Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Roid Rage

I went to see a physician in the same group who specializes in non-surgical interventions, and performs the steroid epidural injections. I will be honest, I am quite leery of this as I am of any procedure that is merely a treatment and not a cure. I spent many hours researching this subject and came to the conclusion that my best chance here is perhaps that the anti-inflammatory nature of the steroid might reduce the nerve irritation and swelling. With a smaller nerve this would then stop the vicious cycle and reduce the effects of stenosis (since its a smaller nerve now) and perhaps get rid of the pain altogether. There is definitely a chance for that. Back in the day before all of this the standard treatment was weeks of bedrest which has the same effect.

So I scheduled my visit, laid on the OR table, and took the shot. Let me tell you, that was painful beyond words. I have seen many invasive procedures in my day, and imagined that they probably hurt, but man, did this hurt. I thought maybe the novacaine injection would be the most painful part, like most visits to a dentist, however here that was not the case. The novocaine did hurt, but it wasn't quite so bad. It was when the actual epidural needle penetrated the muscle that you realize exactly how painful it is. And then they inject. If it is successful, the steroid medication encompasses the nerve root and you can actually feel it going down your leg. And what does that feel like? Something between having your leg severed and being pummeled with a baseball bat. I mean, I don't want to scare you but that's the truth. Luckily it only lasts a couple of seconds and then--nothing. A very strange experience to say the least.

So what was I expecting from this? According both docs likely a few months of improvement. While there was the hope that it could eliminate the pain altogether, I shouldn't expect it. I did not, and really I full well knew that surgery is coming. What I did not expect was how painful it would be to have, for just a couple of weeks, the ability to live a normal life again. I went for a walk--I even hiked in the park for 3 miles. I stood at work carrying on a conversation without being focused on needing to get back in a chair. I took my camera and was able to take pictures other than on the side of the road. I was able to give a talk and focus on the group, I slept with my legs straight for the first time in months--but this was short lived. I made it 2 weeks before the pain came back again. I made it a full month before I was back to the level of disability I was at before. On my followup visit to the physician it became apparent surgery was much closer than anticipated.

This experience of getting the injection I do not think I would repeat. While having that time was wonderful, and gave me my life back as I knew it before all of this started, the experience has left me in worse spirits then before. It is one thing to lose a part of yourself and begin to adjust, but it is quite another to have it back, and then go through the process of losing again. Considering the risks and long term complications involved from repeated epidural injections, my first was my last.

No comments:

Post a Comment