A War, A Battle, and a Needle

June 25, 2013



There was a different post up this morning about this, but it was full of self-edits. Here’s the real story.

Thursday, on my request, someone is going to stick a needle into my spine.  They are going to inject some medication that will hopefully fix the ever-present pain in my back – or at least give it a chance to relax and figure out how to fix itself.

This has gone on long enough, I know that. It’s been months of physical therapy, some anti-inflammatories and the occasional pain pill. It’s not getting any better. I’ve worn this option out.

Not only is it not getting any better, I’ve been told I’ve lost some sensation in a part of my leg and foot, and if this has gone on for more than six months (has it?) that could be permanent.  Because of the massive amounts of physical therapy, I have no motor loss side effects (which is excellent), but if the over-arching issue is not addressed, it could get worse – and that is a scary path I don’t want to set foot on.

It’s been months of not being fully functional.  Of not playing with my kids. Of not being able to do things around the house. Of times where I can’t sit down, or drive. Of not being able to do my job or just, you know, go to the grocery store. I’m never “present.”  It’s one thing to be tired, it’s another to be worn out from pain.

And so, it’s time to escalate. The old fixes aren’t working.

In theory, I get it. In reality, I’m frozen.

I love medicine. I love the science and the art behind it. I am, though, the worst possible patient because I know too much and not enough all at the same time.  I listen for zebras instead of horses, though I know I shouldn’t.  The “what-ifs” stack up in my head and each of them weigh a lifetime.  It is crushing to the point of paralysis. I never understood the idea of “numbed by fear” when I was younger and came across that phrase in books, but I get it now.

I get it with great, great clarity.

See, in medicine, I am an outlier. If there is a side-effect that .02% of the population will experience, I am their leader.  There’s a lot of responsibility and disquiet that comes along with that distinction. I stand with one foot in the “if things go wrong” column. (In good shoes, but, still, that column.)

And Thursday someone is going to stick a needle into my spine, but first they will administer anesthesia.

“Thousands of people do this every day,” I hear endlessly. I know they do, but they don’t do it in MY spine. They don’t kiss MY kid before he leaves for camp while pretending everything will be just fine. They don’t have MY lungs that juggle asthma issues. They don’t have MY heart, whose physical strength I sometimes question, even if pieces of it are scattered in different places, miles away, holding steady.

What it really comes down to is I don’t trust my body.  This back issue is the result and effects of degeneration – so I never know when it’s going to rage. I used to hate to exercise, but now it’s become a way for me to play a sort of psychological game with these bones and muscles and nerves.  When I’m “healthy,” I push myself. I want out of the physical therapy realm so I can get “out on the floor” and do the more physical things – the more interesting things – the things that make me hurt and sweat and breathe.

It’s a game. I see how long I hurt for – and how quickly it goes away.  Because when it does, you see, I won. It was only temporary. There are a lot of excellent reasons to exercise, but winning the battle over the parts of my body that are broken is better – even if it’s just a psychological war.

But, right now in the whole War / Battle hierarchy I’m losing and so Thursday someone will stick a needle in my spine. I will try to pretend it’s no different than getting a vaccine into an arm muscle, but it is. It’s hard to pretend while lying on a table in a surgical center.

But, hey, maybe I’ll get a glitter band-aid and lollipop. I hope they have grape.

Really, I just hope it works.

But if not, I just hope everything is okay.

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10 Responses to “A War, A Battle, and a Needle”

  1. Knighton Says:

    I will be sending up all the prayers. And sending you extra doses of courage. xo

  2. Sherry Carr-Smith Says:

    I am so sorry nothing has been working and you’ve been in so much pain. I’ll be sending so many positive “no outlier” thoughts your way on Thursday. I’ve never sent those specific kind of thoughts before, so they are all fresh and strong.

  3. Buffy Says:

    I’m sure a gazillion people have told you they know someone who has had that same procedure. Add me to the list. Prayers up for success on Thursday. And wear your good shoes in the everything went great column and enjoy the grape lollipop.

    • pamlewis Says:

      I can almost taste it now! Hmm, maybe I need celebratory NEW good shoes… (Thank you.)

  4. Dad Says:

    And maybe that needle which I’ve had many times will spin its magic for you and wash away the pain. Trust will always trump fear.

  5. elz Says:

    I’ll be thinking good thoughts that this time you are not in the .02% and this is the fix you need!