Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Reason Al Gore Sucks

Wherein: Finally!

In my last post I stated that Al Gore sucks and Global Warming rules. Now for some explanation.

From July 2000 until August 2003 my wife and I lived in Baltimore, Maryland. Given that I had previously lived my entire life (from conception!) in Florida, and that my wife had lived her life in similar climes, this was a BAD IDEA. But necessity (i.e., jobs) forced us north.

In February of 2003, Baltimore was hit by the biggest snow storm in recorded Baltimore history. Over 28 inches of snow fell over President's Day weekend, on top of several other inches that were still on the ground from the previous weekend. We lived on the northwest side of Baltimore in a townhouse in Reisterstown, so we probably had closer to 36 inches than 28.

Unfortunately for me, we had bought a second car the previous December. This meant that when the snow stopped I had to dig two cars out of the snow bank. Worse yet, the parking lot was at the bottom of an embankment, which meant we had to shovel the snow UP the embankment.

Around mid-day on Monday, everyone in the complex that had a shovel came out, and we started to dig. We spent several hours moving that frozen water up hill. At the end of the day, my right arm and shoulder were sore. I thought nothing of it. After all, I was a desk jockey and not prone to great physical exertion.

As the weeks passed the pain and weakness only got worse. At the start of April I finally went to a doctor. I got referred to an orthopedic specialist fairly quickly. He determined that it was probably a small tear in my rotator cuff, and he put me on a physical therapy routine. (An MRI to confirm the diagnosis would have been nice, but my insurance company insisted that I had to do everything up to and including an arm transplant before they would pay for one. Bastards!)

The therapy worked, sort of. The pain eased, strength returned, and so the therapy ended. I could have followed up, I should have followed up, because the pain never went away completely. But after that big snow storm we had had enough. So I spent the summer (clandestinely) looking for work in Florida instead of worrying about my bum shoulder.

I finally got a job back in Florida, and we moved back in September. For most the next three years, I just ignored my shoulder and arm. Sometimes it would get worse, and sometimes it would get better, but the pain never went away. I decided this spring that when work slowed down in the summer that I would finally get it checked out.

But during the busiest part of the work year, the pain suddenly became almost unbearable. So I finally went to another doctor last June. She quickly figured out that the problem wasn't with my shoulder, it was with my neck. She referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. Seven weeks later I finally got to see the ortho. Looking at x-rays, he surmised that I had probably damaged the disk between between my C-5 and C-6 vertebrae, that damage had never healed, and that bone was now growing between them. This situation would aggravate the nerves and potentially my spinal cord. (This also explain why pain killers never worked.) An MRI a week later confirmed that the doctor had surmised correctly, and that there was additional damage between C-6 and C-7.

Unfortunately, this condition is permanent. The disk will never repair itself, and the bone growth will always be there. But I do have three treatment options.

First, I have started a physical therapy routine designed to strengthen my neck and shoulders. This routine coupled with better posture should ease the pain and hopefully prevent things from getting worse. The second option is cervical epidural injections. Steroids would be injected into the epidural space in the damaged region. These injections can provide pain relief for weeks or even months at a time. Plus, steroids so I can Hulk up on 'roid rage!

The third option is ye olde spinal fusion. An incision would be made on the front of my neck, the damaged disk would be removed and bone graft would be inserted into that space. Eventually the bones would all grow together and I'd have one gigantic vertebra in my neck along with several normal sized ones. Unfortunately, this procedure leaves a very tiny scar on the front of the neck. I had hoped for a big, ugly, Frankenstein Monster-type scar, but no such luck.

For now, I'm just doing therapy. Less than two full weeks in I can already feel improvement. My neck and shoulder feel better. But now that I'm not focused on that pain, I'm realizing that my elbow feels like the funny bone is getting continuously whacked. Still, it is improvement. However, if I'm this decrepit at 38 I can't help but think that a spinal fusion lies in my future.

Which brings me to Al Gore and Global Warming. If we had more Global Warming there would be less snow. This implies less snow shoveling. Since shoveling snow leads to broken necks, snow is bad. Therefore Global Warming must be a Good Thing. And everyone knows that Good Things rule. You can tell by the capitalization and the bold font.

But Al Gore opposes Global Warming. Therefore Al Gore wants more snow, and by implication more broken necks, more pain, and more suffering. (I'll bet his fat ass never shovels snow. He leaves that for the little people while flying around in private jets and driving SUVs. Environmentalist my ass.) I'm not certain why Al Gore wants more broken necks (although I'm working on a few theories), but he clearly does. Therefore he sucks.

Really, it's all very simple.

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