ???

Snowbrush said...

Becky: "I wish I could invent a magic pill to make it all go away!"

And then, we (you WOULD include me, wouldn't you?) could patent said pill and get rich! Yes! I like the way you think.

Robert: "Would like to wish you a nice weekend and a soon better shoulder, able to lift further trees."

Thank you so much, Robert. It's always a thrill hearing from you.

Marion: "How do you afford all those fresh veggies to get high on?"

Huh? Do you mean they cost a lot in Louisiana? Here are some prices for you. Broccoli? 79-cents a pound. Carrots? 48-cents a pound. Pears, berries, apples, and plums? Free--they're all over the place just waiting for a passerby to pick them. Oats? Barley? Sunnies? Also cheap, cheap, cheap, esp in bulk.

I was sorry to hear that your whoopee department has a crimp in it, but if you were a man, I would be even sorrier because I just KNOW that it would HURT to have a crimp down in that area.

All that out of the way, please know how sad I am that you must live with such pain.

Snowbrush said...

Joe Todd: "What exactly is a raw food diet?"

It's pretty much what it sounds like. In my case, I put most everything (fruits, veggies, grains, etc.) into a blender all at once and make it into what some people call a smoothie.

pink dogwood said...

I wish I could somehow make your pain go away. My mom has arthritis and is in pain a lot.

I love a person who thinks these thoguhts

"I didn’t want it, but I was touched by how tenaciously it clung to life"

you are a good person snowbrush - but you already know that - right?

Be well my friend.

Marion said...

Snow, unfortunately, the cheapest place to buy food here is Wally World and honey, it ain't cheap. We do not have a Whole Foods or any co-op type of store. No, I do grow a few fresh vegetables for the summer, which we thoroughly enjoy, but it's hard to garden with my back, so it's a small garden. The old Catch-22! Yes, those crimps are a bitch. And to think we went though every position in "The Joy of Sex" twice in our youth! Thank God for memories...LOL! Feel better soon! Hugs & Blessings!

Snowbrush said...

pink dogwood: "My mom has arthritis and is in pain a lot."

First, thank you very much for your kind words.

When I was a boy, I thought that arthritis was just one more thing that old people found to whine about, and that it just wasn't that big a deal. Now, I know that it can be a REALLY big deal, and I can but be thankful that medicine has advanced as much as it has over the past several decades.

Marion, despite the apparently higher prices that you pay for food, I would bet that if you weigh those Lucky Charms (or any other heavily processed item--I hesitate to call such things food) and compare the price per pound and the nutritional content to unprocessed fruits and vegetables, the latter will come out cheaper. And, though I wouldn't want you to take me as an example, good food is your best bet for good health.

kj said...

hello snowbrush, you are a dear for saving that rubber plant. i am not one bit surprised. you SEE, snowbrush, and you know it.

i know about hip replacements and knee replacements but not shoulder replacements. trust or not, i hope you have gotten a post-surgical second opinion. i've worked in the area of chronic pain for a number of years. you don't need me to tell you to be careful with the vicodin. but tell me, if you want, why your surgeon says you are still in pain?

i hope in time your pain will deminish, like, one day you'll wake up and it won't be as it was.

xoxo

Gaston Studio said...

Did the rubber tree plant survive? I love that you rescued it and hope it has a place of honor in your home somewhere.

Raw food diet, hmmmm. We try to eat healthy but not just all raw food. However, considering the europhoria and lose of weight, might not be a bad idea to give it a try. I could lose 15 lbs!

I so agree with you that trusting your doc is half the battle. Sorry to hear there's still so much pain and so much medication, but ya gotta do, what ya gotta do. God bless Snow, God bless.

Michelle H. said...

Sorry to hear about your pain from the arthritis. I hope the surgery goes well for you.

Snowbrush said...

kj: "i hope you have gotten a post-surgical second opinion."

Mark is my 4th orthopedist, so you might say I got three pre-surgical opinions. Two of them told me I had arthritis in both shoulders, and one of those two told me I had tendon tears and impingement in both shoulders. I also have a growing number of radiology reports. The thing is that the doc has to go in an see with his own eyes to know how bad it is, and even then, he can't necessarily tell how much it bothers the patient. BTW, it's not Vicodin I'm on. I haven't taken anything that weak for awhile.

Gaston Studio: "Did the rubber tree plant survive?"

