Stabbed In The Back

What it feels like to get a steroid injection into the epidural space surrounding your spine:
First, you beg the doctor to cut you open and rip your spine out like a fish.

Then you show him your hairy legs because you haven’t been able to bend down long enough to shave them in weeks, and he looks at you pityingly but understandingly.

Then he suggests a spinal steroid injection first and you agree because you would agree to chop off a leg if it meant less pain.

So you get an MRI so the doctor can get an idea of where the shot needs to be and he tells you you have facet arthropathy and spinal stenosis, and the scoliosis that runs in your family seems to have progressed along with the disc degeneration. Then you realize you’re only 33 years old and go into a deep depression.

You arrive at the hospital for the procedure and they make you sign a waiver that talks about paralysis and spinal headaches that can result from injections like the one you’re about to have in your spine.

The orderly takes your blood pressure and it’s only a little above normal and you wonder if you’re a CIA agent with blood pressure and heart beat normalizing powers because you’re freaked out.

They call you in and you change and plop down on the table on your stomach. Then they bare your ass to the world, i.e. the three people in the room other than the doctor. I feel like I should send them all a muffin basket for having to witness the badonkadonk.

They adjust the live X-ray – the machine they use so they can watch the needle, guide the medication to the right place, and reduce the risk that they’ll paralyze me on the table. The doctor injects me with numbing stuff all up in mah butt cheekal area. I whimper like a baby and she injects more until I’m comfortably numb. ‪#‎floyd‬

The needle for the epidural steroid goes in and the numbing agent works up until a point. Then the needle is dripping liquid onto my spinal cord and down my sciatic nerve. My whole leg feels like it’s on pins and needles, tensing up and I have no control. I feel the searing feeling of the medication literally pulsing down my nerve all the way from my lower back to my toes. I’m white-knuckling the pillow and staining it with involuntary tears, realizing that I’m in this place alone. It’s par for the course because my family is limited and scattered, and I don’t want to bother my friends. You fear that you will end up one of those people on government assistance and unable to care for yourself some day because of the extent of the back issues. You hear people tell you if you lost weight it would resolve itself, though your doctor tells you it would not matter and the combination of genetics and six years of lab stools during college and grad school were the perfect storm.

You replay this in your head while you’re on the table and you continue to cry as the steroids drip, drip, drip down your spine.

Finally it’s over and the doctor squeezes your hand and gives you a tissue. After a while, the orderly helps you roll to your side and then sit up, like an old person in a home. He guides you into the wheelchair they make you ride around in to the recovery area, and then takes your blood pressure and pulse again for the “after” numbers. Somehow, you are still hovering right around normal and now you feel you’d hold up well under torture.

You lay around for a while until the feeling returns to your leg and foot. They help you get dressed and usher you out the door. You drive home and immediately put on pajamas and get into bed to rest your back and your body from the trauma you just put it through. The daily pain you learn to live with is common and expected. The night after night of barely achieving sleep because no position is comfortable and you wake up constantly in pain. The trauma of trying to right the wrongs your body experiences is jarring and needs its own recovery. You watch friends go hiking and climbing and jogging and wonder if you’ll ever be able to do that again like you used to before your back decided to give up like a loser and degenerate. You look at the pool in your complex and pine for Memorial Day so you can do some pressure-less back work since you are basically a fish and feel at home in the water. You snuggle with your dogs and eat beef lo mein and watch Gilmore Girls and look forward to the medication beginning to take effect, hoping to stave off another, more invasive surgery. You realize that life is short and you shouldn’t spend any of it doing things that bring you pain, emotional or otherwise.

I’m itchy.

You know that feeling you get when you’re at home on a lazy Saturday, watching Netflix, with no pants on, snuggled up with a dog or two? That feeling of total relaxation, like you couldn’t care less if the floor needs sweeping or the dishes need doing? That feeling of calm when you realize you have two whole days to chill out and enjoy?

