Thursday, December 17, 2015

Low-Back Up-Date

As my friends and correspondents know, I have been plagued for the best part of the last five-10 years with pretty constant, pretty significant discomfort in my lower back and extremities. Enough that, finally I undertook to seek some relief. So, after the diagnostic preliminaries--x-rays, MRIs, ultra-sounds, etc--I presented myself at the Spine and Pain Clinic for treatment.

The discomfort has been considerable, enough to interfere with anything like a "normal" life--I shall not claim my infirmity has caused me "pain," as women who've endured childbirth scoff at such claims from/by men; but for duration and duress, I am pretty sure it qualifies as AT LEAST "severe discomfort." I was unable to stand for more than about 10 minutes, or walk for more than about 100 yards without crippling, simultaneous numbness and bone-deep aching in my hips the effected spots would ease my uncomfortableness.

So, on Monday, a pal drove me to the clinic (on Dr's instructions) where the nice people went through the same questionnaire for the third or fourth time, then laid me down (under a machine that in my mind's eye resembled the infamous Harrow, oif Kafka's "Penal Colony"), gave me an epidural, and then proceeded to shoot the interstices between my vertebrae full of a steroid called Kenalog

The resu8lts have been startling.

I do not know whether the effect is "placebo," from the mere attention paid to my aching back, but after yesterday's injections, I found I am able to move the next morning with FAR more ease, and FAR less discomfort, far less stiffness (and with far fewer, and far less voluble grunts and groans) than at any time in the past five years, at least. I could/can sit and stand without theatrical expostulations and/or gyrations.

Since mobility was the main issue, the first day after the treatment, I went to make groceries at the local supermarket (Smiths/Kroger) as a sort of first venture/foray. However, for me, the key situation will be presented the next time I go to Costco, for dog food/treats, whisky, beer, and breakfast treats. Until this week, I had been unable to consider fully traversing the acreage of the local store without planning necessary, recuperative breaks. I now think there's a chance I can navigate the whole place without discomfort! Whether or not I can once again lift a 35-lb bag of kibble will be the acid test. The Smiths store is about a third the size of Costo, whither I must go for prescriptions, whisky and dog food/goodies--though not THIS week.

The results were encouraging. The absence of discomfort in my back was constant, but the hip-thing was still evident--though not immediately, as hitherto. Instead, it began only when I was standing (a long time) in the check-out line AFTER fully 40 minutes on my feet.

I'm delighted!

The magical substance that was introduced into the interstices between my vertebrae on Monday morning, by a machine I had visualized as something akin to Kafka's Harrow, was a formula called Kenalog. My vet sez they use the veterinary analog, "Vetalog," on critters like horses. I don't yet feel frisky, but we'll see...

I do not yet have the faintest inkling of the duration of this relief. I have a follow-up appointment in a month. So far, I am thrilled with the amount of relief I have so far experienced, though I am still wary that the hip-nerve-numbness thing will be less satisfactorily resolved, on current evidence. It is definitely diminished. I was able to stand at the sink and wash about four days of dishes without having to take a break, though not without discomfort entirely...

Sitting and standing are significantly easier, and involve far less oral expostulation, huffing and/or groaning, which is terrific, since those are the two things I do the most of. 

So far, I'd have to pronounce the procedure a limited, but definitely encouraging success.