Despite being neglected, abandoned, and then repotted and heavily pruned, it is doing very well to far to my utter amazement. I had expected it to drop its leaves and die posthaste.

Hey, Michelle, thanks for coming by.

Snowbrush said...

Gaston Studio: "Raw food diet,..might not be a bad idea to give it a try. I could lose 15 lbs!"

Two things favor it for weight loss. One is that it is physically challenging to eat enough food to keep the weight on (chew, chew, chew). I offset this problem somewhat with the smoothies. The second is that, the more heavily processed a food is, the more calories (and nutrients) you absorb from it.

Renee said...

I hate that you are still in so much pain.

And more surgery, but what other choice do you have.

Honestly sometimes things are very hard.

But dear friend come over tonight and I will make sure that I do not open the bottle of importent rage.

Love Renee xoxoxo

rhymeswithplague said...

I'm so sorry about your continuing pain, Snow. My layman's opinion, for what it's worth, matches the doctor's: it's the arthritis. I don't have it, but Mrs. RWP certainly did, and was in agony. Since her two knee replacements and her one shoulder's torn rotator cuff repair, she feels good as new (okay, almost).

I hope they get to the bottom of whatever is causing your troubles soon. (I've heard that if your bottom were causing your troubles, you'd forget all about your shoulders -- not that I'm wishing that on you.)

Sonia ;) said...

(((((((HUGGING MY BUDDY))))))))
Im sorry u feel like shit...But I will walk the shit with ya my friend...

xoxoxoxoxoxox S

Snowbrush said...

Renee: "more surgery, but what other choice do you have?"

I know. I will just have to hang in there, and hope it gets better someday.

Rhymes:" It was a torn rotator cuff and impingement that I had surgery for in March. The doc later said that he had found significant arthritis.

Sonia: "But I will walk the shit with ya my friend..."

Let's just hope it doesn't get much deeper.

CreekHiker said...

Snow, My friend Kat who has had back pain since she broke her back as a teen, bought a temperpedic and had pretty much the same problems as you. It seemed to help and then got worse. She's back on a regular mattress.

Just_because_today said...

I hope you were not holding the tree in your bad shoulder.
I have had a few surgeries myself. (Don't you marvel at the fact that illness of whatever sort gives us something to talk to people about?)
my most recent left knee meniscus repair and still dealing with pain and unresolved issues. In my abdominal emergency surgery the doctor was a runner and had been up all night attending another surgery, when he said he was planning on racing after doing me I wondered if I was ever going to see the race results at all.

Thank you for your visit. I enjoyed your blog very much.

Snowbrush said...

CreekHiker, I'm so sorry about your friend's continuing pain. When Ted Kennedy died, I heard that he suffered similarly.

Just because today: "I hope you were not holding the tree in your bad shoulder."

They're both bad, but I did indeed hold it in the one that gives me the most trouble, as it is on the right, and I am right-handed.

Just because today: "my most recent left knee meniscus repair and still dealing with pain"

It took me about two years to get over mine, and I'm still not as good as I was. It's a lousy time to tell you, perhaps but the surgery yields no better results than physical therapy alone. Maybe that's counter-intuitive, but that's what studies show. So then, why do doctors keep doing it? Money, I suppose.

Bernie said...

Snowbrush, may I recommend Dr. Wayne Dyer's book, Excuses Be Gone. It is an excellent read and helped me tremendously with my crippling arthritis, breast cancer and diabetis. I am sure if you are willing to open your heart and mind to his words it can really help you. Good Luck my friend.

soulbrush said...

hello snow, i love that on between all this pain and frustration (which screams from your pages), you find the time to come over and visit. i am sure i said this before, i would love to send you some of my little cards.
i have also opened an etsy shop...and would love you to visit that too:
http://www.etsy.com/shop.php.userid=5498236
here is my e mail: jossross@yahoo.com
write to me...
there is a light at the end of the tunnel,after 6 years of pain and 7 surgeries in 4 years, i am fit and well and joyful. and i eat only raws, fruit veg, only water, i am 61, look 50 and feel 20, don't give up on that food, it is wonderful, just watch the acidic foods for any arthritis, oranges, tomatoes, condiments, alcohol.trusting in your doctor is paramount, stick with him, he will not let you down. xx

nollyposh said...

Sorry to hear about all that pain Snowbrush X:-(

All Consuming said...

