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Friday, February 5, 2010

Oh No, OT

I hear it again and again. It's one of the greatest hazards of
being deaf-blind, I think. I'm talking about hand and arm pain.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, arthritis, elbow issues and shoulder

It makes sense. After all, we use our hands for everything.
Reading, seeing, feeling, signing, cooking, playing... all of it
is done with the hands. Our poor hands never get a break. It's
non-stop work, work work!

For me, it's elbow pain. You never really think of how much work
an elbow does until it begins to hurt. Every movement of the
fingers, hands and wrists go back to the elbow. There's no way
around an angry elbow. You just have to deal with it.

The diagnosis is tennis elbow. I HATE that name. As if I'm out
on the courts playing tennis all day long. Really, I need to cut
back on my hours at the country club. Uh huh...

But it's the tendons that tennis players always hurt so they
call it tennis elbow. I am stubborn. I won't use that term.
I just say that I have elbow trouble. If I'm really in a lot of
pain, I'll scream, "My elbow is killing me!!" I managed to get
my point across.

I've been in and out of occupational therapy (OT) for years. I
go back and forth to the doctor. I've done ultra sound
treatments, e-stim, massage therapy, stretches and exercises,
steroid patches and cortisone shots. I wear a strap on my arm to
brace the elbow. When I read and sleep, I wear a splint on my
wrist. You name it, I've tried it. But the elbow still hurts.

It's from overuse. What can I do? i'm deaf-blind. I need to
use my hands. There's no other way. So the pain goes on and on
and on.

In October, I got a cortisone shot in my elbow. It helped one
part of the problem but not all of it. I went back a few weeks
ago for another shot. The doctor said the skin on my elbow is
too thin. He won't do another shot. So he sent me back to OT.

OT sends me to the doctor. The doctor sends me to OT. They say
they aren't passing me off. It's how they need to "work
together." Whatever.

Today I started yet another round of OT. We'll be doing e-stim
and steroid patches this time. Of course I'm supposed to do
exercises and stretches at home. Also heat and ice. She said
three times a day... for the rest of my life. It almost sounds
like a prison sentence to me.

Oh, it gets even worse. She talked about certain positions my
arm can't be in. This includes moving the arm away from my
body and picking thins up when my arm is fully extended. This
also included using my white scanning cane.

Excuse me? How am I supposed to not use the cane? I'm blind.
It's how I see and get around. I admit, I've had pain when
using the cane. The movement does aggravate my elbow. But what
am I supposed to do? I need that cane.

She decided the only way to work this out is to have me go back
to physical therapy. I can learn and practice how to walk with
the cane without causing pain. My friend Andrea is thrilled.
She's my old physical therapist and she can't wait to boss me
around again.

It's like a nightmare! I will never escape the rehab center. OT
and PT twice a week. Daily exercises at home... Like I've said
before, it's not easy being deaf-blind.

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