I get a little blasé about dislocating joints. Simple dislocations are pretty simple reductions and pain is just in a different category altogether which makes it irrelevant to this discussion. Some are worse than others, ribs worse than fingers, shoulders are worse than kneecaps, wrists worse than shoulders. I have a little list in my head of grading how serious it is and how much down time it’s going to require. The list is affected by both joint type as well as frequency. Once I dislocate a joint, it destabilizes for a while and recurrent dislocations require less downtime, as fingers require less downtime than say, vertebrae.
Over the last twelve months I’ve changed tactics. In the past, the aim was to reduce dislocations, but now the aim is to reduce down time. Joints are going to dislocate and it’s not a battle I can win. However, I can’t see why I have to spent six weeks in a splint when 12 hours will do. I can’t see why I can’t just put it back in and keep going when whatever I do, it’s going to dislocate again within a few hours. And so the plan has changed. So far so good. I’ve been blogging virtually every day for the last few months, I’ve logged into warcraft with amazing regularity and have been able to spend 3-5 nights a week running instances or raiding. That’s a good statistic.
It really ruined my night and track record when I dislocated my shoulder last night. Silly cat for asking to be picked up whilst I’m on the phone and even sillier me for not thinking and just doing it. I haven’t done it for a while and so it was hell to get back in, particularly as the weight that fit around my wrist a month ago is now to big and required readjustment. You try adjusting little straps whilst your shoulder is out. It isn’t fun. It took more than an hour to get it back in. Just to have Chris accidentally pop it out again this morning by pressing on it a little too hard. No big deal, Chris can put it back in expertly. And it buys me time a day or two before I need to think about the possibility of it happening again. Imagine my surprise when I dislocated it again this evening. I stayed calm, fetched the weights that is now the correct size and was very annoyed when I strapped it on, dangled my arm over the edge of the couch to hear a weird crunchy noise at my wrist. Hmmm… Took off the weights to discover that I’ve dislocated my wrist in a new, weird and awkard way. I’m pretty sure your ulna is not suppose to move sideways at that angle at all. Scratch that. I’m very sure.
Panic mode set in. Dislocated shoulder and dislocated wrist. Fantastic start to the evening. I tried to put it back a few times, but no luck. New dislocation means I don’t know how to get back in. Catch Chris on MSN with “dislocated shoulder. trying to put it back in with weights. dislocated wrist. can’t get either back in. panicking” I cry over the phone whilst he researches and make desperate suggestions. The conversation goes like this:
Chris: Just relax and let it slip back in.
Panicky noises from me, frantic as I can’t get it back in.
“Hm” from Chris: Press the bone until its laid out normally then? just sort of push it back into place maybe
Me: it won’t move
Chris: Can you move the rest of your wrist in someway so it does move?
Me: nope. hence panicking
Chris: Okay. Relax. panicking isn’t going to help. okay if it won;t push straight in will it do do if you twist? will it move sideways and in?
Chris: ok. okay. It sounds like you’ve got it hung up or jammed somehow. Do you know what movement you were making when it went this way?
Me: trying to put my shoudler in which is still out btw the weight i hang on my arm did it
Chris: Its a little hard to suggest without seeing, but maybe some sort of lift and move? Get it in and bind it somehow to stop it going out.
Me: give me a few minutes. I’ll figure it out.
It’s at this moment in time that I realize that I am all alone. And I don’t mean it in an emotional sense. I mean it in a purely practical and physical sense. Nobody is around to fix this for me. I could try to go down to A&E, but then again, I’m pretty sure nobody can fix it better than I/Chris can. I used to go down to A&E a lot more than I do now. It was rarely a helpful or positive experience. The vast majority of emergency room doctors do not know enough about EDS to be able to help. A significant quantity also still panic over trauma. The biggest drawback however is time. By the time I get to the hospital, it’s 30 – 60 minutes after. By the time I actually see someone it’s anything from 30 minutes to 10 hours. I’m not waiting hours with a dislocated joint. Every minute it’s out makes it worse. And I’m tired of trying to explain that I dislocated my shoulder picking up the cat and dislocated my wrist putting back my shoulder. There’s always the furrowed brow and frenzied look. The ‘that’s impossible expression’ which changes on examination when my body does weird and freaky things to the freaked out look I’m sure most docs thought they left behind with med school. Wanna see my thumb dislocate doc? I can do that one on demand if you need proof? No? Panicking a little now? No worries, I’ll be your learning curve.
Most importantly, I hate the attention A&E departments bestow on me. I’ve spent the vast majority of my life hiding as much of this as possible. I don’t like being scrutinized and urged to stay overnight which then often becomes a week or two or three. I don’t like have to tell or have Chris tell family and friends that I’m in hospital. Somehow, that makes it more serious for people and then they feel obliged to offer support. I don’t want crisis mode and neither does anybody else. So I sit on the couch, listening to Damien Rice’s album “O” trying to calm myself down enough so I can actually tell what’s going on in my wrist. It it at this point that I realized that nobody can really help. Chris doesn’t know what to do with a new dislocation either. He can experiment but I’d rather he didn’t. In this moment in time, there is just me, my wrist, my shoulder and pain. I let myself feel it, loose myself in it and shortly after the waves of dispair hit, I can suddenly feel where the muscles and bones are and where they should be. It’s an awkard fix to sort of get it back in, but I manage at least that. Chris calls back thirty minutes later and asks how I’m doing. “Fine”, I say, “I’m okay.” I hang up once he realizes that I mean it and sit on the couch contemplating what to do next.
The last six weeks has been pretty manageable. Dislocations have been pretty straightforward and I’ve been able to carry on with a fairly fixed routine regardless. Tonight’s issues were neither straightforward nor manageable. It taken the best part of three hours to fix things enough so that I can move my wrist enough to maybe be able to fish a little. What does this mean for Warcraft and raiding? I’m not sure. I think it means that I owe the people I play with regularly advanced warning. At minimum. I think it means that if I want to make friends in the game I have to learn to be less secretive. Keeping secrets are not always advantageous. I am not my genetic quirk, but it is a tremendously big part of who I am and as such, hiding is just cowardly.
I wish I could say that dislocations were the hardest part of my evening, but the hardest part is the few hours afterwards. It’s like the clock resets itself and I start from the bottom yet again. I don’t know what my wrist will be doing over the next few days. I don’t know if my shoulder or rib will stay put and it’s a sad place to be, alone with my thoughts. But then there’s warcraft and the people I play with and good music and then, there is always fishing in Grizzly Hills.