So, I can’t remember if I have talked about this shit on here before or not.
Anyway, starting in 2008, I have had off and on lower back issues: basically, a couple of bulging discs and an inflamed sacroiliac joint (where the base of the spine meets the pelvis). In October 2008, I was at work one day, doing whatever stupid bullshit law office job I was doing at the time, and all of a sudden, my back was in screaming, unrelenting pain. It wasn’t like “oh, I picked up something too heavy” or “oh, I should have known better than to move the couch by myself.” It felt like someone was poking me in the spinal cord with a hot poker. That night after work, I went to the minor emergency clinic. The doctor had me lay on the exam table and then lifted my right leg at a 90º angle. I thought I was going to die. Evidently, this is a normal test to see if the pain is muscular or discogenic. My reaction indicated that yes, one of the discs in my back *might* have a problem. He wrote me a couple of prescriptions and sent me on my way.
Up until this point, I never really thought much about pain. Sure, I’d had my wisdom teeth out, had a little stint in the hospital for mono where I was in pain, sprained my ankle god knows how many times, had a couple of fairly brutal ear infections in high school and again in my mid-20s, but those were bullshit. The doctor at the minor emergency gave me some 5/750 Lortabs. They might as well have been baby aspirin for all the good they did. The next morning, I called my regular doctor. He watched me gingerly limp into his office, said that the Lortabs were of COURSE not going to do shit, and gave me some Percocet. For a couple of weeks, I was marginally okay. A month, really. I went on vacation, and while my back wasn’t feeling 2000% awesome, I was able to walk around and do touristy and family-visiting things without too much incident. A few weeks later, though, around Thanksgiving, the pain was back with a vengeance. I went for an MRI. They confirmed the disc bulge. I was “laid off” right before Christmas and given 6 weeks severance. I was referred to pain management, but unfortunately, they couldn’t fit me in for anything until January.
In January, I went for the first epidural steroid injection. During this procedure, they sedate you, then shove six-inch-long needles into your spinal column. Well, they did the SECOND part. The first part didn’t really work so much. I had no idea that this was even a possibility. I’d been sedated for the wisdom teeth (don’t remember shit) and for an endoscopy because they thought I had gallstones and not mono (don’t remember much except the lead-lined cheerleader outfits the techs wore, which I thought for a while might have just been a hallucination because I was on IV Dilaudid for 2 days before they did this and it’s a little hazy, but it turns out the x-ray/CT techs do wear these outfits at all the procedures). It never occurred to me that when someone injected some drugs into a vein, it might not do anything.
So basically, I felt the needles in the spine. I was too shocked to even move, or scream. It was over pretty fast. After I went back to the recovery room, Lando went out in the hall with the nurse and chewed some ass. I had the same procedure done two weeks later (they usually do these in twos or threes), and while I remember it, I don’t remember FEELING it. A week or so after that (it takes a little time to heal after one of these, it pretty much feels like someone stabbed you a bunch of times and then kicked you while they were at it), the back pain was mostly gone. It flared up occasionally, but went away fast and wasn’t an issue.
A couple of years later, another disc decides to act up. This time, instead of the weird shooting pain and numbness on the right, it was on the left. Also, if I sat still for too long, it felt like someone was slowly heating up a small, hard object in my chair cushion. The disc was L5-S1, the lowest lumbar vertebrae/first sacral, so it’s kinda right at your buttcrack. I know y’all wanted to know that. The other pain was from the sacroiliac joint.
This time, the course of treatment was not so smooth. There was the MRI, where I got fat-shamed by the tech. He was a such an asswipe. “Do you have diabetes?” “Nope.” “Do you have high blood pressure?” “No.” “Are you SURE?” “(nonverbal-eat shit and die, cockmaster) “Yes, I’m sure.” Then, even though it was an open MRI (the first one I had was closed), he brings out this thing that looks like a giant metal ribcage. Basically, if you can fit under the cage, they get better images. I fit. Barely. If I didn’t take deep breaths. The test takes about half an hour, during which they tell you not to move, and even though it’s an “open” machine, it’s pretty claustrophobic with this ribcage bullshit on, and I can’t really breathe like I want to because it will dislodge it and then they have to start over. It was horrible, all the way around.
After reviewing the MRI, my regular doctor sends me to an orthopedic surgeon. After my prior experience with epidural injections, I’m not so anxious to start that shit up again. He sends me to physical therapy. It seemed to help at first, a little, but then it seemed to be making things worse. The MRI was in June. I don’t decide I’m really done with PT until early September, when I was in so much pain after a session that I just wanted to crawl into the fetal position and cry. Then he sends me to pain management. The doctor there decides to address the S-I joint issue first. This involves cortisone injections into the joint. They kinda sedate you a little, but they really weren’t that bad. However, they only worked for like 2 days each, and they were several weeks apart. I go back to the orthopedist in serious pain still, and he calls and bitches at the pain management doctor, so they do a couple of epidurals. The sedation isn’t great, but at least it keeps the top edge of the pain to a minimum. We schedule the last procedure for November, which is a nerve ablation on the joint. I guess the insurance requires two injections to diagnose the problem before they’ll pay for the ablation, which involves sticking a lot of needles in and then electrifying them to deaden the nerve endings that are causing the pain.
In the meantime, my gallbladder says “fuck you,” I end up on antibiotics, the ablation gets cancelled, Lando’s car transmission takes a shit, my gallbladder comes out before Christmas, and I have to put the last of my elderly cats to sleep on New Year’s Eve. Fuck you 2011, you go to hell and you die.