Now imagine that every second of every minute of every day is filled with an unsettled nervousness. Watching Netflix, with no pants on, snuggled up with a dog or two, and being paralyzed with the feeling that you should be doing other things, so many things that you don’t know where to start, so you don’t start at all.

That’s what anxiety feels like. This inexplicable feeling of itchiness in your world, your home, your own skin.

Pupdate: The Great Dog Saga of ’14

Pupdate‬ and two types of irony, one happy and one not so much.

Raina has been going through some stuff. tl;dr is that she probably has a urinary/bladder/kidney infection, but also had symptoms completely unrelated probably brought on by stress from the painful infection. I’ve spent the last week and a half taking Raina to the regular vet and she finally suggested we see a specialist.

Specialist vet didn’t trust data from original vet (known from here on out as SV and OV) because they showed me a syringe of (TMI alert) Raina’s urine and it was green/dark orange-tinged and very cloudy. SV said she talked to OV who said it looked like it showed hemolysis, but SV thinks that it’s related to elevated bilirubin levels. SV also said that OV did a urine-IF test which means she’d only culture it IF it showed something worth culturing, which upon first test it did not. Then two days later OV did the low culture count test on the same sample, and SV said at that point, there would have been nothing left alive to culture in the original sample.

This coupled with the second ultrasound which confirmed “abnormal and thickened bladder wall” and “abnormal and tender” kidneys makes SV think it is actually some sort of urinary/bladder/kidney infection.
They took more blood and are going to test the urine that they took today and culture the full sample immediately. So I’ll have the results of the blood test and other urinalysis tomorrow and the culture probably Wednesday or so.

Bought turkey and mixing her food with it and she’s eating it. SV said that lack of appetite isn’t a normal symptom which would confuse anyone, especially coupled with other random things like fluid in the ear. So I just have to make the food irresistible and hopefully she’ll continue to eat. As for the diarrhea, it’s anyone guess.

Seriously, it’s like the great dog saga of ’14.

So now, the two ironies.

1) The happy/sarcastic irony

– Neighbors moved in a few months back and complained that Squiggy was barking at squirrels in the back yard. The landlord/landlady came to visit and asked me to get a white noise machine (though it’s inside and the squirrels are outside, but I digress) so I did. Now, keep in mind, these houses all have yards. There are dogs everywhere. They bark, they cry, and I never complain because I have dogs and I know that’s what they do when they are being dogs. O_o

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and it seems the same neighbors got a dog. It (not sure of sex) spends a fair amount of time out in the backyard. When it’s out there, it peeks its little head through the hole in the bottom of the fence and Raina makes out with it and Squiggy barks at it. Today, I got home from SV with the pups and NP (neighbor pup) is out in their yard and won’t stop crying. I go to make dinner for R+S and I open the back door and talk sweet to it while I cook. It stops crying and barking for a good half hour and long story short I think Raina’s engaged.

Moral of the story, don’t bitch about your neighbor’s dogs b/c when you get a dog, your neighbor with dogs might be the one thing that can get your dog to stop crying.

2) Unhappy irony

Made friends with an older gentleman (OG) at SV’s office in San Mateo. His older male cat had bit his younger female cat b/c they have never gotten along in the year that he’s had them. Luckily SV said the bite didn’t look too severe but they did some sort of scan just to see if there was internal damage.

While I’m in the waiting room with Raina to get results from the ultrasound, I hear SV talking to one of the techs and she said, “It’s cancer. I know it is. We’ll biopsy but we need to do something now.” and I almost had a fricking panic attack thinking SV was talking about Raina, thinking, “Please don’t let it be her. Please don’t let it be her.”

Turns out they were talking about OG’s cat. When I left, they had started her on a blood transfusion and OG had to call his sister to have her pay for the visit b/c it was so expensive. The cat had to stay overnight and he left in tears with the carrier in his hands.

The slightly good news is that they think it might still be treatable but they would never have found it in time if the older cat didn’t bite the younger cat.

Moral of that story is cats can detect cancer too.