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Sunday, May 14, 2017

How to get yourself back to work after they’ve fiddled in your brain


This current hurdle is not my first time at the rodeo.  I had a stroke a few years ago that hospitalized me for a month, in three separate incidents. I was rather proud of myself for keeping up at work and missing no meetings, but mostly for being independent. I asked the doctor, as I was being dismissed, if I could drive. He considered the question for some time, and then said he could see no reason why not.

I knew my sister was dumbstruck, and I asked her on the way home, what she saw as a drawback. She replied she thought all the cars going by would confuse me. Since I had nothing going for me but a lot of chutzpah, we agreed on a driving test when we got home. I’d drive down the street and back up, and if it was a normal trip down the hills, around the bends, and back up, I was still a driver. It was, and I was, and that was the end.

This time it was not stroke, but a craniotomy to evacuate the hematoma that settled between my skull and my brain. I was kept unconscious for several days, and was routinely handed pain killers. I was not overly conscious of my surroundings for my five week stay, until the last week, when I decided it was time to leave.

At the rehab hospital I was again routinely offered pain meds, but this time for my old back problem. The docs had concluded my lovely ibuprophen, plus all the blood thinners to prevent a new stroke, had been the direct cause of the bleed into my brain that would lead to a new catastrophe.  

I have lived with chronic back pain for ten or more years, and have given the medical profession every possible opportunity to locate the source and end the pain. Abject failure on their part, until I thought I struck a happy balance with a Celebrex tablet in the morning and Lyrica at night. It’s been a happy combo for the last several years, until I woke up in DC and found the Celebrex confiscated.

So, the old protocol began. Try this, try this, try this. But all the drugs were narcotic, and the tiniest dose put me to sleep for four to six hours. The non-narcotics were useless. My back pain continues, debilitating. For the moment I’ve settled on acetaminophen, which barely functions for me. I’m about to begin asking all the medicos again for advice. There’s always the solution of Celebrex and never falling again, but I doubt I could convince a doctor to prescribe it.

Pain was only part of the problem interfering with my job.  My sister and I agreed on the same old driving test when I got home. Sadly my daughter had confiscated my car keys. She claimed it was on the advice of a doctor, and the keys would be returned when I passed a driving test. As the person inside my brain, I was confident of my ability to drive. Her confidence was zero.

I was scheduling doctor appointments, when I came home, and catching up on Laura’s. There were days with two or three, plus work. I tried setting up the Uber application, but failed completely. Beth and Janice decided to split days of the week driving me, until I took the driver test. I just begged for my keys. Both of them have full time employment.

The job that pays mine and Laura’s bills was suffering horribly. I found little windows of time when I could function; sadly, these did not occur at work. I was performing a job I have done for fifty years like a dolt. Sometimes I even put down my head on my desk and passed into pain and sleep. I told my daughter I could not work effectively, standing on the corner waiting for a ride. No keys were forthcoming.

Then serendipity crossed my path again. Early one morning there was a knock on my door from the equipment operators laying the French drains. My daughter had put my car in the street, so she and Jan could use the drive way. It was in the way of efficiently moving their equipment and laying gravel. I explained I had no keys. They offered a tow. I asked for time, and called Beth. Two or three hours later her husband was on my porch with my keys, and nightshirt flapping, I put the car in the drive.

I kept appointments on Thursday and Friday. The Thursday appointment was with the neurologist,  who asked why I was not already driving, as the CAT scan and the exam indicated no reason why I should not drive. The cutest, chubbiest little Italian neurologist high fived me when I said I drove to the appointment.

There has been serious sleeping the last several days. On Saturday I literally slept the entire day. I do recall from past anesthesia, I just sleep and sleep until the last molecule has left my body. It has a purpose, and a price. It makes no difference, if I can tell when I can go to work. Laura and I went this morning. She did my back filing, and I got a large batch of checks ready to run Monday. That will straighten out one third of the horrid mess I made of the job last week, when I couldn’t function.

Normalcy returns. I’ll solve the back pain, and be my old self again.


31 comments:

  1. Glad you can drive again. A church friend who is 95 just got back into her car after a terrible bout of sciatica. She was quite pleased to be on the road again. As I'm sure you are, too.

