Saturday, April 7, 2012

Humbled (Part 1 of 2 Posts)

I haven’t had a chance to blog in a while, because during the last December holiday season, my part-time job opened up in to an opportunity at a full-time job. I’d been considering going back to full time for a while, now that the twins are in sixth grade, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity. The money isn’t bad, but it does mean that I’m working five eight-hour days a week, in addition to still writing for About.com, and doing all the other things that I have to get done. This left little time for blogging and writing fun stuff.

By early March, I had gotten into an established routine, my family had been fairly well retrained on all the things I needed them to help me out with around the house, and I figured I could re-establish a regular writing schedule.

Then it all came screeching to a halt.

Around the second week of March, I woke up one morning with a nasty back ache. It was a dull, constant throb, and being the person I am, my response to it was to take it easy and skip the gym for a few days, load up on Ibuprofen, and move on. This worked well enough, and in about a week, the back pain had subsided completely. I did notice however, a residual twinge in my right hip and butt cheek area. For a few days I blew it off, continued my normal routine, and slapped some ice packs and a heating pad on it. That didn’t make it better, but it didn't get worse, which was good enough for me. After all, I’m busy! I got stuff to do!

On Friday, March 29, something went very very wrong.

I climbed out of bed to feel a searing pain in my right leg, shooting from my asscheek all the way down to my foot. The pain was worse when I walked, stood, or sat. Again, being me, I thought I could tough it out. How very mistaken I was. I went to the grocery store to buy food, and by the time I limped to the checkout line, I was in pain with every step, and wondered if I was going to pass out. So I got home, did a little online searching (thanks so much to Anne Asher), and then did something I never do.

I made a doctor appointment.

They were able to see me that afternoon, where my doc informed me I have sciatica. Specifically, a form of it known as piriformis syndrome, in which the piriformis muscle in the butt spasms against the sciatic nerve, causing a pinching sensation. It was bad but at least I was still walking. The doctor sent me home with a prescription for Prednisone, and a muscle relaxer. Ideally, I should be better in a few days.

By Saturday night, it was clear that I was not getting better. In fact it was worse. Every movement of my lower body - in any position - felt like someone had plunged a hot dagger into my hip and sliced downward. HARD. Anyone who knows me in person will tell you I’m not a crier -- in fact, I’m not sure my children have ever seen me cry -- and yet I was sobbing and howling like an infant. I was trapped, flat on my back on the living room couch. By Sunday, I knew I needed further medical intervention.

My husband was at work and couldn’t get anyone to fill in for him, so I called a friend (thanks, Trina!) to pick me up and drop me off at Urgent Care. Sitting upright in the waiting room was a special form of hell, because of course the sciatic nerve runs through the part of your body YOU SIT ON. They finally saw me, my husband arrived right around the time they gave me an injection of something else for the pain, and the doctor confirmed sciatica. I was sent home with a prescription for Percocet for the pain. Again, I was told I’d get better if I just stuck it out.

But I didn’t. I spent two more days flat on my back, and every movement was an exercise in torture. Tuesday morning, I called the doctor again, sobbed into the phone, and was told to come see her. This time, she referred me to a specialist. She also gave me Neurontin, which is an antispasmodic, and Lortab, since the Percocet wasn’t helping me at all with the pain (apparently I am a bit of an anomaly, since Percocet is actually a stronger narcotic than Lortab).

Fortunately, during this entire process, I’d had some degree of contact with the outside world. Thanks to my laptop and my iPhone, I was texting and chatting and messaging with friends - some of whom offered useful suggestions, others of whom just provided mental support when I needed it most. One of them (thanks Nicole!) had even recommended going to see the same specialist practice that my primary care doc had suggested. Finally, it looked like I might get some help.

(continued in the next post)

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