Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy MRI Day!

It's finally here. My MRI and Arthrogram is today, though technically it seems like Wednesday night still as I haven't gone to sleep yet but it is after midnight.

I stopped running shortly after my last post and went back to cross training. New this week is some aches in the hip during cross training. Bugger you hip, please don't take cross training away from me too. I will lose my mind if that happens. Guess we'll see what happens with my tests.

Also I received a new appointment for my bone scan. It's now April 11th instead of April 12th. Wow eh? I have a feeling this will likely change again but we'll see.

So MRI Thursday then I see an osteopath on Friday. Never been to one but it was suggested and at this point I'll try anything.

Alright time for bed. Will update thus weekend after the tests!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Things have changed.... yet again.

I should have 10 days until my MRI, which is what I last reported. After having my bone scan canceled and then re-scheduled for April 12th, I updated my doctor in Vancouver. After a week with no response, I figured he was keeping the same MRI as planned so I requested the night off work so I could attend the appointment. I basically went into my work and said "I am taking this day off no matter what" and explained why. 

That was a week ago (last Tuesday). On Friday at 2pm I received an email back from my doctor stating that he had changed my MRI from a regular MRI to an MRI and Arthrogram and that the 25th was now canceled and the new date was the 31st. Go figure, I work that day too (thankfully a co-worker agreed to swap shifts with me). I went to work that night and asked if the 25th was covered as I didn't need it anymore and was told that it was covered. I guess I now get the day off to relax instead. Not a bad thing, but a waste of vacation hours.

So the new plan is the MRI and arthrogram in 16 days. I did some "googling" of arthrogram and boy it sounds like I am in for some fun. Some nice needles with anesthetic into my hip and then a bigger needle right into the hip joint that will contain a contrast dye along with more anesthetic. Here is more on the arthrogram portion of the tests

The word arthrogram sounds complicated and so it is only natural to be apprehensive before this procedure. To simply put it, an arthrogram is a test that uses X-rays to obtain pictures of a particular joint in the body. These pictures are taken after a contrast material, such as, dye, air, water or a combination of all these, is injected into the joint. This contrast material allows your doctor to examine tissue structure, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, muscles as well as joint capsule. The reason a contrast material is essential is because these elements are not visible in a regular X-ray. Also, in an arthrogram, the X-ray is used to take pictures of the joint and this is called fluoroscopy.

Arthrogram procedure

You will be asked to sit or lie down such that your hip joint is under the fluoroscope. This X-ray viewer is attached to a video screen that will display the X-ray images. The skin around your joint area will be cleaned with antiseptic soap and then draped with a sterile towel. You will then be administered a local anesthesia on your hip to numb the skin and tissues over the hip joint. The doctor or radiologist will then insert a needle into the joint area. Some joint fluid is removed in order to make more room for the contrast material, to be inserted into the joint. The joint fluid collected is sent to the lab for examination. The fluoroscope will indicate if the needle is in the correct position in the joint. If it is, the dye or air is inserted into your hip joint through the needle.

Once the needle is withdrawn, you may be asked to move your hips in order to help the contrast material spread through the joint area. The images in the fluoroscope will indicate if the dye has spread in the entire joint. You will then have to sit as still as possible so that X-rays can be taken.

The X-rays need to be taken quickly to ensure the dye doesn’t spread to other tissues around the joint. If you are having an MRI or CT scan after the arthrogram, then you will be administered a medicine called epinephrine along with the dye to prevent the dye from spreading to other tissues.

When I found out about the new date of the MRI, my doctor didn't know the time. So I called yesterday afternoon and initially heard "we can't do your MRI on the 31st" to which I said "oh?" and proceeded to swear under my breath. She then mumbled a few things, flipped some papers around and then said "Oh yes it should work on the 31st." She was lucky, cause I was about to flip out on her. 

