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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nerve Block, Part II

I went back to the pain clinic today and received the next nerve block. My previous one has worked fairly well, and it's been a lot nicer to live without the pain. I still get it, shooting pains, stabbing pains, whatever you want to call them. They feel like someone is pushing a pin into you, or you're standing on an ant hill, and the little buggers mad about it. You can't not jerk from the pain. It's sudden, but then it goes away, usually fairly quickly too, which is good. (Here is a page I look at all the time, to see what is going on in my foot.)

The nerve block I got today was a Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation. It was actually kind of funny (to me anyhow). Those squeamish about needles, skip this paragraph. The Dr. was kind and first injected me with a little bit of anesthetic. I was sitting on the bed with my left foot (the bad one) laying on the bed, with the inside of my ankle facing up. The nerve I am having trouble with branches off just beside that little ankle bone bump everyone has. You know, the bone that always gets cut on the chain of your bicycle when you're a kid. So I'm in fairly close watching distance. Needles do not bother me. In fact, I am quite interested to watch and see how everything is done. I think people who are scared of needles don't realize how shallow most of them go in you. This nerve branch is surprisingly close to the surface. Anyhoo, so then the nerve block starts. As far as I know, another needle of sorts is pushed in, and that is connected to the radio machine thingy by wires. Boy, this Dr. was accurate! I was watching him inject this second needle, and almost instantly he hit the nerve branch. It was like a tingling, spreading through my foot. It felt like I could feel every little branch come alive, and the tingling just radiated from my ankle to my toes. It was uncomfortable, but interesting, amusing. He then turned on the machine, and my whole body began pulsing, from my foot, to my leg, which was then just shaking my whole body! It was so funny! I'm sitting on the bed, looking like I am on some sort of amusement park ride! I was laughing my head off. I have no idea how the needle stayed in. I was really moving.

It was such a weird sensation, pulsing through my nerves. And then my foot started to go numb, as the pulsing calmed down. I was physically trying to hold my leg on the table, but it didn't work in the slightest, I was bouncing around like crazy. It reminds me of those things that used to be on those infomercials: Dr. Ho's something-or-others. These pads that you place on muscles, and it causes them to contract involuntarily. I remember a friend had them, and we used to put them on our arms, and our hands would turn into claws, and go all creepy. We thought it was hilarious. They also used to put those things on me when I had my slipped discs in my back, but they didn't work quite so hilariously.

But, my foot stayed relatively numb, like it was asleep, for probably a good hour or so. I had a bunch of errands to run, so I'm not really sure. I'm a bit sore now, and a little bit swollen too, from the injection site, but for the most part, so far so good. Any numbness is a welcome trade-off if it means I can get back to a normal life again. The Dr. recommended I keep on my meds for another 6 months at least, when I will see him again. But I am allowed to cut back as much as I can, which I am SO looking forward to.

The side effects are not so great. As well as most of the listed side effects, I think I now realize what it's like to have attention deficit disorder or something. I have such a problem focusing, remembering, learning for that matter. Even when I focus on staying focused, I somehow can't keep it up for long. It's so weird. I really try hard to focus, but I can't. It's like my eyes start wandering without my brain noticing. I am still working, but I really have to concentrate, and double check my work meticulously. So far so good on that front too, though. I can usually pull it all together, and at least I know what I am doing. I think if I had to retrain for a job, it might be another story.

Now, a good 14 hours on from the nerve block, I can feel some pain, but it's not too bad. More of a burning, and a rippling feeling. My toenail is getting better too, since the first nerve block. That seems to confirm that the nerve damage, or the original injury, has changed the physiology in my foot. I'm not entirely sure I understand how that can happen, but I'll have a look online. That's what the Dr's say. I'm still having trouble wearing shoes because of it, but at the same time the Dr. said I need to be especially careful since my nerves have been dulled, and I could easily do more damage because I don't feel the pain immediately.

And I have noticed that. I've been walking around, and suddenly realize I'm standing on some random item that fell on the floor, or like a pebble or something, and all of the sudden the pain hits, but by then it's too late, so it sticks around for a while. I'm so protective of my foot too. You should see me dance around when there are people who need to get by me, or when someone steps over you to say get to their seat in a movie theatre. I have a fear of a stranger accidentally causing me immense pain, and I won't be able to hide that fact. It would make them feel far worse than they need to, and I would feel like I am some sort of drama queen!

Phew, enough foot talk....Back to the ankle (heehee). I'll be quick. Still on a no-exercise regime because of the tissue in my heel/ankle. I talked to my physio last time, and she better explained what is happening, but I'm still not fully clear. But basically, since I haven't had complete range of motion in my foot since Jan 15, the tissue behind the tendon at the back of my ankle, above my heel is pinching, and therefore very inflamed. Supposedly this gets worse the longer you ignore it, and hence the no exercise regime. This needs to clear up before I can get back to jumping rope. It's actually quite painful too; sometimes I wake up at night from it. But it's nothing in comparison to nerve damage.

It's just so frustrating to hit so many road blocks. Everyone I talk to is amazed I am still having this much trouble. I am too. But, on the bright side, I am still allowed to stretch and do my knee-to-wall exercises. And I am getting a fairly consistent 7-9 cms, which is so good! I have about 8 cm to go, to be the same as my good leg. But even where things are now I am able to walk pretty normally down stairs, and down hills now. I have no limp most of the time too.

I'm in a relatively good place... it could be better (the drugs, the no exercise thing), but at least I am functioning.


Anonymous,  October 6, 2009 at 6:46 AM  

HI Kath! Thanks for the update! I got most of it on the phone call last night but this explains it a bit better! So glad you're getting the medical attention you need...even if it was too long in coming! Even 10 yrs ago they probably didn't know as much about nerve damage as they do now, or have the equipment to work with it. Glad you will be able to cut back on the meds! Love you & miss you! Mom