Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Category: VA (page 1 of 4)

22-24Aug18: Catch-Up

I had a busy day Wednesday (22nd). I had to go to the VA for an appointment and other things. Also had gaming to do. Didn’t do MTG, ’cause I got out of the VA too late to do it, but I did do Pathfinder.

Thursday was an exhaustion day. Put myself to bed but couldn’t sleep. Was productive, though I can’t remember everything I did. Worked on D&D stuff. Also did the day’s D&D session, introducing Daz’s character. Came home, read incomplete wips, then went to bed.

Did nothing on Friday. Got up, ate breakfast, took nap, had some more food, went to bed. Was still tired from Thursday, I guess.

Here’s Weds and Thurs

Rolegaming Dice!

Chessex Sea Dice from Oasis Games.

I completely zoned writing Wednesday’s post before going to bed, and Thursday I was just too tired to care.

Not sure what time I got up on Wednesday, though I had plenty of time to prepare for my Wednesday afternoon and evening gaming sessions. Did I do this? Noooot completely. I was all prepared for MTG, so there’s that. JJ, Cayden, Greg, and Daz came to play as well, though JJ only observed, I think because they had something they wanted to go to at the pride center before our gaming session ended, because he left early. The rest of us finished the session, then Greg departed and Daz, Cayden, and I started setting up for Pathfinder with Phil, who’d arrived before we quite finished our last MTG game.

We set up to play Pathfinder, and I realized I’d forgotten my dice for role gaming. I mean all my sets of dice, so I had to go get another set from the store. Just as we got settled in the room, one of the store’s managers came to chat with us. Apparently, Wednesday night is their Adventurers League. Also, the other room had been rented already, and the store was hosting I think a Pokémon event in the tourney area. The store was also otherwise busy, but the manager said he’d do whatever he could to ensure we could game that night. Nicholas went out of his way to get us tables and chairs and a power strip for us to plug our electronics in—because Daz uses his computer for the books—and arranged them near the cafe. This took all of about 10 minutes, and we settled in to game. Afterward, Daz and I found Nicholas and thanked him again for going out of his way to ensure we could play our game. He told us that he was brought to Oasis Games specifically to ensure their customers were treated well, and that he was happy he was able to find a solution that allowed us to game and have a good time.

Back at home, Daz and I hung out for a few hours before he went home to bed.

On Thursday, I got up with just enough time to feed and water Hendrix and scoop out his litter; and to take my prebreakfast meds. I even left half an hour later than I usually do because I just couldn’t pull myself out of bed on time. Even with that, I got to the VA with time to spare and had an hour wait for my appointment, which I didn’t mind much (the sitcom they had playing on their TV now, is another matter – LOL). Saw the podiatrist, though, and she gave me some advice on diabetic foot care, prescribed some special creams/lotions for my feet, and ensured I had plenty of their special between-toe pads to carry me through the next I don’t know how long. The doc said I could get rid of the crutches the last week of this month, but that I’ll probably need to keep buddy taping my toes for up to a year to prevent swelling.

Came home and laid down for a while, but didn’t actually nap. Got up to putter around the apartment doing idling nonsense. Stuff that I’d have done anyway at some point, but which wasn’t imperative I do right then when I had other things that needed doing and wanted to get done but had no interest in doing.

Oddly, at around 18:00, I started to feel a bit more energetic. Wanted to make dice pouches for two sets of my dice, so I excavated my fabric bits and ribbons . . . then realized Daz still had my sewing kit. So, instead, I made a search for my crochet threads. Four times at least. Could not find them and considered what I may have done with them to remember that I put them all downstairs. I know better than to do stuff like that! LOL As a result, I idled for the next few hours doing nothing in particular.

Daz came over after his Thursday night game and brought my sewing kit back. He’d also picked up a couple packets of penny sleeves for me. While chatting, we sleeved my cards with my graphic sleeves in the penny sleeves, and played Uno. He introduced me to a couple acts that appeared on America’s Got Talent, and we munched Doritos. A good night overall. Finally called it quits a little after 04:00.

CPAP Appointment

Scrub-a-dub-dub.

Cleaning MTG card sleeves!

