Archive for the ‘Sleep Apnea’ Category

Post MMA pics back up

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Surgery #3 Coming up on May 4. Get that titanium out of my skull!

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Just like any self-respecting OS, I need an upgrade.  Or a downgrade?  And do OSes have self respect?  In any case, I saw Dr. Li today.  He wasn’t supposed to be at work…but he was.  Go figure.  That man is never NOT working.  I wrote him on Saturday:

If I want to find out if something that hurts is a screw (I just had dental X-rays maybe a month ago) should I come in and have you look or should I go to my dentist?

I have been feeling like I have cavities in my roots on the top left and last night it was hurting pretty bad so I actually stuck my finger up into the gums and found a spot that really hurt when I pressed on it.  I have been attributing the root pain to sinus stuff but I don’t know why it would get worse and not better.

And he wrote me back a half hour later:
Actually, I was wondering where you’ve been and I was gonna give you a call last week…but too busy.  Just come in.

Too busy?  You don’t say.  I’m telling you, he is 1000% on it.  So I went in this morning and he gloved up and poked around in my mouth and said, “Yup.  It’s a plate.”  And felt around the other side…plate.  And down in the bottom left–“Ow”  “That hurts?”  “Yes, that’s what ow means” “Okay.  I am going to take EVERYTHING out.  All of it.”  He hates working on patients more than once and here I am asking him for surge number 3, but he thinks I’ll only need a week recovery and then we introduce (or subject) the world to Shelby 2.3

Can you handle it?


Monday, February 21st, 2011

Dr. Li wrote back because he is a superstar.
1. My sinus infection is not due to the hardware. Of that he is sure.
2. I’ll look at the scans of your sinus and give you opinion if you really want.
3. I will take your hardware out whenever you want…but not until your blood pressure is down.

Ok. So, sinus headache: being dealt with with rinses and steroids. Headache that creeps up behind left eye from nose to forehead is potentially eye strain! Glazes arrive Thursday.
That leaves piercing angry gnome with pickax in left side of brain and unexplained very high BP.
Lowered one med that can raise BP and make nervous, but that was a week ago and my BP is the same. See both gp and shrink on same day…they will decide if we proceed with the old lookeelookkee into the mooshy stuff between my ears.
I’m happy to be down to 1 undisguised headache but scared to go back to chiro since I ALWAYS get one after treatment…hmmm…correlation!
That’s it r now!

The novel to Dr. Li

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Hello Dr. Li, how’s 2011 treating you?

I saw the sinus doctor you recommended to me.  He was awesome the first time.  I got a CT and they said my front maxillary sinus was swollen.  Looks pretty cool on the scan.  I’ve been having headaches for so long now I was so excited that I would finally get relief.  I did everything he said.  Nasal rinses 2 x’s a day with Nasonex 2 sprays in each nostril twice a day.  Haven’t missed a dose.

Then I returned for my follow up – with no relief from the face pressure (left side only) and headaches (left side only).  Plus a new tooth is hurting now (top – second from the back) and I JUST had my teeth x-rayed less than 2 weeks ago, so not a cavity.  He said I had to do the Nasonex for another 6 months(which he also said would maybe help 5%) and he’d see me later.  He didn’t think my headaches were sinus related and handed me a paper study explaining that most headaches are not sinus headaches.  He also seemed really anxious not to be talking to me anymore.  Threw a bunch of medical jargon at me, didn’t explain it, and said have a nice summer.

And I asked…”Do you mean to tell me you think that I have different headaches and I just also HAPPEN to have a swollen maxillary sinus that is NOT causing sinus headaches?”  And he said yes.

