Friday, August 29, 2014
First let me say that I am healing up, and am now weaning myself off of the boot. Next week I will start with some additional exercises per the doctor as well as get on a stationary bike at the gym. I don't have a date to start running yet, but will play that by ear (and pain level). So thatís all good.
Donít get all excited and think that I had some great epiphany while staring at the walls for the past few weeks. The truth was that I was bored out of my mind. For the first few weeks I slept a lot, probably because my body was using its resources to fix the broken bone and damaged soft tissue. I had the luxury of naps because I am currently unemployed. Of course being unemployed with a broken ankle added additional stressors onto my already stressed out situation, but I decided not to let it get to me because there wasnít a whole lot I could do about it. During this time, I was at least proactive by sending out a ton of resumes and contacting people in my network, and I have had a couple of interviews. But I digress.
The thing that I discovered while laid up is all of the awesome resources available online through my public library. Yep. The library. I love libraries and always have. I have always been a big reader, and when in grade school would check out a stack of books that were so high I could hardly carry them. Once the librarian asked me if I was going to read all those books and my Mom told her, ďYes she will.Ē
So during one of my more bored moments I got online at my library to see what was available at my local branch. My thought was to put books that I wanted to read on hold and then have my BF drive me there to pick them up. I never really noticed the online resources before, since I always GO to the library, but I decided to check out what was available. This is what I found:
ē Books and Audio Books Ė you can download books to your Kindle or your computerís browser. However, there are only a few available at a time, so if other readers have checked them out, you have to wait for them just like a ďrealĒ book. Once you download them, you have 2-3 weeks to read them, and then the online system takes the book back. No fines!
ē Music Ė you are allowed 5 free downloads per week. While my library doesnít have all the music in the world, it has a pretty good selection, and I downloaded some old tunes that I like Ė Lean on Me, Ainít No Sunshine, Donít Stop Believiní.
ē Magazines and Newspapers Ė I like Consumer Reports, and I used to subscribe, that magazine is a bit expensive and I donít need all of the information in every issue. Unless you have a subscription, you canít access the rating information and other content on the Consumer Reports web page. However, if you go through the library system, you can access everything. For free!
ē Streaming Video Ė You can watch movies and TV shows on your computer, tablet, or phone via Hoopla (you download the app to your device). Itís free and you simply check them out. Just like with books, after the lending period, the videos are automatically returned.
ē Databases Ė the databases offered by our library covers a lot of information such as local historical records and maps, driving tests, medical information, business information, e-books, genealogy searches, online tutoring, demographics, reference books, and more.
While this resource provided me with information and entertainment during these past few weeks, I will continue to use it going forward, because once I am working again, I know I will be too busy to go to the library to check out books, and more importantly to return them on time.
If you have not already done so, look at what you library has to offer online. You may be pleasantly surprised, and you may find resources to make your life easier, and more affordable.
Friday, August 22, 2014
I met with the orthopedic doctor yesterday. He said the bones are together and there is more bone growth, although you can still see the break. I canít take the boot off yet, but he gave me clearance to do the following:
1. Walk as much as I want in the boot. I started doing daily Ĺ mile walks last weekend. I didnít have a doctorís clearance to do so, but after I wound up walking up and down Worth Avenue on Palm Beach for about 1/2 mile (no, I was not shopping - just waiting for someone - a story for another time), and having no ill effects afterward, I thought I wasnít doing any harm, so I continued the walking. The doctor confirmed I was fine to do that.
2. Start light driving. He said that if I had to slam on the brakes itís really going to hurt, but it won't break anything. I am fine with pain as long as I know Iím not causing more damage. Last night I took a trial driving around my very neighborhood and found I had no problems with moving my foot from the gas to brake pedal. This is probably because I had been continually bending the foot back and forth since my last appointment 2 weeks earlier. The only issue was if I had to hold my foot on the brake for more than 15-20 seconds it started to complain. I can always use my left foot to hold the brake pedal at traffic lights.
