Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dear Left Arm....Please Start Working Again

It's hard to believe I started the journey of pain about 3 years ago with my left arm. What started as numbness, tingling and stabbing pain has turned into a complete nuisance. There was no mechanism of injury, no answer to be found. Only problem, my left arm was pretty dysfunctional. My right arm is much better, but not perfect. It didn't seem that we needed to be concerned up to this point with it.

The path started with a visit to Piedmont Hospital's Orthopaedic Surgeons group in 2007. Test after test was run and no point of injury could be found. The pain increased with the stress and use and the frustration set in early with this process. I had more cortisone shots, EEG Nerve tests and MRI's than I'd like to count during this first part of the journey.  With no real idea of what else to do, my Surgeon finally decided surgery was the answer. So May of 2008 (notice this started in 2007) I went under the knife. They performed an Ulnar Nerve Transposition  in outpatient surgery. I was sent home, pretty drugged up with a nice cast that I had to wear for about 2 months. Certain this would be the cure, I was confident going forward.

Flash forward 6 months...the pain and frustration was back. The surgery did not alleviate the problem, in fact now it was worse. The pain was still in my elbow, except now much more than before, was in my neck and shoulder. They said it was stress and that physical therapy and some more cortisone shots and EEG nerve scans, which would come up negative for nerve damage/entrapment. Finally about January of 2009, my surgeon believed that the problem was more than he and his team could handle. So I was sent to Emory to a Cardiothoracic Surgeon.

Again, MRI's, EEG's and Cat scans were performed. Again, they all came back negative. It wasn't until they performed the Doppler Flow Test that some results started showing up. Without a doubt, my new Surgeon had determined that a first rib resection would do the trick. It took some time to get into the bookings for surgery (because they were busy and because my work schedule was insane). Finally, in August 2009, I went under the knife again. This time, a much more invasive and serious procedure. They went in through my armpit and removed my first rib (which by the way, is in  your neck up by the clavicle).  I remained in the hospital in quite a lot of pain and on a lot of medicine (with an IV in my neck administering Morphine) for about 4 days. I was released on the 5th day to continue the recovery process at home. I wasn't able to drive for 3 weeks, couldn't work and had lots of pain, more than I could imagine having. Again, after the pain subsided and the healing process came closer to an end (much longer and worse than the first surgery), I was confident this did the trick.

Flash forward again to now. Today I'm having just as many issues as before. The pain in my elbow is ever present. My neck, shoulder and arm are constantly numb and the frustration is even more (if that's possible) than before. Today I head to the Neurosurgeon at Emory hospital. I'm not sure really what to think or what they'll find. With my track record, they wont find anything.

This has got to be one of the most frustrating thing I've ever dealt with. There is no mechanism of injury to relate the problem. There is no fix that has seemed to work. Maybe this new Surgeon will figure it out...or at least I hope! What I do know is that I've learned a lot about my body, pain tolerance and what I can/can't handle. My family, friends and Mike have been there for me since the beginning and know how much this wears on me and well, them too. I used to joke about just cutting off my left arm, though I know that wouldn't do the trick and would be a whole new set of issues. I just want to be back to normal.

So with that....I beg of you new Neurosurgeon, figure this mystery out.

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Kristi said...

Oh my gosh, that's awful! Best of luck today, hope they can figure something out. Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

Jared and Rian Edwards said...

Praying for you today! I had a lot of those same issues in 1999. We found out I had osteosarcoma (bone cancer). I had surgery in May of 1999 to replace my humerus with a cadaver bone. In January of this year, I will replace my cadaver bone (which is broken in 2 places) with all metal. God is amazing, and He won't take you to it if He doesn't have a plan to get you through it! Keep us posted on your visit. Well wishes coming your way!

Kerr said...

Fingers crossed for you today!

Melissa said...

Thanks for all the well wishes!! I'll be sure to update after my appointment this afternoon!

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