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Tue Apr 25, 2017, 01:29 PM

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

I'm having it for a chest wound. My surgery area got infected after a hematoma went bad.
So today was my first treatment. No skin lotion, cream, or makeup, no metal. They have you put on cotton scrubs. You lie on the "bed' and slide into the chamber, which looks like a giant incubator. It's comfy, somewhat chilly, and you can watch TV or a movie. My ears clogged and unclogged several times, but no biggie. It was supposed to last for two hours, but felt like twice that long. And I'm scheduled for 40 of these! They often shorten it, depending on how well you heal.
Certainly better than chemo or radiation, but boring. If only you could read in there.

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Arrow 42 replies Author Time Post
Reply Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (Original post)
PennyK Apr 2017 OP
Solly Mack Apr 2017 #1
ret5hd Apr 2017 #2
PennyK Apr 2017 #3
angstlessk Apr 2017 #4
PennyK Apr 2017 #5
sinkingfeeling Apr 2017 #6
PennyK Apr 2017 #7
sinkingfeeling Apr 2017 #8
aka-chmeee Dec 2017 #42
PennyK Apr 2017 #9
PennyK Apr 2017 #10
PennyK Apr 2017 #11
PennyK May 2017 #12
PennyK May 2017 #13
PennyK May 2017 #14
PennyK May 2017 #15
PennyK May 2017 #16
PennyK May 2017 #17
PennyK May 2017 #18
PennyK May 2017 #19
PennyK May 2017 #20
PennyK May 2017 #21
PennyK May 2017 #22
PennyK May 2017 #23
PennyK May 2017 #24
PennyK May 2017 #25
procon May 2017 #26
PennyK May 2017 #27
PennyK Jun 2017 #28
PennyK Jun 2017 #29
PennyK Jun 2017 #30
Ms. Toad Jun 2017 #31
PennyK Jun 2017 #32
PennyK Jun 2017 #33
PennyK Jun 2017 #34
PennyK Jun 2017 #35
PennyK Jun 2017 #36
PennyK Jun 2017 #37
PennyK Jun 2017 #38
sinkingfeeling Jul 2017 #39
PennyK Jul 2017 #40
PennyK Jul 2017 #41

Response to PennyK (Original post)

Tue Apr 25, 2017, 01:35 PM

1. May your healing go fast and well.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Tue Apr 25, 2017, 01:50 PM

2. Why can't you read? Just curious.

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Response to ret5hd (Reply #2)

Tue Apr 25, 2017, 02:19 PM

3. You can't bring anything in

I assume a book would go up in flames (Fahrenheit 451)? No phone or tablet, nothing comes in with you. You change into pure cotton scrubs. You can watch a TV and see a movie or TV show, but you don't have a controller. All you get is an "air mask" for taking 'normal air' breaks twice during the session. If you need anything, you have to bang on the enclosure.
If it was later in the day, a nap could work, but it was early and I was a little too hyped-up for that.

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Response to PennyK (Reply #3)

Tue Apr 25, 2017, 03:16 PM

4. Why not audio books?

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Response to angstlessk (Reply #4)

Tue Apr 25, 2017, 03:36 PM

5. Not a bad idea

I'm not super-familiar with them (shame), but worth a look! Thanks.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Tue Apr 25, 2017, 10:13 PM

6. It really seems to work on people having wounds. Good luck.

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Response to sinkingfeeling (Reply #6)

Tue Apr 25, 2017, 10:40 PM

7. Thanks

They call it "a DIVE!" As though you're really 60 feet down.
i just hope I don't need to do it 40 times. i had 17 chemos and 32 radiation treatments.
Oh, and I made the appointment today to get my port removed. Two weeks. No more Borg Woman!

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Response to PennyK (Reply #7)

Wed Apr 26, 2017, 09:29 AM

8. Many people who have had oral or throat cancer and radiation

must take the dives before and after dental surgery. I know a half dozen people in my SPOHNC group have done them.

