Spring!!!

Happy Spring.  Just when we thought it wasn’t going to show it’s face, it comes.  And this weekend has been a beautiful weekend for being outside and working in the yard.  Naturally this morning I woke to a very painful back, but I took my celebrex,  some tylenol, and  started moving. I managed to make it back outside again, but didn’t do work that strained my back.

Mr. made his appearances outside as well – he washed our two cars and moved around a bit.  He is coming along from his spinal fusion.  His left leg was such a problem before surgery but he indicates that it’s much better and that is visible because he no longer drags his left leg when he walks.  He has a long way to go still and he’s trying to start getting back into the activities of his life.  I had taken him to a meeting this week and on the way home he mentioned how fatigued he was and that he was tired of being tired.  So I told him about being a Spoonie .  I know that my readers who have RA or another chronic illness are very familiar with the Spoon Theory and work hard at counting your spoons as I do. He listened to me and he didn’t think I was nuts, he said that he’d never heard it put that way, but it make perfect sense.  So now we are both Spoonies!!!

After missing last year’s ski season and most of this years ski season, I did manage to get to NH and skied 3 mornings.  It was pretty incredible – almost seemed like an outer body experience because my knees didn’t hurt!!!  I couldn’t believe that this was me skiing with NO pain at all.  I’ve skied with pain since 2000, so it was pretty incredible!!!

skiing 2018

This is part of the motley crew that I ski with – that’s me in the white.  As you can see, we’re not always a uniform group!!!  So I’m looking forward to next season and we have Switzerland in our sights.

Lastly I had a terrific lunch 3 weeks ago when I met Mary Ann of RA Style & Flare . We met through our blogs last year and discovered that we lived near one another, so we had a great lunch together.  I can’t tell you how comforting it is to meet someone who really knows what you feel and go through.  We definitely will be getting together again, but not until after Mary Ann has some surgery this week.  I’m wishing her good luck and am sure she will come through with Flying colors!!!

lunch with Mary Ann

Sometimes being a Spoonie can be OK!!!

Advertisements

Happy Easter

I’m not a very religious person but recognize that Easter is a time for renewal.  Happy Renewal to you, my readers.

How am I doing with all that’s gone on around me? It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve gotten it done.  Much the same way as I always have. By pushing every day.  My wrists hurt, my left shoulder barks at me every minute of every day. I’m going to get a cortisone shot next visit to the doctor.  I don’t want to have shoulder replacement surgery right now.

And Mr? He’s coming along and we see improvements every day.  He’s graduated mostly to a cane from his walker.  His pain is under control with 2 or 3 pain meds per day and Tylenol in between.  His spinal fusion involved 6 screws, 3 bars and a cage.  We will never get through  airport security easily again.

Wishing you all a nice day however you celebrate Easter or Passover.

Nursing 101. Or Mom 101

Wow.  I have learned alot in the past 10 days.  I always had respect for parents, and single parents specifically.  I had a good lesson this week on motherhood and nursing.

Mr. Phat had a spinal fusion last week.  We do not know exactly the specifics yet but there were at least 5 degenerative discs in the lumbar/sacroiliac area of his lower back.

It took a year to find the degenerative disc diagnosis.  What a frustrating medical tour exploring ALS, MS, Lyme Disease.  But we got here and fortunately were hooked up with the Chief of Spine surgery in the big hospital in our state.  The doctor said that it was ugly but he fixed everything and expects an excellent, but long, recovery.

There is an 8 inch scar down his back.  He had some seriously compressed nerves and several bulging discs.  No wonder he had trouble with stability and walking in general, with painful nerve tingling and numbness.

He preferred to come home over going to rehab and I agreed, knowing he would heal better in his home environment.  He came home Monday night and I never imagined how difficult it would be.  I’ve been the nurse, the maid, the chef, the receptionist and hauled wood for our wood stove because Mr. is always cold.

I don’t know how to dress someone.  Mr. Even had to explain a few things to me and said that it’s evident I was never a mom.  Or a candy striper.

And it’s been difficult and frustrating for Mr. He’s independent and needing to rely on someone for everything is not easy for him.  He’s in constant pain and has limited mobility.  His rehab is going to be lengthy.  But the light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter every day.

 

 

 

 

 

Good Morning

Long weekend for us for the President’s day holiday.  So happy to have the extra day to catch up on some chores, catch up on some rest and catch up on my blog.  It’s been a long time since I have updated my blog.  Mostly good because overall I feel OK.  The knees feels great.  Strong.  I walk alot.  I have been remiss at the gym, but am ready to head back there.

Seems that since my knees were replaced, RA has moved to other joints.  My right wrist hurts constantly as does my left shoulder.  The meds help, but right now they don’t seem to alleviate the pain as well as in the past.

There are other factors here at play.  I haven’t been as diligent with my eating as I should be.  Also, we’ve been playing doctor with Mr. Phat to try and learn what was ailing him.  We visited so many doctors and specialists, trying to determine what was causing his loss of mobility and severe pain.  Finally we learned that he had degenerative disc disease quite badly in his spine.  We even saw a neurologist who missed it.  He confirmed it wasn’t MS or ALS, but couldn’t find the disc degeneration.  It has been a frustrating 8 months.  We thought lyme disease, and then he had a bout with heart failure and had a hospital stay as a result and now this.  He is having surgery next month and so we hope there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s a long tunnel, but there’s a light.

