Hmmmmm … where do I begin? I guess at the start.
The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?” he asked.
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end, then stop.”
My chronic pain of dysmenorrhea.(and then hysterectomy) was initially why I started this blog. Bleh … over and done with thanks to surgical intervention! The chronic pain was dysmenorrwhat … [dis – men – oh – reeeee – uh]. Yes, dysmenorrhea. Kind of sounds like diarrhea, but it’s not. For many years I suffered with this biatch of a uterus cramper and torturer … pain so bad it traveled down my low back into my legs leaving me more fatigued than the after effects of a man having had an orgasm for the first time in a decade — and not in any good way!
Now I have my special new diagnosis of chronic pain from neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (nTOS).
Symptoms of Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome:
- Numbness and tingling in hands and fingers.
- Neck and shoulder pain.
- Neck muscle spasm.
- Headache on affected side or both sides — occipital headache.
- Worsened symptoms with overhead use of that extremity.
- Pain or weakness in the shoulder, arm and/or hands.
- One arm that tires quickly.
- Atrophy — shrinking and weakness — of the pad of the thumb, the muscle of the palm that leads to the thumb; this is quite rare.
- Symptoms may come and go, but they are often made worse when the affected arm is held up. The longer the arms stay up, the worse the symptoms can get.
Arm pain at night causing pain-related insomnia.No, night pain is a symptom of rotator cuff injury that can include bursitis.
- Crankiness with curt answers due to a constant state of pain (that’s my own symptom I added to the list).
NEUROGENIC — Arising from or caused by nerves.
THORACIC OUTLET — Not to be confused with any outlet in your dwelling … if you live in a teepee of course there are no outlets to confuse you — just this one. The thoracic outlet is a grouping of blood vessels (veins and arteries) and nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib (thoracic outlet). (see pic below)
SYNDROME — Something fun and extra in your life that makes you special! Often something that people can’t tell you have just by looking or talking to you, and will not care about because who wants to talk about you and your pain or syndrome or whatever it is. BORING! NEXT! Actually, syndrome means a group of symptoms that collectively indicate or characterize a disease, a psychological disorder or another abnormal condition … or a group of physical symptoms making you feel like you’re developing a psychological disorder!
From the Mayo Clinic … not to be confused with the Mayonnaise Clinic — that’s a different place altogether if such a beast exists! Mmmm … I do love mayo!
Neurogenic (neurological) thoracic outlet syndrome (nTOS):
This form of thoracic outlet syndrome is characterized by compression of the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that come from your spinal cord and control muscle movements and sensation in your shoulder, arm and hand [mentally f*ucking with your brain and emotions].
nTOS sounds much more exotic than that icky dysmenorrhea stuff. People look at me like I’m from Mars (or an escapee from a psych ward) when I say I have neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome … I might as well have said , “I have gooby jooby hooka pawna wawna syndrome and it hurts!”. Then I have to explain it in easy to understand terms … If they haven’t fallen into a coma by then.
I’ve been a desk jockey for 11 years (yes, I am a desk nurse), and all the typing with mousing has contributed to this horrible posture — the leaning forward of my head with overuse of my arms and hands … repetitive motion disorder … also, consider 8-9 hours a day at a desk sitting plus a total to and from commute to work of an hour of sitting. Then of course, after the brain gymnasium (AKA work) I come home and sit some more spending time on the couch (the pseudo brain playground to destress from work — I sit and relax from my day of sitting). I probably total 10-14 hours of sitting daily! That’s probably why I have a flat @ss! I ain’t got no glutey in the booty!
My point with this comparison is I’m not sure which is worse: Dysmenorrhea or nTOS. With dysmenorrhea I was in acute pain for 3-5 days on average every month. With nTOS the pain isn’t as acute but it’s with me every day, some days worse than others. At least with dysmenorrhea I got a total reprieve for the majority of the month. nTOS is like herpes … the gift that keeps on giving while chronic like COPD!
My nTOS pain to my right arm woke me up at night (saying, “F*ck you! I hate you! Get up and suffer — NOW!”) sometime between 2 am and 4 am and I couldn’t go back to sleep until I got on Trazodone — a medication I didn’t associate with good thoughts because there are some people on Trazodone with severe mental disorders and I don’t want to be in that group — I have enough problems. But now that my pride has waned, I’m able to swallow this bitter pill; I associate my low-dose Trazodone with restorative sleep that gets me all the way through the night WITHOUT PAIN! I know longer stereotype people on Trazodone!
Here’s a duh comment for you: sleep is important.
Sleep is like ammunition for your body — you wouldn’t go into war without enough bullets would you? First of all, I wouldn’t go into war — they wouldn’t take me anyway, and secondly, I would never abandon my cats. Life without cats is worse than life with nTOS!
“Losing four hours of sleep is comparable to drinking a six-pack of beer [or a bottle wine — I don’t often drink beer],” says Tom Rath, Author of the New York Times bestselling book, Eat Move Sleep.
“I don’t want to be in a serious meeting with a person who drank six beers or lost four hours of sleep. I don’t want my child’s teacher to be that person. I don’t want my doctor to be that person. Still, we don’t view the two scenarios (beer drinking and not sleeping) as equal. In fact, our culture views a person who needs sleep, as a person with a weakness [my emphasis]. “
Right now to combat my nTos, and yes, this is war folks … I’m doing the following:
- Physical Therapy with McKenzie exercises
- Taking Trazodone nightly
Taking Lyrica (pregabalin)(I stopped — it gave me elevated scary blood pressure) Acupuncture(I stopped — it wasn’t working)
- Myofascial release massage therapy
- Topical analgesics (AKA strong smelling camphor & methyl salicylate based ointments)
- Trying to find the person who is using me as a voodoo doll! (this search has been in vain so far)
I have yet to get back into chiropracty … I’m already busy with all the above.
I’m not sure if nTOS has an end or it’s something I live with for the rest of my life or I have surgery down the line to correct it or I move to Washington or Colorado living off medical marijuana —- NOT! At least with my severe dysmenorrhea the surgery of hysterectomy was a curative solution. I don’t need surgery for nTOS and it’s not recommended either … not yet anyway!
nTOS is an expensive hobby to have! I don’t recommend it in the least (for many reasons — chiefly PAIN!). On the upside of all this, my husband built me a standing desk for home. Nothing can be done for my work station at this point with my job. My supervisor didn’t even believe that sitting was bad for you until just earlier this year. I’ve know this for at least 9 years. My supervisor came out and proclaimed how bad sitting was after reading an article … when I told my boss almost a decade ago the look I got was like I was cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and simply a malingering hypochondriac … oh, and that I was a special princess now needing special treatment and office equipment. Ugh.
Sitting is the new smoking … have you heard?
During the past year, sitting has become the new smoking. “Past studies have found,” declares a 2014 article in The New York Times, “The more hours that people spend sitting, the more likely they are to develop diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, and potentially to die prematurely — even if they exercise regularly.”
The animated TED-ED video (below) begins to paint the picture.
I’ve moved on to one intermittent chronic pain condition to a new constant chronic pain condition. In comparison, dysmenorrhea was better if I had to choose one sucky disorder over another!
This is probably the end of this blog as I’m planning on starting a new blog related to my chronic nTOS pain and subjects related to this issue. Oh joy, hold onto your pants because I know you can’t wait! Cats will continue to be part of the new blog … stay tuned! MeOW!
I will let you know my new blog site once I get it started … sorry to leave all of you who have hung in for hysterectomy information (go read some old posts … like all of them) … and for those of you here for the cats — you’ll still get cat stuff in the upcoming blog! Yay! Cat stuff! ❤