This is long and tedious, so get something to drink and sit for a bit.
For the last four weeks, I've been in a daily battle. With my spine. I've never dealt with back pain before and used to believe that much of people's issues with their backs, well pain in general, was more about medicating themselves than real pain. I need to apologize. Much of my belief system stemmed from a brainwashing of sorts because when you work with addicts, sometimes, the goal laid out for you, by others, is to get addicts off their bums and admit that they had a drug problem...not a pain problem. That's for an entirely different post on another day.
I have pain. I am suffering. It hurts and it is hard to deal with most days, most hours and minutes. There. I said it. Pain is one of those symptoms that manifests itself in 1,000 different ways. For me, it looked like irritability, loneliness, depression, hysteria (only one), hyperactivity (from steroids), jealously and an overall crappy disposition. I mostly took it out on myself. I hope. So why do I write about it?
Last week, I just learned that a friend, we'll call him G., has terminal cancer- pancreatic cancer. He's on his third go round and has decided he doesn't want any more of what modern medicine has to offer. His wishes include making it to and through the holidays of 2011. When I found this out, I was speechless. I was also in pain myself that day that we discussed this via email chat. I know, not the best way to communicate something like that. He's an old, old friend from another life and it would have been too messy to pick up the phone. Weird huh? Anyway, I felt like I could relate to his sentiment. After a while, doctors poke and prod at you and you've had enough.
So talking to G. helped put things in perspective. Pain is well, a huge pain. It's invisible to everyone but me. Nobody else can touch my back and feel the hot iron-like sensation that rushes down my leg with a pang so deep it could knock me to the ground. A stranger can't tell that if I don't smile back at them that day, I just had a dizzy moment from the steroids I have to take, for the second time this month. My boss can't hear the desperation in my voice at night when I pray for this pain to be taken away so that I may wake up in the morning with the full use of my legs. It's mind-numbing. But now I get it. I see why someone might want to start crunching on an opiate because they can't move themselves off the couch long enough to pee. Or why it might become an option to lay in bed for 2, no maybe 3 days, because the walls are closing in and the sun has yet to knock on my window pane this week.
My savior has been Larry and the kids, our animals. I am so grateful. He has transported me hundreds of miles, back and forth to another city for doctors, PAs and spine specialists to give me more drugs and shots in the ass. Who else would do this for me and still kiss me at night when I'm shaking with cold sweats from having a heating pad attached to me 24/7? Oh and I just swallowed another round of pain pills? Bless you guys.
The good news? Today a spine specialist (who I found quite charming) fixed me up with an injection at the site of my pain, the SI joint (also known as the sacroiliac - SI). He asked me to lay on the table with my back facing the sky. He returned with two large needles and some numbing spray? fluid. A prompt for, "this will be cold" rang in my ears and immediately I felt the freezing cold liquid on my spine and back. He added more to the site and said, "just in case". Just in case what? I wanted to ask, "Will it hurt?" and "how much?" but I had tolerated the injection in my ass the week before with flying colors. Why would this be any different. He told me, "I'm going to put.....". Wha? Huh? That's all I heard but I know he said more than that. The long prickly needle went at first stingily along through all layers of skin, fat, tissue, and muscle. Then deep. Deeper. "Wait", Doc said. "I need to get it in just the right spot. Doc left the room, I later realized for more numbing stuff. He said, "Don't move, you've got a needle sticking out of your back. Don't roll over ok?" Huh? Is he talking to me? Silence. I could hear my breath. I could hear...the ocean. I could hear my heart beating in my ears. Pounding, irregularly and strong. I might die here.
Doc came back in, sprayed more cold stuff on me and went to town with the needle. Oh my. Oh my God. It ground into my pain, pulverized it like a fist shattering a mirror on the wall. It hurt so deep down that my toes began to tingle, my head went numb and my entire body shook with a shuddering jolt. Hello, fight or flight response. I put my head down on my arms, now drenched with sweat and started to grind my teeth without any awareness to what had just happened. I wept for a brief moment. Wait, wait. I felt like weeping but didn't have the physical strength to cry.
Larry came up to the front of the table to rub my head and ease my pain. "You ok baby?", he questioned. Doc kept talking as if we were having lunch at the yacht club together, something about stretching and muscles. I couldn't hear or see anything. I was on the edge of a black out. I'd been here before and ended up at the infirmary at Florida State University with a needle in my arm. Doc said, "You aren't going to faint on me, are you? No, no. No no no. I wouldn't do that to YOU. Doc later told me it was my sympathetic nervous system keeping me going. Where's the sympathy in that? My fight or flight is still intact. Whew.
All in all, it was one crazy experience. When Doc went to help me off the table, I could stand. I could walk. I wanted to run down the hall and tell everyone that it would be okay. I would heal. They would heal. We would all recover. No surgery needed. No MRI needed. No more missed time from work. No more nights in pain while watching Jeff Lewis on Flipping Out and feeling like I wanted him to be my friend (and decorate my house). But I digress.
Thank you God. Tonight is the first night I can rate my pain as a 4 and feel okay about it.
We can only go up from here, baby.