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  2. Proving once again that the strong find some way to get it done!!

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  3. Hari OM
    I have no doubt that you will; at least to a tolerable level. Yaaay to the clear CT; and the return of the keys. Drive steady ol' gal... &*> YAM xx

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  4. I am so very happy that normalacy returns. Good luck on the pain front. I haven't yet found a solution which works.
    Hooray for the CT scan, and the keyes. And you.

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  5. You have an incredible spirit and determination, Joanne. Well done!

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  6. I hope you find a pain solution soon.

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  7. When you find a solution, let me Know!!

    You are one feisty lady, and I admire you tremendously.

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  8. I cheered inside when I read the part where you got your keys back. I'm glad the neurologist backed you up. It's frustrating to be unable to drive when you've been doing it all your life. Recovery from eye surgery put me in that situation twice, and it was a very long grind.

    Yay for Laura for helping you with the filing!

    Now I hope there is something to be done for the pain. And I hope it doesn't come down to wearing a helmet in daily life, as a kid I knew had to do for a year after a brain injury suffered in a car accident ... but it is a possible answer if you must be on Celebrex. (I am assuming the second hematoma, the one you said they deduced was from smacking your head on the cupboard, is because of the blood thinners as well, and could re-occur?)

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  9. Wow! You are a plucky woman and it is serving you well. Big hugs and healing. xx

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  10. You have persistence and determination which serve you very well. Little by little you will gain back all you lost...But I hope the pain will leave you.

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  11. With your attitude, I'm sure in no time you will have "whipped" that back pain back into shape and you will be your old self again.

    betty

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  12. I add my congratulatory good wishes to those over this comment. You are remarkable.

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  13. It certainly seems to me that you know yourself best, and isn't that so often the way with those of us who have suffered pain for some years? Hooray for that neurologist who passed you for driving. I'm glad you're now able to start clearing the mess at work and hope it doesn't take to long to get completely straightened out. I hope you find a solution for the back pain soon.

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  14. They have recently been warning us of the dangers of taking NSAIDS (like ibuprofen) here for the over 50s. I now take nothing but aspirin, which they have been calling a 'wonder drug' recently, although aspirin is not good for bleeding. I recently bumped into a young friend (about 50) who suffered a brain haemorrhage about 20 years ago. When he came round he could not talk and had to learn how to speak again. He uses many wrong words but you always know what he is saying. The crisis turned him from a real-estate agent to a stone-carver. To me, that seems like the wrong way round...

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  15. Sounds like you are slowly returning to your old selfJoanne. Hope all goes well.

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  16. I have complete confidence in you. Slow and steady wins the race. Just point yourself in that direction and keep going until you reach your goal.

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  17. Probably few things undermine your sense of independence than being unable to drive. So glad you've rounded that corner!

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  18. Joanne, I wish for you that the worst is over. TBI's are such a long term thing; especially hard for someone like you. You will get better and better. Just be patient, as I know will be the hardest part for you.

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  19. I'm having back pain today due to my attempt at lifting the heaviest limestone slab and then setting it back down again which I think was worse. it will pass in another day or so. it was doing quite well yesterday til I dozed off on the couch in the evening and something startled me awake and I'm back to square one. but as to that, have you ever tried yoga for your back? it can be very helpful. glad you got your car keys back. I've been wondering how Laura has been fairing through all this.

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  20. Joanne, it sounds like you are getting things under control again. Congrats! As long as there is a will, there's a way... and your will is strong. Welcome back to normalcy. I may not always comment, but I do follow.

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  21. It seems that your good old self is already here.

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  22. No, there is nothing easy about this.
    Best luck, may your path be easy as it can be

    Mike

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  23. You are a very brave and determined lady. The world needs more people like you.

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  24. Dear Joanne, I wish you will find a way to soothe those back pains (why don't the give you the "C"?) - and that you will soon be able to work. Your daughter might have had good intentions (but as always: "I only wanted your best" means: it did not work out.) So: sleep a lot, get rid of the narcotics from the operation, and well again. You are very brave!

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  25. Back pains are awful, I hope you find a way to deal with them.

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