those who know me well know i don’t do doctors. they are, for me, the last resort when all other avenues to health have been exhausted. so it was not an easy decision to submit to the ministrations of a surgeon. but there were no more options left to me. i’d tried everything to deal with the pain to no avail.
so yesterday was the day. i’ll tell you, when you spend so much time dealing with things on your own and then walk back into the medical break and enter arena, it’s shocking. i must say, first off, that the doctor and nurses were all extremely careful, caring and *interested* in the welfare of the patients there…that was the nice part. the surgeon spent time with me before the procedure to actually get to know me. he was easy to talk to and not at all taken with himself. a real, genuine, nice guy. i decided to trust him. the nurses all seemed happy and upbeat–always a good sign as they are the ones who really know what the deal is about patient care.
having a needle inserted up through the sacrum and into the spinal canal is freaky. of course, they gave me a local anesthetic, so i didn’t feel the puncture, but i could feel the thing travel inside me. it felt like pressure for the most part, but an odd, scary kind of pressure. first, they inject dye so the doctor can “see” where he’s going. once everything is in place, he injects lidocane and cortisone to sort of “bathe” the area. the lidocane of course is a fast acting anesthetic to numb you out for less than an hour. the cortisone acts for the long-term to bring down inflammation of the nerves, which hopefully reduces pain so that a decent quality of life can be restored.
to say that the procedure was uncomfortable doesn’t describe it–in fact, it hardly expresses what the experience was like. it was strange and scary but i can’t really find words that work (and maybe i don’t want to?). injecting the meds is done in stages so as not to overwhelm — inject, wait, inject, wait, inject, wait — but oh, that last one was a doozy! i felt pressure at the site, then oppressive pressure out my hips and down both my legs. and then it was over. took probably 10-15 minutes from puncture to bandage.
throughout the whole thing the doctor kept saying, are you ok? are you ok? yes, i’m fine. but damn, i felt like saying, please shut up so i can concentrate on my breathing. but i remembered my manners and was good. which really wasn’t so hard since, like, ya don’t wanna get the guy with the needle up your spine pissed off.
afterwards, they walked me out to sit in a chair and gave me juice and crackers and called brni to come sit with me. poor brni came round the curtain with such a look of concern and worry in his eyes, i would have had him sit in the recovery chair, if i had been in any shape to get up. i began telling him the interesting parts of the procedure when i started feeling funny. my lips got cold and numb. a sensation of cold fumes rose up my throat, and i started feeling lightheaded–high, and then i began to move inside. i do that when things go wrong–move inside to some private cocoon where the outside world sort of fuzzes out and i don’t feel anything.
brni went and got a nurse and then all hell broke loose. they reclined my chair, put a cold, wet rag on my forehead, shoved oxygen up my nose while another nurse (there were 3 nurses and the doctor all fussing about) readied my arm to insert an IV so they could push fluids.
that’s when i said, NO! WAIT! i’m feeling much better–please stop.
they all stopped and said, are you sure?
yes, i’m sure.
are you just saying that so we won’t shove the IV up your arm?
well, that’s part of it, but i am feeling better.
i think they shocked me out of shock.
anyway, i finally convinced them i was ok.
and guess what?
i get to do it all again in three weeks.
meanwhile, i’m to take it easy. ice for 20 minutes every hour for 3 days, no lifting or pushing or straining or vacuuming!! (i like that one) i should know in 2-14 days how effective the epidural was. what we’re looking for is a reduction in inflammation and pain. if that happens, then i can go back to physical therapy and yoga to try to stabilize the lower back.
and maybe i can even go for a walk again. what a thrill that will be.
but, i should be careful what i say (or type) outloud.
i don’t want to jinx it.