Random Firings of Neurons

The rest of your life is going to be spent getting back up after life has knocked you down again. You might as well just get used to it.

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Location: Round Rock, Texas, United States

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

On wasting time

Still no news on the surgery front. The surgeon wanted to see the EMG from the neurologist. So, he asked for the EMG on Friday.

It is now Wednesday, and he still doesn't have the results. In the meantime, I've been burning up the phone lines to the surgeon's office, trying to find out what the fuck is going on. (sorry about the profanity, but, I used much more on the phone) On Monday, I called to find out what was going on, and left a message for the scheduler to call me back. (she was on another line) When I got home on Tuesday (two hours after the surgeon's office closed), I still hadn't heard anything. So, I left ANOTHER message, this one a little nastier. I get home today (after leaving work two hours early so I could try and schedule this surgery before their office closed), they STILL hadn't called me back. So, I called them, again.

This time, I was pretty nasty. When the receptionist asked to get my phone number so the scheduler could call me back, I said "No. I'll talk to her NOW. I left a message for her on Monday, about a phone call I was supposed to recieve Monday, and I left a message yesterday. I've had to take off five hours of work, just in the past three days, to wait for someone to call me back, and I'm done letting you call me back. So, I'll wait." She complied.

When I actually talked to the scheduler, at first, she was a little irate with me, until I revealed to her how much MORE irate I was, and for what reasons. It seems the first message she had been given that I had called was 30 seconds before she picked up the phone today....

Anyway, the surgeon is STILL waiting for the EMG, and will hopefully call me back tomorrow with a date for some cuttin'.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Still Not Liking the Doctors...

... especially when they don't quite agree.

It's Beth again... AJ's in a better mood... just not quite up to typing a post.

So... he went to the surgeon today. The surgeon isn't so sure he buys into the whole "it's all in the wrist" idea. He's putting his money on the ulnar nerve in the elbow. He wants to have a look at the EMG test results to double check things, but... since he's the one with the sharp knives... the elbow gets sliced into.

So, he's going to have surgery. When? Well... uh... you are sitting down for this? The doctor wants to do this sometime next week. Yup... next week.

Once he knows a firm date, either he or I will let everyone know. Keep him (and the doctor) in your prayers.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

On Still Hating Doctors...

This is Beth, not AJ... his hand hurts, he's bummed out, and... well... he doesn't feel like writing about this. He got the results of the MRI today. Words like "non-specific" and "minimal abnormality" are not things you want to read, much less write about.

The "Impressions" section is... less than impressive...
1. No evidence of mass effect or signal abnormality in Gehan's canal to suggest compression of the ulnar nerve.
2. Minimal signal abnormality in the proximal aspect of the lunate (wrist bone- B), which is a non-specific finding and is likely degenerative or post traumatic.
If he (and I) are reading that correctly, that means that they know something is wrong (DUH!), but they don't have a clue what it might be. So... the surgeon, instead of being given a pin-point location to place his scalpel, he'll be given "lunate bone". Well, I guess that's better than "somewhere south of his left shoulder".

His appointment with the surgeon is next Thursday. Keep him in your prayers (well, both AJ and the surgeon, now that I think about it). I'm sure he'll keep you updated. Or I will.

Beth

Friday, August 19, 2005

On idle ramblings to kill some time

I thought I'd take some time, and fling up some random thoughts, just to remind myself that I actually DO have a blog, and it actually does NOT take care of itself.

Bow before the shopping god.

I went food shopping last night, and got enough food stuff and makings for food stuff to last me the next month, at least. I spent about $90 doing it, and total elapsed time from the minute I parked my car to the minute I started it back up to leave was 28 minutes.

Of course, I don't have much selection for the next month, but, I have food.

Don't ask me how much more I spent on soda. I'd be embarassed to say.

So, I get home from work today, and change clothes, just to have the illusion of not being covered in dust and garbage. I put on an old work shirt, just because, and had a serious mixed emotions moment.

This shirt used to be...not tight, but....close fitting on me, last year. Now, it looks almost like a tent on me. My first thought was "YAY! I've lost a lot of weight!" My second thought was "Wait, I'm still just about *mumblemumble* lbs....wow. I was a fat pig a year ago." Most people have an involuntary gasp when I tell them how much I weigh. I don't look it.

I really need to figure out how to record my thoughts during the day. While I'm working, I have brilliant insights, life changing revelations, and answers to most of life's questions. When I get home, though...nothing. I'm a dunce. I'd be hard pressed to 'earn' the 600 point on the SAT for signing my name.

I really should have been a football player.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Hooray for more updates!

I had an MRI done yesterday. I haven't received the results, but, the neurologist has.

