Physical pain is a part of life – everyone experiences it at some point. For people with chronic health conditions that include pain, physical pain is a “normal” part of our daily lives. Thinking back on my life, there isn’t a single day in my memory where I wasn’t in some form of physical pain. I have a genetic connective tissue disorder (G-HSD: generalized hypermobility spectrum disorder), and have had symptoms of it my entire life. Pain and I are old friends, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do whatever I can (within reason) to shove pain out the door for even a few minutes.
It’s been just over four weeks since my elbow surgery. The surgery will hopefully correct pain and numbness that I’ve had in my right arm for over two years due to cubital tunnel syndrome. You can learn more details about why I had the surgery here, and read the immediate post-op update here.
As Dan had said, the surgery went well. I made sure to request they not use Versed during anesthesia (we learned I reacted poorly to it after my SI joint injections), and waking up was a lot easier without it! I was nowhere near as nauseous as I have been after every other surgery. They still gave me IV Zofran right after I woke up though – I was a tad nauseous and nerve pain can always make that worse. I was dealing with pain (and somehow able to give it a number while barely conscious), and they gave me several (3) doses of IV fentanyl before releasing me. (I just looked at Dan’s post-op update, and they also gave me a Dilaudid apparently.) Below is a slideshow of pictures from my surgery day!
Hey everyone, Lizz here! I had surgery on my elbow yesterday (March 27th), and knew I would likely be incapacitated for a while. However, I know a bunch of you wanted to know what was going on as soon as possible – especially since we weren’t sure which surgery I would receive. To easily update everyone, I am having Dan write this post (I’m writing this blurb in advance)! I will write my own update as soon as I am able. There may be a few non-updates that come out in the meantime, as I have a few drafts that Dan just has to hit “publish” on. Be sure to keep an eye on my Instagram, as I’m more likely to be able to update that before I can update here.
Without further ado, here’s Dan’s update:
Post-Surgery Update – Dan’s Perspective
As Lizz indicated in her intro, yesterday was her surgery day. Since her arm pain began, over two years ago, it’s been quite a journey trying to figure out the cause. There was definitely a little tension built up from having to deal with that and the looming surgery so I’m happy it’s finally done. Here’s how it went.
For the past two years, I have had rather severe nerve pain in my right arm. I haven’t talked about it a whole lot because we had no idea why it was happening or what we could do about it, so I just tried my best to keep going despite it. The past six months, however, the pain has gotten to a point where I just cannot ignore it any longer.
I am right hand dominate, so not using my right arm just isn’t an option for me. These past six months, I have had to give up writing anything by hand past a few sentences, change how I use my phone, modify my typing, and change a lot of my habits with how I move around during the day.
My neck pain and headaches have been getting worse lately, and I noticed that they are significantly worse when I am upright for longer periods of time. I also started getting headaches that are either (or possibly both) occipital neuralgia or trigeminal neuralgia. After some research, I discovered that sometimes these symptoms can be due to craniocervical instability (CCI) which is common in people with connective tissue disorders. To see if CCI is causing any problems, they use an upright MRI.
I talked to my neurologist about it, and he agreed an upright MRI could show us something that my supine (flat on my back) MRI had not. He found a place nearby that did them, and filled out the orders for me.
Image of my upright MRI. This view is as if you were staring at my left ear (you can see my chin pointing towards the left of this image).
I’m currently working on a different post that will be a little more fun, but it’s taking quite some time. I’ve been having an extremely rough start to this year, and it’s showing in literally everything I try to do. I’ve even started to appear sick, which is worrisome because normally I don’t look sick or tired (except facial expressions) on a regular basis – but now there are dark circles forming under my eyes, and my eyelids are always a little too pink and puffy.
It’s easiest to post on Instagram regularly, since I don’t need a computer and computers can cause me migraines. I would recommend following me on Instagram to get updates the fastest: findinglifessilversun on Instagram.
I hope you were all able to find some joy in this holiday season in whatever circumstances you found yourself in – I know the holidays can be very difficult for some people.
Personally, I extremely overdid it and my body crashed hard on Christmas day. Thankfully, our Christmas day is very relaxed and so I kept from overdoing it even more. Unfortunately, on the 26th, I woke up in extreme pain because I had managed to dislocate my L5 vertebra and my sacrum (again). My vertebrae dislocate rotationally, meaning they rotate like they’re supposed to, but get stuck rotated and won’t go back into place properly without manual manipulation. I was at a “chronic illness ten” meaning that I would have gone to the ER had I not known exactly what it was and instead just kept doing what little I could to keep my brain distracted. Experiencing “chronic illness ten” pain is frustrating, because unless someone knows you extremely well they have no idea how badly you are truly suffering.
I’m sure you’ve experienced overexertion at some point, and it was unpleasant. It’s possible even without a chronic illness. Children are particularly susceptible because they don’t know how to pace themselves and that’s why you will see them passed out cold in random places and positions because there bodies are like “nope, we’re stopping now!”
Even though my body has been cooperating recently, and I’ve been able to do a lot more, I haven’t been “healthy.” I’m still experiencing pain, taking a slightly slower period of time to recover than an “average” person, and having to deal with some other aspects of my chronic illnesses. Even though I was able to walk around on Mt Evans and I enjoyed a car trip and short hike with my husband to look at the fall colors in the mountains, I’ve been having some struggles. Continue reading
It’s easy to fall into the trap of only showing the negative aspects of chronic illness. When we’re “healthy” (for us) and feeling well, we tend to go out and live! When we’re sick and feeling awful, that’s when we think “I haven’t written in a while, and this is something interesting to write about.” If we’re just so-so then we’re probably doing something that we deem ‘boring’ and don’t write about it. I try to keep my blog focused on my entire life, not just the chronic illness pieces, but it’s definitely easier to write about the “bad times.”
However, I have been quite lucky lately: my body is cooperating. For the most part, I’ve been able to feel relatively normal in the past few weeks. No, I’m not ‘better’ but I’ve been able to do more than I had been able to do in over a year! My Pilates classes went surprisingly well, my physical therapy was going really well, and I’ve been able to be significantly more active day-to-day! Of course, I’m waiting to accidentally run off a cliff (metaphorically of course), but until then I’m really excited that my body is letting me be ‘normal’ most of the time! Continue reading