Saturday, September 17, 2011


This is NOT the post I wanted to write but there you go.

On Thursday last, I left the house in a bit of  a hurry and, in so doing, donned a pair of shorts that were comfortable in a previous, less adipositive existence.  I went to Fulton, the next town over, did a very quick chore at a friend's commercial building, stopped by his office and dropped off the keys and then went home.  Gone from the house an hour, tops.

By the time I got back to the house, it was all I could do to hobble up the stairs, shuck the uni of the day and get prone.  Sciatica, for those of you who have not been unfortunate enough to have it is probably second cousin to waterboarding in the torture department--except when you're being waterboarded you don't WANT to die.

On friday, after a truly miserable night, I called the Syracuse VA ER and asked them what the protocols were for coming there.  They told me I had to speak to my PCP, first and follow his directions.  I put in a call to the PCP (talked to the nurse, a very nice and competent young woman) and told them what had happened and that I needed two prescriptions, one for Peroxicam and one for Lyrica or something else that would attenuate nerve pain.  This was at about 8:30 AM.  Finally, three phone tags later, at about 4:40 I was told that the doctor would write a scrip for Meloxicam (a better version, so they say, of the Peroxicam formulation) and 5/500 Hydrocodone tablets (they're sort of like white M&M's except they don't taste good and they lock up my guts like a bag of Sakrete).  Well, what're ya gonna do?  Okay, so when will I get the meds?  8-10 days. 

Well, that sorta sucked, but I used some leftovers from other bouts (never sure about the efficacy of three year old pharma) and got through the weekend.  Monday, I went to the local clinic to plead my case, talked to the same nurse (whose only the messenger--I blame her for nothing) and told her I had a history of sciatica and not one, but two, MRI's and a four yeart old x-ray, plus the radiologists and surgeon's notes to back it up.  I asked could we not just do a CT scan (quicker and cheaper, though not as definitive as an  MRI) to see if there were significant apparent changes in my S1-L5 spine.  I was told that they would schedule an x-ray and go from there. 

To get the x-ray I had to go Syracuse VA, unless I wanted to pull several non-existent Benjamins out of my pocket for the local hospital to do it.  So, I drove to Syracuse, hobbled into the medical center, had a nice lady force me into a wheelchair and push me to the Imaging departrment and got maybe 5 views.  At this point I was in enough pain to want other people to suffer with me.  But, instead I went down to the ER and sat there for about three and a half hours while they took care of other folks.  Now, sitting under a sign that says "Triage" and watching them take people with a fucking headcold in ahead of you, who are pretty much writhing in agony in a wheelchair, is somewhat ironic to say the least, but I'm nothing if not fucking POLITE, so I writhed more or less quietly. 

Finally, I got wheeled into the treatment area and put on a gurney.  After the preliminaries I got an ER doc (Oh, yeah, they asked THREE times if I had an x-ray, an x-ray which the nice lady in the imaging unit told me would be there in about twenty minutes from the time she took it--digital, cool!)  who checked me for a hernia (Okay, I admit it reminded me of HS--or maybe it was from when I was an Altar boy, I get confused, sometimes)  had me do some range of motion stuff and a couple of strength tests and then announced that it wasn't sciatica but, instead, a groin pull.  This was determined from the fact that I was experiencing pain similar to someone having shoved a piece of re-bar through my groin/hip area at approximately the mid-lines of the x-y axes of a line between my pubic bone and the outside of my hip bone and a line between my femur cap and my rib cage.  This was also determined in the absence of any bruising, swelling or localized tissue heating.  He intimated, in so many words, that I had given the PCP incorrect information and that I had reported a symptom as if it were a diagnosis, confusing the issue.  So, in other words, I was wasting the time and resources of his unit by being a crybaby and (just my opinion here) shopping for meds. 

I told him that I needed something for the pain and that Lyrica was the best thing that I had ever tried, as if killed the pain without any significant side effects for me.   He explained that they could not write that scrip as there is a continuum of pharma that they must adhere to and that the ER does not write for that medication.  So, of course he gave me 5/500 of oxycodone (the bitter white, M&M's), enough to last four days, supposedly and--thank CHRIST, he at least got this right--, 10 x 15mg of Meloxicam.  It only took me about twenty minutes to make the four minute walk to my truck in the parking lot. 

Wednesday morning I called the VA clinic, here, and told them that I had gone to the ER and was still in a lot of pain as the Oxycodone does nothing for nerve pain (in my experience) unless I take about EIGHT times the dose they have me on.  Well, the doctor, whom I have not seen or talked to, does not agree with me.  So, I ask if they want to see my MRI's and maybe, y'know, get a new one.  They said that would be a good idea, so I spent a painful hour or two moving things to find them (full disclosure, I am not a housekeeping sorta person) and drove them over to the clinic.  I ran a couple of errands, socialized (no alcohol) with some friends for a bit and then went back home and spent the rest of the night horizontal and feelin' shitty.

