Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Arms Have the Potential to "Fly"

Today was my last day of physical therapy in Colorado (for now). Up until today, there were only three other times that I cried in front of my physical therapists the past 2+ months. The first time was because the nerves in my neck and shoulder were freaking out which locked my right shoulder really bad. The second time was when my left scapula "flew" out to the side while trying to do an exercise. The third time was when I was having severe neck pain. When I go to physical therapy I'm always stoic; I'll wait to cry once I leave if I have to. If I cried at every single thing that hurt me in therapy, my physical therapists wouldn't be able to gauge how much pain I am in. I have a very high pain tolerance. If something happens in therapy that actually makes me cry or I walk in saying I don't feel right that is basically an "alarm" that goes off for my physical therapists to know that there is a problem here.

On Tuesday I went in and said I could barely move my head (except bring my chin to my chest). At physical therapy he tried to get me some relief but as soon as he tried to lightly do stuff to my neck my nerves went nuts which created this jittery motion over my shoulder. He had me sit up and then did a couple manual tests. Besides the obvious nerve problem, there is now concern I have upper cervical (neck) instability in addition to lower cervical (neck) instability. He stabilized the upper portion of my neck and for the first time in long time I could finally turn my head to the left and right. It could potentially explain my "two-step neck motion" to make my right shoulder move too. When I went home I tried to move my arm by just moving the bottom of my neck forward without bending the top of my neck and I can't move my arm that far. When I move the bottom of my neck forward and then bend the top portion of my neck, the shoulder motion increases. Below is video of the "two-step neck motion" with increased shoulder motion. It's a whole lot easier to just watch then me explain it. I've watched these videos too many times to count and I am in awe every single time.

Moving my R arm in front of me (flexion)

Moving my R arm to the side (abduction)

When I started crying at pt today I didn't start crying because I was physically hurting more than normal. I tried so hard to keep the tears in during my last session and I was doing good until I asked my physical therapist what his gut feeling was in regards to something surgically needing to be done. I knew what my gut was telling me but I wanted to see if his was the same. Both of us are the same and the gut feeling is that something surgically will need to be done to my neck and there's a 50/50 chance that my left scapula will need to be fused. The past 3 weeks my neck and nerve symptoms have been getting worse. I've been having to wear a C-spine collar more because I've been getting dizzy, my head is heavy, and things in my neck are clicking/cracking/popping (choose your favorite adjective). Traction still does help my neck; however, we can't do that anymore because the nerve response I have isn't worth the little bit of relief and my neck seems to feel worse the following day. If my left scapula isn't better in 2 months then we're looking at fusing it. Below is a video of my motion before anyone holds by scapula and then after somebody is stabilizing my scapula. It's considered a positive compression test.

L scapula positive compression test

Besides crying over the thought of more surgery I was crying because I had a whole flood of emotions going through my head that just crash landed. I'm scared, nervous, validated, sad, frustrated, happy (because I was really listened too), overwhelmed, and tired. I've been in this "medical bubble" the past few months with a ton of information being thrown at me. Coming out here was basically a gamble. It was either going to really pay off or it was going to be absolutely pointless. Before we left to come here, I felt like I had to just take a leap of faith in order to figure out what's wrong with me. It was absolutely worth coming here.  The point in coming out here to do physical therapy was to get a really, really good reevaluation. The goal wasn't to leave with an increase in motion; if that happened it was just sugar on top. Coming here was a SUCCESS! Things are narrowed down which means when I go to Mayo on Monday, the doctor can really focus on the narrowed down issues instead of looking at a ginormous list of symptoms. My orthopedic and physical therapist have been in contact with the doctor at Mayo. My physical therapist was going to email the doctor at Mayo today to update him, and let him know besides the nerve stuff he thinks there's definitely a neck problem. I received a text this evening from my physical therapist letting me know he emailed the doctor again and he reiterated I'm not crazy.

Leaving the clinic today was sad. I'm honestly leaving a bunch of friends. It's going to be extremely weird not being in this physical therapy routine and seeing my physical therapists, the physical therapy aids, and the receptionists just about every single day.  I left hugging every single one of them and exchanged emails to stay in touch. I am going to miss them.

We spent our last week here enjoying the outdoors. I'm going to miss it so much. The more I come here, the more I want to move. We were blessed with beautiful weather over the weekend. We went back to Sylvan Lake State Park and sat by the lake. This week we went for a few walks by the creek and took lots of pictures because it was snowing making everything more pretty than it already is. Technically we are supposed to leave Colorado tomorrow to start heading to Minnesota. Mother Nature has decided it was good time to drop a ton of snow on us. Depending on how things are in the morning will depend on if we stay an extra day or not. One way or another we will make it to Minnesota by Monday because we have no choice; that's when my appointment is. Monday could potentially be a huge game changer in a positive way! You can see from the videos that both arms have the potential to "fly".

My nieces will be happy that my hair is finally long enough to put in a
pathetic looking ponytail. 
Sylvan Lake


  1. Some tears here, too, just reading along. Not the updates I had hoped for as we start the new year, but sending love and hope for the best with the next steps to come.

  2. Best wishes in the new year. Hope some things are looking up