Lydy's Anarchist Revival Meeting
There's an argument that idiots use when arguing about whether or not homosexuality is a bad thing, unnatural, etc., that totally drives me spare. It's the argument that homosexuals do not have children. This argument is usually in conjunction with the argument that homosexuality is not genetic, but rather a choice, since it could not possibly be passed on in the genes.
To which I want to say, "Hello! Sitting right here! Eldest of four, and my father was a homosexual. What the fuck are you talking about?"
The idea that homosexuals don't have children is weirdly, massively wrong. Quite aside from the various technological possibilities now available, I suspect that homosexuals have been busy having kids since as long as there were, you know, people. There is the incredible social pressure to marry and have kids. Many people have married and procreated with people they didn't particularly care for. Some of them were homosexual. And the drive to have children isn't tied to sexual orientation. Lots of people have had sex with partners they didn't particularly care for in order to procreate. This is one more way to try to ignore the real, lived complexity of people's lives. And it attempts to erase me. Which really, really pisses me off.
So, I saw the Occupational Therapist on Thursday. I liked her. She seemed cheerful, intelligent, and interested in objective measurements and useful outcomes. She tut-tutted about the swelling in my finger. She measured the finger, its range of motion, and all that. Then she felt the scar. And became rather more concerned. I guess the one thing my body does really, really well is make scar tissue. She says that it is very large and hard and she is concerned about it. She also said several times that she wished I had come in earlier.
Initially, she wanted me to come in twice a week. She wants to ultrasound the scar tissue to help break it down. I explained that time and money were a serious consideration, here, and we agreed to try once a week for a bit and see if that was enough. I have a scar massage thing that I'm supposed to do three times a day, and a splint made of putty to wear when I sleep which is supposed to help soften the scar tissue. How it does this, I do not know, and I failed to ask. I'll have to ask the next time I see her.
She asked about sensations and pain. I told her that I sometimes have pain in my pinkie finger, which I suspect to be referred pain. She agreed, and discussed the distribution of the ulnar nerve, and how it covers the pinkie finger and a portion of the ring finger (my damaged finger) and that was cool. She is very concerned about the tendons. She showed me cool pictures of tendons, and explained that on the underside of the fingers, there are these two tendons, and for reasons which possibly even evolution cannot explain, they are threaded through each other. Since they are very likely inflamed, they do not glide past each other as designed. Also, the tendons on the back of my finger are probably very, very tight, which would explain some of the pain and weakness in my wrist. All very interesting.
Ah, but then there are the exercises. They hurt. And there are more of them. One of them I don't do as often as I should. The others, well, I do them more often... Did I mention that they hurt? Also, she has me wrapping my finger in Coban to help reduce the swelling, which makes the exercises harder to do. I mentioned that to her, she responded with a very cheerful "Yes, it does." I gather this is a feature, and not a bug. Sigh. She also wants me to hold my finger in a bent position for fifteen minutes, applying as much pressure as I can manage. Then let go. She cautioned me to let go gradually, as this will hurt. Um, yeah, hurt with ow sauce. The first time I did it, I cried when I let it go because it hurt so much. The second time, it hurt not quite so badly, but still was really pretty bad.
In a year or two, when this is all over, I'll probably be glad I did the exercises. But at the moment, I'm still contemplating amputation. I'm pretty sure we have an axe around here someplace.
So, I had two New Year's Resolutions. One, Do Not Poke the Crazy Lady With a Stick. (I may be violating this one, now.) Second, deal with my stupid sleep issues. So, good on the first one, with the possible violation already mentioned. The sleep issues...oh fucking sigh.
So, I found my CPAP machine. It's really, really old. At least ten years, and I think somewhat older than that. I borrowed a mask from the lab, found my humidifier, and was off to the races. The mask leaked. Something fierce. Now that I'm a sleep tech, leaks bother me a great deal more than they used to. I never liked the hissing noise, but now, I get all alarmed. So, I borrowed a different mask. Yay for the sleep lab. Didn't like that one, either, and developed a new symptom: aerophagia. Literally "air eating." My abdomen was becoming incredibly uncomfortably distended. Burping and farting ensued, providing vastly less relief than one might wish. Really, bodies are incredibly silly.
So, next step, try a nasal pillow mask, which has a great leak rate. I use them in the lab all the time. Also try a chin strap. Yeah, still with the aerophagia. Excellent. So, then to the internet to find instructions on how to adjust the pressure. I found instructions for the Respironics Solo Plus LX. Well, mine's a Solo Plus, no LX, but the instructions worked. The machine had been set on 13 cm H2O, which is a bit high, but you know, not too awful, I wouldn't have thought. At this point, I'm actually pretty severely annoyed. I mean, I used CPAP for fucking _years_ with no problems. But this aerophagia thing is totally unacceptable. So I lower the pressure to 8 cm H2O. No aerophagia. Yay for that. Also, the obstruction thing that I can feel happening when I fall to sleep is gone. So, there's that.
