Yesterday, was my day to receive more spinal injections. After finally having MRI results to guide my surgeon, he and his team worked on finding the areas in my spine that they could inject steroids to numb my pain and reduce inflammation. Unfortunately, the injections only last a few weeks at best. They do provide some relief but up until now, they have not been able to pinpoint what is causing the severe nerve pain in my legs.
This isn’t my first time. I have been going to the pain clinic for injections for well over a year. Everyone there is very kind and always positive. They treat all kinds of pain with various procedures. Some people have spinal injections like me, others receive intravenous drugs…there’s a myriad of treatments for hundreds of patients that are suffering.
Yesterday, as I sat waiting in my cubicle to be called into the operating room there was a man to my left that couldn’t even stand up straight he was so crippled with pain…and to my right there was a woman who’s been HIV positive for 15 years and is dealing with pain brought on by that horrendous disease. She looked to be at least 75/80 years old…but she was only 55! I have nothing to complain about given what others are dealing with.
” Ok, pillow lady, it’s your turn,” the nurse called to me. Pillow lady is my nick name as since my mastectomy the nurses and doctors in the OR have to help me arrange pillows to lie on so as not to aggravate the pain in my chest. Lying on my front is extremely difficult. The pressure on my implants really hurts and the shift pushes on my hematoma which causes my underarm to throb. It’s a bit of a circus trying to prep me for the 45 minute procedure and I get a little panicky every time I have to take that walk to the OR. Let’s face it, the last year and half has not been easy and its not only taken its toll on me physically but has really screwed me up emotionally. I can feel my heart start to race as I walk into the brightly lit room and climb up onto the table. Even though I know what to expect with injections, the feeling of entering an operating room triggers panic in me every time.
This time was even harder for me, as I knew the surgeon would be trying to locate some new areas in my spine to find what was causing my nerve pain. There was a lot of extra poking, injecting and me swearing as the epidural needles were inserted. One of the needles accidentally hit bone and I thought I would leap off the table. The needles are guided by the surgeon who is looking at “live” x-rays of my spine. Its amazing what they can do and how they do it…BUT its fu#king painful and scary as you lie there waiting to feel sharp pains shooting down your butt and legs. The thing is, IF I didn’t have these injections, my back literally seizes up and I can’t walk without severe spasms and loss of control. It’s debilitating and very frustrating. So I am grateful that I can get some relief with the injections. Fingers crossed that this round will help my nerve pain. Since my mastectomy last June, other than the first few days that I was in a morphine induced stupor, I have not had more than a few hours of constant uninterrupted sleep. The pain in my legs combined with the pain in my chest keeps me up for most of the night. It’s a terrible feeling when you go to bed so tired you can barely stand only to lie there desperately trying to fall asleep. I’ve tried everything but the pain doesn’t subside and I can’t live my life popping pills for every ailment I’m dealing with. I don’t want to live my life that way. I don’t want to feel stoned and out of control. I just want to feel normal again..whatever that is. I know that my normal is a new normal and can’t be compared to what I gauged it to be before cancer struck. I know that with yet another surgery next week I have months of healing before I will know if I’ve even reached some semblance of normal again.
I am scrambling to get everything I need to do DONE before I’m sliced open again next week. Actually, its a week today! Yup, this time next week I will be on the operating table. Shit, the time is going too fast and I am not moving at the speed I need to. I’m drained. I’m fighting to keep my anxiety in check but every time of think of what’s to come next week I start to tremble and want to barf. That’s not a good thing…and its certainly not helping me get through my list of things to do.
Deep breath Patti. This isn’t your first rodeo. You will get through this. You will move along on your journey and some day soon you will once again be and feel normal. That’s my mantra. That’s what I’m clinging to. That’s what has to happen. That’s the gain for my pain.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.