Nerve Block – Round 2

Here’s the update on the second nerve block. It was a sunny Wednesday afternoon when I visited the bowels of the Vancouver General Hospital….blah blah blah. Fast forward.

So we checked in for my appointment, which they had me squeezed in for at 2pm. We waited patiently, staring at our respective iPhones like typical modern day humans. When that got boring I started making fun of people to make Wendy laugh. It worked. It was like the good old times. You know, before smartphones, when people used to talk to each other in waiting rooms.

Anyways, we were informed that there would be a delay, due to an in-patient emergency (there’s always someone whining, they just happened to be checked-in so they get priority). I wanted to say, “Oh yeah?! My pain is at a 9.5!! How do you like them apples!”. But I didn’t. I let the in-house whiner get their turn before me. Turns out, the delay would be 2 to 2.5 hours! Luckily I managed to get a stretcher and a couple of pillows, which allowed me to find a comfortable waiting position.

Finally, Dr Radu, Dr Pennycooke and Dr Indian Guy (whose name I can’t remember) arrived to update me. Dr Indian Guy informed us that he is the guy they call when things are complicated or unusual. Now, that sounded a little egotistical but he was a pretty good guy, so I let it slide. Seriously, he was really nice. Anyways, he said that the procedure would be relatively easy and I should feel relief within seconds of the anesthetic injection. The steroid injection may take a few days to kick in. So I may feel some discomfort for a couple of days. I was ok with that, signed the consent form and saluted all three (or shook their hands, I can’t recall).

I was rolled into the CT Scan room because it turned out that the x-ray table they were planning on using was not available (because of the whiner) so they opted to use the CT Scan which as it was explained, would work just fine. I was then put on the CT Scan bed and powered into the machine while lying on my stomach. Did I mention that the worse position I could be in pain wise was lying on my stomach. Oh yeah, it sucked. I was lying there for about 10 minutes while the Drs presumably discussed my procedure (or the last Whitecaps games who really knows – although they seemed pretty professional so I’m guessing my procedure) before I almost lost my mind. I began reaching in front of me, hoping to latch onto something so I could pull myself out of the machine. Did I mention the pain was a 10 out of 10. It was ridiculous. I was shaking and broke out into a sweat because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Dr Indian Guy rushed into the room, apologized, consoled me and allowed me to change position for the procedure (I told you he was cool, right). Now that the pain was at an 8, I was waaaaaaay more comfortable (sarcasm) and was ready for the procedure. It didn’t take long for the pain to reach a 10 again, but luckily they were all gloved up with needles in hand.

Dr Indian Guy was right, after the first couple of anesthetic injections, I did get some pain relief. Dropped down to a 5, actually, which made the rest of the procedure go a little more smoothly. It took them about 15 minutes to complete the procedure which involved anesthetic and steroid injections with several visits to the CT Scan monitors to make sure the needles with in the right place. Finally it was done and they wheeled me out.

After they checked to see how well the nerve block had worked, Dr Indian Guy told me that the procedure was unusual because my tumor seems to be growing and pushing through the holes through which the nerves travel. They couldn’t inject the steroid directly into the holes because much of it would have been absorbed by the tumor. So they injected a stronger steroid solution in the immediate areas in the hopes that it would have a similar effect as a “normal” procedure. If the procedure worked I could expect the relief to last from 1 day to a few months. There are too many unknowns. Time will tell.

Wendy and I thanked them all profusely and we got up to go home. Well, funny thing is, my ass muscles were 100% numb. Could not feel them at all. They are a very important muscle for movement and I had no control over them. Needless to say our walk back to the car was kind of awkward, but we finally made it. The feeling returned within a few hours and everything was fine.

Well, it’s been 3 days so far and while I am not 100% pain free, it has been significantly reduced. Things flair up when I do too much (walking, standing, chores around the house – that’s my excuse) so I have to limit that. But compared to before the procedure, I am relatively pain free. For now.

We both remember it’s temporary. But everyday it lasts, is a great day.

