It has been awhile since I last visited my Journal.
Things have radically changed for me.
I have been suffering through a lot of pain for years. That is what had me using narcotic pain medications and muscle relaxers. I have suffered chronic pain in one part of my body or another since 1997.
The pain started out with a torn medial meniscus in my left knee. It was surgically repaired and bones spurs from arthritis removed. I did not fully recover from that accident and surgery for about 8 years, and I still have great difficulty kneeling on my left knee.
Because of guarding the left knee much changed about the dynamics of the movement of my body. My gait changed, I walked unsteadily, people would recognize me just by my walk alone. I changed how I did manual labor in an attempt to protect that knee.
All of this led to unseen damage in other areas.
My back would often hurt, my hips started hurting, even my neck, the list goes on and on.
I had a rotator cuff injury in my left shoulder, which required surgery.
But a little back story….
I have always done heavy manual labor, oh there have been spells when I would have what I considered easy jobs. But mostly it has been hard back breaking labor. I started out my working career as a Nursing Assistant in the Operating Room of a local hospital. It was a great job, but had its pitfalls. I had to move patients on and off the surgical table. I had to run instruments, carrying heavy pans. I had to position and drape patients, and my duties also involved cleaning the rooms between cases. At this point in my life I thought it was a rather easy job, even with an early back injury while lifting a patient off the table.
Then I went to work as a maintenance tech in a fabric mill. Now I was discovering hard labor. After a mere 3 months I quit this job because I hurt my back while in a hole cutting concrete with a jackhammer. I did not file a report as at that time jobs were easy to find and I was making minimum wage of $1.90 an hour.
I started working for the Municipal Government at a whooping $3.96 an hour! But, this was the hardest job of my life, I was a Garbageman. Officially called Refuse Collection Laborer. Those days were pre-mechanism, we collected refuse from behind dwellings by placing it in large “totter barrels”, I think the capacity was 55 gallons, and carrying it back to the street to place in the garbage truck. I was injured many times on this job. Blown out knee, torn muscle in my chest, shoulder and back. Bruised diaphragm, many cuts and lacerations, even severe cellulitis from a Poison Ivy infection. I did this work for 8 years and masked the pain by drinking and drugging, I was a mess.
I left that job, not by my own accord.
I started bouncing from job to job and often these were minimal pay and hard labor jobs.
During this period I worked in furniture delivery, freight delivery, chemical delivery, plus being the mixer/blender of the chemicals and having to load and unload the chemicals in the mix. When I was doing the chemical work, if I had an order for 1,000 pounds of floor cleaner I would have to handle it 5 times. Once I picked the materials up in my freight truck I would have to unload by hand (#1), one 100 pound bag at a time, then this was all hand loaded into a hammermill to blend (#2) and then put into the containers (#3) for sale which ranged from 50 – 200 pound drums, which I then had to load back on my truck (#4) for delivery across a 4 State area (#5). This job was dangerous. I had no respirator for protection of my lungs and no ventilation system in the basement of the building I was working in. The floor cleans was a caustic dry chemical, I had nose bleeds every time I had too mix and that was on a weekly basis.
I left this job to return to working for the Municipal Government.
I was hired as a laborer. I worked in the ditch laying sewer pipelines and an occasional storm sewer pipeline. We always cut the street pavement by hand with 90 pound jackhammers. We were never blessed with a walk behind pavement cutting saw. And distance did not matter as I remember times of cutting pavement for 600 linear feet, 6 inches at a time. Also if we ended up with rock in the way we would either drill it with a hand held pneumatic drill and blast, or if shallow peck away at it with the jackhammers. I would often come home from work completely covered in grey limestone rock dust, again, no respirators to combat the dust. I worked in the ditch until 1997, when my left knee gave of the ghost and had to be repaired. After that surgery I was not allowed to work the ditch anymore per Dr. Preston Waldrop. He saw the damage this job was doing to me. I continued with the Municipal Government working on a CCTV Pipeline Inspection Crew, still a laborer. I was responsible for putting the camera transport in the manhole and then aligning it for entry into the pipe. And again, an injury, ended up with carpal tunnel syndrome in my left wrist. No surgical repair, pain killers and therapy plus a brace. To this day I still suffer with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome.
I left that city and relocated to my current hometown in 2001.
I started working at a hospital in housekeeping, stripping and waxing floors and general housekeeping duties. In a 2 year period I had two dirty needle sticks.
Then thankfully I left the hospital and again returned to Municipal Government work, I was hired as a laborer on a CCTV Pipeline Inspection Truck. Again, back to manhandling heavy camera transporters in and out of manholes up to a depth of about 45 feet. I served in this capacity for about 2 years, when I moved into the position of Monitoring Technician.
As a monitoring tech I had to set up flow meters, samplers and pH meters at industrial locations to monitor and sample the contact waste stream to prevent and detect violations of the NPEDS (Federal Codes). This was not bad, the equipment all weighed in at less than 50 pounds each, to me this was tolerable, but I would have to walk some distance or climb steps or even have to do a “Confined Space Entry” to complete my tasks. Then the job title changed as well as the work I do. I became an Industrial Pretreatment/F.O.G. (Fats, Oils, Grease) Inspector.
My job became one where I did inspections at all F.S.E. (Food Service Establishments). In the process of my job I would have to open the G.C.E. (Grease Control Equipment). This would involve opening the lids of Grease Interceptors (G.I.), large typically 1,000 gallon tanks in the ground. The lids are load bearing cast iron, typically 100 pounds each and usually involve 2 – 4 per site, plus at least one downstream sanitary sewer manhole for observation of F.O.G. And I do a minimum of 5 inspections per day. If the F.S.E. is a small low volume site they will usually have a Grease Trap (G.T.) ranging in size from 20/40 (flowing 20 gallons per minute/40 pounds of solids) up to a 500 gallon G.T. These are mounted/installed in various locations, ranging from under the three bay sink, in the floor or even elevated off the floor in a basement requiring a ladder to climb up to inspect. All involve kneeling, bending, stooping to reach and sometimes stretching underneath counters and cabinets, as the lids have to be removed to visually inspect the trap.
All that to get me here.
I am now scheduled for surgery on April 19, 2017. I am going to have a Bilateral Discectomy L4/L5. The pain I am suffering is blinding, hellish, and there is no escaping it. Narcotic pain relief does not work. I have had one injection at the nerve involved causing the pain from my right hip to my foot, and one spinal injection. I have even been in the Emergency Room and received Dalaudid which did not give any relief. I had a diagnosis of Central Canal Stenosis , having lost 70% of the space around my spinal cord, which is causing the pinched nerves and the accompanying agony.
I have been off work for a week now, and today received my last paycheck. I have applied for F.M.L.A. (Family Medical Leave Act) to attempt to protect my job. Hopefully my job will be secured and I can get my Short Term Disability.
I will update as this progresses.