Where Has Hadena Gone?

I survived my book talk on Tuesday.  There were a few moments of doubt on my part, as I slugged down several extra strength Tylenol so I could sit comfortably.  Aside from that two hours, I’ve pretty much been doing as little as possible.

First, let me explain the process, because most people are thinking they are like shots.  They really aren’t.  They mark the spots with pen where they are going to insert the needles.  Then they insert all the needles… all of them.  This time it was 18.  The doctor then moves from needle to needle with the medicine.  The syringe is screwed onto the needle, the medicine injected, the syringe unscrewed, and onto the next.  This is followed by a repeat of that same procedure on all the needles.  For 45 minutes, I laid on my stomach over an X-Ray machine that helped them guide the needles in and avoid bone, as they moved to each needle, injected, and etc.

Monday, I got injections for the leg pain that I suffer due to nerve irritation going through my SI joints.  The injections do help.  This time though, they made me sick.  Monday I ran a fever, was nauseated, slept most of the day, and hurt like you would not believe.

They hit my sciatic nerve on both sides this time.  That was interesting.  When the needle was inserted, my leg drew up all on its own and I couldn’t do anything about it.  So the injection went into a tensed leg on each side and felt like molten lava.

Those sites are still bothering me even today.  Tylenol is helping, but not much.  I can’t take NSAIDS, which sucks, because I think ibuprofen or ketorolac would help a lot more…

As bad as the sciatic injections were though, there was one worse.  There is a large nerve that runs through the pelvis from front to back.  To get to it, they stuck a needle in the crack of my ass. Holy shit.  It was unexpected and it hurt like hell.  No molten lava sensations, which was nice, but it feels like they tore everything down there.

It did teach me a few things:

  • My doctor has a sense of humor and I did tell him I was going to kill him in a book, which he was fine with.  It’s nice to have a doctor with a sense of humor.  I try very hard to be stoic when having any sort of procedure done and that means cracking jokes.  Having a doctor that jokes back is really nice.  I did yelp though when they did the three big ones.  However, I still got a pat on the back by the nurses and the doctor who said most people cry or scream during the procedures, so my tiny yelps were easy to deal with.
  • Injecting into large nerves hurts more than joints and smaller nerves.  And the recovery time seems to be longer.  I’m still having trouble getting comfortable when I sleep and standing/sitting is awful.  Bending and lifting is pretty bad.  I keep walking and doing what I’m supposed to be doing, but the healing is not going nearly as fast as the first time and it’s only those three injection sites that are still bothering me.
  • Whatever the hell is wrong with me responds to large doses of gabapentin.  I’ve mentioned before that sometimes I wake up and I just feel broken in half or the simple act of getting out of bed makes everything hurt. Literally, getting out of bed can be painful in my arms, back, feet, ears, it’s weird to have that happen.  However, after getting the injections, I stopped taking the gabapentin and found those familiar aches and pains coming back.  So today, I took a few that I had and found that tonight, I’m not having the pain I normally have that I just attribute to getting older.  I’m beginning to believe my doctor might be correct and a rheumatologist is in order.  This was further confirmed by X-Rays of my hands recently that showed no arthritis in them and yet, they feel and act like I have arthritis.  I also have issues with my body interpreting being cold as being in pain.  The gabapentin seems to have helped that.  My inflammation levels fluctuate a bit, sometimes they get high, but usually they are just above the normal range… So I don’t have a clue what’s going on and the gabapentin helping those pains is strange.
  • The only time Tramadol actually relieves my pain is when I mix it with gabapentin.  I don’t know exactly what the interaction between those two drugs are, but together, I can be completely pain free for a few hours.  The gabapentin also seems to reverse the side effects of the Tramadol.  Since it is a mild narcotic that also works by adjusting serotonin levels, I have some problems taking it (mainly I lose the ability to sleep when my serotonin levels are messed with – this is why my anxiety is treated with benzodiazepines and not antidepressants).  Taking the two together, makes me pain free and sleepy, which is something I desperately need right now.  Before the injections, I wasn’t sleeping because of the pain in my legs.  Now the pain in my legs is calm enough for me to sleep, but the injection sites are keeping me awake.
  • I am still in the accepting phase.  The injections are here for the long haul.  I’m going to continue to need them for a long time.  My other option is cutting nerves and that doesn’t sound fun to me.  I’m hopeful that in the future, I will learn to deal with them.  I have some pretty strong determination in that department.  However, when they wear off and the pain comes back, I also find myself depressed and wondering how long I can take it.  I knew I was going to have arthritis pain in my hips and the pseudo-arthritic condition in my hands.  I did not expect the chronic pain that I now have in my legs or the rest of my body.  I am looking forward to being able to take Lola the Destroyer back to the park for walks again.  I miss those.  It’s bonding time for us and she enjoys it and as long as the injections are working, it doesn’t cause me more pain.  It actually lifts my mood tremendously.
  • Finally, this means I haven’t been working as much as I’d like.  I need about 10 chapters on Flawless Dreams and this week has mostly been a bust in the writing department.  I’m hoping by Friday the injection sites are no longer bothering me and I can actually sit down long enough to write and stay focused.

