Time For a Do Over

I’ve been back at work this time for a little over 30 days. Every day there has been a varying degree of pain, muscle spasms & fatigue.  On a good day I can drive home without crying. On a bad day…well, I’ve contemplated driving off a bridge. I know that sounds overly dramatic, and I don’t think I’d ever actually do it, but day after day of pain is really wearing me down.  I’m short tempered, cry at the drop of a hat & find it hard to concentrate for very long. My home is in shambles because at the end of the day, I’m physically & emotionally worn out.   

About mid week of my 2nd week back, I woke up with my arm practically locked down.  I couldn’t raise it much without stabbing pain.  I couldn’t get my shirt off. After calling in sick, I left a message with the nurse of my Ortho doc to call me & summarized what was going on. My physical therapist got me in immediately & hooked me up to a Tens Unit to ease the pain. She recommended I have my doctor write an Rx for a portable unit.  

Later, I got a callback from my doctor who started our conversation by saying it was “bizarre” that I’m still having so much pain.  He told me there was nothing more he could do, offered me more pain pills & advised me to push through the pain. As if that isn’t what I’d been doing.  He decided I didn’t need a Tens unit.  He didn’t want to see me or examine my shoulder.  He treated me like a misbehaving child who used up all his patience.  At one point in the conversation, He asked if I valued my job.  As if this was some ploy to avoid working.  I told him I was afraid something was wrong inside my shoulder. I do know the difference between soreness from use and actual, “there’s something wrong” pain. Again, He treated me like I was an idiot, Refused any further testing & wrote a note that I continue working with “no use” of my right arm. That was lovely. Return to work, but you aren’t allowed to do anything. So, I’ve moved my mouse to the left side of my desk & have been trying to minimize repetitive movement of my right arm during the day. It makes me slow, is frustrating and I still have the pain & muscle cramps. 

On advice from my physical therapist at my next appointment, I decided to get a second opinion before accepting this painful quality of life. She recommended a doctor who’s patients she sees a great success rate from.  

I made an appointment with this orthopedic shoulder specialist. On my first visit he examined my range of motion & sent me for X-rays. That day he told me it was obvious something was wrong. He also showed me on the X-ray where the right side of my collar bone had been shortened & a piece of loose bone had been left in my shoulder. He scheduled an MRI with dye to get a full picture of what was going on. He assured me that this wasn’t a result of any lack of effort on my part & pointed out the unnatural angle of my right shoulder blade due to a long term shoulder injury that wasn’t healing correctly. I left his office with some hope.

The MRI was painful, but worth it. I have another tear in the anterior of my labrum. Probably the result of an anchor being placed wrong. Everything has also “scarred down” to the point of not leaving enough room for my shoulder joint to move freely. I have a 2nd surgery scheduled in 2 days to try to clean everything up & reanchor my labrum. This time I’ll get a pain block so that, hopefully, I won’t be so immobile after surgery & can avoid a lengthy period that would lead to more stiffening of the joint. I was warned that multiple shoulder surgeries can sometimes cause cartilage problems. He also has cautioned that there will still be some scarring down. 

I have a lot of mixed emotions about a 2nd surgery. On one hand, I feel vindicated that the pain wasn’t something I should have pushed through. That several things had gone wrong inside my shoulder. I feel hope that I will be able to recover & have a lot less pain.  On the other hand, I dread the recovery itself…going back into a sling, starting PT over once again, not being able to drive, the inevitable money juggling. 

Speaking of money, one last facet of this ordeal. I only have 21 days of supplemental sick pay left to use.  After that, I’ll roll onto long term disability, resulting in automatic termination of my position. My manager has offered to hold my job with 2 scenarios: 1) I return to work before my 21 days is up or 2) I don’t go onto LTD & any time after the 21 days is unpaid time.  Obviously, my ability to accept option 2 will depend on the length of time for recovery.  I basically live paycheck to paycheck & can’t imagine going without pay for more than a couple of weeks. I want to actually heal & regain some pain free use of my right arm. What a mess. 

I’m nervous / hopeful & trying to not look too far ahead at all the “what ifs”.  I’m so very thankful for a doctor with a new perspective & a 2nd chance to fix me. I’m thankful I’ve had a few full paychecks this month to catch up on some bills. 

I’ll check in after my surgery with updates. 

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