Monday, I had my CPAP appointment. This is a machine that helps me sleep well at night, as I have sleep apnea. I forget what the breathing interruption rate was the night they did my initial test, but I do recall them coming in about halfway through and putting a mask on me and letting me go back to sleep. The remainder of the night, I had fewer interruptions, and I woke up feeling more refreshed and better rested than I had in I think years. Since then, I’ve had a CPAP machine.

Today was an interim appointment. It’s necessary that I go in to review my stats and everything once a year, or I may lose the machine. These appointments were hard to get a few years ago, and this past year they got even harder to make. My usual visit month was late March in previous years. This time, I had to wait until this month, July, before an appointment I could make it to opened up—and I made this appointment back in January, I think.

I went in, as always, really early. Well, even earlier for an appointment than usual. My appointment was for 15:00, but I didn’t actually get in to see the guy until almost half past. I was, to say the least, disgruntled about the tardiness of my appointment. However, things quickly turned around. The Physicians Assistant I spoke with told me I’m doing well with my machine and put me in a program where I won’t have to go in every year. Instead, each year, sometime around my birthday, they’ll call me and we’ll do this appointment over the phone. He also, at my request, put in an order for a new mask specifically for women, which I’ve needed for years but nobody else seemed to know what the bloody crap they were doing. I’m really looking forward to getting that mask, because the straps are supposed to be smaller, so it should fit better for a longer period than the standard men’s headstraps have been. Seriously—I get those things usually and I immediately have to adjust it to a size that makes further adjustment almost impossible because the straps for men’s heads are so big. My mask’s leak rate wasn’t what I thought it should be, because it doesn’t fit well with the larger strap. I asked the guy to make sure it’ll be delivered to the local UPS store as they don’t usually deliver to my building, and explained the whole situation with the broken intercom.

So I left his office a happy patient.

Getting home took pretty much forever, because the afternoon’s driver of the U Campus VA Shuttle drove it at a snail’s pace and went pretty much everywhere else on the VA campus before finally picking up those of us waiting at the front entrance. Most other drivers do the speed limit and go to the main entrance first. But he finally showed up, and I climbed the stairs with my crutches while he lifted two men with walkers into the vehicle. One more passenger caught us and we were off . . . at a crawl. The driver was kind enough to lift me out of the shuttle bus because I seriously doubted my ability of descending those stairs with crutches. We caught the train that was already at the station.

Back home, I had a stress headache from the emotional ups and downs of the day, so I idled in WG and MeWe chat with friends. Josh was in WG, and Kit came into MeWe after he got off wok. I wanted to work on GIMP, but didn’t have the mentality for it. The chats were good, though, and I eventually cleaned 20 of my Feline Ferocity deck’s sleeves while chatting with Josh and Jam in WG. I think Kit went to bed a while ago, which I understand completely. He spent something like 3 or so hours out in the incredible heat fetching carts.

So I’m up past midnight and not at all tired yet. We’ll see what time I get to bed tonight. Will definitely be sleeping in, though. Oh, and I still have to set my CPAP up again—it’s still in its carry case in my backpack. LOL

Sorry for the Silence

Broken Toe!

Toes, buddy-taped.

After all the worry over JJ, I was a bit emotionally worn out, so that’s why I didn’t post Friday. But I have good news! JJ’s doing fine. He was just in the hospital, and they don’t give out patient info without a code that I didn’t have. He contacted me Friday to say he was out, and apologized for standing me up over the Aviary visit. I assured him I didn’t care about that as much as I cared about his health and safety. At his suggestion, we’ve rescheduled for this Thursday, but I may have to cancel depending on what Podiatry says about my foot.

But before that, an update on Saturday.

I awoke Saturday morning with an absolutely incredible sinus headache. It felt like a horse had stepped on my head and was so bad that being vertical made it hurt more. I did only what I absolutely had to do, including taking some DayQuil, and returned to bed. Then, around 10:00, I contacted my friends to cancel gaming since the headache hadn’t really abated any. After another hour, I was bored out of my mind and got up anyway, but I wasn’t really functional. After another dose of DayQuil, though, things got better. I managed to write a bit. Still, I was in bed by 21:00 Saturday night.

