Kill or Cure – A Sympathetic Nerve Block

July 31st, they did a sympathetic nerve block near my spine and SI joints to try to calm the nerves in my hip that are afflicted with CRPS.  It is supposed to work like a reset button.  Every time it’s done I should get more relief.

I was not prepared for this procedure, not really.  I knew they were sticking a needle into a ganglion bundle to numb it and therefore ease some of the pain at my hip, but I hadn’t thought about how they find the correct ganglion bundle.

I get to lay on a lovely X-Ray table for these procedures.  It takes a picture every 15 seconds, but the tech can take them faster manually as the doctor needs.  Doing facet injections they stuck a handful of needles into the ganglions that come out of the vertebrae joints (the facets) at the side of the spine and they attempt to numb each ganglion at the facet, thereby decreasing pain.  It works amazingly well for my lower legs.  It did not work on my hip, neither did injecting steroids and lidocaine directly into the area where I was in pain.

In June, we did an epidural, which provided a few hours of relief.  I had about 4 hours were I was nearly pain free, my pain was like a 3, and I even played a game of darts something I haven’t done in over a year.

Back to July 31st.  I lay on the table and they tell me there’s going to be a small stick where they numb my skin, which always happens, no big deal.  They get started and the big needles come out and suddenly I realize that I should have thought about this.  My doctor began searching for the ganglion he needed to inject.  He did this by putting a needle into my back and moving it around until my reaction could not be masked. He’d found the right ganglion.  Pain shot down from my back, into my toes.

I had pain in parts of my legs that hadn’t hurt, like my toes, but where I’d had pain it was suddenly much worse, for example in my lower leg which does hurt but not badly.  I tried to relax and loosen all the muscles on my right side in my leg and back and feet, my toes were curled up against my shoes and I could feel them trying to dig into the material.  It felt like I laid there for a week with that needle stuck into the ganglion that was the source of all my pain in my hip.

It was strange, you expect the nerves that would be causing the pain would be near my hip.  The ganglion was several inches above my tailbone, near the upper curve of my lumbar region and no where near my hip.  Or my toes.  As the doctor pushed the medicine which could be felt entering my body causing a sensation of fullness and pressure on my spine, we discussed my weekend.  It had been good and bad.

I got beaten up by an 8 year old.  My husband’s family had a get together because some of the cousins that live in Arizona came into the area.  I enjoyed meeting the two cousins I hadn’t met before, but my father-in-law fashioned a wooden sword for one of the children there, an 8 year old, who used it to beat me up because he hit the Lovely Lola with it for no reason other than he decided she was going to be the dragon he needed to slay.  I told him not to hit the dogs, so he decided to hit me instead.  He put a bruise on my right hip which felt like it had been made with a sledge hammer not a slim piece of wood covered in duct tape.  He also whacked my husband three times in the shoulder that they just did surgery on.

So yeah, good and bad.  Katie and Tory were lovely and I enjoyed getting to meet them.  As someone that isn’t a huge fan of children to begin with, getting beat up by an 8 year old didn’t exactly change my opinion on them.  I also got to spend some time with Caiden the great nephew that was born in April.  He is too the stage where we blows air through his lips making raspberries, and I like the making noises stage.

Anyway… I was sent home with a worksheet that I had to fill out for my doctor every hour, I was supposed to record if I was feeling numbness and what my pain score was.  Whatever it was supposed to do, I don’t think it worked.  I was just as sore on August 1st as I had been July 31st.  And I still had some soreness down my leg and into my toes on the first of August.

We did discuss some things like implanting an e-stim or a pain pump, but I am allergic to metal which means I can’t do either of those.  He says eventually he expects that all CRPS patients that need to remain on opiates will be required to get pain pumps and e-stimulators, despite the risk that implanting an e-stim or pain pump can cause CRPS nerve pain to spread to other nerve bundles.

These alternative treatments will either cure me or kill me.  So far none of them have worked, but then that’s the problem with CRPS, there is no set form of treatment because the help obtained by each one is radically different between each patient.


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