Saturday, December 17, 2016

Why hello there, shoulder

Hello, friends! The good news is that my main reason for starting this blog, my journey with my ankle surgeries, has largely come to a resolution at least on the medical side. My flexibility has returned, and I am slowly continuing to build up strength.

On the other hand, I have still been struggling with constant migraines. In late September, however, I was finally able to pinpoint with what I felt was a fair amount of accuracy the cause. Following this summer's excitement with a round of vertigo, I had a follow-up appointment with an ENT specialist.

I went into her office and was blown away by how thorough and holistic this doctor's approach was. Although my ear, nose, and throat checked out fine, she put her hands on my neck and shoulders and said, almost casually, "Say, you've never had any trauma to your left shoulder or neck, have you?" Because you've got a tremendous amount of tension here and that might be what is causing these constant migraines."

Those of you readers who don't know me in real life might not be aware, but I have had chronic pain in my left shoulder since 2008 when I slipped on some ice in my parents' driveway and fell onto my back. It took us nearly 4 years to figure out that when I fell I had detached the muscles along my scapula, and in 2012 I flew down to the Shoulder Center at the Lexington Clinic in Kentucky where I had surgery to reattach those muscles. As far as I am aware, these guys are still the only ones actually doing the procedure.

Here's what it looks like:

This surgery took me from missing a year of grad school and a 6-8/10 on a pain scale to a 2-5/10. It literally gave me my entire life back and made my shoulder something I barely noticed, to the point that when the migraines started up again in January, it wasn't until that ENT doctor mentioned my shoulder that it all clicked into place. 

Of course it is my stupid shoulder. On one hand, thank goodness I'm not adding another weird medical thing to my list of weird medical things. But, I'm really not thrilled that after all this time this stupid thing is still an issue. I made an appointment with my neurologist. When I got in to see (not the neuro, but one of his PA's) I explained what I had discovered to date, then said that I was interested in exploring physical therapy as an option. She said "I'd like to see you back in three months, and let's explore physical therapy then. First, I want you to try taking this additional prescription which is good for tension-type headaches." 

So, I walked out of that office and called my primary care physician, got in to see her PA the next day, and got them to write me a script for physical therapy. Low and behold, my near-daily migraines cut down to weekly.

And, when I got into a minor car accident that gave me whiplash in my left neck and shoulder (of course)? They jumped right back up to daily migraines. 

The good news is I have another appointment with the neurologists the second week of January. I'm going to take all of this information in with me, and if they don't listen, time for a new neurologist. Again. But, all of this is about being your own best advocate. And the best news is that I have an amazing physical therapist who is a dream to work with, and has really been a great part of my care team, through both my ankle and my migraine journey.