Thursday, August 28, 2008

Not torn, folded, spindled or mutilated

So, update on the knee.
I had my MRI on Monday evening.  It took longer than I expected.  About 20-25 minutes total.  I guess I'm used to x-rays which are quick and medical shows on tv which don't have time to show that long of a, if they show the patient in the MRI at all you just know that something bad is going to happen.  And the MRI machine wasn't the tube type thing like you always see.  Instead it was more of, well, imagine a giant hamburger with a section cut out of the burger in the middle so that there was a hole lengthwise (if you can go lengthwise in a circular object...more people will understand that than if I said "laterally").  So, there's this big circular thing on top and a big circular thing on the bottom and there's sides to it.  I got to lay down on a sliding table thing, stuff put around my knee so that it didn't move and then the very nice technician moved the table (and therefore me) so that my knee was right about in the middle of the hamburger shaped machine.  She put on some not terribly interesting music (which we both agreed was good.  I have a tendency to "dance" to music if I have nothing better to do.  Note the quotes, it's more of random movements that may or may not correlate to the beat.  But since I wasn't supposed to move that would have been bad.) and we were off.  I didn't ask how long the procedure took, so I was thankful that the tech came over the speaker at one point to reassure me that I was doing great and let me know I only had about 15 more minutes to go.  I was kinda paranoid about moving and a bit nervous about the whole thing and the weird sounds the machine was making, but I managed to keep myself calm (lots of deep breaths), not fall asleep (I was worried that I would move) and a bit later I walked out with six large films of various bits of the inside of my knee.

I did some googling to see what a torn meniscus looks like on an MRI and after extensive training (about five minutes) and long study (another five minutes) of the MRIs I came to the conclusion that I was pretty sure I could figure out which way was up and which parts were bones.  In the way of figuring out if I had a torn meniscus or anything else, yeah, I had nothing.

Fast forward to Thursday afternoon and I'm back at the orthopedists office.  I really like this guy and his staff a lot.  Even when they're horrendously busy they're incredibly friendly and efficient.  If you're in the Fort Worth area and need an orthopedist (and they take your insurance) I highly recommend Dr. Boothby and the staff of Southwest Orthopedics.  Anyway, They got me into the room, I worked on my Sunday school lesson for a few minutes and then the doc came in.  He looked at my MRI films and explained what was going on.  Basically, my meniscus isn't torn.  Neither is my ACL nor the other CL (MCL?).  He said there was a bit of degeneration of the meniscus but that's not uncommon.  I also have a bit of swelling (not surprising.  Spending a week mucking out and gutting houses with a bum knee will do that.) and a minor bit of misalignment of my kneecap (which I learned from the tv show Bones is called the patella.).  But, the good news is that there's no call to do any sort of surgery.  The bad news is that he's not sure exactly why my knee is hurting.

He offered the "don't do anything stupid for a month or so and then come back and see me if it doesn't get better" (not his words) course of treatment first.  I countered with "this has been going on for a while and that hasn't worked" (not my exact words).  He counter offered with anti-inflammatory meds and physical therapy (PT) and the deal was done.  So, I've got a higher dose of the meds my primary care doc gave me before sending me to the orthopedist and, once the lady who does the precertification thingie with my insurance company gets back from her extra long Labor Day weekend (darn holiday weekend) on Tuesday, I'll be scheduled for my PT evaluation and a total of 12 sessions of PT.  And we'll see.  Hopefully the exercises that my PT has me do will strengthen everything up and that in combination with the pain meds and me not doing anything stupid (that wasn't part of the final deal but I figured that it was  kinda implied) and I'll be good to go by Halloween or so.  If not, I guess we'll try something else.

Bottom line, I don't have to have surgery, but my knee still hurts.  I call it a draw at this point.

In other news, I get to teach Sunday school to my high school kids this Sunday and speak during the "mercy moment" at church.  Sunday school is on mercy ministries and the mercy moment is about the Iowa trip.  If any of my high schoolers are reading this (and got this far), bummer that you have to hear me twice but there will be candy or donuts or something in Sunday school and I promise no role playing or other "alternative learning methods" activities.  I'm not even planning on breaking you guys up into groups and answering questions or anything.  If anyone else wants to sit in on the class, you're welcome to.  Theoretically it should be interesting.

