So it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve blogged. It was hard to think of what to write after sharing that last story. I felt rather exposed and vulnerable, and the responses were so wonderfully positive and kind – thank you, dear ones!
I saw the pain management specialist exactly two weeks ago, and we had a nice long talk. We’re going to try treating the ligaments in my cervical spine with prolotherapy. Prolo is a series of injections into the tissue, where the doctor introduces a solution into the fibers that irritate them, triggering them to heal the irritation. The reason this works well for ligaments is that this healing process makes them tighten up. You know how you can stretch a rubber band way out, but then it will never return to its original, unstretched size? The ligaments are the same way, and mine are too loose in every joint of my body. But right now, it’s the ones in my neck that are triggering all kinds of pain. We’re initially planning a series of three prolo sessions for the neck, at $500 each, not covered by insurance. I’ve got about $500 left in my flexible spending account for this year, so I’ll be paying out of pocket for the second and third. And that for the privilege of lying on my belly under the x-ray machine and having the doc stick needles into my neck over and over and over and over…
Meanwhile, the latest of the narcotic painkillers had started to keep me awake at night. I discovered this with percocet last year after my shoulder surgery, and now darvocet does the same thing. It will zonk me out for about 45 minutes, and then wake me up for six hours or so. I tried to avoid taking those anyway, but that little wrinkle stinks. I’m now taking a muscle relaxant and an SNRI that is indicated for chronic pain. Words cannot express how much I really really really really really really did not want to go back onto psychoactive medications. But it really is helping with the brain fog that has accompanied the pain for the last eighteen months, and is probably helping with the dark clouds of despair that loom every so often when the pain gets exhausting. And… it’s not neurontin. Or an anti-psychotic. I hated being on those. And also… it reduces appetite somewhat, which is nice, because I can stand to lose some weight.
I have an appointment next week to be evaluated for allergy testing, and possibly allergy shots. This year’s allergy season has been brutal in southeastern Virginia, and I now hold prescriptions for four different medications to manage mine, not including the asthma inhaler. I’m only taking two on a daily basis right now, but I’d really like to be able to reduce that. So yes, I’m about to ask for the privilege of being stuck with lots MORE needles. I must be insane.
In three weeks, my fiance is coming for a monthlong visit. It should be really good for us, and we’re likely to have our first really real argument. We’re both interested to see how that goes – doesn’t that sound totally bizarre? – to see how we react and what we say to each other and how it all goes down. I’m sure the debrief – after making up, of course – will be interesting. While he’s here, we’re going to road-trip with the kids down to Florida to visit my grandparents. I’m looking forward to this, as my grandfather has not been doing well this year.
This week is the monthly program management review at work, and it will be the first one I haven’t been enmeshed in for two years. Even the couple I didn’t attend (physically or by phone), I still had all kinds of preparation work to do for management. But this month, I’m finally at work in my “new” software development position, the one that I officially transferred to on January 19. It is very different to work on one big thing for days on end, rather than on lots of little things. I’m used to pacing myself by all the deliverables, and I’m remembering how much more self-motivated one has to be to make progress every day toward one large goal instead of being able to accomplish several smaller things each day. But I’m enjoying the creation, the problem-solving, the feeling of power at making the computer do what I tell it to do. And I’m really proud of the data model I developed. It is a work of beauty.
I finally came to the decision that my temporary hiatus from the choir will no longer be temporary. I had sensed that the choir loft was not the place where I belong right now, and the last several months seem to have borne this out. I adore our choir, and I do miss that community, but it has been so wonderful to worship in the pews again. I’m getting to know more people in the parish now – and to smile at the ones who say, “You’ve been here a year? How come I don’t know you?!?” because during most of that year, I was sitting behind and above them in the choir loft. So I’m now on the roster as a chalice-bearer, as well as a lector and healing prayer minister, and I serve in this role for the first time on Sunday. I am also so blessed to be participating in the ministry of making eucharistic visits, which can be hard but is so powerful.
When I step out of my car onto the grounds of the church, I feel so alive. It is hard to describe, even knowing that my parish lives on a very thin place. I begin to smile, to walk upright, to feel a spring in my step. Music plays through my head, and if I don’t pay attention, I begin to sing or hum. I am completely filled with love and awe, and I can see these flowing from me to the people around me. The music, the prayers, the readings – these all lift me up even higher. And when we reach the eucharistic prayer, I am close to a state of ecstasy. All of this is a powerful confirmation (and consolation) for me, that I’m on the right path. I’m also a little afraid, because I know a little bit about how God works, and I know that a time of great consolation is always followed by (if it’s not happening at the very same time as) a period of great desolation. So I’m trying to soak in and soak up all the joy and ecstasy that my body can hold, to sustain me when I have to enter the desert again.
This afternoon, I’m having a hard time being in the moment, because tomorrow at 5pm EDT is my first prolotherapy session, and I’m a bit nervous about it. I didn’t do so well when I had the facet joint injections in December, and this is a fairly similar procedure from the patient’s end. The doctor – who is the single most hypermobile patient that the director of the pain management practice has ever met – is undergoing prolo for all of her joints, and she told me to expect the discomfort for the two or three days after each procedure to be roughly the same as one of my worst pain days. Well, my worst pain days totally suck, so I’m not looking forward to that. And there’s lots to be done around the house – there’s always lots to be done around the house! – and work and family and just plain ol’ living. So, well, that’s just where I am right now. If you think about it tomorrow, could you please send up a prayer for me?
Thank you, my friends. God’s peace be with you.