Friday, April 26, 2019

My Pain & God's Blessings!

For the past two years I have been having a very painful problem with my neck.

I had X-rays that led to Physical Therapy. The therapists were great young people, but the exercises they had me do were counter productive and my neck pain got worse. They realized it was just aggravating my problem and sent me back to my doctor.

The next step was an MRI and a referral to a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon told me that I have arthritis in the joints of my neck that causes narrowing. That in conjunction with a slight bulge in some disks were causing pain in nerve branches that came move through those narrowed spaces.

It is difficult for me to express how much pain this was causing me.  If I moved my neck, it would snap and I would receive a painful electric shock that would literally make my eyes cross. If I made the wrong move I would be paralyzed with pain that would bring me to my knees. For a year people have been asking me if I have a stiff neck. The truth is, it is not really stiff. It is just that I can move it without significant pain.

So, we tried pain management. In pain management they do an epidural injection into the spinal column in my neck. They do one a month. They said that needing more than three of these in six months is considered a fail. I definitely failed. The first two were minimally effective. The first week or two after the injection I had less pain. After the second injection I felt pretty good right up to the third injection. But after the third injection I got a terrible headache that lasted over a week. And my neck pain was back to its terror inducing normal. (Rats.)

So, back to the neurosurgeon. He tells me about a spinal fusion. I would need a relatively long fusion. The fusion itself will definitely limit your range of motion. There is a 70%-80% chance that it will reduce my pain problem. There is also a 10%-20% chance that it will cause the discs at the top and bottom of the fusion to rupture and cause worse pain. (Yikes!)

I asked about the "Artificial Disc Replacements" (ADR) that I had read about. He said I'm not a candidate for that because I am a "non-young" person with "facet disease" (arthritis in the joints of my neck). The ADR is for younger people who have otherwise healthy bones in their neck. Because the ADR would restore full range of motion in my neck, it would cause more damage to my neck bones. (Who knew?)

"So," I asked, "are there any other options?" "Gabapentin," he replied. "It is a nerve drug." I seized on that idea. I had heard it mentioned in forums. It is pretty common, but gets mixed reviews. It helps some people but other people say it is not effective. I think, "It is worth a try!"

I picked up my prescription that afternoon... 100 mg 3X a day.  I took took two pills that day and got on a schedule to take three each day after that. For the first two days it made me dizzy. But it also started making my electric shocks of pain disappear. By the third day the dizziness was gone and so was the terrible pain. I still had a low grade of pain in my neck - right in my spine when I move turn my head. But the terrible shocks that reached out around my neck and down my shoulder are gone!

As I was setting the table for dinner on the third day I had a sudden realization that I had briefly forgotten all about my neck for a few moments. That was the first time in a long time that I had no thought of my neck while I went about daily tasks.

Well, am I thankful?  You better believe I am thankful!!  I am thankful for the people who invented this drug (originally an anti-seizure drug). I am thankful to my neurosurgeon for suggesting it and prescribing it.

ABOVE ALL, I am thankful to God who is OVER ALL!  I am thankful that God has ordered these events in my life to accomplish is purposes for me. I am thankful that in his mercy he has given me relief from the severe pain that has been troubling me for so long. Every time I move and do not have pain, I praise God. What a deliverance.

I am fully aware that the effects of this drug will not be fully realized for at least a week. I also know that mediations like this don't necessarily continue to be effective as our bodies adjust to them. My pain could come back. But even so, I am grateful for the relief I have today.  Thank you, Lord!

2 comments:

Bobbi said...

It is super funny that your doctor told you that you're Non-young...hahaha!

Praising the Lord with you!!!!

Pastor D said...

Yes, it was funny. I laughed then and told him he was free to say I am old. :-)