Tuesday, June 7, 2011

back to back (or back to me talking about my back)

I confess...this was going to start as a post about my ongoing back battles and then move on to general body stuff, including "talking" about having bought a treadmill.  But the back stuff got long so I'm cutting "part two."  I may revisit the dropped issues later since they are worth a ramble -- I love the convenience of the treadmill at home, but need to work on the demons and not feel the need to hop on for a random mile here and there...yes, that might be a good thing for most folks, but it could get WAY out of control for me and I need to generally have my workout and then be done.

I've been battling this back injury for what feels like a crazy long time.  In summer 2009, I was plagued by what I thought was a sore glute.  I remember trouble as far back as a Memorial Day trip to the Finger Lakes when the car ride was troublesome (even with wine tastings to help take my mind off it!!).  I blamed it on general exercise soreness but it definitely felt worse than normal and was always on the left.  Later in the year the left hip became the demon and I sought help in December.  The first doc focused on the hip (which is what hurt then, with a few back twinges) and did some shots for bursitis with no results.  I moved on and to two more doctors as 2010 opened.  The pain actually started focusing more in the low back (and intensifying) just as one doc started thinking that was to blame.  I tried two epidural steroid shots and became a PT regular (side note: LOVED Michael, my MA physical therapist...great at "getting" active patients which was important to me).  I did strengthen and improve my flexibilty, both of which had suffered.  I got to my personal norm on the toe reach...still couldn't touch my toes, but I never could.  But the pain never abated.  Moved to PA and tried another PT with a different approach but didn't show progress and was booted (insurance stuff).  A spike in pain in February 2011 led me to another doc office, this time a colleague of doctor dad's.  An MRI and a bone scan later, we suspect degenerative disc disease.  Most days are a 7 on the pain scale (1-10), 8s are pretty common too.

Monday is another step.  I fully understand it is necessary, but this one scares me.  I'm usually not too difficult of a patient...I had no trouble with the MRIs and I know there's always a process.  But I'm terrified of needles.  I haven't tried in recent years, but I have actually been told I was too scare to donate blood...I got scared my pulse skyrocketed, and I was disqualified.  The upcoming test includes an IV and needles in the back.  The GOAL is pain.  They need to fully identify the source and the only way to do this is by trying to stimulate the pain.  Not fun.  The intake person called today and said I could get a sedative if I need it and they do give pain meds after it is done (none from 9PM the night prior till the 1PM show time).  At MM's suggestion, the staff member did confirm I could bring my teddy bear.

If the test confirms the current theory, I'll head to surgery.  I've done the epidurals and the PT so it moves to the next step.  I've had FIVE surgeries...adenoids removed and sinuses drained at 13, tonsils yanked at 17, three pelvic laproscopies for the endometriosis.  Each time, the only thing I was really scared on was the IV (see the needle phobia above).  I trust that doctors know their trade.  I know it is a big day as a patient but another work day for a doctor and they have usually done it many many times (or are being supervised by someone who has) and I am pretty good at handing control to them.  But I'm scared this time.  I have tried a bit of googling but know I need to really hear it from the doc since things are often changing.  I am scared of the pain, esp since I already use the max dosage of my pain meds to get through days with the "normal" pain.  I am scared of mentally handling the rest and recovery.  They have an outpatient clinic, but some google results say it requires a night or two stay.  That scares me too. 

My back has been AWFUL the past few days.  Saturday was the first time I hit the "going away" point that I have with the endo.  I think it is being mean to remind me I NEED to move through these steps to get well.  And it does help to know I'm moving ahead.  I tell that to myself when I hit the 8+ on the pain scale.  After a long and ongoing battle with endo, where they really can't offer much of a fix, it is nice to have the light at the end of the tunnel.  And I'll keep going towards it, even if I'm limping a bit.

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