I was told to make an appointment with the surgeon. So, I did. I guess that means the MRI found something.

More surgery. More debt. Yay for me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

On Public Service Announcements

Fuckheads who order $300 worth of food IN THE DRIVE THROUGH should be killed immediately. If you are going to order enough food to feed a small army, get off your fucking fat ass, and walk into the store and order it inside.

(Insert an hour or so of profanity and suggestions of sexual impropriety involving animals here. My hand hurts. Four little letters for you. Learn them. Love them. Live them. C O P E.)

You have been warned. I will not be nice next time.

Monday, August 15, 2005

More Updates

Some of you, from other sites, might have noticed that I've been a bit more...vocal...on your sites recently. The reason for this is that I think I've actually gotten my wrecked hand strong enough to type for longer than a minute without getting horrible cramps. After about five minutes, though, it's crampin' time again. So, no long posts from me yet.

In other developments, though, I have an MRI scheduled for this coming Wednesday. Hopefully, the MRI will show where the pinch is, so someone can go in there, and unpinch the nerve. Not being able to feel half of my hand is getting quite annoying. I don't even want to try to describe the frustration at not being able to use the darn thing...

I still avoid looking at my hand, though. It's a mere skeleton. And that is only barely an exaggeration. Barely. I can almost see my bones in my hand on my left hand, and on my right, they are covered by some nice, meaty, non-atrophied muscle. Oh, well. Once they fix the problem, then, I'll get to start building up strength again. Won't that be fun?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Updates

I saw the neurologist today.

Have I mentioned how much I hate doctors?

Anyway, the tests he was going to run would normally take 45 minutes, if the problem was easy to find, and 1 1/2 hours and up, if the problem were harder.

Liking to do things the hard way, I found a third option: nerve damage so bad, the neurologist couldn't find the damaged point at all. So, my tests only took 45 minutes to find out that he couldn't find out where the damage was. In addition, the damage is not where he expected it to be. In a ulnar nerve neuropathy, the vast majority of the time, the damage is in the elbow, and rarely, in the neck. I took the third option yet again, and have my damage somewhere in my wrist. No clue where, but, it is probably in my wrist.

I say "probably" because the doctor couldn't find ANY neural signals to localize the damage. I mean, nothing. Even running an electric shock through my arm (that test sucks, by the way...a lot) couldn't get any response from the nerve. Then he stuck a needle in my arm and hand, to listen to the nerve. Nothing. Not. A. Darn. Thing. I think Jello™ has more electrical activity than the nerve that controls my hand. So, with no possibility of running a signal through the nerve, he can not find out where the damage is. But, he made an semi-educated guess that the nerve damage is in my wrist, because the tests seem to indicate that it MIGHT be.

So, I get to go to a upper extremity specialist, who will probably have to cut open my wrist to find out if that is where the damage is. If it isn't, then, he gets to cut open my elbow to check there. After all of THAT cutting, then, I'll be willing to bet I'll get to be cut open, yet again, to actually fix the damage.

All in all, I'm pretty much going to be in debt up to my eyeballs, yet again. I've spent $700 on 4 doctor's visits, to tell me to visit other doctors, and I'm still no closer to being able to use my hand properly. Add in a surgery or two (at $3000 or more a pop), and, frankly, I'm in a lot of debt for a long time. Again.

But, I've dug myself out of debt twice before, and, I'll do it again. I really don't have a choice. I need to use my hand.

On a slightly different note, I should take this time to make a mention of my mental state.

Not once in all of this have I ever asked "Why me, Lord?". Not once. Seriously. I haven't even counter-questioned with "Why not me, Lord?". If He has some plan for me that involves losing the use of my hand, so be it. I'm not going to question Him, and I'm not going to second guess Him. Besides, I'm still not man enough to argue with Him.

I'm a bit bummed, because of the monetary question, and the question "what do I do if I can't use my hand?", but, I'm trying not to dwell on that. After all the various bumps, bruises, injuries, diseases, and damage that I've done to myself over the years, I've kind of learned to not think about the "what ifs" and "what will I do?" too much. I've made it through all of them, and I see no reason why I won't make it through this. So, I'm not going to worry about it. Besides, pain has been such a constant companion to me these past 20 years, I'm almost used to it by now. On a relatively pain-free day, for me, I get out of bed in enough pain to keep many other people in the bed. That's what happens when you are a long distance runner, Marine, and truck driver with flat feet. You get to be in pain. A lot.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A recap for new visitors

I wouldn't normally do this, but, I'll do it, this time, because the Emperor Darth Misha I saw fit to bring (some rather unwanted) attention to my situation. So, for all of you migrating over from the Rott and other destinations, I'll recap what my little situation is.

