Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Next Step: Rinse and REPEAT and Repeat

Life seems to go on, even when you've been blasted with a major dissappointment, or you lose a loved one, or some other random act of unkindness seems to land on you. It's weird, cuz you think, "Man, shouldn't the world stop turning right now? I just had THIS happen to me and I'm expected to keep living, growing, being." It is weird, but as I often say, C'est la vie.

Ok, so here's what's really going on and you're going to have to laugh your butt off, because it's the only way to keep from crying over this shit. As it turns out, I will have to go through a couple months of "diagnostic tests". "Tests" is in quotes, because what they actually are are the marcaine/epidural-type shots that I've been getting over the past three years and which have very little if any effect on me. I think I've told you about those buggers before, but in case I havent, I'll give you a quick refresher course.

My pain is located in my occipital region. That's basically where it stems from. Put your hands behind your head, and you'll feel at the base of your skull two round knobby protrusions. Those are your occipital bones, you've got one on each side. They protect the occipital lobes and a major artery also runs through there, which, if nicked leads to stroke or death. So, you have to be really careful about who you allow to stick long pointy needles back there.

Now, I know what you're thinking, "Why in the hell, if that's where you're hurting and already feeling ice-pick like pain, would you let someone shove a needle in your head?" Well, I'm really not into S & M. It's not a judgment call, it's just not my bag, but this particular form of torture, they promise, will make me feel better, and lessen or completely erase my pain. Uh-huh.

Here's what they do: they fill the needle with marcaine and something else that I can't remember what it is called, we'll call the mixture numbing punch, and the first few times we did this, they even put cortisone in the needle, which was great! The cortisone really did relieve the pain for a longer period of time. I went maybe up to two months without severe pain. But, they can't do that for very long, because it weakens the tendons and dries the ligaments. So, one day, I could be walking along, bump my head on something, let's say someone left the trunk open to the car, and I'm admiring my new Minola Blonoches so much that I'm looking down and walk into it. Smack! Instead of just getting a bump on my head, I actually break my neck. Now, I look like those lovely women from Death Becomes Her. Not the most attractive look for a woman. I'd rather have my boobs pressing up to my hubby's chest when we smooch than my back.

So, now, we've got the punch inserted into the syringe, we need something to deliver it and for this they have the biggest damn needle you've ever seen. Now, when I first started getting this treatment, it was in Texas, and you know what they say about Texas? Everything's bigger there. However, as it turns out, the needle is still bloody now that I'm in Cali. Imagine our surprise. Not. Anyway, I guess you could imagine those needles that you see on TV, where they give someone an ephidrine shot in the chest to revive the heart. Know which one I'm talking about? This needle's like that. You could fill the syringe with bug spray afterward and go spray your garden with it, through this sucker. Yeah, it's that big. So, don't come whining to me the next time you have to get a tetanus shot, cuz I'll call you an amateur. The first time I had some idea of how scared I should be of this sucker, was the first time I got the shot and Hubby's face went from it's usual pinkish-gringo-howlie color to ghostly-gothic-pale white. I thought he was going to pass out. He tried to hide it. Tried to be a manly-man, macho cowboy and act tough, but I could see it and he was squeezing my hand so hard, you'd think he was the one getting the damn shot! I can laugh about it now, just not with him. Think he still has flashbacks and could probably do with a bit of therapy by about now. But, he was a trooper. I told him it was ok, he could go sit in the waiting room. He didn't have to watch. But, he wanted to by my superman, so kudos for him. He did just fine.

Next, they clean the area and clip my hair back, only they haven't had to clip my long, beautiful tresses back over the past year, because I cut it all off and now have a boy-cut. lol Take your fingers and walk them up, from the right occipital bone, just one fingerspace and one going toward the middle. You'll feel a slightly concave area, there, got it? Right about there is where they stick the needle in for my first shot. There are two points on the left side that I get the shots in, for a grand total of....3 shots. Very good. Cookie Monster and the Count would be so proud. Oh, but that's not all, folks, there's more!

I will get to go through this process for the next five weeks, starting next week. As a bonus, I'll get to go on a two hour car ride to get there, because the surgeon has to do it, and two hours back. Two hours, and not allowed to take any pain killers. Pray for my husband, who will chauffer me to these appointments. He typically has a keen aversion to violence, (except toward the fire ant. There seems to be some discrepancy as to who started that war. He'd say it was them and so on. It's like Israel and Palestine. They may talk a good game, but true, lasting peace is seriously doubtful). However, the next five weeks may either find me in a ditch at the side of the road or facing divorce papers. Bring it on!

