anxiety, chronic illness, chronic pain, disabled, drugs, health, illness, medical marijuana, surgery

epidural steroid injection

on thursday i am going to have my sixth epidural  steroid injection. the injection helps control the pain from the problems in my back. i have spinal stenosis which is a narrowing of the spinal column which causes some if the discs to get squashed (like my technical term?) and pinch nerves.

i have problems at L4 and L5 as well as the sacroiliac joint. my pain doctor performs the procedure.

they say “procedure” but to me it seems a lot like surgery! i have to fast, stop taking NSAIDS several days before, etc.  i go to the surgery center and change into a hospital gown, a icky  papery shower cap sort of thing to gather up my hair. they give you cool socks with treads on the bottom. i love them. i’ve quite a collection now.

two nurses come in and put you under a blanket from a warmer, oh jeez that feels good. no matter how hot it outside, it’s freezing cold in the surgery center, plus it’s just reassuring to have a warm blanket over you. they put in an iv and ask me a million questions. even though i’ve done this many times, i still feel a little scared each time.

the nurses are so very very nice. when the doctor finishes her previous case she comes in and talks to me and then they roll me into the OR which is incredibly cold. i have to roll over onto the operating table and lay on my tummy. there is a head rest, like they use during massages. they start giving me fentynal and versed–conscious sedation. you are high as a kite, so it’s almost fun. lol

i hate laying there for 45 minutes with basically nothing on, my butt just hanging out, uncovered. joy. luckily the drugs make you not care too much because i find it extremely discomforting to be nude in a room full of people. there are lots of nurses. the doctor wears a lead apron because they use a giant x-ray  machine that is mounted  on the ceiling and tilts around as they need it to. that’s how they know exactly where  to inject the cortisone…pretty important since they’re putting it in my spine. the injections hurt some going in, but after that it’s not too bad.

when they’re done i get back on the gurney, more embarrassment because the hospital gown is totally open and practically flapping around as you move. then everybody gets to see everything!  i’m sure they don’t give a shit, seen it a million times. but i do! once you’re on the gurney they immediately drown you in warm blankets. the feeling is so good, like the drugs, it’s almost worth it just for that. lol

in the recovery room they put ice packs on your back, keep you awhile for making sure your vitals are good and you’re not going to have a bad reaction or flip out or whatever.

omg i have to pee once i get out of the operating room, so that’s a priority! another time i had this surgery, the surgeon was an hour an half late so i feel asleep. i woke up  and they were rolling me into the OR and i had to pee bad, i mean really really bad. but we were practically there so i couldn’t say anything. it was horrible!  i was pretty sure i would wet myself on the table. that’s not so good for a sterile environment. thank goodness the drugs made it so i didn’t feel like i had to pee. when i got out of surgery, i didn’t have to pee badly, go figure!

you don’t stay in the recovery long and your ride comes and takes you home. you have to have someone stay with you for 24 hours. then the back pain kicks in. it’s pretty unfun for a few days. i’ve got quite a bit of various medical marijuana edibles for that time.

after that, you wait. sometimes the injections work and sometimes they don’t. it’s a crap shoot. last one keep my pain low for about 9 months! most of the others did nothing. but i’ll try anything time after and after.  the pain is very motivating.

so now i get to worry about it until 8am on thursday. 😦

i’ll be ok though, i always am. 🙂

chronic pain, medicine, surgery

my hands

my hands are ruined. i don’t talk about it nearly as much as i do with my other ailments, it’s kind of complicated, especially because it’s a bit weird. plus it’s an emotional pain that can be hard to talk about because, i said in the title, i feel as though 4 surgeries made my hands worse than they were before. they feel ruined because i think the surgeon wasn’t open with me, and i don’t think she even knew what it was going to be like. she was so casual about doing more surgeries. as things went downhill i listened to her because she was the surgeon and i felt so intimidated and out of control. i wish i had thought about it more. there was nothing to research because i really don’t think anybody has done this before. also, i had the problem so much worse than worse than most people ever get.

most people are familiar with trigger finger. it’s a problem when a ligament catches on  something as you bend your fingers the get stuck and you have to straighten out the joint with your other hand. it’s painful and makes it very hard to do normal tasks.

most people who get it have it in one finger  i had it in all ten. when i told my GP about it and she sent me to an orthopedic surgeon. the first step is is getting cortisone shots to diagnose the problem. the doctor shoots you up with the steroid in the joint that’s affected. i get injections in my knees, 12 per knee per year. they hurt, a lot. but try getting an injection in your hand! the first one i got was in my right thumb. i said (and i’m sorry but i have a terrible potty mouth) FUCK! when the needle went into the joint. later i got one in my pinkie and that was even worse.

it didn’t respond, so she decided i needed surgery. i was ok with that, it was a small surgery and i’ve had surgery before. it was really easy, i chose to do it with general anesthetic because i have a horror of waking up on the table and conscious sedation didn’t seem like enough.

to speed things up (it’s a long story!)  other fingers  in that hand started manifesting trigger finger symptoms. more cortisone shots. the surgeon decided the best thing to do was to fix the other four fingers because she didn’t want me to have several surgeries. ha! so it was four fingers at once. when i got my bandage changed the nurse couldn’t believe i had so many  fingers done at once. my hand was huge and black and blue there were four deep cuts on my palm. that one was not easy. the healing took a long time and the stitches were not ready to come out when they were supposed to. my fingers wouldn’t close all the way, so i went to a hand physical therapist. omg she was hardcore. lisa. she had no mercy!

that sort of healed. then the problem showed up in my left hand in several fingers, so she operated on all five fingers. the nurses at the surgery center kept asking me over and over, all five? all five? that surgery was scary and miserable to heal.

i was horrified when the trigger finger  showed up in the left hand again. it was in three fingers, so she decided to do all five AGAIN. i ask  myself why i did it, but i have to remember that there was actually a valid reason. the trigger finger that came back in those three fingers of my left hand. it hurt, just like before. i was unable to do much with that hand without my fingers caught and becoming useless.

i think the doctor was getting a bit horrified herself because she sent me back to lisa the *day after surgery.* she had me on a really high dose of percocet because the physical therapy was really tough. i was going three times a week from then til forever it seemed like. lisa told me to ice it and tape it up tight when it hurt in the future; she knew it would.

so four surgeries later, my hands, especially the left, hurt a lot and swell a lot on a regular basis. i’ll never be able to wear my wedding rings again.i have lots of ice packs, self adhesive bandages and compression bandages on hand. when it’s really bad, i wrap it up in sports tape. lisa  was really into taping things as tight as  possible.

i feel like my hands are ruined.