Those of you who are my regular blog readers know that I have back pain issues, ie, advanced arthritis in all three levels, cervical, thoracic, and lumbar, and herniated discs in multiple levels in the neck and lumbar areas causing spinal stenosis. I have been suffering with this for the last 3 years and things have deteriorated over those 3 years.
I had an appointment with a neurosurgeon last month, but he says I'm not yet to the point for surgical intervention, and even when I am, he is more concerned about the cervical/neck issues more so than the lower back. Since being put a medicine for nerve pain, the neck and arm pain has been relieved. However, the lower back pain is what bothers me from day to day and what concerns me most and limits my activity the most.
Starting in March of 2012, I started getting lumbar epidural injections for the pain and they really helped. They basically gave me my "life" back. I was able to clean house, garden, and walk long distances again. The injections were lasting about 4 months and then it would be time to get another one.
That is...until this past April when I got an injection that only lasted 1 week. :( At that point, I was sent for updated MRI's and then sent to the neurosurgeon, which I already mentioned.
Today I was scheduled for another lumbar injection. In preparation for the injections, I have to go off of all anti-inflammatory drugs for the 5 days before the injection. The anti-inflammatory drugs help decrease my pain by about 60-75%, I would say, so going off of them brings on about 4 days of pure HELLISH PAIN. Basically, for the last 2 days before the injection, I drug myself with every narcotic I have in the house, trying desperately to relieve enough pain to even be able to walk around the house and get a decent night's sleep.
I go through this hell because I know that within minutes of getting that epidural injection, I will be essentially pain-free.
That is the plan, anyway, and has worked in the past.
The doctor tried to get the needle into 3 different levels of my lumbar spine to deliver the epidural medicine. He was not able to get into ANY of them due to bony prominences (bone spurs), and overly-toughened ligaments due to the degenerative processes going on in my spine.
What should have been a 15 minute procedure, turned into a 1.5 hour procedure...all to no avail. That was 3 injections of local to numb the skin...OUCH!!!...and 1.5 hours of me laying on my front trying to lay as still as possible...no moving at all.
First off, people with back pain DON'T lay on their stomachs because it causes too much back pain, and secondly, people with back pain are in constant motion because staying in one place for more than a couple minutes causes pain. I tell people that I am the "queen of movement"...always changing positions, trying to relieve pain from the previous position and trying to find a new, comfortable one.
To then find that all of this was in vain was truly more than I could handle. I left the procedure room in tears and didn't stop crying till I was home and finally just fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.
The doctor seems to think that there are other alternative treatments that we can try, but I was too upset and he was too behind on his other patients to really discuss them today. I have a follow-up with him on Monday to go into these in more depth.
I'm not particularly hopeful because over the last 3 years we have tried a variety of medications and treatments, but the injections were really the thing that gave me back any semblance of "normalcy" to my life.
Needless to say, I am quite upset and worried about how all of this is going to affect my life, work, activities of daily living, etc. I am WAY too young to feel this old or be dealing with these kinds of life changes.
If you've made it all the way through this post, then thanks for letting me vent...