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“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape”. –Charles Dickens

happy relaxed person
courtesy pinjarrahealthfoods.com

I am feeling more than a little worse for wear tonight, and that would have to be one of the most outrageous understatements I have made for some time. I have a high tolerance for pain, or a high pain threshhold. It’s really a matter of which way you wish to look at the situation.  Either way, the end result is the same, I have been pushed to the outer limits of my threshhold today and I am holding on by a thread.  There have been no tantrums but tears and many prayers. I have wondered if I lost any degree of sanity I may have laid claim to when I signed on for this. This being torture by any other name. 

 I described my “procedure”  earlier, this is the second part, the lumbar or lower back “procedure”.  Don’t  get me wrong, I have an amazing doctor and a wonderful assistant. They are kind and considerate throughout the entire episode, even asking if I would prefer to stop, have a break and start again. I appreciate their concern, however, when faced with 32 needles of varying sizes, (I should add that the small ones at the beginning, whilst being the smallest do carry a wicked sting and the rest simply become larger and, depending on the successful placement carry their own degree of ‘sting’ and pain!), it would take someone more foolhardy than I to agree to halt the proceedings.

hypodermic syringe

courtesy oocities.org
To be fair I have been spoilt, pampered and cosseted since I left the doctors office by my wonderful and I’m sure long suffering husband.  Without him this would be no simple, never ending nightmare, but an ongoing and never ending sample of Dante’s Inferno!  Perhaps worse than the pain, which I know will eventually fade, is the feeling of facing future decrepitude.  An interesting definition, or description of decrepitude I found is:

the state of being old and no longer in good condition or

 good health”

In other places it directly refers to being useless and feeble, both states I have felt in full measure this evening. There were times as I attempted to painstakingly shuffle from place to place that I had a clear and multicolored picture of a very old cottage, timbers riddled with dry rot, falling apart before my eyes. It was quaint, it was in some ways picturesque, it most definitely was real, and most importantly to me at the time, it accurately bespoke how I felt and saw myself in the future.  A future I should add that did not seem very far away! 

decrepit old cottage

courtesy of wikipaintings.org

“It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think our present existence, as a dream.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

I was not feeling sorry for myself, this was after all, exactly what I had agreed to, and in the fullness of time, I believe I will be pain free and able to do all the things I have missed doing over the last decade.  Things I did and took for granted until I could no longer do them.

areobics

courtesy of 123rf.com

There was just one small hiccough to this positive frame of mind. Each and every time I sat down, or indeed moved, I got a clear and present warning that my back did not appreciate the treatment it had been subjected to.  What could I expect really? In all honesty could I expect my body to appreciate being used as a human pincushion! Of course not!

To add a little more interest to the night I was doing my Gratitude Journal, not as difficult as one might imagine, when I asked my Guides (spirit guides) to give me a sign that they were there, with me. It may seem nonsensical to some, but it meant a great deal to me.

 Suddenly, (doesn’t it always happen suddenly?),  I heard the sound of my resident owl calling, ‘whoo who, whoo who.’   It was my Mopoke owl. Depending on where you hail from, it is called a Mopoke, Boobook, or Tawny Frogmouth. He is beautiful and I love both seeing him and hearing him, but none more so than tonight when I was feeling more than a little low. This was the sign I asked for and which came so quickly. He stayed close by calling without pause for half an hour before he left. I am truly grateful for his visit. 

mopoke or boobook owl

courtesy of thinktag.com

So, whilst still in pain, feeling somewhat decrepit at the moment, and unable to sleep, I have been shown that all is and will be well in my world.  I am going to find a semi comfortable position, find my meditation crystal, get my iPod set up with a good meditation track and rest.  Rest is what my body needs tonight and probably tomorrow and that’s the message from my owl friend, so that is what I will do. A few pictures for you which I cannot make my iPad cooperate with and “that’s all for me folks “. 

positive future happy image
curtesy of davishypnosis.com

  “Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it…”

         

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“The person who sends out positive thoughts activates the world around him positively and draws back to himself positive results.” Norman Vincent Peale

There is nothing quite like the knowledge that you have to undergo “a procedure”. It sounds like such an innocent little thing but it’s only when you get right down to the nitty-gritty that you find out what you’ve let yourself in for. So it is with me. I’m currently wondering if I am ready for later today.
worried lady

image courtesy of truthaboutwater.com
For more than a decade I’ve had a problem with my back and neck, courtesy of an insignificant little car accident! It  was quite silly really. We were stationary and the other vehicle simply T Boned us at a relatively slow speed. Nothing to worry about. Right?   I carefully checked everyone out. No broken  bones, no bruises and no blood!  Too simple. All we needed was to exchange details  and away we could go.
“car accident” courtesy of photobucket

There was however an itch on the back of my neck I simply couldn’t ignore. So as soon as we arrived home out came the trusty camera, the car was photographed from  stem to stern and we started to write down chronologically exactly what had happened.  By the time we had finished I had a rather nasty headache which I put down to delayed shock.   Mistake number one !  A couple of painkillers and a very hot bath later  I went to bed to sleep off the ‘headache’.