Since I have been having stomach problems I went to my GP who ran EVERY TEST in the world.  10 vials of blood and an ultrasound of my pancreas and gall bladder.  The nurse practitioner I talked to said my tests looked fine.  I haven’t talked to Dr. Hom yet.  The ONLY thing different in my body is that my blood pressure is up to 148/98 at CVS it was 152/103 so I got a blood pressure cuff and it’s around 140/102 all the time.  On Monday when I saw the nurse practitioner it was 133/92 and that is the lowest it has been…it’s not that low anymore.  Dr. Inouye took my blood pressure.  It was 165/113 and they guessed it was about 10 off based on his assistant’s usual readings…so 155/103.

So my theory (to calm myself down from thinking it’s a frikkin brain tumor) is that I have 3 different kinds of headaches (because I believe I have now had 2 migraines – one on Wednesday that Roxicet didn’t TOUCH until the second one, and one on Sunday – spent the superbowl in a dark room with no sound).  Aside from the lovely migraines, I have, I believe, a chronic SINUS headache that is leading to a chronic STRESS headache.  Although according to literature, stress headaches are on both sides and mine is only on one.  But stress from chronic headaches could raise my BP, right?  What else can explain it?  Aside from a (yes I know obviously highly unlikely) brain tumor.  I say it jokingly but seriously I’m a panic attack away from crawling under my bed and never leaving home again.

Why am I bothering you?  Well, you’re the doctor I respect and trust.  Sorry.  You should have been a bigger jerk to me.

My first big question is: Since the maxillary sinus is so far down and the opening is so far up, and since I have yet to see anything come out of a nasal rinse or feel any relief from the Nasonex, does anything really get there down into the maxillary sinus through the nose?  I mean, they can’t even scope it, they can only look at the opening… I know I don’t have an infection, but the swelling…what causes it?  Why isn’t it getting better and only feeling worse?  If it weren’t for the fact that I feel more aggravation when I breathe in (than out) and my tooth nerve is killing me when I laugh or sing or talk loud, I would believe him and be sad that I have stress headaches and migraines.  But everything points to sinus being the culprit (stress headache secondary to chronic sinus headache in my opinion).  What do I know I’m just the stupid patient.

Big question #2: Do you think taking the hardware out will help at all?  Can you bomb my sinus?  I really just want to reach through my nose into my cheek and rip it out.

Big question #3: Regardless of hardware removal helping sinus or not, I want to schedule that bad boy asap.  Not that I want or am looking forward to you cutting my gums again (I know feeling is mutual), but the screws have got to go.  I’m thinking sometime in March.  Maybe early April?  Thoughts?  Can you do it with this high BP since I’m obviously just sick in the head?

The good news is I’m down to 135 lbs (from the 160 I ballooned up to), though probably not for the right reasons except we are working out so at least I’m not flabby thin like I was when I met you the first time.

Now back to my deep breathing exercises.

Hope this didn’t piss you off too much.


I’ll bet Dr. Li never thought he’d have to keep in touch with a patient for sooooo long.

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

I should explain that I have, I believe, been having some sinus problems for at least 8 months (if not more).  I’ve been going to allergists to try to find out what this post nasal drip fountain is, and I’m not allergic to anything, so I was a wee bit baffled.  Result: pseudoephedrine to address post nasal drip.

I figured out it was my sinuses (having never had a sinus infection before that I remember) when my dentist said that my symptoms (bad breath, nerve pain in top teeth when I walked) sounded more like my sinuses.  That was on June 24, 2010.  I bombarded my body with more pseudoephedrine and my new best friend Mucinex and a megaton of water every day.  The teeth stopped hurting.  I thought I had bad breath and learned how to talk to people while inhaling whenever I had to get close to them.  I thought maybe it was coffee breath.  I don’t know.  I’m not that smart.  But I did notice that even minutes after brushing my teeth it would taste bad and really thought it was the bite guard.  Even though I efferdent it EVERY DAY and it didn’t smell bad after it was cleaned, I just figured this was something I was going to have to live with until I got my teeth to touch again someday.

The headaches (on the left side of my head only) began on June 3 (I can’t actually say if I ever had one like it before, I just know it was definitely there that day), 2010 after going to what I thought was going to be a massage and what turned out to be acupuncture, then a massage.  I thought a troll or an alien was trying to escape through the top left side of my head.