Oh sweetie, what a time of it you are having. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to read and comment, I've felt rather odd mentally recently with all the grimness here. I wish I could write as eloquently and cohesively as you do about your pain and so enjoy reading your posts. Not enjoy reading about your pain hahaha, you get my drift I'm aure. I wish you strength and positivity and a continued excellent sense of humour. If we didn't laugh...for me there's always a funny side, though it can be rather after the fact sometimes.Take care, I envy your bike riding but I'm really chuffed you can do that, Michelle xxx

geek said...

About the rubber tree, come to the Philippines and people would surely appreciate and keep it and care for it. My grandpa planted a whole bunch of them in the farm.

I am very sorry about your pain. I wish you well in your surgery and relief from your pains soon. Take care!

Snowbrush said...

Bernie, I remember Wayne Dyer all the way back to "Your Erroneous Zones." After that he got a little too New Age for my taste, but I will look up the book you mentioned.

Soulbrush, I'll write to you at the address you provided.

Nollyposh, 'twas great to hear from you again.

All Consuming (MIchelle), I'm so glad you felt like coming round. I dreamed of you a couple of nights ago (only you were a black lab), and I woke up thinking about you this morning. I do not consider my little problems to hold a candle next to yours. You inspire me.

Geek, I wonder if it's the same kind of rubber tree (I just know there is more than one). Mine is what's called an India Rubber Tree, and it's the only kind that people keep in pots. I've read that it can reach 200 feet in its native Asia.

Diana said...

Isn't arthritis freakin' fun! I go Wed. for the knee. I've had eight shots in my hands but not the knee yet. They offered a year ago but I was to scared or to stubborn take your pick! Some days I just can't walk. And all I get is Darvocett! But onward we go right Snow? I do hope that you are able to get some relief soon.
How is your Rubber tree holding up? Better then us I hope!!
Love Di

Snowbrush said...

Diana, there are things other than steroids that are good for knee injections. Synvisc and related drugs act as lubricants for up to six months. As you can well imagine though, needles stuck deep into any major joint hurt, and a little numbing medication sprayed on your skin isn't going to make much difference. The good part is that the pain is over fast.

Darvocet sounds pretty weak for someone who hurts too much to walk. My orthopedist is willing to give me adequate pain relief, but I avoid taking the pills as much as possible, partly because I don't want to build up a tolerance (which, I've noticed, can happen amazingly fast), partly because they make me loopy, and partly because I'm afraid of the side-effects. Of course, not sleeping has some lousy side-effects too, so I do take them at night, although sparingly even then.

I hope your shot helps you.

The rubber tree is looking great, especially considering that I repotted it (I had no real choice there) and pruned it heavily. I thought for sure it would be dead by now.

Michelle said...

I wish I could make it go away for you Snow.
If you want to make sense out of Johns blog, you better go visit mine :)

Love to you xx

Rob-bear said...

Good that your rubber tree is going well.

Not so good that you're still in SO MUCH PAIN. Oxycodone is "strong medicine."I'm still having quite a few back problems, but these are self-inflicted (like cutting trees). But the job has to be done.

I'm eating a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit nowadays. Never particularly thought that might be connected to my 20-pound weight loss. Just doing a bit of an experiment with my doctor, in an attempt to clear up some chronic problems. Too soon to tell if this is working as intended.

rhymeswithplague said...

Snow, one thing my wife's orthopedic surgeon did during her rotator cuff repair was (a) scrape out all the arthritis and (b) snip off the end of the clavicle (collarbone). He said it was needed for protection of the shoulder joint as long as the bones were still growing, but once you a person was fully grown it wasn't needed. Don't know how or whether this applies to your case.

rhymeswithplague said...

I guess that's two things her surgeon did. Three, if you include repairing the rotator cuff.

Snowbrush said...

Michelle: "I wish I could make it go away for you... "

Thanks, Michelle.

Rob-bear: "Oxycodone is "strong medicine."

I also have Demerol and Dilaudid. Both them and Percocet are rated for moderate to severe pain, yet I find that even they don't help a lot if I let the pain get bad before I take them. It really is necessary to stay ahead of it.

Rob-bear: "I'm eating a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit.... Never particularly thought that might be connected to my 20-pound weight loss."

The less processed the food, the less able the body is to withdraw its nutrients--and calories. Two years ago, I lost so much weight dieting (about 20 pounds) in so short a time (about a month) that the surgeon I went to for hernia surgery freaked out and insisted on doing a lymph node biopsy. I let him, not realizing how big a deal it would prove to be. Yet, if you're not overweight to begin with (I wasn't, and you don't look like you were) 20-pounds is a lot.

