Monday, May 14, 2012
Giving My Rib to Adams
We all know the biblical story of God creating Eve from Adam's rib (Genesis 2:21-22). Well, today I am giving my rib to Adams, Dr. Adams. It sounds weird, but in order to hopefully correct my Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) numbness, tingling, burning, pain, loss of circulation, etc down my left (and to a lesser extent, right) arm, my first rib must be removed. TOS (also called brachial plexopathy) is actually common in breast cancer patients. Often patients aren't diagnosed with TOS, but instead "frozen shoulder", for which the first-line treatment is the same: physical therapy. However, in cases like mine, physical therapy helps, but does not entirely eliminate the symptoms of TOS. In addition, my symptoms are of a more troubling sort since there is not only nerve damage and pain present, but also loss of arterial blood-flow.
Unfortunately, much like cancer during pregnancy, TOS (and even "frozen shoulder") is not typically discussed or diagnosed. It has taken me almost two years to get a definitive diagnosis and reasonable treatment plan for what ails me. I've had major surgery (my last reconstruction) out of desperation because of this pain. When I continued to have pain, I sought the specialists in physical medicine, who recommended physical therapy and the utterly painful EMG. After six months of physical therapy, I find myself again going under the knife.