Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Herniated Disc Update #3

Another month, another update.  Actually I was emailing my PT who had asked for my blog link and I was telling her how I started it in 2008 so I could have a place to go back and see how far I'd come and how much work I was putting into my diet and OH MY GOD I'm doing the same thing only for a herniated disc.  Isn't that a kick in the pants.

Well then.  It has only been three months since my saga of the disc began.  It feels like a lot longer than that, but I suspect that's what being in immense pain for more than two months will do to a person - it warps the timeline because of how long a day is when you hurt so bad.  I hope to NEVER hurt like that again.

My second epidural steroid injection gave me the pain relief I needed for about five weeks.  It wasn't 100% but it was a lot.  Then the nerve pain started to come back at the groin area and yes, you guessed it, I found that out when I sat down.  At least it didn't get horrible, but I was looking forward to my next injection very much.

I had my third visit with my pain doctor a week ago yesterday.  After listening to my list of issues he said he was encouraged at the news of the pins and needles that I have been feeling many many many times a day, from my just below my knee to the entire front of my shin.  He said that the nerve was waking back up which meant all of this was working.  I can put up with it; it's annoying as you might imagine, but it doesn't hurt, and if it means that I'm healing, then that's OK.

We went over my medications and I asked if I could stop using the Butrans patch, reason being that I'm feeling better - but am I feeling better because of the injection, or because of the pain meds, or both?  He was good with that and also good with my request for a prescription of the lowest dosage of Butrans just in case I end up feeling more pain than I'd like after I stop using the higher dosage patches.  I'd love to get by with just Aleve, and of course, the Gabapentin, which is the nerve medicine.

It looks like Gabapentin and I are going to be friends for quite a while.  I wasn't sure it was doing anything until I missed my evening meds one night; the following day my leg felt like it had creepy crawlies going up and down from the inside.  Which is different from the pins and needles, in case you were wondering.  Anyway, yes, it's working.  It's also giving me some lovely side effects in the form of brain fog, clumsiness, and shaking hands.  We discussed cutting down the dose but for now I'm going to try taking the entire dose in the evening to see if it helps with the side effects.

I appreciated it so much when my doctor and the woman in the treatment room - I know her name but not what her medical title is - both said independently of each other that they wanted me to be an active participant in my pain management and gave me the option to change up when I took the Gabapentin, and how if I had a particularly bad flare of pain, I could take an additional tablet earlier in the day, and also to call them if I felt like something wasn't working and they'd work with me to get me something that would help.  I don't have to wait six weeks between appointments to make a medicine change and that was good to hear.  I feel a little more empowered as I go through this herniated disc recovery.

I had my third epidural steroid injection that day, done the same way as the previous one, which was transforaminal (going in through the side of the vertebrae instead in the middle).  Everything went well, Jeff took me home to lay flat on the couch for the rest of the day, which I did like the model patient I am.  I felt really good the following day and even got myself dressed decently to go pick up a prescription and then go audition new purses:
Doesn't everybody empty out the paper stuffing from store purses and put the contents of their current purse inside to see if it's a good fit?  And then take some pictures so you can go home and ponder the finalists?  Also, ya think I like blue?  I didn't realize how much blue I had going on there, with my dress, phone case, and purse.  

Based on how things went for the last two injections, I knew that I'd feel crummy the second day after the injection and was prepared for a day of nausea and misery.  But it didn't happen, and I thought well hey, maybe my body is becoming accustomed to these steroid injections.

Uh, that would be a no.  Toward the evening I had the steroid flush - my cheeks got really red and I got hot.  My head got hot.  My hair got hot.  Oh yeah, and I was nauseated.  I went to bed with an ice pack on my head and a barf bag at my side, just in case.  The next day shaking was added to the aforementioned side effects.  And depression and despair because I was so freaking tired of feeling crappy.  The flush would happen, I'd run a little fever for an hour or so while my head was hot, and then it would ease up for a bit.  It was a rollercoaster of redness, hot hair, fever, shaking, depression, and despair (which are called 'mood swings' in the list of side effects...no, they are MOOD SWINGS) until Sunday morning.  I might get a few hours' relief and think OK, it's over and then bam, it would happen again.

I can't wait to get another injection in six weeks.  Said with some sarcasm.  OK a lot.  As long as I keep getting better and better I'll put up with the after effects, but I'm not looking forward to them...who would?

26 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry to hear all this is happening to you. I'm glad you are getting help with your pain and that you can get shots instead of having to have back surgery. I hope this latest shot kicks in and you get back to feeling much better every day.

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  2. While I'm so sorry you have to deal with this, I'm glad you're making progress and that you can see it! I get that steroid flush too--it was really bad when I had my knees injected last summer. Do they give you zofran for nausea? It's amazing. Hang in there Shelley. <3

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    1. I had an Rx for zofran from when the pain meds were making me so sick but of course I didn't think about using it until toward the end of this. It helped but not with the steroid flush.

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  3. Oh wow, I did not realize all these little pains and side effects you had going on. I recognized the med "Gabapentin " because it is a med for arthritis pain in dogs. I did not realize it was for humans as well.

