Monday, May 31, 2010

In which Jo gets a disturbing differential.

My arm is fucked up. Seriously, majorly fucked up.

I woke up yesterday morning with the kind of muscle cramp in my left shoulder and back that made me actually wander around the house yelling and whimpering until the hot water bottle water boiled. It was miserable. I spent most of the day changing position every five minutes, trying to get comfy.

It was better today, so I trotted off to work. A buddy of mine rubbed the hell out of that shoulder and shoulder blade when I arrived, and it felt still better.

Then, at about 0930, my left arm stopped working. I still have grip and fine motor, but I couldn't raise it, quite suddenly, more than chest-high. And the pain came back.

So, handing off my soon-to-be-discharged patient to another nurse, I trotted off to the local doc-in-a-box, where they keep an outstanding nurse practitioner. He poked and prodded and rotated my arm, and kept asking if things hurt. "Dude," I replied, "everything hurts. I'm just one big ball of hurt."

The differential is this: either I have the mother of all muscle spasms, bad enough to affect the nerves running across my shoulder blade and down my arm, or I have a cervical spine nerve injury.

I'm full of steroids, both fast-acting and long-acting injectable, and muscle relaxants and antiinflammatories. I refused narcotics, on the grounds that they make me stupid and itchy, and I already feel like a retarded orangutan. I have orders not to bend, stretch, twist, lift, squat, or turn my head sharply for a minimum of five days. If I'm not better in three days, it's off to the spine surgeon I go (hi ho, hi ho) for an evaluation of my C5 disc.

There are a number of points arguing for muscle injury and against nerve injury, thank God, and only one cardinal for the nerve alone: the fact that I can't raise my arm without shrugging my shoulder up near my ear. *How* I would've injured a nerve in my neck so acutely is also in question, as the symptoms of C-spine nerve damage don't usually come on overnight.

Still, it's scary. And frustrating. I can't take out my own trash, or lift my own groceries, or do any sort of scrubbing or vacuuming or compost-pile turning or lawn-mowing.

Anybody who wants to come scoop the cat boxes is welcome. You can run the recycling out to the curb while you're at it. And peel me a grape, willya? I have a feeling this is going to be a long three days.

16 comments:

Gemfit said...

I feel your pain - quite literally! My back spasmed yesterday and breathing/moving/thinking hurts like hell. And all I did was reach for the frigging FORK. That shows me - cooking is BAD BAD BAD.

I hope the meds and resting help and it's not nerve damage!

A NURSE said...

I have had the same problem with my shoulder...that's why I am a "Call Nurse" now... :( Hopefully yours is temporary. And I swear by the cortisone injections.

Anyway...here is a suggestion, get yourself a catbox like this and you won't have to scoop poop. That would be one less thing.

http://www.catgenie.com/

-Don't laugh! We have one and it works great... :)

me said...

Youch!!! Take good care of yourself!!!

A NURSE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
'Drea said...

I hope that your arm is feeling better soon and, if I were in your area, I would definitely do your chores...

woolywoman said...

oh crap. Hope it is spasm and not nerve.

Guess you could get your boss to let you write/gather protocols for the new unit if you can't lift?

Crazed Mom said...

I am sorry. Back injuries or neck, suck wide. Once you have one you begin to understand why people get addicted to pain killers. Tho like you I'd rather not take narcotics as they also make me itchy and often do not cover the pain as well as an NSAID.

Rest and RICE in your future. I hope it magically gets better by tomorrow!

Penny said...

Holy shit!!!!!! I'm praying on this end, honey. Well and truly. I do not like this! At all!

messymimi said...

Wish I could be there to peel you a grape, and otherwise help out a bit.

I know you aren't much for some religion, but since I figure prayer can't hurt, I'll yell at G-d a bit on your behalf.

AtYourCervix said...

Can you train the dogs to scoop the kitty litter, take out the trash and peel your grapes? ::grin::

Seriously - hope you find answers and healing soon!

RehabNurse said...

Jo:

My absolute nightmare. I'm hoping it's not cervical spine or nerve, either (we went through a spate of lamis--on staff--on our unit recently).

Workload is so crazy one person had to transfer, since even with the lami he/she had problems.

Crossing fingers, and calling out the cavalry...

Sean said...

Been in your situation. Not fun. Not fun at all. My problem lasted for a couple years (yes - very scary).
I luckily have made a full recovery without any long lasting effects and no surgery!
Best of luck Jo

bdaiss said...

Oy vey! That's not good. Here's hoping it's just muscle! (Can you blame Attila? *smirk*)

Reading this gave me the twitches though. Had a good friend who had a similar issue - suddenly couldn't lift his arm higher than his waist. Gradually lost fine motor as well. Turns out it was ALS...So fingers crossed yours truly is just muscles.

bdaiss said...

Oh, and I'm with A NURSE - get one of those auto-scooper cat boxes. Or a hubby who does it for you. : )

Here's a cuppa tea and a peppermint infused warm rice heating pad to speed you on your recovery.

christineq said...

Talk of surgery now seems way too soon! Have you had an MRI yet? NO? How's your posture? How's your pillows? It's very possible that physical therapy will be in your future, leading to daily neck stretching exercises. Pain management might be, too. Surgery is probably closer to the last choice, not the second. If you got the epidural steroid injection, it takes on average 4-5 days to work and then it's like magic. Hold on.

ThirdDegreeNurse said...

Yikes! Pain management, please. Get better soon.