So now, the reason why I’m waiting to see what Podiatry says about my foot (this is pretty much a paste from what I typed over at MeWe for my friends, cause I’m tired of retelling this story to everyone who asks):

On my way to Oasis Games to play D&D with Kit and some other friends today, my right foot slipped on some water coming out of the planters in front of Café d’Bolla, which is on the ground level of the Stoneground building. My left toe caught me, and I didn’t end up having a worse fall (which would have been on at least 1 knee, if that had happened). Instead of going in to the hospital right away, I thought, “Oh, it’s just a slight sprain and will be fine if I ice it.”

So I got to Oasis and grabbed a bag of ice that the barista there was more than happy to give me and went to the room where we usually game with Lynn. While I waited for everyone to arrive, I iced my toe. It didn’t hurt too much while I was seated, so I didn’t think anything of it. Well, over the course of the afternoon, my toe developed that purple bruise across the top. Walking on it was painful, but not excruciating (me forgetting that I have a high pain tolerance most of the time).

Like I usually do after gaming Sundays, I waited with my friend Kit for his ride to come get him. While we waited Kit suggested that I go in to the hospital to have my toe looked at. Regarding that bruise and the pain I was in while afoot, and the fact that I couldn’t move the toe, I decided to listen and asked if his father would be willing to drive me up to the VA. Kit sent a text to his father, who didn’t respond to it. When his father arrived, Kit promised to make his father take me and went to go hop in the car, then they came around to pick me up.

Klaus drove me to the VA hospital, and I had him drop me off at the front door and hobbled into the ER. Immediately after checking in, a guy who was short of breath arrived, and he was seen first, but I didn’t much mind. I’d gotten a seat in one of the funky wheelchairs they have all over the VA, and was content to wait since I was the only other patient in the ER at the time.
Shortly after getting the short-of-breath man into the ER, the nurse, Uta (German name I’m not sure on spelling; sounds like “Yoo-tah”) took my vitals and wheeled me right up to Radiology, where a tech named Demarcus (sp may be wrong) took me in for x-rays. About five mins later, I was on my way back to the ER with Uta.

She took me to what was apparently the only room that was in any way neat, put ice on my toe, and went to fetch the doc. He looked at it, and explained that there was a crack right beneath the bruise, then told me to keep it iced. He also told me my sandal was perfect for wearing, because all that he’d do was give me a similar type of medical shoe, and told me he’d prescribe a painkiller and have the nurse buddy-tape my toe. Uta returned after he left, buddy-taped my toe, and got me a pair of crutches along with everything I’d need to do the tape job myself.

Uta pushed me in the wheelchair to the pharmacy and I showed the tech there my VA ID card, then while I waited, I adjusted the grips on my new crutches. There were a young woman and her brother there, and I asked them kindly to please take the wheelchair I’d come in back to the front of the hospital since there was no way I’d be able to manage it with 2 crutches, and she agreed. They left with the chair, and I got my -codone med, and hobbled back out to the hospital’s entry and called a cab.

The Cab drove me home, and that’s the story. Doc said he’d have Podiatry call me for an appt later this week, and I watched Uta’s procedure with my toes to make sure I could tape ’em up again later. But that’s it!

VR&E Update 1

I have seen my VR&E counselor again. The last time I saw her, we weren’t able to determine what educational track may be best for me; all we did was eliminate Medical Coding and Billing from my roster. We also checked into some other educational tracks, even looking at getting me into online courses for a degree in library science (art—I’ve forgotten which), but the only course which could have helped me get a job at the local City Library was out of state and would have required me to move because they didn’t have any online courses for it the degree.

Between my appointments, since we’d eliminated my primary educational “desire” as well as the library one, I forwarded to Michele a list of other courses I could take that someone else at the VA emailed to me some year or more ago. Then, I did some more research for other jobs I could acquire skills for with relative speed and ease with little success.

At least, not until the 4th Sunday of January, just before my appointment with Michele. On the way home from our Square Dance Club meeting, I discussed with my ride her accounting job. Mandi’s a tax accountant, and I was vaguely considering this as a possible educational track. What she had to say about it disappointed me, but then she said something else which gave me a lot of excitement: they have certificates in the accounting and bookkeeping field. I didn’t have much chance to research this over the next couple of days before seeing Michele, but I had at least something else to discuss with her.

