Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What a pain!

On the left is the very painful right foot, the offending member. 
On the right is the two-inch incision on my back that made it all better. 

Here is what happened. I took a pretty nasty tumble going down a steep dirt road. It was foolish of me and I knew it at the time, but that is a story for another day. Remembering that it was my own stupidity that got me into this fix is fairly painful. However, I got up, brushed myself off and was more concerned about the tiny cuts on my hands than I was about any other potential injuries. I can't say my back hurt at all.

Then about a week later, my ankle started up with some pain and it felt good when Stanley rubbed it. A few days later, the pain was worse and messing with it brought no relief. In fact, it hurt to be touched.

Over the next week, the pain intensified and my entire right leg and hip became involved.

Then, after a day of sitting on the bus from Parras to McAllen, I spent the next morning shopping with a friend and that's when I knew I was in trouble. My right leg hurt so badly I thought I would scream if the lady in front of me at the check-out counter delayed her exit one more minute.

The next day, I found a chiropractor. He worked on me and I felt great when I stood up. I made an appointment for the following day and walked out to the car. By the time I got there, my leg hurt just as bad as it had before the adjustment.

Not to be discouraged, I went back to him the next morning with pretty much the same results and then we left for San Antonio.

On Thursday before Easter, I went to see my San Antonio family doctor and he confirmed the sciatica diagnosis. He took an X-ray and found no bone related issues so he prescribed steroids, pain killers and a regimine of physical therapy which would start the Monday after Easter.

By the time Monday rolled around, the whole thing had escalated again! My right foot was dead. I could only shuffle it along. I was in so much pain, I cannot describe it. The pain pills did nothing! I went to physical therapy, but I was in so much pain, the therapist really did nothing but "evaluate" my situation.

On Tuesday, it was worse and when I arrived for my PT on Wednesday, I was in tears. He went ahead and did the traction, followed by ice, but the exercise? He had to be kidding! NO way was I going to be able to stand on my right leg and pull my left to the side. Ditto for standing on my left leg and pulling the right to the side. No frigging way. The session was a bit short.

We went directly to the doctor's office. That afternoon, I was in an MRI machine and that was just about the torture to end all tortures. It achieved what nothing else had. It made my back hurt. When they finally pulled me out of that device, I was about as irrational as a person could be. All I could see, hear, smell, taste, or touch was PAIN!

My doctor performed extraordinary measures and late that afternoon, I was being evaluated by a neurosurgeon. Dr. Vardiman evaluated my rather blurry MRI and was able to discern that I had a ruptured disc, a fragment of which was actually lodged along the sciatic nerve. I was scheduled for surgery on Friday morning - provided that my insurance company could pre-approve the procedure on Thursday.

The procedure:  LUMBAR MITR - Microdiscectomy Minimally Invasive Tubular Retraction

Well, they had just the tiniest bit of foot dragging and of course the procedure was not approved until Friday morning. That meant three more days of agony. Based on this experience, I do believe there is a special place in hell for foot-dragging insurance clerks. The only thing that saved those people from a 72 hour spree of cursing was the Lyrica I had gotten from Dr. Vardiman's nurse. I don't know if you are familiar with this drug, but it is specifically for nerve pain. Thank the stars above and the guy who invented it! Lyrica saved me!

Monday morning finally arrived. I was in surgery by 12:00 noon, out by 1:30, and here at my mom's house by 4:30. Actually, I felt pretty rotten when we got here. My comment was, "There has been no miracle." I ate some roasted vegetables, watched some of the media hype about bin Laden, and went to bed early with a pain pill.

I got up several times in the night. The incision was fairly tender and there was a persistent pain in my right butt cheek.

On Tuesday morning, I could safely say, "I've had a miracle." I was not pain-free, but where the pain was 12 on a scale of 1-10 before, it was now at a very comfortable 2-3. I could walk without dragging my foot, although there was still a stiff little limp. My foot was  waking up. It felt just a bit more tingly than dead.

As the day progressed, I felt better and better.  We even went to the movies, Water for Elephants, on Tuesday afternoon.  That was my first outing for anything other than a doctor visit in over a week. 

Now, on Wednesday morning, I can report very little change since last evening.  My foot is still pretty much numb although I can still feel the same slight tingling I felt yesterday. My leg still has the dull achy feel and the incision is still tender.  However, it is all quite manageable. 

Tomorrow I will see visit the surgeon's office and we will do some evaluation of the decision to proceed with the trip or postpone it further.  If we are going to proceed with the latest plan, we will leave here Friday morning.  Right this minute, it seems quite possible, but I realize I may not feel this way tomorrow.  Things change!

I want to thank all of you for your suggestions for pain relief.  I regret to inform that many were tried and none were successful.  However, just reading them was a distraction.  The encouragement and caring behind the suggestions were best of all.

Today, my birthday wish for the world is a happy sciatica-pain-free day!