Friday’s Muse on Pain and Psalm 38

Mar 24, 2017 by

I’ve been on quite a journey these past 10 months. Ten months of leg and back pain. I can’t believe it’s come to this. I slipped on an over-turned door mat in Boyd Hall at Auburn University May 6, 2016. A week later, Friday the 13th, I went to a chiropractor who fixed soreness in my upper back, but has done significant damage to my lower back and legs.
 
So much has changed in my world in this difficult time. My “best friend,” has abandoned me. Others have come into my life–church family–to replace others who have wandered away. I can’t say that’s all bad, either. If your best friend can’t stick with you in hard times, then who needs them, right?
 
My parents have helped me weather the storm. My eldest daughter has been a daily support. Church friends like Gerry, Jamie, Gordon, Gary, Harold, Cindy, Kelli, Lisa, Matt, Eric and Laura, and Kim and Ken, they have pulled me closer to God’s love in a way I’ve not ever known. 
 
Yesterday, I was walking my dog, Maycee. A man saw her, smiled and said, “Life sure can be hard. But you look at a creature like that and the love they have toward you, and well, you just know that somehow it’s all going to work out.” 
 
My dog is important, but so is my God. 
 
I’m studying what the Bible says about pain. The past 10 months I’ve encountered a lot of pain, and now I feel called to talk about it. 
 
It’s easy to forget about those who are in pain. In our crazy world, who wants to talk to someone day in and day out who is in pain, right? God does.
Aren’t we all in pain? It may be financial, physical, emotional, mental–it doesn’t matter–it all hurts. And it all affects us in many ways. I feel sorry for my friends who have walked away during this trial. In their pride, they are of the mind that they are stronger than God in healing their own pains.  
 
I pray daily for their relief. I ask you to pray for my own. I shall pray for yours, too. Because you can’t tell me you don’t know what pain is. It may not be the same kind I endure every minute of the day in my legs or back, but I know you’re hurting. We’re human. 
How are you dealing with pain? I found this passage in Psalm 38 recently. Hits the nail on the head–from more than 2,000 years ago. Wow.
Let me share with you Psalm 38:
My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.8 I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. 9 All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes.11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.12 Those who seek my life set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they plot deception. 13 I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear, like a mute, who cannot open his mouth;14 I have become like a man who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply.15 I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God.16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips.” 17 For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me.18 I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.19 Many are those who are my vigorous enemies; those who hate me without reason are numerous.20 Those who repay my good with evil slander me when I pursue what is good. 21 O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.22 Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.
God bless you. May it be a good weekend.
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The St. Jude Medical Spinal Cord Stimulator

Feb 6, 2017 by

There are accounts in the Bible where those suffering from affliction went to Jesus and asked for healing and with a touch, their misery ended.

I know what joy they felt.

Last Wednesday morning, I began a five-day trial using a St. Jude Medical Pain Stimulator to address severe pain in my left and right thighs, and lower lumbar–all sustained after having been physically messed up at the hands of a Mesquite, Texas chiropractor on Friday, May 13, 2016. I have suffered incredible, constant 5-6, 6-7, and even 8-9 pain in the near eight months that have followed.

Tomorrow morning, my doctor is going to end the trial and remove the leads from my back. We will then begin discussions about having such a device permanently implanted in my spinal cavity and the battery pack to run it all implanted in my hip. 

Since having the device in my body, the pain has nearly vanished. There are a few times in each hour when I still feel a little discomfort, mainly in my right thigh, but nothing like not having the device.

I was scared as I could be about this trial. I am no longer. In fact, I dread the result tomorrow once it’s removed because I know I will return to the pain I felt Wednesday morning upon arriving at the surgical center to have it put in.

God has used this time to change me. I am closer to him than I ever have been. For now, I remain on high doses of pain killers, opioids, but at this writing, I can see how life will be with this device permanently implanted in my body. And I long for that to happen.

The device is simple. A cord sits in the epidural space of my spinal column. A lead exits my skin and is connected to the battery pack. With an iPod Touch, I am able to increase or lessen the amount of stimulation. I turn it off when I need to drive. But when it is working, it is like I do not have any physical pain where there has been great trauma the past 3/4s of a year. Pure and simple, it works.

My parents, siblings, children, and even myself have been concerned about whether or not to do this. I have no regrets now, five days into the trial.

They had said there was the likelihood that 50 percent of my pain would be reduced. I think a far higher amount has come to be.

When Jesus healed the afflicted, they rose up and wanted to shout his name to others. I’d begun to believe I would never walk normally again in my life. A psychiatrist who examined me prior to approving the installation said most he interviews are quite depressed by this point. But I have held on, and grown more fervent in my faith. And God has heard my pleas.

If you are at the point where regular injections, rhizotomies and back surgeries have brought you no relief and you’re being offered this option, I highly recommend it. Life is too short, and we were meant for more.

Many thanks to my doctors, the company rep, family, friends, and church members who have supported me during this nightmare. For the first time in a long time, it looks like there is a chance I will get my life back again.

