Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pain? I don't got to have no stinking pain!

God bless my mom, my sister, and Julie.

When I was 16, I went to my sister's house to help out with her 2 year old when she had the new baby. At least, this is what I was told. In all reality, and with the clarity of hindsight, I think I went to my sister's house so my mom would know where I was and what I was doing.

I am sure that I do not have the medical details right but I will tell you what I remember. My sister had a "saddle block" which at that time involved injecting not only drugs into the spinal system but also gas. I do not know what kind. I do know that part of the recovery instructions involved staying flat. Absolutely flat. For 3 days.

We, as a family, are not great at following directions. The three of us girls, in particular, follow the example of my mom, who is one of the great stoics of all time. We were also brought up in a culture of, when given any trouble, offering it up to God. We were not great at pampering ourselves or putting ourselves first.

My sister moved. The top of her head tried to come off. It made a definite impression on me.

Fast forward 4 years. I was pregnant and knew, beyond anything else that I knew, that I was NOT having a saddle block. No one was sticking needles in my back. No one did. I had both of my girls using natural childbirth. It hurt like the devil but at least the top of my head did not try to remove itself.

Fast forward 26 years. My daughter was pregnant and allowed me to be present while she gave birth to the Moose. She knew, beyond anything else that she knew, that she did NOT want to be in pain. I am not sure what they called it in 1999 but my daughter, who despises needles, allowed an anesthesiologist to stick a needle in her back.

My son-in-law and I sat with Juls. The only way you could tell that she was having a contraction was the way that her big toe twitched and the fact that you could see the contraction on the monitor. We watched her toe and laughed at her. I watched her son be born with barely a pain. It made a definite impression on me.

Fast forward 11 years. I went to take a step and my right leg refused to hold me. I did not fall but the pain was, literally, debilitating and excruciating. I cancelled the class I was supposed to teach that night and Shorty took me to the emergency room. There they did x-rays of my calf and ruled out a blood clot. They sent me home with Aleeve and told me to elevate it. I still could not walk.

The next day, I went to see my primary care physician, explained the pain to him and he immediately diagnosed sciatica and ordered a set of x-rays on my lower back to check for a pinched nerve. He ordered some better pain meds and sent me home. Turns out, I did not have a pinched nerve but the doctor did say that I had "significant" arthritis in my spine. I did not even know that you could get arthritis in your spine. He referred me to a pain specialist at the Acute and Chronic Pain and Spine Center.

There, I was once again examined and sent off for a Doppler of my leg to rule out blood clots and an MRI to figure out what was going on. I do have significant arthritis in my spine, specifically L4, L5, and S1. The game plan is to inject steroids in the facet joint between these vertebrae and see if that gives relief. If it does, they will use a laser to deaden the nerves between those vertebrae, thus completely doing away with the pain. Sounded good, except for the needle in the spine part. I prayed about this and I kept remembering, not my sister, but my child.

Today, I had the first injection, on the right side. Tomorrow, I get the second injection, on the left side. I try not to think about the fact that they do one side at a time so that, if they paralyze you, it's only on one side! The procedure - that's what they call it, a procedure - was painless. Now that the anesthetic has worn off, there is some minor pain at the injection site but not much at all.

So, in addition to thanking my doctors, I would like to thank the women in my past: my mother, who taught me to "suck it up", my sister, who showed me the importance of following doctor's instructions, and my daughter, who showed me how to not be a coward. Thanks, y'all!


Sayre said...

Gosh, I hope this works for you! Having bouts of arthritis myself, I can relate. Every six months or so, I wind up having to use a cane and lots of ibuprophen to be able to move. It lasts about a week, then goes away again. Very odd.

What Juls had was an epidural. I had one when I had my son by c-section. Didn't feel a thing except like someone had turned my middle into jello, and that was mostly because Z wanted to stay in there and the doctor had to wrestle him out!

Good luck with your procedures!!! It actually sounds quite promising.

Pamela said...

my husbands mother had it in her spine... I don't think they had any treatment for her like this though. Sounds like it did right by you.

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