On Thursday, this is after 7 days of suffering,I got a call from the doctor, at 8:06 in the morning.  I could not reach the phone from my bed and by the time I got it, it had gone to message.   He said I should call himn back, which I did immediately.  Still no return call from him.   I then went online to check the status of my prescriptions that had been written last friday. They had been cancelled. It seems that the pharmacy in the VA hospital had "filled" them by processing the ER scripts.  I laid around the house in various "twister" poses trying to find one that hurt less than others until about 4:00PM.  The nurse called me back to tell me that the ER doc's report says that I am dealing with "spinal arthritis and a hip sprain"--not 'zacky what he told me--and that they would not be scheduling an MRI because it wasn't indicated.  I was also told that I could try six weeks of PT--in Syracuse--and if that didn't work that they would then schedule further tests.  I explained to the nurse that I could not afford to drive back and forth to Syracuse 3 times a week.  Okay, they said, well, there you are.  She agreed with me that my meds should not have been cancelled and that she would rewrite them and have them sent overnight (that would have really been nice LAST week).

Thursday night; wow, just not something I want to dwell on, or all day yesterday.  At about 1:30 in the afternoon I called the clinic and told them that the meds were not doing jack and that I was going to see if I could find somebody to drive me back down to the ER--me knowing and her agreeing that it might not do any good.  As it turned out that didn't happen and I spend last night wishing I had some heroin.  I did take a double dose of the Meloxicam (a very strong NSAID--the usual dose is 7.5mg/day) and crawled back into bed.  After another night of laying flat on my back, doing a lot of whimpering, I finally got to sleep around 5:30 AM.  While lying in pain I managed to find an ESPN broadcast of the Sox/Rays game (Sox WIN, Sox WINNNNN!!!!) and I think it did as much to alleviate the pain as the worthless oxy dosage.  When I got out of bed this morning, fully expecting to have to crawl to the bathroom, I was surprised to find that the incredible pain I had experienced when simply standing up had abated.  It's still sore as hell, but that I can live with.

Now, the part that is interesting is that the "groin pain" and the "hip pain" just don't exist, this morning.  A mystery of modern medicine, you say?  A miracle of modern pharma, you say?  Or is it that the "hip" and "groin" pains were symptoms of a diagnosis of sciatica?  Gosh, I wonder if any of the people who never looked at me or never looked at my history or the imaging that I offered them will admit that maybe, just maybe, I DID know wtf I was talking about--Nah, that wouldn't be the AMAway.

This screed, btw, is not an indictment of the VA in particular or the medical profession in general.  It is just me kvetching that healthcare providers in general and doctors, very much in particular, don't fucking LISTEN to their patients when their patients' "self-diagnosis" offends their sense of medical sciency knowing-it-alliness.

I just took the dog for a walkshitmarkin'therealm and he's all, like, "Man, are you over the screemin' shit--I worry about you when your eyes roll back in your head and you start talkin' in tongues.  Makes me think you might go all KKKristian on my ass!".  It's good to know that his perspective on what's important in life--water, food, shelter and layin' around sleepin' with his little doggy legs pumpin' while he growls and woofs--does not change in a world gone mad.


Rev.Paperboy said...

comrade Democommie!
As a fellow sciatica sufferer, i know exactly how shitty a week you have had. It has been a couple or three years since my last full on attack of spasming agony, but I remember the worst part of being that it was hay fever season at the time and every time I sneezed, my lower back muscles would convulse and do their best to rearrange my vertebrae, leading me to use language that was less than genteel at excessive volumes. Fortunately, all my Japanese neighbours were too polite (or terrified of the giant screaming foreigner) to complain about the regular "aaachooo-YEOOUCH!!COCKSUCKINGMOTHERFUCKERINGSHITSHITSHIT!" drifting out my window about every 15 minutes.
I don"t even bother with the doctors anymore, I just eat a handful of the strongest over-the-counter pain and muscle relaxant stuff they will sell me when I stagger into the pharmacy looking like human question mark, put some ice on it and lie flat on the floor on my back with my knees up and try not to think about how much it will hurt to try to get up when I inevitably have to go to the bathroom.

democommie said...


I will have to try that mantra next time. I have others, far, far worse but sometimes the rhythm of a particular spiritual chant works better than others.

Poor Buddy was completely freaked, but now that I'm back to chopping up delicacies for his dinner he's like, "Oh, yeah, you are one badassmofo, you kicked that sciatica's butt off!".

I have had several people tell me that it's too bad I had to lay down to feel better. I've corrected them. I laid down because I could not stand up or sit down without falling over.

Yep, aging with crotchety bodyparts is a pain in the ass. Not as bad as not aging, but y'know...

We are a "Bamd of Brothers". Twisted, bent, stapled, mutilated, insufficiently medicated and overly politicized, but brothers, none the less! Be well.

Anonymous said...

Just remember: we have the BEST healthcare in the entire WORLD! Also, we {heart} the troops!

Lather, rinse, repeat! It won't make YOUR pain go away but it might make Republicans feel better.

democommie said...

Southern Beale:

You know, I repeated that several times and, BY GOD, I feel better! OH, wait, no, what I said was "Fuck the GOP, 4evah!". It worked!

Check out Rev. Paperboy's blog sometime. He's a very smart, nice man who is a tremendous pain in the ass to Canadian reichwingers.

Buddy's had his walk, he's napping now to recuperate so's he can hike all the way to the second floor for nite-nites.

Laci The Dog said...

This sucks. I hope you get better.

I repeat SoBeale's comment about the US having the best health care in the world.

democommie said...


Thanks, I am feeling much better than I was a week ago. I'm still stiff and sore, but at least I can move around and drive. I did a little work on tuesday and paid for it wednesday so I'm still not back to my usual decrepit self, but I think I'm moving in the right direction.