I went to the massage/acupuncture appointment because some dude had rear ended me while I was parked in a parking lot on May 13, 2010.  I figured the SEVERE and debilitating headache was my body “adjusting” to acupuncture (having never experienced acupuncture before).  Every time I went to acupuncture after that I got that SEVERE headache on the left side.  Incidentally, the massage guy massaged my sacrum into serious misalignment and I couldn’t sit without pain for weeks, so I looked up a local chiropractor (also not something I usually subscribe to, but I figured, someone popped my back out, someone else can pop it back in).

On July 9, 2010 I started seeing a chiropractor and it of course resulted in my seeing her 3 times a week for 3 weeks, then twice a week for 5 weeks, then blah blah blah etc. etc….it took months for me to be able to sit without pain.  Even now, traffic throws me into some serious discomfort.  NOTE:  Most every time she did some serious adjusting I got THE HEADACHE. Which of course was explained to me as my body adjusting to the adjustments.  This is the angry gnome trying to escape via the top left of my skull. (Yes, it is now a gnome)

Fast forward to Thanksgiving.  I was in Hawaii…and realised that my breath was so bad I was going to have to become a hermit and be single because it was really really really horrible.  Then my teeth started to hurt.  And my face was killing  me (yes I know, it’s killing you too).  DING!  Light went on.

iPad came out, symptoms entered (remember the mucinex and pseudoephedrine I’d been downing to address post nasal drip), SINUS INFECTION.  Contacted awesome doctor who I knew had one of his diplomas in Otolaryngology = antibiotics because it was that easy to diagnose.  Bad breath resolved after 1 course of antibiotics.  Awesome.  But nothing else changed.  Still post nasal drip, still headaches, face still hurt.  Of course I talked to Dr. Li and he referred me to a SINUS SPECIALIST.  wooooo.  I was so excited, even though it took about 2 months to get in.

So on January 20, 2010 I got to see the Sinus Doctor and I thought all my problems would go away.

See next post for the novel I just wrote to Dr. Li who should charge me if he answers it.

This just in: Maybe no jaw surgery?!? But not surgery-free.

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

No holding of breath, but we’re trying some STUFF…involving chiropractics (though no CRACKING or POPPING of my jaw, just muscle work), this horrible bite wedge thing, and me massaging the HECK out of every single muscle I can get ahold of in my head.
At the end of October we will re-assess. The 3-D scan looked interesting and when I get the motivation, I’ll put it up here. For now I’m just sighing in relief that I’m not going under the knife anytime soon. One bad thing though…In the exploration of tissue in my head…I have come across some RATHER painful points that I just could NOT figure out. Went to see the great Dr. Li…what is it????

We had a fight.

It went something like this:

Me: It hurts here (pointing to side of jaw)
Dr. Li: That’s probably a screw. (Presses on said point on side of jaw)
Me: Ow.
Dr. Li: Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s a screw
Me: If you put your finger in my mouth you can feel it right along the gum line back there. Feels like a shard of bone.
Dr. Li: It’s not a bone shard. It’s probably a screw.
Me: Put your finger in my mouth!
Dr. Li (putting on gloves and looking at X-rays): The bone is so thin back there, the screw heads aren’t flush.
Me: Come on, I won’t bite.
Dr. Li (looks at me)
Me: Hard?
Dr. Li (sticks finger in mouth and immediately finds point I was talking about)
Me: Ow.
Dr. Li. It’s a screw. It’s this one (points to X-ray). Shelby, I do not want to do surgery on you again!
Me: Sorry.
Dr. Li: I thought you said it was the jaw JOINT that was hurting.
Me: Yes! It is! But in addition to that, trying to get the muscles to relax, I have uncovered this problem.
Dr. Li (pointing at my x-rays at the chin where the last hardware removal event occurred): Why didn’t you tell me THEN that these were bothering you?!?
Me: I didn’t KNOW they were bothering me! Plus! Why didn’t you just take them out while you were in there?
Dr. Li (purses lips and looks at me with evil glare)
Me: Is it because you were too busy removing my tonsils?
Dr. Li: Well, I am not doing anything until your jaw joint is under control. So just tell me when I have to take the hardware out.
Me: Just this one?
Dr. Li: OOOOH NOOOO. I’m taking it ALL out. We’re not going to do this again!
Me: Ok cool. I’ll let you know.
Dr. Li: Yeah, you let me know.
Me: Oh, hey look what I can do! (wiggle my jaw side to side)
Dr. Li: That’s great! I don’t want to do another jaw surgery on you.
Me: Well, you may not have to…except the hardware.
Dr. Li: (silence and pursed lips). Well, at least you look good. Have you been losing more weight? (He’s allowed to say these things since it is already established that extra weight on me = sleep apnea again)
Me: Yes, it’s amazing what not being able to chew can do for weight loss!
Dr. Li: Go away.

