Electromyograms Y’all

chronic pain EMGToday was my EMG. I’ll get right to the good stuff and let you know that, as predicted by the neurologist a few months back, it was completely worthless. Okay, those might be my words. I distinctly remember him saying to me, “We can do an EMG, but it could be painful and I am 99.9% positive it won’t show anything.”

I didn’t originally schedule the test because 1) I am in so much medical debt right now, and 2) fuck more pain. Still, my primary doctor seemed to want that test checked off the list last time I complained about my predicament. So this morning I played the good little patient and let them shock me and stick needles in my muscles for no goddamn reason.

I’m not frustrated with either my primary physician or the neurologist, if that’s how I’m coming off. I truly believe they’re doing the best they can with what they’ve got (unlike the rheumatologist from hell). I’m really just frustrated with my situation. With the 15 months of tests and labs that tell me as much about what’s going on with my body as the fortune cookies at China Wok.

I realize that I might one day be forced to accept the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, but I’m not there yet. Still so much to rule out. And most of those things have no straightforward path to diagnosis.

My EMG Experience  

For anyone wondering what it’s like to sit through an EMG, here’s how my morning played out. 

The test is basically conducted in two stages. First you get shocked with this wand thing by some kind of medical technician; then the doctor comes in and sticks needles in your muscles.

I was initially convinced that the needles would be the worst part of the test, but I was wrong. Couldn’t even feel those fuckers! The shocks were disconcerting at best and painful at worst. It depended on how high she cranked the juice. Right arm and hand, right leg and foot. It took a while to get through all of that, and then she went to get the doctor for the needle part of the test.

I wasn’t impressed with the doctor who did the testing (she was not the neurologist I originally saw, for the record). She walked in the room and ignored my “hello.” She continued talking with the tech like I wasn’t even there, “I know, but there’s no way. It’s just a false positive.”

“I know, but I tried until I turned blue.”

Perhaps I should’ve pressed what that was all about, but I really didn’t give a shit. She put needles in three different leg muscles and told me to move this way or that way with my leg after each placement. “Looks good. I don’t even need to do the arms. You’re fine.”

Sitting here now, I’m thinking to myself. Am I paying for you to do the fucking arm? Then do the fucking arm! But in the moment I was just as happy to put my shoes and socks back on and go outside. Today’s weather was gorgeous.

Eight Hours Later

Going to doctors’ offices and hospitals is stressful, so sitting here this evening I’ve got an insane headache and I’m physically exhausted. I feel some residual effects of the shocks in my right hand. It’s tingly, like my nerves are recalling the trauma from early in the day. That jibes. What’s odd is that I also feel it in my left hand, which was not tested.

But as I’ve been saying for some months now, my nerves are freaking whacked out, yo! Every last one of them sends frivolous pain signals to my brain, so why not a little tingling too?

That’s it for now. Until next time.



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Need Help: Please Send Yoga Pants and Tapioca Pudding

yoga pantsIf nothing else, I’m in a better mood than the last time I posted. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that my physical condition has improved. I’m still suffering The Symptom That Shall Not Be Named, fighting off dehydration, and spending way too much time thinking about my predicament. Is this fibromyalgia? I don’t bloody think so.

Friday night, we made tapioca pudding from scratch. Well, let me be honest. I soaked the tapioca the night before and measured ingredients; Dan did all the hard work beating the egg whites and standing over the pot and stirring.

My tummy was so upset that I decided I would try the pudding warm. Ahhhh. It quieted the raging stomach and kept my heartburn at bay. I’m confident that in the 24 hours that followed, I ate 7 of the 8 servings the recipe made. Not exactly a doctor-recommended cure for a total digestive tract meltdown, but I do what I must to get by.

Interesting side note: I never had tapioca pudding until I was in my thirties. It doesn’t look like something I’d traditionally go for, but it’s very comforting.  Here’s the recipe we made, straight from the package of Reese small pearl tapioca:

Tapioca Pudding
Serves 8
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140 calories
25 g
53 g
3 g
4 g
1 g
111 g
128 g
17 g
0 g
1 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 140
Calories from Fat 24
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 53mg
Sodium 128mg
Total Carbohydrates 25g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 17g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1/2 Cup Reese Tapioca
  2. 2 1/2 cups milk
  3. 1/4 tsp. salt
  4. 1/2 cup sugar
  5. 2 eggs seperated
  6. 1 tsp vanilla
  1. In a bowl, soak tapioca in 2 cups of room temperature water overnight. Drain water.
  2. In double boiler, heat milk just until no longer cold. Add salt and tapioca. Continue heating until small bubbles appear at sides of pan. Cover, turn heat to very low, and cook for one hour. Make sure that the milk mixture does not simmer or boil.
  3. Separate egg whites from yolks. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until light yellow in color. Add a little of the hot mixture to the egg yolks and blend thoroughly. Then add the egg yolk mixture to the tapioca mixture and cook on medium heat until very thick, about 15 minutes.
  4. Beat egg whites until stiff. Slowly fold the egg whites into the hot tapioca mixture. Stir in vanilla. Serve warm or chilled.
variable http://blog.emilysuess.com/

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OMG I am So Gross

fatigue quoteAfter wrapping up today’s work and closing my laptop, I sat down in the kitchen to hang out with Dan while he finished making dinner (roasted chicken, snap peas, and mashed potatoes). Exhausted, despite having hardly moved today, I rested my right elbow on the counter and my head in my right hand and  glanced down at my shirt. I brushed a piece of lint away with my left hand and really noticed the shirt for a moment.

