Part 1: The neck procedure that went sideways

As you will come to find in my blogs the universe likes to mess with me.  Things that are considered standard generally go sideways.

I was diagnosed in 2007 with osteoarthritis in my neck.  I went for many treatments from traction to facet infiltration and regular physiotherapy.

It has only deteriorated over the years to the point that it has become debilitating.  So debilitating it hampers my ability to work and host of other things others take for granted.  I’ve reached the point that I am now on Schedule 7 oxycodone to make the pain bearable.

My rheumatologist and I discussed this.  We needed to look at some other options.  I don’t want to build up a tolerance to the medication.  Like what kind of pain killers will they give when I’m 45?  We decided to try the Pain Management Clinic. Happiness. They will focus on my neck solely and this makes me hopeful.

I visit the pain management clinic.  Professor Frolich and I chat about my pain and she is so impressed with my understanding of my pain e.g. some pain is psychological I.e. brought on by stress and other pain is external e.g. caused by being in the wrong positon for too long.

We decided that because I was currently in pain we will do the steroid injections that last for two weeks and then schedule the neck pain block epidural. Progress!

She immediately does the steroid injections.  She compliments me on taking the 8 injections like a trooper.  Now look, it is damn sore.  The medication burns and she is injecting into knots in my neck.  I learned a long time ago that I can prolong the process by reacting or shut up and take it like a woman.  I’ve become a pro at this now because over the 4 years I cannot tell you how many injections I’ve had from neck down to my coccyx. Suck it buttercup. She grabbed my shoulder and said are you ok? Poor woman thought I fainted. No, no lady don’t drag this out. I’m good.

The steroids provide some welcome relief.  Now I’m ready to get going with this neck procedure.  This is going to be awesome! I’m going to be pain free for at least 3 months! In my world that’s like 5 years!

I go to pay the receptionist as their policy is cash and claim back from the medial aid.  She takes my card and hands me back the pay point thing.  I almost collapsed but keyed in my pin. R5000. 5.  Here’s the thing though I left there with hope.  In my world hope is priceless.  You’d be shocked at things we try because it’s supposed to help us.  So when you found a place that immediately start tackling the problem

The day before the surgery hubs reminds me to sign the indemnity form.  It lists all the things that can go wrong.  Yes okay, okay I’m sure this is standard.  He mentions to me to that it’s hectic that one of the side effects is that I might not be able to breath on my own after surgery and will be kept on a ventilator in ICU.  SORRY? SAY WHAT NOW?

Nice one bro.  Now my mind is going crazy.

The day of the procedure comes.  I intended to handle this like a boss but now I’m a bit jittery.  I’m first on the list. Thank God.  Imagine waiting.  Giving me time to overthink and psyche myself out.

I get wheeled to the pre-op area.  The antitheist comes to speak to me.  We chat about the meds I’m on and then he hits me with a whammy.  I will not be completely asleep. Dude! I was looking forward to the anaesthetic!  I will be sedated and on pain killers. “Don’t worry” he says. “I’m going to give you the good stuff”  They need me half awake so I can scream if they hit a nerve or something.  Oh good Lord what have I gotten myself in to!

He sees the look of complete horror on my face.  He might have a possible runner on his hands.  He sees my surname and says “hey my parents have neighbours with surname”. He continues to chat to me and I’m wheeled into theatre.  Ok so I I’m lying face down with my head in some silicone thing.  They put a pillow under my tummy so now my arse is in the air with the gown open at back. So yeah my arse is out for everyone to see. Before I can start freaking out about my hospital throw away panties the good stuff hits me.

Ah.. so zen.  It’s lovely. So lovely. The anathetist tells the doctor “See, I know her surname because she has family in my area! I probably know her family.  I’m sure my parents would. Typical Cape Town Muslim community stuff”.  They then proceed to laugh at just how similar the Muslim and Jewish communities are.  The doctor says to him “If they hear your surname your get questioned if you are family of so and so”.  This beautiful moment is not lost on me

Here we have a Jewish and Muslim team working on me and they are laughing about how their communities are actually so alike.  Clearly a conversation they’ve had before.

The next thing I know I’m waking up with drool running down my face.  Probably looking like drunk Homer Simpson.  The doctors come to me and say it went perfectly. YAY!!!!

I get taken back to the ward. I fall back to sleep immediately.  I wake up and I’m chatting with hubby.  I say to him ” Omg I’m so glad I was sedated so I could sleep through that woman’s snoring”.  Hubby says “I hate to break it to you but you should have heard YOUR snoring” Oops alrighty then.

The doc comes to see me and says everything went really well and I should actually be feeling pain relief already…erm not really.  It’s kinda sore, inflamed like.  Having Lupus and Fibromyalgia you learn what your different pains are.  Inflammation will go away after a while so I’m not bothered …

Ha ha the joke was on me… Of course nothing is just simple and straightforward for me and so starts part 2 of the horror story….

Come back to find how things went horribly awry for me … it’s a shocker. I promise!

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