Monday, November 10, 2008

Magical Doctors

I've been wanting to write about how impressed I am with a doctor I am seeing right now. I'm not sure what kind of doctor he actually is but he is a pain management specialist--maybe that's what kind of doctor he is. Anyway, for a good year or so now, I have been having a problem with my neck. I had been seeing a chiropractor for "routine adjustments" and while it helped, my neck would start hurting again after a couple of days. I thought my insurance would frown if I started going to see him every other day and him as well as I've asked him to marry me several times after an adjustment. I don't think he takes me seriously.

Anyway, the chiropractor suggested I might look into therapeutic massage since I "seem to carry alot of stress" in my neck and shoulders. He didn't have to tell me that. I'm well aware of where my stress sits and it's funny, I so want someone (small, of course) to just stand on the bone at the base of my neck some days to push it back in place. Yeah, that would solve it all, I thought.

So I found a good therapeutic massage therapist and started going weekly for one hour sessions. She informed me, my back and shoulders and neck were just a mess of bumps and it was going to take some time with weekly, hourly sessions (at $96 a pop) to get me some relief.

I so enjoyed my massages for a few weeks and I'm sure, in time, my "bumps" would have gone away. Though I still noticed within hours of a session my neck was quite painful and since the insurance wasn't covering the massages, maybe I should see a "real doctor", one that is covered under my insurance. Just to make sure I really didn't have a real medical issue and before I had to declare bankruptcy.

My primary doc referred me to a good orthopedic doctor who after an exam and and x-rays explained that I had alot (evidence was bone spurs) of arthritis radiating from the "big bone" at the base of my neck. I KNEW IT!! That bone was the source of my problem. He said the arthritis was caused by a break and did I remember when I could have injured this. A car accident, fall (and I'm always falling!), something in the past that happened....

Well, it took me all of about 10 minutes before I realized exactly when I injured myself (when I was in kindergarden), and this is another story that will be left untold--a remnant of a dysfunctional childhood. But bottom line, I had hit the floor on my back and suffered a concussion and believe this is when that bone was injured. Then again in 2nd grade, I had a bad fall on the playground, hit the same part of my head, and another concussion and most likely injured this back bone a second time. This bone is so close to my head, how could I hit my head hard on the back without this bone also hitting hard. So mystery solved BUT pain is still there.

So the Ortho Doc sent me to Physical Therapy for about 8 weeks. I must say, this therapist (that my insurance also covered) greatly increased the range of motion in my neck (how bad was this you ask? I couldn't turn my head left to look over my shoulder when entering the highway---just used my mirrors and hoped no one was in a blind spot!).

I did exercises there every other day and at home every day; I was put in a traction machine, he massaged my neck and shoulders (wonderfully and it was covered by my insurance!!) and for eight weeks, tried to eliminate the pain. We all (me, the ortho doc, and the therapist) discussed my amount of pain and let's face it, arthritis does not go away and I would probably have to live with a certain amount of pain but with my exercises, at least I could manevour my head around and wouldn't be scaring other drivers on the road with me quite so much!

So after eight weeks, my treatment stopped. Ortho doc told me to take 800 mg of ibuprofen twice a day and do my PT exercises at home and that was about all he could do for me and I tottered away.

THEN I started working out at the Fitness Center where I work in the constant effort of trying to lose weight. I met with my "fitness coordinator" who worked up my exercise plan and every night I was gung ho in the fitness room. I think I even out worked-out some of the men on some nights. (I did get some sideways looks at times when I was on the treadmill or eliptical, by a neighbor on the same machine and it was like a competition of who was going to stop first---they didn't want a female to outlast them but I did first.)

But after a couple of weeks, my gung-honess was rapidly deteriorating when I couldn't lift my left arm to perform my weight exercises. Actually, I couldn't lift it more than about 6 inches from my side, let alone lift it high enough to put on deodarant or fasten a necklace. At first, I thought I must have pulled a muscle and was just working weights on my right side and letting my left side slide until I had a horrifying thought that my body would somehow become lopsided with a thin, toned right side and flabby left and how was I ever going to fix that. Then about the same time, I heard on the news that a swimmer at the Olympics had surgery on her shoulder and it had something to do with her arthritis. An AH HA moment as Oprah calls them. I do not have to nor will I live with arthritis pain and what the heck was wrong with my arm now.

So I marched back to the Ortho Doc's office saying I am not satisified, I want the pain gone and by the way, what is wrong with my arm. Finally, he sends me for a MRI which shows not one but two bulging discs in my neck and they are pressing on the nerve running down my shoulder and down my arm. AH HA! And with that, he writes me a prescription for a muscle relaxer so I can sleep and he sends me to the Magical Doctor that I wanted to tell you about.

This doctor tells me he can eliminate the pain but the process is going to hurt a little but he has plans for me. Plan A is epidural injections in the bone...yes THE bone, at the base of neck. These injections will contain a medicine that will hopefully reduce the inflammation in the bulges and they will go back in (my Plan A is take a hammer and just pound them back in!).

I hear some horror stories from all my friends with back "issues" but I trust Dr. Magic and I'm gonna get an injection. So they withhold my ibuprofen and muscle relaxers for three days so I'm good and hurting (and no food all day for me) and I go in for Injection One---got hopped up on Valium in the office and he numbed the spot---(no I did not cry, my eyes were watering from allergies or something!) He worked on me for about 15 minutes or so and injected this medicine in the bone and I felt hot fire running across my shoulder and down my left arm. It was truly magic. How did he know from the bone in the back of my neck that the med would go that way and not down the other arm or in my back or down my legs or in my head. No, he hit the exact spot of all my discomfort. I was amazed by his magical skills.....and yes, I'll come back in two weeks and we can do this again!!

I won't go into how I felt that night or the next 24 hours. I was just enthralled by my magical doctor.

So two weeks later, I'm again in the office, popping my Valium and got Injection Two....he wants to help with my arthritis this time and when he injected the medicine, it felt like a very warm heating pad going across both shoulders and my neck but for some reason he was writing me pain medicine prescriptions before I got off the table and telling me we had alot of work still to do.

Again, I won't go into my next 24 hours!

Another four weeks pass and I go in for the third injection......lots of eye watering this time (can't they use baby orajel on me or something before they give me those #$*#&$* numbing shots?!) and the magic was gone for this injection, I didn't feel anything anywhere but Dr. Magic (who is from India) serenaded me with Margaritaville while he worked, which was somewhat amusing with his accent.

So now we are about to start Plan B---Nerve block shots in the joint (given on the side of my neck, I think I'll just openly cry during this--it can't be painless in the least and there's just not enough Valium....) I asked him if they could just put me to sleep for these and he said "No, I like to talk to you while I work" now I'm entertaining to Dr. Magic. I can get two of these injections, maybe if I sob during Shot one, he'll put me out for the second one! One can only hope. Dr. Magic also talks about Plan C.....until next time.

"Not Painfree Yet" Grammy signing off.

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