Hanging on

urlToday I got the results of my MRI back scan.

There are lots of words ending in -lysis, -osis, -ative, etc. I can quote chapter and verse if anyone’s interested. But the upshot is that my biggest, lowest, lumbar vertebra, L5, has slid backwards by 6mm and is now compressing my spinal column and starting to impinge on the nerve roots that make my legs work. The canal for the spinal cord should be anywhere from 27 – 15mm wide at this point, depending on the size of the individual. Mine is less than 10mm. Action is required, rapidly.

We have gone straight past conservative treatments such as exercises and physiotherapy, and have arrived directly at two nerve block injections into my spinal column, one on either side. The day after tomorrow.

The hope is that the cocktail of local anaesthetic and steroids will reduce the inflammation of the bulging disk, which is the worst culprit in this sorry tale. I get three goes with the steroids if they help. After that, we’re on to surgery.

Is there anyone out there who can tell me this is all going to be OK? Who’s maybe had something similar, and it was a breeze, and I shouldn’t worry? Who can tell me it won’t hurt like hell, and there’s no need to shake like a leaf at the whole idea? I just can’t get past the idea of two CT scan-guided needles shoving stuff into my spine. I’m terrified something may go wrong.

I didn’t have time to make anything pretty today to show you. I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better tomorrow, when hopefully some of the worst of the fear has receded.

So, maybe, if you have some spare time, can you cross fingers and send up positive thoughts at 10am this Thursday, Australian EST?


91 thoughts on “Hanging on

  1. Oh man, will be sending you lots of positive thoughts.

  2. norma says:

    Ok, I’m crossing my fingers. Take care

  3. Anlina says:

    Holy molé! I hope I put that accent on the wrong letter to distract you! None of that sounds fun at all but I’m going the positive thoughts option of ‘it will be over and done with by midday’ and it HAS to help – right?! Whenever I go to the dentist I remind my anxious self that it will be over with in an hour. Thinking of you, sorry I don’t know anyone who has had that procedure but it is worth a shot if you dodge surgery xo

    • katechiconi says:

      How well you know me! And those were my thoughts. Surgery was also offered, but I thought we’d better start with something a bit less drastic…. xx

      • Anlina says:

        I would have done the same for sure. Currently trying Salt therapy for my sinus, better than surgery! All the best!

  4. Clare says:

    Hoping for a very speedy and painless recovery! Keep us updated.

  5. claire93 says:

    whether big needles hurt or not, you’ve got to give it a try. Cocktails of steroids are almost sure to do the trick (says she, already crossing fingers in preparation for Thursday).

    • katechiconi says:

      I thought so too, and while I know from experience that steroids are no fun going in or for a day or so after, if they do the trick life will be so much nicer. xxx

  6. Dawn says:

    Sending an e-hug….. a gentle one!

  7. craftycreeky says:

    Hi, I work in an angio department where we do these injections under x-ray control. They put local anaesthetic in the skin, which stings, some docs also give sedation so you don’t remember much, but it also means you may be drowsy for the day! Depending on where the injection is going exactly (there are several different types) sometimes they know they are in the right spot because you get the same pain. I think my overall impression from patients reactions is there are much nicer ways to spend half an hour, but it’s cope-able with, you also know pretty quickly whether or not it’s working for you. If I was waiting to have it done, I wouldn’t be looking forward to it, but I wouldn’t be stressing about it either, it will probably be less painful than the pain you get now and it will hopefully relieve it. Good luck x

    • katechiconi says:

      I don’t think I’ll be lucky enough to get sedation, but I have some nice Valium at home, and I know from experience I get steriod flare, so I’ll be going in with plenty of analgesia already on board. With luck, I’ll be so zonked I won’t give a damn… This is going in under CT-guidance so there’ll be an hour of uncomfortable lying very still on my tummy, but if it results in a reduction of the pain and pins and needles, I’ll be happy.

  8. My best thoughts are always with you. And fear IS real, and it’s okay to acknowledge it. Just don’t give it a beer, a comfy chair, and make it feel welcome. Tell fear you see it, you feel it, you know it’s there. But it will just have to wait outside in uncomfortable weather until you’re ready to talk to it, the day after NEVER.


  9. Jen says:

    Will be thinking of you – hoping it goes well and does what it’s meant to xxx

    • katechiconi says:

      Thank you, my lovely. One needle was bad enough, but two is just rude. But if it means I can walk and stand for more than 5 mins at a time, and put my underwear on without contortions, it’s got to be good… right?

