Post-op Update and Other News



Today is Monday and my Achilles tendon surgery was Thursday, so I am well on my way to moving out of the right-after-surgery phase into the gosh-isn’t-recovery-boring part.

Other than starting a couple of hours late, surgery went pretty well. Because my calf muscle has contracted, my foot doesn’t flex as it should. The solution is to make small incisions in the Achilles tendon, allowing it to lengthen and permitting the foot to flex normally. The foot is held in a proper position by a surgical boot for six weeks as the tendon heals.

The actual surgery site hasn’t caused any pain. I had some pain medication after surgery and a couple of pain pills the first night to help me sleep and then nothing but a few Tylenol since then. However, there have been some unanticipated “side effects” of the surgery:

  • Since they placed me on my stomach for the surgery, they inserted a breathing tube to ensure my safety during the procedure. My major complaint after the surgery was a really sore throat. (Trust me, the dryness caused by Sjogren’s and breathing tubes don’t mix well.)
  • I have really bad shoulders and using a walker is really painful. One shoulder has been replaced and the other one has had two rotator cuff surgeries. I was not able to put any weight on the foot for the first three days and placing that kind of stress on my shoulders made it very difficult/painful to get around. We’ve since rented a wheelchair for longer road trips (such as to the kitchen), which helps, but I have some narrow doors in my house so I am still reliant on the walker for certain destinations — like the bathroom. I am able to start putting some weight on the foot which is helping a lot. I am hopeful that by the end of the week I can graduate to a cane or at least my new forearm crutches.
  • I have a Morton’s neuroma in the surgical foot. I had actually thought about talking to the surgeon about removing it during surgery (I had the one in the other foot removed several years ago). But it’s small and generally not very troubling. However, being in a surgical boot puts constant pressure on the bottom of your foot — kind of like being on your feet 24 hours a day — which aggravates the situation. The major pain I’ve had has been associated with the neuroma rather than the actual surgery.
  • I’ve discovered all kinds of barriers in my house. For example, I have a great walk-in shower with a bench but there’s a threshold going into the shower. Hopping over this threshold getting in and out of a wet shower is, frankly, terrifying. Now that I’m able to put a bit more weight on my foot, I’m hoping these barriers will be less of an issue.

My husband has been great looking after me and my BFF came over the day after surgery to “babysit” so my husband could take care of some things at the office, so I’ve had some excellent care. (Thanks, Pat!) Today is the first day on my own, but I’ve demonstrated that I can successfully make it to the kitchen and the bathroom and I have a pocket to carry my phone with me at all times, so I should be good to go. (Except that I am already tired of movies and books … and don’t yet have the attention span for a lot of writing. Bored. Bored. Bored.)

In other, more important news, I hope that you will join me in holding friend and fellow blogger, Irma ( in your thoughts and prayers as her husband recovers from a severe heart attack and the resulting complications. I’ll get by just fine, but Irma and her family need all our support.

Thanks for checking in.


Can Probiotics Help RA?


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There is a lot of discussion (civil and otherwise) about diet and inflammation. There has been some interesting studies lately that indicate that probiotics can help reduce inflammation overall and RA symptoms specifically.

Read more in my recent post at


Can Probiotics Help RA?

The War on Opioids Becomes Personal


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My BFF and fellow blogger Wren has just posted a very personal account on how the now-radical war on opioids can affect the patient — in this case her:

The following is the comment I left on the article and I invite you to read both her article and peruse the Academy of Pain Management Physicians’ position papers. Anyone with a chronic painful condition will be directly impacted by the FDA’s new initiatives. We will be the victims.

A major part of this situation is that the FDA and professional organizations are enforcing this war on opioids through pressure on the physicians who prescribe the drugs. While physicians were once patient advocates for pain medication, they are now in the position of potentially protecting their professional licenses by only prescribing the drugs for severe circumstances such as post-surgical and cancer pain. Your strategy of seeing a pain-management physician is a good one. The American Academy of Pain Management Physicians (which is a strong voice of sanity in this seemingly one-sided discussion) has a number of position papers that invite reason and compassion as well as the appropriate prescription of opioids. They can be found here:



Insurance Companies, Privacy and Boundaries


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I wrote about this subject a while back when I discovered my insurance company had listed all my lab/test results for the two-year period I had been covered with them on their website where I could refer to them. And I also assume that the several thousand people who do customer service work for the insurance company could see them as well. I questioned (as I still do) the insurance company’s right to the information (and when/where I gave it to them) and certainly their right to publish it in such an open forum.

Let me just say that I am and will eternally grateful for insurance companies. Without them, my health and quality of life, which is dependent upon affordable health care, would be in a far different state than it is today. I further highly respect their fiscal responsibility to try to control health care costs. But I tend to think the boundary line needs to be drawn at approving procedures and medications, not being privy to personal test results. Or giving medical advice (which is the doctor’s job).

