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Myelogram Hell

Well, decompression didn’t produce any real changes in my pain and nerve problems. It might have if I had discovered it a year or more ago. Finally after a couple of weekends of just about constant misery I decided to consult a neurosurgeon about my back. He said surgery was a definite, but the upside was he was certain he could help me. After talking and discussing all my symptoms and reviewing my MRI from Jan, he said he wanted to send me for one last test before giving me his surgery recommendations, a Myelogram. He was going to be on vacation for a week, but I could have the myelogram on Monday, and he would be back the following Monday and give me results.

According to him and his staff, the myelogram is not all that different from a steroid epidural. Since I’d had 3 of those in last 2 months, I thought no big deal. Oh my God was I wrong. The procedure itself isn’t bad. They inject a dye in your spinal canal and do x-rays and a CT. None of that was too bad. I was told by the doc’s office that I should take it easy rest of day after procedure, but would be fine to go back to work next day. Imaging center said I had to be on full bed rest for 24 hrs, only getting up for bathroom and could sit up to eat for 30 mins, 3 times that day. Huh. Discrepancy. Who to believe?

I did my bed rest that day and got up next day for work. Had a headache which proceeded into full blown migraine. I was already at work teaching a class and almost passed out. I actually laid down on a table in the training room while my students and co-workers brought me my phone and packed up my stuff. Called imaging center and they said I had to get home immediately and be on strict bed rest for 24 more hours. Only up for bathroom. Called my husband to come get me, left car at work and went to bed. That was Tues. Got up after that 24 hours and seemed OK. This was Wed afternoon. Next morning (Thur), migraine back again. Guess what imaging center said? Surprise, surprise, back to bed for 24 hrs.  They also said they would call in a pain med. It took me 4 calls between imaging office and doc office and 8 hours before anything was called in. I was told twice that it would be called in within 30 mins. Nice, huh?

That night (Thur) called the answering service b/c migraine got worse. Talked to radiologist on call. He was only one in 4 days that had given me much information at all. Seems the hole that is caused by the needle that injects dye sometimes does not close on it’s own, causing migraines. Bed rest is first line of treatment, to see if it will heal on it’s own. After almost 4 days of total bed rest, it did not seem likely. A blood patch is the next thing they try. This involves starting an IV in one arm, using that IV to draw your own blood and then injecting your own blood into your epidural space. Usually this gives instant relief from the migraines. But it is another procedure.

Next morning (it’s Friday now, original myelogram was on Monday), the radiologist from night before calls to see how I am doing. He is concerned because if I want to try the blood patch, we need to get it scheduled since it’s close to impossible to do these on the weekend, and it would have to be in the ER, etc. I decided I had to have the blood patch because the migraine was not any better and I had missed an entire week of work as well as life in general. My husband also missed whole week of work and cancelled a trip that was planned for over 6 months.

I went through another round of “who’s on first” between the imaging office, the doctor’s office and a second imaging office where they same radiologists work and who had done all my epidural injections. Everyone kept telling me to call the other office. It was a freaking circus! The only one who was trying his best to help was the radiologist that was on call Thursday night, and he wasn’t even working on Friday! I finally got in for the procedure.

The IV part was horrible for me. Any type of taking blood, etc is usually that way. They got IV going (they give you fluids as part of this whole thing) Once that was started and the throbbing of that stopped, someone came in to see if she could get blood out. She couldn’t. Figures. The first person who started IV came back with the radiologist and was able to get blood going, no problem. I asked if I could have her back for actual procedure. Guess who I got? First one who couldn’t get blood! She said the other person had told her exactly how to do it. Real confidence builder!

By this point I was a wreck. They did not have any anxiety meds, no pain meds, nothing except injectable lidocaine which they put in your back before the other injections. They had me turn over on this tiny steel table I had been lying on for an hour and a half while still hooked to the IV. Then took the blood, then injected it in my back. Felt like my hips were going to explode. I cried through the whole thing.