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Response to sinkingfeeling (Reply #8)

Tue Dec 12, 2017, 07:22 PM

42. After treatments (radiation and chemo)

Molars had all been removed before treatment started, and after, jaw bone started to come through gums. They tried a pharmaceutical treatment before starting the hyperbaric chamber treatments and the bone slowly was covered and problem has not recurred.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Wed Apr 26, 2017, 01:41 PM

9. Better today!

1) For logistical reasons, I went to slightly lesser depth today, and possibly because I remembered to use my Symbicort, I was more comfortable. That also cut about ten minutes off the total time.
2) I watched a movie, "Match Point," a sexy story with ScarJo and Jonathan Rhys Davies...MUCH more interesting than Better Homes and Gardens remodels!
I was supposed to return later for re-dressing of my wound, but they did that right afterward, so easy-breezy day for me.
I couldn't hear the film very well, so my nurse switched the captioning on. Excellent. I guess I'll bring movies from now on.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Thu Apr 27, 2017, 01:29 PM

10. Ordered some fun flicks

Last edited Fri Apr 28, 2017, 02:39 PM - Edit history (1)

A three-fer of Agatha Christies, Murder by Death, and the original Hitchhiker's Guide BBC TV version, a long-time fave.
There seems to be no way around desperately needing to pee in the final 45 minutes. Coming back up takes about 8 minutes, but feels like forever. I've been so desperate for coffee the second I get home (have to limit that before the dive). Then I shower, put on makeup, and feel more like myself.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Sat Apr 29, 2017, 12:40 PM

11. Uh oh

Another little tear appeared in my radiation zone...we saw it when my wound area was re-bandaged yesterday. Sigh. Well, I see the doctor on Monday. I guess the combination of the radiation degradation and the swelling, when the area got infected, made the skin so fragile it was bound to happen.
It takes around eight weeks to get Medicare approval to use the biologic dressing the doctor plans to use; until then, we do the HBO and hope for no further issues.
It was fun today to take a full shower and actually use skin and hair-care products, all of which I can't use for oxygen-time.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Mon May 1, 2017, 07:36 PM

12. Doctor says I'm doing okay

I had some pain over the weekend. Oddly, it would start mid-afternoon. I would wake up feeling fine, and then it would hit again later. And there was swelling.
My surgeon drained more fluid from the area, and said I am healing, but slowly. He mentioned again that he will apply for authorization to apply a biologic dressing.
I'm feeling better now. Today I watched "The Mirror Crack'd," an '80s Agatha Christie starring Angela Lansbury. This must have given someone the idea that she made a good lady detective. Crazy cast, with Liz Taylor, Rock Hudson, Kim Novak, and very diverting. I have two more Christies, and they do make the time go.
And the bad news was that switching to decaf didn't change how quickly I'd need to go LOL. That last half-hour is Murder!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Fri May 5, 2017, 11:49 PM

13. Nine sessions under my belt

It's kind of amazing how slowly the time goes in the tank.
I'm now allowing myself exactly four ounces of coffee in the morning. And I'm seeing lots of movies. Some I got are so good that we're buying a DVD player so we can watch them at home - the machine is so loud that I miss half the dialogue. I think this batch of Agatha Christies are so much fun that I can't wait for my husband Eric to see them too. I found out that there will be a brand-new Murder on the Orient Express this fall, with Kenneth Branagh and Johnny Depp.

Oh yeah - I'm getting my port removed next week. No more Borg!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Mon May 8, 2017, 05:18 PM

14. I'm getting better

Both doctor and nurse today said my wound is healing. AND...

...my chemo port comes out tomorrow!

The oxygen proceeds (SIGH). And they're giving me the supplies and reassigning me to dress the wound myself (which is done every other day). That means that on those days I can take a full shower. I've been covering the area with plastic wrap and avoiding getting that whole side of my chest and underarm wet, which makes for a very unsatisfactory cleaning. Progress.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Tue May 9, 2017, 04:05 PM

15. MY PORT IS OUT

Yay me! Now I just have to get this frikkin' wound healed and on to reconstruction surgery.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Wed May 10, 2017, 01:35 PM

