I can’t SLEEP!
So here’s the story. I was skiing with a friend on my birthday, April 22nd, Pickeroon, at Vail. And it’s relatively flat and then it falls off into a steep part, and normally I’d stop and wait at this ridge, at this transition, but the guy I’m skiing with is twenty years younger than me and you know how the testosterone flows and I’m in the lead so I just continue and when I make my first turn on the steep part, I feel this pain shoot through my back. Let me be clear, I didn’t fall, there were no big bumps, no jolting or jarring, it’s just that I turned my skis and got this pain.
Whereupon I made two more runs and went back in. I had to, you couldn’t go down from there, it was too damn sticky.
O.K. We go out to Flame, my favorite restaurant in Vail, for dinner, and it’s about a ten minute walk and I’m uncomfortable, but not writhing, and when we get back to the condo I’m all riled up, agitated, and I inject that because of the Sarno book, but I’ll get to that.
I want to finish this book I’m reading, “Shotgun Lovesongs,” which I kind of recommend, because it’s about a faded rock star and it’s pretty good, but if I stay up too late I won’t be able to get up early and you’ve got to get up early, because the snow gets too sticky sometime after noon and it’s the last day of the season and they close early anyway.
But I toss and turn, there’s too much on my mind.
And I wake up late and I’m in a rush, because we’ve got to meet Fricke at 11 at 11, which is Vail talk I won’t bother to explain, other than it’s the top of the mountain and it takes half an hour just to get there, so I’m in a rush and I’m stretching, and using a tennis ball to work out the kinks and my back goes NUCLEAR!
I’m familiar with nuclear, but it hasn’t happened in twenty years. And they say after ten you’re usually in the clear.
And I’m stretching and starting to writhe and then I get on the floor and conclude I’m not going skiing today, I text Fricke, and I start reading the Sarno book, which is on my KIndle, to try to calm myself down.
Sarno says it’s all in your head. I felt stressed, I wanted to believe that.
But when I couldn’t get comfortable, I had Felice go through my personal pharmacy and I took 10 milligrams of Oxycodone, which I had left over from my shoulder surgery.
But it didn’t work.
And Felice thinks we should call the doctor and I agree and when we’re on the phone with him, trying to find a pharmacy open on a Sunday to call in a steroid dosepak, my pain goes INSANE!
Now you have to know, this pill I take, the miracle drug, Gleevec, for my CML, its two main side effects are…fatigue and muscle cramps. And the fatigue, it only means I’m gonna have trouble climbing Mt. Everest, I’m good in regular life, but the cramps, it’s like out of a horror movie, your fingers seem to be rolling over each other at the joint, the arch in your foot has stabbing pain, and this doesn’t happen often, but when it does…
Well now my whole body is in a Gleevec cramp. Was it a drug reaction? Who the hell knows, all I do know is I wanted the pain to go away.
So let’s jump to the ER.
They do an MRI. I’ve got two herniated disks and a collapsed disk. The collapsed disk I’m familiar with, as the physiatrist said a couple of years back, when I got an MRI for my hip, YOU SKI WITH THAT BACK? There’s no disk THERE!
Ok, ok, so they need a stool sample.
And after eating a few crackers I give ’em one.
They’re looking for colitis, which they do not find. But they do find the NOROVIRUS!
And this is where I catalog my other problems. So, it’s the end of the season and snow is thin and two thirds of the mountain is closed so they groom Prima, the hardest slope on the front side. And you cut off from there to Pronto and I get to the bottom and I’m so tired, I mean really tired, WTF?
I can barely eat the energy bar in my pocket. I call it a day and go back to the condo and tell Felice how insanely tired I am, I can barely eat dinner, even though I ate no lunch.
That was Thursday.
Turns out, as stated above, I had Norovirus, which is that infection you get on cruise ships. There’s no treatment, you’ve just got to wait it out.
And since I’m doing one-stop shopping, I ask the doctor about my ear, I can’t hear out of it, my right one. Was freaking me out. Turns out he could not see the eardrum, they did a half hour of cleaning and voila! I could hear again!
They decided not to keep me overnight. They cleared me to fly home the next day. And I didn’t think I could make it but then in a window when the drugs kicked in we put it in high gear, bought a $90 flight, took an SUV to DIA and when I got out of the car…
I couldn’t stand up straight. I could walk maybe twenty five feet at a time. If I straightened up…WHEW!
So I get home and I’m worse. But I’m gonna power through.
I drive a standard and it’s my left leg so I’m Ubering and I’ve got to go to the skin doctor, to have my stitch removed, it’s been two weeks, he did a biopsy, and I can’t walk to the goddamn building, they have to bring out a wheelchair.
Thereupon I called my internist for serious pain pills and canceled everything on my schedule.
The physical therapist came to my house. And when she said I needed to see the surgeon…
So I call the guru, the guy who I depend upon, who got me to avoid surgery after every doctor said to have it two decades back.
