Tomorrow it will have been a week since I had to leave work and rush to the ER.
I've seen an MD and a neurologist... twice. I've completed a full round of steroids. I've had my nerves shocked... literally. I've had needles poked into the muscles of my hand, forearm, bicep, triceps, shoulder, back and neck. I've had my hand locked in a brace.
... and the result of all of this? No answers... and things are now worse.
What started as pain and numbness in my right hand, with occasional pain in my right forearm - has now become excruciating pain, pins & needles and burning sensations throughout my entire right arm and hand... right shoulder... neck... right hip... right leg... right foot...
My hand is all but useless to me. I can't write. I can't hold my SLR camera... it's too heavy. I can use my compact camera, but I can't feel the shutter... and have no control over the pressure - so I'm pressing the shutter without wanting too... and not pressing it when I want to. I can type... but not for long - and I'm constantly having to go back and correct things.
I can't sleep at night. I get electric shock sensations down my neck and back... and my leg just randomly jerks and kicks. When I move my arm it feels like a rubber-band snaps inside. I can't sleep... and I'm freakin' exhausted!
The nerve and muscle tests told us very little. The "issue" is not in my arm or hand or leg. What is going on in those places is just the result of something else - but no one knows what that "something else" is! The neurologist says it's either a brain issue... or an upper spinal-cord issue. He wants me to have the MRI - but there apparently are no openings, and we're having a hard time getting it booked. But even when it does happen... will it tell us anything?
In the meantime I'm stuck with muscle-relaxers that make me so out of it I'm completely useless... and weak pain-killers that just don't help at all. I can't work... I can't really do anything! Thankfully I have wonderful bosses and co-workers who know what is going on and are supportive... but it just makes me feel even more horrible that I'm not able to be there and that everyone else is having to cover my work... my ass.
I'm so freakin' sick of the pain!
I feel like I'm stuck in some tangled mess... not able to free myself...
Actually, I'm feeling worse. The pain and numbness that was just in my right hand is now flowing throughout my right leg as well. The "cold" sensation went away... but now I'm getting "burning" sensations. (I'd rather have the cold!)
Tomorrow I go to the neurologist for an EMG muscle/nerve test...
... but today, I just need to get out of the house and distract my mind.
So I'm sitting at Molten Java sipping a Mocha from an oversized mug...
We're in Chicopee, Massachusetts today for my daughter's dance competition. Had to hit the road by 6am in order to be here in time. After two dances we finally get a break, and can head over to the historic Al's Diner for a late breakfast.
I love diners... especially old, historic diners. Al's has been around for over 50 years now. A small... classic... "rail-car" style diner. Just a few booths... and some stools at the counter. Short-order cook working on a grill in full view. Coffee... eggs... the smell of bacon filling the place... a countertop worn down where thousands of plates have rested... friendly people... conversation.
A wonderful breakfast... a wonderful day.
My daughter went on to earn four "High-Gold" and two "Platinum" trophies for her six dances.
My right hand has been "cold" since Friday. This morning it switched from "cold" to "cold and numb" to "cold and numb with pins and needles".
Then my forearm started to go numb... then more pins and needles.
Then my upper arm.
Then shooting bursts of pain throughout my arm... ending in my fingers.
Then no feeling in my hand.
Tried to write... but my thumb and forefinger couldn't control the pen... so it just came out as scribbled gibberish.
Called the doctor... and he said to get to the ER immediately.
Worried that with my heart history it might be clots... or a stroke.
Waiting in the ER.
Things are busy here today!
A man reeking of cigarettes comes in complaining that he can't breathe.
A pregnant woman comes in complaining that her ass hurts.
An old woman fell on Friday... but decided not to come in until today.
One of the downtown crack-hos comes in speaking all sorts of crazy... goes through triage... sits for a while... then runs out.
Holly arrives... and we wait.
They call us in... but there are no rooms or beds... so they put me on a gurney in the hallway.
A nurse comes... has me try to squeeze her fingers. Apparently I can do it find with my left hand... can't do it with my right.
She leaves... and we wait.
A woman down the hall is screaming.
