Tabled. For Now.

So I received some pretty unsettling news yesterday. I had my post-op follow-up with the pain management doctor and she seemed just as disappointed with the results of last month’s nerve block injection as I was, and still am. Or lack thereof, I should say. I hadn’t been too keen on the idea of the nerve block to begin with, but I had still hoped that it would work. After all the hell and the bullshit of these past 18 months—all the failed medications and inconclusive tests, the doctors and specialists, the vision therapy, and the acupuncture—I was (and still am) more than ready for it all to be over with. If that meant some simple yet painful needle and injection into the nerves above my eyes—then so be it. But, and as always seems to be the case, it didn’t take. Just another example of my shitty luck, in a string of so many.


We agreed to try the second nerve injection, seeing that I already had the authorization for it from the insurance and that it wouldn’t hurt any to at least try. So that’ll be happening again sometime in the upcoming 2 weeks or so. I’m not at all looking forward going through that again (though I’ll definitely be asking the doctor to give the local some time to do its job and numb things up a bit BEFORE he sticks that needle into the new nerve — but if it works—or if it at least decreases the intensity or frequency of these headaches to some degree—it’ll be worth it. The doctor didn’t sound too hopeful, though.


She talked about the more invasive, surgical approach—the implant—and said that I was a really good candidate for it. It’s called an Occipital Peripheral Nerve Stimulator and for those of you who aren’t familiar, picture a pacemaker…but a little different. She (the doctor) didn’t really talk much about it, only to give me the basics—probably for the fact that when she turned around to ask when I’d like to schedule the procedure, she found me still shaking my head no – which I hadn’t stopped doing ever since the moment she started talking about the approach. From an outsider’s perspective, it was actually a pretty comical moment… me shaking my head “no” and her nodding hers “yes” for a good 30 seconds, at least. Surprisingly—and thankfully—she didn’t push the subject. She just wrote down the name of the procedure, told me to “Google It”, and that we could table that particular discussion at one of my next appointments. I’m grateful that she’s not one of those doctors that push you into agreeing to some crazy surgery that you 1) have no guarantee will even work; and 2) that you haven’t had the opportunity or time to research it for yourself enough to make an informed decision.


That said, I did do some reading on the procedure when I got home and well, as you can imagine, it was a little overwhelming. The good news is that the procedure has an 80-90 percent success rate at completely and/or significantly reducing the frequency of the headaches, as well de-intensifying the pain. Those are some pretty impressive odds, I have to admit. But then again, I haven’t had the track record when it comes to luck and odds, whereas this whole thing is concerned. After all, when it comes to the statistics, less than 5 percent of people that sustain a head injury or concussion go on to suffer permanently from post-concussive headaches and other PCS symptoms. The other 95 percent have no lasting issues and the symptoms go away completely by 6 months to a year after the initial injury, if not sooner. Those were some pretty good odds, too … and we all know how well that turned out. Obviously. I think I’d feel a little more comfortable with the procedure if there were a guarantee of some sort. Even just a little one. Something. Anything to at least back up somehow or support the justification of allowing them to cut into the back of my head.


But there aren’t any guarantees. However, there are some risks, many of which are similar to having any kind of surgery done. Things can go wrong on the table. Things like my blood pressure (which for some reason tend to always run a little low) crashing (it’s happened a couple of times in the past actually) or misplacement of the electrodes or – knock on wood – possibly even death. Though I guess in terms of ways to go, completely unaware and unconscious isn’t that bad.


In light of my hesitation on the surgery, we’re going to try a few more options. That means another nerve block and then possibly Botox injections—another approach I’m not too keen on—but far less invasive than surgery. I know a few people who get the Botox shots every few months and they’ve seen some radical improvement. Maybe I’ll get lucky and catch a break with Botox, who knows. So surgery is on the backburner, at least for right now. I don’t want to make any rash decisions without really knowing what I’m getting myself into this time. As they say, it doesn’t hurt to be a little cautious.


So we’ll see and hopefully my next update will have some better news. Until then. Signing off … xoMESSIE

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Guilt-Soaked Goodbyes.

