Sunday, April 20th 2008, 2:03 am. That was when it happened. The day my life changed forever.
That’s the day I was injured In the line of duty.
Three and a half years passed after the injury. With my own personal health insurance, and paying the deductible out of my own pocket, I returned to the same orthopedist that originally tried to treat my shoulder, despite the restrictions the company’s insurance put on him.
I was called back into a room. Cursory X-rays were taken. He examined my shoulder a bit, and then recommended surgery. He asked what I wanted to do. Having already spent over a year trying everything from therapy to injections hadn’t worked. The only thing left is to pick up where the irresponsible Liberty Mutual insurance forced us to leave off. Surgery. The only option left for treatment if I wanted to regain the use of my arm.
I looked to my wife and we exchanged a few words. There wasn’t much to say. I nodded in agreement to the doctor. The date was set for a few days away.
The day the surgery was scheduled for came, and we arrived at the hospital bright and early. I was taken back, given an IV, some meds to help relax me, and a nerve block in my shoulder. After a short period of time that seemed to take forever, I was wheeled into the surgical suite. I was transferred to the operating table and strapped down. The mask was put on my face and I was instructed to breathe deeply. A few moments passed…
I awake in the recovery room extremely uncomfortable and with a very sore throat. I hate being intubated. The surgery has gone well. After a time, I’m able to get up and move around enough to go to the head and urinate. I’m released from the hospital to make the long and painful journey home.
A few agonizing days later came the arduous 90 minute trip to the doctor to have my staples removed and shoulder examined. The staples come out, some quite painfully. My shoulder looks battered and broken, but internally things are better than before. A lot of bone and muscle were removed during the procedure. Recovery will be painful and take a considerable amount of time. I have pain medication, but it isn’t strong enough to help much. I start to have trouble sleeping.
I start physical therapy. Things are going well, moving forward at a promising pace. For once, I’m not pushing myself past my limits. I’m being a good patient. I have good days and bad days at therapy. Then, I start having more pain. Muscle burn during therapy is good, pain is bad. This pain became constant. Therapy changed a bit to accommodate.
Then come the muscle spasms. Very intense and agonizing muscle spasms. The pain causes me to start losing consciousness. Several times it even causes my lungs to stop drawing breath. My wife is understandably distressed. I go back to the doctor and he informs me that it is just muscle spasms and prescribes a muscle relaxer to help.
The medicine only partially helps.
I visit my primary care physician. She changes the medicine for the muscle spasms. This medicine works. Unfortunately, it has the side effect of causing me to have uncontrollable mood swings that randomly and unexpected elicit bouts of rage. Not a good thing when you are a stay at home dad caring for a four year old and newborn child.
I stop taking the medicine. It takes a while, but the mood swings finally cease. The muscle spasms return, but not as potent as before. I no longer cease drawing breath or lose consciousness; I’m just in constant pain.
Both doctors recommend I see a pain management specialist. My physical therapist tells me to wait to come back to therapy until after I’ve seen the pain doctor. I get a referral to see the doctor I would like to see. When I call to make the appointment, I learn that she is no longer taking new pain patients. I have to call my primary doctor and get a referral for a different pain doctor.
I get the information and the appointment is made. It is the middle of December. Surgery was in September. This is not looking well. I am worried that I may not get full use of my arm back. As it stands, I have less use of my arm now than I did before surgery.
I get a phone call informing me that my grandfather is not doing well. We drive out to see him, to say goodbye. He passes away before I get to see him. Christmas and the passing of a great man.
In dealing with taking care of my grandmother and assisting her in making the funeral arrangements, I miss my appointment with the pain doctor.
It is now January. I am waiting to hear back from the pain doctor to reschedule my appointment so I can hopefully get a little relief from the constant pain I’m in. Maybe even get a little sleep. I need to get back into therapy. As time is passing, I’m able to use my arm less and less. Certain muscles are starting to atrophy instead of healing. I need to start making forward progress again. I need the use of my arm back.
I want to be able to give my five year old son the shoulder ride he keeps begging for. I want to be able to hold my four month old son without excruciating pain and worrying about dropping him. I want to be able to play with my children. I want to embrace my wife without my arm being on fire. That’s not too much to ask, is it?It’s amazing how one person’s imbecilic decision to get behind the wheel of his truck and attempt to drive while inebriated has affected my life.