And there's lots to blog about the Iowa trip but I just haven't made the time.  Hopefully I'll do that this weekend.  Ah sweet three day weekend followed by a three day work week and an even sweeter three day weekend (it's sweeter because the stores will be less crowded because not everyone else has a three day weekend.  Plus, it follows a three day week.  It's hard to beat that.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Off in a blazing cloud of dust!

A former youth pastor used to utter the line "And we're off in a blazing cloud of dust" regularly when we were driving somewhere.  He had an interesting way with words, something that I've always admired in a person and enjoyed.  And, since I rarely think of humorous/interesting things to say on my own, I've incorporated this into my regular speech.  Although I've come to the conclusion that most other people do similar things, they just quote more mainstream/well known sources than I do.  Just another reason I'm proud to call myself "no one's definition of normal".

So, I'm off to Iowa tomorrow morning.  I think I'm finally getting excited about the trip again.  I was all gung-ho about it when the opportunity first came up and then I got distracted with life and work and my knee issues (mostly my knee issues.  I hate being broken, hence the reason I ignored my knee issues for so long.  Now I just want to get it fixed.).  But tonight, I'm mostly packed up (just need to fuss with the gear in my backpack a bit more), have the house and cats more or less ready for me to be gone and aside from being a little sleepy due to getting up early to take advantage of a thing the city was doing where you trade your old, polluting gas lawn mower in for a coupon for a greatly discounted electric rechargeable, green (really, it's a pastel-neon green), environmentally friendly and 75% quieter but with a tiny (14 inch) deck lawn mower and still needing to shower tonight (so that I don't have to in the morning.  My ride shows up at 5:30am.  Wheels up at 0600.) I'm feeling really good and starting to get excited about it.  It's going to be an interesting trip.  This is the first time we've done any sort of "disaster response/relief" work like this.  I figure that the schedule and the work won't be much different than doing a mission trip except that we'll be more on our own than we are when we do the trips with MTW (and there's full-time missionaries already on the ground there).  But, no worries.  I've done 17 short-term mission trips and a bunch of weekend to week-long trips with youth.  And on this trip we can drink the water!  I'm guessing that, as long as my knee doesn't give me problems, I'll be golden (God willing, if you're the praying type I would greatly appreciate your prayers for all aspects of the trip, but mostly for my physical safety with emphasis on my knee).  But we've got a handful of people on this trip who haven't done any trips like this before.  We've also got at least four who have done some sort of long-term missions work in countries where you probably can't drink the water and more who've done a bunch of short-term trips, but I'm slightly more concerned about the newbies.  There's so much that people could stress over and that doesn't help anyone.  And then there's the age differences.  We've got a couple of junior high kids up through retired adults.  And we're all jumbled together in a van for 13 (or more) hours on either end of the trip.  Just imagining the conversations over the preferences for auditory entertainment...the mind boggles.  It's gonna be an interesting week.

Other random things.
Bones - one of the television shows that I enjoy is coming out with a soundtrack.  Yeah!  I've always enjoyed soundtracks and in recent years I've discovered that tv shows sometimes put out soundtracks as well.  I've found it's a great way to discover new music, often by new and/or indie musicians.  And from there you can follow the rabbit trail down the long tail and who knows where you'll come out.  For me, it ends up in the darker corners of my iPod where you'll find Sprung Monkey, Four Star Mary, Common Rotation and a variety of other bands with odd names (I still think Starbuck and her Special Destiny would be a great band name).  So, yeah, I'm excited and will be purchasing.