He loves me.

And now you know why he schedules me at the end of the day when no other patients will hear us bickering.

The end in sight is someone mooning me.

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

It’s been that time for a while. What time? Blog update time. Especially since I told Julie I’d write more and then…didn’t! Boo hiss.

I just got back from Dr. I the new ortho who is getting my jaw to settle down so that I can (dreams dreams dreams) eat without pain. When he first started working with me he said he could fix my jaw issue then make my teeth touch, if I didn’t mind braces again. Of course I don’t mind braces again…if it means someday I will be a normal kid. Okay, maybe I MIND a little…but I won’t give anyone a hard time if it accomplishes my end goal, right? Dr. Li and Dr. I have spoken about my case and everyone thought all this was do-able withOUT another jaw surgery. Have you noticed yet that I am conveying what everyone thought in the past tense?

Zut alors!

Dr. I took a look at my new million dollar x-rays (okay just $300, but how many of these am I going to get this year?) and saw that my lower jaw is still sitting too far back, especially on the right where the bone has changed from all this abuse. So we played around with jaw placement and I’m pretty much going to look like Ms. Sling Blade when they get things all settled. And that’s when Dr. I started talking about making “spaces” in the upper teeth and augmenting this or that to do some “aesthetic dentistry” and I said, “Are you saying all this because really what I need is surgery?” And he kind of sighed and said maybe yes. Then talked a little about moving upper jaw forward (which means I would look like a monkey) or shortening the lower jaw…yeah, so surgery. Guess I’ll go bug Dr. Li to get those two pow-wow-ing about me.

So what did I do in reaction to all this news (which I have been fearfully suspecting but telling myself I was being paranoid for a while now)? I bought myself a double iced latte and 2 bags of sourdough snacks, sat down here and shared with you. The end. NOT!

Allergies? Allergies? You don’t have no stinking allergies.

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

I have a very very bad habit of starting things and not finishing them — oh look!  Something shiny!  Where was I?  Right.  Unfinished tasks.  I also have a motivation problem.  I can think about something so much that I am exhausted before I’ve even moved and it never even gets started.

Why start my post this way?  Well, for years I have suspected I have allergies.  I don’t get sneezy (except this year) and I haven’t noticed a consistant “seasonal” onset, but I have post nasal drip.  ALL THE TIME.  And after I eat (not every meal, but MOST) I get very phlegmy and have to clear my throat for about 30 minutes.  In addition to these minor things I SWEAR I can tell when I have eaten a walnut because my mouth hurts and sometimes I throw up.

So…  A few years ago I had a nasty experience at my favorite Indian restaurant where I ordered something new that didn’t have walnuts in it, my mouth exploded as if I had had walnuts, and I threw up in our parking lot when I got home.  When I spoke to the owner he said there were only cashews in the dish, and only cashew powder for that matter.  No matter…because I used to snack on cashews by the pound so I’m pretty sure I am not allergic to cashews.  To this day they insist there was nothing other than cashew dust in the dish, but my mouth is usually pretty specific with the walnuts so…who the heck knows.