I try to do without the chin strap, which is honestly kind of annoying. I find that I keep on waking up with my mouth open and air hissing out, and I'm pretty sure that the leak is causing the arousals. If I was in the lab, and someone was observing, they could be sure, but really, it seems likely. So, I add back the chin strap. At this point, the nasal pillows start hurting. Sometimes the septum hurts, sometimes the nasal membranes hurt. Fuck with fuck sauce, I think. Really, nasal pillows are really nice in a bunch of ways, but I've never been able to use them because my nose is convinced that it's a special snowflake, and sure enough, we're back to the special snowflake status.
So, I'm on my fourth mask from the lab. Thank god I work for a sleep lab. This wouldn't be possible if I were trying to do it through a normal company. I mean, four masks in the course of two weeks? Each one of which costs in the neighborhood of $200? And, mostly, they don't let you return them. So grateful for my job, once again. So, now I'm using the Respironics Wisp, which actually does work really, really well. It doesn't hurt my nose, it doesn't leak when I lie on my side, it maintains a good seal, and just generally does absolutely everything I ever wanted. So happy with that part.
I look rather ridiculous when I arm myself to do battle with Morpheus these days. First, there's the chin strap, which fits under the chin, around the top of the head, and behind the head, hopefully holding my mouth closed, and is a maroon color. (Yes, yes, I can't keep my mouth closed, even when I sleep. Are you happy you made that joke, now?) Then, there's the eye mask, which lets DDB turn the lights on and off at will without bothering me, and is cobalt blue. Then there's the mask, which fits over the nose, with headgear that goes around the head, which is mostly silicon colored, but with grey cloth bits. Then there's a hose from the mask to the humidifier, which is long and grey and I call my elephant nose. I look pretty silly once I'm kitted out. But the important question: am I sleeping better?
Well... I think so. Some better, at any rate. I am waking up lesso piss less often. (Technically called nocturia, which is a much nicer sounding word, don't you think? Also, a useful clue to disrupted sleep.) I think I'm sleeping more soundly. But, I'm still hating to wake up. Always, forever, hating to wake up. On my days off, I'm still sleeping anything from six to sixteen hours. I have a new keen habit of waking up at five in the morning and being unable to fall asleep again until nine, and then sleep until three in the afternoon. Or, you know, six in the evening. Or some damn thing.
So, I think that the CPAP is helping some, but I think there are still stupid things going on. It is very likely that I have "delayed phase Circadian rhythm disorder" which a fancy term for being a night person. And trying to switch from a night shift to a day shift to a night shift to a day shift is a lot harder than it was when I was in my mid-twenties. (I used to do this when I lived with Peter Larsen. He was on third, I was on first, and I would shift over every weekend for the weekend. I was more resilient, then, which explains many things about our relationship.) The last time I was really worried about my sleep issues, I was on a boat load of psych meds, which I'm not on. And so that clarifies some things. I am certainly considerably less sleepy, even when I'm short of sleep, than I was when I was doped to the gills. So that's all very interesting. But it seems to take an unconscionably long time to fall asleep when I want to go to sleep, I'm having sleep maintenance issues, and in general, I just hate hate hate hate waking up. So, possibly something going on there.
My CPAP machine is old, as I mentioned, and doesn't have recording capability. So I can't download the card and see what it thinks. I do think I should probably have a sleep study done to find out what the best pressure is. I suspect the current pressure may be a little low, but you know, no way to know. I could totally do with a new machine, preferably one that has C-Flex. Which might help with the aerophagia, if I need higher pressures. (C-Flex, or A-Flex, or some other brand-name thingy, depending on the machine, gives a lower pressure on the exhale, which helps with tolerance and some of the problems such as aerophagia.)
I have a new, profound sympathy for my patients. I know so much about this. I have so many resources. And I'm still finding all of this to be complicated and difficult to navigate. The only reason a sleep study looks possible is that I've already met my deductible for this year because of my finger. I don't know if I can afford a new CPAP machine, because that comes out of a different pot of money, and I'm not sure what is and isn't covered. I really do need to return my mask and chin strap to the lab some day, and get my own.
So, annoyed Lydy is annoyed. This seemed so much simpler back a million years ago when I first got my diagnosis. How did it become this difficult? I mean, they whipped a little CPAP on me, I was perfectly happy, I took the mask they gave me, I had no questions, no problems and away I went. Really, honestly, where the fuck did the aerophagia come from? Sigh.
So, adventures in sleeping. Which I'm about to go do. Catch you on the flip side.
So, I've been doing my exercises. They hurt. The finger generally doesn't hurt except when I'm doing the exercises, except for weird, localized areas which are very tender. There's a small patch that feels like raw skin, even though it looks completely healed over. The finger is slightly more flexible than it was when I started, but not very, and it feels like all the progress was made in the first couple of days, and that I'm just maintaining that progress, not making further progress. Mind you, I could be mistaken, I'm not taking careful measurements and documenting stuff. So, this could just be impatient Lydy being impatient.
I did that email thing, and it worked a treat. The nice nurse gave me a referral to a Occupational Therapist, and said that the discoloration was due to increased blood flow. She said not to worry, but that if it seemed swollen, I could elevate after exercise and that might help. The discoloration is less often, now and less severe.
