What stress can do.

Here’s an update on my housing situation.  My family is against me leaving the agency that can no longer help  support me in my apartment, instead of finding an agency that would continue helping me in my current or slightly bigger and appealing apartment.    I grudgingly agreed to move into a house with another person who is in the same boat I find myself.

in July a possible  House came on the radar .  Both my future housemate and I were summoned to take a look at the house. It was rather a pointless trip.  We did not have a key to the house.  All we were able to do was peer inside through the windows, and that can be hard to do for a couple of people in wheelchairs.  My sister who drove me to the house was able to stand me up so I could peer inside. However, that did not give me a good feel for the house. My gut feeling was that the house was way too small.  It had a huge backyard, though.  We could have had great backyard parties!

A little after the possible house scare, my back started prickling.  I had my personal assistants check my back numerous of times. The best they could come with was that I had some sort of rash. The pain persisted.  Finally it dawned on me at the very same time one of my personal assistants said, “You know you could have Shingles.”

Shingles are brought on by stress.  Huh, the very idea of a life changing event brought on my second bought of Shingles.  Awesome, not!  Luckily it stayed localized to my back, and was a very mild case.  However, I stayed home and away from the mass crowd for a few weeks, because while I could not pass Shingles along,  I could pass the Chickenpox to someone.  I had cabin fever something fierce!

My doctor wrote me a prescription for acyclovir,  an antiviral medication.   It kept the Shingles from spreading across  my body. When I went to pick up the prescription, I was startled to learn I was supposed to take five doses a day.  i have a gag reflex a mile long, and taking 5 doses a day for ten days seemed like climbing Mt.  Everest!   I specifically asked the pharmacist how solvent the pills were.   He assured me I would be able to swallow the pill before it would dissolve  in my mouth. I believed him.

I waited until the next morning to start the medication preferring not to get up twice to take the dreaded pills.   The second the pill hit my mouth, it started melting, quickly turning into a frothy goo that I could neither swallow or spit out very effectively. The First image that ran through my mind was climbing on top of the pharmacy counter and strangling the pharmacist. I am not typically a violent person, but I strongly felt he deserved some sort of punishment!

I still had 49 pills I need to gag down. As luck would have it, just that week I discovered a Crystal Lite drink mix I actually liked, pomegranate. I had my personal assistants dissolve the pills into the drink, and slugged it down as fast as I could.   Totally ruined the only Crystal Lite beverage I will ever drink for life, but I accomplished what I had to.

I suppose it would do my heart good if I went back to the the pharmacist, and explained my experience with the acyclovir.  perhaps it would save someone undue discomfort.

The Long, Long Healing Process

So, I came home from ER wearing no splint or any subscriptions for my pain. Not that I ever want to take painkillers. I could be in unbearable pain, and refuse to take an aspirin.

I have a couple of  aversions to taking any type of medicine:

1.  I am afraid of taking any medicine that might be harmful to my body.

And 2.  I have a terrible gag reflex that makes it difficult to swallow medicine.  So much so that quite often it is simply easier to live with the pain.

The spastic side of my CP was kicking into overdrive.  Having no bandage on my finger meant I had to stabilize my left hand, so that I wouldn’t keep banging my finger on things.  My only means of stabilizing my left hand was by using my right hand. I would grab a hold of my left thumb, and let my fingers rest on top of  the back of my right hand. When that position began to ache, I would let go of my thumb and grab my two little fingers, and again rest my fingers on the back of my right hand.  When that hold got tiresome, I would press my left hand flat on my chest, and hold it there with my right hand. Eventually, that position became unbearable, and I would start that whole sequence of positions all over again.

My left arm and hand were behaving like two completely foreign body parts.   Before my unfortunate accident with the keyguard, if I was concentrating on my work  or simply reading, I would find my left arm and hand curled up near my armpit.  I would easily bat it down with my right hand and place  my left hand between my thighs until it relaxed, only then could I go back to what I was doing. However, after the accident, my arm and hand are impossible to relax.   There was just no way to relax the arm;, no matter what tactic i used.

By the end of day three or four,  I relented, and started taking one Ibuprofen at a time. By day six,  I was taking two at a time,  and was enjoying the sweet feel of relief when the ibuprofen kicked in. It was never enough to deaden the pain, but at least I was a little more calmer.

I lost massive amounts of sleep.  I just could not relax no matter what I tried.   Usually if I have trouble sleeping I will physically get out of bed and wander around a bit, or sit on the edge of the bed helps relive some pent up energy, and not even that helped. What I really needed to do was  to stretch out my left arm.  If I succeeded in getting the arm nicely straightened, it folded back  up on itself again once I laid down.  It was very maddening! Most nights I had to  tell myself not  to leave the edge of the bed, because I was so tired I just knew  I would fallen and further injured myself.

It was the hardest thing for me to grasp that in  order to heal, I need to do nothing but relax.  The only way I can fully relax is by watching TV.  So, I watch shows that made me laugh like, 30 Rock, Raising  Hope,  My Name Is Earl, and any show that took my mind off the pain.  Thank goodness I had just purchased a Roku player which allows me to stream Netflix and recent shows on Hulu.  Without that distraction, I don’t know what I would have done, after all laughter is the best medicine!

You Should Consider Who May Be Listening When You Open Your Mouth

I am going to take a brief intermission from my finger issues to share an incident I can not got out of my head.

