Thursday, July 9, 2015

The worst thing about June was not the heat

Hey folks,

June sucked. Not the regular kind of suck. The big time suck. June is usually a good month because of the 4 glorious weeks of school break. This time around, my son's school stole 2 weeks of the school break insisting on conducting regular school hours for those 2 weeks. Thieves! Still I had 2 glorious weeks of school break aka sleeping in.

But that wasn't the real problem. You might remember from my post here that I have tennis elbow. The first polyclinic GP (I call her the googling doctor because she had to google "tennis elbow" to find out how to treat me) prescribed me NSAIDS. These meds were really good. When I took them, the tenderness and soreness were reduced. Unfortunately, it was not permanent. Once my meds ran out, EVERY bit of pain returned.

The googling doctor had referred me to a polyclinic physiotherapist. Now this physiotherapist is a very stubborn man. When I first saw him, he told me I did not have tennis elbow. He was sure my shoulders were the cause. At the time I first saw him, I was in pretty bad shape. I couldn't bend or straighten my arm anymore. The arm rotations he helped me do did loosen up my joints. His "cure" for me was to do 2 very simple shoulder exercises.

Weeks later, I saw no improvement in my elbow. I could bend and straighten but there was still a lot of pain. I went back to the polyclinic for more medication and also to confirm if indeed I did have tennis elbow. This time I was assigned to another GP, someone older and more experienced. This GP confirmed I did have tennis elbow and she said the physiotherapist needs to treat my case as tennis elbow. She believed the shoulder issues were secondary. Anyway, I asked for more NSAIDS and that's when the GP became very angry - the scary angry. She wanted to know why I wanted more NSAIDS and I told her the pain and tenderness came back once the meds ran out. She GRABBED me by the good arm and shook me a little asking very loudly and severely: Do you want to destroy your kidneys? Do you?

I was petrified. No doctor has ever shaken me before. In my fear and confusion, I answered YES.

The doctor was shocked by my answer. She shook me again and said, You want to destroy your kidneys? These medication aren't good for you. You can't take them all the time.

I quickly corrected myself and assured her I don't want to harm my kidneys. Despite all her warning and shaking, she prescribed me the NSAIDS anyway . But I promised her I would take them only if I felt like dying.

I thought about it and I wonder why doctors prescribe kidneys destroying medication? Plus, the googling doctor made no mention of the kidneys destroying side effects. As promised, I only took one tablet because on that day, I did indeed feel like dying. Since then, I haven't touched the medication. (too scared of losing my kidneys; we have two, right?)

I went back to the polyclinic physiotherapist and told him the GP was very sure I have tennis elbow. Much to my surprise, he dismissed what I said totally and told me straight up he would not treat my case as tennis elbow. He couldn't care less what the GP said and explained to me like I'm a very stupid person why I do not have tennis elbow. Maybe I'm a bit dumb because what he said made no sense to me. Firstly, according to him, if I didn't have a shoulder problem, my stiff arm would not have become flexible so easily. Secondly, if I really had tennis elbow, my condition would not have improved so quickly after taking the medication because tennis elbow takes a long time to fix. Finally, he gave me 2 new shoulder exercises and sent me off. Before that, he asked if I wanted to return for a couple more visits or :

I saw no point in continuing to pay and see this idiot. I did make another appointment but I cancelled it later on.

I felt so stranded. I cannot imagine in modern Singapore, a simple case of tennis elbow is impossible to heal.  I struggled for another week and one day I took the plunge and went to a private physiotherapy clinic. I was recommended shock wave therapy. At first I was hesitant because it costs a bomb. I repeat. IT COSTS A BOMB. The alternative was trigger point massage and after calculating the total amount it cost for the number of sessions required for the "cheaper alternative", I found there was only a small difference in savings. So I opted for shock wave therapy. I was told success rate for shock wave therapy was 97%. (notice it's not 100%) There were 6 sessions altogether spread over weeks. I had no idea if shock wave therapy would work. But I was really desperate.

Let me describe shock wave therapy in lay man term. It's like a mini jack hammer hammering at the most painful part of your joints. Bam, bam, bam, over and over, mercilously. I believe this is how soldiers are tortured to extract information. Each therapy (or should I say torture) doesn't last very long as you get 2,000 shots each time. But it feels like neverending. The pain from the jack hammer is much much worse than my elbow pain. One thousand times worse. Oh my god. I cried every single time. And you feel sore as hell afterwards for a day or two. I propose the treatment should be renamed shock wave torture.

