Last Friday I returned to the pain clinic to discuss my options for more invasive pain management methods because surgery – or a definitive plan to restore my health and eliminate my pain – is now far into the distance. I met with a pain management specialist I hadn’t seen before. His style of interaction was not as comforting or as informative as the doctor I’ve grown quite comfortable with over the last year. At the beginning of our session I had to ask him to slow his speech because it was very clipped and difficult to understand because of what I thought was a fast-moving Australian accent. It turned out that he is a British northerner, which on a good day is a hard accent to understand but was doubly so because of my medication fog.
We spoke for a while. Since, of course, each time you meet with a different doctor or medical practitioner you have to repeat your history and your primary concern of the moment. I explained to him that because I have no idea when or how the surgeon will treat my condition, and because I have no desire to increase the amount of pain medications I take – it would be impossible to function – I believe I need to have my pain treated more aggressively with other methods. I told him my favourite pain specialist – I didn’t actually say that, at least I hope I didn’t – had described the procedures that might be available to me and after a lot of thought I’m ready to try one or both.
He reviewed my chart. He reiterated the possible benefits and risks of each procedure. And especially emphasised that because my case is so “unique” and “complicated” – when I get better I’m going to set up an online dating profile and use those descriptors to snag a prime partner – whichever procedure they use might not work and may actually cause me to have a terrible pain flare up. How’s that for setting someone’s expectations?
He left the examination room to consult with the head pain specialist of the clinic to decide what to do with me. When he returned to the room about 15 minutes later my fate was sealed. I will get the Ganglion Impar Block that “treat[s] chronic, neuropathic perineal pain from visceral and/or sympathetic pain syndromes”. That’s a fancy way of saying they’re going to try to numb my pelvic pain and the associated leg and back pain. It is a delicate procedure for which I will be heavily sedated so they will admit me to the hospital under day surgery. I will need someone to take me to the hospital and take me home. This is the third time in just under a year that I will be heavily sedated on top of the large quantity of pain medications I take.
I don’t have the date for this procedure yet. I will get my notice by phone from one of the pain clinic administrative clerks who are all very lovely; or in the mail with an official-looking, detailed letter about when, where and how it will take place and what I need to do to prepare for the day. I’m not sure it’s a good thing, but I’m getting used to waiting for these notices to arrive so I can transfer the information to my calendar then patiently count down the days to the next procedure, consultation, or examination.
Europe – The Final Countdown