I arrived at Michele’s office well-rested an hour ahead of time, and she got me in a little early. We briefly discussed the medical-aligned careers whose course list links I’d forwarded to her, then mentioned what Mandi had said on the way home from the meeting. Michele happily looked this up for me, and we found an associates degree program as well as a program for a Certificate of Proficiency in general accounting and bookkeeping.

Michele told me that she wants me through school as quickly as possible, because the older I get, the harder it’ll be for me to find work. I added that my big blank space in terms of lack of working for the past several years was another strike against me, and she verified that. She told me that she likes the Certificate of Proficiency program because it looks like it’ll be something quick—I can get the certificate within two years, even if, as I suggested may happen, I’m placed in remedial math by the community college. Michele seemed to think this sort of timeline was possible even if I took classes only part time, as it has been suggested by others in the VA who are familiar with my mental health issues, and I told her that I planned on going to school continuously from beginning to end without taking summer breaks because I find it difficult to get back into the swing of things after an extended break and I also wanted to finish the program as soon as possible—because, why not? There is absolutely no reason for me to waste time in school when I have gads of free time on my hands.

One thing I did forget to mention to her was the fact I’m very concerned about living when I’m in school. I’m fairly certain I’ll lose all my SSDI, and I’ve been warned my VA Pension will disappear to be replaced with a stipend. When I got home, I immediately emailed Michele with this concern, suggesting it may be wise for me to see if I can get transferred to VA Compensation, since I know I’m eligible for that with my 20% disability with my knees.

So, I’m to go this week to the community college and find out if they start classes for the Certificate of Proficiency more frequently than every semester, and I need to get up to the VA to see if I can be transferred to the Compensation program.

VR&E Program

I mentioned, briefly, in last week’s no-post announcement that I’d been out to an appointment up at the VA. This appointment was the result of my previous application, late last month, for Chapter 31, or the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. I had to go in to orientation, then to see a case worker who helped me determine my eligibility for the program.

My appointment was for 8:45 in the morning. The building it was in up at the VA didn’t open until 8:30, and I arrived about 30-45 minutes early. It was a cold, rainy, snow-flurry morning, but I was well bundled. Several VA employees apologized for not letting me in out of the cold, but Security didn’t start work until close to 8:30, so I couldn’t be let in. I also refused to enter when offered by one person who seemed to desperately want to get me out of the cold, but I didn’t want to get anyone into trouble, and I didn’t know if the lobby was video-monitored when the guards were off duty, so I refused. It was fine, though. Not windy at all, so it wasn’t like I was frozen. Security arrived at about 8:25 and let me in at the same time, and I passed through the metal detector.

Since I hadn’t slept, I’d stopped by the coffee shop in the hospital and picked up a couple bottles of caffeinated soda. I drank about half of one while waiting for orientation to start, and one other applicant arrived while I waited. At 8:45 or so, we were invited into a small meeting room, where we watched a video, someone gave a slide presentation describing the steps we’d take through the VR&E program, then a liaison between the VR&E program and the local State Employment Office spoke with us about what she could help us with.

Afterward, my fellow applicant and I went off to meet our caseworkers. This was the step where we determined my eligibility. This required being able to answer three specific questions with a decided “no.” For me, all three of these questions were correctly answered, which means I qualify for the program. Michele, my case manager, went over my work history and made copies of my college transcripts, and I explained to her (because I thought she might want to know) the reason why I did so poorly in classes was because I’d gone to college after high school “because that was what you did” and that I had no idea what I was going for, so wasn’t committed, and thus didn’t apply myself.

I also told her I’d researched things and determined that Medical Coding and Billing might be the right career for me. We discussed options for education—she wasn’t sure if the local Community College’s Medical Coding and Billing course had certification, so mentioned that Intermountain Health Care periodically partnered with the University of Utah to present Medical Coding and Billing courses in which I would be trained to use IHC’s specific programs. I was willing to consider this and told her so, and she told me she’d look things up, but that I needed to perform an Assessment Exam first. This concluded our meeting, with Michele promising to send me the link and login and password she created for the Assessment.

