I’m writing this out so that I won’t completely forget what the past couple of weeks have been like when (notice the optimism of when cf. if) the pain finally goes.
Yes, pain. Agonizing, excrutiating, overwhelming, unignorable, incapacitating pain.
Apparently I have a slipped/herniated disc leading to sciatica. Did you know that there is a posterior sciatic nerve (which is the agonizing pain straight down the back of the leg) AND an anterior sciatic nerve (which causes pain down the outside of the leg)? I didn’t. But now I do, and oh OW how I know it.
The onset was slow, inexplicable, no sudden movement or funny accident that caused a sudden burning agony. Instead it was slow. At first I thought it was just a muscle ache. One that lingered for two weeks growing increasingly worse.
I finally dealt with it by going to the chiropractor who put my hip back in (apparently it was strangely twisted) but alas the pain didn’t disperse.
It got worse.
I saw the chiropractor again, then the physiotherapist, twice, then a doctor at work. That visit was simply because the pain was too much by then. Or so I thought.
There was such a remarkable scale of pain yet to be encountered.
So I got painkillers, tramadol. At this stage sitting was pretty problematic and walking hurt, and I couldn’t stand still, but little did I know what was yet to come. The tramadol helped. Mildly. Fyi, tramadol is a synthetic opiate. Over the counter was doing shit all so it was time for the big guns.
But the big gun wasn’t really cutting it so once my doctor’s office opened again I went in to see her (This was about Dec 21?). Thus the diagnosis of a slipped disc. And you know what you can do about it?
Take drugs, stay mostly immobile, wait for the swelling to go down.
So I got a triple prescription of more tramadol for the pain, cyclobenzaprine for a muscle relaxant and naproxen for the anti-inflammatory. Did I mention that my doctor is in Vancouver but I live 45 minutes away in New West? My head went woozy at least twice on that drive home from the pain of sitting.
I made it to the Pharmasave and got my prescriptions filled in under 8 minutes. Yes, I looked that bad.
Made it home, got the medications, water and myself to the couch and I’ve basically existed between the couch and bed ever since. Luckily for me, pretty nearly every day felt the same or worse (mostly worse). The outside of my left foot went numb (I long for the day I can feel my baby toe again) and a couple of days ago the numbness migrated up the outside of my leg to my knee.
Do you know what you do for this? You wait. Because in most cases it goes away on its own.
Within a couple of days of when I admitted defeat and collapsed at home, the pain for standing and walking had grown to the point where I could only stand or walk for a minute or two before I *had* to get back to a prone position or collapse weeping. I don’t remember the last time that I cried from pain (the tattoo doesn’t count imo) or nearly passed out from it.
Huge massive thank you’s to my friends and family for helping me out through this. For things like groceries, the new pain prescription (I’m now on ‘real’ narcotics – oxycodone/supeodol) and kitty litter cleaning, etc.
Naturally with any action causing shooting agony followed by waves of scorching pain once I was horizontal again, I was very limited in what I could do, forcing me to consider what where the most necessary things in life.
Hair brushing didn’t make that list. Teeth brushing only occasionally. And everything had to be orchestrated for maximum time standing effectiveness.
My days have gone something like this, where this is the worked out most efficient morning when the pain has been at its worst:
- wake up and cringe because the first hour of the day sucks
- reach down and grab yesterday’s pajamas and put them on carefully while still lying in bed (if they were getting too smelly they would get changed out during the day if I had a shower or bath)
- grab the water bottle, pain medication and cell from beside the bed and head straight to the kitchen
- feed the cats as quickly as was humanly possible (they’re now on wet food but that’s a whole different story) and pick up yesterday’s food plates (picking them up the previous day would be an extraneous action, you see), and grab a banana
- limp frantically to couch, drop phone, pills and cell beside couch as I collapse carefully onto it
- spend 5-15 minutes (depending on the day) with waves of pain rolling up and down my body that I keep breathing through and consciously relax into so that they’ll pass faster.
- eat banana and take all three medications (anti-inflammatory requires food with pill)
- get up and go to the bathroom. On a good day I would brush my teeth first, most days my teeth got brushed several hours into the day. First because sitting down (and that’s what our toilets require) causes too much pain so after the bathroom it’s always straight back to proneness on the couch.
- spend 10-25 minutes recovering
- spend day alternating between couch on back and for short periods of time on stomach.
- getting a meal was usually get up, throw bagel into toaster oven, crash back onto couch and breath through pain, get up when ding said done, put cream cheese on bagel, crash back down on couch and eat
- there were occasional bathroom breaks, always leading to owie time on the couch
- if no one came over who I could convince to clean kitty litter, then I would do that at some point during the day
- I have read many books. Hardcovers are easier on the wrists if you rest them on your chest when you read them.
- I have watched a ridiculous amount of tv. Turns out that dvd’s require you to bend or kneel down to pick the next one and then y0u have to be in that same torturous position to change out the dvd. Not worth it.
- I have had several visits, yay peeps!
- I have cuddled cats. A lot. I’ve also kicked them off me a lot when the pain was too much
- This is the first day I’ve been capable of spending any time on the computer typing, so not a lot of net surfing has been happening. Okay, essentially none.
- I have waited for a positive change in my condition (ssshhhh, don’t tell anyone but I think today is better than yesterday!)
- I missed half of present opening on xmas day due to overwhelming pain. There was an incident involving a 140 pound dog stepping on my breast (on the piercing no less!) causing back spasm on top of the pain of the 10 minute drive to get to mom’s house, not to mention the agony of walking from apartment to car.
- Each day has been measured in time chunks related to when I would next take a pill (one was 2 x/day, 1 was 3x/day, another was 4…you get the idea)
- And in the middle of it I got my period. Wimpiest period I’ve had in probably two decades, for which I am eternally grateful.
Thankfully the drugs kept me from caring too much. Sleeping’s been torture though. Turns out that I have three sleeping positions: they are all flat on my back and simply variations of how my legs are arranged. I never sleep on my back, as in it’s practically impossible for me to fall asleep except on my stomach or maybe my side. So I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in almost two weeks. That doesn’t help I must say.
I have learned that looking after my cats’ needs is one of my basic requirements of living (it’s a responsibility thing), then that which may help me get better. Food and water. Everything after that, and I mean everything, was negotiable. Because doing anything results in lying flat on my back breathing through waves of pain. And that’s for things that took two minutes or less. Washing hair is at least 8 minutes of standing = lamaz breathing agony.
Okay, done now, pain calling.
Oh, with one addition, this isn’t shared as a pity request. I really do want a record from when I’m in the midst of this for later when I forget, and in case anyone wonders why they haven’t heard from me, well, this is why.
Ciao bellas/bellos. 🙂
One thought on “Day 12? of Hell”
Oh Saturn, I feel for you, I know what you are going through. I had arthritic sciatica of the posterior nerve from the age of 14 to 22, only a third the days was it as bad as you describe. I suppose it’s good that most people have no idea what pain over such a duration is like and so can’t relate, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Be seriously thankful you haven’t built up a resistance to pain killers. May your recovery (natural or surgical) be soon and thorough.