August 27 – Tentative Surgery Date

So I finally have a date set. WOO HOO! Just in case you didn’t know, the entire point of my first operation was to correct a broken collarbone, using a 6 inch titanium plate as an internal splint.

Well I received good news this past Tuesday in the form of a nice spiffy x-ray showing promising signs that my bone has in fact grown back into one piece.

So what does this mean for me you might ask. Well, a shitload actually. It means that my coming surgery will remove the plate, leaving me with a plateless, one-piece, fully-functioning collarbone, minus the extra space the plate was taking up, which should help alleviate my symptoms even more. I plan on attaching the T.O.S. with some aggressive physical therapy.

So September 22 is the tentative date for this bad boy, baring they have an opening any sooner, in which case the date may move up.

They will be removing the titanium plate, and applying some artificial bone graft to help with healing. The good news is that baring any complications I should only be in a sling for about 14 days, and able to return to work and normal activities in 6 weeks.

more to come.

Sick As A Dog

So the last 2 days have been the best and worst, respectively, of the past year and a half.

So if you haven’t read the good news, you can do so HERE. In short, my bone is healed and I can now have surgery to take the plate out, in hopes of receiving my T.O.S. symptoms.

So yesterday was average in the fact that I didn’t hurt extremely bad. I seemed to get through the workday fine. I tried to go to sleep around 1 and just couldn’t, I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately and i’m not quite sure why. So I tossed and turned for a bit, i finally got up and decided to veg out on the idiot box.

Come about 3 o’clock all hell broke loose. I haven’t been this sick in a while, and I’ve been sick off and on in the past 2 weeks. It’s funny too, so far there are 3 or 4 people I work with, on the NEW floor no less, all have been having stomach problems the last 2 weeks. Before that is was headaches.

Maybe it’s bad karma.

So I’m not sure what happened, but amidst the puking and diarrhea I seemed to have agitated the fuck out of my shoulder. My hand went almost completely numb, something that I’ve managed to avoid for almost a month now.

Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep last night, what with the epic struggle between my shoulder and bowels. It will be known as “The Great Blowout of 2004.”

I had to take the day off from work to rest my hand, being a designer with T.O.S. isn’t a good thing. Kind of hard to design when you can’t hold a fucking mouse.

I’m trying to stay positive though, I should get my surgery date today or tomorrow, and then I’ll have a date to look forward to for “hardware removal”.

More to come for sure…

August 24 – Dr. Burkhead and Surgery

I went to see Dr. Burkhead Tuesday for my final pre-surgery visit. I was planning on taking the titanium plate out, in hopes that it would alleviate some of my Thoracic Outlet Syndrome symptoms. I was skeptical though, seems Burkhead wanted to do a clavicle resection as well, and if you’ve seen my x-rays, that is way to much bone to take out. I’ve read anything more than 1 or 2cm being removed can cause MAJOR complications. And I really don’t want to come out any worse this time.

So I asked some questions and told him about my reservations, i also told him straight up that I didn’t want to and wouldn’t let him remove the end of my clavicle. So he decides to do an x-ray, and low and behold, on a light exposure, there are very promising signs of union.

I literally couldn’t fucking believe it.

I don’t like to get my hopes ups, but the x-rays DO look promising. See for yourself.

So after getting the good news, I agreed to let him remove the plate, and shave off the very tip of the lateralof my collarbone, as the union has made the top part stick out in a spiky fashion.

I literally felt hopefull for the first time in almost 9 months. It was nice. So we got into talking about possible treatments for the T.O.S., and he starts talking about releasing my scalene muscles, or my pectoralis minor muscles from the bones. Now I’m amazed by modern medicine, but it’s hard for me to wrap my head around detaching muscles from bone. It seems altering your anatomy that much just couldn’t possibly be good for you. However, it seems the muscle scars back to the bone, allowing the muscle to “stretch” and allow for more space in your thoracic outlet. Good thing I took my dad with me.

He’s had a shoulder injury now for several years, with pretty severe nerve damage. He’s also develop R.S.D., , a VERY debilitating nerve disease. If anyone knows his shit, it’s my dad. Funny thing, my Grandfather had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome as well. They took out his first rib to allow for more space. Four years later his lung collapses, and they discover cancer living in the scar tissue of his rib and all down his surgical scar. It eventually spread to his brain and killed him.

And so now my dad has T.O.S. as well, thanks to his work-related injury. He had some kind of nerve cutting procedure done (for obvious reasons he didn’t opt to remove a rib, something ill never do either). Well, nerves are funny things, and despite what doctors and books tell you, they DO grow back, albeit very slowly, only they don’t work right when they do. Imagine your nerves as the electrical wiring in a robot, and someone crosses all the wires from your arm to your brain. From you’re shoulder down, you’ll never work correctly again. Symptoms include, pain, aching, tingling, numbness, muscle atrophy, and wasting.

And so now I have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome as well. Woo Hoo!

* Insert sarcasm here

So now I have to do as much research as I can on active surgical pectoralis minor muscle releases. Shit, that’s a mouthful.

July 30th – Dr. Morrison and the EMG

So i went for my second EMG today, this time with a Dr. Frank Morrison that was recommended by the Vascular Specialist Dr. Pearl, who i was referred to by Dr. Hansen, the doc who did the original surgery. Confused? me too. Doctors are weird and confusing to me as well.

So i arrived an hour late, at 5, after my appointment being delayed 2 hours. Seems he REALLY likes to take his time and do a thorough examination. After about 45 minutes of observing, testing reflexes, comparing feelings in my arm, hand, etc, he hooked me up to the EMG machine. I didn’t leave his office until almost 8.

I’m usually talkative when I’m nervous, and when people are pumping volts thru me and sticking mw with needles it tends to make me nervous. So i talked with him about my symptoms and his thoughts so far. Thank god he had a good bedside manner.

Seems the original Diagnostician didn’t do a very good job. She didn’t even test my good arm as a control, which he seemed very surprised by. Seem everyone Dr. Hansen touches gets fucked up, and all the doctors he refers me too fuck their jobs up. He said he sees more of Dr. Hansen’s patients after surgery than any other 2 combined. He also asked why I didn’t have dr. Burkhead do it. He seems to think very highly of him. I hope so, cause he is going to be the one to take the plate out.

So after almost 2 hours of being poked and prodded I was done. I wiggled as much out of him as I could, as doctors don’t like to tell YOU the results, they’d rather another doctor tell you based on their notes. Or some bullshit like that.

But, according to him my symptoms are obvious. Turns out I have what he called “beautiful anomalies” in my nerve conductivity, as well as 2 pinched nerves, Thoracic Outlet syndrome, Nerve compression at C6 and C7, and a possible herniated disk. So in lamens terms, The Surgery fuct me up worse, and i have nerve damage.

WooHoo for modern medicine.

So it’s been a week exactly and I’m STILL waiting for the “official” results to be sent to the vascular specialist. Once he gets them I can decide what type of surgery needs to be done. Hopefully just taking the damn titanium plate out will be enough to give me my hand back. At this point that’s all I want, to be able to draw and write without my hand going numb and being in excruciating pain.

Ahh, one can dream.

More to come….