By Laura Levesque Page
The nerve specialist leans forward to examine my atrophied, pencil-thin left arm. He gently says, “Now lie still. This might hurt.”
He inserts long, silver needles into the left side of my neck and shoulder. The dial on the barometer jumps and dances quietly. I muffle my cries of pain by biting into my right fist.
“Only a few more minutes now,” he says. “Don’t move. I need you to be perfectly still to chart the activity of your nerves.”
About one month ago, I had cancer surgery. The large sarcoma tumor that lay in my right chest wall, suffocating my right lung and growing tentacles around my ribs, was removed. Two days later, my left deltoid seized up in spasms from a morphine injection. This resulted in the paralysis of my left arm.
After what seems to be a long time, the doctor says, “Well, the nerve has definitely been cut, and it is very unlikely that it will ever reconnect. You have wasting of the deltoid muscle and the supra- and infraspinatus muscles of the scapula. I’m sorry, but you will never regain the use of your left arm.”