Saturday, May 31, 2008

What a Pain in the Neck!

Arthritis, that is. Thanks to both my parents having arthritis, I have it. Worst part, is that I have it in my back and neck. I've done pretty well so far, but lately it's been getting worse.

A couple of years ago it really started bothering me. I'd get headaches, dizzy, and of course, it would hurt. I wouldn't mind so much but with an 8 year old daughter it often holds me back from doing everything I'd like with her.

I did a couple bouts of physical therapy and I've got medication that helps. But, lately, it hasn't been enough. I blogged about seeing a neurologist once with regard to our healthcare system . . . that's why. For my arthritis. Well, the time finally came . . . cortisone injections.

I said "no" to them once before. I really wanted PT to work. But when you wake up with a headache, go throughout the day with a headache, and go to sleep with a headache, something ain't right. I finally said "yes" to the injections.

The idea is to inject cortisone in to the joint to reduce the inflammation that's pressing on the nerves that are causing symptoms. People have it done all the time. It's just that the spine is a dicey area. Be it the neck or back.

So I had the injection done this past Friday. I was reeeeeally nervous about it. Upset, too, that I'd gotten to the point of needing them at all. The future doesn't bode well for my neck.

When I got to my doctor's office, I checked in. A couple minutes later the receptionist called me up to her desk. Seems she forgot to put me on the schedule. On the one hand, I was happy. I could leave and maybe forget the whole thing. On the other hand, I mentally psyched and ready. I'd just have to go through it all again. After talking with my doctor, they decided I should stay and wait. So I did. It was an honest mistake. But, my wife and I were both off from work for this so it made more sense to hang out for a bit.

It didn't take long. About an hour. As a nurse checked me in, I got a better idea of what was going to happen. While we were talking, my doctor pokes his head in and says, "I'm ready!". Time to go. I could have a little sedation, but I don't. Time to man up.

I laid down on a table face down. They use fluoroscopy to visualize my neck and placement of the needles. After washing the area and positioning me just right, my doctor says "a poke and some burning to numb the area". Needles don't bother me. In fact, had I thought about it, I would have videotaped this. I've had years of allergy shots. So I'm battle hardened. Procedural pain doesn't bother me either. Except in the mouth. Dentists (shiver) I hate 'em.

After the numbing poke (no big deal) we wait.

(Any plans for the weekend? See any good movies lately?) Then . . .

"OK, I'm going to place the needle now. You might feel some pressure. Tell me if anything hurts."

Nothing does. Well, except my back . . . from laying on my stomach and holding my neck in a weird position. I figure that's not what he's asking about.

"I'm close to the joint . . . you might feel pressure . . . "

I do. Feels like my throat is closing. Being pressed on. Hurts a little.

"A little contrast dye . . . good . . . now the medicine."

I feel pressure but it doesn't last long.

"Needle out. Let's do the other side."

And he repeats the same thing on the other side of my neck. This side doesn't hurt at all. It took about 15 minutes to position me and about 3 minutes to do the procedure. Kind of what I thought, but much worse with screaming, blood, crash cart, and seeing Patrick Swayze.

After that I get up and walk to where my wife is waiting. She's shocked I'm done. As the numbness wears off, I can taste the lidocaine. Even after the dentist I get a little woozy from the lidocaine. I rest.

Today my neck hurts and it's stiff. I've iced it and taken ibuprofen and I'm doing OK. Tomorrow I should be good as new.

No guarantees this will work, but everyone thinks it will . . . and I'm hopeful. If it does, it could last several after which the nerve could be burned. Which would last about a year.

So, not bad. Not bad at all. Patrick will have to wait.

No comments: