Oh my goodness! It has been entirely too long! I have no excuse except, “life keeps life-ing”. Actually, I have been, as my mother used to say, “in a mood” for a while. You know that saying about God only giving you what you can handle? Well the big guy and I needed to have a little sit down and discuss the difference between what I CAN handle and what I AM WILLING to handle! I seriously feel like I have had my share of health drama….I am over it….and yet it continues. (Yes, I will be talking about God today).
I have been truly lucky with the amputation, and sometimes, I feel like I have no right to complain. There are people out there that have had it so much worse than me. The surgery was flawless, I rarely get phantom pain, I walk great, I didn’t have to go through any physical therapy and I am actually happy with the decision to amputate…most of the time. I have developed a neuroma on the bottom right side of my residual limb. According to Merriam-Webster.com, a neuroma is:
1: a tumor or mass growing from a nerve and usually consisting of nerve fibers
2: a mass of nerve tissue in an amputation stump resulting from abnormal regrowth of the stumps of severed nerves—called also amputation neuroma
According to PodiatryToday.com, “The stump neuroma is a natural and expected occurrence after nerve injury. When damaged, the proximal nerve segment attempts to regenerate, leading to a bulb-shaped thickening or stump”. Basically, during the amputation, the nerves are severed with the leg. They regenerate quickly and can create a cluster of nerve cells that shoot off in multiple directions instead of in a straight line, which can cause mixed signals about sensation, which can cause the stump to be extremely sensitive to any touch, no matter how light. Every time my prosthesis hits the neuroma just right (which is frequently), pain occurs. Most of the time, the pain is tolerable, a 5 or so on a scale of 1-10, like the pins and needles feeling when your foot falls asleep. However, it has gotten so intense that it has actually made me cry.
The nerve does not run straight up and down. The neuroma is on the side, but the nerve actually runs on an angle and goes behind the knee. That is usually where the pain is the worst. It feels like someone is stabbing me behind the leg, where it bends. I have actually had this happen while I driving on the freeway (three different times). The pain got so bad that I had to pull off on the shoulder and take my leg off. I have also had it happen in yoga class and in the grocery store. In January, I started going to the gym. I have been limited to what I can do because of this stupid neuroma. This has defeated the purpose of the amputation, as I am back to worrying if I will be able to do my normal activity without pain.
My Prosthetist, Rich, who is truly amazing, has been working non-stop with me to try to resolve the problem. We tried shaving out a small indent in the socket, so the neuroma didn’t hit, but that didn’t work. We decided to start from scratch and make a new socket. We tried three test sockets (I think). The first two, the fit was so off, that I didn’t even leave with it. The third one was fine when I left, but within a few hours, I could barely walk due to the pain. I ended up removing the test socket myself and using the old one. Rich went above and beyond and found a brand new liner. It is a bit thicker and much softer (it was also designed to stay cooler). We decided to try the liner and recast over that. Of course the liner is on back-order. We having been messing with this for over a month, trying to fix this problem without medical intervention. Now, I do not know what all of these treatments are (or what some of the words mean) but I am pretty sure that a better fitting socket is much better than: injection therapy, sterotactic radiosurgery, fractionated sterotactic radiosurgery, radiotheraphy, surgical removal or steroids – oral or injected (which is seriously counterproductive, considering I lost my leg, which lead to the neuroma, from the use of steroids for a medical condition). THANK YOU to the best Prosthetist ever, for doing everything in your power to help me try to avoid these “cures”!
So, while dealing with this stupid neuroma and already being insanely frustrated, let’s add another medical scare. I found a lump in my breast and went in for a mammogram. Of course, because of the location, the mammogram turned up clean. I was sent in for an ultrasound. Nothing was found. I insisted something was there. The Ultrasound tech got the doctor, who eventually found a mass and scheduled me for a biopsy. I was a little nervous, but not too much. There is no history of any type of cancer in my family. Plus, as one of my good friends said, “you already lost a leg, God is not going to take a boob too.” Anyway, I went in for the biopsy and because I am a “go big or go home” kind of girl, it had to be something (I the doctor’s expert medical opinion) “weird”. It turns out, the mass that showed up on the ultrasound is NOT where the lump is and the lump does not show up on the ultrasound. They biopsied the mass they could find (which came back negative, thank God), but I still have to go see a surgeon about the lump. I know it is probably going to be nothing to worry about, but seriously, can I have ONE YEAR that I do not have surgery, have to go to a hospital or have a slew of medical tests??
I have done a lot of searching and praying and thinking and throwing tantrums and crying and you know what I have come up with? I do not believe (my) God “gives me only what I can handle”. I do not believe God “gives me” anything. I believe life happens. People get sick. They lose jobs, have babies, lose loved ones, get married….all of it. God helps us get through each situation that life throws at us. I do not think (my) God is someone who would intentionally make people go through pain. I believe he helps us get through our struggles. I believe he puts people in our lives at the exact time we need them. For example, I recently became friends with one of the mom’s at Lauren’s school. We instantly clicked. Guess what? She was an Oncology Nurse and walked me through everything I would experience with the biopsy and helped me afterward. I have several friends that came into my life at the perfect moment. I believe (my) God did that.
I will continue through these new medical issues as I have with all the others. I will rely on my family and friends to pick me up when I am down. I will pray. I will probably have a few (more) melt-downs and I will do it all with as much grace and dignity as I can manage.
I want you all to know how much I appreciate all of my readers….the ones who have been with me from day one and the ones who are just joining me on my journey. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your day!