Updates & Updates

Wow! I left a lot unsaid. I’ve been back to work full time since mid August. I’m sore sometimes but my shoulder seems to be doing better every day. I used to worry about what will happen in 5 years, 10, 20…but God has taught me to trust him. Every day that I can use my arm normally is a battle won. I’m very thankful not to be stuck in that place of helplessness & hopelessness anymore. 

Honestly, part of me wanted to go back & delete my pity party posts but I won’t. It was part of my healing & part of my journey. 

In other news, a month or so ago I woke up with sudden & significant hearing loss in both ears. After a lot of ruling things out, it was decided that a viral attack damaged my auditory nerves. That sucks & a few more pity parties were thrown. It’s a real hit to the pride to be buying hearing aids at 42. But it’ll be ok. If God put me here then there’s a reason. Perhaps my pride needed to take a hit. 

So that’s where I am. I’m not sure if I’ll update this blog anymore. Maybe if anymore weird medical problems show up. We’ll see. 

God Bless!

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FCE

Since my last post was a little negative…(ahem), I’ll try not to dissolve into a pity puddle today. 

Due to my insurance change, none of my doctors (primary care, orthopedic & pain management) are in network now. Pain management is on hold for now. My new Ortho doctor didn’t thrill me with his initiative. He did inject cortisone into my shoulder that didn’t really help anything. His one suggestion was that I have an FCE. Functional Capacity Evaluation. A five hour test done by a physical therapist that is supposed to determine what I can & cant do, employment wise. Of course, it can’t be done by a therapist who knows me. 

After reading horror stories online, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes it was 5 hours of doing things that hurt, but it wasn’t unbearable & I feel hopeful that it will get me out of this limbo. I also feel kind of like I’ve been through another surgery. Ouch!  I should have the report in a couple of days. Cross your fingers for me!

Clear As Mud

January has been interesting so far. And when I say interesting, I mean absolute chaos as far as my health situation goes. The pain, muscle spasms, ROM & strength problems continue unchanged. After my Ortho appointment on 12/12, after we talked about my shoulder situation, he put PT on the back burner due to lack of progress, and spoke to me about chronic pain management, I felt I had a pretty clear picture of his prognosis for my shoulder. He sounded very resigned to limited use & was moving on to dealing with this pain. While, this was upsetting, it wasn’t surprising at all. I live with this every day. 

So, when I started getting letters from my LTD company regarding unreturned update paperwork, I assumed something had just slipped through the cracks. But after numerous phone calls to Medicopy, the problem was that the Drs last note concerning my work status was “Return to work as able.” Obviously, that’s a bit too vague. Who decides when I’m able if he doesn’t. So, right before Christmas I started trying to reach his office to be more specific. About 2 weeks later his tech lets me know that a note was put in on 1/9 stating “Return to work no restrictions.” My first response was, maybe he had me confused with someone else? I mean, it was almost a month after my appointment when he put that note in. I explained to her my continuing problems & my inability to use my right arm on a consistent basis. She called back the next day. The note was changed to say “Return to deskwork, one armed. No pushing, pulling or lifting.”

And, that is clear as mud, right? One armed desk work? In what world is that feasible? Certainly not in insurance where every task is Hurry Up! Unfortunately, the LTD company will probably use that as a reason to stop benefits. I’m still waiting for that letter. 

Of course, my health insurance for 2017 is changing as well. Low premium, deductibles & copays are back. 

Then there’s the disability insurance that’s been taking care of my car payment…I’d say his note is also going to put a stop to that.

Basically, I’m looking at losing my pay & increasing my monthly bills. It’s infuriating when every single bit of this is out of my control. 

I drove to Lexington yesterday for my Pain Management appointment & was told I’d have to reschedule due to a computer mixup. I don’t even want pain management, but it seems to be something I have to consider. 

Honestly, I had a mini breakdown yesterday. It’s just all too much. It’s been months of being treated like a nonperson. Being categorized by people who have no idea what my days & nights are like. I must be faking, exaggerating, working the system. 

Before this accident, I was a hard working, reliable, independent person. It has never been a goal of mine to depend on government assistance. For over 20 years I’ve worked & climbed corporate ladders. Took the tests & made something of myself. I was a single mother with a good job, a good house & a good life. Now….well now I feel a bit like a sucker stick, after the sucker has been eaten. All the good parts are gone & what’s left is chewed up & isn’t much use to anyone. 

I’m tired. I want my life back. 

And Now This

It’s almost Christmas!!  We are pretty excited about girls night candy making & all the family gift exchange plans.  It’s been a rough year, but also a good one. 

I’ve come to rely more & more on my faith in God. Knowing he has a plan for my life & is taking care of me even when I can’t see it, is a huge relief. I’m ok & will continue to be ok. God is good all the time & he works all things for the good of those who love him. All things. 

