The conclusion of the Arm Saga

So much has happened so quickly over the last 3 weeks.  I unfortunately didn’t have time to document it all… So here is the catchup.

The MRI

I went in on the 27th of October for my MRI. I got there 15 min early like the nurse said to, only to find no one there.  I mean an empty building kind of no one there.  Mine was the first appointment, at 7AM, so I guess they didn’t think I would be on time.  I arrived at the building at approximately 640 AM, and it was as if the building was closed.  There were no nurses at the check in desk, there really wasn’t anyone there at all.  Several people came in the front door while we were waiting, and they all gave a strange looks as if to say ” what are you doing here at this awful hour of the morning”. My wife and I dutifully waited and waited and waited, it seems that when you are waiting time drags out.  A minute seems like a 1/2 hour, you can imagine how long 30 minutes seemed. Finally at 710 the person who is administering my MRI comes rushing through the door gives me this quirky smile and says ” you must be my 7:00 appointment”.  How do you answer that, I mean I could say oh no I’m just hanging out here in the waiting room cause that’s what I like to do. However, I didn’t want to irritate the person who was giving me my test.  Thoughts of never coming out of that little hole ran through my mind.  Of course I had some paperwork to fill out, it seems that the medical industry does not share information every time I go to a new place it seems that I fill out the exact same information. You would think they would be able to somehow share this information.  I think it’s a conspiracy and just to make sure that we give them the same information over and over and over. But to get back on track, I filled out their paperwork and was immediately whisked back to the room to get started.  Knowing that an MRI consists of magnetism I had removed all of my metal objects from my person glasses, belt buckle, wallet, etc. I was as ready as I was going to be, the technician ask me all the standard questions including if I was claustrophobic.  Now to the best of my knowledge I am not claustrophobic.  He sat me down on the edge of the bed and started to explain how the MRI was going to be very noisy and that it was going to heat up and I may be uncomfortable during the procedure.  It would only last approximately 1/2 hour and  he asked if I felt that I could last that long.
He laid me down on the bed, raised it up, put some piece of equipment on my shoulder, and started to slide me into a very small tube, as I stated earlier I did not feel that I was claustrophobic however as I started to slide into that tube I swear that the whole world started to contract around me. For a moment, I thought that I would scream.  The tube was becoming much smaller and I was sure that if any moment I was going to be squished.  My saving grace was there was a small chip of paint just above my head.  I was able to use that as a focal point and prevent myself from panicking.  The technician was right it got very noisy and it got very hot.After what seemed like an eternity, I heard a technician say he was done and that in 3 to 5 minutes he would be pulling me out.  Those were the longest 3 to 5 minutes I’ve ever experienced in my life.  I don’t think that they should tell you that, they should just start pulling out. Why tell me you’re going to pull me out and make me wait for it but I had made it through my appointment and my MRI was complete. Now all I had to do was wait for my follow up with the Dr. on the first.

