Okay so medically what happened to Kate? Let’s start at the beginning.
Once upon a time I was a cute twenty-something. I became a pilot, I joined the military and I flew the Harvard and the Hawk. This is the super short version. We can talk about all this another time. As part of the training we learned to do some super amazing things. Formation flying, loops, rolls, all the fancy fun moves. It was completely fabulous. Completely.
But the thing is the fancy fun moves take a lot of ‘G’, in the simplest terms you pull hard and the force on your body increases, that force pulls on your body and pulls blood out of your head. Because of that we do Centrifuge training to train our bodies to resist it. It’s a small capsule you climb inside and it spins you around to simulate the airplane. Imagine you’re at the fair on a ride, but amp it up so it’s like a ride on crack! It’s wasn’t really fun.
I was small and had low blood pressure, I had a hard time with the centrifuge. I failed the first course and was sent home, put on a gym program to increase my leg and neck muscles to help. I had to do this terrible neck exercise machine in the corner. I remember it felt awful. I carried on, doing my neck machine with increasing force, I do the centrifuge again, am blessed with the pass and I move on to having babies and then multi engine flying over the next few years.
When I was first pregnant my skin became hyper sensitive, I had all kinds of weird symptoms. I put on an excellent show but I would be sobbing trying to put on my boots in the morning. I kept going to the doctor saying “I don’t feel good”. I couldn’t explain it. I can now. It was pain. But you know how it is when you’re pregnant everything that happens is just chalked up to the pregnancy. I quote ” the only thing that is going to help you is to have that baby”. Well it turns that is not the truth.
Lets flash forward a few years. I am now mother of 3, still an Air Force pilot, flying the Dash 8.
I’ve taken up running over the years and I’ve started doing some fitness classes with a friend. I am slowly noticing strange things with my body. And then it happened. October 20th, 21st? 2013? I remember I flew to California that day and I woke up that morning with a “kink” in my neck. I thought I slept funny. This “kink”will never go away.
That Fall I also developed a pain down my left arm. Just over the top of my shoulder. I thought I pulled a muscle going to the gym. I’m grounded ( meaning the flight surgeon won’t let me fly), I’m grounded the last few weeks of December. I rest and it’s fine. I go back to work. This flares up a couple times. Meanwhile the doctor has booked me an MRI. My shoulder feels better but it’s taken so long to get the appointment that I go “just in case”. I arrive for my MRI and the technician says you’re here for a neck MRI. I say no, shoulder. She says no, neck! No SHOU-LLLL-DDDEEEERR!! She shows me the report which my doctor has written very clearly “neck”. I give up and let them do my neck even though I know there is nothing wrong with my neck, it’s my shoulder that hurts. Soooooo I’m going to eat crow on that one.
I hope that you’re fascinated by this and not too grossed out. These are 2 of my MRI’s. If you look at the picture on the, right see that dark line that comes down from the top?Inside the white lines? That’s my spinal cord and it should be visible and straight all the way down. It’s not super clean image because I twitch and that it makes it hard to image. We tried a good sedative once but it actually made the twitching worse. Weird.
Now back to me. I am happily flying, doing my thing, I’m in a wave of relative comfort. My arm is super hypersensistive, but has been for years. Someone once said “it’s as if the air blowing on you hurts you” and this is so true. The air blowing on my skin does hurt! I’ve learned it’s called Allodynia (abnormal response to non painful stimuli) and Parastesia (tingling, numbness, prickling, goosebumps over my arms and legs). Oh gosh this is sounding awful. I don’t want it to sound like a pity party. Hmm. Perhaps this is a good break point….
let’s call this part 1. I’ll do my very best to not make you wait very long for part 2.
Have a beautiful day