Juno - The movie, not the city in Alaska.  I finally saw it.  Good stuff.  Sweet and fun and heartbreaking and all sorts of funny and awkward and stuff.  Allison Janey channeled CJ Craig a couple of times (man do I miss The West Wing...back when Aaron Sorkin was writing it), Jason Bateman grew up to be a fun actor to watch (apparently that happened back during Arrested Development but I just couldn't get into that show....not sure why.  Possibly for the same reason that, no matter how hard I try, I just can't get into The Office.).  And Ellen "Juno" Page was spot on (and played Kitty Pride in X3.  I knew I had seen her before I just couldn't remember where.).  I'm glad that I bought the movie, it's certainly one I will be revisiting...and quite possibly a soundtrack I'll be purchasing.  Cause, ya know, I like soundtracks.

The wife of the guy who writes the web comic Sheldon writes for How I Met Your Mother.  I don't know why I find this so entertaining/interesting.  I don't watch the show.  I've only read the web comic for about a year or so (yet another bit of media that I found while following a Whedon related rabbit hole).  Maybe it's my kinda recent interest in how television shows are written (mostly fueled by the wonderful blog by Jane Espenson, a writer for Buffy, Firefly, Battlestar and other cool stuff, where I've learned more than I ever thought I was interested in about how television scripts are written as well as learned to think more about language and how that makes jokes funny or, yeah, the other thing.)

Okay and now I'm just killing time until my iPod is done syncing.  It's looking like it might take a bit longer than I expected, so I think it's shower time.  By the time I'm dry and fresh smelling once again it should be done.

Probably no internet access while I'm gone so look for an update after a week or so when I get home.

This made me smile

If I could, I would live in a pair of cargo pants and a t-shirt so this comic made me smile.  And it's especially fitting since I'm getting ready to head to Iowa where I will be spending the week wearing cargo pants and shorts.  Yeah!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Fun at the orthopedists

I had my appointment with the orthopedist this afternoon.  Everything went smoothly and I was impressed with the efficiency of the staff.  I was in the exam room within five minutes of my appointment time (they had me arrive 30 minutes prior to that so that I could fill out all of the new patient paperwork).  Seph (pronounced similar to Seth but almost like if you have a lisp), the physicians assistant came in after just a few minutes, got my history, poked and prodded my knee some and said that they needed to get some x-rays.  After somewhere between five and ten more minutes, Dr Boothby came in, asked some more questions, poked and prodded my knee a bit more and said that he figured that it was probably a tear in my meniscus (the cartilage that sits at the top of your bottom leg bone and acts as a shock absorber).  He got out his knee model and explained this to me and said that there wasn't any need for x-rays because they wouldn't be able to show what he needed to see.  So the next step is to get an MRI.  The staff said that I should be able to get that early next week.  Then I go back to Dr Boothby a day or two later and we figure out where to go from there.

The good news is that if it is a torn meniscus, Dr Boothby says that they can fix me and get me back to 100%.  He seemed pretty certain that this would be the case.  So that's a plus.  From doing some research and reading, it sounds like there is the possibility of non-surgical options for dealing with a torn meniscus.  However, that seems to be the exception rather than the rule.  There's some interesting stuff on Wikipedia about torn meniscuses (menisci?)

While I'm not thrilled with the idea of having to have knee surgery, the fact that this is something that seems to have become routine and the optimism of my doctor gives me confidence that it won't be a huge deal.  I'm sure it won't be fun, but I know that I'll be well taken care of.  I'm pretty sure that Mom will want to come down.  Even if she doesn't, I know my church will take very good care of me and make sure that I have all the help I need.  The staff and my friends at the gym will be there to help me get back in shape physically.  And my group at work is always very accommodating.  All of that gives me tremendous peace of mind.  It's amazing how well God has and continues to provide so much for me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I should really be headed towards beddy-bye about now

So I should be headed to bed but instead I'm blogging.  Ah well.

