Sunday, 25 February 2018

WHY MY SHOULDER INJURY HAS AFFECTED MY MENTAL HEALTH



I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite a while now – well, since I first injured my shoulder which was September or October 2017! But I knew that writing it, thinking about what I need to write, could upset me so I knew I either needed to be sleepy and able to write this and go straight to sleep to avoid the aftermath, or needed to be really happy so that it might not even make a dent in my mood. Turns out, tonight, I’ve got the best of both worlds…

I think I wrote about the event that I dislocated it at actually… It was with my community support providers; Richmond Fellowship and by some strange reason, I was co-chairing their entire event!

A few months before that, in the June, I broke my collarbone whilst play fighting with a family member and didn’t realise that this meant my shoulder was still quite fragile. I don’t think I even turned that much when I heard a ‘pop!’ and felt my eyes tear up as I quickly excused myself from the event and ran to the toilets – the pain was so incredible that I actually felt sick with it.


I can remember practically screaming in the toilets and biting down on my other hand to stop myself from actually going full-on horrific screaming! Luckily, a member of the event team came looking for me after a while and I told her what’d happened. She ran to get help and I suddenly found myself sitting on a chair in the ladies’ toilets with a wet towel on my head and hearing someone speaking to the 999 call centre on a phone nearby. My support worker was stood to one side with our bags (we’d stayed overnight) and one hand on my shoulder, comforting me. My screaming had died down purely because I’d gotten used to the pain and not that it was any less.

It turned out that the local hospital was just around the corner from the event location and it’d be quicker to get a taxi there than wait for an ambulance – the driver, actually, let us have it for free because it was so close!

There wasn’t many people in the A&E department so I was triaged really quickly and rather than be sent back to the waiting room to wait longer for a Doctor, I was rushed straight through for an x-ray.

After it, I saw a Doctor who told me that my shoulder was dislocated, but when it went back in some of my symptoms e.g. the pain and a loss of sensation in my arm, actually got worse. He did a few tests and examinations before determining that my Brachial Plexus Nerve had been affected by the dislocation and that I might now have permanent damage. He wanted to refer me to my local physiotherapy team and since I’d had so much medication, my support worker and I decided to stay in London another night and change our train to the following day because my head was just lolling to one side; I was that tired and ‘out of it!’

I ended up having to attend the Fracture Clinic and have three MRI scans when I returned home to diagnose my Brachial Plexus Nerve injury. I was given a prognosis of 80% full function – with the remaining 20% being purely due to pain.

Since then, I’ve still been in a lot of pain and the biggest impact it’s had has been on my work. I can no longer sit at the laptop typing millions of pages of posts… And do you want to know a secret? That hurts me… Really hurts me.


More recently, (about a week ago, in fact) I turned abruptly in my seat and heard a crunch with the feeling that a guitar string had been… plucked? In my shoulder. I was crying from the pain and decided to pay a visit to A&E. They thought I’d snapped my bicep tendon but then I had my appointment at the Fracture Clinic a week later (yesterday) and they decided that I’d done worse than that. I have a solid lump above my armpit, near my collarbone, and apparently if you’ve broken the tendon then that lump would be in the middle of my upper arm and so the Doctor thinks that the head of the tendon is inflamed. He also thinks I’ve now injured my rotator cuff – one of the seemingly, many(!) parts of your shoulder.

Going into my appointment the other day, I realised that there was every chance that I was going to get emotional and so I warned myself to expect it. I tried to explain to the Doctor that I felt like I hadn’t really talked about my shoulder to anyone and that ten-minute appointment was my first opportunity to do so. I told him that I was considering writing about it because I find it therapeutic and he encouraged the idea and asked for the blog address so perhaps he’s reading this (hi Doctor Jensen!). We also talked about how the scans didn’t show any ‘abnormalities’ in my nerves so I questioned whether this meant it could all be in my head – something I was very worried about because I know that physical pain can often manifest from psychological distress. But he reassured me that there’s definitely an injury to my shoulder and to the Brachial Plexus Nerve and that in the scan reports they’re just finding out whether there’s a blood clot around it or that it’s snapped – the scans don’t show injury to it.

The result of the appointment? Three tests. One ultrasound scan on my rotator cuff, one MRI on my neck to check for trapped nerves, and a nerve conduction test! All in the next two weeks and followed by an appointment with Doctor Jensen for the results in four weeks’ time!



Wish me luck!