Musashi Mix Inq

Palliativity 188: withdrawal

Posted on March 21, 2013

9 years of pills. 5 days of torment. Withdrawl is a bitch.

 300mg Lyrica- twice daily. 6570 pills later, here I am.

In all that time not a single dose missed or else "death by seizures", or so I thought.

Part of the reason that my chronic pain treatment took so long to make progress is that every doctor and specialist over my 15 years in treatment wanted to be the hero. I didn't even have a diagnosis until 5 months ago. Back in 2004, my former general physician saw that a shiny new anti-epileptic/ fibromyalgia med was on it's way over from the EU. He thought that it might cure my condition despite the fact that I had neither of those problems. It did significantly cut down the number of constant stabbing muscle spasms to only a handful, but it was just another palliative thrown on the pile with the others.

The ensuing years have been good times for my liver and my insurance premiums.

As of today, it's been 5 weeks since my RFA procedure for Cervical Facet Syndrome. Last week's follow-up with my doc was amazing. He thought I'd only get a 50-60% positive effect from the procedure. When I told him that it's more like 95%, he geeked-out. He then told me to stop taking Lyrica, cold-turkey—

But, what about the aforementioned "death by seizures"?

"Did you have a seizure disorder before?"

No.

"Then you won't have any. Just stop taking it. I'm gonna go call your general doc to tell him the good news!"

[ Doctor Exits office, stage-left ]

Goddamnit, medicine…

• • •

Withdrawal is a bitch. Imagine 5 days of nausea, jitters, headaches, insomnia and random muscle spasms. My condition went bad for the first time since the procedure. Cold fear gripped my heart once again, but then I remembered. I'm still getting used to this newfound optimism that I would get better, and that I did. Here I am. Better. Stronger. Healthier. Me.

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Filed under: Blog, identity, Pain, RFA No Comments

Palliativity 184: breaking free

Posted on February 20, 2013

I am writing this entry from a new state of consciousness. After 15 years of severe and undiagnosed chronic pain, I have ascended to the land of the living.

No longer am I slave to a constant performance; a well-practiced illusion, an exhausting daily dance. Hope was a struggle. I could try to let go of the rage and the sadness, but never the pain

I am the King of Masks

The Fragile Titan

The Penitent Junkie

The Needle Prophet and Capsule Clown

Just one week after my life changing procedure, I am no longer a prisoner of this torment.

The past few days have been like waking into a dream. Day by day, I am making progress. Progress is something I never thought I could achieve.

Now I am more than just a pile of ash and bone and medical bills. Like the Phoenix, I have been reborn thanks to the laser-blasting fire of modern-fucking-medicine.

People have been asking me how I feel. For the first time in my life, I can actually be honest when answering.

Pain level: 0

Flawless Victory

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Filed under: Blog, identity, Pain, RFA 2 Comments

Palliativity 182: a new hope

Posted on February 7, 2013

MRI of my neck from the left side

“The secret of joy is the mastery of pain.”
― Anaïs Nin —

This blog, Palliativity, started out as a weekly journal on living with severe chronic pain and the things in this world that fascinate me and make my life better despite it. The act of writing my experiences out into the universe sparked a fire to discover a way to get better even after so many disappointments and set-backs in the past. For your support, I am eternally grateful.

And now, for the breakthrough:

It's the sort of miracle I'd all but given up on. The kind of life change that is generally reserved for myth and legend. I think I have finally found a cure for my crippling chronic pain!

Starting in November 2012, I committed myself to finding a life beyond palliatives. I would no longer settle for temporary solutions and the prospect of living this way for an entire lifetime. I've suffered from neck pain since the age of thirteen. More than half of my life has been spent skipping from one dead-end to the next:

  • Surgery
  • Dozens of inconclusive tests and diagnostic exams
  • Over 6 years of rehab total
  • Thousands of pills
  • Chiropractor
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Electorstim
  • Ultrasound
  • Gallons of Bengay
  • Thousands of injections
  • 5 epidurals
  • Countless sleepless nights

All of these palliatives, doctors and specialists and yet no solid diagnosis; no mention of a cure. For a long time I settled for not worse = better. I would remain a prisoner of my body. My hope of a real big happy died long before.

• • •

Sixteen years later, I'm about to climb back out of hell. With a big supportive push from my partner, I stepped up and was ready to try again. Last November I got a new MRI and my first solid diagnosis: Nerve damage on the facet joints of C3-5.

This is what the diagnostic exam looked like

In just 3 months, I went from a diagnosis to a pain medicine specialist who told me that he could cure my pain within the first five minutes of meeting him. The procedure is called Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA). The short definition: Using radio waves to burn out the damaged sensory nerves causing all of my pain. FUCK. YES.

On Monday I had my diagnostic exam to see if I was indeed a candidate for RFA. The night before, my partner and I had many fears and doubts. I couldn't go on this way, both for myself and my partner's sake. If this didn't work, we'd keep looking- at least this would give us more information.

It takes bravery to hope. It takes courage to seek it out.

Under the fluoroscope, the doctor injected novocaine into the C3/4/5 facets in my neck. I'll admit, the procedure wasn't fun. Hearing a needle pop thru multiple layers of your flesh from the inside is a pretty fucked up sensation. Like a raw cavity, the deeper the needle went, the more intense the pain. I felt the cold pressure as the novocaine soaked my nerves. They cleaned me up and sent me back to the recovery room to wait with my partner.

