Saturday, December 27, 2014

New Bump on Knuckle + Eye Twitching (Myokymia)

The top knuckle of my right index finger has been a little tender and started "clicking" a year or so ago.  I noticed it while using the mouse on my work computer.  Most of my joints "crack" with pressure, including my knuckles, but this joint "snaps" or "clicks" in a tiny, new way, unlike the other knuckles.  It tends to do this when the top knuckle simply bends, or if is wiggled sideways just the slightest bit.

Yesterday, I looked at my hands and I noticed there is now an ugly, prominent bump on the one knuckle.  See it (circled)?  What the heck is this?

New bump on my top knuckle,
right index finger

I also took a photo of each hand, for comparison.  None of my other knuckles have this bump or pain or clicking.

How do you like my snowy, glittery manicure? :)

When I first went to see my current rheumatologist a couple years ago, she had me get x-rays of my hands and feet, as a baseline to rule out other conditions and prescribe appropriate treatment.  That's also when my possible Kohler's Disease was discovered, though nothing was ever determined about why it occurred or if it signifies anything.  I do remember mentioning the new clicking and pain to her a few appointments ago, but I don't recall any conclusions about it.  With the new bump now, there may be more of a clue about something.

I'm concerned about arthritis, especially since I know my dad is having problems with his hands due to arthritis, and I noticed that a lot of my fibro friends also have comorbid arthritic conditions.

Anyway, I will see my rheumatologist soon, and will be sure to bring this up with her again to see what she recommends.  I'm really hoping I can treat it without adding any new medications to my current list of meds.  Side effects are no fun, especially when I've already got plenty of weird symptoms.

Speaking of side effects, I have been having more eye twitching in my left eye (Myokymia). I'd forgotten I had an episode like this back when I blogged about the x-ray results.  This time, though, my lower lid toward the inner corner of my left eye is the part that keeps twitching.  It's been over a month now, for this bout.  I thought they finally ended a few days ago, but they are creeping back into my daily life again today, even as I type now.

When they started, the twitches would occur several times a minute, which, let me tell you, is pretty distracting.  After about a couple weeks, the twitches slowed down to several times a day, and after a month, I thought they ended.  Now they are starting back up again.  Not sure if this is a side effect of anything, but I will also mention this to my doctor, in case she recognizes anything about it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rest in Peace, Bunny

Today, Bunny, my rice sock, was scorched in a senseless act by the rogue microwave at work today. I still needed her warmth, but the smell of burnt popcorn quickly permeated my department, with disgusted co-workers bluntly shunning us. They don't understand what she means to me. I took my poor Bunny home with me.

The heating pad at home took over for a while, but Bunny will be missed. She has warmed my spasming muscles on many occasions, allowing this chronic pain sufferer to bravely press on and continue to "make the bacon" despite the stabbing pain. Time and time again, she has been there for me when others didn't have a clue I was overwhelmed and in a world of hurt. She gave me courage, hope, and most of all, gentle and encouraging warmth.

Rest in peace, my dear Bunny. I will always remember you and how you came through for me in countless times of need. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Trigger Points Gone Berserk

For over a fortnight now, I've been dealing with some ridiculous knots in the muscles near my shoulders, neck, and upper back. Since it started, I've had two really great sessions of trigger point massage therapy on the troubled areas. I have also used my TheraCane, a tennis ball, my rice sock, my heading pad, hot baths and showers, stretches, pain medicine, and now, finally, rest, as I write to you from my bed today.

It started on my left side, mostly in the side of my neck, down to the mid-back. It has been restricting movement in my neck and just causing this constant, awful pain.

It has gradually spread into more of an upper back problem on both left and right sides. Today, it is settling into the right side of the upper back and top of the right shoulder.

I don't know exactly what triggered this particular flare, but I can look back and see plenty of possible contributing factors, including the ongoing foot tendonitis thing, stress, and weather extremes, to start.  But I also kept going to work and doing things, acting like a normal or something. Why do I keep doing that? I think I have been busted, living on borrowed spoons.  I worked through it until yesterday around noon, when I decided I couldn't keep pressing on. It's a shitty time for me to be off work, but as I tell my fibro friends, I cannot take care of anyone else until I take care of myself first. So I am resting until something changes for the better.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Painful Foot Update: Peroneal Tendonitis

So, last Friday, I went to a new foot doctor about the pain and swelling around my outer right ankle bone.  The whole staff was very nice.  The doctor pressed on various areas of my bare foot and asked if it was painful.  He found the worst spot (toward the back heel side of the bony area) and suspected an inflamed tendon.

I had my foot x-rayed to rule out any bone or other problems - all clear there.  With my past history of having this same problem a few months back, and since it went away with just some icing and rest, he says we can assume this is peroneal tendonitis.  If it gets better in a few days with the ice, Aleve, rest, etc. that would support the diagnosis.  However, if it gets worse or does not subside, we can do more detailed testing like MRI to see if anything has torn.

An ankle brace was recommended to help support the foot and reduce further inflammation while walking around, so I went and got one after my appointment.

