Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Decision is Made

Chronic pain in not fun. It distorts your mind, your body and your soul. It changes the way you look at life, at people, at yourself. It controls your thoughts, your actions and your desires. Chronic pain will turn you into someone you do not recognize as yourself.

In the beginning of the summer, I noticed a small ache in my right shoulder. I tried to ignore it until the ache began to keep me awake at night and I noticed I was losing the range of motion in my arm. In September I sought medical attention.

I am a relatively bright girl with a more than adequate understanding of the body and medicine. But it has been an unbelievable challenge to understand what is happening to my body and sift through the information that has been given to me. Not only to understand it, but to make decisions on how to proceed with the best treatment for the problem.

Dr. #1 diagnosed severe subscapularis tendonopathy, AC bone spurs and bicepital tendonopathy. He wants to 'take down the tendon', grind off the bone spurs and reroute the biceps tendon. In other words, major surgery. But I am not sure how that solves the fact that my arm does not move. On to Dr. #2.

Dr. #2 makes more sense. He says, 'you have a classic case of frozen shoulder'. It is definitely frozen. My arm barely moves and what motion I have is extremely painful. He says surgery is the worst thing I can do. He says 'wait is out'. It will heal itself. Caveat? It will take 1-2 years. But with time and a positive attitude I will 'get through this'.

I do the research and I think Dr. #2 is right on target. I believe I have frozen shoulder. Somewhere along the line I sustained an injury that caused me to guard it and then it started to freeze. There are three stages to this syndrome: freezing (very painful, loss of range), frozen (not so painful, totally frozen) and thawing. I am still 'freezing' and it has been 6 months.

The pain is unbelievable. At its best, it is like a constant toothache. At its worst, it takes me to my knees and tears are falling almost daily. I cannot lift my arm above 90 degrees to the front or to the side. I cannot reach behind me at all or across the front of my body. Sleep is almost non-existent. I am living on pain killers...my attitude is not so positive. Enter Dr. #3.

Dr. #3 says, "you have an insidious bone spur at your AC joint." I knew about the bone spur but no one else seemed concerned about it. You can see it on the xray. It is pointy and pokes its way down from my collarbone (clavicle). Dr.#3 seems to think this is what caused the initial injury to my shoulder that caused it to freeze. A big bone spur scraping across the muscles and tendons every time I move my shoulder...might cause some issues I guess.

Dr. #3 seems to think that without getting rid of the spur, my shoulder will never thaw. He also thinks that over time I will end up with bigger problems...a complete rotator cuff tear. Oh and he can speed up that thawing process too. Great news don't you think? At what cost I ask.

Well surgery of course. Just take a little nappy, let him scope my arm, grind off the end of my clavicle and acromium, manipulate my arm around (fancy way of saying force my arm to move by ripping the frozen muscle) vacuum out all the crap and viola! I am cured.

So what to do? Three Drs., three opinions, three treatment plans. How do you make a decision? I will tell you how I made it. I made it based on the quality of my life. Right now it sucks! Pain is my constant companion and vicodan is my best friend.

I can't live a year to two years in pain. I can't let a surgeon re-engineer my shoulder. So I will go with the one who makes the most sense. I will solve a potential problem as well as an existing one. The bone spur has to go. I will also take my chances with pushing Mother Nature and allow Dr. #3 to force the shoulder. There are risks (breaking the humerous is one) but I can't take this anymore.

Surgery is scheduled for next Tuesday. There won't be a Thanksgiving with all the trimmings this year...at least not on Thursday. We will celebrate on the following Sunday instead. My son the chef is cooking this year. The food will be wonderful.

So I have hope...hope for change! I hope I can change my clothes without pain by the time my husband has his left shoulder replaced in December. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yea, it's going to be a long long winter!

5 comments:

Epijunky said...

Oh Honey.

Chronic pain really does change everything... I've been there.

You're in my thoughts. Let us know how you're doing.

Courtney said...

I think Dr. #3 is a good choice! A compromise between nothing and something. I hope the surgery goes well.

Tom said...

Sorry to hear of the pain and hope everything goes well.

I enjoy your blog and added you to the reading list of a blog in which I am a co-administrator - ugandawithlove.blogspot.com. It is my daughter's site with journal entries of her study abroad experiences in Uganda, Africa - feel free to link to it as well.

Hope you have a speedy recovery!

Sarah said...

I hope whatever you decide to go with gets results xx

Jean said...

I'll keep you and your husband in my thoughts, even more than usual.

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