16. I'm a big girl - dressed my wound all by myself

So many steps...I have the cheat sheet taped up in the bathroom. I'm certainly learning a lot about these supplies. I have everything from gloves and sterile saline to Vaseline gauze and Prisma wound cover. I think there are four or five different layers of different things over the area.
Doing it myself gives me some freedom to shower AND to actually see it for myself (it was hard to actually look down and see my chest when the nurse was doing it lol).
I also got to remove the outer covering over my port area. It was optional, but since I bled there just a little, I also gauze-padded that zone.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Fri May 12, 2017, 05:27 PM

17. Fourteen sessions down

I do the math every day, and I'm now 35% done.
Seriously, it would be fine if only that urge to urinate didn't kick in so soon! I've seriously curtailed any caffeinated drinks (which I need a little of when I get up) and take tiny sips of water to take my morning meds.
I have one other issue...in the final half-hour, breathing becomes a little bit more work. I stay calm and breathe slowly, and I make it just fine.
I've ordered more DVD movies: a few older Star Trek movies and Woody's Scoop and Midnight in Paris, and a great thriller, Black Widow with Debra Winger.
Getting out and into the bathroom is the best! I sip water, have a mint, get dressed, and the nurse takes my temp and blood pressure. Then home.
It's the weekend now, and I can use all my girly products for a while...moisturizer and hair styling stuff and jewelry,etc. Ahhhh fun.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Mon May 15, 2017, 05:41 PM

18. HIGH blood pressure

I'm a 120 over 80 person, always have been.
They take it before and after the oxygen, and it's higher than normal before, and even higher afterward....and I think I just figured it out. I was complaining to my surgeon about pain, about two or three weeks ago, and he told me I could take Motrin (ibuprofen) in addition to Tylenol. I started alternating the two, because you can take meds more frequently that way.

I just read that Motrin and other NSAIDS can definitely raise your pressure, and I've been taking it right before I go for treatment! And this is in addition to my Symbicort, which can also raise it. Duhhhhhh. I'll switch to Tylenol, at least before I go, and try to wean myself off it as the area heals.

Doctor got Medicare approval and started using Epifix, a biological dressing, today. It stays on for a week, which means much less work dealing with the area. And I found over the weekend that Eucerin cream, a very heavy moisturizer, works wonders on the radiated area near the wound. So, hopefully, I won't need the pain meds on a regular basis soon!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Wed May 17, 2017, 01:33 PM

19. Blood pressure not going down

I was told that the meds I've been taking wouldn't make this happen, and my surgeon said see your PCP and take care of this right away. Sigh. Guess the fun side effects haven't finished surprising me.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Thu May 18, 2017, 07:59 PM

20. Saw the doctor. New meds for me

I have two different blood-pressure scrips, Amlodipine and Hydrochlorthia, plus Clonazepam for anxiety. The Hydro--- is a diuretic, so I'll take that AFTER my oxygen therapy. He suggested I start the Clonazepam with 1/2 (.25 mg), and that all would work fine with my other meds. I was advised not to take Motrin any more, though.

I'm hoping that this stuff will help. I've been struggling with constant anxiety and I could seriously use a break!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Fri May 19, 2017, 01:33 PM

21. So far so good

It must be the anti-anxiety. My pressure was way down into normal levels this morning already! I can't imagine the blood pressure med worked after one dose. In addition, I did much better in the tank today, much more relaxed than usual.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Sun May 21, 2017, 09:42 AM

22. Just when all was going well

I developed a new little wound to the side of the main one, still within the radiation zone. It hurt like hell yesterday, but seems to be better today. I was able to clean and cover it myself, and I see the doctor tomorrow anyway. The original wound is not giving me any pain, so I guess I just have to get past whatever is going to happen here.
The anti-anxiety and blood-pressure meds are doing their magic...Hubby took my pressure last night and it was perfect. I truly love the Klonopin; I could really see that becoming addictive if I weren't careful. It just puts you on a nice even keel of feeling OK. I will time everything out today so that I don't take more than necessary of anything, not even Tylenol.
Reconstruction may have to be delayed for a good long while, but I guess I'll just have to live with that.

