Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Made it through the (very painful) epidural steroid injection (ESI) this afternoon...

Now as you read this horror show description remember -- for people with unbearable chronic or acute back conditions involving the spine (my MRI showed my herniation was bad), ESIs can give them back their lives and possibly avoid surgery.

Let's just say the injection as horrifically painful -- like something in a bad horror movie with a torture rack. My 10 on the pain scale was the initial acute herniation that sent me to the ER, rating about as bad as a kidney stone attack. This procedure was a 9-10, but not a sustained high mark of excruciation. But it's really the nature of the beast, after all, we're talking about your spine.

In the operating room (since they don't put you out you're awake for it all), they noted during the procedure just how small a space there was between the damaged disc (L4-L5) to inject all of the steroid and lidocaine, so they had to do it in very painful waves.

Good thing they have grips for you to hold onto while you are screaming and cursing on the operating table.

They had to use various views on the fluoroscopy to pinpoint the area to inject into as my level of "discomfort" rose. I was at one point hyperventilating and nauseous (I only had a small bowl of cereal since last night, knowing nausea was a possibility). The desire to hurl passed -- one of the nurses held an alcohol pad under my nose to quell it  -- that actually helped.

And, I can say that the staff and doctors were very responsive and actually quite amusing; I guess having patients cursing and screaming all the time while they are trying to help them. I didn't feel like I was treated like a piece of meat. They were making fun of my Journey obsession to help distract me from the searing pain, lol.

But it's over and I'm so numb that it was hard to get into my house. The lidocaine should wear off in 6-8 hours then I have to ice it, take pain meds and hope for no fever or side effects. We'll see how it goes overnight. Fingers crossed.

I have to make it to the Journey concert tomorrow. We have the wheelchair ready.

I'm scheduled to go back in 3 weeks, possibly for another procedure. Kate snapped this one of me after I was wheeled to the recovery room:

The jury is out on whether the initial shot will work. I should know in 3-5 days whether I will have good pain relief, and then, as I said above, I may have another shot, this time focusing on the spinal area affecting my left hip/leg, where I am experiencing the most weakness and numbness/pain.


  1. For us uneducated (and who will hopefully never have to have this) don't they give a local to do the procedure and how long did it take ?

    Speaking of those stones .. finally passed mine on Sunday after five weeks .. was actually smaller than the one I had 10 plus years ago and that bugger only took a week to pass along the yellow brick road.

    Glad you (like me with my issues over the past year and a half) can find some humor, at least a little in all this.

    Keep up your chin as you told me last year.

  2. No, no local - just an injection of lidocaine for the pain initially, then the steroid is mixed with additional lidocaine. During my procedure they had such difficulty because of the small space the herniated disc left to inject the steroid. The pressure of the injection was so bad they had to administer more lidocaine. I think they need to you be able to react to the pressure to avoid any damage. As in feeling pain during the procedure may be an indicator they need to do it accurately. I don't think it's as painful for every case; a lot depends on where they are giving it and the condition of the discs in question.

  3. Oh, and the injection procedure took about 15-20 minutes, with 10 of it the actual injection. I was in recovery for about 30 minutes.