3. Start stretching the foot any which way I want. I did the alphabet with my foot as soon as I got home, and later in the evening. I also did some circles. I will be doing this a lot of times every day.
4. Walk in the pool. This for me is huge because I think it is one of the best things I can do right now, not only for physical recovery but for the mental boost I need. I will work on a plan to start working in some water running in a week or two. Okay, maybe sooner. I'll try it out to see how it feels. Maybe I will run the shallow sections and walk the deeper ones.
5. Swim. Hurray! Real exercise! This will help me get my cardio and endurance back as well as start working my atrophied leg muscles. Which, by the way, I have noticed coming back a little just from the 1/2 mile daily walks.
I asked the doctor about PT, and was told that it probably wasn't necessary and I could do exercises myself at home. I have looked at rehab exercises on You Tube, and will do those. However I am still considering physical therapy if for nothing else, for a gauge on where I am in terms of my range of motion in a few weeks.
Today I will drive myself to the gym, get into the pool and do a few laps of walking and see how it is to swim. I will continue to walk, but will have to do it first thing in the morning when the temperatures are still in the low 80s. Right now our temperatures are going up into the mid-90s with feels-like temperatures from 100-106. I donít really want to be out in that heat since I have spent most of the hot Florida summer days in the house, and have not built up a tolerance to the heat as I have in past summers.
I am now 10 days away from the magic 8 week mark. That is when the doctor said I can take the boot off and start walking without it for periods of time, working up to where I donít need it at all. I can also start on the stationary bike after the 8 week mark, as well as start on some weight-bearing exercises that the doctor showed me I can do. I go back to the doctor in 30 days and look forward to a long list of things I can start doing, and I expect that light running will be on that list.
Speaking of running, a few months ago, Patty, the owner of my local running store had me try them on a pair of Hokas just for giggles. They were a little heavier than I prefer, but were SO cushy! Then shortly after I broke my ankle, I spoke to a well-known local runner who strongly recommended Hokas as the shoe to wear when getting back into running after an injury. I went to the running store last weekend and advised Patty to put a pair of Hokas aside for me. I read recently in Runner's World that Hoka came out with a lighter upper, so I will have to check out that model.
I am so excited to feel that I am finally on the road to recovery! More so, I LOVE that I have a plan, because now I feel like I am progressing and back in control of my life.
Now I just need to hear from some of the companies to which I have applied to schedule an interview. I am SO READY to get back to work.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
I love to cook. I love to eat well, too. One of my most favorite ingredients for the past 1+ years is basil. I don't use the dried basil - either fresh or the basil in a tube that I find in the refrigerated produce section of my grocery store. I use basil in almost everything. There are health benefits to it, too. It helps protect DNA and it also has anti-bacterial properties.
Here are some of the ways I use it:
Add either fresh or tube basil to scrambled eggs. If fresh, mince it and add about 1 tsp to 1 egg. If in the tube, add about a 1" long squeeze.
Chop it fresh and add to any salad
Add either the fresh or tube variety to green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and other leafy greens. I like to add it near the end of cooking to retain as much of the flavor as possible.
For a delicious salad dressing, use extra virgin olive oil, pomegranate vinegar, a squeeze or two of the tube basil, and garlic paste or in the tube (same manufacturer as basil in a tube). Experiment around with the quantities to get it to your taste. If it is too acidic or the vinegar is too strong, you can add a little sugar. You can also add some dried Italian herb mix for a different flavor.
Monday, August 18, 2014
Today marks 6 weeks since I slipped and broke my right ankle, and I believe healing is coming along as it should.
Shortly after the break, a couple of friends lent me boots that they had for their previous injuries, and I brought them to my 2 week appointment for the ortho to look at. He said one was too big and the other might work, but I could not go into a boot until the 4 week mark. My last appointment, 11 days ago, was the 4 week mark and I brought in the boot thinking I was going to be put into it. After looking at it again, he said it would not provide the support I needed, as it was too low. He further said he wanted me to stay in the cast until today (August 18).
