Right Shoulder Pain FINALLY Diagnosed!!!

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At last I know what’s wrong with my shoulder and what I should do about it! I’ve had acute, sharp, and sore pain in my right shoulder since April 2014 without any inciting injury. Insurance screw-ups stalled my ability to get in to see an orthopedic surgeon but finally I did. After getting my MRI done (which my doctor wouldn’t order for some reason unless I saw the ortho doc first…), I now know that a bone spur is poking into my rotator cuff tendon causing tendinitis (or is it tendinosis?) and bursitis, which further causes problems by narrowing the space between muscle and bone that the tendon has to go through.

The orthopedist recommends surgery. He says it’ll be a quick and easy surgery with a couple of incisions where he’ll clean out inflamed tissue and remove the bone spur. He even said I’d be able to drive with that arm the next day or so, though I will have to do a little physical therapy. Nonetheless, I am a bit alarmed because I have NEVER had surgery (I don’t really count my wisdom teeth removal) nor broken any bones or had any kind of major injury. Chronic pain has been my thing for years but now I’m faced with tangible problems and fixes. It’s weird and I’m not sure how I’m reacting to the whole thing. Glad I got diagnosed though and that a real and known problem was found.

I’ve also made progress on my knee problem. I’ve started physical therapy and am doing home exercises to strengthen the muscles on the left side of my knee so that my knee cap moves over the center rather than the right side, where it puts more pressure on the cartilage and bone. It’s only been 2 weeks, but already I feel a difference in knee pain so I’m grateful for that.

The really scary thing is, I might (and probably already am, judging by how it feels) develop the same problem in my left shoulder. Not to mention I think I might have the same issue in my left knee as in my right knee. I just keep on breaking down. Just like a well-used car, I fix one problem, and another issue springs up! Eventually you would give up on the car, but we chronic pain sufferers DO NOT have that option.

In the words of Commander Peter Quincy Taggert in Galaxy Quest:  “Never give up. Never surrender.” And I do not intend to ever stop fighting the pain and its effect on my life! I will persevere and continue working towards better management of my illness and improved quality of life.

 

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Forced Hiatus

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I have been forced to go on hiatus (or hibernation, really) for the past couple of weeks because of a flare-up of fatigue. It’s times like these when I wonder whether or not I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, whether instead of FMS or along with it. I often consider this muscle-withering, spirit-sapping, energy-eradicating, and brain-muffling fatigue to be much worse and more difficult to deal with than the pain. At least with the pain, I have a chance to work through it or maybe only experience a flare in one body part. But with fatigue, my whole body is encased in and weighed down by exhaustion. And depression and lowered self-worth soon follow. They say that misery loves company. Well, so does fatigue! I finally broke down last night and cried a bit. But my husband was there and comforted me and reassured me how much he appreciates and values me and everything I do for him/us. Nonetheless, I still feel fairly useless…

But, I know better than to become mired down in such negative feelings because not only do they not make the situation any better but also emotional stress leads to increased pain and fatigue, which I DEFINITELY do not want to happen. So, my husband and I have resolved to have a frank and proactive discussion about adjustments we can make to make weekdays easier for the both of us. And hopefully, my appointment with the rheumatologist, which should be set up soon, will give me some options for treating my fatigue.

I also have trouble with this particular symptom because when it’s this bad, I can barely get out of bed to manage my basic needs. The cycle of negative thoughts and self-image is perpetuated by this lack of self-care and further feeds the depression and fatigue and inactivity.

How can I fix this or help myself do better during these times? Well, I have noticed recently that sometimes when I’m fatigued but still attempt to do something I need to get done, I don’t feel much more tired afterwards as I always expect to. Part of what prevents me from getting out of bed is the fear that activity will only make me feel more tired and worsen my muscle aches and soreness. But in such instances as the one mentioned before, I know this not to be true, at least most of the time. So, I’m determined to train myself not to have that negative mentality and to make myself accomplish one good, useful thing a day. And when my “fatigue-self” protests, I can tell it that I have all the rest of the day, hours, to “recuperate” from the activity and so it shouldn’t complain!!

Plus, accomplishing one activity usually spurs an emotional boost, which can give one the motivation to get something else done. But as long as you only focus on one thing at a time, you aren’t overwhelmed and bogged down by the stress and pressure of all the myriad chores, errands, and activities that you need to do.

I think that the first step to overcoming fatigue that you can do on your own, is re-train your thinking and stop negative thoughts in their tracks. Give yourself credit for even the littlest things you have been able to accomplish and focus on one thing at a time. Doing this helps me to not feel so overwhelmed and I’ve just gotten away from it lately. Also, do things that help take your mind off of your inactivity–read an exciting book, watch an uplifting show or movie, do a hobby (like crocheting) that does not require the use of your entire body–and help keep you encouraged and positive. Prayer and spiritual reflection comfort and strengthen me while reading dramatic sci-fi novels, watching British mystery shows, and crocheting help to distract me. What successful steps have you taken to stem the effects of fatigue?