After all that and the rest of the IV was done, my lower back and hips hurt enough like never before, but migraine was gone. That was yesterday. Today lower back is some sore, migraine is gone, only slight headache now and then.

The neurosurgeon returns on Monday. I don’t even know the results of the freaking myelogram! I wonder if it will be worth the thousands of dollars in lost work, and medical bills? And how do you even begin to estimate the cost of the loss of days of mine and my husband’s lives?

My trust in what the neurosurgeon may tell me about surgery, recovery, etc is now sorely diminished. Not to mention my confidence in his office. Everyone told me to call someone else. No one seemed to know what they were doing!

I am in a real quandary knowing what to do. I also have a lot of anger that I don’t know how to release. Screaming or beating pillows is not really an option at the moment. I cannot risk a headache right now! Hoping this angry post might help a little!

If anyone ever says they want to do a myelogram on you, run like hell!!!

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2/21/09

The decompression therapies seem to leave me very tired. I feel as if I’ve been to the gym afterward, and all I want is a hot shower and a warm bed. I attempt to give myself that, but always takes more time than I think it will to get home and do the few things necessary. I  have only been able to put in a dedicated session on my strengthening exercises once this week. I’ve kept up with the small 2x/daily exercises and stretches. That is the best I’ve been able to do this week, and that’s OK.

Listening to Louise Hay on the way to work this week has been nice. I’m reminded to pay attention to my thinking and my words. I am running up against a lot of my beliefs (that I don’t even think of as beliefs most of the time).  I am letting the process start of sorting the beliefs I want to keep and those I no longer wish to hold. I have done this numerous times in my past, and then over time I slide back into old ways and patterns. I am letting that be OK. Once I’ve learned whatever it is I need to learn, the changes will stick.

There are people who tell me to “just get the surgery.” I find myself utterly repelled by that thought. If it comes to the point that I cannot tolerate the pain, numbness or it is causing permanent damage, then I would have surgery. As I said before, I am not anti-surgery. Now that I am not in as much torment physically I am learning things that will help me for the rest of my life. The exercises that I am doing and the ones I will add when possible will my my lifelong companions. Sometimes this is irritating and annoying because I feel bound or trapped or maybe even punished by the need for them. Hopefully I will come to view them as friends and not irritants. It would have been fantastic if I had found these things in my 20s. Perhaps I would not be in the physical state I am in now. But, alas, that did not happen. For this moment, I can move past that fairly OK.

I also decided to address the overbearing depression that has been brought on as a result of this chronic pain, and loss of some activities that bring me the most joy. I am adding an antidepressant medication to my recovery regime. I can tell that this chronic condition has taken a toll on me mentally as well as physically. If the need to make a decision about surgery arises, I want to make that decision with as clear a mental state as possible.

I have allowed myself a long lie in this morning, and now I think I will take a very hot shower to ease sore muscles. Until next post.

Today 2/18/09

Since memoirs are personal accounts of the author, I thought that an appropriate name for this category. I’ve not posted in MONTHS. I’ve been dealing with chronic back pain and all the “crap” that goes along with chronic pain. Decided to try writing some short memoir type posts.

Other than work, my life has become comsumed with pain and the cause of it. Short answer is scoliosis. According to orthopaedics, it is too mild to even talk about. I wholeheartedly agree it is nothing that needs any type of surgery. Where I disagree is that it is not the cause of my herniated and degenerated discs. You cannot have a curved and rotated spine and over time not think it will cause other problems that in turn cause pain, motion limitation, etc.

The bigger issue for my life is that the pain and now needles and numbing has made my love in life – dance – not possible. The pain is not so great that I can’t tolerate at this point. Last Aug I was out of my mind with it. Now my calf and foot feel like they are in icy water with needles or are mostly numb. There is also some loss of strength, maybe function. I am doing everything known to man to avoid surgery. It’s not that I don’t “believe” in surgery. It’s more that I believe in it being the last resort.

