Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Does it hurt here?

Saturday night the neck pain returned. With a vengeance. I was up from 2:00 to 5:00 a.m. just crying from the pain as Hubby lay there next to me in bed. I had nothing but a heating pad and a Tylenol 3 for the pain, and neither were doing any good. It was only about 6 weeks ago that I had my last episode, so I really started worrying about the increased frequency, along with the issue of an upcoming pregnancy that would pretty much bar me from getting all hopped up on steroids, pain pills, and muscle relaxers.

Sunday morning I called the answering service for my general physician, and the on-call doctor called in scrips for each of the usual medicines, then I spent the rest of the day - Hubby's birthday - laying on the couch with the heating pad, drifting in and out of sleep. I felt like shit for not being able to wrap my husband's birthday gifts, hold E, or play with H in the front yard, but I was in severe pain.

Both my general physician and my neurologist are stumped as to why my disk pain episodes are occurring with increased frequency. It's not only an issue of not understanding why they're happening so frequently, but also an issue of the side effects associated with long-term use of steroids. At the neurologist's office yesterday, he explained that the type of workout I did on Friday (which is my typical workout: cardio and light weights) should actually help the disk pain and slow the progression of disk degeneration; so, the workout definitely wasn't the trigger, according to him. Tomorrow, they'll be trying a new approach by performing a Cervical Medial Branch Block. The idea is to see if they can block the transmission of pain signals coming from the facet joints to the brain. If it works, then it means I'm a good candidate for Cervical Facet Radio Frequency Neurotomy (RF treatment), which basically uses radio frequency energy to damage the facet joint nerves, thereby cutting off pain signals to the brain. Tomorrow's process is more of a test, during which they're main goals are 1)to determine if the facet joints are the source of the pain and 2)if the branch block will be effective in blocking the pain signals. If both of these goals are reached, then we'll move forward to RF treatment, which is a more permanent option. Though they both sound a bit scary (to me, at least), they're options that would hopefully prevent me from needing surgery anytime soon.

At this point, I don't care what they do. I just want the pain to stop, and I don't want to have to worry every 4-6 weeks when the next episode is going to strike. What am I supposed to do if this shit hits me while I'm in England? Luckily, my doctor included refills on both the pain pills and the muscle relaxers: God bless that man.


supadiscomama said...

Ouch! I hope those procedures help A LOT. Have you talked to your doctor about your plans to get pregnant? I wonder if he has any advice for you...maybe regular massages or something (darn)?

M said...

I hope these procedures to the trick! I'll be thinking of you tomorrow. Let me know if you need any help while you recover--including picking Baby E. Wild Man would be happy to have a friend over tomorrow afternoon.

AcadeMama said...

Supa: The neurologist says that steroids and vicodin are safe after the first trimester (i.e. he gave the example of women who have bad asthma and use steroid inhalers), but muscle relaxers are not. I'm going with my gut on this one though, as I just don't feel comfortable with the idea of taking steroids at any point during pregnancy. Both doctors explained that any weight gain during pregnancy will increase the tension on my back and neck, so the best I can do is limit the weight gain to the average 25 lbs. or so and implement physical therapy exercises. And at this point, as soon as I feel better, I'll be fronting the money for PT, even if it's just a couple visits to learn what exercises will help.

M: thanks so much for the offer to help! I'm not sure how long the effects of the anasthesia will last, so I'll let the hubby know we can call on you if we need help with E.

mgm said...

That totally sucks! I hope these new treatments work for you.

Jennie said...

I'm so sorry you're going through this. Ouch!