Grandma's having a surgical consultation today to see what can be done about the sudden and excruciating nerve pain in her left arm. She has some really serious chronic pain issues stemming from sciatica, spinal stenosis, an old trapezius muscle tear that happened when I was a little kid and we were too poor to repair our washing machine so we washed clothes at the laundromat and hauled them home in black garbage bags to dry in our dryer (because we were also too poor to afford to wash AND dry at the laundromat) and apparently a body can't carry heaps of wet laundry up many flights of stairs every week without incurring some damage... anyway, long story short, homegirl's a hot mess. At first she was thinking she needed a full shoulder joint replacement, which she had done on her right arm several years ago. But from the way she describes the pain, how it comes on out of nowhere and feels almost electric and is worse in her hand than in her forearm, it sounds like nerve pain, and I don't know that a joint replacement is going to address that very well. I'm hoping it's something as "easy" to fix as carpal tunnel syndrome, because she's also had that surgery on her right arm and it was an outpatient procedure that did a whole lot of good and had a really low recovery time, unlike a joint replacement which would require at least a two week stay in a rehab facility. Medicare doesn't exactly cover a NICE facility, you understand, so... I would rather not have her in a very sad and depressing place for any length of time at all.
The part that is really worrying me right now is how bad the pain is, and how she's reacting to it. She can deal with the chronic pain of all the sciatic nerve stuff, she's been dealing with that for years and has an incredibly high pain threshold as a result. But this is a different kind of pain and it's really rocking her world. She's told me twice now, over the past few weeks, that she understands now why some people with chronic and intractable pain take their own lives. "I was just sitting here looking at my fresh supply of morphine, 90 days worth, and wondering if that would be enough to do it. Not that I would do it, I would never do that to you, but..."
Thing is... the suicide thing? It runs in the family. My uncle, her youngest child, took his own life in August, and I believe her when she says she'd never do that to me, but... my uncle had also promised her that he'd never do that to her, and then he did. When the pain gets to be too much, be it physical or emotional, I guess you sort of forget those promises. Or you think, they'd be better off without me anyway, so.
No disrespect intended toward my uncle, god knows I've turned his whole ugly situation upside down and sideways in my mind trying to understand it and I can empathize with the state of mind that he must have been in when he made that decision. But... I'm pretty sure my grandma's made of sterner stuff than that. At least I hope.