Poppy Payne IS The Sexy Techie!

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Rumors of My Demise Have Been (Somewhat) Exaggerated!

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Hi! It’s now late April and I haven’t updated this page since last August. Truth is, since that time, I have been in and out of hospital with one thing and then another. Very early one morning, I was walking my Akita during a light rain. It was around 4:30 in the morning and I was not all that alert. Something darted across the lawn and all 135 pounds of teeth, fur and muscles took off after it. Unfortunately, I was attached to the other end of the lead. My left arm was wrenched backwards and I felt something pop. I knew right away that it couldn’t be good. Under-fucking-statement of the bloody year.

I go to see my doctor because my shoulder really, really hurts and I can’t move it voluntarily. He checks a few things and refers me ti a specialist who checks a few more things and further refers me to yet another doctors, a specialist’s specialist. He checks a few more things and sends me for an MRI. Off to hospital I go for the test. If you’ve never experienced an MRI, it is somewhat akin to having your head in a metal rubbish bin while someone who doesn’t like you very much bangs on the side of the bin with a bat.

Torn Rotator CuffMRI result? I partially (mostly is a more accurate term) separated three tendons in my shoulder, an injury that is most often referred to as a Torn Rotator Cuff. Ouch. And of course, being 41 years of age and never having had a general anesthesia in my entire life, I get all the ‘concerned looks’. I can almost hear them thinking ‘tsk, tsk’ as they knit their eyebrows together. One of the suggestions was to ‘learn to live with it.’ EXCUSE ME???? Well, due to my advanced age and seeing as how I’ve had a stress test, that was next to determine if my heart is strong enough to survive having me shoulder stitched back up. Since I was sort of off balance with my useless arm just hanging there, they scheduled me for a nuclear stress test where they have you lie on a gurney and inject you with a drug that makes you feel like you’ve just run a bloody marathon. You’re short of breath, panting, sweating and your heart is pounding. Fun.

Naturally, I fail the stress test. Only one parameter, but in a stress test, failing even one is as bad. Cardiologist tells me it is indicating a blockage in one of my arteries. This just keeps on getting better and better. So of I go then, back to hospital for an angiogram. On a Saturday. At 5am. I never knew doctors were allowed to be up that early on a weekend without a golf club in their hand. If you’ve had an angiogram, you’re taken to the operating room where you’re injected with what they refer to as ‘joy juice’. You remain awake, but you don’t give a fuck about anything. At all. Which is a good thing, because the procedure consists of shaving your pubs (at least I saved them that little job… ) and inserting a fiber-optic camera into a blood vessel in your groin and snaking it up through your torso, across, down and stopping at a point where they can see where the artery enters the hearts.

AngiogramThankfully, me arteries were completely clear! Fuck you, stress test!!

We schedule the operation to repair my shoulder. It only took about an hour and then I awoke with my arm in a high-tech sling with straps all over my torso and bolsters and buckles… They told me to keep the sling on, don’t get the incisions wet for a few days and to change the dressings daily. Four weeks later, I have an appointment with the surgeon to see how I’m healing. He checked the range of motion, tells me I don’t have to wear the sling unless I go outdoors and starts me with a physical therapist. While all this was going, somehow Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s crept up on me and slipped past. I start physical therapy the third week of January.

I see the doctor once or twice more and he is not pleased with how long my recovery is taking. It is now mid March and while it has improved, I still don’t have full voluntary control. I can’t bend my arm against gravity. I can’t raise it over my head. No pain, no loss of sensation, but no control. He feels there is another problem going on, most likely nerve damage in my neck. Next stop, my old friends in the Radiology Department at hospital for yet another MRI. I stick me head back in the steel rubbish bin and that git that doesn’t like me very much begand with the bat. Back to the surgeon’s office. You know it’s going to be bad when he comes in and goes to the whiteboard and begins drawing.

GE Signa MRIThey found I have a condition called Cervical Spinal Stenosis in four of my neck vertebrae, C4, C5, C6 and C7, of which C7 is described as ‘severe’ and the others as ‘moderate’. What stenosis means is that the left nerve canal in the vertebrae through which the nerve bundles run in experiencing bone growth in the canal that is not supposed to be happening and is pressing on the nerve bundles, causing them to no longer transmit signals from my brain to the muscles correctly.

Looks like I will need an operation called a laminectomy where using minimal incisions, the surgeon goes in with a fiber optic scope and micro tool or lasers through a half inch long opening and removes layers oof bone to relieve the pressure on the nerve bundle. AS long as the nerves haven’t been permanently damaged, recovery can be in as little as a few days.

Nerve conduction studyBut before THAT can happen, I needed, wait for it… MORE TESTS!!! Off I go to a diagnostic specialist who ran a Nerve Conduction Study that was supposed to determine the ability of the downstream nerves to carry signals by applying electrical stimulation to nerves through the skin, say, at the elbow and measuring the signal at the fingertips. Well, that is what it is supposed to do on people with normal nerves and skin. Uh-uh. Not me. Five times the amperage was applied, me arm was flopping around like a deranged fish and the signal at me fingers made no sense whatsoever. He told me according to those readings, none of the motor control nerves were working even in me good arm and yet, I was moving about just fine.

ElectromyogramNext came the Electromyogram, or EMG test. This consisted of inserting a two inch long double needle with a sensor in the tip to measure the electrical levels in the muscle when you attempt to contract it. Yes I said ‘inserting’. All the way to the center of the muscle. From the base of me skull down to me thumb. Forty two times. Over the course of two hours.

This brings us to today. Tomorrow, the 23rd, I meet with the neurosurgeon who will go over all of the test results and the reports from five different specialists and discuss what the surgery entails, if that indeed is one of the available options. And it damn well better be. But somehow, I have the sneaking suspicion he will read everything, go through the MRI films, turn to me and say “Well, one option is you could learn to live with it.”

Thanks for putting up with me! I’ll post an update tomorrow afternoon as to what the surgeon suggests. Also, in the days to come, I will be re-inventing my blog an re-vitalizing it, something for which I hope you’ll join me.

Love to all, Poppy

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