Saturday, November 21, 2009


The alarm on my phone beckoned me to wake from what seemed to be a restful slumber. I shifted my body to sit up. I was immediately immobilized by the pain clenching my lower back. I paused and moved slower this time. Tears began to pool in my eyes as I winced and grimaced and groaned my way off the mattress.

Half-steps down the hallway. White-knuckled grips on the rail down the stairs to retrieve the heating pad. Forced pulls of my weight up the stairs. Clenching my jaw and tensing my legs as I plug in the heating pad and grab my laptop to begin my workday. I settle into the least uncomfortable position I can.

Once I realize that this episode is far worse than the others have been, I down 800 mg of ibuprofen and begin the Google search for NS's muscle relaxers and lactation to see if I can use those, too. Turns out I can, so I take one.

Though I didn't even believe it possible, my condition only deteriorated from there. Not even a slight improvement. I check the Google oracle for safety of Icy Hot and lactation. Something has to provide some relief. I have too much to get done today.

Icy Hot was miraculous as I massaged it into my lower back, but that 30 seconds and then 10 or so minutes after were the extent of any reprieve I'd have until much later in the evening.

By mid-afternoon, the simple task of getting out of the recliner and walking across the living room to let the dog out was too much. I was seized with pain, leaning against the refrigerator to keep from collapsing into a broken heap on the floor, screeching and crying as the sharpness twisted and punctured my spine.

I curled into a semi-fetal position with a pillow under my chest and face. By the time NS arrived home from work, I was ready to succumb and head to the hospital. I had never in my life experienced such awful pain. Every alteration of my body's position struck me with brutal force.

Praying that I just make it to the emergency room safely, I drove as safely as I could, minimizing the need to change lanes or merge into traffic due to my limited torso mobility. I find a parking space near the entrance to the emergency room doors, and I all but crawl through them.

I check in, giving them the briefest informative rundown of the situation - not the first time I've had this particular type of pain, but this time is more intense than ever before, and there's nothing to pinpoint for its cause. I messily collect the urine sample for them. Just as I've finally gotten lowered into the seat of a cushy military hospital waiting room chair, my name is called to come back across the room to sit at the window for the triage nurse. Again with the rundown of the situation, then answering some standard questions of history. Now she sends me to the room just behind the triage station for to recording of my vital signs.

Not since I my last week of pregnancy with the twins, when I had to stay in the hospital to be monitored for several hours, has my blood pressure been elevated like this. No fever, though, and pulse was average. I returned to the waiting area to bide my time.

The sitting was excruciating, nearly unbearable at times. If I could have leapt to rejoice at the sound of my name as I was called back, I would have. And, it only took an hour and a half for that moment to come.

Another round of vitals and team of people to ask why I was there. When asked to describe what kind of pain I was feeling, the best answer I could come up with was the really hurting kind. I mean, it was a dull pain when it wasn't an overwhelming, blinding pain, which was pretty much every time I move more than a millimeter from where I was at any given moment. The only thing I could say with certainty was it wasn't throbbing and the area wasn't tender.

I lost track of time waiting in that bed, writhing around periodically, squelching a desire to exclaim my misery. I couldn't see a clock, I couldn't move enough to stare at any machinery, and so I was stuck focusing on the off-white curtain with hundreds of same tone threaded mini squares. It was drawn just before closing completely. My sliver of a view would only allow me to see the edge of a rolling cart of some sort, likely a defibrillator or crash cart. Every so often, a human shape would pass by my narrow window, but mostly, it was an incredibly boring cream-colored prison cell guarded by a bed rail and chrome-like paperclip-shaped curtain hooks.

The physician's assistant who eventually saw me narrowed the ordeal down to a muscular-skeletal issue, said they could offer me more ibuprofen or a shot of something or other. I told him that given the fact the ibuprofen I'd already taken didn't provide even a second of respite, I'd probably want the shot, provided it was safe for breastfeeding. He went to make sure it was (it was), and when he returned, he told me that they'd send me to get some spinal x-rays just to make sure there isn't anything more serious.

They came to give me the injection. First shot I've ever had to get in my glute, and I sure hope it was the last. Maybe it was the strain of trying to turn just to the side and holding down my pants just enough to allow for the shot, but it was more uncomfortable than I'd expected, especially when I was already in pain. I just assumed my back pain would win out, and a prick on my butt would barely register a blip on the pain radar at this point. Wrong assumption. After the sting and burn wore down, I did feel a bit better, though. Better enough that I volunteered to move to a wheelchair for my x-rays rather than be rolled along in the bed.

The x-rays were uneventful, and when I returned to my 'room', I was resting peacefully for a few minutes before someone came to retake my vitals. The injection of pain relief must have been working better than I even realized as my blood pressure had dropped down to a much more normal reading for me, like 15-20 points on both levels. With the x-rays revealing no fractures or blaring abnormalities, I was discharged with orders to the pharmacy to pick up 600 mg ibuprofen to be taken up to three times per day, vicodin to be taken four times per day, and a muscle relaxer (the same one NS had at home) to be taken four time per day. This is the exact cocktail NS had been prescribed when he'd been there for a back injury a few months ago. Well, except my ibuprofen is not as strong.

I had apparently been at the hospital for four hours at this point, which seemed both short and long. Short because I've been in ERs for 8-12 hours before, which just seemed to be the norm, and long because I didn't really think all the stuff that seemed to be taking hours was actually taking real-life, honest hours.

The pharmacist gave me the information on my drugs and cautioned me to avoid driving after taking them because they'd all make me sleepy. Stupid injection had already worn off. I slowly found my way home, my tummy practically begging to stop for some sort of food...

Just a cheeseburger, please. C'mon. It's on the way home, mom. Puh-leeez! I'm so empty; you barely let me have anything all day long. I may just have to eat myself.

I resisted the pleas of the hungry belly because I just wanted to be home where I could take my pills and apply some ice or heat and try to relax after this awfully unproductive and exhausting day.

Within a minute after hobbling through the door and up the stairs, I began devouring some leftovers from the fridge in hopes of satiating my hunger and preventing ill side effects from the drugs I was about to swallow.

I followed my alternating ice and heat treatment notes, and settled on the couch. Before long, I felt sick. I still don't like vicodin. Shortly after that, I was in and out of consciousness.

And, now, I'm sleepy and nauseous once again. Haven't been able to function on any level of mobility for more than 10 minutes at a time, but I think it's possible I may recover some time in the not so far future, which is the bright side, I guess, though I'm not sure the trip to the emergency room yesterday has facilitated this.

1 comment:

melissa said...

Oh no! I hope the drug combo gives you some relief.