Friday, 25 January 2013

Me and my bursa — strolling down the avenue

I have been having various adventures in the healthcare system recently. Some of them have involved my delicate lady parts, so I have eschewed writing about that, as I do want to remain relatively prim.

My hip, however, is a different story. It has been bothering me for years as a result of mishap at an office picnic held by the insurance brokerage where I worked many years ago.  I was playing volleyball, called out that I would get the ball, leaped up and was knocked to the ground by a much taller team-member who either didn’t hear my call or didn’t care. Rumour had it she was angling for one of the romantic attention of one of partners, and I have since thought, nastily, that she was just showing off for his benefit. Whatever her motive that day, her on-going ploys did not end well — for her, but that is another story.

However, she certainly got my attention. My hip hasn’t been the same since. I did not get proper medical care at the time, figuring I was too busy and the pain would just go away. It didn’t. I now have serious arthritis in that hip, but oddly it is not the cause of my pain and limping. It is my hip bursa – something I did not even know I had.

So welcome to bursa world. And yes, it is derived from the same Latin word which gives us burse (the little case which carries the chalice linen to and from the altar at the Eucharist services) and bursar, not to mention bursary:  you can look those up yourself in the unlikely event that you need to. It seems, however, to have nothing to do with a town of the same spelling located in northwestern Turkey.

Bursa means little sac or purse and is a cushiony fluid-filled item between the tendon, muscles and bones around a joint.  There must be lots here and there in the human body, but the one I am concentrated on is on the point of my hip, site of that ancient collision: the trochanteric bursa.

I became a fan of bursae when both my family doctor and the orthopedic surgeon he referred me to concluded independently that I had bursitis. My pain did not resemble hip pain: No referred pain to the groin, but lots on the surface of the hip joint.

Thank goodness, I would not have to undergo my much-researched hip replacement.  Although everyone I have talked to says their hip replacement was just the thing, I have had my doubts. As a massage therapist I did not return to said to me enthusiastically during our one and only session together, “When I was in training, I was allowed to watch a hip replacement operation, and it’s just like de-boning a chicken.”

Since coming to Parkhill, I have discovered a wonderful deep tissue massage therapist. Because of the pain, my muscles have become twisted and taut, and I limp when I walk. She has pummeled the adhesions in those muscles to a fare thee well and has encouraged me to do exercises to stretch those muscles out.

I hate to admit I have not done them as faithfully as I know I should chiefly because they require being on the floor a good deal of the time. The bedroom rug is always a bit linty to lie on and hard to arise from. I’ve been too lazy to get my yoga mat from wherever it is in the basement.

In any event, during my annual health review (apparently we don’t get annual physicals anymore), my family doctor and I discussed bursitis, and he gave me a sheet of exercises, several of which I discovered I was already doing.

There was one, however, which I had not done and which immediately attracted me because I did not have to get down on the floor to do it. I looked at the sketch; it showed someone hanging their bad leg over the edge of a bench.

Even if not in doubt read the directions; I know this now.
The bed would do just fine. I hung it over for the recommended 35 to 45 seconds. Easy peasy, I thought until I decided it was time to stand up.

Riveting red-hot pain coursed through my leg from my hip to my ankle. Greg chose that moment to ask me about going to the post office. I gasped and said I really couldn’t answer just now. I was at an angle of 45 degrees over the bed on my one good leg with my other leg suspended in immobile agony. I pondered having to go through the rest of my life in this state: both boring and utterly tortuous. Greg made an attempt to rub the worst pains. That helped a bit. After what seemed like an eternity, I notice the pain was slowly subsiding. I was able to return my right leg to the floor and stand up.

I must have torn every tiny little muscle fibre down my entire leg.

Only then was I up to re-reading the instructions. Apparently, you should do this first on the floor with the bad leg drooped over the good leg, giving a drop of inches, not feet.  Then graduate to what I did in one fell swoop.

But wonder of wonders, I was able to walk more freely. I did not limp as much. Later during my walk at the community centre, I was able to walk over the imaginary log – with both legs one after the other!! What a breakthrough!

Also try not to fall off the bed - or bench. (pictures by Greg)

I would not recommend plunging into any new exercise without fully reading the directions. Trying out and asking questions afterwards, my preferred way of learning, is not always a good idea. However, in this case, I am happy to say it has had amazing unexpected results so far. No pain no gain, indeed! It has all worked out in the end. And I have new motivation to keep up my floor exercises — as well as to vacuum more frequently. Plusses all around.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

A new discovery in the world of staples

I received some nice presents for Christmas. Mind you, Greg and I don’t go overboard with the gift-giving, as we have so much stuff already. Where we do go overboard is in the food-eating, but that’s another story.

One of my favourite presents this year — until extremely recent developments — was a stapler. It’s a Swingline with a rather aerodynamic profile and a nice heft. Greg gave it to me because he thought I might like one of my own. Before I clarified this with him, I thought it was so I would not keep using his.

And it even has a low staple indicator.
My new office friend takes regular-sized staples.  This fact was essential, both to my stapling habits and to writing this blog, until only a few moments ago when I made a stunning discovery about my existing stapler. As a result, I have had to change the whole tenor of this blog, as you shall see ...

Yes, I still have my first and (up to now) only stapler. Greg said I must be one of the few people in the world who remembers getting their first stapler.

It is a small Apsco which I bought in the 1960s at the Oxford Book Store located in Wellington Square before Wellington Square was tarted up and renamed Galleria, in the forlorn hope that it would be an upscale shopping mecca. However, Galleria now contains an insurance company, a Rainbow Cinema, a few dollar stores and an annex for the local community college with an extensive food court. But that is beside the point now, as any planned analogy with my old stapler no longer holds true (Writing is a difficult art).
My  Apsco reminds me of a cricket - very eager.
My little orange stapler, by contrast is still relatively perky. It is in more or less in working order although it doesn’t stay closed. Made by a company called Isabergs Verkstads‏ located in Hestra, Sweden (which I shall have to find on the map), it is a model A 10.  According to the imprint on the finger rest, Apsco in “Toronto Ont. Can.” distributed it here. It could continue to function were it not for the fact that no one makes staples for it anymore. Or so I thought until, after squinting to see where it was made, I came across these stunning words along the staple-holder part: “loads standard staples.”

What a surprise that was! Years ago in the mid-90s when it was getting low on staples, I went back to the Oxford Book store (at its Richmond St. location as the Wellington Square/Galleria incarnation had bitten the dust) to find more. I was told there were none for such a tiny stapler. Both the clerk and I had these wee staplers, and together we bemoaned the apparent lack of the wherewithal to continue their useful existence.

Here the plot thickens – so much so that you might want to go get lunch, watch a re-run of As the World Turns or listen to somebody boring saying something pointless about the fiscal cliff.

Still with me? Then move the clock forward 10 or 12 years and find me at the check-out counter of the Parkhill Home Hardware store (before it also closed). Behold boxes,  each containing 5,000 standard-sized staples at the  unbelievable price of only one dollar. I bought three. 15,000 staples and only one stapler in which to use them … until today. With trembling hands I put those standard staples into my little Apsco. They fitted. I tested them on a sheet of paper. They work!

Suddenly we became a three-stapler family:
Greg's is an Ofrex Anglia II made in Great Britain.
I am not going to take the new stapler back, for it promises to staple up to 20 sheets. I don’t want to overtax my little Apsco; I’ll use it for up to five.

What has this episode taught me? The world is full of surprises. One should never jump to conclusions. Nostalgia is a good thing especially if it preserves what only appeared to be a useless little item.

Happy 2013!