This prompted me to finally go to an allergist.  He was a nice guy.  He listened to my story.  He got his assistant to bring in a few huge trays of pokey allergens that they smooshed into my back, and afterwards, after NOTHING happened on my back (aside from me feeling like someone had turned me into a pin cushion) said, “I’ll bet you think you’re done.”  Well, actually I didn’t…but I was wondering what the next step would be.  Turns out it’s blood.  They take your blood and test it for all the things they just stuck into your back.  Good times.  Unfortunately, that blood work required me to find a place to take my blood, make a time to go (with no end time since you know how long you can end up waiting at those walk-in blood places!) and *sigh* actually go.  That never happened.

Fast forward a year or so (sad how I used to be so specific with my timeline memory) and put me in front of my favorite steak house/fancy drink restaurant with a couple vendors.  Business meeting.  Talking shop.  Had some garlic bread, a couple drinks, and all three of us split a shrimp cocktail – but they were huge so that means it was a prawn cocktail, right?  Anyhow, one vendor left and I was sitting with Rick whom I have worked with for a decade when suddenly my blood pressure took a large dive and it was all I could do to keep from fainting.  As I fought the darkness shoving its way forward from my periphery, I managed to say something like “I think I’m going to pass out” before VIOLENTLY THROWING UP…TWICE…on the table.   Mmmmm.  Good times.  This led me to believe I am allergic to shrimp, or prawns, a theory which I have not tested since (repeat? no thank you!) since immediately after “the incident” I felt better.  But did I get around to that blood test?  Did I follow up with the allergist?  Of course not.  Fast forward a couple of years to, oh, say, 2 weeks ago.

This allergy season was killing me!  Feeling like I had to sneeze for hours at a time.  Watering eyes (accompanying the feeling that I was just about to sneeze), runny nose, and that darned post nasal drip!  I was getting tired during the day again, so of course suspected my sleep apnea was rearing it’s Supposed-to-be-gone-now hideous head and began to despair.  For some, their hours of darkness find them calling out to the heavens.  I cry out (on email, so he doesn’t have to hear my sniffly whine) to Dr. Li.  And Dr. Li always answers.  This time he said, “Get thee to an allergist.” (I may have paraphrased a little).

Made the appointment.  Since it’s a new doctor and I didn’t  have records transferred (I did think about it!  But you know how that goes)  she didn’t take my word that someone else’s 3 trays of needles smooshed into my epidermis had no reaction and so she ordered her own.  I think her tech was way too into making each one hurt.  Whereas the 1st allergist had been able to smoosh one tray at a time (each tray housing some couple dozen allergen stick points) for a total of 3 moments of discomfort, this one had each allergen administered individually underneath my skin…and she had ordered many many allergens tested.  Unfortunately the burning I felt was not a reaction anywhere on my back and so the tech came back with the big guns.  Real needles.  None of these little prick your skin things.  These 8 needles had larger doses of certain allergens that were then INJECTED under my skin.  Those burned too, but according to whatever chart they had, none of them reacted (though it sure did look red and welty when I got home and stung until I got up in the middle of the night and exfoliated my back in the shower).

Turns out, the only thing you can do with the sticking and the pricking and the injecting of allergens into someone’s body is the existence of an allergy.  You cannot prove one doesn’t exist this way.  So what next?  Yes.  Blood.  I now have another blood work form to take to some blood work center.  I’m pretty sure I’ll do this one since my post nasal drip has turned into the feeling that something is caught in the mucus that has taken up residence at the back of my throat and I am tired during the day, especially while driving in traffic.  Boo Hoo.

I am going to stop writing now to go take an allerclear, drink a gallon of water, and forage for a salty snack that I hope doesn’t turn me into more of a phlegm monster than I am presently.  Hasta!

