It took all of fifteen minutes. I didn't even need to change into a hospital "johnny". The nurse led me into the procedure room. I had to empty my pockets and unbutton my pants and untuck my shirt, laying myself in prone position with a pillow under my pelvis. After moving the metal buttons of my shirt away, an x-ray was taken and the doctor strode in. Young, handsome, confident, in black rayon slacks with a knife's edge crease down the front. (He sure doesn't do his own ironing, thought I.) He and the nurse both wore long blue lead aprons with what looked like a cumberbun around the waist. Come to think of it, they were cumberbuns, more or less. Well I'll be. If they had worn bow-ties I would have ordered a gin and tonic. Make that two.
We spent a few minutes discussing the procedure and my bothersome questions. Mary had come in with me and also chimed in, playing the part of the worried and anxious wife. She does it so well. "He's so active, but has so much pain. We really hope this provides some relief." The doctor reassured me that I do not have a Tarlov Cyst filled with cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). Rather, I most likely have a synovial cyst which is much easier to treat and can sometimes spontaneously resolve. He also reassured me that paralysis from the procedure was next to impossible. Phew.
After cleansing the area (I presume with Betadine), he inserted the needle under guided fluoroscopy, injecting first lidocaine for local numbing followed by the steroids. The only sensation was that of pressure on the injection site (sort of like an elephant stepping on my lumbo-sacral spine) and then a heaviness in my right leg which has lasted for several hours. Unfortunately, any positive effects may take as long as two weeks to be noticeable, or I may (doubly unfortunately) have no positive effects at all. For now, at Mary's suggestion,
I will visualize those steroids bathing the affected area, hindering pain sensations while decreasing inflammation in the surrounding tissue. Ahhh. Like a gin and tonic for the spinal cord. Hey doc, any limes on hand?
On the way home, we stopped for ice cream at our favorite summer place located along our usual way home. Some friends who were recently married divulged at their wedding that they have a "Donut Rule": anyone who has to go to the hospital, ER, or other urgent medical appointment always gets a donut. For us, it's now officially "The Ice Cream Rule". Today was Maple Nut soft-serve in a cone. I'd take another spinal injection tomorrow for a repeat of that treat, but alas, no such luck.
Now, home on a Friday night, my right leg somewhat heavy, I loped around the block with the dogs while Mary went to the gym. Luckily, Sparkey is really tired and we stopped for two ten-minute breaks, sitting at the side of the road, me reading the paper and they the wind. At each rest-stop, we were accosted by well-wishers with treats: first the mail-carrier, then a neighbor. Joy.
Presently, I am ensconced in the hammock, that gin and tonic finally at my side, coursing through my veins in a mirrored action to the steroids in my spine. Pure poetry, that.
Now for some r & r.