Friday, February 08, 2013


I woke up yesterday morning in considerable pain.  My right arm was in agony from my neck to my fingertips.  No rashes, no shortness of breath, so I dismissed my immediate concerns about shingles or heart attack at the same time that I was rapidly calling my sister to ask her for a remote diagnosis.  She told me to go to urgent care immediately.  I was in such discomfort I obeyed right away—didn’t wash my face or brush my teeth or hair (it would have been difficult anyway because of the arm pain), just pulled on some sweats, got in the car, and drove myself to the doctor.  I have never been so grateful for having had a sprained ankle—if I hadn’t gone to the urgent care for xrays five months ago, they wouldn’t have had my information in hand, and I was aching so badly (and my thumb and first two fingers had gone numb) by the time I got there that I could barely sign the authorization forms, much less would have been able to complete detailed paperwork.

I’m usually not a wuss when it comes to pain, but this hurt almost as badly as the Birthday Migraine of 2006, and they ended up giving me a shot of painkiller in the bum after an EKG cleared me officially of heart attack concerns.  The sweet, tiny, hijab-wearing doctor on call diagnosed me with the “classic” symptoms of a compressed radial nerve, most likely caused by a bulging disc, and referred me for an MRI at Virginia Hospital Center.  It’s scheduled for Valentine’s evening.  In the meantime, I have a prescription for steroids, and ten doses of Vicodin (generic), of which I’ve only taken one—it didn’t seem to work any better yesterday afternoon than conventional meds, so I fell back on ibuprofen for last night and today.
I’m not supposed to pick up anything remotely heavy, or lean over (the symptoms obviously get worse when I do, even a little) so work is on hold for the short term.  My fingers are still numb, which makes typing a challenge, and other creative pursuits—with which I’d otherwise be filling up my hours—out of the question.  You don’t realize how profoundly right-handed you are until your right arm flakes out on you.
Today, until around 7 PM, I didn’t have too much pain, but my nerves were jumping around under my skin all day like they were practicing the tarantella.  I was one of the guests of honor at the Georgetown History Honor Society’s 65th chapter anniversary banquet this evening, and I debated canceling, but figured I had to eat anyway.  Wwen I got there I really started to hurt again.  1000mg of acetaminophen got me through the otherwise pleasant evening (although they had me and a couple of other people get up and say a few words, and I’d had no forewarning that I was going to be put on the spot—managed to muddle through, though!). 
Friends have been very kind about offering me places to stay, but I don’t want to leave my house again, nor have to pack necessities for staying elsewhere in my reduced functionality state.  I am out of milk, and down to my last four rolls of toilet paper, but I think I can hold out until Tuesday, at least.  I hope that my finger feeling comes back soon—it makes me feel very clumsy.

The one amusing thing that happened when I got to the urgent care center was when they called me back to the examining room and I got up to go and suddenly the vision in my left eye was blurry.  “Great,” I thought.  “I’m having some sort of stroke.”  I reached up to my eyes and discovered that my left glasses lens had popped out.  As my sister says, there’s nothing more perversely cheering than realizing you are starring in your own personal farce.  I later found the lens and managed to resecure it in the frames, using my (functional) pinkie nail as a screwdriver.

No comments: