Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Pain Scale: Physical and Emotional

The results are in! I still have brain damage! However, the MRI and MRA procedures I had last Friday show that my brain images are just the same as a year ago. That is good news!

The bad news is I still have neck pain since the rear-end collision I experienced last January. Despite PT, X-Rays, and very rough brain scans I have pain.

In the hospital after my strokes, nurses posted a “pain scale” for me to describe my pain level. At that point, I needed the chart because I could not talk.

During my PT because of the rear-ender, one of my therapists asked about my pain. I said, “In the hospital after my massive stroke, the doctor had to insert a port into my heart. That pain was a 10. It was awful!”

The PT is helping. Nevertheless, I still get some sharp shooting pains.

I sometimes wonder if the neck pain will just be there forever.

I have also considered that I am getting older. Is the neck pain the result of the collision or being 55 years old?

Years ago, my doctor saw me for some ache or pain. I was describing my pain. 

He smirked, and said, “Well, you are 40 now. Your body will get more aches and pains. It is just life and being older.”

I use the pain scale often because of the PT and otherwise. It is handy to describe all sorts of pain.

The loud banging noise during MRI’s and MRA’s are about a 7.

The sharp shooting pain because of the collision varied from 3 to 9 or 10.

The actual first stroke on the pain scale was pretty minor. However, the migraines the lead up to the strokes were about an 8.

Just doing this blog typing in my home office, my upper back is painful…about a 7.

That is just the actual pain in my shoulder and neck.

In my brain, the internal pain is getting more profound. The concentration I need to type gets worse as I go.

Preparing for and attending meetings is the same concept. My pain when I start doing any actively is about 2 or 3. I also have some pain. Again, I am getting older.  Throughout an activity – especially when I have to speak and/or think a lot – my threshold of pain decreases exponentially. By the end of a long meeting, my pain is about 8 or 9.

The next day, I am exhausted and have to sleep a long time. That next day, the pain can be a 9 or a 10.

I do think I have a high pain tolerance. I also believe I have a high pain tolerance for emotions, stamina, persistence, and patience.

However, I do have some limits. I am testing my limits because of this man rear-ended me. Certainly, his insurance is covering the basic stuff.  

Yet, wearing my old Economist major hat, my “opportunity cost” is getting exorbitant. What is “opportunity cost?”  

In other words, I am just tired of using my limited financial and brain capacity to deal with this situation. I have to drive, use gas, use MY time, miss other things, etc. 

HIS choices have left ME know choices. 

I am pissed off with a headache and back pain. Not a good combination. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Middle Aged and strokes

What is the age when you realize you are “middle aged?” According to “,” the definition is  being of the age intermediate between youth and old age, roughly between 45 and 65.” I am 55 years old so I am in the middle of middle age.

The other night, my son and I had dinner at a national chair restaurant. This was my first experience using my “Over 55+ Menu.” I laughed when I ordered. My son laughed too much I thought!

“Dude,” I said, “You can walk home after you pay the bill yourself using my senior citizen's discount.”

I really never thought about my age until my strokes happened. Sure, I was 50 years old, but my mortality was a distant concept. My strokes instantly made me feel old and vulnerable.

When I got home from the hospital, though I could not “do math,” I tried to calculate milestones. What age will I be when my son graduates high school?  When will my 20 year life insurance policy end? When does my disability and social security income decrease? With my strokes, will I even see my son grow up? How much time is left for me?

I do not think about that often anymore because I am so busy living. That is a good thing.

Nevertheless, the clarity of my medical issues is a palpable when you do any test.  Last January, I was rear-ended. Despite physical therapy, I still have neck pain.

Yesterday, my doctor ordered another MRI and a MRA for me.

MRI lets doctors see very detailed images of the inside of your body. MRI passes through bone and takes pictures of soft tissue, such as tendons, blood vessels, and the brain.

“MRA” stands for magnetic resonance angiography. An MRA scan gives a view of specific blood vessels (arteries and veins).

I do not know the results yet, but it will be interesting to see if my brain has other different since my last MRI.  I hope everything is the same. That would be great news.

On January 6, 2012, I had an MRI because of severe headaches. The MRI showed nothing.  Three days later, I had my first stroke followed by the massive one January 13, 2012. If I had an MRA rather than an MRI, my life would have been so much different.

 I am glad I am getting both procedures just for the peace of mind – well, what is left of my mind!