Two weeks ago I woke to the sound of a painful moan. Looking about the room I realized that the moan had emanated from me. As I attempted to roll over and push the dog out-of-the-way, I was struck with a searing pain in my right leg unlike anything I had experienced before. It was rather shocking, as most of the time my right leg is in a state of perpetual numbness. I finally got Gus off the bed, and made my way to the edge, as I put my legs on the floor and attempted to stand the pain was so intense that I fell head long into the wall. Gasping and grappling for something to hold onto, I found my cane and flopped back onto the bed. As I laid there for what seemed an eternity, the pain increased, shooting down the leg, through my backside, and up into the lower part of my ribcage.
Over the years I have treated my body like a temple of doom, having broken numerous bones, dislocating varied joints, straining and spraining more ligaments and tendons than I can count. This pain however was more than anything I had known before, and totally foreign. After finally catching my breath I dragged myself over to the walker that my wonderful physical therapist, Kristen, had ordered. When she first told me that I need to have one I was hesitant, and a tad pissed at the idea that at 52 I needed a walker. But on this painful morn I was glad that it was there.
After suffering and stumbling through my morning routine – dog, coffee, and bathroom, I settled in for a long day. Every time I attempted to move I was hit with this incredible agony, and forced to park myself in a chair. At first I thought I had slept wrong, and had simply pinched something in my back. I have a variety of problems with spinal stenosis in my neck and low back, so it made sense to me that I had twisted something while sleeping. Being one that doesn’t care for doctors that much, I figured I could wait a few days and see how things progressed. This was a Wednesday morning, and by Friday at noon the pain had not subsided, but rather was increasing. So I swallowed hard and called the doctor.
I described to the nurse all that was going on, and that my research into my problem led me to believe that it was probably sciatica. She listened sympathetically, and then informed me that Dr. Seele, my primary care doctor, was on vacation until the following week. There was one appointment open for this past Friday, June 15th, and I could come in to see her then. The appointment was set, and I was told that if the pain became too intense to tolerate I should go to the emergency room. Not being one that desires to tie up the limited resources of an ER, I opted to hang on and muddle through the pain until my appointment.
The 15th came, and I spent an agonizing hour sitting and waiting for Dr. Seele. Between not being able to get comfortable sitting, and the constant shooting pain in my rear and leg it was hell. When she and I were able to sit and discuss my situation, I described and explained all that was going on. She agreed with me that it did sound like a classic case of sciatica, and that from her end, there really was nothing she could do. Fortunately I already had an appointment with the pain clinic for 20th, and Dr. Seele sent them a request to have them look at the problem with my leg. She also ordered another round of physical therapy for me, and renewed my prescriptions for my medications. She was very sympathetic with regard to my situation, having suffered herself from sciatica.
One of the things that she explained to me was that it is a condition that often corrects itself without any action on the part of the patient. But, she warned that it could be a day or two, or months. A friend of mine told me that he dealt with sciatica for nearly eight years, when suddenly one morning he woke and the pain was gone. Another acquaintance said that he dealt with it for six months and was days away from having surgery to correct the problem when suddenly the pain stopped.
The other day friends were over helping me do some yard work, I am still cleaning out years of neglect to my back yard, and as I attempted to walk through the back, I was hit with this sudden surge of white-hot pain through the leg and fell head long into the dirt. Fortunately I missed the “land mine” from the dog by a foot, but I did dump the wheelbarrow over. One of my friends brought a chair for me, and I told them I didn’t need a chair, but to give me a minute to catch my breath. I tried to get up, but again fell face first, only this time into the chair that had been placed before me. So, I guess I did need the chair after all.