Before I go into that though, I feel like I should set this up first. Most of you know about all of my problems over the last 7 months with my neck. Some days are better than others but there has not been a single pain-free day since the beginning of March. My primary doctor sent me to physical therapy three times before FINALLY ordering an MRI, after I reported that yet again the therapy wasn't helping at all. I was starting to have my doubts, but he has been our primary doctor for the last probably 8 years at least and so I thought I could trust him.
My primary doctor said he saw arthritis on the MRI and referred me to a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon looked at the MRI and told me in a very brief appointment that I had two degenerated discs but they did not need surgery; thus he referred me to a pain management center.
Last weekend (the 18th) I was in a LOT of pain. I had weakness and tingling in my right arm through the weekend and into Monday of last week. So like any normal person (with a lot of pressure from my mother-in-law) ;) I called my primary doctor. We wanted him to rule out a blood clot, seeing as how I have a condition that makes me prone to blood clots. So I tell the nurse all my symptoms and she said she would let the doctor know and call me back.
Later that day the receptionist called and told me that the doctor thought all of my symptoms were from my neck BUT (and I started to feel relieved thinking he'd run some more tests) the doctor would like to see me to schedule...wait for it...more physical therapy. MORE THERAPY??? It hasn't worked for 6 months. Why would it mysteriously work NOW? He didn't even address the blood clot issue, even though he knows I have Factor V Leiden and he also knows that I had a blood clot 10 years ago and that I could get another one at any time! Didn't say a thing about it. Mind you, I wasn't really concerned that I had a blood clot but I was very upset that he didn't even address it.
I spent last Tuesday in the ER doped up on Morphine at first (which didn't work AT ALL) then on Dilautin, which finally eased the worst of the pain and allowed me to rest my head against the bed. I took Wednesday and Thursday off work and Kris drove me to work on Friday and yesterday. The pain is much, much better than it was Tuesday-I hope it never gets that bad again. I hadn't cried like that from pain since I was in labor!
That leads us to today. Now yesterday and today the pain has been MUCH better than it had been. As long as I don't move my head, I am not in pain. If I turn my head at all (side to side or up or down) it hurts. But it's been tolerable. My pain management appointment was at 1:30pm. I got there at 1:35 because I went to the wrong building first. I then spent the next hour and a half (not exaggerating) in a freezing cold waiting room. FINALLY at 3pm, the nurse called me back into an actual room, which incidentally was even colder than the waiting room and they had me put a gown on, so I was using my shirt as a blanket of sorts just to try to stay warm. I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. And then, around 3:45, the doctor finally came in.
He was very nice. He did the same stuff everyone else has done. Asked me some questions. Went over what medications I have been on that haven't worked, went over the physical therapy that didn't work, went over what tests have been done. And I can tell from the man's tone that he doesn't like what he is getting ready to tell me.
He said there was NO arthritis in my neck (though my primary said there was). He did agree with the neurosurgeon that there are two discs that are degenerated (but not bulging) between the 5th, 6th and 7th vertebrae. HOWEVER, as he explained to me, because he couldn't reproduce the pain with the things he was trying (i.e. he was holding my head steady and then turning it and it did not create the same pain that comes if I move my head around) he didn't feel comfortable treating me. He said he could give me medicine that 'might' help, but because I am only 30, he did not recommend a lifelong battle against pain with medication. He mentioned injections but said that there are risks involved and because he doesn't know what is wrong with my neck, he doesn't know where to inject anything.
Let me break this down for you. Basically, I need to see a neurologist. I asked him if that was different than a neurosurgeon, because I didn't know. WELL...apparently my primary care physician SHOULD have referred me to a neurologist FIRST and NOT a neurosurgeon because a neurologist DIAGNOSES problems, whereas a neurosurgeon fixes problems that are already diagnosed. A neurologist can apparently do a test called an EMG where they can determine if I have a pinched nerve that is causing the pain (the pain management doctor did not think that my discs were necessarily what was causing my pain). He further explained to me that most everyone has discs that are worn down and many can go their entire life without them causing pain, so he just wasn't sure that my 2 discs were the source of my pain and he basically told me that I haven't even been diagnosed with anything yet! So, the doctor recommended a good neurologist and told me I should get an EMG done.
I finally left the doctor's office at 4:30, three hours after I got there, frustrated and in pain. I will say that I was impressed with this pain management doctor and his nurse. He explained more to me in 20 minutes than any of the other doctors have ever explained to me and I appreciated that. Obviously he is a busy man, since I had to wait over 2 hours to even see him, but he took the time to go over everything and really treated me with respect and seemed genuinely sorry that he could not help me beyond recommending a good neurologist.
I wasn't sure whether to cry or scream or laugh. Because I got out so late, I couldn't even call the neurologist because they were already closed. So the earliest I can call is tomorrow morning and who knows how long I will have to wait to get in. I had to wait over 2 weeks to see the neurosurgeon and over two weeks to get the pain management appointment, and I highly doubt the neurologist will be able to fit me in this week and mostly likely not next either.
Needless to say, after all of that, I have a headache tonight. The one good thing to end my day is that our Sleep Number bed was delivered and set up today and I get to sleep in it tonight! So the saga continues and if you have read all of this...you are my real friends! ;) See I can say that because anyone who didn't read this far wouldn't see it anyway.