Guilt. It’s a tricky little thing. Just an itty bitty five letter word, but oh how quickly it can bring you to your knees…


**

I’m leaving soon; heading back home to Tennessee. I have one last follow-up with my primary care doctor next week, and then I’ll FINALLY be done with all these doctors…hopefully. As much as I would love to say that I’m cured and the headaches are gone…I can’t. Because I’m not and they aren’t. I’m still getting them on a regular basis…about every other day or so. And it really depends on the day how bad/intolerable they are. Some days I get lucky and I manage to take the meds in time either before or just as one is coming on and I catch a break and the headache’s not too bad. I’ll still have it—I’ll still feel miserable as all hell…but at least I can work through it. Unlike the bad days when I’m not so lucky and it doesn’t matter how many of those little white pills for the headaches or pain killers combined—I have no choice to suffer through it by way of hiding away in bed all day in a dark, quiet bedroom just trying to breathe through the tears and the excruciating pain that in the moment, seems endless. I refuse to go back to another ER—even on those bad days. I won’t do it. I refuse to put myself through the circus of trying one cocktail of meds after another…with only a brief, temporary period of relief—if that–and no real answers or solutions to why I’m still having these headaches—over 4 months now since the accident—and why none of the dozen or so different meds I’ve tried have worked. I don’t see the point of putting myself through that. It’s insane. Literally—it’s INSANE…the definition of insane is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. That’s what I’ve been doing. I keep going back, thinking that maybe one of these doctors will give me something for these headaches that actually works. Or at the very least, give me some kind of explanation as to why this is happening…and when I can expect all this to go away. Because the headaches will go away. Or so I’ve been told. Eventually, they will go away. I’d just like to know when, so I know how much longer I’ve got to live with the pain. Because right now, not having an expiration date on these headaches, it all just seems really hopeless. But yeah, after next week, I’m done with the doctors for a while. Other than that, I really only just need to meet with my lawyer about the case and then I can get out of New York. We were supposed to meet last week, but he was called into court the morning of our meeting and had to cancel. While I could just have him answer my questions over the phone or by email as we’ve been doing, I figure that since I’m already up here, we might as well have a face-to-face meeting at least once before I head back down to Tennessee…and I really want to get everything squared away BEFORE I go back so I don’t have to worry about any loose ends to deal with once I’m gone.


**

Once I’m down in TN, I don’t think I’ll be coming back up to NY for a visit for a long while. A really, really long while. I love my family, I do. But these past four months…they’ve made me more certain now than ever that what I did—moving 900 miles away to Nashville—was the best decision I ever made. And this place, this town, this entire area—it doesn’t feel like home to me anymore. Which is really weird, but it’s the truth. I don’t feel like I belong here…and a part of me can’t help but wonder if I ever did, or if that was just something that I convinced myself of. I honestly never thought I’d be the one to leave. Never in a million years. I never thought I’d be happy living 900 miles away from my family…spending holidays and celebrating birthdays without them. Away from the little ones that are–without a doubt–my heart and soul. But I did find it…happiness. In fact, I’m happier in Tennessee than I’ve been in years.


**

But as seems to be the case with most good things in life I’ve found–happiness is a double-edged sword. With it comes the guilt of leaving everyone and everything behind. I know that moving to Nashville was a good decision…the right decision…and I don’t for a second regret that decision. I’ve made some pretty reckless, spur-of-the-moment decisions in my life…but this time was different. I thought long and hard on the decision to move to TN before I made it. I knew going in that it wasn’t going to be easy. I also knew that I wasn’t just leaving my family and friends behind. I was leaving my old life behind. And in a sense, I was leaving the old me behind as well—the broken girl with haunted eyes and a tragic past. That was one of the hardest obstacles I had to face in moving…the letting go of who I was. But at the same time…it was the easiest, because I really didn’t like who I was…who I’d become as a result of some events of the preceding recent years. I allowed people to intimidate, bully, and mold me into someone that I wasn’t…someone that I’d always sworn I would never become…someone that I despised with every fiber of my being. I felt so unaccomplished. A failure. Looking back—at that point—there really was nowhere else to go but up.


**

They say you can’t start over, that you can’t wipe the slate clean…but that’s exactly what I’ve done…what I’m doing. It’s easy in Nashville. Everyone is so nice and welcoming and they make you feel like you’re part of the fold…like you belong. It’s like a breath of fresh air…a huge change from how things are here in New York, that’s for sure. I’m really lucky because I’ve made a lot of really great friends since I’ve moved to Nashville, people that I really feel like I can trust, despite having only known them less than a year. I’m not lying to them or pretending to be someone that I’m not, if that’s what anyone thinks—what with the whole clean slate and all. It’s not like that. Granted, I haven’t exactly been overly forthcoming about what ALL that sent me running down to Tennessee, but I’ve been pretty open about most everything else. My guy BFF down in Nashville—Alan—he just looooves to tease me that he’s going to write a screenplay about my life one day because of all the crazy family/personal/love life/WTF-filled stories of mine that I’ve shared with him. He thinks they’re absolutely hilarious. But what’s really funny is that he doesn’t even know the half of it. Oh, the things I could tell him…but won’t. A girl has to have some secrets, doesn’t she?


