Yesterday I went back to the pain specialist, all geared up and ready for the results of my bone scan.
I won’t lie, i was nervous. Not that there might be something wrong, but that there might be nothing wrong! It is a horrible feeling to know that horrible life-sapping pain can exist for no obvious cause, and that sort of pain is harder to treat.
I might have saved my fears, however, because the results weren’t there! It seems the hospital sent them to the specialist’s public surgery, not his private one. I am now hoping for results next week. Hey-ho.
But the most likely thing is that we’ll find a bit of inflammation around the lower right thoracic facet joint. I’ve had that injury since childhood and my guess is that my age is catching up with it. If that is it, perhaps I can have steroid injections into the joint. I’ve heard various things about the success of this treatment but the specialist said that maybe we could get a 20-30% decrease in pain if we’re lucky – any decrease is good to me! It’s just a shame that this part of the spine is an absolute ratbag to fix: the injury is in exactly the wrong spot. It’s a very hard area to get mobilised and it impacts on the rest of the spine which causes all sorts of pain in all sorts of places.
(I don’t really feel up to discussing how the injury actually happened yet. I was only a child, as I mentioned, and I really didn’t understand a lot of what was going on. It was a bit traumatic and that fear and anxiety is still with me in some form: I get a bit upset thinking about it.)
The kindly specialist has allowed me to double my painkillers, now that we’ve established that I’m not getting any side effects apart from a bit of a dry mouth. NOW they seem to be helping a little. The pain is still there, and the nerve pain is unaffected, but just in this small amount of time I’m pretty sure I can feel a reduction in the pain in my back – and therefore, a bit less stress.
And since stress = pain, this is a good thing.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are now reading the blog of a Lady of Leisure (well, I will be after next week).
Lady of Leisure
I am taking an extended period of time off work. From the start of October until the end of the year, in fact. After that time I will reassess my health and decide whether I need extra time.
This was not a light decision, because I love my work and really enjoy feeling useful. But I wasn’t coping with it: I’d spend three days at work with the pain mounting to monster levels, then spend the next four days recovering from it. By Sunday evening I’d know that I was about to dive back into the Ocean of Agony, and I’d start getting anxious and fearful. Then the whole process would begin again.
I need a break.
And the HR Manager at work agreed. She had been worried about me, she said. I’ve been managing my workload okay, but drifting around the building with a white, pinched face and obviously not well.
So next week I am doing three half-days, then off for a while. At half pay.
And I’m lucky to have that half pay. I have had so much bad luck lately (a minor operation that went wrong leading to an extended period off work, followed by a nasty broken leg that took ages to heal, followed by a flare-up of this weird, rare nerve condition that I have), that I have been using up all of my sick leave as soon as I get it, and all of my annual and long service leave too.
This stint away from work will cost me the last of my leave. If this doesn’t do the trick, I’ll have to ask for leave without pay.
As it is, we’ll be feeling the financial pressure. We are not by any means poor, we are lucky that we can afford for me to do this at all. But the pressure will be on, and I’ll be spending the next three months carefully counting pennies and doing the Frugal Lifestyle thing.
As for my activities for the rest of the year, I will have to be careful. The plan is to keep myself fit and healthy as much as I am able, as well as keeping my mind happy and engaged. But I can’t risk overdoing things! It will be a learning curve, I suspect.
Do too little and I will get bored and depressed which will cause nasty pain. Do too much and I will get tired and overdo things which will cause nasty pain.
I plan to start with several household tasks that have needed doing for, ooh, a century or two. Also do lots of walking in the sun with Darling Dog, hit the pool *, and keep up the yoga.
I also plan to do a bit of socialising, although not too much because sadly, that is a risky activity in terms of fatigue and pain.
And finally I would like to do more writing and catch up with my reading, although not too much.
Not too much. **
It will be a balancing act: one of those circus ones that involve eighteen spinning plates, a giant ball and several small children.
I suppose time will tell.
* As soon as the school holidays are over, because nothing is worse than trying to get in some healthy exercise in a pool that is heaving with over-excited kids, each and every one busily incubating gastric viruses.
** This is actually exactly what I look like right now. And I am definitely not disheveled with lank hair, propped up on the sofa with cushions and hot water bottles, and writing away wearing minging old yoga pants, a cardigan covered in stains, and ancient slippers – no matter who tells you otherwise.