Huh, I thought I wore this shirt on Saturday. I did wear this shirt on Saturday. Yeah, that’s right…I wore it to Boomer’s obedience class. Wait, what day is it? Dear God. I’ve been wearing this shirt for—whips out fingers and counts—four days.

That’s sad, even by my current standards. Even sadder? This ponytail. On the upside, no one would ever tell me “but you don’t look sick!” today. 


It’s been a rough four days and even rougher three sleepless nights. In addition to the usual pain and muscle weakness, I’ve been going several rounds with my digestive system. I have perpetual, intense heartburn that makes me cough and wince in pain. Of course, my generalized muscle weakness means my coughs are pathetic and useless. (On the flip side, I get hiccups that are so violent I’m surprised I haven’t cracked a rib.) I find some relief when I take the OTC pill recommend by my doctor, but it wreaks havoc on the rest of my gut, which is already very, very touchy. Everything that helps one thing fucks up something else.

And as I suffer, it’s hard not to focus on how far away my next doctor’s appointments are. One week until my EMG. Four weeks until I see the new rheumatologist. Six weeks until my initial consult with a gastroenterologist. Not that I have any real hope that any of these appointments will result in, you know, answers or anything. 

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Screw the Wong-Baker Pain Scale

chronic painThings are really bad. Twice in the last 24 hours I wondered if I should go back on Cymbalta. So, yeah.

I didn’t do much yesterday. At one point I managed to get out the lightweight vacuum and suck up the pet hair on the hardwoods, but Boomer didn’t make it to week five of obedience training, and any dreams I had of doing laundry were completely dashed by 9:30. By 11:30 a.m. I was asking Dan if the day was over yet.

It figures that I’d have one of my worst days on record just days after telling the physician’s assistant I didn’t need no stinking pain meds. My nerves were totally blown. Dan touched my back lightly, and it felt like he was dragging rusty razors over my skin and then squeezing a lemon over the lesions. The pain that’s always hanging around in my neck and shoulders wandered up into my ears too. It felt like a bad ear infection and an abscessed tooth had a pain lovechild and then that lovechild turned out to be twins—because asymmetrical pain is for people with clearly identifiable medical problems.  

I fought against the pain-induced gag reflex and won. Where’s my medal?

I couldn’t get comfortable on any piece of furniture. So I’d sit on the couch for five minutes, lay on the bed for ten, pedal at my FitDesk for three, and then pace the floors for five more. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

At 8:30 pm I was exhausted, but the pain kept needling my brain, preventing me from getting rest. Dan suggested I take Benadryl, and the two neurons that weren’t totally fucking obsessed with processing pain signals recognized it was a good idea. “Tomorrow’s Sunday. You don’t have to be anywhere or do anything.” I downed some potassium-laced coconut water with the pills to stave off some the dehydrating effects and waited for the diphenhydramine cloud to dull my senses. 

I took three-fourths of the adult dosage and slept from about 10:30 last night to noon today. I got some much needed rest, but the needling pain is already coming back. And I can’t take the meds again tonight, because for some reason diphenhydramine only works once a month or so. If I were to take it again tonight, I would be totally wired. Plus, tomorrow’s Monday. So even if it did work two nights in a row, it wouldn’t be prudent to sleep through my job.

Tylenol doesn’t do shit anymore. Aspirin and Aleve upset my already upset stomach. Rx meds make me batshit insane. So I’m just over here waiting for my next medical test. That’s August 25, for those of you keeping track at home.

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Too Tired to Title This

Tuesday I had an appointment with a physician’s assistant at my primary doctor’s office. My blood pressure was 130/98.

I really just want to stop writing this post right there, because things don’t get better. And I’m tired. And I had a crappy day at work. And I’m stressed about money. But if I don’t get this shit out, I will pop.

One of the biggest questions I had for the PA was about the positive ANA test that popped up in my records. She searched for more details on it, verified that it came from one of my visits at Christie Clinic, but couldn’t tell me much more than that. So Dan (I dragged him with me to this appointment) suggested doing the test again and going from there. We agreed that seemed like the way to go.

“If that pops up positive again, I can refer you back to a rheumatologist,” she said. (She referred me to a new one a while back, but he didn’t treat fibromyalgia—which is what I thought I had at the time, you know?)

I also walked away from Tuesday’s appointment with a new diagnosis of IBS, and a referral to a gastroenterologist. Why? Because you can have negative blood tests for celiac disease and still have celiac. So odds are pretty steep that I’m going to be scoped before the year ends.

Here’s what the last 16 months of my life boil down to: Based on symptoms alone, I qualify for about 50 different autoimmune diseases. None of my blood work confirms I have any of them. None of my blood work confirms I don’t have any of them. Yay, let’s draw more blood. Oh, let’s put you through an EMG, GI scoping, a heart stress test, and…


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