**

So that’s pretty much where I’m at right now. Excited to go back and see all my friends–my “Tennessee family”…and feeling guilty for being excited to leave…and of course, all sorts of anxious and stressed out about feeling guilty for being excited about leaving. It’s a vicious, vicious cycle. An unavoidable one, unfortunately. If I were one of those people that believed that everything happens for a reason—and I am—then I would have to say that there must be a reason why I moved to Tennessee…a greater purpose that I’m just not aware of yet. One thing I do know is that I’m happy there…and for now, that’s enough for me. In fact, right now…it’s everything. The rest…I can figure out later…


**

xo MESSIE

What A Mess.

Can’t sleep. I’ve got too much on my mind…

I have my appointment with the neurologist today. My friend Alan was asking me the other day if I was nervous about it. I’m not really nervous, per se. Anxious is more like it. I just want to get it over with, to tell you the truth. And can you really blame me? It’s been over a month now. I’ve been to the ER and clinics probably a dozen times now–seen about that many doctors, if not more. I’ve been poked and prodded, tested, tried a dozen different meds…and I’m no closer to a cure or answer to these headaches than I was a month ago. According to my primary doc, there’s a good chance that there may be nothing we CAN do about them. I don’t want to believe that, but then, I’m so tired of the meds and the doctors. Above all, I’m sick of the headaches. My world pretty much consists of good days and bad days. And the good days aren’t really good days. They’re just days when the headaches are tolerable to the degree that I don’t wish I were one of those 2nd Amendment weirdo fanatics with the ability and means to literally put an end to them, once and for all. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not suicidal. I’m not. But you have no idea what it’s like to be in constant pain. I even wear sunglasses inside the majority of the time because the lights hurt–that’s how bad it is. And it’d be one thing if it were a here and there thing. But it’s not. It’s constant. And it sucks. It’s hell. Absolute physical hell. And I just want it to stop. So I can get back to my life. I want that so badly. So, so badly. At this point, I’d pretty much do anything to make that happen. To make them stop. Hopefully this doc will have the answers that the others didn’t. Hopefully. 😦

Moreover, today’s the day the others go before the family court judge about my nieces, Emma and Ava. My sister and grams hired a lawyer and they’re going to request that my grams be granted temporary custody of the girls while the whole thing gets situated…and I’m hoping beyond hope for a miracle–that the judge grants the request. It’s been almost a week since we’ve seen them and I miss them like crazy. It’s insane how quiet it’s been without them here. It just doesn’t feel right. It feels like something’s missing. Because something is. And that something is them. Honestly–and though I hate to admit it for fear I’ll somehow jinx things or something–I’m not holding my breath or anything for any good outcomes. I want to believe that the system will work the way it should and that justice will prevail for once…but history has given me nothing but doubt. Lots and lots of doubt. It’s hard to trust a system that you’ve seen fail you and so many people so many times over the years. It’s so hard. And yet, I want to hold on to the hope. Because it’s all that we have. All that my family and my grams have. All that those girls have. And in the end, that’s what matters. That’s ALL that matters. Those girls. Only them and no one else.

I keep thinking about them. They’re all I can think about. I’ve seen pics on Facebook that her boyfriend’s mother has posted–for show, no doubt–of them…and I don’t know what to think. It’s hard to explain, but they just don’t look or seem like the girls we know. Their smiles aren’t their smiles. They aren’t them. I wonder if they’ve asked about us. If they’ve asked to come home. If they’ve cried and begged. Pleaded with their mother to be returned to the place and the people they’ve known their whole lives. I can’t believe her. She makes me angry. So damn angry. How can she do this to them? Her own kids. It’s unconscionable. So wrong. And yet…It’s so her. God, I’d love to knock her off her high horse. Oh, yes.

At the same time, I can’t help but think about where the outcome of tomorrow’s hearing puts me in terms of my return to Nashville. The plan was to see the doctors and go back. After all, I have a lease and an apartment down there that I’m paying for…where my stuff is…where my responsibilities are. I have school starting in a couple of weeks. I can’t just not go back. And yet, I can’t just leave with things so up in the air like they are right now with the girls. It’s so complicated. And I’m so conflicted. I need to go back, yet I need to stay. And I can’t choose. I just can’t.

So I won’t. At least not right now.

But soon. I know. For soon, I’ll have no choice… :/

xoMESSIE

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