This past weekend the Portland area was plagued with 90 plus degree weather. Heat and I do not get along, so I made plans to go somewhere with air conditioning.  My place of choice was Barns and  Noble in the mall. I figured we could find somewhere to cop-a-squat and read for a few hours. Turns out, lots of people had that same idea, for there was not many seats available, not that I needed one (I have a seat wherever I go), but I wanted my PA to have somewhere to sit.  It felt like we were in the parking lot  circling around hoping a car to abandon a space.

Finally, we found a table in the cafe.  Which begs me to ask the following question.  If you sit in a cafe, are you obligated to buy a drink or something to eat?  anyway we were not sitting at the table too long before a couple came along and sat at the table next to us. It was obviously a first date, because they were asking questions you  ask when you’re getting to know someone. I was all aglow thinking I could be witnessing a budding relationship?

I caught myself eavesdropping, I figured if by chance I’m unexpectedly asked on a date, I could take some notes from this couple.  However, I didn’t envision what happened next. The man was saying, “I’m in very good shape  for someone in mid-sixties. I would rather  be dead then be stuck in a wheelchair!”  Then he thought better of his comment, and started exaggeratedly looking about him to see if he had offended anyone. I was looking straight at him, and he looked EVERYWHERE but at me.  I felt totally invisible.

He had to have seen me there. I am hardy the kind of person who blends into my surroundings! I understand that everybody has the right to think and feel about things. I’m sure if the man had acknowledged my presence, and said “I’m sorry for my comment.”  I would have came away from the occurrence  with a different attitude.

I’m still trying to guess why he would ignore me. Do you think he was trying to get even for my eavesdropping?

In hindsight, I wish I had dramatically  flung my arm over my forehead and exclaimed, “Oh Lord, please take my soul now, because my life is not worth living from a wheelchair!”  Then collapsed in my wheelchair. Do you think he would have got the jist of my soliloquy?

The Trip to ER

The day after I messed up my finger, I had to be encouraged by my sister to get it checked out by my doctor. She had a good point; I had to know if I broke my finger .or not. My doctor’s office could not fit me in until the next week.. They said i should go to Urgent Care.

I had my PA call Urgent Care, to verify that they took my insurance, they did.  Next my PA asked if we could borrow a van from Community Inclusion.  Since it was both the end of the day, and my PA said I had Hurt my finger and needed to have it checked out,  we got the van.  We got to Urgent Care.  Gave them my insurance  info, and was just settling in to fill  out the  paperwork.  We were stopped  about 30 seconds later.   Turns out Urgent Care could not help me because,   I am covered by two insurances.   They said I should go to ER.   As I was exiting the building I exclaimed that it was B S! For once, I hoped they understood my sediments,  because I was in pain, and all I wanted was to be helped!

Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at ER.  I was checked in, ushered into the intake room to the right of the the reception desk, where they got a better idea of what my problem was, and took my vitals.  I dislike having my blood pressure taken.  My CP kicks  into overdrive and makes it sometimes hard to get a clear reading .  Well, my body was exceptionally tweaked out on this day, and before the nurse was satisfied with a reading, my arm must have been squeezed at least five times.   I thought my arm was going to pop  before the ordeal was over.  I was relieved when the cuff finally came off, and I was released  to the waiting room.

Thirty to forty minutes later, I was ushered into an exam room, where I waited another twenty or thirty minutes. At long last, the ER doctor came waltzing in. Of course, he took one look at my finger and said he wanted three x-rays taken. I groaned. a flashback into childhood, and being taped down to the x-ray table to help me stay still set me farther on edge.  As tensed as my left arm and hand were, getting decent e-rays would be a pain in the rear!

I wished my sister was with me. She’s the only person that knows how to get me to relax. What’s more, she knows how to get my wrist to relax. The x-ray experience would have been a snap if she were there.

Twenty  or thirty  minutes later, the x-ray technician came to escort me to his domain. After my communication device was removed from my power chair, and a lead apron was added to my attire;  the x-ray dude tried to place my left hand on the  exposure table. My hand was curled up in my wrist, and when my finger hit the table a jolt of pain shot through it.

He told me to extend my wrist. My PA explained that would not be possible.  it was like he didn’t hear or understood her, for he kept on asking me to extend my wrist. It reminded me of the times when my dad told me repeatedly to relax.  I would swear each time he said relax his eyes grew larger as if he could will my body into submission, which irritated me to no end!

Finally I felt like I had to show the dude that I understood him. I extended my right wrist. His eyes grew large with hope, and he asked me if that was the hand that my injured finger was on. I said no in as flat of a tone as I could muster. However, I am sure my eyes were flashing fire.  (I have been told on occasion that my eyes can shoot off a number of evil looks. I guess it’s a family trait I am blessed with).

Funny, x-ray dude became creative after that.   He found a foam wedge to rest my hand on.  As my PA was stabilizing my arm with just a touch of her hand, and while I was taking deep breaths, x-ray was happily doing his job.  unfortunately, he could not get a clear image of the tip of my finger,     which at times hurts more then the knuckle. X-ray dude walked us back to the exam room.

Another Nurse came in and took my vitals, again.  I wanted to say, “Yep, I am still alive, can’t we just leave it at that!   Twenty  minutes later,  the doctor was back before me.  He said the finger was not broken.  I had just sprang it badly.  He was not going to  splint it up, because he thought my body fight against it.  I thought he just didn’t want to go through the hassle of casting my hand. I think if my sister had been there, she could have argued the point, and won. I have no idea how my hand would have taken to the cast, but I would like to think that it would have relaxed given time.

I ask you, did I go through all that hassle for nothing? At least, I know my finger is not broken, and I am giving you all a good glimpse of what a person with a disability goes through to get health care.  I think there is a burning question here.  Like,  how much training does the medical community as a whole have in caring for people who have disabilities?