Stress.  Probably the worst thing for RA pain.  And yes, the stress has crawled into my joints.  I keep reminding myself that this too shall pass.  And also it’s very nice that we were able to attend a dear niece’s wedding this weekend.  We still can get all fancied up and forget how much pain we are in.

2-17-18

2017 Health Insurance Tally

medical-billing-2

 

I suppose that I have no reason to really complain.  But my wallet is a bit tight this winter and I discovered some things that might help explain it.  I had to follow up with Blue Cross yesterday for an invoice I got for a recent doctor visit copay.  I thought that I had hit my maximum out of pocket costs for the year since one doctor had sent me a check for $25 to cover an overpayment.  I told the doctor’s office that when she asked for a $40 copay.  Well shortly after the visit I got the invoice.  I learned that the billing department didn’t check with Blue Cross, but rather just billed the copay.  Blue Cross called the billing service to tell them that I didn’t owe it.  That actually got me a bit angry that the billing department didn’t even check with Blue Cross, but they just invoiced me.  How many people have paid medical bills that they don’t owe?

In the course of my discussion with Blue Cross, they indicated that our maximum out of pocket was $13,700 and I had actually overpaid it by $200.  Of course Blue Cross doesn’t have that money they said, I have to wait for the doctors offices to reimbursement.

I won’t hold my breath waiting for THAT to happen!!

Additionally, I pay $2422 annually toward my health insurance.  I participate in all the office wellness requirements which reduced my contributions.  They also do help with the $5000 per person deductible, so I didn’t pay all of that $13,900 out of my pocket.  In addition, it just took Mr. Phat 29 days to get approval for a test that 3 doctors and one physician’s assistant want to see the results of to try to diagnose what’s causing him neurological problems.  So we will be most likely starting the year facing a $5000 deductible.

We are fortunate to have great health coverage and so I usually try not to complain, but this year has hit the wallet more than normal.

Hoping that 2018 will bring better health for us and for all of you!!!

Annual Fall Celebrations

Good morning friends.  Hope your Thanksgiving was pleasant and peaceful.  We had a busy weekend with family and were happy on Sunday afternoon to sit and watch football.  However, by Monday morning it was obvious that I needed to see my doctor because I’d been coughing for 10 days and it wasn’t getting better.  He diagnosed my annual fall upper respiratory infection with bronchitis.  I’m home on the couch with my Zpak and cough syrup with codeine.  Still coughing but maybe a bit better.

We took our annual trip to Chicago this fall and I was proud of my steps on one of the days.  7.45 miles with a knapsack on my back.

Screenshot_20171128-100958

I walked the whole city that day and not only did it feel good, I felt great the next day as well.  So I think that the knees are healing very nicely.  Ski season opened over the weekend (another fall annual tradition), and I hope to hit the easy slopes late February for some skiing.

Mr. Phat’s heart has strengthened and he’s feeling better in that respect.  Two heart procedures, an extended hospital stay and new medications and he’s doing very well.  However, he still has nerve pain on the left side of his body.  We thought he had Lyme Disease, but now we’re not so sure.  We’re thinking it’s some degenerative discs in his neck and back.  We’ve seen a pain management specialist and see a spine specialist later this week.  Seems we are finally on the right road for him after many many months of searching.  Let’s hope.

 

Pink Promises

IMG_0547.

Photo from 2015 – Team Fascione: Son in Law Jason, Chris’s daughter Alicia holding granddaughter Molly, grandson Landon, Chris and me.  

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The color pink dominates many events and perhaps some people feel oversaturated by Pink.  Not so for families who’s lives have been forever changed by Breast Cancer.  My family is one of those families.  My husband Chris lost his wife to Breast Cancer in 1994.  In 1993 Chris and Nancy participated in a fledgling breast cancer walk at India Point Park where they proudly raised $62.  Nancy passed away 10 months later, but Chris kept walking.  Every year since he has walked in her memory because he made a promise to himself that he would.  Some years he would say that this might be his last year, but then when October came around, he remembered his promise.  This year will be his 25th, most of those years with his daughter and her family and I’ve participated the last decade. 

This has not been an easy year for Chris.  He has visited the hospital three times with heart issues and recently had a procedure that we hope is a permanent  fix to his heart.  He also is struggling with lyme disease, which has been debilitating.  As October approached, he knew that he wasn’t up to walking in the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.  I reminded him last week that he orchestrated a very nice golf outing for the Realtor Board that he is President of and there are generous donations going to Habitat for Humanity and the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, a local Rhode Island organization that does wonderful work with families dealing with Breast Cancer.  I suggested to Chris that generous donation could suffice for his Pink Promise this year.  

The reason I love this man is because he is a man of his honor.  He wants to keep his Pink Promise this year.  He can’t walk, but I sure can.  I have TWO NEW KNEES!!!!  So we will have our leader cheering us on from the sidelines this year, but the rest of us will walk to honor Nancy and all the families who’s lives have forever been changed by Breast Cancer!!  Think Pink.

Fascione group donation page