The doctor’s appointment

After the experience of the MRI, the follow doctors’ appointments was rather anti-climactic.  We get there are about 5 minutes early as I do with all appointments, only to wait for another 40 minutes in various waiting rooms for the Dr. to have time to come visit us.  By this time I have a certain amount invested in this Dr. so I can’t get too mad at him considering he’s going to be cutting on me very soon. We went over the MRI, I have to admit that was really cool, with a click of a button you can scroll through various pictures of my body.  If you scroll fast enough it’s as if you are putting me together and taking me apart. He showed me the different parts of my shoulder.  He showed me the calcium deposit.  He showed me what he thought was a small tear in some tendon.  Bottom line was that I needed surgery.  The question became when I’m going to get the surgery sooner or later. I am not the type of person who likes to postpone things, although I’m one of the world’s greatest procrastinators, it seems as if my motto in life has been put off till tomorrow what you don’t have to do today. After we had decided that surgery was necessary, we went out to the nurses’ station to get everything lined up.  She asked me if a certain outpatient surgery center was on my insurance, fore if it was, then we could’ve done it on the 10th.  I did not know if it was are not, she was going to check and get back with me.  If it was not on my insurance that I would’ve had to wait until the 21st. We left the office hoping that we could get this out of the way on the 10th.  That afternoon the nurse called me, and said that no the surgery center was not covered on our insurance and she was scheduling my surgery for the 21st of November.  I have to admit I was a little bummed as I really want to get this taken care of sooner.  Mentally I started making plans of how I was going to live with a pain between now and the 21st. You see by this time my shoulder was really hurting me all the time.  Even if I would rest it; it would still hurt with just a little bit of exercise.  Unbeknownst to me this was because I was babying my shoulder. That evening I let my boss know that I was going to have surgery on the 21st.
The next day, which was Thursday, the doctor’s office calls me and asks me if I would be able to have surgery on Monday the seventh.  At that moment I had a reality check, when my surgery was on the 21st it wasn’t really real yet.  If I said yes, and my surgery was on Monday the seventh, all of a sudden it would be very real.  But I wanted to get it out of the way so I said yes.  They told me to come in the next day Friday for my pre-op appointment.  I then called my wife to let her know what was happening. In a way it was very surreal here I was all set to wait until the 21st and now it was happening in three days.