I can’t get through.
Then I get an e-mail from Irving and while we’re at it, I run this all by him. He says I can’t see the famous guy, he’s the one who messed up Steve Kerr, I’ve got to see this new guy, who operated on his son-in-law, he’ll facilitate it.
And he does, but the price is exorbitant but Irving is never wrong and I’m barely functional so I go.
The guy gives me so much time, an hour, and explains everything, but wants more tests, to see if there are bone fractures.
So I Uber to the lab and he squeezes me in five days later and says…
I DON’T NEED SURGERY!
Ever hear of such a thing? Oh, I’ll need it at some point, I’ve got that collapsed disk and the vertebrae above it has slipped, but the herniations should work themselves out in six to eight weeks, and I’m elated.
But still in pain.
You see, most people have a problem with conventional sciatica, from the butt down the side of the leg to the foot. But since my herniations are higher up, my pain is in the thigh and the knee. So I’m good when I’m sitting, but sleeping?
I’ve taken more medication than I have in my life and the pain is still intolerable and then I decided…
I’d go for the injection.
I know, I know, this story is long and insane but welcome to my life, that’s why I thought this could be psychological, even though I’m the only one who believes that, it’s been a helluva year, but not in a good way.
And I’ve seen the dawn too many times, trying to white knuckle it without Oxy, since my pharmacist freaked out about it being so addictive.
And I can go without pain pills during the day, but…AM I ENTITLED TO TREATMENT?
I mean I’m getting better, however slowly. But they called me from the pain doctor’s office and said I could cancel any time and I was wavering but the night before last…WHEW!
They were so UNTOGETHER!
I spoke with three different people and they all said different stuff.
And I’m reading the pre-op page last night and holy crap, I’m doing stuff I’m not supposed to, although the page contradicts the phone calls, and I’m an i-dotter and a t-crosser, I’ve got to do it right, but if this injection is canceled I’ve got to wait A WHOLE ‘NOTHER WEEK!
So I Uber to Beverly Hills…
Now this is a surgery center. Where you die. So, do I want to be put under or not? The first phone call gave me the option, all the next ones assumed I was going down.
But I walk in and the guy there is asking the same question!
But his wife won’t shut up and she’s so loud I can’t fill out the forms and the clerk says eighty percent of the people go under so I decide I will too.
But then when I go into the facility, the nurse says I won’t be going under, it’s not in the paperwork, HUH?
It’s the untogetherness that’s blowing my mind. Can’t they get their story straight?
But then they’re inserting the IV… Now I’ve been poked and prodded so much that I can tolerate the pain, but it’s becoming clear, this ain’t working.
THE WOMAN SCREWED UP TWICE! MISSED MY VEIN TWICE! ONCE IN EACH ARM!
I said NO MAS, bring in someone else! And they did, and she got it right. But when they say you never want to be in a hospital, believe them.
And we’re waiting for the doctor and he comes in all harried and disheveled and I’m wondering whether I should just bolt.
But he turns out to quite a nice fellow, impresses me with his competence.
And the anesthesiologist tells me he’s been on all three sides of this, putting people out, injecting them, and being injected himself.
Finally, he says he went under for the injection, so I decide I will too.
I mean how paranoid do you want to be?
And they wheel me in and we start talking music, this guy went to the final Springsteen show at the Sports Arena, and I always wonder whether to be all business or friends, since I had a bad experience once, bonding with a doctor who poked a hole in my spine…
And I’m lying face down and they put in the twilight medicine and they prick me in the back and it’s all done in about ten minutes. I’m never completely gone, I run a sexual fantasy in my head, I try to feel good, because there’s nowhere I need to be, no commitment I need to fulfill, I’ve just got to go along for the ride, float down the river in heaven, assuming I don’t end up in heaven.
And that’s it.
They wheel me out and make me drink some water and say I’m done.
Whereupon I get into it with the anesthesiologist. He says it’ll take forty eight hours for the steroid to kick in, to lay low before that, but not too low, but it could take eight days for the steroid to take effect.
And then the nurse hands me my exit papers, one I’ve never seen before, I’ve got to document my pain, for my follow-up appointment with the pain doctor…no one told me about that! Yup, in two weeks.
And then I’m literally walking out and I run into the injector.
Who says no, I don’t have to come back. And that no, I don’t have to wait forty eight hours for full effect. And to do whatever I want. And I could get relief that lasts an hour or forever or not at all.
So where does that leave me?
Who the hell knows.
On one hand my back pain is reduced, then again, I’ve got pain where they shot me up, I’ve got to ice that.
As far as my knee… Pain is reduced in three areas but still remaining in one. But sometimes you feel better a few hours from now. And even if this doesn’t work, I’m on the road to recovery.
So what have we learned?
Damned if I know.