The State of the Paul

My elbows are hurting much more than usual. The pain level has been rising for weeks now, so I suspect al the extra exercise is doing me harm. Hopefully all it will take is scaling it back.

I’ve been sneezing a lot today. I think I’m catching what Vicki’s got.

Work still sucks.


I didn’t sleep last night. My elbows were killing me, and I had a very acid stomach. As a matter of fact, sometime around breakfast time I figured out there might be a common cause – if I didn’t take enough water with my evening Aleve, it doesn’t go down all the way and gives me acid and doesn’t help my joints. On top of that I’m tired as hell. I couldn’t get comfortable all night – my legs were always cold and my trunk was always too hot. And I had a bunch of stuff running around my head.

Right now I’m not 100% sure if I’m going to have explosive diarrhea or vomit. So I’ve come home. Maybe I can get some sleep.

Sleep study

A few weeks ago, I had a sleep study. They wire you up with a bazillion wires and tubes, put you in a sterile room on an uncomfortable bed, and then say “sleep normally”. The reason for the study is that sometimes lack of sleep, especially because of apnea, is sometimes related to sensitivity to pain.

Today, I got the results. Highlights include

  • It took me only 14 minutes to fall asleep, but over 180 minutes to first get to REM sleep, and I didn’t get very much REM sleep over the course of the night
  • I experienced “arousal” (not sexual arousal, they just mean I wasn’t properly asleep any more an average of 38 times per hour
  • The “arousals” were closely correlated to snoring and some apnea, and are the probable reason for the lack of REM sleep

Upshot is that I’m going to get a “CPAP” machine for a few weeks to see if it helps.

Well, the disappointment didn’t take long in coming

Today, I got my second appointment with the new neurologist. After spending 3 hours absorbing the magic healing rays that are evidently given off by an empty exam room and a rack full of magazines that don’t interest me, (broken up by 15 minutes answering questions from a different PA than last time, most of which were already in my file), I got to see the doctor. And he did the physical exam that I’m already too familiar with, having had it more times than I can count, involving moving my kneecap around, pressing on my legs and knees, and all that shit, only to hear the all-too-familiar word “chondromalacia”. Yup, the same diagnosis[1] that I’ve had since I was 15. And since we’re on the endless repeat cycle, I know what’s going to come next – some barely effective anti-inflammatory pills and some physiotherapy that makes the problem far worse.

I might as well forget it – I’m never going to be pain free, and even a reduction in pain or a reduction in the amount of increase in pain over time is too much to hope for. Trying a new doctor has been a complete waste of time, and used up even more of my ever dwindling bag of hope. It’s times like this I wonder how much more of this pain I can stand before I just have to end it all.

Meanwhile, I took some drug that he wanted me to try last night, and woke up feeling sleepy, mildly nauseated and headachy. The PA referred to it as a “hangover”, I assume in a medical sense just meaning a side effect that carries on the next day, but that’s exactly what it felt like, like I’d tied one on last night. And after the 3.5 hour doctor’s appointment (plug half an hour travel time each way) made me two hours late for lunch, I was really feeling sick. I was seriously considering just going home and lying down on the bed and crying for the rest of the day. But instead I grabbed some lunch, and after a few hours I can almost look at a computer screen without feeling like I’m going to barf. I still feel like crying.

[1] Wikipedia says “chondromalacia” isn’t a diagnosis, just a description of the pain. Big fucking deal – it also says the usual treatment is anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy, and “treatment of any underlying cause of the pain”. Well, since nobody has ever discovered the underlying cause of the pain, after X-Rays, MRIs, and arthroscopic surgery, that comes back to the same treatment plan that’s been tried and failed a dozen times already.