Let’s talk about nerve pain. Anyone who has experienced it knows it is an absolute bitch. The last operation I had on my back was in January 2016 and although the slow healing was frustrating I was definitely on the right path. Until last summer when odd pains started to attack my back, hips, foot, ankle and leg. At first I was excited that the L5 nerve, that was previously damaged, was firing as part of its recovery.
Then the sensations turned trippy. To have a limb that is numb but hurts when touched is weird as is walking down stairs feeling imaginary water flowing over the top of your foot. Numbness that also feels like scalded skin ripping off and bits of your own foot disappearing is, well, peculiar. Anyway, if you’ve had it yourself you know what I am talking about.
When I realised something was maybe amiss I toddled off to my GP. We all know that doctors love rashes, pus and syndromes and it was the latter label for me. After a few months of tolerating, grinning and not bearing it I asked to try a nerve block. My wish was granted and I had it done last November. Short-term relief and then deja-vu of vicious pains, muscle spasms in back and bum, toes all pointing in different directions and the high/lowlight of peeing my pants in Sainsbury’s. Not intentionally.
In discussions with the surgeon (SJ) and pain consultant (BN) I asked if it was possible that my own bone had grown too much around the bone graft, that was used as scaffold in my sacroiliac fusion operation, and it was pushing onto the nerve; continually annoying it and compressing it. He felt that was quite likely and suggested pulsed radio-frequency treatment* to ‘free’ it. At this point the GP's earlier diagnosis of syndrome became a ‘bone’ issue.
I recently had the treatment. I was trundled to the operating theatre on my bed, rolled onto my side and after agreeing with BN which was my left side; marked with a cross so he’d remember, I clambered onto the op table. If you have ever been awake in an operating theatre it is like party town. There are many people involved in your care and the important job of keeping one alive. While I was lying prone with a pillow under my chest, my bare bum in the air and the anaesthetist trying to coax my veins to appear everyone carried on with normal chat.
“What would you normally be doing?” and, “do you see clients for hypnotherapy?” and, “how many words are in a book?” and, “I’ll need the longer curved one” and then nicest words, “night night.”
As I drifted off to snoozeville* I had a wave of clarity in my thoughts of what is next.
Watch this space… or that one over there...
Here you will find the up and down tales of my back and related problems.
I specialise in pain management and having been a patient I have a deeper insight into the difficulties chronic pain can cause.