August 2014: Mother-Daughter Vacation in Martha’s Vineyard

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Chronic Pain flare-up

Despite the fact that weeks before this scheduled trip, I was dealing with a pain flare-up in the right knee; I was going on the annual Mother-Daughter Vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

I have struggled with chronic pain since 1993 related to diagnosed conditions of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyaglia.  Over the years, I developed various self-management tools to control the pain levels.  However, my bone-on-bone knee pain needed either an injection or surgery.  And, neither was available before this vacation.

Since there was nothing I could do to make the “Pain Go Away”, my only option was to “Grin and Bare It” 

Wheelchair Transport Through the Airports

Since Hubby was not going, he ordered a wheelchair to transport me through the Orlando Airport.  This is a long walk through one terminal, a short train ride, and a longer walk through a second terminal.  Trust me the need for a wheelchair was the topic of more than one discussion in the days leading up to my departure.   Finally, I gave in.

My son picked me up at the Milwaukee Airport and we were off to meet-up with the daughters.  After the traditional hugs and kisses, they said, “Mama, you are limping.”  While the limp was noticeable, I am certain Hubby had telephoned with his concerns.

After discussing the pros and my cons of a wheelchair; I lost and they ordered one for the next leg of my trip.

When I arrived in Milwaukee, I was an “Unhappy Wheelchair Traveler”;  but, I left as the “Grumpy Wheelchair Traveler” as my 14-year-old grandson pushed me through the Milwaukee and Boston Airports.

Was it not just a few years ago that he depended on me to push him around in his stroller?  I was not ready for this.

Having someone push me around in a wheelchair was not a pleasant experience; and, I felt —

  • Stressed
  • Powerless
  • Depressed
  • Angry
  • Embarrassed

The Airline Flight

On the airplane and seated comfortably; I closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and let go of the negativity.

Through Self-Talk, Self-Awareness and Self-Acceptance; I embraced and accepted the gift of wheelchair transports from my hubby, son, two daughters and grandson.

No longer did I feel —

  • Stressed, I enjoyed Relaxing
  • Powerless, I gained Power
  • Depressed, I discovered Peace
  • Angry, I achieved Happiness
  • Embarrassed,  I reflected Pride

 A Few of My Favorite Mother-Daughter Vacation Photos – 2014

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The 14-Year-Old Grandson, CJ with His Friend – Lunch on the Ferry
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The Ferry Deck
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First Night. First Order of Business – Glass of Wine
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My Play Daughter from Another Mother, My Youngest Daughter, and Their Two Boys Playing Monopoly on a Rainy Day
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The Moms Won
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Could This Be The Reason The Moms Won At Monopoly? IPhones, IPADS, Laptops, X-Boxes, etc.? I’m Just Saying!!
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Main Street – Downtown Oak Bluff
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Oak Bluff Pier
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Love The Old Vintage Homes on Main Street – Downtown Oak Bluff – Facing the Atlantic Ocean
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Lunch on The Upper Deck of Nancy’s Seafood with Grandson, Two of His Friends and the Daughters
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Surprise from The Daughters – My Favorite Appetizer Before the Crab Leg, Lobster and Shrimp Boil
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The Grandson CJ – Adding Crab Legs to the Boil
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It’s Crab Boil Night – Because CJ Hates Seafood, He Had A Burrito. His Friend Enjoyed the Crab Let Boil and the Burrito.
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Relaxing and Sitting on The Oak Bluff Pier
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Look Up In The Sky – Air Force Helicopters Flying Over Prior to The President’s Vacation Visit in The Next Several Days.
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Beautiful Sunset View Sitting on The Front Porch
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Last Night. Busy Week. Grandson Massaging Mom’s Feet. He Is Special!!!
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Goodbye Rental House – See You In August 2015

My Recent Chronic Pain Flareup

For the past 18 days, I have been pain-free.  Well, that’s not true.  Having lived with chronic pain for more than twenty years, I experience some level of pain everyday.   But, I have been able to manage and control my pain condition with non-narcotic prescription medications and utilizing my cadre of self-management tools:

  • Sleep – 8 hours a Night
  • Pacing Activities
  • Rest/Relaxation
  • Distractions (Music, Blogging, Facebook, E-Mails, Reading, Journaling, etc.)
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Aqua Zumba
  • Music

However, around Thanksgiving last year, I had a severe pain flare-up in my right knee.  The pain was agonizing, constant, and never-ending.

Though, I continued to take the prescribed meds and use my self-management tools; I had no pain relief.

Despite the continuous pain, I refused to see a doctor until July 2013.  Ridiculous, Really, Are You Serious, Why? — just a few of the comments I heard from friends and family.  There is no plausible answer other than FEAR of a knee replacement, hospital, surgery and anesthesia.   In a two year-period, I survived two life-threatening conditions — Breast Cancer in 2008 and Epiglottitis in 2010.  

Frankly, at 70-years-old, I was not ready for another round of treatments, hospitalization, or a long-term recovery period.  All of which would be required with a knee replacement.

In July, I visited the Adult Kids and Grands in Wisconsin; and, I also kept the bi-annual follow-up visit with my long-term rheumatologist.  Of course, ME having been described as “stoic” by more than one health care provider; underreported my pain levels.  But Dr. O noticed me “limping” and “grimacing” as I made my way on and off the exam table.

Caught in the ActBusted.  He immediately ordered an x-ray and, after review, recommended a referral to an orthopedic surgeon to discuss a knee replacement.

My response, “Well, I’m heading back to Florida in a day or two, I will look into seeing one there.  Thinking, knee replacement it’s not going to happen.

Prior to the follow-up visit with my rheumatologist, a YMCA friend had noticed me “limping” and “grimacing” around the exercise room for months.  Several times he suggested that I schedule an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon who had done his knee replacement.

Finally, after more than six months of constant and unrelenting pain, I scheduled the appointment with my friend’s orthopedic surgeon, Dr. M.

After reviewing the x-rays, Dr. M said my chronic autoimmune disease (Mr. Arthur-Rheumatoid Arthritis) had severely attacked my knee joints and a future knee replacement surgery was inevitable.

Good News

I experienced immediate pain relief following a cortisone injection by Dr. M.

Even Better News

Dr. M prescribed four weeks of physical therapy

to build up my muscles in preparation for the future knee replacement.

Bestest News

I overcame the FEAR of a knee replacement.

My “Aha” Moment

The quality of my life is more important

than the fear of a knee replacement.

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