Saturday, June 04, 2005


In Which I Am Beset By Beaks and Needles...

So I have this big road-trip coming up, but ever since beginning work on the Foxhole back in April, I've been hobbling around and feeling sorry for myself because I seem to have injured my back.

To be more accurate, I've reinjured it.

The tale of how it happened, like most of my stories of self-injury, is worth at least a couple entries on its own, so I don't want to give too much away. Suffice it to say I've been lamed up for a while and limping around home and the office like a guy twice my age. It doesn't help that I have a desk-job. Sitting all day is awfully hard on bad backs. Well, on mine anyway. Road trips are equally hard.

So it was that after an MRI to see what was up with stack of bones on top of my ass, and a consult with a neurosurgeon (many of whom specialize in backs, you might be surprised to know) it was determined that I should get this done yesterday.

If you have Shockwave installed, this is my favorite animated site on the procedure. I especially love the part where the animated needle sticks into the animated spine.

Despite what it says here, I was not swabbed with lidocaine. I was stuck with a needle. In my low back, which was already hurting. And in the needle was an anesthetic closely related to novocaine. Careful readers of this blog may recall that, for some reason, I am largely immune to the effects of novocaine, so I got to feel the large-bore needle and spinal catheter as they went in. I also jerked a bit when they plunged the glop of steroid into the tiny space between the bones in my back.

If you've ever been in pain, you may have had a doctor ask you to rate your pain on a scale from 1 to 10. I find this scale to be largely useless and have developed a more descriptive scale of my own, one that generally requires no elaboration beyond simply listing the following:

Eyebrow Sweats
Silent Scream
Mad Bastard

Having never been in labor, but having witnessed it--Her Lovely Self progressed so rapidly both times that there was no opportunity for an epidural or any other pain-controlling measures--I feel comfortable putting that at the top of the range.

Yesterday's procedure wasn't the worst pain ever, but it sure did hurt like a mad bastard.

The good thing about an epidural steroid injection is that, in about 3 to 5 days, you feel like a god upon the earth. And if you're lucky, the effects last up to six months or longer. If I feel good enough to survive my upcoming road trip without feeling like an old man, I'll consider it a success.

The bad thing about an epidural steroid injection is the 72 hours after the procedure. And I'm at about Hour 36.

To make matters worse, I'm sort of stuck in the house. I'm supposed to take short walks today to help loosen my back up, but this morning when I stepped out the back door, preparing to make a circuit of the yard, I saw a flash of black in my field of vision and then felt the most surprising, poking, needle-like pain on the very top of my head.

Pain-wise, it was somewhere between Wince-worthy and Yeow! on my scale, but it so surprised me that I stumbled and twisted and felt my poor back seize up and suddenly we were all the way to Mad Bastard again.

The flash of black whizzed by again. I ducked as best I could, and dashed back inside. That's when I saw this enormous blackbird, flitting past the window. The damn bird was dive-bombing me!

My dad was full of stories of being pecked at by blackbirds when he used to work on the farm as a kid (apparently, they can be drawn to bright objects, such as the frames of my glasses, but they can also dive-bomb you for no fucking reason whatsoever. Anyone nature-watchers here care to elaborate? Rurality, I bet you know something about this. What did I do to piss this bird off?)

(By the way, if you've never been to Rurality's blog, go now. My son is an avid viewer, especially when she posts pictures of her dog or any reptiles, such as the snake that ate some eggs on her farm. If she were here instead of me, no doubt she'd be able to include some beautiful images of this crazy bird in mid-flight. I can't even offer you so much as a picture of a black blur).

So now I'm resigned to pacing around the house. In fact, we all are. Her Lovely Self was at first amused by my tale of avian attack, but then the kids got nervous, so she went out back and puttered around for a few minutes to prove to them there was nothing to fear (and to teach me A Lesson about exaggerating). Within 15 minutes, the damn bird was swooping in on her and she was bolting for the house like an extra in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

So now we're stuck in here, beseiged by a single bird. Between the beaks and needles of the past 36 hours, I'm ready to call it a day.

Or at least to go look for my bottle of trusty painkillers.

Time to my road trip = not soon enough.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

About the back - ouch. We have been moving heavy boxes all week so I may be in line for a shot soon myself.

About the bird, they probably have a nest near your door. Especially if it's not just you they're attacking. Depending on the length of your road trip, the young birds may have fledged by the time you get back and all will be well. Otherwise... do you have a hard hat?!

Of course you could always invite people over, hide in the bushes, and videotape THEM getting divebombed. Afterwards you could send the tape to one of those home video shows and make $10,000. It would be especially sweet if you invited over someone you didn't like...
Forgot to say, thanks for the plug! :)
And they say bad things about people who are spineless - pish posh -
Go without is what I say!
I feel your pain, after having worked at a UPS HUB loading & unloading trailers for 9 years - I can relate. Thank God I got out of there! Hope the spinal works for ya!

I'm with Rurality - must be a nest nearby. I love her site as well. Found it by way of you. Loved the chickens in the litterbox, What a hoot.

You've nailed the parental pain scale! Silent screams are the scariest to me with young children. I've launched myself at the speed of light when you see one of those happen to your child. You want to get there before the silent wind up releases with the heartwrenching wail.

Sending some healing mojo your way!
Wow, that is totally nuts. I've seen cats get dive-bombed before, but never people! How scary. I definitely would be more than a little nervous about leaving the house after an experience such as that.

I hate hearing about bad backs. My dad has had back pain since I can remember, and I know it's rough - I'm sending some positive energy your way!

And BTW, rurality, your pictures are completely badass! Thanks for brightening the web-world with your presence :)
I have tried desperately to access your suggested link regarding your choice of an animated epidural injection site. I supposedly successfully installed Shockwave but I still couldn't access the illustration.

Being totally technically unsavvy, (and after searching through reams of Q&A's, I cannot find the particular answer to my question.) Any other suggestions as to how I could access this animation?

I very distinctly remember when I was treated for cervical facet injections that I was able to view a very similar animation (I could tell by the still photo on that page). That's why I'm so frustrated now.

If you do not see this before 2/26 a.m., it will be moot so don't bother to answer. Thanks anyway.
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