The ablation was not pleasant. The sedation for that is kind of sketchy, because they have to have you awake enough to make sure they’re hitting the right nerves. Also, the healing process, while the nerves actually die off, is brutal and involves two weeks plus of worse pain…but then, I was pretty much pain-free.
Until this August.
And it’s all back. The discs, the S-I joint, blah blah blah. So I had the ablation first this time, on September 11th. This time…the sedation didn’t really work at all. The anesthesiologist (I think they’re nurses for this procedure, but not positive) was this older lady, and even though the doctor and I both told her that I’m not easy to knock out, she doesn’t believe us. NO ONE ever believes you when you say you’re hard to sedate or that pain meds don’t work. She finally zapped me with some more Fentanyl, but by then, I’d already dealt with 15 minutes of electrified needles.
Cut to October…23rd? Yes. Time for an epidural. Doctor tells anesthesiologist to turn up the juice, which she does…she gives me a double dose of Versed. I get a little talky for a few minutes, but by the time the needles are going in, I’m stone sober and crying, and by the time they get some more juice going, it’s basically over. I go back to the recovery room in a non-good state, and they bring me some drugs and some juice.
Today, I emailed the doctor’s office and said that I was dreading the procedure I have scheduled for Wednesday and I really don’t want to do that shit sober again, so can he please at least give me some Valium for before.
No response. If I don’t get a response tomorrow morning, I’m going to have to call and get all ass-chewy.
Apparently, this anesthesia resistance is more common in redheads (they have actually done studies on this) and also has a genetic component. When I talked to my dad, he said he has had the same issues…needs 3x the novocaine at the dentist, Versed & Fentanyl basically wear off in 30 seconds, blah blah. My dad isn’t a redhead, so who knows.
Also, in addition to all this bullshit, the back windshield is falling out of my car. Kids, the convertible will look shiny. Dudes will want to sex your car. But IT IS NOT WORTH IT unless you have a garage to keep it in and it’s not your primary vehicle. The fuckers leak. They leak in the rain, and they REALLY leak if you do something dumb right after you buy it like run it through a gas station car wash. And when you put the top down, it stresses the seal around the glass in the back and then it falls out. (This is not the first time, but the first time, the top got slashed by vandals and it was fixed in the process of replacing the top.) So we have to drive to goddamn Edmond (which is at least 30 minutes away from here), drop off the car, and leave there in enough time to be to the hospital by 8:15 a.m. Then I won’t have a car for 2 days. Assuming, of course, that the convertible guys are not full of shit.
If I were the sort to bet (which I’m not, because my luck is pretty fucking bad), I wouldn’t count on my car being done till at least Friday.
*** UPDATE ***
Had epidural today. Explained to the nurse (who thankfully was the same one from last time) that she needed to keep the drugs rolling because apparently they are the only thing my body metabolizes fast. OF COURSE it’s fun drugs. Sigh. Anyway, I also got my pregame Valium, which did improve my mood. I was still slightly nervous, but at least I wasn’t a total basket case. However, I am now pissed off at my goddamn doctor’s office, because the nurse who handles the refills on the prescriptions is being non-helpful. It will be 30 days on Sunday since my last refill, as it should be. I’ve been hoarding, because they always get goddamn picky, even when it’s not anything that GOOD, but the pain after the last injections was awful for a week and I couldn’t not take them. But she’s telling me that you *always* have to make an appointment for a refill (which is a lie, because this same chick just called it into the pharmacy last time); they only make appointments on Wednesdays and Thursdays; etc. Okay, but you also have to sign this stupid contract that says no refill requests on Fridays, no refills on procedure days (Wednesdays), no other doctors can give you drugs, they can make you pee in a cup, basically everything they can do to make everyone in pain feel like a fucking addict even though THAT IS WHY THE SHIT EXISTS. Thanks, hillbillies and teenagers.
I didn’t think I was going to have a car on Thursday, but it turns out I would have bet wrong, because they called today and said it was ready. I asked if the glue was dry, and they said they actually use staples instead of glue. I don’t really care what they use, as long as the window stops leaking and doesn’t fall the hell out. So I call the doctor’s office back and ask for an appointment tomorrow, and of course there’s not one but call back Friday. When they don’t give refills.
Jesus Tap Dancing Christ.
I suppose this could all be worse, but it’s just frustrating. And I don’t even want to go to work tomorrow, because it hurts worse the 2nd day, but if I don’t go, I will get shit from my boss, who has been acting like an entitled dicknugget lately and I’ve had about enough of that shit. He claims to hate certain assholes we used to work for, but like most people in abusive relationships, he is perpetuating the cycle and I’m done with that. (1) He is not the only one with things besides work on his mind. (2) There’s no need for this shit. He wants my “A” game, but he knows and I know that the “B-minus” game is still better than the rest of the office. He is also one of those “I am too macho for doctors and aspirin” types. Well, son, I’m not. So go fuck yourself. (Interestingly, he is also a member of the group of dudes that give each other shit about what they eat for lunch…like “I’m eating fruit and yogurt…what are YOU eating?” The guys are way worse than the women in my office. The women (at least the ones I usually see in the break room) are eating tacos and hot wings and pasta. It’s usually the reverse.) I’m done with entitlement, and if he doesn’t realize this in short order, we’re going to have a problem.
Song of the Day: Ylvis – “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say)”
Today’s Time Waster: Why the above is stuck in my damn head.
What I’m Craving: A new car or some good drugs.