Thursday, January 7, 2016

Well... this is a blog post.

As my last post mentioned, I had to get a test done- EMG. WELL... turns out, that's one of the MANY things that the VA hospital will not see me for- and for good reason, really. I'm not a veteran. I'm the spouse of a 100% service-connected disabled veteran. While I can get almost everything I need done at the VA, there are a few specialties that they won't cover because they're high demand for actual veterans. And that's fine. What's not fine is that the list of things they will and will not cover changes often. I never know what's going to come up as not covered. BUT- the VA doctors can give me a consultation letter to see a non-VA doctor and the CHAMPVA insurance will pay for it like any other health insurance (meaning we have a cost-share and deductible).

So, that call I was waiting to make that I mentioned before? That was the Patient Administrative Services calling to tell me they weren't going to let me see a rheumatologist because they couldn't allow me to be a "new patient". Except I'm not a "new patient". I saw the rheumatology clinic for my fibro diagnosis and initial treatment. Then they kicked me back to my GP for the maintenance care. If I had been to the rheumatology within the last two years, I'd be allowed back... but their policy to kick me back to the GP... you see the circle-jerk in that whole thing? Yeah.

Anyway, after I got off the phone with them, I called the GP clinic and told them that I'd need a consultation letter. When I got the letter, I called the local place I go to when I need to- and it turns out, you don't even SEE a rheumatologist for this in the real world! I had to go to an ortho. The good thing is, the ortho I had to see is in the same office as my knee doctor. So, from that visit, I was scheduled for the EMG on January 14th. Then this morning, I got a call saying they had a cancellation for this afternoon.

One piece of advice- do NOT Google "Does an EMG for carpal tunnel hurt?" because you will find the scary stories from people who were either exaggerating or complete and total wimps. The test wasn't painful, really, just uncomfortable. And kind of weird. There are needles involved but the needle thing didn't even hurt. The weird cattle prod thingy- that was worse than the needles.

Basically, they put these sensors on your hands in different places and then use that weird cattle prod thingy to send a jolt through various nerves from different places in your arm/wrist. After that, there is a session with a needle in specific places to test muscle activity and such. You get to hear your muscles. I didn't even know my muscles made noise. And let me tell you, mine were noisy bastards!

Because I'm me, I took some photos. But because I'm not an asshole, I won't show you the photos without warning. They'll be in links. Click them if you want to, but I will tell you what they are before you click it.

This is the machine used in the EMG.

This is my hand with some of the senor doodads on it (they move those around at different points of the test).

This is the needle being held up by the doctor so I could take a photo. It is a really thin needle and I barely felt the needle at all.

This is that same needle in my forearm. The doctor took this photo with my phone for me. There is no blood or anything, just the super-thin needle in my arm.

This is the bruise I got in my biceps on my left arm. I don't think I have any other bruises and it doesn't even hurt.

Now see? That wasn't so bad! And if you need one of these, don't worry! You can't even see them putting the needle into your muscle and I could barely feel it.

As for the results of this test- I have severe nerve damage in both hands. I am definitely going to have surgery for it because I really don't have much of a choice at this point. And because my nerve damage is so severe, I will probably always have numbness in some of my fingers. The surgery will help, but it can't fix what's so far gone.

NOW... a little discussion about the fibro thing. Because of the holiday or because I miscounted- I was without my fibro medication for three straight days. I took my last pill on Sunday night. On Monday, when it didn't come in the mail, I decided to give it one more day, because of the holiday. On Tuesday, when it didn't come, I called the VA. It turns out it was mailed out on Monday afternoon. I got it today. However, I couldn't take it till I got home from all the running around I had to do today. So, I did the EMG, I drove home to pick up the Disabled Guy to drive him to Rockford. Oh, yeah- last Thursday (New Year's Eve), he was driving down a road and a woman pulled out in front of him. He was going about 45 MPH and had no stop signs or lights. She was turning left onto the road from a stop sign. How she didn't see the full-size pickup truck with running lights is beyond me. He's fine, but his truck has been officially totaled.

So for the last week, I've been dealing with insurance companies, chauffeuring the Disabled Guy around, juggling my doctor appointments with his anti-coagulation appointment, AND dealing with life without fibro medicine. Let me tell you- I'd forgotten how much this disease sucks without that medicine. And stress suuuuuucks even harder. So, today, I had to drive a half hour to one town to be zapped and prodded and stabbed, then drive the half hour home, get the Disabled Guy, drive forty minutes to where his truck had been towed to get his big-ass toolbox that was mounted in the bed of his truck, then drive him the forty minutes home, and THEN go to the grocery store. Then... I had to cook dinner.

But I digress... or do I? I'm not sure what I'm doing. I'm on my full amount of nighttime medication right now. Let me sum it up a little...

Good news: I was moved up a whole week to get the EMG.

Bad news: I have severe and permanent nerve damage in my hands. (in case you forgot, I kind of use my hands for, well, everything. But most importantly, I use my hands for photography).

Goo- No, wait... bad news: I have to have surgery.

Good- No, wait, still bad news: the Disabled Guy's truck is totaled, we have to wait for the insurance company to settle things with the lien holder before we can get him a new vehicle.

Good news: (no, really!) it should only be a couple weeks before we get the check from the insurance company to get a new truck.

Bad news: I have to put up with the Disabled Guy not driving himself around for another few weeks. He can't drive my vehicle because it isn't big enough for him to tuck his disabled half out of the way so he can reach everything with his un-disabled half.

Good-Bad news: The recovery time from a carpal tunnel surgery can take up to three months. The reason that's good-bad is that I have plenty of time between now and May (the Janesville Ren Faire), but the bad part is that because of my fibro, recovery time may be longer.

 To end on a better note, here are some macro photos I took of some flowers (I bought myself a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store and a couple days later, a friend dropped by and gave me a Yule basket of goodies and some flowers). Also, I took some really cool photos of the Disabled Guy's train set. If you'd like to see those- here's a link. Some were taken with my phone, some with my camera. (the camera shots are awesome!).

And now, on to the flower macros! I took the two flower vases outside while the sun was still out to get a handful of photos. The sunlight was filtered through some thin, white clouds.


Daisies

Daisies

Daisies

Daisies

Flowers in Winter

Flowers in Winter

Flowers in Winter

Flowers in Winter

Flowers in Winter










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