Sep 252013

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging much lately. There’s a reason for that. I haven’t made it a secret that for the past couple of years I’ve been battling some pain issues. It’s been almost a year since I had spinal surgery, but that surgery didn’t help. In fact, my pain has continued to worsen. There’ve been a lot of tests, we’ve tried a lot of different medications, and so far nothing has panned out.

It’s also possible that you’ve noticed that over the last couple of weeks, my availability has been spotty at best. That’s because my symptoms have taken an interesting turn, resulting in even more tests and increased difficulty in sitting and working. Last week, I had MRIs done of my brain and neck. These came back perfectly normal. That, of course, is a good thing!

On the other hand, it also means that we still don’t know what’s going on with me. However, we do have a new theory: we now suspect that the problem lies in my shoulder. The trick is that I have been denied insurance coverage for the MRI required to determine if this is the case. I don’t yet know why. My doctor is trying to find out. There are some quirks to how Blue Cross handles insurance for imaging tests that we have to sort through.

On top of everything, I realized the other day that if I don’t move my left arm at all—and I mean at all—the pain subsides to a remarkable degree. that is to say that sometimes, if I keep my left arm entirely still, I have almost no pain at all. Unfortunately, this also makes it really hard to type, especially since it doubles the strain on my right hand, which has carpal tunnel problems. Since I write technical documentation for a living, that of course poses a problem. For the past few days, I have been trying to experiment with speech recognition, but its limitations are frustrating. In particular, technical terminology doesn’t work well. I’ll keep trying to figure out ways to do my work as effectively as possible, however.

I’m going to talk to my doctor tomorrow to see if an x-ray would at least help a little bit in trying to confirm or deny whether we figured out the actual problem. If not, and we’re still unable to get Blue Cross to cough over the money, it’s possible I will pay for the test myself. That won’t be cheap. But after two years of sometimes incredibly agonizing pain, it might just be worth it.

We’ll see what happens.

By the way, if there are any bizarre errors in the text above, it’s because I dictated this entire thing. I kept my eyes open for transcription errors, but let’s face it: voice recognition can still be pretty flaky.

 Posted by at 10:32 PM

  3 Responses to “Life, pain, and not knowing…”

  1. Sheppy, I hope you’ll be able to soon identify the root cause for your issues and I’m looking forward enjoying once again all your updates at full speed! Wishing you all the best!

  2. I hope the figure it out and the insurance covers it!

    For what it is worth, I had a similar experience almost a decade ago. Every so often, I would have pretty severe chest pains followed by numbness in my left arm. Of course, being young, I was very concerned about heart health with those symptoms. Doctors could not find any problems.

    In about 2004, I had a job working at McDonalds. I had one episode of pain which was strong enough to make me curl forward and knock my shoulder against the milkshake machine. Instantly, the pain subsided.

    Ah ha!

    The next chance I could, I went to the doctor who confirmed my shoulder was messed up. Took some more x-rays (this time pointed at the shoulder). The technician immediately knew something was wrong. Met the orthopedic surgeon, after he received the actual x-rays, and said my shoulder was subluxed. I could either: take surgery, with months of recovery, and regain 2% of my shoulder; or, I could go to physiotherapy, play with therabands for a few months to build muscle, and metaphorically duct tape the joint in place. (Did I mention I am Canadian?)

    I obviously took the latter.

    Almost a decade later and it has not been a problem since. I am thankful although it was frustrating how long I lived with discomfort just to find out I needed a few specific exercises.

    Hopefully, despite all of the problems, you have come to the solution!

    Best wishes!

  3. Scott — It’s increasingly clear the problem is in my shoulder, but until I can get the needed imaging done, there’s not much to do about it. We’re going to try again in a few weeks, see if we can get it approved by Blue Cross then.

    For now, medication trickery is continuing.