Pain & Love: An Update

I love stories.
I love stories and language and poetry and a well-timed curse word.
I adore Audible and listening to books as I drive and complete tasks around the house.
I love making people laugh with perfectly timed witticisms, puns, and come backs.
I tend to think through emails, texts, and other messaging ahead of time because it matters to me how I use language.
I believe–I know–words are powerful and I want to use them well.

Lately? I’m fumbling the ball.

At the end of February, I started physical therapy (PT) as part of the kitchen-sink-approach to care for my “shoulder injury.” It’s an entirely new experience for me although there are aspects that are similar to chiropractic care and massage. We’ve done some dry needling there which I had done at my chiropractor at one point in this pursuit of pain relief. More than anything though, PT is helping me to learn how to articulate what I am feeling in a precise manner.

Thankfully, the physical therapy team seems to be able to translate my choppy, bungled attempts:
There’s a…uh…sort of…tingling, um in my arm. I mean, in in in between my elbow and my wrist…
The worst pain is in my shoulder…well, like, under my should blade…that’s the, uh, hot spot…
–This morning the pain was…it was almost white hot between my neck and shoulder blade…
–My hand…no…my first two fingers and my thumb are numb.

And I am improving.
The numbness is now mostly isolated in my index finger, but if I elevate my arm for more than a brief moment or have my head tilted to the left much at all, my whole arm begins to buzz. It’s not a numbness, per se, but a tingling–a humming, not quite a buzz–that builds up from my hand and can come all the way up through my shoulder. However, if I correct quickly, straightening my neck and bringing my shoulder blades together and down, the humming recedes back down, though, thus far, I’ve not been able to eliminate the numbness in my index finger.

It’s interesting to learn how to talk about one’s own body and these sensations at age 40. Of course, when I was younger I pretty much felt good, so…
I’ve noted more than once that there may be a reason that people have babies in their 20s instead of their 40s–easier to get up and down off the floor; carrying them once they cross that 20 pound mark doesn’t cause injury requiring months of treatment—you know. Reasons. NOTE: I believe 40 is exactly when I was meant to have this glorious tiny human.

The PT is definitely making a difference. I do my assigned exercises at home and I am still on neural pain medication, steroids, and occasional muscle relaxants. The steroids will be done in two days and I am not taking the opioids (though I’ll keep them on hand in case there’s a flare up at some point). The Gapapentin (neural), I am advised to not just stop cold as that causes adverse reaction. My prescription is “600mg three times a day, but you can always take less.” I am grateful for my doctor and her clear communication through this process.
The pain is notably less this week over last. The numbness/humming remains a frustrating issue. But that we’ve been able to really get a handle on the pain through PT means the issues are muscular/neural and I don’t have to start researching back specialists. Praise God. Oof. #notreadyforthatbiz

Physical Therapy was not in the forefront of my mind when this began a month ago as I’ve never had PT before. I’ve never hand this sort of injury before, and the surgeries I’ve had (tonsillectomy, cesarean) didn’t require PT for recovery. I wish it had been recommended earlier in the process. I’m learning a lot. And, bless them, I’m no longer in roll-on-the-floor-sobbing levels of pain.

And now Clancy.
Oh my beautiful, precious Boy.
We have decided not to take Clancer to see the oncologist. He might enjoy taking a drive down to K State, but he would simply hate everything else about the process. The new office, the scary smells, the treatment. So, we are not going to subject him to that.

He had a week’s worth of medication to help with nausea to get him back to eating and drinking. That seems to have helped. He is on a different med now that may shrink back some tumors to give him–to give us more time.
He mostly seems to be doing pretty well. He did vomit once last week. I’m keeping notes.
Matt is taking him down to some farm ground where he can run around a few times a week. Clancy Pants loves smelling all the smells and bounding through the pasture.
He needed help hopping into the truck yesterday but hadn’t the day before. Again…notes.

The best advice I received from the vet was this:
Make a list of five things Clancy likes to do. Going for walks, fetch, etc.
Write them down.
When he can no longer do three of those five things, his quality of life is no longer there.

She assured me they’ll be there to help us through the next phase when it comes.
Clancy’s Top Five List takes the guessing out of the process and we can all strive to live our best life each day because we aren’t vacillating over whether he’s okay: well, he struggled jumping into the truck, but he didn’t struggle jumping into the car. He ate his breakfast…but not his dinner….

Clancy The Wonder Dog is currently snoozing on the futon, snuggled into a quilt and some pillows and chasing the squirrel of his dreams.

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