I am like one of those figures in the Bible who has been healed, in part by modern technology, but also by faith. My God is Great. I seldom reduce him to only being “good.”

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Rhizotomy, Meralgia Paraestheticas–Back and leg pain

Dec 1, 2016 by

Rhizotomy, Meralgia Paraestheticas–Back and leg pain

Now there are some who would say I should not divulge details about health issues I have endured. Privacy. HIPAA and all that. Employers or clients scouring to see what kind of a health risk I might be. But I take a different view. There are lessons to be learned from what I have been enduring the past six months and 24 days now and sharing them is helping others.

Today, Nov. 30, 2016, I had a rhizotomy (pronounced “Rye-zotomee”) performed on nerves in my lower right lumbar facet nerves. Essentially my pain doctor went in and cauterized the nerve endings that have been telling my brain I’m in significant pain following a chiropractic treatment in Mesquite, Texas on May 6 by a man who didn’t have a license issued to him until 14 days after he first treated me. (More about that in days to come.)

As of 11 p.m. the pain in my right leg, my doc did my right side today and in two weeks will do my left, the pain is greatly reduced.

I have chosen to share about the rhizotomy treatment because I basically found almost nothing about it online beforehand.

Before this, a month ago today, my doctor did a very painful procedure where I remained awake and he put a probe into my hip trying to find my Lateral Femoral Cutaneous Nerve, LFCN for short, and put pain killer in the nerves in both sides of my hip. A warning about this. When we got home that morning I took five steps from Dad’s car and my legs gave out from underneath me and I fell square on my bottom. The discharge information says to have someone assist you while walking, but they didn’t do enough to emphasize you won’t be able to walk the rest of the day. I fell twice that day. It was thought that I might have meralgia paraestheticas up until I didn’t respond well to the injections that day, and following a less than pleasant EMG the next week, where a neurologist stuck fine needles into my thighs and then ran electrical current through them.

Two weeks after the LFCN injections, we did nerve blocks on the nerves that got cauterized today. The relief was about 10-12 hours and then BAM! I hurt again.

The rhizotomy, so far, has seemed to help significantly. Like I said, in two weeks we do it all again, this time my doctor is going to address nerves on the left side of my lumbar facets.

My nurses said it was going to feel like a sunburn burn in the muscles of my back. I don’t exactly have that yet. I have been icing on and off throughout the day. My doctor said I could take ibuprofen tomorrow. Not today though. He said the discomfort, (doctors don’t say the word “Pain,” they say discomfort) would feel like I’d been doing yard work and I had a sore back. I suppose tomorrow will tell me more about that.

The procedure took about 45 minutes today. There’s a doc in the room making sure the doc frying my nerves doesn’t hit a motor nerve, just the sensory nerves that are supposedly causing the pain.

So far, since May 6, 2016, I have had a three-level laminectomy of my S1/L5, L5/L4, and L4/L3 vertebrae, had a ventral hernia repaired, had the LFCN injections, an EMG, had the lower lumbar facet nerve blocks, and then today’s rhizotomy. I’ve also had two MRIs, a CT scan, and a wonderful experience where I drank nuclear stuff while standing in front of a real-time x-ray machine. That and I’m still in pain. The hernia needed repair beforehand, but my spine doctor worried about doing more surgery on my back before having it fixed.

I have had six doctors work on me in this time period and I have had five treatment plans, including physical therapy. There have been times of late when I’ve been in so much pain I wanted to go to the ER, but chose not to because then I would have had a seventh doctor and six treatment plans.

Over the past six months I’ve had a range of meds, most of them did not work. First was hydrocodone, then the strength got increased. Flexeril, but I was taken off of it because I have nerve pain, Flexeril is a muscle relaxer. I’ve been on Lyrica. It did nothing. I’ve been on Cymbalta. Nothing. I’ve been on more hydrocodone, the 10/325 kind. Nothing. The EMG doctor put me on Tegretol. It made me tired and gave me bad headaches. I came off of that, too. Regrettably the only thing that has actually worked to reduce pain has been Fentanyl patches and Percocet. Both opioids. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine. Even with them, I’ve still been in pain. My “give a damn,” has just been reduced about the pain.

Tonight, my right leg feels much better than it has in months. It didn’t even start hurting until the day after my back surgery on Aug. 11. Up until then, my left leg had been the only one in pain. After surgery, that stopped for a while, then I had, and have kept the pain, in both legs.

I’m hoping and praying the rhizotomies work. If not, the next action is for them to install a wire along my spinal cord and attach it to a device that keeps pain signals from getting to my brain. Not really a solution, meaning what ever is causing the pain, can’t seem to be stopped.

My doctor says the rhizotomy could last from six months to six years. Internet sites say two months to 24 months. It will be frustrating to see which is more accurate.

There’s not a lot of information about having a rhizotomy on one’s lower back on the Net. If you’re needing one or about to have one, I hope this helps. I received another comment today from someone who found my post about ventral hernias helpful. I hope this is the same.

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