Yesterday I had my initial appointment at the Pain Clinic, which I was surprised came about so quickly as I understand there is a very long wait-list.
I am going to be 100% honest here and say when the doctor (we will refer to him as Dr. O) initially walked in I was taken aback by his age as he looked quite elderly. Cut to when Dr. O said he knew my deceased grandfather (who if alive would now be in his 90’s) and mentioned that my Papa had been at his wedding that my ageism really kicked in. It was t his point that I mentally told myself to stop being an asshole and appreciate this man’s wealth of knowledge and experience.
From that point on, I felt like it was the first appointment where a specialist actually took my chronic pain seriously and wanted to dig deeper into why it continues to progress.
Dr. O reviewed the 24 page questionnaire I filled out prior to the appointment (a lot of which was useless as I don’t have a back or neck injury) and talked through my experience since having jaw surgery in December 2013.
One of the things I found interesting was that the Dr. O told me almost immediately that it was unfortunate that they (the clinic) couldn’t explore medical marijuana at this time because there had been little to no research conducted regarding its therapeutic properties given that it has been a banned substance for so long. I explained that one of the questions I had was actually about the efficacy. Dr. O reiterated what he had said previously, which was that the medical community just didn’t know enough about weed (my word not his) yet to be prescribing it to patients for pain. This is an avenue I am going to explore myself as SO many people have reached out to me with anecdotal evidence of its efficacy, but that’s another post 😊
We continued to review my medical history and Dr. O mentioned that he was going to order me a bone scan to ensure there was nothing nefarious going on and that he would also like me to see another doctor that specializes in TMJ.
At this point I asked Dr. O what he thought about injecting cortisone into my right jaw joint and he said that he didn’t like to use cortisone as it can actually damage the joint and break down cartilage. Another interesting fact as I had assumed cortisone was the go-to for any kind of severe joint pain. This appointment was challenging my assumptions on many fronts 😉
When I told him how much trouble I had sleeping and that I relied on two Gravol nightly to even fall asleep he was sympathetic and wrote me a prescription for Amitriptyline, which apparently in addition to helping you fall asleep can also positively affect your mood. Best part? It is non-habit forming. I have never taken a sleeping pill because I have heard how wonderful they are on top of being highly addictive.
Dr. O was so positive, reassuring and confident that we could get to the bottom of what was causing my chronic pain and find a solution that would give me back my quality of life. I almost cried.
I mentioned to Dr. O that I had had a particularly bad migraine on Monday afternoon that lasted until Tuesday night. He asked if I would be open to him injecting my neck and back with local anesthetic to ease the pain in the trigger points that were aggravating my head. After I agreed he marked an area on my right, sub-occipital region (the meaty part where your neck meets the base of your skull) and the point where my scapula attaches to my shoulder on my back. After he injected me in these two areas I felt immediate relief. IMMEDIATE!!!!!!!!
I left the appointment with a follow-up appointment booked for a month’s time to see how the Amitriptyline was working. Dr. O also mentioned that I should try 600mg of magnesium, orally, as it might make a difference in my migraines. I had mentioned that I tried applying it topically and he was quite adamant that orally was best [insert joke here].
For the first time in a long time I feel hopeful that relief is in my future and that is a wonderful thing.