I went home, zoned for the rest of the day, and then went to bed. Wednesday, I rose, and I found in my email the link and information my case manager had promised for the Assessment Exam, and performed it. After I finished, I told her I’d done it and went on with my writing.

Friday, Michele asked me to come in Monday, so I replied that I would and went in yesterday, arriving, as usual, early. She took me in early, and she we discussed my reactions to high-stress situations and she mentioned a friend of hers who manages the billing office of a hospital or clinic. According to Michele, this friend has had to cut hours or fire employees during times when there isn’t much work, and there are periods where there is a rush to get billing information out. While Billing and Coding isn’t always a high-stress job, there are times when it does involve high stress, and Michele felt it wasn’t the correct career option for me for that reason.

So we did some research online. Michele had previously worked up in Idaho with their labor division and used an assessment form they had online to help me develop a list of possible careers and jobs which I might be able to gain training for. Unfortunately, most of what we found didn’t have any educational opportunities locally. We finally discovered a possible career for me: Library Assistant.

Research led us to an online educational program which would bring me up to an Associates or Bachelors degree for Library Science. Career opportunities here in my city and county had a good outlook. Michele assigned me the goal of contacting the City Library, whose main branch I live two blocks away from, and sent me on my way. When I got home, I contacted the library asking for links to Volunteer and Career opportunities and educational requirements.

This morning, I received a note from an administrative assistant at the library. He provided links to their career and volunteer opportuinties, then told me that they weren’t looking for any Volunteers at this time. His further advice, specifically for getting a paid position, was for me to get a Masters of Library Science degree.

I contacted Michele with this information, and checked my email a while ago to find her suggested solution. Essentially, I’m to check the Library’s site for Volunteer positions for the next few weeks, primarily because she didn’t see any indications the online course she found for Library Assistant made it possible to get a Masters Degree in Library Science online. She told me she knows for a fact a Veteran with no degree was hired on at the City Library, so I think she believes I can Volunteer my way into a paid position, which I’m not averse to doing at all.

Salpingo-Oophorectomy

This entry is part 42 of 44 in the series Breast Cancer Posts

That. That title right there is the official name of the type of surgery I had last Tuesday. I had a double-case of it—both my fallopian tubes and ovaries were removed. I’d like to say I have exceedingly clear memories of events leading up to the surgery and following, but the truth is, I don’t.

I do recall arriving at the hospital at about 6:45 AM for my 7 o’clock surgery prep time, and was taken back to my little prep “room” early. Here, I do recall some things. Mom was with me, for one; they allowed her to come back with me. The little prep “rooms” are rooms only in name. In the ward, they line up against an outer wall of the hospital, so they all have windows. I’m not sure what the view is, but Mom noticed a tall building and made a jokey comment about people spying people undressing for surgical prep, and I told her all the hospital’s windows are reflective on the outside; she didn’t close the blinds, so I guess she believed me.

I got dressed in the hospital gown and the funky socks with grip treads on top and bottom they provide for keeping feet warm. I don’t know about anyone else who goes into surgery at the VA, but I’m always very glad for those socks, ’cause my feet get cold easily. Nurses hooked me up to an IV, checked my vitals, went over my allergies (none). I was starving by this time, but I couldn’t eat because they didn’t want me choking in case stuff came up, and the last time I’d had anything to drink was a small sip of water around 5:30 or so, to take the morning meds that had been approved by Dr. Rose. I should mention here that I hadn’t been taking my multivitamin for about a week because it has a high dose of Vitamin E and that’s a blood thinner, but I did take my Calcium and D3 as well as my morning antacid, bladder pill, and levothyroxine. I didn’t take my morning Ziprasidone because I need to take it with food, or it won’t work like it should; it’s a booster dose, anyway, so missing it one morning wasn’t so bad.

After they finished prepping me for surgery, they wheeled me into the surgical room. I didn’t get much chance to notice things, so I don’t want to say too much about it. I wiggled onto the surgical bed and was out before they even got the things they put on my lower legs to keep circulation going on me. They were not messing around.

