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“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

The Dalai Lama has an applicable wise statement for all possible feelings and conditions. I try to remember this one. “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. ” Today I underwent the most painful procedure for my nerve disorder. I imagine the flawed brain surgery was much worse, but I was blessedly asleep!

I knew this nerve block was going to be different, and more intense, after catching site of the specialized room my pain doctor had set up for this procedure on my previous visit. The room contained a large, white C-Shaped machine that would have looked perfectly normal floating through the solar system- not as something I had to lay under. It turned out not to be a traveling pain relieving space pod for astronauts, but a huge, expensive x-ray machine. This is also the first nerve block I’ve had in the past 3 years, where the medical assistant insisted I take something to calm me and ease my anxiety shortly beforehand.

After laying still on the exam table under Big C The X-ray Machine, and being instructed not to swallow, the pain doctor took numerous x-rays of my spinal vertebrae. From reading about the procedure I learned they do so to make the anesthesia and following nerve blocks are inserted in the stellate ganglion nerves, rather than ram up against bone. The doctor painted my neck with iodine, and then injected anesthesia into several spots. Not great, but not awful. He said I’d feel some pressure- a gross understatement- and then injected at least 8 stellate ganglion nerve blocks into the front of my neck.

Initially it was fascinating to look at the x-rays on the screen behind me, which I could see upside down as I bared my neck for the injections. Big  C lost it’s appeal after I watched the first needle slide into my neck. I lost track after eight nerve blocks, done in what felt like a connect the dots fashion. The two injections in the center of my neck hurt badly enough to make me cry, and barely suppress a scream. I truly hope this helps, as they expect me back in 3 weeks, and again in 6 weeks.

One good thing is that the pain specialist who performed this procedure is one of the doctors listed on the Medtronic site, the company that manufactures opioid pain pumps, which one of the physicians in Pittsburgh recommended as the best course of action for my never-ending pain. When I asked the pain doctor about this today, I was told his patients usually receive more pain relief from the series of stellate ganglion nerve blocks than those that he implants a pain pump into. I hurt badly now, but may begin experiencing some pain relief tomorrow. After 3 years of nonstop pain, that would be a miracle.

I know that many of you are suffering much worse than I am. I apologize ahead of time for bitching about my pain when so many others are dealing with so much more. My thoughts are with all of the amazing individuals I know who fight their pain, rare disorders and diseases in silence, often with little or no support and love. Those who have cancer, which took the life of my beloved Grandma Mary and my mother’s second husband John- a man so caring, loving and intelligent, who’s life ended much too soon.

I am grateful to know so many people who refuse to let any disease or disorder stand in the way of living life. Those who have suffered so long, without a correct diagnoses, or simply a doctor that gives a damn who’s willing to listen to all the symptoms, everything that has and has not worked, and who will send you to the correct specialists who will help rather than ignore, belittle, suggest hysteria and bill for their complete lack of help or basic empathy. The women on Facebook who smile radiantly in ever photo or selfie they share, despite being between surgeries or in the emergency room, again. You are my inspiration- to get moving, play when I want to sleep, cook when I want to order pizza, and most importantly, spend every precious moment I can with my girls and family, even if I feel like crawling under the covers on the bed to cry in frustration for the immense pain and suffering being endured every minute, hour, day, week, month, by people who long ago deserved a break, and in no way deserve the cancer, autoimmune disorders, seizures, Lyme Disease and other debilitating physical and emotional pain. Yes, I do yell, “Why God!?” I’ve not received an answer. I get more solace and direction from the historical wisdom of Buddha and the truly wonderful, compassionate Dalai Lama.

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2 comments on ““Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

  1. Tracy, you are an inspiration to others who are going through similar pain. I pray that tomorrow brings a sign of relief and respite from the pain. I love you very much!!!
    Love, Mom

    • Thank you Mom! The stellate ganglion nerve blocks were the most painful procedure I’ve undergone since the failed brain surgery. The good news is the doctor who did it was the specialist recommended by the neurosurgeon in Pittsburgh, so at least I’m in the right hands. Thank you for your love and support!

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