Ok, so that’s me this week.  I just have to remind myself that it gets better… the leg pain is minimal and the injection sites will heal soon.

A Year in Review

I’ve been thinking a great deal about why I’m not yet done with Flawless Dreams.  I should be, but I’m not.  It got me thinking about everything that happened this year and honestly, it was trying.

For those that don’t know, Fortified Dreams was written by the end of January 2016.  It’s a good thing or it probably wouldn’t have released.

I started Botox for migraines, which has helped considerably with the number of migraine days as well as how severe they are.  However, it also had an odd down side.  It had been so long since I had long stretches of time without a migraine, that I didn’t know quite how to function.  I know that sounds weird, but seriously, I went from fighting through migraines almost daily to not having but about 15 days a month with one.  So on the days I didn’t have them, it was like “oh, what is this?  What do I do since I’m not thinking my way around the pain?  Can I even function like this?”  I’m still getting used to it and I panic easier about a headache.  Because headaches trigger migraines.  So I get a little stressed and suddenly, I’m dropping everything because now I know what it’s like to not have a migraine every day and I absolutely do not want that headache becoming one.  My neurologist has told me this is normal, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

From August 2016 to November 2017, I dealt with the chronic leg pain.  Was it a vitamin deficiency?  No, those were coming back normal.  It wasn’t a circulation problem.  Physical therapy didn’t help.  I was on narcotics and then off of them more times than I could count and the only time I had any relief was when I was popping Percocet… The tramadol sucked for pain.  Then I was told there was nothing wrong with them…

So, now I’m crazy and possibly a drug addict.  I come from a long line of alcoholics and drug addicts.  That scared me more than you could imagine.  Was I really not in pain but craving the narcotics, so my mind was making up the pain?  Should I talk to someone about rehab?  I didn’t feel like an addict, but does an addict know they’re an addict?  I already know the answer to that one, which terrified me even more.

I was literally having nightmares where I checked myself into rehab and then threw a clot in my leg because it turned out the vascular tests were wrong.  And nightmares where I checked myself into a mental health facility because I was imaging that I was in pain and it had to be a mental problem.  Then there were nightmares where I would dream my spine had broken doing something and I’d wake up in so much pain, I could barely move.

Yet, I was crazy, because the things that were wrong with me were all minor things and I have a high level of pain tolerance.  I spent two months thinking I had lost my mind and the pain wasn’t real.  I had been duped by my own brain into thinking the SI joint injections had worked then and they really hadn’t done anything because there was nothing for it to work on.

Then came the incident with Fentanyl.  I got it at the ER in Hannibal.  In both an IV and a 72-hour patch.  I hallucinated.  I projectile vomited.  I was incoherent.  Only after yanking the patch off after less than 24 hours and sleeping for 18, did I feel any better and then it was only slightly better.  It took five days to recover from that.  NEVER again will I take Fentanyl.

Now, I’m crazy and nearly died due to Fentanyl.  How fucking fantastic is that?

Until I finally got a diagnosis: arthritis of the hips and SI joints leading to nerve inflammation at the base of my spine.  Specifically the nerves that truncate in my lower legs.  The doctor told me it was as if someone had stabbed me in the base of my spine and we had just left the blade in to continue to do damage, because it went untreated for so long.

Oh my god!  I’m not crazy.  I’m not a drug addict.  My brain is not making up this pain.  It really exists and they can do something about it!

I got another round of better targeted injections and wow!  What a difference that made… The pain is almost zero all the time.  My legs start to bother me after lots of activity, but they don’t just hurt all the time anymore.  And the popping that I was experiencing every time I walked, which was a painful pop and grind, is just gone.  I haven’t had it happen since the injections.

