Tomorrow I go to the hospital for a Medial Branch Rrhizotomy. For the past year I have been a patient of a progressive Spine Pain Center. They’ve been trying to figure out why it’s so hard for me to walk.
They still don’t know.
Of course there are theories. I rode horses growing up and at night my legs felt like the circulation had stopped. It was unbelievable pain. My mother called it “growing pains”. This Christmas she and I talked about those days and she remembered how much pain I was in. I would take aspirin and that would fix it. I learned to lie down and not move until the pain stopped. During a school trip in the ninth grade to Washington, DC, my friends had to carry me to the bus because after a day of sightseeing, I could no longer walk. All my girlfriends desperately went in search for aspirin. Someone found some and I sat in my seat, not moving and hoping nobody could tell I was in excruciating pain.
When I was 18 years old, I don’t remember getting any tests done, but our family doctor put me on quinine. That helped but when I left home for good after turning 19, I had no health insurance, so I couldn’t afford medicine. From then until I was in my mid-40′s, I knew that if I stood over 6 hours, I would suffer extreme pain in my legs and feet. I’d mention it here and there to doctors but nobody investigated. They said I should exercise more and wear different types of shoes. Eventually I could no longer take aspirin or quinine because they made my ears ring. No other over the counter pain medicine had any effect.
It’s funny how we make subtle changes in our everyday lives to accommodate pain. I stopped going to museums, for example. Friends and family took my kids to amusement parts because I couldn’t go. I used to love to hike but that stopped. I could run and walk miles because I didn’t do that for 6 hours and I wasn’t standing.
I’ve had every type of massage therapy and lots of things I no longer remember the names of. I worked with oils, meditation, relaxation, and tried every bit of pain management except hanging upside down from the ceiling. I went on cleansing diets. Prayed. Stretched. Took exercise classes. Stopped eating. Tried macrobiotics. I even went to school to learn shiatsu in the hopes I could fix myself.
Give me Drugs
Finally, it was obvious to everyone I had a real problem. When 2 hours of standing was enough to land me on the couch for several hours, I went to my family doctor and surrendered. I’ve been on pain killers for about 4 years and can now stand for 15 minutes tops. Everything after that is me making sure nobody can tell it hurts like hell to be walking or standing next to you unless I’ve taken my pain medicine. To avoid addiction, I choose to be in pain as long as I can stand it.
I have so many doctors and none of them agrees on what causes me pain. Slipped disk, but it’s a minor one. Arthritis yes but not severe. Tipped pelvis is my favorite one because the doctor said it explains why I have a rear end “Hollywood women would die for”. (Yes, a doctor really told me that.) “Knock knees” was pointing to, as was my bust. Really? I can’t stand without pain because of a 40C rack? I have fascia pain. Muscle pain. There is a very obvious dip in my lumbar spine. The crux of it is that I think it is structural and gets worse as I age, but I don’t know why.
Work Goes On
The only time any of the pain interferes with my work is if I would do something like dumb like go the shopping mall and then try to work. A trip to a mall requires a day of bed rest. I work with computers and need my brain and hands, and they work fine. When I travel, I try not to groan in pain in front of anyone. If I can’t beg off an invite to dinner that’s a “short walk away”, I buck it up and go. After my last trip to Chicago for a conference, I was on bed rest for 3 days and doubled up on pain killers.
This is why they are burning off my nerves tomorrow.
I’ve had 2 epidurals and they offered no pain relief. They then did 2 diagnostic medial nerve tests where they poke you with needles and try to figure out which medial nerves are the ones screaming at me the most. I cried during the first one and I never cry. I have a personal code about crying. One of my friends says my pain is because I don’t express the crying emotion. He also thinks it’s a past life injury. Whatever.
You know how it feels when you hit your funny bone in your elbow? That’s what it feels like from my sacrum to my toes and it doesn’t stop. It’s sciatic nerve pain. When my family and I went to Disney World last August, I envied the people in their wheelchairs. To get through one day at the Epcot center, I took 5x the normal dose of my pain killers so I could at least pretend to not be in crippling pain.
Why Tell You This?
I only recently shared the truth about my legs to my moderating staff at Cre8asiteforums because I’ll be down and they’ll take over the Ship. There is a 50 – 85% chance that in around 8 weeks I may be pain free. At first, after they slay the nerves, they will fight back. I’m to expect to be in pain for awhile but able to work. Well, that’s nothing new.
I wondered if writing about this would interfere with my professional reputation. Finally, I decided that I’m tired of not only living with and managing pain, but also pretending I’m not in it at all.