I came to in recovery a few hours later. My lower abdomen hurt, an internal kind of pain that felt like an incredible stitch in my side that would not go away. Once they saw I was awake, they discussed with me the possibility of sending me home, and I explained (again) that Mom couldn’t stay with me because she had to go home to her dog, and I couldn’t stay at her place because she has nowhere to put me. No way in hell was I going to try to wrangle myself into and out of a low bed consisting primarily of an inflatable double-high mattress. They said they’d have to keep me overnight, to monitor my condition because of my CPAP machine, and asked if I’d brought it, and I explained Mom had it. Then they had to see if they could find me a room to stay the night in, and I suspect they were extremely relieved when they could.

They wheeled me down a hall, and we picked Mom up on the way. She explained to the nurses about everything again, because they asked her as well, and they got me into the room I would spend the night in. Mom half-folded her little aluminum-and-fabric grocery cart, taking my CPAP (in its carry case) out to set in the bottom front of the narrow locker where the nurses told her to put it, then hung out a bit to make sure I was comfortable. When lunch came, Mom took her leave so I could concentrate on eating and resting.

Now, getting up and laying down were challenges, but I had to shuffle my butt to the little bathroom (not shared with any other rooms, yay!) to try to void my bladder, which was another thing they were monitoring, to make sure the anesthesia didn’t have any severe side effects. Getting up (still) includes rolling onto one side or the other so I can dangle my legs over the edge of the bed. Then I push myself up with my arm, until I’m seated upright. Next is actually rising and that was actually about the most pleasant part of the entire experience, even though I felt (and still feel) a bit of a burn in the right side of my abdomen. Laying down, I sit within two feet of my pillow and tip to the side where the pillow is while swinging my legs onto the bed. All this effort really does help avoid a lot more pain.

Dr. Rose came in to see me after I’d eaten lunch and checked up on me, then explained she’d be in the next day to discharge me. After that, I was left mostly to myself. On a number of different excursions to the little bathroom, I fetched first my mp3 player, then books and the sandwich I’d brought out of the closet. At bedtime, I got my CPAP out, but couldn’t find the Smart Water bottle I’d filled with distilled water. I ate supper, and the nurses brought me snacks to have with my medications.

One thing I’ll say here: Dr. Rose listened. I explained that I likely wouldn’t take any narcotics prescribed, and she asked what I would take, then prescribed me ibuprofen from that list.

They had someone from Pulmonary come up to set up my CPAP, and he brought sterile water for my machine, which was good. I’ve still got the bottle of sterile water; they let me bring the remainder home. I actually slept better than I thought I would. I was the only one in the room, and I shut off the other side’s light, but left mine on (but turned up to face the ceiling), and a nurse apparently came in at some point because when I woke up at 5:00AM the next day, my bed’s light was off, and the one for the vacant space on the other side of the room was on. I had breakfast (it had been so long since I last had bacon, it actually tasted good), then while I waited for Mom to arrive, I put my CPAP back in its case and took everything I pulled from the little closet (I’d eaten the sandwich sometime around midnight because I woke up with an empty stomach—I can’t get to sleep deeply if I don’t have something in my tummy) into Mom’s folding cart (it’s very lightweight).

The nurses were pretty pleased I was moving around so much. Dr. Rose came to discharge me, then Mom arrived and I got dressed. Apparently, Dr. Rose doesn’t do a lot of discharges, because there was some difficulty with the paperwork, but the nurses let us go with the promise they’d get her to finish it up; they said they had her verbal go-ahead for me to depart, so I was free to go. I suspect Mom would have tried to march me right out of the hospital whether or not I had permission to leave, though. LOL

Now, as for my wounds. I have three small incisions. One on each side, on the lower curve of my belly (I’m rather fat), and one in my belly button. The wounds themselves don’t hurt that much (unless I lean against the edge of my kitchen counter too hard on my belly-button one), but what really hurts me is the right interior. Dr. Rose said she had no complications from the surgery, so I doubt the pain comes from any difficulties she had removing my right ovary and fallopian tube; it just hurts more because it just does. It’s a kind of burning sensation, and if I”m not careful, it’ll flare up. It doesn’t like me using the toilet, or getting into bed, or out of bed. Coughs for the first couple days after the surgery were hell, but now sneezes are killer if I don’t have a chance to curl up around my abdomen so the muscles aren’t strained. No, I don’t have a cold; my throat was phlegmmy after the surgery because of the breathing tube they put to my lungs, and I have pollen allergies and my windows here at home open, so I’m sneezing when the wind kicks up. All in all, though, the pain isn’t so bad; it’s only intermittent, and it decreases a little more each day.

