This Pain

Well.  I have a new symptom to go along with my rapidly degrading left thumb joint.  I can’t open a can of soda, I can’t even hold a jar to twist the lid off and my coffee cup is just too heavy for that hand now.  It’s getting worse by the hour at this point…must hurry on that x-ray.  I have the req, just need to find the time.  I suppose I’ll have to make the time if I hope to be able to do my new job that starts in a week.  :S
The new symptom has been creeping up on me for a few weeks…I’ve been dismissing it, thinking it was due to other circumstances.  Three weeks ago I went to the market to get one of my favourite snacks, raw, fresh coconut.  They cut the skin off and slice it thin…so juicy and delicious as a snack at work.  I’ve been enjoying them for years that way.  This last time, however, I had trouble getting it down.  Every single bite, no matter how long and much I chewed it, got stuck in my throat and I couldn’t clear it without taking a gulp of liquid to wash it down.  I wasn’t choking as I could breathe, but the threat was certainly there.  I’ll need to back up a bit to explain why this didn’t immediately concern me. 
For most of my adult life I’ve had issues with swallowing.  It was a row with my foster father that started the trouble – a good smack that sent me tumbling backwards and I smacked my head off the coffee table, bounced twice too.  It left a huge goose egg on the back of my head near my brain stem and I had to go to hospital for observation for two nights.  After that, swallowing didn’t always work out right.  I would take food and it would go half way down but would seem to stick in a place I couldn’t clear by coughing or swallowing more…hot sauce, for whatever reason, does it almost every time.  The result is a huge choking fit, whooping cough,  unable to catch my breath or stop coughing.  I turn bright red, burst into a heavy panicked sweat and my eyes water endlessly along with my nose as my body tries to clear the danger.  I look for all the world like I’m choking and people always rush to my aid as I try to squeak out that I’m fine…will be fine.  Water doesn’t  help, thumping my back doesn’t help, I just have to wait until it clears.  Every time I swallow it starts again until the tickle is gone. 
After finding out what terrible shape my cervical spine is in I found a ton of research online (at work, I can access the medical libraries so I don’t have to depend on random info) that pointed to my neck as being the issue.  Of course, I pulled up my MRI scan images (that I bought from health records when I pulled my records last year) and could instantly, clearly see a little ledge in my throat where a part of my cervical spine is herniated backwards into my body.  The moment I saw it I was stunned…the picture showed exactly what I felt from the inside.  The food would get caught on the ledge and although it wasn’t blocking my airway, it was stuck and no amount of swallowing or coughing could clear it.  (How cool huh?  Was really interesting to discover). 
Anyway, back to three weeks ago with my coconut.  I couldn’t get it down and eventually gave up figuring the fruit was really dry and was just not a good texture to go down.  I threw it out and forgot about it. 
I buy granola bars and stuff like that for snacks at work and, as I always have, I picked up some high fiber ones at the grocery store on the weekend.  I was eating one earlier this week and again yesterday and the same damn thing was happening when I swallowed.  I’d take a bit, chew it well and swallow but it wouldn’t go down.  I had to gulp very hot tea to chase it and clear it away every single bite.  I gave up on those and went to the cafe to buy some crackers that I love.  I took one bite and the same happened. 
Last night I got into a bag of licorice, which is one of my favourite treats and, again, was choking on every bite.  I chewed it until it was almost liquid but still, the tiny bits would stick.  It was then I kinda put it all together and realized something has changed which is making this issue worse.  I’m trying to avoid dry foods or foods that break into small pieces and I never, ever eat without water at hand now.  I guess this in another test to be done…will have to make an appointment to see my doc, again.  I’ve had swallowing studies done in the past…was not a fun time.  I hope they don’t need to fill me up with barium again…sigh.  Why is this just getting worse and worse?  You’d think it would all eventually level out some no? 
So…now I have pain in my neck, back, face, head and shoulders.  My left thumb is rendering my hand nearly useless (thank god you don’t use that digit when typing!) and it hurts all the time now.  I can’t ignore it quite yet….more training to do on that one.  I can’t swallow without choking on most foods I love and my head…dear me it’s splitting with pain.  I can hardly wait for today to end so I can go back to sleep. 
Cheerful today aren’t I?  The good news is that I finally got my stomach/ulcer meds filled again (they’re nearly $300 per scrip – thankful for benefits…so thankful) and I have no pain or trouble there.  Those things are a miracle for me.  It’s so nice to be able to eat and drink without throwing up, pain and not being able to bend or lie down without it all coming right back up. 
I can’t wait to dose myself into oblivion tonight with a glass of wine for good measure so I can kill this headache, at least, for a few hours.  I may not even get out of bed until Monday.  I so badly want to be in decent shape when I start my new job.  Grrrr.  Body. 

About Grainne

My name is Grainne. This blog has been with me for years now and has served as a journal, a confessional, an outlet and a place for me to create and express my love of life. Thank you for stopping by and for becoming a part of this life long journey of mine. I appreciate every single one of you who takes the time to do so. :)

6 responses to “This Pain”

  1. Mental Mama says :

    Yuck, hope you get to feeling better soon! *hugs*

  2. KittyHere says :

    You sure as heck need to do show & tell with a doc regarding that ledge on the X-Ray. We can not have you reduced to applesauce, jello, and puréed baby foods.

    I do not have your level of pain but for me my L.H. thumb is also my most bothersome digit. Might be in part from the way I hold my phone, I monitor that.

    • Grainne says :

      It’s amazing how a single digit can cause such trouble! Like I said, I’m glad it’s not my right thumb (I’ll bet you are too!) but still a pain. I haven’t managed to train my body to favour it yet so I keep trying to open jars and pick up full mugs of tea. My body is quick to remind me though.

      I know you have issues with the same joint. Is your pain lower in your hand, maybe down the side of your palm like mine? Does your upper thumb joint ever lock up or is it more the burning pain? My doc told me that it was the most common spot to get arthritis and she’d had three other patients that week who presented with the same. Weird isn’t it?

      • KittyHere says :

        I have seen two different orthopedists. The second did x-rays, no arthritis. Mine is inflamed tendons and yes “trigger finger” that locks.

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