Rhymes: "one thing my wife's orthopedic surgeon did during her rotator cuff repair was (a) scrape out all the arthritis and (b) snip off the end of the clavicle..."

Are you sure it wasn't the acromium that was snipped off, which is a bone on the end of the clavicle? I had that done, a tendon sewed back together, cartilage removed, arthritis nodules chiseled away, and holes bored in the bone ends to stimulate new cartilage growth. I had the same surgery your wife had, sounds like. The difference appears to be that her arthritis wasn't as advanced. I'm still looking at another surgery on the same shoulder, this time a joint replacement. it's just a question of when. If the steroid shot helps, I will just keep taking them (at the rate of 3 per year, max).

Snowbrush said...

Rob-bear, I will answer your emailed question here since others might be interested.

"I'm interested in your experience with Demerol. A long time ago, when I drove ambulance, we had Morphine, Demerol, and Codeine on board, to be used on a Doctor's orders. But Demerol fell into disfavour because of side-effects, and is rarely used anywhere in Canada now."

The one time I took a full dose, it knocked me on my ass for three days during which time I felt as if the life were draining from me. I was convinced during that time that if I took another such dose, I would die. I still take half doses occasionally simply to keep from building up too much of a tolerance to oxycodone. I don't think Demerol is often prescribed here in the U.S., but the doctor gave it to me when I complained about the god-awful itching that oxycodonee and hydrocodone caused.

Rob-bear said...

Interesting observations on Demerol,
Snow. Confirmed my understanding.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Best, from the Bear.

dirt clustit said...

Your high.... everyone knows that an ant can't move a rubber tree plant.

wait a minute friend

Actually because of your prescriptions all you have to do is hope and your bigger problem is now solved.

play lotto today cause I'm telling you, you are lucky. In fact on my way to work I'll buy you a ticket at the 7 11 across from market of choice (catty corner to the 76 station on 29th.

there will be a dollar power ball ticket for snowbrush there waiting.

If you do win that proves you are lucky and then your doctor will have to give you better odds than 20%

Dammit (the words made sense when i typed em) can you help me out here snowbrush.

Do you know what I'm saying?

Snowbrush said...

Dirt: "Dammit (the words made sense when i typed em) can you help me out here snowbrush."

No, not in the least. I have no idea what you are talking about, although I think you are my dead mother come back to steal my rubber tree (which came from 20th and Monroe or else 21st and Monroe--I would have to return to the spot to tell you for sure). But if you really did buy me a powerball ticket, I need to know who to talk to when I go to pick it up cause I don't want to go in there and ask for a ticket for Snowbrush, and the clerk ask, "Snow Who?" I also need to know if you want some of that money--would $50 suffice, or had you rather have a percentage, say 0.0001%? Either way, you will find me most generous. BTW, the rubber tree flourisheth despite its previous neglect and my severe pruning of it. I can scarcely believe it's even alive, yet it's putting out new growth and looking all sleek and shiny and content in its new home.

RNSANE said...

Snowbrush, I can so relate to your pain and you have my empathy! Over 25 years ago, as an O.R. nurse, at 40, with a 1 and 3-year-old ( and an 11-year-old ), I ended up slipping on hydraulic fluid that leaked from a table and, several months later, had a two level, bilateral laminectomy and fusion. A year and a half later, I finally went back to work in a child sexual abuse agency - though my husband had left.

Life, since,has always been a struggle but I survived, with chronic back pain. Now I have spinal stenois and cervical stenois, arthritis in both shoulders and just lost my job of 21 years in budget cuts to the Dept of Public Health. I don't want to have surgery again! Blogging helps and I do have great docs but I would have surgery only as a last resort.

Snowbrush said...

RNSANE, you certainly serve as an example of things going to hell on a slippery slope in a hand-basket, eh? I am so sorry you have to endure all of this. I have several bloggers who follow me--and I them--who have stories as bad if not much worse than my own, and they give me a great deal of strength just by letting me know what it is possible to live with. People kill themselves everyday who have less problems than millions of us who struggle bravely on. I think that, in myself, having known a degree of chronic suffering and disability has made me stronger so that I can survive that which would have once seemed untenable. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night hurting and despondent, even panicky. But there are times when through that negativity comes the resoluteness to not simply survive but to have a good life in spite of it all. And, believe me, I count my blessings, a lot.