So did it work? Yes and no. I feel I am 70% healed. That's a great improvement. But there's still some remnants that are unresolved. I am concerned about that. Everyday I ice my elbow and I do 2 exercises to improve my elbow joints but it's unlikely these exercises and icing will heal the remaining 30%.

So towards the end of June I was feeling quite good as my arm could function close to normal. I still can't use the big vacuum cleaner or scrub the floor but everything else I could do without pain. I finally felt my life was looking up again. Then on 27th June at 11pm, I lost some hearing in my good ear. If you remember, on 21st September last year, the same thing happened which I captured in a post here. That time, the hearing loss was pretty severe and took 3 days to return fully. I notice that on both occasions, my hearing chose to get lost on a weekend when clinics are closed. I remember I was listening to music when it happened. It's like one minute I could hear and the next minute a heatwave swept through my body and I couldn't hear so well anymore. Having experienced it before at a much worse level, I thought I could handle it better this time. I was wrong. I pretty much freaked out as I normally would. I panicked and panicked and was unable to do anything except stay panicked. I just wanted to scream and cry but I suppressed it. Hubs was at work and I didn't want to disturb him. Finally after pacing around for a while, I decided I would go to the A & E at the nearest hospital. My gut feeling was I had a sinus infection again and I wanted anti biotics right away. My girl came along in case my hearing got worse.

The A & E was not crowded but it took 2 hours for me to see a doctor. First thing, the doctor said I had a fever. I had no idea I was running a fever because June was freaking hot every day in Singapore. Feeling hot was the new normal. If sweat wasn't pouring down my neck, back, armpits, butt, chest, okay, every part of my body, then I would have thought I was sick. Anyway, the doctor checked my ear and said my ear drums looked bulging. My ear and face hurt as well. She suspected I had sinus infection and prescribed anti biotics plus something to clear my blocked nose. I reached home at 3am and by then hubs had finished work and was waiting at home for us. I felt really sad and wanted to cry again but I couldn't give myself permission to cry. I was afraid crying would worsen my sinus and make everything worse. So I held it all in and went to sleep. When I woke up, my hearing returned to normal again. Hallelujah!

So it's obvious I need to get my sinus and allergies fixed. Otherwise I suspect I'm going to keep getting episodes of hearing loss. And how many times can you lose your hearing without damaging your hearing cells? The sound of 't' and 'zee' have already been damaged in my good ear from September's loss and I don't want to lose anymore alphabets.

This week, I went to see a ENT doctor and this time I got a subsidized rate. Last September I saw a private ENT doctor and the amount we had to pay was so much it physically hurt me to think about it. I could feed both my kids on that amount for a whole month. This time around, I went for a subsidized doctor because I think sinus and allergies shouldn't be a difficult case for a junior doctor to handle. I really did get assigned a very young doctor. Like a kid. She had very poor listening skills and was texting for a long time after I had sat down beside her. She was also quite clumsy. When she inserted the micro camera into my sinus, I felt for sure I would become the first person to be killed by a ENT doctor's micro camera. She somehow managed to not maim me in any way. Anyway, she suggested I use FLO Sinus & Allergy Relief to wash my sinus. This is something new to me. Has anyone used this? Please let me know if you have and are there any side effects? I'm scared to death of using it but I will give it a go. You're supposed to squeeze salt water through one nostril and have it come out the other nostril. Super gross. What if the water goes into my ear instead? Would that happen? With the haze and hungry ghost festival (lots of joss paper burning) coming up, I really need to protect my sinus.

In September, I will get a prick test. The doctor thinks it's a good idea to know exactly what I'm allergic to. Again, I have some fears. Since I am so super sensitive, I fear I may end up getting hives or other worse reactions. Can you tell I am paranoid?