  10. tialys says:

    Kate, I have no experience of this but have had a couple of exploratory procedures which weren’t much in themselves but, beforehand, I couldn’t help but focus on the things that could go wrong. My mother always says I have too much imagination and, in situations like this at least, it doesn’t serve me well. It’s only natural to be fearful but you have had your fair share of that already haven’t you? I wish we could all be there to rally round and support you ‘in real life’ but I hope you know that we are sending it through cyber space and wish for the best possible outcome with the least possible discomfort.
    p.s. Why can’t they just knock you out for the injections?

    • katechiconi says:

      I love the idea of being knocked out, but suspect they need me to be able to move and co-operative… It isn’t the pain I fear, but the conjunction of the words ‘needles’ and ‘spinal column’. One small slip… Well, you get the idea. But it would be nice to pick things up off the floor again, and put on my undies without pain…

  11. dayphoto says:

    I am here for you! Prayers and long-distance hugs!


  12. Oh my dear. Amazing you’ve been doing all you do day after day. And riding a motorcycle too!

    My husband was in a car accident years ago and ended up with a broken neck. The surgery brought him huge relief. Then about three years ago his back had gradually gotten so painful that he sold much of our farm equipment, gave up our lease on the hay fields, and was afraid he’d be in pain the rest of his life. His MRI, too, gave him a diagnosis with lots of of words ending in -lysis, -osis, -ative. He ended up having surgery again and it made all the difference in the world. He went from pain so bad that lifting his foot to step up a curb was a feat to being fully functional and pain free (unless he overdoes it). His recommendation is to let no one do spinal surgery on you unless it’s a neurosurgeon —- never an orthopedic doc or general surgeon.

    There are also things you can do to fight inflammation. You’re probably aware of these, just typing a handy reminder. Sugars and simple carbs (like our friends the gluten-free flours) increase inflammation. Rapid surges in blood sugar boost inflammation, so even eating healthy foods can be approached carefully. For example, the sugars of fruit can be buffered by eating fruit along with a protein.Other ways to reduce inflammation include getting plenty of vitamin D, consuming probiotic foods, avoiding foods that give you any symptoms at all of food intolerance (I get a pulse increase from eating corn!), avoiding statins, and including lots of omega-3 foods in the diet. I have lots of good sources for these approaches if any are new to you.

    Sending you bright healing light my friend.

    • katechiconi says:

      I was offered surgery as an alternative to the spinal blocks, but decided on the low tech approach first to delay the inevitable. One day, it’ll be time, but hopefully a while off… And yes, I’m trying to be anti-inflammatory for many other reasons too. And of course, getting enough Vitamin D is not much of a problem in Australia 🙂
      I’ll be directing some of that bright light to the hands of the CT technician and the person with the needles…. Thank you! xx

  13. nanacathy2 says:

    Sweet pea I am in tears here for you. You are going to be just fine and dandy! My brother has had spinal surgery and has a steel plate supporting his spine. He leads a good life. This too will pass. Xxxxx

  14. Debbierose says:

    Hi Kate. Best wishes With this procedure. I know 2 people who have had it done successfully. I believe in power of positive thought. In that I also know 1 person it didn’t work for. But they also focused on the this won’t work and all the worse case scenarios. So prayers & best wishes to you. Stay positive. I know it can be hard but you need to focus on the positive.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m assuming it will work! Just frightened of what might go wrong. The Husband’s friend had it and it fixed the problem. Another friend’s mother had it, and it didn’t. I have to work on the assumption that all will be well, but needles/spine is not a happy word combination, is it? xx

  15. notewords says:

    Strength and blessings! Please let us know how it goes.

  16. Started sending positive thoughts as soon as I read your post. You Can Do This. The steroid injections will ease your pain, and I think you’ll find it isn’t the worst pain you’ve ever experienced when it’s over. Thank goodness for modern medicine.
    Everyone is rooting for you. I Have No Doubt You Can Do This And It Will be Successful. xxx

    • katechiconi says:

      I know I can do my part, which is to grit my teeth and hold still. It’s everyone else I’m worried about 🙂 Still, not too long to wait, and hopefully a positive result. xxx

  17. Magpie Sue says:

    I’m right with you: overactive imagination, seriously uncomfortable about needles (in any part of my body!) near the spinal column, not relishing the after effects of any sedatives or whatever. I already have you in my thoughts and prayers; will redouble my efforts! Can you at least pick up an embroidery needle or some fabric to distract yourself?