An old woman in a bed near me starts complaining about how she doesn't need to go to a nursing home.
All hell breaks loose when a Trauma code gets called... and there are no free stretchers. Turns out a young girl was hit by a car after getting off a school bus. Some girl was talking on her cell phone while driving... and just hit her.
Doctors running around...
Women wearing boots clicking their way down the hallway.
I'm still waiting...
Grab my iPhone and snap a few shots of the hallway.
Things begin to calm down a bit... and the doctor comes. Kind of cute... and with the same name as a famous broadway composer.
Checks me out... worried it might be a stroke, but not all of the signs are there.
Same squeeze test - can do it with my left hand... not my right.
Check... Test... Thought.
All signs point to nerve damage and inflammation.
Steroids and Muscle Relaxers...
Need to go to a specialist in two days for nerve testing.
Nurse comes to settle information, and hits my leg with the computer cart.
Have to sign the little computer thing... but can't seem to hold the pen right.
In ancient times, the Cornicello was worn by followers of the Roman/Italian Goddess of the Moon. Some say that originally this was the Italic Goddess Mephites... and later the Goddess Diana (known as "Artemis" in Greece). Meant to resemble the curved horn of the African Eland (all horned animals were viewed as sacred to the Moon Goddess) - the Cornicello, which means "Little Horn" is traditionally carved from red coral (coral, coming from the ocean - whose tides are ruled by the Moon).
When Christianity took over, some began to associate the Cornicello with the Virgin Mary - a natural progression, as she took up the role of the Goddess to many Pagans.
Regardless of it's origin and associated deities, the Cornicello, or - more simply, "Corno" - has been worn by Italians for protection, and to ward off both the Evil Eye, and Evil Spirits for centuries.
Simple traditions... uniting new with old... present with past... descendant with ancestor.
One thing you might not know about me is that Photography is only a small part of how I express myself creatively. Long before taking up photography I was most likely to take up a sketching pencil... an ink pen... or a paint brush.
My favorite medium - other than Photography - would be mixed-media collage work (which, to me, also includes some found-object construction/sculpture). In fact, for a big chunk of my artistic life, Collage was my preferred medium... and I'd work on projects every single day, much as I do now using a camera and a laptop.
Graphite... Colored Pencils... Ink... Acrylic Paints... Photographs... Magazines... Newspapers... Found Objects - all found their way onto my work table... onto sheets of Bristol Board paper... or on the pages of hard-covered sketchbooks, where they'd be paired with poetry or essays (two more of my creative outlets).
And so tonight I find myself pouring through three such notebooks...
I find myself "remembering"...
... and asking myself "Why the hell did you stop doing this?".
I stopped shortly after the birth of our second child... using excuses such as "It's just too hard to find the time"... or "I simply don't have the 'oomph' to do it." (I was a full-time stay-at-home dad at that point... taking care of a toddler and an infant).
I'm in a bar in Stamford... celebrating my Sis' 40th Birthday.
A few games of pool...
Guinness and Sam Adams...
Watching hot women play pool...
More Guinness and Sam Adams...
Did I mention the women playing pool?
More Guinness (I'm done with the Sam Adams)...
A barfly in her 50s... bleach-blonde mullet hair... overly tanned skin... tight gray jeans... boots... a low-cut shirt... lots of silver jewelry... a smoker's voice - taps me on the shoulder and asks me to dance. I politely say "Thank you... but no".
I laugh it off... and go back to the pool room. The barfly soon follows and corners me again... slurring her words... asking me to go to the band and dedicate "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton to her. My wife and everyone else stands laughing as this woman hits on me.
And I ask myself: How the hell did I get to THIS point!?!
It doesn't seem THAT long ago that I'd have younger... much, much more attractive girls (and sometimes boys) hitting on me every time I'd go to a bar. But now it's this, is it?
Finish my Guinness... say our goodbyes... and head home.
A wonderful night of celebration... and realizations...
I have a pocket watch that I bought almost 20 years ago from a Russian vendor at a flea market. It has the Russian Imperial Crest on the lid... and an image of St. George slaying the dragon on the reverse...