The Epidural and Other Updates

A week ago, I got the epidural, the injection of yet more cortisone into my spine. We had to be there at 8, so I asked Dan to spend the night so it would be easier to get there in the morning. Which he did, without complaint.

We got there on time, but he was not allowed into the waiting room, due to the virus. It would have been less nerve-wracking if he’d been allowed to sit with me. But I get it. No more people than necessary in the surgical center. They took me in promptly at 9 AM. A nurse began setting up an IV in the back of my right hand. Since I was only there for an epidural, I asked what the IV was for.

“To sedate you.” “Really? I replied because I didn’t feel nervous at all. But apparently I was not reading my body well because my blood pressure, usually in the low range was up over 170, and I don’t know what the diastolic number was, because the 170 freaked me out a little. I told her I guessed it was high from the pain since I’d taken no pain meds that morning. No acetaminophen, or anything. She thought I was nervous. Anyway, the nurse couldn’t find the vein in the back of my right hand, so she taped it off and went to find someone else to try my left hand. The next nurse got it in. I asked what they were giving me to sedate me, and the nurse said she didn’t really know but probably some drug I’d never heard of and maybe some fentanyl. I was like really? Fentanyl? For an epidural? I didn’t question it aloud, but still it seemed overkill to me.

At any rate, they wheeled me into the room where the procedure would be done. I saw my dr on the way there and barely recognized him because he was in, obviously, full PPE. I’d had to strip down and put on one of those horrible hospital gowns, “Open in the back…” Then I had to roll onto another bed, which caused the “gown” to slide off my ass. Lovely. Just what I wanted to do was have my backside exposed in front of the 3 or 4 young men in this room, 20 or 30 somethings, who were there to help me get onto the other bed, and on my stomach, and hurt a lot. Rolling over is a problem for me, or was, at the moment.

They then begin scrubbing my back down with some betadine solution, I think. Or iodine. They asked if I had an allergy to iodine. No…. They wiped it clean, I guess, since I couldn’t see I can’t be sure. I’m guessing they put a topical solution on me then, and began inserting the needle, which I could not tell you if it was huge or not. Gratefully, I never saw it. He put it in a few times, and I could feel it, so I wasn’t that sedated. It hurt. But of course it did, and I was still hopeful for a good result. In a matter of minutes, they were getting me back onto the first bed, covering me with nice warm sheets or maybe a flannel blanket. Again, my BP was really high so I laid in the post-op room for a long bit, til they could see the BP coming down. The male nurse got me a small can of ginger ale, and asked me how I felt. Was I nauseous? In pain? I said, actually, I just want to go to sleep, since I hadn’t slept much the night before. By 10 AM he was having me sign a bunch of release documents, and then I got dressed. He had taken the IV out, and bandaged it. I looked down and the bandage had slipped down my arm, and a huge bruise of purple and red and blue was forming on the back of my hand. All swollen up. I got his attention and said, “I think you need to put this on again.” When he saw it I watched alarm flicker across his professional face. He said he was going to go get an ice pack, but re-wrapped it first.

Can anyone tell me why they needed to do the IV in my hand? I know I bumped it a few times trying to get rolled over, feeling like a beached whale in my inability to turn over, which is probably why when he took it out it bled under the skin. But now, eve a week later, it looks like I punched someone. It’s not like they tried for my arm and couldn’t. I was not in a place in my head where I was going to question what they did, so I still just wonder.

Dan was out in the parking lot, and when he saw me at the front door (I was trying to call him) he came over and got me, why the nurse stayed with me til I was safely in the car. He’d had nothing to eat all morning, thinking I might want to go with him. And I’d have loved to. But just couldn’t.

I was now in some pain on the way home, but nothing compared to how I felt all afternoon, until about 4 PM. Just wanted to lay on the couch and sleep, not move and pray that I would eventually feel better. Dan made sure I was comfortable, had everything I needed, then went home. Because, what was he going to do, sit there and watch me sleep? But at 3 or 4 I got up to go to the bathroom and walk into the kitchen (which has been a chore for months) and realized I actually was feeling better. Pain levels were down considerably.

YAYAY.

I got a bite to eat shortly after that. Marveling at how much better I felt. While still in pain, the edge was off. I was not as bent over as I had been in the morning. I went to bed that night still with the hydrocodone, and my trusty Indica vape by my bed. I spoke to Dan at some point that evening, and he was happy to hear that I felt a little better.

