Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cortisone Shots for the Unitiated

For those of you who are new to this blog, my intent was to share some of the challenges of gardening with a chronic injury or illness, arthritis and a back injury, in my case, and some of the solutions I have used to continue (hence the "stubborn" in the title). Some of these problems and resolutions may even help those of you who are perfectly fit. I certainly hope so!

If you are suffering from joint pain, you may get to a point where your doctor recommends cortisone shots. At that point you may cringe visibly, shudder violently and make haste for the exit. I can, of course, only speak from my own experience. The very idea of having a needle going through the skin and all the way into a joint which is already screaming at you is usually enough to give anyone the cold grozzells.

I personally put it off as long as possible.

Eventually, though, the nagging of joint pain overcame my inability to even entertain the idea of shots and the first set, one for each side of my back, was scheduled. I won't lie - the first time was awful. Mostly due to fear on my side; fear somehow always makes pain worse. I swore I'd never get another one. Until 2 days later when my pain was completely gone. Huh. Who'd'a thunk it?

The next time I needed some relief, almost 6 months later, my doctor mildly suggested a sedative to 'help me cope with the stress of the injections'. I could have kissed him. Drugs were duly administered and after that set of shots, as I staggered out to the car, I told my husband that maybe these shots were OK after all. I'm not sure what was funny about that, but he laughed most of the way home.

I have since worked out a schedule of sorts to cope with the shots. I always schedule them for a Friday afternoon, my darling spouse drives me, and my doctor provides me with a lovely anti-anxiety medicine that knocks me loopy for the duration. Without the added stress of fear, the shots are usually quite tolerable. Fortunately, I only seem to need them every 6 months or so, unless I do something stupid like trying to unload mulch from the pickup truck by myself. Ahem.

For anyone considering cortisone injections, talk to your doctor about sedatives if you're as nervous (read terrified) as I was. There is absolutely no excuse for you to suffer both from pain AND fear during your treatment. If your doctor is not sympathetic, consider finding one who is. My doctor is a pain management specialist with an orthopedic group who is just as willing to consider mental pain as physical.

Best of luck to anyone who is considering this treatment or who has already endured it. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments section - I'd be happy to expand on any points!

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