I have an appointment on the 20th for the Occupational Therapist. The appointment says "60 minutes, hand evaluation." Which makes sense. It took forever to get through, and due to my work schedule, there are limited days in which I can go, so this was the soonest available. I guess I'll keep on doing my exercises until then.
Am contemplating amputation as plan B.
So, I kind of do have plans to call and see if I can get set up with a PT person. Everybody recommends it, pretty much. In the mean time, I've been trying to do the lovely exercise that they give me, which is try to make a fist, four time a day, in sets of ten. I often get in five reps in a day. I've managed to get beyond the conviction that the pain is of the "something is seriously wrong here" variety. I keep on expecting it to hurt like stretching muscles hurts, and of course, I'm not really stretching muscles, so it makes sense that the pain is different. I've made a little progress on flexibility, too.
Not every time, but pretty often, about a half hour to an hour after I exercise, my finger around the joint turns slightly purple. It looks distinctly bruised. That can't be right, can it? Um, fuck if I know. The coloration fades to a dull pink after a while, and somewhat after that, it goes back to being finger colored. Really, really don't know what's going on. I assume blood is involved.
So, the way health care works, there is exactly zero chance I can call and talk to someone right away. I will call, they will take a message, and some nice person will call me back in several hours. Which kind of doesn't really work well with my schedule, since by the time they call back I'll be in bed, and by the time I wake up, they'll be off work. So, I'm planning to call Thursday to ask about the thing that looks like bruising, and to see if I can get a referral to a hand specialist PT type person. In the meantime, I plan to worry a lot.
So, this is the first thing I have touch-typed in a month. It's, um, a little rocky. The nice surgeon told me to stop buddy-taping the fingers today, and to start exercising. Basically, I'm supposed to try to make a fist many times a day. He said that it should hurt. And oh, does it hurt. My dislocated finger neither bends all the way nor straightens all the way, and attempts to make it do so hurt like the devil. The surgeon said that I have three months. That's it. After that, whatever use I've gotten back will be all that's available. And, I've used up a month already. So, when you put it that way, I want to exercise a lot. But then I do that thing, and I start to wonder if maybe this partially crippled finger wouldn't be a perfectly livable choice, after all.
So, that's the finger news. Aren't we all thrilled, now?
I just wanted to say a public thanks to DDB and Pamela for taking such good care of me. This whole thing was enormously vexing, but they made it so much easier than it could be.
Pamela took over feeding and medicating my cats, and cleaning the cat boxes. I could have done these things if I'd absolutely had to, but it would have been very difficult, and sometimes painful. Since she was doing these things, this allowed me to sleep whenever I wanted to, which was just incredible. The first week after my accident, I was sleeping about fifteen hours, awake for about five, and then sleeping for fifteen.
David took care of a bunch of day-day stuff that was difficult or impossible, like doing the dishes and brushing my hair. He was also incredibly patient with my whining. And biggest sacrifice of all, he got up early to take me to the vet -- I mean doctor's -- for follow-ups.
There were other little things, too many to name, that they just did for me. It helped so much.
Also, capital letters. So happy.
The nice doctor took off the splint today. The ring finger and middle finger are buddy-taped, so I am not, in fact, touch typing. But, eight fingers is so much better than five.
The finger was considerably less swollen,though it still looks somewhat swollen and malformed. The incision is awfully wandering and ragged, but there you go. I have driven today, and that works ok, although it is more difficult. I cannot flex the finger very far, and it is tender to any slight impact or jamming. It is numb on one side. They appear to think the healing process will take between six and ten weeks. The numbness is expected to go away, but could last several months. They are vastly unconcerned, possibly because, as the surgeon said, "Frankly the ring finger isn't very important. Now if we were talking about a thumb..." I would be more upset at this attitude if I thought there were things they weren't doing that they could be doing, but I don't think there are.
I go back to work on Sunday, which is a relief. Insurance appears to have paid for the bulk of this, which is also a relief.
So, life is improving, and I am happy. Ten-fingered typing is still a long way off, but man this is so much better. You cannot imagine how happy I am to have my capital letters back. Also, my IQ has risen by at least 30 points.
because i am still one-handed. saw surgeon this morning. he wanted, initially, for me to have fingers buddy-taped for at least two more weeks. i explained that meant i could not work. after discussion, decided to re-splint me for another week, then move to buddy-taping most of the time, but would permit me to untape so as to put on gloves and do my job. so, out of work for at least one more week, but probably back after that. slowly, carefully, and fingers will be stiffer this way and take longer to regain full range of motion. sucks to be me.
incision scary looking. they took out the sutures, and only three out of the five really hurt. i believe i said fuck less than 10 times. splint is fascinating tech, will describe verbally, but too much to type. surgeon pissed me off by using a question of mine to scold me about my drinking rather than answer question. actually, he didn't know the answer, which is fine. lecture, however, was self-righteous and annoying.
dear star-goat, not me again next year, ok?
how the loss of the use of one hand makes me feel so much stupider. i am hopeful that someone with more fingers than i will explain this to y'all in comments.