Front to back: enough pain for one day, thanks

Since my hernia repair surgery in January, I've been in pain. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. When it's a little, it feels like I'm being pinched by an especially binding undergarment. When it's a lot, it feels like someone is grinding a red-hot cigarette lighter into my crotch after they took the trouble to sharpen it on a bench grinder.

I know stories shouldn't begin with backstory, as it borks the power of the narrative, but as this is non-fiction, bear with me, OK?

After a few months, I grew desperately tired of being in pain, so went back to the surgeon. He tried injecting some numbing/anti-inflammatory goo, shot deep into the tissues. The "numbing" part was novocaine, and was supposed to provide instant and complete relief, as well as prevent the anti-inflammatory stuff from hurting. However, as I've noted previously, I'm mostly immune to novocaine. The surgeon's response was, "Well... sorry, but that's the mix. It won't take long; you'll just have to tough it out."

He was right about it not taking very long, at least by the clock. In point of fact, though, the procedure hurt like hell, and made the pain worse for days afterwards.

At a later evaluation, the surgeon wanted to wait it out for a month or so. Still no improvement. I'm as good as the next guy at playing through the pain, but ...

Referred to a pain specialist, I was told that it might go away on its own in eighteen months or so. Opting for treatment instead, I got a prescription for pills that did nothing for the pain in my crotch, but did make me dizzy, stupid and made the roof of my mouth get horribly raw and painful. I stopped the pills.

I also made today's appointment to have another injection, this time guided by an X-ray imager to target the medicine directly onto the inflamed nerve. As is typical for procedures that involve big-ass needles and injections of lots of goo, the first step is to use a little needle on the already sensitive and painful area. The big-ass needle hurts like hell, so they like to deaden the targeted area first.

With novocaine.

Back when I first met him 6 weeks ago, I told the pain specialist that novocaine doesn't work on me. He didn't seem to believe me. "Well, then how do you get things done at the dentist?", he asked. "I ask for multiple injections and I tough it out," I said. He remained skeptical, and didn't bother to write this information down anywhere. He didn't mention it during the prep discussion of today's procedure. I didn't either; what was the point?

There, see? I'm mixing in backstory right in the middle of the narrative. That's an asequential break, done to delay my description of what happened when the big-ass needle was jabbed into the part of my crotch that was supposed to be numbed with novocaine, but was in fact even more painfully sensitized by the hard rubbing with alcohol wipes and the first needle.

You can feel the tension building, can't you?

Should I be coy and use Byzantine curlicues to describe it?

Or should I be all Stieg Larsson and get graphic with profanity-laced veritas?

Neither, of course. I will just say that I think I pulled a muscle in my back writhing on the table, fighting the instinct to tear myself up and away from that pain, since any movements more significant than clenched shuddering would have driven that big-ass needle chipping directly down onto my pelvic bone.

Which I didn't want.

I almost vomited from the pain, something I haven't done since my horrible migraine days of yore.

In recovery, I waited the fifteen minutes or so the doctor said it would take for it to get fully effective. When he came in, he had the good sense not to say, "It feels better, right?". Instead he asked, "Do you feel any better?", to which I said, "No, not really. I don't feel any difference." I did not say "And guess what? My crotch still hurts, and now my back does too." Not relevant, really.

He then said a bunch of stuff which boiled down to, I hit the nerve square on (no shit), so if that didn't work then we should just wait and see how it goes.

I could have suffered rotten pain on my own, and for free, too. In the future, I think that's what I'll do. I'm sure that tomorrow I'll be back to my usual stiff-upper-lip, everything's-fine-thanks-how-are-you self. For today, though, I make no promises to eschew unguarded language.

Is it any wonder that I have felt incapable of writing anything light and funny for months?

p.s. I know there are many people who have endured or are currently enduring more debilitating pain than I am. This makes me feel thankful that I am not them, that I have health insurance, and that I am as devastatingly handsome as I ever was. However, thankful as I am that my situation isn't worse, I'm still in pain, so suck it.

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. Eee gads, that is dreadful.

    I had a similar experience when I tried to get the varicose veins on my legs treated - very painful...

    Small needles to give you stuff to manage the big needles...
    Telling them over and over, Valium doesn't work on me...
    Ending up in extreme pain for months due to the surgical procedures (much worse than the original condition)
    I think I actually had PTSD in my legs for a couple years - couldn't even let a massage therapist touch them a year later

    Get better and hang in there - I'm sure it will just take time - yeah, that was really comforting, wasn't it?!

    Sorry you have to go through this, and I hope you can find someone who can actually help!

  2. Yes, I too hope you can find someone who will a) listen to you, and b) give you something that gives you some relief.

    Bless your heart. It won't really help, but have a hug. xx

  3. Good lord! It seems like they could cut the nerve or something. Maybe another doctor might have a better suggestion?

  4. Seconding the idea of a second opinion.

  5. That sounds as bad as my spinal tap procedure. At least the lidocaine works on me, but it doesn't really matter if it's numb or not when the doctor continually hits bone with the needle and then once he's finally in the spinal cord itself doesn't like the angle so tries again! (which, if no one's had an spinal tap, it's like being hit with a jolt of lightning).

    Find a better doctor, one who listens to you and knows how to treat nerve pain. You can even ask them about Botox - it's working for the nerves in my vocal cords and my stuttering issue is slowly going away.

    Laura, one thing I've learned from my current medical problems is that cutting the nerves or paralyzing them, is only temporary. The brain creates new pathways around the dead nerves. Too bad when it's doing that, it doesn't make the initial problem go away. :/

    Tony, don't be afraid to ask for different pain meds. I've tried dozens and now take Tramadol, usually halving or quartering the pills so I'm still able to think.

    Best of luck healing!

  6. OK, seriously? Why the hell didn't they put you out, cold, unconscious, for that big ass needle?
    Unbelievable what doctors put you through.
    All this and you're still funny (last paragraph made me giggle).
    Chin up, cupcake, and get better soon!

  7. Thanks, guys. This has been a distinctly sub-par day, but it certainly felt better to toss it all out there.

    Tony Noland: Spinning straw into gold since 1978.

    p.s. Know one of the real sucky aspects of this? The way the nurses & orderlies look at you sidelong. "This guy got a full dose of novocaine and *still* cried like a little girl when he got the needle. What a wimp."

  8. I wish I could say something encouraging. If, in fact, the pain is from nerve damage I empathize and suggest you go to some transcendental meditation classes. Nerve pain is a bitch. Trust me, I know. And every time they put a needle near that nerve...well, don't let them put a needle near that nerve. Why do you think so many of my #Fridayflash stories are depressing? I'm trying hard to write more humor, though.

  9. Good Gravy that's rough. I've been through two c-sections and a botched gas tap so I can relate, dude. You half want to trust the doctors to do what's best for you, but you also don't want them to suck at it.

    BTW: A gas tap is where they stick a needle the thickness of a meat-thermometer into your fecking wrist and dig around until they find an artery. I felt like I was being effing crucified.

    Hang in there, sport. I hope you feel better soon.

  10. Yikes! I did not realize you were experiencing so much pain. So sorry to hear that. I hope you can find some relief for it soon.


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