May 10, 2016
So things have been funky in my body for a little while now, and after trying everything I could on my own, I finally decided that it might be time to go for medical experts to piece together what the hell is going on. What’s been going on, you might ask. Well, this could take a minute, or two…or twenty. You might want to go get a snack – maybe make some popcorn. Ooooo, or even better, NACHOS! Get yourself some soda, maybe some iced coffee or a bottle of water. Go ahead, really! I’ll wait.Okay. Everybody back now? Good, good…just keep that crunching to a minimum, will ya?
About six months ago – November 2015 – I developed a knot on my shoulder blade that hurt like hell, and was obviously NOT due to sleeping on it wrong, because it just didn’t budge. I had a massage. Then another. And another….until I had had about five or so. From two different instructors at the massage school. Neither could figure out why the main knot wasn’t moving, wasn’t loosening, wasn’t easing up on the pain; and by now they had discovered that there were several knots on both sides, both shoulder blades. I tried BioFreeze. I tried Tiger Balm. I tried Tiger Balm patches. I tried two other brands of pain patches, and wore them almost all the time for a while. I tried a heating pad – yeah, try sleeping on a heating pad when you are ALSO dealing with hot flashes from chemo-induced menopause. I tried lying on a tennis ball (some pressure point thing that I read about for loosening up stubborn muscle knots in the shoulder). THAT was brilliantly painful, and didn’t loosen the knot. I tried ibuprofen, naproxen, two different muscle relaxers, hydrocodone, tramadol, oxycodone – some did very little to nothing, some helped the pain for a few hours, but all of them only masked it for a while without changing the muscular problem at all. I finally went to my PCP to see what he can do, begging him to help me. He did an exam and decided to do a trigger point injection of lidocaine into the worst knot, in an attempt to make it relax. The result? A big fat plate of NOTHING. He recommended that I see a pain doctor. So I made several attempts the following week to get an appointment, at several different pain doc clinics, to no avail. It was crazy – NONE of them would call me back!
Then one weekend we were at a friend’s house, and she (a massage therapist) was working on my knot when she told me that she thought that I have what is called Frozen Shoulder. I had never heard of it, but when I did some research I learned that it can happen after mastectomy. But to properly diagnose and treat frozen shoulder, one must visit an orthopedic doctor. Just picture a dog, at this point, running in a circle and chasing its tail. That dog would be me. I got in with an ortho doc, who determined that it was indeed NOT frozen shoulder; and told me that I should go see a pain management doctor. <head explosion here> Oh sure ortho doc. Let me get right on that, especially when I can’t get a person to answer the phone at any of them, much less get an appointment with one. So they said they could help me get the appointment, and they were going to attempt a trigger point injection on the outside of my shoulder, directly into the bursa with not just lidocaine, but also some pain meds and a steroid. The result? Another big fat plate of NOTHING.
But by the following week, I had an appointment with a pain medicine doctor, but very little hope that anything would come of it. He did x-rays, examination, and some tests for strength, reflex, and agility. His diagnosis was Myofascial Pain Syndrome, and said that it was likely connected to the nerve pain that I was having across my chest, and that both the breast pain AND the back pain/knots were connected to all of the surgeries and incisions I have had in the past three years. Finally, some hope! He told me that he was going to give me several shots into the knots in my back, and that he wanted me to come back at the end of the month; if the shots helped, we could repeat them. And then, the doctor said, we will talk about me going to one of the other docs in the practice for Botox injections in my back – they paralyze the muscle and would force the muscles/knots to relax. YES! DO IT! He ended up doing four shots into my knots of something stronger than lidocaine, along with pain meds and a steroid. Within an hour I had a good amount of relief, and as the day went on I could move around significantly better than I had in months. This relief lasted three days before the pain in the knots started to return, but it wasn’t anywhere near the pain levels that it had been before the shots. So that’s where we are on THAT.
To be continued….