    I desperately need to audition new purses. I've been using one that is clearly for fall.

    Hope you are able to manage your pain well until there is no more pain. -M

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    1. Thanks, and I hope you find a summery purse in your auditions! :)

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  4. All these side effects are hard, but I'm glad you are healing. I hope you'll be back to your old self again soon.

    What???? You're not supposed to put your stuff in the new purse to see if it fits? I thought that was a requirement. LOL

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    1. HAHA, I wondered if I was the only one who did that around here because a few other shoppers kept glancing at me every time I did this. I did shove that paper back inside each purse, so there was nothing too weird about this, right?

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  5. Well, its not the Summer of Shelley is it? I feel for you, girl.

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  6. What a delightful summer you are having! :/ I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this. I hope the medicine keeps working!

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    1. I know, this summer has not been fun. I just want to feel like my old self - shoot, I'll take 95% at this point!

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  7. I have never auditioned a new purse before, only eye-balled it and hoped for the best. You can bet THAT"S not going to happen again, especially since I hate the one I'm currently using and just can't get the gumption to go shop for a new one. Thanks for permission to try it on!

    I do hope you're back on your feet after the latest treatment. I'm sure that even though you know the side-effects are coming, it is still nasty to have to live through :-( But it sounds like you have a stellar team who works well with you, what a difference that can make!

    I am currently having an issue with my lower-back/glute area, thinking it might be sciatica? Not sure, but not able to run for a few weeks now with no real improvement so far. I'm rolling and bridging and stretching and praying I don't have to go spend quality time at PT...it's just no fun, isn't it? Hang in there!

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    1. My thinking is, I would try on a pair of jeans before I'd buy them, so why not a purse? Go for it and let me know if you find one you love!

      I hate hearing low back and glute pain and I hope you can get it resolved on your own, but yeah, a PT may be the way to go otherwise.

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  8. This whole thing sounds so extremely frustrating, and I'm really sorry you're still dealing with it. But pins and needles sound good, and I think you're in great hands with a doctor who actually hears you and wants you to be involved in your recovery! That's huge! I've definitely had bad experiences with doctors who keep throwing meds at you until something works because they can't just take the time to listen and work with you.

    I definitely feel you on the groin pain to a degree - a few weeks ago I had surgery to have a tumor (a benign fatty tumor, because even my tumors are fatty - ha!) removed from my groin and OMG you don't realize how many movements involve your groin until it's bugging you. Sitting down is still not the best, which is obviously not great for someone who sits at a computer all day.

    Also did you end up getting a new purse?? I like that blue one :)

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    1. I've discovered that having a good medical team is helpful for the physical ailment but also for the mental stuff that comes along with it.

      I snorted at the fatty tumor - doesn't it seem like the universe is taunting you? Glad it was benign, and yes, that groin...mundane things like sitting (on a chair, on the toilet) are so painful! I drank less fluids so I didn't have to deal with sitting on the toilet as often in the beginning. I hope your recovery goes smoothly and you are finished with that pain soon!

      Yes I did get that blue purse! I tried so many others but kept going back to it. Turns out it was significantly less on the manufacturer's website than at the department store I was shopping in, so it paid off to go home and think about it (and do a little searching online). The purse arrived this morning and it's so beautiful and holds my stuff so I can take one thing out instead of everything out to find the one thing I wanted.

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    2. LOL yes, I've been making that joke (I even asked my trainer at bootcamp if my body fat % went down a ton because of it, since she measures that every few weeks) and the joke that the tumor was totally ruining my thigh gap. At this point I mostly have inflammation and that weird feeling that comes from having new scar tissue, but it's manageable.

      I'm glad you got the purse! The color goes really well with your new favorite sandals :)

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  9. I am glad the pins and needles are good and that your care providers are so great and not just throwing meds at you and not listening!!! Gah, that steroid flush sounds so damn horrible though. I had no idea that was a thing :( I'm sorry you're going through all of this :(

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    1. Honestly I didn't know steroid flush was anything more than the red face. Boy did I find out differently!

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  10. You forgot your eye surgery - you documented that too! I think you are one badass chick for how you’ve been dealing with all this. You have weathered this with good grace; everyone deserves a mood swin or meltdown when they’re dealing with this sort of serious issue! I can see that you ARE getting better. Just the fact that you want to adjust your meds is telling. Keep on keeping on BIF and soon this will be something we’ll be saying, remember when?

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    1. Oh yeah, I forgot about the eyelid surgery. That was soooooooo much more fun to go through.

      I can't wait for the remember when stage.

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  11. I'm glad you are progressing, even though it feels like an eternity. You are stronger than you know.

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  12. Other than those nasty miserable sounding side affects I am really happy about this post. Yeah, I would be happier if you said you were miraculously healed over night (if only!!). But there is such positives happening! I love that your medical team is so open with working with you and making this journey about not only what they feel best but what you feel best for yourself emotionally and physically! It sounds like you have some amazing medical professionals! And what a boon to have your doctor encouraged about your healing process!!!! You keep rockin’ this healing process!!!!

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