I was then told it would take place at 2:30pm which was perfect as I could make it over from the island. She went on to say I would be there until about 5:45-6pm and explained the procedure, about the needles and getting wheeled in for the MRI which would be about an hour. She asked if I was claustrophobic. I told her not that I know of, but then again I haven't been in a tiny little machine for 1 hour. I guess we will find out. I asked whether I would be okay to take transit back to the ferry and she said no and that I should get a ride. Arg. Thank goodness my sister lives in Vancouver and is free at that time, so I should be able to get that much needed ride back to the ferry. I bet it is going to be a long 1 hour 35 minute ferry ride. 

So that is the fun that I am in for with regards to the MRI and arthrogram. I hope to god this date doesn't change again, though it shouldn't. 

I have run a bit more lately, but nowhere near what I used to do. I have good days and bad days, with the last couple being bad. I can only run easy and even then it is not pain/ache free. Some days are decent and better than before February, but other days are just as bad. I'm doing the best I can at the moment and hoping that these upcoming tests give me the answers I am seeking/needing. 

I am not going to lie, it is hard to sit back and watch all my friends compete and train. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely happy for their improvements and fantastic performances, but it is honestly truly hard to sit back when I am supposed to be there with them. Those are the days I find the hardest, the day of races. I want to race, but as much as I want to race, I need to be healthy to do so. 

I have been lucky enough to run some great times, such as my 1:21:55 half in Eugene last year while suffering from some sort of injury in my lower abdominal. I guess I shouldn't have brushed it off, but it truly felt like a strained muscle. A strained muscle that never really went away since December 2009. Whether it started out as a strain and became worse as I ran through it, I will likely never know. All I can do is look forward and do what I need to do to get healthy again. Even though I have hard days, I don't doubt I will be back and have my chances etc. I never doubt that, my hard days are just full of frustrations. I thank everyone for their support during both the easy and hard days!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ups and Downs

I was supposed to race the Bazan Bay 5km today. That was the plan, but instead I am sitting at home while yet another race pass me by. I tell myself that there will be plenty more for me though. I will get my chance. Congrats to all those that raced, with a close finish that saw Jim Finlayson (14:58) take top spot, Steve Osaduik (14:59) and my coach Matt Clout (15:02). Top female was Paula Findlay in 16:33. The 2011 Bazan Bay 5km Results can be found here.

I received word on a new bone scan date........ April 12th. So 1 month and 10 days after the original date scheduled. It also happens to be 18 days after the date of my MRI. I was supposed to have the bone scan first. Oh well. What a lovely health care system we have here. I saw that the entire country of Canada has less MRI machines than they do in Pittsburgh. Isn't that crazy? Look at this stat that I found

Canada has one of the lowest rates of MRI scanning machines per capita in the developed world, with six MRI scanners per million people, compared to 40.1 in Japan, 14.4 in Switzerland and 26.6 in the United States. Pittsburgh alone has more MRI machines than all of Canada. 

Some good news though is that I have done some running lately, though all on the treadmill. I completed 4 runs of 30' this week and 1 run of 45'. They were not 100% pain/ache free as my lower abdominal/groin issue is still around. Even after 4 weeks since my last real run/workout. But my hip issue seemed better. I felt it very rarely and a lot less than 4 weeks ago before I stopped running. Hopefully this is a good sign for that issue. I will still need the MRI for the main issue of the abdominal pain since Dec 2009 and that may result in surgery and/or time off. I would like to run as tolerated until that time if possible. 

So that is where things stand as of now. Fingers crossed I can increase the running without any issues! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Change of Plans

"Hi this message is for Erin, it's the X-ray department at Nanaimo Hospital. Erin we are not able to do your bone scan tomorrow March the 2nd. We don't have any isotope to do the test so we will contact you with a new appointment regarding your bone scan. Please wait to hear from us. Thank you."

That is the message I received on my voice mail today. Some how I am not really surprised considering it is taking me forever to get answers, but I will keep everyone updated when I figure out what is going on!