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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Life is Cruel

It's hard enough being deaf-blind. That's a fate that most
people can't even fathom. It's one of the most feared disabling
conditions. Pople tell me they would rather die than become
deaf-blind. I can understand that attitude.

Now add arm or hand problems to that equation. That's what I'm
dealing with. Everything I do to cope with deaf-blindness
involves using my hands. With all this pain, it's like I'm
losing my last link to the world.

I know I'm supposed to be brave and inspirational. But sometimes
I just want to stamp my feet and yell, "It's not fair!" Can you
blame me?

Here's today's crisis. It has to do with the tens unit.
That's a little machine that sends electrical charges through an
area of the body in hopes of reducing pain. It's similar to
e-stim but can be done at home.

I got my tens unit a few weeks ago. My parents have been too
squeamish to help me figure out how to use it. I would be angry
about that but I understand their concern. It's hard for a
lay person to decide what to do when two experts contradict each
other. Dr. K said to use the unit on my elbows, but not on my
shoulders. Dr. E said to use it on my shoulders, but never on my
elbows.

I took it in to PT to ask Andrea to help me get it set up. I
trust her because she's both my physical therapist and a friend.
Since she's been closely working with me for three years, I'd say
she knows my body better than anyone else. (Although that does
sound a little weird.)

Andrea's suggestion was to try it on both my elbows and
shoulders. See what happens and then go from there. If it
hurts, stop. Makes sense to me, so that's what we did.

We started on my worst pain - the right elbow. She put the
pads a little above the nerve so it won't be too much
stimulation. We got it all set and it did seem good. I thought
finally we found something that might actually work.

She took the pads off my elbow and then put bigger ones on my
shoulders. She showed me how to use two charges at one time.
She also taught me how to use the machine, turn it on and off,
etc.

With the unit still running, we went off to work on the exercise
bike. It's nice because the small control box clips onto your
belt. You can use it on the go. It's just a little awkward
because there are all these wires to work around.

I was finishing up on the bike when Andrea noticed something. I
kept scratching and rubbing at my elbow. She looked and it was
all red and blotchy. It's the same allergic reaction I have to
the Lidocaine patches. That's why I stopped using them. I think
I'm allergic to the adhesive that holds the patches and pads in
place. Oh crap!

So much for the tens unit on my elbow. I'm going to try using it
on my shoulders. Hopefully it won't develop a reaction there,
too. We'll find out.

So, that's what I'm upset about today. Yet another possible
treatment is no good. All because I'm allergic to the dang
sticky stuff. Three words come to mind: life is cruel.

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