Tomorrow I hit the 50% mark on oxygen therapy and I still have a good stack of movies to watch, so that's good. Only 20 more times I'll have to get up early and not chug my morning coffee.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Wed May 24, 2017, 12:49 PM

23. Three Day Weekend!

I asked five times just to be sure.
Monday off! I can live a semi-normal life for three days. True, I end up finishing one day later than expected, but I'm going to really appreciate this.
Still attempting to figure out how to balance my three new meds correctly. My BP was low last night, so I skipped the 2nd pill. And today I took it early and will try taking the opposite one later. And less of the anti-anxiety drug. I am breaking them into quarters at this point.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Sat May 27, 2017, 02:18 PM

24. More of an even keel

I'm off the Klonopin and taking .25 Xanax before treatments instead. It has a milder effect and is enough. Pressure does vary a bit but hasn't gone above the 140s in days.
Funny that the diuretic doesn't seem to affect me "that way."
I'm feeling closer to normal than I have in weeks and that is just so good! A lot of my mood has to do with bandaging...the skin next to the wound is similarly tender and the bandage tape hurts like hell. When I dress it myself I can be super-careful and avoid the worst places. Constant agitation from pain, apparently, was what raised my anxiety levels.
24 treatments down and 16 left. I'm going through movies like crazy.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Sun May 28, 2017, 12:34 PM

25. I spoke too soon

First day yesterday of no anti-anxiety meds, and by mid-afternoon I needed one. I went back to the 1/4 Klonopin...we were going to the mall for a little shopping and dinner out, so I needed long-lasting. It was fine.
There is another little area in the radiation zone that feels and looks like it might turn into something, so I'm moisturizing and keeping my eye on it.

I'm getting so tired of this merry-go-round.

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Response to PennyK (Reply #25)

Sun May 28, 2017, 01:13 PM

26. Thank you have sharing your journey.

I wish you all the best.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Tue May 30, 2017, 01:33 PM

27. Doctor says I'm healing well

The special dressing I get didn't arrive in time for today's visit. So instead, I have a dressing that I get to replace, myself, AFTER I take a shower. Yeah, I get to take a shower unbandaged, for the first time in about two weeks! That is going to be great. They'll redo my Epifix biologic dressing on Thursday -- it actually arrived while I was in the tank LOL! Also, tomorrow I get to have my treatment late (I'm usually there at 9:30), and only have to be there at 1 PM.

25 down, 15 to go.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Sat Jun 3, 2017, 02:31 PM

28. Wow, I feel just about normal today

I know I felt better last weekend, but then I started to get worked up about going back after three days off, going super-early, and being treated by a different doctor. Today, I feel fine. Most of the discomfort I had late yesterday is gone. I can see there's still some bleeding from my newer, littler wound, and I'll ask for a new dressing on Monday.
Normal never felt so weird!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Mon Jun 5, 2017, 01:10 PM

29. 29 down

11 to go. I calculated it this morning as a 24-hour day's worth of time left. And now it's 2AM.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Thu Jun 8, 2017, 09:01 AM

30. Progress

Saw the doctor yesterday, and apparently I'm healing really well -- the depth measurement of the main wound is ZERO. I wasn't able to see it myself, so next week I'm bringing a pocket mirror with me. Everyone exclaimed over how good both wounds look (there is also skin growing at the edges of the smaller one), so that's really good. And pain is mostly non-existent.
I do seem to have lost all patience for the oxygen treatments, though. Those two hours in the tank feel like forever. My best solution is to take an anti-anxiety med and just have HGTV on at a low volume. Fade into sleep when I can.
#32 today.
Did I mention that the high air pressure affects vision? It's temporary but very annoying. Everything is blurry, and I have to sit closer when I watch TV.

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Response to PennyK (Reply #30)

Tue Jun 13, 2017, 12:01 AM

31. Odd.

I do actual diving - and I haven't noticed any blurry vision.

Tell them if you're diving, you want real water, and real fishies. Makes the time pass really quickly.

