Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Pain in the Neck

This morning I woke up and the mildly annoying tickle had grown to a fullfledged cough, and I have no voice. I can be heard if I speak loud and low. But it's easier to whisper. Only....the boys don't really let me do that.
So I try to talk to them, and end up hacking up my lungs.
All I've wanted to do all day is curl up in bed. Finally Naptime rolled around today, and Sam asked me to sleep with him. If he asks, I almost always will lay down with him because a. it's going to get more rare that he asks, and he's so snuggly sweet when he's asleep, and b. because his mattress on the floor is amazingly comfortable. He's got this nice and soft Toy Story 3 comforter and it's so nice, an that room is the only one with curtains, and (once Sam stops talking and kicking me) it gets all quiet and warm, and his gentle breathing kicks in and.....see? I'm getting sleepy all over again.
Today during naptime Sam and I just exchanged coughs. I think Sam is coming down with the same cooties. When he woke up his full cry crackled a little bit at the high notes. And when I woke up my neck hurt.
I always get scared when I have a cold and my neck hurts. I know it's silly. AT least in my head it's silly. They said Lightning doesn't strike twice, but sometimes, sometimes it does.

Though that reminds me I don't think I ever wrote about the neck problems that began almost a decade ago that created part of the hot mess you see before you today.

Picture it, back in the early winter of 2002, I was working at Cargill, in the corn mill. My job was to take corn samples from the 5-10 pound 'sample' bags they sent up to the lab from every corn truck that came in. I would grind it down in a coffee grinder and set up the sample tray for PCR. That was one part of my job, the other was that I ran the RVA, a viscosity test, for any product that was getting sent out. There were many of those a day. And the PCR trays needed like 50 to finish a tray, so I'd let the piles of bags build up outside my office, and take a day or two a week knocking those out. There was a week that winter where I'd been out sick, had a cold. When I came back I did a day's work of incoming samples. The next few days felt like I'd pulled a muscle in my neck, you know that crick in the neck. Finally that went away, and I felt I could do another sample day. The next morning I woke up and I couldn't lift my right arm more than 90 degrees straight in front of me.
They thought it was a lift injury. To sum up months of testing, multiple MRIs, xrays, and lots of very painful therapy, it wasn't. They finally sent me to a Physiatrist at IU and he listened to my story and wanted to do a test where they stick a needle into the muscle to test the contraction. It was painful. By that time, my muscle had atrophied, and there was no cushion, he popped right through it, but he could easily find the nerve. And what he diagnosed me with was a neuropathy on my Cranial XI nerve. Meaning for some freak reason, that nerve had died. It was only firing at about 5% functionality. He told me not to lift anything more than 2 pounds. Not even a gallon of milk. And no more PT. For 6 weeks. I tell you what. The man was a genius, within days of stopping the PT, the pain was gone. I couldn't do much, it was really weak, but the pain was gone. He told me it would take months for it to come back. If it came back.
Fast forward months and lots of therapy, I got up to about 25% of my nerve function back and about 20 pounds to be able to lift my niece again.
Another year later I got a rather nasty cold, and woke up one morning and my left elbow and hand were weak. I didn't have the same immediate loss of function but just instant weakness. This perplexed everyone again. I went back to Dr. B. the miracle worker, and he did another emg. He said it was another neuropathy, but it wasn't workers comp so he couldn't see me anymore. I was working at the health department and was sent into a different group of doctors and therapists, and got some of my lifting back. Actually my left is my stronger arm. But really I can't lift more than about 20 pounds in each arm. Luckily God has blessed me with dainty children. I went to a neurologist who diagnosed me with Brachial Plexus Neuritis. It's also known as Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, PTS. He said it's like lightning striking. It was a freak thing that it attacked in both shoulders but I should be done.

Whew. Right? No.

A few days after Chris was born I started experiencing shoulder pain in my right shoulder, that same time we were all camped out at Riley. I was on very good drugs from my c-section. By the time we got home I was running out of my very good drugs. And I found I wasn't taking them for c-section pain. I was taking them for the pain in my shoulder. Yup. I was afraid it was happening again. The doctors told me I was crazy. It doesn't happen twice. It certainly doesn't happen three times. Yes, apparently it does. The MRI revealed it had happened again.
By the way, if you are nursing a newborn and they order an MRI with contrast, it's going to mean that you have to pump and dump, so be prepared. I wasn't.
But I did have a great physical therapist in Brownsburg that time, and she and the whole staff loved that I brought baby Chris in his bucket to every appointment. I was Blessed with a great team of helpers during that time, Chris had his own issues, to add my own to it was really tough. I don't think we both really came up for air until he was a good 6 months old. The neurologist told me that PTS gets set off on occasion by the immune system, that a cold, or c-section can send my immune system into overdrive. He said, it is usually a lightning strike once thing, so I'm not telling you not to have another c-section. But then again, I would've said it wouldn't happen again after the first time. Blessedly nothing happened after my c-section when Sam was born.
But every time I wake up with a crick in my neck, I always worry. And that is worry.
Though I've now spent most of the evening writing this story, and the crick isn't so bad, so maybe I'm just catastrophizing, and I'm really fine. I've been known to get a little crazy when I'm sick. My mom tells a great story about how I got strep and a fever of like 102, and insisted on going to school because I had a test. I remember crying because she wouldn't let me. Yeah, stupid crazy. So maybe I'm just on the verge of that.


Yasher said...

Yikes! You need to buy more lottery tickets, I think. Hoping the 'pain in the neck' is just a simple crick! Fingers crossed!

Oh, and now I want a snuggly nap!

Cathy Willman said...

I went to my Chiropractor on Friday, and he worked out the kink. So far the arms are functioning fine, just still have the snots.

Elizabeth said...

Glad to hear that the arms are doing fine! Dr. B is actually who trained Doug. Doug still works with his wife, who's also a physiatrist. And I always got the initials for EMG messed up, so now I think "Elizabeth Mottley, Goddess" everytime. :)