I was also told my arches were slightly flat, and that my foot posture turning downward on the inner sides of my feet was possibly contributing to my tendonitis.  The doctor recommended getting some good shoe inserts with sturdy arch support. So I got a pair of these as well.  Since I had some cheap inserts in my boots already, he looked at them and added some felt to the bottom of the arch area, to beef up the support a bit.  I thought that was nice.

I also got a great printout of strengthening exercises to do to help prevent further injury to my feet, and have been giving those a try each day.  I'm backing off the daily stairs climbing at work until I feel better, and the yoga and other activities are mostly on hiatus, too, to I can rest the bad foot.  I did do some yoga poses today, though.  I just made sure I didn't use my feet for support and took extra care to look for any signs of pain in that bad ankle.

So, here I am, several days later with my foot feeling a lot better, but not quite back to normal yet.  I am still wearing the ankle brace but I have put the cane away and have just been stepping slowly and carefully at work and at home.

I'm a bit cranky otherwise, though, because other symptoms have been acting up.  I fear that the Aleve I was told to take (always with meals, mind you) for the inflammation was irritating my stomach, so I stopped taking it.  I had some gastritis a while back and don't know if that is still with me, or if it's just more IBS or something else.  I have been dealing with some sharp, stabbing pains in my ribs and back the past couple of days, and my eyes feel like I've been awake too long, though I did manage to sleep.  Then yesterday, out of nowhere, tinnitus in my left ear just started raging with this loud, muffling ringing for hours.  On top of all of these symptoms, like the cherry on top, is all the mental garbage that tags along: my difficulty with focus and memory, plus the stress of dealing with all this crap while trying to live and manage and keep my job.  I declare a flare.  And I am just trying to remember that there is hope at the other end of this particular nightmare.  I just don't know when exactly that will be.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Painful Foot and Burning Hands

I feel a bit like a dog with a hurt hind leg these days.  You know how they will lift the painful foot up and only hop lightly with it, if necessary?  It's this darn pain in my right foot/ankle area again.

As much as I hate using the cane that I keep in my car, (and getting the old "what happened?" or the exaggerated sad and concerned face from well-meaning coworkers,) I broke down and started using it a couple days ago.  I took about 6 steps away from my car in the parking lot at work last Tuesday when I realized I should be using that cane.  Stubborn me, though, I didn't turn back to get it.  I soldiered on through the morning and grabbed it at lunchtime.

Tomorrow morning, I will see a podiatrist to see what the problem is.  I'm hoping to at least find out what I might have done to aggravate this condition, so I can at least stop doing that.  Thus far, I have noticed that the pain subsides with rest, and gets worse with stairs, (both up and down,) or walking for more than about a minute.  Today I noticed further that it's when I place the heel down that is painful, and I've caught myself kind of toe-stepping slowly on my right foot, and relying on the cane for support.

The cane also slows me down so I can step more carefully.  It also helps tell others that I won't be able to scurry up to catch that opened door, or run across a walk before that car comes.  The cane is growing on me, but I still hate having one hand occupied while I'm moving.  It's also a bit of a bother in the bathroom.  I have a new appreciation for anyone who needs to use walking aids full time.

Anyway, I hope to know more about this foot tomorrow.

On a side note, I've been noticing an odd new symptom has popped up in the past few weeks.  Every now and then, my hands turn really red and hot and start burning painfully.  The burning makes me look at them.  It looks ridiculous.  One time, just my thumbs and index fingers were red-hot, but the pinkies were cold.  My husband was around so I showed him.  It is bizarre.  I also notice coldness in my toes, inside my shoes/slippers when my fingers and hands get cool.

I'm one of those people who is usually cold, especially my hands and feet and especially around bedtime.  I get those "icicle feet".  Luckly, Don is usually too warm so he lets me warm up my tootsies on his warm feet and we find some kind of equilibrium.  As a child, I remember getting hands so cold I had to stop practicing piano.  My mom knows.  She would always say "cold hands, warm heart" to make me feel better.

My first thought about the temperature weirdness is Raynaud's, which is common among fibromites. Cold really does hurt my hands.  For example, peeling a cold cucumber requires breaks where I put down the cold cucumber and blow on my hands to warm them up again.  Again, ridiculous.  When I come in from a walk in cold weather, my thighs are numb and as I begin to warm back up inside, they twitch all over.  Does this happen to you?  The thing is, I've never recalled any real white or blue discoloration of my fingers, as with the classic Raynaud's.  I know it's not the same for every patient, but I just notice that.  I just get the red, hot hands.  I don't know if my feet get that way, though, other than when the pressure hives are raging on the bottoms of my feet.

Today I came across a rare condition with the burning red extremities.  I hate to speculate, but I cannot help but wonder about it.  It's called Erythromlalgia and here is the page with the interesting photos:

I will definitely need to note these new symptoms for my next rheumatologist appointment.  I just saw her last month, but if things get ridiculous, I may try to see her sooner than my next appointment in August.

