(continued from previous post)
The specialist was able to see me Thursday morning. It wasn’t what I wanted - I wanted to be seen sooner, but I took what I could get. I was so drugged up on Lortab and muscle relaxers that I hurt but didn’t care anymore. I was loopy as hell, and would have agreed to a complete buttcheekectomy at that point.
Thursday, my husband drove me to the specialist - Dr. Otis, who has a very no-nonsense bullshit approach. I like him immensely, and his office was fantastic. They took one look at me crying like a baby in my wheelchair and immediately got me into an exam room so I could lay flat - the only position that provided a bit of moderate relief. Dr. Otis whisked me off for an MRI (since no one else had bothered to do that, and I'd had no xrays done), had me come back to see him that same afternoon so he could review the results with me -- a herniated disc at L5-S1 was the source of all the agony -- and suggested we do an epidural block the very next morning. I was all for it.
Friday morning I woke up in as much pain as I had before, and cried all the way to the surgical center. At 9 am I was rolled into the procedure room, flopped onto my belly, and stuck with a needle as long as my index finger. I could see on the x-ray where the needle was going, and while most people would have found this scary, it was oddly reassuring. It meant that my doctor could see exactly where he was putting the needle - no small thing when you’re talking about your spine.
I was sent home with the warning that I wouldn’t see immediate relief, but that the cortisone part of the injection should begin to take effect over the next couple of days. I still hurt that night when I went to bed, but oddly, it seemed as though the edge had been taken off things a bit. The searing, burning sensation had subsided to a dull roar.
This whole experience has been so very humbling. I am not someone who sits still well, and I am not a person who can simply lay around and watch television. I am active and energetic and I have been trapped in a web of misery because of circumstances beyond my own control. I’ve had to make other people - specifically, my children whose Spring Break I totally ruined - do things for me that I never would have asked them for before. Bring me some iced tea, please, can you lift this pillow up under my legs, can you help me put on my socks because I can’t do it? Oh, and please ignore my screams of agony, because I don’t want anyone to actually look at me when I cry. My hair’s a mess, I haven’t put on makeup in a week, I’m pretty sure I smell funny, and the UPS man brought me a pair of cute new boots that I haven’t even taken out of the box because I can’t walk anywhere in them. For dog’s sake, I’ve been living in sweatpants.
I’m used to being the strong one, the person everyone turns to and depends on, and now, here, I am reduced to realizing I am a mere mortal, just like everyone else.
I don’t like it one bit.
On the other hand, it’s made me very much aware of the blessings I have. I’ve got kids and husband who have worried about me and taken care of me. I have friends -- all of you, who have been so wonderful -- who have been concerned and supportive despite my whining. I have medical benefits that are amazing, and this whole thing will not cost me much at all, despite all the pills and procedures and doctor visits.
And most of all, I know that it’s not forever - I’ll recover eventually, and I’ll be the same active and vibrant person I always have been. I’ll get back to work, hopefully by Wednesday or thereabouts. I’m thankful and grateful that this has been a short-term thing, because I know so many people whose medical issues are chronic and leave them hurting all the time.
It’s now Saturday afternoon, and I’m still flat on the couch. I’m excited because this morning I was able to stand unassisted long enough to pour my own coffee. Also, I sat up for ten minutes before the pain got to be unbearable. If I’m really lucky, I might be able to stand up and take a shower this evening, although I’m not holding my breath for that one. It’s the little blessings that count, right?