Since I have been periodically telling my tales of woe as a patient with chronic pain, I thought it was time for a little personal update. So here goes.
I have been undergoing physical therapy as previously described, and also have continued to use my TENS unit at home, something that offers temporary---but welcome---pain relief. Two weeks ago, I saw my physiatrist for a follow-up visit and we decided to go ahead with some trigger-point injections. This consists of injections of lidocaine and corticosteroids directly into superficial muscles which are tender or painful. The hope is that this treatment will untie some of the knots in the muscle tissue and allow for some relief.
Unlike the spinal injection into the actual joint which I previously illustrated for your sadistic reading pleasure (and my masochistic self-indulgence), the trigger-point injections were basically like intense bee-stings which subsided within seconds and provided a modicum of symptom relief, but far short of expectations. Plus, the sites of the injections were bruised and are still tender some seven days later. According to the doctor, these treatments are most effective when followed within minutes by P.T. and deep tissue manipulation, so I will be whisked into the treatment area and worked on by a P.T. following each session.
Tomorrow, I will prepare myself for yet another morning as a human pin-cushion, and hope perhaps that this time I will experience more relaxation of those paraspinal muscles that feel alternately like steel cables and/or golf balls under my skin.
An additional set of neurological symptoms have also arisen as of late. Luckily, they're more interesting than uncomfortable. The first sensation occurs especially as I get up from sitting in my car or at my desk. A sensation like fine grains of sand running down the back of my leg near the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles continues down into my shoe. When it first occured, I looked to see if perhaps sand had actually fallen into my shoe, but alas, I had not been to the beach.
The second neurological symptom also involves sitting in a chair or in my car. As I sit there quietly, a sensation like warm water running down the outer aspect of my lower left leg will be very marked. I must admit that when this first happened, I honestly looked down at my leg to see if I was for some unknown reason peeing on myself, the warm urine running down my leg.
Alas again, no urinary incontinence was noted (despite a prematurely enlarged prostate) and I ended up telling my physiatrist about it. When I related these two symptoms, he frowned, and stated that this is a sign that the small herniation of the left side of my L4-L5 disc is beginning to affect my nerve function, causing dysfunctional neurological signals to be sent (hence the urine and sand phenomena). He voiced his hope that these symptoms will never alter into signals of neuropathic pain, something which is entirely within the realm of possibility and very difficult to treat without medications that I wish to forever eschew.
So, there you have it, folks, straight from the "nurse as patient". May you all be free of such problems, and may this missive find you healthy, happy, and free of suffering.
Thanks for stopping by the infirmary.