Today’s Friday, but I need to go back and tell you about Monday… at least I think it’s Monday. I mean Friday! I remember when Danny had been in the NICU for more than a month and I was scrubbing and gowning next to another mom and we had this major in-depth conversation about what day of the week it was. All we both knew for sure was that it definitely was not Sunday 🙂
Anyway, last week my friend Maureen set me up to have an appointment with a pain specialist. My left arm has nerve damage from surgery, and I have now been hurting for six months. I have been on so much medicine and tried to be patient but still, I’ve been hurting. So last week Maureen called the best pain guy she knew… you know, the kind of specialist it takes three months of waiting to get an appointment with.
Well, right after she called him, he called me. No kidding. He asked me lots of good questions about what was going on, suggested that perhaps a brachial plexus nerve block might really help, and then told me he was only going to be in the pain clinic three days out of the next three weeks (He also does anethesia in the hospital) “Which day do you want to come?” he asked. I was shocked. I chose my day, then he asked me what time I wanted to be there. Still shocked. So I chose 8 AM Monday morning. No eating or drinking after midnight before, can’t drive myself. No problem, relief was in sight.
So I went to the appointment and after lots of discussion and an exam, he decided that a thoracic steroid epidural would be more likely to give me relief from the arm problem and also help with the chest wall pain from radiation. He told me it might help a lot, might help a little, might not help at all, but he thought it was the best thing to try first. I appreciated his candor, but mostly I appreciated that we were going to start on the path to fixing this problem.
It was an interesting, though painful, procedure. Sure, I know as much anatomy as any other retired physician, but it still amazed me when he started injecting dye and anesthetic into the back of my neck and all of a sudden I could feel intense hot pressure exactly where the pain problem is in my arm. Guess he got the right nerve!
The other thing he did, though, was to take over management of my pain medicine. He put me on a protocol of gradually increasing regularly scheduled meds with a different kind of pill for breakthrough pain.
Is it working? Yes, there is progress, and that was our goal. The epidural steroids didn’t totally make the pain from the nerve damage go away, but he didn’t promise that it would. But between the procedure, and the new medicine, there have been HOURS that I didn’t even think about my arm. That totally surprised me the first time it happened. I guess I had gotten used to having my painful arm just hanging out in my consciousness all the time. There have also been hours that the pain has been just as bad as before, but I’m getting better at taking the new medicine just right, so that shouldn’t happen as often.
I go back to see him in 10 days. It’s such a relief to know that we’ve gotten started on the path to fixing this. I was getting really, really tired of hurting all the time.