Wednesday, July 8, 2009

They Said It Couldn't Be Done........

A Poem by Edgar A Guest:

It Couldn't Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn't be done,

But he with a chuckle replied

That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one

Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin

On his face. If he worried he hid it.

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

That couldn't be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;

At least no one ever has done it";

But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,

And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,

Without any doubting or quiddit,

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,

There are thousands to prophesy failure;

There are thousands to point out to you,

one by one, the dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,

Just take off your coat and go to it;

Just start to sing as you tackle the thing

That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.

That poem has been a favorite of mine since I was in grade school and heard it for the first time. I think there's something about beating the odds that has always appealed to me. That and I'm just plain old mule-ass stubborn. The fastest way to get me to do something is to tell me that I can't do it. The fastest way to get me to never do something is by saying that I have to. See? I'm a mule with a bad attitude.

But in this case the cause is worth fighting for. I'll make a long story short: My auto-immune system is a psychotic over-acheiver. Instead of simply fighting off infections, my a-i system perceives healthy tissue as an intruder and tries to kill it. Like most people with a-i diseases, I have clusters of diagnosed illnesses and syndromes. Lemme think.........arthritis, bone spurs, degenerative disc disease, Graves disease, MNG (14 nodules and counting!), fibromyalgia, chronic myofascia pain syndrome, fibrosystic breast disease.........those are the current ones. In the past there have been polyovarian cysts, endomitriosis and early onset menopause (which started at 27). For the last three a simple hysterectomy did the trick and I was thrilled to have it done. In fact, I think the deciding factor for my surgeon was my telling him that if he didn't take it all out I was going to sharpen a butter knife and do it myself. He knew me well enough to know that wasn't an idle threat. I felt better the day after the surgery and consider it one of the best things that ever happened to me.

So when it comes to surgery I don't have any qualms if it needs to be done. In fact, I'll race the surgeon to the operating room if it's something that will make me feel better. But I will NOT go thru surgery if there are other options!

My rhuematologist has said that my carpal tunnel syndrome is only partially caused by repetitive strain. (after decades of textile arts and computer keyboarding this would only be news if I *didn't* have some signs of CTS.) But the main contibuting factor to the CTS is that chronic myofascia pain syndrome causes "trigger points" in the muscles. Actually, these trigger points are cyst-type growths buried deep in the muscles caused by that psychotic auto-immune system deciding that parts of my muscles need to be killed off. (Like I needed more cysts! I had a doctor tell me once that I'm just lumpy. Great. Makes me sound like the 8th dwarf! I don't think that has nearly the prestige of being the 5th Beatle)

We established that there's quite a bit of nerve damage in my hands by way of a nerve conduction test---something akin to a Nazi torture device run by a neurologist that I dubbed "Redi Kilowatt". He said "The jolts will feel a little bit like the shock you get when you touch a doorknob after walking across carpet". Bullshit. It's not like it's unbearable or anything but when you have Graves disease or a neurological disease like fibromyalgia that makes all sensory input feel like you've been hit by a truck, getting jolted with electricity isn't as much fun as, oh say, dropping a sledge hammer on your big toe.

Redi's diagnosis of nerve damage certainly explained why my hands keep going numb and why I keep dropping things. Both are extremely annoying and sometimes dangerous. (and you thought the sledge hammer reference was just coincidence!!) I've been wearing splints at night for over a year and have even gotten used to them. You learn within the first week not to get enthusiastic about scratching your nose in your sleep when you have hardware on your hands! The splints help a little but lately things have progressed quite a lot. My hands are numb most of the time and we're rapidly advancing into the realm of serious pain.

Getting in to see the rhuematologist isn't easy since she books out two months in advance, so I settled for seeing her nurse practitioner. That was a waste of time. The NP apparently didn't read the notes in my file and blithely suggested that I start physical therapy for my back and see a surgeon for my hands.

I resisted the urge to slap her. It wouldn't have done much good since I can't straighten out my hands enough to get a good slap. Flopping them around in her face might have proved my point about them not working but it wouldn't have accomplished my goal of knocking her into next week for being a fool.

