Friday, August 21, 2009

On Pain

Pain is both universal and subjective. What may be excruciating for you, may be a walk in the park for me. Conversely, what may seem like nothing to me might make you cry just thinking about it.

While still in my 30's I was diagnosed with degenerative osteoarthritis in my right knee. It wasn't awful. I thought maybe I had sprained or over-extended it. It was occasionally annoying, but certainly manageabe. Over the years, it has progressed into someting that is always annoying and more and more often, unmanagebly painful. Genetics, age and years of dance-realted abuse in Musical theatre all were taking thier toll. Little over a year ago, I saw my GP about it, who prescribed an NSAID which provided much relief. But this past spring, I noticed I was having some stomach issues, a common side-effect of long-term NSAID use. I stopped taking it and went to my GP again, who gave me a topical version of the drug I had been taking orally. I might as well have used Pond's Cold Cream for all the good it did. A third scrip (for naproxin) failed, as did a fourth (for the generic version of Ultram - which was as effective as St. Joseph's Baby Aspirin).
So, I broke down and used Health Advocate (one of the many terrific bennies provided by my full-time employer) and found an orthopedist who prescribed both physical therapy and Synvisc injections. Today, was my first of three shots.
Now, I've had some painful injuries in my day. Cuts; sprains; dislocations, etc. I had three root canals done on the same tooth (a long story) as well as several oral surgeries (all related to a childhood injury). In 1994, I had a nosebleed so bad that an ER doctor had to cauterize it with a ball of molten silver-nitrate, Two years ago, I had a procedure in which a camera was shoved up inside me to take pictures of my bladder (oh, the horror!). None of these impressively scary procedures can compare with the pain I experienced in a rather pleasant treatment room at the hands of a very pleasant orthopedist.
Please understand, I always have been and always will be a baby when it comes to three things: the dentist, the phlebotomist and any kind of injection. Several friends gave me tips on how to deal. "Pinch your arm," one friend posted on facebook. "Blow bubbles" my 'work spouse' said. "Just look away," was the prep nurse's advise. None of them worked and none of them could have prepared me for the most intense 5 seconds of white-hot pain I have ever experienced. It literally took my breath away. Now I know why women have babies.
And I have to go back for 2 more. This stuff better work.
More, anon.

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