Cut me, cut me now

The pre-op appointment went well.All that they basically did was to explain what was going to happen on Monday.  They talked about costs and I had to fill out more paperwork.  I really thought that I had seen the pinnacle of paperwork requirements having worked in the educational field.  The medical field puts us to shame, there is more paperwork to fill out for doctors that I’ve ever seen before in my life.
On Friday evening the nurse calls me to give me last minute instructions and verify the time of the surgery.  I know that I wanted to get this out of the way, but seriously who does surgery at 5:30 AM.  Until I realized that they wanted me to check in at 5:30 AM and the surgery was not going to start until 7:30 AM.  I’m sure that those 2 hours would be filled doing paperwork.  I was only half wrong. Annette, my wife was not thrilled at getting up in what she termed ” the middle of the night”, however she wanted very bad for this to be over.  She has seen me suffer for several months now, quite frankly she was tired of it.
The weekend seemed to drag on forever.  We checked, and rechecked plans to ensure that we had covered all of our bases.  I had planned on getting up at 3:30 AM Monday morning so that I had more time to worry about that little things that I just knew was going to go wrong.  Annette was going to sleep in until 4:00 AM or 4:30 AM dependent on how she felt.
Sunday night I crawled into bed at about 8:00 knowing that 3:30 AM came very early in the morning.  As I am sure you can all guess by now I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep.  When my alarm went off at 3:30 AM, I was so hyped up that it didn’t take me long to get out of bed.  I took my medication that they had deemed necessary for me to have, my one high blood pressure pill, and my acid reflux bill.  I then sat down to watch a little TV and take my mind off of the upcoming surgery. To be honest I don’t even remember what I watched.  Annette decided to get up at 4:15 AM, I could tell that she and slept well.  We made some coffee for her, even though I could not have any. We did all the things that we said we’re going to do to go to the hospital.  At 5:15 AM we got in the car and headed out.  The drive to the hospital was very quiet.  Not surprising the smallish town that we live in is very quiet at 5:15 AM.
We arrived at the hospital at 5:30 AM as scheduled.  I know that I like the early, however the lesson of my MRI was still firmly in my mind.  When you have the first appointment of the day it doesn’t really pay you to get there early.  We took the elevator to the second floor where the surgical center is.  We did have to wait about 5 minutes as someone was already is checking in, I was going to use the restroom at that time but when I went in there as a sign on the wall that says they might need to take a urinalysis sample and I need to check with the receptionist prior to actually going. After the receptionist came back from checking the first person in we sat down together and started on paperwork.  Surprisingly there really wasn’t that much.  They put the little identification badge on my wrist, and it was time to head back to the surgery prep area. This was a little room that contained the roll away bed, a bag with my name on it to hold my personal items, the infamous hospital gown, and the other equipment that I could not identify. Not surprisingly it turned out to be a heart monitor machine, you know the one that does your heartbeat, your blood pressure, the oxygen level of your blood, and your temperature.
The receptionist informs me that I need to strip buck naked and put on the little gown that closes in the back.  This one had snaps on both sleeves that would allow you to take the whole thing off in a moment I hadn’t seen one like this before so I thought that it was pretty cool.
Thankfully the hospital was rather warm and the transfer from clothes to gown went rather well.  I did take time to run over to the restroom and take care of my little problem. I didn’t really know what else to do so I lay down on the bed and waited.  In just a few moments a gentleman came into the room by the name of Jeremy.  This guy was a hoot, and he’s not a nurse yet but would like to enter the profession.  I think he had a wonderful bedside manner, for me that is 90% of the job.
One of the things that made me feel at ease and at the same time was a little frustrating was that everyone wanted to know my name and my birth date.  It made me feel at ease because I know that they wanna make sure you are who you say you are and that they are operating on the right person in the right arm or body part as the case may be.  My wife drew a smiley face on my arm along with the surgeons initials. So  Jeremy is a very chatty person, which was very nice as I was getting nervous.  He asked me where I worked and when he found out that I worked at the Applied Technology College he told me to make sure that the college start offering paramedic training.  It seems that he is having a hard time getting into a program that fits his schedule.  Which is true for a lot of students these days.
By this time more and more people are coming in to see me.  The nurse comes in to put in my IV.  She did a very good job although the vein that she used ran along the side of my index finger, which was a weird spot.  The operating room nurse which was a guy came in and introduced himself.  The surgical trainee introduced herself and ask my permission to view the operation, which is fine with me my profession is training people why would I deny someone the opportunity to learn more.
Last but certainly not least the anesthesiologist checked in and started talking to me about the options for my operation.  He informed me that during the operation I would be under a “general” anesthesia, but that I had the option of doing a nerve block prior to being put under.  I ask what the advantages of doing that were and was told that are really helps after the operation is over when you wake up your arm will be completely numb and will stay that way for approximately 18 hours. For those of you who know me, you know that I am a wimp.  I hate Pain.  If I can avoid pain I will, it’s just who I am.  So of course I went with the nerve block.  The Dr. said that he would take me into another room to administer the nerve block.  I said goodbye to the wife and they started wheeling me out and into another room. I have to admit I was getting a little nervous but I knew that I was in good hands.  The Dr. told me that he would get a mild sedative and then do the nerve block.  I must be the lightest weight person in the world when it comes to anesthesia, during other operations when they would ask me to count backwards from 100 I usually made it to 98.  This time was no different I remember him injecting something into my IV, the next thing I know I’m waking up in the recovery room. I am not going to bore you, or gross you out with the details of my recovery room experience.  Let’s just say that I was very groggy and whined a lot.

Getting home

As the anesthesiologist had promised my arm and shoulder was completely numb.  I couldn’t move it, I couldn’t feel it, in fact I started to worry that it was functional at all.  Of course Annette reassured me over and over that this was just part of the anesthesia and it would wear off.  I had to believe her as my only other option was panic. I had this big ol’ bandage on my shoulder, I was very uncomfortable and to top it off I was still a little nauseous. It took about 12 hours for the nerve block to wear off and by then I had found a new definition of pain.  My arm and shoulder hurts so bad I literally thought I was going to pass out.  Thankfully they had given me some 10 mg Lortab I took two and slowly the pain subsided. They had told me that I would need to sleep sitting up, I can understand that, the thought of rolling onto my bad shoulder gave me the willies.  Unfortunately that didn’t work out very well, I ended up sleeping sitting up on the couch.  It was more comfortable than trying to sleep sitting up on the bed. I woke up Tuesday morning in massive pain after only getting about an hour’s sleep.  I sent a text message to my boss letting them know that I would not be in that day.  If I had really planned on going to work right after the surgery, you know me Mr. Macho man. I ended up taking the whole week off my arm turned all kinds of pretty colors as you can see in this picture

