link to yesterday’s YouTube video:
I just finished getting three X-rays. It was a radiology experience unlike any other, at least for me. I’ve had many X-rays in my life, over 30+ years, but this one took the cake.
To start, I had to go to one of the newer buildings on the hospital campus. New to me at least. The last time I’d been in that area, there was a lot of scaffolding and signs heralding what it would all look like upon completion. In NYC, as in most cities, one gets used to years of construction taking place in each location. So when it’s finished, we’re sort of taken by surprise. “What’s different about this block?” “It’s the scaffolding! It’s gone!” When you’re no longer shrouded in shadows, suddenly standing in sunlight on a street that absolutely was akin to walking in a tunnel, it can throw you off. LOL.
Anyway, I walked into the cavernous lobby, prepared to scan the barcode I received when I checked in online. I walked up the ramp to a table, the temperature station. They asked me if I’d had covid symptoms, if I’d encountered anyone with such symptoms, and if I’d traveled in the last 14 days. (Does walking to the corner mailbox count as traveling? No? Well then, no, I haven’t gone anywhere).
After that, I was directed to a bank of screens to type in my barcode number. Sort of defeating the purpose of giving a barcode. Especially since the system didn’t recognize my number. I received the message: the system cannot process your number at this time. Of course not. That would make all of this too simple. It would make it quick. The man monitoring the screens seemed annoyed. I was thinking, “blame the technology, sir. Not me.” 🤨
He sent me to the main desk. The computers were slow there, but the woman at the desk was able to find my appointments. Thank goodness. I received the requisite hospital bracelet and was directed around the corner to another security guard.
She told me to scan my bracelet and the gates blocking the elevator bank from the lobby would open. It took some maneuvering on my part, trying to twist the bracelet’s bar code to face the scanner, but then a green light appeared and the plexiglass gates swung open. On I went.
Exiting the elevator into a very fancy waiting room, I was greeted by a staff member. She showed me to a seat in the waiting room, which was really a giant, elegant lounge. Moments later, a technician brought me into a huge X-ray room, with the biggest machine I’d ever seen.
First, he set up to get images of my shoulder. That only took a few minutes. Then had asked me to stand and step back from the table. I must have looked confused because he said, “I’m just going to adjust it so we can get the pictures of your back.”
Adjust it? This was unlike anything I’ve seen before. This massive machine rotated from horizontal to vertical in mere seconds. The arm holding the camera rotating with it. I’ve had a lot of X-rays, none of them were on a table that could “Matrix” around at the push of a button. When I asked if all of the tables could do this, he said, “No. These machines are our newest. The others didn’t have that capability.” It was awesome. Technology is an incredible thing.
The call with my doc went worse than I hoped. As I mentioned in yesterday’s video, asking about results he hadn’t seen yet seemed to throw him for a second. But he looked for them and tried reading them out to me.
My pain has been out of control. My sleep time is next to nothing. My head was in panic mode. Apparently, my shoulder X-ray was normal. It’s not bone related. This is good news, but I still don’t know what’s happening with my shoulder. I know I should take the victory here, but it’s not a victory since we don’t know why it hurts all the time. This will require an MRI. It could be a tear, it might be my rotator cuff. He can’t be sure without an MRI.
Next up is the lumbar result. He reads quietly for a moment and then says that my hardware is stable. This is good news. And I am relieved to hear it. No one wants hardware getting loose. I don’t want to have to deal with that. No thanks.
My thoracic spine – my enemy at the moment – is where he pauses the longest. He starts to say, “So…. T12….. it looks like you have a slight spondylolisthesis…..” Then he cuts himself off and starts to talk about how my spine is more curved than it should be. And then launches into potential pain relief options.
No! I want the full report. But he’s talking about diagnostic nerve blocks. Facet injections. Radio frequency ablation.
NO. NO. NO. I am not doing that procedure ever again. No ———ing way. Not happening. And I dare anyone who asks why to step into my body, go back in time, and relive the hell that was my procedure and the months that followed. No way.
That’s when I broke. I explained that my pain is at a 7-10/10 every day. And I cried. He stopped typing, looked at the screen, and said, “I’m so sorry. I’m really am sorry. We’ll figure it out.” He’s incredibly kind. He always has been.
Figuring it out involves nerve blocks. It involves more medication. It involves living with more out of control pain until something gives. I can’t take the way my body feels right now. And there’s literally nothing I can do about it. I’m taking my meds, my breakthrough meds, my medical marijuana doses, using ketamine/lidocaine cream, lidocaine ointment. And hoping for relief. Sitting, standing, lying down….. it’s all a nightmare of ache and burn.
I wait to see the full reports but they never appear in the system. Calling the office late in the day, they tell me they’re going to message him to release the results into the hospital portal. But nothing’s happened, so I figured it was because of the late hour.
There’s nothing I can do.
Apparently, only the radiologist can officially release the reports into the portal. Not the ordering physician. This is news to me. Despite my anger – which very nearly bled all over the nice woman who answered my call – I waited on hold to see if I could gain access to the reports. And waited. She returned to the call and explained that nothing would be online until tomorrow, Friday. It took every ounce of my energy not to take it out on her. Instead, I thanked her for trying and hung up the phone. Tomorrow. I can’t see my messed up spine until tomorrow.
The email came early this morning, alerting me to the fact that I had new test results available in the portal. I have no idea why, but I didn’t sign in right away. Maybe some of my rage and ridiculousness burned off overnight. Maybe it doesn’t matter what they say. Maybe I’m tired and the pain has gotten the better of me. Seeing the words in print won’t change the outcome. Naming whatever is happening at T12 isn’t going to undo whatever is happening at T12. Right? So who cares at this point?
I do. Sadly, I really do. Whenever pain enters the picture, when we live with it for a long time, we want answers. The why. The how. How do we fix it? How do we make it stop? And when those answers don’t come, it’s devastating. We need to name these things that hurt us. And we need to prove to the doctors, nurses, specialists, whoever that what we’re talking about is REAL. That we’re not being dramatic or lying. What we are is scared and sore and angry. And though NO ONE wants a positive test result, (meaning that something is wrong), we simply don’t want to prolong the not knowing. We’re desperate to find “the why.” And as desperate to discover “the how” to fix it. “The what” we need to do to make that happen. We want all of it. And we don’t always get it.
My thoracic X-ray says that there are problems. Phrases like “chronic multilevel degenerative disease,” and “exaggeration of thoracic kyphosis,” and “diffuse mild/moderate multilevel thoracic endplate degenerative remodeling.” Whatever the hell that all means.
My back has been a mess my entire life. Why should now be any different? 😂 I don’t know what I’ll do, treatment wise. The facet injections weren’t terrible. My doc said that if we can try to take down the inflammation, it could help. If the inflammation goes down, the strain on the vertebrae could ease. Meaning decreased pain. Hopefully! This is the goal. So I’m back on prescription-strength Motrin again.
And if the diagnostic injections help, then he’s confident the back pain can be treated. I want that more than anything.
We’ll see what happens.
Peace and painlessness,
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