Thursday, May 31, 2007

FYI, I guess. Been thinking about this a lot today, obviously.

I've torn/re-torn my rotator cuff about 4 times.

I went to physical therapy in lieu of surgery (which I couldn't afford due to lack of insurance), and when I found that I couldn't afford that, either, I decided to just try to do some exercises on my own, while taking it easy on my shoulder to keep it from tearing itself in half again.

I worked out vigilantly with weights earlier this year in a weight-loss effort that has stalled due to a decided lack of facilities in my immediate living area. I was careful not to lift any more than my shoulder told me I could. I spent a lot of time looking like a puss, but no injuries happened, and I was able to get to 55-lb tricep curls, which I viewed as a pretty big accomplishment, all things considered.

Apparently the weights strengthened the muscles enough that they were able to heal, which is nice, because I can lift things with both arms again. This is an ability which made moving out of my dorm that much easier earlier this month, and something I was excited about.

Well, apparently everything healed in the wrong position, and now I'm having what I assume to be nerve-damage-related pains. Funny that these never happened while I was working out.

I thought about AD's adventures with pain-med seekers when someone said to me this morning, "Honey, are you okay? You're white as a sheet!"

The good thing about the pain is that it's not constant, though my muscles tensing up at the first onset is causing some pretty heinous knots to form in my back and neck on the right side .

The bad thing is that it doesn't respond to anti-inflammatory medication...or NSAIDs, or whatever you call them. One night a few weeks ago I spent two hours in a luxurious hotel bed, unable to enjoy my surroundings or sleep because I was in so much pain I couldn't see straight. I had taken 550mg of naproxen (the prescription my doctor gave me when I told him I was bedridden with cramps...thanks, doc, it didn't help a bit) along with 2 extra-strength Tylenol. My liver was twitching, but my shoulder's condition didn't change.

The pain comes when it wants, and leaves when it wants. No amount of positioning or stretching will hasten its departure.

I need a massage for these knots, but I'm afraid of what will happen when someone digs their elbow into my shoulder blade. Will it set off a chain reaction in the nerves that will cause my shoulder to start hollerin' again?

The part, for me, that causes the most frustration is that I don't know when the pain's going to happen. It's happened 3 times today. Sometimes I can go weeks without feeling it. There is no list of set activities that I can avoid to keep from being in pain. And when it hurts, I can't do anything but sit there and try not to throw up.

I mean, the endorphin rush I get when the pain finally dissipates is pretty cool, but damn. :-P

Edit: I should mention that there's some irony here that people who aren't around me all the time wouldn't automatically "get": I work in the biologics department of one of the world's biggest suppliers of prosthetic items to repair broken bones and damaged tendons, including a product that's apparently been blessed by Jesus (sarcasm...don't come lynch me) because when used in rotator cuff repair, it has no equal in terms of how it helps the patient heal.

I broke my toe last May while working here. Guess what else they manufacture? Yep: prosthetic toes and screws to repair that sort of thing.



TD said...

Yeah, that arm's probably gonna have to come off...

Squeaky Wheel said...

Probably. I guess I'll have to start driving an automatic. :-(

John said...

Rotator Cuff tear = Vicodin, Percodan, Tylox- whatever you need!! It is legit excruciating pain and don't let no Dr. leave you in pain! Thats what those meds are for!! You are no druggie!!

Now take that arm off and beat the Hell outta some Doctor- Prayers going up!

Best wishes....keep us posted please!!


Squeaky Wheel said...

They always send me for X-ray and physical therapy. Docs down here don't like to give out pain medication...they're stuck on giving out things like Seroquel for PMS I appreciate their effort (with the physical therapy as opposed to just handing out pain meds), because a lot of times, as with the Seroquel incident (that's a fun story for another time), they see one symptom and throw medication at you without finding out your history.

I know what needs to be done (re-alignment and repair surgery), but with no insurance and not enough money, I'm pretty well stuck just gritting my teeth and working through it.

Ambulance Driver said...

Bonnie, have you thought about going to the ortho clinic at one of the bigger teaching hospitals? There may be a waiting list, but they do serve a great many uninsured patients.

Squeaky Wheel said...

You know what I just read?: "Bonnie, here's a wonderful piece of advice that involves communicating with a part of the medical science community that you like to pretend doesn't exist due to your previous encounters with doctors fresh out of medical school, and thus may not do you any good unless someone kicks your ass into doing it, pain be damned."

I don't even know how to go about searching for any program like that. I can override my irrational fear of med-school surgeons (*shudder*), but searching for medical services has never been my forte. And if I have to do any traveling, it's out, because I'm seriously broke (hence the lack of insurance in the first place).

So I'll ask around, but I'm not sure what I can come up with.

(also, any bitchy overtones to this comment should please be ignored, as I've had a pisser of a day and I just woke up from a very unsatisfying nap, but I knew I wouldn't be able to answer this comment later due to my wandering mind, so I just chose to try my best to answer it now without totally offending you)