Thursday, August 09, 2012

Hypnotize me

I've been to two hypnosis sessions. Originally I was hoping it would help with the pain, and also assist me with sleep, anxiety, and anger management. Well, she's 2 for 4. I am notably less angry and anxious, while also still in pain and having trouble sleeping.

Hypnosis isn't like in the movies. No swinging watches. You are just assisted into a very relaxed state, and then the hypnotist talks to you, suggesting, for example, that when you get angry or anxious, you take a deep breath and return to that very relaxed state you're currently in.

That's been happening, and it's needed to, because life is mighty stressful right now. The knee pain is still very bad. My disability appeal was initially denied, and I had to scramble to get in all 40 or so pages of relevant paperwork. Because the appeal was denied, I got a very unfriendly letter from the administration, telling me I had to return to work immediately -- even though the doctor at Employee Health still considered me unfit for duty. (When you work in a hospital system and you get sick, you can't go back to work until a doctor declares you fit for duty.)

So that is uncomfortable and frightening. But I'm doing everything I can. I went back to Dr. Dashing in ferocious pain, perhaps in tiny part because I went to sing karaoke with friends the night before. Trust me, I didn't dance or stand nearly as much as I usually do. And I needed to get out. When you're not depressed, staying at home alone all the time is depressing. Also, it was extremely gratifying to see all heads whip around when I started belting out the chorus of "Since U Been Gone." I was declared the queen of karaoke, which I already knew, but it's nice to be confirmed.

The next day, I limped into Dr. Dashing's office, telling him my back was better but my knees were on fire. He hasn't given me any painkillers stronger than Voltaren gel, which constipates me handily but doesn't do much for the pain. I'd gone to two physical therapy sessions with a therapist who didn't believe my popliteus was the problem. He made me do strengthening exercises, and I was in pain for the next seven hours, until I put a Klonopin between my cheek and gum and sedated myself.

I got more than the sacroiliac injection we had discussed. Dr. Dashing had read up about a knee injection procedure he could also do, since the PT wasn't helping. Normally you wouldn't be able to get everything injected in just one visit, because insurance won't cover it, but Dr. Dashing took the opportunity to educate another fellow, who, oddly, had the same last name -- Epstein -- as the one I met at my first visit. Dr. Dashing ultrasounded and injected the left knee, and Dr. Epstein did the right knee. See one, do one, teach one.

The experience was simultaneously intimate and impersonal. I lay on my stomach, panties rolled most of the way down, and at any given time up to three doctors palpated, poked, prodded, and injected.

"I'm curious..." said Dr. Dashing. I assumed he was talking about the prominent mole on my behind.

"It's benign and atypical," I said.

"Excuse me?" he asked, poking at my back.

"Ow," I said.

"There," he said. "Still tender. You said your back is feeling better now that you're done with the Bactrim, but this is still abnormally tender." Abnormally tender could refer to so many physical and emotional parts of me.

But the best part was when he ultrasounded my left knee and saw excess fluid.

"Whoa," he said. "There's a lot of fluid there."

"Thank ya, Jesus!" I crowed. A lot of my patients say this when they're really grateful. I don't know why it slipped out. It seemed to disconcert him. "Or Moses," he said.

"Do you know why it's there?" I asked. He didn't, and didn't seem curious. But that doesn't even really matter. Now I have proof that there is something wrong. Something that wasn't visible on my February 2012 ultrasound. Proof that there is a reason for my pain.

Of course, having proof is good, but having relief would be better. He said the injections would take about two weeks to reach full efficacy. The first two days were agony -- I don't know how many needle sticks I endured, but from what I overheard while I lay prone, it was quite a few. Now I'm a teensy bit better, but still in pain. Wearing knee braces helps, but I still wake up to urinate (despite the Bactrim and a few weeks on Macrobid) a few hours after falling asleep, and then can't fall back to sleep.

Which was something the hypnotist targeted. "If you wake up to use the bathroom, when you return to bed you will immediately return to a deep relaxed state and easily fall back asleep," she said. (I think -- it's hard to pay attention when you're that relaxed, and you don't really need to because supposedly they're talking to your subconscious anyway.)

That sort of happened last night. But not tonight, which is why I'm blogging at 5:30 am. I don't want to get into the habit of taking Klonopin every night.

Still, I'm in a fairly good mood -- even though I'm in pain, even though I'm barely sleeping, even though I'm extremely nervous about supposedly returning to work next week. I'm cheerful. My friends are bending over backwards to be nice to me. Alona got me a fantastic book by one of my favorite authors. Harriet is taking me to a fantastic New Jersey museum as a belated birthday gift. (We're going to borrow a wheelchair, and I could never get there by mass transit. She's even picking me up at home. Full service.) Other friends are hanging out with me, calling me, having coffee or dinner with me. Or inviting me to dinner at their homes.

If my job and pain were bearable, I think I'd actually be pretty happy with my life. As it is, I know that being angry or anxious won't help anything. Even though I'm terrified of losing my job, my independence, and my rent-stabilized apartment. But I'm doing everything I can to restore my health and comply with all the various systems -- union, administration, and disability insurance. I'm trying to enjoy life a little, going out with friends while still trying to rest. Yesterday I saw my psychiatrist and then went to a seminar on trauma. 

So things could be worse. I don't want to lose my job, I'm looking for another job, but I'm not stressing about it. I'm doing the best I can, and I have to be happy with that.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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