It's been months. Again. And it's been a tough couple of months for me. I've been avoiding the keyboard, thinking that once there is a crack in the dam, it's just going to all come out. One giant rush of pain and emotion. So here's my best effort to say what I need to say and keep the dam intact. I feel like I have to start somewhere...
On the plus side, I've been running and biking. Feel strong, great - sporty, even. The downside is my right shoulder has become incrementally increasingly painful, sore, swollen and less usable.
The tipping point for me was washing my hair. One day, I couldn't manage to raise my right arm high enough to wash my hair. This is the same arm that I had a partial shoulder replacement done about 20 months prior. And I found myself crying in pain and frustration in the shower in the middle of June. Sobbing, really. It's funny how joint mobility is a slippery slope down, until one day you realize "Wait a second, I used to be able to do that". And now you just can't because it simply hurts too much.
Back to the surgeon I went in late June, and I took my 8 year old son this time. I'm slowing trying to introduce him the medical side of my life at an easy, "it's no big deal", introductory rate. It was also an insurance policy - I was less likely to break down at what was likely to be some pretty crappy news if Patrick was with me.
We met the surgeon, went for x-rays, bloodwork and met the surgeon again. X-rays showed bad news - the glenoid (socket part of my shoulder) has further eroded and thinned since last x-rays.
Taking a step back - I only had a partial shoulder replacement in November 2011 because there wasn't enough bone there to attach a plastic piece to make a "total" shoulder replacement to my socket (glenoid). So, to find out that the bone is thinner only two years later is really, really bad.
There is also an outside chance of infection which would case all this pain as well, hence the bloodwork and a date with radiology to aspirate cells from my shoulder. The plan being rule out infection, and then we can look at what's left.
I've had dozens of joint injections in various locations over my 22 years with RA. They are slightly uncomfortable, but they offer the benefit of lovely steroids going directly into your joint helping with pain and inflammation. I've never actually had cells pulled out of my joint before, but I assumed the process was somewhat similar.
Oh. Dear. Was I ever wrong. Possibly the most painful medical procedure that I've been awake for to date. And I've had two c-sections. Two large needles, into which six smaller needles were inserted reaching to my shoulder to get cell samples. Stay still. Don't move. Don't scream. And pray that the local anesthetic works well enough. Those are 20 minutes of my life I'm happy to never re-live. It was absolutely horrific. And the best I could do was cry silently and apologize to the radiologist. Apologize, why? I don't know. I'm Canadian. I generally apologize for things that are not my fault.
And cue family vacation the day after this procedure. I didn't feel too bad directly after, but the following couple of days I just fell apart. My shoulder screamed in pain and I didn't bring any good meds (read: narcotics) with me to help. I took the max doses of Tylenol and Ibuprofen, but it wasn't enough to control the pain. Finally, we were in a larger town and I bought Tylenol 1's from the pharmacy, which seemed to help. I'm now a registered narcotics user in the province of Prince Edward Island. Super.
It's been a long time since I've been in this much pain. I'm accustomed to stiffness, swelling, being sore - but actual acute pain? It's not something I'm used to. And narcotics? I've been a prolific anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory drug user for the past 22 years. And codeine? That scares me. I'm not used to narcotics and I'm not comfortable with them.
I just can't believe I may have to have another surgery. It hasn't even been two years since the last one. How am I not done with all of this yet? I've done my time, clearly.
I've been listening to a lot of new music this summer and attending outdoor concerts. I've seen Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Imagine Dragons, Tegan & Sara, Jimmy Eat World (twice!), Dixie Chicks, Wheezer (best show) and The Black Keys. It's been a great summer - musically. Right now, Imagine Dragon's "Demons" is speaking to me the strongest. I have demons from the past coming back to haunt me. More surgery. More pain. More of the same. When does it end?