I moved to Texas on June 3rd, and immediately found a place to live and a job. (within 48 hours of arriving) I interviewed for my job, at a local garbage collection company, on Thursday, and started on Monday.

All was going swimmingly, except for one teeny-tiny little problem.

On the Sunday before I was to start, my little finger on my left hand went numb. Not a little numb, but, dead-to-all-sensation numb. "No biggie" I thought. It will go away. Besides, I'm a big, tough garbage man. (YOU! Stop snickering!) I'll just tough it out.

Well, for the first couple of days on the job, it was uncomforable, but, not unbearable. By Wednesday, though, half of my ring finger was numb, as well, and I had almost no strength remaining in my left hand. "No biggie", I thought. It will go away. Besides, I'm a big, tough garbage man. (stop it....I mean it!)

The next week, my hand was even weaker, and still no feeling in my little finger, and half of my ring finger. I was informed that this probably meant I had a pinched nerve. "No biggie" I thought. It will unpinch, and I'll get the use of my hand back. Besides, I'm a big, tough garbage man. (I'm serious, here...stop giggling!)

After two weeks of this crap, I caved, and went to the doctor. Or, more accurately, a local clinic, where I was attended to by a nurse-practitioner. She told me that these things usually went away by themselves, and to come back in a couple of weeks if it didn't go away on its own. "No biggie" I thought. That's what I was doing anyway. Besides....aw, heck with it. I'm tired of the giggling.

About five weeks later, still no feeling, and I really didn't like looking at my hand, so....I didn't. I went back to the clinic, and the nurse-practitioner told me "Uh...this isn't good. Let's have a doctor look at this." Doc checks me out for...oh....ten seconds? and says "The nerve is damaged. There isn't anything we can do for you. Here are some phone numbers of neurologists. Maybe one of them can help you." So, off I go to the neurologist.

The neurologist looked at my hand, poked around, and said "Yep. You've got a pinched nerve. That's really pinched. Normally, we would expect to see SOME nervous impulses getting through, but, you don't have any. Let's do some tests next week, so the surgeon knows where to cut you." Thanks. I really love surgery. Not.

In addition, the neurologist is of the opinion that the atrophy is WAAAAAAYYYY too far advanced to have been caused by two months of inactivity. You see, there isn't a whole lot of muscle remaining in my left hand. I'm a garbage man, and before that, I delivered doors and windows, and before that, I delivered liquor, and before that, I delivered party goods. I have strong hands. Or, more recently, I have a strong hand on one side, and a sack of bones with a lot of skin hanging off of it on the other side. It's really bad. Really, REALLY bad. Like, I'm worried about how long it is going to take to rebuild the muscle in my bad hand.

Anyway, I get to pay for all these doctor visits and tests and surgery and rehab, all by my lonesome. No insurance, and I pretty much bled my monetary reserves dry with the move. So, I'm going to be going into debt up to my eyeballs...again.

No, I'm not asking for help. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't accept any, even if it was offered. So, keep your checkbooks in your pocket, and do some praying. That will go much farther than any pennies and nickels you send my way.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

On Doctors and Reasons to Hate Them

I have good news, and I have bad news, and I have could-be-good-or-bad news. What do you want to hear first?

Let's go with the bad news first. The neurologist I saw today was surprised at the level of atrophy in my hand- too much to have happened in only two months. So, this might have been going on longer, under the radar, than I had originally thought. As of right now, there are no (zip, zero, nada) nerve impulses getting through to my hand. But, hey... at least it's only pinched and not cut, right?

Could-be-good-or-bad news is that he (or a neurosurgeon that he knows) might be able to fix it if he can locate where the nerve is pinched, and if it wasn't pinched too badly for too long, and if the surgeon can free it without causing more problems. Yes, there are a lot of ifs there, but, at least he didn't tell that there's nothing he can do and have a nice life.

I go back next week so that the good doctor can hook a bunch of electrodes to my arm to try (successfully, we hope) to find out exactly where the pinch is. Then he can tell the surgeon exactly where to slice and dice on my arm.

Ah, yes, the good news. You can read all of the Sherlock Holmes short stories in (almost) one sitting. Okay, it took me about two weeks to read all 3000 pages. The down side to that, however, is that I have discovered a group of people worse than Trekkies. Sherlock Holmes fanatics should be avoided at all costs. You have been warned. Those freaks actually believe Sherlock Holmes was a real person, Dr. John Watson wrote the stories, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle just took the credit. Evidently, there are volumes of books written on where Holmes went to school (Cambridge or Oxford), whether Sherlock was a man or woman, and countless pages devoted to where the events of the stories actually occured.

Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful, to God, Corps and Country