I’m on an exhaustive regime currently. I am going for decompression therapy 3x/week. I have strengthing exercises that I do 4-5 times a week. I have a few exercises and stretches that I do 2x/day, every day. This and work make up 90% of my waking time. I am mentally and physically worn out. Oh yea, I didn’t also mention the various heating packs, ice and  muscle rubs that I must regularly use. sigh…

I am trying to be very grateful for the health I do have. I lost a friend last week to cancer. In the light of that, my back problems seem so minor. So, I am also aggressively seeking to change my default mental state and way of thinking. I have always loved Louise Hay’s work. I’ve started listening to her on my iPod on the way to work as a way to start my day in a better state of mind.

I hope to be back sooner rather than later this time.

What’s in a Name?

I’ve always thought names are significant. I’ve noticed over and over again in my life how people with the same name have similar characteristics. At one point in my life I even thought I’d write a book on the topic, but not today. Today I need to talk specifically about my name and it’s meaning to me.

My name, Amanda, means “worthy to be loved” (or some similar variation thereof). I’ve always looked at this as significant because I struggle with feelings of worthiness/self worth. I’ve thought of my name as some sort of statement about one of my “core issues” in this life. Even though I like my name, this feeling about it’s meaning has sometimes given it a vaguely negative connotation.

Last night I had an epiphany regarding my name. The meaning behind my being named Amanda totally shifted. I was reading a book in which a woman said her name was given to her in a dream, and the meaning of her name was She Who Belongs to God. This woman was an adult at the time, and changed her name to be the one given in the dream. I was feeling a tad jealous as I read this that she was gifted with a name that held such significance and was such a confirmation of her connection to The Divine/her Higher Power.

And then it hit me. I was utterly stunned. My name is a gift to me. It is an affirmation to me that I am worthy of love, worthy just to be. It is not a reminder of some eternal struggle I am supposed to overcome in this lifetime. It is exactly the opposite. It is my Higher Power’s assurance to me that I am Of Her, always have been, always will be and that I am worthy. She gave me this gift before my birth in this life. Sadly I only realized it last night, but happily, I realized it last night!

I have recently been struggling more than usual with this worthiness issue. I’ve been asking myself how do I know I am worthy without turning outside for proof. I’ve come to see that I have been seeking that proof almost exclusively from external sources. Not being pleased with this realization, I began to really question how I know I am worthy if I do not seek these external reassurances. I did not have an answer for myself. I had only the question and a feeling of unknowing. Contrary to my status quo, I did not obsess or feel desperate to find the answer. I let it sit in the unknowing. I did not consciously meditate on the question or ask for guidance or a sign. I have to admit however, that this deviation from my status quo of frantically working on an issue like some deranged dog with an old shoe was primarily the result of being overworked and overtired!

I love that the book I picked up quite by accident last night rocketed me to from unknowing into knowing, just like that. And it is a Knowing. I have an odd (and for me unfamiliar) sense of peace and rightness in this knowing. This does not at all mean that like magic all my issues around feeling worthy will disappear. What it does mean is that I have something to keep circling back to, to be a reminder to myself of my connection to All That Is.

So, what’s in a name? It is the music that my body responds to even when I don’t consciously remember the steps of the dance. Amanda, it says, you’re worthy to be loved.

I would like to know the person I would be in one year if I did not have to worry about an income and could spend all my time pursuing a spiritual path and creative endeavors. If my current income could still flow in, but I didn’t have to go to a job, or worry about how I could generate income, what could I become in just one year? I want this opportunity. I have no idea how that can come about (other than winning a lottery), but I am sending the request out to the Universe.

It I was allowed, or it was my “job”, to follow my inner promptings each minute of each day, what would that feel like? If I was not expected to have an income producing business started or a fantastic plan in place on day 366, how would I live the preceding 365? To be quite honest, it would not be a cake walk for me, at least not initially. I can even now feel a compulsion to figure out how to make an income after my year was over. That would probably be my biggest challenge.

