Sunday, October 26, 2008

Scared out of my mind!

Warning: This post is ridiculously long. It can be filed in the “Too Much Information” file and the “Yuck” file. I wasn’t going to post it for that reason, but this is all I have been thinking about lately, so here it is, the story of my ailing back. This post is also subject to removal once I come to my senses.

Everyone seems to have their own challenges to bear. Once of mine is my back. It’s hard to say when the trouble began, some think it was due to a full pregnancy with a little one pinching my sciatic nerve the whole time. It was a little after S was born that trouble began. But it wasn’t so bad. After R, I did some physical therapy, got it into great shape and was feeling great. Somewhere along the line, in my pregnancy with T, things just shut down. Muscles stopped responding, signals weren’t being sent (think bladder)… it was like I was broken. I was able to regain control over some things, but even after 6 weeks of trying daily to do a sit up, I could only muster one – barely. The muscles in my stomach had been fried somehow and just didn’t want to respond. Anyone who has had a decent amount of back pain, knows that a lot of it is caused from not having enough abdominal support – as in your stomach muscles are weak. It was during this time that I decided to move some furniture around and POP! 4 discs bulged.
The problem was, I was moving furniture out of the way so Ashley Furniture could deliver our bed set. My husband, who was moving it with me, didn’t know what to do with me. I was stuck right in the middle of the doorway, couldn’t move an inch. All I could think about was getting out of the way of those delivery guys, how embarrassing would that be if they saw me on the floor. What would my husband say to them? “Just set the bed on the floor, over there, by the crazy lady.”? I talked Hubby into dragging me (literally) into the closet (it wasn’t like I would be going down stairs and that was the only place with carpet that was out of the way) With the delivery guys knocking at the door, my DH dragged me into the closet, sent S in there to sit with me and let the Ashley guys in. I could hear them the whole time as they set up our bedroom set. I just kept hoping they didn’t know I was in the closet right by them. S kept making me laugh and J found his way in to the closet to tell me he was sorry he “stepped on a crack” that day. Once the bed was set up, hubby had to call his brother in law to come move me onto the bed. Talk about humiliating! I have never felt every pound of mine as I did then, with two grown men trying to heft me up onto the bed… The rest is pretty much history. I have been struggling with this silly back of mine ever since.
I have tried everything I can think of. Massage, physical therapy, injections, chiropractic, personal training, and the list goes on. Everything gets me to a functioning level, and then plateaus… eventually reverting back to a painful state. I had high hopes this last go around with this amazing chiropractor, but the end result was the same. After a couple months of doing great, my back is as bad as ever. Evidently, I now have a touch of arthritis in some joints along with the bulging discs. Makes me sound old, doesn’t it?
So, now what? Ever heard of a Pain Institute? I am beginning to think they call them that because they inflict pain, not fix it.
The last two weeks I have had what is called a Medial Branch Block. It is a diagnostic injection to see if the real treatment will work on you. You have to have two of them. They say this is “no big deal” and “nearly painless”. I, naïve as ever, believed them and went in the first time thinking they were right in their description. Boy, was I ever a fool! I have never experienced anything so horrible. Even childbirth, with all its pain and suffering, doesn’t compare. With childbirth, you at least have a goal, a prize at the end of the relay, something to hold and say “I did it.” With this? Nothing. Nothing but needles and a cold room. You are awake the whole time so they can determine how much relief you are getting. I turned into a blubbering idiot. The doctor kept telling me to hold still, but all I could do was throw up. I kept going in and out of coherency. I am sure if I had been sitting up, I would have passed out. My whole body felt like it was on fire. It was so painful. I was definitely NOT prepared for this “virtually pain free” procedure.
I was a crazy wreck getting ready for the next one. But, I wasn’t going to be unprepared. I got a blessing from my husband this time. I am SO grateful for the comforting power of the priesthood. When he laid his hands on my head and began the blessing, all nervousness left. I was able to calm down and think clearly. I got my IPod and set it to my favorite relaxing music. The staff thought I was a little weird for bringing in my music, and maybe I was, but it sure did help. I was able to focus on the words of the blessing and the music. It took a lot of effort, but I definitely felt the arms of the Lord surrounding me. I was able to get through the procedure without one tear, without throwing up or passing out. It wasn’t pleasant by any means and still took a couple days for me to feel back to normal (even though they said it wouldn’t affect me that way) but I didn’t lose it!
They have determined that these Medial Branch Blocks were effective enough to warrant the “real” procedure. I wasn’t too worried about this because they said I could be sedated. Whew! Anything to not feel that again.
It is called Radio Frequency Nerve Ablation. It is as if they have taken this straight from a science fiction movie… no kidding. Oh yeah, and their term “sedate” doesn’t mean “asleep.” I have to be awake during the whole thing so I can tell them what I am feeling. I will only be “relaxed.”
Using X-Ray guidance, a probe will be placed into the offending part of my spine. Once the probe is in place, it will be used to stimulate the area in an attempt to reproduce the usual pain. The motor nerves will also be stimulated to see if they can get the muscles to contract. I am supposed to communicate with them how I am feeling (that really doesn’t sound good, think “Princess Bride”) Once they have determined correct placement of the probe, they will connect the probe to low voltage electricity. This will heat up and destroy the nerves. It should give me relief for up to 18 months (in which time I am supposed to use strengthening my ab muscles and back) once I recover.
For this procedure, they say it is LIKELY I will feel some pain and discomfort for a few days. OK – do you see a problem here?? The one they said was pain free nearly cost me my sanity. It was SO painful. Now, if this one is SUPPOSED to be painful, what the heck am I getting myself into? Oh yeah – and I have to do it TWICE!!! This Thursday and next. So, if you see me wobbling around on Friday, you will know why.
I just don’t know if I have enough faith to not be scared of this one… it sounds awful. Something about being strapped on a table, half awake, unable to make it all stop when it begins, I don’t know. It took everything I had in me to get through the last one. I just don’t know if I can do this one. It is more than a little scary to me.
So, there is my story, whether you wanted it or not…


Our Crazy Family said...

Kathy--we will keep you in our prayers on Thursday--call if you need help! Back pain is seriously the WORST! As if just being a mother isn't enough, you surely can't do it with a bad back! I hope this procedure works for you!

Erin said...

PLEASE let me know if you need a meal or two...this does not sound like fun and I would love to help if I can!

Sharla said...

I am so sorry for your pain. Because of the smile you always wear on your face, I would never be able to tell. You are a strong woman. I was reading a talk this morning that made me think of you.,5232,23-1-947-9,00.html
It's by Joseph B. Wirthlin, given at last Conference. I hope you will find comfort and relief in your affliction, and know that there are lots of people who love you and are willing to help in any way (including me). Best of luck with your procedure!

Heatherly said...

I had no idea! Please know if there is anything you need I am here for you!You are in our prayers! said...

Gosh! I didn't know you had the first procedure done twice already. I'm so sorry. I'm so glad you got a blessing.
We will be rooting and praying for you! As mom would say, "you're a trooper!"
Love you! said...

Gosh! I didn't know you had the first procedure done twice already. I'm so sorry. I'm so glad you got a blessing.
We will be rooting and praying for you! As mom would say, "you're a trooper!"
Love you!