Wow, I guess I remembered more than I thought I did. LOL

Adventures in Arranging April’s Oncology Appointment

This month is my quarterly checkin with my oncologist, only it’s going to be a bit different this time. The 17th is my typical day for going in and seeing her, and getting my injection, but I’ll only be going in for the injection on the 17th this month.

My regular Oncologist, Dr. Colonna, will be out for maternity leave when I come in for my injection. This necessitated the arrangement of an appointment with a substitute doctor, and that is a story in itself. If I look closely at the printout of all my upcoming VA appts, I can remember the mess arranging this appointment—and that for this month’s injection—turned out to be.

First, back in January, I made my standard appointment with my regular Oncologist and at the same time, for the same date—the 17th—arranged to have my injection done. Perfectly normal. Two or three weeks later, the VA called me to notify me that Dr. Colonna would be out and why, so I willingly rescheduled to see the substitute Oncologist on the same day. Then, a couple days later, they called again to tell me that doc would be out until the following week, so I rescheduled both appointments for the 22nd at 1400 (2pm) and 1430 (2:30pm) respectively. After that, a couple days later, I remembered my usual days for going in for the injection were for the 17th, because it’s a three-month dosage, and I wasn’t sure it would be wise to wait a full week after that date for the next injection, so I called the VA to reschedule my injection back to the 17th. Then, in a “may your life be interesting” in the curse kind of way, someone else at the VA (we suspect in central scheduling, which is different from AMU scheduling, where the Oncology visits and injections are done) canceled the substitute Oncology visit I’d made for the 22nd.

I was not notified of this cancellation. I discovered it on a previous printout after a mental health or physical therapy visit. So, I called the VA’s AMU people again and asked why this had been done. What I learned was that my substitute Oncologist wasn’t coming back the week of the 22nd—she was going to be out until the week of the 29th. So that’s when I rescheduled my appointment with her. While I was on the line with the AMU people, I asked why I hadn’t been notified of the cancellation, and that’s when it was determined someone in central scheduling had done it—a notification had popped up on their computer that my appointment was during a period of time when the Oncologist I was to see would be away, and the scheduler canceled it, then forgot to call and notify me of the cancellation; apparently the specific clinics don’t receive this notification, only central scheduling, and I think that’s because we Vets are supposed to do all our phone-scheduling via central, not directly with the clinics.

All I can say about this is that it’s a damn good thing I go in only every three months. It gave me plenty of time to straighten this mess out! LOL

PT Visit #3

Today, I had my third PT appointment. No, this isn’t the most exciting thing to happen to me recently, but I’m keeping the other thing under wraps until I see how far it progresses, but rest assured that other thing was something good. So was this Physical Therapy appointment.

Right up front, I admitted to Scott that I hadn’t been doing the exercises he assigned me in December regularly—and why. My sleeping’s been screwed up due to a prolonged manic phase. Now, I didn’t realize until yesterday what was feeding into my sleeplessness. That was when I checked the My Healthy Vet site to order some meds. Now, about two weeks ago, I checked the site to make sure meds I’d thought I’d ordered at the beginning of the month were on their way, and the pharmacy section offers delivery tracking. When I saw the red buttons on my medication orders, and those orders were for the meds I currently need refills of, I thought this was an indication that the medications were on their way.

Two weeks ago.

Yesterday, I checked the site again to see why I hadn’t gotten a delivery of medications last week when I finally realized they should have come in long before now. This time I actually clicked the Tracking button—and discovered the buttons are there from December’s shipment of medications. One of these medications I’d thought I’d ordered is my daytime 40mg of Geodon. I’ve now been without this medication for about a week and a half. Now, my manic phase began about two weeks ago, but it’s been given a bit of a boost due to my lack of my daytime psych med. This is why I haven’t been sleeping.

And, yes, I’ve made sure I ordered all the meds I need, including the 40mg Geodon capsules. LOL

Honestly, I’m glad it was only the 40mg of my Geodon that’s missing from my my daily meds. I can skate by without it, though the timing could have been better this time.