After the doctor left, I sat down holding my partner's hand. "How does it feel?", she asked. I had to take a moment to think that over. What is this new state of consciousness? Not the same sensation of neouropathics, opioids, uppers,  downers or psychotropics. I felt like I was falling up the rabbit hole. NO. PAIN. I felt alive for the first time that I can remember. All of me cried…

Mind you, this was just the exam. I'll be having the real procedure next week. I can't wait.

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The Rebirth Saga:

back-flex

2-20-13 Post-procedure 1

2-28-13 Post-procedure 2

3-14-13 Post-procedure 3

3-21-13 Post-procedure 4

5-30-13 Post-procedure 5

6-12-13 RFA on right side

6-20-13 Post-procedure 1

6-27-13 Post-procedure 2 

10-10-13 Back on track 1

10-17-13 Back on track 2

11-14-13  Reflection

12-04-13 Turning 30

2-12-14 Re-Birthday

4-17-14 Return of the Legend

2-12-15 Re-Birthday 2

2-12-16 Re-Birthday 3

Filed under: Belief, Blog, identity, Pain, RFA 5 Comments

Palliativity 179: seeing red

Posted on January 17, 2013

My heart stops.

For the past four years, I have self administered lidocaine injections daily as a palliative to numb my chronic neck and shoulder pain. Sticking a 3ml syringe into my neck meat took a little getting used to, but it's my only non-narcotic way of feeling normal. I only know of a few people whose doctors have trusted them this much. The only side-effect is that my neck is grey with scar tissue and I look like long-term a vampire snack.

Lidocaine: "the first amino amide–type local anesthetic, was first synthesized under the name xylocaine by Swedish chemist Nils Löfgren in 1943. His colleague Bengt Lundqvist performed the first injection anesthesia experiments on himself. It was first marketed in 1949." -wikipedia

The only catch of this magical tincture is that if I hit a vein and inject, I would die. For that reason, I pull back the plunger every time I dose myself. I have only ever drawn blood 4 times. Each time, panic sets in and I freeze. I slowly pull the syringe from my neck and breathe; like easing off the hammer of a 1911, finger on the trigger.

averaging 4 injections per day x 365 days x 4 years = 5840 injections total

4 times I've hit a vein / 5840 injections = .00068

.068% chance of death if I don't look myself in the mirror

My heart stops…

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Filed under: Blog, Pain No Comments

Palliativity 178: Alive Day Memories

Posted on January 10, 2013

The very not a toy gun that was pulled on me:

It was one year ago, Saturday January 7, 2012 at 6:30PM that I made the panicked call to 911.

After teaching a judo class to kids with disabilities and wounded veterans, I planned to take the subway to meet my partner downtown for a concert. After I entered the turnstile,  three black youths grabbed at me, trying to steal my iPhone. I pick and rolled past them, and turned around with my hands held out and open. Then the leader pulled a gun from his jacket.

I ran.

Looking over my shoulder, the three men chased me. The gun was out in the open now, pointed at my back. GO GO GO!

Reaching the stairs, I flew down praying hard: THIS IS NOT HOW IT ENDS! I dropped my judo bag to trip them up as I decended.

I took one last look back up and saw the gunman atop the stair…

In total disbelief of being alive, I got safely down on the platform- back against the wall.

No shots rang out. They did not follow me down.

Miraculously as I was calling the police, a National Guard in full tactical gear and a sidearm came to my aid. He rushed back upstairs, apprehended and cuffed my three attackers single-handedly.

I stayed on the line until a policeman came and retrieved me. Each step I ascended was a gift. When I reached the top of the stairs, the station was filled with men in blue with flashing lights of red. My three attackers stood there cuffed and surrounded.

The gunman with tears in his eyes pleaded with me, "Tell em, I dint do nothin!"

The policeman asked me to identify the men.

With fire and cold vengeance I said, "These are them. All three of them. (pointing) The crying one had the gun. YOU'RE ALL FUCKED NOW! It's over."

I left the train station with my police escort. I climbed into the back of his chevy tank that sat in the Apple Store fountain.

I asked the officer if I could make a phone call on our way to the station. Shaking, I looked out the window as we passed by the white and glass Apple cathedral as we reentered trafic.

I dialed my partner, "Don't panic. I'm okay now, but…"

From start to end, this all transpired in a mere five minutes.

Along the course of this past year of courtrooms and telling my story over and over, the three assailants were all found guilty.

• • •

It just so happens that a year to the day of the incident, Karma walked into the room.

Back at the dojo this past Monday, our friendly neighborhood cop stopped by. He himself is a martial artist and was at the station the night of my attack. On this day, the Officer came in with a young black man in tow. He introduced the kid, saying he was a bright young man from the neighborhood. The kid comes from a difficult family situation and is in need of more positive role models, discipline as well a healthy outlet.

Like I said: Pure Karma.

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Palliativity 175: Viral Meltdown 2012

Posted on December 20, 2012

Count-down to the Apocalypse

Meme's just want to have fun… and take over the world.

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