Last Monday I spent the whole day hanging around the day surgery ward waiting for an epidural injection in the lumbar region of my spine as recommended by my spinal consultant.,
I had already been told, rather dismissively by the pain clinic consultant, that it would probably have little effect. His feeling was that my main problem was related to muscle and ligament tissue damage and that I needed a course of physiotherapy. If, after a year, I was still experiencing pain then he would inject between the facet joints. A Year!!!?? Good grief, this sciatic pain has been unbearable and to be sentenced to another year of it was beyond belief - particularly as he hadn't consulted any records of x-rays, MRI or previous operations. I am very disturbed by his jovial underplaying of what I was going through.
Anyway, moving on, I'm thrilled to report that I have been in epidural heaven for the past week. I am not totally pain free, the sciatica still grumbles occasionally and muscular pain and joint stiffness are clearly also an issue but I am sooooooo much better than I have been in ages.
I know that this may sound a little self-indulgent but being able to control the pain for the past week has helped me to recognise myself again. I think that when we are in constant pain we lose track of who we are. Life becomes about coping and not living. Interests are difficult to follow and the brain becomes leaden from the lack of concentration pain and drugs brings.
My daughter expressed concern that I was becoming 'like grandma' last week. She has a theory that psychologically I was becoming the body I own. I wonder whether there is any truth in this theory? I have to say that my mind feels sharper since I have been able to move about the house more easily. I have been able to do a few household tasks and (during the first days of euphoria and anaesthetic) was even beginning to believe that I may be able to get back to work.
I can't see myself ever returning to teaching but was chatting to the check-out lady at the local supermarket about her back the other day and found myself thinking - actually, I reckon I could do that and it would be nice to chat to the customers. I suddenly found a future, drive and independence outside just managing my condition.
The degree of emotional damage caused by constant pain has become apparent in my case only by being pain free for a few days. It has the potential to crush personalities and drive to. To my mind it should never be underestimated or dismissed in the way that the pain clinic consultant did.
The message? Keep pushing. If you are in constant pain, keep pushing for help. Don't be fobbed off. Even a week of pain free time is like a holiday and worth fighting for.