Friday, July 10, 2009


Pain. It’s been controlling my life for the last two months. I haven’t been able to do much of anything except work on finding comfortable positions and taking pain pills.

Let me start by saying that I will admit to having a very low pain tolerance. I’m a whimp when it comes to things that hurt. Blood draws cause anxiety, paper cuts can require neosporin and bandaids, and pump site changes require some serious mind over matter.

About two months ago I was exercising. I was lifting weights, and decided to “add in” some time on the elliptical trainer between sets. I didn’t have any shoes on, but didn’t stop and think that might lead to a problem. Which it did. I fell off the trainer and felt a muscle twinge in my right leg. I had pulled my hamstring. I took advil and babied it for about 10 days. Then it seemed to be feeling better. I didn’t think about it. Until 3 weeks ago. I started having serious pain in my hamstring, specifically in the places where it attaches to my pelvis and behind by knee. I was taking advil in mass doses, but it just seemed to get worse and worse.

I am not a fan of western medicine. I don’t have a “primary care doctor.” I see my endocrinologist twice a year, and she has agreed to do the things that a primary care doctor would manage. (cholesterol check, liver enzymes, etc.) I’m lucky that I don’t get sick very often. If I do have an infection I generally just go to urgent care, get some meds, and go on.

I have a large circle of friends who practice alternative medicine. When my leg was really hurting I had someone kinesio-tape my leg. I had several sessions of mayofacial release. I took epsom baths. I increased some vitamins. I had some relief from all of those strategies, but not enough. I was nervous about seeing an MD. I was convinced that my problem was just a pulled muscle and low pain tolerance. I hate going to urgent care because I usually get the “oh.... you have diabetes. Your problem is because of that.”

Two weeks ago I dragged myself to urgent care. The doctor pulls up my records and says, “Oh, you have diabetes and have had it for a long time. Do you take insulin?” Um, yeah.. I have type 1. She asks if I took insulin this week. Crap. This week?!?! My pump probably gave me some basal insulin 30 seconds ago, lady! Then she asks if I test my blood sugar. Again I say yes. She asks if I’ve checked this week. Argh. (see my frustration with western medicine?) Now let me also share that I am standing in the room, and she has my chart pulled up on her computer. The first paragraph at the top (which I eavesdropped and read while she was reading it) says, “excellent controlled type 1 diabetes.” Seems stupid that she asked those diabetes questions with that information kind of information about me.

This doctor decides that I need a Doppler study to rule out a blood clot and cyst behind my knee. Of course, they don’t do that at the clinic, so I need to drive over to the hospital to have it done. They do the study and the doctor calls me on the phone in the lobby. She says the tests were negative and she would prescribe narcotics and physical therapy. Later that afternoon the scheduler calls with two PT appointments.

For the record, my clinic is about 50 minutes away from my house. There is another branch that is about 40 minutes away. I choose to do the PT there.

I show up for my first appointment. The PT has no idea why I’m in so much pain. He works on my for 30 minutes and then tells me to come back tomorrow so that he can do more evaluation. I do. He is still perplexed.

On Monday I called the orthopedic department. They offered me an appointment on Tuesday. I went in. The doctor thought that I had tendonOsis. Apparently that is tendonitis that has stopped healing. He sent me for an MRI. I did that on Tuesday night. Wednesday, I saw him. He said that I had swelling in my bursa where the hamstring attaches, consistent with tendonitis. The treatment for tendonitis is large doses of prednisone. Not great for someone with diabetes. Even worse for someone who is allergic to insulin and will have to take lots of it to manage the increased blood sugars from the prednisone. He was concerned the tendonitis diagnosis didn’t explain all my pain. So he sent me to another MRI for my lumbar region.

I had that done yesterday afternoon. Turns out that I have a herniated disc. (or is it spelled “disk” ... ?) The tech brings me back to a room and says that the neurosurgeon is going to give me a spinal epidural shot to relieve the pain and hopefully help the disc/disk to heal on its own.

Have you ever had a shot in your spine?!?!? It hurts. A lot. It also is a steroid shot so it does crazy things to blood sugars.

I’m feeling less painful today. I guess it was worth it.

I’m supposed to being heading to Canada in less than three weeks for a canoe trip in the Quetico Provincial Park.

I’m hope that my body starts healing now.

I'm afraid of living with chronic pain.