Knee update:  My doctor still thinks it's an inflamed ligament.  I'm not 100% certain.  But I new to this whole knee problems issue.  She gave me a prescription for some NSAIs (non-steroidal anti-inflamatories) which are, according to a couple of different web sites (I'm not certain I could function without Google anymore) are usually used to treat arthritis and referred me to an orthopedist.  Well, she gave me a list of three to choose from.  After a quick search (again with the Google love) I picked the one who specializes in sports medicine, went to Columbia and did his residency at Henry Ford Hospital.  The Henry Ford connection sealed it for me since the Henry Ford Health Systems provided my medical care from the time I was very young through my college graduation (when I wasn't using the Georgia Tech health center...they weren't great but the price was right and you could get 800mg Ibuprofen for just about anything).  I've had good luck picking doctors with some sort of local connection or a name that sounds like someone I know (even though I know I don't actually know the person).  We'll see how it goes.  Oh yeah an the other miracle is that I've got an appointment for Friday.  I didn't figure I'd be able to get in anywhere that quickly so yeah for specialists with short wait times for appointments.

Iowa preparations are coming along well.  One the to-do list for this weekend is "buy rubber boots".  I was hoping to find tall galoshes somewhere, as I find regular rubber boots (I prefer the British term "Wellingtons" but no one but my British coworkers know what I'm talking about when I say that) very uncomfortable.  But I haven't been able to find any in stores around here and, at this point, it's getting too late to do web shopping.  What we need is a good Farm and Fleet store.  Alas, those haven't made it nearly far south enough.  So, I'm probably going to end up with a pair of Wellingtons.  My current thought is to see if I can find a pair that I can slide a good pair of insoles or, ideally, the bottom half of an old pair of running shoes (I happen to have an old pair of running shoes in my closet.  I was keeping them for yard work shoes, but my current yard work shoes are holding up surprisingly well.  The fact that it hasn't rained much this year and, therefore, I haven't had to mow much probably is the main contributor to that.).  Oh and if I'm going to get stuck with the standard black Wellies (because the frog and Lightning MacQueen ones at Target don't come in big people sizes) I'm also going to pick up some paint markers and decorate them.  Not only will that make me smile but I'll also be able to instantly pick mine out from everyone elses.

At work my documentation tasks seem to finally be coming to a close.  For those who haven't asked me about work recently, I've been doing database documentation pretty much all year.  Sometimes this is interesting.  I learned to write macros in Power Point (not near as easy as it sounds.  The macro recorder is mostly useless.).  But mostly it's more than a little dull.  On the upside though, I've gotten through a lot of podcasts, listened to a lot of music and become even more convinced that the iPod is one of the most amazing inventions of the recent past.  I'm to the point where there are many many other things I would give up before giving up my iPod (and my computer and an internet connection to update the podcasts).

Other random thought:
What actually happens if you bounce wonderflonium?  I know Jed (or was it Zack? one of the brothers Whedon that wasn't Joss) said in an interview that no one's done it because you just don't bounce the wonderflonium.  But, still, I do wonder.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you haven't seen Doctor Horrible's Sing-along Blog and, if you're over the age of 16 (or so) you really should.  If you're younger than that, you should ask your parents first and, if they say yes, you really should see it.  (I'd give it a PG-13 rating for some adult subject matter and a mildly disturbing ending.  Nothing you wouldn't see on prime time network television, so my -13 rating is possibly a little harsh (The Dark Knight is PG-13 and it's much more disturbing than Dr. Horrible) but I know there are people shorter than me who may read this blog so, yeah, ask your parents first.).  But, yeah, what happens if you do bounce the wonderflonium.

Oh my goodness, look at my arm.  Time for bed.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Help! My web browser is talking to me! And some other stuff from a Saturday morning.

No, I'm really not going least my cats hear it too.
For some reason, my web browser (Safari 3.1.2 - still using OSX/Tiger operating system) is talking to me.  I found the "speech" tab under Safari/services but the options to either start or stop talking are both greyed out.  It's not a huge deal as long as I keep the sound off, but if I'm trying to watch or listen to something, it's very annoying.  Anyone know how to fix this?

In other news, my knee is still bothering me.  I think it's time to head back to the doctor next week.  Very frustrating especially with just two weeks to go until Iowa.

This cool video came across my rss feed this morning.  A group of young women doing an acappella version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" complete with the guitar solo and drum beats.  Pretty amazing.