I can do stuff again.  Stuff I enjoy.  And I am so happy about it I could do a jig.  I even went dancing.  It was fantastic.  The next day, I was a little sore, but I was not crying on my couch because I hurt so bad.  Now, I have muscle soreness from time to time, but that is nothing like the pain I was experiencing in my legs and that soreness actually makes me feel better because it means that I’m using muscles I haven’t for over a year.

Besides, there were problems that I’m not even going to discuss on my blog.  No one needs to know how bad my mental and physical state had gotten.  I will admit that I became depressed because I was always in pain and believed I was crazy.

Yes, I’m behind on Flawless Dreams and it is looking slimmer and slimmer that I will get it done by the end of the year.  For that, I am very sorry.

However, I feel better, physically and mentally than I have for over a year now.  I’m still working on the depression and since I can’t take antidepressants, that’s been difficult, but my mood has been picking up now that the pain has stopped.  Slowly, but surely, I am returning to normal.

I hope that is a large enough achievement for my readers.  I promise Triggered Dreams will release on time (January 2017).  I promise Flawless Dreams will release soon, I just don’t have an exact date.  It needs some serious work because a lot of what I wrote is marred by pain and pain meds.  I go back and try to fix it, but I think that just makes it worse.  It might be one of the few books that need more than one draft.

Personally, I’m a little disappointed in myself.  I had big plans for this year and 2017, but I failed to accomplish this year’s goals and I am going to have to scale back my plans for 2017.

Gaining Control

Yesterday, I managed to stand up for myself.  I forced the specialist to finally realize exactly what I was going through.  All the pain, all the self loathing, all the indifference, all of it caused because there is something wrong with my back.

My pain is disproportionate to my problem though.  Yes, my L2 disk is in rough shape.  I have scoliosis, which is kind of surprising because I’ve always tried to have good posture and I didn’t have it as a kid.  In my case, it’s “sway back,” meaning my spine curves inwards too much.  And after a second look at the MRI, my L1 disk has a small bulge in it.

I do have inflammation in the area, but not much.  Most of it is actually centered around my SI joints (which are part of the pelvis) and the nerves that run through that area.  It’s those nerves that have been causing my leg pain.  Which I’m happy to report, decreased after the injections into that area.  I didn’t realize it last week, but I had to play all night, normally that makes me want to scream and cry when I get home and all the next day.  My legs did hurt afterwards, but not the bone crushing pain I had been experiencing. So, we may have to increase the frequency of those considering the difference it made.

But what about the other pain?  The one in my back.  The one that has been constant for over a month.  The one I can actually touch.

Yep, I can touch a spot on my back, in a strange place that may or may not be my spine (I can’t tell, which is weird) and send severe pain throughout my body.  There’s no lump, no knots, no indicators that there’s something going on there, except that’s where I feel the popping.  And the popping also causes extreme pain.

So, I finally broke down and told the doctor “Hey, I can touch this spot and it nearly cripples me.”  He did some tests.  I have weakness in my right leg, weakness that isn’t explained by the SI joints or nerves, or the small bulge in the disk, or the disk degeneration process.  And it gets worse when pressure is put on that specific spot.  When he gently pressed where my fingers indicated, I yelped and jumped away from his touch.  He might as well have stabbed me.

I was fitted with a brace.  It’s a nice one.  It feels like the bottom section of a good, strong corset.  I’ve always loved wearing corsets with true spines in them.  They do so much for my posture and as a woman, they do a lot for holding up the jiggly bits and taking the weight off our shoulders, when I wear them, I slump my shoulders less.  This eases the stress on my neck, shoulders, muscles in the front of my chest, muscles around my shoulder blades… It’s just better.  What was I talking about?

Oh yes, the brace… It’s to help the scoliosis.  I did notice my back was a little less stiff after several hours of wearing it.  I wish it was a full torso brace, but that would just be a corset by another name.  But my insurance might pay for it that way.

I also got Tramadol.  I’m not a fan of this narcotic pain reliever.  it doesn’t seem to work well.  However, we have decided to check for bone inflammation.  I do the test Friday.  We want to minimize the pain without minimizing inflammation.  Tramadol is one of the few narcotics not mixed with acetaminophen.  While acetaminophen isn’t awesome about reducing inflammation like NSAIDS or steroids, it does reduce it some.

Then it’s off for nerve testing!

So, tonight, I have some relief and tomorrow I’ll get a little more.

C Patt

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