Sunday, August 25, 2013

Another casulaty of TOS

Good night sweet princess. We will be harvesting our mass tomato crop soon.
 The other day I came to the conclusion that my 3D DS was the latest victim of my TOS. It was on of the things I'd held on to, 'played through the pain' on. I want my Harvest Moon damn it. I'm pregnant with Allen's baby and I'm harvesting 5 star crops. This is so uncool. At least I'm stopping before I drop her in the bathtub or on a hard floor. (thank god for insurance but the thought of all that lost data!!!)

These leaves my phone, kindle and most of the use of my Wii. For the most part the laptop and computer are doable as long as I wear my brace/glove. Still by the end of the day of work, I don't even want to bother with my laptop. My phone and kindle are borderline right now, but I'll fight to use them. It's just limited. My Wii I'm to scared of putting the remote through the tv. I've been playing a lot of Samurai Warriors because it requires the pro controller. It's thick enough and doesn't require me to hold on to it while flailing around.

I'm still going crazy though. 18 days to go. My work check list keeps growing and I'm about ready to scream. I've been thankful for the Doll. Without her, I'd have gone mad by now. I'm not getting support from my lead and I almost feel like this is payback for going above her when things weren't getting done. My PettiePet comes back tomorrow and I plan on having a heart to heart with her about the whole situation and my concerns for while I'm gone.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

The other night when I posted I realized a couple things. For one, the pain med I'm on made me a little weird the first few days of taking it. Second is that I was a massive emotional mess and exhausted beyond belief. The good news is I've slept and ate for most of today and spent it snuggled with my bear. I don't like taking stuff for pain like that. Though with how I've been lately, I needed something. This whole thing has made me see just how high my pain tolerance is and how I do react to it when my mind is not actually feeling it. I wait on taking them until later in the day. I'm stubborn like that and still kind of hope it's not that bad but i know it is.

So what is going on with me? Thoracic outlet syndrome is when the scalene muscles in the neck compress the nerves and blood vessels that run to your arm. It can be triggered by physical trauma. Some times people have an extra rib by their collar bone that can cause it. Symptoms can mimic carpel tunnel. Usually, people don't know they have until much later down the road, around 5 years. The only proven treatment is to have the scalene muscles removed. They muscles are kind of like your appendix, it's one of those parts that we needed a long time ago, but over the course of evolution we've lost the need for it. 

When this all started, I'd get pain mostly in my pinky and ring finger. I'd start drawing and the pain would start. After 2 quarters of dealing with it I had carpel tunnel release surgery done, but was still dealing with pain. I just let it go and figured that be as good as it got. A few months later, I was in a car accident with my mom. While we weren't hurt, child safety restraint did it's job. I did still hit the window though and the seat belt really dug into my neck/should area.

So I just kind of dealt with it from there. I gave up doing illustration work except for very short stints of it. I use to hours working on a piece. When that stopped, I went to fabric work. It was easier to work with scissors and I like the textures and colors. All was mostly well until about a year ago, when I started doing a lot more coding work with my job. I've lived in a compression glove and a wrist brace for about 6 months now.

TOS is one of those things that doens't get diagnosed right away. People usually bounce from doctor to doctor trying to get a diagnosis, which is what I did. Thankfully, instead of taking years between doctors and physical therapy and massage, I've been lucky enough to have a friend who'd been through this. She was telling me from the first day I came to work in a brace that she didn't think it was a recurrence of carpel tunnel. Had she not been so insistent and spoke up again after my ortho doctor, I would have given up.

Of course now, after the official diagnosis and having a 4 hour stent without pain, I can see just how much it's effected life. I've been drinking from lidded cups for about a year now. My hand writing has gone to shit. That part I didn't even notice until this week when I was struggling to write a card out of a patient legibly. I really can't hold writing utensils anymore... or chopsticks... or much of anything. When I think about it though, I really didn't start having serious problems until the last 6 months or so. Or at least didn't except I had a problem until about then. I have good friends and work with good doctors. 

I'm looking forward to burning my wrist braces though. Wearing them every day for the last 6 months sucks and they are ugly. Really ugly. Maybe I'll start a campaign to make more stylish braces in fun colors, but after everything settles and I can draw again.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Short rambling update

I know, another long stint with no update.

I had my appointment with the vascular doctor on last Tuesday. My day was 2 appointments. The first was a neuro block injection. While the doctor was super nice and Nightmare before Christmas fan and knew about build-a-bears, but getting an injection in your neck sucks no matter how nice the doctor is. I was still pretty shaken up over the shot so I didn’t notice much of anything at first. By the time I’d gotten to my second appointment with the vascular doctor and was in the room with him, I noticed just what an improvement there was. It then struck me that just a short time before that I had been able to fill out paperwork with a stick pen with no brace. 

So… I broke down on the poor guy right there. It was the first time in about 10 years I haven’t been in some level of pain. After a few more tests, Dr. Johanson had determined I’ve lost about 70% of the strength/use of my hand. I’m borderline disabled. I’ve always just kind of put up with it and done what I’ve needed to do despite pain and discomfort, but hearing numbers put to it was really frightening and eye opening. I’m so mad at myself for waiting this long. I might not get full sensation back in my finger tips. I currently don’t feel hot or cold well. 

So I have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and only have 2 options at this point for treatment. The first is botox injections. Insurance doesn’t cover them and it would be almost $900 every 3 months. The second is surgery which is 90% effective and covered by insurance. I’m going with the for sure method.

I’m set up for surgery next month. Aside from being terrified of staying in the hospital overnight, I’m actually doing really well with this. Well… there is the whole stress with work because I’m sure I’m going to come back to a mess after 3 weeks out. I know this will be for the best though. I can sew again and paint and draw. If it wasn’t for my friendy at work, I think I would have given up trying to find an answer.

I know this is rambling and quick, but typing has been hard on me after doing it all day at work. The good news is that I finally broke down and asked for something for pain. I’m not so cranky now! While I have a high tolerance, I really didn’t realize how high until that injection and the pain was gone. I’m really looking forward to when it’s gone for good.