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