I'd been too busy to pay attention beyond the end of my nose, until apparently someone decided to take a dump on one of my threads in this forum - so I decided to take a look around. Sorry to hear you're having challenges, but good to hear you're plodding through them.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #31)

Tue Jun 13, 2017, 12:25 AM

32. Hello!

Well, the pressure in the tank is 2.5 times normal, and it just affects far vision -- I can still read and sew perfectly. Today i saw my doctor and he said the first wound is just about healed; this was to be the final EpiFix for that one. The other, smaller area has a ways to go, but it's looking much improved, too.
All my other sundry side effects are going away. The hair is still skimpy, and it's typical after-chemo hair...goofy little curls that stick out in all the wrong directions. And my taste buds! Everything tastes wonderful, which can get dangerous. Energy levels are great, too. I'm just dying for this treatment to be over so that I can have normal days again. Six more left.
Thanks for checking in!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 08:24 PM

33. Four treatments left!

Yep! I'll be counting down in real time. I can't wait to get this over with.
I forgot to mention that I did get to look at my wound in a mirror, and the main one is completely filled in...the other one looks like someone stuck a toothpick in a cream puff...it's now that small. Close to the finish line.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Thu Jun 15, 2017, 01:17 PM

34. THREE left!

And about the tenth rainy day in a row. They keep the oxygen tanks outside and it was freezing in there!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Fri Jun 16, 2017, 01:10 PM

35. TWO left

I brought a movie I thought I'd love, "Quartet," about a retirement home for musicians...and somehow I slept through the whole thing. Fastest session yet!

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Mon Jun 19, 2017, 04:46 PM

36. ONE LEFT

The nurse told me, this morning, that my doctor might want me to extend my treatment....oh no! I worried for three hours, and then I saw him and he said no. I don't even need the biologic dressing any more! Just bandaging and one last treatment where I'm going to watch a favorite move, Star Trek: First Contact.

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Tue Jun 20, 2017, 03:47 PM

37. I. Am. DONE!

So so happy to have this ordeal over with. I wore a flowery pretty top to the wound clinic and twirled around in the waiting room. Watched my movie and actually relaxed in there for a change, knowing it was the last time I'd have to do it. And I got the fixin's to celebrate tonight with a margarita!
Now I just have to figure out how to get back to normal life...

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Mon Jun 26, 2017, 06:00 PM

38. No more bandages!!!

Although the area looks kind of gross, it is all filled in. I am bandage-free! I can shower now without turning away. And I don't go back for two weeks. I'm so happy about my results that I actually began to feel guilty when interacting with the other patients in the waiting room (most there are diabetics and in terrible shape).

And I had a small victory of another kind! The hospital sent me a bill, and I realized it was in the exact amount my supplemental plan paid toward each oxygen treatment. I called them and they were able to reconcile the amounts. So no out-of-pocket.

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Response to PennyK (Reply #38)

Tue Jul 4, 2017, 03:03 PM

39. I'm so happy the dives are over and your wounds have healed. Thanks for

documenting your experiences.

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Response to sinkingfeeling (Reply #39)

Tue Jul 4, 2017, 03:57 PM

40. Thanks. sinkingfeeling!

I'm currently feeling depressed, though. I had pain in one hip for several months, and my doctor wanted to biopsy. Then the pain went away, so I didn't do it. Now, it's back, and I'm having the test next week.
I think it's most likely osteo-arthritis. I've had issues with my shoulders in the past. Once we eliminate the cancer possibility, I want to dive into treatment! Physical therapy, I'm guessing, the chiropractor, and maybe meds that can help.
I still can't see well, after the oxygen (it takes the vision 6 8 weeks to recover), and I can't really walk much, so I'm very limited as to what I can do now...

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Response to PennyK (Original post)

Fri Jul 7, 2017, 10:35 AM

41. Vision finally improving!

The pressure in the tank distorts, I think, your lenses, or the shape of your eyeballs. I read that it could take 6 to 8 weeks to return fully, but it's been very frustrating. Near vision remained fine, but mid-range and far have been so blurry (and my normal vision requires strong correction as it was).
Today I looked across the room at the TV and am able to see it more clearly. Oh huzzah for that! I had limited my driving to my nearby market, and along with what I THINK is some sort of arthritis in my hip, it's felt like I was almost in prison.

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