But, oh, how I would love to experience that woman becomming! How I would love to dance or paint or meditate or sew or play a musical instrument at 10am on a Tuesday! How I would love to read all the way through the many books I’m trying to simultaneously read at the moment. How I would love to have the experience of not having any reason to stress over income or job.

I feel an incredible excitement to discover who that woman would become, to experience that path, to see if I really were different in a year, or if not much at all had changed about me. I am talking about a simple replacement of my current income. I do not want to travel around the world or anything radical or extravagant. I am not talking about leaving my current life and living in an Ashram in India. My primary interest is to discover what Me I would be with the the pressure of making an income removed and the time a job takes gifted back.

I am letting it be known to the Universe, my Higher Power and all who read this that I am asking for this opportunity. I am ready to be delighted at the amazing ways the Universe brings things to us when we are clear in our intent, believe and are open to receive.

In This Moment

I was thinking about vacation recently and what makes them so utterly wonderful. I don’t mean fabulous scenery that you don’t have at home, etc. I mean, even the days that have no specifically wonderful activities. For me I think it really does have to do with being completely “in the moment.” The vacations that have been stellar for me as an adult are the ones where I have been fully present in whatever I am doing. I have not been thinking one minute what I am going to do the next minute or hour, or in the next day. I am not fretting about all the laundry I will have to do as soon as I return home. I have not been giving away my Time thinking about the project I’m managing at work. I have been Present, whether site-seeing, walking on the beach, dining or even sitting still “doing” nothing.

I am hardly ever like this at home. If you’ve read practically any other post on this blog, you know the difficulty I have with Time. I have the unpleasant suspicion that this fully-presentness is much, if not all, of my Time problem. I constantly think about the next thing, or all the other possible things and about how I won’t be able to get to them all. On the rare occasions when I manage to be fully present, or nearly so, I more often than not have what I call a time-extended day. A day in which it seems many more hours are available to me than logic says should be.

And so, it seems the solution is simple, huh? Pay full attention to what I’m doing at any given moment. Do any of you find this easy? Not I! But then, if it’s easy, then there’s not an opportunity for growth, is there? And don’t we all love those AFGOs?! Another Freaking Growth Opportunity! 🙂

Ah well… It’s interesting to me to see how many of my own answers so easily come out when I start writing. If I could only implement as quickly and easily as I can troublshoot, I’d be… I was going to say Evolved, but maybe I’d be dead. Because if all your personal growth is complete, isn’t your purpose fulfilled? One of my all-time favorite authors, Richard Bach, said, ”here’s a test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t”. So, I guess it’s time I went on learning, growing and living!

Jo Dee Messina has a song, “My give a Damn’s Busted.” I need a little of that. My Give a Damn works on overdrive pretty much all the time. Geez, I mean really, I need to give some of this up! I need a sliding scale at the very least. My gauge seems to be pegged to the right all the time, meaning my stress and worry levels are maxed out. Maybe that’s it: my Give a Damn Gauge’s Busted! I need a cosmic mechanic.

Since there doesn’t seem to be one of those mechanics around, I guess I have to fix it myself. (sigh) I’m successfully past the first step at least. I am aware there is a problem. I realize that I cannot feel this level of stress, worry and need to manage/control/fix everything that moves across my life path. Some things are just not mine; they are not in my yard. These are the things I need to let go. What is mine and in my yard is the very act of letting go.

This applies to some obvious things like other people’s life choices, but it also applies to some less obvious things. My job is one of the less obvious. Yes, I care about my job and the quality of my work, but that’s where my yard ends. I can make myself sick worrying about things that are not in my yard. Miraculously, when I finally do reach the point of “my give a damn’s busted” my neighbors mow their yard, fix their fence and resolve disputes! All the time I spent worrying and trying to figure something out was a waste of my Time (and we’re back here).

Why is it so hard for me to let go and stay in my yard? I have plenty of my own weeds to pull and flowers to plant. The more my give a damn’s busted, the more beautiful my own yard. As I really want a peaceful and beautiful yard, I’m off to bust my Give a Damn!