Monday, May 19, 2008

Pain Management

a blurred world of painI stopped cycling for two weeks after the Oregon Fleche due to crippling sciatic nerve pain. My sciatic nerve has been giving me trouble all year but after I was unable to continue my third physical therapy session for lumbar traction, the therapist sent me back to the doctor.

The pain was so bad I was unable to walk into a store from the parking lot. My doctor, who is a biker, told me not to give up on my summer plans yet. My doctor ordered an MRI and three days later I was in the MRI machine. I was almost completely crippled when I went for the MRI. I had to lay down on the feeder tube, a position that my sciatic nerve especially hates. So there I was for a half hour with my sciatic nerve screaming bloody murder with head phones in my ear blaring Gospel music to cover the pounding thuds of the MRI machine. When the MRI tray spit me out, I had a hell of a hard time getting out of the input tray. My doctor got the radiologists report, none of which I could understand as it was written in a completely foreign language. My doctor referred me to a pain management clinic with an MD and DO.

Three days later I was in the pain management clinic and saw the MD who looked at my MRI. He explained my MRI at a computer screen with really nifty software that split the screen four different ways and zoomed and moved, wow! I was standing the whole time and I heard bits and pieces between the screams from my sciatic nerve.

My L4 disk is impinging my sciatic nerve. The good MD prescribed some medication to silence my hysterical sciatic nerve and told me that patients who stay active and do what they normally do have a better outcome than patients who curl up in pain. Most importantly he told me there was no reason not ride my bike. Heh, I can't walk 100 feet but I can randonneur 800 miles. I'll look pretty pathetic limping through the controls all bent over and crippled.

If my sciatic nerve keeps screaming at me, I'll get one to three pairs of injections. One needle, the doctor called it a pin, goes into the L4 disk and sciatic nerve junction and another pin, or injection, goes up from the L5 disk into the lower portion of the L4 disk. The injections sound like fun, no? And if my sciatic nerve is still acting up after injections, I can get surgery that is minimally invasive and recovery usually takes a couple of days. I guess that's OK as long as it all fits before TourBC and RM1200.

I think it is pretty good to go through an MRI, PT and three doctors visits in less than two weeks. The quick medical response is entirely due to my good wife who knows a lot more than me. But I'm not sure how far down the medical treatment road this damned sciatic nerve will take me but, I'm still going to ride my Oregon Blue Mountains n Six Easy Pieces. Doc says I can ride so damn the pain and saddle them bikes boys, we're gonna ride them Oregon Blue Mountains like true randonneurs!