Why Me?

I’m in Los Angeles most of today ….

I’ve been trying to keep a positive outlook since I re-injured my bum arm in mid-November.

I think I ran out of “positive” yesterday, though.

I was really down in the dumps after my morning PT session with Paul Newman.

He’s frustrated because he’s watching my arm disintegrate in front of him.

I see his frustration and absorb it as my own.

I know he’s put a lot of heart and soul into helping me.

I’m allowing myself a one day pity party and then I need to get over it.

If you guys learn nothing else from me, please learn this ….

YOU HAVE TO BE YOUR OWN HEALTHCARE ADVOCATE.

I’ve spent nine and a half years in a nightmare.

A lot of my nightmare could have been avoided if I’d known more about doctors, physical therapy, insurance, and the need to stick up for what I believe.

I’ve made so many mistakes along the way because I didn’t know better.

Will I make more mistakes?

Probably.

But, I’m trying my best to apply what I’ve learned.

My “normal” orthopedic surgeon weighed in on my arm in November.

He didn’t think anything was wrong with my arm other than the usual stuff that is always wrong with my arm.

I cried after I left his office because I was in pain and I knew something “new” was wrong.

Today, I meet with a surgeon up in Los Angeles who specializes in orthopedic arm injuries which are the result of trauma.

It will be my second time meeting with him – I’m taking him my two recent MRIs to look at.

In my first visit with him, he immediately identified a problem my normal doctor had never seen.

A third orthopedic surgeon, a family friend, ordered and read my last two (3T) MRIs.

(Actually, I told him to order the elbow MRI because all the doctors I had seen at that time seemed to think there was nothing wrong with my elbow.  “It hurts because of your shoulder,” was the common thought.  Family Friend Doctor ordered the MRIs I asked for because he believed me when I said “something is wrong and I really need your help.”)

[Family Friend Doctor specializes primarily in leg injuries which is why I’ve never gone to see him.]

It was from the elbow MRI I insisted on, I found out I have a torn tendon in my elbow.

I’m stressed about all of this because:

  1. Having painful injuries is stressful no matter what.  It’s been eight weeks (!!) since I “re-injured” my arm.  Eight weeks with almost zero function and tons of pain.
  2. I leave for New Zealand relatively soon and I want to be able to enjoy myself.
  3. I have to be able to shoot while I’m in New Zealand.
  4. I know there’s a good possibility I will need surgery on both my elbow AND shoulder.  (Surgeries #10 and #11!)  I want to cry just thinking about it.
  5. I don’t want to have surgery before New Zealand.  I can’t imagine having post surgical pain while traveling!
  6. I don’t know if I can handle the current pain if I don’t have surgery until AFTER New Zealand.

In the meantime,

What are my options – and what are the recovery times to go with them?

What’s fixable and what’s not?

In what year will it become possible to remove my arm and give me a prosthetic, bionic, arm?

These are the type of things I’ll be discussing with doctors as I try to plan the next steps for my life.

It never hurts to get a lot of educated opinions.

10 Responses to “Why Me?”

  1. Denise

    I’m so sorry, Suzanne. I have no words to help you feel better but just know I’m thinking of you.

    • Suzanne

      Thank you Denise! Just knowing I have moral support helps!

  2. Jenny

    Yep, listen to your body – you KNOW when something is not right.

    I can relate to your frustration after I had been walking around with an injury in my hip for 4 1/2 years that just would not show up on Xrays or MRI films! I was having docs say – oh, it just must be this or that. I remember laughing like a crazy lady when a hip specialist said – good news… the 3rd MRI I had done was clear!

    I finally found a specialist that said – how about we just do surgery and see if there is something in there that IS wrong… When I woke up in recovery the first thing he said to me when he saw me was -” how in the hell have you even been walking???!!!!…There was so much damage in there!!!” Torn cartilage, chunks of cartilage floating around in my hip socket and my leg bone was starting to smack up into my hip bone due to the way the damage was pulling everything out of line. (something crazy like that) I knew the moment I injured my hip, no one would listen to me and apparently the damage was invisible on film.

