Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A Pain in the ...

Back. A tremendous amount of pain in my back as a result of what the MRI showed to be a herniated disc and arthritis in my lower spine. I've dealt with problems from Degenerative Disc Disease in my neck for several years now, but this is new. Evidently I hurt myself somehow while painting the dining room in March. My primary care physician (PCP) declared it a muscle spasm, said she saw no reason for imaging, and prescribed pain meds, muscle relaxers, and steroids. Oh, and she was totally condescending and treated me like a drug-seeking junkie off the street by saying, "If this isn't enough then you'll have to be in the hospital on IV pain meds." Alrighty then...

So, off I went, out of commission for a week, but feeling better at the end of that time. Until a week or two later, when the pain not only came back, but returned even worse. I went to see the doctor at the pain management clinic, and he ordered an x-ray, which he knew wouldn't turn up anything, but he had to go through the process for insurance to approve an MRI. I had the MRI, we got a diagnosis, and the pain got worse, almost daily and to the point where it hurt to sit for any length of time. Back in his office last week and we scheduled what he said was the best treatment option: injections to the nerve area in the back. Oh shit.

Well, you see, he tried to do that with my neck earlier in the year and it didn't go so well. Actually, I screamed at the top of my lungs, jumped in some of the worst pain I've ever felt, and he refused to go any further. We ended up having to do the procedure at a surgery center with me under sedation. Sedation is good. Needles in my neck with nothing but a local?? Not good.

He asked me last week if I'd had an epidural during any of my deliveries. I said, "Of course! With all three!" He assured me that the injections were just like an epidural. No worse pain than that and only a little longer. He did say that I would likely need more than one round of injections because the affected area was fairly large, and he also prescribed a large dose of Xanax which I'm supposed to take 30 minutes before the procedure. It's supposed to calm me down.

Fast forward to Sunday night. Until then, the pain medication he'd prescribed was working fine. Granted, it would only last about 4 hours, but it generally took care of the pain. On Sunday evening the pain got much worse, and by Monday afternoon, the pain meds weren't doing anything to help. This level of pain has continued until now. It hurt to sit (even on the couch), lie down, walk, bend over...just about anything. I've tried combining the pain medication with a pain patch (Lidoderm, a very low-level surface analgesic) and Advil, to no avail. My injection procedure was scheduled for tomorrow, but I was in such excruciating pain yesterday, I called the office and asked if there was any chance I could get in earlier. They'd had a cancellation today at 4:00, so I'm heading in later this afternoon.

And, I'm terrified! I had no problem with any of my epidurals, but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with the fact that a) I'd already been given Stadol and b) there was that whole process of labor keeping my attention diverted. The problem is that if I can't go through the procedure without sedation, they'll have to go through the surgical center again. Because my doctor doesn't regularly work there, he has to simply wait and get his patients "worked in" to their existing schedule, which can take forever! For example, I've been waiting on them to schedule my next neck procedure for almost 4 weeks now. Thank God my neck hasn't been giving me any problems lately.

I'm the first to admit that I've never had a high tolerance for pain. I really don't care, though, because last time I checked, nobody gives out any kind of awards for pain tolerance. I'm not saying that sedation is the only option, but I definitely need to NOT feel a giant needle in my back. I have no problem with needles. I give blood regularly, I've donated plasma, and I've had plenty of IVs. No issue with needles, as long as the person operating them gets it right the first try. The problem is that the area already hurts really fucking bad! So please, please don't make it hurt worse with your giant needle full of drugs that burn!

Hubby has suggested that I take a leather strip in to bite on while they do the injections. I know the doctor is terrified my screams will be heard by everyone in the waiting room. I'm just terrified I'll be stuck in this pain indefinitely and with no relief. And all of this is to still to say that there's no guarantee the injections will work!! I've heard from several friends who said injections didn't work, so they had to have the disc removed. Some people responded well to physical therapy but not injections. Others responded well to a combination. And one didn't get relief from *either* injections or PT, but rather deep-tissue massage. Holy shitballs people!

Seriously folks, keep me in your thoughts, prayers, meditations, whatever. Send lots of happy, calm, pain-free vibes my way.


L said...

oh, dear, how did it go? I hope it's helping, I really do. I'm thinking of you/praying (though the worst must have passed already).

Anonymous said...

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