The next morning was something out of a cartoon show. There I was as stiff as a board and unable to get out of bed without help. I still had some misguided notion that I could go to work and so, another very hot shower later I had to acknowledge that it simply wasn’t going to go my way! I called the closest doctor (mistake number two) and drove to see him.  (mistake number three).  A pattern was emerging but I was too sore to realize this and was still hanging onto some vague notion that I was going to be able to go to work! It was a simple whiplash and I was assured that a couple of days bed rest with the trusty  Valium and I would be fit and raring to go again. (mistake number four).
woman in pain
I could still only move around with a great deal of pain but I was prepared to give it a go. (number five and counting).  There followed two years of infighting with my employer who didn’t want me on Work Cover. I didn’t want to be on it either but that didn’t appear to register.  The number of mistakes by this time were too numerous to count. Eventually  I lost my job under a beautiful little loophole in the Industrial Relations Act and found myself unable to get a job since my neck and back has been well and truly ‘wrecked’ beyond belief  and much of the time I staggered around unable to ‘tie my shoelaces unaided’!  The major irony according to the specialists, was that if I had been allowed to change my ‘duties’ after the accident I wouldn’t have the back problems I now have.  If I sound a little  bitter you would be right.  Was this a “life lesson?”

So here I am, trying to sleep, obviously ineffectively, waiting on the next procedure to get some pain relief.  I’m all booked in for a “medial branch block of the C3 – C 7” area of my neck. I’m still not sure if they chose my neck first because it hurts more than my back or if I’m just lucky!

It’s now much later in the day and the procedure went well, which is a gross understatement.  To say I was a little nervous would be making  light of things. The idea of all those needles in my neck was daunting but I was  desperate for some lasting relief. You get that way after a decade or so. Finally here I was in my little  paper gown waiting to go into the room where it would all happen!
cervical medial Cervical medial branch block

image courtesy of springerimages.com

It’s now much later in the day and the procedure went well, which is a gross understatement.  To say I was a little nervous would be making  light of things. The idea of all those needles in my neck was daunting but I was  desperate for some lasting relief. You get that way after a decade or so. Finally here I was in my little  paper gown waiting to go into the room where it would all happen!

I should add at this point that I haven’t been able to lay on my tummy for over a decade. I have had to succumb to sitting in a reclining position to sleep at night. This was a challenge as I had to lay face down for at least half an hour and be absolutely still. A huge challenge.  So there I was lying with my nose squished to the tiny pillow as the CT scan was used to find the correct places for the eight needles I required. Please note that was eight needles, big ones!

The first eight were the “small” injection of anaesthetic I needed to numb the upper layer of  tissue. The following eight were taken right into the neck and as close to the nerve as possible.  Very uncomfortable! Deep breathing and prayers were beginning to flow  at  this point. Fortunately the anaesthetic was very quick acting and I didn’t feel the ‘needles’ going in which would touch the nerves.

This is where things became very uncomfortable. It had taken much longer than the  half hour anticipated, in fact it was close to an hour. My back had long since decided to punish me for placing it in a position guaranteed to create pain. The agony from this reached from my tail bone, over my entire hip area and was closing fast on my shoulder blades. It was now a close race on which area would be number one in the agony stakes!

Then came the nerve ‘block’. A strange name for  something which a felt as though a red-hot poker was being jabbed into each nerve to see if it reacted strongly enough to the stimulus before the anaesthetic was administered.
one injection image courtesy of  metacafe.com

(picture this repeated four times on each side of the cervical bones).

When I was praying the loudest they decided they had found the best places. (You might substitute a strangled scream for the prayer!)  The relief to know it was over was immeasurable.  The fun, if you have a warped sense of humour, then began when I had to try to move. My back was frozen solid with the pain of laying absolutely still for well over an hour. My husband told me it was close to an hour and a half.

Sitting was hilarious. My sense of balance had gone completely, as had my hearing and my eyes refused to focus. I can’t really comment about my legs, they were there somewhere but we’re not functioning quite the way they should. However, the bright spot in this was that I couldn’t feel a thing in my neck so my thumping headache had gone. I guess I had a win there!
dizzy personimage courtesy of balancenadmobility.com
I’m now sitting in bed, still wobbly, still unfocused, at least somewhat, and praying I won’t lose too much hair when the dressings are  removed tomorrow.  I’m lucky I know. I’m much more fortunate than many, but at the back of this wooly brain is the thought that come Monday I have this same procedure lined up for my lower back.

This is part one, if successful the next phase is “ablation”, burning the nerves. I’m nervous and medical procedures don’t usually concern me overly much, not after all the research I do. Yet this does make me think. It’s much more painful for some time afterwards and there is too much to be done on the work front.  It’s a difficult decision to make; pain for some time versus freedom of movement, pain-free movement when it subsides. It’s not a cure-all, those wonderful nerves regrow so the entire thing has to be repeated in about a year – if you’re game that is.

As Charles Dickens said:
“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

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