    • katechiconi says:

      Hoping to get some sewing started today; there just wasn’t time yesterday what with chasing results, getting a doctor’s appointment, getting a referral for the spinal block, chasing an appointment for that… well, you get the idea. I’m not generally too uncomfortable about needles, it’s just where these two are going. One slip….

  18. Wishing you well and sending a little prayer and lots of positive thoughts x

  19. Jule says:

    Doesn’t sound like a bundle of fun. At least it’ll save you endless hours at the physio better spent sewing. 😉 I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Best wishes 👍

    • katechiconi says:

      You’re so right! Exercise is something I take between the sewing machine and the ironing board… Perhaps I should do a little aversion therapy with a few needles of my own…

  20. I started to worry about you when I read your comment this morning, and now I guess I was right. Dearest Kate, my prayers and positive thoughts can fly round this virtual world, but the hugs of encouragement will have to remain metaphorical.

    It sounds as though you have the tranquilisers and analgesics covered. My method of getting over the fear aspect, when the time comes, is to go through all the multiplication tables in my head. It seems to work for me, as does reciting poetry learned in childhood.

    I experience many of the handicaps you mention – socks are the worst, and today I decided it was time to do without. Knickers are probably more necessary! My GP has today given me some different analgaesic, not opioid and not anti-inflammatory, so fingers crossed. I share your antipathy to constant pain!

    With loving thoughts,
    ViV xox

    • katechiconi says:

      I shall be the body and soul of the party, cracking jokes and indulging in repartee. You’d never know I was quaking inside.

      Knickers are sadly necessary; how much more useful if they could be pulled on over the head… I shall carry that image with me into the CT room, where I will undoubtedly be required to dispense with mine and bare my wonky spine to the eyes of the usual 12 year old technicians. How much more reassuring if it was a comfortingly mature person. Still, I suppose their hands are less shaky. Thank you, Viv, and may your pillbox never be empty

      • The mind boggles at the idea of a knicker-draped Kate – over or under the pink hat? I’m so glad you can raise a giggle. Vx

      • katechiconi says:

        Think Rowan Atkinson in Black Adder, the WWI episode, where he puts his underpants on his head and says “Wibble” to make the authorities think he’s gone mad. Needless to say, it doesn’t work. I think I will probably be issued with a crinkly paper pair for the duration. Always so undignified, but for the sake of all concerned, I shall contort myself and wear them in the conventional position…

  21. Grannymar says:

    Kate I feel your concern and pain. I am not a very religious person, but I do like to light a candle when a friend is in difficulty. I know we have a nine hour difference to Melbourne, are you on the same time zone? I will light my candle before going to bed have my short time of concentrated thought and then stand the candle in the sink out of danger (like my mother used to do it) as I try to sleep. It has always helped in the past. Virtual healing hugs wending their way from Ireland. xxx Marie.

    • I’d like to know the time difference too! I’m terrible at such things. But you’ll have two sets of happy thoughts coming your way from Ireland!

    • katechiconi says:

      Melbourne is indeed currently on the same timezone (they change, we don’t!). If you do light a candle, send up a word to St Gemma (the back lady), rather than St Jude (lost causes)… Thank you, Marie, the little light in the darkness is a kind thought. xxx

      • Grannymar says:

        St Gemma it will be. I was never a fan of St Jude, hopeless cases sound so negative. I am a great believer in St positivity:-

        Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results. Willie Nelson

  22. Well I’m afraid I’ve not been much help with my horror story! But you will have it a LOT better than I did. I really hope the steroid shots aren’t awful. They will help, once the ache goes away. It is terrifying to think of needles in spines – but remember so many women have it done during childbirth and never a problem?

    • katechiconi says:

      I know, but two in the same place, not just local anaesthetic, but quite a large volume of liquid into an already restricted space. I’ve had it done several times in my shoulder and it hurts like stink. But I shall remember all the ladies and their epidurals…

  23. lucyannluna says:

    Will certainly be thinking of you & will light you a candle to wish you luck & healing. I just hope it works then it will all be worth it. Thinking of you.

  24. Oh dear Kate! I’m sending lots of good wishes and hope you get instant relief after the injections. You really do deserve a break!!!