Lost in Translation

So we made it to Vancouver General Hospital on time with a severe lack of sleep: me with none (I was in too much pain), Wendy with very little because I kept lamenting all night long. I’m not kidding. It felt like Osama Bin Laden was stabbing me in the ass and leg all night long. Let me re-state that…ALL NIGHT LONG. No breaks. I even doubled up on breakthrough pain meds and they didn’t even touch it. Anyways…

We made it to the hospital, got checked it and I finally got a bed in which I could lay in my sexy hospital gown which we took an unusual amount of time to figure out. Wendy kept saying “stop showing your ass!” and I kept saying “I don’t give a shit. I’m in pain, I don’t care.” To which she would reply “Shhh…don’t swear so loud”. And on it went until I was finally wheeled away to the Radiology unit.

I was attended to by a male nurse who was kind enough to give me more pain meds – which incidentally didn’t do shit. I was then briefed by the Radiologists who would be performing the procedure: Dr. Munk and Dr. Radu. They were accompanied by a male that Wendy and I finally decided was simply just a nerd. No better description for this guy. He simply stood there looking nerdy. He wasn’t even dressed like a Radiologist. I didn’t think that there would be nerds roaming about freely in a hospital. It was cool to see one. It was kind of like seeing a leprechaun. Maybe we’ll get lucky. Anyways, I waited another half an hour before being wheeled into the operating room itself and put to sleep.

I woke up in the recovery room and to my surprise, I was not in pain! Osama Bin A Huge Asshole was gone!! No stabbing pain. My sacrum felt completely normal. I could still feel a slight tingling in my right pelvic bone and down my leg but otherwise I was in no pain. I was super-tired though and the nurse thought I was drowsy from being sedated. I kept trying to tell her that I hadn’t slept at all the night before and I just wanted to sleep. She kept telling me that I wasn’t breathing deeply enough. I wanted to say “Why don’t you go away and let me sleep!!!!” but instead I just fell asleep. Of course, shortly thereafter I would be woken up again and on it went…

I finally got to the point where I had to go to the bathroom. “Excuse me nurse, but could I go pee?” She told me that there was no washroom in the recovery area. “What!?” I told her I really had to go pee so she went and found me a bottle to pee in. Hold on a second. Let’s go back. There isn’t a washroom in the recovery area of the hospital? How stupid is that?? Do everyones bowels and urinary tracts just shut down when they’re in recovery? That has to be re-thought.

Anyways, I resigned myself to peeing in a bottle. The nurse was kind enough to curtain me off in my little corner. So there I sat, on the edge of my bed, trying to pee in a bottle. Did I mention that Wendy was standing beside me talking on her cell phone? I know!! She’s in a hospital, talking on a cell phone. Surely that’s disrupting some medical equipment. It was also disrupting my sense of flow, if you know what I mean. It was bad enough sitting on the edge of my bed in a huge dormitory-like room listening to the hustle and bustle of the staff while I tried to pee in a bottle.

So I did what any normal person would do and told her to get off of her damn phone. Maybe even leave my curtained-off room and let me pee in peace!! She did the next best thing, she turned around and lowered her voice. I sighed (what else could I do), closed my eyes and tried to picture a waterfall. Ahhhh. Then I heard Wendy say to the nurse “I think he fell asleep sitting up.” At which point the flow stopped. I said “I didn’t fall asleep! I was trying to pee!” The nurse took off. I closed my eyes again and focused on the waterfall. Ahhhhh. Then I heard the familiar voice of Dr. Radu, who was now peeking around my curtain. WTF!? I looked at him and said clearly “I’m just trying to use the washroom, can you just give me a minute?” To which he simply nodded and entered my curtained-off space and started talking about the procedure.

Something must have gotten lost in translation. I didn’t quite know what to do so I just kept on peeing, with the bottle (and my youknowwhatimtalkingabout) pointed right at him. About a minute into his explanation he finally looked down and put two and two together. I think I saw the universal facial expressions “Oh Shit!” and “Oh well” because he almost didn’t miss a beat and kept on talking and I just kept on peeing.

He said that they had cryo-somethinged the tumor in my sacrum and filled in the fracture with cement. Essentially rebuilding my sacrum with cement and partially killing the tumour doing the damage. Only partially though. They couldn’t get it all without causing severe nerve damage. They also performed a general nerve block in the area of the nerves that are causing me issues. He left his number in case of an over-night emergency and filled in the discharge papers.

So off we went, almost pain-free, trying to get me to Sushi Avenue in Langley. Had I mentioned that it was 7pm and I hadn’t eaten all day? I was starving.

That’s enough of this tale.

Lastly, let me state that there will be no reply to my darling’s love letter. That will remain “in-house”.