On the last day of school before I was to begin my summer holiday I went to the park with my kids. I was literally sitting on a park bench reading a book about a new type of computer I had just bought – a Pi-topCEED which is powered by a micro computer called a Raspberry Pi 3 – exciting stuff for a tech nerd like myself.
All of a sudden I felt a stabbing sort of pain in the back of my left shoulder. I reached over with my right hand and massaged the lump that had popped up in the back of my shoulder.
It was like a muscle knot that just appeared out of nowhere. So I massaged it trying to ease the discomfort that had just popped into my shoulder. I then stood up and did some arm movement exercises to try to loosen up my arm which was tightening up.
Nothing seemed to ease the discomfort.
When my girls were ready to go home, we got in the car and drove home. By that time my left arm was aching pretty much right down to the elbow. I complained a little bit about my sore arm to my wife and then told her I was going upstairs to go to bed to rest.
About an hour later, my wife came upstairs and said; “this is ridiculous. A sore her left arm is an indicator of a heart attack. You need to go to the hospital.”
So I drove myself down to our local hospital emergency ward.
The emergency room response was pretty impressive. Within a few minutes of being in the ER and explaining that I had a sore left arm, I was laying on a stretcher and they were performing an ECG on me. Although my blood pressure was very elevated, there was a little other evidence to show that I was actually having a heart attack. That was a bit of a relief.
But then the question was; what was causing my left arm to be so incredibly sore? The ER doctor had x-rays taken of my shoulder. The x-rays showed that there was a significant calcium deposit on the top of my arm bone under my rotator cuff. That gave the doc an easy explanation.
Doctor gave me a prescription for Tylenol 3s and advised me that I was likely to be going to be experiencing lots of pain over the next while and to eat lots of fibre because the T3s will cause constipation.
And then just as I was about to leave the hospital the same thing happened to my right arm. Pain and the numbness just went cruising down my right arm until, just like my left arm, there was virtually no feeling in it.
The doctor explained that was probably because I was compensating by using my right arm to do everything that I would normally do with my left arm. And then he encouraged me to go home. So I went home.
And so began my journey into an exploration of pain.
I was pretty sure that the pain would go away on its own. However just to be sure, I booked an appointment to see my family doctor on the following Monday.
By late Friday afternoon it became obvious the pain was not going to go away on its own. Both of my shoulders were leaking in a way that I had never experienced before.
Knowing a chiropractor who works late on Fridays, I phoned up and asked if I could come in and have a consultation. They made time to have a look at my shoulders.
Their diagnosis was that it was quite likely that I had a pinched nerve in my left shoulder blade. Or in the area of my back around the top of my spine where the ribs join the spine.
The chiropractor did a couple of adjustments to my neck and my ribs which gave me very temporary relief. By the time I got downstairs to my car the pain was just as bad as it had been when I was going into the office.
Saturday morning the pain was what I would call excruciating. So I called up an acupuncture/acupressure practitioner that we know. “Sure come on in. Let’s have a look at this.”
Acupuncture acupressure person says it is likely that I have tendinitis in both my shoulders. So we proceed with acupuncture and cupping on my shoulders.
Saturday afternoon and into the evening the pain begins to increase. Overnight the pain is almost unbearable. There is no way for me to sit or lie down that is even remotely comfortable. Every four hours I’m taking T3s. The pain is like a life force of its own.
Somehow or another I make it through to Monday and I go to see my family doctor. He prescribes me a couple medications that help with nerve pain. Unfortunately those medications also make it difficult for me to walk or talk or do much of anything. He also introduces me to the idea of mindfulness and and he encourages me to get outside and stretch my arms and breathe deeply and try to enjoy life as much as I can.
I do that. I take his advice. I go outside with my kids we go for walks in the forest and I stretch my arms gently and I move them and I begin to feel a little bit better.
The problem is in the night. At approximately 10 PM my arms and my shoulders and my back begin to ache in a way that I cannot begin to describe. The pain has a way of making me question everything in my life. The pain is insidious and so incredibly powerful.
One day during the week I go back to see the chiropractor again. She can see that I’m clearly in agony. She sends me over to another clinic where they do x-rays of my neck and shoulders from every different angle. After analyzing the x-rays she says that there is pretty clear evidence that there is what I would call, in layman’s terms, a pinched nerve in my shoulder.
She opens a discussion with me about trigger point therapy or prolotherapy. I leave her office with the intention to look into and consider these new types of therapy.
Somehow or another I make it through the week to Friday. I am unable to sleep for more than 45 minutes to an hour at a time. My nights are spent wondering around the house racked with pain. My body is in agony. I am exhausted.
Friday morning I called my doctors office again. I told the receptionist that I cannot continue with this kind of pain. I need to see the doctor as soon as possible.
Something I said triggered a reaction from her and she told me to immediately go back to the local emergency ward. I do.
Once again I’m treated with respect and dignity by all the emergency room staff. When I do get in to see the doctor he asked me lots of questions about the pain and what I’ve been doing to manage the pain. He tells me that the reality is I’m relatively new on this path of pain and there is no quick and easy solution to deal with it.
He prescribes a very strong anti-inflammatory medication. Another medication.
Last night I took the nerve pain medications and the anti-inflammatory medications all before going to bed. Wow, what a trip that was.
I did manage to sleep a little bit better.
I am scheduled to see my family doctor on Monday. I’m interested to see what more he has to say about my journey through pain. I will also ask him his opinion of the prolotherapy.
Until then I will continue to move as best I can. I will continue to focus on the positives in my life. I will continue to enjoy my life. And I will continue to stay present in my life. I just hope the pain gives me at least a little bit of a break this weekend.