A search term on my blog today was ‘dermatome chart.’ I couldn’t remember in the last 3 or so years ever doing a post about dermatomes so I searched that word on my blog myself and the only thing that came up was my Referred Pain post. These two things are entirely different and I realized when re-reading the Referred Pain post that I didn’t explain it very well. Dermatomes have nothing at all to do with referred pain. Referred pain means you get a pain somewhere else than the area that is actually messed up. Like when you have pain down your left arm during a heart attack – that’s referred pain.
A dermatome is an area of the body that specifically corresponds to a certain spinal segment. When you have pain in a certain dermatome, you also feel pain or some other symptom in an area other than the area that is actually messed up but when there are symptoms in a dermatomal pattern, it’s a spinal issue. For instance – pain, tingling, or numbness in the right thumb means there is probably something wrong with your right-sided C6/C7 spinal segment. Even though your neck may not hurt. Provided no one smashed your hand with a hammer. But hey if that’s what you’re into……. If you have pain, tingling, or numbness in your pinky finger up through your triceps there’s probably something going on at C8/T1. If your toes are hurting, or tingling or numb, one of your sacral nerve roots is probably all jacked up. Provided your foot didn’t just get run over by a truck or something. These kind of symptoms are called radiculopathy. I wrote about that before.
So referred pain – pain (usually from a crappy organ) felt in a whole other part of the body.
Radiculopathy/dermatomal pain- symptoms originating in the spine that are following the length of the nerve and felt somewhere other than the spine itself.
Every single day of my life is a struggle both physically and emotionally. Every single f’ing day. And from conversations that I’ve had with stroke survivors that are years ahead of me in recovery, every single day of my life for the rest of my life is going to be a struggle. Maybe I felt like writing this because I’m having an exceptionally hard time right now emotionally, which was all triggered by a woman who very selfishly called me wanting to talk to me about one of the most painful and devastating experiences in my life. But the fact that I’m having a hard time right now certainly doesn’t change the fact that just being awake is hard.
And no one understands this, well except other stroke survivors. I look really good, I got back to doing a very technical, intricate job. A job that hopefully someday I will be able to make a major impact on and change some things. I seem to have totally overcome this to normals who don’t understand anything. I haven’t overcome anything, I’ve learned to live with it. I have no choice and never did have a choice. So I’ve learned to live with all the shit and try to use humor as a way to help me through this. If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you probably have caught onto the fact that I use self deprecating humor quite a lot. But I certainly don’t want to. I’d rather not have to joke about all the stuff that is in actuality absolutely devastating to me like the fact that I can’t write, I spill EVERYTHING, I can’t cut my own food, I can’t run, I have horrible balance, I get dizzy just watching certain things on TV, I get HORRIBLE migraines once a month. Etc, etc, etc. Be careful if you try to make fun of these things about me just because I make jokes about them. Be careful. 2 or 3 people have free reign to joke about these things with me but most people do not. I suggest not trying to use humor with a person with a disability – about their disabilities that is – unless you’ve been given the go ahead, because the things you joke about or say are probably extremely devastating to that person.
Well, that’s it for now. I hope you’re having a better summer than I am.