Getting on my nerves

There IS something else on my mind right now, I’m sorry to say. It may not be helping out my anxiety about starting my fieldwork. Maybe because I might not be able to start my fieldwork as I had planned.

I haven’t wanted to talk about this because…well, maybe I thought that I needed to ignore it. That if I ignored it, it wasn’t really happening.  Well, not ignored it. Just not really talked about it.

I have been in some discomfort and pain the last few months. In my arm. It started off slow, but then it landed hard and fast in April.  I visited a doc at the clinic at the university. And that was kind of a waste of time.  He said I had ulnar tunnel syndrome (a condition that is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome — but that is the median nerve…different fingers and symptoms).

Anyway, so he sent me off to physical therapy. I started that, but the pain was also moving into my elbow. The PT thought that maybe I had issues with tennis or golfers elbow. I was so tired of not getting any real answers….I called and asked the doc to refer me to the hand/arm specialist/surgeon. I was in pain and frustrated. The doc was kind of an asshole and didn’t call me back for three days.

I didn’t even listen to his entire message to even find out if he would refer me.  He was so rude. I called my regular primary doc who didn’t think it was anything too terrible — maybe golfer’s elbow — but she went ahead and referred me anyway. Took me 2 weeks to get into him. Finally.

By that point, things had gotten worse. The hand surgeon had determined that I have ulnar nerve compression at the elbow. I can’t have my arm in a bent position for more than a few minutes without having tingling in my arm. He says we are going to try and do what we can to work on this WITHOUT surgery.  He says surgery at my age is something they try their best to avoid. 

So he sends me to OT (the irony!), where I’m given a splint to wear at night (I curl up my arms when I sleep and I’m no longer allowed to), and an elbow pad to keep it protected. I stop driving my stick shift car and switch cars with Dan.  I started changing a lot of my positioning and the way I do things. Things start feeling better.

Until they didn’t. I don’t understand why, but things started getting bad again.  And none of my symptoms make sense to me at all. It’s frustrating.

I went back to the doc today for a follow up. I had a bad feeling before I went today. I have felt so bummed about  the pain I’m dealing with. He did the usual exam, the palpation of the ulnar nerve, and tears sprang to my eyes. If you want to know what I’m feeling when he does that? It feels like I hit my “funny bone”. My last two fingers tingle and begin to feel numb and pain radiates from my elbow and sometimes all the way into my wrist. Oh, I hate it….

I talked to him today about my concerns with my internships.  To that, he had no answer at that point.

I have to go through EMG testing next week (a nerve conduction test) to find out if there is damage of any type. The week after, I will see the doctor to find out what the results are. Normal or abnormal results? Will still mean working hard to get better. It may mean putting my arm in a cast for a few weeks to keep my arm in a neutral, nearly straight position long enough to let the nerve heal.  It could eventually mean surgery. I just don’t know right now.

But I’ve had to come to terms today that this could push back my graduation. This ridiculous arm pain. I have worked my ass off to make it all happen — to make sure I got to graduate with my class. I took more classes than I could handle and afford to get here. To graduate with the people I started the program with and have been with this whole time.  I did a lot of crying today.

Then I dried my tears and made the phone call to my fieldwork coordinator. To meet with her. To figure this out.

But I know what is going to happen. This injury, or whatever it is, is not going to heal in under 4 weeks. Because when I get my results from the doctor? I will have only 11 days until my fieldwork is to start. There is no magical cure that will get me to the point that I am ready to move 50+ pounds, to transfer clients who are dead weight, who have had strokes and spinal cord injuries.

I can barely do my hair. I can barely open doors. Take a shower…..without some sort of discomfort.

I almost canceled that doc appointment today.  I had kind of hoped…and prayed…that the doc would just say that I am just fine. Good to go.  I did and didn’t want to hear that something more is up.

I’ve lost so much tone…I haven’t been able to exercise….no weight lifting, not very much yoga, etc. I can take walks, but all of the tone I was starting to develop is gone.  I have been so depressed about not being able to really exercise the way I want to. Even rollerblading is tough to do. Mostly I have a fear now of falling and damaging my elbow in way that I will never recover from.

I keep trying to think of the positives that could come out of this situation:

    • More time to really study for my internships and my board certifications.
    • More time to train for a few races this fall.
    • A chance to relax. I squished a lot of classes into a short time and therefore haven’t had the 2 month break my classmates have had to recoop. That doesn’t sound so bad. Maybe I can take a vacation (Courtney? Long weekend to come see you maybe? :D)

Hopefully I will hear from my fieldwork coordinator tomorrow. I can’t wait to talk this out with her and figure this all out.  Oh, and I DID drink a big ol glass of wine tonight. 2 actually….