Oh…here’s a picture of my back that night.  Yes.  I have a lot of dots.  I know this.  What I am trying to show you are the “non-reactive” needle sticks.  Primarily I’m talking about the ones on the left that look like flea bites, though you can still see the writing on my back where she labeled the ones on the right.

Yes, I know I have lots of dots.

Yes, I know I have lots of dots.

What do May Showers Bring? (Hint: Sniffling and Breakups)

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Allergies!  That’s what May Showers Bring!

I have never had such a time of allergies before!  I’m even doing the sneezing thing!  Anyone else been hit with all this sun, no–rain, no–sun, no–rain the world is my histamine way of things?  *sniffle*  On the up side, one would think, based on my history that my sleep would suffer immensely with all this upper respiratory aggravation, but it seems Dr. Li’s UPPP (leaving the U of course) is still working on keeping that airway open.  Hooray!  Now on to the non-hooray-type things you love so much.

I’ve been dumped.  The short story is I’m a people pleaser and I guess I didn’t communicate enough that I was not happy…or that I was actually in physical pain…  Alas, when it finally got to the point where I could not bear it anymore and I didn’t feel heard or even genuinely cared about, I went to the only man who has been able to help in the past…Dr. Li.  I didn’t even run to him in person.  I ran to him on email…and he wrote back with a solution.  But that solution had consequences.  And so I give you, the not-as-long-as-it-could-be (but most likely longer than it should be) version of my breakup — with my orthodontist.

As you know (or can pretend to have known going forward), I have been kind of unhappy with the whole non-touching of my back left teeth phenomenon and have been trying to get my ortho to fix it.  As I may or may not have mentioned previously, my jaw, post surgery, has not returned to pre-surgery opening-ability, but I figured that was a small sacrifice for the whole ability to breathe thing I gained.  I also figured that over time my jaw would stop hurting when I tried to bite high-resistance food…  At one point in time my ortho recommended physical therapy, which I went to once and was given home exercises that made things even worse.  That was a couple years ago.  I eat Naproxen like mints (sorry, future ulcerated digestive tract) and had been managing under this CRAZY theory I had that once my teeth touched in the back, the pain would go away.

Every 3 months I would dutifully drive to my ortho exam, happily chat with the lovely people who work there, and mention that I was experiencing discomfort biting and chewing and ask if anything was going to be done about the teeth touching thing, and I’d be told one of these things: 1.  Your dentist should deal with this.  2.  Maybe he can cap your teeth.  3.  Maybe he’ll file down the teeth that are touching soon.  4.  I think you need PT.  And every 6 months I would talk to my dentist who would say: 1. No way.  We wouldn’t add THAT much height to a tooth.  2.  No way,  We won’t file down your teeth.  3.  Maybe in a few years when you need to replace that filling we could do something back there.  Honestly?  Nothing ever sounded good so I just didn’t press it, and dealt with the pain…WHICH I SHOULD NOT HAVE DONE.  Here are my words of wisdom to you who may be afraid to say to your doctor, “I don’t think what you did (or are doing) works”:  SAY IT.  By the end of November I could no longer chew.  I was back to baby food and mashed potatoes.  It was too much to bear.  Was I really never going to be able to eat pain-free?  This time I was adamant that things were not right when I saw my ortho.  Response?  PT.  I wanted to cry.  I asked, “Don’t you think this would go away if my teeth touched in the back on the left? ”  Got the usual response.  So I emailed Dr. Li.  I asked, do you know any good PT’s?  Because I figured he must have dealt with this before.  He wrote back immediately and told me to come in.

This post is already too long so I’ll nutshell the rest:

Dr Li sent me to a guy he thought could help me.  The guy ordered XRays (3-D x-rays that cost about $100 per dimension).  I went in to see him and he made me a splint for my teeth that basically looks like invisalign but is actually a wedge on the left giving my back teeth contact.  I have to eat with this thing in and it sucks…but within 2 days I COULD EAT NORMAL FOOD.  This guy happens to be an orthodontist but he wasn’t working on  my teeth, he was working on my jaw.