    Your options? Frustrating no matter how you look at it. And the pain…I hope to never relive the pain I had – I still can’t imagine all you are dealing with… You still are an inspiration to me everyday to keep going forward when I do get a ramp up of my pain levels. Breathe and hang on! Don’t forget to treat the rest of yourself nicely and try to remember – things will fall into place one way or another… just can’t see what that chapter of your life looks like yet. One of my favorite quotes from my mom – ‘things change…they always do – maybe not how you want or think they will, but that is life…just gotta go with what comes and do your best to get through it.’

    Gentle hugs to you kiddo!

    • Suzanne

      You’re right … one day at a time!
      I’m sorry for all you had to go through with your hip.
      MRIs are a tool … but there’s a lot they don’t show.
      They are, also, only as good as the person reading them.
      The trauma doc laughed when he saw the MRI radiologist didn’t even mention a shredded tendon he could clearly see (and pointed out in detail to me).
      And yes, I do have more than one torn tendon in my arm.
      Sigh!

  3. Missy Stalcup

    We all need a pity party on occasion. If you need surgery to repair the damage is it possible to postpone the trip to New Zealand? I know that would be a disappointment but it will still be there when you are ready to travel. I hope your appointment today gives you more answers.

    • Suzanne

      Unfortunately, New Zealand is paid for … flight, hotels, everything.
      Non-refundable.
      There is no postponing New Zealand.

  4. Beverly

    Oh Suzanne. I am so sorry. The pressure of a demanding trip, no matter how much you desire and look forward to it, may not be the best choice for you right now. I don’t mean to be discouraging but don’t be afraid to back out if you need to. Best of luck with the specialists you are seeing now.

    • Suzanne

      Thank you.
      Backing out of this trip isn’t an option, unfortunately.

  5. Michelle

    Torn tendon in the elbow….sounds familiar. But the advantage hubby had was it was picked up and operated on within four days of it happening.

    The down side – no driving for six weeks after surgery (no insurance if driving and and accident), the blessing of having children at home who could drive him was great. No doing anything AT ALL with that hand/arm for six weeks – he learned how to dress himself left-handed (watching him pull up shorts one-handed was amusing. 🙂 He only had pain where he needed endone two days, but (like you) he also hates taking meds.

    The good news is that twelve weeks out from surgery he is recovering well, physio three times a week, and the physio is taking it slowly and not rushing it. His strength and rotation are coming back, but not at full capacity yet, probably currently 70%. His lifting limit is officially about 3.5kg (7.5lb), but he is able to do more than that, depending on the shape, and size of the object. I’m still not allowed to arm-wrestle with him, mainly because I would win, and also turn the arm on an angle it really can’t go yet. It will take 12-18 months to be back to where it was, but not having surgery would have left him at 60-70% strength, rotation and mobility in his dominant arm.

    I, personally, would recommend the surgery, especially as you want and need the strength and mobility in that arm. It will take a long time to get it back fully (or as fully as possible).

    It’s wise to get as many opinions and answers as possible, especially when you know something is wrong. But ultimately the final decision is yours. As Missy said, New Zealand will still be there.

    And what year did the Six Million Dollar Man come out? Surely bionic arms are closer than ever! 😀

    • Suzanne

      I’m so sorry for your husband’s injury and what he has had to go through.
      It’s never easy to deal with … and surgery and recovery/pt can be brutal.

      My arm has been disabled for over nine years so I’ve had to learn to drive with one hand. And, I dress myself with just my left hand also. I guess it’s an advantage – all the adjustments to only having a non-dominant hand/arm happened for me years ago. (I definitely remember how terribly difficult it was at first!)

      Life has a way of working itself out.
      I imagine this will work out in some way also.

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