Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Too Young To Be So Old

I've spent the last year trudging through injection after injection, new xrays and MRIs, appointments with surgeons, primary doctors, chiropractors, and pain management only to wind up exactly where I started.  Last October, I had another MRI done of my spine, as my pain had been increasing again to the point where it was interfering with my daily life.  I recently completed a set of injections called RFA, or radio frequency ablations.  This was a last ditch effort, really to find a solution to pain, short of surgery of some kind.  When I saw my surgeon back in March, he told me that the only real option was to operate and do a discectomy and fusion at C2-3 and C3-4 in my neck, while pain management told me that my last option was to have a pain pump or neuro-stimulator surgically implanted in my spine. 

The biggest problem was the discs weren't actually herniated yet, *only* bulging, and while my surgeon said he could do the surgery if I wanted, there was no guarantee that #1. It would reduce my pain or #2. My insurance would approve it.  So, he suggested I try the medial blocks, or RFAs.  They use radio frequency to heat needles that are placed at specific disc levels in the spine.  The heated needles burn the ends of the nerves, and *hopefully* it can give 6-12 months of significant relief from pain.

Previously, I had a series of epidural blocks, none of which were effective more than a few days.  I just finished the last round of the RFAs on 9/25.  I had a follow up yesterday with pain management and while I did have several days where my pain was only at a 5 on the universal pain scale, last week it reverted back to a pain level or 7 or higher, even with pain medication. 

The results were in:  the ablations didn't work.  My doctor said that the only other thing he can do for me is to put a pain pump in.  It would sit in my abodemn, just below the skin, and a catheter would be threaded through the spinal column and release specific doses of morphine or some other similar medication.  The pain pump allows someone to have just a fraction of the medicine with the same results as if it were to be put in an IV, because it is delivered right to the points of pain.  He recommended the pain pump for me and he seems hopeful that it will give me at least a 50% reduction in pain, and a chance at a somewhat normal life for another 5, 10, or 15 years.

I'm not in a position to quit my job, but even if I were, what then?  I still have the pain to contend with every day.  But the only other alternative is to live every day feeling like this, like I am just a shell of the person I used to be.  I feel like I can't do anything meaningful. 

As recent posts will attest to, all of this has taken a toll on my mental health.  I am on a new medication now that is supposed to be helping with the anxiety and worsening depression and this week, I have finally felt a little more stable.  But there is still just this lingering feeling that I've got nothing left I can give to anyone or anything.  This body I am in has severe limitations, more than I believe I should have, just shy of age 40.  Can I endure another 40 years of this?  We all do what we have to do, so of course I *can* do it.  But it is very daunting and it is getting harder with each passing day to see anything but the pain.

I just need to keep hoping and relying on God to keep my head above the water for a little while longer...

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