A Note on my Absence

First of all I would like to thank everyone for their patience while I have been MIA. I want to briefly go into why I have not been online or updating my websites, blog or Facebook pages.

In the summer of 2014 I was injured on a bungee ride. It did not seem serious directly after the incident. But within a few minutes of leaving the ride I felt the pain, mostly in both hands up my arms and into my shoulders and crossing my chest and upper back. After speaking with the personnel I decided to give it aa few days to see if it was just muscle sprains or such.

Over a couple of weeks I noticed healing. However pain in my dominant arm remained. I had to wait for my eligibility for the newly instated Affordable Healthcare Act to see a reasonable healthcare professional (I said it this way because the healthcare I was used to, without insurance, was unreasonable, unreliable and often utterly inappropriate) so I stuck it out and as soon as I found out I could apply for the AHA early I did and was able to see an Orthopedic Surgeon.

Over the next year I went through multiple tests, MRIs, injections and physical therapy. Sometimes these would help but for a limited extent and time. I struggled with constant debilitating pain, loss of sensation and use of my arm/hand, increased depression and insomnia. I changed jobs multiple times because of the pain and inability to use my arm. I had to quit school and field school. I had surgery on my shoulder where it seemed the pain steamed from. I felt better and almost back to normal for nearly two months then it all returned. Though, I admit, there were benefits to the shoulder surgery. The pressure in the joint was relieved, the stabbing pain in the joint was gone and I regain a bit of use in the arm/hand and the range of motion increased and I no longer had to sleep with multiple pillows under my arm, back etc, I still needed one between my arm and my body.

However the overall pain was still there along with decreased use of arm/hand. Now we are into year two of the injury. I had to quit school and field school again. I dropped things constantly, struggled with even holding a pen, I would have a delayed response of cuts or burns I received on the arm (which happened often when I worked as a cook during this time) if I ended up feeling the cut or burn at all. These are only a few of the complaints and issues I experienced but the ones that occurred daily. I stopped doing most of the things I enjoyed, even going to the movies hurt. I will be completely candid and say that by this point the depression was deeply severe.

My orthopedic surgeon decided to do an X-ray of my neck since at the time of the injury I noted stiffness in my neck and entire back but the pain was in my upper body and arms, but all had dissipated by the time I first saw him. He was curious and ordered the X-ray. We discovered my neck was nearly straight and there was damage to a few of the discs in my neck. More tests, injections and physical therapy.

When the pain remained he decided to send me to another specialist. To be brutally honest at this point I was just going to the doctors so no one new what was really going on in my head, I had so much pain and enjoyed few things now, had to give up my passion and dreams and so much that the depression had strangled me. Again I will be brutally honest, I had begun to plan for the end of my life, I did not want to live without what I loved or made me happy and I definitely did not want to live in pain.

(I am sorry if it makes anyone uncomfortable but I want to end the stigma of depression and pain and ultimately suicide. Plus it will help many understand why I have been mostly absent these past three years. One could check the dates from any work I did do and look at my medical records and see that the work usually coincides with when I went through another treatment and felt better for aa short time.)

The new specialist ran his own tests and within six months he had sent me to Neurologist.

We are now into the current year. The Neurologist decided upon surgery and within a month and a half I was fixed. Of the discs damaged there was one that was the most problematic, it was bulging to the extent that it was pushing my spinal cord out of the way, no spinal fluid remained in the area and said disc had a cluster (? If that I what they are called) of nerves pinned. The surgery he performed removed this disc completely and replaced it with an artificial disc.

I remember the surgery so well, it gave me another chance. I work up after surgery and at first the pain seemed extreme and I was very sick from the pain medicine. Within five hours after waking up I began refusing the pain medicine because now I only felt like I had a stiff and achy neck. I nearly cried when I started to eat because I took the fork in my hand and I could feel the fork and I knew I had a good grip on it whereas before I seemed to have to literally watch my hand so I could concentrate on what I was doing and readjust my grip if I saw my hand loosening grip. I felt it easier to sit up straight and keep my posture (before I began slumping, especially the shoulder). I felt the fog lift, I literally felt as if my mind had been in a fog for the past few years, partly due to the depression but now I understand that it is because of this disc slowly starving my brain and nervous system).

I could go on and on about the wonderful changes since this last surgery. I will say I do have some difficulties still and aches but that is better than the severe pain, depression and little use of arm. I may regain full use of my arm or at least increased use as the nerves that were released from the bulging disc continue to heal.

The outlook is definitely better than it was at this time last year. It is insane how life can change in a moment, especially a moment that initially was thrilling and seemed like a minor thing. And the fact that the pain I have been in for the past three years, that kept me from going to school(I would be in my last year now) and Egypt and beginning my career, was caused by such a small thing and said thing did not have any pain itself, I mean I never really noticed any issue in my neck but the disc was causing pain in my arm because it had the nerves pinned! Isn’t it amazing how the body works and connects?

Anyway spinal surgery was back in May and I am doing so much better (with the shoulder surgery the pain returned within two months) I do occasionally become frustrated because there are changes that will not be reversed but the pain is gone and that is what matters. I may not be able to do field work as much as I had dreamt of doing once before but I will now be able to follow my career and passion in other ways, before this option was not even really on the table.

This is a long note and I said I would be brief, believe me this is a brief on what I have been through. I do have some difficulties with the arm/hand, I do have aches (but no pain!), the depression is still there (but greatly decreased), my brain has changed as well (the thought process and recall, to be specific. Apparently some amount of trauma from the accident occurred or damage due to the bulging disc pressing on my spinal cord or both. It is hard to tell or pinpoint. It is difficult to get the doctors to investigate, it may be enough for me to notice but not enough to warrant research, aka not serious enough in their opinion) and I will have to make some changes but I definitely can see a future and will not give up.

I hope all that read this will now understand why I have neglected my websites, Facebook pages and blog for the past few years. And if you know me personally now maybe you will have a better understanding, especially if you have noticed any of the changes in me but was not completely sure of what was going on.

I hope to continue my work and to make it all work out. Not many people find their true passion. I was lucky enough to find mine at a very young age, I thought I had it taken away from me three years ago when I had it at my finger tips. But now I am back on track, though a slightly different track but it is still leading to Egypt. Just goes to prove that my journey into Egyptology truly is an odyssey.

Thank you for reading!

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