This has pissed me off come up again because I just received a letter from my current insurance company. It’s actually entitled a “Care Consideration” that’s an alert about something that might be improved. In this instance, they’re recommending that I get a Hepatitis B vaccination. I’m not exactly sure why they think this — they didn’t say. I suspect that it’s because one of my liver enzyme tests is slightly elevated and has been for some time. Between being a bit overweight (which translates into fat in the liver) and taking some very strong RA drugs that can affect the liver, you can pretty much anticipate things to be a lot more out of whack than they are. My gastroenterologist, my rheumatologist, and my primary care physician (PCP) have all weighed in on my liver enzymes and I’m monitored with lab work every four weeks. NONE of my doctors have said a word about getting the Hepatitis B vaccine. So where does the friggin’ insurance company come off giving me medical advice?

And then I kind of laughed because I immediately wondered if they would even cover it, even though they recommended it.

As it turns out I have an appointment with my PCP next week for the medical clearance for my upcoming ankle surgery. Being the good patient I am, I am taking the “Care Consideration” letter along with me. The discussion will no doubt cause my blood pressure numbers to go through the roof. I wonder what my insurance company will say about that?

I hope whatever care consideration there are in your life bring you a smile. Thanks for checking in.

Same Drug, Same Procedure, Different Cost



Insurance companies have different rules for covering drugs depending on whether you get them from a pharmacy and administer them yourself, whether you receive them at a doctor’s office, or whether they’re administered in a hospital or similar health facility. My recent experience cost me an extra $120 just by walking across the street. Read more here:

Awareness of an Invisible Disease


May is Arthritis Awareness Month. Usually starting in April I get inquiries from various groups asking my help in raising awareness of RA and other arthritic conditions. I don’t mind helping out a good cause, but I tend to point out (rather obviously, I think) that people who read my blog are already aware of arthritis. We don’t need reminding. In fact, what most of us want is to become UNAWARE of arthritis. We want all the pain, stiffness, fatigue and other symptoms and especially medical bills to just disappear so we are completely unaware that we’ve ever had the disease.

(This reminds me of the story of Johnny Cash when he played Folsom Prison. He was told not to sing any songs that reminded the men that they were in prison. His wry reply was along the lines of, “Why? Do you think they’ve forgotten?”)

Most of us are caught in the dichotomy of wishing people understood our disease better and going to great lengths to keep it invisible to other people. It’s a tough balance.

I do what most of us do. I show up when I’d rather lie down.

Invisibility is important to many people for lots of reasons. But awareness is crucial for a lot of important reasons, too.

I don’t necessarily want to repeat myself fully here, but in honor of Arthritis Awareness Month, I invite you to read a favorite post of my entitled, “Being (In)visible” at

Thanks for checking in.

25 Pounds (and Counting)


I use this blog to whine a lot, so I thought I would also use it to brag a bit. Over the weekend, I crossed the 25-pound weight loss mark. While I still have a way to go, this is the least I’ve weighed since 2004.

Based on the gradual weight loss I’ve experienced, I expect it will take the rest of the year for me to get down to my goal weight. But I didn’t put all this weight on overnight, so I know I’m not taking it off overnight either.

When I hit the 20-lb mark at the end of March, I did a post at that talked about the decision and the process. If you’re interested, you can read it here:

Thanks for let me brag on myself and thanks for checking in.

Gastrocnemius Contracture Surgery with PRP Injection


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Quite a mouthful, huh? My left calf muscle is contracted which prevents my foot from flexing correctly which means I don’t walk correctly and also have pain in the calf and ankle.

You can read a more detailed discussion of the procedure here, but basically the surgeon makes small incisions in the Achilles tendon which then heals in a lengthened state. As part of the surgery, I’m having a platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection into the tendon. This kind of therapy has been shown to benefit healing in tendon injuries and repairs. They will spin down some of my blood, extract the platelets from it, mix them with some of my plasma and inject this into the tendon.

Then it’s a few weeks in a boot and six weeks of physical therapy and hopefully we’ll have solved another problem.🙂

I’ve done the steroid injections, the physical therapy, wearing a split to sleep in at night, putting a lift in my shoe, stretching exercises and every other conservative treatment that might work with little to no result.

I’ve got about a month to get ready for the surgery which is scheduled close to the end of June. Of course, having RA, I have to coordinate my treatments and medications to make sure I don’t cause healing or infection issues.

There’s no way to really determine what causes this. It’s probably more related to wearing 3″ heels for decades than anything to do with RA. But RA certainly doesn’t make things easier.

I want to thank Kim for her detailed posts at which gave me some great first-person insights as to what to expect during surgery and recovery. Finding this kind of information written by patients helped me when I was first diagnosed and went through hip replacement surgery and inspired me to start this blog in the hope of paying it forward.

I hope whatever surprises your calendar holds are happy ones! Thanks for checking in.