I went to my next 3 month appointment where I let my ortho know I was working with this other guy for my jaw.  She repeated she thought it was just that the disc in my jaw had slipped and I thought to myself “yeah, and how did that happen?  Could it be because my back teeth on the left weren’t touching?”  I’m being snarky now, but that’s just because I didn’t think there would be a problem since she was still working on my teeth (though she had told me she thought we were just in “maintenance mode” which was about when I flipped and wrote Dr. Li)…and last time I went to see the guy taking care of my jaw, he had to tell me I’d been dumped and that if it was okay with me, he would be my new orthodontist…oh, and could he put braces on me?

So there it is.

And my new ortho had to build my teeth up even more last week since my jaw started to calm down and we have started to see what my real bite looks like.  So here is what I look like now.

This is the bite wedge I wear 24/7.  Can't eat without it.

This is the bite wedge I wear 24/7. Can't eat without it! Â That's my bite. Â Good times.

Another surgery? What the What?

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Here I am, luxuriating (read: flopped and propped) on my chaise lounge, post-op.  It’s like deja-vu, but not really.  This surgery was on a body part well below my neck and not, I believe, a contributer to sleep apnea.  Although, I did hypothesize to my surgeon that the reason none of my previous forays into this particular body part repair in essence failed previously was due to the fact that I did not breathe at night, hence had greatly diminished my healing power, and he agreed there was a high likelihood I was right.  I love being right…or even people suspecting I am right.  It just feels so…RIGHT. But I digress as usual. Please do keep in mind surgery was this morning so I’m still in the “don’t operate heavy machinery” zone – which is why I am using a laptop! (ba-dum-bum)

What was it this time?  (Believe me, I heard that question plenty) Alas, it is my knee.  The left one.  But I’m already doing 50% weight bearing (as in 50% of my body weight) and little knee bends (per doctor’s instructions!  I promise I’m not jumping the recovery gun!).  How did this happen?  Well there’s really no easy answer.  Let’s go back in time a few years, shall we?

December 1983.  Or maybe go back even further to my birth.  This story is already too long.  I’ll put it in timeline fashion.

Birth: I was born “toeing in” and wore a Denis-Browne splint to turn my feet/legs/hips out.


Not sure if it was tibial or femoral, but nonetheless, I got to wear a lovely pair of shoes attached to a big blue bar.  I don’t remember this.  I do remember my brother also got to wear one.  Not my sister, lucky duck.  It is hereditary and my mom actually had casts on her legs to correct hers.  Now I don’t know if this contributed to my knee issues, but I figured I’d mention it.

Age 4: Enter the world of ballet.  It’s possible Mom put me in ballet just to help with the pidgeon toed swayed back pot belly thing, but the main point is that I LOVED ballet and I was evidently pretty good.

Age 6 (I think): I was accepted into the San Francisco School of Ballet on scholarship, and by age 7 I think I was dancing in the professional level.  I got paid (I think it covered bridge toll–this was not the lottery) to perform in various ballets, the primary one being, of course The Nutcracker.

Age 10: One of my parts was as the tail end of the Chinese dragon in Act II.  Imagine 5 girls harnessed together under a big dragon costume with only their legs showing.  It’s a short piece, but the guy playing the Chinese Dragon Tamer found himself in a little bit of a pickle when he vaulted himself up onto his pole (he would do cartwheels using the pole instead of his hands if that makes sense) and found his landing spot was either the dragon or the orchesta pit.  He chose the tail end of the dragon (aka: me) and since I couldn’t see more than the girl in front of me, I had no idea what was coming.  Boom!  Splat.  The costume even came up for a moment and I saw a guy in the front row laughing (not mean laughing but probably surprise that the dude landed on the dragon).  ER visit that night, back to performing almost immediately.  Years of PT and chiropractics.

