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.

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…

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….

July 7th – Wednesday

Well i think the cortizone is wearing off.

Today i hurt more than i have in a few weeks, and over the past 2 days my hand has been tingling mildly and getting that aching feeling. I took the day off from work in hopes of resting my shoulder and hand, and have such been informed that all missed time will now be docked from my vacation/sick time. It’s fair i suppose, but frustrating considering my likelihood is in jeopardy now. I’ve been exercising more, more to keep my mind off the pain than anything else, but it seems to at least be good for my overall morale.

I have another appointment July 23rd with a vascular specialist, perhaps he can help me pin down the cause of all this; weather it be Carpel Tunnel Syndrome , Cubital Tunnel Syndrome, or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

Either way I’ve got at least another few months of being in pain, waiting on results and surgery recommendations. I’m beginning to firmly believe that doctors truly do only care about money.

All i’m asking is for someone to help fix me. It doesn’t seem like a lot to ask.

July 7th – Good Advice

A fellow clavicle sufferer gave me some words of wisdom recently,

he said: “When you feel good, you are cocky like it is going to be o.k. When it feels bad, you sound desperate and un-informed.”

And he’s right. Today i feel desperate and uninformed. I feel hopeless, and i don’t think i will ever be rid of this pain, or able to do the things i once did.

Very rarely do i get emotional, and one thing chronic pain will do, is MAKE you emotional. There are days that you feel energetic like you can handle anything, you can make it through another day; and those days are encouraging.

And there are days like today, when the pain is so great and so concentrated that it makes you want to give up. It makes you want to give in and self medicate. To feel NOTHING as opposed to always being in pain.

I bough groceries today, an everyday task for most people, a daunting thing for me today. It hurt so bad i couldn’t lift a gallon of milk without my shoulder feeling like it was exploding. I have these sharp pains that ripple down my bicep in certain positions. They only last a second but they literally stop me in my tracks. It’s hard to drive, I can’t really rest my shoulder anywhere, it feels like my shouldeblade is poking into the seat, and it hurts something fierce. Thankfully I don’t have to drive far to work.

The numbness is still gone but my hand is tingling again. And my forearm too. My forearm has never tingles like this before today. I bet anything swimming really aggravated something in there. I’ve also noticed my good shoulder is starting to hurt at night sometimes, and often when I wake up it will be sore. I’m not too sure if it’s from overuse, or maybe It’s from sleeping the same way every night, but there are only so many positions that I can sleep in as well.

I don’t mean to complain per say, or to sound bitchy, but I needed to get it off my chest. It feels good to vent, and this is the only way I can do it constructively. Plus it gives me a reference to look back on later. At least the meds are kicking in finally…

And the moral of the story is : everything is relative, and there is always tomorrow.

July 4th – Independance Day

Today was great. I went out to the parent’s house in princeton and had home-grilled burgers with all the fixens. I went swimming for about an hour an came out of it with a nice tan. My shoulder did great, and it felt SO good to be in the water, actually using my arm to it’s full extent without having to support the weight. I think i’ll make that a weekly part of my regimen now. At least an hour in the pool on sundays. it’ll do me good.