I had an appointment with my ortho surgeon on 12/12. We agreed that I’ve come as far as I can in physical therapy, so that’s on hold for now. He is referring me to a chronic pain doctor who specializes in Neuromodulation. I had to look that one up. From what I’ve read, this practice involves implanting a device to either dispense pain medication (non-opoid) or to send electrical currents that control pain. 

I’m going to meet with the doctor & discuss because Google doesn’t know everything. If, in fact, those are my options, I’m inclined to pass for now. While I do have almost constant pain & am prevented from doing a lot of things, my pain level doesn’t stay at the unbearable level as long as I’m careful. I don’t feel I need constant pain control at this point. 

Adjusting 

Good morning.  At almost 5 months post op of my 2nd shoulder surgery, over a years worth of physical therapy and all of the life changes that have been implemented as a result, I’ve been working on adjusting to my reality as opposed to fighting it.  I’m not giving up, but I truly feel that I’ll never get full use of my dominant arm back. If I do, that will be a happy surprise. 

As with the prior surgery & manipulation under anesthesia, I’ve improved to the point that the pain stays around a dull ache unless I overuse my arm. By overuse I mean: trying to lift/carry anything over a couple of pounds, gripping/twisting/pushing/pulling anything that requires muscle, trying to hold my arm suspended for more than a minute or so without support, any repetitive motions, bearing down on anything, reaching too far in any direction away from my body. I know that sounds like a lot that I can’t do but I’ve learned that keeping my elbow close to my body when I use the arm helps with support, so I can do a lot of self care & light cleaning without help. I find myself automatically finding alternate ways to take care of necessities with a lot of rest stops along the way. 

My surgeon & physical therapist think I could improve more as I strengthen the arm. 2lb weights fatigue me pretty quick. Aquatic therapy isn’t progressing much either. It feels more like maintaining what I have as opposed to moving forward much. My range of motion improves if my therapist uses her body weight & strength to push my arm into positions I could NOT reproduce on my own. I get that we are fighting scar tissue & frozen shoulder, but it doesn’t have much impact on what I can do day to day. 

Keeping all that in mind, my employment options are slim to none. Honestly, do you know any employers willing to hire someone who can only work minutes at a time without stopping to rest & then trying to find work that basically just takes one arm? And then there’s the disclosure of this type of injury & resulting limitations that make me a Workers Comp claim just waiting to happen.  No, I don’t think I’ll be high on anyone’s list for potential hires. 

We haven’t talked about my hand yet… The constant dropping of things….tremors & spasms. I’m still hoping my hand is a temporary condition. The EMG will tell the tale on that. 

My point is, I’m trying to stop comparing my pre-injury life to my current situation. Money is tight & we’ve given up a lot. Beating myself up over that doesn’t change anything. I’m working on the things I can do. Finding dinner recipes that don’t involve peeling/chopping/slicing or draining. Getting my left arm coordinated enough to do more things. Smaller loads of laundry, smaller bags of trash, grocery shopping online and soaking means not scrubbing. I’ve learned that if I boil potatoes with the skin on, it just slides off afterwards so I don’t have to peel them. 

It’s just a lot of little things that add up to regaining some of the independence I’ve lost through all this. There are so many people out there who have it worse than me. I’ve been blessed with so much & im determined to focus on the positive. 

Feeling Twitchy

The twitching spasms in the fingers & thumb of my right hand seem to be getting worse. I’m staring to wonder how it isn’t somehow related to my shoulder problems. At this point, any time I lightly grip anything, my fingers will start twitching. My whole arm is going numb again at night & the top of my hand is so achy.  I’ve also noticed that picking up anything small between my thumb & finger (pinching motion) is almost impossible. I can’t seem to catch hold of anything. 

I’ve left a message for my Ortho dr requesting that he go on & schedule the nerve study. 

I’ve also been trying to see how long I can use a computer. So far, I can make it about 30 minutes without having to walk away. The shoulder pain gets pretty intense at that point. 

To say I’m discouraged is an understatement. 

3 month Post Op

I had my 3 month-ish post op appointment this morning. The doctor took some ROM measurements & feels I’ve made some good progress. He wants me to continue aquatic therapy for strengthening. 

We discussed my continued hand spasms & how I’ve been dropping things. He feels this isn’t related to my shoulder injury & could be early signs of carpal tunnel. I have my next appointment set for the end of October & he suggested we revisit that issue then & possibly follow up with some nerve testing. As for my shoulder, he is hopeful I’ll keep improving enough to be “cut loose” at that point. 

I’m almost afraid to hope that this ordeal will soon be completely behind me. Two days ago marked a year since my original injury. In the grand scheme of things, I suppose a year isn’t a lot of time. It’s felt like forever to me that I haven’t had full use of my dominant arm. I’ve found alternate ways to do almost everything & it seems like I automatically protect my right arm no matter what I’m doing.  I guess once I find a job, the normalcy will come back.  I’m excited that I could be working again before the holidays. I can Christmas shop!!