Seems So Long
Friday, April 20, 2012
Here's what; I changed jobs at the beginning of October 2011 and it has been a very busy time.
I'm now Director of Communications at the Ministry of the Attorney General in Trinidad and Tobago. I was enjoying my job, working my habitual long hours when the unthinkable happened. I was diagnosed with what doctors are calling ACD (anterior cervical decompression). I am however slowly coming back to what I consider normal.
ACD for those who are unaware is the short explanation for Anterior Cervical Decompression, which is the very fancy term for a 'pain in the neck'. Actually in my case it was literally and physically a pain in the neck.
I awoke on February 4th with a pain in the upper part of my right arm. I thought at first that the pain was a result of 'sleeping badly' on the arm. Diligent me reported for duty every day over the following week and worked my usual ten-twelve hour days, even joking at time that maybe I was playing too many computer games and my fingers needed a break from the computer. Although the pain became more severe I continued working, massaging the arm and hoping that the pain would go away.
By the Saturday morning however, I knew something terrible was taking place within my body. I could not lift the arm to shower and I was in very severe ever worsening pain. I headed for the Port of Spain General hospital as it was the weekend before Carnival and my personal physician was unavailable. I have to say I got excellent treatment at Port of Spain General Hospital, never mind three different doctors gave me three different diagnoses for my pain.
The first gave me an injection that was supposed to bring down my blood pressure,(which was 'normal for them; high for me 130/68) and get rid of the pain. The injection brought my pressure down to normal (110/70) but the pain persisted.
The second doctor diagnosed that I may have arthritis of the neck. By then the pain had become a pain in the neck, but I don't have a medical degree (yet) so once more another injection and this time an X-ray of the neck (just to make sure). After spending another hour in the observation room and with my barkey feeling like a sieve from all the injections; the pain was still there. STEUPS! I was tired, hungry and still in pain and sitting on uncomfortable chairs at the POSGH did not help.
The final doctor I saw that day (by then it was about 5pm and I had been there since about 9:30am) at the POSGH diagnosed my condition as tendonitis of the shoulder. He too sent me for an X-ray of my upper arm and after looking at the x-ray, he prescribed Beserol a muscle relaxant and dismissively sent me home.
Good patient I am I bought the Beserol and as the doctor ordered I took the pills and went to bed fully expecting the pain to go away by morning. No such luck! I took two more pills at breakfast and prayed that by lunch time I would be out of pain. Yep you guessed it nothing doing. By then I decided to take matters into my own hands, went online and looked up Beserol and discovered that the WHO had recommended that the drug be withdrawn. It should not have been prescribed in the first place.
By the Monday morning of Carnival week (the week before Carnival Monday), and the pain still wrenching I called the Minister of Health to let him know about the Beserol. His inquiry about the pain in my arm led to me having an MRI done. Turns out the MRI showed so much that the doctors immediately took me off work to begin treatment.
The most recent diagnosis ACD and the recommendation is for me to have a ACDFP which is Anterior Cervical Decompression Fusion and Plating surgery, to repair the C-5 and C6 disc by implanting plates and hoping that these plates fuse with surgical pins and grafts. The surgery last for about an hour and a half, but the recovery time is 4 to 6 weeks for light duty and up to six months for heavy duties.
When Dr. Ramcharan told me about the surgery I was so happy. I asked him if I can have the surgery on Friday, stay at the hospital over the weekend and return to work on Monday?
I will never forget the smile he gave me when he answered 'I did not say that. The surgery last 1½ hours, the hospital stay is 3-4 days, but the recovery time for you is up to six months. I may have you back out to work in 4-6 weeks.'
So to wrap this up. I am working through the pain. I've been prescribed Celebrex (14 day cycles), Lyrica 300mg (twice daily), Mydocalm 300 mgs (twice daily) and Panadeine F for the pain. At the moment I'm off the Celebrex and I've replaced the Mydocalm with Arcoxia. I'm also having weekly physiotherapy sessions although I've been told physiotherapy really would not help my condition. I've found however, that heat helps ease the pain. It also helps that I don't work 12 and 14 hour days any more and I limit myself to two hours on the computer.
My handwriting is changing (that's a nice way of saying it's getting worse) but I've got myself a copy of Dragon software and I dictate and my computer writes. I've been thinking I should have got Dragon A LONG time ago!
So how has the first four months of the year treated you?