Thursday and Friday, I felt a lot better. It was so awesome. I felt SOOO good that I decided to vacuum my living room on Friday. I mean, hey….it’s just pushing the vac around a not very big room. Big mistake….OMG. I had fired up my SI joint (one of many things this spinal stenosis caused pain in) and was once again in deep pain. The rest of Friday, and Saturday. I walked around, and sat around with an icepack on my back, and one on my SI muscle in the front. And mostly I just sat in the recliner with the icepacks

Later in the day Saturday, Dan called and wanted to know what I’d want to eat, if I could order food from anywhere. “Pia’s” I said, without hesitation. It’s our favorite restaurant in town here, with really good Italian fare, like lasagna made with their super thick rich bolognese sauce. Anyway, that was all he needed to hear. He came over that afternoon, and at dinnertime, with a take out bag from Pia’s So so good. We even had a glass of wine with it, because by dinner the SI joint pain was easing somewhat.

Sunday my writer’s group, Hypatia, had our monthly zoom meeting. A couple people couldn’t make it, and only 3 had written anything, so it was a short meeting, and I was grateful for that. I felt a little better, but it’s such slow going.

Monday, I ordered groceries from Instacart. And I canceled for the 3rd time my appointment to get a back brace fitted, because of the logistics of parking the car and getting into the building. Gotta wait until I can actually walk more than 30 steps. Tuesday 3 of my girlfriends came over for coffee in the morning for a couple hours. The visit was shortened by a pop-up thunderboomer, but it was lovely to see them. Dan came in the afternoon, and we talked, had dinner, played cards.

Now, today, 10 days later, I have decided I am slowly improving. The improvement is made in small increments. The biggest difference, to me, is that at night when the pain was always the worst, I can lie on the couch with NO pain. That’s a HUGE improvement. I’m still on an ice pack, but taking less Tylenol. And last night….I skipped taking the opiate, they have only given me 7 more, and that’s the end of it, so I wanted to see if I could sleep without it. I felt I could because I really had no pain, once I got into bed.

Of course, I didn’t go to sleep, lol. Not even with my trusty vape. So around 1 AM I took an Ambien, and some ibuprofen, and guess that I slept fitfully for a couple hours. At 4 AM I got up and got an icepack, laid it on my hip and fell asleep until 7:30. So, not too bad for my first night without a real pain killer.

I’m happy with my progress so far. I mean, yeah, there’s a long way to go, but first I needed to get the pain under control. Next, I need to be able to walk, say, through the grocery store. Maybe down to my friend’s house 3 door down. Anything to not feel so confined to this tiny 900 sq. ft. house, with its tiny yard. Don’t get me wrong, I love my house. But not 24/7/365. For months it’s all I have seen except for the inside of a doctor’s office, or occasionally Dan’s house, though that’s been about 6 or 8 weeks. And of course, I’m home all the time not just because I have this ailment. It’s also the damn virus, which while it’s better here, has a long way to go. Yeah, we were down to 5,800 new cases. Ridiculously high, but way better than 10,000, 12,000, or even 15,000. I think we still lead the nation in daily new cases though. So, even if my health were perfect, I wouldn’t be going out, except maybe to the beach. Missing the beach. I haven’t been in ages. I actually enjoy it in the summer when the beach is basically empty. And the water is so warm. Maybe soon, maybe soon.

So, all in all, I’m hopeful. The pain is not gone, I still can’t walk far, but I can walk farther, at least today. I made it out to my mailbox this morning, a distance of 30′ to 40’. I have a dr appointment on Wednesday afternoon, so he can evaluate the success of the epidural. Personally, I think I’ll need another, or something anyway because my hip joint and SI joint still hurt. And I still cannot walk far without pain. I am using the pain meds sparingly because he has told me I won’t get more. He said I didn’t need more, because I’m better. Which is ridiculous as far as I’m concerned, since I’m still in significant pain. Not as bad as I was, but still….If my pain level was a 9 out of 10, and now it’s at a 6 or 7. it’s still significant. And I still need help with it.

Daniel has started to be grouchy, and irritable in the last few days, for no real cause except he is not sleeping well, but he never sleeps well. I get that he feels slightly put upon because he is helping his mother, brother and me. But it’s a choice he made, and he doesn’t have to do anything for me, except drive me to the dr, and even that I can do for myself is week. So….I haven’t seen him in about 3 days, except to talk to him on Facetime. But the conversation always ends up with politics, which we differ on a lot and which I hate discussing because seriously I have so little interest in it. I don’t want to see him as long as he’s in this mood. He’s been good to me, I get he’s sick of it, but I have no choice regarding my ability to do anything, and no one is sicker than me of it.

The only thing I am really upset about with politics is that I am so pissed off at 45 about the USPS antics. I never in my life expected to have a president who is absolutely determined to disenfranchise as many voters as he can. And to not give a damn if they have to stand in line in a pandemic. I’m getting a mail-in ballot but will take it to the polling station near my house and put it in the dropbox they have there.

Well, there you have it, the complete update, lol. I hope everyone is healthy, safe, and happy.

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