Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Keeping You Informed

Tuesday’s appointment at the VA’s Pulmonary Clinic resulted in my being certified to continue to receive the oxygen therapy for the next 12 months of oxygen.

Remember several months ago when I did the doe-see-doe dance with my primary physician at VA? This certification was similar, except it was much more traumatic since my oxygen bottle (yes, I am now addicted to it) was taken from me as soon as I arrived at the clinic.

Then, I was again walked up and down the hallways without oxygen while the respiratory therapist watched the digital readout of the clip on my finger that measured the oxygen content in my blood. When the alarm sound of the machine began telling the therapist that my oxygen level had dropped into the critical range, we were a good five minutes away from her office where we’d left my portable oxygen bottle. I came very close to passing out before we got back to it. And then it took several minutes before I could breathe again. I’m happy that I won’t have to go through that again for another year!

Today’s appointment at the Pulmonary Care Clinic had far less discernable results. X-rays were taken of my hips and it was confirmed that I have a bit of arthritis there, as well as in my left knee. However, the physician said that although that might account for the localized pain I experience it my upper leg, it would not cause the pain I feel up and down my leg. Perhaps there is something wrong with my back, he suggested.

As for the swelling and dryness in my leg between my knee and foot, the doc suggested that he is fairly certain that is caused by poor circulation which he said was a normal part of the aging process. He suggested that I keep my leg elevated above the level of my heart as much as possible. I think that I can do that when I am in been, but am uncertain how to do it when I am up. Am I a pretzel?

He also suggested frequent massaging of my lower leg with a moisturizing cream to increase blood circulation and help deal with the dryness. Tasha used to do that for me about once a week. However, the doc has suggested that I do it a couple of time daily.

I was exhausted by the time I returned home after both yesterday’s and today’s trip to the hospital. Naturally, Alex and I have been doing a lot of catnapping the past two days and I’ve not visited many blogs. I hope to get around to doing that soon.

The most useful information I obtained today came from a woman who was sitting in the x-ray department’s waiting room with me. We were sharing stories about out cats and she said that her cat behaves exactly like Alex concerning food in his dish. No matter how much food is available to the cat, he demands that she touch the food in his dish before he’ll eat it. That’s Alex exactly! Remember the video I shot of him leading me to his (full) food dish? I’m glad to know that Alex isn’t the only silly cat to evince this strange behavior.

The woman also confirmed that I am a full-fledged cat person because I, like her, will hazard cold, winds, snow, and ice to purchase my cat’s favorite cat food even when there is other cat food in the house. Of course I will! It is the only way to keep the furball from clawing me.


  1. So glad it went well and that you are done for a year. Hoping the cream and leg resting thing helps too.

  2. Oh my that is so scary what they put you though. We bought my Mom one of those digital thingies. It has come in handy for her to know how she is doing, especially lately. She has taken herself off the oxygen after returning from the hospital as her oxygen, as long as she does not do a lot of physical activity, stays in a good range.

    Sorry they have not given you better news about your leg. But that gives you an excuse to take those catnaps.

  3. Thanks for the update. Your pulmonary appointment doesn't sound like fun at all! If you lived closer, I'd be happy to massage lotion into your legs 2x a day (I'm a retired massage therapist).

    Unsolicited suggestion (feel free to disregard the next few lines, since you didn't ask for this): You might want to see if you can find a therapist that does lymph drainage work (it's pronounced dray NAJ - very French sounding). It just might help.

    Cats do have a way of getting us to obey them, eh?

  4. I hope you start feeling better soon and that your leg will heal.I'm praying for you. and your cat is adorable.. Yes.. Cats are usually in

  5. Dear Nick ~~ Glad you survived the oxygen test ~ it sounds extreme, to say the least. I do hope the cream
    and massage helps your leg. I was
    afraid there may have been infection in it, all this time. Did they give you any medications for the arthritis
    I hope they did and they may ease the leg pain. Take care, Regards, Merle.

  6. Nick I just want to hear that your leg is much better!
    The last photo looked so painful!

  7. Nick I'm glad you don't have to worry about the oxygen for another year, although I wish you didn't have to go through such extremes for them to realize that! Hope the leg is better with the elevation and the cream.

    I have encountered a cat that would not use its own dirt box - and this was an only cat - if there was even ONE thing in there! He'd sit by it and howl until his humans came and scooped out the offensive material. Now with Alex's insistence on you touching his food first (does he think you a food taster?), I've heard it all!

  8. One of these days this country will do something about the medical care it gives its veterans. Although having access to medical care through the VA is a nice benefit, sometimes you just have to wonder why they make actually getting care so difficult!

    Glad you are getting some answers and some relief!

  9. sigh

    i hope things get better soon, it's not good to struggle so much!

    hope you feel tip top soon, thank God for oxygen eh?!

  10. Best to you and Alex, Nick. Glad you are home and resting up. Take care of everything. Cheers!!

  11. ENOLA: Thank you. I didn’t know what to expect with the “oxygen recertification.” Now that I’ve learned the procedure, I’m glad I don’t have to do it for 12 months.

    BARMAN: Yes, it was scary: I was close to panic until I was able to get the oxygen back into my system. I probably need one of those one of those digital thingies, too.

    CAROL: Thanks, Carol, for your offer! If I had enough oxygen to drive the 1100 or so miles to Denver, I’d take you up on it. I had a massage therapist about eight years ago who worked with me in conjunction with an acupuncturist to heal an injury to my upper back and neck. I’ll check and see if she’s still in practice and can do “dray NAJ!”

    MISSISSIPPI SONGBIRD: Thank you! As one who has only been owned by a cat for about four years, I am still amazed by the furball’s antics.

