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Shoulder Blog

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.

June 29th - 2 Doctor Visits

So today i had two follow up appointment; one with Dr. Hansen who did the actual surgery, and one with dr. Burkhead, who i'm leaning to more as the doc who REALLY wants to help me, to fix whatever's wrong with my shoulder. The appointment with Dr Hansen went ok, i got the usual shpeal about Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and he recommended me to another doctor, a vascular specialist. That apointment isn't until the 23rd of July. He basically said he is done with me, he won't take the plate out, doesn't recommend a resection. According to him i should just live with the pain forever. Bleh.

The appointment with Dr. Burkhead was a little more productive. He talked with me about the possible causes, pinched nerves, etc ... I conveyed my reservations about having the clavicle resection, so he went over the entire procedure with me. In a best case scenario they remove the plate, shave a bit off of my collarbone, sow me back up and call it good. On the other hand, if the original fracture hasn't healed, he wants to take out the entire broken piece, removing the ligaments attaching it, and then reattaching them to the end of the bone that's there. The recovery time for this is 6 months to a year.

So to address the pain, he offered to give me a local anesthetic (lydecane) to help with the pain. Talk about scary, they shove this 3 inch log needle into you, them move it around and give you various injections all over the place, then they take it out and do it all over again in another spot. So after doing this and talking about postponing the surgery he offered to give me a cortizone injection as well, hoping that it could provide pain relief for up to 6 weeks, which would of course ROCK BALLS.

So i went home and took some valium, laid down and concentrated on the pulsing in my shoulder. Hopefully tomorrow i will be able to tell a difference for the better.

June 28th - Monday

So today was worse than most lately. Thankfully my hand is still doing well, and not going numb; my shoulder, however, hurt like a fucking bitch today.

I was frustrated all day and had to leave work early. Sometimes i just can't deal with the pain and need to lay down, something i don't think many people can comprehend much less understand.

I have two doctors appointment tomorrow, with Dr. Hansen and Dr. Burkhead. Hopefully 24 hours from now i'll have a better idea of what i need done and when it'll happen.

June 26th - My Birthday

Well today has been a bit better than most, my hand hasn't been numb for almost a week so i've been able to do some painting and drawing, i've also worked on the new website some more.

My shoulderblade has been bothering me tho, it seems when my arm doesn't ache or tingle it transfers to my shoulderblade. I have a sharp pain over the spot where your shoulderblade and collarbone connect.

The sharp pains in my bicep have subsided today as well, i think they get worse whenever i lift heavy objects, but i'll hafta pay closer attention to find out for sure.

All in all not a bad day, and easily made better by pain killers ... happy birthday to me.

June 24th - Dr. Bonnett

So i went to see doctor Bonnet yesterday, an orthopedic surgeon recommended by a co-worker who had a clavicle resection. He seemed nice enough and had a good disposition, and genuinely seemed to want to help.

I could hear him outside looking thru my chart and x-rays, he musta’ been out there a good 5 minutes, flipping back and forth.

The first thing he said when he walked in was "Sound like you've been thru hell this past year!" And i'm thinking in my head, "wow, you're the first doc to really notice that."

I went thru the usual steps with a new doc, describing the history and symptoms. And he retorts with all the things that could be wrong, "pinched nerve, carppel tunnel, cubbital tunnel, Thoracic Outlet, Nerve Damage, Brain Tumor."

All my symptoms seem to point to nerve damage, although it's random and intermittent, and nerve damage is usually pretty bad consistently. Also, every doctor, including this one, says if it WAS nerve damage, it would have been bad to BEGIN with, and would have gotten better this past year, adn not worse.

SO i asked him what he thought was wrong and what i should do. And he goes ... "well, usually i would send you to a shoulder specialist, a really good doctor by the name of dr. Hansen downtown." It would figure that he is already my doctor and seems just as stumped.

So he reassured me that a clavicle resection wouldn't disable me, and would be fairly painless and routine, all things considered. He did also say however, that it probably has nothing to do with my hand and shoulderblade. It may help my clavicle and the pain in my bicep, but who knows what it might make worse. I'm just so damn scared of having another surgery.

So as i'm leaving, Dr Bonnett shakes my hand and goes. "You’re a very interesting man with a very interesting case. If you don't mind i'ld like to call Dr. Hansen and discuss you're case with him to try and get to the bottom of it."