Do you know anything about this?  Got any tips or links that might help me?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Snowy Weather

This winter has been extreme in several ways, and in much of the U.S.  Between the frigid temperatures caused by the "polar vortex" and the frequent snowfalls, it's been challenging for us fibromites just trying to survive the season.

I'm having a variety of symptom flare ups despite my cozy fleece leggings (I got several from Walgreens for five bucks each - so worth it!) and my husband forbidding me from shoveling the snow.  Muscle spasms have been frequent.  IBS was raging fiercely for a couple weeks but has finally subsided (thank goodness).  And the odd foot problem I had last Fall is back today.  Somehow, it snuck back while I was lying in bed or sitting down today.  I just don't see how I could have triggered if I wasn't doing anything.  I never managed to see a doctor about this last time, so I might be doing that if this becomes a daily pain again.

Anyway, I recorded a short, relaxing, snowfall video a couple weeks ago and thought I'd share with you all, so you can relax and enjoy.  

I'm hoping we are in the home stretch of winter, finally, so hopefully looking at this will not stress any of you out.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Reflections on the Table

As the new year begins again, I reflect on last year's resolutions. I managed to get a couple of them done. (Hooray!) However, I piled on too much for myself, which is typical of me, and have a bunch of incomplete goals.  I'm not going to beat myself up about it, because I learned that it's okay.  I did make progress on all of the other ones, which is the whole point of setting goals.  This year, I'm giving higher priority to the old resolutions, with modifications, and see if I can do as well and manage to cross something off in a dozen months, even if I won't be able to cross all of them off.  Progress is progress and I will take it.

Well, winter is definitely on, here in the midwest.  It has been snowing and snowing! Plus we had that crazy "polar vortex" deep freeze a couple weeks back that kept me and many others home from work for a couple days. Knowing how the cold always exacerbates my symptoms, my dear husband has been dutifully shoveling the driveway and sidewalks all winter, without my help.  Thanks, Don!  I very much appreciate it!  

Despite my trying to stay warm, I have had a bit of a setback this week with a flare up that started a couple days ago. My back is apparently very angry that I exercised and kept working all week, so yesterday, it spasmed, painfully, all afternoon and all evening and through the night.  I woke up this morning unable to get up from bed for quite a long time, as the pain in my back raged on.  I knew I'd have to get up eventually, though, so I made my way to my heating pad, which helped.

It's incredibly frustrating to keep trying to be healthy and productive while the Chronic Myofascial Pain and Fibromyalgia keep conspiring to knock me down and punish me for it.  Like many other fibromites, I feel the better days that come along between flare ups can be both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is feeling less pain and feeling less miserable, but the curse is that we all seem to do too much on these good days, because it's our best chance at getting things done.  Then we crash hard because we overdid it.  But, I need to remember that I will have better days and I will have worse days, and it may not make any sense when they occur.  I do what I can to help minimize the worse days and plan for special occasions, but fibro doesn't care. I am still learning to accept that.

Moving on...

I find I'm feeling a little less willing to share my life's details here lately.  It's great to get things off my chest or share things I've learned, but sometimes I guess I just feel more private about things.  Hopefully that's okay with you.  I can't put my finger on it exactly, but it's just how I'm feeling. I have been playing with the idea of perhaps closing up the shop here and ending the blog altogether.  That seems a bit wrong of me, though, especially since I have been such a big proponent of blogging and journaling for anyone with chronic health issues.  

It's good to put things into words, you know?  And whether that occurs online, in a private email to a friend, or in a journal, or even just phrased in the mind, I have found answers to confounding questions, time after time, the very moment I finish phrasing the question.  Has this happened to you?  

For instance, I'll be racking my brain all day about, say, the name of an actor I saw in a commercial or something. After hours and hours of hoping for the answer to come to me, I finally ask someone else and BAM! As soon as I hear myself ask the question out loud, the correct answer pops right into my head. It happens at home and it happens at work.  At work, I have had the answer come to me after phrasing an email just right.  Many times, the email never has to be sent, because I figure it out once I just phrase the question right. I do hate to ask for help, which is why I'm glad I figured out this magical answer-finding tip. 

Anyway, getting back to my possibly quitting the blogging... I wonder who reads my words and if they help anyone. It's okay if this is all just a cathartic public journal for me, too, but I guess if I'd be missed, I might try harder to keep things going. I won't commit to anything today, but it's on my mind.  I have subscribed to many blogs over the years and have noticed that some just... stop. There is no good-bye, no warning, no indication that the author intended to quit or if the choice was made for him/her.  I wonder if those authors are okay.  Most of them just get busy, I know, and that's fine.  The blogging is an enhancement to the rest of their lives, which should take a higher priority.  I guess because I'm aware of how it feels to be a reader of a blog that just dies, I wanted to address the topic while I was still writing, in case I do decide to quit.

Like I said, I 'm still here and I will still attempt to post tidbits of knowledge and experience as they come to me, but if I'm not around for a while, just know I'm exercising my right to change things in my life to make it better for myself.  Stay warm!!