  12. MERLE: Thank you. No, no meds prescribed. I’ve been taking ibuprofen for the pain in my leg since my pharmacist recommended it last year. It doesn’t seem to work as well as it once did.

    LITTLE WING: Thank you! I hope to be able to write that my leg is much better—some day, preferably soon!

    BROOKSIE: Thank you. I really don’t understand why I need to go through these repeated tests: one would think that with my medical history and the numerous tests already in it that it would be logical that I’ve not made a remarkable recovery in six weeks.

    That is one fastidious cat! I hope Alex never becomes like that.

    DANA: I agree both about the need for better health care and the blocks the VA puts up to seemingly keep folks from receiving care. Of course, until I got into the system I didn’t realize his difficult and traumatizing the system can be.

  13. SWEETS: Thank you! I’m working on feeling better. Unfortunately, I am back in my up a few hours and sleep a few hours mode. Alex and I have been up four about 3 hours and I’m ready for a catnap. Alex is already catnapping.

    MATT-MAN: Thank you. As I wrote to Sweets, I’m just about to join Alex in an catnap.

  14. This aging thing is the pits - I always love how we have to prove to these medical people by throiwing up, or passing out, or reactions - BLEH

  15. Sounds like you may have a nerve issue in the back mixed with neuropathy in the leg, do they plan more tests? Lotion and elevation will only do so much for it....going to say this is when the VA bugs me most, but I know they are overloaded too. My dad relies on the VA completely now for his healthcare.
    Sending prayers and hugs.

  16. Good to hear the appointments went well. Well apart from them having you walking until you almost passed out! Hope massaging the lotion into your leg does the trick.

    Alex is a very lucky cat to have you. x

  17. I read something last evening and thought of you. I was researching Obama and McCain (I like to do my homework before voting) and McCain wants to eliminate VA restrictions so that veterans can use their benefits anywhere - not just at VA hospitals. I thought, "Hmm that would sure benefit Nick!"

  18. That pain sure sounds like what I had with my sciatica Nick - and they had to do an MRI to find it - x-rays wouldn't show it at all.

    Much luck...and the massages for the circulation sound like a great idea; have you found any of those socks that help with that?

  19. Glad things went as well as they did. Take care of yourself.

  20. Hi Nick:

    Glad to hear that you at least got some answers, and hoping you will really start feeling a LOT better soon!!


  21. It's too bad when visits to health care providers are ordeals in and of themselves, let alone close calls with oxygen deprivation. Knowing you have that out of the way for a year must encourage you to breathe a tad easier anyway.

    Elevating your feet above your heart while up and about--maybe we could ask Dr. Weil. :-)

    Now I know why they say cats are finicky. My dog Trudy will wolf down most anything, touched by the server or not.

    Take care, man.

  22. I hope the massages help. My father also has trouble with circulation in his legs, and is on aspirin therapy for it. There are other drugs available to help with circulation, so if massage and elevation doesn't do it for you they might be worth asking about.

  23. I BEATI: You are so right, especially when it comes to government programs and insurance companies. I suppose they must have some quantifiable data to justify whatever treatment they provide. I can picture Carl Sagan being treated by VA: “All right, Dr. Sagan, hop up out of that wheelchair and let’s see how well you can walk.”

    DAISY: Thank you, Daisy. Alex sends you are “purrrrrrrrrrrr.”

    THE MOMA BEAR: You may be right. Since the x-rays and CST scan have not located the cause, the orthopedic unit has no idea other than what suggested. You have to remember: in the VA scheme of medical practice, all specialties are isolated from one another and any communication has to go through one’s nurse practitioner case manager.

  24. Akelamalu: Thank you. I’ve yet to try the messaging. Tasha used to do that each day she was here. I know it reduced the dryness.

    ENOLA: I can certainly agree with McCain on that! Thanks for the info.

    TUG: Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve not yet had an MRI. I wonder if that’s part of my diagnostic future.

  25. LIMPY: Thank you. I’m still learning to take care of myself as well as I take care of Alex.

    BRADLEY’S MOM: Thank you. Actually, I’m not feeling too bad today. Of course, Alex and I have been catnapping through most of the day.

    SAN: Thank you. So are so right: I am glad I have that oxygen recert done. Having over the past 20 years lived alone with Muffin and then with Alex, I do realize the differences between the finickiness of dogs and cats. I also have come to appreciate the silliness of the latter!

  26. THOMAS: Thank you. You know, I may give aspirin a try.

  27. It seems the VA may never get to the bottom of the problems with your leg. Could it be time to consult someone other than VA? I’m praying for you, Nick.

  28. surely the certification process shouldn't involve you reaching a "critical" stage with no oxygen on hand? what would've happened if you couldn't make that 5 minute walk back?

    i'm glad you're hooked up (no pun intended, oh okay, yes it was) with the oxygen for the next 12 months, just wish you didn't have to go through that.

    i wonder if you could get a long handled sponge or back scrubber to massage lotion into your legs a couple times of could do it yourself then. might help.

  29. totally with you there on all the cat stuff ... if i stir the food around, wills will eat it. when he gets fussy i fret and start buying numerous varieties of cat food for him. he is so cute though. he was lying on my legs last night and purring like a steam train.

  30. Glad you have your oxygen for another year, Mr. Nick and hope the massaging and the cream work. And yes, cat people will go through great lengths for their cat. I have 5 cats, so speaking from personal experience! And enjoyed the newest installment of the Muffin Saga.

    Take good care of yourself, and God bless!


  31. Doesn't sound entirely helpful that the doctor can tell you what isn't the matter but not what is! You do sound a little brighter though.

    If poor circulation comes age then i'm doomed! I've had bad circulation and cold extremities forever. We had better start learning to walk on our hands if we have to keep our legs above our hearts!