Day 42: The Valentines Mess

Day 42: The Valentines Mess

Date: February 14th. Valentines Day
Location: Montgomery Country General Hospital (Olney, MD) & Potomac, MD


Valentines Day, our first as a married couple, was pretty much one mess followed by another. Disaster actually might not be the most accurate way to describe how the day and night went. Valentines Day isn’t always all roses no matter how much we want it to be.


The purpose of this particular post is to not dwell on the symptoms so much, but to shed light to the toll Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) takes on personal relationships.


I began the Valentines Day with a trip to Montgomery County General Hospital in Olney, MD for a bone scan. This was the second hospital visit in as many weeks. If you recall from my post about Day 36, I went to the ER with chest pains that proved to be nothing. Dr. Sethi wanted to run another test to see what might be going on and to confirm the possibility of CRPS. The bone scan was going to rule out other issues while at the same time look for signs of bone resorption (absorbing of bone tissue). Bone resorption is most often associated with certain cancers and osteoporosis. Resorption is also an issue with CRPS as atrophy and disuse of limbs can cause bone tissue to be absorbed. I didn’t know this at the time. I know it now. Regardless, I went into the scan more or less thinking it was a diagnostic and not that resorption was or could be an issue.


When searching Google for the purpose for a bone scan, you find:



The part that mentions cancer was  enough to make me stop reading and have elevated amount of fear. I wasn’t at all prepared to dig further. Now I went into the test knowing I might have some strange thing called CRPS that some medical professionals lacked familiarity with the diagnosis or I could have cancer. So I had that going for me.


Five hours worth of medical testing is quite long. Hell, it is quite long for any type of testing. The reason for the duration of the scan is for a tracer dye is used to help identify the bone issues when imaging via an X-ray machine. It turned out I should’ve done more homework as to how the test was administered because I was woefully underprepared. I didn’t realize the dye needed a couple of hours to go through the blood stream for the test to properly function. I arrived without reading materials or a phone charger so after receiving the dye I had a lot of time on my hands in the basement of the hospital. I eventually went and bought a few magazines. It was mostly difficult to block the mind from wandering into dangerous thinking. The imaging itself was easy like any other X-ray. The testing wrapped up around 3:45pm and now I had to wait a week for the results. Results were due back in a week. More waiting.


When Crissy picked me up to head home, I was spent. I couldn’t call it a day yet as I had to get to a number of things for clients. It seemed as if my coverage simply did not take care of my clients so I was now staring at about 4 hours of work around 4:30pm…on Valentines Day. The motto “happy wife, happy life” was going to be severely tested that evening.

Happy wife, happy life

By the time I sat down in a desk chair at home, I had so much pain all throughout my left arm and my upper back that I didn’t think I would get through much. Due to the pain in my neck (the pinched nerve), my entire neck and shoulder area hurt and was weakening quickly. I was barely able to bring even my right arm to typing on the keyboard let alone my left. I often let my left hand rest in my lap, occasionally letting it hang down by my side because both positions lessened the neck pain. caused pain all throughout my neck and shoulders part of my upper back. My work is fast paced and deadline oriented so it was not as if I could just let it go. I actually enjoy being a hero for my clients so I plugged away writing proposals, sending quick rough estimates, and kicking off projects. With each additional task knocked out, the pain caused more fatigue.


Not 5 minutes after I sat down for a delivery dinner with Crissy by candlelight and the phone was already ringing a few times by the same number. Ok no big deal, right? I’m happy to help as best I can. Well, let’s just say this wasn’t going to help me live by that cute motto. The call was actually from a client trying to track down a non-responsive colleague. Not good! Crissy was part angry and part upset.


Let me be clear, my wife was mostly upset at the situation. We were used to being out to dinner for Valentines. We were supposed to be in Florida. Neither of those things happened. My health robbed us of both. Crissy could hardly stand watching me suffer in pain and now I took the call during dinner that would result in more work post dinner. I definitely didn’t want to further stress my exhausted body, but the clients calling were at one of the firms I worked most closely with so it probably could indirectly help me. What kind of stupid is it to invite more pain into your life like that? In any event, Crissy is my rock and sometimes when I’m my own worst enemy, like that night, the only person who knows how to get me to stop and see the light. Thankfully, she let it helped me realize how dumb I was being to promise anything that night.


During some reflection the next morning, I began realizing two things:

  1. 1) my health was probably much worse off than anyone thought or had explained to me and
  2. 2) attempting to balance work with whatever I had was quickly becoming unsustainable. This prompted a conversation with my manager to potentially take a week or two off to see if it might help calm things down and get me back to 100%. Little did I know a third trip to the hospital was looming on deck.


Let’s break here for now. There is an awful lot for me to write in my post about days 46-51. Those six days were quite long. I’ll get to that in another post or two. I might decide to give another health update to the present. Sorry for some of the yo-yoing in my journey. I’m doing my best to balance chronology and some positivity. Feedback is always welcome.


Beat CRPS!


Posted by jsperkins1127 in Medical
Day 275 – Off the Beaten Path

Day 275 – Off the Beaten Path

Date: October 5, 2017
Location: D.C. & Fairfax, VA

While rehab and a few other items have consumed most of my time of late, I have been able to further reflect on the first 8 months of the year and take notes on small victories in my first month post operation. I’m very proud to say for the most part life is trending upward.


The last week or so has been quite busy and it has kept me away from blogging some. Since I’ve fallen behind on posting, I figured I would deviate a bit from the theme of recent posts and skip ahead to the more recent past. This will mess with my overall flow of the blog posts though it’s worth a slight deviation to help show some positivity.


Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area possess endless ways a couple can enjoy themselves. Those of us who live here truly are fortunate to have an international city at the center of a region near the water and the mountains. Whether it is joining family and friends for boating on a Sunday (Sunday Funday) or attending comedy shows and concerts, exploring monuments and museums, food tasting, going to the theatre, hiking, skiing, etc, you name it, you can do all of that with no more than a couple hour drive from downtown D.C. Most native Washingtonians fail to fully experience all that there is to offer. I can’t speak for the transplant crowd though I’d wager they might appreciate it a tad more depending upon where they’re from.


Living with CRPS has certainly made my wife and me incredibly appreciative all of that D.C. has to offer. We always brag about where we live. Always. D.C. is amazing. All of that being said, I now think you cannot fully understand what you love about your social life until it is so greatly taken away from you. Prior to this year, we would get lost in D.C., dine at the latest hot restaurant, enjoy a hike, trips to the beach and so much more. We were even engaged at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I proposed in front of 45 family members and friends.


Our “Must Do in D.C.” list is stocked with experiences we want to do and for the most part we haven’t done any of them this year. We chose to spend our free time with family and our closest friends. Begrudge us if you will. We put a check in the box for two “Must Do in D.C.” items in the past week.


Dave Chappelle is one of, if not my most favorite comedian(s). I didn’t need to hyperlink him did I? Oh well.  I saw him live way back in college at what was the first comedy show I’ve attended. I have the Chappelle’s Show DVDs. There is a lot that has been typed about Chappelle so no need to go too deep. He is a comedic genius. This past summer, he announced concert dates in D.C. for the first time in over a decade. Chappelle was in his hometown (graduate of Duke Ellington HS in the District) for 10 days of shows at the Warner Theatre – sometimes playing two shows in a night. Each show was filmed as it will be the third of three Netflix specials that he was paid $60 million to perform. Tickets sold out faster than in an instant. We couldn’t get them even if I were the Flash. Feeling pretty well and up for it last Thursday afternoon, I decided to look at the second hand market for tickets and found 10th row seats a little less than face value. Chappelle was phenomenal. He was as funny on this night as I remember him from years ago. I would’ve snapped a pic from inside, but locking your phone in a pouch complete with an alarm sensor were conditions to enter the theatre. He directly addresses some criticism stemming from his first two Netflix specials. I will not say anything further. No more spoilers from me.


More importantly, I was able to enjoy all of Chappelle’s comedy show. As you might remember, we went to see Louis C.K. back when all of this started. I don’t remember that entire show because I was in so much pain as my hand exploded that night. This time, I had no such worries with my spinal cord stimulator (SCS) functioning as designed. Gone from 8 months prior was the excruciating pain and swelling. In was laughing so hard my abs got a light workout. It was a fantastic night and a perfect way to unwind for us both.


One quick anecdote about the Chappelle concert/show is we might show up in the crowd. Some guy in the row immediately behind ours got up and out of his seat to heckle Chappelle a little. Chappelle was using a vaporizer throughout his performance. The guy behind us assumed it was marijuana and not tobacco. At a quiet moment, he stood from his seat and began a dialogue with Chappelle showing his desire to “smoke” with the comedian. Chappelle remarked “this guy is going to make the special.” If you decide to watch and you see this exchange, there is a good chance we might make it onto the special ourselves. 


Earlier in the week, we had dinner at the legendary Peking Gourmet Inn located in a small unassuming Falls Church, Virginia shopping center. When you visit this restaurant, you eat the Peking Duck. Many media outlets have ranked the duck as the best in the world and the restaurant as one of the best 25 Chinese restaurants in the country. One particular feature came by way of a 2017 episode of Vice Channel’s Huang’s World with host chef Eddie Huang.


A plethora of photos featuring politicians and celebrities decorate every inch of the 39-year old restaurant’s reception walls. You’ll find several photos of U.S. presidents and Chinese leaders. The restaurant’s windows are made bulletproof glass. Falls Church is by no means a high crime area so the glass is literally to protect dignitaries. Crissy’s dad and stepmother have been going to this restaurant at least once a month for about 10 years. Her stepmom is from Hong Kong and my in-laws travel to China every few years or so and they say the Peking Duck here is better than any place they’ve been to in Beijing. Crissy has been to Perking Gourmet Inn plenty and I had yet to go there once. We had yet to dine with them at one of their favorite restaurants. You will not find better duck of any kind anywhere. No seriously, it is the best duck I’ve had. Plus, they give you a really light tortilla (made out of rice…I think) to eat the duck. It was a great dinner followed by a Washington Redskins win in primetime on Sunday Night Football.


The time with family out to eat at a restaurant has not been frequent and it has seldom come mostly pain free. The latter happened on this night and it stands as another example of my upward trend. I think it is only the second time we have been out to eat since I had the SCS implanted and it is the first that I’ve been able to cut my own food. Regaining motor skills in my hand to cut food has not been easy and while I’m not quite cutting food with ease (I have some pain while doing so), I’m confident I’ll be triumphant. I’m hopeful that I’ll be back to normal by the end of October. We’ll see soon enough.


Beat CRPS!





Posted by jsperkins1127 in Life Changes
Day 11: Adapt or Die

Day 11: Adapt or Die

Location: Washington, D.C. to nearby Potomac, MD.

Rapid progression of my pain and nothing definitive to pinpoint the beginning of the cause are two major reasons you, your spouse, and those that you love will begin playing the guessing game. My wife, my parents, her parents, our family, and I were all on red alert. The acronym CRPS was yet to be on our radar. Crissy and I were doing our best to adapt and then take proactive steps at bettering my health.

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Posted by jsperkins1127 in Life Changes