Over the week they have gotten even prettier… the yellow has gone vibrant and the green has just turned that vivid shade that makes you think your arm is going to fall off…

Going Back To Work

So tomorrow morning I head off to work.  I am planning on working an entire day.  My wife scoffs at me when I say that as she thinks I will only be able to work half to 3/4 day.

The one thing you should know is that I only typed about two words of this post.  I used the speech recognition program that is included with windows seven to dictate this post.  The commands are relatively easy to learn and are designed for beginner.  Luckily I already owned a very high quality set of headphones that include a microphone. I still had to put the pictures in the post by hand but that did not require much use of the right arm I did most of it using the touch-pad and my left hand.

Advertisements

About Lee Devine

I love life. I am a program facilitator at the Dixie Applied Technology College in St. George Utah. I can't think of anything I want to do more than help people succeed at education.
This entry was posted in Arm story, Doctor visits, My Life, Pain managemet. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The conclusion of the Arm Saga

  1. renxkyoko says:

    Hello, Lee Devine ! I hope you’re feeling so much better now. Rehabilitation will take a while, I guess. By the way, and I think this is important, what brought on that shoulder mishap ? They say prevention is better than cure, right ? My aunt also had this kind of surgery and she said it just happened. She had no idea what she did… she never picked up heavy objects… it just happened.

    Anyway, get well soon ! ! !

    • Lee Devine says:

      Yes, rehabilitation will take some time. I too was very curious as to the cause of my injury. I quizzed my doctor extensively and looked on the internet. I have learned that really it is a cumulative effect from a number of years of “minor” injury. If you lift something a little too heavy and strain your shoulder a little over the years. The cumulative effect is that you will build up scar tissue and calcium deposits that then start doing damage on their own. In my case the calcium deposits got so big that they actually started to disintegrate and do damage to the tendons. The good news is that I am doing so much better. Although I still hurt from my surgery it is a different type of hurt than the original pain was. This feels like bruising where the other felt like grinding stabbing pain. Thank you for your well wishes

  2. Perrie says:

    Hi Lee,
    Seems you have been a bit busy.. not with the best of things. My dad had shoulder surgery and he had to sleep in a chair. It really sucks. Not good for quality sleep. Still, I think that it is pretty cool that you were able to dictate this. I was wondering how you did so much writing with your shoulder like that.
    Well, I hope you make a speedy recovery. Tell Irene I say Hi!
    Perrie~

    • Lee Devine says:

      Hello,
      I have been quite a bit busy. Yes it sucks to sleep in a chair, I am happy to report that I am no sleeping laying down it only took me about a week and 1/2 to get to that point.
      Yes dictating this is very cool at work I have bought a program called Dragon Naturally Speaking. It has way more features and works with a lot more programs. I bought the premium package as it works with Excel, PowerPoint, And Publisher, which are the main programs that I use at work. You can also set up custom commands that work with other programs that are not part of the original program.
      I hope that you’ve had a wonderful thanksgiving. I’ve lurked on NewsTalkers and am very pleased with a direction that the website is taking. You’re doing a fine job growing that site.

  3. You know, I have to tell you, I really enjoy this blog and the insight from everyone who participates. I find it to be refreshing and very informative. I wish there were more blogs like it. Anyway, I felt it was about time I posted, Ive spent most of my time here just lurking and reading, but today for some reason I just felt compelled to say this.

    • Lee Devine says:

      Hello Margaret,
      Thank you ever so much for posting on my blog. I checked out for site, as I was curious, what a wonderful site is. Informative and easy to use. I hope to see you in the future on some of my other posts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s