However, I was tired of the cast Ė I was tired of the weight of it, I was tired of being unable to sleep well, I was tired of not being able to get around without a wheel chair or crutches, and I was tired of the tightness when my lower leg and foot swelled. I wanted to start moving the leg around so I could start rebuilding the muscles that had atrophied. After some discussion (actually it was more begging), he agreed to put me in a walking boot. They had boots there, but he thought they were $300, which would have been out of pocket. At that price I decided to stay in the cast for 10 more days. After checking with the nurse, however, she said the one I needed was $70. To me, $70 to get out of the boot 10 days early was worth it, and off came the cast!
I spent several days after that using crutches and slowly putting more weight on the boot. I am happy to say that I now no longer need the wheel chair for anything (the cats use it for a bed), including getting in and out of the shower (I have a shower stall into which I need to step down, not a tub, so getting out was tricky), and I havenít used the crutches since probably last Thursday. The doctor said that I should sleep into the boot until today, but I took it off on Saturday, and I can sleep on my left side rather than strictly on my back. However, I canít sleep on my right side and I still need pillow support no matter how I sleep, but thatís fine. I am making progress.
I take the boot off anytime I am sitting, and I continually move my foot up and down to get the range of motion back. I have not been cleared to move the ankle back and forth yet, and I honestly donít think that itís quite ready for that. I will admit that there were a few days that I overdid walking and I was in some pain afterward. I thought I messed up something, but the next day there was no pain, so I think that means I am making gains. Some of the pains I have are not even in the break area, which probably means it is from using atrophied muscles (as in post-exercise muscle soreness), as well as from some of the soft tissue damage I am sure I did. The foot is still somewhat bruised looking and the calf is pretty skinny, but I know thatís all temporary.
My next appointment is this Thursday and I will ask the doctor about whether I can start walking in a pool and whether I can start some additional stretching exercises. He probably wonít order official PT for another 2 weeks, but I think as long as I am not hurting anything that I should start doing what I can as soon as possible. Not only do I need to build the muscles back, but my cardio and my endurance have suffered, too. When I am up and moving around for the day, I am wiped out by late afternoon and can easily take an hour nap and then get my regular 7-8 hour nightís sleep. I suppose the tiredness is because my body is using its energy to heal itself in addition to my increased physical activity.
While this whole ordeal has been frustrating, when I look back at my progression in 2 week increments, I am happy with where I am now and look forward to continued improvement.
Monday, July 28, 2014
Warning Ė if you are not currently active in the health care System, you will find this completely boring. However, if you or a loved one is sick, or if you are new to The System, then I hope that my experience and insights below will be helpful:
Today is the 3 week anniversary of my broken ankle. While the recovery has been a challenge in and of itself, itís nothing compared to navigating the current state of our health care. I will state that I am totally against Obamacare, even though I am on a plan through healthcare.gov.
Since 2007 I have pretty much fully paid for my own health insurance. Before Obamacare I could afford a PPO plan on my own, but now even the worst plans with $10,000 deductibles are about the same price as a good PPO plan was several years ago. PPOs have always been my plan of choice, because when you are hurt or sick you simply go to the specialist that deals with your illness or injury. I always shied away from HMO plans because you have to see a primary doctor and get a referral to see a specialist. I never heard anything good about them and if you are sick or injured you had to wait a longer period to get treated, because you essentially had to make appointments with 2 doctors, and you have to give the primary doctor enough time to see you and do their paperwork before you can see the specialist. That is part of The System. It cuts down on costs, but also extends the patient's suffering and sets the stage for worsening conditions.
