First, The Procedure
I was met by a nurse who interviewed me about my current pain medication and pain levels. After a bit of a wait (I'm not complaining), a young doctor I hadn't met before came in. I'd seen him consulting my regular anaesthesiologist moments before. He asked me a lot of questions about the extent of my pain and nerve symptoms, explained the procedure and its risks and then asked me to sign a consent form.
Moments later, a handsome young man -- who Sweetie thought was dressed for a joust given his head to toe x-ray shields -- took me into the room where the procedure would take place. He introduced me to the female X-ray technician and asked me to mount the bed. Yes, "mount." The bed was at a 30 degree angle. I was to aim my hips at one pillow and my head at the other. Now I'm not very athletic at my best... and Grace is not my middle name. So, it is a miracle I made it on there in one try. Then things got weird. I mentioned that the caudal epidural goes into the tailbone. Well, I hadn't thought through how they would get there. You see where I'm going with this? Yes, that's when The Jouster pulled my pants down around my hips. But we've just met!
He also set me up with a blood pressure cuff and the little thingy that monitors your blood oxygen. Then the young doctor came in. They placed a drape, wiped my butt with disinfectant, which I later discovered was that bright pink stuff that is hard to scrub off. Probably the worst pain of the procedure came next, when they gave me a local anaesthetic. I didn't feel much, maybe some pressure, when the doc inserted the catheter through my tailbone. The Jouster kept me informed of each step of the procedure, and reminded me to breathe deeply to relax. I felt more pressure as the doctor injected some contrast dye to mark his location. He continuously asked the X-ray tech for another shot, sometimes asking her to switch the angle of the X-ray machine for a better view. All that to make sure that the drug was released where my frazzled nerves needed it most. Next thing I knew, the steroid was being injected and the catheter removed, neither of which I felt. I was then unhooked and moved to a wheelchair for 20 minutes of monitoring... And a snack, which I appreciated having fasted through lunch.
The first few steps after I left the wheelchair felt a little funny, but I'm always stiff when I get up. Plus, my bum was numb. We stopped to pick The Bean up from our neighbour on the way home and I was able to stand a while to chat. Later in the evening I was drowsy, but that isn't unusual. I couldn't really tell if the epidural was working. I was told it could take a week to get the full effect. I thought I was feeling fewer zings. That was good.
The next day, I felt fine most of the day. In the evening I had some chills. I also got wicked indigestion after eating a chocolate bar. I also felt in a peculiar mood for a short while. By the next morning, it was clear that I was reacting to the steroid as I did during chemo. Thursday, my cheeks were hot and red all day. I was told I looked like I was teething! The chills continued off and on, as did the indigestion. I felt quite low, chemo low, for a couple of hours Thursday and again Friday. For what, I ask you?
This is the problem, the zings haven't completely disappeared. I do think they are fewer and farther between, but they are not gone yet. If I had to decide now, I don't think I would repeat the procedure. But let's give it a few weeks to see what the real improvement is.
It wasn't really pain I was hoping the epidural would relieve. The medication change in early May did that. It was the lingering nerve damage, which left long enough will become permanent. I want to be able to lie down beside my girl at bedtime, I want to brush my teeth, I want to pass the potatoes without feeling a zing up or down my back. That's all I'm asking for. We will see if I get that.