I wrote yesterday about waiting to receive a CT guided epidural spinal injection to treat the constant lower lumbar and sciatic pain I have been suffering due to further degeneration of the disks on my spine.
I am sincerely touched and thankful for every message of support and encouragement that I have received since publishing that post.
In the light of the fact that there are some good medical sites available but relatively few “this is what it was like for me” posts to be found, this post is intended to address that imbalance.
When I got to the treatment room, I was provided a hospital gown and asked to change. I was able to leave my underwear on, so I wasn’t completely exposed.
I was then invited to lie face down/on my stomach on the Ct scanner table. The nurse and radiologist helped me to get as comfortable as I could, reminding me that I wouldn’t be able to move during the scans and injections.
Once I was settled, they did some test scans to give the doctor initial images to work with.
When the doctor came in and introductions were done, he proceeded to wash my lower back with iodine and prepare the injection site.
That was all completely fine until we got to the initial local anaesthetics. Knowing I couldn’t move, I gritted my teeth and made some indiscriminate grungy noises that communicated more than “ouch”.
Then came the insertion, at a precise location in my lower back, of the needle and cannula for the delivery of the rest of the injections.
“Just a scratch now,” said the doctor.
In response, I laid very still but made more ugly noises.
“How is that?” he asked me.
Showing significant restraint, I responded with “I’m not sure what scratches you, but it’s very different than anything that usually scratches me.”
He didn’t say anything, but the nurse and radiologist laughed at that, which I found rather satisfying: I may be lying prone and vulnerable while a very clever person with a tendency toward understatement sticks sharp, pointy things into my spine, but I’m still hilarious.
The radiologist scanned my back again to make sure the needle and cannula were in the right place, and the doctor proceeded to administer the prescribed anaesthetic and steroids.
In the course of the procedure, counting anaesthetics and steroids, the doctor made multiple injections .
It wasn’t unbearable but it definitely wasn’t painless. I wouldn’t have wanted it to happen without the local anaesthetics, but I could still feel the injections.
After the procedure, I had to lie down with my upper body elevated for about 90 minutes before being declared able to go home.
The advice given to me before being allowed to leave was as follows:
- Do not lie flat for 12 hours as nobody wants the anaesthetic heading north instead of south, which could cause significant complications.
- When the local anaesthetics wear off, I would probably not feel both my original pain and some pain around the injection site. .
- The injection usually takes 2-3 days to start taking effect. Full effect is generally reached after 10 days to 2weeks.
- Rest for a couple of days to give things the best chance of healing.
- The injection deals with the symptoms, not the actual degeneration in my back. I will still have the same limitations as before, but hopefully with a lot less pain.
I came home feeling quite tender and a bit jelly-legs, which I am told is normal.
I spent the afternoon and evening in my recliner with my feet up, changing the angle of the chair every now and then. I made sure I drank plenty of water, and that I got up regularly for necessary short walks.
I have experienced an increase in my fibromyalgia pain — which is a different kind of pain altogether from my back and sciatic pain, so it is easily distinguishable. Such pain flares are totally standard whenever my body experience stress or trauma. It’s fair to say that’s not helpful in the sleep department m, either.
Twelve hours later, the injection site is fairly painful , so lying on my back and trying to sleep isn’t much of an option right now. Some bruising is coming out, but I haven’t had any bleeding from the injection site. There is no significant swelling, redness or heat in the area, so I am assuming this is just par for the course and not anything I need to follow up.
It was a great relief to get into bed and lie down, albeit with an extra pillow, but even with my usual pain medication, sleep seems unlikely at this point. Not only am I a rubbish sleeper at the best of times, I have to lie on my back to sleep — I can’t ever sleep on my side or stomach because it’s just too uncomfortable for my back. So, 2.43am seemed like an opportune time to write an update post.
I am really hoping that I do see some improvement over the next couple of days, and that some consistent relief from pain is imminent,
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