Thursday, January 8, 2015

When A Broken Leg Is Not "The Thing"

When I blogged with the news about my broken leg five weeks ago, I anticipated that it would be the initial blog in Comeback Series with titles like, "Training On Crutches," and "Scoot-Scootin' Back Into Fitness," and "Five Days Until I Get This Boot Off My Leg." (It really is five days until I get this boot off my leg.) I thought it would be a fun way to document my progress and keep me sane. However, aside from the initial entry and occasional social media updates, I never wrote about my journey (Ed is rolling his eyes right now), with this fracture again, and the reason is simple.

My broken leg became secondary. It was no longer The Thing.

The Weird Numbness
Even before I learned about my fracture, I had started having unusual symptoms that didn't match the things I typically experience with Crohn's or general runner's aches. Remember my blog about the marathon, how cold it was, and the numb foot and leg I experienced for a half mile? That was the first sign, though I didn't know it at the time.

In the days post-marathon, as I was unknowingly working a nice little fracture into my left fibula, I noticed that my heels were going numb every evening. I attributed it to lingering plantar fasciitis and didn't think much about it except to talk about how weird it was to touch my heels and not feel a thing.

My blood pressure started rising. So did my already-high heart rate.

After I got the boot on my leg, I remember loosening it because I had lost feeling in my entire left foot, and that must be due to a too-tight walking cast, right?

The numbness was accompanied by deathly cold skin. I burned my foot on our heater one evening trying to warm it. I couldn't feel that it was too hot.

The Weird Colors
Shortly after my fracture was diagnosed, my toes started going numb every evening,  One night, I took off my boot to look at them, and what I saw was frightening. My toes were all bright blue. I sent Wendy a picture. She came over and took my pedal pulse, which was diminished. That's when we involved our orthopedist.

The numbness started happening three to four times a day. My feet, or parts of them, turned white as they went numb, changed to blue after several minutes, then turned bright, fiery red as the blood rushed back. That part is extremely painful, a judgment that comes from a girl who has undergone kidney stones multiple times. I'll spare you a picture of the blue toes, but here is a link to the white stage for those of you interested in such things. (As always, I make the yuck-pic optional. You're welcome.)

The Weird Diagnosis
Raynaud's Phenomenon. Check out the Wiki, if you'd like. It's not just, "Hey, my feet are cold!" It's, "Hey, I need to get my blood flowing again or I may lose this toe." It's brought to life by cold conditions and emotional stress. It's not all that uncommon. However, mine is in my feet instead of the hands, and it suddenly started attacking my life out of nowhere.

Raynaud's can be primary—not occurring in association with another disease—or secondary. When it's secondary, something else causes it. I'm in the middle of a series of tests to determine why this is happening so suddenly and so forcefully.

The Weird Blog
So why am I posting this weird blog about it now? Because today, I got some really good news. Originally, all the signs were pointing toward my Raynaud's being secondary to a very serious condition with a very serious prognosis. Today, I learned that it's unlikely that I have that condition. After two-and-a-half weeks of my family and I being burdened with the what-ifs of a potential diagnosis, my heart feels so light with relief that I wanted to shout my joy from the rooftops... and this is the 21st century way to do that.

Also, Ed has saved the day—no, the year—with the purchase of hunter's toe warmers. I wear 115°F on each foot except when I sleep. It has reduced the attacks by 90%, at least. Tomorrow, I begin taking a new medicine that will help, as well. I'm allowed to be outdoors, but I have to take extra precautions to stay as warm as possible.

Obviously, there's still more to learn, but according to my new rheumatologist, we can learn those things while I teach and run and quilt and sing and laugh and love and LIVE.

Love my family... my friends.

I could not have borne the last month without my dear family and friends! Love you all.

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