I said "sure, please feel free to do whatever you think will help."

So i called Dr Hansen again and have an appointment This coming Tuesday. I'm still no closer to figuring out what's really wrong; it could be a multitude of possibilities.

At least my hand isn't numb today, ahhh the joy of unpredictability.

I think now would be a good time to draw...

the story thus far

So, I opted not to have the initial surgery, as 90% of most patients due. For the most part, collarbones heal back normally with little treatment.

What I didn’t know then is that there are 3 types of collarbone breaks, based on the area broken, along with subset of each category. Turns out I had a type 2 distal clavicle fracture, the one that just so happens to have the most complications. It’s basically the worst kind of collarbone break you can get, completely breaking the distal end off, while tearing and separating the ligaments that hold your shoulder together.

Your collarbone acts like an axle and a crank a the same time, the slightest movement of your arm can send the outside end, or distal end, of you’re clavicle not only up, but twisting and rotating as well. As you can imagine this isn’t very conducive to bone healing. I wish I would have know this earlier.

Most people don’t realize it, but you’re arm has no bony attachment to your body. You have a knee joint and a hip joint, but you have no shoulder joint. I know what you’re saying to yourself … “Then how can someone dislocate his or her shoulder?”

Well here’s how!

You can actually dislocate you’re shoulder BECAUSE there are no bony attachments. The end of your Humorous, or upper arm bone, rests inside you’re rotator cuff, which is a modified ball and socket joint comprised entirely of muscle and ligament. So once you pop it out once, you’ve stretched out those muscles, and are usually prone to do it again

So 6 weeks go by and they say I can take the sling off, I was still very weak and sore, but managed to slowly increase my activity. About 12 weeks went by and I got the go ahead to start drumming again, something I was dying to do.

I wish now I wouldn’t have. After a couple months of playing and trying to rehab my arm through drumming, I began to notice I would get fatigued very quickly, and I couldn’t really do any overhead activity with my arm. So I go back to my doctor.

Turns out the bones never healed back, and the only thing keeping them from rubbing against each other, while causing great pain, was a small sac of fluid and scar tissue between them.

Now most doctors use surgery as a last resort, and I completely understand why. Needless to say I went through my fair share of physical therapy and home exercising. After a few months I began to develop severe back pain. After much deliberation I decided to have an OR-IF.

At first the results we’re good, and I progressed slowly but surely. About 4 month into recovery, I started developing numbness and tingling in my hand and forearm. I woke up one morning and the pain was unbearable. I immediately made an appointment to see my doctor, who seems very uninterested in helping me in any way, he seemed to think the pain was in my head, or that I was exaggerating.

It took 4 different doctors until I found one willing to REALLY help me, and to take me seriously. I currently have a very low opinion of medical professionals.

So that’s the story thus far, I live with pain and numbness is my hand and shoulder on a daily basis, and this is how I get out my thoughts, feeling, and frustrations. Hopefully it will be midly entertaining while serving to help and educate those who suffer the same fate.

My one piece of advice to everyone is to stay positive. As corny as it sounds, you can only feel as good as you let yourself. It’s your body, listen to it and take control of it. That, and don’t be afraid of doctors, a lot of them know a lot less than you do I can assure you.

an introduction

An introduction
On May 4th, 2003, I broke my collarbone. Not an uncommon accident. Collarbone fractures account for more than a third of all broken bones.

I was riding a new ATV. It flipped, and landed on ym shoulder. 500+ pounds of machinery falling backwards, pinning me to the ground, snapping the end off of mt collarbone.

My friend Bruce had to pull it off of me, I was pinned and good. I stood up and miraculously I could walk, I could breathe, I was OK.

Then my shoulder and arm went kinna’ fuzzy, and the pain kicked in. It hurt so bad I fell down.

My parents drove me to the ER, and I was x-rayed, diagnosed with a broken clavicle, and sent home with a sling, with orders to see my orthopedist first thing Monday.

So I go to see the doctor and get the usual shpeal, let it heal, it will most likely be fine. He told me there was an option to do a surgery, to lasso the bones together to ensure healing, I was so scared of surgery I declined, and that has haunted me ever since.

Had I had that small operation then I wouldn’t be in this situation.

My personal advice to anyone who ever breaks there collarbone, HAVE THE OPERATION. It’s not TOO invasive, and will keep you from having a titanium plate installed later.

Next: The Story Thus Far