My Chronic Pain Battle: Fake Sciatica, Tendonitis, Muscle Strain, Whatever
Note: Chronic pain blogs are mostly only interesting to other people with chronic pain. We eat this stuff up. Soooooo, friends, do not feel like you have to sit through this one. Ha! Or feel free to scan and read only the one line paragraphs. I do that a lot too.
My Chronic Pain Battle: Fake Sciatica, Tendonitis, Bursitis, Muscle Strain, Whatever it is!
The first time I developed “sciatica”, whether it ever actually was sciatica or not, I have no idea…..I was pregnant with my very first baby. “It’ll go away once you have the baby,” they said. It hurt exactly the way it does now: across my lower back, down one side of my rear, down my leg, all the way to my foot.
Horrifying stuff, always at its worst when you’re lying in bed.
I couldn’t wait to go into labor. I knew they were handing out free epidurals (with insurance) there. That’s right. I didn’t see any trophies for delivering babies without an epidural, so I was sure to sign up. I’d give anything to finally not feel my hip.
But the joke was on me. The epidural didn’t work properly. I ended up with dead legs, but my uterus was not so much….I got to experience the pain of natural childbirth after all. Only, my legs were dead, so I couldn’t even move around to cope with it.
16 hours, and a great deal of vomiting and shaking later, and they finally ripped Joshua out of my pelvis with one of those baby vacuums.
The good news is that the ob/gyn folks were right about the pregnancy sciatica. It went away the day I gave birth.
Phew! I approached the next pregnancy, only one year later, with great fear and trepidation. Please don’t let it come back. Please oh please. That sciatica stuff was terrifying.
And it didn’t!
And then wonder of wonders, my epidural WORKED! This baby was stuck in my pelvis too, though. It took me 12 weeks to recover from that one, but still no sciatica. Yay!
Then two years after Caleb was born, out of the clear friggin blue sky, it did come back. Only this time I wasn’t pregnant. It was sudden, and I think it was brought on from this incident where Joshua jumped on my back. However, as I looked back at my records, I noticed that I reported it to the doctor as “gradual onset.” Who knows. My memory isn’t so hot anymore.
I just woke up one day and could not put a lick of weight on my left leg. It just buckled! This was different. With the pregnancy sciatica, it hurt to walk, but at least I could do it. I called my mom, she drove me to my doctor’s office while the boys went to preschool.
I took every shot they offered me, I did a little physical therapy, they ran blood work and an MRI, but no one really knew what was wrong. My chart said “tenosynovitis.”
My physical therapist said that I should not have any more children.
I wasn’t too worried. I was 28. I’d get better. Four months later, it was nothing more than a mild pinch that occasionally came and went. I was eventually able to even walk normally.
I decided to have another baby. I gained a whopping 55 pounds, but still there was no sciatica. I was good.
I’m not sure when exactly, but somewhere between Daniel’s birth and Alan’s return from Afghanistan, the occasional pinch grew. It appeared more often and stayed longer.
Then there was another big event. I’ve noticed people in the chronic pain community call this a “flare up”. I use that phrase with reluctance, as no one has ever, as yet, been able to figure out what exactly is flaring up. Six years later, this now irritates me to no end.
The third major flare up occurred after Alan had just returned from Afghanistan, and the boys and I had just returned to Virginia. But this time my shoulder, back (It felt like my ribcage), and neck decided to join in the fun.
It was like the entire right side of my body and my neck were trying to kill me. And right at that time, my pinky nail went white. Solid white and loose. Was I losing my nail??? Weird!!!! Why?????
I could hardly turn my neck because of the pain between my neck and my shoulder, and worst of all, it hurt to inhale. I had to breathe carefully. Breathe too deeply, and I’d pay for that.
The military clinics were useless. U-s-e-l-e-s-s. The first doctor that I saw handed me a prescription for muscle relaxers, said, “Everyone has back pain,” and sent me on my way.
The second time, because you’ll try even a useless clinic when you can’t inhale all the way, the doctor was a little better. She told me not to take the muscle relaxers, referred me to physical therapy, and took x-rays. She also did this periformis release technique on my rear end, and all of the pain moved a little to the left. That was sort of promising.
She said the neck/ inhaling/ shoulder pain thing was strained muscles.
I tried the physical therapy clinic. They never had any available appointments during the hours that I could get childcare for my two pre-schoolers, so that was a dead end.
I’ll never forget my low point. It was 2012. I put Daniel to bed for a nap, and I put in a movie to keep the kids occupied but safe. There were three little boys at this point, and I laid on my bed, stared at the ceiling, cried, and prayed for help.
Then the doorbell rang.
To be continued……You can’t do this story justice in one post!