Anyway, I explained this situation to Scott, and he didn’t chew me out. I fully expected to get a stern reprimand about keeping up with my medications better. The thing is, when I’m in manic phases, I don’t sleep as much or as well as I need to, and that effects my arm right now. For the past couple weeks, I’ve had about three or four sleepless nights, and they all adversely effected my arm to the point where, more than one day after those sleepless nights, I was thrown back to doing the exercises the emergency room doc I saw back in November showed me. Seriously. I could move my arm only a limited amount side-to-side, or back-and-forth while standing bent over for a number of days the past few weeks. And, just when I’d get enough mobility to do the exercises Scott assigned me in December, I’d have another night where I didn’t get tired (and thus didn’t go to bed), or where I went to bed but couldn’t sleep—and those threw my arm back into a limited range of movement.

I assured Scott I’d ordered my medication yesterday, which pleased him. I like the fact that he didn’t let himself get distracted with reprimands and admonishments, even though I deserved them. He just outlined a number of new exercises for me. He did as he’d done before, and tested my range of movement, then stretched the affected muscle a bit himself. After ensuring I had all the equipment I needed—he gave me another elastic band and told me to use a can of soup as a weight for one of my exercises—he printed up the instructions for them and sent me on my way with a request I see him in three weeks. I did tell him I may have jury duty, and he told me to reschedule my appointment if I get called, joking that I won’t be arrested for missing a PT appointment.

I may post the exercises he gave me next week.

PT Follow-Up #1

I had my first Physical Therapy follow-up last Tuesday. I was a bit overwhelmed after the visit, and I couldn’t concentrate well enough to write about it, so I posted something I’d written ahead of time to cover last Tuesday’s post.

I got to see the fantastic Scott Hickenlooper again (I just love his surname LOL). He was surprised I remembered his name, and I told him it was so unusual that it stuck in my head. He took me back to the same exam room and had me perform range-of-motion tests. If I remember correctly, this visit came two days after a day when my arm/shoulder had a particularly bad day, but he was still pleased with what I could do. As part of the exam, Scott gently stretched my shoulder muscle, which gave me slightly greater range of motion. He had me lay down to test the range as well, then assigned me new exercises.

The first is what the Home Exercise Program calls a Sleeper Stretch. Basically, I lay on my left side with my left arm extended before me, bend my elbow, and turn the arm down toward my feet, putting pressure on the back of my hand with my right hand, and pushing up against it, holding it for thirty seconds. I do this w times a set, 2 times a day to strengthen the arm.

Next are Side-Lying External Rotations. For this exercise, I lay on my right side and roll up a towel or something to put under my left arm. I begin the exercise with my arm bent at the elbow, hanging down across my abdomen, and raise my fist, keeping my upper arm on the rolled-up towel and my elbow bent. I bring my forearm and fist back as far as possible without pain, then lower my arm, keeping all movements slow and gentle. I do 2o of these 2 times a day.

The third exercise is Wand Flexion. For this, I need to be standing and to use my old cane, holding it with both my palms face up, hanging before me. Keeping my left arm half-relaxed, I raise my right arm so it draws the left arm up with it, to the point at which I feel pain in my left arm. 20 of these 2 times a day.

For my fourth exercise, I go to my entry hall and stand facing the area where my front, bed, and bath doors all open into with my left hand on the wall. This is Walls Slides Abduction, and as you can tell from the title, I slide my hand up on the wall until it’s stretched all the way, then slide it back down. Like the other exercises I do, I need to keep this slow and gentle. This is the exercise that hurts the most, usually when I’m sliding my hand up, but I still do my 2 sets of 20 each day.

I do my final exercise only three days a week, but I do three sets of ten each of those three days. Scott gave me an elastic band for my Elastic Band Rows, and I loop it around the bedroom-side of my bedroom door and close it with me and the ends in my entryway. Making sure my sternum is up and I pull my shoulder blades back at the same time, I begin with arms extended and pull until my elbows are bent. This is to strengthen both my arm and help with my admittedly poor posture.

I love how thorough Scott is. As I said before, I feel like he really cares and wants to see me all better. I forgot to write down or have printed by him my next appt, but I know it comes later in January.

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