Age 14: Lots of factors contributed  to my leaving ballet, but a big one was that I was watching more classes than I was taking due to knee pain.

I love this picture of the last full length ballet I was in.  Check out the knee brace AND band-aid.  My mom was so mad that I hadn’t thought to take them off before the shoot!

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Age 18: Left knee surgery.  PT rocked me back into recreational ballet shape.  I think I would have been good to go.

Age 19: Car accident.  Woman ran a red light and hit me while I was turning Left across an  intersection with a green arrow.  Hit right knee on steering wheel.  College student = no money so no treatment until knee started locking and I started falling.  It was actually kind of funny except for the horrible sudden pain.  I mean, how many 19 year old girls do you see falling out of cars when they are trying to exit when they are NOT drunk?

Age 22: Right knee surgery.  (Doc found pieces of cartilage hanging out in joint, one was the size of a quarter – it had been growing for 3 years. I believe the limping and falling thing was probably what tore the Left knee up again.  No PT (recent college grad also = no $), which resulted in bad knee tracking which led to shredding the cartilage up.

~Age 26: After trying to take Tai Chi and asking my instructor: Is this walk supposed to hurt?  Right knee surgery.  Doc said it looked like “shredded crab meat” on back of knee.  It’s supposed to be smooth like a cue ball.

~Age 26 6 weeks later: Left knee surgery.  Doc found the back of this knee fractured from stress.  When I woke up he said “Well, it wasn’t in your head, it was in your knee!  It was broken!”  6+ months of PT and they still couldn’t get me pain free.  This was when I started REALLY slipping downhill health-wise and still had absolutely no idea that I had Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  I think a couple years earlier I’d started getting “treatment” (read: Ambien) for insomnia.  And as we all know, you don’t give people with untreated sleep apnea sleeping pills.  Almost immediate disintegration of knees Rice Krispy syndrome I call it).

2005: Started Adult Ballet Classes for exercise – no center, just barre.  Painful, but no more than stairs so I stuck with it.

2006: MMA/GA (The BIG Sleep Apnea surgery)

2007: WHAT THE–I went RUNNING!  My knees were actually beginning to HEAL!

2008: UPPP (The small yet ever so painful Sleep Apnea surgery)

2009: Started ballet again.  *joy*  Not professional – nowhere near.  Just a little (yes, sometimes painful and definitely crackly when I bent, but happy) barre work in the Adult Class, but by July I was Jumping.  Unfortunately that also led to falling (with style!…and embarrassment) but I recovered and was back in class (sans jumping) the next week.

November 2009: The infamous Ridge Hike on Oahu.  The trail looked like this:

The Trail - uh, what?

The Trail - uh, what?

I was told it was a 2 hour hike.  Yeah, 2 hours…ONE WAY.  It probably wouldn’t have ended the way it did, except the group I was with was JETTING up the mountain.  Way too fast-paced for someone with problems stepping UP.  And if you know anything about patellar knee pain, then you know that down hill is worse than uphill.  At 1 hour 45 minutes I was in way too much pain and kinda figured out (yeah I’m slow) that this wasn’t ending anytime soon.  I had to turn around and go back (using poor Courtland as my crutch).  From that incident, I never recovered and stairs became a thing of the past.  Also, squatting (which I do frequently when adjusting chairs and evaluating people for my work) became excruciating no matter how much I stuck my bottom out.  It was time to see the doc again.

2010: Stanford. X-Rays.  MRI’s.

Today: Left knee surgery.  I’ll post those pics later (don’t worry, not gross IMO).

Next Tuesday: Post-Op and PT.

I’m hoping my hypothesis holds water!  And I’m also REALLY hoping my right knee doesn’t take a big dump (it didn’t look as bad on the MRI so we’re going to try just PT instead of surgery) and fracture like last time!

Okay that was maybe my longest post ever.  Smac Out.