So again, it’s been a while. While I was on leave there really wasn’t much update on the PhD, so I haven’t really had anything to write about, this post will be about what has happened during the leave and the last month or so while being back to work. This post is gonna be quite medical-heavy, but as this is pretty much part of my daily life, it would be hard to ignore.
The leave was good, I went to the gym, I felt stronger and up until March everything was actually going really well and I was ready to return to work 1st of April.
Unfortunately the pain in my back came back, and it set off my leg, so for after 2 weeks of debilitating backpain I started getting nerve-pain going from my hip down the leg, through the knee and continue to underneath my foot. As you might imagine, that was pretty horrible. I kept thinking it was going to go away and since I had an appointment with my pain doctor next week, I would just wait until then.
Unfortunately it just got worse and worse. I couldn’t fall asleep and I woke up a couple of times a night from the pain. When I finally saw my doctor he reprimanded me for not having seen him quicker and he quickly located the problem and arranged an ultrasound a few hours later. I got the results the next day and apparently the bursa in my shoulder was super inflamed, which was causing the pain in my back, because the muscles were being weird and that then set off my leg, because my body automatically things that when anything is wrong, it is the leg and that is where pain goes, so I got a steroid injection the next day.
As some of you might know, a steroid injection is great at helping with inflammation, but it is also pretty painful for the first week or so before it actually kicks in, so I had another week of not feeling great.
But knowing exactly where the problem was and where to put ice, helped me relax my hip enough to be able to click it back in place (HSD/ehlers-danlos, basically the same stuff anyway just a matter of heritability), which finally took away the pressure on the nerve that had been locked in place for what felt like forever and I finally had a good nights sleep.
As I am me and my body pretty much sucks, this of course didn’t last forever. 2 weeks after the injection my back and shoulder started acting up again. I went to see my pain doctor the next day, because I had learned my lesson (even my therapists told me off and we set up a plan for how many days I am allowed to be in pain before I take action and see one of my many, many doctors). He was pretty perplexed, and told me that it is not supposed to react like that. So I got an MRI of the shoulder to make sure there wasn’t a tear or something and it came back clean.
So basically what had happened was that my shoulder went ‘wait, you fixed the inflammation, that’s weird. I’m just gonna let this muscle spasm out, so out don’t forget what pain feels like now that you’ve had a few weeks off). So yeah, one of the muscles in my back had started spasming. So up with the pregablin, on with a lidocaine patch and up with the diazepam. I must admit, I was pretty stoned for the days to follow, but things were settling down, even if it made me completely unable to do any work, as stoned and academic articles just doesn’t really work together.
As you can imagine after this go, my physical level of strength is pretty much.. well, non-existent. The exercises my physio has prescribed me include standing up against a wall and doing 3 sets of 5 shrugs.. yes, shrugs. No weight added, it is as low-level as it sounds. But the thing is, that makes my muscles tired. I have literally nothing left and I have to start from absolute scratch.
And now you guys might think, ‘oh well, at least that is all sorted and things will get better with physio’. I know I did. But alas, my body doesn’t like not being messed up in some way for too long. So six days after the MRI of my shoulder, my foot started messing up. When I tried to put weight on it, it felt like it was going to shatter. So out with the good old crutches and hobble onto the doctor. It was something about a tendon being too tight (seriously, every tendon and ligament in my body are loose and now one of them decides to be too tight!) and putting on some bones making them sit on top of each other of rubbing against each other or something. He showed me pictures and gave me names, I think you get the general gist.
I got booked in with my favourite orthopaedic surgeon the following week and where ever she touched in my foot it was just a mess. Or, as she said it, everything is just quite angry in there. So I got sent for an MRI of the foot and ankle to see if I needed surgery (i.e. if it was something that could be fixed).
I got the results yesterday. There is nothing seriously wrong. A bunch of little injuries that we already knew about. The CRPS (chronic regional pain syndrome) is gone. The reason why I am in so much pain is because of the weakness of the muscles in my foot, my calf on the bad leg is half the size of the other one and because of my medical history. Any tiny change in my foot, such as a tightening of a tendon, will feel like a fracture or a torn ligament (which is interesting because when I fractured my ankle, when I got run down by a toddler on a bicycle a few years ago, I felt pain, but I kept walking on it for a week or so).
There is nothing they can do other than manage the pain. I have to do the rehabilitation and try and avoid new injuries. And if everything goes to plan I should be ‘back to normal’ in a years time… so.. yeah.. that was.. hard to hear. Harder to accept. A year is a long time.. and with my luck it will keep being delayed because of new injuries.
Anyway, on the PhD front. I have been back to work for a month now. Done pretty much nothing because I didn’t even know where to start, what to read or what to do. Meetings with my supervisors kept being postponed because of my medical stuff, being stuck in bed and so on, but last week I finally saw them.
And I told them that after the first year of the PhD (so when the MPhil changes to PhD) I don’t want to continue. That brings me up to December, by which time I definitely want to have relocated to my home country anyway. MY changing it from a 3 year project to a 1 year one (or 7 months really) made things easier. It means that I can continue working on the dataset I have worked on for the last 4 years and actually get it finished, maybe even ready for publication. We agreed on meeting every week to make sure I can manage the workload and I don’t take on too much and to ensure that I keep the coding as simple as possible. But already I have to miss the first two of these meetings as I have been put on sick leave for another 10 days.
So yeah, pretty long update, but I hope to be able to write a bit more frequently in the future.
Oh also, I have started looking for jobs in my home country and have had a few interviews, but don’t know the outcomes yet, so keep your fingers crossed for me!