    • katechiconi says:

      Instant relief for a few hours from the local they put in with the steroids, then a couple of very uncomfortable days, then hopefully the steroids kick in and start doing their stuff. Thank you so much for the good wishes 🙂

  25. I cannot bring myself to ‘like’ this post, but just want to wish you luck. I’m sure you will have wonderful medical staff and hope you feel heaps better afterwards.
    much love xxx

  26. EllaDee says:

    Just remember your medical professionals do such procedures all the time… All Will Be Well 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      I know, I know. But there’s a reason for all those leaflets they hand out with the carefully worded “some patients may occasionally experience….”, and some of it’s not that nice. But I’m sure none of that will happen to me, and my legs won’t go numb, even temporarily, and I’ll be able to walk back to the car under my own steam 🙂

  27. anne54 says:

    Add me to the list of friends who are going to surround you in the CT room! I understand how scary those two words “needle” and “Spine” must be together. Does it help to remember, as EllaDee says, that they have done this procedure lots of times before? It’s the first time it has happened to you, but not to them. Maybe thinking to the Travelling Sketchbook will help! Many thoughts xxx

    • katechiconi says:

      The design for the Sketchbook is ready, I’ve picked colours, found the right ink and pen, prepared the templates… As soon as this is over and I’m back on track, I’ll be assembling my page and passing it on 🙂

  28. Castella says:

    Positive thoughts booked in, all peripheral body parts crossed. Best of luck, and big hugs. Xxx

  29. knettycraft says:

    Big hugs from the other side of the world. Sending all positive energy I have. And all 5 pairs of fingers are crossed. Xoxo

    • katechiconi says:

      I know I’m silly to be scared. Everyone is telling me it will be fine, they do these things all the time, but still… needles and spine. Not a good combination. I send back your positive energy, dear Annett, you need it too.

  30. manicmumdays says:

    Big hugs and fingers X’d for a quick, easy and painless recovery xox

  31. Kirsten says:

    I have everything crossed for you. I would just keep telling myself that they are medical professionals and that they know what they are doing. It is what I had to do in November when my Dad had an op to remove part of his brain (up through his nose and right in-between the carotid artery and carotid vein, one false move and it would have been thank you and goodnight). They know what they are doing, that is what you have to believe in. I hope it goes okay. Big hugs x

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m believing it as hard as I can. At least it’s only my legs that would go if anything went wrong, not curtains for the whole deal. I didn’t know, and I think you’re exceptionally brave.

  32. rutigt says:

    I´ll put you on my praying list! Cross my fingers and hope everything is okey with you now (writing this on May 11th).

  33. dezertsuz says:

    I’m thinking about you Kate, and praying the procedure works, and it’s a breeze.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’ve had half the job done. One side is comfortably pain free (temporarily), the other is still yelling at me. I get to do the whole thing again tomorrow, o joy. But I’m not as scared any more, just weirded out by how very strange it feels… Thank you so much for the thoughts and prayers 🙂

  34. Lynda says:

    I’m so sorry I missed this, Kate. I have had this done three times for a herniated disk. The first they did with a local, like you, and the two times after it was done with twilight drugs to knock me out. In both scenarios I don’t remember any pain at all. I am sorry you felt yours. When is your next injection?
    BTW, after three treatments I am no longer having issues with my disk. I do hope for a similar result for you! ❤

    • katechiconi says:

      A little pain won’t kill me. A lot, long term, will make me a very sad person indeed. I wouldn’t hesitate to have the procedure done again, but my history of success with steroid treatments isn’t good, with increasingly shorter pain free periods every time till the doctor called a halt. I get three goes, and then we consider surgery. The problem is not so much that the disk is herniated, which it is, but that the vertebra below it is crumbling slowly and cannot hold it in place or remain in place itself. Fusion or disk replacement with fixators are on the cards some time down the line. But that’s OK if it means the pain stops.

  35. Thimberlina says:

    I’m catching up on all my blog reading back to front and inside out so have read about your injections but missed what was wrong! My hubby and his mum have both had the same problem with their backs. They’ve both had successful operations but not offered injections. Hubby was bent over like Quasi Modo (spelt right?!?!) and was really bad. Mum in law has had some kind of scaffolding built into her spine. So if it comes to needing surgery in the future I’d go for it. Both are pain free now and ache no more than any ‘normal’ back. Hubby’s was 10 years and the MIL 3 years. Good luck with all your treatment 😀

    • katechiconi says:

      Thank you for this; it’s always reassuring to hear of good results, especially when the idea of the surgery is so scary. I’m getting rather nervous about the injection results. We’re nearly a week on, and there hasn’t really been a significant improvement. Either it’s taking longer than usual to work, or it’s just not working…

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