If she'd read the notes she would have seen that the Doc has already put me thru physical therapy for my back. That's when we found out that I have a MPS trigger point in right hip and the PT actually caused more damage. Since I'm not a fool, I'm not going to agree to causing even more damage. When she said that she'd have to refer me to a surgeon for my hands, I didn't even try to talk to her anymore. I've always felt that there is no point in teaching a pig how to sing. It wastes my time and annoys the pig.

What she would have seen if she read the notes was that the next step in treatment is to start cortizone shots or dry needle manipulation on the MPS trigger points to break them up. I was hoping that she would order an ultrasound to locate them so that the next time I see the doctor all she'll have to do is load up the needles. That didn't happen so when I see the doctor later this month, we won't have made much progress. Oh well. The point is that I'm not going to agree to surgery for carpal tunnel when it won't make much difference. Until those trigger points are broken up nothing is going to get any better for my hands or back. Besides that, the recovery time for CTS surgery is up to three months! OMG!! If I had to sit around not using my hands for three months, I'd go completely crazy. Think about building, no mini-making, no sewing, no creating at all! And no computer. And no holding a book. They expect me to sit with my hands in my lap and watch tv. Are they kidding? I don't watch tv when I'm well, why would I want to watch it when I'm sick? Believe me, after a week of that I'd be up on top of the capitol building with a sniper rifle and you'd all be reading about me in the papers instead of a blog. Nope, surgery is not an option.

If you've read thru this much, you're probably wondering what I'm rambling on about and how this rant has anything to do with "They said it couldn't be done".

*pointing to the picture at the top of the page*

They said that couldn't be done. In fact, they said that I can't do anything with my hands, but in the past 5 weeks, I've built a custom dollhouse, dressed a bed for it, dressed parlor furniture for it, and made custom drapes and window seat dressing for it. Not bad for an old lady with "dead" hands, huh. And not to blow my own horn or anything, but the quality meets my normal "Virgo" standards. (that means that when I go over every inch of it with a magnifying glass, it all looks perfect) If you want to see more of the house and furnishings, you can check my website here and here and here or see the video on You Tube here.

So they can take the "it can't be done" and shove it. When the day comes that I can't create they might as well wind me in a shroud and light the pyre. For some of us, creating is the same thing as breathing and not doing either one isn't really an option. So for those that say it can't be done, they've obviously never met a determined artist. We will *always* tackle the thing that cannot be done and we'll do it.



  1. Wow! As the soon-to-be recipient of this beautiful Poinsettia House, I can say that I truly had no idea of the physical challenges you were up against in building this house! What an accomplishment! I look forward to seeing more of your creativity here in your blog and on your website! You are truly a gifted artist!!

  2. Deb,that's the attitude to have! Doctors don't know everything! BTW, that's part of the reason that I put you on my list for an award this morning. Please come and collect it. It is really an award with meaning.

  3. I find it truly sad that health care providers cannot take the time to listen when we see them. Who knows our body better than ourself? I have been amazed by your work and to learn of the pain you struggle with makes it even more amazing. I agree with you- if I cannot find a way to be creative you might as well shoot me. I admire your "mule-ass" attitude. I also admire your poinsettia house- it is gorgeous. I hope that when you see the doctor he listens and you find a bit of relief or at least a road that starts to lead to some relief.

  4. Beautifully done, Deb. Your poinsettia house is very sweet. Considering the health challenges you've overcome to do it makes it all that much sweeter an accomplishment.

  5. What a great great post! Thank you Debs for sharing it with us. You are hilarious ! But that is half the battle, ain't it? If you laugh every time someone tells you this is insurmountable, it is immediately surmountable! I will remember this post for a long time to come.

  6. Deb, you go girl!! I know you will come through all this with your sense of humor intact! No one tells it like you do and no one can do the things you do! You make the world a better place and I'm proud to call you 'my friend'!

    You are a great source of inspiration and I'm looking forward to seeing what else you 'can't' do! LOL!!

    Love and Hugs,

  7. Cheers, Deb! The bed (and room) look fantastic!

    The next time you meet with a medical twit like the NP you saw, may I suggest you telling them to write out the order, fold it so its mostly corners, and shove it up their arse. And when they're done with that, would they be so kind as to read your chart? ;-)

  8. Your me strength...your will gives me hope your attitude shines brightly as a beacon to follow...

    Inspiration is everywhere...and I found the mother load in your post and heart...