Monday, October 31, 2011

One Arm Bandit - One Day to Go

Last Friday I went through the day with one working arm and one kinda-working arm. I drove with one arm, I carried the groceries with one arm, I cooked with one arm, and I supported the other arm when typing. C'mon - let's get our priorities straight.

My arm burned, screamed, and was grating. That is a horrific sound that I don't wish on anyone. And for the past week or so, whilst I've been two armed - my shoulder hasn't gotten much better. So on the eve of my surgery it seems appropriate that I am reflecting on the use of one arm, because as of tomorrow at about noon, when all is said and done and the last stitch is in, I will be a one-armed bandit. In a sling.  In a drug-induced stupor. In the hospital. Lovely.

I was joking with my dad today while I was putting my jacket on. I was saying that tomorrow there will be many things that I can't do. As I pulled my right arm through my jacket - I screamed. And smiled. As to illustrate my point further. We laughed, but man oh man, that one hit a little too close to home.

So I've scrubbed every inch of my shoulder and about 6-8 inches in every direction from there on out with this horrid antimicrobial soap. Actually, calling it "soap" is being kind. It had a scrub brush on one side and foam pad on the other. With no clear direction, I scrubbed with both sides. My poor shoulder. And I have to repeat tomorrow morning. Between this and the vats of iodine that they will slather on my "shoulder area" (read: neck to elbow to breast bone and all places in between), my skin is going to be a wreck. I guess that's the least of my concerns.

I have mixed feelings. I want the pain relief that I know surgery will bring, but I don't want the 4-6 months of compromised mobility, rehab, pain and frustration.

The song that I've been thinking about lately is Beautiful Day by U2. It doesn't really make sense, except that the outpouring of love, concern and friendship leading up to my surgery has been wonderful. The rest is really going to suck, but I've made some wonderful friends over the past year, held onto my old ones and can feel the love. That makes it a beautiful day, no matter what.

Monday, October 17, 2011

T-Minus 14 Days

My iPad says 14 days to go. Really it's 13 days and about 1 hour. But who's counting.

I am constantly aware of the clock, the date and what I need to do. I am rushing at work, trying to tie up all the loose ends. I am busy at home, but not really scratching the surface of what I really need to do. I'm exhausted. I'm stressed. My blood pressure at my pre-op appointment was 157/91. Yikes. Normally that is much lower.

I know what to expect. I know about the pain. I know about the nerve block tube in my neck. I know about the night sweats. I know about the messy hair and "discussions" with my husband about my ponytail. I know about the scar. I know about the pain. I know about the "what happened" questions of concern from those who care and those who are nosy. I know about the pain. It doesn't mean that I like any part of this one bit.

Somehow all this knowledge is not offering any comfort. Somehow, this time doesn't seem to be any easier than last time. Somehow, facing another shoulder surgery, I am still scared. I can plan all I want, I can think I am prepared. But I am not. I am just as afraid as last time.

I have been brushing off comments of concern from family, colleagues and the kids with reassuring them that I will be provided with world-class narcotics and that will solve all of my surgery pain. But sometimes, there is pain that you can't take medication for. I am having my shoulder resurfaced. I can't have a Total Shoulder Replacement as I have too much joint damage. This sucks. This really, really sucks.

I have always loved the music of U2. At various stages of my life, their music has offered different meanings. I was listening to a broadcast of the Clinton Foundation concert, and I heard another version of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". To me, today, this song resonates of me searching for the comfort I thought I might find in repeating a surgery. But I still haven't found what I'm looking for.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'll take and IV and a 10 Blade

Given my medical history, I'm not all that squeamish. I've had dozens of joint injections, a total shoulder replacement, monthly bloodwork for years on end, two babies and a knee scope. For the most part, I've been there and had that done for everything RA and baby related.

So why, when I was watching Grey's Anatomy last Thursday, was I squeamish when Meredith asked for a "10 blade" and was cutting someone open? A "10 blade", according to Wikipedia, is for "cutting skin and muscle in surgery". Well, I should just stop reading right there. Internet research, as everyone knows, is not always in your best interest. Like the time I was looking for more information on Shoulder Replacement Surgery and came across a video. I should have just stopped watching, but it's like a train wreck.

I'm going for an IV infusion tomorrow of my Actemra. I'm very excited about my new IL-6 blocker Biologic. As with most companies that sell Biologics, there were some helpful staff at Roche available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm to help with my questions. For $24,000 a year in treatment costs, they are quite willing to work with my benefits company to get it paid for.

While I'm writing in a fairly cavalier manner, in truth I am nervous - anxious - jittery about all this. I am going to sit in a treatment centre with an IV in my hand for 60 minutes while fancy expensive drugs run through my body. I calculated that the drug costs $33.33 per minute. Silly calculations are the things you do when you are jittery. Drinking scotch is the other. Check and check.

I can see myself moving into pre-surgery behaviour. I am making plans so my schedule is full. I am checking and re-checking details for no apparent reason, and I have 27 days to go before someone asks for a 10 blade to use on me. I have an app set up on the iPod to countdown the days. There's an app for everything.

Not to put too fine a point on what's happening in 27 days, but I am having major surgery. For the 4th time in my life. I'm 36. Right. Where's that Scotch?

A colleague and I were talking music and concerts we've been to, and REM came up. I love REM. I went to see REM in Ottawa in 2005. Their song  "Everybody Hurts" has applied to everyone reading this, at some juncture in their life - so I'll hold on and make it through this.