I was laid off at the end of January, and the cost of my PPO COBRA was in the area of $800+ per month. No way can I afford that, and since I don't have any illnesses or conditions, I figured I didn't need that level of coverage. I was going to go without healthcare insurance (I have taken this risk in the past), but now that it is mandated, I was forced to go into The Marketplace to find something affordable. Unfortunately, even with a stipend, I could not afford any PPO plan and had to go into an HMO. Since this injury (and in dealing with my Mom's healthcare System), I have discovered some not so very good things about the modern American health care system.
Note that there is a difference between the insurance company and The System. The insurance company is the entity that you pay your hard earned money to and they, in turn, come up with the rules to make sure that regardless of the patientís condition, that the insurance company will not pay one cent more than is necessary (The System). In other words, coverage for only the very basic care is provided, and if you want to be properly healed, comfortable while healing, and/or heal faster, you better have a checkbook.
The following are things I have learned in The HMO System:
1. If you get injured such as you have a broken bone after hours, make sure you go to an urgent care or ER that is covered by within The System. Failure to do so will put you out of The System and you will pay BIG TIME.
2. The urgent care facility will bandage you up and advise you to see a specialist. You may get on your insurance companyís website and find a specialist and make an appointment. That is fine, but you still need to see your primary physician first. You can either:
A. Set the specialist appointment out far enough in the future to make sure you get in to see the primary. I have found that the primary doesnít care that you have a broken bone, and they may not ďsqueeze you inĒ between people with colds and stomach aches since you are not unconscious. Never mind youíre in a splint and the bone could be starting to heal incorrectly.
B. OR you can set the specialist appointment and then harangue the primary into seeing you a day or two before that appointment. I would choose this option because you can always reschedule the specialist appointment.
3. Once you see the primary, they are to supply a referral. Now this is where things got confusing, because neither the primary, nor the insurance company, nor the specialist knew exactly how The System worked in this regard. The primary felt they just gave the insurance company the referral and their work was done. The orthopedist said they needed the referral from the primary and an acceptance code from the insurance company. The insurance company (who confirmed they had the referral but in truth did not Ė something I had to follow up with the primary for 2 days to get done), wasnít sure who was supposed to do what and after speaking with 3 different people and insisting SOMEONE needed to call my orthopedist with an authorization code, someone finally did it.
I felt everything was finalized about 3 hours before my appointment, but the guy at the orthopedist that I worked with for 2 days to get all of this legwork done, not call me back to confirm that they had received everything they needed. I decided to go to the office anyway, and they did not have the paperwork that I would refuse to leave until treated. Three days in a splint for a broken ankle was long enough. Thankfully everything was in and I was treated.
4. My doctor informed me that he will remove the rigid fiberglass cast on August 7 and put me in a boot. I just spoke to the insurance company, and while they won't cover the cost of a boot, they will put the purchase price towards the deductible, but I have to use their medical supply store. Two friends loaned me their boots, which I showed to the doctor last week. He felt one was too large and the other would work okay, but I tried the second one on my good foot, and I think it will be too big, so I need to be prepared when I arrive to have a boot that fits.
This is just one injury and not a very complicated one at that. I think if I break something again I will go to an ER instead of an urgent care. The ER would have casted me then and there, rather than wait 3+ days to see a specialist, not to mention the extra trip to the primary and the hours and hours of phone calls just to make sure I would be treated by the ortho.
The bottom line is this: If you need treatment, you MUST follow up with any and all doctors, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, etc. involved in your care, as well as the insurance company.
If you or someone you know is in the health care industry, they can make millions of dollars being a Health Care System Advocate and help people navigate The System (insurance and doctors) to ensure proper care for loved ones. I donít believe any such advocate exists. I and my 3 siblings have all pitched in to help my Mom and it is a part time job for each of us (more so for my brother and sister who are local to her). I canít imagine what people do when they are ill and either donít have family or have family members who might not have the time, intelligence, or education level to navigate The System.
My best advise is not to get sick or injured!
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