Epidural Heaven and Philosophical Thoughts

Hello everybody,

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.


14 Replies

  • Oh Judy, I am so pleased that this has worked for you:-}

    I am totally with you on the flattening effect of chronic pain - coping with a high level of pain takes all our energy and becomes about surviving life rather than living it. It becomes profoundly depressing and robs people of the ability to feel joy in their lives:-( I have found myself that I fall out of having any kind of social life when I have episodes of merely 'enduring' life as I simply don't have the energy to make plans.

    Also, you're so right about not giving up on pushing for what you need - it's really hard when you're in pain and exhausted to fight your corner and sometimes that is when you need to enlist some support from a partner or friend to attend appts with you.

    Cece x

  • You're absolutely right about getting support Cece.

    It's all very well me talking about pushing for help while I am riding high on cortisone but it is a very different story when I am feeling dragged down by pain.

    I'm hoping that the knowledge of the potential difference this can make to my life will alert me, family and friends in the future so that we can do something before it gets to the point at which I can no longer cope or make my voice heard.

    Thanks for your good wishes.


  • That's great news and such an uplifting post. I am having real problems with hip pains and flu! But reading this has given me a boost that it will get better eventually. so thank you xx

  • I'm so glad it had a positive affect Allanah. I'm sorry to hear that you are feeling poorly. Sometimes it can only take a little virus to make you feel as though the sky is falling in!

    I hope you get some relief from hip pain soon. You seem to be going through it a bit. Has your body been getting a lot worse mechanically during the last year? xx

  • Yes unfortunately , I have tried methotrexate, sulphasalasine, leflunomide, remicade infusions, Enbrel and Humira and have failed them all so the RA has been doing it's worse . Now waiting on Rheumy making a decision on my next care plan and he has written to me suggesting a different form of biological in drip form and hope to hear from them ASAP!

  • Thanks scouser. Still riding high on cortisone. Wonderful drug. Shame we can't use it all the time.

  • Judy,i am pleased that you are having a good time health wise.It was lovely to know someone is feeling good and long may it continue for you my friend.xxxx

  • Thanks Sylvi. How are you now? You were really in a lot of pain a couple of weeks ago weren't you? Has something been done to help with it?

  • Nothing has been done sad to say.I am having a good day today,yesterday was rough.I am never painfree though. good news at the moment i am three days off being on steroids.xxxx

  • Lovely to hear your news long may you stay pain free xxx

  • Hello Judy,

    I'm so pleased for you too, because it's such joy to suddenly have relief from constant pain.

    I recently had a steroid injection in my derriere because of a bad flare. Within just a couple of hours I felt the dreadful tiredness lifting and by the next morning I felt as though I could do a hop, skip and jump. :-)

    You are absolutely right about how life can become when we're having a bad time. It's all too easy to bury ourselves away with our pain and tiredness, gradually giving up making an effort to socialise and interact with people.

    Apart from my own difficulties, I am also a carer for my husband who is a dialysis patient with lots of other associated problems from being diabetic for many years. His hours spent at the dialysis clinic are my rest times, otherwise I would never cope.

    I am a bit of an artist, but I haven't done much over the past year or so, (due to not being in the right frame of mind, or so I've been telling myself !) But, since the steroid injection I have actually picked up my brushes again and I am so enjoying doing something I love, it has given me a new lease of life. Now I must manage my time better, so that I can continue.

    I agree that it's easy to become emotionally damaged by constant pain and the dreaded weariness which comes with RA, it is a life changing disease. It's also amazing how a bit of light relief can give us a clear window to see how to make things a bit better for ourselves and give that little bit of determination to "push through". It's also very important to make our voices heard by doctors, nurses and all medical people who are involved with us, because it is our individual body and no one knows it better than ourselves.

    I thank my lucky stars for this site and all lovely bloggers who know and understand when others more closer, often can't. June xx

  • Hooray for steroids is all I can say! They make you feel as though you can conquer the world. Long may it last!

    I'm trying to steadily built up a gentle exercise routine while I can. Hopefully by the time this injection wears off my muscles and ligaments will be in a better condition to support my spine so that I don't suffer too much of a post-steroid slump.


  • Hello Judy,

    I am so pleased that you are experiencing some well deserved pain relief. As you so eloquently say "no one know our bodies better than ourselves". I totally agree, we should be seen and heard by our health professionals. Hope you continue to enjoy the benefit of the epidural injection.

    Best wishes and a big hug coming your way.

    PS My daughter had an epidural last Friday, initially had excellent relief till the anaesthetic wore off. Now left with a dull ache as opposed to sharp radiating pain. Hope the steroids start to kick in and give her some respite. She is 24 and has been in extreme pain since May this year.

  • Hi Carole

    Crickey! Your post says it was written 6 hours ago which my wonderful new brain has calculated at 4.30 a.m. What on earth were you doing awake at that time? Are you struggling at the moment?

    I can echo your daughter's experience. The initial days of anaesthetic relief are wonderful but I still get a much more muted pain which I can deal with more easily. Unfortunately, it does still kick in when I try to walk but I think that is something different from the sciatic pain.

    I'm so sorry for your daughter. 24 is still so young. Is there something they can do for her long-term?


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