After June ended I hoped July would be less terrifying. July meant back to school and back to routine. Then last Friday evening my daughter informed me her hearing was blocked. I felt like fainting. My daughter? Hearing loss? I felt I was going insane. Some time later, she confessed her hearing only became blocked after  she had stuck a finger in her ear. What a relief. I immediately shone a torchlight in her bad ear and I could see some weird gooey stuff inside. My first instinct was to get her an appointment with a ENT doctor because based on my years of experience with ear problems, a GP is no bloody good with ears. They have no specialized equipment. She had no pain, no fever, no blocked nose. So I wasn't frightened, just concerned. When my kids were little, both had blocked hearing from time to time. Anyway, I had to wait for Monday when the appointment lines were open. It turned out getting a ENT doctor for a 15 year old is not easy. Only 2 hospitals were willing to take her. One hospital was totally booked but I managed to get her an appointment with a children's hospital ENT clinic. Originally my priorities were screwed. My daughter had to sit for her GCE 'O' levels Oral exam on Tuesday. Since she could still hear, we all decided it was better for her to see the doctor after her exams. So the earliest appointment was on Thursday. On Monday evening, she came home from school and suddenly experienced ringing in her ear. I got so scared because ringing is not a good sign. Sometimes the ringing never goes away. I immediately called the children's hospital to beg for an appointment on Tuesday. With 10 minutes to closing time, I had difficulty getting through. Either I was on hold or my line was dropped. I kept on trying and trying and at 5:58pm, I got a human on the line. The human was sympathethic and got me an appointment the next morning.

Early next morning we went to the ENT clinic and much to our relief, the doctor said my daughter had massive ear shit in both ears. Like epic. Apparently, sticking a finger in the ear pushed the gunk deeper and blocked her hearing. The doctor used a vacuum to suck all the shit out. There was a monitor which showed insde her ear and we could watch the process It was very hard to watch. I shut my eyes. Hubs had no problems watching. Hubs even kept the gunk from the good ear. Originally I wanted to show a photo of it but I think some of you might unfollow me... Anyway, it's BLACK colour, in a ball and quite hardened and there was a lot of it. I may never be able to eat black pearls again. (you get these in bubble tea) Thankfully her hearing was not damaged and the ringing went away. It took a couple of days for her senses to feel normal again. It was quite cute to watch her getting used to hearing normal again. I can hear my footsteps, she would announce. And she didn't even have to postpone her GCE 'O' levels oral exam. By the way, it cost a small bomb for the ENT visit. It's a fraction of my shock wave therapy because that one was a big bomb. Hubs says he hopes no one gets sick anymore.


Christel Goh said...

Hi Jane! You're so brave to have gone for the shock wave therapy.. it sounds so painful :( but it's good that it helped 70%.
I kind of understand how irritating it is when doctors think there's no problem/a different problem, when clearly there is one.

Projects By Jane said...

Hi Christel, after I had experienced my first session, I told hubs I had gone for shock therapy. He couldn't believe his ears and asked me if I was sure it was shock therapy.

Bethany said...

Wow. That is insane. I had to have ear gunk removed once. I was convinced my ear drum came out with it as it hurt so bad but it's amazing the difference afterwards. Every few weeks I put some peroxide in there and let it sit for a few minutes to break up whatever's in there.

My mother uses something similar to your Flo stuff. She says it's not a perfect solution, but it does help.

I don't even want to think about jackhammering an elbow.

Sandra :) said...

My SIL had shock wave therapy for a problem with her heel - I think she said it hurt somewhat, and I don't remember how many treatments she needed (several, I think). It solved her heel problem and it hasn't returned, even years later. I have the same heel problem and will be asking my doctor about it the next time I go in.

I hope you have a boring rest of July, to contrast with all the crap you've been enduring!

Linda said...

Wow, Jane! You have had a rough time! I do hope you are back to normal soon. My husband just read a comment to me that fits your situation pretty well. You"ve probably heard it, but it doesn"t hurt to repeat it in case you haven"t.
"Sometimes I just want someone to hug me and say, I know it's hard. You're going to be okay. Here's $5 million." 😊

Hang in there!!

pennydog said...

Well I'm glad your elbow is on the way to getting better, a lot of the doctors you've spoken to sound like total pricks. I too have a googling doctor and I've had the eating loss due to wax thing. I've not had it back since I was 20 and I had my ears syringed out with hot water (my ears could't get rid of their own wax) so I hope your daughter gets a decade or more problem-free too.

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