Thursday, April 16, 2015

Define Insanity...

I've often heard that sometimes you can lose your mind when dealing with a disability or severe injury.  One minute, you're working hard for a living and doing everything you can to balance happiness and sustainability and in the time it takes for your heart to beat, you're lost and everything you've ever known has changed.

Pain can do a number on your head, that's for sure.  You want to be out and about, but you're stuck inside with pain anchoring you down.

I've never been afraid of pain or let it stop me before, that how I knew "this" pain was different.  Remember, I was the kid who cut off his own cast 2 weeks after breaking an arm because it slowed me down from running to the park.  Ironically enough, the same place where I broke my arm.

It hurt to breath, it hurt to move, it hurt to look at something, it hurt to even hurt to think.  All I could do was curl into a ball and wish it away.

As I came to, my defensive instincts just kicked in.  I tried to reach for my side arm, thinking I had been shot.  After all, if felt like it and it happened to another coworker recently.  The problem was, I didn't know where my right arm was until the on-location staff helped me up and I heard 3, very loud pops that hurt like hell.

Somehow, I managed to get back up & make my way back to my partner with around 20-30 pounds of body armor and gear still on my body.

According to my partner, I made the now famous statement, "I'm okay, just got the breathe knocked out of me. Let's move on."

Move on? Yeah, wasn't happening.  I didn't know it, but my right arm & shoulder were completely mangled and out of place.  She saw that and immediately rushed me to the nearest medical facility.

Sound insane yet? That's the easy stuff.  Even in my current condition, being confined to my bed on bad days, not being able to work, let alone live my life the way I want to, even all that, there's a crazier piece to it all.

That's the medical.

Initial Diagnosis:  Inverted shoulder separation, concussion, whiplash symptoms, contusions to ribs, triceps area, hip, upper thigh, right temple, with possibility of broken bones. Unable to tell at this time due to major inflammation.

That was just the "company doctors." They completely missed the spine injury and severely underestimated the amount of damage that was done to my shoulder.

Over the next two years, when I finally had enough and hired a lawyer.  I went in for a second opinion.  Especially when the pain wasn't going away and their doctor actually had the nerve to accuse me of "faking."

After multiple tests, some still going on today, I finally had some answers.  Because my spine injury wasn't treated in time and began healing wrong, my condition was far worse than it should have been.

Lets try this again, my diagnosis:
Concussion, inverted dislocation of shoulder, torn labrum, torn rotator cuff, ruptured bicep tendon, fractured collar bone, fractured humorous, Brachial Plexus injury, Ulnar Nerve injury, Disk Herniations at C5-C6, T1-T2, T6-T7 (full rupture), T7-T8, 2 fractured ribs, Thoracic spine vertebrae 6 & 7 stress fractured, stress fracture right hip.

......which then led to:
Radiculopathy, neuropathy, Regional Pain Disorder (RPD), Fibromayalgia, Possible Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

......was then updated to:
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia (IST), Vasovagal Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA's/mini-strokes),  Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)

That's not even including the 6 major surgeries and soft tissue damage.

According to my specialists, I'm being watched for POTS & ALS.  Little is known about POTS and there are only 3 doctors in the US that can accurately diagnose it.  I have all the signs of it, though, and if it gets worse, I'm going to have to be put on a 6 month waiting list to see a doctor in Ohio.

I have some of the warning signs of ALS, although it is extremely hard to tell due to the amount of acute damage done to my spine.  After having a mass removed, the symptoms lessened and some disappeared.  I actually regained some nerve function and started gaining muscle mass again.  Thankfully, too, because I was able to slowly work my way out of the wheel chair the doctor wanted me in.

Trust me, you didn't want to be in that room when they told me I was going home in a wheel chair.  It got a bit.....loud. I "refused" and was eventually given a walker which I'm supposed to use, but worked my way to a cane.

Nevertheless, I have to go in for frequent testing for ALS, but so far, so good.  But it sometimes sneaks into the back of my mind.  It's a constant worry for me on top of all the other issues I already have.

Lost yet?? Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over & over and expecting the same results.  What happens when you do the same things over & over and get a different result every time?

That's what's really driving me crazy.  It's the fact that I don't have control and don't know how to take control of my life anymore.  Thankfully, I have doctors who are willing to dig to get to the bottom of it all, unlike the previous, company doctors who just wanted me out of their office.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm being studied instead of being treated.  My doctor did tell me that I have one of the rarest spinal cord injuries on record.  Less than 1% of all spine injuries occur in the Thoracic area.  Most injuries are caused to the lumbar or cervical area.  This is because the thoracic spine is protected by the rib cage and is reinforced.

I can handle the cabin fever, depression, changes in lifestyle, stress and everything that comes with a traumatic injury.  It's the damned medical part & not being able to regain control of my life, that I think is insane.  I just wish that there was one answer for my medical condition.

What do you all think is the worst part?      

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