So, they insert needle in tab a, b and c and it feels like, oh, how to describe how it feels. Well, by the time I'm there, I'm as desperate as a junkie looking for his next fix, for pain killers already. So, what's a little more pain, right? Anyway, it feels like a lobster's pinching my occipital nerves. That's how it feels. It burns and pinches, but not like someone pinching you with their fingernails. No. It's more ragged than that, more jagged feeling, like two knives or pinking shears closing over it. Yeah, that should give you and idea. And, then, it feels even weirder as it disappears into my scalp, the whole needle. They need to stick it in as far as possible. It's really tricky and takes a steady pair of hands, I guess, to miss the artery, becuase it's in the middle of a tangle of nerves and veins and you dont' want to nick any of that, or you could end up with a real mess on your hands. Personally, I hope one of these days, they miss and I get to float off to la-la land. Of course, with my bad luck, I'd end up only partially paralyzed with a stroke that makes me drool when I talk, rather than dead. So, maybe I really don't wish that and therefore am careful about who touches my head.

The weird thing is that it does numb the area. It feels as you'd expect, just like your mouth does when the doc numbs you up with the novacaine/marcaine injection, before laying into your teeth with his drill. I love it. It takes the edge of f the pain. At first, like I said, it took the edge off and even diminished the pain for up to two months. Then, it went down to three weeks. Still worth the tortuous trip to go get the damn things. But, once the results decreased to only taking the edge off for a week, and diminishing the pain for just a day, well, it just isn't worth the effort or pain to get it done anymore.

Yet, that's what I'm going to have done. Why? Because our insurance won't authorize the nerve block without THIS particular doctor doing the marcaine shots, first, and they call them "diagnostic tests". Bullshit! They're just stalling, putting off the inevitable.

Now, the doc's office will say that they can't do the surgery without knowing the results of the marcaine shots. I can believe that. However, in my case, they would've forgone the shots, since I've been through that for three years, so let's bring on the healing, eh? Yeah, right. Afterward, I lay on the couch with icepacks on my head for three days, waiting for the swelling and ache to subside.

I read the comments, y'all were worried that I'd lost my fighting spirit. Well, I haven't. Never fear. I just was in a deep funk, because of something completely unrelated, and as I predicted, it passed. However, I was really irritated after the Non-event. But, that too has passed and though I'm resigned to my lot of complying with whatever assinine ideas the insurance agency comes up with to forestall my progressing toward the ultimate surgery and relief, (the one with the stim unit). I could be difficult, and have been on the phone with them and the doc's office the past two weeks trying to straighten all this shit out, but it's gotten me nowhere. I still have to do the "tests" first. My question is, why doesn't my Doctor have the final word in all of this? How come my insurance company can tell him what to do for and to me? It's a scary place to be in, when you've got a bean counter telling a scientist how to do his job. What a strange world, eh? So, I'm bitterly resigned to my lot in life, now. If I ever get to the point where I can have the stim surgery done, then I'll be happy. But, if I don't, at least, I won't be surprised about it.

Hubby says I'm getting more bitter lately. I said something the other day, can't remember exactly what, but, I think someone was stating a particularly rosey view on love and life and I made some caustic remark. His eyebrows shot up about five inches off his head as he looked at me and said, "Man are you bitter!" lol Poor guy. I'm sure he didn't realize exactly what he was signing on for, but that's what happens when you don't read the small print. (I'm sure his eyebrows would probably go up at that remark, too. hee-hee)


At 10:40 AM, Blogger Colin said...

Sorry I haven't been checking in more often. And really sorry to hear about the insurance SNAFU. (which stands for Situation Normal, All F****ed Up, in case you didn't know). And that is what this is. Insurance companies have a huge impact on the practice of medicine.

I'm sure you know this, but I'm told that sometimes you can have your insurance company appoint a case manager for you. That person becomes in a sense your advocate. Gets to know your case and works with you to get the things you need covered. At least that's the theory, and I'm told that it works. I'm a bit too cynical to accept that at face value, but it might be worth trying.

In the meantime, all I can offer is my sympathy. Hang in there.

At 6:51 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

Thanks Colin,

I didn't know that about the CM. I think I'll give a ring tomorrow and see if I can't get something like that. Like you, I'm pretty cynical, too, so I have my doubts, but I'd be a fool not to at least give it a shot, right? And, yeah, SNAFU is right. lol Ah, a military man. How I love a man in uniform. *wink*



At 6:27 PM, Blogger Angel said...

Oh ((((Jessica)))) I'm in tears just reading this. They've talked about trying those shots for me at some point. I just can't imagine how frustrating this is for you!

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